This is a special "extra" chapter, hence the name. It's not part of the main storyline, but goes to explain certain things about Arisa. You could think of it as one of the special features of the DVD release of the main story. It's better than a textless opening theme, at least, even if it's more omake-ish than otherwise. And it should clear up some of the technical details.
The table slid out with a soft humming sound, carrying Arisa Bannings out of the tubelike structure. It looked something like an MRI chamber, but she knew that it was actually some piece of Midchildan medical technology.
Shamal was waiting for her, that perky smile on her face that they seemed to teach in medical school.
"So what's the verdict, doctor?" Arisa quipped. "Will I live?"
Everyone else in the room--Suzuka, Hayate, Nanoha, Fate, Arf, and Reinforce Zwei--groaned loudly.
"Arisa-chan, we know that becoming a ghost would probably make perverse and unnatural changes to your mental state, but did it have to be your sense of humor?"
"Well, you're the expert on perverse and unnatural, Hayate," Arisa teased, sitting up.
"Hey, you're the one who said you wanted Shamal to give you a thorough examination."
"You know, I'd have been happy to do that for you if you asked, Arisa," Suzuka said with a fake pout.
"I've got a nurse costume that would just fit you, Suzuka," Hayate chimed in.
"Really? Could I borrow it this weekend?"
Arisa looked from her girlfriend to Hayate and back again.
"You two are way too much alike for comfort."
"Is anyone," Shamal spoke up in a deceptively mild voice, "interested in the test results, or would you prefer to keep chattering?"
"I'd like to know!" Rein said, raising her hand. Everyone else was wisely keeping their chattering mouths shut.
"Well, as far as I can deduce, what happened when you died, Arisa, is that your body spontaneously expressed a Linker Core."
"It's what we mages have," Fate explained, "that lets us connect to our stored mana and convert it into effects in the real world--what we call spells."
"Wait--so I'm a mage now?"
Shamal shook her head.
"Not exactly. It seems that when you died, your Linker Core used your existing mana to construct an alternative body for you, a mana-based existence. Remember that the body itself was clinically dead and impossible to reanimate even for magic, at least so far as we know. The process is not entirely different from when the Book of Darkness's defense program absorbed Fate during their battle. Probably the closest analogy I can come up with to describe your present existence is that you're like what I was when we Wolkenritter were still part of the Guardian Knight program within the Book."
"You had physical bodies, though, even then," Hayate said. "You had hearts that beat and you breathed air--"
Shamal nodded, cutting her off.
"That's true, Mistress. That's because we were projected by an extraordinarily powerful Lost Logia. When Reinforce granted us an autonomous existence, she was able to replicate that. Arisa exists autonomously, but without the raw power of the Tome of the Night Sky, she only expresses a magical existence, not a physical one. That is why magic damage is quite lethal to her. If her magical energy is depleted by magic-damage attacks, there's nothing left behind to restore it."
"You'd better take it easy if you're teaching her how to fight," Rein said, quite seriously, to Nanoha.
"C'mon, I'm not that bad..."
Ignoring the aside, Shamal turned to Arisa.
"Do you understand what I mean? If you were to, for example, pick up this pen, you wouldn't actually be picking it up. You'd instead be exerting a magical force to move it around. That force conforms to what was the shape of your body, largely as a mental shortcut for you. Having a template, you see, makes the various processes of your existence run more efficiently."
"So if I practice, then I might be able to pick stuff up from across the room without touching it?"
"Probably not. You'd be able to learn matter-manipulation spells, but extending the effects of your force beyond the bounds of the template by will alone would be very difficult and extremely draining. It's the same reason why you can make certain cosmetic alterations in your appearance--clothing and so on--but not completely shape-shift or create items that can be separated from yourself."
"Oh, too bad," Suzuka said.
"I don't want to know what you were thinking," Arisa groaned.
"I do!" Hayate chirped. "Tell me later?"
"Nyahaha...I think Arisa-chan is going to be in for an interesting time of it."
"I have a question," Arf spoke up, much to Arisa's gratitude. "How is it that she doesn't show up on security cameras and stuff?"
"Oh, that's easy enough. As I said, she doesn't have a physical existence, and the mana construct that is her 'body' doesn't interact with visible light, or even into the infrared or ultraviolet spectrum. So she doesn't cast a reflection, or have a shadow, or show up on camera."
"So how can we see her?"
"Because she's constantly projecting a low-grade telepathic image of her existence perceptible by anyone within range around her. It's a field effect, not targeted to specific minds, so that any living creature who enters the field can perceive her."
"And artificial intelligences, too!" Rein noted.
"That's me, a walking Turing test," Arisa said. "Hey, wait, how come Falin could see me at Lindy's, when she used that laptop to communicate through?"
"She couldn't," Suzuka said. "She could hear, though, because when you talk you do really speak. Right, Shamal?"
"That's right; she moves the air to create the vibrations that create the sound of speech."
"This is all so weird," Arisa said. "It sounds to me like Morris grabbed the wrong test subject."
"So why me? I mean, why not him, for instance? Or those goons who tried to kidnap Suzuka? What makes me special?"
That question didn't have so many easy answers, it seemed.
"I...honestly don't know," Shamal finally admitted.
"There's a lot we don't know, despite all of our technology," Fate observed. "The processes by which past civilizations created Lost Logia, and all new things that people won't discover until the future. Many things about magic can still be described as 'occult' or 'supernatural' from our point of view."
"We were pulled into that barrier together during the Book of Darkness incident," Suzuka said. "Maybe it was because of your potential to become a ghost that you were taken, too."
"I have a better question," Hayate contributed.
"34C," Suzuka answered.
"Hayate!" Arisa wondered if she or Fate had the redder face. Everyone else was more of an orange shade in the light cast by Arisa's suddenly flame-wreathed body.
"Geez, that wasn't the question, honestly!" Hayate protested.
"I'm sorry, Arisa," Suzuka said, looking down. "I shouldn't have gone so far..."
"I--" Wait a minute; she mouthed off, so why do I suddenly feel guilty? Being in love really screws with your head!
"Maybe we could all just take it easy with teasing Arisa-chan until we're done?" Nanoha suggested. "Shamal's doing a big favor for her, for all of us, and we're not helping things."
"Sorry, Arisa-chan, Shamal. It's mostly my fault, I know." Hayate sounded genuinely contrite. "I'll be serious."
"What was your question, Mistress?" Shamal asked.
"Well..." Hayate tapped her fingers together nervously. "It's just...when a mage uses her magic, her body naturally restores her Linker Core as part of the process of rest and healing. But Arisa doesn't have a body, and the way you explain it, everything she does in just existing takes magic, and..."
"How is it that I'm still here instead of going poof?" Arisa finished for her.
"Well, yes, essentially."
Shamal smiled, a bit of an unusual response under the circumstances.
"Suzuka, since you started dating Arisa, have you been drinking blood more often than usual?"
This time it was her turn to blush.
"Yes," she said shyly.
"Congratulations, you two really are perfect for each other!" Shamal said brightly.
"I don't understand," Arisa said.
"I get it!" Nanoha said excitedly. "It's like in ghost stories where a man has a ghost lover, but he starts to get sick the longer it goes on because she's draining his life force!"
"Wait...you don't mean..."
Suzuka's eyes widened, her blush starting to fade.
"Yes, I do," Shamal said. "You're taking mana from her in the same way that a familiar draws mana from its master; there's that kind of bond between you, probably enhanced by intimate contact, except that unlike a familiar you're the dominant party, controlling the bond. If Suzuka was an ordinary non-mage, then it very likely would make her sick, just like in the stories Nanoha mentioned. But because Suzuka is a vampire, her physiology already has a way to replenish the stolen energy."
"I'm so glad!" Suzuka exclaimed. She was smiling, now; her face looked almost radiant.
"Glad!" Arisa exclaimed. "She basically just said I'm sucking away your life to preserve my own!"
"I know! It means...it means that I can make it up to you. I mean, I'm the reason you're like this, but now I can help save your life." She clasped Arisa's hands in hers. "Thank you so much, Shamal; the only time I've been this happy is when Arisa first said that she loved me."
There had been about eight things wrong with all that, starting with the assumption that Suzuka had anything to apologize or make up for. But Arisa was learning; regardless of how mistaken her beloved was, this wasn't the time or place for that fight.
She shook her head.
"Nothing. I'm glad that it makes you happy."
Arisa pulled Suzuka close and let the other girl nestle her face into the crook of her neck, then stroked her long, violet hair.
"Can you come over this evening?" Suzuka murmured, audible only because her lips were so close to Arisa's ear. "I'd like to thank you by making a special dinner."
Arisa's hand paused in mid-stroke.
"Dinner? But I don't eat, and--"
None of them said a word, until Arisa broke into a blush, realizing what Suzuka had meant--and that, moreover, while Suzuka had said her double-entendre for Arisa's ears alone, Arisa had used a normal speaking voice. Arf, Shamal, and the Three Aces dissolved into helpless laughter.
"Arisa, I'm sorry!" Suzuka--not laughing--said at once. "I wasn't trying to embarrass you!"
Arisa grinned sheepishly and traced her fingers down the line of Suzuka's cheekbone.
"I know. I can't get mad when I go and tease myself now, can I? Besides," she added, "I love you."
And since she figured she couldn't much more embarrassed anyway, Arisa took the chance to capture Suzuka's lips in a deep, loving kiss.
A/N: Just for clarity, when Shamal speaks of the Book of Darkness, she means the corrupted Lost Logia as a whole. When she speaks of Reinforce, she means the AI that is the book's Administration Program, either independently or when Reinforce controls the entire book. Rein Ein was a friend, while the Book was a millstone around all their necks, and neither she nor the other Wolkenritter nor Hayate would confuse the two.