I dream, and I am at a trial. Around are those who will judge, all beautiful ladies from around the world. Lyrical names like Kongo and Yamato, stern names such as Bismarck and Scharnhorst, practical ones like Arizona and Utah, and historic ones such as Hood and Prince of Wales, are all in the front row. Many rows stretch into the distance – too many to count. I see a gaunt figure, clad in black, face obscured. And in the centre, stands one young lady, so pale as to seem a spirit.
The black arm points to me, and I hear a whisper of a voice – “Why Her, above all these lost across time? Why should a ghost walk in memory when so many more deserving slip into darkness, forgotten?”
I think for a few seconds, as I recall the story of the young spectre. I remember, and I look into the rows stretching into the distance. Though my throat tightens, I manage to work the words out.
“She deserves to stand among you, for though her existence is a flight of fancy, the spirit of her sacrifice is all too real. She threw herself into an impossible battle, fighting an unconquerable foe, to protect the weak and buy them time to flee. The sight of her valiant struggle lifted the hearts of all who saw, and though she fell at the last, she lived to the fullest, the most any of you could hope for.”
The black figure pauses. After a few minutes, the arm raises again. “Shall we add her name to our list, then, and permit her the immortality which all others here have so painfully earned?”
I can’t hold back the tears, but I nod. “Yes, sir, please. She deserves no less, and will help we poor humans to remember all here, so much the better.”
The black figure looks to the gallery, and there is a murmur I cannot understand, yet somehow know to be positive. The figure points to the little one in the centre, and speaks a final sentence.
“So be it. Brought here before your greater kin, all those who gave all and more, you have been found to be worthy. Thanks to this human, you will be allowed to join your sisters here.”
Then he turns to me. “Go now, and remember all these names. Speak them with the reverence they so richly deserve. And thanks to you, you can speak one more name with them – HMS Thunderchild.”
I awake with a start, then smile, wipe away a single tear, and close the book I’ve been reading – “The War of the Worlds”. Goodnight,and rest easy, HMS Thunderchild.