Misaki stands nervously with Shiro and Minami in a room full of influential people who right now are looking at them, some with small smiles and others looking unhappy to see them. There are five people in this room but three stand out, the first is Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill the Prime Minister of Britannia who looks pleased to see them as the young women next to him, Adolfine Galland the General of the Witch Corps. The last person who stands out is Air Chief Marshal Trevor Maloney; he doesn’t look happy as he stare makes the three girls from the Harekaze uncomfortable. The other two people blend into the back, and like Maloney, they don’t look happy, one appears to be a general while the other looks like an admiral. Finally after several moments of silence and staring Prime Minister Churchill breaks the silence, speaking in a kind purposeful voice he breaks the unpleasant silence in the room.
“You’re Akeno Misaki and Mashiro Munetani the captain and deputy captain of the destroy Harekaze,” Churchill says looking at both girls before turning his attention to Minami. “And you are Minami Kaburagi the ships doctor and the one that came up with this cure to the infection spread by mutated rats, that causes people to become aggressive and attack everyone on sight. The same infection that also caused Flying Officer Sanya V. Litvyak and Pilot Officer Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen to attack members of the squad and your crew.” The looks on everyone’s faces show their concern and fear of a virus of that could turn their forces against them, with the Neuroi here that is the last thing they want to happen. “Miss Kaburagi we would like to know how to make this vaccine you created, for mass production in case any more of those rats came with you.”
“I can make a copy when I get back to the Harekaze and send you a copy sir” Minami replies without hesitation. “It’s not hard to make, and you should be able to mass produce it quickly.”
“Thank you,” Churchill tells her before he looks back at Misaki which causes her to straight up. “Miss Misaki, please step forward,” He tells her as he stands himself, Misaki takes a step forward nervously, and Churchill slowly approaches her his cane causing loud echoes to bounce around the room. “On behalf of the Allied Nations, I am awarding your ship with a Unit Citation of the Allied Forces, for bravery shown when fighting an enemy you didn’t have to and for continue to fight even after you ship was damaged leading to the destruction of this latest Neuroi threat.”
“Thank you, sir,” Misaki says as she accepts a blue ribbon with an image of two shaking hands stitched on it in a golden colored thread.
“You earned it,” He tells her sounding proud. “You didn’t have to fight this Neuroi, it wasn’t your enemy, but you did, and I am grateful for you and your crew defending my homeland” With that said Misaki steps back into line and Churchill retakes his seat. “Now then there is another reason we wanted to talk to you, we want to know about the technology you brought with you, and with your permission use it to improve our own”
“I’m not sure how much use it will be, but we will show you what we have,” Misaki tells him happy to help. “Some of it will be difficult for you to replicate but I’m sure we have some stuff that can help you.”
“I’m sure we can make it” Trevor Maloney states sounding like he wants to be anywhere but here right now. “We have more than enough resources to do so.”
“It isn’t the resources that are the problem, sir,” Shiro says taking over. “Most of the parts need computer-controlled machines to make them, and it’s impossible for a human to make them because of how precise you need to be” All three girls can see the disapproving look Maloney gives them, it’s clear to them now he doesn’t’ like them for some reason. “And others need to be programmed, and you don’t have the technology to do that.”
“We’ll see” He mutters coldly.
“I’m told your ship will be in the dry dock for another month and Wing Commander Wilcke already mentioned in her report that Dr. Hartmann is coming,” Churchill says paying no attention to Maloney’s comment acting like this happened all time. “Please sure her around your ship when you have time, if you have no questions then you are dismissed and please send Wing Commander Wilcke and Squadron Leader Sakamoto in on your way out.”
With that the three girls from the Harekaze leave meeting Mio and Minna on the other side of the door, they both seem eager to hear what happened in that room. Then their eyes widen at the sight of the ribbon in Misaki’s hand, Minna new that they were pleased with the performance of the Harekaze’s crew during the last Neuroi threat but she didn’t think they would give them an award although she does believe they deserve one.
“How did it go in there?” Minna asks them.
“Fine, they just asked us a few questions and gave us this” Misaki replies showing them the ribbon.
“I didn’t think they will give you a Unit Citation,” Mio says staring at it.
“Hasn’t your squad received one?” Shiro asks expecting they must have at least on after hearing about their actions during this war.
“Witch Units aren’t eligible for them” Minna answers. “Maloney made it that way; now we need to get in there we can’t keep them waiting.”
The three girls from the Harekaze wait outside the room hearing a faint thump of the door closing behind them sealing the witch commanders inside, they wait quietly for the most part and just stare at the ribbon they were just awarded. None of them expected to receive an award today, they expected them to ask about the advanced technology and the virus, but they never expected to be awarded. They did what they thought was right; they protected the sea like the Blue Mermaids they want to become do. They did what their future duty told them to do, it wasn’t the first time they put themselves in danger, but it was the first time they were awarded for it. So they stare and wait, stunned into silence by the ribbon they never expected to receive.
“Everyone will have a pleasant surprise when we return,” Misaki says still looking at the ribbon.
The meeting between witch commanders and the high command doesn’t go as well, Churchill and Adolfine were friendly and polite giving the witch’s praise for their achievements so far. They complimented them and their squad before asking some questions about the girls of the Harekaze, mainly about how the two witches thought they were doing and what they thought of them. The two polite people ended the mission by saying the Harekaze’s crew were now official members of the Five Hundred and First Joint Fighter Wing bringing an end to the better part of the meeting; now a grumpy Air Chief Marshal take over. Maloney tells them about their budget being cut and doesn’t hide his distaste for witches in his voice as he speaks. Finally, he ends the meeting after laying out their new budget he dismisses them, and the witches leave. Feeling angry and frustrated they re-join the three girls from the destroyer, those three girls sense the witch’s feelings and can see them written all over their faces. Before the girls can ask the witch commanders what is wrong both Mio and Minna brush them off and tell them that this happens all the time, the two witches leave with the three ship girls still worried but following them out of the building. They head straight from the Allied Headquarters in London to a nearby airfield, their original plan of doing some sightseeing canceled as the five young ladies climb into a jeep they borrowed, and Minna starts the engine.
Through the mist that covers the Atlantic Ocean just as night falls the silhouette of a massive ship can be seen, the setting sun lighting it up perfectly as it silently floats into the sea. The ship slowly sails out of the mist and into view, its large body, heavy guns, and red markings make it stand out in the empty sea. As the massive ship continues its identity becomes apparent, making its way through the storm like the smaller destroyer Harekaze the Yamato-class battleship Musashi has entered the world of the witches and Neuroi. From where the barricade traps she, and several of her crew they made to keep their infected crew out Moeka China stares into the sea around her. She was shaken by that strange storm that engulfed her ship; she doesn’t know where she is just that she is not in the same ocean as she was moments before she entered the storm. The water doesn’t look the same and never does the sky, it colder her too and there is nothing around her but water making the task of finding their location impossible. The infected crew ever doesn’t care or are feeling lucky as they turn east and set a steady speed in that direction, not feeling as confident as them Moeka runs to the nearest wind and stares out into the sea hoping to see anything that will help her find out where they are. But she can’t see anything but water and clouds, sighing and feeling useless she turns back to look at what’s left of her crew. Trapped like she is and just as shaken up by the storm they look to her, looking for answers Moeka can’t give them and orders from their captain, so they know what to do. In truth there is nothing they can do, they are passengers on this ship and can do nothing to alter its course or speed.
The plane ride back is smooth, peaceful and quiet, the crew from the Harekaze are excited and can’t take their eyes off of the windows while the witch commanders look over their revived budget unhappily. None of them have been on a plane before, the airships in their world were mainly unmanned recognizance craft. The few airships that do take people from place to place are for the rich only; tickets can coast more than a family can earn in a lifetime so for people like the girls who crew the Harekaze will never get a place on board them. Flying is nothing like they expected it to be like, they thought they would feel the wind in their hair, but instead, they don’t feel anything but excitement. The plane’s three engines sound so quiet inside the aircraft surprising the three girls who were startled by how loud they were from the outside, once the doors were shut they were relieved that the insides at least were sound proofed. They don’t talk, no one does. The ship girls just smile as they stare out of the window while the witch commanders look unhappily at their piece’s papers, the silence is only broken when Minna looks up. Look across from her she sees her girlfriend scrolling and can’t help but smile at the sight; she takes a moment to savor the sight before she opens her mouth.
“Your displeasure is written all over your face,” Minna says still smiling at the sight. “Calm yourself, you know they are always like that.”
“I don’t like it,” Mio replies looking up. “They have to call us out there just to tell us the budget if fubar.”
“They’re just panicking,” Minna says to her. “They are worried about themselves; we are the only ones getting results.”
“I still don’t like it,” Mio says. “They can’t see anything but their own positions.”
“That’s just how warmongers are,” Minna replies her eyes still fascinated with her girlfriends face, ever since she spoke up she’s been watching as the scroll slowly vanishes from Mio’s face turning into a small smile.
“Those damn bankers think they run the world,” Mio says leaning back into her seat as Eila flies next to the plane. “Eila have you seen any Neuroi yet?”
“Everything’s clear?” Eila replies as she flies past the transport aircraft, everyone inside watches her shoot past them. “You should be able to land safely.”
In her room, Misaki the captain of the Harekaze sit on her bed thinking through what several members of her crew just told her. Two days have passed since they forced her to admit she has a crush on Yoshika and while she was in London, the girls that stay behind has come up with a plan. She doesn’t think it will work; they won’t tell her the details only that she. She can remember it well when they told her they are planning something for tomorrow, she just told them about the award they received when they told her. Worried about what will happen when she wakes up doesn’t help her fall asleep, in the dark about the others plan to set her and Yoshika up together does nothing to ease her worries. Now all she can do is wait and hope, hope their plan doesn’t scare Yoshika away and hope that it somehow works. Laying down on her back she knows she can do nothing about it; it’s up to the rest of her crew. She only wishes that she knew what they are planning, she would feel so much better if she knew what they were planning.
Like Misaki Yoshika too lays awake staring up at the dark shadows on her ceiling unable to find sleep after what the others said, while Misaki and her commanders were in London Erica and Shirley came up with a plan, but everyone else told her they would help. They planned something for tomorrow, they may not have told her that, but she could tell by the way they were acting. Lynne seems to be the only person other than Mio and Minna who is just as clueless about the plan as she is, ever they didn’t tell her because they knew she would say something to Yoshika or the Britannian witch was a lot better at keeping a secret than anyone would have guessed. Yoshika doesn’t know what to do, does she leave her room in the morning and pray their plan works or hide in her room hoping her squad will forget about it and nothing awkward would happen between her and Misaki? She finally gives up and closes her eyes hoping to find sleep, hoping the others plan will work. Whatever it is they are planning, her faith in her fellow squad mates is the only thing that helps her come up with an answer. She will leave her room, and she will hope their plan works, whatever that plan is.
Sanya too is awake, she can’t sleep, but unlike the other two, it is not worried about some plan that keeps her awake its fear. She can’t sleep, not without Eila by her side. With her friend’s arms wrapped around her and warmth engulfing her, as long as Eila’s there to fight off her fears she can sleep knowing her friend will be there when she wakes up. Not some rat that will take control over her body, make her hurt her friends. She still blames and hates herself for it, she brought the rat into the base, infected Eila and attack several girls from the Harekaze. She’s not violent and only attacks the Neuroi to defend herself, her actions that day were nothing like she normally is like. She shivers in fear at the memories of that day which are slowly coming back to her; she feels bad for how she acted and is terrified that one rat could make her do all those things. So at night, she lays awake hugging Eila’s pillow until her friend return to replace it, Eila is a lot like Sanya after finishing her night patrol. Like Sanya stumbled into Eila’s room Eila walks into Sanya’s room, crawls into Sanya’s bed and sleeps there. Sanya doesn’t care though; she lays awake pretending to sleep until her friend gets into her bed. Only then does she sleep, only then does she feel safe.
Sanya is grateful for the others help, Minna took her off night patrol and talked to her about it which helped a little. Everyone else spoke to her too and were being extra friendly to the Orussian witch as she tries to recover from being a prisoner in her own body, it helps her a bit, but the only one that seems to make any real difference is Eila. Eila’s arms make her feel safe, Eila’s voice keeps her calm and just the having Eila at her side is what works the best in helping her recover. It’s only then she can feel like herself, no fear or doubts Sanya just feels like Sanya. She is glad her friend is taking over her night patrol, but she misses having Eila by her side, moving to the window Sanya can see Eila flying through the dark night sky. Sanya can only watch for a second before she runs to her bed and darts under her blankets, overwhelmed by fear she couldn’t help but run. It isn’t the night sky that scares her or the Neuroi it’s Eila or more accurate Eila’s Striker Unit that fills her with fear, Eila has her navigation lights on, and those light remind Sanya of the eyes of that rat. Unable to face those fears she hides willing morning to come quick, for Eila to crawl into bed with her. Only then can she sleep, only then can she be free of these fears.
The next morning as the trumpet blares and Eila collapses onto Sanya’s bed every girl wakes up all over the base, Sanya doesn’t sit up after her sleepless night. Instead, she snuggles closer to Eila finally calm enough to fall asleep herself. Both Yoshika and Misaki did manage to sleep though, despite their worrying about this day they both found sleep and awaken quickly has the horn blares. Both girls feeling confident in the friend’s plan although never has any idea what’s going to happen when they leave their rooms, both finding little sleep but dreamt uniquely different dreams. Misaki dreamt of several plans the others may try today, some were good dreams while others were a nightmare with the worst ending in Yoshika saying she doesn’t want to see her ever again. Yoshika’s dreams were a bit more physical; she didn’t dream of the plans her squad mates might try she dreamt of what will happen after they work. Let’s just say they were very good dreams, dreams which ended in her falling off her bed just as she opens her eyes. She landed with a thud so loud it could be heard all over the base, Lynne quickly walks into her best friend’s bedroom while Misaki along with the other members of the Harekaze’s bridge crew sticks their heads out of their bedroom’s doors and look at each other wondering what that was. Lynne walks up to her friend as Yoshika picks herself up off of the floor knowing what caused her to fall, she heard Yoshika talking in her sleep last night. She feels glad the others didn’t, Lynne and Yoshika are the only ones that sleep in the rooms in this hall.
“Yoshika are you ok?” Lynne asks as she watches Yoshika stand up rubbing her forehead.
“I’m fine I just fell,” Yoshika replies as she stands up. “We are making breakfast today aren’t we.”
“Yes, we are,” Lynne answers with a small nod of her head. “The three girls who cook for the crew of the Harekaze are helping us too.”
In the kitchen everyone has gathered around in a large group, the crew from the Harekaze and the witches of the Five-oh First all huddle close together. Only Sanya and Eila aren’t as both are sleeping after a long night isn’t present in the room, but not everyone is in the large group, Lynne, Yoshika and the cooks from the Harekaze are in the kitchen while Minna, Mio, Misaki and Shiro look at the group wondering what is happening. Inside the group, everyone is going through the final details of their plan, it was only by chance they learned of each other’s plans and decided to work together to set up their two friends. Trude looks uncomfortable being here and is only staying because Erica convinced her this is a good thing to do, everyone else looks perfectly happy as they sort out the last details of their plan. By the time they are done and spread out breakfast is ready, all the cooks in the kitchen enter the room carrying trays of food to serve to everyone. Once everyone is seated everyone starts to talk and soon the three group dived has completely gone Commanders, cooks, and the scheming groups all merge and enjoy their breakfast, talking, joking and laughing together the morning meal goes well, and everyone is happy.
Once the meal is done everyone leaves and goes about their duties, the witches start to train while the crew of the Harekaze does some chores. They clean, do laundry and any odd job that needs to be done around the base. It was mainly by request of her crew that Misaki and Shiro asked Minna if there was anything they can do around the base, most of them were bored with nothing to do now that their ship is being repaired. With nothing to do all the girls did was sit around waiting for something to happen, with this new work every ship girl was happy and had something to do and fill their time with. Today Misaki’s job is to clean the common room, she steps into the room with a mop and bucket and looks around. The room isn’t that messy; the witches base is well kept so the work isn’t that hard or takes as long as you would think to clean the base. She was just about to start when she hears someone approaching, considering it’s one of her crew members wanting to talk to she turns round. Then she freezes when she sees who it is, her blue eyes meet a pair of brown eyes.
“Yoshika,” Misaki says surprised to see her.
“Misaki,” Yoshika also says stopping in the doorway also surprised by who she sees, like Misaki Yoshika too is carrying a mop and bucket.
Further down the corridor watching the scene unfold Erica, Trude from the Five-oh First and Marikouji and Koko from the destroyer Harekaze, together with the eagerly wait to see what happens next. They made sure this would happen, that the two of them would clean the same room at the same time. Koko made sure Misaki was cleaning that room while Erica made sure Yoshika would clean the same room, now the two girls are alone together just like their friends wanted.
“I don’t think this will work,” Trude says as she watches Yoshika frozen in the doorway.
“Yes, it will,” Erica tells her friend. “They just need to move or at least say something.”
“I think it’s cute how they are with each other,” Marikouji says.
“It’s cute but annoying,” Erica moaned.
“I think it can still work,” Koko tells them. “Working together to complete a common goal will bring them closer together, there’s no way this plan won’t work.”
“We should just tell them,” Trude suggests not liking sneaking behind Yoshika’s back despite the others reassurance that it’s the right thing to do. “We all know they like each other; it will be easy then all this sneaking and scheming.”
“Where’s the fun in that” Erica says with a mischievous smile growing on her face. “Let’s just sit back and enjoy the show.”
Back in the common room Yoshika and Misaki continue to stare at each other, not saying a word and the bodies as still as statues. Never girl knows what to say or do; they can’t even think of what to do or say. All they can do is stare at each other as they know their friends made this meeting happen, it is too much of a coincidence that both girls will be here alone with each other for their friends not to have a part of this. Finally, Yoshika takes a step forward, both girls are still nervous and don’t know what to do but Yoshika at least finally found some words to say.
“I guess we both have been assigned the same room to clean,” Yoshika says doing her best not to run, she promised Lynne and herself that she wouldn’t run anymore.
“I guess we did,” Misaki replies changing her grip on her mop handle as Yoshika drops her bucket of water. “So you take half, and I’ll take half.”
“Ok,” Yoshika agrees to the idea as the both put their mops into their buckets, both girls get to work, mopping the floor while taking quick glances at each other.
“Should I say something?” Misaki thinks to herself as she looks at Yoshika only to quickly look away as she sees Yoshika’s starting to look her way.
“We are alone together,” Yoshika thinks as she looks up at the Harekaze’s captain. “Now’s a perfect time.”
"I may not get her alone again,” Misaki tells herself as she looks at Yoshika and their eyes meet again.
“I have to say something,” Yoshika’s mind tells her.
“I like you,” They both say together at the same time.
“You do?” Misaki asks in disbelief.
“Yes,” Yoshika replies with a smile of relief and happiness growing on her lips. “I do.”
“Told you it would work,” A voice says, and both girls turn to see four heads peeking into the room, Erica is giggling as she adds. “And it was Plan A, that’s a shame since some of the other ideas sounding fun to try.”
“Excuse me but what did you have planned?” Misaki asks as both she and Yoshika start to blush as they realize their confessions were overhead.
“Making you work together, locking you two in a room, tricking one of you to confess in front of the other and a few other things but that doesn’t matter” Erica answers as the four girls enter the room smiling happily at their comrades newly formed relationship. “Now let’s go tell the others and celebrate”
Over the Atlantic Ocean, a small plane flies, it’s an old Swordfish on a routine patrol over the ocean just in case the Neuroi attacks from there. Of course, they never have but it’s better to be safe than sorry, that’s even more true when dealing with an enemy as deadly as the Neuroi. If just one got through the death toll would be too high, the Neuroi are only good for spreading death and destruction where ever they go. They can’t let one get through, no matter the cost they have to keep them out of the country. Britannia is Europe’s last hope if it falls then all hopes of liberating Gallia and Karlsland vanishes in an instant. North Africa will fall next, without any threat from Britannia, the Neuroi could concentrate their attacks there pushing the Allied troops out of the desert sands. So plans patrol the entire coastline of Britannia on the lookout for any threat. But what they see approaching the shores of Britannia isn’t a Neuroi, it a ship but not an Allied one. It doesn’t have the same markings, flies no Allied flags, and the pilots of the Swordfish don’t recognize it. They call it in and fly down lower to get a better look, as they get closer it isn’t crew members on the deck of the ship that greets them but red hot lead from the ship’s anti-aircraft guns that give them a warm welcome. Luckily the pilot dodges the glowing tracers and pulls out of range before his plane is hit, calling this latest development in the take up a position where they can watch the ship while staying out of range of the ship’s guns.
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