A/N: So after some more thought (see my profile page for information), I've decided to restart Green Struggle. I've cleaned up the spelling the best I can, re-did the format, and added a few additional scenes and lines.
A reminder: this takes place nearly six months after the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's in MGLN terms. In the Tiberiumverse, this fic starts the day before the beginning of the Third Tiberium War.
Disclaimer: I do not own Command & Conquer (although it would be sweet if I did, Joseph Kucan was pretty much born to play Kane) nor do I own Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (although if I did, enough with the ambiguousness! Fate and Nanoha, make it official already!).
Date Irrelevant, Indescribable Location…
Space and time did not exist here, nor did any concept of what we could call 'being'. Each universe was its own, the incomprehensible voidless void between them impassible. And each Universe was different, very different. Some Universes had multiple versions of themselves, others only one. Some universes featured entire galaxies; others had only one isolated world. In some, there existed creatures that an ordinary person would call gods and people with fantastic abilities while others featured vast-hordes of impossibly advanced armies, which left entire worlds devastated in their wake.
But, our story only concerns with two particular universes… two specific places in this void that was filled with contradiction and incomprehensibility. And it was because of that contradictory nature that this spaceless space would unfold our story. A sudden anomaly occurred, an anomaly even by the terms of this impossible place. It lasted microseconds in both verses and barely affected the first universe of our story… the effects on the second would be far more profound.
And so our tale begins…
Unknown Date, Unknown Location…
Nanoha Takamachi's eye blinked, once, twice, three times.
'What… what happened?' The obvious thought ran through her mind. She struggled to remember… she was doing a little practice magic with Fate outside of transformation and then… and then she was here, lying on her back.
Hold on… where was here?
Nanoha immediately sat up and looked around at the empty cracked desert plain she now found herself on. It seemed to go on for miles and miles, broken only by the occasional small hill. It took another moment for her to realize that the surface she was sitting on wasn't just dirt. Peering closely at the surface, Nanoha recognized faded traffic lines and decaying cement. She was on a highway?
Wait… what about…
"Raising Heart?" Nanoha said, reaching up too her shirt in alarm.
"I am here, my master." Was the cool reply, Nanoha allowed herself to breathe a little easier as she pulled the red device on the end of her necklace from her school shirt.
"Do you know where Fate is?" Nanoha asked. Before the device could answer, a familiar groan came from off to the left.
"Did someone catch that buses license plate number?" Fate Testarossa said groggily, sitting up while rubbing her head. It took a moment for her to realize that she was not where she was supposed to be.
"Fate! Are you alright?!" Nanoha asked, even more relieved that her friend was still with her turning too her friend.
"Nanoha… uh, yes. I am fine, I just have a bit of a headache. Bardiche?"
"Here, sir." Was the natural reply from Fate's own device.
"Thank goodness." Fate said, and only then did she began to take in their surroundings. "Uh… Nanoha, where are we?"
The two ten year old girls turned their attention to their surroundings… which as previously noted, consisted of dry desert landscape broken only by small hills and the apparently well-decayed highway the two found themselves on. There was only one thing for Nanoha to say in such a situation: "Uh… lost apparently."
Fate stood up after a moment's silence, followed by Nanoha. Another pause as they took a closer look at their surroundings, looking for any details they might have missed earlier. After finding none, Fate sighed, "I think we should contact the Bureau… Bardiche?"
"Connecting… ERROR! No connection found!" Both girls gave an alarmed 'eh' at Bardiche's sardonic reply. Fate shook her head for a moment, trying to figure everything out while Nanoha tried to call the TSAB's HQ on Raising Heart, just to be sure.
"No signal found." Was the stoic reply, "I'm sorry, my master."
Nanoha sighed, "It's okay…"
"I think we're in an unexplored dimension that… probably one that's too far away from one of the Bureau's transmitters." Fate speculated, "Although… that would have to be very far away."
"How far?" Nanoha asked nervously, not sure she wanted to hear the answer.
"At minimum? Several months." Fate replied, "We better get moving, this road indicates that there is civilization here… or maybe, was civilization here. It looks pretty rundown, but if there is anybody here the road should lead us there… eventually."
"Should we fly?" Nanoha asked, "We could cover more ground…"
Fate thought about it, then shook her head, "No, we have no idea how anybody who saw us would react. If we don't find anything," A glance at her watch, which was thankfully functional, "by one, we'll fly."
"Okay…" Nanoha said, glancing down both ways the highway ran. One ran northwest before veering off straight North and the other ran straight south. They had a 50-50 choice here. "North or South?"
"North…" Fate said, "I think we're in the Northern Hemisphere of the planet, so going north would give us a better chance of finding a more temperate climate."
Fate abruptly became aware of Nanoha staring at her strangely and took a few more moments too realize why, "Uh… I'm studying to become an Enforcer, remember? We have to know survival skills like that. When you join the TSAB, you'll have to do the same."
"Oh…" Nanoha said, slightly embarrassed, "Well, at least you'll be able to help me study."
Fate laughed as they got under way, "I suppose that's one way of putting it."
They walked for three hours, the temperature increasing dramatically as the day wore on and the sun grew higher in the sky. They passed a few stumps of metal on the side of the road that indicated that there had been signs along the highway, but little other indication of civilization. The school uniforms the two were wearing did not fit for this environment and it did not take long for the pair to start sweating.
"Fate…" Nanoha groaned, slightly more tired than her partner and lagging a bit behind, "I'm really thirsty!"
Fate gave a tired smile back and was about to rebuke Nanoha when she thought she saw a building being too loom in the distance. Instead she said, "Don't worry Nanoha, I think I see something up ahead."
Nanoha blinked a few times before also spotting the building. "Thank god! I was beginning to think I would sweat to death."
Five minutes later, they walked up to an obviously abandoned gas station, the big sign that normally displayed gas prices was toppled and it's writing long gone. Some graffiti dotted the side of the building and its front display windows were smashed open, but it was otherwise quite intact.
"Hello?" Nanoha called into the structure cautiously. The only answer she received was the wind, and the two girls stepped through the door, dirty glass crunching under their shoes. The store was largely cleaned out, but there were still items remaining. Fate spotted a dirty knapsack on one of the shelves and grabbed it.
"FATE!" Nanoha said, shocked that her polite friend would resort to stealing.
"I don't think anybody owns it…" Fate reasoned, adding: "Plus, we're going to need it to carry supplies."
She began to walk over to an aisle which she thought some canned food goods were still laying on, glancing over her back, she told Nanoha, "See if you can find a map, we might be able to figure out where we are."
Nanoha blinked, thought about it for a moment, than nodded her affirmation, and began to look around herself. Fate actually found a surprising number of unopened canned beans left, although she could tell right off the bat the brand names weren't Japanese nor native Mid-Childan, she knew the language though, it was from Nanoha's homeworld.
"FATE!" Nanoha's excited voice drifted from the other side of the shop, "I think I found a map of the area!"
Fate hastily shoved a few more cans into the bag, before racing over too where Nanoha was. The map was a stand one and quite faded, so much so that the names of most of the places were unrecognizable.
"The nearest town is here…" Nanoha said, indicating a dot with a barely legible name due to fading, pronouncing it well with her English skills (Arisa had been a surprisingly good tutor), "Dahlonega."
Fate studied the map, and then looked up and out the shops front, then repeated the process a few more times. "If I am reading this right, that town should be over just over those two hills to the West."
"That's good…" Nanoha breathed, "Can we rest first?"
Fate considered it, they had a lot of time before sunset and it was cooler here in the shade then out in the sun. But it was still rather hot and they had not found a source of water yet, plus those hills were not steep, but they were rather big. Still, better to catch their breath and reduce the likelihood of heatstroke, "Alright, we'll take a fifteen minute break."
With a slight 'whew', Nanoha sat down on the floor, followed by Fate.
"Hey… Nanoha…" Fate said quietly. When Nanoha made an inquisitive sound, Fate continued, "What… what do you think happened here?"
"What do you mean?" Nanoha asked, not quite getting it.
Fate gestured to the highway they had been walking down, "On Mid-Childa, highways that sizes don't fade out like that. They are either repaired constantly or torn-up and replaced with buildings or parks."
Nanoha glanced out, seeing what Fate was saying, "They do the same in Japan and America too. The landscape though…" She hesitated a moment before continuing on. "Miyuki once showed me a scene from the beginning of a movie that was made back in the 1980's… ah, 30 years ago. Back then, everybody was afraid there would be a nuclear war between the Soviets and the Americans. The movie was supposed to take place after that war."
Another pause, then: "The landscape of that movie looked a lot like this."
Fate turned to Nanoha in alarm, the idea of being on a post-nuclear world was not a very pleasant thought. But Nanoha was able to head her alarm off, "I'm not saying it's what happened… it's just what it reminds me of. Maybe something completely different happened, like an asteroid or a drought forced everybody to move away."
Fate took a breath while collecting her thoughts, "Alright…" She said, still something Nanoha had said had sparked her curiosity. "What ultimately happened? Between the, uh, the Soviets and the Americans I mean?"
It was times like this that Nanoha was reminded that Fate was, technically speaking, an alien from another dimension, so she did not have the same knowledge of Earth's history. "The Soviet Union fell apart and their legal successor, the Russian Federation, made peace with the Americans. Both sides have largely disarmed by now, although they still keep small stockpiles in storage."
"I see…" Fate said, looking even more relieved. That piqued Nanoha's curiosity…
"Why did you ask?" Nanoha said.
"On Mid-Childa, there was a nuclear war about 150 years ago. It's what caused the creation of the Bureau in the first place." Fate said nervously, "They are… sort of scared when it comes to the issue of nuclear-type weaponry these days. That is one of the reasons we have not made contact with Earth's government."
"Oh…" Nanoha replied, "Well on Earth, Japan is the only nation to have ever had nuclear weapons used against it. So we generally support disarmament."
"I see." Fate said. The conversation about the two worlds history had been interesting, but a glance at her watch told Fate that fifteen minutes had passed. "Alright, we should go."
"Okay…" Nanoha said, getting to her feet. "Did you find any water?"
Fate shook her head, "Nothing that is safe to drink. Maybe we'll have better luck at the town."
Nanoha didn't complain for once.
Roughly two hours later, one o'clock, they crested the second hill and looked down on the town of Dahlonega… or what was left of it.
"Oh my god." Nanoha said. She could see a space where several concrete structures stood in a little grouping, quite abandoned. There was another, smaller group of concrete buildings a ways further north; obviously where the town center had been given the road lay out. But those structures were surrounded by the ruins of brick and mortar buildings that had apparently collapsed and the skeletons of wooden houses that appeared to have burned down.
The two girls stood there on top of that hill overlooking the town for a long silent moment. Fate was the first to break it, "I… I don't see anyone."
"I don't either." Nanoha said, looking over the ruins of the town again. Something on the edge of the opposite side of the town, just at the edge of the horizon, made her peer harder. "What is that?"
Fate tore her searching gaze away from the town and look in the direction Nanoha indicated. "I don't know, I can't make it out. It looks rather… green?"
"Let's check it out." Nanoha said suddenly, beginning to make her way down the hill.
Concern rushed into Fate, "Nanoha! Wait! It might be dangerous!"
She rushed after her best friend, Fate did not try to stop Nanoha though, and she merely got caught up with her. Fate herself was curious as to what the green-thing was herself. As they began to reach the first of that group of concrete structures separate from the main town, Nanoha froze.
"Nanoha?" Fate inquired quietly.
"Do you smell that?" Nanoha asked.
Fate sniffed the air a few times, then gave a soft cough, "Yes… is that… smoke?"
"I didn't see a fire… did you?" Nanoha asked.
Fate shook her head, "Maybe one of the buildings obstructed our view. If so, it must be a campfire and recently set… which means."
"-There is someone here after all." Nanoha finished. "Let's go, I think it's coming from that building on the small hill-"
They both began to make their way through the structures, following a small road that branched out and ran between the groups of structures, with a few apparent parking places. There were no cars to be seen in any of the spots.
It took a moment for Nanoha to realize the layout. "This... this reminds me of a college campus."
"Hm?" Fate mumbled, she had not really been paying attention.
"Ah… back on Earth. This reminds me of a medium-sized college campus. My parents were considering sending my brother off at the time and we visited a place in the country. This set-up is similar… although there are some differences." Nanoha explained, before getting speculative, "Maybe Dahlonega was a college town. Something happened to the college and the people abandoned the town."
Fate shook her head, recalling the map from the gas station, "No, there were a lot of other dots on that map. Something tells me this place was not always a desert."
They continued to move on in silence, at one point they passed a piece of wreckage at a fork in the road. The rusted metal seemed familiar to Nanoha, the shape poked at her memory… a weapon of some kind? They took a left, towards the structure and quickly found themselves at another fork, but with a staircase leading up to the concrete building they were looking for.
Fate stopped and whispered, "Sh! Listen!"
Nanoha did, for a moment nothing, and then they heard the distinctive 'ping' of someone pulling a single guitar string coming up the hill. Nanoha and Fate moved again, making their way up the staircase as quietly as they could. A few more strings rang out as they made to the top, crossed a small parking lot, and peered around the front-left corner of the building.
A single man, apparently in his early 40's, sat on a rusting office chair, studying a few-strings-short of a guitar in his hand with interest. A burn-out campfire smoldered in the middle of the small road that ran in front of the structure and a skinny greyhound lay next to the fire. Fate caught a dirty knapsack, larger than the one she and Nanoha had been carrying, and… her heart nearly stopped as she saw the semi-automatic rifle propped up against the man's left leg.
After taking a look at the weapons, the two studied the man a little more. He had very noticeable stubble growing his face and the clothing consisted of a dirty t-shirt and torn-and-patched jeans. A coat with holes in it lay against across the right armrest of the chair and a very worn-out sleeping bag lay on the ground too his right.
The man himself was skinny, but modestly well-built in muscles. He was certainly bigger then Nanoha and Fate, but they were not fully grown so that was nothing new. Slightly long, badly cut light-brown hair gave him completed the haggard appearance as did a pair of light green eyes that were beginning to show signs of going dull.
"Do we talk to him?" Nanoha whispered to Fate. For a moment Fate wondered why Nanoha asked that question, but then she realized that Nanoha was staring at the gun. That thought gave Fate pause, long enough that the question was settled for them.
The dog, upon Nanoha speaking, had lifted its head off the ground and looked in their direction; however it took a moment for the man to notice.
"What's wrong boy? You hear something?" The man said, definitely speaking in English. It was when the dog began growling that Fate began to worry. The man apparently tried to calm his pet, "Calm down boy, it might not be threatening."
Both Fate and Nanoha saw the man's hand move closer to the gun despite his words. They jerked back behind the wall, but the movement caught the man's eye. He shouted "Who's there?!"
The two did not reply, slightly hoping the man would dismiss them. They heard the man say reassuringly, "Listen, if you don't want to hurt me, I won't hurt you."
Fate glanced down at Nanoha, who looked back at her and nodded. Ever since they had become friends, Fate had come to realize that Nanoha was really good at figuring people out… even if she had to go and blast them to find out their reasons. Nanoha was willing to trust this man, then so was Fate.
Besides, their barrier jackets could easily stop bullets.
Holding their hands up and looking nervous, the duo rounded the corner. The dog stopped growling and seemed to look at them curiously, while the man calmed and removed the hand from his gun.
"Oh…" The man said, "Hi."
"Hello…" Nanoha said, her English being better then Fate's, minus auto-translator of course (but they did not want to resort to that just yet). Fate figured that the two were going to get the opportunity to use their English a lot.
"Ah… you can put your hands down. Sorry about the intro, I can't be too careful." The man replied, standing up. Fate noticed the pistol on his right hip then, but lowered her hands anyways. If the man wanted to shoot them, he could have done it when they first rounded the corner.
"Are you two girls lost?" The man said. Before either of them could reply, he continued, "You two look thirsty… hold on."
He rummaged through the knapsack and pulled out two drinking cups, Fate and Nanoha took this as a sign they could approach and did so. The man looked up and gave a small smile, "Here… have a seat, I'll go get the water jug, and then we can have introductions."
They took the cups from him and sat down on the ground quietly as the man (picking up the rifle, which made Fate momentarily weary) and moving inside the building. While he was gone, the greyhound wandered up and sniffed at Fate momentarily, then Nanoha and looked rather confused.
"Maybe it smells Arisa's dogs and Suzuka's cats." Fate wondered. The thought of their two other friends on Earth made Fate wonder about hers and Nanoha's families and all their friends. Did they know they were missing? How were the Takamachi's taking it? Chrono? Admiral Lindy? Hayate and the Wolkenritter? Did Yuuno know?
All these questions drifted through Fate's head, Nanoha seemed to sense that her friend was worried because she stopped scratching the dog behind his ears and turned her head in concern towards Fate. "Fate?"
"We should talk about it later." Fate said, Nanoha accepted that, the man returned moments later, the gun strapped over his shoulder and a jug of clear water in his hands.
"I'm back!" He announced, "Thank god that filtration unit is still working!"
He poured some water into the cups which the two girls drank gratefully, before putting a cap back on the jug and placing it next to his bag. Nanoha finished drinking and said to the man, "Thank you."
"Think nothing of it!" The man said back with a smile as he sat down in the chair. "Now, how about we give our names, eh? I'm Fredrick Reedors, just call me Fred, and the dog-" He indicated the greyhound with a nod of the head, "I call Swift."
I am Nanoha Takamachi, this is my friend…" Nanoha looked over.
Fate picked up without a beat, "Fate Harlaown-Testarossa. It's nice to meet you."
Fred nodded back, "Oh no, the pleasure is all mine."
"Uh… excuse me, but Fred, do you know where we are? I mean, we know this is a town called Dahlonega, which we found on a map. But we are really lost…" Nanoha said, "We sort of… just woke-up to the Southeast of here."
"On the old highway?" Fred said, "I didn't think you were from around here anyways, are you from one of the Blue Zones?"
"The what?" Nanoha and Fate asked at the same time.
Fred seemed startled by their lack of knowledge, he shook his head, "You know, the Blue Zones… up North?" They just gave him blank looks, "Jesus… okay, you're in the former Southeastern United States, Georgia to be specific. We're sitting in what used to be North Georgia College."
Nanoha was so surprised; she nearly choked on air, "The United States? America?! That can't be… what happened!?"
Fate looked at her friend in alarm but Fred looked at her in befuddlement, "What happened? That's easy enough… Tiberium happened."
Another silent pause, then, simultaneously, the logical question: "What?"
Fred sighed, "Okay, time for a bit of a history lesson."