Within a blank world, Shirou used his Mind's Eye to perceive his surroundings and gradually nodded to himself.

The world around him was hazy as if he were walking on a platform of white clouds surrounded by mist. There was no distinction between anything, creating something of a border or horizon in the middle of nowhere.

Be that as it may, the light and divinity manifesting the space was peculiar in that it confirmed his prior suspicion.

It was like he'd thought.

For a split-second while fighting Metis, he felt a resonance in the link he had with Arturia, conveying their bond as Master and Servant.

However, it made no sense as Arturia was still resting back at her home, but further thoughts let Shirou reach a different conclusion.

It was odd that Arturia had yet to wake up when she was already physically healed.

In that case, something else must have been keeping her from returning?

The question was what? And now Shirou felt like he could reach an answer.

With his heightened battle senses, Shirou did not let the opportunity slip when he had dubiously felt his link with Arturia within Metis and allowed himself to be consumed.

The feeling he'd felt was a particular divinity that Shirou locked in on, and caused him to reconsider his options when Metis had moved to swallow him whole.

The Snake that eats Steel and Usurps Authority.

How did that ability work?

What specifications enabled its use?

Regardless, the ability itself stole the Authority of the Steel consumed. A neat gimmick, truly, but one that Shirou could not say he was inexperienced with. In essence, it boiled down to a single aspect.

Usurpation of Authority.

One need only look to any Campione to understand that Metis was related to Prometheus, the giver of flame to man. And Prometheus was the uncle of the man considered to be the father of all Campione, holder of the Divine Item, the Circle of Usurpation which fell into Pandora's safekeeping.

The divine item enabled Pandora to bestow the Authorities of defeated Gods to her 'children,' the Campione as their mother, and Epimetheus as the father.

Thus began the creation of Campione.

Then what of Metis?

In the era of the 5th century and Greek Philosophy, Metis was originally known to represent 'magical cunning,' and was easily equated with the trickster powers of Prometheus.

Therefore, by blood and divinity the origins of the Authority that Eats Steel and the Circle of Usurpation were one and the same. They were manifested in different ways, but by following that trail to its root, this space was reached.

As such-

Shirou hardened his expression, before softening it in relief.

Two women stood before Shirou who suddenly intruded into the space while Metis was in the process of devouring his Steel.

"Y-You, how?!" A slender young woman in her pre-teens yelled.

The woman had violet hair styled into pigtails, blue eyes, and pointed ears with ball earrings. She was pointing a shaking finger at him while gritting her teeth and gripping the hem of her white dress.

An angry Goddess. That's what the woman clearly was.

In contrast, the other woman, Arturia in spiritual form, perked up in relief upon seeing Shirou.

"Apologies Master, I've arrived late." Shirou said, moving to stand in front of Arturia and the Goddess who was now biting down on her lips.

Shirou narrowed his eyes sharply.

"Now what seems to be going on here?"

Far from deterred, the violet-haired Goddess grew increasingly agitated, lip twitching incessantly and hands balling into fists.

"It's you." She grouched out before clenching her jaw. "Y-You, you bring that Enkidu out! That lump of clay, we will have words!"

.

.

.

Shirou glanced at Arturia then back to the fuming Goddess.

"H-Help me…" Arturia pleaded, clinging to his back.

Shirou couldn't help but reassure her by patting her on the head.

"You must have worked hard all this time."

"..."


Athena bit the nail of her thumb, unable to understand where it had all gone wrong when that idiot God of Steel decided to let himself be consumed. It made no sense considering that Shirou greatly outmatched Metis with his specs and Authority!

There had been no room for failure in Athena's calculations and that gave birth to complacency of all things.

Now she was left trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of this mess.

Was he doing this just to spite her?

Gods of Steel, that's why you shouldn't trust them unless it was yourself. In that case, you'd be the most trustworthy, but she digressed.

Brow twitching, Athena left a coiled snake to guard Arturia before using GodSpeed to appear at the scene of the crime.

A frazzled Rin was still reeling while Guinevere was scowling at her. The both of them flinched when Athena arrived glaring, marring her pristine features with annoyance twisting her lips.

Athena was scowling darkly.

Ruined. Everything was ruined.

Athena hated thwarted plans the most. That and failure which she was still recently hung up over when Marduck got away.

What to do now?

Athena found herself contemplating in the silence while Rin was doing her best impression of a goldfish. To her, it appeared as if Athena had just appeared out of thin air.

Athena could care less what was going through Rin's mind right now. Rather, she was trying to determine the angle Shirou had taken to arrive at his prior actions.

Shirou had involved himself with a Divine Ancestor and a civilian girl of all people and Athena could not wrap her mind around it.

This feeling of ignorance was not a pleasant one, especially for Athena who was a Goddess of Wisdom.

Ugh, dammit.

Athena wordlessly glared harder at Rin and Guinevere. The trade off between them and Shirou was not something even close to equal.

She couldn't just leave them, but staring at Rin's face made Athena's grip clench around her scythe. Did she know this mortal from somewhere?

Rin felt awfully familiar to Athena, and not in a good way.

Narrowing her eyes, Athena grudgingly trudged past her misgivings and focused on what mattered.

Just because she didn't know what purpose Shirou had with Rin and Guinevere, didn't mean that she shouldn't try to understand. She loved mysteries.

Especially the mystery of why she was getting the impulse to slap Rin's face and call her 'useless.'

It was difficult to explain, but Rin suddenly felt shivers going down her spine when Athena gave her a contemplative look.

The divinity hiding desperately within Rin was squirming violently under Athena's scrutiny, and all Rin wanted to do was go back to her bed. No-!

"W-We have to help him!" Rin yelled, recalling the sight of Shirou getting swallowed. Inwardly, she was feeling guilty, knowing in some part that the enemy had landed a blow on Shirou due to her.

Guinevere had said as much to Rin already.

Neither Athena or Guinevere paid Rin much mind. Instead, the two women were locked in a silent battle of wills.

Guinevere nodded at Athena and was proactive in her approach.

"I seek answers, Goddess." Guinevere said.

"And I seek payment, witch," Athena drawled. "You help me with this matter first, then you have my word that I'll help you with yours."

Guinevere considered her options, and realized that she could put herself in that God of Steel and Athena's debt if she helped and they succeeded.

Hmm.

"Done."

Guinevere made up her mind, grabbing Rin as she tried to sneak away.

"Aw muoh, dammmit, I thought you were ignoring me?!"

This one would come too. Ignorant or not, a new Divine Ancestor had her uses.


A part of Godou felt like he should have seen this coming, and another part just wanted to pretend he was still sleeping. However, the effort was moot from the start.

He should have known there was something wrong when he and Erica investigated the sudden explosion the day prior and found nothing but a ruined area.

Trouble always seemed to find him.

A beautiful silver-haired woman in a white toga was standing beside his bed side, and no amount of blinking his eye gunk out would remove the hallucination. Worse, the two made eye contact for a good two seconds before Godou had hurriedly shut his eyes and covered his face with a pillow.

He was not dealing with this today.

Erica was coordinating with Andrea for certain matters, and Godou had dearly hoped to use the down time to relax.

Athena's visage was not a welcome one, and Godou couldn't remember if he'd cringed when he saw her or not. Probably not, but he had no choice but to disabuse that notion when Athena brandished her scythe.

"Forsooth Godslayer." Athena forced out with gritted teeth, irked at Godou's faux pas.

His disinterest reminded Athena of the competition that led to the kidnapping of Helen of Troy. She would not be ignored.

"Thou hath already slighted this Goddess by letting our mutual quarry escape prior, and now doth seems to pretend mine presence is air?"

Godou peaked his head out from the pillow and groaned as Athena glared at him.

"You don't have to speak like that," he muttered, sitting up.

"It lets you know I'm serious."

This was really happening wasn't it? Godou deadpanned inwardly.

"Now enough of this. There's a matter at hand." Athena swept her hand and summoned several snakes that formed a throne for her to sit upon.

Why him?

Godou twitched, staring at the snakes that were hissing and making a mess of his room. His little sister would be terrified if she tried to wake him up today, but Godou digressed.

"Alright, what's going on that Ms. Pendragon can't solve it with her busted Authority?" Godou muttered, feeling self-conscious after their last joint battle.

Godou had been carried and he knew it. Marduck countered all of his Authorities, and the best he could do was stall.

"Metis, a fellow Goddess linked to my divinity has recently descended." Athena freely shared, making sure Godou was listening before she continued. "She is a Goddess that swallows the Divinity of Steel and Usurps them as her own."

"Sounds tricky," Godou admitted.

He could see that it would be best to defeat Metis from an earlier stage when she had access to fewer Authorities. Otherwise, it would be difficult to imagine the sheer scale of difficulty if Metis absorbed many types of Steel.

But so what?

Godou was far from concerned.

"Metis came to Japan?" Godou asked carefully.

"Indeed," Athena nodded.

"Thank goodness we have Enkidu and the others, right?" Godou let out a sigh of relief.

As enemies, Enkidu, Scathatch, and the others under Arturia's Authority were difficult adversaries, but as allies, there was no one else who could compare.

Sucks for Metis.

She came to Japan, and Godou wasn't the only Campione who called his island nation home.

Silence.

Dead silence, better described as shifty as a crack formed in Athena's pristine demeanor.

"A-About that," it was the first notable sign of unease Athena displayed. In fact, she appeared embarrassingly mortified. "Metis has…swallowed one of my compatriot Gods, the one in the red mantle. And ugh, the others cannot be summoned until the Praetor arises from rest. You know of her condition. So, it's just us."

It took several seconds to compute in Godou's head, and less than a second to deny reality.

Godou knew Athena's compatriot in a red mantle, as said compatriot had throttled Godou in their first meeting.

And Metis managed to swallow him?

Which meant to say, Metis usurped the abilities of a God of Steel that had already effectively proven himself capable of defeating Godou?

"...I think I'm dreaming." Godou plopped his head back onto his pillow. "I knew I was concussed from that last battle."

"Keep sleeping and you will be." Athena raised a fist.

Godou flinched.

Athena crossed her arms and grumbled under her breath, giving Godou an ultimatum. "It's either you, or Voban, and that man has no concept of restraint."

Parts of Japan would be obliterated.

Godou grimaced and fell into thought, however, that too was not a right he could have.

Someone opened his window and jumped inside the room with deft agility and control.

"Hey little seventh, I couldn't help but overhear something thrilling!"

An overly cheerful voice came next.

No no nononononono. Not him.

Salvator Doni grinned as he barged in through Godou's window.

Athena widened her eyes. She had sensed that there was a mortal nearby, but perhaps it was due to arrogance, but she didn't consider giving normal mortals much care. A finger nail would be enough to defeat them, and Doni wasn't exactly in peak condition with the restraints binding his Authorities.

Doni had felt no different than a hapless civilian to Athena, and who was she to judge who could come and go from Godou's room?

Nevertheless, the man was unperturbed by Godou's reluctance and Athena's indifference.

"Mind if I join?" Doni grinned.


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