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Fanfic / In the Service

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"You are a monster, dear Signum. Far more than I could ever be. You simply must admit that."
Jail Scaligetti, Monsters

A Lyrical Nanoha story and its spinoffs Monsters and A Numbered Existence by Night.

In the post StrikerS world, the Bureau has a lot of cleanup to do, and it's left to the little people to do it with help from the series' main characters where possible. At least until someone starts unleashing Wolkenritter clones. From there, things go progressively downhill until the Bureau finds itself at war against a group that identifies itself as the old Belkan Empire, whom the Bureau dubs New Belka.

In The Service, the main story, covers these events while using lesser mages (and original characters), mainly a Navy mage named Samuel al-Faddil, as a means of interacting with and exploring the main characters with a strong emphasis on the Wolkenritter. A Numbered Existence tells the stories of Jail's Numbers, exploring their characters and their efforts to adapt (or not) to society...except when it starts talking about what it's like to be a Huckebein for a bit. Many A Numbered Existence chapters are standalone, but an equal number related directly or indirectly to In The Service. Monsters, actually written first of them all, is an introduction to why making Wolkenritter angry is a Very Bad Idea but actually ties in with events partway through In The Service.

The set of stories is finished.

In the Service provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: The usual suspects from canon, and Uno. Yes, Uno, who uses the logical extension of her IS to hack people’s Devices and make them explode. She is also still a Combat Cyborg and personally killed two people during the boarding of the New Belkan ship Invincible.
  • A Mother To Her Wolkenritter: Hayate explicitly views the Wolkenritter as her children. She also operates on the explicit belief that she must protect her people, as they are the Bureau's only real hope to fight off the Other-Wolkenritter. Hayate grounds a combat-fatigued Fate and keeps Caro from full contact with the horror of what their opponents do.
    • Genya Nakajima, in deliberate contrast to other Bureau leaders, is described as fatherly and is always ready to place absolute faith in his subordinates.
  • The Alcatraz: Orbital Penal Complexes. Prisoners are separated from direct human contact unless they require medical attention; conversation is by hologram. Each individual cell is a self-contained unit that has its own power, air recycling, and water recycling systems, as well as no actual physical entrance or exit; prisoners are teleported in and out, as is their food or any other physical object. They are reserved for people who are considered to pose a continuing danger to the safety of others. Release is possible, usually after intensive therapy, but far from certain.
  • The Aloner: Last Post Station is an Orbital Penal Complex on steroids, explicitly designed so that prisoners will never see another living being or hear their voice; they're knocked out with gas dispensers in their cell's air systems and then kept sedated if it's ever required to directly interact with them, and they're not permitted indirect interactions like holograms or even letters. Last Post is kept as the ultimate option for people who cannot possibly be rehabilitated.
    • Unlike the Orbital Penal Complexes, prisoners know which wall of their cell is the one facing the main complex because they can have a holographic projection of the outside of their cell at any time. This is done to demonstrate that Last Post, situated far out between a pair of galactic arms, is literally as far from any bright and kind place as the Bureau can remove someone.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Samuel's device, Steelheart, comes down to him from his grandfather and is around 70 years old.
    • Wahrheit, Vivio's Intelligent Device, belonged to the Sankt Kaiser. It is the oldest physical Device currently in active use at over 100 years of age.
  • And I Must Scream: Veyron's sentiments are like this. He hates the Eclipse for having taken his sight and now for the fact it wants him to do things he knows will get him killed. But he can only not do what it wants, not get rid of it or even talk about it to someone; Arnage wouldn't understand.
  • And Zoidberg: “Four adults plus Vita” is used to describe the occupancy of the Yagami residence. She's just as old as the other Wolkenritter, though.
  • Artificial Human: Played relatively up from canon in that the trope is explored rather than merely referenced. Numerous differences and improvements from regular humans are noted, used, and remarked upon for Wolkenritter and Combat Cyborgs. The canon's assertion that Artificial Humans are still definitely people is agreed with, however.
  • Badass Boast: Chrono Harlaown. “I am an admiral, and this is a ship of war. On this ship, I am god.”
    • An Immortal Order Signum. “We are the Immortal Order. Defeat is temporary. Death is meaningless.”
    • Signum, in Monsters. “I am a Wolkenritter. Hell followed in my footsteps once. I am nightmare, I am hatred, I am rage and the death of worlds.”
      • “You think you are a monster? You think your infantile efforts are any comparison to what I have done? I have ten thousand years of practice at being malevolent, Scaligetti. I am a monster, to be sure. So terrible no human mind, not even yours, can comprehend. Now say you understand.”
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Cinque to Deville demonstrating that AMF works on Huckebein too. His blade can still cut her skin and muscle, but not her cyborg components.
    • Samuel plays with it after Combat Cyborg enhancement. He really meant to jam Levantine's cartridge mechanism with his fingers, but it does give him a hand on the blade to redirect it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Taken to extremes in a way only the Wolkenritter could in the Monsters side-story.
    • Uno, from her first appearance in A Numbered Existence through all her activities following Jail's escape from prison in In The Service and up to her verbal smackdown of Quattro during "Family Reunion" back in A Numbered Existence, is a walking talking demonstration of the axiom "Beware the fury of a patient man."
  • Broken Pedestal: Implied for some of the Combat Cyborgs (Tre), illustrated in action for others (Sette, Uno), remains stubbornly unbroken for yet more (Otto, Sein). Jail seems to be trying to make what amends he can.
  • BFS: Vivio's Intelligent Device belonged to Olivie, and is explicitly in the same style as Levantine. This makes it rather outsized for her.
  • Car Fu: Mages may be resistant or even immune to the sort of guns found on a Bradley, but they go squish like anybody else when run over by an armored vehicle.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Used in two different ways during the fourteenth chapter, with Chrono realizing he doesn't have a choice except to send his small force of flight mages on what could easily be a suicide mission, and Samuel holding his emotions in after his team is cut to pieces boarding the Invincible.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Quoth Tre: "Jail knows something."
  • Colonel Badass: Hayate, of course. Genya Nakajima hasn't yet gotten a chance to show off, being new to his Colonelcy.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Pretty much everyone, though to varying degrees. Samuel is notorious for this and makes Hayate livid at one point by doing so against Vita, practicing a full-contact style of fencing that turns his singlehanded and relatively short blade into an advantage. Vita at the opposite end of the spectrum would like to do that sort of thing, but lacks the reach and the weight.
  • Comm Links: Over and above Devices, the Navy uses small radio earpieces for all their Mages for instant communication without the effort of magic-based holograms. Unaddressed comments go on the team frequency unless they're a response; addressed ones go to the addressee only. Combat Cyborgs have radio implants.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Used in a minor way; Samuel can be somewhat philosophical about the nature of soldiering, usually to Tre.
    • The Wolkenritter are meant to demonstrate the residue of considerable contemplation of their navels, a result of being ten thousand years old, but they don't do it on-screen.
  • Continuity Nod: “Just as well, Signum killed the last guy who saw her with her hair down.” Poor Zest…
  • Criminal Mindgames: Backfires spectacularly in Monsters.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Most combatants in the setting treat Wolkenritter as if they're playing this straight, a lesson learned by bitter experience. Wolkenritter can and frequently do No-Sell anything that doesn't take off their head or blow a massive hole in their torso.
    • Combat Cyborgs have an inborn tendency to act like this trope applies to everyone just to make sure; give a Combat Cyborg a blade and they will keep stabbing someone as long as that person is roughly vertical, often resulting in five or six wounds where only one was actually needed.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Subverted. Cyborg conversion doesn't change someone; it makes them more of what they were. For most people who are converted while mentally healthy, it makes them extremely psychologically resilient, and they quickly bounce back from stress. For someone converted with a neurosis or simply a strong pessimistic streak, however, cumulative exposure to stress will render them catatonic eventually (or quite soon if the stress is extreme; most don't make it through a combat situation). It is currently unknown if they can recover or be treated.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Navy mage’s standardized Barrier Jackets are black longcoats like Chrono wore in the first two seasons. Uno even remarks on how intimidating they are. New Belkan uniforms are white, and described as nonthreatening.
  • Dynamic Entry: Flight mages in a city find your concept that “walls, floors, and ceilings block movement” to be...amusing.
    • Sein snaps necks through walls.
  • Insistent Terminology: Samuel refers to the Wolkenritter as “Dame” (or “Sir” in Zafira’s case) and name, rather than by their rank and name, a reference to their knighthood.
  • Death Is Cheap: The Other-Wolkenritter cannot be killed permanently, but fortunately their location for “respawn” is fixed and apparently very far from the actual battlefields.
  • Dream Team: Invoked by the in-story nickname for Hayate's anti-Wolkenritter task force.
    • Chrono rebuilds Samuel's Team 70 into the Navy's Dream Team, particularly by adding Tre and Sette to it. The team slowly turns into the prototype for Navy's use of Combat Cyborgs as a unit after Samuel volunteers for conversion following injuries sustained in action.
    • Ground Forces groups its Combat Cyborgs together as SPAT, Special Personnel And Tactics.
  • Elsewhere Fic / Alternate Universe Fic: The basic premise to start is very much that of an Elsewhere Fic, with the main characters being thin on the ground for the first few chapters. The events of Soundstage X played out offscreen for In The Service but onscreen (with additions) for A Numbered Existence. However Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid is unlikely to look anything like normal considering Vivio's new sword (though references to Einheart have been made), and Force is totally derailed: Isis Eaglet's a Combat Cyborg, Thoma Avenir's big sister figure is Sette rather than Subaru. The Huckebein appeared early to try and beat the Bureau before it shifted to a war footing, but lost: most of them were killed by the Numbers, with Arnage and Veyron alive and in hiding.
  • Evil Twin: The Other-Wolkenritter and the Immortal Order-Wolkenritter, for the real ones. Not quite as powerful as the real deal, they are respectively psychotic and sociopathic.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: We never hear the line itself, since we hear about the situation after it happened; but when Samuel is about to be killed by a Signum clone, she demands to know how he killed one of her "lesser sisters." Samuel recounts to Signum that he told the clone that he cheated, in an attempt to make her angry.
  • Five Rounds Rapid with a side order of Shooting Superman: Handheld firearms will fail to harm most mages, unless applied in numbers too large to actually carry out. The trope is ultimately averted, however, because after that it's stepped up to shoulder-fired rockets.
    • There are minor notes that shooting them is actually effective on basic physics; Otto at one point in A Numbered Existence is reduced to crawling because she cannot stand from all the rounds hitting her.
      • Note, however, that Otto was being engaged with dual automatic Belkan-era anti-tank guns, courtesy of a Marriage-resurrected Due.
    • The Huckebein find that shooting Combat Cyborgs is not an effective method of stopping someone with armor plate beneath the skin.
  • Gender Is No Object: Inherited from the canon, but played way, way up. The Bureau has been gender-integrated for longer than it's actually existed, with its integration going back to organizations before it. Gender integration issues faced by Earthly militaries simply do not exist for the Bureau.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Wolkenritter, both real and fake, qualify for the trope. Trying to out-tactics them is a common response since they’re some of the toughest and most capable combat mages in the universe. (Brute force approaches are usually more effective however.) Something similar happens with Chrono, who’s less of a bruiser but far more of a genius and beats up god-killing abominations on occasion.
  • Good Costume Switch: Sette and Tre adopt Navy mage uniforms. However, see Dark Is Not Evil...
    • The younger Nakajima sisters have officially adopted Ground Forces' baggy utility outfits; Uno has a similar outfit in white and gold as her Barrier Jacket.
  • Gunship Rescue: The cruiser Nemesis turns up to rescue Signum from a few hundred New Belkans.
    • Sette is saved from one of the Signum clones by the Shaula.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Invoked. Tre and Sette can actually “hear” a dimensional dislocation, via their radio implants. It's not pleasant; Sette actually tears her radio implants out to make it stop.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Wolkenritter. Hey, Eldritch Abominations are people too! The Immortal Order-Wolkenritter and Other-Reinforce qualify more clearly. Drei, though, is far too cuddly.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Al-Faddil's trademark finisher when using lethal force is to stab someone, then fire off an attack spell inside them. Even Psycho!Wolkenritter die instantly to that.
  • Knight Templar: Signum and Vita react in a very Knight Templar fashion to their Evil Twins. Vita goes absolutely berserk and will do whatever she thinks necessary to kill her twin(s). Signum attacks in a more controlled manner, but has expressed her sentiments to Hayate and others, most recently by comparing killing them to putting down a diseased dog.
    • From Bad to Worse: Signum straight-up lost it and strangled one of her twins to death. At least a half-dozen other characters call her out on why this was an intensely stupid thing to do.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: To varying degrees. The Bureau knows better than to pick a fight where Rogue Wolkenritter can be teleported in as a backup at will. A group of Church Knights, faced with a Reinforce clone that decides to be intransigent, decide there's really no point to continuing their mission because they won't accomplish anything of value.
  • Magnetic Weapons: New Belkan mages almost uniformly lack distance attacks. Supporting fire is instead provided by crew-served railguns.
    • The Combat Railgun Carbine Model 9, is a personal weapon maintained by the Bureau in case they're ever required to send troops into an environment where magic is ineffective. They're ultimately used on the Huckebein, exploiting their vulnerability to direct physical effects.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Eagle, Earth's first warship, fights this way. Its first combat is against the Huckebein's starship, where it spams a hundred nuclear-tipped missiles. This was only a third of its armament.
  • Mindlink Mates: Discussed and strongly averted. Signum claims this is why inter-Wolkenritter relationships don’t work: the feedback from their link to each other causes it to be unpleasant, and something about direct physical contact prevents them from clamping down on the link such as they can in any other situation. Two Wolkenritter in skin-to-skin contact are no longer individuals in any meaningful sense and that frightens them.
  • The Mole: Jail apparently had a quite a few of them. Including two heads of Ground Forces. Hayate expresses her frustration thusly:
    "Where did Ground Forces get these people? How did nobody stop them when they were majors or lieutenants or something? Who was sleeping through their evaluation boards?"
  • Must Make Amends: The Wolkenritter. Signum in particular expresses happiness about her renewed immortality because that makes it much more possible for her to make amends.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Vita kills what the author outright admits is a Material-S reference early in the story.
    • Isis Eaglet is currently a Combat Cyborg.
    • Uno talks to Signum about a world called Lamia, explicitly referring to it as “The loveless place.”
    • Arnage and Veyron run into a Rogue Wolkenritter. Veyron thinks Other-Signum would have totally been BFF with Cypha.
  • Mundane Utility: The Wolkenritter get in on this a lot.
    • Aside from the obvious one of transportation, flight magic can also be used for simple levitation in any situation where one does not wish to disturb the ground; one chapter mentions it's standard procedure for Bureau flight mages going into an area that might have pressure-sensitive traps.
    • Levantine can be used to start fires.
    • Levantine can also be used to cauterize wounds. Monsters demonstrates this in action in the most horrible way possible.
    • Telepathic contact, which is usually prized for its ability to speak over long distances in the canon, is mainly used for privacy in the story.
  • No-Sell: Stabbing them only makes Wolkenritter mad. Vita shrugged off a stab through the heart, while one of the Signum clones ignored repeatedly having their chest run through.
    • Tre and Uno, and probably anyone whose cybernetics design is based off of Tre's, can turn off their pain receptors. Uno demonstrates by continuing to function perfectly normally despite the fact her forearm is visibly broken.
    • After the seal is broken, Drei is functionally immune to everything. She got run through with Arnage's Divider to break it, then blocked a second swing with her Barrier Jacket, even though that should be completely impossible. In Chapter 32, her response to a squad of Church Knights from one faction who want to take Vivio is basically amusement.
      • There are multiple notes in the text in general that only combat starships can reliably take on a Reinforce. Chrono has killed one but doesn't think it will work again, and Nanoha actually got up in the face of one and beat it up (but didn't kill it), but in general the Bureau doesn't even think about sending less than a cruiser after them.
  • No Ending: "Samuel's story is essentially over, and with it any way to use him to explore the canon characters that does not feel forced. Who lives and who dies, in the end? I don't know. I don't really feel I should."
  • No One Gets Left Behind: The Bureau nominally averts this. But the Navy, at least, tends to get the benefit of the best of both worlds: when someone is too wounded to continue the fight then the team leader will call for them to be recovered by teleport and press on.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Exists and is referenced in-universe. Hayate finds New Belka’s casual use of nuclear arms utterly horrific, being Japanese. Most of the Bureau characters express horror and disgust at the use of weapons of mass destruction in general. The sections involving Earth, by contrast, avert this: nukes are all they have to fight things like a starship.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Some characters swear by the Sankt Kaiser.
  • Portal Cut: Shamal's evil twins have developed this into an offensive art form, and several times attempt to portal people into several pieces.
  • Power Degeneration: Combat Cyborging requires not only cybernetics, but genetic and biological enhancement so that the body can stand up to what the cybernetics can do. Receiving only the cybernetics means that a human has months, at best, to live. Even if they are later given the bioenhancement to go with the technology, the damage is permanent. The one living example discussed in the story was cyborged at age ten and isn't expected to live to see forty despite the Bureau's best efforts.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: Combat Cyborgs, generally.
    • The Wolkenritter.
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: Steelheart's Deathblow function creates a small dimensional cataclysm. This is about as dangerous and uncontrollable as it sounds.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The early 2011 events of the Middle East protests and the Sendai Earthquake coupled with the threatened nuclear reactors just now happened under the TSAB's watch. It's implied the Arab Spring was considerably worse because some of the involved countries denied the existence of the Bureau and Belkans even after the Belkan attack on the Bureau Embassy in New York.
  • Reporting Names: For the Wolkenritter clones; Shamals are "Rippers", Reinforce are "Godling", while the other three use obvious nicknames. "Swords" for Signums, "Hammerer" for Vitas, and "Wolf" for Zafiras.
    • Combat Cyborgs are sometimes called "Gizmos" as a play on Jail's other main contribution to warfare, the Gadget drones.
  • Scars are Forever: Explicitly averted. Bureau medical technology giggles at the concept of permanent scarring, and the Wolkenritter simply don't.
  • Shout-Out
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The story is a reaction to the more common NanoFate fluff.
  • Strange Salute: The salute of a Belkan Knight to another Knight; right hand fist, palm inward above the heart. If the salute-r has a weapon on their person, they should be holding it in their right fist.
    • The Bureau's salute is never described, so it's unknown what they do.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Heavily played with. In classic Nanoha fashion, the Other-Wolkenritter like to talk a bit. In decidedly unclassic fashion, nobody is actually listening and they’re either letting the Talkative Loon talk for the hell of it or they’re buying time for more serious firepower to arrive.
  • Technically a Smile: Signum has apparently mastered this, to the point she can make small children cry and hardened soldiers uncomfortable.
  • Tele-Frag: Yuuno tends to deal with Wolkenritter opponents by teleporting them into solid objects.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Samuel suffers severe injuries, costing him a foot and several of his fingers. Jail decides to save the day, offering the Bureau the techniques and technologies behind Combat Cyborg construction...but only if they're tested first by rebuilding Samuel. Jail offers a number of explanations for it. No one appears to buy any of them individually, but all together they seem convincing.
    • Now in full effect. The Bureau has over fifty Combat Cyborgs.
  • We Have Reserves: Averted by the Bureau. They don't have reserves, both on a tactical and strategic scale. Tactically, losing any member of their anti-Wolkenritter team is crippling, as they cannot be replaced. Strategically, the Bureau has only three thousand flight mages and no way to replace serious casualties.
    • Played straight in New Belka's use of their Wolkenritter clones, primarily because they don't die with permanency.
  • Wham Episode:
    • In The Service
      • "Home Front": The Other-Wolkenritter attack Midchilda, triggering a lot of things.
      • "Invasion": The New Belkans put in their first appearance.
    • A Numbered Existence
      • "What We Were Born To Do": Force goes irredeemably Off the Rails.
      • "Otto: Of Children And Monsters": Hey guys? Sankt Kaiser Olivie's not dead.
  • Worthy Opponent: Discussed by Signum; her evil twins appear to actively try and develop them, most notably through Samuel. He does not share the sentiment.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Strongly averted throughout the story. The Navy enlists combat mages at 12 and sends to active duty at 13. Several of Jail's second-generation Combat Cyborgs are children and two of them are killed by Tre.
  • Vehicular Theme Naming: You can tell who comes from a Midchildan family and who comes from a Belkan family by whether their last name is this or German.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Averted and discussed as to why it's a bad plan. "Wars are won by offensive action."