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Thread: Fate/Stay Night - Prismatic Chaos

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    Mania Casteranza Alyeris's Avatar
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    Fate/Stay Night - Prismatic Chaos

    Have to start on some new projects soon, so I have no idea why I'm writing. Oh well.


    Fate/Stay Night - Prismatic Chaos


    Once upon a time in Fuyuki, there was a reluctantly newly christened champion of death love and destruction justice, pretty magical girl Kaleido-Ruby!

    "Spreading the flames of LOVE to all evildoers! BURN! HAHAHAHAHA! Isn't love so pretty when it burns this hot? Go! Sparkling Prismatic - *Pssshhh* .... Eh? What am I... !?!"

    "Time over already? Don't worry master! Magical Ruby-chan will- "DIE DIE DIE YOU STUPID STICK!" - ghwack!?"

    ... Or at least there was for a short while. *The scenes of wand abuse that follow are unsuitable for the viewing of magical audiences below the age of eighteen.*

    "Master, you really shouldn't - *KWANG* - this really - *CRUNCH* - hey! Ruby-chan is a delicate - *SMASH* - ring-a-round the roooosies... *KLANG* - help! Wand abuse!"

    "Hah, hah, hah..." Rin Tohsaka, head of the Tohsaka family of magi at the tender age of twelve, breathed heavily as she glared at the offensive item in her hands. "... Shut up and break already you cursed thing!"

    In another universe Rin would have retained enough sanity to avoid what came next, but in a multi-verse where almost anything was possible, the tragedy that followed was but one out of an infinite number of outcomes to this fiasco.

    "You know master," the disaster in wand form said seriously, making Rin stop for a moment to listen.

    Only to completely flip the next moment.

    "Black lace panties? At your age? No, no, no! Magical Ruby-chan cannot permit this travesty! Magical girl = striped panties! Kaleido Prism Power Make-... Master? Rin-chan? Ruby-chan wonders why she sees a demonic aura behind you!?"

    "... Burn in the deepest pits of hell you PERVERTED PIECE OF JUNK!"

    "Magical Ruby-chan! Fly, fly, fly awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" the wand shrieked out as Rin threw it towards the horizon at near terminal velocity.

    Unfortunately for humanity, Rin was not born on the planet where the shiny green stones come from, and her greatest efforts were only sufficient to propel the cursed item a mere two hundred metres from her location.

    Which was still enough to change the course of destiny.

    -x-x-x-

    Emiya Shirou was a simple lad with just one secret. He was a half-baked mage! Right now he could only use the simple reinforcement and projection that Kiritsugu had taught him, but he was sure that in a few years time he would be a great mage like Kiritsugu had been. Just another step on the road to becoming a champion of justice like he had promised.

    "OOOOH! Sympathetic brain waves detected~!"

    "Huh?" Shirou looked up in the midst of analysing the latest piece of junk that Fuji-nee had brought in. Who was that? And why was whoever it was coming closer and closer?

    Curious, he was about to stand up and look out when the answer came flying through the shed window. Whatever it was, it was hard and had been travelling fast enough that his nose started bleeding after it hit him.

    A drop of blood dripped onto the pink and gold thing that had hit him, and Shirou was startled when the stick suddenly stood up by itself and began to shout.

    "An innocent young lad just started on the road to becoming a hero! Developing his skills in order to fight for JUSTICE around the world! Ruby-chan is so happy to have found someone like you!"

    "Hwah?" Shirou blinked. How did this thing know what his dream was... Wait a minute! How was this thing even talking in the first place?!

    "Don't be afraid Emiya-kun! Ruby-chan was created to help girls become what they dream of! You will be a hero(ine) in no time!" The thing that Shirou now recognised as some kind of magical item continued to speak without any regards to the shock that he felt. "Magical Ruby! Kaleido Prism Power Total Make-over! Begin!"

    It was then that Shirou's mind finally processed what the stick had said a moment ago.

    "Wait! What do you mean you were made to help 'girls' become what they dream of?!" Shirou said in a panic as he tried to throw away the wand which had found itself into his hand somehow. "... Huh? Why can't I let go?!"

    "Hu hu hu! Magical Ruby-chan isn't about to let go of another master so easily!" Ruby-chan cackled evilly as a shower of multi-coloured lights began to fall down around Shirou. "Don't worry about it Emiya-kun! If you are going to fight for love and justice it's only natural to be a magical girl!"

    "But I'm a booooy!" was Shirou's last protest before the rainbow lights swamped him. Ruby's only response to the plaintive cry was to giggle like a mad clown as she waited for the transformation to begin in earnest.

    -x-x-x-

    Five days later, Kotomine Kirei cursed the name of the Kishua Zelretch Schweinorg as he worked to modify the last batch of minds that had borne witness to the disaster that his charge had helped set loose upon an unprepared world. The madness that was the Kaleido-stick had caused the destruction of three city blocks and property damage in the high millions before it could be sealed to the cry of 'Ruby-chan will be baaaack~!'. Cleaning up the mess had involved wiping the memories of hundreds of people and the dispatch of two clean-up teams from the Association. There was also the high possibility that the incident would be used as an excuse by many in the Clock Tower to try and confiscate this land from the Tohsakas, something that he couldn't allow yet. Amazingly enough there had been no loss of life, but even so... He was getting a headache just thinking of all the paper-work he was going to have to get through in order to cover this up. On the other hand, at least he didn't need to worry about finding the money for bribes and damages. Gilgamesh's Golden Rule brought in enough cash for the main part, and any extra as was needed could be taken from the Tohsaka estate that he was caretaker of.

    Sending yet another mind back to sleep, Kirei turned his thoughts towards the central figure of this disaster. One Emiya Shirou, formerly male, now female and all of twelve years old. An investigation had revealed that he was a very lucky child. A survivor of the blaze that had gutted the city four years ago, an escaper from the fate that Kirei had arranged for his fellow survivors, and adopted by Emiya Kiritsugu of all people. It was also possible to argue that he had come out very well this time as well. A body that had undergone a transformation through the Second True Magic, with twenty seven magic circuits that had operational capacities that dwarfed even those of a once in a generation blessed body like Rin's. If Kirei hadn't noticed the name and taken steps to hide him/her, Emiya Shirou would even now be on a dissection table somewhere as mages took him apart in their search for the Root.

    Kirei hoped that the child had inherited his/her adopted parent's abnormal sense of justice. Four years ago his encounter with Emiya Kiritsugu had ended in disappointment, and it would be entertaining to help grow a similar dream in the child and watch as his/her ideals betrayed him/her. Even if it wasn't so, the child was an interesting subject for him. A boy turned girl, but still with the mind of a boy. A perfect subject for mental torture and humiliation. He would have to keep a watch over the child of course. The Association could not find out about him/her, and as a servant of God he couldn't let a poor confused lamb deal with a strange new world by himself/herself now, could he?

    An unpleasant grin stretched Kirei's lips as he began to replace memories with nightmares in the last of the last people who needed to be taken care of. A little girl who knew next to nothing about how those of her sex behaved, with no suitable clothes or worldly possessions to speak of. Yes, these next few years were going to be very amusing indeed.

    -x-x-x-

    Fate/Stay Night - Prismatic Chaos

    1 - 1

    A lazy afternoon, with a warm sun overhead to counter the chill of the early winter air. At Homurabara High School the students were just beginning to leave the building with the end of classes for the day.

    "Kirika-chan, can you take my place in the clean-up roster today?" one girl asked another as everyone hurried to pack their bags in order to leave. "I promised some of my friends that I would meet them after school today and I totally forgot about it."

    The girl that had been approached for help smiled apologetically. "Sorry, I would take your place Hongou-san, but Rin has been needling me lately about me always being late..."

    "Please Kirika-chan?" Hongou pressed her classmate. "It's a really important meeting for me."

    Kirika's smile faltered as Hongou bowed her head. "Uhm..."

    Hongou crept a little closer, getting close enough that Kirika whose personal space was a bit wider than other girls began to feel a bit uncomfortable. "Kirika-chan, just this once? I'm sure that Tohsaka-san would understand if you were a little late."

    Unable to refuse the determined girl, Kirika sighed and gave in. "Okay Hongou-san. Go ahead. I suppose Rin wouldn't mind me staying back - "What wouldn't I mind Kirika-chan?" - a while. Oh, hey Rin."

    Tohsaka Rin, the idol of the school, manager and guardian of one Emiya Kirika. Though her face wore an angelic smile, the object of her attention couldn't help but feel like a frog under the glare of a snake about to strike.

    "Good, good afternoon Tohsaka-san," Hongou stuttered. Now that Tohsaka was here she knew that she was going to have to cancel her plans.

    "Good afternoon to you Hongou-san," Rin said with the angelic smile still on her face. "Do you mind coming with me for a second? We need to have a little chat."

    Kirika winced and looked out the window as Rin half led, half dragged the reluctant girl out of the class. The few students who were still left reacted in much the same manner, except for some girls who offered a quick prayer for Hongou's continued health.

    Tohsaka Rin, Miss Perfect, the object of admiration throughout the school for her unblemished academic record and athletic ability. Or at least that had been her image until the beginning of her second year. A few weeks in, Rin finally became fed up with the abuse of Kirika's generous personality by her fellow students and revealed a temper that only two people had known she had. These days she was referred to around the hallways of the school as the 'Scarlet Devil' just as commonly as she was called 'Miss Perfect'. Her actions had also provoked the rumour mills as to the exact nature of the relationship between the two girls, but regardless of such fanciful stories, it was commonly known that to try and take advantage of Kirika was to risk the wrath of the Scarlet Devil.

    "Come on Kirika-chan, time to go home." Rin said cheerfully as she came back into the classroom a few minutes later. Hongou was nowhere to be seen but Kirika tried not to let that bother her. The last time she had asked about the fate of those that Rin led away, she had been subjected to Rin's terrifyingly innocent smile and the question, 'do you really want to know?'

    Some things were just better left untouched.

    Many of the students bid the pair good day as they headed home. Both of them were famous around the school in their own right, for their looks as well as their behaviour during these two years that they had spent in high school. Nothing further needed to be said about Rin, but Kirika was known amonst the students as 'Homurabara's Browny' and 'Belldandy v.2.0.' after the famous manga character. She had other nicknames as well, not as nice as the ones before. 'The idiot with the toolkit' was one after her tendency to do anything that was asked of her including repairs of equipment around the school, 'Miss Naivete' was another popular title, especially amongst the female population of the school who didn't know whether to be relieved or exasperated by Kirika's total obliviousness to romance.

    "Emiya, Tohsaka," a familiar voice called out to them as the two exited the main building. "Going straight home again?"

    "Mitsuzuri? Shouldn't you be getting changed by now?" Rin asked as Kirika greeted their mutual friend.

    "Fujimura sensei is in there so it doesn't matter if I am a few minutes late today," Mitsuzuri Ayako replied with an overly friendly smile as she came up to them.

    "Getting lax with your duties as a captain are we Mitsuzuri?" Rin crossed her arms and took a step to the side to come between Ayako and Kirika. "Pity, I expected you to show more responsibility than that."

    Ayako clicked her tongue as she was foiled in her approach. "Oh but I am showing responsibility Tohsaka. It's the captain's job to make sure that wayward members attend isn't it?"

    "Hmm? I don't see any of your club members here Mitsuzuri," Rin said with the beginnings of another angelic smile on her face.

    "Finally going blind are we? She's standing right behind you," Ayako said in reply.

    "I never recall giving Kirika permission to join the Archery club," Rin mused whimsically.

    "I don't recall you ever getting control over Emiya's personal life Tohsaka," Ayako replied with a grin.

    "Eh? Eh?" Caught in between her friends, Kirika was looking between one and the other without a clue as to what she should say or do.

    "We are busy today so give up Mitsuzuri," Rin announced. "Judging from past experience, you probably need to go and fetch seaweed head anyway."

    "... It hurts that I can't deny that," Ayako groaned as she remembered what she had come out to do before she caught sight of the two.

    "Bye Mitsuzuri!" Rin said with a cheerful wave as she began to drag Kirika out towards the gate.

    Giving up for the day Ayako smiled and waved back. "Bye you two. Emiya, just forget about what Rin says and come out to the dojo once in a while. You are welcome at any time okay?"

    "Maybe some day," Kirika was able to answer before she got too far off to talk without shouting.

    As soon as they were far enough away from the school that there were no other people to overhear, Rin took down the facade of a perfect student that she wore in public and looked at Kirika with accusing eyes.

    "What? What is it Rin?" asked Kirika, flustered by the way Rin was acting. She couldn't recall doing anything wrong, so she had no idea why Rin was looking at her like this.

    "Kiri~ka," Rin sang in a light voice. "How many times have I told you not to fall for the next sob story you hear?"

    "Oh, that," Kirika chuckled nervously as she tried not to meet Rin's eyes. "I was just trying to help."

    "That's what you say every time," Rin said in a frustrated voice. "You are a mage, not some kind of good samaritan. You need to start getting used to the idea of equivalent exchange soon or you are going to have a lot of problems once you start working."

    "..." Kirika visibly drooped. "But I don't have any talent as a mage. Even Kirei said so, that I would be better off as a magic user. Can't I just do what I want to do and help people out?"

    "Kirika..." Rin frowned at Kirika's lack of motivation. "Don't pay attention to what that pseudo-priest says. You are my apprentice, and no one taught by a member of the Tohsaka family is going to end up as some amateur magic user." Under her breath Rin added something about not letting that much power be wasted. "You can help people out too. It's just that you need to start grasping the idea of getting something back for your help."

    Kirika looked puzzled. "... But you aren't supposed to ask for payment when you help people."

    "Ugh," Rin palmed her face as the usual headache that came with any discussion of Kirika's annoying habit began to make its presence known. "You... Never mind Kirika. It's not as if we can repair that broken down personality of yours in a few days after the years we've spent on it."

    "... ?" It was clear that Kirika couldn't connect the dots here.

    Rin sighed. It was hard looking after an apprentice as oblivious to her faults as Kirika was. Better to just ignore the issue and focus on the work she was going to have to do tonight.

    -x-x-x-

    "... Rin. Do we have to do this?"

    "It's the easiest way Kirika. Or do you want me to 'violate' you again?"

    "... I think this will do just fine."

    "Good, now shut up and close your eyes already."

    In a basement beneath the Tohsaka manor, two girls were kneeling in front of each other with a simply adorned dagger beside them. Kirika had her eyes closed and had a nervous air about her, a mental state shared by Rin though to a lesser degree. Taking a deep breath, Rin put something in her mouth and leant forward. Then, in an act that would have stunned the entire school if anyone found out about it, she covered Kirika's soft lips with her own.

    "Mmph!" Kirika whimpered softly and jumped as contact was made.

    Rin drew back a little and opened her eyes. "Stay still," she said awkwardly before she resumed the kiss. Raven black veiled copper brown as Rin's hair fell down to frame Kirika's face.

    Cheeks red with embarassment and hints of other emotions, Kirika's eyes flew wide open as a foreign presence invaded her mouth. She would have drawn back, but this time Rin was prepared and held her steadfast against herself in a lover's embrace. The kiss continued for a long brief moment, and Kirika moaned as Rin forced her lips slightly open and passed her fluids through.

    Then, finally, it was over. Freed from Rin's hold upon her, Kirika collapsed and let out a moan that was half of pleasure and half pain as something connected inside her, the unfamiliar energy burning her body inside and out as her circuits reacted to the intrusion. For herself, Rin had turned away and was crouched down with her head upon her knees. Her posture made it impossible to see her face, but from the way that even her neck was red it was entirely possible that she was blushing fiercely.

    "Hah, hah, hah, hah," Taking heavy breaths, Kirika finally recovered enough energy to speak. "I ask again, hah, did we really have to do it this way?"

    "It's not as if I wanted to do this either, but any other way would have been painful for you and the pass wouldn't have been as strong, and I suppose it wasn't that unpleasant, but that was my first... Wait what am I saying, this was just us connecting a pass. It doesn't count. It can't count. I can't have just given my first kiss to another girl, even if her lips were so soft...," Rin mumbled incoherently as she rocked back and forth.

    "Say again?" Kirika asked innocently. She couldn't hear anything of what Rin was saying.

    "Ahhhh! What am I saying?!" Rin suddenly screamed out loud and then surprised her by leaping up and grasping her by the collar of her shirt. "That was just us connecting a pass. Do you understand Kirika? We just connected a pass in order to share prana. It does not count as anything else. Alright?"

    Frozen by the force behind Rin's words, Kirika could only nod instinctively in order to avoid the death that was promised by those frosty blue eyes should she do anything else.

    Satisfied, Rin let go, and Kirika fell back down. "Start preparing the summoning circle when you have recovered then Kirika. I will help once I've finished getting everything ready."

    "Okay," Kirika replied as she tried to get back up to her feet, only to collapse as her legs refused to work properly. "Ah... This might take a while."

    Rin nodded absently as she dug out a small box from amidst a pile of containers holding everything required for the summoning ritual. "Your circuits are fused with your nerves like Kirei told you before, so you might be a little unsteady until your body gets used to the pass being there. Just sit tight until you recover."

    Kirika accepted the explanation and sat there quietly as Rin proceeded to get this and that and rearrange it all for easy access. A few minutes went by this way before she felt that she could stand up again.

    "That felt strange," she complained to Rin as she got to her feet. "Kind of like that time I nearly burnt out my circuits that first year."

    "Don't remind me," Rin grumbled. "I still get nervous when I think about that. Do you know how worried I was when I realised that your circuits were out of control? Geez, you know you could have died then."

    "Hee hee, thanks Rin," Kirika chuckled. "No need to worry anymore though. My control has improved a lot since then."

    "Thank goodness," Rin mumbled as she embedded an Amethyst on one of the polar points in the circle that had been sketched out on the floor.

    "But you know Rin," Kirika said with a small frown marring her brow. "Don't you have enough prana for the ritual already?"

    "It never hurts to have more," Rin shrugged. "Besides, it's not as if you don't have any to spare. Your circuits are always overflowing with more prana than you can use."

    Kirika sighed. "Even so Rin, that was my first -"

    Kirika was interrupted by Rin's shrill shriek. "That wasn't a kiss! We were just connecting a pass okay?! It was a ritual! Not a kiss! I can't have given my first kiss to another girl! I can't have!"

    "Eh? Rin? Calm down!" Kirika attempted to soothe Rin's temper, but it was already too late.

    "It was my first kiss too you idiot!" Rin shouted as the crest of the Tohsaka family began to glow with a bright blue light.

    An explosion rocked the house, and smoke began to stream out from the shattered windows that looked into the basement.

    -x-x-x-

    The clock struck 2, an hour of the night when most humans would be asleep.

    "Das Material ist aus Silber und Eisen."
    Ye first, O silver, O iron

    In the basement of the Tohsaka mansion however, two young women stood in and around a circle that glowed with a bright red light.

    "Der Grundstein ist aus Stein und dem Groherzog des Vertrag.
    O stone of the foundation, O Archduke of the Contract
    Der Ahn ist mein groer Meister Schweinorg."
    Hear me in the name of our great teacher, the Archmagus Schweinorg

    On the edge of the circle, Kirika squinted as the light from the circle grew brighter, fuelled by the prana being pulled out of both herself and the gems that Rin had saved for this day.

    " Schutz gegen einen heftigen Wind.
    Let the descending winds be as a wall
    Schlie alle Tore, geh aus der Krone, zirkulier die Gabelung nach dem Knig.
    Let the gates in all directions be shut, rising above the crown, and let the three-forked roads to the Kingdom revolve.
    Fll, fll, fll, fll, fll.
    Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut.
    Es wird fnfmal wiederholt.
    Five perfections for each repetition.
    Nur ist es die volle Zeit gebrochen.
    And now, let the filled sigils be annihilated in my stead!
    -Satz."
    Set.

    Red was joined by a spectrum of other colours in the circle, a sign that the gems embedded into its structure were releasing and transforming the prana as they were meant to. The strain grew as Rin exhausted her own reserves and actively began to pull prana through the pass that had been created earlier. It was an uncomfortable feeling, much like having a raw electric current run through your body, but Kirika bore it without so much as a whisper. Compared to the circuit forging she did every day the pain was still bearable. She worried instead for Rin who had to handle all that power. One mistake here and it was unlikely that she would survive.

    Du berlt alles mir, mein Schicksal berlt alles deinem Schwert.
    Let thy body rest under my dominion, let my fate rest in thy blade.
    Das basiert auf dem Gral, antwort wenn du diesem Willen und diesem Vernunftgrund folgst.
    If thou submittest to the call of the Holy Grail and if thou wilt obey this mind, this reason, then thou shalt respond.

    A final flaring of light, a pure white luminescence created by the union of the radiation from the various gems around the circle. Magnificient, that was the only way to describe it. Kirika knew very well that a ritual of this level was far beyond her crude skills, and she grinned wryly as she closed her eyes to protect her sight.

    Rin's voice picked up as she entered into the final, crucial stage of the summoning. Kirika could feel that they were both at their limits, but Rin continued to pour prana into the circle without hesitation. All to overcome the barriers between this world and the next, putting everything on the line in order to obtain the greatest reward.

    " Liegt das Gelbde hier.
    I make my oath here.
    Ich bin die Gte der ganzen Welt.
    I am that person who is to become the virtue of all Heavens.
    Ich bin das Bse der ganzen Welt.
    I am that person who is covered with the evil of all Hades.
    Du bist der Himmel mit dreien Wortseelen.
    Thou seven heavens, clad in a trinity of words,
    Komm, aus dem Kreis der Unterdrckung, der Schutzgeist der Balkenwaage-!"
    come past thy restraining rings, and be thou the hands that protect the balance-!

    A burst of light, then darkness. The sudden absence of illumination meant that Kirika couldn't see anything when she opened her eyes again, but even so she could tell that something was wrong.

    "Nothing?" Rin whispered. "But that's -."

    *CRASH* *Cr-THUD* *CRASH*

    Rin looked at Kirika, Kirika looked back at Rin.

    "Upstairs!" they said at the same time.

    Kirika was the first to move, instinctively acting to encounter the unknown first so as to reduce the risk to Rin. With dagger in hand Kirika rushed up the stairs, when she got to the top she kicked the door open and followed straight through to catch whoever was behind the door by surprise. She soon found however that she needn't have bothered.

    Sitting there, sprawled out amongst the ruins of what had once been an elegantly furnished lounge, was something that 'was not human'.

    "What a rough summon," the 'being' grumbled as he extracted himself from the wreckage.

    "Kirika!" Rin cried out as she came up. "Is everything alright?"

    The 'man' that Kirika presumed was a servant raised an eyebrow as Rin burst into the room. "Tohsaka? Wait, two mages? Which one of you amateurs is my master?"

    "A-a-amateurs?" Rin was shocked beyond words for a moment. "What kind of thing to say to your master is that?! Wait, what kind of servant are you in the first place?!"

    "Servant Archer, at your service," the bronze skinned servant answered with a mocking grin. "Like what you see?"

    "Archer?" Rin fell to her knees. "We poured in all that prana and I summoned an Archer instead of Saber? That doesn't make sense. What happened to equivalent exchange? What did I do wrong to get a weak servant like this?"

    "Hey, hey, I'm standing right here girl," the servant looked displeased with Rin's dismissal of his ability. "Isn't a bit rude to call someone weak to their faces?"

    Kirika was still weary of the servant for some reason, but she couldn't help but giggle as Rin realised her mistake and tried to rearrange her expression.

    "It's not funny Kirika," Rin snapped at her with a blush on her face. "I apologise for my rudeness servant Archer, but please understand that the nature of your arrival has us a little off balance."

    "I suppose it would," Archer said sarcastically. "It's my first time arriving in such a rough manner too. Did you draw the summoning circle with your foot or something?"

    Rin visibly shook with rage as the servant yet again dismissed her skills. She tried to stand up in order to teach the rude servant a lesson but faltered on her first step as her legs gave out underneath her.

    "Whoa, easy there master," said Archer. "No matter how crude the summon was you have got to be tired from it. Go take a nap or something, you look like you could do with some beauty sleep. It certainly wouldn't hurt your bust."

    That was the last straw. Kirika flinched and backed away as Rin began to laugh softly, and she imagined that she saw a dark red aura fill the air around the other girl as she got to her feet again.

    "Hu hu hu, I am amateur am I? A flat-chested kid? Very well Archer, I will take your advice and go to sleep for the day," Rin spoke in a sibilant tone that seemed to fill the air. "But while I'm sleeping, why don't you make yourself useful and clean the room?"

    Archer's grin froze upon his face. "Huh? What did you just say master?"

    Rin smiled. "Clean the room Archer."

    "Yeah, that's what I thought you said," Archer said slowly. "I think you need to go and get your head checked master. I can't think of any other reason a mage would summon a Servant and then tell them to clean a room."

    "Oh, but my head's perfectly fine Archer," Rin replied. "Now, be a good familiar and clean the room."

    "... You have got to be kidding me," Archer said incredulously.

    "Uhm, Rin? I'll take care of it so why don't you go to sleep?" Kirika butted in to try and stave off what she suspected would be a spectacular display of stupid pride on Rin's part.

    "That wont do Kirika," Rin said firmly as she stared down the rebellious servant. "You are tired as well and we have a lot of work to do tomorrow as well. You are going to go to sleep with me."

    "Huh. Not only did I get summoned by amateurs, but my master is a lesbian?" Archer seemed even more surprised than his statement would allow for some reason.

    Rin realised what she had said and blushed fiercely. "It's not like that! Ahhhhhh! That's it!"

    Archer and Kirika's eyes grew wide as Rin rolled up her sleeve.

    "Uh, master? What are you doing?"

    "Rin? You can't be thinking to..."

    "Shut up and obey me!" Rin shouted, ignoring their questions.

    One of the command seals on Rin's hand flashed red for a second before it disappeared. The effect was immediately visible as Archer seemed to freeze for a moment before he sat up. However, the power required to use the command seal in such a manner appeared to be the last stroke for Rin, as she collapsed in a heap into Kirika's arms.

    "Rin? Are you okay?" Kirika asked, worried for her friend and teacher's health.

    "I forgot..." Rin mumbled, her eyes half closed already.

    "... ?" Kirika blinked. "What did you forget?"

    Rin slumped even further, her eyes shutting slowly. "The clocks... They are all one hour fast right now... One... Not two..."

    Kirika thought over what Rin had said as she rearranged Rin so that she would be more comfortable. One? Not two? Oh, the time. Now that she thought about it, Rin had purposely waited for two o'clock when the heavens would be in perfect alignment with her powers. If her clocks were an hour fast...

    She looked at the clock. Four past two, or rather four past one. Heh, that figured.

    "Looks like the Tohsaka curse strikes yet again," Kirika whispered softly as she lifted Rin up in order to take her to her room.

    "You going to be alright taking her up like that?" Archer asked, surprisingly her with the concern she could hear in his voice.

    "I will be fine Archer-san," she replied, reassessing her opinion of the servant in her mind. He was actually an okay guy. "I'm stronger than I look."

    "You would have to be," Archer stated as he looked over the girl whose arms were as thin as sticks.

    Kirika rolled her eyes, used to the dismissal of her physical abilities by others when they first met her. "Well, I apologise on Rin's behalf Archer-san. She's actually much more considerate than this. I think it was just the fatigue from the summon coupled with the shock of summoning you when she fully expected to get a Saber out of the whole deal that threw her off balance."

    "Yeah I know," Archer smiled, then paused. "I mean, I can tell."

    Kirika smiled. "That's good. Are you going to clean up the room like she asked though?" she asked as she shifted her hold on Rin's body to a bridal carry.

    "Heh, might as well," Archer replied. "I don't have anything else to do and I may as well make myself useful."

    "Thanks Archer-san," Kirika said. She suppressed a sudden urge to yawn and realised that she too needed some rest. "I will leave you to it then. I need to get Rin to her room before my legs give out on me."

    "Good night," Archer waved at her flippantly. "Oh, and by the way, what's your name?"

    Kirika stopped at the doorway and looked back. "I'm Emiya Kirika, Archer-san. You can tell me your true name tomorrow when Rin's awake."

    Having said that Kirika left with Rin in her arms. Her limbs felt heavier with every step she took, but she needed to get to Rin's room at least before she closed her eyes.

    Behind her, in the wrecked lounge, Archer stood frozen where he stood. Surprise evident upon his face.

    "Emiya... Kirika?" he muttered in a puzzled tone. "What kind of world am I in now?"
    Last edited by Alyeris; May 19th, 2012 at 06:41 PM.

  2. #2
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    It's BACK! It's really, really BACK! AHAHAHHAA!!!

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    My gast is well and truly flabbered.

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    1-2

    As usual it started with chaos. A storm of swirling colours inside her head. Input processing disconnected. Error. Erosion of mental landscape. Error. Analysis impossible. Error. Source containment failure. Error. Error. Error. Error. Error. Error. Error. FJsdsfidhf9sdh813xc9 i8h0wrhjodijgs a9iug0wj2e0n 0s098stuwrtw0e9ut09su0au st9jw0g9hddksdapocb0idj-0adsig0asig90sd9g38vuvhnxcshbvinjjico -

    ...

    Sudden silence. As if nothing had ever happened.

    The colours faded to reveal an empty void. In the far off distance Kirika thought that she saw pinpricks of light, as varied in their colours as there were stars in the night sky. It was hard to tell though. They were too far away for her to even confirm their existence.

    It used to be that the dream ended here, leaving her confused and bewildered as to what it meant. Lately however another section had been added, and she waited for them to appear.

    Finally, they slowly coalesced into being. Two golden swords, both a promise of victory, yet so very different in their origins.

    One a solemn promise to uphold an oath, a king's authority.
    The other a promise formed from the collective dreams of man, magnificent glory.

    She couldn't see them properly yet, let alone touch them, but this was enough for now. They became clearer every day. Some day she would be able to reach them, and possibly even recreate them. For now however, just this brief glance was enough.

    It was just a shame that she could never remember what they looked like when she woke up.

    -x-x-x-

    Dawn. As usual, morning started early for Kirika.

    "Ugh, that dream again..." Kirika groaned, her voice muffled by the sheets. "Hu... Wha~?" she then mumbled as she realised that she couldn't get up from the bed.

    Rubbing her eyes, Kirika looked to see what the problem was and spotted the obstruction immediately. A pair of slim arms around her waist and shoulders.

    ... Ah. She was in Rin's bed again. How had she gotten here?

    Lying still for now, she went through her memories of last night for an explanation of her current situation. Just three years ago she would have been unable to think by now, but after the constant harassment teasing that she had suffered at Rin's hands she had been desensitised enough that she could calmly accept the situation as it stood. It wasn't as if there was any sexual overtones anyway. They were both girls after all.

    Last night. What had they been doing again? Something about summoning. Rin had been busy preparing for whatever it was all week, and they had even gone so far as to create a pass between...

    Kirika blushed and pulled her body slightly back from Rin's. Desensitised to skinship she may have been, but being this close to Rin's sleeping face while remembering the... Connection ritual... From last night...

    "Muuu..." It was embarassing just thinking about it.

    With that memory in mind, Kirika decided that she better get up. She had her morning schedule to get through and she was going to go to sleep again if she stayed in bed any longer.

    When she tried to get out of bed however, she ran into trouble as Rin tightened her hold upon her.

    "Not again," Kirika sighed as Rin clutched her to her chest. "Rin, let me go." Kirika poked Rin in the face to try and provoke a reaction. She quickly got one as Rin swatted her finger away with her hand. Kirika didn't waste the opportunity and quickly pulled away from the other girl.

    "Mmm... Cold..." Rin whimpered in her sleep as the cold morning air hit her where Kirika's body had been.

    "There, there," Kirika covered Rin up again with the sheet. "Sleep tight Rin, I'll wake you up later."

    Chuckling to herself, Kirika stroked Rin's head a few times, and got the usual reaction as Rin purred in her sleep like some lazy cat. She could have stayed like that for a while, as she sometimes did, but her diligence got the better of her and she went out to start on her morning work.

    Coming down the stairs, Kirika was surprised to hear something moving around in the kitchen. An intruder? She couldn't sense any errors in the wards that plastered the mansion. How had they gotten in here?

    "Trace, on." Activating her circuits, Kirika quickly began to project a simple steel baton into her hand. Unlike Rin she didn't have any spells that she could use to defend herself, so the acquisition of a weapon was a high priority.

    "Possibility aligned. Structure confirmed. Set." A few short seconds after she had begun, a fifty centimetre baton appeared in her grasp.

    Armed and on guard, she slowly crept down the stairs making as little noise as possible. When she reached the door to the kitchen, she paused for a moment, then dashed in with her weapon held high.

    "Hyah!"

    "Huh?"

    Kirika struck at the white haired stranger in the kitchen, and was surprised when the man reacted faster than she had thought possible to dodge the attack and then kick her hard enough to knock her back.

    "Kyaah!" she shrieked as she hit the wall.

    "Who the -... Wait, weren't you with my master? What the heck did you think you were doing?" asked the man in the red cloak.

    "Ow... Master?" Kirika looked at the intruder and finally remembered who he was. "Oh! I'm sorry Archer-san. I thought you were an intruder."

    "Hah..." Archer let out a heavy sigh. "Try and remember when a heroic spirit has been summoned will you?"

    "Heh heh," Kirika smiled sheepishly and got up.

    Archer shook his head ruefully. Rin's tendency to mess up at crucial moments was bad enough but he didn't know what he was going to do if he had to deal with this ditzy girl as well. Lamenting his fate, Archer was about to go back to cleaning up the kitchen when the steel baton that Kirika had projected caught his eyes.

    "Is something wrong Archer-san?" asked Kirika who had noticed that he had frozen up.

    "What? Oh, no, nothing," Archer scratched his chin. "Just thinking about something."

    "Oh, okay," Kirika was a bit curious but accepted his answer. She was about to go out when she realised something and turned to face Archer again. "Archer-san? Are you hungry? If you are looking for something to eat I could prepare a meal for you."

    Archer blinked. "Thanks, but that won't be necessary. I just need prana from my master to survive. Why do you ask?"

    Kirika tilted her head to the side. "Uhm, it's just that you were in the kitchen, and..."

    "Just following my master's orders kid," Archer told her with a smirk. "Now that you mention it though, are you hungry? I could whip something up for you if you are."

    Kirika quickly shook her head. "Oh no, there's no need for that Archer-san. I need to go and do some things right now." She paused. "Wait, you can cook?"

    "Can I cook?" Archer snorted. "If cooking was an Olympic sport I could take a silver medal at the least."

    In light of that prideful boast, Kirika gave him a dumbfounded look, as if to say 'what kind of heroic spirit are you?'. Understandable, as cooking wasn't usually something heroes of legend were famous for.

    "Ah... okay then," Kirika decided to leave that issue aside for now. "See you a bit later then Archer-san. It probably won't happen but if Rin comes out please tell her I'm in the back yard."

    "What are you going to be doing?" Archer said curiously.

    Kirika smiled sheepishly again. "Just some sorcery and martial arts practice. It's a morning ritual of mine."

    "Hoh?" An interested light appeared in Archer's eyes when she mentioned sorcery. "Do you mind if I take a look then?"

    "Hwah?" Kirika blushed. "Uhm, ah, I'm just an amateur, and ah..."

    "Don't worry, I won't make fun of you or anything," Archer said with a smirk. "I'm just a bit bored right now."

    "Well... I guess it would be okay..." Kirika said weakly.

    "Good, lead on then kiddo."

    Kirika's embarassment lasted until they got out to the small garden behind the mansion. Flustered and red faced, she was unsettled as she tried to calm herself in preparation for her daily ritual, but the serious nature of the task meant that Kirika soon reimposed control of her emotions.

    "Trace on," Kirika whispered as she imagined the activation of her circuits.

    Archer found one thing odd with Kirika's preparations as she began her practice. Though his memories were faded and patchy in places, he still remembered the long and tedious times he had spent practising his misguided sorcery in the shed. Part of that memory was the fact that he had needed to be sitting down in order to concentrate enough to reinforce or project anything.

    This Kirika girl on the other hand, if she was what he suspected she was, had to be a lot more advanced than he had been at her age. She had to be if she was performing a tai chi sequence as she was projecting a pair of plain Chinese dao (dao - one sided chinese swords, similar to Kanshou and Bakuya).

    While Archer was lost in his thoughts, Kirika had blocked out the world until the only things that she perceived were the two blades in her hand and her movements. Step, swerve, step, turn. Arms outstretched, blades turning slowly around the crux of her body. Moving at a constant pace that was neither fast nor forceful, but held an elegance and balance that characterised the Tai Chi Chuan style that she had learned and practiced. Every once in a while she would dismiss the blades, than switch to a sequence that only involved the use of her body. When that cycle was finished she would make another circuit in her mind, project another set of dao, and reinforce the projected steel to the limits of her ability as she moved. This exercise was one that Rin had commonly referred to as a suicide wish until they had found some of Kiritsugu's notes on the matter.

    After an indefinite length of time, Kirika finally finished the last of her morning sequences, and came to a stop as she let her blades fade away.

    It wasn't until she heard the clapping that she remembered that Archer was behind her, and she blushed heavily as she realised that he had watched the whole thing.

    "Nicely done kiddo," Archer said as he clapped. "Tai chi chuan?"

    Kirika nodded shyly. "Qing'un, Yin nidoryuu," she told him the name of the style and the substyle that she practiced.

    "Twin dao huh," Archer muttered, a hint of bitterness in his audible in his voice for some reason. "When did you start learning?"

    "Four years ago," Kirika replied as she wiped away some sweat from her brow. The forms themselves weren't that exhausting, but the strain of projecting and wielding the weighty swords took a lot out of her. "Rin and father Kotomine up at the church insisted that I learn some kind of martial arts and tai chi was the one that I like best of their choices. Only been two years since I started with the swords though."

    "About those," Archer interjected. "Why do you project them? Wouldn't it be more efficient for you to carry a pair rather than using Gradation Air like that?"

    Kirika shrugged. "That's what Rin suggested when I started, but for some reason my projection works a lot better than other people's." She projected another sword to make her point, and the finished blade lay in her hand in only a few seconds. "Swords are even easier."

    Archer wasn't sure what to think or feel as Kirika smiled proudly at him. The evidence at hand suggested that she was who he suspected she was, but if that were so he wasn't sure what he would do. It would all have been a lot easier and straight-forward if she had been a guy like she should have been...

    With the mood of a drowning man clutching at straws, Archer decided to ask the question that would confirm once and for all the hypothesis that he had reached.

    "Hey kid, do you have a brother?" he asked.

    "A brother?" Kirika shook her head. "No, why do you ask?"

    "No reason," Archer sighed and pulled an excuse out of his pocket. "I just thought for a second that you have the air of an older sister that's all."

    Kirika looked at the servant strangely. What had she said or done to give him that idea?

    "Maybe it's because I'm always looking after Rin," she joked as she headed back inside.

    "Maybe," Archer said with a shrug as he followed her. "Lord knows she needs it," he muttered as some memories floated up.

    "Did you say something Archer-san?" Kirika asked, paused in the midst of opening the door.

    Archer waved her off. "Nah, let's go inside. I will prepare breakfast for you and my master so go take a shower."

    "Thanks Archer-san!" Kirika called out as she went towards the bathroom.

    When she had gone Archer sighed heavily and scratched his head. All that time waiting for a chance to kill Emiya Shirou, and when he finally got here it turns out that he's in a parallel world where he had been born a girl. Great.

    "Real funny World, real funny," he grumbled as he threw away his plans for revenge upon himself.

    The World had to be behind this, he just knew it. When would the damn bitch tire of using him as its whipping horse? Ah, screw it. He may as well focus on the Grail War for now. Who knew? Maybe he could use it to break the contract.

    -x-x-x-

    "Why do I feel like I'm forgetting something?" Kirika mumbled as she finished wiping down after the shower.

    Draping a bathrobe around herself, she made sure that the towel around her hair was tight enough that she wouldn't drip any water on the carpet. This was harder than it sounded, as her waist length hair tended to soak up a lot of moisture which took forever to dry properly. If she had been left to her own devices she would have tired of the effort it took to take care of those long copper brown strands years ago, and would probably have cut it short to around her neck like Mitsuzuri did. When she had first suggested such however, Rin had made such a fuss about a mage's hair being their life that she had kept it long ever since. Using conditioners and drying her hair slowly so as to avoid split ends was also a habit by now after four years of Rin demanding that she take care of her hair properly. She didn't really get why Rin put up such a fuss about the whole deal. After all, it wasn't as if she could store much prana in her hair like Rin could. Sympathetic spells were possibly a cause for worry, but who was going to curse a second-rate mage like her any time soon?

    Kirika had her suspicions, especially after years of Rin and Kirei playing around with her, but as yet she had never been able to obtain any conclusive evidence that Rin's demands that she keep her hair long were for her amusement. Maybe next year.

    Drying off and changing into uniform took half an hour, and by the time she got out Archer had set out breakfast.

    "Mmm, that smells nice," Kirika voiced her thoughts as she came into the kitchen.

    "Of course it does, I made it didn't I?" Archer replied pridefully. "Now, could you go and get my master? She should wake up about now if she plans to get to school."

    Kirika looked at the clock. Seven thirty. Archer was right.

    "She's normally up by now," said Kirika, but she was already moving. "I guess she must have been more tired than I thought."

    "Whatever," Archer shrugged. "Just tell her to come down."

    Kirika nodded and went to fetch Rin. She was about to open the door when it opened by itself. Through the open door came a zombie, who immediately draped itself over Kirika and almost pulled her down with its weight.

    "Good morning Rin," Kirika sighed as she identified the undead monster.

    "M'rn'ng," Rin mumbled back, her face buried in Kirika's free flowing hair.

    "Wake up already Rin," Kirika fussed as she tried to stand her friend up. Possibly related to a vampire the Tohsaka's might be, but Rin's weakness in the mornings bordered upon the ridiculous.

    All of Kirika's efforts amounted to very little as Rin's body slumped again. This time in a manner so that Rin's face was buried in Kirika's chest. Kirika was about to pull her back up when Rin suddenly twitched.

    "Kirika?" Rin mumbled.

    "Yes?" Kirika replied. "What is it?"

    Rin's answer came in the form of a hand that came up to squeeze Kirika's chest.

    "Hii! Rin?!" Kirika squealed as Rin massaged that delicate part of her body.

    Still visibly out of it, Rin looked up and threw an annoyed glare at her. "You got bigger again!" she cried out, and she accentuated her words with another squeeze that drew a startled gasp from her poor victim.

    "Mmph! Rin! Stop it!" Kirika was finally able to wrestle Rin's hand away, and pulled back to a safe distance.

    "Its not fair," Rin muttered darkly as Kirika drew away. "You eat the same as I do, and it's not as if you exercise any more than me. Is it because you do Tai Chi? Is that it?"

    Kirika palmed her face. This sort of thing was why she didn't like to wake Rin up in the mornings.

    Rin's tirade against the injustices of human physiology lasted until she arrived at the bathroom, and Kirika let out a relieved sigh when after a quick shower Rin completely recovered from the weird funk that she had been in.

    "Good morning Kirika," Rin greeted demurely her as she came out. It was almost as if she didn't remember anything of what she had done and said just a few minutes ago.

    "... Morning Rin," replied Kirika, who knew better from bitter experience.

    The two then went down into the dining room, where Rin was surprised by the fact that Archer had made breakfast. When Kirika added that he had also fixed the lounge she gave her a disbelieving look and went off to check before she came back again.

    They then sat down to eat and Kirika had take the first bite from the omelette that Archer had made when she froze up.

    "Rin," she said in a monotone.

    "Kirika," Rin answered from across the table, also in a monotone.

    ""..."" A moment of silence as the two looked at each other. Then...

    ""We've lost..."" the two admitted as they slumped in defeat.

    Behind them, Archer smirked as he enjoyed his small victory.

    -x-x-x-

    One short conversation and a formal exchange of names later, Kirika and Rin were off to school, with Archer following close behind in spiritual form. It was another fine day, and they enjoyed the sunny weather as they walked along the road.

    "Make sure you go straight home after school, okay Kirika?" Rin told her troublesome apprentice as they neared the school grounds. "I'll be annoyed with you if I hear that you stayed behind again."

    "I can't help it today though," Kirika complained. "It's my turn on the duty roster."

    Rin frowned. "Is it? That's troublesome. I was planning to go and look around town with Archer after school today."

    "Go ahead Rin," said Kirika. "It's not as if I'm a little kid who needs to be picked up every day."

    Rin sighed. "No, you are worse."

    "Rin..." Kirika pouted.

    "I'm joking, I'm joking," Rin laughed. "Fine, but make sure you go straight home after you are done okay?"

    Kirika rolled her eyes. "Yes mother."

    "Sensei you mean," Rin half joked.

    It was at that moment that they crossed the threshold to the school proper, and both of them instantly stopped and looked around.

    "You feel it too?" Rin asked out loud.

    "Yes, it feels... Sticky," Kirika replied as she closed her eyes to get a better sense of what she felt.

    "Master, there's a field of some sort around the school," reported Archer who hadn't said much up to now. He was still in spirit form so it was as if a ghost had suddenly started talking. Which was what it was in a sense.

    "Stay close to me Archer," Rin ordered. "Kirika, you too. You are staying with me until I've figured out what this ward is meant to do."

    Kirika nodded, and then pointed in the direction of a nearby classroom. "The closest concentration of energy that I can feel is over there."

    Knowing that Kirika's sense for these kind of things was better than hers, Rin took her word for the truth and quickly led the way towards the abnormality that Kirika had sensed. When they got closer Kirika pointed out the general area that the thing lay in, which let Rin narrow down her search to a small area from which she was quickly able to locate the sigil.

    Marking the one that they had found, Rin and Kirika then moved onto the next location that Kirika sensed. Three such trips later, they had found enough that Rin was able to get a general idea of what the ward was meant to do.

    "What kind of idiot put this here?" Rin muttered darkly as she straightened up. "If this thing activates all the students in this school are going to be turned into pools of blood. Doesn't whoever set this in place know that this kind of thing blows secrecy out of the water?!"

    "Can't you dispel it Rin?" asked Kirika whose face had been pale since Rin mentioned that the ward was meant to liquefy all humans inside it.

    "Impossible," Rin said with a firm shake of the head. "The complexity of the ward is frankly ridiculous. There hasn't been much effort made to hide it, but the ward itself is a self regenerating mystery. I couldn't get rid of it completely even if I brought down the entire building."

    "What can we do then?" asked Kirika. "We can't just leave it here."

    Rin examined the sigil once again. "It seems like there are still a few days to go until it can activate. I think we can delay it by destroying some of these sigils, but like I said before, it will just keep making more."

    "Are you going to?" Archer asked. "If we mess with the ward it will warn whoever created it that we are onto them."

    Rin smiled confidently. "Let them. No Tohsaka is going to lose against the kind of trash that would do this sort of thing . Or don't you think you can handle a fight Archer?"

    Archer grinned back at her. "Like I said before Rin, I am the best. So bring it on."

    As the two matched opinions, Kirika smiled at the interplay between Rin and Archer. She had been thinking this since the morning, but these two really did suit each other.

    -x-x-x-

    It was when she entered the classroom that Kirika realised what she had forgotten.

    "KI~RI~KA!"

    "!"

    Before she could react, a tiger in human form leapt upon her, and promptly proceeded to stretch her cheeks with its claws.

    "Ow, ow, ow! Whababu dooyung Fufi-nee?" Kirika spluttered as best as she could with her mouth stretched out.

    "Kirika-chan, why didn't you make me breakfast like you promised?" Fujimura Raiga whined. "Has your love for your nee-chan cooled already? Did you forget about me?"

    Fujimura sensei, also known as Taiga due to her surname and her energetic behaviour. Technical guardian and self-imposed sister to one Emiya Kirika.

    "Ah," Kirika put a hand to her mouth in a sign of surprise. "That's what I forgot. Sorry Fuji-neechan."

    "You did forget!" Taiga roared. "Ki~ri~ka! How could you!"

    "Ow! Fuji-nee!" Subjected to a Taiga noogie special, Kirika sought a means of escape and found it when the bell rang. "Tai-, I mean, Fujimura sensei! It's time for homeroom!"

    Taiga stopped with her arm still around Kirika's neck. "Oh, you are right."

    Released from the headchoke, Kirika rubbed her head where Taiga's knuckles had rubbed the skin raw. "Ohhh, that hurt."

    "Meh~!" Taiga stuck her tongue out at her before she realised that the entire class could see her. "Ahem, ah, go to your seat Kirika."

    "Yes, sensei," Kirika replied as she smoothed her hair.

    After that brief altercation, homeroom went by smoothly. Taiga nearly caused another commotion at the end, but Kirika managed to calm her down with a promise of lunchboxes for the next three days (the rest of the class gave her familiar looks of sympathy and amusement as she enacted the by now familiar Taiga taming routine). The other classes went by quickly too, and before she knew it, it was already time for lunch.

    She was about to head for the roof when a boy stepped in front of her.

    "Ah... Emiya-san, may I ask where you are going?" asked the popular student council president, who seemed strangely fired up.

    "Ah, Issei-kun," Kirika smiled, as a whispering started up around the class. Issei was one of the few people she could call a friend at the school, and it was always nice to talk to him. "Sorry, but can we talk later? I told Rin that I would eat lunch with her."

    Flinch. For some reason that she couldn't fathom, Issei's smile suddenly seemed forced. "Tohsaka... I see... Uhm... Ah..."

    A long pause. It was strange, Kirika thought. Although Issei was so confident and smooth when speaking in front of the entire school, he often froze up like this when the two of them were talking.

    "Well, see you later then Issei-kun," said Kirika when Issei didn't seem like he was going to say anything. She picked up the lunchbox that Archer-san had made and slipped past Issei towards the door.

    "Ah... Ah..." Issei was left standing by himself as Kirika left the classroom.

    "Crash and burn yet again," commented one of the guys in the class.

    "When do you think Emiya will notice?" one of the girls wondered out loud.

    "Never? I mean, she's a total rockhead when it comes to things like this," the girl next to her answered.

    "Cheer up president," one of the boys said as he came by and clapped him on the back. "You will get her someday!"

    "Ah... Argh! Curse you Tohsaka!" Issei shouted as he broke out of his daze. "I will free Emiya from your devilish clutches someday! I swear it!"

    -x-x-x-

    Up on the roof Rin suddenly had the urge to hit someone as she waited for Kirika to arrive.

    "Is something wrong Rin?" asked Archer when she frowned.

    Rin shook her head. "No, I just thought I heard something, that's all."

    The door to the rooftop opened, and Kirika came out. A sudden gust of wind caught her free flowing hair and lashed her face, and Rin had the thought that it might be fun to play with Kirika's hair again with comfort as an excuse. A side ponytail maybe? Or maybe braids. Something to bring out the feminine side of that dolt who refused to take care of her appearance properly.

    "Hey Rin, did you find any more of the sigils?" asked Kirika as she sat down next to her.

    Rin shifted over to make some more room. "Yes, there's one right over there," Rin told Kirika as she pointed to a spot on the roof in front of them"

    "Ooooo, how many of them are there?" Kirika said tiredly. "I found another one near my classroom, and I think there's one in the Archery dojo."

    "Just ignore them for today," Rin told her. "I will do something about them tomorrow after we summon your servant."

    Kirika froze and looked at her. "Huh? My servant?"

    Rin blinked. "Well, of course. You didn't really think I was going to let you sit around while I fought did you?"

    "Eh~?!" Kirika was too surprised to eat as she stared at Rin. She hadn't said anything about this when they began preparations for the Grail War! This was too sudden!

    "Besides," Rin said casually as she picked up an egg roll with her chopsticks. "I registered you as a participant with Kirei a month ago. You even have your command spells already."

    ... Huh? Kirika was lost for words as Rin turned around and complimented Archer on his cooking. A... Month ago? Registered? And... What command spells?

    "Wait, wait, wait!" She called out, flustered beyond belief. "What command spells? I haven't seen anything on my hand!"

    Rin's lips stretched upwards in a villainous grin. "Your hand? Why would it be on your hand?"

    "... Huh?"

    "I thought that you might have a nervous breakdown if you had to sit around for a whole month thinking about the war, so I decided to spare you the worry." Rin's smile was as bright as the sun now as she visibly enjoyed Kirika's growing discomfort. "Do you remember that tattoo I drew on you? The one on your chest?"

    "Yes..." Kirika said hesitantly as she remembered the day when Rin had suddenly decided to practice body art using her as a base. Why did she think she knew what Rin was going to say next?

    Rin took up Tohsaka lecture pose number one, with her left arm across her chest supporting her right which she used as a pointer. "That tattoo is actually a sigil that draws curses and other forms of physical enchantment towards it. I wasn't sure that it would work but since your command seal isn't on your hand I suppose it did."

    Wide-eyed, Kirika quickly peeked inside her shirt to where the tattoo was, just above her left breast. Now that she thought about it, the tattoo did look different from how it had at first after Rin finished with her. Where once only a ring of vines and a lattice of gold threads had been, a gothic emblem now dominated the centre. Did that mean... ?

    "So that's what your's looks like," Rin said as she suddenly took hold of Kirika's collar and pulled it down.

    "Rin!" Kirika shouted as she tried to resist. The button was going to... Hey wait! Don't open the button damn it!

    "Relax, relax, there's no one here to see us," Rin assuaged her.

    "Archer's right behind you isn't he?!" Kirika shouted as Rin tugged the top of her shirt down.

    "He's not looking, or rather, he better not be," said Rin with a pleased smile on her face as she poked at the tattoo. "You are not looking, are you Archer?"

    Archer didn't reply. He was too busy staring at the distant hills. Oh, hello. Was that a deer he could see over there? He hadn't thought there were any up here. Maybe he could get some time off one day to go hunting. Ladidadida, he couldn't hear a thing.

    "Kyah! Rin!!!"

    "Hee hee, are you ticklish there? Don't worry, it won't take long."

    "Huah, ah!"

    Not a thing.

    -x-x-x-

    "Oooooh... That was embarassing," Kirika muttered with her face against her desk.

    After she had come down from the roof she had been subjected to a battery of questions as to why she was so red-faced, and why her shirt was so rumpled. She had stoically ignored the questions and the whispered discussions about whether the rumours about her and Rin's relationship were true, but it had been a close thing. It hadn't helped when a few of the boys had gathered at the back of the class around Mitoshi and begun to roar with approval as the wannabe mangaka drew something. What that had been, she didn't want to know. For Issei to go as red as a traffic light and tear the paper up, it had to have been something that would give her nightmares for the rest of her life.

    "Bye Kirika-chan!"

    "Bye Emiya."

    Kirika looked up and waved as the last of her classmates left. Classes were over for the day and it was time to pack up and clean the classroom. It was her turn today so she really should get up and... Eh? Wait. Where were the other two that were supposed to be here? Ichino and... Momoi wasn't it?

    Frowning, Kirika replayed her memories of the day.

    "Ichino is sick," she mumbled as she thought back to the roll "And... Oh yeah, Momoi begged off because she needs to go and pick up her sister from kindergarten today. Which means..."

    Kirika slumped and buried her face in her arms again. She was the only one here!

    "Ah, Rin's going to be annoyed with me again," she groaned as she stood up to start cleaning.

    True to her habit, Kirika wasn't one to do things haphazardly just because she didn't have help. Wiping the windows, brushing the floor, and so on. Kirika took care of it all with the skill born from ten years experience doing work around by house by herself.

    Even so, there was a limit to what one human could accomplish, and it was long past the normal time to be off when Kirika was done.

    "Hmmm, at least it's only four thirty," Kirika mumbled to herself as she finally headed out.

    She was walking down the corridor when she spotted a girl from one of the other classes who looked troubled. Looking back and forth from the Archery dojo and the school gate, she seemed caught between two choices that she couldn't decide between.

    "Uhm, can I help you?" Kirika asked as she drew closer. If Rin had seen this she would have said that Kirika's disease was acting up again.

    "Huh? Oh, Emiya-san!" the girl's face lit up as she recognised her. How did she know who she was? Kirika thought about it and realised that the girl was one of the Archery club members.

    "Is there something I can help you with?" Kirika repeated when the girl didn't say anything more.

    "Uhm... Yes," the girl seemed embarassed. "Shinji-kun asked me to go and get something from the shops for him, but I need to go home soon. I hate to ask this of you, but could you get it for me instead?"

    With a tentative smile on her face, the girl gave her a piece of paper. Kirika took it and realised that it was a short shopping list. Pastries, chocolates, nothing odd... Eh? Condoms?! That idiot Matou! What was he thinking getting a girl to buy this sort of thing?!

    Blushing a bit, Kirika pocketed the list. "Tell that idiot that I've gone to get these. Not the condoms though. If that guy wants something like that he should get them himself."

    The girl smiled sheepishly. "Ha ha, thanks Emiya-san, you really saved me."

    "No problem," Kirika walked past her. "See you later."

    "Bye, Emiya-san, thanks again!" the girl called out before she headed back into the dojo.

    Kirika watched her go then resumed walking. The closest shops were in the market district so it wouldn't take her too long to buy the things then get back. Maybe she would take a short cut through the trees on the way back to save some time as well.

    -x-x-x-

    It turned out that the pastry shop was closed today, and Kirika ended up having to go halfway down to Shinto to the only other shop she knew. By the time she got back up to the school the sun was pretty low on the horizon, and the amber light that preceded sunset had dyed all the buildings orange.

    Wanting to get the errand done and over with as quickly as possible, Kirika opted to take the short-cut through the trees on the side of the school. Climbing the fence was a bit of a challenge with the plastic bag in her hand and her backpack on her back, but she managed it with a bit of effort. From there it was just a short stroll through the treeline to get to the Archery dojo where the club members were probably packing up and preparing to leave for the day.

    Kirika had only taken a few steps when she felt it, a cold stare that sent chills down her back.

    She froze and looked around. Who was it, and why did she sense danger?

    She had taken a few cautious steps forward when the source of the threat revealed itself. A woman, dressed in a revealing black one piece that did little to hide her sensuous body. Oddly enough, her eyes were covered by some sort of blind-fold, but Kirika knew that it was no obstruction to her sight.

    Because she wasn't human.

    Kirika gulped. If her suspicions were correct, this woman was another servant like Archer. The atmosphere she gave off wasn't as imposing as Rin's servant had been when he got serious, but it didn't change the fact that she was someone with abilities far beyond those of your normal human. Fight? Impossible, her instincts warned her that she would be killed in a matter of seconds. Flight? Could she get away from someone like this? Wait, was she even the target? There was nothing to reveal the fact that she was a mage, so maybe it was just bad luck that she had seen her.

    That little hope died when the servant took of her blindfold.

    Kirika suddenly found it hard to breathe as a pair of gem-like eyes bore into her. The lilac orbs seemed to expand until they began to fill her entire world, and it was hard to think of anything as the servant came closer and closer.

    To all appearances, Kirika was perfectly enthralled. Which was why Rider was surprised to say the least when Kirika suddenly drew a dagger out of her bag and stabbed herself in the thigh with it.

    "Ah!" Kirika gasped as she could suddenly breathe again. Then, she began to run as old lessons took over, throwing the bag with the groceries in it at the servant in an effort to buy time.

    Shocked by Kirika breaking her binding, the servant was caught flat-footed as Kirika ran off. By the time she regained her wits the young mage was already ten metres away, and the servant quickly moved to follow.

    Kirika's heart was pumping as she ran towards the front of the school, where she hoped the stragglers from the clubs would still be. She was nearing the edge of the trees when instinct warned her to dodge to the side, and did so just in time to see a huge metal stake on a chain hit the ground where she would have been.

    "Ow!" she yelped as her thigh twinged upon landing, the impact sending a jolt through her wounded leg. "Ah, damn it Rin! Don't make me stab myself so deeply! It's hard to run!"

    The reason that Kirika could break free from Rider's binding attempt lay in a geas that Rin had put upon her. Ever since they had discovered that she was pathetically easy to bind or charm, Rin had sought a way to improve her mental defences, or at least find some way for her to break free. When upon experimentation they had found that the reason for her weakness lay in the way her circuits handled prana, Rin gave up and put the geas on her. A compulsion that put an order in her mind to stab herself if she ever thought she was being hypnotised. The pain acting as a stimulant to wake her up for the instant that was needed to run away.

    This did however leave a problem, as the act of stabbing meant that her speed was hampered. Even with the crude reinforcement that she could cast on herself after years under Rin, Kirika was nowhere fast enough to avoid inhuman opponents, as the enemy servant now proved. Before Kirika had even steadied herself, she had darted out in front of her, and now blocked the shortest path towards the front of the school.

    Knowing that she would get enthralled again if she just stood there, Kirika moved. Projecting the twin dao that she was most familiar with, she went lunging towards the servant. It was a crazy move, but she hoped that the surprise of her sorcery together with the sheer insanity of a normal human attacking a servant would halt the servant long enough for her to escape. Which it did, sort of.

    Kirika's swipe at the servant was easily dodged, and was quickly paid back as the servant kicked her in a move that would have winded her had it connected truly. Luckily however, Kirika's gamble had worked, and the kick caught her upon the arm that she had shielded herself with. Painful, but survivable. There was also the bonus of having been kicked towards the school building, and Kirika shifted her centre of gravity to hit the ground running.

    She was close now, but still so far off from her goal. Fortunately for her, it seemed as if the heavens had decided to smile on her that day, as a noisy group suddenly appeared from around the corner.

    "Eh? Emiyan? Why are you hurt?" asked the noisy track star of the athletics club who was the first to spot her. Normally the vibrant girl would have challenged her presence, but it appeared that even she wasn't flippant enough to joke when she saw a hurt girl in front of her.

    "Emiya?" Himuro raised an eyebrow as she came up beside Makidera. "What happened to you?"

    "Himuro. Makidera," Kirika gasped weakly as she looked behind her. No sign of the servant. Thank her lucky stars. It seemed that she had decided that there were too many people here for her to show herself like that.

    Other members of the athletics club who had been carrying equipment back to the storage shed expressed their concerns about Kirika's wound, and she had a hard time explaining away the stab mark as a by-product of a fall. Makidera and the others eventually left off when she said it wasn't anything serious, but Kirika suspected that Himuro wasn't convinced. The composed high jump champion of the school kept a careful watch on her as she walked with them, and Kirika inwardly sweated until Himuro finally looked away.

    "You sure you are going to be okay walking home like that Emiyan?" Makidera asked when they came out to the front of the school.

    "Yeah, don't worry about it Makidera," Kirika said with a slight smile. "The bandage that Saegusa put on stopped the bleeding, and I'm going to take the bus anyway."

    "Hmmm, mmm," Makidera crossed her arms and nodded. "Okay then, I trust that one of my rivals is sensible enough to take care of herself. You should thank Yukichi for her help though."

    "I already did," Kirika replied as she suppressed an urge to ask 'what rival?' to Makidera.

    Saying goodbye to Makidera and the others, Kirika was making her way towards the gate when Himuro came up to stop her.

    "Emiya, be honest with me," she said serious while she stared her in the eyes. "Something happened back there, didn't it? And don't give me that nonsense about falling from the fence."

    "Nothing happened, nothing happened!" Kirika protested as she inwardly marvelled at Himuro's perceptiveness. "I told you already didn't I? I fell and gouged my leg on a branch."

    Her answer put a crease in Himuro's brow, and a long moment passed as Himuro tried to pressure her into honesty with her eyes. Eventually however she sighed and let her go.

    "Fine, I will accept your story for now Emiya," she said in a tone that said that she didn't. "Dont' hesitate to talk to me if you need help though."

    Kirika smiled. Himuro was a good girl. "Thanks Himuro, but really, nothing happened.

    Himuro frowned once more but left her alone. When she had gone Kirika sighed and wiped the sweat from her brow. That had been close. A normal person like Himuro getting involved with this side could only end in disaster, and she was relieved that the inquisitive girl had backed off, even if it seemed that she had come to an erroneous conclusion.

    Feeling around with all her senses to make sure that she wasn't being followed by the servant., Kirika made sure to stay in areas where there were lots of people as she made her way towards the bus stop. It was rush hour as everyone went home, so this wasn't too hard to do. Still, she was nervous. It was the first time that she had ever been attacked like that, and her nerves were frayed from the release of tension. Her hands were trembling, and her legs weren't much better. How was she going to get through the next few weeks if she was like this now?

    Her nerves didn't steady until she got on the bus, the first one that arrived. When she checked Kirika found that her house was on the way, and decided to go there for now rather than wait around here. It wasn't as if the servant had nothing better to do than chase her around, right?

    -x-x-x-

    Back at the school, servant Rider arrived back at her master's side as she came back from following Kirika.

    "Well, did you get her?" asked a figure who featured near the top of Rin's 'most annoying people' list.

    "I apologise master, but there were too many people around for me to capture her," Rider replied.

    "You useless bitch!" Shinji snarled. "What kind of servant are you?! All I told you to do was to capture one weak little girl for crying out loud. Can't you even do that? Huh?"

    A flurry of kicks accompanied Shinji's cruel words, but Rider took it all without complaint. Distasteful as he might be, he was still her master for now, and she had to obey him.

    "About that master," Rider said as she cringed away from him. "The girl you sent me after turned out to be a mage. She was able to break free from the binding I was putting on her by stabbing herself, and she projected a pair of swords to attack me as she ran away."

    "Eh? Emiya's a mage?" Shinji stopped to think about it. "Tch, figures. Looks like the rumours were true after all. Tohsaka must really be infatuated with her little pet if she decided to reveal her secrets and teach her."

    Rider didn't comment. She didn't know much about the relationships between the people involved, and didn't want to get involved with this disgusting male in front of her any more than she had to.

    "Heh, actually, this might be a good chance to get one back at that fiesty bitch," Shinji said with a nasty smile on his lips. "Tohsaka's got to be participating in the Grail War as well, and who better to get information from than her little pet? Not to mention the look that will be on Tohsaka's face if I show her pictures of raping that whore. Kikiki, I wonder if she's still a virgin."

    There was a term for people like this, thought Rider as she was involuntarily subjected to her master's fantasies. What was it?

    Ah, she remembered. Human trash.

    -x-x-x-

    The sun had set a while ago, and it dark out as Kirika wondered whether to go to Rin's house or not. If Rin had a cell-phone she wouldn't have to worry since she could just ring and ask her to come by, but there was no chance that the technologically challenged head of the Tohsaka family would buy one, let alone know how to use it.

    She still had nightmares about the day that Rin had decided to catch up with the twentieth century and buy a radio. How did you get a Sony radio to explode like that? Wasn't that nearly impossible?

    Right now her options were to: A - Stay here for the night and wait for Rin to come and get her.
    B - Buck up and head for Rin's house. The wards around the mansion meant that she would be safer there.
    C - Go out to town and try and find Rin.

    Kirika thought about it for a while and decided to stay here. She reasoned that the servant didn't know where she lived, and thus she was as safe here as she would be anywhere else. It was probably more dangerous to go out and wander the streets where she might run into that or another servant by sheer bad luck.

    Having decided that, Kirika was about to make herself a cup of tea when the lights suddenly went out.

    A sound like breaking glass falling on the ground announced the violation of the ward around the house. Kirika was instantly on her guard and summoned her swords to her hands as she looked around in the darkness for the threat.

    She didn't need to wait long.

    The servant from earlier came through the door to the patio, walking in a slinking motion that brought to mind a snake slithering across the ground. Stake and chain held ready in her hands, there was no doubt that she was here to get her.

    "There you are," the servant said with a slight smile on her face when she spotted her.

    "Who are you?" Kirika asked as she backed away. "Why are you after me?"

    "Servant Rider," the tall and graceful servant told her. "I don't have anything against you, but my master demands that I take you to him."

    Kirika flinched. Rider's master wanted her? Did they know that she was a master candidate as well? Or was it simply because of her ties to Rin? Either way, she couldn't just go with Rider.

    "Showing your claws?" Rider asked as Kirika tightened her grasp on her swords. "Struggle all you want little fox, but it wont change anything."

    "Doesn't hurt to try now, does it!" Kirika shouted as she leapt at Rider.

    Her move just now was one that she would never have done had she been thinking straight, a mistake in judgement caused by her inexperience. The Yin style of the Qing'un sword form that she had learned was a style that focussed primarily on defence first, with attacks a natural progression from there. It wasn't a style of swordsmanship that lent itself easily to an aggressive assault, and it showed as Rider easily slid aside Kirika's attack.

    Without another word, Rider kicked her like she had at school, and again Kirika was sent flying through the paper door into the yard. This time however she was unprepared and Rider's foot struck her heavily in the stomach, with a force that left Kirika feeling like she had a broken rib or two.

    "Ugggh," Kirika gritted her teeth as she stood up. Stupid, stupid. Why had she done that? Even if she started focussing on defence now she was going to have trouble with this kind of wound hindering her movements.

    While Kirika tried to regain her breath, Rider casually slipped through the hole in the door and came up to her. The servant was perfectly at ease as she approached without a care in the world, as if she wanted to tell her that she wasn't any kind of threat at all.

    Annoyed by this dismissal, but cautious now after the failure of her rash assault, Kirika took up a stance with her swords and wait for Rider to either get in range or attack. Rider must have noticed the change in the atmosphere, because she hesitated for a moment as she entered the outermost boundary of the area that Kirika's swords could cover. Soon enough however, the hesitation passed, and Rider suddenly slithered into movement again as she struck out towards Kirika's neck.

    Though she was prepared, Kirika could barely sense the attack, and nearly failed to interpose the sword in her right hand in the vector of Rider's strike. She couldn't even think about sliding the attack away, or any of the other methods that she could have used to reduce the shock. It was that fast.

    "You blocked it?" murmured Rider as she took a step back. She seemed honestly surprised.

    "I haven't held these swords for two years for nothing Rider-san," Kirika said with a smile that disguised the tension she felt inside. For crying out loud, how could anyone get so much power out of such thin arms? That one hit had numbed her entire right arm, and she wasn't sure she could block another.

    Rider looked at her curiously (although how she could tell what Rider was thinking with that mask on she didn't know), then crouched down like an animal about to spring. No, like a cobra about to lash out.

    A blink of an eye, that was it. In the space of time it took Kirika to blink away a speck of dust that had gotten into her eye, Rider had disappeared from her sight. She was wondering where the servant had gone when reflex pulled her swords up in a guard, and a sudden impact sent her flying through the open door of the shed nearby.

    Kirika cried out in pain as her body crashed into the ground, scattering the piles of junk that Taiga had built up inside the shed. Her hands were empty now, one of the dao having broken as it absorbed Rider's attack, and the other dispelled by Kirika in an instinctive move to avoid injury. Even if she had them in her hands however she couldn't have done anything just then. Stunned with pain, Kirika couldn't move a muscle as Rider came in to get her prize.

    "Is that it?" The servant asked as she knelt down on top of her.

    The addition of Rider's weight made Kirika groan in pain, but any struggle was impossible as Rider captured her arms with her hands, pinning her down on the floor.

    "My master told me to bring you to him and I must follow his orders, even if I don't like him," Rider whispered with her face just above Kirika's. "I don't think he will mind if I take a little snack (?) first though."

    Still dazed, Kirika had a moment to wonder what Rider meant before she was subjected to the bespelling from Rider's eyes again. Unable to resist, her body went limp, and this time Rider made sure that she was unable to move her limbs so that she couldn't break free like last time. Strangely enough though, she could feel things stronger than ever, and Kirika's body shivered involuntarily as Rider's breath caressed the skin of her neck.

    "Thank you for the meal," Rider murmured in her ear, sending tingles down her back.

    A prickling sensation on her neck, and then... Pleasure, a hot jolt of sensations that melted her resistance as she felt Rider suck at her neck. She had to resist, she knew it, but it was so hard to concentrate. So... Very... Hard...

    The world began to slip away, her energy fading as Rider fed from her. Just before she thought she would fall unconscious however, a flash of light lit up the shed, and Kirika blinked as a refreshing coolness cleared the fog from her mind.

    "Hyah!"

    "Tch!"

    Clang! Metal clashed against metal as Rider suddenly jumped back in the face of an attack. A shape rushed past in pursuit, and pretty soon a constant ringing could be heard. Kirika wondered who it was, but she didn't have the energy to pull herself up yet. From her vantage point, all she could see were flashes of blue and silver as somebody or somebodies fought with Rider in the yard.

    "Master? Are you alright?" she suddenly heard someone ask from behind her.

    When Kirika turned to see who it was, she was faced by a fantastic vision clad in white and silver. Holding a golden sword that was strangely familiar, the young woman who stood there illuminated by the light of the moon was so beautiful that Kirika's mind turned blank.

    "Master?" the white knight repeated.

    Before she could reply, the person who had rushed after Rider came back into the shed.

    "In reponse to your summons, I have come," said the knight clad in blue and silver as she entered. "I ask of you now, are you my master?"

    "..." Kirika was pretty sure there was something out of place here.

    "Another me?" blurted out the white and silver knight.

    Her attention drawn by the noise, the blue and silver knight turned towards its source, but her invisible sword faltered when she found it.

    "Wh-what?" The golden haired knight stammered. "Who are you? And why do you look like me?"

    "That's my line!" protested the green eyed knight with golden sword at the ready. "Who are you?!"

    It shouldn't have been possible, but the blue knight's green eyes grew even wider as she spotted the sword in the white knight's hands.

    "Caliburn?!" she squealed. "That's impossible!"

    "What are you talking about?" The white knight replied as she looked her mirror copy up and down. "And... Hold on, why do you have Excalibur?!"

    Caliburn? Excalibur? Even as confused as she was Kirika could identify those names. If she wasn't mistaken, those were the swords of...

    ""Master?! What's going on here?! And who is she?!"" The two servants shouted in unison, pointing at each other.

    Kirika could only stare dumbly at the both of them. Surely, surely, King Arthur couldn't have been a girl.

    ... Right?

  4. #4
    Mania Casteranza Alyeris's Avatar
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    1-3

    Two hours later, Emiya residence.

    Tohsaka Rin was in despair.

    "Let me get this straight," she muttered darkly with her face in her hands. "I go to all that trouble and end up with Archer, and you get Saber from what basically amounts to an accidental summoning. Not only that, but you summoned two Sabers from the deal, which should be impossible, but is just so you."

    "Haha," Kirika scratched her head. "Did I mention that Saber's true identity is King Arthur?"

    OTL
    The finishing blow. Rin collapsed into a depressed heap of flesh and bones, and wouldn't respond no matter how Kirika tried to wake her.

    "... Should I be insulted?" Archer wondered out loud. "Was it really that much of a disappointment to summon me instead of Saber?"

    "Well you did go down in one hit from my 'sister' over here," the Saber who had decided to go by the name 'Lily' for now teased him.

    Archer gave her a dark look. "Yes, thank you very much for reminding me."

    "Now that you mention it, how badly are you hurt Archer?" asked 'Saber' who seemed uncomfortable with Lily for some reason.

    "It's not too bad," Archer shrugged. "I should be fine after a day of rest."

    Saber nodded. "That is good. It would be inconvenient for an ally to be disabled."

    "Are you worried about him? How sweet?" Lily said with a saccharine smile on her face.

    Saber frowned at her twin. "He is our comrade in arms, at least for now. Of course I would be concerned about his health."

    "Gods you are stuffy," Lily muttered. "We aren't in court right now. Loosen up a bit."

    "This entire city is a battlefield," Saber rebutted. "Lowering our guard would be an act of foolishness."

    "Worrywort," Lily mumbled as she looked away.

    "..." Saber said nothing and glared at Lily as if to try and erase her existence with the force from her eyes.

    "Now, now, ladies," Archer strode in between them. "Let's try and get along with each other shall we? Otherwise it's going to be a long Grail War for all of us."

    "Oh, I don't have any problems with her," Lily said cheerfully. "I just want her to relax a little, that's all. As she is right now, she reminds me too much of myself when I was a stubborn ass."

    Saber narrowed her eyes at the comment, but declined to respond.

    Lily sighed. "See? So cold. It's as if she hasn't yet realised that people are supposed to have feelings."

    Saber clenched her fist tightly as Lily's words struck her deeply. It was only a slight movement, but it didn't escape the notice of the other two servants.

    "Hoh~? Don't tell me..." Lily looked inquisitively at the golden haired knight who was herself, albeit with a few differences.

    Visibly disturbed, Saber refused to meet Lily's eyes. Despite such attempts to avoid Lily's gaze, the white knight appeared to realise something, and was about to speak when Rin revived.

    "... Mumble... Unfair... Mumble... Okay," Rin took a deep breath. "Since things turned out this way, we may as well milk our advantage for all it's worth." She sat up and turned to face Kirika with a gorgeous smiled planted on her face. "Ki~ri~ka?"

    "Ye-yes?" Kirika answered nervously. Nothing good ever came of other people calling her name so cheerfully.

    "You are my apprentice right?" Rin asked as if to confirm the fact.

    "Uh... Yes," Kirika hesitantly agreed. Where was she going with this?

    "You and I share a lot of our tools when we work, don't we?" Rin continued.

    Kirika nodded. That was true, but... Why was Rin mentioning this now?

    "Not to mention, you use my shampoo and makeup as well," said Rin.

    Kirika felt she had to point something out here. "But that's because you said it' s waste of money for me to buy my own when I hardly ever use-."

    "So, what's mine is yours, and what's yours is mine," Rin concluded hurriedly as she ignored Kirika. "Thus, I will be borrowing Saber. Thanks Kirika!"

    ... How did you come to that conclusion again?

    "Uhm... Rin? Saber has feelings too doesn't she?" said Kirika while the servants stared incredulously at the Tohsaka mage. "You can't just announce that you are going to 'borrow' her like that. You need to ask her how she feels about it."

    "It's out of the question master," Saber jumped into the conversation. "I am your servant, and I can't leave you alone by yourself."

    "She won't be alone," replied Lily. "I will be with her. Which doesn't mean that I approve of you taking Saber, Tohsaka. At least explain your reasoning first."

    Lily smiled at Rin, and Rin smiled back. For an instant Kirika imagined that she could see a lioness and a demon facing off against each other.

    "It's simple really," Rin said smoothly. "Kirika and I will be fighting together, which means that we should maximise the utility of the forces that we have available. My servant is Archer, which means that he would be far more effective with someone to guard him in combat. Kirika has two Sabers available, so it's only natural that one of you should act as a guard for Archer."

    "... Uhm, actually Rin, I use-."

    "You have a good point there, Tohsaka," Lily admitted easily as she cut off Archer. "Take her."

    "Thank you," Rin replied.

    "You know, I don't really-." Archer tried to say something again but this time he was cut off by Saber.

    "And what makes you think I will listen to your opinion, Lily?" Saber asked with arms crossed defiantly. "In the first place, couldn't you fill that role just as well as I would? It would make more sense for a flippant warrior like you to guard Archer and leave me as a guard for our master."

    "No, no. That's not it." Lily wagged her finger. "It's to do with the roles we are best suited for you see. I was curious about your ability so I asked our master to compare us. It turns out that you are stronger and tougher than me, but slower on your feet." Lily smiled triumphantly as Saber. "You wouldn't ask someone weaker than you are to take hits from the enemy, would you?"

    "... Hello? Is anybody listening to me?"

    "Ugh," Saber frowned as Lily appealed to her pride as a knight. "... I find myself doubting that we are the same person. Don't you have any pride as a knight?"

    This time it was Lily's turn to frown. "Of course I have my pride! But is it pride or stupidity to not rely on your comrades if they are more suited for a role? Don't tell me you think it's right to take on everything upon yourself."

    A tense silence ran between the two proud knights as Lily's words hit a nerve in Saber. In stark contrast to this scene however, Archer had drifted off to the kitchen where he had his face against a cupboard as he sulked.

    "... I'm just an unwanted nobody, aren't I... ?" Archer was mumbling this and other similar sentiments.

    Kirika was looking back and forth between her servants as she tried to think of something to say that would defuse the situation. She didn't like the way they two were arguing, preferring harmony over conflict as a philosophy, but she couldn't determine why it was the two were so abrasive with each other. Ughhh, maybe she should listen to Rin and stick Saber with Archer just to avoid this kind of faceoff.

    "Excuse me, I have a question," Rin suddenly spoke up, her voice cutting through the tension.

    ""Yes?"" the two Sabers chorused, then they frowned at each other before they looked away.

    Rin pretended to cough in order to cover the grin that had appeared at the sight. These two were so different yet so similar all at once.

    "Hmm, anyway." Rin cleared her throat. "Ahem. I was just wondering. Why do the both of you seem... So weak? I would have thought that a hero like King Arthur would be stronger. Your prana levels in particular... Even Archer has more than you right now and he doesn't even have a proper name."

    "... Yes, I'm just a nobody. A nobody without a name..."

    Saber and Lily winced and looked at each other. When they realised what they were doing however they sniffed and looked away. It was such a cute sight, like twin sisters bickering, that Kirika couldn't help giggling.

    "About that," Lily spoke as she pointedly ignored her master's mirth. "I suspect that something went wrong during the summoning. Right now I'm not getting any support from my master, and at this rate I will eventually be unable to even stay in this world."

    "What?" Rin's eyes went wide. "What about you Saber?"

    Saber nodded. "It is the same with me. I can barely feel my connection with master, and for some reason I feel my prana slowly flowing out from me towards her instead of being replenished as it should." She turned to look at Kirika. "Master, can you not do something about this? Or is this just a temporary lack of prana on your part?"

    Rin looked at Kirika, who shrugged helplessly. "I don't know what's wrong," Kirika told her teacher. "I tried to send them my prana, but it's as if there's something in the way."

    "Hmm," Rin began to think. "I can't imagine Kirika, who has so much prana that it almost rots inside her, would ever be short of power, so it must be a problem with the connection between you three. It might also be a side effect of the abnormal summoning process that was involved too..."

    A long pause. Kirika was about to tell Rin that she would try and solve it somehow when Rin's eyes suddenly went blank.

    "Kirika..." Rin said weakly.

    "Yes?" Kirika replied.

    "You didn't use a contract as a part of the summons did you?" Rin asked almost rhetorically.

    Kirika smiled awkwardly. "Contract? Uh... Saber and Lily just appeared out of nowhere."

    Thud. The pointlessness that Rin felt towards her own sorcery drained all the energy out of her.

    "Haha, after all these years I don't know why I should be surprised," Rin muttered darkly. "Oh sure, your projection is quite possibly the closest thing the world has seen to the 'Denial of Nothingness' since that disappeared. Why should I be jealous that you are closer to the first than I am to the second. After all, I am only the sixth generation descendent of one's the Wizard Marshal's disciples. Haha. Your broken analysis ability is ridiculous as well. No one should be able to just look at an artefact and tell what it does and how it can be broken or repaired. Hahaha. So why should I be surprised by the fact that you managed to summon a servant with no preparation what so ever, without even a contract spell to guide you? Hahahahahaha."

    "..." Kirika sweated as killing intent rose off Rin in tendrils of dark emotions.

    "... Whew." Thankfully, Rin appeared to calm down. "Kirika."

    "Yes?" she was replying like this a lot lately.

    "Just make a pass with them like we did last night," Rin muttered with her face down against the table once more.

    A Pass?

    ... A pass? Last night?

    "EH~?!"

    "What? It's the easiest way to create the link between you and them. It will only take a moment too. Is something wrong?" Rin asked as if she didn't know the reason behind Kirika's sudden outcry.

    From the glint of amusement in her eyes, Kirika could tell that she did, but was enjoying her reaction too much to let it show. Blushing fiercely, Kirika attempted to argue her way out of the multi-car crash her future seemed to be headed towards.

    "But, but, that was, I mean... I can't... I, them, bwah?" Kirika broke down as her brain overheated.

    Lily looked at Kirika curiously. "Is there something the matter master? If the ritual is so simple I don't see why we don't go ahead with it."

    "I agree," Saber added. "There's no point to going any longer than we need to without recharging our prana."

    "..." Kirika was so red now that she was steaming.

    "Kirika... Saber... And Saber? Ugh!" Archer suddenly developed a nose bleed, but no one was paying attention to him.

    Rin giggled and beckoned to Saber and Lily with her hand. "Come over here for a second. I will tell you why she's like that."

    Saber and Lily blinked and went over to kneel by Rin's side. Victims obtained, the red demon then proceeded to explain, in loving detail, the ritual that Kirika needed to perform in order to create the pass between them.

    "... ? ... ! *D*$H&GSDF?!?!!" Saber jumped back from Rin and stared at her with her jaw wide open.

    On the other hand, Lily looked thoughtful.

    "A kiss with master? Hmmm..." She gave Kirika a look over and then licked her lips. "That sounds like it will be tasty (?). Let's do it master!"

    "!" If Kirika could get any redder, she would have entered the infra-red range.

    "You! Me! I mean, Lily! What are you saying?!" Saber shouted out, mortified at the thought of someone who looked like her doing... That... With someone.

    Lily gave her a disdainful look. "What? It's not as if I haven't done the same before with Guin. Heh heh. Don't worry master. I will make sure that you see heaven (?!)."

    Silence. Archer and Rin were staring with their jaws open while Saber had shut down from embarassment. As for Kirika...

    "Eh? Master? Ah! She's as hot as an oven! Someone get some water!"

    She had fainted.

    -x-x-x-

    "... Please tell me that was a dream," Kirika asked of Rin when she woke up to find her at her side.

    "Sorry, I can't do that Kirika," Rin apologised insincerely.

    "... Then let me get back to sleep," Kirika said despondently as she turned over to face the wall.

    Only to see Lily there, her face just inches away from hers.

    "Stay still master~!"

    "Mmph?!"

    Ambushed by Lily, Kirika froze as a velvetine pair of lips locked themselves upon hers. Surprised, her mouth slipped open just a little, and Lily took the chance to slip her tongue into her mouth. Lily's tongue curled around her own, and Kirika found herself involuntarily groaning as Lily displayed an unbelievable dexterity with her intraoral digit. As the kiss continued Kirika gave up her resistance, and fell limp against the floor as Lily bore down on her. After what seemed like an age however, Lily showed no signs of disengaging, and Kirika was about to try pushing her off when she felt Lily pushing something down her air-starved throat.

    "Hwah!" Kirika gasped as Lily finally backed off.

    "Thank you for the meal!" Lily told her cheerfully, giving her a peck on the cheek which Kirika was too dizzy too react to. "What was I supposed to do now Tohsaka?"

    "... Huh?" Rin answered dumbly. Her face was as red as her shirt. "Uh... Ah! The ritual?"

    Lily gave her a look. "Yes, the ritual."

    Rin cleared her throat, embarassed by the act that had occurred before her eyes but also how much she had been distracted by it. "Kirika, you just focus on establishing the link when it comes through. Lily? Repeat after me. 'My blood given freely'."

    "My blood given freely."

    "Put your hand on her chest please," Rin told her. "And - "Hughu?!" - don't massage it!"

    "Sorry, force of habit," Lily said as she stilled her hand.

    Rin groaned as she staved off a headache. "Hah... 'My oath sworn before thee'."

    "My oath sworn before thee."

    "I give of myself, and ask for thee in return."

    "I give of myself, and ask for thee in return."

    "Should you accept."

    "Should you accept."

    "Answer me now." Rin finished.

    "Answer me now." Lily repeated.

    At the instant that Lily spoke the last word, Kirika jumped as a sudden heat spread out from her chest where Lily's hand lay. The warmth ran through her entire body, and on the third pass through she felt something click inside her, followed by a feeling of release as prana began to flood out through the newly established pass into Lily.

    Lily had her eyes closed as Kirika's prana rushed into her, the energy filling her from the toes up as tendrils of lightning began to jump around over her body. The wind that blew out from her and the dazzling light display were both a side effect of the transfer as prana leaked from the crude but strong pass.

    "..." As the wind died down, Lily opened her eyes. "That felt very nice," she whispered as she flexed her hands.

    "Haha... Did it?" Kirika gasped as she breathed heavily.

    "I'm glad it worked out for you two," said Rin as she noted the rise in Lily's stats.

    Exhausted, Kirika could only smile weakly as she tried to sort out her emotions.

    "Thank you master," said Lily, before she dropped Kirika into a pit of despair. "Please take good care of my 'sister' now~!"

    "... What?"

    "Go and fetch Saber, Lily," said Rin. "We may as well get this over with today."

    "Wait, what's this about Saber?" Kirika asked feebly.

    "Don't worry Tohsaka," Lily reassured her fellow conspirator. "I will drag her here if I have to."

    Rin laughed and was joined by Lily. As she watched the two, Kirika had to wonder if she should fear for her virtue tonight.

    -x-x-x-

    "... Saber."

    "What is it Archer?"

    "Run."

    "..."

  5. #5
    Mania Casteranza Alyeris's Avatar
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    Apr 2011
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    2-1

    Static, a world filled with corrupted images.

    Error. Mental landscape erosion accelerated. Error. Ego contamination. Error. EgosSssghsnNSUDSjSNgidj g- Error. Error. Error. Error. Tracing conceptu8etJHGYJE*gdgjbb gd3sdjjdfjsbsk3u#&nnj@UBwDNS $@44$jBdjfhjdkl;hlanmxcs_ al fragm-SUBKSJG DBKsjdjfhsdu3q riG&#GBDfjbjbj# JEHWESRLLBUSHUWOHJSRD S -

    Reflection paradigm located. Stabilising.

    War, in all its terrible glory. A silver spear formed of knights charged through the middle of a horde of footmen, while overhead arrows filled the skies with a whistling noise as they plunged down towards the crowds below.

    In the centre of it all, one bright figure caught her attention. A knight clad in blue and silver, leading one army from the front as she struck her way through all opposition. Saber, Arthur, Arturia Pendragon, all those names and meanings in one petite body. True to her legend she was an unstoppable figure on the battlefield as she carried her followers towards victory and glory.

    ... But that was all that she could feel from her.

    There was no emotion upon that face, only a grim determination to rid the land of its enemies. Hope existed, but was not shared. There was no doubt that she was someone who could be leant upon, but she herself would not allow herself to lean on anyone else. A person perfect unto herself, but flawed because of that perfection. That was Kirika's impression of Saber as she watched her around her men in the aftermath of the battle.

    It was... Almost sad.

    Paradigm shift. Reflection angle modified.

    The world broke down again, the battlefield replaced by a view out of a medieval tale. A majestic castle, overlooking a field of white flowers that stretched all the way to the forest to the east. Upon the minarets that decked the upper heights of the tastefully designed fortress, banners that bore the red dragon proclaimed the identity of the castle's lord.

    Pendragon. The house of the King of the Britons.

    Beside that honored symbol however flew another banner. A white lily upon blue. The history behind this symbol was not a very long one, but no one could doubt that its owner hadn't brought it glory and power.

    With a loud rattling of chains and the creaking of gears, the drawbridge of the castle was lowered. When the sturdy settled onto the ground with a heavy thud, a procession exited the cleared portal with a familiar face in the lead.

    Clad in black trimmed white and silver armor, her golden hair tied back with a voluminous black ribbon, the golden sword at her waist completed the picture of a royal figure headed for war. Lily, otherwise known as Arturia Pendragon, King of Knights.

    It was strange, Kirika thought as she watched Lily ride with her men. The way that they were all clad for war left no doubt that their destination was the battlefield. So why did they all seem... So joyous? Laughing and joking amongst themselves, with Lily joining in occasionally as suited the mood. The knights that led the column seemed more like a family than a group formed for battle. A pretty big contrast to the relationship between Saber and her knights.

    Kirika smiled in her sleep as she watched the young woman whose destiny lay with the golden sword at her side. Lily had been happy, at least during this moment that she had been privileged to see. Then again, maybe it hadn't been so unexpected of the white knight whose personality and presence could best be described with one short comparison.

    She was the sun, a magnificent and warm presence that overlooked all those she ruled.

    With someone like that by her side, maybe this whole Grail War thing wouldn't be so bad after all.

    -x-x-x-

    The first thing that Kirika's sleep addled eyes saw when she opened them were two pools of forest green, so vibrant and deep that she thought that she could fall into them.

    *Chu* "Good morning Kirika," Lily said after a quick peck on Kirika nose.

    Kirika instantly took back what she had thought in her dreams. Life with Lily was going to test her sanity like nothing else ever had.

    "What are you doing here?" she asked as she quickly shuffled back. Her pyjamas... Why was her shirt half open?

    "Don't you remember Kirika?" Lily said cheerfully from her position astride her master. "Saber and I told you that we would take turns to watch over you at night didn't we?"

    Kirika thought she remembered them saying something like that, but that wasn't what was important here.

    "... I will grant you that," she hastily said in order to get to the point. "But why are you on top of me?"

    "The closer I am to you, the better I can guard you," Lily said innocently. "It's perfectly logical."

    Kirika had to put in a tackle here. "How is that logical?!"

    Her shout must have startled the others, because the door flew open as Saber rushed into the room.

    "Master! What's -,"

    Or rather she had intended to rush into the room.

    "Good morning, me." Lily greeted her alternate image matter-of-factly.

    "Uh, ah... Uhm... I'm very sorry!" Saber apologised with a red face and made to back out of the room.

    "Huh?" Kirika wondered why Saber was so flustered and realised what her position under Lily's body must look like. "Ah! It isn't like that! I swear!"

    "..." Saber looked at her then glanced away.

    "AHHHH! Lily! Get off me!" Kirika shouted, her reason knocked aside by embarassment.

    "Tired of me already Kirika?" Lily joked as she got up from her knees.

    "LILY!"

    The white knight chuckled as she ignored her master's agitation and left the room.

    Left behind by themselves, Saber and Kirika shared a moment of awkward silence. They both had no idea what to say after seeing something like that in the morning.

    "... Good morning, Saber," Kirika finally broke the silence with a strained greeting.

    "G-good morning master," Saber replied with a slightly fluttery voice.

    "..."

    "..."

    Silence again as the two ran out of things to say to each other so early in the morning.

    "... Uhm... How's your lip?" Kirika asked in an attempt to ease the tension.

    She failed miserably.

    "My... Lip?" Saber blushed and looked away. "It's... Fine, master. I am a servant... We heal faster..."

    Kirika realised what she had asked and blushed. Why had she brought that up again? Hadn't she and Saber silently agreed never to discuss the matter again last night? Did she really need to remember the... The... Kiss with... Waaah~! #&%G!!! She was never going to get married at this rate!

    ... Where the hell had that thought come from?

    "Could you... Please leave?" Kirika asked as she hid her face under the covers. "I need to get dressed."

    "Yes, of course!" Saber replied quickly, and immediately stepped out through the door and shut it.

    Kirika wanted to cry. How had things turned out like this? All she wanted from life was to carry out justice where it was needed, following in her dad's footsteps. So why did she have to be turned into a girl by some cursed artefact, become embroiled in a war between magi, and have her innocence (?) taken by not just one but three girls?

    ... And why did she imagine that she could hear her dad say 'good job' from heaven with his thumb raised?

    -x-x-x-

    Breakfast passed by with little fuss... Or so Kirika wished.

    To begin with she had fought with Archer over who prepared breakfast (an argument that she lost) and who would pack lunch (an argument which she won in a phyrric victory as she remembered how much she needed to make for Taiga). Then had come the awe-inspiring display for the human capacity to consume food as Saber proceeded to demolish nine people's worth of breakfast... And then asked for more. Lily had consumed a relatively tiny (?) four portions, but she too had seemed hungry once the meal was over.

    It was then that Kirika had decided that her greatest enemy was not the other servants in this war. No, her worries were much greater than that. She had to face the bottomless pits that were Saber, Lily, and Taiga armed with only the money from Kiritsugu's savings and the little money that came out from the investments Raiga-san managed for her.

    At this rate she might have to think about mortgaging the house, and she was only half-joking with herself about that.

    Hah... The only thing she had really managed to achieve this morning was to get Saber and Lily to allow her to come to school without them. She didn't want to find out what kind of impact the appearance of two such beautiful girls would have on the school population, especially not if they hung around her all the time. A slightly empty victory though, since she had been forced to compromise by letting them come pick her up after school.

    "Oh! It's Emiyan!" somebody called out as she went towards her class.

    She turned to see the athletics club trio, and smiled at them as she remembered the help they had given her yesterday.

    "Ack," Makidera frowned and made a warding gesture. "Put that weapon away Emiyan."

    "Indeed, it would be uncomfortable to start the day with that image in mind," added Himuro.

    "Good morning, Emiya-san," Saegusa said in what was the only normal greeting among them, but she had her face turned towards the ground as she greeted her.

    "?" Kirika put a finger to the lips in honest confusion. "What are you talking about Makidera, Himuro?"

    """Hwah...""" the athletics trio sighed together when they saw that she didn't understand.

    The cool glasses girl amongst them came up to her and clapped her hands on her shoulders. "Emiya Kirika, I know that you are too slow to understand why, but just keep in mind that you are an enemy to all women in this world." She stopped and appeared to think about something. "Even if you do make quite the picture..." Kirika thought she heard her mumble.

    "Eh? Eh?" Kirika wanted to know what the heck had brought this about.

    "Ugh, I can't believe this rockhead is one of the three women I acknowledge as a rival," Makidera muttered as if offended by something. "And do something about that smile of yours Emiyan! It's unfair!"

    "..." Even if she said that, she couldn't fix something when she didn't even know what was wrong.

    "Ignore the idiot - "HEY!" - for now," said Himuro over Makidera's protest. "How is your leg? You did get home alright yesterday didn't you?"

    "Huh? Oh, that?" Kirika laughed nervously. "It's fine now, thanks for worrying. See?"

    She raised her skirt to show the unblemished skin where yesterday she had stabbed herself. Makidera's eyes narrowed and Saegusa blushed as heads turned at the display, but Himuro only frowned and touched the spot where the wound had been.

    "... There's no mark," she muttered as if confused.

    "Huh?" Kirika only then noticed what was odd. "Eh? That's weird, I could have sworn I had a mark there yesterday."

    "Ohhh! It's official! Emiyan is a top secret cyborg with regenerative skin!" Makidera suddenly cried out. "No wonder you always beat me! I bet that those obscenely perfect boobs of yours are also - gack!"

    Himuro choked off Makidera's rant with a chokehold around the neck. "Sorry about that Emiya," she apologised. "It's good to see that you are fine. We will see you around school okay?"

    "Goodbye Emiya-san," Saegusa also added.

    "Gah - Join the club Emiyan! It's your destiny! Gack!" Makidera tossed out yet another recruitment offer before Himuro choked her off again.

    "See you later," Kirika gave them a little wave as they left for their class, 2-A like Rin.

    As she turned around to head for her own classroom, she thought about the wound and other things that seemed a little off. The little stab mark was one thing, since that had been a relatively small and clean cut. On the other hand she could have sworn that Rider had broken some of her ribs yesterday, but right now she couldn't feel anything wrong with them. Had she been mistaken?

    ... Meh, whatever. What was good was good. It didn't seem like there was anything wrong, so why bother wasting time worrying about it?

    Glossing over what was inconvenient as long as there was no harm done to herself or others. Though she didn't realise it, Emiya Kirika had been 'slightly' infected by Rin's suppressed neetism over the years they had spent together.

    -x-x-x-

    Ding - dang- dong. The end of the school day, and time for all the student to disperse to their clubs or their homes.

    Kirika was a member of the 'Go Straight Home' club like Rin, but today she had a place to visit here at the school, and set out to find her objective as soon as class finished.

    "Emiya? What are you doing here?" asked her target, Mitsuzuri Ayako as they ran into each other outside her class.

    Kirika waved at her. "Not much. I just decided to take you up on that offer from before."

    Ayako's eyes lit up. "You are finally going to disobey your mistress and join the club?"

    Kirika shook her head. "No, only for - who's my mistress?!"

    Ayako laughed loudly. "Just joking Emiya, just joking. Geez, it's because you react like this that people want to tease you."

    "Muuu," Kirika frowned and crossed her arms. Why did she have so many people around her that loved to tease others?

    "Aww, don't sulk Emiya," Ayako said as she took her hand. "Come on, it will be good to see you in a hakama again."

    Giving up the struggle against her fate, Kirika let Ayako pull her along as they headed for the archery dojo. A few whispers seemed to start as they passed by, but she ignored them. It was probably just idle gossip anyway.

    When they got to the dojo Kirika realised that she had forgotten about someone whose presence would complicate things.

    "Kirika!" Taiga cried out when she spotted them. "It's been ages since you came here! Are you finally going to join? Are you? Are you?"

    Kirika backed off in the face of Taiga's forceful suggestions. Hahaha, this was a part of the reason why she had avoided this building for a good year and a half now. The way that Fuji-nee always looked at her as if expecting something always put a burden upon her mind.

    "Emiya's just visiting Fujimura-sensei," Ayako came to the rescue. "Now, back off a little, or you will scare her away for another year."

    "Ughhhh, and here Onee-san finally thought she could count on you for the championship later this year," Taiga gave Kirika a disappointed stare. "We get bonuses if the clubs we oversee win you know? Big bonuses! Onee-san needs money to supplement her allowance Kirika!"

    Kirika laughed weakly as Ayako mumbled something about the Archery club's image being ruined. Yep, Fuji-nee was just as energetic and poor as usual. Why couldn't Raiga-san give her some more pocket money?

    ... Wait, that was a bad idea. She spent all of her wages on junk and snacks already. If she got even more money her house would be filled with useless knick knacks in no time.

    "Come on Emiya, let's get you dressed," Ayako suggested as the rest of the club members began to filter in. "You do remember how to put on everything right?"

    Kirika nodded. "Yep. Do you still have the spares in the far lockers?"

    "You betcha," Ayako confirmed. "Well, come out quickly Emiya. I can't wait to see how much I've caught up to you."

    "Psh, I'm not that good," Kirika said modestly.

    Ayako raised an eyebrow. "So says the person who hits the target one hundred times out of a hundred."

    Kirika tried to ignore Ayako's look as she slipped inside the changing rooms.

    When she emerged again, she was dressed in the short-sleeved white gi and the navy hakama that the club kept for the occasional casual member. The get up was surprisingly comfortable even after all this time, and Kirika felt her mood lift slightly as she went up to the range.

    "Nui! Kirika-chan's hakama look, spotted!" Taiga squeaked excitedly when she saw her. "Ah, it looks so good on you Kirika-chan! Why won't you join the club so that I can see you like that every day?"

    Your reactions are part of the reason why, Kirika wanted to say as Taiga rubbed herself against her face, but she kept her silence with stoic determination. Ayako gave her a look of sympathy but didn't move to help her. They were both used to Taiga's behaviour and trying to stop her now would only make things noisier.

    "Think you still have it Emiya?" Ayako inquired as Taiga was forced to stop in order to go answer a query from one of the third years. "It's been a while since you drew a bow hasn't it?"

    Kirika didn't reply immediately and took an arrow from the case nearby. Flexing the bow a few times to get the feel for its tension, she waited for her turn to come by, then drew the string back and released the arrow.

    "I think I've still got it," she told Ayako as she turned around without bothering to check where the arrow went. She didn't need to.

    "Ack, you monster," Ayako clicked her tongue as she saw that the arrow had buried itself deeply into the centre of the target. "And here I thought that I might finally be able to outscore you today."

    Kirika giggled quietly. "You will. That shot just now was more of a fluke than anything. I nearly lost it when that breeze picked up as I released."

    Ayako frowned and tried to feel the wind. Nothing. "Whatever you say Emiya," she sighed. "I've got to go and help the others as well as get some practice in myself. Will you be fine here by yourself?"

    Kirika nodded. "I will just shoot a quarrel or two and then observe. I just felt like shooting some arrows for once."

    "Okay, have fun," Ayako told her as she went off.

    Left to herself, Kirika tuned out the rest of the world as she focussed on the target and the distance in between. Aiming was a concept she was unfamiliar with. Instead, she imaged the possibilities that came of releasing the arrow, and chose the one that led to it hitting the centre. When the target next to hers thudded to the impact of an arrow on the outer ring, she released the string, and nodded as she hit the centre with her shot.

    Draw, release. Draw, release. Draw, release. She continued the mechanical pattern until her fingers clutched empty air as she reached down for more arrows. When she realised that she had exhausted her load, Kirika lowered the bow and backed away from the shooting spot.

    It was then that she noticed that the rest of the dojo had fallen silent, and that she was the focus of dozens of stares from all of the archery club members who had stopped to watch her.

    "Eh? Eh?" she looked about with her feet frozen to the spot. What was going on? Why was everyone looking at her.

    "And that folks, is why we call Emiya 'Sniper-san' around here," Ayako's voice cut through the silence. "You all saw her form as you shot didn't you? That's what we are all aiming for, so go off and practice while you still remember it. Go off now, shoo, shoo."

    Kirika breathed a sigh of relief when the impromptu crowd dispersed, and smiled gratefully at Ayako when the fiesty club captain approached.

    "Wow, haven't you gotten better Emiya?" Ayako asked when they were alone. "How could you hit the centre with all those arrows? You can't even see the bullseye anymore because you packed them in so densely!"

    "Luck?" Kirika shrugged. "I just had a good run today."

    "Right," Ayako looked at her doubtfully. "Too much modesty is unbecoming you know. Still, are you sure you don't want to join Emiya? With your talent I bet you could even aim for the Olympics if you transferred over to Archery (Western) in university."

    "No I'm fine," Kirika replied as she put the bow down in a rest. "Archery is just something I do when I get the fancy. I don't want to get heavily involved in it."

    "Pity," Ayako said with her voice full of honest disappointment. "Well, go and play with Fujimura-sensei or something if you plan to observe Emiya. I've got to go and practice."

    Kirika nodded and waved her off again. She was about to take Ayako's advice and join Taiga for a cup of tea when a prickling on the back of her neck stopped her in her tracks. Killing intent? Or simple hostility? When she turned to see who it was, she saw a girl she recognised at the other end of the hostile glare.

    Matou Sakura, that was the name. A pale beauty with slightly faded black hair that looked almost purple in the light. She was pretty famous around the school as the Ice Princess of the first years, but that wasn't how Kirika knew her, not really. Her familiarity with Sakura came from the times that she had noticed Rin go blank as the girl walked by. Every time Rin had looked as if she wanted to say something, but had stopped without uttering a word. Sensing the emotions behind Rin's actions, Kirika had asked Rin for an explanation, but had been warned off by an angry Rin. One of the few times that she could remember Rin truly getting angry at her.

    Kirika frowned. What had she done to earn the girl's enmity? She had never even talked to the girl before.

    "KIRIKA!" Taiga's sudden scream grabbed her attention. "Who are these two foreign beauties? And why are they calling you master?!"

    Oh, lord... Kirika rushed off to try and contain the situation, but the damage had already been done. As the dojo descended into chaos with the arrival of Saber and Lily, Kirika got caught up in a mish mash of wild gossip and whispered ruminations about her orientation. It was all so confusing that she promptly forgot all about the girl who had been looking at her so angrily.

    -x-x-x-

    Leaving the hustle and bustle of the archery club behind her, Sakura headed for the woods, the nearest place she could think of where she could be by herself. As she ran she fought to control the conflicting feelings in her heart. It was only when she finally got far enough away that no one could possibly hear or see her from the dojo that she allowed herself to come to a stop, and let the flurry of emotions she felt run free.

    "Why?" she hissed as she put her weight against a tree with one hand. "Why does she have to be so perfect?"

    Jealousy, rage, admiration. All this and more. What Sakura felt towards Kirika was no simple thing. Five years of observing the girl who had taken her desired place in life had been plenty of time for Sakura to develop feelings both dangerous and sweet for the young magus. Right now though it was her jealousy of the other girl's ability to claim everyone's attention for herself that was foremost in her thoughts.

    "Just when I thought that I could take her place... Why did she have to come back again?" Sakura muttered darkly.

    While it was true that Shinji had told her to come to the Archery club to pick up after him, the true motive for Sakura coming along so obediently was actually quite different. An image from a year ago, of a girl who stood in the light that she so desired from the depths of her soul. A pure and clean image that she dreamt of for herself but knew that she could never attain, not really anyway. Out of a wish to at least imitate that person she had gladly followed her brother to the club.

    When she had gotten there and found out that the cause for her being there had quit, she had been half glad and half disappointed. Glad that there would be no cause for comparisons to be drawn between her and the one she envied, disappointed that the one she admired would not be beside her. Not knowing how she should really feel, she had settled into the club with the mechanical motions that were typical of her.

    It was a few weeks into the school year that Sakura realised that this was a chance for her. Till then she had only dreamt of becoming like the one she had watched that lonely autumn evening. In the absence of that person's presence however, wasn't it possible that she could live out that little dream of hers? Not perfectly, for she could never be as innocent and open as that person, but she could pretend at least. A fantasy lived out, a short escape from cruel reality in a role that she longed to become.

    So with a trembling heart, she had tried, and was accepted. With her quiet manner and dainty looks, it didn't take long before she was one of the most liked of the first year members. After that it was only a matter of time before she was one of the central members of the club, with people looking at her in a similar manner as they had towards that person.

    Sakura had basked in that newfound attention. Thinking that maybe, just maybe, if she became popular enough that everyone would look at her, those people would look at her too. Just like they were always looking at each other.

    But, that hadn't happened. Although more and more people looked at her with respect or adoration, those two continued to pass her by. As if she was no one, as if she wasn't worth noticing in the first place.

    And now. Just when she thought that she had taken up a place in the archery club, that girl had come and proven that a position like the one that Sakura had needed months to build, she could overtake in a matter of minutes. It was almost as if that girl was saying that no matter how hard she tried, she would never be able to catch up. No, it would actually have been better if that girl had even implied such a thing in her behaviour. Instead, Sakura had seen the curious light in that girl's eyes when their sights had met. A telling sign that it was the first time that she had even been noticed by that person.

    When she thought about it, dark and hateful emotions rose up inside her. They told her to ■■■ the other girl, to ■■■ her and take her place. Another side of her told her to □□□ the girl, to □□□ her and □□□ her so that she would be forced to notice the one doing such things to her. To □□□ that girl so deeply that the scars on her soul would never fade, leaving forever the knowledge of who it was that was responsible.

    "No, no, no. That's bad. I can't do something like that," Sakura whispered to herself as she shook her head to clear it of such wild ideas. She was breathing a bit raggedly, her body unconsciously responding to the thoughts inside her head.

    A crunching noise behind her as someone stepped on the leaves that littered the forest floor. Sakura whirled around, anxious to prevent anyone from seeing her in such a state, but she quickly let down her guard when she saw that it was only her brother.

    "Sakura? What are you doing here?" Shinji said with a frown on his face.

    "Just cooling my head a bit nii-san," Sakura replied as she straightened up. "Why are you here?"

    Shinji scowled. "Since when do you need to know what I am doing?"

    Sakura winced and shook her head. "I was only curious nii-san. I didn't expect to see you here."

    "Hmph, if you must know I was on my way home. I expect that you are going to prepare dinner on time?"

    "Yes, nii-san."

    Shinji scowled again, annoyed with something.

    "See you later then," he nodded at her.

    "See you at home nii-san."

    "Damn lesbians, why do they always have to stick together like that?" he complained out loud as he walked away.

    Sakura froze mid-step when she heard what Shinji had said. 'They' were 'together'? There was no mistaking who he was talking about. It could only be those two people.

    Pshhk. A crackling noise under her hand. Sakura looked up, surprised by the noise and was disconcerted to find that she had inadvertently stolen the life from the tree she was leaning against.

    "Ugh..." she couldn't go back to the dojo. Not when her emotional control was this messy. Not when she would have to face 'them' as if nothing was wrong.

    "Not now... I can't face them yet..." Sakura mumbled as she walked away to distance herself from the tree she had killed with her sorcery.

    There was an air of fragility about Sakura as she walked back towards the main school building to get a spare change of clothes from the lockers. A mood about her that made her seem as if there was thin porcelain skin that hid beneath it a dark light that could burst forth at any moment.

    "Not yet... But soon, sempai."

    Sakura's last words seemed to hang in the air after she had departed, a chilly promise of things to come and deeds to be accomplished.
    Last edited by Alyeris; November 29th, 2011 at 07:25 PM.

  6. #6
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    2-2



    The school looked very different in the night. Grounds that were full of life by day turned into desolate shells from which a ghost could come out at any time and not look out of place. It truly struck home the fact that what made up a school was its students and staff, not the buildings themselves.

    It was into this lonesome domain and Kirika and Rin intruded with their servants. At an hour when all good students should be stuck in their books or asleep, they jumped the fence at the back of the school to head for their objective. The archery dojo where earlier they had located the heart of the ward around the school.

    They were going past the last of the trees when Kirika remembered something she had forgotten to ask before.

    "Hey Rin."

    "Yes Kirika?"

    "Now that I'm a master aren't I supposed to go register myself and my servants at the Church?" Kirika asked with her head tilted curiously.

    "Huh? Don't worry I..." Rin froze as she remembered that she had meant to go to the Church the day before but had completely forgotten due to the shock she had received from Kirika's twisting of the Grail Wars rules.

    "Rin?"

    "... Ha ha ha. Oops?" Rin chuckled nervously. "I guess we will have to go do that once we are done here."

    Kirika's face scrunched up in displeasure. "Can't we just ring up that pseudo-priest?"

    "I don't want to see him either," Rin sighed. "But it would be bad manners to not see him at least once."

    Giving up, but not happily, Kirika pouted and looked away. Seeing Kirei was not something she enjoyed. There was something about the man and his manner that always offended her on a basic level, and it wasn't just his inability to appreciate any food that wasn't hot enough to set your tongue on fire.

    "Excuse me Kirika, but is there something between you and this man of the church?" asked Lily who had been walking behind them.

    "Not really," Kirika said with a strained face.

    Puzzled by her expression, Lily inquired further.

    "Then why not go see him?" she asked. "According to my knowledge all you have to do is go and tell him your name and the class of your servant, do you not?"

    "If it were anyone else, yes," Kirika replied mournfully. "The problem is, Kirei is technically my guardian as well as a former teacher of mine."

    Saber didn't understand what was so wrong about this and asked about it. "In that shouldn't you be on better terms with him master?"

    "..."

    "Master?/Kirika?" Saber and Lily blinked simultaneously as a gloomy aura seemed to form around their mistress.

    "Good terms? With him?" Kirika's voice was shaking as she stared blankly into the air. "That perverted priest? The sadist who treated me like some kind of dress-up doll? The freak who thinks good cuisine involves filling one's mouth with the edible equivalent of molten lava? Ha ha ha..."

    Next to the traumatised Kirika, Rin winced slightly and looked away. It was one secret of hers that she could never tell her friend and apprentice that a lot of the dress-up sessions had been carried out with her input. She had only helped out in order to escape the same fate herself, but she didn't think Kirika would take the knowledge that she had been sold out very well.

    "Lily, do you remember all the frilly dresses that were in my wardrobe?" Kirika continued numbly.

    Lily nodded, she had seen quite a few such outfits when she had looked in there to find something for herself to wear.

    Kirika noted the affirmation and hung her head. "All of those were gifts from Kirei. Half which he made me dress up in and walk around town... Including the maid outfit..."

    Again, Rin couldn't prevent herself from a guilty wince. The maid outfit had been her idea, and a good one too! Kirika had looked so good in it, and the photos from then were stored securely in her secret photo album. The one that she sometimes took out when she was home alone to go over with a goofy grin on her face.

    Archer noted his master's odd reactions to Kirika's monologue, but didn't say anything about it. It didn't seem like anything that he could reveal out here while they were at risk of attack at any time. Never mind the fact that if it was what he thought it was, the retribution that Rin would deal out would be a thing of legend.

    "Ah," Lily thought back to some of the outfits she had seen. Dressing Kirika up in them... Hu hu hu. Interesting. Was there any way she would be able to persuade her master to try some of them on again?

    With various thoughts on their minds, the group arrived at the archery dojo. The door was locked, but it was a simple matter for Kirika to gain access for them through the side door which could be unlocked by a strong push on the hinges. She hadn't spent an year in this facility doing club activities and chores for nothing.

    "Well, there it is," Archer pointed out as they entered the main hall area where the sigil was. "Do you really think you can do something about it Rin?"

    Rin raised an eyebrow. "Well I don't know until I try, do I?"

    "Huh," Archer smirked. "Just checking. Can't allow you to mess this up like you did with my summoning after all."

    Rin's confident expression faltered as Archer brought up what would no doubt remain a smear on her self-image as a mage until the day she died.


    "If you are so unsure I would hate to waste your time Archer," she replied through gritted teeth. "Why don't you make yourself useful and go keep an eye out for other servants?"

    "Will do," Archer said obediently as he put his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "I will just go up on the roof and -."

    What Archer would have done would remain a mystery, as all three servants present suddenly went on guard and turned towards the shooting yard. The reason for their wariness was self-evident as a shape leapt over the walls to land softly on the dirt floor.

    "Master, please get behind me," Saber told Kirika as she moved into a position from which she could cover her.

    "You there, announce yourself," Lily cried out, her normal flippant manner discarded for the regal authority of the king she had been.

    Archer didn't say anything, choosing instead to simply observe and figure out what the newcomer's next move would be.

    The stranger stood up from where he had been kneeling, a graceful motion that brought to mind the movement of a big cat. The comparison was fitting, as the air he gave off was of someone just as dangerous and imposing as one of those great beasts.

    "It should be fairly obvious who I am," the servant replied, his red eyes glinting with a feral light. "I would ask what such lovely young women as yourselves are doing here so late at night, but..." A long red spear appeared in mid-air as Lancer reached out for his weapon. "Such a question need not even be asked of a servant of the sword, right?"

    Lancer's voice was full of anticipation as he looked at Lily with a provocative smirk on his face. Lily glanced towards Kirika to ask if it was okay to respond, but didn't get an immediate response as Saber came forward to challenge her for the right to go up against their opponent.

    Lancer noticed the interaction and the similarities between the two, and frowned in puzzlement.

    "Eh? Hold on. Why are there two of you?"

    Ignoring him, the two swordswomen continued their silent stand-off, their fingers playing with the hilts of their weapons as if they were eager to settle the dispute that way.

    "Saber? Lily? Is this really the time?" Kirika said nervously.

    "It would be a simple matter if Saber was to back off as would be polite Kirika," replied Lily. "I was the one that was challenged first, and therefore it is my right to face him."

    "I didn't hear any specific challenge Lily," Saber countered. "He asked to face a servant of the sword, and that we both are. Why don't you stand down and let the more thoughtful of us two go first, or were you planning to just rush him carelessly like you seem to do everything else."

    "Like you are so much better, miss 'I-have-my-scabbard-stuck-up-my-spine'!" Lily replied loudly.

    "You just proved my point," Saber said condescendingly. "Stop acting like such a child and let an adult take care of things."

    "I do not need to hear that from someone who hasn't grown up in any way since they were a child," Lily snarled.

    "Uhm... You two, calm down please?" Kirika didn't know what to do with her feuding servants.

    Left to his own devices, Lancer yawned and scratched his head. "Look, I don't really care who it is, so could you please fight me already? Why don't the both of you come at me if you can't decide who goes first? It won't make much difference to the result either way."

    Lancer's arrogant comment bought him the shared emnity of Saber and Lily for a brief moment, but soon enough the two started to bicker again as Kirika tried to calm them down. It was then that a fourth player stepped onto the mat.

    "No need to wait up Lancer. I will take you on," announced Archer as he stepped up.

    "Archer?"

    "Archer-san?"

    "Hah?"

    Archer's proclamation surprised everyone there, not least of all Saber and Lily, who stopped their fight to look at their ally disapprovingly.

    "Archer, what do you think you are doing?" Lily asked, confused by his apparent fit of insanity. "Your opponent is the fastest of the servants. You can't be thinking to take him on when he's this close."

    "Yes Archer," Saber agreed with her counter-part. "Leave this to us. Your abilities will be better used in later battles instead of a duel like this."

    Archer frowned as both Sabers dismissed his combat ability. Okay, so maybe his stats were a bit low compared to some of the other servants, but this didn't mean they could ignore him. Hell, they didn't even know how he fought! Where did they get off dismissing him like this?

    Rin was no help to Archer's mood either as she berated him for his apparent foolishness. "Saber is right Archer, you can't take on Lancer like this. Stand back and let them take care of it."

    Lancer too seemed disdainful of his fellow male servant. "Archer huh? Go away you louse, I want to see whether or not the Saber class lives up to their reputation."

    That was the final straw. Shaking with anger, Archer ignored the protests of his master and allies and strode forth into the yard.

    "All of you, shut up," Archer ordered as he came to a stop a few metres away from Lancer.

    The servant of the lance narrowed his eyes at the figure before him as he noted the change in the atmosphere. Something had changed, but he wasn't sure what.

    "Ar-cher?" Rin's voice was careful now. this was the first time since she had summoned him that she had seen Archer get angry.

    "Rin," the servant called out her name instead of giving her a proper answer.

    "Yes Archer?"

    "Watch me," Archer smirked. "I will show you what I meant when I said that you had drawn one of the best cards you could have."

    Twin swords appeared in his hands, one white and one black. They were of exquisite make, and even an amateur could tell that great care had gone into their forging.

    Lancer frowned when he saw the weapons that Archer was holding. "Hah?! Swords? Are you kidding me? Get out your bow Archer, or are you really stupid enough to think you can face me like this?"

    Archer snorted. "You can say something like that only when you've beaten me. So..." the servant of the bow tensed his muscles, then used the energy to leap forward at inhuman speeds. "Get ready to go down!"

    "You asked for it then!" Lancer replied as he moved to meet Archer's challenge.


    -x-x-x-


    Sparks flew as the two duelling servants proved why Eirei were considered examples of what the peak of human ability looked like. While Saber and Lily were relatively unmoved by what was for them a pretty good fight between others of their level, Rin was in a state of mild shock as she finally began to appreciate just what they were dealing with in this Grail War.

    "So, this is what a battle between servants is like..." she murmured as she tried to keep up with the two combatants with her eyes.

    Off to the side however, Kirika was having a much different reaction to the clash of heroes. Or more precisely the particular way that Archer was fighting.

    Wielding his two short dao, the engimatic servant was engaging Lancer at a range where the servant of the lance should have held an overwhelming advantage. Contrary to what common sense dictated however, the servant of the bow was holding his own, and even gaining ground as he took one step after another towards his opponent. This surprising state of affairs was only made possible by Archer's strange treatment of his swords. Each time Lancer managed to damage or stike away one of the two dao in Archer's hands, a copy of the same would appear and immediately be wielded as if nothing had happened.

    "Just what kind of Archer are you?" Lancer said with growing frustration evident in his voice.

    "A good one," Archer grinned as he took yet another step into his opponent's territory.

    Lancer's brow furrowed as Archer brushed aside the question. Here he was faced with what was supposed to be the weakest of the three knight classes in this war, and he was losing? Even with the restrictions that were on him, it was an insult to his pride. What made things worse was that this was an Archer he was facing. For a servant to be classified as such it meant that they had to have a weapon worthy of the title and the skill to match. In other words, this bastard wasn't using his full strength in this fight.

    Offended as he was by this fact, Lancer stepped things up a notch. Faced with a flurry of strikes that only got faster with time, Archer was forced to retreat a little, and it was this that allowed Lancer to notice what was odd about his opponent.

    It wasn't just those weird swords of his that kept on reappearing in his hands. It wasn't even the fact that an Archer had such proficiency with the blades. What was truly odd was how desperate Archer seemed in his defence and offence. The servant's eyes were calm, but Lancer could feel the heart and soul that went into each swing of the twin blades. Such a phenomenon could not be found in someone who wasn't used to treating his weapons as a part of himself, but it didn't make sense for an Archer to have such a connection to a sword. With all the curiousities about Archer piling up, Lancer found himself growing increasingly agitated by the growing mystery that was his opponent.

    Kirika was no less agitated herself. As she watched Archer fight she had at first been mesmerised by the way he used the twin swords to shrug off every attack Lancer threw at him, a level of ability that she one day hoped to be able to replicate herself. Then had come the strange sense of... Familiarity and confusion, was the best she could describe it. A strange perturbation that seemed to stem from her soul itself.

    It had started softly at first, her mind creaking a little as it tried to figure out why she was so ruffled up by the way Archer was fighting. It had only gotten worse from there as she continued to watch, and... Learn? Was that it? Something about Archer's combat style felt so natural to her that she unconsciously began to image herself fighting as he did. As soon as she did so however, her instincts protested that it was all wrong, and the image fell apart as her brain protested against the foreign movements that she was trying copy. Strange. It was all so strange. What was it about this servant that affected her so?

    The young magus' eyes were drawn to the swords in Archer's hands. Twin chinese dao, wider blades than those she preferred, but close enough in form that she had felt something akin to lust when she had first seen them. These two carried that same haunting familiarity about them. As if she had seen them before somewhere when she knew for a fact that she had not. By what means Archer was making them disappear and reappear in his hands she didn't know, but when she watched closely she could almost have sworn he was forming the things out of thin air. Which was... Impossible. It had to be. Gradation Air was not an ability that could copy the weight of history that an item bore. Not even her Projection could manage the same feat, being but an improved version of the same which allowed her to form copies closer to the original, but empty shells all the same. Archer's swords went far beyond that, bearing an unmistakeable quality about them which told of their making at the hands of a master smith.

    Warning, mental contamination. Possibility line 12A-TRUE convergence within ego and id. Mental landscape erosion, cause - sympathetic resonance with foreign mindscape. Attempting merge to harmonise dialogues, failure. Attempting segregation of affected self-images, failure. Warning mental contamination irreversible.

    The fight had built up to a crescendo while Kirika was occupied in her thoughts, and the tempo reached a frenzied peak before Lancer suddenly brought a temporary halt to the exchange by leaping back. Far enough that Archer couldn't immediately come after him.

    Lancer was silent for a moment as he glared angrily at Archer, but then he appeared to shake his mood off and straightened up.

    "I admit, I underestimated you Archer," Lancer said slowly. "I apologise for that."

    "No need to apologise, but I won't refuse what's given," Archer replied smoothly.

    "Right," Lancer chuckled darkly before he got serious again. "Let's begin again then, but before we do, get out your bow Archer."

    Archer looked at Lancer curiously. "Oh? And if I don't?"

    "If you don't, you die," Lancer stated in a tone that held only certainty about Archer's fate. "Last time Archer, get out your bow."

    "No need," Archer growled as he took up his stance again. "I'm fine as I am now thank you."

    Lancer frowned as his courtesy went ignored, and his mood turned chilly as he slowly brought his lance to point towards the ground.

    With that slight motion, all those gathered there sensed the sudden change in the atmosphere. Where before Lancer's presence had been that of a wild beast, it now felt more like that of a guillotine blade ready to fall. Dreadful, and certain in its purpose. A weapon that held a promise of death for those it had targeted.

    As the two men faced off, Kirika had been focussed on Archer's hands. She had kept a close eye on the spot where Archer's swords would appear, and she had been rewarded by the sight of the swords unmistakeably coming into being from empty air. How that could be she didn't know, and although she attributed it to some property of the swords themselves, she knew at some base level that this was not so. Archer really was creating those swords every time. She couldn't explain why she was so certain about this, but this was the reality.

    Warning, mental contamination has spread. Warning, destructive resonance between baseline and foreign mindscape. Warning, possibility alignment broken. Attempting to suppress link, failure. Link activated. Warning, control impossible. Warning, suppression impossible.

    Cracks began to show in Kirika's inner reality, but they were cracks that she was unaware of. With her head aching, Kirika turned her attention to Lancer and the spear in his hands. It was a foreboding weapon, with runes across its length that promised death and pain for those it was wielded against. The curse of the thorn from which... Wait a second, how did she know that? She had never seen the thing before, let alone heard or read anything about a spear like that.

    Warning, paradigm link active at 2, 3, 4, 5 percent and increasing. Total mental contamination expected. All attempts at suppression, failure. All attempts at segregation, failure. Restoration of baseline - impossible. Warning, mental contamination - assimilation of inherent skill from possibility line 12A-TRUE through to 90-RENA. Breakdown of mental architecture. Overflow, restricting stream, failure. Overflow, cross contamination. Overflow, Gae Bulga, DWYIMYS, (J#J curse. @)()()()( JKSFD& overturn time 3987Hkk#Y *HREiiUEn xawgw#*YH-(ER)2839HDUhfisu8Y#*Y(#WHPFD:J-

    Strained past breaking point by the information that was being forced into it, Kirika's mind finally broke down and gave up its control over the streams of information that it had helped to suppress since the incident six years ago. Loosed from its bounds, the data crashed across Kirika's unprepared mind like a flood hitting a city. Fragile memories and mental structures were swept away, and even the stronger pillars that formed the core of Kirika's personality and self began to groan under the forces being brought to bear against them.

    Externally, this chaos was expressed quite vocally by Kirika's scream of pain.

    "Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

    "Kirika!"

    "Master?"

    Rin and Kirika's two servants forgot about the duel between Archer and Lancer and rushed to Kirika's side. They called out to her but in her suffering Kirika was not able to hear them, and continued to scream.

    "Kirika? What's wrong Kirika?" Rin cried out as she tried to calm Kirika down, frantic to discover what had happened to the girl who was one of the most cherished people in her heart.

    "Saber, hold her down!" Lily called out to her mirror image. "She's going to hurt herself if she keeps thrashing around like this!"

    "I'll take her legs. You get her arms Lily," Saber replied calmly, but a slight trembling in her voice betrayed her agitation.

    While the girls were panicking over Kirika's sudden fit, the two servants who had just been about to let loose with some of the deadliest tools in their arsenal were caught in a limbo, unsure of what to do. They cast glances at each other surreptitiously, looking between the commotion going on beside them and the one facing them. The uneasy standoff between them continued for a long awkward moment before Lancer finally sighed and flipped up his spear into a position at rest.

    "I can't fight like this," Lancer admitted when Archer raised an eyebrow.

    Archer looked towards where his master was kicking up a fuss over the collapsed girl and understood what Lancer was saying. Letting Kanshou and Bakuya fade away, he straightened up and looked at Lancer with a sheepish smile on his face.

    "Uh... You going to stick around?" he asked his fellow servant and man. "I mean, I don't mind fighting you but... It looks like this is going to take a while."

    "Nah, I like women and all, but not when they are like that," Lancer gestured towards the girls with his lance.

    "Hmm."

    "Uh, yeah." Lancer scratched his head and then shrugged. "See you around. We can finish this next time."

    "Yeah, you too," Archer replied. "Keep an eye out for arrows when you are out and about."

    "Heh," Lancer barked out a laugh as if he found the idea amusing and turned away. "Bye then. You aren't actually so bad."

    Archer snorted and waved the other servant off. He made sure that Lancer had departed and that there were no other servants around, then he walked over to where Rin and the others were still panicking over the girl.

    He observed them for a moment, ignoring the screams and Rin's abortive attempts to find out what was wrong with her sorcery. Then, when he decided that not much progress was being made, he stepped in and landed a sharp chop on the back of Kirika's head, shutting her up instantly.

    "Archer! What do you think you are doing?!" Rin shouted, outraged by his action.

    "Whoa, I just did that because I thought it would be easier on all of us if she was unconscious for a while." Archer held up his hands as if to proclaim his innocence. "Doesn't help anyone if she's thrashing around like that."

    It was a convincing argument, but Rin nevertheless glared at him until Lily agreed that Archer's decision made sense. Even then she didn't forget to throw him an angry look that promised trouble for him later. Archer noted that, and felt once again the difference between the Rin in his memories and the Rin in this... Parallel reality or whatever it was. Back in his timeline Rin had never shown such closeness to anyone until well after the Grail War and all its chaotic effects on their lives had ended. He really had to wonder what had gone on in this world for her to... Have such a close relationship with this unfamiliar girl that had taken his place.

    "How is she Tohsaka-san?" Saber asked Rin when the girl finished her examination and sat back.

    Rin shook her head slowly. "I don't know what's wrong. There's nothing wrong with her body, but her circuits are going wild." Now that they looked closer, she was shaking as she looked down at her unconscious friend. "I've never seen or heard of anything like this before. It's not like she's burning out her circuits, the amount of prana going through them is too small for that. But something's happening, and I have no idea what it is! Just what is going on?!"

    "Calm down Rin," Archer said soothingly as he knelt down beside her rubbed her back. "Panicking won't help. Calm down a bit before you think about what to do next."

    Realising that she was overly agitated, Rin closed her eyes and began to mumble a meditation charm to calm herself. It was only when she thought she could think straight that she opened her eyes again.

    "Whew," seeing that nothing had changed, she turned to Archer and smiled weakly at him. "Thanks Archer, that wasn't like me."

    "No, it wasn't," Archer agreed. "The Tohsaka Rin that I've seen was always more graceful than that."

    "Eh?" For a moment Rin was surprised by the similarity between what Archer was saying and her family's motto, but Kirika's state soon turned her thoughts back to the immediate concern.

    "Rin," Lily's voice was calm, but firm. "Is there anything you can do?"

    Rin thought about it for a moment, then sighed. "No, I can't do anything without knowing what's wrong, but Kirei might be able to."

    "Kirei? The priest that you spoke of earlier?" Lily asked as if to confirm her memory.

    "Yes, him." Rin nodded. "He's a lot better at healing than I am, so he might be able to find out what's wrong with her."

    "Then we should go as quickly as possible," said Saber as she stood up. "It wouldn't do for our master to be incapacitated when so many enemies could be after us."

    "Yes, you are right," Rin's face was gloomy as she got to her feet. She didn't like being helpless to help Kirika, and she vowed to become more proficient at healing in the future. "Saber, Lily, can you bring her. I would ask Archer to but it would be better for him to scout the route to make sure that we aren't intercepted on our way there."

    "I will get her," Lily quickly told Saber. "If something happens I trust you to make sure nothing gets close to me and our master Saber."

    Though Lily was smiling with something closer to her usual lighthearted expression in her face, Saber could feel the serious trust that was implied in Lily's statement. Nodding in confirmation, she tightened her grip on Excalibur's hilt. She didn't really like Lily all that much, but she understood the spirit under which such a request was made. It was also a spirit that she would not betray, no matter what it took to see that it was so.

    "Come on you two, let's go already!" Rin demanded, concern edging into her voice again.

    "Coming," Lily answered as she pulled Kirika up over her back. Saber followed a few steps behind her, while Archer ran forward to scout the path.

    It was going to be a long night for the group, and though they didn't know it, this was just the beginning.

  7. #7
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors
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    Very funny! Still what's the reason why Emiya is staying with Rin instead of being on her own? Is it due to how she wasn't always a girl? Rather disturbing that Sakura will be the seething/bitter rival in this story compared to her OTL counterpart's relationship to Emiya. Is Sakura's relationship with Shinji the same as in the OTL? Also how come Emiya can't do Gradation Air like her counterpart can? Isn't it instinctual for her or something?

    Finally considering Emiya was male originally, what story was concocted to pass her off as always having been female? Wouldn't Rin or Sakura have known differently compared to everyone else?
    Last edited by warellis; April 4th, 2011 at 02:24 AM.

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    Thou Shalt Not Be Boring Fireburst7's Avatar
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    Yay this story is back!

  9. #9
    死徒 Dead Apostle RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Interesting plot, I hope to see more.

  10. #10
    吸血鬼 Vampire Garlak's Avatar
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    This picture says it all.


    You know, I was just thinking "if only Prismatic Chaos had been posted yet..."

    And next I check, lo and behold, Christmas comes early. And there's more to it...



    Er, you know... is it well-known that Lancer has Protection From Arrows? That, combined with the fact that Lancer is right freaking there may have been why Archer decided to engage at close range. If he had tried to shoot him, if he had even managed to get a shot off before Lancer closed in... once he DID close in, he would be screwed because he's holding a bow.

    Also, Archer was pissed and wanted to show off. But still, is the above a possible reason for why Archer fought the way he did?

  11. #11
    Mania Casteranza Alyeris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by warellis View Post
    Very funny! Still what's the reason why Emiya is staying with Rin instead of being on her own? Is it due to how she wasn't always a girl? Rather disturbing that Sakura will be the seething/bitter rival in this story compared to her OTL counterpart's relationship to Emiya. Is Sakura's relationship with Shinji the same as in the OTL? Also how come Emiya can't do Gradation Air like her counterpart can? Isn't it instinctual for her or something?

    Finally considering Emiya was male originally, what story was concocted to pass her off as always having been female? Wouldn't Rin or Sakura have known differently compared to everyone else?
    Shirou was changed quite a while back, before Sakura had the chance to notice him at school. She only began to notice Shirou/Kirika later on, after Rin took her in as her apprentice in order to take responsibility for the damage that she had caused. Oh, and Sakura won't be simply a seething rival towards Kirika. Her relationship with Rin and Kirika will be a little more complex than that.

    As for Shirou/Kirika being female and its acceptance by those around her, Kirei brainwashed everyone into thinking that he had died during the 'incident' that changed him into a her. Taiga still sometimes thinks back to 'little Shirou' and apologises in front of Kiritsugu's grave about how she couldn't protect him. Kirika took ownership of the house again four years ago, but by this time she had spent 1 year under Kotomine (note - KOTOMINE) and Rin's tutelage about needing to keep the rules regarding magecraft in order to keep herself safe (she's a prime specimen for the Clock Tower to drag off and keep in a jar of formaldehyde). She quickly made friends with Taiga again but feels a bit guilty about not being able to tell her that Shirou is still alive.

    As for living arrangements, Kirika spends about half her time in Rin's house learning from her and acting as an apprentice. The other half she spends at the Emiya residence. She often sleeps over at Rin's due to the hours involved in helping her with experiments and the like.

    Gradation Air... While Kirika has the equivalent of the original's tracing/projection, she can't do it like Archer and Shirou can due to her life and mental make-up being quite different. She also cannot use Unlimited Blade Works.

    Also, Archer was pissed and wanted to show off. But still, is the above a possible reason for why Archer fought the way he did?
    Actually at this point Archer doesn't know about Lancer's geas of arrow warding. They would only find this out after they tried shooting Lancer. That's the reason Lancer found Archer's warning/threat so amusing.
    Last edited by Alyeris; April 4th, 2011 at 03:04 AM.

  12. #12
    Thou Shalt Not Be Boring Fireburst7's Avatar
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    Taiga knows that Kirika is related to Kiritsugu since she has Emiya in her name right? Doesn't she have a reaction to this?

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    Mania Casteranza Alyeris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireburst7 View Post
    Taiga knows that Kirika is related to Kiritsugu since she has Emiya in her name right? Doesn't she have a reaction to this?
    The 'Orphaned Distant Relative' excuse was used with Kirika being Kiritsugu's niece. Along with the sob story that she came here to find what was left of her family only to find that he had already died. Ironic when you consider that Ilya is looking for Shirou as well, and is a real female relative of Kiritsugu and Shirou.

  14. #14
    吸血鬼 Vampire Garlak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alyeris View Post
    The 'Orphaned Distant Relative' excuse was used with Kirika being Kiritsugu's niece. Along with the sob story that she came here to find what was left of her family only to find that he had already died. Ironic when you consider that Ilya is looking for Shirou as well, and is a real female relative of Kiritsugu and Shirou.
    ... Oh yeah. That's right.

    This is going to be LEGEN--wait for it... Let's see, Kotomine is interested in her, Sakura isn't sure whether to admire her, befriend her, or hate her for what she is and her closeness to Rin, her two Servants are driving her nuts, Archer has just BLOWN HER MIND, and Illya is going to find out her onii-chan is gone and Kiritsugu apparently had yet another child who he abandoned. Illya is either going to latch onto her and bawl about deadbeat fathers, demand to know why she has the name Emiya and freak when she finds out Shirou is gone or... or... I don't even know WHAT else... -- DARY!!



    EDIT: Oh wait, Kirika is masquerading as just Kiritsugu's niece... still, Illya is not going to take this well...

  15. #15
    Wings of the Sunlit Sky Hermitfold's Avatar
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    Yes, this story is back!

    Happy days!

  16. #16
    Mania Casteranza Alyeris's Avatar
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    More of your story. Hope it's up to scratch. No real action this time.

    ______________________________

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    The cessation of all motion imposed a strange order upon the chaos that had overtaken Kirika's mind. Nonsensical images of people and places that she did not recognise, impossible pictures of things that she had never done, all scattered across a dark sky like the countless stars that decorated the night. Under this unfamiliar heaven stood a lonely temple, a ruin in the Greco-Roman style, all the more mysterious for its imperfection. This alone would have been strange enough, but around this structure lay scattered a multitude of things for whose presence there was no discernible meaning. Swords that came out of legend stood planted in the ground next to a rusty spear. Elegant dresses lay draped over a suit of armour that looked as if it were made from the skeleton of a human. Flowers dotted the mirrored floor, over which trickled a thin film of water which had no visible source. This was but the tip of the mountain of curiosities that could be seen here, and the overall impression that this confusion gave put in mind a surrealist's painting of a scattered mind.

    Which pretty much described Kirika's state as she was now.

    It was only when one looked carefully at the heart of this insane domain, at the center of the ruined temple that was the only visible structure in this otherwise undeveloped land, that one was able to spot the sole inhabitant of this bewildering kingdom. A little girl of about six, staring blankly into space with lifeless golden eyes while curled up with her knees below her chin.

    A flash of light, and a new figure intruded upon this most private of areas. A feminine figure, clad in a black jacket with red trims that accentuated her lines in all the right places. Looking left and right, the copper haired woman appeared to search for something. When she spotted the temple a light of recognition filled her glimmering gold eyes, and it was with a gentle smile that she walked into the broken down edifice.

    "Hey there, it's time to wake up," she called out softly as she approached the central altar and the girl who sat crouched before it.

    There was no reply from the girl, who showed no signs that she had even heard her.

    "Hmmm," the young woman knelt down beside the girl and began to stroke her hair. "Come on now. This isn't a place for you to come to yet, especially not when it's all messy like this."

    Looking pointedly at a disorganised pile of odds and ends nearby, the woman sniffed disdainfully and flicked a finger. As a result of that motion, the objects that had been the target of her displeasure floated up into the air and began to organise themselves into some semblance of order.

    Nodding to herself in satisfaction, the woman turned back to the girl, and smiled as she saw that the girl had woken up from her daze. The doll like face was still blank, but the eyes were full of questioning, as if they were asking 'how did you do that?'.

    "Interested?" the woman asked, to which the girl responded with a slow nod. The smile on her face got a little wider as she chuckled and ran her finger's through the girl's long hair again.

    "Don't worry, you will be able to do it soon too," she assured her tiny companion. "We did learn it the same way after all. Or is that will learn?"

    With a finger to her lips, the woman wondered about how the grammar would work when she described the event in question. Her actions were incomprehensible to the little girl, whose form suddenly shifted into that of a young boy of about twelve as he got up.

    "Who are you?" the boy asked, wary of this stranger in this place that he instinctively knew was forbidden to all others but him. "How did you get in here?"

    The woman didn't answer, and only stared at him with an odd glint in her eyes.

    "Tell me how you got here already!" the boy shouted when he felt that he was being ignored. "If you don't I will - ack?!"

    "Kyah! So cute!" The woman cut off his angry demands as she took hold of him in a hug that squeezed him tightly to her larger than average chest. "Pictures! Pictures! Where's a camera?"

    "Hey, let go!" the boy protested as he struggled to free himself. What was this crazy lady? And why was she so strong?!

    The woman finally found what she was looking for in a distant pile of junk, and flicked her finger again. This time a digital camera freed itself from the jumble that covered it and flew over to smack into her hand. With the tool ready, she instantly began to click away like there was no tomorrow, and it was only when the camera signaled that its memory was full that she let go of the boy.

    "Hee hee, Rin's going to be so jealous," she giggled as she somehow put that camera into a pocket that was far too small for it.


    Breathing hard, the boy looked at her angrily. "What was that?! Who do you think you are coming in here and doing whatever you want?!"

    The object of his ire annoyed him even further as she laughed and pat him on the head.

    "Why, me? I am just a possibility," she told him. "Much like yourself actually."

    "?" The boy stared at her in confusion. What did she mean by that?

    When she saw that he didn't understand she gave him a patronising smile, which made him pout when he realised he was being treated like a child.

    "There there," she pat him on the head again. "You will understand eventually. For now though, it's time for you to wake up. You don't want to keep everyone waiting do you?"

    The boy frowned, wondering why he felt that he should know what she was talking about. While he continued to think, his body slowly began to change again. Getting a bit taller, and a bit filled out in places, 'he' became a 'she' again.

    When looked at side by side, one could see the similarities between the two young women. Both had long copper hair and the same basic facial structure, but the older of the two had the beauty that came with maturity, whereas the younger still had some of the doll-like innocence of youth.

    "Ready to go?" the older of the pair asked when her counterpart looked up.

    "Not yet," replied the younger as she looked at her older image intently. "One more question."

    "Ask away," the older women replied cheerfully.

    The younger woman nodded and spoke.

    "Who am I?"

    A soft laugh, a sound like glass chimes ringing in the wind.

    "Anyone who you want to be," the one who had been questioned answered. "You, me, all of us. All of us exist somewhere. But that's not what you want to know right now is it?" she paused to look at the younger woman to confirm her thought, and continued when she got a nod. "Very well. Right now, the name you are probably looking for is Emiya-."

    -x-x-x-

    "Kirika? Kirika?" someone was calling her name. "Kirei! You said she's alright now. Why isn't she waking up?"

    "I never claimed that she was awake Rin," answered a heavy voice, which for some reason made her want to punch someone. "I did almost nothing to help her, and I still do not understand how anyone whose soul was so weakened could recover with such speed. If you have any idea I would very much appreciate the sharing of that knowledge."

    "Rin, I think she's awake," said someone else. A voice that she couldn't recall at all.

    "Kirika? Are you alright?" the first voice, a very familiar one, asked hurriedly as its owner approached her.

    When she opened her eyes, she saw a young woman hovering over her with concern obvious in her blue eyes. It was a face that was actually quite prominent in her scattered memories.

    "Ri... Rin?" she said somewhat uncertainly.

    The uncertainty in her voice must have worried Rin, because the other girl suddenly looked uneasy.

    "Kirika? Is something wrong?" she asked Kirika anxiously.

    Was there something wrong? When she looked around Kirika saw that she lay on a bed in a dimly lit room with people standing by looking at her. One was a face that was vaguely familiar, for all the wrong reasons if the slight apprehension she felt was any hint, but the other faces were all ones that were new to her.

    "Rin," she whispered to herself as she reaffirmed the identity of the girl who she was now certain was a close friend. She turned her eyes towards the tall man who was dressed in the garb of a priest, and frowned. "... Uhm... Kirei?" she whispered uncertainly. She thought she was right, but a part of her insisted that he be called 'kuro-san'.

    Rin was looking at her a bit strangely now, but Kirika temporarily ignored the look to examine the other three people in the room.

    A tall man with tanned skin and white hair, dressed in a garb that was a strange mix of the old and the new. Closer to her were a pair of pretty young women, who looked like they might be twins judging by the way they looked like mirror images of each other.

    "..." Kirika frowned as she tried to think of who these people could be.

    """...""" Tense silence.

    "Uhm..." Nothing. She couldn't for the life of her remember who these people were. "Who are you people?"

    Archer frowned, while the twins sighed as if they had expected the question. Rin's reaction to her question was unexpected however, as she began to almost glow with anger for some reason as she glared at the tall tanned man.

    "Ar-cher..." Rin growled in a voice that promised intense pain for somebody in the near future.

    "What did I do?!" the man with a really strange name protested.

    "You hit her on the head!" Rin shouted. "Why else would she have lost her memory?!"

    "Oh, come on! You can't expect me to believe that this is because of me!"

    "Isn't it? Mind explaining what did it then?" Rin stalked up to the man and jabbed his chest with her finger.

    "Ugh..." The man had no ready answer to Rin's demand.

    Any further commotion that might have resulted was stopped as one of the twin girls came between Rin and Archer.

    "Tohsaka, it's not your servant's fault, so you don't need to question him like this," said the twin who had her hair in a bun. Kirika noted that the white shirt and navy skirt she wore was also a lot more.

    "Saber would be correct," said Kirei, backing up the girl's statement. "It's more than likely that whatever caused her mind such stress fragmented her memories, though not too greatly if she can recognise us." He then looked at the twins as if there was something interesting about them. "I wonder how it is however that you two recognise this."

    The other twin, the one who had her hair tied back with a large black ribbon sighed.

    "We guessed that something was wrong when we felt our connection to our master disappear," she explained. "Or at least that was how I knew. What about you Saber?"

    Saber nodded. "I too noticed this. At first I thought that she might have been fatally affected by her affliction, but since this is not so I must assume something happened to her soul which was powerful enough in its effect to destroy the link between master and servant."

    ... Master? Servant? Judging by the way everyone was talking the good looking guy with the white hair was Rin's servant while the twins were... Her servants? She didn't remember anything about this, but that might be because she had lost her memory if what was being said was any guide.

    Rin sat down beside Kirika and smoothed back some stray strands of hair that had fallen across Kirika's face.

    "Kirika, what do you remember about the Grail War?" she asked quietly.

    "... The what?" Kirika blinked in incomprehension.

    Rin flinched and then palmed her face as she mumbled something about how she should have expected something like this.

    "A contest of wills between seven mages, who all battle for the prize with the help of seven heroes summoned out of legend," Kirei stepped into the conversation with his oppressively heavy voice. "The war continues until only one magus remains, granting unto that victor the ultimate prize, the holy grail."

    Kirika had no idea what the hell Kirei was talking about, and it showed on her face as she stared at him blankly.

    "Hmmm, I may have explained that a little too briefly," Kirei mused as he smiled, an expression Kirika had always thought made him look a little villainous. "Tell me Kirika, what is the last thing you remember?"

    "Uhm..." Kirika racked her head to try and answer him.

    What followed was a quite long session of inquiry as all sides involved tried to gauge what memories Kirika retained and explain to her the situation that she was in. It took a while, but eventually they made out that Kirika generally remembered events up to about a month ago, albeit with large gaps about things that hadn't left much of an impression upon her. She remembered nothing about the Grail War, apart from the fact that Rin had talked about it some time ago, in no great detail.

    "Wait a second, Kirei," Kirika raised a hand to stop Rin as her friend continued to fill her in about some of the events that she had forgotten. "You said that this Grail War will continue until only one person remains. What do you mean by that?"

    Kirei looked at her with half-closed eyes. "Exactly what I meant Kirika. Is there something you need explained?"

    Kirika nodded. "Yes, I do. Am I to understand that we are supposed to kill these other mages?"

    "In most cases, yes," Kirei replied with that annoying smirk of his again. "Across the history of this grail war, very few have been the mages who came out of the contest alive."

    Kirika frowned. That was not the answer she had wanted to hear.

    "And there's no other way to end the war? I mean, there must be a way to avoid killing them all," she pressed the priest for an answer. "Well?"

    Rin sighed, and the... Servants, sighed as well. For his part Kirei only smiled at her with a strangely pleased look on his face.

    "Technically, no. There are other methods by which you can force a mage to retire from the war Kirika," said Kirei. "You may find however that this will prove a much more difficult task."

    "How so?" Kirika asked, she had remembered enough about Kirei by now that she knew that he would answer any questions honestly, though maybe incompletely if he thought the result would be amusing. She needed him to explain this matter fully if she was going to be able to make any decisions.

    "Tell me Kirika," Kirei suddenly stopped and got an annoyed look on his face. "No, I suppose that you wouldn't remember anything about the servants themselves. Let me instead ask you which of these two you would think easier to dispatch. Your average, everyday human, or a dead apostle ancestor."

    Kirika's face twitched. "Is this a trick question?"

    Rin interrupted them. "What Kirei is trying to say Kirika, is that the difference between a servant and your standard magus is that large."

    "Indeed," Kirei agreed. "Each servant is a hero out of legend, with the skills to match. If you consider that they also possess the conceptual weapons that helped turn them into legends... It becomes a much more practical choice for anyone involved in this war to target the master instead of the servant."

    "Because if the master dies, than so does the servant," Rin finished for Kirei.

    Having to take in all of this at once, Kirika was having difficulties accepting it all. Everything within her protested against the taking of life, whether by her hands or by those of another. However, she also understood from her association with Rin that most mages would not hesitate to kill if it got them closer to their ultimate goal. The Root, the Origin, that ˹ ˼ from which all things came. The holy grail that was the prize of this war, if it truly could do what it was supposed to be able to, would be an irresistible prize for all involved.

    Struck by the though, Kirika looked towards Rin, her closest friend and someone who in some ways was something beyond a mere friend. If Rin also was a master in this war, didn't that mean that they would eventually have to fight as well? How was she supposed to be able to do that?

    That aside, there was the question of the servants as well. They too had wishes they wanted from the Grail as well didn't they? How was that supposed to work? It was all so very confusing, and there was no clear answer to her dilemma that she could identify.

    "This would be a good time I think Kirika, to confirm as the Church referee of this fifth grail war, your participation as a master," Kirei suddenly said to her.

    Kirika looked up but didn't say anything immediately. Instead, it was Rin who jumped up to glare at Kirei.

    "Of course Kirika is participating Kirei! What do you think you are asking her?" she said fiercely.

    Kirei looked at his protege condescendingly. "All participants must confirm their participation of their own accord Rin. I also suspect that Kirika is not so sure of her involvement in this contest as you are. Are you so cruel a 'friend' as to ignore her wishes for your own gain Rin?"

    Kirei's sneer only accentuated the taunting tone of his words as Rin turned red from embarrassment. Clearing her throat, Rin turned back to Kirika and made as if to say something, but appeared to think better of it and meekly sat down again beside her.

    Having sunk Rin where she stood, Kirei turned his attention towards Kirika.

    "As you have figured out by now, this is your last chance to give up Kirika. With the connection between you and your servants gone, it's also the best opportunity you could have asked for should you decide as much. In this case you will be under the protection of the Church during the war." The priest's gaze turned hard as he got down to the more serious talk. "Should you decide to participate, you will become a target for other mages, as surely as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. Your convictions may tell you not to kill, but let me assure you that the others will have no such scruples. Kill or be killed, the strong surviving over the weak. Will you test your convictions against the trials of this war young Kirika? Or will you instead accept the easy way out to return to your normal life?"

    Decision time. As Kirei spoke, Kirika had been thinking fiercely, and now began looking for the last few answers that would decide her path.

    "Rin, I have to ask you," she said as she turned to look at the other girl. "If I decide to fight, will you fight me?"

    Rin bit her lip as the question she had dreaded was asked, but nodded slowly.

    "Yes," Rin said quietly as if the word had been forced out of her. "I have to, for my family's honour as well as to reach to goal that my family has been after for these last 300 years." Rin took a deep breath, sat up, and looked Kirika in the eye. "When that time comes, I will come at you with everything I have Kirika," Rin said firmly. "I will try to avoid killing you, but... I can't promise anything. I'm sorry."

    Even as she said this, her strong facade appeared to crack, and Kirika noticed that Rin's eyes were a bit moist as the normally confident young woman appeared to shrink into herself. Unable to stand by watching this without doing anything, Kirika moved closer to Rin and put an arm around her friend and spiritual family member. Rin tried to avoid her but Kirika refused to let her, and held onto her firmly, until Rin gave in and let herself slump against the other girl.

    Kirika sighed and looked towards the servants. They were all looking at her with looks of doubt and interest in their eyes. Probably wondering what choice she would make and how it might affect them.

    Archer first, she decided, and said. "Archer, could you possibly tell me what your wish is?"

    The tall servant got a complicated look on his face upon being asked that question.

    "I don't suppose I have one really," he finally said after a while. "There is one thing I might ask of the grail I suppose, but I doubt that even the grail would be able to do that."

    Everyone gathered there wondered just what Archer's wish was that he was doubtful of the grail's ability to grant it. This when the grail was supposed to be able to grant any wish.

    Not really the kind of answer Kirika was looking for, but she supposed it was the best she was going to get from the servant who was beginning to hit her radar as an aberration for some reason. Kirika nodded and looked to the two Sabers that she had supposedly summoned.

    "Lily, Saber, what about you two?" she asked them the same question as she had Archer.

    "... It is not something I wish to speak of at this moment," Saber said stiffly after a long pause.

    Lily raised an eyebrow in response to the way Saber was openly staring at her as she spoke, but Kirika ignored the byplay and tried for another approach to the question.

    "Okay, in that case, just tell me if it involves something like world conquest, or turning everyone on the planet into your slaves."

    "No! Why in the world would I want to do something like that?" Saber replied quickly, mildly outraged by Kirika's suggestions.

    "Oh, good," Kirika nodded. "Lily, you are the only one left."

    Lily played with her hair as she appeared to think about the question.

    "Hmmm, my wish of the grail Kirika? In that case I would have to say that I wish that I had been born a man," Lily said matter-of-factly.

    ... Eh?

    Everyone, including the normally unshakable Kirei, froze as Lily stated her wish. Kirika herself wondered if she had heard wrong, but no matter how much she went over her memories of the last few seconds, she heard the same thing every time.

    "... Excuse me?" Kirika said numbly, needing further explanation for this to make sense to her.

    "I wish that I had been born a man," Lily repeated proudly.

    "..." Kirika's head was beginning to hurt again. "Why?"

    Lily pouted. "Because it would have been more fun! Guys are naturally stronger, so I would have been able to beat that playboy around! No one would have been after me to wear those heavy court dresses either! Most importantly, do you have any idea how much more difficult it is for a woman to make love to another woman? All a guy has to do is stick it in and -."

    "That's enough!" shouted a red-faced Saber. "What kind of shameless harlot are you?!"

    "Hey, I resemble that remark!" Lily replied with a cheeky smile on her face.

    "Ha, ha, ha..." Kirika felt drained as all her fantasies about the noble King Arthur crumbled away into dust. She supposed she should feel happier about this since the last of her doubts about the war was solved, but... The revealing of one of Western mythologies greatest heros as a blatant lesbian... Was more than a little shocking to her modest Japanese sensibilities. Archer too appeared to have been K.O'ed by the revelation, as he was crouched over in a corner mumbling, 'this isn't my king Arthur' over and over again.

    Well, whatever, Kirika thought as she watched Saber chase Lily about the room. She had made up her mind.

    "Hey, Kirei," she called the priest.

    "Yes?" he replied as he looked at Lily with the eyes of a scientist watching an experiment gone wrong come to life, a look with equal parts horror and fascination.

    "I've made up my mind," Kirika said firmly, and she waited for Kirei to turn and face her before she continued. "I will participate in this Grail War, and I will make sure that none die who do not have to. If that means that I must win the war... Then so be it." Kirika's eyes turned hard, the gold shifting from the warm light of a setting sun into a metallic shine that belied the strength of her conviction. "I will let no one prevent me from carrying out my will."

    Kirei looked at her in silence for a long while, his face so still as to make it impossible to discern what he was thinking. Then, he laughed. A long loud laugh that was full of the malicious joy that Kirika had realised years ago revealed Kirei's true nature.

    "Wonderful, wonderful! Such spirit, such strength of will! Why, I haven't seen it's like since I faced Kiritsugu all those years ago!" Kirei surprised Kirika by saying her adopted parent's name, but didn't give her time to comment on it as he continued, subdued now but with steel in his voice. "I, Kotomine Kirei, hereby declare that Emiya Kirika has declared of her own accord her intent to participate in this grail war. Let all know that the seven thrones have been filled, and the battleground set. Under my authority as the church overseer for the war, I pronounce the official beginning of the war. To the victor, glory and power. To the defeated," here he cast Kirika an amused look. "Despair and death, unless they accept the shelter of the Church."

    Kirika frowned at Kirei's pronouncement, but kept her counsel about what he should say, more interested for now in how he knew her father.

    "Hah," Rin sighed as she stood up. "Melodramatic much Kirei? Come on Kirika, we are finished here."

    "Ah, wait Rin," Kirika stopped her and looked at Kirei again. "Kirei, what do you mean you faced my dad? What does he have to do with anything?"

    Kirei frowned, as if he wasn't sure why she asked, but soon he was smiling darkly again.

    "You did not know?" Kirei asked rhetorically. "Strange, I would have thought that he would have told his heir that he was the winner of the fourth grail war ten years ago."

    Kirika stared at Kirei with wide eyes, surprised by what he had just said. Her reaction however was nothing compared to Rin's.

    "What?! I thought there was no winner in the last war?!" Rin shouted, but then froze and looked at Kirika. "Wait a second, your dad? This Kiritsugu person was Kirika's dad? The guy who taught her that crazy method of making her circuits? A mage like that won?!"

    Kirika frowned again when Rin implied that Kiritsugu was a little... Odd. Still, she had a point, and she didn't want to interrupt Kirei who was about to speak.

    "Contrary to the official report, there was indeed a victor in the last grail war," Kirei said in a patronising voice. "Emiya Kiritsugu, a mage who disdained the path of a mage to become the magic-user known as 'Mage-killer'. He and his servant struck down all they faced, until only one remained. Isn't that right, Saber?"

    All eyes turned towards the petite servant, who had unexpectedly summoned her armour and had her sword ready as she glared at Kirei.

    "Yes, that is right Kotomine," said Saber. "And if I am not mistaken, that last opponent... Was none other than you."

    Everyone's gazes followed the end of Saber's arms as she pointed her sword at the priest, and Rin again blew her top.

    "You too? And Saber?" she cried out, to which Kirei nodded. "But you never said anything about that!"

    Kirei shrugged, as if it wasn't that big a deal. "I was your father's apprentice Rin, what did you think I would have been doing back then?"

    "But, but..." Rin palmed her face as she tried to sort through all the sudden revelations that were coming out into the open.

    "I am surprised, priest," said Saber, interrupting Rin's train of thought. "How is it that you survived? Kiritsugu won the war as you said, and that means that he must have killed you, his opponent. Your presence here, alive and well, does not make sense."

    "I am not sure what happened, servant Saber," Kirei replied solemnly. "All that I know for certain is that while we fought I was near fatally wounded by Kiritsugu. I suppose that the Grail must have decided I had been defeated then, for it appeared before him. After that... Well, I am sure you know better than I would."

    Saber's face turned dark at that, as if the memory disturbed her. Kirika would have commented, but she was too busy thinking about something else.

    "Kirei, you said this was ten years ago," she spoke hesitantly. "Does that mean that... The fire..."

    Kirei sneered, a truly satisfied expression. "Yes Kirika. I do not know what it is that Kiritsugu did with the Grail, but I do know that soon after he went to claim it, the fires descended upon the city."

    Kirika's face paled, and her hands shook as she tried to absorb the fact that the person who had saved her and become a role model to her could have been responsible for the disaster that had caused the danger to her in the first place. She looked desperately towards Saber, who seemed to be the only other person who had any answers about that time for her, for any words that might contradict what Kirei had told her, but found no help there.

    Saber had her hands clenched tightly around the hilt of her invisible blade as she stared at the floor, saying out loud. "I went with Kiritsugu before the Grail, but when I got there... He commanded me to destroy it."

    She fell silent after that, but there was nothing more to be said. Kirei seemed very content about something, whereas Rin had fallen to her knees, as if shocked beyond words that anyone would destroy such a item as the Grail. Lily and Archer were a bit more composed, but the tanned servant seemed troubled by something, and Lily had her mouth tightly shut.

    Kirika was no better off than Rin. She had collapsed back onto the bed, still unable to reconcile her memories of Kiritsugu with what she had just heard. It couldn't be possible, she felt, that the Kiritsugu she knew could have done such things. However, she couldn't deny cold reality when it hit her in the face, and she knew that Kirei and Saber had told her the truth. At least as they knew it. Which didn't really make things any better.

    "... I don't... Understand..." she muttered. "Why would Kiritsugu have done something like that? It just doesn't make sense!"

    Kirika was shouting towards the end, and Kirei looked at her contemplatively.

    "Does it really matter?" he asked her.

    "What?" Kirika replied angrily, her temper flaring.

    Kirei didn't so much as flinch and calmly asked again, "Does it really matter?"

    "Of course it matters!" Kirika shouted.

    "Why? Tell me that," Kirei questioned her. "His reasons, however incomprehensible are his own. Those of a dead man. Obsessing over them now will not help you, especially not now when you have your own monumental task in front of you."

    He could be right, but Kirika did not wish to admit it. Kiritsugu and his teachings were one of the pillars of her self-identity, and right now that pillar was shaking. How was she supposed to focus when she wasn't sure of her own self?

    "Kirika, the priest has a point," said Lily, opening her mouth again after a long silence. "Your father, no matter what kind of man he may have been, is now a figure of your past. Dwelling on it can be useful, but you can't let it blind you to the demands of the present."

    Was Lily right? Kirika had to think about it for a while. She and Kirei did make a valid point, the grail war was the task immediately before her, and it would demand everything she had if she was to make true the announcement she had made just moments ago. On the other hand, this was Kiritsugu they were talking about. Everything he had taught her, every belief she had taken as her own, they all ran counter to the sort of man who could do the kind of thing he was supposed to have done. Could she fight with her heart uncertain about the very foundation it stood upon? Could she prove her convictions with all these questions within her heart?

    It was Archer surprisingly enough who broke the deadlock inside her mind. Striding over to her, he surprised her by suddenly flicking her on the head with his finger.

    "Ow!" Kirika yelped and looked to him for explanation.

    "You don't have to think so hard about all this," he told her, ignoring her outrage. "Just because Kiritsugu was different in the past, doesn't mean that what you learnt from him was wrong. People change as they get older, and their experiences can change the way they view the world. Think about what he taught you. Does it sound wrong? Is it something that a normal person would think was morally corrupt? No, it doesn't, does it? In that case, just ignore the rest for now. Questioning yourself is something you can do when all your enemies are dead and you have all the free time in the world to do anything you want."

    Stunned at first by the flow of words, Kirika stared at Archer. By the time he was talking about questioning herself however, she had a thin smile on her face. He was right. It didn't really matter who Kiritsugu had been in the past, did it? All that mattered right now was that Kiritsugu as a person had been someone she had admired. A champion of justice, whose spirit she had sworn to suceed.

    "Thanks Archer," she said as she got to her feet. "I needed that."

    Archer ignored her, strangely stiff as he stared blankly into the air. His mouth was moving though, and when Kirika focused her hearing she could make out something along the lines of, '... my god. What was I thinking saying something... I stupid or... the whole point!'.

    Strange, but she supposed that everyone had their little oddities. Kirika shrugged and twirled in place so that she was face to face with Kirei as she looked up at his face.

    "Archer is right," she told her former teacher and tormentor. "It doesn't matter who Kiritsugu may have been. What he taught me was right. The strength of my own convictions, that's what will be tested now. Not yours, not my fathers, but mine."

    Kirei looked more pleased than ever as he looked at her as a teacher might at a pupil who had grown up much better than they had ever hoped.

    "I take it then that you still fully intend to do as you said and win this war?" he asked as if to make sure.

    Kirika nodded. "Yes, I will. Because that's what's right."

    Kirei laughed again, but it wasn't a mocking laughter like it could have been. It sounded more to Kirika as if he had suddenly found joy in life or something. Odd, but that was the closest she could come to describing the emotional tones that Kirei's laughter conveyed.

    Kirei calmed down, and coughed as if he found his outburst a little embarrassing.

    "Ahem. In that case Kirika, as your guardian and as your former teacher, I can only wish you well for the future." Kirei smiled thinly. "May you find in this war everything that you are looking for."

    An odd thing to say to someone, but Kirei was just strange like that. Kirika nodded to him once more and turned to face the others.

    "Come on Rin," she said to her friend and possible future rival. "Time to go."

    Rin had mostly recovered, and she quickly took her place beside Kirika. She didn't forget however to look back at Kirei before they walked out the door.

    "Don't think this is over Kirei!" she called out to the annoying priest. "We will be having words about this later. You remember that!"

    "I look forward to it Rin, but let me remind you that the moment you walk out that door the grounds of this church are forbidden to you until either the war ends or you come here, defeated." Kirei sneered. "Feel free to come here before then if you wish to give up though. The Church welcomes all, even cowards."

    "Ugh!" Rin grimaced, outmaneuvered once again by Kirei's slippery tongue.

    Kirei chuckled, and added another comment as they exited.

    "Oh, and don't worry about having to fight Kirika to avenge your father Rin," he called out to them as he came to stand by the door. "Kiritsugu never got anywhere near your father. It was the Matou mage that killed him."

    Rin turned around to shout something when Kirei revealed just who had killed her father, but the sadistic priest had already slammed the door to the private room shut. She stood there for a while, apparently torn between kicking the door open to demand answers and continuing on their way out. Finally, she let out a heavy breath and relaxed.

    "Damn pseudo-priest," she muttered darkly. "He has a lot of explaining to do once this whole war is over."

    After that no words passed between the members of the group as they walked out towards the road that led back home. Each of them had things to think about. Rin wondering about the name Matou and its implications, Kirika about her father, and the servants about their own complicated pasts and their present. So wrapped up in their own thoughts were they that it would have been a silent walk back to the Emiya residence had not their second opponent in this Grail War happened upon them.

  17. #17
    Red & Black & White & Red ItsaRandomUsername's Avatar
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    ^
    D-D-Double POST! D:
    eddyak:
    IRUn is not a teenage white girl.
    My gast is well and truly flabbered.

    Rafflesiac:
    It's a good thing the Fuyuki Municipal Library had that copy of the Epic of Gilgamesh as well as that sword dictionary and that Kuzuki went over Plato in ethics class.

    Dullahan:
    Kiswahili is beautiful spoken, but written down it really does look like you're trying to summon Cthulhu.

  18. #18
    Thou Shalt Not Be Boring Fireburst7's Avatar
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    Aww and I thought it was two chapters =(

  19. #19
    Mania Casteranza Alyeris's Avatar
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    D-D-Double POST! D:
    Oops?

  20. #20
    And Kotomine is already starting to troll everyone. As expected.

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