And here we are, eight chapters in, and with a suddenly appearing Number One to get to. A bit exciting, eh?
We got some reviews!
D N Works: Yeah; Kakine can't kick some old habits. He's a jobber at heart, and that's where he gets screwed over. Believe it or not, the Servant number is not fixed, so one can get pretty free-form with how many to include.
calderoneric758: It will happen eventually, just be patient; the story isn't just a set up for the Invisible Thing to do stuff, you know!
Mrcrazyman: Figured out the Caster that quickly, eh?
13thRebels: You'll see them here and there. And they all have something to do with the main story to boot!
paeluclucas: Glad you enjoyed the Interlude!
Adv Satoshi: I do believe it is, but it's not like Accelerator needs a buff to deal with Kakine, anyway. Sadly, I don't have plans with Mama-Raikou; she would unfortunately mess with a certain angle I'm going for... and you're right; Touma is missing a motherly-like character in his cavalcade of girls.
Issei ODR: Thanks!
Guest (1): Teasing is fun.
Yu Narukaze: It happens! But yeah, I won't hide it. It's Accelerator.
Markoz89: It's a bit tipped in one direction, but it'll balance out eventually. Effectively, due to the clash between worlds, the Academy City singularity is a sort of Gateway to this other world. Academy City isn't so much closed off as it's residents are currently trapped, but someone from the outside could certainly find their way in. I'll leave you to speculate as to what happens next!
Ultimate Warrior of Zera: Glad you liked it!
AshRuleZ: Believe it or not, that idea is false. I did a big lore dive to make sure, but Gae Bolg's thrown spear Noble Phantasm isn't just a big bomb; all those capabilities I listed are indeed attributed to when he calls its true name when throwing the spear. EMIYA wasn't able to block it in UBW just because he had a powerful barrier, but because that barrier was specifically designed to block lances. If he used any other kind of barrier, it would have struck it's mark. I don't blame you for not knowing; I had to do a dive into lore to learn it myself, after all.
Missingmoney: Sorry if I came off as aggressive; I was more just trying to explain my side of things. If that came off as offensive, I apologize. The Kakine here is after his second clash, but to be specific, after his encounter with a certain Magic God. This is more or less just the first round with him, so he's jobbing them like they're ants without realizing they have some actual bite to them. My thought process was that Lancer had thrown the spear as a cover for Touma to get in close, thus he was smug because he knew what was coming next if Kakine happened to survive... but I'll concede that such a thing could be OOC for him, even if he knew it was just a set-up. I'd comment more on Kakine's mind-set, but with mentioning what period he is from here, as post-Othinus Encounter, I'll leave you to speculate what that meeting could have done to his state of mind.
MrQuestionMark: No worries about the character-count, not all of them will be around all of the time; some of them is definitely more about introducing them than anything. Accelerator getting involved is Inevitable with Kakine in the plot! Birdway and Lessar are characters I wanted to include, but felt like they'd be kinda shafted being directly compared to Servants like this, so I figured them in a more supporting role would be a good way to have them around but not have them be overshadowed. Lessar and Medb's friendship is a high-point for me; In my circle of friends, we joking refer to Lessar as "Medb-Lily," as in a Young Medb, and it fits in so many ways. Glad you're enjoying the interludes!
Sora with an S: Glad to see you having fun with this story, despite my occasional typos! As for our mystery man... nope; it's not a Kihara, but some other people have managed to discern his Identity! Who knows about the Russian Orthordox church; it is a shame that they are kinda under-developed, but to develop them would basically need an Arc in Russia, I think. I'd be game to see them re-introduced though!
fg7dragon: Accelerator is stacked, man.
AkumaESPer: Touma's life is suffering. And yes; Index is very my happily fed, thanks to Chaldea! Dark Matter is confusing, but it can be summed up as the "creation of material that functions on a completely different set of Laws of Physics." Oho, so you did a lore dive for Gae Bolg, too! Good work on logicing out who the Caster could be! The clues for the one doing the hacking is 1) He's a Pervert and 2) It's a Servant that already exists in Fate/GO... though it might not be who you expect if you just stick to the Technologically gifted!
Felipe1402XZA: He has arrived.
Maxim7: There's a little bit of back and forth between them. I think Touma being confirmed to be a good cook is from Railgun, if I'm remembering right. He does have really good skill with cooking, coming from a place of poverty that still craves good-tasting food. But Lancer did end up throwing his spear! And yes, Accelerator has popped in to deal out some damage! It's more about the whole "meeting the man who invented my profession" kind of deal for Babbage and Uiharu.
Kamijou Touma1: Oh, you'll get EMIYA vs Kakine eventually, just not right here.
Guest (2): Still not sure about Accelerator's wings, as I don't want to completely overshadow Chaldea as a faction in this story, but you'll see what I can do with the plot, my friend!
MythAnime: Its a weird question, as a Servant is summoned in a condition where usually they'll have no problems using their fullest capabilities. I think it's more about them specifically USING magic that hurts them, though; Mana is just burned to sustain their existence, so I don't think that's explicitly casting a spell.
Aminadab Brulle: Kakine is jobbing again...
Guest (3) (Chapter 1): Oh, very much so! Touma and BB would absolutely not get along.
xXwolfsterXx644: Here it issss!
Windraider: It's more because it's Kakine after everything had happened to him, including his Encounter with Othinus. It might be a bit speculative as to how he might be after taht encunter, but I figured this was the best route to take him. As for why he's focused on revenge against certain people, but not explicitly just Accelerator anymore... well, his class might help explain that when it's revealed. Worried and annoyed, as he currently doesn't have a way to deal with Accelerator, was what I was going for. His shock was the initial arrival, I'd say, but maybe I didn't sell it well enough.
tsun: Some are important, just not in different ways. Kakine is just jobbing since it's our first encounter and he doesn't even perceive Chaldea as a threat. Touma is around as it would be out of place to not have him involved with something like this, and a more defined role eventually. There is absolutely a reason for him to be around, but if your saying this in a regard as though you wish for him to be suddenly cut from the plot... sorry, that's not happening. It might be best to jump-ship now if that's unbearable for you.
GuestStar: Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was; I think it was in Railgun, but I could be wrong. Sadly, Lessar is more in a supporting role this time around, though I hope you like the dialogue of Lessar and Medb being friends. Kakine is just playing around because he feel's he's untouchable by Chaldea. As for when he was summoned, this is ebcause this is after his revival, as in after he was met with the unstoppable wall that was Othinus.
Mr. X: 1): That happens a lot; sometimes stuff slips through the cracks, no matter how many times read it. 2) If you don't like my choice in Dialogue, all I can advise you to do is to not read it, sadly. 3) That's actually covered here. 4) That's a mystery, not isn't it? 5) Caster is not an OC. Some other people have figured it out; good luck with your research!
Guest (4): Not well for anyone involved.
Healthcare: Congratulations for being on time! Birdway and Lessar are always fun to do, and I especially liked the part between the latter and Medb; giving Lessar friends is dangerous but fun. Babbage seemed like a must-have for a Story like this, as he is the "Father of the Computer," you know? And Accelerator has come to town... kuhahahaha!
Guest (5): That is a lot of information, but it is helpful information. Thanks!
And with that done... enjoy!
"Well… thing's just took a turn…" Kintoki grimaced lightly. "The hell is he doing here?"
"You know him, Kintoki?" Romani asked.
The golden man scratched his head. "Well, I know of him. Only really met him once, so I really just know his titles. What I don't know is why Mr. Number-One over there is even here; he's turned us down every time we threw an offer at him before."
"That does seem unusual…" Mashu questioned. "Wait, did you say number one?"
"Damn right; the number one. Strongest esper in town, bar none. If the rumor mill is right, none of the others hold a candle to him, even amongst the other level 5's."
Ritsuka listened while watching the scene in front of him closely. "…Archer; you're keeping an eye on them, right?"
"The whole time," EMIYA answered. "What are your orders?"
"I have the distinct feeling things are about to go down here between those two," Ritsuka continued. "They'll either try to fight or run. Keep watching them and try to hit them when they act. Lancer, can you get Kamijou-san out of there when the fighting starts?"
"Aye," Cú Chulainn nodded. "I'm running pretty low on mana after my stunt anyway, so a rescue job might be all I'm good for right now. How about you, Archer? I know you've been firing off shots like crazy."
"I'm not in the best of shape either; I've been firing off my best stock for a while now," EMIYA answered. "I can probably get one more good attack in before things start getting dangerous for me."
"It'll take time for everyone to recharge their energy…" Romani frowned. "And we haven't reached the upper floors, either…"
"I have command seals if we need them," The Chaldea master stated. "Let's just hope it doesn't come to that; I don't think I'll be getting anymore until we resolve this."
"Right," The good doctor crossed his arms. "Let's manage our resources carefully and see how things develop for now."
The group watched carefully as Kakine gritted his teeth at the white haired boy before him. The new arrival was grinning rather wide, but his expression changed when his eyes locked onto the injured Kamijou Touma, who was still just barely able to stand with the support of the wall behind him. The twisted grin faded quickly, the teen's eyes growing edgy and serious.
"…I didn't take you for someone to pick fights with level 0's, third string," He called out. "What's wrong? Feeling a little inadequate since last time you got your shit pushed in?"
"A level 0?" Kakine scoffed. "If this annoying sod right here is a level 0, then I'm the king of England!"
"Then it'll be a very short reign, then. I have to admit; I've never committed regicide before… first time for everything, I suppose."
"You must be joking!"
"This is what happens when you don't do fucking research into your targets you piece of shit."
Kakine looked frustrated, eyeing the unlucky Kamijou briefly. Someone with the ability to nullify his Dark Matter was just a level 0? Then-
…Aleister. It made sense when that man's name popped into his head. Of course he'd have a secret weapon tucked away somewhere.
"I feel I must remind you that the necessary information has been harvested, and staying in this location is no longer necessary," The Caster to Kakine's right spoke. "I do believe that it would be wise to retreat for now. If they desire this building so much, I don't see much point in wasting our lives or that of our cohorts just to turn it into rubble, especially since they already know it was us who took it."
The blond boy bit his lip.
"…Then go; get it out of here," Kakine ordered. "If you get killed in the crossfire, then this whole operation would be a waste of time!"
The Caster simply nodded and then jumped high, opting for a ceiling exit to escape. EMIYA reacted quickly; firing a bolt straight for him, but a set of Kakine's white wings shot up and blocked the ranged attack. The red Archer growled as more of the Caster's mechanical creations spawned around their owner, ripping open a hole in the ceiling and even flinging him into it for extra speed. With so few ranged options and EMIYA low on mana, there was little else to do as he escaped.
"Bad call, third string."
While Kakine was defending his associate, the white haired boy suddenly appeared in front of the blond with a kick straight into his stomach. There was a loud series of cracks heard upon impact, Kakine coughing up blood as he was launched like a rocket through the front of the building.
"H-hey! Get out of the way!" Kintoki grabbed Ritsuka and Mashu to pull them out of the way as the Dark Matter flew by them, rising higher than when Cú was dealt a similar blow. The winged boy soared over the fighting of Anti-Skill and Medb's soldiers, slamming right into the center of the structure across the street.
Medb blinked at the sight. "…You know, that building keeps spitting out modestly good-looking men. I wonder what other surprises it had under the hood."
"Is this really the time for jokes!?" Index called out. The bombing raids had begun coming to a stop, but there were still quite a few monsters in the area pressing on them hard. Even if their reinforcements had dropped off, there was still much to do.
Back on the inside, Romani gave a status report. "It seems the Demon Terrorist Core took one of their bosses flying from the front of the building as a sign to escape; their signals just went south before vanishing…"
"Crap, that makes this whole operation a bust, doesn't it?" Kintoki frowned. "Totally not golden…"
"Still though, that was an impressive hit, even if I really couldn't figure out what happened; it's like the impact was ramped up to eleven."
"Does he still have a signal, Dr. Roman?" Ritsuka asked.
"He does, but he really ended up taking a beating. He's not moving."
"Hey, I got the kid," Cú walked over, carrying Kamijou Touma with one arm over his shoulder, who still appeared as though he had seen better days. "What do we do now that the Caster made a run for it?"
Mashu looked toward the second hole in the front of the building. "Well, there's one of them left we could deal with. I consider it unlikely he'd be able to fight any further after the damage from Lancer and the number one."
They could hear footsteps approaching them. The white haired boy looked none too pleased, despite having turned his target into a wrecking ball. His eyes drifted over to the unlucky Kamijou for a moment, narrowing as he did so.
"Leave the third string to me and stay the fuck out of my way; I'll put him into a nice deep hole in the ground," The boy stated, turning back to where he had ejected Kakine. "The piece of shit is my responsibility."
"But-!" Ritsuka tried to argue, but the number one then jumped through the hole he had made, leaping to the other structure in a single bound.
The white haired teen landed in the building without a single concern. A few of the monsters tried to intercept him, likely just seeing a meek, pathetic looking human they could murder, but those that tried met an untimely demise when their own attacks were shot right back at them; reflected perfectly. He looked around once he was inside; the building appeared to be simple office space with all its cubicles and equipment left in a hurry. Those with a careful eye could even see personal touches still left behind.
There were three rows of cubicles that stretched the room, and the middle one was likely where Kakine Teitoku landed as half of it was demolished. It was possible that the blond male was under the debris but judging from the impact and the angle where he landed, it'd be more likely he'd be on top. He stomped his foot on it a few times as a test; no reaction considered even slightly human resonated from within, so it was likely that Kakine had left.
Then a single white wing shot from over the cubical set from his left, aiming for his neck. Not so much to decapitate him, but rather it was targeting the wires on the battery attached to the boy's collar.
"It seems you forgot I already have your ability taken into account, you shit stain!"
The number one intercepted the wing, grabbing it and pulling, drawing its owner toward him. He then slammed his knee into Kakine's gut as he was propelled through the office setting.
The blond groaned from the blow with blood still fresh on his lips from the previous impact.
"…Accelerator…!" Kakine grunted. "You… bastard!"
"Someone doesn't know when to quit," Accelerator mocked. "At least before you were a little creative with how you attacked me; this is the same as you throwing fucking rocks because you don't fucking know what else you can try to pull!"
The number one grinned while the number two glared.
"But I must admit; for a corpse, you're looking pretty fucking good right now. How'd you rise from the grave this time?"
"…A wish upon a star."
"Now who's spouting bullshit?"
"It's not entirely wrong," Kakine slowly began to smirk. "Someone wants this city to burn, and they called me down here to do it. Doesn't make much of a mystery, does it?"
"Guess not; who did it? Where can I find them? I'll put in a good word when I'm crushing their skull under my foot for pissing me off."
"Not here; not in a place you can reach, Accelerator. He's not someone who can be defeated… though if someone had the ability to, it'd probably be either you or that bastard Aleister."
"Giving compliments now?"
"Just stating facts," Kakine replied. "Someone gave me an offer I couldn't refuse… this is pure revenge. Surely, you can understand that, right? Getting back at all the pieces of shit that made you what you are? You're on my list, but compared to them... well, let's just say I have my priorities this time around."
Accelerator's smile faded.
"That's all I'm doing; they made us, Accelerator. They used us like pigs… you might be fine trotting along like a puppet, but I'm not. No one will ever use me again…!"
The white haired teen made a fist and slammed it into Kakine's chest, blowing a hole in it and launching him into the far wall. It shattered on impact, as expected, but something was off; despite the gaping chasm in his chest, there wasn't a single drop of blood spilled. In fact, the supposed corpse began to rise again, still holding its smirk and beginning to laugh.
And as it did so, the body's color began to shift to a complete white. The only exceptions were its eyes and lips, which darkened to a sickening black.
"…This shit again?" Accelerator clicked his teeth. "What a pain in my ass."
He then stomped, destroying the entire floor, making the rest of the building fall on top of them both. The upper and lower sections cracked upon colliding, but managed to remain intact for the most part, despite the damage. Chaldea and company exited the building across the street to see the sudden destruction.
"Guess the bastard had more fight in him left after all," Cú remarked. "He might be a right piece of shit, but there's something to be said for tenacity."
They looked around to see Anti-Skill and Medb's soldiers mopping up the attacking force. There were a few pockets of resistance, but the vast majority had been dealt with; this could be heard more than seen as the occasional sounds of gunfire resonated in the distance. After repelling their attackers, Anti-Skill decided to track down those who might have ran to purge them from the district.
Though the battle was hard fought, it was not without sacrifice. Casualties were low among the living, but they still existed. Moreover, most of those injured were likely not able to return to duty anytime soon due to the severity of the harm inflicted upon them. The monsters were far larger and stronger than ordinary humans, and struck with weapons to match; not being killed was a blessing of course, but more than likely the survivors wouldn't be able to return to active duty for months, possibly years due to the trauma.
Medb's army endured the vast majority of the casualties with very few survivors, but those could be somewhat ignored via the fact she could simply call forth more the next day. But it was notable regardless; it felt as though their enemy was adjusting to Queen Medb's tactics and reacting in kind. Be it that army or Anti-Skill, it was highly likely that one could not have survived without the other.
"Man, talk about a train wreck," Kintoki frowned. "All this and the best we could pull off was saving the building… didn't even make it to Ibaraki and Shuten."
"Yeah; it's safe to say we're fighting an uphill battle," Ritsuka stated. "Seems to me they were more than prepared for us; think Shuten tipped them off?"
"Doubt it; Shuten Douji is a lot of things, most of them not good, but betrayal isn't in her play book. My guess is that the blond and our mystery Caster decided to see this through personally after they had that encounter with us."
Romani hummed for a moment. "…It does make a little sense to be on guard when you know your enemy is afoot, even if you have the advantage. It seemed like that Caster dug up something extra they were after too, though what is a mystery. The only one who could know is in that crushed area across the street."
"It surprises me that esper powers can even harm Servants," Mashu added. "A Servant's existence is on the line of true miracles; it should require something with sufficient mystery like magecraft to harm them, yet that boy launched him like a ragdoll…"
"I think there's a connection in this world between its magic systems and esper abilities we don't fully understand just yet. I could tell from my readings that Kakine was clearly damaged by that boy's attack."
"…Accelerator really went to town this time, huh?" Touma remarked. Cú had been supporting him, as due to the damage he had received from the Caster, he could barely stand. He had been lucid for a while, and only just recently regained some form of consciousness.
Romani tilted his head "Accelerator? Is that his name?"
The unlucky Kamijou nodded. "Yeah, I know him. Surprised he showed up, honestly… but it seems like to me that he saved us; I don't know how that would have gone without him."
"Honestly, I'm just glad you're alive, Kamijou-san!" Mashu smiled. "I was worried after Caster's attack that we had lost you."
"This isn't the worst shape I've been in… but I've also felt a lot better." The spiky haired groaned a little.
The sound of a galloping of a horse quickly filled the area, eventually revealing that Hippolyta had managed to reach them. "S-sorry I'm late! It everyone alright?"
"Little broken, bruised, and exhausted, but nothing too outrageous. Well, that's us anyway; the boys who were keeping the monsters off our backs had seen better days." Kintoki answered.
"I can see that…" She grimaced as she looked around. "Morale isn't exactly high, but I suppose that's to be expected. If only I could have gotten here sooner somehow…"
"Excuse me, but can I ask where you were during this?" Mashu asked. "N-not that I doubt you or anything, but…"
"No, no; it'd be weirder if you weren't at least a little suspicious. I was actually fetching the number one."
"You got Accelerator to come over here?" Touma raised an eyebrow.
"It was a long shot, but I figured I might as well try," Hippolyta dismounted her horse, which then dematerialized. "I did a little digging on the number two, and among other things I found that those two had some history. I brought this up to him and he suddenly started asking a lot of questions. He took off when I mentioned that Kakine was siding with the enemy."
"We were able to detect him for a while before he actually appeared, though he showed up on our equipment as just another human," Romani mused. "I'm guessing he was watching us fight to make sure it really was that Kakine, and only acted when he felt it was appropriate."
From across the street, Accelerator had exited the building with little harm upon his person aside from a light collection of dust on his outfit. He approached without a word, not appearing up for conversation. If EMIYA hadn't noticed, the group likely wouldn't have seen him make his way over.
"I take it you defeated Kakine Teitoku?" The red Archer asked.
"Fuck no," The albino boy clicked his tongue. "He left a fucking body double behind and split. Fucker is probably halfway across town by now."
"A double that could mimic his spirit origin?" Romani frowned, not liking the concept. "Still, I doubt we'll see him for a while; his injuries were fairly severe."
"Like that matters when he's got a Caster on his side and Solomon's support," Cú remarked. "What I want to know is why they were after this satellite building to begin with."
"Academy City has a lot of satellites in orbit; it could be that they're after one of them for something." Touma suggested.
"Hah… I feel like we'll be in trouble if Academy City has any military assets in orbit… I'm not sure we can do much about a bombardment from beyond the atmosphere," Romani sighed. "Maybe we should think about sending a Caster over ourselves; that might be able to give us an edge over the one they got their hands on."
Accelerator didn't care for the strategy meeting, ignoring most of it. "Hey, fucking hero."
Touma blinked at him, finding the number one staring at him. "Me?"
"What are you doing getting your ass kicked in the first act, huh?"
"I feel like you're judging me for getting hit when I was already restraining someone! I can't just drop him to defend myself in less than a second! Plus, if I let him go, that Kakine guy would have gutted me with his ability!"
"Could have just fucking pivoted so he took the brunt of the attack."
"While he was resisting me the whole time!? That's some pretty high expectations for a normal high schooler, damn it!"
"Normal my ass," Accelerator grunted. "I'm saying try not to get yourself fucking killed, dipshit."
"You say that like I'm trying to die or something!"
"I'm getting the vibe that our new friend stepped in not because of Kakine, but more so because Kamijou-san was injured…" Romani trailed off as the albino boy began to glare at him. Even through his monitor the good doctor found his stare excessively intimidating.
"…Whatever," Accelerator turned. "I'm out of here."
"H-hey! Hold on!" Kintoki ran up to him. "Hey, thanks for the help tonight; that was really golden, you know?"
"Save your breath; I came here because that third string is my responsibility," He growled. "I could give less of a shit about the city as a whole. If it goes under, then good; it fucking deserves it."
"You'd throw everyone in this city under the bus just like that?" Hippolyta approached him from behind with narrowed eyes.
Accelerator didn't care. "You're spouting that like everyone here is fucking innocent. You don't know a god damn thing; for all I know, this is all just fucking karma. Better late than never, I say."
"Be that as it may, we cannot let the people of this city fall for the sins of a few within its walls."
"Then knock yourself the fuck out."
"Then why did you come here today?"
Accelerator finally turned. "Because I'm the one who put that bastard into the grave to begin with."
Hippolyta's eyes widened briefly, but then quickly returned to her firm disposition without another word. Accelerator narrowed his own before turning on the battery attached to his neck and taking off, similarly silent.
"…I think I understand," Romani spoke. "It seems to me that Kakine Teitoku must not have been dead for long. If he's the one who killed him…"
"Yeah; him feeling responsible makes sense," Kintoki added. "Must feel like crap having to see the same person you killed keep popping back into your life like that."
However, Hippolyta was silent. Mashu approached her from behind. "Excuse me, but you seem troubled. Are you-?"
"…It's the responsibility of everyone…" The Shielder found the Rider muttering to herself. "…It's the responsibility of everyone to help when your home is threatened. From the lowest to the highest; it's the responsibility of every single person to aid. So why…?"
She turned, looking in the distance with a muddled expression. Mashu didn't see anything; she thought that perhaps what Accelerator said triggered something in her related to her own heritage. Although she wasn't focusing on the individual in question or where he went.
Mashu didn't know for sure, but she thought that Hippolyta was looking in the general direction of the Windowless Building.
"Hey, big sis," Kintoki called out. "Snap out of it; you're scaring the kids."
Hippolyta blinked a few times, turning back to look at Kintoki with a more casual look, noticing Mashu studying her. "…S-so I am!" She laughed and rubbed the back of her head, embarrassed. "Sorry about that! I was thinking of something kind of intense there for a minute."
"I'm just glad you're ok! I was worried something happened to you for a moment." Mashu smiled.
"Nope; I'm perfectly fine!" She beat her right shoulder a little with a small grin. "Just some old ways of thinking; that's all."
Touma watched the scene unfold for a moment or two. "…Must be rough being a ruler, huh?"
"Definitely; it's why I was never interested," Cú remarked. "Probably some of that 'I'm the leader' mentality bleeding through, right there."
"Old habits die hard, as they say." EMIYA nodded.
"…Can I come out now?" Othinus popped her head out from Touma's breast pocket.
"O-Othinus!?" Touma stammered. "H-hey! Are you ok!? Nothing's broken, right!?"
"I'm fine, human," The tiny magic god. "Considering who you were facing, I decided to make myself scarce… him singling you out as a primary target by association seemed like a bad idea."
Touma let out a relieved sigh. "Thank god…"
"You're thanking me for me being safe?"
"Now is not the time!"
The sound of footsteps could be heard. "Touma! Are you alright!?" Index ran up, seeing his bloodied form. She hugged him briefly, but this only caused more pain to shoot through the unlucky Kamijou's body.
"S-sensitive! My body is sensitive right now! Don't touch- OW!" He cried out again when someone touched his back.
"Thing's got pretty bloody, huh?" Medb remarked rather casually. "Surprised you can still walk at all, even with help; you sure you're human?"
"Positive! Now stop touching me! My back is bloody for a reason, you know!?"
She scoffed. "Like a little bit of blood can deter me. Sure, the injuries are fresh, but I'm no stranger to that. Don't worry; battle scars can be pretty sexy, Kamijou Touma."
"I-I get that, but they're pretty painful right now!"
"You'll get used to it."
"I'm scared of the scenario where I have gotten used to it!"
She waved him off. "It's fine, it's fine! You made it out alive, so get over here and celebrate a little with your Queen!"
"I don't see a whole lot to celebrate about when the guys we were trying to beat down got away, you know."
"Oh? Is that how you see it?" Medb sighed and tilted her head. "Honestly, what am I going to do with you?" Her hands returned to her hips. "I sure do know how to pick them, don't I? Your naiveté is almost as adorable as it is annoying sometimes."
"H-hey! So, I'm hurting all over, what's the big deal!?"
"The fact you returned alive is enough for celebration, yet all you're doing is complaining about being hurt, almost like that's more important than your own survival," Medb countered. "Failure in battle is commonplace; not every fight ends in victory while at war. Sometimes returning home alive is all you need. Death is time to mourn, and life is time to rejoice; that includes managing to survive when you shouldn't have. Even if you could not defeat your enemy, have some pride in the fact you managed to survive. I find those walking as if they were already dead revolting. So, stop whining about how much it hurts and cheer a little that you managed to survive at all, ok?"
Touma was taken aback by her sudden declaration, finding it hard to think of a response; the words felt strangely genuine.
Cú whistled. "Queen Medb spouting some actual words of wisdom? You don't see that every day!" He laughed. "Hey, Kamijou; I think you're having a positive influence on her!"
"T-that implies I was not already perfect! Don't make me come over there, Cú Chulainn!"
"Clearly there's still some work to be done, though. Pretty sure she's only going that far in an attempt to lure you into bed to help 'celebrate.' Keep doing your best, Kamijou."
"And don't ignore me!"
As the two started bickering, Hippolyta called out to her partner. "Hey, Kintoki! We're helping with clean up, alright?"
"Right-o!" The golden man stated. "Well, we might not have won the day, but we gave the big bad guys something to think about! Have a golden trip home you guys!"
With that, the Chaldea crew decided to make way back home to try to recuperate from their hard-fought battle. The moment they were out of earshot of the Anti-Skill forces though, Romani chimed in again.
"How's everyone holding up?" He asked.
"I think we're alright; just exhausted," Ritsuka answered. "What's up? Find something?"
"Well, sorry to bring up what just happened, but I managed to get some scans done on Kakine. I went the extra mile to verify it, but I kinda had the feeling that this was the case, anyway. It's related to his class."
"Well, don't keep us in suspense, doc."
"Sorry; I didn't mean to," Romani nodded. "Data from your little adventure with Da Vinci and those counterfeit heroic spirits gave us a surprisingly good lead. Obviously, each Servant's signature is unique, but certain things about their class are consistent within spirit origins…"
He tailed off for only a moment.
"…And because of that, I'm pretty sure that Kakine Teitoku is an Avenger-Class Servant."
They arrived home about a half hour later. There wasn't a single additional bit of fanfare for their arrival, just the simple acknowledgement that the trials for that particular day were over. They did manage to coerce Medb into letting them ride in her chariot to speed up their arrival, but the Queen's lack of familiarity with Academy City made itself known; for their previous adventure, she simply followed the front vehicle, but without such aid, they ended up somewhat lost, needing Romani to guide them back.
Still, it beat going around town on foot.
The door to Touma's dorm room swung open, and the group was quick to enter. Thoughts for those who identified as human turned to food, but…
"Sorry; I wouldn't mind cooking again, but I can't really do it like this." Touma stated while EMIYA was giving him first aid as needed.
"It was worth a shot…" Ritsuka asked. "Kind of figured, but well… you won't know until you ask."
"Believe me; I'd be happy to, but I'm pretty sure once I climb into bed that I won't be moving too much for a few days…"
"You got that right." Medb licked her lips, but she wasn't after food, oh no.
Touma blinked at her a few times before turning his attention to Cú. "I think I'm going to need your help again."
"Oh, come on!" Medb's look immediately soured.
"He's not even in the shape to be taken for a ride, woman!" The blue Lancer fired back.
"With all due respect, Queen Medb," Romani chimed into calm things down. "As much as such an act would… well, make him feel better, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't actually help him get better. Right now, he needs rest and time to recover."
The pink haired queen deadpanned. "Y'all are a bunch of sticks in the mud, you know that?"
"No; you're just so far down the debauchery hole that it makes everyone else look like saints by comparison." Cú countered.
"One more word out of you and I'll shove Caladbolg down your throat!"
"I'd like to see you try!"
Meanwhile, EMIYA was finishing dressing Touma's wounds. "It's hard to tell if those two are arguing like an old married couple or like a brother and sister sometimes…" The unlucky Kamijou remarked.
"Don't think too hard about it…" The red Archer remarked. "Alright; get into bed and relax. And don't argue about where you're sleeping; a bathtub with a mattress is not a good place for an injured teenager to rest; you've likely bruised several bones and that will take quite some time to heal properly."
"Alright, alright… no need to bite my head off," Touma groaned and pulled himself into his bed. "I'm probably stuck like this for a while, huh? Such misfortune…"
"Well, it's not like everyone we have is in top shape either right now," Romani stated. "Servants will need time to recharge their energy; it might be best if we hung back for a time."
"Eh; we'll be good to go by tomorrow," Cú shrugged. "Though Kamijou over here is probably going to be bedridden for a few days... but we could use the downtime for some scouting."
EMIYA stood up and dusted himself off. "It might not be necessary for him to be with us to act. As much of a boon he was against the Avenger, depending on who we target next, he might be far less useful. Maybe even a liability."
"That might be true, but even if that Kakine bastard got messed up, we don't know the Caster; he could be back up to one-hundred percent capacity by now."
Romani hummed a little. "We're actually trying to research him, but it's a Caster we don't have familiarity with. We can only really go by our observations for now. I feel like those mechanical contraptions are a tell, but they don't scream who exactly he is just yet. I have a few people going through our records for anything similar to the devices he created."
"I think Lancer's suggestion for scouting is fine, but perhaps we really should leave it at that for now," Mashu advised. "Not only could their Avenger be a problem if we were to encounter him again, but they might strike here while Kamijou-san is indisposed."
"Eh; if that blond drops by and doesn't want to play nice, I think I'll just blow him away with Caladbolg," Medb shrugged, having taken a seat at the table in the middle of the room and thumbing through a magazine she found earlier that piqued her interest. "He's not a bad looker and I kind of like his personality, but him trying to kill people I favor is a bit of a turn-off at the moment."
"…Actually, yeah! That might work!" Lancer grinned. "His wings might be pretty tough, but nothing stands up to Fergus' sword, and I'm not talking the fake one Archer shoots off! I mean, I would have preferred Fergus himself, but hey; silver medals are fine too."
"I feel like you referred to me as a 'silver medal' just to piss me off!"
"And you'd be right."
Medb began to grind her teeth but stopped when Touma called out to her. "Hey, Medb? Could you get me a glass of water?" She glanced at him for only a minute before turning her attention back to her magazine to close it.
"I suppose I don't mind; are you sure you want water and not tea?"
"It's a little late for tea."
She shrugged and then waltzed over into the kitchen. When she stepped in, however, a smirk crept up on her face. Mashu was the only one that noticed, and thus grew suspicious and followed her; fearing she might put something in the teen's requested beverage.
"You don't need to hover over my shoulder; it's just water." The pink haired queen remarked as she went searching through the teen's cupboards.
"Considering your advances earlier and your apparent mood, I feel it necessary for Kamijou-san's health," The loyal Chaldea kouhai remarked. "Why are you smirking if you don't intend to slip something?"
"Oh, Mashu, Mashu, Mashu; you fail to understand the human heart, especially the one of a man."
Medb smirked and grabbed one of the Shielder's shoulders to pull her close. "He asked me a favor, my dear. While asking things such as this can be rather insulting, him asking me specifically is notable in of itself."
"What do you mean?"
"While I would have preferred something with a little more 'oomph!' to it, he asked me because he has begun to rely on me. And he's begun to rely on me because he trusts me; trust is very, very important. As his trust grows, so does his appreciation! And then appreciation becomes attraction, a desire to have me around, and then… well, hopefully I don't need to explain what happens when a man and a woman desire each other's company late at night."
"T-that is not necessary!" Mashu flushed red.
Medb giggled a little. "It might have been a while since I went for true courtship, but I still remember all the little hints and cues," She leaned in a little closer to whisper into her ear. "I can tell them to you if you wish to share a bed with your Master. With my help, you'll have him begging for your company by the end of the week, I promise~"
"I-I'm fine! T-thank you!"
"Your loss," She shrugged. "Kamijou! Ice or no ice?" She called out to the main living space.
"No ice please!" He answered.
She walked out with the glass of water as EMIYA was finishing putting away the Kamijou household's first aid kit. He was suspicious at first, similar to Mashu, but his powers of observation lent themselves well to this and he couldn't find much out of the ordinary with the liquid.
"Hey, Archer," Ritsuka called out. "I don't mean to ask, but I think we should get something to eat before bed."
"Very well," the red Archer remarked. "Any preferences?"
"Breakfast for dinner sounds great right now."
"Omurice it is then."
Thus, that was the dish EMIYA prepared to serve. The typical preparation of Omurice is an omelet made with fried rice and thin, fried scrambled eggs, usually topped with ketchup. However, those expecting the red Archer to go purely basic would be disappointed, as he also mixed in diced chicken breast marinated on soy sauce, and similarly cut onions. Moreover, instead of just the ketchup topping, he opted with a mild homemade curry sauce for extra heat and flavor.
"Ah… the home staple…" Ritsuka practically sang. "Thank you, EMIYA-san!"
"Seriously; just call me Archer!" EMIYA argued.
Lancer just shrugged. "Isn't being close enough to be on a first-name basis a good thing in Japanese culture?"
"First; it's not my first name. Second; that's not the point!"
"Seconds please!" Index's hand shot up with an already empty plate.
"H-how did you get through it that fast!?" The red Archer was stunned. "The sauce was mild, but it should have been enough to slow you down!"
"She's effectively a human garbage disposal." Othinus remarked, having taken a seat at the middle of the table with her own smaller but not too small plate of food. She had to give points for being able to prepare a more complicated dish for someone her size.
Index's cheeks puffed up. "I am not!"
"Then last with only one serving."
"But I'll starve!"
"I rest my case." The tiny magic god went back eating her own food, leaving the nun fuming.
"Fou!" The little rascal had actually been somewhat quiet for a good portion if the adventure, only popping out of Mashu's shield on occasion. Now that they were back to a time fully resting, he was curled up in Mashu's lap eating some Omurice himself as the purple haired kouhai pet him and did the same.
"I'm glad he seems to take to human food fairly well," She remarked. "Well, now that we're settled-!"
A voice called out from Touma's patio, interrupting the conversation promptly. A quick look revealed it to be a returning Leivinia Birdway with Lessar in tow, entering from the glass door.
"…Oh! I smell food!" Lessar's eyes lit up like stars.
"Hey! Come in through the front door at least!" Touma shouted. "And take off your shoes too!" Leivinia stared at him for a moment before seemingly complying with his second order… only to chuck a removed shoe at him, nailing the unlucky Kamijou's nose.
"Piss off, would you?" The young cabal boss grumbled. "We're here with information, you jackass!"
Mashu perked up at that. "Information?"
"That's right," She remarked, taking off her other shoe and throwing it at the unlucky Kamijou too. "The thing I was mainly after were the summoning sites for all the monsters… and long story short; I found them."
"Y-you did!?" Romani stammered.
"That's right! They're in District 19, my friends!" Lesser grinned. "The deeper in you go, the thicker the monster population gets! We did a full circle around the specific area where it was the worst to confirm our little theory, so we're pretty sure it's where they're all coming from. Plus, you know… a giant hole where they're all crawling out of."
"So, a literal summoning pit…?" Mashu asked, receiving a nod.
The doctor hummed a little as he overlooked the map Chaldea had scanned. "That's pretty far north east of us. More than a tad out of our way compared to Mephistopheles and his associates"
"That's still good news!" Mashu cheered. "One of the biggest threats to the city is the Unholy Beast Core; destroying their summoning pit would put a massive dent in their offensive!"
"We did miss out on our lead on the Terrorist Core, anyway…" Ritsuka mused. "Something like that wouldn't be anywhere near as mobile, right?"
Romani nodded. "Shouldn't be, yeah. It's pretty out of the way, but once we're out there, it's likely that they won't be able to move. However, that means it'll be highly defended."
"He's right. Ideally, we'd want to do it in one attack run, but since it's the source of all the creatures currently plaguing the city, it's likely that resistance will be substantial. Not to mention we are also unaware of any enemy Servants that might be tied to it," EMIYA put a hand to his chin. "Considering their organizational capabilities, I assume that Darius is in charge, but if we use the Terrorist Core as an example, I'd find it unlikely that he's operating alone."
"This Solomon guy must be really gunning for us hard, huh…?" Touma remarked, having recovered from being beaned in the face twice. "I wonder what the whole deal is between him and what's happening with the General Superintendent …"
"It could be that King Solomon wanted to turn this place into a proper singularity for some reason," Romani thought aloud. "But when he tried to place the grail here, Aleister Crowley swiped it before it could fully influence the area and made use of it himself. Solomon might be less hesitant to send another out of fear of Aleister possibly taking the second one too, deciding on his current stratagem. Although that doesn't explain why he'd cause the timelines to clash like this."
"It seems to me that these two are playing a game of chess that you mortals can't comprehend," Othinus remarked. "Honestly, it seems more like a pissing match to me, but that's from the perspective of a Magic God. For all I know all of this could have started over a rude comment about Solomon's mother that spiraled out of control."
"Don't downplay key figures of history, please…" Romani groaned. "I'm still getting over Odin looking like an exhibitionist teenager and being shrunken to the size of an action figure…"
"What's wrong with my outfit?" Othinus deadpanned at the hologram of the doctor.
"…As a man, I feel like I must respond with saying everything is fine and I have no complaints period. However, as a doctor, I feel like I must ask how you avoid catching a cold with so much exposed skin!"
"I wash. You'd be surprised how much you can save on your water bill with such a small stature."
Touma frowned. "I'm the one who pays for the water, Othinus."
"And I'd like to say the ease of my care aids in keeping costs low, human."
"Anyway, to get back on topic," Romani spoke up again. "I think we have our next course of action. Destroying the Unholy Beast Core will put a stop to the monster flow into the city and might even cause the various monster races to turn on one another, giving Academy City the chance to push outward and reclaim lost ground. Having more of a military presence throughout most of the city instead of just one district is bound to restrict the movement of the Demon Terrorist Core; even if those three could deal with Anti-Skill just fine, the information network they hold could be invaluable when it comes to tracking them."
"We'll still have the Divine Hacking Core to deal with, but we must take things one step at a time, I suppose. Taking out even one of these forces is going to help us significantly." Mashu nodded in agreement.
Touma sighed. "Too bad I'm stuck in bed for a few days…"
"Doesn't mean there's not much we can do though," Ritsuka stated. "Lancer suggested scouting, after all! We can probably head out during the day and scout the area; finding those ley line spots would probably be a big help while we wait for Kamijou-san to recover."
"We can also properly map out the area, as our current diagrams are dependent on roadways being open. I'd assume as it's the origin point for the invasion that much of its infrastructure has been destroyed." EMIYA added.
"Too bad that right arm of yours stops healing spells, huh?" Cú turned to the spiky haired teen before putting a hand to his chin. "Seems like that arm is more trouble than it's worth. Too bad Shishou's not around; we could probably carve it off and make it into a weapon or something. Hell, knowing her, she might have a replacement for it after everything's said and done."
"N-no! Not a chance!" Touma fired back, scooting so his back was against the wall. "Bad things happen when people cut off my arm, so no!"
"Ah? It's happened before? No scars and it reattached just fine, too?"
Othinus spoke up with the answer. "It regenerates. Whether the arm is cut off or simply obliterated, it will return. Imagine Breaker seems to find significance in being his right hand and will go out of its way to be such."
"So, he can do that? I was kinda just messing around," The blue Lancer grinned. "Alright! Cutting it off it is! Master, prepare a healing spell!"
"I said no! Think about all the blood at least; it's my dorm room, damn it!" Touma argued.
"No worries; Archer will clean it up, won't you?" Cú grinned at EMIYA.
"Don't go volunteering me to clean up your bullshit messes!" The red Archer fired back.
"What? The little god says it comes back! And if it's happened before, he's clearly tough enough to survive it!"
Touma vigorously shook his head. "I said no!"
"Fine, fine; we'll do it out in the street so it doesn't ruin anything. Come on!"
"That's only part of the issue! I'm not into the idea of sharp things cutting me in half!"
Cú shrugged. "There are worse ways to die, you know?" He then jabbed his thumb at the pink haired queen. "She died in her spring when someone threw a block of cheese at her and knocked her out, causing her to drown."
"Ok, that's it!" Medb shot right up with an outstretched hand. "Fergus My Love!"
"Not in my dorm rooooooooooommmmmmm!" Touma bellowed in vain.
Despite the setback, Chaldea and company had already identified their next target; one significantly less mobile. With their next course of action in hand, after a few days of rest, they'd be ready to take the fight to the forces of the King of Mages once more.
However, the real test to their goals in Academy City was waiting in the darkness of the summoning pit.
And welcome to the bottom, my friends!
So, while their targets weren't defeated, they were sent running. Although what they were after was unknown, a small victory in the grand scheme can make a big difference. Just need to make use of that momentum, right?
And of course, Kakine's Class has been revealed. An Avenger; an entity called forth to take one's vengeance upon those who had wronged them, be they individuals, a group of people, or even just a concept. And there are more than a few people who have wronged Kakine Teitoku before, isn't there...?
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.