This idea formed from noticing how similar Archer and Ed's outfits look alike. Before anyone asks, Archer is NOT Edward reincarnated. He's a fragment that Ed left behind when he forced the Gate to open in his alternate self, brought to life by Truth to annoy Gaia.
Also, I would like to clarify that this is basically Archer before he gets roped into being a counter guardian. He is an amalgamation of Gilgamesh's DNA, Ed's personality, and Shirou's memories rolled into one. If you get confused, PM me first before you complain on the reviews. I can explain it to you in detail.
In the beginning, there was Gaia. And for a time, everything was in balance.
And it would have stayed that way, had it not been for one thing. The evolution of humanity.
Oh, at first Gaia paid no mind to the knuckle dragging animals. They lived, they died, they fell under the same category as monkeys. Which meant they weren't that noteworthy at all.
But then something changed.
The first spark of intelligence began to grow stronger. Suddenly they began walking on two, and putting together ideas above what they were originally capable of.
If Gaia had a mind, it would have quashed them early on, before it spread.
By the time they started using tools, it was already too late.
It was then that Gaia's equal was formed.
It was called "Truth".
Some of the humans learned how to harness the powers of "Truth" and would stand apart from the others. Fear of the unknown turned to hatred, and from that hatred came death.
So Truth took the strongest and brightest of those that could access it's power and hid them away. Waiting until it could return and bring it's own champion against Gaia's beast.
Primate Murder and Counter Guardians were the planet's answer to humanity's presence. The imbalance they caused had to be corrected every so often.
Truth didn't like that Gaia usually took out those who were gifted first. The stronger they were, the higher the chance the beast or the Guardians would be sent.
So it waited. Patiently. Silently. Watching over it's chosen waiting for one to rise that could serve as it's right hand, as Primate Murder served Gaia.
For thousands of years, it waited.
In an unspecified time and place...
This was it. This was the moment he had dreaded/anticipated his entire life.
The moment his dreams/ideals would be shattered and destroyed until there was nothing left of his humanity.
The man known as Shirou Emiya laughed bitterly when he saw Rin's figure appear. He knew what she was. What she was there for. She had come to offer him a chance to save a hundred people from dying.
All in exchange for the last vestiges of Shirou Emiya's soul.
To serve as a Counter Guardian, because there was something missing in him that made it impossible for him to prioritize his own self above others.
For his entire life since Kiritsugu saved him, there had been a void in his self-preservation instincts. He found it impossible to be selfish for his own sake.
Something inside him snapped, hearing the slight undercurrent of smugness in the Fake Rin's voice.
For the first time in his life, he decided to be selfish.
Fake Rin blinked.
"I don't accept your deal. If I die, I will die as Shirou Emiya. Not as one of your counter guardians," he spat.
The world around him rippled and snapped. It was as if something had taken notice of him, and it wasn't Gaia or Alaya. No, this was something much more dangerous...but at the same time kinder. There was no good or evil to this presence, it simply was. It did not accept pity or mercy.
There was only...
Shirou Emiya exhaled one last time...and felt the world melt away from him.
'So this is what death is like. It's...peaceful.'
Strangely, he felt as though he was sitting on something solid. But all around him was white. Blinding white, actually.
Interesting. Very interesting! So this is where that fragment vanished to.
Shirou turned, and was silent from shock.
Where Alaya had taken the form of Rin, this figure had taken the form of Saber. Or a washed out version of her, with no features to speak of, save the outline.
And you're touched with Gaia's ridiculous idea of a counter to my gift. Of course that force wouldn't sit still knowing there was an entire world of potential agents that I could use to sow chaos in it's order...
"Who are you? What are you?"
The Saber lookalike stared at him, before a strange and somewhat odd grin formed on it's featureless face.
I am Truth. I am the force that humanity calls "God", the omnipotent presence that knows all and sees everything. Contrary to what you humans believe, I do not care about what humanity gets up to. I simply am.
Shirou paused, and thought that through. It...made more sense than it didn't.
"Why did you bring me here?"
Truth's strange smile widened slightly, but noticeably.
I did not summon you, Emiya Shirou. You summoned me. I exist in all humans, and your wish was so strong that you summoned the Gate that exists within humanity without the use of alchemy to do it. Out of all the humans on the planet, you alone have the power to do so without drawing Gaia upon you.
Shirou could already see where this was heading.
"If you're going to offer me a deal..." he started.
Truth didn't even bother to snort. The 'look' it shot him said volumes.
I do not broker deals. Unlike Alaya or Gaia, I have no use for them.
"Then what do you want?" asked Shirou.
To give you a second chance. A way to change fate so thoroughly that the Counter Guardian you could become is permanently erased from the Throne of Heroes.
This was it. A chance to erase "Archer EMIYA" from that hellish existence.
"What do you want?"
Oh no, this is entirely your choice. If you wish to replace that existence once and for all, you must open the door. I am merely the keeper of the Gate.
Shirou saw the massive Gate. There was a sense of foreboding/excitement behind the doors.
"What happens if I don't open the door?"
Well at least he knew Truth was brutally honest.
"And if I open the door?"
Then you will see Truth. What you gain from it in the end is entirely up to you. I am only the Gatekeeper.
Whatever part of the dream Shirou had made him ask one last question.
"What of the people on that bus?"
They have already died. Whether now or in a few years, they were dead from the start.
Shirou looked at the Gate of Truth. It felt...familiar. Like he had stood before this place before, under more harried circumstances.
In the end, he had nothing left to lose and only possibility to gain. Truth was nothing like Gaia. It held no false promise, no hidden extras that would make him suffer.
It was actually rather comforting, in a way.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained," he muttered, before touching the doors.
Without warning, they flung open revealing a great Eye. Any chance he had to back away was taken from him as black tendrils wrapped around him pulling him inside.
Inside the Gate, there was only Truth. It was there that Shirou saw something he had never expected.
His own origins.
All he could remember was walking through that hellish fire, empty of everything, even his own name.
But what he saw challenged everything he had ever believed about himself.
He had not been orphaned by the flames of the tainted grail.
He had been born into the flames and taken form of a child, a blank slate from which heroes were made from. He saw the sludge that poured over Gilgamesh coalesce into a body. He saw a light from somewhere enter the shapeless form and a child being created.
The empty eyes blinked uncomprehending. It began to move towards life, assessing everything but seeing nothing.
Then the information hit him. It was far too much for any human mind to fully comprehend, but he retained more than any human possibly could. Suddenly he was ejected from the Gate, having absorbed even a modicum of Truth.
Truth was still there, waiting patiently.
"What was that?" he asked, only noticing at the last second his voice sounded far different.
Gaia has it's checks and balances. However it has forgotten that once we were equals. The body you possess now is what you should have had, if the World's Evils had not interfered and hidden you.
"What am I?"
You are the Alchemist. A true one, not the mockery that Atlas pursues. Once, you sought us out to resurrect your dead mother. Then you sought us again to set right the price your arrogance cost you. Gaia may have tried to claim you, but you have always belonged to Truth first and foremost.
Shirou was stunned. He never had parents to begin with? He was just some experiment created by this force?
Truth seemed to sense his shock, because it was pretty quick to clarify before he got the wrong idea.
You did have parents, once. You are a fragment of a soul that shone so brightly with our gift that it drew others to it. A golden sun that accepted Equivalent Exchange down to his very soul. Part of him was lost when he crossed between worlds.
Shirou looked at his form. The armor hadn't changed, but the form felt more sturdy, almost speedy. If he had a mirror he would have seen hair as bright as Saber's, with eyes like liquid gold.
So he was the fragment of another soul, one that had either passed on or was lost. Strangely this truth seemed to resonate with him, like he had known it all along but didn't know what it meant.
Truth seemed to radiate approval.
You wished to change things. To stop Counter Guardian EMIYA from being forced to walk the path he created because of an incomplete ideal.
Your father was correct when he informed you that to save a life, one must sacrifice another in return. This is Equivalent Exchange.
Shirou suddenly knew exactly what those words meant.
"To obtain, something of equal value must be lost."
That is the most basic rule of alchemy. The purest Truth in existence. Alchemy can be used for creation or destruction, but the balance must be kept. Even Gaia cannot overwrite the most basic law.
Shirou suddenly thought of Illyasviel. His sister.
Homunculi are the results of humans attempting to overwrite the limits placed upon the Gate that exists within all. Man was not meant to bring life to death, which is why I exist. Those that break the Taboo must pay the price for their arrogance.
Truth suddenly looked at him with such sharp intensity that he knew he must pay attention to what it said next.
Shirou Emiya, you have been given a rare opportunity to set things right. To correct a grave imbalance that these...Grail Wars...have created. We have given you the tools. Now you must fix what was broken.
The methods of dealing with this anomaly are entirely up to you. We are merely the one who sets you on the path. You are the one who must walk it and forge the ending with your own two hands. Whether you succeed or fail is dependent on your own ability.
The blinding white began to fade, and Truth gave him one last parting shot before he blacked out.
Rejoice, Shirou Emiya. While there is much to be lost, there is the entire world to gain...
Shirou remembered no more.
The first thing he felt when he woke up was cold. The second was that all the acquired aches and pains were gone...or replaced with ones he hoped were only temporary.
Opening his eyes, he had to squint at the sudden burst of sunlight.
It took him a few moments to realize where, or more specifically when he was.
It was Fuyuki, shortly before the Grail War restarted. A year or so, to be exact.
More than enough time for him to summon a Servant, since from what he had learned after the fact, Illya had summoned hers almost immediately once the Grail had gathered enough energy.
Shirou made a fist with his hand. He briefly wondered why he felt surprise/relief when he realized it was flesh and blood.
Getting up, it took him a few moments to realize he was wearing something similar to his armor, but different at the same time. Going to a shop window, he found he was wearing some sort of coat with a strange symbol he recognized/remembered was the crest of Flamel, a famous alchemist. The first one to create a true philosopher's stone.
His hair was golden, almost like a combination of Gilgamesh and his Saber. His eyes were as if someone had poured liquid gold into his irises, but they held a sharpness that most humans never had.
These were eyes that had seen too much, had endured trials by fire and blood and come out stronger for it.
He had a black jacket with thin white trim over a sleeveless black shirt. His black pants were faded, but well cared for and comfortable for movements. He wore combat boots with thick soles, but were well worn in. He had a brown belt on with many pockets, presumably to hold things.
In his pocket was a curious watch, one with a strange engraving. What was even stranger was that when he opened it, he found a crudely etched note.
3. Oct .10
The significance of the date and note had escaped him, but he could feel it was important.
The one thing that bugged him the most was something he wouldn't have cared about normally.
He barely cleared five feet, and that was with the hauntingly familiar ahoge that he had seen on Saber. Rin had once taken the time to tease her about the stray hair, just to see Saber blush.
And now he had one. It was almost poetic, in a way.
Shirou ignored the voice, and decided to visit old haunts for nostalgia.
Shirou blinked, remembered he was currently blond, before trying to continue on. That was not meant to be, as he was suddenly halted by a hand on his shoulder.
He turned his rather irritated gaze upon the one who had stopped him.
"Hey kid, aren't you supposed to be in school?" he demanded. He looked vaguely like a cop.
"I'm not a kid," stated Shirou flatly, more than a little irritated that the man presumed he was. Just because he was short did NOT make him a child.
"Yeah right kid. Playing hookie from school are we?"
Shirou felt a tic mark form. Something about the man's tone was raising his anger levels to unusual heights.
"Exactly what makes you presume I am a child?" said Shirou icily. Something about his tone warned the cop that he was treading on thin ice.
"Don't play that with me boy. You couldn't possibly be more than thirteen at most," scoffed the man.
That set off the powder keg that Shirou didn't realize was on a hair trigger.
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO SMALL HE HAS TO BE SEEN UNDER A MICROSCOPE?! I'M SHORT, NOT A CHILD!"shouted an irate Shirou. In the back of his mind he was completely baffled.
Sure he was lacking in the height department, but that was no reason to explode about it.
As Shirou continued to rant (drawing quite the crowd) the policeman wilted under his furious gaze.
He ran at the first opportunity, vowing never to judge someone by their appearance again.
Shirou glared at most of the people around him, ignoring his ingrained Japanese politeness.
Meanwhile in the Gate, Truth was laughing it's ass off for having slipped that particular trigger from the original's personality into the body without the man knowing about it.