On that day, the sky in Yokosuka city, Kanagawa Prefecture, was sometimes cloudy, sometimes rainy.
It was such a depressing and gloomy day for a fleet to leave the port.
Kuze Hiroyuki, member of the Armed Self-Defense Force, lined up with his subordinate in front the Maritime Self-Defence Force, looking down at it.
The transport ship was almost the same height as a 4th floor building, allowing them to see everything what was happening at the dock.
Drizzle fondled their faces.
A high-pitched voice of a reporter from a TV station was heard.
Now, at the Yokosuka Maritime Self-Defense base, we can see the fleet sailing on.
It was said that they were going to join on International alliance, but they are in fact going to a UN peacekeeping force!
Her voice sounded so threatening that Kuze could easily understand what was going on.
The evening news is probably going portray with a heavy BGM that the Self-Defense Forces are going to be sailing as a “dispatch troop”.
A transport vessel is sailing right now, with the Maritime Force Self-Defense most powerful tanks, also sending the so called Aegis Destroyer flagship, in a total of 5 ships. It is said to be inside of it tanks, many helicopters, and the most skilled operational unit dispatched ever.
The woman was dressed in a raincoat, and was in the front of the not yet left fleet, showing it to the cameraman.
The Ibuki flagship is the most modern, armed with a missile interceptor weapon, being totally developed to overseas combat. In the expedition area, somewhere within the north of Africa, there is a possibility that rebels may use missiles, making it to be necessary.
Then, she started showing an explanation in a flipboard, making some sketches about how the missile interceptor weapon works.
The dispatch of the Aegis destroyer ‘Ibuki’ is said to be part of a still unknow plan of the government and top ranked military troop. It…
Afterwards, she put the flipboard down and showed a photo of last year’s “The North’s” public army’s parade, and its mobile ballistic launch system.
“The North” nuclear weapon is ready to be launched and is waiting to be used.
Then, she lowered the flipboard, and turned around to see the back of Aegis Destroyer on the open sea.
The Aegis destroyer and its missile interceptor weapon were called into an urgent mission, to intercept and block any missiles launched by the rebel force. With this, Japan is showing to the world how it deals with it’s self protection. The Japanese government, behind International Alliance, is planning to strengthen its influence through Far Eastern Asia, but that has nothing to do with the current tense conflicts within this region.
The reporter’s voice stopped being heard.
The land was far away.
In Kuze’s mind, the fact that they were going to place other than Japan emerged. And, with it, came the feeling of fearing the unknown and something that could be not explained.
Kuze raised the visor of his cap a bit and looked for someone familiar within the people who came to see the fleet set of.
After a while, Kuze, who is turning 24-year old this year, turned his youthful face into a cloudy expression.
Despite being young, he wore in his neck an insignia showing a cherry blossom and a bar. It was a sign of him being three steps below a major.
The young officer was looking for the lover who had broken up with him some days ago. He was expecting her to come see him leave. But she didn’t. He was so disappointed, his expectations betrayed him.
Kuze, with this sadness, looked up to sky.
The drizzle was slowly turning into a heavy rain.
Are you crying, Kuze-taichou?
Asked by a rather childish and young recently joined new subordinate. “Ichinose” was embroidered in his breast pocket. He was a brat with a malicious laugh. He and Kuse get along well, despite being superior and subordinate. Kuze thinks it’s because he has no hesitation to say whatever he thinks.
I’m not crying.
But it was just a bluff.
That’s a lie. You are clearly crying. Your girlfriend wasn’t there, right?
Ex-girlfriend, you idiot.
So why are you crying, then?
Taking a deep breath, “I think so”, with a suffering smile, he looked again to the dock, with a serious look.
As in an Hollywood movie, there were hugs, kisses and people saying ”Please come back home safely”. He didn’t want that.
He just thought that wanting to be by the side of someone whom you want to protect isn’t too extravagant to an Officer.
No one to see you leave. It’s something no Officer should pass through.
He thought that if he had listened to her advice after graduating from the Defence University, not going to the army path, but instead turning into a salaryman, it would have been be better.
She waited him until the end.
“You are so gentle that I don’t think you are suited to be a commander”.
This was her wish for him to think about their future together.
“I didn’t notice that this was her desire”. He thought.
How pitiful, can the stubborn me…
With the rain pouring in the deck, he was fed up with himself.
….be disliked by anyone else other than my ex-girlfriend?
From now on you are going to clean the toilets for three months!
What?? This is abuse of power!
Kuze pointed to a girl in the dock, wearing a high school uniform.
Look, your younger sister came to see you off!
Mina!? What the heckl? I said there was no need to do that…
The crowd standing at the dock gradually faded into the horizon.
In the rain, so did the fleet to the crowd.
In the fog, the reporter spoke, like she was saying goodbye to the fleet:
The fleet is scheduled to reach Africa in about one month. After arriving they will join other attending countries and counterattack the enemy. The Armed Force will set up a base and start logistics supplying medical support and water resources.
And then the dispatch contribution of the Self-Defense Force left its homeland.
No one can predict what’s waiting for them on this mission.
Chapter one, part 2
According to the greek mythology, it is said that the omnipotent god Zeus gave the most powerful shield to the goddess Athena, who excelled in war strategy.
The Aegis System is a combination of a high performance radar and a computer, which can track and intercept more than 200 targets at the same time, making the Aegis Warship the ultimate Air-Defense Ship.
It’s the Self-Defense Force and Japan’s Non-aggressive Force ideal’s Battleship.
Inside the Maritime Self-Defense Aegis Ibuki, the “First Meal” announcement and lunchtime were starting. Weighing more than 10.000 tons and measuring more than 700 hundreds meters long, there had to be a lot of people inside it.
Therefore, during lunchtime the dining hall was very crowded and lively, at full capacity.
But the side reserved to the officials was surrounded by a solemn atmosphere. It was the only calm place inside the ship.
- All officers, salute!
An officer raised his voice, and all the other officers sitting with him stand in continence.
Then, a man who had just entered the officers’ dining room sat down in the main chair.
At a glance, he looked to be young
But that was just due to his appearance. He was in fact a middle aged man, with bold gestures. His back was straight, and he had an ambitious look that no young men had. His height was short, but he had some majesty that made it unnoticed at all. No, instead of calling it majesty, it would be better to call it a trustworthy appearance. He just seemed to be a good man.
He was Kaburagi Norio, Maritime Major General, the man responsible for this UN peacekeeping dispatch fleet.
- At ease!
- At ease!
- Aah, finally! Let’s eat now? Everyone, enjoy your meal. Is this “Friday’s curry”?
He was so serious at first, but now Kaburagi was just enjoying with the other officers. He just thought there was no need to keep an unnecessary serious atmosphere. He thought there were officers smiling just like him, officers who weren’t enjoying the most, and those who were disappointed.
- Typical of you, Commander Kaburagi.
A soothing voice was heard in the officer’s’ room.
Sitting in the front were Commander Shuuji Katou, 2nd class Captain, the one in charge of the Fleet’s Staff.
Within the officers, there was a person with distinctive semblance. He was wearing unframed glasses which, thanks to its angle, always reflected the light, so even from far everyone could recognize him. He looked so young that could be mistaken by a high school student, making him stand out within the other officers. If age were a requirement for being a commander, he skipped that one.
- I am the commander, so I decided that would be nicer.
Grinning, Kaburagi was filled with impertinence.
He didn’t care about the other officers looking at him. He was just taking his curry to his mouth.
Afterwhile, everyone inside the ship stopped caring so much and started enjoying their lunch, without thinking about Kaburagi. It became a peaceful mealtime scene.
Katou, the one in charge of the ship staff, untimely started to report.
- According to the meteorology team report, the typhoon that arose yesterday is taking its way off the fleet.
- In this case, we can relax. Anything else?
- No, that’s all. Yesterday I had a strange dream…
Trying to be as calm as possible, Kaburagi turned to Katou.
- Yeah, I don’t remember clearly, but a winged girl was bleeding…
Everyone in the officer’s room looked at him, with surprised eyes.
Katou smiled sadly and said
- Hahaha, I’m sorry, this topic is not suited for a mealtime.
But Kaburagi went on.
- What a mystery.
- I dreamed that too. A girl with wings being sacrificed…
- What!? R-really?
Looking completely surprised, Katou opened his eyes in curiosity.
“Sacrifice… That’s what it really looked like…” – He groaned.
A dream, with a winged girl, sacrifice… The same dream?
- Commander, aren’t you just tired?
A person in the medical team spoke in the room with a strange conversation.
- It must be that, we had such a troublesome schedule…
Time passes within “Ibuki’s” journey
What they were trying to say by “troublesome schedule” was the time spent coordinating the fleet. Their mission is actually a response to an event that happened half a year ago.
In an African Country in civil conflict, a UN facility was the target of a terrorism act. This is a common event in Africa.
But that time there very different happened. The rebel army who did the terrorist attack, just launched a missile against the city. Then, the UN, aiming to boost its defense against long distance and nuclear missiles, constituted a peacekeeping dispatch force, with approval of the USA and the EU. What happened was that a lot of countries didn’t want to join, remembering the number of victims in 1993, in Somalia. The USA then requested Japan’s support.
The Japanese government thought that the Japanese army could counterattack the Rebel’s army, and if they could, the “North’s” nuclear threatening would vanish. That would also be helpful to all the captives, as a rescue operation.
After considering the advantages and disadvantages, the Self-Defense Force was soon requested. There was some resistance by the opposed parties, but the ruling party attained the public opinion.
Aiming world’s recognition, the government also announced its most powerful weapon, Aegis Warship Ibuki. “A boom on the ground”, was stated, referring to the Ground Self-defense Force.
“This is an humanitarian aid for the UN” would be just fine, but the politicians wanted to make it sound even bigger.
If the Self-Defense Force fails, they will just negate they were the ones who really decided it. “Jerks!” Kaburagi thought.
It’s not known if it really was a redemption or just a burden, but if the worst may happen, then we should get it done.
Other than Aegis Ibuki, the Self-Defense Force also sent more than 15500 tons in helicopters, and support ships. This was just nothing more, nothing less than an “entire city” going to the battlefield.
Among the politicians, there was this feeling of “Japan should be proud of this”, but truth is the fleet’s organization wasn’t that good.
But Kaburagi, who was in charge of it, didn’t have any negative thoughts.
He liked what was going on. If he could, he would stay in the Navy until retirement.
“If no one is taking the lead, then I should do it”. That’s what Kaburagi believes in. This is the kind of personality that suffers, becomes the “elite” and takes the desperation from others.
- If Commander Kaburagi and I look like we are normal, turn the red code on and prepare the medical team.
Kaburagi thought that Katou was making fun of him.
“…. He is such an eccentric person. I was the one who transferred him to this position, so I don’t have anything to complain”. Kaburagi thought that, with a nervous smile, and kept eating his curry.
The familiar curry flavor makes his heart calm down.
This day, in which he can enjoy a peaceful meal, was a real treat to him. If this journey turns into war, there will be no more days like this one.
Thinking about that, the Katou’s last topic came back to him.
“… A winged girl.
She was looking for something… for sure.”
He forgot about eating his curry, and was absent in his thoughts.
“Just because two people had the same dream it doesn’t mean that something will happen. So why am I feeling this uneasiness?”
- Yes, it’s you.
A girl’s voice was heard.
He thought he was just hearing an illusion but…
He looked up.
Katou has stopped eating his curry and was looking at somewhere in the room, with an open mouth.
Kaburagi looked at where Katou was looking. There was a girl wearing a thin robe.
She was right above the table, surrounded by the officers.
“Am I dreaming!?”
A cold sweat drop ran down his back.
Then an ordeal started. All the officers standed up, distancing from the table.
- W- who are you!? How did you got here!?
- Please calm down, Commander!
A subordinate came to Kaburagi but he just kept staring at her.
- You are…!
Inside his dream.
She had a long silver hair down to her hips. Engraved marks could be seen in her body through her thin robe. And she had white wings.
She opened her eyes.
- I can only entrust you.
Kaburagi couldn’t understand what she was saying. Then Katou asked her:
- What do you mean by entrust!?
In that situation, she looked at the single person who was calm, Katou, with a gentle eyes.
- I’m sorry…
She then closed her eyes again. Kaburagi was going to say something to her but at that moment the room got dark. But the lights didn’t turn off.
“What is going on!?”
At this moment, everyone was panicking.
The girl started humming an odd melody.
Then, a green light appeared under her feet. Something with an odd pattern wriggled in it.
Katou, who was beside Kaburagi, was looking at that light.
- Magic circle…?
That looked like something Katou had read in one of his occult magazines.
- What are you doing?! Stop that!
A young officer tried to stop her, climbing on the table. She was just a girl, he thought.
- Don’t do that!
Feeling something bad would happen, Kaburagi yelled.
The space in the room got distorted. There was nothing like that, everyone felt like it was an illusion due to a poison gas from a terrorist attack or something like that.
Then, a deep pattern of darkness began flowing from her body marks. This thing started by eating the tablecloth and soon spread through the whole room.
The darkness wrapped the Admiral’s body.
- Get away!!!… Stop it!!
The darkness moved like as it was alive, swallowing the officers.
It was a disturbing scene..
“ The darkness will take us!”
Their human instincts flourished.
- Aarrrrgh!! Somebody save me!!
Trying to escape, Katou yelled in despair, and disappeared in the darkness…
The last one to remaining in the room, Kaburagi, ran away from the darkness, trying to calm down and avoid being taken over.
He had the duty of saving his subordinates, therefore he ran to the phone beside the entrance door, on the wall of officer’s room.
- This is the officer’s room… Kaburagi… Prepare the lifeboats…
He was trying to conduct the crew’s evacuation, but the darkness caught him up. Besides being an officer’s place, it was a small room…
- I Repeat, evacuation…… Aarghhhh……
The darkness didn’t stop in the officer’s room, leaving it and going through the whole ship, swallowing it whole.
While his sight was completely blackened, Kaburagi remained on the phone, trying to conduct the evacuation, but his consciousness was gradually being lost, also losing his strength to hold the phone and avoid being wrapped in dispair.
Kuze, lying on his back, opened his eyes.
In the first moment, he thought to be sleeping face down, as something blocked his vision. What prevented him from seeing was a dense fog.
“What happened to that black thing!?”
He then rose up his torso and looked around. He remembered that before being swallowed by that mysterious black thing, he had been appointed to be in charge of supervision and inspection of the vehicles. Therefore, he wasn’t in the officer’s room.
“This must be a dream”. The fog around him did look like an illusion…
Besides, there was nobody else. In the stern, he could see the water trail made by the ship. He could also listen to the gears rotating.
He was relieved.
- But what was that, anyway…?
“Was I the only one who saw that illusion?”
“Anyway, I need to go back and find the others. This fog and that black thing must not be something usual.”
He stood up…
His body wasn’t in pain. Besides a little confusion, he knew it was real.
Kuze was going back inside the ship when…
“La…. la la….”
A melody pierced through the fog.
He stopped walking and turned to where the melody was coming from.
“A reef?”, something about 200 meters starboard to the ship. Did the voice seem to come from there?
- What is that song?
Was someone singing it? “But we are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.”
Then he went to the binoculars used to patrol the enormous ship.
What he saw through those lenses was…
“La la…. la la la…”
- What is that!?
There were some humans shadows on the reef.
At first, he thought it was just some seals or other sea animals, but that was not the case. He froze seeing that scene, the reef inside the fog.
- Kuze! You were there, afterall!
All of a sudden, a feminine voice came from behind him.
When he turned around, there was an young woman, in her late 20’s, dressed as Ichinose, his colleague..
- Itai Company’s Taichou!?
When he recognized her, he yelled her name.
She was Itai Kaori, Ground First-Class squad, his commander.. She was his senpai in the university, being known as oni-senpai, feared by all.
But she was alive, and more than that, someone he knew. With shaking legs, he then went towards her.
- I-I have something to report!!
Her hair, reaching the shoulders, swayed with the wind.
- I s-s-s-s-s-s-saw “a mermaid” starboard to the ship!
He pointed to the direction.
Itai looked at where he pointed at, but she didn’t see anything else other than the fog. He noticed there wasn’t anything there anymore, in shock.
Concerned, she then put her hands over Kuze’s shoulders.
- Calm down, Kuze. Are you in pain?
- You are just confused because you had lost your consciousness. Everything will be fine, I’ll take you to the infirmary.
- I am n-not lying!
- It’s okay, tell me everything while we go to the infirmary…
Kuze was happy to her being so kind, which wasn’t usual of her, kept talking:
- Please, wait a moment! I’m not lying!
She didn’t listen to him, and kept taking him to the infirmary by force.
The ship’s track in the water surface kept going on, and the stern was back to it’s usual silence.
Beside the ship, the voice kept singing. No, it wasn’t just a single voice. Three women were singing in the middle of the ocean. No one except for Kuze noticed it. And in front of them, the ship kept going on. They were as beautiful as dolls, and had a concerned look. The women dived into the ocean. Their tail swimming in the surface made a noise, but the sound of the engine blocked it.