The unity of a group is defined by how well each individual member could trust each other. It's called group cohesion, and failing groups display high levels of repulsion to each other.

Then what about highspeed magnetic trains?

Off tangent, sure, but it could wholly describe and relate to the immediate situation. Magnetic trains sit over railways using a property of magnetism correlating to repulsion factors. It's this repulsion force that keeps the train floating above the rails. Faraday theory and all, but the concept enables the use of two opposing forces for something meaningful contained within a circuit or pathway network of train lines.

The container matters.

Without the container to keep the repelling forces together, they would never stay near each other let alone cooperate for a greater cause.

In this case, Saber Alter and Arthur repelled each other, but if there was a 'guiding' rail that would keep them on track, that rail would undoubtably be Caliburn, the Sword of Selection.

Regardless of Arthur's disbelief of how it was possible to come in contact with Caliburn again, the outcome of its choice regarding 'trust,' was telling enough.

Regathered in a reception room with Nero and the others waiting for Ritsuka and their party to return, Arthur was noticeably gloomy.

"…" Arthur opened and closed his mouth, his expression hardening before he crossed his arms and grunted.

Arthur was staring at Shirou with mixed feelings, grimacing when Saber Alter obstructed his gaze and leered at him.

The two Kings of Britain had agreed to tolerate each other, using Caliburn's choice as a crutch to lay their faith. Arthur didn't trust Saber Alter, but he trusted the Sword of Selection. It was vice versa for Saber Alter.

Shirou sighed.

A patch was better than a hole, and besides having to take some time out to explain circumstances to Arthur later, the crux of the matter was put on hold. The world ending was somehow more pressing than sorting out preconceived notions and curiosities.

"Your aesthetic sense is quite pleasing, isn't it Nero?" Ceasar found himself nodding while observing the lavish red tapestry and gold that lined the Golden House's reception hall. "Is that marble?"

"Umu. You do well to see talent, esteemed Ceasar," Nero craned her chin up in pride. "The Greeks had a hand in carving out the stone! Bask in my glory as will our new allies!"

Staring at Nero sitting on a throne while awaiting Ritsuka and the others arrival, Shirou didn't know if he should break the news to her that such décor may irk their new allies.

Caesar had a glint of amusement in his eyes while standing beside Nero, and Shirou just hoped that things wouldn't escalate beyond manageable levels.

[-Ritsuka and Mash's signals are approaching the vicinity of Rome.] Romani advised. [Estimated time of arrival is within the hour.]

"Thank you, Doctor," Shirou said, nodding his head.

"Umu, foreign mage, you're quite useful, aren't you?" Nero suddenly perked up. "Can you tell weather, or locate the positions of enemy armies from your cowardly place unseen?"

[…I can't tell if you're praising or mocking me, but yes. I can do that to an extent by searching for magic energy signatures or life-sign signals congregating over strategic points.]

"Hmm, I find myself in need of a new court wizard?"

[Are you propositioning me?]

"Hehahaha, emperors can see talent or opportunity in everything," Caesar laughed in good faith. "What general or leader would not covet a means to instantly gather intelligence on the enemy's movements in war or conquest? Of course, it also means to be shameless about reaping debts and roast pigs!"

"Tch," Arthur clicked his tongue in the background, stomach rumbling in much the same way Saber Alter's suddenly did at the thought of food.

Noticing they reacted the same way, Arthur and Saber Alter refused to meet eyes and scorned each other.

"Then what about you, warrior of distant Britain?" Nero suddenly turned to look at Shirou, fingers steepled in front of her. "Will you not come under my employ? Wealth, honour, women, does it not appeal to you?"

"He refuses." Saber Alter said gruffly, lips twisting, fingers drumming against her armour. "Focus on the war and the problem at hand."

"Umu, I am?" Nero perked up, staring Shirou up and down before glancing back to Saber Alter. "If I recruit Shirou, does that not mean I recruit you too? A single stone to kill two pheasants!"

"Right you are, Nero!" Caesar agreed wholly with Nero's words. "Oh, and that other one too. The one who got bored of waiting and volunteered to cremate the dead."

Nero's eyes twinkled as she nodded. "JAlter, was it? Her ability to wield fire is remarkable."

"Can we get back to topic?" Shirou pinched the bridge of his nose.

[-Afraid not. Enemy Servant signals detected and moving fast. I'll bring up a screen, you should recognize him.]

The sound of typing buttons echoed before a miniature projection appeared from a gem on Shirou's combat-suit mystic code.

"NERROOOO!"

A screaming voice reverberated within the palace as a man shrouded in rage and madness appeared in holographic view.

Nero froze instantly, lost in thought while staring at the projected figure. "Uncle…"

"Emperor Caligula," Caesar said, not beating around the bush. "Maddened or not, an Emperor of Rome would never willingly point his fists at the Empire for the sake of destroying it."

"Then he is bewitched once more?" Nero asked carefully, a subtle warble in her tone. "Was Dianna's corruption not enough?"

"It's a Command Spell," Caesar said grimly, hurriedly looking towards Arthur and Saber Alter.

[Emperor Caligula will reach Rome again within half and hour. Interception is recommended.] Romani said grimly.

"Umu, I will handle this one!" Nero stood up before anyone else, summoning her trusted sword and gaining momentum in her strides.

"A leader shouldn't endanger themselves before their subordinates," Caesar kindly advised before turning to Shirou. "Will you not stop her, seeing as you're also playing the role of an advisor?"

In all honesty, Caesar was right. Nero's safety and existence was paramount to solving this Singularity.

Nothing could be allowed to happen to her, and yet Shirou also knew that something dark was brewing inside of Nero. Keeping her back would only cause the bitterness to stew.

Shirou hesitated, and Saber Alter would not move without his decision.

Arthur in contrast would respect the decision of another ruler.

The opening was all Nero needed.

"I insist!" She declared before bolting out to meet the enemy.

The legions weren't properly rallied or even called to defend Rome, which indicated that Nero was intent on facing the trouble on her own.

How childish.

On one hand it was noble as it wouldn't endanger her Roman citizens, but caution was thrown to the wind just like her personality.

"Is anyone going to go after her?" Arthur spoke as a voice of reason, uncrossing his arms and moving ahead.

The duty of a knight was also to save fair maidens.

Arthur dared not claim having better game than Lancelot, Gawain, or Tristain, but he was the paramount figure of a knight.

Grunting, Shirou focused on the expression Nero had been making rather than her actions before leaving.

There was something going on in her head.

"Let's go."


Nero knew.

She damn well knew it already.

What she was doing now could certainly be considered reckless and pig-headed, but as usual her overwhelming charisma and baseless belief in herself would carry her through somehow.

Despite not being a heroic spirit, humans of the past era living in a world where the influence of ancient magics had yet to truly wane, were increasingly more durable and capable than modern humans.

Rather, the basis of this could be tied to the miraculous feats of strength and endurance Heroes of legend often exuded. Those stories were not exaggerated.

Heels pressing into the ground, Nero channeled her magic energy and burst forward with increasing momentum. The healing of her injury had lifted a weight off of her back, and the need for contribution and recognition now took the forefront of her mind.

In the end, everyone always seemed to leave her…

Those she'd taken for granted, the promises, and beliefs, look at them now? Even the court wizard was assassinated and Nero sneak attacked.

One had to be worthy to be emperor, and Nero was in a position where constant set backs had forced her to reflect upon her own worth.

It was her idea to use Saber Alter as a proxy, but when that proxy shined too brightly, what was there left for her?

Running down the Appian Way, Nero exited the walls of Rome and moved to the bluff of the rolling hill on the side Remus had chosen opposite to the great founder Romulus.

Beyond that, and further through the plains was Nero's destination guided by her gut instincts. Further more, it wasn't as if she was alone even when there was no one in sight near her.

"Foreign mage!" Nero called out imperiously. "Guide me!"

[Can I advise against this?]

"Umu, shut up you push over. Now where?"

[Ghw, why is it always just me?] Romani bitterly lamented. He considered tricking Nero into going the wrong direction, but Romani thought better of it for future cooperation. [Further east, another hundred paces.]

"Umu, you can be useful." Nero's eyes gleamed.

[…Magi-Mari grant me patience.]

Flames flickering over her sword, Nero passed the next hill and stared face to face with the traitorous Romans who marched on her Rome.

"Halt in the name of your true emperor!" Nero yelled, ascertaining the strength of the army before her.

The army led by her uncle was smaller than the standard legion, likely due to the forced pace of keeping up with Caligula. Their faces were exhausted from the forced march, meaning they shouldn't pose too much of a hassle until they've recovered enough.

Good. That left only one.

Standing at a distance from the army that didn't dare to recklessly approach him in his madness, Caligula froze upon seeing Nero.

Why? Why did you come back so quickly?

She remembered the words he spoke to her, but were they truly real?

Her uncle. Her family.

Again, with her own hands…

"Hello uncle." Nero called somberly.

If she defeated him, enemy morale would plummet, and her right to rule should be conveyed to Caligula's army.

The response was immediate.

"NEROO!"

Veins bulged over Caligula's temples, and the whites of his eyes grew increasingly bloodshot. Yet, through it all, the flicker of regret continued to cloud the vacant pupils. Tendrils of lightning like magic energy coursed up and down his body, the red lightning crackling with each movement.

"Get…away…!" Caligula murmured while clutching his head.

Nero flinched, mixed feelings causing a sense of unease. However, an emperor should never balk.

"The moon's curse still ails you; I see." Nero murmured, raising her sword into a fighting stance. "Umu, so be it. Do you doubt my Rome too? Then I'll just have to prove its strength. Come uncle, this is between us and no others!"

"Ugh! Nero, Nero!"

The earth quaked beneath Caligula's feet, swelling into a crater that grew with every second before his figure vanished entirely.

The roar of wind and unrelenting fury was the only signal that Caligula had charged.

Pupils dilating, Nero felt her bangs sweep up as she hastily braced her forearm over her sword and grunted as a fist smacked the center of her blade.

Feeling her fingers numb, she quickly twisted on the balls of her feet and diverted the pressure through a twirl followed by a counter stab.

Nero's lip twitched as Caligula caught her sword with his bare hand. Blood seeped through the webbing of his fingers and onto Caligula's palm, but the man hardly noticed.

Instead, Caligula chambered his left fist back.

Eyes tracking her uncle's left arm, Nero elbowed Caligula bicep, limiting his range of movement before using her smaller stature to saunter past him.

Bending her knees, she sidestepped and back pedaled to gain distance, but a double hammer dropkick came flying towards her chest.

Tch.

Biting on her lips, Nero knew she was outclassed in close quarters. Her weapon's range was more suitable at mid-length and out of arm's reach.

"Behold my glory!" Nero channeled her magic energy into her sword, flames singing Caligula's finger tips and preventing him from grabbing it again. "Its thunderous applause!"

Grabbing the hilt with both hands, Nero performed a 540 swing and used the strength of her legs to propel her through the air.

"The limelight shines here!" The flames dancing over the edge of her sword left snaking trails of fire in her wake.

A rapid volley of magic laced fist was what met Nero's offensive, each rotation offset by a well-placed counter force.

"Urgh," Beads of sweat formed over Nero's brow, suddenly realizing footwork was not possible while air born.

Another punch, and Nero's rotational momentum was finally killed, the clanging of metal ringing in Nero's ears.

Strong.

Was her uncle always this capable?

Nero pursed her lips, using the flames of her sword as a desperate attempt to propel her out of reach of Caligula's next attack.

Her speed was lacking, and a front kick sent Nero tumbling.

World spinning around her, Nero somehow reoriented herself by stabbing her sword in the ground and dragging its blade through the dirt to stop her momentum.

A cloud of dust covered her as a result, momentarily obscuring vision as the heat of her flames created an orange glow.

Clenching her teeth, Nero sought to locate her uncle through acute magic sense.

!

A ferocious aura was already hovering in front of her.

She craned her chin up, and stared mutedly at her uncle already in front of her.

It was impossible. The uncle she knew could never have possessed this level of physical ability when she knew him in her younger years.

Dammit.

Nero clenched her teeth and raised her sword to counter, but Caligula's fists were clearly faster.

The blow would land before Nero could properly resist.

In that moment, a harsh whiplash had Nero breathless.

"Get back."

A firm grip jerked Nero out of range of her uncle's right fist before a cold and impassive face identical to her own overtook Nero's vision.

Weightlessness assaulted her next as Nero was forcibly thrown back like a rag to safety.

"You're in the way."

Saber Alter, the empress in black had arrived.


Saber Alter was annoyed, being the first to catch up to Nero before anyone else and saving Nero's face from being caved in. A fate that would have left Nero choking on her blood, and hacking for air through, battered flesh, mucus, and fragmented bones.

Saber Alter assessed her adversary.

The one who got away and had the audacity to return.

Caligula wasn't normal as a Berserker. His parameters were too abnormal.

As much as Saber Alter may not like Nero's as a person, she had to admit that Nero's skills were real. She could stand toe-to-toe against any other Servant, but based on the flow of magic energy Saber Alter could sense Caligula outputting above his class, there was only one explanation.

Command Seal Augmentation.

Caesar's intelligence was not wrong.

And in that case…

Saber Alter's eyes glinted.

She carried with her the copy of Rule Breaker Shirou had Traced for her use. The goal was to somehow prick Caligula with the dagger assuming his actions weren't a result of his own will.

The task was easy enough given the brute was all too focused on Nero and ignoring all else.

Despite having batted Caligula aside, the one Caligula charged towards was still Nero.

It was inconceivable.

No warrior would turn their back on another capable warrior because the openings were all too easy to exploit.

'There.'

Saber Alter narrowed her eyes and an impeccable stab was thrust out, Rule Breaker stabbing into Caligula's chest.

The maddened Berserker stiffened in place, feet digging into the ground as he hissed and grunted.

"Come to your senses, mad king?" Saber Alter said.

No answer, and for a Berserker, that was confirmation enough. Saber Alter dropped her guard and moved towards Nero, but a fist unexpectedly clocked her in the cheek and whipped her neck to the side.

The feeling of weightlessness meant her petite body was sailing through the air, and the scent of grass in her nose meant she'd hit the ground face first.

"Geh," Saber Alter spat, slowly picking herself off the ground with growing rage.

Grimacing, she wiped the blood off of her lips with the back of her hand and looked towards Caligula who still had his fist outstretched and then back towards Rule Breaker.

It didn't work?


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