AN: Figured I might as well get the rest of my KC stuff crossposted over here. This, in particular, being far and away my longest one. 25 proper chapters and several omakes. Might be the longest thing I've written period, actually. Anywho...not traditional KC.
But then, that hardly matters. sidelong glance at a certain other fic in this section
At any rate, I'm posting the first two chapters tonight, and will post another every three-four days until caught up.
Also posting my KC/SW crossover as well.
(this isn't so much adding a new story, as posting something I've put a lot of work into, BTW)
"Great job everyone! That's the fifth carrier we've sunk this week, I think we're finally starting to push the Abyssal's back!"
"Their forces have been weakening Admiral. It's strange..."
"We have more and more of our own ships returning Sara, it was only a matter of time."
"Even so, the Abyssals have always outnumbered us."
"True, but I'm not about to complain either."
"I suppose you're right sir. I just have a feeling something will go wrong..."
"There's nothing to worry about Sara..."
Yawning heavily, Rear Admiral James Thompson groggily opened his eyes. Odd that he had dreamed about that day...nothing had ever come of it, despite his secretary- his friend's -worries. The war with the Abyssal's had just continued to wind down, as the girls under his, and so many other Admiral's, command grew more and more experienced. Tricks worked less and less, and for ever ship girl sent out, multiple Abyssal's fell. Even their seemingly endless numbers had begun to thin out, and really, it was only a matter of time until they finished the war off. So James hadn't been particularly worried about it for quite some time, even if his oldest girl had been.
And on that note, it was an odd day when Sara didn't wake him up. Come to think of it...something seemed off in that regard.
Blinking slowly, the Admiral noted something rather important. This wasn't his room back at Yokosuka, or even the one he had in the States. If the slight swaying and metal walls were any indication, in fact, this was aboard a warship. Last he checked, while more conventional ships were seeing a resurgence with the fall in Abyssal activity, he hadn't been aboard one. Not to mention that this wasn't any ship interior he was familiar with. His bed was hard, covered in a standard-issue cover. There was a small dresser and desk, with an ancient desk lamp on it. An equally small porthole showed a blue sky outside.
But...there were no electronics. James hadn't been aboard a warship...well, since before he ended up in command of the ship girls. And while he hadn't exactly been living in luxury back then, it was certainly better than this. A tiny room with no modern luxuries? He was an Admiral...if someone stuffed him on a ship, he should have better quarters than this!
"Actually, how the hell did I end up here anyway?" James muttered softly, adjusting for the roll of the ship as he got to his feet, "Wherever here is. Wonder if Sara's around?"
Stumbling around slightly, the Admiral pulled out one of the dressers, looking for his uniform. What he found had him raising an eyebrow instead, as he pulled the dress whites out.
"Antique dress whites?" he incredulously held up a uniform that wouldn't look out of place on one of his girls, albeit much more standard, "Did someone stuff me in a museum?"
The uniform he was holding was something that would better fit in such a place, for sure. He recognized it from documentaries and the uniforms of some of the American ship girls at any rate...a WW2 standard-issue Admiral uniform. Why in the hell he would have one instead of his more modern uniform was beyond him. Either someone was playing a joke, or he had ended up on the Hornet or something. But then, that raised the question of how he teleported across the Pacific without realizing it, and why someone would do that and then stuff him in a museum. A museum that felt like it was sailing, not just floating in harbor.
Sighing in more than a little annoyance, the man stripped out of his pajamas and pulled on the antique anyway. He wasn't going to wander around underdressed, while he figured out who stuffed him in here. Even if that meant wearing something more befitting his great-grandfather, than himself. Once he finished adjusting the uniform, James decided his first priority needed to be tracking down Sara or one of the other girls.
If anyone took me, there's no way in hell they didn't take at least one of them too. Hell, one of the DDs would probably sneak aboard if I was Admiral-napped.
Snorting at his little pun, James was going to open 'his' door, before he noted something he had missed before. Namely...
"Well, guess I don't need to leave after all," a wan smile crossed the Admiral's face, as he lowered his hand, "Hey, Sara! Mind explaining what's going on?"
Because in his confusion at his new situation, James had managed to totally overlook the fact that the familiar head of blue hair was sitting in a chair, opposite his desk and dresser. He might have been a bit red-faced at Sara being there while he changed, but for the fact she was asleep. And that, well, when one is in the military most modesty went out the window years ago. It wasn't like she would do anything about it anyway. And in any case, he was much more concerned with asking the carrier where he was, and how he ended up here, than any potential embarrassment.
But, despite shouting at her, the woman didn't wake up. James frowned slightly at that...if there were anything he could say about Saratoga, it was that the carrier wasn't a heavy sleeper.
"Hey, Sara," reaching a hand out, the Admiral shook his carrier- his friend's -shoulder.
That seemed to do the trick, as familiar brilliantly green eyes snapped open. Sara blinked in shock, before letting out a squeak entirely unlike herself, pushing away from the older-looking man. James frowned, pulling his hand back, entirely uncertain how to react to that...reaction. Sara was generally pretty unflappable, certainly not easily startled. Granted he'd woken her up, but he done that before on rare occasions. Generally, she'd just send him a flat look and reply that she would have gotten up on her own.
Squeaking and looking at him with wide eyes? Yeah, that was a new one.
"What's wrong with you?" James asked, honestly a bit worried.
"You can see me," Sara replied slowly, before her brain seemed to go through a reset, "Admiral on deck!"
Said reset had her jumping to her feet, snapping off a picture perfect salute. James returned it slowly, before frowning even deeper. Something was very wrong here.
"What do you mean I can 'see' you?" his frown refused to leave, "I've always...everyone's always been able to see you. At least since we summoned you to deal with the Abyssal's anyway."
Sara's pretty face fell slightly, a frown taking form on it, "No one should see me. I'm the spirit of this ship, not a living being. I keep my crew safe, but I can't interact with them. And, I'm sorry sir, but 'Abyssal's'?"
James felt his jaw drop, before he fell heavily into the seat behind him. He hadn't heard what he thought he just heard, right? He hadn't heard Sara just say that she didn't know what Abyssal's were. He hadn't heard her say that no one could see her. That she was the spirit of...this...
"Sara?" the Admiral warily began, "What ship am I on?"
"Me, sir," the carrier replied softly, hesitantly, "USS Saratoga, CV-3."
Hearing those words...the Admiral didn't know how to react. Everything he knew said this had to be a dream, or something like that. Not only should it be impossible for a ship girl to be around at the same time as her ship-form was, Saratoga most certainly shouldn't be able to. Her hull was a rusting hulk at the bottom of Bikini Atoll, falling apart with age and the damage that had sunk her. Most certainly not sailing the waves, apparently in perfect shape. No carrier from that time was still sailing, to say the least. Leave alone Saratoga.
But what did that mean for him, then?
If this isn't some elaborate prank, and I hope to God it is, that must mean I...went back in time? Sometime before 1946...but...that shouldn't be possible. Right?
It seemed impossible on the face of it. Sure, ship girls themselves were basically magic, but the idea of time travel? James could hardly wrap his head around all the reasons this should be impossible. Only one way to know for sure though.
"Ok...ok," rubbing his face, James turned back to Sara, "What day is it, Sara?"
The carrier blinked, "June 21st, 1940...sir."
James couldn't help the relieved sigh, despite everything else. Was he inwardly freaking the hell out at the idea he'd just gone back ridiculously far in time? Of course. But if he had to go back, at least it was...now. There was still...
"There's still time then."
"Time?" Sara still seemed somewhat awed that she was able to talk with the Admiral, but there was more than a little confusion in her voice as well.
There wasn't an answer for that question forthcoming, as James started rooting around in his tiny desk. The man muttered under his breath, as he looked for a journal. He didn't know if he'd replaced someone or if he was still dreaming or if this had always been his life. But right now, all he was concerned with was if this cabin- whomever it had originally belonged to -had a journal. If he had really gone back, he desperately needed something to write things down on. Before he started to forget very important things without access to his personal library or computer.
Log book...no, that won't do. I don't want anyone to see this. I need...aha!
With a small smile of triumph, James fished a large journal out of his desk. The pages inside were blank as of yet, but he didn't intend for it to stay that way for long, to say the least. If he wasn't dreaming or being pranked, well, this little journal would become the most important thing in the world.
"Right," muttering to himself, the man found a pencil- damn, I don't even remember the last time I used an old wooden pencil... -and started writing things down. Sara, still very hesitant, had moved to look over his shoulder as he worked. Her wide green eyes grew wider, as she watched.
"Pearl..." she breathed, a hint of worry in her tone now.
James looked over his shoulder, "Yeah...if I'm not dreaming right now, then you're not going to like what I'm writing here Sara."
"Admiral, you...this..." it seemed that the carrier was unused to having to enunciate herself. If her claim of no one being able to see her was true, that made some sense. She might never have talked before.
"Look," James sighed softly, setting his pencil down so he could fully face Sara, blue eyes on green, "What I'm about to tell you, assuming this isn't some prank York is playing or something, is not fun. You aren't going to like hearing it. But I can change things."
"Change what Admiral?"
"Well, for starters, if this is really 1940, I know that the War in Europe's been going on for some time now. June...June...France should be on the verge of falling, though I don't think Vichy's around yet. Battle of Britain isn't in full-swing yet either. And...huh, I don't actually remember if any American ships have been sunk yet. I know the Nazi's got one of our DDs but for the life of me I can't remember which one or when that happened."
Sara just stared at James, as the Admiral slowly trailed off. He chuckled weakly, running a hand through his dark hair. He had a tendency to ramble when he really got going on something, especially if it was important. Granted, she could just as easily be staring at him because he probably sounded crazier than some of the Japanese ship girls. Not that he could really blame her for that. The situation had him wondering if he was going crazy.
So he just coughed softly, before continuing at a slower pace, "Right, I was rambling there. Anyway, as hard as it is to believe, I'm not...well, supposed to be here. Last thing I remember if going to sleep at Yokosuka, decades from now. You and the other ships were long since gone, but came back as...spirits? Something like that, I never tried thinking too hard about it. All I know is that you came back, looking like that, and everyone could see you. We needed you to deal with the Abyssals. Not that I'm going to talk about them, because they shouldn't be a problem, and I don't like thinking about them."
The Admiral's face darkened slightly at that. The Abyssals...if there was any positive to be found in his situation, at least he would hopefully never have to deal with those monsters again.
"I..." Sara frowned again, "I don't know what to think...? This is..."
"A lot, yeah," James sighed again, "That's why I'm focusing on writing things down. Now, as I was saying, if I'm really in the past there are some things I can hopefully change for the better. You noticed Pearl?"
The carrier nodded, "Yes. My crew has staged mock attacks before, but I don't think that's what you were talking about Admiral. Is it?"
"Well, it's part of the problem. Despite all those practice battles, Pearl isn't ready for a real attack. And that is coming, in a little over a year. December 7th, 1941...a day that will live in infamy, to borrow Roosevelt's words."
James took a piece of the journal's paper out, and set it on the desk. His practiced hand moved the pencil along the paper, writing down names. Names of ships that wouldn't see the end of that fateful day. Ships that were killed or nearly so, with no warning whatsoever. Ships that never had the chance to properly fight back, because of various reasons. Reasons that in hindsight were idiotic, but at the time at least made some sense. Hopefully...well, that would come after he convinced Sara to help him. And that required the list.
USS West Virginia
The list continued, and Sara grew progressively paler. Especially when James explained the asterisks...total losses. The Sara he knew would have probably set her jaw and marched out to do something about the situation. But this Sara...she just paled, and sat down again. She shook slightly, holding a hand to her mouth, clearly in shock. James felt horrible about doing that to her...doing that to the woman who in the future had been his closest friend, bar none.
But she had to know this.
"All those ships," Sara finally got out weakly, "No one warned their crews?"
"There were signs," James shrugged wearily, "And radar picked up the Japanese, but it wasn't believed to be an attack. They were all hit off-guard, and it's only luck that Enterprise wasn't there too."
"And you want to change that?"
The Admiral nodded, a determined expression crossing his face, "Among other things, yeah. We're in Pearl now right?"
"We are heading there," the carrier replied, "But the other Admirals..."
"They'd call me crazy and relieve me of duty, yes. That's where I'm hoping you, and whatever let's me see you, come in handy. If nothing else, I can warn the ships themselves."
James had no idea how much good that would do. If Sara were to be believed, there probably wasn't a lot the ship girls could do in their current states, without input from the crews. But if he didn't do something to help Arizona and the others, what good did he do? Giving Sara someone to talk to was nice and all, but this was a chance to really change things. He had to take that by the horns, and do the best he could. Even if the Admiral was somewhat lost on where to begin...
And felt more than a little trepidation. Helping Ari and the others was great, but on the other hand...
I hope Kongo and the others can forgive me for this. I never thought I would be on the opposite side of the Japanese girls...
Helping his girls meant hurting the Japanese. It was only the sound of Sara moving that got James away from that depressing line of thought. Though he knew it would come back to haunt him later.
"Is there anything else Admiral?" the carrier asked weakly.
The unasked question there was clear. Is there anything about me?
"You should survive the war, if me being here doesn't change everything," James answered that unasked question, "Unfortunately...the same isn't true for Lex. I'm hoping if I can remember- and write down -when you were damaged and prevented from being at Coral Sea...hopefully we can save her."
If Sara had been pale before, it was nothing on her expression now. James felt like someone had stabbed his heart on seeing that. If there was any one thing he knew about the Lexington sisters, is that they were close as any other ship girls. Somewhat closer even, considering the pair were the only ships of their class, and had almost always operated together, before the Yorktowns came around. And understandably, hearing that Lex would be fated to sink if something wasn't done about it, probably wasn't doing Sara any favors.
James hated that he had to tell her that. He really, really did. But she had asked...and she needed to know. It was her sister. It wouldn't be right if she didn't know. Even so, the shaking shoulders had him getting to his feet and walking over to her. He may have done this to her, but that didn't stop the Admiral from placing a hand on Sara's shoulder.
Studiously ignoring her slight flinch, James softly spoke, "Look, Sara, we'll do everything we can to save her, yeah? I don't know if I'm dreaming or not, leave alone how I ended up here and now if I'm not. But I swear, I'm going to do everything I can to make things better. Somehow."
"I..." Sara blinked, before she forced herself to stop shaking, "I'll do anything I can to help you Admiral!"
Now there's the Sara I remember. I just hope we aren't in over our heads here...