Different Paths: The Tyrant God

Kirito grit his teeth, blood dripping from the dozens of wounds he had received from the rain of swords.

Ryuudou temple. That was the setting of this final battle.

Rin and Shirou had climbed the steps to stop the corrupted pulsating flesh that was now the Holy Grail. Kirito had stayed behind to face Gilgamesh, their last opponent.

The golden Archer had let the pair of Masters pass, amused at their efforts, and intrigued by Kirito's confident air.

The Black Swordsman wouldn't let his comrades down. Since Shirou and Rin needed him to beat Gilgamesh, he would do that.

But... he was losing. Despite his skill, despite the strength he gained from his bonds, despite his abilities, he was losing.

A hero. That was who he was. A protector of those he allied with, someone who would protect them from even the cruel reality that threatened to erase them. But... what can a hero do against an unlimited armory of divine weapons?

"Do you see now, boy? A simple delusion won't defeat me." The golden king scoffed. "I'm surprised that you managed to beat any Servant with your meager skills. The quality of heroes must have dropped since my rule if they can be beaten by a boy like you."

Kirito slumped, lowering his gaze. He had played his final cards, and they couldn't trump the King of Heroes.

Elucidator broke against the first prototype Noble Phantasm Gilgamesh shot out.

Dark Repulsor had shattered to prevent the first volley, giving him another minute of life.

Lambent Light... Asuna's blade. Even she was only able to protect him for so long before her rapier shattered, leaving him alone once more.

And Excaliber... the sword of their bonds, of the caliber he and his allies possessed. Matched against Merodach, the Sword Cutting all of Steel and Tree was severed, unable to withstand the first sword of selection.

Kirito had nothing left.

"I guess I can't win this one. Sorry Shirou, everyone."

The Tyrant King of Heroes raised his hand, a volley of over a thousand blades primed to shoot behind him in the Gate of Babylon.. "Die and wake from that shallow dream of yours."

The rain of swords fell.

Kirito closed his eyes.

The first sword reached him in an instant, and would have ended his life then, but-

CLANG

"...Are you giving up already?"

-it was intercepted by an unexpected ally.

"That voice!" Kirito opened his eyes, staring in disbelief at the one standing before him. It was the one person he thought he would never see again, not since their final meeting.

A figure with a heroic visage, clad in crimson armor. Eyes that were sharp, benevolent, and yet empty, those that would not have looked out of place on a god.

The immortal tyrant that had created and ruled over Aincrad... the god that had descended among his denizens to live with them, who had decided to help them towards ascension, even while he was the true opponent waiting for them at the top.

"Heathcliff... no, Kayaba?"

Here he was, standing again in front of him despite having been separated by death, time, and space.

He half-turned his head towards Kirito, as if scorning, as if encouraging him. "Where is that indomitable spirit that faced me? That will that defied even the world trying to erase you?"

Kirito didn't have a chance to answer, as the King of Heroes glared at the one who dared interrupt their fight. "...Who are you, dog?"

Kayaba sighed and turned back towards Gilgamesh. "...I suppose I can forgive you this time. I'll admit that this foe is not one you can face. Just this once, I'll be your shield."

"...Kayaba?"

The paladin turned around one more time, and what Kirito saw surprised him. Gone was the steely immortal that he had faced, the ruthless and cold god of Aincrad. Instead, there was Heathcliff, the charismatic leader of the Knights of Blood who had teased him when he said he would marry Asuna, the one who had shared a bowl of ramen with him nearly an eternity ago.

Kayaba smiled, the confident expression Kirito had seen countless times on the frontline raid meetings and during his time with the Knights of Blood. "Let your guild leader take care of this one."

Gilgamesh narrowed his eyes, crimson orbs gleaming with deadly intent. "You dare to ignore the king, intruder?"

Kayaba straightened and faced the King of Heroes. "So you are the famed king of Uruk. At one point, you owned everything in this world. That is quite impressive."

"Hmph. At least you know my name." Gilgamesh leaned back, hand raised to resume the volley of blades. "But your slight will not be left unanswered, knave."

Kayaba raised the white and red tower shield in his left hand. With a crooked smile, he said, "As I said, your tale, Gilgamesh, is impressive. However..."

He drew the blade sheathed within, causing a display of violet light and an infinite array of polygons to surround him, each emblazoned with the message 'Immortal Object'.

"I created a world. Now tell me, King of heroes. Can you defeat this immortal god that usurped 'Reality'?"

The golden Archer's eyes widened just the slightest upon realizing the nature of his new opponent. "...How surprising. Perhaps humanity has not fallen so much if it wrought one such as you. Nevertheless."

He snapped his fingers, the Gate of Babylon expanding to unleash even more blades. "Your dream will perish here, Ruler, as well as the boy behind you."

A downpour of legendary steel, unmatched in quality rained down on Kayaba and Kirito. Yet, they never struck, halted by the unwavering violet shield of immortality.

"Let's go, Kirito. We'll show him not to underestimate the infinite human potential."

A pair of blades appeared in the ground before the black swordsman, one a violet longsword with silver edges and a rounded top and the other a golden blade of undeniable strength.

Kirito grinned and wrenched out the blades, raising them in his dual blades stance. "Yeah. Let's show him the strength of Aincrad's 'Unique Skill' users."

'The Black Swordsman' and 'The Living Legend' standing side by side... a miraculous occurrence of Fate with infinite potential.

The King of Heroes had met his match at last.


A/N: Nothing too extensive or serious this time. I'd been working on the Caster snippet when this came to mind and well... I couldn't leave it be. Yeah, Kayaba showed up. Yeah, he's actually a god this time around. Aincrad was so impressive that Gilgamesh acknowledged Kayaba's worth.

So yeah. Not much else to say about this. Hope you enjoyed the short read.