Issei sat on the couch, nervously fidgeting as he glanced at both Yamato and Kaga who were sitting next to him. A while ago, they arrived at Abe residence after following Kiyome Abe, who arrived at the scene riding a horse reined by a headless guy. Now, the three of them were in the guestroom where they were waiting for Kiyome to show up.
"Admiral?" Yamato asked, looking concerned as she looked at Issei. "Is something wrong?"
"Uh… w-well, I'm worried…" Issei admitted, his head drooping. "I hope Akagi-chan's alright." He clenched his fists as he placed them on his knees.
"…" Kaga wordlessly looked at her Admiral, her expression unreadable but she seemed to be bringing her hand onto his shoulder, as if trying to comfort her.
She immediately lowered her hand when Kiyome showed up, bringing tea and snacks for them.
"Sorry for the wait!" Kiyome announced as she brought the tray before placing it on the table. "It took me a while, but Akagi-chan is alright now."
"R-really?!" Issei exclaimed, looking visibly relieved after learning that Akagi was fine.
Kiyome nodded. "Yep! A Kanmusu is very durable because they are the personifications of warships from the past. Technically, they can even survive beheading. The only way to completely destroy a Kanmusu is to totally annihilate them."
"Whoa…" Issei was astonished to learn about that. He looked at both Yamato and Kaga, imagining them still walking despite the lack of heads, and he decided to drop the matter because it was just too disturbing. "P-putting that aside, can we see Akagi-chan now? I… I want to thank her, a-and…" He paused as he unclenched his fists. "…I want to apologize to her f-for trying to run away."
"Issei…" Kaga said. This time, she didn't hesitate to bring her hand onto his shoulder, comforting him.
"It's not your fault, Issei-niichan."
All four of them heard a new voice before someone came into view. It was Akagi. But there was something different about her.
"W-wha…" Kaga was at a loss for words as she stared at Akagi, her cheeks turning red for some reason.
"A-Akagi-chan? I-is that you?" Issei asked in disbelief, trying to make sense of what he was seeing.
"Ah…" As for Yamato, she seemed to comprehend what was going on.
"Ehehe…" Akagi giggled to herself as she scratched the back of her head, winking her right eye as she stuck out her tongue. "I'm sorry I caught you off-guard, everyone. And I'm sorry I made you worry, Issei-niichan."
Akagi seemed to shrink in size, and looking younger. Instead of wearing her usual shipgirl getup, she was wearing a simple yukata. It felt like she was ten years younger.
"Well, you see… her body was grievously damaged, and a simple bath won't do to heal her. So, we had no other choice but repair her body through this means," Kiyome explained as she beckoned Akagi to come closer to her. The small Akagi trotted towards Kiyome and sat on her lap. Patting the diminutive shipgirl, Kiyome continued, "She'll revert back to normal in no time, though. All she needs to do is to eat and sleep a lot."
"I'm still a growing young lady!" Akagi nodded.
"Uh, I-I see?" Issei said uncertainly. "B-but why are you calling me niichan?"
Akagi crossed her arms and huffed. "Why shouldn't I? I'm a little kid right now, of course I'm gonna call you niichan, Issei-niichan!"
"O-okay?" Issei conceded. Then, he smiled. "Still, I'm so glad you're alright, Akagi-chan. I… I thought you were dead. I-if only I were strong enough…" He then looked down, crestfallen as he remembered that time when Akagi was mortally wounded by those Fallen Angels.
Akagi looked at Issei before she hopped off of Kiyome's lap. She trotted towards where Issei was sitting before she stood before him. She cupped him by his cheeks, and the two of them were looking into each other's eyes.
"You are strong, Issei-niichan. Instead of running away, you returned back and tried to help me. It takes a special kind of strength to face danger for the sake of other people…" Akagi said, smiling warmly at the boy. "There's no wonder Yamato-neechan and Kaga-neechan have you as their Admiral."
Yamato nodded, smiling in agreement. "Of course. That sounds like Issei to jump into danger unthinkingly."
Kaga also smiled. "While I do not condone recklessness, the way Admiral is willing to put himself in harm's way just to help others is simply admirable. Though I wish he can rely on us more…"
Issei blushed when both shipgirls complimented him. Then, Akagi trotted back towards Kiyome and sat back onto her lap. Snuggling against her sister figure, she clapped her hands to get everyone's attention.
"So, I believe there's something important that you want to talk about here…" Akagi began. "To be honest, I never thought I'd see other Kanmusu showing up here. So, I'm sure Kiyome-neechan is willing to help you guys."
"Ah, yes. We've been looking for you, Kiyome-dono." Yamato said, addressing the girl who was patting Akagi's head. "We are looking for someone who can help us deal with the grudge that are tainting our beings." She gestured at Kaga. "Due to Midway, Kaga still has to live with her grudge, and we have to make sure that we can deal with it in the future."
"I see…" Kiyome said. "Well, there's no reason for me to refuse. After all, you guys are Akagi-chan's friends." She stroked Akagi's hair, and the little shipgirl seemed to be enjoying the attention Kiyome was giving her. "Akagi-chan here still has a little bit of Abyssal taints left in her, so we have to periodically cleanse her through some ceremonies and rituals."
Kaga nodded. "If these ceremonies and rituals can help me suppress my grudge, then I'm willing to undergo through them. You have my gratitude, Kiyome-dono."
"Don't worry about it," Kiyome said. "So, besides the purification ceremonies, what else do you want from me? Since we're in this together, feel free to ask for my help!"
"Uh, w-we don't really want to bother you, but i-if you insist, A-Abe-senpai," Issei said, bowing to Kiyome.
"Aw, stop calling me that, Issei-kun. Just Kiyome is fine," Kiyome said in friendly manner.
"W-well, if you're willing to help, then… thanks," Issei said, grinning sheepishly.
So, they enjoyed their tea as they talked about themselves. Kiyome told everyone that her family was a clan of Beast Tamers for generations.
"Oh, there's something I'd like to show you…" Kiyome said as she got up from her seat while Akagi got herself off of her lap. She went towards a drawer at the corner of the guestroom before she took out a box. "As a family of Beast Tamers, we are already aware of the existence of Kanmusu for long, but Akagi-chan is the only active Kanmusu we have here…"
Both Yamato and Kaga watched Kiyome curiously as she placed the box on the table.
"We have located many shards of warships and collected them here, but we couldn't summon them for some reasons…" Kiyome said as she opened the box, revealing a bunch of steel shards. Both Yamato and Kaga looked at them with fascination.
"I can feel them…" Yamato said. "You have collected about thirty of them."
Kiyome nodded. "Yup! And no one besides Akagi-chan here responded to my call. It was weird…"
"So, you want us to perform the summoning ceremony?" Kaga asked.
"Yup!" Kiyome nodded again. "And I think Issei-kun will make a suitable Admiral for them."
"Eh?" Issei blinked in confusion as all eyes were on him.
Kantai Collection and High School DxD Crossover
Chapter 07: Gathering Clouds
"Let's see…" Yamato said as she checked on the shards. "There are quite a lot of them. What do you think, Admiral?" She asked Issei.
"Uh, can you tell which ships they are?" Issei asked as he looked at the shards. All of them looked identical, but for some reasons, he could tell that each of them possessed the spirit of the ships from the past.
"We can, but it will take us a while. Would you like to choose one for the summoning ceremony?" Yamato asked again.
"Well, I guess trying to pick one at random won't hurt…" Issei shrugged. Then, he took one of the shards at random. "Let's try this one."
Kaga studied the shard that Issei picked before she nodded to herself after identifying it. "Admiral, it is the shard of a destroyer named Murakumo. Would you like to summon her?"
"Eh, why not?" Issei shrugged. "Still, shouldn't we do this somewhere open? I mean… there's a chance that she's going to go berserk after showing up."
"Ah, yes…" Yamato nodded. "She sunk during the war, after all."
As an otaku of warships, Issei knew about the history of Murakumo. During the war, she was bombed by enemy aircraft and was then scuttled. Like Kaga, there was a chance that she might emerge as her corrupted Abyssal self.
"You can do this outside," Kiyome said, well aware of the danger an Abyssal might pose. "Still, it's up to you guys. We can do nothing but watch for the time being. After all, Akagi-chan here is still recuperating."
Akagi pouted when Kiyome told her that she wouldn't be fighting if the Abyssal showed up. But she reluctantly agreed that she couldn't do much in her current form.
So, they went to the backyard where they could safely perform the summoning ceremony. Both Yamato and Kaga had already summoned their gears, with Yamato preparing her cannons and Kaga her archery bow. Issei stood behind them as he watched the fairies doing the dancing ritual around the shard anxiously. As for Kiyome and Akagi, they watched the ceremony from a distance, with the Beast Tamer sitting on a chair and hugging Akagi who was sitting on her lap.
"I can sense it…" Kaga said, her arrow materialized out of thin air. "The cloud of abyss is circling around the shard. Please stay behind us, Admiral. The battle is imminent."
Issei gulped as he continued watching the ritual. Then, the fairies stopped dancing as they immediately poofed out of existence. Black smoke emerged from the ground where the shard was placed.
"It's coming. Brace yourself!" Yamato said as she primed her cannons at the shard. Soon, a figure started to materialize. It was a pale-skinned girl, clad in tattered clothes. She seemed to be holding a spear in her hand.
"I… I won't forgive you…"
Covered in black smoke, the corrupted shipgirl growled, glaring at both Yamato and Kaga with her red glowing eyes. The ground under her feet started cracking and in the sky, dark clouds seemed to appear out of nowhere.
"Reality itself is rejecting her presence…" Kaga said. "Remember, if any of our plans don't work, then we have no other choice but to destroy her."
"I-it's…" Issei gritted his teeth. He made a promise to himself to save the Kanmusu from darkness, and he'd rather not see any of them being destroyed.
"We'll do our best to keep her contained," Yamato promised.
The corrupted Kanmusu trembled as more dark smoke emerged from her being. Her movements seemed unnatural, and the cracking sounds she made each time she moved indicated how wrong she was as an existence. Then, she summoned two cannons from her arms, priming them at both Yamato and Kaga.
"Here she comes!" Kaga bellowed, preparing herself to launch her arrow.
The corrupted Kanmusu roared as she let loose her shots, and both Yamato and Kaga summoned their barriers, protecting themselves and their Admiral from the incoming shells. In retaliation, Kaga shot her arrow, which transformed into miniature planes while Yamato let loose a volley of shells at the Abyssal.
"I won't forgive you! That's right, I won't!"
"So, you saw them fighting Fallen Angels?" Rias asked as she looked at Koneko, and the white-haired girl nodded.
"Yes. The barrier got in my way, but I saw the battle," Koneko reported. "There were explosions, but in the end, no one died. I believed I saw Issei Hyoudou in the midst of the battle as well, but I couldn't see his role in that battle. When the battle was over, Abe-senpai showed up riding with a Dullahan. I decided to let my familiar continue with the observation."
"I see. Good work," Rias said, smiling at Koneko. "Now… there's no doubt that something serious is going on in my territory, and there's no way I can let it slide." She crossed her arms under her ample bust. "And for the Fallen Angels to suddenly show up and do whatever they like…" She sighed. "This is a delicate matter, considering there's this truce going on. We don't want an all-out war happening here…"
"So, what do you suggest we do, Buchou?" Kiba asked as he poured a cup of tea for Koneko. The white-haired girl sipped the tea and she seemed to be enjoying the taste.
"For the time being, observe the Fallen Angels first," Rias decided. "While the deal about Yamato Hyoudou and Kaga Yamamoto is an important matter, the presence of Fallen Angels in my area is a more pressing matter at the moment. Still, keep up with your observation, Koneko. We still need to figure out about their deal, after all…"
Taking a bite of her snack, Koneko nodded.
After she finished, Rias decided to mull over the new information that she had received from Koneko's report. She had learned about the presence of Fallen Angels here in her territory, and with Kuoh being under her jurisdiction, it was her responsibility to make sure that nothing serious would happen in the future.
"What's on your mind, Buchou?" Kiba asked as he poured Rias a cup of tea.
"Well, I'm worried…" Rias said before she took a sip of her tea. "Many things happened behind our backs, and we can only focus on one thing at a time. Hmm… perhaps I should ask Kiyome about her involvement. She's probably a Beast Tamer, but she's still a human…" She set down her cup on the saucer.
"Abe Clan has a neutral stance about the conflict between the biblical factions, right?" Kiba asked. "So, unless if something changed without us knowing it, we shouldn't worry too much about them for the time being."
Rias sighed as she massaged her temple. "I guess you're right, Yuuto. By the way, have you seen Akeno?" She asked as she looked around the clubhouse to see any sign of the black-haired girl.
"I heard that Himejima-senpai has something important business to do back home," Kiba informed. "Not sure what this business is, though. I thought she told you about it, Buchou."
Rias sighed again. "Sometimes, I don't know what Akeno is thinking about. Well, if it's something important, it's not my place to pry…"
Kiba nodded. "I guess you're right, Buchou."
Right after that, Koneko held out her empty cup.
"More tea, please?" Koneko asked.
A battle raged on at the backyard of Kiyome's house. Unlike Kaga's Abyssal form, this particular Abyssal was leaner and smaller, and she was capable of moving fast, dodging shots from both Yamato and Kaga. Kiyome winced when she saw another crater on the ground, and both Kanmusu gave the Beast Tamer an apologetic glance before continuing the fight.
"Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate all of you!" The Abyssal roared as she shot at both Yamato and Kaga, and the two of them blocked the shots with their barriers.
"Fire!" Yamato shouted as she fired a shell towards the Abyssal, and the shell pierced through her barrier, hitting her at her torso.
"Urghhh!" The Abyssal grunted in pain. But she didn't stop moving as she continued firing at both Kanmusu. "I hate all of you!"
Her glowing red eyes were piercing that Issei reeled back from their sheer intensity. Their plan was for both Yamato and Kaga to incapacitate her so that Issei could reach out to her. But so far, they had yet to take her down, and it was too dangerous for Issei to approach her.
"She's moving too fast…" Yamato said. "My cannons cannot target her properly."
"Perhaps we should get closer and engage her in close quarter combat?" Kaga suggested.
"We still can do that, but we don't know what will happen if we approach her," Yamato argued. "Still, if we have no other choice, then it's the only way to deal with her."
As both Yamato and Kaga continued engaging the Abyssal, Issei remained behind them, watching as they traded shots and blocked each other's attacks. He clenched his fists, silently cursing his uselessness.
"D-damn it… why can't I do anything?" Issei cursed inwardly. "I promised to save them all from darkness, and yet… I… I'm still weak…"
Do you desire Power?
Issei blinked when he heard a voice out of nowhere. "W-wha…? W-who's there?" He shouted, and both Yamato and Kaga glanced over their shoulders to look at him.
"Admiral, what's wrong?" Yamato asked.
But, as their attentions were diverted from her, the Abyssal saw an opportunity to attack one particular target. Grinning madly, she suddenly sprinted towards Issei. Wielding her spear, she went to tackle the boy down onto the ground.
"Aahh!" Issei cried out as he was tackled down onto the ground, and the Abyssal straddled him, one hand holding her spear and the other clamping on his throat.
"I got you now! Die!"
The Abyssal aimed to stab Issei in his face, and he brought his hand in his attempt to block the attack. For a while, his vision turned green, and it felt like everything around him seemed to slow down in speed.
When he opened his eyes, Issei saw the dumbfounded expression on the Abyssal's face as she held onto her broken spear. He swore that the spear hit him at his arm, and somehow, the spear broke upon impact.
"Let go of him!" Yamato yelled as she swung her parasol to the side of the Abyssal's body, sending her flying. She landed a distance away from them, and Kaga continued bombarding her with her miniature planes.
"AARGH! HATE YOU! HATE ALL OF YOU!"
Unable to block any of the attacks, the Abyssal was hit again and again. Then, they stopped, and the Abyssal was lying on the ground, groaning in pain.
"Alright, this is our chance, Admiral…" Yamato informed Issei. "Try to reach out for her. If it fails, then… we have no choice but to scuttle her."
Gulping, Issei got back up onto his feet before he approached her. The Abyssal was on the ground, mumbling hateful words as she struggled to get back up.
"H-hey…" Issei started awkwardly, trying to reach out to her head. The Abyssal had white hair which was covered in soot and burn marks thanks to the bombardments that she took earlier.
"H-hate… w-won't forgive you… never forgive you… n-never…"
Issei just looked at the pitiful state the Abyssal was in. He tried to come up with something, and after thinking for a while, he spoke to her.
"Do you really hate us?"
"…" That question made the Abyssal stop her hateful rant. "…H-hate… b-because it… hurts… never forgive…"
"Hurt?" Issei frowned. Then, he remembered the circumstances of her being sunk during the war. She was scuttled after being bombed. "Was it because of you being scuttled?"
"N-never forgive… hate… tried to save them, b-but… was scuttled instead… it hurts…"
Her words were filled with grief, and Issei gritted his teeth as he saw the vision of a young girl sinking into the sea, her mind filled with hateful words to her allies and the world as she sank into oblivion. Refusing to let her sink even down further, he grabbed onto her hand, clasping them tight with both of his.
"I-it's alright! No one's going to hurt you now!" Issei told her. "Do not let your hatred consume you…" Tightening his hold onto her hand, he continued, "A-and… if you want to keep holding onto that hatred, I… I'm willing to take it! From now on, your grief, your pain, your hatred… you're sharing them with me now. I'm willing to shoulder them for you…"
The Abyssal looked at Issei in stunned silence. Slowly, the red glow in her eyes faded. While her eyes were still red, Issei saw no hatred in them. All that left was relief and comfort.
"Then… please take… responsibility… idiot…"
Her tattered clothes disintegrated, leaving behind her naked body, which also gained normal complexion. Issei couldn't help but look at her figure, which was then enveloped in bright light before dissipating into nothingness.
Knowing that his task was done, Issei got back up onto his feet, and there was the shard right next to his feet. He picked it up and held it in his palm.
"Yeah, I'll take responsibility, Murakumo. No need to worry…" Issei said, holding the shard close to his chest.
Now that the battle was over, both Yamato and Kaga rejoiced, and they approached Issei to make sure that he was not injured. Meanwhile, Kiyome just sighed as she watched her wrecked courtyard, with mini Akagi patting her back, or at least trying to due to her diminutive height (she ended up patting her butt instead).
It took them the rest of the day, but the courtyard was fixed thanks to the effort of everyone. Now that everything was in order, it's about time for them to properly summon Murakumo this time. Two fairies clad in miko getup were summoned, and they did the summoning ritual around the shard.
Everyone watched as the fairies performed the ritual, and soon, there was a bright light before a figure materialized before them.
"Ha…" The figure took her first breath as she adjusted her footing. Before them was a young girl clad in one-piece sailor fuku dress and black tights. There were also a pair of strange devices floating at the upper sides of her head. She was holding a spear in her right hand, and when she saw Issei, she turned around and faced him.
"Special type destroyer, fifth ship Murakumo," the Kanmusu introduced herself, sporting a neutral expression. Then, she put her hand on her hip as she continued studying Issei. "So, you're the commander, huh? You better try your hardest, then."
Bright-eyed, Issei nodded happily and said, "Welcome abroad, Murakumo-chan! Hope we can get along just fine!"
"Hmph…" Murakumo crossed her arms under her modest chest. "Well, you better work hard, commander. From now on, I shall serve you as your ship."
Murakumo seemed to be sporting an indifferent look, but there was a small smile on her face.
"You look so cool, Murakumo-chan!" Issei said, studying the newly-summoned Kanmusu from all angles. "You have small tits, though, but that's alright! I'm sure you'll do just fine here alongside Yamato-chan and Kaga-chan!"
Murakumo's eyebrow twitched.
"Oh my…" Yamato smiled nervously as she placed her hand on her cheek.
"What a perv…" Kaga muttered, crossing her arms under her ample chest.
"Y-you…I-I'll make you eat these oxygen torpedoes!"
Meanwhile, Kiyome and Akagi were watching from sideline. Akagi was eating a croissant as she watched Issei interacting with his new shipgirl, who was chasing after him while holding her spear.
"They get along just fine, right?" Kiyome said, also eating a croissant.
"Yeah, they do…" Akagi nodded.
"Say, Akagi-chan…" Kiyome spoke to the diminutive shipgirl. "Are you sure you're fine with that? I mean, I'm fine with whatever decision you made, but aren't you going to think this through?"
Akagi smiled at Kiyome. "I've made up my mind, neechan. Once I'm back to normal, I'd like to become one of Issei-niichan's Kanmusu."
TO BE CONTINUED
Author's Note: Yo! It's been quite a long time! I believe it has been 3 years since the last time I updated this fic. Sorry for the late update, everyone, but now, I'm back into the game, so please look forward to more of my stuff in near future, everyone.
For the next chapter, Chapter 08: Rias Gremory, please look forward to it. Until then, farewell.
Prince Arjuna (2019)