Fate/Zero:Act 9 Part 2

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Glancing out the window on a whim, he found that it was already dawn.

The slowly-rising sun inspired no emotions in Emiya Kiritsugu’s heart, and he continued his task of compiling information.

He had met Maiya at this hotel in front of the city station, three days ago. Now it was a hidden headquarters for them, one of many. The first thing he did was to suspend room service, and then he papered the walls with blank maps of the Fuyuki region. After that, he began annotating various locations on the maps with information pertaining to them.

The data, had been collected over several days of searching on foot, reconnaissance by familiar, the variance of the leylines, tapping the police radio for information on missing people, and simple surveillance of various locations. And all these data points, dutifully indicated on the map nocturnal happenings in Fuyuki City regardless of size or importance like a mosaic, showed a state of utter chaos.

Emiya Kiritsugu’s right hand continued its work of writing while his left hand mechanically shoveled his nutrition – hamburgers from a fast food restaurant he bought while investigating – into his mouth. For nine years, Emiya Kiritsugu had eaten at the table of the Einzberns, who were merely a hair removed from royalty themselves. He had grown tired of the cuisine. This fast food, filled with the sense of slaughter, was more suited to his tastes. Being able to eat without interrupting one’s words or thoughts was better than anything, no matter how you looked at it.

When he had finally finished with his markings on the map, Kiritsugu studied them, and re-determined the direction of the Heaven’s Feel.

Archer – there was no movement at the Tōsaka house. Like a hibernating bear, Tokiomi had closed his doors with an unfathomable silence and not left ever since the defeat of Assassin.

Berserker - the silhouette entering the Matō house appeared to be a Master, and the reports from the many familiars sent out suggested that he was completely defenseless and could be attacked at leisure, but Berserker's mysterious special ability could neutralize Archer's potent Noble Phantasm. Should he be left alone as a countermeasure against Tōsaka?

Lancer – Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri had begun to act, in the place of her fiancé, the gravely injured Lord El-Melloi. She was probably the one controlling Lancer now. Was she temporarily taking on the responsibilities of a Master through the Book of the False Attendant, or had she seized the Command Seals and formed a new contract with Lancer? If it was the former, even killing Sola-Ui would not cut off Lancer’s prana supply, and it would not make him unable to fight. For now, he would have to consider whether or not to attack Sola.

Caster – the night before, more children had gone missing from the city. It would appear he did not care about the warrant for his arrest issued by the authorities, and he was still continuing his inhuman acts without restraint.

Rider – no clues at all. Being that he constantly moves with his Master in his flying Noble Phantasm, tracking them would be difficult. Appears to be openhearted and forthright, a formidable enemy without flaws.

Regarding Rider and Archer… Maiya had awakened some time back, in the Einzbern Castle, and she had relayed the majority of information from Irisviel by telephone.

It seemed that things had progressed in an unexpected direction, so Rider, left with no other choice, had to use his Noble Phantasm to wipe out Assassin.

Rider’s Noble Phantasm, “Ionian Hetairoi”, was very much a cause for concern. But what Kiritsugu cared about more was the fate of Assassin.

Assassin was a Servant that could multiply indefinitely, but what did it mean? The troop of Assassins that had attacked the Einzbern castle last night must have been their entire combat force. Otherwise they could not have been able to present strength in numbers, being individually weak in combat. This was totally different from the prior farce at the Tosaka mansion; this time, it would be safe to consider Servant Assassin to be completely eradicated.

Then – what about their Master?

Kiritsugu sighed deeply, lighting his first cigarette for the day. In the end, he still felt apprehensive about this.

Kotomine Kirei. The greatest ‘oddity’ in existence during the Fourth Heaven’s Feel –

Kiritsugu still could not understand exactly why this man had entered the war.

When he had discovered Assassin during the chaotic battle at the warehouse street, Kiritsugu had already realized that Assassin’s Master was Tōsaka Tokiomi’s puppet, only responsible for the task of scouting. But after that, Kotomine Kirei had taken many actions that Kiritsugu was unable to understand.

Kotomine Kirei, hiding in ambush at the construction site of the central building, during the attack on Kayneth at the Fuyuki Hyatt Hotel –

Kotomine Kirei, sneaking into the Einzbern castle from the opposite direction during its siege –

No matter how you looked at those events, they only made sense if you considered that Emiya Kiritsugu was his target.

First, he used the ruse of pretending to withdraw from the War, then fleeing to Fuyuki Church to request protection while dispatching large numbers of his Assassins as spies. To make this tactic even more perfect, Kirei should have continued hiding in the Fuyuki Church during this time, without setting foot outdoors. But his current actions have completely exposed himself.

Kiritsugu, originally hiding under the cover of Irisviel and Saber, had only been exposed during the confrontation with Lord El-Melloi, so nobody should have known his true identity up to the day before yesterday. Even if Tōsaka’s intelligence network had discovered that Kiritsugu was taking action in secret, he could not have concluded that Kiritsugu was the one who actually had the contract with Saber. That aside, from the overall perspective of the war, what was the point of targeting Kiritsugu?

It was possible that this could be due to an entirely illogical personal grudge, but that probability was very low. In the process of investigating Kotomine Kirei’s experiences, there were almost no instances where he had crossed paths with Emiya Kiritsugu. There were no friends or relations to Kotomine Kirei amongst the magi whom Kiritsugu had assassinated, or even in the people around them who had been sacrificed.

In any case, what is definite is that Kotomine Kirei will continue standing in Emiya Kiritsugu’s way. It is clear that this man’s actions have already exceeded the boundaries of simply fighting for the Heaven’s Feel. He will not withdraw even after losing his Servant.

Kiritsugu exhaled a mouthful of hazy cigarette smoke with an exasperated sigh as he continued thinking.

He could only feel waves of dread whenever he thought of Kotomine Kirei, as though he were imprisoned in bottomless darkness.

Kiritsugu’s tactics were to ‘confuse the opponent’s mind’ from the beginning to the end. As long as one can see through the opponent’s actions, where he is preparing to attack and what the enemy’s objective is, one can discover his opponent’s blind spot and his weakness. In addition, a magus usually possesses a greater ‘sense of purpose’ than normal people. It is only because of this that Kiritsugu has never missed while ‘hunting’.

But now there is Kotomine, an enemy whom he cannot begin to understand on a superficial or intrinsic level. This is his greatest threat. And before this powerful enemy, Kiritsugu was now all but helpless.

It was as though he had a tracker who could read through his mind and deduce all his actions. This time, Kiritsugu is not the hunter, but the hunted. This is the singular, unforeseen key factor –

“…who exactly are you?”

Kiritsugu finally murmured without thinking. The more he thought about the problem that was Kotomine Kirei, the further away from him his answer became. All he could do was become more frustrated.

What exactly was the point of this search-and-destroy operation? It looked as though he would have to continue operating with the risk of suffering a surprise attack at any time.

Kiritsugu had rented a garage in the nearby town, and hidden a modified oil tanker inside it which could be remote-controlled over long distances. This converted civilian weapon, called a “low cost cruise missile” by urban guerillas, was originally the trump card prepared for use during siege by the Matō or Tōsaka. If one were to drive it into the Fuyuki Church in which Kotomine Kirei was laying low, even that Executor would not be able to survive…

“…Bastard, that’s enough.”

Kiritsugu messily snuffed the cigarette out in the ashtray as he reminded himself of that.

Now, in front of him, there were still many enemies which took priority in terms of elimination. What he had to win was the Heaven’s Feel. From that point of view, Kotomine Kirei was only a defeated Master. Even if the reason he was attacking Kiritsugu was unknown, it would be unwise to be too absorbed with him and neglect the overall battle.

This state of being impatient and frustration irritated him. It was probably a sign that his judgement was beginning to dull. He would need to rest and start over.

It had been over seventy hours since he last slept. Though he did not feel tired under the influence of amphetamines, his fatigue was still accumulating, and as a result his focus and overall condition were both deteriorating.

There was still some time before he would have to meet Maiya today; he should use it to get some rest.

After going to the bathroom, Kiritsugu lay down on the bed and used a self-hypnosis spell to disperse his consciousness. This was a crude way of eliminating mental stress, via the disintegration and cleansing of the psyche.

This self-hypnosis was not a high-level form of thaumaturgy, but the dispersion would cause a lack and dislocation of self-consciousness, so few people were willing to use it. But to Emiya Kiritsugu, it was the most efficient, and thus the best form of rest, and so he used this method frequently.

The scattered consciousness would be restored after about two hours, and the hypnotized person would wake up. Until then, the body of the hypnotized person would be like unto a corpse in terms of unconsciousness – but it should be safe to use it at this hidden place.

Kiritsugu, relaxed after dispelling the image of his enemy from his mind, fell into a deep sleep.

Facing the rising sun, the streets outside the window began a new day.

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