Yes, I made a reference here to the difference between the TV and Blu-ray versions. See if you can spot it.
Incidentally, I invite everyone who is above age in your country of residence to take a shot every time I reference yet another magical girl series from here on out.
"If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the American Indians."
Time-Space Administration Bureau cruiser Arthra
Currently in high orbit around Non-Administered Planet #113
Beginning of first Shift
"Seeds, seeds, seeds," Lindy muttered, "Why is it always Seeds? Jewel Seeds, Greif Seeds, Seeds of Disaster, Seeds of Chaos, is there some sort of law that says magical superweapons need to have 'seeds' in their name?" She drained the last dregs from her tea cup and set it down.
Lindy sat in the captain's chair, watching the images on the screens around her cycle. They had feeds from a number of locations around the world, focusing on any magical signatures they could find, as well as more general images of governments, population centers, scientific research stations, and more than a dozen other aspects of this world's society.
"The culture of this world is pretty interesting," Amy said, "A little like continental Europe on Earth, actually, with a number of aspects of Japan. Slightly more advanced, of course, but not by more than fifty years."
Lindy looked over at Amy. "What? Oh, yes. Some interesting parallels there. We very well could be seeing Earth's near future here, or perhaps a precursor to Mid-Childa."
"It would be an interesting cultural study," Amy sighed. "A world as it develops and truly discovers magic." Her face fell. "Too bad that this world is already experiencing magical disasters."
"And unfortunately we're not allowed to take direct action," Lindy added, "This world isn't under a protectorate clause the way Earth is now, so all we have permission to do is sit here and watch."
"Do you think that these 'witches' of Mami's are the result of a Lost Logia then?"
"Even if this isn't the result of a Lost Logia's power but instead just this world's experiments in magic, it still has the potential to become very dangerous." She lifted her tea cup to her lips again, finding it empty. "What happened to my tea?"
"You drank it all, Lindy-san," Amy replied.
Lindy blinked. "Oh." She set the cup down.
It's been a while since I've seen Lindy-san this agitated, Amy thought, Not counting the Book of Darkness incident, it's been years.
Lindy sighed. "Just sitting back here doing nothing, it's like the Clow Card incident on earth all over again. God, what a fiasco that was."
Amy nodded in understanding. Yes, that had been just one big blunder. Dozens of powerful magical artifacts scattered across japan, and the Arthra's crew forced by their orders to simply sit by and do nothing. It was only after Lindy had pushed to give Earth a protectorate clause—a limited form of control which permitted TSAB intervention during Lost Logia crises on worlds that could not protect themselves—that they had been able to be of any use, and by then there was little they could have done. If it had not been for that one girl—Sayaka, or Sakura, or something like that—there was no telling how much damage they would have caused.
"We didn't have Nanoha and Fate back then," Amy pointed out, "They're both technically civilians, And Nanoha's not even a resident of the administered worlds yet. TSAB laws don't have the same 'word of god' weight they do with us. Plenty of deniability."
"Don't call it that," Lindy said, "That just makes it sound like we're doing something illegal."
"It's not illegal, Admiral. Nanoha and Fate wanted to help, and we really couldn't stop them."
"True." Lindy managed a smile at the thought of her adopted daughter and the girl who was that daughter's best friend. "They're good kids."
"They may not have a ton of experience, but their hearts are in the right place," Amy said, "If anyone can find a solution, it'll be them."
"Where are they now?"
Amy tapped several controls, bringing up an aerial view of the city where they had found Mami. "They teleported down a little while ago. Chrono agreed to stay here on alert in case he's needed. Mami said something about wanting to pick up a few things out of her apartment. Makes sense if she's going to be staying with us for any length of time. I'm glad we were able to convince her to stay on the Arthra with us rather than on the planet."
Lindy nodded. "I think we're all in agreement that if she's helping us that she needs to stay one of us. That was the agreement we made with Nanoha and Yuuno during the Jewel Seeds affair. " Lindy picked up her teacup again, then frowned into its empty depths. "Let's all hope that we can get this solved quickly."
"No arguments here, Admiral."
Non-Administered World #113
Planet's Surface, Mitakihara town
Local Time: 8:00 A.M.
Nanoha sipped her cup of tea contentedly as she looked around the beautiful room she sat in.
"This is a wonderful apartment you have," Nanoha said, "It's full of so many beautiful things. Mami's apartment was a two-bedroom one-bath flat. The furnishings were rather pretty in Nanoha's opinion; in some ways it reminded her of her family's café, Midoriya, though with a subtly alien flare in its style. The various paintings, vases and statues which lined the walls and shelves shared the same bizarre aesthetic; tasteful, yet belonging to another world from what she was used to.
"Thanks, Nanoha-chan," Mami replied distractedly. She was looking around the room, the slightest hint of a frown creasing her mouth.
"Something wrong, Mami-chan?" Nanoha asked.
Mami's gaze snapped back to Nanoha. "No, no, everything is fine. It's just funny, though. I could have sworn that I sold off most of these things for rent money," she gestured to the paintings and vases. She shrugged. "Oh well, I'm probably thinking of some other paintings, or getting the dates wrong. Maybe we came back to before I sold them off." Her eyes swept around the room, taking in every detail of the familiar space. "I'm still having a hard time believing that it's really a month and a half ago. There were so many changes that happened in that time, and all of it's gone just like that. It's almost like we went through it all for nothing."
"It must have been really hard on you," Nanoha said, "with all your friends and family in danger."
"Things should turn out better on this time loop. After all, we have a space ship full of mages on our side now."
Fate smiled. "The Arthra may not be the newest ship in the TSAB fleet, but it has some of the best people on it. I wouldn't trade them out for anything."
"Even so, It still amazes me you were able to take down Walpurgis Night so easily. The four of us threw everything we had at it, and we barely did anything."
"Well, honestly we were surprised ourselves. We expected it to have some sort of regeneration power after that first hit. But it just sort of fell apart after Fate and I blasted it."
Mami choked on the tea she had just begun to sip. She coughed. "Wait, what?! You're telling me that you two took it down by yourselves?"
Nanoha blinked. "Well, yes. We told you that, didn't we?"
"When you said you used 'bombardment magic' I thought that you meant you fired some sort of magic beam cannon thing from the Arthra in space."
"The Arthra only has one ship-mounted weapon," Fate explained, "The Arc-En-Ciel. And that's only used in extreme Lost Logia-related emergencies. It's so powerful that firing it at that creature would have wiped out this entire town as well."
Mami gulped. Was it possible that these people were so much more powerful than any of them? Mami forced out a little laugh. "Compared to you, it's like we're all kids with pop guns."
"I wouldn't say that the TSAB mages are necessarily more powerful than your kind," Fate mused, "It's just that our tech is more advanced and our magic more efficient." Mami looked confused, so Fate explained. "Think of it like the navy on this world discovering an island where people still fight with bows and arrows. Person for person, we're not necessarily better, just more advanced. Most of our spells blast the target with energy, almost like a mana laser. Nanoha's Starlight Breaker spell is especially efficient because it collects wasted mana from previous spells and uses it to bombard the enemy. Intelligent Devices like Nanoha's Raising Heart and my Bardiche speed up the casting process and make larger spells like that more practical in combat. But if we gave twenty of your Puella Magi the same Intelligent Divices that we have and the understanding how to use them then they would be indistinguishable from twenty Mid-Childan mages."
"Even if you say that, even four of us were nothing against Walpurgis Night."
"You did a lot more than you think you did, Mami-chan," Nanoha consoled her, "You left a lot of mana around where you were fighting, that's why my Starlight Breaker was so powerful."
"I wonder if I could learn to use magic like the two of you do," Mami mused, "If I could learn to do something like that Starlight Breaker spell, no witch would stand a chance."
"It probably wouldn't be too difficult for you to learn the basics of the Mid-Childan system, Mami-chan," Fate commented, "You already seem to be fairly used to casting magic."
"I don't know how good a teacher I'd be," Nanoha added, "but I'll try to teach you what I know, if you want."
"Really?" Mami smiled. "Thanks, Nanoha-chan! Please let me be your student!"
Nanoha smiled. "Great! We can start as soon as you're ready and…"
Nanoha trailed off. A cold shiver had run up her spine, just as it had a year ago each time one of the Jewel Seeds activated.
She looked over at her best friend. "Fate…"
Fate nodded. "You feel it too then?"
Nanoha nodded. "It's really close; I can feel it nearby."
Mami rubbed the ring of her soul gem nervously. "There should be a barrier somewhere nearby. Witches always have a barrier to protect themselves. We have to find it."
Fate set down her tea, then stood. "Let's go."
Non-Administered World #113
An alleyway near Mami's apartment
Local Time: 8:30 A.M.
"Here," Mami said, holding her hand out to what appeared to be empty air. "Just past here is the gate into the barrier."
Fate looked skeptically down "Are you sure?"
"The Barrier normally isn't visible from the outside. But this is where the energy is concentrated. And watch this." Mami tapped the spot, and an enormous glowing shape appeared for a second. "That's a Witch's mark. That's proof enough that something abnormal is in here."
Nanoha nodded "Alright, Raising Heart, please!"
The red gem which hung around Nanoha's neck blinked, then spoke. "Standby Ready. Set up."
Raising Heart glowed, then expanded into a staff unlike any Mami had ever seen. It looked more like something from a science fiction film, she thought, than a magical implement. Attatched to the side very near the head was what looked to her like a pistol clip, though there was nothing suggesting a gun barrel in the red and gold staff top. The glow then enveloped Nanoha's body, slightly changing shape. In a matter of two seconds, Nanoha was left standing in the white and blue dress. Beside her, Fate was undergoing a similar transformation. Fate's implement, what Mami could only assume was "Bardiche" looked much more like a weapon than Nanoha's staff, though it had the same angular, science-fiction stylization. Her outfit certainly provided more mobility than Nanoha's dress, but sacrificed a great deal of modesty.
Mami fingered her soul gem once again. She knew she did not have enough magic left to fight. In some ways she felt inadequate compared to her two companions. It was strange, she thought; these two were so much younger than her: still in elementary school. Yet they radiated a sense of confidence that she herself rarely if ever felt. Nanoha, it was true, looked slightly nervous, but Fate seemed calm to an almost impossible degree. It was as they were seasoned veterans to this style of fighting.
Mami cleared her throat. "On three. One, two, three!"
The girls felt the transition of entering the barrier before they saw any difference. The air around them had a different quality, a prickling charge that told of a strongly magical presence. Next was the difference in sound. The background noise of the outside world was gone, replaced by an eerie, somewhat unsettling soundscape. The sound of their feet reverberated in such an unexpected manner that so unnerved Nanoha that she began flying a few inches off the ground rather than walk. The scent of the air was floral, yet stuffy: as if they were in a greenhouse that had not been opened for a long time.
Her voice echoed loudly as she asked Mami, "What is this place?"
"It's a sort of maze that the Witch uses to protect itself. This whole area exists in a little pocket dimension. Normal humans that wander in here get trapped and end up becoming victims of the witch."
"So the longer it's here, the greater chance it'll hurt someone?"
"That's why Puella Magi are here. We destroy Witches and their barriers before they can hurt others. Ah, here we are, the middle."
The three of them rounded a corner. From here view over Fate and Mami's heads, Nanoha could see… Nanoha blinked, then rubbed her eyes. The bizzare, slightly choppy movement of the creature did not change. With the strange, distorted space of the barrier around her, it was difficult to say exactly what the creature's form actually was.
Mami pointed at the creature. "You have to kill it to make the barrier dissolve."
Nanoha nodded. At a mental request from her, Raising Heart reconfigured itself, setting itself up for combat magic. Pointing it toward the creature, a set of four glowing sphered appeared in front of Nanoha. As the four spheres streaked away from her, Raising Heart announced, "Axel Shooter."
The creature dodged three of the balls of energy one after another. It was not so lucky on the fourth, which connected solidly with its bulk. Turning toward its attacker, it flew at her in a rage. Calmly yet quickly, Nanoha raised her hand in front of her. In the next instant, the creature struck a glowing magenta circle which had expanded from her palm. A shower of magenta sparks erupted from the point of contact and after a few seconds the creature was thrown backward.
As if on cue, Fate rushed forward, Bardiche now in the form of a glowing energy-scythe. She slashed at the point where Nanoha's energy sphere had struck. The creature managed to dodge her slash, but found itself fleeing into the path of another volley of Nanoha's energy attacks.
Mami found herself awed by the coordination of the two. This did not look to her like two fighters using skills they learned as solo fighters for the sake of accomplishing a goal. That had been how they had tried to defeat Walpurgis knight. Nanoha and Fate were something entirely different. They worked as a pair, almost as a single mind. It was clear that they had experience fighting as part of a team; something which Mami was confident that not many Puella Magi had. Certainly she had been part of a team herself, but that had been brief, and they had not had much experience fighting as a group before Walpurgis Night came. What was more, Most of its members—Herself, Kyoko, and arguably Homura—had developed their skills fighting as solo vigilantes, and suddenly fighting with allies had been an entirely different experience.
The creature dodged another magenta blast from Raising Heart. Seeing Mami for the first time, it barreled toward her. "Look out!" Fate called to her. Bardiche's calm voice announced, "Hacken Slash"
Mami just managed to dive out of the path of the creature. A second later, a glowing crescent of light arced over her head to strike the thing.
Nanoha called over to her, "Are you alright?"
"I'm alright," Mami replied, "That was close though."
This isn't going to be easy if we keep having to defend Mami, Fate thought at Nanoha, the longer we fight, the greater chance that she'll be hurt accidentally. We need to finish this soon.
Nanoha nodded. I have an idea that might work. She briefly explained. Fate nodded that she understood.
Fate began a series of calculated attacks. Each strike left precisely one direction open for the enemy to flee, driving it away toward one side of the open area. Just a little more. If they could push it just a lttle farther, there would be a clean shot.
The creature dodged out of the way of Fate's strike into open air. Fate dove to the ground and sent a mental message to her best friend.
"Divine Buster!" Nanoha shouted. A blast of magenta light erupted from Raising Heart's end, engulfing the creature. Mami covered her ears and winced as a sound like shattering glass rang out through the space. The magenta blast continued, striking the wall, sending a shockwave outward and throwing up a cloud of dust which obscured everything.
As the dust cleared, the altered space of the barrier dissolved. Blinding sun cut through from above, revealing the alleyway that they had left when they entered the barrier.
Fate sighed. "It's over. We won."
Mami looked at the spot where the creature had just been killed. She searched, but found nothing. Her hand clenched into a fist. "It was just a familiar. No Greif Seed.
"We'll have other chances, Mami-chan," Nanoha said, offering Mami a hand up, "Don't you worry. We'll get a grief seed for you before too long. Don't worry."
Non-Administered World #113
Planet's Surface, Mitakihara town, Municipal Park
Local Time: 4:00 P.M.
Nanoha sat on the park bench, looking up at the trees and yet not looking at them. Today had given her even more to think about. She was beginning to understand what Admiral Lindy had said about this being a strange world. Ever since they had defeated the familiar, Mami had been withdrawn and quiet. These mages—these Puella Magi—their desire to obtain Greif Seeds went far beyond wanting to stop Witches from causing despair. It was like they were all the same as Fate was before they had become friends. Finding Greif Seeds was an obsession to them. Nanoha was not sure what that implied; she was too young. But she was certain that she did not like it.
"Hello there," Said a voice beside her. Nanoha jumped, and turned to see a girl with pink hair sitting on the bench next to her. It was difficult to place her exact age. Older than Nanoha herself, that much was obvious, but not quite Mami's age. And she was wearing the same Uniform as Mami did in her civilian clothes.
"Oh! Hello there!" she replied, "Nice day!"
"It really is. The birds are out."
"Do you come here often?"
"Oh, every now and then. What about you?"
"No. it's the first time I've been here."
"Are you new to the area? I've never seen you around the park before. Did you just move in?"
"I'm…sort of visiting," Nanoha replied. Something told her that saying anything about the Arthra or other worlds would be frowned upon by both the TSAB and Lindy. "I guess you could say I'm like a tourist. I'm with my best friend's family. We're visiting here together."
"Oh, how lovely! I didn't know Mitakihara got many tourists."
"Yeah…well…how about you? What brings you here today?"
"As a matter of fact, I'm waiting here for some friends of mine. We're all going over to one of their houses to have tea."
"That sounds fun! I have a friend back home that has a tea party whenever we come over. They have this clumsy maid, so something funny always happens."
The pink-haired girl giggled.
"Nanoha!" Nanoha turned to see fate waving to her.
Nanoha waved back as fate approached. "Hi Fate! What's happening?"
"Mother wants everyone back together. Chrono says he's almost done with his research and they have something important to tell us."
"Aww, we have to go already? But I just met someone!"
The pink-haired girl poked her head around Nanoha's skirt and smiled. "Nice to meet you—Fate-san was it?"
Fate's eyes widened. Once again, the image of the dead girl in pink flashed through her mind. She had seen the girl's face well enough to recognize its living counterpart in the girl that now stood before her. Despite the rational part of Fate's mind telling her that this was the past, that the events leading to this girl's death had yet to happen. Still, she shivered. It was all too much like it had been seeing Alicia's body for the first time. She mechanically returned the pink-haired girl's greeting.
"Something wrong, Fate?" Nanoha asked.
"It's…nothing," Fate lied, "Mother says she wants to see all of us."
"Coming," Nanoha replied. She took a few steps after Fate, then turned back to the pink-haired girl. "My name's Nanoha; Takamachi Nanoha. What's yours?"
The girl smiled. "Madoka. Kaname Madoka. It was very nice to meet you, Takamachi-san!"
Non-Administered World #113
Planet's Surface, Mitakihara town, Mami's Apartment
Local Time: 4:20 P.M.
Mami pushed open the door of the apartment, letting Madoka and Sayaka in behind her. Dropping her bag next to the triangular table, walked to the kitchen area before turning to face them.
"Please, make yourselves comfortable," Mami told them, "I'll make some tea."
Mami placed the kettle on the stove then chose a tea box from the collection on the counter as the other girls settled themselves at the table. She wished that she had not forgotten to wash her normal tea set. She would have to use the old china, which was really—
Mami frowned. All of the dishes were washed and back neatly in the cabinet. She knew she had left those dishes in the sink to wash them up later. What the hell?