So, yeah, I've been working on rewriting this chapter too, although its original version wasn't as bad as the first chapter's original version. Speaking comparatively, at least.
Subaru had known, almost as soon as she woke up that fateful morning, that it was going to be a poor day. In fact, it would be more than just a poor day - it would be one of those days. The kind of day where everything starts just fine except that something that feels incredibly off, except you can't figure out for the life of you what it is.
When the local police force of a relatively backwater world asked for her help in tracking down the culprits of a museum robbery, she suspected that she'd found that 'something off', and had been satisfied.
She was no expert, but she'd had the TSAB's R&D department upload some nifty tracking programs into her device, so it didn't seem like a problem to comply. And really, she enjoyed helping others in the first place.
While she'd been steadily getting closer to the perp with each robbery, however, she still kept getting there too late to make a difference. By two days, then by a day, then by half a day, and then by three hours.
Naturally, it had gone from being one of those days, to being one of those weeks.
Eventually, Subaru had noticed another little detail that made her wary: each crime was further and further away from any sort of major TSAB presence, to the point that attempting to call in backup would be a moot point - by the time the reinforcements actually managed to arrive, the criminals would already be long gone, and Subaru would've long since followed in pursuit.
And then, today happened.
This time, she'd hit a stroke of luck - knowing that they'd be likely targeting another museum for some obscure artifact or other, Subaru had managed to show up before they actually made the hit.
As she explained what she knew of the situation to the museum's curator, she had to speak loudly in order to be heard over the pouring rain and booming thunder outside. Once he had heard Subaru's story in full, the man pinched the bridge of his nose, in deep thought. After a time, he slowly ventured, "I believe I may be able to assist you, but... I don't suppose you have a record of the stolen artifacts?"
Thankful that she'd thought to keep a list using her Device, Subaru clicked her heels together and Mach Calibur brought it up for the curator to observe. "Hrm... Yes, it's as I suspected, Miss. I suppose you're unfamiliar with the mythologies of the ancient civilization that was native to this region in space?"
Subaru shook her head in confirmation.
"Much as I'd like to wax lyrical upon the subject, I'll give you the condensed version."
He then proceeded to give an abridged exposition of the myths surrounding the Ultimate Devil, before concluding, "...and every artifact on this list is related in some way to the legends of that mythological cycle."
Subaru nodded. "So apparently, whoever's doing this is really fascinated with that particular bit of history. Gotcha. If you've got anything in here also connected to those tales, then we know what they're targeting. And if we know what the target is, I can protect it - and if we're lucky, maybe even catch that jerk red-handed!"
The curator paused for a moment, before bringing the bluenette's cheer to a grinding halt. "Except that this musem has no exhibits, artifacts, or anything else associated with that time period."
Subaru, who had been mentally cheering at the fortunate lead, suddenly froze. Slowly, as if trying to find a silver lining around the news that her adorable puppy had just died, she asked, "Are there any other museums, even private ones, in this solar system that would have the kind of target that fits this profile?"
The curator thought to himself, I doubt I'd know in the first place, if they were private...
Then he shook his head. "Not that I'm aware of, miss. My apologies."
The bluenette wanted to start crying at how the case appeared to have suddenly gone cold, but the curator had something else to say. "There is, however, an archaeological site on one of the larger planetoids orbiting our local gas giant. Perhaps you could find some leads ther-"
At that moment, the ground shook violently as the two heard multiple explosions outside, distinct from the raging thunderstorm.
With but a thought, Subaru was engulfed in a sapphire tornado of energy as her Barrier Jacket activated, and Mach Calibur went into its rollerskate form. Racing outside, she found that a giant machine had just cleaved a five-story building in half with a sword made of energy. Several other buildings around it had also been destroyed.
The white robot was in the shape of a man, and multiple stories tall. A tattered blue cape was hanging from its shoulder, a pauldron adorned the opposite shoulder, and it wore an equally tattered blue hat that, were she familiar with Earth history, Subaru would've associated with Napoleon Bonaparte. While one hand held the beam saber, the machine used its other hand to dramatically point right at Subaru.
Its loudspeakers activated, and someone - evidently the pilot - demanded, "TSAB Agent, we know you've been tracking us. You can either face this 'Jack of Diamonds' and be destroyed... or stay back while I annihilate the city. Make your choice, lawman!"
The terrorist's heartless brutality stunned Subaru, but only for a moment. Taking her surprise and turning it into anger, Subaru skated through the air on her mystic azure road and roared, "Face you? How about you come on and face ME?!"
Registering the challenge, the cultist pilot opened up the pauldron on Gundam Rose, before several small - relative to the Gundam, as they were easily as large in circumference as Subaru herself was tall - drones shaped like rosebuds flew out, each firing a particle beam cannon at her.
Though Mach Calibur's automatic defensive programs proved enough to deflect one beam, a concentration of several beams proved to be a different matter. When a barrage of six beams blasted her off her skypath and singed her barrier jacket, Subaru decided that the attack drones had become a higher immediate priority than the unit that had deployed them.
Quickly skating into the sky, the bluenette cyborg couldn't help but shiver from the cold rain pelting her body. "Jeez, I'm going to feel miserable when this is over..."
After dodging some more particle beams, Subaru earned a few seconds in which to observe the layout of the city. before devising her plan of attack. With a hot-blooded yell, she sped towards the largest concentration of drones, making sure that they had a target lock, before dissolving her road at the last second to fall beneath the particle beams as the crowd of drones destroyed each other.
A scant second later, she'd started up her Wing Road spell again, and quickly began building up momentum like a rollercoaster as she raced towards the ground. At the last instant - as calculated by Mach Calibur - the path rose at a sharp angle, destroying a few drones that had been following too close behind her.
With the remainder of the attack drones in a semi-close cluster, she twisted around without changing her speed - effectively skating backwards - and powered up an attack spell. The gear on her gauntleted right hand spinning at high speed, the cyborg screamed "REVOLLVEEERRR! ! ! !
"SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! ! ! ! !"
She then punched in the direction of the drone-cloud, a bolt of blue hellfire annihilating the lot of them.
At that time, she barely heard the mecha pilot say "I'll run you through!" in time to spin back around on her wheels. No sooner had she done so than she observed an energy sword as thick as one of Nanoha's more powerful energy blasts coming to stab through Subaru.
With her left hand, Subaru brought up her most powerful protective spell, halting the beam saber in its tracks. "Mach Calibur, can you find its weak spot?!"
[Roger! Scanning now! ... Cockpit, reactor, and EM wave generator located!]
Grinning now that victory was at hand, Subaru activated her Inherent Skill as a cyborg. Eyes blazing gold, Subaru deactivated her barrier and fired Mach Calibur's rockets, screaming, "TAAAAAKE... THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!"
With one punch, she turned the localised particle beam into nothing before promptly reducing the sword's handle and the hand that held it into so much trash.
Forgoing her road, Subaru then skated up the Gundam's arm, its attempts to grab her proving futile. As the pilot became desperate, he flung Subaru high into the air, intent on attempting to catch her with gravity's assistance.
However, as she was directly over the Gundam's head, Subaru once more activated her device's rocket boosters while charging up for her most powerful offensive spell.
As Gundam Rose looked up, its face was suddenly illuminated by a flash of lightning. In the intense downpour, water was streaming down its faceplate, almost like...
It's like it's crying, Subaru thought in surprise. It doesn't want to be hurting people like this.
That idea, that even this machine was suffering the atrocity it was being used commit, sent the cyborg's anger boiling even hotter. As Subaru fell level with the Mobile Fighter's cockpit, she screamed at the top of her lungs. "YOU BASTAAAARD!"
She then drove her fist against the energy glyph in front of her, completing her spell.
"DIIIIIIVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
"BUUUUUUSTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRR! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !"
A massive stream of blue hellfire impacted against the Gundam's torso and, after a moment, tore through into the cockpit, blasting the pilot with extreme force. The stream of energy was powerful enough to knock Gundam Rose over, leaving it flat on its back.
Dismissing her rollerblades and the magic road she'd been on, Subaru dropped down to the cockpit intent on interrogating the pilot. Before she could get quite close enough to apprehend him and start demanding answers, however, the man immediately declared, "It doesn't matter if you make it to the asteroid ruin or not - by this time, my comrades have already obtained the artifact! You're too late, government dog!"
He then produced a pill and attempted to swallow it, but Subaru was able to reach him quickly enough and shove her cybernetic hand in his mouth to prevent him from having the chance. Knocking the capsule out of his hand, she then lifted the criminal by his collar and demanded, "Too late to stop them from doing what?!"
The man scowled at his captor. "Our leader will summon the Ultimate Devil... and with it, the tyrannical TSAB rule will be totally obliterated! THE BELKAN EMPIRE WILL RISE ONCE AGAIN! SIEG BELKA!"
He then killed himself by swallowing a second poison pill that had been hidden in one of his molars.
Stunned by what she had just witnessed, Subaru dropped the terrorist like a sack of potatoes. "...Damn!"
After Subaru climbed out of the cockpit, she had Mach Calibur locate the regional travel agency. Charging in, she stormed to the counter and asked the coordinates to any archaeological sites in the local asteroid belt.
Quickly accomodated, Subaru summoned her one-passenger spaceship to her position, and took off. She had to get to that site, hope that she wasn't too late, and somehow manage to pull off a miracle.
As her vessel rose into the atmosphere, she happened to glance down at the fallen Gundam, and was surprised to get a better look at how it had fallen.
With the way that it's remaining arm was positioned, it appeared as if it were trying to salute her.
Unsure of how else to react, Subaru hesitantly rose her own hand, returning the salute.
In outer space...
Subaru had managed to find the indicated site and arrive. Not only that, she'd managed to do it stealthily enough that the villains apparently had no idea she'd even made it.
Taking a moment to line up the crosshairs on her screen - Subaru could've opted for automatic computer targeting, but preferred to handle aiming herself - the Silver Ace fired a tracer at the enemy vessel.
"All right! I got 'em!"
A few seconds later, the ship warped out of normal space and into another dimension, intent on some other destination. Subaru was about to begin pursuit, when she suddenly heard a voice in her head.
Someone, please... help me...
Subaru knew this voice. They didn't spend a lot of time hanging out and only really knew each other through mutual friends, but Yuuno Scrya's voice was a familiar one.
Subaru could track down the criminals almost at leisure now that she had a tracer on their ship. So if the possibility that her mentor's childhood friend might be in immediate danger nearby, then rescuing him definitely took priority.
So, ah, in the original version, enough time had passed between the two chapters that I totally forgot some offscreen stuff about the fic, which lead to a glaring inconsistency. Honestly it was really, really embarassing. But now it's all taken care of!