New horizons, new friends

Chapter 1: welcome to Ōarai

Miho looked at the E-mail on her computer, a feeling of shock rippled through her body. She had mixed feelings about the message that the E-mail carried. It was a message from the school council and faculty. The E-mail read:

Dear Ōarai Girls high school students,

In the aftermath of the events of last year, the school board has seen fit to expand our student numbers. While the school has been saved from being closed by the Ōarai tankery team by winning the Sensha-dō tournament last year, the school financial situation remains an issue. As such, the school has seen fit to conduct a trial run with the eventual conversion to a Co-educational school. We understand that this may come as a shock to some parents and students and this may raise some concerns but we have seen fit to conduct a trial run over the next academic year with 6 male students transferring to Ōarai Girls high school. There will be strict rules imposed on the new students regarding intimate relationships with female students and any infringement will result in the immediate suspension of the students in question pending further questioning. The new male students will be arriving the day before the start of the New Year and will start the New Year along with all normal pupils.

As a sign of welcome to the new students, we would be grateful if representatives from the student body aside from the school council could be present at the airfield tomorrow to welcome the new students when they land tomorrow at 9am. This is purely voluntary and is just so that the pupils can be greeted by members of the school other than the members of the faculty.

With regards and the best hopes for the upcoming academic year,

Student council and senior management team of Ōarai Girls high school.

Miho gathered her thoughts, the school year started on the day after tomorrow so the new students would be arriving tomorrow. She was wondering what they would be like, the new students. She decided that she would go and meet the new students. She pulled out her phone and quickly typed a text to the rest of anglerfish team, asking if they would go with her. They all agreed to go and to meet by the Tankery sheds and to take the panzer IV. With that decided, she closed her computer and headed for bed.

Ōarai Airfield, 9:05am

Miho looked out over the airfield. Ōarai's airfield was small, usually only accommodating small business jets and helicopters used for ferrying students to and from the mainland. She and the rest if anglerfish team were sitting in their panzer IV. She looked at her watch and saw the time, 09:05. They were late.She looked over to the school council; they had bought their hetzer tank destroyer from the tankery team. Anzu, the school council president was sunbathing on the slopped frontal armour of the tank destroyer along with her vice president Yuzu. The trio was completed with the PR manger Momo; she had a pair of binoculars pressed to her eyes, scanning the skies for any aircraft.

"Where the hell are they?" she growled.

"Now now Momo." Said the principal, "I'm sure their just running a bit late, they'll be here soon."

"Yes, sir" said Momo, reluctantly. Miho smiled, and placed her binoculars to her eyes, scanning the skies. She spotted, something, a black speck against a white cloud.

"There they are!" she cried. She jumped down from her turret and the rest of her crew dismounted and stood up against the tank. Miho retrained her binoculars on the speck, the speck grew larger and then split into 2. "What the...?" she thought. She lowered her binoculars and looked, the specks grew closer and 2 aircraft appeared over the airfield. The first was a small twin engine passenger plane. It set down on the runway and taxied to a stop. The other, was not a passenger plane. It was far smaller, much sleeker and more beautiful. Its single engine's sound rolled across the airfield like thunder. It came in low and screamed overhead in a low level flyby. It rolled onto its wingtip and the distinctive oval wing shape immediately gave away its identity.

"That's a Spitfire!" cried Yukari, pointing to the aircraft. It circled around the airfield and lined up on the runway, lowering its landing gear at the last moment. It touched down in a perfect 3 point landing, its engine's roar quietening to a purr as it taxied to a halt next to the small passenger plane. The engine came to a stop and the noise died down. The canopy opened, and a tall teenager, wearing a: leather jacket, jeans, boots, flying goggles and hat, and a parachute. He was tall and had bright blue eyes and short cut, bright red hair. He climbed out and jumped off the back of the Spitfire's wing and walked toward to the group of Ōarai students and staff. The headmaster walked forward and greeted the teenage pilot. He raised his hand and said

"Welcome to Ōarai, I am Principal Aso Hiroyoshi, headmaster at Ōarai Girls high school, welcome."

"Thank you I'm Nicholas White, It's an honour to be here." Said the teenage flyer in perfect Japanese with a slight British accent, taking the principles hand and shaking it.

"This is Miho Nishizumi, commander of the Ōarai Sensha-dō team" said the Principal, gesturing to Miho who froze if shyness, Hana pushed her forward and she stumbled forward to the Principal's side. She froze, shyness overcoming her. She bowed to Nicholas and said,

"Welcome". Nicholas smiled and said in a kind voice,

"I think I should be the one bowing to one of such skill and honour", he bowed to Miho, who stood shocked by the gesture. He rose and raised shook her hand. "It is an honour to meet you Nishizumi- chan."

"Likewise" said Miho, a smile on her face. 5 other teenage boys emerged from the small passenger plane. The rest of Anglerfish team and the school council advanced to meet the new arrivals. Miho continued to talk with Nicholas.

"That is a fine Tank" said Nicholas, "Panzer IV Ausf H right?"

"Right" said Miho, "Want to have a look?"

"Sure" said Nicholas. Miho lead Nicholas over to the Panzer IV. They climbed up the Tanks armour to the top of the turret. Nicholas undid the straps on his parachute, placing it on the top of the tank and dropped into the tank, settling in the gunner's seat and Miho dropped into her commander's seat.

"Good thing I'm not claustrophobic" said Nicholas, he pressed the eye to the sight of the Main gun. Miho looked down at him with a smile. Nicholas looked up from the sight and looked up at Miho and smiled, the two stared at each other, silence only tensioning the moment.

"So..." Said Nicholas, trying to ease the awkwardness of the moment, "What's it like at Ōarai?"

"Um... it's really nice, the people are friendly and..." Said Miho, she was interrupted by Saori; she put her head through the commanders hatch.

"Hey Miho where are you..." she paused after seeing Nicholas in the turret with Miho. "Miho blushed and Saori wore a huge smile on her face and backed off snickering "Sorry didn't mean to interrupt you."

"No! Wait! Saori I..." Miho cried out but Saori was gone, Miho blushed heavily and suddenly found the turrets floor fascinating. Nicholas, seeing what he had done, decided that it was time to perform a tactical withdrawal. He rose from his seat in the gunner's position and said to Miho,

"Um, maybe I should go and put my spitfire in its hanger"

"Yea, ok" said Miho, she climbed out of the turret and Nicholas followed, careful not to look up Miho's skirt. When he climbed out of the tank and he went over to his Spitfire. He climbed up and pulled out his bailout kit. It contained: 2 days worth of water, A 24 hour ration pack, a flare gun, A Colt .45 with 3 magazines and a small med kit. He removed the colt and one magazine and slid the magazine in, racked the slide, reset the safety and put it in his backpack, he swung his backpack with it onto his back and reached into his cockpit and removed the spitfire's parking brake.

"Hey! Anyone mind giving me a hand with getting the Spitfire into its hanger?" He asked,

"Sure" said Miho. She ran up to the Spitfire and pushed against one of the wings. Between the 2 of them they got the Spitfire into its hanger quickly. While they did this, they were watched by the rest of anglerfish team.

"They seem cute together" said Hana, a warm smile,

"I don't trust him" said Yukari; she had a harsh scowl, tracking his movements like a hawk.

"Why?" asked Hana, "he seems nice."

"Too nice, did you see the way he went into the panzer with her, I don't trust him." Said Yukari,

"Did you see how she was blushing when she got out of the tank with him?" said Saori,

"I think you're over reacting" said Hana, "I think she has met someone who will make her happy, and if anyone deserves to be happy, it's Miho."

"I agree" said Saori, "He's a good man, he'll take care of her"

"How do you know?!" Shouted Yukari, "How do you know anything about him?!"

"Yukari! Calm down!" said Hana,

"Well I don't trust him, it takes a certain kind of person to carry a colt .45 and he's hiding something, and I'm going to find out what he's hiding!" said Yukari, she stormed off the airfield. Saori and Hana were about to give chase when Mako said in her usual emotionless voice,

"Let her go, she just needs to cool off.", Saori looked at each other and nodded.

"What was that all about?" asked Miho, she and Nicolas walked up to the group, curiosity laced across their faces.

"She doesn't trust you, she's just protective of Mipori" Said Hana to Nicholas,

Nicholas sighed "Well, if she wants a character reference, I'll give her my sister's number"

"How many sisters do you have?" asked Miho,

"2, one elder one younger" said Nicholas, "I believe you've met at least one of them"

"Really? Who is she?" asked Hana,

"They both do tankery at St. Gloriana Girls Academy and my elder sister usually commands a Churchill Mk VII"

"Your Sister is Darjeeling!" cried Miho, "I never knew she had a brother, or sister for that matter!"

"Yup, my younger sister is Hannah White, more commonly known as Orange Pekoe" said Nicholas.

"She doesn't trust you because you carry a gun" said Mako,

"I have a good reason for that" Said Nicholas, He swung his backpack down and opened it, he reached in and removed the colt .45, " I keep it in my bail out kit as a survival tool, but I also carry a gun with me most of the time. Both my mother and father are wealthy business people, that makes me and my sisters a prime targets for abductions."

"Don't you think your over reacting?" said Saori,

"No" Said Nicholas, "People have tried to abduct Darjeeling and I at least once and actually did abduct her once. They would have got her the second time, but my grandfather put a round through their heads. He was the one who got me into flying, story goes, one day when I was about 2, I was a bit rowdy, wouldn't stop crying for attention, mum was still expecting Hannah, and Darjeeling was at nursery and dad was out of the country. So Grandpa took some pressure off mum and took me flying in his old Mosquito fighter. Apparently I was infatuated, didn't get airsick just mesmerised by it. Next thing I know, I'm leaving middle school with a pilot's licence for historic aircraft."

"You're not originally from Japan are you?" said Miho,

"Nope, the ginger hair gave it away didn't it?" said Nicholas with a smile, he put the Colt back into the bag and continued. "No, my father was from Britain, my mother was half Japanese, half British. She grew up in Japan though, they met on a Business trip and one thing led to another, next think you know, mums pregnant with Darjeeling and Mum and dad are married. Grandpa was a RAF pilot in the 2nd world war. Guess that's why flying's in my blood. Anyway, I'm starving, know any good restaurants around here?"

Hana giggled and said "Where do you want to eat?"

"Somewhere there's food" said Nicholas bluntly. The all smiled, them smirked then burst out laughing.

"I think I know just the place" said Miho

Ōarai tank cafe 10:30am

"So, it's a cafe that serves tank themed cakes?" said Nicholas, astounded.

"Yup, why is that surprising?" asked Hana

"No, just, hadn't been in one before" said Nicholas, he was staring at the tank on the table, trying to figure out what it was. Miho spotted this and smiled, she reached out and pressed the turret down, the tank gave of a main cannon blast sound and a waitress swiftly appeared.

"What can I get you?" she asked her notepad ready.

"We'd like a mix of cakes please, 1 lemon, 2 chocolate and 1 New York cheese cake slices please" said Hana

"And a diet coke please" added Nicholas. The waitress noted down and saluted, she said,

"Right away, please wait" She turned and left to hand in the order. Nicholas scanned the cafe; it was filled with tank posters and pictures of famous tankers.

"They put that one up after the finals last year." Said Hana. She pointed over to a picture on the wall. Nicholas turned and looked at the photo. On it was a picture of Anglerfish team on their panzer IV, the victory standard floating in the breeze on top of the tank.

"Back on my old carrier ship, we had a pub the old Air cadets and I went to after practice, when we won the Kreigsflieger championships 2 years ago, they hung a picture of the squadron with our flag fighter on the wall, and we got the highest honour on the city carrier. A free pint of coke each at the local pub." Said Nicholas.

"You were a Kreigsflieger pilot?" said Miho, "Guess that explains the Spitfire."

"Yup, flown for years" Said Nicholas, "I was given my Spit when I left my last school, a present from my squadron. It's a beautiful plane, treat her right, she'll keep you safe, treat her wrong, she'll kill you before you know what happened. Just like Elizabeth."

"Elizabeth?" said Saori, a confused look on her face.

"Darjeeling" said Nicholas. As Saori let out a sigh of realisation, a small flatbed lorry pulled onto the table, on the trailer were 3 cakes shaped like tanks and a glass of coke. "That is cool"

"Tastes good too" said Mako in her emotionless voice. As she finished Yukari came into the shop with a angry look, she stormed over to the table.

"There you are!" said Yukari "I was worried."

"We were worried about you too" said Nicholas,

"Shut Up!" she shouted,

"Whoa, Yukari, calm down!" said Saori, "Why are you so hostile towards Nicholas?"

"Because I was right, he was hiding something." Said Yukari, Staring eyes ablaze with anger. Staring down Nicholas. It was a credit to him that he didn't even flinch.

"Everyone hides things Yukari; it's kind of rude to through his private life." Said Miho,

"But he was hiding something huge" said Yukari, she tuned and stared at Nicholas, "Like a trial, for the death of 2 men". Everyone's eyes went wide, the entire cafe went silent, staring at the teenager. He smiled and took a swig of his coke.

"I'm surprised" said Nicholas, "My dad covered that up pretty well, but judging how you reacted, you don't know the whole story. I had a reason for shooting those men."

"WHAT! THAT'S OUTRAGOUS! WHAT POSSIBLE REASON COULD YOU HAVE FOR KILLING 2 INNOCENT MEN?!" Screamed Saori,

"Those men were not innocent" Said Nicholas in a deep, dark, cold voice, a voice with no mercy. "They were trying to abduct my Sister." When Nicolas had finished, Miho was worried, Yukari had touched a nerve and Miho wasn't sure if she liked it. Nicholas continued. "Darjeeling was in the front garden, home for the holidays. They hit her over the head with a baseball bat, knocking her out. They were in the process of trying to put her in a Black van when I came outside. I fired at them with my Cadet Service weapon, I hit one in the head, he died instantly, I hit the second in the neck, grazing his spine, he was dying, and nothing could stop that. My grandfather, who had heard the gunshot came out, seeing that the man was dying, he put him out of his misery. We later found out that the men were part of a child kidnapping ring, selling underage girls into the sex trade. So think about that, before you condemn me." Everyone in the cafe went silent. Shocked at the outburst.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know" said Yukari, suddenly regretting her decision. Nicholas took a deep breath and said,

"Well now you know. Now, who knows the way to Jasmine Dragon Street?" Asked Nicholas. They all put their hands up. Nicholas smiled and knocked down the rest of his coke. "Great, then you can show me the way." The girls looked at each other confused.

"It's all residential, why you would want to go there?" asked Hana,

"Because," said Nicholas, "That's where my house is."