Here we are once again, my friends. Surprising no one, we're inching in on the end-game with this story, now that only one enemy side remains.
Let's do some reviews!
Felipe1402XZA: Bit of a creepy dude, isn't he?
Kamijou Touma1: We'll see. I know my immediate plans aren't for something like that, but you never know what might happen down the line.
D N Works: Never underestimate a Caster.
shiroryuu012: I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of Touma's character. Even after all that had transpired, he is still very much the same person he was prior to his encounter with the Infinite Hells. He still fears death, both in himself and others, just as he always had. The Novels after NT 9 very much prove this; if he really had been fundamentally changed in the way you describe, then it'd be quite clear that nothing would be able to get fear out of him, but the prospect of death of both himself and of those around him still very much terrify him. The biggest proof to that is in GT2; he hasn't changed anywhere near as much as you think. He hasn't become some kind of buff action hero who spits in the face of Danger; he's still the normal-ish High School Boy you can find anywhere. If anything, this event would eat at him more because it'd distinctly remind him of the Infinite Hells Othinus put him through, and if his brief encounter with St. Germain is anything to go by, he is still ungodly horrified by.
Plus, he shares the trait of the Chaldea Master, in that he sees Servants as no different from ordinary people, supported by the fact that he himself knows people who can perform such extraordinary feats on the same level. It's good for relationships with them, but remember; as dark as it is, the only person Kamijou Touma is truly ok with killing to save people is himself (NT22R was such a wild ride...).
Guest (1): They probably would; I see no reason for them to not, anyway.
Guest (2): That one is a bit rougher... especially since Kiritsugu is a big hard-counter to everything Touma stands for.
Cygfried: Oh, hardcore. All the reminders of the Infinite Hells.
Freddy lane 1: Yup; he is not in a good place right now.
ActionTReaction: A lot happened, in that brief encounter, eh? Don't worry about, it happens.
craytherlay: No I meant his left. And the idea was that the one in his left arm would shy away form the others, so Touma couldn't just tangle all three up and deal with it. The moment the other two would be nulled, the third would explode; even if he could partly negate the explosion, losing his left side was pretty much a guarantee.
Dog: Hello again!
MrQuestionMark: Figures that the Touma-Sadist-Supreme would be into this! But yeah; it was a bit of a roller-coaster of tones, wasn't it? Glad you had a good time!
calderoneric758: Such is the way of Mephistopheles.
Mr. X: 1) More than likely not; she doesn't appear until the Epic of Remnant, after all. 2) Not currently planned, sorry. 3) Oh the most delicious form of despair. 4) Oh, you misread; Hector ran him through and then cut upward through his shoulder; a partial bisection if you will 5) I liked it; I do enjoy these Dark-Side scramble volumes! Poor Hamazura though... though the cavalcade of new characters was interesting, even if a lot of them bit the dust.
Guest (3): We'll just have to see, won't we?
Kaze: I posted a reply to shiroryuu012 who had similar commentary. I'd take a read through that reply, as I don't have a whole lot else to add to that.
TheNotSoFantastique: Believe me; I'd like for more Misaki action, but she wouldn't have much use here; either Mental Out wouldn't work on Servants, making her a paper weight, or it would, which would make her quite broken. Figured it'd be best to not take a side and leave her out this time around; she's not a frontline soldier, anyway.
AkumaESPer: You pretty much nailed it on your Touma Analysis; the only time he was truly OK with killing someone to save people was in NT22R, and that person was, ironically enough, himself. We don't know the full details of every single event in the Infinite Hells, but this would have certainly reminded him of a few events, now wouldn't they of?
And with that done... enjoy!
"…I'm sorry you had to go through that, Kamijou-san." Romani sighed. "We thought Queen Medb would have been enough if they came directly. Had I known…"
Chaldea had returned shortly after Mephistopheles' demise. They were shocked to find a good chunk of the dormitory ripped apart, especially with Medb's chariot resting inside. Questions flew, as one would expect, and the answers weren't exactly pleasurable to hear.
The dormitory itself was repaired by Medea's magic, although that meant that Touma couldn't reside in a decent section of it. Assurances from Da Vinci followed, saying that once the grail was collected and the singularity was resolved, everything would go back to normal relatively quickly; the status of his home as a supernatural hotspot would be resolved before he even noticed.
"I…" Touma trailed off for a moment and shook his head. "…I can't say it's fine, but I can't really say I blame you either. If you had left anyone behind, who knows the state you could have been left in because of me."
"I think that they knew we were coming," Da Vinci stated. Now that their transportation of troops was finished, she could actually sit in on things properly like usual. "As for now, I'm not sure. The group was already gone by the time we arrived, and Kamijou-san's encounter seemed to have happened either close to or a little after we started facing the last Demon God."
"Talk about a day…" Cú remarked. "And you had a run in with Fergus too? Yeesh… the one-time Medb actually sleeping around would have come in handy."
"Ha-ha; I get it," Queen Medb put her hands on her hips. "The loose one doesn't feel like being loose for once, and everything goes to hell because of it," She sighed and put a hand to her head. "I be my usual self, everyone hates it. I try and be a little more reserved, and shit hits the fan. I just can't win, can't I?"
"Now you're figuring it out."
Touma looked up. "Erm… Cú? Can you lay off her for a bit?" He scratched the back of his head. "I know it's your whole dynamic with her, but she did just help save the lives of people close to me, so…"
"I mean…" Medb looked a little bit bashful. "I had the idea and the chariot, but that's really it. Hector did the rest."
"Someone mention me?" Hector popped his head out from the kitchen. They had more than the usual crowd in his room, making just a tad cramped. Hector had opted to stick around, and Hippolyta had teleported in with Chaldea. On top of that, Kintoki had pulled Robin Hood with him. To say the dorm room was full was an understatement.
"…Maybe on top of fixing the room, I should have fused it with one or two areas down the hall," Medea remarked. "If it wasn't for the patio door and it being winter, this room would be a sauna with how many people are squeezed in here."
"Eh; it's fine for now." Kintoki was standing in front of the door to the washer and dryer. Robin had been allowed to rest on the bed, though some healing spells from Medea got him back one hundred percent relatively quickly, and he was now just sitting on it.
"Quite the lively bunch, huh?" Hector laughed. He was helping in the kitchen; he wasn't the best cook, but he could at least help with some of the preparations. "Anyway; just about anyone with a spear could have done what I did, though Durindana probably made it extra easy. Don't sell yourself too short; we did it together!"
"…Eh, know what? I can give a little credit where credit is due, I guess," Cú shrugged. "You might have had help but doesn't change what you did. Good work, Medb."
"E-eh!?" The pink haired queen was so used to being insulted that an honest compliment from the blue Lancer. "W-well… t-thank you, I guess…"
"…Bashful Medb is actually kind of cute…" Romani spoke aloud when he meant to keep it to himself. He immediately received a glare from the queen, and he shut right up, fearing for his life. Sure, she was all the way cross time and space, but he was never one to take chances like that.
"Still, we're glad you're ok, Kamijou-san," Mashu smiled. "And with Mephistopheles defeated and Ibaraki carted away by Shuten, the Demon Terrorist Core is dealt with!"
"That's right! Just a grail to fetch and one annoying Caster to pummel!" Da Vinci took over while Romani remained silent out of fright. "Though… Archimedes was a pretty famous person; one of few inventors who was revered while he was still alive. Even his death was an accident; the invading army was actually under orders to take him alive and assure his survival because he was that valuable. Why would he, who suffered no great tragedies in life, desire to destroy the world?"
"…Could it be because he died at all?" Hippolyta had taken the blue Lancer's usual spot on the patio. "He was murdered, after all; it could be a grudge over his death."
"Doesn't that seem kinda… petty though?" Ritsuka asked.
"Eh… you'd be surprised; us geniuses can be pretty petty. It does seem odd, but I wouldn't dismiss it entirely." Da Vinci admitted.
"He was showing an awful lot of interest in research and discovery though…" Mashu commented. "It sounded to me like he was genuinely enjoying himself experimenting with Academy City's technology… could he be cooperating for some kind of grant of knowledge?"
"Truth be told, it seems like Solomon is after a little something grander than just the incineration of humanity," Romani finally rejoined the conversation. "Whatever that could be, he might have offered Archimedes a place in his grand design. Though what exactly that is we'd have to drag out of him."
EMIYA turned his back briefly from the kitchen. "I find that scenario unlikely; as Solomon's last living operative, I think he'll have some sort of assistance from the Grand Caster. It'll likely be a hard-fought battle."
"That's right… and he hasn't revealed his Noble Phantasm yet…" Romani nodded in agreement.
"Well, with all his troops dead," Robin Hood stood up from the bed. "He'll have to make his move soon; he probably knows how far up shit creek he'll be if we have to track him down. Especially if your Berserker is the one who locates him."
"That's true…" Ritsuka put a hand to his chin. "Where will he strike next then…?"
While they discussed what to do next, Touma spoke up. "…Hey, Othinus? I think I'm going to get some air so I can think; can you keep Index company for a bit?" The Magic God had been using the unlucky Kamijou's right shoulder as a seat.
"If you wish me to," She stood up. "Will you be alright without us, human?"
He nodded and held out his hand to her. She stepped into his palm and he put her into Index's own before standing up.
"Is something wrong, Kamijou-san?" Ritsuka asked. "I think supper is almost ready."
"I'm alright," He replied. "I just need some air for a bit. It's a bit stuffy, even with the patio open, you know?"
"…Hey, listen; before you head out," The Chaldea Master walked up to him. "I know we kind of shoe-horned you into this, even if you volunteered. We just dropped in and took you along without too much care; I think I can understand why Misaka Mikoto was worried about you. If you want, you don't need to help us any longer. I… kind of know what it's like being stuck like this, you know? Just having it dropped into your lap and expected to deal with it."
Touma paused and listened for a moment. "…You're a really nice guy, you know that?"
"I just want to look out for you; that's all. I feel like we might have been doing a bad job of that. It's kind of hard to remember you're just a normal person in the middle of all this… the dragons in your arm aside, of course, but you get what I'm saying, right?"
"Don't worry about it," The spiky haired teen remarked. "Right now? Stopping this is what's important. I might have gotten the short end of the stick, but if we don't put all our cards on the table… well…"
"I know, I just…" Ritsuka curved his lip. "We want you to know we're thinking of you. You're one of the people in this city we're trying to protect. We have your back if you ever need us; don't forget about that, ok?"
Slowly, Touma began to smile. "…Thanks, I really appreciate it. I'll be back in a bit, ok?"
He left the room, softly closing the door once he was gone. The little strategy meeting started up again, but Medb couldn't take her eyes off the door. She frowned, trying to shake it off, when she felt a tug on her skirt.
"Excuse me, Queen Medb?" It was Index.
"…Need something?" She tilted her head; confused as to why she'd get her attention.
"I was wondering if you could go make sure Touma is ok. He's still shaken up, and we're worried."
"But… why me? You hate me, remember?"
"Yes, very much so," Othinus remarked from the nun's right shoulder. "But he has a rather nasty habit of lying when he thinks saying how he really feels will upset those close to him. And as much as it annoys me, you do have a way of convincing men to do things."
"…Are you actually complimenting me?"
"Don't get used to it, skank," The god grumbled. "…Point is, he'll lie to us, but even if he lies to you, that little man-hungry brain of yours can likely read in-between the lines."
"And you wouldn't?"
"I could, of course; I am his understander. However, as his understander, I know how he'll react to me attempting something like this… it is not something I can do; I cannot comfort him… not like this."
"Not like this…?" Medb raised an eyebrow. "Do you mean… oh! Ohhhhh! I get it; you'd do that for him, wouldn't you?"
"Don't go making me regret asking you, skank," Othinus growled as Index seemed mystified by what they were talking about. "Our relationship is a unique and convoluted one; I'd rather avoid opening old wounds, that's all. This is a very familiar experience for him."
In the end, Medb relented. "…Well, it's not like I wasn't thinking of it. He's been… yeah…" She trailed off.
"Ok, now I'm starting to wonder if you're ok. You've been acting weird this whole time."
She shook her head. "Just some… self-reflection, I guess. Alright; I don't mind heading out to see him. I kind of need to, anyway."
"We'll be here if you need us, ok?" Index chimed in. "If there's any way we can help, just let us know."
"Got it." Medb then slipped out of the room in spirit form, not wishing to disrupt the planning stages of their next move. A few noticed, but none more easily than Cú Chulainn. He had been eyeing her carefully since the nun approached her up until she vanished. He was tempted to get involved, but…
Eh; it really wasn't his business.
Touma was leaning against the outside railing. The sun had set, and night was slowly starting to settle in. He was just silently watching the sky as the dull orange color faded from it. To his surprise, Queen Medb reassumed corporal form, popping in right next to him.
"…You didn't need to come out here just for me, you know?" Touma smiled at her when she appeared.
"The nun and the god specifically asked me… and it helps that I have my own business with you, but that can wait," Medb leaned over the railing to match him. "Got something on your mind?"
"I mean… it's kind of just what was bugging me before since it happened again. I don't need to say all that twice, right?"
"You're behaving more than a little different and seem in better spirits by comparison; try me," Medb leaned her back against the railing, resting her arms on the sides. "I did it once, so I might as well do it again. The girls were worried you'd lie to them and the Norse god especially was concerned about reminding you about horrors of the past, so you're stuck with me… or one of the guys inside, I guess. Hector and the red Archer might be decent types to sit down with if you want advice; I think the others would kind of just let you talk," She paused for a moment. "…Except for Robin Hood; he's an oddball. I can't get a read on him for some reason…"
"He seems like he's been through his own brand of hardships," The teen shrugged. "Either way, I'm just not used to… letting it out, you know?" He rubbed the back of his head.
"And I'm not used to being a therapist; if I can step out of my comfort zone, so can you," She fired back. "Seriously; it's so much easier when it's just a matter of bedding them… this is a pain in the butt."
"Well, don't stress yourself on my account."
"Too late; I've already made my decision. Start talking or I'll drag you off to do something you'll enjoy."
"Well…" He trailed off briefly. "I'm not as angry about not being able to do much this time, at least. I actually couldn't, even if I wanted to, which makes it easier to accept. But the whole 'game of death' was reminiscent of things I've experienced before."
"No stranger to this kind of thing, huh?"
"Nope; it's probably why Othinus is feeling testy about getting involved. Me and her didn't really get off on the right foot; as you can expect from a god who was about as tall as… well, you; she didn't have the best temperament when it came to someone like me basically acting as her foil."
"…Good god, her actually the size of a normal person? I might actually have had to do something about her in that case." Medb stared blankly forward.
Touma smiled a little. "The long and the short of it is that I had something she wanted, but wanted me to use it on her behalf, and didn't like the great big 'no' answer, and we… had a feud." He was abridging events purposefully; getting into the nitty gritty of everything he suffered at Othinus' hand wasn't something he wanted to reexperience, much less have other people do the same.
"So, she did a bit of this and that, and some of it resembled what that clown pulled, right?"
"Kinda; the thing is that she had control over life and death. So, even if someone died, even me, it never really felt like 'the end,' because she could just reverse it whenever she wanted. Here, on the other hand… well…"
"If anyone died, it was likely for good."
Touma nodded. "And, taking the life of someone else with my own hands is still…" He trailed off at that. "…There are still days when I wonder if I'm going to suddenly wake up in that black void; like all of this from that day was just to lull me into a false sense of security somehow. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, absolutely I do, but it's a very real fear of mine… and I think she's aware of it."
Medb didn't have commentary this time, simply letting the Imagine Breaker continue.
"And this… felt like I was suddenly in that void again; those infinite hells I was dragged through for what felt like years. A decision designed to break me; one where I lose no matter what I do. Mephistopheles… even if I let myself die, there was nothing stopping him from attacking those two when I was gone, and I think he knew that; it was entirely geared to get me to kill him, and anything but might as well have killed those two anyway."
An impossible choice: Did he die, or did Mephistopheles. Under the veil of a game, the Caster was trying to convince Touma to commit murder. By the rules of the game, anyone who had their bomb nullified would be saved, but once the game was over, nothing else mattered. It felt more like a visual novel where every route but one led to a bad end, except the "good end" was just as horrible to him as the rest.
But it was the only way to absolutely save those two. To save them, Mephistopheles had to die. That was what the clown wanted him to realize. It didn't matter to him if he died; to see Kamijou Touma break by having to take another's life was enough. It was like nothing he had experienced before; Mephistopheles wasn't driven mad by faults with his life or the world that he could save or convince to go down a different road, he was perfectly sane and just genuinely enjoyed the suffering of others.
"…The only reason I'm probably still rational right now is because of you and Hector. When I say thank you; I really mean it. If you two didn't come along when you did, I'd…"
"Don't," She cautioned. "Seriously; Hector did all the hard work. If he really wanted, he could have just thrown Durindana; it was just more dangerous to do. All I did was lend a hand, that's all."
Touma raised an eyebrow. "…Are you ok? You'd normally be jumping for praise for stuff like this."
She turned briefly, eyeing him for a moment. "…I'm not a good person, Kamijou Touma," She started. "Stuff like what happened in there? That was a particularly nasty breed of it, but it's not unlike things I did in life; all to get the things I wanted," The Queen held up three fingers. "There are three things I valued more than anything: power, wealth, and men. And if it was to get one of those things, especially all three in a nicely tied package, I'd do whatever was necessary. Cú Chulainn is an excellent example; I wanted him so badly, I in essence arranged his death to try to break him. Because he was a man I wanted, he was killed, and I was responsible. Stuff like that was not particularly unusual with me, you see."
Touma frowned; he had always gotten the vibe that she was a little 'spoiled,' to put it mildly, but hearing this was something else. "…So, what's got you hung up right now about it then?"
"The fact is it happened to someone I'm actually kind of close to right now," She remarked. "It's different when it happens to someone you don't know, someone you hate, and someone you actually like. Seeing it happen to someone I enjoy the company of, and comparing it to what I've done in the past is a little…" She trailed off, not really able to find the exact word to convey what she meant. "It just puts things into perspective, I suppose."
"I didn't expect you to actually get attached to me like that, though…"
She crossed her arms. "I've been with many men, but the only ones to genuinely earn my favor are Fergus, Conchobar, and… surprising no one, Cú Chulainn," She paused momentarily to sigh. "Though it seems like you've earned your spot in my list too. And realizing that has been a tad bit emotionally stressful, considering it took that bastard clown to get it through my thick skull…"
"Not the kindest of wake-up calls," Touma nodded. "Though I must be pretty young for you, right?"
"Depends; we never talked age directly."
"I'll be sixteen in the first quarter of next year."
"And right now, it's December…" Medb did some quick mental math. "…Possibly, you seem around the age of one of my prospects. A aging warrior wanted a gift for his grandson, and he had been a key figure under my father and I happened to I like the cut of the boy's chin, so I fulfilled his request and granted that boy a audience with me… in private of course."
"…Hearing you talk about that kind of thing is still weird; when first looking at you, it doesn't give the vibe that you'd go around like that."
"Of course; I have my desires, but I still carry myself like a pure, honest, and wise Queen," She smirked but gradually returned to a neutral expression. "…Though I think hearing about my conquests probably doesn't do much for you, I'd imagine."
"No… but I can't judge too harshly; there's a guy I know. His count for his harem is a little over a hundred."
"One hundred girls?"
"Yup; all different too. It's like he's captured every single genre of fictional girl at once, made them real, and courted them all."
"Well… that's… actually not too bad for a boy. I assume he's around your age?"
"Pretty much, though I'm surprised you treat this so casually."
She shrugged. "It's just the way of things back then, so it's nothing new. It wasn't all that special for a man to have three or four wives… the part they don't tell you is that the opposite was also just as common."
"Perks of knowing someone who actually lived in the era, huh?" Touma turned away from the street and matched Medb's stance. "You don't have to change who you are over me, though."
"Oh, I have no intention of suddenly becoming a shy, reserved girl. It's just…" She trailed off again. "…Seeing things from the receiving end isn't what I'd call pleasant."
Touma thought for a moment. "Well, for what it's worth, you've done right by me so far. It's not like it's been a pain to have you around or anything."
"You really are too kindhearted; I was a heartless monster of a woman, you know."
"But you're not being one right now though."
"Look, I know what you mean; you're not the first person who's done evil things that I've met," He started. "But people and grow and change over time; just because you did horrible things in the past doesn't mean you'll always be that way. Can you imagine yourself in life in this situation right now?"
"Oh god no; you'd be strapped to a bed at best for refusing me; at worst… well, you know how a certain Lancer's life ended."
"T-that's kind of my point," Touma coughed. "I feel like you've changed since we first met… not completely, but I think it's an improvement none the less."
She eyed him. "I don't really think that's quite right. The growth capability for a Heroic Spirit is very limited; you know this, right?"
"And with that limited capability, I think you've done well," He smiled. "I'm not the kind of person to judge others for their past, as long as they're willing to try and change themselves. I've gotten that vibe that you're capable of that. Maybe you won't ever become a truly good person… and maybe that's ok. I think this world is full of people living on the middle road, so if you can meet me halfway, that's more than I could have ever asked for."
Medb continued to watch him, doing so silently. He had seen this gaze before; the look in her eye was one of a scholar's, studying whatever was before her with intense precision and focus.
"…Meet you halfway, huh?" She abruptly stated. "Maybe if I had tried that once in my life, things could have been different."
"Who knows? Hindsight is twenty-twenty, as a certain queen once told me."
She deadpanned. "You throwing that back in my face is punishable by death."
"Look me in the eyes and say that you'd do anything different!"
"Oh, I'd do something different alright! Maybe something like this…!" She suddenly took one of his arms and pulled him close, actually slipping an arm around his back and holding the two together as if they were preparing for a formal dance.
Touma flushed red immediately. "I-is that so?"
"Your stoic look crumbled the moment I had my hands on you. Could it be that despite all your complaining about girls being too forward that you actually like your women with a tad bit of backbone?"
"H-hey, I never said I disliked forward girls! I-I just said that I want to make sure that there's something special between us first before anything private! I'm not the type to kiss on the first date, you know!"
"So, let me ask you; do you think there's something special between us?"
A lump rose up in the unlucky Kamijou's throat. "T-that's a bit direct…!"
"Well? Can you answer?"
"I-I'm… not sure. I mean, we've only known each other for a few weeks, so…!"
"Very well then," She released him, but slipped one hand around to take hold of his left. "Then let's make something special between us; I might have a contract with the Master of Chaldea at the moment, but I'd be very interested in one with you as well, my dear Kamijou Touma."
"I-I am too young for marriage!"
She paused for a moment before laughing. "N-not a marriage contract, you dunce!" She laughed a little more. "Silly; I'm talking something different. A contract between Master and Servant."
"…With me?" He raised an eyebrow, receiving a nod. "But I thought you could only make one with Fujimaru-san."
"His command seals are proof of his capability as a master, but I have spent much time under his charge, and have carefully studied the ins and outs of it," She replied. "I cannot bestow upon you command spells, those undeniable orders, but with a Geas or two, I can emulate a contract quite effectively."
"And if it turns out I'm no good for being one of these Masters?"
"Oh, that won't be an issue for me. As one who lives and breathes perfection, there shan't be a single issue," She held up Touma's left hand as she wiggled her fingers in-between his. "A contract between Master and Servant; to emulate such, I only need the answer of three questions. Firstly, do you agree to this?"
The spiky haired teen had trouble answering immediately. It was something of a big ask, he felt. He had heard from Ritsuka the nature and troubles that'd arise from a contract with a Heroic Spirit, and of course how it in essence binds the souls of the two together. Moreover, it was Queen Medb that stood before him, and he had heard no end to the legends from Cú Chulainn.
…But perhaps, after all they had been through, he had ended up a little bit attached himself.
"If I'm your choice, then I'll accept. I see no reason to refuse you, especially after what you did for me today."
"Still praising me about that, are you?"
"I'm thankful; I really am. I know it's strange, but I'm the kind of person who never asks for help but ends up being happy to receive it. Guess it hurts my pride to ask other people to fight my battles for me."
She smiled likely. "Second; under this agreement, you shall feed me mana, so that I may remain manifested. Do you agree to this?"
"…Are you sure I won't be sucked dry?"
"Not of your mana, no. Other things are on the table, though."
He sighed, but managed to get a chuckle out of it. "…Well, I can't use magic myself, thanks to my right hand. Might as well have whatever mana I have be useful to someone else; I accept."
"And then, the third," She turned a little more serious. "Do you desire to have me by your side until the destruction of my spirit origin?"
"I accept." He didn't think too hard on that one.
"…Then," Medb held his hand tight for a moment before loosening her grip to slip away. "Our little contract is complete, Kamijou Touma. You might not have command spells, but the bindings of our agreement shall keep me in your care… even after the defeat of King Solomon in this land."
"Wait, what?" He blinked. "That last line felt very specific!"
She giggled. "Did you know? The resolution of this singularity would have terminated my existence, as my need to remain manifested would have come to an end, but now," She leaned in close. "I'm anchored to you. The contract with Ritsuka Fujimaru might be terminated upon his return to Chaldea, but ours is still very much active."
"S-so you used me so you could stick around!?"
"Pretty much! Thanks!" She didn't try to apologize; she simply laughed and gloated as he arranged her own permanent residency in this foreign world.
She expected a slap or a punch for that, but rather, she felt the gentle touch of a hand on her head.
"…If you had just told me that all you wanted was to stay here, I probably would have consented anyway, you know?" He gave her a little pat, minding her crown.
Medb felt her cheeks heat up ever so slightly, but they did so as she smiled. "I know, but I wasn't lying about anything I said. We were having such a nice moment, so I thought, 'why ruin it with a direct explanation, when I could make things hot, heavy, and sensual?' As you can see, my way of doing it was much better."
"I guess it does kill two birds with one stone, huh? Seeing your still a constant flirt."
"That's right; I'm not giving up on you just yet. I have my own intentions with lovers in this world, and I consider you an important piece to that. I'll do whatever it takes to make you mine… even if I have to give you your own little harem situation to make it happen."
His eyes widened ever so slightly. She took advantage of his surprised state to slip in and wrap an arm around his neck and pulling him close once more. He opened his mouth to speak, but a single finger on his lips silenced him.
"Hush now, details later," She whispered. "We can make each other very, very happy, Kamijou Touma. And all I need to do is open your eyes to that possibility."
She looked like a cat ready to pounce upon her prey, and the unlucky Kamijou's flustered state left him wide open. Before she could fully take advantage of his delirious state, however, the door to his dormitory swung open. Hippolyta could be seen charging out right away with Kintoki close behind, forming a horse as she hit the ground for the two to ride on. They went due north.
"Hey! Kamijou-san!" Ritsuka called out. "S-sorry to interrupt, but we got trouble!"
"What's going on?" He snapped right out of it. Medb was a little bit peeved, but she decided to keep her objections down.
From inside, a second person stormed out: Lessar.
"H-hey! Lover Boy!" She looked like she was out of breath. "B-Birdway sent me! Things just went topsy turvy up north!"
"Well, out with it already! What did the Caster do?" The Queen remarked curtly, knowing full well that only Archimedes was left.
But what she heard next from Ritsuka proved her wrong.
"T-there's another Demon God Pillar! It's appeared right by the Windowless Building!"
"W-what the hell are these things!?" A soldier called out. He had just ran out from one of the surrounding buildings after the end of an earthquake, only to see a massive tower of white flesh, red markings, and bright red diamond shaped eyes sticking from the ground in front of the white structure Anti-Skill had surrounded. In an instant, their fortifications around the site were upheaved without remorse.
It was tall and a pure white color, with only cracks in its flesh being a distinct red throughout its form, along with it's white diamond eyes. It had actually shot up in the middle of a building. It had risen up only a short while ago, and more of a crowd was starting to gather, mostly in confusion. The thick mist around its lower body was more like a red liquid than a gas, and large red crystals could be seen jutting out from the base of its body through it.
"You've got to be kidding…!" Hippolyta had just reached the scene; she had raced ahead with her horse, thanks to her status as a rider. Unfortunately, it was just a two-seater, so only Kintoki could really join her as an advance force. "They weren't kidding; it's right here at our front door!"
"H-hey!" Kintoki dismounted the horse and went running up to the gathering soldiers. "What are we doing just standing around!? Get your weapons, people! That thing ain't friendly!"
"R-right!" One of the soldiers nodded. "Everyone! You heard him! Arm up and prepare for a fight!"
The Amazon Queen dismounted as well, biting her lip as her horse vanished. There was one under their noses this whole time!? Then it spoke as more came around to observe the horrific sight.
"…Booting sequence, complete. Halphas online, conducting chain summoning sequence."
Hippolyta's eyes widened. Chain summoning!? "Everyone! Get clear; this thing isn't alone!"
The ground shook across the area. In a circular area around the Windowless Building, more Demon God Pillars forced themselves up from around the earth, each one varying in color, but sharing the same general design as the first. There were no less than nine of them, but each one spawned from a structure; the streets around were seemingly left intact and unobstructed.
"Chain summoning, complete, beginning ceremony," The Demon God known as Halphas spoke. "Activate. Activate. The Nine Pillars that govern the Armory. Furfur, Marchosias. Stolas. Phenex. Malphas. Raum. Focalor. Vepar. We nine pillars mourn the flames of war. We nine pillars honor the dignity of the fallen. In the name of the seventy-two Demon Gods, we shall not allow eyes to be shut away from the truth!"
"You son of a… what truth!?" Kintoki hollered.
"Fool, do you not see?" It roared. "The truth under your own eyes! The death of this world and the next is the very thing you've been guarding this whole time! Now that its master has left, we can finally arrive and put an end to this farce!"
Now that its master is gone? What were they talking about? Had the ruler of Academy City finally taken action!?
The Demon Gods eyes all lit up, firing intense red beams of light. However, they were not focused on any of the surrounding areas. No; they were focused entirely on the Windowless Building itself. There onslaught lasted only a few seconds, but it was a brilliant display of power.
However, the building they struck wasn't even blackened by the assault, even as the area around it was left a smoldering pile of ash.
"Structural integrity is still ninety-nine-point eighty-seven percent…" Halphas spoke. "Did he leave defenses behind!?"
Despite such a brilliant display of power, none of the Demon Gods could even so much as scratch the building's outer surface. Their intense focus on the structure that gave Anti-Skill an opportunity to do something; that much the Amazon Queen quickly recognized. If what they wanted was inside that building, it was their job to deny them.
"Everyone!" Hippolyta called out. "Send out the distress call; I want every single unit, manned or otherwise, inbound on this position! Everyone on site; open fire! Don't let them get through that building!"
The order to open fire spread quickly. Normal gunfire quickly proved to be ineffectual, even on the eyes, but explosives were at least somewhat effective. However, the damage inflicted was more akin to tiny cuts and bruises over anything significant; they'd need their heavier armor to do any kind of significant damage.
"You fools; we are your salvation, not your destruction!" Halphas bellowed. "Begone!"
The red mist that had gathered at its base suddenly shot out like a tidal wave, crashing into Anti-Skill forces. Everyone was launched in an instant, being sent flying through the air. It was like a bunch of flies pestering a titan; they were a minor annoyance at best. The other pillars began to do the same to the resistance they were receiving as well, quashing the assault almost immediately.
"Damn…! We don't have the firepower!" Hippolyta called out after landing. "Kintoki! It's up to you and me!"
"So, we're taking on nine demon gods by ourselves!?" He called out. "Well, we better get to chopping then! It's gonna be one hell of an evening!"
"You waste your time, Heroic Spirits." Halphas called out to them. "Our duty is the destruction of this building as has been decreed. None shall stand in our way-!"
Something abruptly flew through the air, slamming into the white Demon God while spinning. Blood was splattered, highly implying a powerful and violent assault. The Demon God tried to retaliate, but whatever it was flew off and landed close by.
It appeared to be a giant turtle of some kind, although it was exceptionally large with a jagged shell, retractable clawed limbs, and a long spiked tail. Its face was more akin to a dragon than a normal reptile, with two large horns protruding from its head. Kintoki and Hippolyta turned their weapons toward it, but a voice called out to them.
"Don't mind Tarasque; as long as I'm around, he's a good boy!" A woman approached, looking much like a holy woman.
"H-holy hell; scared me for a bit there!" Kintoki called out. "I remember you; Saint Martha, right? From the arena!?"
She nodded while a smile. "It appears that we've crossed paths again," She then tilted her head briefly. "It seems I have a thing for encountering Berserkers… I wonder why?"
"Beats the hell out of me," A second arrival, Beowulf, was next on the scene. "If I knew that, I'd be able to figure out why you dragged me all across town!"
"Our goal was saving innocent people, of course! It is our job as Servants, you numbskull!" She fired back, cracking her knuckles. Kintoki shivered a little; she held a commanding tone that made even him shiver.
The darkened Berserker relented. "I know, I know. I'm just more of a fighter than a saver," But then he quickly grinned. "And this bit here looks right up my alley!"
"I suppose the defeating of one's enemies before they can harm others is a form of salvation…" Martha mused lightly before her dragon turtle wandered over to her. "We have work to do then; I trust you're both ready?"
"Born ready; Oni and Demons might as well be the same thing to me!" Kintoki grinned. "How about you, big sis? You sure sounded ready like you were itching for a fight!"
She paused for just a moment, feeling the sash she wore around her. This was her primary Noble Phantasm, Goddess of War: War God's Military Sash. Channeling its power gave her a significant boost to all her stats aside from luck to high degrees, depending on the level of mystery within the age. While that was an unknown factor in this different world, is reliability had been proven time and time again.
She had one more ace up her sleeve, but… no; not here. It was not meant for a battle such as this.
It would be better suited against a rematch against the one who felled her: the unsinkable hero of Greek mythology.
"Yeah; I'm ready!" She announced, her sash starting to glow. "There might be nine of them, but they'll soon learn that even such an onslaught is still far too few for us. Let us clash with these beasts who claim the title as divine unholy monsters, and crush them into dust! May the gods, both the old and new, smile upon us!"
She shot straight toward one of the Demon God Pillars and punched it square in the body, causing its entire body to quiver in recoil. Kintoki came running up right after for a follow up with his axe, discharging the full strength of his Golden Eater into the beast as his partner jumped off.
Beowulf charged ahead, but came to a stop and turned upon seeing Saint Martha not do the same.
"…O' Lord," She started a prayer. "Please, close your eyes for a while and forgive what I must do, for what I do this day, is in the protection of your children. In the lord's name, amen." She finished with a nod.
"Are you done?" He asked.
"Quite," She then jumped up onto Tarasque's back. "Now that I have made myself at peace with the actions I must undertake…" She took a moment to clear her throat. "…It's time for an ass whoopin'! Tarasque!"
The dragon who knew naught of love roared, starting to spin and taking off to reengage. Despite its movement, Saint Martha remained standing without so much as a turn as it slammed once more into the head of these Demon Gods, Halphas.
Beowulf chucked and resumed his charge. It sure seemed like he found one hell of an interesting woman.
Across the area, just because they were attacked and scattered, it did not mean that Anti-Skill had been fully routed. One Yomikawa Aiho resolved such when her unit was dispatched; those who were still able got right back up and opened fire, even if it'd get them the ire of the colossal beasts before them.
"…How droll," Demon God Raum remarked in a bored tone. "Humans can be tenacious, and that is commendable, but they're so laughably pathetic on their own. Begone, the lot of you!" A wave of the black and purple gas rippled out, smacking into Yomikawa's unit for a second time. She was not deterred, despite being launched, and upon landing ran toward their downed armored transport for a secondary weapon.
She came back out with a four-silo rocket launcher, took aim and fired. Three of the projectiles hit its thick hide, effectively bouncing off, but one soared and found its way right into the pupil of one of the beast's many eyes. This must have been much more devastating, as Raum immediately started howling in pain as red blood began to ooze from the afflicted orifice.
"Y-you… witch!" It immediately targeted her, sending a dark purple beam of energy toward her like a sniper round.
She held up the launcher as a shield, but she knew it'd do little good. However, she was suddenly thrust to one side, dodging the attack. And she was just as surprised when she dropped the gun to look at her surroundings.
"I-I'm floating!?" She cried out. The Amazon of Anti-Skill quickly found that she actually had control over her flight, leaving her even more mystified.
"Yes, and hello," Suddenly, a girl in a black Victorian era dress appeared next to her. "You're not hurt, are you? My fairy dust should have been painless, but I've never used it on an adult before, nor as a reaction to an enemy's assault."
"E-eh!? W-what are you doing here!? A kid like you should be finding safety!"
The girl thought for a moment. "Perhaps you're right. Papa and Marie might be awfully sore at me for this, but…" She looked away for a moment. "…But I want to help protect this world they live in. My existence is but temporary, but they both still have many years ahead of them; years to laugh, live, and love. I can't stand by and enjoy such a life while everyone else is fighting to protect people just like them!"
Raum still appeared enraged. "Miserable Servant! Be vanquished at once, you charlatan!"
The monster attacked, and the girl flew away with a gust of wind. Yomikawa managed to fly away as well, discovering that she could manipulate her sudden new power with her mind, just barely dodging the attack. Raum unleashed an onslaught, sending beams of energy like machinegun fire. The attacks seemed to reflect off the ground too, making them even more dangerous. If it weren't for the strange girl aiding her, Yomikawa would have been turned into Swiss cheese by now.
"Maybe you should get away, miss! This is going to be a dangerous place!" The girl stated.
"That's what I should be saying to you! Who are you, anyway!?"
"Nursery Rhyme! Just a friendly book willing to lend a hand! You seem like a nice lady; do you have children, perhaps?"
"W-what kind of question is that at a time like this!?"
Nursery Rhyme giggled. "I was just thing that it'd be sad if you had anyone at home to lose you! Don't worry; I'll protect you! I might look small, but you should never judge a book by its cover!" She waved her hand, causing shards of ice to suddenly form and shoot off towards the Demon God. It did a much better job at damaging the monster than Anti-Skill's own weapons, but the monster was far from dead.
"And now you've gone and made me angry, Heroic Spirit!" Raum roared. Mana surged within its body, giving the indication that it was preparing its Incineration Ceremony. To evade, Nursery Rhyme flew backward, but eventually slammed her back into something.
"Oh! Excuse me!" The unknown man with three scars across his chest stated. "I really wasn't watching where I was going! Is there a fight up ahead? Those fleshy towers look rather menacing!"
"Y-you should stand clear!" She flew around, but came to a stop when she noticed the man not budge. "It's really dangerous! Quickly now, we must get you to safety!"
The man laughed. "I can see that! Fortunately, I am a man of danger!" He grinned. "Today has been quite the interesting day indeed; I may have lost that contest, but a clash with such a man was absolutely enthralling! I really should thank him after I've handled this!"
"Fool! Be erased from history!" Raum fired its Incineration Ceremony, unleashing a devastating wave of its mist. Feathers seemed to spawn from it, and anything that the aura touched seemed to dissolve and corrode away into nothingness.
However, the man was undeterred.
"I will do no such thing, beast. Tremble, for it is Fergus mac Róich who you have decided to battle this day!" He held out his hand, a colossal drill-like blade appearing in the palm of his hand. The moment he gripped the hilt, the blade began to spin.
Raum cursed; he knew that blade from Halphas' report from the fifth singularity!
"Spiral… ready!" Fergus called loud and proud. "You seem like the kind of monster that cowers in the darkness of people's hearts, so I'll annihilate you with a true rainbow, brighter than any sun! Take this; a strike that sliced the tops off three hills!" He pulled the blade back. "Caladbolg!"
He swung, and a wave of rainbow colored energy erupted like a tidal wave. It crashed right into the corrosive darkness, and overpowered it in an instant, raging toward the pillar.
"Impossible… impossible! IMPOSSIBLE!"
The Demon God was enveloped in the mesmerizing lights of Fergus' blade; the full force of the Noble Phantasm wiping it out in an instant. The man responsible stood proud, satisfied that he felled the monster. He even managed to pull it off before the Incineration Ceremony reached the scattered Anti-Skill soldiers; the work of a true hero.
"Oh… my…!" Nursery Rhyme blinked. "You did it! And in one attack!"
Fergus laughed as he heaved his blade over his shoulder. "It was just a matter of power, my dear! That poor monster underestimated me, and thus, he paid the price!"
"Still, that was amazing!"
The man laughed, but stopped when his eyes locked onto Yomikawa Aiho. He seemed to scan her, despite her thick and heavy body armor, almost as if he could see right through them. Long, attractive hair, tall, generous legs and hips, large bust, and clear signs of muscle definition and activity. A ten out of ten in Fergus' book.
"This is still taking some getting used to…" She managed to land on the ground, and once she had done so, she ran up to the large man with an outstretched hand. "I don't know what you did, but-!"
He took her hand in both of his, covering it with his much larger own. "Please, the pleasure is all mine, miss. Fergus mac Róich, at your service." He smiled.
"Please, do not trouble yourself a moment more. It would be my greatest honor to fight on your behalf, milady."
Nursery Rhyme blinked before settling on a deadpan expression. "Uncle Fergus is a dirty womanizer."
"W-what's dirty about me!?" He snapped around, focusing right on the little book girl.
"L-look, thanks," Yomikawa pulled her hand back. "But there are still eight of those things around, and we don't have time to wait. My squad would be more than happy to back you both up if you'll help us!" She didn't like having to accept help form Nursery Rhyme, but she got the picture very quickly that she wasn't all that she seemed. And as much as she hated it, right now they needed every possible helping hand available.
"Right away!" The girl immediately followed her to help. "Come on, Uncle Fergus! We have a war to win!"
"Err… right." He nodded and marched along quickly. He was a little thrown off being ordered around by a small girl, but she was right; chopping down these demon trees helped him feel better about it.
Besides, he just found himself another mark and the sooner the battle was one, the sooner he could make his move.
The west side was fighting just hard, but in a whole different kind of way.
"Who are these people!? Espers!?" A soldier called out.
"Right now, I don't care if they're street performers! They're helping us out, so back them up!"
The Magic Side had once more taken up arms, but with a renewed vigor and a clear sight of their enemy. They arrived from the south west on a reconnaissance mission, and were quick to act when the Demon Gods spawned.
"Hey, we have three more suffering over here!" A mage called out.
"If there's anyone simply wounded, bring them to me for healing!" Itsuwa remarked. "Anyone who is fatally injured should be pulled back to our reserve forces; they can take care of them and get them back out there!"
It was a joint effort between the sides of Magic and Science. One fought with technology, the other with spells drenched in the occult world. Just as grenades and rockets flew, sharpened blades and fireballs did the same. When the Demon Gods would attack, mages on the front line would put their all into erecting barriers to help defend so they could continue their assault.
Two Demon God Pillars stood in their way, and they didn't seem up for much conversation. They unleashed their power relentlessly, fighting off the coalition of Anti-Skill and Western Magicians with all their might. They didn't hold back, treating them all as if they were fighting enemies on par with Servants.
And, for the record, some of them were.
Kanzaki dashed down from a rooftop, slicing one of the pillars' eyes right open as though it were made of paper. Acqua of the Back targeted the other, rending its flesh with Ascalon, proving it could do more than be a simple bane to all dragonkind.
"So, these are the creatures who have been plaguing this city?" Kanzaki commented lightly.
"We really were led astray…" Acqua added. "No matter; with our vision clear, such monsters are little more than roadblocks. The fools that lured us here in hopes of doing their dirty work will soon learn of their folly."
"Sure sounds like you're having fun down there!" From another rooftop, Leivinia Birdway called down to them. "How goes the party? Getting tired yet?"
Acqua's brow furrowed. "Hold your tongue. You may criticize us when you come down from there and join the battle yourself!"
"You make it sound like I wasn't already intending to," Leivinia stood up and drew her wand. "Now, let's make it flashy, baby!"
Loud cannon shots could be heard as heavy artillery fire made an impact on the two Demon God Pillars. Unlike standard ordinance, these attacks actually seemed powerful enough to cause lasting damage to them.
"Birdway!" Kanzaki called out. She could feel the mana surging from those shots. "Mixing of magic and science is highly illegal!"
"T-that wasn't me, honest! What, do you think I suddenly have howitzers lying around!? Get real!" The Cabal Boss argued.
Much was made clear when heavy footsteps of a twenty-meter tall metal monstrosity could be seen strutting down the path with smoking cannons mounted on its back.
"All my values are nominal for operation," The voice of Charles Babbage could be heard from speakers mounted on it. "Impact confirmed, targets remain active and hostile. How does it look form your view, Misaka Mikoto?"
At the top, Academy City's Railgun could be seen standing on it. It appeared to be a much larger version of Babbage's giant machine, although it lacked its usual giant mace. The four artillery cannons on its back were split across its shoulders, opening fire again. Another notable difference was that its right arm was larger than its left, and seemed to have a massive piston on it. The shots made impact, but the giant machine didn't stop.
"Direct hits, but they're still going," Mikoto answered into her phone. "These things are actually kind of tough, aren't they?"
"Please be careful, Babbage-san!" Uiharu's voice chimed in on the line. "Remember, it was your decision to use your own body as a power source!"
Saten joined in next. "Yeah! You had better make it back to us! Don't go making a bunch of girls like us cry by dying at the last moment, would you?"
"Ha! You speak as if I have marched out here to die!" Charles remarked. "True, I may be inside yet another machine, but this one I built myself! I hold memories of its creation! That cretin Blackbeard wishes he could be in this position!"
"Don't get overconfident; there's still plenty of fighting to do!" The Railgun cautioned.
"I am aware; as a prototype, this machine might be in for a rough fight, but I intend to put it through its paces! Mobile Fortress Babbage, engaging combat mode!"
Steam shot from the piston as it was released from rest, doubling in length. It ran ahead, eager to take the fight to the Demon Gods with its newfound weaponry. The two pillars targeted it immediately, and that gave those down below an opportunity it clear the way as well as retaliate. With the Mobile Fortress Babbage deployed, the tables had been before it unleashed its Steam Piston attack.
"…Huh; A giant robot," Leivinia blinked. "Neat; I bet Patricia would really like it."
"Silence," Acqua stated. "Abomination or not, that thing has given us a perfect opportunity! Capitalize on it!"
She and Kanzaki nodded in agreement as once more magic and science fought side by side.
"Man… so much for the café," Tamamo-no-Mae remarked. "I figured we'd get at least a few more weeks in…"
"That's just how the cookie crumbles, Woof!" Tamamo Cat stated.
They were positioned up north. They had actually been booked full when the disaster struck, sending all their patrons fled the scene, fearing for their lives. Tamamo-no-Mae, understandably angry that all her paying customers had been ran off, marched over to see what all the hubbub was about.
Then she found nine, giant pillars of flesh. Well, eight by now, but that's beside the point.
"Guess if the endgame is upon us, then this will be our last night of operation…" She seemed rather said. "I suppose it's for the best; as much as I enjoyed running a business, I think I'm more suited to be a house wife."
"Does that mean I get the place then?" Elizabeth questioned.
"Not a chance in Hell, the Netherworld, Kur, or any other possible place where bad dead humans go; you'll run it into the ground, even if you own it for just ten minutes!"
"Oh come on; my name is on the place too, isn't it!?"
Cat shook her head. "Some things never change… oh well! At least they're consistent, woof!"
"Ladies," Gawain suddenly spoke up. "I'm sorry that this is how our joint venture ends, especially considering how we met to begin with."
Elizabeth glared at him, but gradually softened up. "…We had a good run, right?"
"I'd say so. I was scared about how having you be our entertainment would go, but it seems like it all worked out. Maybe if we can all get summoned like this again, we can pick this up from scratch." Tamamo smiled solemnly. "It's too bad, but either the world goes boom, or this is resolved, and we all return to the throne."
"Well, that doesn't mean you can't have a little bit of fun, right?" Shuten Douji suddenly dropped down next to her, followed by Ibaraki Douji, who was now much more conscious than earlier in the day.
"Oh, there you are!" The blue fox girl cried happily. "I thought something was off; you are always there for our Friday matinee!"
"The smell of booze being absent was a nice change of- OW!" Elizabeth shouted when Tamamo abruptly stomped on her foot, sending her stumbling about as she held it.
Shuten laughed. "Still quite the spirited bunch. You were always skilled at bringing bunches of unique people together!"
Ibaraki on the other hand was silent for the most part, looking rather disheartened.
"Why the long face, woof?" Cat meandered over to her. "Wanna try fluffing my tail? It cheers people up, woof!"
"…No," She remarked. "I can't believe… that these things ended up manipulating a powerful Oni like me like this! All I wanted were fireworks!"
Gawain had a sudden idea. "You know, I do believe this city uses fireworks for their celebrations."
The Oni's ear twitched. "…Go on."
"Indeed; they have festivals quite frequently. I hear they make sure to have a sizable stockpile of them at any given time… but if they were to suddenly vanish, say, because of the world's destruction, well…"
"N-no! NO!" Ibaraki practically cried. "I won't let them! I want candy! I want Fireworks! Stupid, stupid demon gods, trying to take roles away from us Oni!? To take candy and fireworks away from us Oni! Ohhhhhhhh, I'm so angry right now!"
Shuten blinked and eyed her for a moment before focusing on the knight clad in silver. He simply gave a thumbs up, causing the girl to grin.
"You remind me of my Kintoki, little knight," She giggled. "Speaking of which; I'm looking for him. Have you seen my beautiful little blond boy, Tamamo-chan?"
"Nope; not hide nor gloriously-golden head. Try the south end? I see yellow sparks from there every now and then." She replied.
"Can't hurt; I might need to enlist your services in locating him if this doesn't work."
"Let me know how it goes! You know I love hearing stories about you two!"
"Will do! Good luck!" Shuten Douji was off, with Ibaraki Douji charging on ahead angrily, waving her sword around like a toddler.
Tamamo-no-Mae sighed blissfully. "Those two are cute together… if only Kintoki wasn't such a dunderhead and she would stop trying to kill him."
"Love is weird like that sometimes," Elizabeth shrugged. "Well! I guess we better pitch in too, right?"
"Indeed; I am fully recovered from earlier," Gawain nodded, drawing his blade once more. "It might be one last night we have together, but that just means we have the perfect excuse to cut lose."
"I agree! I wanna break stuff, woof!" Cat looked excited, constantly deploying and retracting her claws.
He blue foxy Caster chuckled a little. "I guess we might as well have at; one last party for all four of us!"
The group of four Servants marched down from the north, intending to make the best of one last night in each other's company, and a bunch of Demon Gods weren't going to stand in their way.
"Holy crap… look at this!"
Touma called out once they reached the scene. They couldn't teleport out thanks to the unfortunate nature of the spiky haired teen's Imagine Breaker, so they settled on going as one big unit to avoid any possible secret attacks. Anything was on the table if Demon Gods had started spawning within the safe zone, after all, including the summoning of new Servants, such as an Assassin.
The battle was fierce; Servants were engaging the Demon Gods with reckless abandon with Anti-Skill support; a large amount of heavily armored units, namely a few Six Wings, had arrived to further back them up. Chaldea could hear the sounds of Babbage's giant robot going to town in the distance, too. As much as she wanted to stick around Lessar broke off from them shortly after their arrival, stating she had an obligation or two to deal with.
It was chaos, but all sides had a clear objective; defeat the other. Lines had been drawn, and neither one wanted to give an inch.
"So, what are we doing?" Cú asked. "We pounding some Demon Gods?"
"…Wait," Romani called out. "I'm detecting nine… no, eight pillars, but something else too. Trying to verify it during all the action is kind of tough!"
"If you can hurry, please do so! We don't have much time!" Mashu shouted.
"Just about… got it!" The good doctor looked over the data carefully. "It's Archimedes! He's standing on top of the Windowless Building! Judging from his mana signal, he's deployed his Noble Phantasm!"
Their plan was clear; break into the tall, white structure and steal the grail. The enemy Caster deploying his Noble Phantasm was likely a lead up to this scenario. However, Chaldea saw no point in letting the forces of King Solomon take it.
They'd slip in and steal it for themselves, putting an end to this madness once and for all.
"It might be hard, but we should let these guys deal with the Demon Gods themselves," Ritsuka ordered. "If we can defeat Archimedes and take the grail, then we can use its power to defeat the remaining pillars if we have to!"
"Sounds like a plan to me," EMIYA nodded. "Let's move!"
Thankfully, the streets were most clear, aside from the occasional bit of debris here and there. They were fearful of a Demon God taking up residence in their path, but the road looked as clear as it could, given the circumstances.
They ran forward, but a barrage of white feathers flew toward them like daggers, bringing them to a halt. They stuck into the ground, making it look like a white field that cut them off from the rest of the world.
"No way…!" Romani gulped. "H-he's still alive!?"
He flew down from the sky, but it was unmistakable. Kakine Teitoku once more stood before them, as good as new. Touma felt his fist tighten at the sight of him, but the Dark Matter simply glared at them.
He did not taunt or speak, he only thought. He considered the additions to their roster, Hector and Robin Hood; the only real threat there was Hector's indestructible spear. Then came Chaldea itself; he glared specifically at EMIYA over their last encounter and had to note that Cú had at least one way around his Dark Matter. Mashu he only examined briefly; there was little to fear from a big shield, he reasoned. Then there was Heracles, their big strong tough fighter; enough bodies in front of him could make him a non-issue, though he'd certainly have to keep an eye on him to make sure he's sufficiently busy. The pink haired queen was its own can of worms that could be taken care of as long as he did so quickly; her overall power was exceptionally low in a pure combat setting with only one standout exception. Kamijou Touma was a non-issue, along with the tiny girl on his shoulder; he already had a strategy in place to make the boy's right hand negligible, and the god couldn't hurt him if he tried.
The only oddballs were that new ones, Medea, and the little nun, Index. What the former could do as a Caster was a complete unknown to him, as was the latter. Perhaps on reflex, Gungnir appeared in his hand as the shot feathers bubbled up into copies of himself and those massive fifteen-meter tall beetles he called upon earlier.
"…Ok, so he's learning and adapting," EMIYA remarked as he formed Kanshou and Bakuya. "That spear of his is back too; that's a problem."
"The only negative here is if he throws it; as long as he doesn't, or if you can stop him from throwing it, it'll be fine," Othinus stated. "He doesn't seem too keen on doing it now, otherwise he would have just done it out of range. It's probably more there as a precaution than an intention to use it."
Medea studied things for a moment. "…To me, his appearance here is more to act as a roadblock. As in, stopping us specifically from reaching that structure."
"Came to that conclusion too, huh?" Hector held his spear against his shoulder. "Still… a spear that can just destroy everything by being thrown, huh? Getting around these things is the key to halting that, but if these things are even half as powerful as a Servant, it's an issue."
"Indeed; it's not something we can just throw bit warriors at."
"Get me a clear shot, and I'll poison him," Robin Hood offered. "I'm no good at front-line battles, and these white things don't look like they'd be hurt by it. The one churning them all out might be a different story, though."
"Easier said than done… ah well; we're gonna have to fight through them no matter what! No use in over complicating things!" Cú called out. "Master, your orders?"
Ritsuka thought carefully, it did seem like they have options and that it'd be more of a battle of attrition to break through Kakine's front line. However, Archimedes was on top of the building, and was releasing his Noble Phantasm. No attack had come at them, so what it could be was a complete mystery, and whatever he was doing with it a bigger one on top of that. Medb's own variant of Caladbolg could likely wipe the floor with them, but with the clash with that Caster so close, missing any tool in their playbook sounded like a bad idea.
Still, their opponent had proven themselves to be much more resourceful than initially anticipated, and unlike previous encounters, was taking them seriously. Maybe using some of their trump cards here was the play to make, but which ones would be crucial to how they proceeded.
As the two sides were staring each other down, a second volley of feathers flew, hitting the ground between them. Was he padding out his front line further? It was known that his Dark Matter clones retained his ability to some extent, so maybe he had spares lying around to act as reinforcement batteries; that'd make things a much bigger issue.
They formed up into more duplicates of Kakine, but they seemed more than a little off. Their expressions were far gentler, although noticeably serious. Furthermore, their eyes and lips were a pure white, vastly different from the set that had been across from Chaldea.
"Don't worry," One turned and spoke to the group. "I can even the odds a little bit."
Kakine's eyes widened as he sneered, looking up toward the building on his right. There was another Kakine, pure white and matching the newly spawned duplicates, floating there with his trademark six angel wings. The two glared at one another, as if sizing the other up.
"T-Two Kakines!?" Romani hollered. "T-this is the first I've heard of this!"
"Doctor, explanation please!" Mashu called out.
"I-I don't know! I thought that the white one might be one of those rare Alter Ego Servants, but I'm not detecting a spirit origin from him!"
Touma was just as confused. He didn't meet Kakine until after his supposed "death," and even then, the one he encountered was the white one in the sky. He didn't recognize the Avenger Kakine at first due to that, especially with a clear difference in expressions.
So there really was another one. Two Kakine Teitokus.
"Stay out of this, you fake!" The Servant Kakine roared. "This has nothing to two with you and your two-bit imitations!"
"You are me, and I am you; actions you undertake are just as much my responsibility as yours! I have no intention of just hand-waving your deeds, Kakine!" The all-white variant fired back.
The real one gritted his teeth. A voice in his head was calling for him to throw the spear; annihilate them all and be done with it. They were just stepping stones that needed to be surpassed, and the power of King Solomon could give him a perfect world, just for him all his own.
But he wasn't interested in that perfect world; he wanted this one, with all its faults. There was no revenge for him in perfection; there was no reason to be an Avenger. His own class rebelled against the notion with all its strength, rejecting it outright. Just killing those who had wronged him was not enough; unless they suffered, just as he had, the burning rage in his heart would never cease.
Then he heard that familiar sound: Clang, step. Clang, step. Clang, step.
The white double, Beetle 5, had not arrived alone. Accelerator stood, exiting the building that his doppelganger was flying above as if he owned the place.
At that moment, fear alone demanded him to throw that spear, but it was too late. With one swift motion, Accelerator was already close to him. He could tell by the boy's expression; he had no intention of toying around with him, not with all this destruction and chaos in the world.
But just as he would strike, a bright white flash enveloped the two. It struck as the speed of light, engulfing them both in an instant. Only the voice of a man could be heard after the attack had already landed, broadcasting out as if it were spoken through a megaphone.
"Katoptron Katho Phlegon - Clustered Straws, Burn Out Like the Moon."
And yet another cliffhanger! Because I am pure unadulterated evil.
And the endgame has begun, my friends! The last clash for all the marbles. The conclusion of this Singularity is upon us! And thus, I went out of my way to include most of, if not all, of the Servants on the good or at least neutral side of this little war, in addition to a fun faces we've seen over time.
But there's only one way to see how this all plays out, 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.