While at the same time happy for her Miester, a part of Vita still rued the day that Hayate discovered she did, in fact, have living relatives somewhere in the world.
Granted, it was her father's uncle's niece's cousin three-times removed or however such, but the fact of the matter was, no matter how distant the blood was, Hayate did indeed have a relative.
To say that the Mage Knight was ecstatic was an understatment. In fact, it couldn't even be considered a statement at all, compared to how the girl was acting.
"OmigudomigudomigudomigudHE'S COMING TODAY!"
The 15-year-old pranced about her homestead in an uncontrolled fervor, leaving Signum to watch quietly amused, Shamal to try and settle Hayate down, Zafira looking on rather passively, and Vita giving a petty snort.
A part of the Knight of Steel wondered why Hayate never went 'Omigud!' for them.
Person With Many Aliases presents:
"Eight Cups of Wine"
A Heart-Burningly Familial Fan Fiction
"Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha" series property of Seven Arcs
Original Characters property of author Person With Many Aliases
Other series property of likewise trademarks, they need not introduction.
Hayate's foray into her family tree began rather unexpectedly, when she, at some point of her 15-year-old life, continuing to be in correspondence with her "Uncle", asked rather off-sidedly and randomly at the end of one insignificant sentence somewhere in her various letters, whether her last name "Yagami" was a fabrication of the social welfare system or not.
Then cogs started to turn in Hayate's head when she was replied that Uncle had actually known her father in passing, and that Yagami was his original surname, last he checked.
It hit her why she didn't attempt to ask this question earlier in her life. Perhaps by that time she had already been used to the idea of Poor Little Orphan Hayate Living By Herself, and accepted it as her lot in life, plus after that, many years later, it rather became Previously Orphan Hayate Living Currently With A Rather Dysfunctional Digital Family, and things were quite good then.
Still, if Hayate really was a Yagami...
Well, no more time to waste.
Hayate was surprised with the approximate speed it took for her to find records on the Internet of the Yagami family. The fact that there was a the, and not a simple a, surprised her even more, since it was in her opinion that Yagami sounded like something rather... generic.
Hayate's time exploring the Yagami family tree also found her learning of it's rather morbidly colorful history. Near all of the family members up to now had died surprisingly young... hopefully that didn't extend to her, what with it looking like her father's family was further removed from the main tree than others.
Still, despite the rampant bizarre phenomenon that plagued the Yagami with death, it was a miracle that there was even one surviving person in this time that was derived from that line.
That was, if this guy was still alive, and not somehow struck down by lightning in broad daylight.
Hayate kept her little findings secret for as long as possible, wanting to be absolutely sure when the time was right.
On the other hand, Fate and Nanoha were this close to throwing etiquette out the window in favor for just jumping each other in a breathy snogging session. How the two thought they could keep up that excuse of just being "very best friends" Hayate and the rest of mankind could only wonder, but they were obviously gay and she didn't need to be an inadvertent witness to this every time she wanted to have afternoon tea with her friends.
So when Fate was about to viciously attack Nanoha's face with her own, Hayate blasted out the first thing that was on her mind.
"So! You guys know I might have found an actual living blood relative of mine!"
Nanoha's visage spun toward her in shock, simultaneously swatting her Not-Lover in the face with her sideways ponytail. Hayate inwardly cheered.
"If I'm right."
"Hayate! I'm so happy for you! Won't it be nice for you to have a real uncle, or cousin..."
Fate interjected with a useful question, "What is this relative's exact connection?"
The mage knight frowned at that, "Actually, it's kinda weird. He'd be like my... uncle's wife's nephew's...something something something. It's really complicated."
"And he's still somehow related to you?"
"Have you contacted him yet?"
"Actually, that's been hard for some reason. He doesn't have a proper address or anything. It looks like he's almost always traveling. I was lucky to find out he was hanging around in a city in America..."
"South Town, was it? I don't remember exactly."
"Then you wrote him?" Nanoha excitedly bobbed.
"Yeah. I just hope I get a reply... somehow."
From the roof tops the two of them watched the girls enjoy themselves. Finally, he decided what his final observation would be.
"I want to kill her so bad."
"I hope you understand the concept of biding time. Alongside her, those other two were the ones who forced Friagne Dientedeleon to abandon the Relic on that planet, three years ago. Skilled Bombardment and Interceptor types. And that girl's abilities lie in wide area attacks, not to mention she's supported by her four servants. If we were in a straight fight, we would be destroyed"
"It's just so annoying. The Book of Darkness is just sitting there, out in the open for our taking, and they don't even know it. With our speed, I could lop off all their heads before they realize what's wrong."
"And then we'd have several more mages to complicate our escape. Patience, we'll have our fight. But we must wait for the right opening to allow our abilities to shine, while hindering hers. For now, let's conceal ourselves."
When Hayate returned home, Shamal greeted her unusually.
"Hayate-chan? There's a letter for you."
"The funny thing is that it isn't. If I recall, the return address was from America-"
"GIVE IT! NOW!"
I got your letter. I find it hard to believe that I actually have some far off niece or whatever. I never heard of you or your dad, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm the only Yagami there is.
But, seeing as there's nothing better to do, I'll humor you, since you actually bothered to write.
So I'll be coming over there in a week.
After that, it took a good five minutes for the Wolkenritter to calm their mistress down enough to explain what exactly Hayate had been doing for the past few weeks.
Vita folded her arms, "So you're trying to tell me, that after all these years, she finally found her long-lost... what was it again?"
Signum shrugged, "I believe I heard something about Hayate's grandmother's fourth cousin in there."
Everybody went over the letter again
"Are you sure it's alright to let him come over?" Vita asked warily, "He sounds like a grade-A jerk."
"I guess it can't be helped at this point though, Vita-chan. He is coming over regardless." Shamal helplessly admitted.
"Besides, it doesn't seem like our Miester doesn't mind that possibility." Zafire noted in a strangely puppy-toned matter of fact, whilst nodding to the girl in question, who was currently floating around the kitchen, supported by a giggly humming.
"I just don't like it. How come Hayate wants to see this guy? Doesn't she have us? And here she is, being all happy about a guy she hasn't eve seen." Vita grumbled.
"Of course she has us." Signum retorted cooly, "But Hayate is still a child. By seeing this man with her own eyes... she's confirming she has also has past as well as a future."
A musive silence, before Shamal saved the day as she always did.
"Well! I think we should get ready for dinner. Vita, Signum, could you help set the plates? I'll make sure Hayate doesn't get into an accident the way she is now."
"Seven days..." Hayate dreamily sighed, "Seven days..."
Approximately one hundred and sixty eight hours later, a spectacular gaggle of women were found at the airport.
Signum gave an amused look while Shamal tried to calm Hayate down. Suzuka just gave a charming smile to mask her exasperated emotions. Vita and Alisa sighed in unison. Nanoha was in the bathroom in need of 'touching up her make-up', with Fate in tow to 'help'.
Nobody really expected to see those two for the remainder of the day.
Hayate's initial fervor died into deep seated nervousness when she realized that she would actually be seeing this guy face to face as passengers from the last flight entered into arrivals hall. She gulped in sweaty expectation.
"Oi. Which one of you's Hayate?" A man said, as he approached the crowd that held up a banner with the name 'Iori Yagami' on it.
Naturally, all of Hayate's friends and family were no stranger to the male gender, but they never saw one so... this particular specimen defied all previous expectation of your average grade-A jerk, that was for sure. For one thing he was tall. He even manage to outdo Signum, the tallest of them, by a few inches, and for Hayate, he was probably a head or two above her. A plumage of crimson hair shot over half of his face, leaving only one amber eye to stare everything down. A black collar was enclosed around his iron neck. He wore a black jacket that covered his broad shoulders down, slightly parted at the front to let his chest bare. The jacket stopped at mid-waist, where his enormously long white button down shirt continued on. From underneath that shirt were a pair of red pants, which for some reason or another that defied all natural logic, had a long length of red leather strap binding the legs together at the knees.
"Um... you're Iori?" Hayate attempted.
More stunned silence.
"I-I'm Hayate! Yagami! Nice to meet you!"
This Iori really was a social butterfly. They all stood there for a good few more moments, before Hayate stuttered out some more introductions.
"And these are my friends, Alisa Bannings and Suzuka Tsukimura! And these... these are my... er..."
(Guardians.) Signum offered mentally.
"...Guardians! Yeah! Signum, Shamal, and Vita!"
Iori snuffed, "What? No last names?"
Aw, crap. "Ah! Well..."
"Come to think of it, aren't those all names of cars as well?"
Aw, CRAP. It takes me a year to finally figure that out, and he realizes that in the first few seconds we meet!
"Um... they're... their nicknames! I call them by that all the time! And since I want you to be as comfortable as possible... you can just call them that too, right guys...?"
"Quite so!" Shamal agreed immediately.
"Just as you said." Signum also followed.
Iori's singular gaze somehow managed to shift from Cold to Cold-NotBuyingIt as he stared at Hayate who sheepishly laughed. Five minutes into their first meeting, and she already felt like smashing a hole in the floor with her face and hiding in it.
Iori shrugged. Hayate took a breath of relief.
Alisa clapped her hands for attention, "Well, then! That's all fine and dandy! But enough standing here, Mr. Yagami, let's show you Uminari City!"
"What about Nanoha-chan and Fate-chan?" Suzuka asked worriedly, "Shouldn't we get them?"
"They'll be fine! They'll call when their finished 'touching up their make-up'." Alisa retorted with her fingers making quotation marks.
"Are you offering to try and get them?"
Everybody else eagerly declined such a prospect. With that, everybody took off. As Iori followed, her felt himself getting death-glared from behind by that red-haired brat... what was it? Vita?
"...If you ever make Hayate cry, I'll beat you to a pulp."
"Already getting that speech, huh? By the way, aren't you a little young to be Hayate's 'Guardian'?"
"...Shut up! She's was just generalizing! Stop being so picky!"
Most of the noise in the limousine was taken up by Alisa speaking to save everybody the trouble of drowning in the awkward silence as Iori stared out the window disinterestedly, Hayate too nervous to do anything other than sit with a red face, and the Wolkenritter in another limo and generally unable to really offer anything on helping Hayate and Iori bond other than close-quarters combat tactics for when a female is fighting a taller male.
"So! Mr. Yagami!"
"Since, we're here, let's get better acquainted with everybody!"
"For instance! It would be nice to know your birthday!"
"How interesting! What do you like to eat?"
"Really! Do you have any hobbies?"
"Playing in bands."
"Oh! Speaking of which, you ever heard of Midnight Carnival?"
"A bunch of uninventive hacks."
"Quite an opinion! Is there anything you dislike?"
"How very noble! Do you have any future plans?"
"I'm to find this one guy... so I can totally lay waste to his pathetic ass."
Alisa felt a bead of sweat run down her face that was doing its damn hardest to stay smiling, "How... interesting..."
Takamachi Momoko blinked at the party that entered Midori-ya Cafe.
"Didn't Nanoha say she was going to be with you girls? Where is she?"
Momoko gave the impression that she immediately understood. Quickly moving on, she turned to look at the towering male.
"Ah! Is this the man you girls were picking up? Hayate's... cousin?"
"It's a bit more complicated than that." Hayate nervously chuckled.
Vita snorted, "He's like Hayate's great-grandnephew's daughter's uncle's twin brother's-"
"Iori Yagami." He simply said.
Mrs. Takamachi clasped her hands together, "Well, you're both Yagami, and that's all that really matters! We're serving afternoon teas, if you want."
Alisa loudly appraised such an idea, "Sure! We all would love to spend some time relaxing! Together!"
Iori slumped himself into a chair, arms folded and legs crossed, and glumly stared at everything. Tea, was safe to say, also very quiet.
Alisa suddenly turned to her friend, "Hayate! Could I speak with you, please?"
Next thing the young Yagami knew, she was being dragged into the back of the cafe by Alisa's sheer force of will.
"Why aren't you saying anything?! I giving you all these opportunities to get cozy with your... whatever he is! Say something!"
"Me!? He looks ready to bite my head off if I try anything! Look at him!"
"He's just shy! He probably doesn't know how to interact with you! Men always put up fronts like that when they don't know what to say! You gotta take the initiative!"
"Like you're an expert on the topic!"
"Will you stop being so difficult! Just talk to him!"
And with a good shove, Hayate was sent back to Iori, minus Alisa, who was observing from a safe distance.
Iori sat some more.
Hayate continued standing.
Needless to say, dinner at the Yagami's followed a similar formula as tea and lunch did, consisting of moody silence, until Iori noiselessly excused himself to the outside patio.
Then Vita exploded.
"What crawled up his butt and DIED!?"
"But Signum! Hayate was looking forward to this, and we get this broody jerk? I ought give him a lesson!"
"Let the mistress handle this. This is her endeavor, we can only support her."
"But- come on!"
"Unless you have some solution outside of hitting him on the head with a croquet mallet and shouting at him?"
Hayate approached the red-headed man, apprehensive and with two steaming cups in her hands.
"Um... Iori? Coffee?"
The man just grabbed the cup off her and began sipping. Hayate's face deflated some more.
"Are you... are you liking Uminari City?"
"I might be needing to leave soon." Was the brusque reply.
The silence went from awkward to completely oppressive. When Hayate spoke up again, it was mostly an audible whisper.
"Iori... you don't want to be here, do you?"
The man neither admitted nor denied. It felt admission enough to the mage knight.
"Well... it's... really alright! I was being selfish, wasn't I? Even though I already have my life and you have yours... I'm sure people have it worse than me, yet I still barged into your life expecting..." Hayate's choked as she tried to laugh it away, "Geez, I really was selfish wasn't I? Just because I found out we had this slight relation, I expected everything to be fine! It's okay, Iori... you were in America looking for that person, right? And I already have a family... so it was better if we never met, huh?"
"... I'm going for a walk."
Iori hopped over the patio fence with that, pacing slowly off into the night streets, leaving the girl to watch the man's disappearing crescent moon back.
Vita's temper tantrum, previously cast off as a dud, came back reignited in full force.
"Okay, THAT JERK IS GOING DOWN!"
Even with Signum and Shamal attached to the scarlet semi-berserk state knight, Vita managed to propel herself to right behind Hayate when her mistress told her to stop.
"But Hayate, that guys was totally cruel! I know he knows how much you were hoping to see him, and for him to act that way-"
"It's okay Vita... I guess we asked too much of him, asking for this 'family reunion'."
Signum disagreed, "It was his choice to come."
"Well, it doesn't matter. He's gone... I don't think he'll be coming back."
It was a good hour later when a voice Hayate didn't recognize suddenly invaded her mind.
(G'Evenin' Yagami Hayate, Master of the Book of Darkness.)
The girl jerked, looking about her as she responded.
(Who's there? Who is it?)
(Say, you fond of that tall red-head guy of yours?)
(...What about Iori?)
(He's currently a bloody pile of flesh at my feet. If you want to see him again, you'll follow my voice. Alone.)
(Who are you!?)
(Why don't you come and find out? Alone, remember that, unless you don't mind the blood of uninvolved on your hands.)
"Something wrong, Hayate?"
"N-Nothing! You know what? I think we all need desert! Vita, you want ice cream? I'll go out and buy some! I'll be back in a bit!"
Hayate ran through the night life streets of Uminari City, following the last taunting mental transmission the malicious voice left. Storming into an empty towering office complex and into its service elevator, the emerging Bureau mage knight chased the voice all the way to the roof, running out into the open cold air that was interspersed with blinking red lights, ventilation shafts, and a water tower.
You there, Reinforce?
'Hai, Miester! We'll find those bad guys!'
Hayate allowed herself one silent smile before shouting into the air.
"I'm here! Show yourself!"
For a moment, there was nothing. In the next instant, something dove from the sky in a perfect vertical dive bomb, headed straight for Hayate. Reacting on battle-honed instinct, she threw out her hand, summoning a triangular white Belka shield that clashed against two white hands that clawed against the magic wall between Hayate and it. Between the hissing sparks, Hayate was hard pressed to peer through her squinting eyes to get a look at her sudden attacker
"ABSORCIÓN." Something shrilled like a device.
With a whine like high-speed gears, the white hands tore into the Belka shield, creating a gaping hole that found Hayate face to face with leering orange irises against black eyes. Then it opened its mouth up, light gathering between in the dark between its maws.
Hayate screamed as the blast enveloped her, the concrete underneath her feet, and a good eight floors whose circular portion had the bad luck to be obliterated by the bright beam.
At the bottom of the bombed out floor, there was stillness. Then a cough, before the mage knight pulled her dusty self out from the collapsed and knocked over desks and cubicles. The lights were out, leaving the city lights to pour in from the windows around her, while moonlight shone from the hole in the ceilings above.
'Miester! Are you alright?'
"Y-yeah, somehow... thanks for that last minute barrier, Reinforce..."
'Careful! The enemy is approaching!'
A figure in white dropped from the hole above, before jauntily standing, hands in his pockets. A pitch-white loathsome thing, dressed in a traditional hakama and boots of the invariably monotone color, along with a long coat that covered his upper torso and trailed on into a shredded tail. A stylized skull mask was secured over his face, half of it blackened by thick stripes, a fearsome design with its large, thin teeth at the center of attention. The only other thing with a hint of color was the man's unexpectedly shock of bright orange hair that poured out from behind the mask.
Hayate backed away cautiously, until the darkness of the room surrounded her somewhat.
That spell that broke through my shield just now... it wasn't just a Decline type...
'Miester! That moved absorbed the magic from the shield until it weakened! I know Engrajei type magic when I see it!' Reinforce's voice reported darkly. Hayate trusted her Unison Device's vast repository of magical knowledge.
What's its style?
'It combines utilizes high speed and attack by absorbing and hoarding magic particles in the air that are leftover from previous attacks. Skilled users are called Ghosts, because of the unique philosophy of using all magic for attack extends to the point of eschewing the use of defensive Fields and Barrier Jackets, so they can utilize the last drop of magic for destruction! The only thing I don't understand is how he can do that without an Engine Device. Engrajei can't perform advanced magic like that without a Device like Mid-Childa magic can...'
I'll have to figure that out as we go along, until then... "Who are you!?"
"Come on, lady. You don't recognize us? Three years ago, you and your war buddies also fought those in white, who wore masks."
Three years ago... the incident that nearly killed Nanoha? That means he's one of the-
The skull mask opened up in laughter, "Right-o! Five points for the mage! I'm one of the Espada. Zangetsu Cuchilla."
"...What have you done to Iori?" Hayate growled.
Though the mask showed no expression, the voice seemed playful, "Iori? You mean the red-head?"
"Yes! Where is he?"
"Who knows? I just noticed he was tailing you guys a lot all day, so I just dropped his name to get you to come. I don't see why you care about him anyways, after all that crap he put you through. But whatever it takes to get you here."
"What do you want from me?"
"Tch, and here I was thinking you actually had some brains. What the hell else do Espada want? Lost Logia, in preparation for that glorious day. Lost Logia like that Book of Darkness you're in possession of."
Hayate smirked, "I'm sorry, I don't know anything called the Book of Darkness anymore..."
"Sure you don't... but don't go expecting any help from your servants, girl. My partner, Setsuna Alablanca's currently leading them on a wild goose chase, and a field spell's been put up on this place to make sure you nor your thoughts won't be leaving this building."
"You'll be wishing you fought them instead!" Hayate retorted as she grabbed for her cross shaped pendant.
Zangetsu chuckled as he cracked his neck and his knuckles. "Go ahead, put on your Barrier Jacket. I won't stop you. For us Ghosts it's like watching a mage step into their coffin, begging us to seal them in with their own magic."
"Blessed wind, Reinforce! SET UP! Unison IN!"
Iori Yagami listlessly paced back to the Yagami household, whereupon he met sounds of commotion.
"You sure that's what that person said!?"
"Undoubtably! Our Miester is in danger!"
"Oi, what's this all about?"
The three girls and one dog turned to see Iori leaping back onto the patio, with that same cold gaze as always. Signum frowned at man, but nonetheless offered an explanation.
"Hayate has gone... missing."
Vita choked, before spitting out at the man angrily, "Yeah! She is! And since we're the only ones who care about her, we're going to go and get her back, and if you got at least one decent fiber in you, you'll help look for her too!"
Iori was silent as he watched Signum take charge of the situation, and the others immediately paying heed, as if they've done this hundreds of times before, even the mutt. Iori watched them rush out of the household, not even bothering to turn off the lights as they ran into the dark.
Iori Yagami snorted, spat, and walked off, hands in his pockets.
The Wolkenritter landed in the park near next to the shore, in front of presumably the source of the female voice that taunted them. Like Zangetsu Cuchilla, Setsuna Alablanca was a very definition of white.
Also dressed in a white hakama, hers terminated earlier to reveal some dainty white legs bound in white sandals, her chest wrapped in a cloth vest, tough forearm guards and separate cloth sleeves tied at the biceps. Albino white hair that was lankly drapped down her emotionless face, while an eye piece, with a thin slit for vision swamped half of her face, leaving a single red eye to nonchalantly glare back. Most unique of her, though, was the pair of large white wings that erupted from her back.
Vita gasped, "You guys... you're Espada, aren't you!?"
Signum's eyes narrowed, "I should have known dishonorable creatures like you were behind this."
"There is no such thing as honor in war. Only the right and the dead." Setsuna emotionlessly retorted.
"Speak up fast! Where have you taken Yagami Hayate?"
"You know as well as I do we're only going to find out the hard way, servants of the Book of Darkness."
"JA!" Both devices shouted in unison. Half of Setsuna's mouth smirked.
"Won't it be nice to have some Belka users in the ranks of Espada...?"
With that, the Ghost reached into her vest to pull out a string of four white beads, murmuring to it.
"In the beginning, there was dark... Noche."
In moments, Setsuna Alablanca spread herself out into a low stance, a long nodachi at her waist, sheath decorated with four large inlaid gems.
Setsuna's face grew into a wild grin as she watched her opponents raise their devices, "Come! Openly, squarely, and in order... I will cut you in two!"
Red missiles and beams of light traded down the hallways as Hayate flew back and threw up shields to deflect the attacks cast by Zangetsu, who followed, blurring and swirling around the Bloody Daggers.
"What's the matta, miss Book of Darkness? Where's that big scary Diabolic Emission of yours? Or are you too afraid of bringing down the building with your attacks? Ha! I'll pummel your face in before you even finish one word of your ceremonial spells!"
Damn it! I should have known better than to meet this guy on his terms! He purposely brought me here to make sure I couldn't use my best strength! Even if I used the skills I still have from Nanoha and Fate, he's right, those would require incantations as well, which I don't have time to say in location... At this rate, all I've got is Bloody Dagger and Black Impact-
'Miester! Look out!'
Zangetsu's skull face flickered into right in front of Hayate's face, making her jerk back gasping. She narrowly dodged one fist that missed her face, but failed to back away fast enough to avoid the next punch that slammed into her chest and the follow up kick that launched her away by her stomach. With a quick assistance with Sleipner flight magic, the mage knight flipped about to land on her feet, panting as she glared at the white warrior who arrogantly twisted away his outstretched leg before dropping it.
"How... how are you using that sort of magic without a device?"
The orange eyes sneered, "Without a device? What made you think that?"
"Take a good look here-" Zangetsu's hands pulled back the coat hems around his chest, revealing four black gems that were bolted onto his chest and upper abdomen, "-without a device? In search of higher-levels of power, I implanted this device into me!"
"Ha! Say that to any one of us Espada, we don't give a damn. I'm better in melee combat than even your stupid Belka servants! In these hallways, with your own magic you wasted to attack me, I'll strip you of your pretty powers and prove you're just some brat! Activate gear one!"
One of the four gems broke into a steady glow as Zangetsu closed his coat and rushed across the hall with enough force to throw up concrete and carpet behind him in a deep gouge.
Hayate yelped as she ducked under a fist that made the plaster wall beside her explode.
He's too fast!
Another fist was brought back by Zangetsu, before it plunged forward towards Hayate's gut. Another shield managed take the blow, though the new strength of the punch was enough to send her sliding back through the hall. Even before Hayate could recover, the Espada had already blurred in front of her , fist reared back into massive hay-maker that completely smashed the shield into nothingness.
The axe kick spun down heavily onto Hayate's mere defense of her magically reinforced Schwertkruez, which was raised above her head.
In the middle of the street, Iori Yagami turned up to look towards the city skyline for a moment, before continuing on.
As the last of the dust and rubble cleared away from the gaping hole in the ceiling of the office car park, Hayate choked and coughed as she crawled out, a dusty mess. Feeling a growing pressure above, the mage knight only managed to throw herself away as Zangetsu Cuchilla slammed into ground behind her, leaving a deep crater while the skull mask twisted about the point at Hayate with an open mouth.
Hayate screamed as the beam picked her up and threw her and a parked car into thick supporting column, glass shattering and steel buckling, Hayate planted in a car planted in the concrete pillar, alarms blaring everywhere in her ringing ears.
'Miester! Get up! Get up, please! He could come again at any moment!'
Hayate slowly lifted her golden staff, wincing out her spell.
Zangetsu was already there, slamming his foot into her chest with his arms folded smugly as he watched Hayate choke out blood.
"Ha! You're really just an ordinary girl once you get past the big, bad, fancy spells and just bring it down to fisticuffs, huh? Game over, girl. I'm gonna tear out your linker core and- damn it!"
Zangetsu smacked the side of his head in remembrance of one minor detail.
"Of course! The Book of Darkness'll just find another master if I kill you know. Can't have that after all that work. Oh well, I'll just tear off your arms and legs. That'll leave you harmless enough when Setsuna and I take you back to the Cathedral... let's start with your right, hmm?"
Reaching out, Zangetsu grabbed Hayate's right arm by the wrist, hand still whitely gripped about Schwertkruez, while Hayate fiercely tried to pull off the ghost's grip, eyes widened in apprehensive fear.
Zangetsu chuckled as he held his other hand up, fingers pressed together, "I can't wait to see the Wolkenritter in Espada! That pink-haired one? Nice piece of ass, she'll look great in white-"
Just then, a firm hand grabbed Zangetsu Cuchilla by the collar of his coat, before throwing him full force into the windshield of another car, plunging through headfirst. Zangetsu burst through the roof of the car to see who did that.
Iori Yagami watched passively at Hayate sliding down the side of the ruined vehicle, coughing.
"Interesting. You have abilities. Looks like all Yagami's have some measure of ability, even if..."
"What the hell you doin' here?" Zangetsu spat at the redheaded man. Iori turned his cold gaze on the Espada.
"You. You're the one who hurt her?" Iori calmly intoned, jerking a thumb to the girl who sat on the floor.
"And what are you gonna do about it, norm?"
Iori's eye narrowed, "It's decided then... I definitely won't be forgiving you."
"Heh! Like I want your forgiveness anyways!" Zangetsu chortled as he climbed onto the engine hood of the damaged car on all fours like a lizard, "I'll just tear you to pieces and finish off the mage!"
Hayate choked, trying to plead desperately to her relative, "Iori... don't-"
"Don't tell me what I am or am not capable of, Hayate Yagami!" Iori quickly snapped back, before turning to Zangetsu, hand slowly rising.
"It's time for both of you to witness the true strength of the Yagami bloodline!"
Iori's hand burst into purple flame.
A simultaneous widening of eyes from both ghost and mage knight.
Iori threw his burning hand to the ground towards the car Zangetsu was on, causing the unnatural flames to fly across the ground in a ball of flame. Zangetsu leapt away as the car erupted into pyro. But as soon as he landed, another flare of purple skimmed across the ground, forcing the Espada to leap about until he took to the air indefinitely, standing upon nothing.
"Nice trick, redhead! Too bad it only works on the ground!"
Iori just snorted before rushing toward Zangetsu.
The idiot wants to still try and take me hand to hand without his tricks? I won't even give him the dignity of that! I'll just smear him across the ground with another Cero!
As Zangetsu began to open his mouth, Iori leapt, hands erupting into flame as he spun. The white beast didn't get a chance to react other than a brief choke of shock before he was covered in flames and falling to the ground. Before he even properly dropped, Iori lashed out heavily with a hooking leg, slamming into the skull mask and sending Zangetsu rocketing to the ground as the last of the purple flames stopped scorching his body.
Iori dropped to the ground and rushed forward at the same speed Zangetsu rose, ashes falling from his still white coat. In an instant, the two were locked into mortal combat, legs and fists lashing out at each other.
As Hayate watched through one squinting eye, she couldn't tell which of the two were more terrifying in terms of fighting ability. This was no flowery dance. It was two animals smashing into each other, powered by instinct and blood lust, and backed by what little of strategy they bothered to remembered.
Zangetsu lanced out with a straight leg that had enough magic pouring into the heel to shatter concrete. Iori pulled to once side and locked his arm around the limb. Not bother with civilities, the Engrajei ghost merely put a back hand across Iori's face, twisting it to on side. Snapping his head back, Iori sneered before using other other arm to grab onto the front of Zangetsu's coat, pushing him forward and onto the ground. Igniting the hand that held the white man, a miniature purple explosion ensued, sending Zangetsu rocketing out of Iori's grip and bouncing across the car park with enough force to leave gouges and trenches as he tumbled about.
Iori narrowed his eyes just the slightest as he watched the ghost emerge from the rubble with new ferocity.
"You piece of SHIT! I'm not going to be humiliated by this piece of trash that isn't even a mage!"
Iori heard something land atop the car Hayate was slumped against. Turning about, he looked in shock, while Zangetsu plucked the struggling mage knight off the ground before unceremoniously ripping her white coat off her and dropping her. With the magically woven material in his hand, Zangetsu proceeded to stuff the cloth into the open mouth of his mask, consuming fresh magic.
"Activate gear two!"
A second light poured out from behind Zangetsu's coat. Eyes wide and wild, the ghost screamed.
Iori leapt away from the massive explosions that lined the ground beside him. With Iori on the run, Zangetsu, perched on the ruined car tilted his head to follow the Yagami with several more beams that fired out from his mouth, tearing up the empty facility with flames and debris. All the while, the man dashed around Zangetsu in a wide arc, until he finally was rushing blitzkrieg straight back at his opponent, before leaping through the air in a flying kick that had enough force to slam Zangetsu into the concrete pillar he was beside, leaving large spider web cracks while the ghost bounced off awkwardly towards the ground.
Zangetsu disappeared at the same time Iori was knocked off the car. As he rolled to his feet, Zangetsu's face was already in his face, before another came from a completely different direction, and again. Before he knew it, Iori found his neck trapped in an iron one handed grip that even gave the redhead a run for his money, as Zangetsu laughed and held up him up in the air.
"This is it, norm! The limit of your strength! I'll rip your head off!"
Iori snorted, "Whatever, I prefer going by my own strength, unlike you who's so weak he has to increase his strength with that of other peoples."
"Whatever, the only thing that matters is what it takes to KILL YOU!"
"In that case, you forgot this was technically two on one!"
Then Zangetsu heard it among the flickers of flame.
"-Atem des Eis!"
Four frozen cubes smashed into the various areas around the burning car park, proceeding to throw the area into complete deep freeze, as concrete turned blue and flames disappeared. Iori kicked off the distracted Espada. As Zangetsu attempted to pursue, he found the ice along the ground growing up his body. In moments, the white body of Zangetsu Cuchilla was now ice blue, frosted over, unmoving, save his eyes that were wide with shock, and the barest of tremors as he tried to regain control of his unresponsive body.
Iori landed on the slick ground in front of the incapacitated warrior, staring at him darkly for a moment at best before shouting at the top of his lungs.
"Kin Sen Ni Hyaku Juu Ichi Shiki! YA OTOME!"
The frozen ghost disappeared under a flurry slashing hands, before they slammed together onto the cracked skull mask, forcing Iori's flames onto his body, detonating. As Zangetsu flew through the air, Iori refused to let it end there, slashing out into the air with both arms and scoring ripping sounds, before Iori reared his whole body back, and laughing manically, threw the full force of the Yagami bloodline into a giant smoking purple pyre that crashed into Zangetsu, and the ceiling above him.
Signum felt Setsuna's blade falter for a second against hers. Using the opening, the knight broke the locked blades and slashed out at the winged Espada. Predictably, Setsuna merely whirled away from the attack.
"I've already figure out your movements! Leavantine!"
Setsuna's escape cost her a bloody shoulder as the links of blades swooped past her. Paying it no heed, the woman kept her eyes trained on Vita and Signum, as she cursed to herself in her mind.
Zangetsu was... defeated? Our plan's fallen through then. It's pointless to die against them if the objective was not met.
Snorting, frustrated, Setsuna Alablanca soared backwards away from the Wolkenritter at high speeds.
"That's it! Run away from the Wolkenritter!" Vita jeered to the disappearing form. Signum quickly spoke to the support member.
(Shamal, can you track her?)
(Easily! She's not even trying to cover her tracks. Whatever made her run, it made her worried enough just to make a complete retreat.)
"Wolkenritter! Assemble on me! We're pursuing her!"
"I... can't... believe... lost... to this... norm-"
Iori slammed his foot atop the face of the spasming and ruined form of his opponent, eliciting a pained grunt.
"Punk. Think of me when you gaze at the moon, and don't come back here ever again."
With that, Iori Yagami paced back over to his relative, who sat on the ground, giving a weary but still very cheeful smile in her dirty Armor.
"Oi. Can you walk?"
"I guess not..."
Iori sighed, before plucking up yelping Hayate into his arms by her knees and back, and carrying her up towards the exit of the totaled car park.
"You're being rather kind all of a sudden." Hayate darkly joked.
"Like you care..."
"Don't complain. I'm looking after you."
"Since when did you care?"
"Hayate Yagami... we carry in our blood the taint of violent fates. You, with your family... you didn't need the violence a true heir of the Yagami bloodline brings with him."
"Eh? So you were trying to cold shoulder me away into leaving you alone?" Hayate deadpanned. Iori snorted and continued.
"It looks like we both have our secrets, Hayate. Even if your family wasn't as close the original Yagami family, it looks like you still carry some talent."
"...Did you really have to cold shoulder me?"
"... I'm an only child. I don't know how to deal with relatives, I didn't really want to try-"
"Oh come on!"
Iori shifted his grip on Hayate rather abruptly and carried her complaining out of the car park at a faster rate.
He was met by Hayate's family in rather colorful regalia.
More awkward silence.
"Hayate... why is he carrying you?"
"Well, Signum... ah... some weird things happened, this and that... and... I think he's already figuring it out, even if we don't tell him any more."
"Well! It's a good thing he's taking it so well, right?"
The Wolkenritter sighed.
Iori Yagami walked to the entrance of the departure hall.
"Do you really have to go so soon?" Hayate whined.
Signum gave an amused look while Shamal tried to settle Hayate. Suzuka just gave a charming smile to mask her exasperated emotions. Vita and Alisa sighed in unison. Nanoha and Fate where in parts unknown, predictably.
"I still have to find that guy." Iori succinctly responded.
"Right, and beat him to a pulp." Hayate dully remembered.
For a moment, Iori stood there, before walking back towards Hayate, and placing his hand on her head.
"I'll be back."
Though there was no smile on Iori's mouth or a glint in his eye, Hayate still felt the warmth of his hand and grinned.
"Great. They bond because they nearly got killed together..." Vita muttered off handedly.
"Take care, Mr. Yagami." Signum politely adieued to the crescent moon back.
Shamal waved before realizing, "We never really figured out the exact relationship between Iori and Hayate, did we?"
Alisa thumbed her chin, "What was it again? Father's second Aunt's older brother's... guh, I already lost it."
Hayate shrugged before yelling to Iori, "HEY! WANNA BE MY BROTHER?"
Vita blanched, "Oh come on! You want that broody jerk to be your brother?"
"What? Jealous, Vita?"
"O-of course not!"
And siblings and family left the airport in different directions, headed to the horizon but expecting to return one day.
Eight Cups of Wine: END
Indulgence Encore Epilogue:
"I'm sorry, Colt! But I really gotta go!"
"Geez! Haruhi! Fine! But if you miss this flight to this Fuuka, you pay for your own ticket!"
"Ah Colt, don't be so cruel..."
"Shove it Person, you spoil her too much."
Suzumiya Haruhi rushed towards the women's bathroom, in need of major relief. Inside, she grabbed for the first open stall-
Two girls slumped out, asleep and wrapped about each other. Fully dressed, yes, but it sure looked very rumpled.
The sleeping pair snorted and chuckled in their dream throes.
"Nya-ha-ha... Fate's so soft..."
"Nano-ha... show you... what lipstick's... used for..."
Haruhi, eyebrow twitching and mind very much nonplussed decided in an instant.
On the other hand, I'm sure I can hold it until I get onto the plane...
One cautious step backward, and then another.
Suzumiya Haruhi screamed out the door.
A/N: Not quite good as I expected in execution. Maybe the events needed more planning. Turned into more fight exhibition than the story needed.