Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything related to the series.
Like always, thank you to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter. It was a lot.
Author's Note: Because I've gotten questions about it. I'm not obscuring Ritsuka's gender, they're genderfluid in this fic. They use they/them pronouns.
Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise
Chapter 5: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 1
Mash looked around, trying to anticipate where the attack would come from. Her enemy had disappeared in a flurry of wind and had yet to reappear. Would it be from above? No, the sky was clear. From the sides? A quick glanced confirmed it wasn't that either. She turned around, shield up, but saw no one behind her, the most obvious attack route. If everywhere was empty, where could her enemy have gotten to?
The ground underneath her started to shake and Mash tried to jump away, realizing what was about to happen. But her stance was too firm, and she was too slow. The ground exploded underneath her, knocking her into the air. Stance destroyed, she struggled to try to bring her shield in front of her while fighting against gravity. She was only partially covered as a powerful gust of wind struck her, sending her hurtling back to earth. Her shield was blasted to her side as she struck the ground, leaving a crater and losing her breath.
"The Second Enigma, Shtayim, the Spirit of Purifying Flames," said her foe.
Mash opened her eyes to a pillar of flame descending upon her. She called upon her final reserve of energy, bringing her shield up before her and yelling, "I am the Shield that protects Chaldea, Lord Chaldeas!"
A powerful multi layered barrier sprung into existence before her. The fire struck the barrier and its progress towards her was halted completely. Before when this exchange had happened, Mash had been unable to keep the fire at bay. But through long periods of practice she had gotten better and better. Now, even in a poor position, she was able to keep the barrier up as long as it took for the fire to run out. Nothing would get through her barrier now-
"The Third Enigma," said Makeda, spreading her arms wide as she floated in the sky. "Shalosh, the Spirit of the Rushing Current."
Mash didn't have time to react as from below her shot a geyser of water. She flew back into the air, her flight ended as a drop kick stuck her and sent her into the ground for a final time. Master lay in a crater, unable to continue fighting as Makeda stood over her. The other Servant held out her hand to Mash and she took it, standing.
"You are learning," said Makeda. "Your Noble Phantasm can now hold off my most powerful attack."
Mash smiled at that, feeling proud at the praise. Makeda's eyes glance over her in appraisal and she felt a sinking suspicion that a big 'but' was coming. She mentally prepared herself. It was common for her to give a compliment and then follow up with what Mash needed to work on.
"While keeping a firm stance helps you hold off attacks longer, you need to be prepared to be mobile so that you can adjust to the changing situation of the battlefield. In addition, while we have been focusing on improving your defensive abilities, we are going to need to start working on your offensive abilities as well. In the Singularities you have so far had allies who could go on the attack, but there is never a guarantee of that, so you will need to be prepared."
Mash nodded, accepting the criticism and advice. "Understood. Thank you."
"You are welcome," replied Makeda. She smiled. "You are improving tremendously. I had to go all out against you today to pierce your defenses. That is a good sign."
The pair started to exit the simulation room together. As they walked, Mash glanced at Makeda. "I didn't know that you could control earth," she said. "I thought your Enigmas were only for fire, air and water."
Makeda's expression turned guilty for a moment before turning into a bright, unreadable smile. "My Enigmas have a lot of abilities. My greatest strength is keeping what I can do secret. The larger the 'enigma' of my abilities, the greater they are."
Mash considered that for a moment. That made sense, although there was something off about it. She decided to file that mystery for later. They exited the simulation room and found Ritsuka and Doctor Roman sitting at a table in the waiting room. There were three chess boards in front of them, each with a game clock next to it. Senpai made a move on the middle board and then clicked the clock to indicate that their turn was done. The timer started to click down for Doctor Roman, but he made his move within seconds, pressing the clock.
Senpai had switched their attention to the right board, and now found themselves with three ticking clocks once again. They moved on the right board and looked to the left which only had a few seconds left. They made their move, looking a little desperate. As they did, Doctor Roman made his move on the right board. Mash and Makeda watched as the games went on for a few more minutes. Senpai rushing to make a move while Doctor Roman calmly kept the pressure up. Five more minutes of this and it was too much. The right board fell, and then the left. Only remaining was the middle. The moves from both sides sped up as their focus was no longer split.
Mash's excitement rose as Ritsuka got Doctor Roman into check. That excitement fell as in the next move Roman removed the danger and moved Senpai into check instead. The game ended quickly at that point, Ritsuka trying and failing to come back. The game finished, Doctor Roman held out his hand and Ritsuka shook it, the pair smiling at each other.
"Good job," said the Doctor, pushing his chair back and standing up. "'You're learning to manage several different viewpoints and time restrictions. That will be an important skill going forward."
Ritsuka stood as well. "Thank you, but I still lost. Even once the other two battles were lost, I couldn't use all of my focus to win the final one."
"That's because you tilted," replied Roman. "When an athlete is thrown off their balance, they can start making more and more mistakes. What you need to do is learn to use the time available to you to breath, take stock of your surroundings and regain your footing."
"That is good advice," said Makeda, approaching them. The pair finally noticed the two Servants and Ritsuka gave Mash a small wave. Makeda walked up to Roman and gave him a mischievous smile. "It is a little amusing hearing it come from someone who refuses to fight battles he does not believe he can win."
"Hey," said Doctor Roman, looking miffed. "Just because I pick and choose my battles carefully doesn't make me a coward."
"I never said that. You did," said Makeda, clearly teasing him. Then, she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. She pulled back as the other three occupants of the room stood in stunned silence. After a moment, realization at what she had done appeared on Makeda's face and she blushed heavily. "Uh, I mean, that was…it was just payment since I felt like I was teasing my Master too much. That is not a good thing for a Servant to do after all. And when someone does something they should not, they pay a toll. That is all."
Doctor Roman looked like he was about to say something, but before he could Makeda ran out of the lobby. Instead of shutting automatically behind her, it stayed open and a head poked around the corner. Da Vinci studied the group, an amused smile on her face. "What did you do now, Romani?"
"I have no idea," said Doctor Roman, shaking his head.
Mash agreed with that sentiment.
Makeda didn't leave her room after returning to it from the training session. Instead she paced, trying to distract herself as her four Enigmas watched her from the bed. Her heart played a constant fast beat and nothing she did helped it to slow down. After several hours of pointless pacing, she climbed into the bed that had been provided to her and close her eyes. Maybe if she went to sleep, she would wake up in the morning and everything would be a dream that had never happened.
As sleep overtook her, Makeda found herself in a dark city covered by a dark purple fog. Unconsciously she walked through the streets, something driving her forward…
Romani sat alone in the Command Center, reading through several reports. The operation to Rayshift into the Fourth Singularity was scheduled for the next morning and he had ordered everyone to get a good night's rest. He hadn't bothered doing so himself, as his heart hadn't calmed down for hours. Every time he tried to think of something else, his mind went back to the sensation of her lips on his cheek. Since they had been reunited, they hadn't exchanged any physical affection, keeping separate rooms. They hadn't done so much in their past lives either, their positions and brief time together making that impossible. Now that he had been given a taste, he realized how much he had craved such gestures, and how much he wanted to give a few himself.
He let out a heavy sigh. This wouldn't do. He had a job to do, a future to prevent. Until it was all done, he didn't deserve to have such pleasures. Although, when all was said and done, he knew he wouldn't be around to enjoy the future he would save. That was the destiny he knew that awaited him.
His computer console lit up with red warning lights, breaking him out of his thoughts. He quickly tapped a few commands, trying to discover what the warning was for. After a moment, he found the source. SHEBA. The Near-Future Observation Lens had activated and was currently transmitting.
"That can't be possible," muttered Roman, opening the date file. The information was being recorded real time. A dark city covered by a dark purple fog became visible. He checked the era time stamp of what he was viewing. 2016, localized in Antarctica. Chaldea, this data was being recorded from inside Chaldea. But the data clearly wasn't showing Chaldea. The video feed was strikingly clear as it moved through the fog covered city. There were several jumps in the continuity, nothing continuous like might be seen in an actual walk. Instead, it reminded Roman of a dream. Or a vision.
On the fourth jump, the city was left behind, and a large underground cavern became visible. Purple fog, thicker than before obscured any fine details. Then, a shift in the fog and two forms floating in the air. There was the dripping of blood, running down one body from a hole in her chest. A familiar hand wreathed in magical energy filled the hole, having pierced the girl through her heart. Her eyes were dead and lifeless. Roman felt sick as he witnessed this sight.
"No," he muttered. "This can't be." He quickly turned and pulled up Chaldea's Security feeds. Entering his override code, he removed the security restrictions for personal quarters. A sigh of relief as he saw Mash, sleeping quietly in her bed. He looked back to the feed from SHEBA and saw static. The recording had ended, the source of the feed gone. He quickly viewed the footage once more, confirming what he had seen. When he was done, he erased the data, removing all traces that SHEBA had ever recorded data that night.
As he finished the deletion, the door to the Command Center opened. He turned and saw Makeda standing in the doorway, her expression blank. The door closed behind her as she walked up to him. "Makeda," he said. "What is going-" his words were cut off as she leaned down and brought him into a tight hug. He stood and brought his arms around her, returning the embrace.
They stood like that in silence for several minutes. Finally, Roman broke the silence. "That recording from SHEBA, it was a vision, wasn't it?"
"So, you saw it," muttered Makeda into his shoulder. "Yes, it was my vision. Somehow, I saw a city I had never seen before. In that city, I saw her death."
"My visions are accurate. If nothing is done, this will come to pass."
"Very likely," he said. He knew personally how strong her Clairvoyance was. It was on the level of King Solomon. The accuracy couldn't be disputed.
But he couldn't allow the ending to come to be. The fog covered city, London. That was the location they had pinpointed for the Fourth Singularity. This wasn't a vision of a far future, but one on the cusp of being realized. It they didn't do something, Mash would die.
Even if they did do something, the outcome was likely to be the same. A battle with no possibility of victory. He hated gambling on chance. But for Mash, he knew he would need to. There was no other choice.
"Are you ready to enter the Fourth Singularity?" asked Roman. Makeda watched as Mash and Ritsuka both nodded, their expressions serious. They had clearly picked up on the no nonsense attitude Roman was displaying. Instead of his usual easygoing talk, he had been nothing but business. A quick look around showed her that everyone in the Command Room had picked up on the shift, and they were all trying to figure out what had happened.
Of course, neither she nor Roman could tell anyone about her vision. Visions were fickle and dangerous things. They were for the viewer and no one else. Showing or telling others would solidify the future, making the outcome completely certain. Since Roman had viewed the scene through SHEBA, they still had some leeway to interact with the future. As a device that shared the future, that meant it was like Roman had seen the vision himself. A dark secret between only the two of them.
Makeda moved from her place next to Roman and stood before Mash and Ritsuka. Everyone in the room except for Roman looked surprised. At any other point, she might take pleasure in surprising them, but this moment was too important for something so simple.
"I will be joining you on this mission," said Makeda. She bowed slightly. "I hope to be of service while inside the Singularity."
Ritsuka looked at her in pleasant surprise. "Really?" they asked. She nodded. They looked past her to Roman. "Will you be joining us as well, Doctor?"
"I won't be," replied Roman. "I'm still in Command of Chaldea and the other conditions I listed before are in effect. What Makeda will be able to do inside of the Singularity will be limited."
"Then why are you coming along?" asked Mash. "Uh, not that I don't want you along, it's just curious if you can't fight."
She smiled at Mash. "My skills lay in more than just fighting. I have a strong talent for collecting and analyzing information. And that is what we need more of going forward through the rest of the Singularities. They are only going to get more difficult to fix, so we need to act quickly. Long range instruments can only see so much, we need an experienced set of eyes in the field."
Mash and Ritsuka nodded in understanding, accepting the explanation her and Roman had thought of. She could also feel the assent of the other staff members, Da Vinci excluded. Well, that was to be expected. This excuse was a good one because it was true. They did need more information and she could collect it better than anyone else, Master or no Master. In addition, after the vision the other night her and Roman had run some tests. SHEBA was always linked to her passively, which meant that in a pinch they could use it as an extra observation device for her regardless of the circumstances. It was only a theory, but the link would likely get through all but the strongest of interference. That made it a useful trump card.
"Then with that out of the way," said Roman, "prepare for Rayshift, just like always. Good luck everyone. Begin the operation into the Fourth Singularity!"
It was an unusual sensation, Rayshifting. For Mash and Ritsuka, it meant projecting outside of their physical bodies to a new era and location. For Makeda, it was a little different. She had no physical form separate from her spiritual form. She was already a spirit form given a physical being. So, for her, that meant her entire being, her spirit, was taken apart and restructured inside of the Singularity.
As her body restructured, Makeda used a quick spell to check over her condition. Everything seemed good. Her body had been put back together properly and her mana seemed to be full. Their one concern with sending her into the Singularity without a Master had been how well she would hold together since she didn't have an aptitude for Independent Action. But Roman couldn't enter the Singularity, that they both knew, so the risk needed to be made regardless. But the connection between them felt as strong as usual, as if they were still connected.
"Rayshift complete," said Roman, his voice coming over the magical communicator. "How does everyone feel?"
"Fine," said Mash and Ritsuka, both looking around and getting their bearings.
"Caster?" asked Roman, slight concern in his voice.
"Everything is good over here as well," she replied. "My mana supplies are at full."
"Readings over here confirm that as well," said Da Vinci. "We have no data to compare with, but despite being in different realities currently, your Master-Servant connection is functioning as if you're sharing the same space. This is likely unique to you."
Makeda knew for a fact that it was. She held her hand to her heart and focused on their link. For a moment, she heard his heartbeat and wondered if he heard hers as well. Their relationship had always been defined by distance since the day they had met, and that had never weakened it before. Why would it do so now?
"Our monitoring systems are being disrupted by something in the Singularity," said Da Vinci. "We have audio, but visuals are staticky. Maybe if we adjust the frequency or channel…"
"While we attempt to do that," said Roman, "could you describe what you see? The era and location are London in 1888."
Makeda looked around. "There is not much to see. There is a thick fog covering everything. It is heavily saturated in magical energy. So much so that I do not believe a regular human would be fine in it for too long."
"I feel fine," commented Ritsuka.
She studied Ritsuka for a moment and saw a slight aura surrounding them. It was like one that was around Mash. "I believe that your connection to Mash is protecting you. Some sort of passive protection given to the Master. You should be fine in this level of magical fog.
Mash sighed in relief. "That's good to know. I'm glad to be of use Senpai."
"You're always useful," replied Ritsuka.
While the pair were talking, Makeda continued looking around, focusing on her magical eyes to see more. She was surprised as inside the fog she saw a void. Just around the corner of a building was something invisible to her eyes. Cloaked. That had never happened before.
"There is something or someone over there," said Makeda quietly, gesturing to the void. "Do not look at them yet. My eyes cannot see them properly."
"That's worrying," said Roman. "That would need to be a powerful Magecraft, something that wouldn't exist in this era either. Approach very carefully." There was a pause. "Watch out! Strange magical signatures incoming."
Makeda looked around once more and saw three large, indistinct white forms approaching. They had the vague shape of a human but were deformed with black spots instead of faces. They were masses of muscle, rippling and undulating strangely. And they were headed right towards the group.
"Prepare for combat," said Ritsuka, holding out their hand and readying a magical bolt.
Mash held her shield at the ready, standing in front of Ritsuka. "Mash Kyrielight, entering combat."
Makeda pulled out an incense burner which was a lamp hanging from a thick golden chain. With a quick bit of Magecraft she lit the burner and puffy white smoke started to drift out, along with a calming scent. The smoke surrounded them in a ring. The creatures ran into the smoke, never hesitating in their charge. That was their final mistake as the smoke reacted instantly. For a moment it reacted like a gas, surrounding the creatures completely. In the next, the gas solidified, trapping the creatures in white cocoons.
"Enemies have been restrained," said Makeda, bowing to Mash and Ritsuka. "They are yours now."
Ritsuka nodded. "Thank you. Mash, beat them!"
Mash leapt forward and swung her shield at the first creature, shattering the smoke around them and bashing the creature into the ground. It stopped moving, light fading from its face spots. Makeda could sense that the creature's operations, such as they were, had ceased. These were mindless, lifeless magical constructs. Nothing more.
While Mash moved to engage the second creature, Makeda glanced over to the void from before. Whatever it was hadn't moved yet, but she was starting to get the sense of a person standing there. Their form was smooth and pointy, armor maybe? As Mash engaged the second creature, the creature had an arm that hadn't been caught in the smoke and swung with the elongated appendage at her. There was a slight twinge of movement from the figure that Makeda found interesting. Mash blocked the appendage and swung her shield in for a solid strike on the creature, defeating it as well.
Feeling interested, and readying a bit of offensive Magecraft, Makeda dispelled the smoke around the third creature. The creature didn't spare a moment to think about its newfound freedom. Instead, it charged at Mash, tumbling end over end into a spinning ball. Ritsuka was the second to notice and called out to their partner.
"Mash, behind you!"
Mash turned quickly, bringing her shield up to block, her stance firm. The creature struck her shield and shot up into the air as if propelled on a ramp. At the top of its arc, it broke out of its roll and spread out, preparing to come down and attack Mash again. Mash prepared herself, making some distance and holding her shield so that she was ready for a counterstrike. Makeda cancelled her stored Magecraft, finding no reason to sustain it as a red blur shot into the air and slashed the creature in half. The two halves of the creature fell to the ground with wet thumps that were drowned out by the heavy metal clank of the mysterious void person landing in front of Mash.
The figure stood from their crouch landing and Makeda could finally make out what they looked like. A person, in full spiky plate armor, a helmet covering their face. They were short, but had a powerful presence around them, accentuated by the sparks of red lightning fading from around their body. Even close, Makeda's eyes couldn't penetrate the figure's identity. Clearly some ability or item that the figure possessed contained a powerful enough spell to hide them from all prying eyes. It was an impressive bit of spell craft that would not be in existence in 1888 London.
"Thank you for the assistance," said Mash, smiling at the figure, lowering her shield to her side.
"No problem," said the figure, a chipper, androgynous voice. Probably someone around Mash's age. They lifted their large sword and rested it on their shoulder. "It's not like you couldn't have handled them. Honestly, I'm surprised that you didn't beat them faster. Were you showing restraint or something? Usually you're much quicker than that."
Mash frowned. "I'm sorry? I don't know what you're talking about. Have we met before?"
"Of course, we have," said the knight, sounding confused. They walked right up to Mash and leaned in close until their faces were almost touching. Mash looked embarrassed but didn't move. She didn't even flinch as the knight's helmet suddenly broke apart, crawling around his armor and locking into place on his back with heavy clunks. A teenager, messy blond hair and bright green eyes grinned at Mash for a moment before frowning. Their features were about as androgynous as their voice, allowing the possibility of being a boy or girl. "Huh, I guess I was wrong. You smelled and fought like him, so I just assumed that even though I couldn't see you through this damn fog you must be him. My bad."
The knight straightened up and backed a few steps away from Mash. She looked taken aback for a moment before holding a hand out to the knight. "I'm Mash Kyrielight, Shielder class Demi-Servant."
The knight took the hand and shook it energetically. "Mordred, Saber Class Servant."
"Mordred…," said Mash as if the word was familiar to her. "Like the knight who killed King Arthur?"
"The one and the same," said the knight proudly, not looking ashamed in the least.
Without the helmet, and the magical protections she realized surrounded it, Makeda was able to see the Servant's aura and information about the knight. A bit of information, the Servant's preferred Gender pronouns, floated to their side. He/him. Studying him for a moment she confirmed that he was exactly who he said he was. She took a step forward, ready to introduce herself, but Mordred glared at her, his grip tightening on his sword.
"I'm guessing you're on her side?" asked Mordred, sounding annoyed.
Makeda nodded, smiling brightly while knowing exactly what she had done to annoy the young knight. "I am." She bowed. "I am a Caster Class Servant who for reasons cannot say my True Name aloud. I am not as bold as you bright young Heroic Spirits after all."
Mordred frowned at that. "My partner is always saying the same thing. 'Saber, you just can't introduce yourself to people like that. You need to be more secret in a Grail War'." He laughed. "It's not like this is a regular Grail War anyways, so why worry about it?"
"A good observation," said Makeda. "We are all a part of the group Chaldea. We are investigating these strange occurrences as well. This is the Master, Ritsuka Fujimaru."
Ritsuka moved up to Mash's side. "It's nice to meet you."
"And you," replied Mordred. "I'm guessing you're Shieldy's Master?"
"Shieldy?" asked Mash, taken back again. Makeda noted the familiarity that Mordred regarded her with. It confirmed her theory of the identity of the Servant inside of Mash.
Mordred flashed a smile at Mash. "Like the name? I think it suits you." He frowned at Makeda again. "And where's your Master?"
She briefly considered lying and saying Ritsuka was her Master, but she doubted that the suspicious Servant would believe her. There was no reason to lie either to someone who was clearly a possible ally. Plus, she didn't want to call anyone besides Romani her Master. "My Master cannot be here currently, but he is watching and supporting us from far away."
A hazy image of Roman filled the air between them. "Doctor Romani Archaman, Acting Director of Chaldea and Master of Caster. You mentioned a partner earlier, who would that be?"
"We can talk about him later," said Mordred. He pointed a finger at Roman. "Do you know what your Servant did during that fight?"
"I do," she said, drawing the attention of those next to her. She turned to Mash and bowed. "I am sorry for letting that creature free, I just wanted to check something. I must say, you handled yourself perfectly and even without Mordred you would have been fine."
Mash looked taken aback for a moment. "Uh, thank you?"
Mordred scowled. "That's it? Not going to get mad at her?" He scoffed and muttered under his breath. "Same as always…"
Makeda straightened. "I do find it interesting that you rushed to Mash's side, considering how capable you believe the spirit inside of her to be. You must have known that was meant to draw you out, correct?"
"You're overthinking it," said Mordred. He finally lowered his sword and surprised Mash by putting an arm around her shoulder. "A knight rushes to fight for their friends. Even a third-rate knight. It's as simple as that."
"I see," replied Makeda. A small bow. "I apologize to you as well. Thank you for the lesson."
Mordred pointed a thumb to his chest and flashed a vicious smile. "I'm the Knight of Rebellion, teaching lessons to stupid Kings is my specialty."
She could only stare in baffled surprise at having been discovered. Mordred let out a harsh laugh. "Looks like the lesson is sinking in. Well, you're with Shieldy, so you're my ally in this as well. Come on, I know a guy who will love to meet you all." A frown. "And probably berate me as well. But who cares about that?"
Roman observed from the control room as Makeda, Mash and Ritsuka traveled through the fog filled London streets with Mordred. Several times they were stopped by more homunculi and various mechanical creatures. Dolls and actual robots. As they traveled, the situation in London became much clearer. A demonic fog, killing any normal person who breathed it in for an extended period. From inside that fog came various monsters: the homunculi, mechanical creatures and even a Servant.
The attack had come quickly from inside the fog, knives clashing on sword as Mordred engaged an enemy that only he had noticed. The assailant, identifiable by readings as an unknown Assassin Class Servant, had tried to duck around Mordred to attack Ritsuka, but Mash had protected them quickly. Before a third attack could be made, Makeda had hit them with a magical bolt that had sent the Servant flying off into the fog. They hadn't bothered to continue attacking after that.
There were a lot of reasons that the attack had been concerning, but the biggest was that as Roman tried to remember anything about the Servant besides their Class, he had come up blank. So had Da Vinci, the Chaldea Staff, Mash, Ritsuka and Mordred. Their gender, what they looked or sounded like, how they attacked, none of it remembered or properly recorded. The only bright spot was when Makeda had stated that she did remember. Theories were that it had been due to her high magical resistance, mystical sight, and demi-human heritage, but supposition wasn't useful. The only important part was that she remembered and was on guard. The incident made him feel much better about their decision for her to go into the Singularity.
The group had eventually found themselves at an unassuming flat, something that any relatively well-off bachelor of the era might occupy. Inside had been a young man, one Doctor Henry Jekyll. A regular young man, no hint of being a Servant at all. That had been fascinating, as it either meant that the infamous character of the novel that shared his name was based off a real person or had manifested in this London as a real person instead of as a Servant. He explained how he had found Mordred, who he had in fact admonished for revealing his True Name, and how the pair were working together to save London. On his hand were Command Seals linked to the Saber.
After a hashing out of the facts, everyone had decided to retire to rest for a bit before heading out to investigate a lead. While those in the Singularity did so, Roman had ordered the techs who weren't necessary for monitoring to take brief breathers of their own. Their systems would passively analyze the information they had collected, they could look it over once they had managed to eat something. Roman had wanted to do some research of his own, but he had found Da Vinci dragging him out of the room for tea, which she had brewed for the entire staff, and to talk. Now, holed up in her workshop, he waited to hear what she had to say. Thankfully the tea was good, because he wasn't ready for this conversation.
Da Vinci took a sip of her tea and glared at Roman. "Why did you suddenly decide to send Makeda into this Singularity?"
"It was a joint decision," he replied. "It was her idea."
"But what about the masquerade? You two were trying to keep a low profile, to make it seem like neither of you could enter a Singularity. You practically begged me to cover for you. Honestly, it's a miracle that she's able to function in there so far away from you."
"I don't remember begging you," replied Roman, laughing lightly. "There's a reason that Makeda entered the Singularity, but neither her nor I can explain why. I would like to tell you at least, but…"
Da Vinci waved a hand dismissively, taking a sip of tea then putting her cup down. "Don't bother, I think I get the idea."
He was surprised for a moment. "You do?"
A nod. "It clearly needs to be an important reason, to put your secrets at risk. And if you're not sharing it with me, there's obviously a reason. The Queen of Sheba and Solomon shared a trait in the myths, the ability of Clairvoyance. Would I be right in guessing that it's related to that?"
"It is," he replied.
"There's a theory that talking about visions can mess with the future, so that would neatly explain the sudden secrecy."
"It would," he said, feeling relieved that she had figured out the reason. Confirming this much wouldn't hurt anything. "Thank you for understanding."
Da Vinci shook her head. "It's not understanding," she said. "This is fear, fear at what is causing two of the most cautious people in the world to make risky moves." A sigh. "I want to know, but I know I can't. That's super frustrating."
"Let me know what I can do to help," said Da Vinci, picking up her cup and taking another sip.
Roman sipped his own tea. "Thanks. Once I figure out what that could be, I'll let you know. For now, this tea will be enough."
"Need to take a dump?" said a voice as Makeda entered the parlor. She saw Mordred, still wearing his armor, glaring at her from the couch he was lounging on. Space in the flat was limited, with Jekyll staying in his room, and Mash and Ritsuka sharing the guest room. Mordred had taken up residence on Jekyll's couch, much to the young man's chagrin. Makeda had put up in the library, not really needing sleep the arrangement worked for her. Plus, it allowed her to do some research without having to disturb anyone. There were also plenty of surfaces for her Enigmas to lounge on.
"Not currently," said Makeda politely, ignoring the Saber's hostile tone.
He laughed. "Good response. Got bored among the books?"
"Never," replied Makeda. "Since this is the only room connecting the library to the rest of the flat, I needed to exit through it. I am just going to talk to Mash."
"Ah," said Mordred, looking annoyed. In his hand he held a paperback book. Something he had clearly been reading. He refused to look at her, instead keeping his gaze at the words in the book.
"I get the sense that you do not like me much."
"No, I don't."
"Even you should know that Mash was not really in danger."
A moment of silence. "I don't like your type. Those so far up their butts in Magecraft and Kingship that they endanger those around them.'
"I believe you may be projecting someone, or someones, else onto me," replied Makeda, remembering the passages she had recently read on Mordred's history. "And even if I was like that, Mash is strong enough to care for herself. You of all people should know what she is capable of, considering you know who the spirit inside of her is."
An annoyed click of the tongue, but the knight still didn't look at her. The book shifted in his grasp. His hand obscured the title, but she could make out the author's name on the spine. Shelley.
She continued. "Yes, she is still inexperienced, but every day she gets stronger. I have trained her, so I know this better than anyone. Today was yet another test, a necessary step, and she succeeded." She paused for a moment. "I will not be able to protect her every moment, and neither will you. That means it is up to us to train her properly. Do you not agree?"
"Whatever," said Mordred, finally flipping the page of the book. "Stop bothering me and go get your conversation over with. We have a lot to do."
"Agreed," said Makeda, mentally keeping her ear from twitching in annoyance. She walked past him to the guest room and knocked on the door. "May I enter?"
"Of course," said Mash. Makeda opened the door and found Mash sitting on the bed, Fou resting in her lap. "Did you need something?"
"Just to chat," said Makeda, entering the room. "Where is Ritsuka?"
"Senpai went to use the restroom," replied Mash.
"I see," said Makeda. "I suspect we will be heading out soon. But before we do, I wanted to apologize to you for releasing the homunculus earlier. It put you at unnecessary risk in a combat situation."
Mask looked down at her lap. "I talked to Senpai about that. They were angry at you for using me as bait."
"For my part I wanted to tell you that I forgive you."
Makeda nodded. "Thank you." She turned to exit. "I will go back to preparing to leave."
"Wait," said Mash. "I had a question for you."
Makeda turned back around, curious. "Oh? Ask and I will answer to the best of my ability."
"That is…What is your relationship with Doctor Roman?"
She was momentarily taken aback by the question, but as she had throughout her lifetime, she kept her expression neutral and her tail and ears still. "We are Master and Servant."
"But you kissed him yesterday," said Mash. She blushed. "I don't think I could do that to Senpai. You two also seem very familiar with each other. Comfortable. You don't spend a lot of time together, but there's something about your relationship that feels different than Master and Servant or friends."
Makeda considered that for a moment, and how Mash phrased her words. She walked over to the bed and sat down next to Mash. "You are a very perceptive young woman," she said. "We are closer than either of those. And we have been trying to keep it a secret. How does that make you feel knowing that?"
"How do I feel?" asked Mash, confused. "Why would what I think matter?" A pause for a moment. "I guess I'm a little surprised the Doctor is in a relationship like that. I never really thought of him in the light of having a partner. There were rumors of him and Da Vinci being together, but that never seemed likely to me."
Makeda failed to resist her ears flicking in annoyance at that rumor. She kept her voice even. "Is that all?"
Another pause. "It's weird. I feel happy that the Doctor has someone special, and annoyed that it was kept secret. Why couldn't I know?"
"No one knew who did not figure it out themselves."
"Da Vinci," replied Makeda with a smile.
"Out of a concern that it would be perceived as improper. He is the acting head of Chaldea, and I am his Servant. We are working to save Humanity, that is all our relationship would be."
"But I don't think anyone at Chaldea would mind," said Mash. "It's strange to learn about. The woman who fell for King Solomon would also fall in love with the internet idol obsessed Doctor Roman. But why can't you just be like that?"
Makeda considered that. "I am used to keeping my relationships secret. I did the same for King Solomon, why should this one be any different?"
"But you're not a ruler here," said Mash. "You're a Servant, so shouldn't you be freer in your choices?"
She laughed. "That sounds like something Ritsuka or Mordred would say. Are the bad influences rubbing off on you?"
Mash smiled. "I guess they are." A pause. "Would you mind telling me why, or when, you fell in love with him?"
"Uh," said Makeda, feeling herself blushing. Her ears twitched. "At first sight. There was a connection between us immediately, a compatibility. I just knew, and every moment with him, from work to relaxation, has shown me that this feeling was right. That he is the one for me."
"Wow," said Mash, blushing as well.
It was that moment that Ritsuka chose to return. They looked between Makeda and Mash, confused. "Sorry, am I interrupting something?"
"Nope," said Makeda, standing. "We are done I believe?"
Mash nodded. "We are. Thank you." She stood as well. "Mash Kyrielight, ready to move out.
Ritsuka nodded, smiling. "Let's go."
Author's Note: And we're back. This took a while to write because I batch write. You might notice that this is labeled as Part 1… yeah, we're going to be in London for a while. Which I'm obviously fine with, it's one of (if not my most) favorite Singularity. I just love the London crew so much. Also, Transman Mordred is the name of the game, so please respect him in the comments.