Fate Stay Night Umbra Bello

kamilfurman24- I like to think there are two different kinds of abridged series. Ones that are entirely crack, and don't take themselves seriously in any manner (i.e, the first two seasons of DBZA and YGOTAS) usually almost mocking the origional in the process, and ones that try to behave like a particularly humorous legit dub (i.e, DBZA season 3, and SAOA). Fate UBW abridged by Project Mouthwash comes of to me as more of the latter, and that's what I'm trying to emulate here. Granted, I'm not as talented as the team on that series, so it doesn't always land, but I hope I'm getting better at conveying that as time goes on.

The Black Craven- The world, and by extension Shirou's reaction, was a distant thing to Orso (the person whos POV we were seeing things from) as he was coping with the death. Though I'll admit, Shirou's reaction should have been noticeably stronger.

Also, I'd say you'll have answers about Orso's identity sooner rather than later.

YoRuui- So long as you give credit and link to the origional I don't really mind.

Chuckleswhy- Believe me, an Altered Saber is about to be the least of his worries...


Chapter XXVI: Help Needed

Date: 02/07/2004

Time: 7:22 pm

Location: Kotomine Church


"Mongrel, if I may confide in you?"

The frontal cortex of Kotomine Kirei ceased functioning for a brief moment in an attempt to process those words.

A polite request?

From Him?

"..." the fake priest could only blink in confusion. Answering only to avoid the former Servant growing impatient. "... of course Gilgamesh… what…" he struggled to find the right word that wouldn't come off as an insult. "Troubles you?"

"There are three things in this world that I can not abide. Do you know what those are?" the King asked him.

"Not getting what you want immediately, an empty wine cellar, and your ongoing flame war on Twitter?"

"No, what I- well yes actually, when I find that juvenile Crimson Fucker I will end his miserable, trollish existence- but what I cannot stand most of all are fakes, thieves, and boredom." the oldest hero's voice echoed, carrying its venom through the church.

As the god-king clenched his fists in outrage, Kirei began to realize he was being talked to, and not with.

Not an unusual situation to be in, but still unsettling. Gilgamesh made no secret that he found the priests 'condition' to be amusing, but that interest did not make them friends. One misstep…

"The fakers are an insult to the treasures in my gate that I could only tolerate for so long. Watching that thief- no, a thief would have the good sense to scurry away upon being discovered- watching that usurper attempt to claim my property as I was watching was amusing only for its boldness, and has now lost its shock value. And now that Saber has been broken by the Grail, I find there is no more enjoyment to be had in this farce of a war..." The King of Heroes spoke with finality in some decision he's made.

"I'm… sorry? I've been somewhat out of the loop since Lancer was killed. What has happened to Emiya's Servant?"

"That failure of a guard dog returned, yet again serving a new Master. Without a puppeteer holding his strings, he indulged in his unrestrained bloodlust, and damaged Saber. Allowing that shadow to get its hands on her. Drowning her in the curses and evil of humanity until all that was left was a dark, broken reflection of her once proud ideal. It's unfortunate… I had hoped I could be there to crush her hopes myself." the King gave an uncharacteristic sigh before turning to the door. "No matter. If the "heroes" are going to the wrong vessel, it should fall upon me, as their King, to correct their course."

"You're planning to interfere rather early aren't you?" the priest tried to restrain the objection in his question. "There is still much amusement that can be found in the struggle of the Masters, is there not?"

Gilgamesh paused before conceding one point.

"True. We have waited a long time to spectate this contest. However, now that they are all uniting to defeat that revolting creature, it's all become a cliche battle of good and evil. If I wanted to see that, I'd simply revert to my younger state and become a NEET that does nothing but lounge around all day watching shounen anime. I swear, If one of the Masters isn't betrayed, murdered, or suffering a fate worse than either by the end of today, I'm going to take my wife and end this little game myself." Gilgamesh decided as he swung the church doors open.

"Before you leave, would you like more Orphan Juice?" Kirei offered to fill his supply of magic energy.

"I keep telling you that I don't need mana Kirei. I'm incarnated. …also to stop calling it that."

"This batch tastes like suffering~." the priest tempted.

"... you used their blood this time, right?"

"Gilgamesh. I'm an evil Catholic priest. You know what I'm about."


ThemeSong- ENGLISH "Brave Shine" Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Akane Sasu Sora)


Meanwhile…

Ryuudou Temple…

Higher reasoning ceased.

My world was nothing but suffering.

"Master?"

How did I reach this state, one may ask?

To tell the truth, I haven't a clue.

"Well, if he bites it, I could settle for Baeber-light. … until the time comes…"

"I think we have more pressing issues right now Rine!"

One moment we were all gawking at… gawking at…

Her.

"My apologies. My body was overcome by a supernatural force demanding I take action to ensure karmic justice."

"You… you kicked me in the dick… twice! Why!?" I demanded to know as I writhed on the ground. "And why did none of you stop her!?"

"I'm… still confused about what happened to Saber." Shirou explained the cause of his inaction.

"Babe looked like she was having fun. …I think?" Rin couldn't make heads or tails of Artoria's cold expression.

Archer seemed to be half-way to Kyushu by now, given the speed at which he escaped the area.

… likely not a good sign.

"So… Saber. Rocking a new look I see? I like the "Ice Queen." vibe you got going but... was the set I picked for you not good enough? I mean- you don't like it, you don't like it-" Rin seemed to be passive-aggressively disapproving of the change. But only for… Rin reasons.

"Not liking the questions that statement raises." Shirou was alarmed to recognize a breach in security a few days ago.

"Saber… what happened to you?" Assassin cut through the nonsense and asked the most relevant question.

"..." the Servant seemed to stare down the lot of us with deadly intensity. "... what do you mean?"

"... well… for one thing, you had a hole in your heart two minutes ago." her Master pointed out.

"..." she spared a moment's glance at the spot the spear had pierced. "Twas but a flesh wound."

"But... your heart was destroyed..." he pointed out.

"... I got better." she gave a light shrug.

"... okay? … how tho?" Rin didn't seem to understa-

"Let's not talk about it." the danger in Saber's tone increased by thirty percent in an effort to shut the conversation down.

"But why do you look different now-?"

"LET'S NOT FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT!"

Okay…

Saber has PTSD now…

… or… it's gotten worse?

… fuck.

... So Rob? How does it feel to be the highest functioning member of your entire social group?

Considering these people make up 90% of the force trying to prevent the Grail-Mud apocalypse?

Terrifying.

It would seem that shadow attempted to change Saber. Not unlike what it seems to have done to Lancer.

Well… apparently it succeeded.

Not entirely. Given her current duochromatic status, and how she doesn't want to murder-death-kill you at the moment, I'd wager you interrupted the conversion about… halfway through the modification of her Saint Graph? And I doubt your mana flowing through her system simplified the process any… although I'm gettin the sense that you may not have done Artoria any favors either.

First of all, what do you mean by that?

… second of all, how do you know all that?

...

...mmmmagic stuff?

… yeah, that checks out.

R-Really?

No.

No it does not.

I wanted to ask this question about a month ago, but I was too afraid too because I thought I was going insane. However, given the company I keep these days, talking to a voice in my head seems fairly mundane.

Only in comparison. But please, go on.

Who, or what are you? And why are you in my head?

I'm your conscience. We hadn't spoken in a couple years, got concerned, checked in, and saw you're participating in a ghost-deathathon.

Seemed like as good a time as any to speak up.

Riiiiight. That's why you know all this magic shit, and seem to have an almost precognitive ability to know what's going on at all times.

Not to mention you showed up right about the time Fou, an unknown familiar, started following me everywhere. And your ability to force me to say things against my will that one time with Sakura.

… and why you happen to sound like Takahata101 putting on a Welsh accent.

okay, I can explain- but right now you have a more immediate concern to address. So, I'd suggest calming Saber down before you have to deal with a Demi-Alter going berserk.

… we'll return to this...

"... I'm cool with this if everyone else is, yeah?" I say in the interest of keeping the local temperature from reaching fifty below freezing.

"O-Oh y-yeah..." Rin stuttered in her fear-induced paralysis.

"I've existed in a constant state of confusion since this Grail War started… and pretty much checked out around the time you invited a tiny godzilla into my house to drink tea. At this point, I'm just along for the ride." Shirou had the right idea.

"Good. Now, just to be on the safe side, Artoria, how would one go about extracting Avalon from somebody? You might… feel fine, but I don't feel like trusting… whatever just happened to keep you that way." I'm hesitant to leave Emiya vulnerable, especially since he's still far from capable of defending himself at this point, but the voice is right. We can't have Saber turning on us like Lancer.

"... give it to me." Saber decided to act fast rather than play 20 Questions.

"Phrasing..." Rin dared to add.

"Right. Shirou?" I called him closer.

There was only a moment's worth of confusion before the cold, demanding stare of his Servant forced him to comply.

"I see… very well. Remain still Master while I reach deep within and grab hold of the sheath resting within you." The King of Knights seemed to put the pieces together.

"... I need an adult. "

"Do you even know any adults that would actually help in this situation?" I asked a pointed question.

"... no! No I don't…!" he sounded as though this were a great shock to him.


Two Minutes Later…

"Now that that's... settled…? We should probably talk about the Sakura situation. Such as… what should we do about the Sakura situation?" Assassin got us back on track.

"..." Shirou, after shaking off the feeling of having Avalon extracted, looked like he wanted to say something, but ultimately decided against it, "Again, along for the ride..."

"Er… TLDR? Zouken lied. Sakura is the real Master of Rider. Or… was,at any rate. She's also apparently Rin's sister. So… that's a thing. And um… how do I say this delicately…?" I hesitate.

Is there a... proper way you're supposed to explain to somebody that their friend has been constantly been raped by penis-bugs for the last ten years?

Should I even say anything about it?

It seems like something rather… personal? Does that make sense?

"Point is- Zouken's an evil bastard, and it's probably for the best that we work on keeping her away from him. He's probably aware that she's important to you, and will hurt her. Either as leverage, or just to hurt you." Assassin, again, was on point. Realizing that the worm-bag could use Sakura as a hostage to coerce Emiya into doing something stupid. As the Taiga of another timeline could attest.

… or she couldn't …because magic.

"..." Emiya nearly went as pale as Saber for a few moments as he processed what he'd heard.

His silence was rather… deafening, for some reason.

"So then… when we get back we're going to have to have a… conversation about all this with her too. Based on what we've seen, I doubt she'll be too opposed to the idea of never having to go back to that monster again." I suppose I'll just let him and Rin do most of the talking, as I doubt I'll be able to navigate that emotional labyrinth. Besides, it's not really my place to do so anyway.

"..." okay… now he's starting to look a little unhealthy…

Maybe you jumped the gun a bit on removing Avalon?

"Shirou? What's wrong?" Saber could apparently only recognize distress caused by something other than her.

"... I may have made a terrible mistake." he finally said.

"Shirou...what did you do?" Rin spoke up, not liking the turn this conversation has taken.

His answer stunned everyone present.

welp, you ask a stupid question…


Ten Minutes Later…

Emiya Residence Street...

"YOU GAVE HER TO SHINJI!?"

"YOU GAVE HER TO SHINJI!?"

"... I'll admit, not my sharpest move." Shirou faltered under the verbal assault in stereo as we rushed our way back to his house.

"How!? How could you just hand her over knowing he's an unstable, misogynistic, abusive, sociopath!?" Rin took the words right out of my mouth.

"he-He made a compelling argument!" he claimed.

"And that argument was…?" I asked, incredulously.


Earlier…

"Hey Emiya, I'm taking my sister back." Shinji stated as he walked up to the pair on the street.

"... no~?" The Inflection 2: Electric Boogaloo.

"Come on~! I'm better now. I've changed~ You defeating me beat sense back into me. You can trust your totally sane best friend to keep his own onlyest sister safe, am I right?" Shinji argued. … poorly.

"..."

"... okay, let me rephrase- could you do me a big favor and help me help her help me?"

"..."

Sakura, who had been standing to the side the whole time, was too paralyzed by internalized screaming to object.


Present…

Emiya Residence...

"... and then..?" I expected there to be more to this story.

"... that was it." Shirou continued to disappoint me.

You know what they say. Never meet your heroes.

"... stupid question. Has anyone ever tried to get you help with your psychological drive to give away your liver to anyone who'd ask?" I'm pretty sure I know the answer, but if there is a shrink out there performing this badly, something needs to be done about their license.

"No-why!? Do-Do you need a transplant!?" he seems to have a mini-panic attack as he misinterprets my question as a guised request.

"No, but you might if and when the aneurysm Rin is going through right now stops." I refer to the axe-crazy school-bomber standing across from us who seemed ready to exect most of his internal organs Aztec style.

Considering this is a Magus we're talking about, that might not be hyperbole.

… Do mages eat people?

Cause I just had the passing thought of consuming his heart to gain his courage.

First of all, yes and no?

Second of all, that might also be true, but I'm sure there's some thaumaturgical ritual involved that you don't know how to do.

Third, I wouldn't recommend eating a heart made of glass.

Fourth- NO CANNIBALISM!

Is it really cannibalism if he's a sword incarnated into a human body?

I'm having a hard time discerning if you're joking, morbidly curious, or just generally unaware of why that's disturbing, and that's very concerning for... multiple reasons.

I tried to step back and find cover from the volcano that was about to go off, but began panicking when I realized everything in this house was made of either paper or wood. Both of which made for poor cover.

Luckily, the human tornado that is Warpath Rin™ bypassed me entirely as she slowly approached Shirou with murderous intent.

Just before she got within execting range however, the darkened Saber stepped in her path.

A voiceless standoff between the two women began. The King's empty cold standing as a bulwark under the intense assault of the Mage's burning rage.

It seemed that the fear Saber inspired in the owner of this city had either faded away, or was overcome in anger.

Caught in the storm created in the airs the two emitted, the rest of us could only brace ourselves.

But just when things seemed like they might come to blows-

Rin Tohsaka simply took, and released a deep breath.

Perhaps, upon realizing this was a battle she could not win (especially considering Archer might not even be within the immediate area), she decided to focus her rage elsewhere?

Or, just as likely, she decided to hold off on expressing her anger with the irresponsible homeowner until he lacked such an intimidating bodyguard?

"... you know what? I've got better things to do than waste time murdering you." she turned to walk out the door.

"W-Wait! What about Sakura!? Shouldn't we be working together to get her back?" he objected.

"No. We shouldn't. Because this is something I should have done years ago. I'm off to save my sister, you stay home." she warned as she made for the do-

"Dagh-! WHY!?" I wheezed from the punch to the gut she gave me as she passed.

"Because I needed to vent! Goodbye!" she slammed the door behind her as best she could given that it was made of mostly paper and light wood.

"R-Rin wait-!" Shirou tried to go after her before Saber held him back.

"Shirou. Rin has decided to fight this battle on her own. It is not our place to intervene." she told him.

"It is if Sakura is in danger too. It's my fault she's in this situation, and I'm not going to let that bastard hurt her!" he proclaimed before adding- "... again."

"Either way, Tohsaka doesn't seem to be feeling particularly cooperative at the moment. Which is fair, considering." Assassin interjected. "So it won't do anyone any good to provoke her."

"Y-Yeah. And since he wasn't home by the time we got there, he could be anywhere in the city right now. Which is why we should cool our heads and think for a minute." I suggested after getting the wind back into me.

Shirou seemed as though he wanted to argue that point.

But then the phone started ringing.

There was a brief pause as we all silently argued about whether to ignore it or not, but in the end, Emiya decided to pick up the phone.

"Hello? Emiya resi-" he answered, but was immediately bombarded by pompous laughter that could be heard over eight feet away.

Shirou growled the name of the caller.

The person on the other end espoused what sounded like demands, not letting him interject beyond the occasional exclamation of shock, or anger.

The call took about two minutes. Ending with Shirou claiming that he'll "be there".

"... update. I know where Shinji is."

"Is he at the school?" Okita raised an eyebrow.

"... yes, actually. How'd you know that?"

"There's two places in this city he'd go to, and we set the one we were just at on fire. Seemed like a good guess." she shrugged.

"So, what's the little shit done now?" I dare ask.

"He wants us to go to the school. And he wants us there now. Without our Servants. Says he wants to team up with me." Shirou delivered the demands.

"Well, doesn't that sound legit?" I gave a mirth-filled laugh. "And I'm guessing he wants me there for moral support, right?"

"He didn't exactly say why he wanted you, but I think we can guess that he probably wants revenge for you humiliating him the other day." Shirou stated the obvious.

"Right… he is aware I am the Master of Assassin, isn't he? That, and I still have two command seals. Like, there is no way he's thinking he'll have the upper hand on me." I tried to figure out what the Matou was thinking.

"Don't jinx it Master." Okita snarked back, "He certainly sounded unstable, but we know he's a coward. He wouldn't be doing this if he didn't have some half-baked plan in mind."

That, or he's feeling cornered, and desperate.

And a cornered animal is a dangerous one.

"Then it would be in our best interest to figure out a plan of our own. We know he's going to use her as a hostage, so our first priority should be securing Sakura's safety. We also know he's probably still got a bounded field around the school from when Rider was still kicking, so that might come into play if he can activate it without her. That, plus any other magical surprises he might've set up somehow. So, kicking in the door probably won't end well." I reasoned.

"Then we talk it out. Find out what Shinji wants." Shirou suggested.

"Master, surely you jest?" Saber hoped.

"... no, no he's got a point. Bastard likes the sound of his own voice, we'll give it to him. Keep him talking until the right moment..." I figured playing his game might be the best move.

In line with that thought, as we began to move out, a plan began to form in my head. One based on a strange situation in which I was mostly flying blindly into.

Firstly, I laid out our goals.

Primary Objective: Secure Safety of Potential Hostage (Sakura)

Whether she is a threat in her own right at the moment can only be speculated about based on circumstantial evidence.

Yes, she's experienced things I don't even want to think about. But there are other factors at play.

Hypnotism. Psychological, and physical abuse. It can be hard to tell how humans will cope under such circumstances.

As such, we'll go in suspecting everything.

Secondary Objective: Eliminate Persistent Threat (Shinji)

He's proven by now that he doesn't know how to stop being a nuisance.

I'll decide how to deal with him when everything's under control.

Though I doubt he'll be in any condition to cause problems like this anymore when I'm done with him.

Between Shirou being useless, Rin being a maniac, and the energy drain after using the equivalent of a D battery to jumpstart a nuclear reactor when I kept Saber alive, I'm not exactly in the best of moods at the moment.

Tertiary Objective: Get it done in an hour, I'm tired.

Kinda self explanatory.

Again, I've basically run dry of mana at this point, and would very much like time to recharge. Sooner I do that the better.

The methods I had in mind to accomplish these objectives gave me pause.

I... I wasn't sure if I was willing to go through with them. And if I was hesitant, Shirou would certainly object.

But, I was low on time, mana, and options.

I ended up being... vague about the extent of my plan.

Saber was to hold off. Stay outside the perimeter of the building, and out of sight in case the little bastard had an Ace up his sleeve.

What went unsaid was that I didn't want her directly involved, not unless things turn to shit. In her current state, she's volatile and unpredictable. Exactly the opposite of what this situation calls for.

You wanna Luke Skywalker Pizza the Hutt's palace?

… huh?

Y'know… episode 5?

… are you okay?

dammit,I had something for this...


Ten Minutes Later…

Homurahara Academy…

"Alright. We're coming inside!" Emiya announced to the occupants.

There wasn't any immediate response as we entered the building. So seaweed head was probably waiting to spring his trap until we were further in.

Figures. There weren't any students here, so Rider's field wouldn't be much help anyway.

While we moved on, I briefly considered setting up a defensive field of my own in this building, given that so much shit seems to go down in here.

Maybe something that disrupts the accumulation of mana to hinder other Mages spells?

A perception filter that can amplify illusions? Maybe-

A sudden cry of pain derailed my train of thought.

Shirou rushed to its source.

"Second floor, come on!" Shirou directed, taking the stairwell.

"Talk to me." I checked in on my contingency as I took a more leisurely pace."What are we dealing with?"

"Overwatch established. I got eyes on." An unfamiliar voice called out.

"How's Sakura?"

"... experiencing domestic abuse." I felt the grimace in his voice. "I suggest we attack now."

"Master wants him alive Shinpachi. We're going to try the diplomatic route first." Okita reminded him.

"I don't... want him alive Okita. You just never know when someone might need a spare liver or something." I clarified. "Hajime?"

"Wouldn't exactly call six guys a perimeter, but when he bolts we'll bag 'em." he responded.

"Good. Take him to the warehouse. We'll hold him there until we decide what to do with him."

"SHINJI!"

"Emiya."

"... Shirou?"

Welp, that's my que.

"You…" Shinji acknowledged me entering the room. Obviously displeased by

I checked on my main concern as I entered the strangely spartan computer lab.

Sakura was, as Shinpachi assured, alive. Knocked to the floor, and dazed by what caused her to call out in pain a moment ago.

The new mark on her face did little to improve my mood.

"..." I had nothing to say. Uninterested in playing games with this filth that has the gall to call itself human,let alone a mage...

"What? Nothing cute to say this time!?" he almost sounded torn between disappointed, and outraged I wasn't paying attention to him.

"Shinji, let Sakura go." Emiya delivered his ultimatum.

"Afraid I can't do that Emiya. By some fluke of the universe, I just can't let her go." he smuggly rested his hands on her shoulders after dragging her to her feet. "But enough about her. I bet you're dying to know why I called you here-"

"To somehow force him into killing me for my command seals so you can get back into the war." I surmised.

"Close. Very, very close... you." He seemed to almost stutter.

"... wait, do you not remember my name?" I want to say there's no way he could be this dumb, but…

"To be fair, I met you… once? I don't think you even gave me your name. You just started insulting me for no reason. And I'm… not good at… remembering names…"

"...Shinji. You were, and are such a terrible person, and mage that you had your Servant drink people just to stay on this plane. You could not sustain, or summon a Servant, and you thought fighting a war against what could have been six fully fledged Mages, and their fully powered walking weapons of mass destruction was a smart thing to do. Shirou's a whole different animal- he was volunteered for this war, but you? You joined this party fully aware this was not the place for you. That, in all likelihood, you would be first to die. And then, upon acknowledging this simple fact, you decided to compensate by turning your classmates, your friends, into mana smoothies."

"I-"

"And then, you lost. Not in some grand final battle, not because you had the good sense to give up before you got in even more over your head, and not because some hair-brained attempt to get an edge backfired. You lost to Emiya's Servant, someone who's having the exact same mana problems you are. And you lost so completely, it happened in the time it took for me to blink. You've made a fool of yourself, insulted all those that carry the title of magi in this pathetic attempt to emulate them, completely derailing the ambitions of "your" Servant in the process, for nothing. The only reason you're still breathing right now is because Zouken felt inclined to save your life. But guess what? Grandpa isn't here to save you this time."

"N-Now hold on-!" Shinji began to back away as I approached.

"See, I'm guessing you called me here to kill me? To take my Servant. To hurt more people." I stopped as he nearly tripped over a desk. "You ordered your Servant to assault innocent people. Tried to murder your classmates. You even kidnapped your own sister. Everything I have, and will ever say and do to you is justified, you ignorant, misogynistic ape!"

"Uh…" the fooled dared to speak up-

You'll have to be more specific.

Shinji dared to speak up, but I didn't give him the chance.

"Last chance. Leave now. Leave this building, this city, this war. And if you value your mongrel life- and I wager you do- run." I delivered my ultimatum. "I will not allow your ego to ruin any more lives."

For the briefest of moments, goldfish-brain seemed like he was going to make the first good decision in his life.

That moment did not last long.

"... hehehe… AHAHAHAHAAHAAHAHA! Y-Ya nearly had me there for a second!" aaaaand now he's delusional.

Well… more delusional.

"I've had you since I walked into this room. But please, continue to waste my patience." I invite further pain upon my ears.

It took him a few seconds to slow his laughter

"HAHAHA- You're working with Emiya! Emiya! And you're threatening to kill me!? If I planned on letting you out of this room alive, I'd have Rider remind me to never play poker with you." he seems to think I was bluffing?

"I'm threatening you with death, yes. And you're assuming that I'm bluffing because I work with Emiya?" I asked, rhetorically.

"Come on~ the dude thinks he's superman or something. He's not going to work with someone that would kill his best friend." he sounded awfully confident about that…

"... you sure about that Shinji? You sure that's a fact?" some dark part of me chuckled. "Let's find out together."

"Well, come on- hit me with your best shot." he dared, probably self-assured that I was bluffing.

"... funny you say that, drop him."

The sound of glass shattering followed a blur of motion between Shinji and the window.

To his credit, the former Master somehow resisted being knocked on his ass by the volley of lead. Merely stumbling back from the force.

… oh.

… correction. It would appear as though, rather than a 'volley' of lead, it seemed more like only a pair of bullets had made it through… her defence.

"Rider?" I recognized the Servant as she shimmered into being between her Master and the Riflemen. "...good to see you?"

It's a little hard to read her with that blindfold, but I think she's appraising me.

Hm… I don't think she believed you'd actually do that. Even I'm a little surprised.

"I… I…. YAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!" The kid who bet wrong finally registered the two new holes Shinpachi's team put in him, and collapsed.

One center mass, another in the leg, judging by the blood.

"Good shots overwatch." I complimented our sniper.

Who needs Shirou when you have a fucking army?

How I didn't think of using these guys before, I swear

"Orso…?" Emiya sounded dumbstruck… well, at first.

"I believe I've demonstrated my conviction. Surrender your Command Seals, and I will get you medical attention. Try to fight me, and you'll bleed out before Rider can get you out of the building." I made my ultimatum.

"Y-you…! But I..!" Despite his position, the brat continued to whine. But one look at me and he knew I was serious, and in no mood to put up with his bargaining.

He knew I was going to let him die slowly.

Trembling, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a familiar book.

Then he hesitated for a moment. The last shreds of ego and denial putting up a last stand against the tide of pain and fear of death.

He began to reach for something around his neck. The hamster wheel he had in place of a frontal lobe began to spin as he considered his final option.

"Try it." I warned Shinji. Reminding him that I was, in fact, paying attention.

"F-Fine! Dear god-!" He desperately threw the false Command Seal across the room.

Catching it in one hand (no, I did not fumble with it, shut up.), I examined the magical device.

One did not need a sixth sense to detect the wrongness inscribed onto the pages.

Like a conduit, a concentrated form of what I felt in that "Training Room", the echoes of hunger, lust, greed, and bitterness, seemed to spread into me through simply holding it. I almost threw it away when I began to feel it draw Mana from me.

Wait…

"The false contract," I realized, "Merely possessing this formed it? I would have thought there would be something that tied it to you… no, no I suspect that would require some in-kind violation I doubt you'd be willing to subject yourself to."

Well… looks like I'm Rider's false Master now.

Not that I intend to hold on to this thing for long.

"Dude…" Shirou warned/reminded me.

"Hm? Oh, yes. You may go now. One of my associates is on his way to assist you." I dismissed the whimpering Goblin on the floor.

"Any volunteer's?"

"..."

"..."

"..."

"..."

"... Hajime." Assassin singled him out.

"What!? Ugh…! Do I at least get to rough him up a bit?"

"Negative. Get him to the base, get our Medics ready." Okita

"Wait, we have Medics? How long have we had those!?" This is the first time I'd heard of it! Probably would've come in clutch in more situations than I could count.

"Well, they're 1866 Medics, so…" hm, touche.

"But… but I…" he seemed to realize I was leaving the first leg of the trip to him.

He looked around, pleading to the other occupants of the room.

He found no compassion.

"Well, go on. No need to… drag this out." I fought back a grin at his expense.

Oh… the sound of that fool's tears as he dragged himself out of the room will sustain me for y̷e̶a̴r̷s̷ ̶t̸o̶ c̷̟͌̕ô̶̡̖̓m̵̭̂e̶̠͗̏.

I shook off a weird buzzing in my head before noticing Rider staring at me.

"Huh? ...oh, uh… hey Sakura, you want your Servant back, right? … Sakura?" I turned back to the pair-

… that's not Shinji's blood.

… and Emiya's on the ground. With a lot of blood.

maybe that's what he was complaining about this whole time.

Stray bullets have to go somewhere after all...

… Oh fuck.

Okay, okay, don't panic. He's got Avalon. That's saved him from wors-

GAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!

"Okay… uh… let's see… you got that, good!" Sakura was already trying to keep pressure on the wound.

… right where the heart should be.

"Y-You have healing magic, right!?" Sakura asked, barely masking her growing panic.

"Yeah…! W-Well I did…"

"Di- you lost it!? How!? How did you lose it!?"

"Sakura, I am out of mana. I spent most of it maintaining a small army of Servants for an entire day, and I gave the rest to Saber. I had jewels to supplement my energy, but I ran out of those an hour ago fighting Cthulhu!"

"W-Wait- so-?"

"Yes Shirou! Between Saber being both out of her mind and commission, you running off to get yourself killed every ten minutes, our growing list of enemies, and the fact that I am now supporting three Servants- the most life force taxing familiars known to man- I have been bluffing for this entire incident. If he had anything more dangerous than an underfueled Rider -no offense Rider-, we'dve been fucked! And we still might be fucked, so I'd appreciate it if someone else had a solution for once-"

… lightbulb moment.

"Rider, your eyes. Are their effects always complete? Can you partially petrify someone!?" it was a long shot…

"... you know who I am, and you're entrusting your friend's life to me?" again, hard to read her. But I'm assuming she's somewhere between curious, surprised, and questioning my sanity.

It didn't help how… inspired, my plan was.

"... Sakura, look at her. Go on." I encouraged her.

It took her a moment to realize what I was going for, and gave Rider a pleading look.

It didn't take long for Medusa to both falter, and realize I knew how she ticked.

I wouldn't trust her with Shirou's life. Not yet. Especially since she's at least 40% responsible for Shirou getting hit in the first place.

What I would trust her with, is the girl that reminds her so much of herself.

So, all I did as she removed her blindfold was turn away.

The air itself seemed to stand still as Shirou stopped breathing, and bleeding when Rider's eyes petrified his body.

Good. That will keep him alive, at least until I can get him some help.

"... you promised me things would get better." Sakura almost laughed in mirth.

"Er… soon. I said things would get better soon. Soon isn't exactly an accurate measurement of-"

"I almost believed you."

"..."

"For just… just a second, when you said that… I had hope. I don't know you, and I had hope."

"That's… that's good. Hope's good. Better than the alternative. Let's steer clear of that." I directed-

"I hate you."

Well… that's a… bit uncalled for.

"I hate you for that hope you gave me… because I know it wasn't real. You can't defeat my grandfather. And you can't save me. But… him? Please… make sure nothing else happens to him. He's… the last thing I have to lose." the girl requested.

I stopped myself from responding immediately.

My first instinct was to reassure her. To affirm that promise I'd made.

But the more I thought it through, the more I took in the changed situation, the more I began to wonder if it was right to do that.

Things are getting more out of control. More dangerous. The only guarantee I feel confident in making right now is that more people are going to die.

This girl… she's suffered far too many disappointments for me to add to that list.

On the other hand, I'm getting stronger.

Every day, every battle, my magecraft becomes more powerful than it logically should.

It's… strange. It's not like I'm learning these things. And no one is teaching me.


"Manipulating mana on the levels I've seen you do usually takes years, or even decades of training. You've had, what, a few months?"

"... less than a month, actually." I admit to the man that can apparently read me like an open book.

He narrowed his silver eyes at me.

"And you never thought that was odd? Being able to, not only summon, but maintain a Servant, one of the most mana taxing familiars in the entirety of the field,with a month's training?


Are you helping me?

Caught on to that, eh?

I'll take credit for about… ten to twenty percent of the progress you've made. Though, this has largely been unintentional. It's not like me to get directly involved like this, y'know? I'm not Zelretch.

… more questions for later I suppose.

Point is, I'm getting better.

I think… I think I can win. I can save everybody.

But then again you might not?

So much can go wrong. Too much has already…

"I'm not going to let either of you die. Not on my watch." I finally answered. "Now help me get him some help before he dies."

She did not look comforted by my response.

Fair enough I suppose.

"Where… Where are we taking him?" she seemed on board for this much.

"Well, Rin and Kirei have been pissing me off in equal measure lately, so I don't really want to deal with either of them… but Saber still needs Avalon…" I gave it a few moments of deep thought.

Speaking of the she-devil, shouldn't Rin have gotten here before we did?

she's a bit… preoccupied at the moment.

Ignoring how you know that- she's doing something ridiculous I take it?

no. No she is not.


Meanwhile…

Miyama Market…

Archer wasn't surprised at her reaction. Couldn't blame her for the shocked silence either.

During his time as a Counter Guardian, scenes like this were not uncommon. He'd grown almost accustomed to them really.

The open-air market was a mess. Broken, and battered stalls were now decorated with the remains of those unlucky enough to be working the night shift.

If he had to make an analogy… It looked like a blood-starved Dead Apostle lost themselves to a feeding frenzy.

In fact, the only reason he hadn't assumed that exact thing hasn't happened was that the bodies didn't appear to be turning into Ghouls.

No- the primary suspect in his mind was that Shadow. This looked very much like its handiwork. Although the bodies did seem oddly… intact.

"Rin… we should contact the overseer." Archer attempted to get his Master's focus off of the scene before them.

Rin Tohsaka took a few more moments to respond.

"Look for survivors first. Maybe someone got lucky." chances were low, but she didn't want to leave any potential witnesses in Kirei's hands.

Archer accepted her order. Some good news would make for a good change of pace.

But he knew better.

Because things were only going to get worse from here.


ENGLISH "This Illusion" Fate/Stay Night (Akane Sasu Sora)


DUN-DUN

DUN-DUN

TAIGA DOJO!

"Geeze Shirou… you're not even the MC of this route, and you still got a bad end…" Tiger Santa's Number 1 Elf sighed in exasperation. "How hopeless…"

"There is as high a price for inaction as foolish choices it seems." her Teacher in a Christmas getup remarked on how Shirou just sort of stood around.

He's not dead. Just down for a bit.

"BAKA!" The Master of the Dojo wacked me over the head with her Candy Cane Shinai, "This applies to you as well!"

"Sensei! Don't attack the Author! He has the power to make you say anything he wants!" The snow haired heroine warned her teacher.

ERK-! W-What the hell did I do!?

"How can Shirou plan for a plan going wrong if he doesn't know it exists!? Your social ineptitude will lead to him coming to us!" the Tiger with Red and Green Stripes scolded me for not warning Shirou of the strike team.

"Yeah, hesitating to communicate won't do you any favors from here on out…" the Student explained better as she attached Reindeer Antlers to the Ber-Zer-Car.

"If there is one lesson you must learn today, it is this-! Believe in your friends! Act in good faith! Leave plenty of cookies out for Santa!"

"Sensei, that's three lessons…"

And that last one has almost nothing to do with the current situation…

"Happy Holidays everyone!" Taiga Santa declared!

"And have an amazing New Year!" Christmas Illya changed her tune for the wholesome message.

Yup. It's been a good year.

I hope to see you all again soon!