A/N: Yes, it's been a while. Be glad you're not waiting for updates to Raikiri Triken…
Thirty Xanatos Pile-Up
by Shadow Crystal Mage
Chapter 7: Breather Episode
Disclaimer: I own none of these series. All of them belong to their respective owners. Some have probably been mutated beyond recognition. Please don't sue me.
The books flew past me as I ran, Yuunagi in my hands, the weight of the sword bringing me no comfort. To either side, the trumped up nannies followed, surprisingly managing to keep up. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered but Konoka. She was in danger, and once more dishonor piled upon me. Foolish. I should not have gotten careless. It should not have believed that just because we were in the library that Konoka would be safer. Why did I forget that the Library Exploration Club was a level B-plus-plus organization? Oh, Konoka! What danger are you in, trapped beneath the bowels of the Earth, far from home? With none else to turn to, will you finally succumb to Asuna's advances, baring yourself to her and allowing her to touch your pale, smooth, silky skin, and–
"All right, Sakurazaki-san, I think that's more than enough monologue-ing," Signum interrupted, running behind the girl. "Isn't that supposed to be an inner monologue?"
"And due to the understandable stress upon you, we are willing to overlook your calling us 'trumped up nannies," Saber said. There was a glint in her eye. "This time."
Setsuna glared at them, shutting off her tape-recorder. "This is no time to be flippant!"
"We weren't the ones recording a film noir monologue," Signum pointed out. She narrowed her eyes and looked head of them. "Ah, here we are."
She slowed down, and Saber followed suit with some confusion. Setsuna cursed, but did so as well. She really had no idea where she was going, after all.
Signum eyed the bookshelf critically, then pulled out a rather thick book entitled "What To Do When Contact Is Lost With A Team And A Slightly Unstable Stalker Insists On Mounting An Immediate Rescue Mission While Having A Monologue", and opened it. Inside was a big red button. She pressed it. Nothing happened. She put the book back on the shelf.
Saber and Setsuna jumped as several bookshelves lid upwards, revealing several racks of weapons, armor, food, climbing gear, supplies, a vending machine, several bunk beds, and a map. There was an arrow that helpfully said, 'You are here' and 'Exit'. Setsuna and Saber's jaws dropped.
"What the heck?" Setsuna exclaimed.
"Nodoka-chan brings me along on exploratory missions," Signum explained, eyeing the racks, and selecting a classic long sword, testing the swing. Then she began picking out from the armor, pulling on a Kevlar and Ballistic Plate reinforced chainmail shirt. "Help yourself, but remember to sign off on the equipment. It's Library Club Property."
Saber considered this, and began helping herself to some plate armor and an enormous bastard sword.
"Are you kidding me?" Setsuna growled.
Signum grabbed a Handy Haversack and thrust it at her. "Make yourself useful and load up on medicines and bandages, will you? And food. We'll need food."
Setsuna glared, but sulkily began to comply. She paused as she found a bottle mark 'Last Elixir'. "Huh. So this is where Yue gets her drinks…"
In the deepest part of library island…
Negi woke up slowly. The sound of water lapping against a shore washed through his ears, slowly lulling him from dreams of being a rutabaga (don't ask). He felt exhausted and beaten to within an inch o his life. It was not unlike how he'd felt after the Grail War ended.
"Ugh…" he heard someone groan. "Did anyone get the name of the tsunami that hit me?"
"Ah… Set-chan… don't, someone will see us…" someone else muttered.
"Ah… Aunt Miko… it's so tight…" someone else muttered.
"Ah… Nodoka-chan… take me…" a third muttered.
Negi jerked awake the whole way, instinctively making he wasn't hip-deep in someone. Nope, he wasn't in anyone, though everything was up and running, so to speak.
Trying to think of Twilight to calm down, he looked around as the girls slowly began to wake up. "What is this place?" he asked looking around at the deep pools of water, the shelves full of books, pillars of tree roots, and what looked like buildings in the distance.
"This place is below the library?" Makie exclaimed, looking around.
"It's incredible we survived, considering how high we fell," Kaede observed, opening one eye slightly, her Sharinnegan spinning slowly as she scanned the area before closing her eye again. "And why's it so bright? The walls are glowing."
"Oh, that's perfectly normal library ecology," Yue said, reaching into her bag and drawing out a Dessert Eagle and sliding the mechanism, then slipped it into her holster. "Be sure to keep an eye out everyone, there might be Mimics about."
"What?" Negi said, alarmed.
"Nothing to worry about sensei, just don't touch any treasure chests you see. They'll eat you."
Asuna paused, stared at that treasure chest she was kneeling in front of, and slowly backed away.
"Where are we?" Nanoha asked worriedly, looking around frantically.
Yue hummed. "There are legends about these places… I believe we are in one of the legendary underground reading room oases. Its underground, but designed to fill you with warmth light and peace… A paradise for book lovers!"
Yue turned to look at them, a scary look in her eyes. "The story goes that anyone who see these places never return alive…"
"WHAT?-!" Makie cried.
"Wait, if they died, who lived to tell the story?" Vita asked.
"Good point," Konoka said. "Let's hope you're right… presuming we find a way to get out of here."
"This is crazy!" Akane cried. "See, this is what you guys get for trying totake a shortcut to studying! At this rate, we'll miss the test entirely!"
Ku, Kaede, Asuna, Yue and Makie brightened at the thought.
"That's a bad thing!" Negi reminded them.
The five slumped. "Oh, yeah…" they sighed.
"Forget the test!" Akane said. "What if we never get out? Oh my god! I'm going to die!"
"Now, now, calm down," Negi said. After all, he'd been in more immediately life threatening situations during the Grail War. He was good at keeping calm. "Worrying ourselves sick won't accomplish anything."
"RANMA!" Akane cried. "GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE!-!-!-!-!"
There was silence as everyone sweatdropped and Akane listened intently. "Damn it," she sighed, wilting.
Asuna patted her on the back. "Don't worry. My brother isn't as awesome as I am. It's expected he wouldn't just suddenly appear out of nowhere to rescue us."
Akane sighed. "Yeah, I suppose not. I'm mean, he's not a girl like us. He can't be expected to be as awesome."
Saotome Ranma looked down at himself. "I have breasts…" he said numbly. He reached up and squeezed. "Yup, I have breasts."
She looked at her red bracelet. She looked down at Defenestrated Hamster. She wrapped her arms around the Entrail Animal and held it close, tears coming to her eyes. "Thank you…" she cried.
She dashed around herroommate and locked the door to the bathroom. This would be a while...
His roommate Katsuragi Keima didn't notice a thing, too busy playing his dating sims to give a damn about the Real. He frowned at an email he'd just received. To the God of Conquest; I have heard rumors that you can conquer any girl…
Slightly incensed at the seeming provocation, he clicked 'reply'…
2-A was having a perfectly normal morning. Get up, indulge in their own particular early morning fetishes, wash up, get dressed, rush to class, hear a voice over the P.A. system announce the Angels were attacking…
Whoops! Wrong fic!
Seriously, let's not go there.
As the girls of 2-A milled about doing their own thing as they waited for class to start, the door suddenly slid open, and Nodoka rolled in, Haruna pushing her wheelchair. "Everyone, we've got trouble!"
Ayaka sighed. "Did Asuna have another panic attack because she almost got wet and started accusing the fountains of being minions of evil? Again?"
"Worse!" Haruna cried.
"Setsuna and Tsunetsuki-san are having another stalker-off?" Asakura suggested.
"No, Tsunetsuki-san's between DEEP LOVES right now," Sakurako said.
"You walked in on Kaede-nee in a compromising situation!" the twins gasped.
"No, none of that!" Haruna cried. "Negi-sensei and the Baka Rangers, Nanoha, Vita-san and Akane are trapped in Library Island!"
There was a moment of stunned silence.
"Those lucky bitches!" Misa cried, aghast. "Sakurako, what happened to your luck? Why aren't you in on this?"
"My luck has failed me!" Sakurako wailed.
"My," Chizuru said, her bracelet clattering as she raised a hand to her cheek. "This is quite a development."
Ayaka stood on her desk, pointing dramatically before her at nothing in particular. "Negi-sensei needs us! 2-A, prepare to mount a rescue party! We will enter the deepest depths of the underworld to return Negi-sensei to us!"
"And our other classmates too, right?" Natsumi said.
Ayaka huffed. "Oh, very well, if we really must."
A teacher entered the room. "Miss Yukihiro, please don't stand on your desk."
She hastily got down. "Sorry, Oliver-sensei."
The American put his things down on the desk. "I've been asked to substitute for Mr. Springfield. Please open your books to… ah… everyone wait here while I go get my book from the office…"
"I wonder where Saber and Negi are?" Rin mused as she lay in bed. "It's not like them not to come home…"
Next to her. Illya pouted. "Darn it Negi-kun!" she whined. "I need my Negi-kun injecton!"
"We all need our Negi-kun injection," Rin groused. "Thank goodness you have two maids…"
Sella and Leysritt, it should be mentioned, were doing this of their own free will and very much enjoying themselves. The reason the other two were currently coherent was because they were having an oxygen break…
"All right everyone!" Negi called to them. "don't worry, I'm sure we'll find a way out of here and back home soon enough… somehow! In the meantime… let's study for the test!"
It didn't get the reaction he hoped for.
"W-what?-!" Ku cried.
"Now everyone, you want to be ready for the test when we leave here, don't you?" Negi said.
"Isn't that a little overly optimistic, Negi-sensei?" Konoka said.
"N-no, Negi-kun's right," Makie said. "After all, it's why we're here, isn't it? To pass the test? Granted, we lost the book, but…"
"Hey, that was your fault!" Asuna cried, pointing at Makie.
"Is not!" Makie shot back. "Everyone knows if you're asked for the flight speed of an unladen swallow, you ask what kind!"
Negi was nodding. "Makie-san is right! She gave the correct answer. It's not her fault the golem cheated. "
"It occurs to me," Saber said philosophically, "that being a librarian is hardly an appropriate occupation for a young lady. In fact, it is hardly an appropriate endeavor for us, and we are experienced, battle-hardened warriors."
"I believe it speaks very highly of Nodoka-chan that she does this despite her disabilities," Signum said, reaching for a grenade and tossing it around the bookshelf they were using as cover. The grenade exploded, and there was a roar as the Thesaurus was caught in the blast.
From above, Setsuna attacked the giant carnivorous dinosaur as planned, shouting, "For Akamatsu, Konoka and Mahora!"
Hibiki Ryouga woke up and noticed two things. One, he was a girl. From the feel of things, she was wearing perfectly ordinary pajamas, which was tame by fetish fuel standards. He'd once transformed and ended up in nothing but a whipped cream bikini with strawberry nipples. A good thing too, since he'd been starving.
Two, there was a tray of food next to her, still warm, as well as a folded note.
Will be back after classes. There's more food in the fridge, help yourself. – Ayaka XOXOXOXOXO
As Ryouga wondered how you were supposed to pronounce "XOXOXOXOXO" and who would be cruel enough to give that name to a perfectly nice girl like Ayaka, memories of the last couple of days came back to her. "Damn you Saotome!" she growled. "Framing your own brother for your crimes by stealing his identity! Is there no low you will sink to? I swear, I shall not rest until this injustice has been answered for!"
Having set up her motivation for the rest of the fic, Ryouga chowed down. The food was actually pretty good.
It was after classes, and people stared curiously at the group of students at one of the tables, wondering if there was a field trip going on. But no, these students were wearing Mahora uniforms, so it couldn't be that…
At the more-or less front of the group was a girl with long blonde hair, a horse whip and a bullhorn. In deference to the fact she was in a library, the bullhorn was turned off. "All right, 2-A," she snapped as loudly as she dared. "At about 2300 hours last night, the Baka Rangers, our esteemed teacher Negi-sensei. Tendo Akane, Takamachi Nanoha and Nodoka-chan's relative Vita-san disappeared into library island. Our mission, and you girls will be accepting it, is to locate them, get them out, and make sure they study for the final exams on Monday!"
There were muted cheers. No one wanted to be on the wrong side of the Library Exploration Club and its ninja librarians.
"Now," Ayaka said as Nodoka, Shamal and Haruna set up another Mission control behind her, pointing at a map they had set up previously. "Contact was lost here. They were supposedly going for a magic book that raises intelligence–"
"There's a Tome of Understanding here in the library?" Fumika gasped.
"That joke was already done last time," Haruna told her. "Let's not repeat it, shall we?"
"As we are in a rush, we shall take a short-cut through here," Ayaka said, gesturing at a part of the map.
Nodoka gasped. "No Iinchou, you mustn't! That's the most dangerous section of the library, with encounters of at least ECL 20! The darkest, most evil books in the world are stored there!"
"What, like the Necronomicron?" Madoka asked.
"Worse!" Nodoka said. "Stephenie Meyer Novels… Anne Rice Books… Laurel Hamilton… Ishihara… even…" Nodoka shuddered. "Self-insert Lemons and Tomahawk fanfics!"
Everyone blanched in horror, turning stark white. Only Haruna looked unimpressed.
"Hey, it's not that bad," she said. "That's where my doujins are filed…"
"IINCHOU, THIS IS A SUICIDE RUN!" the cheerleaders wailed as loudly as legally possible in a library.
Ayaka gave them all a determined look. "I realize the Acererak wing of the library is incredibly dangerous–"
"Iinchou, please think this through!" Nodoka pleaded. "You're talking about the Shelves of Horrors!"
"Nonsense!" Ayaka dismissed. "It can't be that dangerous! It's a library wing!"
Nodoka stared at Ayaka, then hung her head. If she'd had a hat, she'd have taken it off. "I see there was no talking Iinchou out of going through the shelves," she said. She wheeled over and patted Ayaka's hand. "You were a good class-rep, Ayaka-san. I'll put flowers on your grave, if we ever recover your body…"
Ayaka gave the girl a sideways look. "Why did you just refer to me in the past tense?"
Nodoka just gave her a haunted look, sniffed, dabbed the tears from her eyes and turned away.
Chizuru laughed gaily, moving up to step next to Ayaka. "Now, now Ayaka-chan, I'm sure it's nothing serious. Look, I'll go with you, how about that?"
Ayaka stared at Chizuru, the latter wearing her usual cheerful expression, and turned to the others. "All right, as I see you all have strong feelings about this, I will take only volunteers. Who's with me?"
Most of the class took a sharp, deliberate step back. Ayaka found herself staring at Chachamaru, Zazie, Chao and a surprised Akira.
"Welcome aboard the mission to rescue Negi-sensei girls!" Ayaka said cheerfully. "Thank you for volunteering!"
"Um, well, I suppose as long I'm here…" Akira said, looking over her shoulder as if she had expected people to step forward rather than leaving her behind. She seemed genuinely surprised. Chachamaru nodded in assent, while Zazie just stood there, a vague expression on her face.
"Eh, this could be good fun!" Chao said. "I've been meaning to try out a few gadgets I've invented. This will be a good test run!"
Ayaka nodded and turned to Haruna. "Well, I guess this is our party, Haruna-san! Take us to the shelves!"
Haruna saluted. "Aye-aye, captain! Just let me get my gear"
As she raised off, approaching footsteps could be heard, and Saotome Ranma jogged into view, clutching his cell phone. The poor boy looked horrible. He was sweaty and his face was flushed, no doubt from worry and having to run all the way to library. The first two fingers of his right had were twitching, and from time to time he touched his chest. Perhaps something pained him.
"Yukihiro-san!" he appointed, and from the sound of it he'd been panting for a while. "What happened to Akane-chan and my sister?"
"They got lost in library island," Ayaka explained. "But fear not, Saotome-san! I promise you that I, in my capacity as class representative, will do everything in my power to get them back alive."
Somehow, Ranma looked less than comforted. "I'm coming along too!" he insisted.
Ayaka looked at him skeptically. He wasn't the martial artist Asuna was– like Akane, it was more of a means of exercise and self-defense for him, not a way of life– but he looked determined, and she nodded agreement."Welcome aboard, Saotome-san!"
"Someone call my– oh, hey cousin," Haruna said. Truthfully, they weren't really related, but the joke had stuck ever since they'd met.
"Haruna…" Ayaka asked.
"Why are you carrying body bags?"
Haruna looked innocent. "What? They're convenient for storing a lot of stuff in."
Ayaka gave her a suspicious look.
Ayaka sighed, and pointed her horsewhip dramatically. Since she really wasn't sure which way she was going, it was pointed at a vending machine. "Onward, 2-A and related personnel! Let's get our people back!"
As they started walking, Haruna leading the way, Chizuru walked next to Ranma. "My, what a nice bracelet you have there, Ranma-san…"
- To be continued...
A/N: I'm wondering whether I should make it officially part of this fic that Linith, as a last request, signed Precia up for grief counseling…
If I time it right, she should stop being such a jerk to Fate about midway through original season arc.
Yes, part of the library consists of the Tomb of Horrors. The ORIGINAL one. I went to a LOT of trouble to get a copy of the original module to do that. Talk about DOING THE RESEACH…
Ranma, skill and experience-wise, is equal to Akane in this story, and Akane is a bit less than she is in canon, due to being a more relaxed person in this fic. And yes, Ranma might later show his innate talent for martial arts, but this story isn't about him!
Was going to show Ranma and Chizuru's weapon this chap, but ran out of inspiration. See you next year!
Please review, C&C welcome.
Until next time, this is Shadow, signing off.