The giant hammer, its head ten feet long and four across, its tip a spinning drill, reared up in the sky.

"Limit Break!" shouted the petite redhead holding the handle. The hammer head rose and fell three times, popping out spent cartridges. "Destruction Hammer!"

The blonde teenager facing her grinned, her heterochromatic red and green eyes alight with the joy of battle. "Parisfal! Now!"

The vambrace on her upper right arm ratcheted up and down three times of its own, spitting out brass. The jeweled setting flickered royal blue.


Irresistible force met immovable object. The ultimate magical attack of the Iron Hammer Knight, Vita, collided with the ultimate magical defense of her student, Takamachi Vivio. The resulting explosion was deafening, a blaze of white light blotting out everything.

When the dust cleared, they lay at opposite ends of a thirty-foot crater blown in the training ground surface. Shaking her head to clear the cobwebs, Vivio tried to stand but a searing pain in her lower right leg made her sit back down.

"Oh, man," she groaned, then raised her voice. "Hey, Vita-sensei, can you give me a hand? I think I broke my tibia again."

"You're getting slack, kid. I keep telling you not to brace off your back foot like that when you're taking a hit that might get through."

"Sorry." It was a bad habit and she knew it.

"I'll be there in a sec."

Vita wobbled her way over.

"Can you pop my shoulders back in?"


"Hey, that shield of yours gives as good as it gets."

Vivio smiled at the compliment.

"Okay." Vita extended her arms; Vivio took them, braced her good foot in Vita's belly to hold her body in place, and yanked. There was an audible pop and both shoulder joints slipped back into place. That done, Vita helped Vivio stand up and let the taller girl put an arm around her for support.

"We," Vita summed it up, "are a mess." She smiled and added, "Nice fight, kid."

"Thanks, sensei." Vivio smiled back. They really were two of a kind, she thought, Belkan mage-knights and close-combat specialists, though their particular approaches to battle were almost mirror images. Vita came on like a relentless machine, crushing anything stupid enough to get in her way, while Vivio put herself in her enemy's path and let them shatter themselves on her shield walls. They'd been mentor and pupil for five years. Better than that, they were friends.

At the entrance to the training ground, they passed five white-shirted privates, there for their own morning training session, who watched them with stunned faces. Clearly they'd seen most of the mock battle on the monitor screens.

"Go get the car, willya?" Vita asked. "And call up Shamal and tell her she'll need to patch us up again?"

"Why me?"

"She'll give you less grief over it."

"All right."

Vita handed her Graf Eisen and Vivio hobbled off, using the warhammer as a makeshift cane.

" that the kind of thing we'll be learning, ma'am?" one of the braver recruits dared to ask.

Vita shook her head.

"Nah, I'm strictly the second string as a teacher. You'll be studying under Nanoha. She's way harder than I am, but she's the kid's mom, so she was afraid she'd pull her punches. Hey, Vivio, you building that car from scratch?"

"In a minute! You want to try driving a stick shift with a broken leg?"

"Sure, if they'd put the pedals where someone my size can reach."

A quarter of an hour later, a thirty-year-old brunette walked up to the training grounds, her white uniform shirt and blue skirt crisp and neatly pressed, a sunny smile on her face.

"Good morning!" she greeted her fresh class of recruits. "My name is Takamachi Nanoha, and I'm going to be the combat instructor for—" She broke off her speech, not wanting to talk over the screams the sound of her name had triggered, and surveyed the damage. Three students had fainted outright while the other two cringed in horror against the far wall. A rising acrid stench told Nanoha that a loss of bladder control had hit at least one, probably more. She hung her head and sighed.

"Mou, Vivio, do you have to do this to every new class?"

~X X X~

A/N: Just wait until she finds out what they did to the training ground! German translations again courtesy of my own brutal ignorance and Google.