The human flotsam that was Kyouko Kotomine lay unmoving within the muggy embrace of slick sludge. Her body remained strangely untouched by fire from beyond the physical veil. But her brown eyes stared blankly at the intermixed patches of starry sky and ember-laden smog, seeing without comprehending or caring or feeling anything, not anymore, not after what she had done.
How much time had passed –a minute? An hour? A lifetime?– since the murder of her grandfather, the execution of her father, and her steeping her trembling arms deep into the black bile of the ultimate evil while praying more fiercely than she'd ever had in her young life?
"Kill them. Kill them all."
Her fevered plea had reached the ears of a listening deity, but not the one she was brought up believing, not the one she was taught to revere.
Or perhaps it was one and the same God. For was not the God of Christianity the slayer of the firstborn of Egypt, the nameless son of David and Bathsheba who preceded blessed Solomon, and Kyouko's own unborn sister, all blameless souls whose only mistake was to be born to sinners? Did He not cast out His chosen people from the Land that He promised to them? Did He not scatter them across the face of the Earth, not to return until they rendered payment by way of blood and flesh and ash?
Was not the ill-named Grand Grail in truth the seven golden vials that bore His Wrath for all that was evil in this world? The goblets that held the sores and blood and fire and darkness and drought and world-shaking and hailstones reserved for the wicked and the incorrigible come the prophesied end times? And if so, did that not make her a seraph of the end, one of the seven angels in immaculate linen and golden girdle, entrusted to bear the destructive implements of the Apocalypse that would cleanse the world?
Oh, yes. The city of Fuyuki. The sky. The people. They all burned like deadwood swallowed up by a flash fire. They died by her hand, by her command.
Justice is the Lord's... and I... I was his burning sword...
FIAT JUSTITIA RUAL CAELUM ET TERRA PERIBUNT
let justice be done though the heavens fall and the world perish
Kyouko choked on bitter laughter. Who was she deceiving? Why bother whitewashing the crypt that was her body? Why go to the trouble of beautifying her exterior when inside she was dead and empty and rotten?
She was no angel. She was the Anti-Christ Herself.
And so my life ends as it began. Alone. Forever alone.
Mother. Grandfather. Father.
The slurping sound of boots wading through viscous mire intruded upon Kyouko's nihilistic reverie. Turning her weary, heavy head took a titanic effort of her all-but-paralyzed body. Her mediocre reward turned out to be line-of-sight to the hatefully familiar man approaching her prone form.
Kiritsugu Emiya. The mage they call the Magus Killer. Master of Saber.
The man who killed my father.
So what if Kirei Kotomine was a monster? He was still my father. I am his daughter. I am a Kotomine.
"You," Emiya murmured.
Surprised to see I'm still alive? Sorry to disappoint you, murderer of magi. But don't worry. Here is your chance to wrap up a loose end and finish your job. The chance to kill off the last Kotomine.
Kyouko drew her eyelids close to best drown out the sight of the world she'd razed. Ignored the mud displaced against her side as Emiya knelt beside her. Patiently waited for the coming blow, be it the last- or the first of many more.
Go ahead. Kill me. Put me down like a lame horse… or a rabid dog. Or take your time. Hurt me. Rape me. Use my body for a mage experiment. Do whatever you want with me. Just don't expect me to give you any satisfaction.
I have no regrets. This was my only path. My whole life is a celebration of unlimited evil.
Her eyes snapped open. The bewildered Kyouko beheld the improbable sight of Kiritsugu Emiya, the Magus Killer, crying and smiling at the same time.
"I'm so glad you're alive," he sobbed.
I don't understand.
Why are you crying? Why are you smiling? I'm the spawn of your antithesis. I'm the mass murderess that you track down and kill.
Why are you happy?
ACTS OF CONTRITION
Sheo Darren does not own Fate/Stay Night or Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.
Five years passed like the seasonal winds.
During a cool summer night, two orphans watched the full moon from the burnished floor of the Emiya home.
"I hate you," Kyouko muttered over the remainder of her candy apple. "I still hate you. I'll always hate you until the last moment of my life. And then I'll have my body buried next to yours so I can haunt your grave."
"That would be cruel to you," Kiritsugu said.
"What you did to me is crueler still," she shot back. "You kept me alive. You turned me into a pet, a replacement goldfish for the child you've never been able to rescue from the Einzberns."
Kyouko knew the destination of Kiritsugu's extended 'business trips'. Every year her adoptive father flew to Germany in order to try and recover his daughter Illyasviel from the powerful Einzbern clan.
All of his attempts had ended in miserable failure. Kiritsugu was but a pale shadow of his former reputation.
I'm probably stronger than him, Kyouko considered.
And then Kiritsugu ruined her good mood by speaking up.
"To be honest, Kyouko, I've come to consider you like a daughter."
She hissed like a snake out of Egypt. "You are not my father!" The girl all but spat into his tranquil face. "Don't ever say that to my face! Kirei Kotomine was my father!"
"He was a monster," Kiritsugu said in the gentlest tone possible.
"He was still my father!" Kyouko insisted. "And you killed him!"
"I did it to save people."
"You failed. People still died. Dozens. Hundreds."
Kiritsugu inclined his head.
"And you know why they died? I killed them," Kyouko reminded him. "I wished for their deaths. I wished for the world to burn. And I got my wish."
Years ago, suffused from head to toe with the heat of the apocalyptic moment, she would have proudly proclaimed her act of mass murder to the world. Now, the charcoaled consequences of her chosen catastrophe long behind her, she cursed the circumstances that hastened her wish.
I could have just wished for the Grail to kill Kiritsugu, Kyouko lambasted herself silently for the umpteenth time.
"I, too, had taken many lives," Kiritsugu replied.
"Then you should have snuffed out mine back then. Sacrifice the few to save the many. Isn't that your creed?" Kyouko accused. "That's the path you walked, the Path of the Asura."
"That path is a dead end," he averred.
"You can say that again. Why won't you die?"
"I can't leave you alone," Kiritsugu admitted.
She scowled. "I wish I was alone. I wish I was rid of you."
"You'll get your wish one day," he promised.
"That day couldn't come fast enough. I'll tell you why you refuse to die." Kyouko stared spears at Kiritsugu. "You think I've changed. You think I'm your success story. The girl who lived. The girl you saved."
She let out a crude laugh.
"Well, you're wrong, Kiritsugu. You let me go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then, you spare a victim. Because I smiled."
Kyouko demonstrated said expression, a patently false leer dripping with bitterness and mockery and revulsion.
"Because I've got cute shoulders."
She rolled said shoulders in a dismissive shrug.
"Because I begged."
Prostrated upon her hands and knees before Kiritsugu's lame form, pretending to kowtow for mercy, Kyouko sneered.
"And that's how you live with yourself. That's how you slaughter people. Because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction, you happen to be kind," she finished.
Kiritsugu turned so slowly that Kyouko swore she could hear his joints creak. He took his right hand off his lap.
Kyouko held herself perfectly still in anxious anticipation of the physical rebuke, the punishment.
Instead, Kiritsugu rested his hand upon her head and began ruffling her hair.
"You're right, Kyouko. I am proud of you."
How can you still be so happy? The frustrated girl wanted to scream.
"Ever since I was a child, I had always dreamed of becoming a hero of justice. I wanted to protect everyone. I wanted to save everyone," Kiritsugu continued.
The look on his face said it all. He could see something, someone right now. Someone he longed for. Someone he loved. Someone who brought a smile to his face, a smile she wanted to wipe off his face.
"But as I grew up, I came to learn that my dream was an ever-distant utopia. Wanting to help others meant wanting them to be in danger in the first place. To save someone, I needed to abandon someone else. To protect someone, I needed to destroy someone else."
His smile faded. A great weight bowed his head.
"I could never become a hero of justice," Kiritsugu lamented.
"If it will put you to rest, I'll make your dream come true."
Kyouko averted her gaze from Kiritsugu's face. Sure, he was blind and cursed and dying. But his other senses were not that far gone. He might notice something was up.
"I'm not like you," she asserted. "I'm not a failure. I'm strong. Stronger than you. I can do it. I can achieve your dream and become the hero of justice that you always wanted to be. So stop worrying about me and go in peace."
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kiritsugu smile.
"Thank you, Kyouko. Thank you."
And Kiritsugu Emiya, Magus Killer, passed away in peace.
It was a lie, Kyouko told herself during the graveyard silence. I made the promise out of spite. I wanted him dead. If making that promise got him to die, then I'd make it. I don't have to actually fulfill it. I owe him nothing. I do not feel sorry for him. I hate him. I'm not crying, I really aren't-
Icy rivers ran down her burning cheeks. She shuddered. Only now did she gain the courage and strength to do what she had always wanted to do all these years.
Kyouko desperately embraced Kiritsugu's lifeless body. She buried her face in his cooling chest and wept like the child she had always been.
"Thank you, Kiritsugu... thank you..."
To Be Continued