Fate/Zero:Act 3 Part 1
Fuyuki city, Shinto―
The housing district at the east of the Mion River is a new town reclaimed from a once empty wasteland; it is different from the history the Miyama town originally has, but it is being refined in a large-scale redevelopment project from the government to build a modern business district over the ancient site.
The buildings in the area planned as a business district are only 40% complete, but the maintenance of the park and shopping mall in front of the station is already done; the future plans are already done for the Shinto district to be clean and sterile, pompous and with no individuality. The city hall is also being moved piece by piece to Shinto, revived with modern iron, glass, and mortar, stealing all central municipal functions from Miyama.
It is already crowded even during holidays. In the middle of the crowd going back and forth, cowering from the northern wind, Emiya Kiritsugu disappeared, colorless and odorless without attracting any attention.
His shirt and coat worn for a long time and his lack of baggage give him a slacking appearance that wouldn't make you think of someone who has immigrated. As a matter of fact, he has been like that since he walked in the country up to Shinto in Fuyuki, but Japan still remains his native country. Being used to coming and going, he still felt better in this country.
With a complex feeling, Kiritsugu looked down on the cigarette paper package he had just bought from a vending machine.
It's been 9 years he has stopped smoking. He hasn't been able to find his favorite brand in the far land of the Einzberns, but that was mainly in regard for the mother and child. Just as he came down at the Fuyuki station, prepared for battle, he had thrown a coin in the vending machine out of habit.
Since he has bought a disposable lighter from a convenience store to get back the sensation, he breaks open the cigarette pack. The white of the row of filters is dazzling.
He put one in his mouth and lit it. As if there wasn't a blank of 10 years, he was able to redo the movements naturally. The aroma flowing into his lungs, he got used to the taste as if he had been doing it just the day before.
Kiritsugu looks at the transformed scenery, completely different from the one he vividly remembers in his heart.
He visited Fuyuki in reconnaissance under cover three years earlier, but the face of Shinto has completely changed since then. This isn't unexpected, but this is beyond what he imagined. He needs to confirm the neighborhood again.
Despite the slight difficulty from the transformation of the area, Kiritsugu reached the hotel he wanted.
The lobby and the front have been arranged, but the interior is a fairly cheap business hotel. Families or wanderers, this hotel is a good harbor for quite a wide genre of users.
Acting as if he knew the place, Kiritsugu walks through the lobby up to the elevator, up to the seventh floor. This is where his faithful subordinate has been for three days, in room 73.
In the world of magi, his relation with Hisau Maiya would be that of a pupil and a teacher.
But to Kiritsugu, who saw magecraft as a mere tool he has acquired knowledge in, and not as the object of his quest, there wasn't a single sense of master and pupil. What he has taught to Maiya is merely a "way to fight". This too is only for the purpose of counting her as a "tool". This is from a time when he went through countless desperate battles for a utopia that could never be fulfilled, when he didn't know about the existence of the Grail.
Hence his connection to Maiya is older than the one with Irisviel. Having fought at his side, Maiya knows of the blood-stained side of Kiritsugu that his wife has never seen.
As he knocked at a pre-arranged rhythm on the door of room 73, the door opened immediately as if he had been expected. Skipping unnecessary greetings with a mere glance at each other, Kiritsugu enters the room and closes the door.
Maiya has already been involved for a while. After Kiritsugu retreated, she has arranged the preparations for the Grail War according to the instructions given by Kiritsugu from overseas, and has been busy with returning to the Einzbern castle many times.
Handsome, fair-skinned, she was a beauty who used neither eye-liner nor lipstick. Her long eyes and her gaze seem to be always scrutinizing suspiciously, but she deliberately leaves an impression of indifference. Her jet black, silk-like straight hair catch the glance of many men but her cold, sharp look definitely makes any lady-killer give up.
Anyway, they have known each other for over 10 years. She was still a young girl when they met, but since she isn't a child anymore, she sharpened her sagacity as a characteristic; when with that type of beauty, normal people tire easily, Kiritsugu was the opposite. She is a woman who constantly saw the reality, and could sometimes give out an accurate judgment more merciless than Kiritsugu. With her, Kiritsugu didn't have to be ashamed of his foul plays or detest his cruelty. This could put him to some sort of rest.
"The Tōsaka mansion moved last night."
Maiya started by jumping straight to the point.
"Please watch the records of it. Also, all the equipment has arrived."
"Understood. First, the situation."
Nodding, Maiya switches the decoder of the unpacked television.
Amongst the magecraft Kiritsugu had taught her, Maiya was particularly capable in the management of regular familiars, and Kiritsugu often entrusted her with scouting or reconnaissance missions. This time again, Kiritsugu has assigned her to the surveillance of the Matō and Tōsaka mansions.
The familiars Maiya has pride in are bats, but unlike other magi, her bats have a miniature CCD camera tied on the abdomen. Of course, this is an idea of Kiritsugu. The illusions and camouflaged bounded fields of magi are often based on using suggestions on an observer, but that sort of things often forget about electronic-based counter measures. Video records are also helpful for re-watching, so even considering it slows down the familiar the joint use of cameras is a viable solution.
The whole scene of the previous night is replayed on the 13 inch CTR. The blurred image is enough to understand the whole event. Without raising an eyebrow, Kiritsugu watches the Servant with a skull mask unable to escape annihilation from the golden Servant.
The white mask of the defeated Servant is without a doubt of the Assassin class.
"What do you make of it?"
"I think it is going too well."
Maiya replied immediately to Kiritsugu's question.
"The time lag between Assassin's materialization and the attack of Tōsaka's Servant is too short. He was waiting for him. I could accept he might have detected an intruder in spirit form, but his opponent is an Assassin with the Presence Concealment ability. ... I wonder if Tōsaka wasn't aware of the invasion prior to it."
Kiritsugu nodded. Having been trained by him, Maiya's conclusion was the same as Kiritsugu's.
"The more I think of it, the more it seems like an arrangement. Why did Tōsaka expose his Servant like that if he had such a margin?"
The Tōsaka family has obviously accumulated experience from the second and third Grail fights. There is no way they don't know the other Masters would be observing the Tōsaka mansion.
The Heaven's Feel is a confrontation between heroes who have gained fame. And the legends of these heroes include a lot of information on their fighting patterns and their strong and weak points. This means it is natural that the skills and weaknesses of the Heroic Spirits are known from the beginning.
And so, it has become an ironclad rule to hide the true identity of the Heroic Spirits in the war between Servants. In light of this, Heroic Spirits are all called by their class to avoid revealing their true name.
Last night, Tōsaka has left two clues to the other Masters, being what his Servant looks like, as well as showing a method that looks like a Noble Phantasm. Neither were enough to definitely identify the Servant, but that was a risk that should have been easy to avoid. If he was to bring down Assassin, he could have done so outside of plain view.
"Showing us something he didn't have to show us― that means he wanted to show it to us."
Kiritsugu nods again at Maiya's conclusion.
"Possibly. If there is any merit in doing that, then the explanation is obvious. ... Maiya, what happened to the Master of Assassin?"
"He went to the Church last night and has requested the supervisor's protection. It is the man called Kotomine Kirei."
Hearing that name, Kiritsugu's eye lit with a cold ghastliness.
"Maiya, send a familiar to the Fuyuki Church. One will be fine for now."
"... Is it alright? The Church is an area where aggressions between Masters are prohibited."
"Unless the priest supervisor doesn't find out. Stay at a reasonable distance. Don't overdo it. He doesn't have to know."
Maiya frowned at Kiritsugu’s incomprehensible instructions.
"Must I observe the Church?"
"You can just make it a 'regular patrolling'. What you must concentrate on is being absolutely not-discovered."
"... Yes, understood."
Maiya couldn't understand what Kiritsugu had in mind, but didn't question him. She at once picks one of the three bats observing the Tōsaka mansion and sent it the thought of going to the Fuyuki Church at the end of Shinto.
Kiritsugu turned off the TV, then resumed inspecting the equipment Maiya prepared.
In the various tools lined up on the sheet of the bed, awaiting Kiritsugu's check-up, there was not one a magus could find interesting. Not a single ritualistic catalyst like a dagger, cup, talisman, elixir or spiritual container. They were state-of-art and highly efficient, but apart from that, they were nothing but conventional weapons. Nothing that could store prana.
That was the heresy that earned the magus Emiya Kiritsugu the nickname of "magus killer."
The weak point of the people called magi was usually negligence from arrogance. They believe in their own mysteries and knowledge. They never doubt that the only threat to them beside God cannot be anything other than a magus like them.
That is why, in battle, they are sensitive to nothing but traces of magecraft. To detect any kind of trivial skill. Hence they train their perception of magecraft, and think of counter-measures against those skills as derisive― That's a theory no magus strays from.
As a result, they ignore any attack that is purely physical and void of magecraft as secondary menace. They have no fear of the sharpest knife, the strongest bullet, until the instant they actually pierce the flesh of a magus. And before that happens, the strength of magecraft grants illusions, paralysis methods, or defensive bounded fields, able to completely negate any vulgar attacks.
But they despise technology. What a human who doesn't rely on magecraft can do― a lot of magi cannot recognize that.
The attack the enemy doesn't expect is a shortcut for all battles. Kiritsugu has reached a conclusion from a large number of battles-to-the-death between magi. That is, magi are weak to non-magical attacks.
Applying that conclusion to the circumstances of the Heaven's Feel of Fuyuki, Maiya has prepared a set of equipment. Among them, the rifle lying on the sheet is what gives out the strongest smell of varnish. That was a work of art that was the crystallization of the newest electronic techniques along with a ferocious shape.
The base is a Walther WA2000 semi-automatic sniper rifle. A rifle with a total length a little above 90 centimeters, in a compact size; the bullpup structure with a gas-operated magazine gives the gun barrel a length of 65 centimeters. The .300 Winchester Magnum shell has an effective range of 1000 meters. In the modern world, this is a rifle of the highest class, with the highest performance. The high cost of $12,000 is due to how it was one of the only 154 units produced for this legendary gun.
Instead of the standard sighting device made by Smith & Bender, Kiritsugu had simultaneously installed a pair of lined-up devices as a special scope mount, above the barrel and on the left flank, both extra-large optic devices fixed in parallel.
On the main side was the latest night vision scope, the best of the US armed force, an AN/PVS04. The equipment, some sort of super sensitive video camera, is a simple light electrical amplifier with a lens, raising and displaying a perfect brightness. It is a real electronic "owl eye" that multiplies the range of vision by 3.6, 600 yards under the moonlight or 400 yards in starlight. Essentially, it is the latest equipment used by the US armed force, banned from exportation to prevent technology leaking.
Furthermore, in addition a specter IR heat detector scope is installed as a sideways support. This one is also electronically equipped for night vision, although the image display isn't an intensity amplifier, but displays the heat patterns of the subject. It can perceive temperature variations from -5 to 60°C up to 200 meters with an 1.8 magnification.
Having discovered that the operation of Magic Circuits changed the temperature of the practitioner, Kiritsugu had studied and trained so much that he was now able to read, through the thermal output, the current status of the Magic Circuits by viewing the heat distribution. Viewing the clear difference between an ordinary person and a magus, it is possible to seize an opportunity after the release of prana. The joint use of both bulky night vision devices is not just for night time battle, but also a configuration to specifically face against a magus.
Despite the steady progress on miniaturization, year after year, of the non-magical innovations, a night vision device roughly remains at the size of a plastic bottle, and is too bulky to be compared to regular optic devices. On top of the rash, compact design of the gun barrel, the enormous pair of scopes gives a clumsy air of unbalance. The total weight of the gun exceeds 10 kilos. It is already a weapon worthy for a support fire squad more than a sniping weapon. The main equipment was already hindering practical use, but that was a challenge Kiritsugu had calculated at best.
When compared to magecraft, this night-vision sniping gun certainly falls behind. Magecraft can let you see better through the dark, and it is also possible to detect the position of an enemy magus. But with this gun, Kiritsugu is able to shoot down a target without releasing any prana.
In the dark, unable to detect any prana, the possibility of being hit from several hundred meters away― it is a situation a pro soldier wouldn't count as incomprehensible, but a lot of magi are really novices in such conditions. In fact, a self-conscious magus who has stepped into a world of mysteries beyond human intellect cannot relate to the stereotypes of a narrower world.
Kiritsugu picked up the super heavyweight class sniper gun from the bed, checked the smoothness of the breechblock and the weight of the trigger, and made sure it was in the best condition.
"There is no correction up to 500 meters. Do you want to check it?"
"No, it's fine."
He would have wanted to not only check the alignement, but also get a grasp of the shooting, but with the constitutional government of Japan, that was unfortunately not easy. With the Grail War hostilities having already started, he might have to use the gun this very night. Kiritsugu fully trusts Maiya's preparations.
The other rifle that was prepared, in addition to the Walther sniping gun, is for Maiya who will be acting as a vanguard scout, a Steyr AUG assault gun. Its night vision scope has also been replaced, like Kiritsugu's, and surprisingly, the weight is under 5 kg.
Furthermore, a Calico M950 submachine gun is ready as a reserve side arm. The compact size is not different from a large handgun, and the reinforced plastic makes it look more like a toy than the Walther sniping gun; but the unique magazine with a system called helical allows for 50 Parabellum rounds, with a firing rate of 700 shots per minute for a brutal armament.
The rest includes personal hand grenades and stun grenades, smoke grenades, and C2 plastic explosive. Following the instructions Kiritsugu sent from the north, Maiya had arranged to prepare the equipment without allowing any leak. But Kiritsugu's expressionless eyes don't look satisfied yet.
"And the one I entrusted to you?"
"... It is here."
Maiya reverentially pulled a rosewood case with both hands from the bottom of the closet. It seems that this reverence has somehow stiffened even further the beautiful face that never smiles.
Taking the case, Kiritsugu placed it on the side table, unfastening the clasps and opening the lid with an expert hand.
The armament on the bed is all brand new weapons for this day. The assets of the Einzbern family certainly allow the funds and connection necessary to arrange the gathering of brand new, sharp equipment despite its exorbitant cost with much difficulty.
But inside that rosewood case, the handgun sleeping in a long silence isn't something money can buy. This is the weapon Kiritsugu has favored on a lot of battlefields, which he has entrusted to Maiya when he retired 9 years ago, unique in the world, a weapon for Kiritsugu's use only.
The high-tech equipment that can be obtained with money is an armament for Emiya Kiritsugu as the 'Magus Killer'. But there also existed a weapon for the 'magus' Emiya Kiritsugu. That is, a 'Mystic Code'― a weapon through which a magus can use magecraft in battle.
Thompson Center's Contender. A grip and fore end carved in walnut, a gun barrel 14 inch long, reminiscent of a dagger in its scabbard. The handgun parts are only the trigger and the percussion hammer, then the cylinder and slide cannot be found on the simple exterior, which makes it close to a percussion pistol from the last hours of the Middle Ages.
Actually, the Contender is a single shot pistol with a break-open cartridge chamber. This gun is essentially a pistol for target shooting sport; but Kiritsugu's gun barrel has been switched to make use of the hunting specifications of the large caliber, and furthermore, it has been magically modified to make use of "magic bullets" for rifling.
The bullets used are .30-06 Springfield. A cartridge with a bottleneck structure, its size and power level are already different from those of a handgun bullet. The .30-06 is 10% stronger than the .308 Winchester bullet, and even surpasses the hand canon class of a Magnum bullet. Discharged from a handgun, it would have extreme firepower.
But the true menace of this gun is not the destructive power of physical explosives and warheads.
The special bullets installed along with the gun in the case― in the core of the twelve remaining shots are sealed powdered bones from Kiritsugu himself. When Kiritsugu's prana is fired, these "magical bullets" forces into the target the 'origin' of the magus named Kiritsugu. So to speak, one could call it an imitation of a conceptual weapon.
Technology becomes the blind spot of magi who stick to magecraft... In the end, this is only a tendency, and doesn't reverse the generality. Indeed, a lot of magi in the world can be defeated with means like a night vision and a heat sensor scope. Nevertheless, there are exceptions that cannot be measured with rules and experience. The generality against a magus is that there aren't many magi who deviate even further from that generality. Kiritsugu calls these opponents "formidable enemies".
Against a "formidable enemy" for who artifice won't work― Kiritsugu, as a single magus, must stand up when he runs out of secrets. At that time, this Contender becomes Kiritsugu's most powerful fang.
Rewinding the clock in his heart, Kiritsugu picked the Contender from the case. In the past, the walnut gun had absorbed the transpiration of Kiritsugu's hand countless times, and after a blank of 9 years, it still fit perfectly into his hand and fingers.
Whether it's the hand gripping the handle, or the handle gripping the hand, that is an indistinct feeling. With just a little strength in the fingers, the gun might just fuse with the bones of his hand, and become an extension of his arm.
Cautiously pulling the spool with his index finger, the chamber lock is released and collapses soundly. Sliding a bullet from the same case into the opened chamber, he then closes the barrel again with a snap of his wrist. With the added ammunition, the overall weight is now 2.6 kg. Kiritsugu's right hand gives a familiar response.
At the old feeling, Kiritsugu's chest hurt when he thought that he got too used to the touch of a dangerous weapon.
At the end, will his hand remember so perfectly the touch of his wife and daughter?
Their tender cheeks, their slender fingers, how much of it will Kiritsugu remember?
Picking another bullet from the case, Kiritsugu replayed the reloading process that had dyed his hands.
Pulling the rim of the exposed cartridge with his fingertips from the opened chamber, he slides in a second bullet, and immediately slams the gun barrel close―
It took him two seconds. Bad thoughts dull his manipulations.
"... I've gotten rusty."
To Kiritsugu, murmuring in self-derision, Maiya nodded without consideration. She knew the old skills of her partner. Kiritsugu pulled the bullet he had loaded in the gun, picked the other one he had dropped on the floor, and placed everything back in the case with the Contender.
"Ilya's body is even lighter than the Walther here. And she's already 8 years old..."
Letting free his shameful memories on his own, Kiritsugu started loosening alone. Maiya's movement, barging in behind his back, stopped his train of thoughts.
Agile like a snake, her hand rolled around Kiritsugu's neck, seizing the back of his head, blocking his movements, and his mouth― she took his soft, dried lips.
The taste and touch of a different woman from the one in his heart. Breaking off the man's homesickness, but that was too quick to be forgiven.
"... Please only focus of what's necessary for now. Don't think of what you don't need."
In a blurred voice that had traces of her usage of her tongue left, Maiya quietly commanded Kiritsugu.
Without a word, Kiritsugu felt the sensation in his chest calm down. In his heart cooling off, the pain is already vanishing away in a mist.
This is the woman she is. She is the woman into whom Kiritsugu himself has raised a girl once found on a battlefield.
A supporting machine whose actions are even more akin to a machine than those of the machine called Emiya Kiritsugu. This is Hisau Maiya. An indispensable final weapon for Kiritsugu to win this battle... That is none other than that woman.
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