The Masters and Servants of the Black Camp had once more gathered in the castle’s conference room.
After much trouble, Assassin of Black had been taken down, thereby getting rid of any lingering worries before they departed. There would be no problem leaving the other Yggdmillennia clan members to deal with and cover up the injuries from the fog. The fact that the children that Assassin had controlled were all alive and well was a silver lining within it all.
“We’ll leave Trifas and head to the capital Bucharest at noon tomorrow. Once there, we’ll board an airplane and commence our air-raid against the Hanging Gardens.”
—So Fiore’s declaration shouldn’t have been surprising, but…
“Nee-san. An air-raid means attacking the ground from the air, so I don’t think that phrasing applies in this case, strictly speaking.”
“Muh. I-It doesn’t matter. Caules, make sure you finish all your preparations in time.”
“Well, I will, but are we really going by air? Using a normal plane?”
Fiore nodded with a frown.
“After all, no matter what plans we think up, it’s impossible to avoid being intercepted by the enemy, right? In that case, it’s more efficient to go there using the cheapest method and disguising ourselves as much as possible.”
“Hey, hey! The airplane! I can pilot the airplane!”
Rider of Black enthusiastically raised his hand—but Fiore shook her head.
“We’ll have a golem pilot the plane. We can’t have a Servant’s hands occupied with piloting it in the middle of battle.”
“But I have a rank of A+ in my Riding skill! I wanted to show off how I can ride anything and not just my Hippogriff, you know!?”
“Ufufu. Such a shameful motive gives me all the more reason to say no… Besides, if you’re not riding your Hippogriff when things turn bad, you won’t be able to protect you Master, right?”
“Ugh, that’s true, but…”
“The members going to the Hanging Gardens are Archer of Black, Rider of Black, Ruler, the boy who can become Saber of Black… and me as well.”
Archer of Black tried to object, but Fiore coldly refused.
“We’ve gone over this, Archer. I also have my pride as the head of Yggdmillennia. And we can’t risk the possibility of my prana being cut off from you in the midst of battle either.”
Archer silently withdrew his protest. He appeared to understand from Fiore’s obstinate expression that his words wouldn’t change her mind. Fiore continued speaking to persuade them everyone else as well.
“…I must accompany you all in case the worst should happen. I have a duty as the head of Yggdmillennia. Additionally, unlike a normal Holy Grail War, fourteen Servants were summoned this time. It’s possible that the Path between Master and Servant is weakened as a result. It’s not a good idea to become separated from each other.”
In a Holy Grail War, the relationship between Master and Servant was, logically, the same as between magus and familiar. There existed a Line connecting the familiar and magus, which was essentially unaffected by distance. However, the prana channel between Master and Servant was a pseudo-version of this Line that was created during the summoning. Prana flowed across the Line, but Fiore conjectured that it might become cut off if they became too distanced from each other. Even more so if they left Romania, the base of Yggdmillennia’s magecraft.
In other words, it would be the same as if the Master didn’t exist for the Servant. Unless they had the skill [Independent Action], Servants wouldn’t be able to last even a day in that condition.
“Nee-san, me too—”
Fiore quickly spoke up to cut Caules off.
“Caules. You must remain here… You are the successor of the Forvedge family. I can’t allow you to be exposed to danger.”
When Caules replied like that, Fiore glared at him with cold eyes. Her eyes weren’t those of his older sister, but of a magus.
But, though that would normally be enough to make him withdraw his opinion, Caules glared right back at her without retreating a single step.
“…Caules. We will talk about this later.”
As if to shake off the bad atmosphere hanging over the conference, Ruler spoke up to ask a question.
“An airplane, huh…? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it in terms of speed, but have you thought up any countermeasures against making us an easy target for the enemy when we approach them?”
Fiore frowned and pressed a hand to her head as if very troubled.
“We have come up with three tentative measures. If you’ll all listen, then—”
Fiore laid out the full details of the strategy she had refined together with Archer. Among the three measures she had devised, two of them were extremely valid and effective plans that anyone could think of.
The problem was the last one.
‘It’s a bit forceful, but it’s not a bad idea’—so judged Rider of Black. Sieg also agreed to it, saying, ‘It will slightly raise our chances of reaching the Hanging Gardens.’ When Archer of Black heard the idea, he was also satisfied, saying, ‘It will reduce our disadvantage in the air even if only by a little bit.’
And lastly, Ruler, the only one among them who understood the common sense of regular society, became pale-faced when she heard it.
“…Ruler, is something wrong?”
Fiore tilted her head and asked her curiously. Ruler breathed out a sigh and shook her head.
“No, it’s nothing. I just painfully realized the gulf that lies between magi and normal humans.”
Even with this plan, though, they would only be able to get close to Assassin’s enormous Noble Phantasm, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
“It still isn’t enough. I’d like at least one more countermeasure to have in play.”
Sieg groaned at the difficulty of what Fiore asked.
In the first place, the preconditions were harsh. An impregnable floating fortress, along with Atalanta, Karna, Achilles and Semiramis—all of them Servants of the strongest rank.
The problem wasn’t a matter of winning or losing, but how to feasibly approach that floating fortress—
Ruler raised her hand first. She cleared her throat, gathering everyone’s attention towards her.
“How about preparing a second airplane loaded with explosives and enhanced through consecration and making it dive and crash into the gardens from a high altitude?”
Ruler, who had run through numerous battlefields, proposed quite an extreme plan.
Fiore stiffened. Archer of Black exclaimed “Oh!” in admiration and clapped his hands.
“But the Hanging Gardens is an autonomous moving fortress. It’s most likely Assassin of Red’s greatest and most prized mystery. Even if you consecrate them, I have doubts about how much damage mere explosives will be able to do…”
“However, if we don’t manage to damage it at least a little, even infiltrating the gardens will be impossible. The situation is far different from the last battle. This time, they’ll definitely counterattack with all their might.”
Ruler was correct. Back when they were stealing the Greater Grail, the situation hadn’t allowed the Red camp to ambush the enemy Servants while the Hanging Gardens was so close to the surface. In the first place, Shirou had intentionally led the Black Servants and Ruler into the Gardens back then.
This time would be different. The Red camp would move to eliminate the Black camp with all their might.
“Even if we use that plan, it still isn’t enough.”
After Archer of Black stated that, the gathered Servants, Masters and even the homunculi standing by for orders exchanged various ideas, but none of them were worth pursuing.
“Not a plane, but strategic bombing aircraft… Hmm, either way, we need a weapon with great destructive power… missiles… or a bunker-buster… or, though the name is disrespectful, perhaps the [Rods of God]1…”
Fiore and most of the others couldn’t understand even half of the things that Ruler murmured. Only Gordes trembled in fear, saying, “Does this holy woman intend to end the world…?”
“Hmm? In that case, how about this homun—”
The instant Caules tried to point at the homunculus Sieg after suddenly thinking of something, Ruler glared at him. Caules frantically hid his hand.
Sieg then raised his own hand and spoke up.
“I really don’t mind using my Noble Phantasm as Saber of Black… But, if I end up clashing against the Hanging Gardens’ defense functions—in other words, against Assassin of Red’s spells, the Gardens will likely survive the attack even if I don’t lose outright.”
Sieg could accurately calculate the power of that spell attack which Ruler blocked with her holy flag. If that was all there was, he was confident that he could overwhelm and beat it with Saber of Black’s Balmung.
However, they had learned from Rider of Black that the Hanging Gardens had eleven interception spells prepared and ready for Assassin of Red to fire at any time. If the spell that Ruler had blocked was a ‘one’, then it was basically multiplied by eleven when fired in combination.
Even then, Sieg probably wouldn’t lose, but he wasn’t confident that he could defeat it either. The odds were likely that it would turn into a contest of power—clashing against each other with all their might and merely resulting in both of them exhausting themselves.
And, though the Red camp could afford it, that was the worst possible outcome for the Black camp.
“Turning it into a contest of power is the same as wasting Saber of Black’s power. That’s a very poor plan.”
Archer of Black stated that, and Ruler agreed. Sieg also wanted him to use his power as little as possible. But it was also true that he wanted to help them reach the Hanging Gardens if his power was necessary.
If the odds were high that it would end up being a contest of power, then it couldn’t be helped.
There were no holes in their plan itself. There weren’t, but—in order to reach the Gardens, they had to get through Lancer, Rider and Archer of Red’s interception attacks. The Gardens also had its own defences, so taking that into account—
“…As I thought, the odds of us surviving are low.”
At Sieg’s intuitive words, a gloomy silence enveloped the conference room. Just as Sieg said, even with all their plans, the odds of success were low. A plane was, in the end, merely a flying lump of metal. It would be easily torn apart by any attack from Archer’s bow, Lancer’s spear or Rider’s chariot.
“—That’s true. The fact that I’m so inept that I can only think of something like this is the problem. However, there aren’t many methods for us to oppose the Hanging Gardens.”
Though it was called a ‘garden’, it was already on the level of a fortress. Even the Fortress of Millennia, which had required hundreds of years to build, was but a fragile balloon in comparison.
Assassin of Red—Semiramis. The legendary empress born from the goddess Derketo and a human man. Famed for her peerless beauty after she grew up, she was sometimes regarded as an incarnation of the goddess Ishtar.
She could probably put up a good match against Lancer of Red, Karna, with the strength of her mysteries. And then there was her Noble Phantasm, the Hanging Gardens. Even if it was a temporary miracle that would only last for the duration of the Great Holy Grail War, airplanes, which were the crystallization of modern science and technology, were nothing when compared to it.
“It’s fine, it’s fine! At the very least, I can protect Master and one other person!”
In order to break the gloomy atmosphere, Rider of Black spoke up in a bright voice. His words weren’t a simple show of courage. They were full of confidence, truly the kind of words that only a hero could shout.
“You mean with your Hippogriff?”
“Yeah! I couldn’t display its special ability in the previous battle, but this time I’ll use it for sure! After all, you’re my Master now! Ahaha.”
Rider laughed while slapping Sieg’s back repeatedly. Ruler felt the atmosphere in the conference room flip around and become half-amazed, yet also brighter. Those words were quite carefree, but they were sincere as well. Rider hadn’t tried to forcibly cheer them up; he was a warrior who truly thought that way from the bottom of his heart. That was enough for the atmosphere to change.
“And besides, I’m completely impervious to magecraft! I have a tome that can counter any kind of spell!”
After all, Rider of Black had an abundance of reliable Noble Phantasms to make up for his own weak abilities.
“Well, I did forget its true name, so it’s can’t display its real ability, though.”
Yes, even if he had forgotten the Noble Phantasm’s name and couldn’t activate its full power——
“No, please wait a second, Rider. What did you just say?”
Everyone’s gazes, including Sieg, converged on Rider of Black. Rider tilted his head with a puzzled expression—
“Eh, like I said, I have a Noble Phantasm tome. I’m really troubled since I’ve forgotten its true name.”
Looking completely untroubled in his demeanor, Rider of Black spoke cheerfully.
—Rider of Black took out a book which suddenly materialized of nowhere and placed it on the conference room’s table with a thud. All the magi of the group, including Fiore, Caules and Gordes, gulped at the sight of it.
“This is Astolfo’s Noble Phantasm…”
Unlike Rider’s Hippogriff or lance, which had little to do with magecraft, a grimoire like this was a familiar sight to them.
And because they were familiar with grimoires, they could comprehend the enormous magical power hidden within this tome.
“…I see. So the reason your Magic Resistance is only one rank below mine is because you have this.”
Ruler nodded in understanding. She had certainly thought it was strange. The Magic Resistance of the Rider class was usually low-ranked, and she had never heard any legend of Astolfo originally having such a trait either.
But there was a legend about a tome that could destroy all spells, which had been given to Astolfo by a good witch. Indeed, if he always had this in his possession, he wouldn’t be harmed by most spells.
“Yeah, it really is convenient. After all, just possessing it protects me from spells.”
“…Umm, Rider. May I ask something?”
While taking a deep breath, Fiore spoke up.
“This tome can activate its true abilities by speaking its true name. According to legend, this is a grimoire that can destroy all spells, right? …And you forgot its true name?”
“No, actually, it’s just on the tip of my tongue—”
“Remember it, please remember it! We might be able to take down the Hanging Gardens if you do!”
Fiore shook Rider’s shoulders with her Bronze-Link Manipulators.
“Wah, wah, wawah, wawawah! Wait, wait! I’ll remember! I’ll remember it! No, actually, I just remember it! Really, really!”
Not only Fiore, but even Archer and Ruler got excited and pressed near him all at once. Even someone like Rider could feel the pressure here, and he took a step back while sweating.
“Err. Umm. What I remembered isn’t its true name, but the requirement for me to remember it, though…”
“Yeah. The requirement is—a moonless night. If it’s on a day when there’s no moon, I can definitely invoke this grimoire’s true name.”
Everyone exchanged glances at those words.
“Moonless—in other words, a new moon, huh?”
Fiore wondered aloud, and her Servant Archer of Black voiced his agreement.
“The moon has been treated as a guide of madness since ancient times. If we consider that the reason that Rider’s reason evaporates is due to madness, then it’s only on a night when the moon his hidden that Rider’s reason returns.”
“The next new moon is… five days from now. What will you do, Yggdmillennia?”
Sieg asked the question. In truth, their plan was to depart tomorrow, but if they waited until the next new moon, Rider would be able to activate his Noble Phantasm.
The longer they waited, the farther the Hanging Gardens would get from them. If the Red Camp managed to leave Romania’s borders, the ownership of the Greater Grail would become a contested issue. Even if they managed to take back the Greater Grail outside of Romania, it would be considerably difficult to reconnect it to the land’s leylines since it would be outside the territory that served as the base of Yggdmillennia’s power.
The head of Yggdmillennia, Darnic, had once used the power of Nazi Germany in order to transport the Greater Grail, but the clan didn’t have any such power or connections now.
Yggdmillennia’s level of influence was completely different inside and outside of Romania. If they were within Yggdmillennia’s territory, they might be able to gather the survivors of their clan and, if necessary, utilize Romania’s government to take the Greater Grail back to the Fortress of Millennia.
But, once they took a single step outside of the country, Yggdmillennia’s ‘power’ was weak. It would be impossible for them to transport the Greater Grail back. And it wasn’t like the Association of Magi had given up on the Greater Grail after losing in the Great Holy Grail War.
In other words—even if they won this war, the Greater Grail wouldn’t return to Yggdmillennia’s hands.
But, if they didn’t wait five days, they would have to shoulder excessive risk in order to get back the Greater Grail.
Fiore was pressed into making a decision.
…As a magus, she should go after the Greater Grail even if it meant ignoring Rider of Black’s Noble Phantasm.
To reach the Root. To make Yggdmillennia’s power known to the world. For the sake of those objectives, activating the Greater Grail was absolutely necessary.
What would happen if they let the Greater Grail fall out of their grasp without resistance? It would mean the end of Yggdmillennia. At the very least, letting the Greater Grail be stolen would almost certainly mean the end of her life as a magus.
As the head of Yggdmillennia, that alone was—
“…Sorry. Please let me talk with Nee-san for a while. Sieg and all the Servants, please go back to your rooms for tonight and rest. We’ll come to a decision by tomorrow.”
Perhaps sensing that Fiore’s thoughts were in a deadlock, Caules raised his hand and spoke up. Gordes merely said, “This isn’t an issue that I have any say in anyway,” and he left before any of the others.
Rider of Black seemed like he wanted to say something to the Forvedge siblings, but Sieg and Ruler grabbed his shoulders and forcibly pulled him out of the room.
Lastly, Archer of Black looked at the conflicted Fiore—and then looked at Caules. Caules nodded silently. Seeing that, Archer smiled in relief, and silently left the room.
And then, only the two siblings were left in the conference room.
Fiore moved her wheelchair to look at the pitch-black darkness outside the window—as if she were trying to run away.
“Now then. Nee-san, what will we do?”
That cold tone was completely unlike the normal Caules; it was the voice of a magus. Fiore replied while still facing the window.
“We must shoulder the greater risks. We—Yggdmillennia must take back the Greater Grail through any means pos—”
“I think this is a watershed moment.”
Without waiting for her to finish speaking, Caules cut in and said that.
“Watershed… what do you mean?”
“This is a turning point deciding whether you’ll become a magus or a human, Nee-chan2.”
—Those words sent a horrible chill down Fiore’s back.
“…What are you talking about?”
“Based on the movements of the Greater Grail that we heard from Ruler, the Red camp is definitely heading towards the Black Sea. I have no idea where they intend to go from there. Maybe they’ll go north or south, or maybe they’re heading somewhere specific—in any case, if we don’t catch up with them by tomorrow, the Greater Grail will fall out of all of our hands.”
“I know that.”
“Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia devoted everything for the sake of this rebellion. He put our blood, our magic power, our fortune and property, everything last thing we have on the table. If we lose here, everything will come to nothing. Even if we wait five days and win with better chances, it will all come to nothing.”
“I know that.”
“So if we want the Greater Grail, we have to leave by tomorrow.”
“Like I said, I know all that! Caules, what are you trying to say!?”
Irritated, Fiore turned around and glared at Caules—and her anger immediately vanished like mist.
Caules’ eyes were as dark as the depths of the deep sea.
“However, that is the choice of a magus.”
“…Of a magus?”
That was obvious. That was the premise behind everything. Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillennia was a magus, after all.
“The Greater Grail can’t be allowed to be used by someone evil. That’s why we have to win. For the sake of that, we’ll raise our odds of winning even the slightest bit. We have to lower the risk and increase our chances… even if it means we can’t obtain the Greater Grail.”
Caules calmly said that.
“I won’t change my mind. Yggdmillennia—”
“Who cares about Yggdmillennia? Forget the fact that you’re the head of our family too. Nee-chan, the issue here is whether or not you’ll continue to be a magus.”
Understanding the meaning of those words, Fiore turned pale and moved back from Caules. Her anger had disappeared, and in its stead, she felt fear, looking at her brother as if he had become a monster.
“…Are you telling me to stop being a magus?”
“That’s something for you to decide, Nee-chan.”
“The answer is obvious. I—”
I will continue being a magus. I must continue being a magus. After all, our parents and relatives expect that of me, and I have to unify our clan. I also have to use the Greater Grail to grant my wish to have my legs healed—
“…Do you remember that dog?”
—Fiore’s breathing halted. Memories that should have sunk to the bottom of her consciousness suddenly rose to the surface.
The peeled skin of the dog. Its cries of pain. Its black eyes that seemed to ask “Why?”—
Just remembering it made her feel like vomiting.
“…I remember. I could never forget it.”
Tightly gripping the armrests of her wheelchair, Fiore replied as if spitting out blood. She had thought about forgetting it time and time again. And each time, she had sworn not to forget and continued to endure the flashbacks.
“I see… In that case, you really aren’t suited to be a magus, Nee-chan. It would have better if you just forgot it.”
Memories of the past were important.
If it was for the sake of living as a magus, then she should hold onto them. But Fiore’s memories were merely a form of trauma that gave her no benefit. Even if it raised her chances of communicating with low-level spirits within her specialty magecraft, what good would it do? Her success was natural in the first place, and even if she failed a spell, she could think of a hundred ways of dealing with it. As someone trained thoroughly as a magus, she could reject any trivial spiritual possession just by using her Magic Circuits.
…That’s why memories had no value for her. If a memory was so sad, painful and unpleasant that it blinded her, she didn’t have any problem with forgetting it.
—Except for one. The memory of those peaceful days spent with that dog.
“There’s no way I could forget.”
Caules’ voice was calm as he asked that. Fiore forgot about resisting, and simply answered honestly.
“Because, if I forget that little one, where else would he have to go?”
In this world, the only ones who remembered that dog—were probably only herself and her brother.
If she forgot him, that dog would disappear in that instant. The certain awareness that ‘he had existed’ would disappear.
People make graves in order not to forget the dead. Each time they saw the graves, they recalled those bygone days.
Proving that ‘those people were alive in the past’ was just as important as proving ‘I’m alive in the present’.
That’s why, if she forgot that dog…
He would have nowhere to go—
“Isn’t that sentiment completely opposed to the reasoning of magi? …That’s why you’re not cut out to be a magus, Nee-chan.”
Hearing those words, Fiore stopped breathing for an instant—and then she nodded.
“…You’re right. I’m not cut out for it. I might have hesitated over it a little too much.”
She should have forgotten it. But even if she didn’t forget it, it didn’t impede her that much. She had used her talent to continue dodging the issue between her detestable sentimentality and her life as a magus.
But that was also at an end. Her childhood was long past, and she had to decide whether to take the path forward or backward now.
…She should go forward. She should continue as a magus.
That was the correct choice. That was unmistakably the logical decision.
She had made a grave for that dog. She didn’t know whether it had been worn away by the all rain and wind since then. But still, she and her brother had made a grave.
She had grieved for that dog and felt sad over his death. She didn’t have the courage to erase those feelings and call herself a magus with a calm face.
Yes, that’s right. She had no courage. Cowardly, timid, always worrying and fretting; that was her true self.
Something warm filled her heart.
She thought herself foolish and weak, not for being unable to keep moving forward, but for being unable to change the part of her that didn’t want to ever forget that dog—but even so, she didn’t regret it.
“—I can’t go forward anymore.”
“…I see. Yeah, I think that’s for the best, Nee-chan.”
She was at her limit.
Hearing Caules’ words, Fiore bent forward and began to sob.
Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillennia decided to quit. Not the Great Holy Grail War, but her life as a magus.
“…We’ll wait five days. If Rider can utilize that tome’s true power, it will decrease the risk of us getting shot down when we attack.”
“I see. Then Nee-chan, you’ll stand behind here—”
As Caules patted his chest in relief, Fiore tilted her head curiously and interrupted him.
“What are you talking about? Of course not. Naturally, I’ll also be going.”
“Huh!? Didn’t you quit!?”
“Caules, what on earth are you talking about?”
As if her tears just now were a lie, she spoke to her brother with a composed expression.
“I’ve certainly quit being Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillennia the magus. But I still have a separate duty as someone chosen as a Master in the Great Holy Grail War.”
Caules groaned. Just as she said, regardless of whether or not she was a magus now, she still had her responsibility as a Master.
Furthermore, Archer of Black was still alive and required prana.
And it wasn’t like she could give up on the Great Holy Grail War here. She had to fight, not as a magus, but because of her pride as a Master.
“You listening, Caules? I will also ride the plane. You will remain here with Gordes-ojisama. I will entrust everything to you both should the worst case scenario occur.”
“…No, I’ll go. I’ll go too. I’m the same as you. I also have a duty as a Master.”
That’s right, Caules was still a Master. Though only to a small extent, he was supplying prana for Archer of Black. But that was simply as a backup. In reality, he was merely a Master that had already dropped out of the Great Holy Grail War.
“Even though Berserker is gone?”
When Fiore asked that sadly, Caules looked straight at Fiore and responded.
“Even if Berserker is gone, even if all my Command Spells have vanished, I’m still a Master. And above all, I’m an Yggdmillennia magus. Since I bear that duty, I’ll also go.”
Fiore sucked in a surprised breath when she heard those words.
An Yggdmillennia magus—she understood what those words meant. They were a proclamation of their separation, and a kind of decisive declaration.
For a short while, the two of them fell into silence.
“……I see. You’re going that way, Caules.”
Fiore whispered in a lonely manner, and Caules shrugged calmly.
“I myself don’t care either way. But well, if Nee-chan is going over to that side, I should stay on this side.”
That wasn’t Caules’ own desire. He was merely acting in accordance with Fiore’s actions. But he had no regrets over it.
In the first place, he had always led an aimless life. He was a completely half-hearted person who didn’t care whether he was a human or a magus either way. If that could help his sister settle her own life—well, that was fine with me.
“You won’t come with me…?”
“Is there a need for me to go with you?”
Caules unhesitantly rebuked Fiore’s imploring words. It’s better like this, thought Caules. Fiore would be lonely and lament that he was no longer by her side. But it was still a parting that she would eventually recover from.
She had decided the path she would follow. There was no way to know what lay ahead of her. But she had decided.
She would lose many things—that was only natural, since she was throwing away the glory and life of a magus. Even so—Fiore wanted to follow that path.
It wasn’t about whether it was right or not. It was a decision wrapped in regret.
“…I’ll be lonely.”
“I wonder about that. We might both end up dying in five days.”
“—Yeah. Naturally, such a future is also possible.”
Perhaps because she had been absentminded, she had completely forgotten it was far more likely they wouldn’t live to see the future—and when she realized that, Fiore involuntarily laughed.
Caules also started laughing with her, and from there on, their faces twisted in mirth as they convulsed with laughter.
Wiping tears from his eyes, Caules spoke.
“It’s the final battle. Let’s make sure to go all out, Nee-chan.”
“It’s all right. I—have Archer to protect me, after all,” Fiore replied.
(1) Rods of God: the nickname for kinetic bombardment, which basically involves launching a projectile down from orbit and using the kinetic energy from the drop to deliver a devastating strike to the surface even without any explosives.
(2) Here, Caules has switched from calling Fiore “Nee-san” to “Nee-chan”, showing he is talking to her more familiarly.