I saw the series, decided I liked the concept, and wanted to write an idea. So let's go for it right? Some of the series' setting I don't necessarily like in terms of the submergence of much of the world, so I decided to mess with it in the area of the Caribbean Sea, it's its own tectonic plate so I decided something happened and the plate and the islands on it got pushed up and additional islands sprung up making the sea quite dense with tropical white sandy islands covered in palm trees.
Yokosuka Girls' Marine High School
The Harekaze, this one the second ship to bear the name, was currently docked next to two much larger ships signified what they were going to be doing. The two larger ships were the fleet oiler Kazahaya, 18,300 tons, and the Mamiya, 15,820 tons. These two support ships were specifically there for the Harekaze's coming voyage, and were going to see their little destroyer across the vast blue waters of the Pacific.
There were supplies being loaded onto all three ships as Captain Akeno Misaki walked towards her ship pulling a rolling suitcase behind her. The young brunette captain had been told, as all the other members of the crew had, to pack for an extended period of absence from school. This had come after the approval by the school and the agreement of the crew of the Harekaze itself to partake in this special cruise. The Harekaze was stepping into place as an exchange ship, her destination was the Atlantic, the school in question, Ile Longue Marine Academy, a French School, was now taking its turn hosting a ship from Yokosuka as part of a cyclical rotation agreement between the world's sea-going schools. Normally Yokosuka would exchange with, in a cyclical order, the Royal Maritime High School of Great Britain, the Pacific Coast Maritime High School of the USA, the Taranto Maritime Academy of Italy, the Gulf Coast Maritime High School and then the Atlantic Coast Maritime High School, both American, then Wilhelmshaven Maritime High School, and then Ile Longue Marine Academy, and then the cycle repeats itself.
Misaki knew that this was going to be a special cruise, they would be crossing the Pacific Ocean, crossing through the Panama Passage, and then into the crowded tropical island chains of the Caribbean Sea for exercises with a squadron from Ile Longue participating in a larger wargame scenario near San Juan, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Lesser Antilles Islands against the local American student fleet from the Gulf Coast Maritime High School, which operates in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and much of the Southern Atlantic.
Then they'd move north with the French student squadron, to European waters, where they would go first to the Mediterranean, home and domain of the main French and Italian student fleets, then to the North Sea and the English Channel, where an old friend awaited them at Wilhelmshaven Maritime High School. Also in those waters was the proud and majestic student fleet of the Royal Maritime High School, an incredibly storied school of great tradition and proud history. Also frequenting those waters was another American school, East Coast Maritime High School. Misaki had made the comment that they wouldn't be getting away from the Americans for much of their cruise, getting more than a few laughing face emojis on the ship crew's group chat.
It was quite an exciting time to be a student aboard the Harekaze, normally a destroyer would never be sent as a school's representatives on an exchange. In the usual circumstances Yokosuka sent their Nagato, the Hiei, or the Akagi and students who were well-versed in international affairs aboard a ship that was fast and powerful, an excellent ambassador for Yokosuka High. A ship as small as a Kagero-Class Destroyer was usually seen as an insult, but not the Harekaze. They'd been requested.
Misaki walked to the gangway past some fellow students, waving and saying hello as she passed. When she got to her ship she saw a familiar fellow crew member. It was a familiar fat orange cat.
"Isoroku," Misaki cried out, looking up at the cat that sat on the deck as she climbed up and returned to her ship, "You're coming with us?"
The cat didn't make a move or noise, just sort of stared up at her and Misaki just smiled and patted him on the head. He just looked up at her and she knew that this was the same cat from before.
"Good to have you back Isoroku," Misaki giggled as a few more people walked up.
It was the Harekaze's deputy captain, Munetani Mashiro, Shiro, and their principal.
"Shiro-san!" Misaki cried out happily.
"Captain, good to see you're on time, I sure thought you would've been late because of the collision near school."
"Well, I decided to try a different route today, so I guess I was lucky I missed that traffic," Misaki smiled bashfully.
"Typical," Mashiro smiled gently, knowing that her captain was perhaps the luckiest individual she had ever met.
"Why don't we start our briefing?" Principal Munetani responded, bringing them to the moment as she stepped aboard.
The two ship's officers replied with an obedient snap to attention and followed her to the classroom. Mashiro placed her own cat, Tamonmaru, a little gray kitten, onto the deck with Isoroku. The two cats followed the three into the classroom where Principal Munetani placed a map with markings for a course and rendezvous points.
"The Harekaze will set a course north and then east, riding the Oyashio and then the Kamchatka Currents south of the Aleutians to save fuel and then south again on the California Current and sail west of the United States' Pacific Coast until you reach the Panama Passage. En route you will be replenished and refueled as needed at the marked locations. You will then pass through the Panama Passage and will meet up with the Ile Longue Dunkurque Squadron and will be attached to them for the semester. Here are the required worksheets, assignments, and other materials," she said, handing over a stack of manila envelopes, "You'll hand them over to your instructor from Ile Longue and then they'll administer the exams and will scan them over to us for grading. After your final exam you will traverse the Mediterranean, pass through Suez, the Indian Ocean, and will return home."
"You won't let you done Munetani-senpai," Misaki declared proudly.
"Your crew should be arriving shortly, you will depart at oh-eight hundred leading the Kazayiha and Mamiya, good luck, make us proud," the older woman said and stood upright, rolling up the map and placing a rubber band on it and handing it over to Misaki.
"Thank you sensei," Misaki bowed respectfully, "We will."
Two Hours Later
The ship's crew was giddy with excitement, the buzzing mood in the classroom of the ship as she sailed northeast was quite a good way to show that. Cruising at twenty-four knots, they'd gotten into open water, where the weather was rather chilly, and the crew was wearing their school's uniform jackets over their uniforms' T-shirts. It was an easy day thus far. They'd left port, taken the lead in the formation of three ships and sailed without interruption until they were free of the commercial traffic. This meant that now they were able to get told of their plan and as Captain Misaki decided that it was a good time for their first assignment of the semester.
"Hello everyone, how are you?" Misaki asked as she stood in front of them at the chalkboard.
A chorus of good and not bad along with a few 'I'm cold' responses came from them.
"Well, we're on our way east, to the Caribbean!" and then a few cheers sounded out, "We'll be sailing northeast, riding the currents to save fuel. It'll be cold, so stay warm please. When we get into the Caribbean Sea we'll be taking part in wargames and maneuvers alongside our host school, Ile Longue Marine Academy. Then we'll sail to the Mediterranean, and then to the North Sea and English Channel, taking part in maneuvers alongside the great maritime high schools of Europe."
Some interested murmurs came from the crew as they pondered this.
"But first," Mashiro called out, stepping forward, "We have our school's work assignments. These worksheets that are all due Friday, and here's the assignment for our first essay. Also we'll be handing out the schedule for our coursework this semester. So plan accordingly please. If anyone has any questions you can ask now."
Now a loud groan sounded out from the assembled class. Like any students anywhere they didn't like homework. Schoolwork for students of Yokosuka was not unlike normal schoolwork, worksheets, pop quizzes, essays, and exams. But they had their captain and deputy captain hand out their daily work and any questions were sent to their instructors. School never stopped, even though they had their shipboard duties to fulfill, the basics like history, math, science, language arts, and others were standard, and this meant that worksheets came with them, and after that were exams interspersed with quizzes. Mashiro started handing out these thick paper worksheets that everyone begrudgingly took, placing them into the binders that were issued to everyone.
"Now, remember to keep track of due dates, the turn-in boxes will shut tight on schedule, we can't do anything about it, and no, we cannot say we lost them over the side. The boxes stay in the academic room under lock and key," Mashiro reaffirmed to them, pointing to the labeled boxes that were where they turned in their sheets, quizzes, exams.
Today there were ten of them in holders on the wall by the door. They had more than thirty aboard the Harekaze, each for the different assignments that even divided down to their individual departments as well as more general subjects for everyone.
"Is that it?" Hikari Ogasawara asked once everyone's sheets were handed out.
Mashiro sighed, "Yes, if no one is going to stay to work on their worksheets you're dismissed."
"Oh wait everyone!" Akeno called out as many of their classmates started getting up, "We'll have a study session three times a week after dinner here in the classroom, make sure you come so we can help each other. That's what families do."
Mashiro nodded to herself that it was a good idea, many of their shipmates were indeed in need of assistance academically. Their ship's crew was still technically the lowest in terms of their scores, and that was purely academics and academics was a very real part of school, even on ships.
"I can help with your maritime law and history," Mashiro offered, "Be here on…Tuesdays and Thursdays after dinner and we can go over our material. Gunnery, Engineering, I want two of you to volunteer for tutoring mathematics on Mondays and Fridays, I expect more all of you to be there."
"Yeah I'll definitely be there," Akeno said, meekly rubbing the back of her neck, knowing her maritime law needed a bit of work.
"I guess I'll held with math," Maron sighed as no one else volunteered for the math assistance.
"We can help too," Shima piped up, grabbing Mei around the shoulders and pulling her close, signifying that she had roped in the shy Torpedo officer into being a tutor.
"A-aye?" Mei said, her eyes widening at what had just dawned on her.
"Now, if anyone else needs help please ask your shipmates, we all have our talents, we're all able to make this the best transfer cruise ever. So let's do our best!" Akeno giddily called out, raising a fist in triumph, getting a cheer from the others.
"Before we leave we have a simple worksheet to complete before lunch," Mashiro stopped everyone.
"What is it?" Akeno asked as she looked at the stack of paper, and saw the assignment, a non-academic survey.
"Okay maybe worksheet isn't the best way to describe it. It's just a survey, just fill in what you think you'll learn and all that other stuff," Mashiro waved everyone down from their panic.
A collective sigh of relief responded to her as the papers were passed out and the crew began filling in the free response survey sheet. The room was buzzing and soon everyone was putting their sheets into the collection bin. Akeno was the last one, choosing to wait for everyone to turn it in. Mashiro took the remaining sheets and stood up with them.
"Captain, I'll go take these to the crew on duty on the bridge and in the engine room for them to complete and turn in," Mashiro said, and noted how quiet Akeno was, not looking up at her, "Captain?"
"Shiro-san, we're really on our way aren't we?" Akeno said softly, looking up at her, "On our way to be half-way around the world, so far from home?"
"Captain, the Harekaze is home now, home is where your family is. And our family is here, just like you said."
"You're right, thank you Shiro-san."
Two Days Later, South of Kodiak Island
"We leave you in the hands of the Americans now Captain Misaki," the captain of the Mamiya said through a megaphone to the Harekaze as the lines connecting the two ships were severed, finishing their underway replenishment.
"Thank you, Captain Fujita, safe travels home!" Akeno responded on her own megaphone, bundled up tightly in her school-issued storm coat at the port bridge wing of the Harekaze's bridge.
"Take lots of pictures for us, safe travels!"
"Rin-san, make course south-south-east, engine room, ahead standard, we'll rendezvous with…Pacific Coast High School ships off of Puget Sound. Is that right Kuoko-san?" the brunette ordered, walking into the warmer partially enclosed bridge.
"Aye captain, they'll be waiting for us and will have a tanker and a supply ship to take us to the Panama Canal, then we'll meet ships of the Ile Longue Maritime Academy," Kuoko nodded, showing the course set for them by the school, highlighting their current journey's leg.
"Captain," a voice from the speaker from sonar came up, "I'm picking up a sub-surface contact, far out, bearing zero-one-five."
"Submarine?" Akeno asked.
"This far north? I don't think there are American or Japanese student submarines out this far," Mashiro said thoughtfully, "Check on that please?"
"This is true, there's also no Canadian submarines because their school doesn't have one."
"Communication, report the contact to the school, follow protocol," Mashiro ordered the communications department.
"Captain contact is definite submarine, a large one, it's coming shallow," sonar reported, causing the entire bridge to peer out, the others with their binoculars.
"Any sign of a periscope?"
"Negative," Mashiro replied, scanning intently for anything unnatural, but the light fog and dark cold sea made it hard.
"Captain the submarine is diving again, I'm losing it…and it's gone, I think it's heading towards a storm to the south."
"It's alright, we'll keep an eye out," Akeno replied, pointing her binoculars at the storm coming towards them, "Shiro-san, give the order to close the deck and secure outer hatches please?"
"Of course," Mashiro nodded, walking to the ship intercom and made the announcement.
"What time is dinner? I'm cold…" Rin whined, having been at her station for some time.
"Curry sounds good," Mei mumbled to herself, rubbing her binoculars' rubber component with some rubbing alcohol to clean it off.
"Hmm…in this cold that does sound satisfying," Shima said, stretching her back a bit as she took her eyes off of the binoculars on her side.
"Dinner is ready," the speakers called out, Mikan Irako being the one to send the good news.
"Go ahead Shiro-san, Kuoko and I can handle the bridge," Akeno said pleasantly, nodding to the others.
They all said their thank you's and Akeno and Kuoko found themselves on the bridge alone. Kuoko took the helm, and Akeno leaned on the large fixed binoculars in the bridge, resting her chin against the device. The two stayed silent a moment as the ship just motored along, moving quietly through the mist, occasionally a small piece of ice arose from the mist and Kuoko, at Akeno's orders, maintained a wide berth. They knew all-too-well from the many stories of the Titanic that ships and ice don't mix. All was quiet until one of the two twins, Akane Kinesaki, arrived in the bridge with tray and two bowls of Yosenabe, each with some thin-sliced hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, beef, veggies, and tofu.
"Miss Irako said you might like a bowl of Yosenabe up here in the cold," the cooking officer stated with a warm smile as she handed over the tray along with some warm cups of tea.
"Thank you very much Akane-san," Kuoko said gratefully as she took the tray.
"I've never been on the bridge before," the girl said as she looked around, a smile on her face as she looked about, taking in the unfamiliar surroundings.
"Really?" Akeno asked, cocking her head as she blew on a spoonful of hot soup, "Never?"
"No, we always had other tasks. But I'll have to get some time in every part of the ship for my homework."
"Oh no!" Akeno cried out, "My homework! I forgot to turn it in!"
"It's okay captain, you still have until midnight," Kuoko said through a mouthful.
"Captain…what's that?" Akane asked, pointing at a shape on the water, orange and shaped like a ball.
"Looks like a float," Kuoko said, leaning down to take a look, "A crab fishing float. That makes no sense out here at this time…unless…" she started to figure something in her drama-prone mind, and it came out as a dramatic monologue, "It's a plot to smuggle secrets from the submarine to its handlers!" but then she changed voices to a meek and girly tone, "But we have stumbled upon it! What if they pursue us?!" then the firm authoritative tone returned, "You shall be captured and silenced, OUR PLAN SHALL NEVER BE REVEALED!"
Poor Akane was now shaking, the thought of being in some cruel plot like that scared her just a bit.
"M-m-miss Nosa? That's not what's happening is it?"
Akeno smiled in return, "She's just letting her imagination got the better of her, that float probably fell off a fishing boat and is just floating freely. Steer us close, I'll hook it and remove it so some poor sea creature doesn't get entangled."
She left the bridge, placing her soup in the communications room's table where the long-blonde-haired Tsugumi Yagi was eating an identical bowl of soup and listening for communications, at her post.
"Captain?" the blonde asked curiously.
"Just some litter, I'm gonna go pick it up out of the water."
The weather was starting to get bad, and Akeno walked out and saw the float with a small length of rope freely floating on the surface next to them as she pulled a throwing hook out of the gear closet amidships and threw the treble hook with rope attached. The hook landed next to the float, and it landed at the place it needed to as the ship went by. She pulled quickly, feeling the slick rope in her gloved hands until the large orange float was on the deck. Finishing it up she pulled it up and saw the rope attached to it wasn't just a random length, eaten away by the sea. It was tied off to an iron weight.
"Huh?" she asked herself, looking at the iron block, and saw it was about twenty pounds, and was on a different rope from the one on the water, "That's odd…" she thought to herself as she pulled it inside, the ship, and placed the entire thing in the vessel's trash bin, thinking nothing more of it.
"Did you get it captain?" Kuoko asked.
"I did, I was pretty lucky I got it with one throw of the hook," Akeno grinned sheepishly, "I forgot how fast we were going."
"Well, your famous luck once more saves the day, this time, just saving a piece of trash from littering the ocean," Kuoko said as Tsugumi arrived in the bridge with Akeno's bowl.
"Here you are Captain, and a response from the school, they said not to worry about the submarine. It may have been from a research ship," she said, handing the paper with the transcript over.
"I didn't know there's a research ship out here…" Kuoko mumbled.
"That's what they told us," Tsugumi raised the palms of her hands.
"But-," Kuoko gasped.
"Just enjoy your soup before it gets cold."
Well, short but sweet, and hopefully the first of many more. I'm not an expert on Japanese culture as far as names and naming convention goes, I'm learning as I go along. I'll do what diligence I can in regards to the ships and weapons and tactics involved as well as Japanese culture. It's a work in progress, any suggestions will be appreciated as that goes.
Next Chapter Preview: The Panama Canal, and the Caribbean.