Kazahana leapt from rooftop to rooftop as fast as she could, trying to get away from her pursuers. Normally, she wouldn't have any kind of problem getting away from whatever Sekirei might have been pursuing her. She may have been an elemental type, but given that she was constantly surrounded by her element, the bottle fair could call upon a great amount of speed and maneuverability. Add that to her experience gained from having been a part of the old Disciplinary Squad, and Kazahana could take on or avoid mostly anyone she pleased.
Except of course the new Disciplinary Squad, which was what happened to be chasing her that day.
Landing deftly on a roof lower than the one she jumped from, she quickly spun around and unleashed a wave of wind at the 3 Sekirei trailing behind her in midair. The two younger ones were knocked aside, but Karasuba simply sliced through the wind with her blade and shot straight towards Kazahana. The wind Sekirei juts barely managed to throw herself back before the Black Sekirei landed on top of her. "Ah, you're being awfully persistent, Crow-chan." She said.
Karasuba merely returned that small smile of hers which she always gave her prey. "Well, orders are orders, Kazahana. Personally I'd prefer it if he just let me kill off all those unwinged weaklings left, but the Director wants them under MBI's control, so…"
Kazahana's thoughts briefly moved towards the man that she had given her heart to all those years ago. "Well, if Minaka wanted to see me, all he had to do was ask."
The other woman gave a snort. "I'm pretty sure he's just going to hand you to one of his underlings. That man seems to prefer the shrew for some reason. Probably doesn't say very good thing about you."
The wind Sekirei suppressed a grimace. She hadn't really thought that the Director wanted her back, but the dig still hurt the old wound in her heart caused by his rejection. Still, she managed to smirk and put an arm under her chest. "Oh? Maybe it just means he can't handle this much woman."
"As if!" Came a brash reply, and the two other Sekirei Kazahana had knocked off course jumped over the lip of the roof to join their teammate. The one that spoke, the pink haired one wearing some kind of black gi, continued by saying "Just because you have those giant things attached to your chest doesn't mean you're a real woman!"
The other one, who had silver hair and had a pair of wicked claws strapped to her arms, gave the first woman a wiry look. "… are you sure that you're not just experiencing breast envy?"
"W-What?! Of course not! I wouldn't even be able to balance with those things! Besides, Natsuo prefers women with smaller breasts."
"… Natsuo doesn't like breasts at all." The silver haired one muttered.
Kazahana chuckled as the pink haired one fumed over her partner's comment before pulling a bottle out of her cleavage. She took several long pulls as she thought of what she was going to do next. She had been running from these three for an hour now, and while she had so far managed to keep her composure, she was starting to tire. She knew that she had managed to successfully get away a few times, but they kept finding her regardless. That meant that they had some method of tracking her movements, maybe some combination of satellites and street cameras. Whatever the case, she knew that she couldn't keep running from them.
Unfortunately, fighting wasn't a very good option either. Kazahana sighed as she pulled the now empty bottle away from her lips. "Mou, and that was the last of my good stuff." Looking back at Karasuba, she said "You're even better than I remember. Tell me, have you found the man that makes your heart race and your body flush with desire?"
The woman with the katana shrugged. "I got winged if that's what you're asking." She responded in a bored tone, as if she was commenting on the weather on not the man she had bound herself to. "It was a little earlier that I would have liked, but the Director was insistent. Besides, Natsuo and I have… similar world views."
It was as she thought. Even under normal circumstances the two younger Sekirei could have given her problems as they were good working together, but Karasuba made it a whole new level of problematic. Kazahana wouldn't have enjoyed fighting the woman back when they were both still on the Disciplinary Squad, and now she was made even stronger by the fact that she had been winged. She might have considered fighting if she had her own Ashikabi… but that was not the case.
She idly hefted the empty bottle between her palms. "I don't suppose you could just forget you saw me. For old time's sake, Crow-chan?"
Karasuba's grin became wider. "Sorry, but after all of that running around, I've gotten a little excited. Enough that I my get a little clumsy and cut you into pieces rather than capture you. Besides, your one of the few people I've been meaning to fight for a long time, 03."
"Hmm," The wind Sekirei hummed for a moment before tossing the bottle at the excitable pink haired one. "Catch."
"Huh?" She said as she caught the bottle with surprise. She was about to ask what that was about before a powerful blast of wind knocked her over, taking advantage of the momentary distraction.
As the other two rushed in, Kazahana quickly made a cyclone of air around herself. It wasn't enough to knock them away, but it did pick up copious amounts of roof gravel. Karasuba simply plowed through it, but the other silver haired one stopped short and tried to protect her face. The wind Sekirei moved to the side to avoid Karasubas slash, but didn't quite get out of the way as a shallow cut bit into her side.
Ignoring the injury, she then surprised everyone present by running straight the clawed Sekirei, who had just recovered from the impromptu wind screen. The woman stabbed straight forward with one of her claws but was again caught by surprise when Kazahana leaned back and slid under the blow, grabbing the forearm of the offending limb as she did so. As the silver haired Sekirei had planted her feet wide to keep her balance while she was blinded, this gave Kazahana just enough space to slide her body through the other woman's legs, carried by the forward momentum of her run. This was made more problematic for the claw woman by the fact that the bottle fairy still had a grip on her arm, causing said arm to go between her legs and for her body to pitch forward. Right when she had lost her balance, it was then Kazahana, still sliding on the ground, let loose another blast of wind right into the woman's center of mass.
If the clawed woman had been a man, she would not have been getting up any time soon.
Karasuba need to dodge out of the way of her flying comrade, and this gave Kazahana enough time to break off and jump to the next rooftop, this time heading north. The Black Sekirei gleefully called after her. "You can't run from me forever, 03!"
Fortunately for her, that wasn't the wind Sekirei's plan. If she couldn't run from or fight the Disciplinary Squad, well, that just meant she had to go to the one place where they couldn't follow.
I walked down the street back towards the Izumo Inn, an almost comical amount of groceries held in and dangling off my arms. After all the commotion had died down this morning and all the questions on just how I did what I did stopped, it had been decided that there would be a party in honor of Akitsu becoming an official member of the flock. Naturally as all the women were too busy fretting around Akitsu, it was up to me to get the supplies for said party.
I just wished I could share their good mood. Don't get me wrong, I was absolutely thrilled at the fact the Akitsu was winged and was feeling much better emotionally. However, I was still worried by the fact that I still wasn't really sure what had happened and how it affected the ice woman. I was still speculating the mental effects that my Light was having on me, and it was already clear that there were some definite changes that it made in her Norito. I only had Matsu to go by at the moment, but every time I preformed one with her, the wings only briefly appeared before vanishing and her ability activated. Akitsu not only manifested the wings, but also an aura of what I could only describe as 'winter' about her, and neither had vanished by the time I had left. The other Sekirei in the house found this unnatural, but reasoned that as a Norito will normally fade with time if it is not used, the woman would eventually return to normal.
That wasn't the only thing that bothered me though. What Akitsu had said, moments after she had been winged… From glories most high. I wasn't sure why, but that phrase struck some kind of cord within me. It was probably connected to the memories I had gotten along with my new abilities, but like most of what I knew, I had nothing to really connect it too. What I wanted was to have more time to study everything that had been happening to me lately.
Well, actually what I really wanted was to have Rin figure out all this stuff for me. She was always so much better at this sort of thing.
Of course, I doubted that I had the kind of time I needed to figure everything out on my own. Even putting the Sekirei Plan aside, I doubted that the Abominations I ran into yesterday would be an isolated incident. I was starting to feel more and more like my teenage self during the Grail War, thrust into a conflict I didn't understand against powers I didn't know existed and with rules that no one was playing by. It feels like all I can do is scramble around until the next thing drops in front of me.
Just as I had that thought, a blur of purple dropped from the sky in front of me and crashed into some garbage bags.
For the love of everything in the World, I hate the Root so much.
I quickly rushed over to the pile, dropping my bags as I did so and readying myself for whatever horrible monstrosity I might have to face this time. However, I was instead greeted by the sight of a voluptuous woman with long black hair and in a purple Chinese dress pulling herself up out of the pile, a wobble in her stance as she did so. The reason for that was obvious, as she was covered in a number of cuts, bruises and scuffs. Nothing looked too serious, but given the situation it looked that she had been in some kind of prolonged fight and was exhausted. My magic sense of smell also told me that she was a Sekirei, so I could guess what had happened.
She took a shaky step forward before she started to fall, but I was able grab her and keep the woman upright. "Will you be alright?" I asked. "Is anyone following you?"
She dismissively waved her hand. "Eh, I've had worse than this, though that might not-" The woman cut herself off when turned her head to look at my face. A small bloom of red crossed her cheeks and she reached out to touch the side of my face. "You… look so much like him. You have the same face."
I went stiff at this, and not just because of the unexpected contact. Now that I had a good look at her, I could now recognize her from the files of all the Sekirei I had Matsu get: No. 03, Kazahana, former member of the old Disciplinary squad. The fact that she seemed to be confusing me with someone else just added to my discomfort. Maybe she was delirious or something?
Whatever the case, confusion was cut short when three more people dropped from the sky (this time on their feet), and I hear a rather familiar voice say "Ah, it's been a while, Minato-kun."
I glanced at the gray haired woman and suppressed a grimace. "Hello Karasuba. Am I to assume that you put this woman in her current state?" I said, nodding to the woman I was holding in my arms. "Also, don't call me Minato."
"Perhaps. Of course, she might not be in such a sorry state if she had simply come with us." She replied, though I didn't like the emphasis she put on the word 'might'.
This time I did frown. "Did she do something against the rules? If so, then why do you want to bring her in? You strike me more as the 'terminate on sight' kind of woman."
The black Sekirei crinkled her eyes and put her hand on the side of her face in a motion that disturbingly reminded me of Miya. "Oh Minato-kun, you already know me so well."
It was then the pink haired one, Benitsubasa if I remembered Matsu's files correctly, spoke up. "We have orders to bring in all the remaining unwinged to MBI to be assigned an Ashikabi. Cow-chest here is one of the last ones left."
Ok, now I was confused. "Wait, what? Why would Minaka change the plan so drastically?"
The silver haired one, Haihane, gave a shrug and said. "Who knows? There's talk that the Director has some new plans and needs to accelerate things a bit, but that doesn't really matter right now."
I felt my anger begin to rise in me. For all their talk of keeping things fair, it looked like MBI wasn't above changing the rules whenever it suited them. There was no telling how many the company might have taken and added to their own forces.
As gently as I could, I set the wind Sekirei down on the ground. As I was crouched, I reached into a pair of grocery bags I had set on the ground nearby. "If you want this woman…" As I said this, I Traced Kanshou and Bayaku and pulled them out of the bag. "Then you'll have to go through me."
"W-what the-?!" The Red Sekirei said in surprise. "Where the hell did you get those?! And how the hell did you fit them into those bags?!"
"They were on sale." I remarked. "And the baggers were really good at their job."
Karasuba on the other hand, simply grew an even wider grin on her face. "Oh, you really do know me." She said as she shifted her stance, her hand drifting to the hilt of her sword.
I felt the tension build, my body preparing itself for any attack that might follow… before I abruptly wondered what the hell I was doing. I get confronted by the Disciplinary Squad, and my first instinct is to Trace swords (in a rather questionable manner no less) and threaten them? Damn it, there really was something happening to me. Given what happened yesterday, it seemed that I was having a harder time fighting my instincts, particularly when it came to 'saving people'. Yet another thing I had to worry about.
Whatever the case, I was now looking at a potential 3 on 1 fight with the Sekirei, one of which being Karasuba. Under normal circumstances I knew I would be completely screwed, but with my new abilities? There was actually a chance I might live. Of course that didn't change the fact that if I used them it would become obvious to everyone involved that I was the 'Golden Hero' that the News was talking about, and that would lead to even more problems with MBI. Most likely they would try to capture me to find out what made me tick, in which case I would have two separate organizations wanted to take me apart to learn more about two different abilities.
Whatever the case, I couldn't think about that at the moment, as the Black Sekirei was eyeing me like a cat that had cornered a mouse. It was too late to back out now, so all I could do was try my best not to get killed.
However, before anyone could move, Haihane said "We shouldn't fight him. We'd get in trouble."
Karasuba spared a glance at the woman. "And why's that? I'm sure I wouldn't mind a little punishment if we had some here."
The clawed woman gave her superior a flat look. "I think I would mind a great deal more than you would. Besides, I wasn't talking about MBI." She then pointed a bladed finger past me. The lot of us looks and saw that we were in fact within viewing distance of the Izumo Inn. "I don't think that's a level of trouble that even you could handle."
Karasuba looked back at me and Kazahana, her eyes weighing the situation. She could only guess what I was capable of, but with the 03 here as well it was likely that we could at least create enough of a commotion that Miya would hear and come investigate. At the moment I could only speculate on what the relationship between the two women were like, but I was certain it was not a pleasant one. That and given the strength of the two, the damage could potentially be catastrophic.
Still, the Black Sekirei didn't look like she wanted to leave. The grip on her sword tightened, but Benitsubasa said "Hey! I don't want Natsuo to be mad with me! Just let the vulgar breast woman go for now!"
There was a long moment before the grey haired woman gave a sigh and relaxed. "Ah well, I guess there's no helping it. I'll just have to come back later. I'll be looking forward to seeing you again, Minato-kun."
I gave her a scowl. I then suddenly kicked and apple that had fallen out of the bags that was near my foot, sending it hurling towards the woman's head. She looked surprised, but caught it out of reflex anyway. "I said don't call me that. My name is Shirou." I almost growled at her.
She looked at me for a moment before the smirk returned to her lips. "I am very much looking forward to seeing you again." She said. She then took a bite out of the apple and walked away, apparently having nothing else to say.
"Hey! Wait up!" Benitsubasu cried as she ran after the other woman. Haihane merely gave me a curious glance before casually following after the other two.
I didn't relax until the three of them were out of sight. That was a close one. I really needed to consider never leaving the inn at all. The world was just getting too dangerous as of late.
I looked down at the wind Sekirei, who was currently giving me a strange expression. "Um, do you need any help?"
The woman's expression changed to a rather sultry look. "Oh, it just seems that I've become a bit faint at the sight of your manliness. Could you carry me to that inn over there?" She asked, pointed to the Izumo Inn, framing her arms in such a way that it was very hard not to look at her impressive bust.
"I, uh, okay." I stammered, fighting the faint blush that was spreading on my face. I put down my swords (I couldn't make them disappear with her watching), and picked her up in a bridal carry before walking down the street.
Kazahana gleefully threw her arms around my neck. She looked into my eyes and whispered "My hero…"
With events shaping up the way they were, certain things within the World began to take notice. Not just in the physical one (thought that was certainly happening), but in the metaphysical as well. It particular, one such thing that is of particular note was Alaya, which was the name that Magi had given to the collective unconsciousness and will to survive of humanity. While it is most certainly aware and intelligent, it would be strictly incorrect to think of it as one would a normal entity as it is naturally made of the gestalt of the hidden part of countless human minds, being more akin to an aspect of reality or force than an actual creature.
This dilemma is compounded even further by the fact that Alaya exists outside of time, and therefore outside the many branching outcomes of probably. What that means is that Alaya is truly the amalgamation of will of every human that has, is, will, or possibly can exist, and that is not even going into how far one can stretch the definition of human. The real wonder is how anyone could hope to understand the thing. Fortunately, while it is mostly impossible to understand the whole, it is possible to understand it in part if one makes certain assumptions.
First, one could assume that rather than it being a single incompressible large being, it is instead a being made of an unaccountably large number of fragments, each one subtly different but still an integral part of a whole. Second, one could then assume that these fragments are divided between each different possible dimension, and would be comprised of all of the human beings that live there. The third assumption could be that this fragment would age and change along with the human population that makes it up as time moves forward. This is inaccurate of course, but with this assumption a person would be much closer to having an entity they could relate to.
The final assumption is that Alaya is female. There is no real reason for this other than that most humans prefer their sexual dimorphism.
When all of this is put together, it then becomes possible to sufficiently anthropomorphize the entity known as Alaya and what She was thinking when it came to a particular universe in a particular human city where a number of dimensional rifts had begun forming:
Alaya was confused.
Hopefully not as confused as the people trying to understand this.
To put it simply, She recognized that there were a number of things happening in Shin Tokyo that could potentially end in disaster. As it was Her purpose to save humanity from destruction, she had already set some things it motion to kept it from getting out of hand. However, things had gotten more complicated when some dimensional holes opened and things began to bleed between the two realities. Normally, She would assess the seriousness of the situation, find the cause of it, and react accordingly. However, Alaya found that She couldn't do a proper assessment as the source of the problem was in a dimension where She didn't exist.
She was perfectly aware that there were realties where there was no part of Her, even though in many of those humans continued to exist regardless (it has to do with how the mortals came about in the first place, but that is neither here nor there). However, this was the first time when it appeared that things from one such reality might threaten one of Her's. Now, She normally was just a reactionary force, allowing event to run their natural course until it was absolutely needed for Her to step in. This time though, as She had no idea when (or if) it would be too late, Alaya decided to do something about it.
There was a place at the Root of all existence known as the Throne of Heroes, a place where the souls if Heroes are kept for safe keeping. Within the Throne there is a special group of heroes, not known for great deeds or legends but people who had called upon Her power during their lives and thus were bound to serve her eternally upon their death. These were her Counter Guardians, the instruments of Her will. She would send five of these souls to the reality where these disturbances came from to investigate the cause, and upon finding it, destroy it. The amount She would be able to empower them (and subsequently, control them) would be drastically reduced as Alaya would be extending Her power to place She didn't exist, but She had no alternative.
Which souls She chose would be important for the task at hand. As the Throne, like Herself, was outside of time, Alaya was able to choose from a countless number of Heroes from all corners of the multiverse. Her team would most likely be comprised of people from worlds and cultures so vastly different that each would be a truly unique presence onto themselves.
Or She could pick 5 different versions of the same hero, but what were the odds of that happening?
Emiya took a deep breath upon materializing into the physical world once more. He stood perfectly still for a moment before he opened his eyes with a slight frown. Normally his mind would be completely suppressed by the will of Alaya the moment he came into existence, but that was not the case this time. Granted he could still feel the connection (unfortunately), but it was more of an insistent urge at the back of his mind rather the overwhelming command he was used to. Aside from the sort of half-sleep that was his time in the Throne of Heroes, Emiya hadn't had this sort of mental clarity since the Grail War into which he was summoned.
His lips pressed a thin line across his face at the memory. He had been so close to killing his younger self and possibly erasing himself from reality. It was a longshot, but it had been all he had. But at the last second, the shear strength of the boy's conviction in his beliefs, even in the face of what it would do to him later in life, had stayed the Counter Guardian's hand. He lost as a result, but even now he had a hard time getting truly angry about it. Odds were that Shirou wouldn't follow the same path that he did, or at the very least not be so self-destructive about it. Rin would be making sure of that.
Emiya shook his head to clear away the memories, and focused on the connection to Alaya to get a clearer idea of what he was doing. It took a few moments for the information to organize itself in his head, but once it did it became clear why the connection was so weak. So, I'm in a world where Alaya doesn't exist. It's not the first time I've been in a dimension not my own, but I've never been this far afield before. Maybe with the connection weakened, he might be able to find a moment or two to enjoy himself.
Then again, he could be in this world for a very long time. The only real instruction he had was to find the source of dimensional disturbances and destroy it. Other than that he had no idea where to go and had absolutely no information about the World he was in. Looking around himself, all he could see was that he was in some kind of temperate forest. Beyond that, the world could contain anything.
Well, maybe this will be a change of pace, Emiya thought to himself as he started forward. First thing was first, he had to find the 4 Counter Guardians that had been sent here with him. He had no idea who they were, but they should have been sent to roughly the same area he was.
It was only a few minutes before he happened upon the first one, though it was safe to say that he was not expecting what he saw. Sitting on a throne of vines, the man was slim of frame and had white hair reaching down to his shoulders. He wore simple but well-made black pants along with bright red dress shirt that Emiya could tell was a Mystic Code of some sort. The man also had pointed, elfin ears giving him an otherworldly quality.
The man was also very clearly Emiya.
He shifted on his throne and quirked an eyebrow. "Oh, how very droll."
For his part, Emiya's eyebrow twitched furiously. "I hate the Root so very much."
The elfin man gave a smirk before rising, the throne of vines collapsing to the ground as he did so. "Well, that settles it. You definitely are some kind of copy of me, though you certainly are less attractive. That is no fault of your own of course, it is quite difficult to match my radiance." He said with a flourish.
Emiya's eyebrow twitched even more. He knew that there were many different versions of him in the Throne of Heroes (given that it stored all the heroes in the multiverse, that was true of everyone), but he had never thought than any version of him could be so…
He had to suppress a shudder. It just seemed so wrong for some reason. "This is going to be a long mission." He muttered to himself.
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me." Said a new and somewhat distorted voice. The two men looked to the side to see a man walking towards them, this one covered in some kind of futuristic looking black armor. The armor had a number of gaps in the right places for improved mobility with a red cloth underlay between them, and the metal itself was etched with arcane sigils and designs.
After a moment's pause, the perfectly smooth faceplate on the man's helmet developed a vertical crack and slid open, revealing a face identical to the other two men present. The armored man scowled before saying "Is the Root just using this as an excuse to screw with me? Because considering the odds of this happening randomly, I really wouldn't put it past It."
"At this point, it's probably safe to say that our other 2 compatriots are also different version of myself." The elfin man said dry. "Of course, if Alaya really wanted this job done, she would have picked ones that were much closer to the original."
The armored man gave him a flat look. "We're all from different dimensions. There is no 'original' in this context. Besides, you don't exactly look that imposing, Bishie-boy."
"Looks can be deceiving," Emiya said, not sure of what abilities these two might have. "Besides, it would be pointless to argue over which one of us is the strongest."
"Yes, because the answer is me," chimed in yet another new voice, and the three turned to find a fourth Counter Guardian Emiya walking towards them. This one was both taller and more muscled than the other three present, and that was saying something considering that Rin had once likened Emiya's physic to that of a Greek god(with much stammering an blushing after she realized what she had said.). He wore no shirt, just cargo pants, boots, and a tattered red cape that flowed behind him. His white hair was a bit longer than Emiya's own, but still shorter than the elfin man's.
Now this was just getting ridiculous.
The elfin man gave a snort. "Oh really? Then why don't you prove it."
The huge man settled into a fighting stance. "Fine by me. We might as well get this out of the way before the real mission starts."
"Oh? I suppose I have time to put you in your place." The elfin man said before energies began to swirl around him.
The armored man looked at the two before he shrugged and his faceplate closed. "There can only be one, huh? Well, I'm at least curious what you guys can do." Lines of light then appeared on his armor as parts opened to reveal gun barrels. He nodded at Emiya. "Are you joining too?"
Emiya paused for a moment. He knew that he really shouldn't, but… "I am a sword. Battle is my purpose." He said as his favorite blades appeared in his hands. He had found that betting the crap out of his younger self to be oddly cathartic, so he was willing to indulge his current free will to do so again.
The huge man chuckled. "That's great for you, but victory is my purpose."
Before anyone could act though, a barrier of brilliant light appeared between all four of them, and a new and final voice said "And my purpose is to apparently keep you four idiots from killing each other before we finish our damn job."
Four heads turned to see a figure clad in a flowing red robe, with cuts below the waist to allow freedom of movement for the legs and a mantle that when down to the elbows. The white hair also went down to mid back, tied in a braid.
All of that of course was ignored in favor of the fact that this Emiya was clearly female.
The four men present stared at her in surprise before simultaneously saying "That is just weird."
The woman twisted her mouth. "I'm pretty sure that is sexist somehow, but we have more important things to deal with. Namely the fact that we have an entire world to save and another world to search in order to save it. I don't particularly enjoy the thought of playing den mother to four gender bending duplicates of myself, but so help me if you get into another dick sizing competition, I will not hesitate to beat the lot of you senseless."
The men present glanced at each other sheepishly. They didn't know it, but all of them had been pushed around by bossy females at some point in their lives. They did not want to find out what the bossy female version of themselves was capable of.
When it had become clear that everything had settled down, the woman gave a smile. "Good. Now, I imagine that we need to come up with names for ourselves as it would be rather confusing if we all responded to Emiya. As such, you can call me Emilya."
Emiya was silent for a moment before saying "Archer.", choosing the name he bore the last time he could think for himself.
The elfin man gave an amused chuckle at that. "Well, if you simply must, you may address me as Thereon."
The armored man rubbed his chin for a momentt before settling on "Miyamoto."
The huge man gave an equally huge grin. "Fuji."
Emilya nodded. "Good. Now, let's let this world know just why it's not a good idea to mess with the Counter Guardians."