A/N: Hi again to: Jorlem, Drakensis, Paladindythe, yesilmavi, Rob Kelk, Florin, Stephen Mann, Foxboy, Necratoid, LilFluff, Bob Schroeck, sweno, blackaeronaut, Acyl, Manytales00, nocarename, Timote, werehawk, Cobalt Greywalker, M Fnord, CattyNebulart, Morganni.
Hi also to: Khaos, Narf the Mouse, biigoh, Winchester, MrEmperor, mkire, firefossil.
My touch is spreading. Bwahahahahaha! TvTropes, dattebayo! That is now officially my Catch Phrase!
Takamachi Nanoha of 2814
by Shadow Crystal Mage
Chapter 15: The Linker Cores War, Part 9: Strike on Mahora!
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in this story. If I did… well, this would all be canon. WARNING: MAY CAUSE HEAD EXPLOSION!
Chrono Harlaown was having a perfectly average day. Not get any sleep due to filling out paperwork, such as reports on the effectiveness of the identity obfuscation mask, and the three unconscious people who'd had their Linker Cores ripped out; reset his barrier jacket to purge its smell and make sure it was air-tight to keep his own stink in since he didn't have time to take a bath; call his mom and give an update on progress while relaying a couple of things for Green Lantern-chan to relay to her own Earth contacts; ask Yuuno and Amy to come to him at the HQ…
There were absolutely no voices in his head. He knew enough from Nanoha to count that a good thing…
Nanoha's hand reached out from under her covers, grabbing her beeping cellphone and pulling it under the blankets with her like some kind of hentai monster taking the screaming loli victim into its lair. The beeping cut off, and there was a semi-contented sigh of someone going back to sleep. In his basket, Yuuno curled up tighter.
"Ma'am," Ring-chan's boyish Tara Strong voice said. "Ma'am, time to wake up. "
Nanoha snored on.
Undeterred, Ring-chan calmly lifted its Lantern off the ground, rotated her until her head was pointing straight down to the bed, and let gravity get back to work.
"Good morning, ma'am," Ring-chan repeated chirpily. "Isn't it time for you to be waking up? You have morning patrol, training, breakfast and school in front of you, and that's just before noon."
Grumbling sleepily, Nanoha crawled out of bed, rubbing at her eyes. "Ring-chan, power check," she said fuzzily.
"Ring power at 95 percent, ma'am," Ring-chan said. "You have messages."
Yawning again, Nanoha set about getting ready for another day's work…
Yuuno yawned, barely keeping together the construct that was flying him and Amy towards the TSAB main office. Idly, he wondered why they called it the TSAB when, for absolutely no effort at all, they could call it STAB, and have a really cool acronym. Ah, well…
"It's too early in the morning for this," Yuuno muttered. He glared half-heartedly at Amy, sitting next to him on a fully extended massage chair like the one he'd once seem on that trip to the hot springs where they'd first met Arf. He was curled up on his own chair, slightly less comfortable, since he was still pretty sleepy and he knew that, without special preparation, if he fell asleep the constructs would go bye-bye. "What does that boyfriend of yours want at this hour, anyway?"
"A nookie?" Amy said, grinning.
"You do it," Yuuno said. "After yesterday's panty raid, I've used up this month's weird quota."
Amy raised an eyebrow. "Panty raid?" she said, grinning.
"I don't want to talk about it!"
Yuuno knew only the most basic theory of how familiars were made, since he had never really considered making one for himself, but he knew enough. As such, he wondered if the Lieze sisters were originally Earth cats. That was the best explanation of why the two of them were horny nut jobs. Amy, for some reason, didn't seem at all jealous some other girl was literally al over HER Chrono. Yuuno halted that train of thought, since it was too distracting.
Seriously, these were the nutcases Chrono thought had a knack for information on the Book of Darkness? The more Yuuno thought about it, the more it became likely they were from Earth. In his experience, only Earth people could be that crazy while still being accomplished in their field, whatever it was.
Everyone he knew on Earth sneezed.
The Infinity Library, Yuuno drooled, was HUGE! Yue and her friends would love it here!
"But just to be clear," he said as an Orangutan floated past him and the Lieze twins, "That's just a nickname, right? It's not some kind of physical manifestation of the Akashic Records? All it really contains is data and every publication ever published in every supervised world in the TSAB's history?"
"And a few from unsupervised ones," Aria nodded, giving her a slight spin. "You'd be surprised how many people make that mistake."
"Not really," Yuuno said, looking around at the arcing white pylons that were part of the slight stable space-warp that allowed them to have such an obscene amount of room. "Twilight?"
The twins grinned widely, giggling and squealing. Yuuno firmly slotted them in the 'Crazy Evil' box and maxed out his protective energy aura to keep his mind from being contaminated.
"Except for the ones closest to the door and a few oft-read favorites, most of this isn't really well organized," Lotte said as a sharp-nosed pointy-eared man with red hair and glasses and a luscious blonde woman float by. "Well, we try, but filing systems tend to be idiosyncratic, and no one ever puts the books where they found them… you understand."
"Normally, a team would be formed to do the searching," Aria said as a group of girls with 'Library Island Exploration Club' floated in the background, clustered around a map with a snowflake configuration. "It probably says something that Dr. Gates spends more of his time trying to map out the library and looking for lost research teams than getting anything filed."
"Examining history and the past is my tribe's main occupation," Yuuno said, thoughtfully tapping his cheek. "You know, I really should send them a postcard, let them know I'm all right. Aunt Lara would like to know all those skills she taught me was useful for more than just raiding tombs."
"Lotte and I have work to do, so we can't stay here the whole time…" Aria said apologetically.
Yuuno waved a dismissive hand. "I'll be all right. I have more than just search magic to help me look."
Aria raised an eyebrow at that. "Well, we'll still do what we can to help."
"After all, our cute, favorite pupil Chro-suke asked us to!" Lotte cried.
"SHH!" Yuuno shushed, pointing at the sign that proved that, no matter how messed up the geometry, this was still a library.
Books must be returned by the last date stamped.
Do not interfere with the nature of causality.
Lotte blushed. "Sorry."
Yuuno metaphorically rolled up his sleeves, using his magic to add his usual fedora to his barrier jacket and wondering where he'd left his whip. He'd probably have to get a new one again. "All right, let's get to work. Ring, copy this entire library…"
Green light flared.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Fate was coming to a very important crossroads, a choice that will shake the very foundations of the universe, completely realigning all reality as we know it with its magnitude!
"Which cell phone should I get?"
Very serious business, that…
"You're all cleared, for now," Chrono told the four un-transformed Sailor Senshi, dutifully ignoring how Sailor Uranus was holding Sailor Neptune's hand. He'd just talked to Aria about the Asura's new Arc-en-Ciel weapon system out in the hall. "Eternal Sailor Moon should be up to transforming in about two or three days, though the rest of shouldn't for the next week or so. Sailor Saturn-san will likely be done healing up in five or six, since she's so young. At that age, Linker Cores tend to recover faster."
"Damn it!" Sailor Pluto growled, slamming her fist against the wall. "The enemy could attack five times over by then. And here we are, useless!"
Chrono coughed. "Well, as to that, Green Lantern-chan had a few ideas."
They all looked at him.
"How do you feel about staying in a resort for a few days?"
Fate stayed at home as Nanoha made her rounds. While the TSAB might 'only' have to deal with the Wolkenritter, she had other duties to tend to. She checked the orbits of approaching space matter, making sure none were likely to hit earth or any of the hundred of valuable space equipment in high orbit. Cleared up a little of the debris in orbit as well. She monitored the communications of the other planets in her sector, listening for any emergency calls for Green Lantern, as well as reports concerning earthquakes and similar destructive phenomena. Fortunately, there was nothing for her to need to deal with.
Nanoha also checked on updates from Oa, and updated them on the latest on the currently-experimental alliance with the TSAB. While their 'nominal' area of jurisdiction was this universe as they knew it– such as it was, messed up and all– the Guardians encouraged their Lanterns to make alliances and contacts where they could. After all, in the billions of years history of the Corps, it was not unheard of for Lanterns to come into contact with civilizations in small pocket dimensions, on the second star to the right and straight on until morning, or in a completely different plane of existence. There were 76 known alternate 'magical' planes in sector 2814 alone, not counting those that connect to Earth.
The TSAB was being filed under 'Sector 2814, specifically Earth-centric, variable dimensional plane phenomenon'. Nanoha had been able to establish basic niceties with the TSAB organization proper, and though it was still in its infancy, she was confident that in the future the rapport would develop into a mutually beneficial association.
This was, however, simply a case of keeping busy. In the interim moments between actually doing things, she turned the events of the past few days over and over in her mind. If she'd taken Vita seriously in their first fight, if she'd used her Ring as she should have, perhaps they wouldn't be having these problems. It was likely she'd have been able t o capture Vita, at least, and maybe Signum and their familiar as well. Then she wouldn't have needed to allow Ring-chan to call everyone, and they wouldn't have ended up possible targets of the Wolkenritter…
Guilt, thankfully, did not compromise the integrity of her constructs.
She wished Raging Heart was there. And her being damaged was her fault too! People had been hurt because she hadn't taken the Wolkenritter seriously the first time, and it looked like things were getting worse. Sailor Mercury had said those drone-things the Wolkenritter had bought to Juuban were a highly advanced variant on the first kinds of monsters the Sailor Senshi had fought, whose life-draining effects on their victims could be devastating. Were the Wolkenritter going beyond just draining Linker Cores now? Could they for some reason be also planning to drain life energy?
If so, she had to stop them. it was her responsibility, her duty. While the Senshi and mages and Superman and other heroes all protected the Earth, she felt it was slightly different for her. They all did it because they were good people, who wanted to do the right thing. And granted, Nanoha was that as well, or so she'd like to believe in all humility. But there was a difference between them and her: she had been offered and accepted the responsibility for the protection of the Earth along with all other attendant places in her space Sector. For the honor of being a part of the Green Lantern Corps, it was her duty, her responsibility, to protect Earth, so see no harm befell anyone there. She had sworn this to a dying man.
Abin Sur would have been ashamed.
"Poot," Nanoha grumbled.
She really needed advise.
"Ring-chan, find Superman-sama."
"You know, maybe those TSAB people are right," Zafira said as Vita typed. "Maybe you are spending too much time online."
Vita gave him a look. Hayate was currently out of the house doing Hayate-out-of-the-house things, Signum was recovering by teaching her kendo class, and Shamal was with Hayate. She was doing VERY IMPORTANT RESEARCH for their next target. "I am doing VERY IMPORTANT RESEARCH for our next target!" she said huffily.
"You're checking out Sailor Senshi shrines," Zafira said blandly. "And starting a forum flame-war about what Sailor Moon's opinion on Twilight is. And flaming Green Lantern in every forum you could get into."
Vita self-consciously closed some tabs. "Well, I'm still getting important info on our targets!" She switched to another tab and scrolled down, pointing at a picture of a red-headed boy in a suit and glasses. "Recognize him?"
Zafira squinted. "Not really. Should I?"
"He was one of those we managed to extract a Link Core from, that night we got hit by every Sankt Kaiser begotten, Hayate-damned mage on the planet," Vita growled. "According to this, his name is Negi Springfield, and he's a teacher at Mahora Academy, class 3-A. He's an orphan, and has never met his father."
Zafira blinked. "Vita, how in Hayate's name did you manage to come across this when we didn't even know his name?"
"I got an e-mail from someone named Chao Lingshen," Vita said. "It was pretty convenient."
She showed him another tab. It was a free e-mail account, and the email read:
From: ChaoLingshen at ChaoCorp dot com
To: FrauVitaYagami at Mahoo dot com.
This is a timed message. Please do not reply.
The following is a very convenient list of powerful mages in the immediate vicinity of Japan you might be interested in.
What followed was a short list of names, with a number next to them.
This message helpfully bought to you by Chao Bao Zhi! For the best meat buns in Mahora, go to Chao Bao Zhi. We also serve Ice-cream!
Best of luck, Chao Lingshen.
Zafira and Vita stared. "When did you get this again?" the Guardian Beast said.
Vita pursed her lips. "It was there as soon as I turned on my account. Look, the names at the top are those we've already gotten the Linker Cores of. See, Green Lantern, 'lightning-punchy mage' Negi Springfield, Eternal Sailor Moon, 'some random brown-haired kid with a sword because there was a big group of mercenaries in the way' Lee Syaoran, Sailor Neptune, Sailor Saturn, Sailor Pluto… and there are more names."
"What do those numbers mean?" Zafira said.
"Well, I'll have to ask Shamal, but… it look like how many pages these people can give," Vita said.
They both stared at the screen.
"That's awfully convenient," Zafira said. "I mean, it implies that this 'Chao Lingshen not only knows all about us, but also knows these people, and for some reason has a motive for wanting us to complete the Book of Darkness. That can't possibly be good."
"Maybe they want us to complete it so they can take the book's power for themselves?" Vita speculated.
The screen changed slightly as they received a new email. Frowning, Vita did a little clicking to open it.
From: Chibi-UsagiPinkHorselover at ChaoCorp dot com
To: FrauVitaYagami at Mahoo dot com.
This is a timed message. Please do not reply.
No, we don't want the book's power. We swear on a bath with Hayate. Knock yourself out, just don't hurt/kill anyone. You know, like Hayate-chan doesn't want you to. Though it's a little late at this point.
Best wishes, Chibi-Usa-chan!
P.S. Give my best to Zafira-san, who's standing right next to you
The two Knights stared at the email.
"Okay, that's just plain freaky," Zafira said. "We should really just delete these email and pretend we never saw them. This is almost certainly a trap."
"There's someone here with the number 200 next to their name," Vita said. "Have you ever heard of anyone named Evangeline?"
"There, that means we can't trust it," Zafira said. "Honestly, who could possibly be that powerful?"
Evangeline, grumbling under her breath as she helped unearth her stash of Negi's clothes, sneezed, causing 5 tons of dirt to drop down on her. "Crap."
Vita nodded, moving the cursor towards the delete button… and paused. "But… what if…?"
They stared at the screen.
'Kuro Illya' von Einzbern-Emiya pushed open the door to the house she shared with her 'sister' Illya, the luscious Shiro, the maids Sella and Leysritt, and on occasion their 'parents'. It was strangely quieter than usual and she frowned around as she exchanged her footgear. "Hello? Hey, meidos!"
Heading for the kitchen, she spotted a note on the table. Dropping her bag, she read it. "Dear Illyas. Went to fix up our castle in the woods. Might need to move in there in case of emergency. Probably won't be back until tomorrow or later. Have dinner, keep the house clean, and don't kill any burglars or attempted rapists, hiding the evidence of them dying my magic is difficult. Love, Mom."
Kuro blinked. "We own a castle in the woods?"
Shrugging, she put the note back for Shiro and Illya to read when they came back. It was really unlike Shiro to not be home at this time. Heh, he'd probably been shanghaied into doing something for the archery club. Kuro sniffed. Those wannabes called themselves archers? Hah! Could they shoot a fly's wings off at two kilometers? she wondered where her 'sister' had gone off to. She was feeling a little light-headed, and could do with a little mana…
Grinning, she went to see what Miyu was doing. She felt her Maid Switch snap up as she traipsed off across the street…
Shiro, to his regret, found himself in the crossfire between an Archer Class Servant and a Lancer Class Servant, and two teenaged mages who if anything were fighting even harder to beat the crap out of each other. This could not go well…
Clark Kent was having a rare day off. He deserved it, after all. He'd been vey busy, filing all sors of stories, doing research, getting his sources straight, being yelled at by Perry White. Oh, and having to save the day a few times too, he supposed.
So he was spending his day in Smallville, helping his parents out at the farm. Currently, he, his father and Kara were doing some repair work on some of the far fences. It was all very relaxing, simple manual labor that made him feel good for being able to do something constructive, with no super-powers involved beyond swinging a hammer and using a saw.
He didn't notice the high-velocity body passing through the atmosphere until it was too late.
"Superman-sama? Is that you?"
Clark froze. Kara stared over his shoulder, the hammer forgotten in her hand, eyes wide open in terror as she absentmindedly kept banging on her thumb. Jonathan Kent, a.k.a. 'Pa', blinked at the confused-looking girl floating in the midst of green light on the other side of the fence.
"Superman-sama?" Green Lantern said in confusion. "Why are you wearing glasses? Aren't you a bit far from Metropolis? And why are you…"
She paused, looking around taking in the saw in Clark's hands, the hammer in Kara's (the head was deforming from hitting her thumb), the nails, the working clothes Clark was wearing, Pa, the wood on the ground, the fence, the general area, and especially the glasses on Clark's face. It was at this point that the 'BUSTED!' expression Clark and Kara were sporting became obvious to her. Panic came over her, and she slapped a hand over her eyes, the other one waving widely. "AH! I'M SORRY! I DIDN'T MEAN SEE… WHATEVER IT IS I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE! I'M SORRY, I'M SO SORRY, I'LL GO AWAY RIGHT NOW AND–!"
Clark put a finger on her hand and gently pushed it down, smiling reassuringly at the poor girl, who was looking up at him in mortification. "It's okay, Green Lantern," he said. "I guess I should have figured this would happen. Did you use your ring to find me?"
Nanoha nodded, for some reason embarrassed. "I had Ring-chan search for you b-because I needed some advise. I'm sorry, I should have told you I was coming somehow…"
"How?" he said, smiling down reassuringly at her. "It's not like you have my phone number. Look, it's all right, Green Lantern. It was an honest mistake."
She returned his smile a bit wanly. Then she clamped her arms around his waist and started to cry…
A while later found Nanoha, in her school clothes, sitting in the Kent farm kitchen with a cup of hot milk in her hands, her legs dangling over the chairs edge. Clark had made introductions to try and make the girl feel better, introducing "his cousin Kara and my father, Jonathan Kent". Kara had just looked at Clark for a brief moment before she'd greeted the girl warmly, but Pa Kent hadn't even batted an eye, acting as if his son bringing home prepubescent over-powered superheroine Magical Girls was perfectly ordinary. Of course, given that time he'd come home with a teenaged girl he'd found in outer space…
Nanoha had realized the trust the introduction had conveyed, and she'd hesitantly powered down and introduced herself as Takamachi Nanoha, schoolgirl Green Lantern, bowing in an absolutely cute fashion to the two. The fence had been temporarily abandoned in favor of taking Nanoha to the farmhouse to make her more comfortable, where she'd been introduced to Martha.
It hadn't taken much prompting for Nanoha reveal what was bothering her, and the Clark– and he'd had to insist she call him that because "Friends don't call friends by their job,"– had listened attentively to her fears and worries. It was, surprisingly, not all that different from his own thoughts. If he'd done this, if he'd done that, if he'd been more serious, more responsible. It had been the hardest lesson he'd ever had to learn, as Superman or as Clark.
Sometimes, you failed. But the important thing wasn't how you failed, but how you went on regardless.
"But I failed," Nanoha said. "I wasn't able to do my duty!"
"So? Does that mean you'll stop?"
Nanoha paused at that. "No…"
"Then it wasn't a failure. It was a learning experience," Clark said, wishing he didn't sound so trite. "Do you remember when Darkseid brainwashed me?"
Nanoha's fist tightened in anger that Clark knew wasn't directed at him. The girls seemed to take that incident as personally as he did, for some reason.
"I failed then," Clark said quietly. "I failed to keep people from getting hurt. But I'm still trying."
Nanoha frowned, staring intently at her milk.
Ma Kent popped her head in. "Would anyone like cookies?" she offered.
Nanoha brightened. "Yes, please!" she said.
Cookies solved everything…
Emiya Shiro had been having a bad night. So far, he'd stayed late at school, been stabbed in the chest with a frickin' spear, somehow recovered but was in extreme pain, ran all the way home being chased by a maniac with a spear, and was now bleeding to death in the storeroom in the back yard where his father had sometimes secretly taught him magic ("Don't tell you mother, you sister or the maids, okay? Superheroes don't flaunt who they are"). And now…
"Are you… my Master?"
Now, things were just getting fucked up…
"This is too convenient," Signum said as she and Shamal looked over Vita shoulder at the pair of emails.
"That's what I said," Zafira grumbled.
Vita just crossed her arms.
"Where is this 'Mahora'?" Signum asked.
Shamal sighed, eyeing the Book reluctantly. "I'll get to work on the Jadeite Servants…"
Evangeline stared at Green Lantern, her gaze flat and unamused. "You what?"
Green Lantern and a properly suited Negi both smiled widely. "We want to use the resort to help the Sailor Senshi recover their powers faster," Green Lantern repeated herself, bravely outvoting the not-insignificant part of her that wanted to run away from this girl and curl into a ball.
Negi clasped his hands beseechingly. "Please Master," he pleased, his eyes wide and soulfully innocent. "It will only be until morning. Until tomorrow afternoon at most!"
"Why do people keep thinking they can use my resort as their own private playground?-!" Evangeline exclaimed. Nanoha cringed back.
"Please Master?" Negi pleaded, unconsciously putting all his cuteness and shota sex-appeal to bear on the vampires, who hadn't gotten laid in at least 15 years. Evangeline had to use all her centuries of self-control to not visibly blush as her newly-returned underwear suddenly felt a little too tight.
How does he DO that without knowing!-?-!-?-!-?-!-?-!-?-!-?-! Evangeline groused in her head, trying not to let her thoughts wander along the lines of what his hands felt like, and how well they'd be able to go in tight, dark places…
"FINE!" Evangeline snapped, desperately needing a drink, a long-soapy shower or possibly finally breaking out those extra-H features Chao had cheekily given her for Chachamaru.
"Yay! Thank you, Master!" Negi said, throwing both arms around the surprised vampire.
Yes, Evangeline considered as her brain began to crash and only her lifetime of experience kept her upright. A drink, a long-soapy shower or breaking out those extra-H features Chao had given her for Chachamaru was definitely in order.
"Wow," (Meio) Setsuna said, the duffel bag filled with her things hanging off her shoulder as she, Michiru, Haruka (who was here for moral support and to make out with her girlfriend because she was feeling guilty), Hotaru and Usagi stared out at the resort. "It's bigger inside than it is on the outside!"
"Are you quoting Doctor Who?" Michiru said.
"Of course not!" Setsuna said. "Horrible show, absolutely horrible! Wouldn't be caught dead watching it!"
Hotaru, who kept an eye on the torrent history of the house computer, rolled her eyes.
"You'll need to stay here for the next few days," Negi said (and his presence was not helping Haruka's guilt). "A day in here is an hour outside, so time will fly before you know it. I'll be here with you for the first day, since I can't leave until 24 hours have passed. We'll also be putting another attack victim in here, but you'll probably be gone by then."
"Ah, that explains that weird feeling," Setsuna said. "What should we– hey, where are Neptune and Uranus?"
"They went to find someplace cozy," Hotaru said. The dark-haired young girl turned to Negi, one hand on his forearm. "So, you're a teacher? That sounds interesting…"
Setsuna facepalmed, wondering why all her straight compatriots were boy-crazy. After a moment, she realized she was straightening her blouse and thrusting out her chest. Well, the kid was cute…
Usagi had already found the refrigerator, and was devouring the ice-cream…
Illya and Miyu walked home tiredly. Their classmates had insisted on seeing a movie that had just come out, and they were only just heading home. Miyu in particular was stressed from their classmates pestering her to 'unlock the Miyu path'!
Thus, they didn't notice the dark shadow lurking beneath a dead lamppost until it barred their path. "Hello, little girliesh…" it slurred, sounding drunk and generally dislikable.
Before the girls could react though, there was an 'erk', and the drunk suddenly collapsed, something metallic clattering to the ground next to him.
"EH?" Illya said in shock, looking around. "W-who did that?-!"
Miyu blinked at her. "Illya-chan?"
"This was the perfect opportunity for some new character to introduce themselves dramatically by rescuing us!" Illya cried. "Where are they?"
Miyu sweatdropped, before looking down and frowning. She picked up a forearm-length piece of black metal, curved and symmetrical, its overall appearance hard to make out in the darkness. She flexed it experimentally, and some catch in it released, and a hinge in the middle bent. Miyu experimentally folded it, unfolded it, and folded it again.
"What did you find there, Miyu-chan?" Illya said as she realized no one was about to dramatically introduce themselves.
Miyu handed it to her. "I can't tell what it is, it's too dark," she said.
Illya frowned down at it, turning it around in her hands. "Let's wait until we get home," she said, walking on the unconscious would-be attacker, tucking the metal thing in her bag. "There might be more of this guy around."
Miyu followed her down the road, the two hurrying now, more alert and looking around.
On top of a building, Batman grunted and chalked one batarang as a loss…
Michiru stared at Haruka as Negi stepped out back into the world. "What was that?" she demanded.
"What was what, dear?" Haruka said innocently, her cheeks slightly flushed.
Michiru pointed at where Negi had been. "That! You were fluffing your hair! You don't HAVE hair to fluff! And you were smiling and being all interested and had this goofy 'Minako and Makoto staring at the basketball team' look…!"
"Shame on you, Haruka-mama," Hotaru chided.
"Hey, you were doing it too!" Haruka said defeinsively, glaring at the little girl.
"I'm age appropriate!" Hotaru said. "And anyway, you don't swing that way!"
"Of course I don't!" Haruka said. "So I wasn't doing anything wrong, just, you know, trying something out…"
"You offered to have him sit on your lap," Setsuna said, absolutely deadpan.
"Oh, and you 'accidentally' tripping and ending up nearly squashing him under your chest was appropriate?" Hotaru said.
Michiru rubbed her temples, not really caring what the other two had been doing. Her ire was all directed towards her girlfriend. "Look, you better have a good explanation for this Haruka! What, you just see a hot, young, girlishly pretty boy with nice smooth skin and firm backside… with a cute smile and sexy glasses… that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside…"
Michiru trailed off, blushing brightly.
Haruka stepped forward and put her arms around her lover. "It's okay, Mi-chan," she whispered. "It'll be our little secret…"
Usagi was still eating, and hadn't noticed a thing…
Morning came. Vita woke up to find Hayate had taken it upon herself to snuggle the knight against her chest. BSOD followed this revelation.
Signum found herself checking the internet for the armor-piercing properties of roses.
Shamal made breakfast. Contrary to popular belief, she did not screw it up.
Zafira had a nice dream where he was saving the other knights, who had fallen down a well, and had to maul a sparkly vampire to death.
Bruce Wayne, having only gotten into bed a couple of hours before, found himself dreaming, also contrary to popular belief, about solving a complex time-travel mystery with Sherlock Holmes and the Grey Ghost, who for some reason sounded like his father.
Nanoha woke to the beeping of her cellphone, and did not need to be dropped on her head. She walked blearily to the bathroom to relive herself, her brain still too sleep-fogged to notice Miyuki sneaking out of Kyouya's room wearing nothing but an apron and carrying a tray that smelled slightly of pancakes.
Chrono woke up to find himself on his bed on the Asura, the ship now back and ready for action, with Amy snuggling next to him clad only in her underwear. He wasn't sure how he felt about still wearing the uniform he'd fallen asleep in.
Aria and Lotte stared at Yuuno, who was just floating there, same place as he'd been yesterday, eyes staring in a slightly sightless manner as around him green light seemed to be in the midst of moving every book in the Infinity Library. "You sure you didn't see him leave to go to the bathroom?" Aria asked Lotte.
Lotte shook her head. "Nope. He's just been standing there while the books did their thing. Is he even using magic?"
The two peered at him closely.
"That's a very nice hat, though," Lotte said. "Very sexy. We should get Chro-suke one like it."
Negi was practicing his forms in the dorm's lawn as the dawn came. He remembered when he'd enjoyed this time of day, back before Evangeline had taken to training him in her resort. It was so cool and quiet, with seemingly only Asuna-san going on her paper route and Makie-chan or some of the other sports girls awake.
There was a sound behind him and he paused, turning. A slightly sleepy-looking Cassandra blinked at him, wearing sweat pants and a light shirt. A towel hung around her shoulders. "Oh, good morning, Cassandra-san. What brings you out at this time?"
In response, Cassandra set her feet apart, raising her arms in a familiar gesture. It was, in fact, the form Negi had started from. She made an inviting come hither gesture with her forward hand, her smile a childish invitation to play. Hesitantly, Negi struck, and she gently parried him, then counter attacked, slightly faster ad stronger than he had. He replied, and the two slowly began to ramp it up…
DING! "Component installation and upgrading completed. Intelligent Device Raging Heart ready!"
Yotsuba Satsuki cheerfully pushed along the cart with its load of slightly dusty boxes. She'd gotten a timed email from Chao, asking her to move these boxes from the basement of the university's storage rooms. Not being stupid, she'd looked inside one, where she'd found another note from Chao chiding her for not trusting her classmate, while admitting that, yes, it was perfectly reasonable given what had happened last time. The box contained several gynoids, but instead of looking like Chachamaru, they'd been… redesigned. A further note promised that while they'd be capable of a lot of violence, they were programmed not to hurt anybody. Well, that was that, then. Chao never lied about not hurting anybody, though her standards for 'hurt' tended to be a bit flexible.
So Satsuki cheerfully moved the boxes to where Chao had indicated they should go, the way she'd been doing for a week now, and then went to class.
Several boxes of loli-type gynoids wearing red dresses counted down patiently, waiting for the moment they were to activate…
There was a lot more planning involved this time.
They'd spent part of the night going over what they could of the lay-out of Mahora Academy, corroborating the e-mail's contents with maps and Google Earth images of the school city in question. There was no way to confirm the e-mail's predictions of where certain people would be, but they'd found partial confirmation. A Negi Springfield was registered as a faculty advisor for a club. Kasuga Misora was listed as a member of the Mahora track team in an old announcement for a sports festival. Takane Goodman had participated in a particularly memorable martial arts tournament earlier that year. It was the most confirmation they could get.
Vita, Signum and Zafira left the house and Hayate in Shamal's care as they went to betraythier Mistress's trust one more time…
And Shamal thoughtfully considered that maybe they needed a new oath, one more specifically tailored for the situation than the general one they'd been swearing to every new owner of the Book of Darkness that came along. After all, Hayate was special. She mulled the words over in her head as she pushed Hayate along, mouthing them softly.
"In days of peace, in times of war, protect our Queen forever more…" she said silently to herself. "We four Clouds stand, we are her Knights. To guard Hayate, our delight…"
What was that, Shamal? Signum's voice said.
Shamal blushed, barely managing to keep herself from jerking Hayate's wheelchair. Darn, did I leave this thing on? Uh, you all heard that?
Yes, Vita and Zafira said, the latter sounding amused.
Oh… ah, well, it was just idle silliness. Forget about it… Shamal said, embarrassed.
…I liked it… Vita's voice said. I could swear that oath…
Hmm… Signum said.
Hmm… Zafira said.
Guys? Shamal asked.
A considering silence was her only answer.
Lotte was trying to draw on Yuuno's face with a black marker and failing miserably when the mage's eyes suddenly snapped open, eliciting a high-pitched shriek from the familiar. Yuuno blinked several times, rubbing his eyes and yawning. "Ring, power check," he said.
"Ring power at 11 percent," he ring said, its voice sounding not unlike that of Neil Patrick Harris.
"Y-yuuno-san?" Lotte said, trying to hide the marker behind her back.
"A-aria-san?" Yuuno said as all around them the books of the library suddenly stopped flying around, settling into shelves quietly. "I have. I have the information on the Book. It's a little fuzzy, since I haven't been able to read it all, but I've managed to isolate all the information regarding the book and record it in my ring."
"EH?-!" Lotte exclaimed, eliciting a "SHH!" from a passing man in a robe who looked like he'd been drawn by Ayanagi Ran. "So soon?"
Yuuno shrugged. "What can I say? I'm good at this. According to the old archives, 'Book of Darkness' isn't it's true name…"
Nanoha was in Mahora supervising Syaoran's ("Get well fast, Syaoran-kun!" Sakura said) transfer into the resort and the Outer's coming out of it (Sailor Moon had gone back home last night, hence why Nanoha had been a little bleary that morning) when the call came in. "Eh?" she said as she air-lifted the girls back to Juuban. "Raging Heart is back in action? That's wonderful news, Amy-san!"
Ring-chan grumbled something unintelligible in Tamaranean. It could be construed it was not a compliment. Nanoha didn't notice.
"Plus the Asura is ready now, so we'll be moving operations into it soon," Amy continued. "The medical bay's prepped, though hopefully we won't need it."
"I wouldn't bet on that," Nanoha said grimly, the ground passing by in a blur. "How's Yuuno-kun?"
"He's managed to find some information on the Book of Darkness," Amy said. "I'll give you the full story later. Or he could. It's in his ring. And he completely organized and catalogued the Library." This last bit came with awe. "The entire ibarary."
"Eh? That doesn't seem so hard."
"You obviously haven't been to the Infinity Library yet. Last I heard, the staff was calling him a god and offering to bear his children. Since only two of the nine staffers are men, that means a lot. The two odd out offered to raise them so he wouldn't have to take time off."
"I don't get it," Nanoha said.
It was a beautiful, average day in Mahora. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, Takane Goodman had managed to grab her Ministras Mei and Megumi all alone in her room and the three of them were making out on the bed, when they heard a voice.
It was not in their heads. It was actually coming from outside.
"In days of peace, in times of war! Protect our Queen forever more! We four Clouds stand, we are her Knights! To guard our Lady, our delight!"
"Huhh?" Takane said, her words muffled by a mouthful of Mei's tongue.
The door was blasted open suddenly, and a red streak dashed into the room. There was flash, another, and one more, a smell of ozone and suddenly three unconscious mages in preliminary states of disheveled were down.
The red-clad figure who had busted through the door tilted its head as if making a note. "Targets neutralized. Converted Chachamaru unit 21b-Vita objective completed. Moving to secondary objectives. This neutralization bought to you by Chao Bhao Zi."
The gynoid in red loli-goth wear stepped out the door, its hammer in hand and headed outside.
A moment later, the window opened and Vita squeezed in, looking a round and staring at the mess of a door, the three unconscious mages, and the definite lack of opposition. "Well, this is convenient," she said, drawing out the Book of Darkness. "Begin download."
Somewhere, several timers went down to zero.
In the faculty offices of the university, gas erupted from several innocuous boxes that had been left there sometime that week, which spread rapidly to cover the rooms. Teachers, many confused and not knowing what was going on, coughed and gag, before succumbing to sweet oblivion. The spiral stairway to the underground mage-forces facility was similarly flooded, catching a few fools and slowing the rest as they set up wind spells to keep it from spreading and tried to blow it up the shaft.
In several public areas, similar caches of gas detonated, spreading chaos and confusion amidst the population. Those members of Ala Alba and the schools own forces caught up in the clouds barely managed to keep from being ensnared. Fortunately, it was all so confused not one noticed the relatively small spells they used to block and redirect the gas.
On top of all this, most of the university's power grid went down. In any other school, all this would have been reported, eventually, as a terrorist act. In Mahora… well, let's just say someone was using their desire to keep outside influence low against them.
Whoa, Zafira said, standing in human form and concealing his tail and ears as he stood near the gym, which had also been gassed. That Chao Lingshen wasn't kidding around when she said no one would notice us coming in, did she?
Well, I'll grant her e-mail has been reliable so far, Signum replied from where she stood in the midst of the campus's ridiculously large tree. It radiated power beneath her, all useless. It did not have a Linker Core to drain. Might as well download a cartridge. Initiate the plan. Let's give Vita the time she needs. Shamal, send our backup!
Acknowledged, Shamal said. Beginning transfer.
At strategic points of the school, hordes of Wolkenritter-shaped upgraded youma suddenly appeared, and systematically began to cause chaos.
The robots actually dressed like the Wolkenritter who also suddenly and coincidentally appeared were also quite helpful at this.
At the Harlaown residence, in the command room, an alert came on. The computer dutifully rerouted it to the Asura…
Hasegawa Chisame, beautiful beloved idol of thousands Chiu-sama by day and 'wondering at what point had she lost her mind' English Culture Research Club (Ala Alba!) member specializing in tech support, hacking, level-headed advice and lampshading Ministra Magi The Calculator by night, barricaded herself in her room, trying to get online. All cellphones and the phone lines appeared to be down, and something seemed to be jamming Pactio-to-Pactio telepathic contact. She'd been in enough trouble to guess at the scale of this problem from the sound effects alone, and it wasn't sounding good. She needed to get in contact with some of the more abnormal members of Ala Alba, or failing that find a way to get word out for help!
She paused, reviewed her previous thoughts, and hung her head in shame. Then she determinedly grabbed her computer and Pactio Card, hesitantly unlocked her door, looked both ways, and ran for it. Options scrolled though her. Where to go? Where might not be affected by all these mundane resource loses?
A thought struck her and she ran, hoping she'd make it there…
On the way back to Uminari, Nanoha answered her ring. "Yes, Amy-chan?"
"Nanoha! You need to get back to Mahora. They're there! The Wolkenritter are there!"
Nanoha turned and broke the sound barrier. "I'll be there in a few minutes. Where are Fate-chan and Arf-san?"
"Transferring in," Amy said. "I've sent them Raging Heart."
Nanoha smiled widely.
Kuzunoha Touko went down, the gas-addled swordswoman too disoriented to avoid Vita's attack to the back of her head.
Vita looked around widely, making sure there was no one to spot her. This was the 3rd mage she'd managed to drain since the first three, though this was the only one she'd needed to render unconscious first. The other two had already been taken by the gas her e-mail had predicted. She'd managed to find the dark-skinned girl with the tattoos on her faces in front of the convenience store, and the other had been passed out in his car, still holding a cigarette.
It was inefficient, but they'd resolved to only go after the strongest or a anyone already vulnerable rather than confronting people directly for their Cores. Confusion and misdirection would be their weapons in this fight rather than direct, overt power. This had to be explained to Vita multiple times. She'd been sent to collect while the other two distracted because she was small and better able to conceal herself if need be, and unlike Zafira would be better able to fight her way out if caught. Plans had a nasty habit of going bad on this world.
The download finished, and Vita made sure the woman was down for the count, then tried to make her comfortable, straightening her quickly so she wouldn't be all cramped upon waking. Then she concentrated on her search spell, trying to pinpoint the next possibly vulnerable target…
"Raging Heart! I've missed you so!" Nanoha cried as he met Fate and Arf in a clearing some miles outside of Mahora.
"My master. It is good to see you again."
Nanoha held the Device in her hands, feeling the warmth coming front it as it reconnected to her magic. She began to chant. "I am the one who has been given a mission,' Nanoha said, and the warmth spread like truth. " Under the contract, release these powers. The winds are in the sky, the stars are in the heavens, the light is in my hands and the power is in my heart! And I shall shed my light over dark evil, for the dark things cannot stand the light, the light of the Green Lantern! Raging Heart Emerald Excelion, Set Up!"
Light flared, and magic wove around Nanoha as she felt the familiar comforting presence of her Barrier Jacket wrapping itself around her once more. She twirled Raging Heart in an instinctive gesture, and thrust one fist to the sky. "Magical Girl Green Lantern, Zenryoku Zenkai! Ready for action!"
Arf clapped. Fate sighed in amusement.
Nanoha rubbed the back of her head in embarrassment. "Sorry, but I've been wanting to do that for days now. What's the situation?"
"Wolkenritter," Fate said. "Signum and Zafira, along with those drone things they bought last time. No sign of the others."
Nanoha frowned. "Vita-chan will be there," she said. "She always is. If we couldn't see her there, then there's a reason. Any word from Ala Alba?"
"None. Something took down all communications," Fate said.
Nanoha turned to look in the direction of Mahora, her hands clasping Raging Heart. It looked much the same, the haft near its gem slightly bigger now, with a cartridge magazine at one point and a handle jutting out a little bit lower down. At the end of the handle was a circular array, the only other sign of the Device's extensive upgrades. Her Barrier Jacket was much the same with some minor additions, and already it glowed with green Corps symbols, courtesy of Ring-chan.
"Confusion. Chaos. Many innocents possibly caught in between," Nanoha summarized. Her gaze firmed. "Let's go."
- To be continued...
A/N: Just watched the episode 3rd of the Negima Magical World OVA. It struck me as funny that, in the scene where Chachamaru is targeting Negi with her pocket punch, in the upper right corner is the words 'lovelove'. Also, loli!Chisame panty shot! Asuna special 'Breasts to the Face Attack'! If you look at the close-shot of Asakura's Pactio card, you'll see that the little spiral of pictures consists of the covers of Negima, Love Hina and some of the colored page spreads. Hmm, how to get Love Hina into this…
And I've just noticed, but in the colored covers, Arika also has Heterochromia, with her eyes the same color as Asuna. Hmm…
Well, incest is best, put your possible aunt to the test!
Haruna's first words upon coming out of Cosmo Entelekhia are 'World Domination'. Oh, this is going to be so much fun…
I decided Hayate was not to have her heart attack yet. So there.
BTW, I need names for random magical students for the next chap. Do the reviewers and forum readers mind if I use ones inspired by them?
Please review, C&C welcome.
Until next time, this is Shadow, signing off.