Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything associated with it.
Thanks like always to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter for me.
Author's Note: When your D&D party are all eight-years old…
WARNING: This chapter contains spoilers for Fate/Grand Order's Camelot Singularity. If you care about that, please play or watch that first, then this.
Fate/Heroes of Justice: Child's Play
Chapter 3: Among the Branches
Illya held onto a handle in the Llamrei Mark III, her heart beating in excitement. There was a lot of uncertainty in their current situation, such as why or how they were where they were, but it was moments like this that she lived for. Heracles dashed through the snowy streets of Fuyuki, moving faster than any car. This was demonstrated quite handily as he sped past a car, the confused driver looking out as Illya and Chloe waved at him. When the Archer noticed that Illya was doing the same thing, she stopped, going back to being sulky in her spot in the sleigh.
Rin had made sure introductions were done quickly and efficiently. Most of the group knew each other already, there had just been the quick need to verify that everyone, but Heracles and Chloe, were from the same future. Then, once that had been sorted out, they had introduced themselves to the two new Servants. As he had been focusing on getting them to the center of the city, Illya had introduced Heracles for him. She had already told him all about everyone else on the long flight to Japan from Germany, so he had a good idea who they were.
She had been very surprised though when Shirou had introduced his new Archer as Chloe von Einzbern. Chloe had given them a quick explanation, that she was from an alternate reality where the Fourth Grail War had never happened and that through some means she had split off from Illya, making them twins in a sense. Illya knew there was more to the story than that, like how Chloe was also somehow a powerful Servant at a child's age. An age that seemed to be her actual age, unlike everyone from the future.
It was all confusing and complicated, so Illya focused on what was important. Chloe didn't like her much. She wasn't sure if anyone else noticed, but the young girl refused to be anywhere near to Illya and spent most of their sleigh ride glaring daggers at her. If looks could kill, Illya would be a pincushion by that point. She had no idea why the girl might feel that way, and she knew she didn't have the time needed to sort through why.
The sleigh swerved suddenly as Heracles moved to avoid and incoming car that was trying to head out of the city as fast as it could. Illya didn't blame them as she heard shattering glass and concrete. A thick fog had spread throughout the city, blocking the view of the creature and making travel through the city more treacherous. Her stomach fell at the thought of the destruction, and the death, that were probably being caused. But that's why they were here. This was clearly a job for the Justice Rangers.
"So," said Illya, focusing back to her fellow Rangers. "What's the plan?"
"To take note, I'm only at maybe twenty-five percent of my power, is everyone else the same?" asked Rin.
Illya nodded. Her arms glowed amber with her magical crest, although not as strongly as they should. "Yeah. I spent several hours meditating on the way here, but this was all I could manage."
"Same," replied Sakura.
"Yep," agreed Shirou. "That will make it difficult for us to do anything in a battle against Servants. We'll be more liabilities than anything else. Especially considering the non-magical abilities of these bodies."
Rin nodded. "And that's why we'll stay in the back. Let the Servants do the dangerous work and support them as strategically as possible. Maybe do some rescues in areas we can if possible but stay out of trouble."
"It'll make it hard to save anyone if we die," said Sakura. She tightened her grip on Medusa's hand. "And I don't plan to die here regardless. I want to go back home."
Illya saw her brother clench his fist, staring at it for a moment. "Same." Then, he looked around and smiled at Chloe. "So, I'll be counting on you again, okay?"
"Of course," said Chloe brightly. Illya couldn't help but be reminded of herself as a teenager, switching from being moody to bright and cheery depending on who she was talking to. She'd had a lot of issues to work through. Pent up frustration against people who hadn't deserved it and had put up with her regardless. The girl resembled her in so many ways, both physical and personality wise. Illya vowed to be as patient with Chloe as Arturia had been with her, it was only fair.
Heracles turned a corner and the Justice Rangers burst through another layer of fog. They finally had a clear view of the monster that was tearing through the city. Taller than any of the skyscrapers around it, with massive writhing tentacles that swept up from below the monster, partially holding it off the ground. The tentacles were still long enough to reach out and smash the surrounding area to pieces. As a tentacle headed towards a building, Illya realized that there were still people on the street trying to escape.
"Chloe!" said Shirou, pointing. "Cover those people."
"On it," said Chloe, jumping out of the sleigh while it was still moving. She hit the ground running, creating a bow as she did so and pulling back the arrow. Taking careful aim, she hit the tentacle dead on. The blow wasn't enough to destroy the tentacle, but it did divert it enough so that it missed the building, tumbling down slowly to hit an empty road, trashing it. Chloe landed next to the people and started helping them up and ushering them away.
The tentacle didn't halt on the ground though. It started to move towards Chloe, trying to go through the building. It started to dig into the foundations, shaking it. There was a purple blur as Medusa had quickly followed Chloe and jumped over the tentacle. As she did, she twisted around and materialized a large scythe. She attacked the tentacle, digging the blade of the scythe into it. The head and body of the scythe separated, a chain sliding out and keeping the two connected. The chain dug into the top part of the tentacle as Medusa landed on the other side and pulled. There was a large fountain of blood as the scythe dug into the tentacle and ground it to a halt.
"Mordred!" ordered Rin. "Restrain that thing's movements."
The tiny Caster held up his candy cane, an excited smile on his face. "Right! Let's see what this form can do. Wreathes of Holly!" His spell activated, three large bands of light appearing and circling over the monster's head. The light transformed, turning into massive holly wreathes that slid down the body of the beast, tightening and inhibiting its movements. One wreath was hovering just above the ground while the second was a little over two-thirds of the way down the body of the monster. Due to how the tentacles protruded from the bottom of the beast this meant that the tentacles that had been stretched out were drawn back in towards the main body, severely limiting how much they could extend outward. The third was about half way down from the top and wasn't restraining much except for a few tiny wriggling tentacles that didn't extend that far, but it was definitely making the thing very uncomfortable.
Illya decided it was her turn to act as well. "Heracles!" she said, drawing his attention as he raced in an arc around the creature. "Halt the sleigh and assist Chloe in evacuating people from the area."
"Understood," he replied, reaching around his waist while still running and untying the sleigh reigns. Untethered, he started to outpace the sleigh for a moment before quickly turning around, planting his feet into the road and reaching out to the sleigh. His sandaled feet slid against the road as the sleigh continued moving forward and pushing him with it. In a surprisingly gently process, Heracles brought the sleigh to a halt within seconds. The road was torn up behind them, but Illya figured that that was an acceptable price to pay for stopping a monster who was doing the same on a greater scale.
"Thank you," said Illya.
Heracles bowed. "You're welcome, Master. I will be off now." Without saying another word, he did a powerful leap away, making it to the second floor of a building to rescue someone who was trapped underneath a filing cabinet.
Illya turned to her comrades. "Now what? Do we just keep our Servants on rescue while Mordred holds that thing?"
"I'm not sure yet," said Rin, considering. "We don't know what that is, how it appeared or what it can even do yet. We should operate on the assumption that it can do more than we think it can."
"Which means getting everyone as far away from this area as quickly as possible before engaging," concluded Sakura. "Anything else will get people mixed up."
"Agreed," said Rin. She glanced over to her Servant. "Mordred, how long can you hold that thing?"
"As long as I need to," said Mordred, grimacing. "I'm not letting this bastard take another slithering step anywhere. I'm not sure how much else I can do while holding it though. Likely just a spell to buff everyone in our group, but nothing more active than that."
Rin nodded. "Okay, we'll save that until we start engaging."
Shirou glanced over the monster. "The fog makes it hard to tell, but I'm not seeing any obvious weak points. Do we have any Noble Phantasms able to cut through that thing's hide? How tough is it anyways?"
Illya considered that question quickly, glancing over to where Medusa had released the tentacle and was carefully cutting out the crushed door of a car to rescue the people inside. She then glanced to the tentacle that Mordred's wreathes had pulled back and saw that the damage done by the scythe had healed completely, leaving not even a scratch. "This monster can heal. I wasn't watching how fast, but we should assume that repeated weak strikes won't be able to do much. Medusa's scythe didn't dig in too deep either, which makes me think that it's super tough."
"What's that leave us with then?" asked Shirou, frowning. "I know that Chloe can fire a powerful arrow strike, but she's already done so once today. I'm not sure how many times she can do it again. Want me to have her try?"
"Maybe," said Rin, considering. "Mordred, do you know your Noble Phantasm's name?"
"Not a fucking clue," replied Mordred Instantly, grimacing and holding his candy cane staff tighter. It glowed, increasing the tightness of the wreathes as the monster tried to break out of them. "And I don't think I'll be able to figure it out while doing this. I'm also guessing low odds that it's anything offensive based, considering my current theme."
Rin sighed. "That's what I was worried you'd say." She glanced at Sakura. "Medusa still has her eyes, correct?"
Sakura nodded. "She does. We could try to petrify it, but it might be too large. And I want to keep that as a last resort, if possible. It's area of effect tends to stretch past where it's used, so we would need to be very careful how we angled it."
"Agreed." Now it was time for Rin to look to Illya. "You've got an unfamiliar Servant; do you know what he can do?"
Illya shook her head. "Not sure. His myth is so varied it could be anything really. I could think of a few possibilities. If nothing else, he's talented at killing monsters, so he should be useful somehow."
An otherworldly scream of fury radiated out from the monster, causing everyone to grimace in pain. All the windows in the area shattered, raining glass down around them. Shirou scowled. "We need to do something soon. This is only going to get worse if we wait.
"Then what is your command?" asked Chloe, rejoining them. Next to her was Medusa and Heracles. Once the group's attention was on her, she gave them a sloppy salute, smiling. "Archer reporting for duty. All civilians have been evacuated from the nearby area."
"Good work," complimented Shirou. "I was wondering, do you think your Noble Phantasm could kill that thing?"
Chloe considered for a moment. "I think so. But more than one shot would be tough. No real way to know without trying though."
Rin groaned. "I don't like those odds."
"Heracles?" asked Illya, looking at her Servant. "What about you?"
"This is my Noble Phantasm," he replied. He held out his hands and a bow appeared in one, with a quiver in the other. In the quiver rested three finely crafted arrows. "These arrows are dipped in hydra blood. Each arrow is able to kill a mortal being upon contact, or render an immortal being mortal. I do not know what manner of creature this is, but if it can die, these can kill it."
"And you only have three?" asked Rin.
Heracles nodded. "Indeed. So, we would need to be careful in their use."
"How about we have Chloe strike first," said Shirou, "and go from there?"
"Hurry up!" said Mordred, sweat running down his brow. His tiny form shook as his staff glowed brightly. The monster let out another scream and its tentacles pulsed violently. The wreathes strained, looking ready to break at any moment.
Illya couldn't wait any longer. She turned to Heracles. "Shoot it."
Before he could respond, Chloe was leaping forward, pulling out her bow as she did. She landed in a solid stance and aimed at the heart of the creature. "Don't worry," she said. "I've got this. Single Hawk shot!"
A powerful pink light shot from Chloe's bow up to the creature. It struck the monster's chest and burst through it, disintegrating large chunks of flesh. The air smelled of burnt seafood as the monster sagged forward, a large hole in its chest.
Chloe pumped her fist in triumph. "Down in one! I'm two for two tonight."
"No," said Medusa solemnly. She pointed up to the hole. "Look again. The damage is healing, and there is something moving in there."
"What?" asked Chloe, squinting for a moment. Her eyes went wide. "There's a Servant inside of there!"
Chloe loaded another arrow, but before she could fire the monster pulsated and the wreathes finally broke, causing a shockwave of magical energy. The Master's were all knocked off their feet, with the Servants teetering slightly. Chloe fired, her aim thrown off, and the shot went wide, just missing a building and going off into the fog shrouded night. All of the tentacles gathered together and then crashed down towards the Justice Rangers. Illya knew that there wasn't enough time to escape, the tentacles were covering too wide of an area, so she braced herself for the impact.
But the impact never came. There was a shout and then a purple figure leapt in front of the Rangers. Another shout as the newcomer shouted something, massive amounts of magical energy gathering around them. "Lord Camelot!"
Illya watched in amazed surprise as a massive barrier of blue light sprung up between the newcomer and the tentacles. The tentacles struck the barrier and were repelled completely, being knocked backwards or safely to the sides.
The tentacles deflected, the newcomer lowered the large cross shaped shield Illya realized that she was holding. A young woman, maybe in her early twenties, turned to face them, a worried look on her face. "Is everyone safe?" While she talked, Illya noticed that the barrier still stood between them and the flailing tentacles.
Illya nodded. The woman let out a sigh of relief, a small smile on her face. "That's good. I was worried I wasn't going to make it in time."
The young woman was strange, and that was saying something based on the people just in Illya's immediate family and not everyone she knew. She had short lavender hair and similar colored eyes. In her hand, carried easily, was a shield taller than she was, and at her hip a simple sword. She was covered in full plate armor: flat footed metal greaves, standard curved breastplate and metal gauntlets. The only exposed skin she had were her shoulders and her head. She had a purple hip cloth at her waist, longer on one side than the other. Around her shoulders was a flowing dark purple cape, a hood hanging down currently. She was also clearly a Heroic Spirit.
"Mash!" yelled someone, running up from behind them and to the newcomer's side. This person was wearing black combat boots, dark grey pants, and a black shirt which was tightened with grey belts around their waist, and across his chest and shoulders. It looked to be a powerful defensive type mystic code, not something a regular person, or even a standard mage, would be running around in. On their lapel, there was a symbol embroidered, but Illya didn't recognize it. They had gloves on, but the backs of them were open to reveal a set of red Command Seals on their right hand. A young man, with black hair and blue-green eyes. "Sorry, I wasn't able to keep up."
"No worries, Senpai," said Mash. "What are your orders?"
"Well," said the young man, considering. He looked around, as if finally noticing the gathered Justice Rangers, staring at them in surprise. "Oh, right. Uh, hello there."
"Who are you?" asked Rin, staring intently at him. "Why do you look familiar?"
Mordred took a step towards the woman, surprise on his face. Mash noticed him and her eyes went wide. The pair spoke at the same time.
The young man looked back and forth between them, before his gaze stopped on Mordred and his eyes went wide. "Mordred? That Mordred? You're so tiny now!"
"Don't call me tiny!" demanded Mordred, glaring at the young man.
He held up his hands defensively. "Sorry, I didn't mean any insult, you're just not how I recognized you."
"I'm not?" asked Mordred. He pointed at the young woman. "What about this? Galahad, what's going on here?"
"Galahad?" asked Rin. "As in, the Knight of the Holy Grail, son of Lancelot and fellow Knight of the Round Table member. That Galahad?"
The woman who was apparently Galahad nodded. "Correct." She looked shy for a moment. "Uh, well, it's kind of hard to explain, but put simply; I'm a Demi-Servant borrowing Galahad's powers. Although, it's a little more than that. Kind of like his…reincarnation I guess?"
Mordred looked at her for a moment before smiling. "Makes sense."
The new pair looked confused for a moment. "Makes sense?" asked Mash. "Really?"
"Of course," said Illya. "It's not like we haven't met Demi-Servants before. We understand the concept."
Mash looked to her companion. "Have they, Senpai?"
The 'Senpai' thought for a moment before snapping his fingers. "Right! Yeah, they have. I remember that story now. That makes it a lot easier. If only everyone we came across were the Justice Rangers."
"You know of us?" asked Sakura curiously. Illya recognized it was the tone she took when questioning something she was curious about.
"Of course," said the young man. "Who doesn't know about the Justice Rangers? They're super famous heroes."
"Even though we're children currently?" asked Sakura.
Sakura's expression turned serious. "Thank you for the assistance, but who are you really?"
"I'm Mash Kyrielight," said the young woman, trying to get between Sakura and her flustered companion. "And this is my Senpai and Master R-"
"Roman!" interrupted the young man, surprising Mash. Then, he said slightly calmer. "Roman Archaman. Master of the Demi-Servant Mash Kyrielight and agent of a secret mage security organization that I can tell you nothing about."
Illya prided herself on her good hearing, so she caught it when Roman muttered under his breath, "because I'm not sure if you'd recognize the name yet or not…"
"So," said Chloe, drawing everyone's attention. "This is an interesting conversation and all, but shouldn't we be, like, dealing with that giant squid thing?"
As if to agree with her, the monster slammed a tentacle into Mash's barrier, shaking the ground around them. Roman looked relieved for an out. "Yeah, we should." He noticed Sakura, Rin and Mordred giving him looks of distrust. "I promise I'll explain more about who we are and why we're here, but first we really should deal with this thing, right?"
Rin gave out a heavy sigh. "You're right." She looked at Mash. "What Class are you? Do you have a Noble Phantasm that could harm this thing?"
Mash shook her head. "I'm the special Class Shielder," she replied. "Unfortunately, my Noble Phantasm is what you saw already, an ultimate defense, but not anything more."
"Then plan B," said Rin, thinking. She glanced to Heracles. "Everyone else will distract and restrain the monster. You'll fire at it. All right?"
Heracles nodded. "Understood." He turned to Illya. "I will make you proud."
She smiled at him. "I know you will."
Rin looked to Mash and Roman. "Would you be willing to assist us against this monster? If not, then we just ask that you drop the shield and run. This will be getting messy."
"Of course, we're going to fight besides you," said Mash, smiling. A flicker of uncertainty, she glanced at Roman. "Right Senpai?"
Roman nodded. "Yep." He started to look very anxious for some reason and slapped his face lightly with both hands. "One second." He closed his eyes and held out his hand.
Illya recognized a type of transformation magecraft, like what she did to get into her ultimate form, but this one was clearly not combat focused. Roman's hair glowed for a brief moment and transformed from black to orange. His features softened and changed ever so slightly. She opened her eyes, blue-green changed to orange. A bright smile appeared on her face. "All right," she said, her voice ever so slightly higher pitched. "I'm ready."
Before anyone could say anything else, Mash stepped in front of Roman, glaring sternly at everyone around her. "Senpai is genderfluid, they/them pronouns. We would be highly appreciative if you could do so properly. Ready for me to drop the barrier?"
Rin didn't hesitate or falter as she responded. "Of course, we'll remember that. Drop the barrier."
"Thank you," whispered Roman softly in Mash's ear. So softly that Illya was pretty sure that only she and Mash heard.
Everyone prepared themselves as Mash, a bright smile on her face, held up her shield and yelled out, "Now!"
The barrier dropped and all the Servants leapt into action. Mordred held out his candy cane staff and shouted an incantation, Christmas light chains sprouting out from the ground around the monster and wrapping around each of its five largest tentacles. Chloe and Medusa each circled around to the side, pulling out their weapons and getting in close to stop chopping up the smaller tentacles. This served both to keep them from reaching out and attacking, and to keep the monsters attention divided. Mash charged down the center towards it, showing surprising agility as she ducked around and slammed her shield into tentacles, never allowing the thing to entrap her.
While everyone else did this, Heracles leapt backwards to the top of a small building. With his new vantage point he loaded an arrow into his bow and aimed. He breathed in, and then breathed out slowly. As he did so, his fingers released the arrow and it flew true, straight into the center of the monster where they had seen the Servant before.
The arrow struck, burying deep, and the effect was immediate. The area around the impact point started to blacken and decay. The infection spread out quickly, taking over a car sized portion of the monster in the blink of an eye.
But then, the monster let out another ear-splitting cry, and its body glowed with an eerie green light. Slightly away from the edges of the infection, the flesh of the creature started to move. Illya magically increased her vision and saw as the flesh transformed into people sized monstrous starfish things. The starfish creatures grabbed the chunk of infected flesh and pulled, pushing it out of the creature's mass. Together, the entire thing slogged out, falling several stories before hitting the ground with a wet thud, pulverizing the starfish as well. As soon as the infected part was gone, the monster's body started to patch itself up once more.
Shirou didn't hesitate. He yelled out to Chloe. "Chloe! Fire the most powerful shot you can at it as soon as possible."
Chloe nodded, leaping away from a swinging tentacle, cutting at it as she disengaged. She ran to the foot of the building Heracles was on and ran quickly up in, taking a spot next to him. With a quick wave, she materialized her bow and took aim, charging her attack.
"Fire immediately after her," ordered Illya. Her Servant nodded, loading his second arrow.
Time seemed to slow down as Chloe prepared to fire her Noble Phantasm. Before she could fire though, a quick moving blur appeared next to the two Servants. There was a flash of red and gold and Chloe and Heracles were jumping back down the building, retreating from the new threat, their attacks unfired.
As they landed next to Illya, she let out a gasp as Heracles' right arm dangled uselessly at his side, a long bloody slash running down it. "What happened?" she asked, looking between the Servants.
"We misjudged our enemy," said Heracles, sounding grim. "My arrow was destroyed. Master, can you heal me?"
"Sakura?" asked Illya, looking at her comrade.
Sakura held out her hand and green energy surrounded Heracles' arm. Nothing happened. Sakura frowned. "That's not right. I'm casting the spell, but it's not working."
"That's right," said a calm voice. Illya looked and saw a man jumping down from the building and landing in front of them. A handsome man in green leather armor, with a spear in each hand, one red and the other golden. He had a piercing gaze and a mole on his cheek. He pointed his golden spear at Heracles' arm. "That wound can not be healed by modern magecraft. Not as long as my curse stays on it."
"I know who you are," said Rin, taking a step towards the man. "Lancer Diarmuid Ua Duibhne of the Knights of Fianna. Celtic hero and wielder of the twin spears of Gae Buidhe and Gae Dearg. Your weapons can pierce any magical effects or leave unhealable wounds."
Diarmuid nodded. "That is correct. You are well informed for a child. You have my respect." He fell into a fighting stance. "I don't agree with it, but my Master ordered me to wait to for the right moment to strike, and now you will find me as your enemy. Who will face me?"
"Archer, Assassin," said Shirou. "Work together and defeat him quickly. We need to stop that monster before it runs wild through the city."
Chloe nodded. "Understood."
"No," said Heracles, surprising the group. He looked to Illya. "Master, please allow me to fight this man by myself."
"But you're injured," insisted Chloe. "It makes no sense to fight by yourself."
"But it does," replied Heracles. He reached out a hand and put it on Chloe's head. He smiled sadly at her. "It is my way of apologizing for my earlier mistake. You were trying your hardest to defeat this foe, but I did not. I lied and lazily tried to defeat this monster. My teacher always told me that my overconfidence in my abilities would lead to grave mistakes, but I never took his words seriously. Now I am paying for it. I wasted your efforts so please, allow me to make it right."
"An honorable decision," said Diarmuid. He pointed his golden spear to a point behind them. "Of course, I am still not your only foe."
"Hey Master!" yelled Mordred, causing everyone to turn around. He was still straining to hold the monster. "Things are about to get nasty."
Illya let out a gasp as she realized that hundreds of the starfish monsters from before were breaking off from the body of the monster and trying to spread out into the city. Medusa and Mash had switched from attacking the main body to trying to destroy as many of the creatures as possible before they got away.
"We need to stop those things," said Shirou, clenching his fists.
"We do," said Illya, reaching a conclusion. She faced Rin. "I think Archer should assist Lancer and Shielder. Assassin can defeat Diarmuid and then go assist everyone else in defeating the monster." A pause. "He can do this. I know he can."
Rin considered her words for a moment before nodding. "Understood, Justice Rose Pink. I'll trust your judgement in this matter." She looked to Shirou. "Are you okay with this?"
Shirou nodded immediately. "I trust my sister. If she believes her Servant can win, then so do I." He looked to his own Servant. "Archer, please go assist the others. You're the best person for making sure that none of those monsters escape into the city."
"Gotcha," said Chloe. She reached out for Heracles' hand, holding it in hers for a moment. "Don't let me down."
"Never again," said Heracles seriously.
Chloe leapt away, throwing her swords at two starfish trying to escape, killing them. She teleported to her weapons and repeated the process, flying quickly along the entire outline of the battlefield, picking off what Medusa or Mash couldn't. Mordred continued to hold the monster, sweat dripping down his brow.
"Thank you for waiting," said Heracles, turning to Diarmuid. "I appreciate the gesture."
I would just rather fight one foe than two," said Diarmuid. "An honorable battle against a powerful foe, that is what I seek." He held his spears at the ready. "Will you be the one to satisfy this desire?"
Heracles laughed. "I satisfy no desires but my own." He fell into a combat stance of his own, one hand held out before him with his injured one as far away from his enemy as possible. "But maybe I will make an exception with this battle. I have those who I have promised to win this for, after all."
"Then let us begin!" yelled Diarmuid, charging towards him.
Heracles leapt forward as well and skillfully dodged several spear strikes, but never quite able to return with a blow of his own. Illya could see that it was a fight of intense skill on both sides, but that Heracles' intention wasn't to land a hit, not quite yet. Instead, he led his foe away from the Masters, allowing for more space for them to properly fight in without endangering anyone. It was only once they were a significant distance away that he started truly fighting back. He kicked down with an ax kick, but Diarmuid leapt back, dodging it. The kick hit the ground and the area around it shattered from the power of the blow, chunks of concrete flying towards his enemy. Diarmuid easily cut the debris, an excited expression on his face.
"That lunatic is enjoying this too much," said a smug voice. Illya and the others turned to face a trio walking slowly towards them. Two men and one woman. She didn't recognize either of the men, but she did the red-haired woman. So did the rest of her companions.
"Teacher Sola-Ui," muttered Rin, her expression grim.
Sola-Ui sneered at the children. "That injured Servant will be no match for Lancer."
"If that idiot actually takes the fight seriously," said a blond-haired man who stood in the center of the trio. He was the one who had spoken before. He had a look of superiority on his face. "But just in case, we should end the lives of these children first. They will put up little challenge to a Master magus such as myself."
"This will be so cool," said the third person, a young man with red hair and a sadistic smile on his face. He pulled out a long knife and brandished it at them. "I've always enjoyed killing children the most. This is like a dream come true."
"Contain yourself," said the first man. "Just continue listening to my orders like you have been up to this point and victory will be assured. Then you can indulge yourself once we all have our wishes granted by Ruler."
"Yeah, yeah," said the young man. He held up his hand, and Illya saw a bruise indicating where there had once been Command Seals. "You already made me use up all three of these."
"Ruler can give you more. It was necessary to use them to preserve Caster's life. By using your Command Seals like I ordered, he was bolstered against that first attack, and able to expel the rot of the second. He's almost as mindless as a Berserker in that state right now, just trying to reach some Saint that does not exist in this era. If we didn't use those Command Seals to order him to release his minions, he would have just flailed uselessly about."
"Right, right," said the young man, clearly tuned out from the conversation.
"Can we remove these children already, Kayneth?" asked Sola-Ui. "While you talk to this fool, you're wasting precious time that could be spent assisting Lancer in victory. Nothing else matters."
"Hey," yelled the young man, sounding offended. He pointed the knife at Sola-Ui. "The name is Ryuunosuke, remember it. No serial killer will be more famous by the time we're done." He smiled, looking back at the children. "But I also agree. Can we please kill them already?"
Kayneth sighed. "As long as neither of you get in the way of my glory, then we will be fine. Proceed like I planned, and victory will be ours. Now, attack!"
Before the Justice Rangers could manage a retort, the trio was jumping into action. A silver liquid surged around Kayneth's feet and sprouted several spikes that tried to impale them. Illya reacted by crafting a sword and parrying, deflecting it just enough. Sakura brought up a personal barrier that stopped hers just in front of her. Shirou and Roman each just simply dodged away, neither having a good way to defend otherwise.
Rin's defense was the most impressive though. She waved her hands, activating a very specific type of magecraft. Before the spike could reach her, it broke apart into liquid particles, falling to the ground. Kayneth scowled at this, looking surprise. "Volumen Hydrargyrum will never manage to touch me," she said, sounding personally offended by the attack. "I know it too well."
"Then how about this?" asked Ryuunosuke, suddenly appearing right in front of Rin, knife coming down towards her.
"No, you don't," yelled Illya, empowering herself with a mana burst and blocking the knife with her child sized sword. He tried to stab at her again, moving with super human speed, but was forced to retreat as an arrow flew towards him. Illya glanced over her shoulder and saw Shirou, metal bow in hand that he had crafted from a crushed car. He was reached out, turning the destroyed metal into yet another arrow.
"You will not get the better of me," said Kayneth with a grimace. He held out his hand. "Pulse!" The liquid mercury started to form into knives to slash them into pieces, but several magical bolts headed towards Kayneth, forcing his mystic code to switch to defending him. The bolts were blocked easily, but the Justice Rangers were able to make distance between them and their enemies, retreating to Roman's side. They had their hand out, smoke rising from where they had fired the bolts.
"What do we do?" asked Shirou, keeping his arrow pointed at the enemy trio.
"Teacher is magically increasing the physical abilities of that man," observed Sakura. "Not to Servant levels, but enough to be a threat to us."
"And Volumen Hydrargyrum is much too powerful for us to ignore," said Rin. "Even if I can counter it briefly, it will reform. Plus, any mage able to create something like that is dangerous in their own right. We can't ignore him either."
"So, we hold out until our Servants can help?" asked Illya, considering their chances. "These bodies just aren't made to fight."
"I'll help," said Roman. "I've mastered all the basics, although as you've seen my specialty is a non-combat transformation spell. My skills are mostly geared towards assisting Servants."
Rin nodded. "Thanks. Then, we'll make use of that. Illya, you engage Ryuunosuke and Sola-Ui, with Shirou and Roman backing you up. Sakura and I will engage Kayneth and Volumen Hydrargyrum."
Illya nodded. "On it. Let's go!" then, brandishing her sword, she leapt into battle once more.
Heracles moved his head to the side, narrowly avoiding being decapitated by Diarmuid's red spear. With a shift of his wrist, the spear started to move towards him to slice off his head. He responded by ducking under and sending a powerful kick towards his foe. Diarmuid leapt back to avoid the blow, only pausing for a moment before leaping back in.
"Your movements are very skilled for one your age," said Diarmuid, striking out.
"Thank you," said Heracles, parrying with his functioning arm along the shaft of the spear. "It is exciting to fight one like you as well. It gets boring to just fight monsters all the time. There is no excitement like that of fighting another warrior."
Another attack, another parry. "Then will you name yourself, Assassin? I am at a disadvantage since you already know who I am, but I do not know you. Although, I have a few guesses."
"I will save you the suspense," said Heracles, getting in close and attempting to crush his opponent with a headbutt that did not land. "I would wish to announce myself by a greater name, but due to my childish error earlier, I feel I must instead go by a childish name. Alcides."
Diarmuid's eyes widened at the announcement, and Heracles tried to grab the man's wrist to disarm him of his spear. The other spear came in, aimed at Heracles injured side and he was forced to retreat once more. With some space once again between them, the two fighters sized each other up after the initial clash.
"The Greek Hero Alcides, childhood name of Heracles," said Diarmuid, sounding impressed. "The greatest hero in Greece, his name and fame known throughout the entire world. It is truly an honor to fight someone as accomplished as you are, even if this a younger you."
"The honor is mine as well," replied Heracles.
He glanced over to where his Master was facing off against a red-haired man in a purple jacket. They were on equal footing, to the point that a single mistake could spell defeat for either of them. The newcomer Roman and his Master's brother Shirou were working together to assist her and to fight a red-haired woman. The woman's spells weren't the most powerful, but she clearly had great potential that was just starting to shine through as she kept them from getting the upper hand on her.
Next to that battle was an equally intense fight with Rin and Sakura fighting a man who was clearly a master magus. His talent was impressive as he wielded the liquid metal around his feet deftly, bolstering its attacks with his own precisely aimed magical bolts. It was only the well-practiced teamwork between the sisters that allowed them to keep from losing their lives. But he could tell that they would be unable to defeat that man, he was too much for them in their current state.
"I hope you will not take it as an insult if I say that I will be ending this fight now," said Heracles, returning his attention to his foe. He fell into a combat stance, his good arm up and ready. He tried to move his injured arm and found it unable to do anything. The cut on it had been very precise, slicing through the muscles in a way to cripple his movements. Even if he could open the distance between them, he would be unable to properly fire an arrow like this. For a moment he entertained using his other Noble phantasm, but he heavily suspected that even that would be unable to fix his arm. It wasn't worth the risk to try.
"Of course not," said Diarmuid, taking his own stance. Golden spear, the one that had sliced his arm, held out in front. Held back was the red spear, the one that had sliced his arrow. Both were equally dangerous, and he weighed his options.
He reached a snap decision in a moment. There was only one way to defeat a foe this skilled. By taking him as seriously as possible. "Then let us end this, Lancer."
A smirk. "Same, Assassin. Just two nameless warriors, putting their all and fighting to the death. The honor I have craved to claim for so long!"
Lancer charged forward on that last word, swiftly twisting and striking out with his red spear. Assassin moved as well, engaging his foe. He dodged the red spear by a hair's breadth, his right side sliding along it. That brought him directly into the path of the golden spear, and the weapon pierced his side, sliding through him. He didn't hesitate at the pain though, instead carrying through with his own blow, stabbing out with his left arm and making a direct hit on Lancer's heart.
Diarmuid let out a wet cough, blood leaking out of his mouth, as the pair stood, bound together through their attacks. His mouth twisted up into a sad bloody smile. "It looks like I have failed again. How pathetic…"
Heracles leaned in, speaking softly into his honored foe's ear. "There was no failure here and no disrespect in this loss. The only reason I was able to do what I did was because it was you I was fighting. Any other foe would have wavered through a lack of skill and heart. Their spear would have moved a fraction to the side and instead of passing harmlessly between my organs, my insides would have been destroyed. Thank you, for being the one I got to fight. You have taught me a lesson I will not soon fight."
"Thank you…" said Diarmuid, his form breaking apart into motes of light.
Heracles looked to the wound in his side, blood leaking out of it. He had more important things to worry about though. Glancing to his fellow Servants he saw them barely managing to contain the ravaging hordes of starfish monsters. Mordred was on his knees, his tiny body shaking wildly as he strained to keep the main body rooted to the ground as it screamed and flailed about.
Trusting that they could handle for at least a little while longer, he made a powerful leap towards the blond man. The silver liquid quickly interposed itself between his attack, but the force of the clash caused a shockwave that knocked the man onto his back. Now between the liquid and his Master's friends, he turned to Sakura. "Diarmuid has been defeated. Please, heal my arm."
She nodded, holding out her hand and doing so quickly. Her magecraft took hold and the wound healed instantly, patching itself up. He moved his fingers, once again able to feel them.
"Thank you," he said.
"Your side?" she asked, preparing to heal that as well.
He shook his head. "It can wait. I still have to correct my mistakes." He leapt away once more, landing on the side of the same building as before and running up it. Once at the top, didn't materialize his bow yet, instead reaching around his waist for the lion pelt he wore. His final Noble Phantasm. He took the belt and through it around his shoulders like a cloak, the lion's head a hood covering his head. Massive amounts of energy started to swirl around him, waiting for his final words to be activated. He finally took out his bow, loaded his final arrow and took careful aim. "I call upon the power of the gods through this Noble Phantasm. Activate, Nemean Pelt!"
On his command power started to flood every part of him. His physical shape didn't change, but an aura surrounded him, making it seem to any observers that he was much larger than he truly was. The effect was so powerful that everyone in the battlefield below stopped what they were doing, man and monster alike, and gazed upon him. He ignored the attention though, looking at the point that he knew the enemy Servant to be.
He released his arrow and it covered the distance between them in an instant. It entered the body of the monster and there was a momentary pausing of time, as if the world was taking a deep breath. Then that breath was released, and the monster exploded, it's steaming flesh raining down over a five-block radius of the city. And there, falling from the center mass, was a cloaked Servant, falling to the ground with his arrow buried in his heart. The unnamed Servant hit the ground and his body broke apart into purple motes of light, his form broken apart completely by the hydra blood.
Heracles released the breath he had been holding, and as he did the strength from the Pelt fled with it. He leapt down from the building, going to rejoin his Master. As he fell, he saw the other Servants leaping into action and quickly taking down and apprehending the enemy Masters. He landed heavily to the ground, cracks forming underneath him. He walked over to the group as Mordred put the enemies into a slumber to be lifted later like that of the other Assassin's Master.
"Heracles," said Illya, greeting him. "'Good job."
He smiled with pride. "Thank you, Master. It was a tough battle, but I am glad I could pull through in the end."
"How is that an Assassin Class Servant?" muttered Rin.
"Let me heal that," said Sakura, aiming her magecraft to the wound in his side. It too was healed, as it he had never been injured. "There."
"How come you got to take out two Servants?" asked Mordred, sounding sulky. "Meanwhile I get stuck holding that thing in place for freakin' ever!"
"That was an impressive display," said Medusa. "What was that Noble Phantasm?"
"The Nemean Pelt," replied Heracles, taking the depleted pelt off his shoulders and wrapping it around his waist once more. "It is something I can only use once, but it greatly boosts my abilities. I am sorry for hiding its existence from you." He felt a blush of embarrassment form on his cheeks. "I had this idea in my head about hiding its existence until the right moment, earning praise. I deeply regret not revealing it sooner. If I had, that fight would have gone much smoother."
"Damn right you should have," chastised Rin. "That Noble Phantasm didn't just 'boost your abilities', it raised all six of your parameters to EX rank. Your Divinity turned to EX as well, for that moment you had true Divinity. You were a god."
"This pelt is a symbol of my myth. By wearing it, I tap into that fame for the briefest of moments and obtain the level of a god through belief alone."
"That's amazing," admired Shirou.
"Yeah, yeah," said Chloe, walking to stand right in front of Heracles, a frown on her face. She pointed to the ground. "Kneel."
He did so, lowering to equal height with the small Archer. He inclined his head in apology. "Once more, I am sorry for the trouble I put you throu-." His sentence was cut off as Chloe put her hand on his head, patting him.
Author's Note: …But they're all tactical geniuses. Also, thank you to the person who corrected me on Magic vs Magecraft. That's one of those weird Fate specific vocab things that's easy to miss. That has been corrected in the past two chapters. Below are the stats for this fic's Heracles.
Heracles Lily (Assassin)
Parameters - All B Rank
Presence Concealment C - (Fresh Faced Youth) At first impression, Heracles Lily appears to be a charming, handsome and impressive, but unassuming young man. On second impression, there is something almost other worldly about him.
Divinity C - A small amount of Divinity "granted" by Hera.
Hydra Arrows - A small supply of special arrows dipped in hydra blood. Each arrow is able to kill a mortal being upon contact, or render an immortal being vulnerable.
Nemean Pelt - The pelt of the Lion killed by Heracles. This item that symbolizes his legend and deeds also grant's him great power for a short time. By using it, Heracles gains Divinity through the sheer power of his myth. His parameters and Divinity all become EX Ranked.
Blind Seer *As Diarmuid*: This guy is going to destroy me!
Blind Seer *As Kayneth*: Nah, you've got this.
Blind Seer *As Diarmuid*: He's pretty much Greek Cú Chulainn, Kayneth!
[Can you tell my brother and I just discovered UBW Abridged? For all of you who were making "Actually Satan" jokes in the comments of Fate/Zero: Heroes of Justice, I finally get those now. I thought people were just using bad grammar. Sorry. (Also, he was Actually Lucifer. I feel like the 'Actually Lucifer' part is very important. That has been corrected in the main story.)]