Chapter 274: Storyteller of the Sea
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There was once a ship heralded as the "storyteller" simply due to her long age. Spanning over a hundred years, it witnessed many tales that left a mark on history. It is similar to the "Lucky E" that partook in both World War I and II.

Furthermore, it belonged to the first timeline—the world that witnessed its end under the leviathans' assault. It is the origin of every faction who are now fighting against each other. From that moment, that 'identity' is destined to fall into Shiro's lap.

Knowing untold secrets, its nickname was truly suitable for it...

Old Salt.

*****

"Don't blame me for this. You came to me yourself."

Shiro mumbled as he saw space being twisted. A blue translucent figure emerged out of nowhere, forming the figure of a girl with a seemingly huge black jellyfish on top of her head.

Arbiter Temperance XIV Full Art.png

She proceeded to say something that he was too accustomed to hearing:

"Who are you?"

"Isn't this a bit impolite?" He replied. "Appearing in front of a stranger and suddenly asking this question. You know, there could be a better way of asking."

The girl took his words as sarcasm. Holographic screens popped up in front of her as she attempted to analyze Shiro's existence. A second later, she found an incongruency.

"You should not have been here."

Strangely, his existence made him stand out like a sore thumb. For those who could gather information, they would see that Shiro is "not from this world". It was similar to forcefully placing an unfit puzzle piece on a set. Even with its unsuitable size, it managed to come together with the other pieces.

"Incorrect. I should have been here. It is truly a pity that I could only arrive at this world now."

Hearing her words, Shiro was ticked off. If he had not come back, his home world would have been destroyed. He was angry at himself right now, but a portion of that anger went to the unknown entity that sought to prevent his plans to save the world.

"Your origin... It is impossible that this world had summoned you."

Besides his strangeness, the other thing that she partially found out is Shiro's power. It far outclassed every known KANSEN summoned in all timelines. That was the result of his different authorities adapting to his world's known rules.

"Maybe. Maybe not. What was important is that—"

Shiro pointed his anti-materiel rifle at the Arbiter and focused a fraction of his power into it, which included Mysteries and Fenrir.

"—you targeted someone you should not."

The magic squares overlaid on top of each other before it refocused itself.

"Try dodging this one."

Bang-!

Upon pulling the trigger, the converged power went straight to her. She did not even have any time to react as the bullet disrupted space and time itself. There was simply no way to predict such an attack.

It contacted Arbiter: Temperance XV and made her disappear in the face of this world. Nay, the face of every single world. [Mysteries] worked out in a way that obliterates every single "possibility" (i.e., time), an aspect that is often manipulated in this world.

"You all thought of yourself as invincible gods... Well, I would destroy them once they show up."

His bright amber eyes stared at the skies before paying attention to his surroundings. The bullet morphed into an F-14 Tomcat, a supersonic jet seen in modern times.

"Fret not, for I am not an enemy."

Immediately, he heard "hushed" voices not far from his right. By the time the thin morning fog dispersed, he saw three KANSENs.

"E-eek! We're done for!"

"Don't immediately jump to assumptions, San Diego-san. Please."

"Laffey is... tired."

Each of them had a different reaction. Though, Ayanami was the most composed KANSEN out of the three.

"Was the one from earlier a—"

"It's not a Siren." Shiro replied upon predicting her question. "Those guys would mostly sit back until their planned time comes. You can still enjoy this moment of peace."

For a moment, they could not process his words.

"What do you mean by that..?" San Diego asked.

San Diego

With a smile, he explained:

"Sirens, the one whom you have 'defeated', is currently watching your folly in the shadows. To better explain it..."

Zoom-!

The Tomcat zoomed out until it entered a crack in space. 

Boom-!

Shockwaves rippled across the blue sea. It affected their stances, pushing them back for a few meters. Yet, Shiro remained still, indirectly showing how strong he was. The fighter jet reappeared from another crack with slight damage. It carried a small piece of glowing blue metal on top of it.

Picking it up, Shiro examined its composition before showing it to others.

"A remnant of a Siren..?"

Ayanami was one of the Destroyers that fought on the frontlines, thus she knew what that is quick. Her faction also brought some to conduct studies.

"Correct." He said calmly. "Just now, I destroyed one Siren base hiding under the veil of concealment."

Hearing him state something exaggerated in a matter-of-fact tone made them react blankly at him. Albeit, his previous feat gave some credibility to it.

The aircraft carrier was unveiled as Shiro took it out from his robe. As soon as the jet landed, it turned into a ray that went back at his body.

"USS..?"

The familiarity placed into the design of the carrier was reminiscent of how the USS warships were built. It also bore heavy similarities to their strongest KANSEN, Enterprise.

"The cat's out of the bag, it seems."

Shiro wore a thin smile on his face as he declared:

"I am Shiki, but I am also known as USS Nimitz."

Nimitz, the Admiral who won the decisive battle in Midway. Everyone in this place was very familiar with him as they had all been involved in 'World War II'.

"A modern-day ship..."

"Huh..."

"...This explains everything."

Unbeknownst to them, the man in front of them is currently wearing two masks. When his real identity is revealed, it would surely set off a storm.

"Farewell."

After waving his hand, Shiro disappeared under their plain sight.

*****

"USS Nimitz... To think it was her..."

The Commander massaged his forehead as he learned the identity of the KANSEN behind the occurrence from earlier.

"Is this how her legends were translated to reality? We will have a second Enterprise at this point."

A KANSEN's strength depends on two points: their physical manifestation and their legends. The stronger the two of them, the stronger their power would be as a KANSEN. In a sense, it is similar to Heroic Spirit summoning, but it works with warships instead. The medium, Wisdom Cubes, differs from the normal catalysts and Saint Quartz as well.

"What would be the course of action?" Z23 asked, readying the tablet in her arm.

"Remain neutral with her. She might be a "rogue" but she did not cause any harm to us. What's more, it seems as if she knows more things about the Sirens..." He muttered with helplessness. "To think they are still alive. Is everything during that war a play?"

He did not know that his joking statement contained the truth.

"I understand."

Z23 worked as normal. She started listing each agenda in her list. However, under her pair of glasses is a gaze of affirmation.

'It's him.'

While Castoria went to her world, Z23 also chose to safeguard their world. Even so, it was already late by the time she arrived. She could not afford to do some big moves due to how fragile their world is. Furthermore, it also denied Z23 and Akagi of their existence due to how they "restarted" to another world. It did not recognize them as legitimate inhabitants any longer.

In the end, they could only save their power until Shiro and his [Genesis Wisdom Cube] arrives.

'I'm sure of it... That's my husband.'

*****

A/N: Hello. Firstly, I am not dead yet. That whole dead week was resulted by my sickness recurring and my school tasks (thesis defense and other projects) coming at me all at once. My body gave up, thus I wasn't able to come back to writing immediately. Thankfully, all of those are over now. Only my finals in this semester remains, so updates would become more consistent than the past month (maybe a chapter every 2 days or so). I also went through my drafts once again and got some inspiration to add new events that would occur simultaneously to this Azur Lane arc. If someone's wondering if I caught up on Arknights' crazy lore dump, I barely did. I still haven't read some, but it looks like the plot predictions on my notes (written last year) got some things correct (such as Doctor's civilization and some Sarkaz stuff). Then again, I am lucky enough to apply those in this fic (since Arknights' main story would start later).

Happy reading~!

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