The Next Ace of Aces

Chapter 2

Hmm, seems some people are interested in how this all plays out. Well hopefully we'll keep things rolling in this chapter. As you all know Naruto and Nanoha aren't owned by me! Also keep look out at the end of the chapter. I'll add some information about various Devices and characters from the Nanoha series for those who may not know much about them.

Chapter 2

A few days passed and Hinata was slowly recovering at the hospital. She was very surprised when her father Hiashi arrived to check on her, and shocked to hear that he would be training her in preparation for the Chuunin Finals. She still had no clue who she was facing as her father simply said he would be supervising her training. Even though it wasn't much, she did see a very faint smile on his face once, possibly hinting that maybe he was proud of what she had done. Since she was recovering she had limited visitors, but one person decided to make his presence known to her.

"Heya Hinata! How are ya?" Naruto entered her room with a huge grin as normal.

"N-N-Naruto! What are you d-d-doing here?" Hinata immediately blushed upon seeing her crush, but was happy that he came to see her.

"Well I wanted to come and check on you after your match, but the doctors said I had to wait. But I had to come congratulate you." Naruto said as he sat beside her. "You were so awesome out there! The way you laid out Neji was amazing!"

"You r-r-really think so? I didn't think I was that good." She replied softly.

"Are you kidding? The way you stood up against Neji was great! I knew you wouldn't let him bully you like that." Naruto praised her. She felt her spirits rise from his compliments. "I just hope I can be a good match for you."

"Y-y-you? I have to…face you?" Hinata couldn't believe what she heard.

"Oh yeah, you weren't there when we had to pick our opponents for the next match. You and I are facing each other in the first match. Shino's facing that black suit wearing guy from Suna, Shikamaru's facing his sister, and Sasuke-teme's fighting that Gaara dude." Naruto explained the matches. "Your name was the last one picked and I didn't have an opponent."

"How can I fight Naruto-kun? There's no way I can do that!" Hinata was shaking over the thought of having to fight Naruto.

"But after the way you laid out Neji, I have to say I'm a little worried. I might not be able to beat you. But I plan to give it everything I have!" Naruto said. "All I ask is that you give me your all Hinata."

"You r-r-really think we'll have a good match?" She was still confused and nervous about her fight.

"You kidding? We're gonna have that stadium going nuts! You better believe it!" Naruto gave a big thumbs up. "And no matter what happens, we're still gonna be good buddies! So what do ya say?"

"He believes in me. He really thinks I can give him a good match!" Hinata felt her confidence rise from Naruto's words. She knew that if she didn't give it her all, it would disappoint him and that was one thing she didn't want to do. "Very well. I promise I'll give it my all."

Naruto just smiled as he stood up and headed for the door. "That's awesome. You know what Hinata, you're pretty cool. I like people like you. They make me want to try harder to get stronger." With that he left the room, leaving Hinata to herself.

"Naruto-kun…thinks I'm cool?" She immediately went red faced before passing out with a large smile on her face. As she slept, she remembered the day that she first met Naruto so many years ago.

(Flashback)

A five year old Hinata had been at the park playing when some older boys came around and decided to pick on her.

"Hey look at the freaky girl!" one boy taunted. "Look at her eyes!"

"Yeah only a freak would have eyes that freaky!" another boy joined in and laughed as well.

"N-n-nothing's wrong with m-my eyes." Hinata stuttered out. "Everyone in my f-f-family has them."

"Well then everyone in your family is a freak!" the first boy pushed Hinata to the ground and kept laughing as she started tearing up.

"Why are y-y-you picking on me? I didn't d-d-do anything to you?" Hinata cried out.

"You're a freak and we don't like freaks, got it!" The boys continued to throw taunts at Hinata and all she could do was cry. Luckily her taunts would soon end.

"Back off!" shouted another boy as he tackled one of the taunters. "Leave her alone!"

"Hey kid who are…we gotta get outta here!" the tackled boy suddenly turned to his friends and they all ran. "It's the demon, he's gonna get us!"

The other boys took off running as Hinata was still curled up crying. The boy that got rid of them soon kneeled down to talk to her. "Hey are you ok?"

Hinata looked up to see a blonde haired boy with blue eyes and a big smile. She even noticed the whisker shaped marks on his face as well. "I-I-I'm ok." She saw his hand extended and took hold of it as he pulled her up.

"Those kids were just a bunch of bullies. You should be ok now." The boy said as Hinata dusted herself off. "Hey you know something; your eyes are really pretty."

Hinata blushed upon hearing the compliment, "You r-r-really think so?"

"Yeah. Hey my name's Naruto Uzumaki, what's yours?" Naruto introduced himself.

"It's Hinata…Hinata Hyuuga." Hinata finished wiping the tears from her eyes.

"Your name's pretty too. Hold on a minute." Naruto started rustling through his pockets until he pulled out a blue crystal. "Here, take this. I think you girls like things like this, right?"

"It's beautiful. B-b-but why are you giving it to me?" Hinata asked shyly.

"It's 'cuz we're friends." Naruto said with a smile. However he soon heard adults coming and knew he had to go. "Hey look, I gotta run. Hope to see ya again!" Naruto quickly put the stone in Hinata's hands and took off running. He didn't notice the blush on Hinata's face.

Meanwhile Hinata looked at the blue crystal stone she just got from her new friend. "Thank you Naruto."

(End Flashback)

"Master? Are you sleeping?"

"Huh? Master? Me?"

"You haven't forgotten about me have you?"

"Forgotten…wait, you're Mach Caliber, my partner, right? Sorry if I forgot. I have a lot on my mind." Hinata had hoped not to offend the voice or whatever it was. "I'm still unsure why you picked me as a partner. I don't even know what you are."

"I am your Device. If you notice the crystal charm around your neck, you'll see my standby form." In her mind Hinata could see herself and saw the charm around her neck, the same one Naruto gave her.

"You're the gift that Naruto-kun gave me? Does he know what you are?"

"No he does not. But I sense that he may be able to hear me someday when he meets his own partner device."

"Oh ok. Um, Mach Caliber, can I ask you something? How did you help me win my match against Neji-nii-san? I felt like I couldn't control my body. Wait, maybe we should start with how you were created. It will help me some."

"Very well Master. I will begin."

"Please, you do not have to be so formal. Please call me Hinata."

"Very well…Hinata." Mach Caliber was a little reluctant not to call Hinata "Master", but it obeyed orders as it explained how it was created and everything from the past.

"You're over 10,000 years old? Um also if it is ok…I don't feel right calling you an 'it'. Your voice is very pretty and it's like you would be a girl if you were human." Hinata commented. "If it's ok with you, could I address you as a girl?"

"If that is what you wish Hinata."

"Ok I guess I should ask a little more about your previous master Subaru. You said she was like me?"

"Yes. She wanted to excel and be a strong mage like her idol Nanoha, who was said to be one of the greatest mages of her time, if not ever. Subaru trained countless days and nights to push herself to the absolute best. She would do anything to help those she cared so much about. I sense the same attributes in you Hinata. You are a girl that wants to prove you can be strong and can protect those dear to you."

"You're right. I do want to be better. I want to be like Naruto, who always gives it everything he has. He never lets anything get him down and stop him from pushing toward his dreams."

"I also sense a different feeling. You feel infatuated around him. He is precious to you, is he not?"

"M-M-Mach Caliber? How did you know that?"

"Since I have begun to synchronize with you, I can sense your feelings. Subaru was the same around all her friends. They were all precious people to her and it gave her great joy to be around them, even if she was a combat cyborg."

"Ok then. So to continue, there were other…Devices like you?"

"Yes. What you now call chakra used to be known as mana or magical energy in my time. It was a very powerful source of energy that surrounded all things and could be used for so much. However people had a very difficult time controlling this energy. So that is where Devices come in. We were crafted to allow humans better control when using mana. We come in many designs, forms, and types. There are Boost Devices, Storage Devices, Armed Devices, Unison Devises, and Intelligent Devices." Mach Caliber created an image of various devices for Hinata to view. "The ones you see here are Devices that belong to my allies. The most noticeable one is Raising Heart, who belonged to Subaru's idol Nanoha. As you can see the design ranges from a staff to a gauntlet, or just about anything the wielder wishes."

"I see. But if people started using Devices for combat, wasn't there a way to shield against the use of mana? Chakra itself is near impossible to deflect when used in a close range situation. That's how the principle of Juuken works."

"That is a second feature of the Device. We have the ability to craft a Barrier Jacket for our wielder. This creates the first level of protection and can withstand high speeds, fluctuating temperatures, and standard impacts of mana. Over time mages began to develop stronger forms of defense, such as barriers, shields, and fields to combat attacks. Though with our continued use, it does drain your own chakra over time."

"Ok. I think I understand a little more. So when you activated, you used a barrier to protect me from Neji's strike. And when I use you, you'll be constantly draining my chakra to keep my Barrier Jacket active?"

"Yes. As you grow stronger, your chakra pool will increase. This will allow me to continue to aid you for longer periods of time, and allow you access to my advanced abilities and even my Full Drive."

"Full Drive? What's that?"

"Full Drive is my most powerful form. In Full Drive all my abilities will be available to you and your abilities will be enhanced. You would normally use my Full Drive when faced against a very powerful opponent. Each Device has a different Full Drive, and some Full Drives have extension systems or Limit Breaks as well. Mine is called Gear Excelion. With it, your speed increases greatly, your strikes have much more power added to them, and you can even use the ACS system to its full potential."

"That's a lot to take in. I don't know if I can do this." Hinata could feel her confidence drop as she doubted herself. "Do you really believe I can use your power?"

"It is not my power Hinata, it is your own. I am simply here to help you maximize that power and unleash your true abilities. You may not know it, but we Devices could sense just how much potential our wielders have, and I can honestly say you have a lot of untapped potential. Together we can make you into the best you can be."

Hinata felt reassured that Mach Caliber actually believed in her. Not only did she have Naruto's faith in her, but she also now had her new partner's faith as well. "Thank you so much Mach Caliber. Well I guess the next step is learning how to use you in battle."

If Mach Caliber had a human form, you could see her smiling, "Well, first off, you need to say my activation program code to begin. All you need to do is say 'Mach Caliber, Set Up!' and we'll go from there."

After a week in the hospital, Hinata was released and began her training with her father. She tried learning the advanced techniques of the Juuken like the Kaiten and Hakke Rokujyuu Yonshou, but it was proven to be difficult. Strangely during one training session, she managed to build up a little confidence in herself and told her father that these skills just didn't feel right to her. Hiashi looked at her like she had lost her mind, but a part of him actually felt proud that she was building confidence. Because of this, Hiashi started to look at the techniques and her own fighting style as well in order to see if something could change to better suit her.

Little did he or anyone else know, she had also been practicing on her own with Mach Caliber in a secluded part of the forest. In just a week she learned the basic abilities such as creating a barrier and a shield, and even discovered that Mach Caliber was actually two devices in one. The Device itself was a pair of speed skates, while her complimenting device was the Revolver Knuckle and both worked in unison. It wasn't hard for her to get used to moving faster due to the skates and she noticed that channeling her chakra into the skates allowed her to activate the Absorb Grip feature, which she found was very useful. Mach Caliber also told her about the Wing Road spell that could generate a chakra path for her to traverse using Absorb Grip, but when Hinata tried it, it consumed way too much chakra for her to control, so it meant she needed to work on building up her chakra supply. As for her offensive abilities, she got used to the Revolver Shoot spell, though it was taxing on her. Finally Hinata learned of a very important fact about chakra. When it is used for techniques and abilities, there is always an excess of chakra all around. Mach Caliber explained that certain mages used to be able to collect excess mana around their battle areas to unleash very powerful spells, even when they exhausted all of their own mana. Hinata took this to mind and felt that she should learn how to gather excess chakra as well. For now she could collect enough chakra to equal about 10 percent of her own natural reserves. It was one of the hardest things she had to learn, but she felt it would probably be the one of the most beneficial. For now Mach Caliber told her that if she were a mage, she would be around a C-Rank mage.

Neji on the other hand had not taken the loss well. Ever since he lost to Hinata, he felt that she was undeserving of moving to the final match. Every time he saw her training with Hiashi, he felt more strife toward her and the Main House. His anger even filtered towards his teammate Tenten, and consequently that anger would create a rift between them that would change the way she thinks of him forever.

"Look at her, such weakness." He was venting his anger on a training dummy in the dojo. "She is a disgrace to this family. She should be the one bearing my burden! She should have fallen at my hand!" He struck the dummy hard, shattering it in one strike. "I should be the one representing the Hyuuga Clan, not her!" Needless to say, Neji still felt strife for Hinata due to the fact that if it had not been for her capture when she was three, then maybe his father Hizashi would still be alive today.

"Uh Neji, you ok?" Tenten had been training with her teammate and could see just how angry he was at his loss. "Look it was just one loss. I mean shouldn't you be happy for your cousin?"

"Why should I be happy for that worthless failure? She is nothing but disgrace to the Hyuuga Clan and shouldn't even bear the title of heiress." Neji picked up part of the broken training dummy and struck it with another palm strike. "She is full of cowardice, weakness, and shame. Just because she wins one match, it means she's better than me?"

"Whatever. You say that but somehow she clearly handed you a loss." Tenten sat down and took a sip from her water bottle. "Why don't you just admit that she can be just as good as you are? She proved that with some solid training and confidence from her friends, she can overcome her obstacles." She started fiddling around with a small charm on her neck that looked like a card with an X shape on it.

"Because she will never be as good as me! She's not even as good as her little sister." Neji threw the remnants of the dummy to the ground. "And why are you even messing with that trinket again? You know it's nothing but a hindrance. You need to throw it away and not be obsessed with such trivial things. It's not becoming of a true kunoichi."

Tenten's face changed to a sharp glare, "Shut it Neji! You know good and well this is the only thing I have left of whatever family I had." She put her necklace back inside her blouse and got to her feet. "Just because you lost your father at an early age doesn't give you the right to use that against me! I lost my parents too you know. Be lucky you still had family alive to be with."

"That's new. I never pictured you going weak like my worthless cousin. Your emotions will lower your performance on the field. That is why neither you nor Lee will ever defeat me in combat. Your foolish beliefs cloud your mind of focus and hinder your strength and potential. But you never had that either, did you? All you know how to do is use weapons with no other skills." Neji paid her no heed and began to go back to training. "That's probably why you lost to the girl from the Sand Village."

Tenten became furious at his words. She knew Neji to be a little pompous and somewhat of a perfectionist, but this crossed the line. "That's low even for you Neji! You can go off and mope in your own little world because I'm done trying to help you!" She stormed out of the dojo but left Neji with a few words, "You say Hinata's weak, but just remember that she's the one that handed your ass to you on a plate, and I bet she could do it again, and she still wouldn't stoop to using her real trump card against you! Because we all know she could drop your ass without even laying a finger on you, but she has too much respect for you to do that!" With that she left Neji to himself. On her way out, she ran into Hinata who was coming back from a run around the village.

"Oh Tenten-san, are you leaving?" she gave a curt bow to greet the bun haired girl.

"Yeah. Neji really pissed me off. You know he needs to get his attitude in check." Tenten sighed. "I can't believe he would tell me that I'm weak just because I showed some emotion and said that you could be just as good as he is or even better."

"B-but I'm not better than he is." Hinata lowered her head in shame. "He's a genius."

Tenten raised Hinata's head to stare at her. "Listen to me. You are just as good as any kunoichi in this village. To be honest, you're probably the best one out of your class. At least you're willing to get stronger not only for yourself, but to impress the guy you like." Hinata started to blush since Tenten easily knew of her crush on Naruto. "I mean come on, look at Sakura and Ino. Those two just fight and bicker at each other over Sasuke and it's obvious he doesn't give a flying flip about the two of them. You on the other hand, at least Naruto can see you have that drive to get better. Yeah he may be a dense idiot and not fully understand how you feel about him, but I'll admit he has a lot of good qualities."

"You r-really believe so?" Hinata felt a little better about herself after that.

"Heck yea! Hey look, since I'm not in the finals, why don't I help you train too. I may not know too much about your Byakugan, but I can be your sparring partner and if you want and I can give you some weapons training." Tenten hoped Hinata would accept because she really wanted to show Neji up. "And before you ask I'm doing this for two reasons. One, I want you to get better so you can show up that ass Neji for always talking down to you. Second, if you really want Naruto, you're gonna have to get your confidence up and prove that you're the girl he needs to go after, not that pink haired airhead."

"R-really? That would be great! Th-thanks Tenten." Hinata felt a little unsure, but was happy that she had extra help. Little did she know that it would be more help than ever.

"She will be a great help Hinata. Especially when her partner wakes up."

"Huh? Did you say something Hinata?" Tenten thought she heard someone else talking in the conversation.

"I uh…I didn't say anything." Hinata nervously tried to draw attention away from her Device.

"Of course she didn't say anything, I did! She needs to know!"

"Mach Caliber! She doesn't know anything about you yet!"

"Ok now I definitely heard someone say something else. What's this I need to know?" Tenten was definitely suspicious now.

Hinata knew the only thing she could do was promise Tenten to keep her secret. "Tenten, promise me you'll keep a secret ok."

"Uh ok. So what is it?" asked the weapon mistress.

"Not here. Let's go someplace private." Hinata knew that there were ears and eyes everywhere out in the open. She did know of one place that was completely private.

About fifteen minutes later…

"So you wanted to talk to me in the bath?" Tenten sat down beside Hinata in the hot water. The baths in the Main House were separate and completely sealed off from anyone trying to spy. Since it was also divided, it was the only place in the entire house that Hinata could go to truly have privacy, well except from her sister.

"It was the only place I could think of." Hinata started fiddling with Mach Caliber in embarrassment. "But you have to promise me you won't tell anyone what I'm going to tell you."

"Sure. Girl's honor." Tenten took her right hand and hooked her pinky around Hinata's. "So what's up?"

"Please don't think me weird or anything, but this is how I was able to beat Neji." Hinata removed Mach Caliber from her neck and showed it to Tenten. "It may seem weird, but this little charm is a lot more than it seems."

Tenten just stared and looked at Hinata, "Wait, what? Hinata are you sure you didn't take some pretty heavy damage in that fight?"

"Hinata is right. I was the one that helped her." In mere seconds Tenten jumped back when she heard the voice.

"Did…did that thing just talk?" Her eyes went wide in shock.

"Yes. Her name is Mach Caliber and she's a Device." Hinata explained. "She's an ancient artifact from over 10,000 years."

"You're serious?" Tenten kept staring at the Device.

"Yes, she's very serious. I awoke when I sensed Hinata was in danger and helped protect her. My purpose is to help her become the best she can."

Tenten saw the charm flashing as it was talking, "Wow…this is heavy! And I thought seeing Lee and Gai-sensei do their hugging thing was weird!"

"So you see why you can't tell anyone?" Hinata pleaded with her new girl friend.

"Hinata, I said it was weird, but that's not going to stop me from keeping my promise." Tenten assured the lavender eyed girl. "Now my concern is why I can hear it talk?"

"The reason why is because you have a partner yourself. He's just asleep."

"Hinata, you said her name is Mach Caliber, right?" Hinata nodded in agreement. "Well then Mach Caliber, who's my so called partner?"

"He's around your neck. In fact you could say he was my teammate. His name is Cross Mirage."

Tenten looked at the card shaped trinket on her neck, "This thing? I always thought it was a charm. So, since you know more about him, can you tell me what he does?"

"He will have to tell you when he is awake. However I feel that it will be soon."

"Wow, that's a surprise. Ok so…what exactly is the reason you want things to be so secretive with these Devices Hinata?" Tenten figured she should get more information to learn all she can. That's when Hinata stepped out of the hot water to show her.

"This is what I want to show you." Hinata put her hand around Mach Caliber. "Here we go. Mach Caliber, Set Up!" In a flash Hinata now stood before Tenten in her Barrier Jacket with Mach Caliber in Active Form. "This is Mach Caliber's Active Form, the same thing you saw when I defeated Neji."

Tenten's jaw nearly hit the floor! "Whoa! No wonder why! And all of this is real? It's not a Henge or anything?"

"Come see for yourself." Hinata moved over to let Tenten feel the Barrier Jacket. "It's all real."

"Hinata, do you realize you could really do a lot as a kunoichi with this? I bet you'd even beat Naruto in the finals!" Tenten was amazed at everything that was going on.

"Um…that's just it. I want to win, but I just…well…" Hinata started poking her fingers again as Mach Caliber returned to standby.

"Oh yeah, the whole 'fighting your crush' thing. Look I saw Naruto a few days ago and he said that you'd promise to give him all you got. I say do it. Show him just what you can do." Tenten replied. "Show him that you're the real deal."

Even though confidence wasn't her strong point, Hinata always felt better when she had the support of real friends like Naruto and now Tenten. "I told him I was going to give it my all, and I'll keep that promise!"

"That's the spirit! And hey, whenever Cross Mirage wakes up, you think you and Mach Caliber can help me with him?" Tenten asked.

"What are friends for?" Hinata replied with a big smile.

So in the wake of things, Hinata not only gains a trusted friend, but that friend turns out to be a Device user as well. How will things work for Tenten now that she has her own Device, and how will she be able to help Hinata. And what about Hinata's match with Naruto in the finals? Will she really be able to give it her all against him? Only time will tell.

Now for a special corner, I'll do a breakdown of a Device or two to help you understand more about them.

Device: Mach Caliber

Device Type: Intelligent Device

Magic Style: Belkan

Mach Caliber's normal form is that of a pair of Roller Blades, originally created by her partner Subaru Nakajima. In addition it also works in unison with the Revolver Knuckle Armed Device. The device is designed for Subaru's ground Melee style of combat, but it can use some projectile Magic, such as Revolver Shoot and Revolver Cannon. Mach Caliber is also capable of casting some Mid-Childan style spells such as Divine Buster that Subaru copied from Nanoha. It has the Full Drive known as Gear Excelion, which increases the speed of the user, and enables the ACS or Acceleration Charge System. This system will enhance attack spells by using the Revolver Knuckle and the internal Cartridge system.

Device: Raising Heart

Device Type: Intelligent Device

Magic Style: Mid-Childan

Raising Heart is possibly the most well known device, belonging to the original Ace of Aces, Nanoha Takamachi. The normal form is that of a long staff with a crimson red orb surrounded by a partial gold ring. It's primary design is to help Nanoha with her long range shooting spells. It's also capable of sealing and defense magics as well. Raising Heart is eventually upgraded to Raising Heart Excelion, which now incorporates the Belkan Cartridge system to increase the strength of spells. The Full Drive is Excelion Mode which enables the ACS system for added power and speed.

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