Chapter 12: Reaching Towards the Past

It was the day after the festival. Most of the staff and personnel were busy disassembling their stands and equipment. Even though it was only for one day, everyone had a lot of fun, and the excitement high was still being felt by everyone. Today should just be a quiet and peaceful day.


Well, it was supposed to be one anyway.

The tiny gunner mage was sprinting across the field, holding what seems to be a brown office envelope in her arms, with the assistant chasing her with blind fury in his spectacle-less eyes.

"But these are precious memories!" Marika shouted as two of the base personnel moved to the side as she jumped over their stand while Daniel felt no need and crashed through the wooden stand like a wild bull.

"No cameras were allowed on base! How the hell did you even take those?" Daniel shouted at her throwing off the cloth that got caught when he crashed through the stand.

"A girl has her secret sources!" she called back as the two ran off into the distance, their shouts still heard but unintelligible at this point. Then another girl came stumping into the stand area gripping onto one to catch her breath.

"Did...did...two by here?" Amia asked, using her free hand to clutch her chest as she gasped for breath.

"Yeah," someone replied. "What the hell was that about?"

"Marika her hands...on...on..."

"Here, drink up," another person said as she handed Amia a sealed water bottle. The communications officer thanked her as she gratefully gulped down the entire bottle.

" her hands on some pictures of the MC yesterday," she said after taking a deep breath. "And Nathan is trying to get them back."

"Ahhh..." was the reply of all the people present as they watched the two figures in the distance turn around the corner of the base and disappear.

"The hell is all that racket?" Shiro asked as he lifted his head up from the pillow. His body was aching from the extensive use of magic that he hadn't used in three years and he wanted nothing better to do than lay down in bed and relax for the day, or until he got hungry, whichever came first.

His thoughts wandered back toward the fight yesterday, specifically, on the girls' abilities and how they would hold up against the Guardeners.

Vivio and Einhart were obvious. Their martial arts skill augmented by their magic would prove to be more than a match for a Wolfshund, but he was unsure how they would deal with a pack, especially one lead by a König. They were insistent on a "fair" fight, something not given from animals with pack mentalities.

Then there was Rio. He never really dealt with her much other than see her shoot two elements at her. While impressive for such a young mage, he wasn't sure if the magic was strong enough to kill a Guardener, as he never let it touch him.

Corona's golems on the other hand, would definitely be an asset. Such destructive physical power would probably tear a hole in the Guardeners' ranks wherever it would shoot it's Rocket Punch. Of course, he wasn't sure how well it would stand up to a Eisen Tragen, but there were few things that could stand up from a punch of the Guardener class. He found out the hard way that he was one of them.

He glanced over at the table on the other side of the room where his device and blade rested. He hadn't bothered coming up with a name for the device when he first received it, but Sakura and Marika ganged up on him after the match, forcing him to name it or they wouldn't leave him alone. In the end, he called the device "Vorpal" but the device didn't seem to care either which way.

He was exasperated at Shou for the over the top transformation, but didn't hold it against him. It was pretty amusing to be perfectly honest, and it let him reminisce on the old lost days. He quickly shook his head with a sigh, clearing the pleasant thoughts from his head. Those days were far out of his reach now. He wasn't even in the same universe after all.

Sighing again, he got off his bed and picked up Vorpal and his "Null Blade" and headed out the door with the intention of getting some food and some air.

Subaru was practicing by herself in the gym when she heard Daniel's voice.

"I wonder what's going on?" she mumbled idly as she wiped the sweat from her head. She closed her eyes in concentration, as if trying to find a certain light amidst a hundred others. Finally she found it and her light made a connection with the other.

"Sakura-chan?" Subaru asked the girl telepathically. "What's going on? What's Nathan screaming about?"

"Nothing too important," the other girl replied, a hint of amusement in her voice. "It looks like Marika-chan somehow got her hands on photos of Nathan in drag from the festival and he's chasing her around the base trying to get it back. There's a pool for how long Marika will last before she gets caught."

"Oh? You're gambling now?" Subaru asked, a wry smile forming on her lips.

"Of course not!" replied Sakura with a huff. "If Okaa-san caught me, I'd be dead! Though if I was, I'd bet that she'd get away. And not because it seems to have the highest payout rate right now has no bearing for my choice. I simply believe my friend won't get caught."

Subaru started to giggle a bit only for the link to suddenly disconnect, followed by a sharp pain in her eye. Her first reaction to the pain was to clasp a hand over her eye as she struggle to remain standing after the pain knocked the wind out of her. The second was to try and find where the "messenger" was.

Abandoning her stuff, she ran out of the gym, a hand still clasped over her eye as she looked up and down the hallway before picking a direction at random and sprinting down the hall.

And then she heard him. Even though he was no where in sight, she heard his voice.

"Five hours. Five dozen. The Grand Cathedral. One more amongst them...DEATH."

And then she saw it. Just a little bit of a black cloak disappearing around the corner. She ran towards it as fast as she could, not noticing the white figure stepping out of his room.

The two of them fell onto the floor with a crash as a dull pain spread across Subaru's side.

"Oww..." she groaned. She had crashed into the bottom of Shiro's sword and probably has a bruise now to boot.

"Not that I don't enjoy this comfort...but can you get off of me?" Shiro's voice sounded particularly muffled for some reason. Looking down, Subaru saw that his face was buried into her chest. She then proceeded to do the first thing that came to her mind. Scream and lash out.

"I'm sorry..." Subaru mumbled as Shiro struggled to get off of the floor.

"No's fine...didn't want...children...anyway..." the man strained in a very unnatural higher pitched voice as he tried to use the wall for support as he trued to spread his legs apart, but the pain kept them in place. Finally, he managed to regain control over his voice. "Impressive...leg got there...why were you in such a hurry anyway?"

"Oh right! There's going to be another Guardener attack!" she said standing up straight. "I need to tell Aoi-san!"

"And you can't just call her up to tell her...why?"

There was a short moment of silence between the two before Shiro pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation as Subaru turned a bit red in the face.

"I...I'm just gonna...go over there and call her then," she mumbled softly as she made her way around the corner and out of sight as Shiro just shook his head.

"Somethings just don't change..." he said with another sigh, this one filled with longing.

"Like what?" a voice startled Shiro as he whirled around to see the assistant holding a brown envelope under his arm.

"Like how people forget the simplest methods in favor of doing something the hard way," Shiro replied.

"I see," Nathan said with a nod. "Will you be willing to help us in this engagement?"

"Of course. It's part of our contract after all. By the way, what's that you got there?" he asked, pointing at the envelope.

"Just some...contraband," Nathan replied, his eye twitching slightly.

"Really? Seems a bit thin to be holding anything useful."

Nathan's eyebrows shot up as he pulled the envelope from under his arm and opened it. The only thing inside was a single piece of paper. Shiro walked around behind Nathan so he could read it over the man's shoulder.

"Gotcha!" was all it said, followed by a small yet fairly detailed illustration of Marika's head sticking her tongue out at him. As if controlled by some mysterious force, Nathan's glasses slid off his face and fell toward the ground but Shiro caught it before it could shatter.

"I'm going to murder that girl!" Daniel screamed, causing Shiro to wince and rub his ear.

"Here's your share of the winnings," Amia said handing a credit chit to Sakura who accepted it with a smile. "Men are so wasteful with their money, don't you agree?"

"Alex-kun is pretty frugal though," Sakura said as she smiled at the large jump in her personal savings. "How long do you think it will be before Nathan finds out the envelope was a decoy?"

A loud scream coming from somewhere in the base answered her question instantly.

"I say about five seconds ago," Marika said as a round of giggles rang out through the room.

A quick beep followed by a video call screen opening up shut them up immediately.

"Oh good, you three are all in the same place," Aoi said, her expression dark. "Report to The Spirit of Terra, immediately. We have another engagement. It seems our 'guests' decided to attack somewhere up north."

"Where exactly?" Amia asked as the three girls stood up.

"Headquarters of the Saint Church, The Grand Cathedral..."

"Ixy?" Sakura asked.

"If they truly are after large sources of mana...then a King of Ancient Belka would be a prime target," Aoi said with a nod. "That's why you need to hurry up!"

"Yes ma'am!"

The Spirit launched within the hour and arrived at the Catherdral within another half hour. There, they met with a small force of Knights from the Church led by Director Carim Gracia and Sister Schach Nouera.

"Captain Kimura Aoi, Task Force 501"Shadow," reporting," announced Aoi as she, Nathan, and Shou stood in front of the Church members.

"Thanking for providing us with this information," Carim said with a short courtesy bow. "I am Director Carim Gracia. Please don't take this the wrong way but, are you absolutely sure that those creatures will appear here?"

"The information came from the same anonymous source that told us about the previous three attacks," Nathan said pushing up his glasses. "Though we have no idea how exactly this person does it, we can only assume he's figured out a way to track their movements, or perhaps he is predicting their arrival through some form of scrying."

As the higher ups talked to themselves about their plans for defense and strategies, the Returners made their way out of the ship onto the field.

"Big place," Ed said, taking in the entire scenary.

"Is that your official description for the report?" Tea asked with a wry smile, though inwardly she was also impressed by the size of the cathedral.

"How are we supposed to cover all of this?" Sakura asked. "We don't even know if they'll appear outside or inside."

While the others chatted amongst themselves, Shiro remained quiet, lost in his own thoughts of the matter.

"Three could so many have gotten through...did something happen at the Sanctuary?" he thought. "They couldn't have been overrun could they? No if they had, then these attacks would have much more frequent and with even more enemies would have appeared. The Guardeners must have broken through one of the many more are dead?"

Tightening his grip around his blade, he followed the mages around the Cathedral, keeping quiet in the back as he examined all the placement of the furniture and light sources, taking into account where the shadows are now, and where they will be when the enemy arrives.

"Ahh...the wait is killing me..." Amia said as she slumped over her console.

"Seriously..." Kasumi replied as she kept running her eyes along the battle map, looking for any signs of an early arrival. "The wait is so much worse for the heart than the actual battle."

"That's because the battle is so much worse for the ones on the ground," Aoi said with a sigh, tapping her fingers on the edge of her chair, watching the mission timer count down. There was only one hour left and everyone from The Spirit was feeling restless, even some of the Church's knights were jumpy whenever someone tried to talk to them.

Ever since the giant mutant Guardener formed thanks to their failed attempt to capture it, no one from Shadow thought they were simple "tough but kill-able" creatures. They saw them as dangerous monsters that can really destroy their planet. For the knights, it was their first engagement against them and some were worried their weapons might not work against them.

"Morale is all over the place," Aoi mumbled as she rubbed her eyes with her thumb and middle finger. She then turned to Amia before asking, "Where are Subaru and Sakura?"

"They're currently in one of the private medical rooms," Amia replied. "It seems Mister Shiro is with them as well."

"They didn't evacuate her?" Aoi asked.

"According to the medical report..." Kasumi said, bringing up a monitor. "It seems Ix-chan's been having random attacks despite her comatose state. Moving her might do just as much harm as the Guardener attack."

"I suppose it wouldn't matter in the end," Aoi said, sighing in resignation. "Nathaniel thinks that they chose this place due to Ixpellia's presence in the first place. I'm inclined to agree on the fact that they're appearing so far away from their other arrival points."

"What about the last part?" Amia asked, turning around in her chair. "'DEATH.' What do you think they meant? Is it some crazy strong Guardener?"

"Shiro says that no one on his side ever considered a single Guardener to be known as 'Death' so it might be a just the 'idea' of death rather than a single entity called Death," Aoi began but quickly shook her head. "No, since he specifically mentioned it, it may mean that something else might show up. That's why we're going to be counting on the two of you to pay attention to your stations, understood?"

"Yes Ma'am!" Kasumi and Amia replied with a salute.

"Who's this? Your twin?"

Shiro asked the question as soon as he, Subaru, and Sakura entered Ixpellia's private ward. The man had raised a curious eyebrow and walked over to the sleeping girl, looking at her face and then back to Sakura's.

"No," Sakura said softly. "She's just a friend."

"Her name is Ixpellia," Subaru explained as she took out a handkerchief and wiped some sweat off of the sleeping girl's forehead.

"Ixpellia...Ixpellia...the name doesn't ring any bells," Shiro said after rapping his head with his finger as if trying to knock some information out from the bottom of his brain. "But for some reason I feel like I do know her..."

The other two stared at him. He doesn't remember anyone he should know but somehow he knew someone he never met before?

"Was it something I said?" Shiro asked, blinking at their shocked faces. "Because it's bothering me too. The first time I've seen this girl's face was on you, kind of." Shiro said pointing to Sakura. "And yet I feel like I've known her for forever...did I know her from somewhere?"

"Maybe you're mistaking Ix for Sakura-chan?" Subaru asked hopefully, as she placed her hands on Sakura's shoulders.

"Maybe...but I remember a red head not a you know what color her eyes are? I want to"

Again he was met with shocked stares.

"If you two are going to keep on doing that then I'm going to just stop talking altogether," Shiro said, feeling a headache coming on. "I'm starting to wonder if any of my memories are real now..."

Shiro sighed again as he rubbed his eyes with his thumb and middle finger.

"I'm going to patrol the halls. You should hurry up and finish whatever you wanted to do and get to your positions."

When he closed the door behind him, the girls sighed to themselves.

"I don't get it...did Null Enders meet Ix-chan somewhere before?" Sakura asked, looking at her sleeping friend in worry.

"He didn't seem to be completely sure of himself though," Subaru replied. "Wait a minute...I remember Yuu-kun saying once that there was this strange computer that seemed to implant some information into his head. Maybe someone rewrote his memories using that same technology? After all...he isn't a cyborg anymore is he?"

"What kind of person has the power to do that? Turning a cyborg into a human?" Sakura wondered. "I'm starting to miss the simple life, where the biggest problem I had was worrying about homework and tests..."

As Subaru laughed at Sakura's words, she thought about how Null Enders didn't have any of the cybernetic enhancements he had all but flaunted in their faces, the same ones that were slowly killing him if Blau and that person had been correct. And yet here he was, completely natural except for the ungodly amount of power he had hidden inside his blood.

For the shortest of minutes, she wondered what it would have been like if she had been born naturally instead of from wherever the hell she came from, but the thought was quickly pushed aside. If she had been born normally, she would have never met her parents or sisters. She probably wouldn't have met any body she was close to in the TSAB at all.

The only reason she did was because she joined the TSAB out of admiration to her idol, Takamachi Nanoha who had saved her life when she was younger. From there she had so many fateful encounters like Tea and the Kimura family. No, she was happy with her current life and wouldn't change any part of it.

Except, perhaps, wanting Yuuki back home.

A lone figure was making his way up the path to The Grand Cathedral. He was wearing a black suit with a pair of sunglasses over his eyes. When he got to the first gate however, he was immediately blocked by a pair of guards.

"Sorry sir, but this area is under lock down," one of the guards said.

"Lock down?" the man repeated. "But I have an appointment."

"My apologies. If you can tell us the name of the person you were supposed to meet, we can get in contact with them so you can reschedule."

"I see...if that's the case, I was planning to meet with...The Flame King of Hades."

The guards' eyes widened when the man's voice changed to something demonic. Before they could react however, eight swords appeared around the man and flew at them, impaling their arms and legs, causing them to fall to the ground in pain.

"Disturbance at the front gate!" Amia reported causing Aoi to jump up.

"What happened?" she asked.

"A single man attacked the Church's knights stationed at the west gate! He's currently making his way through the checkpoints!"

"Aoi-san! Time's up!" Kasumi called out on the other side. "Multiple dimension rifts have appeared all over the Cathedral grounds! All forces are moving to intercept them now!"

"Showtime," Ayumi muttered idly as she took the ship's controls in her hands bringing them closer to the battlefield. The small frigate's cannons may not have been strong enough to take down the Gargantuan Guardener, but it did leave lots of burn marks so they may be enough to take down the basic Guardeners.

Suddenly the entire ship jerked to the side, nearly throwing Amia headfirst into her console.

"What did you do that for Ayumi?" the comm. officer asked, rubbing her nose.

"Bugs!" the helmsman answered.

"Bugs?" Aoi repeated.

"Multiple bogeys on radar!" Kasumi said. "It looks like one of the Guardeners that Shiro had in his report. 'Insekten,' I think they were called."

Aoi's eyes narrowed at the new information.

The Insekten were, like their name implied, giant insects. However, unlike the Wolfshund and the Tragen, they didn't look like any kind of single species. If one were to look at them from behind they would look like a rhinoceros beetle with the abdomen and stinger of a bee. From the front they had two large green compound eyes on the sides of their heads and four blood red eyes at the base of its large horn. It also had a mouth and a set of sharp teeth along with four mandibles.

Like any insect, it also had six appendages that should have been called legs, but they were anything but. The two limps closest to its head were shaped like the scythes of a mantis, while the other for limbs had something that looked like a human hand with four fingers.

Basically, it was like a Frankenstein of an insect, and according to Shiro, these things tend to swarm even more so than Wolfshund packs.

And if that wasn't bad enough, they still had that unknown entering from the west.

"Aoi-san, where should the troops deploy?" Amia asked turning to the captain who was still in deep thought.

On one hand, the Guardeners were a dangerous threat to everyone, magic or not. On the other hand, the cryptic warning they received from Subaru's mysterious visions said that they would encounter something called 'DEATH' while they were here. Was he talking about the unknown. However, from the security footage, it was clear he was only after the sleeping Ixpellia, who was deep inside the Cathedral.

"Tell all forces to focus their efforts on the Guardeners!" Aoi ordered. "The Unknown is a secondary target! Shadow's number one priority is to neutralize the Guardener threat at all costs! The Returners are to coordinate with the Church's Knights and do whatever it takes to take them down! All units, engage!"

"Yes Ma'am!" came the reply of every single Shadow mage as The Spirit flew around firing its CIWS at the Insekten that got close to it.

Back on the ground, the majority of the Insekten decided to ignore the TSAB frigate in favor for the large amount of ground side mages. They were also accompanied by a small number of Wolfshunds and Tragens. At the epicenter, there were two König Wolfshunds and a single Eisen Tragen that seemed to be leading the attack.

Thankfully the majority of the forces had been paroling the grounds rather than the hallways, allowing them to quickly set up a defensive against them, focusing their efforts against the Guardeners rather than the Unknown that was quickly making his way toward the Cathedral.

"Who knows, with luck he'll kill some of the Guardeners he meets along the way," Ed said as he and Alex were back to back, surrounded by five Insekten that Ed was keeping back with a ring of blue flame. "Personally, I'm hoping he runs into that damn man-bear-mole thing..."

"But what if he's the one sending them after us?" Alex asked as he parried an attack from one of the bugs, and then quickly ducking as it tried to punch him with one of its many arms.

"Then I hope he runs into Shiro."

The man in question was dueling with a pair of bugs that were being backed by a wolf.

"Thirty Insekten. Eighteen Wolfshunds with two Königs. Nine Tragen with one Eisen. Sixty in total." the man counted as he sliced off one of the Insekten's scythes. "Just as Subaru's information said there would be. I don't like's too convenient. There has to be a catch to all this information they are receiving."

Dodging another attack from the Insekten, he went to slash at the bug's side with his Null Blade, but the bug used its extra arms to catch him and hold him allowing the Wolfshund to make its attack.

"Damn it I hate you guys!" he snarled as he used all his strength to swing the flying bug into the path of the wolf like a giant bug bat. "I'm really missing the archer and lancer battalions right now. Teach me to over specialize in swords and guns that only shoot magic bullets with short ranged bayonets."

He then threw the Insekten on the ground and stood on its body as it thrashed out at him wildly with its many limbs. When it took a swipe at him with its scythe, he managed to pull his caught arms high enough so that it cut off its own arms instead. With his arms free, he shook off the limbs and quickly decapitated the Guardener, letting its body dissolve in a black mist.

"Next?" he asked as he turned his blade at the scythe-less Insekten and the Wolfshund. But the two of them did something that Shiro had never seen before. The bug launched itself at the wolf and began devouring it, ripping into side and taring out a large black gem before crushing it inside its jaws as it began to glow in a black aura.

"What the hell?"

Leader-class Guardeners sometimes absorbed members of the same type in order to evolve, but this was the first time he actually saw two different type actually eat one another.

"Oi Shiro!" Vita's face popped up in a video call next to him. "What the hell is going on? They all started eating each other!"

"You mean it's happening everywhere?" he asked as the black aura around the Insketen disappeared, revealing a completely different form. "Stop them! Kill the ones that are trying to eat the others as fast as possible! It seems that they are willing to cannibalize each other to gain strength to push kill us!"

"Damn...Vita said as she swung her hammer, completely crushing the skull of the Insekten trying to devour its fellow bug. "Just what kind of sick freaks are these things."

"The absolute worse kind," Shiro said as he ended the call as he stared at the new form in front of him and muttered, "Steigenden Insekten..."

The new Guardener answered him with a high pitch screeching roar.

They were the evolution of the normal Insektens. Its thorax having split into two, causing it to lose its stinger in favor of gaining two legs instead. Their bodies were much thinner than their basic counterparts and much taller. They also only have one scythe with the other limb holding up a large shield made out of scales instead. It's head was much smaller, only an eight of its original size. It had six blood red eyes at the base of its horn along with one compound eye shaped like a visor below the six red ones. It no longer had a jaw but still had a pair of mandibles. It also retained an extra pair of arms and its wings for flight.

"God...I really hate you guys..." Shiro complained as the two began to duel.

Subaru, Tea, Marika and Sakura were fighting together against a pair of Eisen Tragen. Due to the mass cannibalization from the Guardners their numbers had dwindled to the point where multiple mages and knights can keep them occupied at the cost of them being even more dangerous than before. All that basically happened was the Guardeners deciding to sacrifice quantity for quality. Something the mages did not want at all.

"Uwaah!" Marika screamed as she jumped over the Einsen's fist, which hit the wall behind her, creating a huge hole in the side of the building. Hanging from a windowsill on the second floor, Marika could only gape at the destruction. "And Edward got punched by that thing?"

"Gear...Excellion!" Subaru roared as she rushed up to the second Einsen. Her speed allowed her to move past its first punch, allowing her to throw a left hook followed by an uppercut into its head, forcing it to stumble backwards slightly.


A cartridge shell flew out of both her knuckles as their gears began to rotate so quickly that they glowed red, empowering her next two punches, this time actually knocking the Guardener back, causing its feet to slide across the ground.

"Subaru! Jump left!" Tea called out and Subaru complied as the first Guardener brought its fist down at the spot Subaru was just at. Sakura fired some of her anchor points at the Guardener, keeping it locked into place as Marika landed beside Teana and both girls pointed their guns at the trapped Guardener.





The gunner mages unleashed their respective spells against the Guardener who had managed to free one of its arms and used it to block and or absorb as much of the orange and purple barrage as it could. However, the rate of fire was much faster than the Guardener's absorption rate, causing its arm to be riddled with holes, rendering it useless.

It let out a large roar as it tore its useless arm off its own shoulder and flung it at the gunners who dived out of the way. As the arm crashed behind them, it crumbled into black dust.

"Umm...a little help here?" Subaru called out, as she desperately dodged the Einsen that still had both its arms. Sakura quickly made her way to help. She fired an anchor point on the Guardener's foot and its extension attached itself to the arm above it, causing it to trip as soon as it tried to take another swing at Subaru.

But its partner wasn't going to be counted out. Even though it only had one arm, it seemed to have entered into some kind of berserker state. It let out a hollow roar as it lashed out at everything with its remaining arm.

Then, all of a sudden, they both stopped attacking. They remained still for about fifteen seconds before turning toward the main building of the Cathedral and jumped towards it, crashing through the wall as they got inside.

"H-hey! Get back here!" Sakura shouted as the mages ran after them.

"Guys!" Kasumi reported as three video calls opened up around them as the four of them ran inside the building. Shiro and Vita were on the first one, chasing down several Steigendens, Alex and Ed had one while they were chasing three Königs, with the last one showing the bridge of The Spirit. "We have a big problem!"

"What happened now?" Vita asked as she sent a small sphere at the closest bug, sending it crashing into a wall allowing Shiro to run his blade through it, splitting it in two.

"The Unknown has reached the main grounds, and as he did, there was a huge spike of energy coming from Ixy's body," Kasumi explained. "As of right now, every single Guardener is making its way toward her, the Unknown as well."

"There is some good news though," Amia said. "From the security footage, it seems that the Unknown is killing the Guardeners as well. About as quickly as quickly as Mister Shiro does too."

"What?" Shiro shouted. "Did you get a look at his face? How is he doing it?"

"No, his face was covered by a hat when he first showed up. Right now he looks like a floating shadow. As for his methods, it looks like he's using a combination of magic and a sword. Huh? He just...disappeared?"

"Shit!" Shiro swore as he increased his running speed, overtaking Vita who was flying, cutting through any and all Guardeners that were getting in his way. Finally he reached the end of the hallway, and disappeared into a shadow.

A pair of Königs entered a room, their lances stained in dark red blood. They sniffed at the air before turning towards a bed at the side of the room. They both let out a low growl as they made their way towards the sleeping figure on top of it. As they reached out to grab her, their arms were suddenly relieved from their bodies. The Guardeners were forced back as they struggled to stay balanced on their feet, something that was now very hard to do because of the lack of weight on their left side.

From the shadow behind one of the heart monitoring machines came a man wrapped in pure black cloth. On the left half of his face was a skull with one floating red eye in the center. On the right side of his face was a sheet of metal with no holes or openings.

The humanoid wolves roared as they tried to attack their assailant. The Unknown simply stepped forward, swinging his blade upward as he did, knocking their lances upward before bringing it down on the foremost Guardener's shoulder, severing the lance arm from its body, following with a diagonal slash up from the Guardener's right hip to his left shoulder.

He then reached over with his free hand and grabbed the other Guardener by the head. There was a crushing noise as he released his grip revealing five holes in the Guardener's head. The beast stumbled backward before its body began to swell and twist in ways a body should never be able to before exploding into a fine black mist.

In an instant, all trace of aggression disappeared from the Unknown's body. He turned his head toward the girl who had soundlessly slept through the short battle. Although his only revealed eye was nothing more than a ball of red light, they flickered slightly at the sight of the girl.

The Unknown removed the monitoring equipment from her body and stood between her and the sunlight coming through the window, casting a large shadow over her body. He then raised his hand over her only to stop when something white barreled into him. The two figures were sent crashing out the window in a rain of glass, rolling on the ground to break their fall as well as avoid the falling glass.

Both figures stood up, blades drawn and stared at each other. Two red eyes met a single one and both charged as their blades clashed. Or they should have.

Shiro's Null Blade cut through the other man's sword like a hit knife through butter, meaning his blades were magically constructed rather than forged from iron. Another quick slash allowed him to cut at the Unknown's chest, but underneath the black cloth he saw a thick metal breastplate.

The Null Blade could only cut through magic and things created from magic. It couldn't even pierce through natural or non-magical things unless there was enough force applied through it. Even then, the blade was dull, meaning it wouldn't do much damage anyway..

"That means..." Shiro mumbled as he sheathed his blade, but not before cutting his finger on the edge. "I need to do this the old fashioned way.

"Sword Create!" Vorpal shouted as two blades appeared in Shiro's hands as the blood panels flipped the space around it. At the same time, two long black strips extended from beneath the Unknown's cloak and slowly hardened into blades as well, making it a dual sword battle.

The sound of metal clashing together rang through the air as a white blur clashed against a black one before both separated and clashed together again. At the fifth clash, the Unknown had swung his blades downward toward Shiro, forcing the man's knees to buckle from the force. Even his feet sank into the ground.

"Damn it!" he cursed as he threw off the Unknown with his strength, causing the Unknown to land with it's back towards the sun. He looked up for a moment before returning his gaze to Shiro. Immediately, sections of the Unknown's shadow rose up and flew toward Shiro.

Shiro blocked them with a white hexagonal barrier, but stepped out of the way in case they did manage to pierce through it. He ran to the left, dodging and shielding himself against the shadow lances, trying to get around the Unknown, so that he can't use his shadow as a weapon.

Shiro tried to distract him by throwing of his blades past the shadow lances. His target simply turned his body sideways to dodge, sending the blade flying into the forest instead. Shiro smirked as the blade popped out from the Unknown's own shadow, and pierced the area where he was holding his sword, causing it to fall from his grip, but there was no sign of blood of black dust coming from the Unknown's body.

"Shiro!" A panicked voice behind him caused him to look back to see Tea and Subaru running and skating respectively up to him.

Shiro then cursed this momentary distraction.

One of the shadow lances caught him in the leg, causing him to stumble. But before he could hit the ground, the Unknown's cloak started to shimmer as it split apart, shooting dozens of long black strips at him. The stripes converged into a giant hand which lifted him up into the air and slammed him against the wall of the building, knocking his breathing mask off his face.

The cloth then pulled the unknown towards Shiro, who was stilled pinned to the wall, allowing the Unknown to get in a free attack. The cloth retracted the instant the Unknown swung his blades upwards in an "X" pattern, slashing through Shiro's armor, sending blood diagonally up the building's wall creating something like a bloody "V."



The two girls, in their horrified and furious states, accidently called Shiro the way they called Kimura Yuuki as they fired their basic shooting spells at the Unknown, forcing him away from the White Knight.

"That's..." Tea said as the Unknown looked at them. His red eye flickered slightly as his cloak began forming something that looked like a gun. Quite a lot of them too, ranging from handguns to heavy machine guns.

"Uh oh," Subaru barely got out as black darkness rained down upon them kicking up dust and gravel everywhere. However, none of the shots actually hit them. When the dust cleared, the Unknown had disappeared, showing that the show of force was just a distraction. "Where did he..."

"Shiro!" Tea shouted, as Subaru quickly turned her attention back to the injured man as she rushed up to his side behind Tea.

Shiro was in bad shape. He was barely breathing and blood was still dripping out of his wounds, but it looks like they didn't reach any of his organs.

"Aoi-san!" Subaru quickly opened a video call to The Spirit's bridge. "We need to extract Shiro now!"

"Understood," Aoi replied as The Spirit quickly, made its descent.

Subaru then quickly went to help Tea remove Shiro form the wall.

Author's Notes:

Teh gasp! Shiro has been completely destroyed by a sucker punch!

I'm having a lot of trouble writing the next chapter so this may be the last one for a while...sorry! Please turn your attention to Code Magi Lyrical Rider in the meantime as you wait it out. Hopefully I can get it finished before December.