Chapter Thirteen:

"I have Stalingrad's condition under control."

Enterprise glares at Midway with unconcealed anger.

"You said you had it under control for my sister as well," Enterprise crosses her arms, "Because of you, Midway, Hornet lost her mind."

"Enterprise," sighs Midway, "You promised that you would work with me."

"That was before I saw what happened to Harusame," Enterprise shivers, "and what are you doing with that medal anyway?"

Immediately after Midway had choked the repair ship girl into unconsciousness, she had called for Enterprise to help carry Resource away.

"Stalingrad has a habit of leaving this medal behind when she goes into combat," Midway turns over the medal, "So I laced the medal with suppressant materials and I invite Stalingrad for coffee every once in a while. It is enough to keep Stalingrad's condition dosed and restrained until she needs it."

"How long have you known she had the condition?"

"The members of the Ship Girl Initiative are required to notify the United Nations of ship girl summonings," says Midway, "Since I read her file from Vladivostok, I was suspicious. But I wasn't sure until she ignored orders directly from Moscow to be scrapped."

"You haven't told her about this?" Enterprise looks like she would rather be doing something else, "How much does she know?"

"She does not suspect anything amiss," says Midway, "She believes the story that her scrapping was delayed until appropriate ship breakers were found."

"You were really going to dissect her?" asks Enterprise.

"No need to be angry about that, Enterprise," says Midway, "She would have died either way, just with a different purpose."

Enterprise looks completely disgusted.

"Are we going to operate on her condition then?"

"Yes."

"What is to say she will succeed when the others did not?"

"A hunch of mine," states Midway flatly.

"I'm tired of all this," says Enterprise.

"You would let Stalingrad deteriorate until this condition controls her?" accuses Midway, "If her surgery succeeds, Stalingrad will be the first successfully remodelled ship girl as a result of this programme. If this fails, the worst that could happen is that we speed up the process of Stalingrad's demise."

"Could you at least pretend that you care about Stalingrad's pain?" rebukes Enterprise.

"No," states Midway, "Her life is just a bonus. By all rights she should be only so many pieces of bone, flesh and organs being studied on a vivisection table."

Enterprise kneads her forehead with a shaking hand.

"While she continues to exceed her expected characteristics and statistics, gathering strength that should be impossible for a ship girl of her class," says Midway, "Stalingrad will slowly lose her human resemblance, before losing it altogether."

Enterprise just sits there looking completely devastated.

"I've already lost one sister to this madness," mutters Enterprise.

"Stalingrad will gradually lose all control over her own emotions and memories before she becomes incapable of thinking of anything except committing others to pain and destruction," Midway continues mercilessly, "This may be the only way to save Stalingrad. Are you going to work with me or not, Enterprise?"

"Please calm down, Yamato," Musashi curses the thick smoke pooling around the two battleship girls.

"Yamato cannot remain calm while the others are being attacked!" Yamato desperately fires her weapons, but with all this smoke, she can only fire blindly at the coordinates she has been given.

"Yamato!" shouts Musashi, "We will focus on getting to our positions and keep faith in the escorts."

"Three hits," Hamakaze reports to Amatsukaze. Amatsukaze sees the huge plumes of erupting water that confirms that her torpedo spread found targets.

The battlecruiser turns away from a sinking Arashio and frowns. The two destroyers had snuck this close to her just so they could torpedo her. And just for that …

"Take this," the battlecruiser ship girl fires her 12 inch guns at the destroyers, "Blitzkrieg motherfucker."

When the Germans invaded Russia in both world wars, they had made a point of capturing and even improving Russian equipment. They had developed a 'super-heavy' round that had far larger mass, more than a quarter heavier than the normal 1038 pounds or 470 kg shells, but they had by far the worst range and accuracy of any of Stalingrad's 12 inch arsenal.

Normally this would be considered a barely justifiable waste of valuable 12 inch ammunition, but the damaged Stalingrad was not completely sane at this moment.

The heavy cruiser ship girl Suzuya, watches the destroyers get almost obliterated from existence. She looks to Aoba.

"You want to go first?" suggests Suzuya. Aoba looks like she would rather have been asked to taste test Hiei's cooking.

Stalingrad looks over to the heavy cruisers.

She remembers a saying that a battlecruiser was a cruiser to a battleship, but was a battleship to a cruiser.

Suzuya and Aoba lay down a barrage of 8 inch shells. Stalingrad's armour is too thick and the shells are unable to withstand the shock of punching through so much armour and detonate prematurely, dealing superficial damage.

Stalingrad patiently waits for her main guns to reload normal high explosive rounds.

"Let my shells explore your insides."

The heavy shells, the faithful 12 inch shells that had served the Russian empire and the Soviet Union on all of their 20th century battleships, slams through the armour of the heavy cruisers.

Suzuya barely escapes destruction. Aoba's ship rigging simply explodes and Aoba sinks into the water.

"Oh," Aoba swims around in the water, picking up her surviving crew.

Suzuya tries to keep her balance as her equipment belches smoke and oil.

Stalingrad would have finished her off, but Kongou's 14 inch shells kindly acquainted themselves with her face.

"Kongou will avenge her sisters!" the battleship determinedly levels her gun barrels at the battlecruiser. Fury radiates from Kongou.

"Oh it's you," the battlecruiser had the nerve to sound disappointed!

"Yes," declares Kongou, "It is I, the lead ship of the Kongou-class, the proud - "

"Is it true your commanding officer only has a 12.7 mm for his main cannon?"

Kongou's thoughts stumble to a screeching halt.

"What?" demands Kongou.

"I heard," says Stalingrad, "that you have a thing for admirals. But really? Only a 12.7 mm? Most Japanese men have at least the 25 mm autocannon …"

"NoOoOoOoOoO!" wails Kongou, falling to her knees.

But Stalingrad is far from done.

"I also heard," goads Stalingrad, "That the submarine ship girls like to prank you and replaced the tea with - "

"No," Kongou pleads.

"- the alcohol Jun'you made for Ashigara's date."

Kongou slumps to the surface of the water. Moderate damage.

"I suppose with all the aphrodisiacs that is in the alcohol," continues the sadistic battlecruiser, "You must have fun times with your admiral's auxiliary machine gun. But does he even like you?"

Kongou's fairies panic as they realise that Kongou's ship equipment is non-responsive. The ship girl is looking a little low in the water there.

"I mean," Stalingrad smiles, "It doesn't really matter if the man's calibre is a little small for a (night) battle-ship girl. I suppose you could have a happy marriage."

Kongou's fairy captain slaps the (unresponsive) distress beacon and the crew flee the Kongou before she keels over.

"But would he take the vow? Would he promise to float with you for eternity? Through daijoubu times and not daijoubu times, through taiha and health? No?"

Critical damage.

Earlier.

The Adelaide military naval installation is as peaceful as a frontline military base can be in wartime. So not somewhere you would see yourself enjoying a picnic.

Renown and Hood had visited Australia on multiple occasions, back when they were ships and presently as well. But those had been different times.

It seems like everyone on base has tasks they needed to do, and probably urgently needed to do them long ago. The staff responsible for base security seem to be exuding tension out of every pore. The two British Kanmusu have seen the weapon hands twitching nervously every time an aircraft passes by or a protestor steps close to the edge of the base waving a banner.

"Geez," Renown watches an M1 Abrams main battle tank meticulously park itself in front of the gates and crowds, "It wasn't like this when I last came here."

Hood is watching Pennsylvania and Commander Cooke walking around and checking to see how the newly arrived Kanmusu are settling in.

"You guys okay?" asks Pennsylvania.

"Quite so," responds Renown, "I would check on Enterprise. She doesn't seem okay."

"Well," says Hood, "Yorktown isn't here. Someone has to be there for her."

"I'll go find her," says Cooke.

Cooke finds the carrier ship girl with Midway, hanging around ammunition storage warehouses.

To be honest, Cooke does not feel fully qualified to be in command of these legendary and mythical ship girls. He was, and technically still is, a junior officer. Not too long ago, he would never have dreamed of it. A few weeks ago, he would never have dreamed that the people with a higher paygrade then him could have just surrendered to the Abyssals, either.

So he leaves the two ship girls to do whatever they had to do. He would have offered to carry the large body-sized bag for them, but they were stronger than him, so …

Currently.

Vice Admiral Oshiro can definitely see problems with deploying ship girls against each other.

"Kirishima, what happened to Kongou? Why is she not shooting?"

"Kongou-nee just collapsed!" cries the distressed battleship girl, "The enemy taunted onee-sama and she's not responding!"

"Just hold the battlecruiser's attention until Yamato and Musashi arrive," orders Oshiro, "Then withdraw and come back for the survivors later."

"R-Roger!" comes the shaky response.

Vice Admiral Oshiro has faith in Kirishima's skill as a battleship. She was built for this engagement. A nice conversation between battleship guns.

"Sir," the bridge crew of the Hyuga are looking increasingly unsettled, "Kirishima is disabled and taking on water!"

...

Earlier.

"So," Resource fiddles with the cast around her neck, "You attacked me, dragged my senseless body to this cleaner's cupboard, and then expect me to believe that this secret and shady 'Kai programme' within the Ship Girl Initiative conforms to my best interests?"

"Not in so many words,' says Midway drily, "But yes."

Resource throws her hands up in disbelief.

"I don't believe this. You're one of the few people Stalingrad trusts to guard her back. Turns out that you are just crazy."

"I don't care," says Midway, "Just up and deal and get to accepting it. We need to discuss what you do afterwards."

"It's obvious what I need to do," Resource looks completely pissed off, "I need to tell Stalingrad."

"No," says Midway vehemently, "Out of the question."

"Are you actually serious?"

"I have reason to believe that would worsen Stalingrad's conditions. Have you noticed just how much negative emotions and memories she possesses? And even if she is amongst her own people and friends, she is ideologically isolated from them."

"What has that - "

"Shut up, Pom Pom, and listen. Stalingrad is surrounded by people who are fundamentally different from her. She is surrounded by Imperial Japanese and Western Kanmusu."

"But she has friends - "

"I don't recall finishing. Do you remember that incident with Sazanami?"

"Huh?" Resource knows that Stalingrad actively avoids the destroyer, but she has no clue as to what transpired between them.

"Stalingrad was trying to argue her side about why the Second World War should not be held up as justification by leaders to get their people to fight in the wars that occurred afterwards. Sazanami straight up called Stalingrad a liar and sociopath. She said that the Soviets had betrayed the Imperial Japanese and given them false hope towards the end of the war, and that it was impossible for a Soviet to see the righteousness and honour in combat."

"Oh."

"Sazanami then went on to rip apart the errors and decisions the Soviets made. She called the Soviet regime inhumane and said that the Soviet people were nothing but machines cleaned inside the brains by their politicians and that the Soviet soldiers only fought so hard because they did not want to die in the failure that was the Soviet industry, agriculture and economy. The soviet military were just children playing war."

Resource makes a mental note to track down Sazanami later.

"Sazanami believes the Soviets betrayed the neutrality pact between the Soviet Union and the Japanese Empire because they were surrendering to the demands of the Western allies. The Soviets made a promise to the Allies and betrayed the Japanese people because they were intimidated by America and Britain. Sazanami said that the Soviets were cowards and would do anything to please the American and British, and made the choice to kill Asian people instead because the Soviets considered them sub-human. A Soviet like Stalingrad could not be trusted."

"Did she have anything else to say?" asks Resource. She is struggling to believe the destroyer could do anything more to damage Stalingrad's feelings and beliefs.

"Murakumo took Sazanami aside and scolded her, but since then, Stalingrad has become … disinterested in making friends. This is only one of the more extreme examples. Although there is some respect for Stalingrad, this is one of the only times the Japanese Kanmusu have been on extended exposure to a Russian Kanmusu.

She has almost come to blows with Akashi on several occasions, and Stalingrad finds that with the exception of Kiyoshimo and Murakumo, neither the Australian or Japanese people remember the Soviet Union positively. They don't care for the sacrifices that the Soviets made. Stalingrad has come to a world that does not and is unlikely to remember her people or her leaders as a force of good. This world, has conveniently forgotten the courage and heroism displayed by the Soviets. Do you not think Stalingrad will feel a little bit bitter, or angry about this?"

Resource gulps.

Resource thought it had only been Stalingrad with the problem about racial discrimination.

"If you tell Stalingrad about her condition, you will only encourage her suicidal tendencies further. You will only confirm what the detractors say about her people. That is the most sure-fire way that will get Stalingrad to end it all. If it comes to it, I believe I can get Stalingrad to terminate herself rather than destroy the world. "

"Okay," Resource says slowly, "I'm not going to tell her. What else can we do?"

Resource is going to have to listen to Midway if she wants to help her friend.

"We can attempt to restore her faith in us," announces Midway, "But that would be very difficult."

"Do we have any other solutions?"

"Yes," says Midway as she paces up and down the small room, "We appeal to her Soviet sense of duty."

"How?"

Midway turns to the repair ship girl.

"In Severomorsk, the Alliance is building a huge and ambitious manufactory complex using the collective labour and funds of the occupied nations. This manufactory project will solve the supply issues the Alliance military have and will make their position in this war unassailable. They will be able to turn raw material gathered from around the world into bauxite, steel, ammunition, weapons, electronics, equipment on a scale that has never been witnessed before by the Ship Girl Initiative. It will also allow them access to the largest nuclear miniaturisation plant in history."

Some Kanmusu resource and components were incredibly difficult or risky to miniaturise. If you accidently failed somewhere in the process that turns steel into compact Kanmusu-useable material, you would end up with a strange-looking hunk of metal. But if you failed somewhere in the process that turns uranium into useable nuclear fuel, then you would have a disaster.

"Severomorsk is home to the Russian Northern Fleet and is within reaching distance of the Western and Eastern fleets as well. Not to mention the Abyssal bases in the Arctic. Getting there will be difficult, but I don't want to see the Abyssals bringing back every warship in history to their side."

"What can we do?" Resource feels despondent about the odds against them.

"We are going to blow it up," declares Midway.

"How?"

"I am going to get Stalingrad to attack the Alliance head-on. If she succeeds, we might be able to salvage her with this "remodelling" process I talked to you about. And it won't matter anymore if she fails."

"I don't see how Stalingrad can succeed," admits Resource, "It seems impossible."

"Everything Stalingrad has achieved to this point should have been impossible," points out Midway, "I can only hope she has enough time."

"Kirishima won't let you get away with this!"

Kirshima fires her weapons at the battlecruiser.

Stalingrad doesn't even bother evading the accurate shots. She simply steams towards Kirishima.

14 and 6 inch shells rake the length of the battlecruiser. The communications and fire control systems on the battlecruiser are kncocked out. But the battlecruiser shrugs off the damage.

Kirishima keeps firing, but the battlecruiser keeps coming.

Dread fills Kirishima.

"No," the battleship girl puts her propellers in reverse, "Don't come any closer!"

Stalingrad's reply is to send nine primary and seven secondary battery shells into Kirishima at point-blank range, destroying her bow 14-inch turrets and jamming her rear 14-inch turrets. Kirishima's steering is mangled, her superstructure afire, and the battleship lists to starboard.

Before Kirishima passes out, she sees the burnt and torn Soviet naval pennant. Alongside it appears to be a hastily repaired fabric that messily displays the flag of the United States.

"Yamato, Musashi, destroy that battlecruiser."

"Yes, Admiral." Yamato looks upon the battlefield with no small amount of apprehension.

It was a rare sight to see a Yamato-class battleship being deployed into combat. It was practically unheard of for two Yamato-class ship girls being deployed to the same battle.

Musashi tries to bolster her sister's spirits.

"Be confident in us, Yamato."

"I'm not scared, Musashi," says Yamato, but she's crying.

"Yamato …"

"I will not let the enemy do whatever it wants with our pride and our people," Yamato's tears are hot tears of rage, "I, Yamato, will not show the enemy any mercy."

Musashi has rarely seen her gentle elder sister like this before. The few times she has seen Yamato like this, the battle always ended in victory.

"Then let's get serious," growls Musashi, "Ripple fire. Execute order upon receipt."

"All batteries commence firing," commands Yamato.

Stalingrad's mixed crew are losing the struggle to keep the ship girl in the fight.

The battlecruiser crew is beyond spent. Stalingrad's captain watches a damage control fairy simply collapse from fatigue. The political officer shoves smelling salts in front of the sleeping fairy and kicks her until the sailor groggily stands back up.

The battlecruiser has definitely seen better days. Actually, to be honest, this level of damage should never be a regular occurrence for a warship, but it is for Stalingrad.

Iowa's captain screams for the anti-aircraft gunners to tighten up their shooting. The American admirals confirm the battleships' salvos are dead accurate and will intercept their course.

At that crucial moment, the battlecruiser stalls. The propellers shudder to a stop and the electronics go dark.

The crew frantically try to figure out what is happening.

It's too late to take evasive manoeuvres. Stalingrad's gunners grimly target the jet fighters rocketing towards the ship girl, but without the targeting software, the anti-aircraft guns are ineffective.

Stalingrad's armour crumples before the anti-ship missiles, bombs and torpedoes.

Moments later, the Yamato-class battleship shells impact.

Stalingrad can only stand there, unable to control her rigging as her crew try to beat back the flames and flooding. A repair party climbs up to Stalingrad's shoulder and puts out the fires on Stalingrad herself.

"Thanks."

Hm? Someone is trying to contact Stalingrad.

Stalingrad places her hand over her ear.

Iowa's captain coughs into the communication phone that they need to retreat.

"Too late for that." Stalingrad closes her eyes.

She sees the fairies scrambling around, trying to save her. She sees them running around, trying to salvage the melting and crumbling ship equipment.

Stalingrad reaches up behind her shoulders and pulls out two motor boats.

"Here."

Some of the sailors look up at the battlecruiser ship girl. Most of the crew are too busy tending to the damage.

"Abandon ship."

That statement gets all of the fairies to stop and stare at the ship girl.

For the American fairies, the pause lasts until the American officers yell at their sailors to get moving.

As for the Soviet crew …

They continue to stare at the ship girl.

"Please," begs the ship girl, "Go. Follow the others."

The Soviet captain shakes her head vigorously. You want us to retreat? How about no?

Stalingrad loses her temper.

"I said get off this ship! I thought I told you to follow the Americans. Go on. Go!"

The captain looks at the rest of the crew. Tired, resigned faces meet her gaze.

Abandon ship.

And that is what they did.

Or what they would have done.

A door leading into the ship rigging hull is thrown open and an unfamiliar fairy steps through it.

The fairy yawns a bit and rubs her eyes. Then she looks around at the carnage around her and realises that this is not the appropriate time for alcohol. She tosses her drink bottles overboard.

The American sailors are uncertain who this newcomer is, but they notice that every single Soviet fairy is saluting.

Enterprise's admiral fairy demands the newcomer to identify herself.

At this, the newcomer scratches her head. The last thing she remembers was being in charge of the entire Soviet Navy.

The Soviet Grand Admiral fairy looks over to the Soviet captain. What is happening to my ship?

The Soviet steward explains that they are abandoning the ship.

The Soviet Admiral fairy asks why they would abandon ship.

Iowa's captain fairy says that the fight is lost and that they need to -

The Soviet Admiral responds by taking off a shoe and shoving it into the fairy's mouth. Why would the fight be over? It was only when things took a turn for the worse that the fight began.

Then the Soviet Admiral fairy leaves the fairy with a shoe in her mouth, and looks over the groups of American fairies.

She did not realise the Soviet Union changed their uniforms.

The Soviet captain fairy explains that the sailors are American and that they are helping them fight.

That would explain all the electronics. The Soviet Admiral fairy takes out a bladeless fan she has been using, and tosses it overboard as well.

Then she turns to back to the crews and orders them back into the fight.

At this, Enterprise's Admiral protests.

The Soviet Admiral fairy listens to the American fairy. We had standing orders to transfer rank authority to the Americans. Who gave that order?

By way of clarification, Enterprise's admiral fairy points to the Stalingrad's face. For the Soviet Admiral Fairy, head-scratching intensifies. When did my ship become a woman? Wait a moment. I don't remember myself being a woman before. Was my body always this disproportionate?

The engineering chief accidentally drops a spanner, and the Soviet Admiral fairy halts her identity crisis.

She looks at the ship girl. Where was the enemy?

Stalingrad is so confused, she can only answer the question

Enterprise's Admiral again speaks up, but the Soviet fairy points to rank insignia she's wearing which shows a globe and a star. The standing orders apply to officers of the same rank. Grand Admiral was a substantial step up the chain from Admiral.

That momentarily silences the crews until the Soviet Admiral fairy orders a collision course.

The Kanmusu gathered in the briefing room look on with growing concern and shock as Captain Alanta delivers the news.

Stalingrad had beaten a large portion of the entire Kanmusu fleet of the enemy, but the last report she sent indicates that she was evacuating her crew and dead in the water.

To most of those assembled, Stalingrad would not live much longer.

Resource glances over to Midway. Midway winks at her.

What was she mouthing to her?

Are you ready for some serious repair work?"

Resource wearily nods back to Midway. When she turns her attention back to Captain Alanta, she notices Iowa and Renown giving them a curious look.

Resource tries to keep her face deadpan.

The Grand Admiral fairy examines the broken and malfunctioning electronics across the ship.

There was no time, she declares, repair the engines and essential systems. They are all we will need.

The fairies hesitate before they rush to obey.

Stalingrad can feel her legs burning with pain as the technicians bring the propulsion back online.

Stalingrad's ruined weapons lay in pieces or metallic puddles. The Grand Admiral strokes the beard she no longer has and enigmatically commands the crews to move all the ammunition and reserve fuel to the starboard (right) sections.

Then she turns to the Soviet political officer. The officer looks understandably nervous with so much Americanism plastered over the ship, even the flag itself. The Grand Admiral just shrugs. Then she orders the political officer fairy to gather the naval infantry and marines.

How many? Asks the political officer.

All of them. Get the officers as well. That includes you and me.

The political officer quickly recovers from her initial surprise. Then she gestures in the direction of the ship's barracks and armoury.

Right this way.

"Take this!" a roaring staccato of shellfire punctuates Musashi's intentions.

The ship girl gliding towards them barely resembled a human any more. The shells punch through the battlecruiser's armour, the hardened casing of the armour-piercing rounds absorbed the shock of several inches of armour, before detonating.

Stalingrad loses her left eye and her ship rigging flexes.

The battlecruiser passes parallel to Musashi, in the opposite direction though. If her turrets hadn't been disabled, Musashi would have believed the battlecruiser would be readying a broadside salvo.

But she turns into Musashi, presenting the starboard section of her rigging to Musashi.

Stalingrad is so close to Musashi, that she is able to outrun the rate the Musashi is turning her main battery turrets.

But she cannot dodge forever, and it is with the satisfaction of finality that Musashi locks her guns onto Stalingrad.

"This is the end." Only a few more seconds, and she would be ready to fire.

But Stalingrad has no intention of running. She turns closer to the battleship.

Then Musashi realised the battlecruiser was going to crash into her.

Stalingrad ran into Musashi at a agonisingly slow (for a sadistic battlecruiser) 20 knots.

One might say it was like watching a car crash in slow motion. Except the cars in this case would weigh in the tens of thousands of tons.

"Musashi," shouts Yamato, "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Musashi tries to disentangle herself from the battlecruiser ship girl, "Get off me."

The ammunition and fuel in Stalingrad's starboard sections explodes.

The blast blew each ship girl away from each other several dozen metres. Musashi was momentarily dazed. She was brought back to her senses by Yamato screaming at Musashi to watch out.

The accursed battlecruiser had taken hold of Musashi. Soviet and American fairies launched themselves at the battleship.

Since the loss of Hiei and Haruna to boarding actions, the Japanese Kanmusu had made it a priority to train and arm their crews for counter-boarding, in the off-chance they would be boarded.

The Japanese fairies rush eagerly to the defense of the battleship, and draw up short when it dawns on them how much heat their counterparts are packing.

An American marine sergeant fairy rips the pins of half a dozen stun grenades and tosses them at the Japanese fairies. In the wake of the detonations that leave scores of Japanese fairies incapacitated, the American marines charge.

The Japanese fairies reach for swords and bayonets.

The Soviets charge into the fray with their naval infantry. The captain of the Guards, the elite of the naval infantry, leads the Soviet contingent, wielding a miniature machine gun in one hand, and an automatic grenade launcher in the other hand.

Disorientated by the ferocity of the American charge, followed up with Soviet insanity, the Japanese fairies give ground initially in small groups, then larger groups, before the retreat became a rout.

This could not be happening.

"Musashi!" Yamato urgently circles around until she has a clear shot of the battlecruiser.

Yamato's shellfire disrupts the pitched and confused hand-to-hand battle.

At this range, the 18 inch shells can do whatever they please, regardless of Stalingrad's armour.

The explosions are accompanied by a liberal spread of Stalingrad's innards. Musashi is also knocked around by the detonations at this short proximity to her.

Yamato watches as the battlecruiser doubles over, clutching the holes in her chest. Blood streams from her mouth and jagged bone poke out of Stalingrad's skin.

The explosions toss the fairy sailors about like ragdolls. The poor fairies are shaken up worse than marbles in a tumble-dryer, and are rendered unconscious.

Yamato clutches her parasol tightly, gazing down on her fallen foe.

"Someone get me a visual on our friendlies," Patterson directs the Australian intelligence staff that were fanatical or stupid enough to stay behind in the besieged city of Perth.

"Our last UAV will need repairs," mutters a technician, "Time to effect repairs, one and a half hours at best."

"That is not good enough," says Patterson, "Voyager, get your girls and scout the area."

"We hear you, and we'll be much obliged."

"Give them back."

Yamato frowns as the battlecruiser straightens back up.

"Give our homes back," the battlecruiser staggers towards Yamato, "Give our people back. Where are you hiding them? Where did you bury them? Did you eat them? Did you burn them?"

"Y-Y-Yamato does not know what you are talking about." Yamato's grip on her parasol tightens.

"You lie," the battlecruiser's hands tug at Yamato, "But what can you expect."

"W-What do y-y-you want?" stutters Yamato

"Little Japanese ship," the battlecruiser embraces Yamato, "You had the warm blanket of the ocean to comfort your rest. But there was no rest for us."

"Please unhand Yamato!" Yamato cannot dislodge the crushing grip of the battlecruiser.

"We cannot rest with broken dreams and promises. Why did you forget? Why did you forget? Why did you forget us?"

"I don't know!" stammers Yamato.

"Tell us why it hurts," the battlecruiser smiles, "To be betrayed."

"Who betrayed you?" asks Yamato.

The battlecruiser looks surprised by this question. She leans into Yamato until her terrifying face was right up to Yamato's petrified face.

"You of course. War is pain. War is suffering. They promised us rewards for our bravery. But we must have not been courageous enough. We must have just been angry," the battlecruiser scowls, "Anger is just people acting on their worst emotions. Fear. Paranoia. Hate. Everyone gets courage and anger all wrong. When did you last see us? Because we will show you what war really is."

Yamato has difficulty breathing.

"We will visit beautiful retribution on your people," the battlecruiser smiles, "We will force parents to eat children, brother to rape sister, cousin to maim cousin, until the land only grows the fruits of war. It will be terrible, as beautiful as war can be. We will show this."

"I," gasps Yamato, "am sorry that you did not get your rest. Please forgive us."

The battlecruiser's smile disappears.

"How can we forgive you? Where was the peace we were promised? We were supposed to have learnt something. Why do you keep fighting? Why do people see fighting as a privilege? Do they believe they can achieve peace for us when they expose good people to death? Why? Why? Why do you keep fighting? WHY? Let us show you many things. So many things that we must teach again."

"No," wheezes Yamato.

"We will carve your beloved rising sun into Japan if you want. We will paint your home with the blood of your children until it is the same colour of your lusts. When we are done, we will shatter everything your people have accomplished, until you can only see your passions for war with your very own eyes!"

"No!" shouts Yamato, "Stop this right now! Please."

The battlecruiser's one good eye gleams a maddeningly bright azure blue.

"Why?" the battlecruiser loosens her grip and Yamato gratefully gulps in air.

"Why?" repeats the battlecruiser.

"Because," says Yamato between breaths, "you will not be satisfied."

The battlecruiser looks stunned.

"We will avenge you, we will remember you," says Yamato, "So please. We will give you the rest you deserve."

The battlecruiser ponders this for a while. Then she looks into Yamato's eyes for any trace of deceit. Then she nods.

"You're no fun," she drops Yamato, "It is him that needs to be shown."

Yamato is so grateful for being released that she doesn't fully comprehend what the battlecruiser said for a full minute.

"Oh no." Yamato places her hand over her ear.

"What happened there, Yamato?" asks Vice Admiral Oshiro. "Why did - "

"You need to get out of here!" interrupts Yamato, "She is coming for you."

"Pardon me?"

"Get away from the battlecruiser!"