One bright moonlit night, Kyouko Kotomine Emiya promised her adoptive father Kiritsugu that she would carry out his dream of becoming a hero of justice.
From there she comes upon two roads. One is less-traveled by, to paraphrase Robert Frost, and will make all the difference.
That road is one where the Author belatedly realized that the death of Kirei Kotomine during the Fourth Grail War would generate a massive upheaval of canon that has far-reaching consequences. His initial realization can be summed up as "There is no longer anyone who can stop Zouken Matou during the interval between the Fourth and Fifth Grail Wars" followed by a crisply succinct English curse word and its Tagalog/Filipino equivalent.
This story is not that road. That road is dark and full of terrors, including grue.
Instead, this is the tale of Kyouko treading the well-worn road towards the hill of swords (thankfully not the one in Berserk; Godoka knows that's depressing), the never-ending road to Calvary inherited from Shirou Emiya (whom she technically murdered and definitely usurped; you keep what you kill), the so-called-
STATIONS OF THE CANON
another story of The Kotomine Gene
Sheo Darren does not own Fate/Stay Night or Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.
Just because Kyouko inherited the surname Emiya and remained in Fuyuki City did not mean that things turned out the exact same way for her as they did for Shirou in canon. They might share the same red hair and penchant for bladed weapons, but they were very different people.
Shirou was a civilian, the only survivor of the final crossfire of the Fourth Grail War. Kyouko was the daughter of a Grail War participant, the granddaughter of the referee of same War, and the repentant culprit of the greatest arson and mass murder case in the history of Fuyuki City.
The Fire scoured Shirou's memories clean, leaving him a blank slate for Avalon to reshape into a sword befitting its ideal. Kyouko willingly summoned the Fire, an act that scorched her soul a charcoal black, a metaphysical injury beyond her late father's skill at spiritual surgery,. The ability to forget the things she'd said and done during those awful times when hatred and rage clouded the eye of her mind would have been a blessing for her.
Both of them developed into Fakers. But one lost sight of his ever-distant utopia and became a disillusioned archer while the other continued to labor under a heavy cross as her way of performing self-flagellating penance.
Shirou admired Kiritsugu, pestered the man to teach him magecraft, and ended up with the mistaken notion that he could only use his nerves as a Magic Circuit every time he performed thaumaturgy. Kyouko loathed her savior for killing her father and was unable to come to terms with her conflicted feelings for Kiritsugu until his death, so she avoided that painful waste of time and effort.
Kiritsugu was admittedly untalented as a mage and even more uninclined to pass even the scraps of his remaining craft onto Shirou. Kyouko's teacher was a once-in-a-generation genius of a magi, far more inclined to act as a tutor, and did a much better job at it as her pride and the life of her best friend were on the line.
"All right, Emiya-chan. I accept you as my apprentice in fulfillment of the alliance between our families. But you had better do your best as my student. Your reputation as a mage will reflect upon mine."
"Call me Rin-sensei! I'm your teacher! I'm not doing this because I like you or anything!"
"Sure thing, Rin-sempai!"
"…fine, sempai will do…"
Most importantly, Kyouko was much more physical than Shirou.
Not in a muscular sense. Make no mistake, pound for pound Shirou was physically stronger than the smaller, lighter Kyouko. Size does matter. Just look at Berserker.
But Shirou lived a sheltered life even before the Fifth Grail War robbed him of everything. He then became so self-effacing and self-sacrificing that Shinji Matou could get away with walking all over him in middle school.
Kyouko jumped head first into the thick of the Fourth Grail War. She confronted a serial killer and his equally sociopathic Servant with only her phone pal (whom she trusted completely despite never having seen her face before) and a couple of filched sheets of Scripture. She witnessed her grandfather get murdered, swore bloody revenge, and wrenched the blood debt out of the chest of the wrong person. And when she ran into Zouken...
Her first reaction to the ruined face leering at her was to shriek in terror at the top of her lungs. An understandable response. She was but a young girl, and the abomination before her screamed NOT HUMAN almost as loudly as she did now.
Her second act was to frantically whip out her last filched sheet of Scripture and flood it with her prana, the way her phone pal had taught her to do so, transforming the sheet into a Black Key that she then hurled with all of her strength at the center of mass of the creepy perverted mage.
In Acts of Contrition, Kyouko had been sufficiently unlucky to nail Zouken in the spot where a human's heart was usually found. Unlucky, because Zouken had not owned or required a heart (and all the other organs that normal humans possessed and needed) for centuries. So he still escaped with a smug "It seems, Kirei, that she truly is your daughter…" left in his wake.
But here Kyouko turned out to be lucky as terror ruined her aim. True, she missed Zouken's body. But her badly-directed Black Key found a better target: Zouken's shadow, pinning the monster long enough for Kirei to accomplish something he was never able to do in Heaven's Feel or Acts of Contrition: Kill the man he loathed the most.
"Clever girl," Zouken had wheezed out before Kirei proceeded to thoroughly torch him down to the last Blood Worm that composed his physical body.
Kyouko forced herself to watch the well-deserved holocaust until the last ember went cold and black. "Is he dead?" she finally asked her father, who was stamping out one last wriggling Worm.
"Terminated," Kirei confirmed. Then he did something absolutely unexpected and terrifying.
He smiled at Kyouko.
It was the smile of a man who had just executed someone who vexed him on a fundamental level.
The only way this could get better was if Kirei had also gotten to kill that jerk Gendo Ikari. Maybe later.
"Well done, Kyouko," he allowed.
It was possibly the happiest moment Kyouko had ever spent with her father.
So, having decided to master physical combat, Kyouko looked for people who could teach her how to fight.
The Church was a no-go. She had learned that Light was not always Good, discovered that the glare of fanaticism could be fatally blinding.
Her best friend and magecraft tutor was unable to help her there. In most timelines, Kirei would have instructed Rin Tohsaka in his Super Kai Men Baji Quan, a self-developed fusion/corruption of ancient Chinese martial arts and his miracle-granted thaumaturgy that let him fight Dead Apostles and mages on equal grounds. But here his premature death deprived Rin of that critical skill tree, which is going to have serious repercussions down the line when they face Caster and her Master.
Kyouko did know kung fu. But her instructor was her grandfather, and Risei practiced Baji Quan as a form of meditation and physical exercise. His Fist of Eight Extremities was not a fist meant for battle.
Besides, after practicing with her Black Keys and Azoth dagger, Kyouko found that she liked weapons. She could instinctively understand the philosophy of their designs, imagine the composition and structure of their bodies, and sympathize with every second of their histories.
So she made do with a certain senior high schooler who happened to be the greatest unsung kendoka in all of Japan...
"Ow! What gives, Taiga?"
"What was that? What did you call me?"
THWACK THWACK THWACK!
By now Kyouko had grown used to this treatment. She also attained sufficient skill could block the shinai with her crossed forearms.
"Do you have to yell out your attacks, Fuji-nee?" she grunted. That still stung!
Taiga's response was Tora no Fuyuki Ryuu Ougi: A Heretic Kendoka Has More Than One Bamboo Blade a.k.a. pull out another shinai from behind her and hit the preoccupied opponent on the head with it.
"Surprise surprise attack!"
"Yow! No fair!"
"All's fair in love and war!"
"No wonder you got disqualified from the nationals, you cheater!"
That was a direct hit on Taiga's berserk button. "Shut up!" she howled.
THWACK THWACK THWACK!
Kyouko casually caught Taiga's shinai bare-handed with nary a glance or wince.
"You know, Fuji-kumichou," she yawned like a bored tiger (haha) while gripping the wooden practice sword tightly so that her startled big sister figure could not wrench the groaning wood free. "It's not a surprise attack if you announce it."
Direct hit to the ego. Critical damage. Status effect: Berserk.
"Don't call me kumichou!" bellowed the Tiger of Fuyuki right before she again resorted to A Heretic Kendoka Has More Than One Bamboo Blade.
The younger girl caught the second shinai as well. Then Kyouko yanked both weapons out of Taiga's grip, flipped them around, and brandished them at their previous owner.
"Why don't you bring out your true Precious Tool," taunted the double-wielding redhead, "And give me a real battle!"
"Ohoho," Taiga growled. "You asked for this, Kyouko-chan…"
Tora-Shinai pounced from behind its mistress' back with a deadly roar. The tiger strap charm affixed below the guard of the infamous wooden sword swished in anticipation of a good meal.
Kyouko hissed with an electrifying blend of fear and excitement. There it was. The demonic sword that will not rest until it tastes blood, sealed by the Fujimura family using the tiger strap charm. And she wanted it. Oh, God, did she want it.
"Come at me, anego!" she challenged.
The next day, Raiga Fujimura scolded his granddaughter and his ward for wrecking the Emiya dojo. He decided to redirect their excess energy by ordering them to repair the room.
"This wouldn't have happened if you didn't resist, Kyouko-chan," Taiga complained as she and her little sister figure fitted a new shoji door into the frame.
Some people never learn.
"Sure. By the way, Fuji-nee?"
"What is it?"
Some people do learn. All the wrong things...
Another divergence was Kyouko's choice of friends during middle school.
"Oh, shut up, you arsehole," the exasperated redhead griped aloud after Shinji's arrogant airs finally exceeded the limit of her carefully-cultivated patience.
In Kyouko's biased opinion, there was only one man, one demigod, who could act like he owned the world. And that was because he did own the known world once upon a time in ancient Mesopotamia.
'Stupid Matou… No wonder Dad hated Zouken. It's all I can do not to stab this idiot out of principle.'
"W-w-what did you call me?" the flabbergasted purplish-haired (how did that work?) middle-schooler cawed at her in the manner of a noisome crow taunting an old lion.
Instead of giving in to the temptation of disembowel Shinji's guts, Kyouko decided to eviscerate his ego instead.
"I said 'arsehole'. The 'arsehole of arseholes'. Captain Arsehole."
"W-what? Take that back, you fake nun!" Shinji whined.
What he got was a punch to the mouth. And there was much rejoicing. YAY~
(No Heaven's Feel route here. Sorry, Sakura.)
Instead, Kyouko gravitated towards someone else, someone who shared the same interests.
No, it was not Issei-
-Ryuudo, not Hyoudou. Issei (Ryuudo, that is) was opposed by her best friend, her phone pal from years back, and Kyouko secretly enjoyed watching him writhe in torment, one of the many ways by which she mollified the Kotomine in her genes.
No, her new friend was someone who got shafted in canon, someone who could have been a Heroic Spirit of the Rider class, who believed that "Beauty must do martial arts", and who was not just an archer.
"You have a naginata?"
Ayako Mitsuzuri tried not to blush from the intense look bestowed upon her by her brown-eyed classmate, a friend of a friend who hadn't really paid much attention to her until today, when she let slip that archery was not her true forte in martial arts.
"Yes," she admitted. "I am skilled in many martial arts, but my favorite and specialty is naginatajutsu."
"Do you use a real naginata?" Kyouko pressed.
"What do you mean by that? Oh, you mean if it has a real blade? Of course not! That would be dangerous!"
This was while the frowning Ayako's eyes were messaging, 'Of course it has a real blade. Come home with me after class. I'll show it to you.' It wasn't every day that she got to meet someone else who shared her delight in naginatajutsu.
"Booooriiing," Kyouko lied aloud to further the deception.
'I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship,' she wordlessly communicated to her brand new friend, teacher, and rival.
Her childhood best friend became jealous for all of five minutes. Kyouko resolved that by proclaiming Rin "my best genius friend" while assigning "my best martial artist friend" to Ayako.
"When did this turn into a competition?" the bemused martial artist asked.
And that was how Kyouko began assembling her lesbian army.
Oh, it was also the time she started using spears as her favorite weapon.
Kyouko glared at the full-body mirror in the vain hope of making the unwelcome sight go away in an invoked case of mind over matter. But the glowing Command Seals entwined around her right arm continued to burn their unwanted imagery into her brown retinas.
"This can't be happening…not again, not this soon," she seethed. "Kiritsugu blew up Fuyuki's ley lines, for God's sake! I watched him place the bombs!"
'Unless… this is a reaction to him bombing the ley lines… in which case this is really bad...'
Her one-girl debate was half-hearted and rhetorical. Kyouko was not one for self-deception. Not after supping the bitter wine of the burnished cup. Not after her part in upending the golden vials of a dark and hateful god over Fuyuki City.
'So this is it, Kiritsugu. It's time to show you what I've learned.'
Thinking of her adoptive father actually got her to relax and chuckle. "I guess it was a good thing I left 'it' there," Kyouko said to her wryly grinning reflection before dressing as quickly as possible.
'It' was the summoning circle in the toolshed. Kyouko had stumbled across it during a self-imposed cleaning spree shortly after Kiritsugu's death. She suspected it to be the same circle that her late legal guardian had used to call forth his Servant during the War.
At the time of her discovery, she had considered destroying it, only to realize that she did not know how to do so. She briefly considered asking her senior for help- and then remembered that her senior would demand an explanation as to why she had a summoning circle in her backyard. And that was another whole can of worms that she did not want to open.
Now Kyouko blessed her earlier hesitation.
A trickle of prana quickly restored the summoning circle to bright life. Good, she approved. It still worked.
Now came the hard part. "What do I use as a summoning catalyst?" she asked herself.
Kiritsugu had expended the entirety of his inventory during the Fourth Grail War. He left nothing for his adopted daughter; he refused to burden her peaceful life with the deadly vagaries of magecraft.
Kyouko did inherit Kirei's Mage Circuits. She had also acquired the Command Seals of previously defeated Masters from the body of her late grandfather entirely by accident.
But she didn't know a single actual thaumaturgical spell, not even the extremely situational Sacramental spells sanctioned by the Church for use against the accursed undead.
Fortunately, she did have the aforementioned senior who was willing to provide invaluable expertise in all matters pertaining to a necessary heresy.
Someday, Kyouko vowed to herself, Rin Tohsaka should learn the truth of her disappeared father who never came back from the Fourth Grail War.
"Tokiomi Tohsaka. You had a hand in my grandfather's death. You let Grandpa Risei die. This is for him!"
And the vengeful Kyouko sank the Azoth dagger within Tokiomi's heart.
'Someday was not today. Everyone died someday. But– I will not die today.'
Die… Dying… the words and the thought dredged up a bittersweet memory from the painful past.
The Grail excelled in destruction. Those who did not perish outright during the initial onslaught died in excruciating agony within mere days despite receiving some of the best medical care in the world.
Even the land did not escape its wrath. Kyouko remembered visiting Ground Zero a mere year after the Fire. The city fathers had cordoned the desolation; they spoke of turning the charred lot into a tribute to the dead. A monument, they called it, but Kyouko knew a graveyard when she saw one. After all, she had created that so long ago.
'How did Kiritsugu and I survive that?'
And Kiritsugu had been reduced to a functional cripple, a ruined wreck of a great man who could no longer perform even the simplest acts of magecraft.
In contrast, Kyouko had enjoyed a miraculously quick and thorough recovery from her dip into the depths of demented despair.
'Why didn't it affect me?'
'My magic circuits? No, circuits don't work that way. I learned that much from Rin-sempai.'
'An immunity to the Grail?'
'Evil knows evil,' cooed a tiny voice inside her head, a serpent in her mental tree of knowledge. 'Like nourishes like. Isn't that right, mass murderess? Liar? Attempted patricide?'
"I want you to find his murderer so we can kill him."
"Kill them. Kill them all."
"You're my friend, Rin. Why would I hide anything from you?"
"I wish I was alone. I wish I was rid of you."
"I did all of those," Kyouko admitted to herself. "But I regret them. I have learned from those mistakes. I will make amends for them. I will never repeat them."
She rested her right hand upon her tremulous heart. The gesture was overly dramatic, especially since she was the only one in the room… but hers was the only one whose opinion truly mattered.
After all, character was what you are when alone in the dark.
"This I promise," she promised.
'My chest… this feeling… I remember…
I was at the center of the Fire. I called for Hell on Earth. I didn't get hurt, but I was cursed. I pledged myself to darkness in order to attain the power to destroy all of the fools around me.
And then Kiritsugu found me.'
Her savior had drawn a magnificent sheath of blue and gold from his torso, transferred it into Kyouko's chest. Only then did he dare to pick up her broken body and carry her to a first aid station.
'That sheath… it saved me. It healed my injuries and purified my body of the curse.
Kiritsugu could have kept it for himself. If he did, he would be alive today… and I would be dead. Or worse.
It's the very first gift he gave me. The best kind of present: A future.'
"Thanks, Kiritsugu," Kyouko whispered.
'Now how do I summon that scabbard?'
'Maybe I should call Rin-sempai after all.'
It turned out that Kyouko didn't need to take the scabbard out of her body. She simply needed a little bit of blood thaumaturgy that all good Christians knew.
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins…
"Are you my Master-" Saber halted in mid-speech. "Wait a minute. Aren't you Kotomine's daughter?" she growled.
Kyouko shared her Servant's grimace of distaste. She also recognized the unhappy King of Knights.
Of all the Servants possible, it just had to be this one...
"If it helps any," she appeased, "Kiritsugu Emiya adopted me."
Judging by the disgusted look on Saber's face, Kyouko experienced the sinking feeling that this was going to be a very tumultuous relationship...
to be continued / itutuloy / つづく