Bureaucracy is a nightmare.
Sometimes a useful nightmare and, until a certain point, a necessary one, but a nightmare nonetheless. And also, one that was making Annabeth and her group unable to leave the Leviathan.
They weren't arrested or anything of the kind, in fact, the admiral had even managed some rooms in the female ward, but it was still a delay.
As a side note, it seemed that a little more than a quarter of all sailors working here were female. There was, for obvious reasons, a divide between the living quarters, hence a female and a male ward, but it was still a high ratio all things considered. It was, at the least, much bigger than anything one would see on the continent and very high when the six months of isolation from anything was counted.
On this same note though, only the living quarters and bathrooms had any divide. Both the amenities of the base and the working area were all coed.
This was different for the singular ships, as she had noticed that their crews were either full male or full female, but that was that. And again, it meant that something close to a quarter of all ships had all-female crews.
It was a very interesting system, the one of this base. Although this one system was the best information Anna managed to get considering her 'stalker' keeping an eye on all she did.
When she was losing time with the other girls, there was something watching her.
When they would go eat something in the overly full cafeteria, there was someone watching her.
When Minako decided she wanted to learn this ping-pong game and she went along, there was someone watching her.
When Colette made a few too questions about the weird things about the hypnosis and she had to send her to the gym, there was someone watching her.
When Karim wanted to do something productive and they started to plot maps for the investigation, there was someone watching her.
And when she snuck away from everyone and tried to investigate the ship base, there was someone watching her too.
Of course, shacking her observer off wasn’t a problem at all, she had even done this much a few times before. Still, it was a bothersome situation and one that trimmed her options. Also, this place was too isolated to make sneaking around viable and she wouldn't have a way to avoid any possible consequences.
And so, other than taking notes on all vessels and weapons lying around, the best Anna could find was a building that housed only fairies. She also mapped all the depots, docks, and whatnot, but this was as useless information as it could get.
In the end, she had spent five days of her limited supplies and time without anything to show for it. And still, the white-haired shadow following her was still to make any move.
At least, that was true until the dawn of the sixth day.
The sun had barely left its hiding spot below the horizon when the Leviathan's intercom came to life. From it, a message telling Anna's group to prepare to leave and a noisy wake-up siren started to ring. And soon enough, the sneaky girl knocked on their quarter's door.
“Good morning, white girl.” Colette called as she opened the door while still in her exercise clothes. The sight of a half-clothed six-packed tall girl towering over her seemed to make the white officer retreat a little, though.
“G-good morning…” Alya squeezed out before nodding in the direction of the other girls that were getting ready inside the room. In a different fashion from usual, her officer garbs included a hat this time.
"Wanna come in?" Anna asked from behind her brawny friend. She was ready to leave but seeing the captain-fashioned girl looking around caught her curiosity.
“No, it's just... Well... W-was it… Was it too early?”
"Nah, yer just in time."
"I can carry her if we need to," Col added as she put on her shirt and changed back to some pants. "None of you are heavy enough to give me a problem."
"That's an option if she won't wake up, but she'll be fine after a li'l bit... I think."
Waking up this early wasn't that much of a problem for Annabeth, she was yet to sleep either way. And both Col and Karim seemed to deal with it well too, even if the former wasn't in a perfect state. But Minako was almost a walking dead at this moment.
How someone like this could deal with the duties of a priest was a mystery. The current theory was that she had some sort of secondary personality, by the way. One that could, sometimes, be serious and act properly.
It wasn't much of a problem though as, if needed, Anna could always burn some of her stimulants on the fox, but that was for later. Burning through her supplies while she had no way of replenishing them wasn't a good idea no matter what. And by now, she was all but out of anything but silver bullets and elixir.
Half a dozen stimulants, two doses of sedative, one magazine of magical bullets but no catalyst, and a last explosive round. Other than these, she still had twenty elixirs, ten magazines with silver bullets, and fifty shotgun cartridges.
If it wasn't for the bigger problem brewing in the back of her mind, then her supply would be the most pressing one. Still, it was a matter for later.
“I wouldn’t call it too early, but…” Karim joined the conversation while approaching the navy officer. “If this is about the ship and the shrines, could we take breakfast first?”
“I’d prefer to see the ship now, ay? Ain’t much of a breakfast person.” The lock-and-loaded girl seized the chance to speak with her small stalker alone, pushing a little closer to the door as she did so. “Could I look ‘round while they eat?”
“Ain’t no problem, ay? Y’all don’t see the problem too, ‘aight?” She kept pushing, crashing through what was likely to be some sort of rejection and looking at the blondie glaring back.
As it was, Colette wouldn’t go against her and Minako wasn’t even able to walk properly, so only Karim could overrule her call. And as long as she got the not-so-subtle winking and signaling, this much shouldn’t be a problem too.
“Sigh… Have you eaten already, Ms. Wessex?” The shorter girl asked, receiving a surprised expression and a small nod in answer. “So, it seems it shouldn’t be a problem to let our resident weirdo into the ship first, would it?”
“I’m not sure, b-but I still need to explain…” The white-haired girl answered in the closest she got to a proper speech ever since she arrived. If it was a matter of negotiation skills or only because the two inquisitors were threatening in looks, Anna was unsure.
“Which dock is the prepared ship, please?”
“Huh? It… It’s dock sixteen… B-but…”
“Then we’ll be there in half an hour. Get our bags there while you’re at it, Annabeth.” Karim closed the argument as she started to drag Minako outside, stopping only to glare at her partner. “And I’ll call it as you owning her a favor, by the way, so don’t try anything weird.”
And just like that, the witch and the kitsune left the room, nodding for the brawler in casual clothes to follow suit.
“See you later.”
The room was vacated, leaving only the shocked captain and the redhead trying to lift a bunch of bags. She was lucky that these had only a few sets of clothes instead of an arsenal like her own bag. Only this much was almost enough to make her unable to raise the bags.
Still, almost in her cargo limit, the inquisitor tapped Alya's shoulder and nudged her outside.
“Lead the way, ay? We've important matters to
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