1st, thanks to all PMs, thankfully game seems to continue, cantona is teaching 4 nights a week, trying to learn to drive, and is about to have a baby, so getting a room together.
So real life is getting in his way..............
To be honest, one just has to give Cantona a chance
"I seem to be doing this too much" thinks Takeji, as he lowers his glasses again. But despite all internal resolutions to not do it, ones eyes just keep being dragged back to the great warship 1000 yards away.
Zuikaku continues to drag herself painfully through the seas., her deck tilted at more than 20 degrees, her bow low. her flooding has stabilised, it seems, yet her painful progress remains at 7 lousy knots.
About her, spread across this bright blue mill pond, the fleet plods on.
The escorts do, that is. The carriers need wind across the deck today, and they have had a busy day completing racetracks about Zuikaku, , a task far easier to talk about than do.
But there have been no SSattacks, not yet , anyway..........
Zuiho's Jills are all away, flying ASW patrol, her zeros, (only 11 available today!) constantly launching and recovering as they add to the CAP.
Even with out action, after 5 days of battle, this task alone is testing her mens endurance to the limit..
Takeji murmers to himself the words that surely a thousand others out here with him have thought.'Just one more day......just one"
One more day, and they will be out of enemy air range.
Zuikaku may be crippled, yet Abe has not yet abandoned her. The intent is clear, the Admiral will make home on his flagship, or not at all.
Like every man in his fleet, he is at the very edge of exhaustion now, thoughts break in mid stream, calculations are all but impossible, decisions, once so clear and quick, now clouded, foggy..........hard to reach.
He sits still in his chair on the bridge, feet braced against the heel, and stares numbly at the latest message from one of CV Aso's Jills
8 fleet carriers 40 miles due West of horn island, speed 20 knots, many escorts..........
With a great effort, he struggles from his chair, climbs the hill to the chart table. With out a word he passes the signal to Zuikaku's captain.
The Captain curls it into a ball. 'Yes, trouble indeed. .............if they sprint over night........."
"They could catch us tomorrow, yes"
A long silence, the fleets CAP background music to this most vital of decisions.
"Not enough torpedoes, too many tired men, too many lost men in fact.............."
Wearily, almost with finality, Abe sits back into his Chair
"Assign 6 destroyers to us, we must detach the fleet, get them the hell out of here. Biak must provide Cap for us..........The Americans are cautious, maybe they will not come............."
Abe is tired, so very tired.
And maybe that is good. It never occurs to him that a mere week ago, he would have ordered Combined fleet to rush south to seek battle.
Now, it seems, they must slink away into the night.
A week, how much can change in a week..............