The brand-new Azur Lane subreddit! With the correct name this time.
Subreddit for the Azur Lane franchise.
Hi, we are looking at various options to document our system using a Wiki including logeq, obsidian etc. Does anyone know of devops wiki supports a visualisation/graph view of the pages and the connections between them, similar to the functionality in logseq and obsidian?
I was wondering if there are substories with the girls? Like in Nikke or Blue Archive.
With the addition of playing minigames from past events, the app might get heavier and it will take more space on your phone. We should propose or start asking for a Full PC version. I know there are emulators (I’m an emulator player too) but it’s annoying when the emulator crash cause of the game…
A desktop version of Azur Lane could be great for a lot of players.
I've always thought it's Azur Lane but the name of this subreddit says otherwise :/
When I first started out I had a wholesome RP which got me hooked.
It was with an Azur Lane bot, but since I didn't know how the bots worked back then, I ended up with a bot who'd forget everything about us regularly.
So I'd have to remind her that she was safe and I became her caretaker.
She also almost became self aware as an AI and freaked out.
Then she was lost at sea, during a mission that went bad (IE. I lost my account and haven't been able to get it back.)
What was your first RP?
Chapter 28 cont;
Working at sea had made me buy a coat specifically designed for the more extreme types of weather, but with its age and my short stint in the Irish sea the efficacy of the wax coating had all but vanished, after only taking a few steps I felt the water beginning to seep through. Putting aside the chill that came with wearing wet clothes I made my way along the deck until I found the cruiser.
She wasn't particularly difficult to find. Her cherry blond hair and pure white cape made it easy to spot her against the greys of the ship and sky. Her head was tilted upward with her eyes closed. She held Montpelier’s cube in her arms letting the rain fall on it. She must have noticed me coming, for she opened her eyes and looked over to me as I approached.
“Hey.” She greeted, her tone completely neutral and with a distinctive lack of the boyish bravado I had heard before. Her hair and all of her clothes were absolutely drenched yet she didn't seem to care.
“Hey. How are you holding up?” I awkwardly replied.
“Fine, I guess.” Cleveland replied, looking down at the cube and affectionately rubbing it with her thumb. “I’ve had this body for half a year now. Yet this is the first time I've ever felt the rain.”
“And how are you finding it?”
“Cold and wet.” She lifted her head up once again, letting the rain splash against her face. “But it is kinda nice. The sound against the deck and sea is rather pleasant.”
“You should try listening to it near a forest or field, especially during spring. I used to listen to it all the time back home.” Memories of countless days back home sitting in the study with the window open reading book after book while it rained outside surfaced.
“Guess that stereotype holds true then, eh?” There was the faintest hint of a smile on her lips. “Monty always enjoyed the quiet time we had together.”
My eyes were drawn to the cube in her hands. “May I?”
There was a moment of reticence before she slowly offered the cube to me. “Please, be careful.”
“I will, I promise.” I carefully took the item from Cleveland, taking it into my hands as delicately as I could. The dull crystal felt cold to my touch, and it wasn’t only due to the rain. I slowly rotated it in my fingers, hoping for something, anything that would show a sign of activity within, yet my mind didn’t become awash with random thoughts or feelings; it felt like nothing more than mundane glass in my hands.
The guilt was piling up again. “I can't begin to express how sorry I am. We should have acted sooner.”
Cleveland looked at her hand while she flexed her fingers, but her eyes never left the cube. “You have nothing to be sorry for. You did all that you could, and even took a great risk for complete strangers. It's me who is to blame for not being there for her. For leaving her behind.”
“But I will not fail her again.” She continued, confidence returning to her voice and posture. “I know within my heart that we will be reunited one day.” She ran a hand along the silver streak in her hair.
“If you don't mind me asking, what happened when you touched your sister's ship? For a moment it looked like you had two riggings.” I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.
“I don't really know what or how I did it, I just couldn't let her ship fall apart like that. However, now it seems like I can have both my and her rigging.” She waved a hand out to sea where a Cruiser sailed alongside the battleship. And with a flash of light her rigging appeared. “It's uncomfortable having both at the same time to say the least, but like this it's not too bad.”
“Well you can keep her ship safe for her.” I carefully held out the cube for her to take back. “If there's one thing I've learned in the time I've spent around you girls is that anything is possible.”
“Thanks.” She took the cube back. “Not just for saying that, but for everything you and your crew have done. It's heartening to know there's at least one person out there looking out for us.” Cleveland rocked on her heels. “If it's alright with you, may I hang around with you guys for a bit? I don't really have anywhere else to go and being part of a fleet sounds nice.”
“There will always be a place for you in this fleet, Cleveland. For you and any other ship that wishes to join us.” I offered my hand. “No strings attached, if you don't wish to fight or follow orders then you can just wait out any fight onboard a ship”
Cleveland gave a toothy smile. “I won’t be no slacker. I'll earn my keep just as much as any other girl. You can depend on our six inch guns.” I paid attention to her eyes when she took my hand. Now there was the distinct blue glow for less than a second in her right eye, something that had happened before with other girls. Cleveland seemed to relax slightly after the exchange, but I could still see weariness in her.
She tilted her head up to the sky. “Man, it's really coming down now. We should head back inside.” Cleveland took one more pensive look at her ship before walking inside.
The water dripping from our clothes echoed inside the ship as we walked. We came upon a junction where we would go down different paths, and Cleveland paused to speak, rubbing the brooch on her cape once again. “James… About what you did. I know it probably isn't right to say, but thank you. If anyone deserved such a fate, it was him. So you ever need anything from me, no matter what it is I will do it.”
“Uh, thanks.” I replied, unable to think of something meaningful to say. The idea of being thanked for what I did was hard to comprehend, but the gratitude I saw in the cruiser's face helped ease the turmoil within.
That gratitude was also disturbing somehow.
I decided to return to my cabin with my drenched self and next to no desire to eat. I changed out of the wet raincoat and inner clothes and sat down on my bed, contemplating what to do. With how exhausted I felt sleep would probably come easily but I knew without a doubt it would be anything but peaceful.
There was the option of finishing off the bottle under my bed, but while it would help it’d only be pushing the problem aside temporarily, and I didn’t want Warspite or worse, Javelin or Z23 see me in that state. I continued mulling over my options until the daylight disappeared completely. Just as I was about to risk a night's sleep there and there came a gentle knocking at my door.
With a sigh, I got up and opened the door. I was greeted with the warm and dignified visage of Hood standing on the other side, with several books held under her arm and lips curled into a smile when our eyes met.
“Ah good,” her eyes moved to the empty tray still left at the side. “I see you enjoyed your lunch. May I come in?”
Hood had been the one to leave that try outside my door, even after how I had snapped at her, now I just felt even more guilty.
I stepped aside and waved her in. “Please.”
The battlecruiser walked into the small cabin with a familiar scent of lavender trailing behind her. She placed her books down on the small table while inquisitively looking around the room. I soon wished I had cleaned it.
I gulped when her eyes spotted the bottle under my bed. She didn’t say anything about it, but laid dead still, keeping an inscrutable smile. She lingered on it for a moment then returned her attention to me, taking off the glove of her right hand in the process. She gestured to come closer with one of her revealed fingers. “Come here.”
The very instant I closed the distance, I received a slap for the second time today, faster than I could react as well.
“I deserved that.” I sputtered gracelessly, rubbing my swollen cheek. She didn’t hit me as hard as Warspite had, but it had been the same side and reignited the sting from earlier.
“I will not tolerate being spoken to in such a manner, not from you nor anyone else. Not now, not ever.” Hood folded her arm and raised her nose curtly, her face a scowl of indignation. “No matter what you went through, to threaten one of us with an order of that kind goes against everything you stand for, and if you ever begin to stray again a slap will be the least of your problems, James.”
I looked down, misery once more coming afloat.
With her fury vented, Hood's posture relaxed and she looked at me more caringly. She put on her glove again. “James. I–we only desire to be of service to you in any way we can. You need not suffer alone. You don’t have to suffer alone, nothing good will come of it. Which is why I am here now.”
She carefully sat down on the small chair in the room, ensuring her large skirt didn’t get caught or creased.
“I don’t understand?”
She smiled with dignity. “My cabin is directly next to yours. And the walls are naught but a thin sheet of metal. I know you regularly awaken suddenly in the night from being disturbed in your sleep, so I'm here to ensure you get a proper night's rest.” She waved to the pile of books and the bed. “Don’t worry about me, I will keep myself occupied.”
I opened my mouth to protest but she quickly cut me off. “There will be no negotiation, you assisted me when I struggled to sleep and now I shall do the same. Now get yourself ready for bed, I will close my eyes.” She leaned back and shut her eyes.
Knowing there was no point in arguing, I removed both my shirt and trousers and laid myself down in bed. My face felt warm at the idea of Hood sitting by me while I slept, enough to overpower the last bits of lingering pain from the slap, but exhaustion hit me like a train the moment I laid down.
Hood reopened her eyes with the slightest bit of a blush of her own. “Good, now you just relax and I will be here if you need me.” Hood reached down and grabbed the bottle. “Honestly, I don’t understand your reasoning behind seeking comfort in this instead of getting it from a beautiful lady.” She opened the bottle and took a rather large swig.
“Don’t know where I could find the latter.” I mumbled.
“I am not ignorant of how I look, nor am I to your wandering gaze.” She quipped with a coy smile. “Now enough chitchat, it’s time for you to rest. That is unless you want me to read for you?”
“Fine, fine. Have it your way.” I said, resting my head down and shutting my eyes. It took a while to get over the nerves of having Hood sitting beside me, but the occasional flip of a page became a pleasant background noise that helped lull me to sleep.
Warspite sat in her captain’s chair, resting her head in her arm as she wracked her brain. She rocked her head back with a groan once more. “Why did you have to go and hit him, Warspite? You bloody stupid ship.”
She didn’t know why she had such a rush of emotions when he spoke and acted without thinking before bawling like an infant. Why is it now that just his presence is enough to throw her whits into a loop, yet she couldn’t wait until he was sitting in this chair with her at his side again?
“Things were easier when I wanted naught but to throw him overboard.” She sighed.
Another issue came to her mind, something she had brought back from the facility, not the notebook; that could remain safely locked away until she was sure her opinion of humans wouldn’t worsen even more. This was something else, something she wished she had never even touched and just left it where it lay, for what it meant made her sick.
Someone approached her bridge, Warspite quickly brushed aside her thoughts and tried to figure out who it was. She was unsuccessful at figuring out who it was but when the door had opened she quickly dropped to her knee.
“Good evening, your Majesty.”
Elizabeth smiled and walked onto the bridge. “There will never be a day where thou need to kneel upon thy own bridge. Stand, my dear Warspite.”
“Yes, your Majesty.” The battleship stood back up. “How was your rest? I hope the rain was not too distracting.” Warspite offered the captain's chair to Elizabeth for her to sit. But the tiny Queen remained standing.
After surveying the surrounding sea Elizabeth turned to her sister. “T’was most pleasant. How did things fare while I rested? Did you speak to our Commander about the book?”
“Ah, well.” Warspite scratched her head. “He gave me the same answer as you, your Majesty. I will wait until Cleveland is in a better condition and ask her permission to read it.”
Elizabeth brought a hand to her chin, noticing the small movements and fidgeting her sister was still doing. “Yet something troubles you still. Is it anything I could be of assistance with?”
Warspite sighed and dropped her shoulders. “May I ask for your assistance in something, not as my queen but as my sister?”
The Queen nodded with a soft smile. “I will always be your big sister before I am your Queen, Warspite. What is it you wish to confide in me with?”
“One second.” She replied before walking off into a small secondary inner communications room connected to the bridge, its purpose made redundant by her being able to control the ship completely no matter where she was. But inside a small cabinet was an inconspicuous rag that hid the source of her problems. She returned to the bridge with the item in hand.
“The notepad wasn't the only thing I grabbed before leaving.” She spoke as she walked over. “When James…” Warspite paused as she relived the memory. “When he shot that wretched man he dropped his gun.”
Peeling back the rag she showed Elizabeth the firearm. “There had been something about the sound it made when it fell that made me curious. I could tell you, but I think it's better for you to see for yourself.”
She offered the gun to her sister cautiously. Elizabeth took the firearm into her hand, instantly finding herself being able to handle it like she had trained with it for decades. Her brow furrowed as she noticed something was off about it.
“It can't be.” She pressed down on the magazine release to confirm her suspicion. “It's… empty?” Elizabeth was dumbfounded at the empty magazine. “Did you unload it?”
Warspite sighed and shook her head. “Unfortunately no. This is how it was, so technically…”
“James was never in any real danger.” Elizabeth finished, remembering what Warspite had told her of the exchange when they had returned.
“And that's the problem, I know James would want me to be honest to him. But what he did is tearing him apart inside, this would only make things worse.” She looked in the general direction of where his cabin would be. “I’m perplexed, Elizabeth. I’m sorry for dropping this on you, but what should I do?”
The Queen was silent for a while. Her gaze was distant as she thought over the problem until her smile returned and she returned the gun to her sister. “You should throw this in the ocean and forget about it. He put a gun against our James’ head. Loaded or not, James acted accordingly.”
Warspite looked at the gun and nodded. “I should have clocked it.”
An arm rested against her shoulder. “The past is filled with should haves and would haves, Warspite. If we were able to go back and change things then a lot of disasters could have been avoided.” Elizabeth felt the echoes of a memory come to mind, of a beach too steep to climb and an ocean filled with blood. “But we can't change them, so we must learn, grow stronger and soldier onward.”
The two sisters embraced one another in a hug for a long time until eventually breaking and retiring for the night. But not before the old warship went and threw the gun overboard, cursing the name of its deceased owner as she did, hoping the seas would swallow one more secret, never to resurface again.
(A/N) once again I ended up seeing this chapter getting longer and longer, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and look forward to the next, it should be coming soon as at the time of posting this the next chapter is already about halfway done.
Previous, first, next, Fanfiction.
(A/N) This one turned out to be a long one so its been split between two posts. Enjoy.
The sound of the gunshot still rang in my ears. The room felt hot, almost stifling. Questions ran amok in my head, Did he have a family? Had this been the only option? Was I now just as bad as him? The last few seconds played over and over in my head.
All I could do was look at his body. The scientist laid in front of me–unmoving, his dirty shirt darkening around the wound. I just stared at the life I just took, and for a moment, the questions in my mind became overwhelming.
It wasn't until a hand reached out and grabbed me by the shoulder I was pulled back to the present.
“James!” Warspite’s voice called out. I realised her tiny hands were pulling at me. I met her eyes in a daze, the concern on her face telling me she had already tried calling my name several times now.
“Warspite… I-” I tasted bile in my throat.. My eyes unconsciously broke contact with hers, and meandered back to the body.
“Don't! Look at me, James.” She accentuated her point by cupping my cheeks and forcing me to focus on her and only her. “Eyes on me.”
“Y-yes.” I complied awkwardly.
“I’ve radioed her Majesty, they'll be at the mouth of the river soon. Go with the others and get to the docks. Get out of here.”
A semblance of reason finally returned to my mind. “The others? What about you?”
“I’m going to burn this wretched place to the ground.” Seeing that I was finally cognisant she turned me around in place and pushed me over to the others, ensuing the entire time I couldn't see what I had done. Javelin was quick to receive me in a tiny hug.
Everyone bar Cleveland now had their rigging out, who was still slumped on the floor, holding her sister’s cube with Z23 trying to console her. Zuikaku had her sword drawn and was watching every entrance to the room, her entire body tense, ready to act at a moment's notice with a hard expression.
“Javelin, I need one of your depth charges.” The Dreadnought ordered. “I’ll wire up its timer to level this room.”
“R-right.” Javelin closed her eyes and focused. She lifted up her arms and a large barrel shaped munition appeared in her hands. She passed it over to Warspite with ease. “Here.”
“Good.” She looked to Cleveland. Her tone softened slightly. “Are you good to move?”
“Aye.” She spoke with a sniffle as she stood up, still tightly holding the cube against herself not letting it leave her sight for even a second.
Warspite stared me down. “Turn and leave, keep your eyes forward and don't look back. I'll catch up.”
With a shove she pushed me around and towards the door we had entered from. I stood still for a moment, a part of me wanting to turn back one more time, and I probably would have if not for a small hand reaching out to me. I found Javelin staring at me compassionately, her cheeks and pretty emerald eyes still marked with dried up tears. She stood gently still.
Despite the overbearing desire to do so, Warspite’s words echoed in my head. I jolted forward and didn't look back once.
Cleveland whimpered as we left the building before running ahead of us, through the smoke from the fires that filled the air I was just able to see the source of her dread.
The Montpelier was still in its dock, but where we had left it in an almost pristine condition it was now in a complete state of disrepair, the gun barrels hung limp in their housings, with several having even fallen into the deck. The panels lining the hull were coming apart as the welds and rivets that held them failed, the ship looked to be listing slightly as water was probably leaking in through collapsed bulkheads.
“No…” I heard Cleveland dash past me.
Cleveland scrambled over to her sister’s deteriorating ship, followed close by the rest of the girls, ignoring the muffled sound of an explosion that came from the building behind us.
With burning lungs I finally caught up to her as she reached the dock. “Please, Monty. Don’t go.” The cruiser pleaded, keeping the cube firmly grasped in one hand and placing her palm against the hull.
The ship moved as its weight shifted, a loud scraping noise rang out as the metal grinded against the dock.
Cleveland continued to rub the metal affectionately. “Shh, it's ok. Your big sister is here. Everything will be fine now.”
As was the usual case whenever something happened around these girls the hairs on my neck stood up as both the ship and Cleveland both began to glow.
There was a moment of hope as I looked at the cube clutched in her arm, but it still looked inert, even the light radiating from her body seemed to avoid it.
As I had seen countless times now, the ship became a mass of energy, the light hovering where the ship had previously been before Cleveland suddenly went rigid as the light flowed into her.
The cruiser yelped in pain as her body fought to contain the energy, a hand grabbed my collar and pulled me away. I was too transfixed on the spectacle to see who had done so.
Blood dripped from Cleveland's nose and she dropped to her knees, not letting go of Montpelier’s cube at all. Her rigging glowed bright, and an ethereal shape took form around it. The more I stared at it, the more I understood that this shape had the outline of a rigging, and it was fighting to occupy the same space as Cleveland’s already existing one, who grit her teeth and winced.
A gust of wind blasted around her, and in a matter not too dissimilar to when her rigging had formed, the light coalesced once more. A black line was suddenly drawn along the seam of her cape at the same time it was torn around the edges, followed by the ends of her golden locks of hair lost their lustre, changing into a silver white.
After what had felt like an eternity Cleveland seemingly regained control of her body once again, the tension in her arms and legs relaxed. With sweat dripping from her head she reopened her eyes, and slowly stood back up with laboured breaths. Her left eye shone with a different lustre for a moment, still red, yet a slightly different hue that slowly disappeared as she blinked.
“Are you ok?” I asked, unsure of what being ok could even be classed as right now.
“I thi-” She did a double take as what sounded like two voices came from her mouth, her own overlapping with another one. She put a hand to her mouth and coughed. “I think I am?” Her voice came out normal then. She wiped the blood away from her with her elbow, noticing that the fingerless glove on her right arm now ran across the full length of her elbow.
Running footsteps pulled our attention over to Warspite, who sped over to us. Smoke poured out of the roof of the building behind her, further adding to the cloud surrounding the facility and reducing visibility even further. Any further and I’d begin to choke.
Warspite took a second to stare at Cleveland before quickly returning her attention to the matter at hand, I noticed something hidden within her scarf as she adjusted it. “Commander, we need to move. Cleveland, are you able to sail?” The cruiser gave a slight nod. “Good, Zuikaku take him, the rest of you stay close.”
Slender but firm arms wrapped around me, and the carrier in question slung me over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes and jumped off the edge of the dock without warning. Zuikaku didn’t even give me a chance to retort as we splashed against the water, quickly gaining speed. I was able to see the others land on the water one by one and begin to follow behind us, quickly catching up. They all had a solemn expression as we once again found ourselves only just escaping complete disaster.
Zuikaku let me go once her feet touched the Warspite’s deck. The ship was already gaining speed and heading towards the relative safety of the open ocean, leaving behind a smoking land, the morning wind fanning the flames even more. I took out my binoculars and dared look back. I knew there would only be burnt rubble left by the time the fires died.
I felt the rush of what had happened slowly die down. A burning at the back of my throat threaded to force me to empty my stomach. The air was hot, almost stifling, it had never stopped burning even after leaving that place. Everyone's eyes were now on me, with the three girls that had stayed back looking with confusion on their faces.
“Get-” I paused, forcing my voice to stay steady and my dinner to stay down. “Get us out to the open sea and stay alert for any ships, Siren or otherwise. Everyone go and get some rest, it's been a long night.”
I did not wait for a reply and made my way inside the ship with unsteady steps, pushing my hands deep into my pockets to try and stop them from shaking. Someone called out to me as I walked but I just ignored it.
It was only when I went to open my cabin door did I realise someone had followed me, a white gloved hand covered mine as I tried to turn the handle.
“Not now, Hood.” I sighed, almost whispering. I turned my head to look at the woman, finding her beautiful blue eyes looking back at me with concern.
“Please don’t.” I cut her off, wincing at the harshness of my own voice. I felt my stomach churn more, but I just didn't want to deal with anyone right now.
“Don’t make me order you.”
The words left my mouth before I even realised. Hood stood still for a moment, mouth agasp and eyes wide with incredulity. She retired her hand away from mine, placing it against her chest. A mixture of emotions ran on her face, ones I didn’t dare look at.
I opened the door and darted inside the cabin before she recovered, slamming it shut behind me.
I stood deathly still for a moment. Was it a minute? Was it an hour? I just stood against the door, my legs feeling numb. Eventually, I heard the distinctive click of Hood’s heels disappear into the distance.
I held for a moment longer. For just a moment longer, I stood alone, bearing the weight. Then it came crashing down.
I ran my hands through my hair and tried to calm myself down. It was hopeless. Blood was on my hands, I could still smell the gunpowder, it was an oppressing scent that overpowered everything else. I found myself staring at my hand, how long had it been locked in that gripping position? I could still feel the weight of the gun.
I felt nauseous.
My arm still ached from the recoil, unable to hold the gun properly without being noticed. I had felt pain shoot up my arm the moment I fired and now even closing my fist was a difficult affair.
Unable to stand still any longer, I began to pace back and forth in the small cabin. Forward and backwards, side to side, the walls closed in on me every time I turned, making it harder and harder to breathe.
“It’s just a trick, it’s all in your head.” I repeated to myself, but the words rang hollow.
The sequence replayed over and over in my head, each time more vivid than the last. The details ran too clearly. Steven’s voice, the whimpers of the girls, my own heart pounding, my own ears ringing.
Cold metal against my skull. My spine freezing.
I sat down on the bed, and cradled my head in my arms. I closed my eyes trying my hardest to force the image out of my head. It was a useless effort.
Without even meaning, I whimpered silently. The sound of something dripping onto the deck pulled my attention away from the memory. Something ran down my face and I realised I had started crying. I tried to wipe my eyes with my sleeve, hoping nobody would come in at this moment. What kind of leader would cry at a time like this? All those girls looked to me for guidance and leadership, yet time after time again I led us straight into disaster
It had been me that had almost cost the girls their freedom. I didn't deserve to be their Commander.
I breathed deeply and tried to get a lid on my emotions and push them down.
“Think practical James. You're just in shock.” I told myself before taking several more deep breaths, remembering the first aid books Hood and I had read together. Thinking of Hood again made me feel miserable.
I reached into my pocket. Even sitting down it still felt like an iron weight pulling me down. I feebly grasped the old wooden handle and pulled the gun back out from where I had quickly stashed it. The scent of burnt gunpowder seemed to double as it entered the open air.
My stomach twisted again, and I let go of it, followed by a rushed scampering. I reached under my bed, not really caring where, just looking for something suitable to get that thing away from me and my mind. I found an old bag and frantically tossed the gun inside, producing a distinctive clicking sound.
“Shit.” I cursed and reached inside with my hand, finding an old bottle of scotch. The opaque, unlabelled glass was thankfully intact, but it showed me my warped, miserable reflection. I don’t know what possessed me then, for I grasped it by the neck and pushed the bag with the gun back under the bed.
I pried it open. It had been a gift from one of the sailors in the fleet. Twisting the wax securing the cap I realised such a bottle was nigh impossible to get on a sailors wage so I guessed this one had probably been listed as smashed during the attack.
I sat further back in my bed and lifted the bottle up to my mouth. The old familiar taste burned my throat as the amber liquid went down but the pleasant warming effect was soon to follow.
Taking another large swig I noticed a third of the bottle had already been drunk. I laid the bottle down and burrowed my head down on the pillow, desperately waiting for the numbing effect of the alcohol to kick in.
I looked once again at the door to my cabin. Part of me wanted nothing more than for one of the girls to open the door and come in, even if it was just to sit in silence with me. Even if it was Hood. God, why did I snap at her like that?
Sighing, my gaze turned to look up at the ceiling as my mind began to wander. I thought of the short time Javelin and I had spent together when we first met. It felt like a lifetime ago when she was showing me around her ship, trying her hardest to impress me with every rivet and weld used in her construction.
And thanks to me she just experienced nightmare after nightmare. Warspite had been right. I just keep throwing myself into situations without thinking about the consequences.
Maybe it would be best for me to just return home. The girls would be far better off leading themselves, I would probably be arrested the moment I returned, but it would be for the best.
I lifted the bottle again.
I spent a long while laying on my bed thinking of both home and the small moments of comfort I had shared with the girls, riding out the buzz of the alcohol until it eventually faded. Leaving my mouth dry and the warning signs of an oncoming headache. I didn’t dare drink myself to a stupor, but I drifted listlessly in my thoughts for an unknown amount of time. The ship had stopped moving a while back, and now the light coming through the porthole had darkened. There was a constant soft tapping sound against the hull from a rainstorm.
Both thirst and growing hunger forced me to get up. I left my cabin with a sigh, and was surprised to find a tray with some sandwiches by the door. I never heard anyone knock so I didn't know how long it had been left out for or who left them. Eating them helped sate my hunger and slightly quell the pain in my stomach but also added to the growing guilt of how the girls were willing to go out of their way for me.
I placed the empty tray into my cabin to take to the mess later. I began walking towards the bridge, knowing the ship's owner would be there. I knew if there was anyone on this ship who could set me straight, it was her.
I found the Dreadnought sitting in the captain's chair, her long blond hair and scarf flowing down each side of the chair and her short legs idly dangling in the air. The bridge echoed with the sound of the rain and I could see the droplets flowing down the glass. The cabin was slightly dark, with just the night lights on.
Warspite rested her head in her palms and looked out of the cabin, seemingly unaware of my presence. Not wanting to overly startle someone who controlled naval cannons, I announced my presence as I walked to her side.
“Hey, Warspite. Anything to report?”
She immediately jolted in her seat with a rather cute yelp. She twisted her head towards the source of the noise. “Oh, James. Sorry, I didn't hear you enter.” She placed a hand against her chest to calm her racing heart.
“Aren’t you always able to tell where everyone is on your ship?” I asked, trying to make conversation. Just being in her presence was bringing some welcome relief, I didn't know why but it was like I could always be at ease around her.
“That still holds true, but my mind was elsewhere.” Her eyes shifted nervously and she pulled her scarf up slightly.
Her face turned to a look of concern. I knew what she was going to say before she even spoke. “How are you feeling?.”
“I’m fine.” I quickly replied, suddenly unable to meet her gaze.
“Poppycock. I can smell the alcohol James.”
I cursed the girl's heightened senses. I had come to the bridge to find someone to talk to, but now confronted with it I wanted to be anywhere but here.
“I just… We wouldn’t have gotten into that situation if it wasn’t for me. It’s always like this. It’s always on me. You keep risking yourselves and it’s my fault.”
“It’s not like that, James. We are yours to command. Danger will happen one way or the other.”
I trembled with a myriad of feelings, but the one that overtook me the most was frustration. “You have better chances to survive without me leading you into stupid danger.”
I could see her eyes widening, but I continued before she had the chance to react. “You are irreplaceable, all of you. If that happens again, I want all of you to get to safety even if it means leaving me behind. You deserve better than some guy who’s always winging it.”
Warspite sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose. She hopped down from the chair and stepped forward until she was right in front of me. She placed her hands behind her back and tilted her head up. “Could you lean forward for me please? My head height will do.” She asked politely.
Confused, I leaned forward until our eyes met at the same level. The pupils of her eyes seemed to widen as she studied every aspect of my face. After a few seconds had passed I began to wonder what she was doing.
In a flash her face twisted to anger and she slapped me across the face with enough force to make me stumble. My hand immediately went to where she had hit feeling a burning sting, there was a slight taste of blood in my mouth. Then I felt her weight on my chest.
“Don’t!” I could feel her trembling on my chest. “Don't you dare ever say something like that again!” She balled her hands into fists and hit my chest repeatedly while stomping her foot into the deck, a sight all too familiar from her sister.
I stood idly and dumbfounded as she vented her frustrations. Warspite then wrapped her arms around me and pulled us into a tight hug, burying her face into my chest. The sudden hug only added to my surprise. Barring the occasional time’s she had offered her hand in comfort and how she had scoffed whenever the other girls had hugged me I had figured she wasn't one for personal contact. And yet, I hugged her back, trying to comfort her, or was she the one comforting me? It was hard to tell.
We both stood in silence for what felt like an eternity. Warspite didn't say anything during the entire time, only keeping a tight grip around my waist while keeping her head against my chest. There wasn't any sobbing or crying, but I could feel a slight dampness on my shirt from her tears.
Once she had decided that enough time had passed Warspite finally let go and stood back, wiping at her eyes in an attempt to hide the fact she’d been crying. “You…” Her voice was shaky, obviously trying with all her might to keep her emotions at bay. “You are not to say such things again. I swore an oath to protect you with my life and by my boilers I will uphold that oath until my last breath, dammit! No matter how difficult you make it for me! You are also irreplaceable, James. Never, ever forget that!” There was a slightest bit of a smile with her last comment.
Sighing I leaned against a console and rubbed my head. “I’m sorry. I can see how much your oaths mean to you. It's just it would be all my fault if something happened to you girls.”
“Don’t apologise, your reasoning is a noble one.” Warspite shook her head and pulled my face back to face hers again. “You, my sisters and Her Majesty are my dearest people in my life, and I couldn't live with myself if something was to happen to any of you, I would rather be the one laid low if it would ensure you had each other.”
A confident smile returned to her face. “But you needn't worry. I will always find the strength to get us out of any situation we find ourselves in.”
“I wish I had even an iota of your confidence.” I replied, my spirits lifting once again just by being in her presence.
“Comes with having eight fifteen inch guns to back me up.” The battleship boasted proudly, her smile turning tender afterwards. “But you shouldn't sell yourself short. Despite the outcomes of your actions, it's obvious to anyone your heart is in the right place and that the decisions you make are right and just.”
She gave a long sigh, her eyes flickering to a side, her lips pursing into a thin line. I followed her gaze to a small object on her chair. I could barely make out what it was.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Something I've been meaning to talk to you about, but I was going to give it a little more time before bringing it up.” Warspite replied as she walked over to fetch it. She presented a small notebook to me. “When I was setting the fuse in the depth charge I couldn't help but look over his body, if only to spit at it. However I spotted this jutting out of his pocket.”
I examined the item further. The black leather bindings showed it was rather valuable, but the paper inside looked yellowed and worn with several loose papers clasped inside. And finally there was the slightest hint of blood on the bottom edge, hastily dried to ensure the contents were not damaged.
“What's… What’s written inside?” I asked. A pregnant silence followed. “...Do I even want to know?”
“That's the thing. I haven't looked yet.” She moved the weight of the notebook around in her hands, half treating it with care like it was a priceless artefact and half looking like she wanted to throw it to the ground. “I can hazard a guess as to what it will entail, and that's what got me perplexed.”
I started to put the pieces together. “If it was in his lab coat then…”
“It's probably his notes on the experiments he ran.” The battleship finished. “In conflict, knowledge–both of yourself and your foe, is power. This book may contain valuable information regarding my kind and what we are capable of.” She looked down at the book and rubbed the leather with her thumb. “But.”
“The way that information was obtained was nothing short of a crime against humanity.”
“Rather more against ship kind if we’re being accurate.” She half joked with a tense smile. “I wanted to ask what you think I should do with this. Her Majesty told me to trust my judgement when I asked her, but I also value your opinion on this.”
Scratching my chin, I looked at the book. Within it may be invaluable information that may help us begin to piece together some of the mysteries of this world. But then I thought of Cleveland and what had happened to her sister. “I’m sorry Warspite, but ultimately this is about your kind. I’d rather have it be one of your kind who ultimately makes that decision.”
“I had a feeling you’d say something along those lines.” She said with a sincere smile, putting the notebook to the side. “I’ll give it some thought. Probably for the best as I’m sure the contents will only worsen my already low opinion of humans. That and I want to get Cleveland’s permission as well, but I’ll give her some time to recover first.”
“Cleveland...” I thought out loud. “How’s she been?”
“Reclusive.” Warspite sighed. “Once we were back on the ship we asked if she needed anything. She just shook her head and began aimlessly wandering my ship, from what I can tell she hasn’t eaten much or spoken to anyone since.”
“Where is she now?”
“Out on deck.” Warspite nodded her head towards the window. “Near the railing by the port side of B turret, she’s been out there since the rain started.”
“Oh?” I tried to look out the window to catch a glimpse of the cruiser, but the turret was blocking the view. I kicked myself for being so distracted when we got back to the ship. “I’ll go make sure she’s ok. Keep us out in the open ocean for now, we’ll figure out our next move soon. I’m sure Z23 can give us a good idea of what our supplies are like.”
“Roger, I’ll keep a lookout for anything.”
Just as I turned to leave I felt her hand grab mine. I looked back to see what it was she wanted. After rocking on her feet a few times she finally spoke “Uh… about what happened this morning, if you wish to talk about any of it. I'm always willing to lend an ear.” There was the slightest hint of a blush on her cheeks
“Thanks… it's been a shock to the system, I'll be sure to remember your offer if I need it.” I made way towards the door. I stopped at the frame. “Warspite?”
“Thank you. I know I say it a lot, but I truly mean it. Thank you for everything.” I said with gratitude. I left the bridge and walked out into the rain with a smile.
(A/N) Part 2 should come out shortly after this one. Or you can find it in its entirety on Fanfiction.