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>Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?searchall=beyond+that+blue
>Discord: https://discord.gg/D2QGKxBd87

>‘You’re meeting up with Commander Tague? Must be serious.’

‘Well, not directly,’ Belfast sighs, shifting herself slightly to the left to avoid the river of human beings from continuously bumping into her. ‘The JOC called in some misplaced time-tables and they need someone with clearance to verify the situation. It just so happens that the tossers that were supposed to put this in for the JOC to have on their marks for the day haven’t filed in the changes required … or that they have and are just taking the afternoon off for a sneak in on the festivities. It’s not as if it’s an abnormality … but administration and bureaucracy doesn’t care for deviations from protocol being marked down as acceptable incidents.’

Bismarck giggles behind a closed fist. You wear a frown, not quite getting the humor yourself.

Well, this is as far I can go with you lot,’ she lets out, putting her phone away and wheeling around to depart. ‘As much as I’d like to lean in for the graduation ceremony and parade, I believe it would be healthier for Akashi’s sanity if I sorted this confusion out before one of the marine commanders launch themselves into another complaint about us sticking pencils in their hair necks.

Bismarck snorts in amusement.

You’re not sure that you understand the sense of humor of the Ironblood, but …

>‘Why don’t we come with you? We came out here together, didn't we?’
>‘Be seeing you, Lieutenant. Make sure to pick up a pair of earplugs on the way in.’
>Write-In
>>
>‘Why don’t we come with you? We came out here together, didn't we?’
>>
>>4983794
>>‘Be seeing you, Lieutenant. Make sure to pick up a pair of earplugs on the way in.’
>>
>>4983794
>>‘Be seeing you, Lieutenant. Make sure to pick up a pair of earplugs on the way in.’
>>
>>4983794

>Would you prefer our company, lieutenant? We came here together, after all.
>But good luck and solid earplugs if not.
>>
>>4983794
>>‘Why don’t we come with you? We came out here together, didn't we?’
>>
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>‘Why don’t we come with you? We came out here together, didn't we?’

Speak for yourself,’ Formidable snorts. ‘The last thing I want is to have those damn jocks making jokes about when my next porno’s coming out.’

>Don’t answer it. It’s a trap with neon signs. Focus on Belfast.
>‘To be absolutely and completely fair …’ (Trigger the trap)
>‘Now that’s a waiting list I wouldn’t putting myself on.’ (Set the trap up and put your foot on it)
>‘Wait, you mean you don’t moonlight as a porn star?’ (Forgo the trap, tie a straight noose)
>‘It’s not the military without some inter-service rivalry, you know?’ (Disarm the trap)
>‘Too easy.’ (Dismiss)
>Write-In
>>
>>4984634
>>‘It’s not the military without some inter-service rivalry, you know?’ (Disarm the trap)
>>
>>4984634
>‘It’s not the military without some inter-service rivalry, you know?’ (Disarm the trap)
>>
>>4984634
>‘It’s not the military without some inter-service rivalry, you know?’ (Disarm the trap)
>>
>>4984634
>>‘It’s not the military without some inter-service rivalry, you know?’ (Disarm the trap)
>>
>>4984634
>>‘It’s not the military without some inter-service rivalry, you know?’ (Disarm the trap)
>>
Sorry, had to make a trip to the bank. I'm back. Running again in about an hour-ish
>>
>‘It’s not the military without some inter-service rivalry, you know?’ (Disarm the trap)

Bismarck giggles again.

You really don’t understand the Ironblood sense of humor.

Belfast roughly shifts her hat around, huffing as the four of you huddle close together as a particularly large wave of people leak out from the stores and spill onto the once-sparse collection of mortals, signifying that all your wandering had probably—and with a glance at your watch, tell you, correctly—that you’d dawdled around the area enough for lunch-time rush, eternal and true, to barge right into your time-table without your notice. Tourists and locals brandish souvenirs and balloons, parents hoisting their children while revelers swing arms around shoulders and drag themselves to their next destination, all while street hawkers peddle from the green belt all the way to the main street on the docks.

‘You’re not the one they unbuckle their restraints for,’ the Lieutenant grumbles, her wide hat almost catching you on the chin for what feels like the tenth time that day. ‘And it’s not like they put variety in their efforts, either; I could at least tolerate it if they’d bother with something more creative than surface-level insults.’

‘The lowest hanging fruits are the easiest to pick,’ you reply, accentuating the non-existent posh of your rural dialect. ‘Besides, it’s just par for the course, right? Not like you’re exempt from returning fire either.’

‘I’d just like some professionalism and a monthly due that doesn’t involve the correlation between my breast size and jock budget cuts,’ she quips, snorting as you try to keep your own amusement under lock and key. ‘Doesn’t help that the bloody administration office’s solution is to just put up with it. And you should see what they call Akashi …’

‘Wait, you call her a midget every other week,’ Formidable mentions pointedly.

‘Well, yes, but that’s because she is an annoying midget. Very different.’

‘I believe we are … going a little off-script,’ Bismarck declares, wearing a diplomatic—and authoritative—smile as she steps forward. ‘As much as I like to hear more of your comedy troupe of an operation … it’d probably be much more efficient to have it out of the way instead of needing an hour to ponder the issue before even so much as making an attempt it, wouldn’t it?’

Belfast tips her hat, letting out a sigh of resignation. ‘It would be,’ she grumbles, appearing not at all pleased by Bismarck’s bout of logic.

‘You know, where I come from—’

You don’t fail to notice the disgusted snorts of the Captain and Lieutenant.
>>
‘—there’s a mutual understanding regarding responsibilities and jurisdiction; of what is expected from each individual, each cog and wheel. That the Eagle Union and the Royal Navy would proceed with such dysfunction is brilliant!

Bismarck grins. It’s much too wide for your comfort.

Formidable and Belfast don’t return the sentiment.

>‘Front row seats, it is.’ (All of you go together)
>‘Instructor, would you …’ (Split up)
>Write-In
>>
>>4986288
>>‘Front row seats, it is.’ (All of you go together)
>>
>>4986288
>‘Front row seats, it is.’ (All of you go together)
>>
>>4986288
>>‘Front row seats, it is.’ (All of you go together)
>>
>>4986288
>>‘Front row seats, it is.’ (All of you go together)
>>
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>‘Front row seats, it is.’ (All of you go together)

You’re not all-aboard with the arrangement.

In fact, you feel almost … emasculated, being carried like a bride over a threshold in the arms of—

>Captain Bismarck
>Lieutenant Belfast
>Instructor Formidable
>>
>>4986490
>Instructor Formidable
>>
>>4986490
>>Lieutenant Belfast
>>
>>4986490
>>Captain Bismarck
>>
>>4986494
>>4986506
>>4986510
We have a winner.
>>
>>4986490
>>Lieutenant Belfast
>>
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>Captain Bismarck

The Captain smiles down at you, an inquisitive, yet hesitant expression peeking through the large black lenses of her tacky eye-wear. You feel your cheeks heat up slightly as you shuffle your calves and shoulders into a more comfortable position … only to find that the only thing resembling proper auxiliary support were the large—

‘What’s on your mind, Cadet?’

There were many things on your mind, really. Namely how, even with your insistence at remaining incognito, the girls—your superiors—had chosen to override the sensible note to hail a cab on the outskirts of the festival to re-equip their operational forms and cause an immediate ruckus by making a change of clothes behind a moored boat. There was the fact that in all that commotion, you’d gotten yourself three eyefuls of magically—and scientifically—sculpted and engineered bare skin to no small amount of embarrassment … followed by the duty of needing to ward off curious onlookers before being launched twenty-or-so feet into the air hoisting a bag of their recently-purchased disguises and (with great restraint upon your irritation with the entire situation) being carried off like kidnapped damsel holding onto said shopping bag.

All because Belfast and Formidable somehow had a grudge against the island cabs.

‘Not much, Captain,’ you mumble, trying your best to sound as respectful as you could with the sprinkles of sea-water splashing against your face, holding onto the bag of hats, dresses and tacky shoes as though it were a security blanket as you remember something that requires your immediate attention. ‘Sorry that I dragged you with us.’

‘There is nothing to apologize for,’ Bismarck responds, that smile still upon her authoritative features … and looking very awkward behind that pair of tacky sunglasses that she’d deemed worthy of a place on her choice of ensemble. ‘I’m actually quite glad to have … I believe the expression is bumped into you. It’s not unpleasant to come out here and have to unwind, of course, no … but … well, there’s a saying: even the flattest of meals tastes better with company.

She turns her gaze towards your two direct superiors, both forming up on Bismarck’s starboard, making up an impromptu formation with Belfast as the vanguard, Bismarck dragging lightly at an even speed while Formidable brings up Belfast’s own starboard. In your mind, it plays like a—

[BEAT]

Darkness. You see nothing.

Something pulses.

Something …

0 %

Connection …

WHOA!

Bismarck stumbles. Your ear glides against water as it becomes obvious that you’re leaning head first into water. Your eye stings. Sunlight, water and darkness. A repetition that is made all the more uncomfortable by—

You are floating.

You can’t breathe, you’re—

It’s dark.

Dark.

>Write-In
>>
>>4986680
>Focus and concentrate on the connection
>>
>>4986682
Supporting
>>
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>Focus and concentrate on the connection

Connection?

What connection?

A deafening, shrieking, squeaking sound invades your ears. Your vision—or your lack of it—is blurred within blue and white lines that are so blinding in their intensity and uncompromising in their contrast that your skull practically burns as you find yourself unable to blink or turn away. Up is down and down is up. Left and right are indistinguishable; you swim in an ocean of sharp things, cold things, hot things, all raking across your skin as you struggle for a hold on something to keep you from …

From …

Drowning?

You are cold, curled up and shivering. You don’t know why or how; you have no body to feel cold by … or curl up into, for that matter. In this abyss beyond anything of your imagi—

No, not beyond anything. No, not at all.

Yes.

It is a place alien, distant, frightening, but … beyond imagining? Unknown? Nothing of the sort.

There’s a strange sort of … familiarity about you. You have no arms and no legs to stretch, but you feel as though you are being … willingly confined, like the yoke of an egg kept safe within its shell. You are not so spread out that you feel stretched and uneven, but … there is something … yes. Familiar. Definitely familiar. Darkness, cold and without light, yes, but … you aren’t frightened; you’re not scared. Emotion … leaves you; in its place are calculative observations stacked upon logical connections interspersed with matrices devoid of bias and discontinuity. Rage, fear, indifference … measures itself stack on stack, compiling in a way that feels so new and wondrous that you can’t help but—

Captain?

The word seems to echo into a distant eternity.

But you see her.

Eyes dull, hands pale and palms upward, seated on an invisible chair with her legs tucked to one side. Her cloak draped over her, her uniform prim … you wonder why she doesn’t look sopping wet like you feel she should. Bismarck lays still, prone, pale and silent. You move through the darkness. It is like swimming, like floating … like drowning. You cannot breathe, but … at the same time, you don’t feel the need to.

The words moth to a flame apply to you more than any other description possibly could.

But at the same time, you feel as though she is—

‘Oh, is it you?’

—doing the same.

Bismarck’s dainty fingers stretch upward, reaching out for you.

Her expression is melancholic, resigned, tired

[BEAT]

TAKE IT.

That sound returns.

TAKE HER.

Why?

TAKE IT.

But she …

TAKE HER.

‘It’s okay.’

TAKE IT.

But she …

TAKE HER.

Why does she looks so sad?

>TAKE IT
>TAKE HER
>Gently close her hand
>Write-In
>>
>>4986748

>gently take her hand
>>
>>4986761
Same thing as "TAKE HER". No discernible difference whether you do it gently or roughly.
>>
>>4986748
>>Gently close her hand
>>
>>4986748
>TAKE HER
>>
>>4986764
What a versatile lady Bismarck is
>>
>>4986748
>>free her
>>
>>4986748
>>Gently close her hand
>>
>>4986748
>>TAKE IT
>>
>>4987014
>>4986769
do not abandon Bisko i swear to god
>>
>>4986748
>>TAKE HER
>>
>>4986748
>>4986942
changing to
>Gently close her hand
>>
I'm alive, lads. Posting up in a few.
>>
>>4986748
>TAKE HER
>>
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>Gently close her hand

You have hands, fingers, fingernails. They carefully reach out for Bismarck’s out-stretched hand. Your thumb brushes against hers, causing a sensation to run through you that could only be described as liquid electricity. There is an invasion, an intrusion, a trespass of a sort going on here, gentle yet uncompromising in its course. You can feel yourself taking shape … taking form … the sensation of the dark, cold, shell of an abyss slowly peeling away from you, being replaced by a sort of hot, constant pull onto a floor that you can’t see. You can feel your toes, your feet, your weight come back upon you as you hold onto Bismarck’s hand, her eyes dull, her smile apologetic and her hand …

No, you think to yourself, shaking your head, this ain’t how it should be … nope.

You gently brush your thumb along her bare knuckles … before closing her fingers into a fist, tentatively closing her hands before pushing the closed fist back towards her.

And her eyes light up in surprise.

Color returns to her cheeks while her mouth opens slightly as the scene around you changes, physically, from a cold, secure darkness, into a chaotic mess of disorienting gusts.

The sky returns.

You can feel the afternoon sun on your—

You can’t breathe.

Complete chunks of sea-water exit what feels like every possible hole on your face.

‘Give him some room.’

Why did everything taste and smell so horrible?

‘You’re all right, son. You’re all right.’

You feel helpful smacks of an open palm against your back, assisting you in regards to your expulsion of sea-water from your lungs and throat. After what feels like an agonizing eternity, you finally find yourself ready to take air in again, coughing and inhaling consciously and desperately as your disorientation begins to fade.

You are sitting on concrete, the sound of the ocean rumbling softly to your left. There are two unknown gentlemen in your immediate field of view, both of them donning the uniforms of differently-graded medical specialists of the JOC. One of them wore a helmet, while the other did not. You do not comment on the why.

There is a part of you, however, that mind just how … touchy the former is. Your jaw, cheeks and ears come under immediate—and in your mind, very unnecessary—scrutiny, his hands practically threaten to lift your head off your shoulders.

‘Right, right … you’re fine, I think, yup …’

And that’s when you realize you’d arrived at the JOC’s administrative command. You must have—

Cadet.’

The voice sends a chill up your spine.

You look up, meeting the twin glares of a very angry pair of superiors.

‘He needs a little bit of—’

Belfast produces a pulsing blue wisdom cube, the item idly floating in her hand.

It’s yours.
>>
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>Gently close her hand

You have hands, fingers, fingernails. They carefully reach out for Bismarck’s out-stretched hand. Your thumb brushes against hers, causing a sensation to run through you that could only be described as liquid electricity. There is an invasion, an intrusion, a trespass of a sort going on here, gentle yet uncompromising in its course. You can feel yourself taking shape … taking form … the sensation of the dark, cold, shell of an abyss slowly peeling away from you, being replaced by a sort of hot, constant pull onto a floor that you can’t see. You can feel your toes, your feet, your weight come back upon you as you hold onto Bismarck’s hand, her eyes dull, her smile apologetic and her hand …

No, you think to yourself, shaking your head, this ain’t how it should be … nope.

You gently brush your thumb along her bare knuckles … before closing her fingers into a fist, tentatively closing her hands before pushing the closed fist back towards her.

And her eyes light up in surprise.

Color returns to her cheeks while her mouth opens slightly as the scene around you changes, physically, from a cold, secure darkness, into a chaotic mess of disorienting gusts.

‘Huh?’

The sky returns.

You can feel the afternoon sun on your—

You can’t breathe.

Complete chunks of sea-water exit what feels like every possible hole on your face.

‘Give him some room.’

Why did everything taste and smell so horrible?

‘You’re all right, son. You’re all right.’

You feel helpful smacks of an open palm against your back, assisting you in regards to your expulsion of sea-water from your lungs and throat. After what feels like an agonizing eternity, you finally find yourself ready to take air in again, coughing and inhaling consciously and desperately as your disorientation begins to fade.

You are sitting on concrete, the sound of the ocean rumbling softly to your left. There are two unknown gentlemen in your immediate field of view, both of them donning the uniforms of differently-graded medical specialists of the JOC. One of them wore a helmet, while the other did not. You do not comment on the why.

There is a part of you, however, that mind just how … touchy the former is. Your jaw, cheeks and ears come under immediate—and in your mind, very unnecessary—scrutiny, his hands practically threaten to lift your head off your shoulders.

‘Right, right … you’re fine, I think, yup …’

And that’s when you realize you’d arrived at the JOC’s administrative command. You must have—

Cadet.’

The voice sends a chill up your spine.

You look up, meeting the twin glares of a very angry pair of superiors.

‘He needs a little bit of—’

Belfast produces a pulsing blue wisdom cube, the item idly floating in her hand.

It’s yours.
>>
You couldn’t mistake it for any other, even if you’d tried.

>‘Whoops, must have dropped that!’
>‘Lieutenant Belfast, did you bring an unauthorized, activated Cube? Shame!’
>‘That’s … that's mine.’
>Look down in embarrassment
>Write-In
>>
>>4987774
>>‘Whoops, must have dropped that!’
>>
>>4987774
>>Write-In
you may have many questions but i will try to explain but hear me out first
>>
>>4987806
lets go with this i guess
>>
>>4987774
>>‘That’s … that's mine.’


Wew.

I hope we’ll be able to do paperwork for Long Island still.
>>
>>4987769
>‘That’s … that's mine.’
>>
Running in a bit.
>>
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>‘That’s … that's mine.’

You let out a laugh as the words leave your mouth, getting to your feet and reaching out for it … only to find a grip worthy of a thousand strong-men preventing you from so much as nudging from out of the Lieutenant’s hands. Even the Instructor didn’t look particularly forgivable this time, looking at you with a look that reminded you much too much of your aunts after you’d been caught sneaking into the turkey setting. A gulp involuntarily sounds out as the two men—better readers of the situation than you could ever hope to be—wear looks of confusion as they give your two superiors a wide berth, likely assured by your resumption of oxygen intake and refusing to get caught up in whatever nonsense you’d somehow brought to their doorstep.

‘L-Lieutenant?’

With a deep crease upon her brow, Belfast shoots you one last look of dirty disapproval before relinquishing her super-human strength upon the blue, glowing apparatus, which attaches itself to an invisible axis in mid-air, hovering a bare inch above your palm. The pale blue light and the white core within the confines of the cube begins to grow dull as you mentally-activate the trigger sequence for the device, its structure seemingly violating all known laws of physics by morphing identical segments from vertexes and forming a shape very unlike the simple box-like shape it had been before. The segments rotate, expand and shrink … before turning a dull, sickly green, then a dark deep red with a dark core in the center of the seemingly translucent device.

And then it’s a solid blue again.

Deactivated and harmless.

Not that it was harmful in the first place, mind—

You owe the Captain an apology,’ Formidable declares, stern yet even.

Captain Bismarck!

You look around frantically, before discovering that she was standing right behind the doctors, her face communicating her relief that your—

‘I … I’m really sorry, ma’am,’ you practically sputter, bowing so frantically that you could have given the denizens of the Sakura Empire a run for their money. You feel deeply-ashamed at your carelessness; completely forgetting that you’d had a wisdom cube—regardless of its state of activation—in your possession as a Commander-in-training without a proper up-link on restraints while in proximity with a Shipgirl to the point of contact had been a complete farce on your part. You’d performed the practical equivalent of leaving the safety off on a rocket launcher in your rucksack.

Formidable and Belfast shake their heads, thoroughly disappointed with you, as they should be.

You await the tongue-lashing. The recommendation for expulsion. The swift kick to the—

‘Just be careful next time.’

Formidable and Belfast rotating their heads towards her in eerily identical arcs. ‘Oi?’ They both sound out, confused.
>>
‘We should focus on the matter at hand,’ Bismarck declares, her cloak billowing as she turns on her heel, her shoes clicking loudly against the cement as she makes a course for the JOC’s guard shack, leaving you—for the most part—undisciplined for your carelessness. ‘Let us make haste.’

>Write-In
>>
>>4988920
>Uhhh...Yes ma'am
>follow her
>>
>>4988925
Supporting this, hardly want to disagree with her after she just let us off the hook
>>
>>4988925
supporting
>>
>>4988925
supporting
>>
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>Uhhh...Yes ma'am

You find yourself seated in the waiting space of the JOC, your ass parked comfortably on the cushion of a well-made five-man bench overlooking a carpeted space with enough room for three dozen standing and a manned concierge post where a stern-looking woman in the camouflage-blue uniform and the arrow-head indicating just which branch of the armed forces that she belonged to. There was no one else in the area; the waiting space was fairly small, especially compared to aircraft lounges and Azur Lane’s own, but it wasn’t a fault that you could put on them. There wasn’t much that necessitated what the JOC had at present; it wasn’t as though there were tour groups lining up and waiting for their turn. Belfast had been greeted immediately by the officers at the entrance, and while Formidable had been requested by the Lieutenant to tag along for their meeting with Tague, you’d been requested to remain behind until they had the matter sorted.

Being of inferior rank, you comply.

‘Clean,’ a voice beside you mutters, her blue eyes scanning the half-carpeted walls and the tinted window peeking into the outside world.

You’re not quite sure why the Captain had excused herself and chosen to remain with you. Perhaps it was out of a respect for the administrative hierarchy or an awareness and acknowledgment of jurisdiction.

All in all, it felt quite awkward that—

‘Cadet?’

—for some reason, she’d deemed it adequate to park herself right next to you instead of the seat across.

>You find it stressful, especially after that … experience
>Not that you particularly mind, really, especially after that … experience
>Write-In
>>
>>4989002
>>Not that you particularly mind, really, especially after that … experience
>>
>>4989002
>>Not that you particularly mind, really, especially after that … experience
>>
>>4989002
>>Not that you particularly mind, really, especially after that … experience
>>
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>Not that you particularly mind, really, especially after that … experience

‘Yes?'

'Why … didn't you take my hand?'

Her hand?

—the gliding of of a palm, the gentle closing of fingers into a fist, a reluctant, but adamant relinquishment of—

And you remember.

The comfort of the infinite cage of the abyss, coiled up, breathing, drowning. You remember the paradox of your very existence with the confines of a space that was alien, but not quite unknown. Disembodied, disoriented, desperate … you had sought what had been the only light in a dark infinity, reaching and clutching as if for your very breath and existence itself … only to, right at the end, stop.

The sensation of Bismarck’s fingers in that dark space are not quite fresh in your mind despite the relatively short gap between the accident and the present hour, but they linger all the same. The Captain’s regard for proximity is relinquished in this pursuit of her curiosity, her once-cold eyes sparkling with inquisitiveness and her brow creased enough to show that she would take no answer that was not eligible in the black-and-white of print.

—a solemn face, resigned and accepting, reaching out for you—

The power to level a city stares right back at you, unflinching.

—not reluctant, but not eager in action or conduct—

You wonder if it was too late to pursue a career back on the mainland. One of your uncles could probably use some help with the harvest.

>Refuse to answer
>Divert the issue
>Keep silent
>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)
>‘It was my choice to make. I … chose not to.’ (Reject her outright)
>Write-In
>>
>>4989120
>>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)
>>‘It was my choice to make. I … chose not to.’ (Reject her outright)
>>
>>4989132
Choose one, please. These are very divergent paths.
>>
>>4989120
>>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)
>>
>>4989120
>>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)
>>
>>4989120
>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)
>>
>>4989120
>>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)
>>
>>4989120
>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)
>>
I'm running [SOON]. Catch you guys then.
>>
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>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)

Ha?

‘I know what that was,’ you press on, furrowing your brows as you feel your muscles tense. ‘That was an unregulated bridge attempt between streams caught in mediation. I saw the interface and the VI assist patching us through on a two-point link trial lock. I didn’t really realize it then, but … it’d take a strong brand of stupidity to not at least be able to recognize the VI patch integration after getting your brain poked with it hundreds of times, right?

You force a laugh, trying your best to keep the atmosphere as light as you could possibly manage. You are uncomfortable; you silently curse your absent-minded self for completely forgetting the protocols regarding the wisdom cube, especially with the dozens upon dozens of lectures by personnel and shipgirl alike, doing their damned best to carve just how vital and dangerous the technology that you literally held in your fingertips could be. There were no jokes regarding Commanders and the extreme nature of the cubes … and your complete idiocy—born of your enthusiasm—had almost roped in one of the most decorated warriors of your time into your shenanigans without so much as a day in-between.

You are a moron.

You’re lucky that Belfast and Formidable hadn’t elected to drag you in for a court-martial.

‘I … I did reach out for your hand,’ you continue, letting out a sigh as your thought go hazy. ‘I remember holding it, but … I guess that the reason I … didn’t go through with it was because …’

It was as though you’d been put into the psychiatric evaluation for your week again. Shrinks were a daily part of the life of Commanders, what with all the extreme mental and spiritual strain—at their most literal, natch—that they were subjected to in order to maintain the … bridge. You’d seen the files, the notes … the lock and key, so to speak, of fulfilling your role between the Regulatory and Ancillary pillars within the formation. How you were, ultimately, unable to turn said lock-and-key.

You’d been able to use the SSR excuse for so long that it had just become too easy to keep using.

But, ultimately, you know that it’s because you’re afraid.

Not for yourself, however.

‘I … believed that it wasn’t so much mine to take as it was, yours to give, Captain, if you don’t mind me saying.’
>>
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>‘It’s a bit complicated, but … when I … well … I guess I felt like you didn’t want me to.’ (Explain yourself, sincerely and with all the stupidity that comes with it)

Ha?

‘I know what that was,’ you press on, furrowing your brows as you feel your muscles tense. ‘That was an unregulated bridge attempt between streams caught in mediation. I saw the interface and the VI assist patching us through on a two-point link trial lock. I didn’t really realize it then, but … it’d take a strong brand of stupidity to not at least be able to recognize the VI patch integration after getting your brain poked with it hundreds of times, right?

You force a laugh, trying your best to keep the atmosphere as light as you could possibly manage. You are uncomfortable; you silently curse your absent-minded self for completely forgetting the protocols regarding the wisdom cube, especially with the dozens upon dozens of lectures by personnel and shipgirl alike, doing their damned best to carve just how vital and dangerous the technology that you literally held in your fingertips could be. There were no jokes regarding Commanders and the extreme nature of the cubes … and your complete idiocy—born of your enthusiasm—had almost roped in one of the most decorated warriors of your time into your shenanigans without so much as a day in-between.

You are a moron.

You’re lucky that Belfast and Formidable hadn’t elected to drag you in for a court-martial.

‘I … I did reach out for your hand,’ you continue, letting out a sigh as your thought go hazy. ‘I remember holding it, but … I guess that the reason I … didn’t go through with it was because …’

It was as though you’d been put into the psychiatric evaluation for your week again. Shrinks were a daily part of the life of Commanders, what with all the extreme mental and spiritual strain—at their most literal, natch—that they were subjected to in order to maintain the … bridge. You’d seen the files, the notes … the lock and key, so to speak, of fulfilling your role between the Regulatory and Ancillary pillars within the formation. How you were, ultimately, unable to turn said lock-and-key.

You’d been able to use the SSR excuse for so long that it had just become too easy to keep using.

But, ultimately, you know that it’s because you’re afraid.

‘I … believed that it wasn’t so much mine to take as it was, yours to give, Captain, if you don’t mind me saying.’

‘Passing on your authority so easily,’ she snorts, her tone bordering on complete disdain, as you rightly deserve. ‘Not that I am not relieved that you didn’t force it through, considering the disparities … but really, is it so important that the bridge of streams is established through me as much as it does from you.
>>
‘Uh, yeah?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKMw2it8dQY

Bismarck stiffens, eyes wide, mouth blubbering.

E-Eh?

Her hat tilts slightly backward; her cape shits slightly down one shoulder, her arms flat by her side.

>Write-In
>>
>>4989322

That's right. Regardless of any authority inherent in a perspective commander's position in the bridging process, I cannot stomach idea of forming a bond where my partner might not be consciously willing.

but in that case what would be implications with Bel and Formi? Or was that just because we were not prepared to commit on our part, while with Bisko we somehow instinctually bypassed that self-imposed obstacle somehow?
>>
>>4989333
Supporting
Remember kids, always ask for consent from your cute looking killing machines.
>>
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>>4989333
>but in that case what would be implications with Bel and Formi? Or was that just because we were not prepared to commit on our part, while with Bisko we somehow instinctually bypassed that self-imposed obstacle somehow?

The both of them or rather, all of them operate on the same level when it comes to the bridging of the streams. Bismarck's the only one to point it out because she comes from a chain of command where there are no answers or questions in that chain. She will "follow" or "command" as per conduct that is required of her. Belfast and Formidable, by comparison, are a little more liberal and basically enjoy the fact that you're--and there's no two words about it--such a gentleman about it despite having no need for you to follow through on what's required of you. The three of them are still, ultimately, weapons of war and have little to no concern for human perspectives on the matter, so the idea that the reason that you're so terrible as a candidate because you're waiting for them to step forward with you is extremely intriguing. You know, being weapons of war and all that.

Not that you're particularly unique. You just happen to have lucked out and drawn their interest in that area. How you choose to proceed from here is up to you. Thus far, you've pretty much established that you won't take that second step if they won't, which, in this universe, is actually quite dangerous ... but I'll get into that as the quest chugs along.

Anything else?
>>
>>4989349
Thank you OP, appreciate the elucidation.
>>
>>4989351
You're welcome. Don't hesitate to ask anything if you feel that there's a little more info that you need before making a decision.
>>
>>4989333
supporting
>>
>>4989333
supporting
>>
>>4989333
>>4989322
Support
>>
Running soon, lads.

Put your helmets on.
>>
>That's right. Regardless of any authority inherent in a perspective commander's position in the bridging process, I cannot stomach idea of forming a bond where my partner might not be consciously willing.

‘A commendable bout of thought,’ Bismarck sighs, shaking her head. You probably would, too. Your immaturity must have permeated the very air itself. ‘But in an environment where hierarchy, obedience and synergy are ingredients of such critical importance, such hesitation on your end, with the scopes required of you in the first place, would only underline your inadequacy for what is set before you. I’d be reluctant to serve under the command of anyone who does not understand such principles.

You nod in agreement.

‘Definitely.’

Eh?

Teamwork is important,’ you declare, Bismarck’s words lighting small embers in the pits of your stomach. It was no wonder that she was a Captain … and why you were still stuck in this mire of your own making.

‘Yes, it … is.’

‘I’m the one that’s been pathetic here, being so scared that they were half-heartedly reaching out to me that I didn’t know what to do,’ you confess, feeling ashamed, yet … reborn. ‘Rather than standing there and moping about why they’re so half-hearted in their motions … the correct thing to do would be to shape myself to a point where each step I make forward is a pace-and-a-half from their end. It was just my selfishness that’s been in my way. Being so scared about why everything was half-assed that all I did was the same thing over and over again. A Commander and Shipgirl … it’s a team! It’s a partnership! If she’s scared, I have to reach out for her—’

‘Eh?’

‘—and if she has doubts, I will listen to her—’

H-Hey now …

‘—and on the battlefield, when our backs are against the wall, I must be prepared to take the bullet for her just as she’s ready to do so for humanity!’

‘N-N-Now, cadet, that’s really—’

‘It’s a two-way street, isn’t it?’ you continue, that single spark now engorging into an erupting volcano. ‘You’re putting your life on the line … so it’s only right that I put that foot forward for your sake, too! Not just as a weapon of war … but as a valued comrade, friend … and fellow soldier.’

You ball your hand into a fist, more determined than ever.

Before realizing just how corny you sound.

‘S-Sorry,’ you squeak, realizing that you’re half out of your chair.

‘That’s … that’s all right.’

You seat yourself down, thoroughly embarrass—

‘Have you … considered a transfer to the Crimson Axis?

Huh?

>Write-In
>>
>>4990321
>The thought may have crossed my mind time to time but I never gave it any serious thought ma'am. Didn't feel right considering the chance that Belfast and Formidable have offered me being my instructors and all. That would be rude after all
>>
>>4990321

Supporting >>4990325
>>
>>4990321
My thoughts have always dabbled in wondering just where I would have got to if I had chosen one of the other factions... but after the amount of time and support Azur Lane and Royal Navy have put into me, I feel I have to prove my worth
>>
>>4990325
Damn, I wrote almost the same thing lol
>>
>>4990325
going for this too
>>
>The thought may have crossed my mind time to time but I never gave it any serious thought ma'am. Didn't feel right considering the chance that Belfast and Formidable have offered me being my instructors and all. That would be rude after all

‘The thought may have—’

A heel slams right into the metal of the bench’s spine, making for an impromptu partition between you and the Captain. The curtain of a black dress draped over a long, pale leg obscures all but the top half of Bismarck’s head from view. Confused, you turn your head up to see Formidable’s great, closed-mouth smile; her eyes are narrowed into slits and her arms crossed upon her chest, sporting an aura that was both cold in sensation and burning in fury. The creak of her neck is audible, as it creaks on the turn in the direction of the seated Bismarck, the corners of her mouth twitching as you appear to hallucinate the phasing of her city-leveling weaponry into existence.

‘I do apologize for the interruption,’ Formidable declares—and does not sound like it at all—clapping her hands together. ‘But my dear Captain, shouldn’t you be following through the relevant channels and proper protocols for such a request? It would be extremely unbecoming for an officer of your standing to not adhere to the guidelines of a transfer. How would the administration take such a precedent?

‘Instructor—’

It was but an idle suggestion,’ Bismarck replies, wearing a small smile of her own, tilting her head upward and meeting Formidable’s gaze. ‘I have no intention of violating any thresholds.’

‘That’s such a relief.

You feel a chill going up your spine.

Why were they so angry?

>Write-In
>>
>>4990376
Ladies please! As I was trying to say, the Royal Navy and my instructors have supported too much to consider leaving them now. I apologise Bismarck, but I am committed where I am.
>>
>>4990396
supporting this
>>
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>Ladies please! As I was trying to say, the Royal Navy and my instructors have supported too much to consider leaving them now. I apologise Bismarck, but I am committed where I am.

Formidable dusts her hands off, pulling back her leg, seemingly satisfied by your declaration.

‘That’s just like you Ironblood,’ she niggles, smirking and shrugging. ‘For all your schemes and orders, you’re still all about the short term.’

Bismarck gets to her feet, a vein popping above her left eye as the smile remains upon her features.

‘Shall we take this outside? I’m sure that the tourists would love to get their trip’s worth.

‘I’m sorry, but the endangerment of the general public isn’t high on my priority list. Especially with your complete lack of precision.

Big words for a cow.

Small words for someone who’s all talk.

>Interrupt them sternly (Take charge)
>Interrupt them like pussy-ass harem MC from 2012
>Abandon the scene
>Keep silent
>Write-In
>>
>>4990396
supporting
>>
>>4990396
supporting.
>>
>>4990518
>>Interrupt them sternly (Take charge)
lets see how this goes yes haha...
>>
>>4990518
>Ladies, while I enjoy the idea, like any man, of being fought over by beautiful women, your current methods are endearing neither of your sides to me.
>>
>>4990526
supporting this, time to take one for the team
>>
>>4990518
>Interrupt them sternly (Take charge)
also the second choice:lol
>>
>>4990518
>Interrupt them sternly (Take charge)
>>
>>4990518
>>Interrupt them like pussy-ass harem MC from 2012
"Ladies, that's enough. As endearing as it is to see you let flow your feelings, I know you're both better than this."

since it seems the more sensible option is winning I can follow my heart without repercussions.
>>
>Interrupt them sternly (Take charge)

Formidable and Bismarck are your superiors. Both of them pack enough power to decimate entire population centers and a little bit more.

However …

‘As entertaining as it would be to spectate such an exchange,’ you begin, getting up from your seat and coolly regarding the two, ‘I’d like to emphasize that we are currently in the midst of fellow soldiers … and that your current modes of conduct will do little to soften the perception of the Joint Operations Command.’

Neither budge from their stances … but they do seem to cool off slightly at your reminder.

Captain. Instructor. I suggest you put whatever ideas you have one another away for now. That is, unless, of course, that you wish to pass over the authority that you both hold over to me by means of deliberate misconduct.’

You feel the cube in your pocket.

‘So let’s leave that for the coffee pot later, yeah?’

Formidable twitches slightly, letting out a sigh as she, miraculously, heeds your terms. Bismarck opens her mouth to say something … only for her embarrassment to catch up with her, following her stern sniping up with another adjustment of her cap and a glance away, muttering to herself.

I believe you said something about a partnership before, cadet …

You smile guiltily, rubbing your neck.

‘Well, partners keep partners from going on doing stupid things, right?’ you chuckle. ‘It’d be damned insincere and half-assed of me to not step in to keep some lines from being crossed, right? Grandma had a saying: a marriage ain’t about tellin’ yer man what he wants to hear all the damned time.’

Bismarck scratches her cheek, her expression unreadable.

Formidable turns her head to the ceiling, humming absently.

>Prompt Formidable
>Prompt Bismarck
>Write-In

It just occurred to me as I finished this that you sound like a housewife/mom, but I'm too lazy to change the tone, so gomen.
>>
>>4990755
>Prompt Formidable
>>
>>4990755
>>Prompt Formidable
>>
>>4990755
ADDENDUM
‘It’d be damned insincere and half-assed of me to not step in to keep some lines from being crossed, right? Grandma had a saying: a marriage ain’t about tellin’ yer man what he wants to hear all the damned time.

SHOULD BE

‘Grandma had a saying: a marriage ain’t about tellin’ yer man what he wants to hear all the damned time. I think that's just as relevant here. If all that we're telling each other is what we want to hear instead of what we have to hear, we're just buildin' things up on lies. And I respect your line of work too much to put you in that pot to stir.’
>>
>>4990755
>>Prompt Formidable
>>
>>4990755
>Prompt Formidable
>>
Are you guys still alive?
>>
>>4990795
Yo
>>
>>4990795
Eyy, can’t post from work but I’m here.
>>
Good morning, everyone. Should be up in a bit.
>>
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>Prompt Formidable

Is there anything that you require of us, ma’am?

That’d been fifteen minutes ago.

Right now, you were doing your best at mimicking the security personnel on-base, keeping your trap as tightly shut as you can manage while trying to follow the exchange across the conference table … while also trying your best at not making it seem like you were dropping honest eaves.

Commander Marshall Tague, veteran of the Siren Conflict, sat at the conference table, his expression ragged and his fatigue seemingly at its zenith, massaging his temples as he mumbled obscenities under his breath. His horn—a crystalline and thus far inert visual reminder of said conflict—stands prominent, a piece of shrapnel embedded deep into his skull, a mere inch and change above his right eye, which was covered by an eye-patch. Tague hadn’t been a man of many words in the short time that you’d known him. Wolfgang and Abigail spent more time around the Commander than you ever did, what with the both of them being exemplars of your batch of prospects, and what little you had been told of the man’s practices showed little to no deviation from what he was up-front. His fingers tent on top of the table, his elbows dangerously close to knocking the beer can and coaster off said table.

Distributed along the oval shape were Belfast, Bismarck and Formidable, who wore expression as stoic as anyone could manage. You’re uncertain whether they were silent out of respect or practiced protocols, but in the few minutes that’d passed by since the three of you had arrived in the conference room—transparent and overlooking a work-space of about half a dozen administrative officers—none of them had said a word.

We haven’t had a report in from the patrol units since 0200 today,’ the Commander starts. ‘The last log registers two Azur Lane Ironblood ID tags Destroyer-Type Z-36 and Light Cruiser-type Leipzig and Azur Lane Eagle Union Light Carrier-type Casablanca. JOC patrols struck a contact log at 0500, allegedly between the patrols, but were unable to register any subsequent check-ins. Navy’s sent out some choppers to have a proper look-see, but according to the Helios Platform, all we’re getting is a big fat blank over the chart.

‘I wouldn’t rule out truancy just yet,’ Belfast reasons, her voice calm. ‘Especially considering just what today is.’

‘We haven’t,’ Tague nods, ‘but truancy leaves trails to pick up.’

Formidable leans forward.

‘Have we considered sending out someone else to check the course? Shipgirls don’t register on RADAR or conventional instruments … I don’t know how the JOC would be able to assist with only visual confirmation being the means of, well confirming as much?’

‘Does this really require us to convene?’

>Drop your own opinion
>Keep quiet
>>
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>Prompt Formidable

Is there anything that you require of us, ma’am?

That’d been fifteen minutes ago.

Right now, you were doing your best at mimicking the security personnel on-base, keeping your trap as tightly shut as you can manage while trying to follow the exchange across the conference table … while also trying your best at not making it seem like you were dropping honest eaves.

Commander Marshall Tague, veteran of the Siren Conflict, sat at the conference table, his expression ragged and his fatigue seemingly at its zenith, massaging his temples as he mumbled obscenities under his breath. His horn—a crystalline and thus far inert visual reminder of said conflict—stands prominent, a piece of shrapnel embedded deep into his skull, a mere inch and change above his right eye, which was covered by an eye-patch. Tague hadn’t been a man of many words in the short time that you’d known him. Wolfgang and Abigail spent more time around the Commander than you ever did, what with the both of them being exemplars of your batch of prospects, and what little you had been told of the man’s practices showed little to no deviation from what he was up-front. His fingers tent on top of the table, his elbows dangerously close to knocking the beer can and coaster off said table.

Distributed along the oval shape were Belfast, Bismarck and Formidable, who wore expression as stoic as anyone could manage. You’re uncertain whether they were silent out of respect or practiced protocols, but in the few minutes that’d passed by since the three of you had arrived in the conference room—transparent and overlooking a work-space of about half a dozen administrative officers—none of them had said a word.

We haven’t had a report in from the patrol units since 0200 today,’ the Commander starts. ‘The last log registers two Azur Lane Ironblood ID tags Destroyer-Type Z-36 and Light Cruiser-type Leipzig and Azur Lane Eagle Union Light Carrier-type Casablanca. JOC patrols struck a contact log at 0500, allegedly between the patrols, but were unable to register any subsequent check-ins. Navy’s sent out some choppers to have a proper look-see, but according to the Helios Platform, all we’re getting is a big fat blank over the chart.

‘I wouldn’t rule out truancy just yet,’ Belfast reasons, her voice calm. ‘Especially considering just what today is.’

‘We haven’t,’ Tague nods, ‘but truancy leaves trails to pick up.’

Formidable leans forward.

‘Have we considered sending out someone else to check the course? Shipgirls don’t register on RADAR or conventional instruments … I don’t know how the JOC would be able to assist with only visual confirmation being the means of, well confirming as much?’

‘Does this really require us to convene?’

>Drop your own opinion
>Keep quiet
>>
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>Prompt Formidable

Is there anything that you require of us, ma’am?

That’d been fifteen minutes ago.

Right now, you were doing your best at mimicking the security personnel on-base, keeping your trap as tightly shut as you can manage while trying to follow the exchange across the conference table … while also trying your best at not making it seem like you were dropping honest eaves.

Commander Marshall Tague, veteran of the Siren Conflict, sat at the conference table, his expression ragged and his fatigue seemingly at its zenith, massaging his temples as he mumbled obscenities under his breath. His horn—a crystalline and thus far inert visual reminder of said conflict—stands prominent, a piece of shrapnel embedded deep into his skull, a mere inch and change above his right eye, which was covered by an eye-patch. Tague hadn’t been a man of many words in the short time that you’d known him. Wolfgang and Abigail spent more time around the Commander than you ever did, what with the both of them being exemplars of your batch of prospects, and what little you had been told of the man’s practices showed little to no deviation from what he was up-front. His fingers tent on top of the table, his elbows dangerously close to knocking the beer can and coaster off said table.

Distributed along the oval shape were Belfast, Bismarck and Formidable, who wore expression as stoic as anyone could manage. You’re uncertain whether they were silent out of respect or practiced protocols, but in the few minutes that’d passed by since the three of you had arrived in the conference room—transparent and overlooking a work-space of about half a dozen administrative officers—none of them had said a word.

We haven’t had a report in from the patrol units since 0200 today,’ the Commander starts. ‘The last log registers two Azur Lane Ironblood ID tags Destroyer-Type Z-36 and Light Cruiser-type Leipzig and Azur Lane Eagle Union Light Carrier-type Casablanca. JOC patrols struck a contact log at 0500, allegedly between the patrols, but were unable to register any subsequent check-ins. Navy’s sent out some choppers to have a proper look-see, but according to the Helios Platform, all we’re getting is a big fat blank over the chart.

‘I wouldn’t rule out truancy just yet,’ Belfast reasons, her voice calm. ‘Especially considering just what today is.’

‘We haven’t,’ Tague nods, ‘but truancy leaves trails.’

Formidable leans forward. ‘Have we considered sending out someone else to check the course? Shipgirls don’t really register on conventional instruments … I don’t know how the JOC would be able to assist with only visual confirmation being the means of, well confirming as much?’

‘Does this really require us to convene?’

>Drop your own opinion
>Keep quiet
>>
>>4991602
>>Keep quiet
>>
>>4991602
>>Keep quiet
>>
>>4991602
>>Keep quiet
>>
>>4991602
>>Keep quiet
>>
>>4991602
>Keep quiet

Uh oh, missing patrols?
>>
>>4991602
>Keep quiet
>>
Sorry guys, in the middle of finalizing my pack-up. I'll be moving on Wednesday, so everything in the house has to be cleaned. I'll try to run later today, but no guarantees.
>>
Finished cleaning up the house. Will be running in approximately one hour. Flying off tomorrow, so obviously nothing tomorrow.
>>
Don't worry, I'm here. Just typing up.
>>
>Keep quiet

You keep any and all semblances of squeaks and utterances to an absolute minimum, shifting your shoulders slightly as your eyes scan the conference table—small for its lot—and the people spread around it. The convention had, upon Tague’s request, apparently been made as a private discussion between designated members of personnel … but considering the magnitude of the current crisis—a succession of missing patrols, one of which operated under the Azur Lane banner—you’re more confused at your presence being allowed within hearing distance at all. Bismarck tents her hands and Formidable leans back casually in her chair, both their expressions thoughtful while Belfast, for some reason or other, had elected to stand, leaning absently against an opaque wall perpendicular to the one you had your back to.

Leipzig and Z-36 were still once part of the Ironblood command,’ Tague responds, placing his elbow on the chair and letting out a sigh. ‘Even if the Crimson Axis is now a separate legal entity right now, that doesn’t change that the both of them fought under Captain Bismarck’s command on their side of the Pacific Offensive. I say it’d be damned rude of us to not at least inform her that we’re currently missing two of her allies.’

‘Is this really a crisis, though?’ Formidable questions, extending her hand as she voices her own confusion of the matter at hand. ‘Considering it’s the fay of the graduation parade, it isn’t really hard to imagine that the three of them deciding to sneak off and have a good time.’

‘Truancy modus operandis almost always leave a trail, though,’ Belfast offers, citing Commander Tague. ‘Besides, regardless of the delinquency numbers that we face on the day, we’ve never had one that was so blatant that they didn’t tag in a check-in and a report. The most you’d expect are unwarranted fill-ins that weren’t on rotation in the first place, but we’ve always had check-ins on patrols and never a black-out of this length. The most similar scenario that we had to this was Bremerton’s case—’

Formidable sighs loudly, rubbing her temples.

Commander Tague tilts back his head, mumbling under his breath.

‘—but considering just what we are and how we were put into operation in the first place, going completely MIA on duty is almost … unprecedented.’

None of them had an assigned Commander,’ Tague indicates, tapping the tip of his horn. ‘All of them were under S-Engines, last I checked. Same with all independent units. All the more reason to believe them not checking in to be—’

‘Have we ruled out a sinking?’

Belfast,’ Formidable grumbles. ‘Really?’

‘Isn’t that sort of thing taboo for you girls?’

>Keep quiet
>Drop your own opinion
>>
>>4995834
>>Keep quiet
>>
>>4995834
>>Keep quiet
>>
>>4995834
>Keep quiet
>>
>>4995834
>>Keep quiet
>>
>>4995834
>Keep quiet
>>
test
>>
>Keep quiet

‘It is,’ Bismarck answers, harrumphing as she lowers her head, visibly scowling. ‘However, a … number of us have leaned to words more fatalistic perspectives in our admittedly short span of sentience … and have thus coiled away from such … superstition.’

Bioroids built around the concept of homunculi and golems practicing superstition. Now that was something you’d never heard before. Granted, considering how close to the base-line human (even if they were able to be visibly told apart) they were, maybe it shouldn’t truly be such a surprise to you. Bismarck utters that last word with notable distaste, but unwilling to totally agree with Belfast, who leans against the wall as if she wasn’t part of the conversation at all. One hand folded on top of the other, her countenance returns to the familiar professionalism that you’d seen day-in-day out in the weeks and months that had passed since your meeting. Commander Tague merely gives a nod of understanding, leaning back into his chair and tapping his finger against the table, his sweeping, casual glance briefly catching your line of sight and immediately prompting you to look away out of adherence to the rank and file.

You didn’t want to get on the wrong side of one of the few men to have played a part in the literal vanguard of the Siren Conflict and lived to talk about it. That horn jutting out of his head had sparked more than a few fearful whispers … and delving to find the truth of it all wasn’t something you were willing to risk it on.

‘Just to keep us from steering into irrelevant waters,’ Formidable starts, lifting her elbow off the table and extending her fingers in an elaborate gesture, ‘I say that we can rule out sinking as a whole. Any transition between an active state into forced shut-down would give a signature strong enough for proper detection through the base’s scanners. Every one of us has a beacon prompt signature; indistinguishable individually, but still significant—

‘—Significant enough for general detection through signature by Azur Lane personnel,’ the Commander sighs, tapping the tip of his horn once again.

You briefly wonder how deep the piece of shrapnel (if it could even be called that) went.

Pulse detection scales remain undisturbed since their disappearance. Rules out any combat.

‘Would have been on the report if it was,’ Bismarck imparts. ‘Which obviously isn’t the case right now, seeing as we’re all … here.’

Commander Tague nods.

‘Guess—’

You’re almost knocked off your feet by a charge into your shoulder.

‘Mister—uh—Commander, uh … Tague, sir.’

You glare at the man as you get to your feet, dusting yourself off.

It was one of the jocks, his face white as sheet.
>>
>>4996203
>Angrily demand an apology
>Grumble and step aside
>Finish dusting yourself off, re-assume your “post”
>>
>>4996204
>>Finish dusting yourself off, re-assume your “post”
>>
>>4996204
>Grumble and step aside
>>
>>4996204
>Finish dusting yourself off, re-assume your “post”
Let’s not get in the way of exposition unless we have something useful to add
>>
>>4996204
>Finish dusting yourself off, re-assume your “post”
>>
>>4996204
>>Finish dusting yourself off, re-assume your “post”
>>
>>4996204
>>Finish dusting yourself off, re-assume your “post”
>>
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Greetings from Seremban, everyone.
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I'm on my new campus and the net is revolutions slower than my office/home net up north. I'm fucking drowning here. Someone put me out of my misery. Thanks.
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>>4999581
Mech is currently suffering the pleasure of campus life such as burning his wallet, shitty internet speeds and not having signal for his phone in his dorms. Please wait warmly kek
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Hey lads, it's Mechanic here. I just finished burning a hole through my wallet and I'm not done yet on textbooks, stationery and bedsheets and will be starting my classes next week. Will try to get into the swing of things again by either tonight or tomorrow morning.
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>>5002841
Mech shall attempt to run sometime around lunch, should his net allow him kek
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My old fat bones and I are back in my dorm. Have my student card done and my lunch, so should be okay to run soon. Sorry for the gap.
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>>5003575
Noice
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>Finish dusting yourself off, re-assume your “post”

Getting emotional—even the teensiest bit—would only muddy the chain of communication. You elect to step aside, dusting yourself off (and sucking in your gut for good measure) as you allow the jock—a butt-chinned hawk-nosed man who squeaked in a manner that honored him to the measure of pre-teens, but whose countenance resembled a rapidly-aged vulture with tight rubber skin—to squeeze past you, seemingly ignoring the presence of three sentient super-weapons and waddling over to Commander Tague, his boots thudding loudly against the floor as he does so. Tague pushes himself from the table, turning his chair around and lifting his scarred, stern visage to meet the man’s gaze.

We just lost contact with three birds off the northern coast of Molkokai. Five knots out from the last confirmed location of … uh … and just outside the designated search area. Anglers One and Six are still running a blanket, but Commander Sharpe, um … he’s … um … I don’t know how else to put this, sir, but, um … he told me to, uh … tell you that, um … the Joint Operations Command will be taking full jurisdiction of the investigation, and that, uh … Azur Lane and its associated personnel are to abide by the separation of divisional prerogatives. He requests that, until further notice—

‘Thank the Commander for his time for me,’ Tague rumbles, his chair squeaking as he rises to his full height; he doesn’t quite tower over the jock, but he’s definitely a great deal wider than the man. ‘I’ll be waiting on his update on the matter. You have my number.’

The man opens his mouth to speak, only for the rest of the table (and Belfast) to follow Commander Tague’s motion, their own expressions unreadable as they do so. The vulture of a man merely steps aside, muttering something that you can’t quite make out under his breath as Tague steps past him and strides right past you—

>Question the Commander’s decision to up and leave
>Look to the Lieutenant, Captain and Instructor Formidable for a sign, something
>Open the door for him and follow them out, but remain courteous to the jock as you do so
>Open the door for him and follow them out, but shoot a look of disapproval at the jock as you do so
>Write-In
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>>5003716
>Open the door for him and follow them out, but shoot a look of disapproval at the jock as you do so
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>>5003716
>>Look to the Lieutenant, Captain and Instructor Formidable for a sign, something
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>>5003716
>>Look to the Lieutenant, Captain and Instructor Formidable for a sign, something
>>
>Look to the Lieutenant, Captain and Instructor Formidable for a sign, something

Neither Formidable nor Belfast give you any indication of their own feelings on the matter. Bismarck merely gestures for you to open the door for Commander Tague, who had already moved past you and was about to put a hand on the handle himself.

>Open the door for him and follow them out, but remain courteous to the jock as you do so
>Open the door for him and follow them out, but shoot a look of disapproval at the jock as you do so
>Protest the Commander's decision to up and leave so passively; point out that there were three mixing Shipgirls out there
>Write-In
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>>5003778
>Open the door for him and follow them out, but shoot a look of disapproval at the jock as you do so
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>>5003778
>>Protest the Commander's decision to up and leave so passively; point out that there were three mixing Shipgirls out there
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>>5003778
>>Open the door for him and follow them out, but remain courteous to the jock as you do so
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>>5003778
>Open the door for him and follow them out, but remain courteous to the jock as you do so
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>>5003778
>Open the door for him and follow them out, Ignore the jock

I guess we’d be out of line to protest here but maybe we can ask commander after what should or can we do, the missing shipgirls are no joke.
Especially these three. I dunno what reputation Nimi has in this timeline but idea of her dropping out because she feels like seems unthinkable and the other two don’t seem the type to defy her so openly, something must be horribly wrong.
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>Open the door for him and follow them out, but remain courteous to the jock as you do so

The man was ultimately just the messenger. There is, truly, no need for you to sprout fangs at someone whose task had been to merely convey the news, as frustrating as it had been to your own ears. You open the door for Commander Tague, who does not so much as acknowledge your service as he strides into the open office area, followed by the three shipgirls, who had taken to adopting his stoic demeanor, all of them as professional as can be—as befitting—one of their ranks. With Formidable stepping out of the door, you yourself turn to leave … but not before shooting the jock a sympathetic look and a salute … that the jock returns with a nod and a salute of his own.

Your courtesy is, at the very least, acknowledged.

Mere minutes pass before you step back out into the clear sun and the ocean breeze, marching after your comrades. You wordlessly trail behind Belfast and Formidable, lagging slightly to the right of Bismarck and her wholly unsuitable cape, exiting the compound and walking right up to the connecting dock—where you’d previously regained consciousness in the wake of your cube-related indiscretion—to find a small power boat putting up to the steps, manned by a man that resembled a scarecrow in stature, with a wild, unkempt yet thin beard jutting out from the lower half of a face that seemed to almost be completely made up of his jaw.

‘Didn’t expect you to be out so quick,’ the man practically hacks out, his voice more alike to the putter of his boat’s engine more than the oral capacities of human speech … but otherwise perfectly discernible. ‘Was hopin’ to tie up and crack a few cold ones.’

It’s obvious just who he was addressing. Commander Tague, however, doesn’t answer the man, instead turning to Belfast and Formidable, his expression as creased as he had been in the conference room. ‘I’m heading back to HQ. I’ll be calling out a full RTB of any and all un-bonded Shipgirls running patrol routes; in the mean-time, I’d like to ask for you and Formidable to sound out a full alert on the parade’s security detail. Until the statuses of the patrol squadron are cleared and confirmed, any and all units are to abide by stirrup bylaws until further notice.

Stirrup bylaws?

You’re quite certain that that was a term you’d never heard before.

‘Understood, sir,’ Belfast responds, dropping into a respectful bow.

‘Up the security detail and keep an eye out,’ Tague continues, crossing his arms across his chest. ‘Jamaica and Vampire are heading it, but if you can, try and convince San Diego to help out. Standard coastal defense perimeters apply.’
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>Open the door for him and follow them out, but remain courteous to the jock as you do so

The man was ultimately just the messenger. There is, truly, no need for you to sprout fangs at someone whose task had been to merely convey the news, as frustrating as it had been to your own ears. You open the door for Commander Tague, who does not so much as acknowledge your service as he strides into the open office area, followed by the three shipgirls, who had taken to adopting his stoic demeanor, all of them as professional as can be—as befitting—one of their ranks. With Formidable stepping out of the door, you yourself turn to leave … but not before shooting the jock a sympathetic look and a salute … that the jock returns with a nod and a salute of his own.

Your courtesy is, at the very least, acknowledged.

Mere minutes pass before you step back out into the clear sun and the ocean breeze, marching after your comrades. You wordlessly trail behind Belfast and Formidable, lagging slightly to the right of Bismarck and her wholly unsuitable cape, exiting the compound and walking right up to the connecting dock—where you’d previously regained consciousness in the wake of your cube-related indiscretion—to find a small power boat putting up to the steps, manned by a man that resembled a scarecrow in stature, with a wild, unkempt yet thin beard jutting out from the lower half of a face that seemed to almost be completely made up of his jaw.

‘Didn’t expect you to be out so quick,’ the man practically hacks out, his voice more alike to the putter of his boat’s engine more than the oral capacities of human speech … but otherwise perfectly discernible. ‘Was hopin’ to tie up and crack a few cold ones.’

It’s obvious just who he was addressing. Commander Tague, however, doesn’t answer the man, instead turning to Belfast and Formidable, his expression as creased as he had been in the conference room. ‘I’m heading back to HQ. I’ll be calling out a full RTB of any and all un-bonded Shipgirls running patrol routes; in the mean-time, I’d like to ask for you and Formidable to sound out a full alert on the parade’s security detail. Until the statuses of the patrol squadron are cleared and confirmed, any and all units are to abide by stirrup bylaws until further notice.

Stirrup bylaws?

You’re quite certain that that was a term you’d never heard before.

‘Understood, sir,’ Belfast responds, dropping into a respectful bow.

‘Up the security detail and keep an eye out,’ Tague continues, crossing his arms across his chest. ‘Jamaica and Vampire are heading it, but if you can, try and convince San Diego to help out. Standard coastal defense perimeters apply. Turtle the coast; zero scouts until we actually find out just what’s going on.’
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‘Understood, Commander, sir,’ Belfast replies, throwing up a salute. ‘But … wouldn’t it make more sense for you to tell San Diego yourself, sir?’

Formidable nods.

‘She is one of your pillars, Commander.’

Tague rubs the back of his neck, averting his eyes. ‘Of course, yes, but … she’d probably be really pissed at me for pulling her into miracle mile duty after I just gave her the day off, so …

How … cowardly.

>‘Coward.’ (Discretely berate the Commander under your breath)
>‘Sir, why … only un-bonded Ships?’ (Question why the Commander was so specific in his demands)
>‘What do you mean by stirrup bylaws? What even is that?’ (Confusion)
>‘Commander Tague, what about the Captain?’ (Question Bismarck’s lack of orders/objectives)
>‘Sir!’ (END)
>Write-In
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>>5003898
>>‘What do you mean by stirrup bylaws? What even is that?’ (Confusion)
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>>5003898
>>‘Sir, why … only un-bonded Ships?’ (Question why the Commander was so specific in his demands)
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>>5003898
>>‘Sir, why … only un-bonded Ships?’ (Question why the Commander was so specific in his demands)
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>>5003898
>>‘Sir, why … only un-bonded Ships?’ (Question why the Commander was so specific in his demands)
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>>5003898
>‘Sir, why … only un-bonded Ships?’ (Question why the Commander was so specific in his demands)
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Show of hands, kudasai
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>>5004159
I good to go whenever
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>‘Sir, why … only un-bonded Ships?’ (Question why the Commander was so specific in his demands)

He raises his head to meet your gaze. Tague’s one good eye shone under the late morning sun, his dark iris seemingly flickering with amusement even if his expression didn’t quite communicate such.

‘I was wondering when we’d picked up another mute,’ Tague remarks, making a small sound with his nose before taking two steps up the small flight of stairs. ‘You’re that … cadet that sags off Cadet Amarant, aren’t you?

You stiffen slightly, trying your best to not appear as though you’d taken offense at his statement.

While you hung around Connor quite often, you wouldn’t say that you … sagged off him.

‘To answer your question, though … is because of two reasons: the first of which being that independently activated Shipgirls operating under their own individual capacities do so at a dramatic decrease in their level of effectiveness and are thus less potent and carry more risk in combat. I would have assumed that as a cadet, that sort of knowledge would be almost instinctual at this point and—oh, wait, yeah … you’re the one that Long Island ran a second trial on this morning for, huh? Right …

There’s a sarcastic, bitter note at the end of that statement. Tague motions to shake his head, letting out a grumbling, annoyed sound from his throat before raising his head to meet your gaze again.

If there had been any amicability present prior, there is definitely none left to spare for you now.

‘In any case, the second reason I’m asking for a retreat is that save for independent signatures that are hard enough to pin-point on their own, un-bonded Shipgirls are nigh-untraceable. They’re too small for conventional detection methods as is, and that independent signature that I just mentioned only flares up into brief spikes when they break their thresholds, meaning inner engine access and activation, weapons deployment and activation or anything involving their school of techniques. Bonded and linked Shipgirls are more noticeable because of the power spike from the bridge between them and the Commander … and are thus traceable. To put it simply, a Commander’s link through the Wisdom Cubes allows for the Commander—and by extension, command—to keep a proper eye out for any squadrons running about, while increasing their combat potential enough for them to generally be regarded as safer operational bets. Plus, with the Wisdom Cubes, the connection gives a better chance for a look-see on our side instead of relying on plain radio updates.’

You nod.

‘Didn’t you learn this back in orientation?’

You—

‘Depending on your answer, I may recommend you for expulsion.’

Oh.
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>‘Sir, why … only un-bonded Ships?’ (Question why the Commander was so specific in his demands)

He raises his head to meet your gaze. Tague’s one good eye shone under the late morning sun, his dark iris seemingly flickering with amusement even if his expression didn’t quite communicate such.

‘I was wondering when we’d picked up another mute,’ Tague remarks, making a small sound with his nose before taking two steps up the small flight of stairs. ‘You’re that … cadet that sags off Cadet Amarant, aren’t you?

You stiffen slightly, trying your best to not appear as though you’d taken offense at his statement.

While you hung around Connor quite often, you wouldn’t say that you … sagged off him.

‘To answer your question, though … is because of two reasons: the first of which being that independently activated Shipgirls operating under their own individual capacities do so at a dramatic decrease in their level of effectiveness and are thus less potent and carry more risk in combat. I would have assumed that as a cadet, that sort of knowledge would be almost instinctual at this point and—oh, wait, yeah … you’re the one that Long Island ran a second trial on this morning for, huh? Right …

There’s a sarcastic, bitter note at the end of that statement. Tague motions to shake his head, letting out a grumbling, annoyed sound from his throat before raising his head to meet your gaze again.

If there had been any amicability present prior, there is definitely none left to spare for you now.

‘In any case, the second reason I’m asking for a retreat is that save for independent signatures that are hard enough to pin-point on their own, un-bonded Shipgirls are nigh-untraceable. They’re too small for conventional detection methods as is, and that independent signature that I just mentioned only flares up into brief spikes when they break their thresholds, meaning inner engine access and activation, weapons deployment and activation or anything involving their school of techniques. Bonded and linked Shipgirls are more noticeable because of the power spike from the bridge between them and the Commander … and are thus traceable. To put it simply, a Commander’s link through the Wisdom Cubes allows for the Commander—and by extension, command—to keep a proper eye out for any squadrons running about, while increasing their combat potential enough for them to generally be regarded as safer operational bets. Plus, with the Wisdom Cubes, the connection gives a better chance for a look-see on our side instead of relying on plain radio updates.

You nod.

‘Didn’t you learn this back in orientation?’

You—

‘Depending on your answer, I may recommend you for expulsion.’

Oh.
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>>5004221
>‘I meant no disrespect, sir. I was merely curious regarding the logic behind the reason to turtle defenses, as I personally wouldn’t risk collapsing the perimeter for a potential MIA.’
>‘Didn’t mean anything by it, sir. It’s just … from where I’m standing, it just sounds like you’re trying to shadow the JOC’s defenses instead of, um … abiding by them.’
>‘It just sort of slipped my mind for a bit, sir. Sorry.’
>‘Well, I kind of got the basics of the necessity of Commanders and stuff, but I didn’t really consider the properties of the bridge and the stream in such … unorthodox framing, for lack of better wording.’
>‘I’m due for a reserves appeal, anyway, so you might just get your wish.’
>‘I’m … due for a reserves appeal, sir. I’m quite certain that jurisdiction dictates … well, that you can’t really step in on that.’
>Write-In
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>>5004227
>>‘I meant no disrespect, sir. I was merely curious regarding the logic behind the reason to turtle defenses, as I personally wouldn’t risk collapsing the perimeter for a potential MIA.’
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>>5004221
>I mean no disrespect but won’t withdrawing unbonded patrols without adjusting the bonded ones leave the latter more isolated and vulnerable and the perimeter sparse?
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>>5004227
>‘I meant no disrespect, sir. I was merely curious regarding the logic behind the reason to turtle defenses, as I personally wouldn’t risk collapsing the perimeter for a potential MIA.’
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>>5004227
>‘I meant no disrespect, sir. I was merely curious regarding the logic behind the reason to turtle defenses, as I personally wouldn’t risk collapsing the perimeter for a potential MIA.’
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Can I swap to >>5004258?
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>‘I meant no disrespect, sir. I was merely curious regarding the logic behind the reason to turtle defenses, as I personally wouldn’t risk collapsing the perimeter for a potential MIA.’

‘Oh? An opinion, huh?’

He’s put you on the spot now … and it appears that neither your Instructor nor the Lieutenant want any part of it. Even the Captain merely observes the exchange, a curious tilt of her head the only indicator of her interest in the matter.

>‘It’s still something that we have to tend to quickly, but ordering a full collapse … if this amounts to anything at all, wouldn’t it be risking a total breach of defenses by pulling them all in just because one patrol’s gone missing?’ (Keep the defenses up)
>‘It’s just that … I always thought that being pro-active and transparent leaves less on the table to chance than trying to play the risk factor to a minimum. If bridged and stream-connected Shipgirls are still assets, wouldn’t it make more sense to, uh … scramble rather than turtle?’ (Go all-out on offense)
>‘Not that I’m trying to insinuate anything, but it just sounds kinda excessive to me. It’s pretty reactive more than pro-active, but … I can’t really point out anything there, either. Sir.’ (Neutral)
>‘Just pointing it out, sir. Jocks really don’t like their toes being nudged, huh?’
>‘I don’t mean anything by it, sir. It’s just … well, as you say: it’s just an opinion.’ (Take a step back)
>Write-In
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>>5004389
>‘It’s still something that we have to tend to quickly, but ordering a full collapse … if this amounts to anything at all, wouldn’t it be risking a total breach of defenses by pulling them all in just because one patrol’s gone missing?’ (Keep the defenses up)
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>>5004389
CORRECTION
>‘It’s just that … I always thought that being pro-active and transparent leaves less on the table to chance than trying to play the risk factor to a minimum. If bridged and stream-connected Shipgirls are still assets, wouldn’t it make more sense to, uh … scramble rather than turtle?’ (Go all-out on offense)

That last part should be:

>(Suggest a more offensive measure of response)
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>>5004389
>>‘It’s still something that we have to tend to quickly, but ordering a full collapse … if this amounts to anything at all, wouldn’t it be risking a total breach of defenses by pulling them all in just because one patrol’s gone missing?’ (Keep the defenses up)
>>
>>5004389
>‘It’s still something that we have to tend to quickly, but ordering a full collapse … if this amounts to anything at all, wouldn’t it be risking a total breach of defenses by pulling them all in just because one patrol’s gone missing?’ (Keep the defenses up)
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>>5004227
>>‘I meant no disrespect, sir. I was merely curious regarding the logic behind the reason to turtle defenses, as I personally wouldn’t risk collapsing the perimeter for a potential MIA.’
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>>5004864
sortry meant
>‘It’s still something that we have to tend to quickly, but ordering a full collapse … if this amounts to anything at all, wouldn’t it be risking a total breach of defenses by pulling them all in just because one patrol’s gone missing?’ (Keep the defenses up)
>>
>>5004389
>>‘It’s still something that we have to tend to quickly, but ordering a full collapse … if this amounts to anything at all, wouldn’t it be risking a total breach of defenses by pulling them all in just because one patrol’s gone missing?’ (Keep the defenses up)
>>
I'm sorry. I was throwing a bit of a tantrum the last 24 hours. I'll be running in a bit.
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>‘It’s still something that we have to tend to quickly, but ordering a full collapse … if this amounts to anything at all, wouldn’t it be risking a total breach of defenses by pulling them all in just because one patrol’s gone missing?’ (Keep the defenses up)

Tague wears a thoughtful expression, touching the knuckle of his left index finger to his chin as he appears to give your counter-proposal (as bare-bones as it was) ample consideration.

‘That’s a good point,’ he agrees, much to your surprise. ‘But we’re still playing a game of risk and reward here. We already have one patrol effectively off the grid … and that’s not even counting the birds and the patrols that the jocks just lost. If we’re stacking assets at pure value, we stand to lose more by not conserving what we still have by continuing operations as they are. You’re essentially telling me to play a bluff with a depleted stack of chips.’

You—

>Look to Bismarck for support
>Look to Formidable for support
>Look to Belfast for support
>Back down
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>>5006281
>>Look to Bismarck for support
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>>5006281
>>Look to Formidable for support
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>>5006281
>Look to Belfast for support
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>>5006281
>Look to Formidable for support
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>>5006281
>>Look to Belfast for support
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>>5006281
>Look to Formidable for support
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>Look to Formidable to support.

You’re not sure why or how Formidable came to mind in this … time of desperation, but come to mind she does. Your gaze darts to the corner of your discernible field of view, immediately meeting her calm, stoic stare. Perhaps it had been out of sheer habit. You’d spent more time around Formidable in your career as a cadet than perhaps anyone else, after all … save for perhaps Connor and Abigail. While you didn’t dare venture beyond certain thresholds describing the nature of your relationship—and were quite comfortable keeping it as a typical connection between a teacher and their student—you didn’t dare dismiss it as a product of mere professional respect, either. Formidable had pushed, listened, lectured, sniped and, most importantly of all, put up with you in a span of time that was very much beyond what one would normally expect of a Shipgirl-turned-instructor and a cadet flailing in his attempts at competence when she really hadn’t needed to … and you’d listened to perhaps four rants too many than any cadet should have been allowed to digest and keep in confidence.

Maybe that was why she inspired such conviction in you with but a shared glance.

She would have your back, should you ever need it.

‘Sir—’

That is why, this time, you’d take the step on your own, right or wrong.

‘—I completely understand and acknowledge your stance on the matter,’ you begin, trying your best to sound professional … and not so insubordinate that he’d be justified in throwing you into the sea for going out of line. ‘However … collapsing the patrols with the safety of the Shipgirl units still deployed with the public trust at risk would violate the purpose of the patrols in the first place as a prevention scheme and the island’s first line of defense. The potential for endangerment through such passivity would bear a greater risk to the public and strategic centers on the island, sir, especially with the rotations and the time-tables operating on a schedule as stretched as today’s … sir.’

‘We’ve already lost three Shipgirls,’ Tague presents, extending a finger and gesturing to you at a forty-five degree angle; you could tell that he was losing patience. ‘You’re telling me to just keep them out there?’

You don’t hesitate.

‘The public trust matters just as much, sir,’ you respond, lifting your gaze and keeping it on a passing cloud thousands of feet above and miles away. ‘I … am firmly in the belief that ordering a full recall of independent patrols would only … encourage aggression … by the aggressor, should one be present.’

You know he’s glaring holes into your face.

‘It’s merely a suggest—’

‘Fine,’ he lets out, much to your surprise.

‘Sir?’
>>
‘Belfast,’ he continues, not missing a beat, ‘keep the patrols running, but run a level three grid defense priority. I want check-ins every five minutes and a response team within engagement range on north-east of the AO. Put Vampire in charge and wait for my update from HQ.’

‘Understood, sir,’ Belfast answers, throwing up a salute. ‘What about San Diego?’

He mumbles something under his breath.

>Write-In
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>>5006534
>Which do you think she would be mad at you for longer? Cutting her day off short due to an emergency or not telling her that there is a possible emergency happening?
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>>5006534
"If you need me to sir, I can head and inform San Diego."
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>>5006543
supporting
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Sorry that I had to cut yesterday short. I forgot I had orientation this morning. Hopefully I'll be able to run later today.
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Sorry, lads. Class has started for this old fart, so sessions will be kinda hard to run. But not for now. Running in approximately 20 min.
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>Which do you think she would be mad at you for longer? Cutting her day off short due to an emergency or not telling her that there is a possible emergency happening?

Commander Tague regards you warily.

>Shut your trap; the Commander probably didn’t need your back-sassing
>‘—sir.’ (Connote respect and reverence into your counter-point)
>‘Just … observing—I mean, just an observation … sir.’ (Backtrack)
>‘Or … I … could … do it? Ha-ha …’ (Save your skin)
>Write-In
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>>5011358
>‘—sir.’ (Connote respect and reverence into your counter-point)
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>>5011358
>>‘—sir.’ (Connote respect and reverence into your counter-point)
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>>5011358
>‘—sir.’ (Connote respect and reverence into your counter-point)
>>
>‘—sir.’ (Connote respect and reverence into your counter-point)

‘N-No, Casablanca didn’t say anything at all. We just agreed to switch up for the day so I could fill in for Wichita on the detail while she met up with her boyfriend …’

You’re not very comfortable playing a scarecrow in the shadow of a tug-boat, but you do your best anyway. Commander Tague had taken a more hands-on approach in response to the whole crisis, electing to follow through on your previous suggestion to keep the defenses as they were and shoring up the security detail to ensure that there was no unnecessary panic going around. You spy the the four-some that served as part of the parade—and by extension, the festival’s—security detail, each and every one of them wearing worried, apprehensive looks at the latest revelations. Arashio fidgeted standing on the water, biting her lip as she turned her head towards Eagle, whose stoic demeanor remains as still as her gaze upon Belfast, who stands at the edge of the dock. Tennessee—the Shipgirl who had just blurted out her surprise at the information regarding their missing comrades—licks her top lip as she rotates herself, her great array of weaponry heaving and shifting as she—fortunately given a wide berth—tries to digest the information.

You don’t know why Belfast had decided to do a personal check-in with the security detail after sounding out the updates as per Tague’s request (much to the chagrin of a certain Cruiser that had hoped to take it easy for the day), but Belfast’s out-ranking of your lowly status as a cadet hadn’t allowed you to do much but trudge behind her as lackeys did.

‘There’s no way to say for certain, is there?’ the fourth member of the unit—Concord—speaks up, lifting her gaze up to meet Belfast’s gaze. ‘Considering just what this week’s like for us, you can’t really rule it out just because a bunch of humans went—’

‘We’re certain,’ Formidable speaks up … and while you can’t quite see the expression that she wears with her back to you, you’re very sure that she leaves no room for argument with the finality that she throws across. Concord opens her mouth to retort, but almost immediately decides against it, choosing to nod and focus on massaging her purple cuffs. ‘The jocks have reported several missing patrols of their own—two of them in the last hour. Keep vigilant.’

A round of nods is the reply she gets.

‘Thank you, Tennessee,’ Belfast responds, dropping into a slight bow.

The detail resumes its rounds as Belfast, Formidable and Bismarck turn on their heels, stepping away from the edge of the dock.
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>>5011396
>‘Bunch of humans, huh?’
>‘I don’t get it. We already did what Commander Tague asked us to do. Why are doing all these check-ups?’
>‘You two doing all right?’
>‘This would probably have gone a lot better if the jocks and the navy weren’t so anal about jurisdiction.’
>Write-In
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>>5011398
>>‘You two doing all right?’
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>>5011398
>‘You two doing all right?’
>the other missing patrols in any relation to the first?