Disclaimer: The Battle Fantasia Project does not own any of the licensed materials or related characters found within these pages. Akiko Yamaguchi and all related original characters are property of AngryDesu. All other original characters and concepts are property of their respective creators.
Battle Fantasia: Unity
Authored by AngryDesu and the Battle Fantasia Project
Hosted by Darth Artemis
It was strange that the only thing she could think about as the elevator rose was the question of if her mother had read her will yet. She had posted it through her parent's letterbox only an hour or so ago before she had gone and caught the train to central Tokyo. She wondered if her parents had even bothered to read the letter... or if they had simply tossed it aside like they had with her - their delinquent daughter.
She had quite a while to think on the subject as the elevator took a long time to reach its highest floor. Hardly surprising given it was located a good three hundred feet off the ground, half-way up the as yet incomplete Tokyo Sky Tower. She had chosen this place because it was prominent and being under construction meant that at this time of the day it was relatively abandoned. Admittedly she had needed to use every bit of her skill to sneak into the place to begin with but once inside she had been able to avoid most of the workers as they were clocking off for the evening.
Eventually the lift came to a stop and she was forced to walk the rest of the way up because the next lift was a construction one she couldn't work out how to use. The stairs would take her another three hundred or so feet up and were she a normal person she would have likely collapsed of exhaustion half-way.
But she wasn't normal - that was why she was here.
It didn't take her too long to reach the upper floors of the tower, not when she was capable of leaping up whole staircases in one jump. Even so she was panting heavily when she reached the top and the chained door which led out onto the sky high construction site that was building the tower ever higher. The chains and locks were pretty easy to get though and within moment she was standing outside on a vast ledge looking out over the city so far below.
Carefully she reached into a pocket and pulled out a pink cellphone. Earlier she had used it, unsuccessfully, to try and contact someone - anyone - who could convince her that her plan was one she shouldn't go through with... but that wasn't what she was going to use it for now. Staring out at the horizon she took a deep breath and dialed a number and held the phone to her ear.
There was no backing out now.
"Hello? Tokyo Police Force?" She said with a false cheer that simply did not match her dead-seeming eyes. "I'd like to report a suicide jumper. Yes, that's right. Uh-huh. Where?"
She sniffled slightly. "She's at the top of the Tokyo Sky Tower."
The call finished she closed her phone and raised one arm to wipe at her eyes with her sleeve. Then she opened her phone again and dialed in a new number.
"Is this the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation? I'd like to report a story in progress..."
It wasn't long until she heard the helicopters approaching; a quick check of her cell told her it had taken almost fifteen minutes. She smirked darkly at that, had she been here for the reason she had called them then they would have come too late... but she needed them, needed the cameras the news helicopter carried.
It was hard to explain why she hadn't just gone through with things, why she was putting on the big production she had in mind... but in the end it came down to the fact that she needed to be seen, needed to let everyone know.
It was the only thing she could do now.
She stood up from where she had been sitting against a wall, face buried against her knees. Picking herself up she took a few unsteady steps towards the edge of the ledge and wiped at her eyes and face with a now terribly damp sleeve. She winced slightly as both helicopters let loose with floodlights to illuminate her and a good chunk of the building she stood on.
She tried hard not to cringe in fear - she remembered the last time she had been blinded by bright lights like this... it was not a pleasant memory.
The police helicopter was yelling something to her over a speaker but she ignored it in favor of glancing down at her cellphone, which she had already set to pick up the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, or as it was better known the NHK, broadcast.
Though tiny it was easy to make out that what was on the screen was a live feed from the news camera.
The future, one way or another, was here.
It would be broadcast upon television sets all over the country watched by hundreds, even thousands of people - and with luck the video would hit the internet and be seen by millions.
Just as she had wanted.
She stepped forward, putting the edge of the ledge and the horrifyingly long drop beyond it literally an inch from her feet. The height didn't scare her as she had enough things she feared already, rather it represented an end to her fears - one way or another.
She twitched her fingers in preparation of her next move.
All around the country she hoped that people would watch as a teenage girl stood above a lethal drop. That they will take in the way her long black hair and baggy casual clothing whipped about in the high winds caused by the two helicopters hovering nearby.
Of course many would immediately dismiss her as some crazy or drug-addled person, she knew that - but as long as some people could be made to believe then she would be content. At least it meant that some people out there might have a chance when the Nightmare Factory began slaughtering their way to world conquest.
"My name," she yelled out, far louder than should have been possible, "Is Yamaguchi Akiko!"
Reaching out in front of her with one hand the girl, Akiko, concentrated for a brief moment. Almost immediately points of light seemed to spark up all around the girl where they hung for a moment before being drawn towards her outstretched hand. There they seemed to join together and mix into a shining mass which stretched itself into a thin shape before suddenly bursting outwards and fading into nothingness. What remained was a short silvery metal staff topped with what looked from a distance like a simple golden egg but up close appeared like a set of golden petals curled protectively around something.
"And I am a magical girl!"
Closing her eyes Akiko threw the staff-holding arm out to one side and, muttering under her breath, slowly swung her arm up and around to scribe a circle in the air with the end of it... As she did so her staff left a shining trail of light purple sparkles that was dense enough to appear as a solid line from a distance. Once the circle was complete the drew back her hand and staff before reaching out again and gently tapping the staff against what had previously been the empty air within the circle.
Only now it wasn't empty air anymore, instead it was a thick mass of purple lines and script packed so tightly together that it seemed like an almost solid wall of color. Pulling back once again the girl spared a moment to wipe at her eyes with her free hand... then viciously stabbed the end of her staff through the center of the circle - it stretched outwards as if made of rubber before the staff pierced through it.
The gold petals opened, a shining jewel revealed from within them that pulsed with light before letting out a bright flash which prompted the purple circle to return to it's original shape - albeit with the staff poking through the middle. Then the wall started moving, hitting the girl only to stretch and deform around her body. Finally it appeared to have stretched too much and it seemed to pop like a bubble.
People watching the news report would gasp at the sight of the girl. They would marvel at how her hair was no longer loose but done up in a tight pigtail that looped around her neck. Her watchers would be amazed at the fact that her clothes, previously a baggy sweater and sweatpants, had vanished only to be replaced with an elaborate purple and black costume that looked like it had come from a child's imagination.
Akiko hoped that this would be enough to make people believe in magic, she didn't really want to try any of her attacks as they tended to be on the... unpleasant side what with having been made to kill and kill and kill some more until she ran out of enemies.
She knew that many would of course laugh and say what an impressive trick it all was and comment on how amazing special effects or sleight of hand have improved over the years.
But... there would be some who wouldn't. Some who believed.
There just had to be!
"Born within the empty night," the girl continued, sniffling slightly, in a voice that was quiet yet somehow still overcame the noise of the helicopters. "To guard until the return of the light, my name is..." the girl's voice hitched as she seemed to suddenly choke up. "m...my name i-is... ma-magical guh-girl..." She froze and shook her head from side to side quickly before looking forward once more. "Magical girl," she yelled out, "Star Reverie!"
The news camera zoomed in then and for the first time people around the country would get good look at the girl's face - and the tears that she knew ran down it.
"I became this when I was eight years old!" She'd been so happy that day, when a tapir named Damarri had told her that she had been blessed with magical powers, that she was the one chosen to protect the world from the Church of Eclipse.
It was rather pathetic that the happiest day of her life had also marked the end of her happiness.
"I have been fighting evil alone every day since then!" She thought about the fights she had gone through, the endless almost daily battles... the injuries she had taken and the many sleepless nights lost to patrolling... the results of that constant fighting, being dropped from school for skipping so many lessons in order to save the world... being accused of delinquency, of drug taking and street fighting because of her constant injuries...
And in the end, being abandoned by her own parents - unable to keep putting up with her ill-deserved reputation and the rumors everyone seemed to be spreading about her.
"And I..." she choked up again, ducking her head and screwing her eyes shut in pain. "I... I'm not strong enough... to keep doing it anymore." she whispered, the magic she had cast right at the start enough to ensure even this quiet speech was clearly heard.
"I've lost everything I ever had, everything I ever cared about... and it's never stopped." fresh tears rolled down her face as she thought about the joy and relief she'd had when the Church had finally fallen. She cried as she remembered the despair that had run through her when the Bloody Carnival had risen to takes it's place with fresh plots and more vicious monsters... and how it had happened all over again when her final victory simply heralded the emergence of the Nightmare Factory.
"It never stopped! Do you hear me!" The girl screamed at the helicopters, "Every day! I thought it was over when I won and it wasn't! They just wouldn't stop! They wouldn't stop and I was all alone for seven years! Seven! Years!" She threw her staff around as she screamed, the end of it crackling with energy as her magic reacted to her emotions. "I can't take it anymore! I can't take how much it scares me! I can't take how much it hurts me! I can't take any of it!"
Around the country hundreds upon hundreds of television sets showed a girl simply breaking down on live television.
There were some watching who would dismiss her rantings as crazy talk, some who'd believe it to be a set-up or some kind of theatrical thing, still others who'd simply flip the channel to watch sports or something else - but there would inevitably be a good number who would look on in a mix of horror and sympathy.
But right now the girl had gone past caring about all that.
"I just..." the girl continued, sniffing loudly and calming down as she wiped at her face with one bare arm. "I just want it to stop."
She looked up at the helicopters, straight into the cameras of the news crew.
"I... I want..."
She clutched her staff in both hands now, her knuckles visibly tight as they gripped the metal shaft.
"I want someone to save me."
The girl edged forward slightly, until her toes were over the edge of the brick ledge.
"Because if there is no-one," she whispered, "If I am truly alone..."
Her arms fell to her sides and her head dropped.
"Then I... I just... I just can't anymore."
One foot was lifted and time seemed to slow down for everyone watching.
"If there is anyone else... then please..."
The foot swung forwards and started to come down as if taking a step into open air.
"... please... save me."
And then, she fell.
"Nanoha!" Fate yelled as her friend practically hurtled from the hotel room they had been sharing. Nanoha's family had been treating their daughter to an overnight visit to Tokyo and Lindy, being her current guardian had insisted on paying them to allow Fate to join their trip. Possibly she was fed up of how she and Chrono had been at each other's throats lately, or maybe she just wanted her to see the sights she had never been able to see before - she didn't really know.
What she doubted the Admiral had expected, however, was the live broadcast of a girl - a magical girl - throwing herself off the top of the tallest building in the city.
Nanoha, naturally, had decided she was going to save her but there was really no way for the girl to get there in time with her flight speed.
Fate made a decision.
"Nanoha!" she yelled, rushing out of the room herself, and heading straight towards the stairs leading to the roof of the hotel, stairs her friend was already running up. "I'll go! I'm faster than you! Bardiche!"
"Barrier Jacket. Sonic Form."
Fate's skin seemed to burn as she started hitting the absolute limits of her high speed flight spell. Normally the spell's friction-reduction field should have prevented that but right now most of the energy it would have been using was instead being used to protect her against high altitude ice and rain. At these kinds of speeds even this ice and water was hitting her like a thousand tiny lances... not a problem for a jet or other flying vehicle but painful and potentially lethal to a much squishier human mage.
Suddenly her path changed, angling almost straight down as she approached the suicidal magical girl from above. An odd angle, but one that was required as Fate knew there was no way to have snatched the girl out of the air without causing massive injury had she been approaching from a perpendicular angle. From a parallel one she would be able to match speeds with the girl, grab her, and then come to a halt.
At first this plan went pretty well. Fate caught up with the falling girl perhaps half-way down the unfinished building and it was not terribly difficult to maneuver close enough for her to wrap her arms around the girl.
That was around the time that she realized she couldn't stop. Not before she and the rescued girl hit the ground at least - they were simply moving far too fast and had far too little distance between them and a rather messy end. Though Fate was pushing almost all of her flight magic into deceleration it was blindingly obvious that this was simply not going to be enough. It didn't help that the girl she caught had begun clinging back and given she was bigger and seemed physically stronger Fate was finding it difficult to properly position herself for casting.
The girl was crying.
Fate could feel the girl crying, even if the speed they were moving at meant she couldn't hear much over the sound of wind whistling past.
The girl was crying and clinging onto Fate as if she were the only life raft in a vast empty ocean... which to that girl she probably was. That girl had admitted such loneliness, admitted such a great wish to simply be saved.
Like hell was Fate going to let her down.
Stretching one hand, the one holding her Device, towards the oncoming ground the young ace screamed as a trio of golden barriers exploded into existence in front of her. Invisible bands of magic connecting her to the barriers meant that the moment they appeared the two falling girls felt a gut-wrenching shock as the barriers instantly acted like makeshift parachutes. Without the inertial dampening effect of Fate's flight spell the shock would have likely ripped them in two...
Even after that sudden deceleration they were still falling insanely fast but now her barriers were up Fate was sure they would survive the fall.
... It wasn't going to be pleasant though.
In the end it was mostly down to luck that the ground beneath the tower was thankfully clear of people - luck and the fact that Akiko's televised appearance had caused a number of people to move back in the hopes of seeing the top of the tower better.
Everyone else in the way just ran like hell when Fate's magic all but lit up the evening sky. It was a good thing that they did too as those great shields of hers hit the ground like a speeding truck hitting a wall. The first shield exploded as it attempted, and failed, to convert all that kinetic energy into the somewhat safer forms of light, heat and sound. The second fared no better as it too burst upon impact, ripping up the already smashed concrete ground and sending great chunks of debris flying in all directions...
It would have been a massacre had it not been for Bardiche, its thought processes working many times faster than Fate's, throwing up an inverted yellow protection field. A good number of the spectators were highly relieved to find lumps of concrete bouncing off a thin yellow wall which was, in some cases, mere inches away from them. Not that this stopped the screaming, pointing and general panic of the crowd... but at least it meant none died or were injured from the crash landing.
Finally the third of Fate's shields hit the ground and this one, thanks to the masses of energy channeled away by the first two, was able to hold and bleed off the remaining kinetic energy. By the time it finally faded away Fate and her passenger were moving slow enough that the blonde girl was able to come to a safe halt... or at least one that didn't result in serious injury of death.
"Bardiche..." the young girl murmured, her heart pounding like mad, "... well done."
"Yes, Sir." Fate almost laughed slightly at her device's reply - except before she could she heard the rumbling of the crowd around her. People pointing and calling out with questions, congratulations, denials and other things that she simply didn't want to deal with. She knew that when Admiral Lindy heard of all this she was going to be in enough trouble already. Thankfully if there was one thing she had learned from Nanoha's friends it was that when in trouble - say nothing if you didn't want to make things worse.
With an affirmative from her device a new yellow dome sprang up. Unlike the first this was a more traditional use of the spell - as members of the crowd found out when they bumped into it and found the thin field to be harder than steel. Unfortunately the spell didn't protect against the flashing of cameras, nor would it protect against those people holding up cellphones and camcorders in order to record the event.
She did her best to turn away from the cameras and to cover her face with one arm... but the girl clinging to her made that difficult and she half suspected that they'd already taken a good shot of her face already.
Oh but Lindy was going to be so angry at all this... and that would be before one factored in the masses of TSAB regulations she had just broken in the saving of this girl.
She'd be lucky if she got off with life imprisonment!
But as she looked down at the still hysterical girl, who was sobbing and crying like mad in between bouts of mostly incoherent babbling... She found she rather didn't care. Prison or otherwise - she was sure she had done the right thing.
There were reporters now. Actual television reporters with cameras and microphones and some snazzy suited person giving a report as they stood a little way outside of Fate's barrier. It seemed as if these reporters were those who had been unable to ride the helicopters from earlier and had been sent to cover the original story from the ground...
Fate wondered for a moment how annoyed those in the helicopters must be now that the real story had turned out to be happening down here instead. Privately she was all but screaming telepathically for Nanoha to just plain hurry up. She didn't have the energy to get away with this rescued girl on her own, not after almost burning herself out getting here at speeds faster than she'd ever flown before. It didn't help that what energy she had tried to save for extraction had ended up being put towards making sure they landed in one piece instead.
She was never planning to fly that fast again.
Not until she had practice stopping without blowing great big craters in the ground at least.
A commotion from the crowd pulled her out of her thoughts and, seeing a few people pointing and one of the cameramen aiming upwards, she smiled slightly.
She concentrated for a second, sending a thought up into the skies. "Nanoha?" Then she frowned slightly. "You're late."
"Eh? Late? But I was going as fast as I could! " Fate almost giggled at the panicked tone of her friend, but she held it back - wary of attracting the reporter's attention again. Then she shook her head and returned to the seriousness of the situation.
"Nanoha, I caught the girl - she's safe... But I'm stuck; I burned up too much power to risk teleporting with her. "
"What about flight?"
"She's in too much of a state... I don't think I can keep hold of her on my own if she panics in the air."
"I'll be right down!"
The murmurs of the crowd grew louder as more people pointed up at a pink light that was rapidly - though no-where near as rapidly as Fate - descending from the sky. The blond winced slightly as she saw almost every camera, phone and camcorder rise up to watch as her friend came down. With Nanoha's white barrier jacket and the bright pink wings from her flight spell it was easy to imagine the girl's entrance being a rather striking sight... and one that was sure to get them both in trouble with Lindy when they got back.
"Um, excuse me!" When Nanoha called out to the crowd Fate almost, almost, smacked her free hand's palm to her face.
"What are you doing?"
"Ah, being polite?"
This time Fate did smack her palm against her face.
Above her, still floating above the transparent yellow dome of Fate's protection spell, Nanoha took her time in bowing politely to the assembled crowd. She even went as far as to do this a few times in different directions in order to bow to everyone.
Fate merely tried hard not to groan. The longer both of them, herself and Nanoha, were being filmed the greater the chances that someone would be able to identify them. All it would take would be for someone in Uminari to be watching the news reports at the right time and... Well, that would be that. People would start to investigate. Maybe even notice that her background information didn't exactly line up - and neither would that of Lindy, Amy or Chrono.
She was going to be in such trouble when she got home...
"Excuse me!" Nanoha called out from above, apparently oblivious to the distress of her friend below. "Could everyone move back please?"
Surprisingly the crowd, or at least some of it, did. Only a handful of reporters stayed in place as they faced their own cameras and spoke rapidly into the lenses as Nanoha frowned ever so slightly behind them all. Suddenly she was forced backwards in surprise as one of the reporters spun in place and thrust a microphone up in her direction.
"Miss!" The reporter yelled out, "Who are you! What are you! This girl claimed to be a magical girl, are you one too! What do you plan to do with her now you're here! Why have we never seen you or anyone like you before!"
"A-ah.." The young girl backed away, clearly distressed by the deluge of questions now being leveled at her. Fortunately it was but a moment before her worldlier - and angrier - friend came to her aid.
"Will all of you just shut up!" The reporters looked down as Fate, who had managed to pull herself to her feet along with the girl she held, roared out at them all. "We're taking this girl to get help - and you're all in the way! So move!" She glared at the reporters, then grimaced slightly as she received a mental nudge from Nanoha who, even now, was firmly insistent on being polite. "... please!"
Those that were still close to the protection bubble drew back at Fate's angry plea except for one reporter that soon found themselves quite literally dragged backwards by a trio of police officers who had been part of the crowd. A fourth officer, clearly the trio's superior, remained near the bubble and stared at both Fate and the girl she had hanging off her shoulder. After what seemed like several long moments he nodded, then turned and started yelling orders for his men to keep people away and start roping the area off. Behind him Fate sagged slightly and let her spell drop, the yellow bubble quickly fading away into nothingness.
Immediately Nanoha landed and slid around to slip herself under miss Yamaguchi's other arm, hefting the girl's weight as best she could on her shoulders. By now the girl seemed to have calmed down some... though rather worryingly her hysterics appeared to have been replaced with simple shock as she now hung, like a dead weight, between the two smaller magical girls.
Finally, to a chorus of exclamations, yelled questions and a sea of camera flashes, the two girls - with their almost comatose patient - rose into the air.
Lights passed by below. White, orange, yellow... and then the giant billboards and illuminated signs the so characterized the big city of Tokyo. To Akiko they looked like some kind of vast sea of multicolored stars that swam in and out of focus.
It was quite possibly the most beautiful sight she had ever seen...
It was the second most beautiful sight she'd ever seen.
The first had been more... red.
They had been a girl's eyes. Eyes that had looked upon her in concern and worry. Eyes that had promised safety and reassurance.
Eyes that belonged to the person who had saved her.
More than that she didn't really know – everything had been a big sort of blur that began from the moment she had stepped off from the edge of the tower. She knew she had been crying, she still was in fact, and she was vaguely aware that she was still mumbling things but... she just couldn't stop. Someone was finally listening to her!
Someone was actually there to listen!
No-one had ever even tried to listen to her before!
Someone... someone had listened and heard her when she had asked for help and... and they had come to save her.
They had come to... to save her.
It... for the past few years something like that had been nothing more than a hope, a tiny dream.
And now... Now it had come true.