Scrya Chronicles – Chapter 3
It was morning when their ship was ready to depart at the docking station for non-military personnel. Yuuno had arrived an hour ago, and was rather spry from the underlying excitement of exploring another archaeological site. It really had been too long. Now he was doing a final check on their supplies for the trip alongside Theisal.
“It’s good to have you back on-board, Yuuno,” he said, rustling Yuuno’s hair as he did when he was younger. Theisal was only three years older, but he was still taller and a bit more rotund than Yuuno. “I was worried you had ended up being buried under books in the Infinite Library or gotten lost.”
“Not me personally, but I have had to dig some of them out from time-to-time.” Yuuno had to sigh. The sad truth was that really did happen to the interns who apply for work there. Not to mention the books with still-active defense programs. “How’s it going with your medical license?”
“Passed my Rank 2 qualifications,” he said, holding up one finger. “On my first try at that.”
Yuuno gave a low whistle. “Nice.”
He chuckled. “Well, all that practice from when you and Carrie were practicing paid off.”
“You mean when she used me as target practice for her shooting spells under the guise of training?”
“Still counts.” Theisal rubbed his chin as finished taking stock of their rations. “I think we’ll be okay with the supplies for the trip, but it might be cramped with four of us here.”
The ship itself wasn’t very big, being a personal craft rather than one meant for a large group. The engine took up a great deal of the space in truth. Having too many people in a cramped space for a long period of time was a recipe for trouble, which was part of the reason Carrie didn’t go on scouting runs often when they were children. She was a bundle of energy, while Yuuno was more subdued.
“I don’t think Arf and I will take up much space,” Yuuno figured. “We can both shift into smaller forms if necessary.”
The rotund medic snapped his fingers. “Right, the Elder mentioned she was a familiar… speaking of which, since when did you know someone with a familiar?”
“Couple of years now, after my visit to UA-97,” Yuuno said. “I thought I would show her how things worked on our end. I had dinner with her Mistress and family, and they agreed. They’ll be here to see us off.”
“So you had dinner with an older woman and charmed her into letting her familiar help you out?” He chuckled. “I didn’t know you’d grown up so much. I’m proud of you.”
Yuuno arched an eyebrow at him. “You do realize that her Mistress is the same age as me, right?”
The amusement on the medic’s face quickly turned to surprise. Not that Yuuno blamed him. A-rankers weren’t excessively common, less so when they were under the age of eighteen. It took him a moment to process that. “And here I thought you were the prodigy.”
“No, that’d be Nanoha,” he amended, smiling as he did so. “She was A-rank when she discovered magic at the age of nine, and she’s only gotten stronger since then.”
That one Theisal really had trouble wrapping his head around. “You’re kidding right?”
‘Yuuno, your friends have arrived,‘ the Elder said to them both through a telepathic link before he could reply to the question. ‘You’ve finished up there, yes?‘
‘Yes, Elder,‘ he responded. ‘We’re on our way out now.‘
“You were kidding, right?” Theisal repeated.
Yuuno put on an usually smug smile and adjusted his glasses. “See for yourself. They’re here now.”
The pair exited the ship, walking down the metal boarding ramp that extended from the exit and onto the dock. There they found the Elder in a conversation with Lindy, who had the three girls that Yuuno was acquainted with. It was the familiar that noticed his presence first and then waved to him, alerting the rest.
“Good Morning,” Yuuno said, approaching them. “I’m glad you came.”
“In all honesty, I was a bit eager myself and couldn’t really sleep.” Arf set her lips into a playful smile and her tail swayed a bit. He also noticed she had changed her outfit to something similar to her old Jacket, though it had the Scrya family emblem on it. “Amy and Chrono decided to sleep in though. Chrono also said to tell you not to dig too deep or you’d end up in a hole you can’t climb out of.”
Yuuno chuckled sheepishly at that, feeling a mite embarrassed as even the Elder laughed good-naturedly at the jibe. “…one of these days, Chrono. One of these days…”
“Pardon, but I think I recognize you,” Theisal said to Lindy. “I just can’t remember when.”
The Elder filled him in. “She’s visited us before, years ago. It was when the incident with the Jewel Seeds came about. She informed me directly of his involvement, though a great deal of it was censored.”
“His help was immeasurable, and we were happy that he decided to assist us with both that case and the one after that.” She turned to Nanoha, Arf, and Fate. “Isn’t that right, girls?”
They nodded earnestly, with Nanoha placing a hand on the red jewel around her neck. Theisal oddly wondered if it was her device. “If not for Yuuno-kun, I wouldn’t have discovered magic, or Fate-chan, or any of this. I’ll be forever grateful to him.”
There was something about how sincere she was when she said that. Yuuno seemed lost for words, relegated to looking to the side with a small grin on his face as he rubbed the back of his head. “Ah… well… um….”
Theisal, not one to let the opportunity to pass upon seeing his younger cousin’s embarrassment, opened up a telepathic channel. Yuuno could hear the smugness in his thoughts. ‘You are blushing so hard right now. You like her, don’t you?’
‘Not. A. Word.‘ Yuuno sent back, trying to suppress his blush. He brought a fist up to his mouth and nodded his head toward him. “Anyway, this is my cousin, Theisal Scrya. He’s an independent medic who works with our clan.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet all of you,” he said. “Yuuno hasn’t told me nearly enough about any of you, but I’m hoping that we can correct that on the trip to the site. I also have lots of embarrassing stories I can tell you about when he was younger. In fact, I believe I have pictures stored to the camera-device we’re taking.”
Arf laughed softly, eyeing Yuuno as he brought a hand up to cover his eyes. “I’ll be looking forward to hearing them. I’m sure I know a few myself about Fate and Nanoha that I can tell you, in exchange.”
Lindy herself joined in. “Oh, like that time at the pool that they—”
“We swore we’d never speak of that again!” Fate said, a light pink blush on her face while Nanoha looked aside, rubbing the back of her head.
“This is going to be so embarrassing…” Yuuno mumbled. Then he noticed someone was missing. He connected to Carrie telepathically and asked, ‘Where are you?‘
‘I’m busy on the inside,‘ she replied, a bit of an edge in her mental tone. ‘Someone has finish the clearance protocols so we can leave without delay.‘
Yuuno wondered if she was still upset at him and was hoping it wouldn’t cause problems when Nanoha stepped forward and embraced him. Her warmth seeped past the Jacket he wore with their family emblem as she held him tight. For a moment, he swore his heart stopped.
“Take care of yourself, Yuuno-kun,” she said gently. “I’ll be upset if I learn something happened to you.”
He trembled slightly as he raised his arms to her waist and returned the hug, not daring to hold tight. “R-Right…”
Arf spied them for a moment and held back a small chuckle before turning to her Mistress. “Say hello to Erio for me while I’m gone.”
Fate nodded her head slightly, never breaking eye-contact with her beloved familiar. “Of course I will. Look after Yuuno for us.”
Theisal watched his cousin until he spotted something moving in the corner of his eye and glanced over his shoulder to find Carrie leaning against the wall, hiding near the entrance of the ship and just out of view. There was a petulant frown on her face as she looked over at the girl hugging Yuuno.
Hmm… well, it probably won’t go anywhere, he thought. Carrie should know better than to pick a fight as well, so I won’t press the issue unless it becomes a problem.
“Well, let’s not keep you any longer,” said the elderly matron of the Scrya clan. “Good hunting children. Look after yourselves.”
Nanoha released Yuuno from her embrace and wished him well a final time before he boarded. He waved goodbye alongside Arf as the hatch to the ship closed. The pair then joined Theisal and Carrie as they began their process of taking off.
“So,” Theisal started, once they had left the gravity well of Mid-Childa and entered Dimensional Space, “where did you two meet? Yuuno’s been sketchy on the details when it comes to that Jewel Seeds thing.”
Yuuno looked up from his screen and raised a brow at him. “That’s because it’s classified.”
“Only the certain parts of the case details are classified,” Arf corrected. “The circumstances are another story; otherwise Nanoha’s parents wouldn’t have been informed. It was the same with your Elder, wasn’t it? You should tell them something.”
“Maybe….” He spotted Carrie looking at him expectantly and then shifted a glance to Arf and connected to her mind. ‘You sure you want to talk about it? It’s not my participation I’m worried about, but Fate’s. And then Hayate and the knights.‘
‘I’m not going into detail about those parts, but look at them.‘ She tilted her head to the two of them. ‘They only know that something happened and that it’s changed you. You grew distant from them and they want to know why. Can you imagine how it looks from their end?‘
‘You’re right,‘ he admitted. ‘Abridged version then. No offense, but my family looks poorly on relic and logia thieves and—well, I know you and Fate are good people. I’d stake my life on it, and I have. I trust you and Fate on every conceivable level, but I don’t want them to be colored by your past.‘
‘You’re sweet, Yuuno.‘ Arf flashed a smile towards him, and then reached out to pinch his cheek affectionately. ‘If you and Nanoha got together, she couldn’t do better.‘
He blushed, rubbing the spot as she let go. ‘Uh, thanks… um, so I’ll go ahead. When it comes up we’ll say that you and Fate were there as good Samaritans or something and there was a bit of a misunderstanding because neither of us was officially sanctioned, but once the TSAB got involved it was cleared up.‘
‘Close enough to the truth anyway.‘ She then turned to the pair, who seemed more curious than ever knowing they had been left out of the discussion. “I won’t go into any big details, but my Mistress and I met Yuuno and Nanoha on Earth, registered as UA-97.”
“That’s the last unadministrated Type -1a world, isn’t it?” There were thirteen Type-1a worlds on record that budded from a point after the evolution of humans was already set. In contrast, Type-1b worlds were those that held an ecosystem with no intelligent life similar to humans, but were made habitable by other cultures that came through Dimensional Space through terraforming.
Yuuno nodded. “You knew that I had gone off to lead a dig alone, investigating a set of Lost Logia. They were the Jewel Seeds, and they were lost in mid-transit due to a dimensional storm and ended up there. I left the site once I lost the signal to the ship and tracked their trajectory to Earth, so I went to get them back before they could cause problems.”
“Alone?” Carrie turned her seat around towards him, a frown present on her face. Yuuno imagined what little she knew from the Elder had her thinking that the TSAB were involved from the start. “What were you thinking?”
“I found them and it was my responsibility,” Yuuno said. “Earth is unadministrated and has one of the lowest magical populations I’ve ever seen. They have linker cores, just about everyone does after all, but the majority of them wouldn’t even be considered F-rank mages when the average is high E-rank to low C-rank generally speaking. There’s no local system in place to handle problems stemming from magic, and you know the policy on first contact—can you imagine what the effects would be on a world without magic and knowledge of Dimensional Space?”
“Point.” Theisal said. There was still a note of reprimand in his voice. “Taking responsibility is something I can get behind, but why didn’t you call for the TSAB and let them handle it?”
“I did, but they wouldn’t have gotten there in time and those seeds were quick to go off. The first one mutated the local wildlife not even minutes after I had got there by absorbing the ambient mana. I tried to seal it, but I miscalculated and got injured. I had to switch to my Ferret form and broadcast a message for help.”
“But you said that world has an unusually low population of magic-capable people, so they couldn’t heal you…” Carrie trailed off, and Yuuno could process her emotional state by how her expression went from concerned at hearing that, to relieved he was okay now, and then angry about the scenario. “You could have died!”
“I didn’t,” he said. “Nanoha managed to find me. She was a native and wasn’t aware that I was human, so she took me to a vet. That form has organs, so I could process the food they gave me to extract the mana to heal the injuries I suffered while my body was in the extra-dimensional pocket.”
Theisal, being the medic, looked at it from specialized perspective. The severity of injuries he could have been inflicted with to have to remain in that form… well, they weren’t something he was happy knowing. “I’m starting to see why you kept quiet on this.”
“I only had to stay like that until the TSAB arrived and finished healing me on their ship,” Yuuno said. “Until then, I supported Nanoha in sealing the seeds in that form. She was A-rank in terms of sheer power from the start, but Raising Heart, her device, did the majority of the work the first time while she supplied the power. I kept her safe from harm from close-by.”
Theisal frowned. “Wait, how did she get a device on a world that doesn’t have a magical system in place?”
“Ah… that’s…” He paused to think about how to phrase it. “You saw the pendant around her neck, right?” Theisal nodded. “I gave it to her.”
“You had a device?” Carrie asked. “How did you get it?”
“It was the prize for a writing competition I entered, the one on the thesis about a fourth possible divergence. I entered it a few months before the dig. I didn’t expect to win it, but I got first place. There was a choice of prizes and the device was one of them.” He grimaced knowing where this would end up going. “They sent it to the Elder and she sent it to me on-site with the last of the supplies, before I got through the wards of the tomb the Jewel Seeds were in.”
“Of all the things you could have gotten, why’d you pick that?” Theisal asked. “No offense, Yuuno, but shooting spells aren’t your specialty. Last time I checked, you could barely pull off a Shoot Barret.”
He looked apologetically at Carrie. “I was planning on giving it to you for your birthday, but the situation came up and Nanoha was a natural with it. It was the only way we had for sealing them, and afterwards it would have been wrong to take it away. I’m sorry, Carrie.”
“You…” She exhaled and turned her seat away from him. “No, I get it. She saved your life and you didn’t have any obligation to give it to me. If I had gotten it but lost you, I’d… I’d….”
Carrie trailed off, running her fingers in her hair as her voice cracked. Then she shook her head furiously and turned to face him again, a self-assured expression there now. “Anyway, I have my own device now and it’s better suited to my affinity.”
“That covers the gist of what led to the situation.” Theisal looked to Arf. “Where did you come in?”
“My Mistress, Fate, and I were there with a sickly relative,” she lied. “She had a terminal illness and wanted to spend the last few months she had there. I was created because someone would need to look after her once she was gone, and Fate could uplift me with her reserves. Much like Nanoha was a native gifted with an unusually strong amount of power and talent, so was Fate. When we sensed a disturbance caused by the seeds we went to investigate, and one thing led to another. Neither of us could get into contact with the TSAB for reasons, possibly due to the storm that knocked the seeds there in the first place, and there was a series of misunderstandings until they did get there.”
Most of it was true without context. They had been there with Precia, who was dying from the mana poisoning she sustained from the accident. They did go and investigate the disturbances to collect them, and they couldn’t contact the TSAB because they were actively blocking them.
“We thought Yuuno was a familiar like myself, and my Mistress was the same age as Nanoha, so they hit it off,” Arf continued. “By the time the issue with the Jewel Seeds was resolved, my Mistress’ mother died and we were adopted into Lindy’s family and joined the TSAB.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Theisal said, sympathetically. He only said that because he didn’t know her.
Arf shook her head. “There was no other way it could have ended. She died doing what she set out to do… besides, a lot more good came from it. We’re happy as things are, for the most part.”
“So, what was the other time he left us to go there?” Carrie asked. “There were two cases they needed him for, right?”
Yuuno took a moment to compose his thoughts. His clan knew of the Book of Darkness on an intellectual-level. They had to, given they ran the risk of uprooting something like that. But, given how strongly they reacted to the Jewel Seed story, they’d take it… poorly if they knew that one.
“Another Lost Logia ended up on Earth,” he finally said. “It was found by another native, who activated it without realizing what it was and ended up tripping the defense program. It’s not too uncommon when dealing with ancient artifacts meant to contain knowledge, I mean every now and again someone trips a defense program in the Infinite Library and we have to contain it. But this one was unusually powerful and Nanoha contacted the TSAB, while I was there visiting her at the time since she wanted me to teach her some new spells.”
Arf picked up from there. “Fate and I came with the TSAB, because we were familiar with the area and assisted. Unfortunately, the defense program was troubling to deal with and we needed research done to find a weakness we could exploit. Yuuno volunteered to go to the Infinite Library and fed us what we needed to save the native girl, Hayate, who became a close friend as well. Yuuno did such a good job in sorting things out hired him on the spot and the three of us who were on Earth decided to join the TSAB.”
“That about sums it up,” Yuuno finished. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’ve done a good enough job that they’re considering giving me a better position now.”
“Don’t be so modest,” Arf said, reaching over and pulling him closer to her. “Youngest Chief Librarian in history is nothing to scoff at. Isn’t that right, you two?”
His cousin agreed. “You’ve done well for yourself, Yuuno. I don’t think any of us could be prouder of you.”
“You still should have visited more,” Carrie said, pouting. She couldn’t say he hadn’t done well for himself. Not now, hearing some of the details of what he went up against.
But she still felt so many things about everything—him never coming by the compound, being in danger, that Nanoha girl and the device meant for her, the way she hugged him before they left, and the way the familiar kept getting so close to him. It stewed inside of her, roiling her emotions.
Of course, that because a secondary concern when Theisal clapped his hands and produced the civ-device that had a camera built into it and a projector. “As promised, I give you the first of our embarrassing stories. Observe.”
The projector displayed a picture of Yuuno in his ferret form cowering between two rocks while a much younger Carrie was pointing at him with tears in her eyes. Both of them were covered in what looked to be bits of fruit and their juices. The pair cringed as the memory came back to them.
Carrie reached for the device, only for Theisal to stop her. “Oh come on!”
“I thought you were kidding when you said you had those pictures,” Yuuno said.
Arf looked at the scene with a smile on her face. “I want to hear the story behind this.”
“It starts with Yuuno succeeding for the first time in transforming into his Ferret form,” Theisal began. “None of us could teach him since it was a Rare Skill, but he had a theory and worked at it. He was so excited that he ran around and then bumped into Carrie, who thought he was a mouse.”
Arf chuckled. “Aw, he does look like a cute mousey at that age.”
“I know, right?” Theisal sighed. “Anyway, Carrie’s afraid of mice. So her first inclination was to try and hit it with a shooting spell. She didn’t have a device, so she could barely arrange the vectors and she was a sloppy shot, but Yuuno panicked and scurried around her until she got so aggravated that she started firing them en masse and chasing after him.”
Carrie felt the heat of embarrassment lingering in her face as she crossed her arms. “In my defense, he should have said something.”
“There’s a learning curve when it comes to using that form,” Yuuno argued. “I didn’t have time to think about it when my first instinct is to get away from the girl ten times my size raining down spells at me.”
“You would have been fine,” Carrie said, brushing it off. “That form is more durable than your human body to begin with.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know that at the time.” Yuuno sighed. “So I ran, you chased me through the camp, we got splashed when you blasted through a whole stack of fruits to try and get me, and then I found a spot to hide in until the Elder came and cleared it up.”
“We had a good laugh afterwards,” Theisal told Arf as he changed the picture. This time it was Yuuno surrounded by other members of the clan, raising cups in celebration while Carrie was there too, eating next to him. “We were already celebrating a successful dig, so we also added to it that one of our youngest had made just as great a personal accomplishment.”
“They’ve always been supportive of me,” Yuuno said softly, looking fondly at the picture. “I really should have stayed in contact. I’m sorry, both of you.”
The apology and picture abated the roiling feeling inside of Carrie, for the moment at least. “You’re here now. That’s what matters.”
“Thanks.” He turned to Arf. “You’re not going to tell the others about this, are you?”
She didn’t bother to lie to him. “As soon as we get back I’m having you cousin give me copies of these pictures. Chrono’s going to have a field day, though I suspect the girls think it’s adorable.”
Yuuno groaned. “He’ll never let me live this down.”
“Cheer up,” Arf said. “How about I tell you the story Lindy was about to mention? See, Nanoha had come to Mid and it was summer, so she wanted to go swimming….”
At the docking station, one of the employees in charge of approving clearance noticed the ship that had been registered to the Scrya Clan had departed with their trajectory path listed. The information was to be used to chart destinations and help with the relocating the vessel should anything happen, such as a dimensional storm brought about by turbulence. It had been useful for saving lives in the past, and it was standard procedure for ships that used the dock.
He found another use for it, memorizing the details with a long glance—eidetic memory was a wonderful thing. There was a buyer who wanted the information, specifically those related to groups that were known to excavate ruins and dimensions where there was a high probability of finding Lost Logia. Once he took his break he’d send it to them and get paid for it.
Extra cash never hurt around this time of the year.
Scrya Chronicles – Chapter 2
Yuuno hesitated in the orange glow of the fading sunlight, standing outside the home of the Harlaown Family on Mid-Childa. He had spent more time than he realized with his clan, talking over some of the preliminary measures that would need to be taken for the trip, provisions to be bought, and what was expected. After that he entertained some of the younger kids in his ferret form, finding it to be a rather emotionally soothing—if not tiring—event.
It was a modest home, standing roughly a story-and-a-half in height. The window panes reflected the dying light, casting it back over the carefully tended lawn of viridian grass. Flowering brush lined either side of the entrance, white butterflies gently resting on the golden petals in full-bloom.
Lindy Harlaown, at the very least, was expecting him. When he had called their residence, in order to try and contact Arf, she had told him to come over. It seemed like the polite thing to do. She was Fate’s legal guardian, making her also responsible for Arf in that aspect, and asking her in person was only fitting.
No, what bought the hesitation was the fact that Nanoha was supposedly staying over for the length of her holiday. It made sense. They were friends, and it mitigated the commute time between Mid-Childa and Earth. But the day’s revelations had not exactly readied him for a discussion with her.
Instead, he feared talking to her would complicate his already complex emotions further. Worse than that, what if Arf told Fate or Nanoha about their discussion in the café? Would she try to comfort him? Would she reject him? Would she pity?
Yuuno didn’t think he could take any of those responses coming from her. The thought alone clawed at his stomach and heart. It left him struggling with two choices:
He could stay, braving his emotional confusion and turmoil to make his plea to Arf and her family. He felt like he owed it to her out of respect for listening to him, as well as a chance to connect with someone from his past. It felt more appropriate, since they were both in the same metaphorical boat
Or, he could leave while he was still unnoticed. It would be simple enough to say something came up. But then it would be rude, wouldn’t it? He would feel terrible for lying to them, just to relieve himself from the fear of seeing Nanoha.
The decision was ultimately made for him when he heard another voice that he hadn’t heard for some time, marking the third time for that day. “What are you doing standing there, Ferret Boy?”
“Uh… enjoying the scenery?” he said meekly, turning to find Chrono Harlaown and the girl he vaguely recalled from the few times he was on the Asura, Amy. As tall as Yuuno had gotten over the years, Chrono had grown even taller due to being older.
“Right….” Chrono strode forward, Amy following behind, and came to a stop in front of him. “Honestly, I thought you had been buried under a stack of books at the Infinite Library, never to be found again. This is certainly the last place I expected to see you.”
“I had something I wanted to discuss with your mother and she told me to come over,” Yuuno said. “It would have been rude to refuse.”
Chrono crossed his arms. “And yet you’ve been standing there for who knows how long?”
Yuuno scratched the back of his head, not willing to meet the pair of dark-violet eyes boring into him. He didn’t want to admit he was nervous to Chrono, of all people. Thankfully, the door opening to reveal Lindy spared him of that.
“I was expecting Yuuno, but you’re home early, Chrono.” Her eyes drifted past her son and to Amy. “How have you been, Amy?”
“Very well, Admiral Harlaown,” Amy said, holding up the bags. “I came to help make dinner, if you don’t mind?”
“Not at all,” Lindy said. “And you don’t have to call me Admiral anymore. I’m retired.”
Yuuno took a moment to register that bit of information. It was news to him. “You’ve retired?”
“Chrono is the new Flotilla Admiral of the Asura.” She couldn’t have been more proud in the way she said it either. “Anyway, all of you come inside.”
Chrono and Amy entered through the doorway and into the home. Yuuno hesitated, still unsure if he should enter. Chrono settled the mental debate by grabbing his shoulder and pulling him in.
Dragged inside, Yuuno took his place at the table and sat in the chair across from Lindy. Since Chrono and Amy seemed content on making dinner, setting to work in the kitchen, it left the librarian with the smiling former admiral as she poured him a cup of tea. He couldn’t help but feel a little out of his element.
“It will be a little while before the girls finish bathing for dinner,” she said. “What have you been up to since we last seen one another? You haven’t been involved in anything as troublesome as what we went through then, have you?”
“Of course not, ma’am,” he said, scratching his cheek at the thought. Honestly, he couldn’t imagine being caught in something like the Book of Darkness case a second time. Or that mess with the Jewel Seeds. “I’ve just been at the Infinite Library, but it seems I’ve missed at lot during that time.”
She nodded to that. “The years seem to pass by so quickly.”
“It seems that way, doesn’t it?” There was an undertone of melancholy in his voice. “But, you can’t help but wonder what it is that you missed.”
“That’s true too, I suppose.” Lindy took a sip of her tea. It was rather sweet. “It’s probably one of the reasons I retired. There was no time for me to do the simple things I liked, not mention trouble after trouble. Though there are times when I sincerely miss being on the Asura.”
Taking a drink of the tea she offered him, he imagined how stressful her work had been. Spending vast amounts of time away from her home-world, while constantly monitoring and handling threats, was something that wore on you over time. It wasn’t all that different from his time as an archaeologist, but she also had to look after Fate and Chrono. It must’ve been hard.
The silence that followed was broken when Lindy decided to open a telepathic line to Yuuno, not wanting for the others to overhear. ‘Chrono is getting married next year.‘
He nearly coughed up his tea in surprise. ‘He is? To who?‘
‘To Amy, of course.‘ She tilted her head towards the pair. ‘Just look at them.‘
Looking over her shoulders, Yuuno watched how close the two were. ‘I never would have guessed he’d be the type to get married so young.‘
‘Me neither,’ Lindy said. ‘I always thought he’d be the type of person who wouldn’t be tied down because he’s a workaholic. But now it seems like I’ll be a mother-in-law and a grandmother.‘
Yuuno was honestly having trouble wrapping his head around that. In fact, the revelation made him dizzy. But there was no time to dwell on the thought, or telepathic conversation, once Nanoha appeared in the hallway entrance, from where he suspected were the rooms.
“Thank you for letting me stay over Miss—” Partway through her sentence she noticed Lindy’s guest. Her smile of gratitude towards Lindy became wider, bright enough to light up the room. “Yuuno-kun!”
“Nanoha!?” He barely managed to get out of his chair before the flying hug-tackle she gave him almost bowled him over. The impact jostled his glasses, knocking them off his face. “Uh, um… why—I mean, when did you get here?”
“I told you that Nanoha was staying over for her time on Mid,” Lindy said, propping her head up on the table with her palms. She chuckled as Nanoha picked his glasses up off the floor and handed them back, rubbing the back of her head and sheepishly apologizing. “I figured it had been some time since you’d seen one another, and what better way for everyone to reconnect than through dinner together?”
“I see….” He replaced his glasses only to find Nanoha still standing there, looking him with gentle, indigo-eyes that seemed to glimmer as they stared into his own. His cheeks turned crimson, and he found himself noticing how much softer her features were than he remembered. As well as the fact that she smelled… nice.
He wondered why he felt so flustered at seeing her up-close. It had been a year, and it was good to see her, but his heart was starting to beat faster. Maybe it was because he had been thinking about her and the past all day?
Chrono peeked over his shoulder to the sight of Yuuno’s ever-reddening face. He couldn’t help but shake his head, sighing as he did. Then he felt a brush against his mind, and opened the telepathic channel to Amy. ‘Somehow, I have the feeling Mother set this up just to see this.‘
‘The Admiral does seem to be enjoying herself,’ Amy noted, glancing at Lindy’s face. She was smiling as she watched the scene unfold. ‘It’s cute, in a way. You think he’ll tell her how he feels?‘
He scoffed just a little. ‘I sincerely doubt it. Assuming he knows how he feels, Ferret Boy doesn’t have it in him to come out and say it. He’s the defensive-type, so you pressure him until an opening appears and slip through his defenses to get the message across.‘
‘Pot meet kettle.‘ She brushed her shoulder against his arm, taking her place next to his side. Their eyes met, and a rather knowing smile crept onto her face. ‘I seem to recall you being in the same boat.‘
‘I confessed eventually,‘ he retorted. ‘And, to be fair, I didn’t know you were interested in me.‘
‘I only had to spell it out for you over the course of several years….‘ Amy placed a hand on her stomach. ‘Then again, here we are. Starting a family….‘
Chrono let a soft sigh slip out of his mouth, which slowly became a rare smile. ‘Yeah, I guess so….‘
“Uh, so, how have you been?” Yuuno asked Nanoha after she took the seat to the right of him. “I mean, how’s your training going towards entering the Combat Instructor Division?”
She went into a detailed, vivid description of some of the training she had undergone in the last year since they had gotten together. Her training had been far more exciting than anything he had done in the last year, as expected of someone in her position. Graduation for her couldn’t come soon enough, it seemed.
“But what about you, Yuuno-kun?” she asked, after finishing regaling him of her exploits. “How are things with you?”
He opened his mouth to tell her of his accomplishment, but the words died before they came out. If he mentioned the potential promotion, then he’d have to bring up why he didn’t jump on it. That would bring some of his concerns to light, which would be a burden to her that she didn’t need right now.
That, and the fact that he didn’t want to risk hearing her suggestion to go one way or the other. She’d be able to talk him into either one, but for now he wanted to see where his future was heading towards through his own efforts. It was the only way he could be certain, and satisfied, with whatever path he chose.
With her still looking at him expectantly, he shifted his gaze and rubbed the top of his head. “Just more time in the Infinite Library, still in the middle of reorganizing things. Nothing special.”
Chrono begged to differ. “You can say that, but at least when we need to do a reference in that section we can actually find what we’re looking for in a reasonable timeframe now. Sending you there was the best thing to happen to the place.”
“True, things are better than they were before,” Yuuno admitted, “but there’s still a lot of room for improvement in the wing I work in. Let alone the others. It could be well over a lifetime before its perfect….”
As he trailed off, Fate and Arf entered into the room. Fate took stock of everyone who had gathered, her brother, Amy, Nanoha, Lindy, and Yuuno, and smiled at the sight of so many familiar faces. “I had no idea we were having so many people over. I would have come out sooner.”
“Amy and I returned earlier than we expected,” Chrono said from the kitchen. “Scrya was apparently expected though.”
“He wanted to speak to you and Arf about an expedition with his clan,” Lindy stated. “I invited him over to do it since we haven’t seen him in so long.”
“Some of us more than others,” the familiar said as she took a seat across from Yuuno, leaving her Mistress to take the seat next to Nanoha. “You went to see your clan after all, huh? How was it?”
His expression softened. “It was nice actually. There are a lot more kids there now, and I found myself actually enjoying playing with them in my ferret form. I really should have done it sooner, so thank you for what you said then.”
“That’s really nice,” she said. “I’m happy for you.”
“Arf-chan,” Nanoha said, “you didn’t tell us you met with Yuuno-kun.”
“It was pure chance that we ran into one another, when you and Fate were practicing.”Arf made a small, placating gesture with her hands. “We simply had lunch, but since it wasn’t anything major I decided against mentioning it since you were both tired then. I wanted to wait until you both were relaxed before bringing it up, but it seems Lindy beat us to it.”
“Like she said, it was a fluke,” Yuuno added. “I would’ve said something myself, but you were both so dedicated that I didn’t want to disturb your training. I know how difficult it is for both of you to even meet up being in different fields, on top of both of you living on different worlds. Since there wasn’t much happening with me, I didn’t want to intrude….”
“I guess I understand.” Nanoha grumbled. She felt there was more to it, but she didn’t want to pry.
Fate cleared her throat, grabbing their attention. “So what is this expedition about?”
“Right, that…” He adjusted his glasses by the bridge. “When I visited my clan, the elder invited me along to visit what looks to be a partially terraformed Type-1c world. There’s a facility in the center of it and we were hoping it may have been of historical value, so two other clan members and I are going to scout the area. I wanted to ask if Arf could accompany us.”
Arf’s expression conveyed her confusion. But it was her Mistress that spoke on her behalf. “Not that I’m opposed, provided Arf agrees, but may I ask why?”
“Yes…” He trailed off into a sigh, shaking his head as memories from hours prior with Carrie came to the surface. She had warned him to take this seriously, reminding him that this wasn’t something to be taken lightly when family lives were on the line. “This line of work is dangerous, you understand, and it’s not strange for us to run into dangerous Lost Logia or thieves who would want to sell them.”
“He’s right.” Lindy chimed in. “Archeologists have one of the most dangerous careers given their close-contact with relics of the Warring States era.”
“For that reason, I want to make sure that we take as many precautions as possible,” Yuuno’s expression grew somber. “In all honesty, though I remain in practice, it’s been too long for me to say without a doubt that I’m sufficient enough to support them. Few of our clan members are above C-rank in terms of ability, and I’ve seen what happens when we aren’t careful on a dig more than once…. one time we even stumbled across a command unit Mariage.”
Lindy winced. “That’s… unfortunate. I’m sorry.”
He exhaled silently with pursed lips before nodding. “We managed to stop it and reported it. That had to be enough. ”
Nanoha frowned at seeing him like this. The topic was obviously difficult for him to talk about, but it left her wondering what it could have been that made him look like that. What was this thing that caused him to look so pained?
‘It’s an ancient cybernetics’ weapon from the Dark Ages,‘ Fate explained through a telepathic link. She learned of it during her Enforcer-based curriculum. ‘Hailing from the ancient Kingdom of Galea, it can be considered a greater threat than the Tome of the Night sky before it was purged of the corrupted defense program under a worst-case scenario.‘
Fate nodded. ‘It takes corpses and turns them into soldiers, twisting them into what amounts to B-Rank mage zombies that move under a hive mind. A command unit is arguably A-ranked and capable of raising the dead in combat time. Most likely, one or more of his clansmen were turned and then set loose upon them….”
Nanoha’s imagination worked its own magic, painting a grisly picture of one of her oldest friends dying only to have his corpse desecrated and twisted into an abomination. It made her shudder. Just thinking that the gentle scholar, who she could only see at his happiest while surrounded by books, facing something like that… it made her stomach drop.
“Should you really risk your life for something like that?” she asked. “Wouldn’t it be better if you stayed in the Infinite Library instead of doing something so dangerous?”
He straightened out, facing her with conviction in his eyes and steel in his voice. “There’s so much we don’t understand from the time when Alhazred collapsed and the resulting eras. The things we find and gleam during the excavations can be used to better civilization as a whole, or make things safe for others. Could you imagine how things would be if the familiar uplifting program, one of the few things that carried from that time, hadn’t survived the collapse?”
Fate’s eyes drifted over to her familiar. Arf had been there for her during the hard and lonely times. Had she not, there was little doubt she wouldn’t have been able to survive as she had to this day. “No, I couldn’t. I don’t even want to.”
He ran his fingers through his hair and nodded to himself, confirming his own beliefs. “To this day, no one fully understands how the Familiar Uplifting works. By modern standards it shouldn’t exist, but in the past they managed to do what we consider impossible. Now imagine if we could somehow find and understand the life-extension treatments that the Alhazredians had, or repurpose the ancestor-thrones of Praovéan Dynasts for life-support systems? Regardless of the risks, the discoveries to be had are worth pursuing despite the danger.”
If even a minute before he seemed like a timid ferret that should have been nestled away inside the library for safety, now he seemed different. He was like they had known him once before, standing alongside them as a peer and equal. Not someone to be coddled.
“Much like all of you risk your lives for what you believe in, we do the same upholding that belief. We learn from their advancements, and we document the evidence of their mistakes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That is what it means to be a Scrya—to never be afraid to uncover the past, for the sake of the future!”
There was a moment of absolute silence after his impassioned speech. It made sense. Few there could think of a time when he spoke with such conviction that it was unbefitting of his normally placid nature.
Arf couldn’t stop herself from clapping softly, easing the tension that had come about. The nature of the smile that blossomed on her face was that spoke of understanding, and a touch of envy. Looking at those emerald eyes that held a passion in them that burned as hot as the sun, she found herself wanting that.
For Fate, there was no sin too grave or risk too great that she wouldn’t undertake to protect her. But now, falling behind as her Mistress grew stronger and older, she found herself where she wouldn’t be needed despite her conviction. But, if a simple question could spark such a reaction in him after how she had seen him before, then maybe… just maybe, she could go along and find that same spark in protecting him. “If you put it like that there’s no way we can so no, right, Fate?”
Fate nodded, turning to her best friend and letting their minds touch one another. ‘Even as a child he was capable of supporting you when you were just spreading your wings. The stakes were so high, and he had no obligation to remain. Yet, even when it would have been easier to simply run away or ignore what happened on Earth, he stayed and fought like the rest of us. To think any less of him would be an insult.‘
“I’m sorry, Yuuno-kun,” Nanoha said, her voice soft. It had been so long that she only saw him as a friend who introduced her to magic, rather than someone who fought alongside her. She reached for his hands and took them into hers. “It’s just that I was worried about you.”
“I feel that same way thinking about every time all of you go out and do your jobs,” he said. The softness of her touch was enough to warm on the inside, and the concern in her eyes was as clear as they were beautiful. They staggered his breath. “As… as your friend, no matter how strong all of you are, that fear will never fade.”
‘You’re blushing,‘ Arf pointed out telepathically. Along with those words, she showed him her view of Amy and Chrono exchanging knowing glances, with Amy barely keeping herself from laughing. ‘I’m willing to bet they’re wondering if you’ll be confessing now.‘
He looked away, breaking the contact and covering his mouth as he got back on topic. “We’re taught from a young age that history and relics from the past have to be preserved, whether good or bad. These artifacts and ruins hold a great deal of knowledge and can act as means of unraveling the mysteries of the past. That being said, I value life more and just want everyone to be safe. That’s why I wanted to invite Arf, if she could get permission.”
“If Arf wants to help you, she has my blessing,” Fate said. “Just make sure both of you come back to us safe and sound.”
“The initial scouting may take well over a week with the limited space and supplies on the ship, but we aren’t expecting anything serious,” he assured her. “She’d more than capable of helping during that time.”
‘So it has nothing to do with what we discussed earlier?‘ Arf prodded with a smile. ‘And here I thought this was your way of paying me back.‘
‘It’s both,‘ he replied. ‘I want to help you like you helped me, giving you a chance to experience something different in hopes of finding whatever it is you’re looking for… plus, everything I said was true. Your help would be more than welcomed.‘
“Can we at least see you both off?” Nanoha asked. “I want to meet your family. You’ve meet all of ours, so it’s only fair.”
“I don’t see why not,” he said, scratching the back of his head.
“And with that said, dinner is done,” Amy announced. With her husband-to-be, she set the table and the delicious aroma began to make their stomachs ache with the desire to consume it. “I hope there will be enough for everyone.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t impose any further,” Yuuno said. He made to leave, only to be held in place by Lindy as she set her hands on his shoulders. The smile she wore felt ominous for some reason.
It was then Arf gave him some words of wisdom. ‘There’s no escape. Lindy doesn’t let anyone leave the table when its dinner time. Just sit back down and make nice.’
Faced with that unchanging smile and the advice, he sank back in his seat. “I… guess I can stay a bit longer?”
The former Flotilla Admiral released him and clasped her hands. “Wonderful. Now girls, tell me how your day was….”
Yuuno left feeling fuller than he expected, and later than he expected. That woman didn’t let him go until he was stuffed, saying he needed to put on a bit more weight. Honestly, he felt like he wanted to curl up and sleep now.
Standing outside, he stared at the two moons above for a brief moment in thought. He accomplished what he set out to do, but he didn’t mean to have that sort of outburst. By the Kaisers, he hadn’t even thought he still had that sort of passion in him for archeology after being in the Infinite Library. Yet, all it took was one comment from Nanoha to bring those buried feelings to the surface.
He was happy there, and like Chrono said, he did some real good there. But… for all the dangers, he did miss his time exploring ruins. Every corner was a mystery to unfold, holding secrets no one else had viewed in millennia. The tomes in the Library would remain there, and even if it took a lifetime they could be deciphered, but there were still countless things left to discover.
Surer than ever that he had to do this, he walked home with every intention of getting a decent rest for what was to come tomorrow…
Though he had to admit, maybe it would be faster if he shape-shifted. Four legs would be better than two, given how his stomach felt at the moment.
Scrya Chronicles – Chapter 1
Note: Okay, this is just a little something I thought of some time back since Yuuno was one of the characters who got shoved aside as the series changed directions after the second season. Since his entire stint was basically fulfilling the role of Nanoha’s support, I thought it would be interesting to see from his eyes and show that by doing so it had created some underlying identity problem. This fanfic uses elements of Gamesverse, which were freely given in accordance to the Disclaimer on the forums where they were originally posted, but is more aligned with the Canon series, set in the Year 0070.
The Infinite Library—a repository of knowledge in the form of a space-station that was used by various powers of time passed, spoils of war from various dimensions during the Warring States Era. Different wings held different forms of data-storage, seven-hundred years of knowledge from different sources tossed together by formatting rather than culture, and dumped into it without care or order. It was a sprawling trove of wisdom that had yet to be sorted into anything that would pass as orderly, and there were a number of librarians working to put order to the chaos.
At present one amongst them was hard at work as he floated off the floor of the wing holding the physical data-storage units, books. There was a book levitating in front of him, wreathed in viridian light to prevent any chance of accidentally damage it. His emerald eyes tried to decipher the contents through the lens of his glasses, unraveling the context of the work from recognizing the ciphers somewhat, when he received a ping in his mind over the telepathic channel.
‘Scrya-san,’ rang the mental voice of the Chief Librarian for this wing within the confines of his mind, drawing his attention. ‘Can you come to my office? There’s a matter I wish to discuss with you.‘
‘I’ll be there in a moment,‘ Yuuno Scrya replied, setting the text back where he found it. It would most likely be there when he got back. Lowering to the ground he passed the sprawling piles of tomes that had yet to be sorted as he made his way to the exit. There was so much to do and not enough time or manpower.
He ventured to the office of the Chief Librarian for their wing, where he was welcomed inside by the man himself. Xoel Clavis was a man who was in his mid-50s at current, wrinkles beginning to appear and his black hair was being encroached by shades of grey. He looked tired and unassuming, but his lips were crooked into a placid smile.
“Good afternoon, Scrya-san,” he said. “I apologize from taking you from your work all of a sudden.”
“It’s fine,” Yuuno replied, taking a seat in the chair opposite the chrome desk that the Chief Librarian sat behind. “What was it you wished to discuss with me?”
“Yes, well….” Coal-black eyes settled onto his emerald ones as the older man set his arms on the desk and steepled his fingers. “Scrya-san, you’ve done a number of great things for the Infinite Library over these last few years. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say you’re responsible a great deal of the advances we’ve made to this date. That’s why I wanted to tell you personally that I’ve nominated you for my position of the next Chief Librarian for this wing.”
Yuuno took a moment to process that with a mere blink. He had been working at the Infinite Library for almost five years at present. At his current age, fourteen, it would make him the youngest Chief Librarian in the known history of the Infinite Library. “Um… is that really possible?”
“I wouldn’t have nominated you if I didn’t think you were qualified,” he stated. “I’ve run it by some of my superiors. No one was opposed to the idea given your dedication and I’m not getting any younger. Not to mention the dreams…”
He arched his brows at the last word. “Dreams, sir?”
Chief Librarian shuddered. “Yes, the dreams… where the library itself is alive, swallowing me whole as I try desperately to escape from its grasp. I wouldn’t be the first it’s claimed. After some time the work simply becomes too much and I’m due for retirement anyway.”
Yuuno mulled it over in his head, trying to think about what the position would entail. He already spent so much time there already, but it wasn’t a chore. He liked working there and the hours simply seemed to pass by. But as it was he couldn’t find the excitement or elation he would have expected from being offered the position.
It was missing, replaced a sensation of uncertainty. It ate away at him for reasons he didn’t know why.
Xoel took his silence as an opportunity to add, “You can always refuse. It’s a big commitment, time-consuming, and you are relatively young. No one would blame you for not taking the position to keep your social life and there will be other opportunities.”
“It’s not that, I just…” He trailed off, looking away and wondering why he wasn’t more ecstatic about it. He scratched the back of his head and brushed against the ribbon in it that was tied around a gathering of strands, making a small rattail. It was a gift he’d received from Nanoha. Was that the reason he was so hesitant? “May I have some time to think about it?”
He received a slight nod in response. “I imagine you’d want to discuss it with your family and friends as well. We can make arrangements for two weeks off that you’ve had rolling over.”
After being dismissed from the Infinite Library for the time being Yuuno found himself at the TSAB training grounds. His Civ-Device was granted a certain-level of access to the grounds as the Infinite Library was part of the TSAB headquarters structure. Normally Nanoha would be on Earth, but it was a long weekend and he had guessed that she would have arrived to make use of the facility with the proper permissions. She had mentioned it once before.
He found her, eventually, engaging in aerial combat against Fate. The two were in contrasting Barrier Jackets, clashing above as one tried to close the distance while the other bombarded her with shooting spells. He found himself staring at the white-clad mage while lost in thought for some time, just watching….
“Didn’t think I’d see you here,” said a familiar voice that he hadn’t heard for some time. He turned to find Arf there in her adult form, although rather than the usual white top and pink shorts that composed her Barrier Jacket she was adorned in a white blouse and black jeans, keeping her black shoes. One of her hands was on her hips while the other held some kind of snack bar. “The glasses are new, Yuuno-kun.”
“Yeah, but they help.” He gave her warm smile. “Besides, I’m not the only one who looks different. I like it though. Makes you look more mature, Arf-san.”
“I see you’re a charmer now too,” she said with a hit of humor to be found in her voice as she approached the glass and stood next to him. Much like his eyes had been fixed on the white blur speeding around the air above the training ground, hers were on the lightning bolt in human form, dressed in black and wielding a scythe made of mana.”They’re really going at it, huh?”
He nodded. “Looks like it.”
“So, should I tell them you’re here?” she asked, before taking a bite out of the bar in her hand. “It’s not like they’re in a rush since they have the field for another two hours or so.”
“I don’t want to interrupt them,” he said as Fate burned a Sonic Move and vanished, hiding even her mana trail in the process. Nanoha searched for it only to bring up a Round Shield on her right that was slammed into by a cluster of Photon Bullets. It was a decoy as Fate appeared to her rear with her scythe upraised, ready to bring it down.
Yuuno wanted to tell her to watch her rear, but Nanoha didn’t need the warning to bring her other hand up. A shield spell sprung into existence, the circle acting as a bulwark to stop the blade of mana. Hoop Binds emerged from the circle as well, attempting to ensnare the device and its wielder, locking them into place.
The spell we worked on together, he thought silently. It was probably a year ago that she had come to him and asked for his help on the zero-distance bind spell, setting up the algorithms and streamlining it for use. That was when she had given him the ribbon that he wore in his hair, actually.
Finishing her bar and tossing the wrapper in the trash, Arf wrapped one of her arms around his and pulled the librarian close. “Let’s go to Lunch. There’s a place not too far from here and they’ll be at this for a while.”
“Sure,” he said with a sigh, sparing the two aerial mages a final glance. “I’ve got the time.”
“So, you came to ask Nanoha-chan if you should take on a Chief Librarian position for your wing of the Infinite Library?” Arf summarized what he told her over Lunch.
“I’m just trying to figure out why I’m not as satisfied about it as I should be,” he said. “She’s one of the people who know me best, so I figured she’d give me some insight into it.”
“Well, if you don’t mind I can take a shot at it,” the familiar offered casually. “I can’t claim to know you as well as her, but I think we can relate to one another enough that I can guess.”
Yuuno found himself curious to her incite as well. Thus he nodded and gave her the go ahead. “Go for it.”
Arf took a measured breath and then began. “You feel like this is something major, which it is considering you’d be the youngest in history to hold that position. But there’s a void, a black hole where you would normally feel as though you can take pride in it. You know something’s missing, something critical, and without it …this achievement has no meaning to you. It’s hollow.”
“That’s… about right,” he admitted. It was actually a bit freighting of how accurate her summary of what he felt was. “I should be happy, but there’s no emotional investment in it for me personally for some reason. When I think back to before we met, the time when I was simply an archeologist stumbling upon a discovery, it feels shallow compared to then when it shouldn’t.”
“Why did you originally take the job, Yunno-kun?” she asked softly. Her eyes never left his as she continued. “Why did you give up archeology for being a Librarian, despite it being your clan’s trade and something you loved?”
His mouth opened to respond. Nothing came out. Why did he give up archeology? What changed? The answer came abruptly and left his mouth in a whisper. “Nanoha.”
It all came back to her. He introduced her to the world of magic and the TSAB, taking responsibility for it by teaching her initially. Time invested, a relationship formed, and he became attached to her as he watched her grow as a mage, taking responsibilities that were far above her head and not her own.
That attachment became powerful in such a short time. While he did love learning about history and exploring ruins as an archeologist, he gave it up so easily because he could be of more help to her nestled in the library. And after the Book of Darkness had been dealt with he stayed on as a Librarian.
Yes, it was of his own free will that he remained. It was a bastion of knowledge after all and there were still untapped treasures within it that had yet to be found. But, if he had to admit to himself, part of him always thought—always hoped—that if she needed him he would drop everything and be by her side in the role he once held since that night she found him injured.
That was why he kept up practicing with his spells every few nights. He didn’t even like combat to being with, but he would always have her back. To keep himself from growing rusty just in case he was called upon even though she now had the likes of Hayate and her Knights, Fate, and even the TSAB.
That was why he occasionally played around with modifying his spells. Despite that it had been a full year since they even worked alongside one another when he held her develop the zero-distance bin, he still figured he could teach her something new. But between what Fate and the TSAB could instruct her through, the sad truth was that he simply didn’t have anything left to teach her…. which was the one other major connecting point they had.
Nanoha doesn’t need me anymore, he realized at last. That was why he didn’t feel any major sense of accomplishment, because the reason he took the position no longer needed him. Because after everything he’d done to this point, nothing gave him more satisfaction than those times he spent guiding her and defend her.
The realization was so heavy it made his shoulders fall from the imaginary weight. The corner of his lips dropped down. He managed to stop them just enough to make his smile sad as he looked at the familiar. “How’d you guess so easily?”
Yuuno caught the sudden shift in her tone from placid to downcast as she whispered in an unusually low voice. “It’s not a pleasant place to be….”
Then he recognized the look in her eyes. They weren’t eyes of sympathy, acknowledging his plight. Nor were they eyes of pity at his realization, how he had shored himself up to be willing to drop everything to come to the aid of someone who would most likely never need it again. They were empathetic. “You too?”
Looking down into the mug, Arf stared bitterly at her own reflection. “I was uplifted in order to shore up Fate’s weaknesses when she was younger and her body was still developing. I was a necessity for her. But she’s gotten to the point where she doesn’t need me anymore and her combat style has been refined to the point where I can’t keep up or contribute in a way she can’t do in spades.”
She shook her head and looked up, revealing the melancholy hidden behind her gaze. “I can fight, but I’m not needed. What purpose does a familiar serve once they can no longer do the very thing they were created for?”
“Arf-san,” he whispered breathlessly, taken at seeing her look so… lost. Usually only older mages created familiars once they were to the point that they need assistance in battle from age or injury. They could let the familiars take their place as they shifted into a different role and could dedicate more mana to them.
But Fate and Arf had been different from the start, being uplifted before Fate had even reached her prime, in order to save her when she was a Mid-Childan wolf. As a result, instead of taking over the mage’s role, she was now being stripped out of her role as a guardian and fighter. The consequence of that was now she was adrift and searching for something else to fill the void that was her mission in life.
“So your change in outfit?” he guessed.
She nodded. “Just a failed effort to find something new, or different. I can’t tell you how many Jacket templates I’ve gone through trying to make a change that matters but, while Fate was kind enough to let me live how I wanted to, I can’t think of any other way to live that would let me be of help to her. It really—”
“Hurts,” he finished for her. A single word meant to encapsulate the sensation of losing the purpose they moved under. It wasn’t nearly enough to properly vocalize the feeling, but it was the only word that came to mind.
“Yeah….” She sighed. “I figured you’d understand since, for all intents and purposes you might as well have been Nanoha’s familiar. Chrono still calls you Ferret Boy, you know?”
“Still?” Yunno only sounded exasperated at that. It was feigned to an extent. But it did allow his mind to drift away from the painful thoughts.
He imagined it was the same for her as she put on a soft smile. “You change into a small and cuddly animal, you’re a synthetic A-ranked mage, and you specialize in using barriers, binds, and teleportation spells without a device. Lindy suggested that you were another example of legacy gene-modification made for body-guarding.”
The mood shifted to something more lighthearted with that, a change of topics to alleviate the weight of the prior discussion. It was more than welcomed. “Probably one of the early Dawn States, but it’s never been a priority for me to be certain.”
“You could always join up with the Air Force if you still want to support Nanoha on the field,” Arf pointed out. “Lindy could put in a recommendation and anyone with the clearance to review the incidents you were involved would do the same.”
He actually thought about it. It would get him closer to her, back on the field… then he shook his head. “She still wouldn’t need me. I’d end up getting into more fights and I wouldn’t make any sort of difference in the grand scheme of things. I actually like working where I do, despite everything.”
Arf sighed softly as she leaned her head back to stare at the ceiling. “At least you have that option. I only joined the TSAB because Fate needed me watching her back, but if I quit I’ll only end up lounging around Lindy’s house.”
“Well, you could always come to work at the Infinite Library and see where that goes?” he offered, throwing her a lifeline as best he could. “It’d be nice to have a friend around, truthfully.”
Snapping her head up, she made a show of thinking it over. “I might take you up on that. We’ll see. But what do you plan to do next?”
“I… think I’ll visit my clan,” Yuuno said with some hesitance. When was the last time he’d done so? “They send a message to all members when moving between worlds and the last one I got stated they were staying at a compound here like they always do between digs. I haven’t seen any of them in person for some time anyway.”
He finished his drink and then stood from his seat. “It was nice talking to you after so long, Arf-san. We should do it again sometime.”
She couldn’t agree more. “I’ll let you treat me next time then.”
Yuuno approached a moderate-sized building that was being rented out to the Scrya Clan for the duration of their on-world stay. They were a nomadic clan that traversed the different worlds in search of ruins of ages past, all in hopes of unraveling the mysteries of the times lost or on contract, and commuted to worlds near the site to do an archeology expedition. Between the different expeditions and occasional contract by the TSAB, they rested on Mid-Childa and restocked for the next venture.
It’s been too long, he thought to himself as he kept his distance. There were a number of his clan members around, all of them wearing Jackets that had their clan’s tribal symbol emblazed upon them. Even the custom outfits had markings somewhere prominent. In contrast he was still in his work clothes.
“Yuuno?” said another familiar voice while he contemplated switching to his Barrier Jacket. It was one that he hadn’t heard for some time. He turned to find Carrie Scrya standing there.
She was taller than him by a head, having undergone a growth spurt at some point. Her black hair was cut short in the front, the rest restrained in the form of a ponytail like his hair was. Her oversized shirt with her clan emblem on the front fell over her thighs, eclipsing her shorts, and around her neck was a diamond-shaped amethyst that matched the hue of her eyes.
“Hi Carrie,” he said. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
“That’s putting it lightly,” she shot back with more than a note of displeasure in her voice. “We weren’t even sure you were going to come back. After all, you never come to see us when we’re here after you got a job with the TSAB. Figured you lost your nerve after that mess with the Jewel Seeds you dug up and abandoned us.”
Yuuno frowned a bit. It was a surprisingly sharp barb. “Is that what everyone thinks?”
She puffed out her cheeks. A habit of hers when they were younger that she apparently hadn’t outgrown. It’d be cute if not for the fact that she was looking down at him. “Well it’s what I think. You spend all your time away from us with your head buried in books. You even need glasses now from the look of it.”
“Carrie, it’s not like that,” Yuuno told her. “I’ve just been busy and—”
She stepped behind him and then started to push him towards the compound, cutting him off through actions rather than words. He wasn’t going to beat her in terms of strength so he didn’t bother trying to hold out against her. Thus he was forced through the doors and into the midst of the rest of his clan members, most of whom were his seniors.
When he was a child there weren’t many others close to his age. Carrie was one of the few. But now he could see there were many more members who were his juniors, and just as many his seniors. It seemed that at some point there had been a lot of births in the clan.
Most of the younger children were entertaining themselves in some manner, or resting. More than a few of the adults had brought up photos and charts, analyzing and combing over the latest discoveries and documenting the notes. At least until Carrie announced his presence.
“Look who we have here!” she shouted, grabbing their attention. Suddenly he had a number of eyes on him. It was weird, making him feel even more out of place by the lack of a clan emblem on his clothing.
“Hi everyone,” he said a bit nervously. “It’s been a long time.”
To his surprise, more so given Carrie’s disposition, he was welcomed back with open arms as a member of the clan who had been away. None more so than one of the elderly women who approached him and took him into her arms. “It’s good to see you again, Yuuno-kun.”
“Same to you, Elder-sama,” he said, returning the gesture. She felt fragile in his arms compared to a few years ago. “I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long.”
She broke the hug and chuckled, her wrinkles shifting in the process as she formed a smile on her face. “That’s all right. Everyone has their own path in life and no one here would begrudge you for finding a different one than ours.”
“I would!” Carrie interjected.
“Shush child,” the Elder reprimanded her, before motioning with her hands for Carrie to leave. “Go and make some tea for us.”
“Yes, Elder-sama….” Carrie glared at him before leaving in a huff.
Yuuno found himself at a loss with her as a result. He remembered her when they were younger, a simpler time before they were allowed on the actual explorations of the sites that they landed near. Carrie had been the one to try and teach him shooting spells and, when that failed drastically, she had been the one to help him with his combat training by testing against his shields while the adults were busy.
And now she seemed hostile towards him… not that he couldn’t take a guess at why she was. She was proud of her clan. By setting off and being distant, he had probably offended her with his self-exile. His shoulders dropped at the thought.
‘Don’t mind her,‘ the Elder said through telepathy. ‘She’s probably the most excited to see you again despite being so hostile. Never was good at properly showing how she cared to others and always so proud of her clan.‘
The Elder’s mature fingers grasped Yuuno’s hands. They also felt so much smaller than he remembered, frailer too. She turned to lead him to a table. “Sit, talk, you have the time for that, yes? How have you been?”
“I’ve been offered the position of being a Chief Librarian at the Infinite Library once the current one retires,” he said as they took a seat next to one another. “I’ll be the youngest one in history to get the position.”
She laughed at that, a laugh of joyous pride at him that made her body tremble in conjunction. “You were always destined for great things it seemed. I’m sure your parents would be proud as I am.”
He only nodded his head at that. His parents had died when he was less than a year old while working along with the Scyra Clan on a site. They were caught by a security system that had triggered when someone ran an aggressive scan and were among the casualties of it. The Scyra Clan took him in after that. He wished he felt more about their loss, but he never really knew them so it was only a lingering sense of what could have been rather than the agony of loss.
The Elder’s gray eyes peered into his emerald ones inquisitively as Carrie returned and set down the tea. “But you didn’t come here for permission or my blessing alone, did you? You seem to be hesitant about it, in fact. Why?”
“I’m not sure if it’s what I want in the end,” he admitted. “Don’t misunderstand, I love working there, like I loved being an archeologist with all of you. But for some reason I’m feeling like something is missing from both of them.”
“Hmm…yes, I can see that…” The Elder drank from her tea and sighed. “You were always so precocious when it came to magic and work. I should have guessed you would reach this point sooner than others.”
“A friend suggested that it was because the original reason I joined, for another friend’s sake, was no longer valid.” His lips fell into a soft frown. “I can’t help but think that she’s right. I mean I like what I do now, but I gave up archeology to do it and if I take the position I’ll be anchored there and….”
“Well, Yuuno-kun, the simplest solution will suffice here,” she said. “Carrie and Theisal were assigned to a scouting mission, but I would feel great relief if you joined them. Your data acquisition and analysis abilities could come in handy, and you would be able to determine whether or not there’s more satisfaction in what you do now or what you’ve given up on.”
The Scrya Clan sent out scouts to find different sites when they weren’t being contracted, following up on leads. The work involved making sure the conditions of the site were stable enough for the clan to operate there, involving some preliminary work. The length of time varied, but more often than naught it depended on the scouts.
Carrie cringed, a sight that was caught by the Elder immediately. A telepathic line was opened up between them. ‘You have objections, child?‘
‘I’m not sure we can trust him to have our backs,‘ Carrie stated bluntly. ‘If it were the old him then I would, but after whatever happened with the Jewel Seeds he got all quiet and distant, like he was somewhere else while he was with us on that last site. And then he left again without warning and stopped coming back to work at the Infinite Library.‘
‘Most of those things are classified,‘ the Elder stated. ‘Not even I have the full details, only that they involve Lost Logia, and from the report of the Flotilla Admiral it would seem he risked his life to accomplish them.‘
“I do have two weeks off,” Yuuno said, ignorant of the other side of the conversation. “What’s the site like?”
“A planet on the fringes of what was once Provve space,” the Elder stated. “It is a Type-1c that appeared to have been undergoing terraformation to a Type-4, but somewhere along the way the process ended early and created an isolated area within the harsh world.”
“Hmm, that is strange.” Yunno grasped his chin and furrowed his brow. “Perhaps during the Warring States Era they needed to expand their space so they sought to use a dimension that was useless for the most part out of desperation? It is possible that they were fleeing as well and that they had been accosted by their pursuers who put an end to the project.”
“There’s only one way to find out,” the Elder stated. “Uncovering the mysteries of the past is our role as Archeologists.”
“It might be a good thing to help me figure out everything. I’d be happy to go along….” He trailed off as he thought about Arf and her words earlier. “Actually, can I request that someone else join us as well?”
The Elder raised her brow in interest. “Oh? Who did you have in mind?”
“A familiar of a friend who I think might be interested,” he said. “She’s in a similar situation as I am and, in my last few experiences, it wouldn’t hurt to have another A-ranked mage capable of healing, defense, and teleportation in case something goes wrong or we run across the usual trouble with site raiders.”
‘Elder, we aren’t a charity case!‘ Carrie sent through the link. ‘We can’t have someone inexperienced going about on an unverified site.‘
‘Shush,‘ the Elder responded, before clearing her throat and speaking to Yuuno. “If the familiar is willing then they may join you. But the responsibilities will be yours to ensure that they follow the same procedures and precautions that all Scrya do. It will be the same as when your parents were with us. ”
“I’ll contact her and then get ready,” Yuuno stated. “Thank you, Elder-sama.”