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Thread: Threads of Fate

  1. #21
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Definitely Ciel, I see - and she makes a pleasant change from Medea. Still, the choice of class is unusual (to me), since most things don't seem to emphasise her thaumaturgy skills (although between Roa, the Church, and her own potential, her class is certainly understandable). And I wonder under what circumstances she'd agree to become a Heroic Spirit . . .? Something to do with Shiki, perhaps?
    Last edited by Kieran; December 31st, 2012 at 07:19 PM.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  2. #22
    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Definitely Ciel, I see - and she makes a pleasant change from Medea. Still, the choice of class is unusual (to me), since most things don't seem to emphasise her thaumaturgy skills (although between Roa, the Church, and her own potential, her class is certainly understandable.) And I wonder under what circumstances she'd agree to become a Heroic Spirit . . .? Something to do with Shiki, perhaps?
    Your guess may or may not be correct. The circumstances are... unique shall we say :P

  3. #23
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Cool - I look forward to finding out about them.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  4. #24
    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    Threads of Fate: Chapter 5

    - Threads of Fate -
    - Chapter 5 -


    Day 4: February 4th
    - Iceberg -


    Shirou walked with Saber along the sparsely populated streets of Shinto. Towering high above him stood the skyscrapers that cast shadows upon the landscape beneath them. As it was the weekend, barely anyone could be seen walking around city streets; only the odd truck or passerby showed up here and there. Besides that it had been mostly quiet for the last half hour. They continued walking past the glimmering structures of glass and steel.

    Truth be told, Shirou had taken this walk around the city for his benefit as much as hers. The memories of that dream were still fresh in his mind as if they had happened only several hours ago. After the heat of the dream, the cool feeling of the night air helped to clear his mind. When he was younger he would sometimes leave the house and wander around the yard or the empty roads until the dream finally faded from his mind and he felt like he could breathe again. It helped clear the feeling of the choking smoke and scalding fire away. Taking a deep breath of fresh air he looked at Saber.

    At the moment, Saber was looking away from him at one of the skyscrapers that had been constructed recently. The loose strands of hair above her head waved gently in the wind as she walked calmly beside him. Even though she tried to hide it, Shirou noticed the actions that belied the alert warrior underneath her calm facade; a subtle glance down the darkened alley, a quick shift as she moved herself between him and a stranger, or a fleeting pause as she scanned up and down an intersection for new threats. Even during the calm of the day she was vigilant.

    He tried to imagine her wearing a black suit like the ones the media always showed bodyguards wearing; perhaps with midnight black gloves and her hair tied back in a ponytail. Utterly silly.

    However, quite like a bodyguard, she didn’t talk. As they walked through the city he had tried to start a conversation with her several times but failed. Despite his attempts at light conversation, she had been quiet for most of the day. It wasn’t that he had been too shy to talk to her... well... actually, that was part of the issue. The main problem, however, was that she didn’t seem to want to talk about herself much.

    Most of her responses had been simple curt yes and no answers or “whatever you choose should be sufficient for my needs.” His other attempts at striking up a conversation had been deflected just as deftly, and so they continued onward in silence.

    Eventually they reached their last destination: the burnt park within Shinto. It was here that the giant conflagration had taken place 10 years ago. As he walked along the park’s cobbled path he thought about how little the area had changed. The city had tried to change the area into a park but somewhere the plans must have fallen through. A park was supposed to be vibrant and full of life. Children should have been having fun with other kids as their parents looked onward. Lovers should have lain on the open grassy plain; enjoying the limited sunshine.

    There was none of that here. Grass the color of hay rustled with the wind as they walked into the park. The cold winter months had stripped most of the trees of their leaves, leaving only their seemingly lifeless figures standing. As he followed the cobble path he thought about how the area seemed more like a graveyard than a park: empty and desolate. When he visited here before work he felt as if he was the only soul that came to this place; as if this land was cursed and warded people away.

    Stopping at a park bench Shirou put one foot on the bench and gazed off into the distance. He thought about all that had happened here, of the hundreds of lives that were lost that day. He often wondered why out of all the people there he had been the only one that was saved. Though the ash and fire were gone, the fire had permanently left its mark. He shivered; not all of it was from the cool air. There were too many memories here...

    Turning towards Saber, Shirou saw her standing several steps back looking off into the distance, her arms hugging her sides and her hands clenched nervously into fists. In the distance Saber watched the sickly yellow grass wave in the gentle wind but it was clear to him she saw more than just the grass before her; her eyes distracted and looking far off. He called her name and she broke from the reverie she had been under.

    He called out again, “Saber? Is everything alright?”

    Saber’s eyes focused towards him. Placing her arms back down at her sides, her expression returned to that controlled neutral look she always had. “Everything’s fine Shirou. In any case, should we head back? It appears evening is approaching.” With a suspicious amount of haste she tried to hurry past him.

    Shirou, however, wasn’t convinced and placed his hand upon her shoulder, stopping her from walking away. “Saber, I know I’m not the best Master to help you win this war, but you are still my Servant and, more importantly, my partner. That means being able to trust one another despite our differences. If it’s something personal, I’ll understand but if it’s something that I should know about the war...”

    She sighed. As if her strength had been drained from her, she took a seat on the lonely bench and stared wordlessly at the fields of grass. He took the seat next to her and listened as she spoke. “I remember this place at the end of the last Holy Grail war. It was down to me and one last Servant: Archer. Even though I had a proper Master, I could not best him. In the end, even though I hadn’t defeated Archer, my Master used all his Command Spells to force me to destroy the Grail.” She paused but her eyes continued roaming the park, seeing images that he could not. “All I remember after that was the explosion... a wave of fire that destroyed brick and melted steel... and the remains of the town. With the Grail destroyed, I vanished soon after.”

    She turned to face him now. Her eyes tinged with sadness, “Do you understand, Shirou? I’m responsible for the fire that occurred. I am responsible for all those people.” Even as she spoke, he could hear her voice weakening.

    “I’m sorry. Everything that happened ten years ago was my fault,” she spoke, her voice now so quiet he could barely hear her. “H.. Had I been stronger, none of that would have happened.” She hung her head down in shame. She clasped her hands together in front of her and fidgeted nervously.

    His mind stopped and his breath caught in his throat; unsure of what to do. He remembered vaguely after that fateful day, when his skin was still healing from the harsh burns from the Fuyuki Fire, that he imagined some horrible monster had brought such horrible destruction to his home and life. Only someone completely evil and devoid of emotions could have done such a thing. His time with Kiritsugu, however, had let all that fade away like wisps of smoke in the wind. Looking at Saber, however, he didn’t see a monster or any evil.

    He remembered the beautiful knight silhouetted against the moonlight that had rescued him from Lancer. Her regal pose radiated an aura of strength that had given him pause simply from looking at her. Compared to the bowed figure before him... It was wrong... Someone as strong as her shouldn’t be stricken with remorse like this.

    Silence permeated the air and each second seemed to make Saber even more nervous. Shirou’s mind contemplated what to say, stuck between the urge to see the knight smile once more and the urge to lash out at her for all that had been lost. Finally, he made up his mind.

    “It’s okay,” he said softly.

    His response caused Saber to look up in surprise, her eyes filled with uncertainty. Moving closer to her, Shirou gently cradled her petite hands with his own. The skin felt coarse, most likely from the years spent honing her skills with her sword to an art, yet they still retained a certain softness to them.

    “You probably didn’t know, but I was in that fire. All those years ago... before Kiritsugu saved me. And although I can’t speak for the people now gone, I forgive you... because you’re not a heartless killer or a monster. Because you never wanted any of that to happen and were forced to do it.” Shirou said.

    Her troubled eyes looked deep into his own and Shirou held his gaze firm; lest he show any weakness to her. “You blame yourself. That’s only natural. You were forced to watch as everyone died all around you. It took me years to stop asking ‘why was I saved while everyone perished around me.’ I can only guess it must be worse for you, since it seems like yesterday.”

    “And you... got past all of it?” she asked,

    “No,” he replied with the shake of his head. “But I learned to live. I learned to do my best to help everyone around me to make this life worth it. I learned to live with my past and move on so that I wouldn’t squander this second chance that was given to me. To prove the reason I was saved wasn’t a mistake.”

    He shut his eyes as he fought back the memories of that night. He was aware of the hypocrisy within his words. On certain certain nights, he still saw the fire in his dreams... the smoke... the cries for help that would never come... dreams that still haunted him to this day. Yet none of that mattered. Right now, all he wanted to do was see her smile again.

    He gave her a smile before holding her hand tight and saying, “But even beyond all that...In this war, it’s our responsibility to make sure another... Emiya Shirou doesn’t happen again. To make sure the power of the Grail doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.”

    Finally, Shirou opened his eyes to see Saber returning a partial smile towards him. “I... yes... You’re right. We’ll make sure such an event doesn’t happen again in this war,” she said quietly. Closing her olive green eyes she exhaled a breath before hiding her emotions behind a mask of calm. She stood up and, although he could still see she was shaken, that natural aura of calm and regality he associated with her had returned.

    “I feel... better. T...hank you for that, Shirou. Sh... Shall we continue on then?” she asked.

    He could only smile at her response. He looked towards the sight of the sinking sun. “Let’s go home. I think we’ve walked enough for today and I’m sure you’re hungry by now. I’m not sure what you’re used to eating but I’ll make a wide variety of dishes today and see which one you like.” His smile broadened as he heard her emit a muffled sound of joy and her eyes looked at him with renewed vigor. With that, they headed back.

    Trailing slightly behind Shirou, Saber looked back at the empty fields of grass. Quiet, almost to the point of silence, she muttered to herself,

    “If you really knew, could you forgive me so easily?”

    ====
    - Show no fear -

    The sun had almost set by the time they reached the familiar road that led home. There had been a calm silence as they both walked back; different from the silence earlier in the afternoon. It seemed more natural, like taking a breath of air after a long dive. Looking back towards Saber, it seemed as if she had regained her stoic composure once more.

    Stepping through the entryway into the Emiya residence, they took off their shoes before heading towards the main room. As they walked through the sparsely lit hall, Shirou felt as if he was forgetting something. Something very important. Something... dangerous.

    “Shirou! It’s about time you got back. I’m huuuungry...” came the voice of Taiga as her soft footsteps headed towards them.

    WARNING: A DIRE THREAT, TAIGA FUJIMURA, IS APPROACHING FAST. WARNING.

    He felt the blood drain from his face at Taiga’s words. His breathe went shallow and he had to clutch the wall to keep from falling over. This was not good... If he didn’t handle this correctly then he would definitely die. Sweat dripped down his back as he tried to think of some way out of this dangerous situation.

    “Shirou? Is everything alright? You seem pale...” said Saber.

    “Eh? Shirouuu?? Who’s that?” called Taiga from the main room. He could hear her dainty footsteps moving closer, signaling his doom.

    He thought he felt his stomach twist three times over and the world seemed to waver in his vision. This was definitely bad. Retreat was no longer an option now. That meant he’d have to confront his fears head on or face destruction. Forcing himself to walk forwards with confidence he didn’t feel, he went forth to meet this great foe. Gathering what strength he had remaining, he called out, “Hello, Taiga!”

    “Shirou, you’re back late,” said Taiga as the upper part of her body leaned into the hallway. “Is that Sak...........”

    “...”

    “...”

    The hallway lay silent as Taiga stared mutely at the both of them; A silence that echoed and ceased all other noises. For long moments, they stood there frozen and stared at one another.

    “Shirou... Who’s that?” asked Taiga.

    His heart raced as he tried to think of an answer that would please Fuji-nee. “Ah, Her name is Saber. She’s a foreigner and we’ll be taking care of her for a while.” Even as he spoke he knew those words sounded weak. Thoughts raced within his head. This explanation wouldn’t do for Fuji-nee; she’d need something more concrete to satisfy her.

    Stuttering for several moments, he rapidly said, “She’s a distant acquaintance of Kiritsugu. She came here looking for Kiritsugu but only learned of his death when she arrived. I was talking with her and showing her around town today, that’s why I was late.” Finished talking and let go of the breath he realized he had been holding. “Saber, this is Fuji-nee. She’s been my guardian ever since Kiritsugu died.”

    Taiga’s face was frozen in a suspicious stare as she walked towards them. Her gaze wavered between the two of them as if she was sizing up which one to attack first. “Is... that... right...” said Taiga, carefully punctuating each word. Her eyes focused on Saber.

    “In that case... You there, Saber-san, explain to me why you came here,” said Taiga

    “Fuji-nee, D...” Shirou began to say.

    “Be quiet, Shirou. I asked Saber-san. Well?” said Taiga as she looked up and down at Saber.

    Silence. Shirou could feel his heart-rate rise as Saber stood mutely. Finally, she gave a slight nod, “Shirou is correct. Kiritsugu made many enemies overseas before he retired. He said to me that if anything were to happen to him, I should look after Shirou and protect him from any possible enemies. My only regret is that the message about his passing did not reach me sooner. I am here to make sure there are no enemies that may threaten him. At home or from abroad.”

    “Oh? really...” muttered Taiga. She placed both hands on her hips as an arrogant smile crossed her lips.”That’s a shame then. Shirou already has a protector. Besides, I don’t need anyone who’s weak protecting him so you can feel free to go back home.”

    For a moment, he thought he saw Saber smile but then it was gone. In fact, it seemed her outward appearance had turned even colder. Adjusting her footwork, Saber switched her footwork into a balanced battle stance before speaking, “That’s good then. We are in agreement. The weaker one should leave.”

    Saber looked Taiga directly in the eye and said, “Then... shouldn’t you be leaving?”

    ===
    Shirou’s head still felt as if Berserker had played football with it. From the way the floor was oriented he thought he might have been lying down but he couldn’t be sure given how much his head throbbed in pain. Above him were Sakura and Saber, both trying to comfort and heal his shattered skull. He vaguely remembered Fuji-nee doing something ridiculous by challenging Saber to a duel of skills.

    Saber, being the knight of honor, obviously accepted. Then things became weird. He wasn’t sure how, but Fuji-nee pulled a shinai seemingly from thin air. All he knew was that he took his eyes off Fuji-nee to glance at Saber and then Taiga was holding a shinai she’d procured as far as he was aware, from either her pants or some hidden compartment within the main room. The thought that Fuji-nee was hiding shinais in every corner of his house to protect him was both endearing yet unsettling at the same time.

    The older school teacher swung down with the wooden sword and predictably missed, the blonde servant easily sidestepping what must have been to her trained reflexes an impossibly slow swing. With a loud scream, Fuji-nee swung her sword again and again; each attack being nimbly dodged by Saber.

    If anything, it had seemed as if Saber was playing with her. With every swing, Saber always seemed to be able to dodge at the last second. If the rise in volume of the Archery Teacher’s shouting had been any indication, Fuji-nee’s frustration grew with every swing. Soon, Saber was dashing, leaping and dodging frantically around the living room table as the Fuji-nee followed her around.

    It was after the crazed sword-wielding woman narrowly missed the TV and the cup on the table that he decided to intervene. Standing between Fuji-nee and Saber in front of the living room door, he shouted at both of them.

    “Alright, that’s enough!” he’d said.

    Several things happened in that time. Sakura had evidently arrived home several moments before. The sound of Sakura opening the door into the main room caused him to turn his head away from Fuji-nee; in retrospect a dangerous thing to do. That distraction was all Taiga needed. Seeing an opening, Taiga sidestepped his body and swung at Saber’s small form; a strike easily dodged by the Servant. Unfortunately, Sakura’s arrival and sudden proximity to him caused Shirou to take several steps back, leaving him right in the path of Taiga’s strike.

    As such, the first thing Sakura saw when she came home was Taiga knocking Shirou right on the head. Coupled with Saber’s appearance, it probably would have been annoying for him to explain everything to Sakura. Luckily for him, someone else would have to do that as he saw the darkness of unconsciousness close around him.
    ===

    “Waaaah! Saber took Shirou away from me!” cried Fuji-nee. The wailing woman handed her rice bowl towards Shirou.

    Shirou sighed. As usual, his guardian was overreacting once again. Taking the bowl, he refilled it and returned it to the grieving Fuji-nee. It wasn’t as if he was leaving the house forever. They’d just be having another person living at the house till the end of the war. It wasn’t as if the house was lacking in space. There were enough spare rooms and space to accommodate almost a dozen people. He tried to explain this to the crying school teacher, but she only bawled further.

    Really, Fuji-nee was probably more upset over her loss to Saber than losing “protector” status of him. After waking up, Sakura explained Saber had easily disarmed Fuji-nee of her shinai. In the time it took Fuji-nee to realise she’d hit Shirou by accident, Saber had moved in, disarmed her of the weapon and thrown Taiga over her shoulder and onto the floor. The fact that not only had she been defeated so quickly but by a woman both smaller and lighter than her may have also been a factor.

    Because of his recent acquaintance with the end of Taiga’s shinai, Sakura had been adamant about letting Shirou rest while she dealt with the cooking.. “Besides, I wanted to try a new recipe I discovered,” she’d said.

    While Sakura began to bring the steaming hot dishes to the table, Shirou passed out the bowls of rice to everyone at the table. A new tasty smell piqued Shirou’s curiosity, however, and he began to sniff the air. It was slightly spicy in smell yet he could detect a slight sweetness that tempered the sharpness that came from the spice.

    “Sakura, is that... Curry?” asked Shirou. While curry wasn’t exactly unknown to their household, Sakura making a dish containing the ingredient was rare.

    “Yes, you’re right,” said Sakura as she brought the final dish towards the table. She set the plate down and he could see the sweet yet spicy smell came from the okonomiyaki Sakura had made. Sakura took her place besides Fuji-nee and they finally began the meal.

    Except for Fuji-nee’s loud and excessive consumption of Sakura’s cooking, the table stayed relatively silent as the rest at the table began to fill their bowls. Taking a piece of the okonomiyaki, he cut it and took a bite. The curry mixed well with the other spices in the dish and the egg’s texture was pleasantly soft yet being cooked enough to hold all the ingredients together.

    “This is quite good, Sakura,” said Shirou, savoring the rest of the okonomiyaki.

    “Yes, it is quite delicious,” said Saber as she finished her bowl of rice.

    “Thank you, I wasn’t sure if I made it correctly,” Sakura replied with a nervous smile. Her cheeks turned red in a nervous gesture as she focused her eyes on a spot on the table to avoid eye contact with Shirou. Really, she had always been too shy and modest for her own good. Even if there was something that bothered her she would never mention it, and instead bare with the problem. Which reminded him...

    “Sakura, what do you think about Saber staying here?” he asked.

    “Eh? Saber?” she said in surprise. Her expression reminded him of Shinji’s expression when Taiga had caught him sleeping. “I’m not sure if I should say anything. After all, I myself don’t live here. I’m not sure my opinion should affect your choice regarding Saber.”

    “Don’t be silly Sakura. You’re essentially family, just like Fuji-nee. Your opinion is important,” said Shirou.

    She returned a pleasant smile to him. “Thank you, Senpai. Very well. If you think Saber staying here won’t be a problem then I don’t see what issue there could be. She seems quite nice and she’s really polite.”

    She smiled at Saber before returning her attention to her bowl. A soft murmur was Fuji-nee’s only objection as she continued to pile more and more food onto her plate; drowning her sorrow with rice and Sakura’s cooking. Besides Fuji-nee’s constant sniffling, however, the rest of dinner went by mostly silent.

    Afterwards, Shirou helped gather all the plates up so that Sakura could finish washing them. It was customary at his home for the cook to also finish washing the dishes, a ritual that developed from living with only Fuji-nee for so long. As usual, Fuji-nee went straight off to the TV, leaving Saber and himself alone enjoying the tea at the table.

    “For everything that could have possibly gone wrong introducing Saber, today went exceptionally well,” Shirou thought to himself as he sipped his tea. Looking at his watch, he suddenly noticed the time. Due to Fuji-nee’s shenanigans and his walk around Fuyuki with Saber, his watch showed it was just past 930; definitely later than normal. While Fuji-nee might have been fine going home this late at night, Sakura was a different matter.

    “Fuji-nee, could you get ready to walk Sakura back? It’s getting late and I don’t think it’s a good idea for her to be walking home alone,” he said.

    “Nope,” she said rather quickly. Her replied had a cheerful upbeat tone to it. That worried him.

    “And... why is that?” he asked. There was a sinking feeling that was growing in the back of his mind. He didn't like where this was headed.

    “Because I’ll be sleeping here starting tonight!” announced Fuji-nee. Shirou’s brain slowed to a halt as he tried to process what she’d just said.

    “What...” he said dumbfounded.

    “Yup!” she replied cheerfully. “Sakura-chan, why don’t you stay too? I can contact your place to check. It’ll be more fun with all of us here.”

    Sakura looked behind her upon hearing her name called. “Uhhhmmm....” she said in thought. She pondered the decision for a moment, wet dish still in hand, before deciding. “That sounds like a good idea, Fujimura-sensei. We can get to know Saber better while we’re here.”

    “Excellent! Then it’s decided!” replied Fuji-nee with a cheer. Shirou rolled his eyes in frustration. The fact that Fuji-nee hadn’t even bothered asking him his opinion on the matter hadn’t escaped his attention.

    Shirou sighed. So this was her backup plan... she couldn’t simply allow a stranger like Saber to live with Shirou on his own, so she’d be staying here for all that time until Saber left. This was going to be a problem...

    Fuji-nee turned her attention to the blonde foreigner sitting across from him. “Come on, Saber. There should be plenty of room in the back room at the west wing, and we should have plenty of futons. That sound fine to you, Saber?”

    He looked back at Saber and saw her eyes opened wide in fear with limbs rigid; her mug frozen between the table and her lips. The look Saber gave towards him was quite easy to translate.

    Oh shit

    “Shirou,” said Saber moving closer towards him so she couldn't be overheard, “I won’t be able to protect you if I’m in the other room with them. Even though I may be close, it is still too dangerous when Servants are involved.”

    “I’m not sure if I can do anything about that, Saber. Fuji-nee’s father is technically the owner of this property until I come of age. I’d rather not push my luck with her. Besides, it looks like Sakura and Fuji-nee might be staying here for a while so you might as well get to know them better.”

    “I suppose... I would rather not be force out onto the streets. But Shirou, that still doesn't solve how I will protect you at night.”

    “Hey! Stop whispering over there, you two,” said Fuji-nee. She grabbed Saber’s hand and began to pull her towards the door. “Come on, Saber-san. Let’s go to the west wing. You can choose which futon you’d like. Well, except mine of course; the one covered in tigers.”

    With Sakura in tow, Fuji-nee dragged Saber along with her to the west wing. All the way to the door, Saber pleaded with her eyes for Shirou for help.

    “Sorry, Saber. It looked like you’re on your own for this one,” replied Shirou with a sigh.

    ===

    Shirou stared up at the ceiling of his room and lay patiently on his futon as the minutes passed by. With Saber under the watchful eye of not only Fuji-nee but Sakura as well, it looked like they’d be stuck at home tonight. As such, he’d be sleeping early instead of patrolling the streets of Fuyuki, which was just as well considering his body still felt tender from his recently healed wounds. If he had to fight or dodge like on that first night against Lancer, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to survive as long as he had on that first night in his current condition.

    From the room over, he could hear Saber, Sakura and Fuji-nee’s muffled conversation. Idly, he wondered what the girls in their room were talking about. He’d instructed Saber to pretend she didn’t speak Japanese if they ever asked her a question related to the war or her supernatural origins, however given how much conversation he overheard in the room over it seemed Saber was doing just fine. Eventually the talk died down and his home was once more plunged into silence and darkness. He let several minutes pass just in case before slipping out of bed.

    Opening the door into the yard, he breathed in the chilly winter air. Taking care to not make a sound, he tiptoed across the grass and opened the door into shed. The door still had the gash where Lancer had missed his attack and nearly cut the door in half. Perhaps once the war was done, he could focus on repairs. Sitting down on the soft towel in the center of the shed, he place the bottoms of both his feet together before shutting his eyes. Taking a breath of cool air, he focused on the task at hand.

    Ever since Kiritsugu had taught him how to practice magecraft he had done this ritual almost every night. The fact was the tool shed was the only location he could have any privacy to practice in peace. Now, more than ever, he needed to make sure his reinforcement was working correctly. Although he might have been a failure of a magus, with Saber counting on him to win the war he had to have ‘something’ to support her with; even if it was something as small as reinforcement.

    He thought about the other masters most likely looking for each other in Fuyuki. Were they like him and Saber? Or perhaps their relationships were different. Were they fighting one another like Saber and Berserker had last night? Shaking his head, he pushed those thoughts away and emptied his mind before beginning tonight’s magecraft practice.

    ======

    - White -
    Blood was splattered against the pristine white apartment wall and oozed into a pool on the ceramic kitchen flooring. In the air was the smell of ozone and smoke. His breath was low and shallow as he desperately tried to contain the blood pouring from his wound.
    “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to... “ she said.
    “It’s okay...” he said, silencing her words. “We... all make... mistakes.”
    “Too many...” she whispered in reply.
    =====

    Author's Notes: As this is a Nasuverse fic, it only makes sense that food porn would return. For those of you that are looking for more action, you'll be happy to hear it's coming next chapter.
    Last edited by Vigilantia; May 16th, 2013 at 08:30 PM.

  5. #25
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Wow - that's actually a lot longer than it looked. And still good. I especially like the "warning."
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  6. #26
    Dapper Deathwing YeOfLittleFaith's Avatar
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    I must say, I quite liked the moment in the park.
    Another good job with this chapter.



    Quote Originally Posted by RadiantBeam View Post
    Not my fault Shirou is an awesome bro to lesbians.

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    夜魔 Nightmare Cascade's Avatar
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    When it's concerning Taiga, I read that as:
    A HUGE BATTLESHIP, "Fatty Glutton" IS APPROACHING FAST

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    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YeOfLittleFaith View Post
    I must say, I quite liked the moment in the park.
    Another good job with this chapter.
    Thanks. I'm personally bad at and dislike writing slice of life and emotional scenes. Michael Bay Splosions and epic sword fights are so much easier to describe in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cascade View Post
    When it's concerning Taiga, I read that as:
    A HUGE BATTLESHIP, "Fatty Glutton" IS APPROACHING FAST
    Well Taiga really is as big as a battleshi...*THUNK* (gets knocked out by tora-shinai)

    Anyways, next chapter we return to our Agents and Rin/Archer. Archer gets to don (metaphorical) his Sherlock Holmes hat as well.

  9. #29
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Oh, that sounds promising . . .
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




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    Threads of Fate: Chapter 6

    Definitions:

    Executor - A rank in the church that is given to individuals that are tasked with killing demons and other heretical beings (such as Dead Apostles). To have the rank of Executor means the individual is a hardened killer that has passed brutal Church training to become mankind’s weapon against the supernatural.

    Enforcer - An agent of the Magus Association. Functionally equivalent to an Executor except instead of burning all traces of a Dead Apostle, they will attempt to preserve their research/knowledge and return it to the Magus Association for study.

    Boundary Field - an area of effect magical field. The area can vary between a square meter to several kilometers. The effect depends on what the user casted. An example of a boundary field would be the alarm spell in the Emiya Residence.

    ===

    Author’s notes: I blame my IRL editor for this late chapter. Also, evidently I mis-spelled the Agency’s name incorrectly this entire time. It’s Shin’i not Shin’ai. This is really embarrassing. Also, I lied last time. I had to actually cut this chapter short because I hit the word limit quicker than I thought.

    As usual, comments and constructive flames are welcome.

    =====

    Day 5: February 5th
    - Night Shift -

    “McNaba-kun! I’m Home!!!!” yelled Sable.

    McNab turned from the computer in the kitchen to see Sable emerging from the doorway with a whole slew of groceries in hand. Wearing only a white sweater and jeans for the winter weather and a black cap that covered her blonde hair, he watched her as she slowly made her way towards the kitchen with her copious amount of grocery bags. His mouth twitched in disapproval for a moment upon seeing the six-pack of beer he saw in her hands.

    Slamming the front door with her foot, she gingerly handled the bags she’d brought in. He watched with morbid fascination as she headed towards the numerous obstacles that stood between her and the kitchen. He compared it to watching a train wreck in slow motion.

    “Uh, do you want a hand with that, ma’am?” he asked. Any other sane person would have said yes to his request.

    “No, no. I’m perfectly fine,” she replied nonchalantly. The fact that he couldn’t even see her eyes because they were blocked by the height of the bags made him doubt the veracity of that claim.

    He cringed slightly as she almost tripped over a shoe, almost collided with a bookshelf and almost lost her grip on the bags when she bumped into the wall. With several meters to go, she bumped her foot on an unopened cardboard box, labeled RS, and hopped around on one foot precariously before finally dumping the contents of the bags on the kitchen table. An assortment of foodstuffs, ready-to-eat and microwavable meals slumped from the plastic bags. He sighed. Hopefully, the ready access to instant meals would stop her from stealing all the food that he made for himself.

    Pulling a bottle of beer from one of the bags she proceeded to quaff down almost the entire contents before coming back up for air. Slamming the empty can of Sapporo on the table, she gave a satisfied *ahh* before collapsing onto a nearby seat. Her face sported a satisfied grin before she gave a cute burp that she failed to cover with her hand.

    McNab resisted the urge to rub the bridge of his nose. She was unorganised, unprofessional, and drank way too much before noon. The fact she was his superior made him question his higher ups’ intellect at Shin’i... yet despite all that, he knew he could depend on her when things went south on an operation. She had saved his life less than twenty-four hours ago and shown up right when he needed help, so he couldn’t completely complain about how she worked. He just sorely wished she was more professional about about it.

    Rolling his eyes once more in annoyance, McNab returned his attention to his laptop. In his peripheral vision, he watched as Sable stuffed her recently acquired loot into the fridge. He thought he saw another can of Sapporo disappear from the six-pack but he didn’t turn his head to check.

    “What’re you doing?” she asked. Light arms suddenly pushed him forward as she leaned on his back and almost made him spill the milk tea in front of him. She lowered her head adjacent to his to look at the screen. The pungent smell of alcohol and beer assailed his nose and he made a conscious effort to exhale. Glancing at the case of Sapporo beer, he confirmed that two additional cans were opened besides the one she watched her down. He thought about berating her for drinking and driving simultaneously from the store but then thought better of it; at least when he talked to a statue it’d wear down from eventual erosion.

    The kitchen table had been transformed since yesterday. What had been large folders and a slew of reports had been neatly placed to the side. In its place was a complete workstation made up of a laptop and three more monitors. A program compiled on one screen while multiple camera angles of Fuyuki flashed by on the other.

    “I’m finishing setting up a way to detect our vampire friend,” said McNab as he pointed to one screen, “If you’ll see here, the Dead show up cold on thermal imaging from yesterday’s recording.” The screen showed the infrared recording of the Dead he’d killed in the alley yesterday; courtesy of the auto-recording software from his HUD glasses. Sable could say what she wanted about cheap meals and lack of vacation pay, but Shin’i always gave them the best toys.

    Compared to the white hot shell casings on the floor, the corpse was the same color as the bricks on the nearby buildings; nearly invisible in comparison. “By using multiple sources I’ve set up in the city, I can cross-reference moving civilians with their heat signature and find any active Dead. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find that Dead Apostle before she strikes again.”

    “That’s ingenious!” said Sable as she hugged McNab rather tightly, “I knew I brought you along for a good reason.”

    “Ach, Sable... can't breathe... ” he said in vain. The fact he was being deprived of oxygen was curiously less uncomfortable than the feeling of two rather disconcerting soft sensations that were rubbing into his back. Rapidly slapping her arms, he tried to tap out before the woman hugged him to death.

    After a moment, Sable finally released the tall man and he collapsed into his chair gasping for breath. Taking a sip from his tea to wet his throat, he turn to Sable to see her returning from the fridge with a plate and sandwich. A certain Gouda and Pastrami sandwich he made and knew he labeled in the fridge. His eyebrow twitched in annoyance but he didn’t say anything about it.

    “Now, there is still the issue of misappropriation of Agency funding regarding transportation...” started McNab before he took a sip of his tea.

    She shrugged nonchalantly. “You didn’t seem to mind when I saved you yesterday. Besides, isn’t it actually being used for transportation?” she said before biting down on the sandwich again. He couldn’t fault her on that logic... and yet...

    “All I’m saying is you could have picked a less conspicuous vehicle. One that doesn’t turn every person’s eye when you drive down the road. This is still supposed to be a low-profile operation. Driving around in a car that could compete in NASCAR is not the way to do it.”

    Having consumed her sandwich, she leaned backwards against the pale white wall. Like a petulant child, she crossed her arms and gave a loud “hmph;” refusing to look at him.

    “You’re no fun,” she stated.

    “Well, maybe ‘fun’ can pay for the damages and repairs to my car yesterday. If you hadn’t spent over three-fourths of our budget on your need for speed, we might still have the money to replace my car from yesterday. Believe it or not, I don’t like carpooling around the city,” he said.

    By the time he had returned to his car in the morning hours, the black Corolla had been so utterly destroyed it looked as if a mob had played football with the car frame before getting sideswiped by a train. Suffice to say, he doubted “Dead Apostle Undead Mob” was listed under the car’s insurance and he was pretty sure Amarante wouldn’t be in Japan’s insurance database. It also meant that they were down to one car from now on. Maybe this would be a lesson to Shin’i command to not hand the proverbial keys of the mission to Sable next time; at the very least not the finances.

    “Actually... It wasn’t all spent on the car...” she said. She gave him a forced smile before scratching her head nervously.

    “Do I even want to know?” he said rhetorically before rolling his eyes. He had a sinking feeling he wasn’t going to like where this conversation was headed.

    “Undoubtedly not,” she said. Fishing through her pockets, she pulled out a cigarette and munched on the end of the stick. “So that’s our resident Dead Apostle?” she said pointing to a fuzzy picture on one of his screens.

    Keenly aware how she had just derailed the conversation away from her spending, he turned his attention to the screen. The picture of Amarante was also a capture from his HUD glasses yesterday. Standing eerily shorter than her undead minions, she had a smug grin upon her face that looked down upon his status even as she was forced to physically look upward to meet his eyes.

    Sable stood silently and looked at the picture of the Dead Apostle. She had gone so quiet he had to turn and make sure she was even still there or see if she had wandered to the fridge for another sandwich. However, she was still there with one hand around her chest while the other held her chin; her eyes filled with a fire that he hadn’t seen before when she stepped in. Her gaze burned into the screen, memorizing Amarante’s face and features.

    “So that’s our killer,” she finally said. “Do we know who she is? What her background is?”

    “Uh... yes,” McNab replied abruptly. He’d been caught off guard from her question. “I’ve sent up a report to Shin’i and done some research of my own. Nothing much has come up from my contacts but I think I’ve found...”

    However, before he could elaborate further, he was cut off by the beeping sound coming from his laptop. Whirling back to the computer screens, he took a look at the flashing notification.

    McNab closed a news article on the “Miyama Killer” and brought up the camera that showed the most land area of Miyama. Bright blue bars highlighted the areas where the Dead had been discovered. Unlike movies, detecting events like these weren’t easy. It wasn’t an issue of finding the Dead but rather filtering out all the false positives. A group of drunk high school kids were, unfortunately, nearly indistinguishable from a group of Dead from a far enough away distance; too much noise and inaccuracy to make a match.

    McNab scrutinized the video, looking at the movement in the pictures. Zooming in with another camera located closer to one of sites, he saw a crowd banging and crowding against a home. Their lethargic movement and sulken stature told him all he needed to know.

    “Multiple contacts. The Dead are attacking several areas in Fuyuki. Two in west Miyama. One east... wait, three in west Miyama now. Blood hell... Another in southern Miyama. That’s over 5 locations at once. Looks like Amarante is changing her hunting grounds away from Shinto,” he said. Making a note of the locations, he began jotting down the locations on a notepad.

    “How many Dead are we looking at?” said Sable as she looked at the screen.

    “Less than yesterday. From what I can see, at most several dozen or so Dead per site,” he said.

    “That’s not a lot. Amarante is getting greedy... or desperate,” she said, grabbing his mug and taking a sip of his tea.

    “This isn’t North America. Most folks don’t have the capability to repel over a dozen undead by themselves. Those people don’t have a lot of time. I estimate they have five minutes tops before the Dead are upon them,” said McNab. Rising from the table, he headed over to the bedroom.

    Reaching under the bed frame, he grabbed a large plastic case and propped it onto the bed sheets. With a clack, he flicked open the heavy case and revealed a black shotgun and a pouch of shells that lay on soft foam. Picking up one of the blue shells, he examined the ornate cross insignia etched into the side of the shell.

    “Holy Fire rounds” the technicians at Shin’i had called them, a gift from the Church. In their cores were specially blessed oils converted into a gel meant to ignite before the slug itself detonated. The result was a biologically and structurally superfluous chest wound; immolation included. It was ammunition specially made to quickly cut through a Dead Apostle’s minions. And for the vampire herself... well, he had something special for her as well.

    Slamming fifteen Holy Fire shells into the shotgun, he racked the slide before heading back into the kitchen.

    “Come on, let’s go...?” Turning, McNab found himself talking to an empty kitchen. His partner was already gone, a slight open crack in the door where she had somehow left the house without him noticing. He threw his hands up in frustration, his right hand slightly lower due to him holding the shotgun. “Oh for fu...”

    Looking at the table, he picked up the piece of paper where he had scrawled the locations of the attacks. Two of the addresses were circled in big red ink with arrows pointing to a note in the corner: “Divide and Conquer! Dibs on these ones first! =P”

    “Funny, wasn’t it just yesterday you were complaining to me about going off alone?” he muttered to the kitchen before stuffing the paper with the locations into his suit pocket. He’d have to talk with her about Agency procedure when they got back; assuming one of them didn’t die a horrible and very painful death tonight.

    Luckily, it seems she remembered to bring along her cellphone with her. At least they would still be in communication. Unfortunately, if the keys on the table were anything to go by, she had forgotten to take the keys to the GT-R with her. Taking the keys by his index finger, he twirled and jingled them for a moment before looking back at the front door.

    “Ma’am, how do you plan on driving without keys?” he said, questioning the door.

    The sudden roar of an engine outside the door caught his attention. However, unlike the sports car she’d leased, this one had a higher pitch. It definitely wasn’t the GT-R.

    Running for the door, he opened it to see Sable, helmet over her head and her cigarette still between her lips, sitting on the seat of a Hayabusa. Waving towards him with a grin, she shut the helmet’s visor before hitting the accelerator and driving off onto the main street; almost hitting a streetlight on her way out.

    He stopped and thought for a moment. “Wait... when did we get a motorcycle? Wait...! Isn’t she still drunk?”

    ======

    - Escalation -


    Standing on the edge of the tall skyscraper, Archer looked out at the city of Fuyuki. Despite the bone-numbing wind at this altitude, he felt no different than if he were atop Rin’s house. Servants weren’t affected by minor factors like the weather. Looking outward, the tall skyline twinkled like stars as Shinto’s office lights brightened the dark sky. From his vantage point and his reinforced eyes, he could see all of the city.

    In a city of over two million, he counted only several dozen cars on the streets at the moment; excluding Police patrols and trucks from out of town. The city was paralyzed by what the press had dubbed the Miyama killer to describe the numerous murders and missing people within a very short time span. An entire family dead from numerous deep stab wounds. Several students gone missing in the night. A father that never returned from the grocery store.

    Normally he would have attributed it to Servants fighting, but that was before he’d seen that Dead Apostle yesterday. His memory was still hazy since Rin’s rough summoning. However, he was completely sure there were no Dead Apostles when he fought in the war. She was another new variable he’d have to factor into his plans; just like the other new people that had appeared in Fuyuki recently. It looked like he’d have to shelve his plans for that idealist idiot until he got a hold of the situation here.

    “Archer...”

    There was Caster as well. Out of everything in the war, she scared him the most. A Dead Apostle showing up out of the blue was a danger. However, for a brand new Servant to appear... a new Servant with unknown abilities, an unknown Master and a new Noble Phantasm. There were too many unknowns. He would definitely have to keep his eye on her.

    “Archer...”

    Then there was Saber. Of all the...

    “IDIOT SERVANT!”

    Archer turned his head at Tohsaka, who at the moment looked as if she was going to slap him if he tested her patience anymore. Her arms were crossed and her eyes had the characteristic annoyed look she used when talking down to Shirou. However, all that did was place a grin of amusement upon his face. It was odd, he hadn’t enjoyed teasing Rin this much before his time with Alaya. Perhaps it was a result of him finally know more than the vaunted Tohsaka Rin for once. Knowledge that had been gained for a lifetime of servitude.

    “Idiot, when I call your name, you’re supposed to answer me,” she said.

    “Very well, Master Rin Tohsaka. What may your servant, Archer, assist you with?” he said before giving a deep bow.

    Rin’s only reply was to glower at him some more. She raised her sleeve to reveal the two remaining command spells on her arm. Something told him maybe he’d pushed the limits of her patience for tonight. That was fine, there was always tomorrow...

    “I believe you mentioned you were surveying the area bounded field set by Caster here?” said Archer. He didn’t let any emotion show on his face lest Rin believe her threat had actually worked. The last thing he needed to do was inflate Rin’s already overconfident ego, if that was even possible.

    “Ah yes, that’s what I was about to talk about... while you were busy day dreaming,” said Rin before giving him another angry stare. “Anyways, I’ve dispelled the boundary fields in the building. It looks like the fields were syphoning lifeforce from the people below. We were lucky I was able to detect it. Whoever set these up put in a lot of effort to make sure they were undetected.”

    “What would have happened if we hadn’t gotten to them in time?” Archer asked. For the past several hours, they had been following the magical signature left by either a master or a servant. Their patrol of the city had led them to Shinto where Rin had picked up the faint telltale signs of several boundary fields. Some of the fields were in restaurants or bars while others covered the entirety of an office building.

    “That’s the odd thing,” said Rin, her eyes observing the bright skyline of Fuyuki in thought. “The field was relatively low power, designed to be undetected. At most, the office workers below would have felt fatigued or sick. Although I’ll eventually have to fight whoever set them up... I respect them for adhering to the Magus’ code and leaving innocent people out of the war.”

    “And if you have to kill them? Even if they’re a naive idiotic master?” he said.

    “You’re talking about Emiya Shirou,” she said, correctly guessing the meanings in his word. He nodded, agreeing with her.

    “He’s not our top priority right now. I know him well enough that he won’t be a problem for us... not until the end. We can deal with him when the time comes, if we assume he and Saber even survive that long,” she said.

    “And if he was right in front of you? Alone and vulnerable, an easy target?” he said.

    Rin turned towards Archer and his grey eyes met hers. He held his gaze towards her and she towards him. Although he hadn’t stated it directly, Rin knew exactly what he was referring to. It was a challenge; a test to see if Rin was ready for the inevitable results of the war. War was unforgiving and cruel, every winner in war had had to trample underneath the bodies of their opponent to reach victory. He had to know if she was ready for that.

    Finally, she broke the gaze and stared over the cityscape before her. Moving her hair back in place against the night wind, she said, “If he does something like that, then I will kill him. I already warned him today. If he can’t understand those simple rules then he doesn’t deserve to be a master.”

    Archer nodded. It was the answer he was hoping for. He wasn’t sure if Rin would do it if the time came but hopefully she wouldn’t need to. One surprise blow from Kanshou or Bakuya was all he’d need to kill that fool. The aftermath he was sure he’d be able to talk himself out of with Rin. There was, however, something else that was bothering him at the moment.

    “Rin, there’s something else. About the Dead Apostle I told you about yesterday,” said Archer.

    “I’ve talked to Kotomine. The Church will deal with the matter,” Rin replied casually.

    “We’re not going after her?” he said with surprise.

    Rin shook her head. “No. Going after the Dead Apostle will spread our resources too thin. I might not be an Executor but I know what it takes to hunt down and kill a Dead Apostle. It’ll take us too much time and energy to kill her and, as much as I hate to admit it, we can’t afford to waste our time and energy on something like that; especially if it might lead us to an ambush by another Master. Besides, you said there were two people chasing them down. Let’s just leave it to them.”

    Archer watched the streetlights below as he mulled over what Rin said. Normally, he would agree but what he’d seen made him nervous. His years of experience putting down various rogue Magi and Dead Apostles had given him a keen instinct in tracking these wanted fugitives wherever they appeared. Dead Apostles were notoriously reclusive. They didn’t fight Executors or Magus Association Enforcer because they knew they would eventually become trapped and killed. A fugitive doesn’t fight the law let alone pursue them out in the open as this Dead Apostle did yesterday. This vampire didn’t act rationally and that fact made him nervous, another unknown on his list that was growing too long.

    There were, however, certain exceptions. Closing his eyes, Archer remembered several missions where vampires had decided simply to let loose their powers on innocent people. These weren’t the times that they wanted more power or more energy to live longer. Those Dead Apostles reveled in the slaughter they brought upon the people in the cities or towns, as if the thousands of deaths they’d caused had been but a game. “You don’t shed tears when you cut a tree or crush a bug do you?” had been the response of one of the vampires. His magic had turned an entire city into a charnel pit and the skyscrapers a sepulcher for the once vibrant life that inhabited the streets. He’d made sure to make that Apostle’s death a slow and painful one.

    His thoughts turned to Sakura, Issei, Ayako Mitsuzuri and Fuji-nee; even after all these years he thought of the silly school teacher as if she were an older sister. If there was even the slightest possibility they’d be harmed because he ignored this vampire... Even with his lifetime service under Alaya, with all the war and death and desolation, he still knew what was right from wrong. He wouldn’t let his hate of a naive fool jeopardize the lives of everyone he cared for in Fuyuki, no matter how much Emiya Shirou deserved it.

    “Archer?” said Rin in confusion. He opened his eyes and turned to Rin.

    “Rin, I disagree with your call. Leaving the Dead Apostle alone is always a mistake. The problem may seem small, but if we leave them alone then all of Fuyuki may be swept up in her machinations. In any case, you’ll remember I said her two pursuers were also ambushed and had to retreat,” he said.

    “I still haven’t figured out who those two are,” he thought to himself idly.

    “Oh, finally remembering something of your past life now? It sounds like you were quite the ‘van Hellsing’ if you know this much about vampires,” she said with a wry smile.

    “Possibly. As I said, my combat and general knowledge is returning quite quickly. It is the personal memories that are still hazy” he said, the lie prepared well ahead of time. “Perhaps if I had been summoned properly...”

    “Oh shut it! If it wasn’t for thosestupidclocks...” Rin’s voice slowly died off into a mumble as she tried to find a rationale for her failed summoning other than ‘she screwed up.’ Her continued grumbling under her breath told Archer she had yet to find one. His lips curled upwards in a smile at her frustration.

    However, his enjoyment was cut short as something in the far distance caught his attention. Despite the fact he had been conversing with Tohsaka, part of his attention had been surveying the ground below. It was his duty as a servant to watch over Tohsaka as a bodyguard and, as such, maintain situational awareness around them. He had originally been looking for a certain Berserker and albino loli or perhaps the dark blue of Lancer’s clothing who had disappeared after their encounter at Homurahara High school. As for the other servants, it was unlikely for Caster to leave her home territory where she’d most likely set up numerous boundary fields and Assassin, for obvious reasons, would not be seen. What he hadn’t expected to see were several hordes of Dead breaking down doors and pouring into houses in Miyama.

    “Rin, that Dead Apostle is attacking Miyama,” he said calmly. His tone of voice was equivalent to someone ordering coffee.

    “...and that damn cat... huh? What is it, Archer?” she said. His words had roused her from her ‘blame allocation’ stupor. Placing more mana into his reinforcement, Archer’s eyes looked far into the distance at the attack. Although the attacks were taking place several miles away, with his reinforced vision he could see clearly even the individual house numbers.

    “The Dead Apostle is attacking several locations in Miyama,” Archer said, turning towards her. “Rin, what are your orders?”

    She looked far off in the direction of the attacks. Her brow was rumpled in uncertainty and she bit at her lip, trying to come to a decision. Finally, she nodded her head as if to convince herself of her decision, before turning towards him. When she spoke, it was stern and controlled; with no doubt.

    “Take me to the closest location, Archer,” she ordered. He nodded in return. Taking her by the arm, the master and servant duo leapt from the skyscraper.

    ===

    Archer watched the entrances of the blood covered room and surveyed the scene before him. Blood splatter and the remains of limbs and bodies lay scattered within the hallway, the remains of the battle scant moments ago. They had arrived to see the house being swarmed by the Dead. Compared to the nightmares of his past, such a paltry force couldn’t even compare to the Cities of the Dead he’d had to cleanse. Kanshou and Bakuya had made short work of the several dozen undead. He’d cleaved them. Decapitated and bisected them. Thrown both twin swords through them, the yin and yang swords cutting down a dozen life so much wheat. He’d pierced through five with a single projected sword. With each move the undead corpses had fallen with such ease Archer couldn’t even say it was a challenge. With each attack, blood splattered against the wall and pooled onto the floor as he moved forward.

    But despite all his power. Despite all his strength and dexterity, he wasn’t able to save them.

    He looked at the three corpses that lay on the ground. Two parents and a daughter.

    He avoided looking at the parents. Both had sacrificed their lives to protect their children for several more seconds, meaning the swarm had fallen upon them first. Their bodies had been nothing bits of red flesh and bleached-white bone by the time he’d hewn through the Dead that had been feasting on their corpses. He couldn’t even identify them by their physical features anymore.

    Unlike the parents, he could see the fear and desperation in the older sister’s final moments. The daughter, she couldn’t have been more than eighteen years old, seemed to plead at him as she held the remains of her throat with her hands. Blood soaked the shirt she wore from the neckline almost to her waist. He examined the massive gaping hole within her neck that used to be her throat. Death had most likely been filled with horror and despair as the undead had piled on top of her, their expressionless faces closing in to feast upon her in her final moments.

    Taking his cloak, he wiped the blood that marred her face. She couldn’t have been older than twenty years old. With reverence, he placed his hand over her face and slowly closed her eyes. He’d had to do this many times to too many good people. Innocent victims, allies from the Church, friends that just wanted to help him... Good people...

    Archer closed his eyes and cleared his mind of those memories from long ago, lest they return to haunt him.

    He wondered... had she lived long enough to see her killers be cut to pieces by Bakuya and Kanshou before death had taken her? Had she seen how close hope had been? How she had, by throwing herself at her attackers despite how futile it might have been, she had bought the time to save her little sister’s life.

    Looking up, he watched as Rin placed the final touches on her memory wipe charm. They had gotten into the room just in time to save the youngest daughter before the horde descended upon her. He couldn’t be sure, but he guessed her age to be about the same area as Rins. She might have even gone to the same school as her. However, even though she would survive, her life was already ruined. Bother her parents and her sister were dead. His thoughts turned to her future. She was now stripped of everything familiar to her and thrust into a world of the unknown. Where would she go after all of this and how would she go on?

    White hot rage burned inside him and he analyzed and ran through different scenarios in his mind. Could he have saved them? Could he have gotten here faster or been more alert when he had been surveying the city? He pushed those thoughts aside. That was neither here nor there. There were other lives at stake and he didn’t have the luxury of time at the moment. There would be time to think about his actions later... Too much time...

    “Rin. We have to go. The Dead are still out there,” he said.

    Rin finished her spell. Looking up, she gave him with an armor piercing stare that even gave him pause for a moment. There was a fire in her eyes, one he hadn’t seen before even on that night when he fought Lancer. Her knuckles were clenched white in anger and, for a moment, he thought she was going to yell at him. However, the moment subsided and he watched as Rin bottled her anger away. With a simple nod, she followed him outside the door.

    They wove their way through the bodies and corpses of the Dead in the house hallways while walking back outside. On the steps of the house, he noted several bodies had begun to wither and dissolve into dust. Without the Dead Apostle’s magic binding their bodies to the physical world, Gaia’s force would expel their form from the world. The Dead, like the Apostles themselves, were an unnatural element in the world and the physics and rules of reality were exerting against their existence. Without prana or blood to maintain their forms, they would disappear.

    Passing through the broken front door, he had walked halfway across the driveway before Rin’s footsteps paused behind him. Turning around, he saw her staring backwards at the house they had just left. Her eyes seemed pensive as she gave the house one last look before returning her attention back to him.

    “Rin?” asked Archer.

    “Let’s go, Archer. The other sites might have survivors,” she said. Rather hastily, she brushed past him and headed towards the street; her twin-tails flowing behind her from the wind. He watched the back of her crimson jacket as she continued walking away. Although she had said otherwise, the saddened look within her eyes told him Rin didn’t believe her own words.

    ===

    - Crimson -

    Blood pooled on the floor from her fatal wounds and stained the wooden stage around her. She felt tired... oh so very tired. Her vision was blurred yet she could still see the damage and the light from fires that resulted from the battle mere moments before. A black silouette was walking towards her, chuckling and clapping his hands in rapid applause.
    “My my... you are quite the skilled foe. I applaud you for your acting and performance. Long has it been since I have seen such a magnificent play... And yet... it seems such a waste for you to perish so soon. The world can ill afford such an ineloquent end to a talented actress...” the figure said.
    Too tired to even respond, she felt her head collapse onto the stage and her vision faded to black; unconsciousness taking her.

    =====
    Last edited by Vigilantia; March 17th, 2013 at 08:18 PM.

  11. #31
    Dapper Deathwing YeOfLittleFaith's Avatar
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    Goddamn it Archer. You can recognize right from wrong and you're still the same person that gave himself to Alaya for the sake of a foolish, yet beautiful dream, yet you're still planning your cosmic tantrum even with all these different factors.



    Quote Originally Posted by RadiantBeam View Post
    Not my fault Shirou is an awesome bro to lesbians.

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    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    I felt highly insulted there for a minute - but my brain eventually caught up to what I was reading.

    Still looks good.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




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    >15 shells in a single shotgun
    ...I am assuming this isn't anywhere remotely near non-Title II weaponry.

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    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arch-Magos Winter View Post
    >15 shells in a single shotgun
    ...I am assuming this isn't anywhere remotely near non-Title II weaponry.
    I'm not completely familiar with American firearm laws, but I don't think the shotgun is Title-II. It's pump action, longer than the legal barrel and total length and is 12 gauge. And no, it's not automatic/semi-automatic. Good old pure pump action.

    Quote Originally Posted by YeOfLittleFaith View Post
    Goddamn it Archer. You can recognize right from wrong and you're still the same person that gave himself to Alaya for the sake of a foolish, yet beautiful dream, yet you're still planning your cosmic tantrum even with all these different factors.
    Revenge is a powerful motive, something you'll find if I ever get to the midpoint of this story. >.<

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    I felt highly insulted there for a minute - but my brain eventually caught up to what I was reading.

    Still looks good.
    Yeah, I have two editors. One is the one that holds up my work most of the time >_<
    Last edited by Vigilantia; February 5th, 2013 at 06:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    I'm not completely familiar with American firearm laws, but I don't think the shotgun is Title-II. It's pump action, longer than the legal barrel and total length and is 12 gauge. And no, it's not automatic/semi-automatic. Good old pure pump action.



    Revenge is a powerful motive, something you'll find if I ever get to the midpoint of this story. >.<



    Yeah, I have two editors. One is the one that holds up my work most of the time >_<
    >Pump action shotgun
    >15 rounds
    >12 gauge
    ...My god man. That is one fucking LONG shotgun. Like, near uselessly long.

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    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arch-Magos Winter View Post
    >Pump action shotgun
    >15 rounds
    >12 gauge
    ...My god man. That is one fucking LONG shotgun. Like, near uselessly long.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kel-Tec_KSG

    http://world.guns.ru/shotgun/tr/shot...-uts-15-e.html

    Or a shotgun of similar design.

  17. #37
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    It certainly looks impressive.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  18. #38
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    Threads of Fate: Chapter 7

    Author's Notes: This chapter was delayed so many times I feel like shooting myself in the face. Argh... Felt like I ran a marathon just getting this chapter out. As usual, I hope you guys enjoy. Any criticisms/comments just throw them on the thread.

    =====

    - Threads of Fate -
    - Chapter 7 -

    - Inductive Reasoning -

    “Uhh... Archer...” said Rin.

    “Yes, Rin?” replied Archer.

    “Where was the place again?” she asked him.

    “There,” he said, pointing at the house in front of them. Rin shot Archer a withering look, before looking at the home before them. His master was not amused.

    They stood in front of a rather normal home. Like many of the newer homes built within the recent years to accompany Fuyuki’s growing population, this one had been built by template and stood like a clone to many of the other houses beside it. The home was completely unremarkable except for the fact it was still in pristine condition considering he’d just watched the Dead battering down the house’s windows and doors several minutes ago from his view atop the Shinto towers.

    “There... as in the broken and Dead infested house before us?” she said with an arched eyebrow. The oozing sarcasm dripping from every word wasn’t lost upon him.

    With over ten years of tracking Dead Apostles, he hadn’t made a mistake like this before, which is why he was certain there was something wrong here. This was the site of one of the attacks, he was certain of it.

    From a nearby alley, he watched as a midnight black cat leapt up the brick dividing wall, sending one of the neighbor’s ceramic flower pots tumbling to the ground. The unfortunate crash of the tulips caused Rin to turn her head towards the sound.

    Reinforcing his eyes, Archer examined the situation before him. A casual examination of the homes surrounding the target location led to irrelevant data: children going to sleep, a father watching tv, a mother putting her kids to sleep, a motorcycle parked facing the wrong side of the road. This information was inconsequential and he filtered it out.

    On the front lawn, he noticed three distinctive patterns on the grass. Memories flooded his mind as he remembered the days when he had had to track several vampires across forests and rocky mountains. He reinforced his eyes and examined the tracks.

    He looked down at the first set of tracks imprinted on the lawn. There were numerous shoeprints upon the grass, at least a dozen if not more. The prints seemed random, their paths mingling and meandered between one another, causing the lawn to mix and churn to a muddy mess from the recent rain. From what he could recognized, however, he saw a chaotic mess. These prints were strewn all over the place; shoeprints that weaved like those at a drunken college fraternity party. Some shoeprints dragged, creating muddy streaks following each step, while others their prints slanted left and right like a swaying ship upon the sea. He stopped analysing them, there’d be nothing gained from a more in depth examination.

    He looked at the next set of shoeprints; these ones separate and alone. Unknown to many people, you could tell a great deal about a person simply by looking at their tracks. The shoe’s shape and wide dimensions told him the person had been male. Given the recent rainfall, soil consistency, and water penetration rate, he gauge the man’s to be at least two-hundred pounds with a shoe size more commonly found in Western countries. The shoe’s sole design was flat with minimal traction from the treads, footwear meant for business rather than utility. The heavy slant at the front of the shoeprint along with the wide stride told him the person had been running at a neck breaking pace.

    The third set of shoe prints, from the inner toe angle and smaller print spacing, told him they were female. The flat shoeprint angle told him she had been walking, although, the way her every fourth step angled sharply to the left or right when she moved to check her surroundings told Archer she had been cautious. It also told him she’d been slow, taking each of her steps with deliberate care. Normally, when a person walked to a location their feet would naturally dig into the ground when pushing forward, creating a slightly heavier imprint at the front of the sole. Her prints were completely level. Archer surmised she was also right handed given the way her right foot strides were slightly longer in length than her left foot.

    All the prints disappeared onto a perfectly level lawn several meters from the front of the house. Checking the footprints, he failed to see any signs of backtracking, although he doubted any of them were trying to evade tracking. It was as if all three set of prints had disappeared into thin air.

    He focused his attention on the house. The front window was large enough that he could peer into the living room inside. The room was lit up and the television was on although he couldn’t see anyone inside. It was while examining the room that he found the Dead Apostle’s mistake. For all the time spent into an illusion, all it took was a single loose thread to unravel it.

    Creating an illusion was easy. Creating an illusion that would fool people examining it was a considerably more difficult feat. All it took to unravel the best tapestries of illusions was the single tug of a thread.

    He examined the pendulum clock that sat on the wall. The time on the clock was all wrong. This might have been unremarkable if it wasn’t for the fact the clock hands were flipping backwards in time. A few moments of watching the clock unraveled the otherwise complex illusion. The hands would move forward by several seconds before, as if by magic, the clocks would reset itself by five seconds. Not move back but literally teleport backwards.

    It was a simple mistake. A simple loose thread.

    In the time it had taken Archer to surmise all this information, Rin had looked away from the commotion the cat had made and returned her attention back towards him.

    “Archer, we don’t have time to waste like this...” Rin said.

    “There’s a boundary field centered on the house,” he said, interrupting her. “It’s an illusion to cover the attack. Can you look for it?”

    “What... how did you... I mean...” said Rin. Caught by surprise, she quickly recovered her demeanor. With a simple nod she said, “Here, let me check.”

    Rin slowly approached towards the house, hand held up in front of her. She stopped after several steps and waved her hand back and forth as if she were wiping dust off a shop window before nodding in agreement.

    “You’re right. The field here isn’t strong but whoever made it is experienced with covering their tracks. I couldn’t even detect the magical signature until I was right up to it,” she said.

    Rin placed the tips of her fingers on to what he could only presume were the edge of the Boundary Field before she began muttering an incantation. He watched as runes floated from the tips of her fingers before expanding into a larger circle. Pale blue light shone against her face as she worked to unravel the field.

    “Rin, be careful,” he said. Tohsaka had a horrible habit of overestimating her abilities, something that led unluckier men Archer had known to an early grave. “Nothing can stop the great Tohsaka Rin,” he thought sardonically to himself.

    After several moments the illusion shimmered before shattering like a dome of glass, the pieces tinkling in the night sky. The pieces of the mirage slowly disappeared into the air, revealing the beaten house before them. Upon the grass, harsh complex runes glowed blood red before dissipating. Rin turned around to face him.

    “See? Nothing to worry about, Archer,” Rin said with no small amount of haughtiness. The grin on her face expanded wide. Her victory, however, was cut short by small arcs of electricity that struck her before dissipating into the ground.

    “Kyaaaa!!” Rin screamed in pain. She flailed around with her arms before unceremoniously tripping on her legs and falling on her behind at the sudden attack. On the grass, Tohsaka muttered some unladylike comments regarding someone’s maternal parentage. At least the trap hadn’t been able to dull his master’s deadly temper. Around Rin’s feet was charred grass and he could smell the tinge of ozone and the burnt grass in the air.

    “Rin, I told you...” Archer began to say.

    “Oh stuff it, idiot Servant,” said Rin. The twitch on her face told Archer not to push his luck. “You vampire witch! I’ll make you pay for that!” Rin screamed into the air, fists curled in anger. Her cry into the night sky, however, was only met with silence. Archer said nothing in response, although deep down he was trying to suppress a grin at her misfortune. The word he was thinking of at the moment was called Schadenfreude.

    He helped Rin to her feet before surveying the scene before him. What was presumably once a well kept garden in front of the house was now a trampled mess. Dozens of shoeprints and bodies had trampled over the delicate flowers and various shrubs leaving an utter mess. The main door was wide open, broken down undoubtedly by the mass of undead bodies just like the attack from before. The front house window was also shattered with bits and pieces of glass stained red with blood. The lights inside were still on but the room within was a mess of upturned furniture and other items.

    In the air, he could smell the putrid stench of fetid blood. There was also something else in the air... It smelled familiar, like a mix of incense and perfume... but he couldn’t quite reference it from his memories.

    Nearly invisible on the front lawn lay three small empty blue cylinders, no bigger than his own thumb, with a brass cap at the bottom. Reinforcing his eyes, he identified them as expended shotgun shells; twelve gauge. There were cross insignia precisely etched with silver, the ornate design marked on both sides of the shell. He identified the “Holy Fire” ammunition that certain Church agents enjoyed using; blessed napalm and high explosives wrapped in a simple shell.
    Although firearms in the Church weren’t unknown, they were certainly rarer in comparison to the use of Black Keys. Now he recognized the odd smell of incense in the air, it was the Church’s special incendiary oils. Supposedly they were specially designed to be effective against undead creatures, although he couldn’t verify that claim.

    There was one thing Archer recalled, however, that seemed odd. The Church was an insular organisation that was slow to change with the times. As such, Archer found it odd there was no imperfections in the silver cross insignia; every angle and line within the design was perfectly aligned without a micron out of place. He found it hard to believe the Church had suddenly adopted laser etchers for such a rarely used weapon. He’d sooner expect Rin to successfully use a computer.

    “Let’s go, Archer,” said Rin. Her voice was level and calm, the anger bottled away for another time. He nodded and took the lead into the home. Stepping over the cracked and bloodstained main door, he headed into the houses foyer.

    There were three pairs of shoes haphazardly placed inside near the door, each the right size for teens. Comparing the different knot lengths, their tightness and position as well as the different shoe sizes and styles, he concluded there were at least three teenagers ranging from the ages fourteen to eighteen within the premises; all female given shoe type.

    Moving through the small foyer, he entered the living room and found it in complete disarray. Furniture and a myriad of random items had been shunted against the walls as if a tsunami had crashed down in the center of the room, leaving a clear path to the hall beyond.

    He scanned and catalogued each item within the living room. A television, its screen shattered, embedded in the left wall. Several vases and its wooden stand broken into pieces from whatever force had struck the living room. Several blankets and three backpacks lay strewn about. Underneath a broken coffee table, he saw a picture of what could only be a family photo; the frame smashed and glass broken from the fighting. A mother, father and small brown-haired daughter posed in front of the living room couch. The daughter seemed younger than Rin and had a cheerful innocent smile upon her face.

    There was also sand in the living room, as if an army had emptied trucks of sand within the room. They were the remains of the Dead that had been slain and crushed by Gaia’s overwhelming presence.

    At his highest magnification with his reinforced eyes, he saw grains of sand moving of their own accord as if they were blown by an unseen wind. He watched as bit by bit they slowly began to disappear into thin air. It took time for the corpses to deteriorate against Gaia’s presence and before they finally vanished. Just like humans, you could calculating their time of death if you arrived fast enough. From the size of the piles, they had perished less than fifteen minutes ago. For a normal human, they’d still be warm.

    There were still three Dead in physical form and lying in a small pool of their own blood. Each corpse had a massive gaping wound where their chest should have been; fire simmered inside their chest wound and burnt them from the inside out.

    He looked out the house window to where the three spent shells lay on the lawn and then back at these Dead. Three shots, three kills.

    Archer heard Rin come up from behind him and she halted in her tracks to take in the scene before them.

    “Wow...” she said. He nodded to acknowledge her statement.

    “Let’s keep going,” he said before walking through the room. The house may have been silent but there could still be lingering Dead around. He made sure to sweep the corners and keep his guard up. Only fools and corpses let their guard down near Dead Apostles. As he headed towards the hall, the heavy stench of acrid oil mixed with burnt flesh reached his nose.

    He stepped into the hallways across from the living room and paused at the gruesome sight. Something that resembled a human body lay dead at his feet, however, it was a mere mockery of the human form. Muscles overflowed from the body and seemed to cover the body like some form of tumor. What had been hands and feet had transformed into massive razor sharp claws that could easily skewer a man with a single thrust. Its head was devoid of hair and the creature’s mutations had covered the face, forcing it to reply upon its hearing. It’s mouth was wide open revealing shark-like teeth that could rend a body to pieces in moments. Archer couldn’t even tell if the creature was male or female anymore. The only trace of humanity were the shreds of clothes that clung to the body. These mutations had completely warped the body, leaving a deathly grey mass of muscle and razor sharp claws and teeth; a deadly biological weapon.

    He recognized the signs of magic before him because it was the same type of magecraft he used: Reinforcement. However, if his reinforcement was like a well maintained rifle then whatever had happened to this creature was more like a crudely made blunderbuss. The creature’s lifetime would have been measured in mere hours if it were lucky. The thing was like a runaway train and the engineer was shoveling in more coal than the engine could even use, powerful for its original frame but the power was short lived. The strain of reinforcement on the body would rip muscles, tear arteries and rupture organs; destroying the body even while providing it unnatural strength.

    Luckily, the flaming and gaping hole in its torso and its unmoving form told Archer it was already dead; its mouth hung wide open in its death throes. In the hall in front of him lay six more of the enhanced corpses lying dead upon one another... and sand... piles upon piles of sand. Whatever had happened here, they’d missed the big battle.

    Blood was smeared and splattered across the hallway walls in long and short streaks as if the white walls were some artistic canvass. There were two other rooms that forked from the hall and one at the end, but only the room at the end had lights on. The door was battered and the wood containing deep gouge marks from sharp sharp claws, most likely from the four enhanced Dead piled in front of it. In the center was a perfect circular hole easily larger than the size of his fist, the edges burnt black.

    The four enhanced Dead at the door had been cut apart by what Archer estimated to be a wide beam of energy roughly six inches in diameter. Looking at the wounds, blackened charring inside and outside the wound told him it had been high enough temperature to cauterize anything it touched. Looking at the wall behind him, he saw a long horizontal scorch mark that had burnt through the drywall, ; the width about the same size as the hole in one of the Dead.

    However, unlike the “Holy Fire” rounds from before, there was no fire or flames. Analysis? The only thing that matched this description was a direct energy weapon. Laser weaponry.

    Utterly impossible.

    Laser technology like that didn’t exist yet; at least... nothing existed like this that didn’t require a truck sized power source. That left the Magus Association and its casters and spells. He remembered back to the two unknown Dead Apostle hunters from last night... It seemed like they’d partnered the gunman with a mage... or was it more like they assigned the mage with a protector?

    He glanced across his shoulder, expecting Rin to be right behind him, only to find her missing. Looking back into the living room, he saw Rin moving aside pieces of glass to pick up the broken family photo on the floor.

    Her eyes went wide and he could see pulse was increasing and pupils dilating. Analysis? Most likely a relation between our victim. Results: Increase in erratic behaviour and higher urgency from Rin. New factors accounted for.

    She dropped the book and quickly rose to her feet. “Archer, let’s go!”

    With renewed vigour, she ran towards him into the hall. Rounding the corner, her eyes grew even wider she halted mid step; her fear stymieing her courage and anger. Tohsaka’s magic crest glowed under her crimson shirt as she flooded her circuits with prana.

    He placed a reassuring arm on her shoulder. “They’re dead, Rin.”

    Rin nodded wordlessly at him but didn’t seem convinced, her eyes still staring at the monstrosities lying in pieces before her. Archer could hardly blame her. Even for a Magus, fighting horrors like these things wasn’t common. Only the Executors of the Church, trained killers, dealt with issues like these on a daily basis. That... and a foolish man that had wanted to be a hero.

    Taking the lead once more, he stepped over the enhanced corpse’s body and headed down the hall, opening and clearing the rooms one by one with Kanshou in his hand; the hall too narrow for both twin blades. The two side rooms led to empty bedrooms. Behind him, even though she hadn’t said a word Archer could feel Rin’s presence as if she were shouting. It was the way her once calm and controlled master’s feet failed to stay in one place as he moved forward or the way her hands continued to scrunch the bottom of her crimson shirt in nervousness or the way her eyes darted around the hall. She was worried about her friend.

    Finally, Archer stood in front of the door at the end of the hall. In the distance, he could hear gunfire echoing in the distance but that didn’t matter; there was only the here and now. He readied to himself to kick down the door before a sudden thought came to him.

    “No... they couldn’t be that stupid,” he muttered.

    Archer casually turned the door handle and pushed the door open. He had to force himself not to laugh at the situation. He walked through the doorway into what must have been the kid’s bedroom, although the room was definitely larger than might be expected, with the walls being painted a welcoming peach cream color that ran against the rest of the white motif of the home. On the bookshelf and wooden desk were cute stuffed animals, manga, and popular anime figures. On the opposite side of the room, a bed frame and several chairs had been forced against the room’s window as a temporary barricade.

    All of this Archer would examine later as at the moment there were three enhanced Dead in the room. It seemed as if they had been examining various mundane objects in the room but switched their attention towards him at the hint of new prey.

    The one nearest to him gave a long hiss, its deathly grey skin growing taut as it flexed its muscles in anticipation, before lunging towards him. Flesh rending claws claws spread wide and its mouth opened to reveal bloodstained teeth ready to dig into Archer’s flesh. Its two friends were right behind it, baying for blood.

    Archer hurled Kanshou forward and the midnight black blade pierced the grey hide of the first Dead, slicing through its shale color skin and severing its spine. The creature flew backwards and embedded into the wall and hung limp like meat upon a butcher’s hook. Bakuya materialized in his grip even before its sister blade had flown from his hands. With years of practice, he threw the other twin sword that bisected his next opponent. Blood and organs spilled to the floor in a messy heap.

    That left his final opponent, the last Dead still running towards him. Both hands still empty at his sides, Archer simply shook his head before giving a cocky grin at his opponent. He took a step back and placed his weight on his rear leg before raising both arms in a fighting stance... and then simply waiting. Prana flowed through his body as he prepared for his attack.

    The thing leapt forwards off the ground, one of its claws held behind it with the intent of disemboweling the servant. Saliva dripped from its open maw as it gave off a feral growl that would have shaken even knights of the Church... But Archer was no mere knight

    Archer replied in kind, giving off a deep deafening warcry that made Rin’s ears ring behind him. Stepping forwards he delivered a lethal thrust kick to the Dead’s chest. The blow connected with the power of a tank shell, sending a shockwave through the room that rattled cups and fluttered paper. The creature was hit with such force that the sound of its ribcage and other bones breaking could have been heard outside the house. The Dead flew into the wall behind it and fell forwards in time for the tanned Servant to grab the beast by the head and slam its misshapen head with his knee, sending the body flying upwards almost to its full standing height. With speed that would have appeared like a blur to Rin, he moved behind the Dead and brought the heel of his boot down on the back of the creature’s knee, breaking bone, and tearing muscle and tendons together before finally finishing the creature off with an elbow down upon its spine with a sickening crack. Finally, after all this, did Archer let the Dead fall to the floor for the last time.

    Analysis. Sternum broken, every rib cracked and massive hemorrhaging of its internal organs. Skull shattered and brain liquified. Left leg useless and spine broken in two locations. Conclusion: Threat neutralized.

    From the doorway behind him, Rin simply stared in silence. “My God, Archer...” she said, eyes wide in amazement. He replied with a simple smug grin.

    He looked around the room once more.

    Blue shells littered the room along with.40 S&W and .45 ACP brass casings. On the carpet were the same muddy shoe prints he’d seen outside. There was a wide bedroom window that revealed the the backyard outside. He looked outside.

    The smoldering corpses of over a dozen of the enhanced Dead lay dead, like the ones before. Most of them lay dead facing the building, although three appear to have been... running away? No... He looked at the scene again

    Scuff marks and fresh claw marks atop the wooden fences told him where the Dead had crawled or leapt upon the walls. The wooden gate to the backyard had been broken open by one swift kick, the fresh mud and bootprint upon the frail gate easy to see with his reinforced vision. On the lawn was an abundance of muddy tracks on the soggy grass, mostly claw prints but he could make out two distinct shoeprints heading away from the house.

    The footprint depth was slanted forward indicating more pressure on the soles of the feet... they had been sprinting. Both footprints led away from the house to the perimeter fence and beyond.

    So... the two Dead Apostle hunters had made a run for it... Pushing out after they’d found themselves being surrounded and outnumbered by these new Dead. That made sense... That just left where the three girls were.

    He turned his attention back into the room to see Rin standing in front of the bedroom’s side bathroom door. She traced her finger down the length of the marred door before turning back to Archer. “There’s a boundary field on the door here...” She said, before pointing to the last two runes that were inscribed on the door. “These fields are normally used to prevent people from entering a location.”

    “Like the boundary fields Dead Apostles use to hide from the Church and Magus Association?” said Archer.

    “Yes... How do you know that...?” said Rin, giving him a quizzical look. He shrugged.

    “I seem to know a lot about hunting vampires...” he said. “More than you could possibly realize,” finishing the sentence in his head.

    Rin turned back to the door and studied the design. “Although the design is considerably less intricate. It’s odd though... the inscription technique is definitely different from the boundary field that was outside,” she said.

    “Shall I?” said Archer stepping forward as he traced Bakuya in his hand, ready to cut straight through the wood door. However, Rin gently placed her hand upon his and stopped him. Tracing figures upon the door, she muttered a simple incantation. Several bright blue runes flashed upon the door for a moment before fading. A silent moment passed before, with a click, the door creaked ajar.

    “Saegusa? It’s Tohsaka. Are you in there? Are you alright?” called out Rin as she moved to open the door with Archer following close behind. He could smell the tinge of copper that emanated from the washroom and felt a sinking feeling begin to grow from the pits of his stomach. This would not end well.

    They entered the bathroom together. It was dark inside, with only the light from the bedroom to illuminate the sterile white bathroom within. However, even with the lack of light Rin could see the crimson stains that covered the shower curtains. She stood, looking at the white curtains like a child too scared to open a shadowy closet door.

    “Rin...” he said. What did he want to say? Don’t open it? Stay in the other room? Turn away? He wanted to say them all but he knew it’d be futile. Rin Tohsaka wasn’t one to turn away at the last step, especially not with someone she knew involved.

    Taking the shower curtain by the edge, Rin ripped it aside.

    Her first expression was shock, as Rin’s brain processed the scene before her. What followed was disgust as she examined the sight of the gruesome murders. Finally, nausea overcame all of her other feelings and she pushed past him into the fresh air of the bedroom outside.

    Taking a moment to make sure Rin would be alright, he turned back to examine the blood bath before him. Three girls lay dead with numerous lacerations and stab wounds in the bathtub.. Blood soaked their clothes and collected into the tub drain.

    The youngest of the three girls sat peacefully in the corner of the tub, her headed nodded off against the wall. Dried blood was caked against her short auburn hair and her shirt; the cute lion and giraffe design on the front juxtaposed with the death around it. A single penetrating incision to her stomach had ended the young girls life, eviscerating her body and leaving a gaping hole in her abdomen.

    The second girl wore plain glasses and had flowing grey hair that slid past her shoulders. She sat motionless next to the first girl, a single slash wound ran along the width of her throat that had leaked enough blood to stain her entire white dress shirt. She must have enjoyed playing an instrument, perhaps a violin, given the calluses on her fingertips.

    The last one, skin tan from the sun and body lean and athletic, lay stretched at the end of the tub with a single stab wound to the chest.

    However... something seemed off.

    Fresh blood smelled like copper or just a strong smell of metal depending on the environmental conditions. Left alone to dry in a small room for several days and it would drive most inexperienced people to the ground, upending their last meal. It was the smell of rot, like a full roast several weeks old, that he could smell right now... The scent of death... which was odd considering the attacks had only started mere minutes ago.

    He examined the blood on the shower walls.

    The blood splatter was all wrong as well. He looked around the room then back at the girls. These deep stab wounds should have produced incredible arterial spray; especially with a slit throat. Droplets should have dotted the bathroom mirror, lights and even the ceiling. The blood on the shower tiles were also wrong. If the girls had been killed in the tub, then why was there blood on the outside of the shower curtain yet none on the floor or sink? This was sloppy work he’d expect to see from movies. All shock and show but no substance.

    There was also something missing... If looked as if all three girls had simply laid down and died. They should have been screaming in panic, fighting or struggling against their attacker; the mirror should have been broken, walls dented or tiles cracked from a fight. should have been wide open as their assailants took their lives, the light in their eyes slowly fading as they realized no one would come to save them.

    It pained him to know that he’d seen enough death to know which ones were genuine and which ones were fake.

    Kneeling down next to Himuro, he gently placed his hand upon her neck. From his hand Archer could feel the beat of a strong and rhythmic pulse. Life.

    He smiled.

    After what felt like a lifetimes of butchering and killing as a servant of Alaya, he’d almost forgotten this odd feeling. It drove away the bitterness in his heart and eased the dread that had been gripping his chest.. at least for the moment. It was was joy. He missed that old feeling... when there’d still been light in his life and hope in his naive eyes.

    It was at this time Archer noticed something inscribed on the tiles behind one of the girls. Taking care to shift the unconscious girl to the side, he inspected the glowing runes etched on the tiles; tracing the edges of the inscription with his fingers. Rune creation was similar to handwriting in that they were unique to each caster and the one he was looking at was definitely different from the one that had been made outside... It was too neat... too pristine... and blue too.

    Although Archer doubted he’d ever reach Rin’s level of magecraft, he at least knew how to disable an illusion boundary field like this. Long years chasing and tracking Dead Apostles and their ilk had made sure he’d had plenty of experience with that. Checking and finding no counter-enchantments like the one that had zapped Tohsaka before, he drained the prana from the runes and depowered the field.

    At once, the room shifted around him. As if a wave was washing through the room, all the blood and gore fading away like fresh paint against the spring rain; cleansing the grim scene that previously occupied the room. In its place were three girl, soundly sleeping in the washroom tub.

    Archer checked over the other two girls just to be certain before heading back outside into the bedroom where he found Rin sitting silently with her back against the wall. His twin-tailed master hugged her knees with her arms and stared blankly at the empty wall opposite to her, her mind lost in thought. Occasionally, he thought he could hear the occasional muffled sniffle. If Rin had noticed him standing beside her, she didn’t show it.

    “Rin,” Archer said, trying to rouse her attention. Tohsaka’s blue eyes didn’t move. Archer stepped in front of her and knelt down.

    “Rin!” he said louder this time, shaking her by the shoulder. That got her attention. She looked upward to his face.

    “Archer?” Rin said, as if she only now noticed his looming form in front of her. He grabbed her by the arms and tried to tug Rin to her feet.

    “Rin. Come on,” he said, trying to pull her to her feet.

    “No... Just... away,” she muttered. She shook her head at Archer like a kid refusing to go to the doctors.

    “Rin, it was a fake. An illusion. Come on,” he said, finally able to pull his master to her feet at least.

    “Archer... that’s not funny,” she said, anger replacing her grief for the moment. He pulled her into the room until she finally saw them. His master froze at the sight, mind unable to comprehend the sudden change of the situation. Her emotions changed from surprise, happiness, shock and confusion as Rin looked back and forth between the girls and Archer. Although her mouth was open, no words came forth. She stood like that, stunned in silence, before she was able to collect her thoughts back together.

    Taking a deep breath, she kneeled over one of the girls and placed her hand upon her neck to check her pulse. In the process, the girl groggily began to open her eyes.

    “Eh,” said the girl sleepily. “Tohsaka Rin?” Saegusa’s words were slurred, still under the effects of the spell.

    “Shh...” said Rin. “Just sleep. It’s alright now.” His master muttered a quick incantation and the girl fell back into the darkness of sleep. Without turning around, Rin quietly called his name.

    “Yes?” Archer replied.

    “Thank you,” she said before giving a sigh of relief. Archer couldn’t see it, but he knew there was a smile upon her face.

    =====

    Last edited by Vigilantia; May 16th, 2013 at 08:41 PM.

  19. #39
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Very cool.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  20. #40
    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    Well damn. Not a single non-editor comment. Is my writing just getting that boring or did I lose everyone between chapters?

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