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The Return of the Iron Dog

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You know you're getting the best when the title is a single line! Presenting, the one and only story on this site about the glorious Iron Dog, SMS Derfflinger.

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

A grey overcast darkened the green plains surrounding the naval base at Scapa Flow, ships of the Royal Navy Home Fleet tied up at anchor throughout the base. It was early in October of 1939, and the base stood in a state of shameful disrepair and neglect. So many important navy vessels in one place, and hardly enough patrol ships, gun batteries and barricades to stop intruders. Plodding along through the stone blue waters at a humble ten knots was one of the harbor’s scant patrol ships, the aging minesweeper HMS Kendal.


“This base is short on…well, just about everything to be perfectly up front about it,” Muttered a tall standing figure on the bridge. Commander Thomas Baird had the gaze of a seasoned man despite being in his younger years, his lithe figure bundled up in a thick overcoat to help fight off the ever present chill, “Reminds me of our house when I was younger. Never enough of anything.”


“Did ya think tha Royal Navy would be any different?” His first officer quipped. Evan Mclean was a thicker built, more burly man and a fair bit stouter, freckles dotting his face, “Perhaps some time before the Great War, but after that? Just be happy we have all that we do.”


“Believe me, I’m happy just to have something to eat each day,” Commander Baird shook his head and looked down at the cup of piping hot tea he held. Or rather, previously held, as now it was merely an empty cup, all the liquid drained in an effort to fighting the growing cold. “Huh? Out already,” He shook his head and reached for the kettle he had in the pilothouse with him, only to be left shocked and dismayed by that being empty as well. Said shock at dismay was expressed by a tight lipped frown and wavering eyes, and eventually he’d regained composure enough to turn to Mclean and broach the subject.


“What happened Lieutenant Commander?” The captain demanded to know as he shook the kettle to be extra sure he was genuinely out. The vessel’s pilothouse was as bare and spartan as the base defenses, with enough space for a radio operator, navigator and two officers, but with a little creativity the crew jury rigged a stand for a kettle.


“Well, we had a full kettle, but you turned it all into tea because, well,” Evan said, gesturing in no particular direction.


“Because it’s freezing and despite all the smoke we’re making it still isn’t warm in this boat?”


“Exactly,” The Lieutenant commander nodded, his second in command frowning uncomfortably. The Commander caught this fact and raised a brow curiously.


“You seem unusually worried, that’s unlike you,” The captain said. Immediately, his second in command regaining his composure and his normal expression of confidence.


“Oh nothing sir. It’s just, usually you’d notice the kettle was running out a tad...earlier. Usually you’re very keen about such things. I assume something is on your mind?”


“Go down to the galley and get more hot water,” Baird said, frowning and focusing his gaze out towards the horizon, “I feel as though I will needed here today. They’ve had Ark Royal out hunting some Morgana sightings these past weeks. I don’t think we’ll be waiting much longer to see them.”


“Ark ought to be coming back soon I reckon,” Mclean remarked, “They say that the lass on her is a sharp huntress, but I have yet to hear about her finding anything big.”


“Yes, but she knows they’re out there somewhere, and if Admiral Forbes believes her, who am I to disagree? Let’s just stay ready. And go get that bloody water already.”


“Yes sir,” Evan replied and left the bridge for the galley. Commander Baird stared out at the water and horizon beyond the bridge, wondering if he was right to be on edge today, or if his premonition was merely welled up anxiousness taking its toll on his mind.


HMS Kendal was steaming through Hoy sound, between the mainland and Hoy island. Off in the distance between Cava and Risa island, loomed a great metallic hulk, its presence like the skeleton of a behemoth to the crew of the Kendal. The capsized hull of SMS Derfflinger was hemmed in the confines of drydock, anchored in the harbor. When Baird had asked about the ship two months ago when she was raised, he’d hear she was a battlecruiser of the now non-existent Imperial German Navy. She had been a fierce nemesis in some of the harrowing battles of the Great War, but in the end she had been scuttled to prevent her from falling into the hands of the English.


Now the tremendous ship was an empty husk, a shadow of its former glory. Not unlike the base at Scapa Flow itself. Derfflinger was destined for the scrap yards, but the sudden appearance of Morganas had halted work as manpower became focused on naval rearmament around the world. Passing nearby was an oil tanker, a much less imposing sight than the derelict battlecruiser, but certainly one making a more active impact on the war.


Baird’s attention was grabbed suddenly by the sounds of sirens wailing in the frigid air. The radio bleated to life as an urgent transmission reached the ship in morse code, and the radio operator began reading it off as it arrived.


“Captain, incoming message! The radar station has picked up aerial contacts inbound at high speed. Definitely not RAF, they’re coming from the middle of the ocean North of here. Judging by their vector, they appear to be Morganas.”


“Action stations! All hands on deck!”


The crew of Kendal sprang to life as the order to man action stations rang throughout it’s admittedly miniscule interior. Men rushed to the handful of small guns lining her deck, a 4 inch anti-ship gun on her bow and a 3 inch anti-aircraft gun on her stern. She also had two Vickers machine guns, though they were of questionable effect against the Morgana aircraft which seemed to mirror the latest in human aircraft technology.


“Looks like things finally got exciting just as I get off the bridge,” Lieutenant Commander Mclean said, carrying with him the kettle, now with it’s hot water supply replenished.


“I wouldn’t call a potential Morgana attack interesting. We don’t have enough shore guns, aircraft nor escort ships and there are too many ships to protect.” The Captain said, his gaze shifting to the battleships and carriers of the Home Fleet at anchor, amongst them Nelson and Rodney, and the aging carrier HMS Furious. Somewhere beyond where Kendal could see was Ark Royal making full cruising speed back towards the harbor. The capital ships present in Scapa Flow were anchored across the harbor on the opposite side Kendal patrolled, far away from where the minesweeper could offer any escort.


“Oh don’t worry about those big girls, I’m sure they can take care of themselves,” The second in command said, setting the kettle on the improvised stand, “Imagine if we had a real fighting ship like a cruiser or a destroyer. Then we could be out taking the fight to those bastards instead of lollygagging in a harbor.”


“If we had a cruiser or a destroyer, our duty would still be to protect the ships of the home fleet, and that would be best served close to them,” Captain Baird said.


“Enemy aircraft inbound!” The lookout’s voice shouted, heard on the bridge via voice tubes.


Looking upwards to the sky, the bridge crew could see the enemy aircraft incoming, first as a mass of tiny black speckles on the horizon. As they came closer the shapes resolved themselves, not into that of conventional aircraft but instead the forms of creatures of the deep sea. The Morgana flyers showed a facsimile of disturbing, alien looking fish from the black depths of the sea. At first glance, they seemed liked hatchetfish, anglerfish, and fangtooth fish, but a skilled eye with the assistance of quality optics might make out the details of these abominations that showed them for what they truly were.


Though shaped like natural creatures, and very nightmarish ones at that, the Morgana planes were not of natural construction. Instead, they were cobbled out of bare aluminum, steel and glass plates, encrusted with corrosion and leaking thick black oils from the ill fitted joints where each of the plates connected. The manner in which they flew was uncanny, less like flying and more akin to stumbling through the air. Rather than maintain level flight and a straight heading, they meandered off course, drifting too high or too low.


Tensions ran high on the bridge of Kendal, and surely on every other ship in the harbor as the Morgana swarm closed in. They were well beyond the range of any weapons the minesweeper had, and somehow the air raid alarms and the dull thumps of heavy, long range flak guns in the distance only made the silence more poignant.


Then, the radio came alive with a frantic distress call from the oil tanker vessel passing nearby came though. “Sir, that nearby tanker is radioing us for assistance,” The radio operator said,
“Says they’re heading South to get away from the direction of the attack, and would appreciate protection.”

“Tell them they’ll have their escort,” Captain Baird replied without hesitation, “We’ll put ourselves between them and the Morgana aircraft.”

“Alright, that’s more like it,” Mclean rubbed his hands together in anticipation, “Finally, we’ll get the chance to show those Morgana bastards what we’re made of!”


“At ease, Lt. Cmmdr.” Baird said, “Our primary goal is not heroics, it’s to keep that tanker safe and engage as many of the enemy as we possibly can. Most of them will be focused on our battle wagons, but that doesn’t preclude any from heading our way, so we must stay sharp. Alright helm, hard to port!”


The hard port turn put HMS Kendal bearing North, directly towards the hostile attack, while the tanker turned south to make its run to Hoy island. Coal was fed rapidly into her hungry boilers as she worked up to flank speed, 16 knots for the small ship.


The thirty or forty strong mass of hostile aircraft reached the harbor, descending onto Scapa flow like infuriated hornets. The Pom Pom anti-craft guns of battleships, aircraft carriers and cruisers roared to life and filled the sky with streaks of tracers as they tried valiantly to down to the swift moving attackers. The underbellies of the horrific flying Morganas tore open to release bombs upon the Royal Navy ships, massive columns of water exploding nearby the colossal steel titans.


“Looks like the tanker is making good speed,” The lookout onboard Kendal reported, “She’s just passed Cava!”


Just as he said that, three of the Morganas overshot the battleship Ramillies, veering towards the tiny minesweeper as she completed a loop to port to trail behind the tanker. Without hesitation, Baird gave the order to open fire, the 76mm cannon on the stern of Kendal blasting out defiantly towards the incoming planes.


Shells zoomed through the air at the attacking Morganas, one bursting in the air near the trailing aircraft, shredding it’s fins. The stricken plane lurched, and tumbled nose first into the still waters below. The remaining pair banked to the right, their focus shifted to the minesweeper.


“Alright, we knocked one of the buggers down,” Mclean grinned and balled his hands into fists, “”Now it looks like the others want to try out a swim in Scapa flow.”


“Are you completely sure you’re only half Scottish?” Baird shook his head at the first officers uncontained enthusiasm for the fight, but not missing a beat he’d turn to his helmsman and order, “Helm, thirty degrees to starboard!”


Kendal heeled over slightly as she made a hard turn to starboard, putting her oncoming attackers astern of her. She now presented a very small target, merely 28 feet wide, while still being able to engage with her heaviest AA weapon, her aft 3 incher. The cracked glass eyeballs on the anglerfish-esque bombers stared ahead aimlessly as they zoomed towards the minesweeper.


Despite the best efforts of the stern gun crew, both planes made their bomb runs. Two huge pillars of foamy white water bracketed Kendal, the shockwaves thrashing the minesweeper violently.


“All stations, damage report!” Baird shouted into the bridge’s voice tubes, one hand steady upon the kettle to prevent boiling water from being thrown around the bridge.


“Steering here, no damage!”


“Engineering, we have a few small leaks, but nothing too troublesome.”

“Gunnery here, we have wounded on deck, but we can still fight!”

As if confirming that fact, one of the Vickers machine guns came to life with a long burst aimed at one of the planes as it peeled away on the port side, a stream of 7.7mm tracer fire pouring into the fish. A thick, oily black blume belched from the gills of the mechanical creature, and it made a very wide, slow death spiral as it plummeted into the chilly waters below.


“Hard back to port! This is still an escort mission boys,” The Captain barked out his orders, the ship heeling over once again as it maneuvered to stay in trail of her charge. The minesweeper was now Southwest bound once again, the the hulk of SMS Derfflinger a few hundred meters off her starboard bow.


“If command doesn’t give us a destroyer after that showing, I’ll be absolutely livid!” Mclean said, “Our gunners are on their marks today.”


The intensity of the raid had yet to die down, as the first dozen or so bombers pulled away from their attack, a second group dove to resume the attack.. The depot ship HMS Iron Duke was burning at anchor, the stripped down hulk having proved an easy target, whilst Nelson was showing signs of hits on her aft deck. A flight of Skuas from the nearby Ark Royal had came scrambling to the defense of the harbor, the valiant pilots throwing their aircraft into the mass of attackers to disrupt and destroy them.


The sky was filled with the roar of nearly forty aircraft engines as the raiders pressed the attack against the Royal navy. A bomb smashed into Hood below the waterline, exploding against her torpedo bulges. One of the Morgana bombers dove towards HMS Rodney, but 2-pounder and 4.7 inch gunfire from the battleship was intense and well aimed. The unnatural abomination shook as it was hit, veering towards the minesweeper Kendal.


With the huge wreck of Derfflinger on her starboard side, Commander Baird had no choice but to make a turn to port, masking all his anti-aircraft guns to the attacker, leaving only the low angle 4 inch gun to face their antagonist. Diving at high speed and high angle, the crew of the minesweeper could only watch as their foe came after them.


At the last second, Baird ordered full right rudder in an attempt to throw off the aim of their attacker. From the guts of the Morgana spat out a 1000 pound armor piercing bomb. The heavy, hardened steel explosive payload fell nearly vertical, plunging into the water a mere three meters from the minesweeper and traveling two meters beneath it before detonating.


The force of the huge blast violently shoved the port side of the ship up out of the water, the ship nearly capsizing as the starboard side dipped beneath the waves before snapping back upright. All throughout the ship the crew was thrown off their feet and onto the deck.


“THAT felt like a big bomb,” Evan exclaimed as he tried to pull himself to his feet, “That better have not hit us.”


Thomas Baird grabbed onto one of the ledges on the pilothouse windows to help haul himself upright, scrambling to the voice tubes and demanding a damage report. The ship's internal stations were eerily silent, and only the gun crew gave their report, having lost two men overboard.


“Well captain?” The first officer asked expectantly, “Don’t ya think someone ought to go down there and see what’s happening?”


“I’m the commanding officer, Lt. Cmmdr,” Baird replied simply, “My place is on the bridge. Since you seem so eager for it, you can go down there and give me an assessment.”

“Very well then,” Mclean said with a nod, swinging open the door the pilothouse and rushing out onto the ship’s main deck. The ship surely didn’t look like it had taken a direct hit, though the chunks of shrapnel dug into the superstructure and shattered pieces of the mast were telltale signs the bomb hit was close enough to inflict damage.


Making his way below decks, Evan’s foray into the engine room was prefaced by ominous sound of rushing water. When he made it into the engine room, he found himself ankle deep in seawater, the panicked engine room crew valiantly fighting the oncoming flood with pumps, but the man-sized tear in the hull present in the engine room was rapidly overcoming their efforts.


“Pennington,” Evan shouted at the chief engineer, “What the hell happened to our boat?”


The man Evan was addressing was a sailor with wiry, curly hair peeking out from under his cap, built like a sprinter with plenty of muscle and little bulk, an excellent trait to have in the confines of an engine room.


“Well sir,” Pennington tapped his fingers together as he spoke, “There’s a, hm, tremendous leak in the hull and we lack the means to properly, hm, button it up, shall we say? No welders, and the pumps just aren’t good enough.”


An angry grimace formed on Evan’s face as he was filled with an irrational, fiercely burning hatred for Royal Navy budget cuts. “Well don’t just stick around waiting to drown. Get up to the captain and tell him.”


“I’m not abandoning my post sir,” The engineer stubbornly insisted, “My men need me here with them.”


“Is everyone on this bloody boat married to their station?” Evan grumbled in exasperation, “Listen, I’m making that an order. You boys are brave, but staying in here is no good. It’s like getting into a boxing match with no hands!”


With some persuasion and generous use of barking orders, the Lt. Cmmdr had the engineering crew coming up from below decks after sealing off the rapidly flooding engine room. Coming back into the pilothouse, Mclean gave his report to the his commanding officer, who expressed his dismay in a tight lipped grimace.


“Abandon ship,” He said at long last after an extensive silence, “I am not going to risk my crew for an old bin of rubbish like this.”


“Abandon ship? When there are still Morganas in the air?” Mclean protested, “We can keep her afloat long enough to hold out against the raid!”


“I won’t hear of it,” Thomas Baird replied firmly, “We’re getting off this ship and that’s final!”


Just then, a Morgana aircraft in the likeness of a hatchetfish screamed in at high speed, it’s mouth opening to reveal twin machineguns, which barked to life as it fired bursts at Kendal. Though nobody was hit by the first pass, the enemy gunfire raked the small vessel and made a point which Baird took up prudently.


“Perhaps it would be best we kept some men on the guns until we can properly evacuate,” Thomas cleared his throat. He ordered Mclean to help the gunners in any way possible, whilst he oversaw the evacuation of his crew overboard. There was only one boat aboard, so most of the crew had to get into rubber rafts.


HMS Kendal went down fighting, her guns claiming three damaged aircraft and one possible kill against the aircraft that would swoop down and try to finish off the stricken minesweeper. Baird and the gun crews were the last to get off, taking to the frigid waters in small rafts, many of which struggled to float due to having been holed by shrapnel and bullets. Baird watched as water began to wash over the main deck of Kendal, her freeboard virtually engulfed by the water.


“She was a lemon, always too cold, too hot, too much smoke,” Mclean sighed and shook his head as he watched the ship go down, “But, I am going to miss her. She was a scrap pile, but she was our scrap pile.”


“They’ll make more minesweepers,” Baird said, “But she helped us fight the enemy, and fulfilled her duty well. I have no regrets leaving her like this.”


As if on cue, a huge geyser of steam spat out of Kendal’s funnel, seconds before the torrent of seawater invading the ship found her boilers. The water around Kendal shook with a massive shockwave as the minesweeper was engulfed in a billowing smoky explosion, sending huge chunks of steel flying. As the smoke began to fade, they could see the bow and the stern remaining barely above water and going down fast; the midsection of the ship was completely gone.


But back in the rafts, the surviving crew members, including Captain Baird, had more pressing issues. The water sloshing around the bottom of his raft in increasing amounts was concerning to Thomas as the raft rowed away from the doomed vessel. It was obvious it wouldn’t remain floating for long. Only a few hundred meters away was the hulk of Derfflinger, kept at anchor inside a submerged floating drydock.


“Make for that wreck over there, October is not a good month for swimming,” He instructed. Evan Mclean relayed the order with mighty bellows, his voice heard loud and clear by the other survivors even despite the roar of engines and gunfire still filling the air around them. Soon Thomas’s raft bumped up against the stern of the giant battlecruiser. He was the last of the men on his raft to step foot on the empty husk, the huge twelve-foot diameter propellers looming over their heads as they walked upon the bottom of the once proud ship.


“Never quite been aboard a big ship like this before,” Mclean remarked as they walked towards the bow alongside one of the screw shafts.


“None of us have been aboard an Imperial German warship, Lt. Cmmdr,” Baird replied.


“I was talking about her being upside down.” Evan said. They eventually climbed up the stern and onto the keel of the ship, dotted by towering metal cylinders which Baird assumed had some sort of function in her salvage. His eyes scanned for any of the drydock crew, but they were nowhere to be seen. Not surprising at all, given the order to halt work at the onset of the conflict.


Then, as Baird turned his head to looked directly in front of him, his heart nearly froze. Right there in front of him was a woman, one who hadn’t been there before. One moment, he and his crew was alone on the keel, but now he was face to face with a stranger not two yards away.


Her appearance certainly made an impression, with thick, unkempt black hair reaching her shoulders. Her outfit was distinct and eye catching, the typical fare of a Prussian cavalryman. Robin egg blue, high riding pants met with a double-buttoned blouse, over the top of which was a Prussian blue coat with black fur lining the collar and insides. The tail of said coat reached down to her knees, and her feet were adorned with jackboots typical of Germanic officers.


The British crewmen stared at the woman stunned, and as the moments passed by Baird began to realize what he might be looking at. It seemed almost too unreal, he’d heard of such things happening to active warships in many navies, but never before had he heard of such things happening to an abandoned hulk.


“Verdammt,” The woman cursed as she gazed up at the skies, the last of the Morgana attackers making their runs and being driven off by Skuas, “In the middle of a battle and all my weapons are on the wrong side of the waterline!”


Baird cleared his throat and approached the girl tentatively, “Excuse me Miss but are you perhaps one of those warship women I have heard so much about?”


Looking away from the battlefield and towards him, she would nod at him affirmatively, “You are speaking to Derfflinger, the Iron Dog. Pride of the Imperial German High Seas Fleet and the epitome of a proud, pure blooded Prussian varrior. Vilkommen aboard, Kapitan.”


“Kapitan?” Baird echoed her words in disbelief, “Miss Derfflinger, I’m afraid I don’t quite follow.”


“I have chosen you to lead me into battle once again, the same way I led the First Scouting Group, boldly und without fear!” Derfflinger said, “I know not what year it is, nor what has passed since I denied myself as a war prize to the Entente. But I know that as a Belle, I am here to vage var against the Morganas, and carry on zhe epic legacy of the Iron Dog.”


“Me? Lead you?” Baird asked, astounded at the thought, “I simply cannot. I’m not qualified for such a command as a battlecruiser, not to mention you’re in no shape to be fighting in the first place.”


“Hahaha, such a humble Kapitan. But fear not, I’ve recovered from worse than a bit of water damage,” She reached out and gave Baird a pat on the shoulder, “Get me some schnapps and we can discuss everything over some hearty drinks!”


“How can you possibly want to drink in the middle of a battle?” Baird asked incredulously.


“How can you not?” Derfflinger replied, “It vill help keep my mind distracted von zhe fact I have awoken to a battle und am completely helpless in it. Zhere is no greater pain for a warrior than to be helpless und disarmed vhile an enemy is present. And there is no greater pleasure for me outside of battle than a frothy mug of schnapps.”


Sighing, Baird turned to his trusty second in command and took a few steps away from the brash battlecruiser Belle. “Well, I suppose there’s only one thing we can do at this point.”


“And what is that sir?” Mclean asked.


“Ask for a couple of pints when they send a boat to pick us up,” Baird said, “It seems as though today will be a long, very long day.”

 

 

 

 

Feedback on both story content and syntax is appreciated. So long as it's constructive and helpful, I'll be glad to hear it.

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Syntax needs work. Throw it into the writer's channel on discord before posting for a final opinion. As for the story, the dialogue is generally good, but it doesn't quite feel like people from the 40's. It feels closer to modern stuff.

 

Your battle scene is pretty good, although this is in interesting attempt at Morgana aircraft, and if morganas are impossible for any normal ship to take down, I think their aircraft would present a challenge for any normal AA. I doubt the meager AA armament of a minesweeper could take down many regular planes, much less claim two kills, 3 damaged, and a possible on Morgana aircraft. You might want to rethink your ship's capabilities. Aircraft may also be an issue in the future, as Derfflinger was a WWI ship, so her anti-aircraft armament was modest at best. Even as a belle she will have trouble.

 

As for Derfflinger, you wrote her well, but you have written yourself into a rut. It will be difficult to make the second chapter interesting if she cannot flip over. The conversation between captain and belle will only take you so far if there's a potential battle scene raging in the background that could be used for great dramatic effect. The way you have written her dialogue though, she says, or at least implies that she is unable to right herself, and that she will be useless in the battle.

 

You also seem to think that tankers are higher priority than powerful capital ships, which is not usually true in any navy regulations, to the best of my knowledge. Unless the capital ships are escorting the tankers as well, they should be put first. Even though you go for the tanker, when you come under air attack, you stop mentioning it, seeming to forget it entirely, and I can't speak for anyone else, but I want to know the fate of that tanker that you sank trying to protect.

 

I think that about covers it. I'll let you know if I find any other issues. Anybody feel free to correct me if I found a problem that isn't actually a problem.

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Syntax needs work. Throw it into the writer's channel on discord before posting for a final opinion. As for the story, the dialogue is generally good, but it doesn't quite feel like people from the 40's. It feels closer to modern stuff.

 

Your battle scene is pretty good, although this is in interesting attempt at Morgana aircraft, and if morganas are impossible for any normal ship to take down, I think their aircraft would present a challenge for any normal AA. I doubt the meager AA armament of a minesweeper could take down many regular planes, much less claim two kills, 3 damaged, and a possible on Morgana aircraft. You might want to rethink your ship's capabilities. Aircraft may also be an issue in the future, as Derfflinger was a WWI ship, so her anti-aircraft armament was modest at best. Even as a belle she will have trouble.

 

As for Derfflinger, you wrote her well, but you have written yourself into a rut. It will be difficult to make the second chapter interesting if she cannot flip over. The conversation between captain and belle will only take you so far if there's a potential battle scene raging in the background that could be used for great dramatic effect. The way you have written her dialogue though, she says, or at least implies that she is unable to right herself, and that she will be useless in the battle.

 

You also seem to think that tankers are higher priority than powerful capital ships, which is not usually true in any navy regulations, to the best of my knowledge. Unless the capital ships are escorting the tankers as well, they should be put first. Even though you go for the tanker, when you come under air attack, you stop mentioning it, seeming to forget it entirely, and I can't speak for anyone else, but I want to know the fate of that tanker that you sank trying to protect.

 

I think that about covers it. I'll let you know if I find any other issues. Anybody feel free to correct me if I found a problem that isn't actually a problem.

 

Syntax is being worked on and will be updated.

 

The planes are fairly vulnerable and weak because they're intended to be low level enemies. The raid is only thirty planes and they're launched from a not particularly impressive morgana carrier. This is in essence supposed to be a suicide raid by a very expendable, weaksauce Morgana unit just to probe the defenses and gain an idea of how well prepared the humans are. On a side note, I felt that by this time such active ships as those of the Royal Navy Home Fleet would have started to manifest Belles, accounting for the effectiveness of their AA fire. I'll tone it down for Kendal probably however, you are right.

 

Since this is a raid and not a full on assault, Derfflinger will have to sit this one out. Eventually, she will be pulled right side up and brought back to her former glory. In fact, not just to her former glory, but rebuilt with all the advantages 25 years of technology that will fix up her shortcomings in her previous fits.

 

Also, HMS Kendal's top speed is 16 knots and she's nowhere near the battleship anchorage. Better to defend the helpless tanker that's within range than to try and waste time ploddign across the harbor to battleships and carriers that can fare much better for themselves.

 

All shall be revealed in time and with more chapters, I swear!

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Syntax is being worked on and will be updated.

 

The planes are fairly vulnerable and weak because they're intended to be low level enemies. The raid is only thirty planes and they're launched from a not particularly impressive morgana carrier. This is in essence supposed to be a suicide raid by a very expendable, weaksauce Morgana unit just to probe the defenses and gain an idea of how well prepared the humans are. On a side note, I felt that by this time such active ships as those of the Royal Navy Home Fleet would have started to manifest Belles, accounting for the effectiveness of their AA fire. I'll tone it down for Kendal probably however, you are right.

 

Since this is a raid and not a full on assault, Derfflinger will have to sit this one out. Eventually, she will be pulled right side up and brought back to her former glory. In fact, not just to her former glory, but rebuilt with all the advantages 25 years of technology that will fix up her shortcomings in her previous fits.

 

Also, HMS Kendal's top speed is 16 knots and she's nowhere near the battleship anchorage. Better to defend the helpless tanker that's within range than to try and waste time ploddign across the harbor to battleships and carriers that can fare much better for themselves.

 

All shall be revealed in time and with more chapters, I swear!

 

EDIT: This post is outdated.

 

For the AA, I'm going to assume that if the battleships already have belles, they can probably manage. As for Kendal, the radar guided powerful AA armament of the Fletcher class can take down maybe up to 10 planes in their whole career. (Mind you I am pulling that number out of my ass from memory of all the destroyer histories and service records I have read, but in general it's actually very rare for them to get more than one or two planes per engagement, unless there are quite a few planes, and they get lucky.) I think her .303 machineguns are all but useless against regular aircraft, much less even the weakest morgana aircraft. Keep in mind they are magically more powerful than regular aircraft, irrelevant of how powerful they are in morgana terms. As for the larger caliber AA gun, I still doubt that such a meager armament, guided only by sight could seriously put down a morgana aircraft with one shot, if you can even hit it. It's difficult for any AA gunner to hit a moving target, even one flying at a constant speed in a straight line. Try hitting one that is flip-flopping erratically around the sky, and constantly changing course and speed.

 

As for Derfflinger, I still think you are wasting potential. You could have flipped her this time around with some magical "She's a belle so just roll with it" bullshit, and there would really not be a problem. In fact, it might make her entrance significantly more epic and impressive. You choose instead to make her uselessly sit capsized and talk about her feelings. This is going to lead to a boring second chapter at best if you continue where you left off. If she was flipped, there would be so much more you could do with it and the battle scene could continue in a fantastic way. It's a squandered opportunity now.

 

With the capital ships, you did not make it clear their position relative to Kendal, merely stating that the capital ships were in Scapa flow, and Kendal was patrolling, guarding the capital ships, and the tanker was approaching Scapa Flow. From that I was unable to properly relate their positions, so it seemed to me that the capital ships would be close to their escort, and the tanker a ways out. From that point of view, it seems that Kendal abandons her escort mission for a tanker that is out of her way.

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For the AA, I'm going to assume that if the battleships already have belles, they can probably manage. As for Kendal, the radar guided powerful AA armament of the Fletcher class can take down maybe up to 10 planes in their whole career. (Mind you I am pulling that number out of my ass from memory of all the destroyer histories and service records I have read, but in general it's actually very rare for them to get more than one or two planes per engagement, unless there are quite a few planes, and they get lucky.) I think her .303 machineguns are all but useless against regular aircraft, much less even the weakest morgana aircraft. Keep in mind they are magically more powerful than regular aircraft, irrelevant of how powerful they are in morgana terms. As for the larger caliber AA gun, I still doubt that such a meager armament, guided only by sight could seriously put down a morgana aircraft with one shot, if you can even hit it. It's difficult for any AA gunner to hit a moving target, even one flying at a constant speed in a straight line. Try hitting one that is flip-flopping erratically around the sky, and constantly changing course and speed.

 

As for Derfflinger, I still think you are wasting potential. You could have flipped her this time around with some magical "She's a belle so just roll with it" bullshit, and there would really not be a problem. In fact, it might make her entrance significantly more epic and impressive. You choose instead to make her uselessly sit capsized and talk about her feelings. This is going to lead to a boring second chapter at best if you continue where you left off. If she was flipped, there would be so much more you could do with it and the battle scene could continue in a fantastic way. It's a squandered opportunity now.

 

With the capital ships, you did not make it clear their position relative to Kendal, merely stating that the capital ships were in Scapa flow, and Kendal was patrolling, guarding the capital ships, and the tanker was approaching Scapa Flow. From that I was unable to properly relate their positions, so it seemed to me that the capital ships would be close to their escort, and the tanker a ways out. From that point of view, it seems that Kendal abandons her escort mission for a tanker that is out of her way.

 

Well I guess I won't be wholly withdrawing my story, but I do appreciate the feedback and criticism.

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I'm not sure how many updates this story went through, but I have to say it reads rather well. Hope we get to see another chapter of the Iron Dog.

 

As for the effectiveness of AA, I think we may need to have a thread just debating the topic of conventional non-belle weapons and their performance against Morganas in general. Coming from the Strike Witches fanbase, I have never been a fan of "its magically invincible to normal military munitions" or "nothing except the main character's small-calibre weapon can put a dent in that thing!" as justification for this kind of situation.

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Chapter 2

 

 

 

 

What came next for Thomas Baird could only be described as a very long day; one which dragged on into a very long couple of weeks. The Admiralty had a very keen interest in Derfflinger now that she had manifested a Belle, and almost immediately worker crews were being sent to Scapa Flow to upturn the capsized battlecruiser. Rather than keep Baird updated and informed about how the Royal Navy would handle their new acquisition, the Royal Navy stuck to the time tested, military upper echelon staple of leaving sailors in the dark as to the mysterious inner workings of the brass.

 

Unfortunately, Baird was kept at arm’s length from the German battlecruiser as the Royal Navy enacted the initial salvage, only able to watch from the shore. Derfflinger loudly protested her forced separation from her Captain, but in her helpless state she was forced to accept liquor as payment for her cooperation and pipe down for the time being. Baird and his crew meanwhile were kept useful for the war effort and were relocated to various shore installations at Scapa Flow.

 

Late one night in the trailing days of November, Baird was quietly sifting through the pages of an entrapping mystery novel, winding down after a relaxing day of leave . It gave him something to chew in mentally, keeping track of all the little details and clues left in the words, trying to spot false leads and see if he could identify the murderer before the reveal.

 

Then a loud bleeting of a car horn jolted him out of his concentration, and he looked out the window to see an older station wagon parked outside the officer’s quarters, with his first officer and many familiar faces packed inside. A couple more insistent bleats of the horn told him they weren’t going away without getting him out there first.

 

Sighing, he tucked a small strip of paper between the pages and shut his book, setting it down and grabbing his overcoat to shield him from the biting chill of the Scootish night.

 

“Captain!” He heard Mclean’s familiar voice shouting at him as he stepped out onto the sidewalk, “We’re going down to the pub, gonna take the boys for some strong drink and big lasses. Ought to help us fight off this cold.”

 

“What does that have to do with me?” Baird asked skeptically.

 

“You’re the Captain!”

 

“Was.”

 

“And will be again, shortly. So, you ought to come along. It’ll be good for morale!”

 

“How could it possibly be good for morale?”

 

“It’ll let the men know their Captain is supportive!” Mclean insisted, “Trust me, when have I ever led you astray?” Baird raised a finger to protest by Mclean cut him off and amended his previous statement with, “In regards to the well being of the crew.”

 

Baird had to bite his tongue after Mclean had added in that caveat, the arguments he had planned to bring to the table were neutralised before he even spoke. His expression downturned into a tight lipped grimace and he rubbed at his chin as if upon it he would feel the words of a rebuttal.

 

“Well, I suppose it can’t hurt,” Baird gave in, “Just don’t go starting any scuffles.”

 

“Scuffles sir? It’s a pub in Scotland, probably full of Scots. It’ll be a bloody miracle if we can avoid a scuffle.” Mclean joked dryly. Baird sighed and shook his head as he opened one of the rear doors on the station wagon and scooted inside. The door clunked shut with a metallic rattle and the car sputtered it’s way down the road.

 

After a short trip, they arrived at a pub not far from the barracks called The Remington. Like most of the buildings in the area it had a very rustic look to it, and on the inside it was full of off duty sailors and the girls who were seeking their company. Above the bar counter there was a Remington Model 11 Riot Gun, though it was unclear if the gun was chosen to match the bar name or if the bar had been named after the weapon. The atmosphere was lively and light-hearted, a complete turnaround from the dullness that so often came while on duty.

 

“First round is on me boys,” Mclean declared to the crew as they came up to the counter, letting each of the crew take their orders for the first round of drinks on his tab. While the other men were snatching up their free drinks, Baird found himself a quiet corner of the bar to pass his time in.

 

Mclean however wasn’t so laconic. After buying a round of drinks he accompanied two young midshipmen on their way to chat with a pair of lively young ladies who happened to be on the opposite end of the bar counter. He tempered his comrade’s youthful eagerness with cheeky with and brimming confidence, and with his help he’d talked two ladies into sharing drinks with two of his former ship mates.

 

“Hey Evan,” A familiar voice said as the red head felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to see the unduly smooth and hairless face of Fabian Ross, his taupe hair somehow managing to be rampantly messy despite the short length.

 

“Oh, Fabian. How’s the ale?”

 

“Good sir, but I’m afraid I require a bit of assistance.” Ross cleared his throat, “It seems as though my penchant to take any challenge has backfired, and I got into a game of darts against three boys from Vega.”

 

“Vega? Isn’t that a destroyer? Fabian, you know better than to mess around with destroyer crews, they’re absolutely vicious.” Mclean shook his head and patted his shoulder, “Of course, I’ll help you out. No way I’d turn down a game of darts anyhow. We’ll get Watterson and that makes a team.”

 

“Sorry, I’m afraid he...can’t.” Ross shook his head.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well, I’m afraid he’s already put down a few pints too many.”

 

“Already? We’ve only been here an hour!” Evan shook his head in disbelief, but still gave an assuring nod to his comrade, “Don’t you worry, I’ll fetch someone and we’ll rout them!”

 

Mclean wasted no time, he headed directly for the table of the next best dart player he knew. Sitting at his table enjoying a crossword puzzle and catching up on tabloids, Baird looked rather comfortable enjoying his calming pastimes.

 

“Captain, you are needed at the dartboard.”

Baird paused for a moment before he lowered his crossword puzzle and looked up at his second-in-command. “The dartboard? Don’t tell me you’re trying to draw me into antics. You didn’t bet your salary on something stupid like a night with the first lady who gave you a coy look did you?”

 

“Captain, you know I wouldn’t waste your dart skills on such things.”

 

“Yes you have.” Baird replied dryly.

 

“Well, perhaps. But this is urgent! One of our men has challenged three guys from a destroyer to some darts. We’re about to become battlecruiser sailors, losing out to a bunch of tin can boys would be a serious blow to morale.”

 

“Always looking after the men I see,” Baird gave a nod of approval to Mclean as he stood up from his seat, “Well, usually these sorts of tussles aren’t my cup of tea, but I absolutely love darts. Let’s show them how serious the new sailors of Derfflinger are.”

 

Baird and Mclean joined with Fabian to meet the challenge posed to them by the sailors of Vega, dueling them in a pitched battle of darts. The high stakes battle of sailor’s pride took the form of each team standing in front of the circular board. With the intensity only an Englishman with their pride on the line could muster, they threw tiny metal spears at the board, as if it had personally attacked their heritage and families.

 

The darts duel was a close one, with Baird his crew embarrassingly losing the first round, but making a strong comeback in the second. The three round game of darts ended with Baird’s crew coming out on top, Mclean buying yet another round of drinks and sending Vega’s crew back to their seats salty.

 

The Captain and the others were greeted by the rest of the crew with applause and congratulations. Rather than retire to his seat away from the commotion, he stayed with his crew this time and enjoyed his status as an upholder of their pride, making small talk with them and completing his crossword with their assistance.

 

Mclean of course was active the rest of the night, acting as wingman to two Ensigns with their eyes on a pair of fierce redheaded girls that looked as difficult as they did stunning. But, with their commanding officer fearlessly charging into the clutches of the dangerous yet enchanting creatures, they soon each were sharing a drink with their marks. When not buying drinks or wingmanning he was leading the chorus of drinking songs, never an idle moment for the half-Scot.

 

The night went on for hours more until the lot of the sailors were either intoxicated, tired, or both. Baird sighed as he watched Mclean trying to round up his inebriated fellows, at one point the red haired Lt. Commander having to convince one of them to come out of the restroom where he and an equally drunk lass were enjoying the night.

 

“Well, that went well, insofar as it never came to blows with anyone,” Baird quipped as Mclean managed to get the last of the boys into his car. Unlike the rest of the crew, Baird had done well to conserve his energy and sobriety in anticipation of this result.

 

“Well, not any blows with fists,” Mclean quipped as he slumped into the passenger side front seat, exhausted from his active role in the outing.

 

“Was that an attempt at humor?” Baird asked as he slipped into the driver’s seat, starting the car and heading down the road. It wouldn’t be long before they were back to duty, but as he drove into the night, he decided that it had been a fair use of their leave time.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

As the months passed, a huge row of wooden towers were erected along the length of Derrflinger’s hull and massive winches lined along the nearby shore as the setup for a parbuckle operation was enacted. Repairs were made to her lower hull, and her keel was repaired and fully cleared off. On May 18, 1940, the winch motors whirred to life, and the revival of Derrflinger truly began in earnest.

 

Thomas Baird’s eyes were fixed on Derfflinger from where he stood upon the floating drydock, ready to receive her after righting as the tremendous array of cables began to pull the side of her hull. Loud groans of bending and flexing steel echoed across the water as the starboard side of the hull began to raise up and out of the water. Rushing streams of water cascaded down the hull sides, caked with corrosion but still holding their old shape firmly.

 

After two hours, no longer was Derfflinger an overturned wreck, but now she sat proudly afloat in Scapa Flow for the first time in over two decades. Her powerful looking main battery turrets still sat on her decks, firmly in their barbettes still despite capsizing. The drydock that had once been used to pull her out of the water was moved underneath her, and as the sun set on Scapa Flow the gangway was finally lowered and Baird was allowed to board his ship.

 

“Kapitan!!!” Came the shrill cry in thick Prussian accent, the scraggly haired Belle waiting for him at the end of the gangway. Derfflinger was swaying back and forth at an alarming rate, her eyes hazing and her stance crooked. When Baird stepped onto her deck, he was greeted by a swinging fist, which he barely managed to duck out of the way to avoid.

 

“What the bloody hell Derfflinger?” Baird snapped as he quickly moved out of her reach, “You look absolutely plastered!”

 

“I haf raised mein glash zu ze hour of my return!” The Belle slurred heavily, wobbling as she followed him any time he tried to move away, “And now! Mein Kapitan, du musht kampfen…..fight me! Fight me for the right to command me!”

“Absolutely not,” He shook his head, calmly deflecting a clumsy blow she launched, walking backwards in small circles to keep her at a safe distance, “Quite the belligerent drunkard you are. Mclean! I want you and every man on this ship to immediately confiscate all alcohol aboard. I’ll keep Derfflinger occupied.”

 

Without hesitation Mclean and the rest of the crew that were brought aboard dispersed to find and seize any drinks found aboard the ship. Derfflinger began to swing her arms at Baird rapidly, far too inebriated to launch effective attacks, but unrelenting regardless.

 

“Vat ish za matter Kapitan? Afraid zu hit ein alte Frau? Ahahahaha, vahahaha,” She burst out into cacaphonic laughter, her eyes fixated on her target. Having boarded on the main deck beneath Caesare turret, Baird’s backwards trek had led him all the way to the Dora turret.

 

“If du zu not fight back, I vill cut zhu down like Queen Mary!” She launched a well telegraphed right hook at Baird, only for the implacable captain to sidestep it with utmost calm. Her momentum carrying her forward, she slammed face first into her mud and corrosion caked decking.

 

One would expect that to be the end of things, at least for that moment, but Derfflinger was not content to lie face down. Within seconds of her fall, she was stumbling and flailing to get her feet back underneath her. Baird led her on a winding, stumbling chase all across her decks, careful to watch his step on what was essentially still a wreck.

 

Though Derfflinger put up a long and vigorous fight against Baird, in the end she simply was no match for his sober reflexes and unwavering defenses. That is to say, much of the thin air in front of Derfflinger was subject to enormous torment from her drunken attacks, before she finally collapsed on the deck exhausted. Finally able to take a break from entertaining the battlecruiser, Baird went to go make sure his comrades had been successful in ridding her of the alcohol supply.

 

Baird found the crew at the gangplank carrying off armfuls of booze, with Mclean standing at the end of the docks next to an unfamiliar Royal Navy officer of short stature, but large girth and thick caterpillar moustache.

 

“Could it be?” Mclean asked in mock disbelief, “Has our captain sank the unsinkable Iron Dog?”

 

“I’m afraid I can’t take credit for that,” Baird shook his head, “I merely kept her engaged until she went under. You could say she was scuttled.”

 

A tight lipped smile crossed Mclean's face, “Scuttled? Ah sounds just like her. Anyways, Captain, this is Commodore Stanton,” Mclean gestured to the heavy set officer beside him, “He’s been overseeing the parbuckling operation. Commodore, meet Derfflinger’s commanding officer, Captain Baird.”

 

“Ah, so you’re the poor chap who has to reign in that scrappy old girl,” The Commodore chuckled heartily, “Well Captain I hope you’re ready to handle her.”

 

“I hope so too, I hear those bloody Morganas have been running our fleet ragged,” Baird nodded.

 

“Well, you’ll be in that fight soon enough. They’re sending you boys and the ship up to Rosyth for hull repair,” The Commodore explained, “Not sure where you’ll be headed, but I’ve heard the higher-ups are trying to make a deal with the Yanks for the rest of the rebuild.”

 

“The Yanks? I’m surprised you came by such information so easily, seems like something we don’t want Jerry to hear about,” Baird said.

 

“Nobody up top thinks Jerry’s a problem anymore, he’s been huddled around his coast waiting for the Morganas to take down our navy for em. Besides, it’s just chatter and rumors right now anyhow.”

 

“Do they ever give us more than chatter and rumors?”

 

“Most of the time not even that.” The Commodore half-smiled, “Well, all the accommodations for you and your men are aboard the drydock. Feel free to visit the ship any time, and watch out for her filching drinks from the work crews.”

 

“Oh, I’ll keep a keen eye on her alright.” Baird nodded.

 

“Good. Now, I have to go oversee the tugs getting this whole setup out of here and to Rosyth, so I’ll leave you boys to it.”

 

“Thank you Commodore. Alright men, let’s get ourselves settled in!”

 

Baird and the rest of the former minesweeper crew, now turned from shore installation staff into soon-to-be battlecruiser sailors, unloaded their very minimal belongings from the launch boat that brought them over. The housing set up on the drydock was mostly metal shacks with bunks in them. In fact, it was entirely metal shacks with bunks inside. It was to say the least, minimal, but it would last for the relatively short trip down to Edinburgh, where the shipyards of Rosyth awaited.

 

Suspended in drydock, Derfflinger was carried along by tugboats at a plodding five knots towards Rosyth. Two days after the start of her voyage out of Scapa Flow, Derfflinger reached the end of her voyage, coming into Rosyth under the Firth of Forth bridge. The sun rose behind her, causing the weary, worn down battlecruiser to almost glow to the eyes of the waiting dock crews.

 

No time was spent embellishing the moment however, Derfflinger’s drydock was tied up close to shore, the project managers not wanting to risk sinking the battlecruiser transferring her to an on shore drydock. She was, after all, just recently pulled off the seabed. Work began almost immediately to find and patch any leaks in the hull, and to clean out any mud that had settled inside her. Many of the dock workers were surprised to find the majority of Derfflinger’s hull intact, with far fewer leaks than expected, and much of the original material still reusable. Work proceeded rather quickly, at times it even seemed to the stunned work crews that the corrosion was receding from the battlecruiser’s hull.

 

By the end of June, Derfflinger had been declared seaworthy once again. Her hull below the waterline had been painted red, and above the waterline she sported slate grey color, dull but very clean. In a quiet ceremony, with no flash, pomp or any great audience, Derfflinger was lowered into the water once again during the last week of June, much to the absolute delight of the Belle.

 

“Ahaha, it feels very good zu be floating again!” She cheered as she stood on the bow, watching the tugboats hooking lines to her for towing, “I feel alive! I feel ready to fight once more!”

 

“Don’t get ahead of yourself dear,” Baird cautioned, “Your gun turrets don’t even have working motors, or ammunition. And your command centers sure have seen better days,” He glanced over his shoulder at the superstructure, which had been torn down in favor of a large warehouse shaped structure for her crew to live in until a complete overhaul was made. It was large enough to host Baird’s crew in addition to the newcomers who’d be assigned to Derfflinger to properly man all her stations.

 

“Vell, ze important thing is that my fighting spirit is vith me,” Derfflinger shrugged, taking a sip of her bottle of schnapps, “Things like turrets und bridges can be repaired. But ze will to fight und destroy ze enemy, zat cannot be created or repaired with machines.”

 

“Well, you seem to have no shortage of it, and it seems in a good state,” Baird remarked as the fleet tugboat began securing the lines to their ship. He then pointed to her bottle of schnapps, adding, “Now remember you’re on rations for that, so don’t down it all at once and then complain about it being gone the rest of the trip.”

 

Said trip that Baird spoke of was the voyage she would soon undertake to the United States, for a complete and total overhaul. The Admiralty had worked out a deal with the Americans where they would pay directly for the refit, and the Americans would supply the new equipment and workforce.

 

“Hah, I vill not make such careless mistakes. I do like to enjoy my alcohol, Kapitan,” She took a small sip and gazed out towards the exit of the harbor beyond the bridge, where two V-class destroyers awaited them. “It seems like an awful small escort force, don’t you think Kapitan?”

 

“Especially with so many Morganas lurking the oceans,” Baird nodded in agreement, “At the very least, I’m promised our escort force will be comprised of Belles. That should at least give us a sporting chance against any of those deep sea devils we encounter along the way.”

 

Shortly after passing under the bridge they came into view of the pair of destroyers due to be escorting them. Though no markings on them easy to identify for anyone who wasn’t familiar with the pennant numbers of British destroyers, there were a pair of Belles on each who were at the rails waving in greetings to Derfflinger.

 

The on on the port side had stunningly bright blonde hair flowing behind her head in long, smooth waves, her skin as white as the snowcapped peaks of the Alps. She was dressed in an embellished and ornate armor set of gold and white that looked straight out of a Wagner opera, and had a golden helmet with feathered wings on each side. Strapped to her belt was a golden lyre, and she wore a billowing white cape with a single silver star over the brooch.

 

“Derfflinger, I am destroyer Vega! I take on the responsibility as your protector, so you may join me on the battlefield of the sea!” She shouted at Derfflinger as the battlecruiser passed slowly by.

 

“Aha, ein Walkure?” Derfflinger waved right back at her, “You look like a capable varrior, Vega! A voman of true Norse blood, I expect your fighting to be suitably fierce!”

 

“My enemy’s wrecks will burn brighter than my star, I shall play the songs of their demise on my lyre,” Vega boasted, “Be very wary, once you witness by brilliance, it may be blinding.”

 

“Bold claims, but zat confidence makes me already feel in good company,” Derfflinger grinned approvingly. On her starboard side the second destroyer pulled alongside the battlecruiser, her own Belle strikingly different from Vega.

 

This girl was notable not only for her apparently total lack of developed b-reasts, but the absolutely gorgeous, long legs she sported. As far as Baird could tell, they were absolutely the longest pair he’d seen on any female in his lifetime. Her hair was a walnut brown and tucked behind her head in a stumpy, messy ponytail, and for an outfit she had a white tank top, denim shorts and a pair of white tennis shoes on her feet.

 

“Ahoy! I’m Velox, the fastest V-class you’ll ever meet!” She announced, “I’ve got the fastest lap time from stem to stern of any Belle on the seas, and you bet that I can beat my 34 knots design speed!”

 

“Fast are ve? Vell, I hope you can use zat speed to strike before struck, und flee before they know what hit zem!”

 

“Just wait until you see me in action! Then you’ll get to see for yourself how quick I am!”

 

“Well, hopefully there won’t be any rude interruptions to our journey!” Derfflinger called back, “Zhen again, zose Morgana probably know zey have no chance of surviving after I am combat capable!”

 

“Indeed, not a chance at all,” Velox agreed, “We’ll get you across the pond safe and sound don’t you worry!”

 

With a fleet tugboat pulling Derfflinger along steadily and Vega and Velox on either side, the quartet of vessels departed the Firth of Forth. Their route took them North, away from the German bombers and within protective range of new airfields constructed in Northern Scotland. They also would be within range to call upon the Royal Navy based in Scapa Flow if trouble arose.

 

As Derfflinger was taken out to sea however, the protection the Royal Navy and air force could offer waned. The coasts of Scotland faded to the East as she was pulled into the Western Approaches, still within range of Royal Navy and Air Force protection, but every mile they steamed further from Britain, the longer it would take help to arrive if Morganas attacked.

 

As the looming grey skies of the Atlantic waited ahead, as the choppy grey waves buffeted her hull about, Derfflinger say atop her Bruno turret gazing out at the horizon. Even if all she could do was float, her old habits were strongly in place. She was on watch for the enemy, her keen eyes monitoring for threats.

 

“Derfflinger?” The voice of her captain called up to her from the deck the turret sat on, “What are you doing up there?”

 

She glanced down towards and saw Baird, then looked away towards the horizon, “On vatch fur enemy varships, Kapitan.”

 

“And what the bloody hell are you going to do about them if you see them?” Baird asked, “Shout at them angrily in German?”

 

Derfflinger huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. The point her Captain was trying to make was not lost on her, but old habits died hard. She remained atop her turret, her eyes still watching out for threats that may appear.

 

Baird shook his head and turned to head back to the warehouse on her deck. “Well I guess it’ll only be you who has to suffer the weather up there.” He got not more than three steps away from her before he heard shouting behind him.

 

“Kapitan! Two ships on ze horizon!” Came the report from Derfflinger at the top of her lungs.

 

Baird spun around on his heel, an eyebrow raised quizzically at her. “Are you sure? You’re not just trying to keep me around are you?”

 

“There are two ships out zere, and zey look big too,” Derfflinger was gesturing to a pair of small grey shapes on the horizon, perhaps ten kilometers away. Baird could barely see them from where he stood on the deck, much less discern any details about their size.

 

“Vat do you think Kapitan? Morganas here to sink me before I have ze chance to annihilate zem?”

 

Baird pinched his chin between his thumb and index finger, analyzing the facts at hand within his mind. He nodded and hummed to himself, and after a few minutes of this he glanced to port, then to starboard. He made one final nod after this, then looked back up at Derfflinger.

 

“They’re not hostiles,” Baird told her simply.

 

“Vat? Who else vould it be? Ze Royal Navy vould certain give us information if zey sent more escorts.”

 

“Well, be that as it may, Vega and Velox’s masts are higher than the top of your turret, so they would have spotted it first. I don’t see either of them ordering action stations, so they have probably already established radio contact and verified they’re friendlies.”

 

As if on cue, Mclean came running towards them, stopping right in front of Baird to inform him, “Captain! There’s someone on the wireless set who wishes to speak with Derfflinger.” Captain Baird turned to face the black haired battlecruiser girl, looking up at her expectantly.

 

“Well? Are you going to take up that offer?”

 

“Vell, of course!” She replied as she leapt down off the turret with surprising finesse, heading back aft to the deck warehouse to find who it was who wanted an audience with her. She made her way into the radio room, grabbing the mouthpiece whilst the communications officer calmly worked the set.

 

“Zis is ze battlecruiser Derfflinger, vith whom am I speaking?”

 

“Hello? Hello? Ya’ll readin me over there?” Came the voice back over the radio, distinctly female and with the unmistakable twang of an American Southern accent.

 

“Ja, I can hear you!” Derfflinger replied, “Who ist zis?”

 

“Miss Der-flingah, this is the American battleship USS Texas, me n’ my big sis been sent on up here to take ya’ll down to Norfolk.”

 

Derfflinger went wide eyed, “Texas huh? So ve meet again.”

 

There was an audible chuckle on the other end of the radio, “Seems so. This time though, I’m here fer ya’lls safety. Never know when the Morganers gonna come and rustle up some trouble.”

“Bloody hell, are we even speaking the same language,” Baird muttered under his breath, “Derfflinger, you know this girl?”

 

The Belle nodded affirmatively, “Ja, she vas one of my….so called escorts...zu England after ze surrender. Do not vorry, I promise not to hold a grudge, as long as she buys me drinks when ve reach port,” Derfflinger smirked slyly, then grabbed the mouthpiece again and spoke into it, “Zank you for ze escort, Fraulein Texas.”

“Not a problem at all Ma’am! We’ll pull alongside ya’ll and keep away any trouble. Texas out!”

The pair of huge American dreadnoughts steamed to within a few kilometers of Derfflinger. Texas took up the lead of the formation, and New York followed behind as rear guard. The four warships and a tugboat steamed steadily across the North Atlantic together. Though there was danger lurking in the rough, stormy seas of the North Atlantic, and many times their presence was sensed nearby, the entire trip was made without so much as a skirmish.

 

“Vell, it is not as glamourous as New York, but zis looks like a good shipyard,” Derfflinger remarked as she and her escorts pulled into the harbor leading to the Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia. At the mouth of the harbor, Texas, New York, Velox and Vega broke off their defensive formation to allow Derfflinger to be towed in first.

 

“You know, for as slow as we were moving, it’s a bloody miracle none of those Morganas ever caught up to us,” Baird remarked, standing next to her, atop the deckhouse where they could see more clearly.

 

“Ja….” Derfflinger nodded slowly, “Vere zey just feeling cowardly? Ve certainly had enough ships to drive zem away, but they never came close enough for zat.”

 

Baird paused for a moment to let that point sink in, the clamor of dockwork and the passing harbor traffic filling their air with noise.

 

“You….don’t mean to imply they held back deliberately?” Baird asked, mildly surprised.

 

“Vell, I am not a detective, but….vhy else vould zey hold back against a fleet moving at such slow speeds? Texas und New York are powerful, but far bigger ships zhan zem have been attacked.”

 

“Well...you’re correct in that regard.” Baird nodded in agreement, “But I can’t fathom why they wouldn’t attack.”

 

This time it was Derfflinger who took a moment to pause, her eyes distant as she gazed out over the harbor. “Kapitan….have you ever felt a presence….vone that you’re sure you know, but zhat you can’t recognize?”

 

Baird looked at her for a moment before shaking his head at her. “No, I can’t say I have.”

 

Derfflinger frowned and reached for the schnapps bottle next to her, raising it to her lips and taking a very long gulp. “Well Kapitan, let’s hope that won’t be something you personally have to deal with.”

 

Once Derfflinger was put into drydock, her crew was moved to shore and the work teams began to swarm all over the German warship. Over the next couple of months, the battlecruiser underwent an almost complete transformation.

 

The first act of the refit was to cut open her hull to access her insides, pulling out her aging World War 1 era engines and replacing them with eight brand new Babcock and Wilcox boilers, with four General Electric Turbines to match. With this new machinery, she was expected to make 30 knots at flank speed, and her bow was extended 30 feet and given a clipper bow shape to help her handle better at high speeds.

 

For use in an emergency, she had two emergency diesel generators installed in the ship, one fore, one aft. All her electrical systems were completely stripped out and replaced with new wiring compatible with her new systems, and her rudders and propellers were restored to operational condition.

 

Once the work deep in the hull had been taken care of, Derrflinger’s old armor deck, which varied from 30 to 80 millimeters thick, was replaced with a single homogenous 152mm thick armor deck over her vital areas, to stop long range plunging fire. Her upper belt armor was cut off to save some weight, and for the same reason her 15 Cm secondaries were removed, their armor taken off, and their casemates faired over.

 

In keeping with upgrading Derrflinger’s protection to keep up with new threats, torpedo bulges were installed and a five layer protection system similar to current US battleships was put in place. An ingenious multi layer combination of void space and oil filled tanks with bulkheads inside of them, it allowed for both containing the torpedo hit outside the vital space of the hull, and quick counter flooding to correct lists.

 

Owing to the rather miraculous reversal of corrosion found within the battlecruiser, the main guns and their turrets were restored rather than replaced. New motors and hydraulics were installed, and with Derfflinger’s technical assistance, her 30.5 Cm SK L/50 guns were modified to fire the US 12 inch Mark 15 AP shell. The turret roofs were also plated over with an inch of armor to bring them up to the same thickness as the new armor deck.

 

Derfflinger’s upper works had long ago been crushed onto the bottom of Scapa flow, and anything that remained above her turrets had been cut down to make room for the warehouse on her deck that had housed her crew on the voyage across the Atlantic. All of that was stripped off, and starting from her first upper deck, her superstructure was completely rebuilt.

 

The result was something that looked like a modified, compact version of the superstructure seen on the USS North Carolina. The most obvious visual change was the pyramid mast being reshaped into a cylinder, at Derfflinger’s insistence that her aesthetic consisted of a perfect blend of angles and curves. Both the aft and fore superstructures were reduced in length, as Derfflinger’s turret arrangement gave less deck space between Bruno and Caesare in which to install the new upper works.

 

Derfflinger also had new funnels now, which looked exactly like her old ones but with both moved closer together to free up room for her new bridge. A new boat crane was installed next to her aft funnel and between the two of them on each side of the ship was a Mk. 38 Gun Director. Tacked onto her stern now was an aircraft catapult and associated crane for launching a recon floatplane.

 

The matter of aircraft had increased in importance to naval matters since Derfflinger last saw the light of day. To help her deal with airborne threats, her new secondary armament consisted of twelve 5 inch 38 caliber, dual purpose guns mounted on the first deck above her main deck. Each gun was mounted a single, unshielded pedestal mount and provided with 400 rounds of ammunition.

 

For light anti aircraft guns, sixteen 1.1 inch anti aircraft guns were installed, in four quadruple mounts. One pair was on the main deck of the ship aft, between Caesare and Dora turrets on each side, while the second pair sat beneath Bruno turret on the main deck fore, right beside the barbette on either side. Each gun was provided with 2000 rounds of ammunition per barrel.

 

Emerging from drydock on May 6, 1941, Derfflinger had made the transformation from essentially a floating tube of metal, into a fast, heavily armored and armed warship, with her Belle ready to fight the Morgana threat back. She was faster, could throw more lethal munitions, had new ways to find and zero in her targets, and was even tougher than before.

 

Two days later, she steamed out of the harbor under her own power, greeted at the exit by her four ship entourage tasked to escort her to England, the same group that had brought her to America in the first place. No longer towed by tugboat, Derfflinger steamed ahead proudly to take up the lead of the formation, her Captain standing with the Belle on her brand new bridge.

 

“Yes! Yes!!!” Derfflinger nearly jumped for joy as she cleared the harbor mouth, “I am back! Ze Iron Dog has returned, and she vill show zese Morganas how a real warship fights!”

 

“Not quite,” Baird wagged his finger at her, “You haven’t been properly commissioned yet. As a ship pledging her loyalty to a Royal Navy officer and his crew, I think that ought to take place in England.”

 

Derfflinger huffed indignantly and crossed her arms over her chest, “Hmf, vay to spoil ze moment. At least let me savor ze moment a little before shooting it down.”

 

“Oh no, don’t let me stop you from enjoying yourself.”

 

“Too late,” Derfflinger turned her head away from him, “I’m going to get a drink now, and you can think about vhat you have done!”

 

The coast of America faded across the horizon as Derfflinger and her four escorts began their trek into the choppy, storm tossed Atlantic seas. It was late in the afternoon and the sun was behind them, Derfflinger was standing on her bridge sipping schnapps. All seemed to be going well, but that wasn’t the case for long.

 

On the horizon off Derfflinger’s starboard bow, a thick blue cloud began to rise across the grey horizon. The cohesive mass of mist was undoubtedly moving towards them, and though Derfflinger had never seen this before in her life, she knew what it was without even a thought.

 

She quickly downed the rest of her schnapps bottle and tossed it overboard, rushing inside the bridge and down to the lower levels where Baird’s cabin was, throwing open the door and shouting inside.

 

“Kapitan! Zhere’s a Morgana Mist on ze horizon!”

 

 

 

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Awesome chapter! Can't wait to read about the fight!

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Good so far, significantly better than last chapter as far as continuity goes. I noted a few small grammar mistakes, and I'm a tad worried that all those heavy mods such as doubling her deck armor all around may have significantly decreased her stability or listed maximum speed. Other than that though, keep writing!

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Good so far, significantly better than last chapter as far as continuity goes. I noted a few small grammar mistakes, and I'm a tad worried that all those heavy mods such as doubling her deck armor all around may have significantly decreased her stability or listed maximum speed. Other than that though, keep writing!

 

I've ran the upgrades Derfflinger undergoes through a program called Springsharp. Not going to go into a super in depth explanation here, but here's the gist of it-

 

Derrflinger's new deck armor is heavier, but she completely lost her upper belt armor and casemate armor so in the end the weight gain armor wise is minimal. Her armor deck is actually fairly low in the ship so it actually doesn't contribute so much to top weight. The real top weight gain is in the new superstructure which is far heavier than her old one, but her torpedo bulges balance it out so she remains stable.

 

And thanks, for the feedback as always!

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