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>Previous Thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/4700116/
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>Discord: https://discord.gg/D2QGKxBd87

>'Why don't you take it from the top? Sounds like there's a lot more to this than a girl that just wants to go the good old Miss Independent route.'

You try not to sound like too much of a busy-body … but at the same time, the eager, helpful beaver in you pressed on for as much of a bird-eye view of the situation before weighing your own answers for consideration. Maybe you’re just being a little too casual—maybe—but after being exposed to Lieutenant Belfast’s womb tattoo you’re quite certain that the boundaries within these quarters was a mite more relaxed than was previously assumed. Besides, you really did wish to be of assistance, even if you felt quite … inadequate, given the scope of Bremerton’s alleged misconduct.

If consensual partaking of an orgy even counted towards that.

‘As is the normal for us Shipgirls, it begins with a boy and ends in heartbreak,’ Formidable scoffs. ‘Beginning, middle and end; relevant and to the point.’

‘Honestly,’ Belfast clicks her tongue, rolling her eyes as she cradles her arms. ‘It’s really no wonder she antagonizes you so.’

Your gaze shifts from one Shipgirl to the other, uncertain whether to interject or keep your silence. You’d never seen the Instructor or the Lieutenant so … opposed to one another. As far as you had been aware in your time as a Cadet, they’d gotten along swimmingly, professionally. Whatever Bremerton’s issues were, the potential for a great wedge was more than apparent, judging by the rising hostility between the both of them. Belfast unfolds her arms from chest, massaging her wrists, while Formidable puffs her cheek, neither willing to relent on their perspectives … whatever they were.

Well, it’s not really our place to … throw it all out there for you to gobble, Cadet, but … if it wasn’t obvious before now, it … yes, very much does start with a young man and … well, Bremerton’s maturity in response isn’t something I would notch as a stellar exemplar of Shipgirl psychology,’ Belfast reveals, all in one breath, before hurriedly following up, ‘not that that discounts her as an asset, of course, but the years since the war haven’t been quite so kind to those that … saw no particular purpose beyond. Least of all having to put up with the norms of organic bio-chemistry and … everything human emotion entails.

‘So she’s just having a bad break-up, then?’ you summarize, prompting Belfast to wince.

‘It’s a little bit more … complicated than that.’

‘How much more complicated?’ you inquire, confused.

Neither of them seem reluctant to divulge any further. Belfast grimaces; Formidable averts her gaze.
>>
>>4804619
>'Well, I'm ... you don't have to tell me now, but if you think that I can still help, go ahead and call on me. I don't know if I'll be of any help, but if you think I can ... I'll do my best.' (Make a note of this for later)
>'Doesn't sound like it's the sort of thing you should be asking a Cadet like me, Instructor.' (Brush it off; it's not your problem)
>Write-In
>>
>>4804623
>>'Well, I'm ... you don't have to tell me now, but if you think that I can still help, go ahead and call on me. I don't know if I'll be of any help, but if you think I can ... I'll do my best.' (Make a note of this for later)
>>
>>4804623
>'Well, I'm ... you don't have to tell me now, but if you think that I can still help, go ahead and call on me. I don't know if I'll be of any help, but if you think I can ... I'll do my best.' (Make a note of this for later)
>>
>>4804623
>>'Well, I'm ... you don't have to tell me now, but if you think that I can still help, go ahead and call on me. I don't know if I'll be of any help, but if you think I can ... I'll do my best.' (Make a note of this for later)
>>
>>4804623
>>'Well, I'm ... you don't have to tell me now, but if you think that I can still help, go ahead and call on me. I don't know if I'll be of any help, but if you think I can ... I'll do my best.' (Make a note of this for later)
It’s always a shame to see good people spiraling out into self sabotage.
>>
>'Well, I'm ... you don't have to tell me now, but if you think that I can still help, go ahead and call on me. I don't know if I'll be of any help, but if you think I can ... I'll do my best.' (Make a note of this for later)

‘I suppose it would be a counter-productive to be discussing such a thing so … callously,’ Belfast concedes, sighing as Formidable drops an agreeable nod, immediately clearing the air out with the motion. The Lieutenant’s hands drop to her side as she embraces your suggestion, evidently agreeing that the notion of a calmer and less-urgent atmosphere in the future in regards to the topic of Bremerton would be a more favorable environment to knit a conclusion by. Personally, you’re damn well confused as to why you were even a candidate for external consultation, but you’re nonetheless thankful that Lieutenant Belfast and Instructor Formidable would trust you to such an extent.

You hope you don’t let them down when it finally came down to it.

You make a mental note to follow-up on this matter later.
OBJECTIVE ACQUIRED: BREMERTON

‘Yes,’ Formidable finally declares, tossing one tail over her shoulder and lifting her chin slightly as she finds herself echoing Belfast’s own sentiment. ‘Such deliberation would be better done with more … considerate timing … and there are things I would really rather be doing that don’t involve that utter moron.’

Belfast lets out another sigh, but doesn’t contest Formidable’s words. Maybe she’d just realized that risking a prolonging of the topic at hand wouldn’t shift it into any gear outside of neutral. Formidable then turns to you, her sharp eyes taking a quizzical, expectant shine to them with the shift of her weight from one heel to another, the fabric of her dress lifting as she takes one step towards you, hands on her hips and holding all the authority of a teacher in complete control of her classroom.

The tables and blackboard, of course, being you.

‘I extend my apologies, however, regardless,’ Formidable speaks up, actually looking the part as she, somehow, manages to hang her head in guilt while also keeping her control over the exchange, half-grimacing and half-smiling. ‘This really shouldn’t be something we should have been so … quick to share with you.’

You raise your hands, refusing to accept the need for any apology. ‘You don’t have to do that,’ you respond, smiling as diplomatically as you’re able to manage. ‘I’m actually kinda … honored that you’d even be, well … that you like me enough to share this sort of thing. So, uh … no apologies. If I can help, I’ll … try.’

Formidable rolls her eyes playfully, smirking as Belfast takes one step forward, as prim and proper as ever.

‘Do you have any ... further plans for the day?’
>>
>'Well, I'm ... you don't have to tell me now, but if you think that I can still help, go ahead and call on me. I don't know if I'll be of any help, but if you think I can ... I'll do my best.' (Make a note of this for later)

‘I suppose it would be a counter-productive to be discussing such a thing so … callously,’ Belfast concedes, sighing as Formidable drops an agreeable nod, immediately clearing the air out with the motion. The Lieutenant’s hands drop to her side as she embraces your suggestion, evidently agreeing that the notion of a calmer and less-urgent atmosphere in the future in regards to the topic of Bremerton would be a more favorable environment to knit a conclusion by. Personally, you’re damn well confused as to why you were even a candidate for external consultation, but you’re nonetheless thankful that Lieutenant Belfast and Instructor Formidable would trust you to such an extent.

You hope you don’t let them down when it finally came down to it.

You make a mental note to follow-up on this matter later.
OBJECTIVE ACQUIRED: BREMERTON

‘Yes,’ Formidable finally declares, tossing one tail over her shoulder and lifting her chin slightly as she finds herself echoing Belfast’s own sentiment. ‘Such deliberation would be better done with more … considerate timing … and there are things I would really rather be doing that don’t involve that utter moron.’

Belfast lets out another sigh, but doesn’t contest Formidable’s words. Maybe she’d just realized that risking a prolonging of the topic at hand wouldn’t shift it into any gear outside of neutral. Formidable then turns to you, her sharp eyes taking a quizzical, expectant shine to them with the shift of her weight from one heel to another, the fabric of her dress lifting as she takes one step towards you, hands on her hips and holding all the authority of a teacher in complete control of her classroom.

The tables and blackboard, of course, being you.

‘I extend my apologies, however, regardless,’ Formidable speaks up, actually looking the part as she, somehow, manages to hang her head in guilt while also keeping her control over the exchange, half-grimacing and half-smiling. ‘This really shouldn’t be something we should have been so … quick to share with you.’

You raise your hands, refusing to accept the need for any apology. ‘You don’t have to do that,’ you respond, smiling as diplomatically as you’re able to manage. ‘I’m actually kinda … honored that you’d even be, well … that you like me enough to share this sort of thing. So, uh … no apologies. If I can help, I’ll … try.’

Formidable rolls her eyes playfully, smirking as Belfast takes one step forward, as prim and proper as ever.

‘Do you have any further plans for today?’
>>
You open your mouth to answer ... only to have your brain immediately hammer down the reflex, prompting you to shut up as the onset of sub-text and cues hits you in the jaw as though it was a heavyweight's uppercut.

Belfast and Formidable's eyes remain upon you, very much expectant.

>'I've got some things to settle, actually.'
>'Free as a bird.'
>Write-In*

*Write-In encouraged
>>
>>4805629
oh boi, how do we wanna answer this? I mean we dont have plans that I know of and what reason do we have to reject the company of our two fine instructors?
>>
>>4805697
I believe there is a Parade later today, but by the interaction with Taihou, I think that isn't for a few more hours?
>>
>>4805629
>Well it would be rude to turn down an invitation from my two wonderful instructors and I was taught to never be rude to a lady
>>
>>4805697
>>4805707
Maybe we should do some mental exercises or meditation or something of the sort given our poor showing at the trials?
>>
>>4805711
Either that, or we do as every good Brit does when they find themselves with a few free hours between something. Pub? Pub.
>>
>>4805629
>Write-In
"I have nothing specific planned for now... at least until the Parade. As it is a day of celebration, perhaps you ladies wouldn't mind me inviting you for a drink?"
>>
>>4805723
Formisaur will drink us under the table and we're going to be puking at the ceremony.

no offence intended to the lovely instructor of course
>>
>>4805711
we'll have time for that later
>>
>>4805629
Eh screw it, gonna go with gut.

>I intended to spend what free time I have left on study and mental exercise, ma’am.
>do you have a different counsel?
>>
>>4805710
I'll support this.
>>
>>4805710
supporting
>>
File: [whistles].jpg (214 KB, 980x653)
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>Well it would be rude to turn down an invitation from my two wonderful instructors and I was taught to never be rude to a lady

For the first time since you could remember, Formidable leans over, donning a toothy grin.

‘Then you were raised well,’ she asserts, making a noise of satisfaction as she does so. ‘Belfast and I were thinking of attending the festivities on the main island; we would be glad to have you chaperone our excursion.’

Belfast lowers her head, wearing a small smile as she waits your answer.

>‘I’d be honored. Just let me visit my quarters to pick some necessities. I’ll meet you two by the transport once I’ve finished prepping up. Say … fifteen minutes?’ (Settle your matters prior to departure)
>‘I’d be honored. Let’s get going!’ (Leave immediately)
>‘Actually, I’m afraid I’ll have to decline. I have quite a few things to sort out, actually …’ (Decline)
>Write-In
>>
>>4806999
>>‘I’d be honored. Just let me visit my quarters to pick some necessities. I’ll meet you two by the transport once I’ve finished prepping up. Say … fifteen minutes?’ (Settle your matters prior to departure)
>>
>>4806999
>‘I’d be honored. Just let me visit my quarters to pick some necessities. I’ll meet you two by the transport once I’ve finished prepping up. Say … fifteen minutes?’ (Settle your matters prior to departure)
>>
>>4806999
>>‘I’d be honored. Just let me visit my quarters to pick some necessities. I’ll meet you two by the transport once I’ve finished prepping up. Say … fifteen minutes?’ (Settle your matters prior to departure)
>>
>>4806999
>‘I’d be honored. Just let me visit my quarters to pick some necessities. I’ll meet you two by the transport once I’ve finished prepping up. Say … fifteen minutes?’ (Settle your matters prior to departure)
>>
>>4806999
>‘I’d be honored. Just let me visit my quarters to pick some necessities. I’ll meet you two by the transport once I’ve finished prepping up. Say … fifteen minutes?’ (Settle your matters prior to departure)
>>
Just wanted to apologize as Eid is now here and I actually just used the last 24 hours to relax. I should be around tomorrow at approximately 9 AM (GMT+8) for questing needs. So be here if you want to be around for what happens next!
>>
>‘I’d be honored. Just let me visit my quarters to pick some necessities. I’ll meet you two by the transport once I’ve finished prepping up. Say … fifteen minutes?’ (Settle your matters prior to departure)

Maybe fifteen minutes was a bit of a stretch to settle your affairs.

The jog across the base’s titanic compound was very much an endeavor hooked with effort, as you’d grievously underestimated the sheer size of Azur Lane Headquarters, a practical artificial island in itself, housing thousands of members of the organization’s personnel … and a myriad of facilities both for storage and in operational capacities, looping around the shoulder and shore of one of the moderately-sized islands that made up the archipelago that the brass had deemed a worthy spot to call home, smack dab in the middle of the Pacific. The day-to-day personnel are friendly enough to acknowledge you with the raising of hands and the occasional tipping of their work caps, moving crates and operating machinery with a more rushed air about them than usual … in all likelihood hoping to finish up their work quickly enough for a quick jaunt across during their breaks to take in what they could of the festivities. You catch a gaggle of engineers already in what passed in their eyes for casual wear, as well as the familiar sight of hanging jumpers and the like of the non-essential personnel as they make their own way to the transport. Even on weekends, Island-HQ shuttle-slash-boat was an infrequent size of service, much to the chagrin of curfew-jumpers not capable of walking on water … and you weren’t about to risk the ire of your superiors by loitering about any longer around the dormitories than you should.

Your wallet, your cell phone and your identification pass is all you need. You’re in and out and there would be—

Cadet.

The icy, if slightly-squeaky, tone of voice prompts you to freeze in place just as you take a step past one of the pillars in front of the dormitory’s entrance. Wincing, you turn around … and find yourself face-to-face with the flat, judging gaze of one pint-sized Instructor, her long sleeves falling past her thighs and her over-sized coat looking absolutely ridiculous, even at her tier of authority.

‘I thought that you said that you’d have that report on my desk as soon as possible?

None of that, however, discounted the intimidation factor of Long Island.

Attack drones, even ones that looked as silly as ancient, miniature airplanes of an age past, were still attack drones.

She scowls, waiting for your answer.

>‘Instructor, Abyssal attack!’ (Distract her)
>‘I’m sorry. I’ll do it right away, ma’am.’ (Concede your error and correct it)
>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)
>‘I was about to go to the parade!’ (Whine)
>Write-In
>>
>>4812921
>>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)
>>
>>4812921
>>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)
>>
>>4812921
>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)
>>
>>4811907
Will we get to have unprotected handholding in this qst
>>
>>4812921
>>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)
and also
>Abyssal attack
>do you mean sirens attack
>>
>>4813062
Yesssss ... :)
>>
>>4812921
>>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)
>>
>>4812921
>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)
>>
>>4812921
>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)
>>
>>4812921
>‘Instructor, Abyssal (siren) attack!’ (Distract her)
>>
>‘I’m sorry … but something came up, ma’am. Can I drop it off tomorrow?’ (Negotiate)

Your shoulders stiffen under the weight of her glare, but you otherwise remain silent, unwilling to follow-up further than absolutely necessary. Instructors were to be lightly tread around, after all … especially when their four-foot and change frames had the capacity to decimate population centers all on their own. Long Island scrutinizes you as you try your best to stay still, refusing to so much as spare the dormitory entrance another glance without her permission.

After what seems like an eternity, you get your answer: a tired sigh and a shake of the head.

‘Trying to catch the festivities, huh?’

You’re not sure if the question was a rhetorical one, a thought she just happened to utter out loud or an actual, direct inquiry into your sudden request and retread of an early agreement.

In any case, you …

>Keep silent
>‘Yes, ma’am. I’m hoping to catch the parade, ma’am.’ (Flat)
>‘I was requested by Instructor Formidable and Lieutenant Belfast to act as their chaperon, ma’am.’ (Direct)
>Write-In
>>
>>4822996
>‘I was requested by Instructor Formidable and Lieutenant Belfast to act as their chaperon, ma’am.’ (Direct)
>>
>>4822996
>>‘I was requested by Instructor Formidable and Lieutenant Belfast to act as their chaperon, ma’am.’ (Direct)
>>
>>4822996
>>‘I was requested by Instructor Formidable and Lieutenant Belfast to act as their chaperon, ma’am.’ (Direct)
>>
>>4822996
>>‘I was requested by Instructor Formidable and Lieutenant Belfast to act as their chaperon, ma’am.’ (Direct)
>>
>‘I was requested by Instructor Formidable and Lieutenant Belfast to act as their chaperon, ma’am.’ (Direct)

Long Island lets out a great big breath in response, her shoulders slumping as her arms flop and hang, her form suddenly bereft of energy. You open your mouth to tack something else on, but immediately close it as you realize that the only thing your country-saddled buttocks could probably do was exacerbate a situation which required nothing of the sort. Your Instructor’s lips tremble slightly, as if struggling with the same issues that currently pervaded your own person … before immediately lifting her arms, long sleeves flopping as she morphs from stern short-stout into a child brandishing half a tantrum.

Fine,’ she declares, a bit more than a hiss but a lot less than a growl, following up with a very stern poke of the finger into your abdomen, her long black hair seemingly floating in defiance of the concept of physics as you feel the weight of power behind that covered fingernail you currently feel pressed right into your skin. ‘But I expect to see your report in triplicate for the administration and for the records department before tomorrow afternoon. I’m not about to put my butt on the line for someone who doesn’t even want to bother with himself in the first place … so you better get serious about this. The least you can present yourself by is an actual adherence to protocol and efficiency.’

‘Yes, ma’am,’ you acknowledge, nodding … before realizing something amiss. ‘Wait, triplicate?

‘Of course,’ she harrumphs. ‘What? You think bureaucracy waits around for your convenience?’

‘B-But that means that I’d have to drop by the record review unit!’

‘And that means that I won’t have to!’

It was time for your shoulders to slump. As much as the allure of the parade and festivities captured your imagination, you couldn’t think of anything more boring than having to sit through the filing department to properly allocate your current failures. Part of your motivation for insisting on the trial, even so late into the testing period, was so that you didn’t have to inevitably sit through the appeals office again to keep yourself in the reserves until the next batch of tests came along. You’d, in fact, rather shove the Wisdom Cubes into your skull to hard-wire yourself into a willing squadron over having to shuffle through that dredge of an office.

One would think in an age where the written word traveled at light-speed, they would have figured out how to make bureaucracy efficient.

>‘On second thought, ma’am …’ (Finish your filing duties now)
>‘Consider it done by tomorrow, ma’am.’ (Delay them for later)
>Write-In
>>
>>4823246
>>‘Consider it done by tomorrow, ma’am.’ (Delay them for later)
>>
>>4823246
>‘Consider it done by tomorrow, ma’am.’ (Delay them for later)
>>
>>4823246
>>‘Consider it done by tomorrow, ma’am.’ (Delay them for later)
>>
>>4823246
>Consider it done by tomorrow, ma’am.’ (Delay them for later)
>…and thank you.
>>
>>4823332
Supporting this
>>
>>4823332
yeah do this
>>
The urge to bully her gently is hard to resist.
>>
Testing, testing.
Banned?
>>
>‘Consider it done by tomorrow, ma’am.’ (Delay them for later)

Long Island’s expression morphs from apprehension, to irritation … before making a final stop at reservation. Your decision to put off your bureaucratic responsibilities had, predictably and rather obviously, done you no favors in regards to her mood … and not without some understanding from your part. Regardless of the one standing on the other side of the table, you wouldn’t be forgiving of yourself, either, should your role be looped and stuck onto hers. Especially not after she’d taken the time to listen to your appeal and acts as a proctor for your sake on the busiest date possible.

She lets out one final sigh, slumping her shoulders in full resignation of your decision. You’re actually quite surprised that she was so … lethargic in regards to her pursuit of you (for her standards, in any case; probably came with the territory of being an Instructor and a war veteran), but Long Island doesn’t give you more than a few moments to ponder, raising one sleeve-covered finger and giving you a harsh poke, wearing an expression more appropriate for a grammar school attendee than a sentient war machine capable of leveling cities. You stumble slightly, the poke feeling more akin to a half-hearted jab by a world champion boxer, the tip-toes of your right foot the only thing stopping you from clumsily dropping onto your behind. Long Island stares up at you, wrinkling her nose and communicating her demand for your full, undivided attention without a word, the air of a stern disciplinarian falling about her as you remember your place as her cadet.

Fine,’ Long Island practically snarls, ‘but make sure you do. You’re lucky the bureaucratic limbo’s practically snoring away for the weekend, but you’re going to have to make sure those stamps and copies get filed and reviewed before the next cycle, or you’re going to be in a lot of trouble. If there’s anything that the administration hates, it’s missing paperwork … and I’m not going to pull you out of any pits you’re digging out with your own shovels. You got that?.’

‘Crystal clear, Instructor,’ you return, dropping in a salute turning your gaze up, silently thankful for the Instructor’s leniency, especially with the circumstances that rolled beside them. You doubt that any of your human superiors would allow you so much as half an appeal to go through on this morning.

If they were around at all, of course. The island festivities were an enticing prospect, after all …

‘Well, you’re on your own now, then, cadet,’ Long Island lets out, turning on her heel. ‘I better not see a complaint on my desk on Monday, if you get what I mean.’

>‘Yes, ma’am!’ (Hurry up)
>‘Instructor, if I could …’ (Inquire about something else)
>>
>>4858298
>‘Yes, ma’am!’ (Hurry up)
>>
>>4858298
>>‘Yes, ma’am!’ (Hurry up)
>>
>>4858298
>>‘Yes, ma’am!’ (Hurry up)
>and thank you, ma'am! I won't let you down.

this time.
>>
>>4858298
>>‘Yes, ma’am!’ (Hurry up)
>>
>>4858298
>‘Yes, ma’am!’ (Hurry up)
>>
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>‘Yes, ma’am!’ (Hurry up)

With that declaration of assurance, you’re in the dormitories with a quick swipe and dash. You’re the only one bothering to spend any stretch of time this morning lingering within its confines, with the vast majority of the cadets and graduates more than likely drowning themselves in the festivities. You make sure to tuck everything away into your pockets: phone, wallet and identification before making a hard dash out … almost stumbling into the custodial crew making their way in, earning yourself a titanic earful as your back hastily retreats from the irritated gentlemen (despite the quick call of apology over your shoulder) as you go from long strides to quick hops of the feet, cursing yourself for the fifteen minutes you’d promised, knowing full-well just how large the base was.

To your credit, you’re only over the limit by about five minutes.

‘What took you so long?’

Formidable’s arms are crossed underneath her chest as she stares down at your weary form, sweat dripping from your brow and nostrils flaring and constricting at a rapid pace of exchange, before looking up to find that her query had not merely been one of idle inquiry, as she very much looks the part of an Instructor demanding a letter of excuse for her tardy student.

Sitting on a bollard by the edge of the port, Belfast looks on with amusement as the shuttle putters around, not fifteen seconds from reaching its destination.

You open your mouth to reply, exhaustion clouding your senses as you find your throat parched from the effort that you’d exerted in trying to meet your own stupidly unrealistic window.

>Don’t answer her
>‘I’m not late; the boat’s just arrived, hasn’t it?’ (Protest)
>‘Some last minute business I had to settle.’ (Curt)
>‘I was held up by Instructor Long Island; had a few things she wanted me to go over before I turned it in for the weekend.’ (Direct)
>‘How’d you get here so fast?’ (Quizzically)
>‘Maybe fifteen minutes was cutting it a little bit into superhuman territory …’ (Muse)
>Write-In
>>
>>4863152
>>‘I was held up by Instructor Long Island; had a few things she wanted me to go over before I turned it in for the weekend.’ (Direct)
>>
>>4863152
>I may have overestimated my capabilities by a bit, but most of it was necessity to negotiate postponement of fulfilling some of my duties.
>>
File: Shuttle Boat.jpg (7 KB, 283x178)
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>‘I was held up by Instructor Long Island; had a few things she wanted me to go over before I turned it in for the weekend.’ (Direct)

A look of what you choose to accept as one of understanding and leniency is what her previously stone-cold expression morphs into; Formidable nods as you stand to your full height, taking the chance to take more measured means of oxygen intake to alleviate your fatigue. Belfast, still sitting on the bollard, watches your exchange with a light, but audible sound of amusement, before pushing herself off with a glance towards the approaching putter of the Azur Lane shuttle rolling about by the dock, performing a practically-instantaneous vector change and coming right up to the docks, a hiss and a clang of a two-foot long boarding ramp hitting concrete and metal edge causing the dozen of so seagulls that had been lazing around the Lieutenant bursting into the air in a hold of panic, prompting you to duck just as one of them elects to do so at a launch angle lower than the rest, almost causing you to barrel into the Instructor.

All aboard!

The ferry had arrived, the unwelcome sight of the irritable boatman calling out from the top of the bow as his vessel rolls up and down with the waves. You attempt to raise your hand to catch the ferry manager’s attention and respond in the positive, however … but find that before you can so much as launch a consonant, that he’d disappeared behind the pitch-dark screen again, his personality as abrasive as ever. He’d never been particularly amicable, or personable … and the worst trips that you had with the man were the ones where you’d been alone for a quick jaunt into the main island during the afternoons, grumbling all the way and throwing a dirty look whenever you were getting off or stepping aboard. Stepping off the docks and onto the ramp, you briefly wonder why Azur Lane didn’t bother to hire at least a few others to help with the rotation, if only so you could roll the dice on a friendly face once in a while … but ultimately, it wasn’t your business to pick at such trivialities, especially when you only really saw his face once every two weeks, at best.

But it especially rankled you that—

Does this weary soul a good turn to see you both again, ladies.

he seemed to reserve his best behavior for the Shipgirls.

He extends one long, thin arm for Formidable to take, personally helping her aboard with gallantry and grace; he mimics his action with Belfast, prompting a trill of amused laughter from the latter as he balances his weight against hers, allowing her to gracefully step onto the ferry.

He turns his back to you, though, effectively making a lanky barrier between you and the two Shipgirls.

If Belfast and Formidable cared for the fact that he’d effectively stepped between the three of you, they didn’t show it.

‘And a good afternoon to you, Joe,' Belfast greets.
>>
>>4863292
>'Joe?' (Confusion)
>'Excuse me, I believe you're in my way.' (Abrasive, irritated)
>'Instructor, Lieutenant, shall we?' (Cut right back in)
>Do nothing; keep your patience about you
>Write-In
>>
>>4863303
>'Instructor, Lieutenant, shall we?' (Cut right back in)
>>
>>4863303
>>'Joe?' (Confusion)
Pleased to make your acquaintance.
>>
>'Joe?' (Confusion)

The scowl that he wears as he turns around to face is almost as routine as the morning bugle. Still … if Instructor Formidable and Lieutenant Belfast got along enough with him, you found no reason to not at least manage to afford the courtesy of acquaintanceship with the man. He’s one head shorter than you, with a dark, olive complexion to go with a pair of wrinkled, irritable eyes. His hair is an odd shade, somewhere between brown and blonde with odd specks of green that appeared to be scattered in small, isolated spots along his bristly crown. He’s very much of a generation prior to yours, with bare red hands akin to claws more than anything remotely human. It’s hard to call him a native, of the island population, as he speaks with a rough dialect that resembles a desert-roaming southerner than he does the typical melody of the indigenous population. You couldn’t call him a military man either, as you explicitly know that he’d run a fishing business some time prior to the war, but had not bothered to properly return to it since, for whatever reason.

But the ferryman’s—Joe’s—head turns upward to meet your gaze, his irritable expression deepening as you had apparently addressed him without any manner of formality preceding it. Not that you were specifically addressing him so much as you were merely voicing your surprise that he was on a proper first-name basis with your own set of acquaintances.

‘Huh,’ he lets out, appearing to size you up.

>‘I’ll leave you to it.’ (Wave the three of them off and set yourself down)
>‘I don’t think we’ve ever really been … formally introduced.’ (Introduce yourself proper)
>‘You know each other?’ (Question how they know one another)
>Hold your gaze, but stay silent
>Write-In
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>>4863453
>>Hold your gaze, but stay silent
>>
>>4863453
>Hold your gaze, but stay silent
>>
>Hold your gaze, but stay silent

Despite the rough expression he sports, you don’t find yourself the least bit intimidated. You are, however, extremely apprehensive in your approach, not just due to the recent reveal in regards to the shared amicability between Formidable, Belfast and the man you now know as Joe, but because of the fact that your grandmother had been very adamant in beating the importance of first impressions into your being from the moment you could so much as pronounce a vowel without blubbering … regardless of who was on the other side, and while there were exceptions that you’d struck, you had to admit that you didn’t know this man well enough to drop him right into that slot.

Finally, after what feels like forever, he gives a small nod—either of acknowledgment or approval, you aren’t certain—before scratching his cheek, making a sound akin to a tiger’s growl as he tips his shuttle minder’s hat to your two companions, excusing himself to tend to his duties. You spare the empty dock a glance, the scattered seagulls returning as the automated ramp clattering noisily back onto the ship as it rolls with a loud buzz and accompanying sputter, turning with the agility of a speed boat half its size, the public announcement system giving a lazy warning for passengers to not needlessly stand about … right as you check your shoulder into the door frame. From below, you spy a clear shot to the vessel’s master, briefly wondering if his haste had been intentionally for your inconvenience.

Belfast and Formidable are in their seats on one side of the boat, Belfast wearing the same mysterious smile while Formidable swings one leg over the other, looking oddly contemplative. You yourself wobble your way past the two small steps heading into the passenger bay, clumsily plopping your behind on an oddly violent swerve from the vessel … and end up on your side, splayed across three seats.

Formidable’s lip twitches upward slightly.

Belfast, at the very least, has the courtesy to keep that prim countenance of hers.

Grimacing, you set yourself upright once again, dusting yourself off as you lay back into your seat, across from your two companions, thinking that it was at least a ten minute journey around the archipelago and the secondary island before it would finally dock. A glance at your watch tells you that you had at least two to three hours before the parade finally started, and—

You glance upward.

Maybe some idle chatter would do good to pass the time? Not that ten minutes were long, of course, but …

>Stay silent for the journey
>Ask how they’re acquainted with the ferryman, Joe
>‘So who’s, uh … leading the parade this year?’
>‘I’m kind of surprised that the two of you aren’t taking part. I remember seeing you out there live …’
>‘I probably said this before, but … thanks, again.’
>Write-In
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>>4863486
>>‘I probably said this before, but … thanks, again.’
>>
>>4863486
>>‘So who’s, uh … leading the parade this year?
>>
Testing
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>>4863486
>>‘So who’s, uh … leading the parade this year?’
>>
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>‘So who’s, uh … leading the parade this year?’

It had been Hornet, of the Eagle Union, the year prior. This year’s, however, hadn’t exactly had a front and center approach to the presentation and the marketing, with each banner and visual cue showing a host of girls rather than a singular one for the audience to fixate upon. There hadn’t been much in the way of patterns and rotations either, as even the betting pool on the valedictorian and his ship alleged partner only held true a scarce thirty percent of the time, as did unattached shipgirls and elected ones. This year’s batch of visual marketing pieces had no such pattern whatsoever to carve out a guess from … and the brass had been more focused on the shoring up of reserves than they had with the festivities at all, even if that didn’t stop the majority of the island population, cadets and Commanders included, from counting down the days.

‘We’re not sure, either,’ Formidable admits, sighing as she and Belfast spare each other a glance. ‘I think the shortlist put it down to … New Jersey and Renown, but I can’t say for certain.’

‘Too much work, that,’ Belfast laughs, swinging one leg over the other. You find yourself quite surprised by Belfast’s statement, having known her to be an utter workaholic, even on her more … lethargic days (if that could even be defined as such).

I think most of us are just averse to the idea of having to write that speech,’ Formidable states, wrinkling her nose in distaste. ‘I think there’s only a handful that would actually think scribbling what manner of tacky hyperbole in-between half-tasteful soliloquy to be any measure of … commendable. Wouldn’t you say so, Belfast?

Belfast covers her lips with embarrassment, hanging her head in guilt while her eyes dance with amusement … as she probably should, as three years prior, she’d been the one front and center, in a beautiful blue dress and paragraphs of words that you’re quite sure, by her reaction, that she would rather forget. You hadn’t actually thought that the Shipgirls felt that way about their little niche, as you’d always believed that their external endeavors would be approached with confidence and poise.

Or perhaps that had just been your own perspective on the matter.

How you saw them and how they felt were two wholly different things, altogether.

Although, it did feel kind of funny to think that even ancient war machines could have bouts of stage fright and tendencies of introversion, even under all that.

Formidable,’ Belfast protests, throwing her friend a playful glare.

‘It was your speech,’ Formidable muses, snickering.

>‘I actually thought that your speech was great.’
>Join in Formidable’s amusement of the matter
>Stay silent
>Write-In
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>>4863891
>>‘I actually thought that your speech was great.’
>>
>>4863891

>I think it was worth it. We need to be reminded from time to time of the good things around us, even if they may seem corny at times.
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>>4863891
>‘I actually thought that your speech was great.’
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>>4863891
>>‘I actually thought that your speech was great.’
>>
File: Lieutenant!.jpg (161 KB, 850x1049)
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>‘I actually thought that your speech was great.’

Huh?

Eh?

Their twin looks of surprise take you by surprise.

‘Um …’

>‘I did!’ (Defensive)
>‘It was very eloquent. Didn’t drag on too long and … snapped to the point. I’ve heard dozers before and yours definitely wasn’t one, Lieutenant.’ (Reassure)
>‘I thought that your address was sincere, at the very least. No veils, no poetry, just … putting all out there for people to take, however they chose to take it. Maybe you didn’t set out to be inspirational, but there’s something about just saying things from the gut, you know?’ (Honest)
>‘It wasn’t boring, at least!’ (Panic)
>‘What, you … don’t tell me you didn’t mean any of it?’ (Affronted)
>Retreat on your stance
>Write-In
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>>4863945
>>‘I thought that your address was sincere, at the very least. No veils, no poetry, just … putting all out there for people to take, however they chose to take it. Maybe you didn’t set out to be inspirational, but there’s something about just saying things from the gut, you know?’ (Honest)
>>
>>4863945
>>‘I thought that your address was sincere, at the very least. No veils, no poetry, just … putting all out there for people to take, however they chose to take it. Maybe you didn’t set out to be inspirational, but there’s something about just saying things from the gut, you know?’ (Honest)
>>
>>4863945
>‘I thought that your address was sincere, at the very least. No veils, no poetry, just … putting all out there for people to take, however they chose to take it. Maybe you didn’t set out to be inspirational, but there’s something about just saying things from the gut, you know?’ (Honest)
>>
>>4863945
>>‘I thought that your address was sincere, at the very least. No veils, no poetry, just … putting all out there for people to take, however they chose to take it. Maybe you didn’t set out to be inspirational, but there’s something about just saying things from the gut, you know?’ (Honest)