Here we are once again! You all having fun? I would hope so if you decided to stick through things this far, anyway.

Review response time!

calderoneric: …Actually, you're right. Medusa does fit that bill!

FakerHero: You're good; I know that pain very well. It happens to me more than I would like. A good bit for EMIYA is inbound in s chapter or two!

feddy lane 1: Ominous stuff is fun stuff.

D N Works: Lots of stuff is going on, believe me. Gilles fate is... a mystery.

Kamijou Touma1: Processer Suit isn't introduced in the Index timeline for several Novels after this, so it appearing is unlikely.

Guest (1): Good guess!

Ihaxlikenoob: …Not going to lie, I forget sometimes about the Iron-Sand Giant, and using it in a later segment could have been good to use it, and I'm not sure how to fit it in without a larger-sized rewrite, which I don't have time for at the moment... I apologize in advance, my friend. As for Hrunting, I actually couldn't find speed figures for attacks, which lead to the "Railgun with a Projection" idea, so once more, I apologize. Seems I'm still lacking in places when it comes to my research... still, I'm glad you enjoyed it regardless, though!

paeluclucas: Glad you liked it!

ActionTReaction: You'll find out soon!

Dia Grail: Yes, yes I did.

craytherlay: Those are some fun theories! Let's see if they play out!

Vivisa: I actually know very little about Richard, actually. Sorry if that's disappointing.

MythAnime: I feel like you're insinuating Magic God involvement...

Sora with an S: Still sounds like you're having fun! On the AIM Jammers... you're right. I got the devices flipped hard. That's entirely my bad.

tsun: Hopefully things stay fun! As for attack speeds, please refer to a response above on it. TLDR: I can be dumb sometimes.

TheB: I couldn't find any speed figures on it, as I saw above. Likely my fault for not going as deep in with my research; I'm sorry.

Maxim7: Gilles just can't win. The details about the mirrors damaging him are small notes. There is something supernatural in the light being reflected, but not all of it is supernatural. I'll let you ponder a little.

sawtooth44: Yeah, I screwed on on the Hrunting speed figure. Me the big sad.

MrQuestionMark: Madness only begets more madness, after all! Glad you liked the Demon God Battery idea; it a concept that'll pop back out when you least expect it, and I felt it was a good thought on the "Science and magic" cross, as you described. I'm happy it turned out well! Ritsuka has hit his stride a little bit with their first victory, and is adapting to the goings on. Plus, he and Mashu are representing Chaldea as a whole!

Guest (2): Good theory!

Mr. X: 1) Just my two cents on it; we can have differing views, my friend! 2) Yeah, there's been some mix-ups on my end; I'm sorry. 3) Sadly, those two kinda steer clear of each other. Not out of dislike, mind you; just no real reason for the to interact. 4) It will happen when the time is right. There's going to be a... event between them both prior to it.

Guest (3): Lil' Miss 545 didn't start messing with his calculations until Platinum Wings were involved. Sorry if it's disappointing, but I really can't clarify more on this without spoiling, and I'm not sure the plan would be satisfactory to you even if I gave you a heads up. There is a reason why I won't be making use of Accelerator's wings; that's all I can say.

Missingmoney: You're good; I've discussed it more in depth above if you'd like an explanation. But, for your second half, it's funny that you've mentioned that...

dhart868: …Ha. That would be great!

Ylnadiir: I've read it, but it wasn't until after this story was made and planned before I did so. Putting in some of the new bits from Dark Matter would require a bunch of rewrites. I've discussed speed-stuff above, but I am happy that you're having fun!

Guest (4): The crypters would likely see him as a massive threat to their operation. There's no idea how Imagine Breaker would interact with the Lost Belts.

Darkrai Mier: More, huh? Fine; have some more!

And with that done... enjoy!


"Is this who you two ran off with!?" Kuroko shouted.

"Hehe… sorry! We kind of forgot to call back!" Saten rubbed the back of her head.

"And you!" She turned, pointing an accusing finger at Charles Babbage. "You let them follow you around!?"

The light on Babbage's robot body dimmed slightly. "You think I didn't try to dissuade them?"

"Well…" Saten scratched the back of her head. "It was really Uiharu who pushed for it…"

With the heavy ordinance unit destroyed, Chaldea and their associates had taken a moment to regroup and collect their thoughts now that they were moderately safe. Though Cú and Heracles were still mopping up, that didn't look like it'd take awfully long at all.

"Really?" Mikoto crossed her arms and turned toward the flower-headband girl.

"He was going after the ones involved with all this hacking business," Uiharu stated. "I did send that report, right?"

"You did, but it's not like that explained where you went. All you said was that you were going to look into it further and we hadn't heard from you since!" Kuroko grilled her.

"By that point, I had moved into such dangerous territory that it'd be better if they stayed with me anyway," Babbage stated curtly. "This one has actually been quite helpful in my quest," He held a hand over Uiharu. "But it would seem it was something of a package deal…"

"Hey; when you go full robot mode and start swinging, I keep her safe! You can't be in two places at once!" Saten smiled cheerfully.

"…Noted."

"That sounded sarcastic!"

"Only because it was."

"Oh, well- h-hey! Cut that out!" The girl began prodding the machine with her metal bat.

Mikoto sighed but managed to smile. "At least you're alright; we thought we had lost you both since you went radio silent."

"I apologize; had I known they were particularly valuable cargo, I would have returned them promptly." Charles Babbage bowed… or at least as much as his hulking form would allow, anyway.

"What were you doing with them anyway?"

"Investigation. Since my enemy has been using this city's own network against it, just in a more passive form until now. I was checking into its main connection terminals in search for the culprit, as they would likely give easy access to their networks. Perhaps I should have destroyed them rather than leaving them intact, however…"

"Doing so would have crippled the city further; the constant creature invasion only ended recently," Kuroko commented. "I suppose that would have prevented this, but I doubt you investigated them all in a single day, and all at just the right time to sync up with the end of that side of this."

"It is unfortunate. I can only go so fast without expending my own energy completely, I'm afraid," Babbage stated. "This form might be somewhat impressive, but it does have its limitations. Regardless, my goal here was the connection terminal here in district 2."

The twin-tailed teleporter crossed her arms. "The one here is tied into an Anti-Skill base, I believe. With all the various Anti-Skill and Judgment facilities in the area, its likely well defended…"

"Is that so? If only I had searched here first, then; I could have avoided all of the running around. That sounds like the prime place to turn into a fortress."

"That probably wouldn't have been the case, sir," Romani stated as Ritsuka and Mashu approached. "Considering what we learned with the summoning pit, it's very likely that one of King Solomon's Demon Gods is in charge of the Divine Hacking Core. If you'd gone alone, it would have been a death trap."

"You think that, but I'll have you know that this form comes with a quite potent self-destruct option. I very well might have been able to take it with me."

"You can't do that!" Uiharu grabbed one of his large arms. "You'd die, right!?"

"And… well, the possibility of the Demon God's survival; if you intend to help this city, then you blowing yourself up might have hurt it in the long run, sir." Romani added.

Babbage let out a little steam. "A girl not understanding that I have already passed on, and another man doubting my capabilities. I'm not sure which is more infuriating…"

"Don't be like that!" Saten chimed in. "If you were go and leave us, you'd make us cry, you know? Dead, not dead; doesn't matter. There's a good person under all that thick skin!" She tapped his armor again.

The light on his body lit up again, only to dim shortly after. "…Very well, I'll suspend my self-destruct protocol."

"Good! We don't want you going anywhere, big guy!" Saten grinned.

"I suppose that Charles Babbage is known for having a particular set of weaknesses when it comes to girls…" Romani reasoned out. "Though with how candid he's being with those two, it's almost like he's in their age group with a couple of crushes or something!"

"…You there, Master of Chaldea," Babbage addressed. "Where is that man in that hologram?"

"He's back at Chaldea. It'd be pretty hard to reach from here, though…" Ritsuka trailed off.

"Never mind that; a location is good enough. I shall crush him with my steam hammer post-haste."

"C-c-crush me!? What did I say!?" Romani shouted.

Mashu shook her head. "I don't think he liked that commentary, doctor…"

Ritsuka laughed a little, but that joyful nature quickly shifted to a surge of terror as he looked around. The mop-up was done, but now that his work was finished, Heracles was standing in the open. That wasn't what frightened him, though.

It was that Hippolyta was approaching him.

"Crap, crap, crap!" He called out. "I forgot about her! Heracles! Spirit form-!"

It was too late; Hippolyta had already struck the Greek Berserker's chest. However…

"Hey, long time no see, big guy!" She smiled as she playfully tapped his chiseled chest. "Feels super different having you on my side for once!"

"W-wait, you're not mad!?" Ritsuka stammered out.

"Me? Nah; thing you gotta understand about things way back when," She actually leaned her shoulder into the large man's chest with confidence. "Dying in a fight is the greatest honor for us Amazons, even if death is the last we'll ever see of this world. Plus, dying against a direct descendant of Zeus? I'd say I did surprisingly good for myself if it took something like that to put me down! Just because I don't like that I died back then doesn't mean I can't have any pride in the way I went out!"

"We were just worried you'd have a negative reaction to him since… well, you know." Mashu stated.

"You say that like he's the only person who ever tried to kill me," Hippolyta shrugged. "No, it's fine; it's not like he did it out of malice or anything. I'd be a little pissy if he was still running around like a wild animal, but he seems pretty tame, even for a Berserker," She tapped his chest again. "Just try not to go ape-shit and lob off my head this time, ok?"

Heracles looked away, rubbing the back of his head. Was he feeling embarrassed over this? The inner workings of a Berserker's mind, especially while under Madness Enhancement, was a curious mystery indeed.

"The fact you guys can go on about chopping off heads like it's a casual sport uneases me…" Touma remarked as he approached.

"Ape…" Kuroko's voice immediately filled with venom. "Couldn't you have died with the robots somehow?"

"For the second time, is that how an officer of Judgment should be speaking to a citizen!?"

Mikoto groaned. "Back off, Kuroko," She sparked a little. "Now, what the hell are you doing here, idiot?"

Touma deadpanned. "I feel like we've had this exact conversation before."

"It is somewhat similar…" Romani chimed in.

"I saw it," Mikoto spoke flatly. "That weird eyeball thing was really hard to miss, even all the way down here, but you know what else I saw? Those things. And don't you try playing dumb."

She was of course referring to the dragons that erupted from Touma's right arm. She had seen them from a unique position during Daihaseisai, so she was familiar with their existence, as well as what needed to happen in order to set them loose.

"R-right…" Touma rubbed the back of his head. "For what it's worth, it's not like I was trying to get my arm blasted off or anything…" That seemed to get the attention of Mikoto's friends, who otherwise had no idea what they were talking about.

"I don't care about what you were trying to do; what the hell are you doing risking your life and almost dying again!?" She continued. It would seem that Chaldea's concern over Touma's safety was shared.

"S-so I should just sit around and do nothing!? What do you expect me to do when people's lives are on the line!?"

"Then why didn't you come ask me for help you idiot!?"

"That's… ah…" He really didn't have a good counter for that.

"I wasn't busy; all I was doing was handling little things around the district! If you had just done something as simple as calling me and asked, I could have done something so you wouldn't have to throw yourself at literally every single thing that tries to hurt you! You do this every single time you selfish moron!"

"O-Onee-sama!" Kuroko squealed at the idea, but Saten held her back from jumping in.

"With all due respect," Romani chimed in. "Against what we encountered… well, sorry if it feels like I'm underselling you, but I somewhat doubt that what occurred really could have been prevented. You might have been great support, but the end result would likely have been the same."

"I don't want to hear that from the group putting him in these death-defying situations to begin with!" Mikoto's head snapped around.

"We didn't force him to do anything-!" Mashu tried to argue back.

"I don't want to hear it, eggplant!"

"E-eggplant!?"

"Misaka-san, please understand; if this doesn't work out, then everyone dies," The good doctor spoke up. Mikoto turned her head around ready to argue but held back upon hearing the last line. "And I mean everyone; Kamijou-san, you, us; everything goes up in smoke. If he didn't want to join us, we'd allow it. Heck, we'd escort him home personally. But as long as he wants to help us, and I mean he genuinely wants to, it's our duty to accept his aid. We're all risking our lives out here, not just him. We can scold him for going as far as he did, but at the end of the day, we might have only survived because of what he tried to pull off."

The railgun eyed the doctor for a moment. "…Him going above and beyond just to save people he hardly knows is just like him…"

"Except he's also trying to save this world. If you think about it, that means he's trying to save you too."

Mikoto's face lit up almost immediately. "D-don't go throwing that in my face! That's not his main goal and you know it!"

Touma sighed. "The point is that if I can do something, I'm going to. I'm not going to sit idly by and let other people sacrifice themselves for me when I can lend a land, even if what I do in the end is something small," He then began scratching the back of his head, looking off sheepishly as he did so. "And… sorry for worrying you, Misaka. That's one of the last things I wanna do…"

"…Idiot," She sighed, seemingly calmed down. "Nothing you do is particularly small…" She put her hands on her hips. "Fine, if you're going to use that logic, then let's go; I'm coming too."

"B-but-!"

"If that logic works for you, then it works for me. Now let's go!"

"H-hey! You don't even know where we're going!? L-let go of my hand, I can walk just fine!"

Kuroko finally got free and attacked the two shortly, but it was decided to be time to press forward. As things went on though, Cú Chulainn, Queen Medb, and EMIYA watched on.

"…And he strikes again," Cú remarked. "Not a bad girl, though. It's kinda obvious, but there's a real fire in her gut, you know?"

"No kidding," EMIYA crossed his arms. "The girl is definitely smitten, even if she has trouble being true to herself."

"Fear of rejection, probably," Medb commented. "He doesn't seem to show particular romantic interest in her, so it makes it a mystery whether or not he would say yes or no. Bet if he asked her, she'd accept right away."

"Think so?"

"I mean, she'd probably be a sputtering mess; she clearly has no experience with men. But in the end, she'd likely take him up on whatever offer he put on the table."

Cú laughed a little. "How does it feel to have more competition with us?"

"Great; it means I get to see more of what the other girls trying to hop on him have to offer and sufficiently stomp them into the dirt. I've almost forgotten how much fun the chase is."

"Downside to everyone being ready and willing at the word, huh?"

EMIYA nodded. "It'd make sense; variety is the spice of life."

"All will fall before me eventually," Despite her words, Medb seemed to agree with a nod. "But a little bit of hard to get every now and then can certainly be entertaining… wait, who are you two siding with here? You're being rather casual about this."

"Isn't it obvious?" EMIYA started walking with the rest of the group.

"Learn to read in-between the lines, would you?" Cú snickered a little and did the same.

"T-that doesn't tell me anything!" She followed right up behind them.

With the coalition formed, the group pressed on. It didn't take long for Uiharu to find the exact location of the connection terminal; it was actually part of an Anti-Skill facility proper. The reason for the arrangement was probably so they could monitor incoming and outgoing information to keep Academy City's secrets locked away, as well as acting as security for the site itself. Judging from the size of the complex, it was a prime place for anyone taking advantage of the war happening within its walls.

They had no idea which Demon God could be in charge, as their existence was formed long before the computer. Unlike with Sabnock, they'd be going in blind.

The group expected more resistance; if the area was primarily used by Anti-Skill and Judgment, it was implied that there'd be quite a bit of military hardware kept in the facility. However, it was like the Divine Hacking Core didn't even know they were there, despite them likely having access to the district's security feeds.

"…What's that?" Saten ran over to a downed Power Suit. Part of it was cut in half, but it looked like its armor was scorched too. "Down the alleyway! There's a bunch of them!"

"What the hell got to these guys…?" Kintoki scratched his head. "These aren't part of the unit we sent with the Ten Legs, right?"

Hippolyta shook her head. "Not a chance; this is way farther down than they reached before we lost contact. If I had to guess, our enemy activated these units from the reserves in the area… though that doesn't explain what happened to them."

"Let me scan them…" Romani offered. After a moment or two, he spoke up again. "Well, look at this! Looks like we got ourselves a mystery!"

"What'd you find?" Mashu questioned.

"These things got mana in them, all right," The doctor answered. "Not like with that whole demon god battery fiasco and that strange Caster's shenanigans; these things seem to be standard units. The mana is radiating from their damage, not their internals."

"Burn marks and slashes…" Ritsuka mused. "Signs like that point to Gawain, but he's up north still, right?"

"Exactly; I don't think a Servant is responsible for these decommissioned units."

Saten scratched her head. "Isn't that a good thing, though? That's less things to try and kill us, right?"

"The problem is that the cause is unknown, and that whomever or whatever is responsible very well might be hostile to us as well," Kuroko stepped forward to investigate, rubbing the burn marks only to find them cold; these things were taken out hours ago. "An esper of at least level four would be able to burn Powered Suits like this, but to cut through them is likely something else; they're very fine gashes."

"And the doctor mentioning mana…" Mashu closed her eyes. "…Kamijou-san, would it be possible for mages to make their way here this quickly?"

"Maybe…?" Touma shook his head. "Academy City is the only place shut down as far as I know. I guess it would be possible that the rest of the country is just fine."

"So, they might have landed in the safer area around Tokyo and infiltrated…" Romani crossed his arms. "I'll keep the trackers up and running and watch for human signals. Keep your eyes peeled."

"Having a Caster of our own around suddenly sounds a lot more imperative…" Cú remarked. "How long before we can try for a summoning?"

"At least a day or so," Da Vinci chimed in. "Sorry; I think there are a lot of spots you could use for a summoning circle, but it's a restriction on our end."

"It's fine; just figured I'd ask. Too bad our Archer is such a shoddy mage."

"One, screw off," EMIYA growled. "Second, it's a different magic system entirely. Their understanding of it would take time, even for the Caster-class."

"I know, but-!"

There was a sudden explosion. It wasn't large enough to be seen over the city skyline, or be felt through the ground, but the sound of it was clear.

"Doctor; we might need you! That sounded like it came from the direction we're going!" Mashu called out.

The doctor nodded and got right to work. "I got at least twenty-two magic signatures due south. I'm picking up the readings of a Caster-Class Servant, but I'm also detecting a massive mana source that doesn't look to be a Servant at all inbound on that position, too!"

"So, they brought out the big guns, huh?" EMIYA reasoned out. "We should proceed with caution."

With a confrontation confirmed ahead, they decided to investigate. Even if this world's Magic Side was geared against them, that didn't mean they should be ignored; a careful analysis of the situation could aid their next move.

What they saw was a group of twenty people surrounding a small family that was pressed up against a building. One of the man's two blonde girls was out ahead too; the area looked like it was torn apart by a harsh battle. The opposition were dressed in robes, clueing in their existence as magicians due to their unusual attire, but the family seemed rather normal.

The area appeared to be a somewhat spacious park in the form of a rectangle, surrounded on all sides by roads and several four-way intersections. The magi inhabited the park, while the family was pushed to the north buildings across the street. The girl standing ahead of them all was in the middle of the road, and upon closer inspection was outright glaring at the men across from her. The final signal Romani reported on was absent, but that wasn't what threw Chaldea off.

"…Why does it look like they're fighting that little girl?" Mashu voiced her confusion. "I feel the presence of a Servant, but-!"

"Look carefully," EMIYA warned as he overlooked the battle. "Not everything is as it seems."

One of the magi attacked; the assault was a simple bolt of energy, but the girl intercepted it just as it'd make contact, catching it almost playfully before sending it back at her attacker. Another responded with a wave of fire, only for her to freeze the wave in a block of ice, almost as if to mock him before doing the same to the caster, forcing his allies to aid their frozen companion. Looking at it from afar, the battle looked completely one-sided in the little girl's favor.

But where was she getting all that power? That was two separate abilities she used, so she couldn't have been an esper, right?

"…That little girl is the Caster-Class, isn't it?" Ritsuka asked.

Romani nodded. "Looks to be. Our readings match: she must be disguising her appearance with magic. I can't tell you who it is just yet for some reason; it's likely related."

The group decided to get a little closer so they could overhear what exactly was happening. There was a large amount of clear confusion from the enemy side, but a call out from the girl silenced them.

"For the last time, leave us alone!" The blond girl roared. "We were just fine without you! Leave us be!"

The girl's father held her sister close and kept distance from them, but he was clearly concerned. "Elza, what's going on!? I thought you were a level 0…!"

"I-I'll explain later!" The girl called back. "Please, just stay back and stay safe!"

"Don't think you can fool us, you monster!" One of the mages called out. "We followed the trail right to you! Leave those two innocent souls alone!"

"I'm the one trying to keep them safe, and then you come around and try to hurt us!" Elza fired back. "We were just fine without you! Leave!"

"We can't let that thing continue to use that man and child…!" The mage who was frozen spoke when he was free. "We might have been cut off from the Amakusa, but we have a duty here! I'm not going to let you go on a rampage like your kind did in the English Channel!"

Elza shook her head. "I don't know what you're talking about…!" She turned briefly toward her father and sister. "Papa, Marie; please run when you have a chance to!"

"Papa! We can't leave Elza!" The sister cried out. "She'll get hurt!"

"I'll be fine; I was before, remember? I'll take care of this and come find you! I promise!"

"Don't listen to her!" One of the men called out. "That's not your daughter; she's only borrowing her form to deceive you!"

"I'm trying to keep them safe!" Elza argued. "You miserable vandals… you're no better than the ones who hurt Alice!"

Ritsuka's eyes widened. Alice?

Before he could reason it out, the magi attacked again, this time doing so in unison. With sleight of hand, Elza unleashed a massive whirlwind to disrupt their spells. One did make it through though, striking the girl's chest. The blow didn't appear to cause much damage, but suddenly she began to convulse in pain before doubling over.

"Elza!" Marie cried out, wrestling away from her father to run out to her.

"That counter spell should do the trick! Show us what you really look like, you beast!" One of the men hollered as the girl began to writhe and twist on the ground. Slowly, her form began to glow, before abruptly shattering just as her sister would reach the unfortunate girl.

Moreover, when it did, a simple book fell to the ground. The cover read "Alice in Wonderland."

"Eh…?" Touma blinked. "Just a… book?"

"That's no ordinary book!" Romani called out. "With the form dropped, I can read it out clearly; that's Nursery Rhyme!"

"From London?" Mashu questioned. They were starting to encounter quite a few heroic spirits that appeared there. And with that, she knew what Nursery Rhyme was capable off; her seeking out a family of some kind was within her motivations. But unlike in London, this Nursery Rhyme was wholeheartedly interested in keeping the family she found sheltered. This was clearly a large misunderstanding spiraling out of control.

"Elza…?" Marie eyes were watering as she reached for the book. However, one of the magi got there first and picked it up.

"Target captured, just like we wanted," He stated. "Sorry about the confusion; we just wanted to get this thing away from you before you were hurt."

"I don't understand… what's with that book? Where's Elza? Where is my sister!?"

The mage grimaced a little; he knew that was going to be a rough one to explain. Maybe it'd be best if they just put her and the father to sleep and cast a spell on their memories. The father looked just as distressed, but more at a loss for words at the sight before him. He was about to call out to his associates when his hand twitched.

Or rather, the book in his hand did.

"Let! Me! Go!" The book suddenly came alive, ripping itself from the man's grip and floating in the air. "You disgusting pervert!"

"What are you- h-hey! Who are you calling a pervert-!?" The mage was taken aback when the book abruptly slammed its spine right into his face, breaking his nose. The other mages tried to race out, but the pages in the book flipped and unleashed a second powerful gust of air, scattering them all a second time.

"I'm really mad now; you hear me!?" Defying logic, the book itself was talking. "I wasn't doing anything wrong! I just wanted to grant their wish and keep them safe! They wanted their Elza back, so I did the best I could; I saw the hope in their eyes when they found me, so how could I refuse!? But you had to come and rip it all away! All I wanted to do was make sure this little girl didn't end up like Alice!"

At this point, the book changed form to that of another girl, this time younger and in a black Victorian era dress with a matching cap. The lighter skin tone, eye color change, and shift in hair was especially apparent.

"That's the form she took when we fully revealed her back in London…!" Mashu remarked. "Something isn't right here… we should do something before it escalates!"

But it was too late.

"Nanasen."

Shockwaves rippled out from the structures behind the magi, slicing up the concrete to bits. The attack didn't strike Nursery Rhyme directly, but rather separated Marie from her. The father took the opportunity to race toward his daughter and grab her, quickly trying to escape the conflict. Rather than run out of the battlefield however, he simply pulled back to his previous spot as the girl struggled in his arms. Perhaps even if the wool had been pulled from his eyes, he couldn't help but see the Caster Servant as anything but his own daughter, and as such couldn't completely abandon her.

The launched attack tipped Touma off to who that large source of mana was though; he knew only one person who used that spell.

A woman of about eighteen stepped out from the building. She stood with long black hair tied in a ponytail, long enough to reach her shapely hips, and wore a simple white T-shirt tied into knots at the bottom, resulting in her smooth stomach being revealed. Her lower half consisted of jeans, with one of the legs cut off to reveal her skin, and western-styled boots. She held a two-meter-long nodachi sword at her side, still within its sheath. The final piece of her ensemble was a simple denim jacket with one of the sleeves removed, the opposite one to her pants.

"Kanzaki…!" Touma gripped the side of the building Chaldea was hiding behind tightly.

"You know that girl, Kamijou-san?" Romani questioned.

"I do…" He frowned a little. "She's a Saint, one of twenty in the world…!"

The doctor didn't fully understand that the title of "Saint" was more than just that in this world, but one thing he could easily recognize was the power of the sword maiden standing before Nursery Rhyme. The mages were above average at best, somewhat comparable to magi of their world, but that girl?

She could easily pass for a heroic spirit on magical power alone.

"Leave that family," She ordered. "Lay down your arms and come along quietly. If you do so, we shall assure the safety of them."

"As if I'd believe that! You're the ones who attacked us!" Nursery Rhyme fired back.

"I understand that, and I understand you have reasons higher than just your own," Kanzaki continued. "However, our goal is to restore stability to this land, including to people just like them. You might believe you are assisting them, but the reveal of your true form might have caused more harm than good."

The black-dressed Caster's eyes widened, looking back toward the confused family she had been with for so long. She gritted her teeth after that.

"Even so… even so!" She held her hands in tight fists. "What's wrong with me trying to give them what they wanted!? Our meeting might have been an accident, but so what!? If you hadn't come… if you hadn't have come…!"

A powerful shockwave rippled out from her, and Kanzaki took action. She did not intend to draw her sword; she'd simply render her unconscious with a single blow before she could attack in anger. However, something caught her weapon in the air; something powerful.

It was a massive humanoid creature, easily two meters tall with dark red skin. Purple line tattoos, appearing like circuitry, appeared throughout its form, and certain sections of its body were jagged in nature, almost as if its existence was incomplete. It had large wings, implying flight, but rather than any facial features, it simply had the similar tattoo markings, although these were a bright orange. It was slightly see through, but its physical nature was very apparent despite that.

"…Unknown whereabouts," Nursery Rhyme began to chant. "Fire-spouting dragons and cloud-breathing giants," She continued. "Illusions are silhouetted apparitions. Adult conversations are, perhaps, full of lies. The truth lies within Professor Dodgson's head!" She finished, and the entity fully manifested. "This is my friend, mine and Alice's companion. This is our Jabberwock!"

The hulking monster swung Kanzaki around by her sword before releasing her. She flew toward the top of the opposing structure. The magi scrambled, using whatever spell they could think of to attack the hulking beast, but any damage dealt was quickly healed as if nothing had even happened. A few attacks it even knocked right back, as if it could naturally repulse magic.

"This is your last warning, all of you!" Nursery Rhyme shouted. "Leave us alone!"

Then, without warning, the Jabberwock was defeated in a single slash. She could feel her friend suddenly be torn asunder. She turned, seeing it disintegrate and reveal another man suddenly appearing behind her.

"R-Romani! Were you asleep at the wheel!?" Ritsuka called out. "Were did that guy come from!?"

The doctor stammered. "I-I have no idea! One minute there was nothing, the next he showed up and attacked! It's like an Assassin's presence concealment!"

"Oh no…!" Touma gulped. "T-that's even worse! They let him out for this!?"

"You know that one too!?" Romani was frantic. "That signature is even higher than that Kanzaki girl!"

The man had short, tea-colored hair, and a rough face looking like it was chiseled from stone. He was tall, roughly around 183 centimeters tall, and had a very muscular build for his size. Despite that, he dressed simply; a white and blue long-sleeved polo shirt and blue pants. However, what was far from simple was his weapon.

It was a three and a half meter-long broadsword, weighing about two-hundred kilograms. It was very unique in design with all kinds of attachments to it; a thick axe-like blade, an thin razor, a church-key spike, a fretsaw wire, a giant saw on the back, a hook-like spike on the pommel, and a third spike near the grip. The word "Ascalon" was written close to the hilt, painted right alongside a knight's crest.

"Depictions of the Jabberwock can vary, even if Lewis Carrol's own interpretation exists. It has shifted and changed over time; even the one you called forth is different. Some of those depictions, for example, can look and behave very much like a dragon."

The man spoke in a harsh, serious tone as he glared down at Nursery Rhyme. If that blade was Ascalon, as in the one used by Saint George or at the very least similar to it, the man likely used its anti-dragon attributes to slay the Jabberwock. Even if the specific "Vorpal Blade" was necessary, being the direct counter to a beast as mighty as a dragon likely qualified it at concept.

Nursery Rhyme tried to move away but stumbled. Something about the man frightened her; she felt as though his presence was that of a monster even more intimidating than the Jabberwock itself. He heaved up the massive blade with one hand with ease, taking aim at the Caster.

"I am Acqua of the Back; it is my duty to bring balance to this land, for its instability has reached as far as my country. For that, creations of this crisis must be eliminated. If you will not cooperate, then…!"

He lifted up the blade like an executioner's axe. It was more of a threat than proof of intent, meant to scare her into backing down, but Nursery Rhyme only saw the incoming blade. She was scared, frightened of dying without securing that family's safety from these men who attacked them. The damaged family that sheltered her, cared for her…

…Loved her, just like Alice.

So, in that panic, she cried out as loud as she could.

"Help me… help me, please!" She took a deep breath. "Help me, Karna-saaaaaan!"

As she made that announcement, a new signature showed up on Romani's equipment, rapidly approaching on route to make contact with Acqua of the Back. Engulfed in flames, it struck without warning, harshly kicking the man like a wrecking ball and launching him down one of the adjacent streets. He smashed into a smaller structure at the very end, which then began to collapse on top of him. With the target seemingly dealt with, the fire dispersed and revealed the being behind the attack.

The male was thin; his skin alternating between the darkest of blacks and the brightest of whites and dressed in golden armor that revealed most of it. The man twirled his golden spear around with skill, prepared for a counterattack, although not one mage dared after dispatching such a foe. The red gem in his chest shone as bright as his green eyes, and his unkempt white hair only briefly hid them from view.

"…As requested, I have answered your summons, Nursery Rhyme," He spoke. "Or would you prefer your chosen name, Elza?"

"Karna-san… Karna-san…!" She was practically crying. "You came… you really came!"

Meanwhile, Romani was stunned. "K-Karna!? Of all the things that could have shown up, it was him!?"

"Sure starting to sound like we know whoever's popping up in this situation…" Mikoto remarked. "So, who's the fireball?"

"Karna; son of the Indian god of the Sun, Surya…!" Romani trailed off before coming to a realization. "…And he's a Top Servant! He can be our way into the Windowless Building to end this whole mess!"

"Then shouldn't we go and give them a hand?" Touma stepped forward only for EMIYA to hold out a hand to stop him.

"Not yet," He remarked, eyeing the scene carefully. "Something isn't quite right, here."

"You feel it too?" Hippolyta crossed her arms. "…If we move now, we'll be caught in the crossfire and disorganized. We must be the last group to make a move."

Touma was confused; were they feeling something approaching? Or just a simple ill omen? He did have to admit, he had been getting a prickly sensation for a while, but he'd felt that since they arrived. What were they talking about?

Kanzaki burst from the building across the street with her blade, Shichiten Shichitou, fully drawn. If this man could dispatch Acqua of the Back so readily, holding back wasn't an option. Her blade met the shaft of Karna's spear as he moved to block. Her surprise that the entirety of his weapon was metal was brief as she jumped off from the initial impact and raced to strike again, this time with the Top Servant thrusting his own spear to throw her off. Steel met gold as sparks flew while she blocked with her blade, and the two quickly entered a close-quarters exchange.

Karna's spear proved to be a good match for Kanzaki's sword. The latter proved to be quicker than the former, putting him on the defensive right from the start. With her blade nearly just as long, retaliatory strikes were hard to come by and quickly blocked. Honestly, the length of her weapon was just as much her problem as his; were it a shorter blade, it could move even faster and even slip into his guard, but the speed she held with such a large weapon in of itself was impressive to her opponent.

The sound of their clash repeated on an endless loop, grinding against each other time and time again. Though the pale male was on the defensive, he wasn't being pushed back and held his ground well. Their blades met once more, pressing against one another tightly. Kanzaki twisted her arms around, moving the blade under the spear's shaft and flicking it up, sending the golden weapon flying into the air and disarming the man.

"Got you!" She cried, already reorienting herself for a downward slash.

"Foolish!" Karna fired back. "A real hero can kill with a stare!"

His right eye flashed red, and in an instant, a bright red beam of light shot out from it. Kanzaki swing into the blast, the impact sending her flying backward. Her legs dug into the ground, but before long, she was airborne as she was shot into the base of the structure she had previously departed, but continued flying through walls of concrete, fully displacing her from the battle as she soared through several additional office buildings.

"Karna-san!" Nursery Rhyme made an updraft below his flying spear before launching it straight toward him. He turned and caught it as if he was expecting the assist, the fiery attack from his eye coming to a halt.

"Get them to safety," He advised. "I shall cover your escape."

"Ok! I'll come back as soon as I can!" Nursery Rhyme ran back to her family. Some of the magi tried to intercept, but those brave enough were swiftly dealt with, either by Karna simply swinging into their attempted spells or by assaulting them directly.

Eventually, she reached her "father" and "Sister," who were still confounded by what was happening. "E-Elza… you're not… her, are you?" The father asked, sounding as if he were struggling to hold himself together.

"…I'm sorry," She spoke. "I'm really, really sorry for what I did, but now is not the time for apologies! We need to get you out of here!" She cast a spell on Marie, causing her to take to the air.

"P-papa! I'm flying! I'm really flying!" She called out.

"With her in the air, you can run as fast as you can, right?"

The father looked frightened; both by what was happening and by his "daughter" before him. However, he wasn't as foolish as to turn down such an offer. Even if the person before him really wasn't Elza, she was risking her life to try to save them.

"…Ok! I'll lead the way so we can stay together!" He turned and started running with Nursery Rhyme and Marie close behind. Karna turned and watched them carefully; they went due west and looked to stay on that path. As long as no one got past him, they'd likely make it out just fine with such a guardian close at hand.

Blocks of concrete came flying toward him from the west, mostly harmless by his standards. The few that would strike him were easy to slash in half, but what surprised him was the man he had kicked earlier walking down the street casually. Acqua didn't look particularly hurt, just some dust and rubble on his face and clothes. Now that he had time to notice, the slabs of concrete looked particularly moist. Did he have power over water?

"…Flere210." The man spoke.

"Pardon?" Karna didn't understand.

"It means, 'One who changes the reason of tears.' That's all you need to know." Acqua heaved up his Ascalon and took aim toward the child of the sun. The real distinction here was that announcing a mage's magic name was effectively a declaration of war.

"Understood," The pale demigod remarked. "If you wish to make it to that girl and her family, that you must make it through me. But be wary, unknown soldier; I'm not one to fight with the intention of losing."

"And you think I am? When the safety of my homeland is on the line?"

"Then I shall make it clear for you; I swear upon this spear, my flesh, and the sanctity of my mother and father that I will claim victory. I will not accept a defeat that results in the harm of those innocent people!"

Acqua charged ahead, swinging his Ascalon to meet Karna's spear in mere seconds. A shockwave rippled out from the impact, breaking the concrete below their feet as they began to exchange blows.

"…Now would be a good time to step in; Karna may be able to defeat that man but making it much easier for him would guarantee his assistance," Romani spoke up. "Now, let's-!"

"Wait…" Mikoto was the one who tensed up this time. "Something's coming…!"

Looking afar, one could see more magi racing to join the conflict from the south. However, if one had a careful eye, they'd notice several turning back and firing of spells at something. It was hard to see, but as the objects appeared to be taking to the air over the buildings around it, they quickly came into view, appearing as helicopters, although instead of two wings on their sides, there were six, and each one had a machine gun mounted at the tip. It also had visible rocket engines, but they weren't active at the time with all six wings deployed and opening fire on the running magi. As more people spilled out into the intersection, Powered Suits made themselves known too, opening fire on them as well.

It became clear; they weren't eager to join the battle, they were running away from Academy City ordinance under the control of the Divine Hacking Core.

"HsAFH-11… Six Wings…!" Uiharu seemed particularly frightened. "They even have them under their control!?" As she spoke, multiple instances of the aircraft came into view from across the district, flying in to join the scene.

"I'm guessing those are another super weapon like the Ten Legs, right!?" Romani called out. "This is bad; I'm guessing this is why those mages were having trouble!"

"They mentioned being separated from the Amakusa…!" Touma gulped, fearing the worst. "We need to do something! That's probably their trump card, right!?"

Ritsuka nodded. "Even if it's not, we can't wait anymore; if we do, it'll be a massacre."

"Give us orders, then," Cú called out. "It might be a tad difficult, given that they seem pretty gung-ho about taking us Servants out, but I'm pretty sure they'll come around when we stop them from dying!"

"We also need to make progress to the connection terminal…" The Chaldea master closed his eyes for a moment. "We'll split into two teams; one will lead an offensive on the Divine Hacking Core, also making some headway into the mechanical offensive line! The second one will hang back here and try to keep things under control!"

"Human," Othinus popped her head out of Touma's hood. "You're no good against gunfire."

"Right…" The unlucky Kamijou shook his head. "I might be able to do something with these guys; I might not be able to convince Kanzaki to back down on my own, but if I can find the Amakusa, I should be able to pull something off!"

"Well, you can probably figure where I'm going then," Medb remarked. "Right now, we need bodies, and bodies are what this queen was designed to make! I'll give you plenty of breathing room to search!"

"In that case, those bodies need some muscle!" Kintoki added. "Hope you don't mind, but I'll hang back too; some of these things look like they need a real great big punch!"

Ritsuka thought for a moment. "…EMIYA, I'd like these guys to have a ranged option available; you up for it?"

"Sure; I can shoot down a helicopter or two real easy," The red Archer stated quickly. "Guess this means me and Lancer are going our separate ways; damn shame."

"Save me your sarcasm," Cú joked a little. "Alright, these guys stay here and keep them honest while we strike the big bad? I can get down with that!"

Steam escaped Babbage's vents. "As if I needed commands to tell me where I needed to go. Let us end this quickly."

"You sure that you're up for this, big guy?" Hippolyta lightly punched Kintoki's arm.

He grinned. "Born ready! Gotta go make boss Raikou proud, you know!?"

"Alright, let's not waste any more time," Ritsuka ordered. "We'll make a wedge in the enemy line, but it'll be up to you four to handle any reinforcements! Let's move!"

With their roles set, Chaldea and company ran out of their hiding spot, doing their best to bypass the clash between Karna and Acqua of the Back and make contact with the magi with Academy City's military baring down on them. Just as Ritsuka intended, they drove a wedge right into the manipulated machines' offensive line and kept going, leaving four others behind.

Mikoto looked back briefly, but Touma simply nodded at her. A silent agreement: he was entrusting the defeat of the Divine Hacking Core and the safety of the group to her in a situation where he'd be nearly useless. She wanted to argue, but knew better than to do so, instead turning right back around; she had people to keep safe herself.

It was a good thing too; things where starting to heat up as Kanzaki Kaori finally appeared again after Karna's eye-beam attack. She looked more than a little angry too, starting to run out toward the front line before Kintoki slid in front of her.

"No can-do, lil' lady," He stated. "That over there is a private party. If you want to work off some aggression, you're gonna have to put up with me!"

"There is more on the line than something meaningless like pride!" Kanzaki argued.

"I know; that's why I can't let you through," Kintoki's Golden Eater formed in his hand. "I know you probably ain't going to listen to us right out the gate, so I'm gonna earn a little bit of your respect first!"

That was how the scene played out. While Chaldea went for the connection terminal to face off against a Demon God, three servants and a single human stayed behind. Kintoki fought to hold the Japanese Saint at bay, Medb called upon her Celtic army to subdue the Magi, EMIYA kept a sharp eye on the encroaching invasion by Academy City's heavy ordinance, and finally, Touma raced out to try to find some trace of the Amakusa-Style Remix Church.

They'd be the only way of convincing Kanzaki to fully back down; Touma had some pull with her, but not that much, especially with them fighting to try and protect their home from across the sea.


A single Caster bore witness to that sight from high above. He sat on a billboard advertising some nighttime product of some kind with a full moon to represent the calmness of the afterhours. The Caster didn't care much about that though; to him it was just the perfect perch for him to hide out and nothing more. With a little bit of assistance, he was quite capable in constructing a little device to hide him from those down below; as if it were a hand-held Presence Concealment skill, contained in a simple piece of technology.

He was a little surprised when that second Saint came in; that was someone that he would be hard pressed to contain. Hell: could even give one of the Demon Gods trouble if his outward observations were correct. And of course, they absolutely were. For he was-

"Archimedes." A voice called out to him. He turned to his right to see something approaching him; someone he didn't expect.

"Why hello there, Kakine," The Caster greeted almost cheerfully. "I trust you slept nicely. Come to see the show for yourself?"

The blond snorted, now properly healed from the events of a few days ago. "Talking awfully high of yourself for a guy who almost got beaten by booze."

"Well… yes, I suppose that is a problem…" Archimedes frowned. "Maybe I'd ought to remove this woman from the playable roster right now; she could develop into quite the pain down the line."

"Do whatever you want," Kakine shrugged before turning his attention to the conflict down below. "So, what's it like down there?"

"Oh, it's quite entertaining. I predict that there's approximately a seventy to seventy-five percent chance of the Divine Hacking Core's demise today, especially with that waterlogged baboon acting as its only Servant component. It would have been so much better if Charles Babbage and I had been able to see eye-to-eye as inventors, but he seems quite stuck in his ways."

"And you didn't eliminate him because…?"

"Oh, you misunderstand; in a stand-up fight, I'd have no choice but to deploy my Noble Phantasm against him, and there's a tad bit of a… delay of sorts. With that big body of his, rocketing all over the place with steam, it'd be very likely I'd die before it'd reached him, thus, I'd prefer not t have a direct confrontation with him once more. Of course, this happened before I recommended attempting to summon you. I'm thoroughly convinced that you'd have no issues tearing him asunder."

"Is that so?"

"My confidence in you is quite high, sir. Especially with that hidden weapon of yours."

Kakine narrowed his eyes. "That one? Do I even need to ask what would happen if I made full use of it?"

"I suppose that does complicate things," Archimedes admitted. "Of course, if one were to get the grail, such negative consequences of that particular Noble Phantasm could be removed with ease."

"I don't know; do you really think so?"

"Oh, I am quite certain. If you get that… well, I don't think this Accelerator or that man Aleister Crowley would be able to stand up to you. The days of Kakine Teitoku being everyone's unwitting puppet would be over, as you take your position as top of the food chain. Although…" He trailed off, his face breaking into a small smile. "If you were to use it now, I'm sure he'd be more than happy to welcome you into his fold. His enemies would be scattered, and his plan secure. To be quite frank; grail or no grail, you'd have it made."

"Pass," The blond fired back almost immediately. "I told you before; this isn't about power. Stuff like that became meaningless to me after meeting that woman. Right now… all I want is revenge and to take my rightful place back in this world. And I can't do that if there's no world left for me to fit into."

Archimedes narrowed his eyes slightly. "…I suppose you have a point," He stood up. "Shall I leave this to you?"

"And where are you going?"

"To report back; I'm sure he's very interested in our progress," The Caster began to walk away. "You'll have free reign; I doubt any Accelerators or the like will be dropping in to ruin your fun today."

"Shut up and get out of here," Kakine ordered. "I'll do what's necessary; you go make sure that the king of yours is nice and happy."

Archimedes simply smiled and vanished, just as he was told, leaving his device to obscure the presence of a Servant behind. From there, he simply watched the events unfold. He even eyed Kamijou Touma quietly as he fled the battlefield passively; he was intent on not getting involved at all, honestly…

…Or at least he was until his eyes caught the sight of a certain blonde hiding in the Imagine Breaker's hood.


Oh! Ominous!

So that's how we're kicking this next segment off! It might seem like it's a little soon to be re-introducing Karna and Nursery Rhyme, but hopefully the set-up is worth the sudden reappearance of the two, especially with all the chaos going down.

Oh, and our mystery Caster's name has been revealed! Not that Chaldea nor Kamijou Touma could overhear their little conversation... but just what is he up to...?

I hope you all enjoyed. Please, review at your leisure; I still enjoy feedback.

Have a good day, my friends!

Sincerely,
ArmoredCoreNineBall, your friendly (not)robotic (not)overlord (possibly)person who occasionally writes things.