Phantasmal Soldier

By, SamWRyder

A/N: Let's make this quick. I don't own either of these stories but do own the original ideas herein if any. That said, Shirou's ability to alter the history of the weapon or object he's creating is NOT canon. However, I have been told it was necessary to put this in because some of you will think it is. So there's that. All other notes will be on the bottom of the page. I hope you enjoy it.

The arrow was away.

"Throne, the shot has been taken. I repeat the shot has been taken."

Shirou tracked the arrow path though he already knew it was going to hit its mark. Through the trees, between the boughs leaf's it went, a whistle trailing after it until it embedded itself into the scope of the rifle. Still, it wasn't enough. The enemy soldiers were converging in the forest, some even having reached the garden.

He dropped the bow and shattered the image replacing it with two others. The weapons he knew better than any other, and before the married sword had even finished forming on his hands, he was on the move. Out the door, he went and into the firefight.

"Emiya!" Itami called, but Shirou ignored him.

There was a trick to deflecting bullets with swords. It had been something Shirou'd learned over the last few years. First, you have to know where the shot was going to be. Something that just so happened to be nearly impossible for the average person, and in the beginning, he'd quickly lost count of the times a bullet had made it past his defenses. In the end, it was the muzzle flashes that gave its direction away.

He swept the swords about him in an unrelenting storm of motion, focusing only on the projectiles that were in his reach until he reached the stone Rory had placed herself on.

"Trace Bullet," Shirou announced as a swarm of swords began to fill the air around him, and he focused on the image of the hammer of a gun slowly drawing back. Already the bullets had changed targets concentrated only on the blades floating in the air.

The weapons didn't shudder at the impact of the rounds, and after a minute of continuous fire, it stopped. Silence filled the air, as did something else. An egg-shaped canister that Shirou had become all too familiar with after joining the JSDF. A grenade tumbled through the air toward them.

"Fire."

A single sword shot away from the group. The grenade barely made it past the tree line before it blew as a sword sheared through it. Shirou felt the burst of air and heat the explosion made and could see the tree closest to it begin to tip.

"Just hand over the visitors from the special region, and we can end this." One of them stated in accented English.

Rory began to laugh, a truly joyful laugh that could sound nothing less than mad in the situation they were in. "Don't disappoint me, boys." He heard the demi-god say before she rushed toward an enemy soldier. She raised her axe, and Shirou knew their time had run out.

"Wait," Shirou called, stopping the goddess in her tracks along with all of the soldiers. "You need to put down your weapons and run."

His response was a peal of gunfire, and he swept Kanshou into its path, redirecting the projectile into the ground off to his side.

He brought the hammer down again. "Please," Shirou asked.

Another answer came, though these were actual words. "Quit your whining. We have a job to do!"

Shirou fired again, and Rory swept down with her axe. Blood spurted forth, some of it crossing the three-meter distance between them to strike his yukata, and then his swords began to meet flesh. They screamed in pain as the blades buried themselves within their chests.

Already the crimson fluid was spreading along the ground and into the water.

He could hear Rory begin to cackle again, but Shirou focused on the survivors. There was only a handful, and only one was unmaimed, apparently having the immorality to use a comrade as a shield. The rest were pinned to trees via an arrow piercing their chests, none so much as twitched.

Another wave of men came forward, and instead of targeting Rory, they busied themselves with trying to shoot Shirou.

"You bastard!" One of the soldiers, acting like a tree ornament, yelled. Shirou blinked. He was sure the man was dead, and it wasn't hard to see why. The guy had managed to take two of the swords rather than the one everyone else had. It didn't stop him from shooting at Shirou, his still free hand was pushing against the blade, currently impaling his side to keep himself from jerking himself so badly the sword would have cut him so much deeper.

"I'm starting to wonder if you're a sadist, Emiya! What kind of warrior chooses to mutilate his enemies rather than just killing them and ending their suffering?"

Shirou didn't answer verbally. Instead, he let go of the images of the weapons he'd used as artillery, letting them fade back into ether and sending the soldiers to the ground to bleed out. The man who had been frantically trying to shoot him had gone limp. Sweeping a look through the trees, he looked for any sign that any more forces were out there looking for an opportune moment to strike. He saw none.

That's when Shirou noticed something. There wasn't a single Japanese face to be seen and no movement in the forest. Nor did he hear anyone speaking with Itami. It looked like they were truly on their own.

Before he could say anything, the remainder of the soldiers moved into the open. Their weapons split between Rory and Shirou himself and the other forces. A quick headcount and Shirou found that no more than twenty-five of the soldiers surrounded them.

One of them peeled back a glove and, with a combat knife, cut the back of his hand and let the crimson liquid fall into the water to merge with the rest. "Imperium Aquam."

Shirou braced himself as the water began to lift into the air before falling back into the puddles they came from.

"I thought you said you were a mage, Mckinnon!" One of the masked men yelled.

"Magus, Foxx, and I don't know what's going on!" The other man retorted.

The splashing footsteps leading from the house toward them had Shirou turning his attention to the newcomer. Rin her hands mostly hidden by sleeves, sleeves Shirou was sure weren't that long before. "You should have studied more. When a magus leaves their homeland and the history of their lineage behind, it's common for their magecraft to fail."

Shirou opened his mouth to offer them one more chance to surrender when Rory launched herself off her stone toward the soldiers nearest her. The gunfire came, but the demi-god ignored it, taking each one of the slugs aimed at her. But he couldn't pay her too much attention as with her action. The battle had begun again.

He charged off to the side as three of them opened fire, their shots missing by the barest of margins at first, and slowly the gap grew. Then, swerving around, Shirou began by throwing his swords out and two the side and pumped more energy into his legs until, with each step he took, he kicked up a small geyser of water.

The gunfire stopped as he was suddenly between them. Their guns quickly returned to their mark, and tiny red dots appeared on either side of him, but neither of them took the shot. Of course, it wasn't surprising, considering if they missed, they'd be firing on each other.

"Sanguis vitae." Mckinnon snarled, and instead of cutting his hand, he raised the knife and cleaved through the appendage, sending a shower of blood across the ground. He didn't scream, call out or laugh. Instead, the man fell face-first into the mud.

"Vat an idiot." The man behind Shirou said in very thickly accented English.

Shirou just watched the gushing blood and listened for the coming whistles of his returning blades. When he heard it, Shirou pushed off into the air and extended his hands down, catching the weapons just before they were to meet. He allowed the rotation to continue until he faced the last of the gunmen. Only then did he slam his feet down into the muck to arrest his motion.

The man began to shoot, the shells raining from his gun and steaming in the cool air. For all that the man was well trained in using his weapon, the bullets coming in bursts rather than a wide spray, it was the training that betrayed him. Each shot was aimed at his chest, as it was the most prominent target. It was also the easiest for Shirou to defend, and with each bullet deflected, Shirou drew closer to the gunman.

That is right up until he caught movement in the corner of his vision, and apparently, his opponent had seen it as he screamed. Bullets whizzed by Shirou, targeting whatever was approaching. Bursting forward, Shirou brought the blade's flat against the soldier and landed in a position to face whatever was coming. He did not expect a humanoid figure made of what looked to be blood and water to be walking toward him.

"The ultimate form of the Mckinnon Families four generations of magecraft! You cannot harm me!" The voice was almost indecipherable as it sounded exactly like what it was. Sloshing water. He raised an arm and stopped as a snort caught their attention.

Rin stood there, a jewel glowing in her hand, "if you think you can't be hurt, then you're an idiot." She flung the ruby, not at the bloody form but at the body he'd left behind where it exploded, sending a wave of blood, flesh, and bone in numerous directions. There was no way he'd survived.

The water creature screeched as Shirou watched his ex smirk. "Enjoy your last few moments before the magical energy supporting you runs out."

The watery wraith that was Mckinnon took a step and began to fall apart, "you bi- "he never had a chance to finish his statement.

"I guess it took more energy to keep that blood puppet going than I expected." She said before turning her attention to Shirou. "Don't start, all those people whose legs you cut off, do you think they're going to survive? It's not like we have the time to bandage them. We've got to move our guests."

Shirou winced.

"Rory, are you okay?" Itami's shout had both Rin and Shirou refocusing to look at the Demi-god, who had bullets slowly pushing their way from her body to fall to the ground.

Even in the darkness, Shirou could see her smile. "Your bullets are cute and all, but they aren't effective against someone like me," she said

As Shirou made his way back to the inn, the blades vanished from his hands. He nodded at Mamina, who held a sword in her hands in front of the Princess, who seemed aggravated by the fact. "Get your things together. We need to move."

"Emiya's right. We've compromised." Itami said, echoing Shirou.

"I wish I'd suggested that myself," Rin commented as she moved past Itami. Her sarcasm was thick enough you could have cut it with a knife.

They gathered their things in minutes and were off. Twenty minutes later, they were climbing a hill that led to the highway about a mile from the inn's entrance.

"Itami, I don't believe this is normal. Do dignitaries usually receive such attention?" The Princess asked as they crested the hill. She was about to say more when Itami loosed a shhh that silenced her and pointed at the van waiting just up ahead.

A van. In the driver's seat, a man sat, almost frantically speaking into a headset.

"How do you want to do this?" Shirou asked. There were multiple ways of dealing with the situation.

"Leave this one to us," Kuribayashi said with a wink and a punch to his arm.

"I'd argue that I am the best equipped to remove the man. I am no doubt the fastest here." Mamina said and patted the blade hanging at her side.

"I could just hit him with a Gandr, and I wouldn't have to move from this spot." Rin challenged as she rolled up her sleeve.

Shirou hung his head and sighed. He knew it wasn't the time to be trying to outdo one another. They had other things they needed to be thinking of after all.

"Enough of that. Kuribayashi, I'll take the driver's door. You can take the passenger side."

"Wooo! Eat it! Eat IT!" Kuribayashi crowed at the girls before rushing down the road keeping low to the ground.

"You know I think she may still be drunk," Itami said before he too took off down the road.

Any doubts that Shirou had that Itami was, in fact, right about her inebriated state slipped away. As soon as Itami got the guy's attention by knocking on the driver's side window, she threw open the passenger door and bodily pulled the man out of the van before beginning to pound her fists into his face.

"God, I needed that!" She yelled while throwing a fist into the air.

"You go, girl!" Rory cheered.

The van rumbled to life, and Itami stuck his head out the window. "Come on! We're burning moonlight here!"

Shirou was a few steps behind as the others headed for the van watching as Itami's ex-wife was huffing and stumbling along after the rest. Then, without asking for permission, he scooped her up into a bridal carry even as he continued to stare off down the road looking for anything that might hinder their progress.

"Hey, wait! Put me down!"

Shirou didn't, as much as he wanted to listen to her wants, time was of the essence, and he'd no idea if any of the teams had people laying in wait as a secondary force. "Just bear with it, please." He said.

So intent on looking for any threats, he managed to miss the envious looks of several of the girls. Most specifically, Arpeggio was shooting at the girl. He set her down in the van and stared at just how cramped it already was inside. The two rear rows were holding five very cramped people each. There was no room for him within the car.

"Damn," Itami said as he caught Shirou's eye in the rearview mirror.

Shirou shrugged. "I can-" he started only to be cut off by Rin.

"You are NOT running alongside the car!"

Shirou recoiled slightly at the harshness of her tone.

"You can either get in the far back or get on the roof!"

BeforeShirou could give her his response Itami cut in. "I agree with her Emiya, even if you can, there isn't a reason for it, and we might need that energy later."

Shirou cocked his head and looked at the backmost part of the vehicle, bags, both theirs and a few of the teams that Tomita thought would be helpful. In other words, it was already pretty full.

"Or he can have my seat, and I can sit on his lap." Arpeggio offered.

"Shirou, get your ass in the car!" Kuribayashi snapped. Before Shirou could say a word, he found Mamina pulling him into the vehicle to sit on her lap.

"I do not believe any amorous advances should occur in our current situation." Silently Shirou thanked the small mage girl as Mamina's hand had already found its way beneath his shirt, and he could almost feel Rin's furious gaze burning in his direction.

He could hear a throat clear, but he couldn't see who exactly it was, but Shirou was ready to bet it was Tuuka and was proven right as she spoke. "How bold."

"Darn right, girl. Boldness is how you get what you want!" She said before turning to address Arpeggio's younger sister. "I suppose you're right. I do have my duty." The warrior bunny said, and Shirou watched as her ears drooped ever so slightly.

The engine roared to life.

"Sir, I know we need to go, but where are we going?" Tomita asked

When he spoke, Shirou was surprised to find the relaxed tone Itami usually used was gone. "Back through the gate. It's just not safe at this point." He said

Kuribayashi snorted, "Why would we go there? Isn't that where they'll expect us to be?"

"Maybe, but I don't have any better ideas, do you?"

"I might," the Princess interjected, "your communications device."

"You mean phone?"

"Yes, from what I understand, you can use it to reach a high number of people quickly? If so, then I would recommend using it to cause a diversion.

"Right! You said the girls wanted to visit the shrine of those lost when the gate first opened?" Risa said as she held up her glowing cellphone. "Then let's have them do that! I can put a message out to my followers that the girls are planning on going before going back through the gate."

"It would at the very least have them spread out their number, and it would make it almost impossible to complete a covert kidnapping." Itami mused.

"Do it."

"Already done!" Risa chirped back.

Shirou, for his part, winced. Such a plan opened up a whole new set of possibilities. It would be hard for any covert mission to be sure, but how about one that was less covert? Of course, gassing the area could leave the majority, if not all of them, incapacitated. But, at the same time, those prepared would take the girls and go.

On the other hand, if they wanted to prove that Japan wasn't safe, bombing everyone would do that, and it would have the world's powers lose quite a bit of faith in their handling of the gate. That wasn't even counting the magi that might be after them, he didn't want to think about what they'd do, considering they wouldn't care about the crowd. Shirou grabbed his head and sighed.

"It looks like you want to rip your hair out."

"If I thought it would help, I would," Shirou said and fell silent. He knew better to voice his thoughts, at least aloud. It would do no one any good to be wound up. No, he decided it was better to be prepared himself for the eventualities. After all, if you expected the worst, and escort missions were the worst, then anything else would be a pleasant surprise.

"Sir, I still think we're going to need another vehicle," Tomita said. "It wouldn't do to have a foreign diplomat step out of a car this crowded."

"Oh, wow. The message boards are blowing up! Already it says a million people are planning on showing up!"

"Really, Risa? I didn't know your following had gotten quite that large." Itami said.

Shirou turned his attention to the forest they were driving by. He knew they weren't going to try and attack them as they were moving down the road, not without some kind of roadblock. Doing so would only risk everyone inside, including the visitors they were so set on turning into their guests, becoming the next residences of a human-sized sardine can.

It just went against their desire.

For the next hour, Shirou fended off the occasional wandering hands from not only Mamina, who seemed content with sliding her hand along his arm. Despite the blush on her cheeks, Arpeggio seemed to take issue with Mamina's actions and tried to one-up her using his leg.

They stopped only once for a bathroom break and stretched their legs, though Shirou found himself on lookout detail while Itami made a call, and Kuribayashi guarded the restroom door while the ladies went.

After taking a moment to relieve himself, Shirou was once more in the car in nearly the exact position he was in before vacating it. But, of course, Mamina would have it no other way.

It was over an hour later before Shirou felt the car begin to slow again before it came to a stop. Even just sitting forward, he could see why.

The crowd was massive. Shirou knew Risa had said a million people would be coming, but he wasn't sure that many would show up. Now he figured it was more than a million. The crowd also had one other impact besides the force of their vigil. They had effectively stopped the flow of traffic, which was the reason the car had stopped.

"Sir, by the looks of things, we won't be going anywhere for a while," Tomita said as he pulled his head back through the window. Shirou nodded his agreement.

Rory caught Shirou's attention as she began to move, but with how cramped the car, he couldn't do a thing as she opened the door and hopped out of the vehicle. "I say we walk!" She said as she began to stretch.

"Rory, get back in here!" Itami called. "Emiya, why didn't you stop her?"

Shirou didn't even bother to stop to look at the man. Instead, his attention turned to the mass exodus of the vehicle as Rin and Lalei followed the demi-goddess. That all the other young women were moving all but screamed their intent to follow after her.

"Rin, you should know it's not safe out there for them."

The look she gave him had Shirou wincing, he'd seen that look whenever he wasn't progressing as fast as she wanted in his studies, or the way he went about something was completely and utterly "boneheaded." "I disagree. I don't believe anyone here would allow anyone near them."

"Sorry, Shirou," Mamina said as she bodily picked him up and moved him to the side as she exited the van, trailing after the Princess.

The front doors flew open. "Eyes on a swivel, everyone, we're going on foot from here."

Moving to the door, Shirou stepped out and found everyone. One of the people surrounding them had their phones raised, and the flashes were going off like crazy. A heavy-set youth with coke bottle glasses moved toward them, only stopping as Kuribayashi and Tomita aimed in her direction.

"Hey, lady! Are those bunny ears real?" She yelled.

He watched Mamina's ears twitch before she looked at the girl. "Of course they are." She didn't sound pleased as her ears jerked again, her hand moving to the sword at her side.

"Can you all clear a path, please?" Rory called to the crowd.

To Shirou's surprise, that is precisely what the crowd did. In all honesty, he was expecting them to continue to snap pictures as if the group was made up of movie stars caught in a massive scandal. So, all in all, it was a pleasant surprise.

Itami moved to stand beside Shirou, adjusting his pack before addressing them all. "Alright, let's move out."

"Itami, wait! I don't know if I can do this!" Risa's call came as they began to walk.

Instead of turning and facing the woman, Itami just called over his shoulder. "I believe in you, Risa. I know you can do it!"

The group moved through the created path allowing it to collapse inward behind them. There were so many eyes on them that Shirou was half sure he was paranoid when he saw some staring harder than others. Nonetheless, he kept an eye on them until they were well behind them.

When they reached the altar, the Princess, Mamina as her guard, and Rory walked up first, followed a moment later by the others.

When several of the people around them began to move forward, Shirou moved to step between them but found space already filled by Kuribayashi, her gun still thankfully pointed into the air. No surprise if one considered the look that promised nothing but pain on her face.

"None of you are getting any closer than where you are right now. Ya get me?"

They did as none of them moved even a hairsbreadth closer.

As the other girls approached the altar, Shirou and the others formed a semi-circle around the altar as the girls made their prayers. Even Mamina took a moment to kneel, place her sword in front of her offer a prayer to those who had passed.

"I need a bell!" Rory called her eyes firmly on the alter, and her hands held tight together. "Someone must ring a bell so that their spirits can find their way."

Whether through divine intervention, someone having a bell on their phone, or the simple fact that it was noon, Shirou was willing to bet it was the latter. A bell tolled three times.

When Rory moved from the shrine, Shirou was pretty confident they were done, but Arpeggio hadn't moved. Instead, she was clutching the stone, light emanating from between her fingers. A single inhale from his nose brought the feeling of earth, of dust, and ancient stone, and then he could see the ripple passing through the altar almost as if it were a pool that a rock had been thrown in and then nothing.

But all around him, he could hear gasps of surprise and awe. He could hear some people beginning to weep.

Arpeggio stood and swayed, seeing that she was the only one remaining at the altar and that she could catch herself. Shirou broke formation and crossed the distance in the blink of an eye, and just like that, she was in his arms.

Lowering her to the ground, he began checking her vitals, but they were all steady, as was her breathing.

"My sister has merely over-exerted herself, Shirou. So there isn't cause for worry." Lelei said as she approached.

Shirou nodded and swept the mineral mage into his arms as he stood. "Do you know what she did?" He asked.

The blue-haired girl shook her head, "she has always been one for sentiment, so it likely has something to do with that. However, her branch of magic is so different than my own."

"If everything's good, then we should move out," Itami said

A woman broke through the crowd and rushed toward the group, Shirou readied a projection and was about to bring it into being as Itami, and the others raised their guns when the woman fell to her knees. "Thank you so much!" She said as she began to weep. "My Tomiko, I can see her. She's smiling."

In his arms, Shirou felt the girl shift, "the earth remembers." She said, peering through barely opened eyes.

Then Shirou noticed a massive number of people in the crowd were staring at the wall. Some had tears streaming down their faces; others wore soft smiles, and even more, were looking around at the others around them as if they had lost their minds. The wall, he had to admit, had a sheen that it lacked before, and a smell that felt strongly of the exact thing was hard to pinpoint, but it felt closest to liquid metal. Squinting at the memorial, he searched for any image and still found none.

"Emiya," Itami said as he held a phone up to his ear. "Our message is out, and Kamakado has a number of our watchers in custody. So it's time to go."

Shirou adjusted Arpeggio once more and moved to follow the example of the others as they moved away from the memorial. The crowd parted as they approached. All around them, there was cheering, clapping, and tear-streaked smiling faces. If a single person left in the group didn't belong, they were exceptionally adept at hiding their intentions, which any decent magus was capable of it. Or they didn't exist.

Worst case scenario, he released Arpeggio in the gentlest way he could imagine given the situation and responded accordingly. In the end, however, that didn't become an issue. They reached the military checkpoint for the gate without a problem.

"Sir, we have an urgent message for you inside." One of the soldiers that fell into step around them said. He quickly ushered all of them into the hangar as fast as possible.

As soon as the hangar doors closed, the group scattered. The Princess, Boses, and Mamina were standing off to one side, the bunny warrior not believing her duty was done until the Princess was where she needed to be or at least back on the other side of the gate.

Itami, Tomita, and Kuribayashi were all engaged in conversation with the driver from Itami's team and from several of the more animated motions Kuribayashi was making, retelling the events from the past few days.

Lelei and Tuuka were going through many of the shopping bags that had somehow made their way into the hangar. Though as far as Shirou knew, they'd left all of them in the car when they'd gotten out.

"Lieutenant? Are you sure your ex is going to be okay?" Tomita asked.

"It's an exciting place to visit, and there were many enjoyable aspects, but I can honestly say, I am rather glad that I do not live here.

"It's another world, your Majesty. It shouldn't be a surprise that you would find our world more comfortable."

A familiar tapping told Shirou all of what he needed to know what was going on behind him without needing to look. Rin was no doubt standing there, her hands on her hips, slightly leaning forward and giving him the stink eye. But, as he turned, he found that she was doing just that, "how long are you going to let that girl hang on you? You know she's not that exhausted."

Arpeggio did seem to be rather flush, and she was smiling, but she didn't react to Rins words leaving Shirou still unsure where the girl stood.

"Are you really angry that she's taking advantage of him, or do you just wish you were the one he was holding in his arms, girl?" Rory asked as she moved to stand in between Shirou and rin.

Mentally counting down from three, Shirou sighed as a vein in Rins forehead began to flex and bulge every few moments. Finally, she threw her nose into the air and stalked away. I've got some reports to fill out. I'll see you later, Shirou," she said.

Shirou didn't get a chance to move an inch as Itami approached him, phone outstretched. "It's for you," he said.

End

A/N: Okay, so, to those of you who review saying I shouldn't create new stories and should instead focus on the ones I have written, let me say thank you, and I do understand where your coming from. That is the place I am in now. However, I am a sucker for a good challenge, which Alex Kellar's contests are. Plus, they are fun, and his art is great.

Next, to those suggesting scene breaks, while I do appreciate the suggestion, I do try not to use them, only for switching characters given a choice. Does it make it harder to read? Probably, but I need to get better at writing smoother transitionary content, which is the goal in many ways?

Once more, thanks to all of my patrons, and if you wish to join them and support me while also getting access to early chapters and several of my original works that are in progress, head here: patr- /swryder

Or if you'd like to chat, you can do that on my discord. htt (ps:/dis) (cord.g) (g/hN3eEHq)

Exciting news: I am officially in talks with an artist to draw up several scenes for one of my original novels to be added to the book, along with working on several greeting card ideas I'm collaborating on with another creator on .

Anyways my thoughts on the chapter, I feel it's probably a bit too short for my tastes, but it's an excellent connecting point. I thought about not leaving it a cliffhanger, but it works for me.

There's a poll regarding story rotation on my profile! Let your vote mean something!

I hope at least the majority of you all enjoyed reading this. As for writing it, it was a blast.

Till next time.