Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Fate.
Warning: Contains spoilers for all of Arc 1 of Fate/Grand Order.
Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise
Chapter 1: The Time of Reunion has Come
"Well, I didn't expect you'd get this far. Beyond my plan's expectations and my own tolerances. Master Candidate number forty-eight, it was my mistake to naively overlook you as an improbable child."
From his place in the observation room in Chaldea, Doctor Romani Archaman couldn't believe what he was hearing. That voice, that mysterious voice that he recognized. Whispering broke out through the room as the other survivors of the staff started to mutter among themselves, having recognized the voice as well. It couldn't be…
"Professor Lev?" asked Mash, her voice crackling through the observation comms. Roman's heart sunk at this confirmation.
"Lev?!" he said, leaning on the comms console. "Professor Lev, you say? He's there?"
"Hm, is that Romani I hear? So, you survived as well." The voice was cruel, the tone different than Romani remembered, but still unmistakably the same man. Showing his true colors, like Roman had suspected all along. "I told you to come to the command room immediately, but it seems you didn't listen. Honestly… Trash who can't even follow orders. Just the mere sight of it makes me want to throw up. Why is it that humans always try to avoid their preordained destinies?"
Roman didn't have visuals currently, there was too much magical energy in their air where Mash, Olga and Ritsuka were currently, but he could tell just from the tone of the conversation that something bad was about to happen. He cursed his powerlessness as Mash's terrified voice came through.
"Senpai, fall back! Fall back, please!" The sounds of shuffling. "That person is dangerous…Th-that isn't the Professor lev that we know!"
The sound of walking, getting fainter from the observation point that was currently centered on Mash's magical signature. Roman's heart dropped as he realized that the footsteps were moving towards Lev.
"Lev…" The voice of Olga Marie. Desperate and searching for comfort. "Oh, Lev! Lev! You're alive! Thank goodness! Without you, I don't know how I could protect Chaldea!"
Mash's voice, equally desperate. "Director don't! That man is…"
"Hi Olga, you seem well." That false sense of comfort was once again in Lev's voice as he spoke. This time, Roman could clearly hear the mocking as well. The contempt. "Looks like you've had a rough time, too."
"Yes, yes, that's right, Lev!" Roman's heart sunk, and while he didn't have clairvoyance anymore in this form, he knew that this moment was one that was going to change everything. "The command room blew up, the city's in ruins, and I can't return to Chaldea! I'm going crazy from all of these unforeseen complications! But it's okay, as long as you're here we'll be fine, right? That's how it's always been, right? You'll help me this time too, won't you?"
"Yes, of course." The footsteps stopped. "Just take this seed and eat it. All of these messy complications will disappear when you do so."
A chill went down Roman's spine. Something was wrong. He didn't know what, or how he could tell, but this wasn't what was supposed to happen. He switched on the comms and yelled into them. "Director, don't do it!" No response. "Mash, stop her!"
"It's too late Doctor," said the snide voice of Lev. The wind started to howl, and cries of surprise came from Mash and Ritsuka. From Olga there was silence, and then, there was screaming. Lev's voice broke through, sounding excited. "Yes, Olga. Don't fight it, embrace it. Soon, you will have the power you always wanted, the ability to end all of the complications."
As the screaming continued, Roman snapped off the channel and turned on a different one, this one to the engineering department. "Da Vinci," he yelled. "Are you there?"
"Loud and clear," said the confident voice. "I've been listening in to the transmissions from Singularity F. I assume you also have a bad feeling?"
Roman allowed himself a half-smile. "That's a genius for you. Something is very wrong, and I don't think it's something Ritsuka and Mash are going to be able to deal with on their own."
"Sir," said a technician, getting his attention. There was fear in her voice. She pointed to a magical gauge. "I don't recognize this pattern, and the readings are pushing at the edges of the gauge. They may even be exceeding what we can measure."
He looked over at the readings. They confirmed his greatest fear. He spoke into the comm to Da Vinci. "Yes, it's exactly what I feared. These are readings that shouldn't exist in this era. An impossible existence." He didn't dare to say aloud what the readings actually meant. They weren't something anyone in this era was supposed to know.
Da Vinci luckily understood what he meant, even if he didn't say it. "While you've been guiding them through the situation, I managed to repair one of the Coffins. We can send someone in to assist them."
"We don't have anyone, that's why we sent them in in the first place," he said. He couldn't believe he needed to remind her of that.
"I can go in," replied Da Vinci, her voice calm.
"No, you can't!" he yelled into the comm.
"Yes, I can. As a Heroic Spirit, I can travel into a Singularity if I wish."
He shook his head; even though she couldn't see the motion. "That's not what I mean. You're an existence bound to Chaldea. We don't know what will happen if you leave. You may be able to manifest in a Singularity, but you may never be able to return. It's all a big unknown, and we can't risk losing you."
Screaming burst from the Singularity F monitoring unit. An inhuman cry, a yell of fear from Ritusuka, the sound of claw on metal, Mash yelling for Ritsuka to stay behind her. "Director…" muttered Mash. "Fight it…"
"Give in Olga!" yelled Lev. "Give up your weak human self. You're not the spirit of the deceased Chaldea Director Olga Marie Animusphere anymore, but the Demon God Amon. Accept it!"
"I'm going in," said Da Vinci, her voice determined.
"No!" said Roman. "That's an order!"
"Mash's vitals are at a dangerous level!" said the tech, her face white. "She can't handle much more of this!"
Roman tightened his fist in frustration. Underneath his glove, he felt the metal of his ring rubbing against his skin.
"There's no one else who can do this," said Da Vinci.
"Yes," said Roman, unclenching his fist. He let out the breath he'd been holding in. A heavy sigh. "There is."
"Sir?" asked the tech, looking confused. "What do you mean? All Master Candidates have been put in suspended animation. No one else on the staff scored high enough to complete a Rayshift into the Singularity."
"No one on file is listed as being able to do so," he said. "But I administered the tests for candidates, there's one person who's results never made it to the official records."
"Who?" asked the tech. Everyone in the room was exchanging confused glances. Who among them was it?
Da Vinci's voice crackled over the comm. "Roman…"
He gave a nervous laugh. "I assume you've figured it out already Da Vinci, since you're a genius after all. Please, prepare the Coffin for me, I'll be there immediately."
A pause. "Will do. Da Vinci, signing off."
"Doctor?" asked a different tech, walking up to him. "You're able to Rayshift?"
He flashed a comforting smile, although he could tell instantly it came off as awkward instead. He still wasn't good at stuff like this. "Yeah, but only the old Director and I were aware. And Da Vinci I guess. No surprise there."
"But, are you even a trained mage?" asked another tech.
He rubbed the back of his head. "A little bit. It's complicated." He frowned. "But you'll just need to trust me. Prepare the Rayshift process and get ready to confirm my exist in the singularity. Get me as close to Mash and Ritsuka as you can."
Roman left the room, the door sliding shut behind him. He took a heavy breath and then started to run down the ruined halls, heading towards the coffins. The door opened for him and he came into what looked like a graveyard. Rows upon rows of Master Candidates, all frozen inside the aptly named Coffins. Da Vinci stood by an open Coffin; her arms crossed as she waited for his arrival.
"Took you long enough."
"Sorry about that," he replied. "The staff was curious."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Do I have a choice?" Mash's cries echoed through a small comm panel that Da Vinci had near to the Coffin. Ritsuka was yelling for help, and it was all that the techs could do to urge them to stay calm. "See? This is all I can think off to do."
"Are you thinking, or are you feeling?" asked Da Vinci, her voice suspicious.
He shrugged. "I'm not sure I've ever been able to tell the difference. But unless the connection restored itself in this form, then this is just plain old Roman, lost for solutions without assistance. Honestly, I was hoping you'd have another idea on my way down here."
He started to climb into the Coffin. Da Vinci turned towards the panel, her back to him. "Nothing. What do you plan to do in there?"
"Feel it out," he said, flashing her a smile she couldn't see. The coffin lid closed on him, locking him in. He closed his eyes and steadied his breathing. Da Vinci's voice rang through the Coffin as she ran through the steps to Rayshift him. He didn't bother to listen though. There was nothing he could do; it was all in her capable hands now. His only job was to have faith that everything would work out. Something he hadn't been able to do for a long time.
There was a strange lurching motion, like the land slipping away underneath you after you've been on a boat for too long. Colors started to saturate in his vision, before eventually blending together in an impossible manner. Then, everything blue-shifted, and streaks of white appeared in his vision as he was suddenly thrust forward through space, and backwards through time.
In a forever-instant he moved from the Coffin to a hellscape. The land around him, the ruins of a city that was smoldering for eternity. The land settled underneath his feet and his vision properly shifted back to a normal color palate. He recognized this from earlier viewing as Singularity F, the remains of Fuyuki City, Japan in 2004. Of course, he also knew his way around from two previous visits to the site, although with much less fire during both.
"Rayshift complete," said Da Vinci, her voice coming through next to him. "How do you feel Roman?"
"A little sick," he said, lying. He felt perfectly normal, but it would come off as weird for him to feel fine after all that, right? He needed to keep projecting that same persona, Doctor Roman, slightly clumsy and fun loving. The persona of the person he'd always wanted to be.
"That's pretty normal," replied Da Vinci. She was clearly playing along for the sake of the others. No use to make them suspect him at this point. "Take a moment to catch yourself. Due to the disturbance, we couldn't get you to the exact position of Mash and Ritsuka, but we were able to get you to the summoning circle Mash set-up previously on the leyline. You're a little over a mile out from their position. When you can, try to summon a Servant. Hopefully one who can get you there in time."
He took a breath, let it out, and started towards the center of the circle. He suspected he hadn't given enough time to believably recover, but that didn't matter. They didn't have the time to perfectly keep the deception. Not with a Demon God running around.
"How are they doing?"
"Mash has managed to form a barrier up around them, but I estimate six minutes and thirteen seconds before the creature we have now designated as 'Amon' breaks through it."
"Ma'am," said a tech, her voice faint as she addressed Da Vinci. "How is the Doctor supposed to summon a Servant without a catalyst? Ritsuka was using Mash's shield prior to stabilize things. But what does the Doctor have?"
"That's a good question," said Da Vinci. "Roman, have any ideas?"
"One," he said, holding his left hand out over the center of the circle. Underneath his glove, his ring grew hot, burning the flesh around it. The back of his hand tingled and underneath the glove came the red glow of a set of Command Seals forming. Two opposite facing, overlapping triangles formed a six-pointed star, with a three-pronged shin in the center.
The magical circle glowed around him, accepting the catalyst. The light built up, and it was only as the energy reached a crescendo that he realized who the most likely people would be to answer his call. But it was too late to abort as the magic swirled around him, waiting for him to activate it. Trying to cancel it now would not just mean he'd lost his only chance of saving his new charges, but also a possible physical danger to himself. So, instead of aborting, he moved forward, activating the energy with the first chant that came to mind.
"Ata gibor l'olam Adonai m'cha-yey mey-tim ata rav l'hoshia. M'chal-keyl cheyim b'chesed m'cha-yey meytim b'rachamim rabim so-meych noflim v'rofey cholim. U-matir asurim u-m'keyem emunato li-shey-ney afar mi chamocha ba-al g'vurot. U-mi domeh lach melech mey-mit u-m'cheyeh u-matz-miach y'shua. V'ne-eman ata l'ha-cheyot mey-tim Baruch ata Adonai m'cha-ye ha-mey-tim."
The words, both familiar and changed over the hundreds of years since he had first muttered them. The magic of the circle responded to his call, forming based on the words he chanted. The world outside of the circle darkened and all noise ceased to have any meaning to him. It was just him and the summoning. An instantaneous flash, that blinded him one moment and left him seeing clearly the next. In what was once an empty circle knelt a cloaked figure, having come to answer his command. Their head was down, hiding him from their view.
"Master, I have come in response to your summoning. I only ask one thing of you: There is a house. One enters it blind and comes out seeing. What is it?"
That cloak. That voice. That riddle. Everything about this Servant was familiar to Roman. He knew exactly who she was. Her ornate red cloak, patterns weaved in it in the finest golden thread, the inside of it lined in a brilliant sky blue cloth. A pair of furry ears, those of a dog peeking through the drawn hood. The scent of spices and warm sands, a familiar one that brought him back to a time long forgotten. It was without thinking that he answered the riddle without hesitation.
"That is correct, said the familiar voice. There was surprise, not at his answer, but in a type of recognition. Her head tilted up from peering at the ground, and on her face, he saw for the briefest moment an expectant look. But she schooled the expression immediately. She was all decorum, just like she always had be-
"My love!" came the happy words. In an instant Roman found himself bowled over and onto his back, his new Servant straddling him. She looked down at him, a bright smile on her face. Behind her, he could see a fluffy tail wagging excitedly.
Roman found himself blurting out, "what happened to royal decorum?"
A light laugh. "I am a Servant now, not a queen. I can follow new rules." She studied him for a moment. "You look different. Have you not been working out as much?"
"Sorry for letting myself go," he said dryly. "Some of us are too busy working on the next joint magical-scientific discovery to hit the gym."
"I did not say you looked bad," she replied, lowering her head and nuzzling it into his shoulder. "Just that you were different. You smell slightly different as well. And your voice, the timbre has changed."
"It's been a long time," said Roman, his arms instinctively coming up and lightly wrapping around her. "I'm surprised you recognized me at all if I'm so different."
"I have always been able to know who you are at first glance before, why not now?"
"I hate to interrupt whatever this is," said Da Vinci, her voice coming from around them. "But I would like to remind you that you now only have one minute and eight seconds before Mash's barrier breaks. Any bright ideas how you're going to cover over a mile in that time and save them? Also, we don't have your Servant's Spirit Origin logged into our system yet, care to introduce us?"
"Of course, I can do so, Miss Inventor," she said, getting up off Roman as he released his light hold around her. He could imagine Da Vinci's surprise at being figured out so quickly, but she'd always been like that. His new Servant helped him off the ground, introducing herself as she did so. "I am a Caster Class Servant. My True name is Makeda, Queen of Sheba."
"The Ethiopic name for Bilkis," said Da Vinci. "That does confirm all of my theories. It should be no surprise that you answered Roman's summoning."
"I always have," Makeda said, a smile on her face as she glanced to him. He returned it awkwardly. What face was he supposed to have at a moment like this? It had all been so much easier when he had been a King. His place in society had been much more fixed and determined back then.
He snapped out of his thoughts though, time was fading quickly. "Caster," he said, getting her attention. "We need to save some charges of mine who are in some serious trouble. Any other explanations or talk will need to wait for later."
A nod. "I understand." She held up her hands, and Roman finally got a good look at her attire. Underneath her red and gold cloak were traveling clothes; puffy pants tucked into high boots and a loose sleeveless shirt that showed off her well-toned shoulders and arms. At the elbows, she gained a set of arm sleeves that went up to her hands, covering most of her palm and her middle finger. She was adorned by a variety of elaborate jewelry that clinked against itself when she moved. He suddenly felt self-conscious, she looked just like when he had first met her, and he clearly did not. But his focus didn't stay on her looks for long as she started to summon magical energy to herself. "First of the Three Enigmas, Achat, spirit of swift arrival, I summon thee."
A wind whipped up around the pair and Roman realized that space was warping around them. He braced himself for the sudden shift right as it took place. Instead of a method of carrying them quickly to their destination, this shifted them from the magical circle to the middle of a ferocious battlefield. The air was heavy, and the ground was torn up, furrows carved in it from a variety of powerful attacks. Several yards away he saw Mash and Ritsuka, a barrier in place around the pair. There were cracks in its magical structure, ready to burst at any moment. Assaulting the barrier was a large, bestial creature. A gigantic white-haired wolf with the tail of a serpent whipping back and forth behind it. On her head was a singular short side braid. Roman's worst fear was true.
"Caster," he said, not wasting a moment. "Please, assist Mash in defeating the Demon God Amon."
"Understood," said Makeda, leaping into action. She gathered mana into her hands and shaped it into thin disks. She threw the disks, hooking them in arcs towards the barrier. As she had been doing so, Amon had been preparing to leap at the barrier. As the disks moved in, so did she, right into their path. They struck her flank, not drawing blood, but managing to knock her away and abort her attack.
As Makeda ran towards Amon, she stopped running on the ground, instead the air underneath her feet hardening, bringing her up higher like she was ascending stairs. Amon recovered from the attack and started to look around for who had done it. She wasn't ready as the Caster brought a pillar of fire down on her from right above her. Amon let out a cry of pain as she was lit on fire, but her gaze also fell on Makeda. She leapt quickly up into the air through the pillar of fire and swiped at the Servant with her long claws. Her own agility not too high, Makeda only just managed to dodge away at the last moment, the claws ripping through the edges of her cloak. Amon fell back to the ground outside of the pillar and started circling, looking for another chance to attack her airborne enemy.
Upon seeing her attacker switching attention, Mash's energy finally gave out. Her barrier dropped and her grip on her shield went slack. Ritsuka went to her side, administering to her with a minor healing magecraft and comforting words, but there wasn't much they could do to help the Demi-Servant. Unfortunately, as soon as the barrier was down, Amon shifted her attention back to the tired pair. Amon dashed at them, closing the distance in an instant. Ritsuka was only able to fire a singular magical bolt, the attack striking harmlessly at the Demon God's side. Amon leapt into the air, claws trying to meet flesh, but instead found Mash's shield, raised at the last moment. The move managed to stop the attack, but the force of the blow knocked the Demi-Servant to the ground, unable to fight back.
Luckily, Makeda hadn't been idle during the exchange, instead opting to let the wind magecraft under her feet drop, sending her falling towards the ground. As she fell, she crafted a different spell, this one drawing in the moisture in the air. It formed a whip of water that she directed towards Amon. As Amon tried to finish off the downed Mash, the whip wrapped around her neck, stopping her short. Makeda landed on the ground in front of Amon and gestured with her hands, the whip tossing the monster through the air, away from them.
Of course, while that fight was going on, Roman had his own trouble to deal with. "Doctor Romani Archaman," said Lev. "You are an astoundingly lucky man."
He flashed Lev a light smile, one given to a long-standing joke. "Yes, you've said that before. I don't see it myself, but who am I to judge?" As he was talking, he kept one eye on Lev, and the other on Makeda. She was an experienced and powerful Caster, but he couldn't help but worry, for both the charges they were protecting and her. There was too much unpredictability going on for his liking. They could lose at any moment. He didn't like fighting battles he thought he might lose.
Lev frowned. "You are standing before the man who betrayed you, killed more than half of the personnel under your watch, attempted to kill you, and turned your former boss into a demon, and yet you still won't show any emotion? I had always wondered if that front you put up was an act or who you really were."
"You're a strange one to say that," said Roman, turning his full attention to Lev as Makeda engaged Amon once more. There wasn't much he could do to help her right now except to keep Lev distracted and out of the fight. She would understand that. "Kind and polite Professor Lev, the one everyone looked to in Chaldea to keep things running. To think that you were plotting our ruin the entire time." He gave a tired sigh, one only slightly theatric. "You were the wort possible traitor."
"I was never on the side of Chaldea or humanity," said Lev, taking a step towards Roman. "I'm not a traitor, because none of you were ever more than pests to me. Especially you and Olga Marie."
The urge to kill rising off Lev was almost visible to Roman, with how strong it was. It was only a matter of moments until it exploded out towards him. Was there a way to stop it? No, it had always been there, bottled up. Since they had studied together at the Clock Tower, it had been there. Could he send it somewhere else? No as well, that could lead to more trouble than good. The most he could do was prepare himself to fight. To keep Lev focused on him, instead of somewhere worse, like Ritusuka and Mash.
Roman held up his hands in a gesture of defeat. "I don't intend to fight you Lev. I'll never be able to beat a Mage of the Clock Tower. Can't we just talk?"
"Talk?" asked Lev, anger visible on his face. "No, I don't think we can. At this stage, I would much rather torture you for any information I want than have a casual chat. For instance, how is it that you were able to summon a Servant of that caliber and why that wasn't in any records, even the top-secret ones?"
A shrug. "I just didn't feel like Rayshifting to fight with Servants," replied Roman. He started to run the magical calculations in his head for three pieces of magecraft. First, calculate a three-point barrier magecraft, designating the starting point as the small of his back, to keep it out of view. "I'm just a simple Doctor, so the previous Director honored my request when I was hired to keep my test results between us."
"You never did like doing anything you could lose in. A coward to the end," said Lev, moving closer to him. He was about twenty feet away from Roman, so Roman extended a bounded field, centered on him as focal point, to fifteen feet away. He tethered the information gathering quality of the field to his three-point barrier and set the barrier to automatic response. That done, he started to run through calculations for the third piece of magecraft he had planned. Lev raised a hand. "Fortunately for you, you will not need to live as a coward much longer."
Roman activated his magecraft constructs as a bolt of magical energy shot from Lev's hand towards him. The bolt entered his bounded field and the sensor registered the attack's presence, activating his pinpoint barrier. The bolt struck his chest right as one of his barriers crossed underneath his right armpit and got in the way of the bolt at the last second. The barrier absorbed most of the blast, but some force still came through, knocking him over. He didn't try to fight it, instead collapsing to the ground in a heap.
"And there goes the brave cavalry," said Lev, walking towards him once more. "I don't know what I expected, but after all that you survived, it almost feels anti-climactic that you die here, like this. It seems your luck has finally run out."
A few more steps and Lev crossed through Roman's bounded field. The entry was a bright flare in his mind, and that was when he flipped over onto his back. Hand out, he fired a magical bolt of his own at Lev. The bolt struck the man in the head, a small explosion obscuring his view for a moment. Roman didn't hesitate to look at the results though as he scrambled to his feet and started to run away from his foe.
"A clever attempt," said Lev, sounding anything but amused. "But a mere human will never be able to defeat me."
Roman glanced over his shoulder and saw that Lev was completely uninjured, like he'd expected. Well, he'd hoped that it would work, but his luck wasn't that good. He twisted around and fired another magical bolt. This time, Lev just reached into the air and knocked it into the ground next to him. Something no human should be able to do.
"I was really hoping that would work," said Roman lightly, letting some of the actual fear he felt seep into his voice. It was clear he wasn't going to win this fight like he might a regular magical duel. This was something else entirely. "Could we maybe try to continue talking this through? We are old friends and colleagues after all."
Lev sneered. "I never considered you a colleague, a friend, or even an equal. Right now, you have power in your hands, a Servant at your beck and call, and you're still not worthy of it. This is why humans need to be eradicated."
Off to the side, Roman caught a glimpse of Makeda fending off Amon. The demon god had gotten up close and was refusing to let her prey escape. The Heroic Spirit wasn't panicking though, instead dodging nimbly back and forth. Her physical parameters weren't impressive, but her movements were just what was needed to prevent danger every time. As if she could see the future. Roman figured that appraisal wasn't entirely accurate, but it wasn't inaccurate either. She wasn't seeing the future, but her ability Faerie Eye did give her a more advanced version of the bounded field he had erected. She was able to appraise the value and attributes of material things. In addition, she could also appraise the suspicious conduct of enemies during battle. Little escaped her keen eye.
Makeda ducked under a claw and used a tendril of water that she crafted from behind Amon to tug on her back leg, throwing the creature off balance. She followed up with a blast of wind to Amon's face, knocking her over. Foe toppled, Makeda started to chant. "Second of the Three Enigmas, Shatyim, spirit of purifying flames, I summon thee."
In response to her call came a howling wind and from the sky descended a flaming wolf. The wolf zeroed in on Amon, engulfing the demon in fire. A howl of pain, and Amon started to flail around, fighting to her feet. Makeda waved her hands and a small burst of wind shot down from above Amon. The wind pushed her back into the ground while stoking the flames to greater intensity.
Amon howled once more, but this time, there was something else to it. Magical energy surrounded her, and then, she breathed in. The spell took hold of Shatyim and pulled the fire spirit into Amon. Makeda tried to recall her spirit, but it was too late. Shatyim was consumed, and as Amon stood, her eyes burned with a new light. She slashed out at Makeda with a claw, fire erupting at the tips. Makeda dodged backward, once again finding herself on the defensive.
"It was a good attempt," said Lev, a vicious smile spread across his face, "but a Servant, no matter how powerful can never stand up on their own a Demon God. This whole fight is a futile exercise."
"Don't dare underestimate her," said Roman angrily. He hadn't meant to be as heated in his words; they had come out without his intending. Lev looked surprised by his response. Roman smiled and laughed, trying to pass the whole thing off. This was bad. "Well, that would be what a proper Master would say, but I'm pretty washed up here. I was hoping to catch you by surprise."
Lev studied him for a moment, a gaze more intense than any Roman had seen the professor give him before. "Maybe I underestimated you. I assumed that you were just the surface level fool you presented yourself as, no one would purposely act such a fool, now would they. Of course, no self-respecting Mage would do so, but that might have been a mistake. Romani Archaman, who are you really?"
Roman raised his gloved hands up in a gesture of playful defense. "No one really. Just a Doctor with a minor background in magical theory who caught the eye of the right person. Nothing more. But," said Roman, lowering his hands slowly. "I don't plan to lose here."
As his hands came down, he suddenly thrust one out, sending a bolt towards Lev. Lev swatted it aside once more, disgust on his face. Roman broke into a run, sending small bursts of magical energy through his body to increase its physical parameters. It wasn't enough as Lev tracked him with easy precision and fired bolt after bolt at him. As each entered his bounded field, his barriers reacted to the danger and blocked each shot, negating the damage and most of the force. He still felt every bolt, and it was only through the physical enhancements that he was able to keep standing and moving. He found himself breathless and hoping for a reprieve at some point, but he needed to keep up the pressure.
"Stop running and just die already," yelled Lev, all façade gone, just hatred on his face. The bolts came faster and harder, and it was all Roman and his barriers could do to stay in motion and functioning. He felt his magical circuits straining against what he was having them do. He just needed to keep going for a little while longer…
"Is this all that a mage of the Clock Tower can manage?" asked Roman, his breath coming out ragged. "You can't beat a simple medical doctor like this?"
"Don't have such a high opinion of yourself you insect," yelled Lev. Around him opened seventy-two magical portals, spreading out. The portals tracked his movements for a moment before opening fire. The blasts tore through the space between them, and it was all Roman could do to reverse his momentum, running in the opposite direction and away from the blasts. The area of attack was so wide that he had no hope of escaping. Several bolts hit him in staggered waves, but luckily his barriers caught them. Unfortunately, the strain was too much, and they gave out, one by one until he was defenseless.
No other bolts struck him, but they did strike around him, causing an explosion in the surrounding area. He was pelted by debris, one hitting him in the forehead and causing blood to trickle down his head. The dust settled and Lev stood above him, hand out ready to end his life. Before he could pull the trigger though, there was a sudden explosion on the other side of the battlefield. Lev turned to look, shock on his face as he saw what had happened. Roman didn't bother paying attention, instead sending a final burst of mana into his body to command it to move. In an instant he was up, left hand on Lev's chest. He didn't hesitate as he released the third piece of magecraft that he had set-up at the beginning of the battle. "Lesalake!"
Powerful magecraft left his hand, reinforced by the latent magical energy of his ring. The energy surged around Lev, engulfing him. His former colleague let out a scream of pain as he was forcibly removed from the Singularity, his body breaking apart into darkened spiritron particles. In a moment, Roman found himself alone, his enemy gone.
The magical drain of casting such a powerful spell caught up to him in an instant, and he found himself falling back to the ground. Before he fell too far though, powerful arms caught him from behind, holding him up. "That was impressive. Just the type of magecraft I would expect of you."
Roman laughed. "You give me too much credit," he said. "I just removed him, you managed to destroy a Demon God."
"I was just lucky that Amon and their host had not accepted each other fully," replied Makeda. She helped prop up Roman, sending a quick burst of healing magecraft through his body to bolster him. Finding himself able to stand, Makeda slowly released her grip. "I was able to unravel her form from the inside. It was a risk, but one that seemed worth taking."
Roman turned and looked at her, injured, but still looking as beautiful as ever. He probably looked a mess. Stupid Heroic Spirits. Before he could respond, a yell caught his attention. "Doctor." He looked and saw an out of breath Ritsuka and Mash running to their side. The pair didn't stop before him, instead running and embracing him. Hard. "Are you okay?"
"Uh, yeah," he said, unsure how to deal with the pair embracing him. He caught an amused look from Makeda. "More importantly, how are you two doing?"
"We're okay," said Ritsuka, releasing him. Mash followed suit a moment later. "Director Olga, she just transformed…and we weren't ready. If you and your Servant hadn't appeared, we would've been…"
"You two did well to survive," said Makeda. "You should be proud of that, considering what it was you were fighting, and with such little experience of your own."
Mash hung her head. "I wasn't able to do anything to save the Director or protect Senpai…"
"What happened to Olga isn't your fault," said Roman. "It was unfortunate and becoming the Demon God was in the end her choice."
"And you did protect me," said Ritusuka, reaching out and putting their hand on Mash's shoulder. The pair stared into each other's eyes for a moment. "We got here after all, didn't we?"
Mash nodded slowly. "Yeah, we did."
"Like Caster said, you were both new to this," said Roman. "But you beat several Servants and a Blackened Servant of immense power. You succeeded with the First Order. Congratulations."
At his words, Ritsuka and Mash both broke into tears, the stress of recent events finally catching up to them. As they did so, a spot in nearby space warped. In the space formed a golden cup, floating in midair; the Holy Grail. Makeda gestured to the Grail. "Look, Master of Chaldea," she said, getting Ritsuka's attention. "I believe this is yours to claim."
Ritsukua looked to the Grail, and then to Roman. He nodded to them, and they wiped away their tears. Ritsuka walked up to the Grail, reached out, and took it. Reality started to break apart around them as the Singularity fell apart. Roman let the sensation wash over him as Da Vinci recalled them back. He gave a glance to Makeda, knowing that this would likely be the last time he saw her. So much to say, but so little time, he guessed he would need to leave things unsaid once again. She glanced back at him, giving him a bright smile. He returned it as the world finally gave out and went to white.
Roman woke once more in the Coffin and waited for his sense of self to be fully restored. It felt more cramped than before. As he waited, the coffin top was opened and a face peered in. Da Vinci looked down at him, a scowl on her face. "Comfortable?" she asked, sounding irritated.
"What?" asked Roman. His sense of feeling restored itself, and he realized someone was breathing on his neck. Next, his muscle control returned, and he turned his head to the side. He saw Makeda next to him, fast asleep.
He looked back at Da Vinci, and she scowled at him. "Happy couples die," she said, slamming the Coffin lid on him again.
Author's Note: I've taken Roman/Solomon and cranked up the Jewish imagery and allusions to a larger degree than the source material, since I'm Jewish. Some of that explained for those unsure/curious:
The Hebrew letter Shin (ש) has a lot of significance. Explained pretty nicely by Wikipedia, "Shin also stands for the word Shaddai, a name for God. Because of this, a kohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites the Priestly Blessing. In the mid-1960s, actor Leonard Nimoy used a single-handed version of this gesture to create the Vulcan hand salute for his character, Mr. Spock, on Star Trek. The letter Shin is often inscribed on the case containing a mezuzah, a scroll of parchment with Biblical text written on it. The text contained in the mezuzah is the Shema Yisrael prayer, which calls the Israelites to love their God with all their heart, soul and strength. The mezuzah is situated upon all the doorframes in a home or establishment. Sometimes the whole word Shaddai will be written." The V'ahavta prayer commands to write God's commandments "as a sign upon your hand" and "inscribe them on the doorposts of your house" (hence why the mezuzah is put on the door frame, and the shin on Roman's hand). I've also seen versions of the eternal flame designed after the shin in the pattern of the flames. In one case, predominantly on the front of a Synagogue.
The prayer Roman says during the summoning is the transliterated Hebrew version of the Amidah prayer. It felt fitting to use to summon a Heroic Spirit with. The Amidah Prayer Translated (one version) – You sustain the living with loving-kindness. You revive the dead with great compassion. You support the fallen and heal the ill. And You release those bound. And You fulfill Your faithfulness to those who sleep in the ground. Who is like You, Master of [all] powers, King, Who causes death and gives life and causes salvation to sprout. And you are trustworthy to revive the dead. Blessed are You Lord, who revives the dead.
Lesalake – To Banish (roughly, had to do the transliteration myself, any fluent Hebrew speakers feel free to give me corrections on this. My Hebrew is pretty bad.)
On Makeda – As far as I can tell, translations of FGO for her just call her "The Queen of Sheba" or "Sheba/Shiba" for short. Two names tend to crop up researching her, Bilqis and Makeda. The stories that use Bilkis/Bilqis tend to be on the less flattering side, where like Da Vinci said Makeda is the name used in the Ethiopian tale, the most elaborate and flattering version. That's the one I (and presumably Fate) am working off of. It'll be interesting to see if the NA release chooses to go with one of the proper names.
The Three Enigmas – Named "Achat", "Shtayim" and "Shalosh". I couldn't stop laughing when I read that, it's just "One", "Two", "Three". Interestingly, they each have a Hebrew letter on their heads, which makes sense because every letter in the Hebrew Alphabet is tied to a numerical value. Alef (א) is 1 (Achat), Bet (ב) is 2 (Shtayim), and that leaves Shalosh (3) as Vet (ב)…which is also valued at 2…Because Bet and Vet share a value as functionally the same letter. Shalosh should instead be Gimel (ג) which is valued at 3. Of course, if you Google Hebrew letters some charts will show Vet third and others as Gimel, so it's not surprising, just not technically correct. I tied each to an element instead of the vague "jinn that present enemies with difficult [physical] questions". Achat to Wind, Shtayim to Fire and Shalosh to Water.
Chapter 2: The Time of Rebirth has Come
Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything related to the series.
Like always, thank you to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter.
Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise
Chapter 2: The Time of Rebirth has Come
"Summoning a Demon God was not part of the plan for that Singularity," said a handsome man in a nineteenth century outfit. While his looks were those of someone in their early thirties at oldest, something in his speech hinted at a much older age.
"I saw an opportunity and I took it," replied Lev, annoyed at the man talking back to him like this. Who was Zolgen Makiri to critique his motives? "Olga was receptive to Amon's essence, and it was less of a waste than just removing her soul from reality. She could be used as a weapon."
"Yet your weapon lost," said Zolgen, his tone never wavering. The man was infuriatingly calm.
"Amon is not lost," said a third voice. This one was multi-toned, and if Zolgen's voice was of one who was old, then this one was ancient. Lev and Zolgen both bent to their knees as their lord spoke, joining them in the meeting room. Lev kept his head down as the robed figured passed him and didn't lift it until the man had sat and bid him rise. "Both of you may stand. As I said, Amon is not lost, they are just back with us. We are not pleased with this recent loss, but it will do nothing to affect our plan. Instead, we are more interested in this mysterious new Caster we observed and her Master. Lev, explain."
"Yes, my lord," said Lev, turning to face the throne. Sitting on it was a dark-skinned man, not exceptionally large or well built, but still radiating a powerful aura that told even the most unobservant that they were dealing with someone of immense power. Of immense danger. The lord's long white hair was braided, red beads threaded into it. His body was covered in a heavy robe, but underneath Lev knew were tattooed arms. The most chilling part of this man though was his eyes, eyes which stared into your soul, and beyond.
Lev took a deep breath and let it out before speaking. "The female Caster is an unknown Heroic Spirit, one not yet in Chaldea's records, as thin as they are. I could only hazard a guess at what her True Name might be, but it seems to me a fluke that she could defeat a fully powered Demon God. As I see it, I misjudged Olga Marie as a host for Amon, and her spiritual energy and will were too weak to properly sustain Amon. Likely nothing more."
"Are you sure about that?" asked Zolgen, his voice needling into Lev. "What about her Master? How was there someone still able to summon a Servant after your trap earlier? Who is this second Master?"
"Dr Romani Archaman, head Medical Officer of Chaldea. He was supposed to be included in the trap, but he was late to the test and avoided the explosion. He was the reason the other surviving Master, Ritsuka Fujimaru, was also excluded from the fate of the other Master Candidates."
Lev clenched his fists tightly, anger filling him. "But there were no files, public or private to hint that Roman was available as a Master Candidate. Him and Marisbury hid those records. Because he was too much of a coward to risk being pulled into a fight. He's always been like that, even since our school days."
"But he did come to fight," pointed out Zolgen. "And he managed to banish your existence from the Singularity. That is a very specialized magecraft, one that may put him at the level of a Pride, well above yours as a Fes."
"There were no hints that he ever had such abilities," yelled Lev. "The filth cheated, somehow. This is not who he was."
"You are not who you pretended to be either," said the Lord, his voice chilling Lev and his temper. "Regardless, the fact remains that no one can stop our plan now that it is initiated. We will observe, and I suspect I have an idea of the True Name of this Caster Servant. It will be up to you Lev to determine if her Master is worthy of attention or not. Do not fail me again. Understood?"
"Yes, my lord," said Lev, bowing deeply.
Their lord looked to Zolgen. "Does your part progress properly?"
"It does," replied Zolgen. "I have assembled all the pieces and the fog has started to spread. Soon, London will be consumed." A vicious smile. "No knight in shining armor will be able to save them."
"Good. Keep it that way until the moment everything reaches completion. Soon, my plan which has stretched millennia will be complete. There is nothing, and no one, who can stop the elimination of humanity."
Roman stood outside the door to Makeda's room, his hand raised to knock, but unable to go through with the action. His clothes felt unbearably hot and he could feel sweat running down his neck. He licked his lips and swallowed hard. But no matter what he did, he couldn't knock. It wasn't that he didn't want to, it was that he wanted to so much and he just…couldn't. He didn't deserve to.
With that thought, realizing that he wasn't worthy to do so was almost calming to Roman. If he wasn't worthy to do it, then he couldn't do it. He shouldn't do it. He wouldn't do it. He had a lot of other work to do, stuff he was obligated to do regardless of his worth or not. So, with that thought he turned away from the door, feeling guilty but knowing he had other important duties to do. He had an important meeting to call and an organization to run. Too much for a reunion he wasn't ready for. Not yet.
As he turned and walked away down the hall he didn't notice as the door slid open silently and a pair of furry ears poked out of it. A longing gaze, one of someone who had a lot to say but was unable to say it followed him down the hall, staring still as he turned out of view.
"Ritsuka," said Roman, looking across the table at Chaldea's last Master. They were fidgeting in their seat, Mash looking nervous next to them. To Roman's left was Da Vinci and Makeda to his right. Otherwise they were alone in the conference room, one meant to house a fully staffed Chaldea. They weren't even close to that anymore, with the director, a large portion of staff and all the Master Candidates dead or in stasis. All that is, except for Ritsuka and Roman. Which was why this meeting was happening.
"Yes Doctor?" asked Ritsuka. They frowned for a moment, changing from nervous to curious. "Should I refer to you as Doctor or Director now?"
"Uh," said Roman, thrown off by the question. "I…I haven't really thought about that."
Ritsuka held up their hands, waving them in panic. "Sorry, I didn't mean anything by that. I was just curious."
Roman shook his head. "No, it's a good question." He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "It seems weird to go by Director, considering what has happened. I guess technically I'm more like an acting director until a new one gets appointed. But that also sounds a little pretentious. I'm just the chief medical officer, who happens to be running the show for now. I guess Doctor would be the best?"
A smile and a nod. "Understood," said Ritsuka. "What did you need to talk to me about, Doctor?"
That sounded much better, and Roman gave a small smile before responding. "It's about continuing on as a Master of Chaldea. You fixed Singularity F and completed the First Order, but there's still seven more to fix to prevent the Incineration of Humanity. I wanted to make sure that you were willing and able to continue with the Grand Order of fixing all seven?"
"Of course," said Ritsuka, looking resolute.
Roman looked over to Mash. "I have the same question for you as well. Mash, are you able to continue at Ritsuka's side?"
There was no hesitation as Mash nodded. "I am."
As she spoke, Roman had the image of an emotionless, expressionless young girl staring at him from an observation room. No fire had been in her eyes then, no desire. But now her eyes burned with determination. To fight for and save humanity. The sight soothed him, made him realize that he had been making the right choices.
Ritsuka smiled at Mash. "Thank you Mash. It'll be great to fight with you. Doctor and Makeda as well."
There it was, the sticking point. How to go about it? "About that," said Roman, feeling uncomfortable with what he was about to do. "I won't be able to join you in the Singularities."
Confusion on the faces of Ritsuka and Mash. "Why not?" asked Ritsuka, visibly deflating.
"Well," said Roman. He couldn't tell them the truth, that he suspected who was causing the incineration of humanity and that he needed to stay hidden until the last minute. That, despite having a Servant neither he nor Makeda could risk going into a Singularity and acting directly. "I was never supposed to be a Master Candidate."
"Why not?" asked Ritsuka.
"Roman doesn't have the qualifications," said Da Vinci. He hadn't told her anything, but like usual she seemed to have picked up on what was going on. "His magical circuits aren't compatible with the Servant summoning process. It's honestly a miracle he's still standing."
"That is correct," chimed in Makeda. She gestured to Roman. "My very presence is sapping his mana. If I was to go all out again, I might kill him. We are very lucky it worked the first time. He is barely awake right now."
Roman was impressed by how bad the two women were at lying. Not that he was much better at it, but Ritsuka and Mash were sure to see through such poor-
"You just rest then, Doctor," said Ritsuka, leaning across the table. "Mash and I can handle this, right?"
"Of course," replied Mash, her expression painfully trusting.
He winced inwardly. Here they were, a bunch of adults lying to the children they were supposed to protect. Putting them into a life or death situation. But if they didn't, then everyone would probably die anyways. It was an awful situation all around. But that didn't mean he couldn't do anything to help improve it.
"Thank you for understanding," he said. "In addition, as the sole surviving senior officer, it's up to me to lead the remaining members back in Chaldea, so my efforts will be better suited to staying back here. Luckily, while I shouldn't go into the Singularities, I'll still be able to help you from over here."
"We should train them," said Makeda, surprising everyone at the table. She looked at Roman. "It might not be safe for you to enter a Singularity, but together we can still give them advice and combat experience, right?"
Da Vinci nodded. "That's a good idea. We can get you set up in the simulator. You can spend some time in there while we work on locking onto the coordinates of the Singularities."
"Well?" asked Makeda. "What do you think, Master?"
Roman glanced around the table and saw the expectant looks of Mash and Ritsuka, the pair looking excited at the prospect. He let out a sigh. A smile. "I think that's a great idea. But won't I be needed to find the Singularities?"
"Nope," said Da Vinci immediately. "You'll just get in the way standing over everyone like an impatient teacher."
"That was fast," said Roman. Laughter rang out in the room. He joined in, feeling better about the path he had chosen. This was the right choice; he could feel it. Not a supernatural feeling, just a gut one. He pushed his chair back and stood up. "Ok, then we'll get started immediately."
"Mash," said Da Vinci, cutting in. "Could you show Ritsuka and Makeda the simulator? Explain to them how it works. Roman and I will be along shortly, we just need to chat quickly."
A nod. "Understood," she said. "Right this way please."
Mash and Ritsuka left the room without even looking back. Makeda's gaze lingered momentarily on Roman before she too left, the door sliding shut behind her. Roman turned to Da Vinci. "So, what's this chat about?" he asked, honestly confused.
Da Vinci's expression was serious as she locked eyes with him. "We're lying to them; your readings are fine. Which of course doesn't match up with the data we have in your file, but for now I'm keeping that from everyone else. Before we go any further, I need to just confirm some things with you so that I can agree to this plan."
He let out a heavy sigh. "I think I know what you're going to say."
"That magical signature I read underneath your glove during Makeda's summoning and your fight with Lev, what is it?"
"King Solomon's tenth ring."
"And you have it because you're him reincarnated, correct?"
"That's a good guess, yeah." He was honestly impressed. This must be how people in his past life felt like when dealing with him.
A shrug. "I just chose the least possible answer and went with that first. You were either him or a relative. Having that ring and being able to summon the Queen of Sheba point heavily to that. There's no file on who the first Servant summoned by Chaldea was, but my guess now is King Solomon, and somehow that led to you being reincarnated as Roman."
He nodded. "Marisbury and I won the Holy Grail War in Fuyuki in 2004. He wished for assets on which to build Chaldea, I wished to see how living like a human was. I was born into the past, lived my life, attended the Clock Tower where I met Lev, then was given a special invitation to join Chaldea in 2005, only a few months after when our Holy Grail War concluded."
"That's a bit of a confusing timeline," said Da Vinci. "The Grail sure has some impressive abilities."
"Marisbury and I already knew the respective methods to achieve our wishes, so the Grail was able to use those frameworks to grant what we need with its considerable mana."
Da Vinci brought her hand up to her chin, cupping it as she thought. "And the ring and your spiritual connection is what allowed you to summon Makeda."
"That would be correct," he said, sighing. He rubbed the back of his neck. "Honestly, I never expected to see anyone from my old life ever again. Especially not as I remember them. I must seem so different to her after all this time, I'm not really like how I used to be."
A smug smile. "Feeling self-conscious?"
"Of course not," he said.
"Oh?" She didn't sound convinced. "If you're not feeling self-conscious, then why did you stand outside her door for half an hour refusing to knock?"
"How do you know about that?"
"Everyone in Chaldea knows, except maybe Mash and Ritsuka," replied Da Vinci. "A dozen people walked past you, me included, without you even noticing us. Everyone else saw you from down the hall and just watched."
He felt his face turning red. "That…can't be true…"
Da Vinci smiled mischievously. "It's not. I just saw you on the cameras when I was doing my daily security checks. But you were zoned out the entire time."
"Only because Magi Mari won't answer my question! I messaged her immediately and was like, 'Magi Mari, someone I know from my past has reappeared, what should I do?' and she was like, 'Haha, lol. Mushy couples should just struggle and fail on their own.'"
"You really shouldn't rely on internet idols for love advice. Those types of people tend to be hopeless in matters of love."
"You have any advice then?"
Da Vinci puffed out her chest proudly. "Of course not. My life is about achieving art and beauty, no time for love."
He looked at her skeptically. "None at all?"
Her expression turned sad. "None that I was allowed to have."
"Don't be," said Da Vinci. "When this is all over if I feel like it, I'll either find someone I'm interested in or I won't. That's my choice now. That's what matters."
Roman considered that for a moment. "A new lease on life, a new chance at experiences you missed, I guess?"
A nod. "Exactly." She held out a finger and poked him hard in the chest. "That goes for you as well. You might not have had a choice in your old life, but you do now. Do what you want to do. No buts."
He was about to argue, but then realized that there was no use. She was right after all. Instead he smiled. "Thanks. I'll do that."
"Good," said Da Vinci, putting a hand on his shoulder and turning to lead him out of the room. "Now, we've got a training session to start. Pull yourself together and let's get to it. Humanity won't save itself after all."
Roman stood outside Makeda's door once more. This time it had only been a few seconds instead of long minutes. He took a deep breath and knocked, the sound ringing in his ears. This was a bad idea; he didn't have a plan and his chances of success were low. He didn't even know what success was supposed to look like. He should just leave now and-
The door opened and he was soon standing face to face with her. Despite having just gone through a training session, she looked as fresh and poised as ever. He was suddenly self-conscious that he hadn't even bothered to take a shower afterwards.
"Yes?" she asked. Roman thought he heard relief in her voice, but he figured he might just be imagining it. It could as easily be annoyance. They had just been together barely ten minutes prior and he had said very little to her that wasn't instructions and orders. Only business, no pleasure.
"I, uh, wanted to talk," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Are you free?"
A quick nod. "I am," she stepped aside and gestured into her room. "Come in?"
He entered, the door closing behind him. On the bed in a pile napped Achat, Shtayim and Shalosh. There were no other personal effects since this room had only been hers for a day. He sat down on a chair, with Makeda taking the bed. Both sat in silence for several minutes, just staring at each other. Why was this so hard? It's not like he hadn't done this type of thing before. Wait, how had he done this before?
"Something on your mind?" asked Makeda, the first to break the silence.
He let out a heavy sigh and gave a self-deprecating smile. "I'm just wondering how I did this before. You know, talking to you."
She became thoughtful at that, her left ear twitching in thought at the top of her head. "If I remember correctly, you made a big show of serving heavily spiced food with little water. When I retired to my chambers, I was then thirsty, went searching for water, and you would only give me some if I returned to your chambers with you."
He was briefly horrified and impressed at the audacity of his past self. "Wow, I was a jerk."
She laughed. "If it makes you feel better, I knew the plan from the beginning. It was a clever little scheme." A wink. "I had some water left in my bag as well. It gave me a good excuse to talk to you. Privately."
"How did royal procedure make this easier?"
"Because we both knew the rules to follow, and how to break them," she replied. "Although, you are my Master now, so if you wanted to talk you could summon me whenever you want."
"I didn't mean to become your Master," he replied. He winced, realizing how that sounded. "I mean, I'm happy to see you again I just don't know what expression I should be making."
Makeda frowned, looking unsure of herself. "I do not know either." She looked down at her lap, her ears flattening slightly against the top of her head. "My memories end at my death, but you have been reborn here for an entire new life. How can I chain you to the past?"
Roman was surprised to hear that. He instinctively reached out, but pulled his hand back, staring instead at the place his ring rested. "It's true that my old life was just one large chain, binding my freedom. I was never born with any and had to live my life as the ideal king chosen by God. There was nothing else for me. Being reborn was my first choice of my new life, but it wasn't the first choice I've ever made."
She looked at him in mild confusion. He continued speaking, "I chose to talk to you that night, and methods aside, I don't regret that. I'm just…unsure how to restart that relationship, if I even can. I'm a different person now."
"So am I," replied Makeda. "We are bound by different laws now. We are not kings; we are Master and Servant in the modern era. Bond together not as rulers, but as partners. And…if you are interested in having a relationship like we had before…I…"
Her words were cut off with an embarrassed blush, and Roman felt his cheeks getting hot as he caught her implication as well. "I might like that as well." Then he added hastily, "if you don't mind that is."
"Of course not," she said excitedly, nearly leaping off her bed. Her ears perked up. Her excitement dimmed as quickly as it appeared though, and she looked down at her lap once more. "There is something I need to tell you first."
"What is it?"
"When we were fighting Amon, I did something without telling you. I have been trying to figure out how to tell you all day, but I was unsure how to approach the situation." A heavy sigh. "Arba', you can come out now."
Roman frowned at that. "Arba'?" he asked. Achat, Shtayim, Shalosh. One, two, three. The Three Enigmas Makeda had at her control. Arba'. Four. That wasn't an Enigma she had. Until now. From the pile of furry forms came a small, four horned creature. On her head glowed an orange Dalet. The feature that stood out most to Roman though was the small braid of white hair that hung down her head in a familiar style. "It can't be…"
Arba' climbed into Makeda's lap and laid down. She started to stroke the Enigma's back gently. "While Shtayim was inside Amon, I felt the flame of this little one's soul still inside. I directed Shtayim to surround and remove her."
"That's how you defeated Amon," said Roman. "You removed the soul anchoring the Demon God to this world."
A nod. "Exactly. When she was removed, I had a choice. Let her pass on or give her another chance at life. She did not want to go, so I created a fourth Enigma, reincarnating her as a new life. I know that you knew her in her past life, so I was unsure what you would think or how to tell you."
Roman stood from the chair. Makeda's ears flattened slightly, her expression uncertain. He moved in front of her and knelt. He held his hand out to Arba'. She looked up, sniffed his hand, and licked it. His emotions came crashing down inside him, tears leaking out uncontrollably. "Thank you," he said, gasping slightly. "Thank you for saving her."
He just knelt there, sobbing with emotions he hadn't known he'd had. He barely noticed as Makeda's hand reached out and started to gently stroke his hair, her own voice filled with relieved happiness. "You are welcome."
The fourth Hebrew letter, Dalet (ד), given the numerical value 4 (Arba').
Chapter 3: The Time of Remembrance has Come
Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything related to the series.
Like always, thank you to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter.
Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise
Chapter 3: The Time of Remembrance has Come
"Ah, Masters of Chaldea, I see that you've made it this far," said Lev, turning around to face his foes. His smile was wide as he imagined the sensation of tearing Roman limb from limb. Revenge would be so swee-
Lev recoiled as he saw only three figures facing him across the throne room. Mash Kyrielight, the Roman Emperor Nero and Ritsuka Fujimaru. "What is this joke?" he asked. "Where are Roman and his Servant?"
Ritsuka pointed at him, determination on their face. "The Doctor can't be here, but we're going to beat you for what you did to Chaldea, and especially to Director Olga."
Mash moved towards him, shield at the ready. "Prepare yourself professor!"
Lev laughed in disbelief. "If you choose to go along with this joke, then so be it. Come, warriors of Chaldea, rush to your death!"
"Good job fixing Singularity Two," said Roman, greeting Mash and Ritsuka as they exited the coffins after a successful Rayshift home. There were bright smiles on their faces, satisfaction at a job well done. That was a good sign. "Take the rest of the day off you two, you deserve it."
"Thanks, Doctor," replied Ritsuka, suddenly looking tired. The whole endeavor must be catching up to them. They had walked a long way and wasn't a Servant, they would be feeling it in the morning.
"Senpai," said Mash. There was an excited smile on her face. "Would you like to watch a movie with me tonight?"
A nod. "Of course, which movie?"
The pair walked away, talking about their movie plans, Roman forgotten. He felt a strange pang in his chest from being excluded from watching the movie, an activity that he had for years shared with Mash. He gave a heavy sigh, banishing the feeling. It's not like he hadn't raised children before. Well, maybe not directly, since he'd been busy ruling, but he had had four children in his past life. He'd seen them grow up and move on in their lives. But Mash, not even his flesh and blood, had been the one he'd actually spent time with, seen her grow. Was this how every normal parent felt?
Da Vinci watched from across the Command Center as Roman gave a heavy sigh and walked off in a daze to deal with one of the hundreds of tasks he was now in charge of. He exited the room, the door closing behind him. The room was now empty, the various staff of Chaldea taking a rest now that the Singularity had been dealt with and rest was well deserved. Well, most of the staff. Da Vinci still had plenty of work to do recalibrating the systems after all. She was a Heroic Spirit though, her energy supplied by Chaldea itself, she didn't need rest in the way that her human coworkers did. Plus, getting to spend some quiet time alone with Chaldea's systems was relaxing in its own way.
As she taped away at the keyboard, she spared a glance for the other remaining person in the room. Makeda sat on a stool, her tail waving idly in the air behind her as she stared intently at a tablet. She had been doing so since the operation into Singularity Two had begun. Da Vinci understood though, Servants like them couldn't help to verify the existence of those participating in a Rayshift since they themselves were ephemeral existences. Makeda was also new to Chaldea. While they had lost most of their staff, the ones who remained still filled every position needed for their operations, leaving the Queen with nothing to do.
"What have you been working on over there?" asked Da Vinci, pushing a final key and swiveling her chair to face her fellow Servant. She had a few minutes while the computer ran through a system check, might as well make conversation.
Makeda looked up from her tablet. "This is a list of all the supplies, resources and staff at Chaldea."
"What do you plan to do with that?" asked Da Vinci, curious.
"As you probably know, Chaldea is down to Master, Ritsuka, Mash, and nineteen staff members. And Fou, of course. We cannot get supplies from the outside and preventing the Incineration of Humanity will likely take several months, at least. So, that means rationing food."
Da Vinci blinked slowly for a moment. "Did you just call Roman 'Master'?"
Makeda's ear twitched slightly. Da Vinci thought it might be in embarrassment. "I did. Is there a problem with that?"
"I just never expected anyone to call Roman something like that. To me, he's just Roman." She shrugged. "That's oddly formal for someone with a relationship like the one you have with him."
There was another twitch. Her face was a perfect mask but didn't seem to notice the tells of her tail and ears. "I do not know what relationship you are talking about."
Da Vinci swiveled her chair slightly so that she could glance at the computer. The scan was running fine, nine percent complete. With another click, she checked the cameras, no one near to the room at all. Satisfied that they were as private as they were going to get, she turned back to her companion. "You don't need to pretend with me. I know that Roman is Solomon reincarnated. I also know the relationship that you two had in your past life. Are you not going to continue that?"
Makeda's mask fell finally, her expression drooping. "How do you know about that? Did he tell you?"
A laugh. "Roman doesn't tell anyone anything. I guessed and then pulled the information from him."
A slight smile. "So, he has not changed in that regard. He was always so eager to learn something new, but very bad at volunteering information unless pressed."
"Old habits must be hard to break," replied Da Vinci, shrugging. "I'm curious, is he the same as you remember?"
A thoughtful expression that also seemed be a little sad. "He is much different. Warmer to other people. More openly awkward. He…he is like any other person you might find."
"Oh?" That was a curious thing to say. "Do you not like that?"
A sad smile. "I love it. He feels alive, able to feel and choose. The other day I was visiting him, and he was not working, just checking something he called a blog. When I looked out of the corner of my eye, I could see him smiling. A genuine smile. I never expected to see something like that in the old him."
Da Vinci leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms over her chest as she studied Makeda. "Then why do you look so sad?"
The other Caster looked surprised at that, her right ear twitching slightly. She brought a hand up to her face. "I looked sad?"
"You did," replied Da Vinci with a nod. She shrugged. "It makes a great picture captured in art but says a lot more in reality."
Makeda considered that for a moment. "I guess…I am just sad to realize that these changes happened in him, and I was there for none of it. I love seeing him like this, but it makes me wonder if there is room for someone from the past in his life anymore."
"Seems reasonable to me," said Da Vinci. An idea occurred to her and she swiveled her chair back to the console she was working at. She minimized the status bar of her current project and pulled up a file folder. Quickly typing in her password, she unlocked the folder and clicked on the first file inside. A picture opened on screen and she turned back around to Makeda.
"Is that…?" said Makeda, trailing off as she processed what she saw.
Da Vinci nodded. "Yep, it's Roman."
"He looks so mysterious," said Makeda, her tail waving unconsciously behind her. "Why is he dressed like that though? And why the wine? Does he like wine now?"
A laugh. "No, the wine was my idea. And so was the picture. Chaldea was having a Halloween Party and the staff was mandated to dress up. So, I helped him make a costume and he came as 'Count Roman', a vampire. Well, that was the conceit. The price of making the costume was that he had to pose for a picture."
"Does Chaldea have events like that often?"
"As frequently as we can," replied Da Vinci. She gestured to a monitor that showed a snowstorm outside. "It's almost never pleasant outside and the staff spend a long time locked up in here. Celebrating holidays like that was the previous two Directors' method for making sure no one went stir crazy."
"I will need to factor that into my supply calculations. Put some aside for special events and recreation. Those will be even more important going forward." Makeda's tail was starting to wag faster in excitement now. She leaned forward on her stool. "Would you happen to have more pictures of Roman like this?"
"Could I have them?"
Da Vinci shook her head. "Nope."
A frown. "Why not?"
Da Vinci gave a devilish smile. "I'm not just going to give these pictures away for free. As you can tell from this one, each is a work of art. If you want them, you'll need to trade for them."
"Trade?" said Makeda, sitting back up. Her confusion changed into an excited smile. A glint appeared in her eye. "Trade I can understand. What is it you want for these pictures?"
"Information," replied Da Vinci. She held up a finger. "One piece of information for each picture. This first one is free, but the next one will cost you. The information needs to be something interesting about either you or Roman, and it needs to be something I don't already know."
Makeda's smile broadened. "So, not just a trade but a battle of wits. My two favorite past times. Interesting. I accept. Please show me the next picture."
Da Vinci waved her finger. "Not until you trade me some info first."
"I just did."
A moment's pause, and then Da Vinci realized what had happened. "You told me what you liked." She smiled. "You sly dog."
"I assume that will suffice?"
A nod. "It will." She opened another picture. This one showed Roman sitting on a porch, a plate of watermelon next to him and a look of excited wonder on his face. In the sky could be seen the explosion of a firework. "This one was from a hot springs trip that former director Marisbury took Roman and I on. It was in Fuyuki, Japan during a summer festival." She laughed. "I've never seen anyone so excited to see an explosion in the sky."
Makeda gave a childish giggle. "He was constantly surrounded by spectacle and wonder in his past life, yet this is what makes him smile like that? It is truly wonderous how these changes in him have come about."
"Agreed. Want the next picture?"
"Of course," replied Makeda with a nod. "The payment this time will be that I love camels."
"Camels?" asked Da Vinci, looking at her companion incredulously. "Really?"
Makeda's cheeks puffed out in annoyance. "What is wrong with camels? They are fantastically efficient and adorable animals. Strong, capable of carrying people and objects long distances through tough terrains. They can often go as many as ten days with minimal water. And their very form is cute and huggable. There is no animal more valuable."
Da Vinci held up her hands in defeat. "Fine, fine. You've got me there. I'll show you the next picture." She started to scroll through the pictures, choosing another. She opened the next picture. This one featured Roman sitting at a kotatsu, working at his computer. He was slumped lazily on the table, his legs hidden under the blanket. Visible on the other side of the table was Fou, sleeping.
"In his past life as Solomon, he was very fond of sheep," said Makeda. She paused and thought for a moment. "His father kept a large flock, and I believe that was where the majority of interaction with animals he had came from. I caught him once visiting them, a smile like that on his face." She smiled as well. "It was adorable."
"Interesting," said Da Vinci. "You make it sound like he didn't smile that often."
"He did not smile this easily," replied Makeda. "He would smile as needed, but almost only then."
Da Vinci considered that. "I guess that counts as enough information to earn another picture."
Makeda smiled gratefully at her. Her tail was wagging excitedly, and her ears were perked up in anticipation. "You are a very generous person Miss Da Vinci."
"Nothing like that. A deal is a deal after all." She opened yet another picture. This picture had been taken by a staff member and showed Roman and her relaxing in her workshop and drinking coffee. She realized her mistake when Makeda froze up.
"You have m-matching cups…" muttered Makeda. Her tail and ears visibly drooped as she stared at the screen.
Da Vinci waved her hands defensively. "That means nothing. We're just friends, nothing else."
"Really?" asked Makeda, leaning towards her with a suspicious look on her face. "You have matching cups, spend time together in your workshop and he's such a handsome, charming man and you still deny anything going on between you?"
Da Vinci couldn't help but laugh at that. "Roman, charming?" She ceased laughing when Makeda started to glare at her. "Fine, fine. How about this? I won't deny that he's my type, looks wise, but I've always valued our friendship much more than any other attraction to him. I'm an ephemeral Heroic Spirit tied to no Master, so I'm not really looking for a romantic relationship currently."
She leaned back in her chair, thinking for a moment. "Plus, I've never gotten the sense that he would be emotionally available or interested in a relationship like that. I guess knowing who he is, and a bit of his history, explains a large part of that."
Makeda studied her for a moment before resuming her earlier expression and posture. She let out a sigh of relief and Da Vinci had to resist the urge to start sketching her. There was a beautiful melancholy to her, and what artist wouldn't want to draw the definitive portrait of the fabled Queen of Sheba? Maybe at another time she'd ask, but until then they had other things to discuss.
"Sorry for suspecting you," said Makeda. "I see now that you have your own, complicated, circumstances."
"I guess that's one way to put it," replied Da Vinci with a shrug. "No hard feelings. I've got one more picture, want to see it?"
A nod. "Yes please." Makeda stopped and thought for a moment. "I am unsure what to pay as the final bit of information for our deal. Do you have any questions you'd like to ask me?"
Da Vinci smiled, her plan finally paying off. She could now ask the question she'd been dying to ask. "I happen to have one question for you." A pause as she leaned toward Makeda. "Why do you look like that?"
There was a glimpse of momentary surprise that faded into an amused smile. "I assume you mean the tail and ears?"
"Yep," replied Da Vinci. "I hope that's not rude, but it's piqued my curiosity since I saw you. There are no truly detailed accounts or renditions of what the Queen of Sheba looked like. Definitely none that hinted at features like that. Yet, when he saw you in Singularity F Roman knew who you were immediately. So, are the records just incomplete, or is there something else to it?"
"You do not look like recorded either, Miss Inventor," said Makeda, sounding amused. "No, I am not offended by that question. The truth is that I was born with the innate ability to change my form, and what you see here is what my natural birth form is. I would hide and change my features depending on the situation as needed. Most outside of my kingdom never realized what was going on."
"Let me guess, Solomon was different?"
"Of course. He saw right through me, which is why he called me 'furry' when I entered his throne room." A frown. "The story has lost its original context and been changed to him complaining about my legs being hairy, but I do not believe I can blame the story tellers. They did not have the ability to imagine differently. Only eighteen people ever witnessed this form in my lifetime, Solomon being one of them."
Da Vinci did a short bow in her seat. "I thank you for the honor of seeing your beauty then."
A smile. "You are welcome, but since I am a Heroic Spirit and not a Queen anymore, it only feels fitting that I strip away any artifice surrounding myself."
"I agree wholeheartedly," replied Da Vinci. "This is a new chance to live our lives in a much different form, only a fool would waste the opportunity."
She tapped the console and the final picture appeared on the screen. This one was Roman in a suit, hand extended while on the middle of a dance floor. Facing him was a young girl, her hand shyly extended and resting in his. Both had shy smiles on their faces.
Makeda leaned towards the screen, looking entranced. "Is that Mash?"
Da Vinci nodded. "Director Marisbury held a special party at Chaldea in honor of his daughter Olga turning twenty. He called it the 'Chaldea Father-Daughter Dance'." She laughed. "The people who work at Chaldea are mostly frustrated singles with no chance to leave and meet anyone or start families, so it was a pretty oblivious declaration of war to the staff. Roman took advantage of the situation and worked to get permission to let Mash join as his niece. This was before she had officially joined as staff, so it was the first time most of the staff got to see her."
"If her existence was so secret, how did he manage that?"
"Something about how he was her physician and she needed physical activity and socialization. The pair of them practiced for weeks beforehand for that stupid dance." Da Vinci considered something for a moment. "Thinking about it now knowing his original identity, I think he wanted to give her a chance to experience the life of a normal girl."
Makeda glanced away from studying the picture to her. "Mash looks to be around thirteen here, correct?"
A nod. "Yep."
"Thirteen is an important time as it's when a child starts to enter adulthood in our society." She became thoughtful. "I wonder if that was on purpose?"
"It was," said a voice. Da Vinci and Makeda both sat up in their seats, turning to see an exasperated Roman standing in the doorway to the Command Center, rubbing the back of his neck with a gloved hand. "I was wondering where you two had gotten to. Looked all over Chaldea before I realized you might still be here."
"Don't change the subject," said Da Vinci. "Did you intend that to be a coming of age ceremony for Mash?"
Roman nodded. He walked over to the console, pushed a button and the Command Center door clicked, locking so no one could walk in on them. He sat down in a chair between Da Vinci and Makeda. "Please keep this confidential, although I suspect that you both already have an idea about what it is I'm going to say. Mash was created as a designer baby meant to contain a Heroic spirit as a Demi-Servant. This was before I joined Chaldea, before I was even summoned to the modern era. The people who made her did so with no consideration beyond making a vessel. A long life-span was not in the equation, so they didn't bother."
"She only has eighteen years in her," said Makeda solemnly, drawing their attention. Her eyes seemed to glint with a magical light at that moment. "I saw it when I first gazed upon her. She will not live to maturity."
"Unfortunately," replied Roman with a heavy sigh. "So yes, I chose that event as a way to start easing her into Chaldea and to give her a coming of age ceremony." A sad smile. "I figured that would be the closest I could get to giving her a Bat Mitzvah."
Makeda gestured to the picture. "She looks happy there. It looks to me like you succeeded."
"Yeah, but I still can't extend her lifespan."
Da Vinci studied her friend. "Did Mash remind you of your life as Solomon?"
He looked unsure for a moment. "Maybe. Unlike her I got to live a long time though."
She read within the lines of that statement. He might have lived a long life, but there sounded something hollow in how he said that. She made a note to dig for more information later.
"It sounds like you have been a good father to her," said Makeda, looking as if she wanted to reach out and take his hand in hers.
Another sigh. "I don't know about that." He stood, clicked the console and unlocked the door. "Now that I know where you two got to, I can focus on my work. There's a lot to do before we can enter the next Singularity. Have a nice conversation."
Without another word he left the room, the door sliding quietly shut behind him. The Command Center, which up to that room had been filled with their conversation was now very silent. Neither talked, taking in what had just happened. Da Vinci closed the picture and saw that the computer had finished running it's diagnostic. A long list of technical data ran across her screen demanding her attention. She glanced over at Makeda and she had already buried herself back into her own work, staring intensely at her tablet. Not feeling like disturbing her, Da Vinci turned her full attention to the computer console. Roman was right, there was a lot to do.
Author's Note: This conversation was a lot of fun to write. I love Da Vinci, Makeda and Roman so much. This is also the first chapter posted after the NA release of Salem, to which I have now beaten. I had been avoiding any Salem spoilers before playing it. It's interesting to see how their version of Makeda and mine are both similar and different.
So, technically B'nai Mitzvahs (Bar Mitzvah for boys and Bat Mitzvah for girls) as the formalized coming of age ritual that we know today is a more recent tradition from the last few hundred years. But thirteen as the time of coming of age is a much older tradition, so is one that Solomon would know and wish to practice. Fun fact, Judaism considers living to seventy as getting to live a full life, with the count restarting then. If you make it to eighty-three, that is considered your second B'nai Mitzvah.
The pictures Da Vinci shows of Roman are all (except for the last one) CEs he features in. The idea of the CE's as pictures Makeda goes through is from a comic by yanag_f (translations available on reddit). The part where Makeda talks about Roman checking the blog and smiling is from a comic to which I can't find a source (the original tweet seems to have been deleted?) but a translated version can be found with a little searching. Just image search "fgo Solomon and sheba" (or variations) and you'll find a lot of good stuff pretty quickly.
The Chaldea Father-Daughter dance is a short fic idea I had. I doubt I'll ever get to writing it in full, but I wanted to include a bit of it here. Writing a father-daughter relationship between Roman and Mash gives me life.
Chapter 4: The Time of Family has Come
Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything related to the series.
Like always, thank you to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter.
Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise
Chapter 4: The Time of Family has Come
"Anyway," said the Archer Servant Atalanta, moving the conversation along. Makeda sat with Roman and Da Vinci in the Command Center as Mash and Ritsuka journeyed through the third Singularity. They had been trying to figure out how to defeat a certain foe when this new Archer had appeared before them. Makeda didn't know much about this woman with the ears and tail of lion, but she had a good feeling about her. "I would like to introduce you to another Servant. The Servant in possession of the Ark. In other words, the man the Argonauts seek."
"The Ark is a Noble Phantasm?" asked Mash, surprised. Makeda glanced over at Roman, seeing surprise on his face. It wasn't the shock of not knowing something was about to happen, but instead the shock of something you knew was a possibility actually happening.
"Indeed," continued Atalanta. "He was the first Servant summoned to these seas. His True Name is-"
"Hey," said a youthful voice. As the monitors adjusted their visual feed, Makeda felt her heart beating faster at who stood there. A man she had only ever seen in works of art. "I've been waiting a long time for you guys."
"David," finished Atalanta.
"Normally I'd hold a feast with food and drink, but first, let me explain about the Ark. I am David, King of Israel. The Ark is my Noble Phantasm. The Ark is a third-rate Noble Phantasm. If you make someone touch the box, they die. That's it. It's a contract that God gave to humanity. It's not easy to steal, but it's bad news if stolen."
Makeda shared glances with Da Vinci and Roman. Da Vinci looked fascinated by the situation while Roman looked agitated. Like he was hearing an annoying buzzing and couldn't get it to stop. In life she had never met the man, but she had heard stories that varied widely based on who told them. Any story by Solomon had usually boiled down to, 'David was just like that'.
"But what would the Argonauts want with a Noble Phantasm they can't use?" asked Mash, taking a step towards David. His attention turned to her and his expression brightened immediately. A brilliant smile appeared on his face and he took a step towards her, hand out.
"Ah, Abishag, what a brilliant question."
"Um," said Mash, taken aback. "My name is Mash Kyrielight, Shielder Class Demi-Servant."
David shook his head. "That may be, but you are also clearly my Abishag. No other young woman could burn as brightly as she, so since you do as well, you must be my Abishag."
Confused silence filled both the clearing they were talking in and the Command Room. Makeda tried to remember why that word sounded familiar. Roman leaned into the communicator mic, a frown on his face. "Abishag is a young girl from the myth of King David. He was old and weakening, and she was chosen to lay next to him and warm him up. It was an old ritual meant to transfer her vitality into King David, rekindling him and keeping his glory going longer."
"He was calling me that earlier as well," said Atalanta, sounding annoyed at her companion.
"The annoyed voice in the air knows a lot," said David, sounding bored. "You sound just like Solomon. Doesn't he Abishag?"
Roman looked taken aback for a moment. Makeda was impressed by the accuracy of David's guess. She fought the urge to giggle, that part about Roman had indeed not changed in this new form. After a moment Roman found his voice and spoke again. "She's not your Abishag. It's not fitting for a King to hit on young girls."
"Definitely Solomon," said David. He did a shallow bow to Mash. "My apologies Taphath. Your flame burned so bright I was blinded in my sight. I correct myself now and ask for forgiveness."
"Taphath?" asked Mash.
Makeda saw an embarrassed blush growing on Roman's face. Everyone in the Command Room were looking at him, waiting for him to explain what was going on, but he didn't speak. She leaned into a mic and spoke. "Taphath, the eldest daughter of King Solomon and granddaughter of King David."
A tired sigh and Roman spoke into the mic. "King David has a habit of not seeing other people. Everyone reminds him of someone else. Think of it as shorthand for how he thinks of you."
"You act like you know me, Solomon," said David calmly. His eyes twinkled for a moment. "That said, I am interested more in the sweet voice that just spoke. May I see your looks?"
Makeda, Roman and Da Vinci exchanged looks. Da Vinci looked interested in this development while Roman did not look pleased. She was interested in talking more to the father of her true love. Face to face, like they never had in life. She nodded, showing her interest. Roman sighed and clicked a switch on the console. The magical cameras linked to the mics turned on, projecting the images of Roman, Makeda and Da Vinci into the already crowded clearing.
David smiled broadly and bowed deeply to her. "Ah, is that my Bathsheba I see?"
She was taken aback for a moment but returned the bow. "I am not your Bathsheba." She smiled mischievously. "Although, your guess is not entirely off. Instead of the woman Bathsheba, I am instead the Queen of Sheba."
A sign of recognition on his face. He looked to Roman. "Ah, my honored daughter. I see, Solomon brought his lover and daughter to meet me. A fitting family reunion."
Roman turned red and sputtered slightly in embarrassment. Mash as well turned red, staring at the ground. Makeda couldn't resist giggling in amusement at their cute reactions. David looked at Da Vinci. "Another beautiful woman." He sighed. "Why was it always Solomon who was surrounded so easily by beautiful women without even trying? Will you be my Bathsheba?"
Da Vinci smiled politely at him. "Despite being my type, I think I'll need to decline," she said. A laugh. "I was once used as a model for a statue of David, so it might feel weird to have a relationship with the real deal."
David laughed. "If that is true, then you must have always been a beauty, as only one like that could be used to portray me." His expression turned serious suddenly and Makeda felt a familiar pressure. The pressure of a King about to speak. "That should be enough introductions for now. I was enjoying myself a little too much there. I have a duty from God to protect the Ark which was summoned with me. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that I was summoned with it. So, before anymore entertainment can be had, let us discuss that. Here is the issue…
An hour later the group found themselves back on Drake's ship, heading towards what was bound to be a deadly struggle. Running from danger hadn't been working, so everyone had agreed that the only solution was to run towards it instead. Of course, on an ever-extending ocean like the one they now sailed, travel and finding their foes wasn't a simple, quick matter either. That meant a lot of waiting and a lot of boredom on the part of the travelers inside of the Singularity.
Makeda monitored the occupants of the Golden Hind, watching as they went about busy work and relaxing, waiting for a call to action. Drake alternated between lazily piloting her ship and throwing dice with her crew. Euryale joined briefly, winning the entire pot in a matter of rolls. That led to the smug goddess being banned from play and the crew had to continue with much lighter purses. Atalanta worked on carving a small wooden idol to the goddess Artemis, quietly praying for her protection as she did so. Mash and Ritsuka chatted about movies they wanted to watch together when they had some downtime in Chaldea.
Underneath the hum of activity was the calming tune of a harp. David sat underneath the mast and just played his harp. There was a relaxed skill in his playing, a well-earned arrogance. His was a master of the harp and knew it. The stories she knew of him, and the interactions she'd seen in the Singularity made her realize just how much of a mess of contradictions he was, and how perfectly they blended. A shepherd to a king but with the pride and abilities of both.
The tune of the harp stopped, and David glanced over at Mash. "Taphath," he said, getting her attention. "It is bound to still be a while until we arrive at our destination. I was curious if you had any interesting stories to share with your grandfather?"
Mash looked troubled for a moment. "I…I don't believe I have anything to tell you that would be very interesting to a hero of your fame."
He waved his hand lazily. "Nonsense. You are a Herioc Spirit as well. You must have at least one adventure."
"Maybe," said Mash, trailing off. "But I hadn't been outside of Chaldea until we started traveling through the Singularities. My life has all been spent inside…"
"Mash," said Ritsuka sadly, reaching out and taking her hand into theirs. The pair exchanged supportive smiles.
David let out a sigh. "Maybe instead of Taphath you are more like Solomon."
Mash frowned. "What does that mean?"
He shrugged. "Solomon is Solomon. He's just like that, you know?" Neither of the teens seemed to understand what he was saying, but Makeda found herself agreeing with her fellow King's assessment. She glanced over and saw Da Vinci and Roman paying attention to the conversation as well. Da Vinci was amused while Roman looked frazzled. It was kind of cute how bad he was at dealing with his father. "Honored daughter, would you mind entertaining your dear old father?"
Makeda felt a blush coming on from being addressed like that but managed to keep her composure as she spoke into the mic and turned on her video feed, projecting her image into the Singularity. "And what type of story would you like to hear, dear father?"
A bright smile. "Do you have something from your life?"
She thought for a moment. "Would you like the story of how Solomon and I met?"
He waved his hand dismissively. "I'm not really interested in hearing about how Solomon has better luck with women than me." He thought for a moment. "I have vague knowledge from the Grail summoning that you bore Solomon a son, how about something about him?"
"Menelik?" she asked, her heart tightening at his name.
"Yes," said David. "That was his name. Would you mind telling me a story about him?"
She considered the request for a moment, sharing a glance with Roman. "He was born after I left Jerusalem and grew up in the Kingdom of Sheba. When he came of age, he insisted on taking a pilgrimage to visit his father. I allowed this and he left to do so."
"And was there no challenge for a mysterious new heir?" asked David, sounding amused.
Roman spoke, sounding tired. "Menelik came with a gift that King Solomon had given to the Queen of Sheba on her departure. A ring, one of his ten rings." As he spoke, she saw him absentmindedly playing with his ring underneath his glove. "Menelik returned the ring to King Solomon, proving his lineage."
"My son was then anointed by the priests," said Makeda. "He took the name of his grandfather, David."
"It is a good name," replied David. He strummed his harp for a moment before frowning. "It is easy to take on a name, but did he do anything to earn the honor?"
Makeda started to feel very defensive at the implication that her son had not deserved the name. That traveling to a foreign land alone and receiving the favor of the nobles and King were not in itself a harsh trial.
"King Solomon saw his value," said Roman, sounding annoyed. "With his son's promise to carry on a sister kingdom in his homeland, King Solomon gifted him a copy of the Ark of the Covenant."
"The one the Argonauts are after?" asked Mash.
"Exactly," said Roman. He became thoughtful. "In addition to the Ark, several sons of the nobles were sent to go with him back home, impressed with him. The noble sons got carried away though, and they decided to swap the copy Ark with the real one and took that instead."
"But wouldn't that be dangerous?" asked Ritsuka.
David gestured to the center of their ship where they had hidden the Ark behind a bunch of barrels and crates. "As you can see, the Ark is able to be moved if carried properly. It's only if touched in a heretical manner, struck, opened or broken does something bad happen. Otherwise it's just a big golden box. Basically."
"The person in charge of keeping it safe shouldn't talk about an item as important as the Ark like that," scolded Roman.
"I can talk or act however I want as long as I get results," said David. "God is not in that box; God is with me. God has given me the duty of protecting, and that is why I do so. In my love and duty of God, that is what matters. In the end, our world and God only cares about results and legacy." He smiled brightly. "And wouldn't that mean that under those metrics I'm the best there is?"
"Someone please throw this man overboard," said Roman.
"Doctor," said Mash. "Please don't say something like that where Drake could hear. I get the feeling that she just might if she was told she was allowed to."
"That woman has the right idea," said David with a laugh. "Ah, if only I was able to drink, but alas I have a duty to be prepared for. In that case, I'll just slack my thirst with a story. Sorry for the rude interruption by Solomon, please continue dear daughter."
"Gladly," said Makeda. David was just like the man she had imagined him to be, for good and ill. Of course, if that was true then she had an idea of where this conversation was going to end up. That thought interested her, so she decided to see how it all turned out. Plus, if there was something in life she enjoyed more than dealing in money, it was talking about her son. "Menelik was unaware at the time of what had happened with the Ark. It was only on their first night that he studied the Ark and realized what had happened."
She laughed. "He was not happy about this, complaining loudly to me when he got home, but he could not just return the Ark."
"Why not?" asked Mash. "Wouldn't that have been the right thing to do?"
Makeda shook her head. "Not for a future king. His new retainers, who had joined him out of admiration had been willing to steal the most important relic of their people because they believed in his rule. He was the son of Solomon, and to rule a kingdom nearly as grand. As far as they were concerned, he would eventually rule their old kingdom as well. Would people with a mindset like that be easily swayed?"
"I guess not," admitted Mash. "They sound so sure of themselves."
"They were," agreed Makeda. "But Menelik did not want the Ark either. That would have been a betrayal of King Solomon's, his father's, trust. He did the only thing he could. He played along."
"So, the Ark ended back in the Kingdom of Sheba?" asked Rituska, leaning in to listen with a captivated expression on their face.
"Not quite," said Makeda. "He left little clues behind him as they continued traveling. From that point on my son created a trail that could not be noticed by his new retainers and instead only by one other person."
"King Solomon," said Mash, her eyes lighting up as she guessed where the story was going.
Makeda nodded, smiling proudly. "Exactly. He trusted in Solomon to figure out what had happened and to track them down himself."
"That is a pretty brave plan," said David, strumming his harp once more. "So much could go wrong. If his clues were noticed, he would have betrayed his retainer's trust and respect. The clues would need to be very clever, but also unable to be destroyed by the weather. In addition, the plan would only work if the swap was caught and if King Solomon himself came out to find them. If he did not, then the plan would fail."
"Menelik has sight similar to mine," said Makeda. "He told me when he got home that he couldn't believe what he saw when he first witnessed King Solomon, but that he knew that he could trust that man's wisdom and spirit."
"It sounds like Menelik trusted King Solomon a lot," said Mash.
"He did," said Makeda with a proud smile.
"But what happened next?" asked Mash. "Did King Solomon go after them?"
"He did," said Roman, a wistful smile on his face. "King Solomon saw the next morning that the Ark had been stolen and followed immediately himself. He couldn't use his famous demons to retrieve the Ark like he had other items because of the power of its divine nature. That protected those traveling with it as well. So that meant a chase was the only method he could do. Luckily, he noticed immediately the clues left behind, as they were unusual for the road. Just little bits off. His retainers thought he was crazy when he dismounted and checked the first sign."
Makeda laughed. "As Menelik tells it, he dutifully kept leaving the clues, but he was not sure that they were clever enough to work. He celebrated and prayed at the Ark with his retainers, but his prayers were of a different nature. It was four days into the journey that they found themselves caught. His heart soared as before them over a dune stood King Solomon and a group of armed soldiers. His retainers hung their heads in shame, but it was Menelik who strode forward and apologized on their behalf. He took responsibility, declaring that the whole process had been his idea and that he deeply regretted doing so. King Solomon stood expressionless before him and declared, 'If your apology is sincere, then you will take this duplicate Ark we brought and devote yourself to teaching your people about how to properly behave now that you have learned your lesson.'"
"As clever as ever," said David. "His words betray different meanings to whoever hears them. He must have come off to the others listening as very merciful."
"But to Menelik, those words meant everything," said Makeda. "They were approval from a father he had never really known. Him and his new retainers returned home to our kingdom with the copy Ark and ushered in a new era of prosperity. I have never been prouder of him than how he dealt with that situation."
"I'm sure that King Solomon felt the same," said Roman, locking gazes with Makeda. For a moment, it felt like they were the only two in the room. "As my family tells the story, before sending them away, King Solomon took Menelik aside. He told him, 'Your signs betray a clever mind, like your mother's. You should be proud.' Those were the last words exchanged between father and son."
"Menelik never told me that," said Makeda, surprised. She smiled at him. "I believe those words were why he smiled when he returned. Words for him alone, that meant the world."
The strum of a harp snapped her out of the moment, returning her attention to David. He worked through a quick tune. "That is a good story, dear daughter. You should be proud of your son; he is truly worthy of the name David." He looked at Mash. "What did you think of that story, little Solomon?"
Mash hesitated for a moment. "It was a simple story, but very moving. Menelik sounds very loved by his parents, and that he respected his father a lot."
"That is a good surface reading," said David. He smiled brightly at her. "It is a simple story with little conflict, but it moved you none the less. There is power in something that is simple. You would do well to remember that, Solomon. You felt your own story might be simple, yet I am sure that you could pick many bits and pieces from your travels and life thus far that would move an old man like me. Walk proudly with your head held high, Solomon."
Mash considered those words for a moment. "Thank you. I'll try to do so." She looked at Makeda's projection. "Thank you for sharing that story with us."
"You are welcome. I am happy to do so. It always brings me pride and joy to talk about my son." She glanced at Roman. "And in the telling I learned something new as well. It seems we both learned something through this."
Before anything else could be said, there came a cry from the crow's nest of the ship. "Enemy off the portside," said the sailor, drawing everyone's attention. "They're turning to move towards us."
"Everyone get into position," said Drake calmly. "Just like we planned, they'll never see it coming."
David sighed and stood up. "I guess that is the end of this story session. If we have time later, please tell me one of your stories, Solomon."
Mash nodded as she grabbed her shield and stood as well. "I'll make sure to tell you a good one."
"I look forward to it."
"Doctor Roman." Roman, Makeda and Da Vinci turned from the console they were currently consulting to see Mash standing with her hands behind her back. The control room was once again empty as the rest of the staff took another much-needed break after the last mission. "Do you have a moment?"
"Of course," said Roman, happy to have a moment away from the mind twisting issue of zeroing in on a certain era in the past. "What do you need?"
"Where's Ritsuka?" asked Makeda. "It is strange to see you two separated."
Mash blushed lightly. "Senpai is sleeping. The last Singularity was tough on them and they passed out as soon as we got back to Chaldea." As she talked, Roman tried to figure out why she had her hands behind her back. Was is just a new way of standing, or was there something back there? "Why I'm here is actually because Senpai fell asleep after suggesting a movie to me. It's a movie from their childhood, and they said everyone had to see it."
Roman frowned. "Are you asking for advice on whether you should wait to watch with Ritsuka, or just watch it by yourself?"
Mash looked down at her feet. "No, I've never really liked watching movies by myself. And Senpai said that this is a movie that should be watched with family," she said, trailing off.
Surprised by that, Roman was unsure what to say. Was she insinuating what he thought she was, or was he just being too eager and reading too much into it? What was the proper way to ask? Would it be rude to ask for clarification? Was he supposed to say yes, or would that be too weird if he was wrong?
"Would you like to watch the movie with Roman?" asked Makeda, breaking the awkward silence.
A nod, eyes still looking down. "If you have some time, I would like to watch this movie with you," she said. A pause, as if she was considering different words. "Doctor."
Roman rubbed the back of his neck, feeling relieved that his guess had been correct, but kind of embarrassed that he needed to be bailed out. "Well, there is a lot to d-" he was cut off as Da Vinci's elbow jabbed into his side. The message was clear, 'take the break, idiot'. "I think if Da Vinci doesn't mind taking over, I can take a break and watch the movie with you. I could use some rest and it's been a while since I've watched a movie."
"Really?" asked Mash, looking up at him finally, and glancing to Da Vinci.
Da Vinci nodded. "Of course. He's only human after all, if he's not going to be his own Doctor, I will. And I think your prescription of a movie is a great idea."
"Thank you," said Mash, giving a relieved smile. Roman felt happy about the deal as well, his stress over trying to pick the correct answer disappearing.
"I will help Miss Da Vinci as well," said Makeda, smiling brightly. "You will not need to worry about a thing while you relax."
Mash looked at Makeda, surprise on your face. "Oh, I'm sorry. You're invited as well."
Makeda looked genuinely surprised by the offer. "Really? You do not want to watch it with just Roman?"
"You need a break as well, don't you?" asked Mash. "Plus, I wanted to thank you for your help in telling that story to King David. It really was moving."
A bright smile. "I have never watched a movie, but I will gladly join you for this one."
"Thank you," said Mash. She turned to Da Vinci, deflating a little. "Sorry for not inviting you. If you want…"
Da Vinci waved her hand nonchalantly through the air. "Thanks, but no thanks. I have work I want to do, and I like watching movies by myself. It's more fun for me that way. I can pause to sketch and deconstruct a scene. Enjoy yourselves, I'll just cash in a favor later."
"Good friend you are," said Roman, half joking and completely serious. "What movie is it anyways?"
Mash brought her hands around from behind her back and showed a well-worn DVD case. Roman glanced at the furry characters on the cover and knew he had never seen the movie before. "' My Neighbor Totoro'. Senpai had a lot to say but refused to say most of it in case of accidentally, 'spoiling the movie'."
"That spirit looks very friendly," said Makeda. "Do you mind if my spirits join us?"
"Of course not," said Mash, shaking her head and smiling. "The more the merrier."
Author's Note: David is fun to write. I tried to make him come off as less creepy than he does in the original Singularity and expand on his already defined character traits. He's better written in his interlude, except for the times he calls Mash Abishag. Seriously, why did they choose Abishag as the person for him to obsess over and not Bathsheba, who he canonically wanted so much he killed her first husband, his trusted vassal, over? Beautiful women should equal Bathsheba in his mind, not Abishag (who was around 12-ish). So, the source material doesn't age well and Fate somehow made it worse. Okay, rant over… Whether David knows who Roman is or just refers to him as he does anyways is left up to the reader. My hope is that he comes off as both talented and infuriating. On a random note, I see him as exclusively heterosexual, but would sleep with a clone of himself or God. Also, David says trans rights.
The story of Menelik comes from the Ethiopian story of the Queen of Sheba, and all of that happened in it, up to a point. In the actual story, Menelik learns about the Ark on that first night, doesn't leave clues, and together they all pray and escape Solomon's pursuit to bring the Ark to the Kingdom of Sheba. Supposedly Ethopia has the real Ark under tight guard into the modern day. For a variety of reasons, I changed the story to what you see. It wasn't really a story about Menelik though, now was it?
Da Vinci, Makeda and Roman's characters and dynamics are still a lot of fun to write. With Mash occasionally joining in. More from her going forward. Ritsuka doesn't really do much in this fic, do they?
FGO Orion does not exist; we do not talk about any part of that character.
Chapter 5: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 1
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.
Chapter 6: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 2
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 6: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 2
"Ready to die, clown?" asked Mordred, standing over the fallen Servant Mephistopheles. Makeda watched as the Caster who had attacked them upon introduction started to chuckle. Mordred frowned. "What's so funny?"
"Everything," said the demon. His form started to break apart into golden motes of light, his injuries from their battle taking hold. "You are running out of time and you do not even realize it. How is that not funny?"
Makeda considered those words. Mephistopheles had admitted to killing Jekyll's ally known only as 'The Doctor', whose mansion they stood outside the gate of. They had come to the mansion seeking more information on the demonic fog, but instead found an enemy who spoke only in riddles, laughed and threw bombs. What could be so funny? In the silence of thought, a soft ticking reached her ears. Everything clicked in her mind. "Saber!" she yelled out to the knight. "He is stalling! The mansion is set to explode!"
"What?!" asked the knight. He glanced down at Mephistopheles, who just started laughing more maniacally. Mordred swung his sword, silencing him for good.
Unfortunately, even with the Caster gone, Makeda could hear the ticking, counting down. "The bombs still last without him," she said. "We need to leave."
Mash and Ritsuka looked around, trying to find the source. Upon not being able to do so, Ritsuka gestured away from the mansion. "We need to leave then. Come on!"
Makeda followed that wise course of action, moving away from the mansion, the ticking lessened in intensity as she did. It stung, losing the information contained inside the mansion, but it was better than losing their lives. It was only when she realized that the heavy clank of metal boots was quickly moving away from her that she turned to look over her shoulder. Mordred bust down the metal gate around the mansion with his shoulder, causing it to crash onto the ground. He ran haphazardly over it, headlong across the mansion grounds and into the mansion, lightning surrounding him as he moved at shattering speed.
"That fool," said Makeda, gritting her teeth. Mash and Ritsuka turned as well, concern on their faces. They were clearly considering going after him. She held out her hand before them. "Do not think about it. You will not endanger yourselves. He made his choice; we just need to trust that he can succeed."
"But…" said Ritsuka, clutching their fists tight.
"Quiet please," said Makeda, closing her eyes and focusing all her senses on listening. There was the incessant ticking, no indication of when it would end. Boots on wood, a door being smashed down, books falling to the ground, heavy footfall descending stairs, something opening, and…words? What was- Her ears stood on end as the ticking stopped and she had only a moment to yell out warning. "Get down!"
A dozen explosions spread out from the mansion and grounds, forming a single large fireball. Mash moved forward and held her shield out before her. "Lord Chaldeas!" A large shield formed between them, deflecting the excess heat and small debris. But for the most part, the explosion was contained in the mansion grounds, consuming everything.
And then, unbelievably, as the orange fireball rose into the darkened London sky, a red bolt of lightning shot out of it, Mordred landing in a crouch at the gate of the mansion. Lightning wreathed him, disappearing as he stood. His helmet was off, a bright grin of triumphant on his face.
"Mordred," said Mash, smiling. She approached the knight, clearly happy to see him. Makeda let out a sigh of relief, glad at the sight as well. She raised an eyebrow as she realized that he was carrying something large, larger than he was. Mash stopped right before him as he stood completely and gaped. "Is that…a person?"
"Yeah," said Mordred excitedly. Like a kid who had found an abandoned cat. "Say hello."
"Ngh," said the young red-haired woman, her white dress gathered around her as she lay, bridal carried in Mordred's arms, her arms around his neck. "Uungh!"
When they arrived back to Jekyll's flat, the young man could only look in stunned surprise as Mordred opened the door with his feet and carried the young woman over the threshold and into the building.
"I sent you to get information," said Jekyll. "How did you manage to come back with a bride?"
"I found her in the basement of the mansion," said Mordred defensively. He glanced at her. "Would you like down now?"
A nod. "Uh."
Mordred gently lowered her so that she could stand out of his arms. At her full height Makeda saw that she was taller than Mordred by a decent amount. Interestingly, she sunk into the plush carpet, as if she weighed much more than she looked. She had a metal sphere strapped to her waist, and a metal horn attached to her forehead. She also smelled of oil and death. Makeda's instincts told her that this young woman wasn't a threat, but there was still something off about her. Something unnatural. Just like Mordred and Mash. Strangely though, she was also clearly not a Heroic Spirit. She was alive.
"You good?" asked Mordred.
Another nod. "Uh." Then, the young woman looked away from him, a blush on her face.
Mordred had an oblivious look on his face, apparently not thinking anything of the reaction. "That's that then."
"So," said Jekyll, drawing attention back to himself. "What happened out there? Did you learn anything?"
"We found an enemy Servant," said Makeda. "He killed your ally and destroyed his mansion. Unfortunately, all we managed to retrieve was this girl."
Jekyll studied the girl for a moment. "I don't remember hearing about the doctor having a daughter, or any children for that matter. Who is she? Why was she in the basement?"
"Ugh," said the woman.
Mordred nodded. "She was sleeping." Everyone looked at him in surprise. He stared back as if they were idiots. "In the basement, in the coffin I found her in. It's where she spends her time."
Jekyll sighed. "That is anything but clear."
The knight glanced to the woman. "Want to show them what you took?"
The woman nodded. She reached for the metal sphere around her waist and pushed a button that blended into the rest of the device. A latch clicked and the sphere parted. She reached in and pulled out a worn-out book. She held it out for someone to take. "Uhn."
"A journal?" asked Mordred. Jekyll took the book and started to flip through it. "Who's is it?"
"Doctor Victor," said Jekyll, showing the group the front inside cover. The name was clearly legible on the front. "So, that was his name. There is a lot contained in here. And a lot to read." He paused, his eyes moving rapidly as they scanned the pages. "The newest entries mention something called 'Project Demonic Fog'. The project leaders are listed as P, B and M. It says here that Victor suspected them of being Heroic Spirits."
Makeda considered the information. "That would make a lot of sense, considering the pattern of the other Singularities we have encountered. This information is exactly what we needed."
"So," said Mash, frowning in thought. "To stop this fog, we'll need to find and defeat the Masterminds P, B and M. Hm… Do you think Mephistopheles was M?"
"That crazy clown wouldn't be able to mastermind more than a shitty joke," said Mordred.
"I agree with him," said Makeda. "He was likely working with them, but he himself is probably not this M mentioned in the journal."
Jekyll gestured to the journal. "I'll read through this to see if I can learn any more about Project Demonic Fog. Meanwhile, I have another task for you. A little while ago I got a report from another ally. There's trouble in Soho."
"What type of trouble?" asked Mash.
"Attacks on civilians. Up until now, there have been no reports or incidents of monsters breaking into buildings and harming people, but this report says that a 'large book' has started to do so. We have codenamed it Magical Tome. I need you to investigate these reports and stop Magical Tome if you encounter it."
Makeda considered the new information. "That is troubling. It sounds like this Magical Tome might be a new type of enemy. Possibly a Servant. Although I would not be able to guess at their identity without more information."
"Then we should head out immediately, right?" asked Mash. Everyone nodded in agreement.
Everyone except Mordred. "Yeah, sure. We'll head out in a minute, but I've got something I need to do first."
Jekyll looked skeptically at his partner. "That's strange. Usually I can barely finish explaining a situation to you before you are practically breaking down my door to leave. And as a note, it doesn't close properly anymore. Thank you for that."
Mordred waved his hand dismissively. As he did, Makeda noticed that it was balled into a fist, a piece of paper poking out. "It'll be fine. Just need a moment to talk to our guest." He glanced to the young woman. "Okay?"
"Ugn," said the woman with a nod.
The pair left the front room and exited to the library, closing the door behind them. Mash and Ritsuka shared interested glances. "I wonder what that's about, Senpai?"
A shrug. "Not sure." A bright smile. "Maybe a confession of love?"
A gasp. "After a first meeting?"
"He did save her from an exploding building."
Shutting out the amusing chatter, Makeda focused on listening to the faint voices in the library. Her keen hearing could just make them out.
Of course, it didn't help her to translate grunts and groans.
"Yeah, I saw this note when I found you."
"That's up to you. I don't care much either way."
"Uh uh unnngggh!"
A pause. "Yeah, I know. That's why I'm asking."
"Then I'll tell them."
A laugh. "I've got it all memorized anyways."
The pair reentered the room and the chatter died down as the others looked in anticipation at them. Mordred scowled as he saw the large eyed, expectant looks from Ritsuka and Mash. "What're you looking at?"
"Nothing," said the pair together quickly.
"Did you sort out your business?" asked Jekyll.
A nod. "Yeah. Had a question. Plus, I found out her name," said Mordred, pointing to the young woman. "Can't just keep calling her 'she' and 'her', can we?"
"What's your name?" asked Jekyll, looking at the woman. "What's your connection to Victor?"
The woman didn't answer, glancing in expectation at Mordred. He put a gloved hand on her shoulder. "Don't know nothing about the old man, but her name is Cywyllog."
Jekyll and Ritsuka nodded at that, taking the knight at his word. Mash frowned, seeming to consider something. Makeda for her part listened for the lie in his words but couldn't pick up one. He was always so full of bluster that it was hard to tell when he was lying or not. The name didn't mean anything to her either. What she did notice was the surprise on Cywyllog's face as she heard him. She quickly covered up her reaction with a smile and nod of confirmation, but she had clearly been expecting him to say something else.
"Now," said Mordred, pounding his fist into his palm. "Let's go smash a book. Jekyll, are you fine with Cywyllog staying here? She's a regular human, so no reason to bring her with us."
A sigh. "Fine. Just don't go bringing anyone else here, alright?"
"Jekyll is going to be so pissed!" laughed Mordred as they walked back to the apartment.
Their new companion, a boy who had introduced himself as Hans Christian Andersen, smirked at Mordred. "I guess you're so unruly that you find the necessity of something like this hilarious, don't you?"
Mordred scowled at him. "You want to pick a fight? I didn't see you doing anything against the book."
"I gave you the way to defeat Nursery Rhyme, did I not?" asked Andersen. "Your attacks were unable to hurt it, and your mind would have never come to the conclusion of how to solve that plot point. So, you are welcome."
Makeda took a small amount of pleasure in Mordred's annoyed deflation at the author's words. The young knight had been trying to pick a fight with her whenever they talked, and the more time they spent together, the more he got under her skin. He seemed to have a particular grudge against her, and he was very good at surprising her with complaints constantly. But she put up with it, because they were on the same side and had the same goal. To defeat the Singularity. And, she could tell that he wished to keep Mash safe, which meant their secondary goals lined up as well. That was all she needed.
"Maybe I'll save Jekyll the trouble by shutting you up myself," said Mordred.
"A meathead solution," replied Andersen.
Before it could come to blows, Makeda stepped between the pair, hands out. "Now, now. We are all on the same side. It was because both of you that we dealt with Nursery Rhyme. You make a good team, so try to get along while the fog is hovering over London, okay?"
"Why don't you stop being so nosy," replied Mordred.
"Your type is the one that always butts into personal matters," said Andersen matter of fact.
Makeda felt an ear on the top of her head twitch, despite her best efforts. She managed to keep her face composed, a fake smile on it. "That may be true, but so is what I said, is it not?"
There were grumbles of assent from the pair, and she counted it as a success that they kept moving towards Jekyll's without exchanging blows. As they did, Mash moved to between Makeda and Andersen, looking excitedly at the writer.
"Need something?" asked Andersen curtly.
"I'm a huge fan of your stories," said Mash. "They were some of the first I ever read. I had some questions about them, if you wouldn't mind?"
Andersen looked like he was about to say something rude and dismissive but cut short when he noticed Makeda glaring at him. He seemed to get her message loud and clear, don't you dare be rude to her. So, instead he said, "An avid reader will make better conversation than a metal clad meathead. What did you want to ask?"
Mash ran through the dark London streets, Makeda and Mordred to either side of her. Ritsuka rest in Mordred's arms, holding on tightly. Time was of the essence, and it was faster for them to be carried than follow after. And much safer.
After returning to Jekyll's apartment, they had gotten an immediate distress call from Scottland Yard. The police station was under attack by a powerful enemy and a friend of Jekyll's had sent out the call. Right before being cut off by laughter. Leaving Andersen behind, they had rushed out as fast as they could.
Please, thought Mash. Let us be in time…
Her breath caught in her lungs as they stopped short of the police station, blood and bodies covering every bit of floor space. "It's horrible," she said under her breath.
"It is," said Makeda. Mash realized for the first time how keen her hearing must be. She had heard the ticking bombs back at Victor's mansion after all. "This is all very recent though, the killers may still be around. Keep on guard."
"Understood," said Mash, looking around for any signs of life.
"They're definitely in there," said Mordred, putting Ritsuka down. His helmet was on and he held his sword at the ready. "They don't know what's coming for them."
"Oh, we know plenty," said a calm, methodical voice. A man in a long white coat stepped carefully around the fallen bodies and exited the Police Station, hands up. "We do not know your identity mysterious Saber, but we have seen your handiwork, such as killing Mephistopheles. And for the members from Chaldea, we were told to expect you."
"One of the Masterminds I presume," said Makeda, studying the man.
"Yes, I am-"
"The mysterious P," said Makeda, interrupting him.
P studied her in curiosity. "Mysterious Caster, I must ask how you came to that conclusion."
"You have the air of one in charge, not simply taking orders," she said. "If you're one of the Masterminds, we know that only gives three options. It is then simply a matter of choosing one option and putting it forward with confidence."
"Clever," said P. "Unfortunately, that cleverness will not save you from what is to come."
"Maybe," replied Makeda. Mash saw a shadow suddenly appear in the air behind Makeda. She went to shout a warning, but her warning was unneeded as Makeda's Enigmas appeared around the shadow and each shot powerful balls of elemental magical energy. The shadow let out a quick cry before breaking apart into magical energy. A fog lifted from her mind and Mash realized that an enemy Servant had just been defeated.
"How?" asked P, looking visibly confused. "How did you know that Jack was there? No one should be able to remember her."
"My nature is similar to hers," replied Makeda. "Constantly changing depending on how it is viewed. Plus, I have high magical resistance and had seen her before. It did not take much thought to know that you had back up and who it would be."
"Ah," said P. "Goodbye then." There was a shattering sound as a magical gem hidden in the sleeve of his robe was crushed. Magical energy surrounded him and in the next instant he was gone. The moment after, Mordred's sword struck where he had been standing, cutting a line in the ground.
"Damn it," said the knight, resting his sword on his shoulder. "I hate mages."
"An enemy has been defeated," said Makeda, walking into the police station. "That will make it easier for us to move around. Now, we just need to figure out why they were here and what their next move will be."
The Caster sounded frustrated by something. Mash glanced to Mordred, but his expression was unreadable behind his helmet. He followed her into the police station, still muttering under his breath. She glanced to Ritsuka, and they shrugged. "Guess we'd better get searching as well."
"How come we had to bring back another annoyance?" asked Mordred, lounging on the couch like usual. Mash sat on an overstuffed armchair, enjoying the crackling warmth of the fireplace. Ritsuka sat on an opposite chair, reading a thick paperback they had pulled from Jekyll's bookshelf. Cywyllog lay curled up on the carpet right in front of the fire, her eyes closed in contentment. Muffled voices occasionally came from the closed door of the library where their other companions consulted.
While the more scholarly types among their group discussed what they knew and how to proceed, everyone else had been given some time to rest and relax. Recent events had been moving quicker and quicker, and Mash was glad for the time to catch her breath and think about what had transpired.
Since the Police Station they had encountered P a second time. This time, he had been trying to recruit the newly summoned Caster William Shakespeare to his side. Makeda had finally revealed his identity, that of the famous alchemist Paracelsus, right before a fight had broken out. This time he hadn't run, and instead been defeated for good. One of the three Masterminds behind Project Demonic Fog had been defeated and a new Servant had joined their side. Things were looking up.
"I think Mr. Shakespeare is just very animated," replied Mash. "Isn't it good to always have more help?"
"Maybe," said Mordred. He let out an aggravated sigh. "But why did it need to be another scholar? We already had three. Why not a third knight who could actually get something done?"
"A third knight?" asked Mash. "Who is the second?"
Mordred gave her a surprised look. "I mean you, of course. Who else could I mean? Definitely no one in that room."
"I'm not really a knight," replied Mash. She looked down at the floor. "I might be borrowing the power of one, but I can't even be sure of that. I don't know his name after all…"
"Then just make him tell you," said Mordred. A laugh. "He's always been easy enough to convince to my side before. Just apply a little pressure and he cracks."
Mash leaned forward in her seat, feeling excited. "So, you do know who he is."
"Of course. You do as well, don'tcha?"
"Well…," said Mash, feeling bashful suddenly. Ritsuka was looking at her in curiosity. She sighed. "Yes, I do. You confirmed my guess when we first met."
"Then just tell him to wake up."
"But what if the reason he's not talking to me is because he's sleeping but that he doesn't think I'm worthy?" she said, voicing her long held fear. "What if I'm not worthy of being a knight?"
Mordred sat up on the couch and glared at her. "'Then I'll just tell you what I told him all the time. Stop worrying so much. Just do what you want and act how you want."
"Is it really that simple?"
A shrug. "It's always worked for me." Mash wasn't sure she believed him, but she decided not to say anything.
"Anyway," said Mordred, changing the subject. "I was wondering why you trust that Caster so much?"
"Mr. Shakespeare?" asked Mash, confused by the question.
He shook his head. "No, the woman you came with. The lying king."
"Why wouldn't I?" asked Mash, confused by the question.
"Because she's clearly lying to you," replied Mordred.
A shrug. "Not sure," he admitted. "Probably everything. Lying comes way too easy to her."
Mash frowned, considering. "I guess I trust her because Doctor Roman trusts her, and I trust him."
"What if he's lying to you as well?"
She shook her head at that. "No, he couldn't be."
"Because, he's Doctor Romani Archaman. A boring, internet idol obsessed medical doctor who works for the Chaldea organization. He's exactly what he seems to be."
Mordred frowned. "If you say so. I'm not sure I believe anyone who could summon a Servant like that could be exactly what he seems. People like them, they lie like we breath. Mages are just like that…"
There was a moment of silence as no one knew quite what to say. Glancing down in the awkward atmosphere, Mash saw that Cywyllog, facing away from Mordred, had her eyes open, a sad expression on her face. She glanced back at Mordred as he stood from the couch and started to pace, his face twisted into an annoyed scowl.
"Anyway," said Mordred. "Just be careful. Whether you trust them or not."
Mash considered his words, and what he wasn't saying. She didn't like hearing him accuse Doctor Roman and Makeda, but she also realized that there was more to his words then he would ever admit. After a moment, she responded, "Thank you."
He looked at her in surprise. "For what?"
"For being concerned about me."
Another scowl. "Then if you get it, act like it!" At that he flopped back down onto the couch and buried his face in the book he had been slowly making his way through since they had gotten there.
Mash picked up her own book, the conversation very clearly over. Before she devoted her attention solely to it, she glanced down at Cywyllog. Her eyes were once again closed, but now there was a satisfied smile on her face.
"So, why are we going to the British Museum?" asked Ritsuka, walking next to Mash. Mash had been wondering the same thing when Makeda had told them their next destination but hadn't felt right asking. Everyone but Cywyllog had left Jekyll's flat, a first since they had arrived. Mash prepared herself for possibly the most difficult encounter they had faced yet. Jekyll didn't get a similar protection from Mordred that Ritsuka got from her, but the Casters had been able to create the next best thing. A face mask that would protect him from the demonic fog.
"Because we believe it may hold answers to questions about the Singularities and the Incineration of Humanity," replied Makeda.
"I believe it may," said Mr. Andersen, looking smug. "It is of course the natural progression of this hackney story,"
"And we concur with your instincts," replied Mr. Shakespeare, smiling at his fellow writer's annoyance. "I myself am excited to see what we may find there. My soul is burning with anticipation."
"Didn't we already check out that place when I was first summoned?" asked Mordred, glancing at Jekyll. "The place was totally wrecked, collapses blocking every possible entrance and hallway. Why the change of heart?"
"Because we have mages with us now," replied Jekyll. "What I hoped to find there before was allies, but when there were none left, that meant that there was no further we could go by ourselves. That has changed now."
"Allies?" asked Mash. She was confused by why he would be looking for allies at a Museum.
Ritsuka gained a look of understanding and insight. They looked excitedly around. "Wait, you were looking for the Mages of the Clock Tower, right?"
Jekyll nodded. "Correct."
"Mages?" asked Mash.
"Yeah," said Ritsuka. "It's well known in the Modern Mage World that the Clock Tower can be found through a hidden entrance in the British Museum." A frown. "Weren't you taught that as well?"
She flinched at that innocent comment. Ritsuka still didn't know about her past as a designer baby or that she had only ever lived in Chaldea. She wasn't quite ready to tell them yet either. Not with others around. "My education was very specific. I know about the Clock Tower as an organization, but its location wasn't ever told to me. It wasn't necessary, since I would never be visiting."
Ritsuka looked like they wanted to say something, but they also looked to know that the topic was fraught. So, they kept quiet. Mash made a note to discuss with Makeda about how to best tell Ritsuka, and whether doing so was even the correct path. She would know what to do.
"You see," said Jekyll, continuing the conversation as if a tangent had never happened. "I may know of Magecraft and the world of Mages, but I am not of that world. I can't cast Magecraft of my own, I'm just a simple scholar and amateur alchemist. And of course, Saber, you aren't a Mage either. Neither of us could gain entry, but now that we have Mages with us, they can gain us entry to the secret parts of the Clock Tower that would be hidden from us."
"Do you believe there's allies there?" asked Ritsuka, hopeful.
A shake of his head. "I don't," said Jekyll sadly. "But their records will hopefully be there, and maybe some useful mystic codes. There is likely to be something we can use, and that will make any trip worthwhile."
Mordred cracked his knuckles, his expression hidden by his helmet. "Just tell me who or what I need to hit."
"You will get your chance at violence soon enough," said Makeda. Mash thought that she sounded uncharacteristically harsh and annoyed whenever she interacted with the knight.
For his part, Mordred was clearly harsher with her than anyone else. Which, considering how he interacted with people in general was impressive. "Just don't go trying anything clever while we're in there. I know how you Mages can get while in your towers."
Mash sighed. The pair's bristling and posturing with each other was tiring. She wished she knew why it seemed impossible for them to get along. They were all allies after all. Plus, she liked both of them, and they were both so kind to her, so why couldn't that go for each other as well?
"We are here," said Makeda, ignoring Mordred's words. Mash looked and saw the smashed remains of the British Museum. Rubble from a caved in ceiling blocked every entrance. Her confidence in being able to find anything diminished, the place looked like a warzone.
"So," said Jekyll, glancing around the group. "Who wants to do the honors of clearing our path?"
Mordred stepped forward, his sword out. Electricity sparked around him and his weapon. He let out a fierce cry and slashed through some rubble, turning it to dust. He didn't turn around to face them, but Mash could just see his smug satisfaction in her mind. "Follow after me. I'll cover this and leave the magic bullshit for the Mages. Wouldn't want any of them to hurt themselves with grunt work after all."
Mordred continued into the Museum, smashing his way through the various bits of rubble. Jekyll let out an exasperated sigh and followed, a knife she hadn't known he had appeared in his hand. She had been wondering what, as a regular human, he was doing with them in a dangerous place like this, but both he and Mordred seemed confident he would be fine. That was enough reassurance for her.
"It's nice to have some muscle to do all our dirty work," said Mr. Andersen, walking next to Mash. He made eye contact with her then glanced over to Makeda, who was walking to the side of the group and examining various destroyed artifacts and pieces of art. "This could be done much easier with certain Magecraft. Curious that we're not using them though, isn't it?"
Mr. Shakespeare walked up to the other side of Mash, joining in on what she thought might be a conversation. "Ah, you should not judge a lady so harshly, especially one who is a ruler."
"Wait," said Mash, looking back and forth between the writers. "Were you told her identity?"
A shake of their heads. "Of course not," said Mr. Andersen. He smirked. "But you know, and just gave us a great hint."
Mash silently cursed herself, but also felt impressed by the writer's deductive ability. She decided to inquire later if he would ever be interested in writing a detective novel. She would love to read it.
"It is her bearing," said Mr. Shakespeare. "Of noble birth and training. She may be an existence that is a total enigma, but she is not unknown. Instead, I should say that only those whose heads are filled with empty thoughts would not be able to discover her identity."
"It seems even someone whose head is filled with rocks can figure it out," said Mr. Andersen, gesturing to Mordred. The knight was unaware of their conversation as he smashed through another large pile of rubble. "So, that begs the question, if her identity is so easy to figure out, why would she risk herself in a place like this?"
Mash pondered the question. It hadn't occurred to her, but when phrased like that, it made sense. Why now, four Singularities in, had she finally decided to join them? Was it just to collect information? And if it wasn't, why hadn't she been told the real reason?
Mr. Shakespeare laughed, smiling brightly. "The answer is clear, is it not?"
"Really?" asked Mash, looking at him. She thought about what the reason could be, but despite all the time with Makeda, she could only come up with one answer. She blushed as she said the it, feeling childish. "Could it be love?"
Another laugh. This time it attracted the brief confused attention of the others who had spread out to examine the museum. Even Mordred stopped smashing stuff briefly to send a helmeted glare back towards Mr. Shakespeare. "You guess my thoughts exactly," said Mr. Shakespeare. "For a famous ruler and romantic figure like her, only one option could move her to action like this. Love. A long-lasting love, transcending distance and time. Summoned into the modern era to protect humanity by the last Master of Chaldea. Isn't that interesting to you?"
Mash frowned at that. She glanced to Ritsuka. "But Senpai isn't her Master." She realized what she'd revealed right as she said it. Both writers looked initially surprised to hear that, but then their faces lit up. Something had been answered for then.
Mr. Andersen smirked. "That answers that question. Good job poet. Maybe your head isn't just filled with useless rhymes and notions after all."
Mr. Shakespeare gave a deep bow to Mr. Andersen. "I am honored by thy praise." He looked to Mash. "I apologize. That was not meant as a trick to pull information from you. I concluded wrong, but I do appreciate the clarification. I will keep the secret, and where I learned it from."
"Thank you," said Mash. She didn't know why, but she felt at ease with both men. Maybe it was because their stories and poems had been what she had grown up with, raised in Chaldea on their verses and rhymes. Doctor Roman had introduced them to her, and now that she met them in person, they felt like longtime friends. And she felt like they viewed her the same as well. Maybe it was a delusion, but it was one she chose to believe in. That feeling made her want to prove her wits to them as well. To be an equal. The challenge excited her.
"More and more questions arise," said Mr. Shakespeare. While they had been talking the group had entered a hidden tunnel system that Mordred had revealed. Makeda had moved forward and without a word cast a bit of Magecraft and opened a gap in a barrier. The tunnel system wound downward, and Mash had long ago lost her sense of distance. Mordred and Jekyll were covering the front, Makeda and Ritsuka taking the middle, with Mash and the writers taking the rear. While they talked, she kept her shield at the ready to protect them if needed.
"We assumed that your Master needed to be hers because we had so far not interacted with anyone else who would qualify," said Mr. Andersen. "A stupid assumption on my part."
"Wait," said Mash, thinking. "Wasn't Chaldea consulting with you while you were in the library?"
"They were," replied Mr. Shakespeare. "The brilliant Lady Da Vinci joined in our conversation and enlightened us with what she knew. You three are the only Chaldeans we have interacted with."
Mash considered that. It occurred to her that outside of the initial conversation with Mordred that she hadn't heard from or interacted with Dr. Roman. It was strange to go this long without talking to him, especially in a Singularity. She had been so absorbed with recent events that the strangeness of it all hadn't occurred to her. He hadn't come with them since he needed to stay back as Commander, but why wouldn't he be the one communicating with their allies?
"The world is full of secrets," said Mr. Shakespeare. "It does not strike me as odd then that Chaldea would be the same. You should not despair at not knowing either, those who are closest are often those unable to get the proper distance and prospective. It does mean that once you can, you will be the one most appropriate to uncover the mysteries that surround you."
"That's a long-winded way to put that," said Mr. Andersen. "That's just like you."
"But it is why you want to be down here in the first place, is it not?"
A begrudging nod. "It is." The passage opened into a large domed chamber. Several other paths like the one they had just traversed led into this room. Before them on the far side sat a large run covered metal door. The others all stood before it, studying it. "And this is where we drop our side chatter and move on to the real reason for this dumb walk."
As they joined the group, Makeda turned to regard them. "Did you have a good chat?" she asked brightly. Mash thought there was something off with her words, but she couldn't be sure. Maybe the conversation had tricked her into overthinking things she shouldn't?
"Enjoyable enough," said Mr. Andersen, pushing past her. He studied the door for a moment. "This looks like the place. Now, who wants to get this open?"
"I will," said Makeda and Mordred at the same time. The pair glared at each other.
Mash stepped between them, already dreading the argument and wanting to stop it before it begins. "Why doesn't Caster break it down? It is a magical door after all, she would probably have the easiest time."
"I agree," said Jekyll. Mordred shot a glare at him. "Not that I doubt that you could, but your way will be loud and possibly damage something of value behind it. This is all we have left to us. We need to proceed careful."
Mordred lowered his sword and stepped away from the door. "Fine, you win. She can use her Magecraft to get through. It's not worth my time anyways."
"I am glad that you have seen reason,"' said Makeda, moving and putting her hand on the door. She closed her eyes and a flash of magical energy radiated out from where she was touching. As it spread, a bounded field surrounding the door broke apart. When it was completely gone, she reached out and pulled on the large handle, the door creaking open. "Who would like to enter first?"
"I will," said Jekyll. His knife was out as he went through. Mr. Andersen and Mr. Shakespeare followed.
Makeda was about to follow as well but stopped short. Mash saw her ears twitching. The next moment Mordred was turning around, sword in hand. A chill ran down her spine and she looked down the dark tunnels, not seeing anything.
"'What's wrong?" asked Ritsuka, unsure of what they were reacting to.
"Something is coming," said Makeda. "I can hear the clinking of gears."
"I smell oil," said Mordred. He sniffed again. "And ink. And…well, a lot."
Mash looked down the tunnels, still unable to see anything but knowing that the other two were right. "I can't hear, see or smell, but I can still feel them coming. Senpai, you should join the others in the archive, I believe there's going to be a fight.
"But," said Ritsuka, about to argue.
"I agree with Mash," said Makeda. "We will be fighting a purely defensive battle. The sooner you find what we need, the sooner we can leave the fight."
"Just trust that Shieldy and I have got this, alright?" said Mordred confidently. "We're knights after all; this will be a cinch."
Ritsuka paused for a moment before entering the archive room as well. Mash could hear faint voices as they explained the situation, but soon she found herself needing to focus on what was in front of her. They had met a lot of different enemies throughout London, but what they saw now seemed to be an army comprised of each and every one. Monstrous homunculi, mechanical dolls, floating books and squat robotic figures. Dozens of each. Mash held her shield at the ready, Makeda and Mordred to either side of her.
She glanced to either side. "What's the plan?"
Makeda's hands started to glow with stored Magecraft. "We hold this point in a defensive patt-"
"Attack!" yelled Mordred, leaping forward and cutting a homunculus in half. A doll leapt at him and his sword came around to bisect it. A book opened its cover and magical energy started to build up. The process was interrupted as Mordred's sword flew threw the air, impaling it into the wall behind it. A robot tried to shoot him up close, but he just built up electricity around his foot and kicked it into a second robot, causing them both to explode.
Unfortunately, the flood of enemies was too much for him to stall. The enemies swarmed over him, sparks and yells flying through the air. Mash would have rushed to his side, but she found herself faced with half a dozen enemies of her own, all trying to take her out or push past her into the archive. She swung her shield at a homunculus, knocking it away. A frighteningly quick doll tried to hit her, but she managed to get her shield around in time to block its attack. That meant that she was left unprotected as a book shot a ball of fire at her. She saw the attack coming from the corner of her eye but was unable to move in time.
A wall of water interposed itself between Mash and the fire. There was a hissing as the attack was cancelled out. The water surged outward, breaking apart into five spears of water. The spears froze themselves and shot towards the crowd of enemies. Five spears, five hits and five enemies fell. Makeda didn't hesitate to continue her attack, four homunculi interspersed in the crowd catching fire. As they fell, they caught on two books, burning them to ash. She pulled out her incense burner and a sweet smell filled the air. A wall of smoke built up between the enemies and the two Chaldean Servants.
"There," said Makeda, letting out a brief sigh of relief. "That will give us a moment to gather our bearings."
"But Mordred's still out there," said Mash, the sounds of the knight battling and yelling reaching her through the wall.
Makeda scowled. "He made his choice when he leapt into battle with no plan."
"We need to rescue him."
"We will, but we will not risk our lives, or the lives of those behind us for someone with a death wish."
"He doesn't have a death wish," replied Mash, annoyed. "He clearly wants to live as much as anyone else. Just by his own rules."
"We do not get to dictate the rules and roles we are given," replied Makeda. Her ears were twitching in irritation. "He can struggle all he wants, but his recklessness is just going to get others hurt."
Mash turned to regard the wall of smoke. It looked solid despite what it was made of, and she could hear the sound of enemies scratching at and shooting it. She glanced back to Makeda. "Please let me out, I need to save him."
A frown. "I am not going to let you endanger your life."
"It's not endangering anything. It's a rescue mission."
"It is foolishness."
She gripped her shield, holding it in front of her. "I'm a knight, and I'm not going to let him die."
"He is a Heroic Spirit," replied Makeda. "If he dies, he will go back to the throne. If you die, you die. That will be the end of it all."
"But…" said Mash, hesitating for a moment. What should she say to that? Makeda was right, and she knew it. Then, after a moment she realized something. "It's what Mordred would do for me. That's all I need to know."
Makeda looked like she was about to argue for a moment, but she just let out an exasperated sigh. "Fine, if it is like that, then do not risk your life. I will go save him while you stay back. Like him, I am a Heroic Spirit, and I will just be sent back to the throne if I die. My life is less valuable than yours."
The words hurt Mash to hear, but she just nodded, taking a step away from the wall. She bent her knees, preparing herself. "Thank you," she said. "I'll hold here, please, just save him."
"I will," said Makeda, waving her hands. The wall broke apart in a blast of air, blowing all the enemies next to it backwards into their allies.
As soon as the gap was made, Mash gripped her shield tightly and leapt into the crowd of enemies which now filled the entire cavern, clouds of books flying over the ground bound enemies. She gathered her magical energy and created a protective barrier around just her, stronger than any she had ever made before. Usually she needed to protect many allies, but this time her only goal was to protect herself long enough to rescue another.
"Mash," yelled Makeda, finding herself left behind by the sudden reversal. "What are you doing?!"
"I'm sorry,"' replied Mash, knocking a group of robots to either side. "But please protect everyone until I get back."
She didn't hear Makeda's response as a large homunculus stood in her way. Mash bent her knees and leapt off the ground as hard as she could. Her shield smashed through the spongy body of the creature, the remains collapsing to the ground behind her. To her side a robot aimed a machine gun arm at her. It fired, but she interposed her shield between them. Not wanting to slow down, she released her shield and flipped herself over the shield. She came down with an axe kick, tearing the robot in half.
Mash back kicked a doll that tried to sneak up on her. She was starting to get a hang of their attack patterns. She moved to try to get around and pick up her shield, but another homunculus swung its arm at her like a club. She got her arms up to block the attack but found herself being flung through the air. Flipping wildly in confusion, she only managed to get her bearing when she landed on the shoulders of a third homunculus. A book tried to shoot her, but she leapt off and it hit the homunculus instead, disintegrating its head.
At that point, Mash was unsure of where she was or where Mordred might be. She leapt from enemy to enemy, trying to find her bearing. She could see powerful flashes of magical energy from the opposite end of the room, Makeda protecting the door to the archive. She looked around for Mordred and thought she saw some sparks of electricity from a particularly thick area of enemies. Her guess was confirmed when a doll head went flying and knocked a book out of the air on total accident. Her shield was too far away now though, and it was all she could do to dodge the enemy. She needed some type of weapon…
There! She leapt off a homunculus, landing in a crouch on a particularly large tome that was hovering around the field. As it tried to open its pages to attack, she used it as a springboard and leapt at the cavern wall. Her gauntleted hands wrapped around the hilt of Mordred's sword. She swung herself at the wall, striking it with her feet. She bent them and pushed off. The sword was in deep, but after a moment came loose. As soon as it was, she threw the sword to where she had last seen Mordred.
Mash fell to the ground, hoping her aim had been correct and yelled out, "Mordred! Incoming!"
She fell to the ground in a crouch, several dolls converging on her. She kicked and blocked, barely keeping the dolls away from her. Had she failed? Had she risked her life for nothing…
Suddenly, there was a powerful surge of energy from the center of the cavern. Red lightning sparked everywhere, striking books out of the air and incinerating homunculi. A powerful cry filled the air. "Who is ready for a rebellion? Take the full force of the sword that struck down my father, Clarent Blood Arthur!"
A massive swath of enemies was incinerated immediately as the energy exploded in a burst around Mordred. A beam of red energy struck the ceiling of the cavern, dislodging chunks of it which fell and crushed a dozen more enemies. Mash didn't need to be able to see him to know that Mordred had a vicious smile on his face as he brought his sword down with a shout.
"Take this!" As his sword sliced through the air, it incinerated several books that were unable to get out of the way. Once parallel to the ground; a large, powerful beam of energy shot out of the sword and down one of the side tunnels which enemies had been coming from. Every creature in the way was incinerated in an instant. A hundred enemies, gone in the blink of an eye. Mash felt the earth shake as the beam struck a wall as the tunnel bent. She heard a cave in, that route being blocked completely, at least for now.
A gust of wind shot through the much-thinned crowd of enemies. It pushed them to the side, leaving Mash a clear path to her shield. She didn't hesitate to take the opportunity that Makeda had given her. A doll tried to get in her way, but she just kicked it in the head, caving in the casing and knocking it to the ground. She leapt over the front of her shield and grabbed the straps on the other side. It was invigorating having the weapon back in hand, and she easily blocked a shot from a book. The book itself was blasted out of the air by a magical bolt.
A hand reached out and took Mash's. She turned to see the smiling, blood and oil stained face of Mordred. His helmet was off, nestled safely to the back of his armor. "Hey Shieldy," he said, pulling her through the cavern. "Thanks for the save. It's been fun out here, but let's get back to see if the nerds have finished their research yet."
Mash nodded, following behind. As they ran, Mordred cut down any enemies that got in front of them. She kept her shield at the ready, blocking incoming attacks from the rear and sides, bashing away any who tried to approach. They soon arrived back in front of the archive's doors, Makeda standing guard before it. There were piles of monsters surrounding her, their bodies quickly fading into nothing. She frowned at them; her gaze more critical than any Mash was used to seeing from her.
Mordred waved to Makeda. "Miss us?" he asked, a mocking smile on his face. "Putting up a decent fight?"
"I am," replied Makeda. She fired a magical bolt, taking out a book. "No thanks to your recklessness."
Mordred cleaved a Homunculus in two. "Did you see how many I just killed?" asked Mordred with a frown. "You would be crushed without my help."
"Your help? You mean the help that included putting yourself in danger, throwing away your only weapon, risking Mash's life to retrieve it, and forcing an ally to hold a point by themselves or risk the deaths of everyone on your team? That irresponsible act is what you count as help?"
"So, I miscalculated a bit," said Mordred, bristling as he kicked in the head casing of a robot. "It all worked out in the end."
Mash blocked a doll's attack, kicking it away from them. She hoped that Mr. Andersen and the others found what they were looking for soon so that they could leave before the pair came to blows. Makeda blasted another book out of the air. She shot a glare at Mordred. "Worked out in the end? We are still fighting, and all more tired for your actions than we should be. With a Noble Phantasm like that at your disposal being aimed properly we could have simplified this situation immensely with planned timing and coordination."
"Lay off," said Mordred.
"No. Someone needs to tell you how reckless you are. How much of a child you are."
"You're not my mother."
"And my son would never act like this. Yet, despite us having no relation, you treat me like you know me. Like you already hate me. I do not know who you think I am, but I am not that person."
"Yes, you are," yelled Mordred, glaring back at her. "A sneaky spellcasting trickster who uses words and lies on your allies. You lied to Mash, and you keep secrets. That tells me exactly what I need to know."
"There are reasons for that beyond what you know."
Mordred let out a frustrated yell as he stabbed out and skewered three dolls on his sword. He planted his foot on the front one and pulled his sword out, throwing them to the ground. "And there it is! The words of a King who thinks they know better than anyone else. Standing above, ruling from your throne and acting like only your reasons matter. Like your intent forgives anything you do. But it doesn't."
Makeda fired another magical bolt, but this time her aim was off. The bolt missed the targeted book, instead striking the wall. This opening allowed the book to open its pages, firing an ice spike at Makeda. Mash interposed her shield between the attack, protecting Makeda. With the extra time she was given, Makeda readjusted her aim and fired at the book again, destroying it.
"Caster?" asked Mash, sparing her a quick glance. Makeda's face was as stoic as ever, but she got the sense that Mordred's words had struck her particularly hard.
"I am fine," replied Makeda, her ears twitching. "Thank you for the assistance."
"The truth hurt?" asked Mordred.
Mash rounded on Mordred, glaring at him. "Knock it off!"
He looked taken aback by her reaction. "Wha-,"
"I get your frustration. I get that you're concerned for me. Thank you. But I don't want you attacking Caster like this. We're all allies. We're in this together. We can argue all we want once humanity is saved."
"I know. But she's not wrong. Neither of you are. Regardless of how different you are, you're also both very similar. So, I need you to put aside your differences and work together. If not with each other, then with me." She locked eyes with him. "Please?"
For several moments, neither said anything. They continued slashing, bashing and shooting enemies, but didn't respond to her. Then, as Mash blocked a homunculus trying to smash her into the ground, the creature found itself simultaneously cut in half and with its head blown off. The chunks of the homunculus fell to the ground, Mordred and Makeda standing to either side of Mash.
"I find those terms acceptable," said Makeda.
A nod from Mordred. "Yeah, sure, whatever you say Shieldy. You're just as pushy as Ga-, he was. Where do ya' want us to start?"
Mash smiled at the responses, but quickly frowned at finding herself in charge. That wasn't what she had intended, but neither of her allies seemed intent on issuing orders or following the orders of the other. She thought through what they should do. Glancing around the room, she saw that there were still dozens of enemies left, with a slow trickle still pouring in from each of the tunnels. Much more manageable, but still an issue.
"Saber," said Mash, glancing at Mordred. "We should hold this point. We don't need to beat all of them, just hold out long enough for the others to finish and rejoin us. Could you hold the left flank while I hold the right?"
A nod. "Sure thing. Easy enough."
The pair moved apart, preparing to cover their respective areas. Mash looked to Makeda. "Caster, please move back and cover us. I know it's a lot to ask, but you've got the best sight and longest range. Make sure no one gets past us."
"Gladly," replied Makeda with a smile. She moved back, standing just before the archive door. Magical energy started to build up around her as she prepared various Magecraft.
"Ready?" asked Mash, looking over the advancing hoard. They had taken some time of their own to regroup, and they had once again surrounded them and looked ready to continue their attack. She braced herself. This was just like the battles of famous heroes she had read about with Doctor Roman. The brave King Leonidas holding the great Persian army at bay with just three-hundred men. The Siege of Troy, where great shield heroes fought on both sides. The stories and legends of the hero inside of her… To be a hero, she would just emulate those she looked up to. And there was no one else she would rather do so with.
The hoard of enemies surged forward. Mash raised her arm and then knifed it through the air. "Hold them off," she yelled, hoping she sounded more confident than she felt. Magical bolts flew past her, striking book after book out of the air. Lightning surged around Mordred and laughter filled the cavern as he struck enemies down with every strike. Confident that her allies would be fine, Mash concentrated on the enemies before her. "Let's do this…"
Author's Note: I'm starting to think that Makeda and Mordred have issues with each other. There's a lot of ground covered in this one to get the band together and get past the parts that don't change that much. By necessity this fic assumes that you've played through the Singularities, because otherwise I'll be here forever writing everything. Things will be going into more detail starting next chapter. Also, Mordred's got himself a girlfriend. I wonder who Cywyllog really is…..
Chapter 7: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 3
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 7: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 3
"It is as I suspected," said Mr. Andersen, looking over the group.
They were back at Jekyll's apartment, sitting in a circle in Jekyll's living room. Jekyll was at his desk, taking and looking over notes as they talked. Mr. Andersen and Mr. Shakespeare had both commandeered overstuff armchairs, sitting in luxury to Jekyll's left. Mash, Ritsuka and Makeda had borrowed wooden chairs from around the house, sitting to Jekyll's right. Sitting across from Jekyll were Mordred and Cywyllog, sharing the couch. Mash noted that this was the first time she had seen the knight share his selected domain with anyone else. When Cywyllog had gone to sit on the floor once more, Mordred had ushered her onto the couch instead.
"The ritual for summoning Heroic Spirits is older than anyone thought," completed Mr. Shakespeare, earning a scowl from his fellow writer.
"Exactly," said Mr. Andersen. "The records in the Archive indicate that what we consider the Holy Grail War summoning Ritual today was adapted from an ancient system under which the strongest seven Heroic Spirits would be summoned to fight a powerful enemy. Something capable of wiping out all of Humanity."
"And what's that have to do with anything in London?" asked Mordred, looking bored as he leaned back on the couch. "I know I could qualify, but what's that mean for the rest of you chumps?"
Mr. Andersen let out a beleaguered sigh. "It means that the system is working in microcosm, summoning lesser heroes to defend each era. For whatever reason it is underestimating the threats, but luckily we've had Chaldea to pick up the slack."
"The great heroes from the end of time coming to save humanity throughout history," said Mr. Shakespeare theatrically. He laughed as he finished. "Is it not a marvelous story?"
"Whatever," said Mordred. "But that still doesn't help us against this fog or the monsters. Did you just make us waste our time?"
"Of course not," said Mr. Andersen. "We learned three very important bits of information from this."
"Really?" asked Mash, curious. She thought for a moment. "The first would be about the summoning system, correct?"
A nod. "That's right."
She spent another moment thinking but couldn't quite figure out what else Mr. Andersen could be talking about. "What else is there?"
"Lots," replied Mr. Andersen. "Think about it, we spent less than half an hour in the Mage Association's deepest archive and found exactly what I was looking for. What does that tell you?"
Mr. Shakespeare laughed. "And no, it is not just our great genius. Research is difficult when you are unfamiliar with an archive."
"I guess when you put it like that it sounds like a miracle," said Mash.
"That it would be," said Mr. Shakespeare. "But do miracles simply exist in this world?"
Mr. Andersen leaned forward in his seat. "They do not. Which means that someone placed it there for us to find, in a place we would find it."
Mash considered that. "That would mean that we have an unknown ally in this time, correct?"
"Exactly," said Mr. Andersen with a nod.
"That's great news," said Mash. She frowned. "But we don't know how to contact them, do we?"
"We do not. I doubt that they would want to be contacted anyways, if this is how they are giving us information."
"So, that's the second bit we learned," said Ritsuka. "What is the third?"
"Think," said Mr. Andersen. "What does this second piece of information contextualize?"
"I'm not sure," admitted Mash.
Da Vinci's diagram appeared in the center of the circle. Everyone was aware Chaldea had already been listening, but now she was making it clear that she wanted to contribute. Now that Mr. Andersen had pointed it out to her, Mash was curious why it was Da Vinci appearing and not Dr. Roman.
"Let me guess,"' said Da Vinci. "It recontextualizes anything we've learned in this era that may be of questionable authorship or origin."
"Is there something like that?" asked Mash.
"There is," said Jekyll, finally speaking up from behind his desk. From behind the stack of books that wall in his desktop, he lifted the journal that Cywyllog had given them. "Victor's journal, and any entries in here."
"It's fake?" asked Mash.
Jekyll shook his head. "No, I don't believe so. But the interesting thing is that this journal makes very little passing reference to me. There's one entry as a potential ally, but nothing about contacting me or sending me the information that I obtained from him."
"Was he being careful?" asked Ritsuka.
"Maybe," said Jekyll. He looked to Makeda. "Could you recount to us the order that the mission to Victor's mansion happened in?"
A nod. "Gladly. You told us that you were waiting for a message from an ally. It was listed as non-urgent. We went to meet with him, but something was wrong. After rushing the rest of the way to the mansion, we saw a man, Doctor Victor, dead on the ground, the Caster Servant Mephistopheles standing over his body. After a quick discussion we dispatched Mephistopheles. I realized that bombs had been set to detonate all around the mansion. Mordred charged into the building, rescued Cywyllog, and safely escaped it's destruction."
"Thank you," said Jekyll. He looked to the couch. Mordred frowned back at him. "Mordred, since you were the only one to make it into the mansion, could you describe what you saw?"
"Not much," he replied. A shrug. "I was in a hurry, you know? The place was a mess, completely trashed. I just had a feeling and I crashed through a bookcase to find a secret passage. It led downstairs to a basement. Inside was Cywyllog. The end."
"She was in a coffin, correct?" asked Makeda.
A scowl. "Yeah, she was. Good memory."
She returned his look with a smile. "Thank you. You also found the journal down there, correct?"
"Yeah. Cywyllog found it on the table and grabbed it, stashing it in her pouch right before I smashed my way out."
Jekyll leaned forward. "It sounds like they were looking for something before you arrived. Think back, what was the state of the basement like?"
"Hadn't been touched in days," said Mordred dismissively. "Nothing important to find there."
"Hadn't been touched?" asked Jekyll. "Are you sure of that?"
"Of course. What of it?"
Jekyll leaned back in his seat, his face twisted in thought. "That means that while they were searching the house, they never found the basement. So, that means Cywyllog and the journal were never found by the enemy. They were also probably what Mephistopheles was looking for."
Mr. Andersen chose that moment to chime in. "And that means that unlike the messages you received, the authorship of the journal can be trusted."
Mash considered that, looking at Cywyllog. She looked self-conscious, fidgeting slightly in her spot on the couch. A nagging feeling that had been bugging Mash since Mordred had first introduced the young woman to them surfaced again. The name Cywyllog sounded so familiar, but she couldn't quite place why. She had come across the name before, but where…
"Glad we got that all settled out," said Mordred, sounding bored. He leaned back on the couch and yawned very loudly. When he was done, he leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his expression serious. "But as interesting as that mystery crap is, did no one else notice the problem we've got?"
Jekyll frowned. "What problem would that be?"
"The short robot things," said Mordred.
"Ah," replied Jekyll. "Victor's journal actually has a reference and diagram of them. They're called Helter Skelters. There's not much more information to them besides that and passing reference to a 'controller'."
"The Helter Skelters are increasing in numbers," said Mordred. "Not sure anyone else noticed, but as we fought last time, there were progressively more of them, even as all the other things started to run out. Before delving into any other mysteries, we should stop those things, before there's too many to smash."
"How do we do that?" asked Jekyll.
Mordred shrugged. "No clue." He gestured around the room. "You're all the geniuses, I'm just the muscle. Figure out what to smash, and I'll smash it."
"You mentioned a 'controller'," said Da Vinci, glancing to Jekyll. "What was that about?"
Jekyll flipped through the journal. He held up a page that held a technical diagram of a Helter Skelter, tight handwriting filling the margins. "Right here. It's not much, just something about 'remote operation' and a 'controller'."
Da Vinci nodded. "That makes sense. Something is creating these Helter Skelters, but once they're in the world they're not advanced enough for independent operation. There's a controller system, likely so that the Mastermind behind them can direct their activities. That should be our next target. If we can find it, we could shut down the Helter Skelters and make operations in London easier."
"And how do you propose we find that?" asked Mr. Andersen. "Got any bright ideas?"
"I'll direct Chaldea's sensors to scan through the various possible frequencies. If we can get a lock on a frequency, we can find what is transmitting it to the Helter Skelters."
"Sounds good," said Mordred, glancing to Cywyllog and leaning back once again on the couch. He closed his eyes as he lounged. "I think that wraps up this conversation, right? Might as well take it easy until we get a clue of where to go."
The group nodded, no one quite sure how else to proceed. Mash thought Mordred's plan made sense. On the other hand, it struck her as slightly strange that he was willing to just wait and not run around London until they found the controller. Why was he acting so uncharacteristically? And why did Cywyllog look so uneasy? Who was she really? She looked at Makeda, wondering if she was wondering the same. She was surprised to see Makeda looking zoned out, her mind elsewhere. Mash realized that her mentor hadn't spoken a lot since their last battle. Should she say something to her?
Suddenly, Makeda's ears stood up and her eyes widened. As this reaction struck her, Mash noticed Mordred and Cywyllog sitting up as well, both tensing. She wasn't the only one to notice these reactions. Jekyll looked to Mordred. "What's up? Get tired of straining my couch?"
Mordred didn't answer. He jumped to his feet, his sword appearing in his hand. Mash summoned her shield, trusting his instincts. Makeda twisted around to face the window, hands out, magical energy glowing around them. "Mash, put a barrier up. Now!"
She didn't hesitate, bracing her shield on the floor of the flat. "Lord Chaldeas!" she yelled. A spherical barrier surrounded the group. As the barrier closed around them, the windows and walls around them shattered and splintered into thousands of tiny bits and pieces. Bullets and missiles struck the barrier, ricocheting and exploding off it. Mash closed her eyes, maintaining the barrier against the onslaught.
"Please hold it for another 36 seconds," said Makeda. "Saber, prepare to lead everyone away from here as soon as the barrier drops."
"Got it," replied Mordred. "You can do it Shieldy."
Mash didn't respond to either of them, instead focusing on holding the barrier. Time seemed to slow, the onslaught of bullets and missiles feeling like it was going to go on forever. Please, she thought to herself. Just a bit longer. I just need to holdout a little more…
"Drop the barrier!" yelled Makeda. Without hesitating or opening her eyes, Mash dropped the barrier. "Achat, Spirit of Wind, surge outwards!" She felt a powerful gust of wind moving outward and heard the sound of explosions ringing around them.
Someone took Mash's hand and pulled her forward. "Come Mash, let's get out of here," said the familiar voice of Ritsuka. Mash tightened her grip on their hand, forcing her eyes open. Makeda had done serious damage to the army of Helter Skelters that Mash now saw had been attacking them. Many had been pushed aside, thrown into walls or destroyed by their own reflected artillery. Mash and Ritsuka were near the rear, with Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Andersen running right in front of them. Jekyll was just ahead of them, knife in hand once again. Taking the lead was Mordred, helmet up and sword in hand, cutting down any Helter Skelters in his way as he cleared a path. Also, in hand was Cywyllog, her hand clasped in his, her dress billowing behind her as she easily kept up with the knight's pace. Not seeing her in front, Mash glanced behind and saw that Makeda was holding the rear, clouds of incense floating around her.
"I thought the Helter Skelter's weren't supposed to be able to attack indoors?" asked Ritsuka as they ran through the fog covered London streets.
Mr. Andersen scowled. "That was supposed to be the setting for this story, at least as we understood it," he said, sounding annoyed. "It seems I misunderstood what that really meant."
"It is an understandable mistake, said Mr. Shakespeare. "As far as thine eyes have seen, that is to be understood as the case. None of the common rabble have entered or attacked a home, only Servants have shown that ability."
"But what's that mean now?" asked Ritsuka.
"It means we're dealing with a Servant," replied Jekyll. Mash saw him pocket his knife and pull out Victor's journal from underneath his arm. He flipped through the pages as he spoke. "We assumed that all of the enemies we fought were mindless, with simple, unchanging orders. But what this implies is that those orders can change, likely under direction of a Servant."
Mash thought about that. "You mean the 'controller' talked about in that journal, correct? Someone is using it to direct the Helter Skelters, not just keep them operational."
He nodded. "That would seem to be the implication."
"So," said Rituska. "We just need to find this 'controller' and destroy it?"
"The plot progression would back that up," said Mr. Andersen. "Of course, I have no clue how to find such a thing."
"Does the journal suggest a method?" asked Mr. Shakespeare.
Jekyll shook his head. "Maybe if I studied the entire book in detail, but there's nothing obvious."
"Can Chaldea do something?" asked Ritsuka. They lifted their free hand to their eye and taped the Magecraft earpiece they used to communicate. As the channel opened, Mash just heard static. Ritsuka closed the channel, sighing. "It looks like we've lost Chaldea for now. The fog is too thick outside as we're moving through it for them to lock on to us."
"We'd need to stop and reconnect," said Mash, thinking the problem through. She looked around, Helter Skelter's attempting to close around them. She blocked some bullets with her shield while projecting a snowflake barrier around Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Andersen. The snowflakes shattered and broke on impact but protected the pair of Casters. Makeda launched several magical bolts at the Helter Skelters, destroying them.
Mordred continued slashing his way through the army of robots. He looked back at them over his shoulder. "Stopping to chat isn't going to happen. We'll need to find that controller while on the move. Any ideas?"
"This is out of my expertise," replied Mr. Shakespeare. Jekyll and Mr. Andersen nodded in agreement.
"What about you, Caster?" asked Mordred, yelling down the line to Makeda.
Makeda destroyed another Helter Skelter before turning her attention to him. She shook her head. "I do not know either. My eyes see a lot, but this is beyond their scope. If we happened to get near, I could likely identify it, but finding it in the first place is not something I am prepared for without taking time to cast Magecraft."
Mordred swore under his breath. "Damn it. All I'm hearing is this is up to me. Just great…"
"Unh," said Cywyllog, getting his attention. "Uh uh."
"Are you sure?" asked Mordred.
"Ughnnn," replied Cywyllog.
He nodded. "Understood." He cut a Helter Skelter to pieces before yelling down the line. "Follow me and don't get lost. I've got an idea!"
No one had time to respond as Mordred suddenly turned left around a corner. Mash and the other followed, finding themselves running down an alley. There were more Helter Skelters down this way as well. Electricity built up around Mordred and when he cut a Helter Skelter in half it discharged into lightning that speared two nearby robots. Mash was curious to note that as his red energy ran over him, it didn't harm Cywyllog, instead turning green as it met where they were holding hands.
"Uhn," said Cywyllog. In response, Mordred turned right down another alley. She turned just in time to see him turning a second time quickly, this time left. Then straight for a while and left once again. A dizzying array of instructions, all of which she realized were coming from Cywyllog. Mordred followed dutifully and it took all the stamina the rest of the group had to keep up with the pair, neither seeming to tire.
Mash had long lost the path of where they were heading, but eventually they came to a straightaway that led to a large, official looking building. Standing in front of the building were eighteen Helter Skelters, all of which had their guns leveled at the approaching group. Mash prepared to put up a barrier, thinking about how to best get through the barricade. But more red electricity built up around Mordred and his helmet broke apart and traveled down his armor, nestling on his back. He held his sword tightly in one hand, preparing to attack. As Mash prepared to defend them, just in case, she saw something strange. Tiny sparks of green electricity built up around Cywyllog's hand and danced around and up Mordred's, turning red and joining the rest of his sparking.
"Clarent Blood Arthur!" yelled Mordred, swinging his sword one handed and sending a powerful beam of energy towards the Helter Skelters. They tried to return fire, but their artillery was destroyed by his Noble Phantasm. The blast tore through the robots, disintegrating them. The blast halted before hitting the building. Mordred looked over his shoulder at the others. "Right in here!"
"That's the House of Parliament," said Jekyll, knife in hand once again, Victor's journal stashed in his coat. "What are we doing here?"
Mash was unsure of the reason either, her mind buzzing with more and more questions that she wanted answers to. It had become clear to her that Mordred was hiding something from them. Something it seemed about Cywyllog. But what could it be? What was this nagging feelings she'd been having? What was she forgetting?
They ran into the large building, a wave of Helter Skelters following behind them. They were much slower than the group, but their ranks never seemed to thin. Inside the building Mash saw a strange mechanism the size of a person sitting on the lobby floor, steam puffing out of it at steady intervals. Nine more Helter Skelter guards turned to face them, weapons at the ready. Mordred finally let go of Cywyllog's hand, leaping the distance to the group. He cut two in half with one swipe and stomped a third to pieces. The remaining six retargeted to shoot him, but magical bolts from Mr. Andersen, Mr. Shakespeare and Makeda took out three more. Mash closed the distance and brought her shield down, smashing a seventh robot. A magical bolt from Ritsuka stunned the eighth, giving Jekyll time to stab the Helter Skelter in a weak point between its head and body, halting its functions.
The ninth took no notice of the loss of its allies, determined to finish off the intruder. Its gun aimed point blank at Mordred and clicked ready. But, a scream of fury interrupted it as a white blur leapt on top of it. Cywyllog's white gloved hands reached out, grabbing the gun and the body of the robot. She pulled at it, yelling as she did. Mash watched in amazement as she ripped the gun arm off the rest of the robot, disarming it as literally as possible. Her heterochromatic eyes were filled with fury as she whipped around and smashed the gun arm into the Helter Skelter. Again, and again, and again. In a matter of moments, the Helter Skelter was reduced to a pile of rubble, everything quieting as the last of Cywyllog's cries rang through the House of Parliament.
"Thanks for the save," said Mordred, flashing a bright smile at Cywyllog. She calmed down at his voice, the fury leaving her face. She nodded, back to the same Cywyllog they had become familiar with. Except she wasn't, and a moment later Mordred finally noticed everyone staring at them in surprise. He moved over to the device that the Helter Skelters had been guarding. "This looks like the controller thingy we were looking for. Who's got an idea for shutting it down?"
"No, you don't," said Jekyll, frowning and walking up to Mordred. "You can't distract from this. I noticed you doing it before, and you were right on where we should focus. But we need to take a moment to discuss what Cywyllog just did. You told us she was a regular person."
Mordred tried to look innocent, looking away from Jekyll. "I don't think I ever said she was 'normal', did I? Just not, you know, someone we need to be concerned about."
"We are not concerned about the lady," said Mr. Shakespeare, his eyes sparkling as he reevaluated Cywyllog. "But we are interested in her, and her real identity."
"It was pretty obvious that you supplied a fake name," said Mr. Andersen. "But since I didn't know where the name was from, or have a clue to her true identity, I let it pass."
Ritsuka looked around. "She's not a Servant, right? Just a human?"
"She's not a Servant," said Makeda, shaking her head. "But she's not a human either. She smells of oil and death."
Mordred looked guilty and annoyed at having been caught in a lie. Cywyllog looked terrified, her hands tightly clenching the folds of her dress, her gaze alternating between Mordred and the others. She looked like she wanted to run from the room and could do so at any moment. Mash felt bad for her. She realized something. Mordred knew who she was, somehow. He knew and had been covering for her. But none of them knew her identity, so she didn't know why it would need to be kept secret.
She closed her eyes and considered what she'd learned since meeting Cywyllog. They had found her in a hidden basement. She wasn't a Servant, but to call her a regular human seemed to be missing an important middle ground. She was clearly stronger, faster and with more endurance that a regular human. And of course, there was the sparks she had witnessed between her and Mordred.
Jekyll frowned at Mordred. "We don't have time for this Saber. Just tell us so that we can figure out how best to proceed."
"I won't," replied Mordred, shaking his head. He glanced to Cywyllog. "Until she tells me it's fine, I'm not saying a word."
At his words, Cywyllog calmed down a bit, her hands unclenching slightly around the folds of her dress. She didn't look like she would run at any moment, but she also made no move to say anything to clear up the situation. Jekyll and Mordred were both right, they didn't have time for this. But neither side seemed willing to budge.
Mash stepped between Mordred and Cywyllog and the others. "I think I know who she is," she said, trying to sound surer than she really felt. She thought of Sherlock Holmes, confidently declaring a deduction even when he might only have a hunch. That was who she would imitate in this moment. She glanced to the stubborn pair. "I know you don't want to tell us, but we need to know. So, how about this. You give me one guess. After that, we won't bother you again."
The pair glanced to each other, looking interested. Cywyllog nodded. "Fine," said Mordred. "You've got yourself a deal Shieldy. Just make sure everyone else keeps their end of that deal as well."
"We will," said Makeda. "I promise to enforce that everyone in our party keeps to the bargain made. You have my word as a mage and ruler." There were nods of agreement from the others, all of whom were watching with interested expressions. Mash could feel the pressure pushing down on her, but she fought back, preparing to move forward.
Mordred grinned. "Good enough. Ok Shieldy, give it your best shot."
"Not quite yet," said Mash. "I need to confirm a few things first."
"I'm not going to give you any hints."
"Just with the others. Just one question for each of them. May I?"
A sigh. "Fine."
She looked to Makeda. "Caster, you said that Cywyllog 'smelled like oil and death' but was human not a Servant, correct?"
Makeda nodded. "That is correct."
"Thank you. Jekyll," said Mash, looking at the man. "When you first sent us to the mansion that we found Cywyllog at you said it was owned by 'The Doctor' and later confirmed in the journal that he was Doctor Victor, but there was no last name?"
Jekyll looked surprised for a moment then frowned in thought. "That is correct. I had never heard a name before. When I found the journal, I assumed that Victor was his family name, but it might make more sense if it was his given name, with the family name excluded."
A nod. That's what she had been thinking as well. That opened several possibilities. "Caster," she said, glancing at Mr. Andersen. "Is it possible in this Singularity that figures we might think are only fictional could exist as living people?"
He smiled at that. "I never thought you would ask." He pointed to Jekyll. "Our friend here is a great example. There are no records of a living Dr. Henry Jekyll, but there is a novel in which he features as a character. Whether he existed or not in proper human history isn't important, he's here now. And it's possible others exist as well."
Jekyll nodded. "Yeah, I thought that might be the case as well." He flashed an uneasy smile at Mash. "Don't worry, I'm not offended by the accusation. I have memories of my life, but it makes sense that at least to others it might seem like a fiction."
Mr. Shakespeare chose that moment to speak up as well. "I believe that holds true for other figures as well from mythology. My fellow writer and I surely existed, but the figures that made the Knights of the Round Table are enigmas on their true existence or not, yet clearly, we have one before us. The same with our wonderful fellow Caster. What we believe to be true may be a fiction for others, and vice versa. Isn't it a fascinating phenomenon?"
Mash nodded at that. "Thank you. That answers my next question. Uh, we'll count that as if I asked you. I don't want to cheat after all."
The Bard smiled at that. He gave a slight bow. "I am glad to help and would hate to nullify this fascinating wager. Please, continue with your deductions."
Mordred was starting to look impatient. "Come on, guess already. You're already out of questions."
"I still have one more," said Mash, pointing to Ritsuka. "But first. We know that Cywyllog, and Doctor Victor's, identities could be anyone. But there are not many people who are scientists, with a secret basement in which a person may be found. I think this man may be more famous and well known than we thought. I saw your lightning Mordred, and it didn't harm Cywyllog. She's strong, fast and has powers beyond a regular human. She's not a mage though, so what is she? I believe that Doctor Victor's family name is Frankenstein, the famous character from Romantic fiction."
"Like the book Saber was reading!" said Ritsuka, looking excited. Mordred glared at them and they glanced away, having been caught peeking when the knight hadn't been looking.
"Is it?" asked Mash, giving an internal sigh of relief. She had suspected something like that but Ritsuka had never told her after they had peeked at the book. It would be too much of a coincidence if her guess wasn't right after that info. "I guess that counts as my final question, and the final piece of the puzzle. Cwyllog's identity must be one that could put her in danger if we knew, that's the only reason you would be covering for her Saber. You were protecting her, because her real identity is that of the creature created by Victor Frankenstein!"
Mordred's annoyed expression made it clear that she had guessed right. Before he could say anything though, a white gloved hand gently grabbed his shoulder. 'Cywyllog' smiled gently at him before nodding to Mash. "My…name…," she said slowly, almost painfully. "Is…Ad-am."
Mash nodded, smiling. "That's what the creature created by Victor Frankenstein considered naming themselves in the novel."
"Ugn," said Adam, back to her regular pattern of speaking.
"Yeah," said Mordred. "She chose the name herself."
Jekyll nodded. "That explains everything. A created being, no wonder she's so strong and able to keep up with you. Even if she's not a Servant, she's probably beyond anything I'm capable of."
Mordred grinned. "That's not because you're human but because you're you. You should work out more instead of just reading books. You'll never get a girlfriend with wimpy arms like that."
A frown. "I don't need a meathead like you telling me something like that. And, I might add, I already have a fiancée."
"Oh? Where is she then?"
"She's currently on holiday in the country."
"Sure, she is…"
"I hate to interrupt," said Makeda. "But I believe that we've been surrounded."
Mash looked around and saw that she was right. An army of at least fifty Helter Skelters had made it in the building after them, weapons trained on the group. Mordred, Makeda moved to the front of the group without hesitation, weapons at the ready. Behind her she saw Ritsuka, Mr. Andersen and Mr. Shakespeare preparing offensive Magecraft. Jekyll once again had his knife in hand, but she hoped he wouldn't need to use it. And Adam…Mash heard a loud cry of rage and turned to see her driving her fist into the large machine they had come to the building for. Her arm went elbow deep into it. In the next instance, green lightning flashed outward from inside the machine. The controller exploded, most of the pieces being incinerated by the blast. Mash turned completely and projected a shield around the back of their group, protecting them from any shrapnel.
"The Helter Skelters!" said Ritsuka, causing Mash to look over her shoulder, expecting an attack she would be unable to protect from. Instead, she saw all the robots hunched over, the lights in their eyes extinguished.
"It seems this was indeed was what controlling and empowering them," said Makeda. "That could have been done in a more elegant manner though."
"Eh," said Mordred, unsummoning his sword. "Who cares about that? Threat dealt with. Good job Adam."
"Does that mean we don't need to worry about the Helter Skelters anymore?" asked Ritsuka, looking around.
"It may," said Mr. Shakespeare. "But alas, that might not be the most interesting tale. Be prepared for a few more twists and turns."
Mash looked around as well. Most of the controller had been destroyed, but there were a few bits and pieces lying around. She saw a particularly large piece nearby and walked over to it. Picking it up she saw it was a piece of the outer casing. Flipping it over she saw words written on it. "Charles Babbage, AD 1888…"
"What was that?" asked Makeda, looking over at her. "Find something?"
"I think so," said Mash, holding up the plate. "It's from the controller. It has something written on it. But, the words don't make any sense…"
Jekyll came over and examined the plate. "It looks like a manufacturer's signature. Or maybe something an inventor would put on their work. Does anyone know who Charles Babbage is? The name sounds familiar…"
"Why don't we ask Chaldea?" asked Ritsuka. They put their hand up to their ear. "Chaldea, this is Ritsuka. Do you read us?"
For a moment nothing happened, then Da Vinci's image appeared in the air in front of Ritsuka. It wavered in and out for a moment. "Finally," said Da Vinci, sounding relieved. "With all of this magically fog it's such a pain to track and contact you when you're on the move. It looks like everyone is safe after that attack. Anything to report?"
"Lots," said Ritsuka. They glanced at Adam, who nodded. "Uh, it's kind of hard to explain, but I guess Cywyllog is actually the creature created by Doctor Victor Frankenstein, or something like that. Her name's Adam."
"Wow," said Da Vinci. "That's a bombshell to drop on us suddenly."
"Yeah. Well, it turns out she was able to lead us to the Helter Skelter Controller. She destroyed it and they've stopped moving."
"Great. We'll check to see if that's halted all of them in the city or not. And maybe try to figure out who created them in the first place. They definitely don't belong in this era."
"About that," said Mash, moving forward and holding up the plate. "We found this. It says 'Charles Babbage, AD 1888'. The name sounds familiar, but I'm not sure why…"
Da Vinci's eyes glowed with excitement. "Charles Babbage is a famous inventor. Working with Ada Lovelace they're credited as the creators of what would become modern computers and programming. Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but that's the short version. I would love to meet and talk to either of them. But what's strange is that date. Babbage was dead by 1888, so there shouldn't be any of his work signed with this year. Of course, there are ways…"
"The most reasonable of which is that he's a Servant," said Mr. Andersen. He looked excited for a moment. "And wouldn't you know it, we have a 'B' in the list of masterminds we discovered." His expression became annoyed. "Ugh. Now that I've figured out the twist it's getting boring again."
"That would seem to be the most likely scenario," said Da Vinci. "There's no record of anything like the Helter Skelters being worked on by Babbage, or existing in our world, but as a Servant it would make sense that they could be created."
"Great," said Mordred, smiling and cracking his knuckles. "Now, how do we find him?"
Da Vinci shrugged. "There's a few methods we can try, but with the fog interfering with our instruments and still only having a name, it will be hard to find him."
"I believe that is going to be harder than anticipated," said Makeda, drawing the group's attention. She gestured to the Helter Skelters. "They are reactivating."
Mash looked and saw that she was right. A mechanical buzzing filled the air, one she hadn't noticed was there until it hadn't been. The lights on the Helter Skelters turned on, glowing red as the robots started to right themselves, lifting up their guns.
"New plan," said Mordred, moving to the front, sword out. "We blast our way through, and Adam leads us to the big boss."
Mash moved to his side, shield at the ready. "I'm not sure blasting our way out is going to work. There's a lot of them in our way."
"Got a better idea?"
She thought for a moment. "Caster, please prepare to take us into the air."
"Understood," replied Makeda, starting a chant.
"Mordred, can you fire off you Noble Phantasm? Just to buy us some time."
A vicious smile. "Of course." Energy started to crackle around him. "Get out of our way you tin cans! Clarent Blood Arthur!"
A blast of red energy shot out once more into the crowd of Helter Skelters. Dozens were vaporized as the energy faded off into the fog covered London streets. A large gap was created, but Mash could see a crowd of Helter Skelters ready to close it. As soon as the path out of the building was clear Mash leapt into action, running outside. "Follow me!"
She didn't bother to check if anyone was following her, she had too much to focus on in front of her. She made it outside, stopping just a few feet in front of the lead Helter Skelter. She brought her shield down, unleashing her Noble Phantasm again. "Lord Chaldeas!"
A large domed shield surrounded the entrance to the House of Parliament, protecting the rest of her allies as they exited the building. She had just been in time as the Helter Skelters let loose a rain of bullets from all sides, the missiles striking her shield. She concentrated on keeping it up, trusting Makeda to do the next part.
"Prepare to drop the shield when I unleash my Noble Phantasm," said Makeda. Mash didn't nod, just focusing her senses on holding the shield and listening for the right moment. "Activate the First Enigma! Achat, Spirit of Swift Arrival!"
Mash dropped her barrier as a gust of wind spun around them. The group was flung into the air to safety. Below them, Mash saw several Helter Skelter destroyed by friendly fire as the barrier disappeared and nothing stood in their way. The ground bound Helter Skelters tried to readjust their aim upward, but Makeda was whipping her wind into action with no hesitation. She gestured and they shot off across the river. With another gesture they descended, landing gently on the other side. The Helter Skelters were looking around, trying to reorient and find them, but unable to do so.
"Thank you," said Mash. Makeda nodded, looking uncomfortable for some reason. She had been acting strangely since they had Rayshifted to London, but Mash had just thought it was her imagination. Now, she felt like she just hadn't been trusting her instincts enough.
"No time for chit chat," said Mordred, his helmet once again covering his face. He held out a hand to Adam, who took it. "Let's go find this Babbage guy."
Adam looked hesitant for a moment, but then nodded, breaking into a sprint and dragging Mordred with her. Mr. Andersen and Mr. Shakespeare glanced to each other, exhaled heavy sighs and ran after. Jekyll and Ritsuka followed, with Mash and Makeda taking the rear. Once again, they ran through the fog filled London streets. Ducking and dodging through the empty main streets and alleyways. Since they had left the Helter Skelters on the other side of the river, for now they were left alone, no enemies to fight, just someone to find.
Mash looked to Makeda next to her and thought about what to say. She knew she needed to say something. Wanted to say something, but she didn't know what. What was the problem anyways? What was this bad feeling she had, like time was running out soon but she couldn't see the clock or the danger itself?
"It's strange that we haven't heard from Dr. Roman recently," said Mash, getting Makeda's attention. The Caster looked at her in surprise. "I mean, usually he's constantly talking to us and monitoring things while we're in the Singularities. But this time he's only done so when we first rayshifted in. Otherwise we've only talked to Da Vinci. I know that we're moving a lot through territory that can't be monitored and communicated with easily, but it's still strange. It feels, kind of lonely."
Makeda gave Mash a gentle smile, although there seemed to be something sad about it. "I have never found physical distance to be a hard obstacle to overcome. No matter how large, it can eventually be crossed. Emotional distance on the other hand, that has been something I have never yet managed to defeat."
Mash considered that for a moment. "When I was a child, the only people I was able to communicate with were scientists in a very professional researcher and subject relationship." She thought she saw sharp movement in Makeda's ears and tail when she said those words, but in the next instant they were calm like always. "But I knew what I was. A subject. I was okay with it. I mean, I didn't know anything else, so I guess I had to be okay with it?"
She took a deep breath, trying to gather her thoughts. She let it out slowly before continuing. "But then Doctor Roman appeared. I was ten. He was a scientist, just like the others, at least I thought so. But he talked to me in a way none of the others did. I had shared physical space with others before, but that was the first time I shared a social space. Emotional space. And I guess I've been sharing that space with him since then. So, it's just weird to not hear from him."
"He is your parental figure after all."
Mash blushed, sputtering as she tried to respond. "Parent? Dr. Roman? No, no no no no. That's absurd. He's a very good for nothing adult, and…"
A laugh. "I am sorry for my misunderstanding then. I guess you are right. He is pretty good for nothing. Spending all of his time chatting with internet idols and ignoring his duties."
"He doesn't ignore his duties," replied Mash without hesitation. How could she say something like that? "Dr. Roman only spends time messaging Magi Mari when everything he needs to do for the day is complete. Just because he completes that work much faster than anyone else it looks like he's slacking off. But that's not how it is. And there are never any errors in his work either. He's the most competent person at Chaldea. Even if his attitude makes it seem different."
Another laugh. "I am sorry for my misunderstanding once again." A smile. "I am glad to hear such praise about the man I love. And to hear that he has a daughter who loves and respects him so much."
"Daughter?!" said Mash, almost missing a step on the cracked London streets. "'No, it's not like that. We're not related by blood. And regardless, I'm just his patient and coworker, nothing else."
Makeda's expression turned harsh for a moment. "If you truly believe that, then you may need to reevaluate what you thought you knew about him." Her expression softened. "This is not just hearsay on my part. Yes, he entered Singularity F to help protect humanity. But I can tell though the wishes and emotion put into my summoning that what he truly wished for, more than anything else, was to protect you. That pure wish is why I was summoned as completely as I was. As powerful. And I know, even now, when it may seem like he is nowhere to be found, that that wish still powers our contract. Have more faith in that bond. It and others like it will be what carry you through these Singularities."
Mash considered her words for a few moments. Neither said anything, just focusing on running in their still twisting path through the London streets. A few enemies had appeared, but Mordred and Adam had made quick work of them, hardly slowing as they ran hand in hand.
"Thank you," said Mash finally. A question occurred to her. "If that was Dr. Roman's wish on the Grail, then what was yours? You wouldn't be able to be summoned without a wish, right?"
"The summoning in these Singularities is different, as Servants without strong wishes can be summoned as heroes to defend the planet, instead of during a regular Grail War where a Heroic Spirit without a wish could never hope to be summoned."
"So, you don't have a wish?"
She thought she saw a slight blush on Makeda's cheeks. "I-I do not have a wish so much as a desire. At best a promise."
"To see my true love again."
"You mean, King Solomon?"
A nod. "Yes."
A frown. "But he's not in this era. Are you hoping that he will be summoned as a Servant to fight beside Chaldea?"
A laugh. "It might be possible to summon him with intent, but only with a powerful catalyst and the lack of a wish. That man like me has no wish he wants granted. Just a desire."
"What's his desire?"
Makeda put a finger to her lips. "I cannot tell you. The secrets of others belong to them. It is possible that he may be summoned by the planet to defend it, but that would only be if there were no other options. His power and abilities are far beyond what a regular Servant could contain."
Mash considered that. "Like the foundation for the Holy Grail War that Andersen was talking about? Seven Servants summoned to defeat a world ending threat?"
"But we're dealing with the incineration of humanity. Why hasn't he appeared yet? Why haven't any of them?"
"That is a good question," replied Makeda. "Let us think about it another way. If there was a threat capable of ending Humanity, then what might they do first?"
Mash thought about the question for a moment. "Remove anyone who could prevent Humanity's destruction?"
"Correct. That is why Lev Lainur tried to destroy Chaldea after all, an act justified by what you have accomplished in the previous four Singularities. But what dictates that Chaldea was their first and only target? If there was a way to disrupt the natural defenses of the planet, then the summoning of the seven defenders could be prevented. And subsequently, any Servants qualified to be summoned in such a capacity would not appear when it may make the most sense for them to."
"So, does that mean your wish is to allow him to be summoned and protect humanity?"
A pause. Then, a quick laugh. "No, I do not think it is quite that. I fully do not expect him to be able to be summoned into any of these eras. It may even be better that way considering I am currently bound to another man." A wink. "It would be pretty troublesome to have two men fighting over me."
Mash giggled at that scandalous thought. The image of Dr. Roman fighting the King of Mages for Makeda's hand in marriage struck her as completely absurd. "You're right. It's probably better for that to not happen. I don't think Dr. Roman would stand a chance."
"He may surprise you," said Makeda. She frowned, holding out her hand and gesturing for Mash to stop. "What is happening here?"
Mash came to a halt, realizing that everyone else had already done so. She looked around and saw that everyone seemed as confused as she was. Except for Mordred and Adam.
"I don't know," said Jekyll. He looked to Mordred. "Why did you stop? Are we close to where Charles Babbage is?"
Mordred shook his head. "No, we're not. That's the problem. We're been running and running and we're no closer to finding him."
"Why not?" asked Ritsuka. "Is he running or hiding from Adam?"
"That's not it," said Mordred. He turned to face Adam, taking both of her gloved hands into his. His helmet broke off, sliding down and slotting into the back of his armor. He looked into her eyes, a gaze she sheepishly returned. "You're not leading us to him, are you?"
He shook his head. "I've patrolled the entire city several times over since I got here. I know the layout. You're leading us in circles and specifically avoiding something. Why?"
Adam shook her head, hands gripping Mordred's tighter. "Uhn uh uhgn!"
"I don't think you really believe that deep down," said Mordred sadly. Mash had never seen him with an expression like that before, one that combined sadness and empathy for another person. Whatever Adam was telling him, he really wanted to agree, but couldn't.
"The fact that you're trying to protect him by leading us away from him proves that you don't really believe what you're saying. If he was a truly good man, who could never create these things, then you would lead us to him, and we could see for ourselves. But you're hesitating, which means you also believe, deep down, that he's guilty for this." Mordred pulled Adam towards him. She stumbled on the cobblestones, falling into a tight embrace. He looked up into her eyes and his voice softened. "Please, just bring us to him. I promise we'll talk to him first before fighting."
Adam was tense for a moment before her body relaxed into his embrace. Her arms came up to wrap around the knight. Her head slumped down, her forehead leaning down to rest against his. Their eyes closed; the world shut out from their embrace. They stood like that for a moment, the others just watching. In a rough voice and soft tone came the reply. "I…will…"
"Thank you," replied Mordred. He opened his eyes as they broke the embrace. He smiled at Adam before a loud sniffle broke the moment.
Mash looked down the line to see Mr. Shakespeare, a smile on his face and a single tear running down his cheek. He brought a handkerchief to wipe it away. "Such a beautiful and tender moment. I will be sure to capture it in my rendition of our adventures together."
A scowl. "Don't you fucking dare," said Mordred, rounding on the writer. He looked around, as if finally realizing that the others had been watching as well. He pointed to them. "Don't any of you ever say a word!"
Ritsuka raised their hands up defensively. "We didn't see or hear anything. Honest!" They looked to either side. "Right?"
Mash nodded. "Of course. I was, uh too busy talking to Caster."
Makeda nodded. "Same. Completely engrossed."
Jekyll scratched his ear. "I think I need to go to the doctor when this is all over. I've been having hearing problems lately."
Mordred glared at Mr. Andersen and Mr. Shakespeare. "We saw nothing as well," replied Mr. Andersen, smirking. "I was too engrossed in my own thoughts to pay attention to any potential drama around me. Now, if we're done with this diversion, may we proceed onward?"
A heavy sigh. "Yeah, whatever." Mordred looked back to Adam, holding out his left hand. "Are you ready to go?"
There was a nod and Adam took his hand. She didn't hesitate as she pulled him through the London streets. A quick exchange of glances and smiles and the rest of the group followed as quickly as they could. There was no more time for talk as they now twisted through London with purpose. Mash could feel the change in the air and held her shield at the ready. She knew Mordred would keep his word and try to talk, but something told her that regardless, there was soon to be a fight.
As they exited an alley into a main street, Mordred and Adam came to a sudden halt. The group did the same, one after the other. Mash looked around but saw no one around, just fog as far as the eye could see. From inside the dark fog where obscured motes of light, the streetlamps of the city that had amazingly stayed lit all this time. Then, joining the motes were a single red light. It increased in intensity in size slowly, the heavy clank of metal against stone accompanying each increase. A puddle next to Mash shook. Something big was coming. Everyone but Mordred and Adam fell into fighting stances as the whirl of machinery and hiss of steam got louder and louder. The pair stood in front, hand in hand.
A large form broke out of the fog, a single glowing red eye standing above anyone in their group. A hulking mechanical form that barely resembled a man, steam hissing out from hidden vents. The giant robot, that Mash now realized resembled a Helter Skelter, stopped right before Adam and Mordred. Its head tilted down to look at them.
"Ah, is that the Daughter of Victor I see before me?" said the creature in a deep, mechanical voice. The air rumbled when he spoke. "Child, why have you sought me out?"
"Uhn," said Adam, sounding unsure to Mash.
The large form nodded. "I see." He looked over the group slowly. Mash realized that this was who they had sought out, Charles Babbage, famous inventor and creator of the Helter Skelters. "You wish to know of my involvement in the fog that surrounds London currently. Do you not?"
A nod. "Ugh."
Babbage stood up to his full height, towering over them. "Then I must confess that I am very much involved. I am Charles Babbage, Caster Class Servant who emerged from this Demonic Fog one day, does that confirms your theories my dear academics standing behind Victor's Daughter?"
"It does," said Makeda, the first to find her voice.
"But that raises one more question," said Jekyll, raising Victor's journal. "This journal lists three masterminds behind this fog. The first, 'P', we know to have been Paracelsus. There is also a 'B', is that you?"
There was a lengthy pause. The air was heavy as everyone waited for the answer. It came with a long release of steam. "Yes, it is as you guessed. I am the Mastermind B. A member of Project Demonic Fog and creator of the devices that are currently bringing an end to humanity in this era. That is the sin that you are correct in accusing me off."
At his words Adam started to gesture wildly, her voice frustrated. "Uh uh, uhgn! Uhn uhn."
"Why you ask?" replied Babbage. "That would be because of the dream. The dream of a realm of steam. Clean and free of all taint."
Mordred frowned. "That dream of yours is a sucky reality for the rest of us. What made you think that doing something like this is a good idea?"
"I am in the dream currently. My mind, floating far above this mechanical marvel of a body that I control. You stand right before me, yet your image is hazy. Your existence is hazy. All of existence is hazy in this dream, a dream I cannot wake from. A dream I do not want to wake from if I could. What harm is there in dreaming? What harm is there in creating in a dream?"
A long pause for an exhalation of steam. "You are right of course. A very rational argument Daughter of Victor. And under that logic I do regret my decision to further this dream with no regard given to others. I was overtaken by the dream and spared no thought for what the consequences might be. In life I had others to keep me grounded, but in this one I had only those cheering me on to keep going and to never stop and think. Geniuses in their own right, I fear that their unbridled genius and aspirations were too dangerous."
"It's good you realize that," said Mordred, "but you've already fucked everything up! So, how do you plan to assist us in fixing this mess of yours?"
"Assist you?" another blast of steam. "Ah yes, I see that that was also a path forward, was it not? I have spent too long staring into the distance, I believe I missed what the next step should be. Of course, I will surrender and assist you in reversing this demonic fog and the damage I have do-,"
Babbage's words cut off suddenly as the light in his eye dimmed. His large body slumped, the sounds of hissing steam and whirling gears halting for several long moments. Then, the sounds started once more and his eye lit again, much brighter than before. He stood to his full height; arms spread out to his sides. Mash finally realized that he was carrying a large metal club larger than any of them.
"Cat got your tongue?" asked Mordred. "You were saying?"
"What I had to say means naught anymore," replied Babbage, his voice emotionless. "What matters is that the dream should keep proceeding as it was, and that nothing should be allowed to stop the gears furthering humanity's destruction."
Mash was leaping into action before the final word was said. The massive club swung towards the unsuspecting Mordred and Adam. She managed to interpose herself in front of them, bracing herself for the impact that came a second later. Metal struck metal, sending a shockwave of sound through the city streets. Unfortunately, that acted as a signal. All around the group red lights came to life accompanied by the hissing of steam and whirling of gears. Over a hundred Helter Skelters surrounded the group, hidden by the fog. Not that Mash was able to pay them any attention as Babbage's club ground against her shield, a battle of strength. Unfortunately, the stones beneath her were wet and she slipped, losing her footing and being sent flying backwards. She landed hard on the ground, trying to get back into the fight and taking note of the action going on around her.
Makeda leapt into the air and Achat, Shatyim and Shalosh appeared next to her. "Three Enigmas," said Makeda. "Surge outward and challenge our foes!" Achat became a powerful gust of wind, launching a dozen Helter Skelters high into the air. Shatyim turned into a flaming wheel, slicing through a dozen more robots in a single move. As Shalosh turned into a wave of water and short circuited another dozen the ones Achat had launched into the air hit the ground, shattering into pieces.
Their allies didn't hesitate to jump into battle either. Mr. Andersen started to chant long strings of very technical sounding Magecraft, magical bolts shaped like blue birds flew out in every direction, striking the Helter Skelters and disorienting them. Phantoms appeared next to every struck robot, taking a deep bow before striking out with spectral swords, decapitating them, and fading into shadows. Mr. Andersen scowled, but kept up the barrage of birds, never halting in his chants. Mr. Shakespeare took a bow of his own, coming up with a simple sword suddenly in hand. He stabbed and sliced at any robots who tried to get near with what was clearly magically enhanced prowess.
In a similar manner to the Servants, Ritsuka and Jekyll had teamed up, Ritsuka stunning and distracting robots while Jekyll rushed in and severed important wires, ceasing their functionality with extreme precision. When the Helter Skelters tried to surround him, he threw several vials of acid onto them, the liquid seeping though their outer casings and shutting them down from the inside.
Mordred hadn't hesitated either, taking Mash's spot in fighting Babbage. Sword and club struck each other with resounding effect. Despite their massive size difference, the knight seemed to be just as strong as the mechanical man, and much better at fighting. So, it was with surprise as Mash watched as they broke apart from a clash and she realized Mordred missed an opportunity to counter and strike his opponent. It seemed like the knight had resigned himself to being completely defensive and nothing else.
Mash wanted to rush back into the fight, but the ever-closing wave of Helter Skelters took priority. She rushed to Ritsuka's side, smashing her shield into one robot and kicking another away. She blocked several gunshots, earning an appreciative smile. Ritsuka fired off a magical bolt, allowing Jekyll to finish off another Helter Skelter and retreat to their side. The three stood together, dozens of robots still swarming around them.
Similarly, Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Andersen were back to back, covering each other with their Magecraft. Only Makeda was alone, although even then, she had her three Enigmas forming a triangle around her, their furry forms finally manifest and elemental energy glowing around their paws. A Helter Skelter that got too close found itself punched into the air by Shatyim and blown back to the ground by a dropkick from Achat. Makeda had her incense burner out and clouds were surrounding them, spreading out through and wrapping up the enemy robots, helping to keep them contained.
At the edge of the Helter Skelter swarm were Mordred and Adam facing off against Babbage. Every swing of his massive club smashed pavement to bits. Whenever Mordred blocked with his sword, the ground would shatter beneath him, windows cracking and shattering from the shockwaves. He was never able to get close and retaliate, blasts of steam knocking him back and forcing him constantly on the defense. The strikes he got that did land did so in awkward ways, striking Babbage's metal body, but sliding off the plates without piercing it.
Between fighting Helter Skelters, Mash saw Babbage knocking Mordred to the ground with steam, then trying to strike him while he was down. Mordred managed to get to his feet, but his sword wasn't going to get up in time to block. A white blur flew through the air, tackling Mordred and knocking him to safety out of the way. Babbage's club struck the ground with such force that it dug deep, becoming lodged into it. He tugged at the weapon, but it refused to move. The Mordred and Adam pair rolled across the cobblestones, stopping in a heap.
"Thank you," said Mordred, trying to stand. Adam put a hand on his chest, keeping him down. The knight frowned "Why?"
Adam shook her head. "Uhn." She stood and then crouched, her position and features turning feral. Her entire disposition changed, and the air around her seemed to crackle and waver. Seeing her, Mash felt a chill down her spine. Here she realized for the first time she was seeing the Creature written about by Mary Shelley, who future writers had referred to as a monster. The dainty woman she had become familiar with had changed in a manner of moments, and now she knew how others could talk about Adam like they had.
An angry cry rang through the streets, drowning out the sounds of fighting and cracking nearby windows. Adam charged at Babbage with inhuman speed, the ground underneath her feet cracking. Babbage managed to pull his club out of the ground when Adam was just a few feet from him. He swung and she ducked under the attack. Another cry, and her clawed hand lashed out. Sparks of green lightning around them and striking Babbage in his chest with a sick cracking noise. As Mash parried a round from a Helter Skelter, she realized she was looking at a modern legend, one that could fight on the same footing as a Heroic Spirit.
A blast of steam hit Adam, knocking her away from Babbage. Mash gasped at the sight of her hand. It was mangled, her fingers bent at weird angles. Adam grabbed it with her other hand and screamed once more. Underneath the scream came multiple bone chilling pops. She swung her hands through the air, as if to facilitate circulation again. Mash's stomach did a flip as she realized that Adam's hand was fixed, the bones once again straightened out.
Adam hadn't been the only one hurt in the exchange though. Small bits of metal came off Babbage's chest armor as he walked slowly forward. Cracks were now visible, branching out from the places Adam's fingers had hit. The pair moved towards each other, any friendly feelings they had had before gone, replaced with anger and the intent to kill. Two monsters, feral and with no other goal than the destruction of the other. Inhuman. Except, Mash knew that to be false. They were human, with dreams, desires, and feelings. These two liked and respected each other, that much was clear. But as she had to turn her focus to the ever-encroaching hoard of Helter Skelters, Mash knew that a tragedy was about to unfold.
A red glow radiated out suddenly from Makeda. She leapt into the air, her three Enigmas flashing around her. They each turned into glowing balls of red, green and blue respectively. Her eyes glowed, magical energy surrounding her. "End the endless. Solve this, my Three Enigmas!"
Achat, Shatyim and Shalosh flew towards the ground and when they hit energy surged outward. Lances of energy struck each and every Helter Skelter that had surrounded them. As some of the energy looked about to hit Shakespeare, it broke apart into two separate streams, going to either side of him and impaling a Helter Skelter each. The same happened each time the Enigmas got close to any ally, removing all enemies from around them. In a matter of moments, the battlefield was littered with destroyed Helter Skelter corpses. Makeda landed back on the ground, breathing heavily as her Enigmas came back to her side, looking exhausted.
There was still one enemy that had been untouched by Makeda's Noble Phantasm. As the Caster landed oo the ground, Babbage and Adam ran at each other. Mash, free from fighting but still too far away and encumbered by a field of robot bodies, could only watch. Each radiated an aura of killing intent. Steam hissed from Babbage, propelling him forward. Meanwhile, green sparks of electricity ran across Adam, covering and empowering her. This, this was going to be the end, one way or another.
Once within a few feet of each other, that was when they struck. Babbage's club came down and Adam's clawed hand jabbed outward. Mash saw their speed and trajectory and realized they would strike at the same time. She wanted to shout out a warning, but it was too late, there was nothing she could do.
A red blur knocked Adam to the side, sending her end over end. Now, standing where she had been, a sword struck upward. Faster than Babbage's club, the sword struck his chest where Adam had weakened. The tip pierced the armor, entering the body and going up to the hilt. Babbage's club struck to Mordred's side, cracking the ground next to him. The knight didn't flinch, his focus solely on the enemy in from of him. Gripping his sword tightly in both hands, he pulled it out in one quick movement. Chunks of armor came loose from Babbage's chest as he did. A black liquid, steaming oil leaked out, some of it spraying over Mordred's face and armor. The light in Babbage's eye went dark.
From where she had been knocked to the ground, Adam stood. The anger on her face was gone, replaced with surprise. She looked like Mash remembered her, the monster from before gone. Adam and Mordred locked eyes. Mordred's expression was stony and harsh, a scowl on his face. The oil looked like blood splashed over him, running down his face and armor. To Mash, he now looked like the monster.
"What are you looking at?" said Mordred, his voice harsh. Adam flinched at his words. "The fucker is dead. That's what he gets for trying to destroy my father's Londinium. Everything in this world belongs to King Arthur, and I won't allow anyone to touch it. Especially not a pathetic man like him. He made me sick to look at." A vicious smile spread across his face. It didn't reach his eyes. "I've wanted to kill him since I met him. I'm glad that I got the joy of doing s-"
Mordred's words were cut off, surprise on his face as Adam ran over and pulled him into a tight hug. His body tensed at the contact. Adam's chin rested on his shoulder; her eyes closed tightly. "Th-ank, y-ou," she said slowly, her voice coming out in shallow sobs.
Mordred's sword fell to the ground as his grip on it loosened. His body posture loosed as well, and his arms came up slowly to wrap around Adam. His expression had lost its affected harshness, instead becoming sad. "Don't say that…I don't deserve it… You…" He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry."
"Do not be sad," said a deep voice. Everyone on the field was startled by the sound, the faint whirling of gears and hissing of steam starting once more. Mordred went to grab his sword from the ground, but Adam stopped him by grabbing his arm. She shook her head, then looked to Babbage. The giant man dropped his club.
"Daughter of Victor," his voice was weak as he continued. "I am sorry for my actions."
He shook his head. "No, those final actions might not have been under my control, but every action before was. Those were my mistakes, made willingly. And because of those, I forced the young and innocent to make a difficult choice. Young knight, please accept my forgiveness, and my thanks."
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Mordred with a scowl. To Mash, he sounded in pain. "I murder people, it's what I do. Apologize to Adam, she's the one you hurt."
"Of course, but please humor a dying old man's foolishness. Adam, do not mourn for me, as I was already dead. I'm just returning to where I should have stayed. The spirits of the dead do not belong in this world."
"Your spirit, your soul is yours and new, even if your body once belonged to others. Cherish it, and the mind and heart that it binds together." His voice became wheezy, his breathing harsh. "Before I pass, let me tell you where you need to go next. Our creation, head deep underground, where you will find the source of this Demonic Fog: my Massive Steam Engine. It is powered by the Holy Grail. We called it… Angrboda."
"The one who brings sorrow," said Makeda, moving to Mash's side. "A fitting name for it."
"I guess it is," said Babbage. "Too blinded by my own genius, I did not think about the engine of death I had created, or the army made to protect it." His body started to break apart into golden motes of light. "I can only hope that you can fix this mistake I made. Sorry for this burden."
With those words, his body broke apart completely. Around them, the Helter Skelters broke apart as well. The dark, fog filled London night was suddenly lit with golden light, like thousands of fireflies had descended upon it. The light went into the night sky and faded away, leaving the world dark and grey once more. Mordred bent down, picked up his sword and looked to the group.
"We know where we need to go now. So, let's end it." There were sounds and nods of agreement all around. The knight looked between Adam and Jekyll. "I think it's time you two head back home."
"Ugh?" asked Adam, looking confused. "Uhn uhn."
Mordred shook his head. "I know you're strong. But you're still human. This is where your fight ends." He flashed a bright smile. "Leave it to us from here on out, ok?"
Adam looked unsure, but Jekyll moved to Adam's side, holding out a hand to her. "He's right. We don't have the same reserves, and we've been running and fighting all night. Being out this long in the demonic fog is already causing me pain."
Mash realized he was telling the truth, his breathing heavy. Adam as well now that the heat of battle had worn off. She might be nearly as strong as a Heroic Spirit, but that didn't mean she could last as long. She looked between the pair and finally nodded, taking Jekyll's hand. "Ugh."
Mordred smirked. "Yeah, he'll need an escort. Wouldn't want the bookworm getting hurt on his way home. Thanks for volunteering."
Jekyll gave an exasperated sigh. "I'm not going to miss your constant barrage of insults." He smiled at Mordred, throwing the knight off guard. "But I am going to miss you. Go down there, beat up the last mastermind and fix this mess, understood?"
And to everyone's surprise, Jekyll held out his fist. Mordred looked at a moment before smiling and fist bumping it. "Same. Take care of yourselves."
Adam held out her fist as well, and Mordred bumped it, exchanging smiles. Then the pair turned and ran away into the fog, back towards Jekyll's apartment. Once they were gone, Mordred released a heavy sigh, his body posture slouching for a moment before perking back up. He looked to the group. "Ok, let's go smash that machine!"
Mash wanted to agree, but she had an important question. "But where is it?"
"Underground, like the old man said."
"But, where underground? And how do we get there?"
Mordred frowned. "Uh…"
"I believe I can help with that," said Makeda. "Now that I have a name and vague location, I should be able to find us a path to where we seek." Without waiting for any answer, she closed her eyes. When she opened them a moment later, they glowed with magical energy, completely obscuring the irises underneath. The light faded from her eyes after a moment. "I know where to go, follow me."
Author's Note: The longest chapter so far (I swear they get shorter from here). Cywyllog has been revealed…as Adam, the creature created by Victor Frankenstein! Did this twist surprise anyone? The running chase was fun to write. Mash being a literary fan girl is a great trait and I love whenever FGO brings it up. Kind of wish I was writing in a style where Mash could refer to them as Andersen-Sensei and Shakespeare-Sensei, but I think that would look weird, so "Mr. X" we get.
Chapter 8: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 4
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.
Chapter 9: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 5
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 9: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 5
Mash ran out of the tunnel system and into the fog filled London night. She looked around, but the streets were empty, no sight of the man they were chasing. "Where is he?" she asked.
"Give me a second," said Mordred, his arms still full with Ritsuka. He stuck his nose up into the air and started to sniff. After a moment, his smile broadened. "Got the bastard. Follow me."
Mash nodded and the pair took off through the streets. As they went, she realized that they were headed towards Buckingham Palace. It was on the top of her list of places to visit, but this was definitely not how she'd wanted to do so. Soon through the fog Mash made out flashes of lightning.
"Is that him?" asked Ritsuka.
"Probably," said Mordred, slowing down. He placed Ritsuka on the ground, helping to steady them. Once that was done, he summoned his sword to his hand. "Ready for this?"
Mash and Ritsuka nodded. Makeda and the other were counting on them to stop this Servant. And to return and help them. They had to make this quick.
"Let's go," said Ritsuka.
Mordred and Mash dashed around the corner and saw the man looking up into the sky, back to them.
"Hey bastard!" yelled Mordred, charging forward.
The man turned to face them and held out a hand. Blue lightning shot from his fingers towards Mordred. The knight was unable to dodge, and the lightning hit him dead on. He was flung backwards, impacting a building.
"Mordred!" yelled Mash. That drew the man's attention, and he aimed his hand at her as well. As the energy lanced out, she was just able to get her barrier up. "Lord Chaldeas!"
The lightning struck her barrier and was halted, although Mash could feel the strain that attack had on her. It was unbelievably powerful.
"Mash," said a familiar voice in her ear. "Can you hear me?"
"Doctor," said Mash, feeling happy to hear his voice. It had been so long since she had last talked to him. "I can hear you."
"Good, the connection is holding. We're running a scan on the Servant in front of you for any signs of weakness. Just hold out a little longer."
"Roger." She braced herself and held her ground, just like she'd done a hundred times before.
But the man's lightning didn't seem to be running out. A constant stream that seemed to be only getting more powerful as it went on. But that couldn't be right, could it? If that wasn't enough, as he fired lightning, he steadily rose into the sky, soon getting out of her reach.
After a minute of holding the barrier up, sweat running down her forehead, Mash heard the Doctor again. "Scan complete. Spirit Origin, Nikola Tesla, a modern figure whose gone into legend. Somehow, it seems Zolgen combined his Spirit Origin with that of the Demonic Fog. All the energy it's been absorbing from people, it's now putting into him. An infinite supply of energy."
Mash grit her teeth, lightning sparking around her. "What do I do then?"
"Hold for backup," said Roman.
Before Mash could ask for clarification, a red blur shot up from the street. Mordred, sword in hand leapt into the air. Tesla noticed him and shifted the stream of his attack. The lightning once again clawed at Mordred. It struck him and sent him back to the ground, creating a crater in the ground.
Mash tried to move to his side but found lightning hurling at her again. She didn't have time to get her barrier up, instead just relying on her shield. A small bit of the energy from the attack rushed into her, shocking her painfully. She grit her teeth, trying to step towards Mordred. If she could reach him and cover him, then they could regroup and take this Servant down.
Except Tesla clearly had other plans. Without saying a word, the lightning intensified, causing Mash's muscles to seize up. She was unable to move another inch, her body frozen. While her shield was blocking most of the lightning, small bits still licked at her, shocking her. She could feel herself dying.
"Mash," said Doctor Roman. His voice snapped her back to reality. A bastion of hope. "Listen carefully to me. You need to extend a barrier over both you and Mordred.
She could see the distance between them, still much too far. "I can't. My Noble Phantasm doesn't reach over there. I'm not strong enough to do that."
"But the spirit inside of you should be," said Roman. "Wake him up."
"But…" said Mash, hesitating. "I can't…I don't know his…"
"Yes, you do," said Roman, his voice gentle. "You've known for a while. Just say his name and ask to borrow his strength."
"Wh-what if I'm not worthy?" asked Mash.
"You are. Now, just say it."
"Sir Galahad," said Mash, the words sending a chill through her body. They felt so right, and as they ran over her, she felt her body energized, the pain from the lightning numbing slightly. A whisper answered her call. Barely audible in her mind over the crackling thunder and lightning around her. But with the words, she now knew what to do. "Thank you."
Mash planted her shield and shouted to the heavens. "True Name, unveiling. I shall rise to the Siege Perilous. The place that cures all wounds and dissolves all hatred, our home, sits here! Manifest, Lord Camelot!"
Shining white walls manifested in the air around Mash, shooting up from the ground to surround and protect her. The lightning stream was interrupted by the walls, giving her respite. Tesla frowned, twisted a dial on his arm and the intensity of his lightning increased. But still, the walls of Mash's barrier rose strong and undamaged into the sky. A castle formed in the air, walls, and towers; a fortress made for knights.
"Hey asshole!" yelled a voice. Mash looked up and saw on one of the towers that had risen into the sky above where Tesla floated was Mordred. He had one hand gripping a spectral flag tightly. Once he was high enough, he leapt off the tower, gripping his sword with both hands. Tesla tried to change the course of his lightning, but he was too slow. Mordred's sword cut into him, a deep wound that fountained blood.
Then in the next instant, there was an explosion of lightning. Mordred and Tesla were both plummeting down to earth. She realized Mordred wasn't righting himself quick enough to avoid hitting the ground. Mash dropped her castle barrier and ran towards them. She leapt up into the air as high as she could. At the apex of her path, she reached out and caught Mordred. They flipped end over end once before landing hard, but safely to the ground. As she helped the Knight stand, he nodded to her.
"Thanks." He looked past her to where Tesla had fell. "Hope that bastard is dead. We've got better things to do."
The pair walked over to the man, his body already fading into golden motes of light. His body was a mess, his Spirit Core clearly destroyed. But Mash was surprised to see a smile on his face. "Ah, to have soared through the sky and been brought down by a bolt of lightning. A strangely poetic end."
"Why did you want to end humanity?" asked Mash.
A laugh. "Did I ever say that was my goal or intention before you attacked?"
Mash realized he hadn't. "No, you didn't. I'm sorry, we just assumed…"
"You assumed right," said Tesla, coughing up a wad of blood. "That was in fact my goal. To ignite this demonic fog was what I had been summoned to do, and what I wanted to do."
"But why?" asked Mash, confused by this man. He seemed so gentle now that he wasn't shooting lightning at them.
"Because of my dream. To end suffering and bring about a world of light. To advance humanity beyond all that currently surrounds us. The physical and the emotional. We can be so much more, and in this I saw a chance to fulfill that dream." Another laugh. "Clarity has come in my final moments though. Where before my death was a decay of mind and body, now I am strong. It does do my heart good to see that there are moral defenders of humanity who question their assumptions and actions. That means that maybe in the end, this wasn't an incorrect path?"
Before any more could be said, Tesla disappeared completely, his body fading into the dark fog. Doctor Roman's voice chimed in through her earpiece. "Servant signal gone. He's been defeated. Good job."
"Thank you," said Mash. "How's Caster doing?"
A pause. "They're all holding in there."
"That's good to hear. We'll head back right now." She was anxious to get back into the fight. Something about the Grand Caster just didn't feel right to her.
A growl from next to her. She looked and realized it was Mordred, looking on edge. "Something's not right," he said, looking around.
Mash did the same but couldn't see anything. Something did feel wrong though now that he mentioned it. Something different in the air…
"Fog density is increasing," said Roman, sounding concerned. "Around the Tower of London. All of the demonic fog in the city is converging on that one area."
Mash looked up and saw dense clouds of purple fog right above the tower. It looked like one large roiling storm cloud, ready to consume London. As she had that thought, flashes of lightning and the crack of thunder pealed out from the demonic cloud.
"We've got an energy buildup,' said Roman. "This reading…it's another Servant. A very powerful one. Prepare yourselves!"
Mash tightened her grip on her shield, Mordred doing the same for his sword as they faced the tower. "What type of Servant do you think they are?" she asked the knight.
"Probably the worst type," replied Mordred. "Nothing good is going to come from that cloud or tower."
Strangely, underneath the crack of thunder, Mash made out the cawing of ravens. The growling from Mordred intensified. Then, from the thick cloud came a strange figure. It took Mash a moment, but she realized they were a knight covered in dark armor from head to toe and riding a horse. In their hand was a large, wicked looking lance.
"Analyzing the Servant now," said Doctor Roman. "They are…"
"This signal is similar to that of the Saber Servant Mash and Ritsuka encountered in Singularity F," said a tech. "Except many magnitudes stronger."
Roman thought about that for a moment, looking at the readings. The Spirit Origin looked similar but warped slightly. It was probably safe to conclude that this was in fact a version of King Arthur. He tapped on the communicator to relay the information to Mash, but while doing so Mordred started to yell. And then he just, leapt into the air in a burst of red lightning.
No one was able to respond fast enough as the Servant in the sky turned and looked to Mordred. They made no movement, but a powerful bolt of lightning shot down from the demonic storm cloud and struck Mordred, driving him into the ground.
"I see that Londinium has become dirty and polluted," said the dark knight, her voice booming over the city clearly. "Then, as it's ruler, I, the Storm King, leader of the Wild Hunt, will do what is necessary to restore order."
"Not if I fuckin' smash you into the ground first," yelled Mordred, standing shakily.
"Ah, Mordred," said the Storm King. "I should have known that where there was disobedience and corruption, you would be there."
The feed showed as the Storm King's gaze shifted to Mash. "Galahad. This is not where I expected to meet you again. My loyal knight, will you be serving by my side, or with that of your treacherous friend?"
It was without hesitation that Mash replied. "I stand with Mordred in defense of this city. Of humanity."
"I see. You were always close. Odd considering your dispositions. But no matter. Then you too will need to be purged." At her words lightning started to build up around her lance and in the clouds surrounding her. Roman watched as dozens of bolts of lightning rained down on the street that Mash and Mordred were standing on. Mash got her shield up but was still clearly tired from her previous fights. Most of the lightning was stopped by her shield, but even then, her vital signs wavered dangerously with every strike.
"Sir," said a tech. "It looks like this Servant is drawing in and drawing power from the Demonic Fog." She sent the data to his monitor.
"So," said Da Vinci, leaning over and studying the data. "As the city proper clears of fog, she gets stronger." She pointed to a part of the screen that showed a model of the movement of the Fog. "The Demonic Fog is still being created by Angrobda. That means in the cavern and tunnel system there will still be a high density. Then it will flow out and slowly join the cloud above Buckingham Palace. That means their best hope would be a shutdown of Angrobda and assistance by the Caster team."
Roman looked to the images coming through SHEBA from Makeda's eyes. The three Casters were hard pressed to stay alive, even with their powerful combination fighting. And he knew that the Fake Grand Caster was playing around with them. "We can see what's happening in the Cavern, but communication into there would still be tricky. And so would them destroying the machine. I don't think we can count on them."
"Then what can we count on?" asked Da Vinci. Roman wasn't sure of the answer.
"Doctor," said another tech. "With the fog dispersing in the city, we've been able to expand our sensors. We actually have movement a few blocks away from the battle."
"Really?" asked Roman. "Send that to me please." The tech did so, and Roman studied it. Two dots indicating two people. A few blocks away, but out on the streets. The only people outside of Chaldea to do so. He clicked on them and their data appeared next to them. His eyes widened. "Quick, get me in communication to these two now. They may be just who we need to turn things around."
After several long minutes the lightning storm relented, leaving a burnt and blasted street. Mash took a moment to catch her breath, her arms sore and the scent of burnt flesh reaching her. She didn't want to think where the smell was coming from. There was movement to her right and she saw a soot covered Mordred shakily standing. He looked like he was about to collapse at any moment. She felt the same, but forced her body to move to his side.
"Bastard," said Mordred, looking up at the Storm King. "Come down here and fight me!"
"Why should I do that?" asked the Storm King, floating in the spot she had been summoned next to the Tower of London. Above her was the swirling, ever expanding cloud of Demonic Fog. "You are traitors, and I will never lower myself to the same ground as you. You will only face swift justice, a purging of your evil stains on this city."
"Damn it," muttered Mordred. "If only I could get close… Hey Shieldy, think you can block that lightning?"
She shook her head. "I don't think so. It's so spread out and my mana is almost gone. Is there any way to get up there?" she asked.
"I could try running up the tower, but there's nothing to say she won't shoot me down or just move before I do so." A growl of frustration. "And I bet if I just try to blast her out of the sky she'll dodge as well. Llamrei is too fast and smart for her own good."
Mash thought that made the situation sound grim. Only one solution occurred to her. "What if I act as a distraction?"
A laugh. "You? You're clearly about to collapse. Don't even think of something so stupid. I should be the distraction."
His words were so absurd that Mash found herself laughing as well. "Your legs are shaking. You can barely move either."
"We're both a mess," said Mordred. "Damn it, no better ideas? She'll only continue toying with us for a bit longer.
As if summoned by his words, a voice crackled through Mash's communicator. "Help is on the way," said Doctor Roman, his voice reassuring. "Just hold out for a few more minutes."
"Hey," said Mordred. "It's Caster's Master. Did that guy finally decide to act? And what the hell does he have planned?"
Mash shook her, a smile growing on her face. "I don't know, but we can trust him."
"I hope you're right," said Mordred. He pointed to the sky and Mash looked where he did. The storm had grown to cover all of London, and she could feel energy building up right above them. "She's about to attack again."
The Storm King's voice boomed over the city. "Have you finally made your peace?" she asked. "I gave you some time, has it been squandered, or are you ready to die honorably like knights?"
Mordred held his hand up, a certain finger held out to the Storm King. "How's this for graceful?"
"Disrespectful." She didn't say anything else as she brought her free hand up and then knifed it down through the air. Dozens of bolts of lightning rained down towards them.
"Dodge them!" said a voice in Mash's head. Energy filled her and she realized she was hearing Ritsuka's voice through a Command Seal order. She hoped her Senpai had gotten themselves safe as she followed the order. Right, right, left, forward, left, back, right. Mash dodged each bolt that came her way, if only barely.
Sparing a moment to look, she saw Mordred doing a more brute force strategy. Red lightning surrounded him as he dodged to the side, came up from a roll and cut a bolt of lightning in half and then leap back to dodge a third bolt. The lightning around him wavered for a moment, but Mash was soon forced to look away and continue focus on her own safety.
After an eternity of dodging the barrage of lightning, it finally stopped. It could not have come soon enough either, as her body felt about to give out. Energy flooded her, a second Command Seal that eased the pain in her body but did little to replenish her full supply of energy. She was running out, and Mordred's heavy breathing under his helmet made her think he was as well. She hoped the assistance Doctor Roman had promised her came soon.
"A valiant effort," said the Storm King, sounding amused. "I guess that is to be expected of two knights who once served me. The cream of the crop. But my generosity and good will has now been used up." She frowned. She raised her hand into the air and held it up, electricity building in the cloud above her. "This will end it. Act like honorable knights and face your death with everything you have."
"Aw shit," said Mordred, stumbling over to Mash. "She's done holding back."
"You wouldn't be able to absorb lightning, would you?" asked Mash, panting. "You're a lightning-based Servant, right?"
He shook his head and laughed. "I can output it with the best, but I'm not a freakin' lightning rod. That shit will kill me. And probably not leave a corpse either. We need to dodge that."
Mash nodded, about to agree before a voice reached out to her once more. "Don't dodge it!" said Doctor Roman, his voice urgent. "Please, trust me and stay right there. Help is about to arrive."
"Is he crazy?" asked Mordred, sounding baffled.
Mash wanted to agree with Mordred, but she also knew that Doctor Roman would never put them in danger without a plan. She shook her head. "I don't think so. I trust him, and I think we should do as he says."
"Fine," said Mordred. "Time's up either way."
There was a deafening crack of thunder and a single, gigantic bolt of lightning shot from the demonic storm cloud towards them. With how large it was, and how tired they were, they were beyond the point of dodging. Mash held her shield before her and Mordred has his sword out. Like either weapon could help them, but what else were they supposed to do besides pray?
A white blur leapt in front of the pair and held their arms to the sky. Mash only had a moment to realize that she recognized the form before the lightning crashed down on them.
At least, that's what should have happened. Instead, Mash watched as the lightning funneled down to a point and hit only the newcomer. Blinding white light surrounded them, hiding them from Mash's view. Only for a moment though, as the blinding white lightning was tinged by flashed of green electricity. The person inside the lightning was illuminated and Mash could finally make out who it was.
"Adam?" said Mash. "What are you doing here? That's dangerous!"
"She's being a badass," said Mordred, sounding impressed.
"Uh," replied Adam. Her face was strained as the lightning kept funneling into her, the green electricity around her building up more and more. Some of it sparked outwards and struck the ground between Mash and Mordred, creating a small gash in the stone. She held out one hand towards them. "Mor-dred," she said, her voice shaky. "Take…hand."
"You don't need to ask me twice," said Mordred, rushing to her side. He reached out without hesitation and took her hand. As soon as he did, the green lightning started to rush through and around him. He stood on edge, as if woken suddenly with jolt of caffeine.
"Holy shit," he said. His helmet broke apart and nestled once more on his back. His eyes were alight with excitement, a smile on his face. The smile turned vicious as he brought out his sword, green electricity running up and down the blade. "This is just what I need to teach my shitty old man a lesson."
"Ugh," nodded, Adam, a smile growing on her face as well, despite the continuing flow of lightning into her.
Never letting go of Adam's hand Mordred pointed his blade at the Storm King, massive amounts of electrified mana running through him to the blade. "I hope you're ready for this, Father!"
The Storm King waved her hand and the lightning halted, the last bits of it being absorbed into Adam. She looked down at them, her gaze cold. She pointed her lance at Mordred, a fearsome amount of energy starting to build up in it as the segments started to rotate. "That is an interesting ally you have there. An unholy creature of meat and metal. I am not surprised that you have kept company, and been so friendly with, one such as that. You are truly a magnet for the worst elements of this city. But I must wonder, will she be able to protect you from this?"
"Ugh, ugh," said Adam, their hands never separating. The electricity transferring between them. "Ungh."
Mordred laughed. "Damn straight! Just like Adam said, we're not protecting no one, just wiping you from the face of the planet."
"So be it," replied the Storm King coldly. "Holy Lance, weigh anchor. Pierce, the thirteen fangs. Rhongomyniad!" As she spoke a blast of fearsome dark energy shot out towards them and Mash felt herself frozen with fear. Even at her strongest she wasn't sure she could stop that attack. How were Mordred and Adam so calm?
"You forget," said Mordred. He pointed his sword at her. "That lance has killed me before, and I won't let it happen again! If your bloodstained lance will reach towards me, then I will repel it with this sword. Reborn in lightning; Clarent, Blood Tree!"
At Mordred's words a massive blast of red lightning shot out of his sword. It struck the dark energy of Rhongomyniad and halted. A sonic boomed radiated out from the impact, shattering all of the windows nearby and raining glass down on them. No one flinched, focusing instead on their battle. Both sustained attacks struggled at an impasse, neither able to gain ground. Mordred and Adam, holding tightly onto each other, electricity flowing between them and into Clarent. The Storm King held her lance tightly, her knees digging into the armored flank of Llamrei as she floated high in the air. Mash wracked her brain, looking around for a way to help, but unsure of how to do so. She had never wished for a long-ranged weapon before, but now she wish she had something, anything, to help with.
Adam reached out with her free hand and grabbed the hilt of Clarent. The pair stood there for a moment, staring into each other's eyes, before glaring at the Storm King. Green lightning started to run from Adam and up the sword, mingling with Mordred's red.
"Raaaaagh!" yelled the pair in unison. Green lightning shot up the center of the red blast. When it struck the energy of Rhongomyniad it branched outward like branches from a giant tree. The lightning arced upwards towards the Storm King from all angles.
With a scowl, the Storm king readjusted her aim, her attack moving slightly to the right and taking out the weak branches on that side. That opened a spot for her horse to move her to safety as the green branches of lightning arced past her. Mash watched as their last chance to hit the Storm King faded as she moved to fly right next to the Tower of London. But then…what was that up there?
Laughter filled the air, somehow carrying over the deafening lightning. A dark form leapt off the Tower of London and struck the side of Llamrei. The horse let out a cry of fear and pain that was cut off by her death. All three figures started to fall towards the ground. The energy from Rhongomyniad faded with the Storm King unable to properly brace herself and sustain it. With nothing to fight against the energy from Mordred's Noble Phantasm shot into the air, fading away as well when he gave up on the attack.
"Who was that?" asked Mash, glancing over to Mordred and Adam.
"Ughn," said Adam, sounding worried.
"No time!" said Mordred. Him and Adam finally separated as he ran towards Mash. "Launch me over there!"
"Wha-," Surprised and reacting on instinct, Mash held her shield at the ready Mordred jumped at her, flipping through the air so that his feet were facing towards her. Mash felt energy fill her from Ritsuka's final Command Seal. She braced herself, caught Mordred on her shield and then did as he had asked. She thrust her shield towards the falling figures and the knight went flying towards them like a missile. The Storm King was unable to respond as Mordred shot past her, grabbing the other figure in his arms. The pair rolled on the ground for a distance before finally stopping, in relative safety.
Meanwhile, the Storm King managed to right herself and land on her feet. Llamrei struck the ground hard next to her and broke apart into golden motes of light, her form broken completely. The Storm king rose, unharmed and faced Mordred as he stood. "That was a clever ploy," she said, pointing her lance at him. Energy started to build up around it again. "But tricks like that will never defeat me. Draw your sword and fall once more to my lance."
Mordred stood and faced her. He was smiling, his hands held up, revealing no weapon. He laughed. "Guess again."
There was the crack of thunder and Mash turned in time to see Adam throwing Clarent. The Storm King tried to move out of the way, but Mordred and the other figure rushed her, grabbing her arms and keeping her rooted to the spot. Clarent struck her through the chest, a burst of green and red lightning shooting out and vaporizing her in an instant. Mordred and the other man were knocked to either side of where she had been. Clarent clattered to the ground, electricity sparking once more around it before fading completely.
Mash and Adam both ran over towards the pair as they stood. As they got closer, Mash realized who it was with Mordred. "Jekyll?" she asked.
"Nope," replied Jekyll, a lopsided grin on his face. Mash realized that his glasses were gone, and his usually well-kept clothes and hair disheveled. "No Jekyll here. Just Hyde."
"You the trump card he was telling me about?" asked Mordred, picking up Clarent and studying Hyde. "The one he said he never planned to use?"
Hyde shrugged. In his hands he held a blood covered knife. "He doesn't like acknowledging I exist. But he couldn't get up there without me, so he took a drink and is napping for a while."
Mordred held out a hand to Hyde, smiling at him. "Thank you for the assist."
"No problem," said Hyde, taking his hand. Mash tried to shout a warning as Hyde tried to pull Mordred in and stab him with his knife. He was unprepared as Mordred held his ground and pulled him in instead. Mordred's forehead struck Hyde's and the man was instantly knocked out. Mordred caught him before he fell.
"Jekyll told me you'd try that," he said. He looked over to the surprised Adam and Mash. He flashed them a smile. "Hey, it's fine. He also told me to do that. When he wakes up he should be fine. You got a jolt left for him?"
"Ugh," said Adam with a nod. She tapped Jekyll on the shoulder and a small line of green electricity transferred between them. Jekyll woke up with a gasp. He looked around, concern on his face.
"Did we win?" he asked.
"Of course, we did," said Mordred, helping him stand and letting go. "You really messed up that horse. The surprise on my old man's face was priceless!"
Mordred energetically slapped Jekyll on the back and it was all the man could do not to fall flat on his face. He glared at the Heroic Spirit. "Hey, don't hit me so hard. Transforming like takes a lot out of me."
"I mean it." He straightened, trying to tidy his clothes as well. "How was Hyde? Did he…try anything?"
"Tried to stab me with a knife. I headbutted him."
Jekyll scowled. "No wonder my head is pounding. I said to knock him out, not concuss me."
"You should've been clearer then," replied Mordred, scowling as well. "You said to knock you out, how did you expect me to do so?"
"Not by giving me a concussion!"
"Unh!" said Adam, stepping between the pair. "Uhn."
"Fine," said Mordred. "If you insist."
Mash heard a noise and turned to see Ritsuka running towards them. When they got close, they slowed, panting from their sprint. "Is everyone okay?" asked the Master. There were nods all around. They let out a sigh of relief. "That's good."
"Are you okay, Senpai?" asked Mash, looking over them for injuries.
They shook their head. "No, I'm fine." Their expression turned crestfallen. "Just annoyed that I couldn't do anything to help."
"Didn't help my ass," said Mordred with a scowl. He pointed to Ritsuka's hand, where all three Command Seals had faded briefly. "You used those, right? Seems like you did enough to me."
Mash nodded. "Mordred's right. I could feel the power from the Command Seals allowing me to hold out through that entire fight. Without them, I might have died."
"And so, would the rest of us," said Mordred. He pointed to Jekyll. "If nothing else, this guy would've gone splat. It was only because of Mash being around to help that I got to him in time."
"I for one am thankful for that," said a pale faced Jekyll. "Hyde doesn't really think about personal safety much when he's trying to kill someone…"
"Thanks everyone," said Ritsuka. "I'm just glad to be able to help."
"Hey," said Mordred, his expression turning serious. "How are those Casters doing?"
Mash's heart fell. In the excitement of battle, she had almost forgotten about the danger Makeda was in. Summoned by Mordred's voice, Doctor Roman's hologram appeared in front of the group. His expression was grim. "Good job defeating the Storm King everyone," he said. "The only threat to deal with in this Singularity is Angrobda and the Holy Grail powering it. If you can collect that we can end this nightmare for London."
"Doctor," said Mash, locking eyes with him. "How is Caster doing?"
A pause. "She's holding on for now. But it's all they can do to survive. They need your help as soon as possible."
Mordred started to stretch. "I guess that settles where we're going next. Back to that cavern to kick the big boss's butt. Sounds good to me."
Mash and Ritsuka nodded. Jekyll raised his hands. "I'm glad that I was able to help due to Chaldea's distress message, but this is where I need to call it. I can barely walk. Sorry."
Mordred laughed. "Didn't expect you to join us anyways. You've done more than enough. Get back home properly now. We'll finish this." He held out his fist and Jekyll punched it as hard as he could. Mordred didn't flinch, but instead gained a broad smile. Jekyll winced in pain, waving his hand back and forth, clearly regretting his choice. Mordred reached out and pulled him into a tight hug. "Thanks for that. I'll take it right to the other guy. Take care."
Jekyll returned the hug. "You as well. I'm glad that you were my partner in all of this. There is no other Heroic Spirit I would've wanted to work with."
The pair broke apart and Mordred pointed at himself with his thumb. "Of course there isn't. There's no other Heroic Spirit out there as awesome as me, after all."
"Uhn," said Adam, tugging on Mordred's arm.
He turned to face her, his expression a complicated mix of emotions. "Yeah, me too. But I need you to bring this guy back home safely. Plus, you're a regular human. That means you've got a life ahead of you. I'm just a hero with nothing else going for him."
Adam shook her head. "Ugh, ugh, uhn!"
Mordred smiled and laughed at that. "You're right. Sorry, I take it back. How about I kick this guy's ass then I'll come back to join you for some tea. Maybe get some cake when the stores open up again."
Adam smiled at that. Jekyll laughed. "It sounds like you're promising her a date."
Mordred and Adam both blushed bright red at that. The knight rounded on his friend, glaring at him. "It's-it's not a date! It's just a thank you for everything she's done to help, that's all!" He turned back to Adam, looking flustered. "Come on, tell him it's not a da-,"
Mordred's words were cut off as Adam reached out, pulled him in close and kissed him. The pair broke off after a stunned moment in which no one spoke. They were both as red as could be. Adam spoke quietly. "It's-a-date."
"Yeah," said Mordred, stunned. "I guess it will be…"
"Uh," said Ritsuka. "I hate to interrupt this, but we really should be going. Do you want to catch up?"
Mordred rounded on them. "No!" he yelled. "Let's get going!" Without giving warning he scooped Ritsuka up in his arms and started to run back towards the cavern, the Master yelling in surprise.
Mash gave a small bow to an amused Adam and Jekyll. "Thank you, for everything."
"Same," said Jekyll. "Good luck. You've got this."
"Ugh," said Adam, reaching out and taking her hand. A shock ran through her, and Mash felt refreshed. Green electricity flashed around her for a moment before fading.
Mash turned and ran after Mordred. She quickly caught up; Adam's lightning having restored her energy if not to full to the point that she could move properly again. She wouldn't let the gift go to waste.
"So," said Ritsuka from Mordred's arms. "You called Adam Cywyllog before when you were covering up her identity. Where did you get that name from?"
"What makes you think I got it from somewhere?" asked Mordred. "Maybe I just made it up on the spot."
The name had sounded familiar to Mash before, and now that she heard it again, she heard a young man's voice whispering in her mind. At his words, her mind finally connected the dots, realizing what had been bothering her about the name before. She gasped in realization. "Cywyllog was a saint from Welsh mythology," said Mash. She glanced over to the knight. "Some myths say she was your wife."
"Wait," said Ritsuka. "You named her after your wife?"
"She wasn't my wife," said Mordred defensively. "She was just a girl I knew…"
"Whose name you immediately went to to hide the identity of a cute girl you had a crush on," replied Ritsuka.
"Drop it or I drop you," said Mordred, his face beet red as they dashed through the London streets.
"Loud and clear," said Ritsuka.
The area around Makeda exploded. She landed in a crouch, sword at the ready. Next to her, breathing loudly, were Andersen and Shakespeare. All three of them were badly injured, covered all over in cuts and bruises. The Fake Grand Caster floated in front of them, no such injuries visible on him. His robes weren't ever dirtied.
"Submit," said the Fake Grand Caster. "None of you are warriors. Accept the inevitable."
Makeda smiled and gestured at her allies. "It is because we are not warriors that we can resist you like this. We're just a few story tellers acting out a tale of resistance."
"And what a grand tale it will be," said Shakespeare, smiling broadly. "The legendary Queen of Sheba picking up a sword for the first time in her life to fight against the Grand Caster, the man who has caused the Incineration of Humanity. There is no greater tale than this!"
Andersen smirked. "You forgot the twist," he said, pointing to the Fake Grand Caster. "I don't know who that is yet, but it's clear from this progression that he isn't the real King Solomon. I think that makes this story even more tragic."
"That it does," agreed Shakespeare.
Makeda laughed in disbelief. "You figured it out? When?"
"While we were fighting." Andersen shrugged. "It really wasn't too hard to do once I had all the pieces. You knew before you ever fought him, didn't you?"
She nodded. "Of course I did."
"Useless banter," said the Fake Solomon. Makeda still did not want to think of his true name. Even doing so could cause him to go berserk and unleash his true powers. They were not ready for that. "I knew that your sight was keen, but that you could know that even before you met me is an intriguing development. Could it be that the reason that you appeared in this Singularity of all places was because you knew that I would be here? A vision maybe?"
Makeda didn't respond to his bait. They were reaching the conclusion; each step would need to be taken with care. Instead, she continued to address the authors. "While I knew the twist, I will still need your help to write the end of this tale. Will you help me?"
They both nodded. "But of course!" said Shakespeare. He gestured grandly. "The world is a stage and we are the players upon it. Until the bitter end I will experience this drama to see how it will unfold."
"I'm here until the end as well," said Andersen, "but only to make sure that you don't write a cliched, boring ending. It's a matter of professional pride."
"Do you think ignoring me will save you?" asked the Fake Solomon. He raised his hands in the air, magical energy building up around them. "I have wasted enough time on you. Your allies have defeated both Servants that Zolgen had summoned to destroy this era. It is time for me to end this and bring about the destruction of this era myself. I will kill you jabbering fools and dig the answers I seek from your Spirit Cores."
Makeda's ears twitched as static reached them. She made out faintly the familiar voice of Da Vinci coming in intermittently. "Help…way…" That was the signal she had been waiting for. And the time was perfect.
"You should have finished us off sooner," said Makeda.
The Fake's eyes narrowed; the familiar face of her lover twisted. "You bluff. You have brought to bare all that you are capable of. I know that well."
"Not as well as you think," replied Makeda. "You assumed that you knew all the mysteries and answers of this world, but what makes something a true riddle is the ever changing and evolving nature it contains. So, here is a riddle for you, what is the fourth Enigma?"
"What nonsense do you speak of?" asked the Fake.
Makeda smiled. "The answer is the Fourth Enigma, Arba, the surging Earth!"
From behind the Fake Solomon there was the heavy shifting of dirt and stone, the crushing of metal and a loud explosion. He turned in time to see the ground beneath Angrobda opening up, swallowing and then crushing the machine. The Demonic Fog that it had been coughing out ceased, the air visibly clearing with the absence of new fog being made. And sitting on top of the remains was a small four horned, white furred creature. An orange dalet on her forehead and a lock of braided hair running down one side of her head. In her gloved hands she held a Holy Grail.
"Impossible," said the Fake Solomon, turning back to Makeda. "I was there for their creation. You only have three Enigmas."
Andersen shook his head. "Like she said, you just don't get riddles. Maybe you're not as smart as you thought?"
The Fake Solomon's face twisted in anger as it finally managed to find an emotion to hold on to. Andersen's spite reflected back from him, creating a horrid, inhuman visage. It had been what she had been avoiding, but the time for that was past. This was the final hurdle she needed to overcome before her vision was prevented. Just a little bit more…
"He does not seem amused by your words," said Shakespeare.
"it's just some constructive criticism," said Andersen, shrugging. He smirked. "Not that I like hearing any of that stuff either."
"Dodge!" yelled Makeda, leaping backward. The authors jumped out of the way to opposite sides as the Fake Solomon shot a powerful magical bolt at her. Makeda parried with her sword, successfully protecting herself from the attack. Mana surrounded the Fake Solomon, so powerful that it was visible as a black and red aura. It lifted him up into the air as the ground started to shake.
"For that human insolence you will now die," yelled the Fake Solomon. The ground around them shook and the world exploded, engulfing Makeda.
Mash and the others ran through the tunnels below London. The fog was still thick here, but they didn't let it slow them down. They had somewhere to be and people who needed them. As they got near the end, the ground shook violently. They stopped for a moment, looking around for the cause. Doctor Roman's voice reached out to them. "Angrobda has been destroyed. Makeda's Engima has the Grail."
"Good for her," said Mordred, sounding honestly impressed. He let Ritsuka down from his arms. "We're almost there. Mash and I had better go ahead, clearing the path."
Mash and Ritsuka exchanged glances. Her Senpai nodded. "Go," they said. "I'll catch up. Help them."
"Thank you," said Mash, immediately continuing to run down the tunnel, Mordred next to her.
The pair exited the tunnels and into the cavern. As they did, another explosion ran through the area. Mash gasped at what she saw. Dozens of black tentacles with jewel like red eyes running up and down them. They stuck out of the ground like stakes. And on the tips of them she couldn't believe what she saw.
"No way," said Mordred, also speechless. "That's insane."
"Mr. Shakespeare…Mr. Andersen…," said Mash. Both writers were impaled, their bodies hanging limply.
"You are too late," said the Grand Caster, glaring at them. "It is just you two now. The grail will be returned to me, and the destruction of this city assured."
"Not if I've got anything to say about it!" said Mordred, swinging his sword. "Clarent, Blood Tree!"
Once more a green and red blast of lightning shot out of his sword, sections branching out as the main trunk headed towards the Grand Caster. Tentacles were speared and destroyed, being vaporized on contact. As the blast approached the Grand Caster, he waved his hand and a powerful magical shield appeared in front of him. Mordred's attack struck the shield and failed, breaking apart on impact. The shield faded and the Grand Caster stood, untouched.
"A wasted effort," he said, pointing a finger at Mordred. A powerful magical bolt shot out and struck Mordred before he could dodge, sending him flying into the wall, then collapsing to the ground.
"Mordred!" yelled Mash.
"Run," said Mordred, his voice weak. "Run at him and kick his ass…"
She nodded, holding her shield at the ready and facing the Grand Caster.
"Young Demi-Servant," he said, looking at her. "Mash Kyrielight, Shielder Class Demi-Servant. Created by Chaldea to be a weapon. You are the only one I currently judge to be untainted and thus able to be spared the Incineration of Humanity. Lev Lainur might have been overzealous in trying to kill you. Come with me and I will spare these fools for now. This will allow them to die at the end of the year with the rest of humanity. A fair proposal, is it not?"
Mash couldn't believe what she was hearing. The offer was insane, there was no way she could agree to it. But, when she thought of Mordred, Adam, Jekyll and the rest of London desperately trying to survive. Of Ritsuka and the rest of Chaldea, and the chance she could give them to live if she just went with him now. If she stopped fighting, the time they would have to prevent the Incineration of Humanity might be invaluable. And all it would take was her going willingly with a monster. Was this what she had been created and fated for all along?
"Do not think of it," said a strained voice. Suddenly in a burst of wind appeared Makeda. She was next to the Grand Caster, a well-crafted sword in hand. She stabbed at him with the sword, the point headed right at his heart. But it was stopped as a thick tentacle appeared between them, forcing the blade to a halt just mere inches from piercing him.
"If it is like that, then perish," said the Grand Caster. Mash could only watch as another tentacle burst out of the ground, stabbing Makeda through the heart.
"No!" yelled Mash, running across the cavern to her as fast as she could. She watched as Makeda tensed then went limp, her arms letting go of the sword and falling to her side. Her head hung down, her hair covering her face, her ears and tail drooping. In an instant Mash had covered the distance between them and was reached out for something, anything she could use. Her hands fell on the hilt of Makeda's sword.
"It is useless," said the Grand Caster. "That will never work."
His words were proven wrong as the sword glowed and destroyed the tentacle entrapping it and leaving nothing between her and him. His eyes were wide in surprise and he was unable to respond as with a powerful cry Mash swung the sword at him. The sword cut through the Grand Caster, his body breaking apart in dark purple motes. As it did, so did all his tentacles, depositing the bodies of the three Casters to the ground. The sword was shattered as well in the process, and Mash threw the pieces to the side as she turned and knelt by Makeda.
"And alas," said the gasping voice of Mr. Shakespeare. "Our little play comes to an end. It was not the Queen of Sheba who was our true heroine, but her will and love, passed along in her blade. It was the daughter, carrying the blade of her mother, who managed to banish the evil darkening their family for the time being." He coughed, his body breaking apart into golden motes. "What do you think?"
"I hate it," said Mr. Andersen, also disappearing. "It's poetic, but I still feel unsatisfied. Maybe for once we should have tried to write a genuinely happy ending? But that is not really in either of our natures, is it?" And as he spoke those words both their bodies disappeared, leaving Mash alone with Makeda.
"Makeda," said Mash, gently grabbing her body. "Please, say something."
"Mash," said a voice. She looked at Makeda for a moment, her bloody chest and closed eyes, and hoped that it was her speaking. But she realized it wasn't. It was Doctor Roman. "Mash, please report."
"Doctor," said Mash, tears coming to her eyes. "It's Makeda. She's…"
"Still alive," said Doctor Roman. "I still have my Command Seals. I've used the final one to stabilize her, and we can see her vitals through our equipment. Her condition isn't good though. Please, collect the Grail and we can get you back here immediately."
"Understood!" said Mash, gently lowering Makeda to the ground. She stood and looked around the ruined cavern for any sign of the Holy Grail. She saw Mordred and Ritsuka running over to her, but no Grail in their direction.
She heard a small squeak behind her and turned to see one of Makeda's Enigmas standing there, the Holy Grail held tightly in her hands. She wasn't one of the three Mash recognized, but now wasn't the time to question her fortune. She reached out and took the Grail. "Thank you."
As she took the Grail, the world around them started to break down, the Singularity finally being corrected. Ritsuka and Mordred finally made it to her side but looked down in distress at Makeda. "Mash," said Ritsuka. "Makeda, is she…"
"Critical condition," said Mash. She handed the Grail to Ritsuka. "We need to get her back to Chaldea."
"Guess that leaves no time for goodbyes" said Mordred, looking at her. He held out a fist. "It was good fighting besides you."
Mash fist bumped Mordred, tears in her eyes. "Thank you, for everything. I'm sorry you won't be able to get that date with Adam."
He blushed and looked away. "It'll be fine. I'll figure something out. It's nothing for you to worry about though." They were both silent for a moment before he continued, looking at Makeda. "Good luck helping her. She wasn't that bad, after all. Tell her that for me."
"I will," said Mash, nodding. She knelt down and picked up Makeda gently in her arms. She looked to Ritsuka and the pair nodded. "Doctor, please, take us home to Chaldea."
Author's Note: And now we're done with London. A lot has happened, I'm going to miss these characters. Mordred, Jekyll, Hyde, Fran, Andersen, and Shakespeare are all a lot of fun to write. One day I might get to my planned complete rewrite of London without Chaldea (I like them but removing them would allow me to expand things in a unique way). And in that I would finally get to write Tamamo and Kintoki. They're kind of tacked on to the original London Singularity to help pad things out and give more Servants for Solomon to curb stomp. They were cut in this to help streamline the story and because Makeda, Adam and Jekyll fill their role. And also the origin of Cywyllog's name came to light. Congratulations to anyone who knows that very obscure factoid! (I only know because I have an illustrated Arthurian Legends Encyclopedia I picked up at a used bookstore.)