Asuha Chigusa is the second child of Yuu Chigusa and the real female lead of Qualidea Code. During humanity's war against the Unknowns, an unknown species of shapeshifting aliens that invaded Earth, all children were placed in cold sleep capsules to wait out the war. Years later, the children were revived after Humanity beat back the invaders enough to have a beachhead in the South Kanto region. These children were found to have supernatural powers, known as "Worlds", which allowed them to fight the Unknowns with relative ease.
Asuha, with her powerful World, entered the military branch of the Chiba coastal defense city. Her abilities, a cut above the rest, allowed her to just go out and fight, not worrying too much about strategy and letting the battlefield develop around her. She quickly rose through the ranks, and became the city's third-in-command even before she entered high school.
Around this time, one of the city's residents used her "World", which allowed her to induce feelings of adoration towards her, to interfere with and attempt to usurp Chiba's city head election process. She and her brother, Kasumi were kidnapped by her, but Asuha was able to use her "World" to create enough thermal stress to break free.
After she and Kasumi led an assault on the brainwasher, the entire election system was temporarily suspended, in favor of simply shoving the strongest fighter into the leading spot. Kasumi was nominated to that slot by the previous candidates, owing to his sniping skills and keen tactical mind. When he declared this, however, he was shaky and exhausted from overusing his "World". Asuha then pushed her brother over, and declared that she was now the strongest because she defeated him, in order to protect him from the front-line duties a city head was expected to take.
This worked, somehow, and Asuha became the city head with Kasumi acting as her second-in-command and the de facto city head who did all the actual work. After finding out that what the children thought were the Unknowns were actually unmanned vehicles sent by the surviving humans to rescue them, and finding out that their supposed caretakers were the actual Unknowns, Kasumi and Asuha rejoin their mother, Yuu.
Yuu has now taken the name Johannes and leads the remnants of Japan in a fleet against the Unknown, hoping to reclaim their homeland. Kasumi, Asuha, and their utter psychopath of a mother succeed in rallying the remaining children and attacking the Unknowns, sealing off their dimensional invasion portal over Southern Kanto.
- 1 Battle vs Kiritsugu Emiya and Maiya Hisau alongside Kasumi Chigusa (by Leolab)
- 1.1 Prologue: Through an Infinite Nothing
- 1.2 The Breath of Empty Space
- 1.3 The Light of the Stars Requires Time
- 1.4 Light Lanterns in the Morning
- 1.5 Backward, Sideward, Forward
- 1.6 Lightning and Thunder Require Time
- 1.7 Tombs and Sepulchers
- 1.8 Epilogue: It Has Not Yet Reached the Ears of Men
- 1.9 Expert's Opinion
Battle vs Kiritsugu Emiya and Maiya Hisau alongside Kasumi Chigusa (by Leolab)
Prologue: Through an Infinite Nothing
Kiritsugu takes a drag from his cigarette, exhaling the acrid smoke as he leans against one of the many oddly-designed buildings that littered DFederal feeling extremely out of place on the border of the red light district. His partner, Maiya, stood next to him, alert and watching for any signs of danger. The city had seen a sharp increase in crime since the Wolves tried their insurrection, the normally quiet grumblings emboldened by the government’s seeming neglect. Maiya taps the back of his hand, motioning with her head towards the figure cutting through the crowds. He stubs out his cigarette on the public-use ashtray, leaving it there.
“Good. You’re here,” Leo says, stopping before them.
“I was supposed to be helping Shirou at the soup kitchen. What happened?”
“Trouble. Big trouble, could endanger the Kadingir Project. Maybe the city, if it goes unopposed.”
“And the rest of the DFSB?”
“On other work. Probably shouldn’t mention it here, though. Hmm…” Leo says, scanning the alleyway behind Maiya. He waves for the pair to follow him, and they do so in silence. As they get halfway through the alley, however, a large man with spikes through his eyes, and the rest of his torso, leaps screaming from the top of the left building. In the time Maiya can draw her pistol, he’s already swung his axe through Leo’s raised arm, lodging its obsidian head directly in his heart. Kiritsugu halts Maiya with a gesture, noticing that none of the wounds are bleeding, and the severed arm is still hanging in the air.
“Let this be a message,” the figure gloats, “The Wolves are back in town, and we will…”
“Ingrate,” Leo says evenly, as the floating part of his hand extends, stretching like putty behind his attacker. It wraps around a metal protrusion between its shoulder blades and tugs, ripping the spike free without effort. The figure falls, dead, as Leo’s arm reconnects to his body. The tendril constricts, snapping the metal in two, before slithering back to turn into his hand. A simple tug frees the axe from his chest, which also melts back together.
The axe vanishes with a pop as he continues walking, unconcerned. The two assassins exchange a look before hurrying to catch up as Leo turns to a red door in the alley. He opens it and walks in before the two follow him to his office. The door squelches shut behind them as the panels on the bottom turn clear, displaying the entirety of DFederal below them.
“Two warriors have entered the city with no record.”
“How? That shouldn’t be possible, not without high authority or immense power.” Kiritsugu asks.
“Or both. But that’s what Menardi and Maia – not you, the other one – are assigned to. What concerns me more is that traces of their intention were left in the waiting room. Whoever let them in wants to kill Raziel, and her knowledge is vital for the Kadingir Project. It might be connected to last week’s incident, but that’s on Joker and Parcel.”
“They want to stop development of the new tracking system, then. Is there any information on the targets?”
“Ah, right, yes there is, despite the intruder’s attempt to get someone as obscure as possible. Fortunately, they’re a pair I’m familiar with,” Leo says, and snaps. Kiritsugu and Maiya both stagger, temporarily overwhelmed by having their brain structure forcibly modified. Kiritsugu, by now used to having knowledge implanted directly into his head, recovers first, steadying his partner as she panics.
“So we set up a defensive perimeter? Ensure these two don’t harm Raziel?” Maiya asks, still reeling from the intrusion.
“Or anyone else harms her, yes. Maiya, you will receive the usual bonus pay for collaborating. Kiritsugu, be sure not to fail. I would hate to need to look for a new member so soon. Dismissed.”
In the slums of DFederal, a girl – all of fifteen – with orange skin and white horns instead of hair sprints through the alleyways, chased by the shouts and occasional blaster fire of her pursuers in full-body white armor. Unable to reach one of Skully’s soup kitchens before they closed, Ashoka Tano was forced to steal food for today’s meal. Blaster fire whizzes past her, barely missing and singeing the few rags she had left for clothing. Just her bad luck that the Conduit, one of the cleaner bars in the slums, had the 501st Legion drinking in the front. Just her worse luck that Kessler caught her stealing from his kitchens and offered free drinks to whoever caught her.
She turns the corner, barely avoiding stepping on the piles of rags and flesh writhing through the streets, and falls as she collides with an elderly Chinese man wearing manacles. A blaster bolt finally hits its mark, and she screams as the plasma ruptures her stomach and superheats her insides, disemboweling her in a blast of evaporating bodily fluids and sublimating organs. These waft over the horrified Sun Tzu, before an arrow takes him through the back of the head and explodes. The 501st catch up to their quarry while a man in a bright purple outfit and a bow walks up behind the dead prisoner.
“She’s ours,” the Stormtroopers say, making aggressive motions with their carbines.
“He’s mine,” Hawkeye replies, pointing to the torso topped with gore.
“Then we’re good, Evictor’s Sparrow.”
As the two groups grow more confrontational, a nondescript boy with black hair and a flashier girl with red shrink back around the corner, trying to make their way to the Blue Collar District unnoticed.
“Onii, this city’s crazy,” Asuha says, sticking a little closer to her brother.
“Very crazy. And I think we mean the same kind, this time,” Kasumi agrees as they make their way through a quieter area. The pair makes their way slowly through the streets, Asuha showing her amazement and horror on her face while Kasumi’s is blank, as usual. He pulls her into a side rode as yelling footsteps come thundering towards them, the pair peeking cautiously out as a group of men and women in blue – and one who is blue himself – run past, not sparing them a glance
A few minutes later, they re-enter the main street and find their destination soon enough: a dilapidated apartment building in ill repair. They enter, unnoticed, and walk up to the fourth floor, continuing until they reach the fourth room.
As the bolt opens, a yell resounds from the room across. As the pair turn to look, the door for apartment 405, a good ten feet high, rises to be flush with the wall before dissolving into a mass of spiders.
They hurriedly open the door to their room and slam it shut behind them, revealing a shabby, wooden studio apartment with a kitchen, a bathroom and closet, and a bed on the three walls not containing a door. Asuha draws her pistols, doing a quick sweep of the apartment to be sure they’re alone, before entering the bathroom.
“Onii! There’s a laundry machine here. I’m going to shower first.”
“Sure, sure. I’ll make us some food,” Kasumi replies, opening the closet.
Inside is a pale, obese man with yellow eyes.
Kasumi slams the door shut, breathing heavily, before reopening it. The unneeded – and unwanted – reminder of their mission was gone, replaced by several sets of identical uniforms for both him and his sister, as well as some casual clothing. Whoever stocked this even included underwear.
“Asuha! There’s clothes in the closet!” he yells, and receives a muffled affirmation. He moves to the kitchen with a cynical smile, checking the pantry to see what’s available.
The Breath of Empty Space
The next day, Kasumi’s eyes snap open after a moderately restless night. The man with yellow eyes – who had turned into a slender, tanned, and considerably better-dressed man during his dream – had given them some more information on their target. As he rolls out of bed, he sees Asuha sitting at the table, phone out.
“Onii, make breakfast.”
“Sure thing, princess.”
A few minutes later, he places a plate of scrambled eggs in front of her, taking his own seat on the opposite side of the table. They eat in a comfortable silence, not feeling the need to speak. With their food finished, Kasumi rolls a map out on the table while Asuha washes the dishes.
“I assume we’ll check the place out first?” she asks, noisily putting the last plate on the drying rack.
“Huh. You can be cautious. You’ve grown. In some places.”
“Wow. Could you possibly make that sound any creepier?”
“Hmm… I could be more specific about the parts that haven’t…”
“Fine, fine,” Kasumi says, drawing a circle in red on the map, followed by a larger black one. “We’ll scout positions in this area in the morning,” he says, indicating the black circle, “and in the red in the evening.”
“Red for me, black for you?”
“Yes. I’ll take my scope, you take your pistols. The rifle would stand out too much, and they’re apparently looking for us.”
“And if we get spotted?”
“Then this weak brother will hide behind his little sister.”
“Hilarious,” Asuha says, grinning as she gets her gear ready. She holsters her pistols and waits by the door, tapping her foot impatiently. Kasumi joins her, and they open the door, trying not to stare at the blank wall where there was previously an apartment. They jog down the stairs, out the building, and around the corner, heading towards where their target lived.
Until they came across a massive figure with four arms and only two forearms, the large, vertical cavity that is its mouth noisily grinding a blonde corpse. The sixteen-foot tall giant has its four claws occupied by a blue dragon, two trying to tear her flailing wings off while the others pull at her neck and tail, trying to rip her in half. The siblings ignore Saphira’s telepathic pleas for help, electing to take another road to avoid the Gug.
Kiritsugu sits in a café across from a 7-storey building, taking a visual scan of the apartments within. The third window of six on the top floor holds his unaware ward, the blonde relaxing in a blue tracksuit after a long day of unpacking. The forced move doesn’t seem to have caused her much concern, if her relaxed manner was anything to go by.
He shakes his head, pushing the thought to the back of his mind, and looks across the street once more. The building was in one of the nicer parts of the Blue Collar district, a clear sign of the Users’ favor. Or, more accurately, one powerful User’s favor and the general apathy of the others. Kiritsugu’s former apartment was also in this area, though he tended to be away on work more often than not.
The apartments around them, one inhabited by Alistair Theirin and the other by Cole MacGrath, appeared secure, but with such large windows anything was a possible point of failure. He sighs and looks at his laptop, examining the blueprints once again, ignoring the periodic city-wide exhortations to stay alert. The rest of the DFSB was assigned to yesterday’s jailbreak, leaving him free to focus on this one task. He takes a sip of his coffee and puts down the cup, careful to avoid the table’s eye.
“You,” an annoyingly familiar voice comes from behind him, extracting another, larger sigh.
“You told Shirou you were working, and you are relaxing in a café? Have you no…”
“That building is my work. And you’re one to talk about shame, freeloader.”
“I know you do not like me dating your son, but to go so far as to destroy my apartment building…”
“Your apartment building?”
“Yes That room there is mine, on the sixth floor. You truly did not know?”
“No,” Kiritsugu says, frowning. There were simply too many possible methods to kill Raziel, thanks to the absurd modernist love of glass. And now he couldn’t discount someone tricking the gullibly honorable Saber into letting them in.
“You seem to be having a hard time of it,” Saber says, the slight smugness in her voice irritating him.
“Then tell me, Saber. If you were to be compelled to kill someone on the highest floor, how would you go about it?”
“I would knock on their door and challenge them to a duel.”
“Of course you would. I was a fool for asking,” he says, letting out his third sigh, “Maybe I should ask Leo to bring the Tohsaka girl into the city,” he mutters. By Saber’s glare, he wasn’t quite quiet enough.
“You think that will change Shirou’s mind? We’ve been together for years.”
“The Users’ preferences make subtle, subconscious changes. If enough think Rin’s a better match than you, well… maybe he’ll decide he prefers a girl who can make food as well as eat it.”
Saber growls at him before turning to walk off in a rage, glaring at everything between her and her apartment.
The Light of the Stars Requires Time
Asuha leans against a corner, one of the many between alleyways and the main streets, fidgeting with her phone and trying not to look too far out of place. A quick glance had told her all she needed to know: she can fight here if needed. Despite what she’d said in the morning, this sort of scouting and planning wasn’t really her strong suit. At the sound of marching and yelling, she pokes her head around the corner before swiftly retreating back into the alley.
The noise was from a large group of people, all holding signs and yelling about freeing prisoners. As a “Free Mothman” sign passed, Asuha noticed a slender, pale girl in an eye-catching red hood on a roof opposite, looking at the protestors through the scope of her rifle. When the “Greasers did nothing wrong” sign passed, she noticed a bat hovering next to her, a camera taped to its leg.
Getting a bad feeling about it, she surreptitiously draws one of her pistols and points it at the flying mammal, channeling her “World” to flash-freeze it as it turned to look at the motion. It falls, the chink of shattering ice lost in the demonstration. She scoops up the camera, taking a further step back into the alley as she opens it and takes out the SD card that held the footage, crushing it in her fist.
She uses her “World” again, burning the device, and walks towards the other street, texting her brother to keep watch for bats. She stops near the mouth of the alleyway; behind its fangs – mercifully fake this time – lay a desiccated corpse, the remaining grey hair and stereotypical wizard robes marking it as, well, an old wizard. She notices a wallet off to the side, only slightly less tattered than the corpse itself. She lifts it, ignoring the monogrammed “A.P.W.B.D” and grabbing a few bills before throwing it back down.
“Thank you. Sorry,” Asuha mutters to the corpse, stuffing the money into her pocket. Kasumi would probably scold her if he found out, but they needed money. She steps out into the street, this one mercifully clear of protestors. She jogs across, weaving around the stalled, redirected traffic and into a convenience store. She snatches up a berry and cream sweet bun, ponying over a bit of her recent windfall to the bespectacled schoolgirl cashier, and taking a seat on the tables outside.
A quick glance again told her she could fight on that street, and its roofs, so she leans back in her chair, munching on the soft, chewy treat she had procured. A screen set up on the end shows a group of four people in masks - two wearing orange, one purple, and one green – in a semicircle in front of a composed Caucasian male, with stiff brown hair and a skinny tie.
The green-hoodied man slams his hand on the table, visibly startling two of the other guests and the host, while the one in a full-face mask just tilts his head, every bone of his body radiating bored annoyance. Asuha was slightly impressed; the full-masked man was even more natural at appearing irritated than her brother.
“And with the rising homelessness, the pair of you think it best to do what? Evict more?” Beast yells, clearly agitated, “And as if the homeless problem wasn’t bad enough, there’s now reports of mass deportations! The city is failing its citizens, and what is the government doing? La nul… nothing! Worse than that, current policies are exacerbating the issues we face.”
“That’s time, Beast,” Connor says hesitantly. The man takes a deep breath, composing himself, before sitting in his seat.
“Okay… moving on to Leo,” the android says, “Do you have any comments on how to fix the homeless crisis Beast has so passionately brought up? Or anything to say regarding the accusations that Appel is leveraging the Red Light districts to detain and deport warriors?”
“Laq already has the DFederal Homeless Relief Initiative, which I believe all four of us have contributed to. Sadly, it’s much easier to evict than it is to create a home. As for the second… Appel’s deportations are in line with the laws as written, so there’s no need for me to comment. Finally, with regards to Beast’s tirade, I’d like to remind you that the man himself is currently Bureau. One of the top two members of the government he so criticizes. Which begs the question of why he himself is not using his power to fix that which he hates. If we’re done with this farce, I have work to do.”
Asuha snorts as the channel hurriedly cuts to commercial, polishing off her food. She gets up, giving the girl behind the counter a friendly wave before walking off to continue figuring out where she could support Kasumi if her brother slipped up.
Maiya jogged through the still-bustling streets, a cloth-covered cage banging against her back. She spared the orb overhead a glance, even knowing its phase could change within the next ten seconds. As suspected, the full moon turned crescent in a blink, as if a giant mouth had taken a bite out of it. She brings the scope of her AUG to her eye, using it as a makeshift telescope in idle curiosity. Noting that the moon actually did have bite marks, she lowers the gun, deftly stepping around a fleshy, black sac of Darkspawn Taint.
She jumps into an alleyway, using her momentum to swing up a roof access ladder. One thing she had learned was to never stay in the alleyways at night longer than you had to; there were too many stories of people dying with nary a scratch, only to not know why after their resurrection. A low growling under her proves her right to hurry. A look below her showed a pack of large, black-furred dogs crunching and devouring the corpse of a Chinese man with numerous cybernetic implants. Leaving Kai to yet another humiliation, she gets on with her work.
She kneels on the thrumming rooftop, focusing her mind to force the building to remain stable. That taken care of, she sets down the cage and reaches in, pulling out a small bat before closing it again. She grabs a small camera from her pack, and secures it on the animal’s leg. She pokes its nose, giving a small smile as the animal yawns, pawing at her finger, and slowly opens its eyes. She closes hers, completing the simple magic to turn the animal into her familiar.
The bat flies into the sky, sharing its senses with Maiya. As it does so, its eyes notice a rainstorm localized over an intersection. Curious, she directs the bat towards the disturbance, noting that all the lights were red. A short blond girl, dressed all in blue, points a dolphin-shaped squirt gun at the storm from outside it. Flying closer, the bat was able to make out a winged humanoid flying in the storm. The girl, now recognizable as Liliana Guenther, focuses, and the falling raindrops melt together, creating countless massive chains of water.
The girl gives a command, and the chains wrap around Mothman and bind themselves to the streetlights, forcing the creature to the ground. It slams into the asphalt, the water now changing to a gel-like adhesive. The bat flew further towards it, driven by a sudden need to know what would happen to an escaped prisoner.
The familiar was a little too close, as it was unable to react as the asphalt itself rose, the corners meeting in a pseudo-sphere. Before the bat could fly through the gaps, the entire square twisted, rising into a column visible even from Maiya’s location. She cut her connection to the bat as its bones start to beak under the pressure, and uses her AUG’s scope to watch as the large, twisted column collapses again, returning to the flat square it was earlier.
There’s no trace of the obviously pulped Mothman – or her familiar – in sight. Traffic continues through the intersection, as if no being was casually murdered on the spot. No surprise, as it was what passed for normal in this city. Maiya sighs, lamenting the wasted familiar, and puts her rifle down.
She takes out another bat, affixing another camera onto its leg before turning it into a familiar and releasing it. She cuts the sensory connection early this time, and repeats the process. She had to set up a net tonight, to ensure that she would catch the siblings tomorrow. They were nearby; one of her familiars saw a flash of red hair before being frozen solid earlier in the evening.
The bat would be avenged.
Light Lanterns in the Morning
Kiritsugu sits on a bench in front of one of the many open squares in the more urban sections of the Blue Collar district, smoking with his eyes closed. The district had been his home for years, and he still felt more comfortable here rather than in his new house. The familiar, slightly chilly morning air blew the smoke away, drifting along with his thoughts. A rustle of cloth beside him announced Maiya, his partner waiting patiently for him to open his eyes.
“Oh, hi,” a slightly less patient – but no less welcome – voice called, and Kiritsugu pried his eyes open. Between him and the blood-red fountain stood a youth with orange hair, his adopted son.
“Shirou. Sorry I couldn’t help out.”
“No, you have work. That’s understandable, it’s just…”
“We haven’t had much time together recently. Tell you what, I’ll make some time after this job’s finished, and we can have dinner or something.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Shirou says, hitting his palm with his fist, “I’m having dinner with Saber tonight.”
“I think I’ll pa…”
“We’re having a welcoming party for her new upstairs neighbors,” Shirou says, plowing through the pair of dissatisfied scowls as his girlfriend’s name comes up, “I think they were… Sorami, Lilith, Setsuna, and Raziel?”
At the list of names, Kiritsugu and Maiya exchange a glance, before Kiritsugu nods.
“If you’re inviting me so earnestly, how can I refuse? I’ll keep tonight clear.”
“Thank you! Maiya, do you want to…”
“No. Someone needs to do his share, too.”
“I… alright, then. See you tonight, old man.”
Shirou walks away, a bit of a spring in his step as he heads to school after the two-day holiday while investigations into North University’s staff – from pre to high school – took place. Kiritsugu grimaces when remembering the incident; investigations were DFPD’s department, but the disturbing scene had been plastered all over the news. Noticing his rapidly souring mood, Maiya feels it time to speak.
“Does Shirou’s invitation change anything?”
“Not in the morning, plan stays the same. Shadow her on her way to and at work, I’ll see where she can be attacked. As she returns, we switch. I eat with Shirou, you watch for vulnerabilities. I’ll see if I can snag you some food.”
“Sounds nice,” Maiya says as she gets up, “I’ll make my way to her building now. See you at night.”
“All right. I’ll be watching from above.”
A few minutes later, Maiya silently watches as Raziel and her friends walk out of their apartment, oblivious to the danger and to the ones keeping them safe. Maiya sits at the bus stop while they stand and chat, waiting in good humor. And in good humor they should be, as their lives should finally be settling down.
The cost-free bus that would end at DFederal East University pulls up, the quartet entering the front half, reserved for students at this hour. Maiya herself hops into the back half, leaning into one of the seats and closing her eyes, letting her other senses sharpen to fill in the void. Her eyes flutter open for a second as she studiously ignored Kayneth’s dissatisfied click of the tongue, before opening wide again as she sees a few black specs floating past the bus, an unusual black marking on Kayneth’s neck, and a massive sword in the sky rapidly being covered by fog.
She pulls the emergency stop notification as the surrounding fog grows denser, springing to punch the rival magus in the face as the bus screeches to a halt. He collapses under the blow, and she wastes no time before tossing him out one of the opening doors before slamming it shut.
“Close the doors and windows, quickly,” she shouts, “It’s Black Dandelion!”
A flurry of activity goes through the bus, everyone making sure the vehicle was nearly airtight. That done, the activity in the bus dies down as everyone retakes their seat.
“Ah, I hope Professor Iwafune accepts this as late,” one of the students near her mutters, a slightly dirty yet still well-dressed man with a black notebook in his pocket.
“He’s out there fighting it, dipshit,” another voice says, this one from a less certain direction, causing the student to glare around him.
The kids chuckle, not even flinching when a man wearing red-stained white slams into the side of the bus, the black tendrils wrapped around his hand and bow. A flash of green holds him in the air, and the plant matter retreats, rapidly shrinking to a small seed which is quickly enveloped in an orange light and vanishes.
A scream and gasps come from the front, drawing knowing smiles from the other commuters. The newbies would get used to this soon enough. After several minutes of gunfire and corpses slamming into the bus, the fog lifts. Corpses, blood, and wrecked cars strew the ground, even blocking the road. A door to a convenience store directly across from Maiya opens, showing Leo stepping out before sealing off the scenery of his office.
The man looks around, nodding to himself, and snaps. The corpses, injured, and wreckage vanish, leaving a clear road. He taps on the glass at the front, gesturing for the bus driver to continue before giving a small wave and walking into the convenience store, not connecting the door to his office this time.
The bus moves as bidden, taking the students to yet another Friday at school.
Kasumi and Asuha walk down the street, both armed today. The man in sunglasses had showed up in their dreams again, exhorting them to see a specific information dealer in the slums. As they entered that part of the city, the air suddenly turns rank and hazy, as if an invisible boundary kept the atmosphere of the districts separate.
Though with all they’d seen, that wasn’t as far-fetched as they would have liked. The siblings continued in silence, ignoring the suspicious looks thrown their way. They walked confidently, Kasumi remembering some of the words of dubious wisdom his mother had drilled into him:
“If you act like it’s natural, no one will care if you pick their pocket.”
“Seriously, was she trying to make me a supervillain or something?” he mutters.
“Hmm?” Asuha says, as he feels her eyes on his back.
“Just remembering something Mom once told me.”
“Oh. Say, Onii, what was she like?” Asuha asks, genuinely curious.
“Right, you were too young when we entered cold sleep. Hmm… She would fit right in at Kannagawa, I guess?”
“Tell me about it.”
Necessary information exchanged, the pair falls quiet again. After a few minutes, Kasumi feels a tug on his sleeve. He turns, and follows the subtle incline of Asuha’s head to see the sign they were looking for. A minute nod later, the two step up to the door, gathering themselves before opening it.
They enter The Conduit, and are almost immediately glared at by the elderly man behind the counter, wrapped in cloth with a few glowing blue pieces of metal slapped over it.
“I don’t serve kids,” Kessler snarls, glaring at them.
“We were told to come here by a… Mr. B,” Kasumi says
“Ah, you’re them. Well, I do owe Mr. B quite a bit,” Kessler says, friendlier this time as he traces a finger around his neck. He waves them over, and after a quick glance between them Asuha sits next to the door while Kasumi slides up to the bar.
“So, a quick dossier on your target. Name is Raziel, attends East University as a high school student, despite being an angel about as old as time itself. Works at a bookstore in the White Collar District on the weekends. Lives with Sorami Kagutsu, Setsuna Tendou, and Lilith, who attend the same school. Sorami works as a waitress in a restaurant near their new apartment, Setsuna is an assistant instructor at a martial arts club in the Wealthy District, and is dating Lilith, who… works somewhere. The woman is impenetrable, even with my network.”
“Sounds like sniping her at night is the right way to go.”
“Yes, it does. Now as for who’s chasing you… I have an idea, but nothing concrete. This man was monitoring the area around Raziel’s apartment yesterday,” Kessler continues, pushing forward an image.
“That’s… me? But no, he’s older…”
“Kiritsugu Emiya. A skilled and ruthless hunting dog. He’s probably partnered with someone, but I don’t know who. You’ll need to take extreme care; he’s with the secret police.”
“Sounds bad,” Kasumi says, staring at the photo.
“It is. The regular cops catch you, you get capped and tossed in the Illegal District for a while based on what you did. That’s just endless bright red light, so strong that you can’t even tell when your eyes are closed. Or even see anything other than that light at all, but that’s the easy crap. Those guys have something special. Instead of the light, you relive the worst, most painful moments of your life. Over and over, until you scream for it to stop. Then they change to the second-worst.” Kessler growls, clearly speaking from experience.
“Hey, Onii, those black things look creepy,” Asuha says, staring outside.
Kessler looks up, seeing the drifting black specs as Kasumi also turns around. The old man immediately slams a button under the table, dropping thick steel shutters on both sides of the door and windows. He looks back at his patrons and holds his hands in the air, seeing three gun barrels on him at point-blank range.
“Trust me. You don’t want to be outside when that happens,” he says, turning the TV on and changing the channel to the news as muffled screams and the sounds of tearing flesh make it through the corrugated metal.
“… and we are advising citizens to stay inside for the time being, as there has been a confirmed Black Dandelion outbreak. The affected districts are Blue Collar and the Slums,” a woman in a skintight black suit and really long hair says, the light reflecting off her glasses, “These outbreaks are growing more frequent. Lancelot, as our chief political commentator do you have any insight on why the government seems incapable of intervening?”
“GRaaGH, raar, GARR!” the man in black armor growls.
“I see. Very insightful,” the woman says, clearly holding back her irritation.
“Grrrr. RAWR GRAWR RAUHR!”
“Yes, thank you, Lancelot. We at DFNN will give updates as the story develops…”
A clink in front of them startles the siblings back to the bar, as Kessler places a pair of plates in front of them, one with an oversized hamburger and the other with fish and chips, and an accompanying pot of tea.
“On the house. I’ll leave the files on the counter. Run like mad once it’s safe,” Kessler says, retreating back into the kitchen.
Backward, Sideward, Forward
Kiritsugu smokes while looking up at an apartment building, waiting for his son to show up. While he could have simply asked Saber to let him in, that would require interacting with his former Servant without a mediator. He finally spots Shirou, the short orange hair giving it away, and takes a few steps to toss the remains of his cigarette in the public ashtray.
“You could have gone in,” Shirou says, trying to hold several bags of groceries.
“And gotten into another argument with Saber before you got here?” Kiritsugu asks, taking some of the bags off of Shirou’s arm.
“Come on, you two aren’t that bad.”
“We are,” Kiritsugu replies as he holds the door. Shirou enters Saber’s security pin, and the pair enter the lobby. A short elevator ride later, Shirou knocks on Saber’s door.
“Saber! The old man and I are here!”
The door cracks open, showing blonde hair and her usual white blouse. Saber, looking surprisingly agreeable, peeks out to confirm their identities. Satisfied, she fully opens the door, letting them in. Kiritsugu puts down the food next to the kitchen, after which Shirou shoos him into the living room.
Noticing a glint on the other side of the ceiling-to-floor window, he surreptitiously fishes a laser pointer from his sleeve and points it at the shine. It drops, presumably after Maiya flinched from a laser pointer to the eye, and he continues checking the rooftops.
“What are you doing?” Saber asks, her normally combative tone softened for once as she joins him at the window.
“Work. This building in particular is the most likely target for an attack, as there’s plenty here who have the favor of the Users. Now that public sentiment against the government is growing, we can’t discount that the malcontents might attack this place, seeking to hurt the Users by proxy,” Kiritsugu replies, weaving some fact into his fiction to make it believable.
“I see. I suppose my ‘challenge them to a duel’ idea was less then helpful, then.”
“I apologize, then,” Saber says. Kiritsugu turns to look at her, guarded suspicion in his eyes. This was far too abrupt a change from how she usually acted in his presence. She tilts her head as well, troubled by his searching glare.
“You’re unusually polite today,” he says, voicing his discomfort.
“I do not always wish to argue,” Saber replies. The suspicion in his eyes only grows, however, and she looks at the floor, disheartened.
“Oi, Kiritsugu, relax a bit. I asked her to keep the fighting to a minimum tonight,” Shirou calls from the kitchen.
“I see,” he says, pointing the laser pointer at another flash of a scope lens, “I’m sorry as well, Saber.”
“No, your suspicion was warranted. I have previously shamed myself by arguing overmuch,” Saber says, clearly taken aback. She obviously did not expect him to agree to the forced truce, and Kiritsugu’s mouth twitches. No doubt they’d be at each other’s throats tomorrow.
“Ah, speaking of Saber shaming herself. Shirou, have you told them about, well...?” Kiritsugu asks, bunching his hair up in an attempt to mimic the girl’s ahoge. Shirou gives a wry smile when he looks, while Saber turns red enough to be mistaken for an apple.
“No, I haven’t. Don’t think I should, seeing how Lilith acts.”
“Smart, but you do need to tell Raziel. She’s liable to pluck it while spaced out.”
“Ah. I’ll leave that to you?”
“Sure. Don’t want Saber going Alter and ruining the meal.”
“Hey, Onii,” Asuha says, lazing on the bed in their apartment, “you think we can actually go home?”
“If leaving were an option the city would be nicer,” Kasumi says, sitting on the chair next to her while once again leafing through the files they got from Kessler.
“Yeah… never thought I’d miss Chiba.”
“I’d even take Tokyo.”
“Tokyo? Really? Even with what’s-his-face?”
The two fall quiet for a second, the pair of bad communicators trying to figure out what the other was thinking. After a moment, Kasumi leans in towards her.
“You know what I don’t miss?” he asks.
“What?” Asuha asks, before he taps her at the base of the neck. She jumps, letting out a startled squeal, before retreating to the wall and glaring at him.
“Codes,” he says, tapping the base of his own neck in turn. “I think it’s best if we rest tomorrow until the night.”
She nods lazily and flops back onto the bed, eyes closing.
The next night, a refreshed Asuha walks up the stairs of a building, a couple blocks from the apartment of the girl they were to kill. Her job this time was simple: perch on the water tower and tell Kasumi when movement slowed. She kicks the door open, and stops in surprise when she sees the two figures setting up their own surveillance net.
“Kiritsugu. It’s her.”
Across from her were Kiritsugu Emiya and Maiya Hisau, just as surprised as she was.
Lightning and Thunder Require Time
Asuha throws herself into a roll as she draws her pistols, dodging the hail of gunfire aimed at her. She fires at both as she leaps, using her “World” immediately to send a gout of flame out of one muzzle. Kiritsugu ducks under the fire, leveling his Contender at Asuha, while Maiya flanks her at point blank range, taking aim with her pistol.
Riding the momentum, Asuha sweeps her leg out, not quite tripping Maiya, and lands on one leg. She leaps over Kiritsugu’s head, aiming for the water tower and leveling one of her pistols at him in turn. Kiritsugu had read the move, however, and fired his Contender above him. Thinking quickly, Asuha uses her “World” to halt the bullet in its tracks. It falls, hitting the ground as she lands on the water tower and immediately kicks off, heading to the streets below.
She holsters one pistol as she sprints down the street, replacing it with her cell phone. Ignoring the startled yells around her, she hits the speed dial, and after a few tense rings her brother picks up.
“Lonely? Wanted to hear your onii-chan’s voice?” Kasumi asks wryly.
“Gross. Got company.”
“Who? And where?”
“That guy we were warned about and some chick. Ran into them at the water tower.”
“Keep your phone on speaker and head to me. I’ll keep you covered.”
“Roger,” Asuha says, sticking the phone in her skirt pocket and points one pistol behind her while re-drawing the other. She channels her “World” as strongly as she can, halting all motion on the sidewalk behind her, preventing even cries of alarm from reaching her ears. As the resulting chill reaches her, she speeds it up, making the building next to her nearly hot enough to melt asphalt. The rapid shift causes cracks in the brick and shatters the windows, the shards of which she then halts entirely in midair.
Kiritsugu, chasing the young girl, lets the Calico drop to his side. He then leans back, sliding on the still-frozen ground while activating Time Alter. Using the sped-up time to reload his Contender, he fires at his quarry as he comes out from under the glass, too close to dodge.
A spark in midair announces Kasumi, giving his sister cover. His bullet causes the Contender’s to ricochet, instead sending it through a silvery membrane and into the shoulder of a passing university professor on his way home.
Ignoring Kayneth’s gurgling and screaming, Asuha ducks around him and into a small gap between two buildings. Kiritsugu elbows his flailing form into the street as he turns to see the girl flipping up on top of a building and kicking off the roof, sailing clear across the street. He runs to the next corner and turns it, trying to keep the redhead in sight. Maiya zooms past him in their car, window down with her rifle resting on the mirror.
She makes a few shots, trying to pin the girl down. These don’t work, and the back window of the car rolls down. A bat flies out, speeding towards the girl as she runs across the roof. The familiar, sharing senses with Maiya, makes her aim more accurate. She fires, barely missing as the car speeds past. That was enough, however, killing Asuha’s momentum and sending her tumbling down to the ground. As she drifts the car, trying to make a U-turn in the mercifully empty intersection, several impacts on the passenger side unbalance the vehicle.
It flips, skidding about a block on its roof. It comes to a stop, Maiya straining to breathe through a broken rib. A wet thud stops even that, the bullet ripping her throat open as it passed before ricocheting off of a sewer manhole and intercepting another Contender bullet heading for Asuha.
Kiritsugu quickly raises his Calico, firing to keep Asuha off balance. The girl simply slows the bullets and jumps, using the overturned car as a stepping stone to leap clear over the building diagonal to him. He sees a muzzle flash from a building four blocks ahead of him, forcing him to crouch behind the car for cover. His eyes harden as he sees Maiya’s corpse, and then widen when realizes he hasn’t heard the shot hit anywhere nearby. That meant one of two things, both bad.
“I told you he was a sniper, you dolt,” Leo’s annoyed voice echoes in his head, confirming the worst, “Raziel’s dead. At least kill them so we can interrogate them.”
Tombs and Sepulchers
Kiritsugu closes his eyes for a second, and then rolls out from behind the car, sprinting down the street. First priority was the sniper, second was the mage girl. If Leo’s intel was correct, the pair is likely to make meeting up a priority. He glares ahead of him as he reloads his Contender, discarding the Calico entirely. If the sniper couldn’t turn off his magic, it was the boy’s bad luck.
Then, he saw his chance. The door of the building a few blocks ahead opened, and the sniper walked out. Kiritsugu snaps off a shot at the boy, before activating Time Alter and throwing his knife at inhuman speed. He reloads as he sprints, the boy dodging the knife but moving into the path of the bullet. It grazes his shoulder, but his eyes grow wide with shock and pain as the Origin Bullet does its work.
A flash of red hair crosses Kiritsugu’s vision, Asuha sprinting to save her brother. Kiritsugu lets them go and turns the corner, still in Double Accel. Even if he died here, he’d just be revived and spit back into the world, only half-sure of his sanity. He shakes the intruding thoughts from his head as he sprints across the street and around another corner, halting when he reaches the street. He quickly checks in both directions, and notices a small trickle of blood coming from the side of the building to his right, leading to an entryway.
Exerting his will to stave off the world’s attempts to correct the flow of time, he runs towards it and extends his Contender as he passes the stone shielding the entryway from view. He and the sniper had their guns pointed at each other.
“Why did you kill Raziel?” he asks, taking advantage of the situation to try and get intel. The boy, however, simply points to one of his ears, the blood trail from them running down his face. Kiritsugu tightens his finger on the trigger, hesitance to shoot someone who looked like his younger self in the face interfering with his duty.
A phone buzzed in the teen’s pocket, giving him an excuse to give in to sentimentality. At Kasumi’s questioning look, Kiritsugu nods. The teen slips his hand into his pocket, slowly, and retrieves his smartphone. He reads the message, then flips it around to face Kiritsugu. It appeared to be a message log between him and Asuha, with the most recent message being “Show the man the phone.” As Kiritsugu stares, more messages come in.
“We didn’t want to do this,” the first sentence read, and more came in a flurry. “Killing humans is not something we like. Normally we’d turn ourselves in. But not to you. You hurt Onii.”
Getting a bad feeling about this, Kiritsugu uses his speed to roll to the right, dodging Kasumi’s shot that came a split second later, turning his Contender to aim at the light that appeared above him. Time Alter chose that moment to collapse, throwing his aim off before Asuha unleashes a blast of fire hot enough to make the sidewalk glow.
Epilogue: It Has Not Yet Reached the Ears of Men
“So you’re saying a yellow-eyed demon showed up in your dreams, changed into an well-dressed tanned man, and instructed you to kill Raziel in exchange for getting to go home?” Menardi asks, the pink-skinned Proxian looking at the Chigusas incredulously.
“Well, yes,” Kasumi says, sighing inwardly.
“I see. It’s as we thought, Saturos,” she says, and the blue-skinned man leaning against the wall nods.
“Yes. Especially since…”
“Not in front of them,” Menardi warns, and the door opens. Past the bald man holding a futuristic gun walks a man in a grey jacket, blue shirt, a mask, and cargo pants. There was a worrying splash of blood on his right hand, which simply vanished once Saturos pointed to it.
“Well, he was lying about you being able to go home, at least,” he says, “Even if you were to be kicked out of the city, you would simply cease to exist.”
“So we’re trapped here?” Asuha asks, narrowing her eyes in anger.
“Pretty much, but I’ve pulled a couple strings. Your little altercation with Kiritsugu and Maiya will be counted as a battle, securing you each a home in the White Collar District. It’s a far nicer area than that Blue Collar District apartment you were holed up in. 404… a bad joke, that.”
“Separately?” Kasumi asks, causing Asuha to punch him in the back, “This for your security?”
“No, it’s how things work here,” Saturos says, “If you like we can set you up in the two halves of a duplex.”
“It’s not unusual. Saturos and I are set up like that,” Menardi says, much friendlier than during the interrogation.
“Please,” Asuha says immediately.
“Wait, you’ve still got attached houses? Aren’t you in the Wealthy District now?” Leo asks.
“… Yes,” Saturos answers, clearly embarrassed.
“We will need to give them some form of tracker before the Kadingir Project is finished… All right, I’ll leave those two to you. I’ll be debriefing our other pair of idiots in my office. Oh, and our department’s security level will be wartime tomorrow on, but the city will stay in lax.” At a nod from the two Proxians, Leo turns and opens the door, connecting it to his office. He steps in and closes it, sighing before walking to the other side of his desk.
He sits down, exerting his will to rematerialize Kiritsugu and Maiya in front of him, breaking just about all the city regulations about revivals in the process. The pair appears, tense and looking around wildly. Little surprise, as their last memories and sensations were being killed in the midst of combat. He waits until they calm down and return to a resting position before speaking.
“We’ve failed. Maiya, you will get half pay, a memory wipe, and a teleport to your new Blue Collar District apartment.” Leo snaps as soon as he finishes, not giving the woman time to react before she vanishes from the room. That done, he stares at Kiritsugu for a few seconds.
“I’m sorry. I suppose I’m fired, then?”
“No. Lucky you, we’re about to enter the wartime security level, and I can’t afford to lose anyone. Redeem yourself then.”
“Wartime? Has Raziel not been revived?”
“Her body has.”
“That’s go… only her body?” Kiritsugu asks, gritting his teeth as Leo nods, “Farouk, then?”
“Yes. Kiritsugu, you went underequipped this time.”
“I’ve told you how we operate here. Crush. With. Full. Force. Yet you didn’t even retrieve Avalon, or ask me to duplicate it, once you knew Saber would be nearby.”
Kiritsugu falls silent, unable to refute Leo’s words. The simplicity of their earlier jobs had made him complacent. Then, without warning, a pair of objects fly at him. He catches them, noting that one is indeed Avalon, while the other is a dark red cloth bag.
“Avalon won’t work without Saber nearby to provide mana,” he says, slightly confused.
“Which is why one of her fingers is in that sack. Keep both on you. Dismissed.”
Before Kiritsugu can react, he also vanishes, leaving Leo alone in his office. Wherever that actually was, it was a decidedly physical space. Nowhere where he can grasp a soul. He leans back in his chair, realizing he’s forgetting something important. Something that appears to have been walled off in his head, or perhaps the entire city’s.
It had been some time since he had a challenge. This was going to be interesting.
Raziel materializes into a small room, the walls yellow and the floor a checkerboard pattern. Rather than pieces, however, a young man in a tattered, green hoodie and long hair gapes at her, while a woman in a blue dress and pink hair stared vapidly into space. Raziel idly wonders if she looks like that to her friends, when the green-hoodied man recovers his voice.
“But wait, Akechi prevented… how are you dead?”
“A gun from far away,” Raziel says, looking around, “Where’s this?”
“Astral plane. You control it with your mind, creating what you imagine.”
Raziel thinks for a second, and her tablet falls into her hands. Nodding, she looks at the wall, materializing a door. She opens it, revealing a library on a cosmic scale, the shelves stretching out of sight.
“Thank you. I’ll be reading,” she says, and steps through the door.
“Wait, at least…” Beast says, getting up to try and keep the only human company he’s had in eons from leaving. Raziel closes the door behind her as she enters, leaving him with his hand stretched. After a second, he sits down and holds his head in his hands, cursing that Leo’s paranoia prevents him from making contact. As her creator despairs, Ramona 2.0 stares at the spot the door used to be.
He is alone, once again, with just his thoughts.
In this match, both pairs of partners needed to work together and support each other. Having both members on the field was key to victory, and Maiya was the weakest link of the four. With her out first, Kiritsugu was quickly double-teamed and taken down.