Young Writers Society


Language Violence Mature Content

Sakuran tears chapter 1

by wilsonsimpkins


Light splashed unevenly on the ground through the gaps of the barred window. Unnatural opaque eldritch-like walls stretched for miles, icy blue eyes belonging to a snow-white head, scanned the room in a parallel manner.

The boy wondered — was it a fool's gambit to hope, to dream of a better life, he had heard tales from the orphans of a world not so dark– if one could live with the constant threats of invasion from an alien species and their cultist collaborators– He looked down briefly to his tattered clothes, its yoke reddened by bloodstains. Then he turned to the wall, noticing the innumerable tallies laden within a few meters.

How many days has it been, to be honest, it gets a lot harder after the triple digits — 1063, no 1097. what life had been stolen away from him? Was it one that he'd regret ignorance towards?

"Hiba, you haven't eaten, have mine, it's still warm."

He looked at Hiba, idealistic as ever — he smiled at his brother, inching his soup toward him.

Hiba opened the wooden bowl with a shaky hand, taking a spoonful of the warm broth. It made his mouth watery as he ate the contents of the bowl, licking his lips afterward before looking up at Nagasaki who was watching him intently. His pale brows were slightly furrowed, making his small nose appear more prominent than usual.

"Why do you look so worried?" He asked, handing him back his bowl.

"You're still weak, your fever hasn't gone down yet." Nagasaki replied, leaning forward to get a closer look at his face.

Hiba shook his head, waving him away.

"It's fine, really." He said, trying to avoid eye contact. "I'm just tired."

Nagasaki sighed, his expression softening.

"That's no good," Nagasaki added quietly, averting his gaze. This wasn't how siblings acted together-it felt … unnatural and almost jarring to witness when he'd lived his entire young childhood growing into a teen surrounded entirely by orphans under the same grueling circumstances as he.

"…But it probably isn't too late… for the Kansen to save us." Hiba stated. Nagasaki stared at him blankly as he raised an eyebrow meaningfully — Hiba shrugged internally without explaining himself any further, though, recalling exactly what prompted those words of sympathy in the first place. For some reason — a lackadaisical explanation coming to mind, even in retrospect, that seemed ludicrous based purely upon observed fact or rationality.

Ships. Ships crashed every day, lost from navigation despite perfect visibility with precise knowledge regarding position. Lifeboats were launched and liferafts deployed, but inevitably, it often wasn't enough, either due to malfunction or improper use-something that's happening right here in the present.

This, however, went out the window with mirror seas. If one went in, it was essentially crossing the rubicon line. You may be suddenly met with a rough shore, deadly seaquakes, or even a typhoon. And say that by some god-sent miracle it ceased to exist. The prison was hidden very well, say, for a few crevices and recon drones that passed by. The only way anyone would find out about it was if the Sirens handed the information to them on a silver platter.

There weren't many ways to get here. After all, they were essentially cornered by mirror seas. Nagasaki could only fall upon one point, they knew the odds, and if everything else failed … If Azur Lane couldn't save them, that's what being a true brother meant– giving all the comfort you can muster until, eventually, whatever awaited passed along with the stars themselves

Unbeknownst to the two, however, fate had other plans in store.

***

Riggings surfed against the angry white foam of the Pacific. The once golden Sakura blossom was now tainted with macroalgae and coral — the blue kimono surrounding it, however, was fine for the most part, say, for a few minor tears.

Kaga grimaced, a brief flash of light and applause from her cannons joined with the thunder and strike of lightning soon after. Yellow-veined creatures screamed alive as dozens of pieces of burning tungsten soared overhead before gravity forced its hand; a crown of fire erupted in the center, with humanoids and production models alike being burned indifferently.

This was not how Sirens were supposed to act. Akagi had seen enough of her sister's exploits to know this. They had with them the same overwhelming gap in technology was present… however, they moved smarter. Exploiting gaps in the fleet's defensive line, testing systematically for weaknesses, and almost never assaulting the same place twice. Akagi craned her neck. Something was off.

"Kaga, something isn't right, their behavior is too radical from normal Sirens."Akagi stated, only to be disregarded by her sister.

"I have no time to quarrel today bootlicker" Kaga snarled.

'Listen here canvas I-"

She was cut off, grunting as she forced her rigging left to avoid the white-hot plasma. Kaga in kind returned fire: the source of the attack, did not last much longer.

"So what?" Kaga remarked" Is the mighty Amagi class finally giving in, you boast so highly of your ability to turn tail and run. I'm sure you would be much more reliable taking potshots with the rest of the fleet.

Akagi twitched, her gaze looking as if she could eviscerate Kaga. She turned her cannons homing in on something, and a bright flash erupted, her shot arching over the Siren fleet impacting the base of the monolith structure. This did not go unnoticed for the wrong reasons: and the source of the discipline was not expected. Akagi frowned as the quiet but rage-stricken voice of her sister burst through the comms.

"Akagi explain yourself."

"Nee-sama. How can I let her off with sullying your na-

"You have a mission." Amagi sighed" Reconcile with each other and push forward, your sisters have bled enough today."

"The future of the Sakura Empire lies in your hands. Reconcile and live happily ever after."

The two siblings begrudgingly shook hands with the tiny embers of resentment waned. They gave a nod toward one another before continuing their assault.

***

Nagasaki held his brother in his arm. His perception of the world still blurry and vibrating even after the structures shuddering ceased.

"That was naval artillery" he mulled, peeking through the gaps in the bars. He could make out blackened patches on the sharpened rock and above what was undoubtedly smoke rose from them before fading. He slumped down wide-eyed. This godforsaken prison was being assaulted.

He did not know why, how they found it, or the reasoning behind the assault. In principle, this was an impossibility. How did they navigate the mirror sea? Bypassing the heavily guarded lanes leading to them? Nagasaki pondered for a bit, the orphans had no reason to lie to him. However, it was not out of the question that their information was outdated.

"That must be it." He clasped a bawled hand into his palm.

It was no secret that the various acquaintances the boys met were human once also. He heard tales of mythical heroines who rode the sea like valkyries. Tales of beings who could call down judgment from the sky, and sentences with their cannons. As inspiring as it was, logically, the information was from times forgotten, which meant one of two things.

The Kansen either died out and humanity was lost, which was unlikely; if they had lost, what reason did the Sirens have for continuing the prison's island-like facade. Furthermore, the Sirens from what he could tell were trying to strengthen Azur lane- forcefully. He had heard chatter from the orphans, that the Sirens, as technologically advanced as they were, could not handle the minor threat the Kansen posed to them, which essentially amounted to sticks and stones.

"Nissan, what's wrong?" Hiba craned his neck from his brother's embrace, worried about his brother's stupor.

"Nothing," Nagasaki replied; for the first time, he meant it. He did not lie whitely to spare his brothers' feelings.

Hiba nodded and looked away with a sigh. Based on the fact that the explosions halted furthered the notion the day would pass without further incident, but that was not entirely true.

There was one thing he noticed during the long hours spent together in the cold stone room: Nagasaki was always tense and jumpy.

At first, he thought it was merely nerves, since they were imprisoned, and that was understandable. But it was far more profound than nervousness. The tension radiated off him. Hiba knew he hid it well most of the time–he knew after what they had been put through that the smile was more of a facade to relieve him than anything. But today was different; the moments burdened with one-sided talking had dissipated along with the repressing of one's true thoughts.

Hiba took note of every twitch and shift of his body. He saw it now: Nagasaki's eyes darted back and forth. His fingers curled tight into fists. When he spoke, his words came out short and clipped. And when he didn't speak, he stared at nothing.

This wasn't normal behavior for someone locked up in a cell-their behavior in the cell could rarely be called normal, but this was different. Something was bothering him, and Hiba felt compelled to help his brother work through whatever it was.

"Hey," he said softly. "Are you okay?"

His voice sounded strange coming from his mouth; it felt odd being the one giving the comfort.

Nagasaki blinked slowly. Then he turned to face Hiba.

"Yes..." he answered quietly. "I'm fine."

But he knew he wasn't.

And he could not figure out why.

Meanwhile, Nagasaki did something that was contradictory to his personal rules. He prayed, his belief in his gods had been blundered these past 3 years, for no matter how much the orphans cried out, whether they be Catholic, Protestant, Christian, even cries of the most dedicated of Islam and Shintoist seemed to be omitted. But he did not have much of a choice. The next hours for their rescuers would be jarring, and if they finally got into the facility itself, the true extent of their mental forbearance would be tested.

***

Kaga winced painfully as she got ashore; it had been 16 hours and it was now close to 4 in the morning; Akagi looked too exhausted to remark, her once beautiful crimson attires now in tatters. Alas, they still had a mission to complete.

In front of them were two massive steel squares clad in stygian. Below it was a tall structure sharing many similarities with the building itself, only smaller, and with a hexagonal surface, blinking a dark shade of amber every passing moment. Akagi walked over to the alien machinery stretching out her palm over its surface. The blinking stopped, her ears twitching in response to the two obsidian slabs droned to life, the hallway behind It lit up revealing… ah cathedral-like room

Something about this whole situation felt eerily foreign. The attack was more coordinated than the usual Siren assault; they attacked sparingly and did so in the most effective way possible, and now this room. It looked ominously human. The normally neon lighting replaced by more ancient gas lamps, the floor was clad in black and white tile, and the structure itself had a strong Grecian influence.

The sisters took some time walking without aim throughout the floor. It was obvious the Siren blood spilt was not for mere tiling and comfort.

Kaga was not known to be apt with tactics. However, she could tell when something was amiss. This mission was complex well before they stepped here. The fleet itself was assembled with little regard for quality or plan. The admiralty said to capture the fortress, and both implied and said directly not to destroy it on a number of occasions. Not to mention the fact that they cast aside reserved notions acting as this had been done before.

In fact, they seemed scared more than anything but of what or better yet who? What organization or individual had the ability to threaten the admiralty. She felt her blood cool down the more she mulled.

These men were among the most powerful in Japan, they answered to no one, not the national diet, not the armed forces, and certainly not the people of their nation. These men had not walked on the streets of Tokyo for years, but been chauffeured in their grandeur cars to and from their luxury apartments, or to their ceremonial cottages outside the cities. They barely shopped, and when they did it was with hefty escorts, and only shopped in the most lavish of stores and were only served by well-established doctors in clinics for the wealthy, because of all of this they were considered masters of their own destiny.

For someone to threaten them…

Kaga shook it off. It was too early to make conjecture yet. She would have to wait until the base revealed its secrets. But were to lo-

She stopped dead in her tracks. An always-present voice assaulted her endlessly from anywhere it pleased. It spoke of malice and cruelty beyond imagination. Pounding her head into submission. But she followed it like a moth into fire; then, like fire always does, it flickers out. Her hearing, smell, and thoughts all went dark. All that was left was sight.

In front of her stood a boy similar, albeit younger than herself. His eyes looked beyond her with alarm and dread. His filth-ridden hands prodding even more with staff, the mix of urine and fecal matter was a vile combo.

She craned her neck, left, to see a line of children, despite nationality, creed, or gender, all sang the same song of melancholia. A cloaked, stygian-haired man overlooked them all.

An awful crack and scream as the boy fell into tainted water coughing as he stood back up; only to be back on his knees with another strike. His clothes unravel almost instantaneously. His fangs bared on his own tongue as he fought every urge to scream, looking back at a boy with green fox ears, his message clear.

"Don't cry."

Kaga arched upward as her haze faded. She stared in front of her, and she saw a hand plump and coated in something black it felt tense and almost sorrowful; she looked up, locking with her sibling's eyes.

"Are you alright?"

"I'm fine." This, is what sisterhood is like? To feel empathy without interference. Unfortunately, she had no time to enjoy this moment however rare it was. She got to her feet as her instincts guided her to the same place, she touched uneven steel as an opening at the end of the hallway split open, the floor revealing its neon-red veins pulsing every few moments. Kaga could barely make curvature in the distance. The two sisters walked albeit slowly, to better heed their surroundings.

***

Kaga felt herself getting weaker again; she tried to resist the urge to fall forward and rest. She made it to the end of the corridor; her vision blurred as she approached the door, her senses dulled by the thick metal walls, she opened the door and stepped inside. The room before her was a massive circular chamber with a single chair, and a large table in the center covered with illuminated wires, alien switches, and obsidian dials, the air smelled stale and old, as if the building itself had forgotten how to breathe.

But by the chair, there was a holographic panel, laden with intangible symbols. Her hand hovered over the panel, the system hummed as it came online, a robotic voice echoed through the metal hollow of the building.

"System activated, analyzing subject status

Analyzation complete"

Numerous data filled the screen it was an archive of some sort, and there was a menu located at the screen's upper left side. What was odd is there were categories, test date, test type, model, and model number.

11/19/76-EX Insertion FK-151 Failed subject terminated

Kaga stared at the last word wondering its implications. While Akagi was too caught up gathering information to pay attention

2/22/77-EX insertion test HP 242-Failed subject terminated.

"What does this mean?"

4/28/77-EX insertion test TA 200-Failed subject terminated.

6/28/77-EX insertion test 364 MI-Failed subject terminated.

She mulled over countless pages of data. Trying to scrape up anything she could.

8/24/77-EX insertion test 353 JB-Failed subject terminated.

10/30/77-EX insertion test 320 MK-Failed subject terminated.

2/12/78-EX insertion test 357 ES-Failed subject terminated.

Then she had an idea, she looked and, yes there it was, she looked up success and found two results that left much more questions than answers.

6/4/79-EX insertion test 368 KG-Success subject transformation complete.

6/4/79-EX insertion test 367 AM-Success subject transformation complete.

Those numbers and letters made all the other data conceivable, and its implications, what people had likely suffered through, whether the perpetrator be Siren or something else, they had not only played god, they had probably altered the course of history itself. Soon each revelation became clear: why the admiralty was so fervent with the mission, and their orders to capture the base.

But it also raised more; no Siren no normal one anyway did this, if they were Siren the goal they have just accomplished would make humanity stronger than ever regardless of the amount of failures they succeed greatly. but, this wasn't the time for ponderance these people have suffered for far too long. It's time they received salvation.

"Akagi " Kaga called, only to be left in silence. Where did she wander off to? Now of all the times the bootlicker lets her guard down. She probed the room, vehemently looking for the brunette battle cruiser. She crossed her arms; the hefty metal walls were dulling her senses. Finding her by hearing was out of the question. Her scent would be drowned out by all the other unnatural structures here. So she looked to her surprisingly faithful ally, the Siren monitor, a brief dance of fingers engraved security on the menu before the feed of multiple cameras filled the monitor.

She briefly gazed thoroughly over each feed, attempting to find her exuberant sister, there; on the third feed she noticed her standing out in the open. She typed again into the terminal, giving her a layout of the base, then made her way through the halls.

Thoughts again pounded her mind as she curved through the maze-like infrastructure. Why was she standing there? More simplistic than her previous muses but no less baffling. She veered her body left, then continued before doing so again. She did this erratic dance with the dark corridors until she was face-to-face with another door.

She opened up her cold rage clearly defined in the room's very well-done lighting. She looked at her sister, still in stupor. Her gaze had not moved from the frontal position it was in Kaga looked In front of her as her body went rigid.

The discord and melancholic chants forced the sister's gaze downward on the young orphans. There were hundreds of them. Malnutrition, bone-pale skin, and vomit were common sights. They looked to see unbolted capsules; a blue pulse emanating from their sides; inside the capsules were hefty restraints and masks. Behind the capsules, themselves lay a variety of remedies and medical equipment.

Then the foxes froze to the side were two new arrivals. Both clad with crowned fox ears and nine tails and the same old tattered clout. What looks to be the eldest one was clad in soot-tainted snow-white fur and icy blue eyes, his stature tall and gave off a protective aura to the one next to him. He donned green fur with accompanying green eyes; he wore a scarf covering his mouth and drooping just below his waist.

The boys stared upward, gazing upon the foxes for what seemed like an eternity. Kaga's jaw dropped; she and Akagi, whether they liked it or not, now had brothers.

Their brotherly bond became clear as day when the elder spoke.

He stood there looking at them. He began to say something. His voice sounded deep and gruff.

"Hiba, it's over."

***

Mikasa had mistaken her evaluation, personal intelligence given to her had suggested the admiralty's clandestine efforts were to hide something. But this… she simply had no words. The commander who, as much as he saw, did not accept it when he first heard the melancholic static.

Some girls vomited after they saw the archives, and others after they decrypted the security footage. But Mikasa could only stare, venom and bitterness was all she felt.

This blood stained her hand. Not the honorable blood spilled at Tsushima, but the blood of hapless children. Her blood boiled as she looked at the finished obituary. Her hand trembling as she read.

Name: Hinata Aoki

Parents: Amya A. and Chotan A.

Place of birth: Kobe, Kobe university hospital

Date of birth:10/24/64, 11:28am

Date of death:10/28/77, Redacted

Cause of death: unethical human experimentation

Name: Itsu Haya

Parents: Endo H. and Jiryu H.

Place of birth: Himeji, Himeji central hospital

Date of birth: 10/14/70,3:26 am

Date of death: 11/19/76. Redacted

Cause of death: unethical human experimentation

And she could not stomach anymore when taking a peek at the size and quantity of the files.

The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic; the death of children is a calamity no matter the quantity. She shook her head fervently, allocating all her mental vigor to her goal. There had to be a connection.

Her eyes darted across the evidence board.

There had to be.

Then she noticed something, a picture of Hinata, but more importantly, the date of disappearance.

12/22/70, 11:59 AM

And the date of Amaya's death

12/23/70,1:20 am

Cause of death: suspected suicide

Normally she would understand with the grief of losing your child, but when looking at other examples.

Alleron Babin

Date of disappearance:9/28/69 8:35 P.M, Osaka; Chuo ward

Bonar Babin

Date of death:9/29/69,11:35 am, Osaka; Chuo ward

"Excuse me, Shirou?" Mikasa requested her confidential informant as a skinny but somewhat muscular man came through the door.

The ginger man yawned before drowsily wiping the gunk from his trough. He was used to all-nighters, but not in succession. This was the longest caste of the sixteen he'd been assigned this week. But he knew Mikasa personally and owed her a favor that he'd rather pay sooner rather than later; given a Kansens lifestyle, he'd rather not be thrown into situations necessitating him getting near Sirens.

"So Mikasa-San, finally have a lead?"

"Perhaps," Mikasa responded,

"Shirou, don't you find the nature of the parent's death's to be quite odd?" the horned woman pointed to the evidence board, Shirou took a few steps before squinting.

"They all died near the date of their child's disappearance."

"How did they die so soon."Mikasa mused "Shirou, can you tell me when was the disappearance of Alleron was confirmed."

Shirou nodded as he rapidly typed the information into his monitor, blinking a couple of times before responding.

"1 O'clock sharp on the 30th Mikasa-san"

Mikasa caressed her chin.

Every child on this list had two things in common. Their parents were dead, followed by a disappearance. Normally this could be pinned on their northern neighbor, but they unified long ago and were in too good of relations, to risk their reputation. Still, there was always a possibility.

"Shirou, did the children disappear near beaches?"

"no, not that I know of, all in urban centers or in crowded suburban areas, " The Ginger said before lighting a cigar.

"I'll say this, whoever took the kids did a damn good job of not being noticed, I've cycled through the security footage of the last time any of the kids were seen fifteen times. I saw nothing."

"Loop recording?" Mikasa inquired

"In the urban sprawls they lived in, unlikely. I would have definitely seen a car or person repeat movements."

This meant one thing, whoever or whatever-maybe a bit of both-Had eyes and ears in the deepest crevices of the Sakura empire. It wouldn't be too far-fetched given their effectiveness in the assassinations and kidnappings, to say that they had a fully functioning intelligence network, sleeper agents and all.

"Have you found any cultist groups in the area?"

"Every law enforcement department from every ward has already gotten word of this tragedy Mikasa san, they are already looking into it," Shirou replied, relieving himself with another puff.

With that said, Mikasa was done for the night. She gathered up her belongings before dawning her naval cap and exiting. Shirou, running towards the veteran with a pennant firmly grasped in his arms

"You forgot this."

Mikasa gave a chuckle taking the hat before brushing off the little dust atop it. She turned to Shirou with a mild gleam before speaking.

"Thank you for fulfilling my Request Shirou on such short notice."

The ginger male waved his hand dismissively." It was the least I could do to repay the debt, after what you did for me.

"Don't be so orthodox, as the grandson of an intelligence officer at Tsushima, saving your life was a tally long overdue."

The two friends gave each other a gentle embrace, both walking their separate ways.

Mikasa contemplated her options for a moment.

She did not know how deep into cover their spies were, nor the extent of their undercover operations or their political and financial ties. She did not even have solid evidence to back up her claim. so she would gather some.

It was time for her- for the last time she could not be certain of- to rise to the title of war god once more; For Aoki-No; for the Orphans.

***

Light poured in through the now morning sky, filling light in the now-captured base. Commander Hoshino was still quite dubious of what he had been told would be walking through his front door any minute now. He sighed, taking a moment to muse. Five hundred and ninety children died here.

He was best known for his ability to stomach things. It earned him the highest of acclaim from the admiralty along with the most labor-intensive missions. How long since Macau, was it seven or eight years? Did it really even matter? Hoshino gave a melancholic sigh.

The Sakura Empire had been protecting the Pacific for the past 18 years. He remembered the day the rearmament treaty was signed, and the glee on his grandfather's face when he joined the Sakuran navy.

Then, like war always does, it throws its romantic persona aside and bares its true fangs. First Kai, then Itoh, Captain Mita…, soon they were all gone, taken slowly for what seemed to be for no reason other than a sick joke of fate until he remained. The saddest part is, to him this was no mental rant of self-pity. more for his rash decisions. He had sworn on Mita's grave; he would find some goal, some holy grail able to defeat the Sirens.

But as time whisked away, so did hope. The hordes of ships just increased, and their attacks only grew more powerful. No matter how many ships the Kansen sunk, they would just keep coming back. And some sick part of him had believed the admiralty had a plan, that Azur Lane was not throwing one last desperate bone, and believed that humanity could win. Holy grails only ever existed in dreams.

Alas, it was not a strong stomach or hyper-engrossment on a singular goal that gave him the will to move forward. It was more self-distraught and pitiful than anything. In fact, it was quite a testament to how high expectations are often bred for the simple reason People needed heroes.

He could only laugh at the irony.

To his people, he was an exemplary man.

To the citizens of Macau a god.

To himself, just another sad man who had seen more than he should. The same could describe his thought process last night

Last night any melancholy, self–reflection, or time to mourn was drowned out with alcohol. He craned his neck, seeing the blue and red-tinted glass scrutinize him from behind the mulberry curtain generously left behind by the previous owner.

He wondered, did he have any right to feel more grief than the young orphans here, life was not kind, and certainly not fair. He could respect these orphans. It was bittersweet, their parents are dead along with childhood memories. They had been beaten, maimed, and forced into labor. But they still had hope, aspirations, and resolve he thought humans were incapable of.

He heard a knock at the door. He steeled his face, his frown forced into a neutral facade as … what do you know five foxes entered the room.

His thoughts were soon interrupted when … well what do you know, five foxes entered his office.

"I think it's best that I speak to you 3 alone." The commander said as the boys left the room along without noticeable opposition.

"What is this about shikikan-sama?" Akagi blinked.


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No person can be a great leader unless he takes genuine joy in the successes of those under him.
— W. A. Nance