A/N: Unlimited Blade Works isn't awesome any more, I'm told. After all, lots of people can use it now. Well, that all depends…
Nanoha of 2814 updates in tandem with the next chap, since I haven't had much inspiration for it yet. Maybe if people reviewed a lot, I'll think of something…
The Psychic Mind, It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here! Presenting the Badass Einzbern-Emiya Family!
FATE/Holy Grail War of 2814
by Shadow Crystal Mage
Chapter 15: Let This Be Our Final Battle!
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in this story. If I did… well, this would all be canon. WARNING: MAY CAUSE HEAD EXPLOSION! Really wish someone would rec this. TvTropes, dattebayo!
Once upon a time, there had been a nameless soul. There was no way to tell his past. It could not be said who he was in life, what his name had been, what he had looked like. This soul had died… and had, inexplicably been reborn, granted a new name of inexplicable length and Gratuitous Latin-ity. He could not remember his past life, for his mind had been filled with the memories of a fictitious existence. There was no way to tell why he'd been chosen, whoever he'd once been. Perhaps he'd once, in life, had powers similar to the fictional entity whose name and face he now had. Perhaps he'd had a similar mind. Perhaps he was a madman who actually thought he was that person. There is no longer any way to tell.
He was the Servant Caster Minoris. Tavi. Gaius Octavian. All false names of a false existence of a nonexistent being.
He never understood what had prompted his summoner, the true Caster, to call him up. All he knew was that he'd been called forth, bound to a temple's gate, to act as its guard along with another like him, another being summoned as a Servant, but a being who was not real. Servant Assassin. Their friendship was an odd one, born of similarities of birth. They'd combed through their memories for some clue to who they'd been (for they understood instinctively they could not possibly be the beings whose forms they possessed, despite having their alleged memories) but came up with only recollections of heroes who had never truly walked the Earth.
So they guarded the gate they'd been made to guard, playing games to pass the time. Except for a little excitement one night, it was fairly uneventful and boring.
And then it ended…
The Magi fell back, even as Iris never ceased her attack on the thing that had killed her daughter, trying to penetrate the wall of Invaders around him. The Spiders were gone, having reformed themselves into a protective wall like several enormous beetles around the creature, which was still holding Kuro's heart. The heart twitched, still beating its last.
Miyu, Saber, Shiro and Assassin charged forward, the latter leading with a superheated stream of fire that had people's eyebrows curling. It slammed into the protective armor of one of the creature, causing it to start to turn orange and for the thing to scream in pain, but it didn't penetrate. Neither did Caster's many, many blasts. Saber reached the weakened portion and began raining blows upon the softened substance, her sword cleaving through it like it was butter, trying to break through. The Beetle attacked her, and she had to draw back, even as Shiro tried to shoot an arrow into a gap, trying to hit Kirei. It barely managed to slip through, but Kirei raised a protective arm, deflecting the mundane projectile. His body looked insectile now, made of hard plates.
Caster suddenly gave a cry as she tumbled from the air. A Spider stood on the roof of the temple behind her, its mouth still open from the blast that had penetrated Caster's protections and struck her down. The marks on the roof proclaimed it had snuck around the outer wall to the back of the temple complex. Assassin dove to catch her, and barely made it in time, managing to keep the semi-conscious woman from cracking her head on the stony ground. He himself was panting, looking drawn and pale, trembling slightly as he moved. He barely rolled them away from a second blast, and Miyu darted in to shield them as Rin and Luvia rushed over to help drag Caster to the side.
You foiled me once Emiya, you and that interfering Caster woman…
Within his protection, the Kirei-thing raised the trembling heart up to his face, inhaling deeply, savoring its scent.
Not this time. I will not allow you to take the Grail again.
He moved it closer, licking the blood from its surface.
I shall possess the Grail now… and none will take it away from me as I watch the birth of perfect evil born from purity upon this world…
His jaw distended, and he swallowed the heart whole.
A wave pulsed outward, nothing physical or real, but deeply penetrating, and the Magi froze, Caster jolted from her stunned stupor as the feeling of wrongness washed over them.
The Invaders stopped, shivered… and them seemed to dissolve, oozing around Kirei and beginning to wrap around him. It grew, shaping itself, bulging outward, becoming a large, bubbling mass that dominated the center of the courtyard as the others watched on in horror.
On the side facing Kiritsugu, the mass shifted, and the arms, torso and head of a man appeared, an expression of unholy bliss on the face of the thing.
I… AM… THE… GRAIL! I am the victor of the Holy Grail War! And now, I shall have my wish…
Beneath him, the mass convulsed, an opening appearing from it, pouring out a dark, iridescent liquid, like crude oil, only much, much thicker. Kiritsugu stepped back reflexively as he recognized the substance. It roiled as if boiling, and its bubbles formed disturbingly human and inhuman shapes.
Call your Servants, useless Masters! Call them so I might take their souls! Call them, or I shall take your Seals and do so myself. And where's the fun in that?
Kuro stared at the thing in the courtyard, feeling oddly disconnected from it all. She couldn't describe it well, because what words were there to solidify the ethereal and lock them into base forms? Like a pure marble cathedral melting, or a perfect work of beauty turning into an equally perfect work of ugliness.
And yet, in the midst of all that, she caught sight of two forms, standing in the heart of it, looking more real to her than everything around. They waved at her, and she felt herself grin.
The figure looked over Kuro's shoulder, smiling. "Looks like your ride back is here."
Kuro looked, and saw a blazing light. "Is that heaven?"
"It leads to where everything you've ever wanted can come to you," the figure said.
Kuro paused. It drew her, that light. And she took some comfort in realizing the way to it neither sloped downward, nor echoed with the sound of an incoming train. She took a step towards it, then paused. She turned back to the figure and bowed. "Thank you for your time, onee-chan."
The figure smiled. "Any time. Guess I'll be seeing you some other time."
Still Kuro hesitated. Ah, what the heck. "Um, I was wondering…"
A perfect eyebrow rose, prompting her to continue.
"It's a dry day, and I need a little lip balm…"
There was a giggle, and a cold feeling of lips on hers, even as Kuro felt herself moving towards the light. It was calling her name.
"Kuro von Einzbern-Emiya of Earth…"
Kuro felt something slipping itself onto one of her fingers. Warmth filled her, the warmth of prana, of sunlight against her skin, of healthy, living flesh. There was a jolt in her chest as she felt something start to beat again, felt liquid heat momentarily running down her arms as blood started to flow once more. She felt her wounds closing, the even lines on her right arm knitting themselves closed, the torn flesh on her left being covered up, smoothening. The cold, airy feeling on her chest ceased, the pain there dwindling into nothing.
Eyes still closed, she raised her left hand, wrapping it around Illya's waist as she squeezed Illya's fingers with the other. A low, pleased moan rose from her throat. She opened her eyes, in time to see Illya's snap open in surprise. Illya's mouth snapped open, and Kuro took the opportunity to stick in her tongue.
"MMMPHM!" Illya cried, pulling her head back and wiping her mouth frantically, smearing it with more blood. "Kuro?-!"
Kuro grinned. "What's the matter, sis? You seemed just fine corpse-fucking me a second ago."
Illya blushed, but even her indignation couldn't eclipse her surprise. Kuro reached over and touched her bloody face, and instantly the blood flaked away, dissolving into dust, leaving Illya completely clean. Kuro stood, her white capelet fluttering behind her, looking down at herself, holding her arms out before her.
Her clothes had been bleached from red to brilliant, glowing white. She could see the shadows behind Illya shifting as Kuro moved, could see the slight glow surrounding her. Light filled her mind, and time seemed to grow still.
Forget the war. She had found the Grail. She had found Akasha.
It was surprisingly anticlimactic.
Knowledge filled her, random things, pulled out of a vast sea with no regard to order, significance or use. The Light was life after all, connecting all life. Connecting to the Root itself. Words, images, visions filled, and she knew they were, in some time, in some place, true. She touched the infinite and, for a heartbeat that lasted forever, the world around her was peeled back.
"In the last, lorn fight against the fall of long night, the mountains stand guard and the dead shall be ward, for the grave is no bar to my call! Spirit of Olivie Segbrecht, I summon you! ETERNITY!"
Kuro saw a young woman, wearing an apron over a dark dress, who looked vaguely familiar. A glowing point of orange light flew to her finger, and her clothes changed. She threw back her head and laughed, and Kuro felt terror course through her…
"I am not just some woman, fool! I am Achilles, the invincible! Fall before my spear!"
Two women held each other in a passionate embrace. One seemed washed out, her skin and hair pale as if bleached, with golden eyes. Both of them were Saber…
"Subaru Nakajima of Mid-Childa, there is great hope in your heart…"
Green Lantern-chan stood in an empty void, surrounded by dozens of strange beings who wore clothes like hers. All looked at her in terror as she opened her eyes, which glowed with a sickly golden light. She smiled, and her mouth was lined with long, pointed teeth…
"I'm not going to be 'kid' anything anymore! I'm stepping out of your shadow, Wally. From now on, call me Impulse."
A creature seemingly made of crystal that glowed in shades of pink and violet, looking like some kind of creature from a Sigourney Weaver movie loomed over a small human form, clad in black a radiant blue, a halo above her, blue wings outstretched. She held a pink wand topped with a yellow star in one hand. They stood before an enormous structure that glowed with power, surrounded by innumerable beings, all female. Slowly, they knelt before the one clad in blue…
"The gem was forged in evil's fire, the gem shall be his portal. He comes to bring, he comes to sire, the end of all things mortal…"
An older Rin stood, wearing appropriately Rin-like clothes: high stockings, short skirts, all else window dressing. She wore a crimson mask, and in her hands she held a crystal sword that glittered with the colors of the rainbow…
"Krypton Crystal Power, Make UP!"
Illya stood in a dark cave, calmly donning a dark armor. She was older, her face impassive, almost unreal. The thick, metal plated suit she wore made her form androgynous. As she covered her head with a dark helm, the shadows fell away to reveal a stylized bat on her chest…
"Hiroshima, Nagasaki: RISE!"
A man in full evening dress stood before the dark figure of a woman with a top hat, his ragged cape fluttering. She held an enormous scythe in her hands, a lantern of some sort built where staff and blade met. She held out her hand, and he knelt before her…
"Halt, evil doers! In the name of Olympus, I, Magical Amazon Princess Diana, shall defeat you!"
AngelGARd and a busty, long-haired girl in a kimono with cat-ears on her head faced each other, blades in hand, while a teenaged boy and Magus Erebus both tried futilely to argue with them. In the background, people were setting up chairs and snacks, and money was changing hands. Kuro was looking particularly smug as she accepted a lot of money from some rather annoyed-looking people…
A dark-skinned warrior stood upon bloodstained stones, staring down at her hands, her white garments fluttering around her. She held out a hand, and an enormous white bow appeared in her outstretched palm. She grinned, and yelled out a challenge, a sword of light appearing in her other hand. She fired, then charged forward…
"Good afternoon everyone. I am Colonel Matou Shinji. Welcome to Riot Force 6…"
A plain office door, with plain letters on the frosted glass reading, "Dresden and Prince Investigations"…
"In other news, Joe Quesada has finally been convicted of Crimes Against Humanity for the storyline 'One More Day', and has been sentenced to life in basic Creative Writing courses in a college in Nigeria. All things that happened to Spiderman during his editorial run have been rendered null and void and will be ret-conned out in next month's 'Joe Quesada Never Existed' company-wide crossover-event…"
A man clad in black ran, silver lightning bolts glistening from the sides of his head as a black ring pulsed on his finger…
"Now, feel the power of the Noble Phantasm of the Tohsaka Clan, Multiple-Dimension Refraction Phenomenon weaponized for the new age! Jeweled… Sword… CALLANDOR!"
Six women of varying ages stood together. The tallest, a busty woman with her blue hair in pigtails stood in the middle, obviously the leader, holding an axe-like staff with a blue gem in her hands. The others were of varying ages, with twins with blonde hair who looked ten, a short-haired one who looked about fourteen, one with a pony-tail who looked twelve, and a dead-eyed child who looked barely eight. Each wore tight bodysuits, with a roman numeral at the collar ranging from XIII to XVIII…
"Welcome to the Justice League. I'm the Flash, and this is Beast Boy. For your final practical exam, you each need to subdue a Tyrannosaurs Rex by yourself. Begin."
On a battlefield, a lone warrior stood. An obscene number of ornate weapons– swords, spears, arrows, knives, even an axe or two– protruded from his bleeding body. His skin was dark, his hair pale, though he still looked fairly young. His black breastplate was cracked and broken, and the rest of his clothes was even redder that usual with his blood. In his hand was a bloody card, the image on it crisp and clear.
Kuro's mind gasped as she read the card, even as the light seemed to dim, and she found herself back in her body, knowledge, the potential for knowledge, singing in her mind. She held out a hand, and an enormous white bow appeared in her hands. She grinned.
"CREEPY PERVERT PRIEST!" she cried. "ROUND TWO!"
A sword of light appeared in her hand, and she fired. The arrow streaked through the air, but even as it flew Kuro was charging forward, powering gathering in her hands, envisioning–
Light. Swords filled her mind, hundreds, thousands, millions of them. She could see them, indistinct, unreal, yet she knew what they were, what their names were, or could, if she wanted to. Her mind drifted to the sword she saw in her vision, and it was there in her mind, a sword of pure crystal, glittering with the colors of the rainbow, made by…Rin?
She ignored the details, focusing on the image in her mind. She judged the concept, the structure, the composition. She imitated the skill, piled on the years upon it, surpassed the process in which it was made, the steps instinctive to her. The knowledge for these things came to her mind as she thought them, and the sword appeared in her hand, perfect in every way, a crystal broadsword. The sword began to shine as she activated it, infinite prana filling in from infinite worlds. She held it in both hands, the tip pointed behind her as she readied it. She set her feet, skidding as she unleashed its power.
"Noble Phantasm! JEWELED… SWORD… CALLANDOR!"
Light came forth.
She swung the sword, and light shot out from it, a destructive gush not unlike what she had seen the night before. Or that morning, for that matter. It rushed from the blade, more an attack from, say, a demonic cannon girl than from a sword, a rainbow-colored beam of destructive magic. It washed forward, causing everyone to shield their eyes as the dark abomination in the center of the courtyard was caught in the blast. Dimly she heard Illya stopping dead behind her, Ruby clattering to the ground again as she lost her grip in astonishment.
"Attack non-lethal," the ring on her finger said coolly, a triangle shooting forth seven rays barely visible on it's opalescent surface. "Prepare against retaliation."
That was all the warning Kuro needed as an almost physical mass of kinetic blasts erupted from dust kicked up by the blast. She dodged, grabbing Illya, and raising her right hand, the ring on her finger covering her with a bright white aura, the hole in her chest plug up by white light as her insides knit and repaired themselves. A barrier of light wove from the ring, a vaguely circular shape with waves of energy pulsing upward from a central point. The blast hit it, and was neutralized, though Kuro grunted at the sudden effort.
You are getting to be as annoying as your parents, brat!
"It's in the blood," Kuro said, teeth bared.
"KURO?-!" people cried as they realized she wasn't lying on a pool of blood with her heart torn out.
Kuro pointed at the Kirei-thing dramatically. "Kotomine Kirei, A.E.G.I.S. code name designation Fallen, for crimes against humanity, including arson, murder, jaywalking, and the continued proliferation of vampire teen novels, by the authority of the United Magical Girl Association, Fuyuki Fate Knights Division, and the Justice League, I am hereby authorized to exterminate you!"
A large blast erupted behind her, scaring the hell out of Illya as her sister posed dramatically, framed by white sparks and streamers.
It sounded really confused.
Kuro blinked, frowning, then suddenly knocked on her head. "Oh, silly me. That all hasn't happened yet. Man, this White Knight thing is confusing."
"Subject is insufficiently suited to optimally wield the White Light," the ring on her finger said.
"Shut up, you," Kuro said, easily twirling the sword in her hand. She leveled it at Kirei-thing again. "You stole my heart. You should know better than to mess with a maiden's heart."
KIrei-thing gave her a blank look. The mass he was attached to convulsed, and the moment was shattered as dozens of pustules grew from the mass, shooting kinetic blasts. Iris shielded herself and her husband with her alchemy, while Miyu did what she could for the others as Kuro manifested a white circular shield to protect her and Illya.
Kuro breathed hard, shielding Illya protectively. She could feel a burning hollowness in her chest. And knew she was still on borrowed time. Her heart wasn't back yet, just replaced, her chest plugged up by white light, her blood pumped by the same.
"Kuro," Illya growled. "Get your hand off my ass."
She grinned down at her sister. "What, no punching me into orbit?"
"I'm being nice because you got your heart ripped out," Illya snapped. "Hand, off!"
Kuro laughed, and pecked her on the cheek. Even that minor contact drew a sliver of prana from the other girl. "I love you, you know that?" she said. Illya somehow managed to blush more.
Kuro suddenly grunted as another concentrated blast struck her shield. She thought of Miyu and her mother, and suddenly knew they were weakening, that she needed to act to help relieve their strain. "Illya," Kuro said. "What Class Cards do you have?"
Illya checked. "I've got Lancer, Assassin and… Berserker."
Kuro smiled grimly. "Here's the plan…"
The ground beneath them rumbled.
Kuro looked over her shoulder. "Quick-notes version, then," Kuro said, and before Illya could react, she was kissing her, their lips coming together. Illya made a protesting, indistinct sound, but Kuro ignored her, using the opportunity to draw some prana. Then the kiss was over, and Kuro was pushing her back, Illya's mind whirling with bright little lights, and a plan fully formed in her mind, and plan that wasn't hers.
Kuro let out a cry as she charged. She made her capelet inflate behind her, tried to make herself a bigger target, tried to get the thing's attention. Her aura grew brighter as she charged, dodging the kinetic blasts that were being aimed at her now. She had to dodge: every iota of power she took from the ring was power that wasn't being used to regenerate her heart. Her options with the ring were limited. That said, she was still her.
"I call the bone in your sword…" she chanted her aria, feeling the world change slightly. She gestured, and swords shot forth like rain. They were shot out of the air with blasts, shattering the plain nameless weapons, but Kuro kept sending more, drawing closer with every step.
The mass convulsed, and long, tentacle-like limbs shot forth, forcing Kuro to dodge. She severed one with a blade, then another, back-flipped over a third, and suddenly Kuro was only ten feet away. More tentacles grew out, wrapping around the Kirei-thing even as it started trying to sink back in. The tentacles were thick, too thick for a sword not shot from her bow, thick enough not to be cut easily. Tentacles tried to wrap around her, tried to surround her fom all suggestions, and she traced, Swords worming edged walls around her, buying her time. She wasn't really limited to just swords, it was just what came easiest.
"Trace, on!" she cried, feeling the burning of magic in her circuits as she took a stance. "Gae Bolg!"
The blood-red spear leapt into her hands, considerably more prana being used up in its making. The accumulated combat experiences the weapon had been through washed over her, the foreign knowledge a strange echo of the ring on her finger. Power coursed through the activated Noble Phantasm as she lunged with it, its reversal of causality already in effect. If a path to the target's heart existed, it would be found.
The Lance of Death attacked… and found no path to the heart, found no heart to seek. It slammed into the protective tentacles around the Kirei-thing, biting deep, infecting with its curse. Its power allowed it to keep on penetrating, punching through tentacle after tentacle, the tip finally erupting and stopping short of it's target.
And what was that supposed to accomplish?
Kuro back-flipped away from an errant tentacle, rebounding off one of the swords she'd made, her foot coming to rest on the end of the spear. The contact was enough. She pushed power into it.
"Gae Bolg: Lance of Striking Death Flight!" she cried, giving the spear a hard shove with her foot a she leapt once more, and simultaneously Broke it. She had to. Without the kinetic energy of being hurled, it needed every kick it could get.
A shield of white light wove around her as the spear exploded, it's cursed power, though diminished by it's improper utilization, more than destructive enough to send her flying, and likely would have killed her without the shield. She felt something in her chest stop, saw the patch of light on her chest flicker for a moment as power was diverted, before both resumed again as she slammed into the ground, rolling with the force.
"That was an insane plan!" Illya cried as she rushed up and helped Kuro to her feet.
"It's not done yet," Kuro chirped. "Be ready."
They regrouped quickly as the smoke cleared. The explosion was hardly minor, tearing apart a significant chunk of the dark mass the Kirei-thing had become. Saber stepped up beside Kuro, her sword ready, staring in mixed determination and horror at the sight. Kuro wondered what she saw with her spiritual eyes. Her vision started to blur in response to this idle thought, but Kuro quashed it. she could afford that now.
Shiro was right behind his Servant, and Illya and Miyu moved to stand at her other side. Iris, Rin and Luvia were doing their best to minister to Assassin and Caster, and the latter Servant was already starting to rouse, but Kuro wasn't depending on her support. The former, however…
"Can you fight?" she asked, watching the dark mass.
"I'd rather not," he said tiredly. "I'm almost out, and the lady over here can't give me any to replace it."
Kuro nodded. "Things are about to get messy."
"Messier than this?" Rin growled sarcastically.
Was that the best you had, child? A pity. I expected something more from the Einzbern's secret weapon…
The mist began to clear as Illya and Miyu raised their wands. A sword appeared in Shiro's hands, a copy of Caliburn. Kuro could see it was still highly flawed. The shape was right, but…
But then, this war has been one disappointment after another. You are all just children, and your Servant's show this. Weak. Ineffectual. Pathetic. Ultimately pointless…
"Ring power at 35 percent," Kuro's ring said. "Cellular regeneration and organ replacement at 47 percent."
It's not like it was in our day, visit, Emiya? It was a true war then. You destroyed an entire hotel building just to get at Tohsaka-sempai, I recall…
"Be ready…" Kuro warned as the dark mass shifted, a dark, viscous liquid like hellish oil beginning to pour from the thing.
Listen to me… I sound like my father. But those were the days, Emiya. War was war.
The oily substance began to bulge upward.
Shall we show them how it was once done?
A wave of the wrongness erupted again, and to Kuro's ears, Gaia and Aliya screamed in unison as the unnatural was brought into the world. The darkness, the evil pouring from the tainted Grail rose, solidifying itself into humanoid figures. A man in dark armor, blurring and indistinct, with crimson lines all over his body. An enormous bear of a man, with a full beard and madness-filled eyes in dark Grecian armor, the once-gold trim shining with a crimson light. A dark-clad figure with a skull-like mask, eyes burning like hell itself. A beautiful-looking man, skin and hair pale as if washed out and bleached, holding a spear in either hand.
I hold the power of the Grail still. Who needs souls when empty vessels are so easy to make?
Another dark-figure rose, its dark skirts wide, its black armor covered with eldritch scarlet lines, eyes shining gold. The woman in Kuro's vision. Saber, as seen through a mirror darkly. Next to Kuro, Saber stiffened, eyes wide.
Two more appeared. One was obviously Gilgamesh, armor dark as knight, traced in red the same as all the others, the face strangely blank and lifeless. The other was a woman. She was small, shorter than Caster. Her golden eyes were wide and soulless, her black beret making her head look like a mushroom. Three pairs of black wings seemed to grow from her back, and she held a black-stained, crimson-trimmed staff in one hand, and a book in the other. Her legs were clearly visible beneath her short skirt, and the jacket she wore didn't look very protective.
"Berserker," Kuro identified each as they appeared. "Rider. Assassin. Lancer. Saber. Archer. Caster. All from the 4th Holy Grail War."
"How do you know?" Illya said.
"I know…" Kuro murmured. "Mom, I need you to give Rin your phone. Rin, call Sakura. We'll need her."
Luvia's hands tightened. One moved towards her Command Seals.
"Not yet," Kuro said. "Not–"
They attacked without warning.
Dark Assassin charged forward, blurring and multiplying into an army in an instant.
"ILLYA, NOW!" Kuro cried, she and Saber charging in as well, with Shiro coming up behind. He and Dark Rider clashed, the sword in Dark Rider's hands meeting the twin blades in Shiro's own. Sparks flew. Kiritsugu did what he could to provide covering fire.
Illya drew out a Class Card, holding it out. "Let thy body rest under my dominion!" she intoned. "If thou submittest to the call of the Holy Grail and if thou wilt obey this mind, this reason, then thou shalt respond. I make my oath here. I am that person who is to become the virtue of all Heavens. I am that person who is covered with the evil of all Hades. Thou seven heavens, clad in a trinity of words, come past thy restraining rings, and be thou the hands that protect the balance! INSTALL!-!-!-! ASSASSIN CLASS!-!-!"
An intricate array of light carved itself beneath Illya as her clothing changed, Ruby changing form in her hands into a wooden staff. Dark slacks that hugged her legs tightly, revealing thier shape. A dark shirt held closed by a single button, revealing her stomach and most of her collarbone. Dark boots. A long, black leather duster engraved with runes.
"The hell?" Assassin managed.
Illya opened her eyes, facing the hordes off Dark Assassins before her. None were any match for a Servant. And now, she had the power of one, even if that Servant was also Assassin. And with the infinite power pouring out from Ruby…
She raised a hand. "FRIGIDO!" she cried, ripping the body heat out of everyone one of the approaching mass of Dark Assassins she could get her metaphysical hands on. They all froze solid instantly, frost building on them in an eye- blink as the very air around them froze. She wove the heat, and flame lanced out at them, burning them to a crisp. "Yeah! Woo hoo! What have you got for a fiery beam of death! You got nothing for the fiery beam of death!"
Dark Caster thrust her palm upwards as the others charged. "Diabolic Emission," she intoned.
"Trace, on!" Kuro cried, countering, dodging between dying Dark Assassins. "Ensis Exorcizans!"
Dark Caster lashed out with her cross-tipped staff's blade, but Saber was there first, catching the weapon on her own invisible sword. Kuro was right next to her, slashing upwards, barely missing Dark Caster's arm as the Artifact Noble Phantasm disrupted her spell. Kuro's return slash attempted to cleave her in two, but suddenly Dark Saber was there, and it was all Kuro could do to disengage without losing her arm. Saber shifted targets, attacking her doppelganger.
Dark Caster lunged forward, moving with more skill than her class usually did, her staff a deadly spear. Kuro parried with her own blade, but Dark Caster was quick, their weapon's clashing and striking sparks even as Dark Caster obviously readied another spell.
"Actus Noctis Erebea," Dark Caster intoned, her body actually becoming darker, her movements more forceful and faster. Kuro tried to finish her off, but was painfully reminded there were more players on the field as an enormous armored hand slammed down on her weapon. Lines instantly began to grow at the point of contact as Dark Berserker wrenched the weapon away from her.
She went with the movement, dodging the now-compromised Noble Phantasm, barely dodging Dark Lancer's own attack. Illya yelled as she finished off the last of the Dark Assassins and attacked Dark Berserker, lances of flame erupting from her hands.
"The sword destroys magic!" Kuro managed to yell out. Illya cried out something ruder than usual as she dodged. Then Kuro had her own problems as Dark Lancer moved in, both cursed spears stabbing at her. Roaring, she Traced weapons to her hands and met his attack.
Illya dodged Dark Berserker's attacks in a panic. Each slash was always too close for comfort, each attack closer than the last. Dark Berserker was much faster than he had a right to be, for someone of his size. But Illy'a Install had significantly boosted her speed, and she was able to stay ahead, if barely at times. She blasted fire at the thing, but it swiped them out of the air without even slowing down.
MIyu dashed in suddenly, Iris right behind her, attacking Dark Berserker from behind, her magic blast a concentrated flow that tore into his hand, destroying it while Iris wove her wires around the thing, trying to slow it down. He dropped the sword, but quickly rounded on Miyu, and Illya took the opportunity to shoot him in the back while Iris pulled the weapon away. They trapped him like this, trying to whittle him down with their combined attacks. In the background, they could hear Saber clashing with her duplicate. Gunshots resounded as Kiritsugu helped Shiro, the noise helping rouse the fallen Caster, who lay fallen on the ground behind the flimsy wall of Assassin, Rin and Luvia.
"Rin, where the hell is Sakura?" Kuro cried, trying to ditch Dark Lancer and doing badly at it.
"Ring power at 32 percent," Kuro's ring said. "Cellular regeneration and organ replacement at 63 percent."
"Gather, light of the stars…" Dark Caster intoned, magic gathering before her again. The other copies had managed to maneuver the fighting away from her, despite the efforts of the girls. Already an enormous ball of power had appeared above her, crackling with energy. "Become an all-consuming weapon to annihilate everything. Starlight Breaker."
Then she closed her fist. The ball seemed to swirl, collapsing into a single point above her hand. Dark Caster placed her hand to her chest. "Stagnet. Complexio, Supplementum Pro Armationem. "
The ball of light merged with her form in a storm of power, her form changing, gaining white tiger-like stripes as trailing smoky wisps of power began to emanate from her arms and legs small points of light began to surround her, appearing for a brief moment before being sucked in like stars falling into a black hole.
"What the hell was that?" Rin cried.
Dark Caster turned to regard her.
"Oh, crap," she said, her voice small.
Dark Caster blurred, and in the blink of an eye was in front of Rin, staff already streaking for her face. She reacted on instinct, managing to parry the blow, feeling as it drew dangerously close to her cheek. She gave a start as she felt magic being drawn from her at the contact with the fake, but there was no time to dwell on it as she slammed an elbow hard into Dark Caster's face, followed by a stomp to the knee. There was a crack.
Dark Caster stumbled as one of her legs broke, and Rin moved back, gems coming to hand as Assassin raised his staff in a killing blow. He swung down, but Dark Caster spun, suddenly floating in the air as she used her own staff to block. Her leg seemed to be resetting.
Rin and Luvia threw their jewels at point-blank range.
"Round Shield," Dark Caster intoned.
The jewels exploded against the sudden. Assassin, unprotected, was hurled away as Dark Caster calmly turned to regard them. Almost immediately, points of intense light appeared at the point of impact, glowing bright before being sucked into Dark Caster's body.
Luvia swore. "Did that thing just absorb our magic?"
Rin also took a step back, hand fumbling for her Azoth Dagger, Reinforcing it as a matter of course.
On the ground, Iris's cell phone beeped as the call finally cut off. The ground began to glow as a design appeared.
"Sagitta Magica," Dark Caster intoned. "Series Lucis."
Magic Archer shots launched themselves at the two at practically point-blank range.
"GET AWAY FROM MY SISTER!"
Shadows wove themselves in front of Rin and Luvia, blocking the shots as firmly as a mountain. At that same moment a black-clad form flew past Rin, tackling Dark Caster and shrugging off the Sagitta Magica like rain. Sakura, clad in shadow armor, her hair pale as moonlight, with eyes red as wine was snarling as she attacked, her fists slamming in a complicated combination that took Dark Caster off guard. She rallied however, unincanted balls of light appearing and slamming into Sakura. She grunted as they stuck, some absorbed by her shadows, some obviously not. "Jovis Tempestas Fulguriens!" she cried as she lashed out with her fist, managing to catch Dark Caster in the jaw. A beam of light, wind and lightning struck mouth, launching the fake backwards several dozen yards. On the ground, shadows writhed.
"Sakura?" Rin said in disbelief. "H-how?"
Sakura glanced at her, a brief, quick look, enough to let Rin see a relieved smile. "Teleportation is very convenient," was all she said. She raised her arm. "RIDER!"
One Command Seal blinked out as the long-haired Servant suddenly appeared, looking mildly surprised, but only for a moment. Her attention was instantly on Sakura. "Master?" she said.
"Protect my sister and the others, and see what you can do about reviving Caster-san," Sakura ordered. Her gaze was hard on Dark Caster, who'd gotten back to her feet. "This bitch is mine!" She held out a hand to either side. "Magic in one hand, Chi in the other… KANKAHO!"
A wave of power erupted from Sakura, a wavering field of power not unlike that popularized by a certain show about aliens with really large man-boobs appearing around her, the shadows on the ground writhing beneath her feet. When she next spoke, her voice had a stereo quality to it. "You dare desecrate the image of my most beloved queen!" she cried, anger evident. "PERISH NOW!"
Rin blinked. "Queen?"
A blast of pure force erupted from Sakura, streaking towards Dark Caster. Dark Caster dodged, unbelievably fast, faster than her class had a right to, shooting into the air. She gestured, several whirling disks suddenly appearing as the white lines leached from her, power gathering in her other hand. "Duabus Emissae, Dextra Emissae Stagnans, Starlight Breaker. Sinistra Emissae Stagnans, Night Sky Tiara Action, Genocide Shift," she intoned. "Unisonent: Starlight Annihilating Orbit: Apocalypse Shift. "
The two spells combined, Starlight Breaker and a cloud of whirling Frisbees of doom combining together as the mages not occupied with keeping themselves alive stared in horror. Caster tried to sit up and hastily construct a shield, but she was still too dazed. In mute horror, she wondered who this woman had been in life. Even in the Age of the Gods, such power had been beyond mortal imagining. Dozens of rings the size cars spun towards them.
"I'm going to die a virgin," Luvia said, voice small.
Sakura grinned, snapping out her own hand "Agite Extractio! Negica Magia Erebea! CIRCULI ABSONTIONES! FIELD OF THE WARRIOR PRINCE!"
The ground of the entire courtyard erupted into one enormous complicated series of magical circles etched into the ground by shadows as Sakura launched herself to meet the attack. She and the disks met.
Caster's jaw dropped as Sakura absorbed the spells, merging with them, her body beginning to shine with its own tiger stripes and wispy energy trails, rotating rings appearing around her fists. "That… That's impossible…"
Dark Caster seemed of the opinion, pausing for a dangerous moment as if surprised.
"Flash Move," Sakura said, and suddenly she was behind Dark Caster, her hand pointed directly at the other's head. "Dextra Emittam"
Dark Caster was utterly annihilated as her own power was blasted at her at point blank range.
"Fear the power of the Divine Wind of Protection," Sakura said in grim amusement. She set her sights on Dark Berserker. She blurred as she dived, leaving Rider to stand beside Rin and Luvia, the latter of whom was helping up Assassin, who was moaning about how he should have stayed in bed that morning. The rest were just staring.
Rin gave the Servant a look. "Are you staring at my sister's ass?" she said, still gripping the dagger.
"N-no!" Rider said, moving forward to place herself between them and any threats.
Rin gave her a look, before looking at Assassin speculatively.
Caster started trying to sit up…
There are several concepts that were completely foreign to Emiya Shiro. A sense of self was one of them. So was a sense of self-preservation, a sense of style, a fully functional libido, and knowing when he was in over his head.
Currently, all but the libido might have come in handy.
Everything around his was a blur as he attacked. He lost sword, but that didn't mater. He just needed to make more. He met Dark's Rider's attacks stroke for stroke, the golden sword from his dreams coming forth again and again. It didn't break like glass as it once had, but still shattered after a few hits.
Why? Why couldn't it be like Kuro's swords? Or like Archer's? Those were perfect. What was he missing? Why did his swords break? Why weren't they–?
The word was suddenly in his head, surprising him and nearly causing him to get disemboweled. He'd have been confused if that wouldn't have ended up getting him killed. The word had been delivered by a woman's voice. What…?
Several voices cried this at once, Kiritsugu among them, and Shiro just had enough presence of mind to throw himself to the ground, trusting the people yelling knew what they were talking about.
"Hekatontakis Kai Kiliakis Astrapsato! Killipl Astrape!"
Thunder split the air as Dark Rider was literally torn apart by over a thousand bolts of lightning.
"I," Caster growled, her hood thrown back, eyes blazing in anger, one arm outstretched, "was going to get married here! Do you have any idea how hard it's going to be to clean this place up?-!"
"What?" Shiro yelled, sticking his fingers in his ears. "I can't hear you!"
He felt his father coming to his side, trying to help him up. His mouth moved, but Shiro heard nothing. Well, not really. One word kept echoing in his mind.
Shiro blinked. Perfect…
Finally, it made sense.
"Ring power at 27 percent. Cellular regeneration and organ replacement at 87 percent. Incidentally, getting hit by the shorter spear is a really bad idea."
"Hey! I'm the comedian here! Butt out!" Kuro cried as she dodged, twin swords meeting Dark Lancer's twin spears. The air rang with their impacts.
Only Dark Gilgamesh hadn't joined in the battles. He stood, impassive, guarding the enormous black mass, which was convulsing and repairing itself. Dark fluid began to leak out once more.
Saber fought her duplicate still, evenly matched. Each of her moves was countered, and though she didn't grow frustrated, she could see this would become a battle of attrition. And given how little power Shiro could give her, that meant she would eventually lose.
Illya, Miyu and Iris danced around Dark Berserker. Several wires trailed form him now, though, some broken, some managing to slow him down. His speed was monstrous. This wasn't stopping the girls, however. Miyu, like SHiro, had no concept of backing down, especially when Illya was on the line, Illya was currently too powered up to care, and Iris had a score to settle with this particular Berserker. The three of them were clearly outmatched, however, only managing to survive this long because they managed to cover each other and distract it.
Thus, it was quite a pleasant surprise when a cry of "DIVINE BUSTER!" resulted in Dark Berserker being flung by a devastating beam of purple energy.
"I've got this!" Sakura cried as she streaked by, Saggita Magica already wrapping around her arm. "Help Saber and Kuro! It's almost time!" She charged Dark Berserker with a cry of "Saidai Ouka Houken!", magic exploding from her fist at her blow as Sagitta Magica released their magical payload.
"Time?" Illya said. "Time for what? ARGH!"
Illya ran for her sister, Miyu right behind her, while Iris rushed to Saber's aid. She wove, and a wall suddenly appeared behind the fake, cutting off its mobility. It bumped into the wall, its face never changing or registering surprise, but it did falter. Saber took advantage of the opportunity, lunging forward and scoring a critical hit. Dark Saber stumbled, bleeding dark fluid… and exploded in Saber's face. The fake just burst, turning from solid to a dark, viscous liquid that completely covered a surprised Saber, making her look like she'd fallen into a vat of very thick molasses.
The surprised lasted for only a moment as Saber spat out the disgusting substance. Then her eyes went wide, and she fell to her knees as she began to scream.
"Saber!" Iris cried, rushing to the girl's side. "What's wrong?"
Saber tried to push her away, but Iris stayed firm. She tried to grasp the girl by the shoulders, but Saber was flailing too much, her invisible sword moving through the air too wildly to be safe. Iris had to restrain her with her wires. "Saber, talk to me!" the homunculus said.
Saber turned towards her, the movement seemingly utter agony. A golden eye stared out from a too-pale, seemingly washed-out face. "G-get… aw-way…"
"Saber?" Iris said hesitantly, unconsciously extending an arm.
Saber screamed, her sword swinging wildly at Iris, who just barely managed to jerk back. Several of her hairs fluttered to the ground, and she felt a burning sensation on the tip of her nose.
Iris felt herself being pulled the rest of away by strong hands, and her view of Saber was suddenly blocked as Shiro and Kiritsugu stepped in front of her, the former still sticking a finger in his ear as if to clear it. "SABER!" they both cried. "Stop it!"
Iris poked her husband. "Dear, Shiro-kun's the Master now," she reminded him.
"Oh, right," he said.
Shiro held out both hands beseechingly. "Saber, snap out of it! What's wrong?"
Saber gave no reply, clutching at her head as her clothes and armor darkened, and a network of dark lines began to grow on them, her cries muted now. Suddenly, she grew still. She opened her eyes, staring coldly at Shiro… and lunged. The field of air around her sword broke, exposing a jet-black blade, glowing red lines upon it.
Kiritsugu shoved his son and wife out of the way, his life already flashing before his eyes. Next to him, Death buffed her nails, idly licking her lips.
Iris wove, dragging him down and trying to bring up a barrier, knowing it was useless against Saber's blade as Death idly pulled out a Sudoku book.
Shiro recovered from the shove, lunging at Saber with his own empty hands, putting himself in front of his mother's shield.
Death sighed. "Would you three please make up your minds?"
Saber swung, and Iris and Kiritsugu could only stare in horror as their son neared Death.
Death nodded in satisfaction, leaving her pencil in place as a bookmark and standing up.
Light blazed in Shiro's hand. He could see it, as he had that morning– had it only been that morning?– when Archer's almost flippant words had given him the clue. He judged the object he was creating, the shining sword from his dreams. He saw the 'blueprint' for it, perfect in his mind. He poured power into the image, willing the material that made it into place. He saw the skill that had went into making the blade, saw the complexity of it. He took these aspects and furthered them, exceeded them, went beyond the masterful into the legendary…
The sword snapped into being in his hand. Automatically, he moved to block with it over the frantic screams of his parents…
No, he thought. It's not done yet. It's not perfect…
It was a weapon true, but he saw now that it was raw. It was as it was fresh from the forge, with none of what would make it legendary, with none of the power that made it strong. It needed… what? What did it need to be a perfect copy? He'd imitated everything about it, every dimension…
Saber's blade met his own.
No, that was wrong… not every dimension. After all, weren't there four?
The lightbulb went off in his head. Time. He needed to reproduce its time… its age… its experiences…
He overlaid this new aspect onto his creation, trying to imagine what the blade had gone through, the feel of it, tried to push it in with his magic. Blood. Battle. Death. Blood. Battle. Death. Blood. Battle. Death. A tree. A hand. Blood. Battle. Death. A stone. A girl. A king…
Something inside him clicked. Open. The blade in his hand snapped into focus, and it was no longer a pale, pretty thing. It had solidity. It had strength. It radiated age and power, as timeless as the mountains, as constant as the winds.
For the first time since it was broken, Caliburn truly returned into the world. And paradox was averted as the True Master of Noble Phantasm Unlimited Blade Works was born.
With a cry, Shiro deflected her strike, feeling the skills of all who had ever wielded the blade rushing to him. Arturia. Llenlleawg. Uther. Kay. Fergus mac Roich. Cadwr. Sigurd. Sigmund. Odin. Gilgamesh. Argentite. Dozens of others, their names slipping away from him. He heard its many names. Calabrun. Calabrum. Calibourne. Callibourc. Calliborc. Calibourch. Caledfwlch. Caliburnus. Caladbolg. Calesvol. Gram. Balmung. was no longer those things though. Now, it was Caliburn. He saw how it had been broken, so the moment it shattered in Arturia's hands, the time in the distant past it had been reforged by a man calling himself Wayland Smith, a strangely small and thin man for a blacksmith, who kinda looked like Shiro…
With a cry, Shiro attacked, the weapon a blur in his hands. He would never have to fear it would fail him again. He met Saber stroke for stroke, swing for swing, and he could see surprise in her golden eyes, emerging from whatever depths her true self was trapped. He anticipated her attacks, feeling her own remembered skills warning him, her own imprinted instincts predicting for him what she would do. He heard his father gasp, heard his mother say something that sounded suspiciously like, "But Shiro's a Butt Monkey Joke Character!", but he ignored it, focused on fighting Saber, of pressing the attack, of kil–
The world shuddered.
Death sighed, and opened her book again to resume her wait, deciding to work on the 4th column.
No, NOT KILL! This was Saber! He couldn't kill her! She was his… she was his… well, he wasn't quite sure at this point, but she was certainly his something! He had to–
Excalibur streaked for his neck, and Caliburn twisted in his hands, barely keeping it from decapitating him.
– he had to concentrate! But now that the thoughts had come out, they wouldn't stop. He was fighting SABER! He couldn't kill Saber! He was fairly certain there was something about it not being proper behavior for a Hero of Justice to kill someone he'd had sex with the night before.
He supposed he could try talking to her… but honestly, when had yelling at someone to come to their senses ever worked for anyone?
Somewhere, Amakawa Yuuto and the Mizuchi Shizuku sneezed.
Saber managed to cut his hand with the tip of Excalibur, drawing blood and causing Shiro to drop the weapon. He Traced without thought, replacing it in time to meet Saber's attack, tryingto keep up his momentum. His muscles burned, and he Reinforced them, blotting out the pain, giving himself more endurance.
He nearly stumbled, but recovered, although not in time to keep Saber from managing to give him a gash in the thigh. He kept her from taking the whole leg, but his retaliation was suddenly half-hearted. Saber's golden eyes looked at him pleadingly.
"…u-use the c-command seal… kill m-me…"
Shiro's blood ran cold. And in the next instant, Saber struck again, making it flow…
"Hey, pretty boy!" Illya cried as she charged Dark Lancer. "Forzare!" Pure force blasted Dark Lancer off his feet, allowing Kuro breathing room as she danced to her sister's side.
"Target locked," Miyu said calmly, sighting on her aiming crosshair. "Maximum energy concentration guided shot. GO!"
"Yes, ma'm!" Magical Sapphire cried, releasing the burst of energy. It flew. Dark Lancer tried to dodge, but with a flick of her wrist, Miyu sent it after him once more. It struck from above, bearing him to the ground.
"FRIGIDO RESTRICTUM!" Illya cried, ripping out the heat and using the cold to literally freeze him in place.
"Soft is my body, calling the fire in your blood…" Kuro intoned, summoning swords to drop and pierce him, locking him in.
"Now, Caster-san!" Miyu cried, getting out of the way.
Near the entrance, Caster gestured, activating the prepared spell. Her head still ached, making it hard to use High-Speed Divine Words, but normal non-divine words worked just as well, if a bit more slowly. "FRY!" she growled. Lightning ripped Dark Lancer apart.
"Heh," Kuro chirped, smirking. "All according to plan."
Illya twitched, remembering the details Kuro had kissed into her. Surprisingly however, she was right. "How…?"
"I have no idea," Kuro said cheerfully, making Illya long to strangle her even more than usual. "Ring, status?"
"Ring power at 21 percent," the ring said. "Cellular regeneration at 93 percent."
That was when they were attacked from behind.
Dark Lancer's vengeance was swift, as a barrage of kinetic energy struck. Shiro and Sakura broke off, Shiro barely managing to get within the range of his mother's protective barrier, while Sakura, Caster, Miyu and Illya made their own shields. Iris hugged Shiro, then smacked him on the head for being an idiot. Saber and Dark Berserker retreated to stand behind Dark Gilgamesh, their bodies interposed between the magi and the Kirei-thing, with Saber his most direct shield. Her hands shook slightly, and her trapped eyes looked like she was trying to force herself to turn and put and end to Kirei.
I'm impressed… you have managed to defeat these old memories of mine. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It is a new age of self-proclaimed 'heroes', after all.
Kuro replied with a long string of profanity that made everyone, even Caster, Assassin and Rider, blush. It sounded like it was from a lot of languages.
Be that as it may, you have been all very instructive. The next batch shall be better made…
There was no dark fluid this time. Instead, the surface of the mass convulsed, and six large pods fell out like eggs. They shuddered, peeling apart as if the inside. Forms arose.
"Twice in one day?" Kuro said from where she was under Illya, who had tackled her so that Miyu could cover them with her shield. "Really? Doesn't that violate some kind of villain code?" A beat. "You feel nice on top like that." Illya smacked her. "Ooh, punishment game!" Miyu smacked her. "Yay! Threesome!"
Rider and Caster tensed as they saw doubles of themselves rise. They were again identical copies in black with red lines on their bodies. Rin felt ice grip her heart as the duplicate of Archer rose, eyes narrowed and merciless, with none of the sarcasm and mockery she'd grown to know. The new Dark Lancer stood as well. Luvia gripped the arm with her Command Seals.
"This just really isn't my day!" Assassin groaned as Dark Assassin stepped into view. "I really hate the evil-twin thing!"
The last pod opened. Illya had expected a copy of her Berserker, with its helm, cloak and armor. Instead…
She blinked. "Isn't that the thing we fought when we collected the last Class Card?"
Caster paled. "Great Hecate…" she swore. "Herakles…"
It roared, and they felt the vibration in their bones.
"Huh–?" Kuro began before the ring helpfully informed her. "Oh, (Bleep)."
The nine stood arrayed in front of them, Saber in the middle. Shiro stared at her in wide-eyed concern, fists tightening and loosening.
Now, let's try this again… KILL THEM! Do it slowly. Make it painful. Make them scream…
Slowly, the fakes and Saber strode forward.
"Right, here's the plan…" Kuro began, but Luvia acted first.
"Lancer!" she cried, activating on of her Command Seals.
"Gilgamesh!" Miyu cried, using up her only Command.
Illya opened her mouth to call out to Berserker, but Kuro slapped a hand over her mouth. "No!" the dark-skinned girl cried. "Not yet!"
As light glowed from the ground and the two Servants were summoned from wherever they'd been, Illya ripped off her hand, turning to glare at Kuro. Kuro looked at her pleadingly. "Please Illya, I know I probably don't deserve it, but please, just this once, TRUST ME! Don't call Berserker yet…"
"Huh…" Lancer said, wiping some dark dust off his shoulder as he finally materialized, raising an eyebrow at the assembled nine. "What have you been up to Master? I'm gone for a little while and you–"
"NO!" cried Gilgamesh, enraged. He rounded on Miyu, and the girl stumbled back at the look of barely suppressed murder in his eyes. "What have you DONE girl? Send me back! Her Majesty needs me! Send me back!"
"Sailor Moon can take care of herself!" Kuro and Sakura snapped in synch. Gilgamesh rounded on them.
"Princess Serenity would not thank you for abandoning people in need merely to rush to her side," Sakura said coolly.
"What would your brother think?" Kuro said, twisting the knife. "Jadeite would be so disappointed in you…"
Everyone was treated to an expression those who knew him had never thought to see on Gilgamesh's face: conflicted pain.
Well… I never thought I'd ever see that on that arrogant asshole's face.
Pain quickly turned to righteous, seething anger. "KIREI!" Gilgamesh roared. "DIE! GATE OF BABYLON!-!-!-!-!"
The air behind him rippled, weapons beginning to protrude.
"Gefangnis der Magie!" Sakura cried in ancient Belkan, a pulse emanated through her, and the world seemed to lurch as the world took on a sort of purplish filer look.
"Rin, be ready to take action!" Kuro cried. "Trace, on! RULEBREAKER!"
Kuro spun, charging at Assassin. The taller man stepped back in surprise, but it was too late. The strange-looking, color-shifting blade buried itself in his chest.
"Kuro!" Rin cried as Assassin stared down at his chest in surprise, as if unable to comprehend the fact he'd been stabbed. His knees folded up, and he collapsed.
"Ring Power at 19 percent," the ring said. "Cellular regeneration and organ replacement at 100 percent. Heart regeneration complete. Disengaging Akashic connection. Please proceed with the next phase of the plan. Destiny Awaits."
There was a ripple, and Kuro's clothes changed, turning back to red and black as the ring on her finger seemed to dim. She blinked, shaking her head in confusion, trying to grasp all that she had known in the short time she wore the ring. Nothing. There were images committed to memory, but they were memories of memories, as if she was remembering herself remember. Still, a few things stuck. In her mind, the image of Callandor sparkled.
Then she blinked again, staring down at Assassin. "What did I just do?" she said in muted horror.
"Oh, now she asks," Assassin complained in a pained voice.
"Girl–!" Caster growled.
Sakura moved to intervene.
Gilgamesh attacked, his weapons streaking towards the enemy, who scattered.
"No!" Shiro cried, tackling the gold-armored Servant. "You'll hit Saber! That's the REAL Saber over there!"
Gilgamesh backhanded him, whirling around to face the enemy again.
Dark Berserker stepped forward, catching one of the fired weapons. Gilgamesh paled, remembering what had happened the last time.
"SHUNDO!" Sakura cried, flickering from view, only to reappear before Dark Berserker. Dark energy crackled around her fist. "Schwarze Wirkung!"
The fist struck, throwing Dark Berserker back.
Lancer charged, meeting Dark Archer. He grinned at the fake. "So much stress to work off," he said, attacking viciously. "YOU WEREN'T AS FUNNY AS YOU THOUGHT!"
The air rang with impact as Saber and Shiro met again, their swords clashing against one another. Rider charged Dark Lancer, evading his spear as her own weapons lashed out, making use of her speed. Gilgamesh found himself in a frustrating battle of attrition with his duplicate, their weapons streaming out fast and hot. Weapons soon began to be strewn across the courtyard, and it was all Sakura could do to keep her opponent away from them.
Illya and Miyu charged Dark Herakles, thinking they knew what to expect. It came at them as quickly as they remembered in their memories and nightmares, but they were ready, dodging out of the way, trying to lure it away from the others. Caster found herself alone, facing her duplicate and Assassin's, both of whom were powering up their spells. The three struck, and soon the air was charged with warring energies, and it was all Caster could do to keep her allies from being fried, never mind actively attacking. Kuro charged Dark Rider head on, tearing apart the ground, sending dust everywhere and doing everything she could to keep Dark Rider from using her mystic eyes.
Rin, Luvia, Kiritsugu, Iris, and Assassin watched on.
"I feel so irrelevant," Kiritsugu said.
"Why do I even bother coming along?" Luvia said.
Iris sniffed. "Our boy's going to grow up to be such a badass if he survives this." She wiped away a tear.
"This is crap," Assassin complained. "This is almost as bad as being shot in the chest!"
Rin growled as she tried to patch up the Servant, but it was no good. "What the hell did Kuro think she was doing?" she growled. Without a connection to the world, which Kuro had broken, he was being erased as an abnormality in creation. He needed… he needed…
Another lightbulb went off.
Slowly, Rin raised her hand as the Servant, bleeding and in pain, began to fade away. Her command spells began to glow. "Let thy body rest under my dominion, let my fate rest in thy blade…"
Assassin looked up, surprised.
Rin continued the aria. "If thou submittest to the call of the Holy Grail and if thou wilt obey this mind, this reason, then thou shalt respond…"
Kuro was just getting tired when it happened.
"Contract complete! Go, Assassin!"
"Noble Phantasm! SUE!"
The very air warped and twisted as, in a haze of prana mutilated to unrecognizability, a Zombie Tyrannosaurus Rex materialized out of the air. Assassin moved, faster than Kuro had ever seen him, climbing quickly on the creature's back, and pointing with his staff. "MUNCH!"
Sue leapt, evading the others as it landed in front of Dark Rider, who stumbled at the sudden shockwave of the landing, falling on her ass. The fake frantically tried to rip off its blindfold. Sue's head descended, mouth open wide.
The teeth and mouth turned to stone. All that did was crush Dark Rider and tear her to bits as the gigantic maw closed, the stone parts sloughing off to be replaced by fresh ectoplasm.
"Oh, yeah!" Assassin cried, exultant. "Now, let's see what I can REALLY do!"
With a roar, the zombie dinosaur charged at Dark Herakles, head swinging to send the over nine-feet tall brute flying across the courtyard. Roaring, Assassin and Sue raced after him. The sounds of breaking trees and battle quickly rose.
Kuro spun, realizing there was no one guarding the corrupted Kirei-thing Grail. "Trace, on!" she cried, back bow appearing. Hrunting materialized, and it took her a second to nock the sword properly. She aimed.
The Grail-thing heaved, and pustules erupted on the side facing her, releasing a barrage of kinetic blasts. She ignored them and fired. The air cracked like someone had just torn apart a mountain as the arrow accelerated to mach ten. It pierced through the wall of kinetic energy without slowing down one bit, slamming hard into the dark mass about a foot to Kirei-thing's side.
The wall of force slammed brutally into Kuro, and she went flying. She tumbled along the ground, which began to be smeared with blood as her skin was torn by the impact. She landed gasping, clutching at her chest. Benath what intact skin there was, little triangular shapes began to wiggle. She could feel her breastbone had cracked, and maybe her ribs too.
"Darn it," she managed to gasp, obviously in extreme agony. "I'd just gotten that area patched up!"
Kirei-thing stared hole so close next to him.
After all that, you missed?
The contempt was obvious.
Kuroforced herself to grin. "Actually," she panted as her parents ran to her. "I didn't."
Her fingers were bare.
"Now," said Caster to her companion. "It's time."
Shiro was feeling weaker. Strength seemed to be sapping itself from his body, more than fighting Saber and Tracing could account for. It was many precious minutes, caught up in the whirl of battle, before he realized, with dawning horror, the reason why.
Saber was still connected to him using up his prana. When she'd had herown mind, she'd been disciplined about it, but now…
His revelation must have showed in his face, because Saber's golden eyes became sadder in confirmation.
His mind thought frantically, but it was already all he could do to keep from getting killed, much less try and subdue Saber. He realized she was biding her time, waiting for them both to weaken. Or rather, whatever infection afflicting her was. All it would take was her Noble Phantasm. If they were both weak enough, one use of it would kill her, him and anyone it was aimed at.
NO! he cried in his mind, trying to pull back his prana, but he was inexperienced, and it had already been all he could do to give it to her already. But still… NO! I refuse to end it like this! A Hero of Justice saves everyone! He does! He must! Or else… Could there be… no such thing?
Oh, for pity's sake Shiro, don't get all mopey on me!
Shiro stumbled in shock, but he remembered from the last time this had happened and turned it into a roll, trying to sweep Saber's feet out from under her with her leg. She evaded, trying to remove his extremity, but by this time he had maneuvered Caliburn to guard, pushing hard with one leg to get himself upright again, pushing the attack. That hadn't been his imagination! There had been a voice in his head! And it had sounded like…
Move so you can threaten her left side and get her to move three steps to the right! Hurry!
No, it was impossible! But…
The voice came again, softer now. Even Heroes of Justice are saved by other heroes.
Shiro lunged, swept, danced frantically, attacking, attacking, attacking recklessly, ignoring his defense and suffering for it as his bicep, his side, his thigh was cut. One step…
The mass was thick. It vibrated with the pulsations of its inner workings, of the vibrations caused by Sue and Dark Herakles in battle, of the Casters throwing around mountain-crushing forces. It was in constant movement, and Kirei thing ignored it, even though it was a part of him now.
Still, even he paused when he thought he heard words. Frowning he concentrated, leaning closer. It sounded like it was coming from… inside the mass?
"–iro of Earth," the voice was saying. "LIVE! Destiny Awaits."
Kirei-thing blinked in confusion.
"Trace, on," a muffled voice from inside the mass said. "Rulebreaker II."
Something burst from the mass, streaking through the air. It slammed hard into Saber's back, slamming her forward into Shiro.
Kirei-thing felt his connection her break.
And then something else erupted from inside the mass…
"Saber!" Shiro cried, instinctively dropping Caliburn as he caught her, the two of them falling to thier knees. "Saber!" He stared in horror at the blade sticking out of her back, and reached own to grab it.
He touched it, and realized he could feel the thing, was aware of as if he had analyzed it minutely. What…?
"Shiro," Saber's voice said, and he remembered himself, realizing Saber was still under enemy control. He pushed her back, despite every instinct yelling at him not to, that he needed to protect her, and prepared to Trace Caliburn again.
Their eyes met. Her eyes, her wide, beautiful eyes, were still shining, burnished gold. But the soul behind them was her, free and true. She smiled, a confused smile, and he knew it was her. But…
The drain on his prana was gone. Their connection had been severed.
"S-Saber?" he said. He reached for her face, touched it gently.
"It's really me," she said, sounding dazed. "Shiro, our link…"
"It's all right," Shiro said. "As long as you free…"
Their faces inched closer together…
"You know, I'm in favor of hot and heavy making out as much as the next man, especially if Rin joins in and makes this a threesome, but isn't a middle of a battlefield in a temple kind of inappropriate and Kuro-esque?"
Their heads snapped to the side, staring at the source of the voice. They gasped.
A figure clad in black and white stood there, arm crossed, a shining white bow held idly in one hand. He was smiling down on them, expression amused at the indiscretions of youth, eyes twinkling in a manner positively stolen from Albus Dumbledore. He seemed kind of pale and washed out, and Shiro was surprise to note that he could see slightly through the man, as if he was a bit transparent. When he moved, there was a little blurring, like afterimages on a cheap camera.
"A…" Shiro said, unable to articulate. "A…"
"ARCHER?-!-?-!-?-!-?-!-?-!-?-!-?-!" Rin's outraged cry echoed through the whole courtyard.
Archer waved lazily. "Yo, boss. Replaced me already, I see. How fickle you are! My corpse isn't even in the ground yet!"
Rin threw a rock at him, which bounced off his head. He didn't even flinch.
"H…" Shiro was still trying to wrap his head around this. "H=how…?"
Archer smiled, raising a finger to his lips. "Ah, that would be telling. Allow this Hero of Justice his few secrets. Are you two going to make out down there all day?"
They blushed, pushing away from each other and embarrassedly getting to their feet. Saber picked up her sword. Her body had not yet reverted. Except for the expression in her golden eyes, everything else was still the same.
"Get your Master somewhere he won't trip over himself," Archer ordered, turning turing to dash towards the fallen Kuro. Lancer was trying to keep Dark Archer away from her, if just barely. Gilgamesh and Caster had joined forces, and were managing to keep their duplicates and Dark Assassin back, faces set in grim determination as they stood back to back, launching their respective attacks.
Kiritsugu and Iris looked up as Archer knelt next to Kuro. "Hello, little sister," he said softly.
Kuro smiled. "You," she croaked. "I know you, now. I saw it. A hill of swords. The Pactio Card. I remember. The ring took the rest with it went it left, but I didn't forget that, onii-chan…"
Archer smiled. The two were in their own little world. "You'll have to get us there, one day."
She tried to nod, and winced.
"Trace, on," Archer intoned. "Avalon." A shining, golden sheath appeared in his hands. he touched it to Kuro, and it dissolved in a blaze of light, entering her. Her breathing became easier. "Better?"
She nodded. "A little. Tell me one thing," she said, no longer croaking. "Does it ever happen? With us? Do I ever… with her?" Archer smiled, and his head moved imperceptibly, the movement undetectable to one without their eyes. Kuro smiled back. Then she grinned. "Time to kick ass!" she cried as she struggled to her feet.
"Let's get dangerous," Archer agreed, helping her up. They faced the battle.
"Mom, dad," Kuro said, "You better step back."
Archer drew a card from the folds of his clothes as Kiritsugu and Iris retreated. "Adeat!" The card shifted, changing into an artifact that snapped into the slot on the protector on his left forearm. "Ladies first."
Kuro threw back her head proudly, crying her aria to the skies. "I call for the bone in your sword!"
"I am the bone of my sword…" Archer chanted.
Kuro sang. "Soft is my body, calling the fire in your blood!"
"Steel is my body, and fire is my blood," Archer swore.
"I have created over a thousand lolicons!"
"I have created over a thousand blades."
"Unknown to thermodynamics, regardless of physics–"
"Unaware of loss. Nor aware of gain."
"I screw reality with my Freudian blades!
"Withstood pain to create many weapons."
"For my flesh burns with unfulfilled desire!
"I have no regrets, this is the only path of a hero. "
Kuro thrust her arms into the sky as fire appeared around them. "And thus I sublimate…"
Archer held a fist to his heart, smiling softly. "My whole life was…"
"UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS!"
The world exploded in fire and swords…
- To be continued...
A/N: Didn't see that coming, did you?
Shiro has finally taken enough levels in Badass to qualify for the Hero Of Justice Prestige Class. Finally, he can get serious.
This doesn't mean the mockery stops though. Where's the fun in that?
Check out the Sinestro-Corps Fate and Star Sapphire Tomoyo pictures on my Deviant Art page. Link is the homepage button on my profile.
Multiple exclamation marks. Surely the sign of a highly disturbed mind…
Please review, C&C welcome.
Until next time, this is Shadow, signing off.