Pulling into port the destroyer Harekaze got a lot of attention, its red markings and unexpected arrive drawing the eyes of all. Crews of already docked warships fill the decks of their ships and the dock workers, and locals line the docks staring at the newly arrived ship, all of them with their eyes locked on the Harekaze as it slowly makes its way into the port. As the ship gets closer to land, it’s the crew of the ship rather than the ship itself that gets more attention from the men. Everyone stares wide-eyed and shocked as they see a group of school girls onboard crewing the small destroyer as it arrives.
The Harekaze slowly comes to a halt and dock workers quickly work to tire mooring lines stopping the ship from drifting away, just touching down on the dock is Minna and Mio who gently float down as the dock workers move away from giving them a wide circle to land inside. The rest have the five hundred and first have already returned to base, Minna gave the order since the ship is now safe to port and out of danger. Scarred and battered, the destroyer Harekaze and her crew are finally safe and secure in a friendly but unfamiliar port. The Harekaze’s Captain Misaki and Deputy Captain Shiro are soon disembarking walking towards where Minna and Mio wait for them now free of their Striker Units, the two pairs of commanders meet on the flat concrete surface of the docks each wanting to know more about the other.
“Come with me I’ll take us somewhere we can talk,” Minna says as the two pairs meet, but before she starts to walk, she asks. “Before we go is anyone else from the ship gong to join us?”
“No everyone else is taking inventory and making repairs,” Misaki answers, and concern soon shows in Minna’s eyes.
“How bad is the damage to your ship?” Minna asks concerned over the crew’s wellbeing. “Is any member of your girls hurt?”
“Only cuts and bruises,” Misaki reassures her. “Nothing too severe and the ship only suffered minor damage, only the radio our was damaged, and we just need to make a few small repairs to the engine.”
“That’s good” Minna replies with a small smile. “Follow me.”
Minna leads the group of four towards a two-story building on the docks, that before the war was a shipping company used the building but now the naval forces stationed here uses its main floors as offices and its basement as storage. The building is made of red bricks and has large windows looking out in every direction, the roof is flat and on top of the building surrounding by sandbags is a pair of anti-aircraft guns.
As the group walks in, they pass a couple of soldiers who salute the girls as they pass by and step inside the building, on the inside they see the building is empty apart from a few women sat behind desks typing on typewriters. Minna leads the group into a small empty room on the second floor which is currently being used as a meetings where they can talk privately, inside the room there is a large table with four chairs ever side. The group quietly takes their seats with both sets of commanders sitting down opposite each other, Minna quickly clears her throat before beginning.
“So you said you were from Japan, where exactly is that country?” Minna asks the question bugging her ever since she heard them say their homeland was Japan.
“It’s in the far east,” Misaki tells her quickly. “Where are we right now?”
“You’re in Britannia, in the town of Folkestone” Minna answers just as quickly but see slows down as she sees the confused looks on both Misaki’s and Shiro’s faces. “You haven’t heard of it have you?”
“No,” Both girls’ replies shaking their heads, Shiro then adds. “There’s a country called Britain which used to be called Britannia.”
“Have you heard of the parallel universe theory?” Minna asks the girls who shake their heads in response even Mio looks at her commanding office in confusion. “Well it says there are multiple worlds, some can be only slightly different well others could be completely different. I can only guess this is what happened here, your crew and your ship must have come from one of those universes.”
“But that crazy!” Shiro bursts out much louder than she meant to, her cheeks redden as she quickly looks down focusing her attention on her hands. “It sounds like something Koko would make up.”
“I find it hard to believe too,” Misaki says.
“Me too.” Mio even adds still looking at her girlfriend like she’s crazy. “It doesn’t seem real.”
“Let’s face the facts,” Minna tells everyone present. “You arrive through a strange storm, you don’t know Britannia, and we don’t know Japan but what has me thinking about the parallel universe theory is real, and you are proof of that because you don’t know about the Neuroi. They are trying to wipe out the human race, and you and your crew never heard of them” Minna pauses to what she is saying sink in before continuing. “Add all that together, and that theory seems to have been proven correct here today.”
“If that’s true that means…” Shiro says shaking and with tears pooling in her eyes. “We can’t go home.”
“We will try and figure out a way, but until then I would like to make you and your crew an offer,” Minna replies feeling worried that the Deputy Captain of the Harekaze is about to break down. “We can keep you supplied, protect you and help get you home if you and your ship acts as our back up. Protecting our base if anything gets through us, they typically don’t, but we need a defense there just in case.”
“Minna are you sure about this?” Mio whispers into the red-haired commander. “This isn’t their war, and they could get hurt.”
“Yes I am, we need a defense just as a backup,” Minna answers looking at the two ship captains watching as they quietly discuss this offer. “You know as well as I do that it is unlikely the Neuroi will get by us and attack them.”
“Ok if you are sure then I agree,” Mio replied with a smile of her own. “As long as we don’t pressure them to accept.”
“You know I am not like that,” Minna tells her girlfriend before she turns and notices the commanders of the Harekaze appears to have come to a decision. “So have you decided on what you want to do?”
“Yes,” Misaki answers sounding nervous and slightly scared. “We will take you up on your offer.”
The group of commanders returns to the destroyer Harekaze, both Minna and Mio decided to travel back to their base on the ship showing the crew how to get there and where they can anchor their ship. They all take one of the Striker Unit’s leg piece each and climb aboard the Harekaze to find most of the girls that crew it sat on the deck doing nothing. Most of them are looking around at the other ships and making comments about them while a few who aren’t interested in all that and are just sat there reading from a book.
Almost as soon as they are onboard Koko runs up to them holding her white tablet that is instantly catching the three eyes of the witch commanders, she walks up to the Harekaze Captain and Deputy Captain to make her report on the ship’s damage. Both Minna and Mio can’t seem to take their eyes off of the white device in Koko’s hands, never of them has seen anything like it before and can’t even begin to figure out what it does and how it does what it does. To them, it just looks like a white block, so they stare at it confused as to what its purpose is.
“Misaki we fixed the radio and Maron said the engine would take another half an hour to repair,” Koko reports as she reaches the group of commanders.
“Is there any supplies you need?” Minna asks still staring at the device Koko holds.
“No, we were only just resupplied a few hours before we entered that storm…” Koko answers pausing to check the data on her tablet, Minna’s jaw nearly hits the floor as she watches the white tablet’s screen light up and her finger swipe across the tablets display rapidly switching between different documents. “We have eighty percent ammunition, our food and water stores are full, and our medical supplies are also full.”
“What is that?” Mio asks being blunt as usual while she takes a step forward to get a better look at the tablet Koko is holding.
“It’s a tablet computer, a portable computer we mainly use to record damage, take stock of our supplies, and it can also be used for taking pictures and videos,” Koko tells her.
“There are computers this small now,” Minna says taping her fingers lightly on the tablet’s screen to make sure it’s real, she can’t believe a machine can be that little because all the ones she saw in the past have been massive taking up large rooms.
“Yeah, most of the Harekaze is controlled by computers,” Shiro tells them wondering how a simple computer can surprise these two young women. “It makes it easy for a small crew to monitor the ship.”
“You have more computers?” Mio asks looking around the ship.
“Yeah the turrets are controlled remotely from a single room inside the ship, and we have a few laptops and some more tablets onboard” Misaki answers look at the stunned faces of the two witches. “Don’t you have computers?”
“Not this small,” Minna replies looking at Koko tablet. “What year do you think it is?”
“Two thousand one hundred and sixteen” Misaki answers slightly confused as to why she is asking her something everyone should know; it’s been a hundred years since the plate subductions caused many other countries to be submerged. “Why do you ask?”
“Because it’s nineteen forty-four right now,” Minna tells them causing everyone is earshot to go so quiet you can hear a pin drop. “And that’s one more piece of evidence that proves my theory may be correct.”
An hour later the destroy Harekaze drops its anchor just off the coast next to the base of the Five Hundred and First Joint Fighter Wings base, the massive structure dominates the landscape reminding the crew of the Harekaze of the castles they read about in fairy tales when they were children. They all stare at the building in awe as they have never seen anything like it before, most of the castles of the world are now ever under water or privately owned by some wealthy so seeing one is a rare thing for the destroyer’s crew to experience. As the sun is starting to set the bases lights are turned on making it stand out even more and appear to be sparkling.
A long runway sticks out of the castle like a tongue sticking out someone’s mouth and standing on its flat, smooth tarmac surface is every member of the Five Oh First watching as the destroy Harekaze come to a halt. Minna has already radioed ahead to let them know they were coming and having Trude assemble the witches so they can meet the crew of the destroyer. Minna and Mio softly float back to the rest of the witches in their Striker Units while the crew of the Harekaze sail to the shore on their lifeboats, the witches hurriedly make their way to the beach to meet them lead by Minna and Mio.
They have all only just linked up on the sandy shore of the beach when a fat cat suddenly runs ahead of the Harekaze’s crew, Isoroku runs so fast and hard that when he reaches the group of witches, he can’t stop. He runs into Yoshika so hard that she is knocked off of her feet and fall down on the beach knocking up sand all around her.
“Sorry,” Misaki says as she runs up to the downed brown haired girl, she reaches out her hand to the girls laying before her as Isoroku slowly walks off. “Isoroku usually only runs at Shiro like that.”
“Don’t worry I’m fine,” Yoshika replies taking the hand that’s in front of her as she gets back up.
“Why do you have a cat on board anyway?” A stern questioning voice asks, Misaki looks to see a tall, strong looking girl staring at her with her hands on her hips.
“Captain Barkhorn,” Yoshika replies but Trude ignores her instead she focus’s all her attention on the stranger in front of her.
“He snuck aboard,” Misaki answers the question. “By the time we found him it was too late to turn back, but he has been a big help to our ship, he helps keep the rats at bay.”
“You have rats on your ship,” Trude asks as a shiver goes down her spine, one of the few weakness she hides so well is her fear of the rats.
“Thanks to Isoroku we don’t,” Misaki tells her as Isoroku brushes up against her leg, she picks up the large cat like he doesn’t way a thing. “Isoroku always catches any that come aboard.”
“Can I stroke him?” Lucchini asks appearing out of nowhere walking up to Misaki and Isoroku.
“Sure he’s really friendly,” Misaki replies as she watches Lucchini’s face light up as her gentle stroking hand makes Isoroku purr, she smiles as he brushes his head against her hand.
“Captain Misaki shell we start?” Minna asks walking over to her.
“Sure,” Misaki says, but Trude’s look of disbelief stops her.
“You’re the Captain of the ship?” Trude asks her looking surprised to see someone so young in charge of a deadly warship.
“Yes, I am,” Misaki tells her before walking off leaving her Trude with her mouth hanging wide open.
Minna and Misaki walk to the center of the group and get the witches and the crew of the Harekaze attention; both leaders take a deep breath knowing what they are about to say will shock everyone present. They tell everyone about Minna’s theory of the Harekaze being transported here by a storm from another universe; unsurprisingly everyone is shocked to hear this. They pause to let the news sink in before they tell them about the deal they have made, that the Harekaze and her crew will fight in a war to defend this base in exchange for supplies until they can find a way back to their world.
Some of the girls that crew the ship look frightened while the others look even more shocked, Misaki seems to calm most of them down by saying they will only be acting as a backup which seems to work on half the girls. The others still look terrified, both commanders again wait before saying their final piece. They tell everyone that they will be working together until the Harekaze and the girls that crew her can be returned home, so they end it by telling the girls to get to know each other. So the two group quickly start to talk amongst themselves, splitting into small groups as the two commander’s watch.
“I will try and contact a friend of mine tonight,” Minna says to Misaki as they watch.
“Excuses me but are you a doctor?” Yoshika asks as she and Lynne walk up to a black haired girl wearing a white coat.
“I’m the ship’s medical officer,” The girl replies looking over the two witches. “Kaburagi Minami.”
“I’m Yoshika,” Yoshika introduces with a small bow. “And this is my friend, Lynne.”
“It’s nice to meet you” Lynne shyly adds with a smile.
“I nice to meet both of you too,” Minami says her face blank.
“I want to become a doctor one day,” Yoshika tells her. “I want to take over my family’s clinic.”
“Cì zǐ qiān jīn bù rú jiào zǐ yī yì,” Minami replies leaving the two witches confused, a small smile creeps on her face before she tells them. “It means gaining a skill has great value for the future, in your case learning to heal will save a lot of lives in the future”
“Yoshika has already saved lives,” Lynne says. “Captain Barkhorn’s, several wounded sailors on the Akagi and she helped me not get in everyone way.”
“Then it sounds like you are already on your way to full filling your dream,” Minami tells Yoshika making the young Fuso witch blush.
“I still got a long way to go,” Yoshika replies with a shake of her head. “I’m still now where near as good as my mother and grandmother are.”
“But you are still a skilled healer yourself from what I just heard,” Minami says.
“She’s right Yoshika,” Lynne adds. “You were the one that told me you shouldn’t underestimate yourself.”
“What do you we about fighting those things Tama,” Irizaki Mei asks her fellow weapons chief. “How do you feel about fighting an unbeatable force?”
“Fine,” Is all Tama quietly replies looking up at her friend.
“Well, it gives me something to shoot at,” Mei says raising her fist to the sky unaware that three of the witches are watching her and Tama.
Erica snickers as she watches the pair of weapons chiefs talk with Eila and Sanya, she nudges Eila with her elbow as she says. “It’s like staring into a mirror don’t you think? A quiet silvered hair girl and a nosy girl, if only they were lovers too.”
“We are not like that!” Eila yells as she turns bright red causing every girl around her to look her way which only makes her red check turn even redder, Sanya just looks at her confused as to what is happening. Eila then adds more quietly.“How many time do I have to tell you that?”
“I’ll stop when you stop denying it,” Erica says in a teasing voice as she walks away melting into the group of girls leaving Eila to burn with embarrassment.
“Eila are ok?” Sanya asks touching the older witches forehead. “Your face is all red but don’t feel like you have a fever.”
“I’m ok Sanya,” Eila replies looking down hiding her red face from the crowd of girls staring at her. “I’m all right.”
Meanwhile, Trude walks around looking at the girls that just arrive in her world; they don’t look like much Trude thinks as looks them all over. Most of them still have fear in their eyes as the talk with the witches, and she still can’t believe that Misaki is the captain of the ship, ship captains are usually older with countless hours at sea under their belt, not young girls. Trude keeps on walking and looking; her wondering eyes finally fall open one of the newly arrived girls. She is sat on the ground with her knees up to her face and her face hidden behind her legs, speaking to her is the Harekaze commanders Misaki Akeno and Munetani Mashiro. Whatever they are saying to her seems to be working because as Trude gets closer, she looks up. As she looks up she quickly spots Trude approaching her, and her eyes alert the two commanders. They all turn to face her as she reaches them, she stops just in front of them before she speaks.
“You lot don’t act like soldiers,” Trude says as she stares at the girl on the floor who quickly buries her face again.
“We aren’t soldiers,” Misaki replies as she bends down to comfort the scared girl.
“Then why are you manning a warship?” Trude asks confused, wondering why some girls have been giving control over a deadly ship, one that’s heavily armed. “Ships like that aren’t toys.”
“We know that,” Shiro tells her, Trude now looks at her waiting for the answer that would end her confusion. “We are training to be Blue Mermaids. They are peacekeepers who work to prevent wars from breaking out.”
“You’re still in training?” Trude asks her confusion giving way to shock, shock that a bunch of rookies was sailing a warship without any supervision.
“Yes but that ended when the other ships were taken over by a virus,” Shiro answers. “Ever since then we have been in one battle after another, trying to save those who have been infected and had their minds taken over by the virus. We had to learn fast to stay alive. We somehow managed to find a cure for the virus and save the crews of several ships.”
Later that night as the sun is setting the witches of the Five-oh First and the crew of the Harekaze decided to have dinner on the beach, Yoshika, Lynne and the kitchen staff from the Harekaze quickly work together to make a meal large enough to feed all the girls. Lynne and Yoshika cook the meat and while Irako Mikan, Kinesaki Homare, and Kinesaki Akane chop up vegetables and other things to add to the meal. Working together the task of cooking such a large meal is made easier, soon the task that should have been difficult becomes fun as the girls work together perfectly.
“Are you three nearly done?” Yoshika asks and is greeted by the three cooks from the Harekaze looking at them with plates full of their chopped goods.
“We just finished, we can add them when you are ready,” Mikan replies handing her tray of chopped up vegetables to the Fuso witch.
Ten minutes later the meal is ready, and the five girls are serving everyone a bowl of the meal they worked so hard together to make, they smile as they watch the comrades enjoy their food before getting some to feed themselves. Soon everyone is eating their dinner, sitting in a big group together on the sandy beach. All though they just meet they all get along, Minna watches everyone with a smile and thinks they can work together better than she had original thought they could. They would need to if the crew of the Harekaze wanted to return to their world.
Happy that everyone is getting along Minna quietly slips away to walk back to her office to make the call to Erica’s sister Ursula hoping she can help her fighter wings new allies and friends. She says her goodbyes to Misaki and tells Mio where she is going before she walks off on feather-light feet towards her office.
Inside her office, Minna finds the stack of paperwork she finished early and several new forms she needs to fill out to make the Harekaze and her crew members of the bases personal. She does feel happy when she sees there isn’t much more paperwork for her to do again only three forms that need filling out. But she ignores all that as she sits down in her comfortable chair and reaches for the phone on her beautiful oak desk, Minna’s fingers move effortlessly to dial the number without her thinking. Making calls to this number has become so regular that her fingers move like clockwork flawlessly dialling the number. Soon she’s leaning back again in her chair waiting for her friend old to pick up.
“Hello,” Ursula answers a few seconds later.
“Ursula it’s Minna,” Minna says happy to hear her friends voice, she hardly sees her since Ursula’s work means she has kept well away from the fighting while Minna is required to be right on the front line all the time. “Somethings happened, and I could use your help.” Minna then explains everything that has happened today, from the appearance of the Harekaze to the meeting with the captain of the ship and coming to the conclusion that they are from another world and that the ship girls world is far more advanced than their own. She tells her friend about the advanced technology the crew of the Harekaze uses and the little she learned about their world from talking to the girls. “What do you think?”
“I believe that it is possible from what you told me,” Ursula says to Minna. “A lot of scientists I know and work with say that parallel world could exist, I will need to run some more tests to see if sending them back is something that we can do. I will have to come to you, to perform those tests. I can get a plane and be there in a week”
“Thank you, Ursula,” Minna replies smiling at the possibility of returning those girls back to their world. She has always been a motherly figure to the girls in her squad wanting to protect and guide them, so it doesn’t surprise her that she feels the same way about the girls that crew the Harekaze. “I’ll see you in a week”
“See you then,” Ursula says.
“Bye,” Minna says before she turns to the presence she senses behind her. “You are getting better Mio, but you still can’t sneak up on me.”
“I will in a few years,” Mio replies with a grin as she steps out of the shadows. “You won’t always have that ability of yours, and the skills I learned trying to sneak up on you while you do I just know will make me a ghost in the future.”
“We will see about that,” Minna tells her as Mio walks up to her and effortlessly sits down on her commander’s lap, she leans her face in so close their lips nearly touch, and Minna can feel her lips tingle as Mio’s breath hit them. “I take it you are not here just to talk.”
“I’m here to finish what we started earlier” Mio whispers before she leans forward and captures Minna’s lips with her own, it’s a kiss both of the witch commanders were waiting for all day and never of them are disappointed. “Shell, we have that bath now?” Mio asks breaking off the kiss. “I believe no one is in there right now.”
“Sure,” Minna answers. “At least this time the Neuroi won’t interrupt us.”
Back on the beach, Isoroku makes himself at home on Yoshika’s lap although it feels like the cats going to crush her legs, the young Fuso witch doesn’t flinch or force the fat cat to move off of her lap. She just smiles and strokes him under the chin with on hand while the other strokes his back, Isoroku just sits there with his eyes closed and purring his little furry head off. Sitting beside her watching her friend enjoy her new big fluffy companion Lynne smiles softly as she too gentle strokes his fur covered back too. It’s been a long time since ever girl has seen a cat since most of the keep their distance from the loud noises of the base, and they are both enjoying having him here with them.
Lynne and her family have several cats, but they keep to themselves and don’t like the company like Isoroku does, every time she went to stroke her cat back home they wold just lay there ignoring her or hiss at her until she moved away. For this reason, Lynne is only lightly stroking him and is ready to pull her hand back at a moment’s notice if the fat cat shows any signs of attacking her, Yoshika on the over hand is stroking the furry feline without hesitation. She has always loved animal and all the time she spent healing wounded animals with her power has made it, so they love her back too, so with more confidence and less fear then her Britannian friend she strokes him enjoying the loud purrs of delight he makes with each move of her hand.
“He’s so friendly but so heavy,” Yoshika cheerfully says as she strokes both of Isoroku’s cheeks making her purr even louder and look up at her with big adorable eyes. “They are so lucky to have a cat on board their ship. I wish we had one in our base.”
“That would be great,” Lynne replies smiling at her friend hiding the slight nervousness she has about the idea of having a cat wandering the halls of the base. She has to tell herself that Isoroku is not like her families cats back home and won’t attack her before she is comfortable with the idea of him hanging around the base. “He’s friendly enough to get along with everyone.”
“I know,” Yoshika says stopping her strokes for just a minute but it’s a minute too long for Isoroku, he loudly meows until Yoshika starts to rub his back again turning his complaints into purrs of happiness.
“He just might hang around your base,” A new voice says, both girls turn around and see the Harekaze’s commander, Misaki stood behind them staring down at the big happy cat with an even bigger smile on her face. “He has a habit of wandering into places he isn’t supposed to go, Isoroku shouldn’t have even been on our ship, but he slipped aboard when no one was looking anyway.”
“So your ship doesn’t normally have cats?” Yoshika asks sounding slightly disappointed. She was just starting to like the idea of cats being part of a ship’s crew.
“Only supply ships do but that mainly to keep their supplies safe from rats and mice. We only have one because he is a stowaway,” Misaki tells them as she moves to sit in front of the two witches and joins in the stoking of the big fat cat, Isoroku meanwhile is in heaven enjoying the attention of the three girls and the feeling of their hands stroking his furry body. “He’s been a great help to our ship, so no one minds the fact he snuck aboard” Misaki looks up while her hand continues to stroke the furry back of Isoroku meeting both girls’ eyes. “I’m Misaki Akeno,” She says extending her hand to the girls. “It’s nice to meet you I don’t think we have been introduced yet.”
“I’m Lynnette Bishop, but you can call me Lynne” Lynne replies first taking her hand and shyly shaking it. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“I’m Yoshika Miyafuji,” Yoshika says second taking the captain’s hand, she hesitates lost in the feel of the captain’s skin and how warm and soft it is. She lets go unaware that Misaki was feeling the same things she had, both girls look down unable to look at each other right now. “It’s nice to meet you too.”
“So Trude, what do you think of the new girls?” Erica asks elbowing her best friend and wingmen.
“I don’t know,” Trude answers. “They don’t act like soldiers or even claim to be soldiers, yet they sail a warship.”
“They are not soldiers Trude,” Erica says. “They said so themselves, they are peacekeepers. Nothing more, nothing less. They are different to soldiers like us; they fight to stop wars while we fight to win them.”
“They better fight to win now,” Trude replies looking at the Harekaze girls as they start to head back to their ship. “They will be killed if they hold back against the Neuroi.”
“You no they won’t be fighting right?” Erica questions. “Minna is only putting them down for that so that Command will give them supplies.”
“I know,” Trude says. “Minna isn’t the type of person to send people to their deaths; they won’t get passed us, and she knows it.”
Soon everyone has left, and the sun has completely disappeared beneath the horizon. All is quiet apart from the sound of Sanya’s Striker Unit as it powers up and takes her off on her night patrol, from the ground Eila watches her go and from the Harekaze the girls stop to stare at her before they disappear into their ship to get ready for bed. Everything is calm and everything is peaceful, it’s easy to forget all about the war and the danger right now. But the danger isn’t over and the struggle is only just beging, the girls on the Harekaze go to sleep unaware of the danger they are in from alien and human alike. No one could have predicted what is about to happen, not the witches or the ship girls.