Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything associated with it.
Author's Note: Welcome back, it's time to get serious again! For those who don't know, this is a sequel to my fic Fate/Zero: Heroes of Justice. I would suggest reading that first before this, or you will be very confused. Thanks like always to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter for me.
Updated Author's Explanation: This is Book 4 of a series, and as a month-long April Fool's joke/reveal, I kept that secret. For those reading after the fact, that's what's up. For those currently reading, I'm hoping you're pleasantly surprised. Books 2 and 3 are already planned and will be written up after this. Book 4 can be read independent of Books 2 and 3, although there are contextless "spoilers" throughout this fic. Please continue to enjoy the wackiness of this fic.
Fate/Heroes of Justice: Child's Play
Chapter 1: Falling Sakura Petals
Wrapped in the gentle darkness of a comfortable slumber, Shirou came to slow awareness with the soft hum of the television, an old episode of Heroic Spirits of the Holy Grail. He kept his eyes closed, nuzzling his face against the soft cushions of the couch. The sound of a turning lock, a door opening, footsteps as someone entered. It must be Shinji, coming home from work. Then, a greeting.
"Shirou," said a familiar voice. "I'm home."
"Welcome home," muttered Shirou sleepily. Something seemed different. Both he and Shinji sounded strange, but that wasn't his concern at the moment. He just needed a few more moments of sleep. The couch was comfortable.
Steps as Shinji walked across the apartment to him. "Oh, did you get tired while watching your show? Would you like to help me prepare dinner, or do you want to sleep a bit longer?"
"I can help," said Shirou sleepily. Shinji was a good cook, so he didn't need Shirou's help, but cooking together was fun. It reminded him of the times he had done so with his-, "Mom!" yelled Shirou, bolting upright into full awareness. He looked up and saw his mother, red hair and gentle smile, just like he remembered from his childhood. As his mind came to awareness, he also realized that he was physically different, once more in the body of a child instead of an adult.
"What is it?" asked his mother, reaching out and putting a hand on his head, gently petting him. "Is there something wrong?"
"How?" asked Shirou. Was this once more an illusion? A very real dream? "Are…are you Heroic Spirit?"
His mother frowned. "Like in your show?" she asked, looking over at the television. She picked up the remote and turned it off. Shirou noted that the room he in wasn't his current apartment, but the one he had spent his childhood in, before it had been destroyed. Before his mother had died… "I don't think I could ever become something like that."
Shirou stood on the couch and wrapped his tiny arms around his mother's neck, leaning in close as he fought back tears. "Of course, you could. You'd make the best Heroic Spirit. That's fact."
His mother returned the hug. "Thank you, that means a lot to hear." They stayed like that for several moments before the doorbell rang. They broke apart and his mother turned to look back at the door. "I wonder who that is?"
She started to walk over to the door, but there was a sick cracking noise as the door splintered and exploded into pieces, showering the room in front of it. Luckily, he and his mother hadn't been in the way of the blast, but in front of them the area looked like a bomb had gone off. A sickening feeling filled Shirou's chest. This all felt much too familiar. A large form, shrouded in darkness, lowered himself through the doorway of the apartment, shattering the safe boundaries of the sweet dream Shirou had woken into. His blood went cold and his heart sank.
"Berserker," he said, unable to believe the words as he said it. This couldn't be, this particular Berserker, one made from Lancelot the Knight of the Lake, had been dead for over two decades. Felled by Arturia after he'd killed Shirou's mother. But here he was again, looking once again like a figure from Shirou's nightmares. Berserker entered the room and turned to look directly at Shirou's mother. Fear filled him. "Mom! Run away before he kills you!"
"What?" asked his mother, looking over her shoulder at Shirou, then back to Berserker. Her hands balled into fists. "Who are you and what are you doing in my home?"
"We are looking for something that was stolen from us," said a new voice. A white-haired man, who looked to be in constant pain. Shirou recognized him as Shinji's uncle Kariya, a man who had been dead just as long as Shirou's mother had been. The man who had ordered her death. Kariya glared at Shirou and his mother, hatred twisting his features. "Give us Sakura now!"
"I don't know what you're talking about," replied his mother. Shirou saw her glancing around quickly, and together their eyes fell on a wooden baseball bat, still left out from the last time they had gone to the park. He knew what she would do next and was powerless to stop her as she moved quickly to grab the make-shift weapon.
Unfortunately, Berserker was much faster. A few steps away and suddenly she was lifted off the ground, choking and sputtering as Berserker held her up by her neck. She tried to free herself, but her hands clawed at his metal gauntlet to no avail. Her feet kicked wildly, one even hitting him, but did nothing but clank uselessly against his breastplate. Kariya moved to stand next to Berserker, glaring at Shirou's mother.
"If you don't tell us where you took her then we'll kill you."
"Leave her alone," yelled Shirou from the couch. He held out his hand and focused on releasing his magical circuits like he always had. Just one spell and he would blow these guys away and save his mother. But nothing happened. He could feel it as his magical circuits didn't activate. It was at that moment that he really understood what was going on. He was a child once more, before IRSS had opened his magical circuits, before Irisviel had trained him. He was powerless.
Kariya turned his gaze to Shirou, his eyes narrowing as he took notice of him. "Kid! Where did you hide Sakura? I know she's in here, now give her to me!"
"Sakura's not here," replied Shirou. He felt anger growing inside of him. "And even if she was, I would never hand her over to a monster like you!"
"A monster?" asked Kariya. "You call me a monster? No, I'm no monster, I'm a savior. I'm the one who is going to save Sakura from her fate. That's why I became the Matou Master in this Holy Grail War. That's why I accepted the burden of controlling this beast."
Kariya's eyes widened and his fists clenched as madness covered his expression. "I was supposed to be the one to reunite her with Rin and Aoi. To save her from Zouken. But someone else beat me to it. They killed Zouken and took Sakura. A child took her. Was it you boy? I was told to look in this apartment, and now, I find a boy, of the right size. It's clearly you who is the culprit."
Shirou realized that this man was beyond reason. He was as mad as his Berserker. His mother had gone limp in Berserker's grip, her struggling ceased. Noticing this, Berserker threw Shirou's mother across the room at him. The body struck him, bowling him over and carrying them both to the opposite side of the room where they struck the television stand.
Looking up from underneath the unconscious body of his mother he saw Kariya scowling at him. "Berserker, kill them and then search the house for Sakura." A darkened sword appeared in the black knight's hand and in several quick strikes he reduced the couch separating them into tiny shreds. He walked slowly over the remains, his sword dragging against the floor behind him and digging a furrow into the wood.
"Come on," muttered Shirou, struggling to stand. His mother was too heavy for his small body to lift. He would need a magical power boost. He focused once more on activating his magical circuits, to give himself a burst of strength or to create a weapon. Anything. He attempted to flip the switch in his mind, but nothing happened. "Come on…"
Berserker stopped a few steps away from them and drew his sword up so that it was perpendicular to the floor and held it tightly in both hands. Shirou focused on his magical circuits again. This time he thought he felt something, but still nothing happened. "Almost…" Again, same result. "Please…just let me be able to do this…I won't let her die yet again. Not a third time…"
With a whoosh of air Berserker's blade came down towards them, ready to cleave him and his mother in half in one strike. Time seemed to slow for Shirou, the blade moving as if through water. But even in this slowed down state, he was still powerless. He tried his circuits again and nothing. Frustration boiled inside of him and he yelled into the room. "Someone, help us!"
It was at that moment that he felt the switch to his circuits finally click on. More power than his child form should have had access to flooded him. Instead of being directed to a mana burst or creating a weapon though, the mana went into the ground and a red ritual circle surrounded them. There was a flash and time once again asserted itself. Berserker's sword sped up and Shirou expected to die at any moment. He was surprised as something red imposed itself between Shirou and Berserker. There was the sound of metal clashing and grinding against each other and Shirou realized that there was a person there, blocking Berserker's attacks.
"Who are you?!" screamed Kariya, his eyes going wide.
"Raaaahhhh!" yelled Berserker, trying to crush the newcomer. Half buried, Shirou was having a hard time making out concrete details, but he did see crossed underneath Berserker's blades were two twin teardrop shaped short swords, one black and the other white, like Ying and Yang. The red figure twisted and brought Berserker's blade downward, burying it into the ground to the side of them.
They didn't hesitate to launch a counter attack, bringing their twin blades around and sending a flurry of blows into Berserker's armor. Amazingly, with each blow Berserker was pushed back until he was right in front of Kariya. It had taken only a matter of moments. Berserker finally managed to recover and swept his blade through the air, but the red figure just managed to backflip gracefully out of the way, leaving them right in front of Shirou.
"Are you okay Master?" asked the red figure, not turning away from her foe and Shirou finally registered that they were a young girl with pink hair. She was wearing thin black body armor, a red shirt covering her arms and the upper part of her torso, a hood hanging down the back. A long red hip cloth currently rested against her, falling halfway down her lower legs which were covered by long black pants that seemed to be strapped into place with gray belts at odd intervals.
"Who are you?" asked Shirou, trying to process everything that was happening.
"I'm the Archer Class Servant you summoned, of course," said the girl good naturedly. From her height and how she sounded, Shirou figured that she couldn't be older than twelve. She looked over her shoulder at him, a smile on her face. "Are you slow or something-," her smile fell, and surprise covered her face instead. She swiveled around completely, ignoring Berserker, and her jaw dropped. "I-I can't believe it. Big Brother?"
Shirou stared into the girl's pink eyes and struggled to figure out why she looked so familiar. There was earnestness there and he had a memory of a young girl, this one with white hair and red eyes, looking up at him and calling him Big Brother while they ate ice cream on a park bench. "Illya?"
That word had apparently been the wrong one to say as the girl's face darkened in disapproval instantly. She frowned. "Oh, calling her name first again…"
Shirou saw a blur of motion and realized that Berserker wasn't waiting for them to finish their conversation. "Look out!" he shouted, drawing the girl's attention back to the situation at hand. She turned quickly and her swords transformed, forming together into a bow and arrow. She pulled back on the string and fired at Berserker at point blank range, a deafening explosion filling the air. Berserker was blasted out of the apartment, the wall crumbling as he passed through it. The apartment around the impact was scorched, nearby furniture wrecked from the blast. Shirou and his mother were unharmed, protected by the mysterious Archer.
"Thanks for the warning," said the girl, her tone still stony. She gave out a heavy sigh. "Of course, it couldn't be that easy. And there's no good place to really use my bow while protecting you, is there?"
Shirou saw that past Archer Berserker was standing, looking uninjured. The Black Knight let out a growl and moved to get back into the apartment but Shirou wasn't going to let him. "Get him out of here and away from any people!"
"Understood Master," said Archer, leaping into action. "And the name is Chloe von Einzbern, don't forget it!" Her twin blades appeared in her hands once more and she threw them at her enemy. Berserker dodged to the side, halting in his advance slightly as he did. Shirou blinked and Archer was gone from her spot in front of him and was suddenly behind Berserker, her body coming out from her black sword. As she reformed, she plucked her white sword from the air and slashed at Berserker's back. He started to turn to face this new threat, but Chloe leapt off air that Shirou could see hardened underneath her feet and backflipped so that she was crouched behind him once again, both swords in hand. Energy swirled around her as she let out a mighty cry and tackled Berserker once more out of the apartment. Their momentum carried them off the balcony and the pair toppled over the rail to plummet towards the ground.
Shirou trusted that the new Servant he was apparently commanding could handle a fall like that and he focused on getting free from beneath his mother. He activated his magical circuits once more and found them still working. He wasn't as good at the spell as Illya, but he was proficient enough to be able to give himself a burst of strength and crawl his way from underneath his mother. Once he had he scrambled to check her pulse and found it steady. As he did, he also noticed a Command seal on his hand, a closed flower bud. He was once again a Master of a Servant.
"How?" yelled Kariya, drawing Shirou's attention back to him. He was limping slowly over to them, veins pulsing angrily on his face. "How could you summon a Servant when they have all already been summoned?"
"Rules don't mean much in a Holy Grail War," replied Shirou. He gently plucked a strand of hair from his mother's head before standing and facing the man. He probably didn't look very intimidating as a child, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from protecting his mother. Never again.
He held out his hand parallel to the ground and activated a familiar spell. Like he'd hoped, the ground next to him rippled and distorted. A wooden bow rose out of the ground, leaving an indent from where the mass had been siphoned. A burst of mana through his mother's hair strand and it left his hand, elongating and becoming the bowstring of his new weapon. He grabbed it out of the air and held it tightly. Then, holding out his other hand he did a similar spell, drawing a wooden arrow out of the ground, the tip and fletching constructed from wood as well. He drew the weapon back like he had done thousands of times in Archery club and on the battlefield and pointed it at Kariya.
"Sakura isn't here," said Shirou once more. "I wouldn't give her over to you even if she was. Call off Berserker and leave before I need to hurt you."
"I won't let anything stop me in rescuing Sakura and making Rin and Aoi happy," yelled Kariya, holding out his hand. Mana flowed around him, and insects started to crawling out of his hand and arm. Little rivulets of blood came out with them, but he didn't seem to notice. As the insects met the air, they spread out wings and seemed to grow. In a matter of seconds, he was surrounded by a cloud of insects, much more than should have been able to fit inside of him.
"This won't make them happy," replied Shirou, frowning. "Rin and her mother would never want Sakura back like this. Not if it meant hurting other people. Separating other families."
"Don't talk about people you know nothing off!"
"I know them much better than you ever will!" yelled Shirou. "Rin is my best friend and the leader I've sworn an oath to. You would destroy them if you did this. Now stop!"
"Never!" yelled Kariya. The insects reacted to his anger and started to fly towards Shirou.
Shirou didn't know yet if he had his full mana reserves yet, but that didn't matter. His mother was behind him, alive for now, and he would use everything he had to keep her that way. He sent a flow of mana into his weapon and it started to glow with a white light. He released the arrow and it flew, hitting the lead insects after a few feet. There was a flash of light a dozen insects were vaporized. But it wasn't enough. He felt drained, but he knew that he should be able to do more. The insects were still coming towards them and he was already breathing heavily. He created another arrow and quickly loaded it, charging it up as he did so. He fired a second time, another dozen insects destroyed with the attack.
It wasn't enough. He could tell that there had been near a hundred insects summoned and he was barely anywhere near destroying all of them. He needed more. He needed his old power. His breathing had turned to gasps, but he knew he couldn't stop. The insects were continuing their approach, so he created another arrow from the floor and filled it with his mana.
This one was different though. A blue glow radiated off the arrow and the flow of mana from him to it felt different, easier. His breathing evened out and his muscles relaxed. This was a familiar feeling, one he'd had for over a decade. He knew that with this power everything would be fine. Not hesitating, Shirou released the arrow, a blue explosion sweeping through the insects, destroying every last one and leaving nothing between him and Kariya. His foe looked shocked at what had just happened, his jaw slack.
"How?" asked Kariya. "How could a child like you have a magical crest? Which family's is that? Who are you?"
"I-," said Shirou, feeling exhaustion creeping over him once more. This body wasn't used to the pressure of maintaining a magical crest. Even if the crest had more power in it, there was a limit to how much his body could bear. "I am Shirou Manjome. Heir to the Einzbern family and Justice Orange of the Justice Rangers. Regardless of your reasons, I will not let you hurt my family or friends ever again."
"You don't need to worry about that," said a new voice from behind Kariya. It was a young girl's voice but spoke like that of an adult. Shirou and Kariya both looked, and their eyes widened at who stood there. "Justice Purple will take it from here."
"Sakura?" asked Kariya. He took a step towards her, but she brushed past him, stopping next to Shirou. She once again had dark black hair that had a purple sheen to match the color of her eyes. It was a coloration that she hadn't had for over a decade, but it was just like how he remembered first meeting her. Sakura put a hand on his shoulder, and he felt her healing magecraft curing his exhaustion, his muscles stopping their aching and his breathing evening out.
"Better?" she asked. He nodded. She then knelt next to Shirou's mother and used her magecraft on her as well. "She should be stable now. From my experience, it will take a while for your young body to get used to your adult mana, so don't push it too much right now."
"So, you're the Sakura from my time, correct?" asked Shirou, keeping one eye on Kariya as he talked. The man's eyes were fixed on Sakura and his mouth moved through the motions of speaking soundless words. "What's happening to us?"
Sakura stood and shook her head. "I don't know. I came back to this time a little over a day ago." Her expression became dark. "I found myself being led into the worm pit. As I was being led down, I managed to activate a Servant summoning somehow. Medusa saved me and we've been in hiding ever since."
"Sakura," said Kariya, drawing their attention back to him. He started taking unsteady steps towards them. "Is that really you Sakura? You were taken the other day by Zouken's killer. I was worried that you would be killed as well. He deserved it, but I'm glad to see that you're unharmed."
"I'm sorry Uncle Kariya," said Sakura, holding her hand out before her. Mana started to swirl around her as she channeled it into a spell. "You don't deserve any of this. I don't think you even know what you're doing any more. This was for me, but I just can't find that I appreciate any of what you've done, since it's only hurt my friends and family. Maybe, maybe this time you can find a better ending."
Kariya frowned, looking confused. "What are you talking about Sakura? Now, come with me and I will return you to your mother and sister. They'll be overjoyed to see you again. You can be a family again. We can be a family."
"Please, find some peace in this," said Sakura right as she released her spell. A massive wave of mana, concentrated into a healing form, washed over Kariya. He let out a scream of unearthly pain as brown steam hissed out of his pores. He fell to his knees, screaming for almost a minute as Sakura kept the spell going. The steam stopped and so did his screaming. His eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed to the ground, unconscious. Sakura released the spell, breathing heavily.
"Are you okay?" asked Shirou. She nodded. "What did you do to him?"
"Uncle Kariya was infected by Zouken's worms, just like I was as a child. I cured him of them." She frowned. "It probably wasn't very pleasant, but hopefully it undoes most of the damage they did to him. Or at least halts his deterioration. I know he killed your mother before, but…"
Shirou put a hand on her shoulder and flash her a gentle smile. "But he's family. I understand. I came to terms many years ago that the whole thing was an unfortunate accident, one done to save you. One that definitely wasn't your fault."
She returned his smile. "Thank you."
Something occurred to Shirou and he glanced worriedly out the busted wall of his home. "Wait, Chloe was fighting Berserker. We need to go help her."
"Don't worry," replied Sakura. "We probably wouldn't be too much help in this state, but I already sent Medusa to go assist her. She's in good hands."
Chloe ducked under a sword strike from the Berserker she was fighting and tried to get in close enough to hit him. Unfortunately, his reach was much longer than hers, and his armor much tougher. Plus, as the fight went on, he seemed to be learning and adapting, more like a proper swordsman than the Berserker he was supposed to be. She didn't know who this black knight was, she just had the strange sense that he was the type of person to sleep with his superiors' wife and trigger the collapse of his nation. It wasn't unusual for her to get empathetic bursts from those around her, it was a minor magical talent she had and made dealing with others, in battle and outside of it, much easier. Right now, every action Berserker made was accompanied by a complex burst of emotions. She was unable to properly parse through everything, so she didn't, instead just using the bursts as a sense of when he was going to act.
Their battle had ended up in a mostly empty parking lot, a street lamp flickering sporadically. It had taken all she'd had to push Berserker this far and she was tiring out trying to keep him here. Every time she made a move that took her from in front of him, he ignored attacking her and attempted to head back to the apartment. She couldn't allow that though. Regardless of if he knew of her or not, that was still clearly her big brother there, and she would do whatever she needed to keep him safe.
Berserker charged once more, trying to break past her and she leapt over him, guessing correctly that he would adapt to all the ducking she had done and swung low to try to catch the inevitable duck that never came. That took him off balance for a fraction of a second, which she took to strike at his back. His armor held up, but the blows brought him to his knees. She was not prepared as, instead of trying to get up and attack her, Berserker did an awkward runner's start, heading towards the apartment.
Chloe swore, running after him. Since they were in the middle of a city, she couldn't use her bow to try to take Berserker down. Any attack powerful enough to do so would also level at least a city block, and even in an empty parking lot, she was likely to hit something she shouldn't. Which is why she ran, desperately trying to catch up and know that he had too much of a head start on her. Even if she was only a second behind him, that would be too much time.
Berserker was only a hundred feet from the base of the apartment when a dark form appeared from nowhere. The form tackled Berserker with impressive force, knocking him back towards Chloe. She had a fraction of a second to dodge to the side before Berserker flew past her, stopping only when he hit a car, crumpling it. The dark form leapt to Chloe's side and she realized it was a girl, younger looking than her, wrapped up in a dark cloak. From inside the hood she made out piercing purple eyes that looked like they were almost made of crystal. It took Chloe a moment to notice that she was also wielding a scythe that was longer than she was, an equally long chain hanging off the end.
"I am here to assist you," said the new girl. "I am Lancer."
"Archer," replied Chloe, holding out a hand. Lancer did not take it. A stiff one. Chloe could sense that she was all business, focused on defeating Berserker. Although, there was also something else there, concern for a specific person and longing to return to their side. It was all very human, and that made her like the new Servant instantly. She put her hand down. "I'll ask questions later, I guess. Got anything that can pierce that armor?"
Berserker stood up from the car wreckage, giving an audible growl. Lancer studied him as he did. "One way. But I want to save it, as it will drain me almost completely in this state. This Scythe, is less effective against an enemy like this, since he is not divine or a Beast."
Chloe whistled. "Sounds like you've got a god killer there." She glanced at Berserker and pulled out her swords. "We need to figure out something quick though, we can't let him get to that apartment."
"Never," replied Lancer, readying her own weapon. "Do you not have a bow to use?"
"I do, it'd just cause too much damage if used here."
Berserker charged, sweeping at them with his large sword. Chloe leapt over the attack while Lancer just blocked with her Scythe, taking the powerful attack without moving any. Chloe struck at the Black Knight's back with both of her swords, finally managing to cause a crack in the tough armor. She only had a moment to savor the victory until with a mighty yell Berserker's blade glowed blue, the miasma around it fading away for a moment and revealing the sword underneath. Chloe had an eye for swords, and she could tell that this was a powerful sword. That fact was proven as the weapon broke through Lancer's defense and cut her in half.
Not even waiting for the halves to slowly fall to the ground, Berserker charged forward once more. Chloe was knocked back, landing on her feet in a crouch. She prepared to give chase again, but Berserker was knocked off balance by a chain wrapping around him and pulling taut. Lancer was now to the side of Berserker, her cloak laying in pieces next to her. She was a little girl with long braided purple hair, wearing sleeveless leather armor covering her chest and ending in an armored skirt. She was wearing sandals, leather armor strapped to her thighs and covering her legs from knee to ankle. On one arm she wore a leather bracer, while the other was left bare.
"Prepare your bow," yelled Lancer. She tugged hard on her scythe, miraculously actually pulling Berserker off his feet. Chloe jumped back as Lancer started to twirl around, Berserker being pulled along into the spin. Round and round they went, surprising strength in her tiny body.
Chloe summoned her bow, quickly crafting a sword and twisting it into an arrow. Lancer stopped her spin and flicked her wrist. The chain released Berserker, sending him spinning end over end into the air. He flew up above the buildings of the city, and Chloe took aim. She focused in on the crack in Berserker's armor she had made before. She had one shot at this, and everything needed to be perfect.
"Single Hawk Shot!" She released the arrow right before Berserker reached the apex of his ascent. The arrow struck the crack perfectly, just like she'd planned. There was a large pink explosion on impact, engulfing Berserker completely. She pumped her fist. "Got him!"
"A job well done," said Lancer, glancing up. Chloe looked as well and saw Berserker falling, his body breaking apart into golden motes of light. He hit the ground, and instead of causing an impact, his body broke apart completely.
Chloe held up two fingers in a peace sign and flashed a smile at Lancer. "Piece of cake."
Lancer finally let out a small smile. "I guess. We had better return to our Masters now."
"Oh no," muttered Chloe, paling. "I forgot about him. We need to hurry before that creepy guy hurts him."
"No need, my Master has everything under control." Lancer held up a hand, stopping Chloe before she asked another question. "Hold until we get to them. Then you can ask questions to your heart's content."
"Whatev's," said Chloe, stretching her arms above her head. "I wonder if little Big Brother will praise me for beating this guy?"
Lancer gave her a strange look, and Chloe felt a sense of sympathy and fond nostalgia coming off her. Something about what she had said had clearly resonated with the little Servant, but before she could ask about it, Lancer was leaping away, back up to the trashed apartment. Full of questions, she followed, easily leaping the distance.
She landed on the walkway through the hole she had made knocking Berserker off, and saw her new companions exchanging greetings. Lancer and a new girl, dark black hair with a purple sheen, were exchanging a hug. She felt affection coming off the two girls, a comfortable one that she often felt between her parents. The little orange haired boy who was both clearly her Master and Shirou Emiya was watching with an amused smile. He was obviously used to this, it was comforting and familiar, and there was a sense of pride in him. Such raw, honest emotions, someone able to be happy in two people finding each other, this was clearly her big brother. Likely not the same big brother, but still him regardless. The creepy man was on the floor, although he seemed…fresher, somehow. He was also unconscious. Also on the floor was the woman who Shirou had been buried under, and he bore a striking resemblance to her. A relative from before he had ended up in the Einzbern family? She was unconscious but seemed otherwise unharmed. That was good.
Shirou noticed her and waved her over. "Welcome back Archer," he said. "Good work."
Chloe puffed out her chest in pride. "Of course. I'm a top tier Archer and your Servant after all, there's nothing I can't handle. Can we please avoid city battles from now on though? That really hampers me."
A laugh. "I don't think I've ever been that lucky, but we'll try." He pointed to the other girl and Lancer. "These are my comrades, Medusa and Sakura Tohsaka. And I guess I'm your Master, Shirou Manjome. Nice to meet you."
"Manjome?" asked Chloe. "Not Emiya?"
A frown, a sense of minor sadness and some confusion. "No, I kept my family name when I was adopted by Irisviel and Arturia. Illya took on the Emiya name, to honor her late father."
Now it was Chloe's turn to frown. "Late father? Dad died?"
"In the fourth Holy Grail War. He was dying from a fatal wound and gave his life to save Arturia."
Chloe thought about that for a moment. "In my world, the fourth Holy Grail War was prevented from ever starting. Mama and Papa sealed everything related to it and gave us a normal life."
"And adopted me?" asked Shirou, clearly thinking through the series of events. Chloe got the sense that he had dealt with other universes and timelines before. Much more experience than a child his age should have, which she could relate to. Her own being was linked to the Holy Grail, and that came with a level of knowledge she was too young to even fully fathom. Plus, everything else she had experienced…
"Yep. Although, I was young at the time and not fully aware of the circumstances, for…reasons…" admitted Chloe. "But in the world I'm from you're my big brother."
The girl with Lancer, Sakura, walked over, studying Chloe. "And who are you?"
Chloe flashed her a peace sign. "Archer Class Servant, True Name Chloe von Einzbern. Nice to meet you. You look a lot like the Sakura I know, although, her name is Sakura Matou, not Tohsaka."
Sakura's face darkened and Chloe could tell that she'd hit a nerve. Medusa was the one to speak. "That is also a long story. We might want to focus more on the current moment. Why are we here and how are we here?"
Shirou nodded in agreement. "Yeah, why are we children currently?"
"Are you not usually?" asked Chloe.
"I don' know about you," said Sakura. "But we're in our thirties."
"And this seems to be our childhood," said Shirou. "But it's also different."
Sakura nodded. "I agree. There was something wrong with Uncle Kariya and Berserker. They weren't the most stable pair in the original timeline, but they weren't like this. I felt some strange magic on them, a type of madness enhancement affecting both of them. Something strange is going on."
Shirou considered something for a moment. "I wonder if the others are here as well?"
"Others?" asked Chloe, feeling left out of the conversation.
"My sister, Rin," said Sakura. "Plus, if Medusa is here, then maybe Mordred is here as well?"
"Or what about Illya?" asked Shirou. "Or Shinji?"
"Illya and Shinji were both overseas during this period of time, correct?"
Shirou nodded. "Yep. Illya was in Germany, where we found her. Shinji was traveling around with his father and only returned at the end of the War."
"So then finding them seems unlikely," concluded Medusa. "Even if they are here, which we cannot know for sure, then finding them will take too much time."
Chloe felt it as Sakura came to some sort of conclusion. "Then we find Rin. We know that she's in town, and where she must be. She was staying with our grandparents at this time, so that's where we can find her."
Shirou gestured to the two unconscious adults. "We can't just leave them."
Sakura shook her head. "I'm unable to lift the madness off Uncle. As soon as he wakes, he'll likely continue single-mindedly following the same course of action." She walked over and knelt by him, putting a hand on his forehead. She cast a quick spell, before turning back to everyone. She didn't feel like she was happy with what she had just done, but Chloe also felt a sense of resolve. "I have put Uncle in a magical coma. He will be fine until we can lift the madness on him."
"Are you sure?" asked Shirou, concerned.
A nod. "I am. The last thing either him or I want is for him to hurt someone else. This is for the best."
"I understand," replied Shirou. "Can we do something different for my mother though?"
"I cannot carry her like this," said Medusa. "I am strong enough, but it is awkward carrying an adult in this small body."
Shirou considered that. "Could we make a stretcher or something?"
Chloe stepped forward at that, waving a hand. "Ooh! I've got this!" She took out her two swords and concentrated on them. They fused together and elongated into the frame of a stretcher, which she laid on the ground. "Now we just need some blankets and we're in business."
"Good work Chloe!" complimented Shirou. It wasn't a head pat, but she'd take it. She had no clue what was going on, but she had a good feeling about this summoning. Things were about to get exciting.
Author's Note: So…what the heck is even happening here anymore?