A/N: Apparently the original upload of this chapter included the HTML formatting from MS Word, but the issue has now been fixed. I think the foreshadowing I included should be obvious to fans/followers of the Fate franchise, but even if you don't know, feel free to guess.
"Hoh? What an intriguing turn of events…" the wizened man behind the desk mused, glancing up from his phone to observe the figures darkening his doorway. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Can it, Zelretch!" Rin shot, only Shirou's hand on her shoulder preventing her from lunging forward and grabbing a fistful of shirt. "We know you've been mucking around with the Grail War ritual – my Servant admitted it when we ran into another Saber claiming to be his Servant! What kind of sick game are you playing?"
The wizened vampire put on a face akin to that of a kicked puppy. "Kids these days – no respect for their elders. You do have a point about the game, though; whoever invented the gacha as a transaction model was truly a madman." Seeing Rin's face tighten further, he set the phone on the desk and raised his hands placatingly. "And it wasn't me this time. Odds are more likely that one of my alternate selves from a parallel universe thought it would be funny. I wouldn't put it past myself."
"Yui, stop. That's not yours!" Kazuto interrupted, pulling his daughter's hand away from Zelretch's phone.
"Ah, leave her be." the Wizard Marshal replied. "It's not like she can do any worse than… I…" He trailed off when he saw the results of her button press – the rarest, most sought-after unit available. "How did you do that? I've been trying for days, but it just. Will. Not. Work!"
The former AI looked up at him innocently. "You never tried reverse-engineering the seed variable generation algorithm to exploit the difference between pseudorandom and truly random values, thereby predetermining the results of your server ping?"
Rin and Sakura were both unnerved when he stared at Shirou's Archer almost reverently. "A thousand years and many lifetimes, yet you were the one to crack the code. Perhaps you are the One, the Destined Savior…"
"I'm going to stop you right there." Kazuto said darkly, sword appearing in his hand to point at the wizard. "I am not letting you get my daughter mixed up in some kind of prophetic baloney."
Zelretch didn't seem bothered, a mischievous glint appearing in his eye. "Good thing I wasn't asking for your permission." There was a Kaleidoscopic burst of color, and suddenly all of the Masters and Servants were falling through a void, their apparent destination a point of light surrounded by three spinning rings of rainbow-glowing orbs. The last thing Shirou heard before the light overtook them once more was a whispered "say hello to your alternate future self for me…
TO BE CONTINUED IN: Arc II: sword/Grand Tuesday