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.
Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise
Chapter 8: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 4
Roman watched as the Chaldea staff worked furiously to strengthen the signals of their equipment and keep track of the team as they went lower and lower into the underground beneath London. The image had wavered a bit as they had entered the first tunnel, but it soon stabilized and never dropped. As they proceeded and the signal was clearly staying strong, he could see the techs relaxing slightly in their seats, at least knowing they would be able to witness the following events.
He relaxed a bit himself, unclenching his hand and staring at the back of it. His glove blocked the Command Seals from view, but he knew that for now he had only one left. Like Ritsuka's, his should return as well, fueled by the unique pact created with a Chaldea summoning. But that would be days away, and he prayed he would not need more than one for what was to happen. It had been necessary to bolster Makeda's power, especially against the Helter Skelters, but he had been hesitant to do so. Only the Shin remained lit for now, the star bearing his father's name faded.
"They're almost there," said Da Vinci, joining him at his command post overlooking the room. "That program you wrote up to narrow our sensor equipment has done wonders."
He smiled at her. "Thanks, but you're the one who tightened the equipment on our end. And who ran things for me while I did so."
Da Vinci nodded, taking the thanks before frowning. "Why have you been taking such a back seat? Even if you were working hard, which you were, there was no reason you couldn't take command and talk to them in between. Are you trying to avoid something?"
"Nothing gets past you," he said, sighing. "The more times I broadcast into this particular Singularity, the more times I risk my identity being sensed and discovered. More than any of the others, it's being monitored."
"The person who incinerated humanity."
"You know who it is?"
"I suspect," he said. "And so does Makeda. That's why we she needed to go in."
"But won't her existence compromise things as well?"
"Probably," he said. "But it will act as a distraction of his attention. Plus, if she didn't, then we would have no way to prevent a possible tragedy…"
Da Vinci sighed. "You're scaring me with all that doom and gloom talk. I hate that I can't know what's about to happen…"
"Sir," said a tech, looking up from their station to Roman. "Readings are indicating an increase in the density of Demonic Fog."
He leaned forward in his seat. "How are everyone's life signs doing?"
"Holding steady," said a second tech. "Even Ritsuka's. It seems that the protection Mash extends to them is keeping them safe even in this."
He let out a sigh of relief. "That's good. How are our sensors holding up?"
"Still strong," replied a third tech. "We can only monitor a limited section like this with little margin of error, but it seems confirmed that we'll be able to follow the whole situation. As long as we don't need to follow a second group."
"Good." He stood, looking over the techs. "Everyone prepare yourselves. Expect this to be the hardest, most uncertain fight we've been in yet. We're not fighting on the ground, but we'll need to support those who are. Let's get them home safe."
There were cheers and nods of agreement as everyone went back to work. Roman sat back down, sighing as he did. Da Vinci looked at him, studying him. "I hope that means everyone."
He nodded. "So do I." He wasn't sure he believed that was possible anymore though.
Mash followed Makeda out of the twisting tunnel they had been traversing to emerge into a large underground cavern. The ceiling was several stories high, and the ground stretched for just as far in every direction. A place that likely shouldn't exist in 1888 London. The entire cavern was covered in thick purple fog. She looked to Ritsuka, but they seemed to be fine, unaffected by it. That was good. She had been concerned, unsure of what to do if Senpai couldn't survive this close to the source.
Speaking of, on the far side of the cavern she saw a large machine, fog belching from pipes sticking out of it. Standing before the machine was a man, his back to them. When they entered, spreading out in the cavern, the man turned to look at them. He looked to be a regular man. Average height and build, with well-kept hair. He was wearing nice clothes and a heavy cloak that would have blended in anywhere in the current London. It was his eyes that stood out to Mash. Not that they were red, but the disgust in them as they looked over the group. Disdain. Cold and cruel. There was another aspect to him that made Mash uncomfortable in his presence.
"Hey, you," said Mordred, moving to the front of the group and taking the lead. His helmet was back on and his sword was at the ready. "What the hell!? You're no Servant. What's a regular human doing standing in all of this shit like everything's fine?"
"Welcome members of Chaldea," said the man, ignoring Mordred. He looked over the group, his gaze cold. "I see that the man Lev Lainur talked about is still not here, even while his Servant is. That is most impressive. But no matter, this all ends now."
"But how can it end without us ever even knowing the final player's name?" asked Mr. Shakespeare, still looking as chipper as ever.
"My name is Makiri Zolgen," said the man.
"The first leader of Project Demonic Fog and the Mastermind known as 'M', correct?" said Mr. Andersen.
A nod. "It is. Angrboda was created to destroy all of England, and soon it will do so."
"But why?" asked Ritsuka. "If you're a human, why would you destroy humanity? Don't you belong to this era as well?"
"I do," said Zolgen. "But that is a stupid question. My king ordered me to do this, so I will. My king's wish is to remove the world's ugliness, and that is a goal I agree with. Humanity will wipe itself out soon enough, so what is it really to move the end up a few centuries? This way, the planet can be saved."
Mash couldn't believe what she was hearing. That was an insane proclamation. The other Singularities had been caused by twisted Heroic Spirits. How could a human do something like this?
Mordred started to move towards Zolgen, sword at the ready. "You can stop talking now. We're going to defeat you, then smash that toy of yours over there. You can't stop me."
Zolgen started to laugh, a twisted smile on his face. "No, you don't understand. In moments, a proper Heroic Spirit, able to activate this fog and destroy London will be summoned. It is you who can't stop this. You don't have the ability to defeat me."
Before they could react, Zolgen's body started to change; warping and growing. In an instant, a giant worm stood before them. Large eyes covered every portion of his body, twisting and looking right at them. A booming voice came from the worm. "I, the Demon God Barbatos will kill you here and now." Powerful magical blasts shot out from the eyes right towards them.
Mash rushed forward and planted her shield, raising a barrier. It prevented the initial barrage of bolts, but shattered on the last one, causing her to stumble backwards. Ritsuka caught her, helping her stabilize. She gave them a smile of thanks.
As soon as the barrage was done, the other Servants jumped into action. Mordred and Makeda ran towards the worm, ready to engage. Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Andersen started to chant, magical energy building up around them. Magical vines grew around Barbatos, holding him down. He wriggled and strained, breaking them within moments. But that hesitation allowed Mordred to close the distance. Barbatos tried to fire another barrage, but each and every shot was interrupted by fantastical creations out of fairy tales. Mermaids, bluebirds and creatures of flames took the attacks for Mordred, losing their lives to protect him.
The knight didn't hesitate to thrust his sword into the nearest eye, the weapon sliding in easily. A cry to pain echoed through the cavern, dust being kicked up as Barbatos twisted around to crush him. Mordred removed his sword and leapt up into the air and out of the way. Lightning crackled around him and he threw his sword, the lightning going with it. The blade struck another eye, the energy around it discharging as it did so. A powerful explosion rocked the cavern, deafening Mash momentarily.
Mordred followed his sword, coming down atop Barbatos. He stomped down hard with his boot, smashing another eye and sending ichor fountaining up into the air to cover him. The remaining eyes glowed and set more beams into the air. This time they curved around, seeking Mordred. Sword less, he ran across the giant worm, ducking and dodging beams. The beams curved so they never hit Barbatos, instead looping back around to chase the knight, a never-ending threat. Luckily, Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Andersen rushed to his rescue, creating magical constructs that would intercept the attacks, taking them instead.
Mash wanted to rush forward to help, but as more and more beams were sent out into the chamber in an all-consuming light show, she found herself needing to stay back to protect Ritsuka and the writers. With a combination of physically interposing herself and barriers, Mash kept them safe so that they could protect Mordred. She felt powerless, but she knew that if she didn't, it would all be over in seconds.
On the worm, Mordred stopped suddenly, digging his heels into the fleshy mass. Lightning built around him and he shot into the air over a pair of beams that had been chasing them. He landed back on the worm in a sprint, heading towards where his sword was still buried. As a new beam came towards him, he rolled under it and then leapt off Barbatos once more. His hand reached out and found purchase on his sword. It stopped his momentum as he grabbed it and flipped himself back up into the air. Sparks raced across his sword, melting the flesh around it and allowing it to slip free with him.
He landed on the ground, sword swatting at a beam and cutting it in half. The halves struck the ground to either side of him, failing to hurt him. He smirked at the Demon God. "Is that all you've got?" he asked. "I could do this all day."
"Foolish knight," said Barbatos, rounding on him. "The power given to me by my king is infinite. Yours is a spark in the night, mine a star. You will fall, failing to protect anyone. There is nothing that you can do to defeat me."
Mordred shrugged. "Yeah, I know," he said. He smirked. "But what about her?"
Mash finally noticed Makeda, who she realized had been missing since the start of the fight. She was currently kneeling on top of Barbatos, an aura of magical energy built up around her. Her hand reached out and touched the Demon God. As she did, the magical energy surrounding her released, flooding into the giant worm. From where she touched, he broke apart. The energy raced over him before he could react, destroying him completely. A cloud of dust fell to the ground but was blown apart as in the center of it was Makeda, slowly floating down with a gust of wind surrounding her.
Mordred walked over to Makeda, sword resting on his shoulder, and held a fist out to her. "Good job Caster. Guess that answers the question of what you can do."
Makeda studied the knight for a moment before smiling and fist bumping him. "That it would. I must say, I like having a young knight to run around and be a distraction. It makes me feel like a king again. Would you be interested in keeping with this arrangement?"
A laugh. "In your dreams. Let's finish this quick. I've got places I need to be."
"With your girlfriend?"
A sputtering cough. "What? No no no. She's not my girlfriend. She's just…uh…" Mordred gestured to Mash and the others. "Get your asses over here! We've got work to do."
Mash fought back a smile as she jogged over with the others close behind her. As she approached, she saw something moving among the large piles of dust that had been left behind with Barbatos' deconstruction. Mordred and Makeda didn't need to hear her warning, both turning around to face the dust pile. Zolgen Makiri rose shakily from the dust, cuts all over his body and blood drenching his clothes. One eye was shut, blood dripping out from underneath the lid.
"Seriously?" asked Mordred, keeping his sword at the ready. "You're not dead yet? Don't you know when to just give in and die?"
"I do not," replied Zolgen. "And unfortunately for you, my death would be too late to prevent the destruction that is to come."
Magical energy built up around Zolgen's hand. Without hesitation, Mordred closed the distance between them with a leap and brought his sword through the air, taking off Zolgen's head. The two parts fell to the ground, sending dust into the air. Zolgen's hand hit the ground and a magical circle lit up under Mordred's feet. A summoning circle. He leapt backwards to not get caught in it as a flash of red light forced Mash to look away.
When she was able to see again, there was a man standing in the center of the circle. He was wearing an outfit like any Mash had seen before. Half of it was a nicely tailored purple uniform but was covered on his right side by a mechanical apparatus with glowing lights and antenna sticking up. Blue lightning crackled around him. No, she blinked and saw he wasn't standing but floating, his feet not touching the ground. The man's eyes were cold and calculating as he looked around the fog filled cavern, his eyes glossing over the gathered group like they were as unimportant as the stones around them. Without saying anything, the man's eyes fell on the exit from the cavern and he started to float towards it.
"Hey you," yelled Mordred, clearly annoyed at being ignored. The man did not halt at his words. "Come back here!"
Mordred looked about to leap at the man, but Makeda's hand moved to rest firmly on his shoulder. He glanced at her, confused. Everyone knew she couldn't physically restrain the knight under any circumstance, but Mash found her caution concerning. Why weren't they doing anything as this man, a Servant, left in front of them.
"Wait," said Makeda, her voice low and forceful. She glanced to the rest of them, her gaze as serious as any Mash had ever seen. "No one move until I tell you to. A wrong move right now could equal death."
"What do you mean?" asked Mash. The man had ignored them completely and didn't look like he would attack them. He had a powerful air about him, but not one that seemed like he could kill them like Makeda was implying. "What's going on?"
"That man is the Servant Zolgen summoned, is he not?" asked Mr. Shakespeare. "He was talking of a Servant who could use the fog to destroy London. Why are we not going after him?"
"Because he will not allow us to," said Makeda.
"The Servant?" asked Ritsuka.
"No," replied Makeda. "Saber, Mash and Ritsuka. When I give you the signal, chase after that Servant. Defeat him at all costs, understood?"
"And us?" asked Mr. Andersen, frowning.
"We will be holding the line here and destroying that machine, if possible."
"Holding the line against what?" asked Mordred, looking on edge. Mash followed his gaze and saw the Servant exiting the cavern. Who knew what would happen when he made it into the city?
"Against me," said a powerful voice. It seemed to come from everywhere at once. A deep male voice, Mash felt suffocated by those simple words. She turned and saw that now standing between them and Angrboda was a dark-skinned man in a heavy white robe. The robe was of fine make, with red and black accents and gold around his neckline. A long sleeve covered one arm, while the other was cut off, leaving a bare, heavily tattooed arm bearing golden rings around his fingers and thumb. He had long white hair that was braided with dozens of red beads worked into the braid. But what caught Mash the most, that took her breath away, was the sheer force that radiated from his golden eyes.
"Who's that?" whispered Ritsuka, sounding frightened. Mash agreed with her Senpai, something about this man terrified her. What terrified her more than his aura though, was the sense of familiarity she had of him.
"I am the Grand Caster," replied the man. His expression was blank as it scanned over them. Where the earlier Servant had ignored them, this man's gaze seemed to see into their souls. And in the judgement, he gave them, Mash felt like an ant about to be crushed. "I am also the king who sent Lev Lainur to Chaldea and commanded Zolgen Makiri to destroy London. I am the Mastermind of the incineration of Humanity. I, am your final enemy, Servants of Chaldea."
Mash could not move her body, even if she wanted to, so paralyzed with awe. She could not believe it then as Makeda moved towards the man, arms open in welcome. "Ah, my king, it is good to see you again." And then, if her words weren't baffling enough, Makeda fell to one knee and bowed her head.
"You have always known how to properly prostrate yourself," said the man, his voice still empty of emotion. "You will get no leniency from me this time, regardless of how you act. Since you were summoned as a Servant by Chaldea, that has placed you as my enemy. No past can change that."
Makeda still kept her head bowed low. "As Heroic Spirits, all we have is the past. It defines us. No summoning will change what we shared, my king."
The man studied her for a moment. "I have to wonder if that is true. If it was, then there is no way anyone else besides me could have summoned you. But you did not come to my side to destroy Humanity. Instead, you are on the side of Chaldea, serving a Master that has been described to me as 'of no importance'. How is it a man like that could summon someone like you?"
"I could not say."
"If you do not have the answer to that question, then there is no more reason to keep any of you alive," said the man. He raised his hand and an unbelievable amount of magical energy built up in front of it. In a matter of moments, Mash was staring at the most powerful magical attack she had ever seen, created with little to no visible effort or incantations. That should not be possible, but it was clearly there. Her heart tightened as she realized what Makeda had been warning them about. Mordred's grip tightened around his sword, looking ready to jump and attack at any moment. He was strong, but how would he defeat something like that?
"I call upon the powers of my Three Enigmas!" yelled Makeda, standing suddenly and holding her hands out before her. "Achat, Shatyim and Shalosh!" Colored balls of energy appeared around Makeda. Blue, orange, and purple. Inside of each Mash could vaguely make out the furry forms of the respective spirits. The balls glowed brighter and brighter until the Enigmas were hidden from view.
As Makeda built up her energy, Mash glanced over to the Grand Caster. His expression was blank, emotionless as his finger flicked out. The energy in his palm exploded outward into a powerful beam that threatened to engulf them. It spread out and Mash calculated if she could get Ritsuka out of the way but realized she couldn't. She prepared her shield, but her palms were sweaty, and she didn't think she could ever hold off an attack of this strength. She was a hundred years too early for that. Maybe the Spirit inside of her could, but she couldn't. She was going to die…
"Do not give in!" yelled Makeda, snapping Mash out of her thoughts. She gestured and each of her Enigmas shot out their own beam of elemental magical energy. The three beams fused together into a prismatic beam of energy that slammed into the void that was heading towards them. The two beams collided and halted, struggling against each other.
Mash felt a hand on her shoulder. Mordred, helmet up, was pulling her away from the battle. "Now," he said. "That's the signal."
Mash nodded, gripping her shield tightly. Mordred sheathed his sword and didn't bother to ask for permission as he scooped Ritsuka up in his arms and ran towards the exit as fast as he could. Less encumbered, mash did the same, focusing on nothing else but putting one foot in front of the other. The pressure at her back was great, threatening to bring her to her knees in despair. But she knew she couldn't give in. Moving forward, that was the only option to her. The option Makeda had given her the ability to choose. She wouldn't let it go to waste.
The air and earth shook as something changed in the battle behind her, but Mash kept running. After an eternity, they reached the cavern exit. And they kept running. Back up the way they had come down just a short while before. Even now, never looking back just running. Running for the surface. Running after their foe. Running for the sake of humanity. Running. Because there was nothing else they could do.
Makeda grit her teeth, digging her traveling boots into the cavern ground, bracing herself as much as she could. Next to her Achat, Shatyim and Shalosh strobed brightly, their lights fluctuating as they released every bit of energy they had been storing up over the past months. Borrowing a little bit here and a little bit there from the Chaldea Reactor, from Roman's mana supply and from some intact artifacts they had nabbed from the Clock Tower. That one mage's secret stash of gemstones that Achat had found had been particularly useful. It had been worth the risk sending her off to search while they had been underground looking for the archive.
Now, as all her preparation came to fruition, it was still clearly not enough. She had known it would not be, but that had not stopped her from hoping that maybe it would be. But she had no other choice. She could still hear the children running behind her. While they were there, she could not give in. She could not stop. Humanity needed to be saved. Mash needed to be safe.
There was a sudden shift, heralded by no words. With effortless exertion, the Fake Grand Caster sent a burst of mana into his magical attack, sending it ripping through hers. There was nothing else she could do to sustain the attack without calling back Arba, but she couldn't…it was too soon…
Makeda felt a light pressure to either side of her back. One on her right shoulder, the other on the small of her back. Warm hands felt even through her clothes. And more than the hands, was the mana. An influx of magical directed her with intent and purpose. Strengthening her, revitalizing her.
"We are still here for you, my lady," said the confident voice of Shakespeare. "Through thick and thin."
"The truth is a joke," said Andersen, annoyed like usual. "Writers should not get involved with the players. But I guess that's were this is going. So, why fight it."
"Thank you," said Makeda. She focused on stabilizing her magical blast. After a moment she did, halting the advance of the black void. And now that she had the assistance of the writers, both powerful mages in their own unique ways, she was truly able to fight back.
She molded her magical energy, turning it into a cone. She then pushed the cone forward, sending it ripping through the void blast. She lengthened and slimmed the cone as it went, keeping the tip thin and powerful while keeping the back flared outward. Doing so allowed the void energy to finally rush over it. A pocket of safe space was created behind her blast, where they and the cavern exit were, but allowing the rest to blast around then. Stone melted and bubbled, heat blasting around then for the few precious moments, but it was nothing she could not handle.
Makeda's magical blast tore through the Fake Grand Caster's attack. Before he could respond it broke out of his and struck him. Or at least it tried. The attack landed within a hair length but stopped. The next instant both attacks broke apart, their forms collapsing. Her Enigmas blinked out of reality, retreating for a brief respite in the pocket dimension she kept them in. Shakespeare and Andersen let go of her back and moved to stand side by side with her, surveying their opponent.
"Of course, he's undamaged," said Andersen. "What the heck is a final boss doing here?"
Shakespeare shrugged. "It is just how things turned out, is it not? Why stress over something we simple actors do not have a choice over?"
"I'm no actor or player," replied Andersen. "I'm a writer, and this is bullshit."
Makeda nodded, never taking her eyes off the calm, unphased form of the Fake Grand Caster. "I agree, but it is what it is. I will need your help to hold him off. If you want to retreat, I will not hold it against you."
"You won't be able to hold against him either," replied Andersen with a sneer. "It's a false choice and we all know it. Ah hell, whatever. Let's do this."
"It shall be a nice change of scenery," said Shakespeare, sounding excited. "My soul is terrified with awe, but my writer's heart beats in excitement."
"Thank you," said Makeda. "If we are to hold him off long enough for the children to succeed and to correct this Singularity, then you will need to follow my instructions to the letter. Understood?"
Mutters of assent. Good enough. She continued, "That means no engaging him in banter or snarky comments. Talk only between us. He's a mirror and engaging him will reflect your actions back towards us."
"So, you're saying he pisses off easily," said Andersen. "Great, just great."
"It is fortuitous that we got Sir Mordred out of here then," said Shakespeare with a light laugh. "I believe that this foe would be unstoppable with him around."
Makeda allowed herself a laugh as well. "That he would be. I will engage him. Please, support me with your words."
"And that means?" said Shakespeare. "I like to decode riddles in the best of times, but this hardly seems like those."
"I know how both of you use magic. It is not like modern Magecraft. Not like my old magic either. But it is exactly what we need now." She took a few steps forward then turned around, risking revealing her back to the Fake Grand Caster. She bowed deeply to the writers. "Please, help me write the story of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba defeating Solomon, the King of Mages."
There was surprise on both of their faces, but it quickly morphed into smiles. The pair returned her bow, Shakespeare's a lot more dramatic, but Andersen's was at least a little respectful. "Of course we will," said Shakespeare. "I believe the new tale of a warrior queen may be appropriate here?"
Andersen shrugged. "Sure, why not? It can't hurt to try such a method. Just staring at that man gives me writer's block. I can feel the deadline creeping up on me, and I hate it."
"Now," said Shakespeare with a flourish. "May I have the queen's hand for this next bit?"
Makeda straightened and held out her hand to his, a smile on her face. "You may, Master Bard. How shall this tale begin?"
"It will begin with an apology," said Shakespeare, speaking to the cheap seats. "I do hope that our dear audience may forgive us if, in a time as dire as this, that the writers shall take to the stage themselves. Whilst not our preference, to keep this show going with the short supply of actors, it is a dreadful necessity. And I would lie if I said I were not excited about doing so. But let us not dally too much more, and let this act begin!"
It had been a pleasant surprise when his calculations had been correct. When the Fake Grand Caster had appeared, Chaldea's monitors had wavered, but adjustments for the likely interrupting frequencies had done their job. So, they had been able to witness from the control room as death had headed towards those inside the Singularity. Roman's chest had been tight as he'd watched Makeda prevent that death. There had been nothing for them to do, nothing they could do.
At least, until Mash and the others had run into the cavern tunnel after the escaped Servant. That had brought about a choice Roman had hoped to never need to make.
"Doctor," said one of the techs. "They're splitting up. What do we do?"
Roman took a deep breath, trying not to hesitate as he responded. "Direct all monitoring equipment to Mash. Make sure we don't lose them at any cost."
There were concerned mutters from around the room. Confused looks shared among techs. "We're not going to try to monitor both?" asked another tech.
Luckily, Da Vinci was there to answer. "We've done a lot to strengthen our equipment and signals, but splitting would be too much. We wouldn't see anything from either group. We might even lose their signals for good and be unable to find either again."
Nods of understanding and everyone moved to follow his orders. Roman released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding in. One step down.
"Now what?" asked Da Vinci, looking at him in concern. "Got another brilliant plan?"
He smiled at her, feeling oddly confident. "I do." He had gotten permission to do this, but it still felt like a violation of privacy. But it was better than not knowing what was going on, right? "Please enter the code to initiate SHEBA."
That once again sent the room into a buzz. This time, it was Da Vinci who asked the question. "SHEBA? What's that system going to do here? It's not meant for monitoring this type of situation."
"Not normally," replied Roman. Something occurred to him and he leaned over his console. "Actually, switch control of SHEBA to my console, I'll get this done." Quickly muttered assent and furious typing. "How's that signal honing going?"
"Ready to switch over at any moment."
"Do it now."
"Don't you want us to wait until we get that backup going?"
He shook his head. "It's not really a backup. And it doesn't need any signal coordination either."
A pause. "Understood. Swapping all monitoring to follow Mash's team now." The monitors around the room that had started to be filled with static swapped back over to a crisp image of Mash, Mordred and Ritsuka running up a fog filled tunnel back to the surface of London. Makeda's image was gone completely, as if the black void that had been bearing down on her had swallowed her whole.
Roman felt cold for a brief moment. His screen brightened as a tech signaled that control of SHEBA had been given to him. He clicked the proper commands, the system as intimately familiar to him as a part of his body. Da Vinci watched over his shoulder with rapt curiosity. He entered the final string of data inputs and clicked to start the system.
The center row of monitor screens that had been left blank during the operation turned on. They were for SHEBA, and never displayed images, just data. Except now, crisp images appeared on those screens and mirrored onto his console. There were gasps of surprise from the techs as Shakespeare and Andersen came into view.
"That shouldn't be possible," said Da Vinci. She studied it. "How is SHEBA getting this?"
The writers bowed to the monitor, their mouths moving but no sound coming through. Roman tapped a command and took over a speaker, broadcasting over the control room what was being said. Shakespeare's voice came through as if he was in the room with them. "I believe the new tale of a warrior queen may be appropriate here?"
Da Vinci's eyes widened. "Wait, this isn't what I think it is, is it?"
Roman nodded. "It is." He made sure to project, explaining to the entire room. "SHEBA as a system can't usually be used to monitor situations like this. But, right now it is synchronized with someone who is on the same frequency as it."
"Makeda," said Da Vinci. "We're seeing through her eyes and ears."
"How is that possible?" asked a tech.
"Makeda is the Queen of Sheba," explained Roman. "She was said to have sight and senses beyond that of a regular person. Her abilities were, likely unconsciously, the basis for what became our SHEBA system. The name was much more fitting that Lev Lainur realized." Or had it just been meant for irony? Well, there was no asking the man in question anymore.
As they watched, Makeda took Shakespeare's hand. There was a bright glow and she was now holding a beautiful crafted sword. It bore no resemblance to anything from her myth, but it might just be what they needed now. His eyes moved back and forth between Makeda and Mash, his mind running through all possibilities as they both prepared to rush into danger. One problem had been solved; now how could he get it so they both returned alive?
"I hope that this weapon will suffice?" said Shakespeare. "Forged of the finest metal, an intricately decorated handle and guard that does not sacrifice comfort or ease of use, balanced to perfect harmony and all of it polished to a perfect shine."
Makeda gave him a grateful smile. "You are such a masterful smith with your words," she said, truly impressed. She slashed the sword through the air a few times and felt that each of his words bore true. As it should, since the whole thing was a shadow created by his words and nothing more. Powered by his words and description, Makeda now held a weapon that could be called just short of a Noble Phantasm. She hoped that they could close that gap quickly. The Fake Grand Caster would not wait around for them forever. No matter how little threat he felt from them.
"Poetic," said Andersen dryly. He flashed a smile. "I agree that it fits the description, but she's not a warrior Queen."
"Ah," said Shakespeare dramatically. "You are right!"
"Of course I am. See, if it were me that sword would be able to be wielded by any person, the blade turning them into a warrior without parallel. Skip the boring stuff that no one reads, those dumb training montages, we've got magic after all. Go right to the good stuff."
A brilliant deduction like always," said Makeda. She put on a dramatic pout. "Is there anything that can be done about that?"
Shakespeare snapped his fingers. "Of course! It is never too late to refine a work of art. A last-minute edit can always be added. I may write the script, but you are the one to act it out. A script is the bare bones, and a production is what makes it truly shine."
Makeda swung the sword again and felt magic running from the sword through her. Her muscles tightened and tensed. A switch was flipped in her mind, and suddenly the effort it took to swing dropped. She knew exactly how to swing the weapon. How to use it. Perfect.
"Thank you both," said Makeda, turning from them, sword at the ready. "I hope while I put on the show that you will still back me up from the wings."
"Wings?" asked Andersen. "There are none. We're on stage too, you know."
"Getting stage fright?" asked Makeda.
"Of course! But if that's what it takes to make the deadline, I guess I'll put up with it."
"Thank you," said Makeda. Then, no longer hesitating, she ran magic through her body and leapt towards her foe at lightning speed. The gap between her and the Fake Grand Caster was closed in an instant. She swung her sword through the air, hoping to catch him off guard.
Of course, it could never be that simple. An eye covered tentacle sprung up in the space between them, taking the attack. The blade cut halfway through before getting stuck. The Fake Grand Caster lifted his hand and another magical bolt shot out at her. Knowing that releasing the sword would be death, Makeda flipped into the air, kicked off the tentacle and pulled the sword out. The sliding motion cut through the rest of the tentacle, freeing her sword easily. Doing so also moved her out of the way of the blast.
She fell backwards towards the ground. The Fake Grand Caster readjusted his aim, ready to fire again. A gust of wind shot from beneath her, sending her back towards her foe. Her sword came around to slice him in half. The Fake Grand Caster was forced to abort his attack, instead needing to leap backwards to avoid being cut.
Makeda pushed her advantage, planting her feet and thrusting her free hand out. Fire built up and then unleashed and engulfed her foe. Three more tentacles, each an unembodied Demon God, appeared to block her attack. Their flesh burnt and sizzled, but Makeda knew that it would hardly matter. None of them could be truly killed. Of course, killing them was not the point.
Magical bolts shot to either side of the distracted tentacles, aiming for their master. Two more, one to each side, sprouted from the ground, blocking the attacks. Andersen and Shakespeare didn't let the barriers stop them in their attacks, continuing firing at the tentacles.
"Do we need to keep feeding you lines?" asked Andersen. "Finish the act already."
"Use the magic words," said Shakespeare brightly.
Makeda frowned, thinking. "What magic words?" she asked, keeping up the stream of fire.
"The ones to activate the sword of course," said Andersen. "You think an item like that wouldn't have more abilities behind a code?"
"Just repeat after me," said Shakespeare. And then, he said the words, and even with her keen hearing she couldn't believe what she'd just heard.
In the command room of Chaldea, everything went quiet. Roman felt a blush coming to his face as everyone turned and looked at him. He looked away but was stuck having to stare at Da Vinci's smug shit eating grin instead.
Makeda repeated the words, quietly, under her breath. But with her hearing and the SHEBA system, they heard everything. Nothing happened though.
"You need to speak them louder, and with the feeling of your very soul!" yelled Shakespeare. "Shout it to the heavens!"
"Stopping messing with me!" said Makeda, sounding embarrassed.
"This is no joke," said Andersen, dead serious for once. "The words are an important part of the process. Say them."
A deep sigh, a tightening of a grip on a sword. The Command Room held their breath, Roman sank deeper into his chair and…
"In the name of my true love Romani Archaman, I strike thee down!" Massive amounts of magical energy started to radiate from Makeda's sword, released by shouting the code. She swung the blade and it cut through all three Demon Gods in front of her with ease.
"Wow," said Da Vinci. "You love is very powerful apparently."
"Please kill me," muttered Roman.
Author's Note: For a scumbag, Zolgen Makiri has a fantastic design. It's always cool how FGO got him in since he was alive during this period (character material also says that at some point he met and knew Da Vinci while she was alive). Have I mentioned how much I love writing Andersen and Shakespeare? They allow things to get super meta.
Extra Note: Thank you to the person who noticed my brain stopped working and had Anderson instead of Andersen. That has been fixed in all chapters.