Seventy-eight hours has passed since we first had contact. Morale is okay. Surcouf finally opened up and told us what happened. Artois’ making good of her threat and we’re detecting massive numbers of abyssals coming in from the stratosphere. It’s been an eventful couple of days, and it’s only going to get hotter once all those signatures finally hit.
Goddamn, if I hear from one more junior officer about handing off that poor French girl to “save the world,” I swear I’m going to slap a bleeding heart liberal or three. We’re American. We believe in something called innocent until proven guilty.
You’d think that against such monsters as the abyssal fleet people would be able to band together to face them down. Well, you know what? Monsters can be pretty, too. The abyssal fleet is more than aware of the fact that we humans have problems dealing with other humans. Which is why it created beings such as Artois.
The NKT derisively call these abyssals “hime” – their word for “princess”, believing that the abyssal fleet created them as a mockery of we ship girls. The nickname is popular within the scattered factions of Japanese ship girl service, as to the average on-looker Artois can easily pass for being human if she withdrew her “protrusions” and tail.
((The section below has been forcefully scratched out.))
I really shouldn’t be annoyed by the gossip, but there is no way she’d look better in a bikini than me.
Of course there’s a purpose for her looking like that. The abyssal fleet is more than capable of meeting any resistance it sees with overwhelming force, but we’ve never been so delusional as to think we were facing simple beasts. Artois looks good. She can talk. She’s damn good at that, in fact, judging from the contents of that note. A whispered word or a single sentence can and will destroy alliances and coalitions, and what one cannot destroy from without, one can easily do so from within.
Whatever it may be, the seeds of discord has been sown. That Soviet officer – Viktor? – got the right idea in my opinion to deal with this. Mike’s setting aside an entire afternoon to speak to anyone who wants about the nature of the abyssal fleet, and I believe the other COs are doing the same. We don’t have commissars here. Never needed them. However, our men need to be aware of the sort of thing they’re up against, and we need to make sure we’re all in this together with the same mindset and the same attitude.
No doubt there are worlds out there that chose to hand Surcouf over to her, believing that perhaps humanity can be saved through diplomacy and negotiation. Perhaps their actions may even buy a slight respite, as Artois may decide to attack at a later point. Perhaps Artois (and I admit I myself am naive for thinking this) may even keep her word, and withdraw her abyssals (if they realy are “hers”) from the conflict altogether.
Yet Artois is not the first abyssal we’ve faced, and she won’t be the last. I’d rather die before I willingly send someone to a fate worse than death for a statistical possibility.
As an intelligent and largely independent agent acting on behalf of the abyssal fleet, Artois has personally experienced countless permutations of history. She knows many ways to corrode a planet’s ability to resist, and is quite willing to subvert the noblest of human qualities in order to achieve her ends.
Alright ladies and gents. I’ll be brief. By now you’ve all seen the hundreds of messages washed up on our shores. I’m sure you’ve all read ’em. And I’m sure you’ve got a lot of questions. Well, I’ve got answers.
Avalon’s defenses have NOT been compromised. Contrary to popular opinion, the abyssals do follow a set of physical limitations. They are unable to enter the field generated by Avalon and must resort to other means.
The messages themselves are harmless and composed of mundane matter. If you do’t believe me, Mahan’s already finished her analyses over them. They are, quite literally, made out of black ink and special parchment. No, you will not go mad from reading it, nor will it cause nightmares or any assorted ill-effects.
The fact that they self-destruct is not an indication that the letter is abyssal in origin. I’ll get the boys from the CIA to bring a demo next time, or you can just go find Phoenix and she’ll show you how it works. We’re talking high school chemistry demonstration here, folks. Trust me, I was a bit freaked too until she pointed out that those messages came in vacuum-sealed watertight packs.
For the four of you that actually need to pay attention to this part of the message, do NOT eat Artois’ message. Sh♣t, guys. I can’t believe I need to say this, but on what planet is putting something like that in your mouth EVER a good idea? No, nobody’s getting disciplined or demoted, but I hope you’ve learned your lesson well.
As for Artois’ demands? I’ve got one thing to say. Let’s end this advisory on a high note.
The United States does not negotiate with Terrorists.
The fairies wake to find strange messages have washed ashore Avalon base. Written on what appears to be mundane post cards, the messages are nonetheless determined to be abyssal in origin.
There is one hiding among you that I seek. Her name is Surcouf, traitor to the True French, and a traitor to the Fleet. This matter is one of mutual convenience. Do as I say and deliver her, alone, to ♣♣♣♣:♠♠♠♠ in seventy-two hours and I will withdraw all my fleet assets from this parallel.
The others can do as they see fit. My quarrel is with Surcouf, and Surcouf alone.
Ignore my generous offer, and suffer the appropriate consequences. In fact, the very fact that you have received this message should be evidence enough of the weaknesses within your defenses. Weaknesses brought upon by the one I seek.
I am Artois.
The French submarine girl Surcouf is sobbing quietly as you entered her room. Curled up in a tiny ball, her eyes are red and swollen. Three empty tissue boxes lie empty nearby, and the little waste bin she moved to within arm’s reach is looking dangerously full as the ship girl sniffed and cracked open another one.
The source of her distress was a folder sitting on top of the coffee table. Emblazoned with the tricolor of the Marine Nationale, it was her operational assessment.
Combat operations assessment: Surcouf
Training sortie No. 1
Escorted by Sailfish, Surcouf’s ability to dive was tested. While Surcouf was able to dive to depths appropriate to ship girl operations, the speed of which she performed these tests are unsatisfactory. Her dive speeds were ♦♦♦♦, which is ♦♦♦♦ times slower than that of the median dive times with a standard deviation of ♦♦♦♦ seconds.
Training sortie No. 2
Escorted by Sailfish, Surcouf’s ability to crash dive was tested. Unfortunately, the crash dive test was terminated without appropriate completion. Surcouf’s dive speed, as previously discussed, is ♦♦♦♦ and closer to ♦♦♦♦ speeds for the USN ship girls under non-emergency situations. She was able to crash dive only at ♦♦♦♦ of her usual dive speeds, felt light-headed at ♦♦♦♦ speeds, and fainted diving at ♦♦♦♦ speeds.
Training sortie No. 3
Escorted by Sailfish, Surcouf’s surface speed was tested. Surcouf is highly proficient in all requisite forms, but swims significantly slower than all submarine girls to date. Her equipment appears faulty and lacks the ability to accelerate her speed to any great degree. As such, she will be reliant on transportation and is unsuitable for rapid response deployments.
Training sortie No. 4
Escorted by Sailfish, Surcouf’s underwater speed was tested. Surcouf possess excellent endurance, but is significantly slower than all other submarine girls to date. Her equipment appears faulty, as noted above.
Training sortie No. 5
In this sortie, Surcouf’s torpedo combat potential is tested. Surcouf carries a mixture of torpedoes, classified based on historical anecdotes as either 400mm or 550mm. These torpedoes are of slightly slower speeds and significantly shorter range than their USN counterparts, but pack a powerful punch. It is fair to assume that these are combat worthy – supply issues not withstanding, of course.
Training sortie No. 6
In this sortie, Surcouf’s surface gunnery potential is tested. Surcouf carries a pair of main guns, caliber 203mm. The guns are of good (fairy) craftsmanship, comparable to those of carried by other ship girls, and seem to suffer no ill effects from repeatedly resurfacing. However, they possess a vastly inferior rate of fire (approximately 3 rounds a minute), lack any type of “over-drive” or “rapid-fire” modes commonly seen on the equipment of other ship girls, and does not appear to accept American or English ammunition.
With no additional assistance such as spotting from her fairies, a marksmanship test was raised at ♦♦♦♦ distances, categorized as “close,” “medium,” and “long” combat distances. An important drawback is the fact that at the time of resurfacing, her guns will not fire accurately for a number of minutes. Until this weakness is resolved, Surcouf cannot be used to launch surprise surface attacks, and she is rendered relatively defenseless should she be forced to break to the surface.
At close distances, Surcouf was able to successfully hit all of the stationary and mobile targets offered. Her performance was excellent.
At medium distances, Surcouf successfully scored hits on all of the stationary targets, but scored only a 4% hit rate on mobile targets. While Surcouf failed to hit most of her moving targets, special attention must be paid to the fact that this is the first time she has fired her main guns with live ammunition. However, without opportunity to improve, no appropriate reason exists to allow her to use her guns at this distance.
At long distances, Surcouf was unable to hit any of her targets with any degree of accuracy. It is important to note that Surcouf appears to possess scouting fairies, but without an appropriate float-plane to provide spotting assistance, her extreme inexperience coupled with technological limitations renders her unsuitable for long-ranged combat duties.
Training sortie No. 7
In this sortie, Surcouf was pitted against a simulated abyssal air attack, with ♦♦♦♦ participating as OPFOR. While Surcouf’s anti-aircraft capabilities are admirable, she possess too few weapon dedicated to air defense, and the training revealed an exceedingly worrisome vulnerability to air-based attacks given how slow Surcouf’s dive speed is.
Training sorties No. 8
In this sortie, Surcouf’s physical capabilities were tested. Surcouf is a good hand-to-hand combatant, and passes all required examinations with high scores.
Training sortie No. 9
In this sortie, Surcouf’s physical defenses were tested. Surcouf performed satisfactorily, but her parameters were as a whole below the performance levels of her fellow ship girls.
Assessment: The inability to crash dive alone renders her unfit for current submarine ship girl operations, as there is little method to guarantee her safety. Given the numerous deficiencies in her current operational paradigms, the Marine Nationale forbid Surcouf from taking on any tasks to engage the abyssal fleet until such deficiencies can be addressed.
♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ , Marine Nationale
♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦, Marine Nationale
♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦, Marine Nationale
Quietly, you left the note you received on her desk. The submarine girl pounced on it like a cat, as if she instinctively knew what it contained.
Surcouf’s lithe frame shook. She choked back a sob, and with a tiny, resigned sigh, threw the message onto the floor.
“I am not a traitor, commandant. Please, please believe me!”
Pennsy’s shrill voice rang through the hallway. A moment later, her livid face poked through the doorway. In her hand was the same note that you yourself had read, moments ago.
“What is this?”
Visibly discomforted by Pennsy’s accusation, Surcouf looked around desperately, as if she was looking for a place to hide.
“Surcouf. How did they find – how did the abyssal fleet know where we are?”
The crying submarine girl didn’t answer. Instead, she tried to bury her face in your lap.
One thing to note is that I’m not very good at handling short speech yet. I tried my best to not make Iowa sound too stereotypical, but given the short number of lines, there are only a few places I can use vocab to our advantage.
We’ll definitely be working on layout, too, as some of our readers recommended. For now, however, I hope this piece gives a closer look into the ship girl’s personalities. 🙂