"Kerry, you do know where the name of this island comes from, right?"
Shirley asked while leisurely handling the creaking car’s wheel.
The boy called Kerry, sitting in the passenger’s seat, shook his head and squeezed out a "Not really" as if he was scared that the vehicle’s intense shaking would make him bite his tongue.
The pick-up truck they were both driving in was a vehicle so antique it may have come from the time when coaches were just running out of use. Moreover, the road they were driving on now was not a paved bitumen road but a dirt road. Even an ox-cart would have to slow down on these roads. Right now, they almost feel like they are sitting in a small boat floating on the sea during a storm.
Although this vehicle looked like a pile of junk about to go out of service, this is one of the only three or four precious vehicles on Arimago Island – Besides, as a fishing village with only about 300 families, people who need a car are uncommon enough on Arimago Island. The people troubled with living without a vehicle are probably just the family of the boy and Shirley, the maid who did the housework. In the far-removed house of the boy's family, far away from the fishing village, there were truly no other transportation facilities but this worn-out truck.
"Arimago... did it mean giant crab?"
Shirley nodded and answered the boy’s question.
"A long long time ago, this island was a place used to keep the offerings presented to a deity of the sea. However, there was a time when a girl didn't have anything to feed her sick mother, and had to steal the offerings of the deity. Then, that girl was punished with divine retribution, and was changed into the shape of a crab."
"It's a terrible story."
"After that, it was told that if you eat a crab caught on this island, it would cure any disease. The mother of the girl recovered from her long illness as well."
"That’s even worse. It is such an outrageous sea deity."
However, such folktales recorded in media such as tapestries aren't rare. If one were to look carefully, such tales can be found all over the world.
"Um, does the shrine where people sacrificed to this deity still exist?"
"It disappeared a long time ago. Besides, no one knows whether it really did exist. According to the myth, it seems to have been built right next to where Kerry's mansion is now."
“Then the girl who was turned into a crab actually made her way to the heart of this deep jungle so far away specifically to steal the offerings? It would have been much more convenient to just catch some fish at the beach instead.”
“That myth is the reason why people of the village wouldn't get close to your house. Legend says that's an ominous place, and you’ll get cursed if you go near it too often. I’ve been warned of it as well."
"But how!... then, what about me, who's living there?"
"It's because Kerry is a foreigner. But even then, don’t the people at the village see you as my little brother?"
Although the words ‘little brother’ didn’t completely make the boy feel relieved, compared to his father, who never stepped outside the house, Kerry does indeed need to help Shirley with the shopping every time. Therefore, they would basically ride in the truck to go into the village everyday.
It has been almost a year after he moved to this island. Any of the island’s inhabitants would warmly greet the boy when they saw him. Even the other boys of the village, who fought with him whenever they saw him beforehand, are also already making pranks on other people together with him.
Although he was in a strange land very far from his home land, the boy still likes this place called Arimago Island very much.
Although he felt extremely boring everyday during the first few weeks after he moved over, the dazzling southern sun and multi-colored sparkling waves of the southern ocean had gradually captured Kerry’s heart.
However, for his father, who never approached anyone and didn’t step out of the house at all, it would be hard to feel that there is anything delightful at all.
"If father would communicate more with the people at the village, he would surely be a bit different..."
"Mmm, who knows..."
While skilfully handling the steering wheel to dodge large rocks sticking out of the road, Shirley gave a bitter smile.
"Father Simon never liked your father’s actions, and had often lectured me with things like I’d sooner or later be ensnared by the devil if I go work in that house again."
"… I see."
The boy couldn’t help but feel a little down when knew that Father Simon, who always seemed to be so gentle, would judge his father in such a way behind his back. But it can't be helped. Rather, he should feel relieved that those comments were only to such an extent. Father Simon would surely expel both father and son out of this small island if he really knew about everything the boy's father did.
Shirley tapped her lower back, and motioned for Kerry to look at a silver short sword on her belt.
"Look at this knife. Father Simon forced it onto me and wants me never to part with it. He said it’s a very useful talisman."
"… Isn’t this the knife you always use to peel fruits?"
"Mmm, that's because this knife is very sharp and is easy to use. It must be something very precious."
Shirley continued to speak in a calm tone. Different from the boy, she appeared to not feel anything gloomy with this topic.
"Aren’t you afraid, Shirley? Aren’t you afraid of my father?"
Although the boy was a bit hesitant, he asked this question at the end. Shirley nodded decisively.
"I understand your father isn't a normal person, and based on his behaviors it's not unreasonable for the villagers to be guarded towards him. However, since he’s doing those kinds of researches, it can't be helped that he left the city and came to such a remote island to live a hermit’s life. But this shows your father really is an impressive person."
The boy suddenly noticed that for some reason, Shirley would suddenly become mature and sensible whenever they talked about his father. She was only a girl 4 years his elder; she definitely isn’t as mature as adults.
"If you take any one of his knowledge and discoveries, it would be an immense discovery that can change everything for this world. Of course, anyone would become scared if they knew about such things, and it can't be helped for it to be held in secret... but as for me, I really do believe such powers can help this world greatly. I’ve always firmly believed in that."
"... Can such things, really be possible?"
"He may have given it up already. But Kerry, if it were you, I believe it would definitely be successful!"
Shirley said so with a serious expression on her face. Instead, the boy said disappointedly.
"What do you mean? Aren't you, Shirley, father's favorite pupil? Wouldn’t it be Shirley who keeps it up if it comes to it?"
Shirley, who went often to his house, didn’t only do domestic chores such as tidying the house; she also helped his father in his work as an assistant. His father once said that this girl named Shirley possesses exceptional intelligence and talents, and is really a waste to leave her on this lone island. It says something about Shirley’s talents if his father, who always obeyed the creed of secrecy, trusts a female stranger to such a degree.
But Shirley herself laughed loudly and shook her head.
"I'm not any kind of a pupil. At the most I'm only an assistant, someone who does the odd jobs and give a hand. Therefore, I don’t know anything about the important parts.
But Kerry, you’re different from me. You will definitely succeed your father’s business. The researches your father is doing now will need to be kept up by you one day. Are you prepared for it? Although it is a bit to early for you to talk about such things."
Shirley said all that earnestly, like a real big sister worrying about her little brother. For one moment, the boy was caught with the complicated sentiments in his heart and couldn’t speak.
He didn’t have any memories about his mother, who passed away right after he was born. For the boy, his so-called family only consisted of his father. Although his father was eccentric and very strict, he was a very gentle and a great father. He was the person the boy respected and loved the most in the entire world.
Therefore, at the beginning, the boy's heart was in upheaval when he discovered that the father, whom he admired the most, favored an assistant more than his own son. There was a time when he even felt enmity for Shirley. But Shirley's cheerful temperament and gentle attitude untied the knot in his heart, and that time didn't last long.
It was almost as if there was a new member in his family. Shirley respected the boy's father as if he was her own father, and looked after the boy like her real little brother. For the boy, who didn’t have female relatives, the words ‘older sister’ far surpassed the meaning the words originally possessed.
No... Maybe it wasn’t so exaggerated at first, but recently such strange feelings had occurred in the boy’s chest.
He knew well Shirley's gentleness, cheerfulness, and virtue. But moreover, even her unconscious gestures – such as her current profile as she handled the steering wheel while humming – also appear to be so beautiful. Why?
"Kerry, what kind of a man would you like to become? And if you succeeded your father's work, how would you like to use it?"
The absentminded boy was suddenly dragged back into reality by Shirley's question.
"It's the power to change the world. Someday you are gonna obtain it."
His father's inheritance. If would be a lie to say that he never thought about that. The boy completely understands its value and its significance.
Let alone its use.
But the boy looked rather hesitant to put it in words himself, particularly in front of Shirley. He didn’t want others to tell him that his dream is naive, above all from Shirley.
"... That's, a secret."
Shirley laughed knowingly, then kept asking.
"Then, I’ll use my own eyes to confirm what Kerry wants to do when he grows up. Until I get the answer, I'll always be beside you. How’s that?"
"... Do as you like."
As if feeling somewhat ashamed, the boy turned his eyes away.
But even so, the smile of the girl who is almost like his older sister was still far too dazzling for the boy.
Skin white as wax.
The blue-black veins that popped up tore her looks into shards.
An expression, full with near-death anguish, filled her face.
She is about to die – that was obvious.
Although she’s about to die, she was still writhing.
If that was the expression of a human, then this human will soon become something inhuman – the boy’s heart understood this clearly.
The night outside. Of course, there are no street lights on this island. Even so, the chilly white light that came from the bright and pure moon outside silently illuminated the scene of this tragedy through the window.
This is a henhouse on the edge of the village. While searching for Shirley, who suddenly disappeared for no reason, the boy walked through every inch of the village during the day. The boy didn’t give up and kept searching till night. Then he came upon here.
The leftover carcasses of the chickens eaten, and the “Dead” that kept shivering and crying deep inside the henhouse.
Kill me –
The “Dead” that had the same face as the woman he liked the most begged him while sobbing.
Then, the silver short sword that was thrown near his feet reflected back a cold and pale light in the moonlight.
I can't do it myself –
Therefore, please. Kill me –
While there’s still time –
"Such a thing..."
Shaking his head, the boy drew back.
I cannot do.
No matter what shape you turn into, Shirley is Shirley. We promised to be together forever. She’s a most important family – no, she even more important than family.
Shirley panted painfully. Gradually her sounds became maddening. Together with sorrowful sobbing, the girl let out a panting like a hungry beast.
It's already – over – before I completely lose control of myself – quick –
Shirley’s body started to tremble uncontrollably as if she got malaria, then she suddenly opened her mouth and bit into her wrist.
Spurt... the sound of blood splashing out entered the boy's eardrums.
The persistent sound of begging drowned out the boy’s tragic wails. The boy ran out of the henhouse.
What gave the boy more terror than the Shirley in front of him – was the light that the short sword emanated beside his feet.
He doesn’t know what actually happened, and he doesn’t want to understand.
Now, all that the boy prayed for is to have someone to save them.
The boy firmly believed that there must be someone who can release them from this nightmarish terror.
Shirley will surely be saved. Someone surely is going to save them.
The boy kept repeating this to himself.
It takes about 5 minutes to get to Father Simon's church if he runs as fast as he can.
The boy ran for his life as he cried. Be it the pain in his feet or the anguish in his chest, he could no longer feel any of them.
Natalia Kaminski. The woman said that’s her name.
This woman wore an inky black long coat very inappropriate for a tropical night, but there was no sign of her sweating. Rather than thinking of her pale countenance as cold and cruel, it was better described as expressionless. It would even make others doubt whether there was actually blood flowing within her, and whether she actually has body heat like normal people.
That was the appearance of the savior who saved the boy out of the ravaging pandemonium.
"Alright, kid. It's about time for you to answer a few questions for me."
With his back turned to the woman's cold voice, the boy only stared transfixed at the distant fishing village that was burning to the ground.
The village that was so peaceful till just yesterday, the village that was slumbering beneath the silent moonlight only a few hours ago, was actually burning with endless flames. He still couldn’t believe the scene before his eyes even if he was standing on top of the cliffs opposite the town and witnessed it himself; he only thought all this was a nightmare.
He would never see those familiar, gentle faces in the village again – he couldn’t believe it no matter what.
"… What exactly, happened?"
The boy asked with a dry voice. Natalia snorted.
"I was the one who asked first. Boy, isn't it time to get back to your senses?"
The boy suddenly turned his head around. Even if he owes her his life, it was really very irritating for her to ignore other’s feelings, not answer his questions, and on the contrary went on and on with her own questions.
After an obstinate silence, Natalia seemed to have grasped his thoughts. Then, she let out a helpless sigh, and gave a brief explanation.
"Now, there are two groups that caused such a tragedy in that village. One group is the Executors for the so-called Holy Church. They are completely different from the nice priests you know. They are cruel guys who believe that all those who betrayed God needs to be killed. Of course, they would naturally mercilessly eliminate something like a vampire if they see it. If they don’t have the time to check one by one who among the people had their blood sucked, they would completely destroy all suspects. In other words, these guys don’t have much time right now.
The other group is called the Association. This is a bit difficult to explain – basically they’re a group who wants to solely possess fantastic things such as vampires. Naturally, in order to have sole possession, they would kill anybody else who knew about the relevant details. There’s no point in not do things very thoroughly in order to destroy evidence and hide the truth.
Because of this, boy, you’ve got fine luck. You’re probably the only inhabitant of this island right now who managed to survive through the purge those people delivered."
The boy accepted this fact even easier than Natalia had expected. It was as if the boy had discerned the reason those dangerous men would come to Arimago Island a long time ago.
The boy rushed to Father Simon to seek help, and the priest who received this request contacted some other people. Some people outside the island must have received this intelligence while the priest delivered such information.
Leaving the sequence of events aside, at least the beginning of this tragedy was inextricably linked to himself.
If the boy had listened to Shirley's supplication and took the courage to plunge the silver white short sword into the chest of the girl he loved the most, then this present tragedy would not have happened.
If he had done that, then even if he would become a hollow shell without a soul from now on or even if he could no longer doze off in the night – these many lives won’t have been lost.
For the boy, it was the same as if he had set that memorable place on fire himself.
"... Then, which side are you on?"
"I'm like a salesman for the Association. My job is to seek out secrets they are interested in, protect this secret from being known by anyone else and pass it into their hands. Of course, it needs to be sold to them before such a huge incident happens. It can’t be sold now."
Natalia shrugged her shoulders. Perhaps she had already become accustomed to such scenes. It was as if the woman in black emanated the smell of death from her entire body.
"Alright, boy, let's get back to the previous question. It's about time for you to answer my question.
The so-called Sealing Designation – do you know what that means? Also, where is the evil magus, who’s the culprit of this vampire incident, hiding on this island? Do you know of it?”
Although those words sounded too deep for this boy, in truth it hit the bull’s eye of this problem in some way.
Kerry is not the boy’s real name.
The name of the boy, who was born in a foreign, remote country, was very hard to pronounce for the people here. At the very beginning it was Shirley who abbreviated his name into Kerry, and then the villagers all called him Kerry by habit. The boy also felt that, instead of being called a strange name such as 'Keritougu’, ‘Kerry’ sounded much friendlier.
The boy’s real name is – Kiritsugu.
The son of the magus who has been given a Sealing Designation, Emiya Norikata.
In the deep night, Kiritsugu returned to the wooden villa in the depths of the jungle, and saw his father receiving him with a worried expression.
"Ahh, Kiritsugu. Are you alright? Thank goodness…"
His father embraced him. It has been many years since he felt his father’s broad shoulders. It was a rare moment for his strong father to express his true feelings like that.
After releasing Kiritsugu from his arms, his father's expression suddenly turned severe and said.
"I told you not to step out of the barrier of the forest today no matter what. Why did you disobey me?"
"... Because I was worried about Shirley…"
His father suddenly turned his eyes aside when he heard the girl's name. Just that small gesture could completely confirm one fact.
"Dad, did you know what changes happened to her body? Is that why you didn’t allow me to go outside?"
"…About that girl, it's really a pity. Although I told her the reagent was very dangerous and to never touch it, it seems she still didn't win over her own curiosity."
Although his father’s tone was filled with bitterness, there was no regret or shame in it. It was as if he was telling off a boy who broke a flower vase with only blame and anger in his tone.
"…Dad, why would you investigate the Dead Apostles?"
"Of course that’s not my true intention. However, being the research of us, the Emiya family, we should seek it no matter how far it seems. I have to come up with a solution for aging, at least before your generation. The flesh, shackled with the destiny of death, is really too far away from the 'root'."
Shirley’s pitiful sight that he saw under the light of the moon once again appeared before Kiritsugu.
"Dad... would you eventually turn me into that shape too?"
"Nonsense. Someone who cannot control the vampiric urges and becomes a Dead Apostle is a failure... I told Shirley this a long time ago. Looks like the results of this experiment isn’t as good as I thought it’d be. I’d have to start from the basics and modify my theories again."
Kiritsugu nodded and said.
His father seemed to be intent in continuing. There’s no need to pay attention to sacrifices of this degree. He still needs to keep repeating it until he gets a satisfactory result.
"Kiritsugu, we’ll talk about this later. Now our top priority is to hurry and escape – I'm afraid there’s no longer time to pack. Soon those guys from the Association would see through the barrier in this dense forest. We need to leave soon."
Looks like his father made the preparations to leave a long time ago. There were already two large suitcases packed and sitting in the middle of the room. The reason he had delayed till now – was probably waiting for his own child to return.
"…Are we escaping? Right now?"
"I knew a long time ago this day would come, so I prepared a motor boat on the southern coast beforehand. You can never be too prepared.”
His father took one suitcase in each of his hands, turned around and walked towards the porch – of course, at this moment he was not guarded at all.
Then, Kiritsugu took the pistol Natalia gave to him from his trouser pocket.
It was a .32 caliber pistol. If it was fired from point-blank range, even a child can easily hit the target. The woman in black assured him of that. After that, it'd be all Kiritsugu's concern.
While aiming the gun at his father's defenseless back, the scene of village that was burned to the ground and Shirley’s final tragic expression swelled up within the boy’s heart – also, all the memories he had after living with his father for ten years, and the gentle sentiments that was hidden beneath his father’s stoic look.
His father loves him, and is full of expectations of him. He also loves his father deeply, and is proud of him.
Endless feeling tangled up and Kiritsugu wanted to close his eyes. However, contrary to his sentiments, Kiritsugu opened his eyes and aimed, then swiftly pressed the trigger.
Bam – it was an unexpected, dry and crisp sound.
His father, shot from the back of the neck, fell forward. Then Kiritsugu walked up and continued to fire towards the back of his head twice. Then he stopped, and continued to give two more shots to his back.
He couldn't believe it. Even Kiritsugu himself was afraid of his own coldness.
He wavered to the end. Certainly there was struggle in his heart. However, his hand moved as if everything was pre-established and out of his control. His body completely disregarded the thoughts in his heart, and only mechanically carried out things that 'had to be done'.
This behavior may be regarded as a talent – this thought only flicked past his heart briefly. After that, Kiritsugu once again sank into emptiness, with no sense of accomplishment.
The wooden floor gradually became stained red with blood. Father wasn't there anymore. What lay there was nothing but a corpse. This thing was the culprit. This thing rubbed away everything he had, killed everyone on the island, and burnt the village to the ground.
Shirley said he is an amazing person, someone with the power to change the world. Kiritsugu thought so as well once upon a time.
What did the two youngsters understand about the way of magecraft? And what did they expect of magi?
At the beginning, Kiritsugu didn't realize he was crying. Even he didn’t know whether his current feelings were sadness or regret. All he felt was an emptiness as if he was drained to the core.
The gun in his right hand was very heavy, almost too heavy to lift up. However, he couldn't throw it away. His fingers froze on the trigger and couldn’t move.
Kiritsugu even risked the danger of accidentally firing and swung his right hand crazily just to try to throw the gun away. But it was all useless; his fingers were holding the gun tightly as if they were glued to it.
At that moment, somebody suddenly grabbed his wrist, and then easily took the gun away from his hand. Only then did Kiritsugu realize Natalia had already appeared beside him.
"C’mon, the bounded field here isn’t as exaggerated as you said. I got in easily."
Natalia said with a rather scolding tone.
"…Are you angry?"
"You think? I’ve never given this thing for kids to play with."
Natalia glanced at the gun she took from Kiritsugu, then she put it back into her pocket after locking the safety again.
"However, it was up to your luck to see if you can make it on time."
In fact, if all that didn’t happen just now, Emiya Norikata would surely have escaped safely and went into hiding again, then restarted his research on the Dead Apostles at some other unknown place. Maybe the tragedy triggered on this island would happen once again.
This isn’t a problem that can be solved by luck. This is something that has to be stopped.
"This man, had a reason that he has to be killed – I have no other choice."
"I even encouraged a child to kill his own father; I really am a very bad person.”
Natalia said, discouraged. Hearing this, Kiritsugu smiled with traces of tears still on his face.
"…You, are a good person."
Natalia looked, stunned, at Kiritsugu’s smile. Then she sighed and heaved the corpse of Emiya Norikata onto her shoulder.
"I'll take you out of the island. You need to decide what comes afterwards yourself – is there anything you’d like to take with you?"
"Nothing at all."
Then… Kiritsugu spent the following few years beside Natalia Kaminski.
Naturally, Natalia didn't look after him like an orphan or her adopted child, but ordered Kiritsugu around as an assistant or servant. However, this was just what Kiritsugu desired.
He studied Natalia’s skills and trained his own abilities at the same time in order to walk the same path as Natalia – to become a ‘hunter’. This is the unchangeable path that Kiritsugu chose for his life.
The tragedy at Arimago Island was not a rare event. Such tragedies are repeated over and over again like daily occurrences in the shadowy places of the world.
The magi who are willing to bring ill omen into the mortal world in order to seek the knowledge that they search for and the two large organizations that used any methods necessary to hide these facts; the battle surrounding these mysterious events kept occurring at obscure places. Precisely because of this, there’s money to be made for Natalia.
Eliminating magi such as Emiya Norikata is really too far from the ideal of preventing such tragedies from happening again – it could almost be said that Emiya Norikata was only one drop of water in the vast ocean, an existence that could be completely ignored.
His action on that day, killing his father by his own hands; if he was to make that event meaningful and worthy...
Then that means all heretic magi like his father must be killed. Only then can he truly prevent tragedies from occurring again.
Sealing Designation Enforcers.
Hound dogs that hunt demons that have surpassed ordinary sense. The boy chose this thorny road of Shuras without a moment’s hesitation.
Natalia does not belong to an organization, and was only a freelancer who hunted with bounty as her goal. Her targets are those Sealing Designated magi who possess precious research results, but have left the Magi’s Association and conducted secret researches. Different from the Holy Church that acted in the name of judging all heretics and killed everyone, the Magi’s Association took ensuring the safety of the research results as its priority.
And what’s the most precious of all are the Magic Crests carved on the magi’s flesh. Magic Crests that are created through generations of research can produce even greater powers when it is passed onto the successor, especially for magi families.
Through the negotiations Natalia had made with the Association, a section of the Magic Crests gathered from Emiya Norikata’s body was allowed to be inherited by his son Emiya Kiritsugu. Although the important parts were confiscated by the Association and only a ‘fragment’ of barely half the original amount was allowed for Emiya Kiritsugu to inherit, it was enough for Kiritsugu to use his abilities as a magus. Besides, Kiritsugu didn’t have the intention of following his father’s dying wish and continuing magecraft research to begin with.
For Kiritsugu, magecraft isn’t his life-long career, but just a tool used to achieve his goals. Moreover, this tool was only one of the many ‘tools’ that the boy learnt from the huntress.
Tracking, assassination, the usage of various weapons – there can’t be only one ‘fang’ for a hound. All sorts of knowledge and skills are necessary for him to master in order to be able to catch up to the prey under all situations and conditions and bring it down.
In a sense, the history of human beings is a history of killing. Humans spent an endless amount of time and intelligence to research the skill of ‘killing people’ in order to hunt down the ‘two-legged beasts’ that looked the same as themselves. Kiritsugu had made his own body master all these.
The years covered in blood and gunpowder passed by flying.
Emiya Kiritsugu, who experienced the trials of too many violent battles during a time as sensitive as adolescence, no longer has any youthful innocence on his face. As an oriental person of unknown age, his three different false passports all recorded him as an adult and they hadn’t been questioned a single time.
However, judging only from his appearance, although his figure isn’t very tall and his moustache is sparse, his grim and cold look is definitely not something that a teenage boy should have.
One day –
Even when he knew that his teacher and friend – Natalia – faced the worst danger in her life, Kiritsugu still didn’t show any emotional wavering and devotedly completed his duty.
No matter how anxious or wavering his heart is, there was not a single way to help Natalia. That’s because her battlefield is inside a giant commercial airliner more than 3000 feet above in the sky.
It started with the chase for the magus known as the “Demonic Bees User”, Odd Borzak.
It was said that this magus successfully created Dead Apostles and can manipulate the Demonic Bees under his control to use poisonous stings to increase the amount of Ghouls under his power; a very dangerous man indeed. Moreover, he had changed his name and face and pretended to be an ordinary person, with no information about him at all. However, four days ago, there was information that he was taking Flight A300 from Paris to New York. In the situation of being completely ignorant of the person’s appearance and name, Natalia accepted this gruelling task of finding the target among the plane’s 287 passengers and ‘erase’ him.
As her partner, Kiritsugu didn’t board the plane, but instead went ahead to New York to investigate Volsack’s fake identity. The teacher and student communicated using radio and calmly and confidently locked down the location of the prey in that sealed space 3000 feet above the sky.
Approximately three hours after the takeoff – the assassination was achieved unexpectedly smoothly. However, that was the beginning of the tragedy.
The Ghoul Bees that Volsack brought into the plane through deceiving customs caused a fatal disturbance after the death of their master. The Ghoul Bees that Natalia didn’t destroy on time raided towards the passengers one by one, and the cabin of the giant commercial airliner turned into a living hell ravaged by Ghouls in the blink of an eye.
Faced with a sealed area with nowhere to escape and Ghouls that manipulated without end, even someone as strong as Natalia felt an endless despair. Faced with this worsening situation, Kiritsugu could do nothing and can only wait for the radio communication. He must not let go of any chance of proving that Natalia was still alive.
The basic rule that Natalia had instructed Kiritsugu over and over again is – ‘no matter what method you use, you must ensure your own survival’. Since she has such a creed, Kiritsugu firmly believed that experienced huntress can definitely make it out this time too. After two hours, the radio was still silent.
Finally, when the light of the stars in the night sky was covered by the cyan shade of dawn, the tired voice of a woman was transmitted with static.
“… Can you hear me? Kid… you aren’t asleep, right?”
“Loud and clear, Natalia. We’re both at that most sleepy time right before dawn, after staying awake for the entire night.”
“Of course. If you had dared to go back and sleep last night I’ll definitely kill you afterwards… well, there’s some good news and some bad news. Which one do you want to listen to first?”
Natalia laughed briefly and said so.
“Didn’t we promise to start with the good news?”
“Ok. Then it’s good news first. First of all, I’m alive. The plane is without damage as well. I’ve just ensured the safety of the cockpit; both the captain and the co-pilot have already set the flying perimeters before their death. Even I can manage to simply drive it. Apparently the controls are the same as a Cessna.”
“Did you communicate with the control tower?”
“Got them. At the beginning they thought it was a prank, but now they’re directing me well.”
“… Then, the bad news?”
“Mm – I was the only one who didn’t get bitten. All passengers and crew, all 300 of them, perished and became Ghouls. The other side of the cockpit, divided only by a panel, already became a flying city of the dead. Don’t be surprised now.”
That’s the worst situation Kiritsugu had thought of.
“In that condition, will you… come back alive?”
“Ahh, this door is pretty rigid. Although it’s a bit wobbly now, there’s no worry about it being broken – Instead, the landing makes me more insecure. Can this giant thing really land safely?”
“… If it’s you, then you’ll surely manage.”
“Was that you encouraging me? I’m glad to hear.”
After a bitter laugh, Natalia gave a powerless sigh.
“There are still 50 minutes before arriving at the airport. It’s too early to pray – kid, chat with me for a while.”
“… I don’t mind.”
So they started a random conversation. First, they began with those two hours when communication ceased. Then they listed the dead Volsack’s many evil deeds in detail. Finally, the two of them naturally remembered the magi and Dead Apostles that they had destroyed, and those Shura’s fields that the two had faced together.
Natalia, who was usually quiet, became talkative for some reason today. The low roar of the Ghouls coming in from the cabin intertwined with the sound of them repeatedly hitting the cockpit’s door. Chatting is the single best choice to distract one’s attention from that.
“– When you first told me you want to enter this career path, I was having a real headache for a long time. Moreover, you didn’t want to change your idea no matter how much I persuaded you.”
“Was I such an unpromising disciple?”
“No… it’s because you have too much promise, too much potential.”
Natalie said with a bitter laugh.
“…What does that mean?”
“Because you can make your actions completely removed from your emotions – regular hit men can only obtain it after many years of trials. However, you had that since you were born. What a surprising talent.”
“But hey, it’s not necessarily correct to choose your life’s path based on talent and abilities alone. A person’s belief and feelings come before talents; that is the key to decide a person’s life. If that doesn’t exist, a person can’t be regarded as a person anymore. If they consider ‘What needs to be done’ before considering ‘What I want to do’ and only acted according to those rules… then they are not people but are only regarded as machines, far removed from the life of a human.”
The words of the teacher who had watched him growing up glided past the boy’s heart like cold frost.
“I, well… I had thought you are a very cold person.”
“What’s that after all this time? Isn’t that the truth? Was I ever gentle towards you?”
“No. You always were strict, absolutely merciless.”
“… Usually, disciplining a boy is the role of the father.”
On the opposite end of the radio, Natalia was silent for a while, then continued after sighing helplessly.
“However, I carry a certain degree of responsibility for causing you not to have the education from a father. Well, how to say it… it’s not that there was a way to push it off me.”
I can only teach you some survival skills; I’m useless for everything else – Natalia added that as if mocking herself.
“… You wanted to be my father?”
“Don’t mix up men with women, impertinent. At least you should call me mother.”
“… Right. Sorry.”
Although Kiritsugu’s answering tone was very even, his expression looked very shocked.
Radio can’t display the other person’s face and obviously can’t see their expressions either. Therefore, Natalia could not know of Kiritsugu’s current feelings.
“… For a long time, I experienced the blood and stench on my own. I’ve almost forgotten the fact that I am all alone.
That’s why, well… Haha. It’s almost funny. As if we are family.”
“Me too –”
What’s the meaning of saying these things now? Kiritsugu asked himself in his heart while he continued to speak.
“– I, have also regarded you as if you’re my mother. I feel that I’m not alone, and I was happy.”
“… Hey there Kiritsugu. Let’s stop talking about this topic so that we don’t feel too awkward when we meet next time.”
Natalia’s current bewildered expression could vaguely be discerned in her words. It seems she was still unaccustomed to things like ‘embarrassment’.
“Ahh, the situation got worse. I’m landing in 20 minutes. I don’t want to commit some fatal mistake at such an important time just because I remembered something funny.”
Natalia didn’t need to choose to do an emergency landing.
She also wasn’t going to meet Kiritsugu again.
Only Kiritsugu knew that.
There is no possibility of Natalia surviving before all these Ghouls are completely destroyed. The only way to deal with this airliner full of Ghouls is to make it plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. The operation to eliminate the “Demonic Bee User” is achieved at the cost of the lives of all the passengers and crew and Natalia Kaminski – Kiritsugu was already prepared for this outcome.
But Kiritsugu knew his teacher would definitely demonstrate her amazing abilities at the last moment. Natalia, who held on to the creed of ‘must survive no matter what’, may prevent the body of the plane from crushing in order to save her own life. Kiritsugu must consider this as well – that would be the unpredictable worst result.
Natalia, who prioritizes her life above all else, must choose this outcome without hesitation after weighing out the risks.
Land the airliner filled with 300 Ghouls at the airport and release these hungry dead – she would definitely choose this method if there were no other choices. Kiritsugu had already made the preparations to deal with this 10000-to-1 possibility precisely because Kiritsugu knew her too well.
In order to prevent the disaster from expanding further, the A300 must not be allowed to land.
That is the unswayable truth regardless of Natalia’s welfare.
Kiritsugu had been around almost half of New York an hour ago and finally brought a military surface-to-air portable missile launcher from the black market.
Right now, Kiritsugu was standing in a motor boat floating on the sea, waiting for Natalia’s plane to appear in his sight. The giant airline needs to circle a while before landing at the New York International Airport; Kiritsugu’s current position can roughly get the plane into the range of his missile.
While he was purchasing the weapon and choosing the spot to fire, Kiritsugu once again doubted the construction of his own mentality.
Viewing from the perspective of avoiding a larger tragedy, it is a correct response for him to calmly face Natalia’s death.
However, what is he who gives up on the final ‘miracle’ that would make the woman he loves survive, and instead kill her with his own hands?
It would be good if everything was only an assumption, but right now Emiya Kiritsugu was facing the cruel truth. Soon, he would erase Natalia by his own hands. Now, A300 had appeared at the sky at the break of dawn with sparkling silver wings.
“… Perhaps I, have really lost it.”
Natalia still believed without a doubt that Kiritsugu, on the other side of the radio, was in a hotel in New York, so she said leisurely with no caution.
“Maybe I would never end up saying those things if such a big mistake didn’t occur. It seems my time is up, too. Should I be retiring…”
“– If you retire, then what do you plan on doing after?”
Kiritsugu still faked an even voice. Meanwhile, his two hands have started to set the missile launcher onto his shoulder, and aimed the missile at the airliner.
“If I lose my job… haha, then I may really become your mother.”
Even with his eyes running full of tears, he was still able to accurately decide the distance to the target… it was within 1500 meters. A certain hit.
“You… really are my family.”
Kiritsugu said softly, then he released the missile.
In the few seconds that the missile had to be manually directed, Kiritsugu had to keep the aim on the airliner that Natalia was on and all his memories about her resurfaced in Kiritsugu’s mind.
But that torture did not last long. Soon the missile locked onto the heat radiation the giant commercial airliner emitted out. The missile left Kiritsugu’s control, and rushed mercilessly towards the target like a hungry shark.
The missile hit squarely on the gas tank beneath the wings; Kiritsugu watched the plane tilt and fall downwards.
The collapse afterwards was like a sand picture blown apart by a stormy wind – the masses of iron that lost its thrust was dismembered like rotten wood, and became a cloud of fine dust that silently fell onto the surface of the sea. The carcass of the plane that fell in the rising morning glow danced like confetti at a gala.
The first sliver of the dawn’s light that shone out from the other side of the horizon didn’t touch Natalia’s face even at the end. Basked in the morning sun all alone, Emiya Kiritsugu started crying soundlessly.
Once again, he had saved a crowd of unknown faces. Without anyone knowing.
Did you see that, Shirley?
I have killed again this time. Killed as when I killed my father. I would never make the same mistake that I made with you back then. I, wanted to save more people…
If Kiritsugu’s actions and intentions were known by others, would they thank Kiritsugu? Would the passengers at the airport who were spared of death under the threat of the Ghouls praise Kiritsugu as a hero?
“Don’t kid me…Don’t kid me! Bastard!”
Grasping tightly the missile launcher that was starting to wear off the remaining heat, Kiritsugu roared towards the brightening sky.
He didn’t want prestige or gratitude. He just wanted to see Natalia’s face once again. He just wanted to call her “Mom” face to face.
This isn’t the conclusion he wanted. This is only the correct decision, with no other choice and no space for dispute. Kiritsugu’s decision was ‘correct’. He erased the person who must die and saved those with no reason to die. If this isn’t ‘justice’, then what would it be?
It can’t come back anymore. He remembered that distant face so long ago that asked him “What kind of a man would you like to become?” with a gentle look under the blinding morning sun.
At that time, Kiritsugu should have answered – If he has the power to freely change the world, if miracles would dwell in his hands; ‘I want to be a hero of justice!’.
The Kiritsugu back then still didn’t know what this scale named ‘justice’ would rob away, and what it would bring him.
‘Justice’ took away his father, and now it also took his mother. All it left was the sensation of blood in his hands. Even his right to remember them was also stripped away.
The people he loved. Their voices, their faces; none of them can come back. Instead, they will appear again and again in Kiritsugu’s nightmares. They would probably never forgive Kiritsugu, who took their lives away with his own hands.
That is the choice of ’justice’. The price of pursuing his ideal.
Now, Kiritsugu can no longer turn back. What he seeks will disappear with even a single moment of hesitation or uncertainty. If so, then all the prices he had paid, and all the sacrifices, would become worthless.
Surely he would follow the ideal in his heart and reach for its fulfilment while he cursed and hated at the same time?
Kiritsugu vowed silently in his heart.
He will accept that curse. He will accept this anger. At the same time, he prays that some day he will drain all his tears and reach that far distant and serene utopia.
If the cruelty that his hands carry is the limit for humans.
Then let he himself wipe away all the tears in the world.
That was the last day of Kiritsugu’s youth –
As he determinedly stepped towards that thorny and uneven path.
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