-Disclaimer-

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha's anime is licensed by Geneon Entertainment; its studio is Seven Arcs. Anime is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo. The manga is illustrated by Koji Hasegawa. Characters, Locations, and other intellectual property from the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha universe is to be attributed to the above as warranted.

Taeniaea's Note: Been too long. Sorry, been busy between illness and various games. And reading... and my other stories... though not much has been done with them either.

Rimshooter's Note: Too long? Understatement. To those who have read Neyr Deus... this is a re-write of it. Not the sequel; the sequel will come after this is complete. To those who read this for the first time... read Neyr first for the most impact.


Volatilis Deus

-A Lullaby for Six Wings-

I


Time Indeterminate

- "The Ruined Garden"

Atop the tower was a courtyard. It had been grand, once. A cobblestone path lead from the stairs at the edge of the tower, around in a circle and then toward the center of that ring, where was once a large fountain of the clearest water bearing the statue of child holding his mother's hand, beneath an ancient oak. Between the path and fountain would have been flowers of every color, and shrubs of every type. A wellspring of life.

Now that path was buckled and ruined. The tree was a decrepit husk; the flowers and shrubs all withered to dust. The fountain had run dry, and the child held now only a broken stump, with his mother's remains scattered about. Over this fountain, on the long branch of the tree, sat a girl in a black dress. Held in one hand was a broken harp that she plucked at tunelessly, and in the sky above her – ringed by stormy mist – was a gear. Consisting of six great spokes, it turned endlessly in the sky.

Hung there, suspended by chains, was another girl identical to the first... save her hair was white where the other girl's was black, as was her dress.

A pair of figures ascended the stairs and stepped into the garden. One was clad thickly in a black cloak that hung tattered about its slim frame, a steel bow in its hands. The other was a knight, armor battered and some pieces missing entirely, holding a claymore to the ground – arms straining from fatigue.

The girl ceased to play her harp and rose into the air, turning to face them with an indescribably melancholic expression on her face.

"You are here."

25 April 0077 | 1500 Hours

City of Cranaagan, Mid-Childa – St. Hilde Academy Yard

"Mist-sensei doesn't let up does she?" Vivio asked as she left the school, en route to the courtyard.

One of three raven-haired girl's following her snorted, "You're not fooling anyone, Vivio. You're not having any trouble and we all know it."

"Mou... am I that easy to figure out, Ren-chan?" The blonde girl complained, prompting the three behind her to nod in unison. "Even Iri-chan?!" She exclaimed in false surprise. The shortest of the three, a violet-eyed girl that was identical to Ren, nodded.

The last girl took the opportunity to add her piece, "Takamachi Vivio is worse than an open book. She is a book with transparent covers. This is known by all."

"That's harsh, Raven. Real harsh." Ren added, "Vivio isn't a book..." The blond turned to her with stars in her eyes, "...she's a movie played on a walking TV. In high-definition color." Vivio's face immediately expression dropped.

"Today is me and Ren-nee against you and Trace-san, right?" Iri inserted, delicately changing the subject.

Vivio brightened immediately. "Yep! I'm kind of nervous too – you and Ren-chan make a scary combination."

"Do not worry. I can easily deal with Seitsu Ren." Raven cut in, a half-smile on her face. "She is careless, like a dumb bull. Wave a red flag and step to the side. She will charge and miss every time."

"You wound me!" Ren moaned, hand over her chest. "That goes right through the heart, Raven."

Iri patted her twin on the back, "Ren-nee is not a bull. If anyone here is clumsy in combat, it's me."

"You're not clumsy, Iri-chan!" Vivio exclaimed, "You're kinda scary – everything that gets in your way... well..."

"Nothing can stand in your way and survive the experience," Ren noted smiling. "Sometimes I think if a car were to run you over, you could just punch it and it would split right in two!"

Iri shook her head, "I'm not that strong. I can't even cast Protection properly."

"This is true," Raven admitted, "but at the same time a collapsing wall of mana has the potential to be quite devastating if directed properly. Do not sell your strengths short by focusing on your weaknesses."

The four of them reached the center of the courtyard, and Vivio clapped her hands – interrupting any response Iri might have had. "Alright, we're here!" She and Raven took up position side by side, several yards away from the twins. "Ready?" She questioned, and all assembled nodded. "Set up!" A mid-childan circle formed beneath each of them – maroon for Raven, violet with black accents for Ren, black with violet accents for Iri, and mostly colorless for Vivio. "Start!"

Cranaagan – Ground Forces, 12th Threat-Response Division Barracks – Training Field

"Set up!" A young woman with violet eyes and long black hair called out. A pair of men in the center of the field formed barrier jackets. "Begin – Mid-Range!" The two begin to spar usinga shooting spells.

Off to the side was a line of other men, and several women, in the same uniform doing drills.

"Is it just me-" One said as they shifted aside a strike to the temple, "-or is the Sergeant being stricter than usual today?"

"Yeah," The one attacking him agreed, bringing his forearm up to block his partner's counterstrike, "Seems down." He brought his knee forward to jab his partner in the side.

"Think-" The knee was side-stepped. "something-" A punch was blocked, "happened?"

"Dunno-"

"If you two have time to talk you're not working hard enough! Get in center field!"

"Yes ma'am!" The two called in unison, taking up position across from each other... only to dodge a blast of golden energy from their sergeant.

"Wrong! You're fighting Sine and Tone! Close-range!"

The two cursed under their breath as they engaged the men that had been practicing mid-range combat before.

Hinode Seitsu hid a frown beneath a stern expression. Even pushing her division this way was probably pointless. Would a weeks' worth of hard training really make a difference?

Wasn't she really just repeating the same mistakes?

Hinode allowed her frown to show through, and the troops worked harder even as she ignored them. No. That wouldn't do. She would have to approach it differently, so different preparations would be required.

Cranaagan – TSAB Ground Forces Administrative Offices

Hayate Yagami leaned back in her desk, closed her eyes, and sighed in relief as she stamped the last file on her desk and set it into a nearby pile. The was all of today's paperwork.

"Never goes away, does it?" A voice asked, smiling, and Hayate opened her eyes to see Nanoha standing in the doorway.

"Don't you have recruits to instruct, Instructor Takamachi?"

Nanoha smiled, "We stop practicing just after noon. There's no point in working them too hard; we're at peace."

"The TSAB is never really at peace though, is it?" Hayate queried straightening the stack of paperwork on her desk. "It seems another Incident crops up almost every year."

"If you squeeze an orange in your hand, it pops and the juice goes flying everywhere doesn't it?" The instructor responded.

Hayate shook her head ruefully. "So you're saying that our recruits are fruit now?"

Nanoha shrugged, "Better than maggots. Who likes maggots?"

"You come up with some of the strangest analogies, Nanoha," Hayate noted, idly prodding Rein as the sprite-like device napped inside her mistress' lunchbox. "So what brings you here?"

"Other than checking on one of my best friends?" Hayate rose a brow, and Nanoha raised her hand sin submission. "Fate and Tea are going to be back next week; three days leave. Its mandatory – apparently certain people pulled some strings to force them back."

Hayate clasped her hands together and stretched into the back of her chair, "Lindy never changes does she? How does she even do this anymore? Didn't she retire?"

"She sees Fate less than three weeks out of a year... which isn't much more than I do, come to think of it." Nanoha noted thoughtfully, finger on her chin before bringing it to point at Hayate, "In any case, we're using the leave time to arrange a reunion for RF-6. It wouldn't be complete without the commander, would it?"

Hayate nodded, a Cheshire-cat smile on her face, "I guess not. You better stop wasting time and go let them know. Maybe they can help me get some leave time so I can join in."

"Maybe I should," Nanoha responded playfully, "but I don't think she can do much for you. Better suck it up and deal with it yourself, Hayate-chan."

"Oh woe is me!" The brunette exclaimed dramatically, prompting Nanoha to raise a brow, "-the paperwork! It will be three stories tall!"

The Ace of Aces chuckled, "I'm sure you'll find a way to make it there, Hayate-chan. I've got to go get Vivio now. She's probably going to run her schoolmates into the ground sparring if I don't."

"Energetic, isn't she?"

"Could have never guessed it, right?" Nanoha shook her head, "I'll see you at the reunion, Hayate."

"Don't go making any new friends on your way!" Hayate called, "I don't need that paperwork bogging me down too if I'm going to get leave next week!"

"No promises, Hayate-chan!" The instructor sang as she passed out of ear-shot.

"Really," The young commander sighed, "She's the scariest person I've ever met. Why am I friends with her again?" A pause. "Nevermind."

Unknown Location

"Hark..." A female voice spoke, "...why don't you repair that?"

"Hm?" A hooded man looked from the harp he held in his hands – split in half – to the young woman that addressed him. She was garbed in a simple white tunic and pants – a pair of striking teal eyes peered from above a gray scarf, framed by ebony hair. He glanced back to the harp and set it aside. "Why should I? Do I play it? Do you want to hear it?" He turned around, "No – I think you're the type for a flute. These hands can make no music one would want to hear, let alone the songs you long for, Secele."

Secele tilted her head to one side. "More meat to the carrot on a string, Hark? You are cruel."

"Which is precisely why these hands are not fit to play." The man responded simply, gazing at a trio of glowing windows on the wall in front of him. "Least of all, for you."

"I will find those answers, Hark. By you or not."

Hark gave a bitter smile beneath his hood, "Oh, I'm sure you will. Eventually. But for now, you must make do with me."

"Oh, what fortune." The girl responded blandly. She glanced at one of the windows. "Do I even want to know why you're growing little girls in this lab of yours?"

The man placed a hand near a window, as if to touch it, and then jerked it away. "No. No you do not." He turned back to her, "but that won't stop you from finding out... eventually. In the mean time – D-71?" A gynoid appeared beside him, hair and face concealed beneath a helmet. "You and Secele are going to Training room 9c. Simulation 12."

The gynoid nodded and vanished, leaving Secele behind. She gave Hark one last wary, speculative look before turning to leave.

"Secele," The man called flippantly, prompting her to stop. "Be wary of seeking the truths of this world. There are things out there. Things that wait to ensnare you. Trap you. And ruin you."

Wordlessly, Secele left.

Hark seated himself on the ground once more, and returned to staring at his broken harp. "Such as hope. Always be wary of hope... it is the wall we build to separate ourselves from despair, after all."