Disclaimer, I own nothing, don't sue me.

Chapter 1: The end is the beginning

Hiraga Saito knew he was a dead man. Standing amidst the ruins of his command centre, he watched as his remaining forces prepared to make a last stand against the unending tide. All around them, the battered city of Tokyo burned.

"Commander! We've lost contact with armour divisions 3 and 5. We won't be able to hold much longer. We need to fall back now!"

Saito sighed as he ran a hand through his sweat matted hair. "And where would we fall back to lieutenant? To our east lies the tiberium wastelands, to our west a minefield that has no safe path. Our south? Civilian evacuation efforts haven't finished yet. And of course, we have those bastards in the north. All we can do now is hold as long as we can. Send a message to colonel Montgomery, the 101st is to support the 7th armoured and keep the absolute defence line from being breached."

"I… I… Yes sir!"

The lieutenant snapped off a crisp salute before running off to carry out Saito's orders. The far-east regional commander took a deep breath before exhaling. In his mind he prayed for forgiveness for sending even more of his troops into the meat grinder.

A bitter smile graced his face as he knew no salvation was coming. His army was the last surviving one in the entire Asian region and even that status wouldn't last much longer. Humanity's remaining forces not dedicated to the defence of key installations and evacuation efforts had pulled back to Kane's tower.

Full control of its systems had finally been achieved after two years of research following the end of the third tiberium war. A portal to the stars, that's what it was. A new home planet lay on the other side, free from the scourge of tiberium, free from the invaders, free from war. And now it was humanity's last hope.

Returning his attention to the tactical feed displayed on the holo table before him, Saito watched as his lines began to buckle for the last time against a combined assault of mammoth tanks and avatar battle walkers under the control of Scrin's masterminds.

Thousands of the smaller infantry units swarmed around the behemoths to wipe out the remaining infantry garrison and clear a straight path to Saito's HQ. Absentmindedly, he issued a command to the 4th motorised infantry to make a kamikaze charge against them, supported by the pitiful remains of his air force.

They'd suffer 100% fatalities but they'd accomplish their objectives, all Saito needed was for them to be slowed until his main objective could be complete.

Leaving the command tent, he turned his head to the north, even with the skyline shrouded in smoke and orange light from the flames, there was no missing those silhouettes. Three truly massive insectoid shadows were slowly yet certainly approaching.

Green discs of death spewed forth from what passed for their mouths, eliciting screams and explosions with every volley. The Eradicator Hexapods were just too strong. Saito had thrown everything he had at them and still came up short. If he still had air superiority maybe he could have done something but between the rift generator strike and planetary assault carrier siege, his air force had been cut down to a few obsolete craft from the 2nd tiberium war.

A part of him still felt a small sense of satisfaction in seeing that he made the invaders pay for the victory in blood. Five hexapod kills with the hopelessly understrength force he had was a miraculous play as it were.

"Haaa… all that's left is for those bugs to breach the base and the cyclops system will do the rest."

Saito turned off his comms and shut out the desperate pleas for reinforcements coming from his men, unable to stomach it anymore. Reaching into his pocket, he took out a toy MCV and began fiddling with it.

"Damnit, if only we had 2… no, just 1 more day would have been enough." Letting out a self-deprecating laugh, he held the toy up to eye level. "If I could have just deployed this damnit. Fucking transport shot down, fucking late retrieval."

A new invention from the egg heads back at high command, a truly mobile construction vehicle, now equipped with new shrinking technology to allow for easy transport in the pockets of any commander. And, it was equipped with the new prototype cloning tech, an army not limited by the number of humans they had but the amount of resources available. A general's wet dream in essence… and now nothing more than a dream.

It would have been the cornerstone of their defence of Japan but by the time Saito got his hands on it, the battle had already been lost for them.

"So this is the end then." Saito gave a last smile as his base defences crumbled under the combined firepower of the scrin armada.

A distortion in the air before him heralded the arrival of a scrin mastermind. Its voice boomed in the confines of Saito's mind as it tried to exert control over him.

[You have fought well commander. But it's over. Give in, the empire has use for commanders like you. Submit.]

"Pah!" Saito spat at the mastermind as he resisted the takeover. "I will never bow to tyrants like you. Humanity will never bow and I will fight to the end!"

[Fool. What do you hope to accomplish by your resistance? Your army is destroyed. You are just one man.]

"Hahahahahh! Never underestimate the amount of damage one determined man is capable of. I'll see you in hell you assholes!"

Whipping out a detonator, Saito jammed the red button down with as much force as he could before letting out one last bout of laughter.

Buried beneath his base was a network of six fusion plants that under normal circumstances would have provided power to both the garrison and the city proper. And now, they had been converted into the most powerful nuke the world had ever seen.

On cue, the entire base and its surroundings vanished in a blast of brilliant white light, nuclear fire scorching away every trace of both the human defenders and the scrin invaders in the blink of an eye. Crucially, the three hexapods that had laid waste to Saito's forces were among them. With most of the invasion force at ground zero, enough of them had been exterminated such that the remainder would not be enough to threaten the evacuation efforts.

Eventually, Kane's tower would be activated and Humanity would find a new home among the stars, safe from tiberium and the scrin. Given enough time, humanity would become a space faring civilisation on their own under the leadership of the United Earth Government and later the Federation. But that's a story for another time.

The sacrifices made by the many who fought against the scrin would be remembered by those who lived on. Countless names adorned the memorials, among them included one Hiraga Saito. The legendary commander who achieved innumerable victories in life and died spitting in the face of the impossible one last time.

Scholars would pour over his battle records and remain divided for centuries to come on whether his tactics were masterful strokes of genius or the actions of a desperate man refusing to lose. And all of them would question what thoughts were running through the man's mind at the end of his final mission.

-line break

Pain wracked his form as Saito rose to his feet. Thick black smoke covered everything and the commander couldn't see his hands in front of his own face.

"Ow ow ow ow… damnit, if I'm dead why the hell does it hurt so much? Oh… right… I'm in hell."

The wind picked up and blew away the smoke and Saito found himself staring but not believing. A short pink haired girl stood before him ranting in a language he did not understand and a balding man in robes stood nearby trying to placate her. There were others standing further back dressed in the same attire as the pink one.

They looked to be students of some sort and they were laughing at the pink one for some reason.

"Professor, there must be some kind of mistake! This… this commoner cannot be my familiar! Please let me try again!"

"Now Louise, I can't let you do that. This is a time-honoured tradition and you can't just summon a new familiar because you don't like the one you got."

"But professor!"

"Ahahahaha Louise the zero indeed! Who summons a commoner as a familiar? Ahahahaha!"

"Grrrr, shut up Zerbst! I'll show you who's a zero!"

"Enough! Quit bickering like children! Now Louise, I know that summoning a human is… unconventional but there's nothing we can do. Please seal the contract, we can look into this more later."

"Uh, excuse me. Where is this? What happened to the scrin? Did we win? Is… is this hell?" Saito tried asking in English since he assumed they might be more familiar with it than his native Japanese to no luck. For some reason, he just got more laughter, probably at some joke he wasn't privy to.

"I stand corrected, this isn't just being a zero, this is in the negatives now. You didn't just summon a commoner, you summoned one who can't even speak right! Ahahahah! Oh, you're killing me Louise."

"Grrr… stupid familiar. You should be thankful; most commoners go their whole lives without receiving such an honour from a noble."

Before Saito could react, the pink one had grabbed his hand and dragged him down before planting a kiss on his lips. A sharp burning sensation ran through his left hand and he grit his teeth to keep from screaming out.

As suddenly as it came, the pain left and he felt… strange to say the least. His mind felt clearer now, the guilt of sending his men to their deaths receding to a more manageable level. That and he could understand their words now.

"What the heck was that!?"

"Be silent stupid familiar! I will not have you use such vulgar language in front of the nobility."

"Familiar what? Nobility?"

"Hmmph!" The pink one pushed out her non-existent chest and tried smiling arrogantly at Saito, the effect was drastically diminished by the fact that he towered over her though.

"You have the honour of being the familiar of Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière. Be proud of that commoner."

Saito blinked once and rubbed his eyes before speaking. "Yes… that name means nothing to me though. I don't know who you are or where this place even is and I don't have time for your games. Where is the scrin? Did we win?"

"Time for my games… Wha!? How dare you stupid familiar. I am the daughter of a duke and you will show me the respect I deserve! And what is this stupid scrin anyway."

"Daughter of a duke? I wasn't aware we still had nobility. No matter, I don't care whose daughter you are even if your old man is the emperor himself. You will get my respect when you earn it. And just how sheltered are you to not know of the scrin? You know, the invaders who tried to exterminate us twice!?"

"You… I… Wha!?" Louise was stunned into silence by Saito's response and unable to come up with a retort. The laughter of her compatriots over her failure to control her familiar continued to barrage the pitiful remains of her self-esteem and she fought back the tears. She would not give them the satisfaction of knowing how much they had hurt her. "Just who do you think you are!?"

"Me? Ah yes of course, introductions." Saito snapped to attention and saluted before replying. "Brigadier General Hiraga Saito, regional commander of the far east. ZOCOM."

-line break

Somewhere in the forest of Albion, a half-elf prodded the fallen man she'd summoned through the familiar spell big sis Matilda had taught her. The children were already asleep after growing tired of poking at the unresponsive man who'd been staring at space ever since his summoning hours ago.

Trying to move him into the orphanage had been a failure, he was a lot heavier than he looked and their combined efforts had failed to move him even an inch.

"Ano… can you understand me? You need to get inside, a storm is coming. It… it's not healthy to remain outside… hello?"

The familiar runes on his chest glowed slightly as Tiffania nudged him before fading and Saito blinked.

Suppressing the urge to groan as his muscles screamed in protest against his actions, he rose to his feet and regarded his summoner. "Where is this? What happened to the scrin?"

"Ano… you're on Albion at the moment. This is the Westwood village… it's a home for orphans. I don't know what the scrin is though."

"How did I get here?"

"Eto… I summoned you through the summon servant spell. Ummm, it was supposed to summon an animal of some sort to serve as my protector and friend… but I summoned you instead. I'm… I'm sorry?"

Saito shook his head as Tiffa's ears started to droop. "No, don't apologise, I do believe you saved my life and for that I am grateful. I don't quite understand what a familiar is but if you will have me, I will serve."

"Really! I… I mean, my name's Tiffania Westwood, friends call me Tiffa, it's nice to meet you." Tiffa gave a bright smile that would have blinded many a lesser man.

"I see. I am Inquisitor Hiraga Saito, commander of the Marked of Kane in the far east. Connection to LEGION has been severed, I shall defer to your judgement on how best to proceed. Through me, the Marked will serve."

Saito executed a perfect bow before speaking again.

"One vision. One purpose. Peace. Through. Power."