It probably wasn't the best of times for epiphanies, but at the magical age of fifteen, weird things still tended to happen.
Elio Mondial, naturally, was a little preoccupied with current work to tread upon such issues, what with the whole being in a combat situation and all of his wits being dedicated to dodging the dozens of arrow-like shooting magics that were coming his way.
"Friedrich! Blast Rain!"
The roof of the warehouse blew inward. The dust and debris that was sent flying allowed Elio time to make the extra distance to cover safely.
Caro Ru Lushe, upon her massive silver flight dragon, hovered outside the opening in the ceiling.
Caro's clothing rippled majestically in the wind. The moonlight that poured through the opening in the roof made her practically glow. Her hair gracefully danced about her shoulders...
"Elio! Are you alright?"
At the magical age of fifteen, then and there, the guard wing and probable lone male of the entire Riot Force Six unit realized:
Wow, Caro's REALLY hot.
Person With Many Aliases presents:
A Magical, Lyrical Fan Fiction
"Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha" property of Seven Arcs
Indiscrete references property of likewise trademarks.
Some elements of this story borrows off my other Nanoha Fic "RE-Sounds Fall Into My Head", So take a quick glance through there if you want to get some of the in-jokes.
The Archer had gotten away. Same with the woman with the saber that the Stars team fought in another portion of the warehouses. Their opponents had been skilled of course, but it still wasn't often for Riot Force Six to lose track of their assailants.
In Caro's judgment, this was obviously the cause of Elio's subdued silence during their ride back to headquarters. Being his best friend for the past five years, the summoner decided she had to do something about it.
"Elio, are you alright?"
"You're just kind of quiet. Want to tell me about it?"
Elio realized he was sitting right beside Caro. They were looking each other in the eye. 15-year-old Caro, with her shining moonlit orbs, and her perfectly round face, and her slim neck, gracefully curving figure...
Nyrk! For the love of god Elio, don't look down! Don't even THINK down!
"Elio? Are you sick or something? You're spacing out and you're kind of red in the face-"
The lancer struggled to stammer out something comprehensible, "I'mfinereallyIam...er... yeah!Don't-don'tworryaboutme! All good here!"
Combined with a rather pathetic attempt at a warding laugh, Elio was rewarded with a sort of unconvinced frown.
Wow, Caro looks kinda cute like that- WHERE IS THIS COMING FROM!?
It suddenly occurred to Elio a few days after, that not only were his eyes generally starting to wander to Caro, but his brain was beginning to gravitate in the same direction.
Not that it was unpleasant or anything, not at all. After all, thinking of Caro and looking at Caro was a great way to pass the time.
Just not in the middle of combat practice. Against Nanoha.
Elio proposed this particular objection with a resounding "eep!" as he managed to jump out of the way of a rather hefty pink blast that incinerated most of the simulated concrete where the Lightning member was.
"Elio! Are you alright?" Caro called from behind, while Subaru and Tiana began their turn to help Elio retreat.
"Y-yeah! I'm good!"
To reiterate, Caro was really hot. Ah, my brave and beautiful Caro-hime! Selfless in action! Perfect and flawless in movement!Even the sweat that runs down your brow... I wish to wipe it off and claim it for my own!
A concussive explosion from where Nanoha clashed with her Stars unit.
"Elio! Look out!"
The universe, being sorely tired of the lancer's internal mantras, decided to plant a Subaru into the side of Mondial's face.
"Is there something wrong with Elio? He's been looking preoccupied with something these days..."
"So you noticed?"
"He got distracted during practice today."
"So that's th reason why...?"
"Yeah. If it's going to get in the way like this... though Signum thinks he's just being moody from not being able to catch those guys in the warehouses a couple of days back."
"I don't know... Elio isn't the type to be distracted by something like that. Maybe we should get Caro to ask him. They're always together anyways. Where is she?"
"Like you say. In the infirmary checking up on him. How on earth did you manage to do that to my boy?"
"I'm sorry! I didn't know it was even possible to throw someone like Subaru through the air!"
"Do you even know how much she weighs?"
"It's not like she's that light!"
"Right... on other matters... you know they're in town, right?"
Nanoha's voice dropped an octave out of sheer annoyance and bad memories, "Yes... Subaru and Tiana wanted to go..."
"What did you say?"
"What do you think?"
"-And commander Nanoha said we couldn't go to the Midnight Carnival concert!" Subaru complained to Elio face, which was nicely complimented with a pack of ice. Nakajima was fairly apologetic about the whole 'flying-through-the-air' thing, which was why she and Tiana were also in the infirmary making nice with Elio, which in turn resulted in a griping session.
Since Caro was still with him, he had no choice but manfully stand up to the verbal insanity.
Tiana sighed, "Subaru, I'm sure the commander has her good reasons..."
"But all she said to me was 'You'll Regret It'! What's wrong with going to this one concert! It seems like everyone's against me on this! Commander Testarossa, Commander Yagami, Signum, Vita-"
The resident in-house doctor also raised her vouch against Nakajima's proposed plan.
"See!? Even Shamal's against me! Well I'm still going anyways! As a connoisseur of music... and all that! In fact! That's what I'll do now!"
"Subaru..." Tiana but could sigh again.
As quickly as they came, the Stars team left. Shamal gave a cheery goodbye in the form of "Don't Come Back To Me Crying Tonight".
Elio's attention was promptly recaptured by the none other one and only.
"Elio? How's your head? You think you can stand?"
Cue mental fallout. Damn! Why the hell did he have to decide to lean against Caro for support? It only occurred to him now how close he was to Caro's face. But then again, not too many people are capable of thinking clearly when they take a Subaru to the face.
Caro! You majestic beauty! With your perfectly formed mouth! And pink lips...
"-lio! Are you listening to me!?"
"Jeez! Could you at least have the courtesy to listen to your friend?"
"Sorry, Caro... I just... have a lot on my mind... yeah?"
It was later that night that very unusual things occurred for Elio Mondial.
"MWHAHAHAHA! Princess Caro Lu Rushe! Now that I have you to myself! Your kingdom and everything in it shall fall under my reign of terror! Now... MARRY ME! MWHAHAHA!" The Archer laughed ominously.
"Noooooo! Someone save me!" Princess Caro cried, her "royal dress" conveniently being in tatters.
"Impossible! No one can save you! Your kingdom's soldiers are not match against my servants, and we are in the highest tower in my fortress across the mountains! No one can stand between us, princess Caro!"
There was an explosion that reverberated through the dark stone tower. The nefarious Archer quickly jumped off the bed on which he was harassing Caro to quickly peer out an open window.
In the sky, a knight in shining Barrier Jacket dove down on his mounted steed, which consisted of a giant Silver Flight Dragon, while his great spear swung around triumphantly.
"You! Nefarious Archer! Unhand the princess at once! I, Sir Elio of Mondial shall vanquish you and save the princess!" The knight proclaimed, stabbing his spear in the general direction of the aforementioned.
Archer scoffed, "Do you believe you can defeat me!? My servants shall make short work of you! Saber! Rider! Destroy this pitiful whelp!"
The mandatory scantily-clad and well endowed female minions appeared thus, quickly making poses merely for the sake of fanservice, before lashing forward to attack the flying knight with their swords and... whatever the hell Rider used, Sir Elio didn't bother packing a dictionary for his quest.
Archer's two servants fluttered about the Knight, clashing with his heroic lance repeatedly, before a well place swiped knocked Saber and Rider far enough for Elio's steed to breath a steady stream of flame onto them. The powerful attack was enough to cause both women to degenerate into the demonic vapors they were summoned from.
"Archer! Your servants have been defeated! Come out and fight me like a man!" Elio shouted to the man in the tower.
"You're a lot of talk, challenging me from atop a flying, fire-breathing dragon!"
"Very well! Let us battle one on one!" Elio retorted, before dismounting atop the battlements of the foul, dark castle.
In a move that generally defied the laws of physics and all common sense, the red and black garbed Archer shot out of the tower with his two blades.
The black falchions crashed against the blue spear that was brought up quickly in a guard.
"Young fool! You cannot counter my superior powers!" Archer taunted past his sparking blades.
"I...shall save... the princess from YOU!" Elio returned with vehemence and vigor. Following this, the spear broke through the deadlock, forcing Archer away. Elio came after, swinging.
The battle was monumental, to say the least. Stone shattered, iron melted, wood splintered. Slowly, ever so slowly, Sir Elio began to gain an advantage over the evil Archer, little gashes and cuts that slowly wore the villain down over time.
Eventually the battle was sent flying into the Caro's high up chamber of incarceration, Archer first with a well placed kick that sent the white-haired demon through the door. Princess Caro took this as a good time to give a feminine scream. His options quickly being exhausted against the heroic might of Sir Elio, Archer succumbed to the most typical of villainous actions.
Princess Caro found herself quickly entrapped in Archer's grasp, a falchion against her neck.
"Stay back, Sir Elio, or she DIES!" Archer growled.
"Elio!" Caro yelped.
"Princess!" Elio gasped.
"As you can see! Your valiance does you no advantage here! Evil shall always win, because good... is dumb."
"Let the princess go!"
Princess Caro had issues with that statement. She made it known with a high-heel to Archer's foot. Distracted by the pain, Archer screamed and loosened his grip, allowing Caro to fall to safety, while Elio put an end to Archer tyranny with a thrown lance.
Archer turned out to be a very pretty wall ornament, after all.
"Alas, princess! You are safe now!"
"Oh, this ordeal hath exhausted me! Please help me lie down."
The knight help to lay the princess genteelly on the very large, soft bed.
"Ah, prince, you saved me from this foul villain, please take this token as a symbol of my favor."
"W-what token, princess? I don't really see a handkerchief or anything..."
While gallant Elio did not spy such piece of clothware, he was witness to the very conveniently tattered dress the princess Caro Lu Rushe was in possession of.
With a very large vertical tear, that very flatteringly showed the pristine white high-heels, the long white stockings...
...which terminated at an also very visible mid-thigh... along with the garter belt...
And the torn top, which showed a lot of the shoulders, collar...
"My dear, silly, Sir Elio... this token..."
Princess Caro leaned upward, pink and perfect lips leading...
Elio Mondial snapped awake, and fell out of bed.
Somewhere in the dormitories of the Riot Force Six headquarters, Subaru Nakajima cried bloody murder.
"THE SONG'S STUCK, TIA! THE SONG'S NOT LEAVING MY HEAD! AGGGH!"
I got woken up... for THAT?
Wait a minute, did I just dream... Oh, GEEZ.
It was a beautiful new morning, and a beautiful new day. With a day like, this with a scheduled break from practices the entire time, thing were looking up. That is, if you overlooked the fact that Subaru and Tiana looked absolutely brain-dead from a night of utterly no sleep, as well as Elio was moping on a bench somewhere by himself.
In a word, Elio felt... guilty.
He was now looking, thinking, and dreaming of his best friend in utterly... indecent and inappropriate ways! It made him feel sick. They've been together in the thick and thin of things for over five years since they first met in the train station! They were the Lightning unit! They had each other's back. They trusted each other, and here he was drooling over her... it was just wrong! Elio felt like he betrayed her somehow.
Oh yeah, and Elio? About the meeting in the train station? Remember? Only a few minutes into seeing her, and you already got her on top of you, your hands on her chest! Oh yeah, SCOOOOORE-
Elio Mondial mentally slapped himself.
"Elio! What are you doing!"
"Eh?" was all Elio could reply through his reddening cheek. Apparently, he had forgotten to tell himself it was a mental slap only while he was drowning in his angst.
Lo and behold, his pink-haired sexual fantasy was running up to him in concern. This he didn't need first thing in the morning.
"Elio! What's going on? I saw you slapping yourself and..."
"I'm fine Caro..." Was the mumbled reply.
"No you're not! I've been wondering now, but you've been acting funny these days!"
"I'm fine, Caro!"
"Elio, why won't you talk to me about it? We're friends, right?"
"Just leave me alone!"
Caro jerked back visibly at the frustrated shout.
Caro's best friend sighed, "Look, I just got a lot on my mind... just give me some time by myself..."
The lancer's demand for 'time by myself' wasn't a request. Without another word, the boy stood up and tromped off by himself, leaving Caro alone on the bench.
Despite it's rather suggestive title, Fujiyama Gangster Paradise was in fact, a bar that was sorely lacking in any aspect related to organized crime. As it were, it was a semi-favorite haunt for a Lightning member, but mostly because an under-aged, fifteen-year-old kid illegible to alcohol had no reason to visit establishments that dealt mainly with the former. But at the moment, the angst-fest that was Elio Mondial needed a nice, dark place to cool his head.
He really wished he could just get drunk, but for now he would have to make due with drowning himself with lots and lots of cola.
Nearby was a table full of rowdy individuals. Given the talk Elio could make out, they were apparently those musicians from that Midnight Carnival concert that Subaru defied all to gain access to.
One of them also happened to be the girl that was beside Elio on the bar counter, surrounded by tankards of beer and making all sorts of weird, incomprehensible noises. She seemed a few years older than Elio himself, and rightly so, if she had access to alcohol. Short brown hair was splayed everywhere, only stopped by a short yellow ribbon that was strung across the top of her head.
"Oi-nnnggghh.. whadddyer lukin' at?" The girl garbled darkly at Elio.
"N-nothing!" Elio managed to shoot back, embarrassed and going back to his bottle of dark sugary, syrupy goodness.
"Hmmmmrrrggh... you an alien...?" The girl blurted out at Elio.
"Notta whut... you an alien?"
Elio was failing to see what any of this had to do with anything. But then again, the girl was very red in the face, one eye threatening to close completely, while a hand swished a thick glass of foaming beer.
She happened to be also wearing a sleeveless black turtleneck that was quite tight around the chest area... with rather stunning results.
Okay, so she was hawt, but that was all. And as great as this musician girl looked, Elio found her generally pitiful competition with Really Hot Caro.
"-EY! I asssgked you a qesdion! Yoouu a timmetrawvelr?"
"Yer makin' fun uf me?" The inebriated girl gave a dangerous look, "Yeh knewr who'em I?"
Elio was slightly sweating at this point, "Uh... look, lady-"
The lancer, for all his military training, found himself in a rather tight headlock, beer being poured atop his head.
"IMMMA SUZUMEYEH HERHREI! IMMA FRIGGIN GUD! IMMA GUNNA GET MEH BRIGADE TO FRIGGIN TAKEUVER THIS FRIGGIN UNIVERSE...nnnn..."
The girl, who did an immaculate job of introducing herself, thus slammed face down onto the bar counter. As Elio pulled his beer-soaked head out from under her arm, two of the girl's pals from the bar table neared the pair at the counter.
"Damn, I-no. What did you feed Haruhi?"
"Shut up, Colt. She's just reached womanhood. Let her celebrate."
"Well, yeah, but the hell did you let her celebrate with?"
A shrug. "I thought it was a weak enough brand."
"I know! How did she end up like that with just Heineken? I mean, if she were just sloshed, I'd understand, but look! She's completely smashed! To pieces!"
"Should I wake her up?"
"...Nah, let her sleep. Let the rest of the drinks go to the grown-"
Colt and I-no, whom Elio was too busy trying to ignore to look at properly, heard the doors to Fujiyama Gangster Paradise slam open.
Subaru's voice thundered.
"MIDNIGHT CARNIVAL! GET THIS STUPID SONG OUT OF MY HEAD!"
"Ah crap! Again!"
"I'm not dealing with that!"
A vicious stampede.
Thus, Elio Mondial found himself in a significantly emptier Gangster Paradise.
A few hours later, and with a fast approaching night, it appeared that Midnight Carnival was not coming back on a rescue mission for their youngest member.
Elio, being the gentleman he was, took it upon himself to try and rouse the girl to some semblance of consciousness and get her to some hotel, at the very least.
The first part was easily accomplished.
"Nyahaha... I dun remember yeh bein' dis shurt... Kyoon..." Haruhi crooned
Elio's only issue was whether it was the correct course of action for him to have taken. At any rate, Elio had to deal with a drunken, taller girl that was swamping the poor boy while he had her arm around his neck, the other arm lopped past Haruhi's back to hook under her armpit.
And thus Elio half carried, half dragged the girl across the Midchilda city in search of her hotel... any hotel to dump her off at.
This plan was quickly derailed by Haruhi, who found Elio's earlobe beside her face suddenly very interesting, and decided to see what it tasted like.
Elio slammed the both of them onto a conveniently appropriated bench, unable to take to sudden new strain of carrying a drunken girl who was also prone to ear tasting.
Haruhi just broke down into drunken laughter. She apparently found something funny.
"Geez... why did I have to offer carry you...?" Elio sighed, before his tone unintentionally became more wistful, "If it were Caro, then yeah..."
"Who'er Caro...? Yer Kyon?" Haruhi mumbled, eyeing her transporter out of the corner of her glazed vision.
Elio turned to give a confused look at the girl, "Huh?"
"Gurlfrend, idiot... gurlfrend..." Haruhi gargled as she leaned her head back to see the dusky sky.
"Well- no! She's just my best friend!"
"Gurl best frend ready to be gurlfrend aneeetymme..." Haruhi sagely offered, jerking a finger into the sky.
"It's not like that! She's just a friend! Why am I even talking to you?"
"Yeh tell me, Kyooon..."
They sat like that for a while.
Then suddenly, "... Well, I've been thinking of Caro a lot these days..."
"But she's my friend!"
Elio grasped for words, "She... I... does she even like me?"
"Go'n kiss'er face... werked for Ky'n'n'me..."
Elio choked, "I can't just do that!"
"Shudup... Imma one with deh Kyon... listen teh me..."
Elio at this point was really past caring who he was talking to, and was in heated debate with an inebriated girl, "But what if she doesn't like me like that and she finds out? Then everything will get messed up-"
Haruhi found a good fistful of Elio's shirt to drag the boy face to face.
"'ey, you really like 'er?"
"She yer bestest friend?"
"Then why yer whining 'bout what yeh gotta lose? Selrfish punk... she really yer bestest buddy, give 'er the right to pick wedder she like yeh 'er not... nut yeh complain wut yeh gotta lose... Dis why Kyon's gunna be mer' a men then yeh gunna ever be... even dat jerk colt..."
Haruhi's grip slipped off Elio's shirt just then, her leaning posture, having no place of support, allowed the drunken girl to land face first into the lancer's lap.
"Hey! What are you doing!?" Elio complained.
Elio Mondial's day was completed when the Silver Flight Dragon, Fried, landed in front of the struggling pair inquisitively, and then gave a loud yowl.
"Fried, can you see Elio up there?"
No such luck at the moment. Even with her smallish dragon fluttering up in the air as lookout, Caro had seen neither hide or hair of her precious friend. Elio hadn't been seen for near the entire day, and it was starting to worry Caro.
Actually, Caro noticed she'd be paying an awful lot of attention to her friend these past few days, ever since the "Incident At The Warehouses". Of course, for her, she just thought it was just being a good friend that was making her rather obsessive about Elio's welfare.
Which was why it hurt when Elio shouted at her to leave him alone.
But they were friends, right? Buddies for and since five years. That's why, despite words that was making mince meat of her heart, Caro still kept looking.
Fried saw something while in the sky and went barreling ahead.
It took much of Caro's effort to run in the streets with her head up in the clouds looking for her dragon, but she managed some how to keep a fairly even pace, until Fried dropped from the air around the corner.
A yowl confirmed the location of her missing friend.
Caro dashed into sight, "Elio! I've been looking for you, where have you been-"
Where ever Elio had been, it somehow got him the company of an older, bustier, sexier girl that was doing a face-plant into the boy's lap.
The summoner could almost hear her heart crack.
Elio snarked, and struggled to get the senseless mass of his legs.
With enough effort, Haruhi was pried off his thighs before she fell backwards onto the rest of the bench, dozing obliviously. Elio ran up to Caro, stammering.
"C-Caro! It-it isn't what you think!"
Of course it wasn't. Elio's head just happened to be burning red from embarrassment and reeking of alcohol.
"Elio! YOU BASTARD!"
The fact that Caro even swore at all was more shocking than the smack to face Elio took right after.
The lancer stood there dumbly for a good five seconds, rubbing his cheek before realizing that maybe going after his dear princess would be a good idea.
"I thunk I gunna beh sick, Ky'n..." Haruhi gurgled from behind. Elio wanted to smack himself in the face. He couldn't just leave the other girl behind, either.
No choice. Drop Haruhi off as fast as possible, then try and find Caro.
Caro Lu Rushe ran until she felt like her lungs were about to fall out of her chest and her legs were about to melt away. When that happened, she merely slammed against the first wall she saw and slid down, sobbing. She didn't even know where she was. Granted, it was generally nigh impossible for anyone in Riot Force Six to be lost in their own city, but she sure wasn't in any place she frequented, much less so at this time of the night.
Fried, who loyally remained soaring after his master, noticed the broken tears and did his best to nuzzle into her for comfort.
The weirdest thing was that Caro wasn't even sure why any of this happened. Why did she act up like that? She completely ruined any chance of fixing whatever was wrong between them. She had no right to hit him. It was true, just because she was Elio's friend didn't mean she could just act like she owned him or something.
But no matter how she tried to rationalize it, she never felt so angry, sad, upset than at the thought that Elio just disappeared for a whole day just to be found smelling of alcohol and swamped by a woman.
Now all she was was confused and guilty and with a heart was still miraculously working even though Caro was sure it was in a hundred glass pieces.
"Elio... I'm so sorry..." Was all Caro could choke out through the hands that covered her tear-stained face.
Fried perked up, growling. Something unwelcome was in the immediate vicinity of his master.
"How unfortunate. You're rather far away from your home, dragon summoner."
Caro's head jerked up in shock.
Across from her, obscured as he was by the night, was the red and black form of the Archer from the case several days back. He didn't look to friendly either.
The summoner quickly jumped to her feet and backed away from the man, "You! What do you want?"
"Back in the warehouse... it would have been a simple in and out job, until you guys came and complicated everything. So now that you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time... I suppose you can figure it out from there, mage."
Caro jumped back, her dragon protectively hanging in front of her. There was no room or time to set up a Barrier Jacket. Caro just did what she could.
"Fried! Blast Flare!"
The Midchilda sigil spun under the summoner's feet, lending enough magic to Fried for the dragon to fire a burst of flame the size of a basketball.
Something blue appeared in front of Archer, taking the miniature explosion meant for the man instead. As the smoke cleared, a woman in a blue armored dress remained resolute and completely unharmed or even marked by the Blast Flare.
Archer sighed off-handedly, "You didn't have to show off like that, Saber..."
"I was not showing off. I am simply using my skills as they were meant to be used." The blond woman sternly replied, her eyes firmly planted on Caro in caution.
Caro backed away at the sudden new element in the fight. At the very least, Caro wasn't stupid. Her job wasn't to fight, and in the case that she had too, it was more about tactical retreats. Now it became a whole lot more complicated with two pursuers.
She had to get out. Now.
Unfortunately, the proposed plan was cut short when a length of chain suddenly wound itself around the girl's neck, and pulled uncompromisingly taut. Caro managed to choke out her surprise before she found herself gasping and kicking while suspended in mid-air by her neck.
Fried spun about, distracted by his master's capture. The dragon had no chance to respond to Saber, who rocketed out with her heavy metal fist. One well placed hit, and Fried went bouncing across the street.
Caro could only gasp out her dragon's name. Archer seemed interested in something else.
"Don't kill her yet, Rider. Just knock her out."
Unable to talk, the summoner just lashed her mind out in cries of help.With her mind about to give out, she screamed out the first name that came to mind.
That was enough to get the boy charging headlong towards fading echo of the mental cry. He only stopped for a second to inform Headquarters of what was going on, but apart from that...
"Strada! Set up!"
White coat fluttering behind him, the Lightning member took of leaping in inordinate bounds. Caro's last desperate cry for help only left Elio in an empty street.
A pitiful yelp from out the way had Elio turning to see Caro's dragon stumble into sight, looking worse for wear.
Elio knelt by the fallen beast, "Fried! Who could have done this... Fried, do you think you can find Caro?"
A yowl. Even if he couldn't, Fried would be damned if he didn't try first.
"...don't see why we need her. You're complicating things, Archer."
Eyes wearily fluttered open.
"From what I gathered, her unit works with Lost Logia. They might have something Master needs to finish his research. Then we can use her as leverage."
That caught Caro's attention straight away, forcing her awake. Next thing she realized was that any struggling was cut short as her entire body was plastered vertically spread-eagled against some metal framework she couldn't see, ropes and cables and binds tying her flush against the gantries.
In front of her was the turned back of Archer, who had been conversing with Saber. The woman noticed Caro's awakening and motioned to her comrade about such. Archer turned about.
"She's awake? Maybe I should just knock her out again..."
"Where am I?"
The white haired man just moved aside to see the familiar landscape of the recently burned out warehouses.
"I've also taken the liberty to take your device as well. You're helpless at this point." Archer also noted, spinning a bracelet idly around one finger.
"Why are you doing this! What are you after?" Caro hoarsely demanded.
"Just the Holy Grail our Master has been seeking."
Archer just turned about again, "It's not like you'd understand anyways..."
Just then another woman dropped into view, decorated by her immensely long lank hair and a blindfold that bound her eyes.
"Archer, I just managed to contact Caster. She'll have the transport spell ready in a few minutes."
Steel boots crushed corrugated iron underneath. The three kidnappers looked up to see a lancer standing on the roof of one of the surviving buildings.
Strada rose up before being pointed down at them, "You! Let Caro GO!" From Elio's vantage point, he could clearly see the three kidnappers along with the girl, who was tied against the framework of one of the large cargo cranes.
Rider snorted, "Tch. Looks like we got too complacent."
"It doesn't matter, Rider." Archer calmly returned, "We only need to keep him occupied for a little while. Saber, Rider, can you handle this? I'll keep an eye on the summoner in the meantime."
The two women wordlessly responded by just rushing forward toward the white clad form up on the roof. At the same time, their back stretched hands clawed at weapons that suddenly materialized into their grip.
Elio tensed in preparation. "Strada! Load Cartridge!"
The cylindrical slide under the spearhead coughed out two empty shells, "EXPLOSION."
Rider slid to a premature halt, before she lashed out her arms. In response, a mass of chains flew out in a hectic disarray, led by an steel nail on one end.
Elio disappeared as the roof burst to pieces from the force of the chains smashing into it. The boy reappeared high in the air. He may have not mastered flight magic, but the sheer speed of his magics was enough to rocketing up even into meters high empty air.
Saber was already there though, her longsword flashing.
"Cut him, Excalibur!"
The electric edge of the spear swung upward unmolested straight into Saber's chest. It didn't even scratch the steel body armor.
"An attack of that level won't penetrate Avalon."
With that, Elio only barely managed to bring his weapon up to clash against the falling blade. It still sent him rocketing into the ground below, sending fragments of concrete and dust everywhere. The moment the lancer got up, hacking and coughing, he found a length of chain twisting tight around his torso, trapping his arms to his body.
Rider couldn't help by lick her lips as she crouched low along the ground, the nail-studded ends of her weapon driven deep into the ground by her hands, "And you're too obvious in my vision, even in this cover. Saber! Finish him!"
Saber needed no more prodding as she swung her sword in a flourish before diving downwards, preparing to cleave Elio to pieces.
The boy hissed but saw no other option. Desperate times called for desperate actions, "Strada!"
The lance began chugging out several shells at a frightening rate, while the double edge of the spear began to blaze even brighter than before.
"Is he insane? Charging this much magic at once..." Saber muttered to herself in shock, before plunging downward even faster.
Too late. Elio flipped head over heels, using the momentum to power his attack.
The area around the lancer exploded in a lightning blaze of glory, thunderbolts and blasts of wind expanding from the epicenter to destructive levels.
Archer only managed to keep his footing while he covered his face with his arms. Rider and Saber, being even closer, were not so lucky.
Rider went tumbling into a box of crates at several miles per hour. Saber found herself flying headfirst and right through a wall of a warehouse. Neither gave any sign of getting back up.
Elio panted and glared at the final kidnapper. "It's just you, now."
This guy... he isn't anything to laugh at. For him to take out Rider and Saber, more importantly, in one blow. Even if Saber's Avalon probably defended against that, for her to even be taken out of a fight... still...
"Don't get too confident, boy. You did a pretty stupid move, there, forcing your body to take that much magic at once. Also, how many cartridges did you waste like that?"
"I don't care! I'm saving Caro!" Elio angrily shot back. The girl in question was speechless at the vehemence of those words.
Archer sighed, "The drive to protect what's important to you, huh? If things were different, I'm sure the GRAIL unit would have been happy to meet you. But at any rate..."
A black bow appeared in Archer's hand, while the other held out awaiting fingers.
"Come, Hrunting, Hound of the Red Plains. Fly true and pierce mine enemies a thousand times, and a thousand more."
With those words, a jagged, pitch black shaft came into existence, and was drawn quickly back along Archer's bow. Elio gasped and tried to leap away as the dark arrow ripped through the air. Even as the boy began to dodge, Hrunting merely oriented its path in mid flight, and dug itself deeply into the boy's side, which was rewarded by a momentary scream of pain from the lancer.
"ELIO!" Caro screamed in horror, tears threatening to show.
As I thought. His body's exhausted.
Archer took a few steps forward, mockingly, "You can't win, boy. A close-range mage like yourself can't close the distance against a shooter like me, especially since I have Hrunting, which never misses its target. Even if you do keep fighting, the transfer spell's going to be finished at any moment."
Elio just spat out blood and tore the arrow free from its home in his body.
I just need him to get away from Caro...
"I may be good a close range... but I'm guard wing of Riot Force Six for a reason..." Elio muttered, unsteadily rising.
"I'll make it in time to save anyone who's in danger, because I have SPEED! STRADA!"
The two ports on either side of Strada's blade erupted into a giant flare of a booster, sending the boy flying toward Archer with incomprehensible speed. The man himself only managed to grunt in suprise before leaping away as Elio slid to a halt next to Caro.
"Caro! I need you to support me later! Until then-"
Another black arrow fell alongside Archer's bow, before it sent itself spiraling down at Elio.
Elio blurred away, while Hrunting zipped about and continued to chase the Lightning member away. The two blurs continued to race about until Elio found himself rushing toward the levitating Archer.
Seeing the screaming boy oncoming, Archer dropped his bow before holding out his hands.
The blue spear crashed against two black and white falchions that were brought up in guard. As they were, Elio only managed to shift his position somewhat as to let Hrunting, which attacked from behind, peirce into his shoulder, rather than his back. Red seeped into the white Barrier Jacket.
"Fool! You're no match against my abilities!" Archer taunted past his sparking blades.
"I'll save... Caro from YOU!" Elio retorted, as the two of them rode through the air and disappeared behind the warehouses on the far side.
Caro was wide-eyed.
Jerking her head towards the sound, the summoner found her loyal beast at her feet, along with a familiar bracelet that was dropped by Elio and forgotten in the heat of battle.
The dragon seemed to have a glint in his eye, before he opened his mouth to reveal a ball of flame, hot enough to melt through steel.
Archer was darkly amused.
He IS fast...
Of course, Archer's own blades were doing admirably, but it was a slow, steady, losing battle against the raging lightning lance.
Archer leapt upward to dodge the series of narrow slices, like those of a animal's claw, and stayed in the air.
But he still can't fly.
Elio cursed at his helplessness as Archer resumed his old gameplay plan, as the swords were dropped for the bow again.
"Come, Caladbolg Two, Sword of Spirals. Be relentless in punishment like the rain falls from the sky."
A drill-shaped edge appeared in Archer's hand, before it quickly morphed into a slimmer arrow. The arrow flew.
And another. And another.
And rain fell from the sky, steel and relentless. Elio spun Strada about as best as he could in defense, but the lancer found himself quickly falling under the hail that bit deep into his body.
As the maelstrom faded, Elio sunk to one knee, panting, arrows dissipating from their bloody burrows all over his arms and legs and shoulders.
Archer smirked as he drew back one more time, while the boy down below could only glare.
Caladbolg flew through the air toward Elio's head.
"Friedrich! Blast Rain!"
A stream of high-temperature flame intersected the space between Elio and Archer, melting the arrow in mid flight before it could get any further. Elio Mondial twisted his head to see where that blast came from.
There, up in the sky, highlighted by the moonlight was majestic Caro, his princess, her Barrier Jacket fluttering gloriously in the wind while she rode atop her massive Silver Flight Dragon.
Archer backed away, shocked, "How did she-?"
"Elio! I'm here!"
Those three words filled Elio with strength he didn't realize he even had as he stood up one more time, Strada dangling by his side, "Let's do this, Caro! One Hit, One Kill!"
Caro's gemmed gloves glowed as she chanted, "What I ask for is a sword of Holy Silver! Give upon this blade of my lance-wielding knight the Light of Blessing!"
One glove shone with new power, "ENCHANTER FIELD VALID."
"A light of prayer that give power to its noble self!"
"BOOST UP: STRIKE POWER."
Down below, Elio's spear thundered as its last two cartridges were spent, giving Strada another burst of rocket thrust.
Caro threw out her palms, magic trapped inside flying to Elio's Device, "Twin Boost! Slash and Strike!"
Strada's blade grew several more feet as its lightning power blade was washed over with pink support magic, "EMPFANGEN."
Elio pointed his spear toward Archer, "Here we GO!"
The knight disappeared and became a rushing comet. Archer spat, and held out his bow.
The serrated arrow was drawn back in front of the onrushing power. Archer remained calm and fired.
It has yet to fail. It can't fail because of some brat.
It did. Hrunting dissolved under the duress and strength of Elio and Caro's might. Archer grunted before he saw white.
The blazing comet tore through the ground for a good mile before it stopped.
At the end, Elio tried sliding to halt, but only ended up tripping and bouncing across the ground before he rolled to a halt.
In the deep trench behind Elio, down several meters, a charred mess shakily rose. What was presumably Archer turned around with a gaze that wanted to tear Elio to pieces. The boy helplessly sighed, his spirits dropping.
Is this the end?
Archer took one step, before falling onto his knees. The man cursed, but saw no option left.
"...Caster... emergency evacuate... no time for the passenger... get us out NOW."
With that, Archer disappeared into the sky as a red stream of magic, transported to wherever hence he came from, along with Saber and Rider, who followed along in blue and purple torrents.
"Elio! Elio!" A panicked voice fell from the sky. The lancer looked up and wearily stood.
The girl only barely managed to fall off her ride on Friedrich before she tumbled into Elio's arms, sobbing.
"Elio! I was so scared... you looked like you were going to die! It's all my fault... I ran off and then you had to save me..."
"No... it's my fault... I got you worried in the first place..." Elio mumbled, tired, and hugging his Caro Lu Rushe.
Go'n kiss'er face.
Elio gently pushed Caro back so he could look at her, as crummy as the two of them looked.
"Caro... today's made me think about a lot of things, and there's something I need to tell you..."
Elio looked at Caro's abominably cute, tear-stained, flushed face.
"Caro... you're really, really hot."
The summoner's face started to catch on fire, "EH!?"
Elio decided to reinforce this with action, and he leaned down, lips leading-
Everything went black.
Elio woke up to the heavenly sight of Caro's face.
"I feel like crap." was all the lancer could get himself to say. It didn't stop Caro's eyes from watering over and grabbing the lancer's bandaged form for all she could.
The Hrunting-inflicted wound in Elio's side had some objections to the display.
"Ack! ACK! SIDE!"
Elio quickly discovered he had recovered in Riot Force Six's infirmary, with much help from Shamal. The rest of Riot Force Six came not long after.
Vita and Signum's mouths berated the boy for doing something generally considered stupid, though their eyes showed their approval for his actions. Fate did the whole mothering "I was SO WORRIED for you!". Nanoha complimented him on his bravery. Subaru (who seemed to have been cured of her musical woes in the mean time) gushed at how he "took those jerks down a couple hundred pegs", while Tia more sensibly told him good job, but try not to do this too often.
Even Commander Hayate and Reinforce popped by for a few words for the local hero.
Caro seemed at a loss for words in the meantime this all happened, until they one by one, left.
"Not leaving yet Caro?" Fate asked.
"...Not really. I want to stay for a little longer."
Caro swore that Fate just gave her one of those "Oh so it's like that, huh?" looks. Elio's voice brought her out of her ruminations.
"Caro, you alright?"
"Just a bit of a sore throat..."
"E-Elio... about what you told me... before you lost consciousness..."
"Do you really mean it?"
GULP. Red face.
Caro made a face of a color to match Elio's, "Well, because I thought about it... and... and..."
Next thing the knight knew, his princess was mashing her lips against his.
Elio thought his brain was going to boil.
Lips quickly parted, Caro's face probably hotter than the sun, "And-andIthinkyou'rereallyhottoo! Sopleasegetbettersoonsowecangoouttogether!"
Caro suddenly disappeared at about the same time the door to the infirmary shut.
He just got kissed by a girl. Who said she also liked him.
No. No bells or whistles. Eliol didn't gain a sudden compulsion to jump for joy either.
But DAMN! SCOOOOOORRREE-
Okay. Shutting up now.
Elio Mondial lied back in his bed, smiling.
Fifteen was a good age to be.
Indulgence Encore Epilogue:
In a hotel room, there was a pile blankets. Suzumiya Haruhi's voice groaned out from underneath.
"I just wanna diiiieeee..."
Colt sat on the sheet-less bed next to the decaying cocoon, pressing an ice-pack against his bruised face, "Grow up, lightweight. Hangovers are part of being an adult."
A shrug, "Suit yourself."
"'Allo? What's this?" Another man blurted in surprise.
"Whoever said that... diiiiee..." A baleful groan came out.
He turned to Colt, "What happened?"
"She celebrated her womanhood with alcohol, Person."
"Ohhhhh... what about you?"
"I got punched by a girl. Kickstart My Heart was stuck in her head."
"Was it embarrassing?"
Colt tried to spear Person With Many Aliases to the wall by sheer force of will. "You think?"
"...Could you two... shut up! Let me die in peace...
Colt snorted before returning back to the conversation, "And where've you been? You weren't at Fujiyama for the party."
"I was writing."
"The hell were you writing?"
"...When did you start writing romance?"
"H-hey! I can write good romance... it's just my first..."
"It's probably going to be fruity as hell."
"Hey! It has dragons and princesses and knights and fights! What could go wrong?"
"...You're really mean, Colt."
"I TOLD YOU TWO TO SHUT UP!"