It was a small wish. To summon a powerful familiar to show the world she was not a zero. It was not a familiar she summoned, but her mentor. The unexpected encounter would change her fate, and her world forever.
A woman walked through the halls with a deliberate pace. Her long brown hair was pulled to the left side of her head and trailed slightly behind her. It was lunchtime, but there was a more important thing she needed to do.
"Nanoha!" Her name altered her to her friend coming up to her.
"Ah, hello Vita-Chan." She answered with a smile.
"I was just heading down to the cafeteria to eat, did you want to join me?" Vita was still getting used to her job as a Combat Instructor. She learned she had a knack for beating in lessons to trainees during her time helping Nanoha in Section Six.
"Sorry, I need to head to the personnel office to request some time off. Can I meet you there once I'm done?" Nanoha said. There was only one reason the workaholic would take a day off, one small but incredibly adorable reason.
"So what is it this time? Another parent teacher conference or is she the star of the school play?" the red-head asked in a slightly teasing tone.
It had been ten months since Nanoha adopted Vivio, the girl created by a criminal to control an ancient war ship. Nanoha quickly got into the role of a mother and was soon was taking time off just to spend time with her new daughter.
"Actually Fate-chan's first assignment since section six disbanded is wrapping up, so Vivio is really looking forward to it. It's the first time Fate-chan has been away for so long." She replied with a smile.
The other part of the Takamachi family, Fate Testarossa-Harlaown, in an Enforcer in the Navy and Vivio's godmother. She now spends most of her time off-world as an enforcer, so it would make sense that the girl would miss her other mother.
"Ah, I won't keep you then, see ya," Vita said as she turned around to head toward the stairs.
"Be down in a bit," Nanoha answered in a cheerful voice and started down her own hallway.
Vita had made it five paces before she something came to her. She quickly spun around as there is another person that wants to see Fate. "Hey Nanoha, when is Fate going to be around, Signum is still waiting for that spar…" Vita trailed off as she rounded corner. "Nanoha?" she asked the empty hallway before her. A confused look came over her, "Where did she go?"
The feeling of falling through the air overtook Nanoha. Her instincts had kicked in and she was already twisting to land on her legs and her right arm while she reached for Raising Heart, the small red sphere she kept on her neck. Before she could fully brace herself, she hit the soft grass that covered the ground, however smoke still filled the air, blocking her vision.
She wondered what was going on, last she knew she was in the training facility talking to Vita when a green oval appeared right in front of her. It seemed harmless then but as she touched it, it drew her in and now she was here.
Taking in all the sounds, she heard many people coughing, with voices she did not recognize. "Another explosion, as expected of Louise the zero," a male voice said.
"Are you trying to kill us?" a new voiced asked, this time it was female.
Still unsure of the situation, Nanoha shifted to a low crouching stance supported by her right hand while still concealed by the smoke. In her left hand was Raising Heart, ready to be summoned if she needed but hidden from view. Raising Heart, are you ok? She communicated telepathically.
[Yes master, condition green.]
The mechanical voice echoed in her mind. It was a big reassurance that Raising Heart was with her and ready to help her out. However the most pressing matter wouldn't wait anymore as the smoke started to clear.
In front of Nanoha stood a girl, shorter than Nanoha herself, but still taller than Vita. That combined with her current figure Nanoha estimated an age of mid teen or less. Her hair was a strawberry blonde that was almost a pink shade that stood out in contrast to her black cloak and the blue sky. Under the cloak she had a white buttoned shirt, a black skirt and some dark socks that reached just above her knees. Her face has a look that seemed both confused and surprised at the same time.
Silence came over the area as the smoke continued to settle, revealing Nanoha to everyone present. She used to the time to look over the other people. Their ages were close to the first girl but probably older, or the first girl was hitting puberty late. They were all dressed in the same way as the pink haired girl closest to Nanoha but their hair colors seemed fairly normal: blonde, brown, red, green, and even a light blue.
An amusing thought came over her when she wondered when she stopped thinking of green and blue as strange hair colors.
The strangest part of the scene she was witnessing was that everyone there had with them some sort of animal. Most seemed fairly normal animals, even for her home world of Earth, such as birds, cats, dogs, and even a small toad on the shoulder of a curly-haired blonde girl. Yet some were even strange for Mid-Childa. There was a large red lizard that didn't seem to mind that its tail was on fire, something she could only describe as a floating eye, and a good-sized blue dragon sitting next to the blue haired girl who had her head in an open book.
Behind them was a stonework wall a few stories high. The tiled roof and the style of the windows indicated very primitive technology, or at least a very classical art style. Either way, Nanoha was sure that nothing like this existed on Mid-Childa. A dimensional transfer spell isn't out of the question, but the magic didn't have the same magic circles that every other spell she knew of. She concluded that it was a completely different style of magic then her own or even Belkan magic.
As her eyes traced to the other side of the area, she saw an older balding man with a large staff made of wood. His outfit was different from the others as it was a blue robe with white trim. She wondered if she was at some sort of school but the silence was broken by a giggling guy before he shouted out "Leave it to Louise to summon a commoner as a familiar!" which caused all the teenagers to burst out laughing. Well, almost everyone, the blue haired girl with the dragon still sat reading her book.
The pink haired girl's reaction, Louise presumably, was much different. Her face flushed red and the expression on her face changed to something caught between anger and embarrassment. "I only messed it up a bit, that's all!" she shouted to the crowd, but her plea didn't seem to have the desired effect. "Mr. Colbert, I ask that I may try the summoning again," she said turning to the older man present.
"I'm afraid I cannot allow that. You have already summoned a familiar and repeat attempts are forbidden," The man, probably the Mr. Colbert, said.
"But having a commoner as a familiar, I've never heard of such a thing before!" she pleaded.
[Combat seems unlikely. Perhaps they would be willing to inform us of the current situation.]
Once again Raising Heart's voice entered Nanoha's mind. Agreed she replied, they are just as confused as we are.
"Nevertheless, this is a sacred rite and I cannot allow for repeats. The familiar you summon reflects your elemental affinity and helps you along that path. Now form the contract." Colbert said, defeating Louise and she let out a sigh.
Nanoha took advantage of the pause in the conversation to interrupt. "My name is Nanoha, Takamachi Nanoha. Can you tell me what is going on here?" she asked as the stood up.
Louise let out a huff and placed her hands on her hips in a superior stance. "I am Louise Francoise le Blanc de La Valliere, and I have summoned you as a familiar," she proclaimed.
"A familiar?" Nanoha asked in a confused tone.
"Yes, I am your master from now on so you will obey me. Now lean down so I can complete the contract," Louise commanded.
"Contract? Just how am I a familiar?" Nanoha asked. On Mid-Childa, Familiars are magically enchanted animals taken on by mages. It is not required for a mage to have a familiar but they are useful. The contract between the mage and familiar typically lasts until the task that is defined in the contract is completed then the familiar disappears. There are some cases where there was no task set in the contract such Fate's familiar Arf, but those are rare.
However, this was probably not Mid-Childa magic, as they haven't identified her Army Instructor Uniform. Nanoha vowed to get the full story before she entered into a magical contract, doubly so as the magical style here was still unknown to her.
"As if a commoner could understand the complexities of magic, you should just feel honored to be able to serve a noble such as myself," Louise said. "All you need to know is that I am your master!" She then raised the object in her hand and began to chant. The words were unfamiliar to Nanoha, but things were progressing too fast for her liking.
Suppressing the panic building up inside, Nanoha was somehow still able to speak clearly. "Hold on, I haven't agreed yet. I still would like to know exactly what's going on here."
"A disobedient familiar how fitting for Louise the Zero!" said a voice from the group. Nanoha turned and identified it coming from a red-head with a very feminine figure that had the large red lizard as a familiar. The comment once again sent the crowd laughing as Nanoha wondered just why they were so willing to dismiss her opinion.
Her thoughts on that matter ended as two hands suddenly moved her head down and before she could even react, she was kissing Louise. The shock of the action confused her so the kiss went on far longer than it should have before Nanoha pushed Louise away while taking her own steps back.
"What are you doing? Isn't a familiar contract where…" A burning sensation cut through Nanoha in the middle of her protests. The feeling started to collect in her chest, and became so great that she dropped Raising Heart. She instinctively clutched her chest in the hopes it would dull the pain.
"That's just the rune being created, it will be over soon so just bear with it." Louise seemed indifferent to Nanoha's pain, and the words did little to comfort her, who had now dropped to her knees from the pain. As the burning feeling peaked, she felt a small amount of strange magic chest, separated from her linker core. Through her shirt, she could feel something etched on her skin.
"Very well then class, you are dismissed," Mr. Colbert said out loud causing most students to start dispersing.
"I think we need to have a talk Louise-chan. I have many questions you should answer right away." Nanoha's tone wasn't as cheerful as it normally was. It was the tone she took when she needed discipline from her trainees. It didn't seem to have the same effect on Louise.
"I suppose that you will keep on asking that. Very well then, but first you will call me master and not by my name! I will not have a commoner speak to me in such a manner." The words were spat out with a hint of anger.
Nanoha quickly decided that their ideas on how familiars should be treated were as different as night and day. Resigning herself to the hill she had to climb ahead of her, she discreetly picked up Raising Heart as she stood up. "Is there a place we can speak in private?"
"Follow me familiar," she answered and started walking towards one of the buildings and didn't even check to see if her orders were being followed.
Raising Heart, do you have any idea where we are? Nanoha communicated.
[I am not detecting any signals that are used on TSAB administered worlds. Would you like me to send out a signal to see if there is a reply, master?]
Please do, tell me if you're able to make contact.
Nanoha followed Louise across the courtyard into one of the buildings and up a few flights of stairs. They reached Louise's room which was furnished simply with a bed, a table with some chairs, and a dresser. The room also had a window and a pile of hay near a wall. The moment Nanoha closed the door behind her, Louise's patience snapped.
"A commoner, I summoned a lousy commoner! I was hoping for something like a griffon or dragon but I got a commoner that doesn't know anything. This was supposed to be my big chance to show them I'm not a zero!" Nanoha noted that the word zero was some sort of insulting term or nickname for Louise. While she was interested in its origin, Nanoha decided that asking that question is a bad idea at the moment.
Louise continued her rant for some time and even started including angry arm movements, sometimes direct a Nanoha, other times to no one as she paced back and forth near her bed. Nanoha briefly wonder who she was actually talking to, or who she was mad at, but it seems that Louise's first impression of her was a poor one. Nanoha had similar sentiments, but she felt that she was probably more accurate in her judgment of Louise's character. However, Nanoha had experience working past bad first impressions.
Things like being attacked out of the blue without any explanation why, to have her linker core ripped out from her body.
At least Louise seemed open to the idea of talking, even if they were taking a while to get to that point. She also hasn't resorted to violence yet, although Nanoha wondered how close she was to that point.
[Master, there have been no responses to any of my signals. Shall I continue?]
No, if they haven't answered by now, there probably isn't anyone to answer. Let's see what we can learn here before we do anything else.
Louise seemed to finish her tirade and sat down in one of the chairs with her arms folded, having exhausted herself. Nanoha had stood near the door the whole time, watching the pink haired girl work out all of her anger. She then walked forward and seated herself opposite of Louise.
"Are you feeling better now?" Nanoha asked in a caring tone. She was unsure of the answer she would get, but she hoped it was the right way of starting the conversation.
Louise only gave out another huff and tilted her head slightly.
"So, can we get started on my questions then?" Nanoha asked, trying to pick her words carefully as to not set off the teenager on the other side of the table.
"Since you are so insistent, I shall answer some of you questions." Louise answered, once again with the tone of someone in a superior position.
Nanoha let out a small sigh. "Ok then, where are?"
"The Tristain Academy of Magic." The answer came fast.
"So this area is called Tristain then?" Nanoha guessed. Tristain could refer to a person, such as the school's founder, or something else even.
"Yes, we are in the Kingdom of Tristain, don't you even know that?" Louise countered with frustration.
Do you know of a place called Tristain by the local population? Nanoha asked Raising Heart.
[I'm sorry master, my data storage never included a complete catalog of the mapped worlds. The name Tristain is not tied to any world I have information on.]
"I'm from a faraway land. I do not know anything about this place, or about the magic you use." Nanoha left off the biggest question she had, regarding her 'commoner' status as it seemed to be one of the main points of Louise's anger.
"You must be from the southern barbarian continent then, no wonder you do not know anything of civility."
Nanoha ignored the comment on civility. "No, I'm from much further way than that, a place called Mid-Childa. I doubt you'd be able to find it on a map."
"We only know of one other continent so you must be from far away indeed. We use magic to control the four elements of the world: Earth, Fire, Wind and Water," Louise explained. It seemed that the realization that Nanoha came from further away then expected had lowered her anger, slightly.
"So you magic is based around manipulating those four elements?" Nanoha asked.
"Yes, it is only those four elements we can control using our willpower and wands as a focus."
Judging by her short explanation, Nanoha concluded that this was a much different style of magic than her own. Some mages on Mid-Childa were able to add elements to their magic. Fate adds electrical powers to her magic commonly, even Signum added some fire to her abilities, but the ability was rare. It seems as those the mages here can only affect the elements directly, if Nanoha was correct. She was suddenly reminded of something the teacher had said.
"So the familiar a mage summons is related to the element the mage uses?" Nanoha concluded.
"That is correct." The anger in Louise seemed to rise again.
Nanoha knew she was playing with fire, as it could be related to her nickname 'zero.' However it needed to be asked. "What elemental affinity do you have that summons a human?"
As she thought, it set off Louise. "I don't know! I've never heard of a commoner being summoned as a familiar before! I can't even use any of the elements correctly so it's just another sign of my failure at magic. The only spell I've casted correctly was summoning commoner. Just how does that reflect my element?"
Nanoha considered pushing further but she noticed the tight grip with which Louise was holding on to her wand, but decided to let the matters rest for now. Louise's anger was running hot and that last line of questions hit a nerve. She still needed clarification on a few things, the most of all was the difference between commoners and nobles but that can wait until tempers cool.
"Anyways," Nanoha began, trying to change the topic, "As I said before my name is Nanoha, Takamachi Nanoha. I'm twenty years old. Perhaps you can tell me about your family Louise-chan?"
"No! I did not give you permission to use my name. You will call me master!" Louise shouted. "Now, as for your duties: you will dress me in the mornings and evenings, and take care of the laundry. You will also be running errands for me as I see fit, understand?"
Nanoha blinked in surprise. She knew that Arf took care of some household responsibilities for Fate, but dressing her wasn't something Fate would ever ask of her familiar under normal circumstances. Nanoha probably wouldn't mind doing some of those things anyways, however there was one big difference between the relationship between Fate and Arf, and the one Nanoha seemed to be in now.
Fate created Arf as her familiar because Arf had been badly wounded and there was no other way of saving her. Because the contract between them one created out of selflessness, there was nothing forcing obedience for Arf or a terminating condition. However because of their connection, and the reason Fate took in Arf as a familiar, Arf will gladly do anything Fate asks of her. Fate had saved her life out of kindness, and still shows her kindness every day. Arf will be repaying that kindness until their end, of her own free will.
Louise had summoned Nanoha from across the dimensions and seemed to treat her familiar as a slave. Fortunately for Nanoha, the contract she found herself in doesn't force obedience. Calling her master was out of the question, much less following the absurd order of dressing her. Nanoha was dismissed as a mere commoner from the start, whatever that was, and somehow on the same level as small birds, cats, and a toad.
"Is that so?" Nanoha responded in a voice colder than she wanted. "Can't you get dressed on your own?"
"A noble should never have to dress one's self if there are servants around," Louise said in a tone that once again spoke of superiority.
"There is nothing that I see right now to force me to do any of those things. I'd be glad to help you out with things like laundry or errands because I like helping people. But I will not be your slave. The sooner you realize that this is a partnership, the sooner I will start helping you out."
"You! You don't get to decide that! Familiars exist to serve their masters, and I am your master!"
"No you're not. You are just an angry little girl, if you want me to do as you say, you'll need to start treating me with the level of respect I've tried to treat you with." Nanoha commanded. The forcefulness put a shocked look on Louise's face. "Now then…" she said while standing and turned to the door.
"Wh-Wh-Where are you going?" Louise demanded, her unsteadiness betraying her attempt to take command the situation.
Nanoha opened the door and turned around to face the pinkette behind her. "You need to cool off your head, and think about what I've said." She then turned stepped into the hallway.
"Wait!" was all that Louise could say, but it didn't stop the door from closing. How could she speak to a noble like that she wondered? She had a cheery tone before but the words she spoke at the end were not that of a commoner. More than that, it almost sounded like she thought she was equal to Louise.
In that moment, she vowed to put that commoner in her place.
On the other side of the door, Nanoha exhaled deeply.
[Are you alright, my master?]
Yes, that girl is just getting under my skin. Nanoha started retracing her steps back to the courtyard. I hope that not all nobles are like that, or I may just end up blasting this whole place. Realizing what she just said, maybe Louise wasn't the only one that needed to cool off a little. But for now, I haven't even eaten since breakfast. The sun was well into its descent in the sky, and the day had been tiring.
When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she saw a girl with black hair in what seemed to be a maid's uniform. "Excuse me!" Nanoha called out.
"Oh, what can I do for you?" she asked before coming to a realization. "Wait, are you the one that Miss Louise summoned?"
"That seems to be the case. My name is Nanoha, it's a pleasure to meet you," Nanoha introduced herself.
"I am Siesta, but you have a strange name, where are you from?" the maid responded.
"A place so far away no one around here will know of it. Can you tell me where a cafeteria or dining hall here is? I wasn't able to have launch and I'm really hungry."
"Oh, you have good timing. I was just about to go on my dinner break. Would you like to go with me?" Siesta offered.
"I'd be delighted."
Nanoha followed the maid across the courtyard to the main kitchen. She pointed out the dining hall the nobles used next door but commoners were not allowed to eat there. Entering the kitchen, she was greeted by others of the staff. I seems as though the news of a commoner being summoned had spread throughout the entire school. Notably, the head chef introduced himself and quickly portioned out a meal for Nanoha to join Siesta. It was just a table placed in the already cramped kitchen they ate at. The quality of the meal surprised Nanoha and she savored the flavor while talking with the black-haired maid, each one asking as many questions as they answered.
She used the time to get some more information about her new surroundings and finally knew the differences between nobles and commoners. Nobles are upper class people who can wield magic. They make the rules and govern the land. The commoners are the everyday people who can't use magic. It sounded very similar to the old feudal system used in Japan. The fact that she was told that nobles can do pretty much whatever they want to commoners didn't sit well with Nanoha. It made her feel ashamed that she was a mage, even if the magic she used was different.
The two girls were happily chatting away until another maid came over pulling Siesta away saying the nobles had started gathering in the dining hall. Before leaving herself, Nanoha took her and Siesta's dishes over to be cleaned and thanked the head chef who told her to come back anytime and saw her off with a smile.
Exiting the Kitchen, Nanoha was greeted by a small collection of animals waiting outside. Some of them she recognized from before as familiars from Louise's class. She also noted two people walking toward her with their own familiars. On one side was the red-haired dark-skinned girl with the red lizard, the other was the short blue haired girl wearing glasses. She was still reading her book yet somehow still able to walk without running into anything. Behind her trotting along happily was the large blue dragon.
"Well, if it isn't the commoner familiar herself!" the red-head declared. Nanoha recalled that she was making fun of Louise earlier. "Did Louise drop you off outside with the rest of the familiars?"
"No, we had a disagreement and I just came from the kitchen where I ate. My name is Nanoha," she said politely.
"Nanoha…" she sounded out slowly "I've never heard of a name like that, have you Tabitha?" she asked looking over to the blue haired girl.
"Strange," the small girl quietly said while turning a page in her book.
"I know, right! Hey, where are you from anyways? Louise didn't just pull you off the road outside did she?" the dark-skinned girl questioned.
"No, she summoned me like any other familiar I suppose. I come from a place very far from here. May I ask for your names?" Nanoha replied.
"I'm Kirche Augusta Frederica von Anhalt Zerbst, and this is my familiar Flame," she gestured towards the red lizard at her side. "That is Tabitha and her familiar Sylphid." The small girl made no movement at the sound of her name, but Sylphid let out a small trill.
"Kirche!" a new voice interrupted the conversation and three heads looked over to where Louise was marching over in all her pink haired fury. Tabitha's eyes never left her book, instead it was Sylphid that looked at Louise. "What do you think you're doing to my familiar?"
"Oh, well if it isn't little Louise. I was just talking with your familiar. Is it true you're having a disagreement?" Kirche teased. Her comments seemed to only fuel the rage in Louise.
"We're not having a disagreement, I'm just breaking it in. Without me to look after it, my familiar won't be able to eat or have a place to sleep." Nanoha noted that she was only an 'it' to Louise now. It seems that her plan backfired and she was being regarded even lower than before.
"Not able to eat huh? Nanoha, didn't you just say you finished eating in the kitchen just now?" Kirche added to the raging inferno.
"What?! Who was it? I'll have to let them know not to feed my familiar until they have my permission!" Louise angrily shouted.
"So your plan is to starve me into obedience? All the more reason not to tell you who it was that gave me a meal." Nanoha pointed out.
"Besides, I thought I told you to cool your head off and think about what I said. It seems you did not take my advice. If that's the case then this conversation is over."
"That's it! Die like the dog you are!" Louise shouted pulling out her wand and pointing it at Nanoha. Nanoha quickly realized the danger and raised her left hand. "Fireball!"
Nanoha was able to deploy a Round Shield just before an explosion appeared right in front of her. The ringing in her ears stopped shortly and she heard the sounds of coughing through the smoke.
"Louise, if you want to kill your familiar, at least warn us so we don't get caught…" Kirche trailed off as the smoke cleared revealing Nanoha to the rest of the group. Her left hand was still outstretched but there was no damage or dust on her clothes. Tabitha, Kirche, and Louise all fared much worse as they were all knocked to the ground with their clothing damaged from the blast. "How did…" she continued in disbelief.
"Louise," Nanoha began in a cold voice, "The sooner you stop treating me like your slave, the sooner I will start listening to you. Are familiars not supposed to be your partner and friend? And to use magic in such a way, it should be used to protect people, not hurt them." Louise could only stare in response. "You need to think about what I've said, that is the only way for our relationship to advance." Nanoha turned and started heading towards one of the buildings.
"Louise, are you sure she's a commoner?" Kirche asked the pink haired girl next to her. However, Louise could only watch in stunned silence as Nanoha walked away.
Tabitha had closed her book and watched the older woman intently, "Unlikely."
As she ate diner, Louise was thinking about her familiar, and what had happened just outside the dining hall. Once again her familiar had disregarded her as her master. Louise then did what she had wanted to do when Nanoha walked out on her earlier. But nothing happened.
How could have she withstood the spell she wondered. Maybe the explosion was somehow directed away from her? No, that wasn't it. She had raised her hand in response. How did she do it? Could a commoner have something to block magic? Some sort of artifact for protection against magic?
Afterwards she spoke as if it was nothing to her. Her words were not those of someone afraid of Louise or magic. She spoke about how familiars were partners, not slaves, and how magic should be used. The word spoke of knowledge in those areas, as if she had experience. Even from the start she didn't speak like a noble or commoner. Was she even a commoner to begin with? Could she use magic?
There's no way she can use magic, she didn't even have a wand with her or did she know anything about how magic worked. Louise promised herself that next time she would be ready, and that she would force her familiar to obedience. She had to, or else she would stay a zero forever.
After Nanoha had left the three noble girls, she wandered the hallways aimlessly. She didn't really have any place to go, but she knew she didn't want to be near Louise for a while. Prolonged exposure wouldn't be healthy for the noble, or the school building.
Her path allowed her to put together a rough shape of the school. There was a large tower in the middle surrounded by five smaller towers in a pentagram pattern. Each of the smaller towers had different colored roofs, and four of them were connected to the center tower. The black tower was not connected to the center, but it was still connected to the closest small towers like the rest were, creating a walled in perimeter.
Her wandering eventually took her to what seemed to be the school's entrance after night fell. There were no others building in sight, only a dirt road leading away through a large grassy field. She began working on just what her plans were going to be.
"So, you still haven't picked up any signals yet Raising Heart?" She asked out loud.
[I have not detected any signals since our arrival here.]
The red jewel was floating in the air and blinking with every word it spoke. Nanoha sighed. The Time Space Administration Bureau stretched very far in the dimensions. She found it hard to believe that a spell from a failure of a mage could pull her so far away. Even many worlds that had non magical civilizations on them were monitored by on-world agents. Earth even had a few people on it and would have answered her signal. They wouldn't even have to be on the planet, as the signals would reach into the neighboring dimensions.
"Do you have any data on a world with a red and blue moon?" Nanoha asked while looking up at the night sky. She knew it was a long shot, but that was just about all she could do.
[I'm sorry master. As I said before, I do not have the TSAB catalog of worlds in my data banks. Of the limited worlds I know of, I cannot find a match.]
"And even then, the TSAB hasn't mapped every world. We're probably on an uncharted world then, outside TSAB space." She concluded.
[That is the most likely answer.]
"I thought so. When on standby, send out a distress beacon as far as you can, and monitor all frequencies used by the TSAB. Hopefully a ship passing by will pick it up."
[I will do my best, master.]
Nanoha smiled at her device's statement. At least she could count on Raising Heart. She sat in silence for a few minutes trying to sort out everything that had happened to her when Raising Heart spoke up again.
[Master, are you alright? You have acted very strangely today.]
It was a conversation she wanted to avoid, but she knew Raising Heart was only worried about her. "I'm fine, it's just…" She trailed off. "It's just that Louise-chan just rubs off on me in a really bad way. I'm used to people not listening to me. Fate-chan and Hayate-chan's Knights didn't listen to me as first, but they were doing things that were important to them and I was interfering with that. Even then, their hearts were in the right place but with Louise, she seems to just be an insecure girl lashing out because of her failures. I became just another one of her failure the moment she saw me. If she only knew the distances she summoned me across, she would know how powerful she is."
[Have you considered telling her that?]
"She probably wouldn't even listen to me if I tried telling her that. Even if she did listen, it would probably only make her feel worse than she already does. She wouldn't believe me without proof, and the only proof I could offer is my magic. I don't know if she could handle knowing the one she summoned is able to use magic while she can't."
[Why is that?]
"She identifies herself as a noble, one of higher social standing and a mage. She's a failure as a mage, she said so herself when she was ranting before. She has been here a whole year studying magic, a year of failures and teasing from her classmates. She would be able to accept my magic that's in front of her long before she accepts where I came from. Knowing that her familiar is capable of using magic may be the last straw."
[Is she really that close to giving up?]
"I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if she cried herself to sleep before. I think she's only treating me the way she is because her identity as a noble being above the commoners is the only thing holding her up at this point. And here I am taking that away too. Will there be anything left of her once that's gone?"
[The pain you would cause by helping her would be less than the pain if you did nothing.]
Nanoha sighed. "I know. It's just I need to make sure I do it right. I don't know her well enough to be sure. I screwed up with Tea before when I thought I knew how to handle it. "
"Umm, who are you talking to, Nanoha?" Nanoha turned her head in surprise. There was Siesta, shifting her eyes between the Nanoha and the floating red jewel. "How is that thing floating?"
"Ah, well," Nanoha began, "this is Raising Heart, my partner."
[Hello Siesta, it is a pleasure to meet you.]
"It talked…" the maid said in bewilderment.
"I didn't know how well people would take Raising Heart so I was keeping her secret, sorry," Nanoha said.
"That's fine I guess," Siesta said as she took a few steps forward, eyes locked on the strange jewel in front of her. "What can she do?"
[While I can assist my master in a variety of ways, I was primary designed to aid in magical combat.]
"Wait, so that means you're a noble?" Siesta put together.
"No, that's not quite right," Nanoha started in embarrassment.
The words didn't reach the maid, as a horrified look took hold as she took a step back and bowed down. "Please forgive anything rude I said about nobles earlier. I did not mean to offend you!" Siesta said in a panic.
Nanoha could only sigh as she moved towards the shaking girl. "Siesta," she began as she gently placed her hand on the maid's shoulder. "Remember earlier how I told you that everyone is treated the same where I come from? That includes if one can use magic or not."
Siesta slowly looked up. "Really?"
"Yes. Even though I can use magic, I'm not a noble. You are a maid, and I'm a mage, but in my eyes, you are just the same as me, right? Do you think we would have enjoyed our meal together if I didn't think that?"
"I suppose…" the maid uttered.
"And because of how I got to know you over dinner, I know that you are a good person, and that I want to be your friend. Didn't you think the same?" Nanoha spoke in a tender voice.
Siesta looked at the smile on Nanoha's face and felt a wave of relief. "You're right. How could have I forgotten the kindness you showed everyone in the kitchen? I feel silly for thinking otherwise of you."
"Don't worry about it, I'm not upset. But I do have one more question for you."
"Oh, what is it Nanoha?" The maid was fast becoming the cheery girl Nanoha ate with before.
"Well, I'm still not on good terms with Louise, so I'm wondering where I would be able to sleep for the time being? "Nanoha asked. "I'm sorry for bothering you with these things all the time."
"Not at all, I'm happy to help. A bed…" Siesta placed a finger on her chin. "Well, I'm not sure, but I think we may have a bed or two available in the servant dorm. It shouldn't be hard to keep it secret from the headmaster since nobles never go there anyways. Familiars are supposed to sleep in their master's room, so he may try to charge money for it if he were to find out."
It made sense that a familiar should stay with their master, but there was only one bed in Louise's room. The truth soon dawned on Nanoha: Familiars are supposed to be animals and Louise had a pile of hay in her room.
"That sounds great," Nanoha quickly assured the maid. She didn't want to spend her nights sleeping in some hay, probably without a blanket. "We may have to work something out later, but I'll take you up on it."
The shadow of a child ran through the streets of Cranagan. The form made its way to the entryway of one house and pressed the button next to the door. The person stood impatiently until the door opened.
"Arf, come in," Hayate said in a quiet voice.
"How is Vivio?" the familiar said as she entered the house.
"She's resting now, she is with Shamal and we don't want to do anything to wake her. It took a while to get her asleep in the first place."
Arf could only hang her head as they entered the living room were the rest of the Wolkenritter had gathered. Sigum and Rein nodded to Arf but Vita could only stare at the floor.
"So, what now?" Arf asked.
"We can take care of her no problem. We have the space and cooking for one more is no problem. Zafira can pick her up from school if we have to work late," Hayate said.
"Vivio just got used to living in our house. I don't know if living here is the best idea, she needs stability most of all."
Hayate considered the idea. "It's only been 3 months since Section Six disbanded. With all she's been though, I'm inclined to agree. Can you take care of her until Fate gets back?"
"I should manage, Yuuno told me not to come back to the library until Fate returns. She was coming back soon, but I doubt she's able to come back sooner than expected."
"Ok, but if you need anything, we'll be here so don't hesitate to ask."
Arf took in a few deep breaths. In her panic, she forgot how big their family really was. "So, what happened exactly?"
"There was some sort of small dimensional disturbance," Rein explained. "It was picked up by Naval HQ and every nearby ship. They all confirmed it happened at Vita and Nanoha's base but it was over before anyone could react. It was only later that we found that Nanoha was missing."
"I was with her right before it happened. She turned a corner and just vanished without a trace," Vita finally spoke.
"It's not your fault, you had no idea," Hayate said.
"But I was right there, I could've saved her-"
"Teleporting her is out about the only they could have done. Nanoha won't go down without a fight, you should know that better than most," Sigum said.
"Do we have any leads?" Arf asked.
Hayate sighed, "Unfortunately no, there are no reports of a ship detecting another disturbance of the same wavelength, and we have yet to pick up a distress beacon from Raising Heart."
"Also, the signal of the disturbance doesn't match any known lost logia or magic. We're pretty much in the dark," Rein added.
Silence started to linger as no one could find any words to say. After what seemed like eternity, Vita spoke the words they were on everyone's mind.
"When we find out who did this, I'm going to make them pay."
Hayate noticed vita gripped her device at bit harder as she said it. She then turned to watch the stairs that led to the bedroom with the girl. She had known Nanoha for 10 years, she knew that the Ace of Aces could take care of herself.
But Vivio was just a girl who had just gotten used to a normal life. It was not long ago that the girl suffered at the hands of a madman, but she had worked past it with the help of her new mother, Nanoha. With that support gone, will all that work go to waste Hayate wondered.
She thought back to the first Reinforce, who sacrificed herself to save Hayate. She had thought with the defense program beaten, a new life with the knights and Reinforce was about to begin, but it didn't. Back then, she had her knights along with Fate and Nanoha to help her though it. She could draw the parallels between herself from 10 years ago and Vivio.
She then made a promise to herself, Vvio, and Nanoha that she would do everything she could for Vivio, until Nanoha made it back safe.
AN: So the first chapter of my first fanfic. It was sitting on my computers about 90% done for a long time, but I finally got around to posting it. One of the things that bug me about Familiar of Zero fics is they never take the time to explore the world that the summoned character left behind. Not every chapter will go back to Mid-Childa, but I'll at least try to show how the Nanoha characters are handling her disappearance. Please review and comment.