Red Jewel Diaries
Chapter 1: Lip Service
Nanoha: "It was a small crisis, but compared to what we went through a couple of months ago, I think all of us prefer dealing with such small ones. And given my changing situation, I sometimes find it hard to cope with all the thoughts and feelings going through my head. Shamal suggested I keep a diary, thus here it is. And I think it's helping, especially after today's... misunderstandings. It all started when Shari's new android got loose...."
"Good morning, Shari," Suzuka told her teacher. "How are things coming?"
Shari straightened up, revealing the form in the chair and pausing the movie on the holo-screen. "Splendidly! Good thing you're here, I wanted to show you something."
Suzuka got a good look at the Juyo android sitting in the chair. She was beginning to look more and more feminine, having shoulder-length light-green hair, reddish-brown eyes, and dressed in a white jumpsuit. If Suzuka didn't know any better, she could swear Juyo was a human.
The senior tech tapped away at a control console. "Okay, Juyo, initiate program 1443."
Juyo closed her eyes, and then her body shimmered. When it was over, Suzuka was staring at a second Shari sitting in the chair. The junior tech's mouth opened.
"Impressive, isn't it?" Shari said, pleased. "I managed to partially activate the morphing capabilities. She can't copy abilities or personality yet, although I'm not sure I can get those parts working. For now, she just has the ability to look like someone else and mimic their voice."
Juyo shifted to look like Suzuka, then raised her hand to point at the holographic monitor. "Data processing interrupted. Please resume movie."
"You have her watching movies?" Suzuka asked, a bit unnerved at her double. She noticed the screen. "Isn't that the latest romance movie, Forgetting to Exhale?"
"She's been hungry for information," Shari explained. "So I fed her some direct data, but I've also been playing movies for her, to help her understand humans."
Suzuka raised her eyebrow. "A romance movie?"
Shari held her hands up in a defensive motion. "I liked it!"
A holograph screen opened near them, revealing Fate's face. "Shari, can you assist me with something? I'm working a case and I've got a database with tough encryption."
"I'll be right there," Shari told her, and Fate signed off. She sighed. "Well, can you keep an eye on Juyo for me for awhile? I have a list of stuff to show her if the movie ends before I'm back."
"Sure," the purple-haired girl told her as Shari left the room. She was still somewhat unnerved by Juyo's physical duplication of her. "So, how are you feeling?"
"Operation is continuing within normal parameters," Juyo told her, the tone being modulated slightly enough that it wasn't completely like a computer's. She blinked. "Would you explain the meaning behind the current on-screen action?"
Suzuka looked at the screen, blushing slightly. "That's called a kiss. It's um, well, humans do that to show they love each other."
"That seems illogical," Juyo replied. "What is this love? Would you initiate lip contact with me so I may assess this concept?"
The junior tech's face grew a bit more red, as with the current android's look, it would be like kissing herself. "Um, sorry, Juyo. It's... a bit complex to explain. You'll understand someday when you experience it. But I wouldn't worry about it for now." A meow sounded from outside the room. "Oops, if you'll excuse me for a moment, I need to give Whiskers a quick tune-up. I'll be right back!"
The android touched her lips with her hands, then blinked, contemplating.
"Okay, sorry that took so long," Suzuka said, coming back into the room. "But I suppose we can talk more about... Juyo?"
She looked around, growing increasingly distressed. The chair was empty, and the android was gone.
Blood drained from her face. "Shari is going to kill me...."
"Oh, Suzuka-chan!" Arisa called, waving as she spotted her friend approaching her in the hallway. "I've been meaning to talk to you."
She didn't really take note of the look in her friend's eyes as they neared each other, although in hind sight, she probably should have.
"I just got done teaching a martial arts class for today and I contacted Nanoha-chan," she told the other girl. "I thought we could have lunch toge-mmpph!" Arisa found her sentence cut off in a way she did not expect.
Suzuka had pulled the other girl's face down and pressed their lips together, the action causing Arisa's mind to short-circuit.
After a few moments, Arisa managed to overcome her shock and push away. "W-what are you...." Tears began to leak from her eyes. "That was my first... You... WAAAAAAH!"
Juyo blinked her eyes, watching in fascination as the girl with the short, blonde hair ran away, crying. Clearly that was not the same reaction from the humans she had seen on-screen. She wondered why her actions did not produce similar results. More research was deemed to be needed. Almost unconsciously, her form shifted to mimic the woman she had just encountered, as she resumed walking down the hallway.
Her meanderings eventually brought her to a door, which slid open at her presence. Inside, a pony-tailed female went through several punches and kicks, then picked up a towel to wipe her face. At the sound of the door opening, her face came up.
"Arisa-sensei?" Kaiser-form Vivio questioned. "Did you forget something? I was just working out a few moves before taking a shower. I'd like to ask you a few things after, okay?"
The Vivio girl disappeared through a door on the other side of the training room while Juyo stood there in her own doorway, her form unconsciously shifting again.
Suzuka ran down the hallways, wondering where the android could have gone, and what it was attempting to do. Regardless, she wasn't gone too long, so Juyo couldn't have gotten too far. If it was still carrying her own likeness, then someone ought to have seen it.
She turned a corner and crashed into someone, sending her down on her butt. She rubbed her head and cracked an eye open, to get a look at who she had run into.
"Arisa-chan?" Suzuka questioned, noting the tears in the other girl's eyes; was she hurt that bad their run-in? "Are you alright?"
Arisa opened her own eyes, staring in shock. "How could you... THAT WAS MY FIRST KISS!"
Suzuka stared in confusion as her friend ran away crying. What was going on?
"Vivio, I've come to pick you up today from your martial arts class today," Yuuno announced, coming down the hall towards her. "Why are you still in Kaiser form? You should change back to normal. Your mamas told you that you could only change when training, or in an emerg-mph!"
Yuuno froze in shock as Vivio locked lips with him.
"Yuuno, what are you doing?" Hayate asked in surprise, causing the stunned archaeologist to jump away from the girl.
He noted that Rein was floating there, staring at him as well, in addition to Auris and Mariel. The latter had her hand covering her open mouth. Apparently, the quartet had just come around the corner.
"Why was Yuuno kissing Nanoha's daughter?" Rein wondered aloud.
"N-no, it's a misunderstanding!" Yuuno protested, as 'Vivio' stepped back into the room, the door closing. "It wasn't my fault! Tell them... Vivio?"
Panicking, Yuuno entered the room, although it was empty. Seeing the room across on the other side, he realized Vivio must have disappeared through it, and he quickly crossed and opened it.
"Vivio, you need to tell them that-" he started, then trailed off as several women in various states of undress looked up at him. The screaming proceeded the tossing of objects by about half a second. "I'm sorry! It was a mista-OW!"
A large wash basin rang as it met his face, and the next thing he knew, he was looking up at 3.2 women staring down at him with various expressions ranging from disappointment to pity.
Only Rein seemed oddly gleeful. "Kissing Nanoha's daughter and then peeking at girls in the changing room... you're such a pervert, Yuuno!"
The archeologist groaned, wondering how he was going to explain this to Nanoha and Fate.
Juyo was growing more confused, as her body shifted forms again. This love thing was more difficult to comprehend than she expected. What was she missing? Perhaps more testing would reveal the unaccounted for variables.
She needed a new test subject.
Alto exited the hanger where the next golem transport was being constructed, and into the light of day, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her skin.
Now that it's existence was known, Mariel's group had transferred back to the city to continue their line of research on golems and the transport shuttles. With any luck, the next hover transport should be ready in a few days. Alto was really looking forward to piloting it again; the extra power gave her more of a thrill compared to helicopters.
She took a sip from her coffee as she turned a corner, noting the figure coming toward her. She recognized him instantly, having admired him him a bit from afar. It was one of the reasons she made the trips to the Infinity Library to borrow books on various ships.
"What brings you out this way?" she asked him as he came up to him, wondering what was with the strange focused look in his eyes. "Is there something I can help you with, Yuu-mph!"
Alto's cheeks flushed red, surprised as Yuuno kissed her, her coffee cup slipping from her hands. After a moment, he pulled back.
"Can you describe your emotional and mental state for me?" Yuuno asked.
"I-I, well, that is, um..." Alto started, fidgeting, dropping her head as her index fingers nervously circled each other. Working with machinery was one thing; flustered feelings were quite another. "I didn't expect this, I mean, I kinda thought you were cute when I saw you in the Library the first time, because I've really think a guy with glasses is rather handsome..."
"Hmm, interesting," Yuuno noted, his gaze focusing on something farther away.
Growing more embarrassed, and unable to meet his eyes, Alto turned toward the wall, her heart beating rapidly. "...and I never thought you'd go for someone like me, I mean, you didn't seem too interested when I saw you in the library and..." Her head finally came up. "...and well I'm glad that you... Yuuno?"
Alto looked left and right, but the cute librarian was gone. "Hmm, maybe he was just as shy and embarrassed as I was..." She slowly smiled, realizing that he must have been admiring her from afar, too. "That's it! He made his move, and now it's my turn! I think I'll ask him out."
She looked down at her faded jumpsuit. "But first, I should probably head home and change into something nicer...."
"Hayate!" Suzuka called, waving the other girl down as she ran across the pavement outside to catch up to the group.
Hayate nodded to her two companions who kept walking while she stopped. "Suzuka-chan? What's the matter?"
The junior technician fidgeted. "Um, this may seem like a silly question, but have you seen me at all today? Or you, Rein?"
"You're right, that is a silly question," Hayate replied, confused. "I can't say that I have."
Rein thought hard, then shook her head. "Me, either. Hayate and I have been been in meetings all morning." She grinned. "Although we did catch Yuuno kissing-mph!"
Hayate exhaled in relief as she covered Rein's mouth in time. "Um, just ignore her."
Suzuka had a sudden dreadful thought, remembering something Arisa had said. "Kissing? It couldn't be..."
"Suzuka-chan?" Hayate questioned. "Is something going on?"
The purple-haired technician sighed, thinking that she probably should tell someone; she might not be able to handle this herself. "Well, I'm not sure, but I think it's like this...."
"Okay, Storm Raider, what do ya we do a quick inspection and tune-up before we have to head out?" Vice asked, bring out his dog-tags.
"Sounds good to me," his device chirped.
He was heading toward his golem, currently undergoing maintenance and upgrades in Marial's hanger. They had been adding a few extra offensive and defensive subsystems to compliment the long-range rifle, and he came by regularly to check up on progress, and keep Storm Raider attuned to the changes, occasionally running tests. He paused, admiring the golem, almost not noting the figure coming up beside him.
"Oh, hey, Alto, didn't know you were still here," Vice said, turning to see who it was. "She's a real beauty, isn't s-mph!"
"Well, I was in the area and decided to come by and see how you were doing," Signum noted. "But I can see you are doing just fine."
She turned and began to walk out of the hanger, while Vice was still lip-locked to Alto. The pilot/sniper quickly broke away, chasing after the Belkan knight. Unbeknownst to them, Alto's form shifted behind them into Vice's form.
"Hey wait, this isn't what you think!" he called desperately.
"Apparently it isn't," Signum replied, continuing to walk. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."
Vice sighed. "Come on, give me a chance, here..."
"Is something bothering you, Yuuno-papa?" Vivio asked, noting that her guardian seemed a little edgy as they walked home along the sidewalk.
"W-what makes you say that?" Yuuno responded as her question broke him out of his train of thought. Despite all the battle simulations Alicia was helping him run in his head, every one of them ended with him on the bad side of a Starlight Breaker.
She took his hand and patted it, smiling. "Oh, you weren't sayin' much. But don't worry, whatever it is, I can help make it better!"
Yuuno swallowed, pausing and kneeling down. "Listen, before we get home, we should talk about-"
"Yuuno!" Hayate called.
He looked up to see Hayate, Suzuka, and Rein coming towards him. "Hayate? What's wrong? If this is about earlier, I can explain... I think...." He paused, noting how the three took up positions around him and Vivio.
"Suzuka, is it her?" Hayate asked, as the junior technician placed her hands on Vivio's shoulders.
She shook her head. "No, this is really Vivio."
Alicia flickered into view. "Perhaps you better explain what is going on."
"We'll explain on the way," Hayate told him. "Rein, take Vivio home, then join us back on the base. Odds are, it's still there. Yuuno, you come with us, as we may need your help."
Juyo had accumulated a decent data set, but was still unable to formulate a theory as to this thing called "love." Lip contact failed to initiate the response dictated in the documentary on human courting rituals. She concluded that there must be some missing factors. But what?
With that thought in mind, she had decided to put this "kissing" on hold for the moment, and gather more data through passive observation. Perhaps examination of humans in the natural act could help shed some light on this mystery.
Which was ultimately why she was now walking down a sidewalk in the city. She had pulled up maps and various data files that many humans could be found in this area, but so far, she hadn't seen any kissing or love taking place.
She paused, looking up at a banner above a storefront. It contained a pair of hearts and the words "Love-Love Club" above. Perhaps she could gain some clue here.
Inside was a variety of strange implements and products that she couldn't identify. Just what did things in here have to do with love? As she passed a bookshelf, a title stood out and she picked up the book, entitled "The Secrets to Successful Love Making" and quickly flipped through it's pages, rapidly assimilating all the information.
Apparently, there was much more than kissing involved in love....
Arisa sat on her bed, trying to still her jumbled thoughts. [Calm yourself, Arisa, you're over that now. It was just a k-kiss. Who cares if it was your first one? It just came from your best friend, so it really doesn't count, even though...]
She slapped her cheeks again. "Those days are over. I may have had a bit of a romantic two-girl friendship with Suzuka in middle school, but that just was a harmless thing and not at all improper and it's over now!
Arisa took a deep breath. "Suzuka must have just been playing a joke on me, that's right. It doesn't mean anything, I really don't have feelings *that* way for her. Which means she doesn't have those feelings for me, either. It was a joke, that's it. Just a joke."
Her eyes narrowed, becoming fierce, as she began to cackle. [And it's dangerous to play such a joke on me, Suzuka Tsukimura!]
Teana bumped into someone as they came out of a door. "Oops, sorry, excu... Vice?" She backed up a bit and noted the store he had come out of, cheeks reddening as she realized what type of store it was. "Um, I'll just pretend I didn't notice this. I need to get going anyway, seeya!"
Juyo watched the orange-haired girl run away, her form shifting to mimic it. She had planned on testing her latest research on that specimen, but it got away too fast. However, the book had recommended finding a romantic spot before initiating activities, so she searched her memory banks, coming up with the name of popular park nearby. Apparently, parks were a favorite spot for couples in love.
She turned and began walking down the way the other girl had come.
"So let me get this straight," Yuuno said as they ran. "Shari made a form-shifting robot that's currently going around kissing people?"
"I-I think so," Suzuka replied timidly as the pair ran, searching. "It's really harmless, though! I think she's just confused and is seeking information!"
"Attention all base personnel," came Hayate's voice through the speakers throughout the complex. "There is currently a human-looking robot roaming the premises. While mostly harmless, it is imperative that we retrieve and deactivate it asap. It can look like anyone it has encountered, but not the personality, so you should be able to identify it fairly easily. It is mostly harmless, but it might attempt to... kiss people. And no, that's not a joke."
Suzuka whimpered; she had wanted to handle her mistake quietly. It seemed like a simple matter: find Juyo and get her back in the lab before Shari or anyone noticed. She didn't want this to get so out-of-hand.
A view screen popped up. "Suzuka, what's going on?"
"Shari!" Suzuka exclaimed nervously, startled. "Um, I'm sorry, but I kinda... lost... Juyo.... But she's somewhere on the base, we just don't where!"
Shari raised an eyebrow as Fate looked up from the background. "Lost? Why didn't you use the tracking function to find her?"
The running pair froze, as Yuuno pointedly looked at Suzuka and asked, "Yes, why didn't we use the tracking function?"
The junior technician sweated nervously. "There was a tracking function?"
Shari sighed. "I'm going to send the frequency and specifics to you and Hayate. Just try to bring her back in one piece. Juyo shouldn't be too dangerous, as most of her combat functions have been disabled; she just has her increased android strength. And she should only respond aggressively in self-defense. I'll be by in a bit to help with the search and recovery."
"Understood, I promise I'll find her and bring her back in one piece!" Suzuka told her teacher confidently, as Shari signed off.
"Well, that should be a bit of relief," Yuuno offered, patting the fraught girl on the shoulder. "There's very little chance of the android hurting people, then."
Suzuka tapped away at a holo-screen, trying to initiate a scan of the base using the frequency Shari sent her. "What do you mean?"
He shrugged. "Well, how many people would have the strength to threaten an android?"
"Tea, over here!" Subaru called, waving from the grassy knoll among the trees and bushes. "I found a great spot for lunch. We have a great view of the city from here."
The orange-haired girl came up to her, looking all around as if studying the area.
"Aw, you were supposed to get those special drinks we liked, while I picked up the food," Subaru complained, noting her friend's empty hands. "We're they closed or something? Tea? Is something wr-mph!"
She suddenly found herself in Tea's arms, lips against hers, in a kiss she had only felt in her dreams. And then Tea's hands began to roam.
"So that wasn't Vice I saw?" the real Teana asked Hayate in the view screen as she ran.
"Probably not, as we've confirmed Vice is still on base and the signal is coming from the city now," Hayate replied. "Approximate location is a park near where you last saw him."
"Subaru should be there!" Teana realized aloud. "Could she be in danger?"
"We don't know, but we can't reach her for some reason," Hayate told her. "Although Shari says the android may be putting out a low energy field that might interrupt communication channels, but that should only happen if she's in extreme close range. Remember, if you find it, just try to track it. I'm flying out with a few others and we'll handle containment."
Teana's eyes narrowed, and she activated her barrier jacket. "Roger, I'm almost to the park."
At first, Juyo felt felt like she had achieved success; the subject was responding very well. But then something strange was happening; the subject's grip was increasing in strength. Structural integrity would soon be compromised if she didn't manage to free herself.
"Mmmmm, Tea..." Subaru purred.
Self-defense programs triggered and Juyo's strength increased. With a mighty shove, she managed to free herself, pushing the subject backwards into some bushes. Escape protocols activated next, and she quickly fled the scene.
A moment later, the real Teana came running up the small slope, recognizing a pair of legs sticking from some bushes.
"Subaru, are you alright?" she asked, leaning over to get a good look at her friend. Why wasn't she moving? Although she appeared to breathing, so that was good.
A hand shot out and grabbed her wrist.
"Subaru?" Tea questioned again. "What are-eep!" She found herself pulled in. "Subaru!? Wait, what are you-mmppphhh!!!???"
"This is Sergeant Bennings," came the call. "I am overhead the location in a helicopter. There are two individuals below, engaged in something like a wrestling match. I believe one of them could be the shape-shifting robot we've been searching for, and the other may be attempting to capture it. Relaying footage."
"Roger that, Sergeant," came Hayate's response. "Just observe; our helicopter is almost there."
"Um, Sergeant, are you sure that's wrestling?" co-pilot Lt. Tuttle asked, looking through some binoculars.
Hayate, Yuuno, Vice, Suzuka, and Shari stared at the video they were being sent.
"Um, are you sure one of them is our android?" Hayate asked.
Shari double-checked her readings. "Actually, it appears the unit has left the park, proceeding eastwards."
Hayate hit her communicator again. "Um, Sergeant, the target is actually heading out of the park to the east, please follow it. Relaying the tracking data."
Suzuka reached out and shut off the video. "I think we've watched enough of that...."
"Oh, um yeah," Yuuno said, while Vice coughed from the front seat. "Is there anyone else in range who can intercept?"
Suzuka double-checked her readings. "Maybe...."
Nanoha took her time, doing a bit of window shopping as she headed home. She still felt like buying something, but couldn't decide on what. As she reached the next window, the breath caught in her chest momentarily. It was a wedding shop, showcasing numerous clothing outfits from various world, used in marriage ceremonies. For a moment, her thoughts trailed off, then realized she was being watched.
"Oh, hello there, Subaru," Nanoha said, smiling. "What brings you by here?"
"This is Teana, we're on our way," the agent groused, looking angrily back at the girl trailing behind her.
"I said I was sorry," Subaru offered meekly, rubbing the multiple bumps on her head. "I really thought it was you...."
"THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT ANY BETTER!" Teana yelled back, her face red, whether from anger or something else, Subaru couldn't tell.
"Subaru?" Nanoha questioned as the girl, and the sound of helicopters, came closer "What's wrong? Is something on your mind?"
The blue-haired girl suddenly grabbed her in a hug, and Nanoha hugged back. And then she found her lips captured.
"Restrict Lock," Raging heart chirped, pink bonds of force shooting up from the ground to entangle Subaru, who tried to break free.
Nanoha pulled her lips away, but continued to hold the girl. "It's alright, no one is going to hurt you. But you can drop the disguise; I would like to see the real you."
Juyo ceased struggling and looked up at Nanoha, blinking, as her form reverted to normal. The two helicopters showed up overhead, Hayate and Yuuno flying Shari and Suzuka down, respectively, while Teana and the real Subaru rounded a corner.
"You're actually quite pretty," Nanoha commented, smiling, then looked up. "I got your telepathic message, Suzuka-chan. She's undamaged."
"Telepathic message?" Yuuno questioned.
"Suzuka told me all about Juyo just a short time ago so I hopped ahead into her path," Nanoha replied. "She stressed that Juyo meant no harm, and was just seeking answers, and if I could stop her without damaging her."
Nanoha released the bind as Shari came up behind Juyo and activated her off switch, gently lowering the android to the ground.
"Well, we got her back in one piece, and no one got hurt," Hayate noted with relief. "And Suzuka has learned something, so all's well that ends well."
Yuuno suddenly found an envelope thrust in his face. "What-?"
"I'm returning your feelings!" Alto said, her head bowed and arms outstretched, in a rare appearance wearing regular clothes and not her jumpsuit. "Would you like to go out on a date with me?"
"Yuuno-kun, what is she talking about?" Nanoha asked, eyes narrowing.
The befuddled young man looked back and forth frantically, from Nanoha to Alto. "I-I don't know wha-!"
"SUZUKA!" came a fierce female call, interrupting him. "I finally found you!"
The purple-haired girl turned along with everyone else, as a short blonde-haired girl strode up to her. "Arisa-chan? What is it?"
"I've got something for you!" Arisa told her, striding up with an evil grin on her face.
In the next moment, Suzuka found herself attacked, her eyes widening in surprise and her cheeks turning beet red, while everyone else stared in shock.
Subaru whistled, taking notes. "Now that's what I call a kiss!"
"You sure we got the right kissing robot?" Teana asked Shari.
Arisa finally released the other girl and triumphantly crossed her arms over her chest. "Payback for what you did to me!"
"Um, actually, Arisa-chan, if it's what I think it is, I'm not sure Suzuka is responsible," Hayate offered.
"Huh?" Arisa replied. "She kissed me first, earlier today as a joke."
As the situation was explained to her, color slowly drained from her face. Afterwards, the pained cry could be heard for miles.
And so begins a sort of continuation to Crisis. As opposed to that, however, this will be a series of shorts, focusing on different characters and situations; more episodic in nature. There is no particular "end" in mind, just an open-ended journey exploring the lives of the cast. Not everything will be humor, as each chapter will have it's own feel to it. Currently I have 3 more chapters plotted:
Heritage - detective drama: Fate goes searching for clues to her past, when she finally opens up the envelope Shamal gave her.
Family - Nanoha, Fate, and Yuuno are confronted with questions about their situation, while Yuuno takes Vivio's class on a field trip.
Allies - Quattro, Tre, and Sette return, and get a chance to earn the trust of the Bureau as they investigate a lunar lab that was working on some secret research. A bit more of an action/survivalists drama.
I have some vague ideas for more that I'll develop later, but if someone has a particular plot in mind they'd like to see, or which characters you'd like to see more of, I do take suggestions. Oh, and if you're wondering about "romantic two-girl friendship," I suggest you look up in tvtropes. There's in an interesting link there to "class S" as well. =)