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Lineage Library => Kokoro's Fictions => Topic started by: Kokoro on Sep 22, 2021, 05:48

Title: Chains Of Birth: 01 - "Alone"
Post by: Kokoro on Sep 22, 2021, 05:48
Chains of Birth (Part I of the "Chains of Life" Series)
Chapter One:  "Alone"
Setting:  Aboard the Arthra, Brig
Time:  Wednesday, May 19, 2004 @ 17:35 hours

I stood in the brig of the Arthra as the force-field came to life behind me.  The walls were smooth, steel and grey. A matching toilet with no privacy was in the corner, along with a open shower. A glowing red LED button at eye level, I'm guessing for a bed to slide out, was in the middle of the rear wall.  For the first time in my life, I was truly alone. There had always been somebody with me, especially Arf.  I could feel warm tears threatening as my eyes filled, and blurred my vision. I turned around and stared through the clear energy barrier.  The brig sat empty, no guards, the only sound that filled the room was the buzz of the force-field in front of me.  The lights were dim and I let out a sigh that I wasn't aware I was holding in and then I walked over the opposite corner from the toilet, sat down bringing my knees to my chest and silently allowed the tears welling up in my eyes to fall.

"A-hem."  A male's voice echoed throughout the brig a few minutes later.  I looked up to see Chrono standing at the barrier, with Captain Lindy Harlaown to his right.  I quickly wiped my face with the back of my arm and stood up.  I approached the door.

"Good evening Miss Testarossa.", Lindy said softly with a smile.  "Are you hungry?"

I nodded, still staring at my toes.  I had been stripped of my barrier jacket, and instead wore an oversized grey one-piece suit that appeared as if it would fall off of me if I sneezed.  It was rare that the Brig was used, and hardly for enemies of my stature and age.

"Okay, great."  Miss Lindy said and looked at Chrono.  "Please escort Miss Testarossa to the cafeteria."

"Yes Ma'am."

The force-field disengaged and the buzzing stopped.  Chrono stepped inside the cell and stood next to me, and gently locked my left arm with his right.  Needless to say, I felt a bit uncomfortable.

"Let's go." Chrono said and began walking.  He slowed down when he noticed that I was struggling with my suit.  "Amy's working on something for you."  He smiled.
We walked in silence through the corridors of the Arthra.  After what seemed forever, I finally realized where we were.  The cafeteria.  Miss Lindy took the lead here, and walked up to the counter, picking up three metal trays and handing them to the clerk behind the counter.

"Ah, it's nice to see you actually coming down here to eat, instead of being cooped up in your office, Captain."

"Yes, it is nice to be out and about.  Could you please prepare the evening special for the three of us?"  Lindy replied.

"Of course, Ma'am."  He gazed at me, probably wondering who I am, and why I'm here and not in the Brig.  I felt his eyes scanning my body, and I couldn't help to not blush as I was creeped out.  "Alright, give me a couple of minutes.  Your table is ready, as always."

"Thank you."  Miss Lindy said just as politely as she had been speaking to me, and led us to a round table with a clean white linen cloth draped over it.

Chrono released my arm, and pulled out a chair for me.  I sat down on the chair, and he lifted up the back and pushed me closer to the table.  I wasn't prepared for this, and squeaked loudly.

"Eek!"

I noticed that everyone in the cafeteria was staring at me.  I bowed my head and sunk into my chair.

"Oh, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to surprise you..."

I turned to see him sitting down, with a slight blush on his face.

"M-Miss Lindy?", I looked up at her and noticed she was smiling.

"Yes?"

"Um... Why... am I here... and not in--?"

"—Why you're not in the brig?"  Miss Lindy smiled.  "Because I wanted to talk with you, and get to know you a little better."

"Is-Isn't everything in my file?"  I asked.

"Certainly not.", she replied and patted my head, "Actually, we don't really know much about you, and I'm sure you have some incredible stories to share."

"I don't have any." I replied, staring down at the table.

"Of course you do, Miss Testarossa."  Miss Lindy said, as she got up and knelt down next to me.  "Everybody has a story.  And so do you."

"Hmph.  My life isn't mine.  I'm only a fake, and a failure.  My mother despised me!"

"That's not true."  Miss Lindy said firmly and wrapped her arm around my back. "You're not a failure, and certainly not a fake, Miss Testarossa—"

"STOP CALLING ME THAT!"  I immediately wish I could have taken that back.  All the background chatter had stopped.  I heard somebody cough somewhere in the room.  I looked around and saw everybody was staring at me, and somehow, I was now standing. 

"Ah.  I'm sorry."  I sat back down and tears stung in my eyes.  That's it.  I was going back to the brig, and Miss Lindy "would... hate... me..., and I *sniff*..."

"Oh, Fate, we don't hate you."  Miss Lindy said softly.

"Ah!  Y-You heard ... that?"

"Yes. We did, Fate."  Chrono said quietly, slightly embarrassed.

"Ah, here's a Captain's meal, if I ever did see one." The clerk had personally delivered our food.

"Thank you."  Miss Lindy said, and turned her attention back to me.  "Let's eat a delicious dinner together now, okay?"

There was all kinds of foods that I wasn't used to.  I saw buttery mashed potatoes, leafy greens with carrots, tomatoes, and other green vegetables.  I had never had a tomato before.  In the center of my tray was a slab of meat, and a dark reddish sauce next to it in a tiny bowl.  Mushrooms and onions were placed to the side.  A rotary of sauces sat in the middle of the table, along with a loaf of freshly baked bread, and in a corner of my tray was a tall glass of, is that orange juice?  I noticed there weren't any chopsticks, but a set of utensils wrapped in a thick white cloth.  I glanced over at Chrono, who was cutting the meat into bite-sized squares.  Miss Lindy was mixing her greens and pouring a creamy sauce over them in a circle.
I took a piece of the meat and tried it.  Oh!  It was so juicy and it melted in my mouth.  I felt a smile on my face, and quickly took another bite.

"My, Fate.  You're really hungry aren't you?"  Miss Lindy said.  I looked up at her with a bite in my mouth and she was smiling broadly.

"Yes."  I said, and noticed that Miss Lindy had the mushrooms and onions on top of her steak, however, she was cutting her steak as she was eating it.  I took a mushroom, onion, and a piece of steak and tried that.

"Wow!", I said.  The flavors popped in my mouth, it felt like life itself.  Tangy and familiar, like a beef-filled rice ball.  Both Miss Lindy and Chrono seemed amused, and chuckled.

"I've made up my mind." Miss Lindy said and tapped a bracelet on her arm.  "Miss Amy, would you kindly report to room Alpha-Three with the datapad sitting on my desk, in thirty minutes please?"

"A-3?"

"Yes."

"Acknowledged, Ma'am."

Miss Lindy took their time eating, while I seemed like I was rushing.  I felt like this wonderful food would be taken away as quickly as it arrived, and I was determined not to waste any of it.

"Chrono, what research have you gathered so far on Fate's case?"  Miss Lindy asked.

"Not much, I'm afraid.  There's only the interviews I've had with Nanoha, Yuuno, and Arf, as well as the recorded videos of Nanoha and Fate in combat and of Percia herself admitting her feelings toward Fate." He said.

"I don't think we should include the combat recordings.  I feel it would bring a shadow against Fate's motivations."

"Well, hopefully after tonight, we may gain more insight about the relationships Fate has had growing up."  Chrono said.  Miss Lindy glared at him.  "Oh, um.  I'm sorry."

Lindy sighed.

"It's okay, Chrono.  She looked at me.  After a moment, so did Chrono.

"Um, well, I guess you already know about Arf, and Nanoha..." I said.

"Yes.  We were hoping to learn about how your mother treated you before her... speech a few days ago."  Chrono said plainly.

"Although, perhaps this isn't the best place to discuss such topics.  Shall we go?"  Miss Lindy said with a glean in her eyes and stood up.

Chrono and I followed her lead and Chrono helped me up, and again, locked his arm around mine and we followed Miss Lindy down another set of corridors, we finally came to a door where Miss Lindy stopped.  She pushed a button and spoke.

"Miss Amy, is everything ready?"

"Ah, Captain, yes!  I thought you'd never get done with dinner." She replied.

"Captain?"  Chrono asked.

A moment later, the door slid open automatically and we walked into the room.  There were several people inside, Miss Amy was the only one I recognized, with a beaming smile on her face.

"Welcome to room Alpha-Three!"  Miss Amy said.  "Check it out!"
I looked around the room, along with Chrono and Miss Lindy.

"Why is it pink?"  Chrono blurted out.

Indeed, the room was covered in pink.  There was a very large bed with so many pillows on it, up against one wall with a large white curtain-tied window behind it.  Next to the bed was a small table with a flat control panel.  I turned right, to see two closed doors, and to the right of them were two large white dressers, one with a large mirror and several lights surrounding the frame.  The door behind us slid shut, and I noticed a reflection of myself wearing the grey suit from head to toe.  On the other side of the door, was a few comfortable looking seats and a couch with a low, long table between them.  A soft yellow light shined down on them.  Over in the final corner of the room, sat a large L-shaped desk with empty book shelves, and a high-backed chair with another yellow light shining down on it.

"Because I talked to Nanoha, and asked her how she would design a room for Fate, and this is the result."  Miss Lindy said.

"It's the best I could do.  Oh! and don't forget this.  Nanoha insisted that you have it."  Miss Amy said, handing me a moderately sized stuffed dog.

I studied it and was at a loss, and looked up to Miss Amy.

"Nanoha said that this is your first present from her.  'Every girl needs a stuffed animal', she said." Miss Amy answered.

I looked back down at the soft dog, and tears welled up in my eyes.  I squeezed it closely to my chest.  Oh, Nanoha... I miss you already.

"Come have a seat."  Miss Lindy directed me over to one of the chairs.  It was really cozy and soft.  Most of the other's left the room.  It was only Miss Lindy, Chrono, Miss Amy, and myself who remained.

"You did an amazing job, Amy."

"Thank you, Captain.  The pictures that Nanoha provided really helped." Amy paused and glanced at me. "I think Fate is going to love her new room!"

"Huh—Wha?" I looked at Miss Lindy.

"Yes, Fate.  This is your room.  You and Arf won't be spending any more time in the brig."  Miss Lindy replied.

"Oh... Thank you!!"  I jumped over and hugged Miss Lindy.  Chrono and Miss Amy both looked at each other and laughed.

"I—is it okay for me to come out now?"  Arf said.
I looked around Miss Lindy's shoulder and saw my dear, Arf peaking her head out of one of the doors that was shut.

"Oh, yes." Miss Lindy said, embarrassed.  "Yes, sorry, Arf."

"Fate!"  Arf said, walking over toward me with her arms open and a giant smile on her face.

"Arf!!", Miss Lindy let me go, and I nearly leapt into Arf's arms. "I'm so glad to see you again!"

"So am I, Fate.  Everything is going to be much better now."  Arf said.

"Yes, it will be.  I wanted you both to relax as much as possible before the trial." Miss Lindy said.

"Mo—Captain,"  Chrono said, catching himself. "How?  Fate and Arf are prisoners, they aren't allowed to roam the ship freely."

"Yes, about that.  I suggest that we all have a seat. I have an announcement to make.

We all walked back to the chairs and couches.  Miss Lindy let Arf and I sit on the couch.  Miss Lindy remained standing, with a smile on her face.

"I had a conference with Admiral Lowran and a few other Admirals at Head Quarters.  I filed a motion for guardianship over Fate and Arf, seeing as they are both minors and have no other known family members who could take them in."

Miss Lindy paused and looked around at each of us.  I felt tears filling in my eyes already, and Arf must have sensed it, because she wrapped an arm around me.  Chrono looked like he was shocked, and was about to make a comment, when Miss Lindy raised her palm in front of her towards Chrono.

"Furthermore, now is a critical time for both Fate and Arf to heal from the tremendous abusive trauma that Percia had put them through.  Being placed in a more relaxed environment could allow that healing to work faster, and therefore, easier to collect further truth from the victims of this atrocity.  After a long conversation, the Administration agreed with my argument, and agreed, that since I will be taking Fate and Arf into my personal care, that it would make more sense to have both of them closer to their guardian."

Miss Lindy took another breath.  I was already crying silently.  I felt relieved that Arf and I wouldn't be alone anymore.  Chrono glanced over at me and smiled, while Miss Amy was already beside herself with excitement.

"However,"  Miss Lindy looked right at me, "Fate, this means that you will obey everything that I or any of my Crew directs you to do.  As part of your transfer into the Time and Space Administration Bureau, you will begin training under the guidance of Enforcer Chrono, and at the conclusion of a positive outcome of this trial, you shall become a Part Time mage for us."

"Yes ma'am."  I replied.

"Why more training.  She's done that since she was born."  Arf said. "Doesn't she deserve a break?  Time to be a normal child, and how to learn to be one?"

"Yes, Arf.  Those are indeed very good points you make.  I have considered these points.  And the Administration agrees with you, but with this condition."  Miss Lindy said, and then walked over to me and knelt down to eye level with me.  "Fate, the Bureau simply doesn't trust you yet.  They haven't met you, like we have.  They do, however, see great potential in you, as well as with Nanoha.  Therefore, Admiral Lowran personally mandated the enlistment of both you and Nanoha into the Bureau.  The two of you are simply too dangerous being untrained, and undisciplined as you are."

"Isn't that great, Fate?" Arf said, "It already looks like we may be cleared—"

"It's not that simple, Arf."  Miss Lindy said. "That's the condition if you are cleared.  Otherwise, you're both looking at a significant amount of prison time.  Years, perhaps decades.  All of us in this room, know that your mother is to blame for this mess, however, as it was you and you," She looked at me and Arf, "that were doing these actions, ultimately you two are being held responsible."

"Fate didn't understand what she was doing.  All she knew is that she wanted to help her mother—"  Arf said.

"Yes, Arf, we all know that.  Fate, is a bit naïve, and that's not her fault.  That's our intention to prove that her mother coerced her to do these things."  Chrono said.  He looked into my eyes and said, "Fate.  We're all fighting for you.  I see why the Captain has set all of this up now."

"All you need to do is rest, relax, and just answer our questions as best you can.  The more you can tell us, the better we can do our jobs to save you from this mess." Miss Amy said.

"Okay. I will."  I said.

"I understand that this will probably not be easy for you, Fate. You suffered greatly, and I'll arrange for any additional therapy that you require.  Okay?"

"Yes, Miss Lindy."  I replied.

"Now, " Miss Lindy stood up."  Shall we let Fate have some time to clean up?"
That was a rhetorical question.  Everybody stood up, with the exception of Arf and I and quietly left the room.

"Fate, be sure to get some good sleep.  I'll page you in the morning."  Miss Lindy said and the door slid shut.  Arf looked at me and smiled. 

"Let's get you out of that ridiculous suit.  And just wait until you try the bath!  It's amazing."

She took my arm and guided me into the room she came out of and a soft light flickered to life.  The door slid shut behind me.