Chapter 15 is hear! And we're officially 3/4's the way through the story. A bit saddening, I know, but we are inching towards the climax!
And the review response is back! Let's get to it.
KingAllen: Things get twisty when stuff like this happens; it' be pretty pointless for him to have it but be unable to use it, you know?
D N Works: Kakine is pretty much up there, only really balanced out by his personality.
Freddy Lane 1: Lore wise, Kakine never really staying dead is absolutely correct.
tsun: The focus on his body's protection somewhat ahs to do with his status as a Servant. If his spirit core is broken, he dies and not even Dark Matter can save him. As a Servant, his ability runs off his mana supply, and destruction of his Spirit Core means he'll leak out off of his mana and die, no matter what. Its effectively a nerf in that sense to keep Kakine from running amok; he can make his body doubles, but he cannot become immortal like he did before because his Dark Matter is a mana-draining Noble Phantasm, just like any other Servant.
Maxim7: Glad the pay-off of EMIYA and Kakine worked out here! The only way Accelerator can deal with the lance would be to intercept him before he throws it.
Guest (1): Potentially, but I'm just gunning for a single Singularity with this one. Sorry!
BlueCore: Glad you liked it.
Mr. X: 1) Yeah, I noticed; it happens. 2) I was more gunning for an emotional reaction, which is what caused him to focus on his risky "Win button," dude got really mad, causing him to not think straight. 3) I've only seen a little, as I wait for the full Novel to be translated, but it looks great!
Masterx01: Hey, thanks for reading all this time! I'm sorry if the action set pieces have been somewhat lack-luster; it's a pretty big weakness of my writing in general that I've been trying to get better at. I do feel like I'm improving, but it's never quite enough, I suppose. My thought process here is those being summoned being tethered to the area, thus being unable to be dispelled completely, but still making Imagine Breaker a powerful weapon against them... and of course, if there would be an opportunity for Imagine Breaker to make contact with a Servant's Spirit Core, it's nullify it just like normal and destroy the Servant. The sets of history thing, the answer is a similarity between this event and the Lost Belts of part 2 in Grand Order. Despite history in these Lost Belts being different, pan-human history Servants do end up still being summoned, mixed in with Lost Belt specific Servants. In this case, the specific Servant with a connection is Kakine himself... but maybe I could have splashed in some more too, but I wanted to focus on Kakine Teitoku. The reason he hasn't abandoned his body just yet is actually due to the restrictions of being a Servant; as its his Noble Phantasm, his Dark Matter consumes mana to make use of, just like any other Servant, and without supplied mana, his Dark Matter falls apart. In that sense, he can't incarnate as a Dark Matter being like Beetle 5 anymore due to his status as a Servant and a constant never-ending need of Mana to remain manifested. If he wanted to go that route, he would have to Incarnate as a living human once again first before he could try it. That as, of course, my thoughts on this; I'm pretty sure someone more well-versed with lore on the Fate-Side of things could poke holes in this pretty well, but that's how I'm thinking on it as far as Kakine's design as a Servant is concerned.
Guest (2): That's Kakine for you!
craytherlay: Kakine will always be Kakine; his goal as an Avenger is revenge, not understanding. Kakine's Gungnir is a working replica, though it's full capacity is unknown as all it has been able to do so far is destroy a Reality Marble, but Othinus using his Gungnir is a possibility.
MrQuestionMark: Yeah; errors happen. But it sounds like you enjoyed the double chapter! I'm glad that Kakine is developing well here; him clicking is one of the more important parts of the story, after all!
TheB: Them's the rub.
Windraider: The risk of using Gungnir was more geared toward the world around him rather than directly to himself, as he wants to secure his position within it, not destroy it. Him having Gungnir is something of a cheat, but the full extent of its power isn't fully understood by those fighting him or Kakine himself; all him throwing it did was shatter the Unlimited Blade Works, rather than destroy all Phases, so it's not known if UBW somehow took the "Hit" persay, or if his Gungnir is weaker in some respect due to it not being wielded by a Magic God. As for how he can wield it without dying... I don't have much of a big reason for it; as said, Gungnir itself is a cheat he shouldn't have, but it was beaten into his Spirit Origin due to being used in its production. I don't have a larger reason why he can survive using it.
Guest (3): That is diving into territory that I'm not entirely certain of.
Guest (4): They probably would.
AkumaESPer: I do think I was able to catch your previous review, so no worries! And it sure sounds like you enjoyed this one, too! Considering what he has come back from, it would be safe to assume that Kakine has some level of Battle Continuation, though I will state that were it not for Archimedes intervention, Kakine would have died due to his injuries sustained by Vasavi Shakti without question. I think Anti-Divine would be more on the Servant than the weapon, but it is possible that it'd have some bonuses applied with the two were to clash directly.
Missingmoney: I commented on a lot of the first part here in my response to Windraider, so I won't do the same here too, as I don't have a whole lot additional to splash in; I'd give it a look see. The reason that Kakine's personality is somewhat of a mix is due to his status and restrictions as a Servant, and due to the fact that this Kakine had been humbled by Othinus; someone he couldn't hope to overcome, and the impact such a thing would have on him in combination with being an Avenger. His already bad temper is intensified by his class, leading to actions done purely out of anger and out of fear of death, as he can't incarnate into a Dark Matter network while he's stuck as a Servant. As for Kakine dealing with different people... it's honestly to avoid repeating the source material itself. He hasn't had a direct versus fight with Beetle 5, sure, but he's fought Accelerator twice already, and doing it for a third time just feels like it'd be a repeat. Plus, while he does have his grudges against people and would likely take aggression against them if given the opportunity, in this story, he's focusing on the big-wigs behind his suffering, particularly, Aleister Crowley and Othinus, and the strangers to him are more of an obstruction to his greater revenge, and in the case of Kamijou Touma, someone who has a connection to both individuals, which is why they've met twice now. That's my thoughts on it all, though, sorry if any of that is disappointing to you to hear. You are more than welcome to disagree with my thought process, my friend; It can be pretty far from perfect at times.
And with that done, we have a story to read! Enjoy!
A few days had gone by. The city had quieted down rather significantly now that both the Unholy Beast Core and the Divine Hacking Core had been routed completely. Though they wisely hadn't given the city the all-clear with the Demon Terrorist Core still at large, life was slowly starting to return to normal in Academy City.
Charles Babbage left with Hippolyta and Kintoki; he showed great interest in Academy City's technology after getting a good look at the monstrosity that Edward Teach had made (probably the one positive thing the bastard ever caused). He couldn't reform his steam-powered robot, but he had an idea or two triggered by that whole "demon god battery" fiasco. It helped that Uiharu and Saten pushed for it, too.
The magic side hadn't withdrawn, but they did pull back their forces to reassess the situation. With the time provided, they were clued in on the whole cavalcade of horrors that had arrived in the midst of this war between King Solomon and Aleister Crowley. They, of course, were just as battered and bruised as the rest, and hopefully the time allotted would let them recover; they could use the help with the last faction and possibly breaking into the Windowless Building.
"Hey, we're back!" Ritsuka walked into the dorm room with Mashu close behind. "We miss anything?"
"Nope; same old, same old," Cú Chulainn remarked from his usual place on the patio's railing. "I just got back from my patrol a while ago; these terrorist guys really aren't making a move. Any luck?"
"We finished investigating the second site; after the initial experiments, finding a pattern with the second was much easier." This voice was new, unlike the two before it.
She wore a hooded blue and purple robe, combined with a darker cowl that commonly covered her face, although right now the hood was pulled back to reveal her long blue hair, similarly colored eyes, and pointed, almost elf-like ears.
"As expected of a Caster," The blue Lancer hopped off the railing and stepped into the room. "How goes tracking the third faction?"
"Provided that all these factions are led by a Demon God, I'd say well," The Caster remarked. "I have things oriented the right direction; we should be able to find the third pillar rather easily."
"Medea is such an awesome mage…" Ritsuka sighed. "Makes me feel like I barely have started…"
"Eh, don't fret too much; getting on her level would need some kind of hardcore cheat at this point," Cú stated. "So, we rolling out?"
"Pretty much; with Mashu, you, EMIYA, Heracles, and Medea out and about, we don't see much point in hanging back and waiting," Romani stated. "By the way, where is Kamijou-san?"
"Out," Index was laying lazily on the bed, but didn't look too happy. "Medb dragged him off somewhere." Othinus looked to be sitting on the table, looking rather broodingly forward as she did so.
Cú frowned. "Yeah; the kid hasn't been in the best of spirits. Guess what happened with Karna hit him a bit there; might have seen him dying in his place, or just might be blaming himself for something related to it. He seems to be a tad bit empathetic if you catch my drift."
"…Even if he's theoretically died before himself, I suppose there really is no getting used to it, huh?" Romani frowned. "He seemed especially negatively influenced by the idea of killing others… maybe he's just been bottling up his feelings on the whole thing, and Karna passing might have caused it to spill over."
"That is certainly possible; death symbolizes many things," Medea added before frowning herself. "Though I had little contact with him, that boy's somber mood is a tad bit telling of his true nature after such an event, isn't it?"
"Yeah…" Romani nodded. "…Maybe Queen Medb getting him out and about was a good thing. I think it might be best for his mental health if we proceed forward without him; her keeping him busy could be good in that respect."
"Yeah, if he was around, he'd throw himself into the fray, regardless of how he's feeling," Index sat up. "It's just how he is."
"…So the skank is finally doing something good for once, huh?" Othinus didn't look amused. "I'm not thanking her, though."
"That's good; if she starts getting thanks and compliments, it'll go straight to her head," Cú smirked. "She should be good enough to keep you lot safe, right?"
"When they get back? Probably. She does have some uses, I suppose. That small army she left behind can at least slow some things down."
"Then I think we'll head out and look into the last Demon God," Romani stated. "With any luck, it should just be the last Core and that unknown Caster left. They should only have one more stronghold left behind, so we should be able to handle it ourselves with Caster's support."
"Obviously; I don't know who he is, but him holding a candle to me is very unlikely," Medea sounded confident. "Not to mention with that burly Heracles with us; this almost feels too easy."
"Well, it's about time things start going our way," Ritsuka scratched the back of his head. "Guess we'll head out and deal with the last Demon God. With any luck, we'll be back before sundown with good news. Heck; maybe Medb will manage to raise Kamijou-san's spirits somehow."
"Not holding my breath…" Othinus crossed her arms. "…But at this point, I'd take it. He does not handle death well."
"Well then, let's go skewer us a Demon God and come back to celebrate," Cú smiled a little. "You lot stay safe, yeah?"
And with that, Chaldea rolled out on its own, determined to end this war without any more bloodshed.
Unfortunately, their departure set something else entirely in motion.
"So, this is ramen, huh?" Medb blinked at the bowl set before him.
"Pretty much; pretty salty, pretty bad for you, but pretty flavorful." Touma nodded a few times.
In the wake of two of the three faction's passing, more Academy City staple businesses started opening up. The place they sat was actually an old favorite to the spiky haired teen whenever he felt lazy and didn't want to cook; a good old fashioned ramen stand run by a shady guy who looked like he'd rather rob you blind over cooking you food.
Still, the food he made was top tier ramen, even if that wasn't that much of an accomplishment by culinary standards.
Medb took her first bite of the noodles slowly, perhaps a cautious habit she obtained as a Queen with very few friends and many enemies. But, once the flavor took, she went all in and tore through it as if she hadn't eaten in years.
Betraying her title as Queen, she slurped down the last of the broth greedily. "You weren't kidding about the salty nature… but the heat and the chicken flavorings made it all worth it!"
"Yeah, if only it wasn't salted to hell, right?"
"True, but I think it'd fall apart without it," She smiled. "I could have five or six more bowls of these…"
"You're not a black hole too, are you!?"
"Pish, posh; good food is good food," She stretched a little. "Why don't you order some too?"
"Hey; I haven't been paid for most of this. I barely have enough to cover for you right now!"
She blinked a few times before grinning. "Aww, spending the last of your funds on little ol' me?"
"I mean, you're the one who wanted to try it…"
"The fact remains that it's still sweet," She supported her head with one hand. "Now, how do we go about getting you fed for free…"
"No free handouts, payment upfront, no exceptions." The gruff man in charge of the stall grunted out as if talking was a crime that should only be conducted if your life depended on it, and even then only after twenty lashings. All he wanted was people to tell him what food they wanted to eat so they could pay him; not a single thing else mattered.
His harsh attitude rubbed the pink haired queen the wrong way, but it did give her a devilish idea. "Hey, face me for a moment."
The man narrowed his eyes and turned, only to be frozen at what he saw. Queen Medb as propped herself up on the table in front of his cart, lifting her leg and pushing her knee forward to lift her short skirt, revealing her toned, tender, and generous right thigh. She had leaned forward, reaching for him, gently touching the man's face and pulling him closer with a soft giggle.
"Come on… don't be like that~" Her voice practically sang. "We're your first customers on your first day back, aren't we? Being so nice and kind to us would be such a good way to start your return off the right foot, wouldn't it? Besides… that'd make me incredibly happy, and you'd like that, right?"
The man's face remained stern, a stalwart mountain in the face of a mighty tidal wave…
…But he caved. "S-sure! Absolutely!" His eyes practically became hearts as a thick red blush broke out across his face. "I-I'll give you whatever you want!"
"Six bowls of what I just had, five for me, one for him," Medb ordered "And don't skimp on the ingredients!"
Touma blinked, but the owner just went to making food. "…I'm not sure how I feel about you conning him like this…"
"All I did was say words and do a little sexy pose," She shrugged with a smug grin. "After that, it's all on him. If he wants to, I won't say no! Now sit down and eat with your queen."
"I… guess if I don't have a choice. It has been a while since I had some…" He begrudgingly sat down. The first bowl set down was for Medb, and while she wolfed that down, a second, his, was added to the table. Touma decided to dig in, but he couldn't help but see his partner for the day rip bowl after bowl apart was more than a little unnerving.
She finished all five of hers before he could finish his first.
"I have to say, if I was alive, I'd be hating myself later for all the bad stuff I just ate…" She licked her lips. "Some folks might disagree, but this whole 'Heroic Spirit' thing is just right for me. Flawless, unchanging body, aging is impossible, I don't have to deal with going to my spring every day; I could really get used to this."
"Y-you just hate six giant ramen bowls and your stomach isn't even sticking out a little!"
"The perks of my situation."
"Every girl around the world is cursing your very existence! That's cheating of the highest order!"
"Then let them cry and fall before me, Queen Medb! Fufufufufufu!"
Touma hung his head and finished his food. From there, they went on a little tour of the district. While some places were opening back up, most were still closed, so a lot of what they did was casual sightseeing. They did find a clothing store that Medb was immediately engrossed in, but the lack of funds to purchase any of it was a large damper on her parade. Most of the staff was female too, so her charms were pretty much worthless. Still, it was fun to explore.
There was something off about her chosen partner for that day, however. He hid it well, but such a thing was easily laid bare before her; she knew a thing or two about the mannerisms of men. Although he spoke, joked, and even played along with her on occasion, it was all half-hearted; a lesser girl might not have noticed. She reasoned that Index and Othinus, and maybe even that Mikoto girl, could have seen through it just as well just through sheer familiarity, but probably not too many more than that.
He was a little too jokey; he played along a little too much. It might have worked on someone else, but not Queen Medb; he was ten-thousand years too young to pull a fast one on her.
Eventually, they came across a rather sizable fountain. There were a few people in the area, but it was mostly still just the two.
"May I see your phone for a moment?" Medb asked. "I'm thinking I might enjoy having one someday."
"Well, I'm not buying it for you."
"Of course not; I just want to see how it works! Besides, I bet I'd have better luck finding men to scam in an electronics store."
Touma rolled his eyes, but handed over his phone anyway. She opened it up and started playing around with it while walking, gradually coming to a stop next to the boy.
She swung her hips into his, knocking him into the fountain. The few people in the area started laughing, but the Queen was not one of them, simply striking a smile.
Touma rose up out of the water slowly, spitting out liquid as he did so. "…Here I thought I was doing well."
"If it was your actual reactions this whole time, I would have rated you a solid eight out of ten," She adjusted her skirt. "But you and I both know you're being just a tad disingenuous, now don't we?"
"…Alright, I'll bite; what do you want?" He blinked at her. The Queen's reaction was to waltz over to the edge of the fountain and pat the spot next to her. "…Seriously?"
"We need to have just a small, little chat; that's all," She remarked. "But if you insist on being an edgy troglodyte, you can stay in the water and drown. Understand?"
"…Is there no other way out of this?"
"You know the answer to that."
Touma groaned, not because there wasn't a way out, but rather the way out was something he liked far less than actually going through with it. Moreover, he could see that she did have a larger reason for her little stunt. At least she had the courtesy to take his phone beforehand.
Thus, he gradually got up and took a seat next to her.
"So, what's this about?" He asked.
"You've been brooding a little bit," She stated flatly. "You don't normally brood, and I'd be very interested in knowing why."
"I thought you just wanted me in bed."
"Not wrong," She did agree. "But to say I don't care about those I desire to share a bed with would be something of a lie. I could have gone running after Cú Chulainn the moment he appeared, even if it was pointless, you know."
Touma grimaced a little.
"I can tell what you have on your mind is weighing upon you heavily," She leaned back a little. "It is normally not my role to play, but I can try this too. I suppose in a set of unusual circumstances, I and unlock the metaphorical vault that is my wisdom as a queen to aid but a humble boy such as yourself. This city is full of firsts for me, and it sure sounds like you need a girl's touch."
"…Metaphorically or literally?"
"Both, but that's beside the point."
Touma deadpanned at her but gradually seemed to back down. "It's just…" He trilled off. "…I've been feeling like shit since that whole thing with Kakine and Karna."
"It's not about them dying is it?" She deadpanned a little.
"Partly…" He curved his lip. "I kinda just… stood there when I got back. I know I couldn't run in there directly before Nursery Rhyme did her thing, but…" He gradually folded his hands together. "…And that bastard just goes and offs him, saying I'm the cause for it; like getting my attention was worth murdering someone who had nothing to do with his entire god damn plot."
Medb simply nodded. She had killed for less, but he didn't really need to know that. She had to maintain a moderately positive image, after all.
"And in the end, I couldn't really do anything of any real value," He continued. "Hell, my right hand put Archer in danger by giving Kakine an out. I not only couldn't do anything for Karna; I couldn't even help Archer. I know it's stupid; I know it's dumb, but I can't help but feel like I could have done something more, and maybe even… saved Karna."
"…That blond boy sure was a pain in the ass the size of a small country, wasn't he?"
"I couldn't even give Kakine a piece of my mind; he was strutting around like a god damn god having fun with his subjects, and I couldn't do a thing about it. I even had to be saved from him. Then… well, Karna takes him out and dies, and…" He shook his head. "…I guess I identified a little bit with Karna. I don't know if we could have gotten along or anything but… I feel like there's a lot more I could have done, and that maybe if I had, he might still be around right now."
Medb took it all in pieces. He felt horrible over Karna dying; that was a clear given, especially with Kakine doing all he did to get his and Othinus' attention. In addition, a big stroke in inadequacy when it came to the event itself. He likely had some sort of position where he was normally the one willing and capable to get involved and gave it his all, but he had been decidedly shown up.
Nevertheless, he wasn't jealous; he wasn't angry with either of the two for taking his place. He was more frustrated with himself for not being able to keep up with them; to put his own life on the line. And, of course, feeling like if he did go above and beyond, somehow Karna might have been saved.
"Anyway, sorry for wasting your time with my bullshit," He concluded. "I know it's just me being a big baby about it…"
She blinked at him. "Hindsight is twenty-twenty."
"I mean that we can always look back and think about what we could have done and said with impunity, even if it will affect nothing," Medb crossed her legs. "Not everything goes our way; you can't save every single person, even if you'd really like to. The only beings that can deal with true absolutes are gods."
He frowned a little more.
"And, as humans, it is something that we have to accept. We can't lift every weight, we can't surpass every challenge. The idea of a victor inherently means there is at least one loser. And sometimes the line is blurred so intensely that it can be difficult to tell which side of the line you're on."
"Yeah…" Touma looked up a little.
"I won't sit here and tell you to ignore the deaths of Heroic Spirits; that has been off the table for a long time. Seeing someone care about them and treat them with respect is more than likely for the best, despite the shortcomings tied to it. It's something you and that Chaldea Master have in common; even if we are no longer human, you both treat us with admiration as if we were."
She looked up toward the sky.
"I may be a fan of warriors and battles, especially over me, but that doesn't mean I enjoy death, understand? Every single dead individual is another body that could be doing something; even if it was ever so tiny. It's a little bit of efficiency lost in this world. But death comes for us all; I died in my own spring, and you know what? It was just some bugger who wanted revenge. I even egged him on, and… well, Cú Chulainn spoiled the end of that story. And… honestly, I'm probably not the type of person you would like to save from that fate."
"Don't say that without actually knowing who I am. I trust your opinion of me would change drastically."
"Can you honestly say you would save the tyrannical Queen Medb without a second thought? That no matter what I did, or how horrible it was, that your decision would not change? Do you think you could ever regret saving someone's life?"
Touma froze up. "I… uh…"
"Death comes for us all; that much is certain," She stood up. "Sometimes you can prevent it, sometimes you can't, and sometimes you should, and sometimes you shouldn't. I won't say what you feel is irrelevant; the fact you can still grieve means this world hasn't broken you. I'm not suggesting you have to be suddenly okay with death; in fact, that might be a sign of something much, much worse."
"Do you… think so?"
"Of course!" She put a hand to her chest. "It is something I said, was it not? My words are as perfect as my body; the very fact I've said them should be significant enough for you to accept them."
Touma deadpanned. "That doesn't fill me with very much confidence…"
She smirked. "It's called a joke; even I can partake in such merriment from time to time. You should be laughing."
"It's hard to tell if you're being serious sometimes is all."
"If I've left you guessing, then I'd say I've done my job as a woman well," She smiled. "But if you still feel disheartened, then don't fret; that is natural. You might be saddened at the loss, but he would likely be just as saddened to hear that his death affected you so. "
"I… guess you have a point."
"Indeed!" She held out a hand to him. "Now, if you wouldn't mind, escort me to the next eatery; and try to be a little bit genuine this time, could you?"
Slowly, he reached up and took her hand. He was surprised when she pulled him up to his feet with a sharp tug; she really was stronger than she looked.
"I don't think I'm exactly ok…" Touma started. "…But I do feel a little better after talking all this stuff out. Thank you, Medb."
"Please, call me Medb-chan. That sounds cute."
The spiky haired teen slowly smiled, perhaps because of the woman's infectious own. "Fine, Medb-chan it is."
"Very good! Now; off for more food!" She cheered, opting to lead the way.
"How much more can you eat!?"
"You would be surprised what this girl can stuff in her mouth, Kamijou-kun~"
"W-was that really necessary!?"
"Absolutely necessary. Now let's go!"
"This place looks beyond abandoned…" Ritsuka commented.
They found themselves in District 17; an area mostly used for shipping and the like. It was very industrial in nature, and although most of the area was shut down due to the invasion, a good portion of it seemed to be up and running. It was likely an area commuted to rather than having its own residents, it was very under populated as a result. The building itself looked to be an old factory, long since out of commission even before the events of Solomon's attack.
"A place long forgotten… a place no one would look," Medea stated. "A perfect hideout for ruffians and the like. And considering these terrorists are a bunch of delinquents, I think this fits them quite well."
Mashu thought for a moment. "…I feel something inside."
"Same here," EMIYA crossed his arms. "Anything on your end, Doctor?"
"I'm detecting a Servant and a big mana spike, similar to the other two Demon God Pillars," Romani was quick to update the group. "Well, we've taken down two so far. You up for your first throw down with one, Medea?"
"Born ready; I could break down these helpless beasts into pancake mix, even when I was still in training!" She smiled confidently. Ritsuka shivered a little; he had firsthand experience in just how not joking she was being.
"Just one Servant?" Cú raised an eyebrow. "Any idea which one?"
"You're either going to like or hate this… Caster. It matches the signature of the unknown one we've encountered before." Romani stated.
That meant that Mephistopheles, Ibaraki, and Shuten were missing…
"…We need to wrap this up quickly. Heracles?" Ritsuka called out. The entrance to the factory was a large and thick metal door, but it might as well been paper before the unsinkable hero as he punched it down with only a single strike.
The lights were on; it looked to be an ammunition production facility. The selection was clear from that alone; it specialized in explosives, and some of the machines looked like they had been running recently while hooked up to strange apparatuses to run without a crew. It looked very much like the unknown Caster's handiwork.
"Do these devices look familiar to you at all?" Mashu turned to their blue and purple Caster with curiosity."
"No; these contraptions are not from my time," She lightly felt one of them, getting a feel for their origin with her magic. "…But they are Greek in origin… but where…?"
"Syracuse is where I was born, lived, and died. Although I doubt you'd find much like this there these days."
A voice called out from above. On the catwalks overhanging the facility, a single man stood with one arm on the railing.
The unknown Caster.
"…You know, saying Syracuse really narrows it down," Mashu stated. "A Caster not fit to be a Caster, a known tinkerer, Greek origins…"
"Yes, yes; come on. Put two and two together. I believe in you." He actually encouraged her to figure it out as if it were a game.
She eyed him dangerously. "…Archimedes. The great inventor and mathematician! The Wizard of Balance!"
"I could tag about three or four other things there, but you got the important two; bravo," He applauded her. "We might be on opposite minds, but I do like to see that there are some with a thinking brain left every now and then."
"So, you're here too after all?" Ritsuka questioned. "How goes the contracting business?"
"Pretty well, all things considered," The Caster remarked. "Sure, the beasts didn't have much use for me, but the other two sides had plenty of interesting work… if it's not already obvious, the last faction vying for the destruction of this land is out at the moment."
"That's fine; we can do to you what we had in mind for them." EMIYA threatened. "Of course, if you'd surrender, something else could be arranged. You seemed particularly interested in that Queen's drink of choice."
"That'd be… particularly insufferable," Archimedes stated. "Women like her are the ones I hate most. I'm afraid I'll have to decline that little offer of yours."
"So, you intend to fight? Admirable, if foolish," Medea stated. "Or do you think you can stand up to me in a clash such as this?"
He rubbed his chin for a moment. "…Would you believe my answer if I said no?" He then stood up straight. "I simply wished to bring a few things to your attention so you may understand the urgency of the current situation… oh, and I also wanted to do this."
He snapped his fingers, and the ground immediately began to shake violently. It felt just like what happened inside the connection terminal as the structure began to shake apart. The production machinery fell over on itself, igniting some the produced explosives and causing a series of detonations across the facility. Fearful of being caught in whatever trap Archimedes had laid out, Chaldea rushed out of the building as it exploded and collapsed entirely.
And out of the smoke, a third Demon God Pillar rose. Its body took the body structure of Andromalius, right down to the circular red eyes with crossed pupils and cracks in its skin that allowed them to peak out, but the general color scheme of Sabnock, the first Demon God they encountered in Academy City.
"S-seriously!? The Demon God is coming out to fight us right away!?" Romani shouted.
On the beast itself, Archimedes appeared to have hitched a ride, appearing near its fourth row of eyes as he gripped its rough skin. "If it hasn't already been made obvious, I have no intention of fighting you today, Chaldea!" He called out. "I have more important things to do! Good luck!"
EMIYA fired an arrow, but Archimedes vanished into spirit form before it made contact. The shot hit the Demon God's skin but seemed to bounce right off; it was as if its skin was made of solid steel.
"…Activating, activating," It spoke almost like a machine, much more normal for a Demon God Pillar. "Demon God Naberius, operating at nominal levels. As representative of the Blast Furnace, I am prepared to begin incineration." Suddenly, all of its eyes opened and looked in different directions. A thin orange beam fired from the pupils of each one, burning through nearly every building surrounding it.
The area quickly began to burn. Those beams were of sheer heat, quickly spreading fire as it tore through anything and everything. It was as if its target was the entire district, not Chaldea at all.
"Blast furnace is right; he's really heating things up," Ritsuka stated. "Too bad that attack is something we've encountered before! That's nothing new!"
"…Oh?" The Demon God sounded surprised, gaining more of a personality now that its activation was complete. "You see my flames, yet do not scour in terror? You see the world burn around you, yet you do not cower in fear? Do you not fear incineration, Master of Chaldea?"
"The last one we dealt with had more to do with fire than you!"
"Is that all you need? Is that all the knowledge you require to approach me? Rather than run away, you come right to me? Right into my flames!?"
"As if there's another way to snuff you out!"
"Oho…" One of the eyes focused on the Chaldea Master with a slight red glow. "…Then come; come into my warm flames. The last thing you will ever feel is my heated embrace, Chaldea!"
It stopped its assault on the city, focusing all of its attention on Chaldea.
Archimedes wasn't very far away; he made his retreat look more dramatic than it was. Off in the distance, he observed carefully as the clash began.
"…So, they've started," He remarked. "And they've added the great witch Medea to their ranks… with that, Naberius' chance of success is…" He did some quick calculations in his head as he shut his eyes.
When he opened them again, he smirked.
"…That ought to be enough to get a reaction out of him."
Touma stared in disbelief at the girl across from him.
"…What?" Medb blinked after a drink. "I enjoy a man's gaze, but that look implies confusion. Is something wrong?"
They were in a rather simple family restaurant. As it wasn't prime mealtime hours, it was moderately under populated. Having a booth seat, the two had sat across from each other in a corner close to the kitchen. Touma's response in this case was to stand up and approach the pink haired Queen before patting her stomach a few times.
"…Yes? It's a flat tummy; is it that much to your liking?" She tilted her head.
"Sorry, but I have to figure this out," He remarked, trying to inspect her body further. "You just ate this place out of house and home! It has to have gone somewhere!"
Unlike their previous adventure with the ramen stand, they were actually paying this time. However, like that last incident, Medb did work her charms on another person to cover for them. One of the people exiting the restaurant appeared to be a higher-up executive, likely trapped as the city was locked down. In a rush for some kind of meeting, he had actually crashed into the unlucky Kamijou, but simply called him a "snot-nosed brat," told him to go die in a hole, and kicked him in the stomach before leaving.
This little feast wasn't just for her to appease her appetite, it was to bleed that bastard dry with the debit card Medb "convinced him" to part with. The exchange did bring down the queen a little bit; men of this age were certainly of less quality than the ones back in Connacht. There really were only a few standouts.
"Seriously! It has to all go someplace!" Touma's inquisitive side took over as he started putting his hands on various parts of her body, looking for some kind of fat build up on her. Even if she burned it for energy immediately, it all had to go somewhere, right!?
She didn't have the heart to fully detail that her Golden Rule (Body) skill meant that her body shape wouldn't change, no matter how much nor how little she consumed. Plus, he was putting her hands all over her; she wasn't exactly complaining.
"…Question~" Medb cooed. "If it did all go to a place, where exactly would you like it to go?"
He froze and stared at her. "I am not touching that one! I know trap questions, and that's definitely a trap question!"
"Come on, just a little bit of fun~"
"No! I'm been kicked in the stomach once today, and that's enough."
"I'm letting you touch and feel my entire body right now, you could at least answer a girl's hones curiosity."
He froze again before looking at his own hands. Shortly after, he jumped back, shivering. "S-s-sorry! I-I-I…!"
"You don't need to apologize; it's what I've been trying to get you to do since we met," She located a rogue chicken leg and started munching on it. "Would be nicer in a secluded room and a nice bed, but hey; if you're interested in a public show, I'll put up with it once or twice. Maybe thrice if I end up liking it"
"…I'm not hearing the end of this, am I?"
That honey-laced voice of Queen Medb caught the attention of a certain someone while they ate and chatted each other up. The man had no idea where he was or why he appeared, and had actually been lost for quite some time. First, he fought monsters, but then they died off before he could really get into it. Next, he fought futuristic machines, but those shut down before he was satisfied too. Then someone pointed him toward District 7, saying someone he was looking for resided within.
And, after hearing that voice, he knew that the mystery man was right.
Shortly after retaking his seat, Touma head footsteps and turned to see whom it was out of a mild curiosity, only to stare right into a man's chiseled, bare stomach. He stood at nearly two meters tall, and as hinted at, was extremely muscular, reminding him of Heracles a little, although his skin was a healthy peach. Three scars were displayed proudly across his chest, and it became quickly apparent the only thing he wore was a set of green pants held up by a red sash; he didn't even wear shoes, only bandages that didn't even cover them entirely. His eyes were closed, but he didn't have any difficulty traversing the restaurant, making the last notable part of his appearances his short but spiky purple hair.
"Well! What do we have here?" The man's voice was deep, cheerful, and upbeat. "Medb! As I live and breathe!"
The pink haired Queen's eyes perked up quite a bit. "Fergus!?"
"…Eh?" Touma blinked. "You two know each other?"
"Oh! Forgive me; I did not see that she had company!" He held out a massive hand toward the much smaller teen. "Fergus mac Róich, of the Knights of the Red Branch."
"K-Kamijou Touma, It's a pleasure," He was very nervous as he shook his hand, and noticed his rough, strong hands, even with a casual handshake. "Can I ask what you're doing here…?"
"In this place? Someone told me to come here; said I would find someone important!" He smiled wide. "Though, my grander purpose is unknown, I'm sure that will come eventually. Right now, all I can do is live in the moment."
"…Ohhhh!" Medb smiled. "Kamijou~ Fergus is the original wielder of Caladbolg! Do you think he'd make a good addition to our ranks?"
She was actually scheming to set him up to be part of her little reverse-harem situation once she had "convinced" the unlucky Kamijou to go along with it. Better to build bridges ahead of time for maximum value, she thought.
"Really?" He blinked. "Geeze… yeah; probably. I bet the whole group would be grateful. Think Cú would be happy to see him?"
"Cú Chulainn?" The closed-eye man asked. Upon receiving a nod, he let out a hearty laugh. "He's one of my closest friends! Like a son, he is! Though, I am surprised Medb is going along with him… did you finally convince him?" He turned toward her.
Medb rolled her eyes. "No; I have other interests this time." Fergus raised an eyebrow before looking between the two and leaning down to whisper into her ear.
"He's aware of my interest, just not as perceptive of the perks of such a relationship."
Touma deadpanned. "Don't talk about me like that."
"Well… hrm…" Despite appearing blind, Fergus unleashed a heavy, judging gaze upon the unlucky Kamijou, making him flinch. "…Not the tallest… nice shoulders, but muscle build needs work…"
"That can be arranged, you numbskull." The pink haired queen chimed in.
"Indeed, that is very true; there is some worth in prospecting."
"Can you not rate me like this is a trashy dating show!?" Touma fired back.
The large man clapped his hands. "Not bad at all! A few nicks and blemishes here and there, but as he's young, they're the kind that'll smooth out naturally with enough work."
"And now I'm a car!?"
"Don't worry about him, he's fine," Medb waved off Touma's concerns. "So, interested?"
"If Cú Chulainn is involved, I'm definitely tempted," Fergus frowned a little. "But I am a little 'peckish' for something at the moment…"
Medb read the code that left Touma mystified. He wanted some time "alone" with her. Truth be told, she had been feeling the pangs for the very same thing for a while now, so it seemed very appealing, especially with someone so thoroughly tested.
But, for some reason…
"…I can't right now," Medb remarked. "Sorry big guy. Busy."
"Busy? With what?" Fergus didn't seem offended, but rather curious.
She pointed forward. "Him; he's a tough nut to crack. I can't really make much progress without giving it my all. If I split my attention at all, he'll scurry away on me."
"Hey, don't let me stop you two from having fun." Touma was still moderately in the dark.
"Nah, don't worry about it; I have the most distinct feeling you're worth the investment."
Fergus put a hand to his chin and began examining the unlucky Kamijou again. Behavior like that from her was excessively unusual. Having been summoned, he was made known of all her past dealings with men, even a few he was left in the dark from (He didn't mind too much; it was how things went back in the Ulster Cycle), but she'd never gone this route before.
"…Fascinating, you piqued my interest, boy!" He grinned before slapping Touma's back.
"I-I'm sorry, what?" Touma blinked.
Medb did the same. "…Eh?"
"How about we have a friendly contest! Winner gets Medb; how does that sound?"
"Eh!?" Medb's jaw dropped.
"…Can you say that again?" Touma shook a little.
"Oh, it's very simple; I'm testing you!" He laughed. "Partners with her are a dime a dozen, but ones who can have her play passive? This is extremely rare! Thus, a contest! I just thought putting her up as the prize as a way to motivate the both of us! She does like contests for her affection, after all!"
He wasn't wrong, but this was the absolute worst time to try to kick this up. Medb panicked more than a little; was this Fergus' way of acting jealous!? Or was he being absolutely serious!?
"N-no, seriously, don't worry about me!" Touma held up his hands defensively.
"Come now, don't be like that!" He slapped the boys back again. "It's the job of us men to help push each other farther than we were yesterday! And there's the hand of a beautiful woman at the finish line; what's there not to enjoy!?"
"F-Fergus," Medb called out. "Now is a bit of a bad time, you know?"
"Nonsense! Monsters are gone, those strange machines stopped attacking everything in sight; a time of peace is a perfect time for a friendly contest!" He laughed. "Look, I'll be sporting; going against me is rough, I understand that. I'll let you pick our contest; something you're great at! I want to see what Medb sees in you!"
Touma was profusely sweating. This man looked like he could bench-press about five of him, and he had to beat him in something physical!? He glanced over to Medb, who was nudging toward the kitchen door; the restaurant likely had a back exit. So, they just needed a way out…
It was a shot in the dark, but he tried anyway. "H-have you ever heard of t-tag!?"
"Y-yeah!" Kamijou went with it. "It's a game; one person is it, and they have to catch the other player! I-if the other person can make it away for long enough, they win!"
"…A test of agility and tracking…" Fergus thought for a moment. "…I love it! A challenge for me and this big body of mine! When do we begin!? How long will it go on for!?"
"F-first!" Touma stood up. "The person who is it needs to count to a hundred! It gives the other player a head start; otherwise, you'd just catch me right away! And let's say it goes on for about… a half an hour! Understand!?" Truthfully, he wanted to make it super short, but figured he'd give a more reasonable time just in case his opponent shot it down and presented his own. He really didn't want to have to resort to running around for hours, if not days, just to get the huge lug off his back.
"That is certainly true, yes…" Fergus nodded with a smile. "Count to a hundred, you say? Very well! Consider this challenge accepted, Kamijou Touma!" He held out his hand. "May the best man win!"
Touma quickly shook the man's hand and bolted, darting through the kitchen as fast as he could. Medb vanished too, leaving behind the debit card she acquired so no Anti-Skill would come looking for them and possibly lead the large man right to them over a dine and dash.
That was normal to Fergus though; she was the prize, after all! So, he did came naturally with a smile.
"Ok then! One, two, three, four, five…!"
And there we are! A little bit of tension, a little bit of personal time, a the next big encounter, and just a wee but of comedy towards the end with one of Medb's past loves coming back to bite her in a way she couldn't possibly expect!
A part I'm more than a little shaky on is the interactions between Touma and Medb, particularly their little heart-to-heart here. I think Touma hurting in his heart a little after seeing Karna die in front of him is justified, but Medb being the one to talk him down and get a little personal might have been more than a little out there than I had intended. Hopefully it still clicks, considering how hard she is trying to win him over, but if it rubs you the wrong way, I understand.
…Ah, almost forgot. One more bit here!
Interlude: Number One and Number Two
The facility was oddly well guarded. Monsters resided around the exterior still, despite the Unholy Beast Core being destroyed. As he approached, a particularly brave monster tried to swallow him whole with a line of razor-sharp teeth more than capable of tearing through steel.
It was crushed in an instant. No creature in this city would swing their fists or jaws at Accelerator and live; he made sure of that. Even a big snake creature that could spawn seemingly infinite heads crossed his path, threatening to kill him with poison fangs. He decidedly gave it a physics lesson and left its carcass to rot in the hot sun; he wasn't fond of reptiles.
"…Why all the security here?" That's what concerned him. "What a pain in the ass."
He wandered inside, not concerning himself much with the occupants or their desires to force clubs and fangs down his throat. Security wasn't that surprising; but the kind that resided here was cause for alarm during his search. If these remaining monsters here were of any indication, Anti-Skill had failed to recapture the site, and they had only failed to recapture the site because someone made sure that they couldn't.
Maybe it was that snake monster. The thought left Accelerator's mind as soon as it popped in, having killed the damn thing already.
His theory was simple; if someone wanted this place guarded, there was likely a good reason.
"Kakine…" He growled. "What the fuck did you want here?"
He stepped into the command room. He didn't know the purpose of the facility at first, but this made it very clear; it was the central hub for Academy City's satellite network. If it was shot into space by the city, it was at least monitored here, if not outright controlled. The room was fairly large with a bigger lead computer at the very front, appearing to be the main console, with several other computers spread throughout the area for more general use.
"Looking towards space, huh?" Accelerator narrowed his eyes. "What? Gonna drop the whole fucking network? The big-wigs will have it all sent back up in less than a month; why waste the fucking time?"
"That's what I'd like to know."
Accelerator's head snapped toward the voice. It was calm, quite, but he knew the tone. He locked onto a small white beetle hanging on the wall, white in color with soft yellow eyes.
"You're tracking the fucker too?" Accelerator sneered.
"You should know better than anyone that Kakine Teitoku reentering the city for any reason is great cause for alarm, regardless of how." The beetle flew off the wall and landed, but then began to radially transform into a humanoid shape.
It looked and sounded like Kakine, except it was colored white in its entirety. His eyes where white too; unlike the usual doppelganger's sinister black. The voice was the same, but it spoke softly, and there was a distinct kind looking in his white eyes, combined with a simple smile.
It wasn't Kakine Teitoku, though this being could be seen as a child of the titular number two. He simply went by his designation when he was created: Beetle 5. Separated from the Dark Matter network ages ago by one Takitsubo Rikou, he was the last remaining trace of Dark Matter directly created by the blond before his seemingly final passing before Gremlin picked him up.
Accelerator clicked his tongue. "…How long have you known about the bastard?"
"Since he arrived; I could feel his sinister touch the moment he appeared once more," Beetle 5 stated. "I thought perhaps his personality might have somehow surfaced in the network, but the creations I've encountered have seemed… different. Like a different network address; separate from us entirely, I'm afraid."
"So you couldn't just pop up and manipulate his ability to paralyze him in some kind of control, battle, huh?" The number one sneered. "Pain in my ass…"
"I apologize, but that won't be possible," The white boy frowned. "I could likely still engage him directly on combat on equal terms, however, but that's not why either of us are here right now, is it?"
"Damn right," Accelerator walked over to one of the computers, checking what it had on the screen. "Any ideas about what the hell they were after?"
"Satellites, obviously. As for which specific one…" He thought for a moment. "I just need to find out which one they were using…"
One of the more handy functions attributed to Dark Matter while in such a state was a form of Postcognition; by covering things with the white substance, he could read back information as if it were a record, CD, or something of the like. A few of the computers went unused, but it didn't take long to find a hot one.
"Alright… read it back, repeat their motions…" Beetle 5 hummed a little as he worked. "…Oh my; what a curious little find."
"What do you got?"
"This computer has been jailbroken; it can freely access most encrypted files. They wanted something big and dark indeed."
"Find the one they accessed the most; let's see what the bastard was looking into."
Reading back the actions on the computer, the white boy mimicked the actions taken to find whatever file those who occupied the building were accessing. Getting to the right starting point for navigation was a little precarious, but before long, they got a hit. Beetle 5 put it on the room's large monitor.
It was a satellite launched a month ago; an experiment in solar energy collection from space. It used experimental waves to transmit generated solar power directly to the city. Though moderately small in scale, it would revolutionize electrical generation, as it could collect from the sun regardless of weather, or of solar positioning with its sophisticated equipment. Initial tests were somewhat successful, and by the article, a second prototype was in the designing phase.
But what made Accelerator's brow furrow was its name: HsSCS-00-AMATERASU.
The "Hs" moniker meant "Hard science," a specific line of technological advancements meant for the city's military products. Why was it made available in a typical Satellite control terminal like this and not an Anti-Skill facility?
"Let me in there; if this bastard jailbroke this computer, I want to look into it." Accelerator demanded.
Beetle 5 stood up and let him in. "Be my guest; I'll keep an eye out for any unwanted attention."
The albino teen went right to work. What he was concerned with was the Hs connection and looked into its assembly list for any cross-referenced materials. It wasn't uncommon for certain products to share certain assembly items, as it helped streamline a lot of Academy City's production; only things that needed to be unique were made to be unique.
Most of it was expected of a satellite for its primary purpose. Self-propulsion, solar arrays, AI technology to self-govern its various functions. Nothing out of the ordinary aside from a large amount of optical equipment, much more than even a normal satellite would need. That led him down the rabbit hole of military-grade transformers and EM emitters. It was difficult to find the purpose of these objects individually, but one shared material within Academy City's databanks sharing these components caught his eye.
"The fuck…?" Accelerator growled. He was aware of the Modelcase projects, attempting to use technology to replicate esper abilities, but supposedly, this one never got off the ground. It was successfully made, but the problem was power issues; the phenomena required so much energy to use that it took actual days to recharge even after a single ten-second discharge. As it was seen as unviable in actual military application, research on the project was dropped in favor of the FIVE_Over Modelcase_"RAILGUN" with the team finding much greater success with it.
What were parts related to replicating the number four's ability doing on a solar-energy collection and transmission satellite?
"Find something?" Beetle 5 tilted his head.
Accelerator turned toward him. "Can you get into the main console? See if you can find this satellite on it."
"Can do," The white boy nodded and wandered over to the main computer. It wasn't jailbroken, but it was hacked into if what he read was right. "It looks like… yeah, it's hovering in orbit above the city still. I can't tell you exactly where it is relative to the city itself other than its above Academy City airspace, though."
"Can you disable it from here?"
"…Nope; someone transferred permissions to a handheld device and probably walked out," Beetle 5 narrowed his eyes. "Whoever was here really wanted that satellite; the other regulars for this console work just fine."
Accelerator grimaced; would they have to actually take out every satellite above Academy City just to deny whoever the hell wanted the damn thing? Of course, that'd probably effect international ones too that happened to be flying above the city at the time, causing some kind of international incident. And there was also the idea that this was a purposefully laid red herring to throw them off. Taking out those satellites would take time, and during that time, the bastard could move with impunity.
His goal remained unchanged; find Kakine Teitoku and that man he was working with. Now he just had a few questions for the former before tearing out his skull and beating the latter to death with it.
It didn't matter if the slab of metal in space could replicate Meltdowner; his ability still completely trumped it in all forms. He could just intercept the damn thing when it fired… in fact, the idea of that put a smile on his face, imagining watching the two bastards' faces crack in horror as he redirects the attack right toward them.
"I think we found their dirty fucking secret," Accelerator stood back up. "Now to kick the shit out of the pieces of shit and drag the information out of them."
"I'd like to investigate this building further; this might not be the only room they used." Beetle 5 stated.
The albino boy shrugged. "Do whatever the fuck you want. It's not my business."
"Fair enough, I suppose," The white boy didn't make a move to stop the number one as he went to leave. "I do have a request though, if you'd be so kind."
"If you locate Kakine Teitoku, please come back here and inform me. I'm just as interested in his demise as you are."
"I don't need your fucking help to deal with him."
"Believe me, it's not for you," The bleached Kakine stood up. "He and I are the same, you know. If anyone should be the one to end him…"
Accelerator sighed; he did concede that this prick did have something of a good reason in the end, even if it pissed him off.
"…When I come back, you better be ready to fucking go."
"I will be, thank you very much, Accelerator."
"Save that shit for when the piece of shit is dead, would you?"
With that, the two boys went their separate ways. One stayed behind to research, the other went to hunt.
Little did they know that the things they were after were already on the move.
Probably not too much of a mystery here, but what exactly does this troublesome duo want with a satellite like this?
Only time will tell, my friends.
I hope you all enjoyed. Please, review at your leisure; I still enjoy feedback.
Have a good day, my friends!
ArmoredCoreNineBall, your friendly (not)robotic (not)overlord (possibly)person who occasionally writes things.