Opening notes: It's important to note that I started writing this before StrikerS was over, and that nothing in the ending made me want to correct my plot for it. However, as nothing really surprising happened, everything up to the epilogue is part of this fic's canon. The epilogue itself, however, is not; Mobile Division six was not disbanded; much the opposite, actually.

Oh, and as for Midchilda using Earth's months, days or whatever, blame it on yours truly for not wanting to complicate things where it wasn't needed. I don't think you'll mind.

That said, enjoy my little work of fiction, dear reader.

October 27th 0076—

54°N, 105° W, Spineridge Valley, Verde Mesa, Midchilda—

Time-Space Administration Bureau GDF-controlled Restricted Area 72—

Brigadier-General Gutz bit off a curse as he stared at the clock hanging over the massive reinforced diallium alloy hatch that sealed the highly fortified installation bearing the top-secret address of "Storehouse 105, Middle of Nowhere, Midchilda". His teeth, permanently yellowed by tobacco and lack of care, gnashed against his fifth cigarette that morning.

Although neither he nor the two first lieutenants behind him had absolutely needed to stay standing there in front of the door for the last hour and a half, he wasn't, in his own words, a big enough sissy to sit down and wait, and neither should his troops. And if they were wasting their time, then it was hardly his fault, but just another thing to blame on the delegation they'd been waiting for.

He fucking hated surprise inspections; not only did they set everyone on edge and were a huge security risk but they also forced him to leave the camera detail to those two.

Those two were C-ranked mages with about six years (or something like that) of background in the GDF. While their low ranks limited their usefulness in combat roles, it did nothing to stop them from operating security consoles or serving as camera security, a job that could be done by a four years old assuredly. The real reason he didn't want them there without him, though, was that they were lacking something he considered essential for any jobs in the military, or whatever the Bureau's ground forces qualified as this week:


There was no place for women, especially low-level ones, anywhere where strong stomachs were needed, as far as he was concerned. They were too soft, too weak-willed for the kind of work the ground forces were usually talked with accomplishing. It was no wonder most of them preferred to join those sissies in the air forces.

"Sir, the convoy has reached the last checkpoint."

He was, of course, conveniently forgetting that women were on average magically stronger than men, and were better fit for the often exhausting jobs of the air forces.

The clock buzzed at precisely 5 PM. The Brigadier-General sniffed in disgust; one hour and forty minutes, that's how late they were. Completely unforgivable. Their leader was probably some newbie with too much self-worth, thinking the surprise in "surprise inspection" meant "Surprise the base full of tense highly trained ground mages by coming in half a day late, and get the crap blasted out of ourselves under orders from yours truly".

"Sir," the telepathic message cut through his thoughts, and he mentally sneered; it was one of them. "The inspection truck has cleared the last checkpoint, it should be here any second."

"So why the fuck are you only warning me now?!" he replied scathingly. Her reply had the grace of being properly embarrassed.

"I… I apologize, sir, I thought my message had reached you."

In terms of mage rankings, C was barely better than D. C-rank mages were expected to have the ability to make magical devices work, as well as having some basic lessons in storage device usage and basic physical training. But to have trouble sending mere telepathic messages! How had she even reached that rank?

"Why the hell did you try to reach me telepathically if you can't even do it?"

"Sir," great, now she was angry. Boo hoo, cry me a river. "You told me not to use M2Ds yourself. You said telepathy was less risky."

Gutz grit his teeth, then spat out his cigarette then the filter finally gave in to his teeth. A real soldier would have saluted and asked him what color he wanted his carrier pigeons. But no, not them. Women always had to try and argue, regardless of who was in command. Tsh.

Why did she even stay in the ground forces anyway? She aught to just go back to her kitchen already…

"Warning," the station's PA system blared to life, interrupting the scathing reply in his mind, "incoming vehicle. Code Green-Alpha."

He'd always found it stupid that the part saying "Everything's fine" was at the end, but it wasn't like the base's PA was intelligent enough to be reasoned with.

The doors rumbled aside, allowing a large, but light by common standards six-wheeled Groundhog-class APC inside. The two sets of delta-arranged wheels rolled to a stop when the vehicle was right in front of him (a bit closer than they had to, really, but he wasn't going to let some lousy self-important inspector psyche him out). Its side-mounted doors floated from their hatches, halting about a meter from the vehicle, allowing the inspector out…


Oh that was just fucking fantastic. Of course this would happen. Someone up there must either hate him, or be conspiring to ruin his day even further.

"I am Lieutenant-Colonel Johanne Sikorsky, Section 3, third division," the woman introduced herself. She had silky black hair tied in a ponytail, kept long enough to make it a complete liability in a battle. Her uniform, while within regulations, was obviously the smallest size that would fit her, revealing her attractive curves. She had, he decided at first sight, obviously been promoted to her position because of her body, and not out of any reasons following basic common sense. "With your permission, I will inspect this building to make sure it conforms to the standards the Bureau expects from its storehouses."

"Do what you want," he replied in a grunt. And of course, both of her underlings were female, too. The first one was a petite red-head with bright purple eyes whose bust stretched the fabric of her top to its limits, while the second was a somewhat lanky purple-haired, green-eyed girl with very little chest and a lot of leg.

He was so busy complaining to himself that he completely missed the look the Lieutenant-Colonel gave to her purple-eyed underling, or the replying grin said underling gave.

"Sir," she said, "I realize you probably do not wish us to remain here too long."

You got that right, missy.

"This is why, if I may, I suggest to leave the inspection of some… more time-consuming areas to my assistants, Lieutenants Verissa," she motioned at the busty girl, "and Miata," she waved at the other, "… with proper escorts, of course."

"Sounds fine to me," he replied, genuinely pleased with the suggestion; anything to cut this as short as possible.

"Good! Then Lieutenant Miata can inspect your troops' living quarters, and Lieutenant Verissa will take care of the climate control systems. Is this fine?"

"Sure," he replied, then gave a look at one of his Lieutenants. "You, go with the tall one. You, take the red-head."

"Yes sir," they both replied in unison, saluting like good soldiers should. Good, he was overdue for some competence.

"As for you and I," the Lieutenant-Colonel said silkily, "we can begin our visit with the command center."

Had he been a bit less angry at them, just a bit more aware and less blinded by his sexism, he might have noticed she had not used "Security Room", which essentially served as the command centers for storehouses, a mistake no one from section 3 would have done. Had he not been underestimating his visitors, he might have noticed something was wrong about visiting those areas first and not, say, the storage area, which was much more time-consuming to inspect than the climate room. He might have noticed the dangerous predatory aura that surrounded the Lieutenant-Colonel as she followed him. He might even have noticed the way the APC's doors had silently slid back in their hatches.

But he didn't. And no one did.

And in the end, as his paralyzed lungs filled with a mix of poisoned air and his own blood, and his underlings collapsed and coughed blood at their consoles, and as the PA system screamed reports of poison spreading through the air control systems and the living quarters, there was only one thing he could think while looking at the grinning face of the "Lieutenant-Colonel" that loomed over him.

That… damned… woman…

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha

Through Troubled Waters

Prologue End