Sorry I missed my update for February everyone. The job hunt is a pain in the ass. I haven't given up on anything. I'm just planning it all out.

The fun's beginning everyone, hang on.


"In national news, the recent disappearance of Inaba mayor Namatame Taro has officially been reclassified as a kidnapping due to his connections with last year's murders."

"Shamal, why do we have to listen to the radio?" Vita moaned from the dining room table.

"Because the last storm knocked out the cable and Lindy asked us all to be on alert in case of any problems." Shamal rummaged through the upper cabinet, standing on her toes to reach the higher shelves.

"Local police chief Dojima Ryotaro confirmed in a press conference that the mayor's disappearance is linked with the escape of convicted serial killer Adachi Tohru. Adachi, convicted of murdering political secretary Yamanno Meiyumi and high school student Saki Konishi, was serving thirty years when he mysteriously escaped from prison two weeks ago. Three prison guards were found unconscious inside his cell. They are currently in critical condition in Shibuya Central Hospital. Adachi Tohru is to be considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached under any circumstances."

"Jeeze, another wack-job on the loose?" Alyssa muttered.

"My dad said he was a police officer who went rouge." Nanoha announced.

"Well, I think that's quite enough of that." Signum entered the kitchen, pulling a towel turban off her head. She clicked the radio off and tossed the towel back into the bathroom.

"Took you long enough." Vita shouted, getting up and marching into the bathroom.

"Oh, I hope she's feeling ok." Suzuka sighed.

"Oh don't worry about Vita-chan, she's always crabby."

Around the Yagami family dining room table was what could be considered the "Usual Suspects" of Uminari City. Fate and Hayate were watching Vita disappear into the bathroom, Suzuka was helping Nanoha with her history homework, and Alyssa was hunched over a leather-bound tome whose pages were covered in arcane symbols and diagrams.

"Hey Nanoha, you said that your magic required a lot of math, right?" Alyssa asked, copying down a diagram into her notebook.

"Yes, though Raising Heart does a lot of the hard stuff."

"Mid and Belkan style magic use mathematical equations to determine proper energy output, trajectory, and shield displacement," Signum added, pouring herself a cup of coffee. "Its one of the reasons why flying is so hard. It requires so little math, but so much concentration, it's ranked as a B-plus ability by the TSAB."

"Hmm. It's really weird."

"A lot of the magic sensei is having us learn is focused more on willpower than math." Suzuka injected.

"Willpower, like fighting spirit?" Hayate asked.

Alyssa flipped through her book and came to stop on a page close to the beginning. "The one thing that unites all mages throughout the world is their use of energy. For some this energy is internal, known in Asia as Ki. However mages utilize the natural energy of the world. Though it goes by many names, it is often times simply referred to as 'raw magic' or 'mana'. The first skill any mage must learn is how to tap into their natural mana reserves and focus it into a spell. Though there are exercises to boost one's affinity for mana absorption, there are no shortcuts to finding that initial spark."

"Sensei was explaining that last night. All humans naturally draw in mana from the world around them, but the hard part is tapping into that reserve of mana for the first time." Suzuka told them.

"Hmm, that's different than how I learned magic." Nanoha injected, sighing at her homework.

"Are you ok Nanoha-chan?" Shamal asked. She brought over a tray of snacks and glasses of water for the girls.

"Yunno-kun and Chrono onii-san are going to be all right." Fate reached out and took Nanoha's hand. Hayate raised her eyebrows at Fate's reassurance.

"I keep telling myself that, but I'm just worried about them." Digging into her blouse, Nanoha pulled out Raising Heart. "I want to do more to help Yunno-kun. What good is my magic if I can't help my friends?"

Hayate began stroking her chin as Fate moved her chair closer to Nanoha. "You are doing a lot to help us here Nanoha. We all have jobs we need to do."

"Besides, I don't think you'd be helpful in America." Alyssa commented. Suzuka bopped her in the head with her pencil as Fate continued.

"I know it doesn't seem like much, but Chrono onii-chan told me a lot of stories where he was in a situation like this. And he has Yunno-kun with him. It hurts, but you need to have faith in them."

Nanoha looked up at Fate. "I'm trying Fate. I really am."

"There's nothing worse than watching your ally and friend fall in battle." Signum had finished her coffee and deposited the mug in the sink. "It's even worse when their fate is so ambiguous. In this situation, we can only hope and wait." She placed a hand on Nanoha's shoulder. "We're all worried about them. You're not alone." The thick silence was broken by the muted ringing of the telephone; answered by Shamal.

Nanoha sighed and squeezed Signum's hand. "Thanks."

"We'll find them." Nanoha nodded weekly as Signum walked away from the table.

"That was the cable company everyone," Shamal announced. "They said the cable should be back on."

"Study time over!" Alyssa shouted, slamming her book shut. She jumped up from the table and ran around to the couch. She picked up the remote and clicked the TV on.

"What are you so excited about?" Hayate asked, wheeling herself over to the living room.

"There's a special on the news about Fujiwara Zakuro and Risette. They're debuting their new song!" She quickly flipped through the channels before coming to stop at one in-particular.

The screen showed two teenage girls standing on a stage, swaying back and forth to a deep beat that resonated from the TV. One was a cute red-head with a heart-shaped face. Her hair was pulled back into a pair of pigtails which bobbed up and down in time to the music. The sequins on her pink and black blouse matched the sparkling smile she was broadcasting as she clapped her hands along with the beat. Her co-star was easily a head-and-a-half taller than her; her purple hair cascading down to her shoulders free of any bands or ornaments. Unlike the first girl, she only allowed a small, delicate smile show on her face, though her eyes seemed to shine with enjoyment. She held a microphone in one hand; snapping along to the song with her other.

"And that was Risette's new hit song, Never More."

"WE MISSED IT!" Alyssa shouted, tossing the remote in the air. The house lights came up as the song faded into the background to be replaced by the cheers of a live audience. The two starts walked over and joined what must have been the news anchor who was sitting at one of three plush armchairs.

"That was a fantastic performance. Thank you very much for showing us your new single Risette."

The red-head smiled. "It's the first song to a theme album I've been working on."

"Theme album?" The host asked.

"I spent a lot of time last year thinking about many things during my retirement. I had some good friends there to help me figure out just who I really was. One person in-particular helped me return to the stage."

"Is this the mysterious 'Sempai' we've heard so many rumors about?"

Rise stuck her tongue out as her smile grew bigger. "Sorry, but that would be telling."

The three of them began laughing at the joke as the host turned to the other star. "Fujiwara-san, how did you become involved in this?"

"Well, Kujikawa-san ran into me in one day and I must say it was quite the hit." Rise laughed to herself with the host laughing along with her several seconds later. "We began discussing some things and we discovered we had a lot in common. She told me about her idea for the theme album and I wanted to help."

"So all of the songs in this new album are written by you both?"

"Fujiwara-sempai and I wrote a few songs on our own, but most of them were co-authored."

"Hmm, I've never heard of a pop star writing their own music."

"I can't believe he just said that." Hayate groaned as the two pop stars half-laughed along with the joke.

"So the last stop on your return tour is tonight?" The host asked.

"Yup, Fujiwara-sempai is joining me on-stage for this one." "This should be a memorable night for all of Tokyo." "We're looking forward to making this a wonderful time for everyone involved." Fujiwara announced. "We hang on baited breath," the host commented, before turning to the camera. "Coming up next, the new sensation that's sweeping the nation. The phenomena of the American cartoon My Little – "

The host was cut off by Alyssa. "Well that's enough of that." The screen went black as she tossed the remote back onto the couch.

"I'm really glad Kujikawa-san is performing again." Suzuka said, clapping her hands together.

"I've never really listened to much of her music." Nanoha admitted.

"I've got a few of her albums, you can borrow them if you like." Alyssa offered.

Fate looked at Hayate. "Do you have any idea about what they're talking about?"

Hayate shrugged. "Pop idols are really common in Japan. I don't really listen to them all that much."

"You don't like their music?"

Hayate rubbed her legs self-consciously. "Mostly. But I just don't really relate to them that much."

Fate blinked. "Oh."

"But Hayate-chan is really pretty too." Fate and Hayate looked over to see the three girls looking at them from over the couch.

"You'll be walking really soon, won't you Hayate?" Suzuka asked.

"I heard they faked Risette's measurements anyway." Alyssa smirked, winking at Hayate.

"You need to do your best to make sure you're walking by the summer time," Nanoha announced. "We can all go to the beach during summer vacation."

"Do you really think our parents would go for something like that? I mean, five girls going to the beach on their own?" Alyssa commented.

"My mom said she wanted to take my family to Okinawa this summer. The more the merrier!" The five girls began to cheer at the prospect of a summer vacation in the south.

"Oye, why is everyone making so much damn noise?" Vita poked her head out of the bathroom, watching the five friends.

"Modivation," Signum replied. "What would you say to a vacation in the south this summer?"

"You're asking me about the summer when there's still snow on the ground?" The bathroom door slammed shut. Signum shrugged as she turned to help Shamal with the dishes.

The girls' excited revelry was halted by the sound of Fate's cell phone going off. "Oh, I need to get going. Lindy-momma wanted me to pick up some stuff from the supermarket."

"Zafira should be home soon, he can walk you home." Signum told her.

"No it's alright. I have Bardiche with me." Fate quickly began to pack up her books.

"Someone needs to walk you home." Signum insisted.

Fate pulled the yellow triangle out of her pocket. "Bardiche, engage Photon Shield."

"Yes Sir" The air around Fate began to shimmer with yellow light.

"I'll be fine." Before another word was uttered, Fate had grabbed her coat and darted out the door.

"Ugh." Signum began rubbing her forehead. "She's so stubborn."

()()()

The walk between Hayate's house and Fate's apartment was approximately ten blocks as the crow flies. It was a little bit after seven o'clock; the sun having set just over an hour ago. The sidewalks were all but deserted, with even fewer cars on the roads. It was strange to be out so late alone. Fate shivered in her jacket, goosebumps working their way down her back. It was strange to be seeing the twilight city from the ground rather than the sky. The buildings she normally soared over were instead imposing monoliths that seemed to fence her in. There was little wind; creating a still, somewhat unnerving atmosphere.

Fate whipped her head around, scanning for the person who had called her name.

She gulped in spite of herself. Her eyes scanned the area around her, trying to find the source of the voice. Her hand grasped Bardiche in her pocket, the activation word dying on her lips. Her head turned again as the voice calling her name seemed to echo around her. It seemed to grow clearer and louder as she turned toward an alley seemingly hidden between two buildings. And the louder it grew, the more familiar it became.

"Is, is that you…?"


I'm a doucebag when it comes to shit like this. I actually think I might be overusing cliffhangers like this. This is mostly some world-building crossed with a bit of character fleshing. Not developing, because nothing's changing.