For Zafira (6/12 - 12/13)
He was a good cat.
I find it necessary to add a forward. Lyrical Witch diverges strongly from the Harry Potter canon...eventually. That eventuality is the first chapter of Book Two. The following story, Book One, follows canon closely. Its purpose is to establish the relationships between new characters and old, between the TSAB and the Wizarding World. In Book Two, you'll see events take a radically different turn from anything Rowling wrote and things will only get stranger from there, but this part of the story...well you've been warned, ne?
Needless to say, certain chronologies need to be finagled so they match up properly. This was obviously a delicate task requiring tact and subtlety, so I gave the job to Vita. Anyone who has a problem with how the dates match up can take their complaints to her.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and the School of Witches; Lyrical Witch One
Chapter 1: Assignment Near and Far
My name is Nanoha Takamachi, and I used to be an ordinary kid. Then, about a year ago, I met a talking ferret and got these magical powers. I've made a lot of really good friends since then and helped a lot of people. They're all a little distant right now, but nothing ever keeps us apart for long.
Nanoha smiled at the little red jewel on the park bench. "Ready?"
"Ready, my master," the mechanical voice reported.
Nanoha smiled and gently tossed an empty can into the air. She then held her hand out straight, palm up. "Lyrical," she whispered under her breath, focusing. She felt the pink circle form under her feet and ran through the mathematical equations that described a single, highly agile sphere of energy the approximate size of a golf ball. Dispensing with an incantation, a pink ball appeared in her palm and drifted to her finger. She pointed up at the sky. "Divine Shooter! SHOOT!"
The magic bullet launched from her finger and impacted the can, sending it spinning and arresting its downward fall for a few seconds. "Control," Nanoha muttered. "Accel." The bullet blurred and traced a path around the can, hitting it several times a second and going higher all the time.
"Twenty seven," Raising Heart counted. "Thirty four. Fourty."
Nanoha's other hand came up. "SHOOT!" The cry ripped from her throat and a second bullet rocketed skywards.
"Fifty six. Sixty eight. Eighty four."
Nanoha's face became a grimace of concentration and a little pain. No help from Raising Heart. No cartridges. The multiple perspectives taxed her focus. She couldn't let the bullets hit. She couldn't hit the can with the same bullet twice in a row. And she had to do it as quickly as she could.
"One hundred ten. One hundred twenty five. One hundred forty."
She couldn't hit the can too hard. Denting it would be bad. Faster. Softer.
"One hundred eighty six. Two hundred."
Nanoha nearly collapsed and took a breath. "Final set!" she called. One arm swung down wide while she snapped the other to her side. Far above, the bullets mimicked the move. One started a loop, the other impacted the can and discharged, rocketing it straight down.
Nanoha's eyes were still closed and she saw the constants and variables in play. Mass, energy, gravity, acceleration, air density, cross winds…it was more than she could handle. That was why she had Raising Heart. On her own, her human mind needed shortcuts. Approximations. Intuition. Reasoning. A bit faster.
The can had just dropped to shoulder level when the remaining bullet rammed it. The discharge sent it flying to bounce against the rim of a trashcan, teeter on the edge, and fall in.
Nanoha smiled brightly and giggled.
Momoko Takamachi was many things. Mother of three, baker in a café, drop dead gorgeous, it was all true. What few people realized was that she was among the most knowledgeable women in Japan when it came to magic. When Nanoha came home, she smiled at her youngest daughter. "Hello, Nanoha, Raising Heart. How did training go today?"
"Ninety seven points," Raising Heart answered for Nanoha.
Momoko's smile broadened. "That's great, honey. Why don't you wash up for supper?"
"Okay, mom," Nanoha chirped.
Watching Nanoha head for the furo for a moment, Momoko shook her head slightly. Raising Heart was nearly family these days, but that didn't make it less weird. The little gem was an incredibly powerful weapon, a high powered computer, a tactical database, and God only knew what else all controlled by an AI that routinely risked her existence to protect her little girl. And for all that, Nanoha treated the gem like a close friend when she spoke to her, which was fairly frequently these days.
It was probably a good thing, Momoko considered with a sigh. Arisa and Suzuka didn't come by as often as they had before Christmas…was it really seven months ago? Yeah, July 24th. Seven months ago to the day that the kids had seen Fate and Nanoha in their barrier jackets, casting spells and saving lives. Theirs, specifically. At first nothing had changed, but Nanoha…magic was a part of her life now. It had swelled up and swallowed her future. Her dreams were…well it was a lot harder to relate to Nanoha than it used to be. Not that the girls would ever say it. Nanoha befriended people for life. But they weren't really close anymore.
Fate, naturally, was a complete one-eighty on that. The girl was very obviously Nanoha's most important person. Over the past week, she'd been on a deployment as part of her part-time Mage job. Nanoha was always a little more down when Fate was on duty without her, but the Bureau wasn't always able to sync their schedules.
Hayate and the Wolkenritter were also common guests when they were in town, but their community service had them on Mid-Childa most of the time. Momoko had to confess, she was fine with that. Signum was scary.
Yuuno, Chrono, Amy, and the rest of Nanoha's magical friends all had full time jobs. Letters were about as much as they ever got from them.
Nanoha came back down a bit later for dinner. Raising Heart floated at her side, a luxury the device indulged in now that the secrecy was over. Conversation at the Takamachi table was light and easy, with the little red gem floating around over their heads comfortably ignored by all. At least until it blinked furiously. "Master!"
Everyone startled at the sudden exclamation but only Nanoha answered. "Yeah, Raising Heart?" she asked, suddenly all business. "What is it?"
"Incoming transmission, coded urgent."
Nanoha shot an apologetic look to her family as she got up and left the table. "Sorry but this could be really important," she apologized. Said family got up and followed at a polite distance – they were done being in the dark.
A screen appeared in the air in front of Nanoha, carrying the picture of an old, European, bearded man on profile. It looked like he was on a street somewhere, and magical light shot by his head. He spared a glance at the screen on his end and sighed in relief. "Miss Takamachi, I'm glad I got through," he said in an English accent.
"Admiral Graham?" Nanoha asked in clear surprise.
"Former admiral," he replied tersely. "No time for pleasantries, Miss Takamachi. I'm under attack by unknown mages and am requesting immediate assistance from the TSAB. As you're the only mage on the planet I'm aware of…"
"Send Raising Heart the coordinates," Nanoha said calmly.
Her family winced. The cool professionalism in her voice didn't belong to any ten year old. They'd all heard Fate joke about Nanoha's new nickname, the White Devil, but they'd never seen just how much the girl's responsible nature had adapted to such a dangerous profession.
"Of course," Graham said, producing a shield to deflect another bit of unfamiliar magic, a blue bolt that hit a wall and caused a number of bricks to shatter. "Sending now. They'll drop you off in the skies above London, not far from the King's Cross railway station."
"Coordinates received," Raising Heart announced.
"I'll transfer there immediately," Nanoha promised. "Try to hold out for now."
The connection closed and Nanoha reached up to grab Raising Heart. She glanced at her family and smiled sadly. "I…"
"You have to go," Shiro said. He smiled. "Been there."
Nanoha nodded. Her father had been there, although it was well before she had been born. "I promise I'll be back really soon, and I'll call as soon as I'm safe, okay?" She looked at Raising Heart. "Raising Heart, please."
"Standby ready. Set up. Barrier Jacket."
The Takamachi family took in the sight of their youngest member in an armored, stylized school uniform with the short, ornate staff. "Will you be able to get there on time?" Miyuki asked.
Nanoha smiled uncertainly. "I've only cast the spell myself a few times…but I have to try. Raising Heart?"
"It can be done. Long Range Teleport." The Midchildan circle appeared around Nanoha's feet.
She offered one last smile to her family. "Execute transmission," she said softly, and vanished.
Nanoha pinwheeled her arms briefly to regain her balance as pink wings sprouted from her feet. "Whoa…did we make it?"
"Yes, my master."
Nanoha looked down and saw a strange city. "That must be London…there!" She pointed at a flash. "Raising Heart, what was that?"
"Magical discharge confirmed."
Nanoha spun in the air and powered down through the sky. Sure enough, Graham was under attack by three men in…robes? The simple garments didn't look like barrier jackets, but that hardly meant anything. Nanoha took in the situation for a long moment.
She'd asked Chrono about what happened to Graham after he retired home to England. It turned out that Graham didn't have his own intelligent device like Nanoha; he had always used standard issue storage devices. With his retirement those devices were of course returned to the TSAB. And apparently, he had decided not to purchase a civilian grade device. He was crouched behind some cover in an alley, pinned down by enemy fire. Every once in a while a Mid circle would appear and deflect a spell from hitting. Nanoha had to be impressed. Holding off three mages without a device was no easy trick. Nanoha wondered for a moment where the Liese twins were, but that wasn't her concern just yet.
The three strange mages were not Mid style or Belkan, that Nanoha was sure of. There were no weapons in sight, no magic circles. Their devices seemed to be thin sticks and they were making no attempt to close in on Graham. Their reliance on ranged attacks was odd, considering their horrible aim. Nanoha smiled wryly; she knew a few TSAB divisions with similarly atrocious accuracy so maybe she shouldn't judge them too harshly.
"Let's shoot it," Raising Heart said. "Axel Shooter."
Nanoha ran through the tactical situation. Three mages oblivious to her arrival attacking one unarmed ally…"No," she decided. "Protection, ready."
"Stand by," Raising Heart said. "Ready." Nanoha nodded and resumed her descent.
The opposing mages were shocked when Nanoha entered the fray, landing in front of Graham with Raising Heart pointed at them. She created a dome of pink energy, an umbrella to hide behind. "I am Nanoha Takamachi, part time mage of the Time-Space Administration. Why are you assaulting this man?"
The three mages stopped shooting and looked at eachother, then back at the girl. "What? Who are you?"
Nanoha blinked. "Oh, right. English." At least she'd been able to push her bilingual grades up a little…she repeated her introduction in the appropriate language and spared a glance at Graham. "Are you okay, sir?"
Graham got up slowly, wincing. He wasn't as young as he used to be, after all. "I'm fine, Ms. Takamachi. Thank you."
"You're interfering in Ministry business," one of the mages said warningly. "And are in violation of the Restrictions on Underage Sorcery, the International Statute of Secrecy, and a few other charges. Stand down."
Nanoha frowned. "Why are you attacking this man?" she asked again. She didn't have any authority on Earth, an unadministered world, but she did have leeway as Graham had requested her protection.
"We need to Obliviate the muggle," one of the mages said. "His cat attacked an owl carrying a Hogwarts letter."
Nanoha blinked and looked to Graham. "Do you know what that means?"
"Not a clue," Graham said. "Lotte did stalk an owl, but almost as soon as she got her teeth on the bird these mages showed up and tried to cast some kind of spell on me." He scowled. "They drove me away from Lotte, too. If she's hurt…"
Nanoha glared at the mages at this and hefted Raising Heart meaningfully. "His cat is Stunned," one of the mages said dismissively. "Once we modify his memory and clean up the evidence he can get back to…whatever it is muggles do."
This wasn't the right answer. "You want to do what to him?" Nanoha asked, shocked. "And what is a muggle?"
"Non-magic folk," the mage said reasonably. "What do they call them in…where are you from anyway? What are you doing here?"
"Non-magic," Graham muttered, "you mean you attacked me because you thought I wasn't a mage?" He shook his head and created a magic circle around his feet. "Why didn't you just say so?"
The three mages were very confused now. "You're a wizard? Where's your wand?"
Graham and Nanoha looked over the sticks the 'wizards' carried. "I don't have one."
"You don't…where did you study magic?"
"I don't think I'm going to answer your questions," Graham said sharply. "You attacked me without cause, remember."
"Um, well your cat did attack an owl," one wizard tried lamely.
Graham gave him a 'not impressed' look.
Nanoha dropped her Protection spell. "Well, I'm glad we could talk this out," she said brightly. She turned to Graham. "I need to get back to my family if you'll be okay."
"Not so fast young lady," one of the wizards interrupted. "Whatever the circumstances, you still violated several laws here."
"Eh?" Nanoha asked, surprised. "What laws?"
"Underaged witches aren't allowed to use magic until they're seventeen," the man said. "Illegally enchanting a muggle artifact, for whatever that contraption you flew in on is. Risking the Statute of Secrecy by using such visible magic in broad daylight."
Nanoha blinked. "Whose laws are those?" she asked. They didn't sound anything like the TSAB's rules, and there weren't any other organizations active around Earth."
"The Ministry of Magic, of course. The Statute is international, naturally."
"Ministry of Magic?" Nanoha asked, looking to Graham.
The former admiral shrugged. "Never heard of it."
That was enough to make the wizard's jaws hang loose. "You…what?"
Nanoha blinked. "You mean there's an organization of mages active here? Locally?"
"Of course!" one wizard exploded.
Another waved his hand sharply. "Stop," he commanded. "This situation is officially well beyond our paygrade." He looked at the two mages with a heavy frown. "We would appreciate contact information that we could send to our superiors. They would like to call on you to discuss…this situation."
Nanoha smiled broadly. "I'd be glad to!" Finally, someone she didn't have to blast to bits to get to listen!
Lotte Liese was not happy when she woke up, but as promised was unharmed. The wizards had completely ignored the animal-form familiar after stunning her. After catching up with Nanoha for a few minutes (a conversation that caused more confusion among the wizards) Nanoha returned home.
It was probably best that she didn't see the wizards' reaction to her teleport spell.
The first thing Nanoha did when she got home was convince her family that she was fine (and that she hadn't maimed anyone). The second thing she did was establish a link to the TSAB and report in.
Nanoha smiled broadly as a face appeared on the magical screen. "Fate!"
"Hello, Nanoha," Fate said with a smile of her own. "I leave you alone for just a few days and you get yourself in another mess?"
"Mou, Fate-chan," Nanoha whined. "It wasn't my fault."
"It never is," Fate observed. "Mom assigned me to handle your debrief."
Nanoha quickly summarized the events in London for her closest friend.
Fate frowned. "And these 'wizards' are local to Earth? That's very strange that we've never encountered them."
"They wanted to erase the memories of a random man because he saw a letter," Nanoha pointed out. "They obviously go to great lengths not to be encountered."
Fate nodded. "That is true," she agreed. "And you think they'll have a representative meet with you?"
"They said it might take a couple days," Nanoha agreed. "Probably so they can interview Graham first. They seemed rather put off that I was from Japan."
Fate looked offscreen for a moment. "Then we'll be there to back you up."
Nanoha blinked. "What?"
Fate smiled. "One of the advantages of having friends and family in high places. Cuts through the red tape. Mom has authorized an expedition to make contact with this 'Ministry of Magic' and establish relations. This is now an official assignment from the Bureau. Consider yourself reactivated."
Nanoha grinned. "So I'm actually getting paid for this?"
Fate giggled and a second screen appeared, official TSAB authorization and overviews of other paperwork that had apparently been filled out so fast that if it was actual paper instead of datafiles the friction burns would have ignited the material. "There you go. You're on the clock, Nanoha."
Nanoha giggled back and looked over the document briefly, then frowned. "I don't know the ship they've assigned."
Fate sighed. "The Arthra is part of the emergency response taskforce. This is a diplomatic mission. Sorry, not a lot of our friends are going to be able to make it. But the Kaithya is a quick little ship." The second screen was replaced with an image of a dagger-like ship that looked like someone had sliced the Arthra in half and smoothed off the edges around the cut. "She doesn't carry the guns or as many mages, but she's got all the other bells and whistles, including the best transport enhancer in the fleet just in case negotiations go badly."
Nanoha frowned. "That's not a good thought, Fate-chan. What would happen to my family?"
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Fate said. "That's completely precautionary. The better news is that she can get me back there inside that two day window."
Nanoha smiled warily. "Fate…I'm glad you'll be with me for this."
Fate smiled back. "It'll be okay, Nanoha. See you in a couple days."
Nanoha stared at nothing for a bit after the screen vanished and turned to her family. No one was happy with the ideas of negotiations going "badly."