Chapter Nine, huh...? Believe it or not, we're approaching the half-way point of this series.
Hard to believe, eh?
Review time! Review time! Let's respond to some reviews!
tsun: No worries, it's just what it sounded like. My overall goal here is to give Chaldea a little bit of a taste of this world, including a rather expansive cast that it has under it's belt. There are several where it'd be strange if they weren't around, I suppose. Though I would make the argument that just because they aren't throwing punches at enemies doesn't mean they aren't worth having around. Even if it doesn't seem like they're doing much, they have their role to play in the grand scheme.
Felipe1402XZA: There is a time and a place for everything. Be patient, my friend.
Ultimate Warrior of Zera: Likely because he doesn't fully understand it himself, or that he thinks it wouldn't be exactly relevant to their current situation. He can't exactly control them when they pop out, you know?
craytherlay: It's mostly overplayed as humor; they weren't seriously considering it. Lancer can make jokes, you know! Figured the jab at Medb's expense would tip people off about it.
freddy lane 1: I dare not say just yet, but know that the Magic Side is watching. They're just dealing with their own little branch of this problem right now.
Mr. X: 1) Maybe a little. 2) While likely not here, she is open to cosplay. I mean, she already has a sexy Prison Warden outfit, you know! 3) Probably not in this story. 4) You'll see.
MrQuestionMark: Avenger Kakine was one of the core ideas running around here, though exactly what he's an Avenger against can take a little bit of understanding to get. Academy City is certainly a Target-Rich environment for what he's after, though. Accelerator definitely applies some gravity, I feel; he's involved because he feels like he ahs to be. As long as he could get the Sisters and those he cares about out, he wouldn't care about the city itself. Then having some semi-real consequences felt good to put on Touma; he's a relatively normal person fighting with Super Humans, so him being messed up was inevitable. But yes; we're onto another target today!
BlueCore: Well, here's more for you to enjoy!
D N Works: There is a definite Dark-side here, huh? The gravity of the situation, and those who genuinely wish to help and those who simply don't care can be a rough in-between. Both sides have their just arguments though, so it's not like either one is wrong.
Anime-ted Life116: You pretty much hit the nail on the head for why Kakine is an Avenger and why he's doing what he's doing. He's not just after Accelerator for killing him; he wants to take down the whole system that lead to that in the first place. White Beetle would definitely be an Alter-Ego, as he's definitely a different existence from Kakine, but also deeply rooted in the Dark Matter himself. No Caster Scathach though; she's a character from Lost Belt 2, and thus won't be appearing here.
Mrcrazyman94: Still, You're one of the few who figured it out, so congratulations. There was a little bit of a debate from Kakine, but the problem was that Acceelrator didn't give two shits and just wanted him gone; he isn't playing around with Dark Matter anymore after what happened. Yeah, the last bit was just for humor; I wouldn't release the Zoo at a time like this!
MythAnime: Last Order and Worst are at home in relative safety from the horrors of the situation; no real reason for either of them to get involved.
Maxim7: If Medb is a Thot Queen, then Kiara is a Thot Goddess... and yes, she and Cu likely wouldn't get along either. Accelerator is looking into things for sure, but where his road has lead him is up in the air... for now.
Airchampion: The key to using the invincible-ness that is Accelerator in a story is knowing where to drop him and how. Otherwise he'd just rip the whole plot asunder!
Guest (1): I don't think Touma would be strong enough to beat BB, but I can definitely see them stalemating one another for sure.
Kamijou Touma1: Jobbing is holding back due to a sense of superiority, thus feeling like he doesn't have to "try." And he does Job an awful lot when he could just go for the kill.
Guest (2): I'm unsure about Kakine's wings, but you'll definitely see IT eventually.
Dog: Good boy!
Guest (3): Bit of a hard call, but Imagine Breaker would definitely interfere with them to some extent, but the vessels themselves would likely be fine; it's the ones influencing them that'd run into some issues with him.
cbustroyer: I'm not answering this one; you're just going to have to wait and find out! For your second question, I'd say each version of Shirou is likely the most heroic in their own ways. Touma is a genuinely good person, but he gets sucked into these events by pure chance and often times does what he does out of his good nature but also a desire to resolve the situation so he can head home. As he always says, "He is not a hero."
Mon: I've been told that my strong point is my character interactions, so it's good to know that it's working out! Thanks for reading!
Markoz89: There will be some more characters from the Magic Side involved. All in due time, my friend!
AkumaESPer: Yes, that is the basic concept of Kakine's ability. I'm not going to say how, but man; you are really good at figuring things out! Kakine's first and second ascensions would be his white form and his normal appearance, respectively, but his third has something else added on that would be a spoiler to reveal just yet. Though, I would say that Dark Matter not being his only Noble Phantasm is a fairly accurate assumption, though I won't say what it is; you're just going to have to figure that out yourself! I really do like your theory-crafting when it comes to what's coming next; makes me feel like I'm providing a good mystery for you to solve! Keep up the good work; I'm rooting for you!
Guest (4): Honestly, virtually all the Casters, as he is a direct counter to them. I feel like the other classes would have a way to deal with him, but Casters are in the worst spot.
And with that done... enjoy!
"Holy…" Touma muttered. "You weren't kidding about this place being wrecked…!"
District 19 was effectively in ruins. Most of the roadways and buildings were heavily damaged by its new inhabitants, if not outright demolished. The only structures still modestly intact were the skyscrapers, but even they had been struck by flying wyverns and the occasional dragon. As they entered the area, they could even see one of them using the top of one as a nest of sorts. Thankfully, it was sleeping, but its children were active and flying around their mother like pests.
Most of the roadways were torn and ripped asunder, and not to mention littered with destroyed cars and the like. They could still function as guides, but any form of vehicle-based travel was out of the question in most instances. Moreover, it appeared that monsters were active even during the day here, although still much less so than at night. They seemed to be attracted to releases of mana, therefore even trying Medb's chariot for transport was risky, forcing them to go on foot.
It had been a few days, and during that time EMIYA and Cú Chulainn had scouted the area between district 7 and 19, and even part of 19 itself. The hard part was when they arrived in their target area; the monster population was vast, and even after clearing out a spot, it was filled right back up the very next day. Thankfully, there were still plenty of high-rise structures to use as vantage points, which let them map out most of the area.
They were able to spot their target; close to the far wall that surrounded Academy City, a massive hole in the earth could be clearly seen, especially at night when it glowed a bright red. Unfortunately, it was so infested that there'd be no way for the two Servants to clear it themselves; they'd need an incredibly powerful Servant and an anti-army Noble Phantasm just to put a dent into it. Medb had the latter with Caladbolg, as did EMIYA, but they lacked the former; Cú Chulainn was their best warrior, and one worthy of such a title, but he was far from capable of taking on an entire army of beasts and titans alone, especially with the possibility of additional Servants residing in their enemy's ranks.
They opted to not ask Kintoki or Hippolyta for help, as they were integral to Anti-Skill's defenses and would likely be unable to leave for long, while the campaign looked as though it'd take several days, if not more. It didn't matter if they took down the Unholy Beast Core if they managed to overrun district 7 while they were away.
Regardless, for them to move forward, the summoning pit had to be destroyed. Therefore, Chaldea made their way once Kamijou Touma was ready and able. Leivinia Birdway and Lessar had vanished once again, opting for more research and reconnaissance of the other factions while they waited for the cabal boss' subordinate to report back to them with an update on the magic side in the United Kingdom.
"Touma…" Index followed close behind. "This entire area is giving me a really bad vibe…"
"Well, that's to be expected with an area devoted to ripping creatures from cross our history just to use as war fodder…" Romani stated.
"Doctor," Mashu addressed. "Are you sure allowing Index with us is wise?"
"Oh, it should be," Da Vinci, taking a short break from her work, was also on the line. "Her Spell Intercept was quite effective against Mephistopheles. Since these creatures are being controlled, her ability to intercept given commands could be incredibly useful, especially if anything we find here are akin to golems. Those have no mind of their own in most instances, and thus would be prime targets for her to take over and command; not to mention readily available."
"I'm reading more than a few hostile signatures around the area," Romani stated. "Thankfully, it looks like they're not paying much attention to you. As long as you don't kick over a hornet's nest, we should be able to slip in undetected."
Touma jumped over a small gap in the road, helping Index across afterward. "I have a question; do we even have a strategy to take down the pit?"
"We do; we won't be heading straight there," Romani replied. "We're going to be tracking down a ley line close to it and setting up a position there. Then we'll be sending you some backup."
"That's right!" Da Vinci chimed in. "We have a Caster and a Berserker lined up and ready to send. We have things prepared to send one, but if this takes long enough, we could shoot for sending them both. The long part will be properly establishing a connection; it will be just like before."
"Let's hope things go that route; we're going to need all the help we can get," Ritsuka stated as they moved. "I'm seeing a lot of gaps into the sewer around here."
"From what I could observe, the entire city's sewer system is connected," EMIYA remarked. "However, the junctions between areas are small; nothing larger than a Chimera could make it through, and even then, that's pushing it. It'd likely used for smaller troop movements."
Cú tapped his spear against the opening that led down into the aforementioned sewer. "Plus, after tracing these lines for a bit, we found that they lead up to more security checkpoints. They have the whole area under lock and key. It's just that the forces from the previous night just kept throwing bodies at the checkpoint until they broke it. They might be tapping into the ley lines for power too; it'd explain them having a nearly unlimited army."
Medb was following up the rear, doing her best to stay standing amidst the broken concrete. "…I am not the kind of girl designed to travel on foot."
Cú deadpanned. "Then use spirit form."
"Where's the fun in that?"
"Then quit your bitching!"
"I was just commenting, sheesh!" Medb looked annoyed. "If only I had a place I could hole up in for a week or so; I could rise up my own army and take them on directly…"
"But you were doing that, weren't you?" Touma raised an eyebrow at her.
"Well duh; but since we're going full stealth, I left them at home. Besides, guarding the fortress is a soldier's job, after all!"
"Why are you referring to my dormitory as a fortress?"
"Eh; it's large enough to act like one," Medb shrugged. "I have a full stock today anyway, so let me know if you need bodies, ok?"
"We might; we're severely outnumbered here," EMIYA remarked. "Wyverns appear to be especially active during the day, so we should keep to the ground to avoid their attention."
Romani checked his scanners for a moment. "There is actually a flock flying overhead, so stay out of sight. Some might be hiding out in the buildings; be careful."
"Don't want to get picked up and carried to a nest like a bird." Othinus remarked.
"Like what happened to you with that hawk?" Touma blinked.
"I-I told you to never mention that again!" The tiny magic god flushed red with embarrassment.
They came across what used to be a four-way intersection. It looked like some of the vehicles had been gathered in the middle to act as a fortification at one point, but it had long been abandoned. Dishearteningly, splashes of red blood could be seen all around the area; it was impossible to tell if they belonged to the creatures they were tasked with eliminating or the former men and women who once called this area home.
"Ok, where to now?" Ritsuka asked.
"Let's see…" Romani tailed off. "It'll be a bit of a ways off, but head due north; the best possible area to set up shop should be around there."
The Chaldea master nodded. "Understood," He then looked up to see the wyverns still flying overhead. "We're going to have to head out into the light; be careful not to get spotted."
Ritsuka went first, having Mashu and EMIYA walk with him as guards. Touma sent Index along with them; the idea was that even if he was attacked, his right hand could deal with whatever was sent along their way. Cú and Medb simply reverted to spirit form and crossed without issue, leaving Touma to be the last one.
Touma went along quickly but quietly. There was a roar as several wyverns dove just above them, flying uncomfortably close to the ground and causing the unlucky Kamijou to freeze in place. EMIYA prepared an arrow in case they attacked, but the beasts appeared uninterested in them. When the flock had passed, Touma briskly made his way over.
He had put just one foot onto the sidewalk across the street when a straggler suddenly swooped in and grabbed the boy by his shoulders, quickly taking to the sky.
Touma screamed as loud as he could, all notions of stealth gone. "H-hey! Put me down you bastard!"
"Who's got caught by a bird now, huh!? Human!?" Othinus hung on to his jacket for dear life.
"Is now really the time to hold the grudge!?"
EMIYA took aim down below but clicked his tongue. "Damn it; it went too high too fast. If I shot it down now, Kamijou wouldn't survive the fall."
"I'll tail 'em," Cú remarked. "You just keep an eye on the bugger; if it tries to rejoin its friends, shoot it down and I'll catch him!"
The blue Lancer took off after a nod from the red Archer. Meanwhile, Touma continued to soar higher and higher; he came to the same conclusion as Archer in that destroying the wyvern would be a fast way to die. He looked down, seeing Cú follow him from the ground. It'd be a bit before he'd be safe to be caught, but the wyvern looked to rejoin the rest of its flock. It was a race to grab the unlucky Kamijou before the baby dragons had their way with the boy.
But Chaldea wasn't the only group watching the events unfold. A loud bang ripped through the air as a bullet tore through the wyvern's head, killing it in a single shot. Then, as expected, Touma and Othinus began to tumble straight toward the ground now that their source of aviation had suddenly expired.
"Catch me, catch me, catch me, catch me, catch me, catch me! Please catch meeeeeee!" All Touma could do was scream as he fell to his death.
Lancer was out of range for a clean catch, but he did have his spear. He spun it around and hurled it as hard as he could, just barely catching the spiky haired teen's jacket, the force of the throw carrying him into against one of the buildings. He was still fairly high up, but at least he didn't splatter against the ground.
"… I don't like wyverns…" Touma remarked as he hung there.
"And I don't like hawks. Welcome to my world, human." Othinus had taken refuge in the hood of his jacket.
Cú jumped up from the ground, grabbing and hanging onto his spear for leverage. "Sorry about your clothes; you alright?"
"P-perfectly fine!" Touma laughed nervously.
"Well, it sure sounds like it was good my aim wasn't off then!" He grinned, making the spiky haired teen nervous about what his fate could have been. "Let's get you down so everyone else can stop losing their shit." He grabbed Touma around his waist and pulled out his spear, letting them both drop to the ground.
"Hey! You ok Kamijou-san!?' Ritsuka and company came running up.
Touma nodded. "It's not my first rodeo with death drops from high in the sky… but they're still not fun," He shook his head as he was set down. "Any idea where that gunshot came from?"
"Can't say, unfortunately. But to pack that much power in a single round…" EMIYA pondered. "It was likely a sniper rifle of some description. Must be excessively powerful to tear through a wyvern's scales like butter, though."
"My assumption is that it'd be Academy City's own ordinance then," Romani remarked. "But all the way out here? This is extremely far outside their control range."
"Indeed; it looks like someone might have swiped something that wasn't theirs in a rush for self-defense. I can only assume they shot to try and save Kamijou, though."
They looked around; there were a few buildings still in good enough shape to use as a sniper's perch. However, one of them a far distance away was particularly swarming with wyverns, as they would be if attracted to the sound that such a rifle could have generated. The lack of a follow up attack but the flying monster's still hovering around it likely meant that the sniper had managed to survive and ran.
"…I don't know about you, but I'd like to return the favor." Touma stated.
"Considering this means there are survivors here, I think that would be in our best interest," Mashu nodded. "Let's go while they're still alive!"
The group then took off with the Servants opting to carry the humans of their group for faster travel. Mashu did double duty in carrying both Ritsuka and Index so that EMIYA and Cú could be hands-free for combat. This left Touma on his own but was surprised when Queen Medb grabbed him by his collar and heaved him over her shoulder.
"H-hey!" The teen was confused. "T-this does not seem right!"
"E-Rank strength still provides me with physical capabilities far above your average human," She commented. "I would like you to remember this, for this means I have not forcefully bedded you out of mercy."
Cú popped in next to them. "She's saying she could have dragged you to bed whenever she wanted, but it's meaningless unless you actually consented to it."
"N-no! It's out of mercy! Mercy, I say!" Medb turned red with frustration; she was quickly reaching her limit when it came to Cú's teasing.
Now situated, the group moved out to save Touma's unexpected savior. They had to watch their footing as there were a few structures with crumbled rooftops along the path; some of which led right into the dens of other creatures. One thing that was quickly becoming apparent was the size of the wyvern flock around the building; there was a good forty or fifty of them flying around it with several taking swings at the structure itself to break inside. They'd be able force their way through with time.
"I'm seeing quite a few monsters on the ground, too," Romani chimed in. "Guess it was a loud gunshot… this is what I meant by shaking the hornet's nest."
Ritsuka looked around, seeing movement in some of the monster dens below them. "Well, it doesn't matter if a few of them got a little cranky when they woke up early; whoever is inside there needs help."
"I know; I'm not saying to abandon whoever it is or anything. If you take them out, try not to make too much noise. We don't want to wake up half the district, do we?"
They reached a moderately stable structure across the street from the building under siege. It looked like it might have been a military complex at one point. Monsters were all around the building, but the bulk of them were gathering around a garage south end, occupying most of the parking lot around it. The force consisted mostly of beastmen, but a few soul eaters were in the mix as well; a large white one standing out like sore thumb as it forced its lower-ranked brethren aside so it may approach personally.
"The guys on the ground look a lot scarier than those up above; that's for sure." Cú remarked. "Master; got any ideas?"
"Well, they might be more of a problem, but being picked off from the air would be even worse," Ritsuka answered. "Archer; if we head down, think you can keep the wyverns off our backs?"
EMIYA nodded. "I'll take them down and try to lay covering fire for you once the sky is clear."
"Hmm… so that's how it is…" Medb overlooked the scene, still with Touma over her shoulder. "Well, I can sneak down to the ground level and spawn my army to flank them if you can draw their attention. I can garrison this building up real nice if given the time."
"Oh! That's a good idea; snipe them from the windows while the foot soldiers bar the entrance! I like it!" Romani cheered. "Man, it feels nice having a Queen who knows a thing or two about warfare on our side for once! Usually we're stuck with fighting them!"
"Of course; I didn't just throw bodies at my enemies on an infinite loop. Adapting to the changing situation is how one wins in war and politics, and I am a master at both!" Medb bragged.
"Can you put me down now?" Touma deadpanned.
"I don't know; I kind of like having a strapping young man at my mercy over my shoulder."
Cú shook his head. "If Archer is going to keep the giant swallows off our backs, then we need bodies to keep our friend inside safe. I think he's proven that he can handle himself on the front line well enough."
"I'll help too!" Index added. "If they truly are being controlled, I should be able to intercept their given commands!"
Medb rolled her eyes. "Oh, very well," She then set Touma down. "It's not like this will be the last time I have my hands all over him; I can let him escape just this once."
"I'll stay up here with Archer and oversee things." Ritsuka stated. "Mashu; Lancer can make a landing zone pretty easy, so take Index and Kamijou down with you, and fight to that door they're trying to break into."
"Understood." The Shielder nodded.
Unfortunately, the white soul eater wasn't interested in waiting as it suddenly ran ahead and lunged at the garage door and ripped it open. The other monsters stood back, staying out of their apparent leader's way as it marched inside. Shortly after, though, the white soul eater came flying right back out, soaring through the air and crashing into its allies.
From within, a metallic hand gripped the side of the garage door and pulled it open wide before fully stepping out. It was about three meters in height, with the operator seemingly wearing the unit on their back, while the user was locked in place with a metal brace. It was yellow in color, looking more like construction equipment with its unarmored joints, but the most impressive thing were its massive, thick arms; easily long enough to touch the ground.
This was a device known as a Power Lifter, but what Touma was concerned with was its pilot.
"H-Hamazura!?" Touma ran to the edge of the building to get a better look.
Indeed, the delinquent blond known as Hamazura Shiage was inside the Power Lifter and appeared to be the one who tossed the white soul eater like a rag doll.
"Come on, you bastards! I have a smokin' hot girlfriend waiting for me after all this shit is done, so I'm just getting warmed up! Give me your best shot, damn iiiiittttt!" He roared at them. The monsters climbed to their feet, and the white soul eater backed up as its weaker black variety moved up to act as a shield for the more numerous beastmen. The roar of the previously used rifle hit one of the black monsters square in the head, the shot being powerful enough to rip through its body and even strike a few of the beastmen behind it. The shot resonated from inside the building; Hamazura wasn't alone.
Now with the knowledge that their prey had means to actually fight them, the monster horde began to pressure the chokepoint. Even with the Power Lifer and their high-caliber sniper rifle, the two would be overrun in minutes.
"Alright, no more standing around gawking; Lancer!" Ritsuka turned from the scene.
"Got it; let's get the party started!" Lancer spun his spear around and jumped into the fray. After a short delay, Mashu nodded at Index and Touma as a signal to grab ahold of her before she did the same. With his front-fighters in play, Ritsuka turned his attention to EMIYA.
"Well, if everyone else is getting into it… guess it's time to do my part." The red Archer commented lazily before forming a bow in one hand and Hrunting in the other. He had a job to do.
Down below, two soul eaters had managed to get up close and personal with Hamazura and his Power Lifter. One lunged, but the blond managed to side-step the attack and grab its tail before spinning and throwing it right into the second just as it was going to attack. Unfortunately, a third used its tumbling brethren as a foothold to leap high into the air and pounce on him, forcing him and the machine he wore on to their backs.
The soul eater repeatedly bit at the air around the blond, but something swiftly came in and kicked the beast off him.
"Hey; you alright!? No missing pieces, right!?" Cú twirled his spear, aiming it toward the enemy.
"Y-yeah!" The blond was quick to get his machine onto its feet. "Holy shit though; did you just punt that fucker?
"Don't got too much time to explain, don't you think?"
Hamazura nodded, looking on at his support. He quickly took notice of Mashu making quick work of the beastmen with her massive shield, blocking and attacking as though they were ants by comparison. They sure as shit tried, but the Shielder proved to be too much for them, even if her only weapon was but an oversized shield that looked as though it could laugh at artillery fire.
Then he saw someone else in the group.
"Made it all the way over here, already, huh boss!?" Hamazura gawked at the unlucky Kamijou, seeing him dodge a werewolf's sword swing, only for the beast to be decked by his right fist and banished by Imagine Breaker.
"H-hey!" Touma greeted, narrowly dodging another attack and retaliating in kind. "Long time no see! How's your winter going?"
"Fantastic! Take a guess who came all this way to wish me a merry-fucking-Christmas!" The blond remarked as a second batch of soul eaters made their approach. Suddenly one of them turned on the other, causing confusion amongst their ranks and giving Hamazura the opportunity to manhandle one of them to grab it by its leg and swing it around like a club. One had decided to break from the pack to try and flank him, only to receive a sniper round to the cranium for its efforts. "Talk about a close call… keep up the good work, Hanzou!"
"Just keep focused on making sure none of those bastards can make it in here!" One Hattori Hanzou was in the back, using a large rifle from a quickly made barricade. The rifle was a Metal Eater M5, a heavily modified variant of the Barret M82A1 line of sniper rifles produced by the city. A fully automatic anti-tank rifle: there was little mystery as to why it could cut through the beastmen, wyverns and even the soul eaters like paper.
Once more, soul eaters began to push out, led by the white one that had broken into the building to begin with. However, their leader suddenly turned on its brethren, pouncing on them with apparent fervor.
"Touma, Touma!" Index grinned. "It worked! Da Vinci was right about Spell Intercept being usable on them!"
The unlucky Kamijou blinked. "So, you're the one making them do that?"
"That's our Da Vinci for you; if she has the idea about something, it's usually right," Mashu nodded with a smile. "It confirms our theory about them all being directly controlled at the very least."
"Got a question then," Cú asked, having ripped his spear from one of the beastmen. "Think you can use it on all of them?"
Index looked around; the army was vast, and actively reinforcing itself from the surrounding buildings. "T-that might be a bit of a tall order…!"
"Then I think we need to turn this into an extraction operation; I don't see us pulling a war of attrition here and living to tell the tale."
With little announcement, arrows and magic blasts began to fly from the building across the street, adding an extra bit of disruption to the ongoing battle. It sure looked like Medb got her opportunity to set up.
"…I got an idea!" Mashu called out. "We may be able to use Medb's army as a distraction and sneak out since they're starting to attract attention from their position!"
"Need an escape route for that to work!" Cú replied.
"So, we're cutting and running?" Hamazura asked. "Hey! Hanzou! We got enough breathing room! Cut and run, man! Cut and run!"
"Alright!" The ninja picked up his rifle and ran out. "This way! Just don't let any of the bastards follow you!"
"Looks like they have one!" Mashu stated. "Lancer, can you inform Master, Archer, and Medb that we're pulling out?"
"…Do I have to tell Medb?" Cú deadpanned.
"Regardless of our feelings on her, she is the one giving us this opportunity."
The lancer clicked his tongue. "Yeah, yeah, good point. I'll fetch the lot; you stay with them so we can find you later, alright?"
The group split from there, using Medb's Celtic soldiers to draw the attention away from their escape. While Ritsuka and company would be delayed, Touma, Index, and Mashu stuck with Hamazura and Hattori Hanzou. They ducked through a few congested alleyways, populated due to the ruckus, but they didn't last long with the Shielder on hand. Eventually, they came across an entrance into the sewers up north, concerning due to the idea that monsters could lurk down there as well, but the two teens insisted on it. It's entrance was barred by a heavy and metallic hatch, needing a special key to get into from a slot on its side, and it was even large enough for the Power Lifter to traverse, which it did with surprising grace.
Once down below, they found it rather empty in comparison to their expectations. Not only that, power was on, allowing illumination of the dark underground. Once they were down, Hanzou sealed the thick, metal hatch and dropped to ground level.
"Alright; we should be good," The ninja remarked. "We sealed off this sewer system ages ago with some borrowed explosives; this network is completely cut off from the others, so it should be safe."
"You seem rather… resourceful." Mashu blinked.
"We're Skill-Out, baby; gotta be smart to put up with all this town's bullshit, you know?"
"Skill-Out? I've only heard of Anti-Skill."
"Haven't heard of us? Bullshit: don't go handing us blank statements as if you were just a tourist." Hanzou fired back, feeling offended that the group he's been nurturing seemingly ignored.
"Don't give her the third degree, man," Hamazura stated. "She and that blue-tights dude are probably like Robin and Hector. Plus, they seem pretty chill to me."
"Robin and Hector?" Mashu asked. "Could you by chance mean…?"
"Yeah; think they called themselves spirits or something, I think?" Hamazura shrugged. "Guessing you know them then?"
"Well… yes and no," She shook her head. "It'd take some explaining, I suppose…"
Hanzou crossed his arms before just shrugging it off. "…Well, an explanation is an explanation, I guess. You pulled our ass out of the fire, so you're probably not that bad. Speaking of which," He turned to the unlucky Kamijou. "You're the doofus who got caught by that green scaly bastard, weren't you?"
"Ha-ha; like I was intending to become dragon food," Touma groaned. "I almost made it across the street, too… such misfortune."
"Well, it all worked out in the end," Hamazura grinned. "Sucks we lost that post, but we made it out of there alive! And found some backup!"
Hanzou grunted. "I guess more hands is a good thing, but that was our best sniping post. I'm still going to give you shit for it; you had no idea that this guy had fire power behind him when you told me to shoot that fucker down, asshole."
"Eh; I just know him man. He's good people with good connections; I figured someone was with him if he found himself all the way out here."
"You had us risk our lives over a fucking hunch!? Get out of that machine so I can punch you, bastard!"
"Not a chance in hell! It worked out, so drop it!"
Index's eyes darted back and forth between those who spoke up. "…Touma?"
"Yeah?" The spiky haired teen answered.
"Of course, you are…" He groaned. "So, these tunnels only you guys have access to?"
The duo stopped arguing when Touma asked his question. "Pretty much," Hanzou nodded. "Took out entire streets to make sure they're so thick that these dumbasses can't get through. Got security cameras set up just in case, but so far, nothing has even attempted to break through in the tunnels themselves."
"So, you used these quartered-off sewers as a way to maneuver undetected under the monsters? That's really smart!" Mashu complimented the two on their ingenuity.
"We had set-ups like this all across town way back when," Hanzou crossed his arms. "Well, without the whole bombed pathways and all, but you know what I mean. This is the norm for us with some added explosives to spice up our lives a little."
"Also! I found this bad boy in a supply run yesterday!" Hamazura patted his Power Lifer. "She's been serving me really well; charges via a wall outlet and everything!"
Touma gave it a once over. "Haven't seen something like this since you used one to kick my ass in the Dianoid…"
"I don't wish to interrupt, but I feel like it'd be best if we moved," Mashu stated. "…And I just realized that Master probably doesn't know how to get down here…"
"Master? We talking some BDSM-shit in the apocalypse?" Hanzou raised an eyebrow. "Hamazura; you have some really weird-ass friends."
"I mean, hey; I'm friends with you, so that makes sense." The blond deadpanned.
"Say's the fucker who gets a nosebleed just at the idea of a girl in a bunny suit!"
The group began to move with Hanzou and Hamazura in the lead. Mashu was still concerned about Ritsuka and company, but for now all they could do was move forward and hope they found them later. Mashu still felt mana flowing into her, so she knew he was still alive at the very least.
As they moved, she began to sense other Servants. Two to be exact, and they were up above and still a fair distance away. They were just on the fringe of her detection radius, but they appeared stationary. Before long, they were almost right above them, and that's where the caravan came to a stop.
"Alright, up here," Hamazura pointed. "We got a big place commandeered topside. That's where we're calling home."
After climbing out, the group bore witness to a wide office building. It looked as though it was much taller once, as half of the structure had collapsed onto its right side, crushing another building under its weight, but the rest of the building looked stable enough by comparison. Two teens were stationed at the bottom floor windows, acting as lookouts. They aimed their firearms at the group, but backed off when they saw Hanzou and Hamazura.
"Thought you were on a lookout job, not a rescue operation." One of them asked as the group stepped inside.
"We were; things got hairy and we lost the post," Hanzou replied. "They're moving closer to us; I think they're onto where we're holding up."
"Shit…" The other teen commented. "That was our last good one… was it completely overrun?"
"Afraid so. I think we're going to have to look into moving sometime soon," Hamazura nodded. "Hey; are Hector and Robin around?"
The first boy nodded. "Second floor, handling reports I think."
They began walking through the halls of the building, meeting the gazes of survivors. It wasn't exactly packed, but not devoid of life either; there were quite a few people holding out behind the office walls. Most were women and children, but a few men and even a few espers by the look of things. Touma spotted a girl sporting a torn Tokiwadai uniform, likely caught up in things when it first started before becoming trapped. She was using her ability to generate water for several people, and did so with a smile.
"…Us Skill-Out boys used to be pretty much against espers in their entirety…" Hanzou commented. "But now we're relying on one for water. Talk about a change in perspective."
"I assume Skill-Out is an organization poised against the esper population, correct?" Mashu asked.
The ninja rubbed the back of his head. "Calling us an organization makes us sound a lot more civilized than we actually are," He shrugged. "We're more like a gang of level 0's banding together. Some branches do go out of their way to attack higher ranked espers, but we really only do that if we catch wind of someone using their powers to mess with other level 0's; that's when we get involved."
"So, you watch each other's backs in a world with superpowers?"
"Pretty much; sure, we can't do much about the level 5's, but honestly, they aren't the problem. It's the shit-heads that think since they got abilities that they can do whatever they want that we deal with."
"But since we got creepers all over the place now, we can't exactly be beggars or choosers when it comes to who we ally with," Hamazura dismounted his Power Lifter, placing it against a wall. "Think this whole situation has made for a good equalizer for everyone; it's a lot easier to not act high and mighty about your level when you're just as likely to become mulch as everyone else."
Touma looked around as the resumed making their way for the stairs. "Hey Hamazura; where's your girlfriend? Or those other girls you're usually with."
"Takitsubo skipped town super early with the others," The blond scratched his head. "Honestly, I was set to join them, but then I caught wind of Hanzou being up here where all the chaos was starting. Wasn't until I already got up here and made sure he and the rest of Skill-Out was ok that I learned that they stopped shuttling people out. I don't think my girlfriend is going to be happy with me being unable to even call her…"
"I don't envy you…" The unlucky Kamijou shook his head before looking around again. There was something unnerving about what he saw all around him. "…Is this all? Everyone who survived in the entire district…?"
Hamazura shrugged, not looking too happy about it himself. "Everyone we could find, and trust me; we tried. There just isn't that many people left out there for us to save, let alone if we had the ability…"
"That's…" Touma trailed off, looking dejected as they walked. The reality of the situation was hitting him hard; he had been relatively safe back in his home district while everyone else was suffering and dying…
…All because of a dispute between the King of Magic and the Most Powerful Magician in History.
"Alright, up we go," Hanzou started climbing a mostly intact staircase. "If they're handling reports, I think I know where they're at."
As they went up, Mashu felt the two servants growing closer to them. It was likely they could feel her out in return, so they knew another heroic spirit was coming. Still, she couldn't sense her Master or the others; not even on the fringe of her detection radius. It appeared she'd have to act as Chaldea's representative alone this time.
Once up the stairs, they walked down the hall and opened the third door on their right, leading to a small meeting room.
Inside, one man was sitting at the table while the other leaned against the wall. The former's dull eyes looked up briefly, seeing someone new enter the room as he supported his head with a gloved left hand and held paper with heavily armored right, with a gold and black spear with an abnormally large blade leaning against the wall behind him. The latter dressed in all green, appeared lean in build with messy orange hair covering part of his green eyes. The most notable part about him was the crossbow on his right arm.
"…Well! What do we have here?" The aged man grinned a little and set down the report.
"Hector, Robin Hood," Mashu bowed lightly. On behalf of the Chaldea Security Organization, I would my to extend my most sincere thanks for help the people of this city."
The green man shrugged. "Not like we set out to do it directly; everyone's all about surviving these days."
"Still; your thanks is appreciated," Hector grinned a little. "Care to explain why you have another heroic spirit with you?" He turned his attention to the two boys that had led the group there.
"That one is a bit of a tale…" Hamazura frowned. To start with, they covered their usual outing as operating as a scout duo, up to and including saving Touma from a rouge wyvern. From there, they detailed the general descent into chaos that unfolded after. Mashu covered their involvement from Chaldea's perspective, particularly their quest to put an end to the summoning pit that was plaguing the city.
"Taking the fight straight to the hole they're crawling out of, huh…?" Hector rubbed his chin. "Who do you all have in your charge?"
"Well, there's me; a Shielder currently in possession of the spirit origin of Galahad, one of the Knights of the Round Table." Mashu started.
Robin Hood whistled. "One of the knights, huh?"
"In addition, we also have the Archer EMIYA, the Lancer Cú Chulainn, and the Rider Queen Medb. We were planning on reinforcing our numbers on site, but then all this happened."
Hector tilted his head a little. "The name EMIYA means nothing to me, but the other two you mentioned seem notable. Cú Chulainn and Queen Medb… Ireland's most famous mythological warrior, and the queen who opposed him. How did that combination come together?"
"The skank's taste in men." Othinus popped out from Touma's hood.
"Hey!" The unlucky Kamijou growled.
"I said it was her reason, not that it was bad," She shrugged. "Trust me; it's everything else about her that's awful."
"Well, that's certainly a lot more fire power, regardless of how this happy band came together," Robin remarked. "That tip the scales for you any?" He turned toward the laid-back lancer.
"It might…" Hector crossed his arms. "I won't lie; we've been fighting a losing battle for a while. We got a girl happy enough to make water for us, but food and other supplies are growing increasingly hard to get our hands on, let alone the fact these things reproduce like rabbits."
"Have you been looking into a method to deal with them as well?" Mashu asked.
"Sure have, but despite some handy weapons and equipment, we don't stand a chance of busting through that wall of meat they have for an army. We've been pulling off guerrilla warfare for a while, but that can't last forever. Without a decisive blow to where they're all coming from, us going down is an inevitability."
"Well, it's not like we can go raise an army; even if we gave everyone here a gun, I don't think we'd last too long." Hamazura scratched his head.
Hector sighed. "Trust me, I know. Robin Hood and I aren't enough either. And even if we make it there, god knows what we'll do about whatever is pulling all these things over to us."
"That… is a good point," Mashu frowned. "We don't know if it's a Servant causing this, or one of Solomon's Demon Gods…"
Index joined the conversation there. "Are you by chance referring to demons of the Lesser Key of Solomon?"
Mashu nodded. "He might have sent them here to act in his stead… now that I think about that, I find it very likely that one is in charge of the Demon Terrorist Core at the very least."
"I see…" The nun crossed her arms and closed her eyes, trying to think. "…I believe the most applicable one would be Sabnock."
"You're familiar with the Demon Gods?"
"I have memorized over 13,000 grimoires; the Lesser Key of Solomon is one of them," Index answered. "Sabnock is depicted in many different ways; most notably as an armed soldier with a lion's head riding on a pale horse. But one of his more notable traits is his command of over fifty legions of demons and the like. In fact, while descriptions vary, each one at the very least mentions his ability to command an army of powerful familiars with ease."
"…What are they talking about?" Hanzou nudged Touma.
"Theory crafting about who might be behind the monster invasion…" He shrugged. This confused the ninja more, but Hamazura put a hand on his shoulder.
"It's not worth it, man," He remarked. "He gets sucked into shit like this weekly."
As they were talking, Mashu suddenly perked up. "…I believe three Servants just entered my detection radius!"
"Yours too?" Robin asked. "Feels like there is a Noble Phantasm in play on top of that."
"Didn't you say the other half of your group held three more Servants within their ranks?" Hector added.
Mashu wasted no time racing to exit the building with the rest of the group close behind. Hector and Robin even followed along, eager to learn what exactly was happening. They found Medb's chariot driving down the road, jostling over every bump and crack in the pavement as it glided across it at top speed. She could see both Lancer and Archer on top, holding on with their bodies faced behind them, as if in preparation for an attack. The pink haired queen was in front obviously, but Ritsuka was nowhere in sight and likely in the carriage itself.
Upon seeing the group gathering in front of the building, Medb put the brakes on full stop, causing the chariot to spin a little before finally coming to rest.
"Oh there you lot are!" She called out, sounding exasperated. "First you ditch us, and then we find that bastard!"
"Hold on, what's happening?" Mashu asked. EMIYA and Cú Chulainn jumped down as Medb released their Master (With some persuasion, no doubt) from the back of the chariot.
"We got problems; big problems," Cú didn't look particularly enthused. "After we split up, a Berserker came out to check what the hell was happening."
"A Berserker?" Mashu looked confused. "Darius appeared!?"
"No such luck!" Romani called in immediately. "Wait, is that Hector and Robin Hood!?"
"Someone's in a rush…" The green archer commented.
"H-hold on! Tell us what happened! If it wasn't Darius the third, then who!?" Mashu demanded.
Ritsuka, who had been panting after approaching them, looked up into her eyes.
"…Lu Bu Fengxian."
An army was coming, and unintentionally during Chaldea's retreat, they had lead the monsters to Skill-Out's front door.
Their strategy had worked; Queen Medb's soldiers proved wondrous when it came to distracting the monster army. Truthfully, they had intended to circle around and tail the second half of their group when the building the queen's army was using was suddenly struck down in a single blow. It was leveled in its entirety, but that wasn't all; the perpetrator was a Servant.
Lu Bu Fengxian was significantly more dangerous than Darius III in battle. While the Persian king was a commander first and a fighter second, Lu Bu was the opposite: his feats of strength on the battlefield being just as impressive, if not more so, than his actions as a military commander during the events of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Wielding his spear, Houtengageki, and under the bonuses of madness enhancement rank A, he was nearly unstoppable in a stand-up fight between the three. Moreover, the monsters were under his command and pursued them relentlessly; not only did he have an army, but he was an insurmountable monster to fight against. The notion that his Noble Phantasm could rival that of Caladbolg put an end to any notion of trying to fight; their only option was to run.
But in their haste to escape, they had unintentionally given the monsters a clear path to their only resistance in the area: Skill-Out. Lu Bu could likely have sensed them just as much as they sensed him, and as such, knew the general direction where they went. Even if Chaldea ran now, to protect the site, they'd have to charge into Lu Bu and his army head on just to change their focus.
"We can't just pick up and move everyone like this!" Hamazura shouted. They transitioned back inside to avoid any passerby creature from hearing about their plans. "Even if we ran on foot, we'd end up just in another monster's nest!"
"Hey; you wanted a suggestion, so I gave it!" Cú remarked. "I know it's impossible for you, but that's all I can say, damn it! Do you think I liked having to bolt from the bastard!?"
"Yeesh… when it looks like we get more help, the enemy general decides to take a personal interest…" Robin Hood shook his head. "What do you got, Hector?"
"Well, it's true that any fight against them would result in a clash with him…" The aged Lancer stated. "Me and my Durindana could probably match him in a contest of Noble Phantasm strength… hell; Durindana's blade is conceptually bound to be unbreakable. Even if both our Noble Phantasms butt heads, mine will survive," He then crossed his arms. "But then comes actually beating the big guy; with six of us against him I think we stand a chance, but then comes his army that he's no doubt growing as he moves."
"I'm surprised a Berserker can assume that level of control…" EMIYA remarked. "Darius was one thing, but Lu Bu?"
"It might be Sabnock," Index stated, referencing her theory about who could be overseeing the summoning pit. "It might be less they're following his orders, but rather Sabnock is making them act in conjunction with those commands directly."
"Talk about bad turns… we basically have to defend this point," Romani stated. "These Skill-Out folks with the right arms might be able to hold off the monsters until we can defeat Lu Bu and put an end to the madness, but even then, if the Demon God Sabnock is in charge and acting as the monster's arms and legs, it's very likely he'll receive information about this location. We not only need to defeat this army but also immediately head straight for the summoning pit."
"If he's allowed to martial his forces, this Demon God will be a pain in the butt," Hector scratched his chin. "If only there was a way we could flip this on its head and make Lu Bu have to put up with someone while we dealt with his army; against six servants they'd go down for sure."
"In that case…" Ritsuka crossed his arms. "Doctor; where is the nearest ley line? You said we had a Caster and a Berserker lined up, right?"
"Sure do; which are you after?" Romani asked.
"A Berserker should be a good way to stop a Berserker, right?"
"I see your logic… yeah; we have someone who should be capable of stopping Lu Bu in his tracks," Clicking could be heard as he began going through data on his computer. "As for where… there are a few spots around, but the closest one is…" He paused for a moment. "…Out in the middle of the street; it'd put you and Mashu right in the enemy Berserker's warpath if you chose to use it, since we need her in it to even do a summoning."
"And without her shield to block enemy attacks…" Hector, despite sounding negative, looked intrigued by the set up. "The last of our extended scout troop will be up for a shift change in ten minutes; we might have… maybe a half hour before the enemy force arrives if they intend to show up with their full army; we can have those sent out to replace them bring them back instead…"
"Do you have a plan?" Romani asked.
"Thinking…" The aged lancer glanced around the room, observing everyone carefully. "…All this hinges on the Berserker you send; who do you got? You saying he can stand up to theirs doesn't say a whole lot. Gimmie a name, would you?"
Romani was a little hesitant at first, but in the end, he caved an announced who they had in line.
And to that uttered name, Hector began to grin.
"Oh, so that's how we're playing this!?" He laughed. "I'm over here thinking of contingencies and plan B's, and you just decide you're going to drop that bastard on them, huh!? You lot don't play around!"
"The hard part will be maintaining a defensive line, especially when Lu Bu arrives. Can you do it?" The doctor asked.
"I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I earned a bunch of names like 'The Hero of Troy' and 'Hector of the Gleaming Helmet,' you know?" He laughed it off. "Hanzou; you run these boys real well, so I'm trusting you to make sure word spreads around. We're going to need everyone for this."
"I'm confused, but I guess these guys are calling for reinforcements?" The ninja shrugged.
"Like I said man; just nod and accept." Hamazura stated.
"It'll make sense when things get started," Hector remarked. "Robin; you up for some nefarious planning to ruin a certain Chinese general's day?"
Robin Hood grinned a little. "Hey; chiding the ruling classes is what I do best."
"Good, because we're going to need your magic touch," He then brought out a map of the area. "The key thing is making sure they can only come at us one direction. I need to know every in and out of what all you lot can do, alright?"
"I don't see any problem with that," Ritsuka offered himself up right away. "Chaldea has your back; where do you need us?"
"Patience, my friend," Hector smiled at him. "First comes the set up."
A half hour went by and the extended Skill-Out members were recalled. Truth be told, Lu Bu's army was late; they expected some kind of enemy movement by now, even if it was a scouting force. It almost seemed like the enemy wouldn't appear at all. But then the first batch of beastmen arrived. Werewolves in a small number led the pack in a much smaller force than what had appeared at the outpost Hamazura and Hanzou used.
"First batch of bad guys just showed up," One of the Skill-Out members stated over a radio. "What do we do?"
Hector thought for a moment before answering. "We don't want them triggering our surprises. It might be risky, but take them out."
Gunshots began to ring out from the teenagers taken positions across the intersection. They had been spread out and armed in kind to take advantage of their opponent's lack of ranged options. They varied in placement from building to building to make their positioning harder to predict in case retaliation was inbound.
Hector was stationed in front of the established summoning circle out in the street in front of Skill-Out's home base. EMIYA was stationed on top of the building they called home, acting as a backup for their ranged forces. Robin Hood was still about securing the area after having prepared the main drag they wanted the enemy to travel down, leaving Cú Chulainn and Hector to act as the front line defense.
"Guess this makes me the last line of defense, huh…?" Touma remarked.
"If your ability works as advertised, you're the one thing who could stop that Berserker's Noble Phantasm if he targets our little lady," The aged Lancer stated. "Besides; you got your nun and the queen as support. Just don't try taking swings at him; he'll squash you flat, madness enhancement or no."
"T-that's the part that worries me the most!"
"Relax," Medb remarked with confidence. "I might have used all my soldier stocks today, but I still have Caladbolg! If you stop his Noble Phantasm, I can use mine to wipe the floor with him!"
Index blinked. "Why don't you use future vision of King Conchobar, then? You did brag about being able to see into the future."
"How about the fact that I don't know if the seen future is set in stone in this world or not? If it is and I see our defeat, then…"
"…Please don't look into the future, Medb." Touma pleaded.
The radios started going live. "H-hey! Their numbers are bulking up really quick! There's no way we can take all of them down like this, right!?"
"Don't worry; take down what you can and stay safe," Hector ordered. "It doesn't matter if you let things through; just make sure it's the big ones that make it past your posts. If you can't take it down, don't waste the ammo; leave them to us."
"Some of them are going down the alleyways! They'll sneak around!"
"That's fine; we have a plan. Just keep focused on what you're doing."
That's how the battle began. Skill-Out sniped as many of the enemy that they could, but there were far more than what they could handle, so some of the beasts inevitably made it through. Moreover, they started to use alternate routes to try to reach the same position. However, the front line didn't move to engage, even as they approached it. Soul eaters made up the bulk of the army due to their sheer size and had started to run ahead of the rest of the army to engage.
"…Alright! They've reached the threshold!" Hector shouted. "Everyone, gasmasks on and fall back! Robin Hood, light them up!"
"You got it, boss man!" The green man called back.
A series of explosions could be heard across the area, followed by a thick purple mist. Confusion was apparent, but the effects were quickly discovered as the beastmen began to slow down shortly after exposure and dropping dead.
The purple mist was a poisonous gas, a product of Robin Hood's Noble Phantasm: Yew Bow. The poison bolts it launches are deadly, and the bolts themselves generate Yew Trees from the Sherwood Forest, which then can and often will similarly spread even more poison. Not only that, attacks from the bow would amplify this toxicity ten-fold, setting up any unfortunate souls caught in the poison gas to die almost instantly.
The tactic was simple; Robin Hood used his Noble Phantasm multiple times in the sewers beneath the area, and times the release of the poison with explosives with enough force to rupture the streets above. Even the back alleys were affected as toxic gas shot up from the earth, bathing nearly everything in the enemy's offensive line in the cloud. The green archer would pick off the stragglers taking the longer alleyway routes as he helped Skill-Out withdraw from the hot zones of the traps.
Most of the lesser beastmen died instantly, the hardier ones falling shortly after. The only ones that seemed capable of enduring the trap were the soul eaters, but even they were moving noticeably slower while under its influence.
While still deadly to humans, they were mere flies before Servants now.
"Alright, now we defend the line," Cú spun his spear around. "Don't fall behind, old man!"
Hector laughed. "Hey! I'll have you know I almost beat Achilles in a one-on-one battle! I might be old, but my spear is as sharp as ever!"
"Let's see how confident you are then! First one to ten kills wins!"
"I'm not in the mood for- h-hey! Get back here!" The aged Lancer called out as Cú raced ahead, not wanting to wait for his enemy to approach. Regrettably, his partner was going to set the place of this particular battle.
From behind, Ritsuka observed the ongoing battle. "I think it's going well… how are things going on your end?"
"Just peachy!" Da Vinci sounded cheerful. "The connection is about fifty-percent secure. It's going a lot faster since we're only sending one person this time!"
"Mashu; you doing ok?" Romani joined the conversation.
The Shielder nodded. "Just fine! Let me know when the gate is ready!"
On the battlefield, the blue Lancer was tearing through the weakened soul eaters like paper. He had already reached his ten kills, and Hector was demanding to increase it to at least fifty. The Hero of Troy was doing his part as well; Durindana lived up to its title as the ultimate unbroken spear, tearing through monster after monster in only a single swing. No hide was too thick to endure the sweeps of his mighty lance.
The only time he was tripped up was when a white soul eater (judging from the damage it had incurred, it was likely the one from earlier) pounced right after he dispatched a normal one, right in the middle of recovering from the swing. However, in an instant, the lance shortened to a sword; the blade did not change size, but rather the handle shrank in length to match that of a longsword, reducing the momentum and allowing Hector to counterattack.
The white soul eater tried to block with its claws, but they shattered on impact with Durindana, allowing the blade to be driven right into the monster's skull for a clean kill.
"Damn, talk about a cheat move!" Cú laughed after dispatching another. "You sure you're a Lancer!?"
"Which class I am doesn't matter a whole lot to this blade of mine!" The wise Trojan remarked. "Quit using your gums to complain; that white one just put me ahead in your little game!"
"We'll see about that!"
EMIYA kept a close eye on the battlefield; his goal was to reserve as much energy as possible so he could provide aid in a tight situation. Primarily, he was overseeing the evacuation efforts by the deployed teens of Skill-Out; it was impossible for them all to escape the poison gas unscathed, even with gas masks. Robin Hood was doing his best to hand out antidotes he had prepared ahead of time and shuttle them back to their fortress of a home while fending of any unintentional hostiles.
Then something caught his eye; something in the distance leaping from building to building on approach. His gaze narrowed as he grabbed his radio. "Hector; get back! He's here! He's using the surrounding structures to avoid the gas!"
"Understood!" The aged Lancer answered. "Alright! Make some room; he's coming in hot!"
The two fell back as something massive hit the ground, shattering most of the street on impact. The cracks in the pavement burned a bright orange with heat, and the arrival had even killed some of the creatures he commanded.
The massive hulking Servant stood a head over two meters tall; looking a quarter of the way onto three. He wore had short red hair with red feathers tied to a cap for decoration, and while clearly humanoid, his eyes were a pale white without any pupils nor irises. His skin was tan, displaying the appearance of a man who had spent many hours under the hot sun without a single complaint, and he wore a bright red and orange Chinese general uniform with large segments of armor with a thick red fur trim around his collar and around his black gauntlets and matching greaves. His outfit was extravagant in display, but it was just as imposing in the same regard.
The halberd in his hand stood even taller than he was, and a shaft thicker than a normal man's arm; far too big for anyone to wield, but he spun it around as though it were as light as a feather. Then he roared; the sheer volume was his voice cracking the ground further and sending a shockwave outward.
This man was Lu Bu Fengxian: one of the most powerful and fierce generals in Chinese history.
"…He's bigger in person, huh?" Hector joked.
"That's right; here comes the hard part!" Cú gritted his teeth.
"Remember!" Ritsuka called out. "Keep him at bay, but conserve as much energy as possible to mop up the enemy forces!"
"Don't have to tell me twice!" The blue lancer charged ahead, not wanting to wait for Berserker to make the first move. His charge was a brave one, jumping into the air to swing his lance down against Lu Bu, only to be met by the behemoth's Houtengageki, which withstood the blow with ease. Cú landed to try swiping for his side, only for that too to be halted in its tracks. Before the Celtic legend could pull back, Lu Bu abruptly smashed his massive knee into his stomach, stunning him, before swinging the side of his lance. The blow launched Cú like a missile into the side of Skill-Out's headquarters, blasting right through the concrete structure as though it were water.
With the first insignificant pest out of its way, Lu Bu leapt onto Hector next, slamming his halberd down with violence fit for a demon. The Hero of Troy shifted his lance into its sword variant to block. If he tried to match the attack, the shaft would have snapped right in two; it is the blade that's indestructible, not the hilt. The Chinese Berserker seemed briefly stalled by the idea that something could withstand his attack, but quickly went to beating down on the aged lancer with reckless abandon; each blow hammering Hector into the pavement and giving little opportunity for a counterattack.
EMIYA prepared an arrow, but then noticed soul eaters spilling out from the hole in their defensive line Lu Bu had created and moved to intercept. "Master! They're approaching the building!" The structure's residents began to open fire, finding the black monsters much easier to down while poisoned, but there was still far more than they could handle.
"Damn it…!" Ritsuka growled. "What's the percent now!?"
"Ninety! It'll be ready to go any moment now!" Da Vinci answered quickly. "Come on… almost there…!"
"I can't… hold him anymore!" Hector cried out as his hands began to bleed from enduring so many heavy blows. With one last sweeping strike, the Hero of Troy was knocked aside like a ragdoll, leaving little possibility of his return to the front.
Then he turned his attention toward Chaldea.
"A-alright, last resort time!" Even Medb was shaken up by this warrior's sheer brutality up close. In response, Lu Bu took a section of his own spear and pulled it off; it turned into a bow in his hand. Rather than any kind of arrow, the Chinese Berserker loaded his own halberd to use as ammunition, taking aim despite the close range. Medb gritted her teeth; she could feel the mana build up from him. A Noble Phantasm was coming to sweep them up in one go.
In addition, as they fought, more soul eaters charged in. The poison gas was starting to fade, so monsters of higher caliber were starting to flood in. But then there was a blinding flash of light from the summoning circle. Lu Bu, despite his mindless rage, knew what was coming, and that he had to fire his Noble Phantasm now or else perish.
However, what Chaldea had called forth was faster, racing out of the light and slamming a hulking fist into Lu Bu's face. This was able to launch even the massive Chinese Berserker back, interrupting his Noble Phantasm.
The Chaldea Berserker was even larger than Lu Bu, and did not wear a single shred of armor aside from the bands on his arms and legs, and around his lower body. The rest was laid bare; dark skin as black as the night with a hulking mass looking more like a tank than man. His elbows projected farther than they should of, making him look even more inhuman. One eye was a bright yellow, the other a dark red, and its face contorted in visible rage, and his long black hair looked just as wild as the rest of him; a beast never once inducted into civilized society. The Berserker gripped a massive, rigged slab of stone and metal tightly, ready to swing it with all his might.
Ritsuka gave only one command, and did so with a command spell to ensure victory.
"Go! Take him down, Heracles!"
The black giant's skin turned a shade of red as he roared, power from the command spell surging through him. The primal howl erupted from the Chaldea Berserker's form as it launched itself toward Lu Bu, smashing his massive blade into his opponent's halberd. The concrete below their feet was demolished in an instant, causing the entire street below them to collapse. The damage extended to the area behind the Chinese Berserker, cutting off a large amount of the enemy influx.
From the cloud of smoke and dust that was kicked up, Lu Bu shot out with Heracles, their blades crossing once more. In the air, they swung at one another, their attacks meeting and unleashing a massive shockwave in all directions. The Greek giant grabbed ahold of the Chinese titan's weapon after the impact, however, and used it as leverage to twist in the air and roundhouse kick his opponent at a straight angle, launching him into the ground floor of one of the surrounding buildings, causing it to start to collapse.
Those afraid of the building toppling over though would be both relieved and disappointed. As it began to fall, the structure rose back up. Hercules landed to see Lu Bu hoisting the structure up himself in its entirety, only to throw it forward to crush the demigod hero. The building practically turned into dust on impact, completely demolished with its debris filling the ravine that was created from their initial clash.
Once the destruction had ended, Lu Bu saw his weapon of choice sticking out of the rubble. He marched over to draw it, doing so with ease, only for a hand to reach up and grab his ankle. Heracles burst from the rubble, swinging his opponent around like a club, slamming the Chinese Berserker into the ground several times before spinning and releasing him, sending his opponent soaring through several buildings south of the one they had just destroyed together, causing the structures to fall due to the impact. The Chaldea Berserker roared loudly, unleashing a primal energy not many had been able to see before.
The group simply watched. Cú had pulled himself out from Skill-Out's base, still looking ready for a fight, only to see the remaining enemies scatter entirely. A few were picked off by EMIYA as he expected, but it appeared that the clash of two Berserkers sent even the controlled beasts into a fearful frenzy as they tried to get as far away from the battlefield as possible.
Across the street, Hector sat where he had landed. He looked up when someone held a hand out to him.
"You're not dead, are you?" Hamazura asked. He had been on sniping duty with the others as one of the few with true marksmanship experience alongside Hanzou. With that duty done though, he was a free agent.
"…No, just having a nice nap," Hector joked and grabbed the hand. "So, we win yet?"
"Hard to tell…" He pulled the aged Lancer up to stand. "But fucking hell… who is that wildman? He's been turning that unstoppable dude into a ping-pong ball with how much he's tossing him around…"
To that, Hector laughed.
"…He's one of the most powerful heroic spirits around… the unsinkable hero of Greek mythology."
As if in response to Heracles' howl, Lu Bu shot up from the rubble with a roar of his own, so powerful in fact that it scattered all the debris around him. For a second time, he pulled a bow from a section of his might halberd and took aim. Heracles sneered, as did his opponent, as Lu Bu slowly pulled the bow taunt.
This was his Noble Phantasm, known simply as "God Force: The Five Soldiers of the War God." His spear, despite the Berserker's use of it, had no less than six distinct functions, and this was undoubtably the most powerful of them all. The release of the shot would behave like a gigantic wave-motion cannon, capable of erasing nearly everything in its range from existence.
Thus, that is what happened when Lu Bu released his halberd. It looks like a massive laser beam as it soared and glowed a distinct orange hue. True to its description, every tiny spec of matter that met the attack was erased without exception. Then, Heracles dodged the attack, doing so in a rather majestic fashion, despite his hulking form.
However, that meant the attack was flying straight toward Chaldea. Mashu was able to participate again, and looked ready to deploy her shield, while Medb finally swallowed her pride and called forth Caladbolg. Despite this, someone else ran ahead to intercept it.
Kamijou Touma raced forward, almost on instinct. It felt primal and familiar to this; a raging wall of death, devouring all that it crossed as it flew to kill him. He felt a snap, like he was falling back into something he had done before. Something that was drilled into him have hours, days, possible even years. Only in retrospect did he figure out the familiarity he felt that urged him to meet the attack.
It reminded him oh so much of when Gungnir, the Lance of the All Father, was thrown at him and the subsequent destruction of the world for a final time.
So, the boy roared himself, throwing his right fist straight into the center of the mass of energy. Much to the onlooker's surprise, Touma's arm was not immediately ripped off. Rather, it held strong against the overwhelming force that could destroy even the strongest metals known to man.
"You… stupid… raging bastard…!" Touma grit his teeth. "Behave your damn self!"
The energy shattered like glass, and Lu Bu's halberd flew into the air. Looking at Touma's arm revealed the damage; his index and middle finger has been broken, twisted in a sickening way, but the shocking part was that was all the damage the boy took.
Not everyone knew the full extent of Imagine Breaker's power, and those that did only had stories to go on. But when they saw the halberd in the crack before shattering into dust in the air, there was nothing left to assumption or chance. Even Lu Bu himself was shocked, seeing the greatest weapon ever made for him by Chen Gong shattered by a single fist. This proved to be his undoing, as his opponent didn't care in the slightest. In fact, were he not a Berserker, one could assume Heracles planned on it.
The Greek demigod smashed his blade into Lu Bu's body, shattering the man's armor. And then came the second, shattering his shoulder pads. The third, shattering his greaves. The fourth, shattering his gauntlets. The fifth, shattering his legs. The sixth, shattering his arms. The seventh, shattering his ribs. The eighth, shattering his spine.
Then the ninth came, and in a single breath, one hundred blows were unleashed.
As if honor bound to do so, Heracles used his own Noble Phantasm, despite his class as a Berserker normally precluding him from doing so.
Nine Lives: Shooting the Hundred Heads.
Lu Bu was broken after the initial eight, the ninth attack did not need to come. But, just as his master did not hold back on his true name, so would Heracles not pull a single blow against an enemy that threatened that master's life.
The Chinese Berserker faded, and the Greek hero roared for a final time. The monsters had scattered, the enemy was defeated, and not a single life was lost.
For the first time since Chaldea had arrived at Academy City, they finally felt the definite taste of victory.
How about that for a climax to a battle, huh?
The fourth Servant from Chaldea is none other than Heracles himself! And with a risky but clean summoning, Chaldea finally is getting some momentum.
It probably didn't leave too much up for imagination with this one considering Hector's reaction, but considering how under-used Heracles is as a protagonist, I felt like he'd be a good pick, considering the surprisingly large amount of Greek representation. Plus, it continues the theme of Ritsuka being a "Fan of the classics."
Who's next on deck, and when? Hard to say, isn't it? Things start being up from here, that's for sure!
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.