I gasped lightly when my cell phone started vibrating in my briefcase. Across the room from me I saw, Nanoha quickly reach into hers as well, followed shortly by Hayate shoving her hand inside the bag hanging by her side. All three of us at the same time could only mean one thing: A mission. I discreetly peeked into my bag and saw my phone lit up and demanding to be answered. "T.S.A.B." was flashing across the screen and I licked my lips. Fortunately for us, the bell rang to signal the end of the school day and the three of us took off as fast as we could without looking suspicious. When we all assembled on the roof we took out our phones and answered. Three conversations went on at the same time, but the end result was the same: Report to the briefing room for an assignment. It seemed as if we were going to be given a long distance mission again, on some remote planet accented by a blue star near its moon.
Echoing came down the hallways as the three Aces made their way to the briefing room assigned to them for this current mission. The large regal hallways of the T.S.A.B's main office building towered around them but the three didn't seem nervous as the others around them. Several people stopped in their tracks to salute them. Already they were famous enough to earn nicknames despite only being seventeen years old. Ranks were passed as if they were nothing to the group, mage level far above people twice their age. Their skills were almost legendary, making soldiers think twice before even engaging them in conversation. Their heels clicked when they reached their target door, eyes firm and dedicated.
Nanoha's stomach growled loudly. "I'm hungry..."
Fate facepalmed. "I told you to eat something before we came..."
"Come on," Hayate nodded at them and opened the door to lead her friends in. "We're here!" She declared merrily when she saw Chrono and Lindy sitting in chairs across the single table in the room. "Sorry we are a tad late; we had to wait for class to end." Once they were close enough, she stopped to salute them both before sitting with her partners.
Chrono nodded lightly towards them. "Glad to have you all here again." Leaning forward, he got to the point. "As you may have guessed, we have a mission for you three. This is one that will really push what you have learned."
Nanoha crossed her legs to try and get comfortable in the stiff chair. "What is it?"
Lindy drank from the small cup of tea in front of herself before replying to the question. "We detected a great power resonating from a non-administrated planet near where one of our last missions took place. We sent a team to investigate and got very interesting results back."
"What we found out," Chrono continued where his mother left off, "was that this planet is inhabited by humanoids. Their technology seems to vary from place to place but the main area we are interested in seems to be quite advanced. I would place them slightly above Earth's current state."
Nanoha's interest was perked at hearing that. "So is it Logia class items that make up for the differences in technology in different areas?"
Lindy placed her cup back onto the saucer in front of herself. "We are not yet sure if it is, but from our reports it seems that there are not only multiple power readings, but there is a training facility that teaches people to use a type of gem to fight."
Hayate thought about what was said while Nanoha and Fate looked at each other questioningly. "So it is a military operation?"
Chrono gave her a light smile. "The data given to us implied that the people being trained there, all female, are being used as a type of 'super weapon' for high ranking officials. Kings and queens, if you will. Their power is so great that just one of them is enough to take on a small army."
"Compared to our mage ranks, how would they be classified?" Fate's red eyes moved to question her brother.
"We are not sure," Lindy revealed reluctantly. "We have not been able to see them in action, as our team was recalled when they were needed to be elsewhere. We have data of everything they learned while there and you all will be given a copy to study before deploying."
"What task are we going to agree to?" Fate pondered aloud.
Chrono waved his hand to bring up several monitors for them. "Going by the reports, this training facility also seems to be a school." The images showed different places around a campus with several people walking around. "If what we were told is true, and a single one of these students possess the ability to become powerful enough to take on a small armed force by themselves, then the T.S.A.B would benefit greatly from this type of training. We want you three to infiltrate and observe first hand what is going on."
Nanoha frowned lightly, making Lindy question her reaction. "Well," She spoke nervously. "I'm not really keen on the idea of stealing people's ways of life just so the T.S.A.B can teach people ways to fight..."
The male of the room sighed lightly. "Nanoha, we are not going there to steal their ways of life." This earned him a questioning look. "Once you three have been there long enough we will go by your reports to see if this planet is capable of making a treaty with our bureau. If so, then in exchange for their training system we will give them technology to better enrich their planet, as well as give them the rights of all others governed by us."
"Oh!" Nanoha blushed, sinking down in her chair lightly as Lindy covered a small smile behind her cup. "I'm sorry."
"Anyway," Fate spoke up, using her fingers to move the monitors around to inspect them all. "This school... you need us to get in, observe, and do reports on what we find out?"
"That is correct," Lindy told her happily. "Chrono and I both think that a mission like this would be great for your first clandestine deployment."
"Clandestine ...?" Nanoha laughed nervously when she was looked at by everyone in the room. "Nya haha..."
Hayate answered the question in place of the leaders across from them. "It means we will be dropped off and picked up later. We will be in charge of ourselves and are to go about this without anyone knowing we are doing it."
A small nod. "That's right." Chrono slid an envelope over to Hayate. "You will be in command. Your job will be to make sure that Nanoha and Fate have an easier time going about their mission. You will be in charge of everything, from getting them into the school, ensuring they are able to survive, to getting them out at any moment. You may assemble a team of no more than two helpers of your choice to ensure you are able to do this." He got a small nod and turned his attention to Fate. "Your job will be to throughly test the training system they undergo. While there, you will be forbidden to use any technology that would be considered 'suspicious' while in public. In other words, you will fight using their tactics and refrain from using your barrier jacket or Bardiche. I'm sure you are aware of the strict rules of using technology on an underdeveloped planet?"
"Yes," The blonde nodded lightly.
"And finally, Nanoha," sets of blue eyes met each other. "You will be Fate's assistant, but your main focus will be on understanding exactly how this training goes. If brought into the bureau, then you will be the one teaching it to others. You could say that this is your first step to becoming a full fledged instructor. Learning by observing and the ability to break apart everything to better understand it is a key factor is being a teacher. This is your first real test on that ability. Fate will rely heavily on you to guide and teach her during this."
"Yes," this time Nanoha nodded at him seriously.
Lindy spoke up again, placing two cubes of sugar into a fresh cup of tea. "Hayate, do you know who you need as your assistants?"
The brown haired girl stared at an image of children playing with an animal that closely resembled a dog on the streets of the town by the school. "I have: I would like to request that Zafira act as my personal bodyguard during this, as well as Yuuno Scrya for his abilities in data manipulation and archiving."
The older woman smiled over her cup. "Granted."
Chrono stood up and got saluted by his two friends and sister when they got to their feet as well. "You will depart in two days. Please make arrangements and inform your families of your extended leave from Earth."
"Natsuki!" The name made a blue haired girl turn around to see a fiery red head running up to her. "We're assigned to the same room again this year, isn't that great?"
"Mm," The female known as Natsuki nodded lightly, a small grin on her lips caused from the energetic one next to her. "This will be our last year as Corals. Soon we will be Pearl rank."
"Getting ahead of yourself?" Mai ran in front of her friend and walked backwards, leaning forward just a bit. "Don't slack off now and let someone pass you, number two." The last two words were said a little teasingly, igniting a spark of fire in the green eyes of her friend.
"I will beat you to the number one spot before we are promoted," she declared firmly. The two girls glared at each other a small moment before going into a light grin.
Mai opened the door to their shared dorm and tossed her duffel bag down onto her bed. "Thinking on it, it would be silly for us to be split up since we're already in this room together, huh?"
Natsuki started unloading her bag quickly. "Mm."
"In a hurry?"
"Shizuru onee-sama might need help unloading her things from the three week break."
Leaning back on her bed, Mai looked up at the ceiling. "Ahhhh, you're lucky. You know how many want to be her helper?"
Once a fangirl herself, Natsuki blushed lightly"I don't care." Tossing her now empty bag into the corner, she hurried out of their shared living quarters.
Mai looked at the almost closed door leading out into the hallway thanks to Natsuki's hurry. "Don't be so jealous, Natsuki." She told the empty room with a small smile on her face.
In the halls, Natsuki walked among the other students until she came to another section of dorm rooms. Stepping up to one of them she rapped lightly with her knuckles. "Come in," an accented voice floated gracefully from within. The door was opened and Natsuki stepped inside, closing it behind herself softly. "Ah, Natsuki." Shizuru smiled at the girl knowingly. "Nice to see you again."
"Shizuru onee-sama," She greeted back while walking over to her. "How was your break?"
"Very nice, and yours?" The older girl sat down on her bed and patted her legs. "Come?"
"Yes?" Natsuki was ushered to sit on her friend's lap sideways. "Shizuru onee-sama?"
"My, you've grown." Shizuru brought up her hand to Natsuki's chest and slipped it under the shirt quickly. "But," She cooed at the blushing face before pulling out tissue. "You don't need to stuff."
Blushing hard, the girl on top mentally debated standing up and changing the subject or staying seated as her onee-sama requested. Her dilemma was solved for her when a loud-mouthed blonde walked into the room as well. "We're together again, I see." Haruka Armitage complained loudly. When her eyes spotted the two on the bed, her finger went out instantly in an accusing manor. "We haven't been here four hours yet and you're already seducing someone!?"
Natsuki felt her ears burn as warm arms encircled her stomach. "You're so mean. We were in a good mood too…" Shizuru whispered seductively. "We'll have to continue later..." Her eyes looked up into her underclassman's and lips turned up into her famous gentle smile. 'Natsuki is such a cute girl when she has that angry blush.'
"How long will you be gone?" Momoko asked her daughter while watching her pack. "Are you sure you don't need to bring clothes with you?"
"A few months, and no, no clothes." Nanoha placed a single change of garments in the bag filled with random items. "The money used on that planet has been copied and explained to us. We have enough to be considered extremely rich, so once we settle down, we will shop for the proper garments native to that region."
"...I don't think I will ever get used to this..." The woman leaned against the door frame with a sad smile. "Going away for months at a time, all by yourself..."
"I'm not alone," Nanoha nodded to herself and zipped the bag closed. "Fate-chan will be with me and Hayate-chan, Yuuno-kun, and Zafira will be supporting us. This is a reconnaissance mission, so besides the training we will be undergoing there is no fighting." The girl stood up and walked to her mother. "I should be going now." After getting a tight hug the two walked down to the living room where Yuuno was waiting on them. "Yuuno-kun!" She called out in a greeting happily. "Sorry I made you wait!" The two gave each other a brief hug before parting. "Thank you for agreeing to help with this mission."
"Sure thing." He took the offered bag and held it for his friend while she hugged the rest of her family members. "Some good news is there is a planet not too far away that is under our treaty," He made conversation to pass the time during the long hugs. "So there is a very good chance of using the system to send mail back and forth. Of course it can't be real-time but it's better than nothing."
Nanoha smiled at hearing this. "Great, I'll write every chance I get, I promise. You remember how to work my player in my room right Mom? Dad?" She got two helpless faces.
"I know how," Nanoha's brother spoke up helpfully. "I remember last time you showed me. How to record as well."
"Great," Nanoha looked at each of them in turn once more before standing next to Yuuno. "I'll be home later... Take care, everyone" With that, she looked up at her best male friend and nodded briefly. A familiar circle appeared on the floor in glowing green lines and by the time she looked around again she was on the Asura. "Hello," she greeted the group casually. "Sorry for making you wait."
Hayate waved it off. "Don't mind, don't mind. We just got here not too long ago."
"Zafira," the Flight Ace knelt down to ruffle the wolf's fur. "I haven't seen you in doggy form in ages."
Through the shiny blue and white coat, a small ting of embarrassed red came through. "With this, we hope to be able to exchange items while on the job. If no one notices this form then I will be able to check in on you two occasionally."
Chrono walked over to the group at that time. "We are ready to transfer to the jump site, is there anything else you need to take care of before then?" The group looked at each other briefly before Hayate shook her head. "Okay then; you will warp to a patrolling ship and from there you will be transferred to your base on Non-administrated planet number 119, also known as Earl by the natives. Here are your data packets." His hand waved in front of himself, sending several monitors flying to the group's respective devices. "Remember, your M2Ds won't function on that planet so you will need to find a way to communicate when out of telekinetic range. Once more, I will stress to you that this mission dependent upon your ability to learn and observe. Refrain from using your jackets unless it is a life threatening situation. You are there to use their combat system, not ours."
"Sir!" The group saluted together and teleported after a short countdown.
Upon their second transit the gang found themselves on top of a building overlooking a vast city closely resembling London back on Nanoha's home planet. "Wow," the Flight Ace breathed out as she walked to the edge to get a better look. "Amazing how different planets can achieve the same look and feel of ones light years away."
Hayate moved some of her hair from her eyes as the wind blew around them. "Well, it's practicality. Humanoid creatures need basic things to survive. Shelter is built depending on the needs... From what I can tell, this seems to be a fairly advanced section of the town... peaceful too."
Fate knelt down to see how far up they were. "We can jump down here. Do we have a place to go?"
"This is my base," Hayate revealed before leaping down into the backyard of the building. Using slight flight manipulation, the team landed safely on the concrete beneath them. "The investigating team that was here before us used this apartment as their safe-hold." Her eyes scanned the area curiously, taking in the surroundings and people walking around them. "Activate language filters." Her device confirmed the action and the world around her suddenly started making more sense. "Have any of you used the language function?"
"Yes," Fate nodded at her.
"I haven't," Nanoha gave an embarrassed chuckle.
Hayate grinned at her friend and held up a finger while explaining. "Your device will auto translate everything that comes in your personal sound area. When you speak, your voice will be changed as well so try not to let people watch your lips while talking too much. Your voice will be altered but your mouth movements won't."
"Won't we sound like our devices then?"
Hayate waved it off. "I don't know the details on that, so just say technology is amazing."
"Ehhhh..." Nanoha looked up and over her shoulder at Yuuno, who shrugged with a small grin on his face. "I see then. Raising Heart, activate language filter?"
"Already done, my Master."
After a small laugh at the girl they continued into the building and observed the layout. A reception desk was spotted, and after a small introduction and a well practiced speech from Hayate, they were given keys to one of the upper floor rooms. "Nice place," Yuuno thought aloud as he let his duffel bag fall to the floor. "Home away from home." Walking over to a corner, he smiled at the metal boxes that were lying down. Several seconds of button pressings passed and soon he was greeted with a floating displays around himself. "Activation complete. We have M2D and connectivity to the patrolling ship from this room."
Nanoha blinked. "But I thought we couldn't use those?"
"Outside of the base of operations it is not preferred," Zafira informed her while the rest started going through the supplies left for them. "As long as we are here, we can observe it. If you were to take a computer with you to your campus, then someone could steal it. Here it is protected by the barriers left by the previous team. Just like on Earth, your homes could be equipped but not your friend's houses."
"I see... Sorry, this is my first time on a non-administrated planet mission, not counting Earth." Nanoha nodded to herself. "Lots to learn... Fate-chan, you're used to this by now?"
"Mm," The blond nodded. "I've done several; a few with Hayate, but this is the first time I don't have a commanding officer in charge... Well, I suppose that is Hayate." She looked over at her brown haired friend and smiled. "Sorry, Commander."
"Oh stop that," She laughed. "It seems we have everything we need...Okay, as of now we are officially on duty. Yuuno,"
"Ma'am?" He smirked.
"Start finding a way to get them into the school," She stuck her tongue out at him. "And don't call me ma'am... Nanoha-chan, Fate-chan-"
"Ma'am!" The two replied at once.
"...Change into some clothes and start looking around the city. We only have one pair each so we will need to buy a few changes. While you are out, see if you can find some type of food, and listen for any information that might come in handy. Zafira, if you would, please patrol the surrounding area and make sure you're seen to judge people's reactions to your wolf form. Preferably go in your puppy size so you will blend in better."
"Yes ma'am." Zafira shifted his form to a smaller size and allowed Nanoha to pick him up on her way out.
"And I," Hayate mused to herself while walking to the couch to bring up her own monitor and keyboard next to Yuuno's. "Will prepare all the information I can get on the school and go over the reports left to us..."
"And that," a teacher at the front of the classroom finished up, "is the end of today's lesson. I want all of you to practice your under stitchings and be prepared for a test on what you learned next time we meet."
Natsuki pushed the sewing needle into her cushion and tossed the entire thing into a clear plastic box on her desk. Sliding it into her bag, she stood up and sighed softly. "What's this?" A voice from behind made Natsuki jump lightly. Upon turning around she only caught sight of orangish red hair flashing beside her and snatching up the handkerchief that was being sewn on. "Aww, how cute, Natsuki is sewing a doggy!"
"Give me that!" Natsuki grabbed her project from Mai and shoved it into her pocket. "Just because you're good at it doesn't mean everyone else is." Moving away, she started walking out the door along with the flow of students.
"I can help you later, if you want." Mai clasped her hands behind her back. "But it will have to wait; I got us permission to go off campus today. Haruka-sempai signed for both of us."
This perked Natsuki's interest. "Oh? What did you have in mind? If you say karaoke I refuse."
"Aw, Natsukiiiii." Mai put her hands onto her shoulders and started urging her to start moving to the front doors. "I already have a few of our friends ready as well."
The look on her room mate's face made the stubborn girl sigh out and look away. "Fine. I'll stay for a while. After that I'm going to ride."
"Woohoo! Karaoke!" Mai cheered happily as she pushed Natsuki down the halls while ignoring the protest and complaints. When the rest of their friends arrived, they signed themselves out of school and ran down the long stairway on the hill leading to the city below them. The blackish-blue haired girl took her time, walking down casually after the crowd.
"Ara, Natsuki, are you leaving?" Shizuru's accented voice flowed smoothly as they passed on the steps, turning to look at each other.
"Shizuru onee-sama." Natsuki replied politely to her upperclassman. "Mai talked me into singing with her."
"I see. Well then, stay out of trouble okay?" Her hand went to Natsuki's left arm and touched it gingerly above the long sleeves. "I don't want my precious helper to hurt herself driving too fast."
Natsuki looked away, trying to recover from the shock of having it known she rented a motorcycle and laid it over last time she was out. "I..." She couldn't find it in herself to lie to Shizuru, so instead she simply nodded. "I'll be careful."
"That's a good girl. I won't forgive anyone who hurts you, even if it's you." With that confusing statement, Shizuru continued up the stairs and left Natsuki to ponder.
As the group re-assembled together to go into the town, Natsuki looked around boredly. Having no real interest in singing, she instead thought of what to do for the rest of the afternoon. Shizuru's statement could very well have meant that if she ever hurt herself on a bike again, she would be forbidden to ride anymore. This didn't sit well with her so the best choice of action would be to lay low for a while. Her eyes looked down while walking and caught sight of a blueish puppy wandering the streets. "Hey," She called to it, making the dog stop to look before being scooped up into her hands. "You could get stepped on walking around like that." The dog looked at her with intelligent eyes, making her suddenly feel as if she didn't need to warn it.
"Fourteen!?" A female's voice asked loudly not far from the two. "Fate-chan, there's no way!"
"They will have to believe it," another voice came up. "We can't change what we can't change." Two females stopped in their tracks when they noticed Natsuki holding Zafira in her hands. "Zafira!" The blond stated in an almost scolding tone. "I told you not to wonder around like that. Thank you for finding him." She reached out and was handed the puppy. "He runs off all the time."
"No problem," Natsuki waved it off.
"Are you," The brown haired girl with a lopsided ponytail leaned forward. "A student of Garderobe?"
"You're uniform," She pointed out happily. "I think that's the standard for a Coral?"
"Oh. Yes. Do you have some business with the school?"
"Well actually," The girl smiled. "We moved here to attend. Our first day is tomorrow."
"Attend...?" Natsuki raised an eyebrow. "Almost two weeks late? The school is very strict about these things... And I think we're already at the limit of new students."
The two girls didn't seem phased by the words and the blond spoke up again. "We told the school we would be late, there was important things to take care of back home. Nanoha and I just happen to meet here today."
"Natsukiiiiiiii!" Mai's voice called from across the street as she waved above her head. "Come on!"
Nanoha nodded to the school member. "Thank you again for finding Fate-chan's puppy."
"No problem," with a turn, she walked towards the girls waiting for her. "If that's the case, I'll see you tomorrow." Her voice clearly showed that she didn't believe them.
Nanoha frowned slightly. "Achaaaa... She's not very friendly is she?"
"We are strangers," Fate replied without worry. After setting Zafira down and letting him run off again the two resumed walking down the sidewalks of the town surrounding them. "But back on topic, I'm sixteen, there is no chance they will take me for a fourteen year old. I'm too tall."
"We can say you are from a region where girls are tall," Nanoha replied simply.
"And my breasts?" Fate pointed to her chest. "A girl just hitting puberty wouldn't be so full."
Nanoha glared. "Don't rub it in. You're only a little bigger than me." Taking a turn, she looked up at the sky. "Hayate-chan already has it on their files. We are transferring from a small region of land controlled by a king named Yuuno. Because it is a new leadership they haven't made any treaties with anyone yet and their first goal is to obtain two Otome to defend their land."
Fate sighed. "I'm glad Yuuno knows what he's doing. He told me it was hard to crack into their system, even with the technology of the T.S.A.B behind him. I don't know what kind of computers they have at that school but we don't need to change anything more than we have to. Do you have your past memorized yet?"
"Takamachi Nanoha, born in the Zipang region. Fourteen years old and an orphan from the get-go. Adopted by the new king Yuuno who rules his land with peace and honesty. My tuition was paid for completely up front, including all meal plans." She winked at Fate. "I may not be the best at missions like you are, but I love reading and learning. Something like this is easy for me."
Fate looked relieved at hearing this. "Good. I was a little worried since this isn't your main focus. I hope everything goes smooth for us..." A few cars drove by in front of them as they stood at a cross section. Beside them stood a woman around their age in dirty looking clothing that revealed her stomach. A hood covered her hair and most of her face, extending out to be almost a cape. Fate looked over at her curiously as they walked the same direction. Light purple hair fell from the covered head and caught in the sunlight, almost sparkling. 'If that woman is so poor,' Fate mused while keeping an eye on her. 'She should spend more money on important things rather than keeping her hair so clean.'
The covered woman stopped at a fruit stand on the street and parked herself next to a small child who was looking nervously around before reaching a hand out to snatch a piece of food. Acting quickly, the woman caught the small wrist and looked into the fearful eyes of the child. "Stealing is wrong," She whispered lightly, reaching into her pocket to produce enough money to buy the child something to eat. "If you need food, go to a shelter and ask for some."
Fate smiled to herself as they passed, eye catching the sparkle of an expensive ring holding a sapphire gem in it as the woman ruffled the kid's hair. "I think this planet may have some interesting things to see," She mused aloud, making Nanoha tilt her head curiously to the side.
Author's Notes: For those who don't know much about Mai-Otome, Nanoha and Fate will be learning as they go, so the readers will learn along with them. Also, I'd like to point out that this cross-over does not happen at any specific time or place in the Otome series. It is just generally around when Natsuki and Shizuru are in Garderobe. In order to make some of the Otome cast available for use but not having them interrupt the storyline, I made them a little older. Arika and Mashiro are around seventeen or eighteen, and Arika is no longer in Garderobe. These two are the only ones who jumped time as of right now.
A fact that should be noted is that because this is a crossover, it can not be completely canon. Although I will try to make it be like each series as best I can, please don't complain about little things that had to be changed in order to make this work.
As always thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are welcome. Special thanks to the handful of Anonymous who offered me advice. I hope I can improve my writing during this fic.
Also, thank you to Angel, who proofed this for me and helped me get personalities down. Finally, lots of thanks to EA Simpson, who gave me lots and lots of Otome knowledge.