Azur Lane: Episode of Belfast Volume 3 Chapter 1 Part 12
After all that, without being able to close the gap with Ajax, the second island came into view of the racers.
The third runner of the Maid Corps’ team, Newcastle, could already be seen waiting in the distance.
The number of times that the participants needed to flip the pancakes on the frying pan was five this time around.
Since Fiji was already behind because of the interference of the suicide boats, she was in a rush to make up for the gap that had been opened because of that.
And it was this feeling that led to unnecessary mistakes on her end.
The power she was putting into her flips was way too strong, and it caused the pancakes to bounce way too much. Fiji, who was standing in shallow waters of the island’s beach, hurriedly held up her frying pan, but was unable to recover from her mistakes and dropped the pancakes into the seawater.
「Ooohhh! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! There we go!」
Newcastle calls out to Fiji in order to calm her down, seeing that she was becoming more and more panicked by the minute.
「Please, try to calm down, Fiji-san. Pick it up again, then flip it over five times just liek you were practicing and you should be fine.」
Leander then easily passed by a teary-eyed Fiji. Apparently, Ajax managed to flip her pancakes several times without any problems on the first try, and Fiji became even more impatient with her task when she realized that.
「No, we have to hurry…… We have to hurry or else we are going to be left behind!」
While speaking softly, Newcastle put her hands on Fiji’s shoulders.
The warmth of the former Head Maid;s touch cause Fiji to become confused and she rose up her head in apparent puzzlement.
「It’s okay, let’s calm down for a moment here, alright? I will definitely catch up her in no time. Trust me.」
「No, but this is…… Okay. I’ll try.」
Fiji, whose make-up was all about to be worn out now, slowly started to flip the frying pan upside down five time.
「There, you see? Good job ———」
Once Newcastle lightly hugged Fiji who looked as if she was about to cry, she took her frying pan and quickly left the island while going towards the next checkpoint.
Though she’s already well behind Leander, she rushes towards her anchor, which was of course Belfast.
* * *
When the news arrived from the second island that all the relay runners had departed, Neptune knew it was her time to get herself ready for what was about to come. In order to receive the frying pan from Leander’s hands, she began to move towards the designated position.
According to the transmissive display that one of the Manjus was holding up along the coast, it seems that the third runner, Leander, has now jumped into the lead of the race.
Neptune had little to no idea what the obstacle that would stand in her way would be, but Leander’s own abilities must have worked to her advantage against this unknown adversity.
Meanwhile, the Maid Corps’ team was left far behind.
They were currently in fifth place, but Newcastle somehow managed to make a miraculous comeback and was slowly moving up the ranking ladder.
「… but that’s all that she can hope to accomplish.」
Neptune said while clenching her fists really hard.
Last year, she managed to climb to second place while chasing after the members of the Maid Corps, but this year it was the complete opposite of that exact situation.
「Belfast. That I can promise you right now: I will be the one serving the that Annual Spring Tea Party.」
Neptune declared that in a voice filled with confidence to Belfast, who was also staring at the provided display.
However, when Belfast answered Neptune’s declaration, she did so in a very calm and composed voice.
「Yes, while what you said is indeed the truth, it is also the truth that we are also different from how we used to be last year.」
Unlike last year, there were many things that changed in Neptune.
As evidence of that, she was now able to express her own feelings very frankly and more openly.
「……I must admit, I was rather frustrated on that day a year ago.」
Belfast stared at Neptune curiously as she remembered the last race where she ended up in second place.
「When I think about it, I always wanted to pretend to be a solitary existence above all else.」
She thought it was not appropriate for the maids to serve at the Tea Party, and that may have been a manifestation of that feeling. That’s what Neptune had always thought up until now.
「But now it’s different for you?」
Neptune evaded Belfast’s curious gaze, as if she did not want to answer that question. She only said something along the lines of “I wonder?”.
But in fact, she has already admitted it inside of her own heart.
About how she felt about Belfast and how she felt about the entire Maid Squad.
When Neptune clearly acknowledged this, she was able to realize her new value.
—— Yeah, she really did like that taste. Hell, she might even love it, if she was to be completely honest.
—— It was a strong taste rather than a gentle feeling. However, it was most certainly very delicious.
—— There was a certain sense of familiarity to it, and this was not a bad thing in and out of itself..
「……But, I will never say ‘thank you’ for that.」
She looked away embarrassedly, so she said that in a voice that Belfast couldn’t quite hear.
It wasn’t long before Leander came towards the third island.
As preparations for the anchors to move out began, Neptune once again told Belfast.
「I swear that I will not lose to you.」
「And likewise, Neptune-sama. Even I don’t want to concede the victory if I can help it.」
Belfast responded with a firm tone and prepared to welcome Newcastle by her side.
「I’ve thought about it a lot since then, but I think I’m the right person to fit in that picture frame.」
「…… And once again, I must ask: what is this picture frame that you keep talking about?」
Leander came along when Belfast twisted her neck in puzzlement.
「I’ll leave the rest to you, Neptune.」
Neptune, who received the frying pan from Leander, laughed at her words as she shot forward without a moment of hesitation.
「Ufufu, you don’t have to say it.」
From her initial speed, she flew out of there with all of her might while accelerating.
While she was running alone in the lead, the last obstacle finally approached right in front of her.
—— I see. So, the last obstacle is an air attack, huh?
An unbelievable amount of fighters and bombers were fast approaching Neptune.
—— But it doesn’t seem like she could avoid getting stuck in their assault.
She did her best to dodge the bombs that were being dropped one after another at her, and moved forward while firing back her anti-aircraft guns.
The ships that came one after another seemed to be having a hard time with the fighter planes that were aiming and them and attacking relentlessly.
「Just a little bit more! Just a little bit, and I’m going to be out of the airstrike zone……!」
That’s when Neptune managed to break through the final carpet bombardment from a group of bombers.
「What the ——!」
She let out her voice involuntarily.
Because just as she got out of the airstrike zone, another shipgirl managed to jump up in front of her and steal the lead from her.
It was Belfast, the Head Maid of the Royal Maid Corps, who was supposed to be lagging behind. She broke through the ferocious airstrike zone at full speed while creating a smoke screen around her.
「Why are you……!!」
After passing the corner where the two had passed the bombing, it was a straight course all the way back to the Home Port island.
In terms of distance, there was only a few kilometers left.
Surprised to see something like that, Neptune was so thrown off of her game that she actually almost tripped and fell into the ocean, an action that someone like Belfast would not overlook. And she used that opportunity right away to overtake Neptune and further cement her lead.
The voices of the spectators sitting in the galleries who had been watching at the Home Port island erupted all at once in a loud cheer.
No one must have imagined that there would be such a hot development right at the very end of the race.
When Neptune, who had been deprived of the top spot, raised her voice, Belfast silently smiled and looked back slowly.
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Azur Lane: Episode of Belfast
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