"I see... Nothing much changed, huh."
Shiro murmured as he disconnected from each nation's intranet. By hacking through their confidential information, he found out the current state of this "timeline". Nothing much had changed, except for Anzeel and Aoste missing from this world. Even his old man is up and kicking at this point in time.
What made this different from the first timeline was the Sirens' invasion. Instead of leviathans, this world got Sirens who suddenly appeared one day. Azur Lane, a joint-defensive front, was established to combat them. After a few years, they ended victorious in this war... or so they thought.
"All of them caught up to the current dilemma."
Now that their combined enemy was gone, it is up to them how to handle "Azur Lane" and its mass of dangerous "weapons". They saw the capabilities of KANSENs—a battleship obliterating half of a mountain—during the previous war.
Some nations sought peace, but some wanted to see another war.
History repeats itself.
Fortunately, they have someone.... a person who could forcibly stop the said war.
"Exia... Looks like I'll have to borrow your ideals for a while."
In the end, it is not up to a single person how a war shall start.
Under the tall sakura tree, there lies the commander-in-chief of all IJN ships. Her nine tails swayed ever-so-slightly with the wind. Opening her eyes, she saw the two sister ships under her command. Both of them are sitting in a seiza position in front of the tea table.
"They have sent their will. Another war is bound to happen."
"Humans are inherently foolish. Instead of indulging in their long-fought peace, they chose this instead. What a sight~"
The black-haired woman let out a "pitying" tone. Her scarlet pupils let out a streak of light as a thought passed her mind:
'Won't I see him again?'
It was an open secret that she—Akagi—have deep feelings for its Commander. Their intimate gestures as well as Akagi's fight with other women were something that the Azur Lane base saw every day.
Knowing her thoughts, her sister interjected:
"You can add a condition upon our victory. This does not infringe anyone else's intentions."
"Nobody can separate us~"
Having her plans validated, Akagi no longer has any restraints over claiming the Commander as her own. She sported a dangerous vibe around her.
Meanwhile, the ship girl opposite them maintained a calm stature as she sipped her tea. Then, she let out a sigh.
"A war... it is something that would lead to destruction, lost lives even. Yet... we inherently seek for it."
It is inappropriate to call out humans as the only beings who sought war. They, the KANSENs, were weapons of destruction born for the same reason; a war.
Their historical selves waged one of the biggest wars written in history, claiming tens of millions of lives in the process.
Nagato called out to them as she placed her teacup on top of the table.
"Order everyone to begin the preparations."
The smell of gunpowder started to spread toward the clear blue ocean.
"They went with the interesting route, it seems~"
"...So they have chosen war."
The leader of the KMS fleet looked at the distant sky before seeing her trusted confidant's enthusiastic look. The latter replied to her with a smile, "I already know where this is going!"
"...We shall follow what our fatherland desires. If hell is it that they chose, we shall walk through hell. Pass this down to everyone, Eugen."
After Prinz Eugen left, a brief moment of hesitation appeared within the KMS leader's heart.
'...No. Everything is headed into this outcome since the beginning.'
The pride of a nation—the beast made of steel—Bismarck regained her previous determination.
As a leader, she foresaw this end during their war against the Sirens. Without a common enemy to focus all of their supplies, all that was left is to turn against each other due to mistrust. Of course, this does not mean that they would head into war immediately. Rather, it would be a separation first.
After they gain their independence, it would be a lull state. The silent tensions would then become higher until—
"I need to protect them."
One of the strongest battleships made during her era, KMS Bismarck. For now, she sought the survival of her people.
"Her highness ordered it?"
From the moment Centaur enlisted the others' help, they were met with a surprise.
"...What is it?"
"Are you alright?"
A simple sentence. Yet, the little girl could not help but ask her as she "sensed" a flash of pain in her sister's aura.
"I am... alright. It's just this time of the day."
Illustrious responded to Unicorn's concerned look.
"Is it... Onii-chan's memories again?"
Within those dull eyes that Unicorn held, she still possessed her sharp intuition. As soon as the topic changed to her big brother, her dullness dissipated a bit.
If Shiro was here, he would be surprised to find out about their affliction...
[Affliction (Illustrious META): Constantly remembers her painful memories once a day.]
[Affliction (Unicorn META): Blindness. The colors in her memories are erased, turning everything monochromatic.]
While they reminisced, the words of Centaur brought them back to reality.
"That person... I think he or she knows something that only her highness should. It was an excerpt from Sonnet 18."
The memories that felt so fresh due to her affliction passed through Illustrious' mind. If her guess was right, there was only a single person who speaks of it who was with HMS Queen Elizabeth. She had always been there during their talks, which is why she was very familiar with him.
"C...ommander." She blankly mumbled. "...I understand. I will join in this search."
The sparks of hope lit up within her heart. If that person is who she truly assumes to be...
[SO No. 001]
[Affliction: Azur Lane]
[Special Disposition: Anomaly who could not be properly spied on]
[Time of Death: The bombing of New York, Year 20xx]
[Special Note: "He" might not be from our world.]
"Man, why do we seem to disagree often?"
"It greatly shows how different our ideals are."
The man on the other side as the "creator" replied:
"...For once, I don't disagree with you. Our world might be doomed already. No matter how hard we fight, we will lose."
"I take it as that you are allowing me of my plans?"
"Go ahead. Just... Don't go against her this time."
"I won't. Even if she actively clashes with me, I won't harm her or anyone else. At most, it'll be teaching her a lesson."
"Heh. I'll take your word for now... Aosta."
The recording stopped.
How would someone know that the two people inside the recording both succumbed from this long fight? Yet, their influence runs deeply within the present.
"Something that he prepared as a countermeasure... Our creator was right."
Even though she could not exchange information with her other selves, she has access to the entire Siren database. That included the events of the "first" timeline, the place where Ashes originated from. That was how Observer Zero was made.
"His will emerged only now. What... would it bring to this world?"
Thanks for the chapter!
World War 3 cannot be healthy for an already fragmented world. And I don't think any amount of charisma will defeat the innate suspicion of someone else holding a big gun. So my guess is that Shiro is gonna have to pull out the most American answer: the biggest gun this world has ever seen.