A/N: He lives! Contrary to both popular and unpopular belief, I am in fact still here. I simply haven't had the time to even try and sit down and write anything, let alone properly update stories to the level I want.
The good news on this front is, however, that within three weeks, all of my exams will be finished, and i'll be properly free to write all I want for the first time in around six months! This means full steam ahead on the updates, so there's that to look forward to.
This idea is one that has been knocking around in my head for almost two years now, and its original version, which I never finished nor posted, was one of the first pieces of Fanfiction I ever wrote, as well as the one of the first pieces of serious writing I ever wrote. This is obviously not that version, and honestly I'm embarrassed that that original version even exists. It's not exactly.. stellar, to say the least.
Either way, after going through multiple iterations and incarnations, this has finally crystallised into a proper thing. I am a rabid Nasuverse fan, so I will be attempting to stay as close to canon compliant as I possibly can. A tall order, I am aware, and if any Nasuverse scholars would be willing to help me in this endeavour, it would be much appreciated.
Also, there very well may be a lack of fight scenes, in favour of dialogue and character interaction. The purpose of this story is to explore the character of EMIYA (one of my favourites not only in the Nasuverse, but in anime and perhaps fiction as a whole), and the impact of a set of broken ideals on those who uphold those ideals within this reality.
I be purposefully trying to avoid clarifying certain elements of RWBY canon, particularly surrounding Summer herself, so as not to clash with anything that may be clarified in the future of the show. There is still much we don't know about both her character and the abilities we know to be afforded to her, so I shall endeavour not to create something that may clash with the future of the show's canon.
Without further ado, let us begin!
She was going to die
There was blood everywhere, leaking constantly from the gaping wound in her side and the countless other cuts littering her body. There was a sword clasped weakly in her hand, stained with black ichor but rent and twisted beyond use or recognition.
She had hauled herself to sit up against a tree, still desperately fighting the endless horde despite her wounds. Bullet after bullet flew unerringly from rapidly weakening hands, and the strength of her soul came forth in piercing light that eradicated those creatures of darkness foolish enough to stray into her gaze.
But it was not enough, and she was still going to die. Every bullet in the world couldn't change that fact. Her wounds were too great, her scroll shattered, and with it her hope for reinforcements.
Her eyes and limbs grew heavy, too heavy for her to hold anymore. The monsters around her slowed their charge to a victorious prowl, stalking towards her with red eyes gleaming with murderous intent. A spike of fear danced across her rapidly weakening heart, but it was quickly repressed and discarded.
Death was something every huntsman and every huntress had to come to terms with. It was an occupational hazard, particularly when dealing with the Creatures of Grimm. Such was the nature of their foe that the best training and equipment in the world could not hold back the tide, nor could the power of the soul, manifest into reality.
That was the sad nature of the world, and one she'd accepted the moment she began the most basic of training in her youth. Back then, it hadn't been so scary. She had been an orphan, with nothing to lose and the world to gain.
But now, she had the weight of responsibility on her shoulders, knowledge of a world that she could never have even dreamed of existing. She had a family, people who were waiting for her to return. Who now she'd never see again.
Silver eyes drifted shut, and the last thing she ever felt was regret.
In that moment, time froze. In the same moment, time carried on.
The observations to be made if the timeline was allowed to proceed were disturbing to say the least. It would ultimately result in a victory for humanity, thus satisfying the condition and making intervention by the Counter Force unnecessary.
However, with the identification of the lynchpin, an operation could be safely carried out to minimize the losses taken by humanity, thereby furthering Alaya's goal as the 'Will of Mankind'.
Each option was taken and considered, every operative with every set of orders possible. Most succeeded, some did not, only one achieved all the parameters required for continuing the timeline as directed.
There was a pause, though it could not be truly called that, the effects of time irrelevant to an existence such as it. The timeline, no matter the agent or the directive, was variable up to a certain point. Such was the nature of time, fluid and ever-shifting rather than rigid and unbending.
The positive and negative aspects of such a drastically time-altering operation were taken into consideration. The survival of the subject would allow for a 62.578 percent chance of further offspring beyond Subject B inheriting the subject's unique bloodline, allowing for further stability and manoeuvring power within twenty years. However, it would also result in a notable increase in the aggression and frequency of attacks upon the human race as a whole would increase by 17.78934 percent, thus lowering the chance that Subjects A and B would both be ready for combat by the time they were needed. However this potential flaw was offset by the increase in martial and applicatory skills observed by Subject B as a result of Subject A's survival at this moment.
Consensus was reached. Intervention would be made to save the designated individual, through deployment of a corporeal agent. The identity of that agent would differ based on the dimensional variables, as would the exact orders given. Success was guaranteed, failure was not a possibility
Directive: Proceed with operations
Reality survey: 16,809 instances of this event observed
Chance of 2nd Anomaly, Designation: KALEIDESCOPE interference: 5.47629%
Deployment type: Counter Guardian
Operative Designation: EMIYA
Objective: Ensure the survival of entity Designation: ROSE, SUMMER
DEPLOYING COUNTER GUARDIAN
Existence as a Counter Guardian was torture.
You existed in a constant state of mental limbo, with only the barest of memories necessary for the completion of your task. You became a machine, targeted like a scalpel at any threats or potential threats against the greater human collective. Or just some poor, foolish Magus who'd strayed a bit too close to Akasha, and had to pay the price with his or her life.
All you had were memories of the life you'd led before you became a Counter Guardian, before whatever enormous mistake had forced you into the servitude of Alaya. The memories of your actions as a Counter Guardian existed within a haze, all but those that would increase your combat capability stripped from you upon each deployment and subsequent retrieval.
The world was a dance of colours, coalescing into reality as he came to his senses. Deployment was always disconcerting, and this time was no different.
He was in a forest; snow that had once covered the ground in a pristine blanket now had great furrows and indents all over it, indicative of a battle having happened recently. Black creatures surrounded him, the information he was provided with recognising them as 'Beasts of Gaia'. In a similar manner, the woman lying unconscious in a rapidly growing pool of her own blood was Summer Rose. His target.
He didn't bother to repress a sigh as he settled into a fighting stance. Typical.
Steel eyes focused, his objective clear. The woman's wounds could be healed with Avalon, meaning he had to clear the area of present threats before tending to her wounds. Comparatively simple and surprisingly moral, compared to plenty of his past objectives.
Kanshou and Bakuya appeared in his hands in a flash of blue, the projections resting comfortably in his grip. Even had the situation not been as it was, he would have called for his preferred swords, but one of the aspects of the Married Swords was their usage against monsters and other beasts, making them even more ideal.
The beasts' snarls and howls soon turned to squeals and yelps of pain as the Counter Guardian began his work.
Summer was warm.
She dreamt of a perfect world, sun beaming down across the garden of the house she shared with her family. There was just enough breeze to keep them cool, but no so much that it was even the least uncomfortable.
She was sat in a comfortable garden chair, with the pleasant feeling one got after having had a particularly refreshing sleep. Taiyang was next to her, leaning against the wall of their house with his arms crossed as he watched his daughters run backwards and forwards across the garden.
A flawless existence, sought by many yet never found-
Yang was up, practically bouncing around with energy as she energetically showed her younger sister whatever excitement of the day. Ruby followed her with wide eyes, eagerly taking in every word her sister said.
The culmination all toil and strife in this world,
She could see Qrow across the garden, sprawled on his back in a hammock as he dozed peacefully. Just out of sight, not quite hidden in the trees, but not obviously visible either, Raven stood stoically, watching over them all, though even she had a hint of a smile dancing across her face.
They all looked young, unburdened by the weight of responsibility and guilt, of regret and pain. It was perfect, in every way imaginable, every minute detail impeccable.
Eternally unreachable, nought but a distant dream.
Yet even as it truly took shape, coalescing around her in all it's splendour, there was an underlying sense of falsity. She knew that her dream was unattainable, and that cast a shadow of a doubt over the fake utopia around her. Yet even fake as it was, she could allow herself to bask within it's warmth, perhaps deluding herself that one day, the dream she sought could be obtained.
It's name is the Everdistant Utopia, Aval-
Then the warmth was gone, torn from her as she plummeted down, down into the darkness. With a herculean effort, she managed to drag her eyes open, catching the barest glimpse of red.
And then she was gone, happy to succumb to unconsciousness, as she mourned all that she had lost.
The Counter Guardian moved swiftly, for his purpose dictated that there was no time to hesitate. Avalon had healed her most serious wounds, and she was no longer on death's door.
The fabled sheathe of King Arthur was a powerful Noble Phantasm, one that, due to the methods of its construction being far beyond the comprehension of even the Unlimited Blade Works. Only constant exposure to it from a young age had allowed him to trace what was even a rudimentary copy, and countless years of practice had allowed him to replicate most of the primary functions of the Everdistant Utopia that had sustained the Once and Future King. As a defensive item and not a blade, the cost in Prana was exorbitant, but it was not that he had to contend with.
While deployed as a Counter Guardian, any entity received several benefits to assist them in completing their task. Physical enhancements were the chief among these, elevating those under Alaya's sway to the rank of contending with even low ranking Heroic Spirits. However, one also was supplied with however much Prana they required, drawn from places a single human mind could not even begin to comprehend, and as one of the major issues he had had to contend with in life was dealing with his own lack of available Prana, a near inexhaustible supply made him all the more deadly.
The issue, as he had discovered with Avalon, was the heavy and almost suffocating presence of Gaia that saturated the world around him. He had been aware that Alaya existed as a singular entity across Parallel Worlds, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker than it had been in his original reality, but always present. Had this not been true, his first bid for freedom would have been the Wizard Marshall Zelretch, and this was not the first time he had been deployed into a reality not his own. Such an increased presence posed a problem for him, requiring him to spend more Prana to push against the pressure Gaia now posed and use any sort of magecraft, be it reinforcement or his signature. It would also mean a faster degredation of his projections, an annoyance, yet not a serious issue in combat. The decreased from a maximum of around four hours to just under a single hour was manageable, after all.
He scooped the now unconscious woman up. It would not be difficult to find a small settlement and seek more professional medical help for her. Unfortunately, from there he was sorely lacking in knowledge of what to do next. The mission parameters were frustratingly vague, dictating only that he ensure the woman's survival, nothing more to indicate whether she was being hunted, and the perpetrators were to be eliminated, or something else entirely.
A scowl crossed his face as he bounded through the thick snow, reinforced legs and the body of a Counter Guardian carrying him far more rapidly than any human could ever hope to manage. All he could do now was seek shelter and wait for the woman to awake. Perhaps she could provide him with more clarity than his accursed torturer as to the true nature of his mission.
Qrow Branwen rushed through the snow, faster than he had ever moved in his life.
Summer needed help, and the SOS broadcast from her scroll had been received by the CCT and delivered to Ozpin's priority alerts within seconds. Within minutes, the best huntsmen and huntresses available were mobilized and arming up, ready to leave as soon as possible to reach their comrade.
Taiyang would not be far behind him, Qrow knew, but he had had to come from Patch, and although he had moved at a frankly mind boggling pace, Qrow's transformation and subsequent flight capabilities allowed him to reach the scene first.
His weapon was in his hand, its comfortable weight giving him some measure of comfort as dread settled over his heart. He could only hope that his former leader was still okay, and although Summer was more than strong enough to take care of herself, being stronger than most Huntsmen, Qrow himself included, but even she could not hold up for long against the full might that the Queen of the Grimm's most ancient and terrible children could bring upon their victims.
Without stopping his movement, he quickly pulled out his scroll. The blinking dot on the map that represented the location of Summer's scroll was only several hundred metres away now, and he increased his pace further to reach it.
It was a desperate wish, a plea from a man who had never been religious or adhered to any faith but his own creeds to any higher power that would take the time to care. Perhaps, on some level, he would reminisce, years later, he knew what he would find there. The silence was the most telling of signs, even as he passed the marks of a fierce battle, a splintered tree here, a furrow carved into the snow there, and even a still burning fire or two, a telltale sign of burn dust usage.
The location Qrow arrived in was wholly unremarkable, in terms of geography. It was in the middle of the forest, with no distinguishing features anywhere around it. The only things of note were the absolutely ruined landscape, small craters with shards of ice or the faint scent of ozone dotting the landscape.
That, and the trail of crimson blood, leading to one of the trees, and the twisted and shattered weapon resting beneath it.
Right next to a bloodied scrap of white cloth.
He vaguely felt his knees hit the ground, but he simply couldn't bring himself to care anymore.
Summer awoke to a dulled world of black, one only punctuated by the steady throbbing of her side.
With a herculean effort, she cracked her eyes open, the dim light of the comfortable room seeming blinding to her. The room she was in certainly fit the description of 'comfortable'. It was a homely place, small enough to be cozy while not being cramped or hindering.
A small child wandered into the room, carrying a bowl of water and a washcloth. When their eyes met, she quickly set down the bowl and scurried from the room.
A memory came to her unbidden, memories of a little girl in red and bright lilac eyes flashed into her mind's eye before leaving just as quickly. She winced at the sudden stab of pain in her head, bringing a hand up to her temple.
"Papa!" echoed her voice as he retreated into the house. She tuned out whatever was said next in favour of trying to get up, hauling herself onto her elbows regardless of the pain in her side.
"I wouldn't do that, if I were you."
She blinked at the voice, taking note of its strange, almost echo-like quality. From her position on the temporary bed that had apparently been set up for her, she could quite clearly see that there was no one else in the room with her. She paused for another moment, listening to the silence that had settled over the room for any indication of a speaker, before dismissing it as trick of her mind and continuing her attempts to get up;
"Those stitches are fresh," the disembodied voice continued, this time causing her to snap her head up in alarm and look around the room, "If you pull them now, you'll only increase the time it takes you to heal."
"Who…," she wondered aloud.
"For now, a trick of your mind," the voice said, "as a word of advice, please don't try to talk to me while there are others in the room. You're the only one who can hear me, after all, and I'm sure you'd rather not be seen as crazy."
She opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off by the door to the room opening once again, this time revealing a decidedly middle-aged man, tall and thin, with the occasional streak of grey dotting his dark hair. The little boy followed him, hidden behind what she would guess was his father.
"Hello, miss," said the man with a smile, "How are you feeling?"
The man introduced himself as Dr. Vermillion, the only medical practitioner for miles around. According to him, he had found her, grievously injured, on his doorstep, and had brought her inside for treatment.
"To make it all the way here under your own power, and with the rate you're healing at, you must be a huntress," he observed.
That had caused her to blink.
'Am I… a huntress?'
She couldn't remember anything of the sort, and any attempt to think further on it left her with a splitting headache. The last thing she could remember was the woods, and there, she had had a rent and torn piece of metal in her hands. Was that a weapon?
She was fairly certain that she had passed out in the forest, and though it was indeed possible that she had made it all the way to a nearby village and could simply not remember it due to the blood loss, she couldn't shake the nagging feeling that there was more to it than that.
Either way, her aura was quickly recovering, and with it her wounds were healing. The stitches used, he explained to her, were a unique kind made for huntsmen and huntresses, which would simply hold the wound together until it was healed by the body's aura, at which point they would dissolve harmlessly into the bloodstream.
After not very long, the doctor had been forced to leave, apparently to go and pick up a new shipment of supplies for his clinic. He left her with the strict instructions not to get up, and his daughter had followed him out of the room without saying a word.
Confusion and panic began to set in, as she desperately wrestled with her memories. Her mind was a jumbled confused mess, fragments of people and places that made no sense coming to her and then vanishing just as fast. Breathing deeply, she calmed herself as best she could. There were more pressing things to think about. Namely the disembodied voice she could have sworn to have heard before the doctor had entered and subsequently left.
Once she was certain he was gone, and after thanking him profusely on his way out, she looked cautiously around the room once more.
"Um… hello?" she asked what seemed to be thin air, "Are… you still there?"
"I am," the voice told her, "I assume you have questions?"
She had one hell of a lot of questions, and for a moment, she couldn't decide which to ask first. After a moment she settled for the most basic of them.
"Who are you?"
There was a pause, and then the vacant chair beside her bed was suddenly occupied with a shimmer of blue, and there was a man sat there, elbows on his knees and hands linked.
He was clad in red, with a unique, form fitting black body armour that she could not recognise underneath the coat like piece of cloth that adorned his entire body. His skin was deeply tanned, and a head of slicked back silver hair sat atop a face adorned with razor sharp features.
The man paused for a moment, apparently considering his response. Her own widened silver eyes, still shocked from his sudden materialisation, met his own steel-like gaze.
"I suppose you can call me… Archer."
Just to clarify several elements of the nature of the interaction of the Nasuverse mechanics with the world of Remnant.
Alaya: Alaya, at least within my perception of the entity, exist as an extra dimensional manifestation of the 'Will of Humanity'. So long as a humanity exists within Gaia, and is (or once was) strong enough to separate a portion of the World's consciousness into Alaya, Alaya will exist in that reality in the same capacity it does in others, sort of as an ever-expanding web, ruled over by a single 'consciousness' constantly processing information and reacting accordingly. This is my explanation as to how EMIYA has never been able to escape Alaya by seeking out Zelretch, as usage of the Kaleidoscope would have no effect on Alaya's ability to track and influence him. In this portrayal, at the very least, Emiya's 'Hell' is truly inescapable, hence the need to take drastic actions to free himself.
The Creatures of Grimm as 'Beasts of Gaia': Will be explained in more detail as the story progresses, but in this portrayal, they are the equivalent to Counter Guardians and the Counter Force, acting to purge the World of the 'taint' of humanity.
Gaia's strengthened presence: The strengthened presence of Gaia is the result of the entity's domination over the World in comparison to the World as we know it. The reduced number of humans, as well as the physical presence provided by the Grimm, have caused Gaia's presence to increase, making magecraft harder to perform, and reducing the amount of time it takes for the world to 'correct' one of the products of the Unlimited Blade Works. As observed by EMIYA, this should not have a notable effect on his combat capabilities.
Archer 'astralising': Counter Guardians are in effect (at least in my portrayal of them) Servants contracted exclusively and permanently to Alaya. As they did not ascend through their own merit, they are still considerably weaker than most heroic spirits, but as evidenced by Archer in the Fifth Holy Grail War, fighting of stronger and faster opponents is his bread and butter. Fortunately for him, there are very few, even among the strongest of Grimm and humans, that can even hope to touch him, even with lower stats than most servants. However, there are consequences for the deployment of a Counter Guardian in a world so dominated by Gaia
Whether this takes place before or after his final confrontation with Shirou in the Unlimited Blade Works route is irrelevant, as in this portrayal, Archer would have had his memories of the incident erased anyway, except for the accumulated experience and anything useful for improving his combat efficiency. Alaya is pragmatic like that.
If you just read through that entire info dump, congratulations! If you did not, I cannot say I blame you in the slightest. I shall see you all next time, so until then.