When Rin took a break from analyzing the bone runes around midafternoon, she had been hoping she could spend a little time to let herself relax and try not to worry about everything so much. Such plans were unfortunately for naught as, just as she settled down with a cup of tea, Shirou burst back into the Inn, shouting about "It's worse than we thought," and "Everyone one in the city is potentially in danger".
No rest for the wicked, it seemed.
After Shirou convinced his sister to forget what he had just yelled out like an idiot and to take a nap (through liberal use of hypnosis no doubt), the residents of the inn found themselves gathered once again in Matsu's room. The biggest difference this time though was the addition of a new person. In addition to the problem of hypnosis not working on the Sekirei, Miya had decided that Kazehana should be made aware of what was going on in the city. Rin didn't like it, but apparently the landlady trusted her old teammate enough to let her know about magic and vampires. Though honestly Rin was starting to wonder why they even bothered to hide anything from these aliens at this point. The only one really left in the house was Uzume, and thank small mercies that no one had seen her since last night.
It is amazing how quickly things have gone south, Rin thought to herself grimly as she sat one of the many pillows in the room. Well, that wasn't quite accurate. Things were this bad before she had even set foot into the city. It was just that only now they were just realizing it. "How in the hell does something like this happen? I thought that the Church kept an eye on all the Ancestors."
Shirou shrugged. "We try, but it's not terribly easy. Some of them are loners and drifters by nature and others stay in places that are hard to reach. And even then, those with established territories don't like us snooping around and try to feed us misinformation whenever possible. As far as we knew, Blackmore was still in Austria, but it looks like we've been had once again."
"So, what happens now?" Sakura asked, a look of worry on her face. "I know you said that you are to make your move in a week, but what exactly does that mean? You're magic is not exactly… precise."
Rin snorted at the understatement, but Sakura was not alone in her concern. Conflicts between major superpowers in the supernatural world were rare, and when they did happen it usually was in a remote or contained area out of a mutual desire for secrecy. But at the moment the target was in the middle of a densely populated city, and while she couldn't say she was an expert on what it took to permanently kill a Dead Apostle Ancestor, she was sure it would take no small amount of raw firepower. The collateral could potentially be catastrophic, and the idea was making Sakura distraught. The white haired girl herself had brought a city to its knees, and Rin suspected that the guilt was still with her.
For Shirou himself, he looked less than certain. "To be honest, I'm not sure. Normally as this is my territory I would be tasked to deal with it, but even I have never considered fighting in a place with this high a population density. Merem's currently talking with the archbishops right now to give his opinion on the matter, but seeing as how he and Blackmore have a history, who knows how seriously they'll take him. I could be told to storm the tower tomorrow, or be told to wait until another member of the Burial Agency shows up, however long that would take."
Matsu perked up at that. "Wait, I told you I needed a week in order to neutralize the implants. Didn't you tell them I can't do this overnight?!"
The deacon grimaced. "I made them aware of such, but…" He let out something between a sigh and a growl. "It has been pointed out to me that my authority in this matter can be overridden. The destruction of Dead Apostles is the Church's top priority, and while it doesn't bear the Sekirei race any ill will, I can't guarantee that it will go out of its way to save you."
"That would be a mistake." Miya said coolly, her eyes narrowing slightly at the man. "If your comrades attack and do bring the ire of MBI down on the wings, I will hold them accountable."
Shirou gave her a single nod. "A point which I am sure that Merem is bringing up. And I can guarantee you that I'm not going to do anything till Matsu's ready, but the other Executors could just go ahead without me. An Ancestor is such a serious threat that they might be willing to risk your wrath anyway."
It was at this point that Homura raised his hand. "Uh, I know that this is important, but you haven't exactly told us who this Blackmore is. And just what is an 'Ancestor'? How is it different from a normal vampire?"
"That's simple!" Matsu said, holding up a pointing finger. "An Ancestor must be one of the original vampires created by the Crimson Moon guy, like his council of elite henchman!"
"Not exactly." Shirou said slowly. "It's a little more complicated than that."
"Then perhaps you should enlighten us, Sahashi-kun." Miya said. "After all, if we are to be engaging such a monster, it would be prudent for us to know what we are up against."
"You'll show me yours; I'll show you mine, eh?" Shirou said, no doubt remembering how the landlady wanted to discuss the history of the Sekirei with them. Shirou hummed and looked up for a moment before he said "You know what, considering the man we're dealing with, I might as well start from the beginning. You should probably hear about the origin of the Dead Apostles themselves."
"I do not see how that is important." Tsukiumi said. "We should be focused on the here and now, not going over history."
"I promise I'll give you the short version." The deacon said. "Merem told me about it and he probably is the closest we can get to a firsthand account, though I have to take his word for it. In any case, some of you may have heard of me refer to vampires as 'those of Type-Moon' and there's a reason for that. I'm not sure how things work wherever the Sekirei originate from, but in this solar system every celestial body has a will of its own. Earth's is known as Gaia, and the concept is pretty similar to how it's portrayed in popular fiction."
"That is… interesting, but what does it have to do with vampires?" Kazehana said, her skepticism of the whole situation clear. She hadn't exactly been given a lot of time for the whole 'supernatural world' thing to sink in.
"If you could give me a minute," Shirou said in annoyance. "Anyway, thousands of years ago Gaia, in her perpetual grumpiness, decided that humanity was being a jerk by living on her and wanted help killing them off to a more manageable level. She sent the request out to the other celestial bodies and the Moon itself was the one that answered, sending down the most powerful entity it ever created. That was the being known as Crimson Moon Brunestud."
The room was silent for several long moments before Matsu finally spoke up. "Are you saying that vampires… are actually aliens from the moon?" She removed her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Shirou, this is coming from an alien woman who's well versed in science fiction and has come to Earth to breed with human men, but that's the most 1960's B movie plot thing I've ever heard."
This of course made Rin indignant. "Hey, I don't go around mocking the mythology of your home world! Besides it's all perfectly sensible from an objective point of view." She said. She left it unsaid that she couldn't mock Sekirei mythos because she still knew nothing of it. It was worth noting though that she also knew very little about the history of the Dead Apostles. It was frowned upon for magi of the Clock Tower to research it without the Vice Director's approval, so she was interested to see what Shirou knew about it.
"Yeah, besides, everyone knows that vampires are from Mars." Everyone turned in surprise to see Homura of all people letting out a chuckle, though there was something strained in it. "The Catholic Church vs alien vampires." He said with a sickly grin. "I knew I had seen that anime before. The mockery that is my existence is now complete."
"Oh, I love that work of animation!" Nero said excitedly, completely failing to notice Homura's minor existential crisis. "I have a perfect recreation of the dress of the Duchess Caterina Sforza in my closet!"
"Getting back on track," Shirou said loudly to get everyone's attention. "Crimson Moon needed some minions to do his work for him so he created what were known as True Ancestors, though I think that was a name given to them long after the fact by humans. These entities were more massively powerful sprits of nature rather than people, although Brunestud shaped them to look like humans because, hey, when in Rome. Shortly thereafter their creation though, the guy found out there was a problem with them; They had his thirst for blood and he couldn't quite control them absolutely, and it was difficult for them to do their job if they went crazy and murdered everyone."
"Wait, I thought that was what they were supposed to do." Matsu said confused.
"No, they were only supposed to kill almost everyone," Shirou elaborated. "And those people were supposed to be just humans. The ones who went nuts also killed other True Ancestors. Figuring that they needed to do something about that, the True Ancestors started bestowing their power on humans into order to have a counter measure to beserking Ancestors, letting them trade their free will for immortality and power. These were the first vampires, and the most powerful 27 among them were known as the Dead Apostle Ancestors. Since then the list of them has been updated to account for those that have been killed or sealed, removing or adding new names for those deemed enough of a threat to humanity. At this point there are several on the list that technically aren't even vampires at all, but the name hasn't changed since I guess 'The Top 27 Most Dangerous Things that Happen to Drink Blood' isn't quite as pithy."
Shirou shrugged. "But back in the past, and unfortunately for those True Ancestors, they sucked at making minions more than their creator. They actually made the whole blood thirst problem even worse for vampires, to the point where it was not only a physical dependency, but it warped their natures to the point where they could break free of his control and do whatever the hell they wanted. They mostly ended up carving out little territories for themselves before getting into fights of dominance with each other, and in human civilization they found an infinitely larger number of things that were more fun than watching the world burn. All of this put together has resulted in the hilarious side of effect of all of Crimson Moon's creations being too busy bickering, being crazy, or not bothered enough to actually get around to wiping out humanity."
Rin was starting to get the sense that this wasn't exactly the way Merem had told this story to Shirou.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," Kazehana said, "But I'm not clear on something. Just why are they named Dead Apostle Ancestors of all things?"
"Because magi are terrible at naming things." The deacon said flatly.
"Hey!" said Rin indignantly.
"Oh don't act like it isn't true!" Shirou said as he looked at her with a small scowl. "Marble Phantasm, Mystic Code, Heaven's Feel?! The terms have only the barest connection to what they actually refer to. I'm half convinced that magi try to make everything obtuse as possible so that they can feel like smugly superior to anyone who's trying to learn magecraft."
Having not heard Shirou spout his typical distain for magi for some time, Rin was a little surprised at how quick the old urge to bash his skull in came back to her. She felt a growl start to build up in her throat, and her right eye socket warmed slightly. This was not lost on the man, as his mood suddenly became a lot more frantic. "O-of course you are totally an exception to that! Any terminology you use is always perfectly concise and descriptive! A-anyway, back to the story!"
The man coughed continued. "In slightly more recent history, about seven or eight hundred years ago the most powerful magus in human history got fed up with Brunestud's shenanigans and set out to kick his ass up between his ears. Brunestud, who at this point I could only imagine was starting to go a little nuts from having to put up with his minions' incompetence for thousands of years, said 'screw it', made a mirror copy of the moon and tried to smash it into Earth."
There was a sound not unlike someone going "Eh?!", probably because that's what it was. However, while that might have been understandable given what Shirou had just said, the room had turned to look in surprise as to just who was responsible. Miya was stock still for several moments as everyone looked at her before she blushed furiously. A moment later she said "Ah, perhaps I misheard you, but did you perchance just say that a second moon was created and thrown at the planet?"
"Yes…" Shirou said slowly, not sure why the landlady was so ruffled by this.
Besides the obvious anyway. "But that's just absurd!" Homura exclaimed. "You can't just make an entire moon out of nothing! I'm willing to accept that magic might allow you to break physics a bit but that is just going too far! And besides, how the hell could the Earth survive that?!"
It was Rin who answered. "Like Shirou said, the magus, Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg, is the most powerful human magus in history. He has mastery of a magic that allows him to draw upon infinite power from parallel dimensions, and he used it to push back the second moon. Truly he and those who studied under him are without peer." A smug smirk crossed her face. "Oh, and did I happen to mention that I am the descendant of on his apprentices?"
"That… is both awesome and mildly terrifying." Matsu said. "So, does that mean you have infinite power magic like he did?"
Rin felt her eyebrow twitch. "Well… no. He hasn't exactly taught anyone that yet."
Shirou continued. "To sum up what happened, Zelretch won and killed Crimson Moon and did… something to erase all evidence of his battle. Don't ask me how though, because I'm a little shaky on how he managed to both wipe the memories of half the planet and negate all the tidal waves and earthquakes that would most assuredly result from having a second moon suddenly appear in orbit."
"Most powerful magus in human history." Rin repeated firmly, feeling it was important to establish the prestige of her teaching ancestry.
"…So with that all out of the way, we get to the man of the hour: Gransurg Blackmore." Shirou said with a scowl. "He is one of the oldest vampires still alive today, making him quite powerful in his own right, and there are number of things which set him apart from the others. The most important, and probably the most dangerous, is that he is absolutely loyal to the Crimson Moon, even after death. Everything he has ever done has been in the service of Brunestud, or trying to resurrect him."
There was a nervous pause in the room before Matsu said "Wait, is that really possible?" No doubt she did not relish the idea of someone who could drop a moon on the planet showing up again.
Shirou's mouth twisted. "It is believed that an entity as powerful as the Crimson Moon can't truly be killed, or at least he could be brought back in some fashion. In the town of Aylesbury, England there is a ritual that has been prepared by Dead Apostles to resurrect something called The Dark Six, and before you ask, no, I have no idea what it is. No one does save for the Dead Apostles themselves and they're' not talking. Even Merem." He said with a grumble. "It's been theorized that it's the original Dead Apostle or the reincarnation of Brunestud. Either way, Blackmore is very much interested in making it happen, so the Church is very interested in that not happening. At the moment the town is under three way deadlock between The Church, the Mage's Association, and the Dead Apostles, and if that tie is every broken the results will probably be cataclysmic."
"You are being awfully candid about all of this considering the subject…" Miya said, her brow furrowing as she looked at him.
The man turned to her and gave her a dour look. "Just because I'm not the kind of guy who gets all grimdark when talking about things doesn't mean what I'm talking about isn't serious. Blackmore would not hesitate to kill every last human on the planet if he wasn't focused on bringing his master back first."
There was a brief uncomfortable silence before Tsukiumi said "Well, whatever the case may be, just why is that thing in this city and with MBI?"
"Not a clue." Shirou admitted. "Given his motives we can be relatively sure that it has something to do with restoring Brunestud, and having one of the largest corporations in the world under your control is certainly a useful resource in any endeavor. A few of the more powerful and influential Ancestors already have ties to corporations, though none as modern or powerful as this. I can only assume that he somehow found out about the Sekirei and decided he wanted control of them. Which is interesting considering his obsession."
"Obsession?" Homura asked.
Shirou's mouth twisted. "Blackmore loves birds." He said flatly. "He considers them the superior life form to man and tries to emulate them aesthetically as much as possible. So considering you 'Sekirei'…"
"… He does know that we're not really birds, right?" Homura asked.
The deacon shrugged. "We can only hope. Such as it is, we might guess that he's responsible for the Sekirei Plan in all of its horrifying stupidity, but the end goal is still unclear. Not only that, there's a good chance that he's the one responsible for the missing cores."
It was then that the one who had remained silent the whole conversation spoke. "So what you're saying is," Musubi said slowly, "That he's the reason Kaho won't fly again."
Rin looked to her Sekirei and was shocked to find that her expression as she looked at Shirou was nothing like she had ever seen. It was an ugly, hate filled thing, and her eyes were dark and flat. It just seemed so wrong on the normally happy and playful woman.
Shirou paused for a moment, clearly off put by the woman's sudden intensity. When he spoke his tone was cautious. "Musubi… I am probably the last person who has the right to tell you this, but it is important that you listen to what I am about to say: You cannot fight Blackmore."
The Sekirei's fist slammed into the floor (leaving a dent), and a growl escaped her throat. "Why not?! I can fight! I can make him pay!"
Shirou shook his head. "Not with a creature like him. He is one of the most powerful vampires in the world, and I have yet to see a Sekirei in action that could challenge him."
"Shirou," Homura said, his voice tense. "I get that this man is a whole other kind of monster, but you can't just say we can't fight the monster that did this to our kind!" He all but shouted, and Rin couldn't help but notice that Tsukiumi had an equally fierce look on her face. "If you forgot I fought a vampire! Six of us are single digits! We can do this!"
"It is not the same, I am afraid," Nero said with a slow shake of her head. "Blackmore is at least an order of magnitude more powerful that the creature you faced. I understand your need for justice, but confronting him directly will only lead to your deaths. If any of you Sekirei encounter him, my only advice is that you retreat."
"Oh?" Miya said evenly, clearly displeased by the idea. "Any of us Sekirei?"
Nero hesitated for a moment before she said "To speak frankly, I honestly do not know how strong you are Miya-san, so I cannot say for certain how you would fair in battle against an Ancestor. For now, it would be best if you did not engage him, if not for yourself, then for the surrounding area."
Miya frowned, but she did not press the matter any further. Musubi looked like she was about to start shouting again, but Rin caught hold of her hand. Her Sekriei turned to look at her, and Musubi's anger faded as she saw Rin's worry, turning into something more sad and miserable. Rin tightened her grip as she gave her a smile, and almost missed what Miya said. "Is there anything else that you feel that we should know?"
The man thought for a second before he said. "I don't think so. I may have missed a detail or two, but that's the gist of it."
"Then perhaps you have spoken enough for now, Sahashi-kun." Miya said, drawing herself up taller. "I have said before that I wish to teach you of your heritage, and in light of the history lesson we all just received, I feel that some completeness is in order."
"Right." Shirou said. "You can start with the whole 'every Ashikabi is a descendant of a Sekirei' thing. Because that seems a might paradoxical if you ask me."
"As I have said before, this is not the first time which my kind as visited your planet." Miya said. "However, I must inform you that the current generation of Sekirei have also arrived on this world several hundred years ago."
"Wait, what?" Sakura asked. "I'm confused."
"You're not the only one…" Homura said, looking at Miya in surprise. It seemed that this was not known to the Sekirei themselves either.
Miya sighed. "When the Sekirei last came here, they did so in eight ships, each carrying 99 fertilized eggs, 8 embryos and 1 fully mature Pillar such as myself, all of which is kept in cryogenic stasis. However, when we arrived at the planet something went catastrophically wrong. The vessels became damaged and crashed to the Earth. I cannot say for certain the fates of all the ships and their passengers, but I know that a good many survived and integrated with the population as the normally would. As for my own ship, it crashed into the Pacific Ocean, and while many of the systems were damaged, all of the Sekirei on board as well as the stasis system remained intact. We were not discovered until a few decades ago, when tectonic activity caused Kamikura Island to be raised from the sea, and us along with it."
"Wait a second, your ships just crashed?" Rin said incredulously. "But, but aren't you supposed to have technology far beyond what humans are capable of? How in the hell do they just crash?!"
The landlady gave her a look. "I appreciate your confidence, but I am afraid that our… conventional space fairing technology isn't as advanced as you seem to think. And when considering the supposed reason for it…" she trailed off.
"Which is?" Rin said expectantly.
The woman sighed. "Much of what I know of that event is speculation, pieced together from archaeological evidence and whatever data MBI technicians have been able to decipher form the ship that brought us here. Even though I had… my own methods of looking into my history, most of what I found was chaos and confusion. The only clue I've ever had to go on was the offhand comment of one technician who was a little better than most. He said that the sensor data from the ship made it seem like," She gave Shirou a meaningful glance. "that there was a sudden appearance of a gravity well equivalent in magnitude to Luna."
Silence echoed throughout the room for several moments before Shirou said "Oh you have got to be shitting me."
"Language, Sahashi-kun" Miya chided.
"So, wait, the reason all the Sekirei crashed was because we got caught between a Mega Vampire and an Ultra Wizard duking it out in space?" Matsu said. "Because as far as reasons go for why a spaceship would crash, that one's actually pretty cool."
"So, wait, what does that mean?" Homura asked.
"Nothing really, aside from the fact that it seems vampires have been messing with you Sekirei for even longer than we thought." Shirou said before he gestured to Miya. "But you still haven't answered my question. You explained how us three," He gestured to himself, Rin and Sakura, "have Sekirei genes, but what about our ancestors? How did they manage?"
"Because that was not the first time my kind have come to this planet either." Miya said, to the collective surprise of the room. "This was only ever discovered by late husband," she paused for a moment before continuing, "But Takehito's research shows that the Sekirei ancestry in fact goes back thousands of years, tracing back to a being much like a Pillar that arrived several millennia ago. Genetic evidence has shown that several more of these Pillars, each subtly different from each other, also appeared since then and the arrival of our ships."
"But why?" Everyone turned to look at Homura in surprise. The man looked frustrated, like someone how had been hearing all the wrong answers to his questions. "Why are we here? Why with all of our technology do we have to bond ourselves to another species? What is the point of all this?!"
There was a long pause as Miya looked at the man in astonishment. Eventually she said "Oh. I never knew that this concerned you so much."
Homura sighed and hung his head. "Sorry, it was just that you were explaining so much, I kind of thought that you would know."
"But I do know."
His head snapped back up. "Wait, what?"
"Of course I know why we're here. It is the job of the Pillars to manage and insure our purpose." She gave him a look of sadness. "You are the first wing who has ever expressed interest in the subject. Had I know that it troubled you so much, I would have told you."
"But, but why haven't you just told all of the Sekirei anyway?" He all but shouted. "Don't we deserve to know?!"
The eldest Sekirei looked off to the side and an expression of melancholy crossed her face. "Perhaps. To be honest though, I never saw much of a point. What the wings are here for is to integrate and interbreed with the population, and all of them (well, most) were keen on doing so of their own volition. I felt that telling them why they were to do so would just unnecessarily complicate things for them."
"I hate to break it to you Miya-tan, but simplicity became impossible when the corporate controlling, bird obsessed moon vampire became involved." Matsu said, clearly interested in the subject in spite of the wisecrack.
A humorless chuckle came from the purple haired woman's lips. "I suppose you are right." She paused before she said "Have any of you ever wondered if our kind has ever done this with other alien species?"
"The thought had crossed my mind, actually…" Rin said. "With what I've heard, it is somewhat implied that this is something that your species regularly does."
"It is," Miya confirmed. "Though the ones that do don't look so human. In spite of what you may think and all of the adjustments they made, MBI was not responsible for our physiological structure. Well, though I suppose that they might have made one or two little changes to… conform to a modern sense of attractiveness." She said, staring rather poignantly at Akitsu's chest, no doubt because her 'little change' was one of the most visible and bountiful in the room.
"Ah," Akitsu said, looking down at her chest. After a moment she looked back up and said "I am not apologizing."
The room's collective eyebrows shot to the ceiling. Did Akitsu just crack a joke?
"In any case," Miya said evenly, though she still gave the ice Sekirei a wary look. "What you refer to as Sekirei are not a species as you would normally classify it, as we do not have a singular, genetic or physical form. I suppose it would be analogous to say that it is more of a family containing several distinct sub-species, but this is inaccurate as that system derives from the terrestrial concept of a single common ancestor whereas our forms are engineered."
"So, we're a race of shape shifters?" Matsu asked. "Because I think I would have noticed if I could do that."
"Not as such. Long ago the Sekirei mastered the technology to alter out body's composition and structure, and we transcended the need for biological matter at all. A Sekirei sub species is made by using that technology to transform back into a more primitive composition. The True Sekirei, as they are known, are comprised of a fourth dimensional lattice of crystallized exotic matter and virtual particles."
Every one present blinked dumbly at this, having never heard the landlady use such technical terms before. "Wait, wait, wait, what?!" Matsu exclaimed. "S-since when you do even know what those words mean?! And furthermore, I'm a what?! You make us sound like we're some kind of inter-dimensional energy beings!"
"That… is not an inaccurate description." Miya said with a coy smile. "And as for your first question, just because I happen to enjoy more old fashioned things does not mean I can't understand science. I was married to a scientist you know."
Tsukiumi huffed. "That does not change the fact that it does not make any sense! I certainly am not made of crystallized or virtual… things!"
Miya gave a small hum. "Certainly not. Like I said, there are many different sub-species of Sekirei, each one made to interact with the species they were modelled after. We are made of biological tissue just like any other creature on this world, even if our bodies were engineered from scratch to give us certain advantages. The two things we've carried over from our True form is our tama, or core as you know it, and our 'wings'. The core is the seat of the soul for all Sekirei and is what keeps it safe in case something goes wrong. What you refer to as termination is a defense mechanism built into the bodies of all the sub-Sekirei. Our true selves do not always interact nicely with biological matter, and when we suffer a serious injury it is possible for our souls to be damaged, even if a human could recover from a comparable wound just fine. As such our inert state exists so that our souls can be protected and recovered."
"That is very interesting, but what purpose does that serve?" Sakura asked. "Not that I exactly disapprove that you decided to resemble us to interact with us, but why go so far as to…" She trailed off and blushed. "I mean, clearly you can reproduce and create True Sekirei on your own, and it's clear that the Sekirei blood gets diluted over generations like any other genetic trait. I just still don't see what the purpose of all this is."
"To put it simply, the purpose is communion." Miya said.
Needless to say, this response was met with confusion. "Ok…" Shirou said slowly. "I suppose in the grand spectrum of things that's not the worst way to go about it, but you do know that we traditionally communicate with the orifice on our face rather than the one on our crotch, right?"
The landlady scowled. "Do not be so crude. I do not mean for the Sekirei that you are familiar with, but rather those of us in our higher form. As you might have gathered, a sentient collection of exotic matter is… different. It doesn't think like you or I do, doesn't interact in the same ways. It is truly… well, alien. As such, while they do desire interaction with other species in this galaxy, they need to find a way to actually understand other life forms. That is why we are created. Sekirei such as our selves are to integrate with the population and, though breeding, guide the course of the species' evolution such that they eventual become beings capable of communicating with the True Sekirei
"What?" Rin said, dumbfounded by this. "But, that's just absurd! Changing the genetic makeup of an entire species so radically in such a way would take countless generations, and hundreds if not thousands of years!"
"Quite right." Miya said with a smile. "We are very patient."
"But that still can't work! Or at least it won't work with only 108 of you! You're not going to make a dent in genetic makeup of seven billion people!"
"To be fair, there were far less humans around and more of us when we first come to this world." She said evenly. "And for another, ours was only the first large experimental group, using what we learned from the previous Sekirei that came before us. Ideally, after our goal is complete there will be more Sekirei arriving to this planet in the future to further this goal."
"So, wait a sec," Shirou said. "Are you saying that the Sekirei overlords or whatever are trying to breed humanity out of existence and become more like them? Because that's kind of messed up."
"That is a very cynical way of looking at it. We are not trying to eradicate or replace, but change you into something more. I would like to think the improvement you species would gain over the slow transformation would be worth it." She replied with a shrug.
There was a loud thump as Tsukiumi stomped her foot into the ground, and everyone looked to find that her hair was whipping about angrily. "This is unacceptable! I refuse to believe that the purpose of my existence is to be a b-brood mare! I don't care who made me or what they what! No one commands my fate!"
Miya's expression remained neutral, though she said, "Now, now, there's no reason to get worked up. I don't know how I would do things if our situation was ideal, but as it currently stands there is little point to try to force you to do something you don't want to do." The landlady's shoulders fell slightly and her tone became wooden. "Our goal was unobtainable the moment our ships crashed. So many of our sisters died, and the ones that remained became all but enslaved to the ones they bonded themselves to. They caught wind of the Jinki and their power, and we Sekirei were used as weapons in the war to obtain them."
"I am still not completely sure what happened to the ones that survived. It is possible that they were all wiped out in the war, but given what I have learned about this planet though, I suspect that their actions caught the attention of some of the more… mythic elements of the world. Considering the severe lack of knowledge we had of such things, perhaps our mission was doomed from the start."
"So, why haven't more come yet?" Sakura asked. "Even if you have been unable to connect your people, it has been almost a millennium since your group arrived. Why haven't the True Sekirei done anything yet?"
"I am not entirely sure…" Miya said with a frown. "Though I suspect that it has to do with the fact that they are far different than you or I. They do not experience time the way we do, and it's possible they simply do not realize how much time has passed."
"So, quick question." Shirou asked. "Why are so many of you female? If your goal is reproduction, wouldn't males be able to… spread the genes around more?"
"Yes, but the Sekirei value quality over quantity." Miya said. "Having females allows for careful selection of Ashikabis that most strongly express Sekirei genes, and several females can share one male to propagate his lineage. Careful guidance after the generation is born can ensure that quantity is not a problem."
"…Weird." Shirou finally summed up. "How much of this does MBI know?"
"Bits and pieces." Miya said. "I doubt that anyone has a more complete idea than I do. However, what they do know is enough to be very dangerous. They have a basic knowledge of how to manipulate the Jinki, although they are still very capable of dangerously misusing them."
"And just what are they actually for?" Rin asked.
"The Jinki are tools the True Sekirei developed to manipulate our forms. It is using them that we were first made before we were sent to this planet. One was given to each of the Pillars on each ship to make adjustments to the wings as needed. The number of possible scenarios that the Pillars would encounter was unknown, so the Jinki had to be made to handle anything. As such, they are very versatile, very powerful, and can exert massive control over the Sekirei."
"Or anyone else with their genes." Shirou said firmly.
Miya nodded. "Yes. However… that is not the biggest problem."
"What? Then what is?"
"MBI is also aware of the Holy Island Kouten."
"What's that?" asked Rin. "I thought that the island you were found on was named Kamikura."
"It was, but I speak now of something completely different." She said. "In addition to the eight vessels which brought us here, we also came with a large land mass the size of an island. Kouten, as it is known is the true seat of the Sekirei's power and is the last line of defense for us. Only a Pillar is capable of moving or activating it, so at the moment it is still within geosynchronous orbit of this city."
"So why is it so important?" Nero asked.
"It has a ritualistic importance to us, but that is not relevant. What is important is the True Sekirei are aware that the species they are trying to communicate with could turn their children against them and as such have created counter measures to neutralize said species. In short, Kouten has to capacity to release a miasma that will envelop the planet and end all human life."
The silence that followed that sentence was deafening. Right up until Shirou said "And you didn't mention this earlier WHY?!"
The woman frowned. "For one, my reasons for not discussing this before are the same as for the Jinki. For another, unlike the Jinki, Kouten is under my explicit control." She paused. "Or at least it should be."
"That is not a confidence inspiring pause, Miya-tan." Matsu said nervously.
Miya looked at the three Ashikabi, her gaze firm. "While MBI knows about it, I was sure that there was nothing they could actually do to influence the holy island. Now that I know magic is real, I cannot be certain of that fact anymore. And now that I know there is a vampire with hostility to human life at the head of MBI, I cannot say that they do not intend to use it."
Shirou let out a sigh. "You know," he said as he glanced at Rin and Sakura, weariness evident in his tone. "You would think that we wouldn't have to save the world from a potential apocalypse more than once in our life time." He gave a small chuckle. "Still, just like old times, huh?"
"I hate those times." Rin said flatly. "Those were the worst times."
"… At least I might be able to help this time." Sakura said weakly, though a small smile crossed her face.
The corner of Shirou's mouth turned up at that, but he still turned back to Miya. "Miya… the Church isn't going to be happy that you have control of something that can wipe out the whole planet. Even with the best intentions, that'll make anyone nervous." It was a massive understatement to say the least.
"I know." She said solemnly. "That is why I am asking you to not tell them."
The man's eyebrows shot upwards. "How can you ask me that? And if so, why would you tell me about this in the first place?"
"Because I turned my back on the world once." She said, her melancholy returning. "I turned my back on my duty as a Pillar. Perhaps if I had done what I was supposed to, my people wouldn't be suffering under that that monster. I don't want my apathy to destroy humanity like it nearly did the Sekirei." She looked at the deacon, with eyes much older than the woman seemed. "Someone has to know the full extent of the stakes. I am putting my trust in you, Shirou Kotomine Sahashi. Please help the Sekirei be more than just a memory."
There was a long silence before the deacon groaned. "Agh, fine. The Jinki are enough of a threat to get the Church in to motion, so I'll keep quiet about it for now. But if it becomes necessary I will do what I have to."
"That is all I ask." Miya said.
Rin leaned back, feeling drained from everything she had learned that day. Things were shaping up to be almost as bad as five years ago, and somehow even more complicated. There was a vampire in MBI, mystic alterations of an unknown nature to the Sekirei, a plan that was still underway that had the aliens mercilessly fighting each other, Ghouls in the city, not one but two different pieces of alien technology that could kill countless people, and if they were very lucky, nothing else crazy they would have to deal with would pop up in the next week.
Her breathing was becoming more labored as she vaulted over the edge of the roof, dropping down till she made contact with wall of the opposite building. She bounded down until she finally reached the ground, coming to a stop in the middle of a blind alley. She looked up in fear and worry, but let out a sigh of relief when several shadows passed overhead without stopping.
This is bad, she thought. There's too many and they're boxing me in. Normally she would have been able to give them the slip (she had gotten pretty good at the sort of thing over the past few months), but they were coordinated and wearing her down. Besides, she didn't exactly have the greatest mobility at the moment…
"Uzume," A soft voice said, and the Sekirei snapped out of her thoughts to look back at the woman she was currently carrying in a cloth hammock. Chiho Hidaka looked at her with big, worried eyes. "Are you ok?"
Uzume affected a smile that she didn't feel. "Yeah, we gave them the slip for now. Don't worry, everything is gonna be fine."
Or at least, it would if she could get to the inn. Uzume had always wondered if she would be able to make it back with her Ashikabi in tow if she had to. It was not something she gave too much serious thought though; Chiho couldn't live for very long without the treatments that the hospital gave her, and her… employer would not be happy to say the least.
But things had been changing over the past few weeks. More and more of her employer's Sekirei were disappearing, along with anyone else who happened to be in the East. There were… things she had seen skulking about in the darkness that terrified her. Last night she had seen that there was a whole other war going on in the city, one that was looking a lot messier. And more than anything else, she had seen… magic.
Uzume almost let out a nervous giggle at that. What else was she supposed to think when she saw what that man did, how everyone else acted? She knew that they were keeping secrets, but that was something else entirely. Still, the important thing was that Chiho wasn't safe anymore. Even if the hospital was keeping her alive, there was no telling when something might snatch her in the night. And so, Uzume had to make a gamble on hope, and the promise that man made to her.
Please Shirou, she thought as she began moving again. Please be able to help me.
A/N: Sorry this took so long to get out. It was actually done about a week ago, but my beta was having internet problems, so it took a while to get it back to me. Also, thanks go out to my beta Destrack.
That aside, I got you readers your favorite thing: an entire chapter of exposition!
I really don't like making chapters like this (especially with the last chapter of explaining things), but with how the story developed, this was the point where the characters would be explaining important details to each other, and it's kind of important for the readers to get those details too, so I couldn't just skip this part. Here's to hoping I can get back to the fighty stabby burny bits next chapter.
So, for those wondering, I made up a lot of what Miya was saying about the Sekirei race and its origins/motives. I have to because the author sure as hell hasn't bothered doing so, at least in a way that makes a lick of sense. I came up with the background that both made the most sense for me (given the source anyway), and could potentially fit into the nasuverse. I hope it doesn't seem too out there.
Till next time.
Edit: So, some things I needed to correct. It seems that Rin is not actually Zelretch's descendant. I guess that when she and her father said "My ancestor is the great master Schwienorg" in their summoning arias they were being figurative, though I'm not sure what I was supposed to think otherwise. Second, Dead Apostles were made by the True Ancestors, not Brunestud. The source I was looking at didn't mention who created them, so I just guessed.