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.