1. Our characters in this fic are sixteen-ish. If you squint hard enough, you may notice a reference to the other fic, Feathers. Possibly a prequel to MGLN StrikerS.
2. As much as I would have liked to see something like this happening in canon, I doubt it. MGLN series were never this dark; except for recent episodes of StrikerS. It's comparable, but not that comparable. So this is an AU. Sort of. It could happen in canon, and it's an entirely reasonable scenario should some things take place. But then again, it's only a "what if" situation.
3. Not much spoilers, but there still are some. I stole the infamous fanon nickname of White Devil for several obvious reasons. I'm almost sure it's not something canon - and while Vita was the one who started all of these, I could not find any evidence that the name was made a running joke in the continuation of the anime; instead made popular by the fans. So, here, I give my kudos to the one who made the name 'White Devil' famous in this fandom, whoever it may be. And to Vita too, of course.
4. I was going to post this a few hours ago, but the summary halted me. Since I didn't know what to put in summary. Meh.
There were very, very few things that could make Takamachi Nanoha angry.
Of course, there had been plenty of times when she would get annoyed or irritated; and she wasn't at all immune to arguments.
She was only human, after all.
But...none of those times, none of them, could ever make Nanoha seethe with rage.
Pure, animalistic rage.
That day was the first time her wrath had been truly unleashed. Never mind the times she attacked Fate, Vita or the Book of Darkness with all her might, this was different.
She did not unleash her power out of concern.
She unleashed it out of vicious rage.
It was also the first time her hands had almost been stained with blood.
"Medical team, move!" Amy nearly shouted, hands flying across the flat, glowing keyboard deftly. Her eyes darted across the screen. "The Takamachi siblings are at coordinates X: 43.27, Y:23.55! Permission for transfer granted! Go. Go!"
"Team C, reporting. Takamachi Momoko and Takamachi Shiro have been found." A pause, and the voice faltered a little. "Critical condition. He's losing a lot of blood. We need the medical team ASAP. Current location, section five; X: 32, Y: 58.53."
"I'm going," came the quick reply.
Chrono's fist tightened.
"All four of the Takamachi family have been located," Amy reported. Her voice was strangely hard, yet still impressively professional.
"Find him," Admiral Chrono Harlaown said, voice tight and cold. "Find him."
"On it," she replied, hands working frantically across the keyboard.
"God," muttered the girl. There was a hint of desperation in her tone, even as her gaze darted across screens. "Don't let Nanoha-chan find him first."
Fate Testarossa-Harlaown took in a deep breath, trying - with all her might - to clear her head.
The pain was intense, too intense.
She could barely think, let alone move.
The blonde stiffened, and the metal chain that tied her left hand to the wall rattled.
She hissed, "Bastard."
"Such a word is unbecoming for a lady, Testarossa-san," murmured the chuckling man.
Fate didn't curse very often, but she had no kind words for this one man. "It suits you," she said, voice dripping with venom.
At that, he smiled. "Yes. I guess it does, doesn't it?" His voice turned thoughtful. "I suppose it is true as well. I am a bastard child, after all."
The blonde's trained ears heard the faint sound of an explosion.
Burgundy eyes narrowed at him coldly. "And your point?"
"Hm?" He blinked. "Oh, nothing, really." He glanced behind him. "You must have heard the explosion as well, I'm sure."
She did not reply, and only glared.
He sighed. "Not feeling talkative, hm?" The floor shook, and the chain rattled again. "But that's all right," he stepped closer. "I suppose there's no longer any time to talk."
Fate leaned back, wary.
He tsked. "Don't be shy now." He gestured with his hand, and a dark grey magic circle glowed under Fate.
She tried to prepare herself; honestly she did.
"Let's make you a little more presentable, shall we?" he said pleasantly, and waved his hand once.
The circle brightened, and her skin tingled. It itched at first, as if ants were crawling all over her, but then it grew more intense, more pressuring, and it was suffocating. She gritted her teeth. He was wreaking havoc with her system, and she felt bile rise up her throat, pain - as if needles were stabbing into every part of her body repeatedly - flooding her nerves and brain.
She tried to hold it in, unwilling to succumb.
Blood dripped from the side of her lips, and she choked out dark liquid.
"Stubborn, aren't we?" he murmured. He gestured again.
The pain came back tenfold, as if electricity flowed through her every vein; crackling, sharp, and burning.
She could not hold it in this time.
Blood splattered to the floor; overlapping dried, dark patches of black liquid.
It was a piercing scream.
Then an explosion - so very close - shook the room, and the wall at the far end of the chamber collapsed.
Through the smoke and dust flying in the air, a shadow stepped into the light of the room.
The shadow took two steps forward, and stopped.
He smiled, and the circle dimmed; just slightly.
"The perfect timing to accompany that lovely scream, no, Testarossa-san?"
The blonde heaved for breath, even as relief flooded into her veins. "You..." she managed to rasp out, despite the pain clouding her mind, "sick bastard."
He chuckled, and addressed the newcomer.
"...Welcome to my humble abode, Takamachi Nanoha."
The white mage's gaze was as cold as a glacier, and her face was emotionless.
She did not say anything, staff gripped loosely.
A few moments passed, before he sighed again.
"She's as bad as you, Testarossa-san." A pause, before he shook his head. "I'm sorry. I mean worse. She's not even talking."
The blonde's only reply was the gritting of her teeth, before burgundy eyes darted to Nanoha.
The other hadn't reacted. She didn't even so much as move.
Fate could not recognize her, save for the face.
She looked...different. Too different.
Too cold and too hard.
Slate blue eyes dark and emotionless.
Nanoha hadn't spared the blonde a glance.
Unease rose in Fate's chest.
"You," Nanoha begin softly, "kidnapped my family." Her voice was strangely gentle, and yet somehow apathetic. "You tortured them. You scarred them."
"You hurt them."
Her staff was raised, slowly.
"So I did," he acknowledged. The grey circle under Fate brightened just a little, and the blonde flinched involuntarily from the sudden spark that tingled through her nerves.
Nanoha's gaze narrowed just a fraction.
Just a fraction.
Her staff lowered.
"You would do that to someone who saved your life?" she asked quietly, almost curiously.
He raised an eyebrow. "Who?" A pause, before he remembered. "Oh. You mean," he glanced at the blonde girl behind him, "her?"
"I was so close to killing you," murmured Nanoha, "but Fate stopped me."
It was said with such ease, as if it was just some idle chatter. It was, in retrospect, also the first time Nanoha dropped the suffix she always added to her friend's name.
The unease Fate felt grew. This wasn't Nanoha. This wasn't the kind girl she knew anymore. Nanoha would never speak of killing as if it was something normal. The blonde tried to focus, despite the pain. She tried to contact Asura. She tried to contact her brother. With the destruction done by the white mage, the wards that blocked her magic no longer worked.
The conversation between him and Nanoha, in the meanwhile, continued.
"Ah," he smiled. "I'm thankful, really." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "It really was a close call."
"Yes," the brown-haired mage nodded, "A fairly close call. She stepped right in front of you, and blocked my attack."
A minute of silence.
"And because she withstood the blast of my attack, she was left defenseless for a moment," Nanoha's gaze flickered briefly to Fate before returning, "and you used it to take her."
"You took my family. You took my friend." She said it as if she was reciting from a book.
"So I did," he replied, nodding. "And?"
"You targeted my family...then you went for Arisa and Suzuka. And despite the fact you failed..."
"Admiral Harlaown is a clever man," he admitted. "He saw through me."
"He is," replied Nanoha. Her voice was still flat. "But you took Fate after that."
"A gold mine," he said truthfully. "Who would have thought I would be able to get my hands on one of the bureau's Aces? Testarossa-san was a better catch than those two girls combined, especially considering the rumors that floated around the two of you."
"You proceeded to torture her, day and night," continued the brown-haired mage. "...And you sent the videos to me, specifically."
There was a long moment of silence before Nanoha spoke again.
"Your target is me, isn't it?"
He bowed. "I applaud your intelligence, Takamachi-san."
"Why?" He repeated, amused. "There's no 'why', really. Or maybe there is. You wreaked havoc on my organization, destroyed everything that was mine, and..." He smiled. "Well, that's really it," he said mockingly.
"Revenge?" murmured the brunette.
"Aa," he nodded, crossing his hands. "I suppose you can say that."
"Fate? Is that you?" The admiral gestured at Amy, who worked quickly to track the communication signal.
"What...what happened to her?"
"...Nanoha's there, isn't she?"
"Yes. Chrono - "
"I'm coming over." He glanced at his fiancée. "I'm going there. The situation doesn't look good. You are in command, Amy."
Chrono retrieved a card from his pocket, sliding it between two fingers.
Fate tuned back to the conversation in front of her, even as she chanted a spell at the back of her mind - even as the fatigue and pain she felt made it all the harder to focus her strength and magic to the appropriate level for the spell.
"And now that I am here," Nanoha was saying, "What will you do to me...Takeru-san?"
"Honest truth? I don't know," he admitted. "I did not foresee you storming in here. You had not given me that kind of impression."
She was silent.
"But, I suppose, having your precious family and friend caught is bound to do something," he acknowledged. "And I will be caught shortly, I'm sure. The whole building is full of the bureau dogs, and my people could barely hold a finger to them."
They grey circle underneath Fate brightened again.
"...But that doesn't mean," he said pleasantly, "That I cannot see you suffer, Takamachi-san. It will be my greatest pleasure yet."
The blonde braced herself, even as she tried to collect the amount of magic she needed.
For the first time that day, Nanoha smiled.
The smile was unnerving, to say the least, when her eyes did not show any emotion.
Pink balls of light formed around the room.
He glanced around.
His smile had faltered slightly.
"The moment she cries out in pain," Nanoha murmured softly, "I will assure you that my face will be the last thing you see, Takeru-san."
He turned his gaze back to her.
"Oh?" He raised an eyebrow, already gaining back his posture.
The grey circle glowed even brighter.
Fate - and perhaps Nanoha - knew that the brighter the circle was, the more painful it would be. She had experienced it first hand, and this was the brightest yet that Takeru had channeled.
She gritted her teeth, raising a shaking hand.
He hadn't noticed yet, back turned to her.
Nanoha didn't show any reaction either.
The blonde's voice was a hoarse whisper.
He snapped his head around, even as lightning rings clasped around his wrists and ankles.
Nanoha did not so much as move, only grasping her staff a little more tightly.
Raising Heart blinked. "Shoot."
The pink balls of light - all of them - zoomed in towards the man.
Fate tried to stop the other, shouting. "Nanoha! Don't do - !"
But it was too late.
Smoke and dust filled the room again.
For a moment, fear rose in her chest. She hoped against hope, hoped that he did not die. The circle beneath her had disappeared.
Her trained ears caught the sound of a strangled cough.
Nanoha's eyes narrowed a fraction again.
The dust settled, and he - still bound by Fate's magic - was hanging in mid-air, bruised and bleeding badly. His head was bowed. Unconscious?
Blood dripped to the floor.
Pink balls of light formed again, in all angles of the room.
"Nanoha," Fate tried, desperate. "Don't do it." She tried to stand up, and her legs shook.
But the balls only brightened, and grew bigger. Much bigger than Fate expected them to be.
A magic circle had formed underneath Nanoha.
"Nanoha," the blonde said, more calmly this time, trying to project reassurance into her voice. With that much power compressed into those balls, Fate knew that the brunette did not intend to just kill that man. She wanted him to disappear.
"He's not worth it," she said calmly despite the hoarse voice, magic forming in her right hand. And with it, she forcefully broke the chain on her wrist; ignoring the sharp, sharp pain that jarred her skin. She stood slowly, and dragged herself over to Nanoha. "Relax, Nanoha. Relax."
The brunette did not even move.
But her slate blue eyes were fixed on her; cool and distant.
Fate flinched involuntarily from the pain that shot up her left hand, and she grasped it tightly with her other hand even as she continued to move; wobbly and wavering.
Blue eyes turned back to the man who, apparently, wasn't unconscious.
"What a pitiful state you are in, Testarossa-san," he said snarkily.
Nanoha stared, her recently loosened grip on Raising Heart tightening again.
Fate knew instantly what he was trying to do.
"Don't listen to him, Nanoha!"
He let out a mocking laugh. "My treatment has done you wonders, no? Marvelous. Marvelous!"
The blonde ignored him, and kept Nanoha's hand that held the staff low. "Don't listen to him, Nanoha," she ground out, "Don't listen to him."
"Look at you, tattered and bleeding! You can barely even stand!"
The white mage's only response was to take Fate's hand by the wrist with hers; holding it firmly but gently.
Raising Heart was raised once more with her free hand, pointed at him.
"Ah," he murmured as if he remembered something. "You tasted wonderful too."
Emotion flickered on Nanoha's face, her blue eyes darkening for the first time.
"...You touched her?" she queried quietly.
Fate, in contrast, looked startled. Even bewildered.
His reply was to laugh. "What do you think?" he drawled out, "She has a body that men find hard to resist, Takamachi-san. And I...I am only one such man in this world."
The brunette's grip on both Fate's wrist and the staff tightened.
"Nanoha!" Fate nearly shouted, trying to escape that strong hold - which was a useless endeavor, given her current condition. "Don't - "
"Yes, my master."
The balls of light began to spin rapidly.
"Nano - "
The balls sped.
There was a flash of blue.
And then there was an explosion.
Nanoha is one scary girl? D:
The thing with Nanoha, is that I can see her acting both ways, emotional or unemotional. Which made it all the easier to define her behavior here as ooc, and at the same time, very-in-character. The decisive point that made me decide on unemotional was evidence of how she reacted to upsetting situations in episode nine of StrikerS. Backing that up would be the fact she's trained as an instructor for years. Patience may not come easy, but years of instructing students is bound to make her change in one way or another.
And I must admit, I was a little hesitant about this chapter. I'm not without doubt myself, to see her act this way. The scene(s) above are sort of a write-as-you-go-along kind of story. Response by readers can prove to be intimidating, sometimes, when I don't think I can bring up the level of writing to the standards of the other fic, Feathers. Though this is something I write out of enjoyment, I'd like to see other people enjoy this as well, so I hate to disappoint.
So, hopefully, this is a good read for all of you. Coming up next, part two of three.