Wow, plenty of reviews thank you. A lot of them were positive, plenty asked questions (which I often responded to where they gave signed in reviews). A lot of people expressed concern at Shirou's use of the UBW, and that is fine! I too would be concerned if an author felt he would resort to that constantly whenever he was in danger. He certainly didn't "need" to use UBW to defeat them but made a choice to, which I'll explain below.


To those who were concerned I just want to say that Shirou did NOT "need" to use UBW to defeat Hikari and Hibiki, he could have done so in a protracted fight using his skill and abilities to whittle them down. However he made the conscious choice to use it, to send a message. Hikari suggested that they were all in contact with one another (by referencing Minaka) and Shirou had been attacked three times by now. His patience was at an end and he wanted to send a concrete message that he is beyond them and must not be attacked. To do this, he HAD to win INSTANTLY and in a single move. – He wasn't at risk of revealing the Clock Tower because they pretty much stated he was a Sekirei, and Shirou knows they have weird abilities which UBW could be written off as. (also he's still sure they are magus related).

Though a phantasm could have given him the same edge he felt that UBW could easily be misconstrued or misunderstood as one of these "Sekirei's" strange abilities… while a legendary weapon might be recognised by the survivor and raise questions. There is also a VERY GOOD reason he didn't use Kanshou and Bakuya, which is hinted at in this chapter.

I'm not underpowering Shirou, I'm "restricting" him, and this chapter should explain why – by hinting which HF route he took.

Sorry for the long note, but a lot of people felt I just somehow didn't understand that UBW was a last resort. I do. Shirou made a huge investment, in the hopes it would pay off by scaring others away. As for those talking about witnesses or satellites… Shirou is certain Sekirei are magus related, and he can't be expected to know there are satellites watching each Sekirei. MBI satellites are alien technology and very advanced… Shirou couldn't know this… he would expect grainy images, and certainly not zoomed in enough to even make out the smallest details.

P.s. To those who point out where i repeat words too soon after one another... it annoys me too, i'm sorry. xD - I try to avoid it but some slip through. Argh! E.g. "like Matsu's power. Her power..." - Too much POWAH!

Chapter 6

Karasuba smiled rapturously as she tilted her head back and stared into the night. It was beautiful. No clouds in the sky, the moon and stars illuminating the world around her, blood splayed across the floor beneath her. It could only be better if it had been her to shed it. Closing her eyes lightly, she almost believed she could smell it on the faint breeze.

"This is grim." That irritating woman grunted from nearby, ruining her mood even as the acrid scent of her cigarette interrupted the atmosphere. Sahashi Takami was responsible for the collection of terminated Sekirei, and normally wouldn't have needed the presence of the disciplinary squad, had it not been for one small discrepancy.

"I'm not sure I see the problem." Karasuba responded with a smirk, enjoying baiting the woman where she could. "The trash has been terminated. And you don't even need to be careful about how you transport it home. It's convenient."

"It's a level five termination!" The woman gritted back, taking a longer puff of her worthless drugs.

"Mmm... my favourite." After all, they always fought that little bit harder... found that last bit of desperation, of determination. And it was all the more satisfying when she cut them down after letting them exhaust that.

"Takami-san. Did the tracking systems determine which Sekirei was responsible for this?" The male voice came from behind them, the well-dressed Ashikabi of the disciplinary squad stepping into view. Karasuba scoffed to herself, of half the disciplinary squad anyway... She wouldn't let him touch her, not yet.

"The... body is of no.11, Hikari. The problem is that there was only one other Sekirei on the rooftop at this time, and that was her sister, no.12 Hibiki. But I don't think they would have killed one another, they've both been winged by the same man."

Karasuba allowed them their moment to talk amongst themselves as she walked over to where two men were trying to carefully lift the fallen woman into a container. Naturally at the sight of her approaching they stopped in fear and moved away. Spineless humans.

So this was no.11 was it? Karasuba sneered. Ridiculous choice of outfits left aside, the woman had died with a confused expression on her face, and the wound had entered her back. She'd either tried to run away, or been too stupid to expect someone to attack from behind. Not worthy of living either way. Still, the cause of death was interesting enough. A straight piercing wound with very clean exit from the front of her chest, it had cut by her heart and although it hadn't pierced it had severed arteries and damaged her spine. In some senses it was more a fatal strike than aiming for the heart itself.

It was the angle itself that told her all that was needed. It was caused by a straight blade with a wide width. Importantly, wider than a katana. This wasn't Mutsu's work, or any of the other blade Sekirei, who pretty much all used curved Japanese blades forged by MBI.

"Oh Kuro... you shouldn't have..." The words slipped out unbidden, even as giddy warmth suffused her body. Her teeth bit down on her lower lip, cutting off the pleased moan she knew would come out. She doubted he'd meant it as a gift for her, but it made her just as flushed. Such a clean strike, instantly fatal... and leaving the other alive?

Oh that's very clever Kuro-kun... so very clever. She wasn't a fan of the strategy herself, her reputation was inspiring enough that she didn't need to leave survivors. But this was a move reminiscent of ancient warlords... massacring an army but for a single man... then making that lone terrified man walk back to his kingdom alone, often clutching the severed heads of his fellow soldiers. It was an intimidation act, to build fear and demoralise the enemy. To make sure the next time they met the enemy would be too terrified to fight.

Is this your response to my little play Kuro-kun? Through Minaka I've set all the Ashikabi and Sekirei against you. And you try to end the game so early by cowing them into submission?

That wouldn't do!

Not at all... But then... she doubted it would work as he expected. After all, he wasn't a Sekirei at all, just a ... human? No, he was more than the other trash; he was what humans should be. But either way he was trying to apply his logic to how other humans would work. How could you be expected to know Kuro? That even with you being a feared figure, it only makes you all the more appealing to the stronger Ashikabi. After all... even if a Sekirei fears to face you... it won't matter if their kind... loving... master... orders them to.

And she knew of a certain Ashikabi that would be only too happy to add such a man to his collection... and wouldn't it be amazing to cross blades with Kuro and Mutsu at the same time?

"You find anything?" That damn voice interrupted, cutting into her thoughts and drawing her back to boring reality. That woman again, never quite knowing when she should quit.

"She's been stabbed." She offered with a smile, eyes crinkling but staying open just a little, all the better to watch the frustration burning on that face.

"Thank... you... Karasuba. But I don't suppose your detective skills have given you some insight into the attacker?" The words dripped with sarcasm, yet despite herself, Karasuba saw an opportunity. If I set the world against you Kuro? Will you make it burn?

"This termination was caused by Sekirei no.109. Kuro." Frustration gave way to exasperation as the woman threw her arms up, almost hitting Benitsubasa on the way, causing the short girl to glare in anger.

"Not this nonsense again. I don't know what game you and that fool are playing. There are 108 Sekirei. No more." Karasuba smiled.

"That you know of. Did you think you were privy to all the secrets of MBI Takami-san? How adorable." Oh? Her hands were twitching now, she wondered how far the woman could go before storming off... maybe if she was lucky the stupid woman would have a coronary and die.

"We did see a Sekirei matching Karasuba a few days back." Benitsubasa piped in, recalling that rooftop incident. Her good mood washed away as she snarled at the stupid brat.

"He didn't match me fool. And you'd do good to remember exactly who your superior is. Even winged you still can't hope to match me." The brat blushed and fumed but didn't say anything. Karasuba knew she was too important for MBI to lose, she was the only Sekirei truly capable of dealing with the other single digits. And no. 105 and 106 wouldn't even be able to handle the drunk if she was throwing her guts up.

"What pettan-chan means if that he wasn't dead in an instant, he must be a Sekirei." Haihane piped in, trying to cover for the younger Sekirei.

"So what do you know about this 109 Karasuba-san?" Natsuo enquired politely. For human trash he was at least somewhat acceptable. He knew his place and was polite to those who were stronger than him. If only he had some more appealing traits to go along with it.

"Oh, why would you assume I know anything about him?"

"Probably because he's apparently just like you! If this is anything to go by!" Takami growled out as she threw her arm about for emphasis. Despite herself, Karasuba felt a thrill of anticipation. He was like her, wasn't he? Oh he didn't seem to take the same enjoyment in fighting and killing - but he was certainly apt at it. This wasn't some lucky strike. This was a perfect killing blow, delivered with the full knowledge and intent of ending a life. God she wished she could have seen the look in his eyes when he delivered it. Were they filled with excitement and glee? Or did they have that steely determination that could make you shiver deep inside?

"Mmm that flattery. Then I guess I can share something with you Doctor-chan. Kuro is a blade user like myself, except instead of specialising in just one weapon." At this she hefted her nodachi just a little, before letting it fall back to her side. "He uses a variety of bladed weapons. From knives to swords. Most all of which however... are straight bladed."

"The wound..." The woman muttered to herself, finally getting the hint which had let her identify the killer. She would surely have figured it out later anyway, she was a medical expert after all. "But why didn't the satellites pick up his trace?"

"Well that's simple." Karasuba offered with a wide smile. "Kuro doesn't have any form of tracker within him."

The anarchy that ensued from that statement made her day all the better.

That loud banging wasn't going away. For the first few seconds of hearing it he'd simply grumbled to himself and buried his face in his pillow, it was probably Musubi running around with no sense of poor men who had weird working hours. Or maybe it was Kuu-chan, who he could forgive for being too young to know any better. Either way, Homura had become a man who could boast a serious level of skill in sleeping through loud mornings. He owed it to his liver after all.

It wasn't until his sleep addled mind attributed the noise to his own door that he accepted that he'd need to leave the comfortable warmth behind and face the cruel world. Pushing himself up from the covers he blearily reached about for a discarded and wrinkled dress shirt, pulling the still buttoned up clothing over his head. It looked like he'd fallen asleep in his black trousers again, so that was one job he got to skip.

Still half asleep he stumbled to the rattling door pausing with one hand on it as he looked down at his cold bare feet. Time seemed to freeze for a moment, as it did for all heavy sleepers who were faced with challenging decisions. In the end lack of effort won out and he slid the door open, eyes aching slightly as the bright light invaded his sanctuary and his tired corneas. A blob of purple stood before him, and considering it was morning he assumed it wasn't that drunk come back to Maison Izumo.

"Miya…?" He wasn't sure how he meant to follow it up. Please? Why? How could you? Instead he let it trail off, if it had been anyone else he would have just closed the door in their face, but it wasn't like Miya would wake him for no reason.

"I apologise Homura-kun. But Seo-san requests your presence." Seo? Kaoru Seo!? Miya had woken him for this? For a moment he considered closing the door and going back to sleep before realising just how Miya would react to such rude behaviour. He wasn't willing to wake up to that ever!

"Okay… okay…" He mumbled as he slid the door open further and stepped outside taking a moment to stretch his arms back over his head so his back cracked slightly. Miya briskly motioned for him to follow her and headed down the corridor.

It seemed he wasn't the only one the oft-unemployed man had asked for, because Minato and his full flock bar Kusano were present, along with Uzume. It wasn't their presence in the crowded room which made him pause however.

Seo was knelt by a bundle of sheets, one hand stroking the face of the person ensorcelled within. The image would have already seemed uncharacteristically gentle for the perverted man, were it not for the stony expression on his face. It was the look of a man who had already exhausted the amount of emotion he could feel in a day, and was just doing his best to stay standing.

Homura didn't think he'd ever woken up so fast in his short life. Quietly sitting down by the silent Uzume he waited for the man to say what he needed to. If he hadn't already realised just how serious this was, the sight of Miya politely giving the man some tea certainly would have convinced him. A long silence followed as he sipped at his tea with one hand, the other refusing to abandon skin contact with the Sekirei beneath him. From the corner of his eye Homura noticed Musubi shifting restlessly but ignored it.

"Hikari is dead." The words he'd feared were delivered softly, causing a pit to open in his stomach even as some of the others gasped in shock. Beside him Uzume let out a sorrowful sigh. The others took it about as well as could be expected – Minato with shock and horror, perhaps too naive to truly have understood the Sekirei plan. Matsu simply closed her eyes, sometimes it was hard to remember she was a member of the original disciplinary squad. Musubi took it the worst, a confused expression on her face as if she didn't fully understand the concept.

"How did this happen?" The younger human in the room breathed out, laying one hand on Musubi's arm, either for comfort or to keep her quiet – Homura couldn't tell.

"She was killed last night when she approached that new Sekirei." There was a multitude of exclamations around the room at the words though there was only one in Homura's mind.

"Uh? A new Sekirei?" Why hadn't he heard anything about this?

"The Director released a new Sekirei into the plan and sent a text to all the Ashikabi to explain." Uzume explained quickly, without any sound of teasing in her voice. Sometimes it was easy to forget she was actually a winged Sekirei herself. "We got a brief description, a name and a number. No. 109, Kuro. Black coat, mask and hood."

No way, that man on the rooftop? Didn't he say he was winged? But no, he hadn't. He'd just assumed it because he was there after the Director had sent that text to the Ashikabi about Kusano… Miya seemed to have a complicated expression on her face, something between a snort of disbelief and disgust.

"Did he attack you?" Minato asked with worry. Seo didn't answer but instead seemed to busy himself in checking on the condition of his Sekirei… his only… Sekirei. Homura understood the silence for what it was, Hibiki and Hikari had been playing their usual games and had bitten off more than they could chew. Not that he would say that out loud. They'd already suffered enough for that mistake without him pouring salt in the wound.

"I wanted to warn you all." He spoke after a long pause, his eyes still not leaving Hibiki's face. "Hibiki… wasn't in her right mind when she came back to me." That was probably accurate… Hibiki and Hikari had never been apart from one another, he wasn't sure how one would even manage without the other. "But she wouldn't sleep until she'd told me about this guy and what he could do…"

"Matsu guesses she didn't want her Ashikabi going off to get revenge." The hacker piped up as she removed her glasses from her face and began to clean them. "The last thing she would need is to lose her Ashikabi as well."

"Heh… If you're trying to guilt me into not going after this guy then you don't have to. Hibiki made me promise I wouldn't go anywhere near him if I could help it."

"Will you be sticking to that promise?" Matsu asked again. Minato turned to rebuke her for the rudeness but Homura could understand that the question was asked to better protect Hibiki.

"She made me promise on Hikari."

Ah… well that would definitely make sure he stuck to it.

"Seo." Uzume interrupted while leaning forward. "Did Hibiki say anything about his abilities or fighting style? If he gets winged we might be forced to fight him." Uzume had never really said anything about her Ashikabi… Homura knew it was another woman, but didn't have a name or anything else to go on. Idly he wondered if Uzume's Ashikabi had designs on this 109, or if she was scoping him out as a potential enemy.

"Yeah but it doesn't make much sense. He's a sword user but he also throws them around for ranged attacks. I don't mean knives either; Hibiki said he threw swords at her and not just one – at least ten to twenty at once."

That sounded about right, he could remember that time on the rooftop so long ago when he'd managed to dodge a knife heading towards him. But it had been a little longer than a normal knife would be he supposed… but that wasn't the weirdest thing about him…

"So he's just a fighter?" Uzume continued. Seo shook his head no.

"That's where it gets weird. Hibiki said he was able to summon the swords rather than carry them. And he also did something… " He seemed to hesitate as he rubbed his face. "I'll just say it frank. Apparently he changed the sky, the floor, everything. Hibiki swears they were fighting in a desert with a cloudy sky with weird noises."

"Huh…" Uzume breathed out in response, less a question and more of an unsure hum. Homura could hardly blame her, or Seo for feeling weird saying it. Sekirei powers just weren't that diverse.

"Matsu isn't familiar with any no.109, and I know MBI doesn't have any written records on him either… or they didn't last time I checked." The hesitation on her face suggested that she wasn't certain enough on the fact though. "Even so most Sekirei have main powers even if they are able to fight normally in combat as well. Those who are pure fighting Sekirei tend to be stronger than usual in that regard."

"You're going to have to explain that one." Uzume grunted as she leaned back onto her heels… Matsu tended to speak in a manner that was hard to understand, especially when she was explaining things.

"Take for instance Homura-tan. His main ability is over fire." She gestured to him and he nodded. He supposed he was a safer choice since he'd never kept his abilities a secret and he didn't have an Ashikabi Matsu could be endangering… one day I hope… "Even though Homura-tan uses fire as his main weapon he is still strong and fast enough to fight in melee. This is the same with all elemental Sekirei, who are all still far stronger and faster than humans."

"Ah! But Musubi is a fist type." The bubbly girl piped up with a pout.

"Yes. There are Sekirei who don't seem to have any elemental abilities but use nothing but weapons or fists to fight. But these pure fighting Sekirei are much stronger than elemental types like Homura-tan."

"Oh! Is this how Musubi's punches put holes in walls and can make small craters?" Minato exclaimed as he suddenly understood where she was coming from. "So we're trying to figure out whether this new Sekirei is a fighting type like Musubi, or an elemental type who is just good with swords?"

"Correct Minato-sama!" She crowed. "Matsu used to know a Sekirei who was very skilled with a sword, enough that everyone was sure he was a swordsman Sekirei… but he is actually an earth type who did his best to learn the sword. Compare that to… that other woman I knew… she was a monster with her sword."

Mutsu and Karasuba. Homura knew instantly who she was referring to, though the trivia about Mutsu's abilities was certainly helpful. Homura too had assumed he used his sword as his main weapon.

"Illusions." The grizzled man finally interrupted. The one word cutting into the conversation like a knife through butter. "It would explain the sand and the sky changing. Hibiki also said when he threw the swords at them he appeared behind… Hikari. If the thrown swords were just to distract her, he could have used his illusions to get behind her to attack."

"But why would he make an illusion of a desert?" Minato asked with a confused expression. Uzume answered before Seo could give his own.

"To put them off guard…" She seemed impressed even as she said it. "Illusions probably aren't much use at actually hurting someone, so he'd have to be a good fighter. He'd also need a weapon capable of putting someone down quickly – no use giving them time to figure him out."

"So the whole desert thing was to keep them confused." He young man finished. "But that doesn't answer the main question. How dangerous is this guy?" The silence came back again.

"Hard to fight what you can't see." Matsu piped in.

"Hikari and Hibiki were hardly inexperienced…" Homura added in, the two of them had more combat experience than most, and their teamwork was great.

"Sounds like he was good enough with those swords that he barely had to use his abilities." Uzume let out with a grimace.

"He's someone to avoid." Seo finished. "You didn't see Hibiki after that fight. They weren't just beaten, they never had a chance. It was over in a single attack, and what's more he was so sure of himself that he didn't even bother to attack Hibiki. He didn't try to disarm them or run them off, he just killed her!"

His anger vanished in an instant as Hibiki seemed to whimper in her sleep, the older man fawning over her as he gently stroked her face and whispered soothing words. The rest of them looked amongst one another with serious expressions.

"We avoid this man." Minato spoke with a firm voice, not often heard from the shy teen. "I don't care what you're doing Musubi, if we see him we run."

"I agree Minato-sama." Matsu answered in place of the younger Sekirei who seemed ready to complain. "From what we know of him already the only one who could safely face him is Homura-tan."

"Eh!? Why me?" He spluttered out, not really enjoying the idea of fighting this Sekirei either. The way he sounded… it reminded him uneasily of the Black Sekirei.

"It's hard to fight a Sekirei you can't see." Matsu repeated before smiling. "But it's pretty hard to fight a Sekirei in the middle of a bonfire as well." She finished with a wave as she left the room, leaving just himself and Miya with the grieving man.

"Seo-san. Why don't you stay here for a little while. It will do Hibiki-chan good to be around some friendly faces." Miya suggested while gently rubbing his shoulder. Homura couldn't help but think she was missing out that it would do him some good as well. Homura stepped out the room as the man replied before rubbing his face with his hands. He hadn't exactly got on well with Hikari but he certainly wouldn't have wished this on her.

But this was all bound to happen right? And in the end it wasn't this Kuro's fault, but that bastard and his Sekirei plan… It was a few moments later that Miya let herself out of the room, sliding the door shut behind her.

"Despite what Matsu-chan might have said Homura-kun. I do not think you should consider seeking this… person… out." It was delivered as more of a suggestion than an order, but he still couldn't help but feel a little nervous to be around Miya when she was in a bad mood.

"Person. So you don't think he's a Sekirei either?" She seemed to pause for a moment before waving him off with a smile.

"Ara. What would a landlady like me know of such things?"

And that was the end of it wasn't it? If Miya didn't want to talk about it then he wasn't brave enough to press the issue…. Besides, he had his own source, and he was due to meet her this afternoon at his club.

He'd get answers then.

He woke up sweating. Pain. His vision wasn't right, not quite as it should be, fuzzy and blurring. A high pitched sound screamed in the back of his mind even as his back arched and lifted itself from the soaked mattress.

The pain. Root, the pain. It screamed in his mind. It roared in his heart and lungs. And his arm… no, not his… how it burned.

Where am I? Rin? Saber!? No! I'm in New Tokyo… I'm… More pain, this time originating in the back of his mind and causing him to close his eyes in agony. In his mind he could almost see images, blood, broken glass and flashes of light. No, it can't end yet! He had to stabilise himself somehow…

The mirror. If he could see himself, it always helped. With limbs protesting he forced himself to his feet, staggering towards the bathroom. His body slammed into the wooden frame beside the door. For a moment he considered bursting through the thin material before he slammed it aside. The sink was still bloody, it helped… that blood was from himself. From… Ar-no… from… Shirou? That was it… Shirou. Emiya Shirou.

The vision blurred again and for a moment he thought he was falling before it righted. The face in the mirror stared back at him… angular face, whit-No! Red hair. Red. A scar below his eye, that was new… no, wait it wasn't. He didn't have a scar. His eyes burned as the colours and images washed away again. Frantically he latched onto the one thing that was different.

Th- -car… focus th- scar. Roofto-… grey hair… woman… nodachi. He could feel the noise in his mind receding, the quiet settling once more. His eyes still ached but his vision was clear. It was a crazy woman… no it was a bird – Sekirei… felt like Lancer. She cut me on the face after I made the mistake of getting complacent using Archer's style… well, my style.

A long rasping breath and he was done. His arm still ached, as if complaining about the promise he'd made so long ago to its true owner. He could ignore it. He always had. A splash of cold water to the face was enough to finally cleanse him of the pain, the remainder swirling around the bowl to wash away the blood he hadn't cleaned before.

Letting the tap continue to run he slumped down with his back against the wall, resting his arms on his knees. So close. It seemed he was getting closer and closer each time he broke into his abilities. Or was it just the abilities they both shared? He hadn't had so much trouble with the simple projection… and reinforcement seemed to be harmless so long as he didn't think of swords within his own body…

Reaching up he pinched a lock of the hair on his fringe before drawing it down into his line of sight. Being on the edge of his vision and with the light behind it, it wasn't easy to tell but it was definitely not white.

Not sure why I'm expecting it to turn white in a single night… he probably had it change over time. And if I had any it's not like early grey hair will make me him…

He couldn't let it happen again… he didn't know how he'd survived back then but even after waking the world wasn't how he'd ever wanted it. Sakura? Dead. Saber? Dead. Rider? Gone…. Even Ilya…. Dead…. All he'd woken up to was a white hospital and an inconsolable Rin.

Even now she wouldn't tell him just how he'd recovered. She'd just made him promise to never let it happen again.

Sorry Rin… It wouldn't happen again though… truly he shouldn't have used it to defeat those two women. Oh, they had been dangerous. That control over lightning could have been disastrous for him… He wasn't sure what he could trace to deal with them safely. Not a held weapon by any sense, it would have acted like a lightning rod for him. These Sekirei had already proved themselves fast enough to dodge thrown weapons…

He could have traced a noble phantasm, but which to use? His favoured blades were denied to him, a quick way to an early grave. A bow might not have been a bad idea, it would certainly have been fast enough to kill them. The problem was standing still long enough to loose the arrow, and how defenceless he would be after firing… there were two after all. Regardless it was over now. With one of them completely and utterly slaughtered it was unlikely that they would bother him again. What's more he could probably trust the survivor to pass on rumours of his power.

That should be enough to keep that ice woman and the whip user away from him in future. In the end he'd risked his mind… to prevent more situations where he would need to risk it. A worthy trade he felt.

The problem now, was that he would be labelled as someone to never approach or at the very least flees from. That was all well and good for avoiding being attacked on lone rooftops, but wouldn't do much to convince people to chat with him and tell him what the hell was going on.

I'm a … Sekirei now. At least as far as these people are concerned. What that means is still beyond me… at the moment other Sekirei just seem to want to kill me. But surely there had to be more to it than that? There was some talk of winging… But never anything concrete - just vague references. Was he winged, wasn't he? Despite that they all seemed to ask him that question it never seemed to change anything about their encounters. The lightning duo had said they would kill him whether or not he was winged… and the ice maiden and the whip user had pretty much expressed the same.

Though there had been mention of slavery in that one somewhere. At least he had an identity to use now. That Karasuba might have thought she had him on the run with her little games… but this would let him move easier. He wasn't an outsider now, he was one of them. And no matter what this winging was…if it was limited to these Sekirei, then it couldn't happen to him as a human could it?

A beeping noise from his pocket distracted him from his musing. He was still wearing the same trousers from last night… they'd need washing… and his bed probably. Root damn it… At least the phone was in good condition, there was no telling what all that lightning could have done to its delicate circuitry. A text? From Uzume perhaps?

I'm coming to Japan for some time off. I'll be in town in a week. –Rin

"Fuck my life."

"It's unlike you to request we meet earlier." The woman questioned as she leaned forwards accepting the flame he generated to light her cigarette. She passed him a second which he slipped between his own lips and lit with a pleased sigh. The two of them were sat in his usual private booth. Takami could certainly afford the luxury with her impressive MBI salary, and the owner of the club was very keen to accommodate this woman who apparently "idolised" Kagari so…

It was a little creepy to imagine what everyone thought they were doing in a soundproofed room.

"Maybe I just missed you." He offered with a charming smile. The stern woman glared at him for a moment before snorting in amusement, drawing a smile from him as well.

"I'm sure Homura. Or should I call you Kagari?" He shrugged easily at her question as he leaned back in his padded seat.

"Here I'm Kagari, and when I'm working my other job of course. In fact…" He leaned forwards in his seat and let the jovial expression slip from his face. "My other job is why I asked you to meet me a little earlier than planned." The woman across from him grimaced as she took a drink of beer. There was certainly something wrong with the world when the woman was drinking a pint of beer and the man had a cocktail, but this woman had more steel in her than most.

"Of course you are." Another long puff of smoke. "I take it you're referring to no.11?"

"Hikari." He interrupted with a small frown. She knew he hated it when she, or anyone, referred to them as mere numbers. She waved it off.

"Hikari, yes…. How is her twin coping?"

"Alive but devastated. She was still sleeping when I left her. She has her Ashikabi with her though." He hadn't sought to disturb their grief, not so soon after it had happened.

"Hmm… that's good. I'd always been a little worried at how close the two of them were. I wasn't exactly sure what would happen if one died and the other lived."

"I'll keep you updated if she needs medical attention." He offered. Neither Miya nor Seo would be thrilled to involve MBI… but they were happy to offer medical attention to injured Sekirei, so long as it was within the game rules. "But what I'm after is some info on the attacker, no. 109."

"Not this bullshit again!" She hissed as she slumped back in her seat and banged the glass down on the table. Homura's eyes widened at the uncharacteristic display. "There is no extra Sekirei. I don't know what game Minaka and that blasted crow are playing."

"I was a little suspicious." He admitted with a shrug. "But then I'm not exactly knowledgeable on the 108 out there. I just assumed he was somewhere between 13 and 106…. Just how certain are you that there are no more though?"

"I was there. It was Minaka and I who found that ship and pried it open. There were exactly 108 Sekirei in there, no more." Well that was pretty compelling he had to admit…

"Any chance one of them was lost before you got there?" The woman shook her head.

"There was only room for 108, and even if one was lost how would Minaka know? No.04 claims she knows him personally which I don't believe for a second." He couldn't bring himself to argue the use of a number on that one… to hell with the black Sekirei.

"How's that crazy bastard even related to this?" He asked with a sigh, not needing to explain who he meant when dealing with Takami.

"It's the simple fact that he's declared this Kuro to be the 109th, and then passed this onto every Ashikabi in the area! Not to mention he's classified any information we have on him to just himself. Erased it all from the databases, I've tried breaking into it."

There went his idea to ask Matsu… probably for the best, no telling what she might demand back for such a favour.

"And 04 is involved?"

"Close enough. She claims to know him and it's her that first declared him a Sekirei because he got into a fight with her and lived to tell the tale." That wasn't a good sign, least of all that Karasuba herself was interested in this guy. But even worse that he could apparently fight the Black Sekirei and live. "Thing is… she's been quite absent minded whenever it concerns him lately. Lost in her own thoughts. I'd almost say she was into him if he wasn't a Sekirei."

"So now you think he is?" He prodded with a long sigh, he could already tell what her response would be.

"What else can he be if he can fight with her?" Yeah… that was pretty much it wasn't it? What human could fight Karasuba and live? What human could kill Hikari and get away with it?

And if he wasn't human… what else could he be?

"Everyone thinks he has the power of illusions." He offered after a few moments, eager for whatever knowledge she could impart – but knowing that their relationship was a two way one. "He's a good fighter with swords, but he seemed to use some kind of illusion ability to make them believe they were in a desert."

"Hmm… I couldn't access satellite footage." The woman admitted with a scowl. "The satellites watching no. 11 and 12 have some footage missing. The gap is so unsubtle it must be Minaka's work. I might be able to trace the weapons if you could find one… MBI supplies most of the weapons the Sekirei own. We call them MBI special alloys but well… you know."

Yeah MBI alloys? More like alien alloys. Most likely whatever material their ship had been made out of.

"There's a problem there too." And now it was his turn to feel a little foolish as he explained what seemed hard to accept. "I met this Kuro before, even talked to him briefly. He threw a blade at me and fled when I started throwing fire around." Which was strange now that he thought about it… if he could fight the 04 surely he could have taken Homura on? Unbidden Matsu's words about him having the best chance came back to him.

"And let me guess you threw it away."

"Not quite." He answered with a huff… how absent minded did she think he was? He wasn't Musubi for God's sake. "It kind of… well… it disintegrated?"

"Disintegrated? You burned it?"

"No, it just fell to pieces. Into little particles of light or something." He'd felt it though before it went, it had weight to it.

"Well if you're right about the illusions…" and the way she said it suggested that she still wouldn't accept that he was a Sekirei with such an ability. "We see things because of light reflecting into our eyes, so you could argue that to make illusions you would need to distort light in some way… It's either that or the person can mess with your brain directly and if he could do that I doubt he'd need swords to kill you."

"So I've either got an illusionist super-human or someone who can kill me with the power of his mind? What a fantastic day this is turning out to be. Has Minaka been declared world leader too?"

"No one says you have to seek him out you know." That much was true… but he couldn't help but feel he had to meet him again. That last meeting had left something of a sense of disappointment in him… as though not everything had been said between them.

"I'll probably run into him eventually." He evaded the real question in her words, but the look on her face said she hadn't been fooled.

"Hmm…" She dragged it out as she took another long drag, the cigarette almost at its end before she continued. "So long as you're cautious you might get away with it. I imagine those two went in with their usual approach and attacked him. Harsh as it sounds, they weren't going to get away with it forever. Eventually they'd cross the wrong person. Though I thought it would be that brat Hayato or even Higa…"

"They hardly deserved this…" He felt compelled to defend them, even if he'd never approved of it…

"Did any of their victims?" He couldn't respond. "To be honest I've no idea what the deal was between them and that guy… what plan they were aiming for. But it's backfired here."

"So you're thinking self-defence?" He interrupted, trying to move away from the uncomfortable subject of the late Sekirei.

"Maybe. Could be he was trying to defend himself and went too far. Can't really underestimate two Sekirei just outside the top ten. Then again, he could be just like Karasuba. Why pass up a free kill?"

"Then why spare Hibiki?" He asked with a shudder. Takami in her place just shrugged.

"Nothing that crow does makes sense. If he's like her he could be just as flighty. Maybe he wants her to come after him for revenge?"

He hummed noncommittally in response. If that was his angle then it was a bust, because the girl was terrified of him and didn't want anything to do with him. If they couldn't take him together she'd need a norito to even scratch him… and she'd made Seo promise to stay the hell away from him….

But Homura had to know. Had to speak with him and understand… He couldn't understand why – it was just a feeling inside of him like he had to speak with this person and understand. He'd just need to approach him and make it clear he didn't want any violence.

If worst came to worst? Maybe he could follow Matsu's advice this one time…

Well that's it for the chapter. It's not as long as the others but the reason I wanted this out so quickly after the last was that it is an important chapter for exposition. It basically sets the scene for Shirou to meet Minato's flock officially (as Kuro) and finally induct him into the Sekirei plan.

Also I know... too little Shirou. Next chapter will be like 70% Shirou. 20% Homura WITH Shirou. 10% Karasuba about Shirou...

Next Chapter – Minato moves to wing Tsukiumi, while Homura hunts Kuro. Meanwhile Karasuba is looking for a man with a distinctive scar (who didn't kill her father ^-^ ).

I was never a fan of Gabriel giving a spoilers section before each chapter where he explained his reasoning, but now I'm beginning to think it may be necessary so people don't send so many reviews screaming at me for not understanding things I DO understand, and that ARE explained later – just not now.

My Reasonings – There are tiny spoilers in here, if you think its better safe than sorry skip it.

This chapter pretty much stated the HF route Shirou took. I think 90% of people just frankly assumed when I said HF that it was the true ending… calling me an idiot for not having Sakura, and Shirou still having Archer's arm… etc… As you can hopefully tell from Shirou's problems here this is actually Sparks Liner High. Now I KNOW… Shirou's mind and self were shattered, Saber said as much. But his body was still alive. Saber also stated that the combat between Rin and Sakura was not a foregone conclusion (her job was just to stop Shirou). So here Rin was able to harden her heart and kill Sakura while Shirou distracted Saber and lost his mind.

Now I know that this wasn't just a small headache or coma, and certainly not something he could recover from given some bed rest. Please trust in me when I say there IS a good reason he is still here, and that he now is back in his own mind. A few of you may be able to figure it out from some of the hints given in this fic. It does NOT involve me misinterpreting or bastardising Natsu lore! Not Avalon, not Rin, etc…

A few people guessed this was a Mind of Steel story, and while you were definitely close by thinking out of the box, you weren't quite there. I guess the difference is mentality. In Sparks Liner High Shirou had promised to save his friends and be selfish, rather than a mind of steel mentality – but ultimately failed. No new body to stabilise him as a result.

I will state here that Shirou is NOT a Sekirei (in case anyone thinks that). Karasuba IS lying to mess with him, and also because she respects him and refuses to respect a human. But honestly the fic could be changed to make him one (I won't) – but it's an interesting idea that some people raised. Perhaps when I get to a certain point in the story I will branch out. Continue this as the main story but make a separate side story (less regularly updated) where he is a Sekirei… would be interesting at least.