Vivio staggered as she was pummeled by seven magical projectiles one after another, striking her back, her arms, her thighs. Already stumbling, she fell forward, dropping to one knee, then catching herself with one hand so she didn't hit the pavement face-first.
But that was all.
I don't get it. Vita-sensei hits me a lot harder than that in practice, Vivio thought as she pushed herself to her feet.
Then she did get it. Vita was an AAA+ ranked mage. The Iron Hammer Knight could hit a lot harder than even the spells in Memory Lancer. Vivio knew that as a trainer, Vita kept her attacks fully controlled, using only the amount of force necessary to teach the lesson, based on what she knew Vivio could handle.
It just so happened that "what Vivio could handle" turned out to be a greater power level than what Jack M. Cooper could actually generate.
Maybe she did have a chance of dealing with this problem.
A second stream of projectiles sprayed from the upper window.
"I don't need any more bruises, though. Parsifal?"
This spell wasn't so much a shield at all as it was an enhancement, using mana for a short-term upgrade in the power of her Barrier Jacket. Where the first spray of shooting magic had knocked her around and left her a little sore at the points of impact, the second one was stopped completely; Vivio ran through the blasts without breaking stride, feeling no more than she would from a friendly pat. A third wave followed before she reached the door, but no fourth one; Cooper was apparently reconsidering his strategy.
"This is Vivio; I'm in position," she reported.
"Are you all right? I heard the noise."
"Yes, sir; I'm fine. I think he was just using his own magic against me, not the device's," she deduced from the power level as well as the color of the projectiles.
"Probably saving the big guns for when the main fight begins," Sable muttered, "unless we've gotten lucky and he's run out of stored spells."
"Don't count on it, Sable; it was supposed to be fully charged up for field trials and we never found evidence that he's been burning through them."
"A man can dream, Sarge. I'm in position."
A minute later, the sergeant reported that he was ready.
"Everyone in place? Go!"
Vivio hit the door.
"Sergeant Shelby, the door's locked!"
"You're in pursuit of a suspect who's attacked you already. Break it down!"
"Oh, okay." She'd been a bit worried about that, not knowing precisely where the limits on police action were. But since she'd been authorized...
Her fist slammed into the door next to the lock. Since she didn't have a weapon-type device, Vivio's hand-to-hand attacks just used her hands and feet, though like any magical strike they were enhanced by energy. The fact that her close-combat attacks were not up to the standard of her defense was prominently displayed by the fact that the door shuddered, but required two more hits to smash open.
Vivio's first impression of the building's interior was that it looked like a warehouse, or at least how warehouses looked on broadcast dramas, with lots of open space and gantries and catwalks, though some areas did appear to be separate, enclosed rooms which she figured were supposed to be for offices or something-it was hard to say, since she only got to watch grown-up shows when Fate-mama was home, Fate being the only parent susceptible to wheedling.
He was shooting out of the front windows, so...he has to be in one of the upper front rooms.
She looked up just in time to see a door open and a man step out onto one of the catwalks. Even in the dim lighting, Vivio recognized him from the image Vita had shown her of the suspect. Cooper's pasty white skin and bright green hair were just like the picture, right down to the dozens of little cornrowed braids held by black beads. In his hand was a staff, about five feet long with a golden V-shaped crest: Memory Lancer.
"You!" he screeched. "Why won't you just fall?" He leveled the device at her and attacked again without any further preamble.
At close range the effect of blast against shield was definitely more pronounced. The majority of the force was still stopped, but Vivio found herself slammed flat onto her back. She shook her head to try and clear the cobwebs.
"Jack M. Cooper," she announced, "you are under arrest for grand larceny of magical goods and for assaulting an officer of the law!" She wondered if she had that right, but it sounded good. "Put down your device and come quietly!"
He sprang to the rail of the catwalk and over the edge. For a second Vivio thought he was going to fall or drop on top of her, but instead he sprang through the air to another catwalk forty feet or so away. Movement magic! Not flight, she guessed, but some kind of enhanced jumping that let him cover ground quickly.
All right, then...if he can move faster than I can I'll just have to try shooting back!
"Panzerfaust!" she cried, and a softball-sized orb of swirling rainbow color formed in the air. Vivio punched the orb and it streaked towards Cooper, dividing as it did into four separate, bulletlike orbs. She tried to control them with her mind, but one went sailing astray to hit the ceiling. The other three obediently arced towards him, following his path as he jumped again.
"Protection!" The missiles hit his barrier, battering it but not breaking through. Cooper cackled shrilly. "This is how you do shooting magic. Aura Shooter!" He snapped his fingers and a dozen of the pale blue balls formed in the air around him, then streaked towards Vivio. She didn't even try to dodge, just raised her Iron Spirit again and let them impact harmlessly.
"You're not very smart, are you?" she said. "I'm only eleven and I knew that wouldn't work."
"Why, you little-" He swung the staff around again. "Delta Blaze!" Three violet orbs formed around him, and Vivio had a feeling that those were a more serious matter than she was ready to deal with. A shield should stop them since they're probably not as powerful as the buster even combined, but they're homing shots so they'll just go around a shield...even if I block one, I'll take at least two hits...
This did not look good, to say the least.
Before Cooper could launch the attack, though, a bolt of bright green energy struck him in the side, knocking him off-balance and disrupting his concentration. The three orbs shot off in random directions; one blasting a hole in the roof, one destroying a chunk of catwalk, and one gouging the floor.
"How about picking on someone your own size?" Sable snapped. He'd emerged on a mezzanine catwalk off to the right, his wand-sized device in hand.
"Don't think that you can-ah!" Green cords began to snake around his limbs as Sergeant Shelby entered through an upper-level window, casting a binding spell. Cooper tried to bring his device around to blast him but his right arm was already entangled. In desperation, he flipped Memory Lancer around to his left hand and slashed the bindings away with its head, then got his free hand up and conjured a Round Shield to deflect Sable's second shot as effortlessly as Vivio had blocked Cooper's Aura Shooter.
He sprang again, making Vivio miss an attack of her own, then launched another Aura Shooter, this time ignoring the child to shell the policemen. They staved off the attack with their own barrier magic, but it had clearly taken its toll.
"You're an irrelevancy," he dismissed Sable with a snort, "and the little turtle can't hurt me." Vivio flinched, even though the insult was a little bit true.
"Maybe so, but you can't touch me, either!" she snapped back, reaching for a ladder to try and get up closer. "Once you use up your fancy little stick's tricks, you won't even be able to get my attention!" It wasn't quite so snappy as Nanoha-mama would have managed, but she thought it wasn't too bad under the circumstances. At least it made Cooper's face twist into an angry scowl.
"True," he ground out between gritted teeth. "Which means I just need to deal with the pesky binder to get away. Aura Shooter!" The azure missiles formed, but did not launch. Instead, Cooper leveled Memory Lancer at the sergeant.
He'll shatter Shelby's defenses first, then finish him off with the shooter! Vivio realized. If only I could get there! But she couldn't; she couldn't cover the ground between them anywhere near fast enough. She was a turtle, hard-shelled but terminally slow, too immobile to help except by drawing enemy fire.
Wait a minute! Maybe I can-
"Parsifal! Load cartridge!"
The violet wave slammed into Shelby's position with an explosive roar, followed by the rapid-fire peppering of the projectiles. The flare of interacting energies made it too bright to see for a moment, but when the flash cleared, Cooper found himself with his jaw dropping again. A glowing shield wall of shimmering rainbow light had wrapped domelike over the sergeant, like a triangular sheet bent into a tent-or a turtle's shell.
The police officers didn't wait to figure out exactly what had happened, but acted at once. Shelby's binding magic wrapped Cooper up tightly before he could jump again, and another jolt from Sable knocked Memory Lancer out of his hand.
~X X X~
"What," Sable muttered as they marched the restrained and sealed Cooper up to their police vehicle, "is it raining kids today or something?"
"I don't know," Shelby said. "I'd say the first kid turned out okay for us."
"You're just saying that 'cause she saved your butt twice."
Vivio beamed at the compliment, then noticed who the second "kid" leaning up against the police vehicle was.
"Hey," Vita said with a lazy wave.
"You know her?"
"Mmn! She's my teacher!" Vivio collected herself and said, "Lieutenant Vita, these are Sergeant Shelby and Officer Sable of the City Police."
"Lieutenant?" Sable couldn't help but gape. "They're making little girls your age officers?"
Vita glared at him, making Vivio start mentally tallying defensive magics. Vita hated to be treated like a child by random strangers.
"Why not, since the cops are doing it for numbnuts, Officer Slade," she commented, lazily swinging her device around off her shoulders. Since Graf Eisen was a massive warhammer, it looked like police-army relations were about to sharply decline, until Shelby spoke up.
"Ease up and apologize to the lady, Slade," he said, grinning. "We've already done one gag about combat instructors today."
Vita grinned back.
"Oh, you know Nanoha, do you?"
Vivio blushed. Geez, not Vita-sensei, too!
Shelby dropped a hand on her shoulder.
"Look, Vivio, we've got to get this guy properly in custody, so we're gonna leave you with your teacher if you don't mind. But...thanks. You did great out there. You ever need the cops for anything, give me a call, okay?"
Once the policemen had gone, Vivio and Vita dropped their Barrier Jackets, resuming their normal training outfits of shorts and T-shirts.
"So, how was it?" Vita asked.
Vivio thought that over.
"Kinda scary...but exciting, too, especially when I did things right!"
"You kept your head, though. That was good. Lots of people freeze up when they know what's going on is real. You can train 'till your arms fall off, but you know it's just practice. Battle's different."
"I had that thought, too," she admitted.
"That was a nice trick with the shield. Most people can't do that; they have to use a spell like Defenser Plus to cover someone else. How'd you think of it?"
"It was Cooper's 'turtle' crack. I...I wanted to protect the sergeant and I started thinking about shells, and I thought, well, my shield spells make a triangular wall but...if I thought of it like a sheet I could bend it, right? And I thought maybe if I could cast it away from me like I was shooting it...I...I didn't want to let my team down..."
Vivio found herself tearing up out of the blue. Why am I sniffling? Vita didn't seem surprised, though, but took out a handkerchief.
"Here. Blow your nose, kid."
Vivio nodded, accepted the handkerchief, and honked.
"No big. Most people get a letdown after battle. The adrenaline drops, and the brain lets all the emotions it's been holding back catch up to it all at once, stuff like fear, worry, guilt. You get used to it. Or you don't-your choice, really. Handkerchiefs are cheap."
Despite herself, Vivio giggled.
"Of course, now that we know that you've got this new ability, we're going to work it hard in practice," Vita continued on. "What kind of range you have, how distance affects the strength of the shield, all of that." She grinned evilly. "I'm getting some ideas for exercises right now."
Vivio started to groan, then stopped.
"Hey, wait a minute. Vita-sensei, how did you know about what I did?"
"This was a training mission, right? How am I supposed to evaluate your performance if I don't know what it was?"
"So you were watching the whole time?"
"Yep. I can be quiet if I have to. Besides which, if you and the cops got in trouble, I could step in and bail you out. Mistress Hayate's sneaky like that."
"I don't get it."
"It's an excuse for her to send in someone on my level without it looking like the army's taking over. Anything I had to do, hey, it was just correcting for my student's errors. Only you handled it yourself, so I got to sit around and watch."
Vivio shook her head.
"Politics." She made a face. "Me, I'd rather stick to problems I can hit."
"Me, too," Vivio agreed. Then again, she was eleven.
"Now, what say we jog over to school? You've still got a big day ahead of you."
Vivio did the math in her head.
"But that's two hours from here!"
"That should be enough time for me to break down your performance with you. Let's start with your approach to the building. If you're going to cross a fire zone, put your Eisengeist up first. An armor enhancer won't do you any good if you don't..."
"Vita-senseiiii!" Vivio moaned as she took off running after the already-moving redhead.
~X X X~
A/N: Once again, German translations for Vivio's various new spells are courtesy of Google and, of course, my own stupidity. Bonus points are awarded to anyone who deduces what the M stands for in the villain's name!
~X X X~
Vivio's Magical Omake Theater!
"So let me see," Hayate said to Nanoha. "According to this report, Vivio seems to be progressing well in her training."
"Mmn!" Nanoha said happily. "She's studying very hard under Vita-chan. She's learning new things almost as fast as we did, and without the constant pressure of life-or-death battle."
"So speaks the proud mother. But I did have a question. Vita was talking to me about some of Vivio's upgraded abilities that she created for herself. There's an enhanced personal barrier, Eisengeist. There's an enhanced shield, Eisenschild, and even an enhanced attack spell, Eisenfaust. Are you sensing a pattern?"
"You should see her room at home. Graf Eisen wall-scrolls. Graf Eisen PVC statues. Graf Eisen T-shirts. She even has a Graf Eisen body pillow and sheets!" Nanoha hung her head and sighed. "My...my daughter has warhammer moe..."