Darkness Bound

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Heretic
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Darkness Bound

Post by Heretic » Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:38 am

Anyone who was following my last (and technically ongoing) artwork rivalry with Shori, might be able to guess what this is ahead of time.

This is a little project I've been working on off and on for a while now. It is a fan fiction for the only anime I feel passionate enough about to keep working at it. There is likely a typo or more in there somewhere that I've yet to notice. Read, enjoy, comment and if you don't think it's mecha enough, just wait...

Darkness Bound

She stumbled blindly, hands, knees, feet and elbows scraped from many stumbles onto rough unseen stones. Her summer dress had been ripped and smeared with grime, it hung from her in tatters and somehow she had lost her sandals. What little light she could see came from ahead, a pale sliver from around a corner. Drawn to the light, she stumbled on.

As she got closer, the paintings on the tunnel's walls became clearer, depictions of battles, heroes and dark villains and still more her young mind could not yet comprehend. The light led her to a square chamber; many bright glowing orbs of light were coming out of the walls, chasing away all shadows. In the middle of the room was a large stone block, and on top of that block was darkness that moved like flames.

But she could see something else, something inside the darkness, like a deeper shadow, the shadow of a sword. Its point was imbedded into the stone block, between the blade and the handle there was an orb the size of a ball that she could put both her hands around. Within the shadows she could see the orb start to glow a dull red.

"Child," when the voice spoke, the darkness around the sword pulsed, "What do you desire?"

There was a sound, like a heavy metal lock being opened, the red glow from the swords orb brightened--

--Her memory faded in and out like a dream. Shopping in the city with her mother and father, skipping along in the park with an ice-cream cone in her hand, the bright sunshine. The sunlight darkened, something in the sky. She remembered being afraid, her father scooping her up in his arms and running, people in the park screaming in fear. The ground shaking, her father stumbling and the feeling of terror as she was thrown from his grasp. The jarring impact, running, looking franticly around for her parents even as everyone else was running and screaming. The ground opening up, right in front of her, and lastly the feeling of falling as darkness swallowed her--

--The red glow faded and she fell to her knees crying, it was too much, too much for her to understand, too much sadness, too much fear. Tears streamed down her cheeks to dampen the cold stone floor.

"You are lost, child," said the sword, "If you desire it, I can help you find the way."

Between sobs, she said, "How?"

"Take my handle child."

Through watery vision she looked at the sword and the darkness surrounding it, she was afraid of the sword, but it was right. She was lost, she wanted to find her way, she wanted to be with her mother and father again.

Pushing herself back to her feet, she approached the stone block, it was not as high as a table but she had to climb on top in order to reach the sword. She closed her eyes as she reached her hand into the flames of darkness, but opened them when she felt that they were strangely cool. She took hold of the sword's handle.

"Child, what is your name?"

In a quivering voice she said, "Rachael."

The sword said, "My power grants my holder's greatest desires, and corrupts their souls. Saints have become warlords by my blade. For this was I named the Darkness Bound. At last I was locked away in this prison of light, thought safely chained, then forgotten. Yours is the first truly pure desire I have seen in a long time, I will surrender my power to you once you pull me from this alter."

Still afraid and now unsure if she should Rachael pulled the up on the sword's handle. She wanted to know the way out of this place, the way back to her mother and father. At once the dark flames around it spread out through the room and the glowing orbs were snuffed out.

The silence was broken by the sound of metal sliding out of stone followed by a chime like a crystal bell. The red glow of the orb flared, growing to cover the blade in her hand then around Rachael herself. She felt herself lifting off the stone alter and a kind of tingling energy flowed into her from the sword, "I will become your strength, and you Rachael, will become my heart"...

***

Lieutenant Colonel Gage was pensive, "I'm sorry to ask this of you, but I'm sure you know how these things can be."

"Yes," said the young woman sitting in one of the large chairs on the other side of the Lieutenant Colonel's desk. The lieutenant himself wasn't sitting at his desk, he stood looking out the window of his office. Watching the day to day life of the Space-Time Administration Training Academy, playing out on the grounds.

The Lieutenant Colonel continued, "You have first hand experience with this sort of thing. The Darkness Bound is an extremely powerful Lost Logia, and if the legends depicted in that tomb where it was found are correct, it is also extremely dangerous." He turned away from the window and faced the young woman sitting at his desk, "But it is not the sword that concerns me. That girl, Rachael Vester. She needs someone with the courage and compassion to reach out to her despite that sword she carries. And I can think of no-one else who can."

"Understood," she said standing and saluting. "I, Captain Nanoha Takamachi, hereby accept your request."

***

People were afraid of her. Being an orphan, the Saint's Church had tried to take her in, but the Sisters all avoided her. The other children ran away from her. Finally the Church had given up, sending her away to the Space-Time Administration Bureau, where they had placed her in the training academy. It was the same though. Everyone avoided her, even her instructors had stopped checking to see if she'd be coming to class.

So she sat alone in the shadows under a large tree outside of the main dormitory. Watching people going about their day in the Academy and trying not to be noticed. Her junior trainee uniform was a dark gray edged with silver, in another day it would be black. It didn't mater what colour of clothes she wore; it always dulled to a darker shade until eventually it turned black. Since the normal uniforms were white and gold, it took a while for hers to change, and eventually they'd give her another fresh one.

Rachael was aware of the woman approaching her, but played no attention. Even when the woman sat down beside Rachael, she didn't bother looking at her. Perhaps if she ignored her, the woman would go away. She felt the stone heart of the Darkness Bound pulse. The sword was leaning against the tree Rachael was under, something about the woman had caught the sword's attention.

Rachael grudgingly looked at her. What struck her first were her eyes, so open, so warm. Next was the woman's smile, bright and cheerful. She was dressed in the blue and white uniform of an Instructor. An Air Force Captain, Rachael had seen her before around the academy, usually teaching the older advanced classes.

The woman didn't introduce herself or comment on the state of Rachael's uniform like other instructors had in the past. She simply sat with her legs stretched out and leaning back to prop herself up with her arms. She looked away from Rachael, gazing up at the large tree branches that stretched out above them, "When I was about your age," Her voice was soft, "My life changed. I went through a lot because of it, pain, loss, but I wouldn't want to change my life back to how it was even if I could. Because I've gained things that I cherish more than anything." She paused, closed her eyes and breathed deeply, "This is a beautiful spot you've found."

Rachael was confused by this woman, her sudden appearance, how she didn't give any orders or keep away out of fear. The confusion formed into a question about something the woman had said, "What did you gain?"

***

Lieutenant Colonel Gage was again at his office window, no longer as pensive. In fact a small smile was forming on his hard face as he watched the two distant figures across the academy grounds sitting beneath a tree. His aid, and technically his Familiar as well, Manawydan, stood at his side also watching. Noticing his superior's smile, Manawydan said, "I don't see what progress warrants your change of mood master."

"Of course not," Gage said, looking to his Familiar, "We are only skilled at teaching others the skills to fight and use magic. That simply will not be enough for that girl. To be so young and loose everything, she must have closed her heart to the world, and the world, because of that sword, was afraid to reach out to her. Before she can learn anything and master the Darkness Bound, her heart has to be opened. That is what I think anyway."

"I don't quite understand," Manawydan said, "But I think you know more about such matters of the heart than you admit."

To be Continued...
Last edited by Heretic on Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Turinu » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:44 am

Yay, when I woke up and popped on Mechatalk and saw you made a post in the fanfiction section, I immediately knew what it was~!

Good stuff so far. The way she stumbled upon the Darkness Bound and the way you described it was pretty good. Has me asking questions like "Where did she come from? How did she end up there? What happened to her parents, or even the planet she originally came from?

Personally though, I feel all of this goes against Nanoha's personality. What ever happened to shoot first, make friends later?! I kid, I kid. Of course, only Nanoha could warm the heart of a complete stranger with her out-going personality.

When you get to it, I want you to fill me in on all the juicy details of your story, :D. I could even share some of the details I've written up for my currently dead Nanoha RPG, which I've been in the process of rewriting as of a few days ago (In hopes of reviving it someday, D:.).

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Post by Heretic » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:32 am

Yay, already more done! I'd say my biggest challenge is trying to keep Nanoha's actions within the bounds of what she'd likely do.

Other than that, it may have been noticed that I'm jumping around a bit more often with this than I have with other writing I've posted here. Two reasons why, by moving around more, I can keep the energy of my writing up rather than getting stuck. So whenever things start to slow down or there's nothing more that needs to happen right at the moment, I switch tracks.

The second reason is for story pacing, I'm trying to keep up a flow like what is seen in animation. It isn't necessary for the reader to be looking over a single character's shoulder for their whole day, so I'm shifting perspectives like the director of an animated production would in order to show the reader what they need to see and skipping what they don't need or already knew.

Not too much in the way of answers so far as the mystery of Darkness Bound or Rachael, for this portion I was focusing on establishing the Character of Lieutenant Colonel Gage. That's one thing I'm altering from the anime slightly. I've felt that there was a lack of an Epic male Mage. Sure StrikerS had Zest, but we didn't get to see much of him. I've also got important plans for Gage but I won't tell any of you what they are.

Sorry Shori, not going to be too many "Juicy Details" for me to divulge. I'm working from rough ideas so that I have some room to expand on them as I go.

Inexorable Pasts

Rachael was under her tree again, it was just after a particularly warm Mid-Childa summer and since Rachael was again not being expected to attend her classes she was enjoying the warm weather outside as much as she could. Captain Nanoha was with her again, as she often was when not teaching classes or running her personal errands. Rachael was finding that after each visit from Nanoha, her mind was filled with more questions, questions that she asked eagerly with the next opportunity.

The two of them were enjoying a moment of quiet silence while Rachael thought about what her next question should be. But the one that came to mind made her stop. She had never hesitated to ask a question before, even ones that she thought were silly, and Nanoha had never belittled her for them. But this question. She was afraid to ask it, because she was afraid of what the answer would be. But again, Nanoha was one of the first people to ever treat her this way. "Nanoha?" She started, her voice quiet as if it would make a difference, "Am I evil?"

The instant the words were out of her mouth, she heard Nahoha's gasp. Rachael knew it, she should never have asked. Nanoha would keep away from her, just like everyone else--

Rachael was startled by the arms that suddenly wrapped around her and pulled her close. Pressed against Nanoha's warm body, Rachael stared in shock over her shoulder. "Why?" Nanoha said in Rachael's ear, "Why would you ever think that?"

The warmth of Nanoha's touch, her gentleness. It reminded Rachael too much of such things from before-- warm hands, loving smiles, voices she's never hear again--

"It's true, isn't it?" Rachael sobbed, "All my clothes turn black, people stay away form me, but I hear them talking, they say it's my fault for freeing him, that because I have Darkness Bound..." Her sobbing built into a tear filled cry, "They whisper about it in hallways and scratch it into my room door when I'm not around! It's true isn't it!?"

Rachael would have thought it impossible, but Nanoha's arms held her even more firmly. "Listen to me Rachael, it is not true. You are not evil, and neither is Darkness Bound. Whatever he did in the past doesn't matter now. He found you when you were hurt and all alone, didn't he? He rescued you and protected you, he's done nothing evil now. Neither of you have to be alone anymore, I'm here."

Rachael couldn't stop crying, couldn't and didn't want to leave the strong and warm embrace. She cried for what seemed like forever, until, completely exhausted, she fell asleep in Nanoha's arm's beneath her tree.

***

It was late evening. Lieutenant Colonel Gage was personally inspecting the vandalism reported by Nanoha, and as always, Manawydan was at his side. "This couldn't have been missed by the training officer responsible for this floor." Gage said, his voice frighteningly quiet.

"No Master," Manawydan answered. Manawydan himself had difficulty with the situation, for all his airs of cold detachment. To think that the level of cruelty could have gone this far without notice. And he was shocked to think that Third Grade students knew and were using the words roughly engraved into the wooden door of Rachael Vester's dormitory room. Manawydan noticed his master’s tightly clenched fists and could feel the barely restrained anger radiating off of him. "Sir, I'll deal with the matter of this floor's training officer."

"Yes," Gage eased up slightly, "I'll leave it to you. Where is Rachael Vester now?"

"Last I was informed," Manawyden said, "She was being cared for by Captain Takamachi."

***

Lieutenant Colonel Henry Gage. They called him the Steel Heart of the TSAB's Ground Forces. A skilled mage, a talented strategist and an unrelenting will. Yet for all his accomplishments as a Ground Forces Mage, what Henry Gage wanted most was to fly.

He had made a few calls and tracked Captain Nanoha Takamachi down to a presently unused complex, formerly Section Six. Even now, after what most considered to be the successful conclusion of Section Six, the Bureau had yet to decide what to do with the remaining facility.

Gage arrived at the facility by car. It was now late evening. After speaking to the on duty security guard, he was directed to the training field out on the water. He arrived to find the system active and running a set of shooting and aerial obstacle drills. From the translucent controls on the shore, he could see that the program was almost over.

Gage looked up to watch the final of targets being blasted by luminous magic. The system signalled that the drill was over, and he started to make his approach to the training field across the connecting bridge.

The insubstantial holograms resolved into solid forms once he entered the field, he was now in a forest, the darkened sky and glittering stars were visible between the treetops and one of Mid-Child's moons eliminated the forest and cast dark shadows. It didn't take Gage long to find Nanoha. She was in the center of a clearing, the moonlight making her glow in her white barrier jacket. She was catching her breath.

"She's with some of my friends, Lieutenant Colonel Gage." She hadn't turned to acknowledge him when she spoke.

"I'm off duty, as are you, just Gage is fine." He spoke quietly, apologetic, "I'm sorry to intrude on you privacy here, I wanted to ask you about it personally, I needed... I needed something to do, to keep my mind off of things."

"Its fine," she said, looking Gage in the eyes, "That's why I came here. I was about to start a simulated battle, I can change the settings and make it a team of two."

Gage rarely got the chance to practice with anyone other than Manawydan, since his administrative duties at the academy kept him busy most of the time. "I'm hardly an Ace of Aces, so I'll try to keep up."

Gage reached into the pocket of his uniform's coat, witch he hadn't bothered changing out of yet, and pulled out a small translucent purple stone. Amethyst, it was just over an inch long, irregularly edged and faceted, larger at the top end tapering almost to a point at the bottom. It was bound by twisted steel wire and hung from a chain. "Ancient and forgotten sorcerer," Gage began the incantation, "A heart of justice awakened, Cu Roi, SET UP!"

"Set Up."

Gage was surrounded by light, the stone in his hand vanished and before him, his magical device formed. A long staff of polished steel with the amethyst now a polished diamond shape floating suspended within rings like a gyroscope at the top. He reached out and gripped the metal shaft and around him his barrio jacket formed. First his fingerless black gloves, followed by a black sleeveless shirt and black pants. Next a belt with steel buckle and his large armoured boots which covered to his knees and kneecap armour formed above them. Next to materialize was his long coat. A dark green overcoat with two sets of steel buttons down the front, large black cuffs at the ends of the sleeves, an oversized black lapel that was popped up then flipped over half way to reveal the dark red of the inside. Every edge of the coat was detailed with what looked like steel. Lastly, a pair of aviator goggles formed on Gage's forehead, just below his black hair. The light burst, returning Gage to the darkened forest.

He was an imposing figure in his barrier jacket, a hair under six feet tall, sturdily built, which was now easier to see rather than in his standard uniform. His size was emphasized by the long dark coat hanging off of him. His hard face was now partly obscured by the collar of his coat. The moonlight played across his face to make his deep set brown eyes look like dark pits and his hair above his goggles was now spiked up rather than combed back.

He swung Cu Roi up in salute. "Ready."

Nanoha smiled, "No wonder so many trainees are afraid of being sent to your office for a reprimand."

***

Rachael was dreaming, she didn't know how she knew it, but she could tell somehow. She was in the stone walled tomb again, but the walls seem to radiate a golden light this time and the alter in the center was gone. In its place was a man. Tall and thin, no other details because he seemed to be made of darkness. All except for his right eye, which glowed a fierce red. "I am sorry mistress."

Rachael frowned, "Why?"

"I sought to use you only to free myself," the man, Rachael realized now, was the heart of the sword, Darkness Bound, "But when I touched your soul, I found something I had forgotten, and so I remained bound to you. I am sorry, because of me, you are suffering. Return me to my prison, and you can be free from me."

Rachael stomped her foot, "No!"

"But--"

"No," she said quieter this time. "She said we aren't evil. She said you saved me when I was alone, I won't leave you alone too."

"I-- As you wish Mistress."

***

Her eyes opened, she was awake this time. She looked up at an unfamiliar ceiling, she was in an unfamiliar bed. But it was a warm bed, and something about the room felt comforting. She looked about the room, Darkness Bound was leaning against the foot of the bed. Rachael smiled.

"Your awake, I'm glad." A soft almost quiet voice spoke. Rachael looked to see a tall woman with long blond hair at the door to the room. She walked towards the bed and sat down in a chair beside Rachael. Then she smiled. Rachael was startled, this woman's smile was so much like Nanoha's. "It's nice to meet you," the woman said, "Nanoha has told me all about her friend from under the tree. My name is Fate."

***

"Two more behind you!" Gage was shocked at speed at which Nanoha reacted to his warning. She flipped and spun all while simultaneously firing two shots with Raising Heart. Gage had his goggles down, using them to help Cu Roi perform a constant Wide Area Search, but with so many Gadgets moving through the city it was still difficult to keep track of them all. One of the pill shaped machines rose up suddenly before Gage, "Cu Roi!"

"Round Shield."

A translucent circle of magic formed around his left hand just in time to block the incoming fire. A split second later he dropped the shield, "Ion Lance!" The gyroscopic rings at the top of Cu Roi began spinning. A violate ball of light formed and instantly became a streak that pierced through the attacking Gadget. Gage found himself fighting back to back with Nanoha.

"Target Located." Cu Roi announced, displaying the information on Gage's goggles.



"Found it," Gage pointed to the Gadget in question, "If we can take out that control unit--"

"--The Gadgets will switch to autonomous mode and I can take them all out with one Bombardment spell." Nanoha finished.

"I'll take it head on," Gage said, "That'll give you the chance to get into position."

"But you'll be taking them on alone."

"Don't worry," Gage was smiling, it had been too long, he'd almost forgotten how much he enjoyed challenging the impossible, "I may not be an Ace of Aces, but I didn't get my Double A rating without learning a few tricks."

Nanoha seemed to be about to say something else, but all she said was, "Understood."

Gage locked onto his target, "GO!"

Nanoha rose upward like a shooting star, while Gage started moving to face his target head on. He slashed Cu Roi through the air, "Soul Wings." A pair of draconic wings made from pure magic formed From Gage's shoulders and his speed increased with an instant burst. "Cu Roi."

"Shockwave."

The instant Gage broke the sound barrier, Cu Roi amplified the sonic boom, knocking any Gadgets on either side of him out of the sky. All that remained for him to deal with were the ones dead ahead. "Form Two!"

"Spear Form."

The spinning rings aligned to form a single ring, through the middle of which the Amethyst diamond rose to become the tip of Cu Roi, then expanded in a flash to become a broad spear blade. He struck one Gadget, it burst into peaces with the impact. Then another, which resulted the same way, followed by a third. They were trying to slow him down. He gathered as much magic as he could spare and shunted it into his Soul Wings.

The strain was immense, but the remaining Gadgets between him and his target began shattering without slowing him down. Gage struck the AMF of the control unit and was brought to a sudden stop. Were it not for the magical protection of his Barrier Jacket, such a stop would have been beyond the limits of the human body.

Cu Roi's spear tip sparked against the AMF, Gage's Soul Wings had dispersed on impact as planned and he was concentrating on channelling that magic into one final spell. "I summon the children of the goddess, hear me and answer. Tuatha De Danann!"

Lances of blue flames appeared around the control Gadget. "Fire!" The lances pierced the AMF and Gage thrust Cu Roi's point through and into the metal body. The Gadget exploded.

An instant later, in the gap before the Gadgets switched to autonomous mode, magic rained from above, striking everything in the air except Gage where he hovered. The bombardment came to an end; he and Nanoha were all that remained in the sky. The training field's system signalled the simulations end.

Gage allowed himself to slowly drift back down to the ground where Nanoha joined him. "Not bad," He said, "For an Ace of Aces."

"You too," she responded, "For a strategic master."

"More than just another Dark and Scary Face." He said with a smile, releasing Cu Roi and his Barrier Jacket. Gage found himself back in his uniform.

"Um, Gage, have you seen the Darkness Bound tomb personally?"

Gage sighed, right, back to the matters of real life. "The archaeologists are still crawling through it. I haven't had the chance to go through the paperwork to be given a tour. I've only seen what's in the official reports."

"One of my friends," she said, "is the chief Archaeologist, and head librarian at Infinity Library. He showed me the Tomb, I think you should see it for yourself too. Talk to Yuno Scrya."

Gage nodded, "I will."

***

TSAB Orbital Prison Facility:

A heavy door was blasted off its hinges and light flooded into the dark cell. A large shadowed figure stood in the opening. "Jail Scaglietti." It said to the cell's occupant.

"I was wondering how long you'd take to make good on the deal. Saint's Cradle was destroyed more than two years ago, the old council is dead--"

"But the Saint still lives, Scaglietti. You failed."

"That child means nothing without the Relics." Scaglietti waved a hand dismissively.

"Children grow Scaglietti, the fact that she lives is enough to warrant me leaving you to rot in this cell for the rest of your life."

"But you won't." Scaglietti said smugly.

"No, despite your arrogance and ambition, I have need of your ingenuity. As such," The dark figure advanced towards Jail Scaglietti, "I'm sure I can find a way to separate them..."

To Be Continued...
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