Chapter 1: The Remains
"Now, allow me to show you." The monstrous figure looked down upon us; his voice was filled with immeasurable rage. "This is the end of your journey, the end of human history!"
He moved his deformed yellow and black hand.
"Deploying Third Noble Phantasm. The time of birth hath come; I am the remedy of eternity!"
The black sky of the Time Temple began to shine with a purple, powerful light. A mass of red energy started gathering, powerful enough to incinerate humanity with a single hit.
And before that despairing sight, one that would bring fear to the bravest man, she just stood there, in front of me.
With her shield on her hands, she stood ready to protect me, just like she always did.
But this time, it was different. Her small figure now looked bigger than ever before; her back looked wider than everyone I had come to know.
The girl that first met me with a curious look on her face now looked stronger than every hero, villain, or Servant I had come to meet in this Grand Order.
"ARS ALMADEL SALOMIS" The monster roared, and the light descended upon us.
I extended my hand, in hope of reaching her, in hope of feeling her warm one last time. But my hands never held her again; she was out of my reach.
So far away.
I woke up in my bed.
The sheets had been thrown to the side at some point in the night, and the cold breeze of the morning touched my entire body.
It was pleasant.
With all the force I could muster, I got out of bed and started preparing for the new day.
The digital clock on the nightstand marked the five past six. It was still a bit early, but I needed to get ready with time if I didn't want to be late.
My normal routine flowed like it always did, I showered with cold water to get rid of any doziness that may still be with me, and once I was done, I contemplated for a minute if I should cut my beard a bit or not.
"Still not long enough to look like a beggar." A rapid look at the mirror gave me the answer.
I put on my clothes, took the keys and briefcase with the marked exams, and went to the door to abandon my house and start another day.
Only to stop before turning the key.
I looked back at my apartment, and my eyes moved to the object hanged from the wall. It would be normal if it was a painting or a diploma, but that object couldn't look more out of place in the small apartment.
It was a cross-shaped shield, black but with a distinct silver shine, and big enough to occupy almost the entire wall.
"I'll be back at night." I said to the inanimate object, with no hope of ever getting a response. And even so, that futile act made me happy.
"Take care, Mashu."
"Good morning, kids." I said, as I entered the classroom.
"Good morning teacher." Some of my students answered.
Others saw me but didn't, probably thinking that acknowledging my presence was enough of a greeting.
Another group whispered "Dude, Fujimaru is already here" thinking that I couldn't hear them, and the last remaining group of students just ignored me altogether.
So pretty much the same as usual.
"I have the result of the exams and most of you did…" I stopped, with the hope of creating some expectation and probably falling. "…quite well actually."
And it was true, maybe kids these days are more interested in history than in my student days, or hey, maybe I am actually a really good teacher!
…or maybe they cheated without me realizing.
"Although the ones that failed did it pretty bad." I said as I separated the approved exams from the failed ones. Just then I saw an especially disastrous exam and felt my mind developing a headache.
"And speaking of that, Mr. Lewis, can I ask you a question?"
The boy named Lewis who was talking with another student suddenly looked at me, surprised.
"Yes, teacher, what's up?
"Nothing much, Mr. Lewis, I was just wondering why did you write that emperor Nero was a girl?"
The class burst into laughter, while Lewis snickered.
"Sorry, teach, I didn't know what to do with that question, so I started thinking how much more interesting this subject would be if the emperor was a woman hiding her gender."
"A woman with big bonkers." Said another voice, murmuring, which immediately resulted in another burst of laughter
"Hey, language." I warned him, but I didn't really mean it. Then I looked back at Lewis. "You have quite the imagination Mr. Lewis, it would be great if you could put that enthusiasm into studying."
Lewis just shrugged, not really caring.
Oh, but he should care, I thought. After all, that question was the only one he got correct.
I wonder who much time has passed since I heard her sing? Four years? Five years? I used to hate hearing her back in Chaldea.
A now I wanted nothing more than to hear her again.
"Hey, Ritsuka." A voice called for me.
A man approached me, with an expression of tiredness on his face. He was wearing a brown suit a bit too elegant for a high school teacher, some trousers of the same color and a pair of glasses.
"Oh, Arthur. How it's going?" I noticed that he was taking a pack of cigars of his pocket. "Are you on break?"
"Nah, my class is having some dumb talk about environmental care or something. "He offered me a cigar. "What about you?"
"I am done with class 2-A." I said as I shake my head in denial. "I have ten minutes until I have to take care of 3-C."
"I see, I see."
And then, the conversation died down while Arthur brought his lighter to the cigar on his mouth.
"Ritsuka." To my surprise, he continued talking, I was sure that he was more interested in savoring one of his cigars than me.
"Don't you miss your homeland sometimes?"
"Where does that question come from?" I gave him a wry smile.
"Well, it's just that sometimes you look a bit…gloomy is the word?"
"Hey." If I didn't know Arthur as much as I did I would think he was trying to mock me.
No, actually he is probably doing it.
"Well, not gloomy, more like…nostalgic? It's like you always have your mind on something."
"Wow, didn't know you majored in psychology too. Must have been hard having to study both that and math in college."
"Ha! If that were the case, at least I could add a nice title to my name." He smoked some more. "Instead of just "teacher" it would be "Dr. Arthur". Doesn't that sound way cooler?"
I chuckled, this man always manages to make me laugh a bit.
It's not like we were actually that friendly to begin with, it was more like we were both in the same boat so we may as well try to get along.
Just a person to talk about the mundane of life.
"You didn't answer my question, though. Do you miss Japan?"
So he still wants to know…
"Not really. I have become accustomed to England in all these years. And you know, I actually have people I know here, in Japan though…"
"Oh, dang." He took the cigar of his mouth, looking a bit worried."Sorry, I didn't want to remind you of-"
"It's fine." I tried to reassure him. "It's been years since then."
"Must be hard either way. I don't really get along with my parents or brothers really." He released a "puff" of smoke. "But the thought of them not being there…."
"It's hard." A sad small appeared on my face. "But even if I didn't want to, I had to learn to let them go and continue living."
To let my family go…to let Chaldea go.
I keep saying that, but the truth is that after all these years, I still miss them.
Nero, Heracles, Asterios, Abby, Hokusai, Arturia, Orion, Kiyohime, Tamamo, Emiya, Musashi, Holmes, Da Vinci, Roman…
Since it was Friday, Arthur wanted to invite me for some drinks to "cheer me up" apparently. I kept saying that I was okay but he kept pushing so I gave up in the end.
It was already dark outside when I arrived at my apartment. I had more than a few drinks so I was a bit tipsy, however, all my dizziness disappeared once I saw the door of my apartment.
It was slightly open, although I clearly remember closing it properly this morning.
Once I got a bit closer I noticed another thing: the lock was destroyed and not in a way to avoid attention, it was more like someone had forced his way in with brute strength alone.
Someone definitely entered my house.
I breathed deeply and steeled my nerves, trying to think carefully about the situation.
The possibility of someone from the mage association trying to find me briefly came to my mind, but I quickly disregarded it. I am sure they want to forget that I ever existed more than to seek revenge.
No, it was more likely that this was just some random burglar looking for things to steal. If that was the case, then it would be better to just wait outside and let the police handle this.
However, I won't sit idle while someone steals from me.
Was it a matter of pride?
I am a still Magus; maybe I have more in common with those assholes of the Clock Tower than I think.
Moving as slowly as I could, I opened the broken door and entered without making a sound, the light was turned off and darkness covered the entire apartment.
I hide behind a wall before reaching the main hall, my apartment is not that big, there weren't many places to hide beside the bathroom. If the burglar was still here, then he should be in the hall.
It's been years since I last did it, but I still can use spells.
I raised my hand while remembering how to use a Gandr shot. That would be enough to incapacitate a normal person.
I breathed deeply once again and abandoned my cover. With my hand pointing like a pistol, I was ready to face the intruder.
But I wasn't prepared to see what I found.
The intruder stood in the middle of the hall, not even trying to hide her presence. I couldn't see her face since she was facing away from me, but I was sure she was a girl. Long white hair done in a ponytail fell on her back, and she was wearing what I think was a white and black school uniform.
However, something caught my attention, from the back of her head grew two horn-like objects, which strangely enough seemed to shine yellow in the darkness of my apartment.
"Who are you? What are you doing in my house?"
The moment the girl turned to face me, I saw them.
Her eyes, they glowed in the dark too, with an intense yellow brightness, but that wasn't what caught my attention, what I couldn't ignore was the insane excitement that those eyes showed me.
That was the proof, even if it had been some time since I experienced something supernatural, I could say for sure that this girl wasn't human.
"Oh, what do we have here?" She tided her head to the side, without breaking eye contact. "How long have you been there, little human?"
I could feel an invisible pressure while she talked, this girl must be quite something, I doubt a Gandr would work against her.
"That's not…something you ask to the owner of this place." I slowly lowered my hand, whatever this thing is, she wasn't seeing me as a threat for now and I wanted that to continue. "What are you doing here? Are you lost?"
I tried to feign ignorance and slowly began moving sidewise.
"Lost? Oh no. I am where I want to be." A wide smile appeared on her face. "I wonder if it's the same for you, Fujimaru Ritsuka."
"H-How did you know my name?"
Slowly, she mustn't notice what I am trying to do.
"We can know everything about anyone once they come in contact with us. Let's see…" She brought her hand to her chin as if trying to recall something. " Name: Fujimaru Ritsuka. Age: twenty-six. Profession: History Teacher. Place of birth: Unknown. Name of the Father: Unknown. Name of the Mother: unknown. Other Family Members: Unknown. Oh?"
Suddenly she stopped.
"I can't seem to find information about you within your birth and six years, five months, six days, eight hours, twenty minutes, and two seconds ago. How strange."
She began approaching me.
"Status of the Parents: Unknown. Scholarship Level: Unknown. Acquaintances from six years ago: Unknown. Activities from six years ago: Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. "
She was getting too close so I had to stop. Her approach forced me to step back, but I hit a wall behind me after a couple of steps.
"We seem to lack a lot of information about you, I wonder if it has something to do with that shield."
At that moment I realized it, she had been staring at Mashu's shield when I entered the room. Was that the reason she was here?
"I don't know what are talking about, I am just… a history teacher as you said." I tried to pretend ignorance. "And that shield is just antiquity from a friend of mine."
"Humans usually react differently when they encounter us; the fact that you seem calm is suspicious."
Shit, she realized!
She had me against the wall, cutting any possible escape route. Her bright eyes looked at me with a mad stare.
"You present quite a lot of unknown variables….that could be troublesome to our plan." She slowly moved her hand to my face, her fingers coming close to my eyes, too close. "I was going to kindly ask you about the shield, but it seems like I have to…"
I didn't let finish. With a swift move, I put my hand on her face and shoot a Gandr, she was so close that she didn't have time to dodge. Or maybe she could but didn't expect that a "little human" would be capable of that.
Either way, I managed to escape from her grasp and run to where Mashu's shield was hanged.
"Oh? That hurt a bit." Unsurprisingly, the thing didn't go down with just a Gandr shoot, in fact, it didn't even leave a scratch on her face. "What was that? We have no records of that kind "energy", other humans don't have it. Fufufufufu. This is far more interesting than I thought!"
I took Mashu's shield…no, I took Lord Camelot from the wall, and put it on my right hand.
"Now I see it!" She exclaimed, with a mad excitement. "You hide beneath that disguise of a boring normal human, but now I see it clearly."
She then pointed at me.
"Your eyes are those of a warrior, they show defiance, they show decision. How amusing. Do you truly think you can face us, The Sirens, by yourself?"
"...I don't know what or who you are." I secured the shield in my right hand, and put it between me and this so-called Siren. "But I won't go down without a fight!"
This life, the life that Mashu Kirielight saved. I have decided to protect it.
So that her sacrifice wasn't in vain, I have decided to live.
"I won't let you kill me so easily!"
"Fufuufufu...so be it, then. This is outside of my predetermine mission, but you are far too interesting to ignore." She extended her hands, and from the thin air, four black floating objects came to exist, they had a futuristic look and looked similar to drones, each one had two cylindrical protrusions that looked like cannons." I am Purifier, Battleship-class ship from the Sirens" She made a small reverence.
"Purifier…? What do you purify, if you let me ask?"
"But of course…" I said, cursing internally. "It's always about humanity, isn't it?"
A loud sound echoed in the dark room, as a robotic voice spoke in an unemotional voice.
"WARNING, SIREN ACTIVITY DETECTED. SIREN ACTIVITY DETECTED."
Between the chaotic sounds of the alarm, computers' key being pressed furiously, phones ringing at the background and people shouting to each other, a woman with red air and black uniform stood next to a man sitting before a large machine.
"Where is the signal coming from?" She asked, with a stern tone.
"Ma'am…" His subordinate managed to hear her between all the noises, but he looked worried. "This must be wrong…there is no way…!"
"I asked you a question, cadet. Where is the signal coming from?"
"…It's not coming from the ocean; the signal is coming from inland territory, ma'am."
"…! To think that they would come so close…!"
It was the first time The Siren had ventured inland, usually, they are satisfied controlling the sea, an attack to the country was something they weren't prepared for.
"What should we do, ma'am? The prototypes aren't functional yet…"
"I beg to differ on that."
Another woman appeared, she had long white hair and her mere presence was completely different from the soldiers in the room. She was calm, her silver eyes never showed an iota of worry. Her outfit was equally strange; it could be easily described as a maid uniform, and on her neck was a steel collar attached to a broken chain.
"You…! What are you doing here!? Who gave you permission to move on your-"
"Be quiet, cadet!" The woman in black shut the man up."Explain yourself."
"The Queen does not take lightly this advance on her territory; it has ordered us maids to intervene."
"The Queen…" The woman couldn't believe that the prototypes had a hierarchy already; it hasn't been that long since they were awakened. "Regardless of what you were ordered, I can't send a group of weapons disguised as girls to fight in a city full of civilians; they would bring too much attention."
"We have a special member specialized in undercover operations. If we send her, I guarantee that you won't hear a single thing about us in the media."
"Special members for undercover operations!? You were almost born yesterday, weapon! Do you expect us to believe-"
"Cadet, if you don't shut up, I will personally take care that you would be thrown in the filthiest cell that they can find for insubordination."
The man went silent, realizing that he had overstepped his rank.
"Are you sure you can do it?" The woman asked the maid. "If this mission fails, I can't guarantee yours and the other's survival."
"We are weapons, Marcia. We were made for this. If we can't destroy a single Siren attacking our country, then we deserve to be destroyed."
Marcia looked at the maid's eyes, there wasn't doubt in them.
"Alright. You have my permission to deploy."
"You have my sincerest thanks" She took her long skirt and lifted up a little in reverence. "I, the Head Maid Belfast from the Royal Navy, won't disappoint you, Commander."
END OF CHAPTER 1
Cover Art source on pixiv: www. / en /artworks/67626513