DISCLAIMER: I do not own KanColle. Nor, sadly, do I own Kongo...I'm just using these characters temporarily. Most characters belong to KanColle, but there are a few that I created. The list in this fanfic comes from CV12Hornet's oneshot collection "Things Involving Shipgirls That Are No Longer Allowed". I just took some of the crazier ones and tied them all together.
NOTE: Translations of certain phrases are at the bottom of the chapter.
Chapter One - The Offer (Order)
For RADM Wallace Denhurst, Commander United States Naval Forces Japan, the call came as a surprise, and one that he had no idea how to deal with.
"Let me get this straight, Admiral Fuchida," he addressed the Chief-of-Staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). "You want me to give you one of the few officers I have as a sort of 'permanent loan', to take command of a program that none of your officers want any part of?"
There was an embarrassed silence on the other end before Denhurst heard, "That is correct."
"Admiral," Denhurst began, but was stopped by Fuchida continuing with, "I just finished speaking with your Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Martin. He asked me to tell you he would leave the final decision of what officer to send up to you. I will be there shortly to meet the officer."
Denhurst pouted briefly, wondering why Washington couldn't have given him the courtesy of a direct phone call, but then he remembered that American reception between U.S. Naval Forces Japan and the bases on the West Coast were bad enough with all the Abyssal interference...a direct call to Yokosuka from Washington, D.C. would've been a logistical nightmare to coordinate. Small wonder Martin had asked his Japanese counterpart to pass on the message.
"So I can pretty much give you any officer I want, eh? Even the greenest Ensign I've got?" The comment was underscored with the fact that there was no love lost between the two flag officers.
"I would hope, Admiral, that you saw fit to allow the officer you chose to be at least somewhat experienced." the Japanese officer's tone now had a slight frost to it.
Denhurst sighed and looked out of his office door at the HQ bullpen. Damn shame I can't give him an enlisted person instead, he thought to himself as his eyes landed on Yeoman 2nd Class Jenni Cavanaugh. That girl can't make a decent cup of coffee to save her life, and I'm stuck with her for the next three years.
As he looked around, he heard the faint 'ding' of the elevator, and when it opened to discharge a passenger, a wide grin split Denhurst's face. All his problems had just been solved.
"Late...don't ask!" Lieutenant Commander Matthew Avers barked to a Petty Officer as he made a beeline for his office. Avers was the best weapons officer in Denhurst's command - his War College presentation on a hypothetical Leyte Gulf scenario between Kurita's Center Force and Halsey's battleships was nothing short of brilliant - but he was also an introverted loner who shunned social interaction outside of work like it was a strain of anthrax. These shining traits didn't stop him from being deep-selected for O-4 after only four years as an O-3 (normal time was six years), and scuttlebutt said that he was already being eyed for deep-selection for O-5 as well. In Denhurst's opinion, Matt Avers was not high-ranking officer material, and any chance to see him gone was a chance that had to be taken.
Denhurst smiled as he turned his attention back to his phone conversation.
"Admiral, I have just the officer in mind."
Matt Avers placed his laptop case on his desk and sat down in his desk chair, a pleased expression on his face. Denhurst, Two-Star Peckerwood Extraordinaire, had apparently been on the phone when Avers had rushed in, and thus missed his Weapons Officer's late arrival. A commotion in the bullpen caught his eye as he booted up his laptop, and Avers looked up to see a retinue of JMSDF officers making their way to Denhurst's inner sanctum.
Better you than me, he thought, but further thought was interrupted by the phone on his desk ringing.
"Bubba J's Chow House...you kill it, we grill it," he answered in a Southern accent.
"Sir, the Admiral would like to see you in his office," YN2 Cavanaugh's voice replied, although Avers could tell she was trying to suppress a giggle at his greeting.
Avers mentally swore a blue streak; his late arrival had not gone unnoticed after all.
"On my way, Yeoman."
He hung up the phone as he rose from his seat and headed for the door. As he stepped out into the bullpen he was nearly run down by one of the junior Logistics officers, Lieutenant Junior Grade Eddie Blaskewicz, who stepped aside to avoid the collision and inadvertently knocked over the nearby water cooler. The nearly-full five-gallon jug of water attached to the cooler proceeded to come loose and pour the majority of its contents right down the back of the large expensive copier behind it, which - needless to say - did not react well.
"Aw, jeez...I'm sorry!" Blaskewicz attempted to apologize as a Seaman ran for a mop and a Yeoman 3rd Class got on the phone to the IT division for a copier repair detail.
Avers sighed as he headed for Denhurst's office. Blaskewicz was a Logistics wizard, seemingly able to procure supplies even when there were none to be found, but he was also the most accident-prone person Avers had ever met.
"Commander," Denhurst greeted Avers as he entered, "what was all the commotion out in the bullpen just now?"
"Long story short, sir: Lieutenant Blaskewicz, the water cooler, and the copier," Avers replied, and Denhurst did a facepalm, muttering a few choice words under his breath as he did so before turning to his visitors.
"Gentlemen," he spoke in English, "allow me to present the officer I told you about: Lieutenant Commander Matthew Avers."
Fuchida nodded and extended his hand to Avers. Avers, however, responded by bowing low from the waist in respect to Fuchida's rank.
"Yoi tsuitachi, Teitoku," (1) he greeted, keeping his eyes averted.
Denhurst barely avoided cringing. The last thing he needed was Avers offending a group of senior Japanese officers with his sarcasm and anti-social tendencies. However, he saw that the junior officer's action and his flawless Japanese had deeply impressed the JMSDF group.
"Soshite, anata ni yoi tsuitachi dakedenaku, shōsa," (2) Fuchida replied, before switching to English. "Please, sit down."
Denhurst took a seat behind his desk. "Let me tell you why I've called you here, Commander." He was going to enjoy this very much.
Ten minutes later, Avers stared at Denhurst like the admiral had a screw loose.
"Lemme get this straight, sir: you want to transfer me to the JMSDF, where I'll take charge of a bunch of girls who possess spirits of long-gone warships?"
"That's right, Commander," Denhurst grinned, thoroughly enjoying Avers' discomfort. It was about time this upstart got what was coming to him. Nevertheless, he thought he'd best grease the wheels a bit, and so appealed to Avers' ego in an effort to get him out the door faster. "The JMSDF wants the best officer I have, and so naturally I thought of you."
His efforts failed to have the desired result; Avers' expression practically screamed 'I call bullshit'.
"Sir," Avers began, "No offense meant to anyone in this room, but the absolute LAST thing I am is a babysitter!"
Denhurst's expression hardened. This was not going how he'd hoped. "Commander, are you refusing to follow orders?"
Avers mentally paused upon catching the gleam in Denhurst's eye. He knew for a fact the admiral didn't care for him much and would probably eagerly throw the book at him for even the slightest infraction. Charging me with disobeying orders would probably give Ol' Stars-Upon-Thars a hard-on, he thought darkly. Denhurst had him backed into a corner and he knew it. Guess my days in the U.S. Navy are over...it was fun while it lasted.
"No, sir," he replied.
"Excellent!" Denhurst was practically beaming. "Admiral Fuchida, he's all yours."
The JMSDF Chief-of-Staff had observed Denhurst's interaction with the Lieutenant Commander and had noticed the senior officer's dislike for Avers immediately. However, his impression of Avers was of a young man who liked putting his own spin on the way the Navy did things, and did not suffer fools lightly. And it was plain to see he considered Wallace Denhurst a fool...although he was wise enough not to voice this opinion aloud.
Avers' Transfer of Service was completed fairly quickly, and the newly-minted JMSDF officer followed Denhurst and the Japanese contingent out into the bullpen.
"Admiral on deck!" YN2 Cavanaugh called out, causing all activity to stop.
"At ease, people...I have an announcement to make. Copier repair people, carry on," Denhurst began before turning and indicating Avers. "Today is LCDR Avers' last day with us." Denhurst all but smirked as he continued. "As of tomorrow, he will begin full-time service with the JMSDF as head of one of their projects. Lieutenant Blaskewicz!" Denhurst addressed the junior officer, who had walked into the bullpen with his head buried in a file and was therefore oblivious to his surroundings.
At the sound of his CO's voice Blaskewicz jerked his head up, causing him to stumble over a Chief Petty Officer on the copier repair detail. The Chief, knocked off-balance, brushed his hand against what appeared to Avers to be some sort of circuit board on the copier's interior. Whatever it was, the contact caused an impressive arcing of electricity and the CPO to jerk his hand back while shouting an equally-impressive display of swear words.
As the Chief was escorted to the infirmary and Blaskewicz apologized profusely for the accident, Denhurst turned to Avers with a malicious grin.
"I think I just found the first member of your staff, Commander."
Avers' face betrayed no emotion as he thanked his former CO for the extra manpower. He didn't mind having Blaskewicz on his staff; the two of them had always gotten along. Blaskewicz was called over and quietly informed of his new assignment, and Avers watched as he stammered his way through greeting the JMSDF officials. The quality of the Lieutenant's Japanese was enough to make Avers almost cringe, but he could tell Fuchida and the other JMSDF officers appreciated the Lieutenant's efforts to greet them in their native tongue.
Two hours later, Avers and Blaskewicz were carrying the last of their personal effects out to a taxi that was stopped in front of HQ.
"All right there, Lieutenant?" Avers asked his new Logistics Officer.
"I guess so, sir," Blaskewicz responded. "I dunno how good I'm gonna do at this job, though. With all due respect, sir, I can't speak a lick of Japanese. You saw my attempt at greeting Admiral Fuchida and his staff, and now I'm gonna serve in the JMSDF? Somethin's kinda screwy about that logic, if you ask me."
As the two officers emerged from the building, Avers encouraged his subordinate.
"You'll do fine...take some Japanese language classes or just learn as you go. And I'll help you when I can; besides, we're probably going to be the only American officers there, so we'll need to stick together."
"Didn't RADM Denhurst allow you to pick a few more people, sir?" Blaskewicz looked perplexed.
Avers was about to reply when an approaching commotion caught his attention.
"Hey! Get your hands offa me!" An irate Operations Specialist 1st Class was being led towards HQ in handcuffs by two Military Policemen. As they approached Avers, the senior-ranking MP snapped off a salute. Avers returned the salute and then motioned for the trio to pause a moment.
"OS1 Mancini," Avers greeted the fuming NCO, "I see they found you again. How long did it take them this time?"
"Three days, sir," Mancini grinned. "Woulda been longer had it not been for me goin' in that McDonald's for lunch. Damn McNuggets," he muttered under his breath. "How's it going, Lieutenant?" he greeted Blaskewicz, who smiled amiably and nodded in response.
Avers stifled laughter as he considered the base's resident 'escape artist'. OS1 Louis 'Gino' Mancini was an excellent training NCO, but sometimes he got a hair crosswise and decided to wander off on his own to either see the sights or blow off steam, with or without proper authorization. Whenever the MPs found him and brought him back, he was never violent physically, but he certainly let those bringing him in know verbally that he was Not Happy. After a week or so in the brig each time, Mancini would return to duty and then about two weeks later the whole process would start all over again. However, with the Abyssals controlling the seas and skies over the Pacific, there was no way to ship Mancini back to the States, so the Denhurst and the JAG Corps personnel stationed in Japan had to be content with the brief periods of brig time. If he were honest with himself, Avers had no idea how Mancini had managed to remain an E-6, and with his record, the chances of him ever making Chief were slim to none.
It was then that Avers got an idea, but didn't want to reveal his cards too soon. "Well, good luck in the fight that's coming," he encouraged the Petty Officer as he stepped aside so the MPs could proceed. "They're transferring us, so we won't be around to hear how it turns out."
"Thanks, Commander," Mancini replied as the MPs led him away. "I'll see ya, Lieutenant."
Blaskewicz waved as the enlisted trio moved on, but his eyes were already back on Avers, whose expression told him he was thinking hard about something.
"Something on your mind, sir?" he asked.
Avers nodded. "I've got an idea, but I'm going to run it by a few people first," he replied. "If it pans out, we just might have found a trainer for the shipgirls."
The following morning, Avers walked into his old duty post, still slightly in shock at what had already transpired that day. Upon arrival at JMSDF Headquarters, Fuchida had welcomed him and Blaskewicz warmly, before informing Avers that - in conjunction with his new post - he was officially promoted to full Admiral. The newly-minted Admiral had requested that his new post be formally known as Rengō Kanmusutai (Combined Shipgirl Fleet), as an homage to the ships whose spirits they possessed. Another request - which Fuchida heartily approved - was that all human personnel attached to his command be allowed to wear the uniforms of the former Imperial Japanese Navy. He'd then put forth the plan he'd thought up the previous evening, and was now about to implement it.
After leaving Admiral Fuchida's office, both he and Blaskewicz had gone straight over to Nakata Shoken uniform outfitters and purchased several uniforms - both blues and whites - and had also placed orders for others. Thank God for uniform allowances, Avers thought, or else this would've put a serious dent in my savings.
He was thoroughly enjoying himself as they walked to the brig area; the gold on the full Admiral's shoulder boards of his summer whites prompted quite a few snaps to attention, even if probably 90% of the personnel coming to attention had no idea what either his rank or Blaskewicz's was.
"Ok, Captain?" he asked, using the rank he'd promoted Blaskewicz to only two hours ago.
Blaskewicz looked around before realizing Avers was addressing him. "Oh, right! That's me!" he muttered to himself, causing Avers to stifle laughter. "Fine, sir...just not used to being addressed as a senior officer. My parents aren't gonna believe what's happened." An uncertain expression flickered over his face. "I'm glad my grandpa's no longer around...he'd disown me for wearing this uniform."
"World War II veteran, I take it?" Avers guessed, and Blaskewicz nodded.
"He was a Gunner's Mate on the California at Pearl Harbor, then he transferred to the Astoria. He was aboard her at Savo Island and then the San Francisco at 1st Guadalcanal. Then he was on the Maryland at Surigao Strait."
"I'd say he saw some action," Avers quipped as they arrived at the brig area and walked up to the window for admittance.
"Heard you transferred out, sir," the Lieutenant on duty greeted him as he buzzed Avers and Blaskewicz in.
"Just here to visit someone, Lieutenant," Avers replied. "I'd like to see OS1 Mancini."
"Aye, sir...I'll have him brought to the visiting room." the Lieutenant turned and motioned to two MPs on guard duty.
Avers and Blaskewicz were waiting in the visiting room for only a few minutes when Mancini was brought in. As he entered, he appeared completely surprised to see the two officers.
"Thanks for comin' to see me before you headed out, sirs, but you really didn't have to. I mean, it's standard procedure...I get my Captain's Mast tomorrow, and then it's seven days back here."
"What if you could change that?" Avers asked.
"How so, sir?" Mancini replied. "There's no way I'll ever progress beyond OS1...I was lucky to make that. My Dad's made it perfectly clear I'm not Chief material."
That statement made Avers pause. Apparently I missed something here... "What does your father have to do with this?"
Mancini scoffed. "He's an Admiral back in Norfolk. He shipped me out here before the Abyssals attacked because he thinks overseas duty's gonna shape me up. Ha!"
"I took the liberty to review your service record," Avers replied. "Aside from your penchant of going AWOL, your CO has given you excellent fit-reps in regards to your duties as a training NCO. If you'd quit going AWOL, I imagine you could be a Master Chief in ten years' time."
Mancini shrugged. "Why give my Dad the satisfaction?"
"Or would you rather get out from under his thumb and make your own way?" Avers started easing into his idea.
Mancini looked interested. "How so, sir?"
Avers proceeded to outline his plan. When he was finished, he motioned for Mancini to voice his own thoughts.
"Lemme get this straight, sir," the OS1 was quick to reply. "You're offering me the chance to transfer navies and work for you instead of having my Dad's shadow over me at all times?"
Avers nodded, adding, "And another thing: if you transfer, you'll start with a clean slate...all those AWOL infractions will be completely expunged. All I ask is that the whole AWOL thing stops and you find a constructive way to blow off steam. Take up jogging, swim laps, get a Playstation 4, whatever you need to do, just no more going AWOL, ok?"
Mancini was stunned by Avers' offer. All he was asking was that Mancini follow the rules...pretty much what he was supposed to do all along. In exchange he'd have a clean record and would no longer have to answer to his father. Definitely a win-win situation if he ever saw one.
"Where do I sign?" he grinned.
Avers motioned to Blaskewicz, who produced a packet of paperwork from a briefcase and handed it to Avers. Avers set the papers before Mancini and handed him a pen, indicating where the Petty Officer should sign his name.
"Welcome to the first day of your new life."
Mancini laughed as he scribbled his signature. "Feels damn good, sir."
When Mancini was done signing, Avers revealed the last bonus of Manicini's new position as he handed the papers back to Blaskewicz.
"Oh, one more thing. I know you're a training NCO, but I don't need one of those...I need a Training Officer."
That seemed to give Mancini pause. "Come again, sir?"
Avers extended his hand to Mancini. "Louis Mancini...you're hereby assigned as the Training Officer for Rengō Kanmusutai and as of this moment are promoted to Captain. Congratulations."
"CAPTAIN?!" Mancini gaped at Aver's statement.
Avers nodded, both he and Blaskewicz sporting wide grins at the former Petty Officer's reaction.
"Sir, no disrespect intended here, but I don't know nothin' about bein' no senior officer."
"Then you'll fit right in," Avers joked, and both Mancini and Blaskewicz laughed.
There was a paperwork problem as they attempted to leave the brig area; the Lieutenant on duty refused to accept the fact that Mancini was no longer a part of the U.S. Navy and that his record had been wiped clean, even with the requisite paperwork in front of him. He simply passed the situation up the chain, and it was not ten minutes later when RADM Denhurst marched into the brig's admin area, demanding to know why he'd been called down here to deal with such a matter. The Lieutenant showed Denhurst the paperwork, and Avers' former CO glared at him.
"You're taking someone else from my command? Who is it this time?"
"Me, sir," Mancini replied, to which Denhurst's expression changed to one who is barely containing laughter.
"You want the Escape Artist?" he scoffed, and Mancini, instead of being offended, merely grinned and turned to Avers.
"See, Admiral? My illustrious reputation precedes me."
While Avers thought Mancini's comment was humorous, he wanted to laugh his ass off at how Denhurst's face was quickly turning a very nice shade of puce.
"ADMIRAL?!" Denhurst rounded on Avers with the speed of a viper. "ADMIRAL?! The JMSDF made you the same rank as me in one fell swoop?!"
"Of course not, sir," Avers replied soothingly, and Denhurst's complexion gradually returned to normal with the Admiral thinking Avers had one star to his two. Therefore, Avers took great pleasure in what he said next. "The JMSDF made me a full Admiral. In U.S. Navy terms, I've got two more stars than you."
Everyone in the room - including the MPs - was impressed at how Denhurst's face turned a sickly shade of gray as he realized that his brilliant, iron-clad plan to get rid of someone he thought had no business being a Naval officer had not only backfired, but backfired spectacularly and that very someone was now two ranks higher than he was.
"Um, Admiral? Are you all right, sir?" the brig Lieutenant looked at Denhurst with growing concern. When Denhurst remained silent and proceeded to lean heavily against the counter and grip it for support, the Lieutenant motioned for an MP sitting at a nearby desk to phone the medical building for a doctor.
Denhurst reached over to the stack of papers lying on the counter, grabbed them, and thrust them at Avers using only one severely-shaking hand.
"Get out," he croaked.
Avers was more than a little tempted to ask Denhurst to address him correctly - meaning adding a 'sir' on the end of his request to leave - but as his former CO looked like he desperately needed a hospital he simply motioned Blaskewicz and Mancini to follow him out the door.
UP NEXT: Avers takes command and we start seeing shipgirls!
1) Good day, Admiral.
2) And good day to you as well, Commander.
Please Review...I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have!