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This is my first foray into writing VB fiction. Though this Belle isn't in the game, I thought this would be an interesting tale to write about. This is loosely based on what happened to the real-life vessel, though it has a VB twist. Enjoy and please critique. Last Ride of the Wakeful Starring: HMS Wakeful (H88) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Wakeful_(H88) Wakeful looked at her watch and rubbed her weary eyes. As she breathed in the cool English air, she listened to her crew loading supplies onto her deck as she stared at the French coast. Her orders: rescue as many English soldiers as possible while fighting off the hordes of Morganas attempting to stop the evacuation. “Wakeful,” her captain – a younger man dressed in an unblemished uniform. “We’re ready to set off.” She, not that much of a talker, nodded silently as her crew powered her up and moved towards the French coast. ** As she sailed toward the fire and fury, Wakeful looked to her side and saw other ships – destroyers, an anti-aircraft cruiser, and some auxiliary vessels. She even saw Belles at the head of some vessels. The destroyer walked on her deck to gaze in the eyes of her sailors – young, scared, but determined to save their countrymen. The destroyer herself felt her age as she took every step. After all, she was built long-ago and was only mobilized from reserve status due to this emergency. However, the warship was determined to do her job and do it well. ** In a few hours, the coast of France before Wakeful and her sailors began to bring in tired, ragged soldiers onto her decks. “Ensure that they’re secured,” she informed her captain as evacuees clambered into every nook and cranny. “We’ll take on as many as we can.” As she began to set off, the destroyer saw bombers in the air heading for her. While they looked like those used by their enemies – the hated Lufwaffe, these planes looked more skeletal and spectral – almost wraith-like in the way they moved and sound. While the soldiers ducked and scrambled for cover, Wakeful and her soldiers fired whatever they got at the villains. “Splashed two!” a sailor proclaimed as two of the bombers crashed into the beach. Cheers went out, but they were soon subdued once another ship – the Belle-manned destroyer Havant – exploded in a blast of fire. Without looking, Wakeful cringed as she heard the screams of man and Belle mixed together with the blaze. “We’re leaving!” she cried out as the Wakeful quickly sped out of the area, leaving behind the carnage for a small while. ** It was night when the Wakeful and her precious cargo made it to the English coast. At the docks, aid workers moved quickly to get the troops and wounded off the destroyer. “Get ready to set out again,” she said as her crew nodded silently. However, one sailor – wide-eyed with panic and covered with smoke – stumbled to her with terror in his voice. “Are you mad?!” he cried out. “We should leave this to better ships!” Without thinking, the warship slapped the man, sending him to the ground. “If you can’t work, you have no place on my ship,” the destroyer said through clenched teeth. “Get him off my decks.” As the sailor was taken off, her captain attempted to confront Wakeful, but she brushed him aside. “Just get ready to leave,” she said. “We can’t afford to show weakness.” ** On the next trip, Wakeful didn’t go on her deck, instead staying in her private cabin. While she always prided herself on her stoicism, grit, and alertness in the face of danger, she suddenly felt nervous and sick to her stomach. Was it the fact that she saw a sister die? Was it the attack by the Morgana planes? Was it the terrified sailor who confronted her after the ordeal? While older than her colleagues, she had a great fear of the unknown, especially if she perished in this action. What would happen once it’s all over? Will she just vanish or is there a fate worse than that in store for her? “I can’t afford to lose face,” she muttered to herself as she got up and headed for the door, hearing the shots of gunfire as they neared the French coast again. “For the sake of me and my men.” ** Once again, Wakeful and her men went to work as they took in more soldiers. Due to better positioning by the resident anti-air cruiser Calcutta and the timely arrival of the Royal Air Force, the spectral planes that harassed their efforts were kept to a minimum. As she set off, the warship turned around and headed toward home. Wakeful was surprised that the Morganas didn't send more air units to overwhelm the defenses. “Maybe we were just lucky,” she told her captain as the men were getting comfortable with crumpets, jam, and tea. “Maybe we will survive another day.” ** Suddenly, the engines of a small vessel – one that Wakeful knew didn't belong to her or her colleagues – was heard as a dark fog began to overtake the destroyer. “Torpedo boat!” cried the lookout as secondary guns began to ring out. Wakeful turned around and looked at the new assailant. It was a ghostly-looking vessel, but was armed with two deadly torpedo launchers and various cannons. The torpedo boat’s cannons rang out, raking the destroyer with fire as debris flew around. She ducked as a bit of shrapnel passed over her. However, her men and the soldiers weren’t so lucky as rounds, metal, and wood ripped through the sailors. Even her captain took a piece of wood to the arm, though he was alive from the impact. ** After a few minutes, the vessel broke off its attack and took off for the fog as Wakeful fired her main guns, though she missed the target. “Is the bastard gone?” a cry came as groans were heard all around. The warship doubted it and her suspicions were right as she heard a torpedo being fired. “Hard to port!” she cried as her helmsman tried his best to avoid the deadly payload steaming toward them. As the torpedo whizzed by, the destroyer took a deep breath, but then was rocked by an explosion that threw some of her men in the sea and started a giant fire on her deck. Wakeful picked herself up and looked toward the sea as she saw the torpedo boat steaming toward her, having delivered one torpedo to its target. Now that the destroyer was disabled, it was on its way to finish the job. In a weary fit, the warship directed her main guns to fire again at the assailant, but it was to no avail as the remaining soldiers and the last of her sailors, the captain included, were gunned down around her. As the triumphant enemy moved alongside its stricken opponent to finish her off, tears began to fall from Wakeful’s face and she fell to her knees as her greatest fear was coming true. “I-I don’t want t-to go,” she sobbed as the cannons hit her ammunition storage, resulting in a big explosion that finished off the destroyer in a blazing ball of fire.