Scrya Chronicles – Chapter 1
The Infinite Library—a repository of knowledge in the form of a space-station that was used by various powers of time passed, spoils of war from various dimensions during the Warring States Era. Different wings held different forms of data-storage, seven-hundred years of knowledge from different sources tossed together by formatting rather than culture, and dumped into it without care or order. It was a sprawling trove of wisdom that had yet to be sorted into anything that would pass as orderly, and there were a number of librarians working to put order to the chaos.
At present one amongst them was hard at work as he floated off the floor of the wing holding the physical data-storage units, books. There was a book levitating in front of him, wreathed in viridian light to prevent any chance of accidentally damage it. His emerald eyes tried to decipher the contents through the lens of his glasses, unraveling the context of the work from recognizing the ciphers somewhat, when he received a ping in his mind over the telepathic channel.
'Scrya-san,' rang the mental voice of the Chief Librarian for this wing within the confines of his mind, drawing his attention. 'Can you come to my office? There's a matter I wish to discuss with you.'
'I'll be there in a moment,' Yuuno Scrya replied, setting the text back where he found it. It would most likely be there when he got back. Lowering to the ground he passed the sprawling piles of tomes that had yet to be sorted as he made his way to the exit. There was so much to do and not enough time or manpower.
He ventured to the office of the Chief Librarian for their wing, where he was welcomed inside by the man himself. Xoel Clavis was a man who was in his mid-50s at current, wrinkles beginning to appear and his black hair was being encroached by shades of grey. He looked tired and unassuming, but his lips were crooked into a placid smile.
"Good afternoon, Scrya-san," he said. "I apologize from taking you from your work all of a sudden."
"It's fine," Yuuno replied, taking a seat in the chair opposite the chrome desk that the Chief Librarian sat behind. "What was it you wished to discuss with me?"
"Yes, well…." Coal-black eyes settled onto his emerald ones as the older man set his arms on the desk and steepled his fingers. "Scrya-san, you've done a number of great things for the Infinite Library over these last few years. It wouldn't be a stretch to say you're responsible a great deal of the advances we've made to this date. That's why I wanted to tell you personally that I've nominated you for my position of the next Chief Librarian for this wing."
Yuuno took a moment to process that with a mere blink. He had been working at the Infinite Library for almost five years at present. At his current age, fourteen, it would make him the youngest Chief Librarian in the known history of the Infinite Library. "Um… is that really possible?"
"I wouldn't have nominated you if I didn't think you were qualified," he stated. "I've run it by some of my superiors. No one was opposed to the idea given your dedication and I'm not getting any younger. Not to mention the dreams…"
He arched his brows at the last word. "Dreams, sir?"
Chief Librarian shuddered. "Yes, the dreams… where the library itself is alive, swallowing me whole as I try desperately to escape from its grasp. I wouldn't be the first it's claimed. After some time the work simply becomes too much and I'm due for retirement anyway."
Yuuno mulled it over in his head, trying to think about what the position would entail. He already spent so much time there already, but it wasn't a chore. He liked working there and the hours simply seemed to pass by. But as it was he couldn't find the excitement or elation he would have expected from being offered the position.
It was missing, replaced a sensation of uncertainty. It ate away at him for reasons he didn't know why.
Xoel took his silence as an opportunity to add, "You can always refuse. It's a big commitment, time-consuming, and you are relatively young. No one would blame you for not taking the position to keep your social life and there will be other opportunities."
"It's not that, I just…" He trailed off, looking away and wondering why he wasn't more ecstatic about it. He scratched the back of his head and brushed against the ribbon in it that was tied around a gathering of strands, making a small rattail. It was a gift he'd received from Nanoha. Was that the reason he was so hesitant? "May I have some time to think about it?"
He received a slight nod in response. "I imagine you'd want to discuss it with your family and friends as well. We can make arrangements for two weeks off that you've had rolling over."
After being dismissed from the Infinite Library for the time being Yuuno found himself at the TSAB training grounds. His Civ-Device was granted a certain-level of access to the grounds as the Infinite Library was part of the TSAB headquarters structure. Normally Nanoha would be on Earth, but it was a long weekend and he had guessed that she would have arrived to make use of the facility with the proper permissions. She had mentioned it once before.
He found her, eventually, engaging in aerial combat against Fate. The two were in contrasting Barrier Jackets, clashing above as one tried to close the distance while the other bombarded her with shooting spells. He found himself staring at the white-clad mage while lost in thought for some time, just watching….
"Didn't think I'd see you here," said a familiar voice that he hadn't heard for some time. He turned to find Arf there in her adult form, although rather than the usual white top and pink shorts that composed her Barrier Jacket she was adorned in a white blouse and black jeans, keeping her black shoes. One of her hands was on her hips while the other held some kind of snack bar. "The glasses are new, Yuuno-kun."
"Yeah, but they help." He gave her warm smile. "Besides, I'm not the only one who looks different. I like it though. Makes you look more mature, Arf-san."
"I see you're a charmer now too," she said with a hit of humor to be found in her voice as she approached the glass and stood next to him. Much like his eyes had been fixed on the white blur speeding around the air above the training ground, hers were on the lightning bolt in human form, dressed in black and wielding a scythe made of mana."They're really going at it, huh?"
He nodded. "Looks like it."
"So, should I tell them you're here?" she asked, before taking a bite out of the bar in her hand. "It's not like they're in a rush since they have the field for another two hours or so."
"I don't want to interrupt them," he said as Fate burned a Sonic Move and vanished, hiding even her mana trail in the process. Nanoha searched for it only to bring up a Round Shield on her right that was slammed into by a cluster of Photon Bullets. It was a decoy as Fate appeared to her rear with her scythe upraised, ready to bring it down.
Yuuno wanted to tell her to watch her rear, but Nanoha didn't need the warning to bring her other hand up. A shield spell sprung into existence, the circle acting as a bulwark to stop the blade of mana. Hoop Binds emerged from the circle as well, attempting to ensnare the device and its wielder, locking them into place.
The spell we worked on together, he thought silently. It was probably a year ago that she had come to him and asked for his help on the zero-distance bind spell, setting up the algorithms and streamlining it for use. That was when she had given him the ribbon that he wore in his hair, actually.
Finishing her bar and tossing the wrapper in the trash, Arf wrapped one of her arms around his and pulled the librarian close. "Let's go to Lunch. There's a place not too far from here and they'll be at this for a while."
"Sure," he said with a sigh, sparing the two aerial mages a final glance. "I've got the time."
"So, you came to ask Nanoha-chan if you should take on a Chief Librarian position for your wing of the Infinite Library?" Arf summarized what he told her over Lunch.
"I'm just trying to figure out why I'm not as satisfied about it as I should be," he said. "She's one of the people who know me best, so I figured she'd give me some insight into it."
"Well, if you don't mind I can take a shot at it," the familiar offered casually. "I can't claim to know you as well as her, but I think we can relate to one another enough that I can guess."
Yuuno found himself curious to her incite as well. Thus he nodded and gave her the go ahead. "Go for it."
Arf took a measured breath and then began. "You feel like this is something major, which it is considering you'd be the youngest in history to hold that position. But there's a void, a black hole where you would normally feel as though you can take pride in it. You know something's missing, something critical, and without it …this achievement has no meaning to you. It's hollow."
"That's… about right," he admitted. It was actually a bit freighting of how accurate her summary of what he felt was. "I should be happy, but there's no emotional investment in it for me personally for some reason. When I think back to before we met, the time when I was simply an archeologist stumbling upon a discovery, it feels shallow compared to then when it shouldn't."
"Why did you originally take the job, Yunno-kun?" she asked softly. Her eyes never left his as she continued. "Why did you give up archeology for being a Librarian, despite it being your clan's trade and something you loved?"
His mouth opened to respond. Nothing came out. Why did he give up archeology? What changed? The answer came abruptly and left his mouth in a whisper. "Nanoha."
It all came back to her. He introduced her to the world of magic and the TSAB, taking responsibility for it by teaching her initially. Time invested, a relationship formed, and he became attached to her as he watched her grow as a mage, taking responsibilities that were far above her head and not her own.
That attachment became powerful in such a short time. While he did love learning about history and exploring ruins as an archeologist, he gave it up so easily because he could be of more help to her nestled in the library. And after the Book of Darkness had been dealt with he stayed on as a Librarian.
Yes, it was of his own free will that he remained. It was a bastion of knowledge after all and there were still untapped treasures within it that had yet to be found. But, if he had to admit to himself, part of him always thought—always hoped—that if she needed him he would drop everything and be by her side in the role he once held since that night she found him injured.
That was why he kept up practicing with his spells every few nights. He didn't even like combat to being with, but he would always have her back. To keep himself from growing rusty just in case he was called upon even though she now had the likes of Hayate and her Knights, Fate, and even the TSAB.
That was why he occasionally played around with modifying his spells. Despite that it had been a full year since they even worked alongside one another when he held her develop the zero-distance bin, he still figured he could teach her something new. But between what Fate and the TSAB could instruct her through, the sad truth was that he simply didn't have anything left to teach her…. which was the one other major connecting point they had.
Nanoha doesn't need me anymore, he realized at last. That was why he didn't feel any major sense of accomplishment, because the reason he took the position no longer needed him. Because after everything he'd done to this point, nothing gave him more satisfaction than those times he spent guiding her and defend her.
The realization was so heavy it made his shoulders fall from the imaginary weight. The corner of his lips dropped down. He managed to stop them just enough to make his smile sad as he looked at the familiar. "How'd you guess so easily?"
Yuuno caught the sudden shift in her tone from placid to downcast as she whispered in an unusually low voice. "It's not a pleasant place to be…."
Then he recognized the look in her eyes. They weren't eyes of sympathy, acknowledging his plight. Nor were they eyes of pity at his realization, how he had shored himself up to be willing to drop everything to come to the aid of someone who would most likely never need it again. They were empathetic. "You too?"
Looking down into the mug, Arf stared bitterly at her own reflection. "I was uplifted in order to shore up Fate's weaknesses when she was younger and her body was still developing. I was a necessity for her. But she's gotten to the point where she doesn't need me anymore and her combat style has been refined to the point where I can't keep up or contribute in a way she can't do in spades."
She shook her head and looked up, revealing the melancholy hidden behind her gaze. "I can fight, but I'm not needed. What purpose does a familiar serve once they can no longer do the very thing they were created for?"
"Arf-san," he whispered breathlessly, taken at seeing her look so… lost. Usually only older mages created familiars once they were to the point that they need assistance in battle from age or injury. They could let the familiars take their place as they shifted into a different role and could dedicate more mana to them.
But Fate and Arf had been different from the start, being uplifted before Fate had even reached her prime, in order to save her when she was a Mid-Childan wolf. As a result, instead of taking over the mage's role, she was now being stripped out of her role as a guardian and fighter. The consequence of that was now she was adrift and searching for something else to fill the void that was her mission in life.
"So your change in outfit?" he guessed.
She nodded. "Just a failed effort to find something new, or different. I can't tell you how many Jacket templates I've gone through trying to make a change that matters but, while Fate was kind enough to let me live how I wanted to, I can't think of any other way to live that would let me be of help to her. It really—"
"Hurts," he finished for her. A single word meant to encapsulate the sensation of losing the purpose they moved under. It wasn't nearly enough to properly vocalize the feeling, but it was the only word that came to mind.
"Yeah…." She sighed. "I figured you'd understand since, for all intents and purposes you might as well have been Nanoha's familiar. Chrono still calls you Ferret Boy, you know?"
"Still?" Yunno only sounded exasperated at that. It was feigned to an extent. But it did allow his mind to drift away from the painful thoughts.
He imagined it was the same for her as she put on a soft smile. "You change into a small and cuddly animal, you're a synthetic A-ranked mage, and you specialize in using barriers, binds, and teleportation spells without a device. Lindy suggested that you were another example of legacy gene-modification made for body-guarding."
The mood shifted to something more lighthearted with that, a change of topics to alleviate the weight of the prior discussion. It was more than welcomed. "Probably one of the early Dawn States, but it's never been a priority for me to be certain."
"You could always join up with the Air Force if you still want to support Nanoha on the field," Arf pointed out. "Lindy could put in a recommendation and anyone with the clearance to review the incidents you were involved would do the same."
He actually thought about it. It would get him closer to her, back on the field… then he shook his head. "She still wouldn't need me. I'd end up getting into more fights and I wouldn't make any sort of difference in the grand scheme of things. I actually like working where I do, despite everything."
Arf sighed softly as she leaned her head back to stare at the ceiling. "At least you have that option. I only joined the TSAB because Fate needed me watching her back, but if I quit I'll only end up lounging around Lindy's house."
"Well, you could always come to work at the Infinite Library and see where that goes?" he offered, throwing her a lifeline as best he could. "It'd be nice to have a friend around, truthfully."
Snapping her head up, she made a show of thinking it over. "I might take you up on that. We'll see. But what do you plan to do next?"
"I… think I'll visit my clan," Yuuno said with some hesitance. When was the last time he'd done so? "They send a message to all members when moving between worlds and the last one I got stated they were staying at a compound here like they always do between digs. I haven't seen any of them in person for some time anyway."
He finished his drink and then stood from his seat. "It was nice talking to you after so long, Arf-san. We should do it again sometime."
She couldn't agree more. "I'll let you treat me next time then."
Yuuno approached a moderate-sized building that was being rented out to the Scrya Clan for the duration of their on-world stay. They were a nomadic clan that traversed the different worlds in search of ruins of ages past, all in hopes of unraveling the mysteries of the times lost or on contract, and commuted to worlds near the site to do an archeology expedition. Between the different expeditions and occasional contract by the TSAB, they rested on Mid-Childa and restocked for the next venture.
It's been too long, he thought to himself as he kept his distance. There were a number of his clan members around, all of them wearing Jackets that had their clan's tribal symbol emblazed upon them. Even the custom outfits had markings somewhere prominent. In contrast he was still in his work clothes.
"Yuuno?" said another familiar voice while he contemplated switching to his Barrier Jacket. It was one that he hadn't heard for some time. He turned to find Carrie Scrya standing there.
She was taller than him by a head, having undergone a growth spurt at some point. Her black hair was cut short in the front, the rest restrained in the form of a ponytail like his hair was. Her oversized shirt with her clan emblem on the front fell over her thighs, eclipsing her shorts, and around her neck was a diamond-shaped amethyst that matched the hue of her eyes.
"Hi Carrie," he said. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"
"That's putting it lightly," she shot back with more than a note of displeasure in her voice. "We weren't even sure you were going to come back. After all, you never come to see us when we're here after you got a job with the TSAB. Figured you lost your nerve after that mess with the Jewel Seeds you dug up and abandoned us."
Yuuno frowned a bit. It was a surprisingly sharp barb. "Is that what everyone thinks?"
She puffed out her cheeks. A habit of hers when they were younger that she apparently hadn't outgrown. It'd be cute if not for the fact that she was looking down at him. "Well it's what I think. You spend all your time away from us with your head buried in books. You even need glasses now from the look of it."
"Carrie, it's not like that," Yuuno told her. "I've just been busy and—"
She stepped behind him and then started to push him towards the compound, cutting him off through actions rather than words. He wasn't going to beat her in terms of strength so he didn't bother trying to hold out against her. Thus he was forced through the doors and into the midst of the rest of his clan members, most of whom were his seniors.
When he was a child there weren't many others close to his age. Carrie was one of the few. But now he could see there were many more members who were his juniors, and just as many his seniors. It seemed that at some point there had been a lot of births in the clan.
Most of the younger children were entertaining themselves in some manner, or resting. More than a few of the adults had brought up photos and charts, analyzing and combing over the latest discoveries and documenting the notes. At least until Carrie announced his presence.
"Look who we have here!" she shouted, grabbing their attention. Suddenly he had a number of eyes on him. It was weird, making him feel even more out of place by the lack of a clan emblem on his clothing.
"Hi everyone," he said a bit nervously. "It's been a long time."
To his surprise, more so given Carrie's disposition, he was welcomed back with open arms as a member of the clan who had been away. None more so than one of the elderly women who approached him and took him into her arms. "It's good to see you again, Yuuno-kun."
"Same to you, Elder-sama," he said, returning the gesture. She felt fragile in his arms compared to a few years ago. "I'm sorry I've been away for so long."
She broke the hug and chuckled, her wrinkles shifting in the process as she formed a smile on her face. "That's all right. Everyone has their own path in life and no one here would begrudge you for finding a different one than ours."
"I would!" Carrie interjected.
"Shush child," the Elder reprimanded her, before motioning with her hands for Carrie to leave. "Go and make some tea for us."
"Yes, Elder-sama…." Carrie glared at him before leaving in a huff.
Yuuno found himself at a loss with her as a result. He remembered her when they were younger, a simpler time before they were allowed on the actual explorations of the sites that they landed near. Carrie had been the one to try and teach him shooting spells and, when that failed drastically, she had been the one to help him with his combat training by testing against his shields while the adults were busy.
And now she seemed hostile towards him… not that he couldn't take a guess at why she was. She was proud of her clan. By setting off and being distant, he had probably offended her with his self-exile. His shoulders dropped at the thought.
'Don't mind her,' the Elder said through telepathy. 'She's probably the most excited to see you again despite being so hostile. Never was good at properly showing how she cared to others and always so proud of her clan.'
The Elder's mature fingers grasped Yuuno's hands. They also felt so much smaller than he remembered, frailer too. She turned to lead him to a table. "Sit, talk, you have the time for that, yes? How have you been?"
"I've been offered the position of being a Chief Librarian at the Infinite Library once the current one retires," he said as they took a seat next to one another. "I'll be the youngest one in history to get the position."
She laughed at that, a laugh of joyous pride at him that made her body tremble in conjunction. "You were always destined for great things it seemed. I'm sure your parents would be proud as I am."
He only nodded his head at that. His parents had died when he was less than a year old while working along with the Scyra Clan on a site. They were caught by a security system that had triggered when someone ran an aggressive scan and were among the casualties of it. The Scyra Clan took him in after that. He wished he felt more about their loss, but he never really knew them so it was only a lingering sense of what could have been rather than the agony of loss.
The Elder's gray eyes peered into his emerald ones inquisitively as Carrie returned and set down the tea. "But you didn't come here for permission or my blessing alone, did you? You seem to be hesitant about it, in fact. Why?"
"I'm not sure if it's what I want in the end," he admitted. "Don't misunderstand, I love working there, like I loved being an archeologist with all of you. But for some reason I'm feeling like something is missing from both of them."
"Hmm…yes, I can see that…" The Elder drank from her tea and sighed. "You were always so precocious when it came to magic and work. I should have guessed you would reach this point sooner than others."
"A friend suggested that it was because the original reason I joined, for another friend's sake, was no longer valid." His lips fell into a soft frown. "I can't help but think that she's right. I mean I like what I do now, but I gave up archeology to do it and if I take the position I'll be anchored there and…."
"Well, Yuuno-kun, the simplest solution will suffice here," she said. "Carrie and Theisal were assigned to a scouting mission, but I would feel great relief if you joined them. Your data acquisition and analysis abilities could come in handy, and you would be able to determine whether or not there's more satisfaction in what you do now or what you've given up on."
The Scrya Clan sent out scouts to find different sites when they weren't being contracted, following up on leads. The work involved making sure the conditions of the site were stable enough for the clan to operate there, involving some preliminary work. The length of time varied, but more often than naught it depended on the scouts.
Carrie cringed, a sight that was caught by the Elder immediately. A telepathic line was opened up between them. 'You have objections, child?'
'I'm not sure we can trust him to have our backs,' Carrie stated bluntly. 'If it were the old him then I would, but after whatever happened with the Jewel Seeds he got all quiet and distant, like he was somewhere else while he was with us on that last site. And then he left again without warning and stopped coming back to work at the Infinite Library.'
'Most of those things are classified,' the Elder stated. 'Not even I have the full details, only that they involve Lost Logia, and from the report of the Flotilla Admiral it would seem he risked his life to accomplish them.'
"I do have two weeks off," Yuuno said, ignorant of the other side of the conversation. "What's the site like?"
"A planet on the fringes of what was once Provve space," the Elder stated. "It is a Type-1c that appeared to have been undergoing terraformation to a Type-4, but somewhere along the way the process ended early and created an isolated area within the harsh world."
"Hmm, that is strange." Yunno grasped his chin and furrowed his brow. "Perhaps during the Warring States Era they needed to expand their space so they sought to use a dimension that was useless for the most part out of desperation? It is possible that they were fleeing as well and that they had been accosted by their pursuers who put an end to the project."
"There's only one way to find out," the Elder stated. "Uncovering the mysteries of the past is our role as Archeologists."
"It might be a good thing to help me figure out everything. I'd be happy to go along…." He trailed off as he thought about Arf and her words earlier. "Actually, can I request that someone else join us as well?"
The Elder raised her brow in interest. "Oh? Who did you have in mind?"
"A familiar of a friend who I think might be interested," he said. "She's in a similar situation as I am and, in my last few experiences, it wouldn't hurt to have another A-ranked mage capable of healing, defense, and teleportation in case something goes wrong or we run across the usual trouble with site raiders."
'Elder, we aren't a charity case!' Carrie sent through the link. 'We can't have someone inexperienced going about on an unverified site.'
'Shush,' the Elder responded, before clearing her throat and speaking to Yuuno. "If the familiar is willing then they may join you. But the responsibilities will be yours to ensure that they follow the same procedures and precautions that all Scrya do. It will be the same as when your parents were with us. "
"I'll contact her and then get ready," Yuuno stated. "Thank you, Elder-sama."