Hibiki Hibino - Shy orange haired waitress that shows up in side Typemoon works.
Shin'i Agency - A Japanese organization meant to deal with dangerous supernatural elements such as Dead Apostles or Demons. A relatively new organization, it utilizes more technological weapons and tools than its Church or the Magus Association counterparts. Originally introduced in the Nasuverse game Battle Moon Wars.
Mike - Team lead of one of the sections of Shin'i. Originally from Battle Moon Wars.
- Threads of Fate -
- Prologue: The Prelude to War -
- The Sinner -
The rain poured around her as she forced herself forward. It was during a time like this that Caster truly cursed her abysmal luck and her idiotic master.
"Former master," she corrected herself.
She had done well. Her Master had been a legitimate magus; a strong magus sent from the Mage's Association to win the Holy Grail. Although, there really wasn't much to distinguish the 30 year old magus from anyone else, other than an overgrown case of arrogance mixed with egoism. However, though he dreamed of victory and claiming the Holy Grail, he had no plans to fight the war. He was perfectly happy to let all the other servants fight to the death as he sat and watched from the shadows. It was an excellent plan. But it would not win her the war. And it would not fulfill her wish. And that... that she could not allow. Not after everything she had been through.
She had waited, patiently, while inflating the man's already overflowing pride. She had bid her time while waiting for him to use his command seals.
When he had wasted his final command spell on a frivolous order, she'd struck. He'd been blown across the room and into the hall. Approaching his still form, the room bathed in the light of her crimson orbs of magic, she could have ended his life right there. For what he had put her through the vengeance would have been delicious. It would have been easy; just a simple incantation. But her cooler self had persevered. In the end she erased his memories and healed his burn wounds. Although she did savor the kick to his ribs before walking away.
And then... everything in her plan went wrong.
Caster's first hint that the attack was coming was a slight disturbance she felt around the boundary field she had placed around the house. They were almost unnoticeable, like hearing footsteps in a windstorm. She stopped and turned around, looking around the room more with her sense of magic than her sight. She could feel other intrusions in her boundary field.
Four figured materialized themself at the opposite end of the room; each wearing a skull mask that concealed their face. With surprise, she realized each one was the Servant Assasin. However, their magical signatures were too weak for each to be a full fledged Servant. She theorized Assassin must have had the ability to split off into many forms... or perhaps they were clever illusions... She couldn't risk testing the latter hypothesis.
At once, Caster wielded two swords in each hand, their metallic blades reflecting the outside moonlight; she tightened the Black Keys between her fingers in anticipation. Although the short handles and foot-long blades of the swords she had summoned made them inappropriate slashing or stabbing, if the user was skilled enough the blades made for a powerful thrown weapon.
She whipped all four blades towards the roof, impaling the Assassin that materialized from the ceiling above her; intent to ambush her. The Assassin's body fell to the ground dead with the four blades through his chest. Almost simultaneously, she heard the faint whistle of a blade as it flew through the air; nigh impossible to notice for a normal human. Another two blades formed and they flew from her grip, impaling another assassin, before she arched her body backward. The edge of their throwing daggers passed by so close she could feel the minute rush of wind. The whistle of the daggers flew past her before embedding in the wall behind them. Instinctively, she brought her gloved hand to her cheek and looked. A single drop of blood dripped from the cut on her cheek and onto her hand. Too close.
"Tsk, it appears we underestimate your abilities, Servant Caster," said one of the skull-masked Assassins. Four more figures, each of their faces concealed by the same skull mask, materialized in front of her.
"Leave," she said; new blades held at the ready. Her eyes stared coldly towards her new unwelcome guests. She backed up nervously towards her unconscious master. As much as she hated him, she didn't want to see him die and she needed his mana right now. Caster wondered if the Assassins had been waiting all this time, observing from outside, or if they had simply gotten lucky in their attack.
"Not until we accomplish our mission," he replied. The remaining three assassins ran towards her, their weapons raised. Muttering a simple incantation, a wave of fire washed over them and charred their bodies like tinder against an open fire.
The sound of rending flesh shot a dose of adrenaline through her veins and she turned in time to watch another Assassin embedding his blade again in to her master. She could tell from the wound that her master was dead.
"More Assassins?" she thought dimly. She cursed her stupidity. Of course there was more... You idiot. If there could be five assassins why wouldn't he be able to split off into more forms? With a burst of anger, she screamed and hurled her last set of Black Keys with such ferocity that it impaled the Assassin through the chest and into the wall behind him. A wave of fatigue assailed her senses and her knees gave way.
She held the wall for support and then slid to her knees as Gaia's crushing presence tightening around her. Without her master to anchor her to the world, Gaia would immediately attempt to push out any elements it deemed to be an anomaly. The resurrection of an already deceased hero happened to be included on that list. Caster could already feel her preciously small reserves of mana draining away as she fought to stay in this world. She prayed she had enough.
Her magic circuits tingled as she recited incantations within her head.
The assassins surrounded her, each one ready to pounce; yet none of them moved. A masterless Servant still had time before they faded from the world. Until that time, they were still an extremely dangerous opponent. She considered herself lucky that they weren't aware how little energy she had left. After a moment, one of them turned their head as if receiving an order from afar and began to approach her.
"You're an odd servant. You fight with skill befitting one of the knight classes.," he said, "Shame. You might have made a good Servant." The Assassin raised his dagger, ready to deliver the coup de grace.
Unseen underneath her hood, she gave a knowing smile. "You haven't seen anything yet." Finishing her mental incantation, the house detonated in a massive explosion that turned the walls into kindling before the entire building collapsed on top of them.
She sneezed violently and was brought to her knees; her long dark hair dripping ungraciously into a puddle. She always had the worst luck with her plans. It was bad enough she had had to spend her already limited reserves of mana to escape from Assassin. However, she wouldn't have had this problem if her Master hadn't been such an egotistical sexist. He couldn't bear the thought that another Magus, let alone a woman, could be better than him so he limited the prana he supplied to her. Even if she hadn't fought Assassin her magic reserves would have been dangerously low.
Her breath was shallow, her body shivered and felt weak, and her joints ached but she had to keep going. She had to keep walking or else... was that the ground rising to meet her?
Warm hands caught her before she fell and she unconsciously hugged the heat-source. It felt good to be held like that. Safe. As her mind finally fell into the darkness, her thoughts went to how she missed moments like this in her last life.
As consciousness returned to Caster, the first thing she noticed was the softness of the futon on her back. Looking around she noted she was in a rather plain Japanese-style room and someone had changed her into a dry Yukata. "How long have I been unconscious?" she wondered. She could feel strength returning to her body. The fact she was awake and wasn't slowly fading away meant two things. Firstly, someone had carried her here from the broken trail. More importantly, the slight tinge of aqua in the air and her recovered strength meant she was sitting upon a potent leyline. If it had been anywhere else, she had no doubt she would never have opened her eyes again.
"You are awake," stated a steady voice from the side, "Your original clothes are cleaned and ready. If you need to leave, then leave. If you need time to recover, then you can stay here at the temple." Kuzuki Souichirou closed the book he was reading and put away his glasses.
"How long have I been asleep?" she asked.
"Over a day," said Kuzuki, reaffirming Casters hypothesis. She supposed she should be thankful to whatever deity was watching over her. If somebody else had found her, she would have disappeared.
"You do not have to make your decision immediately. Dinner is in two hours in the main hall if you wish to attend," said Kuzuki as he got up to leave.
"I suppose I should thank you for saving me?" Caster asked from the futon.
"No," said Kuzuki, "it was a young student of mine that found you on his way here. His name is Emiya Shirou. "
"Waaaa!" she nearly yelled, "he... he didn't... um... eh... did he?" Though she wasn't making much sense, the fact she rapidly held the blankets above her already completely clothed body made her question abundantly clear.
"No, I did. They did not see anything if that is what you fear," stated Kuzuki plainly.
"I see... Thank you," she replied, her cheeks radiating a shade of scarlet. "If it is okay with you, I would like to stay here for a little while."
He responded by a curt nod and then quietly closed the door. Caster breathed a sigh of relief. Looking around the room, she noted Kuzuki had assigned her a room that would have been spacious even by Western standards. Without the usual amenities of life, the rice paper walls and tatami mats made the large room look more like a dojo than a bedroom. It wasn't a workshop or the fortress she had hoped for but that was fine. She had time to prepare for the war. Pushing back several strands of hair, Caster pushed herself off the bed and reached for her belongings.
- The Marksman -
Smoke floated high above the remains of the once proud city. The sky was filled with dust and smog from the raging wildfires that dotted the cityscape. High above the once proud skyline, a lone figure stood on the few remaining skyscrapers that dotted the landscape; like tombstones on a barren landscape. He stood motionless, his crimson cape fluttering from the high winds at this altitude. His grey eyes looked down at the ground far below him; picking up every detail with his reinforced eyes without betraying any emotion.
Down below, like the surface of the moon, innumerable craters replaced what had been structured city lanes and towering steel and concrete buildings. It had taken over three hundred years to create a city like this... It had taken him less than an hour to level it down into the ground.
Shattered VTOLs, unmanned walkers and dead infantrymen were all that was left of the last desperate attempt by the humans to stop the Dead Apostle's plans. They had failed, so he had been summoned. Millions lay dead in what was once a bustling metropolitan. He thought about how many people might have been saved this time around. If the Dead Apostle had been successful, the infection would have spread to a dozen other cities. Most likely, the Church and Magus' Association would have been involved and even more people would have died in their attempt to contain the situation. What he had done here was the right call. And yet...
On the ground, the survivors walked out from the temporary shelters they had sought. Under a collapsed girder, a woman cried in pain as two men tried to life the metal beam. She would need immediate medical treatment for the internal bleeding or else she wouldn't survive. Others cried out in pain outside his vision. Two men helped carry a child outside a burning cafe with a gurney; the boy barely older than fifteen. There were burn marks covering the kid's face and over half his body. It was unlikely that the boy would survive the night.
He was killing thousands of people to save even more people. Anyway he tried to justify it, his "duty" was nothing more than wanton destruction and slaughter in the name of the greater good. Even the warriors of Valhalla would have grown disgusted with such rife wasn't what he had wanted. There were no warm smiles of relief, laughter or tears of joy to be seen or heard where he went. Only sorrow.
A room materialized around him, with a warm stone hearth inserted into one side of the wall and an endless bookshelf on the other. Picking up his unfinished glass of wine, he took the newest book had been reading and placed it on the unending shelf adjacent to him. Though the room was a nice illusion, he knew exactly what it really was: a prison. One he would stay in until Alaya finally deemed his service complete. A Valhalla for his endless servitude.
On the endless shelf lay over a thousand books, over a lifetime's worth of experiences; each one similar to the desolate city he had just left behind.
He contemplated reaching for another book when he felt something tug at his chest. Putting down his wineglass, he suddenly felt it again before he was pulled forward by some massive unseen force; his body dematerializing past the walls of his room.
"Another mission?" Archer thought to himself.
The pull became stronger and he felt his 'essence' tumble as if from strong winds. The velocity increased and soon he felt as if he was going to be ripped to pieces by the turbulence. Something with the force of a boulder smashed into his chest and he began to fall end over end, desperately trying to steady himself.
"No... definitely not," he concluded. "Alaya's summon has never been this rough." Listening closely, he heard a voice past the roaring wind. It sounded feminine and oddly... familiar...
Thy body shall be under my command, my fate shall be determined by thy sword.
Follow the call of the Holy Grail. If thou wouldst obey this mind and this reason, then answer my call."
"Rin?" Archer said with surprise before he was finally pulled into the world.
- The Blade -
She felt a slight tug at her chest and she awakened. As she tried to find the source of the disturbance in this immaterial plane she felt her body hurled forwards through the white abyss. Confused, she tried to identify what was happening. Information flooded her mind as she fell; Dates, times, and knowledge about a world familiar yet different to her. Her mind grasped at the pieces of information and tried to understand what was happening. This was different from before; her summon was rougher.
A voice echoed through the void. It sounded self-assured and more than a little bit arrogant.
"It's unlikely, but maybe you were the seventh one."
"Well, this is it for you even if that's the case."
"Was that her... Master? No... that's wrong..." she thought.
Emotions ran through her mind, though not her own. She could feel her Master now, and he was in danger. She could feel his anger... anger at the world, at his lack of strength and ability to save himself.
Sorrow... He was saddened over a duty... no... a promise he could no longer fulfill. He had promised him he would become a Hero of Justice and save everyone. Even though his father had simply smiled at the notion, it was important to him.
Finally, he felt indignation at the world. Indignation over failing to fulfill an oath and duty to the people he wouldn't be able to save. It was an injustice she knew too well; one she had experienced herself.
Now she understood. She understood her Master's summon. Ceasing her resistance, she let the "winds" pull her to her destination. This was her second chance; she could put things right this time. Closing her eyes, she could feel radiant light surround her as she was summoned into the world.
- Paint the City Red -
Makoto Takahata had just finished her late shift at work and began the rather lengthy walk back towards her car. Humming along to her music, she failed to see the shadow that had been trailing her on the rooftop for the past several minutes. She did, however, notice when the streetlights around her dimmed and then died all at once; leaving her standing in pitch blackness. She removed the earbuds from her ears and looked around nervously while a sense of dread began to grow deep within the pit of her stomach. Turning around behind her, she stood face to face with a woman with eyes of crimson red.
"My... my... you're a pretty one," said the red-eyed woman mischievously. She bared a predator's smile, her twin razor-sharp fangs sticking past her lips.
The Makoto's scream was cut off as a strong arm covered her mouth. Two fangs pierced her neck and Makoto felt herself growing weak as her blood slowly drained out. She struggled for several moments before finally falling limp in her captor's hold. If there had been anyone around, they might have helped the senior Homurahara Academy student. As it was, the predator had chosen her victim well. There was no one around to hear her screams at this time of night.
"Mmm... you'll make for a fine thrall," muttered a voice in the shadows.
Silently, the body was dragged out of sight into the darkened alley nearby. Crimson eyes looked out into the silent Fuyuki streets before those too winked out of existence and into the darkness. Shinto's street lights flashed back on, revealing the empty street where Makoto had once stood. The only clues to her death lay on the road; her handbag and the dropped music player.
- The Agent -
Just beyond the noise and bright shining lights of Shinto lay a remote roadside diner next to one of the lesser travelled routes into Fuyuki. Owned by an elderly couple, the restaurant eked out a living from the carriers, truck drivers, transporters and other people that drifted by the secluded route. At this time of day, only three drivers sat at the counter, enjoying their coffee and meal. The light jingle of the door turned their attention and kept it there as the tall blonde woman walked towards one of the many vacant booths; walking straight past the shy orange haired waitress. Wearing simple jeans and a white t-shirt, she continued past the diner's two patrons with a simple suitcase in one hand and a backpack slung behind her shoulder. The two patrons continued to discreetly stare at her as she walked on by; her ponytail swaying behind her.
Secluded in one of the further corner booths, she set her belongings down and opened her suitcase, revealing her laptop. Waiting for her connection to Shin'i Headquarters to complete, she fished through her jeans before retrieving a package of cigarettes and grabbing the end of one of the smokes with her teeth.
Waving the waitress over, she surprised the young girl when she ordered a cup of coffee in Japanese; the girl stammering several times before nodding twice in confirmation. If she had to guess, the waitress whose tag showed the name "Hibino," was probably a poor college student looking to pay off her loans and tuition. The computer was still in the "authorization" stages by the time she received the warm mug of coffee. With apathetic movement, she grabbed the cup and took a sip, cigarette still held lazily between her lips, as she watched the communication program finish loading.
Finally, the screen switched to the Shin'i insignia and a voice spoke from the laptop's speakers.
"Good morning, Agent Sable. I take it you had a pleasant trip," said the voice over the line. Sable simply raised one of her eyebrows in response as she grinded the smoke over in her mouth; not even bothering to vocalize an answer.
"Good to see you're saving all your enthusiasm and energy for your assignment," the voice continued.
"You still haven't told me the specifics, sir," she replied..
"I told you, Sable, refer to me as Mike. In any case I've sent you the files." Numerous documents appeared on her screen as her team leader sent her a slew of papers.
"Not really much to do on this one," said the agent as she briefly perused the initial several pages.
"I know it's an assignment below your pay grade but headquarters wanted a senior member on this situation. With what's at stake, we can't afford to just sit back and just let the Church monitor by themselves; especially given what happened in the last war," said Mike.
"Yes... the Church did so well last time," she muttered.
The blonde-haired woman paged through the collection of photos that had been sent to her e-mail. Over 5 square miles had been scorched clean. Initial casualties figures were estimated to be over a thousand after the fire had finished running its course. A complete disaster for the Church and Magus Association. By all rights, the Grail should have been dismantled after the 4th war. However, the Holy Grail War was still a pet project of the Magus' Association and the Church was hesitant to intrude on the Magus Association's territory, especially since the Grail was not related to any activity from Dead Apostles. As such, despite the heavy loss of life, the two organisations had agreed to let the experiment continue on the seemingly unimportant island.
She chewed on the end of her cigarette as she read through another file. "So it's just a simple surveillance mission," said the agent.
"Indeed. There'll be no fighting on your part. Just make sure you get as much information as you can on the Masters. While we can't interfere, if something like the last war happens the Agency needs to have something to work with," replied Mike. "Besides, think of it like a vacation."
"With an 'all you can watch action and horror movie' smorgasbord," she said cynically behind her cigarette. She looked at the profile on the 4th Holy Grail War's Caster and her eye twitched. Over twenty-five children murdered in ways that would have upset even a veteran soldier's stomach.
She switched to another document. "And what about all this surveillance equipment you're sending me? I'm not a technical expert. You don't expect me to..."
"Of course not. We're sending another agent to help you with that. He'll be your partner for this assignment," the logo on her screen said.
"Oh?" she said with dull surprise. "Who is he and when will he be arriving?"
"Actually, he arrived in Fuyuki several days ahead of you," replied Mike. "As for who he is, I believe you'd remember your old partner?"
She heard the jingle of the door at the other end of the diner and looked up. Clad in a black suit that looked more at home at Wall Street than this tiny family diner, he stood tall over the other patrons. Making his way towards Sable, he halted as the waitress, Hibino, turned from refilling a cup of coffee and almost collided with him. Looking up, the reflection from his sunglasses made her slightly nervous and her own petite frame compared to his made her feel more than slightly intimidated. They stared at one another for a moment, her looking upward into the demure reflection of herself in his black sunglasses before he suddenly moved aside.
"Oh, sorry about that," he said politely with a slight nod of his head before moving to let her pass.
"Ah... Thank you," Hibino said nervously, not expecting his reaction. She moved past him towards her next customer.
Continuing on his way, he walked calmly towards the back booth. Sable simply stared wide eyed as he slowly made his way towards her before stopping at her seat.
"It's good to see you again, Agent Sable. It's been a while," said the man with a slight smile on his face. He took off his sunglasses and stored them into a side pocket. Sable let her unlit cigarette drop as her mouth opened in surprise and eyes widened in shock. "You should try the strawberry pancakes here, they're quite good."
"McNab?" she said in disbelief; as if he had simply transported into place.
"Last I checked," he said, looking himself over. He had just enough time to instinctively back away nervously before she pounced onto him.
"McNab-akun!" she said cheerfully before tackling him to the ground in a steel-bending hug and he groaned from the sheer force being exerted on his ribcage. "I thought you were dead! You idiot!" All heads turned in the diner to look at the commotion.
"Well... I was close enough to death... Sable... could you let go, I can't breath," said Agent McNab, trying and failing to maneuver his way out of her vice hug. "Uh? Sable?" He tried wiggling and tugging himself free for several moments before giving up, the blonde's head and arms firmly wrapped around his torso. He lay his head down on the floor in defeat.
Giving a sigh, he admired the beautiful wood ceiling before saying, "As my current superior officer, I'd like to note what you're doing is highly unprofessional."
"Duly noted," she said with a smile, ignoring him.
McNab watched the orange-haired waitress approached them, her height astoundingly tall from this particular vantage point. Failing to hide her smile of amusement behind the tray she held in front of her mouth, she said, "Uh... is there anything I can get for you or your... boyfriend there, Miss?" she said.
"I'm not her boyfriend..." he replied, squinting his eyes in annoyance towards her. "Although... could we get two orders of pancakes?"