A/N: Warning! This chapter contains as much bromance and platonicity as I could humanly stuff into it. Might be poisonous to diehard shippers. Tophuko forever. Proceed with caution.

Takamachi Nanoha of 2814: LeaguerS

by Shadow Crystal Mage

Chapter 2: Secretive Origins, Part 2

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in this story. If I did… well, this would all be canon. WARNING: MAY CAUSE HEAD EXPLOSION!


They managed to get into the Batwing and in the air. Of course, it was hardly that easy. Strange, organic-looking fighters took to the air after them and there were too many of them for Batman to fight. The Batwing had hardly been built with dogfighting in mind. Well, with that level of dogfighting in mind, anyway. They managed to evade most of the red beams the fighters shot at them through shear gut-wrenching evasive maneuvers, but it was only a matter of time before one clipped their wing. Literally, in this case. He could have sworn he saw the sheared-off tip go flying past as they tumbled through the air… and stopped abruptly as green light shone through the windows.

"What happened?" he said on reflex.

"Help has arrived," J'onn said from the back seat.

Above, Yuuno began to gently lower the damaged Batwing, ignoring the crimson beams of energy the white fighters shot harmlessly at his shields and the shields he'd wrapped around the plane. A few feet above, he heard Nanoha coughing. "Now, everyone, if you'd all just land and stop shooting, we can sort all this out in a timely manner… seriously, stop shooting, I'm sure we can… I'm warning you, if you persist in these aggressive and attacks, I will be forced to take action… you're already guilty of invasion, destruction of private and government property, illegal atmospheric entry… AH! You almost hit that deer! Okay, that's it, no more nice Green Lantern-chan!"

Yuuno saw the entire valley below them light up green with explosions as he set the Batwing on a stretch of flat ground, than for security's sake slapped a protective bubble over it. When he looked up, Nanoha wasn't alone in the aerial fight. A winged woman– a relative of AngelGARd's, perhaps?– with a crackling electric mace was flying recklessly between the fighters, slamming her weapon hard at them and causing explosions. Superman was physically manhandling the things, ramming into them like a missile or grabbing them and swinging them around to hit other fighters. They were likely was also the reason there were still fighters around, since it meant Nanoha couldn't blow them up in a second indiscriminate pass. His partner herself was flying around surrounded by little green constructs all shooting at fighters in all directions while she launched giant cutting discs, chainsaws and flying sharks at them. Yuuno was reminded of that silly 'Sharknado' movie.

He double-checked the barrier zone he had made to protect the area before he leapt into the air, sending beams and other slightly more imaginative things at the fighters. Yuuno tried to take prisoners but it was so hard when they seemed to insist on blowing themselves up. He'd put two in bubbles but gave it up after they kept trying to shoot their way out and ended up exploding.

One by one, the fighters fell. Yuuno kept an eye on the winged woman. She was pretty agile but he worried she might not be fast enough to avoid the blasts being sent her way. Yuuno saw her get caught in the blast wave of an explosion and fall out of the sky. He turned and rushed toward her, hoping she was all right– that had looked like a nasty fall, but from out of nowhere a figure in armor landed in front of her even as a fighter attacked shooting red beams at the two women. The new woman's arms blurred, and Yuuno was surprised to see the red beams go bouncing off as if reflected. Several of the beams bounced right back, striking the fighter and making it explode. Yuuno snapped a protective bubble around the two women and the ledge and cliff they were on as the fighter slammed out of control and crashed. The stranger raised her sword in salute to him in acknowledgment and he waved back.

The fight was over soon after that. Everyone began moving to regroup towards where Yuuno had put the Batwing as a red streak blurred across the land. The protective bubble was still there, though a little snow, rock and debris had piled up on top of it. Yuuno flipped the shields over, letting all the stuff piled up fall over the cliff.

"Hey Bats!" Yuuno heard as a he landed some distance away from the tall, imposing figure some distance from the plane. He almost thought it was Illya in Berserker mode, until he realized it wasn't anywhere near so nightmare-inducing. A red blur resolved itself into a red-clad figure holding a large piece of metal. "I think you dropped this!" the figure said.

As the others began to land, Yuuno finally began to identify them. He only really knew Superman, but he hadn't met with him much since earlier that year when Nanoha had come out to her parents… that she was Green Lantern. He didn't know the others, but they wore the tight clothes and capes he'd been told were the fashion among American Mahou Shoujo. No, wait, that wasn't what they called their vigilantes, wasn't it? What was it again? Science squads? No, wait, that was for those backed by the Japanese government. Superheroes, that was it.

"Is everyone all right?" Nanoha called out as soon as she was down. "Does anyone need medical attention? Bandages? Disinfectant?"

"We're fine, Green Lantern," Superman said. The armored woman landed next to him, a round shield strapped to one arm, a sword in the other, which she immediately sheathed. He nodded at the man in red. "Flash. Nice to see you."

Flash wasn't listening. Instead, a wide smile spread across his face at the sight of the armored… no, not a woman. He handed Batman the cut-off wing without looking. "Whoa. Where have you been all my life?" he said.

Yuuno stared. Had he been… hitting on her? Wow. He thought it was the women who hit on the men in this planet. At least, that was the impression he'd always gotten. Clearly, that was wrong.

"Themyscira," the tall girl replied.

Apparently, Flash didn't know what that meant. "Huh?" he said eloquently.

"Themyscira," Nanoha read from her ring. "Hidden island constructed and maintained by the god-class entities known as the Olympians as a refuge for the Amazons, a race of immortal female warriors originating from the lands around the Mediterranean."

Everyone looked at her.

"It's in Ring-chan's reference section," she said helpfully as Yuuno paused to check his own ring. There was always something…

The tall girl nodded. Definitely still a girl. Her face still lacked the smoothness that came with adulthood, and her lean, muscular build reminded Yuuno of that ninja Ala Alba had, the really tall one… "It is as she says," she said. "I am Diana, Princess of the Amazons."

"Pinch me, I must be dreaming," Flash said. Superman rolled his eyes and elbowed him.

"Themyscira is protected by the gods," Diana said. "But I could not idly stand by with such ill omens of danger threatening the world."

Nanoha perked up. "Oh, did you get a vision calling for help too?"

She nodded. "Yes, I did."

"Do you have any magic?" Nanoha continued eagerly.

"Uh, yes…" Diana said.

"Dibs!" Nanoha cheerfully declared towards Superman. "She's one of us, I call dibs on her first!"

"Hey, no fair!" Flash protested. "I wanted to call dibs first! I demand a re-dib! I was not prepared to call dibs!" A beat. "What are we calling dibs for, anyway?"

"I call dibs to make friends with her!" Nanoha said. "The visions in my head owe me a new friend, and I'm calling dibs on her!"

"I want to make friends with her!" Flash said as a confused Diana looked back and forth between them.

"Look, there's no need to fight you two," Superman said patiently. "You can both make friends with her."

Green Lantern and Flash looked at each other critically, then brightened. "Yeah, that's true!" Nanoha said happily. "Plenty of friendship for everyone."

"True, true," Flash said, nodding sagely. "I always say you should be greedy when it comes to friends. There are always enough friends to go around, so we should all share."

The two nodded as if in agreement while everyone stared at them like they were nuts. Then they turned to Diana, both smiling brightly. "Hi!" they said. "Wanna be friends?"

"What do you mean… one of you?" Diana asked cautiously.

"You said you were a princess and you had magic," Nanoha explained. "Therefore, you are automatically counted as a Mahou Shoujo, just like me!"

Diana blinked. "Is that… good?"

"It's what you want it to be!" Nanoha said. "But it means there'll be a lot of people who'll want to meet you and say hi and make friends with you."

"Will someone please explain what's going on here?" the winged woman said, looking mildly ill at all the friendship talk.

Superman and the dark-cloaked figure both looked at the green person.

"My name is J'onn J'onnz," he began.

Yuuno had to admit, it was one of the best examples of exposition he'd ever heard. There were no random tangents or anyone derailing the conversation or anything. A pity there were no visual aids.

"They are known as the pale ones of the under-darkness," J'onn told them. "They, too, are from my native Ma'aleca'andra. Though stories of them have oft been told for countless ages, since the birth of our civilization, we first truly encountered them a thousand of your Earth years ago. Our civilization was at the height of its peace and prosperity. And then, they arose from out of the ground and deep caverns. Who and what they were, no one knew, but they were determined to slay us all. We were a peaceful people and the taking of any life was abhorrent to all but the most depraved madmen, but we quickly learned the ways of war."

Off to the side, Nanoha has nodding knowingly, and Yuuno wondered if the Green Lantern Corps had some kind of checklist for stuff like this. He wouldn't put it past them. Nanoha seemed to be taking down notes too, if the little green screen next to her with writing appearing on it was any indicator. He wondered if was supposed to be doing that too…

Hold on, he should! He was an archaeologist after all, and this was a new civilization! Frantically he tried to get the ring to discretely start taking notes too.

"For centuries, the battles raged on," J'onn continued. "Every trace of our once-great civilization was obliterated as the great soul of our planet slumbered. We fought valiantly, but the pale ones were parasites that fed upon our life force. Those they did not kill, they kept as batteries until all life was drained from them. They absorbed our shapechanging and mental abilities as they fed upon us. As we grew weaker, they grew stronger, more monstrous. Finally, a small group of survivors planned one final, desperate attack. At their underground stronghold, we unleashed a devastating attack, a powerful nerve gas that paralyzed them. The attack was successful, but the cost was dear. I was the only survivor. The last of my kind."

At those words, Superman stirred slightly. Yuuno glanced sideways at him, but his face was unreadable.

"I sealed their citadel to keep them in a constant state of suspended animation. For over five hundred years, I stood guard over them. And then, while I was in a hibernation cycle, astronauts from earth unsealed the stronghold and accidentally revived the invaders." The look he turned towards everyone was, Yuuno was surprised to see, only mildly accusing.

"Wait!" Flash interjected. "Those astronauts never said anything about finding life on Mars."

"Because it's very well hidden," Nanoha said. "But there have been people on Earth who've known about life on Mars for the past three thousand years. I suppose someone decided it should be classified."

Everyone glanced at her.

"It's complicated," she said. "And I'm pretty sure the life I mean isn't J'onn's people."

"With all my people dead, the pale ones had no one else to feed upon," J'onn said. "So they have revived the ancient starfarer artifacts and set their sights upon your world. I narrowly escaped and came here to warn your world of the coming danger, but it was captured and held against my will, ironically in fear that I was the very thing I came to warn against. While I was held captive, the pale ones sent advanced agents to diable your world's defenses."

"That's why they sabotaged the deep space monitoring network," Batman said. "So we couldn't detect their activities."

"This is my fault," Nanoha said. "I should have kept a closer eye on the rest of the solar system."

"You can blame yourself later," Yuuno said. "From the sound of it, we don't have time right now. We have to stop this before it's too late!"

"It may already be too late," J'onn said.

In the distance, thunder rolled.

"It has begun," he said.

"I don't know how it is where you come from, but around here, those are very ominous words," Hawkgirl said. "What's begun?"

"The news feeds say something just grew out of the meteor in Metropolis," Nanoha said, a screen floating in front of her showing a news channel. "It's some kind of dark and ominous evil tower!"

Flash looked over her shoulder at the black and green feed. Aside from the color, it was all in HD. "Yup, that's a dark and ominous evil tower all right," he said knowledgeably. "All it needs is a giant flaming eye or a crazy wizard. What's it for?"

"The pale ones are nocturnal," J'onn said. "Their beachhead facilities contain factories meant to generate an opaque ionized cloud that will spread across the atmosphere, allowing them to control sunlight. They aim to blot out the sun so they can live in perpetual darkness. It is likely at the same structures are growing in other landing sites."

"Whoa. And I thought air pollution was bad," Flash said.

"Can't we just make another batch of that nerve gas?" Yuuno asked.

"Unfortunately, no," J'onn said. "The gas can only be made form a rare plant. I brought a sample with me, but it was destroyed when I was captured."

"Do you know the formula?" Nanoha asked, floating over towards him. "I can synthesize a batch if I knew what I was going for."

"No. I am sorry," J'onn said. "While I know enough to synthesize it from a sample, it was our team's chemical specialist who synthesized the toxin."

"So… what's plan B?" Flash asked.

"We need to take out those… 'factories'," Diana said. "If it is a facility that the enemy wishes installed immediately, then it follows we can greatly hinder their advance if we keep them from doing so."

"She's right," Hawkgirl said, hefting her mace. "If those factories stay, then they'll be able to terraform this planet to better suit them. From the looks of it, they've already got it too much their way as it is."

"Tactically, we'll have multiple objectives," Batman said. "We need to know how many of these factories there are."

"52," Yuuno said.

Everyone looked at him as Nanoha and Flash stopped their bickering.

He held up his ring, above which was projected a diagram of the earth, various places marked with arrows. "I had my ring parse through all the news channels it could and check for appearances of towers," he said. "They're mostly in major cities, but we have a couple in the rainforests, parts of Africa and one in Antarctica. None in Japan though, and the one in Kansas just went down. I think that might be Supergirl."

"Yes!" Nanoha cheered, punching her fist in the air. "Go United Magical Girl Association!"


In Tokyo, Gilgamesh frowned. "I feel I'm being snubbed somehow."

"It's just your imagination," Tuxedo Kamen said. "There sure are a lot of meteors, aren't there? You'd think Green Lantern-chan would tell us about this sort of thing…"


"How are we going to handle 52 towers?" Flash asked. "Ents?"

"I'll make a few calls," Nanoha said. "If Japan is mostly clear, that means there are people who are free to move out. Plus I know a few people who can handle the other places…" There was a beat. "Superman, do you know another number for Doctor Fate? I keep getting their answering machine."

"Then we can handle the towers no one else can get to in time," Yuuno suggested. "Maybe we can work out how to take them down. And if we screw up and it inevitably explodes, at least they'll be away from people."

"'Inevitably explodes'?" Hawkgirl repeated.

"I've learned that everything tends to explode on this planet," Yuuno said. "Even your canned drinks explode."

"Only if you shake it," Nanoha said.

"Yes, well, that would have been nice to know before I opened the can," Yuuno said

"I said I was sorry!"

"Will you two be quiet!" Batman snapped.

"Hey, easy on the sidekicks, Bats," Flash said.

Yuuno blinked. "Sidekick?"

"He's not my sidekick!" Nanoha said huffily. "Ferret Lantern and I are equal partners! Sidekicks are outmoded and archaic."

"I thought we agreed to stop using that name?" Yuuno said.

"Enough of this," Superman said. "We need to get going. Green Lantern, how many people do you think you can send after the other towers."

Nanoha did some quick figuring. "At least three groups and maybe three other people, and I can probably ask for enough support to get them teleport capable enough to hit a lot of targets. None of them would be suitable for the Antarctic though, so some of us would have to go after that. I'll get them on standby and send them on their way as soon as we figure out the safest way to take down a tower."

"Then let's split up," Superman said.

"Dibs on new friend!" Nanoha and Flash chorused. "No, I called bids first! No, I did! No, I did! Stop copying me!"

Superman and Yuuno facepalmed.

"Is everyone on this planet like that?" J'onn asked stoically.

"It depends on who you ask," Yuuno said.

J'onn stood, silent.

"It's okay, you can say we're doomed," Yuuno said gently. "I'm thinking it too, but you really look like you want to say it, so I'll let you go first."

J'onn gave him a flat look.

"Yes, I realize," Yuuno sighed. "I didn't used to be like this, but it seems to be infectious. My friend calls it the Crazy Earth People Effect."

"I called dibs first! I said it first! Me! No, me!"

"Perhaps I should have stayed at home after all," Diana said.


Flash sighed as he ran across the water. "I really wanted to team up with the hot Amazon."

"I don't think she was especially hot," Nanoha said, flying next to him. "Actually, she might have been pretty cold. I should have offered her a blanket. That was pretty rude of me to just leave her like that in the snow." She sighed too.

There was silence broken only by the lapping waves and the sound barrier breaking into teeny tiny pieces around them.

"So, I'm Green Lantern," Nanoha said cheerfully. She wasn't one to stay depressed, after all.

"Name's the Flash," Flash said, equally cheerfully. "So, friends?"

"Friends!" Nanoha confirmed. She looked down at where he was running on the water. "Wow, you're REALLY fast!"

"Fastest man alive," he said proudly.

"Bet you're not as fast a Superman," she said.

"Oh, haven't you heard?" he said. "Supes and I ran a race around the world once."

She frowned cutely. "I think I remember that one. But no one won, right? Someone with a crazy weather machine interrupted it."

"Well, that was the first race," Flash said. "The one we had after that…"

"Well, who won?" Nanoha asked.

He smirked. "Why don't you ask Superman."

She pouted cutely at him. Well, she was trying to frown, but that was what came across. "You lost, didn't you?"

"Like I said, you have to ask Superman," Flash said breezily.

"All right, I will!" Nanoha declared huffily. Then, "So, do you have specially-made shoes or something? I mean, wouldn't your feet be wet by now? I know mine get wet if I so much as step on a puddle."

"Yeah, good shoes are pretty hard to find," Flash admitted. "I had to learn to make these myself and sometimes I get it wrong and the heel starts flapping, which is really embarrassing…"

"I know this girl in who'd probably be able to make the perfect shoes for you," Nanoha said. "She usually does clothes, but if I ask nicely I'm sure she wouldn't mind making you some proper running shoes. Or proper boots. Those look like you just sewed on some yellow spandex on the end of some sneakers and painted the whole thing yellow."

"Hey, it's hard to make fancy stuff on my salary!" Flash said. "I'll have you know my entire costume is pretty cool! I can shrink it all so it fits in my ring."

Nanoha blinked. "What, boots too?"

"Boots too," Flash said proudly.

"Even those pointy things on your head?"

"Well… not those, I have to keep those in my pocket," he admitted. "But yeah, the rest fits in a little ring!"

"That's so cool!"

"I know, right?" Flash grinned. "You know, I like you, little girl. What'd you say your name was again?"

"Green Lantern!" Nanoha chirped. "I usually work from Japan, so I'm not surprised you haven't really heard of me. Actually, my friend's called Green Lantern too."

"Green Lantern two? What, are you guys numbered or something?"



They soon hit ice and snow, and were forced to slow down to speeds that didn't basically set off a bomb behind them as they moved, with Nanoha keeping Flash warm with her ring ("Toasty!"). Nanoha had volunteered for the Antarctic one on the basis that she was free to try anything there as long as she didn't hurt any penguins. Plus, she might see a penguin!

They slowed considerably when Nanoha detected they were close to their target, and she picked up Flash and flew him the rest of the way to minimize noise, hiding them under a hologram. With all the colors they wore, they stood out like targets against the snow otherwise. The factory was already starting to spew smoke when they came in sight of it, with three tripods standing around it patrolling in circles.

"There it is," Nanoha said. Leaning over the kotatsu she'd set up, she examined the area. The meteor had crashed in a relatively flat spot, though a crater spread out from the point of landing now. The tower was easy to spot, standing out in the landscape as a black smear. "Ugly, isn't it?"

"Kinda looks like it's made from clay," Flash agreed. "Or something from a really sick and twisted lava lamp. This table is awesome, by the way. So comfy…"

"They're usually best when you're eating mandarin oranges," Nanoha said.

"I'll keep that in mind," Flash said. He looked over at the tower and the tripods. "Come, put me down so we can go and kick their butts!"

"Not yet!" Nanoha said. "We need to do something important first."

"What's that?" Flash asked impatiently.

"We need to make sure there aren't any poor penguins nearby who might get hurt!" Nanoha said passionately.

Flash paused and considered this, then nodded. "Yeah, innocent penguins have nothing to do with this. As superheroes, we can't let cute flightless birds be caught in the crossfire. Then we kick their butts?"

"We kick it so hard," Nanoha agreed. She raised a fist, her ring shining dangerously and lighting up her face. "No one messes with our planet!"

Flash nodded. "Yeah! We mess it up just fine by ourselves!"

"Which is a bad thing!"

"Yeah, but at least we only do it accident. Well, most of the time it's by accident!"

"But someday, we'll get our act together and stop!" Nanoha avowed.

"Eventually!" Flash agreed.

They paused.

"That's a bit depressing," Flash said.

"Yeah," Nanoha agreed with a sigh. "Check for penguins?"

"Check for penguins," Flash agreed. "Then…"

"KICK BUTT!" they chorused.

At that point, the tripods started shooting them because they were so loud.


Superman had only met Hawkgirl a couple of times. He'd offered to help her find a way back to her people, but as with many things, he was still working on that. Fortunately, she seemed to be in no hurry to leave, and appeared to have adjusted quite well to life on her new planet of residence.

Hawkgirl let out a primordial scream of raging fury as she hammered relentlessly at the downed tripod with her energy mace.

Superman wondered if Yuuno's friends were right and if there was something in the planet that made people violent and crazy. No, that was silly. He'd lived here for years, and he was fine…

His mind deliberately glossed over any thought of Gotham City.

Ripping off a fallen tripod's leg, he threw it at the side of the tower in Metropolis. "Hawkgirl, follow me!" he called, possibly redundantly, but she seemed to have been really enjoying hitting that fallen tripod thing. He flew through the hole, finding himself inside the smoke factory. Was it just him, or did it seem bigger on the inside? Likely it was just the creepily organic décor messing with his sense of scale. "Keep a sharp eye out," he said as he landed a moment to orient himself.

"I always do," she said. She sounded focused and confident.

He'd only taken a few steps forward when blaster fire came at them from somewhere above and to their left. He moved himself between them and Hawkgirl. "Stay back, I'll–"

Her animalistic scream cut him off as she flew past him, her wings flapping as she threw herself into the midst of the invaders, energy mace swinging. He had to duck as one of the invaders she had struck flew at him. It struck the wall– bulkhead? Membrane?– behind him and splattered all over like a rather disgusting chunk of modeling clay. Or possibly a ball of mud.

When he looked back, all the invaders were down in various states of splat. Hawkgirl was picking up one of their fallen blasters, examining it. She seemed to feel his gaze on her, and she gave him a challenging look. "What? They had it coming." She threw down the blaster, either not sure she could get it to work or just not wanting to use it. "Come on!"

There really wasn't anything in the planet, was there? He sighed and followed after her, wondering how the children were doing…


Yuuno peered through the leaves, watching as the tripods patrolled around the giant factory in the middle of the African plains. Already the skies had darkened from the smoke it was pouring out, obscuring the otherwise bright sunlight with an artificial cloud. It was also very hot and humid. Thank goodness for ring auras.

Diana, who did not have a ring aura, was obviously feeling the full effects of the weather. "Hiding like cowards is not the Amazon way!" she said indignantly and slapped at the insects trying to bite at her.

"We're not hiding like cowards, we're hiding like ferrets," Yuuno said from under the shade of his hat. "Small and unnoticed until we're ready to make our move." Or get eaten by a predator higher up the food chain, but he didn't say that. "Besides, someone hiding like a coward has no intention to fight. We have every intention to fight, therefore we're not cowards, and hiding isn't cowardly."

The much taller girl sniffed. "Sophistry," she said, obviously not impressed.

"Last I checked, Amazons weren't known for suicide runs, they were known for being fierce warriors," Yuuno said, trying a different tack. "Even fierce warriors probably want to know which end of what they're attacking has the stuff most likely to get them killed. Unless your shield magically gets bigger?"

She gave him a dirty look. "You are a child," she said, not impressed. "What would you know about combat?"

"I know it's always safer to know as much of an enemy as you can if you want to get out of a fight alive," Yuuno snapped back, mildly annoyed at the ageist remark. Seriously, what was with everyone on this planet and their obsession with how many birthdays you've had?

"And how will we learn anything by sitting here and waiting?" Diana retorted.

"My ring is scanning the structure and the tripods," Yuuno said. "It's almost finished. Soon we'll know what we're up against and then…"

"Then what?" the man next to them asked.

Yuuno started, and drew back instinctively. Diana started and drew her sword to cleave his head off, possibly also instinctively.

From seemingly out of nowhere, a sword appeared, parrying Diana's blade. "No touching my husband," Yuuno heard translated through his ring as a shadowed figure appeared next to the man.

This was evidently not enough warning for Diana, who gave out a roar and charged the woman. The woman, her long hair shining golden even in the little light, darted sideways, luring Diana away from the man– her husband, evidently– taking advantage of her longer blade to parry Diana's blows.

Yuuno had frozen though, staring at the man in front of him. "Negi?-!" he said as sounds of violence came from the background.

The man smiled widely. "Close. How do you know my son?"

"Your so– Oh! You're Negi's dad!" Yuuno said in realization. "Nugi, right?"

"Nagi, actually. You're not some enemy of my son's, are you?" he said, suddenly smiling threateningly. "I can't keep you all straight…"

Yuuno waved his hands frantically. "No, no, we're friends! We're in the same club, in fact."

"Reeeeeally?" Nagi said, giving him an almost comical intense stare. "Prove it!"

Yuuno blinked. "How?"

That seemed to catch him up short. "Uh… tell me something only a friend of Negi's would know!"

Yuuno paused to consider as trees were cleaved apart behind them. He could hear Magister spells going off as the woman sent them at Diana. "Uh, Negi wears Bob the Builder boxer shorts?" he said, remembering that mission to get Negi's clothes back and steal his students'.

Nagi blinked. "He does?"

"Why are you asking me?" Yuuno said. "Shouldn't you know?"

"Well, I've kinda been gone for a while…" Nagi said, looking mildly embarrassed.

Yuuno facepalmed. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Oh, me and the wife were just passing through after helping a golden gorilla deal with this local warlord and his force of werehyenas when we saw the meteor come down, so we decided to check it out," Nagi said brightly as metal clashed behind them.

Yuuno glanced over his shoulder and blinked. "Evangeline?" he said, surprised.

"Hey!" Nagi said indignantly. "The mother of my child is way hotter than some loli grandma!"

"Uh, shouldn't we stop them?" Yuuno said, surprised at all the damage Diana and Nagi's wife had been able to do in such a short conversation. They were rapidly losing cover from all the trees cut and blasted down. "I mean, the tripods might see us."

Nagi blinked blankly. "What tripods?"

At that point, the tripods started shooting them because they were so loud.

"This sort of stuff never happens to my partner!-!-!-!-!" Yuuno wailed.

Somewhere, Nanoha sneezed.


While J'onn had not really had a proper opportunity to observe a human before– he had not really been able to examine those who had captured him upon arrival, and he suspected they had quickly been replaced by infiltrators– his civilization had long observed theirs from a distance, using telescopic equipment, and later space-faring vessels. They had... well, to be honest, from what he had heard they were rather primitive and even a touch animalistic. His people's philosophers had charitably tried to put this down to the difficulties of living on their planet, with its mind-boggling hundreds of different species all apparently competing to try to eat each other and anything else that stood still for long enough. That was not even counting all the things that swam in the planet's great masses of water, unheard of in Ma'aleca'andra, where all the water was underground, kept by the great spirit of the world that had created his people. They would be a great people, the consensus seemed to be, if they'd just get over their seeming instinct to try and eat everything they could get their hands on, including things that weren't edible, like rocks from the ground and each other.

When he'd first been released, he'd had assumed the two individuals before him had been from the same species. They had looked physiologically identical except for their coloring, but on second look it had appeared that the 'coloring' was in fact some kind of artificial coating of some sort, the purpose of which he still wasn't exactly clear on. Was it a uniform? A symbol of rank? Office? Status? He had tried a gentle telepathic inquiry towards the two, but neither had reacted, and all he had heard were passively perceived concepts. The bright blue one had been concerned for J'onn, but also for his planet, while the dark one had been strongly suspicious. It was then that he finally recalled that these people were apparently not endowed with the same senses of mind that his people were.

He had needed to project more deliberately at them to begin to communicate, and by the way the darkly-colored one had reacted, this had been alarming. He had altered his mouth passages, trying to change it into something that would reproduce the sounds they were using to communicate, trying to finally put to use all the strange, bewildering thoughts he had managed to perceive through the stasis field that had crudely imprisoned his mind as well as his body, parsing it for the language they were speaking. He was glad to find his symbiote was still alive, prompting it to spread itself over him in a version of his old uniform of office, but in the apparent local fashion.

From then on, there had been one thing after another as he had been driven to send a call for help, knowing it risked bringing more danger to them if the pale ones managed to hear his cry and send more of their numbers after them. The decisions that came had been quick and necessary, as much rushed on his part as it had been with the strange collection of being his call had summoned. Though he hid it, even from himself, he knew that he was lost, on a strange world, with beings he did not understand but hoped he could rely upon, if only because they danger before them was to their world. Still, amidst all that, he had been gladdened.

Two of those he had manage to call were Green Lanterns. And very senior ones, if how slightly unhinged the latter puffy-looking one acted was any indicator. They, at least, understood and fully comprehended what he had said, though he suspected he would be asked to fill in many information forms later. The decision had been made to analyze the towers for weaknesses and if possible destroy them. The group so few, had split into pairs for safety, and he had been paired with the dark colored and frilled one who had been one of his initial rescuers.

It soon became clear that, if this planet had a hierarchy based on physical ability, then this being he had been paired with would be of very low standing. He could not fly, requiring a large and relatively loud vehicle to do so. Compared to the blue one called Superman, his senses were severely impaired. He was also, compared to the red one that had belatedly arrived, very slow, but perhaps that was not such a bad thing. The red one seemed a bit mentally delayed.

They had used the vehicle again to fly to their destination, one of the closer factory towers. It was time-consuming, especially since J'onn knew he could fly faster, but he had to admit that without the vehicle's instrumentation he might have gotten lost. The whole trip he was interrogated extensively on the pale ones' capabilities, especially likely security systems and the tactical doctrine they would use to protect their factory facilities. Perhaps this one was a mentally advanced caste with degenerated physical abilities?

They landed the vehicle some distance away from their destination. It had just begun production, so the smoke cover it had produced was still thin, but already the sunlight was waning. The tripods had deployed around it, patrolling and shooting most things that moved. No one noticed as Batman and J'onn entered the factory tower. He found himself impressed at this one's capabilities. Though J'onn himself was invisible and immaterial, Batman made as little noise as he did, entering the structure by creating an opening using some kind of liquid cryogenic agent to near-silently break a portion of the tower's wall and slipping through the small opening.

No one noticed as they passed. They were more quiet than the breeze, more unnoticed than the shadows. And then they reached the central core and the ion matrix crystal...

It made a very satisfying explosion.


Nanoha flew over the ocean, Flash running next to her.

"That was awesome!" she cried.

"SO awesome!" Flash agreed. "The way you made that giant robot…!"

"And you!" Nanoha made a shaking gesture with her arm. "All you did was touch that thing and it exploded! Like a… a… a Super Vibrational Explosion Punch! No, wait, more like a… Fatal Destructive Resonance!"

"Ooh, cool name!" Flash said. "Gotta remember that one."

"Plus, we managed to get penguin selfies!" Nanoha cooed.

"Penguin selfies are awesome!" Flash agreed.


"They're close by," Hawkgirl said, looking around intently. "I can almost smell them."

"Relax, we're clear," Superman said. "I can't hear or smell anyone around except the two of us. Why are you always so eager to fight?"

"Thanagarians are proud warriors," Hawkgirl said. "We never give up, we never surrender. We strike first or die."

A blast of energy narrowly missed her, flying through the space between them. They turned to find a small group of the invaders hurriedly turning away and running down a tunnel.

"No one around, huh?" Hawkgirl said dryly as she flew after them.

"Well, I'm not very good with smell…" Superman said sheepishly as he followed. Why weren't they standing their ground? The aliens– well, other aliens– had been standing their ground before, so why…?

The tunnel oozed closed just as Hawkgirl got to it, and she stopped short, landing abruptly lest she slam into it. Behind him, Superman heard a rather disgusting noise, and turned to find the way behind them blocked.

From the wall nearest to her, some sort of yellow gas gushed into Hawkgirl's face. She immediately started coughing, dropping her mace and falling to her knees as she clawed at her throat.

"Hang on, Hawkgirl!" Superman said, turning around and reaching over to the closed portal behind him to try and rip it open. "I'll–"

He cried out in pain as electricity suddenly coursed through him in absurd amounts, certainly more than enough to send one back in time provided one were going at 88 miles an hour and had a flux capacitor. He fell, stunned, and breathed in the gas…


Yuuno looked at the huge crater and sighed, glad he'd been able to put up a barrier just in time. "Well," he said in the sudden silence as the aftershocks of Khilipl Astrape died down. "I'd say that's definitely one way to bring one of these things down." Next to him, Diana and Arika nodded, the former stunned, the latter exasperated.

On top of what was left of, well, anything, Nagi let out a howl of triumph. "Oh yeah! I AM THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD!"

Arika sighed. "Excuse me, I have to collect my husband," she said, sounding both fond and annoyed.

"Amazing," Diana breathed. "To think that he could call upon the power of Zeus himself… is he a great demigod?"

"Uh, not that I know of," Yuuno said as Arika reached over to unceremoniously pull at her husband's ear. "Though it might explain a few things about the family…" He sighed. "Well, one way or another we've accomplished the mission. Let's meet back with the others…"

Diana frowned. "This battle… it was nothing like what my sisters described. Where is the glory, the honor? The long recitations of one's lineage and their great deeds, one's town of birth and the makers of your sword, shield, boots and armor?"

"Yes, real life is like that," Yuuno said. "You need to have a lot of battle experience to be able to give the long recitations. It's not as easy as people make it out to be. Believe me, I've tried."


The world was in chaos. Gaia, the spirit of the earth, could no longer stand the terrible destruction plaguing our planet. She sent five magic rings to five special young people…

(We apologize for the utter stupidity of the preceding paragraph. The person responsible has been sacked.)

The world was in chaos. In many of the major cities of the world, giant tripods roamed, spreading fear and destruction… but in an orderly manner. Armies mobilized, but they were no match for the alien invaders advanced technology, despite all the effort they had put into weapons research since the last time this happened a year ago. People wailed, for they had never expected something like this to happen in their lifetime. For others, it was just another day in the big city, except with lasers.

And the various superheroes and Puella Magi– those who felt like doing anything– had their hands full.

In Uminari, Alisa panted, leaning against a convenient tree as the last of the tripod things was torn apart by the wing of the Unbreakable Dark, who preferred to be called Yuri. "Yeah!" she said wearily, letting go of Sakura's magic and feeling her barrier jacket dissolve into her regular clothes. "That's how we do things in Uminari, bitches!"

Suzuka winced slightly at the language as she demurely sat down next to her. "Well, it looks like we're done," she said, sounding relieved. "I wonder what's keeping Nanoha-chan?"

Alisa smirked. "Maybe she got distracted by something," she said.

"I hope not," Fate said, coming down to land next to them. "Nanoha-chan's not the kind to be distracted by little things."

There were three beeps, one after the armor. Everyone blinked as they reached for their cellphones and flipped them open. Inside were emails and attached pictures from Nanoha. Curious, they opened the message.

Inside were pictures of Nanoha posing with penguins.


"This is so selfish!" Suzuka said, agreeing for once. "I've always wanted to see a penguin!"

Fate sweatdropped. "Um, guys, there is a message attached…" she said, even as she scrolled down the quite frankly adorable pictures of Nanoha standing and sitting next to penguins.

They read.

"I think this is when we start calling the Association…" Fate said, beginning to compose a pre-defined message to call a general alert.


The Sailor Senshi sat around Makoto's apartment in various attitudes of repose, enjoying the relatively quiet day broken only by the occasional loud thump. Why anyone would be sending up fireworks in the middle of the day, they had no idea. Usagi and Minako were reclining as they read their latest manga, while Haruka and Hotaru were watching old Kamen Rider episodes. Ami and Michiru were discussing their swim times as Makoto and Rei did each other's nails. Setsuna was huddled at one end of the sofa, using her phone to check on the progress of her many online petitions to have Pluto redeclared a planet as the two cats curled up next to each other.

When her phone beeped to indicate she'd gotten a message, she'd made an annoyed sound. When everyone else's phones went off at about the same time, the rest of the room groaned. They knew what that meant. Automated message. That was never fun. No one ever used the automated messages to send up invites for parties at the bottle resort, for one thing.

"What's it say?" Rei asked, blowing frantically on her nails even as she resigned herself to another ruined nail job.

"…" Haruka said. "Setsuna, did you know there was going to be an alien invasion today?"

Makoto groaned. "Is it another dark kingdom? Dark baron? Dark fiefdom? Dark communists? Well, there goes my nerves for the rest of the year…Again."

"It's not a dark kingdom, it's an alien invasion," Ami said, reading quicker than any of them. "Apparently, with space ships and invading robots and everything."

Usagi frowned as another loud thump reverberated through the air. "Are you sure? I mean, wouldn't that kind of thing be obvious? These things are always attacking Tokyo and destroying Tokyo Tower. You'd think we'd hear it happening, even over all these fireworks that have been going off all day."

There was a beat

"Those aren't fireworks, are they?" Minako said.

Haruka quickly switched the TV from the video player to a news channel.

"–enes of destruction around the world as more of the alien tripod walkers land," the American newscaster for Metro News Ichi said as her hair blew wildly against the wind machine and the monkey in the diaper threw marshmallows at her. "Armed forces and superheroes are valiantly fighting to protect our world against the dread menace. Reports have come in of strong resistance in Mahora City, Mitakihara City and Kyoto, while the cities of Uminari and Fuyuki are apparently untouched thanks to the efforts of their Mahou Shoujo and a gigantic blue dome has encompassed Tomoeda. In Misaki, a giant meido robot has apparently appeared from out of nowhere and is battling the invaders using standard rocket punch weaponry and breast flamethrowers. Meanwhile, our own Tokyo remains untouched thanks to the dedicated efforts of our own heroes, allowing the JSDF and Big Science Action to mobilize elsewhere. In other news, the mayor of Tokyo has decried giant robot breast weapons to be lewd and leading to unhealthy thinking in our youths. He has claimed to have already begun work on drafting a bill to make giant robotic breast weaponry illegal to use in Tokyo…"

The news went on as silence descended in the Kino living room.

"If anyone asks, we knew right away and have been defending the city all morning, okay?" Usagi said.

There were embarrassed coughs before they all proceeded to transform.


It was quiet in space. Too quiet.

"I hate feeling helpless like this," soon-to-be-retired Admiral Lindy Harlaown said, sipping nervously from her over-sugared cup of green tea. It was a mark of the seriousness of the situation that Amy didn't so much as give her a disapproving look. The Asura lay in orbit above the planet, slunted slightly sideways dimensionally to remain undetectable. "Any word on the reinforcements?"

"Special Community Service recruit Shamal is en route to the main office for relay here," Allex reported. "Special Community Service recruit Vita is still in the middle of her Lost Logia pacification assignment, but she reports she will have, and I quote, 'beaten the crap out of it' within half an hour. Special Community Service recruits Zafira and Signum are still undercover for the illegal familiar prostitution ring sting, which is scheduled to commence in two hours. And Enforcer Chrono is apparently negotiating a traffic ticket. He reports he'll be here soon provided he doesn't murder anyone."

"That's our noble Enforcer," Amy chirped, and there a lightening of the mood as the bridge crew chuckled.

"Admiral!" Landy cried. "Sensors are detecting an enormous object approaching the planet!"

That killed the mirth. "Onscreen!" Lindy ordered, setting her teacup down.

The shape appeared on the ship's holographic monitors as the small but growing asymmetrical structure approached the planet.

"Ew…" Amy said, even as her fingers flew over the touch controls, calling up scans and readings. "It looks like it's the same kind of pseudo-organic morphic design as the ones that landed. We're picking up some kind of ionic fusion reading and…" she sighed, "yet another barely-known magic type we're not properly calibrated to read. Honestly, how much weird magic does this crappy dimensional space have?"

"Temper, officer Limietta," Lindy said, although she was thinking the same thing. "Is it on the planetary index?"

Amy checked them blinked. "It… is? A similar energy was filed a couple of months ago, during the Book of Darkness case."

"Notify our allies on the ground," Lindy said. "Technically, this is their problem. Unless we receive orders or a request for assistance, our hands are tied." Lindy smoothly sat down on her chair. "In the meantime, why don't we have the crew run some drills. Just to keep their hand in."

"The kind of drills that mean we have to warm up the guns and clear the decks for the Arc-en-Ciel?" Amy said, straight-faced.

"Exactly. It's been a while since we've had a good Dimensional Shot preparation drill," Lindy said, just as straight-faced. "Have to keep the crew on their toes, after all…"


There was chaos in Metropolis. Mobs were going around fighting, breaking and looting. Army units trying to attack the tower that had arisen were destroyed with contemptuous ease, despite the efforts of the local heroes who didn't have an S on their chest. Steel had his hands full, unable to go for the attack when it was all he could do to help keep people safe. Lois Lane was, as usual, only inches away from death, her only acknowledgement to how dire the situation was a pair of flats and a safety helmet. The kind that was 'shoot-my-head-off' orange. Few people saw the little white fox-cat thing going from lone little girl to little girl…

Above, J'onn, Batman and Diana stared down at the chaos. Many seemed to be celebrating the chaos and horror, if the faint, joyful cries of "We're all doomed!" were anything to go by. Batman ignored it, focused on the tower some blocks away from them.

"Perhaps my sisters were right about mankind," Diana said. "They're nothing but untamed savages."

"Do not judge them too harshly," J'onn said, staring down, eyes slightly out of focus. "They act out of fear."

Batman was silent as he stood slightly to the side. Something caught this eye, and he silently jumped off the building, swinging down in time to kick a gun out of some pimply-teenager's hand as he leveled it at an old man. The old man ran as he descended, while the boy just screamed. Batman ignored him, taking the gun and disassembling it, taking out the firing pin and throwing the rest down a drain. That done, he sent a grapnel upwards, pulling himself back to the rooftop in time to hear J'onn ask, "Where is the Green Lantern that went with you?"

"Down there," Batman said, pointing at a slight green glow. "With the rest of the savages."

J'onn and Diana turned to look. Yuuno had just finished putting up a sign with a big arrow that read 'Run this way to get away from alien invaders'. Around him, small green constructs were shooting a foamy spray at small fires that had broken out. He stood on top of a green box that looked like it was made of wood, with the word 'mikan' on one side as he raise a small bullhorn to his mouth. "Everyone, please proceed in an orderly manner towards the indicated safe zones. We ask those who are able to assist the elderly and young children. No pushing, there's plenty of road to run away on to go around." He paused as a little boy ran up to him, crying and pointing at a burning building. He nodded and left the bullhorn floating there, repeating his message as he grabbed the boy and flew towards the building. After a hasty conference while the little green constructs began shooting foamy spray at the fire, Yuuno flew inside. A few moments later, he came out carring a bowl with a goldfish, a cage with some hamsters, a dog, a box of puppies, and a grandmother wrapped in a blanket. As he carefully put down the various pets, the little boy hugged his grandmother while Yuuno offered her a tank of oxygen.

"We're not all monsters, princess," Batman said as he threw the firing pin off the building. "Not all the time."

In the distance, a green light twinkled.

A few minutes later, Flash ran up the building. "Antarctica was awesome!" he cried, grinning widely. "We took penguin selfies! Wanna see?"

He was met with flat stares.

"Maybe later," he said breezily, looking around. "Hey, where's Supes and Hawkgirl?"

"Where's your partner?" Diana asked.

Flash blinked, looking around. "She was right behind me, wasn't she?" he said.

J'onn looked over the edge of the building. "There," he said, pointing. They all looked.

Lots of little Green Lanterns were waving people away from the tower, catching looters and putting hats on them that said 'looter', while others put stolen items back to the stores where they'd come from. Others stood guard in front of apartments, broken windows and cars, while several more seemed to be gathering up people who were hurt and setting up a triage unit.

A few minutes later, Yuuno and Nanoha flew up to the roof, the latter smiling brightly as she put away her phone. "Mission accomplished!" she said happily. "How were things with you, Superman-sama?" There was a beat. "Hey, where's Superman?"


Nanoha, calm down, Yuuno thought at her as he held back his partner with magic chains.

"How can I be calm?-!-?-!-?-!-?-!" Nanoha cried as she strained against the bonds. "Who knows what they could be doing to him in there! They could be brainwashing him again, or stealing his evolutionary rights, or forcing him to fight to the death to broadcast on TV, or infecting him with a leach-like parasite that turns him into one of the living dead, or stealing his life force in the name of their dark kingdom, or making him watch Twilight! They could be doing all sorts of horrible things to Superman!"

"And Hawkgirl too," Flash reminded her.

"Yes, her too!" Nanoha said belatedly. "We need to go in there and rescue him! Them!" she corrected herself.

"To do that, we need a plan," Batman said. "What do you intend to do, just charge in?"

"I'll scan for the nearest Kryptonian and Thanagarian life signs, put a shield around them, and blow up everything else!" Nanoha said.

Yuuno raised an eyebrow. "That's… a lot more violent than what you usually do," Yuuno said. "Aren't you going to try and talk to them, like usual? Make friends? Say what sad eyes they have? Shoot them in the face with Starlight Breaker?"

"I don't aim for the face!"

"She goes for the face?" Flash said.

"Only with the magic pink doom beams," Yuuno said.

"I don't aim for the face!" Nanoha repeated. "We need to go and recue Superman! And that other person!"

"He's Superman," Flash said. "He should be all right. I mean, people have been trying to kill him for years, and he's still around. I'd be more worried about Hawkgirl. Last I checked, she's not bulletproof."

"No, Superman is very fragile!" Nanoha said in the face of years of evidence to the contrary. "He doesn't have mental protections! If they brainwash him and send him to attack the world again, it would be horrible." As looks of horror that came over Flash and Yuuno's faces, she added, "He'd feel so bad afterwards if he ended up hurting someone while he's like that!"

"I don't know him as well as you do, but I'm pretty sure you've got your priorities on backwards," Yuuno said, sweatdropping.

"Enough with the histrionics," Batman snapped. "If you're so intent on getting to him, then we need a plan to do just that."

"I can dismantle the whole tower and capture everyone inside in a bubble," Nanoha said. "That way they can't respond in time to hurt him. And Hawkgirl. People are always surprised when I dismantle whatever they're inside of."

Yuuno nodded knowingly. "She's right. They usually are."

"The tower doesn't have individual parts," Batman said. "It looks organic, like it was grown."

"Then I flay and filet the tower into pieces and trap everyone inside in bubbles!"" Nanoha declared. "Same result!"

"And the tripods?" Batman said.

"I launch them into the sun!" Nanoha declared.

"Okay, seriously, you're worrying me," Yuuno said. "This isn't like you. I mean, aren't you worried about the people inside? I mean, I know they're invaders and aliens, but that's never stopped from just putting the restraints on them and tossing them into… well, whatever we use as a jail." Yuuno frowned. "What do we use as a jail?"

"Throw it into the sun?" Diana scoffed. "Surely you jest. Is such a thing even possible?"

"Yes," Yuuno, Nanoha and J'onn chorused.

Diana blinked. "Oh," she said. "Are you a great demigod? A daughter of Zeus perhaps, or Poseidon?"

"Who?" Nanoha asked, confused.

Batman was thoughtful, as if he was seriously considering Nanoha's suggestions. Finally, he said, "We can't be sure how much the invaders are holding the prisoners," he said. "For now, we shouldn't rely on methods so extreme."

Yuuno blinked. Wait, those methods were considered extreme on this planet too?

"Do you intend for us to skulk in like cowards as well?" Diana said.


Batman, Flash, J'onn and Green Lantern-chan flew in through a hole in the side of the tower as, behind, them, battle cries and explosions rang as Diana and Yuuno fought against the tripods. Yuuno was holding back to keep them distracted, since if they were completely destroyed the guards inside the tower might move to higher alert, but Diana had made no such promise.

"Well, she seems happy," Flash said as Diana's battle cry echoed behind them. "She will be all right, won't she?"

"My partner's with her," Nanoha said. "And his expertise is shields and support. With Diana-san attacking and him keeping them from hurting her, it's only a matter of time. This way!"

"Are you sure?" Batman said.

"Hard to confuse Kryptonian life form readings with anything else," Nanoha said. "We need to hurry!"

They crept through the facility, Nanoha keeping them invisible from the occasional invaders that trooped past as the tower shook with the fighting outside. The insides of the tower was a maze, with lazily arcing tendril-pathways with no safety guards of any sort. It took a lot of effort for Nanoha to keep herself from leaving a ticket charging them with non-compliance with safety regulations. It all seemed very inefficient.

Eventually, the path they were on came to a dead end, and Nanoha's ring pointed straight at it.

"There are here," J'onn said, touching the wall, which seemed to swirl like a seashell seen form above. "I can sense them."

"Get back," Nanoha said as a door-sized cutting ring formed in front of her, its spinning teeth towards the wall. She pushed it forward, carving through the disgustingly organic barrier in front of her with slow deliberation as she tried to muffle the sound of the redecoration. "Keep an eye out. I don't know how long before I hit an alarm. "

Now that she was here, almost within ten feet of him, she was a little embarrassed at her almost hysterical reaction before. Blow everyone up? Really? What had she been thinking?-! All right, it was fun to do, but... Still, her concerns had been real. After all, the whole world depended on Superman to save them. Who could he depend on to save him?

Almost a year ago, she'd taken that duty upon herself. When she'd found him, standing like that on top of the Daily Planet, the city no longer willing to accept his help in rebuilding as it had before, when she'd seen the sadness in his eyes so strong that she had needed to tear her eyes away to give him a hug... she'd made it her duty. She wouldn't let that sad look come to his eyes again. It had been the same when she'd met Fate. So much loneliness...

Her cutting drill construct ate through the wall, pushing the cut-off part through a perfectly round hole into the cell beyond. There was still no alarm. In hindsight, that should have warned them.

Inside, Superman was encased from the legs down in... well, it looked like the same substance as the wall they're just drilled through. She was vaguely aware of the winged woman similarly encased next to him. Nanoha paid her little mind. The others could see to Hawkgirl. She rushed to Superman's side, alarmed. Even a cursory glance showed he was wan and pale, and she could hear his labored breathing. "What have they done to you?" she gasped, raising her ring even as she stepped forward, dropping her aura so she could feel his temperature…

Beneath them, the floor exploded with spouts shooting vivid yellow gas. It caught Nanoha completely by surprise as the gas was blown directly in her face. With one whiff, her throat burned as the whole world seemed to tilt sideway. Cold and darkness didn't so much as creep over her as hit her with a truck, and she knew no more…

On her finger, her ring flashed. Attention, this is an automated message…

- To be continued...

A/N: CLIFFHANGER! I'd say this is a decent size. It's already about three times larger than the same chapter in the last fic. Arc finale comes next chapter!

So, it's either a bromance or… well, you know.

Please review, C&C welcome. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO THE TROPES PAGES!-!-!-!

Until next time, this is Shadow, signing off.