A/N: What the main characters look like from the perspective of the little people. Anyways, somewhere between As and StrikerS…

In The Service
The TSAB M-class patrol warship Uhlan emerged from the Dimensional Sea and into orbit of Adminstrated World #6, Diosid, where bad things were currently happening. Diosid had hosted an Orbital Penal Complex until about thirty minutes ago.

Now it hosted a debris cloud, a hijacked civilian starship, and a lot of escaped prisoners. Uhlan darted after the civilian spacecraft, trying to bring it within range of the Bureau ship's teleport jammers and stop the ship from spamming its cargo of convicts all across Diosid with its teleporters.

The civilian ship turned away. It was a pointless exercise to try and run away from a top-of-the-line military starship of course. But it bought time for the ship to try and teleport all those prisoners to the ground, where they could hide.

The Bureau ship's captain started deploying his own mages to make sure that strategy was unsuccessful.

Mage Team 70 was the highest-numbered currently active Navy Mage Team in the Adminstrated Worlds area. It was representive of the instrument that the Navy most often selected to project power on the ground, since starship bombardment usually caused a bit of a mess. It consisted of eight flight mages, three officers, five enlisted, all wearing the black longcoat of someone who had taken the mage speciality in the Navy. The oldest member was forty-two; the youngest was fifteen. Average age was mid-twenties. Four Intelligent and four Armed Devices, higher quality than the average split.

Today, their job was to contain nearly fifty hostile mages, ranked from A to D. It wasn't very going well.

"Sir, we're not really doing much good here," one of them observed.

Samuel al-Faddil, Mage Commander, Officer In Charge Mage Team Seventy, dodged a beam attack and pulled back up to a higher altitude. "I noticed, Zeal. We're just here to herd them until Ground Forces gets its act together."

The convicts, soon hoping to be ex-convicts, were as aware as anyone that at the moment their only strength was in numbers. But they were never going to get away that way, and they knew that too.

"Leakers. Fiat, Altima, deal with them." Some of them had decided to make a break for it. The two indicated mages, a blond male and the youngest female on the team, herded them back into the main body with beam attacks.

Help then arrived, just not the help they had been expecting.

"One woman, that's crazy."

"That's a Wolkenritter, Mage Specialist. Focus." al-Faddil snapped back, and lead his team down to support.

Signum found herself with approximately fifty hostile mages about her, all Deviceless. While lethal force had been authorized if necessary, she did not yet regard the situation as that serious. Besides, if she had intended to kill them all, they would all already be dead. Schlangeform could have done it with ease.

She didn't bother with the usual Bureau spiel. They'd heard it before and they hadn't listened once already. So she set about reminding them why the Bureau was not to be crossed.

From the outside it was simply impossible to follow the senior Wolkenritter as she lashed out in seemingly all directions with blade, fists, and feet. Even so she might have been overwhelmed, but the Mage Team turned up too.

It took approximately five minutes to clean them all up. The last remaining convict dove at al-Faddil, who drew two fingers to his chest, just under his neck, then snapped them out into the man's face. "Nova."

After that, the last convict wasn't going anywhere for awhile.

All over bar the shouting. Or in this case, the reports. The Bureau of course wanted to know how this had happened and what had been done about it. Signum and al-Faddil both sat outside a hearing, waiting their turn to testify.

He wasn't a fan of Ground Forces brown. Such a thing went with his own service and wearing the black longcoat. Honestly, he didn't much care for Signum's Barrier Jacket either. She had great legs, sure, and it was great eye-candy. But Signum wasn't an eye-candy sort of woman. Simple raw power assured that no sane person would ever fail to take Signum seriously, but there were other reasons. Her professionalism indicated that she was very far from new to this, and not a woman to be trifled with. Her skill with her blade was a form of beauty in and of itself, a thing as near perfection as made no difference. From her previous testimony about dealing with another group that had attacked the capital al-Faddil knew Signum had the wisdom to know which problems required a more complex solution than her blade and the mind to solve them anyways. And, just to cap it off, Signum had the humility not to impose her will even when it was well within her means to. The senior Wolkenritter was, in a word, flawless.

That was the inherent contradiction al-Faddil saw in the Wolkenritter. As much as their appearance tried to grab your attention, you payed attention to their appearance only when indulging your inner moron. They had far too much depth to risk shading one's judgement with any reference to their appearance. Despite a lack of outward signs the Mage Commander could put a finger on, even the brief observation he had so far made was enough to establish there was a lot moving around under the hypercompetent surface. Thoughts, emotions, memories glimpsed for a moment, whose shape and size could only be guessed at. She was so ancient, had seen so much, that he honestly doubted he could entirely understand her perspective.

Was this, al-Faddil wondered idly, what looking into the face of a god would be like? To almost, but not quite, understand? The thought made him chuckle; though he'd grown up with the relatively mild form of Islam that his father practiced before and since joining the Bureau, it had gradually fallen away. Samuel al-Faddil imagined Signum would react poorly if he told her that he'd mentally compared her to a goddess, perhaps even if he had explained the context of it first. He had a suspicion that he might not be the first to do that either, though probably the first to do so in a fashion that wasn't completely backhanded.

Signum sensed he was looking at her. "Commander?"

"Nothing." The doors opened and they were beckoned in. The Mage Commander stood and offered the Wolkenritter a slight bow as a show of respect. "Lead on, Dame Signum."