Author's Notes: Hey everyone, I'm TwoZeroTwo, author of three previous stories in the Lyrical Nanoha universe that include several original planets and characters within (Raze the Stray, Raise the Dawn, Times of Grace). Now, on the five year anniversary of when I uploaded the first chapter of that first story, I'm here with the fourth story set in this universe - and my final story as well for it - End of the Harvest. I'm considering it my last venture here since the timeline of this story is creeping up to the in-universe events of Nanoha Force, and while that's on hiatus I don't feel comfortable imagining an ending to that or where everyone is after Force. Hopefully this is one last exploration of the worlds and characters I've built up over the years...and is an interesting story on top of that as well.

So, I mentioned this is the fourth story in my series where each one continues after the previous material. Because 400+ thousand words of writing is a LOT to read if you haven't read me before, and because the third story (Times of Grace) was specifically an experiment to write an all-OC fic with only allusions to canon material, I want to make sure you shouldn't need to read my previous stories to understand this one. This plot will have the canon characters being thrust into a new situation, and any returning OCs should be able to explain what the canon group (AND YOU!) needs to know about them.

Otherwise, thank you for returning if you remember me from before or thank you for giving me a shot otherwise. I hope I can entertain and I hope you stick with me for one last ride.


If there's no way through for you, there's no way through for me
I refuse the cool gardens, I reject my honored seat
If there's no way through for you, there's no way through for me
I don't need the golden banners, I don't need the vain embrace

Now every road I take, no matter how far
Leads me back here, convicted by your smile
All is veined with a disease that I cannot escape
For troubled cells do not a healthy body make

There is no greater good if you're trodden underfoot

Paradise is a lie if we have to burn you at the stake to get inside.
Paradise is a lie if you're not by my side.

SubRosa - Troubled Cells


Chapter 1 - No Shelter


Planet: Administrated World #84 - Siba
City: Siba Capital
Date: Autumn 0080

Behind her desk, the newswoman looked at the camera.

"More Bureau programs have been temporarily suspended amid growing concerns of the violence spreading across Siba Capital. General Alcyone has addressed the public's response to the news, saying quote 'we are allocating only what is necessary to maintain order in the Capital', and that when peace returns, so will the Bureau's assistance. Tonight, we will hear stories from some of those personally affected by the recent events as they wonder how much larger this movement will grow."

The news feed was projected through a holographic screen to the three passengers of a car driving down a highway in Siba Capital. The driver, a young boy in his early-to-mid-teens with short, ruffled dark-brown hair and blue eyes, looked over occasionally at the screen while mainly keeping his attention on the road. The passenger across from him was a woman in her mid-twenties, with black hair that was cut short on one side while on the other side her hair grew down past her shoulder. Her dark purple eyes glanced over at the newsfeed that her device was projecting but she also seemed too preoccupied to truly pay attention. Finally, the third passenger was a young girl around the same age as the driver with short, thick, light brown hair and hazel eyes. Around her neck was a loose necklace with a light amber gem hanging in front. She sat in the backseat behind the older woman and leaned forward, staring at the screen and taking in every word being said. All three people were wearing the Time Space Administration Bureau's Ground Forces uniforms.

The mages listened to the newsfeed until Ferraz Delahaye looked down at her device.

"Subrosa, cut it - we've heard enough."

A dark purple gem with an outline and slight indentations forming the shape of a rose pulsed with dim light as it spoke.

[UNDERSTOOD]

The screen faded out and Ferraz put the standby form of her device back in her pocket. She looked out of the window at the city around her. The tall skyscrapers of the inner city were off in the distance. Immediately nearby were retail strips and other areas that made use of being just a short drive away from one of the many condensed housing areas of the city. It was bright enough outside but the view seemed hazy and obscured by a fog perceivable but not describable. After looking out for a couple seconds, Ferraz grunted with annoyance.

"I wish they would get me on their program," she said. "I'd straighten them out."

The younger boy in the driver's seat glanced over.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"They make it sound like we're letting this happen!" said Ferraz, responding quickly as if she was just waiting to be prompted. "They point out all these incidents first and then dare to ask what the Bureau's going to do about it. We're trying to stop this. We're trying to keep people safe. But if you keep bringing it to everyone's attention over and over and telling everyone about how this rebellion is growing, then more and more people with a chip on their shoulder are going to join it. We moved our officers out of those programs and over to the front lines to stop these incidents but now we have to deal with anyone that news angered. Do you get what I'm saying, Daito?"

Next to her, Daito Mazzanti sighed.

"Yeah…I guess so."

Ferraz chuckled softly.

"I didn't mean to go on a tangent," she said. "I wish things would go back to normal as much as everybody else. Ten years ago, even five years ago, no one complained. Everyone let us do our jobs."

Behind Ferraz, the younger girl in the back spoke up.

"B…but…are we still helping?"

Hinode Evantra spoke with a genuine worry that also showed in her eyes. Unlike the jaded and resigned looks of her fellow Private First Class or the Lieutenant in front of her, her eyes were wide and her question carried real concern.

"I hope so, Hinode," answered Ferraz. "We're being proactive as much as we can. There's a lot of good people in the Capital who don't deserve to be hurt by these incidents. They've never done anything wrong and don't want to fight against us."

At this point, the woman's eyes narrowed and her tone grew harsher as well.

"People should get what they deserve. That's just a fact of life. Innocents deserve our protection without it being questioned. And everyone protesting and fighting and hurting people like pissed-off children deserve to be punished for letting this happen."

With another sudden shift, Ferraz's demeanor softened again. She pressed down on a lever on the side of her seat and moved it back, hitting Hinode's knees. The younger girl yelped in surprise as Lieutenant Delahaye pulled her legs up and put her feet on the dashboard.

"You two are good kids," she said. "If anything happens, I'll keep you safe. We're gonna do fine."

Daito checked quickly to make sure Hinode was alright. Aside from being more uncomfortable than before, she seemed okay, and Daito drew his attention back to the road as they were nearing the exit ramp to the housing sector they were headed to.


The housing in Siba Capital was extremely uniform for the most part. For those that could not afford a more luxurious option or for those who were granted a home through their service to the TSAB, blocks upon blocks of single-story homes with identical designs and identically small front lawns were most of the options. Different ornaments in the front lawns or different children's toys left outside were what mainly separated one residence from another. The cars out front would have been another marker usually, but this street was unnaturally empty. As Daito drove down it, he soon saw a crowd that had formed on the road who all had their backs to the vehicle approaching them. Past them was a tall black bus and several other Bureau cars with their lights flashing.

As Daito slowed and crept up to the scene, some of the crowd noticed the car and turned, professing their anger at the new arrival. More in the crowd turned as well, and the three Bureau officers quickly saw that these were not just confused bystanders. Many of them shouted their own protests at the car, and as Daito slowed to a crawl the three mages sat straight up and almost frozen, all three with a hand on their devices in case things turned violent. However, the protesters slowly parted to let the car through, and with much banging on the windows and verbal aggression spat at the officers they made their way onto the scene.

Inside the perimeter the Bureau had formed was the large black bus and several other officers, distinguished all by the Ground Forces uniform. Ferraz noted that no Air Forces officers were sent to help the operation. Some of the other mages were keeping people back further down the road, though the buildup of protesters was more condensed on this side by the bus. A couple other mages were helping civilians over to the bus and up into it. It was evident that the TSAB was evacuating the area.

Daito parked and the group got out. Around here the haze seemed worse, joined by the constant rumble of the bus's motor as it sat idle along with the wave of noise from the protesters. Ferraz stood, checking the scene as Hinode and Daito stood next to her. Daito gripped the standby form of his device tightly and looked around.

"Boden, be ready for combat."

The opaque crystal pulsed with light as it responded.

[ICH STEHE IHNEN ZUR VERFÜGUNG]

Hinode grabbed the gem on her necklace and held it in both hands.

"Edelkroone, scan the area."

[SCANNING]

The voice was much more generic than the ones from her partners' devices. Another thin magic screen formed in front of Hinode, showing blips of magical activity where more powerful linker cores were detected.

"I appreciate the effort, kids, but we're not here to battle," said Ferraz. "Apparently some violence has been breaking out nearby on a regular basis. We need to get everyone else out of the area now if we're going to come in with force later."

As the range on Edelkroone's scan expanded, the expected dots from Hinode's fellow Bureau officers were joined by other bold dots in the direction of the protesting crowd. Hinode saw this and her eyes darted up to meet Ferraz.

"B…but Ferraz…"

"It doesn't even look like we'd have backup to fight anyways," continued Ferraz. She smiled. "So think of this as a good PR show! You two help all the nice old ladies get out of danger and the Bureau makes some progress today."

"So what are you doing?" asked Daito.

Ferraz looked over at the crowd that had formed back in position on the other side of the barricade. Human decency was all that seemed to be keeping them on the other side, though.

"I'll deal with the audience. Someone needs to keep them in check."

Hinode swiped the projected screen away and released her device. She and Daito went to handle the current effort while Ferraz started walking towards the crowd. Though, on the way, she quickly thought of something else and spun back to her juniors.

"And no media!" she cried. "I don't want them getting the wrong idea here. You know they will."

She turned back to the protesters and as their attention focused on her, she held her device once again.

"Subrosa, activate."

[ACTIVATING]

The purple gem glowed bright white as its form shifted, first into a metallic grey handle that Ferraz kept her hand around and then expanding downwards in the shape of a sword. Below the basic handle and hilt, the entire blade was an energy blade that was the same dark purple color as Ferraz's eyes. Ferraz stayed in her uniform and did not transform to her barrier jacket though. As she stated to her juniors, she was not intending to actually fight. The move had its intended effect, at least momentarily; the crowd quieted down as she stepped within an arms' length of the front row of people.

"Alright," she ordered, "I need all of you to leave and go back to your homes."

Amid the quieter murmurs from the crowd, a woman's voice cried out from behind the immediate line.

"What is your plan?"

Ferraz rolled her eyes.

"And I don't have to answer any of your questions either," she responded. "You are interfering in official Administrative business. You need to trust us."

The woman who first responded pushed her way up to the front of the line. Ferraz immediately noticed the oversized jacket the woman was wearing that would have covered her hands even if she hadn't stuck them in the front pockets, along with the hood that trapped the woman's hair as brown ends fell around her neck to the front of her shoulders.

"And how can we trust you if you take us from our homes?" that woman shouted.

There was fervor building in the audience again. Ferraz had to nip this again quickly. She raised her arm to show Subrosa again, keeping it aimed downwards but reminding the crowd she had it.

"If you really have something to say, then step forward and I'd love to detain you with the rest of your friends."

The woman, who looked about the same age as Ferraz, almost seemed like she was going to before another woman pushed her way to the front of the crowd and put an arm in front of her companion. This person was shorter than her friend but seemed to be in her mid-twenties as well.

"Wait," said the new arrival. "Not now."

The crowd's energy calmed down again and the new arrival quickly drew Ferraz's attention. Perhaps it was her teal-green hair that was also contained in a hood and fell messily around her face. Siba had a tendency to produce fairly muted hair colors – a bolder red or lighter blonde at max – so this person immediately stuck out to Ferraz among the others. She brought her device back again and walked curiously to the green-haired woman.

"So you must be the leader then. Can I ask you to disband your group?"

"We're not going to do that," the woman responded.

Ferraz also took note of her airy voice. It wasn't bellowed and projected to the group like her friend was doing before. It worked to bring the volume down to conversation level.

"I'm Officer Delahaye with the TSAB, and I need you all to leave. You've made your complaints known, now get out of here."

She maintained eye contact with the shorter woman, waiting for a response. When one didn't come, Ferraz shook her head and continued.

"It must be nice, being on that side of the barrier. You can heckle me all you want and stay completely anonymous. You can just go home at the end of the day and-"

"Dreamer," the woman said.

Ferraz paused, thrown off by the interruption.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"Dreamer. Call me that."

Ferraz laughed lightly and looked at the other woman.

"And what's your name then?" she asked.

"Dancer," the other woman replied.

Ferraz sighed, eying both over.

"Giving me aliases still proves my point. It kind of feels like you didn't tell me anything at all."

Before anyone could continue, another voice suddenly spoke behind Ferraz.

"Excuse me miss, I wanted to-"

Ferraz snapped around quickly, clutching the handle of Subrosa tighter, only to see a short old woman craning her neck up to meet Ferraz's eyes. Coming down from the spike of adrenaline, Ferraz looked up to find her group.

"Hinode!" she shouted. Hinode looked over and Ferraz quickly glance at the old woman, then back at her subordinate and then back at the woman again. Hinode got the point and rushed over.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" she cried.

"I just wanted to say that I think you're all doing a very good job," said the old woman. The ground mage smiled and put her arm around the woman, patting her back.

"Ahh, thank you," said Ferraz. "You're going to be okay."

As she pulled back and Hinode guided the old woman back over to their transport, Ferraz turned to face Dancer and Dreamer again.

"You see, I can be nice when people earn my respect."

Dreamer narrowed her eyes.

"And we might listen more if you treat us with respect."

The happy feeling couldn't last too long, evidently. Ferraz crashed back down as she immediately resumed the argument.

"I could turn that around on you easily. The Bureau is the solution, not the problem. You want us to stop evacuating people when there's violence nearby? Then let's stop the violence once and for all. We need volunteers to help fill our ranks. Join us, stand on this side of the barrier, and fight back."

Dreamer closed her eyes.

"I wanted to."

"But you didn't? Why not?"

"Criminal record."

Ferraz sighed and Dreamer opened her eyes again.

"I guess that would do it," the officer responded. "No bypassing that. It doesn't make any sense that you can start riots or hurt people or do whatever you did and then turn around and get a spot on the Bureau fighting for peace. But that doesn't mean your next best option is to stand here and fight us. And if you think it is…well, stick around when I repeat my orders and I guarantee you'll change your mind in detainment."

Ferraz stared Dreamer down, waiting to see if this was end of the conversation. Right before the ground mage's attention drifted, Dreamer muttered one more thing under her breath.

"The Eye of Belka is watching this…"

Before Ferraz could process that, she heard more sounds behind her. First, it was a man arguing, and then she heard who he was arguing with. It was Hinode's voice. Ferraz looked back again to see an older man in a wheelchair pushing Hinode away as she tried to keep a grip on his chair, pushing himself away as much as he could to avoid going towards the bus. Hinode wasn't going to win this on her own, so Ferraz deactivated her device and walked over to the situation.

"Sir, I need you to calm down-"

"Get your hands off of me, both of you!" the man shouted.

"Okay, we'll – Hinode, I'll take it from here. Sir, you need to calm down, Mister…"

"Mister Kardenis, thank you," said the man. He looked normal - the expected look of someone growing old and being confined to a wheelchair. He had patchy brown hair and brown eyes with obvious bags under them.

Ferraz heard the name and quickly looked off in the distance.

"Kardenis…" she whispered. "That sounds familiar…"

Whatever thought she was reaching for didn't come to her, and Ferraz looked back at the man.

"But anyways, sir, we're here to help."

"I don't need your help!" said the man brashly. "I was on the Bureau decades ago and never would we have imagined losing control like this. I want your new General to think of a better plan."

"Mister Kardenis, you're not safe here. I mean…what if something happened?" asked Ferraz, glancing down at his wheelchair. "We're getting you all to temporary housing where the Bureau can be close by."

"How do you know I'll be safe wherever you take me?" asked the man, pushing himself away from Ferraz. He started turning himself around and pushing himself back to his house. Ferraz reached out and followed him, walking alongside and trying to persuade the stubborn man.

"Sir, I-"

"All you are doing is moving people around. That doesn't solve the problem."

Evidently the man was speaking loud enough for the crowd to hear, and a resounding wave of cheering came from the gallery. Ferraz glanced back at them, reaching for her device again, before continuing on.

"Mr. Kardenis, you need-"

"What if the violence comes with us? You're not fixing anything. Is this really the Bureau's plan?"

"It's a step. A painful step, but it's a step. Come with me, sir."

Again, the cheering from the gatherers fed into this man's anger which fed right back. Ferraz was also reaching her breaking point.

"I'm not going." He reaffirmed.

"Yes you are. We need to go."

"I'm not getting on that damn vehicle."

"Well you don't have a choice!"

Ferraz burst with anger, activating her device again and swinging it around, stopping right before it hit Mister Kardenis' neck. The man froze in place, staring wide eyed at the energy blade only inches away. Ferraz also froze in place, first as a threatening gesture but then just in shock at what she'd actually done. As she finally blinked and slowly looked around, she noticed how quiet it was. Daito, Hinode, and the other officers were just staring at her and so were the protesters. Even there, the heckling that had been so overbearing was now just murmurs at best.

Finding the energy to just clear her throat, Ferraz lowered the blade and grabbed the handles of the wheelchair while its occupant was still stunned.

"We…we need to go…" she mumbled, pushing the man back towards the bus as if that was her only purpose.

In the crowd nearby, the two women in front looked on. The taller one lowered the hood of her jacket and reached for the zipper. Several mechanical fingers reached out of the sleeve.

"It's time to act. Dancer reporting, ready for action."

Her partner also reached up to lower her hood and her teal-green hair flowed openly in the wind.

"Dreamer, ready as well."

Then, Dreamer reached her arm out and focused on the black bus.

An odd sound transmitted through the air as if something was charging before a wide teal-green magic symbol formed under the bus. From it, several large strands of same-colored energy shot out and wrapped themselves around the vehicle before all tightening in, squeezing around it as if trying to crush it. Immediately there was a panic as all the people who had boarded now rushed to escape.

Ferraz looked on with shock before the realization set in about who could be summoning this. Her eyes darted back to the crowd she'd interacted with moments ago, and her gaze locked on to the woman reaching forward.

"You!" Ferraz yelled, rushing at her. "Stop!"

She gripped the handle of Subrosa with both hands, ready to strike. As she got close, Dancer stepped forwards and dropped her arms out of the jacket, letting it fall behind her. Both her arms were entirely cybernetic.

Ferraz tried to adjust but she was too close and Dancer swung her fist with all the power of the cybernetics behind it at Ferraz. A purple Belkan protection spell was formed, but it took a massive blow and Ferraz was tossed backwards to the road. She skidded along it and as she pushed herself back up, all hell had broken loose.

Whoever else wanted to get violent was firing in from the crowds that had gathered with little regard for anyone else. Around them, people who didn't want to fight still fled from the bus or from the dissipating groups.

"Stop!" yelled Ferraz as if anyone was listening. "You're not making this any better!"

In her hand, Subrosa began to pulse again, now pushing light through the entire energy sword.

[BARRIER JACKET RECOMMENDED]

"Right," said its master. "Barrier Jacket, go!"

Ferraz's body and clothes began to glow until it was so strong that her form was obscured completely. Then, the light receded and Ferraz was in her barrier jacket. She had a dark purple jacket with grey trimmings on the sleeves and collar, which was styled wide on the outer part of the jacket. The jacket hung down to the middle of her thighs and the sleeves only rolled partway down the arm. Below all that, and continuing down her arms and legs, was a black bodysuit underneath. Her shoes seemed like an extension of the material around her legs; there were soles under her feet to provide grip and protection, but there was no obvious moment where they started and the leggings ended.

She got back up and telepathically spoke to her two juniors.

"Daito, Hinode! Barrier jackets and combat forms, now!"

Bracing themselves behind a barrier to stop any stray projectiles, the two kids heard her and nodded.

"Boden, transform!" said Daito. He held his device up and both started to glow. Hinode did the same, reaching for her necklace and cupping it with both hands.

"Edelkroone, activate!"

She glowed brightly as well, and the glows also receded. Daito wore a long, dark-blue jacket buttoned over with lighter highlights in the center pattern that darted up the chest area. He had black pants and his shoes fit the scheme, barring the metal protection added around his ankles that matched the protection around his lower forearms too. His device had changed heavily from a simple crystal to a long pole-arm with a metallic grey cover at the end where a blue energy blade raced further up as well as partly back down the blade.

Hinode stood next to him covered in earthen tones, neither the main color or the highlights straying too far from the ashy-brown color of her hair. Her jacket had puffier sleeves than the thin ones of her direct partner and her skirt billowed slightly in the wind. Where her device normally rested as part of a necklace, the brown gem was now indented in the jacket itself above Hinode's chest.

The two didn't have long before they were noticed. As Dreamer glanced over and saw the two, she flicked some of her fingers quickly and another thick rope of magic formed out of her circle, specifically tearing the front off the bus and chucking the large pane at them. Daito swung Boden forwards, cutting through the metal as it came forwards and splitting it in two. The pieces travelled to the side enough to miss the two kids as the debris kept flying towards the ground.

Ferraz charged forwards, aiming her sword at Dancer. Dancer responded, swinging one of her arms to clash against the blade. A light pulse of magic along the arms' exterior showed that Ferraz's strike was being held back.

"You're the one that really pissed us off," said Dancer. "Dreamer, confine her!"

Dreamer nodded. Now clenching all her fingers tightly, she thrust her arm to the side and her bindings swung the entire bus across the road towards Daito and Hinode. Daito initially readied for another strike, but common sense won out and he let Hinode put a barrier up. The two still slid backwards from the sheer momentum but they weren't crushed under the heavy vehicle. Though with the street mostly clear, now a teal-green barrier formed a dome around the immediate road that blocked the two out from the fight – along with everyone else but the two aggressors and Ferraz.

In the dome, Ferraz still clashed versus one of Dancer's arms. She stared briefly up at the bright magic barrier before focusing on Dreamer.

"Binding spells and barriers…You're skilled for someone without Bureau training..."

"Attentive," replied Dreamer.

"Joined by one of those freaks who trades their own body for cybernetics…" continued Ferraz, glaring at her immediate opponent. "It's never worth it. You think it'll let you beat a mage, but when I bring you in to the Bureau, we're just going to cut those arms right off of you!"

Ferraz pulled back quickly, hoping to stagger her opponent, before racing in again with a combo of strikes that Dancer was forced to block or jump away from. When it seemed that she'd created a gap that kept Ferraz away from her, Ferraz yelled "Subrosa, extend!" and as one slash came up too short to reach her opponent, Ferraz carried through with her momentum and the blade on her sword quickly shot out to nearly double the length of what it was before. Dancer looked on in surprise and quickly brought her arms up to block the attack. It slashed across them and made the woman stumble back, looking up to see that Ferraz was already closing in again, her sword back to its regular length.

As Ferraz charged in again, more teal-green strands of magic raced out of the walls of the barrier, wrapping themselves around Ferraz's wrists and pulling taught. The sudden stop was a complete surprise for her and a sudden reminder that this fight wasn't a one-on-one battle. Trying hard to at least keep a grip on her weapon, she twisted and pulled at the bindings.

Dancer paused as well to catch her breath before looking at the partner.

"So…you wanted to let me get roughed up a little, or what?"

Dreamer walked over, shrugging.

"I kept it a fair fight as long as I could."

That airiness was back in her voice. It was partly from her carefree tone, but Dancer knew her partner was losing her energy as well.

"We need to get going," said Dancer. "We did what we meant to do."

"And what was that?" yelled Ferraz, still eyeing them down. She pulled again at the bindings, grunting with frustration when they didn't budge.

"You're not moving people against their will today," said Dancer. "The Bureau isn't getting what it wants. You're making more enemies every day, and soon, Siba Capital will burn."

Dreamer's concentration was suddenly broken by repeated attacks on her barrier from the outside. A powerful force clashed against it over and over, pushing Dreamer just as hard to keep the barrier up against the force. However, after enough swings, the blue blade of Daito's device cut through the barrier and ripped the whole thing open. The entire dome faded away, and so did the bindings keeping Ferraz in place. When she felt her arms drop to her sides again, she got a wicked grin.

"Daito, Hinode, let's finish this now!"

The other two women's eyes both shot open rapidly. Though she had been drained from her actions, Dreamer quickly reached out towards the two kids, summoning as much as she could to get them back out of the fight. Several bands of magic formed around the two and raced inwards, trapping the two against each other back to back and pinning Daito's device lengthwise against its master's front. As they both cried out in shock, they were lifted up in the air and a crystal of energy formed around them, keeping them inside unless they could break out of it as well.

All this happened in a brief moment and then Dreamer saw Ferraz bearing down on her. Dreamer shut her eyes and braced for impact, but all she felt was a hard shove as Dancer protected her again.

"No!" shouted Dancer, swinging wildly with everything she had. It hit against Ferraz's automatic barrier, smashed through that, and clocked Ferraz in the face, launching the officer back again and dropping her motionlessly to the road again.

Behind her, Dreamer shuddered, and the crystal containing Daito and Hinode dropped down and crashed sideways against the ground. Dancer knelt down to pick her partner up, preparing to carry her if necessary.

"Wait…" said Dreamer, spoken so lightly that it was obvious she was struggling to continue. She got to her feet and then slowly started shuffling over to where Ferraz had landed.

Ferraz laid on the road, completely dazed and out of it but not yet unconscious. As the seconds went by, she groaned and tried to clear her head. Soon, a blurry figure stood over her. Ferraz reached slowly for her device again, but even that effort was stopped by another binding spell pinning her arms to her sides.

Above her, Dreamer reached into her jacket and took out several flares. She cracked one open, watching the sparks shoot out the top as plumes of red smoke rose up into the sky. Then, she dropped it to the ground and reached for another one. She cracked that one open, looked at the smoke pouring out of it, and then looked at Ferraz. Grinning, she knelt down, opening the front of Ferraz's outer jacket and tucking the flare in so the lit end was up near the woman's face. Ferraz grimaced and turned away as much as she could before receiving a couple friendly slaps on her cheek.

"No media, huh?" asked Dreamer. "I wonder what they'll think about this."

She got up, and with her partner's help they made their escape from the wreckage they had caused.

Trapped in the crystal, Hinode and Daito pulled against the bindings. Neither was making much progress.

"F…Ferraz! We have to get to her!" shouted Hinode.

"I know that!" yelled her partner. "I…just can't get any…ahh! Boden, you got anything?"

The head of the device started to blink again.

[ICH BIN BEREIT ENERGIE ZU ZERSTEUEN]

"Here?" asked Daito. "Are you sure it would work?"

[DU KANNST MIR VERTRAUEN]

"If you say so… then shoot it forward! Detonation Blade!"

In front of Daito, the weapon surged with energy before launching the blue blade off the head and halfway through the exterior of the crystal before it was stopped. As the energy spike rooted in place, it soon began to glow.

"Hinode, cover your ears," said Daito.

Behind him, his partner struggled. The bindings kept her arms tightly pressed against her sides.

"I…I can't, Daito! I can't!"

The energy blade continued to glow brighter and a loud sound grew with it, reaching painful levels before the blade exploded out, shattering the crystal and also blasting against both mages. With the crystal and the bindings gone, Daito just shut his eyes and covered his head, feeling a pounding headache and hearing only a high pitched ringing for several seconds that slowly subsided enough to at least hear Hinode as well, who was crying out from going through the exact same thing. Another couple seconds, and Daito had regained enough thought capacity to look around him and see his squad leader lying next to several plumes of thick red smoke. He struggled to get to a knee.

"Hinode? Hinode, we need to go."

Each others' voices still only came through washed out and muted, but the understanding was mutual. The kids made their way over to their superior and Hinode pulled the second flare away from Ferraz's face. They broke the weak bindings and Ferraz was finally able to sit up.

"Ferraz! Are you okay?" asked Hinode.

"Ugh…I…I think so…"

She found her device lying on the street, now deactivated, and picked the gem up again. Then, Ferraz looked around and saw the aftermath. The other officers were recuperating, and otherwise the area was mostly clear of both civilians and protesters. However, there was one man sprawled out on his side on the road next to a destroyed wheelchair.

"M…Mister Kardenis?" Ferraz asked. She struggled to her feet only to kneel down again when she reached him.

The older man groaned and rolled onto his back. He was shaken up, and it looked like maybe he'd been hit with a stray magic projectile, but there was no lasting damage. It was enough that he'd need to be looked after for the moment, though.

And then, Ferraz heard the last sound she wanted to hear. There were helicopter blades in the distance quickly closing in. No doubt half the news teams in the city were converging on the location. She stood again, turned, and looked at the sky where a helicopter arrived and started circling above. She knew the cameras were watching her, but she could do little more than watch back.


Planet: Administrated World #01 - Midchilda
City: Cranagan

Hayate Yagami looked up at the images projected onto the large screen in front of her. The screen that now filled a large part of the back wall of the room cast enough light that the overhead lighting wasn't needed. Several pictures showed images from the streets of Siba Capital portraying some of the battles that had broken out from the protests. Other pictures showed the aftermath of those fights. It was uncomfortable to realize that these images were only weeks or even days old. Midchilda had seen relative peace again for a couple years now.

Next to Hayate, Reinforce Zwei stood in her human-sized form in front of her own smaller screen, pushing the pictures from the gathered library up on to the main screen.

"Do you want to see any more, Miss Hayate?" asked Rein.

"Thank you, Rein, that's enough."

The images faded out to show what Hayate was initially looking at – the face of an older woman with greying hair that fell wavily down to the middle of her back. The woman was sitting at her own desk and had been waiting for Hayate to resume the conversation.

"General Alcyone, what we're seeing from your planet is troubling."

On the other side of the call, Alcyone shifted in her seat and propped her elbows up on her desk.

"A temporary situation, Commander. There is nothing you need to concern yourself with."

"I disagree. From the information gathered about Siba, it's also come to light the major differences between your planet's Administration Bureau and the values deployed by the central Bureau on Midchilda and expected from all other planets. Your governance over your people – your criminal justice and rehabilitation systems – it's striking compared to what most of the Bureau knows."

"Siba has never needed Midchilda's attention. We have perfected a self-sufficiency that means we don't require assistance from outside. It has worked for us so far, and it will work again."

Hayate thought for a moment and took a breath.

"It may have, when there was nothing to worry about, but now the news of your situation has reached our ears and the TSAB does not want to lose one of its planets. We are preparing a diplomatic mission to Siba to discuss Midchilda's involvement in your efforts to restore stability."

Alcyone chuckled, almost mockingly.

"Commander, I did not do my job through decades of service to reach my current position only to be disposed of by Midchilda."

"And I am not saying that will happen. We hope to have some discussions with your Bureau to find an ideal solution for all parties. We don't want to enforce our control unless it is absolutely necessary."

"And who will be leading Midchilda's group?"

"I will be."

There were several knocks on Hayate's door.

"Rein, could you please get that?"

"Yes, Miss Hayate!" said the energetic girl, running over to the door.

"I thought this was supposed to be a private meeting," said Alcyone with a smirk.

Reinforce Zwei got the door, and Fate Testarossa Harlaown stepped in wearing her standard Enforcer uniform.

"Thank you, Rein." She said with a light smile. "Good afternoon, Hayate."

Hayate looked back with a smile as well.

"Same to you."

On the screen, Alcyone leaned in.

"And Enforcer Harlaown joins the conversation too. Truly I'm feeling star-studded."

Fate took position next to Hayate.

"Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?" Fate asked the woman on screen.

"General Dreischer Alcyone, leading General of the Siban TSAB," Hayate responded.

"Does that mean General Parkensine has stepped down?" asked Fate.

"Mm-hmm," Alcyone muttered. "I took his position just over a year ago. A great man, but we all get old and our priorities change."

Though Fate didn't show it, she was relieved she didn't have to speak to that man again. His bull-headedness and brashness still left a rough taste in her mouth when she thought about him.

"I would like Fate to assist me in our talks with Siba," said Hayate. "She has had experience working with your planet before – which is rare to find, isolated as you were."

"Ahh, yes I remember," said Alcyone. "Four years ago now, was it? Time flies, definitely."

Then, General Alcyone clasped her hands.

"Is anyone else coming for a visit, Commander?"

Hayate nodded.

"We're still finishing up the details but I would hope some of my Wolkenritter would assist me."

"Now that might be worth a celebration around these parts. The newer generations and their 'Modern Belkan' advancements have them to thank, after all. Well, it sounds like I can't persuade you otherwise from visiting so the least I could do is roll out the red carpet. Talk to my aides when a schedule has been set."

Hayate bowed lightly.

"Understood, General."

Alcyone nodded and ended her transmission. In Hayate's office, she stood there, still prim and proper in her dark-blue uniform before sighing heavily and hunching over.

"You think I did alright, Fate?"

"I think you were very professional," Fate replied.

"Good…" Hayate mumbled. "Her tone was really getting to me."

She stood up again as Reinforce Zwei began writing up a summary of the meeting.

"This isn't a joke," Hayate continued, now serious again. "They've made their Bureau and their own citizens enemies. Siba needs our help more than they realize."

"I noted this all in my work with them," added Fate, "but it wasn't my position to tell them what to do."

"Well now it might be. Hey – Fate – you mentioned a group that might be good for us to contact?"

Fate nodded.

"Correct. From my mission with Siba years ago, there were several officers who left Siba afterwards and found other positions in the TSAB. I'm sure they would also be worried, seeing their homeworld as it is, and if Siba doesn't want to listen to us perhaps they could help bridge the gap."

Hayate thought about this, and a sly smile slowly crept across her face.

"So…you're thinking, like, a mediator…"

"And they could tell us more about what to expect regarding Siba's differences. Otherwise we're going off their propaganda and my personal experience."

"I like it. Would you be able to find them again?"

Fate brought Bardiche out of her pocket.

"I believe I still have their information."

"Good. See what they're up to and let me know what they say."