Academy Blues

By: Daishi Prime


Author's Note 1: I'm aware there's a third series, StrikerS due out next year, which means that this story, and its prequel (On the Path of Vengeance) are now AU stories, instead of just 'what if' aftermath stories. Also, there appears to be a consensus that Nanoha's device is named 'Raising Heart'. I have used the original translation, 'Raging Heart', all along, and prefer it for a variety of reasons, so I'm sticking with what I know works.

Author's Note 2: A majority of characters in this story will NOT be Japanese, so there will be a bit of confusion with the naming conventions. I will try to make most of them clear as to what is a given name, and what is a family name, but I am far from perfect. If there are complaints of confusion, I will consider posting a list of student names, nicknames and other identifiers at the end of a future chapter.


- Chapter 01 – Groundwork -

Chrono strode down the hallway, studying the data-slate in his hand intensely. The data it contained was innocuous in itself, just a report of readiness states for various ships in his squadron that were currently located at Headquarters. But the fact that those ships, all of them, were all months away from deployment presented him with an aggravating scheduling problem. Scanning the list again, he muttered to himself, "Dammit, Nanoha, why'd you have to break my ship?"

"It's not your ship anymore, Chrono-kun," Amy reminded him, "you passed command to Fate last year, remember?"

Chrono glared at her, but she was long used to him and just smiled back. "She still shouldn't have broken it like that."

"It was a training accident," Amy said, still looking amused, but at least amused at something else. "Admittedly, they should know better than to have one of their all-out 'training' bouts on ship-board, but the engineers have been assuring us for years those containment fields will hold any level of magic. Also, she and Fate never have been very good at keeping track of their own strength, so it's not really their fault they overloaded the containment fields."

"But it puts a hole in my deployments," Chrono muttered, returning to the slate. "With Asura in repairs for their playing about, Valkyrie damaged by that anomaly off Secan, and Rhondheim and Deva both damaged restraining that nutcase in Van Sole, I'm down four ships, and I've got nothing to replace them with. That's a problem, a big one."

"Relax, Chrono-kun," Amy said, pulling the slate out of his hand. She had followed him again when he left the Asura to Fate, and was still treating him like her kid brother, but she was also the most effective assistant he had ever seen. "Things are relatively calm right now, and we have plenty of ships. We can speed up a couple of the refits, and spread the load between the operational members of the squadron. They can cover the gaps well enough for a couple months."

Chrono sighed, nodding, but he hated when things did not go according to plan, and was even less happy with the lack of a reserve. "I guess, but that's going to screw up the readiness rates for the operational ships, and speed up their maintenance cycles... gah, why did I ever agree to a desk job."

"Because your mother asked you to," Amy said, "and it was the only way to get Fate command experience any time soon. So you..."

She was cut off by a shout, and the sound of someone jogging behind them, "Admiral Hallaoun!"

Turning, Chrono saw another admiral, one he was unfamiliar with, moving with almost unseemly haste. The man stopped when he joined them, taking a moment to catch his breath before introducing himself as, "Admiral Jing. I needed to talk with you, if you have a few moments."

Something about the man set Chrono's nerves on edge immediately, and it only took him a moment to realize what it was. 'Admiral' or not, Chrono could tell that Jing had never served a day outside of Headquarters – there was a softness to his face, voice and stance that no field mage would ever retain past their first mission. "Concerning what subject? I'm rather busy at the moment, Admiral Jing."

"It's about the Yagami girl," Jing said, disdain dripping from his voice, "and her familiars."

"Hayate?" Chrono said, ignoring the misconception regarding the Velka as not worth the trouble to explain, "what about her?"

"Yes, I would like your assistance in dealing with this... project of hers."

Chrono frowned, somewhat confused at why another Bureau Admiral would be interested in Hayate's new job, now that her probation was officially over and she no longer had to work for the Bureau. "What about it? It is a private enterprise, outside Bureau jurisdiction."

"This project of hers is unbelievably dangerous, Chrono! Something like this is an invitation to disaster, possibly even on the scale of Alhazred, given the girl's demonstrated power and uncontrollability. It would be too dangerous to permit even if it was undertaken by a proper mage, let alone a reckless child such the Yagami girl. I have my doubts about ending the probation those five should be under, and even more about allowing them to depart Bureau Service, but those are minor issues. Allowing this farce..."

"Stop right there." Chrono could feel his own temper spiraling in reaction to Jing's arrogance and prejudice, and made no attempt to hide it. "The Yagami case has been mine from the start, Admiral. Execution of sentence for Yagami Hayate and her knights was placed in my hands, and I judged that sentence fulfilled. Such judgment was confirmed by a full tribunal review, per Bureau procedures and laws. If you have a problem with that judgment, take it up with the tribunals according to the proper procedures."

"I have already..."

Chrono rolled right over him, raising his voice only slightly, "but if you ever insult her or her knights again as you just did, I will personally break you, Admiral. I guarantee Hayate has done more for this organization than you ever have or will, as have each of her knights, individually and collectively. As for her project, it is a private enterprise, on a non-signatory world, and thus beyond the Bureau's jurisdiction. Thus it is no concern of yours. But in the interests of settling your obviously sensitive nerves, I assure you that Yagami Hayate knows far more about magic, lost logia, dimensional dislocations, and the dangers of her craft than you do, as she has been working with the most powerful examples of all such things in the universe for almost a decade. I suggest, Admiral, that you remember all of that before you voice complaints about her or her 'project' where I can hear them."

Jing looked almost as insulted as he was afraid. To his credit, he actually had enough gall to continue, "Admiral Hallaoun, I assure you, I am only concerned by a potential danger. Better to prevent dislocations, than attempt to contain them after they occur, yes?"

The fear in the man's eyes helped Chrono get himself under control. "I assure you Admiral, every precaution that can be justifiably taken has been. There is no need to concern yourself with Yagami Hayate or her knights. Now if you don't mind, I have actual work to do, and very little time to do it in."

Without another word, he turned and continued stomping down the hallway. Jing technically outranked him, but Chrono was the descendant of one of the Bureau's greatest martyrs of the past half century, and was both a hero himself, and a leader of heroes. It would take more than seniority to earn a respectful attitude from him, or to intimidate him. He could hear Amy matching his pace, but all his attention was focused on the arrogant admiral now receding behind him.

Eventually, his grumbling became audible. "I can't believe him! She's bled for this damn place, worked for years! She saved us from the Tome, from Akira, what the hell does that fool think he's doing questioning her?"

Amy put a hand on his shoulder, "Chrono, calm down. He's a prejudiced old desk-jockey, nothing to get worked up about. We knew there were people opposed to letting Hayate, Shamal and the others go, for a lot of reasons."

"It just grinds my gears, listening to someone like that..."

"I know. But at least he's not in Fleet Operations, so we won't have to deal with him." Chrono blinked, then looked at Amy questioningly. She shrugged, "He's in admin, personnel. He can give us trouble, but too much and he'll be risking his own job when we complain about lack of response interfering with operations. High Command won't stand for someone causing problems for Operations."

"Yeah, I guess." The convoluted thought processes necessary to realize that did not come naturally to Chrono. He still thought of himself as a field mage, a direct type of person. Fortunately, he still had Amy to keep his head on straight. "Why the hell did I take this promotion?"


Four women and one massive blue dog walked slowly through the lines of granite and marble markers, heavily wrapped against the chill drizzle of an English spring. They walked as a group, but one walked a yard or so ahead of the others. They came to a single gravestone, set somewhat apart from its neighbors. It was further distinguished by the still fresh-turned earth stretching before it, waiting for the sod covering that would blend it with its neighbors.

Stopping at the foot, Hayate bowed her head as Signum, Shamal, Vita and Zafira arrayed themselves behind her. She could sense Signum's watchfulness spread over the cemetery, and Vita's discomfort with the quietude Hayate had requested, but she set those aside. Instead, in the manner of her homeland, she clapped her hands twice, to gather the attention of the departed, and whispered a prayer for the dead.

Proprieties observed, she crouched to place a small bouquet of flowers on the grave. "I will Miss you, Graham-sama," she said, speaking softly, for his ears rather than her knights'. It was hard, trying to speak to him without crying again, but she had shed her tears at his funeral, and would not again until she had told him what she was here for. "Whatever you may have been for the Bureau, whatever you may have been for everyone else, you became a part of my family these past nine years. You gave me my knights, my friends, far more valuable than all the money or resources. I could never repay you for that, grandfather.

"I cannot repay you, but I can repay the world. I thought of this after talking with Takashi, about myself, Sara and Nanoha. Such powerful mages cannot have come about in isolation, it is inconceivable that a world with no mages could produce so many powerful individuals in so short a time. There must be others, Terrans with magical abilities that they never recognized, never trained. I will find them, Graham-sama, find them and teach them. Control, responsibility, the cost of their power and its joys. Thanks to you, I now have the means to do it, as well.

"We found a stretch of land in Japan, south of Kyoto, and thanks to what you left me, I have already begun building. We even have the support of the Japanese government, if you can believe that, they have already granted us the licenses necessary. Now all we need are the students, and Signum and Shamal are already building our invitation list. The school will be small, to start, but I have hopes, plans." She was struggling now, to finish, but she struggled on, "I wish you could have seen it. I would have valued your advice and assistance more than almost anyone else's. But it was not to be, and I will Miss you all the more because of it, Ojii-sama."

She stood, and turned, only to be swept up in Shamal's embrace. She broke down crying then, pulling herself tight to Shamal's welcoming warmth. She was not sobbing, this time, but Admiral Graham truly had become her grandfather, the somewhat distant but kindly patriarchal figure that nonetheless provided her guidance, help, and that sense of continuity and protection that was so much more valued for having been missing from her life for so long. His loss, especially just as she was stepping out from under the Bureau's protective umbrella, was devastating, almost crippling, if not for her Knights.

When she had cried herself out again, she pulled away from Shamal, just enough to look up into her green eyes. "Thank you, Shamal," she whispered.

"Daijobou," Shamal answered, tear tracks visible on her face as well. The blonde pulled a handkerchief out of thin air and gently cleaned Hayate's face for her, drawing a mild, pro-forma protest. "Are you okay?"

"Hai," Hayate whispered, "I just..."

Signum's hand settling on her shoulder distracted her. "You do not need to explain, Mistress," her Sword Knight told her, "we understand."

It nonetheless took a few moments to gather herself together, before they turned to go. When they reached the edge of the parking lot, where the car they had rented waited, there were two more women waiting, one leaning against another car, the other standing nervously just next to her twin. The only oddities were the cat ears rising from their hair, and the fact that both of them still wore a modified version of a Bureau uniform. Personalities and uniforms aside, Aria and Lotte looked terrible, lost and dejected, hurt far more than Hayate was, which was understandable. Hayate had lost an adoptive grandfather, they had lost their creator and master.

Hayate kept going right past her car, and ignored the two's attempts to greet her, in favor of pulling Aria into a hug, reaching past her to take Lotte's hand as she stood from the car. "Aria, Lotte, I'm so sorry for your loss."

Lotte took her hand, but just shrugged, ears drooping a little further. Aria pulled Hayate tighter. "Thank you, Hayate-san."

"He left you everything," Lotte said, "everything that was his."

Hayate blinked at her, not understanding for a moment, then felt the blood rush out of her face. "Kami-sama, that includes you, doesn't it?"

Lotte nodded, but it was Aria who told her, "yes, if you wish. We will not..."

"I won't let you wander around lost," Hayate said, feeling the weight of yet another burden settle on her shoulders. Part of her railed against the idea. She was already responsible for her Knights, she was going to be responsible for an as yet undetermined number of students, she did not need two more, familiars in truth, to look to her for guidance and orders. But these were Lotte and Aria, her grandfather's proudest creations, and friends in their own right. "I won't abandon you."

"They can help," Signum commented, "unlike us, they have experience in training mages."

The twins turned as one to lock their gaze on Signum, saying in unison, "Training? Who?"

"I'm building a school," Hayate told them, then gave them the details. Explanation finished, she added, "Signum is right, we could use someone with experience in teaching. It would mean moving to Japan, but I think the two of you would do well."

"We've only ever trained Chrono-kun," Lotte whispered, "and he already knew the basics. That's not so much experience."

"It is more than we have," Hayate said. "Signum, Shamal, Vita and Zafira helped train me, but most of what I learned came from Reinforce."

"And Nanoha and Fate," Vita added. "It'll still be good to have you two around. With a couple of cats to chase, the brats'll leave me alone."

"Then we will go with you," Aria said, already looking better. Familiars, especially those who had been in service to one master for so long, needed to have a master, needed that hierarchy. It did not make them slaves, but without it, even the most extroverted and independent familiar would slowly become depressed and lost. "Whenever you are ready."

"I have one more place to visit," Hayate whispered, stepping back finally, "after that, we can go."

"Stonehenge," Vita muttered, "I know why you like the place, but do we have to go there every time we come to England?"

Hayate shook her head, reaching out to ruffle Vita's read hair, drawing a protesting noise. "Yes, Vita, we do have to go there every time. It's tradition."

"Will Takashi be there?"

Something in the tone of Shamal's question was odd, but Hayate couldn't place it, it was so subtle. It took her a moment to initiate a scan of local space, then she shook her head, "no, he is not nearby."

"It still bothers me that he'll let you find him, but no one else can," Signum muttered.

"He does not let me find him, Signum," Hayate corrected, giving Signum a fond smile in response to her protectiveness, "Because I don't find him. I find his power, which he cannot hide from like power. Come, we need to return the car before we can go to Stonehenge, then home."


Lindy Hallaoun strolled along the path, taking her time to enjoy the sights, scents and sounds. It was just a wide path of dirt through the trees, winding down into the valley from where she had left her car, but she could sense the potential in the area. She paused at a curve in the road, where the trees thinned to let her look over the small fold of land alongside a low mountain. She could see below her a few areas cleared out of the woods, but not as many or as large as she would have expected.

The frames of two buildings were visible as well, looking mostly complete and quite substantial. Only one building was complete, a small lodge set halfway up the far side of the valley. It was not very far away, not half a mile in a straight line, but it was also distinctly separate from what was becoming the campus. Considering the lodge, and its placement, Lindy nodded, whispering her thoughts aloud, "Good, she'll have someplace private, away from the students."


Lindy turned her attention from the lodge to smile, "Ah, Fate-chan, I didn't hear you come up behind me."

"Gomen nasai, Mother," Fate said, returning the smile, "I just wondered what you said."

Lindy indicated the valley with a sweeping gesture. "Just thinking about where Hayate had them build her house. It's distant enough from the campus to give her some privacy. I know she loves having people around her, but she will need someplace private, and so will Shamal and the others. There were any number of times I was very glad to have that private suite on the Asura. Admittedly, this will not have the same pressures as commanding a Bureau ship, but still."

"Hayate-chan will be carrying a great weight," Fate finished for her. "But I think she will handle it well. She did well aboard the Asura, but I think she will do better here. There will be more people, and she will no longer have to destroy to make a difference."

Lindy gave Fate a considering look. "Do you really believe that, Fate-chan? She will have to fight all the harder, now, and there will be no support from the Bureau for this."

"Nanoha and I will always help her whenever she needs," Fate protested.

"Yes, and Chrono has already mentioned that he intends to leave the Asura assigned to this patrol sector. But you both have your responsibilities, and the Bureau will not allow you as much leeway as they did when Hayate was in uniform. Then, there is the danger she will be responsible for. One of her arguments to keep the Bureau from interfering was that she would take responsibility for preserving magical order here. She wants to run her school, but she is now responsible for the entire planet. She and her knights can handle it, but it will still be difficult at times for her."

Fate considered what she said for a time, looking over the valley and seeing now what her mother had. The narrow valley, covered in forest, surrounded by mountains, was remote, in feel if not in fact. Fate knew, from the initial aerial reconnaissance that had lead Hayate to pick this valley, that there were two train lines within a mile of the valley, and that one passed through a tunnel actually cut through the mountain which formed the valley. The city of Kyoto was not all that far away either, a thriving metropolis that, while smaller than near-mythic Tokyo, was nonetheless a great Japanese city. Despite this, standing just over the rise from the parking lot, Fate could easily imagine herself to be on a remote and nearly uninhabited world.

"This is her retreat," Fate said, "even the school itself will be."

Lindy nodded, "Yes. She chose well, though I do wish she had chosen someplace more defensible. She could easily have acquired T'ai Shan, or any number of old European or Asian fortresses, and still had the distance and privacy she will need."

Fate smiled, but shook her head. "No, this will be perfect for her. Remember, she has always lived in a city. Out here, she can be truly assured of privacy, as there will be no buildings, no alleys, no place for an intruder to hide. Here she can focus on her school, instead of her worries."

"I guess," Lindy was unsure, in truth. She could, intellectually, see how someplace this remote could be restful, but she herself preferred to have the constant sense of contact and presence of life that cities gave her. "Come, she wanted us to keep an eye on the construction, let's go see how they're coming along."

The walk down was easy enough, a series of gentle switchbacks that descended the sloping wall of the valley to the floor, and from there wound through the woods to the construction site. The remoteness, and Hayate's insistence on minimal impact to the surrounding forest, meant that only the smallest of construction vehicles and equipment could be brought in, so there was very little of the expected noise and smell to warn of their arrival at the campus proper. Only a sudden thinning of the woods, and a three-way split in the road, one continuing straight, one branch leading off in an arc to right and left.

Three buildings were going up, widely separated but still close enough to be visible to each other through the thinned forest. Lindy pulled out a map as she and Fate walked down the central path, past stacked construction materials, comparing the proposed arrangement to what was actually in place. "Main classrooms and labs in that building," she said, pointing to the largest structure. It looked to be the most 'institutional' of the trio, though even that was probably too harsh, given the level of control Hayate was exerting on the project. Several floors tall, and perhaps a hundred meters on the long side, the inner frame, roof and outer walls were up, though still showing the bare construction materials.

"Main dormitory," she pointed to another, more completed structure, that looked more like a house than a dorm. It was the lowest of the three, only two stories, stretching back into the woods further than it was wide. The walls and roof were board and tile, instead of the stone and glass facade of the other buildings, with individual shutters on each window, and a multitude of doors. While it looked to be almost sinfully spacious by Japanese standards, it was also presented the simplest external appearances.

"And finally, the library and offices," Lindy said, stopping in front of the building furthest from completion. This one merely suggested its eventual form, as only the foundation and outer frame were assembled. At present, the site looked almost grotesque, with bare steel beams sitting on a concrete slab, but that was rapidly changing. Even as Lindy and Fate watched, the construction crew was settling one of the first interior frames into place, bolting and welding the steel to the existing framework.

"They'll have the interior frame finished by noon tomorrow." The man who spoke did so in oddly accented but understandable Japanese, and turning Lindy found herself looking at the last thing she ever expected to find in Japan. He was easily over six feet, built like a brick wall, and his extremely short hair was very light blonde. He was walking over from the direction of the dorm-house, and already had one hand extended to shake. "Thomas McClure," he introduced himself, "contractor and foreman."

Fate moved to stand between Lindy and McClure, shaking the man's hand. "Fate Testarossa."

McClure nodded, giving her a friendly smile, then turned to Lindy, "That would make you Lindy Hallaoun then, correct?"

"Yes, I am," Lindy nodded, reaching out to shake his hand as well. "Forgive my surprise, Mister McClure, but..." She trailed off, uncertain of how to mention it without being rude.

"Wondering what a gaijin's doing as foreman at a job this important?" He continued the friendly smile, taking any sting out of the words. "I used to be a US Marine, ma'am. Served a lot of years here, helped straighten out a pretty nasty situation. Liked the country, when my hitch was up, I moved back. Friend of mine hooked me up with a job, which I've kept improving on since." He looked around, taking in the work crews at all three buildings, "Gotta admit, though, this one's right interesting. Lady Yagami's got some crazy ideas, but damn if they don't work."

A US marine? What in the world is that? I'll have to ask Amy when I get back to the Bureau, Lindy filed the information away before replying, "yes, Hayate does have an intriguing way of looking at things, which is why we're here. She wanted us to check up on the place, and give her our opinions. Would it be possible for someone to show us around?"

McClure nodded, "She told me you'd be by, names and all. She did mention a third woman, ah, 'Arf'?"

"Arf is taking care of other business," Fate said, "assisting friends of ours elsewhere." Suzuka and Arisa were moving into an apartment together for their next year of college, and Arf was filling in until Fate could finish here.

"Good enough, where would you ladies like to begin?"

McClure proved to be not only friendly, but knowledgeable and careful. He flatly refused to allow them into either the main building or the library, given that there was still heavy-lift going on in both, but was more than happy to point out details from the edges of the construction areas. He was willing to allow them into the dorm, though he did keep them to sections where no one was working. At first, Lindy had a vague sense that he was trying to hide something from them, but his direct answers and willingness to explain eventually convinced her that he was simply overly-concerned with their safety. She briefly thought of reassuring him as to her ability to protect herself, and Fate's ability to protect everyone at the site, but decided against it. School of magic or not, this was still a restricted world by Bureau regulations, so use of magic, even if she was off-duty, was forbidden outside of life-threatening situations.

All in all, Lindy had to admit she was impressed. While the crews were only ahead of schedule on the dorm, neither of the other two buildings were actually 'behind' yet. For all the limitations imposed by their lack of heavy equipment, the crews were moving at a good pace, and McClure was certain they would finish all three buildings ahead of schedule. The first, Hayate's house, was actually complete and ready for occupancy as soon as she returned from England, with guest rooms aplenty. The structures were all demonstrably solid, and McClure even demonstrated a workable knowledge of the earthquake-proofing Hayate and Yuuno had adapted from Bureau technology.

The big surprise came as, several hours later, they were wrapping up the tour. Standing in front of the dorm, once again considering the entire picture, McClure commented, "I have to admit, I was a little worried about you ladies. The guy Lady Yagami had come out here day before yesterday, he was disturbing."
"Guy? Who was this?"

McClure blinked at them, then narrowed his eyes in sudden suspicion, "Little guy, brown hair, fit but not built like I am. Japanese name, Takashi, but didn't look Japanese."

"Takashi," Fate repeated, voice somewhere between a hiss and a sigh. "Why was he here?"

"I didn't show him much. Lady Yagami didn't mention him, so I told him to take a hike, but... he was real strange. He came out of the back of the valley like it was nothing, went back as well. Reappeared a couple times during the day. Never did anything but stand around and watch, but..."

"He has a rather disturbing presence, at times," Lindy said, trying to be reassuring. "His presence is a surprise, Mister McClure, but not a concern. We knew he would be coming by at some point, but we thought he would wait until Hayate was here."

McClure frowned, "He a friend of hers? 'Cause if not, I know some people who'd be more than happy to have a talk with him about... intruding."

Lindy smiled, amazed at the protectiveness all her girls seemed to inspire in everyone around them. "Yes, he's a friend of hers, though probably not of anyone else's. She saved his life once, achieved justice for him when no one else could. He was probably making sure you were honest, and that her school would be as well protected as possible."

"I don't like him just showing up like that," Fate muttered, "he should know better than to show up without warning."

McClure was obviously confused by the mixed signals, "What should I do if he shows up again? Personally, I don't like having him around. He disturbed the men, disturbed me, and we don't need that, but if he's a friend of Lady Yagami..."

"For now, ask him to leave and come back when Hayate returns," Lindy said, "if he even appears again. Takashi has a habit of disappearing for long stretches of time. If he wants to stay, however, let him. While he's relatively harmless if left alone, he can be quite dangerous if he feels he is being threatened or challenged. Hayate will deal with him when she returns."

McClure did not look pleased at that, but he nodded. "All right, guest of Lady Yagami then. Gotta say, he's a lot creepier than I would've expected from one of her friends."

"She has all sorts," Fate commented, then asked, "Why do you keep calling Hayate 'lady'? She's not of noble descent, no Terran titles."

McClure chuckled, and gestured at the half-finished buildings. "Lady Yagami has had a personal hand in all of this, from design to construction. She helped, in little ways, with as much as we'd let her. Her aunts helped out as well. Made friends out of the lot of us. She's polite, sweet, easy to listen to, easy to talk to. Something of a worrier, but not bossy about it. She doesn't act like the boss or the 'rich girl', despite funding this place out of her own pocket. It just didn't seem right calling her 'miss', and a couple of the men started calling her 'Lady Yagami' behind her back, though we'd all appreciate it if you didn't tell her that. She keeps telling us to call her 'Hayate', but that wouldn't be respectful, now would it?"

Fate smiled in reply, "No, I guess it wouldn't be."

"Thank you for your time, Mister McClure," Lindy said, reaching out to shake his hand, "we'll probably be back before you're finished, after Hayate returns."

"No problem, Ma'am. Feel free to drop by before then, if you've still got questions. I know everything that's going into these buildings, and when, so I should be able to answer any questions. I promise, I'm putting my own best into this. Lady Yagami said she's considering one of my boys for classes here, and I don't want him seeing anything less than my best, you know."

"We'll keep that in mind, Mister McClure. Thank you again."

She and Fate began heading out, back up the main path, content to simply walk for a while. Once they were around a bend, however, Fate called Bardiche, and teleported the two of them to the top of the path. "I don't like Takashi coming here unannounced, Mother," Fate said as they climbed into the car. "He is unpredictable, and still dangerous."

Lindy sighed, nodding agreement. "True, Fate-chan, but... he is Hayate's friend and protector, and he has done nothing wrong since she released him from the Hellblade."

"That we know about," Fate replied. "He keeps disappearing, and no one knows where to."

"Hayate knows. Trust in her, Fate, she knows more about him than even he does, I think."

Fate sighed herself, then nodded. "I'm just worried about her. He's not even close to human anymore, and who knows how much he's been damaged by being trapped in that sword for decades."

"I'm worried as well, for more reasons than just Takashi. But, she is strong, tough, and she has the Wolkenritter, and us, whenever she needs help. And unlike some of us," Lindy poked Fate in the shoulder, "she will actually admit when she needs help."