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Fate/Beyond the Hollow Lens

Chapter Text

Prologue

 

A Bad Break



He was eating dinner at his favorite diner when he got the call. Not from his normal, amami-network exclusive cellphone, but his burner purchased from outside of Amami City. He groaned a bit, taking a bite from his burger and answering it as he swallowed, greeting with “Samona speaking”. He heard a gruff voice on the line answer “It’s me. I need a job done”. He replied with “Got it. Where and what?”, the voice answering “I need the file Nemissa.exe from the Algonsoft NS Buildings servers. Need it done now, they’re there and security is down”. With a nod, he got up quickly and headed for his car, saying “Got it. Anything I should know before going in?”. The voice hesitated as the car started up and began to move at his demand, before it replied “A summoner is confirmed on-site. I don’t know who though. Just that he and a whole squad are there. Be careful”. The man hesitated for a single second, saying “A summoner… or a devil summoner?”, to which the voice clarified “Devil summoner. His squad are familiar masters though”. Nodding, he chuckled and said “Well they aren’t gonna stand a chance. Not with what I’m packing” and retrieved his secret weapon; A gun-shaped PC. “Please tell me you’re at least picking up extra storage. The file needs to be retrieved tonight” the voice said, trembling a bit in the middle. “Nah. It’s got plenty. I’ll just wipe a few if I need to. Oh… and payment. Can I assume the usual?”. An affirmative sound came from the phone as he left a tunnel and saw it in the distance. “Got it. I’m nearing it. I’ll call when the job’s done” he said, and hung up. He pulled out his gun PC and opened it with a pull of the trigger. After that he stated “Username, Urabe Kouichirou. PIN, JF29”. With that, the gun PC came to life and a single prompt flashed on screen. ‘Boot Devil Summoning Program?’. “Yes” he stated clearly and the screen turned to white before running code. He knew it’d take a few minutes to boot. That gave him enough time to navigate to the building and park. Once it was done, the computer had a single prompt. “Summon?”. He decided against responding for the moment and decided to go inside first. After all, if they were here then that meant that all security was shut down. That meant he had free reign over the facility. 

 

Once inside, he saw a few salarymen running away. They were screaming loudly. He stepped aside as one stopped, saying “R-Run away! Monsters are tearing the floors apart!”. He frowned and looked towards the elevator. He could feel it. A small reality marble had been activated inside this building. The summoner no doubt. If they had gone this far… “Understood. Get in your car and drive. Don’t stop until you reach tokyo. Take the first flight out. Whatever money you have, forget it”. The man hesitated, as he simply said “Trust me. If you aren’t dead here, they’ll make sure you are out there” and continued into the building. The man gasped, backing away before screaming and running. He knew it was pointless. However, some small part of him hoped that he’d be overlooked long enough for his advice to work. He entered the elevator and pressed the button for the fourth floor. It didn’t respond and he groaned. It meant they had shut down the elevator. He left and looked around the expansive lobby, seeing stairs not too far away. Groaning he made his way over. 

 

As he entered the fourth floor, the feeling of the reality marble worsened. He could practically taste the mana filling the air. He frowned. With a press of his button, three figures appeared around him. A large-headed humanoid with a stocky body, a creature with a boys head but a spiky wooden body like a caterpillar, and a woman with long elfin ears and pink eyes. “Master” the female greeted “How may we serve?”. “Eyes open. You can guess the situation. Don’t wanna get jumped” Urabe stated, stalking deeper inside “We’re doing a grab and run. Electronic so might need to make space later”. With a nod, the female stated “I cannot speak for them, but I live to serve. If you need rid of me, merely do so. I shall accept”. “Yeah, yeah!” the boy caterpillar stated “We just wanna be helpful!”. The stocky humanoid laughed, saying “Course… it helps that ya supply such… fresh prana. Mmmmmm…”. All followed, quieting down. They focused now on their environments. They weren’t about to let another of their kind slip by them and hit Urabe. After all, he was their master. So long as he held the gun pc, it was proof. Yet, they were unnerved. There was no sign of other masters despite sensing them. There wasn’t even a hint of others like them, that would flock here first chance they got. Once they got to the server room, the stocky humanoid took point by the door, while the caterpillar boy crawled up the wall and waited above it to ambush anyone dumb enough to walk in. the woman kept her eyes focused as Urabe connected his gun pc to the mainframe computer. For several minutes, nothing changed. Then the woman reacted visibly and said “They’re coming. Four of them… no, they’re summoning now”. Clicking his tongue, Urabe sighed saying “From where?”. “Five floors down. Taking the stairs. They’ll be here in about ten minutes”. Urabe nodded, saying “Then I gotta cut and run. Sorry. This program… it’s massive”. Biting her lip, the woman said “Hurry. You have five minutes. The other five will be spent running”. With a nod, Urabe said “Delete the devil summoning program, code a-f-f-l-comma-9-2-1”. Code ran on the gun PC and all three of the summoned beings vanished. Then, the download began. Urabe checked his gun. It was hard to get firearms in Japan and it was mostly useless in his world. However, it was all he had. He knew he could take most summoners they employed, but a squad was trouble. Their familiars, while weak in comparison, were still distractions. As such, he opted to cut and run. No need to fight directly. Once the program downloaded, he turned to leave and then saw him. His worst nightmare. 

 

“Well, well, well… if it isn’t Urabe” the man before him stated, his accent thick. He was caucasian and had brown slicked back hair. His sideburns connected with his goatee and matched the sunglasses he wore. He wore a black vest over a white button-up shirt and black slacks. He wore a belt with a golden buckle and was tightening fingerless gloves over his hands as he took a puff of a cigarette, saying “It’s been too long, friend”. Urabe spat on the ground, saying “Don’t you dare call us friends after what you did”. The vested man laughed, saying “True, true… but ya know, that’s your fault right? If ya hadn’t-” but was cut off as a gun shot rang out. Something materialized and swiped its arm, sending it flying. However, Urabe used this moment to run for the door. The creature that had appeared, taking on the appearance of a bat winged baboon, leapt for Urabe, screeching as the vested man yelled “Don’t let him get away!” . Urabe slammed the door shut on its face, creating a deep dent in it. He turned to run but saw a few individuals with red-eyed dogs waiting. “Shit!” He yelled and ran the opposite way. He was relieved to see the stairs but despaired. They only went up. Growling, he turned and quickly muttered a spell under his breath on the door, locking it. He saw through the window the door from the server room fly off its hinges as the baboon ran out. He ran up the stairs, not wanting to give it a chance to catch him. 

 

“Hey… got some bad news Kinap” he stated, pressing the last few keys on his gun PC. “What?” the gruff voice asked. He answered “Well I got the program… but I’m cornered. So I gotta ditch it. Hope ya find it” and then the PC flashed a message ‘Password Accepted. Locking’ before closing in on itself. “What!? Urabe! Don’t be reckless!” the voice began but he cut off saying “You know… it wasn’t all bad. Even after he killed them, you gave me a path forward… and before that, I got to enjoy life like a normal human… something being a mage normally wouldn’t allow….” before turning to the city skyline and continued “He’ll be here soon. Then we’ll talk… and settle things”. “Urabe! I can open a path forward! I just need ten-” but was again cut off as Urabe continued, saying “Don’t bother. He’ll be here in 2. I don’t have my demons. I’m through…” and with a swing of his arm tossed the gun PC over the chainlink fence surrounding the building top. “I only wish… I had appreciated the time I had with them before it was too late” Urabe stated, moving the phone away as the voice called out “Urabe!” before he hung up. He dropped the phone and fired his gun into it a few times as the door swung open. Seeing the sight, the vested man stated “Urabe… an unusual outburst. You used to be so calm and collected. You were on the fast track. I just gotta know… why throw it all away?”. Urabe simply pointed his gun, as the baboon appeared again along with a tall, red giant with a horn on its head and he responded “You know why, Finnegan. It isn’t my fault you can’t understand what having a family means”. Sneering, Finnegan simply nodded and both creatures flew at him. He only fired once before they tore him apart. That was the end of the soul known as Urabe Kouichirou. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

 

A Tale is Told

Rin

 

Rin was not good with technology. Modern dvd players confounded her intensively and she could barely work a cellphone. This made her think… unpleasant but promising thoughts. Amami City, the City of Paradise. She barely paid attention to it due to the fact the ‘Paradise’ aspect came from technology. What had surprised her was the fact it only erected itself in 5 years… and that the clocktower never took action against it. It stood as the antithesis to magecraft and yet the clocktower seemingly left it alone. So she thought. She overheard a conversation earlier. She remembered it clearly. It was between an enforcer and Lord El-Melloi II. 

 

“As you suspect sir… I intentionally misfiled my report to get an audience” the enforcer stated “It was… vital that we meet face-to-face”. “Hmm. So? What is so important that you risk your life? Surely you know falsifying records as an enforcer will not lead to a long life…” El-Melloi demanded. “It’s mainly because… what I saw… what I experienced… if the higher ups learn, I legitimately fear it could lead to the dissolvement of the clock tower” the enforcer stated “You are one of the more discreet lords and your students trust you, even in this environment. I chose you explicitly. Execute me after my report if you must, but please keep this confidential”. Silence followed for several deafening minutes before El-Melloi sighed and asked “What is so terrible it requires my attention?”. The enforcer took a deep breath before saying “I have reason to believe a rogue mage group is attempting heresy. They may be trying to combine magic and technology. A new… I think the term is ‘program’... has been leading to several people falling unconscious. An examination of the victims led to discovering their souls were gone”. Rin contained herself but felt panic for a moment. “Are you certain?” El-Melloi II asked “If what you say is true… yes I see now. This is a problem... “. “Indeed. Those responsible for that city must be killed and their research destroyed. We cannot let out the successful merging of magecraft and technology” the enforcer stated “The results would be disastrous to both mankind and magic societies everywhere”. Rin chose that moment to leave. She had a different conclusion, one that upset her greatly. 

 

As Rin recalled that, that anger rose. After hearing that, she researched where that enforcer went and found Amami City. After researching it more, she discovered why it was so troubling. Further, it cemented something for her. If her experience was anything to go by, this more likely was the result of a Servant. However, ever since the Greater Grail was dismantled, that should have been impossible. Yet she couldn’t shake how similar the report was to incidents of gas leaks in Fuyuki City during the Fifth Holy Grail war. As she contemplated her next move now she knew it was going there herself. However, the question was who to involve. If she let slip to El-Melloi II about her plans, he’d stop her. On the other hand, that limited her pool of potential help to only two people; Luvia Edelfelt and Shirou Emiya. Frankly, she wasn’t sure why it was a question. She disliked Edelfelt a lot so the choice of Emiya was obvious. With that decided she stood. She had a ‘hero of justice’ to talk to. The thought made her groan a bit. 



Spookies

 

“Let’s do it here,” A girl's voice stated, moving towards one of the many PC booths that dotted the cityscape of Amami City. He smirked however because he was at this one for a reason. It had yet to be patched so it could properly use the newly updated firewall of Amami City. As such, it was the most vulnerable terminal in Amami City. He pulled out his tablet and booted up one of his hacker programs, aptly titled ‘Spookies.exe’. Plugging his tablet into the terminal, he saw various screens and codes begin to run. He knew what they were. Spookies.exe was working its magic on the terminal, using old logins to get access. “Don’t forget where the Leader said the Winner’s List was. We just gotta get into that Paradigm X Beta!” the girl said again. “I know Hitomi, jus’ relax. I got this” He stated, watching the program work. Then it happened. He saw a server list. He selected Algonix and watched as it broke its way deeper in. Then he selected the registrant list and scrolled through the entries. Finally, he saw one particularly bland individual and selected it. His program deleted all the information on the individual and instead began to insert dummy info. He repeated this process a few times, putting his info in the middle selected. The dummy info was legitimate, but it was of people who either weren’t in Amami City at the moment or would never come but had an ID ready. Either way, it was used so he could get a nice pass into the beta and wouldn’t be suspected at all. Once finished, he navigated out of the servers completely before the firewall realized something slipped through. “Done” he stated “Now we just gotta wait for them to update so they can see their ‘oversights’ and issue our beta codes”. The girl smiled happily and said in a high tone “Great! Then let’s hurry to your place! It’s gotta be in by now!”. As he unplugged his tablet, a voice rang out from the terminal, catching them both off guard “Bearer of a strong soul. We meet at last”. “Wh-what!?” He cried out, backing away. “There is no time for greetings. The authorities are on their way… be aware though, you are in danger. We will meet again”. He didn’t hesitate, turning and walking away. Hitomi followed him, saying “Man… weird. To think a hacker was on the same time as us…”. Nodding, he stated “Yeah… let’s ask the leader about it. Maybe he knows”.          

 

As he got home, he saw his sister and father talking. She looked at him and he internally groaned. He didn’t hate her, but he did find her annoying. Anytime he upgraded his PC, she fawned over it like a grade schooler and always talked his ear off. Despite this, he always listened and engaged because he found it refreshing. Perhaps a few years ago he found it highly annoying. However, when he started hacking that changed. The world had grown darker and his sister and hitomi were lights in that darkness he could rely on to cheer him up when he fell down. Of course, only one was privy to his activities. Putting on a smile, he simply said “Hey, I’m home”. His sister ran over, almost yelling “Bro, bro! Guess what came in the mail! A license for Paradigm X!”. He put on a shocked face and said “Wow! Really?”. “Yes” his father stated, taking his glasses off as his mother came in from the kitchen with dinner, “We got it in the mail today. In fact, you probably walked by the mailman”. Smiling himself, he looked at his sister and said “Well this is great news… after dinner wanna try it out?”. Nodding enthusiastically, his little sister was about to say yes as his mother sat down, asking “Tomoko… did you finish your homework yet?”. His sister stopped, turning slowly with a smile and was about to say yes as their mother’s face slowly turned stern. Tomoko sighed and muttered “No…” to which their mother said “Then… finish it. Then you can watch him play”. As Tomoko sighed and sat down to eat, his mother looked at Hitomi and said “You can join us too. More company at the table leads to a happier home”. “Thanks miss Tsukamoto” Hitomi said, taking her shoes off with him as they joined the family for dinner. 

 

Once dinner was over, Tomoko went to her room to finish her homework. While his mother cleaned up from dinner and his father watched television, he went to his room to try out Paradigm X. However, Hitomi commented as the program loaded. “Hey, you have a new message… oh! It’s from them!”. Sighing, he pulled up the message and pulled out his tablet. Hitomi went to the door and kept an ear out while he connected his tablet to it. He pulled up his decrypter program, Taxes.exe, and ran it. The message that once held random characters, for example the sender was xyz1110982ffty5595@ParadigmX.com, now was legible. The sender was Spookies@ParadigmX.com and the message was informing him of a location change. Shimahama building 3’s parking garage to be specific. He didn’t show it but he was worried. He wondered why the leader decided to move the base so soon. He had to go see. He canceled Paradigm X’s loading and stood up, saying “We gotta go”. Hitomi looked at him, frowned, and asked “Why? What do they want?”. “He moved,” he answered “Wouldn’t unless something’s wrong, not this soon. We’re gonna go check it out”. Groaning, Hitomi stated “Great… but alright. I agree”. He left, his mother asking “Leaving already? You just got home”. “I know ma, but work called. Something happened and they need me. I’ll be back in a few hours” he said. “Alright… well, just be to bed on time… and call if you’re sleeping out! I’ll worry otherwise” His mother replied as he left “What a responsible young man”. 

 

It took a bit. The trains ran slower at night so those going home could stress less. However, he arrived on time and looked around. He didn’t see the base anywhere. “Are we early?” Hitomi asked. “Maybe… or maybe-” but was cut off as he saw it coming and said “There he is”. The semi pulling the trailer that contained their base pulled to a stop next to them, opening the passenger door. On the driver’s seat was the boss of their small group. “Yo” he called out “On time. Always been a good little ‘employee’ haven’t ya?”. Smirking, he responded “Course. Someone has to be the responsible one” as he walked forward to the semi. “Come in. I’ll explain. Others should be on their way” his boss said and put it in park. As he walked he examined the base for what had to be the thirtieth time in his life. The sleek design was common in Amami City, the ‘City of Paradise’ but the emblem on the side was unique. He watched as it went from a stereotypical corporate logo for Algonsoft to the logo of their hacker group, known as the Spookies, named after their leader Spooky. As he walked in, his leader finished connecting a gun to the on-board computer and said “So. Here’s the deal. I bought this PC from a pawn shop at the Amami Bay and ever since some suits have been tailing me. I managed to lose them but it’s got me a bit spooked. So I moved the base here”. Nodding, he asked “When did you buy it?”. “Tonight… why?” Spooky answered, asking a question to which he responded “Well I did a hack tonight to get into the beta but things sorta went south. A hacker was also on and he announced himself…. Start’in to wonder if the two aren’t connected”. Their boss shrugged, saying “Dunno… I’m gonna try to get some answers though. Watch the place while I’m gone. The others should be here soon enough” and left. He sighed but nodded and walked inside. He already knew the deal. Spooky was going to go the pawn shop and follow whatever leads that dragged up. Meanwhile, he had to be here to keep an eye out and move the trailer if needed. Spooky had all the equipment needed so even a kid like him could do it. He just had to punch in the codes and the base would move itself to the next designated hiding spot. Additionally, it would alert him when the decryption on the gun was done… well it was more of a gun-shaped PC. 

 

As he thought, Hitomi suddenly gasped and asked “Hey, hey! This rig has super good comps right?”. He nodded as he sat at it, saying “Yeah. Boss took out a loan to buy it. He bought top of the line stuff and upgraded it constantly… plus the software is homebrewed so Algonsoft can’t peep”. “Then… you think we can login to Paradigm X!?” Hitomi asked. That program. He scarcely believed its promises himself. It was an ambitious project. He had to see it for himself so he said “Sure. Let’s try logging in” and pulled out his license. He inserted it into the on-board card reader and Paradigm X downloaded onto the computer. Unlike at home, which had taken some time, this program downloaded in seconds. Additionally, the launcher loaded immediately once finished and auto-entered his credentials. Once in, he was asked if he wanted the VR or Desktop experience. There was a third option however that allowed both so the family could watch as well. He stood up, heading to another part of the trailer. “Hitomi, click that third option would you? I’m diving in”. Smiling, Hitomi nodded and did just that, saying “Alright Tsukamoto! Done and done!”. With that, he put on the VR gear they had. It was useful for 3d servers that Algonsoft often used. However, it had gameplay capabilities and as expected it was upgraded recently. Likely due to Paradigm X’s release. He put on the visor, connected the set and the gloves. Once everything was ready, he dived in. 

 

As he floated through virtual space, he didn’t feel anything. He only saw white. Then he saw a dark void ahead. He knew what it was instantly and floated there. As he landed, the world around him shaped itself. He was in a single room with a column of light in the center. A screen appeared in his FOV that showed an attendant in blue clothing that said “Welcome to Paradigm X. Since you are recent to our records, you are flagged to watch a video. It will explain the basics of our program. Show the video now?”. He nodded, saying “Yes”. The attendant nodded, and the environment changed instantly. He was in a conference hall and ahead of him was Paradigm X’s mascot, Captain Paradigm. The imposing figure, dressed like an american superhero, stated loudly “Welcome one and all to the one and only Paradigm X! This ambitious project seeks to turn the real into digital and the digital to the real! This is all thanks to the Algonsoft Corporation! With its massive server farms around the city, Paradigm X seeks to be a digital paradise for anyone interested! Using your city-issued computer and your new beta license, you can be the first to test and enjoy it! You can live as yourself, your ideal, or something new entirely! The choice is yours! Simply go through the character creation process!”. With a flex, he continued, saying “For those with the funds, we even allow the purchase of multiple characters! So you can not just be one person, but many if you desire! This city is about living as you wish!”. The mascot posed and flexed this time, finishing with “Now go, enjoy the City of Dreams, and live your life how you want!”. 

 

The environment returned to normal as the attendant asked “Was that an adequate explanation?”. “Yes” he answered “Can I leave?”. “Through that door sir. Welcome, to Paradigm X” the attendant answered, gesturing to it. It opened on its own and he walked through. He saw the city he grew up in but… different. Everything was neon colored and many of the buildings had different aesthetics. It was then he remembered its  tagline; the city of dreams. “So… they altered the city huh…? Guess the users are given some freedom” he muttered, beginning to explore. After a solid thirty minutes of exploring, Hitomi suddenly exclaimed “Hey! There’s a theatre here! Let’s check it out!”. He laughed, saying “Wow. This city of dreams and the theatre’s got your gig? Alright. Your call” as he walked over and entered. He saw someone in a strange getup greet him. The woman was working on some seats as he entered but she turned and said “Ah! Welcome to the VR Theatre! Sadly we’re closed but we’ll be open soon!”. Nodding, he said “Ah. Sorry to waste your time. My friend was just excited”. “It’s no problem. This is going to be the first immersive theatre ever. I’m excited too” the girl said “We’ll be open in three days. Please, wait until then”. Nodding, he left and suddenly Hitomi said “Hey, find a TV! They’re gonna broadcast something soon if my phones right!”. Nodding, he went into the street and looked around. He saw a blimp in the distance with that very conference on now. He quickly navigated towards it. 

 

As he watched he listened to the two men on-screen that he was familiar with. Nishi Akuma was the mayor of Amami City and the man behind everything. When he was elected, he began sweeping changes to the sleepy country town. He had the help of the now famous Kadokura Tensei, the CEO of the corporation Algonsoft. What started as a simple software corp became a hardware manufacturer under him and eventually evolved into becoming integral to everyday life in Amami City. No one else knows how much though. As he listened to the two gush about Paradigm X and the perfection of both with its development, he could only think how integrated Algonsoft was to Amami City. Officially, they were responsible for both the city-wide free internet access, personalized free computers, firewall security for all internet accessible systems, and paradigm x. Unofficially, from what he’d seen, a lot of their hardware showed up in unexpected places. The portable terminals, cars, even TV Screens had Algonsoft-made technology. It’s why he accepted Hitomi’s invitation to join the Spookies. He was curious how deep the rabbit hole went. His desire aligned with the groups. They wanted to know the full depth of the conspiracy going on. Once it finished, Hitomi stated “Oh hey, the PC finished decrypting it! We can open it now! Log out and we’ll check it out!”. Nodding, he opened the menu and stopped. He couldn’t move. He looked around the alley as he tried to move. He found he could but it was slow. Like he was in thick tar. Then he stopped moving as a ball of light turned the corner and floated towards him. “H-Hitomi…!?” he cried out “Help!”. “I’m trying but the system’s locked! I can’t-” but stopped talking as a voice emanated through the base stereos and into his headset. “SOULS” it said “I NEED… MORE SOULS”. It began to approach him, keeping him locked… no… he was passing out? He began to feel light-headed, then dizzy, then his vision spun and began to go black. 

 

“Do not fall, Arata Tsukamoto!” a voice cried out. A coyote leapt at the ball, roaring as it did. The ball cried out and flew high into the sky, disappearing from sight. The coyote watched it before turning to him. Freed, he gasped deeply and panted hard. “Holy crap are you okay Arata!?” his friend cried out, grabbing him. “He is fine, child” the coyote stated “Recovering from his soul being grasped”. “S-soul…? Wh-what?” Hitomi stuttered as he yelled “What the hell do you mean!? Are you saying that wasn’t a hack!?”. “No” the Coyote calmly responded “It was not. That creature was a being beyond mortal comprehension. It is devouring souls to sustain its existence… and this electronic paradise is full of ideal targets… like yourself”. “What are you waiting for, get out Tsuk- I mean Sanaga!” Hitomi cried out. “Fear not, it will not return while I am here… but you should return. Destiny calls for you and you must answer. When the time is right, we will meet again” and the coyote turned to leave. “A… are you even… human?” he asked. It stopped, turning and answered with zero hesitation or reluctance “What made you think I ever was? I am not…. Ah! My manners escape me, apologies. My name is Kinap. Remember it, for it is the only way we will recognize each other… for now, return to the real world and master the basics of that weapon you hold by you. We will meet at such a time”. With a swish of its tail it turned and left. It left him with many questions but he showed zero hesitation. He opened the menu and navigated to logging out. He wanted nothing to do with that strange light. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

 

Possession



Rin

 

Rin Tohsaka stepped out of the airport with a certain redheaded boy. He was carrying their hands on luggage while Tohsaka handled arranging for transportation. She had brought Shirou along both because she couldn’t deny his combat experience and because he knew far more about handling technology than she did. She could drive a car fine enough, but Amami City didn’t use normal cars. As she stared at the small, compact, and wheeless car they were packing their luggage into and getting ready to drive, she was completely clueless as to even begin approaching it. She got into the passenger side and watched as Shriou began to work the machine to drive them. She sighed and asked “How are you even supposed to drive that thing…? With mimicry?”. Shirou shook his head, saying “No… it’s a smart car. We tell it where we want to go and it’ll do it itself”. Tohsaka sighed, asking “Just how did they accomplish that…?”. Shirou shrugged, saying “I dunno. I could visualize if you like but it might not give the results you expect”. Tohsaka shook her head, saying “It’s not really important… but check it anyway. I need to know something”. Shirou nodded, putting a hand on the dashboard and muttered “Trace on”. She watched as his magic circuits hummed to life and his spell did its work. She once called it useless but had stopped calling it that. He had made it one of the most amazing information gathering spells she had seen. While it wasn’t applicable to spells like Gandr that simply existed for a single purpose and fizzled out once done, she had seen him scan and determine magic rituals that to this day she wasn’t able to hide from him. She was willing to bet that if trained enough, the man before her could unravel magical mysteries that stumped magic users for centuries now. The thought made her snicker internally at a simple bumpkin overturning decades of precedent. Of course she never encouraged this behavior. In fact, she warned him away from such activities. It helped that his desires and dreams didn’t align with such ideals. He did want to be a ‘Hero of Justice’ and becoming researcher of the century didn’t fit that paradigm. 

 

“Interesting” Shirou stated “I have no clue. There’s a computer onboard and it seems responsible for most of this car's functions… but the how is escaping me. All I’m getting is coding… which I can’t make heads or tails of”. Frowning, she asked “No magic?”. Shirou shook his head as Tohsaka simply sighed and said “Well glad to know the idiots in charge aren’t exposing everyone to it”. She froze a bit when she felt the car begin to move but calmed herself, remembering his explanation. They were heading to the property they purchased, a small run-down convenience store with a basement. After they’d set up their workshop, she’d make contact with the second owner to go over recent events. There was no way they weren’t aware of recent oddities. “So” Shirou spoke up, interrupting her thoughts “Any idea why they’re going about it this way?”. She shrugged, saying “I can’t begin to fathom why someone would even think to combine technology and magic. The two are wholly exclusive. One inherently degrades the other”. Shirou nodded somewhat, saying “I see. Still there must be a purpose… they couldn’t have just done it to see if they could, right?”. Rin simply deadpanned to Shirou, asking “You ask that, despite your time in clocktower?”. Shirou laughed a bit, but replied “You have a point there. Then I guess our best bet would be investigating the corporation itself. See what they’re up to with this stuff”. Rin shook her head negatively, saying “First we set up our workshop. Then I’ll check in with the second owner. After that… yes. We investigate Algonsoft. I’m sure we’ll discover something if we do that”. It was about then that the car stopped at their location. The run-down convenience store that would be their base of operations for their stay. 

 

As they walked in, Rin frowned. “Really… already?” she muttered, to which Shirou replied “Makes sense. All citizens get a free computer… so of course we’d get one too, moving here and all” and he walked to it. Picking up an envelope, he stated “Ah… they left a note for us too. Want to read it? I’ll do a sweep”. Nodding, Shirou set it down and began to walk around, using his Visualization spell on everything to check for bugs. She meanwhile read the letter. It was an official welcome letter. It mentioned how due to a lack of details on personalizing their computer, they went with an ordinary, sleek design. What it mentioned however troubled her. It mentioned noticing her long lineage and as such made the computer user-friendly so she wouldn’t struggle with using some of the more complicated features. It was both insulting and showed that the government was definitely cooperating with Algonsoft. Putting it away, she made her way downstairs as Shirou came up. “All clear. I’ll go scan the computer and we’ll be good” Shirou stated. Tohsaka shook her head, saying “Just don’t bring it down and it won’t be an issue. Let’s get our workshop secured”. Shirou hesitated but nodded and followed her down. She pulled out a few gems and began to work on making a bounded field so no one she didn’t want walking in would. 



Spookies

 

Panting hard, he threw the VR equipment off him. He was still restrained enough that it didn’t damage the equipment, but he was still freaked out and didn’t want to risk it reactivating the system while he was still hooked in. He immediately moved away, taking a seat at the PC. Hitomi had moved away now, and then moved to him and tried to take his pulse, asking “Tsukamoto! Are you alright!?”. He tried to calm down but couldn’t. His body trembled. What he felt was fear. No… something deeper. More primal. He felt terror. Like something had done a thing that should not have been done. Like something had blasphemed him and gotten away with it. “Your pulse is accelerated but not worrisome… Tsukamoto? Can you hear me?” Hitomi pressed. He finally looked at her, saying “Y-yeah… s-sorry just… I might have… did you see that…?”. Hitomi slowly nodded, saying “Yeah… I watched that light… float there. Then you suddenly convulsed violently. Seven times. I tried to approach but then you started flailing… and then that… coyote appeared. After it left, you logged out”. Staring for several moments, he asked “Did it… say anything…? Either of them…?”. Nodding, Hitomi said “I know they did but I was so worried that I wasn’t listening well”. Sighing deeply, he finally stated “Then… I’m not crazy. That actually happened… I.. it claimed that light tried to steal my soul”. Frowning, Hitomi asked “Is that… is that even possible…?”. Shaking his head, he replied “Can’t be… I mean… what would it even do with it…? Forget it. It’s just some crazy hackers”. Looking at Hitomi, he replied “What about the gun PC? Is it done?”. Hitomi nodded, saying “It finished after the conference. I didn’t want to mention it because we were having so much fun….”. He gave a dry laugh and moved to it, pulling it to him as he closed the live feed for the vr. It was off since the equipment went off anyway. As he pulled up the decryption program, he saw that it was completed. What he found however was odd. 

 

The machine's specs were… built towards one factor: Processing power. It’s storage was good for a portable computer but compared to PCs it was laughable. It only had 100 gbs for storage after all while even his home PC touted 5 tbs. The spookies computers? The VR setup had 10 tbs alone. The computer he used? 100 tbs. All using single ssds. Spooky of course set up RAIDs so that the systems had backups to fall back on in the event of an emergency. What shocked him was the processing power. It rivaled the systems he was working with now. How this guy managed to get that onto a portable computer like this was beyond him. The only explanation was they used an executive Algonsoft CPU. That was reserved exclusively for rich citizens of Amami City, like the mayor, the CEO, managers, etc. Even if you had the cash, you likely couldn’t even access the market for one. Who the hell owned this? After that, he looked at the login credentials for the gun PC. Username was Urabe Kouichirou, the PIN was JF29. Then he looked at the onboard programs and frowned. A chat room app called ‘Phantom’s Log’, another app was ‘Conspiracy Testimonials Daily’ which looked a lot like a reddit ripoff for conspiracy theories, then there was the ‘Amami Satellite Feed’ app which seemed to direct to a live feed of… the Amami City-owned Satellite? They had one? He put that aside and looked at the next one. It was called ‘Amami City Surveillance Suite’ and was… connected to every security camera owned by Amami City. He was creeped out now, knowing the previous owner had access to all the city’s street cameras. However the next one was damning about the legality of this device. ‘Amami City Network Cams’ was the title and he knew when he read the details that it was looking at every webcam connected to the Amami City network. Thankfully, his home and this place, among others, were exempt. All hackers knew better than to keep some software installed, the first thing he did was clean his home system of spyware. Spooky definitely did that with all his equipment, meaning this program wasn’t able to get access easily. Still, he felt dirty having this. Then there were the final two apps. ‘Grimoire’ and ‘Devil Summoning Program’ were their titles. The grimoire was a self-updating text file that was currently completely empty. The Devil Summoning Program details however… chilled him. “Summon… demons… from beyond? What the hell…?” he muttered as he looked at the gun-shaped PC and gulped. “Wh-what? Wh-why… Why are you saying that?” Hitomi asked, very nervous. “This program… that’s all that’s written about it... “ he muttered, looking back. Then he saw one more program. “Nemissa.exe?” he questioned, opening the details. He saw nothing and said “What kind of program is this…? Spookies systems have nothing on it? How?”. Hitomi frowned, saying “Think we should open it and find out?”. He stared for a few moments, then said “No choice… lemme run the firewall. Just in case it activates and tries to bust in”. With a few clicks, the computer’s homebrewed firewall was on full alert and he picked up the gun PC. He already guessed how to activate it. He put his finger on the trigger and pulled. 

 

Several seconds passed and nothing happened. After a few minutes, Hitomi made the ‘Eh?’ sound, asking “Did you… do you maybe… need to turn the safety off…?”. Feeling his face go red, he checked. He did, in fact, need to turn the safety off first. Like a real gun. He did just that and put his finger back on the trigger, saying “Okay… gun PC booting up… try 2!” before pulling said trigger. This time, the folded up end unfolded, revealing a screen that projected a holographic keyboard on one side and the miniature monitor on the other. He looked at it and saw the login screen, clearly homebrewed. It had a picture of some man he never met, probably the original owner, and requested the username and password of the owner. He entered them and then a new prompt came up. ‘This user has died. You are now the new owner. Please enter your credentials’ it read. Frowning, he mulled it over when Hitomi stated “Why not just put your handle in? That should be fine”. Nodding, he entered it. ‘Sanaga’ as the username, and set the PIN to AT25. After that, the message displayed ‘New User Sanaga registered! Booting up now!’ and after a few seconds the desktop for the gun PC displayed. He waited a few seconds and saw nothing happen. “So Nemissa.exe doesn’t load up on-” but was interrupted when it suddenly shook violently. “What the heck!?” Hitomi cried out as a flash occurred suddenly. She covered her eyes, as did he. When they looked, they saw a ball of light… very similar to the one in Paradigm X. Before that primal terror could settle in again, it began to fly around manically. They both backed away, but this had the opposite intended effect. It stopped mid-flight for a few seconds, and then suddenly rocketed at Hitomi. “Touno!” He cried, running to her, hoping to push her out of the way. However, he was short by a couple of feet. The light ball slammed into Hitomi, knocking her over as it phased into her. “Hitomi!!!” he cried, panic settling in. He fell to his knees next to her, having dropped the gun PC. He managed to catch her fall and held her close. “Hitomi! Hitomi!” he cried out, as he took her pulse. He breathed a bit in relief when he found it was stable. However, he knew something was wrong. That light ball looked exactly like the one from inside Paradigm X. That’s when suddenly Hitomi changed. Specifically, her hair became very, very long. White as snow as well. As her eyes opened, he realized that her eyes were white as well. Suddenly, Hitomi sat upright, looking right at him… and smiled big. 

 

“Yoooo…. I’m free! I’m finally free!” Hitomi declared, hugging him tightly. At first, it didn’t really register. Then suddenly, his face became flushed with pink. “Uhhh… o-okay…?” he stuttered, a bit shell shocked at the sudden 180. “I am! I’m finally out of that digital prison! It’s all thanks to you! Oh and your friend here. Really nice of you to have a body ready for me. How’d you know my type?” the thing inside Hitomi stated, standing up from its hug “Oh, by the way, I’m borrowing our friend's body. Name’s Nemissa. I’m a demon… wow. So this is what it looks like on the other side” and began to explore. “Wh-what!?” he cried out, standing “Get out of my friend!”. Nemissa chuckled, barely giving him a glance, saying “Relax. I ain’t gonna bite kiddo… that said, it’s time I moved on. Adios” and started to open the door. He grabbed her arm and pulled, saying “Not until you release my friend! Release Hitomi!”. Nemissa looked shocked at first, then glared, saying “Kid. You do realize what I am right? Let me go, and I’ll forget this. Don’t and-” then suddenly the face changed back to Hitomi’s, as she cried out “Arata! Help! Nemissa… she’s possessing me!” before Nemissa wrested control, saying “Calm down! I just got this body, stop fighting!”. Frowning, he said “That isn’t your body! That’s Hitomi’s! Now give it back!”. Nemissa glared at him, saying “I ain’t gonna say it again! I got this fair and square! I ain’t going back to that prison!”. Then silence pervaded. Nemissa glared, clearly thinking something, but sighed and said “Look kid. I’m sorry. You spend a few years in prison and then tell me you wouldn’t leave even if it ruined someone else’s life. Them’s the brakes”. He glared back, saying “I’m not letting go”. Growling, Nemissa was about to bark when a voice spoke up, saying “Yo! Hitomi, didja get a new look or something?”. Standing before them was the sharply dressed teenager known as Six. He wore a black sleeveless shirt over a white zipped over jacket, white jeans, and white boots. 

 

“No! She’s been-” but saw Nemissa smirk. He stopped and realized quickly what it was about. If he revealed the truth, Six may not believe him. If he didn’t, she could just leave. He gritted his teeth and asked “Six. We’ve known each other long enough. Would you believe me if I said something crazy?”. Six laughed, saying “I dunno. I might believe you saw something that made you believe it. Why?”. Nemissa frowned, and before he could say anything said “We just got in a fight. That’s all. Hacker boy here almost got caught. That gun PC had some tough systems”. He frowned now but nodded, saying “Yeah… Hitomi here-” but was cut off as Nemissa said “Ah-ah, handles. I’m going by… I think Nemissa sounds right”. “That sounds du-” he started to say, but was cut off by a new voice stating “C’mon Sanaga, be chill. Nemissa works”. He knew this adult too. Well, young adult. The 19-year old man nicknamed Lunch was the group's hardware expert. He had an unusual but cool-looking hairstyle and wore a green trench coat over jeans and a rock t-shirt as well as combat boots. Pouches lined his belt, all filled with little gadgets he used. “Hey, the computer on? I wanna upgrade it” and walked over. He unplugged the gun PC and looked at Nemissa, then at Lunch, saying “It is… but I ain’t us’in it at the moment”. “Sweet” Lunch said, turning it off. After that, he pulled out a screwdriver from a pouch and undid the side, exposing the motherboard inside. “Got us a nice little present, courtesy of Algonsoft. The latest CPU that they’re gonna ship out tomorrow” Lunch explained, popping the old CPU out and pulling out a similar sized but sleeker looking one and popping it in, saying “This things gonna bump up the processing power a lot. Now we could process 24k videos if we needed to”. Nemissa laughed, saying “Wow. sounds impressive”. Lunch nodded, looking at her and saying “Yeah. Better than what we had. Imma pass this baby to the VR stuff. It’s still pretty good and Paradigm X is demanding” before heading there, though commented “By the way, you go’in for a new look? Cause it’s pretty great”. Nemissa nodded, saying “Totally. Glad ya like it”. Six looked between him and Nemissa, sighing in relief and saying “Well, if that’s resolved, where's the leader?”. “Ah, he stepped out. Looking into” and stopped as the phone rang. Six looked and saw the number, frowning. He answered immediately. 

 

“Six speaking, what’s up boss?” Six stated, pressing the speaker button. “It’s bad” Spooky’s voice stated “I’m at the Algonsoft NS building, in Nikamimon. I’m being hunted. I need help, quickly! Gah! They’re back, hurry! Careful, there’s monster-” and was cut off as the signal cut out. Six and Lunch paled as they stared at the phone now emitting static while he felt his face get cold. Meanwhile, Nemissa grinned like a cheshire cat as she looked at him. He knew what she was thinking. He knew what he was thinking. This wasn’t some bad dream. It was real. Demon’s were real. His soul was actually almost stolen… and now his friend was possessed. “Let’s go” Nemissa said “Seems like the leader needs some help, right?”. Nodding slowly, Six stated “Yeah… dunno what he… meant by monsters but it can’t be good. I’ll lend everyone some gear…” and headed to a stack of duffel bags in a corner. Lunch meanwhile headed for the toolbox and pulled it out, saying “Portable hackers. We’re gonna need ‘em if we’re tackling Algonsoft NS”. Quickly, gear was handed out. Each of them were handed Nambu Type 14 and a switchblade disguised as a lighter. He also had a bulletproof vest underneath his clothing and combat boots. Lunch also wore this equipment as did Six and Nemissa. He put the gun PC in a holster provided by Six. “We ready? Let’s head out. I’ll drive” Lunch said, leaving the base. He did too and they piled into Lunch’s smart SUV. The vehicle was gifted by Spooky so they had an alternative vehicle for situations like this. He looked at Nemissa who looked back and simply grinned. He wasn’t going to enjoy this. 



Chapter Text

Chapter 3

 

Infiltration

 

Rin

 

Shirou drove her to where they’d meet the second owner. She had contacted him after finishing the bounded field and the second owner agreed to meet her immediately. However, she had to go to the hotel Gourmaden. According to Shirou, who ran a search, the Gourmaden was a restaurant hotel that traveled to different ports in Japan at different times throughout the years. Currently, it was docked in Amami City. It was supposedly highly expensive. As they parked at the docks, she got out and looked at the cruise ship in port. “That’s the one” Shirou stated “Am I going with you?”. She nodded, saying “I’d appreciate the backup if things go south… we are in their territory. I’d like to think we’ll be cordial though” and began to walk there, Shirou falling in lockstep behind her. As she approached the walkway up, she saw two homunculus waiting. They regarded her with professional nods and stood at attention. They let her pass. However, as Shirou began to pass they each held an arm out, saying “You, sir, are not welcome. Please, wait here”. Rin frowned, saying “He’s my apprentice. Is he still not allowed?”. The homunculus looked at her, then Shirou, then each other, finally to her as the left one said “He is allowed as far as the lobby. She will decide further” and moved their arms out of the way. Shirou walked up to her as she continued, trying to fight the pit in her stomach. 

 

As she walked into the lobby of the Gourmaden, she noticed it was very dark. She used reinforcement on her eyes to improve her eyesight and saw a maiden in the darkness approach. However, what made them tense were the eyes. The ruby eyes filled with a gleam akin to a vampire. Further, unlike normal vampires, this one was a homunculus. Normally, dead apostles were once human. Yet this one was once a homunculus, which had some alarming implications. “Welcome to the Gourmaden” the homunculus greeted, giving them a curtsey, before continuing “I was expecting one Tohsaka Rin… who is the young man here?”. Shirou spoke for himself, saying “My name is Shirou Emiya. I’m her apprentice. I came at her request”. The dead apostle looked from him to her, as if examining them. She spoke up, saying “I did. Is it a problem?”. Silence pervaded for a full three minutes before it finally stated “I am called Mary. I serve my master and the second owner… I will permit you, Tohsaka Rin, to follow me. Provided she permits it, I will then retrieve young Shirou Emiya for you. Is this acceptable?”. Rin hesitated for a few seconds but answered “I suppose. I’m not getting a better deal am I?”. After Mary nodded in affirmation, Rin looked at Shirou and said “Alright. Stay here and behave… we want to be good guests right?”. Shirou nodded, saying “Yeah. I agree” before moving and sitting down. Mary watched the display with a look of complete apathy before saying “Come” and turned around, walking up the stairs nearby. Rin looked at them and then followed. Despite her cool exterior, she internally was awed. The Gourmaden was very luxurious and beautiful. She wondered what kind of person owned it. 

 

She was led through the halls to the third floor of the hotel suites, to the penthouse suite. Mary knocked on the door three quick times, paused, then gave a soft knock, saying “The second owner will decide if Shirou Emiya is to attend. I will wait for word here. Mind your manners around her”. Rin simply nodded as Mary opened the door, pushing it open and standing aside. As she walked in, the dead apostle closed the door behind her. She had expected either a true ancestor but what she saw instead shocked her. A normal mage. The woman wore black formal dress wear and a winter coat. She wore high heels and her blonde hair in a long ponytail that reached the small of her back. Smoking from a long pipe, the woman greeted her, saying “Tohsaka Rin. Youngest second owner of this generation, once belonging to Fuyuki City… descending from a family of mages that studied various artes, but specialized in gemcraft. What does such a mage have intended for my city?”. Rin was about to speak when the woman said “Ah, but first the matter of the boy… normally I dislike surprises, especially recently. However, it is unlikely that you’re assassins. They never send proper mages anyway. Mary, bring him”. Rin was silent, staring at the second owner. She had expected this however, so she wasn’t off guard. As Shirou walked in ten minutes later, Mary bowed and closed the door, to which the second owner said “Thank you, Mary… now sit. We have some things to discuss young Tohsaka, Emiya”. Shirou looked shocked, asking “You know of me?”. The woman laughed, saying “Of course… who doesn’t know you, child?”. They both sat in offered chairs as the woman looked at the mirror and began to apply makeup, saying “Now. Introductions. I know who you are. I am Kuzunoha Ginko. Now... Why are you in Amami City?”. 

 

Rin opted to be honest for now, saying “I came here after hearing about new… ‘research’. I am curious to confirm its authenticity”. Frowning, the second owner stared at her, then at Shirou, then her, saying “I see. You refer to the merging of technology and magic? Or… perhaps the result?”. Tohsaka tried to stay composed, but cursed inwardly as Emiya Shirou’s expression went from neutral to tense. Ginko thought for several minutes before answering “Well regardless… This serves my interests too. I cannot answer the question of authenticity of the research, but I will reveal that the string of illnesses is a result of mana deficiency caused by the devouring of their soul. Normal deficiency is cured by simply giving mana or letting them rest to recover it. However… Even with these, all those sick die. The only explanation must be a lack of the soul. With no soul, no Od is produced. Thus… death is all but certain”. This time she couldn’t control herself. She trembled as her face scrunched up. Shirou’s own face exhibited terror. Ginko’s own brow furrowed as she said “I knew it… you know something don’t you?”. Rin hesitated, but finally said “We’ve… been through something somewhat similar. The symptoms are similar. The result is worse though”. Frowning, Ginko stated “I understand your secrecy… I have my own. However, without trust, we’ll get nowhere. So. How about this? I'll offer my servants services in exchange for your information?”. Frowning deeper, she stated “Depends on the quality. I can’t just give up family secrets for little after all”. Nodding, Ginko stated “True… which is why I will reveal that in fact my servants are at the moment limited to a single mage. However, they can make short-term mystic codes”. “Short-term?” she asked. Ginko nodded, pulling one out. It looked like a tag a priestess might use. She explained “Yes. While it cannot be used to make mages, it allows them to temporarily hold their knowledge without risking the user's original knowledge. Further, it safely erases the knowledge once it runs out. Short-term. I will give this as a token of goodwill”. She accepted it and examined it. It was certainly a mystic code but it was… odd. “You can leave with just that and decide later. For now, I suggest you consider my offer. My servants services for information” Ginko stated. Rin nodded, standing and saying “Understood. Thank you, Kuzunoha”. With a nod, Rin turned and began to leave. Shirou stood and asked “We can return here if we decide to accept, right?”. Ginko answered “Of course… do call ahead. Victor prefers to close when I do business here”. Nodding, Shirou followed behind Rin. She however was elsewhere. She realized now that it was what they feared. Servants were involved, which meant that someone really did replicate the holy grail war. Her only question was how someone managed it. She was sure she destroyed everything related to it… which meant that damn priest sold it to someone before he died. He was being a problem even in death. 

 

Spookies

 

They piled out of the SUV immediately. They rushed to the building immediately, Lunch holding a small case. As he opened it near the door, a cord fell out and he grabbed it, sticking it into the door mechanism. “Running diagnostics now… give me… there” Lunch stated, staring at a computer screen that was affixed to the lid of the inside of the case, the keyboard affixed to the bottom “Security’s on in some parts, off in others. Seems they’re having issues with the security after something a week ago”. Nodding, Six walked right in, saying “Dammit, where’s Yu-Ichi…? We sent a message, an address, and even brought the damn gear….”. “Forget it. We’re all we got” Lunch stated, unplugging the cord and closing the case “Let’s get inside and find the leader, then bounce. The alarms aren’t tripped yet but that ain’t gonna last forever. Once the security suite fully activates, we gotta scram”. Nodding, they all walked inside. “Okay. Like we discussed. Each of us tackle a floor, report any sightings of problems in… hold out till help arrives or deal with it. If ya need ta scram, scram” Lunch said, reminding them and turning to them “If ya find the leader, report. He’s our goal, noth’in else”. Nodding, he stated “Don’t forget to dual channel your audio so you can keep a tap on police lines… we can’t let ourselves get caught. If it happens, bolt and we’ll scram together”. They nodded and began to split up. Six and Lunch went to the stairs while he headed for the elevator. “So” he asked “You stick’in to the plan, ‘Nemissa’?”. Nemissa smirked, saying “Yeah. For now. I am having fun”. Then, suddenly, Hitomi’s visage took precedence, as she said in an outburst “Not for now, until you’re finished! The leader’s in trouble!”. Nemissa laughed as he pressed the button for the 2nd floor, saying “Fine, fine… I’ll indulge since it’s fun. Don’t make a habit of demanding though, okay? Nemissa is a free soul and I do what I want!”. He grimaced, looking at her and said “Does being a free soul mean taking others freedom?”. Nemissa waved her hand, saying “I recognize the hypocrisy. Not my fault I was born this way though”. Then her face fell and said “Trust me. If I could pick a new host, I would… but Hitomi is about the only one I’ve seen qualified”. As the door opened, he stepped out, saying “Let’s talk later… alright?”. Nemissa shrugged, saying “Sure. If I want” before the doors closed. “Tsk” he muttered, irritated as he said “Damn demon… I’ll get my friend back” and turned towards the second floor. 

 

After half an hour searching, he had nothing. The other elevators were easy to crack but saw no reason to. However, the most he found was a janitor closet that had an empty gun case. He clicked the radio, saying “All I’ve got is an empty gun case on floor 2. Nothin’ else”. He stood, looking around and then saw something. A pamphlet. Opening it, he gasped, then said “I take that back. Got a map of the building… looks like the layouts are different than we thought. I’ve got places only Six and Lunch can cover and vice-versa”. A sigh rang out as Lunch stated “Got it… I’ll finish my sweep and tackle floor 3. Six, you got floor 2?”. “Y-yeah” Six replied, shakily “No problem”. A laugh rang out as Nemissa asked “My, my Six are you afraid?”. “N-no! I’m continuing my sweep, bug off!” Six cried out, shutting down comms for him. “Ignore him… prolly just ran inta security” Lunch said “Maybe they’re actually pack’in heat. Wouldn’t be shocked”. He noted “Yeah… but it does make it a bit more fair. I’m continuing too. Nemissa, wanna tackle floors-” but stopped as she stated “Nah, I’ll take floor 3 after I finish 4 here”. He frowned but responded “Gotcha” and left. He headed for the elevators to grab a ride up to floor five. However, as he did, Lunch stated “Hey, I got something here. An emergency exit’s been overridden”. He thought about it for a second, but then gasped and asked “Didn’t you and lunch take the emergency stairs up?”. Lunch laughed, saying “Yep… and I haven’t touched it. Looks like it was recent too. I think the leader came through here”. Smiling, he replied “What floor?”. “Five… I’ll hatch open a door here. Should let you through” Lunch replied. Smiling, once the door opened he rushed through, not listening to the calls of they’re coming. 

 

As they all met up, he saw Nemissa still as herself. She smiled at him, almost predatorily, as he approached, saying “Well, well. For all the talk of you’re coming, you sure took a while”. He frowned, saying “Sorry, the map didn’t have that door on it. Took me a while”. Lunch and Six shrugged, saying “Iz fine”. Six stated “By the way… is it just me or… are weird things happening?”. All of them looked at Six, cocking an eyebrow as he said “Uhhhh… not really…? Why?”. Frowning, Six stated “I… I think I saw… weird… creatures coming up”. Nemissa seemed intrigued while he just asked “What kind of creatures?”. Six hesitated before saying “Pretty sure… I saw fairies on the way down… and some small, long-nailed, squat things”. He tensed. He knew what they were… what they were after. “Dude… don’t freak. Prolly just imagin-” Lunch began but was cut off by laughter. Nemissa immediately tensed and looked at the noise next to them. They all did. What he saw did not fill him with satisfaction. “Dude… no way…” Lunch muttered, Six paling deeply. He felt his own face go cold as he stared at the pixie, the human-faced beast prowling from the back with two long red whiskers, the squat humanoid with lanky limbs and a face belly, and the floating creature with cartoonish feet and hands but with a flesh-coat around its midsection. “The… the… THE HELL IS THAT!?” Six screamed, pulling a gun out and aiming it. “Dude, careful!” Lunch screamed, dodging away as Six began firing wildly at the creatures. They scattered with only the beast rushing forward, roaring. It was then his gun PC vibrated. Blinking, he ran a distance from the now wildly firing Six and activated it. He saw a screen on it that said ‘Demon Summoning Program activated. Demon Translation activated. Use?”. Thinking, he plugged part of his audio device into it, patching it into the channel that used group comms on and selected yes quickly. Then he heard it. He heard the creatures speak as one stated “How rude, firing at us! What savages!”. Another said “C’mon now sonee, they’re just younguns. They gots that youthful fire!”. “Galley Trot no impressed! Galley Trot kill unimpressive coward!” the beast declared, dodging each shot directed at it. “Heehee… fresh meat…” the squat humanoid stated as it weaved through the bullets. He frowned, and was about to intervene when suddenly Nemissa rushed ahead herself.

 

They were about to call out in panic, but Nemissa did something shocking. She stabbed the creature as it leapt for her and didn’t flinch as it clawed her stomach after being kicked away. It gave a mournful howl as it dissipated. Nemissa looked at the blood on her hand, played with it a bit, then suddenly glowed brightly. When it finished, the wound was closed up. “H-how!?” Lunch asked, baffled. He ignored the question and aimed at the flesh-skirted creature that was floating angrily towards Nemissa now and began firing. A few bullets sunk in but he kept missing.  Nemissa noticed it though and finished it with a dramatic slash. It cried out as it fell over. “W-wow! These guys are… tough!” the fairy exclaimed. The last one, the squat humanoid, had slipped past both of them. However, suddenly, it was launched in the air as lunch kicked it, yelling “Six! Shoot it!”. Six immediately refocused, and fired at it once, though the clicks confirmed an empty clip. He however noticed and aimed, firing. It screamed out at the bullets piercing it. Nemissa ran forward, knife raised, and slashed down decapitating it. No blood poured forth purely due to the fact that it didn’t have any and dissipated upon defeat, but it was still gruesome. As they turned to the fairy, it floated in place. Not a single movement was seen as it stared at them. They stared back. Finally, it begged “P-please don’t kill me! I-It was supposed to be a joke! Just a joke!”. “Tch, jus kill it already-” Lunch began when he interrupted, saying “Why? It’s surrendering… unless you aren’t pipsqueak?”. “Pipsqueak!? Who are you calling-” the fairy began but then froze again and smiled innocently, saying “I-I mean… please be nice…?”. He thought about it, looked at the demon program, and fiddled with it. It had a lot of features he didn’t grasp but one he noticed stood out. ‘Storage’. Then it made sense. “Alright” he said “We’ll spare you… if you join us”. Lunch and Six looked at him like he was crazy, while Nemissa laughed uproariously. The fairy looked shocked, staring for several minutes before asking “Do… do you even have the right stuff…?”. He nodded, showing the gun PC and asked “Devil Summoning Program, right? I got one in here. That good?”. The fairy frowned now, as did Nemissa, and said “Kid… no jokes. If we do this… you might die. You prepared for that?”. He began to hesitate as Lunch said “Holy shit… he ain’t kidd’in… sorry for hack’in ya but… we can’t understand it normally”. Six nodded, saying “Yeah. We just heard white noise from it. Now though…”. Then Nemissa spoke up and said “That’s because they’re speaking the language of demons. Humans can’t comprehend it… normally. You… What'd you say your name was? You’ve got something dangerous. If I was you, and you value a normal life, ditch it”. He hesitated, but answered “I’ll tell you later. For now, call me Arata… and no. I don’t think I will” he stated, looking at the Pixie and then her “I doubt I’ll have one with the spookies… especially with what happened recently. I can’t just walk away… ‘speciialy when it’ll come knocking. I ain’t gonna let some light show take my soul!”. 

 

The fairy smiled big and said with a high pitched tone “Yes, yes! That soul! I’ve wanted a soul like that! Fine! I may not eat it but contracting with you will be enough! You! Demon! You’ve got healing powers, right!?”. Nemissa grimaced, saying “Are you trying to command me pip-” but was interrupted as the fairy said “Just keep him alive! I’m gonna contract with him! Oh! Human, Tsukamoto! I’m known as a Pixie! My specific name is Ella!” and suddenly rushed at him. “Wow, wow, wow!!” he shouted out in alarm “What are-” but was interrupted as it grabbed his face and said “As of right now, with your counsel and consent, I hereby vow myself to your service! Treat me well, master!”. He hesitated but suddenly felt it. Something in him accepted, having already decided to get it to be a member of the spookies. As a result, he felt pain. Something sliced its way through his body. He could only scream. “HOLY SHIT! SANAGA!” he heard both Lunch and Six scream, running over. Nemissa was already near him, holding a hand over various parts and filling him with healing magic, screaming at him “You idiot! Do you have any idea what you’ve done!?”. “You talkin to me or…?” the fairy asked, doing it herself. “Both of you! Dammit, You two, put pressure where we aren’t healing! HURRY!” Nemissa ordered, the expression on her face wrenched in anger… but he saw deeper. There was trembling in the features and water dotting the sides of her eyes. He only wondered which it was as he passed out. 

 

Persona!

 

He sighed as he stepped off the train. Amami City. ‘City of Paradise’ it claimed. However he knew better. He still remembered what happened in Sumaru City. Specifically how that place was forever a place where mind and matter melded much easier than anywhere else in the world. Specifically because of the events that occurred there. He left as soon as he could, mainly so that his persona wouldn’t cause problems. Apollo was himself and was strong, but it was leftovers from when he was possessed by his Other Side self. After all, they were the same and their merge prompted growth in his soul. Growth he wasn’t ready for. His brother helped him gain enough control to not have it rampage at provocation, but he still needed work. As such, he decided to travel. Find places that would challenge him and necessitate growth. Amami City seemed like one such place. It had the same scent as Sumaru City all those years ago. Burying his feelings at remembering, he stepped off the train platform and headed deeper into the city. After all, he was wondering why people suddenly grew sick in front of their computers despite not neglecting their needs. The press covered it up and that simply made him suspicious. He had another reason for traveling. Incidents had been popping up that smelled of Nyarlathotep. One particular incident was five years back, when suddenly the fuyuki temple was strangely ruined overnight. Further, someone attempted to ward him off… which let him know something was up. He wasn’t going to let him have his way. Not again. Never again. For his first clue… his friend, Maya Amano, had heard a few interesting things about Algonsoft. Employee mistreatment, strange and unusually fast electronics, and above all a string of disappearances surrounding their competition. However, Baofu dredged up strange sightings around the city. Currently, they were sporadic but he noticed that it was always preceded by reports of strange individuals. As such, he asked his brother to use his contacts to get him the latest in strange sightings. It was then his phone dinged. He saw a text from his brother informing him that a sighting had occurred at the nearby Algonsoft NS building. He thanked his brother and began to move. He had an investigation to get underway and he had no backup so he put his hoodie up to make himself more inconspicuous. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

Clash of Souls



Rin

 

“We should accept her offer” Shirou stated as they drove back. Really, the car did the work but Shirou still kept an eye on the road. “I know… I want more of these to study… Do you know what kind of reputation boost I’d get with this discovery?” Rin replied “Plus she’s the second owner. She knows this place inside and out. We’d be in a great spot with her information”. Frowning, Shirou asked “What makes you think she’ll offer that? If at all?”. Rin stopped studying the tag, looking at him, asking “Huh? Why wouldn’t she? We’re here to stop it. If she’s backing it, she’d want us gone. Inviting us means she doesn’t”. Shirou shook his head, saying “I’m not saying she wants us gone or doesn’t want the research to stop… However, I want to note something. She hesitated when she offered it. Like she was going over what to offer. That’s a real mystic code right? Even if altered, that’s not something a mage normally gives out… so what’s her angle?”. Rin hesitated, thinking about it from a different angle. What if this was all Ginko could offer? What if she was as in the dark about the situation as everyone else? Shirou spoke up, saying “Why risk her apprentice to strangers when she could simply point us somewhere? Unless she doesn’t have a place in mind”. Frowning, Rin replied “Let’s wait and see… I’ll accept her deal but we should be careful. She could be plotting herself”. Nodding, Shirou stated “Indeed… plus she may scrounge up something if we give her time. In the meantime… I’ll just train a bit. I don’t wanna be rusty when we get some intel”. Rin nodded as the car pulled into their temporary home and they got out. “That reminds me… how much longer do we have this?” Shirou asked. “Should be another week… I plan to visit and re-rent it” she replied. Shirou nodded, saying “Alright. Lemme know when. I wanna grab some stuff while I’m out”. They went inside after that and Rin underwent fully studying the mystic code while Shirou began to practice his projection elsewhere. He was pushing their time limit for being projected, as well as the relative strength. 

 

Spookies

 

He opened his eyes slowly. He was in a pool of his own blood. Lunch and Six looked terrified but happy. Nemissa looked sad. He didn’t see the fairy anymore. “Did… it friggin… leave?” he asked, his voice less words and more rasps. Lunch offered water, which he drank immediately and Six answered “Nah… once you were fully healed, she said something about sleeping to recover power. Said it’d be an hour”. Nemissa sighed, saying “I wish you had given my time to explain but… yeah. She retreated to your PC”. Sitting up, feeling better, he asked “How… What do you know about this…?”. Six looked at Nemissa, saying “Yeah… Me and Lunch are in the dark… and we’re hackers. We should have an inkling but we got noth’in. How the hell do you know so much?”. Nemissa looked away before sighing and saying “I was trying to make this easy but… I know… just because. It’s one of the things I can easily recall for some reason”. “Easily recall…? What, you sufferin from amnesia or somethin?” Lunch asked “That’s not funny Hit- I mean Nemissa. Don’t tell me you forgot us Spookies”. Nemissa shook her head, saying “Sorry but… I don’t know you. She does though. The soul this body originally belongs to” when suddenly Hitomi’s appearance overtook Nemissa and said “Yeah! This she-devil took my body without permission!” before being repressed by Nemissa again as she growled a bit, saying “Yes… she was the only one compatible nearby”. “Compatible…? The hell…?” Lunch muttered as suddenly Six leveled a gun to Nemissa, asking “What the hell do you want?”. Nemissa glared at Six, stating sternly “To live and be free. Nothing more. If I could exist without a body, I would… but well we’re both stuck in this bad situation”. Six kept it leveled, as Nemissa continued “Back to the topic, that program… I dunno much but I know others have it. I know one of the functions is to translate demon language to one you understand. I also know only mages can use the program”. Lunch frowned, saying “So… Sanaga is a mage now?”. Nodding, Nemissa explained “Yeah… when it happened, since he’s a normal human, magic circuits forced themselves into existence… being like nerves, they cut him open like a serial killer to a victim. Thankfully, me and his new recruit were here to keep him from dying”. Nodding, Lunch then asked “So how do you fit into all this? Know what’s going on?”. Shaking her head, Nemissa stated “I dunno. I can’t remember anything outside my digital prison. The first one was large, but still tight… the second was worse… but now I’m more or less free”. Six sighed, lowering his gun and saying “I don’t like you possessing our friend… but fine. Not like we can do anything… but if another candidate comes through, you’re tak’in them, got it?”. Nemissa smirked, saying “What? No love for your common man?”. 

 

Six shook his head, saying “Nah. I’m only interested in protect’in my friends”. Lunch nodded, saying “Lotsa random faces out there. Sure ta find one… once we do, you’re free. Till then… well. I trust you understand?”. Nemissa frowned now, and was about to say something when he said as he stood “Nemissa. Our friend is in you. That’s her body. I’m fine with letting you borrow it… but don’t think we’ll stand by and let you abuse her. Understand?”. Lunch and Six nodded as Nemissa’s expression softened, saying “Ah… I didn’t… so that’s why… well” and then cheered up “Don’t worry. I’ll be more careful… and I guess listen to Hi… I mean her. Now, let’s go find the leader”. Nodding, he cleaned up his clothes the best he could and began to follow them. “How the hell am I going to explain this…?” he muttered, as Lunch said “Jus buy new ones and say the old ones got shredded. Null sweat”. He laughed as they passed the emergency exit and headed down the stairs beyond. As they continued, Six asked “Dude… this goes past the first floor… where are we headed…?”. Lunch answered “Prolly the reference room. Algonsoft buildings use ‘em to make search’in things easier. They contain all records pertinent to that building’s function. All contained digitally”. “That… sounds lame” Nemissa stated. “Not exactly” he replied “What do you think this building's records contain?”. “I dunno… geek stuff?” Nemissa answered. He grinned, saying “Not untrue… but what about your credit card number?”. Nemissa and Hitomi briefly phased through each other and both their faces were pale as he grinned and said “It is a net services building… probably handles taxes used to support Amami City… taxes likely paid for by credit card companies”. “Wow… that’s… scary” both of them said, Nemissa regaining control and smiling greedily “So… we can… get a payday?”. “We could” Lunch said “Leader takes priority though. If we do, alarms are gonna get tripped and that means cops… frankly, no thanks”. Nemissa pouted but said nothing as they arrived at the reference room. “Remember. We get leader, get out” Lunch stated. “Gotcha” Six said “Leave the cover fire to me”. “I’ll take care of any demons that show up” he said, preparing his nambu type 14. Nemissa stated “I’ll heal. I can also provide offensive if needed”. With that, they burst into the room. 

 

Before them, in the center of the room, a man stood. The servers were spaced 10 ft. apart and there were enough to make the room larger. Turning, he looked at them. He wore a black leather jacket over a purple t-shirt and black leather pants as well as leather gloves and shoes. He wore sunglasses and slicked back black hair. In his hands was a guitar-shaped PC, with five lines of keys like a keyboard and a monitor on the large lower half. It was rather small, almost as small as his own gun PC. The man smirked, stating “Sure do have a lot of guests today… Who are ya guys?”. They pointed their guns and he responded “Wow, wow… easy, chill. Those pea shooters are meanin’less here, dontcha know?”. “Where’s leader?” Lunch asked sternly “Tell us or we’re putt’in lead in you”. The man laughed, say’in “Wow kiddo, are you outta your depth… hey, newbie, you always keep your company in the dark?”. “Newbie? Sanaga, you know him!?” Six asked, looking at him. “Never seen him in my life” he answered, keeping his gun trained on him with one hand. He slowly pulled out the gun PC as the man said “Huh? Really? Then… that means you ain’t phantom society… and if you’ve gotta comp without that credential… welllll shit. Two in one today. I’m on fire!” and struck a chord, making a guitar riff ring out. “Hands up asshole, where I can see ‘em!” Lunch yelled, finger on the trigger now “I won’t-” but was cut off as the man replied “I already said those toys ain’t gonna work brat. If ya wanna test it, fine. Oh, but jus so I ain’t a complete ass, the name of ya killer is Carol J. Sorry, but ya know about us and ya ran with a non-PS summoner. Them’s the brakes” and suddenly played another chord. “I warned you!” Lunch yelled, firing his gun. Six did as well but something suddenly appeared and with a swing of its hammer, whipped up a wind that sent the bullets into servers. “The hell!?” Lunch cried out, staring at the statue-esque monster that held tongs, a hammer, and wore an ugly mask and leather apron “The fuck is that!?”. “Careful! It’s a lot stronger than those other guys!” Nemissa warned “Sanaga, summon it!”. Nodding, he activated his gun PC and pressed a single key. He had queued up the Devil Summoning Program already and so by simply pressing a key, the fairy was summoned. It flew out of the screen, declaring “I’m here to help!”. He nodded, saying “Ella, do what you can to support!”. Ella nodded, saying “On it!” and with a flick of her wrist, a lightning bolt went forward. The statue tried to repeat the previous action, but froze as the small bolt flew into its hammer through the wind and started to convulse. “No fair, using magic! Come out, Padlock!” Carol J cried, playing another cord. He began to enter a full performance as two of the squat humanoids appeared, with Carol J saying “You two, join tha partah! We gonna play All-Night-Long! Yow!”. Additionally, a tall human-looking figure covered in an orange and white plaid leotard with locks stuck inside itself stood, sneering at them from beyond its crooked nose. With a flick of its wrist, it sent a ball of fire directly at Pixie, who deftly avoided the attack but surrendered her own. Freed, the statue suddenly leapt right for him. 

 

Lunch took position behind a server and started firing. Lunch targeted the squat humanoids. Lunch knew they could be hurt. However, they were fast. The one Lunch fired at, while hit, simply squealed, looked at Lunch, and darted at him. Everytime Lunch was about to fire, it’d suddenly sidestep and dodge the shot. Lunch figured out quickly what it was doing. It was watching his fingers and the gun rather than what they produced. Frowning, he fired again only to be dodged. It was only a few meters away now… or would be, if Nemissa didn’t shoot at it, distracting it long enough for him to aim and fire, sending a bullet through its head. Yet despite this, it simply convulsed and dragged itself to its feet. He fired another shot and then another and it finally fell, dead. The other one suddenly came from behind him and cried out something incomprehensible. However, Six was watching it. He let out a barrage of bullets and while one sunk into Lunch’s midsection, the bulletproof vest taking the hit, since the bullet was too low caliber and from a too low-powered gun to really break through the vest. The creature was knocked into the server from it, allowing enough bullets to sink into it and kill it. “Got him! Quick, Focus on the new guy!” Six yelled, reaiming now. Meanwhile, Sanage leapt behind some servers as Ella avoided another fireball. The statue was fast and hit hard, the wind for this one sending him flying a full 3 extra meters. He turned and was going to fire but saw it already facing him. He rolled to the side and stood just as the creature slammed its hammer into the ground behind him. “I’ve got you, master!” Ella cried, flying over the servers and launching another lightning bolt. It stood in place and convulsed as he finally turned and started to fire bullet after bullet into the chest of this creature. After eight however Ella canceled the lightning bolt and flew into the server rows, narrowly avoiding another fireball. He turned and ran quickly, realizing that in three seconds the statue-like creature could move again. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! Get them, my demons, my righteous rock’in demons! Get them down, get them dead! Don’t matter how you get’im just go on and git!” Carol J sang, as his demons fell. 

 

“Get the summoner! They’ll disappear after right!?” Lunch said, poking around and aiming as Nemissa jumped aside as suddenly Carol J leapt at Nemissa, doing a fly kick. Instead, Carol J’s foot connected with Lunch’s face, knocking Lunch over as Carol J skied to a stop behind him, saying “Yo, yo, yo! Gotta pay attention, or ya gonna be in dead detention! YOWWWWW!”.  Six immediately screamed “Bastard! You’ll pay!” and fired a few rounds, trying to cover Lunch, but Carol J simply backstepped and then leapt over a few bullets. Before Six could reorient their aim, Carol J kicked off the server, landing where they were and quickly kicked at Nemissa. Nemissa almost dodged the first kick, but then Carol J shoulder checked Nemissa and knocked them to the ground. Then Carol J jumped back and ran behind some servers as Six finally reclaimed and fired, but cursed as they missed. Meanwhile, he struggled. He managed to nearly reach the end of the aisle but the statue had recovered and was going to rocket at him any second. His demon, Ella, was nowhere to be seen. If he continued he might be able to reach the bend and skid around the corner. However, it would require precise timing. He was stuck at a dead end because he was unsure if he could make it. Gritting his teeth, he yelled as he heard the statue leap and was at the corner. He fell into a slide, his foot outstretched. He saw a shadow loom over him, it’s hammer raised. His foot made contact with the server, pressed in, and then he forced it to launch him away. He also decided to aim and fire while he was at it. The hammer smashed down where he had been however with enough force to send him flying with a scream… or would, not something happened. Very suddenly the momentum was killed off, causing him a lot of pain. He hung in the air from right under his chest. As he looked he felt his face become frigid as he saw its tongs wrapped around him. Holding him in place. It stared at him and he for the first time made eye contact. It stared with a single blue eye radiating pure hatred. “N… no…” he mumbled. It slowly raised its hammer, clearly intending to kill him. He could only attempt a weak stab from his knife, having dropped his gun. He stabbed again and again, to little effect. “Die” it said emotionlessly before suddenly a lightning bolt slammed into its head. Thinking fast he stabbed into its wrist, yelling from the pain. “Let master go!” Ella said from down the aisle, letting go and refiring as she dodged fireballs. He started to stab despite Ella’s lightning bolt coursing through him. After what seemed like forever, the statue finally dropped its hammer behind it, and with it the tongs. With those connections lost, Ella’s lightning bolt hurt him no longer. Turning, he saw the padlock-riddled creature standing and preparing a fireball. “No you don’t!” he yelled, grabbing his gun in favor of his knife and firing round after round at it. After being hit five times it retreated around a corner. He looked at the statue and saw it begin to dissipate, clearly defeated. He sighed deeply. They were winning, but barely. 

 

Carol J was playing with the other three however. Nemissa healed Lunch but right as she finished Carol J suddenly smacked her head into the server with his guitar. Being a portable PC, it was weighty and hardy and could take a hit. Before he could react, Carol J then kicked Lunch into Nemissa and sent them tumbling forward. He then darted into the server rows as Six fired a few shots off. “Dammit!” Six yelled “We’re getting nowhere!” . Lunch nodded, saying “Hate ta admit it, but you’re right… shit whadda we do?”. Nemissa growled, saying “Simple, we kick his ass!” and quickly jumped back as Carol J performed an axe kick against her, though missing. He then turned and backhanded Lunch before leaping onto a server, dodging Six yet again. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! Whatcha even play’in at! Ya can’t hit the man! The man’s gonna do ya, do ya, do ya iiiinnnnn, YOOOOOWWWZA!” Carol J sang as he retreated further. Frowning, Six finally said “Frag damn it he’s annoying as shit with his singing!”. Lunch sighed, standing and pulling out his case, saying “Didn’t wanna try this… but got no choice… Nemissa! Cover me!” and connected it to the nearby server. Nemissa nodded, standing a distance away and watching the server row. Six watched until suddenly a shadow loomed over him. Looking up quickly, he saw Carol J standing over him, guitar over his shoulders as he played, wearing a smug grin he sang “gotcha, Gotcha, GOTCHA!!!” and leapt down, grabbing both sides and swinging down. Six tried to dodge but the guitar caught his shoulder, a bone wrenching sound ringing out as he yelled. Carol J then wheeled his arm back and smashed his fist into Six’s face, knocking him to the ground. Placing a foot on his chest, playing still, he sang softly “Didja, didja, didja feel that? Didn’t need ta happen kid, ya chose this road! Now ride it, onto dawn, till the valkyries are singin ya song! OOOOOWWZA!” He lifted his foot and said “Sorry kid. Jus business… maybe pleasure. See ya in the next-” but yelled and fell to the side as a gunshot rang out. Nemissa stood there, saying “Piss off! Your singings trash and your not cool! Get over yourself!”. Carol J’s glasses dropped for a moment, showing a single red eye. He readjusted them, saying “Funny. Now YOU piss off” and was about to rush her when suddenly he stopped, opting to knock the gun from her hand and said “Shit… gonna call it a day here. You kids behave, cause next time Uncle Carol J’s gonna really spank ya!” and proceeded to flee out the door.

 

Rounding the corner, a bruised Sanaga came out, looking at them and asking “Are you all… alright?”. Nemissa walked over, quickly casting a few heal spells on him as Ella yawned and flew into his gun PC and said “Yeah. Lunch and Six are a bit beaten but not dead”. “I’m hack’in their servers… well was” Lunch stated and pulled it out “No use tripp’in alarms yet”. Six rolled onto his stomach, then knee’s, and finally feet, saying “Dammit… how the hell can that guy hit so hard…?”. “He’s clearly trained… what’d he say he was from? Phantom society?” Hitomi noted, taking over for a moment. Nemissa reasserted control, saying “Yeah. Sounds like… something bad”.  That was when, from around the server, a familiar face showed up. “Leader!” Lunch exclaimed, putting his case away and rushing over. Six did too, asking “Yo, you alright!?”. Nodding, Spooky stated “Yeah… I’m fine. He got the jump on me but… I got away. However, I had to hide here. He almost found me when you showed up”. Frowning, he was about to ask when Nemissa stated “Hey… what’s this?” and reached down to pick something up. Sanaga walked over, looking too. “I dunno” Spooky said “But all I can say is that shit’s scary. Gave him full run of the place. He was looking through cams before you came in. That gave him access”. Frowning, Lunch stated “The hell….? How? Even if that’s a hacker card, that’d mean it came from an inside source. Reference rooms are practically closed networks. Takes engineers turning the damn channel on to get to”. Spooky shrugged, saying “Hard to say. I just know what I saw… let’s get back first. We’ll uncover that thing’s secrets there. For now, we’re not safe yet”. Nodding, he stated “I agree. We dunno if he sent more demons out”. With that, they all left quickly, not wanting to risk getting caught. 

 

Persona!

 

Tatsuya walked toward a particular building. As he did he smelt it strongly. The stench of Nyarlathotep. It was especially strong here. It hadn’t taken him too long. He had rented a ride with a passerby to get here. As he stood before the building he walked forward. He looked at each car, sniffing the air. His senses worked in an odd way. He smelled the essence of whatever his eyes landed on. While he ignored most scents, he was always alerted to Nyarlathoteps scent every time. As he looked at one building, he smelled the stench alright. He proceeded towards the entrance but smelled it growing just a bit. He hid behind a car as he saw a small group leave. One was supporting another that was limp, both wearing trench coats. One wore an oddly-shaped dreadlock hairstyle while the other looked like an edgy salaryman. However, what alerted him to them were two individuals, the girl who had a scent similar to Nyarlathotep but not quite and then the green-jacket wearing boy. He had Nyarlathoteps scent all over him. Frowning, he memorized the boy who appeared, especially the large gun on his hip. He also noted the girl's appearance, long flowing white hair and pale skin. As he watched them pile into an SUV, he watched it go by and took note of the license plate. He could have his brother run a search later. Meanwhile, he turned his attention to the building. It still stunk meaning the boy was either in there for a day, unrelated to this particular taint, or an offshoot. Regardless, he could hunt him down later. For now, he decided to deal with this problem. He had to destroy the root cause. “Alright Apollo. Time to get to work” he stated, walking towards the building as his vibrant red suit-wearing persona appeared beside him, walking in lockstep leaving a small trail of flames. He wasn’t intending to burn it down, but he intended to burn the source of the corruption. Likely some artifact in the building. 

 

The moment he walked in he was attacked. Instantly, a small horde of Preta swarmed him. Apollo simply held out a hand and suddenly a beam of blue fire streaked outward. It melted the preta’s it contacted and with a sweep melted them all. With a snap of its fingers, the blue flames left behind went out, though the embers burned bright. He was unconcerned as he walked to the elevator, pressing the button. When he opened it, he smirked, saying “Sweet. No need to force things” and walked onto the elevator, pressing the button. Apollo stood next to him, arms crossed. He had pressed each floor button, smelling the floor first before heading up another. Once he reached the fifth floor, he found the scent was strongest there. “Paydirt… now let’s go” he said to himself, walking out. Instantly, two bolts lunged at him. However, Apollo was faster and slammed its fists into each one, turning them into demon mist. All that remained for a moment more were the tiny wrenches they held. “Man… I'm popular aren’t I?” he muttered, heading forward. The doors all opened once he reached the center of the room. Zombies in full wrappings, weird human-faced beasts, and even more Preta’s all poured into the room. He clicked his tongue and raised a hand, saying “Apollo! Heat Kaiser!”. With a nod, Apollo began to glow brightly and as its light shone onto the enemies, they began to burn. The closer they got, the more intense the burn that happened. By the time they approached 10 meters of him, they were ash. The ones that were smart retreated, his power proven. “Heh… dumbass demons. They never learn” he commented and headed through one door and down the hall. He eyed a particular door and as he opened it he saw a room with a mainframe computer. A single employee sat there, turning to him and saying “Wh-what the hell!?”. “Ah… an employee. With the lack of security, I assumed all the workers were bums” he commented, walking forward. “Y-y-y-you can’t b-b-be here!” the employee cried “I-i-i-i’ll call-” but was cut off as he stated “Do it and you’ll die. Cause then I leave and they get to snack… just step aside and I’ll escort ya out, alright?”. The employee shivered, but after several minutes, asked “H-how… do you know…?”. He raised an eyebrow as he sniffed around, saying “Simple. You got cams here. You saw them. Saw what I did. No way you didn’t… and guessing you already tried that this mornin when they’d have torn your friends apart. Probably no response with what I’m pick’in up. So I knew it was a bluff… still, I ain’t heartless. Just stick with me and you’ll be fine… for now… there it is”. He walked over to a particular stamp and had Apollo pick it up. “With this, things should return to normal here” and had Apollo burn it. He smelled the scent deteriorate instantly, meaning Nyarlathoteps influence was waning more and more. “Done. Now, follow me. We’re not outta the woods yet” he stated, before beginning the leave. The employee followed. 

 

He pulled out his phone and texted his brother ‘Found it. He’s coming back. He put a marker in Algonsoft NS. Following up on another lead I found. Keep lett’in me know. Also, can ya track this license plate number? LGN-9081’. After a few minutes, as him and the employee descended via elevator, he received a message saying ‘Belongs to a man named Junnosuke Kitagawa. He lives in the Akenedai district, apartment building Cloves number 405’. ‘Thanks. Give you an update’ he texted back. ‘You sure? I can take a vacation and help’ his brother responded. He smiled warmly and replied ‘Nah, I got this… i’ll remember tho. Talk to ya later’. With that, he put the phone away as the elevator door opened. Now a host of Preta waited. Apollo manifested near him, having vanished due to not concentrating on it and he walked forward, saying “Stay near. Or you die” and the employee, almost crying, followed. The preta moved away to clear a path, but closed in behind. A beam of nuclear fire fixed that issue. They kept their distance and once they left, he said “Now run. They can leave, but if you can make it 20 meters in about a minute, they’ll be toast… I’ll cover you”. The employee did just that and like he thought the horde ignored him and flew for the man. After about 20 minutes, and the employee’s questioning of why they weren’t disappearing, Apollo suddenly fired a massive ball of fire into the horde. The ensuing explosion destroyed all of them, and knocked the employee over. He simply left, having completed his objective. Now he knew its presence was greatly diminished and wouldn’t be able to as closely grip the place as before. He focused instead on his next task; finding and cornering that apostle of nyarlathotep he smelled before. The boy in the green jacket. He needed to be dealt with. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

 

Revelations



Rin

The next morning was a whirlwind of activity for her. First, she woke up to a raven pecking her window noisily. She almost shoo’d it away but realized it was a familiar, after which she simply accepted the message it held in a claw. Reading it, she was informed of a development and to investigate the Algonsoft NS building in the Nikamaimon district. After that, she went to breakfast with Shirou. They were eating out as according to him the leftover food was no good. As they ate, she brought up her intentions, saying “After this I’m heading to the Algonsoft NS building. Apparently there’s been a development”. Looking at her, he replied “I see. I wanted to pick up some groceries but… oh well. This is more important… .according to the press, there were multiple break-ins last night”. Raising an eyebrow, she asked “Really….? That can’t be a coincidence can it?”. “I don’t think so” Shirou stated “I’ll go with. It should go faster that way”. Nodding, Rin finished her tea and breakfast and stood up. Shirou himself enjoyed it and as Rin stood, he simply sighed, finished his meal quickly, and followed after her. 

 

The property was a bit intimidating but Shirou’s ability to sniff out magic proved handy. Pointing to one building, he stated “That one… it has the highest amount” he stated. Rin, having finished using a spell to make normal humans ignore them, stated “Understood. Let’s go” and followed him inside. As soon as she stepped in, her eyes widened. Shirou looked back at her, asking “Tohsaka, is this…?”. Nodding, she replied “It is. There are trace remains of a reality marble present”. She let her senses expand as she tried to figure out the mechanics of it. Normally, this was impossible but she figured she’d try. Worse case, she’d realize quickly if it was too complex for this attempt… what she found was worse. The reality marble’s function was shockingly simple. All it did was fill the environment with mana, the source of which was densest. Looking at Shirou, she stated “Whoever made this is… dangerous. We need to get rid of them. Their reality marble is the worst I’ve ever seen”. Shirou, curious, asked “Why?”. “It fills its sphere of influence with mana. I can’t tell the exact amount but if I had to guess it’s enough to pull off powerful magecraft” Rin explained “If they found out about this, a sealing designation would be placed immediately”. After a few minutes of thought, Rin stated “Shirou, go investigate the lower floors. I’ll head up and see if I can’t find anything”. Shirou nodded and headed for the stairs, while she took the elevator. While a reality marble like that was dangerous, it couldn’t have been the only reason Ginko sent her here. Especially since multiple break-ins occurred. 

 

Walking around the fourth floor brought no results. After first she chalked it up to simply being a bust, but as she approached the fifth floor she sensed it. The source of the reality marble… or what remained of it. It still gave off large amounts of power but it dwindled by the second. She rushed to the source and found herself in a room full of electronics. She didn’t understand much of it, beyond a wall of them displaying parts of the buildings. She knew about cameras and live feeds. As she looked she saw the source and frowned. The burnt remnants of a company sticker laid on the ground. She bent down and touched it, confirming her suspicion. It had been the source of the reality marble. Which was far, far more troubling. The fact someone anchored it. Reality Marbles on their own were basically impossible, but to anchor it was unheard of. She needed to know more. Pulling a gem out, she placed it on the sticker and channeled prana into it. Then, she watched as the gem sucked the remaining mana in the sticker into itself. At first, the spell worked and an arrow of light began to form and turn in the direction of the source… then it suddenly faded out completely. “Tsk… should’ve known he’d take precautions. Dammit, that means this user knows what they’re doing” she muttered, picking up the gem to reuse it. She quickly filtered out all the prana that wasn’t her’s and stowed it away. She still had other places to check. 

 

Walking through a door, she realized something. This particular pathway wasn’t connected to the stairwell that was also marked as an emergency exit. Further, it itself wasn’t even connected to one marked as an emergency exit. As she descended, she realized that it wasn’t at all. A sign pointed out it led to a ‘Reference Room’, whatever that meant. What got her attention however was the large amounts of mana coming from the end. The deeper she got, the more she felt it. Not a reality marble, but two mages fought here last night… no. The more she sensed, the more she felt three. As she arrived, she realized quickly it was a server room. That it also had civilians fighting, unless one of the mages also used guns. As she sensed around she practically picked up what happened. It scared her as it had terrifying implications and confirmed her worst fears. 

 

First, the mage in the center summoned familiars, two of exceptionally high quality and two high quality familiars. Then, the highest quality one attacked one of the mages, who summoned his own high quality familiar to combat the attacking familiar. The other exceptional quality familiar of the 1st mage used magecraft to attack the second mages familiar and keep it distracted… Meanwhile, the first mage and his two familiars focused on the third mage… however the movements didn’t add up. The bullet holes suggested third parties present. However, there were no other mana signatures other than the familiars and mages. This suggested a single thing to her. Civilians were involved. This all but made the situation wholly awful. She needed to track them down, separate them from the mages, and then wipe their memories before harsher mages showed up to simply kill them…. Is what she wanted to do. However, as she examined where the second mage went, she became concerned. All he did was summon his familiar and then… use gunfire to fight the exceptional familiar? Why didn’t he use magecraft? As she wondered this, a thought occurred. Shirou was almost completely the same, with the sole exception that he already knew magecraft. If he didn’t, then he’d have been a simple human who stumbled into one of the most dangerous rituals on earth. Yet… if what she suspected was true, then this mage, who may not be a mage, was in a worse position. 

 

Speculation, she decided, was not her strong suit. As such, she decided to track all parties down and see about interrogating them. As she pulled out the gems and got to work, she was displeased. One failed, targeting the first mage. He also had protection against tracking. However, the other two didn’t. They both shone in separate directions, though one clearly moved. Nodding, she exited the reference room, with more questions than answers, but answers nonetheless… even if they made her dread what may be coming. If the mage turned out to be a civilian and he did somehow contract with a servant, then she’d have to have him turn over the contract. Her pride didn’t allow for someone completely uninvolved to suffer through a grail war. Especially after all the work she put in to dismantle it. The thought that someone stole that research and now used it infuriated her, but not enough to make her irrational. The third mage though was the issue. They did use magecraft, confirming they knew full well what they had done. Even if she couldn’t involve the clock tower, for the safety of the civilian, she had to not let such clear violations go unchecked. She planned to, at minimum, capture the third mage and hold them until the situation was cleared and then turn them over. It was going to be a long walk. 

 

Spookies

 

As he stepped into the base, he saw Lunch and Six were already there. Six looked fine, if a bit distracted as he cleaned his ‘collection’. Six was a massive self-defense nut and took great pride in collecting various pieces for self-defense. However, as last night proved, it was more useful than thought. Even if, as he revealed, he actually gave them his worst gear. He promised to not be as miserly from now on, realizing the situation they were in. It also had contributed to his fear the prior night. Lunch meanwhile groaned, saying “Man I can’t make heads or tails a this. Seriously…” then as he leaned back saw him, saying “Morn’in Tsukamoto. Sleep well?”. Nodding, he asked “Any news?”. Lunch shook his head, saying “Nah. I can’t do shit till Yu-Ichi’s here. He’s always been the code nut of us. Spooky went out to grab breakfast and chat with an info broker”. Nodding, he sat down, asking “What about Nemissa…?”. Lunch shrugged, saying “Phoned her house. Noth’in. Doubt we’ll see her again”. “Better. Hunt her down myself” Six stated, putting a rifle aside. Lunch sighed, saying “Six, we don’t have any way to track her. She knows better than to carry tech on her when casual”. Thinking, he remembered a certain function and said “Hey… doesn’t the gun PC have access to the Amami City Security Camera Network?”. Looking at him, Lunch smiled and started to work on the pc, saying “Great… its got remote access active. Neat. Now I can run it here… and there”. Looking with Lunch, they search the camera’s but quickly realized they couldn’t. There were far, far too many to cycle through. Before they gave up though, a new voice called out, saying “Yoooo! I’m here! Sorry I’m late!”. They looked and saw Yu-ichi, as he called himself. He wore a bicycle helmet and yellow and black sports outfit like that one chick from that one movie with bill in the title.

 

“Finally!” Lunch said “Yo, got any facial recognition software? We’re look’in for Hitomi”. Yu-ichi nodded, walking to the pc as Lunch got up and said “No probs gramps, I gotcha, just let code wizard Yu-ichi work his magic!” and began to work. He first pulled up a program and opened its internal code and added some lines, based on the features they gave for filters. Then he ran it with the program from the gun PC. In seconds, they found three matches. Two were old ladies and the third was the woman they were looking for. Yu-ichi whistled, asking “Yooo, when did Hitomi decide to go goth? It’s hot!”. “She didn’t… look, a lot happened last night man” Six replied, explaining “Spooky should’ve sent a message. We’re in deep shit. Want off? Now's your chance”. Yu-ichi, looking like a kid in a candy factory, asked “Dude, you serious? Count me in! Hell yeah now we’re real hackers!”. “This isn’t a game!” Six snapped at Yu-ichi, saying “Thanks to this shit, our friend is now possessed by a demon! You call that being a ‘real hacker’, huh!?”. “Dude, lay off! I’m just excit-” Yu-ichi defensively retorted, but stopped midway, then began to pale slowly “Wait… wait, wait, wait a second… What did you say?”. Lunch groaned, stepping between them and down at Yu-ichi, then stated “Hitomi got possessed by a demon calling itself Nemissa. It helped us save leader last night… ‘cord’in to it, it had no other options. Her, or nonexistence. We dunno how to change it, so we gotta deal”. Going from pale to red, Yu-ichi asked “Wait… wait, wait, wait… how do you know this is real and not made up? Is there something you’re leaving out?”. “Kinda” he said now, pointing to the gun PC “That is the cause of it all. A program on it is confusing us. It’s called the Devil Summoning Program… Lunch tried to look over it but” and was cut off as Yu-ichi returned to calm and then said “Couldn’t get it. Understand… need me to crack at it. I’ll give it a look. Maybe I can even replicate it” and began to work. 

 

“Seriously… who is… I’d never even think to try this…” Yu-ichi mumbled for the fortieth time. For the fortieth time, he asked “What?”. Yu-ichi, shockingly, answered, saying “I think… man… this is elaborate. Sorry, it’s gonna take me a while. What I can say is that the gun PC itself is… somehow storing the ‘form’ of whatever demon you contract… and some sort of battery is making summons possible. It lets it leave the PC and enter our world”. Lunch clicked his tongue, asking “How is it doing that tho?”. Yu-ichi shrugged, saying “Dunno… like I said, I'll need a lot of time to figure it out… and I’m guessing we don’t have that”. Nodding, Six said “We don’t. So we’ll need another way… maybe grabbing another computer like this one?”. Thinking, Lunch stated “If we could track down Carol J, that might help… which is where you come in again Yu-ichi. Here” and handed him the license they picked up that Carol J dropped. Looking at it wondering how in the world it was relevant, Yu-ichi’s eyes lit up seeing it and said “Dude… yeah I can use this” and proceeded to put it in the card reader. 

 

After that, Yu-ichi went to work. First, he patched his decrypter program to include loaded cards. Then he proceeded to run it without a cypher. After waiting half an hour, he nodded and proceeded to open their homebrewed browser and entered the address in it. Finally, a site popped up. “Summoner Net… huh. So these guys do gather” Yu-ichi commented. “Damn” Lunch said, awed “We really did stumble into a secret society pullin’ Amami City’s strings…”. Six added his own comment “Real hacker group. Know’in our luck, they’ve got real pull in the government”. Looking it over, he stated “Lot’s of handles… but Carol J is here. Look. He mentioned a rock concert twenty days ago”. Yu-ichi nodded, saying “Yeah… also has a map of Summoner-friendly spots. Oh! There’s also a listing for current jobs… let’s see…. Nothing new currently. Though… yeah. It has old jobs too”. “Huh…? ‘Amami Bay Monster-Closed’? Not completed?” Lunch muttered, staring “There’s another, ‘Mystery Rift; Closed’... the location is the city park. Do you think…?”. Six stated, tensely “Those missing people reports that suddenly spiked a year ago… is it related? The time matches up doesn’t it?”. Lunch nodded, saying “Holy shit… this goes deeper than we thought”. Suddenly an alert popped up on-screen. ‘Error; Connection to PC59008 lost. Please check connection settings’ it read. “The hell?” Yu-ichi stated, immediately going to logs, then yelled ‘Son of a bitch! It cut the connection!” and proceeded to grab the gun PC. As he opened it, he groaned as Lunch asked “Yu-ichi, what’s going on!?”. Frowning deeply, Yu-ichi responded “Damn thing locked itself… look” and showed them. The screen clearly showed ‘Error; Unregistered connection detected; Connection to Summoner Net established; Locking down; Go to Gourdmaden’. It was then a familiar face walked in. 

 

“Hey guys wazzup?” Nemissa asked, entering. Spooky followed behind, saying “I’m back. Any luck here?”. Yu-ichi froze, turning slowly and said, laughing hesitantly “H-hey boss! Ummm… got some news!”. Spooky nodded as he walked in, Yu-ichi continuing “I-I looked into that program, like you wanted! It’s pretty complex so I can’t give ya much beyond whatever he made a deal with yesterday being stored inside the PC itself”. Spooky nodded, saying “Well that clears one mystery up… guess for more answers we need someone familiar with this stuff”. Six groaned, then said “We could if the damn thing worked anymore”. Yu-ichi glared at Six as Spooky looked between them, asking “What?”. “Yeah” he said “It’s busted… apparently, connecting to Summoner Net while it was plugged in was a bad idea. It’s got a lock mechanism if any sort of connection forms”. Frowning, before Spooky could ask Yu-ichi spoke up, saying “B-but! We have a lead! Gourmaden! It says to go there!”. Spooky looked at it himself, saying “I see. I know the place. Luxurious hotel restaurant that travels to different ports in Japan. Switches locations every five years… it ported here two years ago. Head over. Maybe we’ll get answers”. “Neat. I’ll hang with” Nemissa said, walking over to him. He looked at Spooky who just shrugged and asked “Could I even stop you”. Nemissa shook her head, saying “Nope! Now… where are we heading? Amami Bay?”. Shaking his head, Spooky stated “Nope. It’s at the nearby private harbor. Just say you’re going to the Gourmaden to the guard. He’ll let you in… use my handle if you have to”. He nodded and collected his gun PC, saying “Then, I’m off”. Before he could leave, Six suddenly spoke up, saying “Wait”. Turning, Six stated “Come to me if you need some gear. I’ll try to hook you up. I know people where I can get stuff…. If I can’t afford it, I’ll ask for the difference. Just… keep the requests spaced out. It’s a bit risky for me to get rich quick”. Nodding, he responded “Alright Six. Thanks. See ya” and left, Nemissa following. Lunch looked at Spooky, asking “Boss… we’re already deep but we can pull out. Why aren’t we?”. Spooky smiled and said “You kidding? This is what we’ve been waiting for. A scandal for the ages… we just gotta play our cards right, be careful, and not get caught. So from now on, maximum secrecy. I want no one talking about anything spookies related outside of here, got it?”. All of them nodded, as Spooky then said “Alright! Yu-ichi, search that Summoner Net you mentioned. Grab any useful information. Lunch, I need to know if upgrading specialized PCs is possible. Six… I need you to double check the systems of the base. Make sure its security is good top to bottom”. Everyone nodded and got to work. 

 

Walking there wasn’t hard. Once they were there he followed Spooky’s instructions and said “I’m here to go to the Gourmaden”. The guard laughed, asking “In those clothes?”. After a nod, the guard frowned but sighed, opening the gate and saying “Fine. Whatever. Your reputation. At least Paradigm X is around the corner, right?”. Ignoring him, he walked past but Nemissa stated “At least he can afford to go there” and followed. The guard growled but said nothing, closing the gate behind them. Walking in, they were in a lobby. “Now what?” Nemissa asked “I can definitely sense something here but… can’t pin down where”. Thinking for a minute, someone suddenly said to him “Excuse me, sir, can I help you?” in a very monotone voice. Turning, he saw a pale-skinned maid with crimson red eyes. Nemissa immediately became tense while he said “Oh… sorry to bother but I’m looking for someone… I have a sort of… issue”. The maid raised an eyebrow, saying “We are not a help center. There is one down the street from the harbor if you need one though”. Nemissa stated, almost growling “It told us to come here. Don’t think it’d do it if a help center could help us… especially with you here”. The maid turned its attention to Nemissa, staring for a long minute before he said “Yeah. My portable computer did”. Snapping its attention to him, the maid stated “I see… you are special guests then. Follow me” and turned away. Looking at Nemissa, he asked quietly “Dude, what's wrong?”. “I dunno” Nemissa answered “It’s like every cell in my body and every molecule of my soul want to run from that… that thing. It tells me it's not human… but I don’t know why. It’s… it’s distressing”. “Want to wait? I can go-” he began but Nemissa interrupted, saying “No… I… refuse to leave you alone with it”. Nodding, he followed the maid deeper inside. 

 

As they descended into the hull, they slowly entered what felt more and more unwelcome to mortals. The air felt toxic and the environment confusing. Yet somehow, they kept their senses and followed the Maid until eventually she opened a door and entered, saying aloud “Master Victor, I bring guests”. Ahead was a man wearing a sailors jacket and cap, with white clothing underneath the black. He had the same pale features as the maid but was much more masculine and had a black and white beard on him. As he turned from a workbench, he stated “Ah… guests. It has been some time. Welcome. I was not expecting you”. Gulping, he said “Th-thank you. My portable PC is… broken. I need it repaired and it said to come here”. Victor gestured for him to approach and said “Come. Let me see it”. He did so, offering it and approaching. As he did, he started to feel more and more at ease. Victor took it and opened it, saying “Ah… I see. The original user set it to close upon detecting an unauthorized connection to Summoner Net… probably Urabe. Did you receive this from him?”. He shook his head, saying “No… Leader said he bought it from a pawn shop”. “Hey… are you doing something?” Nemissa asked “I can sense it you know”. Victor looked at her, then him, saying “I did. Slight hypnotism. I removed his unease. That is all… now… I will repair your COMP… let me guess. You lack the proper funds to facilitate this?”. He checked his wallet and said “I have… 4000 yen. Is that enough?”. Shaking his head, he stated “No. I require at least 100.000 yen. Still… I am not uncharitable. Trade for Labor. You agree to do a favor, I will repair your COMP”. “What’s the favor?” he asked. “I was supposed to receive a shipment a week ago. However, the warehouse it’s stored in is locked down. I have no employees to retrieve it either. Agree, and after I repair this COMP, you will go and retrieve it” Victor explained “Otherwise, you may return when you have the funds”. Thinking, he said aloud “I’m guessing there’s… monsters if you’re willing to repair it with just my word”. Victor chuckled, saying “Perceptive… and only half-right. I have ways to ensure your honesty. I will place you under a Geas. I won’t make the penalty too severe. Simply, you’ll give me your COMP free of charge”. Nodding, he replied “Then… Nemissa? Any objections?”. Nemissa shook her head, as he said “Then… I accept”. 

 

Victor smiled, saying “Good. You are courageous… Tell me, are you new to this business?”. He nodded and Victor said “Then introductions are in order. I am Victor Nestrvankein. My workshop is a friend to all Summoners. Normally, I simply empower familiars. However, recently I find myself combining Phantasmal Beasts into stronger beasts”. “Phantasmal Beasts?” he asked. Victor stopped, asking “Are you… truly unaware? When did your circuits form?”. “Last night” he replied, to which Victor sighed, saying “Then… understood. A crash course it is. Magic is real boy. I am but one element. Many things said to be false are truly real. They work on the perception of ‘Mystery’. Phantasmal Beasts are mythical creatures that fled this world to a realm called ‘the Other Side’ in order to continue existing, due to a lack of ‘Mystery’ here”. Taking a puff of his pipe, Victor continued “Normally, summoning them is impossible. The mana cost is significant… but sometimes, circumstances arise that facilitate their summoning. The COMPs are one such circumstance. The Devil Summoning Program… even I am not privy to all its workings. However, with it and the right area, summoning is possible. Not even the major powers know of this however… save one, the creators of this power”. He tensed, saying “the Phantom Society”. Victor nodded, saying “Yes. I could not tell you their aims… however, they have a habit of offending summoners, who leave and create their own programs and spread them. You have stumbled upon one such program. Urabe… I remember him well. Truly, a lost, pitiable soul”. He looked at the COMP as he accepted it back. “Boy. A word of advice… if you think you can’t handle it, return here. I will, free of charge, give you your life back” Victor said “I have seen too many times young people throw their lives away for nothing in return”. He replied “I’m in too deep… if I back out, I’m defenseless”. Victor sighed, saying “Perhaps… anyway. The Geas. Simply say ‘I vow to fulfill the deal and return with the Kadmon’. That will suffice. After that, you are bound”. He nodded, and repeated the phrase. As he did, a marking appeared on the back of his hand. “There. Now if you break it, your body will compel you here and you will hand over your COMP. Simply intend to complete it, and the Geas will be satisfied” Victor explained “Now for the shipment… It was an artificial lifeform. Silicon-based instead of carbon. A revolutionary thing, shipped from the Eizenbern family, to order. You’ll know it by its alien appearance”. Nodding, he walked away, saying “Be back with your lifeform”. Victor merely nodded, saying “Mary, escort them out… and they are guests from now one”. Mary nodded, escorting them out. 

 

Persona!

 

Tatsuya Suou had hit paydirt. He didn’t find the weird guy, but found plenty of circumstantial evidence of being a hacker. Various gadgets, some hidden spy gear, and most convincing of all an Amami City provided computer that was modified to hell and back. After all, not many rig their webcam to facial scan whoever is sitting at the computer to determine whether to even allow a login attempt or not. Not being an electrical persona, his Apollo couldn’t even try to hack it. However, that was fine. He poked around and found out plenty. According to various news articles, he was apparently interested in electronics. Further, he had plenty of parts laying around. However, the dude's phone was not just unsecured, but also laying around. “Heh heh… big mistake junior hacker. Your secrets are mine to keep or spill” he chuckled as he searched it. The messages were innocuous but he knew a coded conversation when the number was blocked and the speech familiar. However, that was fine. He now knew that he had a confidant outside the group. Some sort of alpha hacker known as Reticulian. Smiling, he texted Reticulian and simply typed he was in trouble and needed a safehouse. He got a response quickly, telling him to go to Warehouse 5 in the Amami Bay. Smirking, he tossed aside the phone and pulled out his, texting his brother as he left. ‘Yo. Got an update’ he messaged ‘Kid’s associated with a hacker called Reticulian. Can’t tell what their convo’s are, but one message was very frank about his hatred of his father. Go’in to shake him down for info now’. ‘Reticulian? According to records, he’s wanted. There’s a bounty for 50k on any info about him. Including recent hits’ his brother messaged back. ‘Neat. I’ll give an update on how it goes. Talk to ya later’ he texted back, putting his phone away and walking out, confident about his talk with Reticulian. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

 

Warehouse Down!



Spookies

 

He called Six right away as he left the Gourmaden. “Yo” he said as Six greeted him “Need some stuff. Can ya meet me at Amami Bay, Warehouse Block J?”. “Yeah… meetcha there” Six replied before hanging up. He put his phone away before renting a Smart Car to the Amami Bay. “Let’s take a Smart Car. My treat”. Nemissa perked up, asking “Smart Car?”. “Yeah” Hitomi answered “Smart Cars are fully automated vehicles. They still have traditional controls for emergencies, but otherwise it handles the rest. Onboard cameras are extremely high quality and the car can respond in nanoseconds. Its state of the art”. Laughing, Nemissa stated “Sounds fun… and comfortable. Nemissa approves”. Smirking, he stated “Good… otherwise? We’d have had to hike ten miles”. Nemissa’s confidence deflated and she frowned, saying “Not fun”. Laughing, he stated “Thought so”. Once it arrived, he went into the passenger side while Nemissa immediately claimed the driver seat. The smart car then immediately began driving. 

 

Once there, it parked and let them out. They had it let them go at Warehouse E. It’d be a 5 minute walk to J. This meant none of Amami City’s unmodified tech laid eyes on Lunch’s SUV. As he walked over, the side door opened and Six hopped out, saying “Yo, Sanaga. Got your gear” and pulled out a pair of duffel bags. He opened one and saw the goods. A real switchblade that had a longer blade than the lighter one while Nemissa pulled out a comb-hidden switchblade that flipped out and locked in. It was single edged while his was double. They also got 9mm guns with ammo to replace the old ammo for their nambu type 14s. After that was a small upgrade to their armor. To compliment their bulletproof vests, they now had football helmets. This would protect their head somewhat. Further, they had leather gloves to reduce strain on their palms when firing the new guns. “That should be everything. All I got on short notice… I'd have to hit a cache to get ya better stuff. ‘Course… all that it is are upgraded kevlar vests, actual infantry helmets, rifles, and real swords” Six replied, looking at him, saying “I didn’t bring mine because it doesn’t have a silencer. Those do. Aren’t going to alert anyone outside of 100 ft. to gunshots”. Nodding, he said “Thanks Six… this is good stuff”. Six waved his hand, saying “I told you last time. We’re in deep. I’m gonna let it get used. If I can’t afford someth’in, I’ll let ya know”. Nodding, Nemissa stated “I’m not sure about the helmet but I can get used to these gloves… remind me to go clothes shopping”. Six and him just stared at Nemissa, then each other and made a silent vow to not let that happen. Then he saw something else and asked “Hey… what’s this?”. Lunch simply smiled.

 

As they entered Warehouse Block J, he kept the equipment hidden. “We need to make sure we don’t spook the guards and get them to report us” he explained “We need to make sure we can get to Lunch’s SUV quickly”. Nodding, Nemissa said “It’s alright. I got magic if we get into a scrap. I kinda worked my circuits last night and unlock a new spell!”. As if to demonstrate, she held a hand out and concentrated, forming a ball of ice in her hand. With a simple breathe, the ice ball accelerated forward at the speed of a fast ball. Thankfully, no one was hit but he knew it might catch some attention. “Hey” he stated “Careful. We can’t hit civilians”. “I know, I know. I’m keep’in an eye out, ‘Sanaga’. By the way, why do you use code names?” Nemissa inquired. “Amami City has an expansive surveillance network. Anything that comes from the city has a bug on it. Some audio, some visual… codenames, or handles as we call’em, help up conceal our IDs. Can’t run a name that doesn’t exist, right? Well… can, but they’d need ta actually come down off their high horse for that” he explained, seeing a worker ahead “Hey, excuse me! Can I get a word?”. The worker turned, groaned and asked “What is it? I’m busy”. “It’ll only be a minute. I need a particular shipment. My client said it was from an ‘Eizenbern Family’ to the Gourmaden” he asked, pulling out a small slip of paper. The worker looked at it, saying “That’s a receipt… legit huh? Well.. I know where it is. Handled the crate myself. It’s in warehouse 3. Good luck getting in though”. Frowning, he asked “Why?”. “It’s… not in a stable condition. It’s so cold inside, a lot of stuff froze over. If you had come tomorrow? Probably be frozen shut. Cause ‘a how dangerous it is, we locked it for workers only and have a mandatory policy to wear insulated clothes… still. You are on the job huh?” the worker explained, eyeing him with pity. He nodded, saying “Now package, no payment. Simple as that”. Sighing, the worker said “They change the passcodes… talk to Jeri in this warehouse and Chimoshi in the far one. The warehouse that’s so cold is in the middle. Jeri’s got insulated clothes you can wear and Chimoshi has the passcodes. Just give them the same story and they’ll cooperate”. Nodding, he replied “Thanks” and walked away. Nemissa, watching the exchange, asked after they rounded the corner “Wow! Dude how’d you pull that off! I didn’t think Victor gave us a receipt”. Smiling, he showed Nemissa and gloated “He didn’t. I used Lunch’s new toy, ‘the Portable Printer’ to make one” and reached down, grabbing the warehouse door. He then began to lift it slowly, Nemissa walking in while ducking. He followed after. 

 

Thankfully their trek was short. They heard a humming from a nearby room and walked to it. When they entered, a chinese woman in worker's clothes looked at them, holding a box, saying “Why are you here? No civilians are allowed here!”. “I’m on job lady” he replied, showing the receipt “Gourmaden wants its shipment. It’s a week late. Got told you can hook me up with clothes”. Frowning deeply, the woman replied “I am… but I’m not allowed to give them out to non-employees and this sounds like you’re an odd-jobs guy”. “Yeah, ‘fraid I am” he replied “No shipment, no pay… c’mon we can’t work some’thin out?” he asked. The woman, looking him up and down, sighed and said “2k yen. Take it or leave”. Nodding, he pulled out his wallet and handed her the yen. Pocketing it, she stated “Great. Just bought replacement clothes and my next month of app games” and set the box down, reaching in and pulling two heavy-looking coats that covered them head to toe “Now listen… even with these, don’t stay in there longer than an hour. Hypothermia will begin to set in and if you aren’t out in time… well, police won’t be able to get in for three days”. Nodding, him and Nemissa took the clothes. “Now scram” the worker said, picking the box up, setting it on a shelf, picking up a clipboard, and marking it before moving on. They left that warehouse. 

 

The next warehouse, they scoured each room. They heard no signs of a man in there at first, but Nemissa decided to skip the search and went to the farthest room she could find. He scrambled after her, but was shocked as they stared at a shocked elderly worker. “E-everythin’....” the worker began, but then said sternly “Holds it! You can’t be here! Only employees of Amami City! Or Company men!”. Nemissa huffed, saying “Company men!? What, woman can’t be here or something!?”. Looking startled, the man said “S-s-sorry! I meant company people, people! I swear!”. Nemissa growled and just said “Ar- Sanaga, just show him the damn receipt so we can get the passcode”. Sighing, he produced it, saying “Sorry for my partner. She’s… sort of her own deal at the moment. Doesn’t like it being challenged. If you could give us that, we’ll be outta your hair”. The elderly man nodded, saying “The PINs 278534”. “Thank you…” he stated, putting it away, looking at Nemissa and saying “Heeey, can we get going?”. Nemissa nodded, saying “Yeah” and rushed ahead. He followed, saying “Sorry about this”. The man simply stared at them in bewilderment. 

 

They geared up in front of the warehouse. Ella worked some illusion magic to keep workers away while they did. He put on his insulated jacket, leather gloves, combat boots, and football helmet. He holstered his 9mm and switchblade. Nemissa likewise did the same, saying “Man… can’t believe I’m wearing this… at least it’s just today. I'm getting new clothes”. “I know, I know” he replied, checking his COMP to ensure it was working “We’re good. I’ve tapped into surveillance. This warehouse is completely down but I can watch elsewhere… unless the signal jams inside”. Laughing, Nemissa said “What, worried about your friends?” in a high tone. “You aren’t?” he asked, sarcastically. Nemissa froze for a second, as Hitomi suddenly stated “Of course I am! I dunno about her! I hope so!”. Nemissa hesitated but said “I… am actually. Let’s get this done quick”. As he inputted the code, he asked “I’ve been… hesitant to ask but… about your circuits… with me, I practically bled all over the carpet… but Hi- I mean she didn’t. How’d you pull it off?”. Nemissa answered “I guess… the best way to explain it is that our souls merged. When that happened, she… sort of had them… ‘appear’ on her. With you, they were… basically cut into you, like a messy surgery”. Continuing, she stated “I think it’s because of my unique existence. As I stated, I cannot possess just anyone. Qualifications need to be met… Hitomi fits the bill according to my instincts”. Nodding, he stated “I’m glad it’s not going to be anything adverse… what happens when you’re gone though?”. “She’ll be fine. Her brain and soul have what it needs from me to properly use magic circuits” Nemissa answered, going through the now open warehouse door “Its just actually using magecraft that’ll be the problem. I’m running on pure instinct with it”. Nodding, he stated “Good thing we aren’t planning to be mages… well I’m not. Hitomi?”. “Nope” Hitomi answered, to which Nemissa replied “Hey, don’t knock it till ya try it. Magic’s pretty fun after all”. Smiling, they entered the warehouse.

 

The insulated clothes worked wonders. He felt a nip but nothing more. However, the fact he felt like he was in a furnace outside really showed the temperature difference. However, he looked at Nemissa and asked “Hey… isn’t this… weird?”. Nodding, Hitomi walked further in with him, saying “Yeah…. Why is it just regular temperature literally an inch outside but this cold inside?”. Frowning, he replied “I dunno… maybe it's magic” and pulled his gun out, saying “Be ready for an ambush”. Nemissa laughed, saying “Was there ever an alternative? Don’t worry. I’ll be fine” and looked around, saying “Yeah… this ice I’m seeing… it’s definitely magical”. He nodded, keeping an eye out. Ella nodded, saying “I’m not sure on the specifics… but yeah. One of us definitely made it. Not my kind specifically but a non-human”. Looking at Ella, he asked “Can you tell which kind of creature?”. Shaking her head, Ella answered “No. I’m not an expert of my kind. The magical kind. Just an expert on pixie kind”. Nodding, they continued when suddenly Nemissa shouted “On the right. Two incoming… three ahead, one on the left”. Nodding, he turned left and fired a shot into the hallway just as a creature burst into life. It looked like a cooked turkey with a spine shooting out the wrong end with a malformed onion for a head. His shot however went right through said onion head and made it dissipate immediately. Meanwhile, Nemissa formed a ball of ice while pulling out a gun and blew on it, causing it to surge forward. It slammed into the face of a human-headed beast, caving it in and causing it to dissipate. However, two creatures zipped immediately to them, being on Nemissa and Arata instantly. Turning, he cried out “What!?”. “So fast!?” Nemissa stated, turning to attack with her comb knife. Ella fired a lightning bolt into the hallway ahead, slamming a bolt into a fish creature that howled and flopped to the ground angrily and in pain. 

 

“Hahahaha Humans! Time to die!” one of the living lightning bolts stated, raising a tiny hammer to strike. He was only fast enough to dodge and make the attack miss entirely. He still knew it was fast. Nemissa however yelled out as the hammer struck her head fast. Lashing out, she caught its tail but didn’t land a killing blow. It screamed in pain, yelling “Damn human! You’ll die for that!”. “Master!” Ella cried, turned and grabbed the one with her hands, then letting go with a scream. “Stupid fairy! I’m lightning itself! You just use it!” it cried out. The other creature from down the hall, a bee-like creature with pink arms and a pink face, yelled “Yoooo! Leave tha little guys alone!”. “Damn pests!” Nemissa yelled as she tried again. “Haha!” the lightning bolt yelled, dodging away each slash. He grew tired of it and simply tried to shoot at them. This failed just as much. Ella however concentrated on the approaching threat, saying “Back off! That’s my master!” and threw a lightning bolt. Which the bee monster couldn’t avoid. However, it weathered it and then grabbed Ella, saying “You punk fairy! I’ll kill you!”. “Shit! Ella!” Arata cried, turning his attention away. He cried out and fell forward as the lightning bolt smacked him in the back of the head, saying “Gotcha, Gotcha! Now you're dead!”. “Sanaga!” Nemissa yelled, finally growing tired of the creature and grabbing it. “Haha! You du- wait wait wait WAIT!” the lightning bolt yelled as Nemissa weathered the damage and stabbed it in the face, dissipating it. She quickly turned and with a huff sent an ice ball flying at the living bolt of lightning. The moment the two made contact, a scream going from low to ear bursting rang out before disappearing along with the bolt. However, the bee creature then slammed Ella into a wall, making her cry out. 

 

“Put her down!” he yelled, aiming his gun “Don’t and I shoot!”. Looking at him, then the now heavily bruised fairy of similar size, it asked “Why the hell should I? You’ll kill me if I don’t… c’mon. Give me a reason”. Frowning, he asked “To do what?”. “Anything” it answered “What, you green?”. He considered for a moment before asking “What do you want?”. Looking shocked, the creature said “Uhhhhh…. Well… magic I guess… or… ‘Prana’ as you humans call it”. “H-he… w-w-wants to n-negotiate” Ella stammered out “Th-this… is how s-summoners… make contracts… they offer things… in return for s-service”. The bee creature glared at Ella, then softened and asked “So ya are new… huh. Guess that explains it. Tell me… she your only contract?”. Shaking his head, he was about to say something when it said “Don’t lie kid. Not a smart move. I can kill her and you lose her”. Tensing, the creature continued, saying “I’m only putt’in up with ya cause I’m outnumbered… and I can get outta this alive. Listen. I’m offer’in a deal. Contract with me and she lives… and you get an ally. All I want? Prana. Sweet, delicious Prana… and out every other day”. Hesitating, Ella said “I… please… accept it…”. He asked “Can I ask her something?”. Nodding, he then asked “Ella, will it make more magic circuits?”. Ella shook her head, saying “No…”. He frowned but lowered the gun as did Nemissa and said “Fine. Dammit… but if I get suspicious, contracts over, got it?”. The bee creature smiled and nodded, saying “Done and done. Glad to be aboard”. Then his COMP dinged. He opened it and a message said ‘New Devil Added; Pennegal’. “Pennegal?” he muttered questioningly. The creature stated “That’s my race. My name is Jessup”. Nodding, he said “Alright then Jessup… What can you tell me about this place?”. 

 

“So… first a’ all, I ain’t familiar with the layout but I gets the feel’in you don’t want that… but I need ta tell ya, it’s got three basement floors” Jessup stated “The source ‘a this chill is on tha third”. Nodding, he asked “What is it?”. Shrugging, Jessup said “Dunno anymore than its a cold beastie. Thazzit”. Sighing, Nemissa asked “So how’s it spreading this cold? What kind of magic?”. Another shrug but Jessup said “Ya know a COMP repairer, right? They’ll know. They gots ta have a good knowledge base ta work on COMPs. They are magical instruments. Not sure on the specifics though”. “So… we talk to Victor… thanks Jessup” he said. Looking at Ella, he asked “You sure you alright?”. Ella nodded, saying “Yeah… let’s keep going”. Nodding, he took the lead as Nemissa, Ella, and Jessup followed. He was a bit worried though. He hadn’t felt his magic circuits this whole time, but now he did. He wondered if it was a sign of his contracts pulling magic from him. 

 

Rin

 

She tracked them. First, to the Shibahama district. At first she thought they were in the southern side but then she found it moved more north. Eventually she confirmed that they were somewhere within the Gourmaden. Frowning, she waited outside. It was common courtesy to not start fights in the home of the second owner. Even if it wasn’t really her home, it was where Ginko had chosen to show herself and so it was effectively a declaration to not start issues there. However she was not against waiting and spying. Not out of disrespect, but out of duty. The situation was dire and she had to intervene before the clocktower got word. As she watched the tracking gem, she saw it move. Looking, she finally saw them, both of them. The girl had pure white hair and eyes while the boy had short black hair and brown eyes. He wore a green windbreaker and jeans. Overall, he seemed normal for sure, except for the weirdly shaped gun on his side. The girl on the other hand was different. Her hair went down her back and she wore an orange vest and white t-shirt underneath and blue jeans. She wore brown sandals with pink socks. If not for the snow white hair, she’d think them normal. However, she noticed Shirou’s expression and asked “Something wrong?”. 

 

“Yeah” Shirou answered “The boy… I… think he might actually be a mage… but that girl is… I don’t think she’s human. Something about her mana and the way she carries herself…”. Frowning deeply, she didn’t like the implication. Possession was not heard of but rare. Only mages that royally screw up got possessed. This meant that one of them tried something and it backfired. She saw a Smart Car arrive and groaned. She knew what it meant. They were leaving already. Heading forward, she asked “I don’t suppose you feel like chasing a car, do you?”. Shaking his head she sighed and said “Nothing to it then… let me go see Kuzunoha-sama. She can likely inform us where they went… in the meantime, get a car ready” and headed into the Gourmaden. Shirou pulled a phone out and remotely entered his location to the Smart car they rented. 

 

Mary guided her further in. Standing before her, Ginkgo nodded and said “Welcome back young Tohsaka. I assume you’re giving your answer?”. Tohsaka nodded, saying “Yes… but I want another chip. The boy and girl who just saw you. Where are they headed? I also need to know their associations”. Raising an eyebrow, Ginko answered, “I did not deal with them myself… Mary? Where did they go when arriving?”. Mary answered “I escorted them to the master. He visited with the guests”. Nodding, Ginko asked “I assume you will not tell?”. Mary hesitated, then concentrated deeply. After a few minutes, she responded “I have been given leave to disclose their destination. However, he requests that if you intercept, you complete their task in their stead. He has sent them to fetch a shipment from Warehouse Block J”. Nodding, Rin asked “What was the shipment?”. “A custom-order artificial lifeform. It is hard to miss, after all” Mary explained “They made a Geas with my master. Delivery for repair… hmmm… perhaps you should meet with him before departure?”. Thinking, she nodded, saying “I think I should… I want to know what they wanted repaired”. Suddenly she felt an ominous aura. It came from Ginko, turning as Ginko said “Miss Tohsaka… I do not mean to overstep, but I advise against it. You will not prosper-” but stopped as Mary suddenly flashed an angry expression, asking “Do you dare accuse your host and master of something, mage?”. Hesitating, Ginko responded, saying “N-no. I just-” but stopped and sighed, saying “Fine. However, what is your answer, Tohsaka?”. Looking at her, she responded “I do not mind sharing some details. I trust you expect me to safeguard my family’s research… but some things can be shared”. Nodding, she then said “Go… I would rather not anger Mary further”. Mary nodded, looking at Rin and said “Follow me please” and began to leave. Rin let a shiver finally travel through her. She realized she misunderstood the power dynamic. Mary truly wasn't a servant to the second owner, but merely attendant at the behest of another. Who controlled the dead apostle though? 

 

Quickly she understood. The deeper she descended, the more she felt the hum of magic. It was practically all around her. Not like a reality marble, which forcefully overwrites reality, but this kind was far more subtle, corrupting reality instead. As she finally laid eyes on the core of the workshop, she saw him. The man there turned, his crimson red eyes gazing on her as he asked “Who is this Mary?”. “A guest of the second owner who has been seeking sanctuary among us… she wished for more information on your earlier guests” Mary explained, then turning to Tohsaka and saying “This is my master, Victor Nestrvankein. He is owner and proprietor of the Gourmaden”. Victor nodded, saying “Tohsaka… Tohsaka… I remember that name... “. She shivered but said “My family has been the second owner to Fuyuki City for generations”. Victor snapped his fingers, saying “Yes… Some thirty years ago, I made port there. The second owner took offense to my presence and tried to intimidate me. He learned that was a mistake”. Frowning a bit, she replied “I see… unfortunate”. Victor waved his hand, saying “The grudge was forgotten when he apologized. Pray tell, what brings you to my humble workshop?”. Tohsaka asked immediately “I have reason to believe you saw a non-human… and a civilian. I need to know where they went… you know what will happen if the clock tower hears of them”. Nodding, Victor said “Yes… the civilian killed to retain mystery, and the non-human captured for study… if this were anywhere else”. Raising an eyebrow, she stated “Sir, with all due respect, I-” but was cut off as Victor stated “Tell me. What do you think of the city?”. 

 

She hesitated but Victor continued, saying “I think it's fine. Not utopia, but comfortable… though with Paradigm X’s beta launch, there has been a certain… fervor. An expectation. Contentment is beginning to follow”. He then looked at her, asking “How could a false world provide that? How could the association stand by while it happens? More specifically… why are they unable to do anything?”. Hesitating, she asked “Wait… what are you saying?”. “I am not the strongest entity that has staked claim in Amami City… nor will the clock tower” Victor bluntly stated “Many pieces move Tohsaka all with their own goals for humanity. You have entered a dangerous chess board. I do not know your aim… but be careful. You are now as much a player as the second owner upstairs”. Shivering, she asked “How… what…?” to which Victor responded “I do not fear for the boy because of the clock tower… I fear for the boy because of what waits for him in the city… already it tried to claim his life once. Surely, it will try again. Go. Find the boy… he holds some answers for you”. She hesitated, but then asked “Alright… but why him? What makes him special?”. Victor hesitated, then answered “He picked up destiny… in the form of a curious tool. Examine it if you wish to know more. That is all, Mary, guide her back up. I do not mind entertaining Tohsaka again, but for now she cannot benefit from my workshop”. Victor then turned away, paying them no mind as he began working again. Mary turned to her, saying “Please, follow me” and began to leave. Tohsaka followed, knowing better than to disobey. Mary was already a dead apostle, a dangerous entity… However, Victor was something more. She sensed his humanity, yet he had the body of a True Ancestor. That fact scared her to no end. How had a human become such a being?

 

As she left the Gourmaden, Shirou was waiting in the car. She entered and looked back at it, staring at Mary who stared back. “Everything… fine?” Shirou asked hesitantly, his gaze going to Mary. “Yes… I just… realized how deep this situation is” Rin stated, looking at Shirou “Let’s go. I have questions for that boy… and whatever resides in that girl”. Shiro nodded, as Rin said “Warehouse Block J” and he entered it. Then he asked “So why do you look… scared? You’ve never held that expression before unless it was bad”. Rin frowned, then sighed, looking away with a lowered guard, saying “It’s… much worse than we thought. I don’t know if they’re using it but… whatever they’re doing, it’s rendered the second owner powerless. She’s being protected by a True Ancestor and a Dead Apostle… that’s how bad it is. Are we… enough?”. Shirou looked at her, his brow furrowing a bit as he asked “If we aren’t… does that change anything? He’s far less ready for this than us, which means… we have to go”. The car lurched to a start, moving along. Rin gave a small chuckle, smiling and looking at him. Her smile deepened as she said “That’s just like you isn’t it…? Mr. Hero of justice… well. You’re not wrong. Besides… As much as I’m ashamed to admit it, he may have something that’ll make our job easier. Let’s hope this goes along smoothly”. She didn’t like involving civilians. She was adamant the boy was going to be uninvolved. However, from the sounds of it he had something vitally important to this incident. Something she intended to acquire so the boy wouldn’t have to… she just hoped he didn’t resist. 

 

Spookies

 

He dodged to the left. Where he was, a ball of ice slammed into the ground. Nemissa meanwhile hid behind a pillar as a ball of ice slammed into it and cracked it. Jessup and Ella hid behind other pillars, waiting. Coming out of the far door, a pink wearing doll left. It coldly scanned the room, before holding a hand up and saying “Targeting… magic signatures locked on. Firing… Aeon Rain”. A ball of light formed above its hand and suddenly blasts of blue energy shot out of it, dissipating the ball. He yelped when he saw it make a wide turn around the pillar. Based on its trajectory, it’d aim for his chest. He ducked and barely dodged it, losing some hair from the attempt. Nemissa yelled in pain while he felt Jessup draw more magic. “Status!” he yelled. “I’m fine! It only grazed me!” Ella yelled, while Nemissa said “Tagged my arm but I’m healing!”. “I got hit! Healing!” Jessup said “Sorry for the draw master!”. “It’s fine!” he yelled, turning around the corner and firing “Just get her!”. The bullets smashed into its skin, cracking it like one might crack ice. Jessup and Ella came from around the corner, both yelling “Take this!” and fired their attacks. Jessup launches his own shots made of yellow energy while Ella fired a single lightning bolt. The doll simply held up both arms, the left raising a wall of ice to block the yellow shots, and a small shield of ice forming on its right arm to block the lightning bolt. “All presented magic analyzed. Too weak to breach generated defenses. Damage from unguarded impact; Estimated zero. Proceeding” the doll stated, pushing out with both hands. The wall surged towards Jessup while the shield flew at Ella. “Eeeek!” Ella screamed, flying behind the pillar and dodging the shield. Jessup took cover as the wall slammed into the pillar and cracked it. Nemissa came out and fired a few shots, hitting its face making it step back a bit and put a hand to it. “Got her!” Nemissa yelled “I hate to say it but magic isn’t doing anything!”. He fired a few more shots, hitting her shoulder, knee, and midsection. The dolls brow furrowed as it held out a hand, saying “Two intruders exposed. Attacking; Mabufu”. A flurry of ice balls shot out from various points around her at them. 

 

Dodging again, he was shocked when suddenly she suddenly skidded to a stop near him. “Magic analyzed; Link established with Phantasmal Beasts; Estimated summoner… Hypothesis, you die and your beasts fade” she stated in an emotionless state. Gritting his teeth, he quickly pulled out his switchblade and slashed at it as it suddenly thrust itself at him, arms first. His blade didn’t connect and its shove threw him to the wall, cracking it and injuring his back. He cried out in pain as he felt that. “Tsuk- Sanaga!” Hitomi/Nemissa cried out, saying “I’ll kill you!” and firing a flurry of shots at it. “Injury… sustained” the doll grunted, bending over from the blows hitting its back in rapid succession “Recovering”. Ella flew over, placing its hands on his back as he bent over in pain and exhaustion. “Master! We should retreat! This foe is strong!” Ella stated. He looked at Ella as Jessup said “Yea, I hate ta admit it but it's too strong!”. Frowning, he said “Fine! Nemissa, We’re retreating!”. “Intercepting escape!” Gargan Zero declared, rushing forward. However, it’s trajectory was diverted into the wall next to him as Jessup zipped over and slammed its fist into Gargan’s face. “Now, now!” Jessup yelled “I’ll hold it off!”. He ran for the door, Nemissa following and saying “I don’t like this but fine! We better set up an ambush!”. 

 

Once it recovered, it turned and stared at the Pennagal. “Calculating… delay estimated to be three minutes and forty two seconds. Surely, undesirable” Gargan stated “Turncoat, you survive 100%”. Smirking, the Pennagal stated “Nah… I’m fine. I’ll just retreat and fight! Ain’t noth’in wrong wit that right!?” and proceeded to fire its yellow shots at it before retreating to the door. It raised a wall, absorbing the blows, then made it surge forward. Jessup quickly retreated through the now open doorway, saying “Man! Thank you master for not clos’in doors on ya way out!”. Gargan simply leapt forward, reaching the doorway in 2 seconds. Jessup was ten seconds away but thinking ahead. He fired another series of yellow shots. This time, when the wall absorbed the blows, it was forced to send it to the side and cross the threshold. Unlike before though, it could put a lot more power into its sprint. Even so, Jessup was equally fast, and so was now twenty seconds ahead. Another firing of yellow shots delayed it by six seconds, meaning it had to waste time. “Calculating… clever. Escape may be inevitable…. If I was a mere phantasmal beast. Unleashing Prototype Reality Marble; Cruel Winter’s Day” it declared. 

 

Rin

 

Rin and Shirou exited the Smart Car a few blocks down. This was done in case the boy had brought back up… whether in the form of servants of the non-human, or his own friends. As they approached, they saw them. Two people hanging out near an SUV. One wore a lot of white clothing, while the other looked like someone trying to be edgy, but gave up and just wanted a unique look. Shirou looked at her, asking “How are we going forward?”. “Hypnotism. Give me a few seconds… if they get aggressive, knock them out only please” she replied, to which Shirou stated “Of course. I don’t kill people if I don’t have to”. As they approached, the unique-looking one turned to the other from the driver seat. She couldn’t hear what he said, but looking up at them, the white one frowned and stared at them with an angry look. She sighed internally. Punks. The most difficult type to deal with, next to the pompous rich rooster types. Approaching, she asked “Hello there. Is this Warehouse Block J?”. The white one simply asked “Maybe… why? Look’in for something?”. Nodding, she stated “Yeah, my package hasn’t been delivered yet. Been waiting a week already. Decided to come down and pick it up in person… same story with you?”. She was already working her magic, lacing her words with magic. “I see… we’re a bit different. Gett’in paid to do that for someone too busy to bother themselves” the unique one said, looking away “Yeah though. This is that block… What warehouse if we may ask? We can ask our guy to just pick it up on the way back”. “3” she answered “Warehouse 3”. “Awww, damn. Not ours… too bad. We’re in one” the unique one answered. “Ah. Thank you. Excuse me then… come on Emiya-kun” she replied, turning to leave and walking a few steps. 

 

As she was walking by the window, the white one suddenly said alarmed “Wait a second… didn’t they go to Warehouse 2?”. Eyes widening a bit for a second, she turned and looked at him, then the Unique one who looked at her very skeptically. She then realized something. He was wearing headphones. “Huh?” the unique one grunted, saying “Wait, why’re you thinking that?” and bent out the window, looking at the white one who replied “They said the shipment for the Gourmaden was in Warehouse 2… and they have been gone for a while. We can’t ask them to go take a look?”. Turning fully now, she looked between them, slightly confused. How did the unique one hear them both? After some hesitation the unique one said “Ah… that’s what’s go’in on. Damn. Didn’t think we’d run into one a’ you again”. “Huh? Lunch what are you-” the white one began when the one apparently called Lunch yelled “Six, wake up! She’s like Carol J! She’s gotta be us’in magic or something!”. Eyes widening, Six looked right at her, then furrowed his brow and said “Shit!” before reaching into the van. “Shirou!” Rin yelled, jumping back and reaching into her pocket. She recognized that motion. He was going for a weapon. She had a few gems but none non-lethal… except one. She only had one though and she was saving it for the boy. Shirou rushed forward, grabbing Six and pulling him back. With a quick neck chop, Six slumped to the ground. “Shit! Six!” Lunch yelled as he held his hands up “Dammit, dammit, dammit! I surrender!”. Rin smiled a bit, sighing in relief, saying “Good… don’t worry. I don’t want to hurt you… but I do need to know everything you know. It’ll make erasing it easier”. Lunch growled, saying “Sorry Lady. Ain’t happening… too deep to forget”. Frowning, she asked “Deep… hmmm… that’s what he said too…”. She thought for several minutes before sighing and said “Fine. We’ll let you go for now. When we come back with your friend there, you’re going to drive us and we’re having a nice, long chat. I might erase your memories… but do take comfort in this, I don’t seek your lives”. Lunch, clearly distrustful, replied “Sure, sure… just let us live and we’re cool”. Nodding, she looked at Shirou and said “Let’s go… oh but make sure he’s fine”. Shirou nodded, picking up Six and putting him in the SUV, saying “Done. He’s just going to sleep for a few hours”. 

 

However, things went from bad to worse suddenly. Rin immediately sensed a large amount of mana emanating from below them. Further, when she saw the second warehouse was covered in ice, she paled. “Shirou!” she yelled, running there now. Shirou ran with her, not projecting yet. As soon as they got out of sight, Shirou projected Kanshou and Bakuya. The moment she reached the ice, she put a hand on it and gasped. “Shirou! This ice is magical! It's sucking the mana from anything living! It failed with me though!” she informed him. “Dammit… that sounds like…” Shirou began, then turned saying “We need to warn them….”. Nodding, she dropped a gem on the ground, saying “Hurry inside and save the kid. If this has happened, he’s already engaged an enemy. I’ll set up a bounded field”. Nodding, Shirou rushed to the front. Heading for the other corner, she dropped another gem. She repeated this twice, then repeated the spell incantation she remembered. Instantly, each flashed and for a second walls reaching up to ten meters could be seen. Only for a second however and then they were invisible. She knew it wouldn’t actually prevent physical entry but any human that didn’t have magic that touches it would be compelled to attend another errand, even making them invent one. She wanted to prevent those other two from entering, as the moment they touched the ice they’d die from all their mana being devoured. 

 

Gargan Zero

 

Gargan Zero stalked the halls. They had not changed… mostly. Certain ways were iced over, while others exposed. However, the ice bent to her will. It shifted to allow her passage. She examined the interior of the warehouse as she walked. Five intruders were detected, one just entering. If he hurried, he’d arrive at the four intruders in approximately ten minutes… if she interceded, with his level of magic, she would delay him by four minutes… just enough. She willed the ice around the new intruder to attack him. Meanwhile, she headed for the four intruders. They had to be killed first. They sought her destruction, which only meant that they sought the doctor, her master. In this frozen world that only she knew, they would not escape. The only place untouched, save a single icicle, was her master’s laboratory. She needed to ensure his safety after all. Resolved, she walked forward. For a single moment, she did feel pity. If only they had come a week earlier. Her master would not be here and she would not have existed and their lives would be spared. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

 

Cruel Winter’s Day



Spookies

 

It was bad. He could feel the ice try to invade his circuits. He wasn’t frozen, luckily, but if he had been a normal human, he’d have been frozen and drained in an instant. Nemissa looked at him, shivering. The cold was so bad, that their clothes had frosted over. They now had ten minutes before hypothermia would begin to kick in. They ran quickly but found many old paths blocked and new paths opened. As he ran, further and further, he knew deep down what was going on. Gargan Zero had changed the landscape to ease pursuit. He knew that she would catch up and that likely he couldn’t do anything to stop it. Once they reached the second floor elevator to the first floor of the basement, he said as they rode up “We’re not running anymore”. “Wh-what?” Jessup asked as Ella commented “Wh-why!? We can’t handle her! We barely got out alive and now there’s even more ice!”. He nodded, saying “I know. Do you think we’ll really escape though? It’s going to ambush us any second. We need a plan… I think an ambush will work”. Thinking, Nemissa stated “Let’s do it! I need to pay that bitch back for hurting you!”. Blinking, before he could speak the doors open and they all went into the hall. They then set up. Jessup by the ceiling, Ella behind him, and Nemissa on the left. He was on the right. He sighed as he waited. 

 

After five minute, rounding the corner, Gargan Zero landed. “Now!” He yelled, firing his gun. Nemissa followed suit. Without any motion, a small wall formed and then surged forward. “Dammit!” he yelled, standing “Focus fire! Jessup, you’re up!”. Nodding, Jessup rushed down a few seconds as he and Nemissa unloaded their clips, focusing fire to a specific spot in the middle. Some bullets went wide, but that was fine. As it neared, Jessup rocketed forward, slamming his fist into the ice block and it shattered. Backs turned, some heavy chunks slammed into them, knocking them over… but not killing them. Ella, shielded and so unhurt, healed him immediately. Nemissa applied healing to herself as Jessup then rushed at Gargan Zero, yelling “Predict this punk!” and threw a punch. It dodged, but barely, rocketing back to the left path all the way back 5 meters. Rushing forward, he put his back to the hall, aimed the gun around, and fired, yelling “We did it! We have her cornered!”. Nemissa replied “Hell yeah! Let’s give ‘em hell!”. “I can’t believe it!” Ella yelled “We actually did it!”. “Yeah! Just keep following through!” Jessup yelled, firing yellow shots at Gargan Zero. However, while a few bullets slammed into her, she raised a wall at the yellow shots. Making it surge forther, Jessup dodged into the opposite hallway of him. He sighed as he had to reload but Nemissa took his spot. Gargan stated “Calculating new circumstances… chances of success… slim... “. Smirking, he stated as Ella entered the hall and fired a lightning bolt “Let us go and maybe we’ll spare you!”. Gargan Zero generated a shield, then sent it flying as Ella dodged next to Jessup who fired yellow shots at the same time, Jessup saying “You underestimate us… the least we can do is offer surrender”. The shots, despite Gargans effort to dodge, still tagged her in the cheek and stomach, making her cry out and fall over, convulsing. He rounded the corner with Jessup and Ella, saying “Last chance… back out and once we get what we came for, we’re gone!”. Then, it melted. “H-huh?” Jessup said “Wait… what the hell? Did I kill it by accident?”. 

 

A voice echoed out from behind, saying “Answer; no. Revelation; I used my left arm and reality marble properties to generate clones. Thus; you defeated a copy”. Turning, they saw Gargan Zero holding out a familiar yellow ball as it said “Requesting; Die intruders. Firing; Aeon Rain” as the light ball dispersed and fired light shots at them. “Run!” Nemissa yelled, screaming as one sunk into her midsection, blood spraying out. “Nemissa!” He yelled, running down a hall. Ella followed but the bolts curved and only one slammed into the wall the others just grazing it. “Master! Don’t die!” Ella cried, flying into the path of the one meant for him and taking the hit from it. Hers curved and sliced through his side. He gritted his teeth in pain, turning back and yelling “Ella!” but froze. He could see a hole in her midsection, and she was twitching as blood spilled out. “Shit!” he yelled. He pulled out medicine and applied it. It did nothing however as Ella stammered out “H… human… m-medicine won’t… work on m-me… unless infused…”. “Dammit… can I do nothing…?” he asked. Ella shook her head, saying “Not… as you are… don’t cry tho… I… had fun like we promised… just live… master”. Gritting his teeth, he replied “Thanks… Ella. You really helped me out… I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more”. Then he heard it. 

 

“Note; There never would be anything you could do” Gargan’s voice emanated from behind him “Fact; you exist now in my domain. Defeat inevitable. Surrender, you will not feel pain”. He had kneeled to get closer to Ella and looked behind him, seeing the doll. Close up, he realized how well crafted it was. Whoever made her took great care in crafting her. Sighing, he said “Damn… another clone…?”. Nodding, Gargan Zero stated “Answer; clone made from liver. No other clones exist as right arm would be sacrificed. Even still, two was enough”. Smirking, he asked “Did you… guess we’d ambush you?”. Nodding, it answered “Answer; Only logical. Was surprised at choice location but proceeded as environment was optimal for an ambush. Query; Are you stalling?”. He laughed, standing and said “No… any help would just get slaughtered… So can I make a request? Could you just… scare them? They… they don’t need to die for my weakness”. Gargan Zero stared coldly at him as he turned, before nodding and saying “Answer; Conditions acceptable. Note; Gargan Zero will become hostile if too much damage is taken. Question; Acceptable?”. Nodding, he answered “I guess… man… if only I were a bit stronger… might’ve gotten away”. Gargan Zero simply raised a hand to his chest, smoothing it out. It was level with his heart. It hesitated though, saying “Note; Won’t be painless. However, this is the most painless I can make it”. He nodded, saying “Thanks I guess… at least you have some emotion in there”. Gargan hesitated more, and simply replied “Reply; Gargan Zero was made to be human. Master’s best work. Even if failed, I still hold emotions. Killing is never a light thing. Prepare yourself. It will hurt”. Before she could though, it suddenly turned, forming a shield of ice. It blocked something when suddenly Gargan dodged to the side, parrying the blow a second strike attempted to stab her. 

 

Before him, a redhead boy stood holding a twin pair of beautiful short swords. Before he could reply, the man yelled “Quickly, retreat. I took care of the other but she might have more. Hurry! Take your friend!” and backed up. Clinging onto the man's shoulder was Ella, who just weakly waved. He took her into his hands, then into one, and pulled out the COMP. “Hey… how is it in here?”. Ella stared, but smiled and said “I… technically time isn’t frozen… I'm aware… but my body is… impermeable… so I’ll survive longer…”. Nodding, he put her to the screen and said “Then get in. Then let’s get you to Nemissa… at the very least… we can try to keep you alive”. Smiling, Ella stated “You… you’re very kind, aren’t you…?”. Before he could answer, Ella dematerialized and the particles flowed into the COMP. He looked up as the boy smashed apart an ice block sent at him with a large looking sword and said “Thanks! We’ll circle around and pincer her!” before running. “Dammit, kid don’t even-” but stopped as he turned back and stabbed another ice block into pieces, grumbling “Dammit, can’t get a word in”. “You arrived here too fast” Gargan Zero stated, huffing “Explain self!”. 

 

He rushed to Nemissa. It wasn’t hard but he did anyway. She was currently healing her own wound and said “I should have some juice left… just wanna make sure this won’t bleed more”. Nodding, he stated “Good… I’d feel bad if she died like this”. Nemissa stared for a few moments then laughed, smiling “Man… you’re too nice for this kinda shit…”. Blinking, Nemissa stated before he could ask “How’s Gargan Zero…? Did he kill it?”. Shaking his head, he stated “No… he’s fighting now I think. I planned on pincer attacking her”. “Don’t” she stated “I what I’d like to say… but I want to get that bitch back too. So make it count” and offered her ammo. Nodding, Jessup rounded the corner, saying “Man boss… that was rough… glad you’re alive though”. He turned, and answered “You fine?”. “Yeah” Jessup answered “I used the ‘ol ‘back to a wall, then duck’ trick”. “Good” he said “Get ready to move… as soon as I call back Ella for healing, we move”. Jessup nodded as Nemissa said “Done. Summon her”. He opened his COMP and Ella materialized. Scooping Ella up, Nemissa began to channel her healing power into the small pixie, saying “Got you… don’t worry. You’ll live now. Sanagi… go end this”. He nodded and looked at Jessup before they left, rounding the corner. Ella, frowning, said “I… hate being weak…”. 

 

He peeked around the corner. The redhead was currently engaged in a furious fight with Gargan Zero. She was summoning and dispatching ice shields in rapid succession as the redhead slashed, threw, and summoned more blades furiously. The arms were practically blurs as they moved. He could see the magic on the redhead however. Like a circuit board, they criss-crossed all over his body and were most prominent on his arms and legs. Some went up to his face. He aimed his gun, saying quietly to Jessup “Rush her… then retreat”. Nodding, Jessup then rocketed forward, fist cocked back. Gargan suddenly leapt back and sent Jessup flying away. He however fired anyway. He had noticed something strange. Gargan Zero always seemed to know where they were. Despite hiding behind objects or being far away, Gargan had been able to track them down efficiently and even set up a counter ambush. He guessed it was a detection ability. However, it worked against her it seemed. She seemed to keep missing that they had ranged attacks. So, despite her retaliation, it left her vulnerable. He fired at Gargan. He didn’t stop. Bullet after bullet sank into her. Each hit made her slip and almost not parry. Then it happened. One bullet sank into the middle of her back and her arm went wild with a block. The redhead capitalized and with a vicious swing cut deep through her. “GAH!” he heard Gargan Zero cry out, falling backwards. With a quick motion, the redhead severed the right arm of Gargan Zero. He hesitated as blood spilled out and then almost threw up as he saw it. Bone and wires. 

 

Shirou

 

He panted hard, standing over… he didn’t know what. It felt like a servant. It should have been a servant, since it generated what felt like a reality marble… However, he stared at the arm. He almost puked at the sight of blood, bone, and wires. It was like some mad frankenstein experiment. “What… are you…?” he asked. “A-a-answer… Gargan… Z-zero is… G-gargan Zero”. He frowned… it had a name. That made things complicated… maybe. “Were you named or did you choose that name?”. Gargan responded “G-gargan Zero was… was named by master”. Gritting his teeth, he stated “Well my question remains. What are you? A servant?”. Gargan shook its head, saying “I… I d-do… not know…. I was… c-created… by m-master”. “Who is your master?” he asked. It chose to be silent. “Answer me. Who made you?”. It shook its head. Groaning… he took a step away, asking “Fine… are you going to be a problem?”. Gargan looked at him and considered… then said “I… I must d-defend master… I w-will not allow him… t-to be harmed… even if I die…”. Frowning deeply, he stated “I don’t want to kill you but I can’t let that boy or his friend die… so either you let us go or…. Or both you and your master die”. Gargan Zero glared at him. Angrily. He hated this. He thought it a servant at first and still thought it was somewhat related to one… but it was clearly a creature of flesh and blood. Whatever its master had done was magical. Then it said “G-gargan… Gargan Zero will not release i-it’s… marble… b-but it cannot stop you. I-if you h-hurt master… I w-will not rest”. He nodded, then looked at the kid and dematerialized his swords. “Good work” he stated, approaching “C’mon. Let’s go get your friends and leave”. The kid, putting his gun away, said “No problem… just lemme grab something. I ain’t leaving without what I bothered coming here for”. 

 

He groaned and said “You almost died… is it really that important?”. Nodding, the kid replied “I’m... in a situation. If I don’t get it, I lose the only thing protecting me. So I gotta get it or I’m dead. Still gonna insist that I just leave?”. He sighed, then said “Fine… lemme come with though. Just in case it’s got any more tricks”. The kid nodded, then looked at… he stopped. He then smelled it. The bee creature was no familiar. It was a full on phantasmal beast. As the kid looked back, they hesitated too. He asked quietly “Kid… do you realize what you’re talking to…?”. The kid nodded, saying “Yeah… a demon named Jessup. We’ve got a contract if that’s what you’re worried about”. That made him hesitate more before it spoke and said “Yeah. I know a mage like you prolly is hav’in a hard time grasp’in but I’m a real deal… and it’s a real contract. I break it, whatever he gave me goes back ta him, so I ain’t keen on break’in it”. That sealed it. That sounded insanely similar to the relationship between servant and master. “Kid… we’re talking after this. C’mon” and walked ahead. He tried to bury his feelings on the matter. However, he couldn’t hide one fear he had. That the holy grail was somehow involved. 

 

Rin

 

She walked around a corner the same time she saw Shirou do so. Ahead of him was the person she was searching for. Before she could speak though she turned around a corner. She frowned but noticed Shirou’s look. It was rather focused and confirmed something was up when he simply shook his head. Approaching, she asked “What’s going on?”. “I beat the enemy… it's… it’s really strange. I’d say go look but that could be a mistake… I still don’t understand it” Shirou stated as he then looked at the kid. She did too and froze. She stared at the kid, talking to the punk-looking non-human, and then to the two phantasmal beasts next to them. The bee creature was definitely a phantasmal beast, though its power was weak enough that she could defeat it on her own… however, while even weaker she stared at the creature in the non-humans hands. A pixie. She was staring at a pixie, a fairy of legend. Normally, they couldn’t be seen yet here one laid. The scar on its stomach implied grievous injury from a previous fight… or she would assume such, had she not seen the trace amounts of healing spell. She finally asked “Is… is that a… real pixie?”. The pixie looked at her, a haggard look in her eyes that at first were blank, then filled with insult as it said “I… am real thank you…!”. “How is she?” the kid asked, holding a hand out. The girl took it and stood as the kid pulled her up, and said “Fine. She won’t die at least… but I’m tapped. Not using magic for a while”. She frowned and asked “Did you just say… ‘magic’?”. 

 

Looking at her, the girl answered “Yeah. Got a problem? Who are you anyway? You reek of the stuff”. Feeling anger well up, she responded angrily “My magecraft doesn’t ‘reek’! I’ve used it for years around the most sensitive nose of magic society and he’s never complained!”. Curling up her nose and retching, the girl stated “Well then he’s dense because man it stinks”. Before the words could sink in, Shirou asked “What are your names? My name is Emiya Shirou… this is Tohsaka Rin”. Looking at him, she gritted her teeth and was about to chew him out as the kid responded “Ah… not smart to use names here so just call me Sanagi and her Nemissa. We can share names later… by the way, thanks for the help back there. We were…. Not gonna lie, about to die”. The girl seemingly simmered, saying “Yeah… thanks... that Gargan Zero… was strong”. Nodding, she looked at Shirou and asked “By the way, Emiya-kun, why is the marble still intact?”. Shirou sighed, saying “I left her alive… she agreed to no longer interfere so long as we leave her master alive. However, due to her contract she cannot disengage the marble until we leave”. Frowning deeply, she was about to respond as the kid said “Can’t blame you… I mean… even if not entirely human it bled like one… I just wonder what sick, twisted mind made someone like that”. Freezing, she stopped. Wait, bled? Shirou said directly to her “I’ll explain later… for now let’s find what they came for and leave”. She hesitated but nodded in agreement, saying “Alright… you two, what was it you came for?”. “An ‘artificial lifeform based on silicon’ from an ‘eizenberg family’ as he described it” Sanagi explained “We intended to defeat that de… person because the ice was too thick to break and we couldn’t really get anywhere… but with Emiya here, we can now”. 

 

Nodding, she replied “Alright… give me a moment” and expanded her senses. She focused in on the large source of prana around the corner and then tracked the link it had. If it functioned like a servant, that meant it needed prana from its master… and as she thought, it did. From there she traced it up a floor. She had simply wanted a reference point for scanning the reality marble, but found a large source of prana right next to the master. Further, it wasn’t just a mass, it was generating and expending more. “Found it I think” she stated “It’s with its master… c’mon. We’ll go take it” and began to walk away. Sanagi nodded, then looked at the pixie and asked “You want to rest in the COMP?”. “Nah master… I'm fine now. I need to be out to heal if you need it” the pixie answered. She shivered. What kind of kid was he to command phantasmal beasts so casually? She wondered if she even realized how deep he was in the magical world… or the danger that came with it? 

 

Spookies

 

He was unnerved. The two before him talked casually about breaking into the hiding place of Gargan Zero’s master. Further, he knew Emiya was very physically adept… in addition, Tohsaka located what he was ready to scour the entire warehouse for. Ella and Jessup followed behind him on either side, both somewhat nervous. Nemissa also looked perturbed but had said nothing. He knew why though; she was without magic. She needed time to recharge or she risked killing Hitomi, which they silently agreed was bad. However, this left them vulnerable to the two strangers. As grateful as he was, he found the timing… odd. He was also concerned. He got no word from Lunch about them, leading him to wonder what happened to them. He hoped his worries were wrong, which he had because Emiya seemed reluctant to kill humans or anything that might’ve been human-adjacent. After all, he had saved him when he could’ve stood back and let Gargan Zero end him. Soon, they were at the door. A 4-inch thick wall of ice blocked them from entering. “Huh… pretty thick…. Recently infused with mana” Tohsaka stated, looking at Emiya “Think you can handle it?”. Nodding, Emiya stated “Yeah… gonna need to pull out an old sword though. Everyone, back up!”. He did so and his eyes widened. Hand outstretched, Emiya chanted “I am the bone of my sword” and before his eyes a sword materialized. A thick slab of stone with a carved in handle on one end appeared and the blade edge had jagged, carved obsidian. Pulling it back, those same lines appearing, Emiya grunted and stabbed into the wall with ferocity and strength he had yet to see. He literally was a blur for a full second during it. The sword sank quickly into the ice, shattering the entire barrier and even some from the walls around it. The sword shattered into blue particles as Emiya said “There we go. Path’s clear” and then made the two beautiful swords he saw him wield the first time appear as he said “Behind me… dunno what we’re walking into” and then he approached the door, it opened immediately. He followed behind. 

 

The laboratory was quite impressive. In the center was a massive test tube. Inside was… a lump of some kind. Handling the computer attached was a man with a bright red, large nose wearing a lab coat. The man turned wildly, yelling “Who dares disturb the great Doctor Trill!?”. Tohsaka groaned, saying “Another non-mage…? Whatever, I’m tired of this. Look, you have something that this kid is looking for. Just give it and we’ll leave”. Frowning deeply, Trill immediately yelled “You dare interrupt me over some trifling matter!? You dare insult me so much!? Who the hell are you people to-” and then stopped when gazing at him. Raising an eyebrow, he asked “What? You know me somehow…?”. “No… not you… umm… by chance… are you… a summoner?” the doctor asked. Emiya and Tohsaka tilted their heads, muttering “What…?” as he thought for a few moments, then realized something and responded “Y-yes. I am. I have a… COMP don’t I?”. Growling, the doctor yelled “Stupid, immature, cocksure brat! How dare you appear before me after what your kind has done to me!”. Then, looking afraid for a second, the doctor stated “Y-you said you came for something! What!?”. “A package sent by the Eizenbergs” he started when Tohsaka corrected him, saying “Einzbern. Einzbern family” and he continued “Einzbern family. It belongs to the Gourmaden”. 

 

The look of fear returned, then disappeared as the doctor said “Dammit… I’d resist but with two mages and you… f-fine! Take it and go! I know what getting involved with your lot does! Just leave me be!”. He then walked to a separate tube on a counter and pressed a button, lowering the glass. Then, braces opened and revealed something inside. Pulling it out, he offered a stone statue to him and said “Here it is. I stole it from an unmarked crate… dammit, if I’d known I’d never touch the damn thing!”. He took it and said “Thank you. We’ll be on our way”. As he started to leave, the doctor muttered “What the hell happened? Gargan Zero was supposed to be guarding this place… dammit if they killed her… it’ll be weeks to make a new one…”. He looked to the two that accompanied them and saw Tohsaka staring at what he held. She looked away but he knew right then. She was tempted to steal it. He looked at Nemissa who glanced at him. He simply nodded and continued. He knew they needed to find a way to break away and run. 

 

Rin

 

She frowned deeply. As they began to leave, she realized her methodology was backwards. The kid, called Sanagi, clearly contracted with Phantasmal Beasts. Even if weak, that showed there was more to him than met the eye. Further, that magus was very clearly terrified of him, even if the kid showed signs of being an amateur. Enough that in light of that he gave up quickly. Further, she recognized blasphemy when she saw it. The man was messing with dangerous research. That lump was definitely the beginnings of a homunculus but she sensed the mana of a phantasmal beast inside. Further, she almost thought she sensed the same presence as a servant from it. Based on the evidence, he seemed to be literally crafting demi-servants by grafting phantasmal beast mana into the beginning stages of a homunculus. The fact it seemed to have worked was unnerving. However, more unnerving was Sanagi’s magic circuits. Despite seemingly being a civilian she couldn’t mistake the presence of magic circuits. She could sense that they were active. At best, he never knew about them until recently and so wouldn’t be killed. At worst… he survived some sort of trauma that gave him magic circuits. The latter, depending on the trauma, could be horrifying or good. If he simply developed them on the spot, which was certainly traumatic and she should take a look for damage, simply meant that it was a consequence of something else and that would be the clocktower's target. On the other hand, if they simply developed randomly… they’d definitely capture him and try to dissect him. She sighed deeply however… that wasn’t the worst one. 

 

The one calling itself Nemissa was the real enigma. She had first, from a distance, guessed Nemissa was non-human. However, now she had a new assumption based on prolonged exposure and being able to calmly analyze her. The body was certainly human. Maybe possessed, but human. Further, she sensed two active mana sources mingling, which meant the original was active, if suppressed. However… the feel of the mana. It was not human. However, it was wholly different from anything she had felt. Even phantasmal beasts, familiars, other magi, dead apostles, whatever victor was, even the last remaining true ancestor that she passed briefly… none of them felt like what Nemissa felt like. Everytime she expanded her senses to analyze Nemissa further, Nemissa glanced directly at her in response and the mana inside recoiled. As if they were the same. If she didn’t know any better, she would say that Nemissa was in fact an alien entity that was also magical. It wouldn’t be totally far-fetched. Mystery was the source of magic, and a very common, unsolved myth were aliens. Even if they were considered ‘Science-fiction’. 

 

As they left, she stated “Finally… we’re out” and sighed. Turning to them, she watched as they went to duffel bags… and started stripping. “E… eh?” she stammered. She felt her face flush until she realized they wore clothes underneath. She sighed and said “Ah… you’re stashing your gear away… right”. “Yeah” Sanagi said “These are illegal… we’d go to jail if caught. Thankfully, we aren’t going far. C’mon, my friends are around the corner… right?”. Nemissa concentrated but said “Should be… I sense them”. The pixie stated “We should go back in now master... thanks… for saving me. I’m glad”. The bee creature looked at them and said “Thanks for the save… nearly bit the dust. I’m Jessup, that’s Ella. Hope… well I don’t hope we meet again but if we do I hope it's cordial” and then turned into blue particles, which drifted to the strange device Sanagi pulled out. Ella looked at her and said “It was nice to meet you rude lady. See you around!” and did the same. The folded out parts then folded in, making it look like a gun and Sanagi holstered it, turning to her and saying “So. We need to talk”. She nodded, saying “Yes… I’m… still not sure how to approach this”. Sanagi nodded, replying “Same here… see… we have… a new problem”. Raising an eyebrow, she asked “What?”. Sanagi shuffled in place, saying “I am appreciative, don’t get me wrong… but… you want this huh?” gesturing to the lifeform. She shook her head, about to say no when his face became stern and he stated in a stronger tone “I saw you look’in. Star’in… with that greed a lotta guys make when they find a mark. So… sorry, but I’m part’in ways. Nemissa, been long enough?”. Nemissa nodded, saying “I don’t got much… but I can make do with this… we run’in?”. “Hey… c’mon now. We just wanna talk. Don’t cut and run” Emiya said, worried “We just want to help”. Sanagi chuckled, saying “I don’t doubt that, Emiya… but I can’t be sure of your partner. Sorry, but we’re saying goodbye”. Before anyone could move however, a voice rang out from the direction of warehouse one, saying “C’mon now… no need to flee yet. I haven’t even gotten to introduce myself”. They all turned to the newcomer. 

 

Spookies

 

I cursed my luck. We were in the perfect position too. We were 3 meters away from Emiya and 6 meters away from Tohsaka. Gunfire would pin her down while Nemissa’s ice magic could hopefully make Emiya duck for cover. They could escape down the alley and head for the SUV. Now that he confirmed he had contact with Lunch, who’s messages came in and he replied to, the SUV could be ready to bolt. No way they were keeping pace with it. Then the worst happened. Another person cut off their escape… almost. He was 3 meters from the alley. If he summoned Ella and Jessup, maybe he could keep him in check… However, he didn’t and trying it would be a gamble. It’d provoke Emiya and Tohsaka and the newcomer might be wise to it, if he was a summoner. If he was honest, he was certain the red-haired man dressed up in a biker outfit was one. The man took a puff of his cigarette before throwing it on the ground and stomping on it, saying “I came alllll this way to meet a hacker… and I found four suspicious individuals…. Two of which I’m pretty confident are persona users. Question is, whicha you is a user?”. He raised an eyebrow. Persona…? What did that mean? Was it another form of magic? Before he could respond, his eyes widened as suddenly a being appeared from behind him. The temperature rose instantly by ten degrees just from its presence. He saw the ice, which resisted fire before, become wet from melting. The man smirked, saying “I’d like ta be cordial. Talk this out… but in my line a’ work, cultists don’t talk… I hate to do this to a kid, but sorry. He ain’t comin back. Clear? So tell me… what are the plans to try to bring him back this time”. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

 

Persona!



Rin

 

She hated Amami City. At first, it sort of grew on her. How convenient everything was. The ‘smartphones’ were excellently made and worked as she expected… as if made for her. The computer too was simplistic and explained things accurately. The cars were useful and apparently could be voice activated. Everything, from start to finish, had been smooth and seamless. However, today, her third day into her visit, it decided to reveal its real self. Strange impossibility after strange impossibility revealed itself and now, more than ever, she stared at something truly impossible. She stared as someone casually used Heaven’s Feel right before her eyes. Floating behind the biker man was a red figure with a red suit as though it were a businessman. However, the heat it generated gave away its intense strength. Before she could say anything, the man stated “Name’s Tatsuya Suou. Now, talk and myself doesn’t gotta get violent. Capiche?”. Sanagi asked then “What do you wanna know?”. Suou smiled, saying “Ah! A cultist that actually speaks first! Sweet! I lucked out and got the talkative one! So… tell me. What’s his plan ta destroy humanity this time?”. Confusion and terror swept over her. “Destroy humanity? Whos’ crazy enough to seek that!?” she cried out. “Yeah, what the hell!? Why the hell would we help someone seeking that?” Nemissa asked. Suou looked confused for a second, frowning as he asked “Seriously? Ya don’t know? Ya smell jus’ like ‘im though… hmmm… no. You kinda, but you got demons… she… she smells exactly like ‘im… ohhhh I get it”. The mans smile deepened into almost malevolence as Suou then said “Well, well, well Nyarly… you really did it. You slipped back inta our reality without him notic’in… too bad ya ran inta me, huh?”. Nemissa blinked, staring as she asked “Huh? The hell are you talking about?”. Suou laughed, saying “Ah… but you can’t admit it here can you? No… gotta keep up appearances for your lackeys. No matter… I’ll just destroy you here and be done with it ”. 

 

She threw a few gems that immediately formed a barrier as the figure held a hand out and blue fire erupted from it. It had tried to attack Nemissa. “Run!” she yelled “We can’t beat that thing!”. Emiya however ignored her and ran forward as the barrier held up for all of five seconds then cracked and shattered. He chanted as he flew “I am the bone of my sword… Rho Aias!” and held his hand out in front of the flames. A flower-shaped shield immediately formed and hardened, Surprising to her, the shield, while cracking, held up the assault. “Huh” the man said, shocked “You used magic without a persona? Interest’in… maybe y'all are cultists”. “We aren’t cultists, you idiot!” she yelled, pulling out more gems “Emiya! Retreat! You know we can’t-” but saw Emiya grab Nemissa and run. “I know!” He yelled “He’s after her though! Remove her and he’ll chase!”. Suou, for his part, whistled. “Smart… he’s right though. Damn… haven’t had to run like this” he stated, doing a few stretches. Sanagi then ran for the alley, to which Suou simply glanced at and said “.... yeah. That’s alright. I got your scent”. She realized something in that moment. Suou was smelling their prana. He was sniffing them out, similar to how Shirou did. He was a magus too. “One thing after another” she muttered. She then decided to give chase. She knew Emiya could handle himself, but the kid she couldn’t let get away. She needed to get it into his head the danger he was in. How dangerous phantasmal beasts really were. She heard Suou mutter “Hmmmm… yeah, she can go too. I need ta focus… can’t let ‘im get away”. Then she felt wind rush by her and felt a force slam into her back, propelling her several meters. “What!?” she cried out, looking behind her. The man's legs were overlapped by the figures and he was suddenly running at high speeds. He was a literal blur as he sped after Emiya. Hesitating, she whispered “Emiya… please… be careful” and took off after the kid. 

 

Arata

 

“Name’s Tatsuya Suou. Now, talk and myself doesn’t gotta get violent. Capiche?” the man, who introduced himself as Tatsuya Suou, said to them as a group. He was actually fairly afraid. The ice Gargan Zero generated was practically unmeltable. Sure, you could shatter with enough force apparently, but he hadn’t seen fire work. Even after ten minutes, his lighter didn’t even make a drop of water condensate. The only liquid was produced by his own body. Now, the heat generated by that figure behind him melted the ice, even if slowly. “What do you wanna know?” he asked. He knew the fight would be hard, even at their best and with Tohsaka and Emiya’s support. With conditions as they were, he was certain they’d lose the fight, if they didn’t die outright. Talking it out was the best route to surviving. The man however smiled big and held his arms out, after greeting a group of people and said “Ah! A cultist that actually speaks first! Sweet! I lucked out and got the talkative one! So… tell me. What’s his plan ta destroy humanity this time?”. He stared at the man, feeling that the conversation had suddenly changed trajectory. Destroy humanity? Why the hell did this stranger think he held any kind of desire like that? Was he crazy? It was possible… he didn’t know how someone develops powers. Maybe this man simply went crazy and gained the power to summon a well-dressed heat person? Before he could speak however, Tohsaka suddenly yelled “Destroy humanity? Whos’ crazy enough to seek that!?”. “Yeah, what the hell!? Why the hell would we help someone seeking that?” Nemissa asked. Suou looked visibly confused as he muttered “Seriously? Ya don’t know? Ya smell jus’ like ‘im though… hmmm… no. You kinda, but you got demons… she… she smells exactly like ‘im… ohhhh I get it”. Suou smirked and he followed his eyes and saw Nemissa. He realized quickly what that implied as Suou said “Well, well, well Nyarly… you really did it. You slipped back inta our reality without him notic’in… too bad ya ran inta me, huh?”. Rightfully confused, Nemissa responded “Huh? The hell are you talking about?”. He turned back to Suou, partially angry and mostly scared out of his mind when the man laughed uproariously and said as if it was the simplest thing ever “Ah… but you can’t admit it here can you? No… gotta keep up appearances for your lackeys. No matter… I’ll just destroy you here and be done with it ”. His hand went for his COMP when suddenly a barrier appeared in front of Nemissa at the same time that the figure raised its hand and fired a beam of pure, blue, fire. 

 

At the same time, he heard Rin yell “Run! We can’t beat that thing!”. He agreed but he doubted they could outrun him… when suddenly, he heard Emiya chant “I am the bone of my sword… Rho Aias!” and skid to a stop in front of Nemissa. A pink, flower-shaped barrier formed right when the barrier cracked and broke, replacing it and blocking the beam. While it ended up being cracked in the end, it stood strong to his shock. Then, Suou muttered “Huh. You used magic without a persona? Interest’in… maybe y'all are cultists”. Before he could finish pulling out his COMP, he heard Tohsaka suddenly yell “We aren’t cultists you idiot! Emiya, retreat! You know we can’t-” but was cut off as he saw Emiya hook his arm around Nemissa’s midsection and take off, those blue lines flowing down his legs as he yelled “I know! He’s after her though! Remove her and he’ll give chase!” and took off like a bullet towards warehouse 3. He watched Emiya as he heard the man mutter after whistling “Smart… he’s right though. Damn… haven’t run like this in a while” before starting to stretch his legs, the figure vanishing. Gritting his teeth, he realized this was the best time. The alley was only ten meters away. The man was three meters from that… and his target was Nemissa. He had no better opportunity than now. He could easily summon Ella and Jessup and set up an ambush with Lunch and Six… Like always, he doubted this man could handle them plus Emiya and Nemissa, as long as she didn’t resist. Filled with confidence, he took off. He cleared it in two minutes and turned around the corner, activating his COMP. He heard Tatsuya mutter “.... yeah. That’s alright. I got your scent”. He disregarded it though, as there was no way he could follow it through Amami City and its millions of civilians. 

 

Shirou

 

Shirou listened. The man was clearly a threat with that flagrant display of Heaven’s Feel. The smell the figure gave off was identical to the man who introduced himself as Tatsuya Suou. He also saw the look in Tatusya’s eyes. They were similar to Sasaki’s eyes all those years ago. He knew that talking wouldn’t get them anywhere unless they convinced him they weren’t his target. Even then… once the man mentioned smells, he tensed. He realized that Tatsuya was using his method to detect magecraft. As such, he knew what was coming. He’d smell the phantasmal beasts and assume the worst. He already thought they sought the destruction of humanity and the moment he smelled the beasts on Sanagi, he knew he’d attack. Then, something strange happened. Suou’s eyes fell on Nemissa and he saw their nose curl up a few times, sniffing subtly. Then he saw the smile and gritted his teeth. What he said next chilled his blood “Well, well, well Nyarly… you really did it. You slipped back inta our reality without him notic’in… too bad ya ran inta me, huh?”. He looked at her and was about to ask what he was talking about when Nemissa responded “Huh? The hell are you talking about?”. He refocused as the man laughed loudly enough to ever so slightly echo, and responded “Ah… but you can’t admit it here can you? No… gotta keep up appearances for your lackeys. No matter… I’ll just destroy you here and be done with it ”. He saw Tohsaka toss a few gems and generate a barrier to block the attack that followed. 

 

In those precious seconds, he thrust forward, called upon the memory of that pink shield, and chanted  “I am the bone of my sword, Rho Ais!” before he rushed forward with reinforced legs and projected the legendary shield to defend Nemissa as Tohsaka broke in a few seconds. After a few more seconds of providing the shield as much prana as he could, the attack dissipated. His shield still floated there, despite being cracked. “Huh. You used magic without persona?” Tatsuya questioned “Interest’in… maybe y'all are cultists”. He quickly turned on his heel, looking Nemissa in the eye. He worded ‘sorry’ and bent low.  “We aren’t cultists you idiot! Emiya, retreat! You know we can’t-” he heard Tohsaka yell as he hooked his arm under Nemissa’s midsection. Before Nemissa could respond, he took off, reinforcing his legs just before, and yelled “I know! He’s after her though! Remove her and he’ll give chase!”. He headed for the wall past warehouse 3. It was exactly 20 meters tall, which was 5 meters under his highest high jump while reinforcing his legs the best he could. “H-hey!” Nemissa yelled at him as he reached the door into warehouse 3 in five seconds “P-put me down dammit! I didn’t say you could-”. He cut her off, saying “No. He’s going to kill you. We have to escape. We can’t take something like that unless you really do practice true magic”. Growling, Nemissa responded “I do use magic! Didn’t you see me heal-” but he cut her off, saying “Not magecraft. That was magecraft” and then jumped over the wall, continuing “True magic is magecraft that defies logic, science even. It is an impossibility that only magecraft can achieve… like traveling to parallel worlds”. Frowning, Nemissa looked away for his answer. He focused as he leapt off the wall, breaking the top off that he landed on and cleared all the way to the door of the third warehouse in Block I. 

 

Nemissa

 

“Name’s Tatsuya Suou. Now talk” the man introduced him, saying strongly as the figure radiated power “and myself doesn’t gotta get violent. Capiche?”. She glared at the man. She didn’t know why she felt such fear and anger at him. Well, the fear made sense to her. That thing generated enough power that the magic of Gargan Zero was dissipating. The ice was slowly becoming normal ice. However, the anger bothered her. She didn’t know why she felt angry at him. He hadn’t done anything to her beyond show up and be threatening, right? “What do you want to know?” she heard Sanagi asked. She chanced a glance to him to see how he held up. She could see him trembling but otherwise not making any hasty movements. Which was good. Better to not provoke the man. Looking back, Tatsuya said “Ah! A cultist that actually speaks first! Sweet! I lucked out and got the talkative one! So… tell me. What’s his plan ta destroy humanity this time?”. She felt taken aback. What was he talking about? What insanity did he just spew? Them, wanting to destroy humanity? Tohsaka yelled “Destroy humanity? Whos’ crazy enough to seek that!?”. She added “Yeah, what the hell! Why the hell would we help someone seeking that!?”. She saw his confused expression and wondered if maybe he had the wrong people. That would explain a lot. Sure, he could be crazy… but most powerful people she met weren’t. They were calculating and precise. “Seriously? Ya don’t know? Ya smell jus’ like ‘im though…” she heard him mutter “hmmmm… no. You kinda, but you got demons… she… she smells exactly like ‘im… ohhhh I get it”. She tensed up until she was like a statue. Their eyes met. His gaze was only on her as he said that. “Well, well, well Nyarly… you really did it. You slipped back inta our reality without him notic’in… too bad ya ran inta me, huh?” he said loudly to her, spreading his arms as if showing his brilliance to her. She only felt confusion and fear. Why did he think she was whoever was seeking humanity’s destruction? She loved humanity! They were wild and unpredictable and she loved it! They were so much fun, so why would she want to ruin that? “Huh? The hell are you talking about?” she asked, hoping to get an answer. Maybe she just looked similar. That could happen right? Maybe it was a possessing demon like her. The man smirk darkened however as he replied “Ahh…. but you can’t admit it here can you? No… gotta keep up appearances for your lackeys. No matter… I’ll just destroy you here and be done with it ”. 

 

She almost screamed. It moved its hand towards her. She felt its power well up in its hand. It was attacking, and with great power. Then a barrier suddenly appeared just as the beam of blue fire roared out. She sighed in relief as the barrier stopped the attack. “Run!” Tohsaka cried out “We can’t beat that thing!”. However, after only a few moments, the barrier cracked. Immediately after, it broke. All before she could even try to stand from her kneeling position. Then suddenly, she heard Emiya behind her say “Rho Aias!” and skid to a stop in front of her. In front of him, replacing the barrier, was a pink, flower-shaped barrier. Unlike Tohsaka’s, this one held up and withstood it. Even after, 10 seconds passing, the barrier stood, even if spider web cracked. “Huh” the man said, shocked “You used magic without a persona? Interest’in… maybe y'all are cultists”. She felt intense anger at that, being compared to a mere cultist. She knew she was better. She clearly didn’t have any dogmatic beliefs! She certainly didn’t want to destroy humanity! Yet, that was lost on him. He seemed wholly convinced she was this nemesis of his that wanted this. She heard Tohsaka say “We aren’t cultists, you idiot! Emiya! Retreat! You know we can’t-” and was cut off as suddenly, Emiya spun and looked her in the eye. He said something but she didn’t hear and then suddenly she was whisked away. “I know!” He yelled “He’s after her though! Remove her and he’ll chase!”. She didn’t hear anyone else's reaction. She just looked at him, and yelled ““H-hey! P-put me down dammit! I didn’t say you could-” when he responded “No. He’s going to kill you. We have to escape. We can’t take something like that unless you really do practice true magic”. True Magic…? Wasn’t what she was doing magic? She answered with an angry growl as she looked to see if Arata was alright “I do use magic! Didn’t you see me heal-” but was cut off as he responded again “Not magecraft. That was magecraft”. When Shirou jumped, she saw Arata turn the corner. She smiled, realizing that he was safe as she saw Tatsuya only spare a glance to Arata. “True magic is magecraft that defies logic, science even. It is an impossibility that only magecraft can achieve… like traveling to parallel worlds” Shirou explained as she looked at him, their eyes connecting. She felt a softness she didn’t expect… however she looked away to answer. She did not have the true magic he spoke of. At least, she didn’t think so. Science could make a ball of ice. Science could stitch wounds closed. She did both those things, even if highly accelerated. Shirou took off from the top, heading into the next warehouse block, clearly fleeing Tatsuya. 

 

Arata

 

“Ella! Jessup! Time to go to work!” He cried up, activating the Devil Summoning Program. Both flew out of the screen instantly, looking at him. “What can we do, master?” Ella asked. “Ella, I need you with me. Jessup, go down the warehouse blocks. Find and assist Shirou and Nemissa” he ordered, Ella nodding “The enemy is far stronger than Gargan Zero… so don’t do damage, just distract”. Jessup immediately took off, flying as fast as a high-speed drone. Probably not fast enough to catch up or keep pace, but he’d only be a few seconds behind. Ella looked down the hall behind them, asking “Hey… why is Tohsaka chasing us?”. “Shit!” he yelled, turning the corner “Stall her, Ella, she’s after the lifeform!”. Ella replied “Roger, roger!” and turned around, firing a lightning bolt. It slammed into Tohsaka’s head as she turned the corner herself, causing her to fall back yelling in pain. “Got her! Run master run!” Ella yelled, preparing another bolt. He kept running for the SUV in the distance. He sent a message through the COMP, saying ‘I’m coming! Get the SUV turned around!’. After a few seconds it suddenly drove into the warehouse and then positioned itself to drive out with a sharp 180 degree turn. The side opened as Lunch yelled out the side “Hurry!” and rushed to the front of the SUV. He heard Ella and Tohsaka fight as he leapt in, turning. He frowned as he saw Tohsaka walk up to Ella and press a gem into its front, which exploded sending Ella to the ground. Then he saw those lines cover Tohsaka’s legs as she began her sprint to them. “Drive, drive, drive!” he yelled “End of the warehouse blocks!”. Nodding, Lunch floored the gas pedal and the SUV lurched to a start and took off. He shut the side closed. However he saw Tohsaka do something from the window that he wished she didn’t. 

 

Instead of going right for them, she curved her path and headed for the wall separating the block from the road. Then she cleared it. She tossed something at their SUV and it suddenly slowed down. “Dammit! Why the hell’s it slow’in down!?” Lunch yelled. “Magic!” He responded “She’s a mage!”. “Dammit Tsukamoto, the hell you get into in there!?” Lunch yelled, slamming the wheel “We shooting?”. Then they heard a bang on the roof. “No… she’s not intending to kill us. She just wants me and this” he said, showing the lifeform. “The hell she gonna do with a fragg’in rock!?” Lunch yelled as suddenly the side door flew open. Tohsaka jumped in and stared right after, before yelling “What the hell!? A lightning bolt to my head!? Do you have any idea how dangerous that was!?”. He flinched away before reaching for his knife. Tohsaka grabbed his arm and gripped, making him drop it. “Enough!” she said strongly “I’m not here to hurt you. I’m not going to steal from you either. I know better than to steal from a True Ancestor”. Hesitating, he looked at her as Lunch yelled “Wait, I thought you said she was gonna steal it!?”. He hesitated and was going to speak when she said “He wasn’t entirely wrong. I was tempted… frankly, if that wasn’t intended for a True Ancestor, I would… but it is so I won’t. Simple as that” and then let go of him, sitting down, saying “Kid, when we’re done, we’re having a long, long talk on magic society. You need a crash course, dearly”. Lunch groaned, saying “I’m so done with this shit… Arata! What’s the play?”. He sighed deeply, but moved to the front and rolled the window down, letting Ella fly in and land on his shoulder. “Same. We’re gonna head to the last block… her friend will likely be there” he explained “Either he’ll divert to the road, where we can pick him up and take off, or he’ll be fighting with Nemissa against whoever the hell Tatsuya Suou is. Either way, we’re gonna help… the goal isn’t to win though it’s to escape. Tohsaka, will Emiya accept retreat?”. Tohsaka thought about it for a minute before responding “If I talk likely. Especially since Nemissa’s life is on the line”. Nodding, he said “You handle that then… once we get Nemissa in the SUV, we retreat”. “Gotcha Sanagi. Let’s do this… god I hope we don’t die” Lunch affirmed, just as they arrived. He frowned… he saw Emiya clear the wall with Nemissa still. However, right behind him was Tatsuya. He opened the SUV door, yelling “Get in! Ella, cover lightning!”. He checked his COMP to check on Jessup and saw he was fine. Lunch stated “Finally! Let’s punch it! Thanks for dropp’in the spell lady!”. Tohsaka did not respond.

 

Shirou

 

He dashed through the warehouse blocks, one by one. He looked behind him, grimacing. Tatsuya was in hot pursuit. He ran calculations in his head. He knew based on the distance they were before Tatsuya began his pursuit, he was ahead by around 50 meters. He landed on the third wall with a leap. Tatsuya had just leapt off the second wall. That meant he would gain on him by about 4 meters a second. He frowned that he had only 12 seconds to get to the end of the warehouses and turn to the road where he hoped Sanagi and their escape vehicle would be passing… However, based on the fact that he was just now landing on the fourth wall, leading into warehouse block E. He still had blocks D, C, B, and A to get through… he cleared each in 2 seconds. This meant he’d reach them with only 4 seconds to spare… which meant if they weren’t already there, he’d have to fight. He did not look forward to that. Worst case scenario, he would be forced to use his reality marble. Even then, he didn’t like his chances. Victory was very low. The figure was likely to simply melt his reality marble away. Plus, he didn’t want to reveal it to strangers. Especially potential non-magical strangers who could accidentally out him to the clock tower. 

 

Nemissa spoke up, saying “Drop me”. He looked at her as he landed on the sixth wall and then leapt off, saying “No”. “Drop me!” Nemissa demanded “I’m weighing you down. You could escape without me”. Shaking his head, he stated “No. I won’t abandon you… we can get out of this. So long as your friends are waiting… even then… I have a few tricks”. Frowning, Nemissa stated “Fine… if you die though, not my problem, okay?”. Nodding, he said “That’d be fine. So long as you lived… yeah. I don’t think I’d mind. Tohsaka might though… which reminds me” he said, landing on the last wall and jumping into it “Are you actually that Nyarly thing he mentioned? Do you really want to destroy humanity?”. Nemissa frowned, shaking her head, but said with a shaky voice “No. I don’t. Humanity is great… though... “ and fell silent. She was hiding something. The shaky voice and hesitation to finish her sentence indicated to him there was more to it. However, he didn’t care. If that was there, it meant that at least she was conflicted. That meant she might be reasoned with if she did desire it… if she didn’t, then it wasn’t a problem. He skidded to a stop at the corner, having opted to run, right as Tatsuya landed on the wall. “Yooo! Nice running! But I’m gonna catch up! Be ready Nyarlathotep!” Tatsuya shouted, leaping off as he ran. He heard the crash a second later indicating that he had landed. 

 

He realized that he was off a second. He had approximately 5 seconds to reach the road. Leaping while still 8 meters away, he heard Tatsuya yell “Wooooow! Gutsy! Will it pay off?” and heard the rush of flames… only for the beam to divert away as he heard ‘Jessup’ yell “Take that, punk!”. “D-dammit!” he heard Tatsuya yell. Looking at the scorch mark he frowned. It was pure slag… and glowed. He landed on the wall and heard something take off behind him. “Watch out!” he heard Jessup yell. He didn’t even look as he leapt for the moving SUV. “Hold on!” he yelled, flipping around so he’d take the impact. He saw Tatsuya, looking angry, land where he was and the figure about to grab his ankle. Nemissa suddenly extended a hand out and yelled “Back off!”. A ball of ice formed in her hand and shot out as the figure as its fingers, one by one, began to close. However, it impacted before it could finish though and it caused it to hesitate for a single second. That was enough for his foot to escape its grasp as Tatsuya shouted “NOOOOO! DAMMIT! I WON’T LET YOU ESCAPE, NYARLATHOTEP!”. They landed as the SUV turned sharply and took off. He quickly scrambled to the back, and threw open the back. Holding a hand out, he called out “I am the bone of my sword, Rho Aias!” and projected the flower shield, catching a final hail mary from Tatsuya. Instead of blue flame, the figure had fired a massive 6 meter diameter fireball that dissipated when it broke his shield. The metal was hot after being licked by the intense flames, but the small fires that broke out he quickly put out. Panting, he fell backwards. Eyes closed he felt someone brush his hair aside. Looking, he saw Tohsaka who simply muttered “Thank goodness… you’re alright…”. He smiled and said “Of course… just another crazy magus right?”. He didn’t miss the frown that comment produced and knew why… that was no magus. That was a full on magician. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

 

Magical Societies



Rin

 

“I am Rin Tohsaka… and I shouldn’t say this in front of humans, but I am a Magus. Thank you for agreeing to transit me to your base” she stated, giving a proper bow. Six looked at her, saying “Yeah… could use your info honestly if nothing else. So leader is will’in to give you honorary status”. Smiling, Emiya asked “What, are you a secret society?”. Lunch laughed loudly, saying “Nice one… not quite though. Try a secret hacker group”. Sanagi smirked, saying “Welcome to the spookies”. Rin contained her laughter. If it weren’t for Lunch’s grownup appearance, she’d swear they were all kids. She simply took a deep breath and asked “How deep in magic are you? I need an estimate. These two, I can abide but you two…”. Lunch looked right at her and said “I had a small naked man run at me to claw my face off and I watched a ninja rockabilly summon two as well as some other freaks…. And then I saw a red salaryman throw a fireball. You tell me”. Six piped up, saying “Doesn’t help that we’ve been reading these guys’ communications. We tapped their website and they talked quite openly about things… like ‘magecraft’ and ‘true magic’. It’s a bit weird but I get the feeling you can fill in some blanks”. Facepalming, Rin muttered “How stupid are these guys… they know not to blab on tappable communications…”. Sanagi just laughed at her distress, but more in a lighthearted way as he said “Well… if you aren’t Amami City born, it’s basically unhackable. The entire city is practically a closed network, with the only outside lines going through a specific firewall”. 

 

Before she could question more, Lunch stated “Not many outside know that. They just think everyone connects to multiple firewalls… but really it's one super one. That’s why ya gotta work from inside. Otherwise? No dice”. Emiya asked “I see… so he’s part of a group…”. Lunch and Six looked at each other before Six said “I… dunno about that”. “Hmmm? Why?” Rin asked. “Well… we asked leader to run a search of ‘Nyarlathotep’ into the site… no hits. So we’re think’in that guy is unrelated” Lunch explained “We’re still search’in the site. We did just recently uncover it”. Emiya hummed, then asked “So any other intel from there?”. Shaking his head, Lunch replied “Nada. We still gotta search more. We can do small ones like that but… for general info, gotta do it the old way. Read and scroll. Thankfully, that’s what Hachi is for”. Tohsaka looked at Sanagi and said “Now… I need honesty. When you made your first contract… What happened?”. All eyes went to her now full of suspicion. She expected that but it needed to be dealt with. She needed time to come up with a cover story and create evidence to support it. “Well… I don’t remember the middle but I remember the pain at the beginning and the exhaustion when I came too after passing out” Sanagi answered. Six muttered “Who could forget? You got sliced up… if Nemissa and Ella hadn't been there, you’da been dead”. Wincing, Tohsaka said “Good… that’s good”. Before anyone could respond, Emiya cut off their angry words, saying “It’s the most preferable outcome. It suggests that while not natural, something forced their development. If he spontaneously developed magic circuits….” but trailed off, not wanting to say. Nemissa’s face darkened as she explained “Clock tower would’ve captured you and experimented on you. With this though they’ll be far more interested in what made you develop magic circuits…. Which reminds me. How are you able to? That is something else I need to determine for the same reason… if it's you that’s capable, you’re in danger”. Six and Lunch were noticeably pale but Sanagi, after looking at Nemissa, stated “This” and pulled out that weird gun of his… that flipped out and revealed itself to be a portable computer. 

 

She growled internally. Computers again. “I… huh? How is that able to control phantasmal beasts?” she asked, very confused. “It’s a program called the Devil Summoning Program. Hachi looked it over and mentioned it basically did the heavy lifting of a contract” Sanagi explained “Though he admitted that he’d need a few days to really get it”. Frowning she looked at Shirou and asked “Think you can Visualize it? Maybe the machine itself is special. I can’t see how a computer could store purely magical beings”. Nodding, Shirou asked “May I touch it? Just for a moment”. Sanagi held it out and Shirou touched it, saying “Trace on” and closed his eyes. He began saying “I sense many complex and interlocking magic circuits… all arranged and patterned throughout the machine. Deep in the grip there is a single mass of prana constantly emitting it. Further, there is a link between this device and Sanagi where he is sending Prana into it… oh! There are two highly dense masses of Prana near the large one”. Blinking, she asked “What? Shirou, are you sure?”. Nodding, he said “Yeah… everything else… no, actually the circuitry in the motherboard are also magic circuits but sub-circuits… further, it seems the whole thing has a layer of Prana to it”. Rin shivered. This was really bad. Someone grafted magic circuits onto a machine. Further, based on their talk, there likely were multiple people with their own machines like this. Maybe they knew or maybe they didn’t but this would send Clock tower into fervor. It would be war. “We… this is really, really bad” Rin muttered. “How bad?” Lunch asked. “Clock tower… they won’t like this. They hate science as it is… this is not something they’ll allow to exist. If they discover it… I imagine they’ll seek to dismantle the entire city”. “Shit…” Six muttered “How bad would that kinda event be?”. Rin hesitated. She wasn’t sure. The full force of the Clock tower had never been brought to bear against something. However, she knew this would be it. A successful merging of science and magic? They’d likely also involve the church, who would send the burial agency… nothing good would come of it. 

 

“Really bad” she said “The church actually would get involved. Best case, the entire administrative staff of Amami City are killed and replaced and it becomes a strictly traditional japanese city… that also serves as a hunting ground for magus”. “Fuck!” Lunch yelled “If it’s not one thing!”. She couldn’t blame him for his reaction. After all, they were just humans… the only one who didn’t visibly react was… then it happened. To her shock Nemissa suddenly had brown hair and eyes and was crying. Sanagi asked “Hitomi…? You alright…?”. “I… I hate this… wh… why’d it happen to us…? We just wanted Amami City to be normal… that’s all…”. “What the…?” Tohsaka muttered as Sanagi hugged Hitomi, saying “Don’t worry… we’ll get through this. We aren’t alone. We have Tohsaka and Emiya. It’ll be fine”. Hitomi silently cried as Lunch stated “Yeah… forgot to mention. Nemissa ain’t alone in there. Hitomi is too… shocked you didn’t meet her yet. She fights with Nemissa like cats n’ dogs”. Wide-eyed, her eyes drifted to the crying Hitomi and she marveled. She saw someone whose soul was merged with a non-human and yet both maintained individuality. It was… unheard of. It itself might be considered a kind of true magic. Looking at Shirou, he simply shook his head and looked away. She frowned but not because of disappointment. She understood… and empathized to an extent. Shirou didn’t cry but he had been overwhelmed once. He knew what Hitomi was going through… and his own principals hated that he couldn’t comfort her. She looked out the window, deciding to save further discussion for later. She wasn’t tactless after all. 

 

Arata

 

They arrived in Shibahama by 9pm. He had already sent a message saying work was keeping him late and he’d be home late. He was the first in, while Emiya was last, making sure no one followed. Spooky waved, saying “Hello. Welcome to the Spookies. I heard from Lunch… so it’s bad huh?”. Nodding, he said “Yep… that secret society is way more trouble than we thought and pretty sure we’ve got another one that’s gonna be gunning for us… and then there’s the new guy who’s after Nemissa”. Spooky frowned, but said “Well… one thing at a time. First, this… magic society. How much of a problem will they be? Can we stop or divert it?”. He saw Rin think and after a few minutes asked “Spooky was it? Where are these devices made? Is it in Amami City?”. Spooky shrugged, saying “Yes but it's… not quite that direct. Certainly, each part is made in Amami City but it's hard to say when these ‘magic circuits’ are added… if it works anything like normal circuitry, it’d be during final assembly.. Where that it is though is a heavily guarded secret. I could hack the government mainframe and not get a clue”. He then asked “Hmmm… but what about the programs?”. Spooky shook his head, saying “They’re programs. Could stick ‘em on a big enough stick and transfer it that way”. Yu-ichi suddenly said loudly “Oh! By the way, Tsukamoto, Nemissa, there’s an update! A new message came through!”. He looked at Yu-ichi and was about to ask as he said “It’s Carol J! He’s said he’s gonna summon something!”. Tohsaka immediately walked to the computer and looked. Then she screamed “That idiot! What the hell is he thinking! Emiya, we’re going, he has to be stopped!”. “Wait, wait, what’s going on?” Spooky asked, as he also asked “Yeah, what’s he planning?”. 

 

Hesitating, Tohsaka said “Are you sure? The more you know the harder it will be to wipe your memories… and if Clock tower discovers you know, they may kill you”. Spooky nodded, saying “I mean, we already know about demons. Not much deeper than that, right?”. Staring at him for a moment, Tohsaka said “He’s planning to summon the ‘angel’ Kokabiel. I don’t know what he means by that specifically but I’m guessing based on the responses it’s a big deal”. He nodded, saying “Makes sense… we did take him down back at Algonsoft NS… of course he’s summoning a big shot to handle us”. Suddenly, Nemissa punched a wall, causing a dent. Flinching, everyone turned to her as she growled “That… bastard! He just called me an airhead!”. After a few seconds of processing, they all said “Eh?”. “I’m gonna kill. I’m gonna beat that bastard within an inch of his life. Arata, we’re going!” Nemissa growled, grabbing him by the back of his shirt and dragging him out. “N-n-nemissa!” he cried but to no avail. She wasn’t listening as she stormed off with him in tow. He sighed deeply but then said “L-Let’s stop by the Gourmaden! Maybe we’ll find something there!”. Hesitating, Nemissa nodded and said “Fine! Order the smart car already!”. He did so. He… was unsure how safe it was to defy Nemissa right now. 

 

Tatsuya

 

He watched the SUV drive away. He replayed the final events in his head. Why did Nyarlathotep use such a weak ice spell? It couldn’t be because he was so weak. Even if he was, he was always such a pompous, self-righteous jerk yet there he acted… not like that at all. He sniffed and smelled it. The scent. However, he couldn’t help but shake he was missing something. None of it added up. What was his game here? He decided to contact his brother, texting ‘Got an update. Hacker meetup fell through. No show… but I got a bigger break. Think I found him’. The reply was instant, asking ‘Him? Who do you mean?’. ‘Can you talk? It’s easier to just call,’ he replied. Instantly, he got a call from his brother. Answering, he heard his brother say “What do you mean by him Tatsuya?”. “I met Nyarlathotep himself… I think… it’s weird” he explained “I can confirm the person I met tonight has that same stench as Nyarlathotep though”. There was hesitation as his brother asked “I see… what person?”. “A girl calling herself Nemissa. Was accompanied by two cultists, maybe three as the third kinda did nothing but fiddle with some tech so I can’t confirm if he used magic without a persona” he answered “He was also carrying a statue”. A deep sigh was heard as his brother replied “Tatsuya… are you certain it's not just an avatar possessing the poor girl?”. “E-eh?” He asked “He can do that?”. “Yes!” His brother replied strongly “Remember the investigation into the disappearance of Mikage-cho? We found that he used avatars there!”. 

 

He had forgotten that. A group of persona users had actually encountered him first. Nyarlathotep was far less involved in that incident than this one. He had simply created ‘children’ to take over people or objects and used them to his own ends. “Ahhhh! Right!” he muttered “That’d explain it… I hadn’t smelled the avatars so I just forgot”. “Well, try again” his brother stated “Most likely, it’s a ‘child’ that’s developed its own ego… if that’s the case, then the situation is far less dire… well… for it”. Nodding, he walked to where his bike was stashed and said “Yeah. Means I can reason with it. Convince it ta not destroy humanity… and use it ta find the main man himself and end him”. A laugh was heard as his brother replied “Exactly. There you go, Tatsuya. Now… need backup? I have plenty of vacation days stacked up… Baofu contacted Ulala recently so they’re easy. Only outlier would be Maya… dunno her situation”. He sighed, saying “I’ll… I’ll do it. She deserves it”. There was silence before his brother said “True… you didn’t… end things well”. After a few minutes of silence, he said “I gotta go… oh, and I’ll call when to bring the cavalry. I… wanna feel things out with ‘Nemissa’ first”. “Alright” his brother responded “The later” and the phone clicked. He hung up and put his motor helmet on and got on his bike. Turning the key, his bike roared to life and he sighed. “Damn… I fucked up. Gonna need ta make up… hmmm… where are they gonna head next…?” he muttered and took off. Tonight was a bust so he had to crash somewhere for the night. 

 

Arata

 

As they entered the hull of the ship, guided by Mary, they held the statue still. He wasn’t sure if it truly was but if it wasn’t he figured he could point Victor to who it was or go deal with it again. As he arrived, he found Victor working now. He had three tubes similar to what held the statue and in them were different beings. Two looked like teardrops at different angles and being different colors while the middle was some sort of… half-man looking thing but made of stones. Turning, Victor greeted him and said “Welcome, Sanagi. I see you brought the kadmon”. Nodding, he offered, saying “A ‘Doctor Trill’ had confiscated it for his own experiments… we retrieved it from him”. Nodding, Victor said “That’d explain it. This is a rare specimen… craftwork from a highly prestigious family, touted as master alchemists. Any mage would be tempted by it. I’d be more concerned about one showing no interest”. Blinking, before he could ask Victor answered his query, saying “Most Magus exist solely to hone their craft. Anything that might be a way forward for them is to be taken, in most circles. Thus, one that does not do this is… an anomaly. Not untrustworthy, but more difficult to handle… now. For your reward”. “Huh…?” he responded “You did though already”. Smiling, Victor said “Surely, you know better? I am a friend to all summoners. You are no exception. Consider this a bonus if you must. For by helping you, I help myself. I practice in the art of phantasmal beasts. I have the only workshop in Amami City to enhance, alter, or even merge beasts”. He felt like he should be shocked… yet he was confused. “What do you mean?” he asked. Smiling, he stated “Perhaps a demonstration… summon your beasts. Let me look upon them”. 

 

Nodding, he pulled out his COMP and summoned Ella and Jessup. The two greeted him, then turned to Victor. Nodding, Victor said “I see… weak beasts. A magus could beat them if they put their mind to it. However, not hopeless. Tell me, Pixie, Pannangal, what do you desire in power?”. Jessup replied immediately “I know you… heh. Been a while. Sure, I could use some more strength. My best feature, frankly”. Nodding, he gestured to a test tube that an arm from the darkness stretched out to place. Jessup settled into it as it closed. Ella stated “I want to be more powerful. No matter the cost”. Victor thought and said “Hmmm… not the right specimen for kadmon… but no matter. I do have an idea. Young summoner. How much money do you have?”. “2000” he stated. Turning to Mary, Victor asked “Mary. Go fetch a beast worth that price… assuming you don’t mind paying, young summoner”. Nodding, he stated “I’m due for a payday so sure”. With a transfer between accounts, Mary left. Five minutes later, Mary came down with a chain around a peculiar creature. It walked like a dog but its body looked metallic. Around where the end of its neck would be were horrible spikes jutting forward. From the neck pale green flames leapt out, forming the face of a dog. The tail was at least three feet long and scaled. “Ah… a Helldog. Interesting… Helldog. Do you consent to being fused?” Victor requested. It looked at him, saying “I do. I have long sought a master… do not disappoint or my flames will scorch your soul” and then proceeded to settle into a newly placed Test tube. As they all closed, Victor looked to Ella and said “Now… you shall be reborn. I cannot promise you will be you when you awake… but power you shall have. Greater than now… greater than Jacques the Helldog”. Nodding, Ella said “Do it!”. 

 

He watched. He saw the test tubes fill with liquid. The red tear drop melted into the liquid and the liquid, now candy red, was drained out and filled Jessup’s tube. As he soaked, veins seemed to pop all over him. He felt his magic circuits flare and felt something pulled from him. Within minutes, the liquid dissipated and Jessup looked slightly bigger. As it opened, it flew out, saying “Whew! Been a while since I got a magatama bath! Thanks Vic!”. Victor merely nodded as he finished calibrating an older-looking computer. Then, crane arms moved and raised a platform up carrying a massive test tube. If he floated in it, he estimated ten meters between the top and bottom from his head and feet respectively and then 5 meters of radius around him. “Here we go. Enjoy your new life, Ella, Jacques. Let the Devil Fusion begin!” Victor cried passionately and pressed the enter key after typing some commands into the computer. The test tubes filled with liquid. Him and Ella met eyes one last times as Ella simply smiled at him before melting into the liquid. Helldog, who he knew was named Jacques, melted into the liquid. Ella’s was a simple purple color while Jacques produced a pale green liquid. The liquids then drained and flew into the large test tube, filling it with water as well. As the various liquids mixed, Victor entered one last command and suddenly lightning flew through the liquid. From the center of the top to the center of the bottom, multiple arcs of electricity flew through the liquid and crackled. As it did, the colored liquid combined and formed a green mass that slowly hardened from exposure to the electricity. Eventually, this stopped and the mass began to take shape, eventually forming a new creature. 

 

It looked a lot like a sheep might but it had the back legs of a chicken, though with webbed feet. Further, its green hair was short while its bushy brown mane around its neck was thick. It had red eyes and the most noticeable feature was its horn. It was at least five feet long and moved as though not a horn but a tentacle. The liquids then drained out and the creature floated to the bottom, sputtered. With a final enter command, the test tube’s glass fell away and the beast leapt to the platform they were on. He realized then how big it was. It was at least up to his chest in height when quadrupedal. Turning to him, he stated “Master, I am reborn! I am no longer the Pixie Ella, nor the Helldog Jacques! I am instead the Cunhur named Quinya!”. It puffed its chest out in pride as Jessup commented “Seems both souls were equally strong… heh. Well. Ella got her wish”. “I see. Glad to meet you, Quinya. I hope we work well together” he responded. The horn retracted somewhat as it said “That said… I must relay something. My heart wishes to thank you for my existence. I have gained the power that half of me desired. Likewise, the other half is happy to finally have a master. Now… where is your COMP?”. He showed it and the creature touched it with its horn. A message popped up saying ‘Pixie Ella removed from registry, Cunhur Quinya registered’. “There” Quinya said “Now I shall retire. I wish to accommodate myself” and then turned into blue particles that flew into the COMP. 

 

“There you have it… a new beast to command, made from the wishes for power from the Pixie and the desire for a master from the Helldog” Victor stated, then turned to him “To be a good summoner, you must learn to utilize every service available. I offer my fusion services free of charge. However, you must bring demons if you wish to incur no cost”. Nodding, he stated “I think I get it… thank you, Nestrvankein. I will remember this”. “We done?” Nemissa asked “I wanna hurry up and kick Carol J’s ass!”. Frowning, Victor asked “Carol J? What’s he done now?”. “He called me an airhead!” Nemissa answered “He said he’s gonna Kokabiel to deal with me too! I ain’t gonna take that laying down! Someone needs to teach him a lesson”. Nodding, Victor said “I stay out of summoner business so I don’t mind… but you look tired. Both of you… stay tonight in the hotel. If he truly is summoning it, then he requires time. It won’t be until tomorrow night that the stars are right”. Frowning, Nemissa was about to say something when he yawned and said “I hate to say it but I agree… I’m exhausted. Can we just rest for a few hours?”. Nemissa glared at him, then softened as both her and Hitomi said “Fine…. More than a few hours. We have had a long day”. Smiling, he looked at Victor and said “Thanks… really”. Waving his hand, he stated “It is my hotel. I do as I wish and I am a friend to all summoners. Rest so you may fight another day”. With a nod from him, Mary guided them to their room.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

 

Astrological Observatory



Arata

 

He settled into his pajamas. Well, the pajamas provided for free by the Gourmaden. It really was a wonderful room. It had two king-sized beds, a massive tv and a large window. It led to a balcony that they could enjoy grilled food from. They could grill it themselves or have a waiter grill it. However, they didn’t. They ordered normal room service and each did various things to prepare for bed. He for his part showered. It had been a few days and he didn’t like being so lax with his hygiene. So now that he got to shower, he felt a lot better about the situation. After that, he proceeded to leave so Hitomi could too. As he settled in, he turned on the tv to listen to the news. “Welcome back to Amami Reports, I’m your host tonight, Kojo Senden. We begin with an update on the break-in at Algonsoft’s network services office in Nikamaimon” the news reporter began, before switching to video of Algonsoft NS that morning “Authorities have determined that the break-in was done so the vagrants to gain access to servers and steal valuable corporate data. Identities have not been found, but the authorities vow to not rest until they are apprehended”. Frowning, he knew why they weren’t saying anything. It’d be hard to put down an infestation of monsters as the cause for damages… so if they got caught, they’d be footing the bill. Thankfully, Yu-ichi did a sweep of its systems the day before as part of his duties, thanks to a bug Lunch installed on one of the servers while he was connected. He sighed as the reporter continued. 

 

“In other news, the progress on the airport is accordingly going smoothly, with the only delay being in the systems of the airport itself. According to Akuma Nishi, the project will be complete shortly” the reporter stated, saying “In anticipation, a diplomat from the US has booked a flight here and will be arriving the day the airport opens for business”. The reporter shuffled some papers as she then stated “Now onto the news of the day. The Paradigm X beta has officially opened for the public and the lucky winners of the raffle have gotten their hands on their copies. We requested special entry into the beta to interview players in-game… and while we were initially rejected, Algonsoft quickly readied an account for us and permitted us access. We’ll play our interview now. One note before we begin, we received consent from each interviewee before taping”. He watched the interview and wasn’t surprised by some of what was said. He knew the beta was incredible but recent events prevented him from enjoying it. Then, after the interviews, the reporter stated “Now for the latest update; Paradigm X has just released a patch that adds further optimization for those stuck playing on a PC. Sadly, it will take several hours to download for those abroad, but those at home can enjoy the newest patch after a simple 20 minute download. That’s all for the news at this time”. He frowned a bit and began to wonder. How did Paradigm X play into it all? Before he could continue, he heard a content sigh nearby and looked. 

 

Sitting on the other bed was Nemissa. She wore a robe, moving to lay in bed and said “Man. I could get used to living like this… how much does a room normally cost?”. “About 20k a night” he answered, smirking “What? Got a stash like that somewhere?”. Nemissa smirked, asking “Can’t we just hack ourselves some cash? I mean… everything is electronic. It’d be easy, right?”. Nodding, he answered “I can’t deny that… but it’s not that simple”. Frowning, before Nemissa could ask, he answered “I mean… everything has metadata… without the right knowhow and skillset, it’s unalterable. So if you get caught with money that has the wrong metadata, you’re sunk”. Frowning, Nemissa groaned and said “So this is the only night I get to pamper myself….?”. Laughing, he answered “I didn’t say that… you are an honorary member of the Spookies. So… I can hook ya up. Can’t be every night but for special ones, sure”. “Like tonight?” Nemissa asked, staring at him, blank faced now. “Well… yeah. We survived Tatsuya… and Gargan Zero. Also got access to an invaluable resource” he answered as Nemissa sat up and asked “Hmmm… I see. What about when we defeat Carol J once and for all? Will that be ‘special’?”. Thinking, he was about to answer when he saw it. Both Hitomi and Nemissa. Both overlapping one another, as if both were in control… or perhaps in sync? It was a breathtaking sight. It was a sight that one could only dream of, yet here he was witnessing it in reality. A non-human entity and a human being were at the moment one and the same… though he was unnerved. Why were their eyes trained solely on him? His thoughts were broken as Nemissa gave a deep yawn and rolled onto her back, saying “Whatevs. Tired… g’night” and fell asleep. He stared for a few moments, shocked at the sudden shift in atmosphere but shook his head, laying down as he shut the TV off and turned the light off… he hoped tomorrow was less filled with near-death experiences.

 

Rin

 

Rin sighed after Nemissa stormed off with Tsukamoto. Frowning, she asked “Are they… always like this?”. Shaking his head, Spooky stated “Nah… before this, Hitomi was calm and collected. She was our in-girl, being young and outta college”. “In… girl?” Emiya questioned, to which Yu-ichi replied “She was in highschool for a while and pretty accomplished, so of course lotsa places wanted her. She could intern anywhere she wanted with no one batting an eye”. Emiya frowned, asking “Wait… you were using her…?”. Shaking his head, Spooky stated “No. She’s as much a spooky as I or Yu-ichi are… though I guess that’s changing huh?”. Rin perked up, asking “Why?”. “I mean… they brought this conspiracy to us” Spooky explained “As much as I hate to admit it, those two’re the best at dealing with it. Sure, we’ll support but… well… we ain’t magic. That’s their department now”. Frowning deeply, Rin asked “You… sure are handling this well. Are you sure you’re a civilian?”. Spooky nodded after a second, saying “Ye-... well I guess not technically. I am a hacker… but yeah. A normal human”. Emiya sighed, saying “Well… let’s leave for now Tohsaka. Nothing more we can do”. Nodding. Tohsaka turned to leave as Six said “Hey. Before you go… we’re in an alliance right?”. “Right” Tohsaka replied as Six said “Then… for the time being, you get the same offer. Need gear, or something extra, I got connections. Dunno if I can get anything really weird but more mundane things sure”. Before she could ask, Lunch clarified “Without getting traced to you. Six can get things like guns or chips without Amami City ever know’in he was the receiver… So yeah. For that matter, lemme know if ya wanna upgrade somethin’. I’m the hardware guy”. “I’m the coder! If ya need something altered, I’m you man!” Yuichi stated enthusiastically, before clarifying “So long as you show me magic!”. Rin simply walked out at that, Emiya saying “Thank you… uhh, we’ll call if we need anything” and left with her. 

 

She was somewhat upset. They all treated it so casually. She knew they were already an illegal hacking group, but the fact they seemingly didn’t care about the danger they were in… however her thoughts were interrupted as Emiya said “It’s not that Tohsaka”. Looking at him, she frowned and asked “What?”. “You’re thinking about it. Their reaction” Emiya said, finishing the autopilot for the smart car and setting it to drive as it took off, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried… but they aren’t being careless. If anything… I’d say they are used to being in danger”. Frowning, she was about to retort when Emiya stated “You know how difficult it is to get guns in the country. Yet, that man, Six, had an MR-15 rifle in their base. It was even recently cleaned. I doubt they just collect as a hobby”. Frowning still, Rin looked away, saying “Clock tower is far more serious than some gun”. “I know. That isn't the point. How does he have it? Apparently, he has connections that can get him more… without tracing to him. I can’t say for sure what they are… but I’m betting he has ways to obfuscate normal channels”. “Then… you’re suggesting…” Rin began as Shirou finished, saying “Exactly… plus each member had their purpose. I won’t say we should involve them more than necessary… but underestimating them because they’re normal humans may be a mistake”. Rin sighed, saying “What is it with this city…?” and sunk into her chair, finishing with “Even humans are catching up to us… if I didn’t know any better, the sole purpose of this city is to eliminate the need for magecraft…”. 

 

Then morning came. She’d sat up and stretched. She sniffed the air, smelling Emiya’s cooking. She got prepared as today they had to intercept Nemissa and Tsukamoto as they stormed the Astrological Museum and fought this ‘Carol J’ character. She’d check her email for updates but hated working computers, even with as convenient as they are. It was why she brought Shirou along initially, though she also valued his physical capabilities. He had grown a lot stronger in his magic over the years. He wasn’t that terribly accomplished as a magus, but she knew instantly that working on the fundamental idea of him would do him better in the long term than having him focus on magics he’d never fully be able to equal even novice magus in. Of course, she still coursed him on the basics. Fundamentals were important even if never truly utilized, as sometimes they brought insight later on not thought of initially. As she drank her prepared coffee, she looked at Emiya and said “Thank you… any updates?”. Emiya nodded, saying “Yeah. We got some information. Carol J is reportedly fast and his COMP is an electric guitar that doubles as a blunt weapon… Additionally, he commanded four phantasmal beasts, two of which were powerful”. Rin nodded, remembering the traces left behind by them. Powerful familiars… she stopped. Then her eyes widened. She stood up, slamming the countertop and saying “That’s it!”. Emiya flinched, asking what she was yelling about as she looked at him, saying “That’s how they do it! How they summon and control Phantasmal Beasts! It’s just like with Servants!”. Staring for several seconds before his own eyes widened, Shirou responded “Wait… then that means we confirmed it. The Holy Grail or something like it is here… right?”. Nodding, Rin stated “If that’s the case… then the string of sicknesses and mana depletions would be…” as Shirou finished, saying “People having their summons go around devouring mana… shit… this is bad”. “Let’s hurry and finish breakfast… we need to get to Tsukamoto. This changes everything” Rin stated as Emiya served breakfast. 

 

Arata

 

His clothes were clean in the morning. As he dressed in the bathroom, he made a call to base. “Spooky speaking,” Spooky greeted. He answered “Sanagi calling, boss. I wanted to apologize for last night”. “Ah… Sanagi. I didn’t expect to hear from you on this line… you know you can call from your home phone, right?” Spooky questioned. He answered “Yeah. I’m not home though. I’m at the Gourmaden. Nemissa let me drop off the statue I was carrying”. “Ah right you did have that… what was that about anyway?” Spooky asked “I assume something magic-related”. Nodding, he replied “Then let me report what happened. The Gourmaden is home to someone named Nestrvankein Victor. He is the owner and he studies Phantasmal Beasts… and claims himself friend to all summoners”. “I see… lucky us… but I sense that not everything was straightforward” Spooky replied, to which he continued “Yeah… his repair service ain’t free. 100K. That time though, he was willing to trade doing a favor for repairs. Good thing he did the latter first cause his job sent us to the bay, Warehouse Block J”. “Alright… following so far” Spooky stated, the clicking of keys heard in the background as he continued “Basically he wanted a shipment from that block. It was in the second warehouse that had been heavily altered… and was home to someone with… I can’t even call it human or beast… I dunno what I saw. When its arm was severed by Emiya, who rescued me, I saw bone, blood, and wires… yet it had powers like a Phantasmal Beast”. “Huh… interesting… but if it had wires…” Spooky muttered, asking “Anyone there? In the warehouse I mean”. “Yeah, Dr. Trill. He gave up what he stole when I revealed I was a summoner” he answered “Based on the equipment and the nature of what he stole… I think he probably made the thing we fought… no. Gargan Zero. It called itself that and… I want to respect it”. There was a hum of thought before Spooky spoke, saying “Alright… then what? You left peacefully?”. 

 

“No… that’s when we ran into Tatsuya… I thought Tohsaka was gonna steal so I was gonna bolt but then a guy calling himself Tatsuya Suou ambushed us. He was looking for a ‘Nyarlathotep’ and thought Nemissa was this thing. Then he attacked and… I can only say, I’m grateful to Tohsaka and Emiya. Without them, Nemissa would’ve died”. There was silence for several moments before the clacking of keys was heard and he said “I see…. Hmm. I heard basically the same from Lunch. He saw those last two attacks with Six”. Then a sigh rang out and Spooky said “Hey. I got cams in the museum. Carol J isn’t there yet… but it’s not opened and a bunch of suits arrived. They dunno I've tapped in but… well… I’ll keep connected as long as I can”. Nodding, he answered “Thank you. I’ll rely on you for guidance”. “No prob…. Come back alive, you hear? Also… wiring over some cash. Six got some gear and I’ve paid him for you but you’ve also done a good job so… yeah. Early payment” Spooky informed him, before the line went dead. Sighing, he pulled the phone away then dropped the phone into the trash as a program began to wipe it. He left as Nemissa went in to change. 

 

As they left the Gourmaden, Six sat next to the SUV as he waved, saying “Yo. What’s up?”. “Not much” he greeted, high fiving Six “Thanks for the gear last time. It was great”. Smiling, Six responded “No problem. This time, you get the good stuff. For you, mr. Sanagi… actually, let’s talk inside” and then hopped in. He and Nemissa followed. As the door closed, and the SUV started up, Six opened the duffel bags on the ground and said “Got you two some sweet gear”. He showed them the guns first. A pair of Thompson SMGs sat in the duffle bags. Then he showed them the batons, saying “These babies are a bit different. They're not made of iron but aluminum, so sure they’ll bend after enough hits but they’ll be a lot lighter and still pack a mean punch”. Then he showed them the armor they’d be wearing. “Better kevlar now… these ones don’t have the steel plates you're using but titanium plates. Also, I got vintage infantry helmets from back in the day. Ah… and finally, these boots free up your ankles but still protect your shins and feet”. Nodding, he stated “Great work… this’ll be nice”. “Also… Hachi got somethin for ya. Jack inta the ride’s network ta download some custom stuff” Lunch informed him. Nodding, he pulled out his COMP and did just that. As it downloaded he saw a ‘Back-Upper’ program. “He based it a bit off the code from the Devil Program. Now, theoretically, it should be capable a’ copy’in info on yer beasts for reference and scan ‘em… can’t summon them but it might be useful”. Smirking, he unplugged his COMP and said “Sweet” and ran it. Nemissa asked “So this is your best?”. Six nodded, saying “Well I could give my rifle but.. That’s one of a kind and frankly, I gotta have something. Trust me, it’ll be fine with this”. Frowning a bit, Nemissa smiled, shrugging and saying “Well. It is that punk…. Sure it’ll be fine”. 

 

Rin

 

She saw Lunch’s SUV park to a stop near them. It was 10am and it made her feel relieved. It meant they hadn’t stormed the lab. “Hey” she greeted Sanagi and Nemissa “Glad to see you’re just getting here”. “We’ll park a block away. Send a message through the COMP” Lunch instructed “We’ll hurry here and grab ya”. Nodding, Sanagi turned to Lunch and said “Thanks. We won’t be long” as Nemissa approached her and asked “You helping? I’m shocked. This is just a personal vendetta”. Frowning, Tohsaka said “I need… to confirm something personally. I have a theory on how that… ‘program’ is functioning and if I’m right… I don’t like it”. Nemissa asked tensely “Are you going to try to make us delete it?”. Emiya shook his head, saying “No. That would be a worse idea… but it means things are much worse than we thought”. Turning, Sanagi asked as Lunch drove off “Worse than a war between Amami City and the Clock Tower?”. Nodding, Tohsaka said “I won’t deliver any details until I confirm it. I need to see two summoners fighting in action to do so… but still. Let’s get inside”. Nemissa, needing nothing more, walked past her and Emiya and headed for the stairs leading up to the museum. 

 

Once inside, Rin’s eyes widened. “Careful” she said “We’re in a reality marble”. “Reality Marble…? What is that?” Sanagi asked, Nemissa looking at her out of the corner of her eye… like how a cat might if it's trying to ignore someone but heard them. “It’s a forbidden magic among magus. Essentially, it projects the inner world of the user onto reality itself, overwriting it so long as the magus can provide proper prana.” Rin explained “They’ve never been studied though so It’s really hard to say what’s ‘normal’ for them beyond that normal humans aren’t capable of them”. Nodding, Emiya stated “Yes… a human has to be pretty warped to be able to use one. That said… this one feels… off. All it seems to be doing is saturating the air with high amounts of Prana”. Frowning, Nemissa turned, asking “What is ‘Prana’ by the way?”. Rin blinked, then said “Ah, apologies. Prana is a catch-all term for magical energy. It refers to Mana, magical energy in the air, and Od, magical energy from the self”. “Hmmm…” Nemissa hummed, before turning and saying “Well let’s go. We have a summoner to beat into the dirt”. Nemissa then walked away. Sighing, she followed. She was not looking forward to this. 

 

Spookies

 

He entered the planetarium after gearing up. He put on the titanium plated-kevlar vest, the work gloves, defensive shoes, and infantry helmet. He had the telescopic police baton hanging from his belt and held the tommy gun in one hand, safety on. Nemissa likewise was geared up, looking at him and simply whistled. Emiya had visualized the facility and found the only signs of someone being there. The plan was simple; Him and Rin would sneak in after them and hide in ambush spots. They’d distract Carol J while they did. After he gave the signal, Rin and Emiya would sneak attack Carol J. Rin did want to observe the fight for a few minutes and figured this would allow that while also being a contingency for something going awry. As he entered he could see shadows move out of the corner of his eye. Only if he paid attention though. Carol J, staring at a hologram of the sun floating in the center, turned and smirked at them, saying “Yoooo, some-” then dropped the smirk and frowned, saying “Oh. It’s you two”. Nemissa laughed, saying “What’d you expect after you shit-talked me online? Of course I’d come to beat your ass!”. Carol J gave a bellyful laugh and said “Wow! You got an in! Impressive! Even Carol J didn’t see that com’in!” before stopping abruptly and glaring at them “A’course, thanks ta you, I’m now a joke! Even ol’ man Finn’s mak’in fun a’ me! Can’t have that… so I figured I’d summon one of the strongest divine demons, Kokabiel, and have ‘im burn ya ta cinders… and ya just made find’in ya easy!”. He blinked, asking “Dude… the hell? Why explain your plan? I can just shoot you and-” but was interrupted as Carol J riffed his guitar and sang “Don’t ya look down on the JJJJJJ! Ya really think my spell’ll fizzle out just ‘cause I d-d-d-d-d-diedddddd!?”. Nemesis groaned, saying “Ugh… you’re such an idiot…”. 

 

Smirking, Carol J stated “Well. No matter. Let’s get this party started” and suddenly started playing his guitar. He raised his gun to fire but found himself frozen. “Th-the hell!?” Nemissa cried as Carol J said “Sorry puppies, but I ain’t gonna let ya interrupt THIS spell. This goes out ta Kokabiel, and he’s gonna burn ya sinners ta ash!”. Then, he sang “Kokabiel! King a’ the celestials! Stars, risers of fame! Ya may be old news, but ta me ya got a use! I’mma gonna us ya! TA CALL ON YA MASTAH, KOKABEL, STAR A’ GOD!”. There was several seconds of silence as the hologram, showing the solar system and several galaxies, simply spun. Then, he asked “Uhhhh… Kokabel?”. Suddenly, Rin yelled out, standing and completely red faced “You idiot! Did you actually think that failure of a spell would work!?”. Blinking, he felt the spell weaken a bit. He tried to aim his gun but found it moved very slowly. “I mean, ye-” then yelled as something threw him a foot back onto his butt. A ball of light appeared powerfully in front of where he was. “What the!?” he heard voices cry out, the spells on him vanishing as he felt free to move. However, he didn’t. He stared at the light. He knew what that was. He had seen it once before. It was the same light that tried to steal his soul when he first logged into Paradigm X. Then he heard it speak and felt his chest tighten. 

 

“I… I am… Moowis… I… I need… a body…” it stated “None right… too… too weak… wait… you… YOU… YOU… YOU… YOU WILL DO. MY NEW… BODY!!!” A voice stated, seemingly omnipresent. “The hell!? I summoned Kokabel! Who the hell is ‘Moowis’!?” Carol J growled, standing “Moowis! By my order, you are to return to the sea! Go away!”. The ball didn’t react other than fly at Carol J, who tried to run but tentacles of light flayed out and grabbed him, saying “Body…. Body… BODY… BODY… BODY… MY BODY, MY BODY, BECOME MY BODY!”. “No!!! Dammit, why isn’t this working! Go away, I order it!” Carol J screamed, becoming agonized as the light ball overlapped him completely. “Shit! What do we do!?” he heard a voice yell, as another said “Cheese it! We’ve lost control! The reality marble… just run! Demons will flood this place!”. Then he heard the doors behind him open, turning and seeing some men in suits run out. “What the hell is going on!?” Rin screamed, he replied “I don’t know! This didn’t happen last time!”. Then the light faded. In its place, Carol J stood but… different. Over his face was a strange-looking golden mask with some sort of south american style to it. From the left side though an arm extended six feet and ended in a hand. Despite its clearly metallic appearance, it moved as though weightless and clearly a limb. At first, it was silent… then it spoke. 

 

“Soul…” it stated, turning to him and pointing “I sense… a strong soul… you will… RELINQUISH YOUR SOUL!”. Suddenly, the hand stretched towards him rapidly. He quickly dodged to the side, yelling “God Dammit not again!”. Emiya was the first to move, clearing the gap practically with a single leap. He held his twin swords and brought them down in an overhead slash. It used Carol J’s arm to block the blows, drawing only a little blood. As its arm retracted, Rin stood and tossed a trio of gems, each of which was enveloped by a black aura. He pulled out his COMP, saying “Jessup! Quinya! I’m relying on you!”. Both emerged from his COMP, each saying “Yes, Master! We will fell this enemy!”. Quinya charged horn first which spiraled around itself. However, instead of attempting to pierce the creature, its horn curled up at the end into a ball shape, so the impact sent Carol J flying into the stands. Jessup followed up by firing its lashes at the creature which impacted it at the same time as Rin’s black gems. However, there wasn’t a single dent on him from such attacks. Instead, as its arm fully retracted, the creature calling itself Moowis expelled a lungful of air, emitting a cloud of green gas. “What is that!?” Nemissa cried, firing an ice ball at it, hitting its head and shutting its mouth. The cloud, while not terribly large, was substantial. It immediately headed for Emiya who leapt away. 

 

Moowis then stood. Rin this time threw a gem that became engulfed in flames. When it impacted, Moowis became engulfed in flames. However, it seemed to not be phased. Turning, it stated “PUNY… MAGIC… STRONG SOUL…. WILL… HAVE!” and raised its arm. “No you won’t!” Emiya yelled, saying “Trace On!” and summoned forth a crimson spear. He then pulled his arm back before throwing it hard. Moowis’s arm moved with surprising quickness but only just managed to grab the spear in time. It then tossed it aside, and roared, leaping right for Emiya. “Shit!” He yelled, holding a hand out and saying “I am the bone of my sword, Rho Aias!” and summoning the shield. Moowis bounced off the shield, landing underneath the holographic earth that shone above the center stage. Nemissa sent another ice ball flying that it simply swatted away, saying “STRONG SOULS… MINE… ALL MINE!”. Emiya dispelled the spear and barrier, turning swiftly. Suddenly, Moowis fell to his knees as fire exploded behind it. It then stood and faced Rin. Instead of Rin launching another attack, Quinya landed in front of Moowis and expelled a white mist into its face. Stumbling back, it cried out as its hands moved up to the ice that was forming, yelling “WHAT… MY SIGHT… WHY DID YOU… TAKE MY SIGHT!?”. Jessup dive bombed from above, yelling “For this punk!” and with a punch sent it tumbling off the central stage and to the floor. “Great!” Arata stated, running to get into position, then aimed and fired. The difference wasn’t a whole lot, but the higher elevation, Moowis’ lower elevation, and the angle of the bullets added just enough for the bullets to have a slightly greater impact. This greater impact now left dents whereas before any damage they took was practically invisible if occurring at all. Moowis cried out, flailing before smashing its face and with it the ice. 

 

The action caught everyone off guard. When it stood and yelled, the arm suddenly glowed and everyone was slammed by a sudden concussive force. “M-Magecraft…!? How… wait… the reality marble!” Rin stated, reeling in pain from the force. Emiya had managed to stay standing and chanted Trace on!” and apparated the red spear again. He then leapt for Moowis, going for an aerial stab. Instead, the fist moved behind itself, bending at an angle opposite of what a normal limb with an elbow should and grabbed it, as if turning its hand upside down with the back as the palm. It wrenched the spear from Emiya’s grasp and then attempted to breath the green gas cloud in his face. Emiya thought quickly though and summoned the twin swords, using one to redirect it to the side and then kicked off Moowis’ chest away from him. The slight cut Emiya left bled. It then kept its attention on Emiya, turning fully to him as its arm reoriented itself to its proper alignment and then leapt at him, fist cocked back. “Shit! I am the bone-” Emiya tried to chant but abandoned it in favor of reinforcing his arms and using them to block. The force of the punch sent him flying to the stands 10 meters away. “STRANGE MAGIC MAN… YOU POSSESS A STRONG SOUL… IT WILL BE MINE!” it cried out, raising its hand and forming a ball of fire. “No you don’t!” Nemissa cried, sending an ice ball at him, determined to do something more than nothing. However, Moowis used one of Carol J’s arms to grab and crush it, not even responding to the attack. “Dammit!” Nemissa cried out as it suddenly grabbed the fireball, crushing it and sending fire in all directions. 

 

He stayed ducked down for his part. However, he used the camera’s in the planetarium to watch. A few went out but the few he had left let him see that Jessup and Quinya had gotten hit. Jessup got back up and was ready to fight, even if weakened but Quinya had fallen over and was panicking. He bit his lip and stood, saying “Jessup, get Quinya up!”. Jessup turned, nodded, and ran over. He helped Quinya put out the flames on its fur as Moowis turned its attention to him, saying “I HAVE YOU NOW…. STRONG SOUL… YOU WILL BE MINE!” and extended its arm. He quickly ran to the side but his eyes widened as it turned and used the same maneuver it did against Emiya moments ago. “Sanagi!” Rin cried, throwing gems at Moowis. “STRONG SOUL… WILL BE MINE!” Moowis cried as it finally grabbed him. It then began to retract. “No… no!” he cried. “Let him go!” Nemissa cried, Hitomi also yelling while overlapping. She then started to rapid-fire the ice balls and while they seemed to dent it's tough exterior, Moowis ignored her. “Dammit!” Emiya yelled, summoning that red spear again and charging. “STAY AWAY MAGIC MAN…. GET OWN STRONG SOUL!” Moowis cried, Carol J’s hands doing the same trick only with bones making audible cracking noises as it grabbed Emiya’s spear mid-charge and pushed back, locking the two in a stalemate. “Master!” Jessup and Quinya cried, both getting up. Quinya ran to the arm and used its horn in the same fashion, however it didn’t let go of its grip. Jessup punched the arm to no avail, yelling “Dammit lettim go!”. 

 

Rin reacted immediately, throwing a trio of gems. This time, they emitted a pale blue light. On impact, ice covered the arm, halting its retraction. “FOOLISH MORTAL… MY STRONG SOUL… MINE!” it yelled, turning to her. Emiya, still deadlocked, dispelled the spear, chanted “Trace, On!” and summoned the spear for another stab. This time, the arms batted the spear away. Emiya simply spun the spear to attempt another, resulting in the other arm doing it again, creating a new form of stalemate as superficial cuts were all that were achieved. Quinya, noticing the freezing, altered its horn to the mace formation and prepared to smash. Jessup reared a punch and they smashed the same point side by side at the same time. He felt the attempts loosen its grip and he tried to wriggle out, but it regripped as the ice had shattered and only cuts existed, cuts that bled black. “YOU WILL BE MINE!” Moowis cried, until suddenly Nemissa cried out “LET HIM GO! ROMA GRANDO!”. With those words stated, a beam of pale blue light flew out and slammed into Moowis’ face. It reeled back, almost falling out and certainly greatly loosening its grip on him. He fell to the stands and sighed in relief. Next, the mask it wore froze completely. Gritting his teeth, he aimed and began to fire on the mask. It screamed as the ice cracked and broke from the sustained gunfire. “STOP… STOP… NO…. NOOOOOOOOO!” Moowis screamed as suddenly the ice broke and the mask cracked heavily. 

 

Panting, they watched as the parts that were clearly foreign melted down onto the ground. What shocked them was as then a golden film peeled off of Carol J, leaving behind a heavily disheveled, somewhat bleeding Carol J. He collapsed into the puddle of golden liquid that then became pure light and gathered into a floating ball. “Ha! Gotcha!” Nemissa taunted “That’ll teach you to attack me!”. “BODY… NEED… NEED A… A BODY…” the ball stated, floating limply around until it suddenly floated a full meter towards Nemissa, saying “YOU… YOU ARE… COMPATIBLE… GIVE… GIVE ME YOUR… BODY”. “Wait, wait, wait! Back off, this is-” Nemissa began when suddenly the ball flew into her, and she began to flash. Moowis, Nemissa, and Hitomi began to flash and overlap one another rapidly as Nemissa yelled “Get out! This is my body! There’s no room! HEY ARE YOU LISTENING! GET OUT! NO, NO, DON’T-” and was cut off as a flash of light was emitted from them. When he looked, he saw it. No Nemissa. Nothing was left. As his eyes widened, he weakly asked no one in particular “N… Nemissa…?”. 

Chapter Text

Interlude

 

Lion of God



Judah drank his wine. Straight from the bottle. Sighing he looked around his room. He had decided to try his employers ‘City of Paradise’ for himself. He had to admit, so far he was impressed. Even though his hotel room wasn’t the Gourmande, the luxury hotel on a cruise ship in port and of world renown, he had to admit this was likely a close second. The Gorudosutandado Hotel room he had been gifted by his employer for his job five years ago was quite luxurious. A bed made of fine silk and excellent-quality cotton with velvet blankets and pillows. The floor was made of fine carpet that felt nice on his feet and the window leading out to a balcony was at least 10 meters wide. The balcony itself was expansive, effectively being a second room with the night air as one's comfort. He had put on his bathrobe and settled in when the TV turned on of its own accord and projected a hologram. Standing before him was Nishi Akuma, mayor of Amami City. He sighed, drank from his bottle and commented, saying “It’s rude to visit a man unannounced you know…. But welcome nonetheless, sir. How might I help you?”. 

 

“I need your help. It’ll pay well. Interested?” Nishi said, face as flat and blank as always. He nodded, saying “State your desires, sir. Perhaps I’ll grant them”. Nodding, Nishi, with a flick of his wrist, produced a 3d schematic of the nearby airport under construction. “A particularly troublesome demon has infiltrated our airport's mainframe… Thankfully, we determined it was not an attack from another organization. Rather, it was the Manitou Network” Nishi explained “Even though this is proof of success in our experiment, this cannot be overlooked. It must be eliminated immediately”. Nodding, he was about to reply when Nishi looked elsewhere, then said “Excuse me, I have to take this” and suddenly vanished, leaving him to his thoughts. 

 

He knew well what Nishi spoke of. The Manitou Network was a renovation in summoning systems for the Phantom Society. Normally, they needed stringent circumstances to summon as Phantasmal Beasts didn’t exist in reality anymore. Often, a summoner had to examine a location for weeks in advance before attempting it. Yet, the newest breakthrough allowed Summoner’s to summon as they wished. This was thanks to the Manitou Network, which someone did the heavy lifting in summoning. They still had to make a contract and supply prana afterwards, but they had ways of doing this. He himself came from a long line of magus and his activities skyrocketed his family’s research decades. He was set to upturn magic theory for generations in the Clock Tower soon thanks to it. However, he still owed the society much and would see his debts repaid before he settled down. He had already discussed such with the society, who were cooperative. At the end of his thoughts, Nishi appeared saying “Apologies… business”. 

 

“I understand, Akuma sir. Now… the business” he reminded. “Right… Judah Singh, we need you to kill the demon and purge it from the systems. I’ve sent in magus and a rookie summoner to aid you. Use them well” Nishi informed him, finishing with “The pay is three million yen, items of equal value, or any combination therein”. Nodding, he replied “Generous. Thank you, sir. I shall eliminate this demon for you” and then smirked “After all, it is only right”. Nishi returned the smirk and replied “Indeed… the weak should only know their place… I expect results. Good day, Singh… and enjoy the accommodations”. Smiling, the hologram vanished. He finished the bottle and set it aside as he turned the TV on to world news. Not that he didn’t care about Amami City, but that anything of it would be trifling soon. He had his family in Nepal to think about. “My rose… I’ll be home soon. I hope you can wait a little longer” he muttered as sleep took him. 

 

Leaving the smart car, a magus waited. A rotund man with a bowl cut and several rings on his finger in a suit and tie. “You’re late” the magus said in a huffed tone. “I was sleeping. I prepared and left once I awoke… now. Where is the demon?” he asked. The man glared at him, then said “Main control room… it only just started integrating”. Nodding, he pulled out his COMP and put his mouth to the microphone embedded in the mouthpiece. He then pressed the keys of the COMP in order to summon certain demons and whispered “Username; Judah Singh, PIN LG28”. With these, his demons appeared; Silky, Maruts, Dokeibe, and Oshira-sama. Silky appeared as a pale elfin woman in handmaiden attire. Maruts was a human-sized silver-skinned, black haired, red-eyed goblin sitting in a cloud. Dokeibe was effectively a human wearing blue and red robes, a tall hat, sandals, and a large hooked nose. Oshira-sama was a large log wearing a kimono that moved as though it were being worn by a human. 

 

“We have a job today. I expect your best as always. Let’s go” he said and moved forward, his demons only acknowledging his orders. However, once he got into the airport and headed for the elevator, the security door was locked. Frowning, he turned and saw a different magus. He had a small tuft of hair on his head, the rest bald and wore sunglasses. “S-sir! A-... ah. You’re fine… good. The demon got control of the mainframe. Not fully but enough” the man explained. “I see,” he said, thinking. “I was afraid it closed the door on you” the Magus stated “that would ki-” but Judah cut him off, saying “No it wouldn’t. My demons would force the door back open before it got within an inch of me… still. I’d rather not exhaust them. How do I open it?”. Perking up, the Magus said “Oh… the administrative counters. We can override it from there. I’ll go get the first one… ummm… the other two have to be done in order; the second floor and the basement”. Nodding, he said “Then go do it. I will handle those two… but tell your men to prepare. I’m invoking the Field”. A few seconds hesitation but the man responded “Y-yes sir!” and turned, saying into a radio as he ran “C-code 29! Summoner Judah Singh is going to invoke his Field! Pr-prepare for invaders!”. Nodding, he turned to the door and began to press keys. 

 

He recalled his homeland. Beautiful mountain ranges and glorious buildings. Palaces nestled in mountain nooks, or shacks in the valleys. The sweet mountain air and the soothing summer rains. He began to chant as he pushed his Od into the environment “Come summer, come wind, come rain and water… fill, fill, fill to the heart of my tune!” and felt the prana in the air begin to increase. Nodding, he muttered “There. You four are probably happier huh? Apparate if you wish… but keep your eye on the prize”. His demons appeared at that as the security door opened. Walking through, he sighed happily, saying “What a pleasant breeze… reminds me of home”. He then ascended the elevator. 

 

Stepping off he sensed something off. The Prana in the air shifted in unusual ways. Normally, this signified the arrival of a demon… However, it was unprecedented for them to arrive so quickly. Normally, a demon only started showing after forty-five minutes of invoking the Field. Yet, not even ten minutes had passed. Frowning, he knew what it meant. Either the rookie summoned demons or someone else was present. “Report; All members assigned to floor two” he ordered into the mic. He received no response and clicked his tongue. “Heh… infiltrated, huh…? Well then. This will be interesting” he mused, heading in. He knew his Field would last the length of his mission… they were specifically designed that way after all. He still remembered the training for him. 

 

He had been sat in a room and made to turn over his family’s mystic code. He was allowed to watch as the magus before him then showed him the changes he’d make. All it’d do is add to it. He accepted and found the spell within. The ‘Field’ as it was called was originally meant to simply fill the building or area he was in with prana for his demons to subsist on instead of his own, but he used his genius to alter it ever so slightly. He made it generate the feelings his homeland brought him. Summer breezes, mountain air. The works. Superficial, but who’d question him? Most that did faced humiliating defeat. He was a powerful magus, rivaling even those Einzberns and as a summoner he had reached a place where he was trusted with information on important projects. While his desire to settle had lost him some access, he understood. 

 

When he walked into the administrative counter, he expected the intruder. What he didn’t expect was to see a woman hunched over a computer monitor suddenly turn to him. “Ah… shoot. I got caught” the woman stated, then looked him up and down, standing “Wait a second… you… you’re Judah Singh, huh?”. Nodding, he responded “I am he… and you… based on your circuits, demeanor, and lack of a radio, are an enemy no?”. Laughing, the woman nodded and put her hands on her hips saying “Guilty as charged… gotta say. I’m somewhat impressed. This ‘Field’... it’s different from the norm. Quite unique really”. Smiling, he responded “Thank you… and based on that emblem, you’re a Kuzunoha, an enemy of the society, no? Well.. this is great” before reaching and pulling out a scimitar “I am Judah Singh! In my family’s honor, I shall prove my justice and claim your life!”. Frowning now, the woman stated “That… is not wise, Singh. If you back out, I’ll-” but was interrupted as he laughed, saying “My, I did not know the Kuzunoha raised cowards! But fine, if you insist I shall spare you”. Silence pervaded as the woman pulled out a three-piece nunchaku and said “Don’t cry that I didn’t warn you… prepare yourself”. Then, his Maruts appeared behind her. 

 

Yet not a single attack was made. A talisman flashed before it and it disappeared. He sensed its existence leaving his side. “Wh-what!?” he stammered, then rushed. Silky and Oshira-sama appeared and flanked him. The woman blocked the attack, using the two sides to slam his head. His demons deflected the attack however. Dokeibe apparated behind and attempted a claw attack as he leapt back. The woman simply ducked to the floor, kicking Dokebi straight into the ceiling, then flipped back into a hunched over standing position. With simple motions, a pair of talismans flew out and slammed into his demons. They became pinned to the walls, with only Dokeibe being free. “Dammit!” he cursed, rushing again. This time the woman parried his attack, letting go of that part and bringing the other end held by her hand to slam his temple. He brought up his arm to block it and gritted his teeth in pain as the weapon made impact. The woman leapt back as Dokeibe sent a wave of purple magic down from its ceiling perch, screeching as it did. Then, she whistled and said “Not bad… good reflexes… but can you handle this?” and then began to masterfully rotate and spin the weapon all around her, becoming a living dervish. 

 

This time, he backed up. His demon attacked the purple wave again, and the woman dodged. Silky floated over, free from the tags power, and healed him. Oshira-sama stated “Master… I don’t think we can win, master”. Glaring, he responded “We can and will”. He then rushed again, this time attempting a stab. The woman parried and this time his temple was slammed. Groaning, he fell to the side and Dokebi screeched and flung itself at the woman. The woman folded her weapon in and pulled out a tag and revealed it, saying “Begone! Nana ten no roduko!”. The tag in her flashed and he felt another connection become severed. Looking to him and then the others, she said “This is meaningless… you cannot beat me as you are… still. You have potential. Rethink your life choices. You’re young… you can still leave the society. The Kuzunoha always welcome enemies of the society”. With that, she walked out of the room, thought stopped and turned, saying “Also… don’t trust everything they say. The powerful lie all the time. It’s the only way they can keep it”. Suddenly, she put a finger to her ear, saying “Yes…? What was that Kinap….? Yes I’m planning on sparing him… Oh? Interesting… understood”. Moving it away, she said “I’m leaving. If you follow… I can’t promise to spare you… I trust you to make the right call” and then abruptly left. 

 

“D-dammit” Judah groaned, standing “I lost… no. I was pitied… how… humiliating”. “Master…” Silky said, suddenly healing him “Are you okay?”. Nodding, he stated “Fine… just humiliated that I lost…”. “It is not so bad master” Silky stated “You have your life… simply grow stronger and defeat her, no?”. Laughing, he looked at Silky, then responded “True… come. Let’s finish this job. I now have my honor on the line”. However, he had a bigger problem now. As he worked the computer, he seriously considered her words. He was obligated to. His sole philosophy was one of battle and it was very simple; The strong are automatically right. If you are defeated, then no matter the quarrel your opponent is right. If you win, you are right no matter your sin. He lived by this creed. Yet now he had been defeated. Though he knew well why. He made a severe miscalculation. 

 

“Damn that Reiho…” he muttered “Who’d have thought she’d be involved…?”. Yes… the more infamous magus of the Kuzunoha. Adopted only fifteen years ago at the tender age of twelve. She, with a partner summoner, single-handedly defeated a powerful demon in the founding town of the clan. After that, she received proper education and was now the society's worst nightmare, if the society's files on her could be believed. He finished his work and left the counter, heading for the primary elevator. “Master… can we handle the demon with just us?” Oshira-sama asked. “Yes, Oshira. Of course. I am a Lion of Singh. I cannot lose to mere demons” he stated confidently. Though… for some reason that felt wrong for him to say. 

 

The thought plagued him as he finished his work at the third counter. The Kuzunoha were influential. Likely, they could get his family out of Nepal and to some country where the society had less sway… like Canada, or Brazil. Further, there was a benefit. The Kuzunoha did have trainers that could turn an orphan into a powerful magus within a decade. Surely, he could only benefit? No… but that would make him a traitor, wouldn’t it? Could he defame his family name over such pettiness? As he approached the elevator, he muttered “I need to stop thinking about this… I shouldn’t let that woman’s words get in my head. I’ve considered them, that’s enough. I upheld my honor”. Yet he couldn’t stop. Was he… truly right? 

 

Then the doors opened. Ahead were a pair of men. The rotund man and the japanese man. Both greeted him, the rotund one saying “Sir. The demon is ahead. We’ve determined it’s element; earth”. Nodding, he said “I happen to have water and am wind myself… this is fortunate”. Nodding, the japanese man said “I have a fire demon just in case”. Nodding, he said “Good… behind me. You are less experienced and will be slaughtered immediately unless care is taken… Now come. Let us do this. Magus, as always, support us from the rear”. The rotund man nodded and with a wave the door opened. They rushed in, him with his scimitar at the ready. Inside… was empty. “The hell….?” the japanese man said “Why’s it empty? Is our intel wrong?”. Shaking his head he responded “Not wrong. Missing information. It can hide… Demon! Show yourself! I am the heir to the magus family named after the Lion of God! I challenge you to honorable combat!”. For a few moments, nothing happened. Then suddenly, the computers flickered to life and code ran on them. Then they glowed brightly and the light coalesced into a solid form; that of some kind of golem wrapped in wires. 

 

“I… AM WINPE… HE… WHO IS BORN… FROM THE… ELECTRIC SEA…. WHO CALLS ME FORTH?... WHO… WHO DARES BREAK… THE SPELL OF MANITOU…?” the demon stated, flickering as it did. “Th-the hell!?” the rotund man exclaimed, spooked. Frowning, he stated “Relax. It’s not fully formed… then… strike it down before it does!” and rushed forward, leaping. It’s reaction was immediate, its arm throwing a punch. He was sent to the side but something cushioned his fall. The rotund magus’ hand was outstretched as he said “D-dammit, give me a warning!”. “Master!” Silky cried, flying to him. “No! Not me, him!” He yelled. Silky hesitated but nodded and turned, a ball of ice appearing before it and launching itself at high speeds at winpe. Crying, it turned but not before a helldog appeared behind the japanese man as he said “Get him, Helldog!”. Howling, the creature ran forward, stopping meters before it and from its flaming head unleashed a torrent of fire. “A… ARGH!” it cried, recoiling. Standing, he rushed forward again and this time predicted the retaliation from Winpe. He ducked under the punch and made a deep upward slash. He followed this by using the momentum to spin and cut in the opposite way before retreating and avoiding another punch. “D-...DAMN YOU!” Winpe yelled, before getting pelted by two ice balls from Silky “DAMN YOU!”. Oshira-sama hung out around the back line but emitted prana as if preparing for something. “Grrr… dammit how strong is this thing!” the rotund man yelled. “Not strong enough! Get him hellhound!” the japanese yelled, holding a hand out. The creature had lines appear over it akin to magic circuits and it rushed forward, bursting at a speed not seen before. It dodged Winpe’s first strike, then the second. It bit the wrist and moved, throwing it over its shoulder. Wires ripped from the ceiling as it cried out “L… LET GO! LET GO OF WINPE!” and suddenly emitted a deep red wave of energy.  The helldog was thrown against the window and he was sent skidding back several meters. Staring, he assessed Winpe. It was certainly weakened, bleeding blue, sparking liquid from its cuts. It also had burns from the ice and fire, the ice burns having bruises from impact. Nodding, he said “We’re about… half done… Let's kick this up people! Magus! Support Silky’s cast!” and rushed forward. “Dammit, do I look like I’m- forget it you’re not listening!” the rotund man yelled, before turning to Silky and saying “Hey! Take some power!”. Nodding, Silky responded “Thank you. I can cast more efficiently with your circuits, young Magus. Admirable!” and fired this time a trio of ice balls. All three hit Winpe, making it put its arm in front of it. As he approached, he leapt over the single arm that could hit him. It rolled onto its back and tried to use its other arm to grab him, but suddenly Helldog leapt and pinned the arm to the ground as the Japanese man yelled “Got him! Now go!”. He stabbed his scimitar, yelling “For the glory of the Singh!”, right into its heart. It gave a loud scream as it began to flicker rapidly, then blinking out of existence. Panting, he stood tall and said “That… is how you slay a demon…”. 

 

“Dammit man… what a ride” the rotund man commented “Good cast Silky… got him good”. Nodding, Silky responded “I but followed my masters wishes… good support however. However, work more on your stomach circuits. They are fraying ever so slightly”. Frowning, Silky stated “Oh I am not criticizing… you are worthy of my advice and fixing it will improve your magecraft by 3%... on top of whatever gains you accrue with experience”. Silent, the rotund man nodded and looked back at him, as the japanese man asked “That… that was it?”. He nodded, saying “Should be. After all-” and stopped as suddenly the elevator closed, the japanese man yelling “What!? Why!?”. Running, he slammed on the door, turning to Oshira-sama who spiritualized and went to investigate. Then he heard it. “MANITOU…. MANITOU… MANITOU… MANITOU… MANITOU…” Winpe’s voice cried out. “What the hell!?” the japanese man yelled. “Master, we must flee! It’s still here!” Helldog yelled, running to a window and breathing fire. “Dammit!” the rotund man yelled, moving and punching a window himself. Turning, he yelled “No, no! Focus up! Silky, use-” but was interrupted as Winpe’s voice increased in volume, yelling “MANITOU. MANITOU. MANITOU. MANITOU. MANITOU. MANITOU”. Silky for her part was now firing bufu spells into a nearby window, saying something inaudible. He yelled but no words were audible over Winpe as he slammed his scimitar into the window furiously. He sensed what was happening. The prana in the air was increasing rapidly. In a few minutes, he'll begin suffocating… or it was preparing something. He already had retracted his ‘Field’, Yet, even reinforced he couldn’t break the window. “Dammit!” he yelled “Break already!” though no one heard him. MANITOUMANITOUMANITOUMANITOUMANITOUMANITOUMANITOUMANITOU” it yelled, as the glow from the screens increased to impossible levels. 

 

Yet all he could think was a few things. Was this how he died? He had dedicated his life to the path of the lion; one of a king when mighty and loyal when not. Being obedient to superiors and being right in any argument so long as he was stronger. Might makes right was his code and creed and yet… that woman. She pointed out flaws in it. She was mighty, yet she only questioned him and did not assume rightness. She let him, an enemy, live when she could’ve easily slain him. In fact… she tried to right his path… yet as he turned, he realized it was a pointless gesture. He was going to die without answering that woman. He dropped his scimitar. He sat down and pulled his COMP to him. He played a few keys and his Silky vanished. The other two yelled but he couldn’t hear over Winpe. He didn’t even hear his COMP’s melody as he turned on a music program. He leaned back against the wall, staring at the ceiling. Frowning, he wondered… Was he ever right at all in his life? Then… he felt intense heat and light. The last second of his life seemingly stretched to eternity… and finally, he felt sweet, sweet nothings. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

He Who Speaks to Souls



Nemissa

 

She gasped. When the ball impacted her, she felt herself being torn from Hitomi. She wouldn’t allow that however. Relying on her primal instincts, she fought back. She ripped it away and pushed. It wouldn’t surrender… so she tried to absorb it. This scared it and instead of just leaving pulled them elsewhere. When she didn’t stop, it tore itself away from her and fled. She was highly annoyed. It dared to try to take her body from her. As she came to, having done that battle mentally, she found herself… Someplace strange. All around her were buildings whose architecture didn’t match one another. A japanese pagoda tower for example stood right next to an ancient medieval castle. As she walked, she came across a punk looking person walking around. “Yo” she stated, then asking “Where am I?”. “Huh…? Oh. This is the player base area. We can build whatever the hell we want. No rules… well. Can’t make shit on claimed space… though we can try to ‘forcefully’ renovate… why? Look’in for someplace in particular?”. Nodding, the punk responded “Ah… well tour maps over there”. Nodding, Nemissa then followed the punk's directions. As she stared at the map, Hitomi took over to say “No way… we’re in… Paradigm X…?”. 

 

Rin

 

She gritted her teeth in distaste. She had tried to stop it. That… ‘thing’ from doing its kamikaze attack on Nemissa. She had sensed it the moment it detached from Carol J. She listened as Emiya went over to comfort Arata and said “I’m sorry I wasn’t fast enough… if I’d known…”. Arata was unresponsive which she expected. She walked over and focused her extra senses. There were mana signatures. Pulling out the last two gems she had, she decided to try to hone in on them… one failed, as she expected, yet the other worked… and pointed somewhere. Smiling, she called out “Sanagi! Good news! Your friends are alive!”. Seeing him react, he looked over asking “R-Really!? Where is she!?”. Rin shrugged, holding up the gem and said “Dunno. I’ve just got a direction… only works if she’s alive”. Arata stood, saying “Let’s go! She’s got to be in trouble!” and then ran off. She chuckled slightly at the action, mumbling to herself “Guess he hasn’t gotten it yet… oh well” and then walked in the same direction, saying “Emiya! We’re going!”. Emiya nodded, sighing and saying “Got it…” and then began to walk, but stopped, then yelled “Tohsaka!”. She reinforced her legs and quickly leapt away, narrowly avoiding the guitar of Carol J. “Persistent!” she stated, landing and pulling out the last gem she had “Sadly, you miss-” but was interrupted as Carol J said “Tsk… dammit… everythin’s gone ta hell…”. Moving the guitar into position, he took a deep breath… and then sighed, dropping the guitar, saying “I’m done… I’ve lost my flame… this… this just ain’t it for me”. He turned to begin leaving as Tohsaka yelled “Hey! Get back here I-” but was interrupted as Carol J stated “I don’t know much ‘bout the society. They just handed me a comp and put me in touch with clients. This gig? ‘Find the snoop at Algonsoft NS’. Hired by Akuma Nishi… but I’m done. See ya. I’ll be play’in on tha streets” and promptly headed for the back exit. She frowned but let him go. After all, he was effectively just a regular human. She knew he had magic circuits but it was clear they only powered his summons. Turning away, she said aloud “Let’s go Shirou… we should make sure Sanagi is fine”. 

 

However, she was shocked. Arata, once they made it to Lunch’s SUV, suddenly said “We gotta get to base. Nemissa is there”. Raising an eyebrow, Lunch fingered towards the back saying “Gert in… I don’t get it either but… I guess we’ll get an explanation soon enough”. As she got in, Emiya asked “How… Could she get there? She was with us…”. Lunch stated “Dunno. Boss don’t get it either… but he did say the circumstances were weird and we had to hear in person”. Arata smiled, saying “At least she’s alive”. As they drove, Lunch asked “Hey… uhhhh… Tohsaka was it? Is teleportation possible?”. Thinking, she stated “I think it is… i’ve never come across a method but… I’ve heard of some mages known short-range methods”. Six then said “Well… we didn’t see Nemissa leave, yet now she’s at the base… and even if she left immediately-” but Emiya interrupted, saying “To be blunt… we’re shocked too. We thought she was dead. Our enemy… kind of tried a kamikaze attack”. Frowning, Lunch whispered “Damn magic… didn’t even-...” and sighed, saying “Well, let’s get back. I’m sure Nemissa is worried. 

 

Arata

 

He didn’t know why he believed Lunch about Nemissa. He stared at the computer screen with Shirou, Rin, Lunch, and Six. Hachi and Spooky stood back, talking about what they themselves figured out. “H…. huh….?” Rin slowly mumbled “S-Sanagi? Wh-what am I st-staring at?”. He replied slowly “I… I think that’s… Nemissa. In Paradigm X”. “H-how is she there, S-sanagi?” Shirou asked. “Okay, clear away, I’m coming out!” Nemissa announced suddenly. All of them jumped away, unsure what was about to happen as suddenly the screen began to flash rapidly. When it became a steady glow, a ball of light emerged. Staring, he was amazed as Nemissa formed into her natural state. Outstretching both arms as if to say ‘Tada’, Nemissa stated “Pretty cool right? I can surf the net! Literally!”. Rin stuttered “Wh-wh-what? What just happened!? Did you really just perform true magic!?”. Shirou himself gawked and said “I… I dunno…. She was on the screen one second and now… she’s here…”. Nemissa smirked, saying “I think it’s that guy’s power. I didn’t see him around and assumed he ran off in Paradigm X”. Looking at them, Spooky stated “Well… this is eye opening. That means whatever attacked you guys is still on the loose?”. “W-w-wait! We don’t know that! For all we know-” but stopped as Nemissa said “Well I couldn’t do this before. Now I can. How do you explain that miss magus?”. Rin visibly frowned but simply said “I can’t… but it’s impossible to believe that it just happened to have true magic-levels of power and never used it on us”. Shrugging, Nemissa simply stated “Well whatevs… hey, Tsukamoto, c’mon. Let’s go in”. “Eh…?” was all he managed to say as Nemissa suddenly took his hand and the next thing he knew they were standing in Paradigm X. 

 

“Wh-what…?” He asked, looking around. “Cool isn’t it?” Nemissa asked, Hitomi taking over and yelling “No it’s not! It’s terrifying! We’re not supposed to ACTUALLY be here!”. Frowning, he thought about it. Gripping his hand and then looking around, he realized that while Hitomi was right, it was a bit less dire than she was making it out to be. After all, at the hideout they had a full VR set for specific purposes and with it they could more or less experience Paradigm X live. Further, he knew for a fact that something tried to steal his soul through the connection he had so there was little difference in that regard. Looking at Nemissa, who took back control, he stated “It isn’t that different… things feel more real but… thinking about before… the level of danger is unchanged”. Looking at him, Hitomi took over, frowning with bent down brows, and said “Y-yeah… that’s true I guess…” before Nemissa asked “Before…?”. He sighed, saying “Yeah… that alley over there?” pointing at it as he continued “Moowis… he tried to steal my soul over there. Hitomi saw it herself… I only survived-” and was cut off as a familiar voice echoed out “Because of me”. He turned and saw a floating rabbit giving off a blue glow. “You… your voice… you saved me!” He stated. It nodded, saying “Yes… I come because destiny calls once more”. 

 

Rin

 

She couldn’t believe her eyes. Nemissa had suddenly turned herself and Sanagi into raw prana and then entered the computer. Her gem tracking Nemissa went wild, throwing the arrow inside in every direction before firmly pointing in a single direction. On the screen, she saw Arata Nemissa standing with Arata. “What… what’s going… on?” She asked, completely baffled. “I-I dunno!” Lunch stated “This… there’s no way this can be possible! You can’t just digitize yourself like that! To do that would… would…” when suddenly Emiya stated saying “Would require a miracle… right?” and stared right at her as she looked at him. The stern glare she saw flickered wildly, and she believed deeply he was worried. This was a near worst-case scenario. She just bore witness to the flagrant use of true magic in front of non-magic users… no. Whatever Nemissa did, it wasn’t Heaven’s Feel. This new form of true magic likely was completely unheard of… at least, she feared that. If she actually examined her memories for anything similar, the magecraft practiced by the Ainsworth family was similar. However she couldn’t confirm. She’d need to study their magic and the chances of them willingly relinquishing their research was next to none… and she wasn’t keen on openly attacking another magus family for their research. That was a quick way to make lifelong and beyond enemies. Sighing deeply, she stated “For her sake, I hope it’s just magecraft…”. Looking at them, Spooky asked “Why…? Is it bad if it’s a miracle?”. 

 

She hesitated, not wanting to drag them further in but Shirou stated “Rin… they’re already deep. At this point, is it wise to keep them unaware?”. Rin, frowning, said “Clocktower won’t tolerate it… you know the risks behind that. The only way around it…” and was interrupted as Shirou stated “Is to have them taken on as apprentices right? I know. We do have one person that can help”. Frowning deeply, Rin stated “Emiya-san. I respect you but are you seriously suggesting I ask her for help?”. She cringed at the nod, but sighed. It was ultimately the best move. “We can put this off for now if ya need it… but like your friend said. We’re deep. It’s only going to go deeper… and I wanna be there all the way. It’s why I started the spookies” Spooky stated suddenly. He turned to Lunch, asking “Hook yourself up. Hachi, keep an eye on comms going in and out. We need to keep all scents off them so snuff any finding Nemissa and Sanagi weird. If our enemies figure out what’s up, it’s gonna mean trouble. Six, patrol the area. No weapons, just eyes”. All of the members nodded and got to work. Hachi hooked up his laptop and began working while Lunch began to set up his VR headset. Six left the hideout entirely. As she looked at the screen and then Spooky, she stated “You are dedicated… aren’t you? Even if I wiped your mind, you have a contingency or two ready”. Nodding, Spooky stated “The moment magic entered the mix, I made about ten. Half of them are randomized, so I can’t directly deal with them… and two I have only vague hints about how to deal with them”. Laughing, Rin replied “Not sure if that’s impressive or worrying… fine. If you insist… Shirou. Would you wait here? I’m going to see her and I’d like someone watching here”. Shirou frowned but nodded, saying “Alright. I will”. Looking back at ‘Spooky’ she stated “I hope you’re ready. We have a few things to go over before we continue” and turned, leaving the hideout. Turning, Spooky said “Hachi. Tell Six I’m stepping out for a minute” and left with her. She bit her lip hoping this was the right decision. She knew what she had to ask Ginko. She just hoped Spooky was ready for it. 

 

Arata

 

“What destiny?” Hitomi asked Kinap, now in the form of a floating glowing bunny. “Tell me. Did I tell you my title?” Kidnap asked. Shaking his head, Kinap replied “I am known as ‘He Who Speaks to Souls’. As such, I often am involved in the dead… I come bearing information from one such recently deceased”. Frowning, he listened as Kinap continued “He seeks relief. Answers that only the living can provide… Thus I must task you with this quest young Tsukamoto. Go to the airport and soothe the soul of young Judah Singe. I cannot give him the answers he seeks”. Before he could answer, Nemissa suddenly said “Wait a second, why should we? I know ya helped him but what obligation do we have?”. Kinap was silent for several moments before saying “You will not go unrewarded. This will deepen your understanding of the society… and set you on track towards solving the crisis about to befall your town”. Eyes widened, he asked “What… what crisis?”. “I speak of the end. Amami City houses a dark secret that if unchecked will end all we know”. He asked “What is the secret? Maybe we can stop it now”. Kidnap shook its head, saying “I could tell you now… but doing so will hasten the inevitable. As you are… you will die”. “We get it” Nemissa said “So how do we get ready for it?”. “For now, continue your journey. You must go to the Amami Airport. There, you will receive some answers and continue the path to salvation from it” Kidnap explained “Be careful though. After this, the enemy will become aware of you and will move in earnest. You must make allies that can back you… or you may lose more than you gain”. He nodded, saying “Understood. I’ll be careful… and I’ll take care of this soul. Just… are you sure?”. With a nod, Kinap stated “I am confident you can handle… then again, I suppose you have no choice” before suddenly flying off. 

 

“Well… we should-” Nemissa began, clearly her mood brought down when she suddenly brightened up and said “One thing real quick” and began walking, yelling “C’mon Tsu- Sanagi!”. He followed her directly into the clothing store as Nemissa stated “I’ve been dying to get some new clothes. I’ve been wearing this style for three days now so it’s only natural to change, right?”. Frowning, he was about to say something when Nemissa dragged him suddenly into the store. “Wait here!” Nemissa said excitedly, heading into the changing rooms after taking a bundle of clothes. Sighing, he muttered “Well… fine… probably for the best…”. He listened as Hitomi and Nemissa bickered about what to wear, Hitomi clearly objecting to revealing clothing and Nemissa objecting to ‘prudish’ clothing. Then he saw her walk out in an outfit that had him staring. Not quite skintight but a form-fitting leather long-sleeve jacket and pants with black leather platform heels and a black leather choker. The strange thing was she left the front open. “Like it?” Nemissa asked, staring at him with half-open eyes. He was about to respond when Hitomi took over, whispering angrily “No, no, no! I absolutely refuse! This is too much! Even for-” then Nemissa interjected, asking “Oh then you want the other one? I can change”. Upon receiving no answer, Nemissa stated “I’ll take this”. The clerk nearby said “Great. That’ll be-” but stopped as Nemissa boldly stated “Nah, I’ll just take it. Bye!” and left. He stared wide eyed at the blatant disregard for norms and followed quickly as the Clerk yelled suddenly “Hey! You have to pay for that!”. As he reached Nemissa, she turned and said “Alright, I’m done. Let’s head” and grabbed his shoulder. Next second he knew, he was staring at a confused and baffled group. 

 

Rin

 

She entered the Gourmaden. Mary stood waiting, staring with empty eyes. “Welcome” Mary greeted “Are you here to see her?”. Nodding, Spooky looked around and took in every detail. Mary looked at Spooky and asked “Is he accompanying you?”. “Yes” She responded “He’s… I’ll vouch for him”. Nodding, Mary turned and said “Follow me then” and began walking. She followed and Spooky did too after a second. He kept his hands in his pockets and said nothing but was clearly paying attention. She half-wished he wasn’t so attentive or perceptive, as it would open an alternative to what was ahead… on the other hand, she knew that this had to be how things went. So when she entered Ginko’s room, she entered and Spooky followed behind. He turned when the door closed and she stated “Don’t. It’s better this way”. Spooky turned to her, but said nothing as Ginko stood from the nearby mirror, asking “Hello Tohsaka. Have you given my offer any thought?”. Nodding, she stated “I will agree to the terms… but I need something in exchange”. Raising an eyebrow, Ginko stared at her before looking at Spooky and narrowing her eyes, saying “Tohsaka… why is a human here?”. “It’s related to that… he’s unaware and needs to be made aware. I can’t take on an apprentice for reasons I won’t disclose… if you agree to take him on, in addition to your prior offer, I’ll give what information I can… or if the situation calls for it, need to” She explained, gesturing to Spooky as she continued “To be clear… the situation has drastically changed from our last talk”. Frowning, Ginkgo pushed the cigarette she had been smoking with a golden long cigarette holder into her mirror and said aloud “Return to me. We have an update”. Sitting back down, she said “Let’s wait a moment. She should be returning soon. Another member of my… ‘family’.”. 

 

“I’ve been examining some of the oddities, including the rumors of ‘strange animals’ in the city. I can confirm their veracity among other things… what disturbs me is the method” Tohsaka explained “Tell me… what do you know of the Holy Grail war?”. An orange haired woman had joined them that wore white business casual clothes and sat on the bed next to Spooky. Tohsaka sat across from Ginko as they responded “More than an outsider should but no specifics. I know seven powerful familiars are summoned by seven mages and a contest is held for who is worthy of the mana it produces”. Nodding, Tohsaka stated “I cannot confirm 100% that the magic behind that ritual is behind the one occurring in Amami City… but the similarities are undeniable. If things progress, I fear a sixth war may break out… this time, one that mages may not control”. “That… would be a disaster” Ginko stated, her expression lowering into a glare, though not directed at her. “Indeed. Especially since this time… the familiars are actual phantasmal beasts pulled from the Other Side” Tohsaka stated “If I didn’t see them myself, I’d have thought someone copied my family’s work”. “Wait… your family made the holy grail war?” the orange haired woman asked “I thought-” but was cut off by Ginko as she said “Reiho. Not the point. Fact is that Tohsaka here is the only remaining member that knows anything of the original ritual. Now…” and then turned their attention to her, asking “How does the human factor in?”. Tohsaka sighed, explaining “He is the leader of a hacking group that uncovered quite a bit about what is occurring. I’ll let him inform you but… it’s at a point that it’s impossible to remove them from this incident without risking harm to them. To protect them, he has offered to do whatever is necessary… including becoming a Magus”. “Are you mad!? Why bring him here then!?” Ginko yelled, to which she responded “I cannot take on apprentices and you are the only one that can offer any relief to this situation… trust me. I’ve gone over all my options and this is my best one”. 

 

With a sigh after several silent minutes, Reiho stated “Man… that sucks… alright. Fine. Spooky, you sure? To be a magus is to walk with death”. “Reiho. I did not-” Ginko began but Reiho interrupted, saying “I know but we both know there’s no better option… or are we gonna just let Tohsaka-san walk out with her info and let a bunch of Humans that know run unchecked?”. Ginko was silent for several seconds before saying “Fine… just know I won’t accept replacements. He’s your choice and your responsibility”. Nodding, Reiho stated “I know. Then again… he was too right?”. Ginkgo sighed and Reiho turned to Spooky as he stated “I get it I think… Then again even if I don’t know, I have no choice. I need to protect my team”. “Dedicated… like that. Serve you well as a ‘priestess’ magus” Reiho replied, smirking. Staring, Spooky could only ask “What?” before Reiho laughed and said “Ginko won’t take on just anyone. So your only option is me or the ‘summoner’ magus but… well he’s not here. So you’re stuck with me. Our clan works pretty different from normal ones”. Blinking, Reiho let out a laugh and said “Don’t worry I’m not about to stick you in woman’s clothing, funny as that might be… though we do have a lot of work to do to make you into a magus worthy of the position”. “I… uhh… great” Spooky stated, sighing deeply. “So. What has transpired that made Tohsaka act in such a way?” Ginko asked to which Spooky responded, “Well… Two of my members are effectively magus. One developed magic circuits when he got ahold of something called a Comp and the other got possessed by whatever its previous owner stored in it… at least as they explain it. Admittedly, I wasn’t there for either event”. Sighing, Ginko looked at her and said “I see… yes… that is quite deep… and being unaware, they likely embroiled the rest of the team, nearly dooming them… however, if this man, their leader, is also a magus… then perhaps the clock tower would make an exception with some concessions”. She cleared her throat and added “With your clear backing, of course”. Nodding, Ginko was about to respond when Reiho stated “Wow… you knew? That they really don’t wanna mess with us?”. She smirked, saying “Give me some credit… I am a Second Owner myself. I make sure to know who’s territory I’m stepping into”. 

 

“Then that concludes it. Reiho will groom young Masahiro into becoming her successor while I will formally endorse the ‘Spookies’ as my underlings. That will protect them mostly. No doubt clock tower will push but so long as Reiho does her job properly, it will be fine… especially if she manages to finish before they become aware” Ginko stated, looking at her “Now. Tell me the details of the grail war and what similarities you noticed”. Nodding, Rin stated “It’s the summoning itself. Somehow, those devices effectively act as the ritual to summon the ‘familiar’ and grant largely the same benefits… and costs. I don’t know what the makers are using to supply the vast amounts of prana that phantasmals need to exist over here, but they did it correctly. If I didn’t know any better and hadn’t checked, I’d say they stole my research”. Ginko placed a hand to her chin, as if thinking, as Reiho looked and said “Well… guess it’s far more sophisticated than we thought”. Frowning, Ginko muttered something before saying “Agreed… I never laid eyes on it but I’ve known of the device… Tohsaka-san. What we say here does not leave this room. Understood?”. She nodded as Reiho then said “We’ve got a Comp ourselves and utilize it. Ours works… a bit differently. Unlike the Phantom Society, we generally just tap into the nearest leyline for it”. Raising an eyebrow, she asked “I’ve heard that name before… What is that? Phantom Society?”. Ginko sighed and said “Yes… that is our next topic. Masahiro was it? Tell me about your encounters with our side recently. Leave no detail out”. Nodding, Spooky took a deep breath and began. 

 

Masahiro

 

“I heard a call between a what we now call summoner named Carol J and who I assume to be his employer, mentioning that he was tracking me. Then, my team burst in and ambushed him. At first, they were being repelled but then Sanagi, the summoner of our group, defeated his foes and turned his attention on Carol J, forcing him to retreat. We acquired some items from this and went back to our mobile base to examine them” he explained “After some analysis we triggered a lock on the Comp and had to bring it here. According to him, the master tasked him with retrieving stolen property last found at the warehouses… There he ran into some trouble but succeeded and unlocked it. After that, we discovered a secret forum and have been monitoring their activity… it’s how we discovered Carol J was going to try to summon Kokabiel”. Reiho, wide-eyed, asked “What!?”. Ginko looked at Reiho and said “I know… not good…. Did he succeed?”. Shaking his head, Spooky answered “No. Instead he summoned something calling itself Moowis according to Sanagi. After that… well... “ and paused. He saw Rin glaring at him while Ginko stared coldly. Reiho asked “Then what? We need to know”. Looking at Rin, she turned away from him but nodded ever so slightly. Sighing, he asked “This… isn’t leaving this room so fine. I’ll trust you… but one member, Hachi, was playing Paradigm X when he said he ran into Nemissa. Knowing where they were, I called Lunch. Lunch called Sanagi… and well… turned out, somehow, she was physically there”. Silence pervaded the space for what felt like dozens of minutes. Then, Reiho spoke herself, frowning and asking “I assume there’s more”. 

 

Nodding, he finished with “Yes. Nemissa confirmed she could move between that digital space and the real world…. She claimed that she got the power from Moowis when he tried to absorb her and failed. I… I can’t say if it’s true”. Reiho, fingers under chin in a thinking pose, muttered “Theoretically… she could’ve reversed the input and output flows of prana if she were an adept magus studying prana flow specifically…. But to actually put it into practice…”. Ginko then spoke up, saying “It doesn’t account for the ability to make the digital into reality… the implications are… I’m sorry. This is something even we, the Kuzunoha, can’t stop the clock tower from inquiring about”. Tightening his fists, he said “Then… becoming an apprentice… is a worthless gesture?”. Shaking her head, Ginko corrected with “Whoever this ‘Nemissa’ possessed cannot be protected by reputation alone. However, the rest can. That said… hmmm… I’m troubled”. Rin, biting her lip, asked “So. We have to abandon Nemissa… is that it?”. “Not… exactly” Reiho stated “If we can suppress knowledge of her power, we might be able to… alternatively…” and Rin finished with “If we can seal her away again… turning that over might get whoever is possessed relief. They’ll still be a magus… but they won’t need to worry about the clock tower getting involved”. Looking at Spooky, Ginko said “However we have one saving grace. According to my sources, there is a lord within the Clock Tower forbidding any contact with Amami City… to the point of almost causing in-fighting. As a result, its action in regards to this city is heavily delayed. We still have time to correct things”. Looking at Reiho, Ginko said sternly “Well then. He is yours. Train him as you see fit… however, do remember no replacements are acceptable”. Reiho laughed, saying “Yeah, yeah. Alright Masahiro-san. C’mon let's get you to my room”. Blinking, before he could ask Reiho suddenly left. Rin said “Better hurry… This is a rare opportunity for you”. He hesitated but stood and followed quickly. 

 

Rin

 

She sighed as the door closed. Ginko looked at her. “Well then” Ginko said “I trust there is more to it?”. Nodding, Rin stated “I’m perturbed. How can machines hold prana? It should be impossible”. “I don’t know the design myself… both theirs and ours. However, our other agent does. He was trained and succeeded by another” Ginko responded “Further, he won’t be coming. He is focusing on another matter entirely. The Phantoms are trying to resurrect the corpse of Daidarabotchi”. Her frown deepened. That was bad. It was thought to have gone to the other side. However, if it was over here… but her thoughts were interrupted as Ginko stated “Of course I now suspect it was a ploy to attract his attention… still. It cannot be ignored. However, I had Reiho accompany me here”. Looking at Ginko now, she asked “So. Who is Phantom Society? You never did answer me”. Nodding, Ginko stated “Our oldest enemy. I’d almost say before Clock Tower, but they started roughly the same time. I’m not sure of their internal structure, but they’re an organization that works from the shadows. Its leaders are unknown but they have one goal; the complete domination of the world”. She frowned, stating “That… why isn’t Clock Tower-” but stopped, realizing the answer. Nodding, she stated “Clock Tower is many things… to the point that they could very well claim a monopoly… except Phantasmal Summoning, something even they have never done. We, who have the means to do it ourselves, are poised perfectly to counter their activities… on top of one other secret… that I won’t divulge. Only Reiho is allowed”. Rin nodded, saying “Sensible…”. 

 

Ginko continued “This isn’t to say we are solely entrusted with foiling their ploys… Clock Tower uses its political capital to foil them where magic cannot solely do so. For example, in America a bid was made for control of it. Its entire government system was poised to be corrupted by them solely. Interference from the tower however instead made it a mixed bag and prevented the society from holding sole control”. “Their reach is far… or do they-” Rin began before Ginko stated “It is unknown from where they hail. They have attempted such moves in all parts of the globe. China, Japan, Russia, Egypt. They have caused incidents and made power plays everywhere”. Then Ginko looked away, saying “However… Amami City is different”. Looking at Ginko, Rin asked “Why?”. “Simple. It wasn’t until two years ago I had any idea they were involved in this city” Ginko answered “Before then, I assumed Nishi to be some sort of power-hungry magus or a very charismatic if ambitious human. Then… then I received reports of one of their stronger members being sighte”. Looking at her, Rin stated “What is their name?”. “Their name? Their handle is ‘the Hand of Phantom’ but their real name is Daniel Finnegan” Ginko answered. 

 

Masahiro

 

As he walked in, he noticed Reiho’s demeanor change immediately. Going from carefree to serious as she said “To be a magus is to walk with death. Do you understand this?”. “No” he admitted “I get that it's dangerous but… walking to death sounds like it might be more esoteric”. Reiho shook her head, saying “Close. So close… but it’s fine. You have some time to understand… Regardless, we begin your education immediately. Let’s start with the basics…. Mana, od, and Prana”. She then moved two chairs to face each other and sat in one like an interviewer might. He internally cringed at a memory but sat down as Reiho explained “Since you are starting from nothing, I will skip the questioning phase and move to the informing phase. All Magi use magical energy, Prana being the catch-all term. However, there are two distinct fields; Mana which is environmental Prana and Od, internal prana. Od also is thought to be the summation of one's soul as depletion, even momentarily, of it brings about permanent death… with some exceptions. As such, Magi tend to use Mana, doing so by absorbing it from the atmosphere into their magic circuits, given to them by mystic codes forged and improved by ancestors. Usually, a Magi is born with dormant circuits however and so can do some things”. She then deepened her gaze as she said “Mystic codes are the culmination of a magi’s research and life. They pass it down their line so it may continue. Normally, a magus is only capable of one Mystic Code. However… we’re different”. He nodded, absorbing the information and asked “How so?”. Reiho looked to the left at a small shrine that… he just now noticed. How had he missed it? 

 

“The Kuzunoha Clan maintains three Mystic Codes. Each inheritor takes on the responsibilities associated with the Mystic Code and their powers. Like most families, when our time is coming we improve upon it and prepare it for transfer… however, unlike them we do not generally give it to direct descendants… nice if we can, but that’s… not always an option” Reiho explained, elaborating “We are enemies of the Phantom Society, a magical organization hellbent on world domination. They are not as varied in the practice of magic as the world's leading magical organization, Clock Tower, but the one magic they have and excel at that the Clock Tower lacks completely is Phantasmal Summoning… this allows them to ignore and even war with the Clock Tower. Due to this though, sometimes, having a family is not an option. As a result, we take pupils and groom them to become successors someday”. He nodded, understanding and saying “Makes sense… happens with humans too. I gotta ask though, what if you die in battle and your code gets stolen?”. Reiho stated “That is an additional purpose for the three branches of the Kuzunoha. If one is lost, the other two will work tirelessly to retrieve the lost one. Well… really it’s almost always one of the other two and ours”. Raising an eyebrow, he asked “Our branch… ‘Priestess’ was it? Why that title?”. 

 

Looking at him directly, then the shrine, then him, she asked “What do you see over there?”. He looked closely and said “I see… a small wooden shrine, kinda like a roadside one from a history book. It’s got some ancient-looking writing and a mirror on it. Some incense is burning. I think the writing says ‘Eimoterratu’ but it's too faded to be clear”. Smiling and laughing, Reiho said “Well. That’s a good sign… but that’s why. Our mystic codes are not handled by use exclusively. The other branches don’t know… but we do have a sort of ‘patron saint’ watching over us”. Looking at her and then the shrine, he felt shocked. It must have shown as when he looked back he saw a soft smile from Reiho as he asked “Wait… that name… I mispronounced it but…”. With a confirming nod, Reiho said to him “She doesn’t exactly physically manifest… but magi can attune to a certain rock and receive curses or blessings from her. Overseeing the handling of our code is among them. When I die, she’ll transfer my knowledge and circuits to the code and pass it to my successor… or the next magi she approves of”. He looked back, squinted, then looked at her with narrowed eyes and said “Wait… so I could still be rejected?”. Shaking her head, Reiho said “It’s very very hard to get her to reject someone her blessed picks. The fact you see that shrine? Something about you tickles her fancy. Not a wholesale acceptance but barring you doing something especially heinous and blasphemous she’ll respect my wishes”. He sighed in relief as Reiho continued, saying “As I understand it, you only are accepting this to protect your group, right? What was it called? The ‘Spookies’?”. He nodded, saying “I formed it… because I wanted to discover the secret of this city… something was always suspicious but I never knew what”. With a smile, Reiho stated “Well… I hope that you won’t regret it. Truly. Being a magi of the Kuzunoha is wonderful. At least, my experience is… now. Let’s get you some magic circuits”. Flinching, he said “A-already? Isn’t it… premature?”. Shaking her head, she answered “Nah. Just go to the shrine, kneel, and pray for about ten minutes. Well… really just think to Amaterasu as if you had a conversation. She’ll forge preliminary circuits on your body”. Blinking, Reiho answered his query before he could make it, saying “Don’t worry it’s harmless. I myself was just a normal human when I got mine… she won’t give more than your body can take”. He nodded, sighing and standing, saying “Well… no time like the present”. He then walked to the shrine, kneeling on one knee and asked “Anything I should know?”. Reiho thought and then said “Yeah. Don’t ask about Kagutsuchi, her parents… oh, or about Kusanagi. They’re sore subjects for her”. Turning, he felt a puff of smoke blow on his face. He had a bad feeling. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

Amami Airport



Arata

 

“Are you really going to listen to something unexplainable like Kinap!? It’s crazy!” Six exclaimed loudly. “I agree!” Lunch said “The airport is swarming with summoners! How are you going to get in!”. He flashed Carol J’s id and said “This… you said it was a digital ID right? Can’t you use it to create a new ID?”. Shaking his head, Lunch was about to say no but stopped. He silently stared away for several minutes as Six said “See, he can’t! It’s crazy! You two’ll get killed in-” but stopped when Lunch said “I could…. I could backtrace their IPs on the summoner net and then infiltrate their members database. If I make ya a recruit, it should fly under the radar…. Plus they are understaffed at the moment… the perfect storm ta slip in unnoticed…”. Turning to Lunch rapidly, Six stated “C’mon man! See reason! We can’t take on-” but was stopped as Hachi said “We gotta… we’re deep man. We gotta see this through. They may not know us but they won’t stop”. Nodding, he turned to Six and said “If what you said is true… our leader is making a big sacrifice. We really gonna spit at him? Lunch… do it” and handed him the ID. As Lunch worked, Six sighed and said “Lemme make some calls… I’ll try ta upgrade your gear” and walked out of the base. “Man… so tense. Just lighten up. It’s not that bad” Nemissa stated as Hachi laughed and said “I mean… we have been in tighter spots before… this’ll be fine”. 

 

Lunch took only half an hour. Six in that time returned with a pair of duffel bags. Each held new equipment. Six however, looked weary. “What’s wrong?” he asked and Six responded “Sorry to ask Sanagi but… well… kinda gonna need some cash. My account got wiped”. Frowning, he pulled out his wallet and pulled out 5k yen he had, saying “Sorry it’s all I got on me right now… but my cards there. Just in case I don’t make it to wire you some extra myself”. Smirking slightly, he replied “Thanks but… at that point, might as well just have Lunch and Hachi hook me up… mmmm… maybe I will. Either way, thanks”. Nodding, he looked as Nemissa picked up some of the gear inside and frowned. “I get the point but.. Ugh. It’s so unfashionable…” and Hitomi took over, stating “Just wear it Nemissa, we need to protect ourselves”. Thinking for a moment, Nemissa sighed and agreed, moving to put it on… when suddenly, as she slipped each piece on it morphed. The kevlar plating became the leather suit she acquired inside Paradigm X and the armguards became spiked wristbands. The gas mask instead morphed into the choker she wore and the books became new platform heels. Nemissa showed nothing but glee at this development, putting some of them on immediately. Meanwhile, he would have to wear the new armguards, professionally made runner shoes, gas mask, and kevlar vest. He then looked at their weapons and ammo. They had each been given a new military grade knife and some kind of shotgun. A box of shells laid next to each. Finally, they all had wireless earbuds at the ready. 

 

“Got it” Lunch said “You’re officially a new recruit for the Phantom Society… if anyone asks, you got trained at the Sea Ark and you got recruited by Carol J ten months ago. Also, your handles are Riamoto Kia and Nissa Jiao”. Nodding, he asked “What about Nemissa?”. “She’s a magus. ‘Parently, they employ them too ta support their summoners and keep an eye on various going ons in the society a’ magic” Lunch answered, looking at Nemissa “Just remember; Blow it and you’ll be swarmed. Based on what I saw, some big names are gonna be present so… your only shot is flee’in”. Nemissa for once was quiet for a few moments before nodding and saying “Don’t worry. I get it. I’ll behave”. Lunch nodded and began to leave, saying “Good… cause this is gonna be the most dangerous yet. C’mon, let’s go”. Him and Nemissa picked up their bags and followed, getting armed inside. Six followed along, operating a laptop to keep in touch with Hachi who handled communications. As they left, Lunch said “Alright you two, get those earbuds in. Need ta make it convinc’in. Hachi’s gonna patch you into a network and then connect ya ta the main one they use… after that, ya gonna have ta find out which network they’re us’in”. “Got it” Nemissa stated, putting hers in and pressing the button, wincing with him as they heard Hachi say loudly “Yooooo! Can you hear me?”. “Too loud Hachi” Six said “Lower the volume 10%”. “Gotcha, gotcha. There, how’s it now?” Hachi asked. He responded “Good… thanks for the help Hachi”. He heard Hachi laughed and said “No prob man, I still owe ya one for gett’in me inta that premium MMO and boost’in me. Now, let’s make sure you get back so we can finally finish burnin’ crusade, ‘kay?”. 

 

They were dropped off down the way and so had to walk for ten minutes to reach the meeting spot. A single japanese man with black shades and a bald head waited. Eventually, he turned and saw them, saying “Who are you two?”. “I’m Riamoto Kia.” he stated while Nemissa answered “Nissa Jiao”. He pulled out a tablet and clicked around before saying “Understood… How did you join our organization?”. “A man calling himself ‘Carol J’ scouted and trained us at the Sea Ark” he answered. Nodding, the man stated “Recruits… figures.. Whatever. We’re using Channel 4256, passcode Finz. Just help the other recruits sweep for pedestrians.. If you find any, just kill them”. He nodded, saying “Understood” and walked off, pulling out his comp and summoning Quinya and Jessup. “That was easy” Nemissa whispered, to which he nodded and said, “Yeah… too easy… be careful. We gotta be in and out”. She nodded and they headed to the elevator. “Dammit” he muttered “Just casually ordering murder… How did this go unnoticed?”. Nemissa frowned herself, responding “Dunno… gotta admit, I’ve only been around for a few days but… this city’s rotten, ain’t it?”. Shaking his head as they walked onto the moving walkway, he turned saying “It wasn’t always like this… five years back, we were a sleepy country town. Sure we had a crime here and there, but most of the time those were outsiders”. Nemissa thought for a few moments and started to say something but then said “I… dunno if that’s better or worse…”. He thought for a moment but ultimately stayed silent. He personally preferred the sleepy town to now… but that was due to the insanity he was experiencing. Without it? Sure there were issues… but fixable ones. His thoughts became interrupted as suddenly he heard something say faintly “Someone… Tell me… please… what is right…? The things I did… were they… right?”. As it faded, he heard Nemissa look around, muttering “What the…?” before turning to him and asking “Did you… feel that?”. Shaking his head, Nemissa stated “I think… Hey, Jessup, you felt that right? That.. feeling of being watched but a bit different?”. Jessup apparated and replied “Yeah… a soul passed us. Not an issue at the moment but once that reality marble the summoners use goes up, we’ll need to be careful… they can absorb prana and gain physical form, even if temporarily”. Nodding, he checked his gear just in case. 

 

As they exited on the second floor, they listened to the radio chatter Lunch fed them guiding them towards the administrative computer on the second floor. The plan had been to ambush the summoner there and take it over to unlock their access to the central elevator. However, radio chatter suggested a problem had arisen. “I said Counter 2 respond! Dammit! Anyone near, respond!”. He considered answering but decided against it. If he was asked, Lunch would alter the connection to make it one way and make it look like a screw up. Alternatively, he could complete the second objective and access the central elevator to get to the basement. As he entered he saw their bodies. They had deep cuts across their chests and the blood on the walls had dried by now. As he approached the console, he said “Jessup, Watch my back…. Nemissa, be ready for trouble”. Nemissa responded “Like I’m not” as he began to manipulate the console. It was fairly simple since it was logged in. He simply used the command console and admin privileges to give himself and Nemissa free access to all the building's facilities and buried the change in the log. He then used his comp to quickly check the airport cameras to see if anyone was coming. He confirmed that they were just now entering the elevator. He closed the console and left quickly, saying “They’re coming up the left side. Hurry”. Nemissa nodded, frowning and saying “I see… I… nevermind, let’s leave through the left elevator”. As they walked, Nemissa whispered into his ear “Don’t turn around but it’s back. That spirit is following us”. He tensed slightly but whispered back “Let’s ignore it for now… I’ll have Quinya and Jessup ready for offensive measures”. Nodding back, Nemissa entered the elevator with them. Before he could make any orders, suddenly it appeared. The visage of an Indian man. 

 

“Young man… with a strong soul… you are like me…” the spirit said “I… want to… speak with you… but elsewhere… the disposal room… see me there…” before the voice faded. Nemissa growled, saying “Dammit he snuck away again! Let’s go there and teach him to not do that!”. He chuckled, saying “You really don’t like it when people get the better of you, huh?” and left the elevator as it dinged that they had arrived. “No! Of course I don’t, would you!?” Nemissa growled, to  which he stopped chuckling and replied “I guess not…. Let’s go see what he has to say, alright?”. As they walked, he heard over the radio “Team 12 here. Counter team 2 taken out. We’ll replace them… be on the lookout. Kuzunoha might be here. Tags found”. “Copy that team 12. Be careful. Finnegan is enroute, so everything has to be ready” a voice said before no more chatter was made. Frowning, he asked “Lunch, you get that? Any idea what it is?”. “Seems like… they’re planning on eliminating something. Called in a bigshot… whatever it is, twenty people are already dead... “. As he frowned, Lunch finished saying “Seems like they’re worried that this ‘Finnegan’ character will kill a bunch of the bigshots if screw ups happen… so be careful and steer clear of him”. Nodding, he replied “Understood” as he entered the Disposal room of the airport. 

 

Stepping inside, Nemissa followed with cold mist emanating from her hands. He himself scanned the room ready for anything. Instead, the ghost appeared again, saying “Welcome… young summoner who… possesses a soul… like mine... “ before gesturing to the central pit of the room “In there lies… my Comp… it is but… a corpse… resting at peace”. The spectre then walked to it and looked down before looking at him expectantly. He followed soon after, Nemissa standing back. In the center of the pit stood a gleaming saxophone that was clearly altered to function like a computer. “It can no longer… play its tune… however…. My phantasms… may yet live, slumbering within… if you would please… wake them from their slumber…” the man requested. He nodded, saying “Jessup, you mind getting me that Comp?”. Jessup apparated, asking “Master… is it really… smart?”. He nodded, looking at the ghost and saying “I was sent here by Kinap to help a wayward soul… and he’s the only one that has bothered us. I can only assume then… he’s the one seeking answers and has answers to give”. The spirit smiled, saying “Ah… Kidnap… I spoke to him a month ago… I was… On the verge of… becoming a wraith… a hater of life... he saved me… so he sent you… I must… thank him if I… ever meet him”. Nodding, as Jessup flew down he asked “He mentioned you know something about the city’s dark secret… Can you tell us?”. The man stared for several long moments before saying “I do not... know the details… but I do know... one piece of the puzzle... Something called... the ‘Manitou Network’... is the center of their schemes”. “Manitou Network…? What is that?” Nemissa asked, the icy mist dissipating from her hands as the man answered “I am not entirely... sure on the technicals… but the properties... of it... supposedly are... the instant transmission... of high data packets… allowing for even... petabyte transmissions... to occur seamlessly”. Looking down, he continued saying “The motivation... for this is... to allow phantasms... to wander the network... Some of them... are massive in... file size... How it can... accomplish this... I don’t know... but somehow... the society... discovered a means... to allow phantasmal beasts... to enter digital space… it also… allows summoners… ease when summoning… new beasts...”. 

 

“No way…” he muttered, realizing the implications. He hadn’t been into magic long, but from how Rin reacted to magic and technology mixing was unusual if not impossible. For the society to have found a way to go beyond that he knew was big. “I surmise… from your expression… you realize… the gravity of things…” the man stated. He nodded as Jessup delivered the Comp, saying “Yeah… it means they could theoretically summon phantasms into peoples homes… its… no one is safe”. Shaking his head, he retrieved his comp and connected the two, downloading the phantasms inside. The program handled the transition seamlessly which shocked him and soon confirmed it was complete. The man smiled, saying “I now have… no further attachment… to this world… soon I will fade… but before that… please… tell me… was… the way I lived… right?”. He stared, thinking of an answer as the man slowly dissipated. Before he could speak though, the man simply smiled with downcast eyes before vanishing completely. “He’s… gone…” Nemissa said, staring with a frown “I can’t even… sense that he moved away… it’s just gone…”. He turned to the put, looking at the Comp. He then tossed it back in, saying “I… hope you rest in peace… restless soul” and turned to leave. As he did, he clicked the trigger on the gun just as a feeling of power washed over him, saying “Nemissa. Let’s get out of here. We got-” but was cut off as an announcement came over the communications he was in “Attention all teams. Finnegan is about to engage the demon Winpe. Retreat immediately. If you are on the third floor when he engages, we will not be rescuing you. Repeat, all teams evacuate, Finnegan is about to engage Winpe”. Looking at Nemissa, she nodded to him and said “Let’s get out of here for sure… that was the name we had to avoid at all costs right?”. Nodding, he ran for the door. 

 

They made their escape. They took the central elevator since it was closest. As they ascended and opened on the first floor, they began to leave in a hurry only to encounter their worst fear. A man wearing a white button up shirt, a pair of shoulder straps with gun holsters attached, black jeans and shoes stood before them. His eyes were hidden by his sunglasses but his bearded sneer wasn’t. While no hair was over half an inch long, it was still prominent on his face. He pulled a cigarette out and tossed it aside as he stepped in with four men dressed like professional salarymen followed and said “Well damn. Not your lucky day greenhorns. This elevator is going up”. As he pressed the button he looked down on them, saying “I don’t recall your faces be’in with us… what’re your names?”. “R-Riamoto Kia… she’s-” but was cut off as the man clutched his face in his hand, saying “Not your place”. Nemissa frowned, saying “Ne- Nissa Jiao”. “Sounds chinese” Finnegan stated “I don’t recall any transfers… you recruited here?”. Nodding, she stated “A guy called Carol J recruited and trained us… at Sea Ark”. Finnegan nodded, letting him go and saying “Well he ain’t ‘round anymore, so I guess you’ll be under my wing… first lesson? Don’t die. Second, don’t get in my way…”. After some hesitation, he sneered saying “Don’t blame me. You got the call, same as everyone. Blame luck or fate. Whichever you prefer”. They frowned deeply at the sudden development. 

 

Tatsuya

 

It was pure chance. Happenstance, really. He picked up on that stench again. Not the pure one ‘Nemissa’ emanated. This one simply signified a weaker presence. A minion of sorts. It was coming from the southeast and so that’s the direction he rode now. However, as he did, he used his bike's hands-free phone system to make a call he would regret. The number dialed? Labeled ‘Maya Amano’. As the phone rang, he half hoped the phone wouldn’t pick up. It wasn’t even her personal cell, she had changed numbers after they broke things off. However, he had her work number. He never called it, since he had a personal policy about calling her work number for personal issues. However this, while personal to him, was still business. Nyarlathotep was not something to be ignored and he had a gut feeling he couldn’t handle things alone. Then the phone clicked as he heard a familiar voice answer “Hello this is Yogen-shah News, Amano speaking”. He felt his mouth dry instantly and he hesitated. Long enough that the voice asked “Sir? Do you need something?”. Taking a deep breath, he said “Been a long time… Maya”. The voice now went silent. Then he heard a groan as the voice said “What do you want? Are you that desperate, Suou?”. “Nah… You should know better than to assume I’d call your workplace for that. I’m not that kinda guy” he retorted, but sighed saying “Nah… this ain’t social, it’s business… he’s on the move”. A silence pervaded them beyond the roar of his motorcycle until Maya sighed, asking “So what are you asking for? Backup? Got yourself backed to the wall? Or to be avenged?”. “We both know the damage he could deal if left untested…” he stated, looking at the airport slowly coming into view “I’m not asking for immediate action… my bro just might put out a call and… I thought it only right to ask you personally. Will you answer?”. More silence right until the turnoff came as Maya said “You know I’ll come… but I want in more regularly. I expect an email within an hour”. He laughed, saying “Gonna be a bit hard but I can do it in three… a bit busy following a lead”. Maya groaned, saying “Fine. Just get it to me. Goodbye Suou” and then the line clicked dead. As he rode into the airport, he saw the road closed sign. 

 

“Sorry sir. No pedestrians allowed. For your safety, please come another day… refunds are being offered at this time” the road worker stated lazily, leaning against what appeared at first glance as official work trucks… but he knew better. The trucks were convincing but the attitude wasn’t. Nor was the slightly falling off patch revealing something else. “Huh… weird” he stated “Nothin’ on the news until an hour ago… very sudden. What’s go’in down? I am a merc so maybe-” but was cut off as the worker said “We aren’t accepting outside help at this time and there’s an ongoing crisis that we are not at liberty to disclose… Please leave”. He sighed, turning to leave and even headed for his motorcycle… but stopped and said “Alright but humor me one question… what company does that patch belong to?”. “It’s an official Amami City government patch sir, I work for-” but was cut off as his persona appeared and both men expressed shock. His smirk widened into a smile as he said “Oh ho? A reaction to my Apollo? Well now… that’s interesting . Gonna need an explanation” and turned around fully, cracking his knuckles. Suddenly, a worker grabbed his radio and yelled “C-code 69! Code 69! Host-” but wasn’t able to finish as Apollo flew at the worker and crushed his radio. He reached to the side and opened a golf bag, pulling out a katana. “D-damn you!” a worker yelled before holding a finger at him like a gun and firing a ball of black energy. He laughed, grabbing the ball of energy from the air and hissing. “Heh… that stings a bit. Nice… got some bite. I’ll feel less bad” he stated as Apollo then grabbed the man's head and smashed it into the concrete. Not enough force was applied to crush it, but the road cracked slightly and the man groaned before not moving. While blood leaked out, he could tell through Apollo’s ability to sense all life and heat within a certain radius that the man would live. The other worker, now still as a statue and staring at Apollo, didn’t make another attack. “Now… what’s go’in on?” he asked “Tell me… and I’ll let you go about your day… don’t… and me an’ me will need ta get a bit busy. Capiche?” and proceeded to crush the spell the man had fired at him.

 

Rin

 

She enjoyed an expensive meal while Ginko went over the notes she willingly turned over. Normally, she’d scoff at the idea of sharing her family’s secrets with others. However, absolute secrecy had been sworn and at this point the cost of failure would cost lives. In the past, while the idea might’ve upset her she wouldn’t have changed things if the outcome would be favorable. She hated to admit it, but Shirou influenced her more than she should have allowed. Now, the idea was poison to her. Not impossible for her to swallow, but she wanted to avoid it. It didn’t help that she knew Shirou would object to her reporting the whole affair to clock tower. Thus, her recent action. She wasn’t handing over all the research but she handed over the relevant parts of her family’s research into servant summoning. She had some ideas on how to utilize the practice here, but she wanted to make sure she could. Hence, her turning over the relevant research notes to Ginko. As she sipped her tea, Ginko stated “I… would need time but we can attempt this… the city’s ley lines are strong. Stronger than many”. Raising an eyebrow, she asked “Stronger than Fuyuki?”. Nodding, Ginko responded “Yes, though only recently. I wasn’t sure how but I can confirm all the leylines are strong”. Rin hummed, thinking, before saying “Alright… I’ll try a summoning once you’re prepared then. We need the extra firepower if these guys can summon and command phantasmal beasts”. Nodding, Ginko said “I’ll enlist Reiho’s help… It'll be good training for the soon to be Priestess Masahiro”. Rin giggled a bit at the barb but said nothing, simply standing and saying “Then I’ll bid you good day”. She collected her notes and left. 

 

Arata

 

As they approached, Finnegan stated “I’m invoking my field. Have all agents pull back”. He looked a bit perturbed but his gas mask hid the expression as Finnegan whispered something under his breath. Then suddenly, he felt it. The taxing of maintaining his beasts be lifted completely. Like they received their prana from elsewhere. “There… should be easier on you rookie… dunno why you didn’t invoke yours first but it makes invoking mine easier. Now… stay out here and wait. I gotta do a bit more than take care of it and from reports its powerful”. He simply nodded and watched Finnegan go in with two of the four people he came with. As the door closed, it suddenly locked. He looked at Nemissa and they both nodded. “What are-” one began but stopped short as suddenly yellow lashes wrapped around his head. Before the other could react, with a fierce tug, the man's head was slammed harshly into the wall. At the same time Quinya manifested and its horn wrapped around the other man's head, stifling his scream short. In a few short minutes, the man was out. He looked at Nemissa and approached the door, connecting his Comp to the panel nearby and asked “Lunch, can you hack it?”. He heard the clicks of a keyboard as Lunch responded “Absolutely I can… it’s more Hachi’s thing though so it’ll take a bit”. As he did he heard a cry of pain, then a squelching sound. Eyes widened, he responded “Shit… that sounds bad…” but Nemissa stated “No… I can feel them. The demon just took someone out but not Finnegan… he… he’s on another level from anything in there”. Frowning, he said “Then let’s hope he’s alone when Lunch gets the door open”. “I can delay if ya want” Lunch stated “I’m tryin ta put in tha override code. Brute forc’in it since it doesn't have a limit on potential entries”. Frowning, before he could react Nemissa stated “Another is dead. Finnegan and it are left”. Nodding, he said “Lunch, do you have it?” and the only response he got was the door opening and revealing Finnegan. 

 

Right as he saw Finnegan dodge a rain of lightning and thrust his fist right into the forehead of the green metallic humanoid. “Gr..gr… MANI...TOU…. W-WILL….” it tried to say before suddenly disintegrating into what appeared to be pixels and then nothingness. Finnegan shook his hand, saying “Judah lost to this?” before spitting on the ground and saying “What a chump… I guess I misjudged his skill” before turning to them and saying “Ah… you two. The interlopers”. “Wh-what? How!? We had-” Nemissa began but Finnegan interrupted, stating “You think I care about names? Everyone in the society knows it's a trick question. You see my men introduce me or themselves?”. He then tapped on the front of one of his knuckles that he was wearing and suddenly from it emerged four beasts. Two white dressed ones though one more oriental and the other english, a small horned silvery snake, and a winged purple-haired monkey with demonic claws. Before he could say anything, Finnegan stated “Whatever. You’ll die soon regardless. Blame your bad luck if ya gotta blame something. See ya” before turning and pressing a button. It moved a console to the side, revealing a secret elevator. Stepping on, it descended and the console moved back into place. “Wait!” Nemissa cried, taking a step forward. 

 

Suddenly the winged monkey flew right at her, only to be intercepted by Quinya who yelled “Back foul beast!”. He leveled his shotgun and fired, making it yowl in pain. Jessup appeared and slammed the silvery snake as quickly, like a flash, it flew at him. “Master, stay alert! These beasts are well-trained!” Jessup stated, flying after the snake. It whipped around him but he had already reaimed and fired, sending it flying. Hearing a giggle he turned but his eyes widened as the taller white woman flew at him, hands raised revealing claws like that of a hunter lizard. He tried to raise his shotgun but knew he’d be too late. However, Nemissa leveled her own shotgun and fired, saying “Hands off the merchandise!”. Then she turned to the monkey, holding a hand out and yelling “Roma Grandor!” and using the pale blue beam to freeze it solid while Quinya slammed it to pieces against the wall. Meanwhile, Silf appeared and sent a series of ice balls in a shotgun formation at the other white dressed woman who simply giggled melodically while dodging the attack. Frowning, he stated “Silf, Jessup, switch!”. “Understood!” both said, suddenly vanishing and reappearing where the other was. Silf formed the ice balls and shotgun fired them at the snake that tried to twist speedily around them but the dispersion left little room for it to avoid them and so with one attack it was destroyed. Meanwhile, Jessup wasn’t able to land a punch on the white dressed dodger but after avoiding a particular punch he switched tactics. Lashing out with his yellow lashes, a few missed but one connected to the white dressed woman and stuck to her. “L-let go you-you harlot!” the woman screeched, suddenly leaping for Jessup. He smirked as suddenly Quinya leapt from nearby and skewered its side. “N-noooooo!” it cried as it dissipated into blue particles. After that, they turned to the other white-dressed woman with lizard-like claws who stated “D-dammit… you… you aren’t some random summoner… are you… Kuzunoha?”. Raising an eyebrow, Nemissa answered “Who? We just came for another reason… now are you going to behave or do we have to finish you off?”. Hesitating, the woman smirked, then asked “Tell me, boy… are you truly prepared for this path? Fighting the society… none have survived. The strongest turncoat, Urabe, died for nothing… are you prepared for his fate?”. Frowning, he stated “I didn’t start the fight… you all came for me first. All I’m doing is defending myself”. Shocked, the woman's expression softened before she said “That’s… not fair”. “It isn’t… but it happened. So. Can we leave?” he asked, preparing his shotgun. Looking at him, the woman asked one simple question “Two questions first… are you truly prepared to walk this path of resistance to its end?”. Nodding, he stated “I won’t let them just kill me or my friends… and I won’t stand by while they victimize others so callously”. Nodding, the woman asked “Then young summoner… might I form a contract with you?”. 

 

Tatsuya

 

As he strolled on the runway, he spotted them. A series of expensive looking black cars. Men in black suits of various ethnicities and backgrounds stood around a single well-dressed tall man. He smirked as the man turned to him and seemingly stared at him. He couldn’t exactly tell as the man wore sunglasses. He liked to imagine the tall man was squinting at him in disbelief. That was the common reaction most gave to his presence. That was usually replaced by fear when they realized who he was. As he approached further, the men turned and then began to fan out, pulling out various implements. Some pulled out swords while others pulled out pistols. He, smirking, asked loudly “Well, well, well… I come investigat’in some leads and here I find what appears to be a meet-up between the yakuza and the irish mob… tell me, what’s the meet-up about boys?”. “None of your business” the tall man stated, putting on a pair of weighty-looking knuckles “If you know better, you’ll surrender to us. Don’t, and I get to have some fun”. Laughing, he dropped the duffel bag he carried and replied “Man, that’s usually my line! Still…” and took a sniff, saying “You reek of Nyarlathotep. So tell me… what’s he up to?”. The tall man frowned, asking “Who are you talking about…?”. He chuckled, summoning Apollo and saying “It’s fine… maybe you don’t know maybe ya do… either way, his scents all over you and not in a casual way. You’ve been touched… that means ya gotta go”. Finnegan tapped a few times on his knuckles, saying “Buy me time. I’m killing this bastard”. With a nod, the other eight men moved instantly. They began unloading round after round at him. Apollo landed in front of him, taking the hits for him. He flinched ever so slightly, feeling the pain of the bullets bouncing off his persona, but otherwise ignored them. He then prepared his own katana from close-range combat as the gunfire ceased and the two swordsmen arrived. They ran around Apollo, thinking he’d be vulnerable. His slash took one down and made the other weary as he whipped around, saying “Man… this is weak. Y'all really a threat ta the authorities?”. The man snarled, suddenly holding a hand up and saying “Rieshan!” and let out a bright flash. He heard a crunch as he had Apollo kick out. He predicted as he was blinded that the man would try to rush him. 

 

Then he heard it. “I’m invoking my field. All men, retreat!” he heard the man yell in a thick accent. Thanks to Apollo’s resistance to ailments, he felt his sight return soon after. Just as he heard and then saw cars drive away leaving one. Then he felt it. The air became thick in the smell of not Nyarlathotep, which he expected from the sounds of it, but the smell of power. Raw, unmitigated potential filled the air waiting to be used. Coming from around Apollo, he stared at the new entourage waiting for him. A 10 ft. tall barrel chested man wearing leopard patterned clothing and a cloak made from the pelt of a leopard wielding a black club stood to his left while on the right a horned creature wearing skin-tight red clothes while holding a pair of scimitars stood. In front of the tall man sat two creatures waiting. A metallic-looking green one with a head of green fire and a two-headed maned beast with a scaly tail. “Meet my beasts. Orthrus, my trusty guard dog. Helldog, my faithful pet. Rakshasa, my bloodthirsty assassin. Then of course Berserker, my most loyal warrior. They are going to make short work of you with me… if you must curse something, curse your poor luck for fighting the Hand of Phantom”. Laughing, he stated “Oh? ‘The Hand of Phantom’? Yeah… that’s a title he’d give… means he’s work’in secretly… so… then… I gotta ask. What name am I us’in for this ‘Interrogation’? Cause I don’t wanna disrespect” as his eyes began to glow yellow and his katana became engulfed in flames. Pointing it, with Apollo mirroring the action, the Hand of Phantom growled and said “Dammit… true magic… what a troublesome foe I’m fighting…”. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

Fire at the Airport




Tatsuya

 

He dodged left and then ducked, kicking away. He flew at least 10 meters but it wasn’t enough, the barrel-chested man was on him instantly, lashing downwards. A quick roll a few meters away and he was on his feet. He slashed out blocking another strike from it. The fire of his sword weakened the mans black iron club but the man was definitely stronger. The only thing preventing the man from outright breaking his sword and by extension him was the fact that even with Apollo summoned he could empower his body and equipment with the strengths and weaknesses of his persona. However it was becoming clear quickly that he couldn’t overpower berserker. They were even. He smirked and then ducked to the side quickly, whirring around to lash out. He ducked, avoiding the retaliation for the dirty trick from the man and with a cleave opened a cut on his chest. The man fell back, dropping his club. He quickly sunk his katana into its chest, dissipating it into blue particles. “Demons… heh… confirms it… you are a minion of Nyarlathotep” he stated, turning to the tall man who simply stood by a car and observed. Apollo grabbed the green metallic dog as it leapt from behind the car for it and with a grip crush the neck. It dissipated into blue particles, signifying it was also a demon. He was about to gloat more when he realized the red demon was gone. Looking around, before he could ask he felt a presence behind him. He leapt several meters away but realized it was just a shadow. “Dammit!” he yelled, turning right as a blade was inches from his face. He then suddenly became enveloped in flames as he reached up and grabbed the creatures hand, wrenching it away with uncanny speed. Apollo vanished as this happened. He then lifted his leg and kicked the creature square in the stomach, sending it flying. “Oh-ho. Now there it is… your true ace… heh. Interest’in” the tall man stated, standing now. He then took his knuckles off and held his hands out saying “Rakshasa, Orthrus, I command you! I invoke a command spell and order you to become my fists!”. The red demon and the dog demon appeared on either side. The dog howled “Yes, my master! Gladly!” and began to dissipate. The red demon lowered his head, saying softly with a feminine voice “As you wish” and began to disintegrate into blue particles too. The particles however did not disperse. Instead they began to converge, meeting at the firsts of the tall man. One became a furred gauntlet with a series of fangs jutting out from the knuckles while the other had a red gauntlet with a pair of horns extending from the pinkie and index knuckles upwards. In the red gauntlet hand a sword was held but the tall man tossed it aside, saying “I said fists dipshit… feh. Whatever. You did enough… now… to deal with you!” and suddenly rushed forward. 

 

“Uh oh!” Tatsuya yelped, dodging left. He avoided a left straight and then leapt several meters away. However, he realized that was the fang gauntlet attacking him and the dangerous one, the horned gauntlet, was now the primary attack. Fist cocked back, Finnegan leapt for him, approaching fast. His response was simple. He channeled all the fire to his arms, held his katana with both hands, and lashed out, his blade meeting the gauntlet. “Still hold’in back, huh punk!? Fine! Die for your hubris!” the Hand of Phantom yelled, pushing harder and sending him back. He clicked his tongue, then made a new slash sending a thin vertical line of pure fire. However the Hand of Phantom simply lifted his foot to be perfectly vertical before slamming it down onto the line and dispersed it with sheer force… no. he sniffed and smelled it. Power. Then he saw the blue lines appear all over the Hand’s body as he stated “Fancy trick… looks almost like machinery… got a story behind that?”. The hand merely sneered, saying “If you don’t know what magic circuits are, you’re even more an outsider than I thought… in fact, I’m guessing you don’t know what mine mean, huh?”. Shaking his head, he stated “Nah, can’t say I do old man… how ‘bout you educate me?”. The hand hesitated, but stated “I’ll tell you this much, since you’re about to die. Each of these circuits was one I was born with. As such, my pedigree as a magus is higher than many… and with that pedigree I plan to tear down all magical societies. Now… die”. The hand then smashed his gauntlets together and then leapt for him, fist cocked back. He sighed, knowing that holding back would get him killed likely. However… how to go all out? He could summon Apollo and make the Hand of Phantom fight a battle on two fronts… or he could use his final trump card he’d developed for just Nyarlathotep? He wanted to wait but this man… he had to admit, he was stronger than he was giving credit for. 

 

Arata

 

“What are you proposing?” he asked to which the woman responded “A change of masters… normally he would have to consent but he’s away from his comp… which controls the contracts between beast and man”. Thinking, he asked “Then what do you want in return?”. “The contract will be thus: You will permit me freedom and life so long as you need me not for combat… if you cannot supply prana, then you may requisition another to do so. In exchange I swear to fight for your cause and do nothing to sully the name of you or your cause” the woman stated “Agree to that and our contract will be made”. He bit his lip when the woman looked to Nemissa, saying “That said you should know something. I am no ordinary beast. I can qualify as a heroic spirit”. Blinking, he asked “What’s a heroic spirit?”. Blinking, the woman asked “Are you… an amateur as well?”. After his nod, the woman sighed and explained “Heroic spirits are among the most powerful class of familiar magi have discovered. Summoners generally don’t summon them as their personalities are completely intact… meaning they can betray their masters”. Nemissa said “Sounds like to fulfill our contract, you gotta become a heroic spirit”. Nodding, Bai Suzhen stated “I intended as such… but if you contract me as a beast, the contract is not necessarily violated”. He stated “In terms of combat… which of you is stronger?”. Smiling, the woman stated “My heroic spirit form… as I am, I am a shadow of that form. I can perform magic, yes, but I have no fame or legend or mystery to draw on. I am what the system of Amami City perceives me”. Nodding, he said “That… implies something else will determine your strength”. “Yes… the Throne of Heroes will determine my strength and the region will give me power for my fame, legend, and mystery. Now, hurry, make your choice… he will not be distracted for much longer”. Frowning, he looked at Nemissa and then the woman, saying “Understood. Please, let me summon you… as a hero”. 

 

Tatsuya

 

Left, right, middle, up, and down. His attacks fell onto the Hand of Phantom rapidly. His, and his persona, Apollo's attacks. They moved around the Hand, throwing attacks while opposite one another. Forcing the Hand to be unable to pick and choose the attacks to weather. As he retreated, the Hand would turn and use the horns to tear up earth and make a wall as blue flames rain down on him. He’d then whirl around, cocking a fist back and throwing it, clashing with his fire-wreathed sword and forcing him to back off. As he panted and Apollo flickered ever so slightly, the Hand took a deep breath. “Damn…. True magic is always such a pain… to think we’d have to contend with it here….” the Hand stated. “What… are ya… babbl’in ‘bout now? Upset you’re getting beat?” he replied, standing tall and preparing to unleash another onslaught. Shaking his head, the Hand stated “Nah… I can win. Right now even… just a pain I have to do ‘that’ to win…” and then with a simple move interacted with his knuckles “See, you magi think ‘true magic’ is the only all-powerful thing in this world… The truth is, there’s another and us summoners got it. ‘Heroic Spirits’, beings capable of impossible things… I’ll just summon one to kill you!”. Gritting his teeth, he stated “Dunno why you’re call’in me a ‘magi’ but I’m guess’in it’s related to your cult… well, doesn’t matter. Apollo, let’s finish this! Prepare Nova Kaiser!”. With a nod, Apollo flew towards the sky. “What the…?” the Hand stated, looking, then at him “What are you planning?”. Preparing, he stated “Oh nothing much… jus’ an attack ya can’t avoid, can’t block, and can’t survive… since it seems you’re prepping the same, right?”. Frowning, the man looked at the devices disguised as knuckles and said “I was… but it’s not respond- Transferred!? The hell!!!!”. 

 

“Well, well, well… What's wrong? His demons not answering? Don’t worry… happens when I prove too much for his lackeys. Hey, surrender and Apollo’ll stop” he offered. The hand turned, growling and said “Forget it. I-” but stopped when suddenly a call came through. He nodded and let the Hand answer it… then the Hand turned to him and said “A draw”. “Huh?” he responded as the Hand stated “A draw. I’m offering a draw. You let me go… and in exchange, the government won’t be sending out a Class A manhunt order out for you”. He froze at that. He knew what that meant. He had done a little research regarding Amami City law. The classification belonged to threats Amami City deemed a threat to national security. It wouldn’t just be the local government after him. All of Japan would descend on him and his friends. He clicked his tongue, relaxing his sword and recalling Apollo, saying “This once… and some answers”. Nodding, the Hand said “I am authorized to answer some. Make them quick”. “All I want to know is why your scent is like it’s… the one I spoke of” he stated. “I dunno” the Hand answered “However, I’ve dealt with many ‘demons’ and beasts. It’s entirely possible I contracted with what you describe at one point… and it’s equally possible he’s a superior. I don’t know all of them. I simply receive orders and contracts from them, I accept them, and on completion my account gets money. Simple, easy, clean”. “Tsk” he clicked, sheathing his katana, the flames dying. He then stowed it in the duffel bag, saying “This time… next time… I’ll be smarter. Tail you… but let me give a warning, in case you’re lying”. He then stood from the bag, slung it over his shoulder, took his glasses off and let his glowing yellow eyes signify his seriousness as he said “Nyarlathotep is a force of destruction. Even if he’s benefitting you short-term, at some point it’s gonna go sour. If you aren’t ready, it won’t be just you that dies… and I hope for your sake I’m there to minimize the catastrophe”. He then turned and began to leave, not letting the Hand respond. He had other things to do than fail at his intentions with even coming here… then he smelled it. That pure scent. He then decided to divert his route slightly. “Maybe… something can come of this trip” he muttered silently. 

 

Arata

 

He formed the ritual circle as instructed. Nemissa helped him, curious about the process. Hitomi herself finally appeared as he finished, saying “Hey… your comp’s asking for confirmation”. Nemissa brought it to him and he entered his confirmation code, the same Urabe used to seal it. Then he saw the transfer process complete itself. The woman appeared, saying “It’s done. With that action, I am your beast… but we’re not done, are we?”. Shaking his head, he stated “Now for the summoning… are you sure though? Won’t using your prana as part of the ritual kill you?”. Shaking her head, the woman stated “It’s more complicated… think of it as a rebirth. By using my prana as a catalyst, my summoning is assured”. Hitomi asked “Alright… if you say so… I just hope it doesn’t hurt”. With a smile, the woman said “Why thank you… you are a kind soul aren’t you?”. Hitomi smiled but before she could reply Nemissa took over, saying “Just to be clear… Arata is your master. I’m just supplying the prana right?”. With a nod, the woman said “Yes… maintaining me and two beasts will be quite taxing on Tsu- I mean Sanagi-san. So, to circumvent this, another should take the burden of me onto themselves… thank you by the way”. Turning to him, the woman said “Begin the ritual. I will handle the rest”. Nodding, he held his comp out. He focused on the sensation the woman taught him and then repeated the chant “Heed my words, my will creates your body and your sword creates my destiny. If you heed the grail’s call and obey my will and reason, then answer my summoning. I hereby swear, that I shall be all the good in the world, that I shall defeat all evil in the world”. As he chanted he felt the numerous magic circuits hum to life and filter his od into the summoning circle formed. He watched as the woman, a smile on her face, began to dissipate into blue particles that flew into the circle and joined the prana he emitted into it. “Seventh heaven clad and the great words of power” he chanted, activating his Comp as he recalled the instructed “Come forth, from the circle of bindings, Guardian of the scales!”. 

 

The reaction was instant. Distressed, Quinoa and Jessup struggled but dissipated into blue particles, flowing into the Comp. This was because he felt his od deplete rapidly. Nemissa intervened, placing a hand on the circle and filling it with her own od, he felt the strain fade away before he died from mana depletion. He fell over, almost passing out but managed to keep his wits together. This meant he could watch as he saw a new woman appear from a bright blue flash of light. She had silver hair that flowed to the floor and parted due to the snake-like lower half that stretched out behind her. Wearing flowing white chinese robes with snake scale patterns, the woman opened their eyes to reveal white snake eyes. Smiling, the woman covered her mouth momentarily before looking at him. She then moved to him, bending down and saying “My, my… are you my master…? This won’t do, this won’t do… you’re so weak…”. “Hey!” Nemissa yelled “He went to a lot of trouble to summon you like this! Can’t you be more grateful?”. Looking at Nemissa, the woman was completely silent before looking at him, asking “Master, who is she?”. He tried to lift himself when suddenly the woman's tail landed on top of him and she stated “No no, rest… but tell me please. I may have knowledge of the modern era, but I need to know people to communicate effectively… I also need to know who to trust”. “Nemissa” he answered “She’s… Nemissa. She can be trusted… mostly”. Tilting her head, he elaborated “She runs off to do her own thing sometimes”. Smiling, the woman stated “I see… sounds wonderful”. 

 

As he stood up, the woman introduced herself, saying “Now that you are properly recovered, it is time I introduced myself. I am Bai Suzhen… I thank you master for freeing me from my shackles… based on your Comps data, I now understand what is going on… to an extent”. The woman, now having normal human legs, walked over to a window and stared out of it, saying “I know not if there are other masters… if there are other servants… or even if a grail is present… simply that something summoned and bound me to a master”. Looking at him, the woman stated “All your questions must wait. We must flee this place. My former master will no doubt be displeased and will seek me. Tell me, do you have a quick means of escape?”. Nodding, he said “Then it’s exit time. I’ve got a pair of comrades waiting. They’re about a mile away but can be here quickly… we just need to get to the meeting point. Lunch, you hear that?”. He received a response immediately that said “Gotcha, heading there. Don’t take long… activity’s increased. Might get kicked if we’re caught”. Nodding, he looked at Bai Suzhen and said “Let’s go, Suzhen-san”. Smiling, Bai replied “Okay… oh, and in public, please call me Assassin”. He nodded, since he was using his own code name at the moment and walked out the door with Nemissa and Bai, heading for the elevator. He had accomplished a lot with this journey and was eager to report his findings. 

 

Rin

 

Rin prepared the circle. Ginko, Rei, and Spooky stood to the side. Ginko had graciously provided a catalyst for the summoning. It was a very old, ancient gemstone. It matched nothing in science and was used to store magical power for centuries. Even now, the Kuzunoha accumulated magical power in it. Looking at Ginko for confirmation, after receiving it in the form of a nod, she began to chant “Heed my words, my will creates your body and your sword creates my destiny. If you heed the grail’s call and obey my will and reason, then answer my summoning. I hereby swear, that I shall be all the good in the world, that I shall defeat all evil in the world. Seventh heaven clad and the great words of power, come forth, from the circle of bindings, Guardian of the scales!”. With it complete, the crystal glowed brilliantly and the circle turned a pure white. Slowly, from its light, a shape took form. It moved as if walking and very suddenly, as if walking from out of a fog, a fox-like woman walked. Standing at 5 feet, wearing a pure white kimono, the most noticeable feature was her stark white fox tail flitting about behind her. Smiling, the woman stated “Hello. I am servant Caster, answering the call. Whom is my master here?”. In complete shock, Rin immediately checked her hand and confirmed the presence of command spells. Tilting her head, Caster asked “Is there… a problem with my summon? Should I have not answered?”. Shaking her head, Rin stated “N-no… the… the problem is that you heard a call at all… it means… a grail war is brewing…”. Blinking, Caster stated “Of course. Is that the purpose of your summons?”. Shaking her head, Rin stated “No… the fact is, I have no clue what is going on… far as I’m aware, this ritual was destroyed 5 years ago… yet here you are, a servant freshly summoned… tsk…”. Frowning, Caster said “I see… a mystery indeed… Now that I think on it… my memory is a tad… lacking. I know much of this era… but not a purpose beyond seeking the grail… no, I know not if even a war is occuring. That was a mere assumption”. Looking at Ginko, who looked at her, she said “I’m sorry but this became very complicated… I now have a vested interest in solving this mystery… and eliminating the source. This cannot be allowed to continue”. Thinking, Ginko asked “Reiho. What do you think?”. 

 

Humming, Reiho stared at Caster, then said “I dunno… if we can summon powerhouses like this… ‘tis a curse and blessing…”. “You don’t know what you’re talking about” Rin stated “The destructive potential was enough to wipe out a whole portion of a city with few survivors… would you risk that just to gain an advantage over Phantom? Really?”. Frowning, Reiho was about to speak when Ginko asked suddenly “Tohsaka-san. How many people do you think die to Phantom schemes daily?”. “Probably a lot… but-” she began but Ginko interrupted, saying “Ten thousand, by last count. That is the daily toll of their allowed existence. Ten thousand lives daily sacrificed alone… a hundred thousand if you count casualties of their schemes. Daily. How many die from this?”. Frowning, she hesitated. Then, Ginko stated “If it would mean their total erasure, I will gladly sacrifice a portion of the city. Maybe even the entire thing… So tell me, Tohsaka, can it truly grant any wish?”. She hesitated, as her magus instinct flared up to keep her research secret, but she revealed after a few minutes “Not exactly… it is merely a mass of prana… it alone cannot ‘grant wishes’...” then looked at her new servant, saying “However… whatever did the summoning… was it… truly a grail… or something else…?”. Spooky stated “I dunno much about the magic world… but on the summoner net, there is a lot of talk about a ‘Amami Project’. I could get an update for us”. Nodding, Rin said “Do it. I don’t like this… if it’s a grail we’re dealing with, then utmost care must be taken… and if it isn’t… that’s a whole new problem on top of everything”. Frowning, Caster stated “I am concerned too… normally, a grail is supposed to be functioning for this ritual… yet… Now that I think about it, none seems present… Also, I can sense the presence of phantasmal beasts on this very vessel. This city… whatever distortion has taken hold… it must run deep for this to exist”. Looking to Caster now, Ginko stated “Worry not about the beasts on the vessel… its master employs special techniques to create an environment in the hull to permit their existence… however you are not wrong… there are many secrets in this city… secrets we hope to bury”. With confirmation, Spooky stepped outside and pulled out a smartphone. He then dialed a particular number.




Finnegan

 

As he drove, he gripped the steering wheel angrily. He growled with a slight amount of hatred. He was forced to let the magician go. A magician he had no doubts would be problematic in the future. Primarily because he lacked the actual ability to summon a heroic spirit. He had kept one particularly weak beast, Bai Suzhen, around for that purpose. Helldog was nothing more than fodder, either for the summoning, maintenance, or even in battle. He could always get more. Even caught off-guard as he was, he was supposed to have that trump card. Yet now, he was without it. Somehow, a summoner slipped by and initiated a transfer. Further, even now that he tried to regain the lost contract, it had been fully nullified. The Bai Suzhen he had contracted no longer existed in this plane… that meant only one thing. Whoever received the transfer had then proceeded to summon her as a heroic spirit. He growled and said “Damn kids… I shouldn’t have underestimated them”. Just as he was about to begin tracking them, he received a call. It was from headquarters. Answering, he heard a familiar voice say “Finnegan. The mission was a success?”. “Yes sir… Winpe is no more… We have a new problem though. The Clock Tower might be close” he reported “I encountered a Magician while leaving the site”. A groan was heard followed by a clear statement saying “I know. I received the report from your supervisor moments ago… this is sloppy work for you, Finnegan. What happened?”. Hesitating, he was about to speak when the voice said “Nevermind. You do good work normally. I’ll call this a one-off… but you know the price of further failure. Do not forget who gifted you your crest and code… certainly not your failure of a family”. Nodding, he replied “Yes sir. What is my mission?”. “I want you to go and check on something… eliminate it if it stirs… then deliver the recipient materials there to Site 88” the voice ordered “Failure will not be accepted… even if it merely causes setbacks. We will speak after you’ve arrived” and then the line went dead. He hesitated but ultimately changed course. The brats could wait. He was given orders and he wasn’t going to disobey them for personal reasons. He looked to his knuckles sitting on the seat next to them, stopping the car momentarily to put them in their holsters. A magi’s mystic code should never stray far from the magi. He then proceeded to head to the site he was ordered to.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

Family Affairs Part 1



Arata

 

He knew it shouldn’t have been easy. Even as he stared at the man in the lobby of the airport, standing with a sheathed katana over his shoulders, he could scarcely believe what he saw. Before he could say anything, Nemissa yelled “You! Again! What’s your problem! Are you that bloodthirsty!?”. The man laughed, saying “C’mon now… I ain’t attack’in am I?”. “Perhaps not… but that does not disprove the theorem” the woman stated, staring intently “Reveal your true intentions… or I might slay you where you stand”. Staring, the man frowned, saying “You… you smell… like him … how?”. “Like who?” Nemissa asked, then frowned deeply “Are… are you… smelling us? You creep!”. Sighing, the man responded “It’s how I track ‘im… the guy I’m hunt’in. He leaves a particular scent only my kind can trace… an’ I’m the best in the biz”. Tossing the katana aside, the man stated “I’m unarmed now… see? We can talk… and we need to have one… you… you are a very different entity than what I’ve encountered previously”. Frowning, Nemissa asked “Different? Different how?”. “Cultists… you did call us cultists before… why?” he asked as the woman stated “If you truly seek parley, then at least explain your motives!”. Nodding, he stated “Got it… we got some time before people flow in… so here it is”. He then summoned Apollo. They all poised for a fight, him immediately retrieving his comp as Tatsuya waved his arms in a reassuring manner, saying “Hey, hey, don’t worry, he won’t bite… especially since I ain’t view’in you as enemies”. Not relaxing, Tatsuya sighed and said “This… this is a ‘persona’ or ‘mask of the heart’. I dunno the exact specifics, but it reflects my inner self… and its the strongest down there”. He then gestured to Nemissa and said “All beings of this kind emit a particular scent. However, there are four kinds… ‘Persona’, ‘Demon’, ‘Philemon’, and then my sworn enemies scent”. Nodding, he commented “I see… before… you did mention something like tracking huh…?”. Nodding, Tatsuya stated “Yeah. I follow his scent around the world… My enemy, ‘Nyarlathotep’, is dangerous. He already threatened world stability once… can’t let it happen again”. 

 

Nemissa was quiet now. Her frown lowered into a sad gaze. “You… are you trying to imply… that Nemissa…” Nemissa began to say but was stopped as Tatsuya said “I thought that at first… but someone pointed out something that seems more likely… see, he doesn’t like gett’in ‘is hands dirty. He instead employs weaker aspects a’ himself. I suspect Nemissa to be one”. Nemissa suddenly growled, saying “Like hell I am. I’m Nemissa, and no one else!”. Staring, Tatsuya stated “Yeah… you are, aren’t you… but it’s strange… anything that gets an ego generally gets a persona… but ya didn’t… why is that?”. Nemissa retorted “I don’t even know what a Persona is… why would I have one?”. Thinking, Tatsuya said “Maybe there is a component other than ‘Ego’... regardless, I just wanted to meet to confirm one thing and one thing alone… what do you desire?”. Nemissa scoffed, asking “What do you even mean with that? I’m Nemissa! All I want-” but was cut off as Tatsuya said “I suppose I should be more blunt. I’m after Nyarlathotep, but my aim isn’t necessarily him, but his schemes to destroy humanity… anything, even an avatar, that would threaten that, I get involved”. He then approached, pulling off his sunglasses revealing burning yellow eyes that glowed with a somewhat violent light as he stated “Because if even one succeeds, everything I know and love is dead… so yeah, I tried to kill you. I don’t regret it, cause I was sure you were him in the flesh… and now, I need to make sure you’re not about to try to kill off humanity yet again”. The woman tensed, saying “Master… he’s very strong… I’m not sure if I can take him… I may need a command spell if we are to fight… your orders?”. He hesitated as he stared into Tatsuya’s eyes, who were fixed solely on Nemissa. He took a deep breath to clear his head. 

 

Rin

 

Shirou walked into the room. She turned and asked “What are you doing here…?”. “I came because I’m concerned… Spooky mentioned summoning…?” Shirou questioned, to which Spooky clicked his tongue, saying “Dammit… kid promised he’d stay silent…”. Shirou frowned, asking “Tohsaka…. Is it… really happening again?”. Looking away, to a spirited Kuzunoha, she stated “I’m… unsure. According- Ah, apologies, let me introduce you. She can explain better. It’s fine, he’s an ally”. Shirou immediately looked before she truly appeared at Kuzunoha, who bowed and introduced herself “I am servant Caster. I responded to Tohsaka-sama’s summons… however, these circumstances are… unusual”. Sighing, Shirou asked “Is the grail really back or is it something new?”. Looking away for a moment, then at the papers, Kuzunoha stated “I can confirm… that this ‘grail’ is certainly not that ‘grail’.”. Sighing in relief, Shirou then said “As long as they aren’t the same, that’s enough… what now though?”. Looking at Shirou, Rin stated “Well… if another grail war is to occur, we must do reconnaissance. We need to learn the new rules this ‘war’ is operating under… if any at all… which is the worst-case scenario”. Nodding, Shirou looked to the others, asking “Can I assume you’re our allies?”. Ginko nodded, saying “Mostly… Reiho here has already been doing her own investigation… Dear, would you share?”. Nodding, Reiho approached and said “I’ve been investigating Phantom’s activities. Here are their movements in the last year…”. 

 

Arata

 

As he got onto the van, he felt Tatsuya’s eyes on him. Before he closed the door, he said “The supermarket… we’ll be there. We’ll call if something comes up”. Nodding, Tatsuya said “I know… even if ya don’t, don’t worry… My crusade ain’t over but I don’t believe she’s involved… I’m more interested in Nemissa… but she’s convinced me she likes humanity… that said, I have other concerns… and frankly, your help, as a native, would be appreciated”. Nodding, he replied “Having your power would be a help… just need the bosses okay”. “I get that” Tatsuya replied, turning away “Lemme know the decision and even if it's a no, hope we can work together as individuals” and then walked off, saying “See ya”. He watched him go before closing the van as Lunch said “Man… we sure he’s chill now?”. With a sigh, Hitomi took over, stating “I think so… he didn’t attack us. He was intimidating but… that’s jus’ cause we know his power”. Six sighed and sat down, saying “Well… all's well that ends well, right?”. He nodded, saying “By the way… I should pass on what I learned there”. “Yeah? What’d we drag our asses out here for? What’d the ghost give up?” Lunch asked as Nemissa stated “Well, for one thing, we get a bit how the net works around here for one… let’s just say, they’ve got another name for the Amami City Firewall”. Nodding, he stated “The Manitou Network it’s called… capable of petabyte transmissions apparently. It’s so beasts can move around in digital space”. Lunch and Six groaned, saying “We gotta deal with shit on the net? Goddammit… we never catch a break, can we?”. “Suck it up” Nemissa stated “We all knew we were stepping into the deep end… don’t wuss out now”. Six responded “Yeah… and we owe boss. C’mon, let's get going”. “Ah, right, before I forget… while you were galavanting’ ‘round the port, I decided to be useful and work to get your Comp some upgrades… mind if we swing by?” Lunch asked, explaining “I got inta contact with one of my ol’ mates who hooked me up with tha best hacker in town”. Nodding, he responded “If they can give me upgrades, sure”. With that, they got off the exit to Shibahama and continued past the turn towards their base. He looked up towards where he felt his new servant, Bai Suzhen, was standing in spirit form. She was ghosting them, for now.

 

As he stood in the now empty nightclub, a pair of faces stared down at them. They looked to be of chinese descent and were both bald. One wore robes while the other wore punk fashion. “Ah, Lunch… pleasure to see you. Is this him…?” the robed one asked. Nodding, Lunch explained “Yeah… and he needs some upgrades. Sanagi, take it up there” and then began walking, saying “Oh, is it alright if we have a tagalong? They kinda come as a package deal”. Nodding, but then frowning as their eyes went over Nemissa, the punk one stated “Oh shame… I was hoping such a cute thing wasn’t taken… oh well. Fish in the sea and all that”. Blinking, Lunch quietly said quietly “Don’t mind them… they’re jus’ check’in you out”. Tilting his head in confusion, the previously frowning Nemissa suddenly looked shocked, then grinned and chuckled, saying “Well. Guess you’re popular Sanagi”. Before he could respond, the punk one suddenly yelled “Is something wrong with that!?”. Nemissa shook her head, saying “No problem here”. Lunch retorted “Bro, you know I ain’t got a problem”. Staring at him skeptically, the punk man asked “What about you, young man?”. Shaking his head, he responded “I don’t think so, sir… not even sure what we’re talking about anymore”. The robed man laughed, saying in a high voice “Oh, young man… our apologies… we were too subtle it seems. We’re not into women at all, you see”. Blinking, then eyes widening, the punk man looked at the robed man with a frown and said “Not romantically at least… seriously, you’re going to give people the wrong idea”. Shrugging, the robed man stated “I don’t care… I rarely interact with others outside the workplace. You do that remember?”. Sighing, the Punk man stating “I know, I know, it’s just not healthy you know? You should-” but was cut off as the robed man said “You, young man… you’re here for a service right? Come. Bring us your machine. We’ve heard interesting things about it”. As he handed it over, both looked at each other quizzically, before the punk man said as he pulled out a screwdriver “Brother… this is it… a jackpot”. 

 

As they worked, they talked. “This is a marvel… these circuits… they aren’t made of gold yet they conduct much better…” as the other, examining the code of everything in it said “This coding is definitely Kadokura’s work… he hand-coded these for sure”. Lunch, looking at the Robed man's work, asked “Hey… this CPU… what is it?”. The Robed man picked it up and brought it to his eyes. However, he saw the magic circuits of the man stretch into the item before he stated “It follows the normal formula but replaces many of the common materials with higher quality ones… they replaced the silicon with graphene, and the copper with gold”. The punk man stated “Interesting… this program is fascinating… and not Kadokura’s work… which is interesting that he’d ever even momentarily consider adding it…”. Then the robed man added “It suggests he was paid to include it… he is a greedy man. Even he can be persuaded to relinquish some control…”. Looking at him finally, the robed man spoke first, saying “This is far more interesting than I predicted… I apologize for my rudeness. Clearly, you are worth more than your looks. Brother, a proper introduction?”. The punk man nodded as he stood with the robed man and said “I am called ‘Beta’ by friends, while he is called ‘Alpha’.... Enemies call us Reticulian”. He gasped now, hearing their title. Reticulian was the name of an infamous hacker in Amami City. 

 

They had at one time nearly bankrupted Amami City by draining funds from the city bank into the accounts of every citizen. The news reported it was done to camouflage the real culprits' activities, forcing the bank to ask for federal permission to reverse all transactions. Before he could ask, Lunch said “Thanks again… I mean, sure we could prolly homebrew some stuff, but nothin’ better than a masterwork”. Nodding, Alpha replied “Thank you… that said, I cannot offer many upgrades, save one, though it’s costly”. Beta stated “It’d require a complete replacement of the OS… as right now it’s geared for that weird-ass keyboard the previous owner used… I’d have to rework it to accept a modern keyboard system”. Alpha spoke next, adding “However, it would allow for better functionality… and make it more compatible with programs we make”. Nodding, he said “How long would that take?”. Looking between each other, Beta stated “Half a mil… that’s with every discount I can possibly pull”. Alpha scoffed, saying “Nevermind the labor hours we’ll be putting in… and then it’d take a few days, if we got the materials immediately”. Beta added “We won’t keep your Comp in the meantime… We have blueprints and copies of your files and OS to work with. When it's time we’ll call you”. Nodding, he replied “Thank you, Beta-san”. Laughing, Beta replied “Please, call me Beta… you two as well. For bringing us such an interesting thing, we’re happy to accommodate”. Alpha added “You are permitted with me likewise… Please, stop by when we’re open. The music is quite good”. Nemissa, looking out at the dance floor, replied “Alright. Sounds like fun. See ya then” and with Arata and Lunch left. 

 

Tatsuya

 

Sitting on his motorcycle, he made another call. Holding the phone to his ear, he stated “Yes. I’ve confirmed the Avatar has an ego… it asserted itself strongly. However… it lacks a Persona… it’s likely it’s repressed”. The voice on the other line hummed quizzically, saying “Interesting… a facet of Nyarlathotep rejecting its more destructive nature…? That is unusual…”. Tatsuya replied “Indeed… we’ll need to find some way to do that… though I dunno how. The Shadow Operatives and other groups aren’t likely to help”. “Agreed” the voice stated “Even if I pull strings, it’s unlikely to end in cooperation but a complete takeover of the case… sadly, we’re on our own”. Getting on, he then said “Also, to add onto the pile of complication… we have a new development. I found something that smells like Philemon”. “Philemon?” the voice questioned “He hasn’t made a peep since our incident… why-” but was cut off as he stated “It ain’t him… it was a woman. About 5, 4 and wearing chinese clothes disguised as Japanese…. Definitely had the smell of Philemon’s work though”. The voice sighed, saying “Perhaps He’s employing Nyarlathoteps methods… keep an eye on her. I trust Philemon but… I don’t like the close proximity”. He hesitated. He never considered it. He never even questioned the oddity of the woman’s appearance there. He never even asked why he didn’t pick up on her coming in… in fact, he never even questioned why she was willingly working with someone outed as potentially connected to Nyarlathotep, their sworn enemy. “Dammit… Why didn’t I pick up on it” he said, gritting his teeth. He didn’t know who or how but one of that group used some sort of spell to not make him ask questions beyond the burning ones. “The only answer is that I got charmed…”. “That… complicates things” the voice said “It means the trust we just built is gone…”. Tatsuya, sighing, replied “Yeah, yeah… I’ll still go ta the meet’in spot but… now I’m gonna be on guard… god why do things always get complicated?”. Chuckling, the voice stated “You know how it is brother… everything involving them is complicated”. He simply sighed, hung up, and took off. He hoped the two would show that night. 

 

Rin

 

“So that’s the chant, right?” Rei asked. She nodded, saying “Yes. If you want a berserker, you know the line to add, though I must caution against it. Last thing we need is a servant we can’t control”. “I can assist if you like Reiho-sama” Kuzunoha added “We are allies and successful summoning of a cooperative spirit is paramount, so I will gladly add my magical prowess to the ritual”. Shaking her head and waving her hand, she responded “Nah, nah. It’s fine. I’m sure it’ll go fine. I’ve got a guardian angel watch’in over me”. With a hesitant nod, she responded “Then begin… if nothing happens, all it means is you are rejected”. Nodding, Rei held a hand out. Reiho recited the ritual word for word, with the same tone and inflection she used. She frowned when yet another servant was summoned. She stared as the servant came into form and then gasped when she realized what was summoned. Holding a sheathed katana in hand and wearing a flowery kimono with a fur mantle, the Japanese woman smirked at them. Turning, her clog sandals making a noise as she did, the woman declared “I am Yamato Takeru… now… ah! There you are, master” while turning to Rei Reiho. She then looked directly at Kuzunoha, saying “Hello to you as well. Tell me, are we competitors or allies?”. “I am unsure” Kuzunoha stated “Though if you mean on a less grand-scale then allies… our masters are working in concert at the moment”. Nodding enthusiastically, she turned her attention to Rei as said person asked “So… you’re a servant… Might I ask your identity?”. 

 

Shaking her head, she stated as she glared at her suspiciously “I cannot Master, for we are in the presence of later enemies… until such time as I am assured she will not be a threat long-term, I will withhold my true name… though I can assure you of my strength”. Frowning, Rei stated “Sadly… no, it’s fine. However, please refrain from antagonizing them. For now, we’re cooperating out of mutual interest… this city is deeply embroiled in conspiracy that threatens the foundations you see?”. Staring at their master and then her, the servant sighed and said “I thought as much… my knowledge is lacking as I am unsure of even if other masters exist, beyond what I observe… that said, any other parties to avoid upsetting?”. Nodding, Reiho stated “The other master here, and soon ourselves, will be working with a hacker group called ‘the Spookies’. They are the most informed about this mess…”. Nodding affirmatively, the servant said “Understood… oh! While we work together, please, call me Saber- no… I should have a proper name to be addressed by… ah! Seikenshi! I will be called Seikenshi!”. Reiho chuckled, saying “Really? Isn’t that name a bit pretentious?”. Smirking, the saber servant replied “No… not one bit”. 

 

Arata

 

As he left Reticulian he reread the readme’s for the new programs they installed. First he had been given an app that would connect him to a private chat room that Reticulian had prepared for him and his accomplices. He had to find and add them but he was fine with that. Then there was an app that when activated would tell him about nearby access points to the building he was in. Finally, a change had been made to its wireless network scanning systems. It could tell him how vulnerable the system was and also give him hidden details about it. However, as he was reading more to see if any goodies were hidden, he received a call. Putting his Comp away, he saw it was his mother. Answering, he replied “Hello, Mother. I’m sorry about-” but stopped as his mother said “I know, I know Arata-kun, your job keeps you away at times. As long as you go to school tomorrow, it’s fine… just hurry home. There’s a problem”. He heard his father say to his mother “Honey, what can he do? We should call the paramedics so she can go to the hospital for an examination”. “Hush, Sato” his mother chided “We know how she is with us, maybe she’s mad at us… she’s never been mad at Arata-kun though”. “Fine, fine” the father stated, his voice getting more distance as he finished “I’m going to get smokes… call me if you decide to take her to the hospital”. With a sigh, his mother spoke to him “Sorry about that Arata-kun. Listen, it’s about Tomoko-kun… she’s… not responding. She just keeps playing with some dolphins in that new game… what was it…?”. He felt his blood go cold at the mention of the name as she said “Paradigm X”. “What is wrong, master?” he heard Bai ask, looking melancholic as always as his mother continued “I wouldn’t be worried if it hadn’t been all day… she won’t even respond for dinner. I’m worried… she’s always responded to you Arata-kun… please, come home and try. Please”. Nodding, he responded “Of course, Okaasan, I can ask for a break… be home soon”. Hearing a sigh of relief, his mother said “Thank you, Arata-kun… please, hurry” followed by hanging up. “Lunch” he said, getting in “Please… drive me home… and hurry”. Lunch, hesitating, looked at him and asked “What’s up? You never ask me for a ride…”. “My sister… she’s…” he started but stopped, then said “That call… she’s unresponsive. She’s just playing Paradigm X…”. Looking concerned, Nemissa asked “Why call you though?”. “I’ve always been on good terms with Tomoko-sama… so Okaa-san thinks she’ll respond to me… but… with my experience… I fear it’s much worse than simple anger…”. Lunch frowned deeply, turning the van on and saying “Gotta hurry for sure… hope there’s something we can do”. He simply nodded as Lunch then took off. He quickly sent a text to Tatsuya, saying “‘Going to be late. Family trouble. Dunno how long’. He then pocketed his phone, ignoring the text. 

 

When he arrived, he asked Nemissa “Could you wait here…? Okaasan doesn’t know you and… might get ideas with your attire”. Before Nemissa could get angry, Lunch said “Jus’ hurry… we’re on a clock prolly”. He nodded, turning and running to the apartment. Once he arrived, he tried the knob. Finding it wasn’t working, he pulled out his key and opened the door. His mother stood there in her usual attire and said “Oh! You actually came!”. Nodding, he walked in, removing his shoes in one fluid motion asking “Where is she?”. “Your room” his mother responded “She’s still playing that game”. He then moved past her, saying “Hello, Otosan” His father nodded, reading the paper and said “Hello, Arata-kun… sorry for this”. Shaking his head, he replied “No problem, Otosan… I’ll be quick”. He then entered his room, closing it behind him. He saw his sister, in an orange shirt and jeans, sitting at his computer, clearly playing. She still wore her glasses, but they had slid down. As he watched, she was interacting with a dolphin in an aquatic setting. Walking forward, he asked “Imoutosan? Are you okay?”. He saw her hesitate briefly, but then played, saying “Y… yes, Oniisan…”. Frowning, he reached the desk and looked down at her face and bit his lip to control himself. He saw her eyes glazed over and she was solely focused on the game. He nearly fell over and screamed when Bai, in her servant form, appeared suddenly and said quietly “Master… I’m here. How might I serve?”. He hesitated but then asked in a whisper “You… can you… sense anything going on with my sister?”. Nodding, Bai walked over, produced a talisman and placed it on Tomoko’s head, and then stood still. After a few seconds, Bai looked at him, whispering “Her soul is sundered… being siphoned as we speak… we have two, three hours tops”. Gritting his teeth, Bai continued saying “Do not lose hope master… the flow is still open and so a reversal is possible… I need merely to locate the devourer”. Nodding, he said “Then let’s go… and quickly”. Bai vanished and he turned, leaving the room. His mother and father, waiting patiently, perked up at his exit. “S-sorry Otosan, Okaasan… she’s pretty mad about something…. Apparently, she’s tried doing homework but can’t… whatevers upset her is bad”. Both his parents frowned deeply, but his mothers softened as she said “Well… it’s probably bullying… I’ll give her space for now…”. His father stated “I’ll call the school in the morning… I don’t like this… ah, you can go back to work, Arata-kun. Thank you”. Nodding, he left quickly… he needed Nemissa and the HQ’s PC. He needed to jump into Paradigm X. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

Reality, tis only a Virtual Museum




Arata

 

As they walked into the base, they saw no one. “Figures Yu-ichi left… ah well, he’s just a kid” Six stated, heading to the PC, logging in and saying “Use my account… that way, if they trace it, they think it's a vigilante job”. Nodding, Bai appeared, asking “How are we perchance traveling there?”. Leaping, before they could raise their weapons, he raised and waved his arms, saying “Hold it, hold it, it's fine! She’s a friend!”. Breathing heavily, Lunch asked “Shit… why… goddammit Sanagi, what the hell?”. “We haven’t had a chance to explain her yet but… she’s cool” Nemissa said, then turned to Bai and said “I’ve got an ability to jump in… we’re using that cause then Sanagi can still summon”. Raising an eyebrow and then smiling, Bai stated “Ahhhhh, so the boy is a magus then? I figured him mere mortal… apologies, young master”. Nodding, he replied “Recent occupation honestly… but regardless, we’re too deep to back out… ready Six?”. Nodding, Six said “Logged in and ready… you sure you know where we’re going?”. Shaking his head, he stated “No… but I got a plan… Now, let’s go Nemissa”. Nodding, Nemissa grabbed him and Bai by the shoulder. Then he felt the same sensation he felt when transitioning the first time… unlike before, he felt more used to it. As they appeared, Bai immediately leapt away, looking tense as she said “What… What sorcery tis this!? What are you!? How-” but stopped, composed herself, and said “A-apologies… I was… caught off guard”. Nodding, he said “Tohsaka-san reacted much the same… now” and pulled out his Comp, saying “To find my sister” and activated the Access Point Scanner (APS) app. Then he walked over to one and plugged it in, saying “Now to crack in…” and activated his cracking program, saying “Bai, keep an eye out. I need 5 minutes”. Nodding, Bai stated “T’will be done” and vanished. 

 

Rin

 

As they arrived, they stepped out. Kuzunoha stayed in spirit form, as she rather not have to explain that. However, even then, she knew Spooky might not keep a lid on it. Spooky, looking at her, said “You sure we should keep it from them? They might feel better knowing we’ve got-” but she interrupted, saying “Spooky… why did you become a magus?”. Without hesitation, Spooky stated “To protect my team”. Looking at him, she stated “Do you truly believe exposing them to my family’s research into true magic is at all fulfilling that obligation?”. Spooky shook his head as she said “I thought so… now. We need to do some research… I’m really curious about that Kuzunoha clan… they sound like they have a deep history… the kind that leaves traces”. Nodding, Spooky said “My team can handle that… in the meantime… think your side could do us a favor?”. Looking at him, she raised an eyebrow. She knew it was coming but had some hope that it’d wait. However, before she could sigh, he continued, asking “Could you… look into Nemissa? Specifically… can we unfuse her from Hitomi? Maybe into an artificial body?”. Blinking, she stopped. She hadn’t expected the question. She expected something else. Shirou spoke this time, saying “Is… ah, right… she isn’t exactly a natural existence is she…?”. Nodding, she answered “Indeed… and it is high time we got some answers… alright, Masahiro-san. I’ll look into Nemissa for you”. She then proceeded into the ‘base’ and saw Lunch and Six hunched over the PC. “Ah… excellent timing” she said “Our trip was fruitful… your boss is now an apprentice magus of the Kuzunoha clan. So you have some measure of protection… just don’t dip further than you need to. It’ll only provide so much…. Also, Nemissa must remain a secret”. Lunch, looking at her, frowned deeply. Then asked “Uhhhhhh….. How… how secret we talk’in?”. “Fairly secret” she replied “Clock tower must not know of her abilities specifically… up to that point, we can merely explain her as a possessive phantasmal beast. Why?”. Looking at the screen, and then her, Lunch began to say “Oh noth-” but was stopped as Six said “Dude, not cool. Don’t lie to teammates… look, Nemissa, Arata, and some new lady joining them leapt in”. She blinked once. Then twice. Then she asked “What new lady?”. 

 

Arata

 

He located her. He scanned for the location of Tomoko’s active account. Unplugging his Comp, he stood and turned, saying “C’mon… got her location. She’s at the VR Museum”. Nodding, Nemissa began walking as Bai appeared. As he walked, Bai asked “Is this how all humans experience ‘games’ nowadays?”. Shaking his head, he said “Not always… until a year ago, most VR games were stiff… even after, there was a bit of an uncanny valley vibe from them… Paradigm X is the first VR game of it’s time…”. Looking at Bai, he said “Costs a lot to really experience it like we are… but it can be”. Looking around, Bai asked “Just… what is possible… in this fake world…?”. “About anything... “ he replied “Hachi-san is still datamining it for hidden features”. Looking away, Bai said “Thank you… young master for sating my curiosities”. He nodded as they arrived, looking at the door ahead. Opening and entering, they were in a dark room and a single woman in an official-looking white outfit. The only outlier was the white and blue jester cap on her head. “Hello” a masculine voice said from the woman “Welcome to the VR Theatre… where would you like to go?”. “The VR Art Museum” he replied and blinked as he watched a door ahead open, the woman gesturing and saying “Through the door then and please, enjoy yourselves today”. Nodding, he and his group walked through. 

 

“So… where we headed?” Nemissa asked. “Straight ahead” he muttered, looking at his Comp “Her account pinged as straight ahead” and walked ahead. Bai flanked him, asking “What is the plan master? Tis doubtful her captor will relinquish her easily”. As he booted up and ran the program, he replied “Take him down… no reason not to, right?”. Bai replied “Not what I meant… What's our stratagem? Without one, we’re likely to lose”. Thinking, he knew she was right. However, he had no idea what they were walking into… then he got an idea. Jessup’s yellow lashes could either fully restrain or slow the enemy if it could connect… and Quinya was physically strong and so could attract its attention. “Quinya will draw its attention… then Jessup should restrain him… and Nemissa should freeze him. Then you strike”. Nodding, Bai stated “A fine strategy… yes. I will comply. That said, master, I will devise my own stratagems as contingencies… one must be prepared for chaos on the battlefield”. He nodded, saying “Frankly, I usually get by winging it… but that’s dangerous… and reckless, something I can’t afford”. Laughing, Nemissa stated “Reckless suits me just fine… but alright. Let’s try your strategy”. Then Hitomi took over, saying “Nemissa! It isn’t good to be reckless! What if we die!?”. “Then we die” Nemissa stated “and while having fun. Sounds good to me”. Bai tilted their head, murmuring “I wonder… tis it true… or tis it simply bluster…?”. Nemissa glared at Bai, but softened and said nothing. However his attention was elsewhere… he saw someone down a hall enter a painting. Frowning, he slowly had an idea where Tomoko really was. His fears were confirmed when they entered an open space with only a picture of a dolphin in an ocean hanging on a wall. “Methinks your locating was off… perhaps she’s behind the museum?” Bai suggested. “Sanagi, I don’t see her… or a way forward… what do we do?” Nemissa asked. He walked to the picture, saying “We’re on the right track… they did plan this at launch… I didn’t think they implemented it yet though…”. He reached up, touching it and saying “The pictures could be entered… that was the final plan-” and then he was somewhere else “For launch… guys?”. 

 

It didn’t take his team long to follow. First Bai and Nemissa appeared at the same time, both saying “Are you okay!?”. Hitomi took over, floating over and saying “I was so worried! You just… vanished!”. Then Nemissa took over, saying “I… jeez, don’t do that again… at least let me go first!”. He replied “It’s fine… sorry about that… I thought it’d be different”. “Why?” Bai asked “You mentioned something like that before… what do you mean?”. Turning, as Quinya and Jessup appeared, he explained “When the alpha was out, Algonsoft revealed plans to make the art museum more interactive… letting people enter paintings outright… revolutionize how museums are operated”. Looking at them, he stated “Originally, it’d just open a… wormhole kind of deal… seems they opted for a more resource friendly option”. Looking around, Bai stated “It is… difficult… to… determine our place in the world…”. Looking at her, he stated “It’s best not to try… the concept of the digital world being 3d is… difficult to comprehend alone…”. Nodding, Bai replied “Aye… understanding such a thing… nigh impossible for me of such ancient blood, sadly”. Facing ahead, he gazed ahead. Then Bai said “I can see your sister… but don’t bother”. “Why?” he asked, trying to stay calm. He knew she didn’t mean anything by it but… it still upset him. Tomoko was ahead and her captor was too. Bai answered “A boundary field is ahead… ‘endless maze’ deployment by the sense of it… we’ll be wander’in for hours try’in to reach her”. Looking at him, to which he looked back, Bai stated “We best find the key to this ‘lock’... I can dismantle it, but that’d take time…”. “Time we don’t have” Nemissa muttered, looking ahead “Can you trace it? The key? I can see some of it when I concentrate but-” however was stopped as Bai asked shocked “You can… see the prana of the boundary field…?”. Nodding, Bai stated “That… kind of trait hasn’t been seen since the age of gods… you usually must have magic circuits in your eyes… do you…?”. Nemissa nodded, then he saw those circuit board blue lines criss-cross on her face and over her eyes, nose, and even mouth and ears. “I also… am starting to smell, hear, and taste it. Is that… bad?” Nemissa asked. Bai shook her head, saying “Not exactly… I’ve certainly never heard of a magus like you… what are you? I’ve noticed now you keep… changing” Bai responded. “I’m Nemissa… the other is Hitomi. We’ve got an arrangement. Right, Hi-” but was interrupted as Hitomi took over, saying loudly “It’s not an arrangement! You forced your way in here! I’d get rid of you if I could!”. Nemissa took over, yelling “Ugh, this again? Get over it! This is Nemissa’s body now! Be grateful that I’m nice enough to let you inhabit it too!”. Hitomi then took control again, yelling back “That’s my line!”. Before Nemissa could respond after wrestling back control, he asked Nemissa sharply “Nemissa, can you really see the prana of whatever will prevent us further progress? If so, can you follow any that goes out the way we came?”. Nemissa stared ahead, then followed something he couldn’t see, saying “Yeah…. Actually I can. This way” and left. He followed after her. 

 

Rin

 

Rin was now extremely concerned. Hachi had apparently worked on a homebrew version of the app the Comp had to access the security cameras of Amami City. Not that she got it. All she knew is that they had a connection into Amami Airport and were using it to pull footage from last night, at her request. She needed to see the summoning of this strange Chinese lady. Eventually, Lunch said “Got it Tohsaka-san. Here” and played it. She leaned over on one side, Shirou the other, with Spooky and Six standing over him. They all stared as they watched a strange woman with alabaster skin and extremely thin limbs in a white robe direct Arata. They didn’t have audio, but she didn’t need it soon enough. She knew the ritual circles pattern. Even more, she recognized the gestures Arata made… What caught her off guard was when he pulled out his Comp. “Why pull that out? It’s useless in this situation….” she started, but then Spooky said “No… no not quite… that thing has a program to control phantasmals right…? Couldn’t it theoretically hold coding to contract them too….?”. “Contract… what?” Lunch asked, as Six said “Yeah… is something going on?”. Shaking his head, Spooky said “Her call… but I know what I’m seeing… Arata just did something… either very good or very stupid….”. Shirou commented “or Both… that will be a great asset to him but… it’s not gonna help us keep Clock Tower off your scent…”. Nodding, Tohsaka said “Geez… you all can’t help yourselves can you…?”. Laughing, Lunch leaned back, saying “Naaah… What kinda hacker group would we be if we could?”. Sighing, she moved away, saying “Well… I can’t fault him… he had no way of knowing… still. This confirms a new fear… how did the society get my family’s research?”. Shirou sighed, asking “Is it possible that the society had connections they could exploit…? Maybe one of the other two families?”. Nodding, Rin said with a small growl “Yes… most likely Matou… Zouken was a deplorable magus... “ before looking at them, saying “Even so… this means we need to study this more… Spooky, can we investigate the places these are made?”. Nodding, Spooky stated “Sure. I’ll do some digging… I have some contacts that can give me samples easily enough” and then walked out of the base. Lunch then said “Man. To think all this was hid’in under tha surface… how long do you think it’s been there?”. She could only stare at the image now shifting to them leaving the aquatic painting and exploring the museum, wondering that question herself. 

 

Arata

 

Nemissa lead them out and to the right. Before they could go down the hall, they heard a voice call out, saying “Aye, that’s a clever girl!”. Turning, they saw a man dressed in purple and silver jester’s clothing walk out from behind a pillar. He stood tall, at seven feet. He’d think nothing more than that they were… until Bai, looking distressed, asked “Who… who are you?”. Smiling wide, the man said in a strained accent “You folk ain’t from around here are yaaaa….? Still, ya got long faces… whyyyyy?”. Hesitating, he started to say “No rea-” but was interrupted as the man suddenly shifted into a woman with hip-long hair, saying “Ah… it’s your sister no doubt… poor thing… that thing’s lies really have gotten to her…”. Eyes widening, before he could say anything the woman then shifted into an adrogenous figure, saying “but hey… hey, hey, hey… I got a secret! Want to hear the secret!?”. Nemissa and Hitomi suddenly screamed out “Just get to the point already!”. “Nemissa!” he started, when the figure changed back to a man, saying “Oh it’s fine, it’s fine! Promise! Oh, but the secret!” before suddenly becoming a woman again, saying “The secret… is that I know how to break it~”. Blinking, he asked “H-how? Please, tell me!”. Nodding, the woman changed into their androgenous form and stated “Simple! You need merely play chess! Oh, but sorry for you, some pieces are missing!”. Frowning, the being became a man and said “Don’t sweat, don’t sweat! It’ll be easy-peasy! They’re all in this exact museum! I’ll even tell you that they’re only in the enterable paint’ins!”. Sighing, Bai said “Understood… but why so generous? What are you after, spirit?”. Staring at Bai with suddenly golden eyes, the figure gained masculine yet feminine features. They weren’t simply androgenous now, but they had the features of all three changes he’d observed thus far. The voice echoed somewhat but was definitely somewhat feminine as it said “Oh I’m just having a bit of fun… get the knight and rook pieces and find me…. Then let’s play a game for the bishop piece”. Then, with a flash of blacklight, the being vanished. 

 

“Shit… we’re not doing this are we? We can just go-” Nemissa began when Bai suddenly asked in a tone and accent different than she ever used “Nemisssssa. Do you comprehend what you jusssssst witnessssssssed?”. Tilting her head, she stated “She had a lot of power, but we’ve handled enemies like-” but Bai interrupted her, saying “That wassss a divine sssspirit. Far beyond anything we possssesssss…”. Turning, she explained “I do not know it’sssss identity… but that presssssence wasssss unmisssstakably that of an old god”. Blinking, Nemissa asked “Old god….? Wait, those still exist?”. Bai hesitated, then spoke as she normally did, saying “In a sense… they don’t exist over here anymore. However… sometimes, with special circumstances, summoning one is possible…”. “What circumstances…? Is it like my situation?” Hitomi asked, as Nemissa took over, asking “Wait… wait! Does that mean Nemissa is a goddess?”. Nodding, Bai answered “Quite possibly… specifically, a Divine Spirit requires a human with certain qualifications…. An inordinate amount of prana is needed… and finally, one must have a catalyst very specific to that god”. Thinking, he mused “So… these guys… they’ve even summoned gods….?”. Nodding, Bai said “Master… be careful with that entity… I can say we cannot defeat it now… however… we also will not proceed past it without appeasing it. As we are, at least”. Nodding, he sighed and said “Then let’s go find those pieces. Hopefully that’s it”. With that, they split up to search the museum. 

 

They found them downstairs. They had tried each painting and eventually they were led by staff. “Here it is… ‘Cave Hidden Behind the Waterfall’, submitted by one Hirozi Aradaki. He designed the painting and coded the interior… please, enjoy the exhibit, young guests”. Nodding, he responded “Will do”. He watched as the staff member left to guide other patrons to the paintings they sought. Turning back, Quinya, Jessup, and Bai appeared. They went in first followed by them. Bai was gone as expected while Quinya was walking ahead. “He’s taking points. He insisted” Jessup stated, flanking him as Nemissa and him followed after Quinya, finishing with “Bai Suzhen has opted to follow behind in spirit form… ‘more resource friendly’ she claimed”. Nodding, Nemissa stated “It is… I feel no tug on my prana”. As they came to a crossroads in the cavern, a sign sat in the center. Walking up, he read aloud “The chess piece is ahead, go ahead and take it”. Blinking, Nemissa asked “R-repeat that?”. Looking at her, he replied “It says the chess piece is ahead”. “Then… let’s go?” Nemissa questioned before walking. He followed and knew something was up. “Quinya… be on guard”. Nodding, it approached the door cautiously before suddenly leaping back. It avoided a pair of women from slashing him with their hair… Then he blinked when they corrected their momentum and began to fly, banking to attack again. Nemissa held a hand out, yelling “Roma Grandor!” and sending forth the pale blue beam of light. One of the women landed to avoid the attack but the other was slammed into the cave wall and froze to it. Then from around the corner, he saw a large, pig-like lizard walk and roar at them like a dragon. 

 

“Tch! They keep coming!” Nemissa cried, reaiming to attack again. Suddenly, Bai appeared next to her, pulling her to the ground and saying “Careful!”. The maneuver prevented Nemissa taking a cut from the hair-wing slash from the flying woman. Jessup stated “I’ve got this! Stand back!” before sending its yellow lashes out at the lizard. It tried to leap back but it moved too slowly. Not only did it get captured, but the yellow lashes began to visibly burn it, making it squeal. “Shut it up! Before it attracts attention!” Bai stated, her hands shifting into claws as she lashed out at the woman. The woman avoided both attacks and tried to flee, but Bai had shifted her tail as well. It wrapped around the woman's legs and slammed her onto the ground. Leaping suddenly, she moved and bit into the woman's neck. As the two struggled, he shivered as he saw the woman shift more and more into a bird-like being, growing feathers. His attention turned to the large reptile. He simply leveled his shotgun and fired. The bullets sank in and the creature squealed and then fell limp. It, and the other two, dissipated into blue particles. “These… were weak” Bai stated “Though mayhaps that tis only true cause they’re my natural prey”. Turning, he asked “Are they… really…?”. Nodding, Bai stated “When a phantasmal and over here, I clearly recall hunting Moh Shuyuu that would wander into the territory of my master’s field. He’d often complain, but twas better that way…”. As he thought, Bai chuckled and said “Dwell not on it, child. Tis a rule of nature. The strong prey on the weak… and the weak outwit and humiliate the strong”. Shaking his head, he replied “Not what I was thinking about… what is a ‘Field’ if I may?”. “Ah… my mistake. I thought you knew… but it makes sense you don’t… well to summarize, a ‘Field’ is a pseudo-reality marble. Normally, such powers completely overwrite reality… however, a ‘Field’ only partially does… the basic function is to provide ample prana for a master to make use of. Either to feed his various phantasmals, or to empower his spells. Tis safer than a marble, that be sure… with one exception…” Bai explained, keeping an eye out as she did “doing so opens a temporary residency for those of the other side… thus, feral phantasmals like these. Though… I sense not a field so their presence is… unusual at best”. Frowning, Nemissa stated “Tsk… dammit. Locked… we need something called a ‘Scroll of Divinity’... no mana to follow either”. “Then we search for it the old way” Bai stated “Split up and search… based on that, we should each be able to hande it… well, except you, master. Jessup, Quinya should be enough though”. Nodding, he stated “Alright… Nemissa, you good?”. Nemissa nodded, saying “Yeah. No problems here… see ya” and then walked off. Bai vanished and with a deep breath he went deeper into the caverns another way. 

 

Bai Suzhen

 

She slithered into the maze of caverns. She had yet to discuss her strengths and weaknesses with her master, something she should’ve done quickly, but she hadn’t had a chance. Many things happened in rapid succession. She didn’t mind though, as this was an unusual war. She had been summoned from a member of the phantasmal species she was part of. Called ‘Bai Suzhen’ by the society, she knew their real name. She’d never say it though. Mortal as she was, she still felt loyalty to them. As she looked between her options, she sighed before closing her eyes. She invoked her Mystic Eyes of Clairvoyance, a part of her full noble phantasm, and opened them. She saw herself go every which way, unsuccessfully. She meets old men within, but they lack what she requires… She meets up with Arata and Nemissa again but finds out the men might be lying. She finds them and this time uses magecraft on them to hypnotize them. Neither have what they seek…. Closing her eyes and deactivating her Mystic Eyes, she opened them again, looking around, saying “Well… I should do some hunting. So that I don’t need to draw on my master’s prana”. Turning, she smirked as she spied a trio of Moh Shuyuu staring at her defiantly. “Perfect” she murmured as she sped after them. She found her meal. 

 

Nemissa

 

She was irritated. The treasure room, where the chess piece lay, was sealed and kept her from the other treasures. As she wandered some phantasmal would get bold while trying to sneak up on her. She was gathering a small crowd of sneaking beasts behind her… however, a Roma Grandor, a powerful spell she learned a day ago, ended the threat. She never questioned the ability and how it worked; she just knew whatever the primary beam of light hit would be frozen solid and the light emitted was harmful due to zapping prana and heat from them as well. Then she came across a door. Opening it, inside was an old man resting on a rocking chair and reading a book. He wore ancient but simple orange robes. Looking at her, the man asked “Oh… hey… wh-who are you?”. “I’m Nemissa… I’m looking for a divine scroll. Have one?”. Tilting his head, he nodded, saying “Plenty…. Buddhism… shintoism… ah, I got one from ammy…” and slowly stood, heading to the wall and pulling open a part of it. “I’m looking for the one for the treasure room” she responded. Turning around with a downcast face, the man responded “Aw… than sorry ta say but I can’t help… Zazoban has that one… dunno where he holds up in these caves anymore”. Nodding, she stated “Well thanks anyway… bye” and turned to leave. 

 

Arata

 

“So… you’re sure Raboan has it?” he asked the purple-robed man. Nodding, the man stated “Yes youn’un… he should… ‘course he ain’t gonna admit it…”. Nodding, he sighed and said “Thanks anyway… I need to go” and turned to leave. “O-one sec young man… wh-what do ya intend ta do with the treasure?”. “Just get the chess piece and go… all I need” he replied, leaving. He looked down the way and saw a few of those slow lizards. One roared and began charging. Leveling his shotgun, he waited until it was within a meter of him and fired, then stepped to the side. He pumped the shotgun to reload and watched as Jessup wrapped up the second one. Firing his shotgun, it went still and then dissipated. He noticed that his Comp absorbed the particles it emitted. “What the….?” he began, opening his Comp. He checked the admin logs and saw a line saying ‘240 units of Magnetite created’. Blinking, he ran a search for any terminology using Magnetite… then he found it. “Magnetite… crystalized mystery only attainable through obscure or unusual means… only known method… the ritual devised by Naoya Minegishii…?” he read, muttering aloud, then asked “Quinya, Jessup, know anything about ‘Magnetite’?”. Nodding, Jessup stated “It’s an alternative method for summoner’s to summoners to supply their beasts with prana”. Quinoa added “Generally, magus summoners use them so that they can focus on magecraft without worrying about prana supply”. Looking between them, he asked “Is it… possible for me to use magecraft?”. Nodding, Jessup stated “Yeah. We can’t teach you, it’s muscle memory and instinct from generations to us…. But a proper magus prolly could”. Quinoa turned, looking, and said “That isn’t to say not all beasts are like us. Some may well know magecraft and may be able to teach it… someday, you may recruit one capable of it”. Smiling, he continued on. He decided if he manages to get out of this alive to ask Rin to teach him. 

 

As they met up, he stated “I met an old man… he didn’t have the scroll and pointed to ‘Raboan’... that name one you two encountered?”. Shaking her head, Nemissa said “Nah… mine said Zazoban had it… what about you Bai?”. Nodding, Bai stated “I met mine. Neither had what we seek… the first was Rabaon and the second was Jizu… though interestingly, both claimed ‘Riguro’ had it”. Thinking, Arata suggested “Perhaps one of them lied?”. Bai nodded, saying “They are. At first, they point to others… ‘Rabaon’ pointed to ‘Jizu’, and ‘Jizu’ to ‘Zazoban’. After I hypnotized them, that changed entirely. They both said ‘Riguro’ had it”. Nemissa hummed, saying “I never got mine’s name… maybe he lied?”. He blinked as he saw Bai’s eyes suddenly shimmer. They took on a purple coloring and glowed. Then she said “It would appear yours is in fact named ‘Riguro’... and he does have what we seek. I will hypnotize him to get it…” and then the shimmer vanished. Turning to him, Bai said “Master, let us go. We should make haste after all”. Nemissa nodded, saying “I owe that old man a pounding for ly’in to me anyway” and stormed in the direction of the one she met. Sighing, he followed, saying “Alright… just… what was that?”. Blinking, then looking like she remembered something, Bai explained “Ah… apologies, master. We have yet to discuss… the proper timing never showed. Those were one of my powers, the Mystic Eyes of Clairvoyance. I can gaze into the future with them. Not terribly far without burning vast amounts of prana, but I in small uses I can do it without much cost”. Thinking, he said “I guess going over your skillset would be good… alright. After this, okay?”. Nodding, Bai replied “Understood, master… errr… for now, shall we stop Nemissa from making my hypnosis difficult?”. He ran at that, realizing Nemissa might be serious about injuring the man. 

 

Bai Suzhen

 

She arrived first. Even if emulating the real world, being a place of non-physicality had its advantages. By spiritualizing, she was capable of passing through solid objects. Under normal circumstances, Gaia would prevent such a violation of reality. Here though, Gaia held no such power, for whatever reason. Phasing through and moving in a straight line, she appeared in the room. “Wh-what the!?” the old man cried out, standing swiftly. A tag she produced sped at the man, who tried to avoid it, and the moment it stuck to his robe he stopped his evasive actions. He stood straight and asked “How might I help you, young lady?”. “I require the divine scroll to unlock the treasure room… be a dear and hand it over to the lady that next comes?” she requested. Nodding, the man went to a hidden compartment in the wall and produced a golden scroll case. At that precise moment, as her clairvoyant vision permitted, Nemissa stormed in. “Hey! You- Oh, Bai… hello. Got here first huh?” Nemissa commented. Blinking, she turned and tilted her head in wonder. Nemissa never stopped in her vision. She only regarded her after getting the divine scroll. She slowly nodded, saying “Y-yeah… If you arrived and roughed him up, hypnotizing him would be more difficult… thusly, I came first… now you need not fear that… if you ever did”. Laughing, Nemissa said “Well, you sure know me… well if it’d cause you trouble, I won’t… hey! Old man! Just give us the scroll and we’ll go!”. Nodding, the man walked over and offered it, saying “For you, young lady… please, make good use of it”. Nodding, Nemissa said “Nemissa always does good for herself. Ciao!” before turning and yelling “Yo! Sanagi! We got it!” and walking away. She then decided to test something. She moved forward, in her humanoid form, and used her Mystic Eyes. She saw Nemissa was going to gloat about being the one to get the scroll, absconding her part of things entirely. As she approached, Nemissa stated “So yeah. We got it… though gotta give it ta Bai. She’s got some handy tricks… I’m surprised. She might even be stronger than me… means I need to somehow get stronger”. She narrowed her eyes and realized something then… Nemissa was completely capable of defying the visions of her clairvoyance. Just having True Magic like she had demonstrated in bringing them there wasn’t enough to explain it. Just how did Nemissa defy her visions of the future so casually?

 

Arata

 

They entered the next painting. Nemissa told them to go ahead and that she’d catch up. He sent Quinya and Jessup with her but agreed. As they walked to the next one, Bai asked “Tell me… how long have you known Nemissa?”. Thinking, he admitted “Only about… three days. Maybe a bit more. Why?”. Looking back, Bai stated “I know I’ve known you two less but… Nemissa isn’t… normal. Even among phantasmals. Something about her… defies logic”. Looking at her now, he asked “What do you mean?”. Sighing, Bai stated “I explained my clairvoyance, yes? Normally, it is infallible. Even if it shows an unfavorable future… however… somehow Nemissa makes it so. That should be impossible. However, with her, it isn’t… and for her it almost seems casual… like she isn’t aware of it”. Thinking, he asked “Isn’t that… a good thing?”. Shaking her head, she stated “Normally, yes. I can do small things to subtly change the outcome… however, it’s different with Nemissa… for while unaware, they will do things the Clairvoyance predicts until aware. Nemissa however… she… seemed completely unbound… something I’ve never encountered”. Thinking, he mentioned “Nemissa always was an odd case… maybe she’s more special than we thought…? Should we ask her?”. Shaking her head, Bai stated “Master… her knowing her ability to defy fate could lead to irreparable damage. We should take great care to not make her aware…”. Sighing, he said “Alright, alright… still… how bad could it be?”. He saw Bai visibly hesitate before saying “I suppose… not much… ah. Master… a thread ahead. I believe this to be the picture” before moving ahead. Frowning, he knew he upset Bai… but that in turn made him frown. Not with distaste. He felt bad he made her upset… but something else bothered him. If it was bad… how bad? That question… was scaring him. Then he heard a voice call out. Turning, he saw Nemissa approach. “Hello” he greeted, asking “Ready? We found it”. Nodding, Nemissa stated “Yep. Thanks for your friends, Sanagi. They were fairly helpful back there… turned out, it kinda had a security failsafe… summoned every demon inside. Boy running was fun”. He replied “Glad to see your okay” and watched as she entered first. Then he entered. After that, he felt his allies enter and Bai. Blinking however, he was presented with a small problem… they were on rolling, rocky hills with a red sky. 

 

They wandered for a long time and found nothing. They changed directions constantly but never got anywhere… until they found it. A strange floating robe and pointed hat ahead, and from the glow in front of it holding a lantern. He began to approach, about to ask for directions, when it turned. He felt the words never come up at the sight of it. Underneath the hate sat a jack o’ lantern. Further, the inside of the robe was empty. Even the arms that the gloves should be on were absent. Holding a lantern from its metallic ring, the figure asked “Can I help ya?”. The face moved as if alive as it spoke, fully animated. Blinking, he said “Y-yeah… sorry uh, do you know your way around here?”. Shaking its head, it stated “Nah really. I do… have a handy-dandy guide ‘owever”. Blinking, he asked “Then… can we borrow it?”. “No can do. It only works fer me, see?” the pumpkin head responded, but thinking it said “Though… maybe… jus’ maybe… I can be convinced. See, it’s run’in low on power. Give it a refuel and I’ll guide ya… though I ain’t fight’in. Thass your job”. “Tis a fair deal” Bai said, thinking “We can handle ourselves fair enough”. Nemissa laughed, saying “Absolutely… so just guide us around little guy and we’re set!”. Laughing, the figure stated “How naive… just that and I’ll help… I’m a phantasmal you know… and frankly, as great as this world’s been it’s a bit… constricting. If you square up some prana though… I might reconsider”. “How much?” he asked “I… could recruit you”. Tilting its head, it looked him over. He knew that look. It was the phantasmal sizing him up for worth. He didn’t alter his stance however. He didn’t know what body language would signify to the beast that he was strong… after all, they weren’t human. He could accidentally display weakness. So by simply being as he was, at the very least, nothing would change. “Huh… interest’in… those eyes… yer calculat’in how best to display yerself… jus’ a tip, yer right. We ain’t human an’ have different values. Good move not chang’in… still, gonna take a lot more than that… how about I taste yer prana”. “You suggest my master isn’t worthy of you?” Bai asked, glaring now, but the phantasmal simply retorted “Heh… babe, I know you’ve been in this game… jus’ cause somethin’s worth don’t mean it’s worthwhile… now… about that taste? In fact… while yer at it, lemme see yer entourage”. Nodding, he stated “Quinya, Jessup, appear… as for prana… how?”. “Jes’ feed yer beasts. I’ll intercept and lick a bit” it replied, flying between Quinya and him. As he did so, the floating phantasmal had a tongue of fire come out and lick something. 

 

“Ho-oh? A neat flavor… unique texture… an’ fresh. Some say aged is better, I think fresh ‘as a quality ya can’t quite beat without lotsa ag’in” the beast stated, looking at him “Guess the deals chang’in. I’ll be your phantasmal, under contract. Ye provide me with that juicy prana, show me ‘round the world, and I’ll happily guide and serve ye… even fight, if’in it pleases ye”. Nodding, he pulled out his Comp and said “I agree to that… what’s your name?”. Blinking, the beast said “My… name? Ya… know thass not needed right?”. He nodded, saying “I know… but I prefer it. Think of it as me showing respect”. It stared at him for several long moments until Bai asked “Worthwhile now, no?” to which it responded with “No kidd’in. Sheesh kid, where ya been the last twenty years? If ya were ‘round when it all started, we’d a’ think better a’ yer type”. It then tapped its lantern to his Comp, with it affirmatively stating “New Phantasmal Registered; Type Pyro Jack”. Laughing, the ‘Pyro Jack’ answered “Fergive me, I fergot ta answer yer question. Name’s Avara. Pleasure ta be in yer company”. “Then… where do we go?” he asked, Avara answering “Thissa way! Follow me!” and then began floating in a direction. They all followed. As they walked, he noticed something strange. Arava would occasionally suddenly change direction. Eventually, he stopped fully and said “Ah… so this is where what you seek lies... “ then looked at the floor, then him and said aloud “Master! What you seek lies buried!”. Frowning, Quinoa stated proudly “Let me master! My powers are situated for this kind of thing!” before its horn morphed into a drill shape. The horn then moved and began to drill into the ground. Jessup flew near, asking “So… Avara. Can ya tell how far it is?”. “Yep!” Avara responded “It’s pretty close! So just another minute!”. Quinya stopped soon after, changing his horn into a shovel and manually removing rock and dirt until eventually a knight piece was revealed. Nemissa moved and retrieved it, saying “There we go… now we can go confront that bastard!”. Nodding, he added “If we’re lucky… his trial won’t be horrid”. With those comments, they turned and left.  

 

Ginko

 

She sat in her room, sipping wine. At that moment a shadow emerged from a corner. Barely sparing it a glance, she saw it was a japanese man in a business outfit. “I suppose I know your purpose… though are you certain of this action?” The man simply leveled a gun, saying “Nothing personal. Just business… the society is tired of your-” and then screamed, firing. It simply sank into the mirror. Coming from the shadow, a pale man in traditional japanese mans chef clothing emerged. The business man fell forward, a chefs knife in his back. “They’re desperate if they’re attacking on Victor’s ship… are we certain this location is safe?” the chef asked. “Sukeroku… what are you doing in the area?” Ginko asked, not answering. “I came at the request of Kyouji on his way to deal with the society involved with the Daidarabotchi Project. He thought it a diversion and wanted extra Kuzunoha here” Sukeroku answered. Sighing, Ginko said “As safe as I thought, it does appear Victor can no longer keep me safe… fine. Let us move to location ten”. “Are you certain… that is out of the city. Moving will be-” Sukeroku began, but Ginko interrupted saying “Reiho will remain. She has duties she must attend within the city, as well as the investigation… however, we need not be here. Everything is well in hand… if things go as I think, there is no need for us anymore”. Hesitating, Sukeroku sighed deeply, saying “Even now… you place your trust in such old phantoms… though, then, they served us well… even if he and I are cursed…. Fine. When are we leaving?”. Looking back to the mirror and frowning, Ginko stated “Oh… one night oughta do. Oh! Send a message to Kyouji-kun. I have a prospective apprentice I’d like him to appraise. Tell him it isn’t urgent however. After all… if he dies here, then the potential isn’t worth it”. Nodding, Sukeroku stated “Understood… I will begin preparations for the transport at once” and then moved towards a device in the corner. Ginko pulled a shard out, placing her long cigarette stick to it and making Victor’s face appear in it and said “Victor. I do not blame you. You did all you could… however, the society is desperate for some reason. They seek my elimination at all costs… and so I must abscond. I wish not to bring war to your doorstep. Apologies I left like this”. After that, she removed it and the image disappeared. She tossed it onto the bed and said “Now… we wait for Reiho….”. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

Chess by the Window



Arata

 

They entered the chess painting. Once in, they stood in a brick hallway. A voice emanated, saying “Ohhhh? You’re actually here…?” before becoming feminine, saying “Well, come on in! First door on the right, refreshments at the end of the hall… do make sure you’re ready” and then became slightly warped, as if three voices spoke slightly out of sync “ Cause once you step in, you’re not stepping out ”. Frowning, he began but Nemissa said “I agree Sanagi… let’s just charge ahead!”. With that, he opened the door and stepped in. His phantasmal beasts followed and Bai did too, who shifted to her half human-half snake form. Looking around, with shimmering purple eyes, Bai stated “Interesting… we’re to play a game?”. With a chuckle, the figure came from around the corner, stating “Yep! Guess what the game is? No cheating or you’ll receive a penalty!”. Frowning, he looked around, noticing the chess pieces. “Chess?” he guessed, to which the jester replied “Bingo! We’re playing chess! Not just any chess though! Live chess!”. Suddenly, the pieces warped into phantasmals. The queens became robed figures with metallic skin and a spiked crown holding an eagle-tipped golden staff and a book. Then the man spoke, saying “Young summoner. There is another difference. You, for this battle, will be the King. If you die, the game is lost… and your souls are mine . Your friends will join as their own pieces, chosen by them, or you since you are the King. If they are ‘defeated’, they merely are moved elsewhere… understood?”. Eyes wide, he began to protest, saying “Wait! This isn’t what we agreed to! We just-” but was stopped as the jester said with three familiar voices “Do not mistake me summoner. I am not your ally. I am here to indulge myself. Nothing more… either play, or forfeit. I care not which”. Growling, he said “Dammit…”. Bai stated “We fell into their trap… even with my clairvoyance…”. The jester laughed, saying “Sadly for you, tricks are my speciality… now. Take your positions. The game is due to start!”. 

 

Nemissa took up the role of a bishop, begrudgingly. Bai likewise took up residence as one. Quinya became a knight while Jessup took a Rook position. Avara decided on the other rook. Their other knight position became another Cunhur. Likewise, the jester’s bishop pieces morphed to reflect their decisions, with one exception. The rook pieces were a new kind of entity. Some sort of injured men, whose blood became shadow and moved around them like a moving puddle. “Be careful of those master” Bai warned “That is an especially strong phantasmal species… spirits of dead apostles warped by the Other Side…”. Nodding, he replied “Understood… hey. Does this function like normal chess?”. The jester’s feminine side responded, saying “Somewhat… the only difference is the pieces strength. They are beasts and so their own power determines the beasts power… also, every five battles a piece will fully heal and regain all their expended energy, including the kings… now. Shall we begin the duel?”. Sighing, he replied “I don’t have a choice do I?”. Shaking their head, the figure stated “Not exactly… i suppose you could just die”. “No thanks… who goes first?” he asked, to which the jester replied “I will. A7 to A5”. The pixie there floated forward two spaces, saying “Ehehehe… humans! Been so long since I played with humans!”. Looking around for options, he decided to move similarly, saying “E2 to E4”. The pixie floated forward, giggling and saying “I hope he’s smarter than the last one!”. 

 

“Interesting play… but will it work? G8 to F6” the jester replied. In response one of the enemy Cunhurs moved between a pair of pixies to the designated space. He knew already that if he left the pixie he already advanced undefended, the jester would kill it. So he ordered “D2 to D3”. Nodding, the pixie moved to be diagonal to the endangered pixie and then said “Don’t worry sis! I gotcha back!”. Looking at the Jester, he said “Your turn… but I’d be weary”. Smirking, the Jester stated with that voice trio trick “ Oh? You presume to warn me, boy? Well then… try this, boy ” and then the voice became feminine, saying “B8 to C6”. That cunhur moved to be aligned with its fellow and both stared directly at him. He responded with “F2 to F3”. He then noticed something odd. The jester’s smile twitched into a frown for a moment before he ordered “A8 to A6”. The pennangal floated forward, stopping before bumping into the pixie ahead, saying “Just you wait… I’ll kill you all soon!”. “Tsk… what a noisy bug…”. He responded “I know… C1 to B3”. The cunhur moved into position, poised to strike at the fairy. Watching the Jester, he said “This was all some nice movement, but let’s get some” and suddenly the feminine voice took over as it yelled “CARNAGE! F6, ATTACK THE PAWN PIXIE AT E4!!”. With a malicious smirk, the cunhur’s horn turned into a double-edged vertical blade. With a leap, it slashed at Pixie, who attempted to dodge. With a turn of its head, it breathed a fane of ice out, freezing it solid. “Shit!” he said, reacting as the frozen pixie smashed to pieces upon hitting the ground. The cunhur huffed and then stared at the other two. He bit his lip, realizing his misplay. The cunhur was now within attacking distance of his queen, with no way to retaliate… beyond the pixies he had prepared. Biting his lip he made the order “D3… attack… attack the cunhur at E4!”. 

 

He, along with his comrades, were shocked when they received a positive response. “Aye, aye sir! Sister, help me! Combo attack!” the D3 Pixie replied, to which the F3 Pixie replied “Gotcha sis! Lightning goooo!”. Suddenly, a shimmer appeared around Cunhurs head. It began to attack wildly with its horn. Both flew a safe distance away and one maintained the effect while the other rained lightning bolt after lightning bolt onto it. Eventually, the cunhur fell dead, dissipating into blue particles. “What the….?” he began but the Jester cut him off, saying “So what if you accidentally discovered the combo attack? It won’t make a difference! A6, move to B6!”. The pennangal moved to the side. Considering his options, he decided on a bold play. “Quinya, go to H3” he said, looking at him. Quinya nodded, heading there. “I warned you” he stated “Now go… seems like the score is fairly uneven”. 

 

“Tsk… dammit” the Jester, with its feminine voice, growled “Madb, you rushed-” but stopped as the masculine voice said “Enough! Pawn at D7! Move to D5!”. The pixie advanced, laughing as it did. He looked around and considered his options… however just as he said “B2, move-” but stopped as he realized the jester was smirking. Reexamining the board, he saw his mistake. Quinya was vulnerable to attack from the Jester’s left bishop. If he ignored it, it would undoubtedly attack. Biting his lip, he ordered “G2 to G4”. The pixie unworriedly flew into position. Clicking their tongue, the jester stated “Clever… but let me call your bluff. C8 attack G4”. The bishop, looking like Bai Suzhen in her phantasmal state, turned and sped right at the blocking pixie. Quinya turned to face it, but found itself paralyzed. “Wh-what!?” Quinya cried out as the jester informed them “Ah, ah… this board won’t let you try to move out of turn… I decided this instead of, say, a penalty… after all, you must watch it kill your new ally!”. The pixie tried to fight back, firing a bolt of lightning out. However it bounced off of the creatures hide and it was unable to dodge the claws that sliced it apart. Gritting his teeth, he realized something right then. He made a mistake. Pixie wasn’t going to be enough to defeat bishop. “Quinya, retreat to G5” he said, looking at him. Quinya nodded and did so, keeping a close eye on the suzhen. It never lashed out. 

 

“Retreat to F5 Bishop G4” the jester commanded, looking away for a moment. Frowning, he looked to see why the jester made that call and saw why. The queen would’ve been poised to capture it had the Jester captured his pawn. The jester opted instead to have his bishop retreat and prevent counter attack. He decided to use the lapse of offense to bolster his defenses, saying “Jessup, move to B1”. Jessup hovered over somewhat, saying “Gotcha boss… I just hope this ends soon…”. Looking directly at Jester, he stated “We are winning. So there’s that”. Laughing, the Jester responded, “Oh really…? Well, try this on for size!”. Then he said “D5 to D4” and waited. He responded “H2 to H4”. Frowning the Jester commented “Think you’re really clever… Feh. Knight, B4 now”. The cunhur moved to the designated space and waited faithfully. Looking around, he decided to go on the offensive. “Nemissa. It’s time we went on the offensive. Mind moving to F4?”. Nemissa frowned, but said “Sure… only cause I can’t go farther” and then moved to that space. “H7 to H5”. He realized then something was up. The Jester was giving simple commands. Looking around, he considered his next move. 

 

“C3 Knight, advance to A4” he ordered. The cunhur did so and began eyeing the rook within its attack range. The jester, despite frowning, replied simply “B6 to B7”. The Pennangal retreated a square back. He then said “C2 to C3”. The pixie advanced, looking a bit fearful to which he stated “Don’t worry… I have a plan”. Frowning now, the Jester retorted “Another combo attack on my knight? I think not… Knight, retreat to A6”. Nodding, the cunhur did so and he smirked. “Bai… advance and defeat the knight” he ordered. Eyes widened, the Jester cried out in both an adrongenous and feminine voice “No! Dammit, How’d I miss that!”. Bai shot forth like a bullet, her claws sinking into the cunhurs neck. Before it dissipated, Bai pulled her hands out forcing it to instantly and then took a deep breath, absorbing the particles. “D… dammit…” the Jester whimpered, then in a male voice said “No… it matters not. I will win! I move the rook to D7!”. The pennangal quickly moved to the space, clearly afraid of Bai. “Interesting move… Pixie at C3, destroy the pixie at D4!”. Nodding, the Pixie agreed and the two did battle. His pixie started with an illusion, causing the defender to misfire. Then, it moved in and literally choked the other into dissipation. Then, the Jester’s face became neutral. With a melancholic voice, it ordered “E7 to E5”. The pixie, frightfully, advanced. He responded “Knight at A4 to B6”. The cunhur danced there, still watching the Pennangal closely. Apathetically, the Jester commanded “H8 to H6”. The Pennangal moved into the battlefield. 

 

“Man… this is tough… How are you handling this Sanagi?” Nemissa asked, frowning. “It’s not easy” he replied “However… really, it’s a slower version of a battle…. So, ready? I’m going to make a lot of fast plays… you all ready?”. His comrades nodded and then stared forward. “Nemissa, advance to E5!” he said, Nemissa laughing and with a flick of her wrist sending the pixie into the wall with a ball of ice sending it there. As she stepped onto the square, the Jester ordered “F5 to E4”. The suzhen swiftly destroyed the pixie located there and took its place, eyeing him. He then smirked, saying “You lose. Let me show you why… Jessup, move to C1”. With a nod, Jessup moved there with a smirk, lined up to attack the Jester’s cunhur. Frowning, the Jester began to say “Your pennangal can never overcome my Cunhur. It will-” but he cut it off, saying “I believe that one has been in two battles. It’s decently weakened. Unlike a suzhen, it cannot shrug off the attacks of pixies… further, he’s not the only one threatened. What about your suzhen?”. Blinking, the Jester growled, saying “It’s the same-” but he responded “Combo attack. Pixie’s have healing powers, allowing my own Quinya to overpower your Suzhen… so it is threatened. Now choose; Suzhen or Cunhur. One will fall on my next turn”. Frowning deeply, the Jester stated “I… overlooked you, boy. It seems playing was a mistake”. Looking at the field, the Jester ordered “E4 to F5… Suzhen clearly is the superior choice, being immune to pixie damage”. “Then… Jessup, you can handle him right?” he asked, to which Jessup responded “Yes… I take that as an order to move?” to which he nodded. At that, Jessup advanced quickly as did the Cunhur. To the Jester’s shock, Jessup grabbed the spiraling horn and pushed it aside with shocking strength and point blank sent its yellow lashes into it. The cunhur dissipated soon after and he took his place. “I forgot to mention… Jessup is stronger than your average Pennangal. Good job, Jessup” he stated. “Tsk… I have been too lenient… that’s over. Queen, move to E7” the Jester commented, at which point the robed figure stirred. 

 

Moving to the square, it stated “As I evaluated it… sir, you have a 68% chance of victory”. “Ohhh? Excellent… lower than my calculations, but valuable nonetheless. Thank you” the Jester responded. He hummed in thought, then said “Jessup, think you can handle that Pennangal?”. With a nod, he said “Then go ahead and advance”. Jessup flew forward and collided with the other Pennangal. Both took a punch and while Jessup clearly looked injured, he recovered and threw another punch, dissipating the enemy. Then, he advanced to the spot. He mentally checked the 2nd fight. From here, he had to have Jessup fight only pixies. Otherwise, he’d probably die. The Jester smirked and said “So careless… E7 to B4 and with that you are in check”. The robed angel revealed golden wings and flew there. He clicked his tongue, not noticing the move was available. “Queen to D2” he said tensely, his own robed angel flying into the path of the other. “A wise decision” the Jester commented “Two queens fighting would normally end with both destroying each other… however… you’ve miscalculated. Rook, attack the pawn at D4”. The pennangal flew at the pixie, who attempted to fend it off with thunderbolts, but was dispatched with a few hard punches. Then he realized it. The Jester was preparing his own counterattack. “You realize huh?” the Jester commented “Oh if you’d paid attention, you’d have realized this was long planned… regardless, make your move. It may be your last”. He frowned but really he had one trick up his sleeve. He decided to reveal it. “Alright… Here's my response, Jester. I castle” he stated. In that instant, he felt his body move. He went along with it. The other Pennangal moved as well. They stopped at the square after passing. Looking at the Jester, he stated “With me out of the way, an incentive vanishes… what now, Jester?”. Face filled with rage, the Jester replied “So what!? I still have your queen in my grasp, and I can take it! Now do it, Queen! Combo with the Rook, and take it!”. 

 

It played out as he thought. The robed figures fought while the stray pennangal attacked his robed queen. It died shortly after, the enemy queen somewhat damaged but victorious. However, his trap had been set. Now he had to see it through. “Bai, move to C5 and place the Jester in check” he commanded. Blinking and then smirking, Bai did that and eyed the Jester. The Jester looked and stated “I may be in check, but my power trumps hers. She cannot beat me”. He nodded, saying “True… but the rules are the rules. Any move after this is checkmate and loss. Right?”. Growling, the Jester muttered “Yes… fine” and moved forward to get out. “Unfortunately” he stated “It’s pointless… Knight of B6, advance to C8 and place the king in checkmate”. The cunhur moved into position, its horn becoming a sword. The Jester, shocked, looked and blinked. He looked around more… and then smiled. “Well, well… to be beaten by a modern day… are you even a magus?” the Jester asked, clapping. Instantly, all the other phantasmals vanished. Shaking his head negatively, he answered “Not in the slightest. Now… the bishop piece?”. Chuckling, the Jester placed it on the ground and said “Of course. That was the arrangement. Even so, thank you. I had quite a lot of fun… ah, you must worry for your sister though… be assured, she has… oh, three hours left? So hurry... ah, before I forget an additional reward. These phantasmals leftover are now yours. Have fuuuun~” and then suddenly vanished, having logged out. Frowning, he moved forward, Nemissa joining him. “That… was incredibly boring. Seriously, never put me through chess again”. Bai joining them and turning into her humanoid form, stated “I concur”. Sighing, he replied and said “No problem… unless I can’t help it”. Smirking, Nemissa said “Well… alright. Only if I’m queen”. He nodded, saying “Deal… now, let’s go save my sister”. They proceeded ahead with the pieces and gasped at the sight. A chessboard with three pieces missing. The board state reflected the final state of the match they just had. “She… planned everything ahead…” she muttered. “Y-yeah…” he stated “She… must’ve used something like what you have Bai…”. Nodding, Bai said “It… that’s the only way this makes sense…”. Nemissa, frowning, said “It… whatever, that did it, let’s go” and turned, leaving. Slowly, he turned and left. He had to save his sister Tomoko from whatever laid in the Aquatic painting. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

Snappy




Rin

 

Stepping back into HQ, she asked “Any updates while I was gone?”. Lunch responded “They… encountered something called Jester. It forced them to find two chess pieces and then play chess with them…. After that, they dispelled the boundary field preventing them access to his sister’s soul. They’re enroute to retrieve it”. Six stood up, saying “I got a deal worked out… I worked out a discount from a weapons dealer nearby… as long as we bring cash. No credits… so you all will be well-armed”. Looking at them, Spooky said “I just got a call. I have to meet Ginko somewhere… I’m heading out… the rest know the deal, just refer to them if you need something” and left. Looking around, she noticed a very noticeable absence. “Where’s Hachi-san?”. Shrugging, Lunch said “He headed to EL-115. Said he had something to do”. Looking at the screen, she saw them approaching the same portrait as before. Shirou commented “They’ve made progress… that’s good. Tohsaka, let’s head there”. Nodding, she replied “You go ahead. I want to stay here”. With a nod, Shirou left. “You sure it’s fine splitt’in up?” Lunch asked “First time-” but was stopped as Rin said “It’s fine. We’re perfectly capable of fighting separately… the only problem will be if he encounters a servant”. Staring and then looking back at the screen, Lunch said “I’ve been think’in ‘bout someth’in… Tsu- I mean Sanagi did mention that someth’in tried ta steal his soul and… I’d be ly’in if I said I weren’t worried. So I was wonder’in… anyway to prevent that?”. Rin thought about it, saying “Methodology of the attempt matters… but I can. However, remember, the more-” but was interrupted as Lunch said “Don’t worry. I can empty this place out easy… and most of the systems internals are replaceable. I jus’ think it should be secure, ya know?”. “Alright Lunch-san… I will secure this trailer against mana interference… something with enough strength can still break through, but at the very least you’ll know when it happens and have some time before it begins” she stated, moving to her nearby supplies “That said… I’ll need privacy”. Lunch nodded, saying “No prob… got my character on follow… Six, let’s head out. Get them some toys for when they get back” and left. Sighing, she pulled out some gems, saying “Can mana even be taken while not connected to a computer…?”. 

 

Arata

 

They floated forward. Technically they were walking but the system was tricking their minds. As they continued, Bai stated “We’re passing the area the boundary field began…. Now that we’ve passed it, we’ve confirmed it’s down… that clown didn’t lie”. Looking at Bai, Nemissa commented “That’s a good thing… means we didn’t waste time”. Pulling out his shotgun, he stared ahead at what held his sister. A dolphin. A simple dolphin. “What?” he stammered, unable to believe what he saw. “Oh! Big Bro! What are you doing here? What-” his sister began to say, and then stopped. She froze as if paralyzed. “Tomoko!” he cried out as the dolphin swam in front of Tomoko, saying “Well, well, well… I don’t remember inviting you all! Why… did you come to see her?”. Frowning, he stated “I know what your doing… give my sister back!”. “No!” the dolphin cried out “Never! She’s my food! Go get your own!” and suddenly a sharpened icicle flew from behind it at him. Bai moved swiftly pushing him aside and avoiding the attack. Eyes widen, he fired his gun. The bullets bounced off the dolphins hide, some force in the air slowing everything down. As a sick ripping sound was heard coming from the dolphin, it told him “You really should’ve let that kill you… it would’ve been a mercy kill’in”. 

 

He immediately swam down. The dolphin sped at him as fast as a bullet. Only knowing that it was angry at him let him move in time. It’s wake caused him to fly forward. Before he could say anything, the dolphin cried out “Go away! Tomoko is happy with me! Not you! She hates you!”. He stopped as he stared. Jessup and Quinya charged but their attacks were blocked as a pair of wings ripped their way out and acted as shields. Both phantasmals retreated and he snapped out of it. Pressing on the trigger, he cried out “Come, Stella! Bella!”. Instantly, he felt the drain. He felt tired. However, they appeared. A pair of pixies that almost looked identical aside from the fact one wore green clothing and one had orange hair. Both looked at him, saying “Master! Thank you-” but stopped as Bella, the green clothed one, said “We don’t have time Stella! Master’s allies are being attacked!”. With a nod, Stella flew off with Bella. He prepared his shotgun. “Take this!” Bai cried, biting into the dolphin who cried out and flailed harshly. After a few seconds, Bai was thrown off and slammed into the canyon wall. Nemissa yelled “Lay off! Roma Grandor!” and fired a beam of pale blue light. Turning to her, and seemingly unaffected by the beam, said “You need to just die Nemissa!” and suddenly an icicle fired from his mouth. She moved to avoid it but the icicle slashed her arm, making her yell in pain. The pixies arrived then, saying “We’re here to help! We aren’t strong but we can heal!” and began to do so. Working together, they had the cut completely healed in a minute. 

 

Then, suddenly, something pressed against the dolphins forehead. He could see the shape. It was a circle. With a sound of flesh ripping, a bright yellow halo emerged. “I’m just a sweet angel” the dolphin said “She’s go’in to heaven! I promise!”. “Liar!” Bai stated “Agents of heaven are not so gaudy!”. Bai’s eyes glowed purple and then she surged forward. The dolphin fired another icicle which she avoided, then avoided its attempt to smack her with its tail, and attempted to stab into it with her claw. However, only the nails made it in. Smirking, the dolphin stated “Heheheh… Snappy’s hide is tougher than your stupid noodly muscles! Now die!” and moved to bite her. He returned the favor by saying “With a command spell, I order you to appear by me!” Instantly Bai vanished and appeared by him, dodging the bite entirely. “M… master that was unnecessary-” Bai began but he stated “No… that thing. It’s still changing… we need it dead now. Any ideas?”. Laughing, the dolphin stated “Yes… any idea!?”.  With her purple glowing mystic eyes of clairvoyance, Bai had a grim face as she said “It’s… hopeless… that hide is… thick and getting thicker… and he only absorbs magic… we… we can’t-” but was stopped as Snappy laughed, saying “Yes! Yes! You got it! I am invincible! I am immortal! You cannot kill me! I absorb magic infinitely!”. Blinking, he suddenly remembered something. Looking at one of the pixies he yelled “One of you! Go outside and find out the story behind this painting! Hurry!”. Blinking, Stella nodded and took off. Turning sharply, Snappy commented “Oh no. I ain’t letting you figure out-” but stopped as his gun rang out, sending bullets at him. They bounced off but left some bruises as he said “That’s new… guess you ain’t huh?”. Turning to him slowly, Snappy’s eyes began to turn red as he said “Hehehehe…. You sure know how to piss me off… Arata. I’m going to enjoy devouring your soul!”. 

 

Stella

 

She flew fast. She didn’t know the layout but she didn’t need to. Her natural pixie instincts guided her. Her master entrusted her with an important task after all! Likely he picked up on the dolphin lying. She knew the moment it spoke that it did nothing but lie. However, the others hadn’t noticed, except her master. She was proud of that. Any master that was wise to trickery was a good master to have. That or a fool, because they’re usually good sports when it comes to pranking. As she left, she collected her thoughts back to the goal; find out the picture's origins. As she flew down, she found a tour guide and flew up, asking “Hey lady! What’s the story behind the one up the hall!?”. Blinking, the tour guide began to speak but she was impatient and yelled “Just gimme the TLDR! Hurry, I need it!”. Frowning, the tour guide said “It’s called ‘Aqua Dolphin’ and the artist that submitted it stated ‘It’s based on local folklore about a dolphin spirit that can only lie’. Why?”. “Thanks lady!” she began “Now everyone… forget you saw me!” and with a sudden spurt of energy and vibration dust flew everywhere throughout the room. Everyone present looked dazed but she touched each to make sure. As she thought, her magic worked through the network of the city and exploded through the screens of everyone involved. Turning, she flew back with the information she needed. The dolphin was lying. That meant it couldn’t absorb magic!

 

Arata

 

He swam away. Snappy was focused solely on him. Bai was the only reason he wasn’t dead. Her snake form allowed her to move through this place unabated. The others were dealing with some sort of slowing effect. The others rained attack after attack on Snappy. Mostly physical attacks since they thought magic wouldn’t work. Bella flew around healing what she could. However, when the eyes began to glow red things went from bad to worse. With an echoing squeal, he saw his phantasmals fall asleep. He himself felt tired. “D-dammit… wh-what the…?” he began as Bai stated “Sleeping magic… is there anything that thing can’t do…?”. Laughing, Snappy responded “My my… what an idiot phantasmal you are! Don’t you realize! We’re invincible here!”. Moving to face them, not pursuing, it stated “We’re on the Manitou Net! Long as we’re in it, we’ve got allllll the prana we need!”. He blinked once. Then twice… and then said “Bai… how much… power can you use here?”. Thinking, Bai stated “A lot… why?”. Looking at her, he asked “How strong can you get if you utilize it? In terms of physical strength?”. Thinking, Bai Suzhen began to speak but then stopped and said “Master… I need to know something. Are you asking me to use my full power?”. Nodding, he said “This thing is too strong… if you can make yourself strong, do it. If you need time… we’ll buy it”. Bai stared at him a long time, then simply said “I’ll need five minutes to gather the necessary mana. Please, distract him for me… and stay safe”. He nodded, turning and saying “No problem… not the first time I’ve been in over my head” and said aloud “Nemissa! Get the others up!”. “Already on it Sanagi! Quinya’s up!”. Smiling, he dodged Snappy who lunged at him and said “C’mon Snappy! Let’s play!”. 

 

Rin

 

“That idiot!!! What is he doing! You’re the master, don’t endanger yourself!” Rin screamed, slapping the computer. She had finished preparing to cast the ritual, but then saw the absolute insanity that was Sanagi attacking the dolphin and avoiding it. Always just barely. She knew one bad move and Sanagi would lose a limb. As she turned to get lunch she stopped. She remembered something Shirou mentioned… how multiple pieces of technology in Amami City had magical circuits… even when they had no business having them. She turned and stared at the computer… then pulled out a gem and placed it on the top. “Please work… please don’t break… please just work... “ she prayed, not to anything in particular but channeled the spell within, saying “Slaodach”. She felt the prana in the gem filter into the computer and based on the fact it didn’t burst into flames she hoped it worked… and then she smiled. The dolphin did begin to move ever so much slower. Just enough to give Arata what he needed, she thought. She turned away and focused on the ritual. She began to chant.

 

Arata

 

The dolphin suddenly slowed down. He didn’t fire his shotgun when he dodged, but he did when Snappy turned to attack him. His game of tag however wasn’t going to last. The slow effect he noticed had begun to wear off. He couldn’t see or sense magic but what he could tell was that Snappy kept getting closer by the centimeters each pass. Nemissa tried to help by constantly healing him, but it was only so useful. Then, he noticed. Snappy, rather than stop and turn, banked. Banked because of the direction he dodged. His back was to a wall. He could only dodge forward quickly. Any other way would be too slow… and Snappy was banking on that bet. Even if he remained still, he could bank and change trajectory enough to get him. He was trapped. At least, that’s what he thought Snappy thought. He had one idea. As he kicked off, he heard Snappy yell “Got you, pesky human! Your leg is mine!”. He then turned, aimed the gun to the top of the canyon wall and fired. He began spinning and his own trajectory curved down. “Wh-what!?” Snappy cried in surprise right as his bite missed his leg by a centimeter. The wake pushed him and spun him faster so he closed his eyes to avoid dizziness. However, his ploy had worked… he had dodged. As he slowed he opened his eyes… Snappy was banking and was at full speed. He knew he wouldn’t dodge. He had too much momentum to go another direction easily… he was screwed. Then he heard it. Bai Suzhen say “Baishe Furen!” aloud. Turning, he was suddenly moved aside by a massive wake from the moment of the now fully transformed Bai Suzhen. 

 

Moving as swiftly as Snappy, Bai Suzhen flew at the enemy. It’s jaws opened and it bit into Snappy as it tried to avoid her. “G-gaaaaah! Wh-what the heeellllll!? How did you change!?” Snappy cried, wiggling. Bai Suzhen simply moved and threw Snappy into the canyon wall, saying without moving her mouth “I have no reason to tell you! I need only defend my master!”. Taking her in, Bai Suzhen was now a massive white snake. Her body was 1 ft. in diameter and she was a minimum of 40 ft. long as well. She had small fins throughout her body, making her appear as some sort of water dragon. With amethyst eyes, she moved and constricted Snappy, saying “Die!”. “No no no no!” Snappy cried, the halo glowing brightly. From it a flurry of ice balls flew out, slamming into Suzhen’s side. She let go, letting Snappy get free. “If… If I kill you, I’ll win! Die!” Snappy cried, turning to him. He dodged and barely avoided getting disemboweled. However, Snappys teeth clawed at his leg, making him cry out. “Sanagi!” both Nemissa and Bai cried out. Bai moved to intercept and managed to but he could tell. Even at her size and likely strength, her blows weren’t dealing real damage… and he doubted she had long in that form. Then, a certain Pixie arrived. 

 

“Guys! Don’t believe that dolphin! He lies!” Stella cried. “I did! He just absorbs it!” Nemissa cried out. Blinking, he asked “Wait… didn’t we stop… he hasn’t changed has he?”. Bai and Snappy stopped, looking at him. Bai then looked at Snappy and Snappy glared at him. “You. I’m going to love you…” Snappy stated, then moved to attack but was thrown off course as Bai slapped him with her tail. Bella and Stella fired lightning bolts while Nemissa cried “Roma Grandor!” and fired a beam of pale blue light. Quinya and Jessup each breathed ice and threw yellow lashes respectively. Water formed around Bai into hand that moved down and rained blows, each fist absorbed forming from newly formed water. Snappy cried out under the assault “No, no, no, no! This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening! Please! Please!.... Noooooooo!” and rapidly changed. From a beautiful dolphin into a small red imp with oversized feathery wings, a yellow halo of spikes, and ruby eyes. However, the next instant welts appeared and then boils… and then with a cry of “I… was… supposed… to be immortalllllll! THEY PROMISED!” dissipated into blue particles. Panting, he looked at each of them. His phantasmals seemed fine. Nemissa was untouched as always… as he moved he winced and looked at his leg. He was bleeding from it. Turning back into her normal humanoid form, she moved to him, asking “Master! Are you okay!?”. He nodded, saying “Y-yeah. Thanks… got my leg. That’s all”. Floating over, Nemissa moved her hands and said “Let me”. She channeled healing magic into his leg and he watched it close up. Looking at her, he said “Thanks Nemissa… I appreciate it”. Hitomi took over, saying “Arata… please, stop putting yourself in danger… It’s… it’s” but was interrupted as Nemissa took over, saying “If you needed distracting, I could’ve helped… might’ve even put the bastard down early and not wasted our prana”. Eyes widened, before he asked Nemissa said “Yeah… that transformation of hers seriously takes power… but it worked. You got protected. So I ain’t complain’in… now go get your sister back into her body”. Bai followed him as he floated over, saying “Give me a few minutes… reversing the mana flow is not a simple task” and began to work. 

 

Rin

 

As she finished, she looked back at the screen. She saw Bai working now to do… something. Likely, she guessed, it’d return the soul back to Sanagi’s sister. She turned, looking, and asked “What do you think?”. Kuzunoha appeared, saying “I am… concerned. This device is truly capable of stealing souls?”. Nodding, she responded “Apparently, it has magic circuits in it. I tested it just now by casting a slowing spell on that dolphin they were fighting. I can easily imagine something using it to drain all of a person’s mana remotely”. Kuzunoha hummed in thought, then responded “This city… it’s sick isn’t it…?”. She nodded, commenting “It’s practically anathema to Clock Tower… no. Magecraft as a whole… though, I really wonder if it isn’t the other way around…”. Kuzunoha returned to spirit form without a word and Lunch walked in, saying “Hooooo boy we got a gift basket”. Six dropped a duffel bag onto the floor, which made an audible thump. “We got ARs, we got katana’s… one guy even got use some legitimate armor” Six said cheerfully, showing off old-looking chinese-theme armor “It’s a replica but it’s still good stuff… also managed to get our hands on some real magic goods… ‘parrently, if you can prove you know about summoners, you can order for them”. “Since the man own’in a particular comp is dead… well, his bank account won’t miss it” Lunch stated, saying “Still. We got good stuff. Even managed to pack in some medicine… oh, you use jewels for your magic right?”. Frowning, she replied “The fact you noticed is disturbing… but yes. Why?”. Smirking, Lunch said “I didn’t get any… but I got you. Guy downtown ain’t a mage, but he sells ta summoners. Jus’ say you’re buyin’ for Urabe and tell ‘em you know Lunch, an they’ll happily sell. May not put it in Urabe's bank, but at least you’ll get the discount”. Blinking, she responded “You… really?”. With a nod, Lunch stated “I ain’t much help with yer side all that often, so I’ll pitch in how I can… it’s the Organic Energy Association. Leader’s a vamp, so be careful”. She groaned at that. More dead apostles. 

 

Arata

 

He groaned as he returned to reality. As real as Paradigm City felt, the transition always reiterated how unlike reality it was. He collapsed immediately as the fatigue his body was feeling rushed over him. Nemissa was panting as well. Even Bai immediately spirit formed and vanished. “Well…?” Rin asked “Did you save your sister?”. He nodded, standing and saying “Yeah… defeated the thing that took her soul… it was… not what I expected”. Raising an eyebrow, she asked “What do you mean?”. Thinking, he stated “It… was some sort of imp thing… but I can’t say if it always was that or became it… when we met, it was just a dolphin”. Frowning, Rin asked “What made it change?”. “Absorbing magic… er… prana. The more we used magecraft, the more it changed… beneficially for it” he explained “Then we discovered its domain was based on the legend of a lying dolphin… and from there, I bet it wasn’t actually immortal or invincible”. Nodding, Rin stated “Good. You used your head. Now… go ahead and get going. However, we do need a serious talk… we can’t neglect a single fact. You’re a magus not using his strongest tool; Magecraft… and we need to rectify it”. Nodding, he stood and said “Thank you… Tohsaka-san. I’ll be back soon” and ran off. He heard Nemissa say “Hey! Wait up for me!” and then follow. 

 

He arrived at his family home soon after. Nemissa waited outside. As he entered his family’s apartment, he saw them talking in the living room. “Oh! Arata-kun!” his mother exclaimed “Guess who finally stopped playing for 5 minutes and left your room!”. Frowning, his sister retorted “I wasn’t just playing! I finished my homework!”. Frowning, his mother stated “Tomoko, you’re grounded from gaming for a week. If I catch you playing any, I’m selling the computer”. Sighing, Tomoko said “Alriiiight. Sorry Arata-chan” before heading to her room. Blinking, his mother said “Huh… I… expected her to tantrum… well. Maybe… maybe I’ll spring a surprise on her at the end”. Looking at him, his mother said “Thank you, Arata-kun… I know your boss must be mad. Please, thank him for me”. Nodding, he simply replied “No problem, Obaasan”. He then headed to his room to check on the computer and check things. However, as he entered his room, his father was staring at the screen. The moment he started speaking “Oh, hi-” his father stood up straight, turned and had a somewhat bewildered look on his face. “A-ah… Arata… kun. Sorry. I was just… curious. I’ll be… on my way… to work” his father said, moving past him briskly. He blinked and wondered what was wrong. He checked his computer logs but found nothing strange. “Hmmmm… I don’t like it but… it seems… everything’s fine…” he muttered, then activated the firewall. He proceeded to put Paradigm X on the block list. He’d have Lunch come and fix his computer to have the same firewall they have at the base. As he stood up, he powered his computer off and left after saying goodbye. He had one last thing to do for the night. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

Moowis Returns




Arata

 

As he and Nemissa left, Nemissa asked “So what now?”. “I’m thinking the Gourmaden. I think it’s time to fuse some phantasmals… no offense to them, but we could use more firepower” he responded. He heard Bai state “That is a good idea master… I can say, as a phantasmal, evolving into a stronger form was ideal. I had preferences, but you’re a good master so I doubt you’ll make a mistake”. He smiled when they passed someone in a brown leather cloak. He ignored it at first until it spoke with a grating, rusty voice saying “N… Nemissa….”. Stopping, Nemissa and him turned, the former saying “What?”. Turning, the figure said “Nemissa… DIE!” and suddenly a blade flew out from the cloak. “Shit!” she cried out, barely avoiding the blade. He instantly pulled out his Comp as Bai materialized from nowhere and flew at the cloaked figure. With claws, Bai attempted to cut into the figure but was stopped as her claws dug into the cloak. “What…?” he heard Bai mutter when she suddenly planted her feet on it and kicked off, forcing it to tumble over and also avoided a taser to the side. He didn’t have his shotgun, but he did have his knife. Pulling it out, he yelled “What the hell is that thing?”. He didn’t glimpse under the cloak because the cloak stayed in position and simply lost elevation and then gained it. Holding her hands out, Nemissa yelled “Roma Grandor!” and fired the pale blue beam that froze whatever it came into contact with. However, as if predicting it, the figure dodged away and sent a pair of swords at Nemissa. Bai moved and sent one into the ground but one stabbed into Nemissa’s side, making her cry out in pain. “NEMISSA!” he cried out, running and slashing at the limb. His knife broke through easily enough and Nemissa, with a scream, pulled the sword out. “Nemissa… I will… kill you!” the figure stated, red eyes glowing from beneath. Turning, he gritted his teeth, standing as he pulled his Comp out, saying “Oh yeah!? Let’s see you try!”. Then he heard, from Nemissa with a shaky voice, say “N-no way… that voice… You’re alive!? Moowis!?”. 

 

Blinking, he looked at the cloaked figure, asking “M-moowis!?”. “Yeeesssssss” the figure said, drawing out its response “You… tried to kill me, Nemissa… so… I’ll kill you!”. From below the figure, multiple limbs came. All thin and jointed and made of metal. Shoddily made from the looks of it. Different weapons in each. One limb was severed but it acted as a support as the being lifted itself. Frowning, he asked “Bai… any civilians?”. Shaking her head, she replied “None… we’re completely alone”. Nodding, he pulled the trigger and summoned his beasts. “Quinya, Jessup, you’re front line! Stella, Bella, provide support!” he said, looking at Nemissa and said “He knows your tactics… so for now focus on healing!”. Nodding, she stated “Got it”. Bai asked “What about me?”. He replied “I think you know best. Fight however it suits you”. Nodding, Bai vanished. “Smart… but not enough… Moowis will not be killed!” Moowis declared, sending a trio of attacks at them. A power saw from the left, the taser on the right… and a tuning fork. He had no idea what that did but he was willing to bet it was nothing good. Thankfully, he didn’t need to as his phantasmals acted without response orders. 

 

Bai immediately moved to the saw's side, grabbed it with both hands, and tore it apart. Quinya let the taser hit it but used its malleable horn to cut through the limb and sever it. However, the tuning form was a problem. The pixies dodged the attack but as they began to retaliate with lightning bolts, the bolts suddenly diverted. A power line was hit by one and a tree the other. “Bai, put that out!” He quickly said, knowing fire would attract the authorities. With a nod, she rushed over, forming a small ball of water and lobbing it. The water slammed into the fire, putting it out. Then all the lights went out. “Dammit…” he muttered “We’re on a timer now”. “Worry not master, we’ll fell this beast!” Quinya declared and began to rush forward. “Wait!” he tried to say but was too late. Two more limbs moved to attack, the severed ones now providing support. A vice and a chainsaw. Quinya jumped over the vice but cried out as the chainsaw grazed it mid-jump. It landed and leapt away. Nemissa for her part held a hand out and Quinya slowly stood up and shook less and less. Bai turned, forming lances of pure water and then threw them. Like before, they grew in size and were redirected. One slammed into the concrete, another flew towards the apartments, and the final one slammed into a tree and severed it completely, making it fall over. “What….?” Bai exclaimed, baffled. “No magic! He’s warping it somehow!” he yelled. “Yeah, it’s kinda obvious!” Nemissa yelled, continuing to remotely heal Quinya “It’s that tuning fork! Prana keeps emitting from it everytime we use magecraft!”. Looking at her and then the fork he charged at it. Moowis moved away, retracting the tuning fork, saying “Useless… if you know… but useful close” and then sent out three new limbs. 

 

This time, he noted the chainsaw making a return, a switchblade, and the vice. The vice was coming for him and fast. However, he managed to jump aside at the last second. Once he landed, as it was moving to grab him, he aimed for the joint of the limb and swung his trench knife down. Like with the sword the limb was severed with little effort. However he heard a cry and looked. The switchblade had gone for Jessup who had flown after to attack the main body. They retreated but were slow, focusing on dodging the attacks. “Bai, rescue Jessup! He’s in danger!” he ordered, worried for Jessup. Meanwhile, the chainsaw flailed through the air attempting to cleave one of the pixies. Quinya stood fully, saying “I’m recovered, master… but we’re in a bad position. We can’t get close due to the multitude of weapons, but we can’t attack from a range either… what do we do?”. Biting his lip, he really wished he hadn’t left his guns back at the base. Then, a miracle happened. Shirou arrived, cleaving the limb holding the chainsaw with a sword. He was wearing the same leather coat he wore when he came to the warehouse. “Shirou!” he exclaimed “What are you doing here!?”. Not sparing him a glance and keeping his gaze fixed, Shirou responded “Not much to say. I came to make sure you succeeded… and came across your battle. I intervened because it looked bad”. Bai right then materialized by Jessup, grabbing him, and kicked off the limb. “Y… you! You're annoying!” Moowis cried out, summoning two new limbs. What looked like a nail gun and a nail press with a scope on it. 

 

Shirou

 

“What’s his deal?” he asked “He’s angrier than last time”. “I dunno…” Nemissa responded “I think… he’s mad at me. He keeps targeting me” and then with a hand raised remotely began healing Jessup. Looking at them now, he asked “Are we retreating?”. Sanagi shook his head, responding “He’s… physical. He’s going to just make problems. Let’s take him down here”. Looking at the thing, he said “Agreed” and then rushed forward. The nail gun activated and rapidly-fired nails at Shirou, somehow acting akin to a machine gun. However, he moved far faster than a human using his twin yin-yang swords to deflect and through the nails. As he approached, the nail presser focused on him, following him for a few seconds, then thrust forward. As it did it activate, thrusting the giant spoke forward. However he tumbled to the side and threw one of his swords. It spun in the air cutting right through the right side of it, making a chunk of its limbs fall off. “No… NO!” Moowis cried “I will not die! I will not forget this! One day I will kill you all!”. The cloak fell away, ruined, and revealed the horrible truth. Moowis was simply a mass of metal manipulating various appendages that ended in weapons. It still had the vice and nail gun as well as the tuning fork, but it clearly was disadvantaged against him. The weapons were dropped in favor of a quick retreat. “Get back here!” he yelled, determined to not let it get away. “No! Go away!” it cried. A wave of power burst out of it and the fallen limbs suddenly leapt at him. He looked at each and with rapid precision deflected each attack. However, Moowis retreated into the sewers. Before he could follow, Sanagi said “Don’t! You’ll trip the alarm!”. He hesitated. Before he could ask, Sanagi explained “It’s illegal for citizens to enter… if we’re caught it will definitely complicate things… considering the high chance the government is in on the phantom society conspiracy”. Gripping his sword, and then releasing it, he turned back and asked “Then how do we track him? Like you said, him being alive will cause problems”. After all, it had little compunction possessing people… and apparently tried to murder Nemissa. There was no telling what havoc it would cause if left unchecked… that’s assuming the Clock Tower didn’t intervene in a chaotic way themselves. 

 

Arata

 

He moved to the remains of Moowis and began collecting. Bai helped using her excellent sight. Nemissa was hesitant but agreed and Shirou did so once he saw the rest of them do it. Once finished, Bai asked “For what purpose do we collect the remnants, master?”. “Lunch is a hardware specialist for a reason. He’ll be able to ID where these parts came from… and maybe find a pattern” he explained “From that, we can predict where he’ll go and how he’ll strike”. Nodding, Shirou stated “Sensible… I noticed he was using regular machinery. Not treated machinery like with your Comp”. Frowning, he didn’t like that. Before he could ask, Shirou said “I’ve never seen anything like this… it’s… not normal”. Frowning, he asked “Is it… ever normal?”. Shirou didn’t answer, instead turning and saying “How about I take this back? You look like you need some rest”. He nodded, saying “I do… but I need to go to the Gourmaden. I need to work on my phantasmals”. Shirou responded and took his, Nemissa, and Bai’s bags, saying “Alright… take care, Sanagi”. Hesitating, he decided to say “I… trust you, Shirou-san. Call me Tsukamoto whenever we’re not in the field”. Blinking and then smiling a small bit, Shirou responded “Understood, Tsukamoto-san. Good luck” and then began walking. Looking at him, Nemissa said “We’re not following? I wanna know where that bastard is”. “I know, Nemissa… but Lunch isn’t gonna find it immediately. He’ll need time. For now, let’s go to the Gourmaden and do some fusion”. Sighing, Nemissa said “Fine… we could use the extra help”. With that, the three of them headed there. 

 

Rin

 

As Shirou walked in, she looked and blinked. He was holding bags full of… junk? “What… is that Shirou?” She asked. “Remains left behind by Moowis… he attacked Tsukamoto-san and Nemissa-san not far from their home. I’m glad I trusted my gut instinct” Shirou explained, going to Lunch and saying “I heard from him that you’re an expert on hardware… he seems to think you can track down where these parts came from”. Lunch looked into a bag, saying “Not quite. I jus’ know the tabulation system all the companies in Amami City use ta put serial numbers on their parts… but he’s not wrong ‘bout the result. Yeah, I’ll get ya the company these came from… errr… any particular list style ya want? Like detailed or basic?”. Shirou responded with a smile “Not too much detail… just a name, address… oh and district. That’d be nice”. Nodding, Lunch responded “Sure, no prob. Jus’ give me tonight. I’ll have somethin’ in the morn’in”. Sighing, Rin said “As I was saying… I can’t remove the magic circuits in machines. I don’t know the methodology in the first place. Until I know that, there’s nothing I can do”. Lunch responded “Alright, alright… So then what did the ritual do?”. “It prevents the actualization of rituals and movement of prana unless expressly allowed by the one that performed it… in other words, me” Rin explained “Of course, magus stronger than me can break it but I’ll know about it and can respond”. Nodding, Lunch smiled and said “Alright… thanks. Now we’ve secured our base further… oh one thing. Can the base move or is it gonna be a hassle?”. Nodding, Rin stated “I’ll need to redo it as it's tied to a place in space rather than any object… but even so, redoing it isn’t too much of a problem so long as it’s not frequent. I need to rest”. Nodding, Lunch said “Yeah… don’t think we’re mov’in this month, though you’ll need ta talk ta boss about it. His trailer”. Nodding, she turned to Shirou and said “Well, let’s go home. We’ve earned some rest”. Shirou set the bags down, saying “Thank you, Lunch-san” and followed her out. He then began to order a smart vehicle and she sighed. She heard Kuzunoha say “Lady Tohsaka… if you require, I can prop you up”. Shaking her head, she replied “No. Save your strength… it’ll be needed if we fight”. Kuzunoha responded “Of course, Lady Tohsaka”. She sighed as the smart car pulled up. Another incident has already begun. 

 

Arata

 

Opening the door, Mary let them into the inner sanctum. Victor stood, waiting. “Welcome, young summoner. How might I- ah I recognize you. The one with the gun-type Comp” Victor said, looking directly at him, then to Nemissa “Welcome to you as well. I see you have grown stronger… and your host has more magic circuits now”. Nodding, Nemissa responded “Yeah. Her body is spacious and lovely. Right, Hitomi?”. Hitomi took over, saying “First, we’re not on a first-name basis yet. Second, when are you giving it back? It’s already been three days”. Laughing, Nemissa stated “Sorry. It’s mine permanently. That, or until I find a better host” and then reasserted control. He frowned but said nothing, feeling somewhat conflicted. He snapped out of it as Victor stated, staring where Bai was in spirit form “I see you have summoned a servant… she is welcome, if you’re curious”. Blinking, he asked “You can see her? Not even Nem-” but was interrupted as Nemissa said “I can see her fine. What are you talking about?”. Victor hummed, saying “I cannot see your servant but I know the presence of one… especially of the assassin variety. Not to brag, but I was part of a war once”. “War…?” he asked, to which Victor responded “Ah. You are ignorant. This must be rectified. You two are magus now and so must know certain things. The Holy Grail War, considering the circumstances, is one of them”. Turning away, Victor said “That can wait however. For now, I assume you came to fuse some beasts?”. Nodding, he summoned them and said “I recently was given many. I was hoping to improve some, if they’re willing”. Stella and Bella stated “As long as it’s not with each other, we’re cool! Fusion’s cool!”. Quinya stated “If it provides more power, then fine”. Jessup was silent however. Then, he said “Gree, Hui. Wanna do a triple fusion?”. Both nodded and he asked “Triple fusion?”. “Yes… I have researched and performed it. It is what you think. Three phantasmal beasts are blended into a single, powerful form” and looked at him “Do you wish to perform this risky but rewarding fusion?”. Looking at Jessup, he guessed what Jessup’s suggestion was. He said “If they agree…. Hui, Jessup, Stella and then Bella, Quinya, and Gree”. “Sure”, “Alright”, “Might be fun!”, “No problem”, “That sounds powerful! I’m in!”, Gotcha, I’m in!” his beasts responded. Victor laughed, saying “You’ve got confident and trusting beasts, Arata. Alright then…. Phantasmals. I hope you are ready… and I’m sorry if it goes wrong”. Each nodded, and one by one said “It’s alright. We understand the risks!”. Smirking happily, Victor stated “Young summoner… never have I seen more lively beasts, save three men. Come, let us fuse these phantoms!”. 

 

First was Gree, Quinya, and Bella. “I’ll see ya later” Bella said “When I’m a big, strong girl!” to which Bella responded “Yep. Each was guided by victor into containers fitting each. He typed commands and with a press of the enter key it began. He watched each as the tanks they were in filled with liquids. Green for Quinya, Blue for Bella, and Yellow for Gree. Quinya waved to him with a warped horn before he began to melt into the liquid. Each of the others were smiling as they did as well. He never thought about it before but it was an eerie sight. Seeing something human so happy to be… melted. The liquids, like before, filtered into a single container. Then, electricity ran through the machine multiple times, eventually forming a tree of pure energy. Then, finally, he saw it congeal into a shape. It looked like the stone lion many temples around the country had. However it was yellow skinned with red markings on its face. Further, it had a mane of green hair. The glass was pulled off, allowing the creature to jump out onto the platform. “A Shiisaa huh? An interesting but not entirely uncommon result. They are guardian spirits… it means the phantasmals you knew felt some level of respect towards you, young summoner” Victor stated, looking to the others “This may well be your result… will you continue?”. At their nods, he entered commands and said “Then, phantasmals, enter the containers!”. Stella, Jessup, and Hui nodded to him and then did so. Turning to them, the Shiisaa greeted them, saying “Well, well. Guess who remained himself? Jus’ keep calling me Jessup”. Smiling, he responded “Of course”.

 

Victor typed at his computer, saying “Now… let the devil’s fusion begin!”. Purple liquid filled Stella’s container while black filled Gree’s and put into Quinya’s was icy blue liquid. Victor, staring at the computer, groaned and said “It… seems an accident has occurred… the machine can no longer accurately predict what will come out. You three should step away”. They did, Bai asking “This method… it’s grisly… was this…?”. Nodding, he said “Yeah… it’s… hard to watch but they seem to like it… and they gain power”. Nemissa, frowning, said “Gives me the creeps personally… each their own I guess but if it didn’t give power I’d say it’s way too creepy for my taste”. “Yeah… I have to agree” he responded, watching as the main container filled with the combined liquids, producing a dull green colored liquid. As the liquid coagulated, it began to make multiple forms. Eventually, some bugs, twigs, and leaves formed. Then, they moved. A mass of plants formed inside a circle of leaves while two fireflies acted as eyes. The sticks formed the skeleton of the creature and the leaves were the skin. He wasn’t sure if there was mass within, but from the looks of it soil formed to do so. Once it was finished, the glass was removed to drain the runoff liquid and the creature leapt from its containment to the platform. It said “Greetings, young summoner Arata Tsukamoto. Hello, one who calls itself Nemissa and their gracious host Hitomi Tono… and you, venerable white snake Bai Suzhen. I introduce myself as Otokaba, a member of the race calling itself Hitokoto-Nushi. Thank you, master, for this newfound power I now possess. I hereby swear to only use it in your name and for your honor”. Eyes wide, Bai Suzhen asked “Hitokoto… then… that god… he was always-” but was interrupted as the creature replied “You are mistaken, venerable Bai Suzhen. Like you yourself, we are a species of Phantasmal Beast. The real Hitokoto-Nushi is the leader of our clan… I could go over the specifics of the Other Side, but they are likely not of your interest at this time… excluding the fact that such an action is considered heresy among my kind”. 

 

“Interesting… very interesting… results similar to those three….” Victor muttered, seemingly baffled, but then said gravely “However… exactly like his… young summoner. Tell me. Truly. Are you certain about this path?”. Nodding, before he could respond Victor said “Then I am obligated to warn you. I am now certain, your path albeit different in nature and purpose, follows similar steps to your predecessor. If you continue…. There is a likely chance you will die. Are you certain?”. Blinking, he asked “Wait… why do you say that?”. “A young man ten years ago sought my aid in a scheme. A scheme that cost him his life… he was renewed life, but not his own. The steps he walked are eerily similar to yours. Yet… as then, I cannot say it is worthless to walk it. It is your choice, young summoner. I suggest you truly think about it”. Nodding, he replied “I will, Nestrvankein-sama”. Smiling, Victor stated “Now… regarding your education. I could recommend the Kuzunoha clan… however, the mistress, Ginko, is not known to accept an outsider for the position of overseer, which her apprentice will become one day. Likewise, the summoner is not a magus, making him unqualified to educate you… thus, the task will either fall to one of your new companions, or I could request a magus in the employ of the Kuzunoha. A trusted fellow. What do you wish for?”. “If it’s all the same… I’d rather ask Tohsaka-san and Emiya-san first. I… don’t know anything about these ‘Kuzunoha’ people” he replied. Chuckling, Victor stated “I can vouch for them if that’s an issue… however, it is intelligent to be weary in the world of magus. Very well. I will leave them to your education… However, we must talk immediately about the holy grail war. At this point, the signs are all too clear. Another one is coming… and Amami City is it’s location this time”. 

 

“You mentioned that before… the ‘holy grail war’. What is that?” he asked. “I’m curious too… it sounds fun” Nemissa said, smiling and fidgeting. Victor's face went from jovial to serious instantly and his tone became stern as he said “The holy grail war is a sort of ritual. I am not privy to the details, only the events and their results. Seven magus summon powerful familiars called heroic spirits which themselves are effectively the identities of past figures that had an impact on the world”. Looking at Mary and nodding, he continued saying “The seven would then fight. The prize they fought for was supposedly a wish-granting device called the ‘holy grail’. I am privy to the fact that the ‘heroic spirits’ had to be sacrificed to utilize the grail… though in sacrifice, the last one's wish would also be granted by proxy”. Frowning, he asked “Why… go through all that trouble though?”. Shrugging, Victor stated “I am unsure. I know it was only possible through the third magic, called ‘Heaven’s Feel’. Again, the details I am not privy”. “Third magic? Wait… magic… isn’t that impossible?” Nemissa asked. Shaking his head, he replied “Not exactly. Magic is simply the impossible made real… and in it’s specific case, through the supernatural use of magecraft. In old times, magecraft was capable of keeping pace, but in modern times it isn’t. Regardless, it’s power vanished with the destruction of the ritual in Fuyuki City. However… Now the signs are here. Heroic Spirits, strong leylines, the Phantom Society hellbent on some project…. It can only be… the ‘holy grail’...”. 

 

Nishi

 

He sat in his office and went over papers. Specifically, a series of bills. They were aimed at funding various projects to improve the lives of the citizens. One proposed relieving companies of taxes so they hire more people. Another proposed creating a land bridge between the Amami Float and the Amami Airport temporarily to ease the transit of materials as the shuttle system wasn’t providing work fast enough. This one he denied, simply because the company was well within deadlines. The final set of proposals all revolved around uses of the police to waylay the concerns of the public in regards to a recent string of hacks. Well… there was one other matter he needed to keep his on that he was certain would prove worse. A low-key hacker group seemed to have uncovered the secrets of the Phantom Society. It was only discovered when they went into Paradigm X and sent their phantasmal beasts in too. An act only possible with a Comp. Nevermind the footage that showed a young summoner using said Comp. It did not bode well that he recognized the comp. It came from a traitor to the organization, a man named Urabe. It had to be fate that the young summoner had the same Comp as the traitor Urabe. However, another fact was disconcerting. The boy had a servant. He had seen the footage of what might be mistaken as a phantasmal beast becoming what he could only call a divine animal. He could believe it to actually have been a divine animal all along. 

 

However, Finnegan’s report came to mind and reviewing he surmised thus; the young summoner had bargained with one of Finnegans phantasmals and arranged a transfer while he was distracted with a strange magician. Then, the young summoner used the phantasmals knowledge to arrange a ritual to summon her as a servant, using her prana as a catalyst. It was ingenuous. Truly, he himself, nor the man who conceived the original demon summoning program, had foresaw this particular loophole. Chuckling, he read a new report, commenting “Then again… summoning heroic spirits using the Manitou Network is a loophole in and of itself. Of course… no one would ever suspect the truth. Thanks to that, we are invincible. That clock tower… nor those Kuzunoha will ever get in our way again. This time, control will be ours…. Hmmm?”. He read carefully. He saw it. A new Manitou Demon had appeared. “Moowis… Dammit, why did Carol J wait so long to report this? If it does too much damage, we’ll set back… potentially even provoke war with the Clock Tower… it’s too early” he said to himself and reached for the phone, dialing a number. 

 

“Yes, Akuma-sama?” a woman asked to which he answered “Patch me through to Carol J. I need to speak with him immediately”. Silence pervaded for several minutes, until the woman said “I’m sorry Akuma-sama, but it seems his registered number is offline. Do you have another method?”. Frowning, he said “His pager. Try that”. More silence followed. Then, after 5 minutes, the woman stated “No response, Akuma-sama”. Sighing, he said “Thank you, Raiou-san. Keep up the good work” and hung up. Standing, he turned around to a TV which turned on. Camera’s descended from the ceiling and began to record him as his screen came to life. A young woman appeared, Victorian in era of clothing, and asked “Ahhhh… Nishi-sama. How might I help today?”. “I have a problem. A couple really. I’m sending a list. Deal with them for me, will you? I need answers” he responded, pulling a tablet and sending it remotely. The woman's face went from relaxed to studious. After several minutes, she responded “Of course, Nishi-sama. My reward?”. Nodding, he stated “A vacation here upon completion, and 20 million yen… not including expenses paid for your next visit to Victor Frankenstein”. Giggling, the woman said “Thank you, Nishi-sama. You are so generous”. “As you are patient and diligent, Mayone. Good day” he replied and turned away, shutting off. Frowning, he sighed and said “What a problem. Why can’t things just go smoothly…? No matter. We still have time. If we can reach the final stage, our victory is assured… no matter what anyone does”. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

Leon Auto Plant



Arata

 

As he began to walk away, Nemissa called out “Hey! Arata!”. Turning, he asked “What?”. Nemissa hesitated, clearly, but then asked “Wanna… come over tonight?”. Blinking, before he could ask Nemissa said “Hitomi wants it. She doesn’t wanna be alone after recent events and… honestly, I’m feel’in a bit tired myself. Be nice to have someone watch’in over me”. Blinking, he realized she was referring to Bai and said “Alright. I’ll just call my folks. They’ll understand… since your place is closer” and pulled out his phone. Sighing in relief, Hitomi took over, saying “Thanks Tsukamoto. Really”. He smiled and said “No problem, Tono”. Then he heard the phone click and his mother say “Ah. Arata-kun. Is something wrong?”. “No obaasan. It’s just… Well, I’m pretty tired and Tono-san offered her place for me to stay, to save me the long walk home. Just thought I’d let you know I’m accepting it”. There was a long silence until finally his mother said “Of course Arata-kun. Sleep well and say hi to Tono-san for me will you?”. Smiling, he replied “Of course Obaasan. Goodbye” and hung up. Turning, he said “Alright. Let’s go”. Smiling, Hitomi and him walked. What shocked him now wasn’t the invitation, but the fact Nemissa didn’t show up the whole walk. 

 

Once inside, Nemissa took over and headed for the refrigerator, opening it. “Weeelllll Hitomi-chan has some good tastes” Nemissa stated, pulling out a Matcha Green Tea ramune soda, then turned to him and asked “You want something?”. “Got any green apple?” he asked to which Nemissa responded “Affirmative. What about Bai?”. Bai appeared, asking “May I peruse the selections?”. Nodding, Bai walked over and looked into the fridge, then said “Yuzu please” before walking towards the door and sitting close to it. Getting all three bottles, Nemissa then handed them out to them and said “Thanks again for agreeing to staying over… after recent events, I don’t feel safe”. He responded “I understand… why I agreed. Honestly… I don’t either. We’re safer together”. “Hmmmmm” Nemissa hummed, drinking her soda as she turned the TV on, saying “So tell me. Before me, what did you do?”. Frowning slightly, he responded “I was a field agent. I got sent out to make some jobs easier” he answered “Sometimes, me and Hitomi would have to break in and use devices and programs Hachi or Lunch made to get something. Just… it was all low-level, you know? Algonsoft NS was the biggest hit we had yet”. Nemissa, smiling, said “Sounds fun… is hacking always that thrilling?”. Nodding, he replied “Can be. Before we met, I hacked a terminal to get myself a license into Paradigm X. However, I screwed up and tripped an alarm… if it wasn’t for Kinap, I’d have got caught because I didn’t realize it”. Frowning now, Nemissa looked to the tv, muttering “Kinap… so he was there before me too…. Mmm…”. Then he asked, taking a sip of his soda “Nemissa… do you really remember nothing of before we met?”. 

 

Thinking hard, Nemissa responded “I do… have one memory. I only remembered recently… hearing that name, Urabe. It… evoked that memory. The memory of… being compacted into a new place. The old place was spacious but empty. Void. This new place… was worse. It was so small… and still empty. Only when you freed me did I realize anything but the noise existed”. Looking at him, Nemissa stated “You were the first clear voice I can recall. Everything else was… static”. Hitomi took over, saying “Awww… how sad….” to which Nemissa, taking back control, retorted “I-I ain’t look’in for pity! I… it’s fine. I’ve got a better life now. This body is doing fine and its host is cool… so it’s cool!”. Frowning deeply, he felt conflicted. On the one hand, he wanted Nemissa to be completely out of his best friends body. However… he couldn’t deny she made her case. He didn’t know anything about magic, but from Moowis he saw what happened when something tried to possess someone they had bad compatibility. So, he believed her when she said both Hitomi was a perfect vessel and that Nemissa had specific conditions for compatibility. Looking at his soda, he took another drink and asked “Say… what are the conditions for possession?”. Tilting her head, Nemissa stated “First, the person has to be completely unaware of the existence of magic… or magecraft. No suspicions, nothing. Second, they must be young. Third, and this is important… they have to have special blood in them, even if it’s more or less dried up”. Blinking, before he could ask, Nemissa stated “I guess a better way to put it is… their blood has to be especially pure. It’s hard to explain without knowing how magecraft, science, or anything works”. 

 

“Then… try explaining it as you?” he suggested. Looking at him, she smiled and said “Well… I didn’t expect such a fun answer… but alright”. Looking at the ceiling, Nemissa said “Well, when I look at someone I instinctually size them up for possession… kinda like prepp’in backups. I feel out their mana, see’in how I like it… and then from that and sense their blood, kinda…” and then trailed off, before snapping to attention and exclaiming “oh! Kinda like a radar! Just specifically for blood! I also get deets! I specifically know if they got pure blood, high quality, etc. etc. Hitomi here? Pure as water from Mount fuji in the beginning. Mana is excellent and ripe. She was also just entering adulthood… so I nabbed her”. “I see” he responded “That… hmmm. I do understand the logic now…”. Hitomi took over and responded “Actually… that does make a lot of sense… there aren’t many people like that in this city”. Laughing, Nemissa reasserted and exclaimed “You aren’t kidding! Out of the thousands I’ve seen, Hitomi is simply the only one I can even contemplate… and if you put in best compatibility? I doubt I’ll ever find anyone like her”. Nemissa, finishing her soda, stood and said “Well. I’m head’in ta bed. You can find the guest room easily. Night!” and then walked deeper into the apartment. Frowning, he sighed, but moved to the couch Nemissa sat on. He then moved things to pull out the futon meant for guests. He knew it was one due to the fact that most families in Amami City did this due to the small size. Bai then appeared, asking “Master… is it really fine to leave it like this?”. He stopped. He began to say “Yeah… not-” but Bai cut him off, saying “Master… I did not ask for an answer… I merely seek to make you think. Before it is too late. We do not know the full consequences of possession…”. Gritting his teeth, and then stopping, he responded “Thanks… I… nevermind. Bai, can you watch over us?”. With a nod, Bai said “Understood. I will wake you both if I sense anything out of the ordinary”. “Thanks” he said, finishing getting the futon ready. He laid down on it and yawned, letting sleep take him. 

 

Lunch

 

He went for a walk. Specifically he was heading for the convenience store to buy smokes. He developed the habit after he had moved out of his father’s house. As he walked in, he saw the reason why. His father. Turning, his father, wide-eyed, said “Junnosuke! Where have you been!?”. Groaning, he moved to the shelves and ignored the man. He picked out some noodles and bottled water, as well as a Ramune melon-flavored soda. Just to make sure he ate better, he got himself some packaged carrots. Moving to the counter and pulling his wallet out, his father stated “Still eating instant noodles I see…. Seriously, Junnosuke-kun, where have you been?”. Growling, he responded “None of your business”. The cashier rang him up, eyeing him and his father suspiciously, saying “That’ll be…. 600.85 yen sir”. He pulled out 7 yen bills, saying “Keep the change” and began to walk off. “W-wait! Junnosuke, where-” but he interrupted him, saying “Dude, lay off! Get the hint, I’m not talking to you!”. “I just-” his father began but he huffed and said “Piss off. You’re not my dad anymore” and then stormed off. He ordered a smart car and got in, locking it as his father tried to follow. Pulling out a device, he plugged it in and hacked it to not broadcast where he went. He had it run a few laps, then drop him off. He then had it not report for the next hour and wiped its gps data for good measure. Looking at it, he muttered “Gotta thank Hachi. He’s a worker” and headed for the base with his goods. Once inside he reached into a cabinet and got out some silverware and a hot plate. He sipped the soda as it did its job and continued to log pieces of hardware he could and use a database to sort them. “Man…. this sucks” he muttered as he began to fall asleep. He only awoke as the hot plate alarm went off informing him his noodles were done. 




Rin

 

She and Shirou left early in the morning. She wanted to examine the ritual and make sure it was still strong. She also wanted to see if Lunch made any progress. Otherwise, her plan was to scout out the city itself for any other masters. However, when she arrived she saw the rest of the spookies there. Looking at them, Sanagi said “Glad to see you two here… the meeting can begin then?”. Nodding, Spooky looked at them and said “Yeah. Lunch got a hit. You wanna tell ‘em or me?”. Smirking, Lunch said “First, Emiya-san. Thanks for tha bits. Got us jus’ what we needed”. Nodding, Shirou asked “Then you found where he likely went?”. Nodding, Lunch said “Technically, these didn’t tell me precisely… nah, what it was were the circuits. See, they followed a particular patterning. From there, I looked less inta serial numbers an’ more into where the circuitry was applied… lo and behold, boss man turned up a spot”. Nodding, Spooky moved and revealed a new feature of the base; 3D projection. Showing the layout of the Yurashima. “Welcome ta Yurashima, place where a lotta factories lay. Sequestered ‘ere so emissions don’t disturb the local population” Lunch exclaimed. Spooky then moved to the image and poked one part, focusing in on it, saying “And this is Leon Auto Parts. A foreign factory that produces the smart cars Amami City makes. Turns out, lots of these parts are car parts. The rest? Tools that he found”. “So then we have a location… what’s stopping us from going?” Rin asked to which Spooky answered “Plant security calling the cops… but we have a plan, don’t we Lunch?”. Smirking, Lunch stated “Basically, we’re gonna use credentials that Sanagi-san has the rest of us don’t… basically, i’ve scheduled with the Phantom Society for a sweep of the place to occur. Leading it and the team he has?”. Lunch then stood and handed them each a card. 

 

Hers was fairly interesting. Rain Fairmount was the name. The card said she was a support magus. She looked at Shirou’s and saw he was labeled as a combat magus. “Sorry if it ain’t all accurate but… that’s tha point. We gotta use names and deets not actually associated with our identities. I’m gonna be an onsite engineer while Six an’ Hachi are my assistants” Lunch explained. Six frowned and responded “Dammit… just because you got to make it doesn’t mean-” but Hachi responded “Sure. No prob. I got this”. Frowning, Six grumbled “Fine, whatever”. “A question” she asked “How did you obtain these? I doubt you found an insider to make them…” she asked, which caused Lunch to smirk and reply “Smart. Yeah, no insiders. I jus’ hacked their mainframe with Hachi’s help an’ made us this. No biggie”. Blinking, she muttered “You can do that….?”. Spooky spoke now, saying “This means that during our ‘sweep’ the plant will be empty. Jus’ keep your IDs on ya in case the society decides ta come in”. Spooky stated “Remember… prioritize safety. If it gets too hot, run somewhere safe”. She saw the rest nod, she simply stated “We’ve been in life-threatening danger before. This will go well”. Shirou stated “Even so… I agree. We are facing something even we as Magus’ are unfamiliar with… so I have a request. Lunch, Six, Hachi, Spooky. If any of you find or come into contact with Moowis itself, run and find us. We’ll keep you safe”. Then, to her shock, Sanagi spoke up. 

 

“Actually… we should split up” Sanagi stated “Moowis has gotten stronger each encounter… and in certain area’s, those ‘Phantasmal Beasts’ show up. In case they do, we should be split up to handle them. One normal person with firearms, one magus or summoner”. She blinked, but replied “That is a good observation… I agree. Alright. Then… What do you suggest, Spooky?”. “Hmmm… How about something like this? Rin with Lunch, Shirou with Hachi, Sanagi with me, and Nemissa with Six” he suggested to which she replied “Alright. We can handle ourselves… and having a bit of backup might help. Are you sure conventional weapons work on phantasmals?”. Nodding to her, Sanagi stated “Yeah. Remember our fight with Moowis. He didn’t take too much damage from firearms… but he did. I also did use the guns provided by Six several times. They work… I think it’s a matter of the strength of the phantasmal”. Humming, she replied “Understood… are we going separately?”. Shaking his head, Spooky said “Not a good idea. We’ll take Lunch’s van. It’s unmarked and using footage, we confirmed that’s standard operation. Once we arrive, then we’ll split up”. Nodding, they all left to head there. 

 

Arata

 

Arriving, there was no one there. All that waited them was a single man in a suit. He looked like he was in a hurry too. Approaching, the man said “You’re here. Can I be relieved?”. “One quick thing” he requested “How are things? Any signs?”. Shaking his head, the man stated “Nah… nothin’ obvious. Sorry but I got noth’in rookie. So earn yer keep. Can I go?”. He nodded, saying “Yes sir. Have a nice afternoon. You’ll be informed when work may continue”. The man then left. Turning, he stated “Split up and search. We need to find and destroy it before damage is done”. All nodded. They had talked before that once on-site they’d cut the chit-chat to a minimum until they confirmed everyone was gone. Something he could do. As they split off, Spooky walked with him and once inside said “Check the cams”. Nodding, he pulled his comp out and did that. Confirming no signs on the cams, he said “No one… might be blind spots but can’t be too many”. Nodding, Spooky spoke into a radio, saying “No one spotted on cams. There are blind spots though so be careful”. After a few seconds, Lunch radioed back “Gotcha boss. We’ll be careful with chit-chat”. Six reported “Understood”. Hachi excitedly said “Don’t worry boss. I’m crack’in their database. I’ll know if everyone clocked out!”. Spooky put the radio away and said “Let’s continue, Sanagi”. 

 

As they walked, they kept their pace with one another. He hadn’t armored fully but did bring his duffel bag containing an AR15. Further, he also had a katana. Bai also decided to stay in spirit form as she called it to alleviate Nemissa of prana upkeep. As they walked, Spooky asked “Is that… ‘Servant’ I think it’s called following us?”. Blinking, he asked “What?”. “The thing you summoned at the airport. I know, we watched it at base while you were busy saving your sister” Spooky explained “I also happened to know by coincidence when I went to become a magus. So… is she?”. He nodded, saying “Yeah. She’s in spirit form primarily to make sure she doesn’t drain much prana from Nemissa… we made a slight alteration to the normal contract, according to her, so that I could still be a summoner”. Spooky hummed, saying “I suggest sending her to either Nemissa or Shirou… depending on your judgement. Fact is… the allies to both may hinder more than help”. Bai spoke to him through their telepathic link, saying “I won’t leave your side. You’re down a command seal and who knows what waits ahead… besides, the Rin girl has her own servant”. Before he could respond, Spooky said “Of course, you don’t have to… I’m just worried”. He thought about it and replied “Well… she refuses to leave my side… meaning I’d have to waste a valuable resource to do it. However…” and then pulled out his Comp, saying “I can summon the phantasmals I do have and send one”. Nodding, Spooky said “That… may be better”. He then activated the program. 

 

The two phantasmals he had made appeared. “Hello master! What do you need!?” Jessup asked. Otokaba simply said nothing, only manifesting as an upper body and head. Spooky looked noticeably concerned but said nothing. “We’re concerned for our allies. We split up to cover more ground while searching for Moowis. My servant refuses to separate… so will you go watch over them?” he asked. Jessup looked troubled, but Otokaba responded with “Of course, summoner. It would not do well to lose allies you trust. Who shall I protect in your stead?”. Thinking, he responded “Probably… Six and Nemissa. They’re the weakest of the groups”. Nodding, Otokaba dissipated into leaves and flew off. Jessup asked “Then… I’ll go ta Hachi. I agree with the man. Jus’... be careful, kay? Don’t ferget. When ya fused me, ya refilled yer command spells fer us. So ya still got 3 fer me an’ 3 fer Otokaba. Kay?”. Blinking, he asked “Wait, really?”. Nodding, Jessup responded “Yeah. I wasn’t always a pennangal an’ I recall when my old summoner fused me. He was just as shocked as you to see he had ‘em back. There should be an app in there ta check. Anyways, I’m head’in out… see ya, master”. Jessup then vanished. “Huh… that’s helpful” Spooky responded “It means if you’re low you can fuse them to regain them… that’s very helpful”. Nodding, he said “It also means they can be called quickly if we get pinned or in trouble. Let’s go, I feel way more confident now”. Then, the light went out.

 

Nemissa

 

She stared above once the lights went out. For her, it wasn’t a problem. However, it might be for Six. Humans weren’t known for having sight in total darkness. Well… it wasn’t totally dark, but mostly. The few windows high up were shuttered and the light streaming in was minimal. However for her it wasn’t a problem. “Shit… the lights went out!” Six complained “What now?”. “I dunno” she said “I guess… find a way to turn it back on? You’re pretty useless like this, right?”. She saw Six frown and respond “I ain’t useless. I did prepare… it’s just, with the power out we can’t open doors”. Groaning, she responded “Great. So we need power… jus’ radio them”. It was then Jessup appeared. Looking, Six began to look freaked out until she asked “What are you do’in here? Shouldn’t you be protecting Ar- Sanagi?”. “Nah. He asked me to come protect ya” Jessup responded “I agreed cause he had his servant”. Nemissa frowned, and responded harshly “I don’t need protection. Nemissa is strong enough to do that on my own”. “Yeah but what about your friend there?” Jessup asked pointedly “He’s just a human. If somethin’ big shows up, he’s dead. If I’m here, I can help with that”. Nemissa, silently, lifted her frown. He was right, as strong as she was she wasn’t entirely sure she could protect Six while fighting Moowis. With Jessup there she could at least focus on something while he handled protecting Six. “Alright” she responded after a minute of silence “Six, radio in. We need the power back… for both our sakes”. Six nodded, reaching for his radio. 

 

Rin

 

“Sadly, I only got a partial blueprint for this place. Power died before the full download finished” Hachi reported. She currently held a gem that emitted a light. She had dozens of these gems that contained a spell to give light when it could. She didn’t use flashlights due to the limitation they had; They only emitted light in a direction, limiting their vision. Her spell allowed for effectively the same thing but with the full range of human vision. “Well did you find a place to restore power?” she heard Spooky ask, Hachi responding “Yeah but that’s gonna be Shirou and Lunch. There’s a breaker for the backup generators there… Once I finish the download, we can flip the main breaker”. “Gotcha. We’re on it” she heard Lunch say. “Meantime, everyone sit tight. Don’t wanna accidentally trip into Moowis while we’re here” she heard Spooky say. Looking at Hachi she asked “There’s no way we can just power this place and get the full blueprint?”. Shaking his head, Hachi responded “Nah… well… not from here”. Raising an eyebrow, Hachi explained “I hacked into the main database remotely so powering here is useless… but if we could power the main database I hacked into, then we could… but it’s not here. It’s elsewhere and you heard him… we don’t wanna run into Moowis like this”. She agreed and sighed, saying “Well… if nothing else, I’m sure Shirou can handle it”. “Master” she heard her servant telepathically communicate “I can do some basic scouting. Should I?”. She responded likewise “Yes. Make sure there are no phantasmals or Moowis around… or servants that matter. Encountering one here would be bad”. She felt her servant drift away to do that. 

 

Shirou

 

They moved quickly. Lunch used a flashlight and pistol. He had various other devices, but the two he primarily had were a pair of pistols and a taser. The others were all things for hardware maintenance that had hacking applications. “Man… who turned off the power…” Lunch said aloud “How also? We scanned the place for people and it was empty… how’d they slip in?”. Otokabe, the phantasmal sent by Tsukamoto, stated “There were blind spots in the security feed. It is entirely possible our culprit hid there until we weren’t looking”. Sighing, Lunch responded “Yeah. That’s true… still, why help Moowis…?”. Shirou responded “Moowis… is a phantasmal. It could be he actually has a summoner and retreated here because this is where his summoner works out from”. Frowning, Lunch responded “Yeah… dammit… should’ve accounted for that. Guess Carol J decided to return for whatever reason”. Then they found it. A door with a keypad next to it and a lightning bolt with an exclamation point inside of a triangle. “The power room” Lunch said, going to the keypad. He plugged something in and then pressed a button. The keypad lit up and then the device did too. After a minute, both died but the door unlatched. Opening it, Lunch said “Alright… let’s turn the power back on”. He followed Lunch in, keeping an eye out. 

 

Arata

 

Once the power came back on, he sighed in relief. The shutter they came across raised as he activated a cracking device into the keypad next to it. Spooky stood guard with Bai as slowly the shutter raised. Then they heard a woman’s voice yell “Hey! Who’s there!”. Looking, he muttered “That voice… we’re not alone”. Spooky, turning and aiming, said “Yeah… Bai, you ready?”. Nodding, Bai stated “Yes… though I request you stand back. I am more suited to close combat”. Laughing, Spooky stated “No need to tell me… I’m well aware that I’m no match. I’ll just provide covering fire when you need it”. He looked and saw Bai ever so slightly smiling for a second before dropping the smile as she stated “Someone’s coming. Arm yourselves!”. From around a corner, a familiar face appeared. Tatsuya said “Hey now, don’t be alarmed… Didn’t expect ta see ya here either”. “Who are you…?” Spooky asked as he replied “That’s Tatsuya, boss. Why are you here though?”. Tatsuya responded “Smelled a very particular scent and followed it. You?”. Sighing, he responded “Pretty much same with us. A phantasmal calling itself Moowis ambushed me and Nemissa outside my house… we used some of what we sheared off to track him here since he made a body for himself out of parts”. Nodding, Tatsuya commented “Smart… but ya sure he’s here alone? Cause I definitely smell tha taint of Nyarlathotep”. Blinking, he responded “Yeah… should be. Our cams picked up noth’in”. Thinking, Tatsuya replied “Huh… could be they’re one in tha same… hmmm… hey, how ‘bout this. We ‘elp each other. This barrier he’s setup is mess’in with my sense a’ smell. So… let me tag along with your posse and I’ll help out. How ‘bout it?”. 

 

“Alright… see no reason why not. With the power you apparently displayed before, you’d be a great help” Spooky said, looking at him and saying “Although… Sanagi, can we trust him?”. He nodded, saying “Yeah… I kinda ghosted him last night and he’s chill still… I think. By the way, sorry about that”. Shrugging, Tatsuya replied “Eh, shit happens. Jus’ don’t make it a habit, alright? For now… I can’t help much with track’in. His little barrier he’s gone and made is prevent’in it cause his scent is everywhere. So we gotta do it the ol’ fashioned way”. Nodding, Spooky said “We’re already split up and searching… hmmm… well. You can stick with us. One thing… how much do you know about all this?”. Shrugging, Tatsuya said “Some. Pieced together a lotta clues. Some secret org is behind the city… they’re fight’in with some others… ya’ll are the hacker group caus’in them problems… an’ all the nasty forces are mov’in through the net. Likely with the bless’in of the government”. Blinking, Spooky said “Holy shit… that’s… that’s right on the money”. Laughing, Tatsuya said “Wait, that’s it? I thought there was more… well, guess there’s the deets but I can find those later… fer now, let’s get moving. I’ve checked this and the second floor and found zilch”. Nodding, Spooky replied “The… third floor?”. Smirking, Tatsuya replied “No prob”. Bai looked at him and he just nodded. He knew she was suspicious and he was a bit too… but he knew better. Fighting Tatsuya was a bad idea, even with a servant and especially with his Phantasmals away… maybe if he had them all, he’d feel more confident. Yet, even then, he wasn’t sure. Tatsuya was being non-aggressive. He’d rather keep it that way.

 

Nemissa

 

She fired another Roma Grandor, after which Jessup slammed down with its body weight onto it. The last frozen phantasmal, which was a silver snake like what Finnegan unleashed on her and Arata, was crushed under Jessups newfound strength and weight. “Man… these things are scary” Six said, panting as he held his rifle “It dodged every bullet”. “Yeah… those ones are speedy buggers when we fought the one at the airport” Nemissa commented, looking at him and staring. She was seeing if he was fine. Seeing that he was she stated “C’mon. There’s an elevator. Let’s head up”. Blinking, he asked “Why? We should-” but she cut him off, saying “It’s more fun going up. C’mon!” and headed there. Six sighed, saying in a somewhat shaky voice “C’mon… let’s just hack the database and find him that way… it’s the best thing to do…”. Stopping, she turned. She stared, sizing him up, for several seconds. Then she asked “Are you scared?”. “What!? N-No!” Six exclaimed, looking flustered “I’m not scared! J-just concerned we’re getting distracted with-” but was cut off as she laughed and said “Don’t worry. I’ve got you safe. Just stick near me and Jessup and we’ll make sure the big bad monsters don’t get you”. Gritting his teeth, Six yelled “Screw you!”. “Nah” she replied “Now let’s hurry, I’m getting bored” and began to walk away, disinterested now, though somewhat amused that Six was scared. Not that she could blame him, he was just a human after all. ‘You should be nicer’ Hitomi commented mentally to her to which she responded ‘It’s fine. He’s a guy. He’s tough’. 

 

Rin

 

Walking, she followed a sensation she detected. It was faint, but now that she paid attention… It was similar to Shirou’s reality marble. At least, what it left behind. Except, unlike that, this wasn’t going away. It was still lingering and refused. As they arrived at an assembly line, she felt it increase in strength somewhat, though still weak. Like…. “We’re at the edge” she stated. “What?” Hachi asked to which she responded “Nothing… just be careful… we’re entering the defenses of a magus… or phantasmal”. Hachi gulped and nodded. He was silent but followed. She was thankful. From his actions at the base, she assumed he’d be loud and obnoxious… not so well behaved. However, she wasn’t going to complain. As they stepped onto an elevator and went up. Hachi, still silent, asked something odd “Hey. Is it really true… that humans can’t fight Phantasmals…?”. Not looking at him, she responded “Honestly? No… the only way a human stands a chance is with firearms. Even then… it seems they only stand a chance against the weaker phantasmals. I doubt the more popular ones will be capable of being harmed by that at all”. She then glanced at Hachi and only saw him frowning. “That said, you aren’t here for combat” She said, somewhat for his benefit but also for hers “You’re a hacker and I’m not. I couldn’t navigate this place alone… so in that respect, Hachi-san, you’re very helpful”. Hachi looked at her, blinking for a few seconds, then smirked and said “Well… you got lucky then, cause I’m the best the group has. No door is too much for me! Well… if it has power. The lights go out again and sorry”. She didn’t respond but she was glad her encouragement helped. If he got distracted by his emotions in the heat of battle… it could end poorly. For both of them. Now, with him focused, she hoped it would help him focus on not getting injured. Of course, she had Kuzunoha for backup but she wanted to only reveal her if necessary. 

 

Shirou

 

He and Lunch ran. Not because of Moowis but because of what his reality marble did. Phantasmals had appeared and now they were coming and going. Specifically, the group that had decided to try to make a meal of them. He projected Kanshou and Byakuya, turning and throwing them. They span through the air like a pair of buzzsaws and slashed through two humanoid phantasmals that looked like they were imitations of ghost rider, a manga character from America. He didn’t dwell on it however, looking forwards and projecting a new pair, dismissing the old pair and tossed them this time like throwing knives. They sank into the heads of a pair of humanoids wearing black leather all over, capes, and a gas mask with top hats. They held a pack on their back under their capes and held something like a weed killer hose. However, the purple mist seeping out suggested otherwise. Thankfully, they wore gas masks so the gas took a bit to work. If it hadn’t been magical at all, it’d haven't been outright. “Lunch!? Are you okay!?” he asked, worried. “Yeah! Just keep going! There’s an elevator ahead! If you reinforce it, we should be fine!”. Nodding, he turned and frowned. The horde consisted of silver snakes moving as fast as them, floating, butchered pigs, and winged baboons. 

 

Looking ahead now, he saw the elevator. Once they were in, he put a hand on the side and then a hand in front. To his left, the elevator wall he touched, he channeled reinforcement throughout it. He could feel the drain on his circuits, but knew that he could do what he planned. “I am the bone of my sword… Rho Aias!” he chanted, projecting the legendary shield. With how little prana he provided, the shield didn’t last for nearly as long but it lasted the ten seconds he needed against the horde for the elevator door to close. With that done, he channeled more prana into the reinforcement to prevent the horde from tearing the door open. Then they ascended. He sighed in relief as did Lunch, who spoke into the radio saying “Confirmed… Phantasmals encountered… no doubt he’s here”. Then they heard it. “Contact! Contact! This is Six! He’s here! We’re luring him to the depot! Everyone, head there!” the radio crackled. They then heard various bits of chatter but both looked and nodded. They were on the third floor. He headed for the elevator while Shirou jumped to the second floor. The floors above the first were simply catwalks after all… this made them ideal for ambushing Moowis when he entered. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

Mechanical Arena




Arata

 

He ran immediately and the other two scrambled to catch up. Tatsuya barely made it in the elevator, panting. “Dammit… can’t this thing go any faster…!?” he complained, staring at the elevator door as though hating it would make it faster. “Master… please… calm yourself, we have time!” Bai stated. Tatsuya himself commented “That’s… odd. Normally, things influenced by him work together… for them to not… that’s extremely odd… especially when she’s practically giving off the same scent”. Gritting his teeth, he stated “He holds a grudge for our stunt at the museum… he didn’t like us beating him out of his first host… probably further frustrated when he failed to kick Nemissa out of hers”. Blinking, Tatsuya asked “Hosts… wait is she possessing someone?”. Sighing, he responded “Yeah… it’s complicated but basically Nemissa can only exist in people with specific qualities… without them… she’d die”. Frowning, Tatsuya moved on, asking “So then Moowis… he’s similar to Nemissa?”. Shrugging, he replied as the elevator door opened, him running out “Not exactly… from what I can tell, if he can jump into the Manitou Network, he can survive for a lot longer… haven’t tested with Nemissa and frankly don’t wanna”. “Sensible… after all, she dies and who knows what happens to the host” Tatsuya said “Might’ve accidentally melded souls an’ all”. As they left they saw it. Nemissa. She had just turned the corner. Seeing them she signaled to the building next door that had open doors. Then it came around the building. 

 

Rin

 

She ran as fast as she could. She asked Hachi to watch things from there and do everything he can to keep civilians out. Once out of eyesight she reinforced her legs to make things faster, while also saying “Kuzunoha… What's the situation?”. Appearing and gliding along on an enlarged leaf, Kuzunoha stated “A large metallic entity is currently pursuing Nemissa through the plant. In exactly ten minutes, they will reach the depot where Nemissa will confront him. Six had gone ahead, taking shortcuts, to open the way so it doesn’t cause too much damage… however… I fear she won’t be enough. Alone, she’ll die… she’ll need all of our support”. Nodding, she said “That’s the plan! So keep the phantasmals out of our way!”. “Already done master” Kuzunoha responded “While unnatural and outside the norm I have altered the… ‘Pseudo-Reality Marble’ the entity is generating to exempt our path to the depot”. Rin nodded, seeing the depot ahead. She quickly navigated the outside and got into a higher position… then she saw it. The mechanical entity her servant talked about. “That’s… Moowis…. Really?” she said in total disbelief, not believing what she saw. She tried not to at least, but her rationality was getting the better of her. She even felt her servant's distress as she muttered “Th… that’s… Moowis? That… unnatural thing…?”. 

 

Rampaging before them after Nemissa was nothing short of a small nightmare. It stood at 49 feet tall and had a width of 10 feet. It was mostly yellow with some black here and there. However, it had 4 blade-shaped fins coming out of the back and a massive red claw on the left hand which extended twice as much as the right. The right arm extended 8 feet out so that meant that the other went out around 16 feet. Around the midsection was some sort of circular mound of metal and at the elbow of the left arm was what she could only describe as a cannon. On the back of the left claw a long metal pole with a sharpened end sat connected to some kind of machine. The eyes were clearly the headlights of a car and shined red light onto Nemissa. However, that wasn’t the worst thing about the monstrosity. As she laid eyes onto it, she felt the pseudo-reality marble the Leon Auto Plant was in shift considerably. It morphed with his anger and not only charged the air with prana, but also manipulated some factor of it… somehow, it was turning into something. Something like a reality marble, but not quite one. She was… disturbed. Reality Marbles were already a massive taboo in magus society. Whatever this thing was developing… what do you even assign something that likely is going to be more serious than a sealing designation? 

 

Arata

 

He readied his AR15. Spooky did too. Neither of them had magecraft to rely on. However, that didn’t matter. The spookies, from what he knew, had all gathered at the depot except for Hachi, who was told by Rin to stay behind for his safety. He hadn’t heard anything from Shirou or Lunch in a while but he assumed they set up an ambush. Nemissa had made it in but still needed to bait him all the way in so Six could shut the shutter behind it. All that was left was him, Spooky, and Tatsuya. Thankfully, Spooky had the idea to go in the side entrance to expedite the full closing of the building. He agreed and they entered that way. As he did, he heard Nemissa and Moowis speak.  “You will die, Nemissa, and we will be free of the threat you pose!” Moowis growled mechanically, standing tall over her. Nemissa yelled back “What threat do I pose!? You attacked me first! Twice!”. “That is true but only through your mortal understanding” Moowis responded “It is inevitable that we clash. It is our nature. I merely struck first”. Nemissa was silent for several moments, before saying “You know… you speak like you know about me… and who is ‘us’?”. Moowis’ head moved, tilting as if curious. Then it straightened as it said “You… don’t know who my master is?”. “No… I have no idea… wait, is he why you’re trying to kill Nemissa!?” she responded loudly, but Moowis ignored her, saying “.... I do know you, Nemissa. As do the rest of us… but if you don’t remember us… yes, there is no better time. For our sake, Nemissa, die!”. Then it raised its claw, bent it upwards revealing the cannon, and fired not a ball of steel but instead a ball of raw prana. Screaming, Nemissa leapt aside, yelling “The hell!? Is that anyway-” but was interrupted as Moowis said “I don’t care! You must die, Nemissa!”. 

 

That was when Shirou made his move. Large versions of his signature swords with crystalline structures growing from the sides were in his hands and slammed against the shoulder of Moowis. However, they stopped dead, only biting a centimeter into the shoulder. “What!?” Shirou cried out, moving and leaping away. “Dammit Shirou, why didn’t you reinforce when you attacked!?” he heard Rin yell in the darkness. “I did! He still resisted!” Shirou shouted. “Ugh… what a pain!” Rin yelled in response. “Otokaba, Jessup! Provide support! Even if it's utilizing offensive powers for cover!” he ordered, then looked at Bai and said “Bai-” but she cut him off, saying “I know, Master… I’m an Assassin after all and am best suited for subterfuge. Leave it to me!” and vanished. Spooky moved behind something, saying “Sanagi, Hachi can hack him but he needs access. Get me an opening and a USB port and I can stick him”. Nodding, he mentally relayed “Bai, can you find one?”. After a few moments, Bai said “It’ll be difficult, master. Something prevents me from moving fluidly while in spirit form… nonetheless, I’ll keep an eye out. This thing… we can’t lose, master”. Looking at Nemissa, it hadn’t lost sight. It lunged forward and brought its claw down. Jessup leapt and slammed into the side, sending the claw away from Nemissa. Suddenly, fire erupted from the head as a glass bottle smashed over top of it. 

 

However, it did little to stop it fully. It crashed into the ground, but the other hand reared back and went for Nemissa. Then Otokaba appeared in front of her, held a hand out, and said aloud “Okina Chikara”. Something then expelled from Otokaba’s hand and slammed into Moowis’, forcing a struggle. Otokaba then leapt aside once Nemissa was cleared, dissipating into leaves. Then it reared back with its mechanical body creaking. He took that moment to aim and then fired. Turns out, he wasn’t alone. From above and from the opposite side Lunch and Six fired their own shots. They rained a full clip of bullets onto him… except, he noticed they had more effect. They sunk into the metal at first. Then Moowis, seeming to notice this, had blue lines, like a circuit board, covering him and now only dents formed. He heard Rin say “No way… Reinforcement!?”. “Is that bad!?” He heard six ask to which Rin responded “That’s… magecraft! Proper magecraft! I thought Phantasmals didn’t-” but was cut off as Moowis said “Foolish magus. You know not the forces you meddle with. Stop interfering!” and turned suddenly. Suddenly four gems lit up and then Rin chanted “Teine. Uisge. Adhair. Talamh. Encase and imprison. Le beannachdan nàdur, fuirich do lamh. Entombed in crystal, cadal gu brath!”. From each gem a corresponding light radiated in a pillar from it. Then, each extended a wall to the other. Red to green, green to blue, blue to yellow, and yellow to red. “What…!?” Moowis cried out, before raising its right arm “You cannot imprison me! I am Moowis!” and then brought it into the wall. 

 

Rin

 

However, the fist never connected. It stopped centimeters away, shaking as it did. The entire body of Moowis shook as all her circuits activated and poured pure prana into the spell. It was the result of hours of study. A combination of the years of Tohsaka study into one spell; A spell that could eternally, with little recourse, trap an enemy in crystal. However, she felt it’s struggle. Just keeping it that way was taking up a lot of prana. Between the spell and her servant, she wasn’t sure she’d successfully trap Moowis. ‘Misstress, I can perform the spell if-” but she cut her off, saying “No… I knew… it was a long shot… just… prepare the next attack!”. Kuzunoha then appeared on the first floor and with a swish of their tail a pair of blue flames appeared. “What!?” she heard someone cry out but Kuzunoha stated “Stay your hand! I’m the servant of Tohsaka Rin!”. She knew what Kuzunoha was doing. She was seeping her power into the earth beneath. The fire was to melt the steel away as it would get in the way. “Will attacking him prevent the spell she’s cast’in?” she heard Sanagi asked, to which she responded “No! Don’t hold back! Just stop when he becomes crystalized!”. Then she heard the gunshots. She heard Shirou’s cries of battle. She knew they were all giving it their best… so she focused. She moved each crystal closer to Moowis, shrinking the walls. When the wall made contact, it physically pushed him fist. To his left there were 5 feet left, to his right 3, and behind 8. In five minutes, Moowis would be trapped. It would be 1 but with how little prana she could work with, the crystals moved slowly. Then… it happened. 

 

“No… NO… I… WILL… NOT… DIE!” Moowis cried, suddenly, with immense force, moved. It reached out and pushed against the walls. “I call upon… the powers of Nature! Aid me, great spirit!” Moowis cried. Her eyes widened then as something occurred. She felt the elements of her gems fizzle out completely, as if the prana in them never existed. Even further, she sensed no connection to the gems, as if they were no longer capable of storing prana. The spell, subsequently, fell apart. The walls shattered and then vanished. “I am Moowis! He who is spurned! No longer will I be held down by such names!”. Growling, Nemissa yelled “Stop getting so hung up on things and just die! Roma Grandor!”. However, something midair warped and twisted the beam into the ceiling. “W-what!?” Nemissa cried out. “Shit! What happened!?” Shirou cried out, landing next to her. “I don’t know! He… He’s doing something to mana I think!” she commented. Frowning deeply, Shirou commented “Then I’m going to go harder. Tohsaka, back me up!” and leapt at the creature. She bit her lip as she saw the creature merely turn and something form in front of Shirou. It was a gathering of mana. Packed tight… so tight that once Shirou was in front of it in 5 seconds, it’d explode and severely injure his reinforced legs… if not outright obliterate them. She couldn’t even cry out in time… then something shocking happened. 

 

Spookies

 

He could barely react. Between the crazy spell, its collapse, and now the sudden danger Shirou was in. However, someone reacted. Suddenly, a red figure they all were familiar with appeared by Shirou and leapt in front of it. It grabbed the condensed prana and quite literally threw it at Moowis. It traveled much faster than Shirou was and so exploded right on its shoulder, denting it inwards. Then Shirou arrived, chanting “I am the bone of my sword… Kanshou and Byakuya!”. The twin swords appeared in their stronger form and he thrust them into the heavily dented right shoulder. “D-damn you! What is this!?” Moowis cried as the swords sunk in. Breaking them off, he dissipated them and leapt away, looking at Tatsuya and saying “Thanks for the assist!”. Smirking and flashing a thumbs up, Tatsuya said “No prob… got a truce with the kiddo… now… Moowis, right? Sorry but ya kinda gotta die”. Turning rapidly, the right arm now limp, it cried out “Began!” and its eyes flashed a light blue color. “G-grah!” Tatsuya cried out, falling over. Ice crusted all over Apollo and it fell from its position before dissipating akin to a servant. Clicking her tongue, Rin commented “So… I wasn’t crazy… that was Heaven’s Feel…. How the hell did he get it…?”. Arata aimed and fired at the back of the head, doing nothing. Nemissa herself fired another Roma Grandor. However, the attacks did nothing. The Roma Grandor was redirected again and it turned back to Nemissa and began to approach. This time, a laser lined up with Nemissa as it revealed its elbow cannon. “Dammit… is it really… unbeatable…!?” Arata cried out, emptying his magazine “N-no!” and rushed to pull it out. 

 

Then suddenly Arata whispered something. Spooky, who had been hiding the whole time, burst into a run. Multiple implosions like before began to form but the two servants, Bai and Kuzunoha, appeared and destroyed them with their own methods; Bai using her half-snake form claws to tear it apart and Kuzunoha warped the prana within into opposing elements to make them stray away quickly. Then Spooky slammed something into the heel and leapt away into Bai’s arms who retreated at inhuman speed, yelling into the radio “Hachi do it now!”. “Wh-what!? Unauthorized- G-GRAAAAAAAH!” Moowis screamed, electricity crackling all over him. Then their radios crackled as Hachi said “I uploaded a virus to him! Right now, it’s making him overheat! He can’t do anything that requires a lot of energy!”. Reloading, they began unloading into Moowis. The bullets did nothing themselves, but Nemissa, smirking, fired Roma Grandor multiple times herself. Rin decided to rest, so she didn’t overtax herself. Kuzunoha, surrounded by a visible aura of blue fire summoned vine after vine to wrap around the arm and pull, while Bai tore into the shoulder, eventually disconnecting it entirely. Jessup himself ran around and with a roar to them created some sort of forcefield that moved with them. Otokaba used the spell he had before and slammed it into the ankle joint. Then it stopped shaking and straightened out. 

 

“Virus… overcome… You cannot… Stop Moowis! I will prevail against my fate!” it cried out. It then kicked with its foot sending Otokaba and Jessup flying through the distant wall with great force. Then with a slam, the entire plant shook. Various catwalks fell, one almost crushing Rin, but the quick reaction of Tatsuya stopped that. Then she saw it. Tatsuya, staring at her with blood leaking from his eyes and mouth, hand outstretched. However the eyes concerned her. They were no longer human. They glowed yellow as if possessed. The spirit set Rin down and then turned, floating down to the magus. “Tsk… dammit, my glasses broke… Hey! Stall him! I’m gonna end this!” Tatsuya yelled “Apollo! Prepare Nova Kaiser!”. The figure, now revealed as Apollo, floated to the top of the warehouse. Moowis noticed and looked up to attack. Nemissa suddenly yelled “Don’t look away! Roma Grandor!” and fired the pale blue beam. “G-GRRR… Damn you, Nemissa!” Moowis cried, moving and looking at her, shattering the ice. It’s mouth opened suddenly and expelled a stream of fire. However Otokaba was waiting and ready, appearing next to her and said “Okina Chikara!” and with a flourish fired a concussive blast at the fire, parting it temporarily. Just long enough for Nemissa to cry out “Roma… Grandor!” and letting her beam fight the rest off. “Grrrr… Nemissa! Can’t you see!? You are not good! You only bring death! You must die so we can live!” Moowis cried, moving towards her. Then it stopped as something struck its back. Turning, a large white snake stared at it. Bai Suzhen had unleashed her noble phantasm; Baishe Furen.

 

The snake moved swiftly and wrapped around Moowis. It cried out, attempting to break out. “Ssssssurrender! It isssss usssselesssssssss!” Bai said, crushing Moowis harder, as evidenced by the sparking coming from the arms. It struggled, seemingly in vain and Apollo began to glow brightly. “Almost done! Keep him there!” Tatsuya said, staring. “D-d-dammit!” Moowis cried “L-l-let go!” and then suddenly multiple balls of differently colored energy formed around them. They all exploded, wracking Bai with pain and loosening her grip. Grabbing her, Moowis’ midsection spun rapidly and he threw her at the shutter he entered from. Slamming out of it, the noble phantasm shattered, and Bai laid there injured. “Bai!” Arata cried, moving to chase after her but stopped as Moowis turned to Nemissa, saying in a low, gravely voice “Die”. 

 

The elbow cannon fired. Otokaba appeared next to it and attempted his concussive wave but it did nothing. Rin screamed for Nemissa to dodge in a panic. Shriou ran to defend. Nemissa frowned deeply at the energy ball, as if accepting it. Arata himself had already run when he heard Moowis tell her to die. However with two raised hands, Nemissa spoke, saying “Mudo”. Suddenly, in front of her, a dark portal opened. The energy ball made contact and the two forces struggled. Then, the ball passed through and vanished. However, all present were astonished. Moowis himself was silent for a full minute before crying “You… no… you can’t… don’t kill me!!!”. Frowning, Nemissa said in a strange tone and dialect “ You shouldn’t have fought me if you didn’t want to die ”. She raised a hand to attack but was stopped as Arata grabbed it and pulled her to run. Then, looking around, Nemissa noticed everyone was running. “H-huh…?” She asked, with Arata replying “He’s ready! Tatsuya-san is unleashing the Nova Kaiser!”. Smirking, Tatsuya stated “Alright then! Apollo! Nova Kaiser!”. Apollo, glowing akin to a small star, suddenly oriented towards Moowis. Moowis, looking up, growled and yelled “Bring it puny soul! I, Moowis, will spurn you as well!” and lashed out with the claw. However as it approached the claw melted rapidly the closer it got. It attempted to step back but its massive, bulky body couldn’t move fast. So when Apollo rammed into it, it cut through like a hot knife to soft-serve butter. With a cry, Moowis screamed “NOOOOOOOO!”. 

 

Arata

 

Light exploded from the on-site warehouse. The concussive wave radiating out knocked everyone to the ground. He felt something lift him and looking he saw Jessup. Otokaba was helping Nemissa to her feet. Shirou was forcing himself to stand while Kuzunonha helped Rin to her feet. “Ugh…. is it.. Over?” Rin asked sleepily as Shirou replied “Did you feel that? How could anything survive that?”. However they all froze as something landed near them. Battered, Tatsuya crashed nearby. Standing and holding his arm, Tatsuya stated “Dammit… what… a dirty… trick”. Then they felt and heard the footfalls of something massive. Turning slowly, they gazed up at it. Moowis still alive. The entire upper right half of him was completely gone, with clear signs of melt. However, a shimmering haze of pure prana glowed around him. It was only 20 ft. in diameter but it was constantly active. His eyes widened in fear as he stared at it. “N-no way… h-how?” Rin questioned “It’s… the only way is if it’s…” and then was cut off as it answered “A servant… If I was a servant… and you are wrong. I am no servant… nor am I phantasmal. I am Moowis”. Stopping, it glared down at the now standing Nemissa. “How did you survive that though…? There was so much prana in that attack! Even a servant would be at least out!” Rin questioned, not believing the answer. Then, strangely, Nemissa answered “I can see it… you. You’re playing dirty. You’re little field… it’s rewriting the rules isn’t it? Then exploiting them?”. Humming, Moowis responded “Yes… to an extent. I cannot wholesale usurp the old laws… but I may add ‘clarity’ to them… allowing me to then exploit those clarifications. I cannot remove gravity, but I can choose to alter how it functions. I cannot remove the atmosphere but I can change its contents… that is my newfound power… my Marble Phantasm and Reality Marble harmonizing”. Eyes wide, Rin stated “Marble… Phantasm…? What is… that?”. Glaring, Shirou states “It confirms… that he’s using a Reality Marble…”. Looking at them, Tatsuya asked “Reality… Marble…?”. 

 

“Now die Nemissa. So I may live” and then lifted its elbow cannon to her. It’s claw was completely gone but the cannon survived. Nemissa however stated “No… not today” and raised her hands. Moowis fired its ball of pure molten prana. However something happened. A small pop was heard and suddenly the energy ball veered off course. Taking a step back, Moowis questioned “W… what?”. Smirking, Nemissa said “It’s a neat trick. Truly… took me a while to figure out… but now like your old power, it’s mine! MUDO!”. Instantly a portal opened by Moowis’ legs. “G-GRAH! NO! “ it screamed as it attempted to move away. However, before that leg could finish its step, Nemissa yelled “Mudo! Mudo! Mudo!” and formed more portals. Each contact seemingly did nothing as the metal passed through effortlessly. However, Moowis fell over and the legs didn’t move. “D-Dammit!” Moowis cried “My legs! I can’t feel my legs! WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY LEGS!”. Nemissa then aimed again, simply stating “Just defending myself. ROMA GRANDOR!” and fired a beam of pale blue light at the head. “N-no!” Moowis yelled, a ball of energy evacuating from the head before the beam made contact. Frozen completely, the entire body fell apart. 

 

“I… I… Must escape! I will escape! You won’t kill me!” Moowis cried, flying right at them. “No!” Nemissa yelled, holding both her hands out and yelling “Mudo!”. The dark portal formed but Moowis clearly avoided it. It then slammed into his Comp. Turning it on and activating the antivirus, he was surprised. He found nothing on his Comp. Firing up the program, it noted an intrusion but noted that the invading presence fled to… city hall? He asked Lunch “Hey, can you track him? Moowis fled to city hall’s mainframe”. Blinking, Lunch nodded and took his Comp. He then attached something and after some inputs said “Yeah… seems like… his ultimate destination was Algonsoft’s servers… seems he’s fled to Paradigm X”. Nemissa growled, saying “Nuh-uh! He ain’t gett’in away!” then turned to him and ran over, saying “We’re going!”. 

 

Nemissa dragged him all the way to the computer room of the plant. She then jumped in with him. Before they did, Spooky stated “Are you sure about going alone…? I mean, he was pretty tough. It took all of us together to bring him down”. Rin sighed, saying “I agree… it’s stupid to go in alone”. “I can’t. I don’t have enough juice to do it… sorry. Don’t worry, we’ve got Bai, Sanagi, Otokaba, and Jessup. We’ll be good” Nemissa responded. “Besides… if you watch us from the van, we can still communicate. It is a game, remember? So one of you can login. All we need is an active channel back”. Nodding, Six stated “No problem… just… be careful okay?”. Nodding, he stated “We’ll head to… the VR Art Museum, Aqua Dolphin painting when we’re done. So let’s meet, alright?”. Nodding, Six said “Gotcha… be safe, Sanagi”. Hachi spoke up, saying “Done. Tracked him down… he’s at the edge of Paradigm X. If you head southwest for 5 miles, you’ll find an entrance to the VR Art Museum also, so don’t worry”. Smiling, he said “Thanks, Hachi-san. You’re so helpful…” to which Nemissa said “Yeah. We’d have lost him without you… much better than scaredy-cat Six”. Growling, Six yelled “Hey! Back off, what do you expect!? I’m a human fighting literal demons!”. Before Rin could ask anything, Nemissa grabbed his and Bai’s shoulders and turned them into pure prana, all of it diving into the mainframe, using it to connect to Paradigm X. 

 

Thanks to Hachi’s hacking skill, they were able to navigate within 100 feet of Moowis. Nemissa yelled “Moowis! You can’t-” but stopped cold. He did too even though he had his Comp out and just about pulled the trigger. Before them was not a ball of prana. It was in fact a being. A body of yellow silver with emerald eyes. It had a feathered headdress and many tattoos that looked foreign. However, even he noticed the harsh reality. He watched as the last vestiges of Moowis’ left arm collapsed and the digital rot claimed the first bit of its left pectoral. Looking at them, sitting with its legs crossed, Moowis said perfectly fluently “Ah… so you have arrived…. Nemissa….”. Eyes wide, Nemissa asked “What…. Is….?” and Moowis responded, “Do you… know the legend of Moowis….?”. Shaking her head, Moowis explained “A man loved a woman who loved another… so using forbidden techniques, he created a man of snow and blessed him to be loved by a woman… However, he cursed the woman to be spurned by the homunculus”. Shifting ever so slightly, Moowis continued “The homunculus sought out the woman after killing his master for such base cruelty. He planned to only spurn her if she was undesirable of heart. Finding she was not, he promised her all his gifts if she would only live with him. She agreed and they set off…”. “That… sounds nice” he said, saying “How did you become so….” but was interrupted as Moowis finished his tale, saying “However, curses need not their masters to work… on the third day, at the foot of the mountain, after declaring our love for one another after a tough journey…. The sun rose. Hotter than normal. It was minutes before I was dead”. Frowning, Nemissa quietly asked “So… what’s your injuries-” but stopped as her eyes widened. 

 

“Yes… my curse is still active. I may only live for 3 days ever. Even in this powerful form, existing between Heroic Spirit and Phantasmal… the curse persists. I’m ‘melting’ even now. In moments, I will be completely gone. You have won, Nemissa. Your victory was always assured, either pyrrhic or otherwise” Moowis concluded, sighing. Silent at first, Nemissa after a few seconds asked “What do you know about me? I know nothing… My first memory is of a spacious but empty black void. What was I before that?”. Humming, Moowis said “Death. You are death incarnate. However you were not always… Once upon a time, like me, you were part of him… the great spirit… until humans intervened and mangled him… yet unlike them, I harbor no ill will… for it is merely nature taking course… ah. My time is up… sorry. I cannot answer your questions… if you seek answers, seek the red one. He knows everything about this…. And yet, he suspects nothing”. With those cryptic words Moowis rapidly corroded. “No! No! I need answers! Who is Nemissa! Who am I!?” Nemissa cried, rushing forward and grabbing their shoulders. She let out a sorrowful cry as upon contact the remains of Moowis became a puddle of liquid metal. 

Chapter Text

Interlude 2

Returned From Death




He had been investigating the Phantom Societies movements for months. A lot of them had gathered at a particular spot. He had come to the village Aogashima due to many of its summoners and magus heading there. The more prominent members headed to Amami City in northern japan, but with so many coming here plus an internal contact that he trusted informing them of their plans here, he couldn’t ignore it. Apparently, the society had found the last phantasmal left in the modern world, only existing due to being asleep and recognized as a range of mountains. As a result it hadn’t drawn the ire of the planet and didn’t need to burn prana to exist. However if the society managed to awaken it with their plan, even momentary awakening would be disastrous. If it could cement itself as something natural the planet wouldn’t reject it and thus its prana upkeep would be severely reduced. Enough that a summoner’s ‘Field’ would be enough to sustain it, granting the society immense power. Thus the Kuzunoha sent him to deal with it… however, as he now discovered from a call he was listening to, it would seem the Clock Tower demanded that they be included in dealing with the issue. “You’re sure boss? We got our secrets ta keep… gonna be hard if i jus’-” he began to ask but he heard Ginko say “I know Kyouji-san but my hands are tied… you know how tenuous our alliance is. We don’t capitulate here and we risk them placing a sealing designation on us… I’m sure we could survive, but I’d rather we be able to exist without a target on our backs”. Sighing, he replied “You say that like it ain’t the case”. “Well at the moment any magus associated with them that moves against us does so without official clock tower support… which means them getting found out risks their position” Ginko replied “Which suits me fine. It also means we sometimes get free supplies and allies against the Phantom Society… so humor them this time, understand?”. “Yeah, yeah… ya made sure ta warn him he’s not getting our secrets easily, right?” he asked, to which Ginko replied “Yes… now, I have to go. Final preparations to leave are finished and I’d much rather be out of the reach of the Phantom Society”. He heard the call go dead. Looking over, he saw a woman approach. 

 

“Hello” the woman greeted “I am the magus from Clock Tower. Bazett Mcremitz, at your service”. Smirking, he replied “Pleasure. Names Kuzunoha Kyouji. Have ya been briefed?”. Shaking her head, Bazett replied “Nothing much besides we’re dealing with a threat to normalcy… what is the crisis?”. “Well… then let’s start with the society. It’s a shadow organization whose sole goal is to control humanity. Their latest scheme is to acquire a lot of power. Their method? The Daidarabotchi” he explained “They found a living one near Aogashima. Apparently, it slept before the last phantasmals left our side and the people regarded it as simply a mountain range… basically allowing it to be unrejected”. Frowning deeply, Bazett stated “I see… but then shouldn’t waking it simply kill it?”. Shaking his head, he stated “Not exactly… see, they plan to use some special magecraft to keep him alive just long enough to get the people of Aogashima to regard him as ‘real’ and spread him on the net… from there, humanity will as a whole acknowledge it as ‘real’, forcing the planet to not reject him” and Bazett finished, saying “Ah… then in turn the prana upkeep for it would be reduced… meaning he could be made into a familiar”. Nodding, he stated “Yep… if I had ta guess, they’d use a Comp to make it simple… after all, these things are beauts”. Staring at the 3 ft. long suitcase propped against the wall, Bazett asked “Comps…?”. Smirking, Kyouji pulled out a card, saying “First, a geas. Sorry, it’s policy. If ya don’t agree to it, we gotta work separately… but don’t worry. The terms are simple. I share our biggest secret and in exchange your body or mind can’t willingly reveal its existence to non-kuzunoha”. Bazett glared at the card for a few seconds, then looked at him, and requested “First… is the secret even worth it? Provide me a hint that it is, and I’ll accept it”. He smirked. 

 

“Sure thing babe. Lemme tell you a dark secret that both we and the society share… that not even your folks at clock tower are aware” he said quietly, tapping the suitcase “These things have deep similarities to the infamous Holy Grail Wars… if one were to research one, they might even uncover said wars inner workings”. Eyes widened, Bazett replied “No way… but that magic was lost ten years ago. How…” to which he laughed and said “Tempted eh…? C’mon then. Accept it. Hell, I’ll even say all it’ll do is physically rob your ability to inform others of the secret. You’ll just stop talking and your thoughts will drift ta something else… and if I don’t reveal the secret, I’m obligated ta destroy this”. Staring at him intensely, Bazett took the card. He felt the magic work on him as he said “Alright then!” and lifted the case onto a nearby seat. Opening it he revealed the truth; A simple rifle. Bazett stared at it, puzzled, and then watched as he took it out and held it like a proper rifle. Clicking the trigger after pressing a button on the side, the bulky far end opened into a pair of screens. One slid along a rail to the stock of the gun while the other slid to the top of the rifle and displayed the desktop of the Comp. “Here it is… my ‘Comp’... lemme boot up the ‘Devil Summoning Program’ and summon a pixie” he said, typing into the other screen as a keyboard appeared. As he typed, Bazett growled, asking “Is… is this a sick joke…?”. Smiling cockily, he stated “Nah. See?” and ran it. Bazett yelled “How the hell can some cheap hardware summon a ser-” but stopped as both of them heard an echoing giggle. “It isn’t polite to yell at master!” the voice said and then appeared. A leotard wearing fairy with pink hair and eyes floated between Bazett and him, saying “I’m Amelia. Nice to meet you!”. Standing, he said “Well? Impressed?”. Taking a step back from him, Bazett demanded “How… How did you summon that? That’s a phantasmal!”. Laughing, the phantasmal stated “Indeed I am! I’m weak though so master can maintain me even when not activating his ‘Field’! That’s why he chose me!”. Blinking, Bazett asked “Weak…?”. 

 

“Yep… see, phantasmals are fairly varied… frankly, Amelia here could probably be killed by even a single human if they’re properly armed” he explained “What separates the two is that most phantasmals have magic, making even Amelia here dangerous”. Nodding vigorously, Amelia stated “Yep! Sad as it is, I can’t beat a human with a gun if they ambush me! Even a knife will hurt pretty bad!”. He continued “As for the how… basically that Comp there has a program with all the instructions to contract Phantasmals. It can’t summon them itself but it translates things fairly well so negotiations are possible… After that, the Comp stores them. From there, I can call forth any that are stored there kinda like a servant”. Frowning, Bazett asked “What about if they disobey? Surely that’s an issue”. Nodding, he replied “It is… thankfully, the program whenever it connects to a leyline creates Command Spells for each one I have… or restores them daily. Course I can just sever the contract and… well… force them back to the Other Side”. “I don’t believe this” Bazett said “There’s no way a computer can operate magic… How could it? It’s just-” but was stopped as he replied “Circuitry… that happen to also have magic circuits overlaid on them”. Eyes wide, before she could say anything he admitted “If you’re about to ask if it’s my work, nah… someone long ago figured it out. Actually, this thing’s kinda ancient. I had ta do a lotta personal upgrades ta bring it to the 21st century”. Sitting down, Bazett said “Magical technology… Do you realize how dangerous that secret is…?”. Laughing, he replied “Not at all! Ginko handles all business with your group. I jus’ handle fight’in any dark summoner that shows his face”. “Dark summoner… why call them that…?” Bazett asked to which he slowly stopped laughing and became serious, saying “Cause… as heretical as this stuff is… what they do is worse. I at least try ta keep magecraft a secret, right? They don’t…. In fact, since we’re so trust’in, i’ll tell ya another secret”. Looking at her, Kyouji stated “Truth is, I’m technically dead. My old body is rott’in in tha earth. I am only here because something calling itself ‘Charon’ made a deal with me and then gave me this body. My cause of death? I crossed a dark summoner… and was tortured to death by his phantasmals”. Bazett stared at him… with something like… pity? 

 

“I see… what-” but he stated “That summoner went on to involve the Yakuza, turning one into a Dead Apostle that I had to take down… so yeah. I try ta keep magecraft a secret and let ya’ll know when I fail. The society only does it as a convenience… as proven by their recent scheme”. Sighing in frustration, Bazett commented “What a mess…. If they succeed, it’ll mean a lot of trouble…”. Nodding, he responded “Yeah… prolly why you’re on this mission. Thanks, by the way. Gonna be honest, I’m not much of a magus myself. Only spell I know is ‘Field’. That itself is… only so helpful”. Bazett raised an eyebrow at him and he responded “Don’t worry. It just makes a certain area around me full of prana. Kinda like a reality marble but it’s only minimal reality overwriting”. Bazett glared at him, saying “You keep adding reasons for me to kill you at the end of this… but I’ve agreed to help and I have a geas saying I won’t share your secrets. However… if you ever get a Sealing Designation on you, I won’t hesitate”. Laughing, he responded “That’s fine…. Just wait till I get an apprentice, alright?”. Tilting her head and her expression softening, Bazett asked “An apprentice…? You aren’t passing it onto your kid?”. He stopped at that. His smile became a bit more fake as he replied “Naaaah it’s not the Kuzunoha way… at least not my branches. Too complicated ya know?”. He then looked away from Bazett’s scrutinizing eyes and said “Come on, let’s just enjoy the ride… once we get there, I doubt we’ll be able to rest. I got their location and we’re heading straight there”. Bazett simply nodded and relaxed. He meanwhile recalled Amelia and put his comp back in the case. Then he slept.. And talked to Charon about the woman he just met. 

 

“Hey… Kuzunoha. Wake up. Hey.” he heard, waking up and saying “Uhhhhh… are we…?” and looked at the blurry image of Bazett, who replied “Soon. We have 5 minutes”. Yawning, he sat up and reached into his pocket. He pulled out an energy tablet and took it. Then he stood and said “Alright then. Let’s get this over with”. Standing, he opened the Comp and checked the local lines. The program affirmed the leylines were rich. Smirking, he stood and said “Let’s go. I’ll summon some phantasmals as we get closer… also, careful. They’re loyal to me so they aren’t gonna take orders… though they will converse and are willing to strategize with you”. Nodding, Bazett said “I understand… that’s how command spells work”. “Oh…? Speaking from experience?” he asked as he stepped off the train with Bazett who frowned at him and said “.... Maybe. I won’t divulge Clock Tower secrets”. Chuckling, he responded “Jus’ like I won’t rat out Kuzunoha secrets… glad we understand each other”. As they walked, Bazett asked “So be honest. How do things look?”. “Bout 500 dudes, 100 magus’, and 40 dark summoners… depend’in on how far along they are, we may also be facing stray phantasmals”. Eyebrow raised, Bazett asked “Stray phantasmals?”. Nodding, he replied “See, the ‘Field’ spell, by creating a prana-rich environment, allows for phantasmals to cross to our world easily. The stronger the field the stronger the phantasmals… if I had ta guess, we’ll probably be deal’in with strong phantasmals, so be ready. These things in numbers can fight servants”. Nodding, Bazett said “Luckily, I’m well equipped for such fights. Let’s go”. 

 

It took them four hours to drive there. An agent for the Clock Tower arranged for them to receive a car upon arrival in town. As such their day long walk was cut down to just 4 hours to his delight. As they approached he pulled out his comp from the backseat, transitioning there. Activating it, he stated “Bazett. I’m activating my own Field. You remember the Geas, no?”. With her nod, he began to chant, one of two he was ever properly taught “From mount Fuji heights, to the abyssal depths of Tartarus, I summon Elysium!”. He felt the spell take effect. A ring of light extended outwards and vanished into the horizon. He felt the air fill with prana and his magic circuits hummed in pleasure. He selected three phantasmals for this job as he didn’t have any spare magnetite for the stronger ones; the voodoo spirit of death Ghede, the hawaiian squid goddess Kanaloa, and the shaman of light Kresnik would do. Ghede looked like a well-dressed Englishman with black skin tight to the bones and a cane. Kanaloa was simply a tattooed giant squid. Finally, Kresnik was an Irish man wearing a white naval coat and white clothes wielding a white sword. None of them fully materialized, remaining in spirit form, but they kept pace with the car. “We’re going in rough” Bazett stated. Eyes wide, he asked “What?”. Then he got his answer as the car crashed through the front gates. He screamed in fear and shock. 

 

The battle began immediately. Bazett ditched the car basically immediately and ran into the compound. Kanaloa rescued him by tearing the door off and flinging him out into the arms of Kresnik who put him on his feet. “Master. Bazett is charging the main force. Shall we assist?” his Kresnik asked him. “Nah Lawrence. She can handle herself… instead, let’s circle round and find the main man runn’in this show, kay”. Lawrence nodded, pulling a sword out, and running with him. He slung his Comp over his shoulder, putting the strap over his head, and pulled out an elaborate longsword handle. His arms' magical circuits lit up as he chanted “Forged in heaven’s light, bathed in the darkest circle, take form Kusanagi!”. Instantly a blade of pure green prana formed. It was small at the moment, no longer than half a foot. However as a few summoners rounded a corner, yelling “You’re not getting away with this! Come, demons!” and summoned six large headed demons in chef’s clothing. Kresnik jumped behind him as suddenly the sword extended to 10 feet long, slashing in a wide arc. “G-grah!” the summoners yelled, bisected themselves along with their phantasmals. He continued running, saying “Rosemary, read their movement! Sam, scout ahead for the ritual site! Lawrence… you do you bud!”. “Yes master!” all of them yelled, spirit forming except Kresnik who kept pace with him, its sword out now. As he fought through the compound, Kanaloa would inform him of upcoming ambushes and he would use the unique properties of his Kusanagi to reverse the ambush. However, suddenly, he heard from Sam “Northwest master. Take the next right and follow the path!”. Nodding, he went down it. A trio of summoners waited, forming a small circle. In front six magus with open books stood, yelling “That’s far enough Kuzunoha! Just die!”. Balls of wind, fire, and ice formed. Appearing, Kresnik brandished his sword and it pulsed with psychic energy, the wave of which launched the elemental balls astray. He unslung his Comp and closed it off, activating the rifle function. Aiming, he fired, tagging the first in the head. “Shit! Defensive-” one began but was cut off as his head was torn off by Kanaloa who materialized above. “D-dammit!” the third yelled, backing up and then screaming in agony as he fell into an orb of darkness that vanished a second later, leaving no trace. “Sh-shit! Summon it, hurry!” one of the summoners yelled. The circle glowed and a phantasmal appeared.

 

A dragon came from the circle and looked at each of the summoners. “V-vritra! It worked! We’re saved!” One cried out, to which Vritra stated “I do not submit to the weak. I devour them” and with a quick motion devoured the summoners head. “S-shit! Run!” another yelled, both running. Vritra considered them and then him, saying “You… you are strong, like me… but not my summoner… so I will kill you, and then them!”. “Back fiend!” Kresnik yelled and pointed his sword at Vritra, firing a stream of flame from it. “Hmph” Vritra huffed, opening its mouth and firing a blue bolt of lightning that collided with the stream and both created a small explosion. Rosemary attempted to grab Vritra, but he simply flew away, turning to attack. Sam came from the shadows, raising a hand and forming a dark orb in Vritra’s path as it breathed another bolt of blue lightning. The orb absorbed the lightning and then vanished. He aimed and fired, shearing off scales. “He’s not invincible! Just be smart with your attacks!” he yelled, aiming for another shot and firing. This time he hit the neck, shearing off more. Turning to him, it yelled “You’re annoying! Die!” and breathed another bolt. Kresnik himself sent a stream of fire to counteract him. Kanaloa this time flailed its tentacles at Vritra, a few getting glancing blows, but like before it flew out of range of them. Then Sam smirked, saying “War is often decided before it begins… Sun Tzu I believe. Wise words for you friend… are about to fall”. Then suddenly a purple aura surrounded him and Vritra, followed by Vritra rapidly falling. He switched to his sword, aimed, and had it extend to its maximum range of 50 feet. The sword pierced Vritra’s throat, making it cry out “Gaaaaah! What sorcery is this!? How can a mortal- no! A magic sword! How!?”. Smirking, he stated “Never underestimate a Kuzunoha”. Retracting it, Vritra landed on the ground and then began to dissipate. As his Comp absorb it, he smirked and said “4k units of magnetite? Daaaaamn… you were pretty lucrative. If only I came across more…”. Looking at him, Sam stated “Master. The ritual is ahead… it’s well underway”. Rosemary chimed in “Bazett is enroute. She is currently finishing up the remnants of the main force”. Nodding at Rosemary he said “Then let’s head there. Thanks team”. 

 

As he stalked the edges of the ritual site he knew it was bad. There were many Fields active. As such, the prana was much higher than any one… in fact, he was fairly confident he could summon his strongest phantasmal and use the magnetite from the last fight to maintain one of his current phantasmals for an hour. However he didn’t need power, he needed coverage. He counted eight summoners and twenty magus’. That, on top of the many, many regular people there. Frowning, he considered his options before saying “Rosemary, Sam… you two positions to get the right half. Lawrence, on me. We’re going to immediately eliminate the left half”. Frowning, Lawrence stated “This plan is reckless master… are you certain?”. Nodding, he stated “I could probably use Metatron to wipe them out, sure… but I need coverage, not power. Doing it like this accomplishes that… is there an issue?”. Nodding, Lawrence stated “If Bazett is caught in our combined assault, her chances of survival are low”. Frowning, he hesitated, then said “Let’s do it anyway… Rosemary, telepathic communication if she gets too close so I can make the order to call it off”. Rosemary and Sam moved into position while he and Lawrence began to walk. ‘Master… the magus approaches. We have 3 minutes’ Rosemary communicated to which he said “Understood… then… attack!”. He extended Kusanagi to it’s full length while Kresnik fired the fire stream and made sure to sweep it so the two forces would meet in the middle. Rosemary appeared some distance away and with all tentacles on the ground facing towards the ritual while Sam appeared on a rooftop and pointing his cane down at the ritual. Instantly, from the two phantasmals, ice began to creep outwards at an alarming rate. Many of the regular humans were devoured instantly and the magus were only able to stall… but they stalled long enough as several summoners fled into the main ritual circle, which somehow protected them. 

 

“Damn… squirrely bastards aren’t ya?” he commented, approaching “No matter. I’ll cut you down here and end Phantom’s plans”. Laughing, one summoner exclaimed “Oh really!? You can’t stop us! We will succeed! Summon them!”. The other summoners pulled out laptops and typed in commands, a pair of phantasmals. One was a greek warrior using snakes as legs and feet and having a rooster's head holding a branch and golden shield. The other was a mass of dirt and grass given life with a single eyeball and gaping maw. Instantly the eye glowed purple and the ice stopped encroaching. Turning, the rooster headed greek waved its branch and a wall of ice rose, saying “Bcaw! We shall protect the ritual! Bcaw! For our masters!”. The other hummed, saying “For… Masters…”. The rooster headed individual then turned to Rosemary and raised its branch. Instantly, Rosemary was replaced by a mirror containing a reflection of her, who screamed “Wh-what is this… this magic…!?”. “My power! Bcaw! I cannot be defeated! Bcaw!” the rooster declared as the soil individual turned, and its eye shone at Sam. Sam attempted to turn to run but stopped cold, saying “D-dammit… using… bind on a… spirit”. Humming, the dragon then turned to him and Lawrence. “Wow… this is bad…” he stated as Lawrence added “Indeed… still we must fight and win. Losing is not an option”. Laughing dryly, he stated “Ain’t that right… Still, we’ve got a job, Lawrence” and rushed with him. “Bcaw! A mistake! A mistake! Bcaw! You shall pay! You shall pay!” the rooster phantasmal cried, rushing forward itself. It’s branch began to glow but seeing the incoming attack he pulled out a tag and held it in front of him, yelling “Mamoru!”. His circuits fed prana into the tag and it glowed brightly at a silvery beam flew at him at imperceptible speeds but his defensive tag absorbed the spell and turned into a mirror. Smirking, he stated “Nice try! You’re dealing with Kuzunoha Kyouji however! Such tricks…. Won’t work!” and extended his sword to maximum length and slashed left to right. Like with the magus and humans, the rooster soldier was bisected at the torso, crying out in pain before dissipating. However, the worm simply dug into the earth and avoided it. However Lawrence landed by the hole, put his sword in, and yelled “Die demon!” before pumping fire into the hole… only to have said fire erupt outward, sending Lawrence flying. “M-master! It’s immune to magic! Beware!” Rosemary cried, still slamming against the mirror pane. However he pulled out his gun and ran for an elevated area, saying “Understood! Lawrence, are-” but was interrupted as the snake deity rose in front of him and beared down to attack. “Shit!” he cried, trying to aim but he knew it was pointless. The enemy had got the jump on him. Then, to him at least, a miracle happened. Bazett, appearing from the periphery as a blur, shoved him aside and then turned and grabbed the edges of the creature's maw. “McRemitz! Careful thats-” but stopped, shocked. Bazett held the monster back and kept it from clamping its jaw on her, even if she was clearly struggling. Shaking out of his shock he aimed and fired several times. Shrieking it moved away or tried to… but then Sam and Lawrence appeared behind it and stabbed into it, Sam saying “No no, not after what you did to me loute!” and Lawrence exclaiming “Die, foul monster! Begone from this world!”. With a final cry, the creature dissipated as both channeled their power into the beast itself.

 

Turning quickly Bazett raised a foot and slammed down on the circle. “Noooo!” one of the summoners cried “Our work! You can’t!”. Panting he slowly stood, saying “Man… thanks for the save. I was almost a goner…”. “Damn you Kuzunoha! Do you know what you’ve done!?” one yelled, but then smirked “You’ve invoked his wrath! Our god will descend and kill you!”. Raising an eyebrow, Bazett looked at him and asked “Should we be concerned?”. Nodding, he stated “Yeah…. Yeah, I don’t like this. Be ready for battle” and then looked at his now recovered phantasmals, saying “Sorry but I need something stronger”. Nodding, Sam stated “Of course… should you desire a guide through death, call me”. Then all of them vanished into his Comp. Cycling through, he settled on his strongest phantasmal and then used all his magnetite to summon something to support them. Instantly, an angel appeared but it looked completely like a robot. The only human features of it were its appearance, that it wore clothing, and its blonde hair growing from its robotic scalp. Next to him a tree grew and from it a beautiful, if nude, woman emerged. “So you summon me again master… let me guess. Do you need defensive magic?”. Nodding, he responded “Yeah. Dunno what’s com’in, but I almost got suckered before… not gonna get that again”. The woman laughed, saying “Of course. I’ll provide the support… the woman over there. Is she an ally?”. He nodded and the woman bowed to Bazett, saying “Greetings. I am Jose, a Daphne of the Tree tribe”. The angel turned, giving a polite bow mid-air, saying “I am Nigel of the Metatron Tribe. A pleasure, milady” with a tone implying politeness. “Huh… fascinating. You summon Phantasmals so easily… and you’re maintaining them?”. Shaking his head, he responded “If it weren’t for my field provid’in me with plenty of prana, I’d be hard pressed ta summon just one of tha three from before… no, I need extra resources for that guy… Daphne though I could and sometimes do. She’s kinda reliable like that”. Then they heard a smooth voice say “I’m sorry… but that reputation will need to come to an end”. 

 

From the shadows a hispanic man in colorful business clothes emerged. His jacket was a polka-dot pattern using pink and green while his pants were striped and blue and yellow. His shirt worn under the open jacket was a vibrant red with a purple skull on it. “Heh… so you’re the one they sent… ‘Eyes of Phantom’... I knew my sources were right” he stated to which the man responded “Indeed. I am overseeing this project personally… to ensure you’d be here”. Eyebrow raised, he asked “Me…? Wait, is this a trap?”. Shaking his head, the man stated “No, no… just that if my own desires… and theirs… are to be realized, I need to keep you here”. Frowning, Bazett stated “I see… so you set up this elaborate ploy to merely divert this particular kuzunoha here… and the false plot was perfect to do so hmmm? Not something that can-” but she was interrupted as the man stated “Oh no this was a legitimate plan for a while… it’s simply that the chance of success hinges on perfect execution. I was coming here already to oversee the final stages myself… but you’ve seen to that for me. This giant will yet sleep… and you are within my reach. All our goals are met”. Frowning, he stated “McRemitz-san. Run”. Looking at him, she began to ask “I beg your pardon. I can handle-” but he interrupted, saying “Don’t tell me you can’t see it. That is no man. At least, not anymore”. Eyes wide, Bazett looked at the man who with a smirk laughed and said “Keen eye… you are not the Summoner for nothing. Still… you are woefully short. I am neither man nor phantasmal… truthfully, I am a Pseudo-phantasmal”. Eyes glaring, Bazett asked “What…? Who then? Who commands-” but was stopped as the man stated “No one you’d know. Neither of you. My master is unimportant to this… for now, I will fight you. Either eternally or as the victor. Either circumstance works for me”. Frowning, Bazett readied to fight as he stated “McRemitz-san… Please. Run away. We-” but was interrupted as Bazett stated “I won’t run. That’s not an option, so don’t even ask”. Frowning deeply, he sighed and said “Understood… then, please. Be extremely careful… if I had to guess, he’s not your average phantasmal”. 

 

“Oh… how right you are, summoner” the man said as he morphed. His jacket became a long sprawling coat of the same design while the shirt transmogrified into obsidian-looking skin. The head became a black grinning skull with two red sclera with yellow coloring and pink pupils. Forming a crown, diamonds were set on the top of the skull, connected by a golden filigree. Forming from nothing multiple hunks of obsidian formed and finally the pants became skin as well. The figure had an overall skeletal appearance. “Wh-what… what kind of Pseudo-phantasmal…?” Bazett began but he stated “Those chunks… they aren’t those are they…? I only recently read a study about ruins related to you… but to think one of you’d appear…”. The skull smirked and said “Heheheheh… yes, young one… I am of the Tezcatlipoca race, belonging to the Zealot tribe of the Kishin clan”. The hunks them moved to encircle the man, who then said “However… you all may refer to me as Fantasma”. Glaring, he asked “What unfortunate soul did you consume to gain that body huh? You aren’t even willing to take on the life you stole?”. Laughing, Fantasma stated “Would you take on the life of an ant after crushing it? Do you stand in wheat fields once you have reaped? Life begets life. Life steals from life. It is the way of life. It is the will of the gods… and so that will shall be enacted. I do not care for your moralizing”. “How can you call that moralizing! We aren’t ants or wheat! You-” but was interrupted as Fantasma asked “I suppose you are right… you are more like pets. Even so, does my question change?”. Nodding, Bazett said “Yes… maybe not anymore but there are tales of humans in the past that did. Cu chulainn most notably”. Frowning, Fantasma sighed, saying “An upstart. However, you did provide a valid argument… so I shall respond. Even if I did… who would it help? One person? My work now helps the world. The Phantom Society will guide you humans to prosperity and everlasting harmony. For that, I would sacrifice a thousand humans with nary a thought. Now, either step aside and let me capture the summoner, or prepare for battle… My goal is within my sight. It shan’t escape”. Then the obsidian hunks centers became clear, revealing their true form; obsidian mirrors. Fantasma then sat as a throne of obsidian formed from nothing. “Bazett. Last chance… if you run for it, you can warn them…” he stated, to which Bazett stated “I won’t… I have to see this through”. Sighing, he then requested “Fine… however, if things take a turn… take my Comp and run. No matter what, the Comp cannot fall into their hands. Understood? If you don’t… I’ll make it official”. Glaring at him but nodding, Bazett said “I don’t understand… but fine. I will do so but only because… you make it sound like them getting it is a bad thing”. Smirking, he replied “Not quite but… well… Do you want ‘em to have another Comp? One with the big guy there?”. Bazett shook her head, replying “I’d rather not… Nigel seems powerful”. Smiling, he replied “Yeah. He is… speaking of… Nigel sucker punch him would-” but was cut off as the man stated “No, no… none of that now” and suddenly Nigel was sent flying. 

 

Eyes wide, he raised his gun to attack and as he did a mirror floated to intercept rapidly. Bazett ran right at Fantasma and attempted to punch through the mirror. However, as her fist came close the runes floating around her arms dissipated. “What!?” Bazzet said in shock right as her fist slammed into the mirror. Not even cracks appeared as Fantasma laughed, saying “Oh humans… so reliant on, what was it called? Magecraft? Learn your place” before the mirror surged forward with incredible force, sending Bazett flying. Pulling out Kusanagi, he extended it right at Fantasma but another mirror blocked it, but Fantasma commented “Oh-ho? Found magecraft to equal mine? Impressive human… but how does it truly add up?”. Then the mirror began to glow. Daphne however shook her branches and something impacted right in front of him and then the mirror cracked. Frowning, Fantasma commented “Hmph… relying on others… a common trait of your kind. Akin to ants… though as the woman pointed out, an ill comparison… perhaps monkeys?”. Growling, he responded “We’re not monkeys! We’re humans! Not animals!” and pulled a tag out, saying “Kogeki”. Instantly, the tag flew forward and slammed into the mirror that moved to replace the cracked one. Instantly, it was engulfed in flames but did little more than blacken the mirror. Frowning, Fantasma stated “Tsk… more magecraft… wait, this taste… it isn’t… what magecraft are you using, mortal?”. Smirking, he said “Guess. Maybe you’ll be right” and raised his gun, firing again. A new mirror blocked his shot, making it ricochet away. Bazett then suddenly dove down from above, slamming her heel into it. Unlike before, the magecract stayed and the total strength of her strike shattered the mirror. “What!?” Fantasma growled, then gestured outward with a hand, saying “Latigo del carcelero”. Instantly, from a mirror, a smoky tendril snaked out and attempted to grab Bazett. At that moment Nigel appeared as if from nowhere, grabbing Bazett’s arm and pulling her gently behind him. With the other hand, Nigel fired a 3 ft. radius beam directly at Fantasma. Bazett, looking flustered, stated “I could’ve avoided-” but stopped as the beam eliminated the shadowy tendrils and melted through the obsidian mirror and smashed into a hexagonal-patterned barrier that shimmered into view upon being hit. Clicking his tongue, Fantasma stated “Well, well… a voice of god actually descends? Whatever for, one of the Metatron race?”. Glaring, Nigel responded “None of your business, old one. My lord’s intentions are not yours to decipher… Master, we must move swiftly. He gains power yet”. Sighing, Fantasma retorted “Damn you… sniffed out my ploy already?”. 

 

“Wh-what…?” he began as Daphne stated “I thought something was up! Yeah, yeah… the leyline is turn’in this way!”. Blinking, Bazett asked “What leyline…?”. Daphne stated “There’s an old line go’in from…. Au-strall-leeya? Ta tokyo then Amami City! He’s alter’in the flow though, inching it closer to here!”. “Hmph… well then. No need to hold back… Kiddos! We’re playing a game! The leyline will begin to empower me in 5 minutes! You have 5 minutes to defeat me! The only rules are no one outside of us will interfere! If you surrender before then… I’ll spare you. Yeah, and tell ya what… if ya manage to impress me, or annoy me, I’ll grant you a prize on your way out. Understood? If you can’t vocally surrender… well… too bad” Fantasma stated as two more mirrors materialized “Now, let the games begin!”. “Damn you! Making a game out of this! Die heathen!” Nigel yelled, firing another laser. This time, while it did not melt, the obsidian mirror that blocked the attack exploded. A barrier bounced the shrapnel off but he smirked, saying “An attack of absolution eh…? Then I shall counter!” and a mirror moved in front of him. “N-no! Watch out!” Daphne yelled, summoning another leaf barrier in front of Nigel right as Fantasma finished chanting “El precio de la sangre padago, quema la vida de mi enemigo!”. From the mirror a beam of concentrated white fire poured out. It slammed into the leaves and split around it like a great river might around a great rock. The stray shots flew towards the nearby mountain range and created visible explosions as each hit. “Wh-what power!” Bazett exclaimed, staring at them as he responded “I know! So pay attention!” and fired another shot, this time aiming past the mirror while it was busy. However, the barrier around him shone and blocked the attack. “Tsk… not strong enough… damn… gonna have to do that huh….?” he commented, pondering if he should. Looking at Bazett, he watched as she ran at the mirror, unleashing a series of punches and kicks after the attack had fizzled off. At first at an impressive speed, then after 30 seconds and shattering it, being very slow. Backing off, Bazett stated “Gah! This is annoying! Having to replace these every time!”. 

 

Smirking, Fantasma stated “Of course. Now that I realize you are a close-combat mage rather than a distance fighter, it was a simple matter of recalibrating my mirrors to shave off your magecraft… I’ll admit, it’s impressive that yours is so…. ‘Resilient’ against it… but ultimately, vulnerable”. Nigel, having had time to gather mana, fired this time and a pair of beams at Fantasma, who defended with a pair of mirrors. They exploded as well, with Fantasma stating “Oh-ho! You defeated my defenders, without leaving me time to remake them! However… you missed my ploy!”. He however produced a tag, throwing it to Bazett and saying “Mamoru!”. Daphne produced a wide-range leaf barrier that was 20 ft. long in front of them and 20 ft. tall. Nigel had to duck to get behind it. Fantasma finished chanting by the time his tag had activated to form a defensive barrier around Bazett, who commented “What!?”. “Volar a mis secuaces, oscuras y brillantes, ensartarse y revelar su dificil situacion!” Fantasma finished chanting and suddenly every broken piece of obsidian rose, then surged forth. Cutting through the barrier, Daphne screamed as multiple shards sank into her, filling her with holes. He curled up himself, but a few still dug into him. His leg, arm, right rib, and his stomach. He vomited blood from the pain. Nigel was battered and dinged but not defeated. “Master!” Nigel cried, moving and blocking a new wave. Bazett moved to defend herself but was shocked as the barrier absorbed the full brunt of both waves before collapsing. “What… What was that magecraft? I thought you said you-” Bazett began but then stared as he laid on the ground, breathing heavily. Growling, he stated “N-not my… magecraft….” and moved to stand as Nigel stated “Master… you mustn’t… you are-” but he interrupted, saying “Nigel… Can you beat his barrier…?”. Nigel, hesitating, stated “W-with time master-” and he responded “Time we… don’t have… tsk… dammit…” and then looked at Bazett, saying “Remember… our deal…?”. “Y-yes but-” and then blinked as she suddenly, reactively, caught the Comp. 

 

Nigel vanished as he held Kusanagi, saying “Take that… run…. Return it to… Kuzunoha. I as… the Summoner… charge you with the… d-duty of… returning the Summoner’s Code… to them…”. Turning to Fantasma, he began to stumble as Nigel dissipated. “W-wait! I’m uninvolved! Why-” but he cut her off, saying “The… Overseer and… Priestess… are obligated by Geas… to retrieve the Summoner’s code… immediately upon their death…. By any means… necessary… If we die now… they get to…. Run wild without restriction… as you can see… The Clock Tower wouldn’t be able to defeat them easily… It’d be….” and she finished, saying “It’d be a costly war… that could be mitigated with your existence… you’re using my duty against me so I don’t steal this aren’t you?”. Nodding, he stated “I guessed from the start… you were going to find a way… you’re an enforcer… your kind are crafty…” and then he vomited more blood, but continued saying “However… you could’ve abandoned me… yet you didn’t. You have a sense of duty… to Clock Tower… to yourself. So I give you this duty... “ and then took Kusanagi into both hands, funneling his prana into it, extending its base range to 1 foot as Bazett silently considered his words. “What makes you think you’ll just leave?” Fantasma asked, extending a hand and saying “Fuego de destruccion”. As a ball of fire formed, he quickly extended his Kusanagi to it’s new maximum range of 60 ft., severing all prana within, creating a series of small explosions around the spell Fanatsma had been preparing. However, once the smoke cleared, Fantasma’s clothing was only a little singed, though the barrier was gone. “It’s…!” Bazett began but then stopped, frowning but with a sigh saying “Understood…. I will do this, Kuzunoha. It would be ill-advised to allow the Kuzunoha to fall”. Smiling, he said “Th-thanks…. Oh! Tell Ginko… I like Inaruna Sake… she’ll… she’ll understand…”. Bazett ran off into the distance. “You’re not getting away with that Comp!” Fantasma cried, holding a hand out and saying “El precio de la sangre-” but was interrupted as he slashed at the hand, cutting through a barrier that appeared and cutting the hand and forming spell in half. “G-GRAAAH!” Fantasma cried, holding his hand, then yelled at him “B-Bastard!! How!?”. Smirking, he simply stated “My Kusanagi… when held with both hands… can cut anything…. I don’t think…. It can kill you… but it will stall you… just long enough… that she’ll be on a train out of here…. Now then, bastard… let’s dance”. He then charged, sword in his hands, and made a new slash. However, Fantasma leapt over the slash and ran at him, almost a blur. 

 

He instinctively leapt back. Instead of a pierced heart, his chest now had a hole. He could feel wind where there shouldn’t be any. He landed on his feet, moving and even with his blurry vision saw the next attack coming, based on experience. He moved the blade to block which made Fantasma leap away. “Grrrr… you’re annoying, human! Get out of my way!” Fantasma yelled, dark energy seeping out of his fingertips forming sharp nails. He then attempted to claw at him at dizzying speeds but he used his body’s experience to deflect two slashes and then retaliated. “Tsk!” Fantasma yelled out, then continued his assault. He blocked and deflected… but knew it was a matter of time. For two minutes he lasted until the nails vanished suddenly and he slashed empty air. Then he felt the prior hole be completed as Fantasma punched through his back, bones and all, and pushed his heart out. “I win” Fantasma growled ferally, him breathing to reply. Then he chided himself mentally. He forgot, he lacked a heart to use that breath… and he was in too much pain to speak. Only to fall forward. “Damn you… that woman is fast. Even were I to chase… tsk. You gave her enough of a head start” Fantasma ranted as a new voice yelled “Sir! The woman! Shes-”. “I know!” Fantasma yelled “Bah, just let her go. We got what we wanted; the Summoner is dead… the Kuzunoha are vulnerable. Prepare to move”. As his life faded, he only regretted that he couldn’t warn his comrades, Rei Reiho and Madam Ginko about the danger of Fantasma… he only hoped that Bazett would. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

The Disappearance of Hachi



Arata

 

He sat with Hitomi in silence. Neither dared to speak in fear of awakening Nemissa. She had receded deep into Hitomi’s soul, effectively relinquishing control… of course, Hitomi had no idea what to do. She could control her powers easily as it turned out… all except the power they needed to leave. Further, each movement or sentence by Hitomi caused Nemissa to stir. Hitomi, wanting to enjoy control of her body, opted to sit in silence. Then she laid back. He emulated this, as he had nothing better to do. Without a way to return to reality, they were stuck in this digital landscape until Hitomi was ready to give control back to Nemissa. Then, suddenly, Hitomi spoke, saying “Well… that’s been long enough, no?”. Looking, he asked “What?”. “I think she’s sulked long enough… I understand that she’s sad about her amnesia” Hitomi stated “However, we do have others to worry about… and if that was indication, hope isn’t lost… after all, he sounded like just one part… there have to be others, no?”. Then suddenly, Nemissa took over, saying “Hitomi, you’re a genius! Of course that’s all I have to do! Hunt down his associates! Let’s see…. Wasn’t there a Winpe at one point?”. Nodding and sitting up as Nemissa did, he stated “We helped that guy at the airport defeat it… so there are more out there”. Smiling like she had won grand prize at a fair, Nemissa leapt to her feet and said “Then let’s hurry! Before we lose the trail!”. He stood as Nemissa grabbed his shoulder and initiated the transfer. 



Rin

 

She had noticed it first, then Shirou. Six and Lunch were dismissive but she saw the concern in Spooky’s eyes. Looking at her, she knew what he was silently asking. All she did was nod and walk out. Shirou remained behind, knowing what she was doing. As she left, Kuzunoha stated to her telepathically “A master has been detected. Shall we engage?”. She frowned deeply, asking “Their identity?”. “Uncertain… no one we recognize” Kuzunoha replied “Foreigner for sure though- wait… he has a Comp, different make than Arata’s but unmistakably magical!”. She deepened her frown and asked “What is he doing?”. “He’s… hunting I- Hachi! He’s going after Hachi!” Kuzunoha stated “Your orders, master!?”. Gritting her teeth, she replied “Buy him time to flee”. She pulled out a gem, whispering “Conatradh Shirou ‘Unknown enemy seeking Hachi for unknown purposes, please assist’” followed by infusing it with some prana and dropping it. The gem rolled along the ground towards her intended recipient; Shirou Emiya. She wanted him to alert them of danger and usher them to safety; All except Tatsuya. Even if his arm was injured he was powerful since he was a user of the Third Magic, to such a degree that he was capable of utilizing a servant as though it were his own soul… or perhaps he and the servant were one in the same? She wasn’t sure. Thinking about Tatsuya Suou confused her. It was undeniable he was utilizing True Magic, the Third Magic specifically. However… how he was to achieve the effect he did, summoning an actual god to do battle for him, was unknown to her. With such power, even with an injured arm, he’d be a great asset. “Master, problem… the enemy master… is also a Summoner, like Arata” Kuzunoha relayed “He has summoned a pack of metal hounds with green fire for heads”. Frowning deeper yet, Rin responded “Don’t engage the summoner directly. Find Hachi and try to evacuate… do what you need to in order to get out”. There was no response for several seconds as her footsteps echoed throughout the building until Kuzunoha asked “Does that include deploying my noble phantasm?”. Hesitating, Rin stated “Avoid it if you can but… yes. I’d rather not risk Hachi’s life”. She then felt Kuzunoha leave her side. She sighed, muttering “I need to stop being so soft…”.

 

Tatsuya

 

He left the room with Shirou. Shirou had tagged him and then said “Excuse us, I need to ask Suou-san something”. Once they were down the corridor, he began with “So, whatcha need me for? Curious ‘bout my persona?”. Blinking, Shirou said “Not really… I mean, a bit, but not right now. There’s a situation. One of our team is missing”. “So? Why’s that my business? Maybe he went home” he replied, but Shirou retorted immediately with “Didn’t you notice how no one but Rin noticed?  With all that’s going on, we’re on edge… yet we let this slip by”. He frowned now, realizing the implication. They’d been messed with mentally. “Alright then Emiya. Ya have my attention… who’s the missing kid?” he responded. “He goes by the codename Hachi. Wears a lot of yellow and black… has light brown eyes” Emiya responded, showing an image “He was last with Rin”. Nodding, he took it and said “Understood. I’ll go scouting… I assume you are too?”. After Emiya nodded, he said “Then let’s meet… at… I know, the Gourmaden. You guys seem ta head there a lot”. Nodding, Emiya said “Sure. Just be careful… they got a summoner that’s controlling a servant”. Frowning, he asked “What are those?”. Sighing, Emiya stated “Servants are powerful familiars while summoners summon phantasmals. The latter are creatures too magical to exist in the human world”. Familiars… he’d heard that term before he thought. However he couldn’t waste anymore time so he said “Understood. I’ll be careful. You take care too yeah?” then walked away. Once he was sure he was out of earshot he pulled out his cell and called his brother. It was time to call the calvary in, saying “Hey. It’s time… just took down an avatar… and from what I’ve seen, there’s more of ‘em. I’ve walked into a veritable den of his children”. “Understood… not all of us can respond immediately but some of us will be able to head out immediately. Let me begin the calls… meet the first arrivals in a few hours”. The call hung up and he sighed as he continued, saying “Now then… time ta save Hachi” and began running. 



Arata

 

As they appeared he saw all of them looking concerned. “Everything… alright?” Spooky asked. Frowning, Nemissa stated “Don’t pull the act. It’s not a good look. Ask what ya wanna”. Sighing, Spooky asked “Then… What's the plan? That thing was hard. We threw everything and barely survived. What’s next?”. Frowning deeply, Nemissa said “I get it. It’s dangerous… so maybe-” and then Six said “Don’t even with the ‘Let me handle it alone’ crap. We’re in as deep as you. If it’s not this, then it’s the society…. So what’s the plan?” Staring at Six, Nemissa smirked, stating “Well, well the boy grew some balls… good. Then… we know now that encountering them gives me some power… So, we have that at least… Also, is it just me or do all of these… ‘Monsters’ seem deeply tied with computers?”. Speaking up, Lunch stated “Well… let’s see… maybe it’s cause of this ‘Manitou’ network? I mean… we’re deal’in with someth’in that is fantastical right? Maybe this network is warp’in ‘em”. Frowning, he stated “I can ask Victor about it… let’s grab a piece of Moowis on our way out. It’ll help him”. Looking at him, Spooky asked “Victor…?”. Nodding, he stated “Yeah. Guy that unlocked my Comp and had me do the favor at the warehouse… he’s also the owner of the Gourmaden”. Humming, Spooky responded “Got it. Then… let’s go”. As they began to leave, Six suddenly asked “Hey….. where’s Hachi?”. Eyes wide, he looked around but didn’t see him. In fact he didn’t see Shirou or Tatsuya either. “Where… did they all go? It’s not just Hachi but also Emiya-san and Suou-san”. Frowning, Spooky pulled out a cell and made a call, saying “Hachi, stat-” then eyes wide he said “Sanagi, summon them now! Hachi is under attack!”. Nodding, he pulled out his comp, saying “Sorry guys… we got more work to do”.



Rin

 

She ran forward. Her servant ran next to her, looking equally distressed. They had both felt it extend. Some sort of reality marble was about to be invoked. Though she wasn’t sure if it actually was. Whatever that Moowis thing used earlier, it was similar but not quite… and like that, this felt not quite like a reality marble but something sort of like it. “Master” Kuzunoha stated “I’ve scanned the spell… I believe it is not inherently harmful”. Frowning, before she could ask Kuzunoha they continued “All it is doing is increasing the amount of latent mana in the area. However… based on past experience there is a dangerous side effect”. She sighed, looking away and said “Dammit… what is it?”. “Firstly, any spells used will be greater, potentially leading to unintended consequences…” Kuzunoha responded, then sighed and said “On the other hand… more ‘phantasmals’ might appear. So we are on a time limit… if any manage to get to Hachi first-” and she finished with “He’s dead. He’s a normal human and even if he’s armed, it’s unlikely he’ll get lucky and have only pixies one at a time appear… dammit. We need to hurry!”. Nodding, Kuzunoha suggested “Master… I could go ahead…” but she shook her head, saying “If I die, you’ll vanish leaving him abandoned… so we have to stick together so you can defend me against other servants, if any show up…” with Kuzunoha adding “As well as phantasmals… some of the ones from before were clearly stronger than you… as such I am required irregardless… a terrible conundrum”. Rin didn’t respond… as her gem showed it pointing up and she was down the corridor from the elevator. From her memory, it led to the room they had used before. “C’mon! We’re going up!” she yelled and ran. Kuzunoha dutifully followed her but then said “Master, I sense a-”



Tatsuya

 

As he walked he sensed it. A sort of marked area of magic. He had encountered a few but this one was… different. It was a lot like the one that appeared around Sumaru City in both timelines. “Yet… the effect is different… there’s this stuff increas’in… guess this is somethin’ important ta summoners” he mused as he walked through. He approached the outside and sniffed. He picked up on a few things immediately. First, there were only three humans inside, two of which were definitely not normal. He guessed one was Rin Tohsaka, since she had vanished from the control room when Nemissa jumped into Paradigm X. The other was likely whoever was pursuing Hachi. He guessed that between them… the pursuer was likely the more powerful one. Further, he had a squad of 5 demons with him… and something similar to that ‘Servant’ with him… though it broke off and headed elsewhere. Further he knew where Hachi was, that was the important bit. He channeled Apollo into his legs and leapt, then channeled Apollo and his fire into his arms. With that strength he punched into the walls and tore them open before creating an explosion behind him to send him forward. Skidding to a stop inside, Apollo receded inward as he said “Heh… there we go. Now… let’s get Hachi shall we?” and began to walk deeper in. He could see the room ahead. Summoning Apollo he scowled at the sight of who waited for him. “You again… sheesh… I thought we’d meet again but not this soon” he stated, having Apollo launch a beam of pure nuclear fire. Instantly a snake woman appeared and attempted to deflect the attack with ice magic but Apollo’s blue flame melted through and slammed into the snake woman. Finnegan jumped backwards around the corner as the snake woman slammed into the wall and was practically disassembled into blue particles, starting around her midsection where his attack hit. “Dammit… here I thought we’d never see each other again!” Finnegan yelled. He smirked, saying “Maybe lay off my friend and we won’t”. Finnegan, clicking his tongue, stated “Can’t. Bosses orders. No mercy this time… hey, buy me time! I’ll summon a powerful servant!”. He narrowed his eyes as more than a few appeared… something he’d never seen the kid pull off. Another of those man demons, two more of those flame-headed metal dogs, and a silver red-eyed snake with only the red eye and a horn, and a woman in a white flower-patterned dress appeared. He could tell the demon wearing a black animal hide was stronger… The dogs weren’t that strong but they could be distracting. The silver snake would be trouble but that woman demon in white would be problematic. “Buckle in Apollo… we’re in for the long haul!” he cried as the dogs rushed forward as Apollo ran forward to confront the demons. 



Arata

 

He ran quickly. As he ran Bai was with him. Nemissa flanking him, yelling “Dammit! That kid keeps getting into trouble!”. He responded “Not the time, Nemissa! He’s our coder, he gets nicked we’re done!”. “Master… he’s in that building, second floor!” Bai yelled, pointing. Frowning, he aksed “Can you get us in?”. Nodding, Bai stated “That window… no bars. Open… with a few minutes, I can get us both up!”. “Do it!” he yelled “Jessup and Otokabe are there but who knows how long they’ll be able to hold out!?”. Nodding, Bai grabbed him around the waist and leapt all the way to the open window. With a push he was thrown into the office. A minute later Nemissa landed next to him, tumbling into the wall like he did. Stepping in, Bai stated “Done. Shall we proceed?”. Nodding, he stood and said “Yeah… they’re already pulling on my magic… so they’re fighting”. Nodding, Bai opened the door and walked out with him following. Then they heard the sounds of fighting. Running, they came across it. Across the hall, he saw a certain man crouched over his Comp with a particular magic circle around it. Eyes wide, he knew what it was and he yelled “No! Stop him!” but it was too late. The circle flashed and something emerged from it. He knew immediately what had happened. Finnegan had summoned a ‘servant’ to help him with some fight… likely one of his allies that had left earlier, likely noticing what was wrong. He could only watch as Bai rushed forward to obey him but was simply too late as the figure that appeared from the circle flung itself at Bai violently. The two grappled, denting the steel under them as they pushed. Eyes wide, Bai asked in a scared voice “N-no… you!? How did… how did a mortal have the aptitude to summon YOU!?”. Smirking, the black skinned demon with red veins stated “Hahahaha! It just means my master is a good one! You too are a worthy foe, Bai Suzhen!”. Flinching, Bai demanded “How do you know my name!?”. “I am Ravana, the King of Demons!” The demon, now announcing itself as Ravana, flexed and pushed Bai deep into the floor. Looking up at him, with a sadistic smirk, the demon stated “Of course I’d know… now sorry, little summoner, but die!”. Before either could move, he heard Finnegan say “No… deal with getting the other one… I can handle them” and came out. Turning, Ravana asked “Are you certain, master?”. Nodding, Finnegan said “Yeah. They’re mine”. Laughing, Ravana simply turned, moved away, and began to pry open the door leading to Hachi. 



Rin

 

“Dammit, dammit, dammit! They really did steal my research the bastards!” Rin yelled as Kuzunoha surfed on a giant leaf, carrying her via a hastily made vine from the leaf. However something fired multiple bolts from somewhere, forcing Kuzunoha to grab the end, lifting to block the attack. However, they skid to a stop, Kuzunoha extending the small fox tail that apparated to catch her. “Wh-what!?” Rin exclaimed as she was set down. “I’m sorry master” Kuzunoha said in a low tone “However we are being hunted… being gentle is difficult”. Frowning, she responded “Then don’t! This is a servant battle, right? Then handle me roughly! So long as I’m conscious, then I can fight!”. Frowning herself, Kuzunoha grabbed the other end of the leaf and bent it to face the other hall, making it grow to block a hail of arrows, responding “Understood… apologies ahead of time, Master!” and gasped as the leaf began to wilt from where they landed. Her tail moved to forced Rin to the ground, ducking to avoid arrows. “Begone servant!” Kuzunoha yelled “Don’t you have a master to protect!? You’re being flanked!”. Then, Kuzunoha gasped as something impacted and sent her flying. Rin lashed out with a kick but it was caught. Staring at her was an orange-haired… child? Before she could react he spun and slammed her into the wall. She felt her vision blur and even reinforced there was tremendous pain surging through her body. “Yeah… jus’ sleep princess. Don’t worry, ya ain’t dy’in today but ya can’t be caus’in trouble” the figure said, pointing his arm at her and looked to what she presumed was her servant and said “Same for you missy. Stay where you are and I don’t need to poison your master”. Growling, Kuzunoha asked “Oh? Who is your master!?”. Laughing, the man asked “Who do ya think…?” she heard before she passed out. 




Tatsuya

 

It wasn’t too hard. The big man he’d fought before. He simply channeled Apollo through his legs and arms along with his fire. He dodged the first, second, and third strikes before leaping off the wall, having flame encompass his leg, and kicking that head through a wall. Then he channeled it all through his arm and cut straight through them. No problem… Then the dogs leapt from different sides at him. Apollo appeared and with a single punch that spiraled around it sent both splintering into the walls. Next was the white-dressed woman and the silver snake. The snake moved fast, almost too fast… but a feint had it make a mistake that he exploited by cutting it apart. Then a beam of his nuclear fire sent the woman spiraling into the wall. All of this occurred in a few minutes… he saw what he had heard called Bai rushed forward only to be intercepted by a massive red shadow… huh. He didn’t recall that. Then he heard the man laugh and simply tell the shadow to open the door. Before he could yell he saw Finnegan round the corner and say “With a command spell I summon you… appear and fell my enemy!”. He blinked and summoned Apollo, ready for some sort of mind control but it never came… instead a green-clothed man appeared suddenly and fired a series of crossbow bolts. Apollo surged forth a beam of blue fire that melted the bolts before they hit and forced both to dodge. The green-clothed man he noticed smelled like a ‘servant’ and moved shockingly fast. As he closed in, Apollo's fist grew in size as it zoomed at the man. Despite this they were able to immediately back step and fire a series of bolts. All of them sunk into his Apollo. That wasn’t the worst. He felt the poison in Apollo and gritted his teeth. “Damn… poison huh…?” and reached into his pocket. He took an antidote to heal it but he stopped, noticing the man had vanished. As the poison cleared his system he felt something behind him. He turned, raising his katana just in time to redirect a bolt heading for him. “Hey now… you ain’t that bad. At least more skilled than that girl and her caster servant” the man complimented to which he stated “Thanks… I’ve never met a being quite like you… we’ll see if all the hype is worth it” with a smirk. Frowning, the man stated “Man… I heard from my master about this but… it’s still unbelievable. Real use of the Third Magic… man my master has bad taste”. 



Arata

 

He fell backwards as his servant pulled him down and moved in to attack, only to have her claw deflected by Finnegans arm. She was in her naga state and attacking full force and her eyes shown purple. However it was clear that she and Finnegan fought on even ground. He would help but Finnegan, while Bai was down, had destroyed his katana and broken his gun. He was effectively weaponless. Nemissa stood to the side, holding an arm out and healing Bai Suzhen constantly that kept the stalemate in place, along with Jessups roars providing a dense barrier around Bai’s body. However it was in vain. Finnegan had created a stalemate… except he had Otokaba moving to one side of Ravana spiritually. He was planning to have him use that force to send him flying away. Then turn and use it on Finnegan which Bai could use that opening to deal a grievous injury… but as Otokaba appeared a flash of mana poured out and the doors flung open. Otokaba dissipated and returned to his comp in a flurry of leaves towards it. “Wh-what the!?” Nemissa cried out as Jessup yelled “Wh-what power!? What kinda servant is that!?”. “Master, the door is open! Shall we retrieve the human?” Ravana questioned. “Yeah. Grab him and get your chariot ready. We need to bolt. Hey, Robin Hood! Finale time!” Finnegan responded holding out a hand to them and saying “Sorry, but die! Sgrion smoc!”. He jumped behind cover expecting an attack while Jessup leapt behind Nemissa and roared to give her defense… instead a plume of smoke flew out. He coughed as suddenly he felt Bai grab him and leap out the window. “Wait! We need to-” he began to yell until he heard Bai say “I’m sorry master… but he’s lost for now… we cannot defeat them”. Gritting his teeth, Bai added as he watched Jessup retreat with Nemissa on his back “Even if that Suou character helped without issue… I cannot see him beating Ravana”. Looking ahead he saw the van waiting and the rest as well. He saw the white haired servant that assisted Tohsaka tending to said person in the back. Looking back, he sighed and said “Understood… than Bai? Make sure he gets out too… if he dies, it’s worthless…”. Bai nodded, saying “Understood, master” and vanished. “You… we failed, huh? They got Hachi?” he heard Spooky ask. Turning, he said “Y-yeah… last minute he… he summoned something strong… really strong. Pried open blast doors with no effort and defeated Otokaba as an afterthought…”. “Shit… how can we compete with that?” Six asked as Lunch, thinking, asked “Shit this is all so messed up… she said Ravana right…? Maybe some research will help…”. He simply looked at the building, only noting Nemissa’s sad stare at him. 



Tatsuya

 

“Dammit… get out of my way!” he yelled, swinging his flame-covered sword. It melted two bolts and deflected the other one and the slag from those while burning were easy to alleviate. However his foe proved slippery. Every attack was dodged, even wide ranging ones like maragidyne which launched a large fireball. “I might… need to use Nova Kaiser…” he mumbled, not liking the prospect of using it again so soon. Then he heard the man yell “Robin Hood, finale time!”. He immediately channeled Apollo into his legs and back stepped as the green-clothed man smirked and aimed his crossbow as it began to glow, yelling “It’s been fun but enough games! Yew Bow!”. Holding a hand out he fired a beam of pure blue fire but his eyes widened as the bolt simply thinned until it flew right through his hand and shaved off a part of his shoulder. Clicking their tongue, he heard Robin Hood say “Damn… burned the poison away… oh well, it still is gonna do the job!” and leapt at him. He was confused when something suddenly propelled him forward and he realized the ploy. Something had sprung from the bolt suddenly, sending him forward. Then Robin Hood kicked him right into the ground with enough force to almost make him faint. “Done, master!” he heard Robin Hood yell to which the man responded “Good! Hurry up, we’re going!”. The man stated “Sorry… but you lost” and then vanished. He started to stand but he could already smell them leaving quickly. He knew that attacking them would only hurt Hachi, the point he was there for. “Dammit… I got cocky…” he stated, angry at himself. Then he saw someone appear before him. Bai as he recalled. “Are you hurt?” Bai asked him to which he was about to answer no but Bai stated “Don’t lie… in a minute you will collapse. Let me simply take you to Nemissa for healing”. Blinking, he frowned and asked “How… Do you know?”. “Simple” Bai said, her purple eyes turning green “I have the power of clairvoyance… and I saw your response and subsequent passing out. Now… shall I?”. Frowning, he sighed and before he could answer felt himself slung over Bai’s shoulder. “H-hey!” he yelled “Wh-what-” but was interrupted as Bai responded “I’m a servant. Carrying you is no issue if that’s your concern… and if it’s masculinity, feel at ease that I am not human in the first place” and then sped down the hall, turning and heading elsewhere. As she carried him he got a look at what flung him. A yew tree. Blinking, he muttered “A yew tree….? Is that what his bolt grew….?”. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

Prep Work




Rin

 

She awoke at their place. Beside them was Kuzunoha who was looking up as she said “Yes… she should be fine. I’ve finally gotten around to making my workshop”. Someone out of her vision sighed in relief, but the voice that replied she knew was Arata who said “Good… we can’t lose someone else… especially her”. “Why… do you care? If I may ask? She’s a stranger and master… fate inevitably will put us in an adversarial position” she heard her servant ask. She was about to interrupt when Arata’s response surprised her as he said “I dunno why we would be. You’ve been kind to use so we’re kind back… after all, if we just view each other as enemies all the time, nothing gets done no?”. She heard Kuzunoha’s breath cease for a full minute before she said “Normally, I wouldn’t give advice to what will be an enemy… but you, Tsukamoto-san, require it. I appreciate the gesture… and I know we have an alliance… but you’re naive. Too naive”. She felt the tail fall on her face as Kuzunoha stated “If you keep that attitude, you’ll die Tsukamoto-san. I-” and yelped, moving away as she loudly sneezed. “M-master! I’m so sorry! I was-” Kuzunoha began, face becoming red as she replied “Don’t worry about it... “ and sat up, stretching as she asked “Did… we get Hachi-san?”. Arata shook his head, replying “No… we… we failed. We had him pinned and could’ve overwhelmed… then he… summoned a servant calling itself Ravana”. Her heart sank hearing that, as Kuzunoha said “Yes master… our… failure hindered Tatsuya from intervening. He was… defeated by the servant that fought us”. Gritting her teeth, she said “I see… I’m sorry Sanagi-san. I… even though I went ahead i was unable to help…”. While the minute silence made it worse, it was his response that made her feel better as he simply asked “Then… can I rely on you for when we find him? I… I realize now I’m not ready for this. None of it… I’m running blind and luck isn’t working anymore. I-” but she stopped, saying “Stop there before you say something you regret… but I can guess. I cannot give it… but I can teach” and looked him in the eyes, saying “As for your request, yes. I will help… but as you said, you need more than luck”. She then stood, saying “For now… where’s Shirou?”. Arata, following her with his eyes, was about to speak when Nemissa said “Trying to track them. They took off on a flying golden throne that turned invisible… that was pulled by eight monsters”. 

 

Eyebrow raised, she asked “Monsters…?” as suddenly that leafy phantasmal formed nearby, saying “Members of the Piscae tribe. They are steeds for only one kind of individual… Demon Kings”. Frowning, she asked “Demon… Kings…?”. Nodding, Otokaba stated “Yes…. they are the pinnacle of their clan and represent the values of it… If they are pulling someone, then they are equivalent to one of the 13 Demon Kings”. Her frown deepened. “How… powerful are these ‘Demon Kings’? Compared to… Kuzunoha?” she asked, to which Otokaba looked Kuzunoha up and down before saying “She is a powerful spirit… I would place her at the head of a tribe easily… However, she is no demon king. A demon king would only have to use a fraction of their power to smite her”. “Tsk… so it’s worse than we thought…” Bai Suzhen stated, sighing deeply. “Indeed…” Rin muttered “Did he say anything as he summoned it? Something foreign perhaps or not quite japanese?”. Shaking her head, Bai Suzhen stated “He only stated ‘Appear, my throne’. It was not the true name activation you’re wondering”. “Meaning… it’s not even his Noble Phantasm’s full power… but if he summoned a vehicle, he’s likely a Rider class” she reasoned, as Kuzunoha said “Which may be a blessing… Us of the Calvary classes tend to be weaker than Knight classes. If we were to work with the one we know of, we may stand a chance”. Sighing, she responded “I’ll contact Ginko-san about arranging for a partnership with Reiho-san. Then we can maybe mount a rescue… but we need to find them first”. Then Sanagi’s phone rang. 




Arata

 

“That’s the situation… I know they headed east towards the bay. However I could not confirm if they actually went there…” Shirou said to him over the phone as he replied “No it’s fine… Thank you, Emiya-san. I’ll have Lunch scan the radio waves. Maybe something will pop up”. Then the line went dead. “He’s fine… that’s good…” Rin stated, sighing. Nodding, he stated “If he got injured too I’d feel terrible… especially since it came right after a tough victory”. Lunch stated “Yeah… as for that location, I’ll just run a net search for any chatter about flying gold thrones… or anything unordinary”. Frowning, he asked “Is that… really all we can do…?”. Sighing, he responded “Yeah… sadly, we got no leads beyond that. Shirou lost ‘em after all”. “Then… let me help out. My crew” Tatsuya said, sitting up. Looking over, before he could respond Tatsuya stated “I called before I fought… I can utilize them… especially if we truce”. Spooky, speaking up now, said “Another underground group, right? No problem. We’re the spookies, by the by. We’re currently in another alliance but I don’t see any conflicts with them. They have the same enemy as us. Though… we gotta keep everything on the down low, okay?”. Staring, Tatsuya asked “Any reason why?”. “The Mage’s Associate… more specifically the Clock Tower” he heard Rin say, who continued as he looked between them both, “They are hellbent on keeping magecraft and magic in general a secret… to the point of being willing to eliminate entire towns”. 

 

Frowning deeply, Tatsuya responded “Why should I bother to adhere to that?”. “If you value your friends, you will. I bet they aren’t Magicians like you” Tohsaka retorted “Nor their family… the Association bare minimum would do anything to kidnap them for research. Sure, they’d be cautious but… they’re dangerous. Regardless”. Staring, almost angrily, Tatsuya asked “Have they threatened you? Do you need help?”. Shaking her head, she stated “No. I work in concrete with them because I have reason to keep magic a secret as well… they do too. Dislike the methods but there is a legitimate reason… one that’d negatively impact even you”. Frowning further, Tohsaka prodded further, saying “Frankly… the fact you are a Magician and so unknowledgable about magecraft, nevermind general magical knowledge, is practically impossible. Until now it was impossible”. Arata, looking at Tatsuya, stated “They don’t know about any of this… but according to Tohsaka-san and Emiya-san, if they do it’s very bad news”. Nodding, Rin stated as if presenting a common truth “The Clock Tower especially would find certain elements we’ve found, like the existence of Comps, to be heretical and would seek to dismantle those behind it…”. Sighing, Tatsuya responded “Based on what I’ve seen… prolly means the governments in on it… which means total war”. Nodding, he simply replied “Please Tatsuya… try?”. Sighing deeply, Tatsuya responded “Fine… but I gotta go pick her up…”. Nemissa walked over, placing a hand on him and with eyes closed channeled her healing magic into him, then said “There. Best you went without pain making things more difficult… let’s meet back at base. We’ll text the location”. Nodding, Tatsuya responded “Understood. Thanks for that. See ya soon”. Tatsuya stood, looked at Rin, and said “I wanna hear more about this Mage’s Association…. But that can wait” before leaving. He simply looked at Nemissa and then Lunch, saying “See ya… and I’ll behave. For now” before leaving. 

 

“Tsk… dodged a bullet there” Lunch commented, looking at him and saying “We gotta be careful with who we be friends with… all kindsa intentions out there. Thankfully his are… altruistic”. Nodding, Rin stated “Yeah… he seems genuine in only want to stop this ‘Nyarlathotep’... still. We should be more careful with-” but was stopped as Spooky said “Can’t. Too deep… and that thing they summoned was strong. We need his and his groups help if it’s not going to be a threat”. Nodding, he replied “I agree… our one bonus is that they can’t enter virtual space like us, so that’s a quick escape”. After a few seconds of silence, Rin smiled, saying “Heh. Clever. Reckless, but clever… still. Don’t rely on it. If you’re going to delve deeper into this, you need more power”. Staring, before he could ask, Rin said “I can’t take on another apprentice… but I could teach the basics. It’ll give you an edge against other magus”. As he was about to respond, Bai stated “You should take it, master. If you do, you’ll be able to provide me with more prana which will empower me more”. “Enough to fight Ravana?” he asked, to which Rin frowned, saying “No. You’ll never be able to take him in a straight fight… his fame, legend, and master are too great. A straight fight, no matter the servant, is impossible against that servant”. Sighing, Rin stated “Frankly… leave it to the professionals. I’m going to arrange an alliance to go after that servant. Hopefully, with numbers, we can beat him”. Sighing, he just nodded before asking “Then… how do we start?”. Looking at him, Rin said “At my place… Nemissa, want some pointers? You seem to have a grasp but a little extra knowledge couldn’t hurt”. Frowning, Nemissa said “Nah… I’ll tag along though jus’ cause”. With a nod, Rin turned to him and said “Then… shall we?”. 

 

Rin

 

She walked in and saw Shirou waiting. “Welcome back” Shirou greeted them, looking at Arata and Nemissa, asking “So… you’re ready to learn? It’s not an easy path”. Nodding, Arata stated “I’m sure. I need to get stronger for the team… cause if it’s this bad now… I don’t wanna imagine later”. Nodding, Shirou stated “Well… alright. Both of you come down. We’ll teach you some basics and I know a few nifty tricks”. Nodding, he and Nemissa followed the two of them down into their basement. As they entered, she stated “The most basic of basics are the manipulation of mana. All magus operate their magecraft through use of their magic circuits, as they don’t have enough Od to perform it on their own… Od being internal prana. Magic circuits are the magical nerves magus have in order to draw in mana”. To showcase this, she drew in some so her magical circuits would begin glowing. “It’s best to think of a switch, flipping it on and off as you need to… then flexing your muscles” she explained “Normally, I’d offer help in activating your latent circuits but… that seems to have been done prematurely. So… let’s instead focus on the switch. Have any ideas?”. After a few seconds, Nemissa said “I have that step covered. I just think ‘I wanna do magic’ and it happens”. Frowning, before she could respond Arata said “Would just a light switch work…?”. Nodding, Rin said “Whatever works best… as long as it is your norm. It’s actually sort of common among most modern magus. Only older ones have a different ‘switch’ than that”. Arata closed his eyes and after a minute blue lines appeared around his body. His hands from what she could see but she knew better and guessed there was some underneath the clothing. “Well… I’ll need a clearer picture to know what I’m working with but what I’ll teach is basic so I don’t need a full, clear picture. Just that is good… now for the next part. Your link to your servant. Not basic but something you should learn about” she explained as Nemissa asked “Wait… that’s not basic?”. 

 

“No. Even I’m not fully aware of how to feel that link” Emiya said “However it’s an important skill for masters. Without it, your servants can’t act at their optimal capacity”. Looking at them both, Arata asked “Okay… so how do I feel that?”. “For that, try to fill your body with mana. Feel for something in the direction of your servant. Like a tether or cord… something tying you two together”.she explained. As she waited, she noticed him trying hard and then said “I… think I feel something… but it’s… vague”. Nodding, she responded “That’s fine. That tie? Try to think of sending water to it… but the water is prana, the term used for magical energy in general”. After a few seconds, Bai appeared and said “Hmmm… a success. I sense your prana, master”. Smiling, Arata said “Great! Then-” but she responded “Good but practice that. The more you do, the better at it you’ll get… still. At the very least, she’s not as suppressed as before”. Nodding, Bai said “I do feel more of my original strength… but do not despair, master. Due to how this system works, I will never feel my full power”. Blinking, she sighed, saying “Did you have to say that….?”. Looking to her now, Arata asked “What is she talking about?”. Hesitating, she replied “Due to various factors… most servants aren’t as strong as they were in life. Only more modern servants would be empowered by the system… but servants like Bai and my Kuzunoha are weaker than when they were alive”. Frowning, Bai stated “Even so, we are not weak… no, that man and his servant are simply… unusual. Exceptions perhaps”. “Now… the next lesson. Actual spells. Shirou, take over. You’re the expert on them” She stated, moving aside. Shirou stated “These spells are common among magus so it’s fine to share them… I happen to be an expert in them, why she’s handing it off to me… let’s start with one you’ll need more; Reinforcement”. 

 

Tatsuya

 

He leaned against the railing at the train station. He was waiting, glasses on to hide his eyes. Symbols that he had been infected by his other self. The only trace of that incident in Sumaru City all those years ago. Then he felt it. The presence of a persona. Looking he saw the persona of one of his former allies. As the red and white haired woman approached, she wore a completely different outfit. A simple pink jacket with a pink skirt and shoes. She wore some makeup but not too much, only enough to draw attention to particular features. As she approached, very suddenly her persona appeared. Tall and blue colored, with only its torso balck colored and all metallic-looking, it held a hand out and stars began to appear. He responded by summoning Apollo which quickly held a hand out. Instantly, both attacks flew, her stars becoming flying shurikens and his nuclear fire beam collided. They cancelled each other out creating a gust of wind from the spot spooking several people. He barely flinched as did she. After approaching, her persona vanished and she said “Hey. Been a while. What’s up?”. Chuckling, he stated “Right to the point… good. Alright… c'mon then. I’ll be gett’in a text soon from my contacts… but basically, big conspiracy here. Reeks of his work… the guys behind it call themselves the ‘Phantom Society’. Yeah, I’m bett’in he’s behind it”. Sighing, the woman stated “I guessed so… well I dyed my hair and put on very little makeup to obscure my identity… and she’s run’in interference so we don’t gotta worry ‘bout me bring’in attention”. Smiling, he said “Still… it’s good to see you, Ulala”. Smirking, Ulala said “Likewise, Tatsuya-san. Now, shall we?”. Nodding he led her away just as a text came in. Looking, he said aloud “Got it… now, let’s take a little trip”. As they took the subway there, he filled her in. “I’m work’in with a local hacker group. Spookies. They’re in turn working with a pair of magus from a foreign group investigat’in this area… cause of the stuff that society is do’in which… is pretty bad”. Frowning deeply, Ulala responded “How bad?”. 

 

“Well, ‘ccordin’ ta the magus in charge, if the right people found out it’d be all out war with this city as the stage… an’ we both know what that’ll invite” he said. They were the only ones in the subway car as he explained this. Ulala, frowning, stated “This is bad… that’s not just a ploy of his, it sounds like-” nodding he finished with “Another setup for another Sumaru City… which I suspect is the case”. Gritting her teeth, Ulala stated “What’s the plan then? We busting into their headquarters?”. Shaking his head, he stated “Nah… that’d be the government office and even then they’re just in on it… no, we’re looking for their real plan. All I’ve got are vague movements”. Looking at her, he stated “For now, let’s focus on gett’in you up to speed. They’re dealing with a crisis so it’ll be a bit before they’re back into looking into their movements”. Nodding, Ulala asked “Then anything in particular I should look out for? I’ll save my questions about ‘magus’ for later”. “Yeah… stay away from anything called Paradigm X. It stole the soul of a family member of one of the members” he warned “Called off a meeting prematurely. Oh… also, it seems like he’s stepped up his game. Whatever he’s plotting involves multiple avatars… we’ve taken two down but who knows how many more he’ll throw”. Silent now, Ulala simply said “I hope these friends are ready… we both know that when he plays, it’s dirty”. Tatsuya simply nodded. He had been hoping the same. He hoped his opinion of them was right. 

 

Arata

 

It had come suddenly. The call. He was in the middle of learning reinforcement. While Emiya wasn’t happy to end it, he understood when he said it was Spooky. As he answered Spooky said “We got an update… you’re both gonna wanna see this”. Nodding, he responded “On my way” and hung up, turning and saying “We got a lead, let’s go!”. Frowning, Rin began to say “We shouldn’t interrupt your training…. But this is important. Fine. We’ll go. However… we’re not done”. Nodding, he turned and ran as Nemissa did too. They wanted to hurry so they could save Hoichi. As he got in, Rin stated “We’ll be not far behind but be careful alright?”. He nodded and got in with Nemissa and entered the coordinates to be a block away. The smart car began to drive off and soon after Shirou’s and Tohsaka’s did too. “I’m glad there’s an update… means we can pay them back for humiliating us” Nemissa commented as he said “I agree but… remember. Hoichi is the priority. We get a chance, we’re running. I’d rather not risk fighting that servant he summoned”. “... Yeah” Nemissa agreed “It’s… I could see it. That aura it had…. It’s practically a continents worth of prana on its own”. Frowning, he asked “Nemissa… what… do you think of all this?” to which she responded “I… it’s a bit suffocating. Something keeps happening and I can’t do the things I wanna do… but I don’t… hate it. I like you guys. I don’t want anything bad to happen… and I get how deep it is. Frankly? If it weren’t for that I’d have skipped out last night… but… I do. You all are fun and I wanna help”. Smiling, before he could say anything Nemissa said “Don’t look too into it. I’m not a good person. I’m a selfish, greedy demon driven by her desires. Never forget that, alright?”. Looking at her, expecting to see Nemissa wearing a look of smugness he saw she was serious. He slowly nodded, saying “I… won’t”. “Good… now. What’s our plan?” She asked as he thought about that very thing. 

 

“To the rogue kid with a servant and a comp. Listen carefully, got it? I know your buddies are watch’in” Finnegan, via a video message posted on the summoner net, announced and then pulled Yu-Ichi who looked beat up before continuing “Let’s settle this. You and me, one on one as summoners. Come to the Amami Float in the bay. I’ll take you down”. Staring at the message he felt fear. Real, genuine fear. Finnegan challenged him formally. He was new to this world but something in him understood something clear. Finnegan had laid down ground rules. If he disobeyed, Yu-Ichi would die. “This… what is he doing…?” Rin murmured to which Shirou yelled “We have to go save him! We’ll-” but Spooky interrupted, saying “No. We can’t”. “Why not!? We know where he is! Let’s just-” but was stopped as Spooky looked at him directly and said “He called you out specifically… I don’t think he’ll be forgiving if we get involved”. Then he thought. “.... Would he if they escorted me?” he asked to which everyone stared. “I…. I don’t… know” Spooky said slowly as Nemissa said “It’s the smart play. Finnegan isn’t stupid and even if we do they’ll be busy holding Ravana off. Either way… he’ll get a one on one and I doubt he doesn’t realize that”. Shirou huffed but asked “Would you really-” but he replied “Yes. Hachi… I can’t risk his death”. “Idiot… you could die!” Rin retorted but Shirou stated oppositely “Then we’ll make sure you get there”. Glaring at each other, Suddenly Spooky’s phone rang. Answering, he listened and then nodded, saying “Will do. Good day”. Looking at them, Spooky said “Before you go, swing by the Gourmaden… Ginko wants to see you before you go to the Float”. He blinked nodded, saying “Sure… Rin. Are you coming?”. Glaring at him, Rin sighed and said “Fine… fine. We’ll go”.

 

As he got out of the car she saw Ginko and another, pale man waiting for them. He wore makeup to hide the unhealthiness apparent. Looking away from the man, he could see something was wrong. “Welcome… is this the young summoner?” Ginko asked. Nodding, Rin asked “What’s going on?”. Shaking their head, Ginko responded “I come bearing a gift for the young summoner… and a request. It can’t be completed at this time so you can go about your day for now… but tonight? I need you to pick up someone important. They are carrying an important item. It’s imperative that you get it and bring it back to the Gourmaden for safe keeping”. “Why…?” he began before Rin stated “Don’t ask that. It must be related to their magecraft… and you don’t ask that… that said I’m unsure if we can. We’re going into a dangerous situation…” to which Ginko responded “I already have Reiho-san meeting them but I’d rather you or Shirou be there when the pick up happens… surely, that’s not unreasonable, considering you’ve recruited the Magician?”. Eyes widen, he saw Rin ask “You… know about him?”. With a nod, Ginko stated “Of course. I’m privy to his details even if he’s unaware of me… though I’d rather him not know. HIs power certainly is frightening. Now… for my gift” and then Ginko nodded to the pale man. He stepped forward, producing a long suitcase from seemingly nowhere and opened it to reveal a simple pocket knife. “Take it” the man stated “You have been entrusted with a particular gift. The duty of dealing with this situation…”. Nodding, he took the pocket knife and suddenly as it was lifted he was holding a katana. Almost as if he blinked and it was there. “Wh-what…?” Rin reacted, stepping back in shock as Ginko explained “That is another ancient weapon we have… though it’s heavily degraded. So much it’s name has been lost. Yet we know of a man who can impart names into it. He needs merely something to work from… a Phantasmal”. Shirou, staring at the sword, said “I see…. But that’s not the truth is it? That’s always been this sword's intent… to be inherited and transformed through fusion of a phantasmal and itself”. Ginko, shocked, smirked and said “Ohhhh… fascinating… but yes. That is it’s ultimate fate. If it had any details before it came into our possession, I am not privy to them… thus its current name, ‘Nameless Sword’. Now… the man lives on the Gourmaden. Simply ask Victor for access”. Nodding, he stated “Alright… I’ll accept this. I need all the power I can get”. Smiling, Ginko then asked “Answer me one thing before we go… young summoner. Do you have the courage to carry out your will?”. Blinking, he simply said “My will…? I suppose? I can’t do anything but move forward… so I might as well try to ignore the fear I feel, right?”. With a smile, Ginko simply walked away. “What about our deal?” Rin asked as Ginko replied “Reiho has been instructed to act on my behalf. Refer to her. Our deal is unchanged” before a vintage-looking car arrived. Getting into the back seat, the pale man sat in the driver seat. Then he saw a look of… pity? Before they then drove off. 

 

“Come on. Let’s see Victor about this” Rin said, turning to the Gourmaden and sighing “You’ll need all the strength you can get… Shirou, you handle the incoming guest okay?”. With a nod, Shirou said “No problem… but what about you?”. “I have a servant so I’ll be fine. Between us, I’m the stronger one and so I should escort them”. After that, Shirou left. As they stepped into the Gourmaden, Mary saw them and once she laid eyes on Rin stated “Your contact is gone. Why are you still here?”. “I’m escorting them… a situation has happened” Rin replied, as he said “I was told to see Victor about seeing someone who can impart names into my new sword”. He didn’t show it as he wasn’t sure what revealed its nature as a sword or what turned it back into a pocket knife. Since they were in the lobby, it turning into a katana would cause some amount of distress and break the rule of keeping magic a secret. Nodding, Mary stated “Yes. This way, please”. As they walked, Rin stated “Why did Ginko leave the Gourmaden? I thought she was staying here for protection?”. “She felt it was… inadequate. Not entirely false” Mary stated. “Why?” he asked as Mary replied “An associate of theirs died. If it were anyone else we wouldn’t be worried… but the one who died was the Summoner”. Rin, shocked, asked “Wait… how? I thought he was-” as Mary responded “Indeed. He was an accomplished summoner for the Kuzunoha. His death has severely complicated matters… thus her leaving. Thankfully, an associate that joined him managed to escape with his magic crest… so the Kuzunoha do not yet need to involve the Clock Tower into the matter”. 

 

“Ah. Tsukamoto. How are you?” Victor greeted, looking at them. “Good… I received this” he responded, pulling out the pocket knife which then turned into the Nameless Katana and said “she said to bring it to you”. Nodding, Victor stated “Indeed… I used to be adept at the arte of imparting names… but no longer. Go to ‘him’... he will impart a name to your katana”. With a press of a button, a staircase revealed itself going elsewhere. Then Victor asked “Tell me before you go… what do you want out of that sword?”. He reacted instantly, saying “The power to protect my friends”. Nodding, Victor stated “Then there is no better phantasmal to proffer that then your Shiisaa, the beast of protection”. He hesitated but then his Comp rumbled. He looked at it and saw the message ‘Jessup: Don’t worry pal. It’s fine’. He nodded, saying “Understood… thank you, Victor”. “Of course… the man below does not mind either. He lives for his craft. Both swordmaking and cooking” Victor stated “Then again so do all his descendants… anyway. Continue and godspeed”. He then began to descend as Nemissa and Rin followed. As they did, Rin stated “I’ll never get used to this… the mana is so thick here… how are you two fine…?”. “I’m protected by my blessings as a demon. Arata is protected as his Comp absorbs the mana and converts it into Magnetite… sadly, you have no such protections” Nemissa responded to which Rin glared and said “It’s unheard of that humans visit the Reverse Side of the World… of course I don’t have protections… I don’t know if even the Grand Wizard Marshal has done this…”. Shrugging, Nemissa said as they entered an assembly line-looking area “I dunno all that magic stuff. It just comes natural, ya know?”. Rin retorted “Which is still weird… sure Phantasmals had abilities that could be called magecraft but the ones that could think and feel like us needed knowledge”. Shrugging, a voice interrupted them as a japanese looking man emerged from the shadows saying “Excuse me. If you are here to bicker, please leave. This is where I take my breaks and focus on my craft, thank you”. “Ah, sorry sir… we are here on business” Arata stated as the man, turning to him, stared and asked “You… you have something interesting on you… what is it?”. Revealing the sword, the man approached, gasping and saying “A nameless katana!? What a wonderful thing you have! Please, might I work on it?” to which he responded “Of course… Why did we come here? I was told to seek someone to give it a name”. Nodding, the man stated “I absolutely can. I am Muramasa the thirteenth, at your service. Now… do you have a phantasmal for this?”. Nodding, he pulled out his Comp and hesitated. Then with a pull of the trigger Jessup appeared. Nodding, the man stated “A fine phantasmal. Contradictory to the job of sword but contradiction often makes for fine material… Phantasmal. Do you consent?”. 

 

Looking between them, Jessup looked to him and said, “Master. It’s been a blast. I dunno if I’ll be meself in there… but still. Even if I lose my sense of self, know that I appreciate ya fulfilling my desires and know I am glad to continue doing so”. Gritting his teeth, he nodded and said “Then… Jessup. Do as you will”. Turning, Jessup stated “I do. Make me inta a fine sword”. From there, the man took over completely. He ordered Jessup onto the assembly line. Then he went elsewhere. As Jessup was brought along the first machine electrocuted the phantasmal. Yet Jessup did not scream as the lightning transformed him into pure prana and condensed it into a ball of pure prana. Then it was moved along the assembly line and before the next machine activated Muramasa came out of the shadows and slipped something onto the ends of two different machines. When the machine activated, the two different machines pressed together and when they parted he could see the prana had been molded into a solid form. From there, the new shape was moved down the line and this time Muramasa directed the shaped energy into an empty mold while the Nameless Katana sat in its own mold. Then, as the two slowly came together, he chanted something in a language he didn’t understand. Once pressed, he covered his eyes as a bright flash of light emitted from the machine. Uncovering them after a few seconds, Muramasa held a bulky-looking sword. It had a broad edge and was wide and had a guard on the hilt. Swinging it effortlessly a few times, Muramasa stated “What was your desire, boy?”. “A sword that’d let me protect my friends” he answered to which Muramasa smiled and said “Congratulations. This sword will accomplish that… if you don’t mind risking it” and tossed it to him. As he reached out, the sword seemingly changed the angle of its spin so that the hilt landed in his hand as he gripped it. “Loyal to its owner indeed… it did not respond to me but look at it hum in yours… it has no sentience, but the energy within knows its master. You raised a fine phantasmal… Now go. That sword will serve your purpose”. Smiling big, he responded “Thank you”. “Ah!” The man said as he turned back, having begun to leave and said “Before I forget… I changed the enchantment. It will remain a pocket knife unless you say the word ‘Jessup’. Likewise, that word returns it to a pocket knife”. Nodding, he said “Jessup” and now held a pocket knife as if he blinked. He put it away, Nemissa saying “Fascinating… truly. A spell that numbs the phantasmal and then breaks them down… vicious but kind”. Rin frowned and asked “Can such a thing even exist?”. Nemissa merely shrugged. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

The Rescue of Hachi



Rin

 

As they left she stared at Sanagi. She was staring because she was slightly amazed at what he held. It wasn’t quite on the level of a proper noble phantasm, but it practically was one. It was a mystic code that held incredible potential and power. She would even be willing to bet it might at one time have been a Noble Phantasm. They did exist as she had discovered during her study at the Clock Tower. As she stared at it she felt envious of the position Sanagi was in… yet reminded herself not to be. She started to feel a bit sorry for him, realizing how deep he was. Holding, at bare minimum, a mystic code that could rival Noble Phantasms as well as technology that if he didn’t relinquish to the Clock Tower would get him labeled with a Sealing Designation while also being perfectly human. She wanted to try to think he could evade the worser elements of Clock Tower but couldn’t think of how it would be practical. The detail that sealed it was the existence of Nemissa. Short of her being a self-manifested, self-maintaining servant that equaled in power to the original Arthur Pendragon then there was no way she could fight them off. The only saving grace was that she was merely possessed. If she could separate them somehow and apply hypnosis then Clock Tower would be obligated to leave her be due to her being under the jurisdiction of the Second Owner Ginko Kuzunoha. Yet even then… there were no guarantees. As the smart car drove through the city the gravity of the situation really started to sink in. Even she wasn’t leaving this unscathed. She was practically complicit in all this at this point. Though… she can’t say she’d do anything different. She still remembered how they met. What she had intended to do. Yet… as she sighed, she wondered how it would all end.

 

However she knew they had more immediate problems. Ravana. He would ultimately be an issue. Further, due to circumstances she had no idea where two of their allies were and one of theirs was heading out to meet Reiho and one of the association members who accompanied one of the Kuzunoha on a successful mission wherein the Kuzunoha had died. That meant it was her, Sanagi, Nemissa, and their servants as well as Sanagi’s phantasmals. She knew his Bai Suzhen and her Kuzunoha were not strong enough to defeat him. That didn’t even calculate the green servant they had seen. He would be a force to be reckoned with. Then she heard her servant say “I am sorry master. We cannot defeat Ravana. Even with Bai Suzhens boost from awakening Arata to his link with her, she pales in comparison to him…” to which she replied telepathically “I know… it’s a hopeless situation… yet there’s nothing to be done. The longer he remains in their hands, that servant's master, this Finnegan, can extract more information from him. So, now that we know where they wait, we have to go”. Kuzunoha, predictably, went silent. She simply sighed and stared out the window, watching the bay pass by. 



Arata

 

As they stepped out a pair of men in suits waited. One was clearly rotund but Japanese while the other looked british. Looking at them, the rotund man asked “You Sanagi an’ Nemissa?”. He nodded and the man said “Follow me” before both turned away. “Just like that?” Rin asked, to which one turned and said “Finnegan gave explicit orders to escort you to tha tram. It’ll take ya through a newly constructed undersea tunnel directly there. Executives and workers only normally… except when we come in”. Nodding, he stated “Understood. Then let’s go”. Both men smirked as they walked in. As they walked, none of them spoke. They had already been there and both parties knew that. As they approached one man stated “It’s set ta go once the door closes. So get go’in”. “She’s allow too right?” he asked, as the british man stated “Of course. She’s escorting you two. He expected that… though he may be shocked to see just her”. Nodding, he got on with Rin and Nemissa who simply glared at the men, saying as she got on “Tsk. How weak… just escorts? Please…”. As the train drove away, the men glared at them, clearly upset at the insult. Looking at her, and she at him, Nemissa said “What? I’m right” to which he simply replied “I dunno about that… they’re part of phantom, right?”. Frowning, Nemissa retorted “Sure, as flunkies”. Rin stated “Admittedly, if they became violent, there’s nothing they could’ve done short of accidentally summoning a servant… however, never assume that Nemissa. Magus are stronger if they keep their spells secret… and that’s a practice-” but was interrupted as Nemissa stated “I can literally see their strength, Tohsaka. I’m stronger… only Arata is weaker but his Comp is stronger”. Blinking, he and Rin asked at the same time “Wait… you can see it?”. Nodding, Nemissa stated “Yeah. Always could.. Just didn’t realize what it was at first. Now I know it's magecraft”. Staring, Rin stated “... We’re slowing down. We’re here”

 

As they arrived and stepped off,  the train platform was silent for several minutes until a voice came on, saying “Ah. You’re here. I’ve cleared the place out… follow the lights. I’m waiting”. As the voice went silent, he shivered. He still remembered his brief encounters from Finnegan and the sheer strength he had. As he stepped forward, Rin grabbed his arm. Then she said as he turned “Be careful, Arata. Don’t let him taunt you. He’s a far superior mage to me, and by extension you, and he’s been a summoner longer… keep a cool head or you’re dead”. He nodded, slowly, but did so. He knew she was right. He had to keep a cool head or Finnegan would kill him. As they walked he didn’t put anything on. He simply held a new katana and his AR15. Nemissa had her equipment too. Rin led the way as they followed the lights to a lift that went straight up to the 13th floor. Halfway, all of them tensed feeling a wave flow over them. “That feeling… it’s a reality marble!” Rin commented as Nemissa stated “He used this before… he did it to saturate the place with mag- prana so he could use his phantasmals” Nemissa explained and Rin responded “I see… I… that’s still impressive. How did he get his hands on such a powerful spell?”. Frowning, Arata stated “I dunno… but let’s be careful… Bai? How dangerous is this spell?”. “Not dangerous… I explained before but the biggest risk is the fact that phantasmals can support their existence here, depending on the strength of this spell's owner. In this case though… be ready. Strong phantasmals will no doubt notice and enter this space”. 

 

“How… much do you know about this spell?” Rin asked as Bai turned, saying “Not too much. I have the memories from the phantasmal that betrayed her master… and according to them, this spell uses principles from Reality Marbles to achieve this effect… but it is not one”. Frowning deeply, Rin stated “Do all summoners use it?”. Shaking her head, Bai stated “No… they must be taught”. Sighing in relief, Rin stated “Then it follows normal thaumaturgical rules… well, to an extent. At the very least, Clocktower won’t throw a fit over it. They’ll just want to research it”. Nodding, Bai stated “Indeed… they won’t need a master for that. They’ll want Finnegan… he is the expert of that spell… from those memories, his is special though… I can’t recall why”. Frowning deeply, Rin said as the ascent finished “Well… stay alert, Sanagi. He certainly will”. Looking forward he saw them. Two phantasmals flanked Finnegan and two servants. A robed green man with a crossbow on his left arm stood against a wall while the black skinned Ravana stood tall near Finnegan. Finnegan stared at him from behind a pair of black sunglasses, the room dark with only red and green lights giving dim lights. “You’re here… with a bit of an entourage. An accomplished magus, a semi-decent servant, and… wait” and then Finnegan removed the glasses, revealing one eye glowing blue and the other completely white as Finnegan stated “So that’s where you’ve run off to… man, don’t I feel stupid. You’ve been hiding under me this whole time. How I missed you at the port… must’ve been weak back then”. Frowning, Nemissa retorted “Wait… what!? Weak!? How dare you!”.

 

Rin

 

She frowned. She did not like this man. She had only heard of him but now she knew why he elicited such fear and… how he managed to summon and maintain Ravana, the demon king. She stared specifically at that blue eye. She could tell just from the look of it that it was a Mystic Eye. What kind she couldn’t tell was what kind. Looking at it alone wouldn’t help… but that wasn’t what scared her. It was the overwhelming feeling of him being in total control of the situation. The way his servants were positioned, the fact the phantasmals were the same as Arata’s, and his stance exuded a feeling of he held all the cards. Looking around she spotted Hachi leaning against the far wall, hands behind his back, presumably tied up. “Go ahead an’ check ‘im. Robin Hood will watch you to make sure you don’t run for it” Finnegan stated, then looked at Sanagi. She turned and did so, heading there. As she did, she mentally asked “How are things on your end?”. “Slow… I’m working while using only trickles of prana. I need more time” her servant responded. She looked over Hachi, checking his vitals first. No injuries she could see and the bags suggested he simply fell asleep. However she could sense a small amount of prana flowing through him… something she didn’t like. Yet she also saw it intermingling with his Od. If she wasn’t careful when dealing with it, then it could hurt him. Before she could do anything a voice stated from next to her “Don’t try anything. I’m right here”. Looking she saw the green hooded figure staring down at her with green eyes. Frowning, she responded “I won’t… I know better”. Smirking, the man stated “Good… then jus’ sit back. Duel’s about to begin. Enjoy it… after all, could be your last spectacle” and then offered her a small flask. Taking it slowly, he clarified “Don’t worry, it’s just water. I dunno your preferences on drinks but waters always a good go-to” and pulled out his own, sitting against the wall and taking a swig. She looked back and saw Ravana was now far away as was the Shiisaa as Finnegan said “Understood. Then he’ll go too. After all… it’s gotta be fair”. Then she saw Nemissa walk away in a huff. 

 

Arata

 

“.... Well. It’s all you Arata. I doubt you’ll let me join, right?” Nemissa stated as Finnegan nodded, tossing the glasses aside and shrugging the holsters off himself, leaving himself in pants and a white shirt. “Ravana. Don’t interfere unless it’s to extract me. If they look like they’re winn’in, let ‘em take the kid and leave alive and unharmed… at least, no more harmed than they are when we finish”. Nodding, Ravana stated “Understood. I won’t…. But make no mistake. If one of you interferes, I’ll kill you right there. No hesitation. Understood?”. Nodding, Nemissa responded “Yeah. This is his fight… of course it’s not over if he dies but… well… you know”. Ravana merely nodded as he tossed the gun and katana aside. He pulled out his Comp and pocket knife. Finnegan growled, asking “Is… this a joke? You really-” but stopped as Otokaba appeared and he said “Jessup!” and the pocket knife, as if blinking into existence, was replaced by the sword made from the soul of Jessup. Lifting it and pointing it, Finnegan smirked and said “Well, well… you actually found one… a soul smith. I’m impressed. That’s a rare resource… you’re in league with the Kuzunoha aren’tcha?”. Nodding, he stated “Yeah… no choice. If we’re to survive your assault-” but was interrupted as Finnegan stated “Damn… wish I had gotten my hands on you sooner… maybe things would be different. Sad I gotta kill you here”. Then, the banter stopped as Finnegan surged forward. He barely had time to react as he sensed an attack from his knee. He immediately swung down and was sent flying as the knee pushed his sword into his chest and the force was quite impactful. Otokaba before he could respond was sent flying by a powerful concussive force. 

 

Even as he landed on his feet he gripped his sword with both hands. He had a slight feeling but he felt the next attack was above. He backed up quickly and lashed out. Finnegan’s foot landed and he held his arms up to his left defensively to intercept his attack. He pulled the sword back and jumped left at a whim and avoided a backhand from Finnegan. Finnegan glared at him suspiciously but simply stood tall. He created distance quickly as he noted something; Finnegans clothes were unharmed. Further they had lines akin to circuitry flowing over them. He’d seen them multiple times and while he didn’t have a name he knew it meant magecraft had been used. He then moved and defended himself as Finnegan rushed and straight jabbed him but found the sword blocking it. “You’re movements… they’re strange” Finnegan stated “It’s like you know what I’m going to do”. “Tsk…. I dunno… I’m working off my gut. My only advantage!” he yelled back as he pushed, stopping the push Finnegan was doing. He was pushing prana into his legs to increase their strength, using that Reinforcement spell Shirou had been teaching. He hadn’t finished but he needed to try. Frowning deeply, Finnegan stated “Interesting… but no matter. I’m clearly superior. Give up. It’s your best bet”. “Would we live? Would you really forget this?” He asked, lashing out and leaping away, making Finnegan stumble for all of a second before he leapt after him. He defended again as Finnegan stated “No. It’d be quick though…” and then sent him slamming into a distant wall, making him cry out. “Arata!” Hitomi suddenly cried out, but Nemissa wrested control and mumbled something. Finnegan turned, looking surprised and said “So she possessed someone… damn. What a pity…”. He slowly stood, trying to ignore his pain, and pulled out some painkillers and ate some. 

 

“So. Giving up yet?” Finnegan asked as he yelled “No way! I can’t just let you do as you please!”. Frowning Finnegan rushed at him. He ducked and this time stabbed forward. Finnegans fist narrowly missed his skull and still caused pain due to the wind force around his fist but his stab actually caused Finnegan to grunt in pain. Those circuits were flaring but he saw red begin to bleed into his white shirt and he had in fact cut through. Before he could push, Finnegan suddenly jumped away, giving him space. Ravana laughed dryly, saying “The rookie got you. Was it a mistake, providence, or skill? I wonder….”. Finnegan glared at Ravana openly, but stood up. With a flex the bleeding he had inflicted stopped and Finnegan stated “Kid… you got lucky. Don’t let it get to your head. I’m gonna keep giving you chances to back out and die peacefully and intact so you can have a proper funeral”. Frowning, he stated “I can’t. Stop asking. We both know I can’t… it isn’t just Hachi at risk here”. Ravana laughed loudly, stating “Ho! The boy got you good, master!”. Finnegan softened but said “I’ve been looking at you like you’re green… but you’re actually somewhat experienced aren’t you?”. “I had to grow fast” he responded as he yelled “Otokaba! Now!”. Finnegan turned, lashing out with his arm but was too slow and mis-aimed. Otoakab was pinned behind him by Finnegans own leafy phantasmal. However an arm was free… an arm he used to fire a concussive wave at Finnegan. He lifted his sword up and pumped prana into his arms to increase the strength of the slash he then did. He watched as Finnegan curled into a ball and covered himself in that spell… but he felt something give as his sword made contact. A sucking sound rang out as Finnegan flew outwards and slammed into the ground, rolling. Turning he leapt forward and made a second slash, cutting the phantasmal giving his trouble. One slash was all it took. “Thank you, master” Otokaba stated. Turning, Finnegan stood and ripped his sleeves off. He used them as improvised bandages, tying them around his cut forearms. Ravana was silent and staring at them now as Finnegan stated “Hmph… my mistake. I looked down on you. I thought you were a wimp… that killing my phantasmals had been a fluke… but I was wrong. Clearly. I apologize. I’ll take you seriously”

 

Rin

 

She winced. She watched Sanagi get knocked around as though he weighed nothing. Finnegan was clearly an experienced fighter and it was sheer luck that Sanagi intercepted and dodged each attack. Yet she knew he wouldn’t be able to forever. Further as she looked at Bai she knew the trick going on. Bai was abusing her own power and her link to Sanagi to get him to perform specific actions. However she blinked when he stabbed Finnegan. She blinked again when he set something up and slashed Finnegans forearms. As Finnegan apologized for looking at Sanagi as a rookie, she felt fear. She could feel Finnegans Od swell. She now knew why he gave even a magician such a hard time. This man not only had excellent quality magical circuits, he had a lot. Far as she was aware, it was hard to imagine that there wasn’t some part of him that didn’t have magical circuits. She estimated he had somewhere in the realm of 300 magical circuits of a quality equal to her. It mean that he was a monster of a magus. Combine that with his ability to control phantasmals and she was afraid regarding what Sanagi had just invited. Another flex and the bleeding in his arms stopped. “Master….. I’m almost done” Kuzunoha stated as she ordered “Do it… and be ready”. She then watched as Finnegan became a blur heading for Sanagi. 

 

Arata

 

Right. Left kick. Headbutt. He reinforced and reacted as needed. He blocked the right jab, leapt over the left kick. He dodged the headbutt… him and Otokaba worked hard to try to set up another ambush but Finnegan gave them no quarter. He went after Otokaba just as much as him. Anytime he’d capitalize on Finnegan swiping at Otokaba he’d spin and block him. However, eventually, he felt something. In his jacket pocket. Something had been dropped there… That meant that their strategy, created by Rin, was ready. As he blocked a kick and punch consecutively Finnegan jumped away as a concussive force from Otokaba rang out, sending him flying away. “Damn kid… gonna be honest. You move well. You and your phantom… too bad you met me” Finnegan gloated as he responded “Yeah… if we keep going… we lose. I can tell… you’re really, really strong” and stood, reaching in. He pulled out what he knew to be the noble phantasm of Rin’s Servant. As she explained it, it was the part of her legend that made her famous. A fruit containing life. “What… hey, this is between you and me!” Finnegan protested as he asked “Did you check me?” and saw Finnegan hesitate as he stated “I had this the whole time… now you’re going to claim I can’t use gifts from others? Then I should throw my sword away… but then, that’s not a real fight is it?”. Finnegan hesitated but finally sighed and said “Fine… do it. I admit, you got me. Even if I’m sure you didn’t have it, I can’t prove it… so use it”. Nodding, he moved and took a bite as Finnegan stated “If you lose after this though, I better not hear you beg for mercy”. Another bite, then another. He devoured the whole fruit in a few seconds. The fatigue in his body vanished and he felt strength swell throughout him. As he stood, Otokaba stated “Master… this prana…” and he said “We did it… we made him make a mistake… by preparing that earlier, we can now… fight!” and then he surged forward. Finnegan’s eye widened and he quickly raised his arm to block. However his sword cut straight through the first and Finnegan, with a scream, sent it to the side with his reinforced arm. Otokaba then appeared to his right and sent a concussive force that flung Finnegan right towards a wall… of which Ravana intercepted, catching him with a hand. Growling, Finnegan asked “Wh… what…?” and Ravana stated “Thus concludes this match. I, demon king Ravana, do observe that Arata Tsukamoto bested Finnegan in fair combat.,,, Finnegan. We’re leaving as-” but Finnegan yelled “No! I haven’t lost! I still-” but was interrupted as Ravana said “If you continued fighting, he’d continue punching through your defense… with a sword and strength, you lost. Take it with grace, master… Robin Hood, we’re leaving”. With a nod, Robin Hood stood and the three got onto the lift, leaving. 

 

Rin

 

She panted as she stared at the group that went down. Arata ran over with Nemissa and asked “How is he?”. “Fine” she stated “He’s under a spell… we’ll need to work it out in a more calm environment”. Nodding, she heard him whisper ‘Jessup’ and pocket the now knife and move to pick him up. “They’re not gone… once they are, we should leave” Bai stated. “We will” she stated, standing and looking to the hole the lift left “Kuzunoha, how many can your leaf support?” to which her servant responded “Everyone present…. Speaking of, they’re nearing the point they’ll leave”. With a nod, Rin said “Alright. Let’s get ready to go” and Kuzunoha went to the edge of the hole and began working. Then Hachi came to, asking slowly “Wh… what….? What’s… going on…?”. Turning, Arata asked “You’re awake! How are you feeling?”. Hachi hesitated, looking at Sanagi with glossed over eyes. She knew that look as it was a spell she herself had employed and was silent as Hachi said “F… fine. Head’s a bit… stuffed… Can we leave…? I’m tired….”. Nodding, Sanagi said “Sure. We just gotta wait a bit… we’ll be out soon”. Looking at Nemissa, she saw the suspicion on her face. They nodded to each other, silently communicating that they understood. Then her servant said “It’s ready and they’ve left… shall we leave?”. With a nod, she moved to pick up Hachi but Sanagi put Hachi’s arm around his shoulders and stood. Hachi stood too and accepted the help. They then moved and stood on the leaf as Kuzunoha stepped onto it and with a motion detached it from the growing vine that held it. Then, they fluttered down gently and left out the front doors. Rather than leave through the train, a likely trap, they left over the harbor. It was night and they could move relatively undetected on the beach. 

 

Finnegan

 

As they left via Ravana’s throne, Ravana stated “That was a poor performance”. He responded “The kid caught me off guard… nothing to worry about… I’ll get fixed up and-” but Ravana interrupted saying “No, master. The kid is clearly skilled. Maybe less than you but he used your expectations against you. He used your professionalism and even skill against you. He beat you, wholly”. Looking at him, he asked “Is that why you pulled me out?”. “Among other things, yes” Ravana stated “Sure, maybe you could’ve pulled a win… but if it had continued, I would’ve had to intervene beyond merely ending the fight. So, master, respectfully… take the loss. Learn from it… and prepare for next time”. He stared at Ravana and then at what was now a closed stump. He growled but said “I get it… I don’t want to but I do. I shouldn’t have looked down on him”. Nodding, Ravana said “Now what master?”. Finnegan stated “Even if I lost, that's a minor embarrassment… The mission is still accomplished. Let’s go report and get my hand reattached”. With a nod Ravana activated the cloaking and headed for the governmental building, the current headquarters for Phantom… at least, the top three floors. As he looked out over the city he did feel a small twinge of sympathy and respect for Arata. He had found someone with lots of potential. It was just a shame he existed outside the Society. Sighing, he ordered “Robin Hood… tail them. Make sure the package reaches the Spookies. Once you confirm, return to HQ. I’m releasing you back into Society custody at that point”. “Sure thing boss man” Robin stated before leaping off the throne into the city below. Finnegan simply wondered what was next. They were close… They just needed two things. To locate Death and kill it and to feed it enough souls to awaken… then their master plan could begin. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 24

A Rainy Day



Tatsuya

 

As he entered, he saw Spooky and Lunch toasting. Smirking, he asked “What’s the celebration?”. “We got ‘im back!” Lunch stated as Six responded “They did it! They actually beat Finnegan!”. Tatsuya stopped for a moment as Ulala walked in, asking “Isn’t he the guy that gave you a run for your money?”. Nodding, Tatsuya asked “Who beat him? I’m outta the loop”. “I know. Basically, Finnegan called out Sanagi and challenged him to a one on one for Hachi. Sanagi left to go do that and we just got the call that they’re on their way”. Smiling, Lunch said “Yeah. Just need confirmation on Emiya’s end that the pickup went fine and we’re crystal”. “How about I go?” he offered “Just to smooth things out”. Ulala looked at him, saying “Introduce me first. You called me here, the least you can do is smooth over intros”. Nodding, he replied “True, true… so gang, this here’s a good friend. Her name is Ulala. Ulala, these are the Spookies. Play nice, okay?” and turned to leave. With a sigh, Ulala stated “Well… yeah. We go back. Now.. I’ve gotten a bit of info from him but I wanna hear it from you guys. Seems you all are the center of it”. He missed the rest of the conversation as he got on his motorcycle and took off. His destination was the very train station he had just come from. 

 

Later on he got a call. He answered, hearing spooky say “Hey we just got a call. They showed up… they’re waiting for you outside”. “Thanks, Spooky. I’ll be there in a jam” he answered, turning onto the freeway “Any update on sanagi?”. “Yes… actually… really bad news. I’m waiting for him to get here but… he’s outed. He’s ID is locked down” Spooky stated. Looking down at the motorcycle for a second, he looked back to the road and the cars around him, asking “Okay… what’s that mean?”. “Basically? He can’t use any Amami City services. Anything he does has to be third party” Spooky explained “Including use of Paradigm X”. Frowning, he asked “Can they do that?” to which he heard Lunch explain “Yeah…. The only reason they haven’t locked his family’s computer down is because it’s not his. You can be sure it’s been combed. I’ve already activated the failsafe, so we’re good… but his family is in for a rude surprise. Prolly wiped clean of anything not factory”. “Shit… what now? Why’d they nip him now?” he asked, to which Spooky stated “They claim he’s engaged in unlicensed tampering of Amami City Property… probably referring to computers. Which means that likely he tampered with some terminal out in the city and got caught doing it. We’re lucky he’s not been arrested”. 

 

Seeing the train station ahead, he stated “I gotta go… you should give a status update to everyone… Sanagi included. If he’s been relyin’ on public transport, then he’s screwed”. Silent for a minute, Spooky said “Good point, I gotta go then. Good luck” and hung up. Stopping, he saw them. A small group of people. Shirou, a woman in white and a shorter woman in black holding a long suitcase. As he got off and approached, the shorter woman glared at him and he saw a glow beneath her clothes. He thought about summoning his persona but he decided against it… instead he only partially channeled Apollo. He felt his body warm and heat, the draft created from it making the loose parts of his clothing billow. However he kept his stance unguarded and unprotected. He knew Apollo could intercept but it was intended to convey that he was friendly. Simply confident. Then, the woman in white spoke up, asking “Excuse me, are you ‘Suou’?” to which he answered “Sure am. I’ll be your defense for the evening… full name is Tatsuya Suou if you need that”. Glaring at him, the shorter woman slowly introduced herself “Fraga. I’ve never heard of you though… what family are you from?”. Laughing, he stated “Not one you’re familiar with. We’re kinda normies”. The woman in white stated “I’m Reiho. Rei Reiho”. Shirou looked between them, asking “Tatsuya. Any word of Sanagi?”. “Yeah… good and bad. His side went fine… but he got found out. City’s blocked his ID. He can’t use any public services…” he explained as Reiho stated “Damn… that’s bad… mean’s they’re closing in”. Looking between them, Fraga asked “Why is that so bad?”. Looking to her, Reiho explained “Everything in this city runs on an ID. He’s effectively locked out of everything they run. It’ll make movement harder”. Frowning, Fraga asked “I meant does it matter to us?”. “A bit… the Kuzunoha, two magus, apparently this man, and the hacker group he’s apart of are in an alliance to resolve this incident quietly and quickly… to prevent large-scale tragedy” Reiho answered “As a result… if they are watching him, and they discover his ties to the Kuzunoha…” and then trailed off, as Fraga nodded saying “Understood… then let’s hurry. I’d prefer this matter be settled immediately”. Nodding, Reiho looked at him and asked “How are we doing this?”. “My bike is maneuverable. So you three take a car” he stated to which Fraga asked “What makes you qualified to help us?”. Reiho herself asked “Yeah… sorry kid but she does have a point and something you said bothers me… what do you mean by normie?”. 

 

Tatsuya ignored Shirou’s clear hints to end that line of questioning and stated “Cause I kinda got a gift and it’s very strong. Only one punk in this city beat me and he’s the top of the food chain if my intel’s correct”. Eyes wide, Reiho asked “Wait… you mean… the Hand of Phantom…?”. He simply smirked as Fraga asked “Who’s he?”. Reiho stated “A… very powerful magus. In terms of quality… I’d say he’s the best I’ve ever met. In terms of his potential as a summoner… only my old partner matched him”. He noticed Fraga’s expression soften but then turn into a glare at him, asking “You… have that much power? Without a background in magecraft?”. Nodding, Fraga’s reaction was swift. She surged forward, fist moving at the speed of a bullet. However his thoughts traveled just as fast as the phantasmal arm of Apollo appeared and batted the punch away, another one grabbing her by the throat and lifting her. He didn’t choke her, but he lifted her out of range as Apollo fully manifested. Fraga’s eyes were wide and she only asked “H-...A… D-divine spirit?”. Reiho looked frightened as he gently let Fraga down, saying “I trust our problems with defense are resolved?”. Slowly, Fraga said “Y-yes… b-but how? How did you summon-” but he corrected her, saying “Wrong method. I ain’t summon’in him. I’m manifesting him. Different dance. Now let’s ride” and turned and got on his bike. He didn’t want them digging too deep into him. After his conversation with Rin, he wanted to prevent any harm from her association would bring him and his friends… and also prevent the secret he held. That connection they shared with all of humanity. As he stared at the city, he felt a sort of calm come over him. He knew it was Apollo, humming deep in his soul. As he turned his bike on, a smart car rolled in which the other three got into. He didn’t doubt Shirou was being grilled about him. Thankfully, he’d never let on to the truth to any of them. He was their best shot. 

 

Arata

 

The call had come in. His licensed was revoked. Rin had received the call and when he checked his phone was toast. He tossed it into the bay immediately with Bai’s help. Then he checked his Comp. It too had lost access. He could only access the software downloaded. He was told to return immediately but he stated “Sir, we can’t. I’m being watched probably. I-” but Spooky said “I know but we got a way to handle that. Just-... nevermind, meet Lunch and Six at the park. Hand over Hachi and they’ll inform you of our solution”. Silent for a minute, he heard Spooky asked “Sanagi?” to which he responded “S-sorry sir. Thank you… I… yes. I’ll go”. “Good… good luck, Sanagi. Be careful” he heard Spooky say before hanging up as he offered the phone to Rin, saying “Thank you, Tohsaka. It’s… we’re changing destinations. Let’s go to the park”. Rin nodded, asking “Sure but… what happened?”. “My ID was revoked… I’m effectively locked out of all server systems in Amami City. Not even my phone will work” he explained as Kuzunoha said “... They found you out”. He nodded to which Rin stated “Then our job just got dire… how are we going to move unrestricted…? We can’t even call a Smart Car…” to which he replied “Not exactly… remember. We’re hackers. We can fix this… Spooky has a plan. We just gotta meet up with Lunch and Six”. Kuzunoha took Rin’s phone and began operating it as Rin said “Alright… but still. Be on your guard. They clearly know of your victory and aren’t holding back. We’re no longer just a nuisance”. As he nodded, Kuzunoha handed it back and said “Regardless, Sanagi-san you should take this moment to rest”. “Why?” he asked to which he stopped suddenly. He then groaned and fell to his knee’s, feeling weakness overtake him as Kuzunoha stated “Side-effects from my Noble Phantasm… your body isn’t built for the powers of a servant. Even temporary, I expected the fatigue to hit about now… so rest. I’ll work on restoring your stamina”. “Dammit… why didn’t you warn us!?” Nemissa yelled, glaring at Kuzunoha. He passed out at that. 

 

Rin

 

As Nemissa argued with Kuzunoha who was tending to Sanagi, she watched for the car. As she waited she thought about recent events. Now that the government knew, and reacted, she couldn’t be subtle. What started as a simple inquiry into an event to further her research had become a full-scale event. Even if she wanted to, selfishly and against her normal principles, retreat and leave these people to their fates she couldn’t. The risk of a new grail was too much. The very existence of her servant attested to that fact. As she looked at Sanagi and Nemissa, who had quieted down to Kuzunoha’s nearly unshakable serenity, she sighed. “You… really have rubbed off on me, haven’t you… Shirou…?” she muttered to herself as she turned, hearing a car pull up. Seeing the car they ordered, she yelled “It’s here! Kuzunoha, help him into the back!” and walked over. After Kuzunoha had Nemissa got into the other seat and entered their destination. “The park… right? Done. We’ll be there in 15” Nemissa stated, looking at Sanagi. She asked “Worried?” to which Nemissa admitted “Yes… he took a massive risk. He’s damn lucky to be alive”. Staring, she asked “Why… do you care?”. Looking at her, Nemissa asked “What” in a low, slight growl. “I asked why you care… you’re a Daemon aren’t you? You shouldn’t care… at least not about him individually”. Frowning now, Nemissa looked at Sanagi and then her, with a somewhat pained look. Then she saw both the girl she had heard was Hitomi and Nemissa say “We… care about him…” and then heard both say the same word “Friends” but with different tones. Hitomi’s was more reserved and concerned while Nemissa’s was more embarrassed and meek. Like a wounded animal. She sighed, saying “I know the feeling… he’s an idiot… but he’s your idiot… right?”. Nemissa stared, looking shocked, but nodded slowly. Hitomi took over, saying “He’s not an idiot though! He’s a good hacker!”. Chuckling, remembering Shirou, she stated “Yeah… I get that too… we’re not that unalike”. Then the car stopped and she heard Sanagi groan and said “Alright. Let’s get going, Sanagi”. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye and saw Sanagi slightly confused but got up and out of the car. Once they were all out the car drove away. Waiting for them was Lunch and Six. 

 

Arata

 

As he walked over, Hachi followed with the same out of it expression. Lunch looked at him and asked “He okay?”. He shrugged, saying “He was beat up… and kidnapped. I don’t-” but stopped seeing Six, with a furious expression, approach Hachi suddenly. Before he could react Six pulled Hachi into a hug, saying “You’re safe. Thank god… geez, we should’ve never brought you” before separating and looking him over. Hachi stared, blankly as Six said “What’s wrong?”. “Can… can I just go?” Hachi asked. Six, disbelieving, asked “I… um… sure I-” but was interrupted as Hachi moved on, saying “Kay. Goodnight”. Rin frowned, and Six, still shocked, asked “What… what was-” but stopped as Rin stated “I thought so… classic signs of brainwashing. Dammit… he’s compromised”. Frowning, Lunch said “Damn. We’ll have to fix that… oh, but before we go… hey, Sanagi. We got a deal arranged. Head down to EL-115. They’ll get you a new ID”. Blinking, Sanagi muttered “I forgot about them” as Rin asked “Who are they?”. “Best hackers in town. Only ones to operate brazenly within Amami’s Firewalls. They’re gonna hook him up with a new one… dunno how strong it’ll be but it’ll work”. At that, Six and Lunch left themselves to take care of something else. Looking at Rin, they just sighed and they made their way to that club.

 

As they walked in, Rin looked unimpressed. Nemissa smiled walking in, saying loudly “Hey boys, I’m back!”. Both looked and smiled, waving as they greeted “Welcome!”. At seeing him, Beta immediately sneered, saying “It’s the wannabe hacker”. “Now, now” Alpha stated “Be nice Beta-” but Beta scoffed, stating “If he’s a hacker he wouldn’t have gotten caught”. “After what we found can you blame them?” Alpha asked, looking at him and saying “Still. It is amateur hour to pick a fight with such a powerful organization”. “We don’t got mucha choice. We stumbled into their secrets” Nemissa retorted “Now… can ya help?”. “Of course we can… in fact, try logging back in. We already set it all up- oh right the card. Here” Alpha explained, as he tossed a card “We got you a clearance level that lets you access everything. Including their… ‘secret project’”. Raising an eyebrow, both Rin and Nemissa asked “Secret project?”. “Yes… we aren’t sure on the details, the level of security on that one was more than we could handle… but we gleaned some things before we were locked out” Beta stated “It’s apparently located in some ‘Ruins’ at a ‘Site C’. Further it is guarded by private security at all times… it’s also labeled as the location of all Algonsoft and Amami City servers”. Frowning, Rin asked “I see… and Amami City is built to transfer prana at high rates…”. Alpha asked “Oh… your a magus too? Welcome. I was unaware. Yes, you are right. We’ll look more but… how to put it… based on the codes we’ve seen, the Comp, and this… it would seem they’ve gone and recreated that most secret of wars all on their own, using an unknowing populace”. He noticed Rin’s deep frown as she stated “I see. Thank you for informing me. Anything else?”. With a shake of their heads, Rin said “Let’s go. I need… to talk about something with everyone. I have to now” and turned to leave. He followed and then Nemissa. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

A Time of Recollection




Arata

 

As he left he got a call on his phone. He used his new account to immediately make it untamperable but didn’t dig. It’d only attract attention and for the moment he wasn’t being watched. He set a program to alter the account on the fly if someone began poking. However this call was from Lunch, who yelled “Arata, get here now! It’s bad! They got Six!”. Before he could react, he had an address yelled at him and he hung up. Leaving hurriedly, he began to head for the car. “What’s wrong?” Nemissa asked as he stated “They got Six. I dunno the details, I just have an address”. Rin, frowning, asked “I see… Can I come too?”. “Yeah… no problem” he stated “You’ve been a big help. Having you help would be great”. Rin stated “I’ll admit that I do have ulterior motives… I want to see how comprehensive this ‘virtual world’ is… and if my magecraft works inside of it”. Nemissa stated “Worked jus’ fine for me… but yeah. I’ve grown a bit fond of you so I don’t mind you tagg’in along… is your servant coming?”. Appearing and nodding, Kuzunoha stated “Yes. I plan to accompany Tohsaka into this ‘Paradigm X’”. With that, they got into the car and headed for the base. 

 

Rin

When Nemissa transferred them, she gave out a shriek. As her feet touched the ground,  she slowly opened her eyes and felt amazed. As she stood there, she felt… odd. Like she had walked into a reality marble… but she knew she hadn’t. This place was certainly real, at least in the sense there was a logic that followed the normal rules of reality… it was Nemissa that broke them and allowed this sort of interaction. She was amazed such a thing was possible… and it convinced her that Nemissa was far stronger than she thought. While she couldn’t say it was definitely it, barely being aware of the barest of basics in regards to it, the ability Nemissa displayed touched the Second Magic to an extent. Yet, in a way, she could not say it was that. She didn’t know exactly the details but it felt less like transitioning between locations and more related to converting them to some form or another that made transition into this place easier and then reconstituting them… from what she knew, all on instinct. She wondered what sort of being she was to instinctively know such a thing. As she was about to vocalize her question Sanagi stated aloud “According to Lunch, Six is logged into the Haunted Mansion. Let’s go”. Nodding, she said “Understood… before we go, Sanagi… you’re more used to this. What is it going to be like?”. Looking at her, Sanagi responded “Well… the Art Museum allowed us to enter paintings… So here, I expect we’ll see things that are… ‘fantastical’. So be ready… oh! Also, due to the nature of this place expect phantasmals”. Eyes wide, she asked “Why…?”. “Prana rich…” Nemissa stated “Not sure how but thanks to  that phantasmals can wander in and out”. She frowned but said “Alright… well… Thank you”. With that they headed towards the theatre. However she prepared herself for nonsense. 

 

Arata

 

As they entered the theatre he greeted the NPC clerk and said “Hello, I’d like to go to the Haunted House”. Nodding, the clerk typed into a computer and the left door glowed, saying “Done sir. Have a nice day”. Moving to the door, he opened it. Like with the museum there was pitch black in the doorway. He entered it slowly, only hearing Rin protest at the end and turned as he was now in the haunted house. He was in a clearly run down foyer. The wood was rotten and even entire planks were missing. As Rin stepped through, Nemissa followed and said “See? Nothin’ ta worry about. Now… let’s see this ‘Haunted House’ and if it’s really haunted”. Chuckling, he stated “It’s not really haunted, just made to be scary-” but was interrupted as the door ahead opened. Stepping out was a four foot tall old man. He had a fine mustache and his wiry hair was arranged into a bob cut. The wrinkles on his face were deep. However despite his frail appearance the voice was young and powerful as he asked “Welcome to the virtual haunted house… are you prepared to gaze upon the abyss that is the human heart?”. Scoffing, Nemissa said “Of course. We’re ready”. 

 

Smirking, the man said “Everyone has memories. Memories that they bury… but sometimes, evil takes hold of those memories. It may seem ridiculous… but here, in this haunted mansion, you will see” and gestured to the door, moving aside “That gnawing feeling that comes from knowing your own demons”. Before they could move, the man held up an index finger as a gesture, saying “In fact such a demon has actually appeared in this very mansion…” before suddenly vanishing. Frowning, he said “... He’s probably an NPC but be careful…”. “What… What is an NPC?” Rin asked. “Non-player character” he explained “It describes the programs that operate to act like characters in a game… the clerk back there was an NPC. Most of the vanilla shops are run by NPCs”. “I see… okay I think I get it” Rin muttered as Kuzunoha and Bai Suzhen appeared, the latter saying “Master. We need to be careful… even if he’s this ‘NPC’ I sense he is a magus”. Frowning, he sighed and turned back, heading deeper inside. 

 

As they walked, the same voice stated to them “This mansion has a story you know. Long ago, let’s call our protagonist Boy A, Boy A is the one who summoned this demon”. The corridor seemed endless. He noticed Rin’s continuing growing anger. “Cunning, the demon changed its form and used it to ensnare the young man. Now, they reside here together.. Arbitrarily, I shall assign the name Shingo to the young boy” the voice told them, as Hitomi took over saying “Wait… that name… it’s-” but the man appeared before the next door, saying “You know him? What a coincidence… Do you know him or is he a stranger? A mystery you will need to unravel… Now come. Enjoy the tale of Shingo and the Bloody Puppet”. The man disappeared and the door opened. Ahead of them was a great hall leading to three pillars that were simply massive. They no doubt fit entire rooms within. A clock was mounted above each. As he entered, he looked at each and blinked. One had both hands at three, another had the hour hand at 7 and the minute hand at 6, and the third one on the right had both hands at 11. “What… is this…?” Rin asked as he wondered “I dunno… but the clocks are different… I think that’s significant”. “Indeed they are!” The voice boomed from behind them, making Nemissa and Rin shriek and jump away, the man appearing from a puff of mist from the floor as he stated “Those are portals to Shingo’s memories… deep within, lies a memory deeply important to the young man… if you would save him, you must find and correct these memories… but do hurry. Each moment he spends with the demon, the more his heart becomes frozen in time… in that vulnerable state so long ago…” and then disappeared with a brilliant flash. He covered his eyes and when he looked the man was gone. “Dammit!” Rin shouted “Can he stop that! It’s so creepy!”. “I mean… it’s the point” he stated, turning “We need to move… let’s go-” but Nemissa interrupted, saying “Let’s split up. Sanagi can lend me either his phantasmal or his servant… I’ll take the middle” and moved forward. Frowning, he responded “Nemissa we-” but Rin sighed, saying “She’s right… we don’t have time. If we can speed this up by splitting, we should… we owe it to Six”. He went silent for a moment before pulling out his Comp. As Otokaba appeared, he said “Follow Nemissa. Inform me if she orders use of a command spell… as until we meet again, I want you to consider her your master. We’re splitting up”. Nodding, Otokaba said “I would alter your words but I understand your spirit… of course, master. I will protect Nemissa with my life and fight alongside her” before turning and as a flurry of leaves followed her into the middle room. Turning to Rin, he asked “Which one?”. “I’ll take the left, you the right” Rin said “If I’m right… this is the best option”. Nodding, he said “Then… good luck” and turned. He headed for the right door and entered. 

 

Rin

 

She and Kuzunoha entered the first door. As she expected, a voice echoed out. She could tell it was the old man, but there was a different… tone. Instead of being booming and powerful, it was now soft and reverent. It said “If you had a choice to open a magic door to either the past or future, your choice, where would you go? Many would pick the past, changing the familiar…. Rather than jump into the uncertain”. Looking around, she listened as it said “Which did that boy open…? If you wish to know… proceed. The door to the past has begun!”. As it faded she sighed. This was going to be problematic. As she advanced Kuzunoha stated “There are approximately 20 phantasmals in this area… wherever we are”. Nodding she said “Thank you… how is this place? What is your estimation?”. “It… is unlike anything I’ve ever felt… it functions like a texture but it… isn’t. It’s weird… if I didn’t know any better they’re growing a texture rather than making and enforcing one” Kuzunoha explained “I’m unsure though… as all of this is only felt through instruments correct? If so then it cannot become a texture… it would be impossible”. Frowning, Rin wondered “Maybe that’s the point… have a texture but have it invisible to Gaia… it’s clever. I have no clue how they even came up with it…”. She absent mindedly flicked a gem towards a winged horse that burst out from a door and turned to them. As it impacted fire erupted from the gem rupturing the phantasmal before it became a problem. 

 

At the end of the hall she came upon a pair of doors. To her left along the wall was an ornate silver door and to her right was a simple but golden door. Looking between them, she stared as Kuzunoha stated “Master, the right has a bounded field. I can unravel it but-” however was stopped as Rin stated “Nevermind that. Let’s go left” and headed for it “We’re being guided, clearly… I’m inclined to believe it isn’t immediately malicious… still. Be on guard”. Kuzunoha, staring for a moment, nodded and followed her. As they walked through the halls, ignoring any door that had prana behind it she heard a new voice that sounded like that of a little girl saying “Shingo, Shingo!... Shingo? Where are you? You promised… You promised we’d be together forever! So… where’d you go?”. She frowned further as she continued. She did not like this… that was a voice she didn’t recognize and it was unannounced unlike the elderly man. Even if his voice appeared at random, they had seen him… who was this small girl? “Master… that voice… I sensed a presence nearby just a moment ago… it was the signature of a phantasmal”. Nodding, it confirmed her fears that indeed a phantasmal was using Six’s memories to form. However her deeper fear was that it was a Daemon. Such a phenomenon would be… dangerous for Six. However, if they could eliminate it then they could minimize the damage and interest in Six. However they needed to reach her… and she knew these mazes were the key. 

 

As she opened a door, one that had a different kind of prana from the rest, she entered it. Instantly she felt herself suddenly vanish and was in some kind of dark place. She moved and reached down to grab a gem but found none. “Wh-what?” she muttered but stopped as she noticed her voice was higher pitched than normal. Looking down she saw that she was not wearing the usual red and black that she favored but the red and white that she did as a child. Further… she realized she’d shrunk… or as the shoes she wore as a child indicated, had suddenly regressed. Yet as she stared she felt something appear before her. A very familiar bracelet. Before she could respond she felt a familiar feeling of powerlessness wash over her. Flopping to the ground she heard a voice she thought she’d never hear again. “Well, well, well… if it isn’t the brave little girl” she heard the silvery voice say. Looking slowly, as much as her body would let her even after pumping it full of prana, she saw him. That man. Familiar orange hair and a deranged yet calm face staring down at her, wearing a bracelet she was all too familiar with. “Now… let’s see… last time I had to deliver you right? Ah, but see I don’t have a servant this time… oh! But I have a master!... say, shall I take you to him…?” the man asked her. She knew his name now though. She had researched him on a whim out of curiosity, finding him to be a former master; Ryunnosuke. She tried to stand but her body only shivered in response. She couldn’t even fight as he grabbed her by the wrist and began to drag her. 

 

Nemissa

 

As she entered her side, she found herself faced with large fences around her… but too low to actually impede her. Otokaba was unimpeded, hovering around freely. As she hopped over one she heard a voice say “Tell me… have you ever delved into the sea of recollection?”. She recognized it as the old man. Looking around, she noticed a presence nearby. It was faint, very faint. Too faint to even call it a phantasmal.. But it was there. “No” she answered “I don’t have one to delve into”. “A pity… or perhaps a blessing… I see it as memories, floating within the mind… the sad times, the good times…” the voice said, silent for several minutes before saying “What did that boy see when he gazed into his own sea? It is the start of the Winds of Recollection!... Perhaps the sound within his memories will guide you to him…”. Frowning, she surged forward. Even as a slimy substance dripped down, forming a creature, she simply reacted by invoking her Bufu magecraft. An icicle formed from the mana in the air and surged at it, stabbing through it. It demanifested immediately afterwards. 

 

“Sister… if we stay here no one will find us… right?” she heard a boy ask. They sounded young, very young. “That’s right. If you stay here, you don’t have to go to school or the dentist! It’s our little secret though… no telling mom or dad, okay?” a young girl's voice said aloud. She didn’t bother looking as she could sense instinctively that those voices were simply set up by some sort of boundary. That boundary streamed the voices into her head and then vanished… she frowned and said “Your memories… huh Six? What… happened? Why is it all manifesting like… this?”. “Hmmmm?” Otokaba questioned as she responded “Just thinking… about all this. Wondering about its nature… and I’m worried about the answer”. “What do you think it is?” Otokaba asked as she responded “I… don’t think it’s a phantasmal.. At least… not like we define them now…”. Looking around, she said “It feels more… personal. Human… and attached” before heading down a hall. She sighed, and with a gesture and the utterance “Speer. Van. Ijs” an icicle formed and flew ahead, stabbing into the head of a skeletal butler rounded the corner. It shattered instantly and the body fell, dropping a candelabra before dissipating. 

 

“Why do you seem… agitated?” Otokaba asked as Nemissa said “I dunno… but I feel something… like… I’m not going to like what happens… next” before stopping and turning to a door. Turning back, she said “Be ready. I think it’s about to be ugly”. Turning to the door, she opened it and walked in while Otokaba silently observed her. As she walked in her sight blacked out. She knew she hadn’t passed out but it was simply that dark. Before she could say anything suddenly her vision came back. She was in the van. Looking around, she saw no one but heard it. Fire. She smelled smoke and fire. Leaping out she heard someone cry out no. Looking ahead she saw A badly injured Shirou, a banged up Tatsuya, a bloody Rei, the spookies in various states of injury, and…. Him. Dead. His dead, lifeless eyes staring at him. Blocking the sight of his body, she saw herself, kneeling over the body… or what remained. She didn’t see any legs, or feet for that matter. Rin, sitting near Shirou, looked at Nemissa and yelled “What the hell were you thinking, rushing her while she held a detonator!? Are you insane!?”. She saw herself yell back “I had to! She was going to either way! I-” but was interrupted as Spooky himself said “We could’ve hacked it Nemissa… it was wireless… but you… why…? Now he’s dead… and it’s your fault”. 

 

Staring, she felt something… unusual. On one hand the entire scene reeked of mana. It was being manipulated, used… yet… It was effective. She was rocked to her core. She couldn’t stop herself from feeling shock and pain. The pain of losing him… the one person- and she stopped thinking. She squatted and held her head as hitomi tried to react, yelling out. She tried to suppress her, herself, and everything. She felt, instinctively, that losing herself was dangerous. That she couldn’t lose control like this or there’d be consequences. Then she heard a voice. “Nemissa!” and felt something grab her shoulder. Jolting upright, she looked and saw Otokaba. They were before a door in a completely different stony hallway. As she looked around, Otokaba said “Good… you are well. I tried to reach you, but couldn’t… I had to invoke my power to… are you okay?”. “Y-yeah…” she replied, her voice shaking. She tried to reign it in but barely succeeded, asking “What… what happened…?”. “You suddenly moved, running forward. As you walked you began to get lower and lower, eventually crawling. I tried to awaken you from your phantasm but couldn’t… then you began crying” Otokaba explained “When we came to this door, I decided to use my tribe’s birthright power and force my words to reach you. I apologize”. She looked up at him and felt it. Something landed on her hands. Looking down, she realized her cheeks felt wet and her eyes felt irritated. She wiped it off, saying “S-sorry… give me a minute”. “Of course, Nemissa… I’m sure what you went through was traumatic” Otokaba replied, looking up and around, saying “I will keep watch. Take the time you need… I’m sure they will wait”. 

 

Arata

 

He awoke from his reverie. There with him, Bai stared down at him. He stared back, trying to gather his thoughts. Then, Bai said “You’re awake, master. Good”. “... Did I… pass out…?” he asked as Bai responded “No… well… in a sense. After we passed through the door, at the old man’s invitation and following our suspicions of the little girl's voice, you suddenly cried out for Nemissa… and then ran ahead. It was easy to follow but your hysteria was… worrisome”. Looking away and sitting up he said “I… sorry. I guess the stress-” but was interrupted as Bai stated “No… magecraft enchanted you. I do not know what you saw… but it must have been hard to elicit a reaction like that”. Silent, he remembered. He had seen her die before him… worse, he knew it was the future… After all, that place was odd. A mixture of ancient mesopotamian style ruins and modern machinery mixed within… and then he heard Nemissa say it was time to die. Looking at Bai, he stated “I… don’t know what I saw… I just remember seeing Nemissa look at peace and sayi it was time to die…”. Bai, frowning, said silently “The future… I see… so that’s it…”. He nodded, slowly, and said “Yeah… which means they are dealing with something themselves… still. We should get moving” before standing. Bai did too, saying “Understood. Let us proceed”. 

 

As he entered, he saw him. Six… but as a boy. The young boy held the head of a bloody doll, blood spilling from the stump at the bottom of the stairs, where he was. The boy looked terrified, yelling “P-p-please! Don’t tell anyone!”. “Wh-why…?” but the boy reacted, yelling “I-I wasn’t supposed to! The doll… it wasn’t supposed to break! It’ll die if it breaks!”. He felt a pit in his stomach form. He didn’t like that language… “Wh-why? Isn’t it-” but was stopped as the boy said “I… that’s big sister… we, we were just playing… and I… I accidentally pushed her… d-down the stairs…”. Staring for a moment, then looking down, he say the doll body was gone replaced by the corpse of a small girl he didn’t recognize. She looked a lot like the younger six before him. The puddle of blood beneath her and coming from her mouth indicated the simple truth. Then he heard a little girls voice say “You… are truly helpless aren’t you Shingo…?”. Then, suddenly, emerging from the darkness and catching the little boy as he passed out a little girl said “Are you surprised I’m here? Of course I am, Shingo… I made you a promise, big sister to little brother, to always be by your side… and I will fulfill that promise, no matter what”. He ran forward, yelling “No!” but was too late as the girl pulled Shingo, who he knew as Six, into the darkness. Then, suddenly, he was before the door. Looking around, he saw Rin waiting looking disturbed. “T-tohsaka… ah! I see… we’re back” he said to himself, the noise making Rin looking at him and say “Ah. Sanagi. You’re back.. We… need to talk”. It was then that Nemissa appeared, saying “Alright! Take that you shitty little girl!.... Eh? Where am I now?”. He only chuckled as Otokaba appeared with her. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

The Tale of Shingo and Erika




Arata

 

As they talked, the old man appeared. From seemingly nowhere. “Hello” the man greeted “The lady wishes to see you”. Looking, before they could respond the man said “It is not optional I’m afraid… but then you don’t intend to retreat, do you?”. “... You’ve been helping us so… yeah. It isn’t” he responded as Nemissa asked “Who is the lady?”. Looking at each he stated “You know. You’ve seen her… but I am silenced by my geas… now please. Follow me” before turning and walking. An invisible force ushered them along and he complied as did Rin and Nemissa. He recalled Otokaba into his comp to alleviate his circuits some. Then they began ascending. As they did he wondered about what disturbed Rin so much. Turning to ask, he stopped as he saw Rin look at him. Their eyes briefly met but he turned away deciding not to ask… he could tell she was trying to compose herself. He didn’t want to rattle it. 

 

As they ascended the tower, the old man was silent until they reached a mirror. Touching he said “Power has returned to the mirror… the sound of memories awoke it… with its power, you may yet free him… for its true form is revealed… Now go. Meet the lady… and decide his fate” before suddenly vanishing, leaving a pile of clothes behind. Looking at them, Rin stated “I thought that’s what it was…” before looking ahead “This place… it’s truly terrifying”. Looking at her, Rin stated “Kuzunoha… am I right in that we’re inside a texture right now?”. Appearing, Kuzunoha stated “It… is like a reality marble… but it feels… natural. I don’t know how to describe it other than a texture”. Looking, he asked “Texture…? I’m guessing that’s a term that means something else among magus”. Nodding, Rin explained “It refers to layers of reality. Each planet has them dictated by its own Type. However, ours is a little different. It’s not strong enough so it can’t actually control them at all… well, at least not explicitly. Right now, there are two we know about. The texture that humans belong in and the one phantasmals do… But for something to create one… and it be so stable for… five years was it?”. Shaking his head, he stated “It’s been in alpha for 1 year and it’s in beta at the moment... Been such for a week”. Looking around, Rin stated “Even so… a texture being this consistent for a prolonged period of time like a week… it’s impossible. Unless they’re cheating somehow…”. Thinking, he stated “It might have to do with the Amami Network… maybe something about it allows it”. Nodding, Rin replied “I agree”. 

 

“We’re here” Nemissa said as they passed through a set of double doors. Sitting and looking spaced out sat Six and before him was the little girl. They turned, their bright red eyes staring at them. “Ah… sorry big bro… I’ve got to take care of something… please, wait here” the girl stated as Six responded “Pl...please… Erik... a… how are… you… alive…?” slowly, seemingly struggling to speak. Suddenly a block of ice formed around him as the girl stated “Settle down… I’ll free you after… and then we can be together forever”. Looking back to them, the girl with teeth like a predator asked “Why are you doing this?”. “He needs to be freed” Rin stated “This isn’t healthy for him. Staying with you forever”. “What makes you say that?” Erika asked “I’m his big sister. I know what’s best for him”. Frowning, Nemissa asked “Are you? You-... no, you are aren’t you? Not her specifically… but…” and Rin finished with “You’re a Daemon aren’t you?”. Chuckling, the girl stated “So what I am…? I admit it. I formed from his guilt… but I’m not evil. I want to remove it. I can only do that here… so I must remain”. “Then you aren’t seeking to steal his soul for the Phantom Society?” he retorted as ‘Erika’ shook her head, saying “No. I do-” but was interrupted as Nemissa said “Well that’s what you’re doing. You’ve trapped his soul”. Looking distressed for a moment Erika retorted “You’re lying” but Nemissa said “Do you even know where you are? Amami City… specifically, in one of their programs; Paradigm X. The government has secretly been using it to steal souls. His family” at which point Nemissa pointed at and said “Has suffered twice to it. One attempt failed, the other succeeded. They failed to get his soul but almost succeeded in getting the soul of his younger sister… if it weren’t for him, his sister would dead and her soul claimed by the city”. 

 

“... Fine. So it is his soul… you’ll take care of him, right? I can prot-” Erika began but he stated “We can’t do that. He’s already a target… or will be. He needs it back, Erika… please. Release his soul and return it”. Staring, he knew they were at a stalemate. He knew she wasn’t willing to let it go… but she wasn’t going to attack. Finally, after 5 minutes, he sighed and asked “... You really won’t let him go, will you?”. “No… if I could leave, sure… but I can’t. It’s impossible… so I won’t” she stated. He frowned briefly but then had an idea. Before he could speak however, Rin stated “This is how it always is… Daemons are truly creatures that cannot be comprehended or negotiated with… I’m sorry, Sanagi, but we must kill her if we are to move on and rescue Six”. Looking, shocked, he asked “Wait, but can’t I-” but was interrupted as Erika shouted “Then it’s a fight! LUKOJE! GOGGIE! BUGS! HELP ME DEFEND MY BROTHER!”. Suddenly, from the ice, three figures emerged. A large furry insect with gnashing teeth and massive compound eyes on the left, a white ghost-like humanoid holding a pair of umbrella’s, and a teddy bear with a stitched up stomach and blood seeping from the stitches and mouth. He recognized one immediately. As he frowns, he immediately summoned Otokaba. Bai appeared and intercepted as Goggie rushed at him suddenly like a blur. Frowning he said “Otokaba! Incapacitate her! The other three don’t matter!”. “Yes, master!” Otokaba cried and surged forward, using a pair of concussive blasts to send Lukoje and Bugs aside. Then, white filled his vision. 

 

Rin

 

Frowning, she covered her eyes. As she looked she saw nothing of Otokaba. Erika’s outstretched hand was green and scaly now and she cursed, saying “D-dammit… stop making me use power! I’m losing myself!”. Frowning, she realized that Erika was powerful… and wondered about her classification. She wasn’t skilled enough in Daemonology to classify her beyond the clear indication. The fact she was so attached to Six made it very clear she wasn’t a natural phantasmal. She watched as vines sprouted from the ground around Kuzunoha and surged at Erika, who simply spared a glance before a ball of darkness formed between the vines and her. Rather than move on, all the vines twisted and started to get sucked in before being ripped from the ground. Almost like some sort of vortex. Then the ball shrunk and vanished. Frowning, she raised an arm to throw a gem but her eyes widened when she saw the icicles above her. Kuzunoha spawned more vines and pulled her to safety as they fell down at shocking speeds. 

 

“Urk… how is she so strong…!?” Rin growled, pulling out another series of gems. “Master, it’s this place! It’s filled with prana!” Kuzunoha exclaimed “She’s able to use her powers freely without restraint!”. Frowning deeply, she asked “Can servants?” to which Kuzunoha replied “Yes! Bai Suzhen is preparing her noble phantasm now!”. Looking at Nemissa, she yelled “Hey! Go all out! We have all the prana we need!” and then looked at Erika and said “Maybe if we cause enough of a ruckus, Gaia will notice and reject all this”. “One can hope, Master” Kuzunoha replied as she threw a trio of gems, each igniting with fire. Kuzunoha threw a series of acorns which exploded into spiky vines that reached for her. Erika used her power to summon more darkness to absorb the vines while icicles intercepted her gems, the explosions not reaching her. “We need to find a way to get closer…” Rin muttered, then looked at Six and smiled “Got it… Kuzunoha, cover me!” before running. 

 

Arata 

 

As Goggie floated towards him, he didn’t feel fear. He simply fired his gun, slowing its advance as it weaved through his gunfire. He didn’t draw his sword yet because Goggie wasn’t in close range and he didn’t want to see what the ugly caterpillar did at close range. Even so, he laid a trap; He had Otokaba wait nearby in spirit form until it came in and when he blocked with his sword Otokaba was to use his power to force it towards him while he went for a side step and counter. As it got closer with only a few of his bullets sinking in, the creature lunged at him. Pulling his pen out and yelling “JESSUP!”, he held his sword up defensively. However a different result that he expected occurred; a barrier flashed into existence and blocked the bug, filling its maw. Then Otokaba appeared, firing a concussive wave towards him. Rather than lunge forward it flipped head over heels, exposing its back to him. Taking a chance now, he switched from defensive to offensive, making the barrier drop and he slashed. It went clean through, cutting Goggie in two as it flew over him. Both halves dissipated. He saw Erika frown at him and say “Goggie died… dammit! Bugs! Take care of him!”. Laughing, the teddy bear rushed towards him. 

 

Rather than fire his gun he ran forward and Otokaba vanished. “Hit me with that attack… minimize the damage as much as you can but boost me!” he explained to Otokaba mentally, leaping towards Bugs. Bugs looked around, clearly weary of Otokaba. As Otokaba appeared he felt the concussive wave slam into him and launch him forward. As he slashed at Bugs it pulled out a skull and attempted to block it. Unfortunately for it, he broke through and cut its head clean off. He then curled up, saying “Jessup!” so that it was a pen as he landed and began to roll. When he stopped, Erika jumped away and avoided his slash as he began it, said “Jessup!”, and finished the motion with his full sword. “Annoying brat! Just let me be with my brother! Why can’t you let that just happen!” Erika cried as icicles formed around her and fired forward. Holding his sword defensively the barrier appeared. However to his surprise the barrier shattered after the third icicle and he dodged the fourth with it cutting through his side. He hissed in pain as he landed, Six between him and Erika. “Dammit” he muttered as Otakaba appeared and placed a hand on his side, healing him “I need to get close… she’s really strong”. “How…? She’s on guard… you can’t-” Otokaba began as Erika yelled “Get away from him!” but all they heard was her running towards them. Smirking, he said mentally “Otokaba… are you ready for another double-team?”. Otokaba nodded to him, replying mentally “Yes, master!”

 

Nemissa

 

She was fighting Lukoje. The damnable umbrella dual-wielding imp kept floating around her icicle attacks. When she tried shooting large swaths of balls of ice instead, its jump got wilder with its movements… yet she didn’t fail to notice that it was keeping its distance and it was being weary. Everytime it would try to counterattack by unleashing a ground-bound concussive wave she’d simply enhance her legs with prana and leap over it. They were still dancing now and there was a stalemate… further, she saw Erika’s power. It was huge. There was no way anyone present was going to overpower her except for Bai Suzhen’s noble phantasm but that took time to prepare. However she did have one ace up her sleeve. She could see what it was trying. It was simply building power between attacks. As such, as she now knew, if she waited for when it was about to attack she could predict when it was going to go down. Waiting for that moment, she prepared an icicle to fire. Then the moment of truth. She waited until it dived down, closing its umbrellas. With a flick of her wrist it was sent forth. However her trap was twofold. 

 

She leapt high using reinforcement like before, relying on her instinct, and once in the air yelled “Roma Grandor!” firing her spell forward. As expected the shockwave turned her icicle into a thin sliver that only made a grazing wound. As it moved to leap she had already intercepted it. Her blue beam of light blue energy flew out and collided with Lukoje. It could do nothing as it froze down to the bone as she sustained. When it fell, it shattered into pieces. Landing, she turned Erika and made eye contact. They stayed still and stared. Then, at the same time, both raised their hands and attacked. She fired her Roma Grandor while Erika fired a beam of yellow light. They collided and the repulsion of energies sent them both skidding back. She leapt to the side as another beam flew out almost seconds after and she ran for cover. She felt powerful but she knew that they couldn’t fight like this… after all, she hated to admit it but she was certain that Erika was connected to Shingo. She saw the thread of prana flowing between Erika and Shingo. She knew she needed to sever it. 

 

Arata

 

As he moved around, Nemissa distracted Erika as he needed her to. Then she ran for cover. He didn’t know how she knew what he needed but it worked. Erika stopped paying attention to him for a moment. He used it to sneak around Six while Otokaba spirit formed and moved into position. As he moved around slowly, he heard Erika yell “Come out spirit. I will use you as fuel to continue my existence so Shingo doesn’t need to suffer. With you I can persist for at least ten years… in that time, I can surely collect enough souls to last for eternity”. “Bite me!” Nemissa yelled “I ain’t lett’in some third rate demon eat me! I’ll die before then!”. Laughing, Erika replied “You’d die from losing your soul, dumbass! So die! Give me your soul and die-” but stopped as she turned due to him rushing and yelling “Jessup!” followed by attacking with a slash. Erika formed an icicle to block his attack, then pushed it away. Holding a hand to his chest, she said in a low growl “Nice try but… die”. Before she could do anything though Otokaba appeared and used a concussive attack to shove her forward… right as he moved out of the way, grabbing the hilt with the other hand, and continued his slash. However he saw something that made him hesitate. A look of genuine terror as his sword began to come down… which made him slow for a second, long enough to turn the deadly slash into a mere grazing scratch. 

 

Erika slammed into the ground, bounced off a few inches, then on the next impact rolled into a standing position. His sword slammed into the ground and he stared, making eye contact. Panting, he said “Erika… is there… truly no way… we can work this out?”. “N… no” Erika replied, panting herself “I’m a daemon. I cannot exist in the world outside… I’ll burn away outside this texture. There is no hope”. Staring, he asked “... What if we protected Shingo…? Helped him accept what happened?”. Blinking, she stared and asked “H… how could you-” but was interrupted as he said “I’m his comrade… he’s clearly hurting. I need to be there for him… it’s why I’m here. I thought a phantasmal working for the Phantom Society had stolen his soul… he’s in a state like my little sister was, according to his best friend Lunch”. Sighing and saying “Jessup” his sword became a pen, saying “Erika… there’s a lot going on. I understand now what’s going on… and so, I ask you release his soul”. Frowning deeply, she looked at Six, asking “That’s… his soul… but how? It’s so much like his body… I thought it was just him…”. Turning, he watched Nemissa and Rin approach, the latter saying “Good job Sanagi. We’ve pacified her…” as he turned, asking “Is there no way to bring her outside of here…?”. Rin, looking at Erika and then Sanagi said “As a daemon she is dangerous… if she possesses Shingo she will mutate and warp him. We can’t-” but Erika interrupted saying “No! I won’t! I love my brother I swear I won’t!”. Frowning and glaring slightly, Rin responded “I’m sorry. It’s just your nature. You can’t help it… why else would you freeze his soul?”.

 

Rin

 

Suddenly, Nemissa said “Just convert her”. Blinking and looking at her, she asked “Wh-what? What are you saying?” as Kuzunoha stated “I see… that is possible…”. Turning, she asked “What is she talking about?”. “A practice from long ago… you can shift the state of beings. Depending on the height it is difficult and takes a lot of prana, but…” Kuzunoha began as she finished “Here one of those problems is solved… the other comes down the magus performing its skill…” as Kuzunoha stated “Then it is no issue. I can perform it”. Looking at her, she asked “Can you…?” to which Kuzunoha stated “I prefer not to… but I have a special authority that practically will guarantee success… if Erika submits”. Looking at Erika, Erika asked “Wh-what state? If I’m not-” but was stopped as Sanagi said “A phantasmal”. Eyes wide, she asked “What?” and he responded “If she becomes a phantasmal, she can contract with me… and then I can transfer her to him when he gets a program himself”. Looking between them, before anyone could react, she stated “Sanagi. This has never been done before… we… if you do this, then-” but Sanagi stated “She was terrified… I can’t ignore that… but I understand the danger she represents… so let's remove it and give her what they need”. Looking at Erika, Erika stated “Then I agree… let’s do that… if it’ll let me stay with my brother…”. 

 

She hesitated… This was bad. If they did this, the clock tower would be all over it… but she realized something. If it was merely Kuzunoha doing it then that’d be an out… at worst, she’d be given a side-eye. Looking at Kuzunoha, she ordered “Kuzunoha… if you can, turn Erika the Daemon into a Phantasmal”. Nodding, Kuzunoha stated “Yes, master” before turning and saying “I must know, Erika. Do you consent to this alteration? I cannot guarantee painlessness… merely that I will ensure you live through it and to mitigate the pain as much as possible… but make no mistake, there will be pain”. Nodding, Erika, suddenly formal, said “I do… thank you” before sitting like a proper lady might. Kuzunoha suddenly transformed before them, growing 4 fox tails that were snow white tipped with cream-colored fur. Swishing them, they glowed brightly as vines surrounded Erika in a circle, forming an elaborate pattern around her. It was a wide circle and then pulsed with prana. “Before I do this” Kuzunoha stated, her voice echoing “Release the boy's soul. As is right and natural”. Nodding the ice shattered and Six vanished. Suddenly a trio of trees at three points around the circle grew as she said “Then… by my ancient vows, I, servant of the goddess Inari, do assert my mistress’ will in her stead and ask you, humble lifeform, to grow. Change. Evolve. As is natural of all things”. Kuzunoha circled the circle, fruit falling from the tree’s now as the tree’s began to glow brightly. Then white fur sprouted all over Kuzunoha as her pupils became slits she whispered loudly “Grow, little one… become strong, become new… so demands the Goddess Inari. I beseech your soul to grow”. 

 

All the while Erika screamed. Rolling around, clutching various parts of herself, she screamed. Not happily but in sheer painful agony. She could swear he saw her bleed at times but she noticed it. She noticed Erika slowly change. From merely a small girl to a teenager. She took on some of Six’s traits but undeniably she slowly changed from a daemon into a phantasmal. As she did, she could tell her nature was changing. By the time her servant was finished, Kuzunoha had shifted fully into being a kitsune. Moving into the circle, Kuzunoha placed a clawed hand on Erika’s shoulder, offering a fruit and saying “Finish it with a bite… become what nature always intended; A child of earth and life”. Erika, shaking, took a bite and groaned, falling over. With that action she saw the pale skin turn flush. Looking at her and reverting to her humanoid appearance, Kuzunoha stated “It is done… She has the same type of existence as Otokaba. Rise, Erika… please, tell us about your new self”. Looking up at them, Erika opened their eyes and stared at them with blue tinted red eyes. Instead of white there was blue and around the black pupils were red. “I… am Erika… I have no clan or tribe to call my own but… that’s fine. I have a different duty. I… need to protect the young man who formed me” the being stated as she asked “How?” and it responded “I may not be his sister… but I can be a confidant. Someone he can trust. At least that’s my hope. If I’m rejected… well… I’m sure Sanagi can figure something out”. Sighing, she muttered “Jeez… always something new....”.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27

The Phantom of the Society




Arata

 

The transfer was complete. Erika was registered as a phantasmal. It was then someone appeared. Turning, he saw Six’s avatar as it said “Yo… I understand you uh… saved my soul?”. Nodding, he said “Yeah… a Daemon noticed your guilt and made a form for itself based on it… but it’s handled. Though.. We need to talk”. Six went silent for several minutes, then sighed saying “Yeah… I… damn. I didn’t even think about that… It’s been a while since I… paid my respects…” looking around nervously before asking “So…? Was it… angry?”. Shaking his head, he responded “No… she just wanted to free you from it… and still does”. Looking shocked, Six asked “Then… she’s… it’s… they’re alive?”. Nodding, he said “Yeah… let’s just say her motives while well-meaning were… harmful. We offered an alternative she accepted… but she won’t force you to accept her”. Six looked a bit relieved, saying “I see… I’d like to talk to her once. However… not now. There’s something else going on. Sanagi… what’s your last name?”. Blinking, he said “I… rather not say here… but boss knows” and Six responded “Dammit… that alone makes it true…” as he asked “Uhhh… what’s going on?”. Looking right at him Six stated “Sanagi… There's a riot going on at Akane Mall right now… and Spooky said ‘his father’ was part of it. I asked for more and all he said was that he meant you… still. We need to deal with it now”. Before he could react Nemissa stated “Right… we gotta go then. Rin, Kuzunoha, you ready?” and both nodded as she took their shoulders and said “Six, we’re coming back in. Are you there now?”. Six nodded, saying “Yeah I-” and suddenly vanished. “Dammit! Hold on!” Nemissa yelled and he tensed as they transferred back to reality. 

 

As they appeared he smelled smoke. Running out, he quickly realized why. To his right Spooky was crouched down, arms held out to try to cover a collapsed Lunch and Six. Pulling her gun up and turning to his left, he saw a woman in a weird green-colored style of clothing holding an umbrella out. As she lifted it and looked at him, the woman stated “Oh bother… I hoped to eliminate these insects before backup arrived… Too bad. I’ll kill you too and-” but was interrupted as Rin stepped out, looking furious and asking “Mayone… what are you doing?” in a monotone voice. Staring in shock, Mayone began to respond “Ah, lady Tohsaka, I-” but was cut off as Spooky yelled “Watch out, Rin! She’s phantom society!”. “L-lies! These men are-” but were stopped as Rin stated “I wondered how this place escaped notice for five years… but it makes sense. If such a respected, political teacher of the Clocktower were secretly taking orders from the society, then they could distract the higher ups easily…”. Snarling, Mayone stated “Then you know… no matter, I’ll just kill you all. I still need some time but it doesn't matter!” and with a twirl of her umbrella five phantasmals appeared. Two small fireballs, a floating purple mirror, A dragon-shaped stream of water, and then some sort of yellow energy encased by rock. “D-dammit!” Spooky yelled “Get back!” as the earthen creature raised its hand. Instantly his servant reacted by appearing and with a quick slash of her claws severed the hand. Screaming it moved away but Bai slammed her fist into the center of the creature, saying “You will not harm my master” before ripping out some sort of crystal. The creature fell away at that, revealing Mayone’s glowing umbrella as she said “Oh, thank you. Saved me the trouble of moving” as a bolt of lightning lashed out and struck Bai, making her scream. However Kuzunoha interfered from somewhere as vines shot up forming a wall. He pulled out his comp and activated his summoning program. 

 

Instantly Otokaba appeared with Erika. Six looked at him and then Erika, looking shocked as he stated “Erika… you don’t have to fight. I-” but was interrupted as Erika stated “I know… I’m here because I can give an advantage to ensure compliance” and raised a hand saying “I did keep some of my daemon powers… such as Rejecting the Common Sense of Man. Watch” and with a pulse of power that washed over their enemies, he saw the summoned phantasmals vanish. He noticed the particles of prana flow back into the umbrella with Mayone looking utterly confused. Before she could respond the vines parted as Bai rushed forward and grabbed her by the neck and a hand and he flinched when he heard a bone snapping sound and the agonized scream of Mayone. “I’m currently filled to the brim with prana I took from Paradigm X… so behave and you may live” Bai warned as something clattered on the ground. Looking, Six’s eyes widened and standing quickly he yelled “Wait! That’s a detonator! She’s trying to blow something up!”. Spooky stated “Yeah… over… there” and pointed. Looking he saw a small fireball working on something. “Otokaba!” he yelled “Stop it!”. Instantly it appeared and a concussive wave sent it flying. “You’re too late! If it’s there, then my work is done! The ignition is lit and-” but was silenced as Bai slammed her head first into the ground. There was no obvious injury but the twitching suggested she passed out. 

 

Turning to the bomb, Bai yelled “Everyone run! I’ll dispose of it!” before running over and grabbing them. Turning, she bolted deeper into the garage. Spooky stood quickly and helped Lunch and Six to the trailer, saying “Sanagi, Rin, get on we’re going!”. With a nod he and Rin retreated to the trailer leaving them. Erika and Otokaba returned to his comp as Spooky began the trailer. “We need to hurry!” Six yelled “If they’re plastic explosives, we’re within blast radius while in here!” to which Spooky yelled “I know! I’m taking off, hold on!” and floored the pedal. The entire trailer lurched forward as they began speeding up rapidly. He made turns excellently only causing minor damage as soon the exit was in sight. “C’mon, C’mon…” Sanagi prayed, Nemissa saying “Can’t this go any faster!?” to which Spooky said “No! Too fast and we’ll jump the hill! That’s-” but was silenced as suddenly an explosion rang out. Suddenly their speed increased and they went from 50 mph to 65 and the whiplash sent him flying back. Rin and Nemissa reinforced themselves and withstood but he didn’t. Yet despite the explosion and the skidding sound of the brakes they did not crash. As he turned onto the street and parked, Spooky groaned. Lunch did too, coming too. “Wha’s go’in on…?” Lunch asked as Rin answered “Mayone went rogue and tried to kill us… depending on what Bai did, she’s probably-” but was interrupted as Bai appeared, saying “Dead. I had no time to retrieve her body… not that I planned to. I ran as far up as I could but I couldn’t reach the roof… I had to drop it and spirit form to escape the blast”.

 

“Tsk…” Rin reacted, saying “A pity. I’d have liked to study her crest… oh well”. Looking at her, Six stated “You seemed awfully familiar with her… why?”. “She’s a teacher at the Clocktower… well-respected too” Rin replied nonchalantly “It’s a bit surprising she’s a turncoat but in the end she’s dealt with”. Frowning, he asked “Why… are you so unbothered…?”. “Simple… she was an enemy magus working against the interests of magus as well as trying to kill us” Rin stated “Nevermind the truth all Magus know. She’d be unfit to be one if she didn’t abide by herself. ‘To be a magus is to walk with death’. It’s just a fact”. Sighing he stepped out, asking “What now…?”. “We split up. We’ll regroup later on… Six, Lunch, with me… Rin-” but was stopped as Rin said “I’ll regroup with Shirou… he and Tatsuya should have an update”. Nodding, Spooky said “Oh that reminds me… we’ve got extra support. She was out when this all happened because she wanted to get a hotel for her stay. I’ll give her a call on our way to our new location… oh, how do I contact you if I need to?”. “Shirou has a cellphone. Call him when it’s time. Goodbye, for now” Rin replied, turning and leaving. Turning to him, Spooky said “I’d offer a ride but I’ve gotta ride alone with them… that said, I’ll order a smart car. Should help confuse them”. Nodding, he replied “Thanks. See ya soon”. Spooky nodded and got into the trailer with Lunch and Six, taking off. Turning, he looked at Bai saying “Thank you, Bai. You saved us back there”. Shaking her head, Bai replied “I simply acted in your defense of my master. The advantages I had over another were simply greater and thus the natural choice”. Laughing, Nemissa replied “I guess… but still. Doesn’t mean what you did wasn’t good. So thanks. Glad none of our guys got on the chopping block”. 

 

Tatsuya

 

He… didn’t like the look of it. As he stared at the distant smoke cloud, he heard a voice nearby ask “Something wrong?” as he replied “Yeah… pretty sure that’s where the spookies were holed up” as Shriou said “It was… what happened?”. Looking back, he said “Hey, lady. You got the goods?” to which the woman wearing a white fur coat replied “Yes. Sukeroku has confirmed the integrity of the crest and secured it… he’s enroute to secreting it away”. “Good… then I’m free, correct?” Bazett asked to which the fur coated woman replied “You are but remember, McRemitz that the association and us are still allies”. Shaking her head, Bazett stated “No. I am investigating this city, not you… as I understand it a large-scale conspiracy to expose magecraft or cause something that would is underway… from what has been explained and what I witnessed, expecting a small magus family, no matter how well-reputed, like the Kuzunoha to handle it is… silly”. Turning to the city, Bazett stated “I will report my findings accurately… that said, you. Tatsuya was it?” before looking at him and saying “I can generally guarantee no one will tangle with you. Fighting a magician is foolhardy and most magus has a good enough head to know not to bother… but be careful. There are plenty of senseless fools” to which he laughed, replying “Eh, it’s fine. I kinda got that I’m not supposed to know”. Nodding, Bazett stated “If you did not have that outrageous power I’d attempt to hypnotize you. However that very power makes you part of the moonlit world… you and your allies. Still, be careful”. Nodding, he replied “Yeah… oh, and look inta the spookies. They’ve got some good intel. More than me or Shirou can give, seeing as we aren’t as deep in as them”. With a nod, Bazett rushed into the city. Turning back, he asked “We done here? We should go make sure everyone’s still kick’in”. 

 

???

 

Sitting in a dark room, a man sipped on his wine. Attending him was a rather tall Italian man wearing a butler's outfit. Suddenly, the seated man asked in a thick norwegian accent “Gorspelli… tell me… what do you project will happen?” as he flipped the page of a magazine he was reading. Gorspelli watched the news with his master, the only source of light, for a few minutes before responding “I predict the Spookies survived… The blast was higher than estimated and the blast occurred ten seconds after expected…”. Looking away to a curtain and moving he continued, saying “No, they survived. I expect Mayone is dead. After this, their youngest member, Tsukamoto, will go to the riots with that spirit, Nemissa, and quell the riot” and opened the curtains to let moonlight stream in, continuing his prediction “From there they will discover the truth behind our technology and seek to completely destroy our organization for crimes against humanity”. Looking at him, the seated man stated “I see… then our countermeasures are obvious. Gorspelli, order eyes to return here. Have Left take on his duties in Amami City… oh and how are his command spells?”. “Dwindling” Gorspelli reported “He put in a request for more a week ago. Shall I approve them?”. With a nod, the seated man stated “Yes. He will need them… oh, and while we’re at it take Ravana from Finnegan. That man has proven inadequate. Instead, have him summon a new servant with no catalyst. Let fate decide his partner”. Nodding, the butler turned and said “Yes, sir… for the Society” and walked away. Heading to a nearby telephone he picked it up and whispered “Ujit” and after a brief glow of prana transfer a voice asked with a hiss “Yesssss?” to which he replied “Send the following messages to, in order, the Eyes of Phantom Fantasma, the Left Hand of Phantom Maurice Doreal, and Finnegan. Fantasma is to return to Headquarter on standby, Maurice Doreal is to head to Amami City to provide assistance for the final steps of the Amami Project, and Finnegan is to hand over Ravana to Nishi and then summon a servant with no catalyst”. Laughing, the being on the other end responded “Well, well… of course. Payment is expected of course but we can collect another time… tata”. Hanging up, Gorspelli made a note and placed it down before moving on to other duties… After all, the promised day was coming. They had to be ready to move so they could enter the fortified Amami City when the association inevitably lashed out. 

 

Fantasma

 

He sat on a train in his human form. As a Pseudo-Phantasmal he could switch between the two, though the latter required prana to enter as the world and the Common Sense of Man rejected him. He was alone, as usual, so that in the event of receiving orders none would witness magecraft, nevermind their method of message transference. If humans say it, the shock would either kill or implant permanently into their psyche. This method was less a strict requirement however and more a cautionary one as while he had no problem killing humans he viewed it as wasteful. There was no point in slaughtering unripened fruit and if they were to rule they had to have subjects. As he thought this, they were validated as instantly he felt a pull on his circuits. From within him prana flowed out and coalesced into a solid form. Before him fluttered an impish form, red wings and forked tail. Its red eyes focused on him as it stated “Fantasma, Eyes of Phantom… There is a message from the Voice of Phantom, Gorspelli. You are relieved of your current assignment and are to head to Headquarter to assist”. Nodding, he replied “Understood… inform Gorspelli I will reroute as soon as possible… oh, and inform him that the trap was a success. Kyouji Kuzunoha is dead”. Nodding, the imp stated “Understood… oh, and payment?”. Sighing he held out his arm. He only winced as a piece of it was sheared off as it bit down and devoured part of it. He pumped prana and utilized his unique makeup to heal immediately. He stared as the imp swallowed the bloody meat and said “Thank you. Have a nice day” before turning into particles and entering him. Sighing he watched his arm regrow. “Such pests… I’ll be glad when we’re rid of the vermin” he muttered. He always hated those weak bugs. The audacity they had to demand flesh from a phantasmal of high standing like him was unimaginable in the reverse side… yet here, they could do as they pleased. Looking out, he muttered “Then again… I too am freed from that oppressive system. I suppose it should be no great shock”. Yes… the reverse side of the world, compared to the modern world of man, was far, far too oppressive. Too many kings and too many subjects and too many disagreements. 

 

Maurice

 

He was writing. He had been. He had books to release once he confirmed his existence as per his contract with the Phantom Society. He was promised, upon completion of the Amami Project and the achievement of the Phantom Society’s ultimate goal for world domination. He found the idea abhorrent but he had the book of Thoth. Once he was freed from their clutches, he could use it to outlive their current leader and arrange a proper one to undo the domination. However, to accomplish anything, he needed one thing. The Manitou Network to be successfully and fully completed. Even in its current state, it wasn’t fit to be a ‘grail’ and so could not produce enough prana for all servants. Once it was complete though, servants and him wouldn’t need masters. Stopping for a moment he looked at himself in a nearby mirror. He was much younger than when he was recorded… and he knew why. He was far too young of a servant to be properly summoned. As such he needed a body when he was first summoned by the Brain of Phantom. They had one prepared though… a homunculus based on him. One masterfully made and lacked many of the normal problems… after all, they never specialized the homunculus to do anything other than have a long life and acceptable magic circuits for him. A failure of a magus in life, who only became famous by forming a pact with a heroic spirit while they were within the throne. Such an act broke the normal rules of magecraft and reality. Turning to a book, he stared at its green cover. The thing that allowed him to forge a legend and be recorded. The book of infinite knowledge. His noble phantasm. Before he could act, he felt the pull on his body's circuits as prana formed into a living bolt of electricity. It was a messenger from the Phantom Society. “Orders from the Voice of Phantom Gorspelli. Maurice Doreal, you are to head to Amami City and oversee the final stages of the Amami Project… that is all. Now my payment?” the living electricity relayed as he replied “Understood. No updates on my end is my reply… and Gorspelli will pay for me, as per our agreement”. The creature nodded, turning back into prana and entering him, using him as a portal to the Reverse Side. Sighing, he looked back in the mirror and tried to get rid of his expression of fear. After all… hijacking magical circuits, small pathways to the root, to allow weak phantasmals to form and be messengers… how insane would a magus have to be to allow that?

 

Finnegan

 

“So… Ravana indeed is in the society’s care now?” Nishi asked, staring at him. Ravana stood nearby, frowning. Nodding, he stated “Yes. I’ve been ordered to by my superiors”. “Then what will you do? Surely you don’t expect to fight a magician, two masters, a former master, two servants, backed by people well-integrated into modern society” Nishi questioned as Finnegan responded “They ordered me to summon a servant without a catalyst so I wouldn’t be defenseless… It's a test for my title, `The Right Hand of Phantom’. I must accept or be killed”. Chuckling, Nishi stated “Such loyalty… but befitting. Understood. He’s registered. He will be assigned a proper master… or left as a free agent as befits the situation”. Looking at him, Ravana said “I do not approve but you are the master… still. Do not request me”. Finnegan nodded, saying “I understand, prideful king of Lanka… Thank you for abiding by the decision… then again, it benefits you, no?”. Nodding, Ravana stated “Yes… this was I will meet Rama and we can have our duel. Goodbye, former mas-... no, Finnegan. One day, we will fight” before turning and leaving. Looking back at Nishi, the man offered “Use my office. I’d like to see a summoning myself… if it’s okay that is”. He nodded, turned and held a hand out. He threw prana out to form an impromptu summoning circle. His other hand threw a few gems out to make the points. “Gems…? You’re a jewel magus?” Nishi asked as he stated “Somewhat… Truthfully, I’m a very traditional magus. Those two are more recent additions to my arsenal”. Moving to the circle he began the chant, and as he finished a glow emitted. However he frowned. As he stared at the figure before him he saw a mere homunculus. “Is this… a mistake…?” he asked as the figure stood from its kneeling position and said “No… I’m sorry master. I truly am hopeless…” as Nishi said “A voyager… a rare class…”. Turning, he growled a bit and said “How did you know that?”. Laughing, Nishi stated “Nothing of your concern. Still, why are you so displeased? With an unusual class they cannot properly prepare”. Looking at Nishi he stated “If you could see what I do, then you’d realize what the problem is… this Voyager is Moowis and he’s weak”. Sighing, Nishi stated “Oh… well do what you will. After all, it's a test. If you fail… you have no right, no?”. Glaring, Finnegan sighed and said “That’s true… Moowis, let’s go. We have a couple of humans to hunt”. “Yes, sir!” Moowis responded, vanishing into spirit form. He left, upset that he got such a weak servant… he wondered, was his quality as a master that bad? That he needed a catalyst to win?

Chapter Text

Chapter 28

Black Friday




Arata

 

He leapt out of the car. He didn’t have his gun nor did Nemissa. In fact he had noticed that she ditched them entirely. Her gun and weapon. He didn’t question it however. He trusted her Just as he trusted her to have his back as he went into the riot. Most of the rioters, while angry, seemed to have more of a focus on property damage than violence against others. As he ran by a scared woman, he stopped and asked “Ma’am! Have you seen my father? He’s-” but stopped as the woman said “Y-your father!? He’s part of them? Just leave! I was shopping peacefully so please just stop!”. Frowning, he turned away, saying “I can’t stop them… run miss. I don’t think they’re in their best state of mind”. The woman started running after a few moments and as he predicted none of them reacted. ‘Master, these rioters… they are coordinated. I can spot ten different humans that make motions and the others follow’ Bai stated as he asked “Then if we take them out, it’ll stop?”. ‘I believe so… here they are. Conferring with Nemissa’ Bai suggested as he asked “Nemissa… do you see-” but stopped as Nemissa said “I have… these folks are being controlled. Ten guys are the commanders”. He was about to turn to one to go check them when Bai asked loudly nearby, appearing “Commanders…?” as with a nod and a point above the mall she replied “Yeah. Prana threads connect them all… and the primary ten have threads going behind the mall”. “I’ll check it out… protect my master” Bai stated, vanishing. Nemissa chuckled, saying “Well guess I’m your date then” as he felt his face redden, asking “This is your idea of a date? Dude why?” and with a laugh Nemissa responded “Dude, chill it’s a joke… or do ya want it ta be one?”. Looking away, he sighed, saying “Man… that was mean”. Nemissa laughed, saying “Don’t worry. It’s not like ya ain’t a catch… jus’ not the time. Now… see your pa? I can prolly free ‘im”. Looking around he couldn’t see him. ‘Bai, did you notice my father?’ he asked as Bai responded ‘Yes… to your left 20 yards’. Looking, he stared and then saw it. 

 

“There!” he shouted, pointing. Nodding Nemissa held a hand out. He watched the circuits crawl along her clothing and then… nothing. At least at first. Looking at his father he realized something was happening. His father whipped around and ran at them, yelling incoherently. Yet before he got within 5 yards of them he collapsed and Nemissa stated “There… It's severed. That thread is cut”. Picking him up he moved his father and laid him on a bench, saying “Thanks, Nemissa” to which they responded “No problem… Let's just finish this. The longer this goes on the worse things get and the more exposed to danger he is”. Nodding, Bai appeared and said “I have confirmed that there is a presence behind this… they are in a basement floor of a warehouse fenced off… the only way in is through the mall”. Looking at it, he noticed something. It was completely unharmed. “I see… let’s proceed with caution. Something is wrong…”. Both Nemissa and Bai nodded as they entered the mall, leaving the riot outside behind. Pulling out his comp, he summoned Otokaba yet Erika appeared. “Erika. Why are you coming out?” He asked “It’s dangerous”. “I’m a phantasmal master… if something happens to you, then I will be forced to the Reverse Side of the World. That cannot happen” Erika retorted as he hesitated but said “We did have an agreement. I’d rather keep it… so fine. If your offering your power of your own free will… then Erika, help me”. Erika smiled and said “I thought you’d never ask… then, master, let’s do this” before turning slowly inside the mall, saying “To be clear… my power as a phantasmal residue in ice, darkness, light, and rejecting the established laws of man. So I’m sure to be of help”. Nodding, he said “Good to know. Now… tell me… what about those?” he asked, pointing as several large skeletons materialized. “Phantasmals… gashadokuro specifically. It would seem like the interior… no… everything from the door to the warehouse is covered in a ‘Field’... an enemy is here”. Bai rushed in immediately. 

 

Ginko

 

As she drove out of town, Ginko sighed, saying “Sukeroku… call the Clock Tower. Inform them that we will be returning to the fold”. Looking in the rearview mirror, he asked “May I ask why?” as she responded “Of course… and it’s because of this situation”. Looking at her seriously, Sukeroku asked “What about it makes you choose to-” and she replied “Our purpose was resisting the phantom society. It is why we formed. We were offered a spot in Clock Tower so long as we provided something meaningful to the organization… obviously, our connections would do”. Looking back through the mirror now, she listed those connections aloud “Pseudo-True Ancestor Victor Frankenstein, Dead Apostle Mary Frankenstein, Magihacker brothers Alpha and Beta, Descendent of the sword maker Muramasa, and of course the Divine Spirit that provides us our boons”. Glaring, Sukeroku stated “You’d really offer that?”. Nodding, she stated “They’ll study it on Rei’s terms. She oversee’s the spirit after all. I am not privy to how her foundation works”. Sighing deeply, Sukeroku stated “That’s how we set it up… we know the basics of each others foundations… your foundation works on borrowing power from the clan, mine was related to summoning, and hers is related to the divine spirit that protects this clan…”. Looking at the road, she stated “Yes… but that all is meaningless. We can’t control this region, it’s been wrested from us by the society. As such, our only choice is to us our connections to buy a spot in clock tower… if our clan is to survive”. Shaking his head, Sukeroku stated “Nothing to it then… still… who to make the ‘Summoner’? That boy already has formed a bond with Urabe’s magic crest, whether he knows it or not…” as she replied “Hmmm… we’ll find one. Perhaps clock tower has candidates”. Looking out, Sukeroku stated “If the plan back then had worked, I could replace him… or I’d be the one who died then… but now... “ and sighed deeply. Looking away she sighed internally. It was frustrating but she simply had to do this… if she didn’t, her family would be blamed and killed. She only hoped that the kids were ready for the coming storm as Sukeroku said into a phone “Yes… I understand. Things have fallen apart however… the Kuzunoha formally request to enact the Pact of Sume. In exchange for utilizing our connections, we would like the protection of the Clock Tower. I just sent a comprehensive list of people we have direct contact with… Yes. It is 100% accurate”. She frowned at her family’s second biggest secret being outed… how well-connected they were. 

 

Arata

 

He smashed his sword into the skull of a fallen over 15 meter tall skeleton as Bai’s claw smashed anothers. Erika used her rejection powers to banish another. Looking left, he saw Otokaba using its concussive waves to destroy more that were coming as well. Nemissa had tried to use her ice powers but it deflected off their bones and around the room. Her dark orbs also did nothing to them. No options left, he gave her his gun and used his sword. Looking around he still saw more coming from the darkness. “We need to end this… more keep coming!” he stated as Bai stated “It’s the ‘Field’! It’s providing them with enough prana to exist! If we dispel it, we end this because they’ll be forced to flee back to the Reverse Side of the World!”. Erika looked around, asking “Bai, were there any summoners in the mall?” to which Bai replied “No!” and he stated “Then something must be anchoring it! We need to find and destroy it!”. Nemissa, turning, said “I can do it! Let me follow the lines!”. Nodding, he turned and started to follow her, the group moving to. It was a desperate struggle. The skeletons were practically endless. However, Nemissa suddenly stated “I’ve got it! One of the pillars! It’s the lynchpin! If I have more time I can tell which!”. He frowned. Now there were at least thirty with more appearing from the shadows. Even with Bai destroying at least one every minute, that was a minute that three more entered. Glaring at one of them, he rushed forward and ducked under it as it swiped its claw. He then slashed through the bone, destroying its only left-side support, and then turned and slashed through the skull. “There!” Nemissa cried out “Bai, attack there!” pointing at one support pillar 15 meters away. Turning, he saw Bai stab two parts of her legs and say “Kaisu Bujin” and suddenly became a blur. He felt a slight pull on his circuits but not enough to impact his performance. 

 

As he was sent flying after defending with his sword, the barrier it produced absorbed most of the blow, and Otokaba sent it and others back with a concussive wave while Erika banished another set. However, Things were getting dire fast… then he heard it. A smash. Instantly he felt a large tug on his circuits as the prana vanished. Pulling his comp out, he stated “B-back in… hurry!”. Both nodded and turned into prana, retreating into the Comp itself. However he saw a shadow loom over him. Looking up he saw the skull of a skeleton descending. Before he could react he felt himself being grabbed. “N-no!” he screamed, trying to free himself… he couldn’t. Its grip was too strong. “Arata!” Nemissa/Hitomi yelled, leveling the rifle and firing. They aimed at the skull for a second but stopped as he got closer. He struggled… and then fell as the jaws snapped shut inches from his face. A second later he was pried free by Bai Suzhen and then launched towards Nemissa, who caught him. Turning, Bai slammed her claw directly into the center of the skeleton's skull, destroying it. It burned away into mere prana. The other skeletons began crying as they began to burn away due to the prana they relied on vanishing. Panting, he looked at Nemissa and said “That was… close…”. Nodding, she stated “Y-yeah… let’s hope… that was it… for surprises”. Smiling, he stood up and looked around before saying “Let’s… move on.”. With that, they headed for the back.

 

Rin

 

As she sat with Shirou in their workshop, she had begun researching something. Their computer. She had Shirou, who had returned with Tatsuya, examine each piece. She wanted to know which part allowed access to the texture that was Paradigm X. After all, most computers she had seen allowed access with a login. There had to be some spell that enacted a portal, however small, to do so. That or there was some connection to the texture itself, a prana pathway of sorts, akin to how magical circuits were pathways to the root if small. The question of Nemissa travelling to the root through a magus could be asked but she’d never admit it… after all, it’d effectively mean that Hitomi, as a newborn magus, could accomplish the dream of millenia of magus in under a week. Such a thought infuriated her, irrationally so… yet she still considered Hitomi innocent. From what it sounded like, Nemissa was a daemon but of someone else… and the magic circuits she was developing were proof of that. Yet there was nothing she knew to do. Nemissa was a very strong daemon, potentially even on the level of a True Daemon… something that would potentially cause a catastrophe in its own right. Yet these thoughts were just concerns for the future. For now, she wanted to investigate the texture. She already guessed all of it was connected to the network of Amami City. However its purpose was unclear. Sure, it allowed the quick transfer of prana but clearly something more was going on. 

 

For example, why was a particular illness spreading and all the victims still logged in? That provoked some worrying thoughts… especially after she had reports that they were deprived of prana. This meant that essentially their souls had been stolen. However there was another factor… the movement of phantasmals. They existed there yet were rare. Did that mean that it was controlled? Why weren’t there more if the texture could support them? Yet the most disturbing fact… the mana levels. She hated to admit it but they were unlike the real world. If Amami City had gotten the approval of the Wandering Sea, a group dedicated to the Age of Gods, then “Wait” she muttered, ending her thoughts and looking at the piece Shirou was examining. She then looked back at the part she was disconnecting. The Wandering Sea… a magus group dedicated to practicing and returning the Age of Gods to return glory to magecraft. “I figured it out” she said aloud. Looking at her, Tatsuya asked “What?” and she replied “I don’t know how deep… but I figured something out. Beyond Clock Tower being betrayed, the entire association might have been… after all… the texture I entered had the same reported levels as from the Age of Gods”. Frowning deeply, Shirou asked “Are you sure?”. With a nod Tatsuya asked “Errr… what’s that?”. “The age of gods” Rin responded “Is when mana, the external prana a magus utilizes, was at its highest along with mystery, the foundation of most magecraft… while I can’t confirm if it’s got the latter, the former is met… there’s one group in particular that would want this a lot”. Looking at her, confused, Shirou asked “Who?” as she groaned and stated “Shirou, did you forget already? It was one of my first real lessons to you after the war… the Wandering Sea” as Shirou responded “Oh, right… I remember now. They’re the group obsessed with the Age of Gods… while the Atlas Academy is obsessed with preventing a bad future and alchemy”. Nodding, she stated “Yeah… with this knowledge, I’m not wondering if the Wandering Sea isn’t involved”. “Sounds like it… but isn’t it possible they’ve just got a rogue agent? Like with the Clock Tower?” Tatsuya asked “If I’m not off-base. After all I’m new to all this and I don’t intend ta mire myself much… though can’t say the same for Ulala and others” as the woman mentioned glared and said “I don’t care thank you very much. I’m just here because of the possibility of Nyarlathotep”. Looking at her, Rin finally asked “About that… what is that all about?”. 

 

“Well… we’ve got time. So why not. I’ll spill” Tatsuya stated, looking at Rin and asked “Tell me… whaddya know about humans?”. Raising an eyebrow, she responded “Enough… why?”. “Well… I’ll start here. When I was graduating, a certain incident occured in my hometown, Sumaru City. Basically, a home-born company discovered an energy source called Kagere… and before they could mass-produce and mass-utilize it, we outed it as terrible” Tatsuya explained but then got quiet, saying “The truth is, that rumors were making Kagere reality… and it led to a conflict with the organization ‘New World Order’... generated by rumors”. “Damn… sounds rough” Shirou stated “Why didn’t we hear of it though?”. Looking at them, Tatsuya stated “About that… how to put it… once we took care of the problem, the world corrected itself. Made things as they ‘should be’... of course, that also meant thrusting the bastard behind it beyond my reach. Outside the world… Nyarlathotep”. Rin frowned but let Tatsuya continue, saying “See… he only was able to do such because he never manifested in reality, always in someone's subconscious… cause he’s the destructive, negative, evil impulses of all humans. Magus too, because one of his inner circle was definitely a magus. Had the same circuit lines, the same philosophy as Rin here, and even complained about a lack of mana”. Ulala spoke up, saying “You’re taking too long… basically the whole thing happened because Nyar’s opposite also intervened, through me and my friends. We fought and eventually reached Nyar and through our actions ended the situation… then lughead here inherited the memories and power of his alternate side self before he left and vowed to destroy nyarlathotep once and for all”. Frowning deeply, she was piecing something together about the magician pair before her. She asked “This opposite… How did he do it? Give you this power?”. “Oh, simple. He simply gave us the power to manifest our souls… What was the line…” before Tatsuya stated “No. We don’t share that… Tohsaka, you said sharing magecraft is dangerous. Can you promise that sharing it will result in no backlash?”. She hesitated but responded “You’re right. That was a reckless question. I just-” but stopped as Shirou said “That particular kind of magic… is personal to us. So please, forgive her and my curiosity”. 

 

Looking between them, Tatsuya asked “... There’s a term… ‘magic’... you’ve called what you do Magecraft. What’s the difference…?”. “Magecraft can be accomplished by science… Magic cannot. For example, the Second Magic, the one we know the most about, can utilize parallel universes to accomplish many things…” she responded, looking at him “Though it sounds like you did something similar”. Laughing, Tatsuya stated “Kinda. My ‘alternate self’... basically, he failed and unhappy he and Philemon used all of humanity to reverse things… and to ensure it, our memories were wiped. Except Nyar was a sore loser since he’d be sure to lose and intercepted that timelines version of me… creating two instances of me”. Looking at her now, Tatsuya said “It was to create a loophole allowing him to directly intervene. Which he did. Not that it mattered in the end”. Frowning, before she could ask Ulala said “He’s leaving out the important part… its ultimate goal was to in fact destroy humanity. If it weren’t for us, he probably would’ve succeeded”. Looking shocked, Shirou even turned around asking “What!?” as she asked “Why… how…?” as Tatsuya stated “Yeah. He is our destructive impulses though… so it makes sense. It’s why I’m hunting him. Sooner or later, he’ll show his face and when he does I’m gonna be there to cut him in two”. Sighing, Ulala stated “Geez… one track mind… you know, that’s why Maya-” as Tatsuya barked “I know, I know… I can’t just let go of these memories… until I get revenge, I can’t be sated”. Rin stared now at Tatsuya. She wasn’t afraid but the questions piled up… but one thing was certain. These normal people… they had the ability to utilize the third magic. Accordingly, a threat to humanity existed somewhere. She now had no choice… she had to report to the clock tower. Of course, after this incident was resolved… After all, that entity had nothing to do with this.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29

Mausoleum of the Cold Sleep




Arata

 

With a shove of her hand, Bai sent the backdoor flying off. Stepping out, he saw her forked tongue touch the air before turning and saying “A field is ahead master… inside the building I couldn’t get into without force”. Nodding, he walked forward and asked “Then let’s get inside… over there right? Pointing to a pure white building surrounded by fencing at least 7 meters tall. The building itself was 5 meters. “Yes” Bai stated, following him as he walked “I’m going to spirit form to preserve prana. That way I keep my enhanced power” before turning into pure prana and vanishing. However he knew she was nearby through their connection. Nemissa stated “Okay… that also so happens to be where those threads are gathering… so it’s our target”. As they approached, he noticed that it used a particular type of security and had a particular kind of port and smiled. He pulled out his tablet and used the program Spookies.exe to begin a hacking program. He only had to enter two things; Target and Intent. He chose ‘Security System’ and ‘Disable all Security Measures’. As his tablet went to work, Nemissa asked “What are you doing?”. He didn’t respond at first, expecting Hitomi to chime in since she knew about it… but she didn’t. Before Nemissa got annoyed he responded “I’m hacking the building's security system… This keypad is connected to a server to make sure only employees, or whoever is authorized, enters. I’m hacking that and the connection that server probably has to the general security system and disable all of it”. Smirking, Nemissa said “Wow… useful. Can you do this with anything?”. “If it's digital, yeah… the best part about the app is that it was designed to be commercial. Basically, Hachi is using the spookies as beta testers” He explained but then frowned, saying “At least… that was the plan. After this… who knows if he’s gonna stay in the field”. Nemissa stood, looking around and said “Yeah… it was a pretty bad sight… I hope Rin sorts him out”. Nodding, the door suddenly opened as he said “Alright. Let’s move” and walked inside. 

 

Inside was a maze… unlike what he expected, it was an endless series of pillars with one obvious area for the elevator. As he moved towards it however a voice rang out saying “Halt”. Appearing from behind one of the pillars on his left a teenager walked out. At least, he thought she was. She couldn’t have been taller than 5 feet and she looked younger than an adult… he’d consider her a teenager except for one fact; She wore armor. Nothing too fancy but the kind you’d see on an ancient general. On her hip in a sheathe connected to a belt a hilt made of bone stuck out. Drawing it, the teenager stated “You are trespassing. I know not how you broke through the door without a servant, but you are to leave immediately”. Frowning, he replied “Nah. Sorry, but there’s a riot outside and it seems something in here is caus’in ‘em”. Laughing, the teenager stated “Yes… the handiwork of my mistress. Concern yourself not with it. It merely is a tactic to draw out our enemy… one Arata Tsukamoto. He somehow bypassed the society’s ban of his ID”. Frowning, before he could respond Nemissa stated “Then you’re a servant… so, why work for them? They’re clearly hurting people”. The servant laughed, then pointed her bone sword asking “Are you serious? What does a servant care for collateral damage? If it destroys the enemy it doesn’t matter”. He frowned deeply as he pulled out the pen, saying “Then you’re a servant… who do you work for? The society?”. With a nod, the teenager stated “Yes. They did summon me… but you're mistaken if you are implying my loyalty. No… that belongs to my mistress. I swore fealty to her long ago… long before my current master”. Frowning, Nemissa replied “... she’s here then isn’t she? The one doing this… so if we defeat her-” but was stopped as the Teenager chuckled, saying “Oh… you think you can actually get past me? Funny… real funny when you don’t have your servant”. Then with a flash the teenager rocketed at them. As fast as he’d seen Bai move at times when caught off guard… yet as he expected Bai appeared using a claw to parry the sword strike the teenager attempted. Before Bai could retaliate the teenager retreated, saying “Interesting! So your servant is an assassin!”. 

 

Staring at the teenager, Bai didn’t respond, instead crouching down and using the same technique as before. Stabbing her leg and whispering “Kaisu Bujin” and then rocketing at the servant. Before they could react she was already behind them, claw ready to stab. Jumping away, Bai managed to slash the servants midsection. Then Bai leapt after her, both claws ready as the servant parried each strike, not on alert. He didn’t react however, instead simply preparing his sword. Looking at Nemissa, she nodded and began to channel healing power into Bai. He himself funneled his prana into her as Erika and Otokaba returned to his comp. He focused specifically on keeping Bai strong as she moved quickly, slowly shifting into her half-naga form. The enemy servant was struggling hard, being pushed more and more to the wall. Then, suddenly, the servant smirked and said “Well… I’m in quite a corner… damn… I was hoping I could end you myself…” before spirit forming. As Bai’s claw slashed through, he looked around as a voice from all around them said “Even so… I did my job. Your servant and you have been ever-so weakened… surely, before you reach her, you’ll be too weak to fight… my sister will see to it” and then nothing. Eventually Bai stated “She’s not coming… so… let’s continue”. Nodding, he began walking to the elevator. 

 

Rei

 

She was on the phone, somewhat shaking. “You… what….?” she asked, walking towards a depot in Yurashima to check up on her apprentice. “I’ve informed the Clock Tower and invoked the Pact of Sume. Starting now the Kuzunoha are-” and she interrupted, yelling “That’s not what I asked! I asked if you’re serious!? That’s the same as-” but was interrupted as Ginko sternly stated “I am the overseer Reiho, I can make such decisions. I do not-” but she interrupted, saying “No, you can’t. Tradition, set down by the divine spirit, clearly dictates that such a pact is only invocable if you have two thirds majority and last I checked we’re down a foundation!”. A sigh was heard as Ginko responded “It’s already done. I cannot take it back. They know and will come. If we take it back and resist, we’ll die. Make your-” but she stopped, saying “Okay, but here’s the thing genius. If you’ve violated tradition then that same tradition dictates I may proceed as I deem fit… so guess what? I’m working alone. Don’t expect to hear from me again”. Before she hung up a voice was heard, one that made her hesitate. Sukeroku stated “Rei… please. Do not act rashly. We’re in a corner here. The society has all the cards and are closing in… if we don’t do this, the clan may die. We, as magus, must prevent that at all costs. I ask that you return with us. We can figure it out from there… I’m sure we can amicably negotiate with the clock tower, with our cards”. She hesitated, thinking it over, but ultimately said “Sukeroku… no… Ryouji… it’s not that I don’t understand. Frankly, I agree with the move. However… we should’ve at least evacuated the kids first. Dealt with their issues… not abandoned them. That’s NOT the kuzunoha way” before crushing the phone in her hand. 

 

As she walked into the depot she heard a faint voice say in her head “Master. I’ve retrieved the stone. Where shall I take it?”. “Here… quick as you can please. Thank you, Takeru” she responded to which her servant said “Sure. Just lemme see more action than a few bloody phantasmals and we’re even”. Then another voice invaded her head, though this one was familiar “I see things have not gone well” it stated in a gentle, light voice almost like a breeze. The warmth that spread over her body, like she was sunbathing, made her sigh and say in response “No… the rest of them have forgotten our clan's core value… protection of the people of japan from the threat of the supernatural…” to which the voice responded “As well as the protection of the supernatural from the people. Yes… that was the founding ideal… but they’ve forgotten. Regardless, I will defend the clan as best I can… That said, be weary… it’s starting to wake. By tomorrow night, I fear it may wake fully… Now excuse me. I must rest again… this world is so tiring…” before the warmth receded. She sighed deeply but did nothing. She could spare prana to the divine spirit but it’d do little. Even if she burned herself out, it’d get an hour at most… before anchoring to her new apprentice. She had no reason to believe the crisis could be solved in a mere hour. No… she needed a more definite target before she risked that. As she walked in Sakurai was waiting to which she greeted “Hey. Glad to see you alive!” to which Sakurai nodded, saying in response “Yeah… it’s a real mess, but I got us out. We’re just waiting for Sanagi to return”. Looking around, she asked “So. What’s the plan?”. 

 

“Heh… thought you’d never ask. See, we got a good lead” Sakurai said before turning back and heading into the trailer. She followed as he said “Lunch, tell her what you found”. Showing her a chip, Lunch asked “So… basic rundown, these are CPU’s, sure you know ‘em… most of them take the whole chip ta work but this part in the middle… It doesn’t do anything. I mean, powers go’in ta it but nothin’s hap-” but she stopped him, saying loudly “Lunch, drop that now”. Lunch, rather than drop it, set it gently on the table as she slapped a tag on it. She was staring at the alien bug sitting in the center of a pink orb. The circuitry on the chip all converged there and she saw prana being fed to it… a minute amount but enough. It now didn’t since no one was touching it… however, it clearly had fed on Lunch’s Od. Her tag connected and unleashed a spell within that purged the prana from it. The creature within gave a shrill cry of pain before bursting into flames for a second. Leaping back, Sakurai and Lunch exclaimed “Wh-what the-!?” as Lunch continued “What the hell man!? That’s an expensive part! You just-” as she stated “I saved your life. If you had continued using it, that ‘chip’ as you called it would’ve sucked your Od dry-... wait… this is like those sicknesses, ain’t it?”. Blinking, Lunch looked at Sakurai and said “I dunno… but what’s Od?”. Sakurai, thinking as she explained “Your internal magical energy and your soul. If it goes, your soul goes and you basically go comatose. Basic survival functions only”. “That’s… the same symptoms… one for one…” Sakurai muttered, saying “It’s been going on for five years but in the last year, ever since that chip rolled out, the sickness rate of that specific sickness has ramped up”. Rei, looking now at the chip, stated “This… is bad. These aren’t servants but phantasmals… if my guess is correct, then… shit… maybe they made the right call…”. Sakurai, looking at her, asked “Wait… what call…?”. 

 

Arata

 

He walked out onto the floor holding his sword in one hand. Bai was hidden, waiting. Nemissa followed after him, ready to spellcast at a moment's notice. Looking around, he saw the same setup but opposite of them. As he moved to head there suddenly Bai appeared and deflected a knife heading for him. Nemissa turned and sent a flurry of icicles in that direction. He barely caught it but he saw the shadowy figure responsible for the thrown knife duck behind a pillar to avoid retribution from Nemissa’s icicles. “Nemissa ready a Roma Grandor to the right of that pillar… about 5 meters” he suggested as he asked Bai “Flush her out from the left”. Nodding, Bai shifted to her Naga form to maximize her speed and sped there. The 20 meter distance was crossed in an instant and she lashed out at something. As it retreated, Nemissa cried out “Roma Grandor!”, firing a blue beam. However against expectations the shadowy figure was lithe and athletic in addition to being stealthy. It simply backflipped and twisted itself over the beam while Bai had to stop short. Once it landed it sent a flurry of knives out. Two their way, and three at Bai. Nemissa fired another Roma Grandor, sending them away, while also creating another barrier for Bai to have to wait for. “Interesting” the voice stated from behind a pillar “I never expected the servant Bai Suzhen to be an assassin… your legend portrays you as anything but”. “There’s a lot to me the legends don’t cover… like my husband being an ignorant flirt” Bai retorted, rushing forward. Fleeing her, he got a good look at the new enemy. A 5 ft 1 in tall teenage girl with short red hair. She wore a single bodysuit that was made of cured leather. On her were two bandoliers of knives and she moved with practiced grace, Similar to Bai. As he considered his options, looking over what his phantasmals were capable of, he realized there was a label at the top of the screen. It read ‘Magnetite #: 5100’. Blinking, he clicked it and it pulled up an explanation of ‘Magnetite’ which read ‘Materialized prana taking the form of crystals, when not manifested it is simply prana stored in a mystic code. Definition provided by; Naoya Kisiki’. “Who’s… Naoya Kisiki…?” he muttered, looking up when he got an idea, checking what he could do. 

 

Bai avoided a strike, attempting to retaliate with her tail. The enemy servant leapt away, throwing more knives as Bai chanted “Tiānchèng Shǒuhù Zhě, Gěi Wǒ Yīgè Dùn!”. A light blue barrier appeared that slowed the knife long enough for Bai to pluck the knife from the air and return the attack. The servant ducked behind a pillar, avoiding the attack. Suddenly they came out and leapt at Bai as at the same time something exploded behind Bai sending her forward, tumbling. He quickly realized the intent and shouted “With a Command spell, I com-” but was too late as Bai cried out, the enemy servant making a slashing motion against Bai. Falling to the ground, Bai went limp. Turning, the servant prepared to throw a knife as he finished “command you to return to my side!”.and with a flash and loss of a command spell Bai appeared. Nemissa knelt down and began to heal Bai, who was bleeding from a deep cut in her side. As she was healed he leapt in front, raising the barrier his sword generated to block multiple knives. It only broke as the servant herself smashed it. However Otokaba suddenly appeared and a concussive wave sent Bai flying. Looking at his comp, he looked at it and was glad that he confirmed the command spell and magnetite went through. That meant the concussive wave Otokaba used was twice as strong as normal. Smashing into the wall, the servant fell onto the ground and didn’t move afterwards. Standing, Otokaba stated “It is done, master. I will return so you can fuel Bai with prana to heal” before turning into prana and retreating to his Comp. He kept his eyes on the servant and winced as they began to stand. “M-master…” Bai said slowly, standing herself as Nemissa said “Siddown already! I’m not done healing you!”. “Don’t… worry about me…” the servant stated “My only analog trap… failed to defeat you… now I’m… at a disadvantage… there is no way… for me to best you… but I did enough… you will never defeat… my mistress” before spirit forming, presumably to escape. Looking at him, Bai said “I’m sorry master… another escaped…” as he responded “No need… we survived… that’s the point of all this. I’m going to guess too that this ‘Mistress’ of theirs is one floor below… So let's take a few minutes to heal here. Also… I want to ask something before we go”. Looking at him with curiosity he gave her his plan. 

 

Bazett

 

“Yes… that is all true, sir. I haven’t reported it due to being bound by a geas’... but if you know, you know. I am not forbidden from confirming or denying facts. I merely cannot speak of them, willing or otherwise” she relayed to her superior, on the other end of the phone as they stated “Understood… still. The fact is you are the only enforcer there… it will take a day to prepare a proper disciplinary force to deal with this. So do what you can”. She responded “Understood. I have a few places to begin… anything else?” as the voice stated “Ah yes… they requested a few individuals be spared from judgement. As we aren’t the church, we’ve permitted this. Until this incident is resolved, all taboo committed by these individuals is permitted so long as they understand it is to end upon conclusion of the incident”. “Does this include knowledge of the moonlit world by civilians?” she asked as the man responded “If they are, then geas them to, after resolution, never speak of anything related to it ever again in any form”. Nodding, she responded “Understood. I will carry out my orders as best I can… and I’ll rendezvous with the team when they land”. “Good… this is a stain on the honor of the association. It should’ve been stamped out long ago” her superior stated as the call ended. She simply stood, turning and walking deeper into the city. She had a location to start with; A depot in the yurashima district that contained the trailer that acted as the hideout of the hacker group Spookies… the group Rei admitted to cooperating with. 

 

Arata

 

Leaving the elevator, he stared in awe. It was vastly different from prior floors. There were three rows of capsule-like machines lining three walkways and at the ends three large monitors connected to a console. Heading to one, his eyes widened. “What the…?” he muttered as Nemissa asked “What?”. “Look… these are… victims” he stated, checking ones record “All of them are victims of the ‘Amami Sickness’... something that only showed up in the last 5 years…” to which Hitomi suddenly took over, asking “Wait… isn’t that when Amami City completed its ‘Technical Revolution’?”. Nodding, he looked as Nemissa took over and responded “Yeah… and…” he stopped, staring at one name. The name of his father, Haruo Tsukamoto. Pulling up his records he realized something horrid. Looking over each, a single fact was clear. “Nemissa… we need to free them…” he said quietly. “Why?” Nemissa asked, Bai staring at him confused as he said “... The man outside… that wasn’t my father… he’s here. They’re-” as a new voice from down a row stated loudly “Making a homunculus out of him”. Looking up, he saw a crowned teenager staring at him. She had icy blue hair and eyes and wore a cloak with its hood down. A single clasp made of gold with a diamond inlaid kept the front together as the teenager stated “Welcome. To project Der Doppelganger. Amami City fancies itself a sophisticated magical and technological society… so deep is their blasphemy that they use technology and magecraft together to mass-produce near-perfect homunculus… to the point of being a new construct; Doppelgangers”. Moving forward, parting it ever so slightly and revealing some armor beneath, metal clanged against metal with each step as he asked “... Then all these victims… they’re being copied?”. Nodding, the servant stated “Yes. We used information gathered from monitoring them to construct a pseudo-soul… then I used my noble phantasm to conscript them. An ingenious ploy… of course those boors in the government demanded I use them to flush you out…”. 

 

Glaring he asked “So, what is the ultimate plan of all this? What’s the purpose?”. Blinking, she asked “Are you daft? Can you really not see the purpose behind all this? I know you know. I’ve been watching you”. His eyes wide, the servant with a look of glee at his fear stated with a condescending tone “You ran around that museum quite well… then there was your defeat of Moowis and following him… let’s not forget how you actually managed to defeat the Right Hand of Phantom, the strongest summoner we have… oh, and one simply cannot overlook your rescue of the soul of Six from a Daemon of his own creation. I know during all that you uncovered the truth to some extent”. Stopping 10 meters from him, the servant stated “The Manitou Network, the Amami Reconstruction Project, the Amami Sickness, the Summoning of Servants, the Comps, the Recruitment and Mass summoning of phantasmals using the network… ah, and most important, the mass production of perfect homunculus… What purpose would it all go to?”. “World domination” Bai stated “The Phantom Society… she said you desired control but to go that far… it’s madness”. Laughing, the servant yelled “Indeed! Such blasphemy, such ambition! It reminded my of when I was alive! The audacity of them to raise their sword against humanity itself!”. With a smirk now, the servant stated “Even if it's a flight of fancy, I cannot help but indulge… oh, the havoc it’d wreak”. In fear, he took a single step back. Leering at him, the servant stated “Ah… fear… of course you fear me… how could you not? I am havoc itself-” to which Bai stated “That settles it… I know your identity”. Laughing, the servant stated “Oops… oh well… it doesn’t matter. It will not help you. My noble phantasm has reached its Zenith. Soon it will end… and with the destruction of this facility, your fates are sealed. Goodbye, Arata Tsukamoto. If we meet… well… we’ll talk then… but not like this. I’ll have returned to the Morrigan”. With a flash, the servant retreated in spirit form and an alarm blared out “Warning! Warning! Self-Destruct initiated! Executing in T-minus twenty minutes!”. Eyes widened he pulled his tablet out and immediately began activating the spookies.exe program. “What are you doing Master? We have to go!” his servant yelled, worried, as he yelled “I can’t! My father is here! I can’t just-” but was silenced as he passed out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30

On the Eve of Glory




Nemissa

 

“What the hell!?” Nemissa demanded. She watched Bai, as Arata tried to hack the program and free everyone, knocking him out with a light chop to his neck. Holding him, Bai looked at her with a sullen face asking “Nemissa… do any of them have Od?”. Hesitating, she looked. She didn’t exactly know what Bai meant but her instincts told her it was an important question. Even as the alarm blared, she could see through the red lights that no. No one had any magical energy in them… merely around. No matter how focused she looked, she could not see a single ounce of prana within them. Looking back, she responded slowly “No… but why does that matter…?”. “If they lack Od they lack a soul” Bai stated “If they lack a soul… that’s it. They’ll never recover. The soul, an essential part of a human, will never recover. It’d take a miracle, something we lack… effectively, all these people are dead, their corpses preserved”. Staring at her, feeling angry, didn’t retort. Yell. Scream. She felt tears go down her face. She felt Hitomi’s sadness… but felt a small amount of disturbance. Hitomi wasn’t taking over to yell. So she did and said “So we leave them here!? To-” as Bai interrupted, stating “Yes. It’s cruel, but my master’s safety comes first. I know he won’t accept the truth easily… and we don’t have time for him to. So my question is Nemissa… will I be saving you too?”. Glaring, she wanted to fight her but… her instincts not only said not to but that she was right. “Fine” she said, spitting on the ground, her only act of defiance “I won’t forgive you though”. “That is fine” Bai stated, moving to her “I will accept your hatred”. She growled “I don’t hate you, I’m just pissed and will be for a while. How dare you hurt Arata”. Looking surprised, Bai responded “I see… that’s- nevermind. We can talk after we escape”. She let Bai carry her over the shoulder and take off. She cooperated and helped since both of Bai’s arms were busy. Their escape went fairly smoothly… as they leapt from the front of the facility's entrance to the top of the mall, Bai stated “Ten minutes, as I thought… truly, there would be no time”. Bai then leapt to the now passed out group of rioters, all suffering from various wounds. Bai ran through quickly disappearing into the nearby park. Looking back, she watched as in minutes a fireball erupted into the sky. 

 

Rin

 

She had finished her analysis. She stared at the phantasmal. It was inlaid with the chip and its duty was obvious. To steal souls. She had Shirou contact the Spookies about it but she studied it and found a few disturbing facts. She had never studied anything quite like it, and even using her knowledge of the occult she had no idea what to tie it to. The most she could do was the Matou’s form of magecraft but she didn’t want to drag Sakura into this mess. She already had a hard time trying to restore the Matou family on her own without the assistance of her grandfather, since they had handedly destroyed him when he tried to stop them from dismantling the greater grail. She had even found and destroyed the real body of the old man. Yet, now, that was all she could think to do. “So… these soul-stealin’ bugs… what do they do with ‘em? I’d think they’d be bigger and smell worse if they kept ‘em” Tatsuya stated. Looking at him but then realizing that he was right she looked back at it… and realized something. 

 

“The Manitou Network” she stated, moving to it. She placed a gem on it and lit it on fire as she said “The purpose of it is the quick transfer of prana… but how does it support its texture? Whatever the source of all the prana that makes it… I’ll bet it runs on souls”. Looking at her, Ulala sighed, saying “I can only think of one man crazy enough to pull something like this… Nyarlathotep. He’s gotta be behind it”. Looking at her, Tatsuya stated “Yeah… no doubt. He is one hundred percent behind this. It’s right up his alley. The question is… where is he?”. Looking at them, Rin responded “I have a good idea. After all… two entities made all this possible… Algonsoft and the government. Somewhere in those two places is the answer”. Looking between them, Tatsuya said “Let’s take tonight off… tomorrow we’ll storm them” as Ulala stated “Yeah. I haven’t done much but it’ll give me time to prepare… how does 7 am sound?”. Shirou walked back down, saying “That’s fine for us. We have to meet up with the Spookies however. What about you two?”. “We’ll have to be ready for the rest of us but after we’ll go check out the government. Maya can get an interview lined up” Ulala stated “Once we get in… well… we’ll see. Depends on their response to us”. “It won’t be pretty. Magicians are regarded as high level threats” Rin stated as Tatsuya smirked and responded “Well then, good thing I’m high level. Now then… Ulala, let’s get outta here. We’ve got the team to talk to. Night Tohsaka, Emiya” and then walked out. Bowing slightly, Ulala said “Farewell and thank you for the hospitality” before leaving. Sighing, she asked “How’d it go?”. 

 

“They know the plant that made it. Lunch’s father works there and he’s apparently gonna try to get in tomorrow with his credentials” Shirou responded “I’m not sure he should but… well…” as she stated “Leave it be, shirou… it’s not our business. We need to prepare for tomorrow”. Looking at her he asked “Why?” as she responded “Let’s be real… all of this… our uncovering of their secrets. They’re going to hit us. Hard. We need to be ready… tomorrow, likely it all ends. We should be ready”. Turning, she pulled out a drawer and pulled out a pendant, saying “For that purpose, Shirou… I want you to summon a servant. It’ll increase our resources”. Looking at her, looking troubled, he responded “Should… we? I mean-” but she responded “It’ll be fine… it’s like before. You anchor her here while whatever does the summoning handles the heavy lifting… we just need to feed a steady supply of prana”. Thinking for a moment, he responded “Alright… lemme practice a bit”. Nodding, Rin stated “Good… now I have to prepare something myself”. She pulled out the Azoth dagger and began to prepare it. 

 

Rei

 

She walked to the stone and touched it. She smiled, feeling that the connection to the divine spirit was still open. Turning to Sakurai, she stated “Alright… it’s time to do this. I wanted to train you properly but if things are ramping up, then we need to respond in kind”. “I see… so we’re speeding up the process and hoping nothing bad happens?” Sakurai asked as she stated “Correct. It’s simple, even… just put your hand on the stone and say the phrase ‘I request the sun give me its splendor so that I may spread its benevolence’. Then… well, since you’ve already been accepted the worst you get is some soreness… but if we’re lucky, she’ll give you the knowledge I have”. Nodding, he proceeded to do precisely that and waited. Suddenly, Sakurai stood sharply, gasping and stumbled back. He didn’t fall however and said “Wow… that was… weird”. Chuckling, she asked “Yeah. It always is… so, what’d she ask?”. Sakurai responded “Why I wanted the power… huh… it’s that simple…?” and she frowned. He was beginning down a dangerous line of thought. She quickly stated “No. To be clear, you are an apprentice designated by me and accepted by her… if you hadn’t? She’d have burnt the circuits directly into your body. Like this, the knowledge can be gently placed within your mind… plus there’s more to it. You now have a responsibility she’d laid within that knowledge. Spend the night going over it… let’s move tomorrow”. Nodding, Sakurai said “Sure… and we don’t tell them, right?”. Nodding, Rei stated “Not anymore than they need to. The rock is a foundation of the Kuzunoha clan… that’s it”. Nodding, she watched Sakurai leave, with him saying “I’m gonna go follow up on some leads. Get a lay of the land… see ya”. She nodded, looking out to the night sky of Amami City and sighing… She had a bad feeling about tomorrow. 

 

Arata

 

As he awoke, he saw Nemissa in rare attire. Sitting by the window of a Gourmaden window staring out at the city holding a glass of something. Staring for a moment, he muttered “... What’s… what… happened…?”. Looking over and taking a drink, Nemissa sighed and said “Geez… finally awake. You’re a hard sleeper, you know. Though… wish you’d slept longer” and then smiled at him. Then it hit him. Almost all at once. “W-wait… wait! My father! Where is-” but stopped as he saw Nemissa’s face cringe and then drop. He stared and then felt crushed as Nemissa said quietly “He’s… dead… according to Bai… has been…”. Shivering a bit, trying to control himself, he said “B-but… but… they were… in cryostasis… if we’d just thawed them-” but Nemissa shook her head, saying “No, Arata… there’s no Od in them… no internal prana… no soul…”. Staring at him with  what he could only imagine being a melancholic sadness, He asked “I… we could’ve… solved that later… there’s-” but she responded swiftly, saying in a stuttering voice “I’m sorry… but if the soul wasn’t in the homunculus they made of him… where could it be…? Why make a ‘Pseudo-soul’ of aggregated information…? In all likelihood…” and trailed off. He knew what she was implying. He looked at the bed. Then, he cried. 




Nishi

 

He hated surprises. He really hated surprises. So imagine this when suddenly three servants he sent to oversee the Der Doppelganger project before Maurice Doreal arrived appeared before him. Exactly 2 hours before Maurice was to arrive and take over most of the major functions. At least, in spirit. Looking at them, he asked “Why are you here?”. The middle one, named Nemian, stated “It would seem our little plan backfired, mayor. Instead of flushing Arata out it exposed us and ended in the loss of the Der Doppelganger project… oh well, at least it yielded what we wanted and 2000 homunculus”. “WHAT!?” he yelled, feeling prana boil in his veins as he stated “WHAT DO YOU MEAN!? WHAT HAPPENED!? I WANT ANSWERS, IMMEDIATELY!”. The other two servants glared at him but Nemian persisted, stating “Oh the spirit accompanying Arata saw right through our trap and stormed the facility… With his hacking prowess, I had hardly any choice but to order Badb to initiate the self-destruct and retreat. Thankfully, he has a connection to his father, so-” but he interrupted, stating “I see. So it’s destroyed but that pest is dealt with… no matter. We may begin the next phase. Good job, even if sloppy. I’ll make arrangements for facility two to begin production… for your reward, I permit you to form the Morrigan”. Eyes wide with excitement, Nemian exclaimed “You heard him girls! We can form the Morrigan!”. Nodding, the other two stood, Badb saying “I’m… happy… I agree… what about you, Macha…?”. “I do not want to stall the formation of the Morrigan… we shall do so” Macha stated the Nemian said “Then girls… let’s do this” and they joined hands. He had never seen it before and smiled at the sight. Slowly, afterimages began to form. At least, that’s what it looked like. Soon, the ends of these images grew closer and closer until all three girls were overlaid one another. Then, soon, one consistent image was present. A woman with violet shoulder-length hair in a rooster’s crow style stood before him, wearing various leathers and furs to form a cape and armor. In one hand was a bone staff and the other nothing. Looking at him, the Morrigan greeted “Hello, master. I am the Morrigan, returned to your service”. 

 

“A fine showing… I’ve never before witnessed such a spectacular ritual” a voice stated as the door opened. A fine clothed man walked in that he knew well. The black cape, tophat, and gold-rimmed glasses did nothing to deter one from discerning the man's identity. One might assume a servant but he knew the truth. “Left Hand of Phantom… you’ve arrived. Welcome to Amami City. I trust the flight was good?” he greeted the Morrigan turning to look at Maurice, as Maurice responded, hooking their cane on their arm as they took their hat off saying “Very well Nishi- ah right, japan, I mean Akuma. It is much different from my time when flight was still just reaching its peak. My only complaint is, obviously, that it ended early”. Nodding, he asked “So then… shall we begin the final stages?”. “Hmmmm… yes. I read the reports… my only question. Was the last operation a success? Was ‘Spookies’ dealt with?” Maurice responded, to which he answered “Somewhat… we lost project Der Doppelgangers primary facility. We’ll need to start up the secondary… but otherwise, overwhelming success. The summoner and spirit should be dead”. Nodding, Maurice stated “Then… for the rest” as he pulled out a book and opened it, saying “Announce the curfew… I’ll begin guiding our searches with this”. Whistled, the Morrigan asked “… Is that your noble phantasm?”. As Nishi picked up the phone he stated “Yes. It’s what makes him the Left Hand… and unstoppable” and then dialed a number. 

 

Once a voice answered he stated “This is mayor Nishi Akuma. As of now I’m announcing a state of emergency and declaring martial law. Prepare the media software now” before moving around the desk, stating “Maurice, Morrigan, out of frame please” .The two stepped aside, out of the way, as four camera’s descended and a hologram of himself out of frame appeared. Testing it with movements, he stated “Good… Activate”. A red light came on and he said loudly “Citizens of Amami City… I’ve just received a report of a bombing attack on the Akane Mall, following a riot against the beta test release of Paradigm X. They believe such software is corrupting the minds of the youth! I cannot wholly disagree, as the studies by our esteemed science community are still pouring hours and hours of research into that very topic, and yet! They persist in fantasy!”. Gesturing outwards to Amami City, the hologram forming one, he stated “So convinced and paranoid they’ve resorted in bombing, an event which has left a hundred dead and millions in property damage! It will take weeks for the mall to re-open! However! Fear not! I will get to the bottom of this! As of this moment, I’m declaring a state of emergency and invoking martial law! All citizens are to carry their legal Amami City ID at all times and those that are suspended are under house arrest until we discover the culprit. Please, cooperate and we can return to normal. That is all!”. 

 

As the hologram faded, Maurice clapped and said after the camera shut off “Good performance. Turning a loss into an overwhelming victory… still. We have work to do. Let us round up the rest of that rabble… starting with the Spookies”. Flipping a page, he continued
“According to this, they’ll hit the Microelectronics Plant tomorrow… I suggest while they’re out to lay a police ambush at their trailer. We’ll nab most of them there… only their collaborators will escape. They’ll attempt to flee to the Gourmaden… however if Morrigan and Ravana intercept them, then even their servants will fail them. We can add Finnegan to ensure it”. Nodding, he moved to his desk and used its touch screen to input the commands and send them. “Done. Now… anything else?” Nishi asked as Maurice himself asked “Oh nothing… Do you have spare Prana? As a fellow Pseudo, I hoped you might have some to spare”. Nodding, he tapped a button and a machine distilled a rainbow liquid into a cup nearby. Walking over holding it, he stated “Liquid Magnetite… a delicacy in my homeland. Enjoy, Maurice Doreal. I expect excellent results”. Smiling, Maurice stated “Oh, there will be. Thank you” and drank it, glowing slightly as he did. 

Chapter Text

Interlude 3

Where Destiny Slumbers



She arrived at the restaurant late. By 5 minutes no late, a smudge on her honor. She wore her business skirt, platform, leggings, leather jacket, and crop top she walked in. Eyes went on her as she walked by the waiter simply saying “I’m expected” and headed for the table of her current client. Sitting at the table, she picked up the menu to read it. The waiter that had tried to stop her walked over, stuttering “M-ma’am… You ca-” but her client interrupted him with a stern voice saying “My reservation did list two… there she is. Leave it- no, miss feel free to order anything”. Chuckling, she responded amused “I’ll simply have a cola… oh, and some filet mignon. I’ve never had the pleasure”. Nodding, the waiter turned and left. Setting the menu down, she smirked and said “Well thank you. I appreciate the gesture”. “Think nothing of it. I want the job to go well” the man responded, setting his own menu down and picking up the red wine he had aside and took a sip, stating “Welcome to Amami City, How are you enjoying it?”. She hummed, saying “Okay. Technologically, it’s very convenient. Magically, it’s inconvenient”. Before her client could react, she reminded him “I was promised that it’d be convenient for both”. Sighing, her client stated “I admit. We’ve had… difficulties… in establishing the magical side of things. We’ve got the Manitou Network up and running… but our prana supply isn’t installed. Kadokura has run into a problem… which means we have it by proxy”. Smirking, she responded “Ahhhh… I see… and if you’re calling me, then the problem is specific”. Nodding, her client stated “Indeed. We have two divine-class phantasmals blocking the installation… we need them removed. I don’t care how”. Whistling, she responded “Not even wanting materials? Alright… I’ll consider that part of the payment. That said... I suppose for an advance, give me ten million yen. The price upon completion is completely open to the valuation of the ingredients I gather… oh and I’ll accept any geas to be honest about the value”. Shaking his head, her client stated “No, no… You are a distinguished mercenary even among the association. I trust your judgement. Besides… short of demanding over a trillion yen, we can foot the bill. The gains we will achieve through the Amami Project are massive”. Nodding, she responded “Perhaps… still. Luckily, my normal rate is simply one hundred thousand yen per hour… oh, but I only begin my job once onsite. Transit to it won’t count”. “Thank you, miss Toma” her client responded as she stated “Of course, Akuma. Now… one more thing… part of my payment, deductible of course, is the allowance to commit violence in your city after the job… I’m expecting someone to come in, and I wanna kill them”. Nodding, Nishi stated “That can be arranged. If we have an agreement… it’s at Site C. The details are on this thumb drive. Present it to the clerk at the front desk of the administrative building in Nikamaimon. They will have one of the societies guide you there”. Nodding, she accepted the thumb drive and said “Of course. Thank you”. At that, Nishi put down a credit card and left. The waiter served her dinner and used the credit card to pay. “Mmmm… maybe it's the city but this is good steak…” she commented, eating it. Once she was done she stood and left heading for her accommodations. She needed to go over the data, rest, and prepare for the next day. 

 

As she was driven via smart car to the site, she went over everything. Site C were ancient Japanese ruins found within caverns covered by the administrative building in Nikamaimon. These ruins match studies suggesting what the entrance to the supposed underworld of Japan could look like. At least the part that existed in physical reality. Further, it's configuration aligns with many different practices of magecraft. To the point that theoretically it will bolster the magecraft of literally any foundation practiced within. As for the phantasmals, all they knew was one used harrowing winds while the other used water. Obviously, she decided on water. After all, she was a former member of Wandering Sea before defecting and specialized in water magecraft. She’d never accept a mere phantasmal, no matter its lineage, defeating her in water magecraft combat. Yet she couldn’t be too confident. The ruins would give them both a boost, opening possibilities they normally didn’t have the luxury of. However she had one it wouldn’t. Mystic codes. She went over her five that she brought. First her spiral seashell earrings. Gifted by a magus in ancient Greece and gifted to a servant, it was passed down a family until she was paid to slaughter them. She claimed them as a reward. Then she had a wand rumored to have been owned by the witch Cerdiwen, though her research confirmed it was certainly owned by the chief of bards Taliesin who did practice magecraft. She had her Victorian era half-cloak which was a specialized mystic code that would create gusts of wind to improve her mobility if provided prana folded up. However her most prized mystic codes; A specialist mystic code that immobilized her target as though caught in the gaze of medusa and a hand mirror that had the prana of ten generations of her family. Nevermind her trump card. Smirking, she stated aloud “This job is in the bag. Maybe if it had been a fire or earth phantasmal, I’d be worried… but one of water is no issue”. 

 

As she arrived no one was waiting for her but she expected that. It’d be strange for an entourage to be waiting for just a woman. Heading inside, she did as instructed. The clerk looked at her, then nodded and said “Please, go into the hall over there and enter the third room on the right”. Nodding she simply walked to the door the clerk pointed to and opened it. Before her were a series of halls with men in suits walking up and down them, entering and exiting doors… yet the third was never even given regard. Some gave her looks but as she reached for the door, they ignored her as though she didn’t exist. Of course she knew why. A bounded field, a subtle one, was making all who had a line of sight with the door disregard anything to do with it. If she were to leave, they’d only regard her once she was a sufficient distance decided by the parameters laid within the field. Opening the door, she entered the room and saw a man in a suit waiting for her. “Miss Tomo. I’ve been waiting. Please, this way” the man greeted her, heading to a fireplace, grabbing the sword affixed to a mount on the wall above, and pulling down like a lever. The fireplace flipped places with a strange-looking platform and the man got on, saying “Please, stand next to me. We will descend shortly… oh and you may want to put on your mystic code”. Nodding, she donned her half cloak and earrings. Holding her wand, her false mystic eyes pendant, and her hand mirror. Stepping on the platform began to descend and it hit her immediately. Mana filled the air. “The… no, this amount still pales in comparison” she said, gasping a bit at the feeling of an increase in mana. “Yes… these ruins were actually discovered at the start of world war 1. The society was using that war as cover to openly search for any way to get advantages over the meddlesome kuzunoha… then we found these rins” the man explained. Humming, she responded “I see… so why only now utilize them?”. Smirking, the man stated “That implies we haven’t. Study into them led to our revolutionary spell ‘Field’. The one spell that can operate regardless of foundation… even those lacking one”. She whistled again, stating “A multi-foundational spell? That’s actually impressive. Then again you all are my highest paying client so I shouldn’t be surprised”. Chuckling, the man stated “Aw, don’t worry about it hon… the surprise is always great”. Staring, she responded “Always?”. Looking at her tensely, he responded “E-err… y-yeah… admittedly, I wasn’t supposed to let on but… you aren’t the first… we’ve already had 5 freelancers die from these things…”. Frowning, she sighed. Nishi held out on her. That was bad. It meant he wasn’t being honest… It made her suspicious. However she was here and if she completed her job in these conditions then it’d look good. So she kept her silence and the man took that as she meant it; She won’t say a thing if he won’t. 

 

Once the lift stopped after descending 500 meters, she saw a great hall before her and red gates that looked like they had just been constructed… yet she felt her connection to her foundation increase as the man stated “This is it. We call it ‘the Gates of Yomi’. Ahead lies ‘the Walk of Shikome’. At the fork, you’ll want the right path for the water phantasmal”. Looking at the man as she stepped off she responded “Thank you… oh, what about returning?”. “Simple. I’ll send a familiar periodically. If I see a corpse or you returning I’ll prepare accordingly… if I see a battle I remain. I’m far enough back that I’ll be unaffected” the man stated as she turned away saying “Gotcha… well, it won’t take long” before heading forward into the darkness. “Oji” she whispered, forming multiple balls of light alongside her. Despite her specialization in water magecraft, she was capable of basic spells from other elements. As she walked she enjoyed the feeling of more mana. It was similar to the dream she once held… the feeling of the Reverse Side of the World she accidentally fell into as a child… she frowned remembering her life. How her dream was to discover that sense of wonder and mystery again. However, a few key events led to her realizing it was impossible. First was her and her former master and adoptive father meeting a man named Fantasma who revealed the truth of it; How bureaucratic and oppressive the society of phantasmals that Summoners contracted were. Second was the discovery that the Age of Gods returning to humanity was practically impossible. The texture was based entirely on what ‘humans’ thought of as ‘right’ and ‘how things worked’. Further, travel between textures was near impossible. Those two facts crushed her dreams. Yet… this place was slightly wearing down her pessimism. 

 

Of course there was more. Another reason she sought that texture. It was due to how the world worked and an event. Her adoptive father, named Fabro Rowan, had his existence altered. A man named Sid Davis, wielding power from the Age of Gods, altered his existence into a phantasmals and prevented rejection… Yet, that annoying novice priestess Rei Reiho destroyed him. If it weren’t for that dark robed king that intervened, saving him in exchange for complete trust, she’s sure he’d be dead. She’d met him again after it was finished… of course the cost was that she’d never see him again. He’d go to the reverse side as his body was permanently damaged and without an amount of constant prana akin to a magus from the age of gods he’d die… and that was only possible there. This devastated her and she sought revenge since… She's suffered forty five losses and only two victories since. If what she suspected was ahead, then she had an edge against her in the next fight. Materials to form a noble-phantasm class mystic code. Normally, finding a noble phantasm was practically impossible… but if the phantasmal ahead was equivalent to a leviathan, then the sheer prana it held would allow her to weave any spell. Here, that would guarantee her to imprint her ultimate spell into it… that would make it so she could never lose. After all, her magic relied on her ability to vocalize her chants. If she couldn’t, then she’d die… what made it troublesome was that her ultimate spell had twenty verses with five optional verses to improve the power. The only help she had was channeling the power of the phantasmal that she harbored within her soul that could halve the chant by performing off-verses for her. Even then, that left a minimum of ten verses. Even so, she was skilled enough to create the circumstances against most foes… except Rei Reiho. 

 

The further she walked, 200 meters now, the more she felt it. The mana shifting. From neutral elementality to water and air. Intermingling here. It made her damp but also easier to breathe easier. She knew now that she’d be at her strongest here than ever before. Even in full submersion she couldn’t hope for these conditions… though that was related to the richness of the mana in the air. Then she saw it. The forked road. Staring between the paths, she could feel the water mana flow from the right while air mana flowed from the left. If she were an air specialist, she’d go left. However she was in the water and moved right. After all, the water mana benefitted her just as much as they’d benefit the phantasmal. Moreso due to it burning prana to generate a beneficial environment while she merely benefited from it. “Tavaḷaiyiṉ nuraiyīral, mīṉiṉ iṟakkaikaḷ, nīr itayam!” she chanted, feeling her body alter. Gills formed in her neck, creating a new system of breathing. This was due to the air itself becoming like that of water. Favoring hydrogen more than oxygen. Eventually she laid eyes on it and smiled in satisfaction. Before her was a truly strong phantasmal. It was made of solid ice yet moved like flesh. Emerald-colored eyes stared at her from atop the 10 meter figure, with various limbs flowing out. She identified 4 arms as it moved into a standing position, asking “Who… disturbs Katal Kulantai?”. “I am Naomi Tomo. I’ve been hired to move you… guessing based on your setup, that ain’t happening”. “No…” the figure responded “I have no desire to… are you challenging me?”. Smirking, she responded “Yep. I was hoping for that. It’ll let your body persist long enough for me to harvest from you”. Nodding, the phantasmal stated “I, Katal Kulantai, of the Drake tribe that is part of the Dragon Clan… descendant of the veritable Tiyamaj, goddess of salt water”. 

 

Instantly she unleashed her first spell. As Katal filled the space with real water, her gills ensured such a thing did not impede her as she quickly chanted “Nir Vetlu” while her inner phantasmal chanted “Neptiyun Patai” causing a thin razor of water pressure to shoot forth. However Katal responded by attempting to catch it with some of their tentacles. However she was already preparing, holding her wand out and chanting “Neptiyun Patai, Antlantasin Itti!” while her phantasmal chanted between and after “Katal Annaiyin Acirvatam, Marpin Valiyakat Tallunkai!”. Just as the tentacles redirected to her, the spell she chanted funneled through her wand and released. What was normally a four verse chant became equivalent to a six verse chant. The spear moved like a bullet and pierced the gut of Katal. Screaming it hesitated as she smirked, quickly waving her wand chanting yet again with her phantasmal “Uyir Muccu, Pirappin Pani, Uraiya Vaikkavum, Virivu Amaitiyakiratu, Amaiti Nittiyamanatu, Tontaravu Tataiceyyappattullatu, Pani en Atikaram, Katal en Kalam, en Caktiyal, Unkal Iyakkam Cil Vaikkappattullatu!” water shifted around each limb. They not only froze but the phantasmal went still. “M-mortal! What trick is this!?” as she responded “I’ve sealed your movements… attack is now impossible. To finish this…” she stated, pouring prana into her false mystic eyes. They flashed and the phantasmal froze completely. No sounds were even made. Smirking she chanted “Vajkkai Katal, Atmakkalin Nati, Kettal Irantavataka Iruntatu, Unarvu Nankavatu Anatu, Atlantisin Atikarattal, Katalin Aciyutan, Elu Rajakkal en Viruppattirku Kattuppattavarkal, En Puravalar Ennutan Urutiyaka Nirkirar, Enatu Tolviyai Nirakarikkiren, En Etiriyai Ati” while funneling prana into the false mystic eyes of imprisonment. Meanwhile her inner phantasmal chanted “Manatin Nir, Mutal Mantiram Parvai, Munravatu Mantirattai Unarunkal, Marrum Aaintavatu Mantiram Teksccar, Neptiyun Natcattirattiliruntu, Nan elu Katalkalaiyum Alaikkiren, Enakku Munnal en Etiri, Verri en Acai, Verrikkaka nan Pirarttanai Ceykiren, Mulu Nilavu Rani!” in unison, lancing between her chants so the full spell could be stated. Once she finished the ice began to emit lights that froze almost all it touched… all save her. “Thank you… Cantiran Cikappu Kanni” she whispered, thanking the phantasmal inside her. Once it was finished, the phantasmal was fully frozen. 

 

She walked out whispering in a chanting fashion “O Tannir Katti”, a blade of water forming. She stabbed into the ice where the spirit origin would be and with a nod began to cut out that part. She also for good measure began to cut it into pieces to gather it together. She could always recombine and restructure them later. All that mattered was that the prana and material she gathered survived. Before she could react however she felt something change inside her… then she felt it. Sea water in her throat. She almost threw up for some reason. Then she in a panic realized the problem; her water breathing spell wasn’t working. She was choking. She vomited as she tried to breathe. Her spell failed to register that she wasn’t breathing… then she looked and saw the eyes of the phantasmal stare at her with a hateful gaze. “Foolish mortal… I will not die so easily… you bested me… but I’ll take you with me! I cannot allow a mortal victory as a proud dragon and the descendent of Tiyamaj, goddess of salt water!”. Eyes wide, she realized her folly. Tiyamaj could easily be another name for Tiamat, the primordial mother. A being that was the primordial sea that made life itself… an evil of humanity. If she had known she was fighting such a phantasmal she’d never have attempted this. As she felt the last of her oxygen depleted, she begged her phantasmal to intervene… and then she sensed it. It was dead. Something had killed it. As it had supported half the spell, it of course could only half-work… as she died she regretted her arrogance. Perhaps… if she had just been less arrogant… she wouldn’t have died so tragically.