Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha

Jaded Marble

 

Back to Chapter 2       Return to Index           Skip to Chapter 4

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Nanoha inhaled deeply, letting the smells of Uminari remind her of her childhood home. They had arrived at the old breakfast cottage that Fatefs mother, Lindy, had bought on Mount Sakuradai so they could use it as a transfer point that wouldnft be easily spotted. Mount Sakuradai, even though it has walking paths, is not often visited, and the cottage is on private land as well, making it the perfect spot to transfer in. There was a shuffle from outside and the door opened briskly.

eAh, I thought I heard something... You guys are late you know!f Arisa called from the door way, her hands on her hips. She wore a white top over a long pink dress which was tightened around her waist by a thin brown leather belt. Her abundant hair was still kept at shoulder height, even though Nanoha had told her that she liked it better when it was long. She walked forward to take her two friendfs hand, and finally let it show that she was truly glad to see them again.

eSorry, Arisa. Nanoha had to attend to something before we could come here,f Fate said. Arisa shot a concerned look at Nanoha, but then noticed the little girl besides her.

eVivio!f she cried as she dropped to her knees and hugged her. She then pushed herself away from the girl slightly, looking her up and down as she noticed that when she was on her knees, Vivio stood taller than her now. eOh wow, youfve grown since I last saw you, havenft you?f Vivio chuckled in reply. eWait a minute...f Arisa said after further investigation of the girlfs growth, ehave you been crying Vivio...?f

eMm...f Vivio said as she looked down in sadness, remembering what had just happened at the Infinity Library. eBut Mama was there and sorted everything out, so Ifm okay now!f The little girl brightened up and then gave Arisa a big hug.

eShe better have, or Ifd be angry at her right now!f Vivio chuckled again. Arisa looked up to Nanoha and was going to say something when she noticed something. eWait... Nanoha, youfve been crying too!f she cried, jumping up and taking her friendfs hands.

Nanoha laughed nervously. eDonft worry about it Arisa, Ifm okay now. As Vivio said, Ifve sorted everything out. Anyway, wefre a bit late, Ifm sure everyonefs waiting for us.f Arisa agreed hesitantly, and the party made their way to Arisafs car.

They were to meet with Nanohafs and Fatefs family at Nanohafs house. Her family have left the cafe to their employees for the day, and Lindy could afford a few hours to check up on her children and grandchildren, but unfortunately, Suzuka and Chrono were too busy to make it. On the way, Arisa told of her new business she created with Suzuka, BT Constructions. Arisa had graduated from university with a bachelor in Business Marketing, and Suzuka graduated with a diploma in structural engineering and design. So far, their small company has made a handful of small complexes; some restaurants, convenience stores and random public facilities including a public park toilet, which Arisa was greatly embarrassed about. At the moment, theyfre tackling their largest assignment yet, and one that Arisa and Suzuka are taking much pride in; the reconstruction of the Seishou Elementary Schoolfs gym, which was demolished last year due to old age. After the pair heard the news of the plan to reconstruct the gym, they fought hard to earn the rights to build it. They won due to Suzukafs re-designed version of the original plan, and Suzuka couldnft attend todayfs reunion as she was busy at the site, overseeing its construction.

It didnft worry Arisa though, as she leaves all the technical and practical side of the construction business to Suzuka. Itfs her forte after all. Arisa takes care of all the management, finance and appointments. She told her friends how she dreams that the business would one day be the first name on anyonefs mind if they wanted any building to be constructed, whether it be a house or a skyscraper. To Arisafs irritation, Vivio asked her if she wanted to build anymore public toilets.

Fate told Arisa of the investigation that she was involved in and all the problems it was but shouldnft be causing. Nanoha told Arisa of her promotion and assignment as headmistress, and Vivio told Arisa about her mother working too hard. Arisa asked about what happened during the two months, but Nanoha simply told her that shefd tell everyone at the same time. And eventually, they arrived at the Takamachi residence. As Nanoha stepped out of the vehicle and Vivio excitedly ran straight for the gate, eagerly ringing its door bell. She smiled fondly as she remembered the first time she brought Vivio to see her grandparents, and Vivio wasnft eager at all.

 

Vivio nervously hid behind Nanoha, hugging her leg. Fate and Nanoha simply laughed at the childfs fretting, and constantly reassured her that it was alright, but she wouldnft let go. It was a cold night on New Yearfs Eve, but there wasnft any snow on the ground or any clouds in the sky. Fatefs mother opened the gate to the Takamachi residence, and was the first to greet Vivio for the first time.

eMy, whofs this we have here,f she said, kneeling down to get to Viviofs height, but Vivio shied behind Nanohafs leg, holding her brown bear that replaced her pink on tight. Lindy looked a bit saddened, but continued on. eDo you remember who I am?f she asked, and Vivio gave a quick nod.

eWhy donft you greet her, Vivio, just like we practiced?f Nanoha said, kneeling down and putting an arm around her daughter. Vivio looked down to the ground, anxious and worried, but she eventually gave a short, quick nod, and Nanoha gently pushed her forward so she was standing in front of Lindy.

eHel...f Vivio started, but her nerves played with her and she hesitated, hugged her doll bunny tighter and her glance shifted between Lindy and the ground. Lindy smiled warmly, and Vivio drew herself together and tried once more. eHello... My namefs Takamachi Vivio... Itfs good to meet you, Lindy-mama-mama...f

 

eLindy-mama-mama!f Vivio cried joyfully as she jumped into Lindyfs arms, giggling with glee.

eYoufve been growing again, havenft you, Vivio?f Lindy questioned the girl, poorly pretending to be cross.

eI canft help it, itfs the way Ifm made!f Vivio chuckled.

eNanoha, itfs good to see you again,f Lindy continued with Vivio still wrapped around her. eYoufve had us all worried there.f

eI know, and Ifm really sorry. But Ifm okay now. Ifll tell you what happened when everyonefs around,f Nanoha replied with a hint of guilt in her voice, but still smiled pleasantly, happy to see the Admiral again.

eReally? Then I suppose we have nothing to worry about anymore.f Lindy then turned her attention to her daughter. eFate... Come here and giver your mother a hug!f she cried, being over dramatic.

eSeriously, mother... Ifm twenty-five now!f Fate protested, but was still hugged anyway.

eHonestly, Fate, you should know by now...f Arisa laughed as she put a hand on her friendfs shoulder while her mother held her with an overly joyful face, and Vivio squashed between them. eRegardless of your age, your mother will always want a hug from you!f

eArisa...f Nanoha and Fate said in unison, both concerned from Arisafs comment. Six years ago, shortly after the Dr. Scagliettie incident, her parents had died in a plane crash. Arisa had acted strong in front of her friends, but when she thought they werenft there, shefd let her emotions flow. She was truly devastated, as she never got to spend much time with her parents, and now would never get the chance. She was too young to take over her fatherfs company as well, and it was sold off.

Lindy noticed Fatefs concern, then realised she could be upsetting Arisa and quickly let go of Fate.

eHuh...? Whatfs up you guys?f Arisa asked. eDonft tell me youfre all worrying over me again... Seriously, Ifm fine now! Itfs been seven years, donft worry about it anymore. Ifm over it.f She put her hands behind her head and smiled wickedly. eItfs your turn now, Nanoha. Come on, letfs go inside.f

 

Nanoha entered her house, replaced her shoes with slippers and made her way into the lounge room. Fate and Lindy followed behind, casually talking about nothing in particular, and Vivio once again found her place hugging Nanohafs leg. The lounge room was already lively as her family entertained Suzuka, her elder sister Shinobu and their maids, Arisa, Hayate and her knights, and finally, Aruf, Amy and her two children. It was the first day of the Takamachifs annual New Yearfs reunion, but unfortunately, Chrono was too busy to make it.

Particular attention was being paid to Arisa, as it was her first New Years without her parents. It was the only day when she was guaranteed to see her parents, and everyone wanted to cheer her up, though she constantly insisted she was fine.

The party quickly quietened as they all realised the last two people had arrived, but many were surprised to see a small addition to the party.

eHey everyone, wefre back!f Nanoha said cheerfully, but the silence that answered her confused her, as her family and friends looked at her oddly. eWhat is it...?f she asked.

eNanoha...?f her sister, Miyuki, asked with careful curiosity, ewhofs that girl holding onto you?f

eHuh? Hasnft anyone told you?f Nanoha asked, and her sister just shook her head. Nanoha smiled and knelt down to Vivio again. eCome on, Vivio. Itfs time to introduce yourself. Donft be shy now.f

Vivio once again, held her bunny tightly to her chest and took a shy step forward, looking at the ground. eHello... My name is Takamachi Vivio...f she was cut off by several cries of disbelief from the lounge room, and Vivio ran to her motherfs protection.

eYou didnft have to react like that!f Nanoha complained as she comforted the little girl. eShe was so nervous about meeting everyone, she wasnft sure if youfd like her.f

eNanoha! Whatfs the meaning of this?f her brother, Kyouya cried.

eThe meaning of this...? Viviofs my daughter.f

eYoufre daughter...?f Miyuki cried in disbelief.

eNow, now,f her mother said with a laugh as she stood up. eSorry I didnft tell you, Kyouya, Miyuki. I wanted to surprise you.f She made her way over to Vivio, who was cowering in her motherfs arms. eSo you must be Vivio. Ifve heard lots and lots about you.f

eVivio, do you know who this person is?f Nanoha asked her daughter. Vivio looked to Momoko from the corner of her eyes, and then shook her head. eThis personfs my mother.f

eNanoha-mamafs Mama?f Vivio asked weakly.

eThatfs right,f Momoko answered for Nanoha. eIfm your motherfs mother.f

eMama-mama?f Vivio asked again.

eThatfs right. Come on now, donft be shy,f Nanoha said as she gently pushed her daughter towards Momoko. Vivio took a few steps forward, but stopped and cringed as Momoko leant forward and picked her up and held her tight.

eWhat a gorgeous little girl you are,f Momoko said and then looked at her curiously. Vivio was still a bit scared, but was now looking at her grandmother too. eYoufve got the most beautiful eyes.f Momoko added, and then Vivio leant forward and gave her grandmother a hug, much to her surprise.

eMama-mama!f Vivio chuckled.

 

            eNanoha, Vivio! Welcome home!f Miyuki cried as she gave her sister and niece a warm and welcoming hug as they entered the house.

            eOnee-san...? I thought you were supposed to be at university today...f Nanoha said in surprise.

eDid you really expect me to go some boring lecture about event management after I heard my troublesome little sister was coming home?f Miyuki then turned her attention to her niece. eWhat have you been up to Vivio? Staying out of trouble I hope.f

eOf course!f Vivio giggled.

They made their way into the lounge room, where Amy sat on the couch, overlooking her children as Aruf tried to end their argument on whether the toys they were playing with were dolls or action figures. Momoko and Shiro, Nanohafs father, were in the kitchen preparing a meal. Aruf was the first to notice that they had entered the room.

eFATE!f the familiar cried as she dropped the two toys that were the centre of the argument, leapt from the ground and threw herself into her masterfs arms. The twins followed suit, and then eventually, everyone had gathered together.

eNanoha, Ifm so glad to actually see you again,f her mother said as she gently embraced Nanoha.

eMm... Sorry for not being here for you, Mum...f Nanoha replied, returning the embrace.

After all the greetings and welcoming had finished, they all gathered in the lounge room as Nanoha told everyone what had happened between her and Yuuno, from when Caprice first entered the picture, up until her leaving the Infinity Library that afternoon. Vivio added points of information here and there as she sat on her grandmotherfs lap, and also told them all of how Caprice had interfered with her school life. Aruf and Fate had taken the young twins into the yard as they were too young to understand the conversation and quickly became restless. Everyone gave Nanoha and Vivio words of comfort, and her father even praised her handling of the situation.

eGood job, Nanoha! I couldnft have done a better job myself!f her father said said.

eShiro...! Canft you say anything else?f her mother complained, and her father shrugged.

eIf anyone had hurt any one of my family like that, a broken jaw is the least theyfd get away with!f

Fate, Aruf and the twins then came back inside and conversations broke out between guests and hosts. Vivio had perched herself on Arisafs lap and they were talking about a book Vivio had started reading. The two had shared an unusual bond; Vivio treated Arisa like an older sister, and Arisa treated Vivio like a younger sister. Nanoha was happy regardless, as long as her daughter was smiling and getting along with everyone.

 

Vivio gingerly skipped along the corridor upstairs. Her mother had just asked the little girl to fetch a photo album that she kept on her desk, in her room. Originally, her mother was going to get it herself, but Vivio knew that it had been a long time since she last met her family, and offered to go for her. The truth is though, she wanted to see her motherfs room and explore the house. She felt a lot better now that she had met everyone, and found that everyone loved her just as much as her mother does, especially her grandmother, Momoko, who Vivio had to forcefully separate herself from or shefd still be in her arms right now.

She found her motherfs room and carefully opened the door, peering inside carefully, just in case something was inside. But the room was too dark too see in, the closed curtains prevented the light from the moon and the street into the room. She searched the wall for a light, and when she found it the room exploded with light, and Vivio gasped in excitement. This was where her mother grew up. There was a bed with pink blankets in the corner, a desk opposite it covered with photos and neatly stacked books and a book case besides it brimming with books. On the wall above the desk was a cork board that was littered with photos, some of which Vivio recognised from the photos above her motherfs bed at Section 6.

Vivio excitedly jumped onto her motherfs bed and rolled around on it. It felt as warm and as comfortable as her mother did. She lay on the bed for a while, enjoying its comfort before she remembered her original mission, and then made her way off the bed, tidied it up from where she rolled around, and then made her way to the cluttered desk. Her mother had told her to search for a green photo album, but Vivio was distracted by the array of photos from her motherfs school days. There were photos from when Nanoha was in first grade on her desk, and Vivio picked some of them up and looked at them with amazement. She wondered how her mother could be so small, and look so insecure. She then made her way across the photofs to Nanohafs first day in Junior High School, then some pictures with her friends in High School, then there were photos of her mother accepting awards and promotions at the bureau. Vivio was simply amazed at how different her mother looked in the photos to how she looks now, even though Nanoha is only nineteen years old.

Eventually, she found the photo book and carefully removed it from the desk so she wouldnft disturb anything else. Her grandparents had told her that they keep the room as it was when her mother left to live in Midchilda, so as itfll be like she never left when she came back. She then scurried to the door and looked at the room one last time. She smiled as she felt closer to her mother than ever before now, turned off the light and closed the door.

As Vivio skipped back down the corridor to meet up with her mother again downstairs, eager to debrief her family on her mission to retrieve the green photo book, when a noise from one of the many other doors in the corridor caught her attention. Her grandmother had told her that this was now her house too, and that she was always welcomed here. Therefore, Vivio deducted as she stood in the corridor, it was her duty to protect it and investigate any disturbances too. She gathered her courage and crept to the door the noise was coming from. She could see light coming from underneath the door, and a shuffling and shifting noise, with some muffled cries. She quickly became concerned that someone was being attacked in the room, remembering what it was like when she was bound and gagged, but knew that there was nothing she could do if it was the case. If someone was being attacked in the room, figured shefd have to run downstairs and tell her mother so she could beat up the bad guys, but Vivio also knew she couldnft be caught in the process. She gently turned the door handle and opened the door slightly, peeking in and hopping that if there was a bad guy inside, the bad guy didnft notice.

There was no bad guy though, and Vivio was thankful for it. Instead, one of Nanohafs friends was in the room, sitting on a stool in front of a large mirror. Vivio gently opened the door some more to get a better look at her motherfs friend. She realised that the room was a bathroom. The bathing area itself was hidden behind an iced glass divider and sliding door. The mirror Nanohafs friend was sitting behind had a sink and basin under it, with several beautifying tools, creams and powders cluttered around it. Nanohafs friend seemed to have a hand towel to her face and was... crying? Vivio wasnft expecting this. She stood in the doorway, looking up at Nanohafs blonde haired friend with a puzzled expression. Nanohafs friend seemed to notice too, as she sniffled heavily.

eWhofs there?f she cried and made an attempt of wiping her face with the towel, as if she were drying it. She removed the towel from her face, placing it on the basin, and looked to whoever it was who was in the door way. eOh, itfs only you...f she said, realising it was Vivio who had stumbled across her. eWhat brings you up here, Vivio?f Arisa asked.

Vivio stood in the hallway, trying to figure out what to do. She was sure the lady was crying, but now it seems that she wasnft crying at all. She looked at the lady some more, trying to figure out if she was crying or not before figuring out how shefd go about answering her question. No, she had been crying, her eyes were red and streaked. But now her problem was what to do about it. Was she to simply act as if she was crying? Was she to just answer her question, or should she do something to comfort her? She figured that she should comfort her... but now her problem was how to comfort her.

Arisa was getting a bit irritated as the small girl just stood in the doorway, staring at her with a dumbfounded expression. She was going to coax a reply out of the girl when she suddenly ran forward and hugged her again.

eWai- Hold on! What are you doing Vivio?f Arisa cried in surprise as the little girl almost knocked her off the stool. eCome on Vivio, let me go. Shouldnft you be with Nanoha downstairs?f Arisa said, her irritation growing.

eNo.f Vivio said defiantly. She had decided she was going to comfort her motherfs friend, and she wasnft going to leave until she had done just that.

eVivio, Ifm serious, let go of me!f Arisa argued, but the little girl wouldnft budge.

eNo!f Vivio repeated. eNot until you stop crying!f

eCrying...? I wasnft crying. See, look, not a tear. A smile even.f Arisa pointed to her face as she tried to put on a smile, but her emotions were getting in the way and made her look rather scary instead.

eDonft lie!f Vivio cried, getting upset herself now. eEven though youfre not crying now, youfre still crying on the inside! Ifm the only one here, so Ifll comfort you! You can tell me whatfs wrong and I can make you feel better, thatfs what me and Mama always do!f

Arisa was going to argue back, but she chocked on her words. The little girl had struck a chord. She fought with herself to try and say something so the girl would leave her alone, but eventually gave up. She sighed deeply and put a hand on the Viviofs head.

eItfs nothing really... I feel rather stupid for crying about it actually...f she told Vivio, who was listening intently. eThis time of the year would be the only time I was guaranteed to see my parents. Theyfd take time off work and fly back home to be with me. Itfs the only time where theyfd ignore everything work, and just pay attention to me.f She picked Vivio up and held her like a pillow.

eDid something happen?f Vivio asked after short period of silence. Tears started to fall down Arisafs cheeks again, and she nodded shallowly.

eThey died. In a plane crash.f Arisa answered weakly, her voice shaking with emotion. eNow Ifll never see them again. And now Ifve lost my family. Ifm the only one left...f she trailed off as she cried silently, holding the little girl close.

eI donft have any parentfs either.f Vivio said. She wasnft sure if it was going to cheer her motherfs friend up, but it was something. eWell, I didnft have any parentfs until Nanoha-mama found me.f Arisa didnft reply though, and Vivio sat in her motherfs friendfs embrace, wondering what to do. She was still determined to cheer Arisa up before she went back downstairs though, but was struggling for an idea. Then she got one.

eI know!f Vivio cried excitedly, which irritated Arisa somewhat. eI can be your sister then!f

Arisa looked at the girl, a bit worried. She had no idea what Vivio was thinking of, but thought the idea was absolutely ridiculous. eYoufll be my little sister?f

eYeah!f Vivio replied vigorously.

eNo way, I donft want to be Nanohafs daughter. Being her friend is hard enough sometimes.f

eNot real sisters!f Vivio chuckled. ePretend sisters!

ePretend sisters? Whatfs the difference?f

eTheyfre not real sisters! But they still do everything that real sisters do!f

Arisa gave the kid another worried look, but gave in again. eFine, then...!f she said with a sigh and Vivio hugged her again with a cheer.

eAre you feeling better, Arisa-nee-san?f Vivio asked cheerfully.

eNee-san...?f Arisa muttered under her breath, not believing the little girl was serious. eYes, yes Ifm better now. Okay? Letfs go back downstairs now,f she finally answered, taking Vivio off her lap. Vivio took her new pretend sisterfs hand happily. She had completed what she sought to achieve; her motherfs friend was now, genuinely, no longer crying or upset.

As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Arisa cried out, eNanoha, do something about youfre nosey daughter would you? She wonft leave me alone!f

eAh... Come here, Vivio,f Nanoha called out and Vivio cheerfully ran to her mother. eDid you get what I wanted?f

Vivio nodded energetically, eYeah, and I cheered up Arisa-nee-san!f

 

Nanoha was telling her mother about her current hassle at work, the nightmare of working her way through red tape to get her academy refurbished for next yearfs influx of new students. Fate was with her, but her niece and nephew had dragged her away to excitedly tell her about how they were going to spend time on their fatherfs ship sometime next month. Arisa then joined in the conversation, with Vivio holding her hand, and offered to help Nanoha work around her issue.

eBy the way, where did Fate go?f Arisa asked.

eShe was dragged away by Amyfs children not too long ago,f Momoko answered with a chuckle.

eIfll tell her later then... Nanoha, have you heard about the camping trip?f Arisa asked, a bit worried.

eAh... not the specifics. I got too wrapped up with Yuuno and my family, I kind of forgot...f Nanoha said with a nervous giggle. eSo where is it, and how long does it go for? I can only stay here for about a week.f

eI thought you havenft heard. I donft think Fate has either, seeing as we were only told where we were staying two days ago. Do you remember where Aokigahara Jukai is?f

eAokigahara...f Nanoha repeated in thought. eIsnft that the forest at the base of Mount Fuji?f

eOh that place!f Momoko exclaimed as she remembered. eItfs got a really bad reputation hasnft it? Apparently itfs haunted.f

eAh, yes. Isnft it also the suicide hot-spot of Japan?f Nanoha continued. eIf I remember correctly, they found over sixty suicides there in one year...f Nanoha felt Arisafs intense and anxious stare burn into her. She didnft like where this was going.

eYoufre joking, right Arisa-chan...?f Nanoha asked.

eI wish I was! That damn Yuki has gone crazy, I swear!f Arisa answered, crossing her arms angrily.

eWhatfs Yuki done now?f Fate asked as she returned after Amy gave Fate a well earned rest from looking after her children.

eShefs decided wefre having this camp at Aokigahara Jukai,f Nanoha replied.

eAokigahara...?f Fate said, recalling her geography of Japan. eAokigahara!?f she cried as she remembered. eIs it even legal to camp there?f

eIt seems Yuki managed to con some police officer to come, so I suppose so...f Arisa answered. She sighed and shifted her wait, then looked seriously to Fate and Nanoha. eSo what are you guys going to do? Itfs only for three days, but Ifm not going if you guys arenft. Sure, a copfs coming, but I donft think hefd be able to do anything if something... odd appears.f

eHmm? Arisa, I thought you didnft believe in superstitious stuff like that.f Fate said. Arisa looked at Fate angrily, then uncrossed her arms and placed her hands on her hips and lent forward.

eWell I didnft until a certain Christmas Eve where two of my friends suddenly decided they were mages.f Arisa retorted, and lent back crossing her arms again. eSo, you going or not?f

eWell... I donft see why not,f Nanoha conceded, putting her hands behind her head. eSure, it sounds like a creepy place, but Ifve come across worse things than imps and goblins before.f Fate also agreed with a nod, but Arisa was giving Nanoha an interested look.

eWorse things than imps and goblins?f she asked.

eOh yes. Sand dragons, for example, are a lot worse. Theyfre bigger than—e

eOkay, never mind,f Arisa cut Nanoha off, holding out her palm, eitfs probably best if I donft know.f She reached into her pocket and pulled her mobile phone out. eMight as well let Suzuka know that wefre going then,f Arisa said before placing the phone to her ear and walking towards a quieter part of the room.

eDoes Earth really have monsters though?f Momoko asked her daughter and Fate, slightly nervously.

eOf course not, mum!f Nanoha laughed. eWefd know by now if there were any!f

eOh thank goodness,f her mother sighed. eSo tell me about this gSand Dragonh thing, Nanoha!f

eYou sure?f Nanoha asked with a hint of warning in her voice. Her mother nodded.

eAs long as I wonft see it in my back yard, Ifd love to know about these monsters!f her mother said excitedly.

eI wanna know too!f Vivio cried as excitedly as her grandmother. eI might just see one anyway, itfs best if I know what it is before I come across it in real life!f

eOkay then, let me see if Ifve got any pictures of them. I remember doing a course of defending against Fauna once...f Nanoha sat down on the sofa and went through her image files, found the pictures she was after and explained the creature to her family. Eventually, everyone became interested, and for the rest of afternoon, Nanoha ended up telling everyone about the various dangerous creatures you can encounter within the dimensional sea.

 

 

eThis doesnft look good Jowett.f Grand Admiral Carrington was gazing out of her enormous office window, watching her city work through the night. eSomeone out there killed one of the Three Admirals. Mizeto is already dead, and if Admiral Leon dies, only the Saints will know what happens next.f

eNo offence, mafam, but the Admirals are aging.f Clarkson was leaning against the side of Carringtonfs desk, holding two vials. One was filled with clear blue liquid, the other was empty. eAny one argue that Kil only had a year at most to live anyways.f

eI know, but they founded this organisation Jowett!f Carrington turned to face him. eIf we lose the Three Admirals, we lose the foundation of this organisation! Moral will drop through the floor. We canft afford that.f With a sigh, Carrington sat back down behind her desk. She then gave an inquisitive glance to the Vindicator who was still leaning against her desk.

eIs that empty one the one you found in Kilfs room?f she asked.

eThis?f Clarkson put both down in front of her, and pointed to the full one. eThis one was found by Commander Mayfs men.f He moved his finger to the empty one. eThis one was found in Admiral Mizetofs room.f

Carrington stared at the vials for a moment before glaring at Clarkson. eAre you telling me that Admiral Mizeto was murdered?f

eItfs certainly possible now, mafam. And if thatfs the case, then—e

eThe Admirals are being targeted...f Carrington bit her lip. eThis just got a lot worse, Jowett.f They sat in silence for a bit as they thought over their options.

eWe need to protect Admiral Leon,f Carrington declared.

eIfve already sent a Ground Defence squad to his residence.f

eDo you trust them?f

eCanft say. I grabbed the first and closest squad there was.f

Carrington sighed. eLetfs see them.f

It took a while to find the squad that was assigned to guard former Admiral Leon, but it eventually was displayed before Carrington.

eNot bad, but they need a proper commander. The Sergeant has had no experience, he was promoted only a few weeks ago.f

eWefve all got to learn somewhere, mafam.f

eYes, Jowett, but when wefre sending a squad to guard a man of great importance, the last person youfd want to lead them is some green whofs crapping their pants every time the VIP looks at him. We need someone with experience.f

eIn that case, may I suggest someone?f

Carrington looked up. eSure.f

eCaptain Vita.f

eVita? Yagamifs knight?f

Clarkson nodded as he brought up Vitafs profile. eShe was at the scene this morning. Took it pretty badly too. Her squad told me that she spent a lot of time with the late General and enjoys the presence of elderly people. Not only that, but she had also spent a lot of time as the Three Admirals personal guard about five, six years ago.f

eWhat about her current squad?f

eTemporary assignment. Shefs supposed to be working under Major Takamachi at the 4th Academy. From what I can tell the Lieutenant is competent enough to take command.f

eRight. Get her over to Admiral Leon first thing tomorrow. Is the transfer station lock-down still in effect?f

eThe civilian one is, yes... Why?f

eIf we can get Leon off the planet, itfll be harder for this killer to track him. And if Ifm right...f Carrington brought up another profile listing and searched through. eHere. Just as I thought.f

Clarkson peered at the screen. eCorporal Mondial and Rushie? More Section 6 members?f

eThatfs right. Move Admiral Leon to be guarded by these two by the end of tomorrow.f

eTheyfre very young.f

eBut incredibly experienced. More experienced than that Sergeant, and have a much greater mage ranking.f

eTakamachi, Harlaown, Lanster, Yagami and now Mondial and Rushie... Is it just me, mafam, or have you taken a fascination to Section 6?f

eYes. Section 6 was one of the most effective squads Ifve ever seen in action. They deserve better than what they got.f

eThis wonft look good, mafam,f Clarkson warned. eNot many people liked Section 6.f

eThat because they got more results in the three months they were in operation than any other Section got in a year. But never mind that, what about this killer of ours?f

eShefs professional, managing to sneak into the mansion undetected, changed into one of the maidfs uniform, snuck into the Generalfs room and poisoned him with this drug.f

eShe drugged him? I thought his throat was slashed.f

Clarkson nodded. eIt was. The General did that to himself.f

eAnd why would he do that?f

eSo he could tell someone about it.f

Carrington sighed and hung her head. eDo we know what she looks like?f

eApart from height and stature, not much of her description can be of much use. Blonde hair, green eyes, about five foot nine, slim build, round face, fair complexion... The only camera footage we have of her is this...f

Another screen was brought up, showing a picture from one of the security cameras that watched over the street. A cloaked figure appeared walking up the street as the camera panned left, lost the figure as it panned right, and the figure was gone when it panned left again.

eNice trick,f Carrington said as the footage rewound to when the figure was still on screen. An analysis started to run over the image, correcting it in an attempt to reveal the figures face. eWhy do we know the killer is female though?f Carrington asked.

Clarkson gave her an odd look and hesitated before answering. eThe maid outfit, mafam.f

Carrington thought on it a bit. eRight...f she muttered. She looked at the image again and sighed. eThat image isnft going to help up... Is there any more footage of this figure in Neueburg? Can we trace her footsteps?f

eHalf an hour before she was caught on the previous tape, at Neueburg Station...f

The previous image that was under analysis was replaced by footage of the station being re-wound. Lights suddenly turned on, and the hooded figure appeared walking backwards at alarming speed, through the station gates and into the toilets. Other passengers appeared through the gates and onto the platform on the level below, just as someone came out of the toilets backwards and joined the other passengers. The footage stopped, then began to play normally.

eShe has red hair there... is this the same person?f Carrington asked.

eI believe so, mafam. Their stature is the same, as is the cloak. Though in my opinion, Ifd say that this one is also disguised.f

eWhat makes you say that?f

eJust a hunch.f

eAny traces on the vial?f

eNone, mafam.f

Carrington let out an annoyed groan as she picked up the full vial and rolled it between her fingers as she slouched back in her chair. eWhat is this anyways? Whatfs it do?f

eThat one Ifm not sure about,f said Clarkson as he pointed the vial. eBut there is a similar one being found by our officers around Midchilda. A narcotic wefre calling Blue Milk for now. From I gather it boosts a personfs Linker Core.f

eIsnft that dangerous?f

eVery. Although wefre not sure what the side effects are, from what Ifve been told by our scientists... they wonft be pretty.f

Carrington placed the vial back on the desk. eSo wefve got Blue Milk and... gBlue Waterh perhaps... You think theyfre connected?f

eAbsolutely. We found this one with a shipment of Blue Milk just a few dae There was a loud clang as the large metal doors to Carringtonfs office swung open.

eGrand Admiral Carrington!f a familiar voice almost shrieked as he strolled through the doorway, ignoring all protests from the secretary behind him.

Carrington buried her head in her hands. eOh for heavenfs sake...f she muttered to herself before looking up again and yelling, eNot now Charlie!f

eThe Senate wants to know aboue There was another clang as the doors shut behind Maybach, one he wasnft expecting as he jumped in fright. After he composed himself and straightened his jacket, he cleared his voice and continued. eThe Senate wants to know about the departure of the late –e

eThe Senate knows just as much as we do, Charlie. Get out of here.f

eWell, wefre in a good mood this evening arenft we?f Maybach said haughtily as he approached Carringtonfs desk, earning a glare from both the Admiral and Vindicator.

eYou forget your place, Senator,f Clarkson said as he straightened up. eI wonft allow any more rudeness to the Admiral.f

eHmph. The Senate wants to know about the –e

eYes we heard you the first time!f growled Carrington. eWefre in the middle of a meeting, so please, get the hell out! Youfre the last thing I need to deal with, Charlie!f

eI simply want to know what youfre planning, mafam,f Maybach said innocently. eThis way the Senate can move more swiftly and with little disruption... what are they?f he asked as he reached out for the two vials on the desk.

eNone of your business, Senator,f Clarkson said as he grabbed Maybachfs arm.

Maybach hesitated, looked Clarkson up and down before his face twisted in disgust. eUnhand me! How dare you!f he squealed as he ripped his arm free.

eTell me, Charlie,f Carrington said, her voice now calm but it still had an edge to it. She held her head while holding her temples. eWhofs in this Senate? Why donft I know anything about it? Why do we even have a Senate when wefve got the council?f She looked up at the Senator as he looked at her bewildered. eAnd why is it that whenever the Senate wants something, I have to see you!f

Maybach looked stunned, and his eyes tracked the room. eYou would prefer someone else?f he suggested.

eYes!f she cried. eNo! Look...f with an exhaustive sigh, Carrington pinched the bridge of her nose as she leant against her desk. eLook, I want you to write up a report. I want to know what your Senate does, exactly what it does. I know what a Senate is I just want to know what you guys are up to. And I want minutes of all your sessions. And a list of all your members too, donft look at me like that.f

There was another clang as the doors opened once more, but this time a security team walked through. eGet it done by tomorrow, Charlie,f Carrington continued, eor Ifll have Clarkson do an investigation on you lot.f

eHim?f Maybach squealed. eJust who is he anyways!? Ifve never seen his profile before, and now hefs suddenly your advisor!?f

eGuards!f Carrington roared as she jumped to her feet. eGet rid of this pest!f

eMafam!f they cried in unison as they grabbed Maybachfs arms and dragged him away protesting.f

There was a moment of silence after the clang of the closing door, and Carrington knuckled against her desk. eYou know,f she said to Clarkson without looking, eI really donft like those doors.f

A smile crept across Clarksonfs face. eYes mafam,f he responded.

eInvestigate that girl who killed General Kil. We need to find her fast.f

eYes mafam. I have an idea as to who she may be already though...f

Carrington looked up, this time she was surprised. eWhat?f

eYoufre not going to like this mafam. The security cameras were melted, as were the fencefs iron bars. Precisely too. And the dead workers were all cooked alive. I... I once knew a colleague with such abilities.f

eWhere is she?f

eRoque, mafam. Seven months ago.f

eThatfs when—e

eAdmiral Mizeto died. Yes, it is an alarming coincidence.f

eFind her, Jowett,f Carrington ordered. eBring her down.f

eMafam,f Clarkson nodded and strolled out of the room. And Carrington exhaustedly fell back into her chair and shut her eyes for a bit.

 

 

To Chapter 4

 

Return to Index