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Fate/Beyond the Hollow Lens

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Chapter 3

 

Infiltration

 

Rin

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Spookies

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Persona!

 

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