Once upon a time in Fuyuki, there was a (reluctantly) newly christened champion of (death) love and (destruction) justice, pretty magical girl Kaleido-Ruby!
"Spreading the flames of LOVE to all evildoers! BURN! HAHAHAHAHA! Isn't love so pretty when it burns this hot? Go! Sparkling Prismatic - *Pssshhh* ... Eh? What am I... !"
"Time over already? Don't worry master! Magical Ruby-chan will- "DIE DIE DIE YOU STUPID STICK!" - ghwack!"
... Or at least there was for a short while. *The scenes of wand abuse that follow are unsuitable for the viewing of magical audiences below the age of eighteen.*
"Master, you really shouldn't - *KWANG* - this really - *CRUNCH* - hey! Ruby-chan is a delicate - *SMASH* - ring-a-round the roooosies... *KLANG* - help! Wand abuse!"
"Hah, hah, hah..." Rin Tohsaka, head of the Tohsaka family of magi at the tender age of twelve, breathed heavily as she glared at the offensive item in her hands. "... Shut up and break already you cursed thing!"
In another universe Rin would have retained enough sanity to avoid what came next, but in a multi-verse where almost anything was possible. The tragedy that followed was but one out of an infinite number of outcomes to this fiasco.
"You know master," the disaster in wand form said seriously, making Rin stop for a moment to listen.
Only to completely flip the next moment.
"Black lace panties? At your age? No, no, no! Magical Ruby-chan cannot permit this travesty! Magical girl = striped panties! Kaleido Prism Power Make-... Master? Rin-chan? Ruby-chan wonders why she sees a demonic aura behind you!"
"... Burn in the deepest pits of hell you PERVERTED PIECE OF JUNK!"
"Magical Ruby-chan! Fly, fly, fly awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" the wand shrieked out as Rin threw it towards the horizon at near terminal velocity.
Unfortunately for humanity, Rin was not born on the planet where the shiny green stones come from, and her greatest efforts were only sufficient to propel the cursed item a mere two hundred metres from her location.
Which was still enough to change the course of destiny.
Emiya Shirou was a simple lad with just one secret. He was a half-baked mage! Right now he could only use the simple reinforcement and projection that Kiritsugu had taught him, but he was sure that in a few years time he would be a great mage like Kiritsugu had been. Just another step on the road to becoming a champion of justice like he had promised.
"OOOOH! Sympathetic brain waves detected~!"
"Huh?" Shirou looked up in the midst of analysing the latest piece of junk that Fuji-nee had brought in. Who was that? And why was whoever it was coming closer and closer?
Curious, he was about to stand up and look out when the answer came flying through the shed window. Whatever it was, it was hard and had been travelling fast enough that his nose started bleeding after it hit him.
A drop of blood dripped onto the pink and gold thing that had hit him, and Shirou was startled when the stick suddenly stood up by itself and began to shout.
"An innocent young lad just started on the road to becoming a hero! Developing his skills in order to fight for JUSTICE around the world! Ruby-chan is so happy to have found someone like you!"
"Hwah?" Shirou blinked. How did this thing know what his dream was... Wait a minute! How was this thing even talking in the first place?
"Don't be afraid Emiya-kun! Ruby-chan was created to help girls become what they dream of! You will be a hero(ine) in no time!" The thing that Shirou now recognised as some kind of magical item continued to speak without any regards to the shock that he felt. "Magical Ruby! Kaleido Prism Power Total Make-over! Begin!"
It was then that Shirou's mind finally processed what the stick had said a moment ago.
"Wait! What do you mean you were made to help 'girls' become what they dream of?" Shirou said in a panic as he tried to throw away the wand which had found itself into his hand somehow. "... Huh? Why can't I let go?"
"Hu hu hu! Magical Ruby-chan isn't about to let go of another master so easily!" Ruby-chan cackled evilly as a shower of multi-coloured lights began to fall down around Shirou. "Don't worry about it Emiya-kun! If you are going to fight for love and justice it's only natural to be a magical girl!"
"But I'm a booooy!" was Shirou's last protest before the rainbow lights swamped him. Ruby's only response to the plaintive cry was to giggle like a mad clown as she waited for the transformation to begin in earnest.
Five days later, Kotomine Kirei cursed the name of Kishua Zelretch Schweinorg as he worked to modify the last batch of minds that had borne witness to the disaster that his charge had helped set loose upon an unprepared world. The madness that was the Kaleido-stick had caused the destruction of three city blocks and property damage in the high millions before it could be sealed to the cry of 'Ruby-chan will be baaaack~!'. Cleaning up the mess had involved wiping the memories of hundreds of people and the dispatch of two clean-up teams from the Association. There was also the high possibility that the incident would be used as an excuse by many in the Clock Tower to try and confiscate this land from the Tohsakas, something that he couldn't allow yet. Amazingly enough there had been no loss of life, but even so... He was getting a headache just thinking of all the paper-work he was going to have to get through in order to cover this up. On the other hand, at least he didn't need to worry about finding the money for bribes and damages. Gilgamesh's Golden Rule brought in enough cash for the main part, and any extra as was needed could be taken from the Tohsaka estate that he was caretaker of.
Sending yet another mind back to sleep, Kirei turned his thoughts towards the central figure of this disaster. One Emiya Shirou, formerly male, now female and all of twelve years old. An investigation had revealed that he was a very lucky child. A survivor of the blaze that had gutted the city four years ago, an escapee from the fate that Kirei had arranged for his fellow survivors, and adopted by Emiya Kiritsugu of all people. It was also possible to argue that he had come out very well this time as well. A body that had undergone a transformation through the Second True Magic, with twenty seven magic circuits that had operational capacities that dwarfed even those of a once in a generation blessed body like Rin's. If Kirei hadn't noticed the name and taken steps to hide him/her, Emiya Shirou would even now be on a dissection table somewhere as mages took him apart in their search for the Root.
Kirei hoped that the child had inherited his/her adopted parent's abnormal sense of justice. Four years ago his encounter with Emiya Kiritsugu had ended in disappointment, and it would be entertaining to help grow a similar dream in the child and watch as his/her ideals betrayed him/her. Even if it wasn't so, the child was an interesting subject for him. A boy turned girl, but still with the mind of a boy. A perfect subject for mental torture and humiliation. He would have to keep a watch over the child of course. The Association could not find out about him/her, and as a servant of God he couldn't let a poor confused lamb deal with a strange new world by himself/herself now, could he?
An unpleasant grin stretched Kirei's lips as he began to replace memories with nightmares in the last of the last people who needed to be taken care of. A little girl who knew next to nothing about how those of her sex behaved, with no suitable clothes or worldly possessions to speak of. Yes, these next few years were going to be very amusing indeed.
Fate/Stay Night - Prismatic Chaos
1 - 1
A lazy afternoon, with a warm sun overhead countering the chill of the early winter air. At Homurabara High School the students were just beginning to leave the building with the end of classes for the day.
"Kirika-chan, can you take my place in the clean-up roster today?" one girl asked another as everyone hurried to pack their bags in order to leave. "I promised some of my friends that I would meet them after school today and I totally forgot about it."
The doll-like girl that had been approached for help smiled apologetically. A bit short for her age, but with a body proportion that put models to shame, it was not surprising that a lot of male eyes were on her as she shrugged. The motion also made her vibrant copper hair catch the sun's light, the warm metallic color well accentuating her honey colored eyes.
"Sorry, I would take your place Hongou-san," she said softly. "But, Rin has been needling me lately about me always being late..."
"Please Kirika-chan?" Hongou pressed her classmate. "It's a really important meeting for me."
Kirika's smile faltered as Hongou bowed her head. "Uhm..."
Hongou crept a little closer, getting close enough that Kirika whose personal space was a bit wider than other girls began to feel a bit uncomfortable. "Kirika-chan, just this once? I'm sure that Tohsaka-san would understand if you were a little late."
Unable to refuse the determined girl, Kirika sighed and gave in. "Okay Hongou-san. Go ahead. I suppose Rin wouldn't mind me staying back - "What wouldn't I mind Kirika-chan?" - a while. Oh, hey Rin."
The two girls turned to find a textbook example of an Oriental beauty behind them, her out-of-place cerulean eyes looking at them disapprovingly. Tohsaka Rin, the idol of the school, manager and guardian of one Emiya Kirika. Though her face wore an angelic smile, the object of her attention couldn't help but feel like a frog under the glare of a snake about to strike.
"Good, good afternoon Tohsaka-san," Hongou stuttered. Now that Tohsaka was here she knew that she was going to have to cancel her plans.
"Good afternoon to you Hongou-san," Rin said with the angelic smile still on her face. "Do you mind coming with me for a second? We need to have a little chat."
Kirika winced and looked out the window as Rin half led, half dragged the reluctant girl out of the class. The few students who were still left reacted in much the same manner, except for some girls who offered a quick prayer for Hongou's continued health.
Tohsaka Rin, Miss Perfect, the object of admiration throughout the school for her unblemished academic record and athletic ability. Or at least that had been her image until the beginning of her second year. A few weeks in, Rin finally became fed up with the abuse of Kirika's generous personality by her fellow students and revealed a temper that only two people had known she had. These days she was referred to around the hallways of the school as the 'Scarlet Devil' just as commonly as she was called 'Miss Perfect'. Her actions had also provoked the rumour mills as to the exact nature of the relationship between the two girls, but regardless of such fanciful stories, it was commonly known that to try and take advantage of Kirika was to risk the wrath of the Scarlet Devil.
"Come on Kirika-chan, time to go home." Rin said cheerfully as she came back into the classroom a few minutes later. Hongou was nowhere to be seen but Kirika tried not to let that bother her. The last time she had asked about the fate of those that Rin led away, she had been subjected to Rin's terrifyingly innocent smile and the question, 'do you really want to know?'
Some things were just better left untouched.
Many of the students bid the pair good day as they headed home. Both of them were famous around the school in their own right, for their looks as well as their behaviour during these two years that they had spent in high school. Nothing further needed to be said about Rin, but Kirika was known amongst the students as 'Homurabara's Browny' and 'Belldandy v.2.0.' after the famous manga character. She had other nicknames as well, not as nice as the ones before. 'The idiot with the toolkit' was one after her tendency to do anything that was asked of her including repairs of equipment around the school, 'Miss Naivete' was another popular title, especially amongst the female population of the school who didn't know whether to be relieved or exasperated by Kirika's total obliviousness to romance.
"Emiya, Tohsaka," a familiar voice called out to them as the two exited the main building. "Going straight home again?"
"Mitsuzuri? Shouldn't you be getting changed by now?" Rin asked as Kirika greeted their mutual friend.
"Fujimura sensei is in there so it doesn't matter if I am a few minutes late today," Mitsuzuri Ayako replied with an overly friendly smile as she came up to them.
"Getting lax with your duties as a captain are we Mitsuzuri?" Rin crossed her arms and took a step to the side to come between Ayako and Kirika. "Pity, I expected you to show more responsibility than that."
Ayako clicked her tongue as she was foiled in her approach. "Oh but I am showing responsibility Tohsaka. It's the captain's job to make sure that wayward members attend isn't it?"
"Hmm? I don't see any of your club members here Mitsuzuri," Rin said with the beginnings of another angelic smile on her face.
"Finally going blind are we? She's standing right behind you," Ayako said in reply.
"I never recall giving Kirika permission to join the Archery club," Rin mused whimsically.
"I don't recall you ever getting control over Emiya's personal life Tohsaka," Ayako replied with a grin.
"Eh? Eh?" Caught in between her friends, Kirika was looking between one and the other without a clue as to what she should say or do.
"We are busy today so give up Mitsuzuri," Rin announced. "Judging from past experience, you probably need to go and fetch seaweed head anyway."
"... It hurts that I can't deny that," Ayako groaned as she remembered what she had come out to do before she caught sight of the two.
"Bye Mitsuzuri!" Rin said with a cheerful wave as she began to drag Kirika out towards the gate.
Giving up for the day Ayako smiled and waved back. "Bye you two. Emiya, just forget about what Rin says and come out to the dojo once in a while. You are welcome at any time okay?"
"Maybe someday," Kirika was able to answer before she got too far off to talk without shouting.
As soon as they were far enough away from the school that there were no other people to overhear, Rin took down the facade of a perfect student that she wore in public and looked at Kirika with accusing eyes.
"What? What is it Rin?" asked Kirika, flustered by the way Rin was acting. She couldn't recall doing anything wrong, so she had no idea why Rin was looking at her like this.
"Kiri~ka," Rin sang in a light voice. "How many times have I told you not to fall for the next sob story you hear?"
"Oh, that," Kirika chuckled nervously as she tried not to meet Rin's eyes. "I was just trying to help."
"That's what you say every time," Rin said in a frustrated voice. "You are a mage, not some kind of good samaritan. You need to start getting used to the idea of equivalent exchange soon or you are going to have a lot of problems once you start working."
"..." Kirika visibly drooped. "But I don't have any talent as a mage. Even Kirei said so, that I would be better off as a magic user. Can't I just do what I want to do and help people out?"
"Kirika..." Rin frowned at Kirika's lack of motivation. "Don't pay attention to what that pseudo-priest says. You are my apprentice, and no one taught by a member of the Tohsaka family is going to end up as some amateur magic user." Under her breath Rin added something about not letting that much power be wasted. "You can help people out too. It's just that you need to start grasping the idea of getting something back for your help."
Kirika looked puzzled. "... But you aren't supposed to ask for payment when you help people."
"Ugh," Rin palmed her face as the usual headache that came with any discussion of Kirika's annoying habit began to make its presence known. "You... Never mind Kirika. It's not as if we can repair that broken down personality of yours in a few days after the years we've spent on it."
"... ?" It was clear that Kirika couldn't connect the dots here.
Rin sighed. It was hard looking after an apprentice as oblivious to her faults as Kirika was. Better to just ignore the issue and focus on the work she was going to have to do tonight.
"... Rin. Do we have to do this?"
"It's the easiest way Kirika. Or do you want me to 'violate' you again?"
"... I think this will do just fine."
"Good, now shut up and close your eyes already."
In a basement beneath the Tohsaka manor, two girls were kneeling in front of each other with a simply adorned dagger beside them. Kirika had her eyes closed and had a nervous air about her, a mental state shared by Rin though to a lesser degree. Taking a deep breath, Rin put something in her mouth and leant forward. Then, in an act that would have stunned the entire school if anyone found out about it, she covered Kirika's soft lips with her own.
"Mmph!" Kirika whimpered softly and jumped as contact was made.
Rin drew back a little and opened her eyes. "Stay still," she said awkwardly before she resumed the kiss. Raven black veiled copper brown as Rin's hair fell down to frame Kirika's face.
Cheeks red with embarassment and hints of other emotions, Kirika's eyes flew wide open as a foreign presence invaded her mouth. She would have drawn back, but this time Rin was prepared and held her steadfast against herself in a lover's embrace. The kiss continued for a long brief moment, and Kirika moaned as Rin forced her lips slightly open and passed her fluids through.
Then, finally, it was over. Freed from Rin's hold upon her, Kirika collapsed and let out a moan that was half of pleasure and half pain as something connected inside her, the unfamiliar energy burning her body inside and out as her circuits reacted to the intrusion. For herself, Rin had turned away and was crouched down with her head upon her knees. Her posture made it impossible to see her face, but from the way that even her neck was red it was entirely possible that she was blushing fiercely.
"Hah, hah, hah, hah," Taking heavy breaths, Kirika finally recovered enough energy to speak. "I ask again, hah, did we really have to do it this way?"
"It's not as if I wanted to do this either, but any other way would have been painful for you and the pass wouldn't have been as strong, and I suppose it wasn't that unpleasant, but that was my first... Wait what am I saying, this was just us connecting a pass. It doesn't count. It can't count. I can't have just given my first kiss to another girl, even if her lips were so soft...," Rin mumbled incoherently as she rocked back and forth.
"Say again?" Kirika asked innocently. She couldn't hear anything of what Rin was saying.
"Ahhhh! What am I saying?" Rin suddenly screamed out loud and then surprised her by leaping up and grasping her by the collar of her shirt. "That was just us connecting a pass. Do you understand Kirika? We just connected a pass in order to share prana. It does not count as anything else. Alright?"
Frozen by the force behind Rin's words, Kirika could only nod instinctively in order to avoid the death that was promised by those frosty blue eyes should she do anything else.
Satisfied, Rin let go, and Kirika fell back down. "Start preparing the summoning circle when you have recovered then Kirika. I will help once I've finished getting everything ready."
"Okay," Kirika replied as she tried to get back up to her feet, only to collapse as her legs refused to work properly. "Ah... This might take a while."
Rin nodded absently as she dug out a small box from amidst a pile of containers holding everything required for the summoning ritual. "Your circuits are fused with your nerves like Kirei told you before, so you might be a little unsteady until your body gets used to the pass being there. Just sit tight until you recover."
Kirika accepted the explanation and sat there quietly as Rin proceeded to get this and that and rearrange it all for easy access. A few minutes went by this way before she felt that she could stand up again.
"That felt strange," she complained to Rin as she got to her feet. "Kind of like that time I nearly burnt out my circuits that first year."
"Don't remind me," Rin grumbled. "I still get nervous when I think about that. Do you know how worried I was when I realised that your circuits were out of control? Geez, you know you could have died then."
"Hee hee, thanks Rin," Kirika chuckled. "No need to worry anymore though. My control has improved a lot since then."
"Thank goodness," Rin mumbled as she embedded an Amethyst on one of the polar points in the circle that had been sketched out on the floor.
"But you know Rin," Kirika said with a small frown marring her brow. "Don't you have enough prana for the ritual already?"
"It never hurts to have more," Rin shrugged. "Besides, it's not as if you don't have any to spare. Your circuits are always overflowing with more prana than you can use."
Kirika sighed. "Even so Rin, that was my first -"
Kirika was interrupted by Rin's shrill shriek. "That wasn't a kiss! We were just connecting a pass okay? It was a ritual! Not a kiss! I can't have given my first kiss to another girl! I can't have!"
"Eh? Rin? Calm down!" Kirika attempted to soothe Rin's temper, but it was already too late.
"It was my first kiss too you idiot!" Rin shouted as the crest of the Tohsaka family began to glow with a bright blue light.
An explosion rocked the house, and smoke began to stream out from the shattered windows that looked into the basement.
The clock struck 2, an hour of the night when most humans would be asleep.
"Das Material ist aus Silber und Eisen."
Ye first, O silver, O iron
In the basement of the Tohsaka mansion however, two young women stood in and around a circle that glowed with a bright red light.
"Der Grundstein ist aus Stein und dem Gro?erzog des Vertrag.
O stone of the foundation, O Archduke of the Contract
Der Ahn ist mein gro?r Meister Schweinorg."
Hear me in the name of our great teacher, the Archmagus Schweinorg
On the edge of the circle, Kirika squinted as the light from the circle grew brighter, fuelled by the prana being pulled out of both herself and the gems that Rin had saved for this day.
" Schutz gegen einen heftigen Wind.
Let the descending winds be as a wall
Schlie?alle Tore, geh aus der Krone, zirkulier die Gabelung nach dem K?ig.
Let the gates in all directions be shut, rising above the crown, and let the three-forked roads to the Kingdom revolve.
F?l, f?l, f?l, f?l, f?l.
Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut.
Es wird f?fmal wiederholt.
Five perfections for each repetition.
Nur ist es die volle Zeit gebrochen.
And now, let the filled sigils be annihilated in my stead!
Red was joined by a spectrum of other colours in the circle, a sign that the gems embedded into its structure were releasing and transforming the prana as they were meant to. The strain grew as Rin exhausted her own reserves and actively began to pull prana through the pass that had been created earlier. It was an uncomfortable feeling, much like having a raw electric current run through your body, but Kirika bore it without so much as a whisper. Compared to the circuit forging she did every day the pain was still bearable. She worried instead for Rin who had to handle all that power. One mistake here and it was unlikely that she would survive.
Du ?berläßt alles mir, mein Schicksal ?berläßt alles deinem Schwert.
Let thy body rest under my dominion, let my fate rest in thy blade.
Das basiert auf dem Gral, antwort wenn du diesem Willen und diesem Vernunftgrund folgst.
If thou submittest to the call of the Holy Grail and if thou wilt obey this mind, this reason, then thou shalt respond.
A final flaring of light, a pure white luminescence created by the union of the radiation from the various gems around the circle. Magnificient, that was the only way to describe it. Kirika knew very well that a ritual of this level was far beyond her crude skills, and she grinned wryly as she closed her eyes to protect her sight.
Rin's voice picked up as she entered into the final, crucial stage of the summoning. Kirika could feel that they were both at their limits, but Rin continued to pour prana into the circle without hesitation. All to overcome the barriers between this world and the next, putting everything on the line in order to obtain the greatest reward.
"Liegt das Gel?bde hier.
I make my oath here.
Ich bin die G?te der ganzen Welt.
I am that person who is to become the virtue of all Heavens.
Ich bin das B?se der ganzen Welt.
I am that person who is covered with the evil of all Hades.
Du bist der Himmel mit dreien Wortseelen.
Thou seven heavens, clad in a trinity of words,
Komm, aus dem Kreis der Unterdr?ckung, der Schutzgeist der Balkenwaage－!"
come past thy restraining rings, and be thou the hands that protect the balance-!
A burst of light, then darkness. The sudden absence of illumination meant that Kirika couldn't see anything when she opened her eyes again, but even so she could tell that something was wrong.
"Nothing?" Rin whispered. "But that's -."
*CRASH* *Cr-THUD* *CRASH*
Rin looked at Kirika, Kirika looked back at Rin.
"Upstairs!" they said at the same time.
Kirika was the first to move, instinctively acting to encounter the unknown first so as to reduce the risk to Rin. With dagger in hand Kirika rushed up the stairs, when she got to the top she kicked the door open and followed straight through to catch whoever was behind the door by surprise. She soon found however that she needn't have bothered.
Sitting there, sprawled out amongst the ruins of what had once been an elegantly furnished lounge, was something that 'was not human'.
"What a rough summon," the 'being' grumbled as he extracted himself from the wreckage.
"Kirika!" Rin cried out as she came up. "Is everything alright?"
The 'man' that Kirika presumed was a servant raised an eyebrow as Rin burst into the room. "Tohsaka? Wait, two mages? Which one of you amateurs is my master?"
"A-a-amateurs?" Rin was shocked beyond words for a moment. "What kind of thing to say to your master is that? Wait, what kind of servant are you in the first place?"
"Servant Archer, at your service," the bronze skinned servant answered with a mocking grin. "Like what you see?"
"Archer?" Rin fell to her knees. "We poured in all that prana and I summoned an Archer instead of Saber? That doesn't make sense. What happened to equivalent exchange? What did I do wrong to get a weak servant like this?"
"Hey, hey, I'm standing right here girl," the servant looked displeased with Rin's dismissal of his ability. "Isn't a bit rude to call someone weak to their faces?"
Kirika was still weary of the servant for some reason, but she couldn't help but giggle as Rin realised her mistake and tried to rearrange her expression.
"It's not funny Kirika," Rin snapped at her with a blush on her face. "I apologise for my rudeness servant Archer, but please understand that the nature of your arrival has us a little off balance."
"I suppose it would," Archer said sarcastically. "It's my first time arriving in such a rough manner too. Did you draw the summoning circle with your foot or something?"
Rin visibly shook with rage as the servant yet again dismissed her skills. She tried to stand up in order to teach the rude servant a lesson but faltered on her first step as her legs gave out underneath her.
"Whoa, easy there master," said Archer. "No matter how crude the summon was you have got to be tired from it. Go take a nap or something, you look like you could do with some beauty sleep. It certainly wouldn't hurt your bust."
That was the last straw. Kirika flinched and backed away as Rin began to laugh softly, and she imagined that she saw a dark red aura fill the air around the other girl as she got to her feet again.
"Hu hu hu, I am amateur am I? A flat-chested kid? Very well Archer, I will take your advice and go to sleep for the day," Rin spoke in a sibilant tone that seemed to fill the air. "But while I'm sleeping, why don't you make yourself useful and clean the room?"
Archer's grin froze upon his face. "Huh? What did you just say master?"
Rin smiled. "Clean the room Archer."
"Yeah, that's what I thought you said," Archer said slowly. "I think you need to go and get your head checked master. I can't think of any other reason a mage would summon a Servant and then tell them to clean a room."
"Oh, but my head's perfectly fine Archer," Rin replied. "Now, be a good familiar and clean the room."
"... You have got to be kidding me," Archer said incredulously.
"Uhm, Rin? I'll take care of it so why don't you go to sleep?" Kirika butted in to try and stave off what she suspected would be a spectacular display of stupid pride on Rin's part.
"That wont do Kirika," Rin said firmly as she stared down the rebellious servant. "You are tired as well and we have a lot of work to do tomorrow as well. You are going to go to sleep with me."
"Huh. Not only did I get summoned by amateurs, but my master is a lesbian?" Archer seemed even more surprised than his statement would allow for some reason.
Rin realised what she had said and blushed fiercely. "It's not like that! Ahhhhhh! That's it!"
Archer and Kirika's eyes grew wide as Rin rolled up her sleeve.
"Uh, master? What are you doing?"
"Rin? You can't be thinking to..."
"Shut up and obey me!" Rin shouted, ignoring their questions.
One of the command seals on Rin's hand flashed red for a second before it disappeared. The effect was immediately visible as Archer seemed to freeze for a moment before he sat up. However, the power required to use the command seal in such a manner appeared to be the last stroke for Rin, as she collapsed in a heap into Kirika's arms.
"Rin? Are you okay?" Kirika asked, worried for her friend and teacher's health.
"I forgot..." Rin mumbled, her eyes half closed already.
"... ?" Kirika blinked. "What did you forget?"
Rin slumped even further, her eyes shutting slowly. "The clocks... They are all one hour fast right now... One... Not two..."
Kirika thought over what Rin had said as she rearranged Rin so that she would be more comfortable. One? Not two? Oh, the time. Now that she thought about it, Rin had purposely waited for two o'clock when the heavens would be in perfect alignment with her powers. If her clocks were an hour fast...
She looked at the clock. Four past two, or rather four past one. Heh, that figured.
"Looks like the Tohsaka curse strikes yet again," Kirika whispered softly as she lifted Rin up in order to take her to her room.
"You going to be alright taking her up like that?" Archer asked, surprisingly her with the concern she could hear in his voice.
"I will be fine Archer-san," she replied, reassessing her opinion of the servant in her mind. He was actually an okay guy. "I'm stronger than I look."
"You would have to be," Archer stated as he looked over the girl whose arms were as thin as sticks.
Kirika rolled her eyes, used to the dismissal of her physical abilities by others when they first met her. "Well, I apologise on Rin's behalf Archer-san. She's actually much more considerate than this. I think it was just the fatigue from the summon coupled with the shock of summoning you when she fully expected to get a Saber out of the whole deal that threw her off balance."
"Yeah I know," Archer smiled, then paused. "I mean, I can tell."
Kirika smiled. "That's good. Are you going to clean up the room like she asked though?" she asked as she shifted her hold on Rin's body to a bridal carry.
"Heh, might as well," Archer replied. "I don't have anything else to do and I may as well make myself useful."
"Thanks Archer-san," Kirika said. She suppressed a sudden urge to yawn and realised that she too needed some rest. "I will leave you to it then. I need to get Rin to her room before my legs give out on me."
"Good night," Archer waved at her flippantly. "Oh, and by the way, what's your name?"
Kirika stopped at the doorway and looked back. "I'm Emiya Kirika, Archer-san. You can tell me your true name tomorrow when Rin's awake."
Having said that Kirika left with Rin in her arms. Her limbs felt heavier with every step she took, but she needed to get to Rin's room at least before she closed her eyes.
Behind her, in the wrecked lounge, Archer stood frozen where he stood. Surprise evident upon his face.
"Emiya... Kirika?" he muttered in a puzzled tone. "What kind of world am I in now?"
As usual it started with chaos. A storm of swirling colours inside her head.
Input processing disconnected. Error. Erosion of mental landscape. Error. Analysis impossible. Error. Source containment failure. Error. Error. Error. Error. Error. Error. Error. FJsdsfidhf9sdh813xc9 i8h0wrhjodijgs a9iug0wj2e0n 0s098stuwrtw0e9ut09su0au st9jw0g9hddksdapocb0idj- -
Sudden silence. As if nothing had ever happened.
The colours faded to reveal an empty void. In the far off distance Kirika thought that she saw pinpricks of light, as varied in their colours as there were stars in the night sky. It was hard to tell though. They were too far away for her to even confirm their existence.
It used to be that the dream ended here, leaving her confused and bewildered as to what it meant. Lately however another section had been added, and she waited for them to appear.
Finally, they slowly coalesced into being. Two golden swords, both a promise of victory, yet so very different in their origins.
One a solemn promise to uphold an oath, a king's authority.
The other a promise formed from the collective dreams of man, magnificent glory.
She couldn't see them properly yet, let alone touch them, but this was enough for now. They became clearer every day. Some day she would be able to reach them, and possibly even recreate them. For now however, just this brief glance was enough.
It was just a shame that she could never remember what they looked like when she woke up.
Dawn. As usual, morning started early for Kirika.
"Ugh, that dream again..." Kirika groaned, her voice muffled by the sheets. "Hu... Wha~?" she then mumbled as she realised that she couldn't get up from the bed.
Rubbing her eyes, Kirika looked to see what the problem was and spotted the obstruction immediately. A pair of slim arms around her waist and shoulders.
... Ah. She was in Rin's bed again. How had she gotten here?
Lying still for now, she went through her memories of last night for an explanation of her current situation. Just three years ago she would have been unable to think by now, but after the constant harassment teasing that she had suffered at Rin's hands she had been desensitised enough that she could calmly accept the situation as it stood. It wasn't as if there was any sexual overtones anyway. They were both girls after all.
Last night. What had they been doing again? Something about summoning. Rin had been busy preparing for whatever it was all week, and they had even gone so far as to create a pass between...
Kirika blushed and pulled her body slightly back from Rin's. Desensitised to skinship she may have been, but being this close to Rin's sleeping face while remembering the... Connection ritual... From last night...
"Muuu..." It was embarassing just thinking about it.
With that memory in mind, Kirika decided that she better get up. She had her morning schedule to get through and she was going to go to sleep again if she stayed in bed any longer.
When she tried to get out of bed however, she ran into trouble as Rin tightened her hold upon her.
"Not again," Kirika sighed as Rin clutched her to her chest. "Rin, let me go." Kirika poked Rin in the face to try and provoke a reaction. She quickly got one as Rin swatted her finger away with her hand. Kirika didn't waste the opportunity and quickly pulled away from the other girl.
"Mmm... Cold..." Rin whimpered in her sleep as the cold morning air hit her where Kirika's body had been.
"There, there," Kirika covered Rin up again with the sheet. "Sleep tight Rin, I'll wake you up later."
Chuckling to herself, Kirika stroked Rin's head a few times, and got the usual reaction as Rin purred in her sleep like some lazy cat. She could have stayed like that for a while, as she sometimes did, but her diligence got the better of her and she went out to start on her morning work.
Coming down the stairs, Kirika was surprised to hear something moving around in the kitchen. An intruder? She couldn't sense any errors in the wards that plastered the mansion. How had they gotten in here?
"Trace, on." Activating her circuits, Kirika quickly began to project a simple steel baton into her hand. Unlike Rin she didn't have any spells that she could use to defend herself, so the acquisition of a weapon was a high priority.
"Possibility aligned. Structure confirmed. Set." A few short seconds after she had begun, a fifty centimetre baton appeared in her grasp.
Armed and on guard, she slowly crept down the stairs making as little noise as possible. When she reached the door to the kitchen, she paused for a moment, then dashed in with her weapon held high.
Kirika struck at the white haired stranger in the kitchen, and was surprised when the man reacted faster than she had thought possible to dodge the attack and then kick her hard enough to knock her back.
"Kyaah!" she shrieked as she hit the wall.
"Who the -... Wait, weren't you with my master? What the heck did you think you were doing?" asked the man in the red cloak.
"Ow... Master?" Kirika looked at the intruder and finally remembered who he was. "Oh! I'm sorry Archer-san. I thought you were an intruder."
"Hah..." Archer let out a heavy sigh. "Try and remember when a heroic spirit has been summoned will you?"
"Heh heh," Kirika smiled sheepishly and got up.
Archer shook his head ruefully. Rin's tendency to mess up at crucial moments was bad enough but he didn't know what he was going to do if he had to deal with this ditzy girl as well. Lamenting his fate, Archer was about to go back to cleaning up the kitchen when the steel baton that Kirika had projected caught his eyes.
"Is something wrong Archer-san?" asked Kirika who had noticed that he had frozen up.
"What? Oh, no, nothing," Archer scratched his chin. "Just thinking about something."
"Oh, okay," Kirika was a bit curious but accepted his answer. She was about to go out when she realised something and turned to face Archer again. "Archer-san? Are you hungry? If you are looking for something to eat I could prepare a meal for you."
Archer blinked. "Thanks, but that won't be necessary. I just need prana from my master to survive. Why do you ask?"
Kirika tilted her head to the side. "Uhm, it's just that you were in the kitchen, and..."
"Just following my master's orders kid," Archer told her with a smirk. "Now that you mention it though, are you hungry? I could whip something up for you if you are."
Kirika quickly shook her head. "Oh no, there's no need for that Archer-san. I need to go and do some things right now." She paused. "Wait, you can cook?"
"Can I cook?" Archer snorted. "If cooking was an Olympic sport I could take a silver medal at the least."
In light of that prideful boast, Kirika gave him a dumbfounded look, as if to say 'what kind of heroic spirit are you?'. Understandable, as cooking wasn't usually something heroes of legend were famous for.
"Ah... okay then," Kirika decided to leave that issue aside for now. "See you a bit later then Archer-san. It probably won't happen but if Rin comes out please tell her I'm in the back yard."
"What are you going to be doing?" Archer said curiously.
Kirika smiled sheepishly again. "Just some sorcery and martial arts practice. It's a morning ritual of mine."
"Hoh?" An interested light appeared in Archer's eyes when she mentioned sorcery. "Do you mind if I take a look then?"
"Hwah?" Kirika blushed. "Uhm, ah, I'm just an amateur, and ah..."
"Don't worry, I won't make fun of you or anything," Archer said with a smirk. "I'm just a bit bored right now."
"Well... I guess it would be okay..." Kirika said weakly.
"Good, lead on then kiddo."
Kirika's embarassment lasted until they got out to the small garden behind the mansion. Flustered and red faced, she was unsettled as she tried to calm herself in preparation for her daily ritual, but the serious nature of the task meant that Kirika soon reimposed control of her emotions.
"Trace on," Kirika whispered as she imagined the activation of her circuits.
Archer found one thing odd with Kirika's preparations as she began her practice. Though his memories were faded and patchy in places, he still remembered the long and tedious times he had spent practising his misguided sorcery in the shed. Part of that memory was the fact that he had needed to be sitting down in order to concentrate enough to reinforce or project anything.
This Kirika girl on the other hand, if she was what he suspected she was, had to be a lot more advanced than he had been at her age. She had to be if she was performing a tai chi sequence as she was projecting a pair of plain Chinese dao (dao - one sided chinese swords, similar to Kanshou and Bakuya).
While Archer was lost in his thoughts, Kirika had blocked out the world until the only things that she perceived were the two blades in her hand and her movements. Step, swerve, step, turn. Arms outstretched, blades turning slowly around the crux of her body. Moving at a constant pace that was neither fast nor forceful, but held an elegance and balance that characterised the Tai Chi Chuan style that she had learned and practiced. Every once in a while she would dismiss the blades, than switch to a sequence that only involved the use of her body. When that cycle was finished she would make another circuit in her mind, project another set of dao, and reinforce the projected steel to the limits of her ability as she moved. This exercise was one that Rin had commonly referred to as a suicide wish until they had found some of Kiritsugu's notes on the matter.
After an indefinite length of time, Kirika finally finished the last of her morning sequences, and came to a stop as she let her blades fade away.
It wasn't until she heard the clapping that she remembered that Archer was behind her, and she blushed heavily as she realised that he had watched the whole thing.
"Nicely done kiddo," Archer said as he clapped. "Tai chi chuan?"
Kirika nodded shyly. "Qing'un, Yin nidoryuu," she told him the name of the style and the substyle that she practiced.
"Twin dao huh," Archer muttered, a hint of bitterness in his audible in his voice for some reason. "When did you start learning?"
"Four years ago," Kirika replied as she wiped away some sweat from her brow. The forms themselves weren't that exhausting, but the strain of projecting and wielding the weighty swords took a lot out of her. "Rin and father Kotomine up at the church insisted that I learn some kind of martial arts and tai chi was the one that I like best of their choices. Only been two years since I started with the swords though."
"About those," Archer interjected. "Why do you project them? Wouldn't it be more efficient for you to carry a pair rather than using Gradation Air like that?"
Kirika shrugged. "That's what Rin suggested when I started, but for some reason my projection works a lot better than other people's." She projected another sword to make her point, and the finished blade lay in her hand in only a few seconds later. "Swords are even easier."
Archer wasn't sure what to think or feel as Kirika smiled proudly at him. The evidence at hand suggested that she was who he suspected she was, but if that were so he wasn't sure what he would do. It would all have been a lot easier and straight-forward if she had been a guy like she should have been...
With the mood of a drowning man clutching at straws, Archer decided to ask the question that would confirm once and for all the hypothesis that he had reached.
"Hey kid, do you have a brother?" he asked.
"A brother?" Kirika shook her head. "No, why do you ask?"
"No reason," Archer sighed and pulled an excuse out of his pocket. "I just thought for a second that you have the air of an older sister that's all."
Kirika looked at the servant strangely. What had she said or done to give him that idea?
"Maybe it's because I'm always looking after Rin," she joked as she headed back inside.
"Maybe," Archer said with a shrug as he followed her. "Lord knows she needs it," he muttered as some memories floated up.
"Did you say something Archer-san?" Kirika asked, paused in the midst of opening the door.
Archer waved her off. "Nah, let's go inside. I will prepare breakfast for you and my master so go take a shower."
"Thanks Archer-san!" Kirika called out as she went towards the bathroom.
When she had gone Archer sighed heavily and scratched his head. All that time waiting for a chance to kill Emiya Shirou, and when he finally got here it turns out that he's in a parallel world where he had been born a girl. Great.
"Real funny World, real funny," he grumbled as he threw away his plans for revenge upon himself.
The World had to be behind this, he just knew it. When would the damn bitch tire of using him as its whipping horse? Ah, screw it. He may as well focus on the Grail War for now. Who knew? Maybe he could use it to break the contract.
"Why do I feel like I'm forgetting something?" Kirika mumbled as she finished wiping down after the shower.
Draping a bathrobe around herself, she made sure that the towel around her hair was tight enough that she wouldn't drip any water on the carpet. This was harder than it sounded, as her waist length hair tended to soak up a lot of moisture which took forever to dry properly. If she had been left to her own devices she would have tired of the effort it took to take care of those long copper brown strands years ago, and would probably have cut it short to around her neck like Mitsuzuri did. When she had first suggested such however, Rin had made such a fuss about a mage's hair being their life that she had kept it long ever since. Using conditioners and drying her hair slowly so as to avoid split ends was also a habit by now after four years of Rin demanding that she take care of her hair properly. She didn't really get why Rin put up such a fuss about the whole deal. After all, it wasn't as if she could store much prana in her hair like Rin could. Sympathetic spells were possibly a cause for worry, but who was going to curse a second-rate mage like her any time soon?
Kirika had her suspicions, especially after years of Rin and Kirei playing around with her, but as yet she had never been able to obtain any conclusive evidence that Rin's demands that she keep her hair long were for her amusement. Maybe next year.
Drying off and changing into uniform took half an hour, and by the time she got out Archer had set out breakfast.
"Mmm, that smells nice," Kirika voiced her thoughts as she came into the kitchen.
"Of course it does, I made it didn't I?" Archer replied pridefully. "Now, could you go and get my master? She should wake up about now if she plans to get to school."
Kirika looked at the clock. Seven thirty. Archer was right.
"She's normally up by now," said Kirika, but she was already moving. "I guess she must have been more tired than I thought."
"Whatever," Archer shrugged. "Just tell her to come down."
Kirika nodded and went to fetch Rin. She was about to open the door when it opened by itself. Through the open door came a zombie, who immediately draped itself over Kirika and almost pulled her down with its weight.
"Good morning Rin," Kirika sighed as she identified the undead monster.
"M'rn'ng," Rin mumbled back, her face buried in Kirika's free flowing hair.
"Wake up already Rin," Kirika fussed as she tried to stand her friend up. Possibly related to a vampire the Tohsaka's might be, but Rin's weakness in the mornings bordered upon the ridiculous.
All of Kirika's efforts amounted to very little as Rin's body slumped again. This time in a manner so that Rin's face was buried in Kirika's chest. Kirika was about to pull her back up when Rin suddenly twitched.
"Kirika?" Rin mumbled.
"Yes?" Kirika replied. "What is it?"
Rin's answer came in the form of a hand that came up to squeeze Kirika's chest.
"Hii! Rin?" Kirika squealed as Rin massaged that delicate part of her body.
Still visibly out of it, Rin looked up and threw an annoyed glare at her. "You got bigger again!" she cried out, and she accentuated her words with another squeeze that drew a startled gasp from her poor victim.
"Mmph! Rin! Stop it!" Kirika was finally able to wrestle Rin's hand away, and pulled back to a safe distance.
"Its not fair," Rin muttered darkly as Kirika drew away. "You eat the same as I do, and it's not as if you exercise any more than me. Is it because you do Tai Chi? Is that it?"
Kirika palmed her face. This sort of thing was why she didn't like to wake Rin up in the mornings.
Rin's tirade against the injustices of human physiology lasted until she arrived at the bathroom, and Kirika let out a relieved sigh when after a quick shower Rin completely recovered from the weird funk that she had been in.
"Good morning Kirika," Rin greeted demurely her as she came out. It was almost as if she didn't remember anything of what she had done and said just a few minutes ago.
"... Morning Rin," replied Kirika, who knew better from bitter experience.
The two then went down into the dining room, where Rin was surprised by the fact that Archer had made breakfast. When Kirika added that he had also fixed the lounge she gave her a disbelieving look and went off to check before she came back again.
They then sat down to eat and Kirika had take the first bite from the omelette that Archer had made when she froze up.
"Rin," she said in a monotone.
"Kirika," Rin answered from across the table, also in a monotone.
""..."" A moment of silence as the two looked at each other. Then...
""We've lost..."" the two admitted as they slumped in defeat.
Behind them, Archer smirked as he enjoyed his small victory.
One short conversation and a formal exchange of names later, Kirika and Rin were off to school, with Archer following close behind in spiritual form. It was another fine day, and they enjoyed the sunny weather as they walked along the road.
"Make sure you go straight home after school, okay Kirika?" Rin told her troublesome apprentice as they neared the school grounds. "I'll be annoyed with you if I hear that you stayed behind again."
"I can't help it today though," Kirika complained. "It's my turn on the duty roster."
Rin frowned. "Is it? That's troublesome. I was planning to go and look around town with Archer after school today."
"Go ahead Rin," said Kirika. "It's not as if I'm a little kid who needs to be picked up every day."
Rin sighed. "No, you are worse."
"Rin..." Kirika pouted.
"I'm joking, I'm joking," Rin laughed. "Fine, but make sure you go straight home after you are done okay?"
Kirika rolled her eyes. "Yes mother."
"Sensei you mean," Rin half joked.
It was at that moment that they crossed the threshold to the school proper, and both of them instantly stopped and looked around.
"You feel it too?" Rin asked out loud.
"Yes, it feels... Sticky," Kirika replied as she closed her eyes to get a better sense of what she felt.
"Master, there's a field of some sort around the school," reported Archer who hadn't said much up to now. He was still in spirit form so it was as if a ghost had suddenly started talking. Which was what it was in a sense.
"Stay close to me Archer," Rin ordered. "Kirika, you too. You are staying with me until I've figured out what this ward is meant to do."
Kirika nodded, and then pointed in the direction of a nearby classroom. "The closest concentration of energy that I can feel is over there."
Knowing that Kirika's sense for these kind of things was better than hers, Rin took her word for the truth and quickly led the way towards the abnormality that Kirika had sensed. When they got closer Kirika pointed out the general area that the thing lay in, which let Rin narrow down her search to a small area from which she was quickly able to locate the sigil.
Marking the one that they had found, Rin and Kirika then moved onto the next location that Kirika sensed. Three such trips later, they had found enough that Rin was able to get a general idea of what the ward was meant to do.
"What kind of idiot put this here?" Rin muttered darkly as she straightened up. "If this thing activates all the students in this school are going to be turned into pools of blood. Doesn't whoever set this in place know that this kind of thing blows secrecy out of the water?"
"Can't you dispel it Rin?" asked Kirika whose face had been pale since Rin mentioned that the ward was meant to liquefy all humans inside it.
"Impossible," Rin said with a firm shake of the head. "The complexity of the ward is frankly ridiculous. There hasn't been much effort made to hide it, but the ward itself is a self regenerating mystery. I couldn't get rid of it completely even if I brought down the entire building."
"What can we do then?" asked Kirika. "We can't just leave it here."
Rin examined the sigil once again. "It seems like there are still a few days to go until it can activate. I think we can delay it by destroying some of these sigils, but like I said before, it will just keep making more."
"Are you going to?" Archer asked. "If we mess with the ward it will warn whoever created it that we are onto them."
Rin smiled confidently. "Let them. No Tohsaka is going to lose against the kind of trash that would do this sort of thing . Or don't you think you can handle a fight Archer?"
Archer grinned back at her. "Like I said before Rin, I am the best. So bring it on."
As the two matched opinions, Kirika smiled at the interplay between Rin and Archer. She had been thinking this since the morning, but these two really did suit each other.
It was when she entered the classroom that Kirika realised what she had forgotten.
Before she could react, a tiger in human form leapt upon her, and promptly proceeded to stretch her cheeks with its claws.
"Ow, ow, ow! Whababu dooyung Fufi-nee?" Kirika spluttered as best as she could with her mouth stretched out.
"Kirika-chan, why didn't you make me breakfast like you promised?" Fujimura Raiga whined. "Has your love for your nee-chan cooled already? Did you forget about me?"
Fujimura sensei, also known as Taiga due to her surname and her energetic behaviour. Technical guardian and self-imposed sister to one Emiya Kirika.
"Ah," Kirika put a hand to her mouth in a sign of surprise. "That's what I forgot. Sorry Fuji-neechan."
"You did forget!" Taiga roared. "Ki~ri~ka! How could you!"
"Ow! Fuji-nee!" Subjected to a Taiga noogie special, Kirika sought a means of escape and found it when the bell rang. "Tai-, I mean, Fujimura sensei! It's time for homeroom!"
Taiga stopped with her arm still around Kirika's neck. "Oh, you are right."
Released from the headchoke, Kirika rubbed her head where Taiga's knuckles had rubbed the skin raw. "Ohhh, that hurt."
"Meh~!" Taiga stuck her tongue out at her before she realised that the entire class could see her. "Ahem, ah, go to your seat Kirika."
"Yes, sensei," Kirika replied as she smoothed her hair.
After that brief altercation, homeroom went by smoothly. Taiga nearly caused another commotion at the end, but Kirika managed to calm her down with a promise of lunchboxes for the next three days (the rest of the class gave her familiar looks of sympathy and amusement as she enacted the by now familiar Taiga taming routine). The other classes went by quickly too, and before she knew it, it was already time for lunch.
She was about to head for the roof when a boy stepped in front of her.
"Ah... Emiya-san, may I ask where you are going?" asked the popular student council president, who seemed strangely fired up.
"Ah, Issei-kun," Kirika smiled, as a whispering started up around the class. Issei was one of the few people she could call a friend at the school, and it was always nice to talk to him. "Sorry, but can we talk later? I told Rin that I would eat lunch with her."
Flinch. For some reason that she couldn't fathom, Issei's smile suddenly seemed forced. "Tohsaka... I see... Uhm... Ah..."
A long pause. It was strange, Kirika thought. Although Issei was so confident and smooth when speaking in front of the entire school, he often froze up like this when the two of them were talking.
"Well, see you later then Issei-kun," said Kirika when Issei didn't seem like he was going to say anything. She picked up the lunchbox that Archer-san had made and slipped past Issei towards the door.
"Ah... Ah..." Issei was left standing by himself as Kirika left the classroom.
"Crash and burn yet again," commented one of the guys in the class.
"When do you think Emiya will notice?" one of the girls wondered out loud.
"Never? I mean, she's a total rockhead when it comes to things like this," the girl next to her answered.
"Cheer up president," one of the boys said as he came by and clapped him on the back. "You will get her someday!"
"Ah... Argh! Curse you Tohsaka!" Issei shouted as he broke out of his daze. "I will free Emiya from your devilish clutches someday! I swear it!"
Up on the roof Rin suddenly had the urge to hit someone as she waited for Kirika to arrive.
"Is something wrong Rin?" asked Archer when she frowned.
Rin shook her head. "No, I just thought I heard something, that's all."
The door to the rooftop opened, and Kirika came out. A sudden gust of wind caught her free flowing hair and lashed her face, and Rin had the thought that it might be fun to play with Kirika's hair again with comfort as an excuse. A side ponytail maybe? Or maybe braids. Something to bring out the feminine side of that dolt who refused to take care of her appearance properly.
"Hey Rin, did you find any more of the sigils?" asked Kirika as she sat down next to her.
Rin shifted over to make some more room. "Yes, there's one right over there," Rin told Kirika as she pointed to a spot on the roof in front of them"
"Ooooo, how many of them are there?" Kirika said tiredly. "I found another one near my classroom, and I think there's one in the Archery dojo."
"Just ignore them for today," Rin told her. "I will do something about them tomorrow after we summon your servant."
Kirika froze and looked at her. "Huh? My servant?"
Rin blinked. "Well, of course. You didn't really think I was going to let you sit around while I fought did you?"
"Eh~?" Kirika was too surprised to eat as she stared at Rin. She hadn't said anything about this when they began preparations for the Grail War! This was too sudden!
"Besides," Rin said casually as she picked up an egg roll with her chopsticks. "I registered you as a participant with Kirei a month ago. You even have your command spells already."
... Huh? Kirika was lost for words as Rin turned around and complimented Archer on his cooking. A... Month ago? Registered? And... What command spells?
"Wait, wait, wait!" She called out, flustered beyond belief. "What command spells? I haven't seen anything on my hand!"
Rin's lips stretched upwards in a villainous grin. "Your hand? Why would it be on your hand?"
"I thought that you might have a nervous breakdown if you had to sit around for a whole month thinking about the war, so I decided to spare you the worry." Rin's smile was as bright as the sun now as she visibly enjoyed Kirika's growing discomfort. "Do you remember that tattoo I drew on you? The one on your chest?"
"Yes..." Kirika said hesitantly as she remembered the day when Rin had suddenly decided to practice body art using her as a base. Why did she think she knew what Rin was going to say next?
Rin took up Tohsaka lecture pose number one, with her left arm across her chest supporting her right which she used as a pointer. "That tattoo is actually a sigil that draws curses and other forms of physical enchantment towards it. I wasn't sure that it would work but since your command seal isn't on your hand I suppose it did."
Wide-eyed, Kirika quickly peeked inside her shirt to where the tattoo was, just above her left breast. Now that she thought about it, the tattoo did look different from how it had at first after Rin finished with her. Where once only a ring of vines and a lattice of gold threads had been, a gothic emblem now dominated the centre. Did that mean... ?
"So that's what your's looks like," Rin said as she suddenly took hold of Kirika's collar and pulled it down.
"Rin!" Kirika shouted as she tried to resist. The button was going to... Hey wait! Don't open the button damn it!
"Relax, relax, there's no one here to see us," Rin assuaged her.
"Archer's right behind you isn't he?" Kirika shouted as Rin tugged the top of her shirt down.
"He's not looking, or rather, he better not be," said Rin with a pleased smile on her face as she poked at the tattoo. "You are not looking, are you Archer?"
Archer didn't reply. He was too busy staring at the distant hills. Oh, hello. Was that a deer he could see over there? He hadn't thought there were any up here. Maybe he could get some time off one day to go hunting. Ladidadida, he couldn't hear a thing.
"Hee hee, are you ticklish there? Don't worry, it won't take long."
Not a thing.
"Oooooh... That was embarassing," Kirika muttered with her face against her desk.
After she had come down from the roof she had been subjected to a battery of questions as to why she was so red-faced, and why her shirt was so rumpled. She had stoically ignored the questions and the whispered discussions about whether the rumours about her and Rin's relationship were true, but it had been a close thing. It hadn't helped when a few of the boys had gathered at the back of the class around Mitoshi and begun to roar with approval as the wannabe mangaka drew something. What that had been, she didn't want to know. For Issei to go as red as a traffic light and tear the paper up, it had to have been something that would give her nightmares for the rest of her life.
Kirika looked up and waved as the last of her classmates left. Classes were over for the day and it was time to pack up and clean the classroom. It was her turn today so she really should get up and... Eh? Wait. Where were the other two that were supposed to be here? Ichino and... Momoi wasn't it?
Frowning, Kirika replayed her memories of the day.
"Ichino is sick," she mumbled as she thought back to the roll "And... Oh yeah, Momoi begged off because she needs to go and pick up her sister from kindergarten today. Which means..."
Kirika slumped and buried her face in her arms again. She was the only one here!
"Ah, Rin's going to be annoyed with me again," she groaned as she stood up to start cleaning.
True to her habit, Kirika wasn't one to do things haphazardly just because she didn't have help. Wiping the windows, brushing the floor, and so on. Kirika took care of it all with the skill born from ten years experience doing work around by house by herself.
Even so, there was a limit to what one human could accomplish, and it was long past the normal time to be off when Kirika was done.
"Hmmm, at least it's only four thirty," Kirika mumbled to herself as she finally headed out.
She was walking down the corridor when she spotted a girl from one of the other classes who looked troubled. Looking back and forth from the Archery dojo and the school gate, she seemed caught between two choices that she couldn't decide between.
"Uhm, can I help you?" Kirika asked as she drew closer. If Rin had seen this she would have said that Kirika's disease was acting up again.
"Huh? Oh, Emiya-san!" the girl's face lit up as she recognised her. How did she know who she was? Kirika thought about it and realised that the girl was one of the Archery club members.
"Is there something I can help you with?" Kirika repeated when the girl didn't say anything more.
"Uhm... Yes," the girl seemed embarassed. "Shinji-kun asked me to go and get something from the shops for him, but I need to go home soon. I hate to ask this of you, but could you get it for me instead?"
With a tentative smile on her face, the girl gave her a piece of paper. Kirika took it and realised that it was a short shopping list. Pastries, chocolates, nothing odd... Eh? Condoms? That idiot Matou! What was he thinking getting a girl to buy this sort of thing?
Blushing a bit, Kirika pocketed the list. "Tell that idiot that I've gone to get these. Not the condoms though. If that guy wants something like that he should get them himself."
The girl smiled sheepishly. "Ha ha, thanks Emiya-san, you really saved me."
"No problem," Kirika walked past her. "See you later."
"Bye, Emiya-san, thanks again!" the girl called out before she headed back into the dojo.
Kirika watched her go then resumed walking. The closest shops were in the market district so it wouldn't take her too long to buy the things then get back. Maybe she would take a short cut through the trees on the way back to save some time as well.
It turned out that the pastry shop was closed today, and Kirika ended up having to go halfway down to Shinto to the only other shop she knew. By the time she got back up to the school the sun was pretty low on the horizon, and the amber light that preceded sunset had dyed all the buildings orange.
Wanting to get the errand done and over with as quickly as possible, Kirika opted to take the short-cut through the trees on the side of the school. Climbing the fence was a bit of a challenge with the plastic bag in her hand and her backpack on her back, but she managed it with a bit of effort. From there it was just a short stroll through the treeline to get to the Archery dojo where the club members were probably packing up and preparing to leave for the day.
Kirika had only taken a few steps when she felt it, a cold stare that sent chills down her back.
She froze and looked around. Who was it, and why did she sense danger?
She had taken a few cautious steps forward when the source of the threat revealed itself. A woman, dressed in a revealing black one piece that did little to hide her sensuous body. Oddly enough, her eyes were covered by some sort of blind-fold, but Kirika knew that it was no obstruction to her sight.
Because she wasn't human.
Kirika gulped. If her suspicions were correct, this woman was another servant like Archer. The atmosphere she gave off wasn't as imposing as Rin's servant had been when he got serious, but it didn't change the fact that she was someone with abilities far beyond those of your normal human. Fight? Impossible, her instincts warned her that she would be killed in a matter of seconds. Flight? Could she get away from someone like this? Wait, was she even the target? There was nothing to reveal the fact that she was a mage, so maybe it was just bad luck that she had seen her.
That little hope died when the servant took of her blindfold.
Kirika suddenly found it hard to breathe as a pair of gem-like eyes bore into her. The lilac orbs seemed to expand until they began to fill her entire world, and it was hard to think of anything as the servant came closer and closer.
To all appearances, Kirika was perfectly enthralled. Which was why Rider was surprised to say the least when Kirika suddenly drew a dagger out of her bag and stabbed herself in the thigh with it.
"Ah!" Kirika gasped as she could suddenly breathe again. Then, she began to run as old lessons took over, throwing the bag with the groceries in it at the servant in an effort to buy time.
Shocked by Kirika breaking her binding, the servant was caught flat-footed as Kirika ran off. By the time she regained her wits the young mage was already ten metres away, and the servant quickly moved to follow.
Kirika's heart was pumping as she ran towards the front of the school, where she hoped the stragglers from the clubs would still be. She was nearing the edge of the trees when instinct warned her to dodge to the side, and did so just in time to see a huge metal stake on a chain hit the ground where she would have been.
"Ow!" she yelped as her thigh twinged upon landing, the impact sending a jolt through her wounded leg. "Ah, damn it Rin! Don't make me stab myself so deeply! It's hard to run!"
The reason that Kirika could break free from Rider's binding attempt lay in a geas that Rin had put upon her. Ever since they had discovered that she was pathetically easy to bind or charm, Rin had sought a way to improve her mental defences, or at least find some way for her to break free. When upon experimentation they had found that the reason for her weakness lay in the way her circuits handled prana, Rin gave up and put the geas on her. A compulsion that put an order in her mind to stab herself if she ever thought she was being hypnotised. The pain acting as a stimulant to wake her up for the instant that was needed to run away.
This did however leave a problem, as the act of stabbing meant that her speed was hampered. Even with the crude reinforcement that she could cast on herself after years under Rin, Kirika was nowhere fast enough to avoid inhuman opponents, as the enemy servant now proved. Before Kirika had even steadied herself, she had darted out in front of her, and now blocked the shortest path towards the front of the school.
Knowing that she would get enthralled again if she just stood there, Kirika moved. Projecting the twin dao that she was most familiar with, she went lunging towards the servant. It was a crazy move, but she hoped that the surprise of her sorcery together with the sheer insanity of a normal human attacking a servant would halt the servant long enough for her to escape. Which it did, sort of.
Kirika's swipe at the servant was easily dodged, and was quickly paid back as the servant kicked her in a move that would have winded her had it connected truly. Luckily however, Kirika's gamble had worked, and the kick caught her upon the arm that she had shielded herself with. Painful, but survivable. There was also the bonus of having been kicked towards the school building, and Kirika shifted her centre of gravity to hit the ground running.
She was close now, but still so far off from her goal. Fortunately for her, it seemed as if the heavens had decided to smile on her that day, as a noisy group suddenly appeared from around the corner.
"Eh? Emiyan? Why are you hurt?" asked the noisy track star of the athletics club who was the first to spot her. Normally the vibrant girl would have challenged her presence, but it appeared that even she wasn't flippant enough to joke when she saw a hurt girl in front of her.
"Emiya?" Himuro raised an eyebrow as she came up beside Makidera. "What happened to you?"
"Himuro. Makidera," Kirika gasped weakly as she looked behind her. No sign of the servant. Thank her lucky stars. It seemed that she had decided that there were too many people here for her to show herself like that.
Other members of the athletics club who had been carrying equipment back to the storage shed expressed their concerns about Kirika's wound, and she had a hard time explaining away the stab mark as a by-product of a fall. Makidera and the others eventually left off when she said it wasn't anything serious, but Kirika suspected that Himuro wasn't convinced. The composed high jump champion of the school kept a careful watch on her as she walked with them, and Kirika inwardly sweated until Himuro finally looked away.
"You sure you are going to be okay walking home like that Emiyan?" Makidera asked when they came out to the front of the school.
"Yeah, don't worry about it Makidera," Kirika said with a slight smile. "The bandage that Saegusa put on stopped the bleeding, and I'm going to take the bus anyway."
"Hmmm, mmm," Makidera crossed her arms and nodded. "Okay then, I trust that one of my rivals is sensible enough to take care of herself. You should thank Yukichi for her help though."
"I already did," Kirika replied as she suppressed an urge to ask 'what rival?' to Makidera.
Saying goodbye to Makidera and the others, Kirika was making her way towards the gate when Himuro came up to stop her.
"Emiya, be honest with me," she said serious while she stared her in the eyes. "Something happened back there, didn't it? And don't give me that nonsense about falling from the fence."
"Nothing happened, nothing happened!" Kirika protested as she inwardly marvelled at Himuro's perceptiveness. "I told you already didn't I? I fell and gouged my leg on a branch."
Her answer put a crease in Himuro's brow, and a long moment passed as Himuro tried to pressure her into honesty with her eyes. Eventually however she sighed and let her go.
"Fine, I will accept your story for now Emiya," she said in a tone that said that she didn't. "Dont' hesitate to talk to me if you need help though."
Kirika smiled. Himuro was a good girl. "Thanks Himuro, but really, nothing happened.
Himuro frowned once more but left her alone. When she had gone Kirika sighed and wiped the sweat from her brow. That had been close. A normal person like Himuro getting involved with this side could only end in disaster, and she was relieved that the inquisitive girl had backed off, even if it seemed that she had come to an erroneous conclusion.
Feeling around with all her senses to make sure that she wasn't being followed by the servant., Kirika made sure to stay in areas where there were lots of people as she made her way towards the bus stop. It was rush hour as everyone went home, so this wasn't too hard to do. Still, she was nervous. It was the first time that she had ever been attacked like that, and her nerves were frayed from the release of tension. Her hands were trembling, and her legs weren't much better. How was she going to get through the next few weeks if she was like this now?
Her nerves didn't steady until she got on the bus, the first one that arrived. When she checked Kirika found that her house was on the way, and decided to go there for now rather than wait around here. It wasn't as if the servant had nothing better to do than chase her around, right?
Back at the school, servant Rider arrived back at her master's side as she came back from following Kirika.
"Well, did you get her?" asked a figure who featured near the top of Rin's 'most annoying people' list.
"I apologise master, but there were too many people around for me to capture her," Rider replied.
"You useless bitch!" Shinji snarled. "What kind of servant are you? All I told you to do was to capture one weak little girl for crying out loud. Can't you even do that? Huh?"
A flurry of kicks accompanied Shinji's cruel words, but Rider took it all without complaint. Distasteful as he might be, he was still her master for now, and she had to obey him.
"About that master," Rider said as she cringed away from him. "The girl you sent me after turned out to be a mage. She was able to break free from the binding I was putting on her by stabbing herself, and she projected a pair of swords to attack me as she ran away."
"Eh? Emiya's a mage?" Shinji stopped to think about it. "Tch, figures. Looks like the rumours were true after all. Tohsaka must really be infatuated with her little pet if she decided to reveal her secrets and teach her."
Rider didn't comment. She didn't know much about the relationships between the people involved, and didn't want to get involved with this disgusting male in front of her any more than she had to.
"Heh, actually, this might be a good chance to get one back at that fiesty bitch," Shinji said with a nasty smile on his lips. "Tohsaka's got to be participating in the Grail War as well, and who better to get information from than her little pet? Not to mention the look that will be on Tohsaka's face if I show her pictures of raping that whore. Kikiki, I wonder if she's still a virgin."
There was a term for people like this, thought Rider as she was involuntarily bore witness to her master's fantasies. What was it?
Ah, she remembered. Human trash.
The sun had set a while ago, and it dark out as Kirika wondered whether to go to Rin's house or not. If Rin had a cell-phone she wouldn't have to worry since she could just ring and ask her to come by, but there was no chance that the technologically challenged head of the Tohsaka family would buy one, let alone know how to use it.
She still had nightmares about the day that Rin had decided to catch up with the twentieth century and buy a radio. How did you get a Sony radio to explode like that? Wasn't that nearly impossible?
Right now her options were to: A - Stay here for the night and wait for Rin to come and get her.
B - Buck up and head for Rin's house. The wards around the mansion meant that she would be safer there.
C - Go out to town and try and find Rin.
Kirika thought about it for a while and decided to stay here. She reasoned that the servant didn't know where she lived, and thus she was as safe here as she would be anywhere else. It was probably more dangerous to go out and wander the streets where she might run into that or another servant by sheer bad luck.
Having decided that, Kirika was about to make herself a cup of tea when the lights suddenly went out.
A sound like breaking glass falling on the ground announced the violation of the ward around the house. Kirika was instantly on her guard and summoned her swords to her hands as she looked around in the darkness for the threat.
She didn't need to wait long.
The servant from earlier came through the door to the patio, walking in a slinking motion that brought to mind a snake slithering across the ground. Stake and chain held ready in her hands, there was no doubt that she was here to get her.
"There you are," the servant said with a slight smile on her face when she spotted her.
"Who are you?" Kirika asked as she backed away. "Why are you after me?"
"Servant Rider," the tall and graceful servant told her. "I don't have anything against you, but my master demands that I take you to him."
Kirika flinched. Rider's master wanted her? Did they know that she was a master candidate as well? Or was it simply because of her ties to Rin? Either way, she couldn't just go with Rider.
"Showing your claws?" Rider asked as Kirika tightened her grasp on her swords. "Struggle all you want little fox, but it wont change anything."
"Doesn't hurt to try now, does it!" Kirika shouted as she leapt at Rider.
Her move just now was one that she would never have done had she been thinking straight, a mistake in judgement caused by her inexperience. The Yin style of the Qing'un sword form that she had learned was a style that focussed primarily on defence first, with attacks a natural progression from there. It wasn't a style of swordsmanship that lent itself easily to an aggressive assault, and it showed as Rider easily slid aside Kirika's attack.
Without another word, Rider kicked her like she had at school, and again Kirika was sent flying through the paper door into the yard. This time however she was unprepared and Rider's foot struck her heavily in the stomach, with a force that left Kirika feeling like she had a broken rib or two.
"Ugggh," Kirika gritted her teeth as she stood up. Stupid, stupid. Why had she done that? Even if she started focussing on defence now she was going to have trouble with this kind of wound hindering her movements.
While Kirika tried to regain her breath, Rider casually slipped through the hole in the door and came up to her. The servant was perfectly at ease as she approached without a care in the world, as if she wanted to tell her that she wasn't any kind of threat at all.
Annoyed by this dismissal, but cautious now after the failure of her rash assault, Kirika took up a stance with her swords and wait for Rider to either get in range or attack. Rider must have noticed the change in the atmosphere, because she hesitated for a moment as she entered the outermost boundary of the area that Kirika's swords could cover. Soon enough however, the hesitation passed, and Rider suddenly slithered into movement again as she struck out towards Kirika's neck.
Though she was prepared, Kirika could barely sense the attack, and nearly failed to interpose the sword in her right hand in the vector of Rider's strike. She couldn't even think about sliding the attack away, or any of the other methods that she could have used to reduce the shock. It was that fast.
"You blocked it?" murmured Rider as she took a step back. She seemed honestly surprised.
"I haven't held these swords for two years for nothing Rider-san," Kirika said with a smile that disguised the tension she felt inside. For crying out loud, how could anyone get so much power out of such thin arms? That one hit had numbed her entire right arm, and she wasn't sure she could block another.
Rider looked at her curiously (although how she could tell what Rider was thinking with that mask on she didn't know), then crouched down like an animal about to spring. No, like a cobra about to lash out.
A blink of an eye, that was it. In the space of time it took Kirika to blink away a speck of dust that had gotten into her eye, Rider had disappeared from her sight. She was wondering where the servant had gone when reflex pulled her swords up in a guard, and a sudden impact sent her flying through the open door of the shed nearby.
Kirika cried out in pain as her body crashed into the ground, scattering the piles of junk that Taiga had built up inside the shed. Her hands were empty now, one of the dao having broken as it absorbed Rider's attack, and the other dispelled by Kirika in an instinctive move to avoid injury. Even if she had them in her hands however she couldn't have done anything just then. Stunned with pain, Kirika couldn't move a muscle as Rider came in to get her prize.
"Is that it?" The servant asked as she knelt down on top of her.
The addition of Rider's weight made Kirika groan in pain, but any struggle was impossible as Rider captured her arms with her hands, pinning her down on the floor.
"My master told me to bring you to him and I must follow his orders, even if I don't like him," Rider whispered with her face just above Kirika's. "I don't think he will mind if I take a little snack (?) first though."
Still dazed, Kirika had a moment to wonder what Rider meant before she was subjected to the bespelling from Rider's eyes again. Unable to resist, her body went limp, and this time Rider made sure that she was unable to move her limbs so that she couldn't break free like last time. Strangely enough though, she could feel things stronger than ever, and Kirika's body shivered involuntarily as Rider's breath caressed the skin of her neck.
"Thank you for the meal," Rider murmured in her ear, sending tingles down her back.
A prickling sensation on her neck, and then... Pleasure, a hot jolt of sensations that melted her resistance as she felt Rider suck at her neck. She had to resist, she knew it, but it was so hard to concentrate. So... Very... Hard...
The world began to slip away, her energy fading as Rider fed from her. Just before she thought she would fall unconscious however, a flash of light lit up the shed, and Kirika blinked as a refreshing coolness cleared the fog from her mind.
Clang! Metal clashed against metal as Rider suddenly jumped back in the face of an attack. A shape rushed past in pursuit, and pretty soon a constant ringing could be heard. Kirika wondered who it was, but she didn't have the energy to pull herself up yet. From her vantage point, all she could see were flashes of blue and silver as somebody or somebodies fought with Rider in the yard.
"Master? Are you alright?" she suddenly heard someone ask from behind her.
When Kirika turned to see who it was, she was faced by a fantastic vision clad in white and silver. Holding a golden sword that was strangely familiar, the young woman who stood there illuminated by the light of the moon was so beautiful that Kirika's mind turned blank.
"Master?" the white knight repeated.
Before she could reply, the person who had rushed after Rider came back into the shed.
"In reponse to your summons, I have come," said the knight clad in blue and silver as she entered. "I ask of you now, are you my master?"
"..." Kirika was pretty sure there was something out of place here.
"Another me?" blurted out the white and silver knight.
Her attention drawn by the noise, the blue and silver knight turned towards its source, but her invisible sword faltered when she found it.
"Wh-what?" The golden haired knight stammered. "Who are you? And why do you look like me?"
"That's my line!" protested the green eyed knight with golden sword at the ready. "Who are you?"
It shouldn't have been possible, but the blue knight's green eyes grew even wider as she spotted the sword in the white knight's hands.
"Caliburn?" she squealed. "That's impossible!"
"What are you talking about?" The white knight replied as she looked her mirror copy up and down. "And... Hold on, why do you have Excalibur?"
Caliburn? Excalibur? Even as confused as she was Kirika could identify those names. If she wasn't mistaken, those were the swords of...
""Master? What's going on here? And who is she?"" The two servants shouted in unison, pointing at each other.
Kirika could only stare dumbly at the both of them. Surely, surely, King Arthur couldn't have been a girl.
Two hours later, Emiya residence.
Tohsaka Rin was in despair.
"Let me get this straight," she muttered darkly with her face in her hands. "I go to all that trouble and end up with Archer, and you get Saber from what basically amounts to an accidental summoning. Not only that, but you summoned two Sabers from the deal, which should be impossible, but is just so you."
"Haha," Kirika scratched her head. "Did I mention that Saber's true identity is King Arthur?"
The finishing blow. Rin collapsed into a depressed heap of flesh and bones, and wouldn't respond no matter how Kirika tried to wake her.
"... Should I be insulted?" Archer wondered out loud. "Was it really that much of a disappointment to summon me instead of Saber?"
"Well you did go down in one hit from my 'sister' over here," the Saber who had decided to go by the name 'Lily' for now teased him.
Archer gave her a dark look. "Yes, thank you very much for reminding me."
"Now that you mention it, how badly are you hurt Archer?" asked 'Saber' who seemed uncomfortable with Lily for some reason.
"It's not too bad," Archer shrugged. "I should be fine after a day of rest."
Saber nodded. "That is good. It would be inconvenient for an ally to be disabled."
"Are you worried about him? How sweet?" Lily said with a saccharine smile on her face.
Saber frowned at her twin. "He is our comrade in arms, at least for now. Of course I would be concerned about his health."
"Gods you are stuffy," Lily muttered. "We aren't in court right now. Loosen up a bit."
"This entire city is a battlefield," Saber rebutted. "Lowering our guard would be an act of foolishness."
"Worrywort," Lily mumbled as she looked away.
"..." Saber said nothing and glared at Lily as if to try and erase her existence with the force from her eyes.
"Now, now, ladies," Archer strode in between them. "Let's try and get along with each other shall we? Otherwise it's going to be a long Grail War for all of us."
"Oh, I don't have any problems with her," Lily said cheerfully. "I just want her to relax a little, that's all. As she is right now, she reminds me too much of myself when I was a stubborn ass."
Saber narrowed her eyes at the comment, but declined to respond.
Lily sighed. "See? So cold. It's as if she hasn't yet realised that people are supposed to have feelings."
Saber clenched her fist tightly as Lily's words struck her deeply. It was only a slight movement, but it didn't escape the notice of the other two servants.
"Hoh~? Don't tell me..." Lily looked inquisitively at the golden haired knight who was herself, albeit with a few differences.
Visibly disturbed, Saber refused to meet Lily's eyes. Despite such attempts to avoid Lily's gaze, the white knight appeared to realise something, and was about to speak when Rin revived.
"... Mumble... Unfair... Mumble... Okay," Rin took a deep breath. "Since things turned out this way, we may as well milk our advantage for all it's worth." She sat up and turned to face Kirika with a gorgeous smiled planted on her face. "Ki~ri~ka?"
"Ye-yes?" Kirika answered nervously. Nothing good ever came of other people calling her name so cheerfully.
"You are my apprentice right?" Rin asked as if to confirm the fact.
"Uh... Yes," Kirika hesitantly agreed. Where was she going with this?
"You and I share a lot of our tools when we work, don't we?" Rin continued.
Kirika nodded. That was true, but... Why was Rin mentioning this now?
"Not to mention, you use my shampoo and makeup as well," said Rin.
Kirika felt she had to point something out here. "But that's because you said it' s waste of money for me to buy my own when I hardly ever use-."
"So, what's mine is yours, and what's yours is mine," Rin concluded hurriedly as she ignored Kirika. "Thus, I will be borrowing Saber. Thanks Kirika!"
... How did you come to that conclusion again?
"Uhm... Rin? Saber has feelings too doesn't she?" said Kirika while the servants stared incredulously at the Tohsaka mage. "You can't just announce that you are going to 'borrow' her like that. You need to ask her how she feels about it."
"It's out of the question master," Saber jumped into the conversation. "I am your servant, and I can't leave you alone by yourself."
"She won't be alone," replied Lily. "I will be with her. Which doesn't mean that I approve of you taking Saber, Tohsaka. At least explain your reasoning first."
Lily smiled at Rin, and Rin smiled back. For an instant Kirika imagined that she could see a lioness and a demon facing off against each other.
"It's simple really," Rin said smoothly. "Kirika and I will be fighting together, which means that we should maximise the utility of the forces that we have available. My servant is Archer, which means that he would be far more effective with someone to guard him in combat. Kirika has two Sabers available, so it's only natural that one of you should act as a guard for Archer."
"... Uhm, actually Rin, I use-."
"You have a good point there, Tohsaka," Lily admitted easily as she cut off Archer. "Take her."
"Thank you," Rin replied.
"You know, I don't really-." Archer tried to say something again but this time he was cut off by Saber.
"And what makes you think I will listen to your opinion, Lily?" Saber asked with arms crossed defiantly. "In the first place, couldn't you fill that role just as well as I would? It would make more sense for a flippant warrior like you to guard Archer and leave me as a guard for our master."
"No, no. That's not it." Lily wagged her finger. "It's to do with the roles we are best suited for you see. I was curious about your ability so I asked our master to compare us. It turns out that you are stronger and tougher than me, but slower on your feet." Lily smiled triumphantly as Saber. "You wouldn't ask someone weaker than you are to take hits from the enemy, would you?"
"... Hello? Is anybody listening to me?"
"Ugh," Saber frowned as Lily appealed to her pride as a knight. "... I find myself doubting that we are the same person. Don't you have any pride as a knight?"
This time it was Lily's turn to frown. "Of course I have my pride! But is it pride or stupidity to not rely on your comrades if they are more suited for a role? Don't tell me you think it's right to take on everything upon yourself."
A tense silence ran between the two proud knights as Lily's words hit a nerve in Saber. In stark contrast to this scene however, Archer had drifted off to the kitchen where he had his face against a cupboard as he sulked.
"... I'm just an unwanted nobody, aren't I... ?" Archer was mumbling this and other similar sentiments.
Kirika was looking back and forth between her servants as she tried to think of something to say that would defuse the situation. She didn't like the way they two were arguing, preferring harmony over conflict as a philosophy, but she couldn't determine why it was the two were so abrasive with each other. Ughhh, maybe she should listen to Rin and stick Saber with Archer just to avoid this kind of faceoff.
"Excuse me, I have a question," Rin suddenly spoke up, her voice cutting through the tension.
""Yes?"" the two Sabers chorused, then they frowned at each other before they looked away.
Rin pretended to cough in order to cover the grin that had appeared at the sight. These two were so different yet so similar all at once.
"Hmm, anyway." Rin cleared her throat. "Ahem. I was just wondering. Why do the both of you seem... So weak? I would have thought that a hero like King Arthur would be stronger. Your prana levels in particular... Even Archer has more than you right now and he doesn't even have a proper name."
"... Yes, I'm just a nobody. A nobody without a name..."
Saber and Lily winced and looked at each other. When they realised what they were doing however they sniffed and looked away. It was such a cute sight, like twin sisters bickering, that Kirika couldn't help giggling.
"About that," Lily spoke as she pointedly ignored her master's mirth. "I suspect that something went wrong during the summoning. Right now I'm not getting any support from my master, and at this rate I will eventually be unable to even stay in this world."
"What?" Rin's eyes went wide. "What about you Saber?"
Saber nodded. "It is the same with me. I can barely feel my connection with master, and for some reason I feel my prana slowly flowing out from me towards her instead of being replenished as it should." She turned to look at Kirika. "Master, can you not do something about this? Or is this just a temporary lack of prana on your part?"
Rin looked at Kirika, who shrugged helplessly. "I don't know what's wrong," Kirika told her teacher. "I tried to send them my prana, but it's as if there's something in the way."
"Hmm," Rin began to think. "I can't imagine Kirika, who has so much prana that it almost rots inside her, would ever be short of power, so it must be a problem with the connection between you three. It might also be a side effect of the abnormal summoning process that was involved too..."
A long pause. Kirika was about to tell Rin that she would try and solve it somehow when Rin's eyes suddenly went blank.
"Kirika..." Rin said weakly.
"Yes?" Kirika replied.
"You didn't use a contract as a part of the summons did you?" Rin asked almost rhetorically.
Kirika smiled awkwardly. "Contract? Uh... Saber and Lily just appeared out of nowhere."
Thud. The pointlessness that Rin felt towards her own sorcery drained all the energy out of her.
"Haha, after all these years I don't know why I should be surprised," Rin muttered darkly. "Oh sure, your projection is quite possibly the closest thing the world has seen to the 'Denial of Nothingness' since that disappeared. Why should I be jealous that you are closer to the first than I am to the second. After all, I am only the sixth generation descendent of one's the Wizard Marshal's disciples. Haha. Your broken analysis ability is ridiculous as well. No one should be able to just look at an artefact and tell what it does and how it can be broken or repaired. Hahaha. So why should I be surprised by the fact that you managed to summon a servant with no preparation what so ever, without even a contract spell to guide you? Hahahahahaha."
"..." Kirika sweated as killing intent rose off Rin in tendrils of dark emotions.
"... Whew." Thankfully, Rin appeared to calm down. "Kirika."
"Yes?" she was replying like this a lot lately.
"Just make a pass with them like we did last night," Rin muttered with her face down against the table once more.
... A pass? Last night?
"What? It's the easiest way to create the link between you and them. It will only take a moment too. Is something wrong?" Rin asked as if she didn't know the reason behind Kirika's sudden outcry.
From the glint of amusement in her eyes, Kirika could tell that she did, but was enjoying her reaction too much to let it show. Blushing fiercely, Kirika attempted to argue her way out of the multi-car crash her future seemed to be headed towards.
"But, but, that was, I mean... I can't... I, them, bwah?" Kirika broke down as her brain overheated.
Lily looked at Kirika curiously. "Is there something the matter master? If the ritual is so simple I don't see why we don't go ahead with it."
"I agree," Saber added. "There's no point to going any longer than we need to without recharging our prana."
"..." Kirika was so red now that she was steaming.
"Kirika... Saber... And Saber? Ugh!" Archer suddenly developed a nose bleed, but no one was paying attention to him.
Rin giggled and beckoned to Saber and Lily with her hand. "Come over here for a second. I will tell you why she's like that."
Saber and Lily blinked and went over to kneel by Rin's side. Victims obtained, the red demon then proceeded to explain, in loving detail, the ritual that Kirika needed to perform in order to create the pass between them.
"... ? ... ! *D*$H&GSDF?" Saber jumped back from Rin and stared at her with her jaw wide open.
On the other hand, Lily looked thoughtful.
"A kiss with master? Hmmm..." She gave Kirika a look over and then licked her lips. "That sounds like it will be tasty (?). Let's do it master!"
"!" If Kirika could get any redder, she would have entered the infra-red range.
"You! Me! I mean, Lily! What are you saying?" Saber shouted out, mortified at the thought of someone who looked like her doing... That... With someone.
Lily gave her a disdainful look. "What? It's not as if I haven't done the same before with Guin. Heh heh. Don't worry master. I will make sure that you see heaven (?)."
Silence. Archer and Rin were staring with their jaws open while Saber had shut down from embarassment. As for Kirika...
"Eh? Master? Ah! She's as hot as an oven! Someone get some water!"
She had fainted.
"... Please tell me that was a dream," Kirika asked of Rin when she woke up to find her at her side.
"Sorry, I can't do that Kirika," Rin apologised insincerely.
"... Then let me get back to sleep," Kirika said despondently as she turned over to face the wall.
Only to see Lily there, her face just inches away from hers.
"Stay still master~!"
Ambushed by Lily, Kirika froze as a velvetine pair of lips locked themselves upon hers. Surprised, her mouth slipped open just a little, and Lily took the chance to slip her tongue into her mouth. Lily's tongue curled around her own, and Kirika found herself involuntarily groaning as Lily displayed an unbelievable dexterity with her intraoral digit. As the kiss continued Kirika gave up her resistance, and fell limp against the floor as Lily bore down on her. After what seemed like an age however, Lily showed no signs of disengaging, and Kirika was about to try pushing her off when she felt Lily pushing something down her air-starved throat.
"Hwah!" Kirika gasped as Lily finally backed off.
"Thank you for the meal!" Lily told her cheerfully, giving her a peck on the cheek which Kirika was too dizzy too react to. "What was I supposed to do now Tohsaka?"
"... Huh?" Rin answered dumbly. Her face was as red as her shirt. "Uh... Ah! The ritual?"
Lily gave her a look. "Yes, the ritual."
Rin cleared her throat, embarassed by the act that had occurred before her eyes but also how much she had been distracted by it. "Kirika, you just focus on establishing the link when it comes through. Lily? Repeat after me. 'My blood given freely'."
"My blood given freely."
"Put your hand on her chest please," Rin told her. "And - "Hughu?" - don't massage it!"
"Sorry, force of habit," Lily said as she stilled her hand.
Rin groaned as she staved off a headache. "Hah... 'My oath sworn before thee'."
"My oath sworn before thee."
"I give of myself, and ask for thee in return."
"I give of myself, and ask for thee in return."
"Should you accept."
"Should you accept."
"Answer me now." Rin finished.
"Answer me now." Lily repeated.
At the instant that Lily spoke the last word, Kirika jumped as a sudden heat spread out from her chest where Lily's hand lay. The warmth ran through her entire body, and on the third pass through she felt something click inside her, followed by a feeling of release as prana began to flood out through the newly established pass into Lily.
Lily had her eyes closed as Kirika's prana rushed into her, the energy filling her from the toes up as tendrils of lightning began to jump around over her body. The wind that blew out from her and the dazzling light display were both a side effect of the transfer as prana leaked from the crude but strong pass.
"..." As the wind died down, Lily opened her eyes. "That felt very nice," she whispered as she flexed her hands.
"Haha... Did it?" Kirika gasped as she breathed heavily.
"I'm glad it worked out for you two," said Rin as she noted the rise in Lily's stats.
Exhausted, Kirika could only smile weakly as she tried to sort out her emotions.
"Thank you master," said Lily, before she dropped Kirika into a pit of despair. "Please take good care of my 'sister' now~!"
"Go and fetch Saber, Lily," said Rin. "We may as well get this over with today."
"Wait, what's this about Saber?" Kirika asked feebly.
"Don't worry Tohsaka," Lily reassured her fellow conspirator. "I will drag her here if I have to."
Rin laughed and was joined by Lily. As she watched the two, Kirika had to wonder if she should fear for her virtue tonight.
"What is it Archer?"