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Thread: Fate/Chaos Spiral: From the Cutting Room Floor

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    Post Fate/Chaos Spiral: From the Cutting Room Floor

    It's no secret that Chaos Spiral isn't going anywhere. I was trying to take that story in too many directions at once, and eventually it snapped like an elastic band. My original outline fell to pieces — I barely even remember what it was. More importantly, I had a beginning and an end, but I had only had two isolated events to put between them, and couldn't come up with anything else.

    That, and at the point I had reached, the scope of the fic was so large that I'd need at least four other people writing with me—and keeping me on the track of the original plot—in order to finish the fic in any reasonable length of time.

    In any case, I am officially labelling Fate/Chaos Spiral a deadfic. And I really don't want to keep going. Don't fret though, there's plenty of material left for me to post. It just won't have nearly as much emotional value as I wanted it to have.

    Please don't ask me to keep writing.

    As for the fragmented pieces here, I guess I'll start with this.

    It was planned for Chapter III, and likely would have been used for the first part of it:



    * * * * * * * * * *



    The writer watched from the window of his office as the security guard ushered his charge into the deceptively simple car. It didn't look particularly special, but the man watching from above knew it was likely the most expensive privately owned vehicle in Mifune.

    Even with a few years of it under his belt already, he still couldn't believe that he had been roped into babysitting a yakuza princess. Of course, that was just on the one hand. On the other… well, that little girl's mother could have killed him that day ten years ago. That moment still haunted his dreams. Or, more accurately, his nightmares. That unnatural, murderous look in her eyes as that knife drew toward his face… a chill ran down his spine just thinking about it.

    Fast forward a few years, and he was a successful children's author. It might have been a weird choice considering he wasn't a particularly patient man, and kids were definitely… trying, to say the least. But hey, it payed the bills, not that he had any, living out of his office the way he did. This building wasn't even recognized by the city as being here, so he got free electricity and running water, and was legally evading taxes. He thought the deal was too good to be true, but after more than a year without getting any indication of there being the slightest possibility that there might be strings attached, he was confident he was safe.

    Until the yakuza broke down his door, 'convinced' him to sign a contract, and a terrifyingly familiar woman, now ten years older and a mother, had him working as an investigator. What she didn't tell him was that her daughter was going to sneak out of school every other afternoon to hang out in his office. He did not sign up for this.

    Mitsuru Kamekura went up to the roof, as he often did when he wanted a breath of fresh air, and maybe a cigarette. He'd stood up there, just looking out over the neighborhood for what must have been hundreds of hours now.

    Which was why he immediately could feel that something was wrong just by opening the door. Something was missing—no, something was here that wasn't supposed to be: He wasn't alone.

    This building escaped the notice of ordinary people who weren't specifically looking for it, for reasons he couldn't understand, so the fact that there was someone else up here immediately triggered his self-preservation instincts. He took a single, measured step out into the rooftop garden.

    "Whoever's there, come out right now. Trust me, you're not doing yourself any favors by hiding from me," he said, making a point not to telegraph his anxiety. Hiding his emotions, fortunately, was a talent of his.

    "You shouldn't be here," said a disembodied voice coming from directly in front of him.

    "Actually, this is my office. I'm the only person who should be here, invisible weirdo."

    The voice gave a quick snort of laughter.

    "You misunderstand. This isn't a simple office. It's—"

    "I don't care what it is you're after, I just want to get back to my desk and—"

    "That won't be necessary. You should vacate this place immediately, or I'll need to eliminate you."

    "Can't. I also live here."

    The voice paused.

    "Hmm… well, that is a quandary. But!—It's not one worth wasting my time on. I need a workshop for my craft, and there happens to be one in this building already. And, hehe, well, I can't have any witnesses. So, this is goodbye."

    A man with long, curly ginger hair—and a noticeably receding hairline—seemed to phase into existence in front of Mitsuru, a predatory grin twisting his features. He wore round glasses with thick red frames, but somehow they just made him look more vicious. He raised one hand, and a strange silver glyph appeared in the air between them.

    "Thanks for the offer but I'll have to decline!" Mitsuru spun on his heel and slammed the door behind him, leaping down stairs three at a time, just in time for him to hear a crash from outside, indicating that whatever the guy had done, he was really glad it didn't hit him.

    He vaulted over a railing to get down the stairs faster, but his grip faltered for a moment and he knocked his hand against the metal frame underneath the banister. The digits felt numb and there was a mark of some sort on the back of his left hand.

    He heard a click from above him, indicating that Chameleon Wizard or whatever this guy might as well call himself had unlocked the door somehow. Did he have some sort of unlocking vision power or something? …No, that was bullshit, he had to have some other sort of power. After all, even if your eyes didn't automatically open doors—lamest super power ever, by the way—it was possible to see the future out of one eye, so why shouldn't it be possible to change colors or unlock a door without a key?

    Oh, who even cared?! The only important thing right now was that he got away from this mentalcase. He scrambled into his office, nearly tripping down the two steps to the floor, and looked for anything he might be able to use as a weapon. Unless he wanted to use his computer, and he most certainly did not, there was nothing that came to mind.

    A shadow darkened the clouded glass of the window in the door.

    Hold on. There was something he could do. It'd probably make a mess, and he'd have to time it well, but—

    The door clicked open.

    Where the hell was a bomb when you needed one?! Honestly though, a bomb would be way too much. He needed to knock this guy out, not level the building.

    He escaped through the door opposite his desk, went down one floor, and made for the supply closet.

    Maybe there would be mop he could use? The trick was the actual fighting back part. The how-to part to be specific. He wasn't athletic, he was uncoordinated, he could barely throw a ball. With a weapon in hand he would put his threat level in the area between "huh?" and "oh, there's a person here." Even with his bombs, he wasn't actually dangerous to a person who caught him.

    He reached for the doorknob.

    Which exploded before he could touch it.

    Jerking his hand back, he saw his attacker vanish, changing colors to match the paint on the walls. He could still vaguely see him, but the camouflage was virtually perfect.

    So this man was a chameleon, and could shoot firebolts or some other such nonsense from his fingertips.

    He, meanwhile, was a writer with sub-par reflexes, only one working eye, and all the courage of a house cat. He was basically about as strong as one too, and he could only hope that he wasn't insulting house cats by making that comparison.

    He looked at the closet door. Regrettably, the rest of the latch was still intact, leaving anything he might have been able to use inaccessible to him. All he could do was scramble back the way he came. Back up one floor, and into his office he went. What could he even do?! Sure, he wasn't exactly the most important guy around, but he didn't want to die now! Not like this!

    But he really was going to die here, wasn't he…

    The moment that notion struck him, everything else just faded into the background. He might as well have been dead already, and just didn't know it yet. The realization somehow made the whole ordeal easier. There was nothing he could do, so why bother trying? He trudged over to his desk and sat down behind it. No point running anymore, and besides, he was already well past spent.

    He turned his chair sideways to look out the window. And as it happened, doing so saved his life. Because it reminded him he had a fire extinguisher in the corner of his office.

    His feelings of resignation abandoning him, he yanked the metal cylinder off the wall, and fighting through its surprising weight, immediately made a break for the other door. It was open and shut before the other man reached his office.

    Strange… he'd sat down. Given up. He must have wasted half a minute sitting there like an idiot. How had Mr. Chameleon not caught up… wait…

    "Oh shit!"

    Mitsuru whirled around, swinging the fire extinguisher as hard as he could. Only for it to bounce off what almost felt like metal, but for the shirt cloth between his weapon and his attacker's body. At the same time, he tumbled to the side, letting a silvery energy bolt fly past his ear and vaporize a huge segment of the nearby wall.

    "Are you almost ready to stop playing this little game? You aren't going to escape."

    "Sure, I'll just lie down and let you kill me," Mitsuru spat back, deciding that his tone could have stood to be a lot more sarcastic. Still it was hard to manage that, considering that he'd almost done exactly that scarcely two minutes earlier.

    Also, this guy was apparently made of fricking metal. At least under his shirt. Okay, never mind. Challenging his fate was pointless. He was, without question, going to die here. The chameleon shed his camouflage, grabbed Mitsuru by the throat and tossed him down the flight of stairs.

    The fire extinguisher flew from his hands and landed beside him with a clank. He gasped as he hit the floor. However, he somehow landed hands first. The impact forced him down to his elbows and then had him flat on the ground, but that did absorb some of the shock. Even if his hands were bleeding. He groaned, trembling from the pain, then remembered his situation. He had to fight through this pain or his story was ending.

    But the guy was indestructible, or something. There was literally no way he could turn the tables here. He was going to die after all.

    And then, when Mana and her bodyguard came here tomorrow, they'd probably die too.

    "Screw that…"

    Even if he died before he could warn them, it'd still be his fault.

    "Screw that!"

    Fine, he was dead meat, but even if he died here, he was dragging this joker to hell with him!

    "Screw it all, and screw you!"

    He forced himself to his feet, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and charged back up the stairs.

    The man stepped down to meet him halfway, undoubtedly planning to kick him back down and take another shot. Those energy bolts must have needed some time to charge back up. But Mitsuru was ready for it. Holding the metal cylinder horizontally, he tossed it. Not at his attacker, but at the stair he was about to step on.

    And to Mitsuru's infinite relief, he managed to time it perfectly. Mr. Chameleon did exactly what he was supposed to and toppled over. He crashed down the next couple stairs and hit the floor. Unfortunately, he was unnaturally sturdy, so he probably wasn't hurt too badly, but there were parts of him that didn't look armored. And one of those spots was a serious weakness… at least, he really hoped it was. If he was wrong, well, he was back to square one. He scrambled back down the stairs, scooped up his fire extinguisher and just as his attacker was getting to his feet, he smashed the cylinder over his head. The man went back down, reeling, so Mitsuru did it again, and again. He continued striking with the fire extinguisher with every remaining ounce of strength he had, only stopping after he heard a horrifying crack.

    There were a number of things he'd planned on doing when he woke up this morning. Suffice to say, caving in a man's skull was not one of them.

    …It wasn't on the list for the day after either.

    He let himself fall into a sitting position on the floor, catching himself against the wall. His hands hurt, he was dizzy from being tossed down the stairs, and he was feeling rather sick from the knowledge that he had brutally murdered someone, self-defense though it may have been. The irony was just sickening. He'd set off more bombs than he'd bothered to count and managed to avoid killing so much as a single person. Yet now, after he'd given that up, he'd somehow managed to turn himself into a murderer.

    So now what?

    What the hell was he supposed to do?! He couldn't exactly leave a corpse in plain sight in the middle of the stairwell! Sure, no one else ever came here, but on the off chance someone realized there was a building here (always a huge surprise), there was no lock on the front door. Just to the offices. Besides, it would stink up the whole building if it was left as-is. He couldn't call the police. He couldn't afford to do that. Too many risks, and too much trouble even if there was virtually no chance of him being recognized.

    Fortunately, he happened to know at least one person who was familiar with the supernatural.

    With all his adrenaline spent like a low-wage paycheck, It took him the better part of twenty minutes before he felt up to limping back to his office. He collapsed into his chair, reached for his phone and dialed her home number. A gruff voice immediately picked up.

    "Who's this?"

    "Tell Mrs. Ryougi that Mitsuru Kamekura needs to talk with her. Urgent, regards to her daughter's safety."

    "Was that a threat?" the voice snarled.

    "No! I'm the fricking babysitter! Something happened in my building is all!"

    There was silence on the line for a few moments and then…

    "Sorry for the scare. We know who you are. I'll get her for you if she's not busy."

    The man on the other end was chuckling. Mitsuru just dragged a hand over his face. He was so not in the mood for this.

    "Oh for the love of—did you have to… oh, forget it. Fine, thanks."

    Most of this was said to a derelict phone, of course.

    A few minutes later, a familiar voice came on the line.

    "Sorry to make you wait, kid. What'd you need?"

    "It's fine, Mrs. Ryougi. It's just… Well, I've got a bit of a problem."

    "I don't like where this is going."

    "I didn't like it when it was happening, but here I am getting blood all over my phone."

    "Hmm. Sounds serious," the woman answered with false nonchalance.

    "A chameleon man tried to kill me with what can basically amount to fireballs."

    "You were attacked by a mage?!" she sputtered. "Okay, hold on, what did you mean by 'chameleon man?'"

    "He changed colors to blend in with his surroundings. Almost flawlessly."

    "Okay, wow. And you're still alive?"

    "No, I'm actually a talking picture book—Yes I'm still alive!" he spat.

    "Then where did he go? Did you see where he went?"

    "Yes. He's in my stairwell."

    "THEN WHY THE HELL AREN'T YOU RUNNING?!"

    "Because he's got a large bloody cavity in his skull."

    Tense silence reigned for a moment. Then Mrs. Ryougi sighed.

    "Why are you wasting my time? And I expect a very good answer."

    "What are you talking about?" he groaned.

    "Don't think you can lie to me. You don't have the capacity to fight a mage without being catastrophically outmatched."

    "You think I'm pulling your leg?"

    "You think I'm stupid enough to believe you have a hope in hell of killing a mage?"

    "I don't know! He stopped hiding to attack, I got back up, I tripped him, he fell, I bashed him while he was getting up, and kept bashing after that.
    "I called to ask what the hell I'm supposed to do with the body?"

    "Well, Touko would kill me for this, but she's gone. So… just let the Ryougi group take care of it. We'll handle it this time."

    "So, you'll dispose of the body?"

    "Correct. Congrats on killing a mage by the way, all of them suck," Mrs. Ryougi added, the smirk on her face almost visible to him just from her voice. "You've done a great service to the worldwide community. Killing is admittedly an extreme solution, but in my experience, mages tend to take the 'go overboard or go home approach' to most things anyway. And to be fair, he shot first…" she paused. "He did attack first, right?"

    "I'm not a fighter anymore. Hell, I never was. Picking a fight would just be a waste of my time and energy."

    "I do have one condition though: You've just killed someone. Did he give his name?"

    "No, why does that ma—"

    "It matters more than you could comprehend.

    "Now, before my guys show up, find out who the this man was. I won't make you lose sleep over my Grandfather's beliefs about death, but you should at least know who this person was. He might have been a killer, but all people are equal in death. He doesn't deserve to simply disappear.

    "Also, if you don't do this, you're getting your pay docked. And don't think I won't find out. Get busy."

    —click—

    Mitsuru ground his teeth at the sound of her hanging up on him without letting him get a word in edgewise.

    Well, agreed or not, he had a deal to keep. He stumbled back into the stairwell and looked at the body, actually taking in the details for the first time. The man had an expensive looking bag slung over his shoulder. He wouldn't be needing it now, grim though the thought was. He slid it off the corpse's limp arm, and moved to the side, crouching over it. He unzipped one of the smaller pockets first to find a Polish passport.

    "So, your name was Rottweil Berzinsky. Sorry about all this, but I wasn't going to just sit there and let you kill me."

    He breathed a sigh of relief, just glad that the whole fiasco was over, body to dispose of or not. Still, this didn't really make sense. Why would a man from Poland be in Mifune? He sure as hell wasn't a tourist, and as he changed color to blend in with his surroundings like a chameleon. Moreover, he had to assume that the only parts of his body that weren't somehow reinforced were his head and hands. Maybe his feet too. He definitely had some sort of supernatural powers. So what the hell had he been planning on doing here?

    Well, there were more pockets on Berzinsky's bag. Maybe he could clue himself in if he took a closer look.

    The next thing he found was a map. But instead of showing Mifune, it depicted one of the neighboring cities: Fuyuki. And then things got weird.

    "The hell is this thing?"

    It was an apple. That's what it was shaped like at least. But it was most certainly not an apple. For starters, it was heavy, and appeared to be solid gold. Hell, who was he to make that call, though? It could just as easily have been made of brass and he wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

    What sort of purpose could this thing possibly serve? Was it a wildly glorified paperweight? Unfortunately, what he found next only added to his confusion.

    There was one more thing inside the bag. It was a diagram with… were these instructions or some sort of cultist ritual? Whatever, it wasn't his prob—

    —Thump—

    Mitsuru's heart tried to escape his ribcage. He didn't have to turn around to know what was behind him.

    "You've gotta be shitting me!" he screamed, leaping away as a barrage of energy bolts landed where he'd been crouched on the ground.

    "I confess, I hadn't been taking you seriously earlier," Berzinsky leered down at him, his expression utterly gruesome when compounded with the seemingly catastrophic head injury. "But I can see that was a mistake. I really can't consider this wound to be a problem. It's so… mundane. I do promise however that I'll be giving you the attention you deserve."

    "Thanks for the offer, but I'll pass!" he jumped down the stairs, and regretted it immediately as his knees nearly gave out upon landing. But he kept going, bolt after bolt flying at him. This chase was not going to end well. He just wished he could hold the bannister, but his hands were full. And his right seemed to be developing some sort of rash… wait, why the hell were his hands full? He looked to find that he was carrying the diagram and the accompanying pages as well as that apple thing.

    "Get back here with those, you've no idea the kind of trouble you're getting yourself into!" Berzinsky's voice echoed down from above. He was moving slowly, so maybe his injury was at least disorienting him, but every time he was in sight, he shot a barrage of energy bolts at him. Mitsuru anxiously recognized that Berzinsky's attacks were much faster than before.

    He staggered to one of the lower offices, they were mostly empty, with some spare lumber here and an unopened can of paint there. Renovations had never finished. The company just forgot about their contract after a while. He locked the doors on both sides, and swore. This was karma, wasn't it?

    And what the hell was he still carrying that trash? He threw the useless pages on the floor.

    But were they useless?

    He was trapped in this room now. His assets were an unassembled table, a pile of wood shavings, and… these two… things. The pages, and The Apple of Improbable Glory.

    Well, it couldn't hurt. He was as good as dead anyway even if he didn't try. The one problem was that… well, he had no way of getting the paint cans open. Which left him with a more aggravating option.

    He looked at the diagram, then went over to the wood shaving. Was this oak? It didn't really matter. He set about spreading the dust around in the shape of the diagram. He really wished he had a way to open up one of those paint cans. Even after Berzinsky reached the door and started trying to get in, he continued. Evidently, the stress made him very quick. Maybe if he recited those words, the circle would become some sort of trap?

    Of course, the Pole didn't give him the time.

    "You really should consider returning my property," Berzinsky's voice hissed from the other side of the locked door.

    "You mean unlock the room and open the door so you can blast my head off? Great idea!" he spat, his tone growing more sarcastic with each syllable. "Besides. I'd say it's a fair trade. You tried to kill me. Since I survived, it's only reasonable that I take something from you." He continued spreading the sawdust. He was beginning to see the pattern taking shape on the floor, but this was taking too long.

    "You have no idea what kind of forces you're dealing with, boy. You couldn't even begin to grasp—"

    "I used to be able to see the future out of my left eye, so maybe shut the fuck up. I've got a pretty good idea."

    The silence on the other side of the door was less telling than Mitsuru would have hoped. But he realized there was something he wanted to ask this man.

    "What the hell are you even doing here anyway? What's so special about this building that you need the whole place to yourself?"

    "Oh, I don't. However, I dislike humans. Animals are far better company, lizards in particular. They're less noisy, and are easier to train. Therefore, I remove humans from the equation whenever possible. However, I don't suppose that it could hurt to tell you what I'm doing here. After all, you'll be dead very shortly. I can afford to indulge your curiosity. The reason I am here, and the reason you have to die, are because this building hides an old mage's workshop. I intend to take it for myself, and appropriate any lingering Mysteries, and your presence on the fringe of my perception every time I came here in future would disgust me."

    The diagram was coming along surprisingly fast, considering his materials. Already he had most of the outer circle finished. Desperation must have been a very good motivator.

    'Almost done,' he thought. 'If I can just keep him talking…'

    And then the door burst off its hinges.

    Mitsuru barely had time to avoid it as it flew directly at him. But even though he dodged, he couldn't save the diagram. Once it hit the floor, it slid through the sawdust and erased the whole thing.

    Well, he was screwed. When he thought about it, he hadn't actually gotten all that far, either. He did the only thing he could; he ran. Unlocking the opposite door, he slid through it, barely managing to dodge Berzinsky's attacks. Wherever on the walls or floor the bolts landed, they'd take whole chunks out of each spot. Even one of those landing would mean the end for him. He hurried down the stairs only to find himself in the last place he wanted to be: The basement. Had he miscalculated? He thought he was still above ground level. Maybe he still had time? He looked back up to the top of the stairs to find Berzinsky's bloody face leering down at him. There was only one place Mitsuru could go, and that was a nearby door. He had never actually tried to open it before, since there was never any real need to. He had no idea where it went, or why it was there, but if it kept him alive for a few more seconds, that would be good enough for now. He went through, and pulled the door behind him just as his attacker reached the bottom of the stairs above him. He scrambled down the stairs, noting with some irritation that they were metal and grated like the stairs on a catwalk and provided poor traction for his shoes.

    When he reached the bottom, he found himself in what could have been a darkroom. There were no windows, and the overhead fluorescent lights were a dim red. Though it seemed to be empty, there were recesses in the walls indicating the former presence of shelves that had long since been removed, and a large space in the center of the room, directly beneath the lights that seemed particularly vacant.

    As he wandered around, looking for a suitable hiding spot, he stumbled over a deep crack in the floor, but didn't even have time to look down before he heard the metal clanking of the stairs as the mage made his way down..

    And he was in clear view.

    He dove to the side, but didn't manage a clean dodge, and a bolt grazed his arm. It didn't actually touch him, so it didn't blow up, but the residual heat from the shot as it passed by burned a line into his right arm. He cried out and swore. At this point though, he was lucky that he even escaped with his life.

    But that wouldn't last long.

    "Well, you've led me on a merry little chase. And you've even kindly escorted me to exactly the place I was looking for. I'm certain I'd have found this on my own, but nevertheless, credit where credit is due," he said, managing to maintain a condescending tone throughout. "Now then, this is goodbye."

    'No… I messed up.'

    'But I can't die! Not now. And no way am I going to let this scumbag kill me!'

    'If I die here, who's going to look after Mana when her father's out of town?'

    'Wait! What am I thinking?! If I die, that won't even matter because this man'll probably just kill her too the next time she shows up.'

    'So if I die, so does a nine-year-old girl…'

    His right hand burned.

    "I can't accept that!"

    "You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I'm giving you a ch—"

    The very next moment, there was a brilliant flash of light, and when it faded, there was someone else in the room with them.

    And… she was wearing neko-ears…?

    "I ask of you," she began, her voice soft, but noble, "are you worthy to be my Master?"

    Mitsuru gawked. A cosplayer? Now?! Really?! And what was with the flash? Did she just like special effects that much?

    "Yes. I am indeed your Master, Servant."

    'Why is the killer playing along?'

    "That's interesting of you to say," said the girl, "for a number of reasons." She paused before continuing, her tone darker this time. "Chief among them being that I was not speaking to you."

    "Wait, hold up," Mitsuru let his head fall into his open hand. "Why are you asking me this? Why now? Who in the hell are you, anyway? And do you even realize the kind of danger you're in?!"

    "I assure you, the worst this mage has to offer might throw me off balance for a fraction of a second. But it's far more likely is that he's harmless to me."

    "W-What…?" Berzinsky stammered, his eyes widening behind his thick-rimmed glasses. "How can you not be my Servant? That catalyst belongs to me!"

    "But you weren't holding it."

    "Wait, so you mean…"

    "It means that my question was a formality. This man, regrettably for you, is my Master. And you, sir, are nothing but a nuisance and a threat."

    "Hold on! His body is armored somehow! You can't fight him! Confident or not, you won't be able to harm him!"

    "Ah yes, I see. he has lizard-like scales all over his body."

    "He has what-now?"

    "Scales."

    "Huh?"

    "Scales."

    "Yes, I know, stop repeating yourself, I mean why does he have scales!"

    "Because he is a mage, and he did something to his body. If you want a better answer, you'll need to ask him. However, I would prioritize his elimination above sating your curiosity, Master."

    "You traitorous little—! Regardless of who summoned you, the fact remains, I am your Master!" Berzinsky snarled. The Servant ignored him completely.

    "This man is both untrustworthy and dangerously volatile, his body language alone give those away."

    "Uh… alright? So how exactly would you prevent him from hurting us?"

    The girl sighed. Extending her right arm, and taking hold of an ebony bow as it shimmered into existence. It was decorated with gold trim, and was almost as tall as she was, but she seemed more than comfortable holding it.

    Somehow, the only thing that came to mind for Mitsuru was 'Okay. So… not a cosplayer…'

    On the other hand, she just had a bow. She had no quiver, no arrows, and even if she did have a bow on hand at all times he seriously doubted she could just create arrows whenever she—

    Two arrows materialized in her left hand, in addition to a quiver at her hip.

    Well, never mind.

    "I assume from both of your conditions that you have attempted to kill my Master at least once already," said the girl, glaring at Berzinsky with emerald eyes. "I won't give you the opportunity to try again."

    "This is absurd! You're my Servant! Mine!"

    With a roll of her eyes, the girl lowered her bow slightly.

    "If you're going to be so insistent, then how about you show me your command seals? Do that, and I'll immediately execute this man."

    "What?!"

    "Very well. Here you…" he trailed off as the hand that had held telltale markings only minutes earlier was completely blank. Berzinsky's scowl softened into an expression of pure terror. "No… no, this can't—"

    "Finally sinking in? Good. I shouldn't have even had to prompt that. Now then… goodbye, sir."

    She raised the bow again.

    He spun around and bolted, but she had already knocked both arrows. If he had wanted to escape, he was more than a minute too late.

    She released the arrows. The mage never stood a chance. The first bounced off the back of his neck, which was apparently more reinforced than the front, but the second found its mark, flying clear through his head to lodge itself in the opposite wall. The man collapsed. This time there was no question about it. He was dead.

    The next moment, both the bow and the arrows vanished.

    "Please stop gaping Master. It's rude."

    Mitsuru closed his mouth, if only so he could start talking again.

    "You're going to have to explain what the hell just happened."

    "I am your Servant, Archer, come in response to your summons as per the rules of the Holy Grail War."

    "Sure. Whatever. I have no idea what you're talking about. Honestly, are you trying to tell me that the Holy Grail, the cup that held the blood of Christ, is here in Mifune? What the hell would it be doing in Japan? I can think of about ten places right off the bat that you'd be more likely to find it, and if—."

    "By the gods, Master, stop talking."

    It was surprisingly difficult for Mitsuru to fulfill that request. He just had too many questions. He'd just escaped an attempt on his life, which really ruined his whole day, but no, that wasn't bad enough, he had to be saved by a kitty-girl. Top that off with the fact that he had a ton of questions he needed answered, and he had a recipe for belligerence. And he did not want Little Miss Meowsy bossing him around either, so…

    "You said I'm your master, so shouldn't that make me the one giving the orders here?"

    The look Archer gave him in the eerie lighting was positively withering.

    "As soon as you have an order worth following, I'll obey it," she drawled, "In the meantime, I'll do as I please."

    She rolled her shoulders back, stretched one arm over the other, and trotted over to the stairs.

    "Will you be joining me, or do you prefer skulking about in holes like a rat?"

    "Aren't servants supposed to be polite, or something?" he complained, following her up out of the basement.

    "You're thinking of the wrong kind of Servant."

    Reaching the top of the stairs, he was alarmed to hear voices.

    "Hide!" he hissed, "I don't want any questions about…" he looked around, not seeing Archer anywhere. "Okay…? Whatever, then."

    A man in a pressed suit and sunglasses came down from the opposite stairwell and gave a quick wave.

    Mr. Kamekura, Mrs. Ryougi said there was a body that needed to be disposed of somewhere on the stairs. Have you moved it?"

    "No."

    "Then where's it gone?"

    "Down to the basement."

    "And who put it there?"

    "It did."

    "A corpse can't move on its own, Mr. Kamekura."

    "I thought so too, but he was surprisingly lively," he deadpanned. If the man before him was amused, he showed it with all the enthusiasm of a tree. "Yeah, sorry, I'll take you to the body."

    Mitsuru made a point of cooperating as best he could from that point forward, if only to get the Ryougi group out of the building as quickly as possible so that he could get an explanation out of that not-cosplayer.

    Where had she run off to, anyway? He began searching the place, wondering where she could have gone. He searched from top to bottom, completely baffled as to how she could have disappeared so completely, but in an inexplicable, indescribable way, he knew she was here. It was like… a very distinct feeling that she hadn't left the building. Somehow, he was one-hundred percent certain of that, but nevertheless, he couldn't find her for the life of him. Eventually though, he did stop searching… The sun was getting low in the sky and it struck him that he'd wasted his entire afternoon. He had deadlines to meet! Did no one care about those?! To hell with that girl. He'd thank her for saving him if he ever saw her again, and that'd be that.

    He woke up his computer, deciding that he could still pick up from where he'd left off so many hours earlier. He closed Firefox, revealing the document underneath it, then smiled as he was struck with an almost charming though frustrating idea for an entirely different story. Frustrating for obvious reasons since it was about a brave cat. Sort of like the opposite of him.

    He put off the tedium of dreaming up a good title, getting right to the story's nuts and bolts. He leaned back in his chair for a moment, trying to keep his flow of ideas from slipping away, and watching as the girl shimmered into existence in front of his desk while he—

    Wait… she did what?!

    He did a double and then a triple take, his expression growing more baffled each time.

    "Okay, so that happened," he said dumbly. Was she a ghost? He tried to read her expression to figure out what she was thinking, but it was blank and dispassionate, a great fortress of apparent apathy. "Oh crap, you're about to tell me that you've been right behind me this entire time, aren't you?" he accused.

    "And if I told you I was?" she asked, one corner of her mouth curling upward.

    "Then you owe me money for wasting my time."

    Her reaction was a troubling mix of pity and disinterest.

    "Do you really think I have anything to pay you with?" she asked, "I told you, I have been summoned to your side, and that was done mere hours ago. I apologize, but you shouldn't blame me for your own obliviousness. Had you any sense, you'd have been fully aware that I hadn't left your side since we first left the cellar. Instead, you spent your time searching for me like a complete idiot. It was as amusing as it was pathetic."

    "You're insulting me. You don't even know me, and you're insulting me."

    "You made a poor first impression, Master. I'm not particularly excited to be under your command."

    "Command for what?" he groaned. "You're going to have to explain this."

    "I told you already, in the basement."

    "You told me you were an archer, that's all I remember. You didn't even tell me your name. Do you expect me to just call you Archer all the time?"

    "Yes, actually. It's safer as my true name would give away my weaknesses."

    "How does that even work? Why does it matter who you are? Aren't you just some magical girl prancing around with a bow and arrow?"

    "If you absolutely must know, I am an acclaimed huntress. I likely shouldn't even have told you that much. You're not a mage, and I have no doubt any half-wit with magic circuits could read your mind without any difficulty."

    He stared at her in disbelief.

    "I want to call you a liar. I want to call you a liar more than anything I've ever wanted before. But you just appeared out of thin air like a ghost, so I'm about ready to believe anything you tell me."

    The girl scowled.

    "Good. Because even having said that, I can already tell you're going to make this difficult for me. I hope you aren't tired, because you are clearly going to need altogether too many things explained to you."


    * * * * * * * * * *


    "Well that was a close call. That was an impressive trick there, Caster."

    "I assuredd you, dey vould nott find us. Endd dey deed nott. I em nott, norr hev I ever been, a deeshonest voman." The heavily accented voice that answered Sakura's pharmacist was raspy and sounded hollow from beneath the stag's skull that she had made into a mask. It was attached to the deep hood of her robe, completely hiding her face at all angles. The robes were made from animal hides with a few bones placed in certain areas, almost like armor, but in the few places where the stitching was loose, it was still possible to see the tattered black dress underneath.

    Aside from her robes, she also wore a number of necklaces. Most were made from animal teeth, mostly from bears and wolves. However there was a single necklace, a fine golden chain around her neck, barely visible behind the furs and bone. Completing the woman's ensemble was a cane with a bone grip shaped like a goat's skull. Most ominously, a pair of red pinpoints burned behind its eye sockets. She seemed to lean heavily on it, but her Master suspected that it was a ploy.

    "Well, the fact that I doubted you for even a second just means I should show you that much more respect going forward."

    "I tenk you, Master, yees, but ees nott neecisery."

    "Oh, no, I think it is. Even if it weren't though, the plan would be the same. We need to find a good location for you to use your Territory Creation and set up a workshop."

    Once again, Sakura's pharmacist had summoned a Caster. Acquiring the catalyst, an old diadem with a snake motif, on such shot notice had cost her a fortune. Or rather, it cost her sister a fortune. Who cared what she did now? She was going to fix it all anyway. Wasn't that the whole point of going to all this trouble?

    Touko had returned to her old stomping grounds on a whim. Things had been going well. She managed to carve out the whole summoning circle with precise details over the course of the day. Using magecraft, it had been fairly easy to avoid making mistakes. However, when she reached the very last step, she realized that someone was going to interrupt her. She hadn't counted on another mage arriving while she was barely halfway through the summoning ritual. Finishing the spell at all had been incredibly lucky. As had getting this Caster, a truly diabolical one. And then, just before she could get the hell outta there, the mage stormed the basement. Except…he wasn't there for her. Or even the workshop. Not that very second at least. The intruder was chasing after the kid she pawned this building off to! And apparently, the kid must have somehow been the reason the mage took so long getting down to the basement.

    And then the kid pulled a Servant out of a hat without so much as an incantation. It was a good analogy. That girl might not have had rabbit's ears, but they were still big and on the top of her head. Also, that was just typical. Of course someone else was going to come along one-up her.

    She thought she was screwed beyond a shadow of a doubt. Ten years ago, when this place was still her atelier, before she cleared out, she'd have been invincible down here. Anyone who chased her down here would find themselves trapped. Now the only person trapped was her. The Archer would sense her, kill either her current body or Caster. Or both, and destroy the catalyst so she couldn't summon her again, and this perfect Caster would be lost to her forever.

    Except it didn't play out like that.

    Whatever Caster had done, she hadn't used a skill; her spell hadn't invoked Presence Concealment. Whatever had made the two of them undetectable was a completely original form of magecraft created by this Caster. But it fooled even the Archer's senses, and they were likely more potent than those of a normal Servant. The woman was brilliant, she had to give her that. However, before they could finally go upstairs and get the hell out of this godforsaken basement, the Ryougi Group came to remove the body—she'd need to have a word with Shiki about that—and they occupied the stairs for another five minutes plus two eternities, give or take. Then, finally, finally, she and her Servant were able to leave.

    The Servant hadn't removed her mask since she was first summoned, but from the sound of her voice, she was a very old woman. Touko had actually been a little worried that she wouldn't be able to get up the stairs, but she quickly realized that she was thinking like a human. If she couldn't walk, she could probably just fly to the top. But Caster proved her wrong again, climbing the stairs with no more difficulty than Touko, not even bothering to make a show of using her cane.

    Out on the street, Touko massaged the back of her neck with one hand.

    "Good to be out of there. Can't say I didn't miss the place, if only a little, but the confinement, not so much."

    Caster laughed; a single, hoarse 'heh!'

    "And what's so funny?"

    "You mey find thet isolation kenn be a blessink."

    "Trust me, I know. I just prefer it to be on my own terms."

    Touko walked over to a bench and sat down, opening a map of Mifune on her lap. Caster sat down beside her, and astralized. There weren't any people here, but that didn't necessarily mean that no one could see her. And with her clothes, she would stand out, and that was putting it lightly. As the Servant looked at the map, she quickly noticed the plethora of messy notes written in various spots all across the city. There were also various symbols and a small reference for them in the corner of the page.

    "Now, to get started, there a number of locations, but for your consideration, our best bet is right… over… here."

    She pointed at a point on the map.

    Seeing the second and less polite of the two notes where she was pointing, Caster raised an eyebrow behind her mask. Touko couldn't tell, of course. Even if she had removed her hood, she was in spirit form.

    "I don't really know what's there now," she continued, "but I know that there should still be an underground parking garage, and it's pretty out of the way. If the lot itself is vacant, then we'll have the place to ourselves, and we won't have to look anywhere else, so that's our first stop."

    "Veery will. For reeferince hoever, how do you prunounce dat name?" Caster said aloud, rather than using their link.

    Touko turned in the direction of her Servant's voice.

    "The Ogawa Apartments."

    She closed the map, and just for a moment, the footnote that Caster had noticed was visible again for one moment as a stray breeze pulled at the map.

    Ogawa Apartments had actually been crossed out, and something else had been written in its place:

    Souren Araya's eight story penis.



    * * * * * * * * * *



    So, yes, Atalanta was planned as 'Bomberman's' Servant. I hope that I did justice to his character. I really hope I didn't make a mess of Shiki. I have a few other scenes with Atalanta in it. As for Touko's Caster, her name isn't stated, but I think I painted a reasonably vivid picture there. She shouldn't be hard to figure out. That said, considering what this woman is known for (among other things), the plan was to end up with Shiki and Touko being at odds, to say the least. Atalanta obviously doesn't like Kamekura, but their relationship was meant to evolve thanks to their mutual affection for Mana, who would soften up the prickly Archer.

    It wouldn't have worked. Like I said in the intro, the scope was far too big. But I still like this scene. I also gave Berzinsky a larger role here than he's had anywhere in canon. I mean, he at least speaks and does a few things instead of laying comatose in a sealed room.

    Next time, I'm thinking that I'll post a Tamamo scene.


    Last edited by Draconic; May 20th, 2021 at 07:43 AM.

  2. #2
    Knight of Joestar SirGauoftheSquareTable's Avatar
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    I figured the fic was dead, but what we got was fun, as was the prequel fic. Am loving these snippets, and it's honestly better that they aren't attached to a convoluted story.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deathhappens View Post
    Really, all 3 of the romances in F/SN are 'for want of a nail' kind of situations.
    Quote Originally Posted by forumghost View Post
    You mean because Shirou winds up falling for the first of the three that he Nailed?
    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias View Post
    I speak for the majority of important people* *a category comprised entirely of myself

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