2# - "Please Stop Hurting Me" are the Magical Words?

A reddish-pink hue filled the western horizon, as Hayate stepped outside, having announced she was having a smoke. No one really had the courage to point out that all of her attempts to do so inside had lead to her choking on the cigar-fumes, and dropping the cigar. But, nevertheless, if you defined 'eating a chocolate bar as fast as you can' as 'smoking', then, yes she was having a smoke.

"You forgot your coat," Reinforce said, stepping elegantly behind her to drape it over her shoulders, looking in the same direction. "And isn't it a little early for dawn? It's only 3am."

Hayate let out a squeak, and stuffed the wrapper in her pocket. And having done that, and settled her nerves, she sighed. "Reinforce? Dawn happens in the east, not the west."

"Oh." The woman's mouth made a little 'o' shape in the pink half-light. "I see."

"Yes. Nanoha's having fun." Hayate sighed again. "Contact the Ministry and inform them that they may need a cover-up story to explain some rather large craters."

"I'll have them prepare the old one about the crop-circles, mistress."


The fields were ablaze with light. And also ablaze with fire. Magical fire. Constable Subaru Nakajima could not admire the spectacle, of course, because a vampire had a death's grip – ha ha ha – around her throat, and was busy manhandling her around as a human shield.

You might wonder why there are all these characters with Japanese names in a fic nominally set in the United Kingdom. Well, it's a long and complicated story involving marsh gas reflecting off a swamp balloon in orbit around Venus, but as for the root cause... well, it may be the fault of the Nazis.

Just a hunch.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" a cheerful young female voice called out, from amidst the fire and the blasted apart bodies. "We need to talk this over! I'm sure that if you talk to me about why you're doing all this, I can help! There's no need to do all this!"

For some reason, the vampire did not believe her. People are so cynical these days.

"You... you can let me go," Subaru choked out. Sweat-soaked blue hair was in her eyes, and she could barely breathe. "Aren't... aren't you a man of God, father? What... what would..." she gasped as he squeezed.

"Stop blabbering," the priest hissed. "And as for a matter of fact, God is really more a symbolic representation of the innate wonders of the universe and Jesus is really more of a metaphor for the sacrifices and travails humanity must go through to confront the meaningless of the universe and so, through caring and hope, impose light and kindness on an amoral cosmos."

Subaru could say nothing with the hand around her throat, but the look in her eyes was one of confusion.

"Church of England," the undead priest explained casually. "Of course, now that I'm a vampire, fuck that! You and me are going to have fun, little girl, and then I'm going to turn you into one of my..."

"That's not very nice!" a voice stridently declared. Through the fire, a white-clad figure emerged, dress billowing in the heat.

"Stay back!" the vampire declared. "Or I'll kill you too!"

The newcomer's mouth twisted up into a little rosebud of annoyance. "Don't be silly," she said. "I just blew apart your entire horde of the living dead in a few minutes, and most of that was trying to practice my shot control at the same time. You're not very good at this whole 'master of the dying' thing, are you?"

The priest began to laugh. "Ah ha ha ha ha ha," he said, after he finished laughing. "That was just a fraction of my true power! Mere pawns! Disposable weaklings! My real forces were disguised as trees!" And indeed, the 'trees' threw aside their disguises. "Fire, my minions." And with a roar, the crackle of automatic fire opened up.

Yes, you might also have questions about how on earth a vampire priest managed to get hold of so many automatic weapons in the United Kingdom, considering its stringent gun control laws and the fact that he's obviously a rank amateur who hasn't been doing it for very long.


Slowly, the gun-smoke cleared. And the white-clad girl was revealed to be standing here. One of her sleeves was very slightly torn. "A very good try!" she said proudly. "I'll have to give you that one! Well done! One point to you."

She raised her staff, levelling it at the gun-wielding foliage.

And a few eventful seconds later, there wasn't very much left of the area of woodland. Or the top layer of soil. Or the stream which had been flowing through it.

"Come on, come on!" the girl – for she only looked to be around nineteen – demanded enthusiastically. "Where's the rest of your men! What's the next thing you're going to try?!"

The priest's mouth worked. "That... that was it..." he managed.

"Oh. Well, you're going to have to try better than that next time," she said sadly.

Subaru forced out a choking sound, which was ignored by all around.

"You're going to let me go?" the priest asked in disbelief.

"No, silly! You're going to just have to be born again! Or do Christians not believe in reincarnation? I don't really know; I just celebrate Christmas for the presents."

She levelled the blood-red gem-tipped staff – wait, was that jewel dripping blood? – at the priest, incidentally pointing straight through his hostage. "I gave you a chance to explain yourself," she said.

"Wait a moment!" the corrupted priest stammered, raising a hand. "You're... you're the Ace of Aces. Y-y-your weapon isn't lethal!"

Nanoha squinted at him, down the shaft of her weapon. "Are you sure?" she asked, her tone dubious. "That doesn't sound like something I'd do, does it, Raging Heart?"

"HΐΞΫεβϋ ǽųţaŧūž œġiĵļŏĦ!" profaned the blood-coloured crystal at the end of the staff. Around them, there was a cascade of thuds, as birds fell out of trees. They may have been sleeping; now they were dead.

"See!" Nanoha said, cheerfully. "I'm afraid I'm just going to have to shoot through her with the maximum possible yield to get you!"

"Wait, wha..." both Suburu and the priest managed, before they were interrupted by a "Divine Buster!" And, perhaps unsurprisingly, penetrated, perforated, punctured and pieced as well.

And then everything was silent.

Well, apart from the hiss of steam from the stranger's staff, the crackle of fire, the screams of the damned lesser vampire spawn running around on fire, the crackle of magic as the girl cut them down with casual shots, and of course Subaru Nakajima's moans of pain.

"Oh!" the white-clad girl said after a minute or two of staring casually up at the moon. "You're still alive! That normally never happens! And is that metal in you? Well, I suppose you were wearing a stab-vest, but they normally just get evaporated!"

"Your... big... pink... thing... went... into... me," the blue-haired girl muttered, staring up at the distant figure.

"Oh!" The stranger's hand went to her mouth. "I'm so sorry! You must be in so much pain! And you survived one of my Divine Buster's taking out one lung, your spine, pretty much your entire lower digestive track..."

"ЖЍģĭþõ °īĚkЩЉffi∏," contributed her curséd staff.

"That's right, Raising Heart! Her kidneys are gone for sure!"

"Hurts," rasped Subaru.

She felt the girl – monster, thing, horror, terror – clasp her hand. "I'm so very sorry! I meant to kill you painlessly and quickly!" the girl apologised. "But to survive so much like that... why, it's a sign you've got a rare skill. You really should be dead from shock or haemorrhage by now!"

She paused.

"I can save your life if you want to be my friend," she said, "but you have to make the choice. Because I wouldn't want you to regret it just because you said yes when you were in incredible agony from multiple ruptured organs!"

Subaru breathed deeply, although from certain points of view it wasn't really breathing as she didn't really have a diaphragm and so it was just the psychosomatic illusion caused by the diffusion of air through her ruined windpipe. But it felt like a deep breath to her dying mind, of course. Living. Living sounded good. Yes. And the girl... her strength, her power, her cheery demeanour and optimistic air... she sounded friendly.

It was probably a sign of incipient brain damage from oxygen deprivation which meant the blue-haired girl did not associate her 'saviour' with the person who had put her in this condition in the first place.

"Yes," she mouthed.

The last thing she saw was the white-clad girl leaning over her, head obscuring the full moon. And the last thing she heard was, for some reason, a mobile phone ringtone.

"Hold on, just give me a sec," the girl said, pausing in her descent. "Got to answer this."