2019-04-20 - Meet The Yagamis 3

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Meet The Yagamis 3

Continued from Meet The Yagamis 2, our young heroes give Reinforce the escape from tragedy that she wishes for.


Reinforce, Lera Camry, Ren Aizawa, Setsuna Higashi, Signum Yagami, Fate Testarossa, Vita Yagami, Shamal Yagami, Zafira Yagami, Nanoha Takamachi

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


The Yagami House

OOC - IC Date:

4/20/2019 - 05-23/24-2015

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.


The Wolkenritter activate the Book of Darkness by draining the World Tree-powered portal that would have ended the world by freeing Dark King -- unleashing the Book, driven mad by NachtWal, to end the world instead.

But she didn't, of course. She was stopped by everyone -- a tally unexpectedly including Hayate Yagami herself, who was able to bring the Book under control, purify the influence of NachtWal, and separate it so that it could be blown out of existence by the combined force of everyone's hearts.

Since then, the Yagami family has been living quietly. Home-cooked meals and video games and board games and lawn games. Hobbies and, yes, hospital visits; Hayate is on the mend but still weak, still unable to walk. Recovery will be a long road, but not a lonely one.

Tonight they've passed many a fine hour with their friends, playing and eating. Hayate has gone to bed early, as she needs to, sometimes, when her energy does not match her enthusiasm. And the Blessed Wind, Reinforce -- the Book of the Night Sky, in human form -- has bad news -- that the return of NachtWal is inevitable, as long as she lives -- and an unexpected request.


Reinforce looks at the Knights, as they grieve not her passing so much as the pain it will cause their Mistress, and her smile gentles further.

She looks at the heroines, determined to save her.

And, finally, her eyes close.

She shakes her head. Her hair makes a soft swishing sound on the back of her chair.

"No," she begins, "There is no other way, and it could happen at any time. It is not cruelty, though. I have lived a long, long life. Bringing my story to a close on my own terms... to protect all that I love... that is kindness. It is mercy. I ask it of you all because it will take great power to affect safely."

Her hands reach out... one grasps Signum's shoulder, the other Vita's. She squeezes. It is a gesture very like Hayate's. It would have been unthinkable even six months ago.

"And because I would not ask our Mistress to bear witness. I make this choice to protect her, but to have her do it herself -- that would be cruel. That is the other reason I implore it of all of you."

She's still smiling.

"The ritual requires the presence of dawn. Let us do it tomorrow morning... before she wakes up. Believe me, friends, family... I do not think of this as an unhappy ending. I would like to spend my last hours celebrating life, not mourning it. And, already, just by being here all together, you have begun to grant that wish, beautifully."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"No... no other way..."

Lera swallows and looks down. The Midchildan's eyes are heavy, and her right arm is crossed over her chest, grabbing her left bicep. She bites onto her lip. After everything recently, and knowing about what happened with Sayaka, it hurts. Except that, in so many ways, it is completely different than the situation with Sayaka.

That doesn't make it easier. She looks down. "We don't... we don't have to ask Hayate to do that," she concludes quietly. "I'll... um."

She looks back up, taking a deep breath that only gets half-way to letting that sadness out of her. She looks at Reinforce, forcing a smile to her face, and then she nods. "I'll be there. Of course I will, y'know?"

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

When Lera called Ren up and asked her to come to this meeting, she was pretty unsure of what to expect. Like Fate, the Wolkenritter had been their enemy. And, just like Fate, they became their ally. Still, she hadn't quite found time to adjust to the change, what with everything else seemingly going wrong in the magical community.

But, here she is, hands clasped tightly, eyes filled with sadness at what has been revealed about Reinforce. It seems wrong. So very, utterly wrong. When Lera repeats what's been said about there being no other way, she closes her eyes briefly, as if wanting to shut out this reality.

She, however, cannot.

"But..." She starts, reopening her eyes and looking around to see if anyone, anyone at all, will disagree. Her mouth closes though, and she turns to look at Reinforce.

A wordless nod is given to her in response.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.


Setsuna does not repeat Reinforce's words. She doesn't need to; they're engraved, in this moment, on her mind, and her thoughts and feelings swirl slowly enough that she can identify them as she goes. She doesn't answer immediately, because the purple-haired girl finds herself turning it over, looking for anything that could give her a reason to think otherwise...

But there isn't one. Her eyes are expressive in a way that her face is otherwise not, as she looks up again, eyes on Reinforce. "...It's your choice," she says finally. "I can't think of any other way, either. But if you feel you can do this without regret, then I will help you." But there is one more thing....

"I don't want to ask Hayate-chan to be involved, but..." She hesitates. "I don't feel good keeping it from her. Are you sure it's best?"

<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

Reinforce puts a hand on her shoulder and Signum's eyes close again. Her face contorts and tightens with an interior storm. She shakes, just a little, as if about to burst into a sob.

But discipline wins through. She swallows once, heavily. She reaches up to put a hand atop of Reinforce's and squeeze it with a tightness and sincerity that she had always held back on Hayate's hand - not from a lack of feeling - but because her hand was so slim, so frail, so delicate.

"... As you say," she says.

She lets go of Reinforce's hand and centers herself again. It takes visible effort. Her eyes stay half-lidded, even as Setsuna speaks.

Signum replies to her: "I do not have confidence in my judgment regarding disclosure to our master. I..."

Her face tightens again.

"... I have little experience to draw upon... on matters such as this."

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Reinforce insists that it is not cruelty. That there is no other way. Her stomach twists in that moment, eyes still tearing up. Death has always been horrible for Fate Testarossa. Alcyone - Mami - Her Mother.

It's not something she wants to believe, because it feels like it steals something from the preciousness that is life. Those small moments of joy and light that transcend time and memory.

What if it was though? What if her Mother was too far gone?

What if it was the kindest mercy that could be offered - her dying - so she could be with Alicia?

Looking at Reinforce's smile right now.

Perhaps... just perhaps. She can believe that.

Kindness exacts such a heavy toll sometimes.

Her eyes slide over to Lera. Then she nods a little in agreement on sparing Hayate, before looking sidelong at Ren - then Setsuna - and Signum.

The experience causes her to feel more like a child than ever. Yet eventually she slowly speaks on her reply, "I need to talk it over with... someone first."


The moment Fate stepped outside of the Yagami household, she took out her black fliphone and dialed Nanoha's number. It rang only twice before Nanoha picked up cheerfully on the other end of the line, "Moshi~Moshi~Feito! How was your night with Hayate-chan?"

Fate took a deep breath and started to speak quietly, "It was... hey Nanoha. Are you going to be home anytime soon?"

Nanoha's tone shifts instantly to something that sounds worried, "We're on our way back from the hospital now... why?" Fate licked her bottom lip, "Can I come over tonight? I... need to deliver... a request. One that... it shouldn't be done over the phone."


The window outside Nanoha's room can see it all, from the moment Nanoha brings Fate into her room to sit the other girl down on her bed, sitting down with her. The entire emotional journey. From shock to denial as the other girl quickly gets up and shouts into anger that swiftly fades as the other girl discusses it with wet eyes.

Bargaining as Nanoha sits down and testing alternatives to be met with Fate's distant looking eyes and gentle shakes of her head.

To acceptance, as the two lace fingers together and lean on each other to have a good cry that lasts until the hour is far too late for them to be up. Ever responsible, both of them set their alarms for an hour before dawn before falling asleep out of exhaustion.

The last thing Fate catches herself doing before slumber takes her is looking through the window at the night sky and the few stars that are out...

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita wants to rage. She wants to scream. They fought SO HARD. They all hurt so much in every way! And now, at the end...

One final curse.

But Reinforce's hand on her shoulder stills her trembling, and she sucks in a long, uneven breath. Unthinkable...yes. This would have been, then, that Vita would still herself this way; but the thing she is asked to condone is unthinkable right now.

Her hands fuss in her lap, lacking something to lash out at. Hayate....Hayate wouldn't like that. Wouldn't want her to smash and scream. "We already hid so much from her," she mutters to Signum. Like Signum, her hand does rise, resting on Reinforce's. Like Signum, she grips, tighter and fiercer than she's ever dared to hold Hayate. "But I....I can't stand to tell her. OK." As Reinforce requests.

Unlike Signum, she can't make herself release. "OK," she whimpers.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Zafira gets up from under the table. His paws make crisp clicks against the floor as he pads deliberately towards Vita... and puts his cold wet doggy nose on her knee. Leans in, a firm, deliberate pressure. Support.

Shamal gets up too, from her seat, and flanks Signum from behind, rests her clever hands -- a maker's hands, a healer's hands, not much of a cook's hands -- on her leader's shoulders. An unthinkable gesture once, but now...

Well, Hayate -- and her friends, here -- are the ones who taught her how to be human, and she is human, indeed.

"I think maybe," she says in a slightly quavery voice, looking around the table after Vita's done speaking, "We should respect Reinforce's wishes in this... not for Hayate-chan, but for Reinforce herself."

Reinforce looks down, staring at the floor through her lovely long silver lashes, and everyone gets to enjoy the rare pleasure -- one of the only times, ever -- of embarrassment writ lightly across the scroll of her face. The faintest flush falls down her nose, at Shamal's kindness, at Vita's.

"We are one mind, one heart, me and the Mistress. I know... how she'll react. It won't help anyone."

She clenches her hands, then unclenches them.

"Please... this does not have to be a sad thing. I do not want it to be. Everyone and everything must come to an end someday. I am fortunate to be able to choose mine... for the highest possible cause."

Everyone's safety.

Getting up, she grabs some dishes at random and takes them to the sink. The Book of Darkness -- the Tome of the Night Sky -- is shortly elbow-deep in suds, and looking for volunteers to help her dry.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"...yeah." Lera looks down, then she nods. She can understand respecting Reinforce's wishes. She takes a second to try to keep her expression from crumpling into a sob, and it's half-successful. Her eyes are still wet when she finally looks back up.

"I..." She trails off for a second, and then glances to the side -- to Ren, to Setsuna -- and then she looks back at Reinforce. "...C'mon, let me help with those. We've left a lot of dirty dishes, y'know?"

She picks up a few more dirty dishes, then deposits them into the sink with a splash of water and suds.


It is a good while later when Lera leaves -- closing in on eleven o'clock -- and she is grateful that she lives alone, for once. (That gratitude won't survive the getting home.) She steps out of the house, turning back to look at the Yagami household.

She stays on the grass for a moment longer, before she wipes at her eyes with the sleeve of the jacket she'd left there. She takes a deep breath, then pushes a smile to her face.

<Come along, now,> Sky says. <It's going to be a long day tomorrow.>

"Yeah... I know, buddy."

Kyouko Sakura walks over from the Rainbow Bridge.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Hearing everyone else more or less agree, even if begrudgingly, makes it all the more final to Ren. They're going to help Reinforce with this. This task that shouldn't have to happen in a fair and just world.

But as she's learned as of late, this world is anything but fair and just.

She knows if she looks at Lera she'll start crying too. So she steels herself and avoids looking at her best friend. She can hear the other girl trying her best not to break down. Ren can at least try to do the same.

"I'll help too." She offers, shuffling on over to aid in dishwashing and drying. Still, she avoids looking directly at anyone who may join them.


Ren a bit before departing. Shamefully, she's waiting until Lera is gone, afraid to run into her on the lawn and for the two of them to just start breaking down together. Reinforce definitely didn't need to hear them sobbing at a time like this. Once she's sure she's waited long enough, she bids everyone goodbye and slips out, heading home in silence. If Heraut was thinking of saying something, he wisely avoids doing so right now.

There's no school tomorrow, at least. That's nice.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Neither do I," Setsuna admits to Signum, with unadorned honesty. "It's almost entirely outside my experience. ...But, being someone who once thought only of a mission, and now has to make choices, decide what's best for herself, and for others..." She looks down, and nods once, in sureness. "That, I understand. And I support all of you, doing that for yourselves."

"If that's all of your decision," the red-eyed Setsuna reiterates, "Then I respect it. I know none of you would do any less than your best, for her." She smiles, then--it's not... a quick smile, a happy smile, but a sure smile instead as she looks to Reinforce them. "I think that being able to choose is something to celebrate, too."

She turns to Lera--squeezes the other girl's hand--and then nods again.

...It's not that Setsuna doesn't feel the sadness, here, that she doesn't feel that same weight--after all they've gone through, even this? But... She means what she says, too.


By now, Setsuna's an old hand at not just doing dishes, but doing them with others, and she is deft and efficient at drying! More to the point, she helps with a little spring in her step. It's how Love would act here, isn't it?

-=-=-"Lera showed me," Setsuna says brightly as she starts to navigate menus for one of the other games, "That if you make sure to show a clear sense of drama in this sort of fighting game, then you can lose spectacularly!" She beams--and then can't quite suppress a little laugh, as she looks to Lera. "...But maybe a little's okay. I think I'll try this princess, and..."


She is never entirely sure what to say, but eventually Setsuna finds herself sitting next to Reinforce, turning towards her with a small smile. She doesn't remember very well the joke she was trying to tell. ...This might be for the best, though, because she definitely told it out of order. That's just one of the things she tried to do going on, though, watching Lera now and then, Ren now and then.


Setsuna doesn't leave before any of the others. When she does, she isn't sure what she can say, what she should say, and so it becomes, "Good night." before she actually steps out again. She has the dish she'd brought; the cookies seem to have worked out, hadn't they? ...So the walk back is easy enough. Even so...


"Nnnnuh?" is Love's answer to Setsuna's arrival upstairs, and the girl from Labyrinth looks at her good friend, and pauses, there in the hall, from where Love had taken the time to actually come out and say hi--

Setsuna doesn't say anything when she hugs her, and stands there for a long few moments still not saying anything, or moving. She doesn't know how to put it all into words.

But, with her, she never had to, did she?

...When Ayumi, later that night, sees Setsuna in Love's room, asleep still half-sitting up, she drapes a blanket over her, instead of making her go back to her own room. ...This time, at least.

<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

Signum says quietly, to Setsuna, primarily: "I am glad that you... understand. It is not... simple..." Her hand, when it releases Reinforce's, comes up - resting over one of Shamal's. She leans back against the chair, or those gentle hands, or both. Just a little. But it is new. It would be pleasant, were it not for the context...

She looks to Vita then. She takes a deep breath...

And says, "Then it is decided."

With this, Signum rises to her feet and she gathers more dishes, and she steps to follow Reinforce. With brisk efficiency she selects a dry cloth, and she begins to dry things, and she begins to pack them in their proper places, and she feels, in her heart, a staggering pressure.

If I knew, Signum thinks, that I would no longer return, but that it was not a matter of battle... could I face the truth so peacefully? I have never confronted it. Perhaps one day I will.

Reinforce faces oblivion, Signum thinks as she dries a plate. I can but be there for her.

"You have, of course, the first choice of our actions," Signum tells Reinforce.


"I shall not spare you, Reinforce. On this night of all nights, I shall hold nothing back. There will be no limitations on my skills. There will be no mercy... should you falter for the slightest instant. Prepare yourself."

Signum chooses Donkey Kong.


Signum passes game controllers over to see others out, when they depart.

Everyone who has come receives a bow so deep as to threaten to become a kneel. When Signum straightens, she says with that same near-tears quaver in the corner of her voice, "Thank you for coming," and that is the end of that.


At about 0230 hours, Signum whisks green tea.

"... I wish that I had the proper morsel to present to you," she says as she pours the hot water. She is kneeling across from Reinforce in a small sitting room. The others have moved on, to wash up, or to prepare, or simply to be alone with their thoughts for a few moments. "Please accept this in the spirit of things."

The cup is extended to Reinforce.

"I... have many things that I wish I could say. But I could not say them all. I am glad, at the last, to know you."

Signum's eyes stay lowered.


Her lips thin again, but then they relax. Is it getting easier? Not exactly - but the dread is fading. Maybe acceptance is blooming, or perhaps it is just numbness.

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita can't quite voice anything but a nod, to Shamal's quiet, earnest advice. Yes, of course. It's Reinforce's choice and request, just...She'd hoped they could finally stop hurting each other.

Her hand finds Zafira's snout on her leg and travels up lines of his canid face to behind his ears, rustling and ruffling with her fingertips. Thank you, she can't find the voice for at the moment.

But Reinforce knows them as well as Hayate. The quiet act of picking up the dishes is almost magical for Vita, and she hops directly to her feet, grabs her own dishes and jogs over to help. Soon, she has a rag and dishes wail beneath her relentless reign of terror.


"That's right!" Vita crows, as a red shell zooms in on an unprotected, vulnerable tail pipe. "There's no mercy in the arena! Only--"

Someone else's hits her first. Vita releases a squawk most similar to a parrot.


As people slowly leave, Vita remains on her couch. Single player mode turns into messing around with Miiverse, turns into scrolling aimlessly through the icons onscreen, turns into...


Vita does not return to the room she shares with Hayate. She doesn't dare. She has that much self mastery, at least, to know that she would scream with tears the second she saw her master's sleeping face. So she putters around, in the way of children too excited to sleep, doing a thousand nothings.

At 0230 she is bundled up on the couch, asleep but not for want of trying, resting against a plush bunny the size of Zafira, a more normal-scale one clutched in her arms, curled up and calmed only by the actual Zafira's weight on her legs. Her eyes are red behind her doll.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Despite the fact that Nanoha and Fate are both morning people, they both wake up tired today. Nanoha started brewing them both coffee as Fate ran home to change.

The two link up a short way from Fate's apartment and Nanoha hands Fate a plastic cup with a lid, and the two together as they walk to the location.

It would be expected for two kids their age to be chatterboxes - but sometimes nothing needs to be said, as the two sip their beverage in an asynchronous rhythm. The wind wisps through their hair as they walk. Fate is wearing a simple black dress with a tie just below the collarbone, while Nanoha is wearing a pink sweatshirt, blue skirt and stockings.

They both know they could fly there and be there in an instant. Sometimes you just want to take your time. They pace themselves through the glow of the street lights - eyes sometimes on the sky overhead.

They're done with their coffee before they reach the location, discarding it into a wastebin, the pair continues to walk again - and Fate finds herself sidling up to Nanoha to clasp her hand. The other girl gets this mildly startled look, before allowing herself to smile faintly, squeezing Fate's hand in reply.

The two walk hand in hand for a time, before stopping. The two turn to face each other, as they hold up each other's hands between themselves - and take a deep breath.

In it is a silent agreement sealed. To be strong for everyone right now - including each other.

Then - reluctantly they let go of each other's hands. "It's time." Fate says quietly, and Nanoha agrees, "Mmm-hmm."

They walk the rest of the way side by side, but not hand in hand. Not everyone needs to see that.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Washing and drying dishes together, Reinforce and Ren and Lera make an efficient machine. The former starts going faster and faster -- shooting amused, competitive looks at the girls -- both trying to get them to slip up, and just trying to distract them.

No dishes are broken, in the end. That's probably for the best, since someone is sleeping upstairs.

"See you in the morning," she says at the door. "At dawn."


"Thank you."


Reinforce tries to take Setsuna's advice, and does, indeed, lose spectacularly, over and over. For all that she and Hayate made a killer Kart team, she can't seem to hold her own in Smash. Pikachu gets knocked all over the arena, over and over and over.


Zafira spends a good hour in Reinforce's lap, despite outweighing her by a hundred pounds. She strokes him slowly, deliberately, not as one might sharpen a sword but as one might master the art of sharpening. Being gentle takes practice.

She tries hard.


Shamal bustles. She makes snacks and serves drinks and just stays in constant flitting motion until she's asleep with her head on Reinforce's shoulder.

So she can't quite look Signum in the eye -- dares not turn her head -- when they speak. She does manage to take the tea, though, and lets it steam into her face.

"All these years together, General, and we never spoke like this. I never knew time could be so precious."


"...take care of them for me, Signum. Take care of them all."


She spends the last hour in Hayate's room.

Just watching her sleep.

Mother, sister, daughter; she has little concept of any of these things and feels them all. Master. Administrator. No less true, and no less tender. There never was one like this, not until now, not ever.

Love carves harsh planes into Reinforce's face, and she silently watches Hayate until the hint of sunlight through the window turns them all into shadows.



Reinforce meets them all on the front porch and takes them around the side of the house to the back.

It's full spring, the HEIGHT of spring even, in May, and it's too late for cherry blossoms and much too late for plum blossoms.

But it isn't too late for World Tree blossoms. That was just a little while ago, after all. And today they are falling like snow, in endless quantities, each one tiny and soft and perfect. They're neither white nor pink but something subtler, in between. Almost a really, really pale peach.

Standing there, in the floral snow, Reinforce takes a long look at the sky, then looks at the group. She gestures around her in a circle.

And an actual circle springs up around her, following the motion, in the politely-not-blinding-right-now white of her magic, and Hayate's. It is intricate in the Belkan way, but shaped Midchildan (or it would be a triangle). Around its edge are smaller circles, each with a rune clearly corresponding to each girl's Device in some way, large enough for them to stand in.

"Thank you all for coming," she repeats, gravely. "And you, too, Raising Heart, Bardiche, Souverain Heraut, Soaring Sky, Broken Ground. Knights, and your weapons. Please bring them all out... we'll need to work together to give me a good sendoff."

She doesn't give further instructions. There's a steadiness in her eyes, however, that implies that she won't have to; not because they already know what to do -- but because their Devices do, even if only instinctively, in the manner of their kind.

She is as much one of them as she is human, maybe moreso.

And she knows -- as they do -- that to send her off simply means to stabilize her own undoing. So that it's a peaceful unraveling of magic, instead of a self-destruct. Their simple presence in the circle is all but enough.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera is tired, when she returns. She wishes she could say she slept well, but she did not. She has come with both Devices; Soaring Sky as a pendant about her neck, Broken Ground as a bracelet on her wrist. She walks up to the porch, and to the floral blossoms, and she stares at the circle in the ground. She swallows, once.

"All right," she says. She holds both hands out. In one, with a flash, a sword appears; two-toned, silver and gold, and she lays the weapon down on the ground before her. In the other, a clockwork hammer of gold and bronze. She places it next to Sky.

Broken Ground chimes in first. <...You're sure about this. I'll help.>

Taciturn as ever, Lera thinks.

<Look after us. Wherever you go next.> Soaring Sky's voice has a little tremble to it. Lera swallows, and finds it hard to keep her expression stable.

<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDtj-2qnTXk

'I never knew time could be so precious.'

Signum breathes deep; breathes out; breathes deep again. She breathes out, and it is during that second exhalation that she speaks, her voice a little thick. "Understood." The charge is accepted.


When Reinforce watches Hayate, Signum spends a few moments in the yard, alone. Tokyo is peaceful around them, despite the pastel skies. She can feel the vibrancy of a city - a huge city, one that nonetheless has managed to grow with reasonable strength and discipline. Perhaps not the hugest she has seen, but now her favorite.

And yet, she thinks. And yet in this nation of one hundred and twenty million souls, in this world of seven billion, and this too perhaps a tithing of what she has known and she has seen, there is no easy answer. Every song, some day, reaches an end.

The tears run down her cheeks quietly.

Within herself Signum grasps the root of "perhaps." The senseless feeling that if she had planned more, if she had done aught differently that this road would not be leading here now. Perhaps someone who they had assailed could have helped them? Perhaps they could have sought some far-off seer or technologist. Perhaps.

Yet that is not here. That is not now.

Tears run down her cheeks where they cannot be seen. Some time afterwards she enters the house again and visits the washroom.


Signum looks the same as always when the others gather.

But she is in her full and resplendent Barrier Jacket. The mana does not boil off - there is no war readiness here - but there is that faint aura. She wears this regalia, not in threat, but --

-- because there is nothing more appropriate that she could wear.

Reinforce speaks. Signum nods, once. She reaches for the miniature form at her neck and draws it forth. Laevateinn shimmers into visibility, forming its full strength and magnitude in two blinks of the eye. Signum moves to the space prepared for her.

<<REINFORCE,>> Laevateinn speaks.

Signum pauses. She turns - the blade is held, the sharp end down, with both hands.

<<WELL FOUGHT,>> the Armed Device states.

<<FARE WELL,>> Laevateinn concludes, and that is when Signum takes her position. She rests Laevateinn's tip gently on the space prepared for her.

Signum's lips tremble again, just the smallest bit. She grasps the Device's hilt. It brings her comfort, however obscure.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It's not the same, between Setsuna and the Yagami family. Their situations are by no means identical, their pasts showing clear divergences. There's enough common ground, though, that Setsuna thinks she can understand what she needs. Enough to help.


The morning sun casts its light on Setsuna's pale features, her purple hair faintly reddish in its glow. Her fatigue doesn't show; for better or worse, she conceals her emotions better than most from Earth and Midchilda both, and she is determined to offer what strength she can to Reinforce and the others here--and if that strength is to stay positive...

That's what she'll do.

Stepping amidst the blossoms, Setsuna finds Lera, standing beside her as she sets down the two Devices that she brought--and as Lera has trouble keeping her voice stable, Setsuna's hand threads into one of hers down at her sides.

I'll do my best," Setsuna promises. She has no Device; but that's not what she's here for. She's not here for that kind of magic, in any case. No...

"...I'm glad that we could meet," she says. ...She had all morning to think of what she could say, so that she wouldn't be paralyzed here in emotion.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

That night, when she got home, she went straight up to her room, got changed, and proceeded to crawl into bed. But she didn't sleep -- at least not right away. She lay there staring up at the ceiling. Part of her thought about calling Endo. He hadn't been present, and he also hadn't answered his phone when she called before leaving for the Yagami's house. What was he up to?

Rolling over, she shut her eyes and tried to force herself to go to sleep after getting tired of looking up at the ceiling. Again, sleep did not come right away. After a moment of silence, there was a familiar chime from her nightstand.

<It really is the best thing we can do.>


<Think of the alternative. You heard what Reinforce said.>



He went quiet, and so did she. A little while later, she actually fell asleep. A dreamless slumber.


The time to meet back with Reinforce and everyone else comes way too quickly in Ren's opinion. But maybe that's a blessing in disguise, she wagers. And then immediately stiffles any feelings of relief deep within herself, ashamed at thinking such things in the first place. Reinforce is waiting for them when they arrive, and takes them to the back of the house. Ren lets herself stare at the falling petals, noticing their aforementioned not quite white nor pink color. It takes Reinforce addressing them all to snap her out of her impromptu reverie.

Oh. Right.

Souverain Heraut chimes in response. <Don't mention it, Reinforce. We're here to help as asked.>

Ren only nods, chancing a glance at Lera, then Setsuna, then Fate and Nanoha, then finally the Wolkenritter. She then looks down at Heraut, the silver ornate ring on her finger with the pulsing bronze-colored jewel. Was this easy for Heraut given his past with Belkan devices? Was this just business to him?

Whatever the case, Ren holds the hand with the ring upon it out, and in a flash of light there's a glittering lance held within her grasp. Over to the circle she goes, stepping into it, feeling her chest starting to grow heavy. Tears are prickling at the edges of her vision, blurring it slightly. "Goodbye... Reinforce."

<May peace find you.> Heraut says as he is lowered down to touch the rune.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

"Reinforce." Nanoha greets her easily. Using the name that Hayate gave her. The two are quiet as they're led around the household to the back - they watch the petals float through the air. It's a pretty day for this Fate thinks. A perfect day.

If only that were true.

The girl has to close her eyes for a moment to force herself to keep the tears at bay, and Nanoha's arm brushes against hers in that moment.

Bardiche and Raising Heart both shimmer into their hands - him into an axe. And her into a staff.

<Ready to Set.>


Bardiche and Raising Heart both shimmer into their hands as they take their place at each point in the circles.

"I wish we had more time." It is a small wish perhaps from Fate. Though one that cannot be granted. Whereas Nanoha nods lightly at Setsuna's statement, as if she agrees - and simply adds, "We'll never forget you."

Once in the circle, the devices begin to light up - as if indeed having an intrinsic understanding of the ritual. The moment. In response to her earlier thanks, the two chime.

<Don't Worry.>

<Have a Good Journey.>

There's something soothing - reassuring about each of them. It feels like understanding. It feels like validation.

These two Devices offer no questions - only warmest wishes to what comes next.

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

The movement in the house, as people go to their final contemplations, is what stirs Vita. She rustles upright; rubs her eyes, looks around. And quietly, her arms sink deeper into her plush.

A few moments later, still clutching her bunny, she peeks into the room in which Reinforce watches over Hayate, piercing blue watching something she knows she mustn't intrude upon but can't entirely bear to part from. She doesn't know how long it is before Signum returning to the door sets her scampering for her own final preparations.

The Knights don't, really, know how to bury their own. But solemnity, this Vita knows how to achieve.


Vita's long crimson Knight Outfit floofs out around her ankles as she steps up, half a pace behind Signum. Arms are down at their sides, rather than shouldering Eisen; the charm of her Armed Device hangs around her neck, feet on the ground. She has taken some time to wash her face and recover composure. Reinforce requested a good ending. She will give her that.

She finds the icon of the hammer, and steps within. Graf Eisen BONGs against her chest, his loud, sonorous tone echoing in the open air. He speaks, in that occasionally boisterous Belkan. <<YOU GO TO YOUR FINAL DUTY IN PEACE. THIS IS AN HONOR WE ALL THOUGHT LOST TO US.>>

He flashes into his full-length polo hammer form, and Vita swings him down, slamming the spike uniting the hammerheads into the ground before her. <<WE MUST REMEMBER THIS DAY WITH SMILES, FRIENDS! WE WITNESS A MIRACLE HERE!>>

Vita sniffs. She's been workshopping this with Eisen for a bit. The hammer chimes one more time.


Farewell, my administrator.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Reinforce looks at all the beading eyes around her, and nods, accepting their feelings, and those of their companions. And her own. She gives the knights a last, lingering look, before addressing the group as a whole.

"I know it's hard. But you'll understand someday... when you meet someone for whom your love is as deep as the sea and whose happiness you wish to protect."

She thrusts out a palm, and the actual, physical Book appears above it. It doesn't flip open, but remains closed, and face down. The way a book might be placed on a table, when the last page has been turned and the cover has been shut.

"Let's get started... it's the end of the Tome of the Night Sky."

All around, sparkles begin to rise. Everyone's magic, drifting as gently upwards as the petals fall downwards.

It really is a peaceful ritual.



Hayate's agonized shriek precedes her hasty wheelchairing across the yard. She's in her pajamas, and with this kind of careless technique, she's unsafe at any speed.

Wheel, meet tree root.

Hayate goes flying forward and faceplants in a pile of petals.

Shamal and Zafira, who are standing quietly to either side of Vita, twitch towards her.

"Don't move!" barks Reinforce. Then, more calmly, she continues, "Stand still, please, everyone. We must continue."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera's eyes widen a little, at the words that Reinforce says. She swallows, and she looks down for a second. Her magic flows out from her, energy flowing -- golden yellow -- to her two Devices, though it then shifts to the darker red-orange and the green-yellow of her respective ones. It is a slow, peaceful thing.

Until she hears Hayate's call. Lera turns her head, her eyes wide with something between fear and regret. She was supposed to be asleep; she was supposed to not have to see this. She sees the wheelchair hit a root.

She feels her entire stomach clinch in fear.

"Hayate--hold on, please!" she calls out. "I-I know this is..." She doesn't, however, know what this is. Not well enough to finish it.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Setsuna, too, stands here in the circle now; where she doesn't have a Device, she is still not here by herself. Resting on the red-eyed girl's open palm is the fairy Akarun, a tiny red key, beribboned, sincere, the very incarnation of happiness even in a time like this.

She trills faintly, wordlessly.

She nods, quiet, at Reinforce's address, and thinks--a little bit... a little bit she can understand. Enough.

But that shriek surprises her, too--Setsuna too starts to turn, but when that order comes--

She follows orders. She stops, quiets, turns towards the circle. "..."

She didn't prepare words for this; she has none, as the magic shines from her, from the key, brilliant crimson sparkling still.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Ren's magic flows -- bronze in color, seemingly to trickle forth unwillingly at first, before turning into a steady pour. She could stop at anytime, really. Just stop, take Heraut, and leave here. But she knows she can't. To do so would be a betrayal to Reinforce, who trusted them to do this for her. So, she holds steady.

...And then, Hayate appears.

Ren's blood runs cold, eyes widening, lips parting as she watches the girl desperately wheel herself towards them. No no no no no! It's not supposed to be like this! And then her wheel snags a root and she goes sprawling forth onto the ground.

No please. No. Not like this.

Reinforce barks out for them not to abandon their positions, since doing so would more than likely disrupt the spell completely, making it all for nothing.

So, again, she steels herself and holds steady, looking away from Hayate.

Ren's magic flows.

<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

Signum's eyes fly open.

It is the worst thing that could have happened, short of a direct meteor strike or the abrupt revival of Queen Beryl.


She has turned when Reinforce speaks to her.

Signum feels her gut roil and her eyes well up anew. "We - Hayate, the Book... At, at any time... Please, forgive us," she manages to say, her voice hollow as her fingers tighten on the hilt of Laevateinn. Every fiber and iota in her body tells her to leap to Hayate's side.

And yet.

What if finishing things halfway...

'Perhaps' comes back to Signum, and she strangles in her throat, eyes squeezing shut as she says, "Please............"

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Hayate's sound of distress sends Vita's entire body throbbing. She almost immediately turns to help - but only almost. The sound of Reinforce barking for calm -- Vita knows that Reinforce loves the Master as well as them all, but seeing Master there in the dirt....!

She sucks in a long breath. Eisen thrums at her. Her grip on his handle tightens fiercely. "Master," she whimpers, and looks to Reinforce. Like a child, she had assumed that somehow doing this without Hayate knowing would mean she never had to see this. Please. Please have something you can say. Please...

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

It's hard to say whether Nanoha and Fate simply accept the wisdom of their elder - or believe perhaps they'll never understand this.

Fate wishes she could close her eyes for this part - but she keeps them open. So does Nanoha. It's peaceful - the way the petals flow through the world. And then.

"Hayate!" "Hayate-chan!" The two let out this little gasp as Hayate falls out of her wheelchair.

The three of them haven't known each other for long. And yet the two of them can understand how this must look. They can guess how this must feel. And both of them want nothing more than to give Hayate what she wishes for.

To stop the ritual.

In fact their eyes drift to the Wolkenritter - to the other mages for guidance. To see if someone else has moved first - acted.

Yet when Reinforce states 'Don't move' the two stay still, holding their devices. Perhaps it's because she speaks with authority. Or perhaps it's because they promised each other to be strong.

Either way - it's the hardest thing to do to force themselves to keep going rather than anything else.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Hayate will not be stopped by small things like 'gravity' and 'legs that do not respond to her will'. Her face lifts first, and her royal blue eyes are HUGE in that pale moon, huge and horrified.

"No, don't do that, Reinforce!"

Her elbows are next. She plants them on the ground.

"Stop now!"

Heaving, she drags herself forward an inch. Another. Another.

Pleading desperately, all the while.

"You don't need to! I'll control the Book! It'll be fine, so don't do this!"

Reinforce looks down at her Master and tries that gentle smile.

"Master Hayate... it's okay."

"NO IT'S NOT!" shrieks Hayate loudly enough for birds to take flight, startled, from a nearby tree. She coughs, and follows up, hoarse with hot tears in her throat, "It's not okay! Not at all!"

She weeps openly.

Reinforce continues to smile. If this is a struggle, she dare not show it. Instead she tries to sway her Master with that bluntest of all instruments... logic.

"I've lived for a long time, but at the very end of my life, you gave me a beautiful name, and a heart. Even though our time was brief, I was able to fly with you, and support you. And I can leave the knights with you. I have no regrets."

"I don't care about regrets," Hayate fires back, defiantly, wetly.

Reinforce continues to try to explain. "So I... I can go now, with a smile."

Hayate shakes her head fiercely and inches closer to the circle, frantic to make to them -- to her. "Don't go! I'll figure something out! I promised you I wouldn't let you go out of control!"

And just like that, Reinforce's smile changes. Her resolve was genuine, but her expression was a little bit forced... until now. It warms like the heart of a star.

"You've already spectacularly kept that promise."

And so she has.

Reinforce takes a few steps, to the edge of the circle, and takes a knee. With a gentle finger she dries Hayate's tears. This effort is in vain; more replace them.

But Reinforce is relentless in her purpose. And her tenderness.

"It's my duty as a magical vessel to protect my master from harm. Please let me choose the best way to protect you. My will shall remain in your magic and the souls of the Knights. I shall always be by your side."

Hayate frowns mightily. "That's not right! That's not it! Reinforce, this was only the start! I was--" she chokes, "--going to make you happy..." She weeps harder than ever.

Reinforce's smile finally fades. Serenity remains, and solemnity. That's how it's easy to know that she's telling the truth.

"Don't worry. I am the happiest tome in the world already."

"Reinforce..." Hayate whimpers, a little bit more weakly. The sound of someone who knows she's losing the argument.

Reinforce cups her chubby little cheek in her hand, fully, and smooths away the latest round of tears with her thumb. "Master, may I make a request? When this ends, I'll disappear and become a small, powerless fragment. Will you please use my name, not on the fragment, but on the new vessel you shall craft one day? The Blessed Wind, Reinforce. My wishes will live on in you that way."

Hayate sniffles something like her assent. It isn't agreement, but at last, acceptance dwells in her eyes. It doesn't mitigate the misery... but it colors it differently.

A little more like the others.


"Yes, Master," the Blessed Wind replies happily, as she has a thousand and one times in the days since the World Tree bloomed.

Hayate continues to cry silently from the ground, as Reinforce rises and turns away. If she clenches her fists for a moment in order to strengthen her resolve, who can blame her? But by the time she's back in the middle of her circle, her hands are spread widely, and her smile -- it really does know peace.

"Master Hayate... the guardian knights... and the young heroes... thank you."

Sparkles rise around them all once again, and Reinforce looks up at her destination, high above. It's really true, isn't it? The happiest tome in the world. No regrets.

She can go now, with a smile.

She inhales -- exhales -- and is gone, in a shower of white light that vanishes into the heavens. The circle is gone too, the ritual ended.

And down from the sky falls a pendant in the shape of the Belkan Cross. The only thing left. The small, powerless fragment.

It floats gently into Hayate's palms, and she clutches it to her heart, and cries.

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita watches. She watches because although she is in agony, if this were her - if this were her final chance to speak with this girl, this hero, this titan of kindness and wonder who saved them all from a loveless eternity, she would want it uninterrupted. She presides over the circle, fingers gripped upon Eisen, his head set down, her armored boots clapped to the earth. Her master is weeping, and the person who deserves to share in their victory as much as anyone must instead give everything to destroy their final enemy. The Belkan in her would call this a great, heroic deed. Tonight - every night, for a thousand nights and a thousand more beyond, until she finally lets it in, Eisen will tell her this sorrowful thing is a great mercy and a wonderful achievement. She will believe it, one day.

Today, she sets her teeth and does not let her legs move, as they scream to do. She forces herself to calm. She forces the breath through her until she is able to look up at Reinforce's calm and peaceful face, as she lets open her magic to the ritual again.

It ends swiftly. Painless indeed. Their future assured, at the low, low price of the two things Vita swore she would stop allowing herself to pay: One life, and Hayate's tears.

She turns on her heels, a flash of red swallowing her Knight Outfit as she steps across the distance. She hasn't changed clothes since last night but still she pads over to Hayate, kneels down, and just....waits. Hands out but nervous. She's not sure she deserves to touch her right now.

<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

Hayate shrieks. She cries. She follows the course of action, the course of thought, that Signum herself did mere hours ago, and those moments are somehow proud even as they hurt. Signum's legs tighten and her fingers grasp, and she averts her gaze when Reinforce moves to tend to Hayate...

Because the tears are running down her cheek, too.

The magic rises. Reinforce, the shaded side of the great star that was the Book of the Night Sky, peacefully unravels. With a shower of petals and a flowing of tears, a great threat is removed. Earth, and many worlds, are safe - safer, anyway - for this passage.

And yet.

And yet, Hayate is crying. To Signum some part of that seems wrong; that the peace of the cosmos could never be worth the tears of that girl.

Signum pulls on the root of 'perhaps' and she steps forwards. Laevateinn is set before her again as she sinks to her knees, hair veiling her face. Laevateinn contracts with a flash of magenta; the armor steps down, then vanishes; she sits with her head tilted low and her hands on her knees as she murmurs weakly, "Master--"

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

The exchange between Reinforce and Hayate is heard by Ren. Turns out, not looking directly at them doesn't do much to deter her from feeling what's going on. By now there are tears slipping down her cheeks, the mage being unable to stop herself from crying anymore. Her shoulders shake, but still she holds Heraut in the same position, pointed downward and touching the rune in the circle she stands in.

And then's it over. Reinforce disappears, a white light that drifts up into the sky and just fades. Ren looks up at the sky despite everything telling her not too, and sees the aforementioned Belkan Cross pendant float down and into Hayate's grasp.

Her grip on Heraut falters, and Ren collapses down onto her knees, breathing heavily, tears continuing to flow down her cheeks, taking deep breaths as she comes to terms with her part in this.

It feels... like she helped snuff out a life. A sentient being with thoughts and feelings. She wraps her arms around herself and doubles over at that moment, feeling sick to her stomach. Heraut pings.

<Your majesty...>

His tone is solemn for the ocassion, revealing that perhaps he did not in fact take pleasure in what he was tasked with doing. What they were tasked with doing. Perhaps...

The Wolkenritter go to Hayate's side, which is good since Ren herself is in no state to provide comfort to anyone.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

What is there to do...? Setsuna can't turn away; if Reinforce spoke like that, it must be so, vitally important. Nevertheless, the Yagamis all look to her, and even if they don't move...

The girl with the fairy in her hand does not speak, when Reinforce and her Master do. She remains quiet, doesn't focus there. She has to try to keep doing what she is, remain where she is. And here...

Here, if she hadn't had yet on Earth the chance to understand something of love--in wide, wide forms--here would be a lesson, too. Setsuna wonders, then--using a name. A name... that lets a wish live on...

A name, for someone who had had a title. Her eyes close, for a moment, and she feels something deeply that she doesn't know how to contain--and oepns thsoe eyes only to look at Reinforce again, and her smile. If she has to look through a few tears this time, then she can do that much. ...Maybe... a little more than a few.

"...Reinforce," Setsuna murmurs, looking down at a fairy who trills in sad curiousity for an instant. She nods. "I'll remember, too. I promise."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

It's not easy to watch Hayate, as she crawls towards Reinforce. A part of Lera wats to stop; to drop the spell to run over to her. She resists that -- and it's easier, as Reinforce speaks. She swallows, then she looks down. Head bowed, she looks down at the ground and feels her eyes sting.

Her vision is blurred, as Reinforce vanishes into a glow of white light that fades away. She blinks tears away that fall down her cheeks, then wipes at her eyes with her sleeves. She kneels down, picking up both of her Devices. She slides Sky over her back, and then tucks Ground down at her side.

She sniffs, again, and keeps her head down. She needs a moment.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Only One Way - Nanoha 2nd Movie OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37iVdPqwNTo

Fate Testarossa feels her heart twist into knots. Closing her eyelids. She can feel the tears behind them anyhow despite her best efforts. She never wanted to be strong.

She always wanted to be selfish.

Taking a deep breath, she reminds herself. There was one more instance of death she's witnessed too. Alicia - floating away like fireflies. What if she'd been like Hayate? And told the impossible - no. That she doesn't care if they can't exist together.

That she doesn't care if she's not real.

That she just wants her to come with her. And willed reality to simply accomodate. To force it to bend with her hands.

She listens all the same. She bears witness to the love Hayate holds for Reinforce. It's a beautiful thing.

It's also a sad thing.

And when Reinforce thanks her again. She decides she has something left to say to her. "Thank you, Reinforce. Because of you - I got to meet someone very special. To learn things, say things, I never would have gotten the chance to."

It is only with the clarity of afterthought that she realizes. That she got to meet a great many people who are very special. Not just one.

Perhaps it is that thought that allows her to send her off with a smile - despite her wet eyes.

It is only when she's fully faded away into the sky - and a pendant falls down into Hayate's hand, that the two girls break ranks. Falling down onto their knees on either side of Vita.

This is not the moment to hug her. Not while she's clutching that small powerless fragment.

It would feel like intruding upon her grief. The two give her her space for now - and simply wait.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Hayate throws her arms around Vita and Signum -- Zafira and Shamal come up behind her -- and bawls.

<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

Signum is still wearing the athletic training jacket she had been wearing for most of the evening. Hayate's tears touch it. In a sense, it becomes sacred.

But what matters is that the dam is broken. Signum's arms slide round Vita and Hayate both, clutching them close even as her eyes turn for a sweeping moment, as if of blisteringly abrupt sense of *being inhospitable*, at Ren and Fate and Nanoha--

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita hovers, as Fate and Nanoha pile around. She hurt her again. Vita's emotions are always such a powderkeg; it is her nature, that simmmering cauldron inside her that overflows and carries her away. She hovers on the precipice, her insides tearing themselves apart.

It is, of course, Hayate who breaks the internal stalemate, wailing as the young master throws her arms around her Knights, and Vita's throat bubbles out with a wail of her own. The swirling chaos she'd been trying to keep together since last night - suppressing, burying, bursts out every seam and tears her apart.

The sound is wordless and clear in the spring morning as Vita's small arms cling to Signum and Hayate, wailing.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

There's a time for promising... but when the moment breaks, and there's crying, and theys tart coming together again--

Setsuna just nods at Signum as her eyes turn, and hugs Lera, brings out a hand to Ren--

And she'll wait here for Hayate and Vita and all of them too. Sometimes...

She's learned, at least, that sometimes, part of it is just staying, for a while.