For the longest time, Saber Alter had always wondered if there was any light in her life. Her version of Merlin had warned her that she would cease to resemble anything close to 'human' from the moment she drew forth the sword from the stone. And so, it was.

She crushed her enemies, snuffed out any political resistance, and ruled with a tyranny of steel and draconic magic. None dared defy her, and none dared oppose her upon her isolated throne.

She had resigned herself to it, had become content with it- the idleness of her days, and the droning repetitiveness of those who feared and revered her. Slowly, but ever so surely, the monotone days of her kingship droned on within a muted space where no echoes plucked at the strings of her heart.

Born to rule, she was destined to be no more than the most efficient tool required to tide through an age of expansions, war, and bloodshed.

Such was the nature of her purpose on the throne.

Stability in autocracy. Law in in wavering punishment.

It was all so novel at first. It didn't last long before the colours of the world before her shifted from vibrant greens, blues, and yellows, to shades of red, grey, and black. Idle wishes, and desires of her adolescence wondering if she'd ever make a friend in her childhood days in Bristol, to wondering how it would be best to slaughter a group of insurgents. The common man that had turned to thievery and banditry at the worst of Britain's invasion by the Saxons.

A crime was still a crime. Those stolen of their goods and livelihoods, dying and starving on the streets; those that were frankly murdered either for coin or food...it was only fair that unbiased judgement would be passed, and she, the arbitrator, jury, and judge to met them out.

It was the right judgement, the right calls made with rationality, but they utterly lacked compassion, empathy, and emotion. So much so that it was no different from an unfeeling blade.

Resignation, followed by acceptance, then a numbing coldness.

The days of Saber Alter's rule continued on, and in the dreary grey of her isolated throne room caked with blood and death, colour once more emerged.

The memories and experiences of the original Saber, Arturia Pendragon, upright and stalwart came flooding in amidst the wreckage of rebellion.

A fatal wound stabbed through Saber Alter's chest had left her waiting for a resigned death amidst the corpses that surrounded her, and yet, in this moment, time had stilled.

Yes. Saber Alter had a secret. She wasn't summoned merely as an ordinary Heroic Spirit, but one that was still alive and brought to the circumstances of the Fuyuki Singularity. She too had had a wish that she wanted fulfilled.

Opposites or not, Saber Alter and the original Saber, were at their cores, Arturia Pendragon.

The tragic state of their Kingdoms, in the end, they both couldn't help but think…would it have been different if they'd never drawn the sword from the stone?

A similar wish, in almost identical conclusions to their reign.

However, at the point that Saber Alter entered the Fuyuki Singularity's Grail War, it was practically at its end when the original Saber had drowned in the tainted mud of the grail. In her place, Saber Alter emerged using the original's body as a medium to inhabit and control. The taint of the mud darkening the original Saber, and giving birth to Saber Alter.

Saber Alter had answered not knowing what was in store for her.

Memories, experiences, and emotions that she'd never known now resided within her.

The weight of his smile.

The despair in parting.

The realization that something could still move the frosted heart of glass within her.

Now love, affection, endearment, tenderness, warmth, irrational devotion, these were new to her. Gradually, as the memories stabilized within her and took root, making her feel as if she herself had experienced them, the carefully constructed and hardened walls of her inner desires buried by the duty of 'kingship' began to thaw.

She accepted it.

Her time had passed, slain at the hands of rebellion.

The King was now free to pursue what she'd never had before.

Then came the realization that she'd never have what her original self did while seeing her 'Shirou' die before her at the hands of Lev Lainur.

Knowing that a wish was impossible to begin with, Saber Alter swore vengeance on Lev who restarted the Holy Grail War. She would not fight for the Grail, no; she'd guard it from all those trying to claim it if only to thwart Lev's machinations.

So, she did.

No matter how much time had passed, or who tried to oppose her, she and her Red Knight stood guard until the end when her Shirou returned to her.

It was him. To his actions, to his motivations, and the way he looked at her darkened self with concern, there was no doubt. It truly was him. He who'd rather endanger himself if it meant keeping her safe.

She would not allow it.

The moment she noticed an attack primed to kill her Shirou again, she did what she had to do and used her body as a shield, cracking her Spirit Origin to the point of dissipation.

In truth, she was relieved, the feelings within her born from her original, and propagated by Saber Alter herself would be put to rest.

The apprehension, nervousness, uneasiness, and worry that constantly gripped her heart at the thought of not being good enough compared to the memories of her original, no longer mattering.

However, her Shirou gave her no peace.

'You still called out to me. Me. Me who was resigned to returning back to a world of monotone grey. Me alone. It surely must mean something…so why? Why can't I have any confidence?'

/-/

Back in the present, Saber Alter shook her head to free herself of idle thoughts.

She felt like she was second-fiddle, no; she was second-fiddle no matter how she thought about it when compared to her original self. Worse, these feeling within her had never abated, and were instead only supressed.

In more ways than one, Saber and Jeanne Alter had their similarities. In regards to their unaltered selves, they possessed something of an inferiority complex that they'd have to overcome in their own ways.

It would be a story of personal character growth that both would rather skip if they had the choice. Nonetheless, these feelings were indeed affecting the state of Saber Alter's capabilities.

She just didn't feel good enough; lacking in her confidence not as a warrior, knight, or King, but…as a woman.

If she was asked to name any of her charming points, she'd be the first to fumble and bluster, which is all the more reason she felt threatened by the other women ingratiating themselves to her Shirou. Most of all the French Bitch. Never trust the French. They'd be the first to seduce your wives…

Okay, that was more personal experience at play here, but the point still stands.

Saber Alter for all her bluster and unwavering outward composure was severely insecure. More so now that she'd failed to keep her Master by her side to the point that he'd contracted with a new Servant.

It was a blow. A very heavy one.

The appearance of another look-alike more similar to her original self rather than her altered self was only making her insecurity worse now that Shirou and the rest had arrived. Would he be reminded of the original? Would he not choose her in the end?

Her jaw clenched, her stomach dropping as if butterflies were in her stomach. W-Was she nervous?

Her grip tightened over her sword's hilt before she shook her head and came to a direct and simple conclusion.

…There wouldn't be anything for Shirou to choose if her competitors didn't exist.

'I will slaughter the me, that is you! You disgrace of a Knight!'

"Hold still!" Saber Alter cleaved her sword overhead, wisps of black magic energy carving a long scar into the ground, churning rubble and debris sending clouds of dust into the air.

A blue blur shifted in the flying dust.

"Too slow..." Heroine X pulled down the front of her cap to shadow her face, furious light glinting from her eyes. "I'm SUPER fast! Don't even think about my first officer, he's mine! You don't know how long it took to get to the stage of holding hands!"

Saber Alter's brow twitched, instantly recalling how assured Heroine X had been when giving her advice prior. Had it all been fake?

A vein popped over her temples.

"Doesn't that mean you're just as amateurish at this than I am?!"

Mana Burst.

Jest of red and black magic energy jutted out from Saber Alter's sword, forming a cross shape from the sides of the hilt and tip of the blade.

Heroine X replied in kind, activating one of her skills. "Galaxy Meteor Sword!"

The Galaxy Meteor Sword imbued her strikes with anti-Saber properties for maximum damage. A blue hue covered Heroine X's sword before she clashed it against Saber Alter's in a heated sword lock.

"I'm just testing the waters, alright!" Heroine X fumbled for excuses; features flustered at being called out before she grew angry instead. Why did she have to explain herself to the woman trying to steal her first officer? It had nothing to do with her being petty. "As if you went any farther with that wavering sword!"

It was the wrong response.

"I kissed him!"

Heroine X froze, her body swaying like a deflated balloon until her magic energy exploded into a raging storm. "…Ugh, y-you took the chastity of my man's lips?!"

[Do these two actually think that they're talking about the same person?]

"Would you like to know the taste?" Saber Alter sneered provocatively, putting more weight into her sword and pushing a stunned Heroine X back.

" $#$#!"

Heroine X disengaged, sliding her blade's edge against Saber Alter's and pushing off of it to gain distance from the recoil before pointing at the sky.

"Star of Saber!" She called, a twinkle glinting in the heavens before a beam flashed down and empowered Heroine X with increased critical strength.

Saber Alter braced herself.

Heroine X had lost all traces of silliness. Her eyes were cold, fury chilling her features.

Saber Alter quietly amassed her energy, calling forth to the Twilight Star of her moon's blessing, empowering her further.

The two lowered their stances, Saber Alter into a firm swinging stance, legs bent and arms holding her sword over her shoulders. Meanwhile, Heroine X shifted into a sprinter's pose, fury clouding her features.

"Die/Die!"

Both moved in an instant, but one was even faster, having been trying to stop the fight since the beginning.

"That's enough!"

Shirou appeared between the two of them, right in the direction of both attacks. If they didn't stop, he'd die. Worse, Shirou didn't bother to even think about defending himself after understanding that they were fighting over him in the first place.

Saber Alter and Heroine X balked at the sudden intrusion, faltering at the prospect of harming the person they held dear.

They let go of their swords at the last moment and diverted their magic energy to the sides. However, this didn't stop their momentum as they side-stepped in the same direction to bypass Shirou, and then collided with each other in a storm of fists, nails, and accusations.

[Go for the hair!]

"The two of you stop!" Shirou tried to separate the two like cats and dogs to no avail.

Heroine X managed to land a slap over Saber Alter's cheek.

[Are you just going to take that like a little bitch?!]

Saber Alter's eyes narrowed before slapping Heroine X in retaliation with the back of her hand.

"…"

[What are you? A Masochist?! That's a back hand! She's looking down on you!]

"Rargh!" Heroine X threw herself on Saber Alter, the two trying to wrestle each other into submission.

"…" Shirou irritably glanced behind him after a stray foot knocked him back from trying to seperate Saber Alter and Heroine X.

There standing not too far away was Jeanne Alter cupping her hands over her mouth and still shouting. "That's more like it! Try the eyes, blind her!"

Jeanne Alter paused as she made eye contact with Shirou, knitting her brows and scrunching her features.

"Jeanne. Not helping." Shirou said flatly.

"Who said I was trying to help?" Jeanne Alter huffed, crossing her arms and growing defensive.

"Jeanne."

"Bite me."

"?"

"B-Bite me. I said bite me, what's the problem?"

Unknown to Jeanne Alter, but it wasn't the knee-jerk response that threw Shirou off, no; it was the way she delivered it a little too suggestively. Jeanne Alter had also been provoked when Saber Alter and Heroine X were bragging about each other's accomplishments. Subconsciously, she wanted to get even, and a hicky seemed like a pretty good start.

Jeanne startled, suddenly realizing that her comeback felt somewhat off, especially when her heart continued pounding in her chest due to the way Shirou was staring at her.

Shirou blinked.

To him and everyone present, it almost kind of sounded like Jeanne Alter wanted him to? In retrospect, Jeanne Alter realized this as well and fumbled.

"N-No hold on I, I, ugh- a slip. It was a slip! I didn't mean it, really!"

Shirou shook his head and refocused on breaking up the other two, ignoring Jeanne Alter who childishly blasted a hole in the ground and jumped in all flustered.

Having witnessed everything in the distance from a third-person's perspective, the rest of Chaldea's members didn't know what to honestly say until Romani broke the silence.

"Well, that's one way to take care of a Tsundere."

"Romani. Not everything equates to your 2d obsessions." DaVinci echoed back.

"...I was just saying."

"Maybe you should be praying instead. This singularity may be the last we hear from you if Saber Alter isn't appeased."

The line between Romani and DaVinci monitoring everyone's status in Chaldea's Command Room, went dead.

The sounds of curses, slaps, and more curses echoed as Shirou steadily made progress in separating Saber Alter and Heroine X.

Ophelia, watching everything play out, felt that this was all so surreal. She was directly out of her depth, her impassive persona taking a blow. This was the threat to humanity's existence that mankind's last masters had to face? Or was there something she was missing here?

"Should we help him?" Ophelia knit her brows and asked regardless of her personal thoughts. It was the least she could do for her saviour's sake. Then again, they didn't actually have much time for introductions.

"Get between that?" Olga shuddered before steeling herself. "Emiya caused this problem somehow, so he's fixing it."

Olga's reluctance to interfere clearly had nothing to do with her pale complexion at the prospect of drawing Saber Alter's ire on her. Both Mash, Ritsuka, and the other Servants chose not to comment.

Anyways, Shirou seemed to have things handled by this point.

More accurately, Shirou being there was already having its own effect.

The strength of Saber Alter and Heroine X's attacks were greatly abated in order to prevent Shirou from getting caught in the crossfire after they'd accidently kicked and shoved him.

Eventually, Shirou managed to get a grip on the back of Saber Alter and Heroine X's apparel and pulled them apart by the collar. Both were in sorry states of dishevelled, and were glaring daggers at each other.

"F-First Officer, you're protecting this fake?!" Heroine X rudely pointed a finger at Saber Alter's face.

"You have it wrong, fool. He's protecting you from me." Saber Alter batted Heroine X's finger aside. "Look closer, he's not whatever Shirou you know, but mine."

Heroine X dusted herself off after Shirou let go of her, seeing that the two had paused in their squabbling with him as a distraction. So long as they weren't fighting anymore, he could put up with it.

"Hmm" Heroine X circled Shirou, scrutinizing him up and down until finally coming to a pause. "Oooh, I-I see. He may look, sound, act, and smel- ahem, excuse me. He may seem like my First Officer, but now that I look closer there are differences." Heroine X swallowed, wetting her lips, mouth going dry. "…He's more rugged."

Saber Alter glared, causing Heroine X to refocus while Shirou felt distinctly like an object at this point, only to falter when he realized Heroine X was dazedly feeling up his abs. He immediately gave Saber Alter a look if only to stop her fists from flying when she too took notice of the action.

Heroine X flushed, before quickly pretending as if it had never happened. She coughed into a hand, and tried to reassume her prior demeanor before Shirou's arrival. Saber Alter was no longer buying it for shit.

"And you wish to win this Shirou's heart?"

"..." Saber Alter pursed her lips.

The difference from when Heroine X had asked this question prior and now, was that Shirou was right beside her.

Shirou glanced at Saber Alter who suddenly diverted her gaze anywhere but at him.

"Y-Yes," the word was uncharacteristically squeaked out in a small voice, and suddenly, Shirou felt his heart skip a beat.

"Saber, I," he swallowed.

Saber Alter glanced at him when he spoke up, but shyly averted her gaze again and again as if trying to work up the courage.

It was like pink arrows were stabbing Shirou relentlessly, but ironically, Shirou felt the same way as Saber Alter. A pit formed in his stomach, doubt and apprehension overcoming him. He wasn't the 'original' Shirou from the Fuyuki singularity. Hence, he didn't know how to respond to these feelings.

Saber Alter and Shirou were practically in the same boat, but neither was aware of it at all, as if some thin screen separated them.

Regardless, Saber Alter's answer was all Heroine X needed.

Heroine X's eyes glinted. "Then all the better!"

Caught off guard, Shirou suddenly found himself swept off his feet and hoisted away so fast that his surroundings became nothing but a blur.

"Y-You, what are you doing?!" Saber Alter reacted immediately, but didn't dare raise her sword with Shirou in Heroine X's grasp.

"Shirou!" Rituska, Olga, Mash, and the rest were quick to take action at their colleague's sudden abduction, but it was too late.

Before anyone knew it, Heroine X had scaled to the top of her rocket ship with Shirou and entered the room at the highest point. An instant later, a blue sheen of magic energy converged over the rocket's metal layer, stopping Saber Alter's slash from cutting the ship apart.

"What sort of metal is that ship made out of?" Olga grimaced in observation, but no one could answer until DaVinci and Romani could run some scans.

"That's not important. We have to help Emiya Senpai!" Mash called back while Saber Alter continued trying to break into the rocket ship.

Nonetheless, everyone could see that even with Saber Alter's strength the boundedfield-type defensive system of the rocket was too advanced to easily decipher.

Suddenly, a small hatch opened at the uppermost portion of the rocket, revealing only Heroine X posing with her chest puffed out and arms at her side.

"Mwuhahah!" Heroine X seemed like she was trying too hard to come off as a villain, but to Saber Alter it really wasn't funny. When she got her hands on this fool, she'd strangle the life out of her. "Hear me!"

Heroine X took a deep breath before staring directly into Saber Alter's infuriated eyes.

"My ship's defences can take on star-class disasters! If you think you can just break through it than you're wrong. Ahem. Even I can't break through the doors as the shields are diverting all the emergency power," she muttered before continuing. "If you want your Shirou back, you'll have to gather enough Altrium, power the ship's virtual systems, and make your way up by clearing each floor!"

The set up was quite convenient. Heroine X could use the efforts of Saber Alter and the others to fuel her ship to undergo repairs. All the while, her rival would strive to face her for the title of 'true' Saber!

"…"

Silence echoed at Heroine X's words, followed by another Mana Burst from Saber Alter which tilted the rocket ship, but didn't pose any real damage.

"You're an idiot!" Saber Alter seethed, irking Heroine X to provocation.

"Yeah, well this idiot will mark this Shirou as mine, stain him with my breadth, and soon become as one! How do you like that?!" Heroine X puffed her cheeks, turned around and fled back into her rocket ship.

"You wouldn't daaaare!"

Hearing Saber Alter's indignant scream, Heroine X had a moment to feel proud of herself. All of this was said and done in order to evolve a fated Saber revival into a foe worth defeating. However, the sound of Shirou clearing his throat a second later caused her to still at the worst of times.

"Ahah, hehe, uhm, ah, sorry. I got a bit carried away."

In front of Heroine X, Shirou stood calmly with a twitching brow. Sure, Heroine X had filled him in on some details and said that everything was for the sake of helping Saber Alter and not randomly pissing her off, but Heroine X was playing with fire.

Saber Alter might have already been frustrated enough about the events of Orleans, and now this.

"Mark me as yours, you said?" Shirou paraphrased Heroine X's words with a stern shake of his head. "Stain me with your breadth you said? Become as one you said?"

Each sentence had Heroine X growing more and more embarrassed, but this wasn't even the worst of it.

Shirou should have just kept his mouth shut.

The unexpected occurred.

Due to malfunctions from the crash landing, the authorization and access levels of the main ship were in the fritz after undergoing a forced reset at Heroine X's hands. Voice recognition and command functions were one of the few system operations still available beyond defensive ones, but not without bugs.

{Voice registered: Searching}

A distinctly mechanical announcement echoed within the rocket ship's central command room.

{Welcome First Officer Emiya. Questions registered}

{Searching database for keywords…}

Shirou raised a brow in the silence. In contrast, Heroine X seemed just as confused, features scrunching before...panic?

{Key words found}

{Authorization Access Level: Captain}

{Access Level Unauthorized.}

Heroine X let out a sigh of relief, beads of sweat forming over her brow.

{Troubleshooting: System Error: Referring to reset Protocol}

{Damage to central hull and relay networks: Shifting into self-repair}

{Authorization levels temporarily released}

"Huh?" A tiny eep escaped Heroine X's mouth. "What's that supposed to-"

{Access granted to First Officer. Continuing search}

Heroine X paled with a realization that only she knew, arms flailing up and down.

" $% $Abort! Abort! ABOOOOOOORRRT!"

{Keywords found: 'Mark me as yours,' 'stain me with your breadth,' and 'Become as one.'}

{Category: Captain's virtual log, Enhanced Sexy Fantasy Simulator (Adult)}

"..."

Heroine X's ears suddenly tinged red before she mutedly wailed and threw herself at Shirou, hands silently hammering on Shirou's chest for mercy, tears of mortification welling in her eyes…

Sob sob.

"Ugh. I-It's alright. There there." Shirou soothed stiffly, gently drawing circles over Heroine X's back.

{New keywords registered: 'There there.'}

{Category: Captain's Private Virtual Log: Heading: Spread My Legs}

{Subheading: Make me your bitc-}

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

{New keyword registered…}


"Does anyone else hear wailing?"

Olga rubbed at her temples, but felt that she was just imagining things. Like many, Olga didn't believe Shirou was in any real danger given the way Heroine X looked at him, and hence, their entire group lacked any real tension.

Then again, it didn't mean that they weren't doing anything.

"So, we need to gather this Altrium stuff in order to power up that ship, and reach the top where Shirou was kidnapped?" Ritsuka reiterated.

The others merely nodded based on what Heroine X had said.

"And this Altrium drops from those things?" Ritsuka pointed out to the monsters and phantasmal that the rocket ship seemed to have spawned throughout the area. There were wyverns, kobolds, goblins and such each with the same distinct feature.

Each spawned phantasmal had an odd blond ahoge on their heads that dropped off when Saber Alter killed them for barring her way.

"That must be the Altrium," Olga surmised, instructing Kojiro to pick a few up and bring them over for further instructions. "Alright, now bring it closer to the rocket ship."

Sasaki nodded and did as he was instructed.

As soon as the Altrium was brought close to the rocket ship, the door on the ground level that Saber Alter was trying to break into beeped and revealed a small meter. Once filled, it was likely that the door would open.

Heroine X hadn't lied about a thing.

The method forward from here was rather explicit, and this was enough for the others to take action let alone an irked Saber Alter who grudgingly stopped swinging at the ship and at the spawned Phantasmals instead.

Still, Saber Alter was being uncharacteristically docile.

She wouldn't have been so quick to give up a direct approach before. If power and brute force wasn't working, more often then not, you just weren't using enough of it.

While Olga instructed the rest of Chaldea's members to help form for Altrium to rescue their comrade, Saber Alter drifted off on her own to gather the material and have some time to herself.

Whether she liked Heroine X's actions or not, they were effective prompts that got Saber Alter to seriously reflect on herself.

She wanted to attain a relationship that worked; for it to be serious and held together by mutual affection and not forced.

Rather than just violence and stubborn possessiveness…what if she could just have some confidence in herself to earn Shirou's affection in her own way? You, know, by just being her, rather than trying to emulate the memories of the original she'd seen Shirou fall in love with? In the end, wasn't she also Arturia?

The woman Saber Alter saw Shirou fall in love with was still here, and it was her: just with a more exotic dark flavour.

Men liked that, didn't they?

Of all the times where she wouldn't have minded Merlin's advise on her sorely lacking relationship experience, the bastard wasn't here, and was still likely trapped in Avalon.

What would Merlin have said? Must be something cheesy like follow your heart…

Saber Alter could already imagine herself blustering like a total fool about feelings and heart in an effort to connect.

'Hi, I'm Saber Alter. I'm good at killing in one stroke, and am adept at instilling fear in my subjects to rule with an iron fist.'

Saber Alter became inwardly filled with misgivings, but at the same time, a warmth of expectation came flooding within her. She pictured Shirou accepting her in full and eventually surpassing his love of the original with hers. It left her light headed. In contrast, the thought of failing to achieve this 'happy ending' heavily dulled her edge.

It was no wonder Heroine X had called her weak.

Subconsciously, she must have associated Heroine X's complexion and lawful-good alignment with that of the original Saber's and felt inadequate when compared.

At the end of the day, what she lacked was her own sense of worth.

Look at her. Pale almost whitish skin, eerie golden irises, and tainted aura staining her once blue coloured magic into blackish red from the blood of her enemies. Even her own sword had reflected the change.

She was a cruel, heartless, and an immovable tyrant.

At the end of her rule which ended in rebellion, the matter of course did not come as a surprise as it did for the original, but as a certainty. She knew it had been coming, expected it even. Then on the day it came, she offered little resistance as she knew that Britain no longer needed this kind of King to usher in a better future.

At the end of her reign, before she was offered a chance at a wish and was facing the certainty of death, she'd never felt so tranquil; so sure of her decision that she smiled when her own Knights breached the halls of her vaunted throne room.

It was this kind of confidence and acceptance that Saber Alter needed to reacquire. With Shirou, all the doubts and negative connotations around herself had always made her stiff and unable to express herself other than through violence.

She had half-a-mind to believe that she'd only gotten this far with Shirou due to being at her worst. Back in Fuyuki, she'd had no qualms with being well and truly honest with herself because she thought she was dying. Shirou must have seen that, felt it, and that was why it all happened the way things did. Their initial contract, the way he looked at her, and only her, begging her to let him save her…she wanted that moment back.

That electricity that had her toes curling, and shudders of delight pulsing down her back when she was practically his world.

No matter what she had to do, or how many adversaries she had to slay, she wanted that feeling back.

"-And the first step is realizing that you shouldn't shoulder everything on your own."

Saber Alter blinked at the sudden voice so in line with her present thoughts as to read them. She'd thought that her monotone features were impossible for ordinary people to discern, but the speaker was arguably far from ordinary.

Lost in her killing and gathering spree of Altrium, she'd not even heard it when someone had drawn closer to her. It was someone that she was both familiar with and not, as they hadn't exactly had much interaction other than knowing each others name.

"Martha?"

It was Saint Martha.

Saber Alter did a once over regarding one of the newly recruited Servants from Orleans, and Martha did the same.

A kind look was plastered over Martha's face, tinged with the kind of excitable girlish gossip Saber Alter had often seen in village girls whispering about their crushes.

"What do you want?" Saber Alter schooled her features and grumbled while picking up the pieces of Altrium near her.

"It's not about what I want, but what you want," Martha shook her head.

"How would you know anything about what I want?" Saber Alter grimaced, wrenching her sword free from hobgoblin.

"Wait here for a second," saying this, Martha took off at an incomprehensible speed, and returned with others pulled by the hands. On her left was Mash, and on her right was Jeanne.

"Don't worry. We all know what's happening." Martha smiled while letting go of a flustered Jeanne and Mash whom she quickly whispered the situation to. Both perked up, and soon mirrored Martha's excitable expression.

Saber Alter suddenly grew uneasy. It was the first-time fellow women had looked at her like that. L-Like a cute inexperienced teenager.

"It's Shirou, right? That densely sinful man," Martha tutted, huffing while clasping Saber Alter's hands in her own. "Let us help you. We'll gather the Altrium together and storm our way up the tower!"

Well, it was a rocket, but all the same.

"Y-You will?" Saber Alter opened and closed her mouth in a stunned stupor.

"Yes yes, of course!" Inwardly, Martha had to apologize to Jeanne Alter, but evidently, Saber Alter was just as bad at conveying her emotions properly. "Leave it to us!"

For the first time in a long time, Saber Alter felt at a loss for words.

One thing was for sure.

Here, as a Servant to her Master affiliated to Chaldea:

She had to discard the notion of being alone like she had been in her rule of Britain.

This odd singularity, it wasn't merely a chore that had to be dealt with, but…a chance to grow and acknowledge her shortcomings and aspirations.

This was her event.

Slowly, she hesitantly agreed to take up Martha's offer.

She then stared hard at the top of Heroine X's rocket ship where Shirou was being held prisoner.

Determination welled up from within her.

'Wait for me.'

Your husband is coming for a heart to heart.

…?

…!

"Is there something wrong, Saber? Your face is all red, a-and is that steam coming out of your head?"

Somehow, somewhere, Merlin was cackling.


Unlike everyone else who was gullible enough to follow through with whatever arrangement that Heroine X had boisterously made, Jeanne Alter was never really one to care about rules. Therefore, rather than defeat enemies to gather altrium, she had directly infiltrated Heroine X's damaged ship on her own.

It was remarkably easy. Laughably so, which spoke volumes for how silly Heroine X was. She must have a screw loose in her brain.

Not only did digging a hole for herself to hide actually manage to draw everyone's attention away from her long enough for her to sneak away, but no one seemed to care about common sense anymore!

What were they, idiots?!

There was a glaring hole in the hull of the rocket ship after its crash landing visible on the back side. Why wouldn't anyone just up and enter upon seeing it? Were they just fools, or did they get caught up in Heroine X's pacing?

No. Not her.

Not Jeanne Alter.

She wasn't just anyone. She did things her way.

Her doubt and paranoia towards others was her best redeeming feature.

Jeanne Alter had discarded the notion of Ritsuka and the others purposely choosing to ignore the breach in the hull in favour of empathizing with Saber Alter. The very notion that Saber Alter could gain wingmen on her behalf, and not her, Jeanne Alter, was ridiculous. Otherwise, it just wasn't fair.

Another bitter lamentation to the Lord clearly, but she refused to consider it.

Instead, she was better off labeling the rest as 'blind.'

Therefore, in the end, she, Jeanne Alter, would be the ultimate winner by ending this entire farce and proving that it took a fake to match well with another fake. She'd reach the top of this stupid cartoonish rocket, subjugate Heroine X, and then lay claim to her ultimate prize right before Saber Alter's eyes!

Entering the break in the rocket's hull, Jeanne Alter was met with broken wires, crackling with sparks of electricity, and a damaged room of bent metal and circuit boards. Most of the hardware went over her head, but what really mattered was a sealed door leading further into the rocket ship. Or at least, Jeanne Alter assumed so.

Now, if what she'd seen from Chaldea's attempts were correct, then the rocket was made with some sort of extremely durable material. Burning down the door or forcing her way through without Altrium to power her strikes would surely prove futile. Therefore, what was she to do?

Having a functioning brain was certainly a boon on her part. Oh, and common sense.

Next to the door was a largely undamaged panel board with a scanner and image settings.

It appeared to be some sort of facial recognition scan. Considering how similar she, Saber Alter, and Heroine X appeared, there was a good chance she could pass this and bypass whatever security this stupid ship had, Jeanne Alter surmised.

Deciding that it was worth a try, Jeanne Alter leaned her face forward and used a hand to pull up her fairly long bangs to reveal the entirety of her face. A small hum echoed before red scanner traced a horizontal line up and down her face, before beeping and turning green.

Bingo. She was in.

Like entering the rocket ship through its broken hull, things were progressing comically smoothly. It only made sense then that an unexpected hurdle would throw a wrench in her plans.

"What even is this?" Jeanne Alter curiously looked back and forth to make sure that no one was really around before again staring at the virtual panel that had abruptly appeared in front of her. She's thought that the panel would open the door, but it seemed to have some other function related to the room she was in.

Unfortunately for her, the door she was trying to access may not even be something that led to the main interior of the ship, but maybe a secret room?

In truth, this was Heroine X's private room.

Regardless, the thought of looting instantly came to the forefront of Jeanne Alter's mind while imagining Heroine X's devastated reaction.

Jeanne Alter read the text before her again with a smidgen of uncertainty.

{Captain's Log: Simulations Archive: Enter: (Yes)/(No)?}

A simulation? So, a first-hand experience kind of thing? 14th century France didn't have such technology.

The fact that this feature required facial recognition must mean that it was something important, right? Somehow, Jeanne Alter managed to convince herself. Just thinking about messing with Heroine X and Saber Alter had her lips tugging into a smile.

Be that as it may, this wasn't going to be the kind of plan thwarting secret codes or valuable intel she was assuming.

Slowly, Jeanne Alter reached out an unsuspecting finger and tapped 'Yes.'

She dissipated into a pre-set virtual space.

/-/

"!"

"~~! OOOah"

"Haah... Uugh.. Aaah…"

"Yeah... You're a dirty captain, you. Clean it up."


Quite light-hearted since it's an event, but another chapter or 2, and we're back to the main story guys

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Next update: Vasto of White

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The Lonely Peak

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