Twist of Fate (PMMM/MGLN crossover) (2024)

Chapter 7: Exploration

"Fate-chan?"

"Yes Nanoha?"

"...I don't want to fight Witches anymore."

"Neither do I. The thought makes me so..."

"Sad?"

"And angry."

Nanoha looked at her blonde friend, as they walked towards Mitakihara Middle School. It wasn't common at all for Fate to admit to something making her angry. She was very even-tempered in fact. So when something did make her angry...it was big. And Nanoha could hardly blame her in this situation, not in the slightest. The brunette didn't feel the same anger...but that was because she was so sad and sick. The idea that she had been fighting and ki...ki...killing girls her age...it wouldn't surprise anyone that she felt the way she did. Midchildan magic wasn't supposed to kill. It, by design, was meant to incapacitate. That was how Fate could survive a Starlight Breaker strong enough to obliterate a city.

But the Witches...just like the monsters that Nanoha had first fought when she met Yuuno, they were destroyed by the magic. At the time, that had seemed like a good thing. These were creatures creating barriers and using them to lure in innocent people. They needed to be stopped, and if the magic destroyed them, it probably meant they were created by a Lost Logia or something of that nature. Instead...they were innocent girls, turned into monsters.

How am I going to look Mami-san and the others in the face? When I know the truth?

She doubted that Mami knew. The other girl acted like she was doing a good job and fighting monsters, so it was very doubtful she knew the truth.

"Nanoha-chan! Fate-chan!"

Not that she wold have time to think on that subject.

"Madoka-chan?" the brunette smiled at her newest friend, the pinkette eagerly jogging up to join her and Fate.

"How are you two?" Madoka asked, moving to walk next to Nanoha.

"Good," the girl in question replied, her cheerful facade covering the lingering worries.

"That's good...actually though...Nanoha-chan? Can I ask you a question?"

Nanoha nodded, "Ask away Madoka-chan."

"You don't use the same type of magic, right?"

Upon hearing that question, Nanoha looked around to make sure there weren't any eavesdroppers. Talking about magic or the TSAB was strictly forbidden, if there was the chance that someone might hear her. It wasn't on an Administered World for obvious reasons...but Earth, her own or the new one, weren't Administered yet. Luckily, there didn't seem to be anyone around but herself, Fate and Madoka at the moment. Just the gurgling of the small stream next to the path.

"Fate-chan and I don't use the same magic as Mami-san," the brunette nodded, "I've never actually seen the type she uses before."

"Did you have to make a wish first?" Madoka's pink eyes had a questioning look to them.

"No, we didn't," Fate fielded that question, soft voice getting the pinkette's attention.

Madoka frowned slightly, "How do you do magic then? Mami-san and Kyubey said that..."

"We're not sure how Kyubey uses his magic to grant wishes," the blonde continued, "We've never seen anything like it before. But our own powers are formed in our Linker Cores. There was never any need for a wish."

"Linker...?"

Nanoha placed a hand on the shorter girl's shoulder, "It's complicated Madoka-chan. How about this...if you want to know more, I can tell you after school. Fate-chan has to talk with Homura-chan, but I'm not busy!"

"Okay!"

On the subject of the blonde, Fate frowned ever so slightly, "Why are you asking anyway, Madoka?"

The pinkette blushed, her face turning the same shade as her hair. Madoka scratched her cheek, laughing softly.

"Eh heh...promise you won't laugh?"

"Promise," Nanoha smiled at her friend.

"Well, I...I can't think of anything I would want to wish for. I'm happy with my life, and I can't think of anything I want badly enough to wish for it. But I want to help Mami-san and Sayaka-chan if she contracts too...so I was hoping that your magic might be something I could do..."

Fate and Nanoha shared a look, as the pinkette nervously fidgeted, gripping her skirt with a hopeful look on her face. Despite the situation and how she had previously been feeling, the latter was actually holding back a giggle. Madoka sounded like she once had. Wanting to help, no matter what she had to do. It was endearing, that was for sure. At the same time though, Nanoha sobered quickly when more thought was put into the request. Madoka was like herself in another way...

No formal training, and only just now exposed to magic. When the brunette had been in her shoes, albeit far younger, she hadn't had a choice at first and had only volunteered later. Madoka hada choice...she didn't have to fight. But on the other hand, if she was determined to learn magic...it was far better that it be Midchildan or Belkan, than the other option.

The option that would leave her a monster.

"If you want to learn, we can train you," this time it was Fate who spoke, her soft voice matching her smile quite well.

"Though you'd have to have a Device..." Nanoha tapped her chin, "Fate-chan, do we have any spares that she can use?"

"Would Lindy-san let us train her with one?" the brunette mentally added, aware that Arthra had spare standard-issue Devices.

"I'm sure we have a spare or two," Fate answered vocally, "And I don't know Nanoha. With the fact that we don't want Madoka to contract, Mother will probably agree. But I couldn't say for sure."

"We'll have to ask that tonight then."

Any further discussion would have to wait in any case, as they were rapidly approaching the school. Nanoha turned to Madoka, smiling once more as she pulled Raising Heart from her uniform shirt. The gem flashed slightly, as Madoka looked at it with wide eyes. Now that she knew what the gem was, that wasn't surprising.

"We'll talk again after school Madoka-chan," the Mage grinned, "I'm sure I can teach you something."

"Thanks Nanoha-chan!"

Watching as Madoka grinned at her before jogging towards where Sayaka and Hitomi stood in the distance, Nanoha sighed softly.

"Are you okay Nanoha?" Fate asked, slipping her hand into her friend's.

Nanoha smiled at her, squeezing the offered hand tightly, "Yeah, I'm fine Fate-chan. I'm just worried...Madoka-chan needs to stay away from Kyubey, but I don't know how to tell her that. She wouldn't believe me, and I don't want to alienate Sayaka-chan and Mami-san either. I...want to be friends with them, and not have to fight."

"We may have to fight Nanoha, especially with how attached Mami is to Kyubey," Fate replied, red eyes watching the girls in the distance sadly, "but remember...we have Homura on our side as well. We know the truth, and can use that. Let's focus on training Madoka and finding out everything we can for now. We can worry about Kyubey later."

"Right!"

The pair of girls continued walking to the school after that statement, neither letting go of the other's hand. This situation continued to be like nothing they had ever experienced or done before. But when had Nanoha or Fate let something like that stop them? No, they would succeed...find out exactly what Kyubey was doing, if Homura was telling the truth...and if so, a way to save the girls who had been forced into contracts. They couldn't save the Witches...

But if they could save the Magical Girls, that was something.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

It indeed was after school before Nanoha had a chance to talk with Madoka again. Waving goodbye to Fate, the brunette jogged up to the pinkette, who was doing the same to Sayaka.

"Sure you don't want to come with?" the blue-haired girl was asking her friend.

"Sorry Sayaka-chan," Madoka apologized softly, "I have something else I need to do tonight."

"Hey!" Sayaka pulled Madoka in, hooking an arm around her neck so that she could ruffle the pinkette's hair, "Don't apologize to me my wonderful wife! I don't mind if you need to do something else. I'll just go with Mami-san alone then."

"Sayaka-chan!" the other girl whined, trying to pull her head free.

"But just because you're going somewhere else doesn't mean I'm going to let you run off without telling me what it is first!" a grin crossed the bluenette's face, "So spill the beans Madoka!"

"But..."

Nanoha coughed, an amused grin on her face, "Having fun?"

"Yup!" Sayaka grinned back.

"Help..." Madoka pouted.

"Sayaka-chan, can you let go of her please?" the brunette asked, "She's coming with me tonight, if you wanted to know."

The bluenette blinked, doing as asked, "Wait, Madoka's going with you? Why?"

"Because she wanted to learn how Fate-chan and I do magic," Nanoha replied, "no offense to Mami-san."

Understandably, the blue-haired girl's jaw dropped open. Before she spun around, looking at her friend with wide eyes. Clearly, Sayaka couldn't understand why Madoka would ditch her and magic that allowed for any wish, to learn from Nanoha. Not that the girl in question could blame her new friend for that reaction. After all, at first glance, the Magical Girl system looked better. Any wish you could want, granted with only the need to fight Witches as payment. That was tempting, even for Nanoha. She could only imagine how Fate felt...she was well aware her dear friend had a lot of regrets.

But that was only at first glance, if what Homura said was true.

"But Madoka," Sayaka protested, "Don't you have something you want to wish for?"

"Umm..." the girl blushed cutely, "No...I mean, I don't have anything I really need Sayaka-chan. I want to help Mami-san, but I..."

"Do you have anything you want Sayaka-chan?" Nanoha added.

Sayaka blinked, "Err...a lot of things! Like a..."

"Hmm?"

"Okay, I don't know exactly what I want either."

Nanoha giggled, "No worries Sayaka-chan. Hopefully you have a fun time with Mami-san tonight."

"Thanks. Well, I should go meet her. Keep Madoka safe, okay?"

"I will."

The blue-haired girl nodded, waving as she jogged off towards the mall. Madoka and Nanoha watched her go, before turning to each other. The Mage smiled at the other girl, putting Madoka at ease. Nanoha's smile had that effect, on basically anyone she met really.

"So, are you ready Madoka-chan?"

"Yes..." the pinkette clutched her skirt, "I mean, I think I am."

"No need to worry," Nanoha laughed softly, "we're just going to take you to see my commander."

Madoka blinked, "Your...commander? What do you mean Nanoha-chan?"

"Let's just say that I'm not just a Mage," the brunette winked at her friend...before magic surrounded both of them.

Far away from Mitakihara, Chrono Harlaown frowned as he moved through an unfamiliar city. Not that even Uminari had been particularly familiar to him, when it had existed. But Kazamino was as alien to him as he was to it. The small-ish town was more advanced than Earth should have been, just as Mitakihara. But even so, it was leagues behind Midchilda, making it rather easy for him to remember that he was in what amounted to hostile territory. Between Homura Akemi and Mami Tomoe, the Arthra crew knew that Magical Girls were very territorial. And that some of them likely wouldn't hesitate to attack unfamiliar Mages.

Such as Chrono.

I may be an Enforcer, but infiltration of this nature isn't something I am experienced in.

There was nothing for it though. He was the single most experienced Mage on the Arthra, outside his own mother. That experience translated into someone who could do missions he wasn't comfortable with, or lacked experience in. What he did have experience in was formal meetings with new mages. Nanoha and Fate weren't the best resume in that regard, but it was better than anyone else could say.

Though walking around without his Barrier Jacket and in Earth clothing would never stop feeling odd. No matter the fact he stayed here for some time during the Book of Darkness Incident.

"Hello, can you show me where Kazamino Middle School is?"

"Why ya asking?"

"I have a niece starting soon, so I wanted to make sure the area is safe for her."

"Oh. Sorry, just seemed odd that a grown man was askin that. It's a few blocks down that way. Just turn left and ya can't miss it."

Chrono nodded, "Thank you."

"No problem."

As the other man wandered off, the Enforcer bit back a sigh. He was lucky that he finally grew up, because if he had still looked younger than his age that would have been even more awkward. As it was, it still was. Clearly the other man had worried that he had a less than honorable reason to know where the school was.

Which, technically speaking, one could argue that. It wasn't out of any interest in the students. The interest came in the fact that if there was a powerful Magical Girl in this city, which Amy's scans indicated was the case, she was likely as not the same age as Homura Akemi or Mami Tomoe. And by extension, would be at the school. At the least, it was the assumption that Chrono was operating under.

If she isn't there, I don't know where I would look.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

As it would turn out...

"No, Admiral. There are no Magical Girls at the middle school."

"Keep looking Chrono. I trust Amy, she wouldn't make a mistake on her scans."

"Roger."

Now, Chrono trusted Amy just as much...she was the woman he trusted more than any, actually. So he knew better than anyone that if she said there was a Magical Girl in Kazamino, then there very well was one. But at the same time, neither S2U nor Durandal had detected any sign of a Mage at the school. Not even anyone with a Linker Core at that. Which meant that this mysterious girl was not at the school. That both expanded and narrowed down the search. It expanded it to all of Kazamino- thankfully not a large town -while narrowing it down to a girl who was middle-school aged, but not at the school. Likely an orphan or delinquent, one of the two. Or both.

Well, nothing for it but to keep looking. Chrono turned away from the school, pulling his black jacket closer as he moved back into the town itself. Sharp eyes scanned for any sign of a girl at the requisite age, or near to it. But the only people he saw wandering around were closer to his own age, or that of his mother. There was not one girl at the right age in sight.

Is...that...

What was in sight had his hand dropping to S2U on instinct. There was a woman wandering around almost drunkenly, which would be odd enough in the broad daylight. But that wasn't what caught the Enforcer's attention. That was the strange mark on her neck, that was leaking dark mana. It wasn't necessarily a Witch, but on the other hand...it was still dark. That was never a good thing. Nor was her wandering into an alley.
Chrono jogged over to the woman, gently placing a hand on her shoulder.

"Hello? Are you okay ma'am?"

The woman turned dull eyes on him, "Who are you? Can't you see I'm...I'm...going somewhere."

"Yes, but you don't look like you know where you are going. Do you know who did this to you?" the Enforcer asked, voice dropping ever so slightly into his typical commanding tone.

"No one did anything to me," she replied dully, "Let me go. I have to...be somewhere."

"That somewhere is a hospital," Chrono muttered softly, not moving his hand, "Come with me please."

"No!"

"Please, someone did something to do you."

"Let me go!"

The woman continued to struggle against him, even as Chrono realized something rather more worrying. Namely, the fact that not one person seemed to have noticed the screaming. He had expected to get attention by now...after all, this could look more than a little wrong to an outside observer. But no one had noticed, or moved towards him and the woman.

Of course, there was also the fact that the street had turned into something out of a mental institution. The buildings were gone, replaced by a series of hospital beds, all with stained sheets tossed in every direction. Some held pieces of mannequins spread out as if they were patients torn apart in their beds. Multitudes of needles and pill bottles were stabbed through the wall, many of them far larger than they should have been. A handful were leaking liquid, that looked more like blood than medicine.

A Labyrinth...this is not good.

"I'm sorry for this," Chrono turned back to the woman, knocking her over the head with S2U. Her eyes rolled up, as she crumpled to the ground.
He didn't have time to be struggling with holding her down, not when they needed to get out of this maze. The reports were clear on one thing...the Witch would have minions, Familiars. Theywould attack, even if the Witch herself didn't. Since he clearly couldn't afford to be holding the woman down while fighting, he took the next best option. Knock her out, and make his stand where he was.

After all, the most recent report from Fate and Nanoha had them forcing a Witch to reveal herself by destroying enough Familiars.

As such, he held S2U up, his Barrier Jacket falling into place as the Enforcer's sharp eyes scanned his surroundings. As of yet, nothing had moved to attack him, but there was no way of knowing how long that would last. Witches seemed to operate on luring victims into their mazes, and if so, they would probably move to attack quickly before the said victims could make any effort to escape. That was logical, and Chrono operated on logic even when his enemies did not.

There!

The Enforcer ducked, as he heard the sound of crazed laughter. His instinctual move saved him damage, as a 'whip' of light shot over his head. Rolling to the side, Chrono came up, a spell already firing. Blue bolts of energy shot from S2U, impaling a shadowy figure. A figure that faded away, revealing the real form of the Familiar. If that was what it was.

"..."

A syringe, attached to what appeared to be mannequin legs. He knew that Familiars were not humanoid for the most part, but this was odd even for him. Shaking his head, Chrono noted that there was only the one Familiar...not a large group, like Fate and Nanoha had reported. Acknowledging that point, he pointed S2U at the Familiar, blue light building along the tip of his weapon.

"Stinger Ray."

Blue 'swords' of light formed at the tip of S2U, before shooting forward at the strange Familiar. Despite the lack of a mouth, a crazed laugh came from the Familiar, as it attempted to dodge the attack. But it's stiff legs betrayed it...the 'swords' pierced the syringe, shattering it as if it were a regular one being stepped on. Shards of glass flew everywhere, as blood red liquid sprayed from the shattered glass. The legs split apart, falling to either side of the rapidly forming puddle, nothing but a fading scream to indicate the Familiar had been there.

"That was too easy," Chrono muttered, continuing to hold his Device aloft, as he looked around for any signs of other enemies, "There must be more of them. But where..."

Even as he asked that, the Labyrinth twisted and began to fade away. The barrier didn't last more than a few seconds, before the nightmarish field was gone. Chrono blinked, slowly lowering S2U, as the bustle of the street returned. Only he and the woman remained, standing- or laying down -in the middle of the alleyway.

That can't have been a Witch. It didn't match the intelligence and was too weak. So why...

Returning S2U to its card standby form, Chrono removed his Barrier Jacket, looking around warily. This was another odd thing to add to their knowledge of the Magical Girl system and its Witch counterpart. Either that was a ridiculously weak Witch...or Familiars were just as the ones that he was familiar with, such as Arf. That they could operate without their masters, and create magic of their own. Or that the Witch fled when her familiar was destroyed. Regardless of the reason, it was yet more information to work with.

For now though, he wasn't here to gather information. Chrono knelt next to the woman who already had a nasty bump developing on her head. Shaking her slightly, he roused her to consciousness

"Who..." she weakly asked, wide blue eyes staring up at him.

"Chrono Harlaown," the Enforcer replied, "are you okay?"

"Yeah...my head is killing me, but I'm fine," the woman replied, placing a hand on the bump- missing the ever so slightly guilty look cross Chrono's face,

"Where am I?"

"An alley," Chrono answered, pulling the woman to her feet, "I found you back here. Are you sure you're okay miss..."

"Ami Sato. How in the world did I end up back here? The last thing I remember was heading to work..."

The Enforcer nodded slightly, "I don't know how you got back here Miss Sato. Can you walk?"

"I think so," she smiled at him, "Thanks for helping me by the way. Not many men would help instead of taking advantage of me."

Really, he should have been insulted by that insinuation. Instead, Chrono just nodded, letting go of Ami so that she could stand on her own. The woman shook slightly, shaking her head to clear the lingering stars from it. The moment she was secure in her footing, she turned to Chrono and smiled again. She seemed to do that a lot actually, like Amy. Ironic, though this woman looked nothing like her.

"It wasn't a problem," Chrono finally spoke, "if you're sure you're okay, I have somewhere I need to be."

"Okay," Ami nodded back, absently reaching into her purse, "I know it's in here somewhere..."

"What?"

She sent a sheepish look at the Enforcer, "My spare money. I need to pay you back for helping me."

"That isn't necessary. It's my job to help."

"You're a police officer?" Ami blinked, looking him up and down, "You don't look like one."

"It's...something like that, yes," Chrono nodded, "I am serious though, there isn't a need to pay me."

Ami sighed, "If you say so. Well, thank you Mr. Harlaown. If I see you again, I'll be sure to say hello."

With that said, the woman smiled one last time, running a hand through her dirty blonde hair before she set off to...wherever she needed to go. Chrono watched her leave, before sighing softly. His mission wasn't going according to plan, to say the least. At least he had more information on how Witches and Familiars performed. Now if only he could find the Magical Girl that he was supposed to make contact with. With another sigh, the Enforcer left the alley, continuing to search.

Even his sharp eyes failed to note the pair of red points glaring from the shadows of a rooftop however.


"It appears that Familiars are just as capable of managing a barrier as a Witch, Admiral."

"You're certain there wasn't a Witch?"

"Nearly certain, yes. It is possible that the Witch fled when I dispatched the Familiar, but the barrier fell too quickly for that. It is also possible that I fought a weak Witch. But..."

"It seemed too weak."

"Exactly."

Lindy Harlaown sighed, "Well, keep looking for the girl Chrono. We need to make contact with another Magical Girl soon if we want to confirm what Miss Akemi said."

"Yes ma'am."

As her son's face vanished from the holographic screen, Lindy absently poured a cup of tea. She was running on fumes, even with the sugary drink to help keep her going. She hadn't slept well at all the previous night, kept awake by worry over her young Mages. Fate especially...she knew better than anyone bar Nanoha how fragile her daughter still was. She hid it well, but the blonde was still very sensitive. And she didn't take well to things that reminded her of her own past. Something that what Kyubey did would certainly do.

On top of that, Lindy had been consumed by thoughts of how the Magical Girls themselves felt. Young girls, barely into their teens, thrust into a battle they should never have to fight. This wasn't like recruitment drives by the TSAB on administered worlds. These were girls swept up into something they had no existing knowledge of, and forced to fight what would appear to be horrible monsters.

Only to one day succumb and become the very thing they fought.

"Amy?" Lindy asked tiredly.

"Yes Admiral?"

Despite being up as long as her, Amy sounded much more awake.

"Can you connect me to the Infinity Library?"

"Of course! One second..." there was the sound of typing, before Amy's voice came back, "There you are."

"Thank you," the teal-haired woman smiled, before schooling her features into the 'mask of command' as she looked at the familiar boy on her monitor, "I'm sorry for calling so suddenly, but I need you to look something up for me. It is very important."

Yuuno Scrya nodded seriously, glasses covering his green eyes, "It's no problem Admiral Lindy. What do you need me to look up?"

"A being known as Kyubey," Lindy replied, forwarding the data from Raising Heart, "This is all we have on him."

"Hmm...I've never seen something like this before," the archaeologist-turned-librarian muttered, "Are you sure that 'Kyubey' is his real name?"

Lindy sighed softly, "It's all we have."

"Okay. I'll start looking for anything I can find right away. Is there any reason you need information on him?"

"That is a very long story..."

And so, she explained everything she knew so far and suspected about the being known as Kyubey...

Twist of Fate (PMMM/MGLN crossover) (2024)

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