"So, can I ask what this is you just handed all of us or are we not allowed to know?" Rin deadpanned as she looked between the small ovoid held in her palm, with the rune 'Ansuz' engraved pristinely into the perfectly polished stone, and Scathach who had given it to her.

Alongside herself, the Lancer-class Servant had handed out identical ovoids to all of the other Masters, as well as Kiritsugu and Irisviel.

"No, of course, you're allowed to know." Scathach gave Rin a small smile, like a teacher correcting a child's innocent mistake, "Following the surprise attack of those Homunculi earlier today, Master used that 'cellphone' device to contact you all, but I noticed it had one glaring weakness."

"The battery?" Shirou snarked from the kitchen, filleting a fish.

"No, not quite." Scathach let out a small snort of amusement.

A snort that nearly turned into full-blown giggles as she noticed both Jeanne and Artoria leaning around the corner of the doorway to stare into the kitchen. Both of them were clearly intrigued by whatever Shirou was preparing but neither of them dared to actually enter the kitchen itself.

"It's that it could only connect to one other device at a time. Useful for private conversations but not when you need to spread a message or check in on multiple people."

"Ah. Ansuz as in communication." Luvia hummed, looking over the ovoid that she had been handed.

"Precisely. Simply push some Od into the stone and speak into it. Whatever you say will be transmitted to all of the stones simultaneously." Scathach explained, in the same manner as one would explain how to do something as mundane as turning a page in a book.

"You make it sound like setting up a system like that is easy." Rin muttered with a deadpan look.

And, admittedly, while it was simple enough that someone versed in runes like her, or Luvia could pull it off. It also wasn't something that they could just do in an afternoon, unlike Scathach apparently.

"It's truly not that difficult. The use of Ansuz is very directly tied to intent. That combined with its potential meaning as 'communication' makes it a remarkably easy system to set up so long as all the totems are made with the exact same intent." Scathach explained, getting small hums from the two rune users in front of her.

"I must give you kudos on the implementation of the network though." Morgan spoke aloud, appearing with her gaze locked intently on the ovoid within her own Master's hand. "It's incredibly efficient in its design. Though that efficiency won't handle quite as well over long distances."

"Unfortunately true, but that would have required placing idle totems to compound and strengthen the signal which would not only make the network itself more complex but also create certain issues should one of those totems be moved or damaged in some way."

"You're thinking about the situation slightly too linearly. It's true that you surpass me in usage of Runes, but when it comes to general Magecraft and its theory I'm very confident in my own knowledge on the matter."

"Oh? I'd be interested in hearing how my system could be improved upon then." Scathach gave a polite smile.

And Morgan could tell that the other Queen was genuinely curious in the lesson that she could offer, but also that there was something underlying that curiosity. Perhaps something that even Scathach didn't realize was there, competition.

"Oh, I'd be glad to." And let it not be said that Morgan would back down from a competition of Magecraft.

Meanwhile, off to the side of the room, Medusa stood with her back against one of the walls, facing Semiramis who also stood. Though while Medusa leaned against the wall for comfort, Semiramis stood for the simple fact that none of the furniture within the Emiya Household was 'good enough' for her.

"No no. All of that unique plant life upon your island and you're telling me that none of the three of you ever so much as tried to garden them?"

"No. Not that I can remember." Medusa shook her head at the question of the Assyrian Queen.

"What a shame! What's the point in having such precious and unique flora if not to flaunt it to all the humans that came upon your land?"

"Most of those humans came for the sole purpose of murdering me."

"All the more so that you should have flaunted the 'wealth' that you did have! In fact, for each one that fell to those eyes, you should have added another layer to your grand garden!" Semiramis threw her hands up dramatically, getting a small sweatdrop from the Gorgon Queen even as she cracked the barest hint of a smile.

"Once again, we never had a 'grand garden'."

"Well, you should have! Go on, continue telling me of the plants atop your island and we'll figure out the perfect configuration for them."

"But the island is gone?"

"That hardly matters, now keep explaining. If I have to spend time with anyone here, I'd rather do it with someone close to the age of my own legend."

"Oh. I suppose I'm only 100 years your junior, aren't I?" Medusa questioned, tilting her head slightly to the side.

"Precisely. Now, continue explaining."

And while that conversation continued, Heracles sat at an almost comically mid-sized chair at the table alongside both Kiritsugu and Irisviel. Where, currently, Kiritsugu's prized Walther WA2000 lay on the table between himself and the legendary hero of old.

"While I understand the usefulness of such an item in the modern day. For an 'assassin' such as yourself, doesn't the sound of the bullet give you away?" Heracles questioned, looking between the rifle and Kiritsugu. "I mean no disrespect, but would a bow not be far better from a stealth perspective?"

"Yeah, Kiri. Isn't a bow betterrrrr?" Irisviel grinned from beside her husband, getting a small twitch of his eyebrow at his wife's egging on him.

"That's because I haven't introduced you to the suppressor I have for it." Kiritsugu shot back at Heracles, pulling out the item in question and placing it on the end of the barrel to show it off.

"That small cylinder gets rid of all that sound you were telling me about?" The Archer blinked in surprise, looking it over with an analytical gaze.

"Not all of it. The name 'suppressor' is very apt for its purpose."

"If it does not get rid of the entire sound, then a bow would still be superior in that aspect, would it not?" Kiritsugu's eyebrow twitched again at the Servant's words.

"Be that as it may. The range that this gun can fire is almost double the range of the world's longest recorded longbow shot."

"Regular human or Magi?" Heracles was quick to question, getting a loud guffaw from Irisviel as she nearly fell out of her chair from giggling so much.

"Regular human."

"Well of course. The distance an arrow can travel is, given the weather and obstacles in its way, only limited by the draw-strength of the bow it is fired from."

"Even with Reinforcement, there's no human alive that can match the multi-thousand-pound draw-weight of your bow." Kiritsugu shot back. "At the absolute most regular Magi could maybe reach the 2000 pound-force mark. And that's if they broke away from the status quo and worked on themselves physically too."

"To clarify, it's above fifty thousand pounds of draw weight." Kiritsugu felt something in his spine pop as he heard that absurd number. "And even with that number, that would be far and away enough to outmatch the rifle, based on what you've told me."

"Heh. He's got you there Kiriiiii." Irisviel teased her husband again, poking his cheek.

"…I'm hiding your ice cream."

"KIRI NOOOOOO!" The Homunculi wailed, clinging to her husband and sniffling as tears built up in her eyes.

'I…Think I may have angered him with my comments.' Heracles thought to himself, smiling sheepishly at the sight of the married couple bickering.

Meanwhile, Illya and Bazett were sitting on the couches in the lounge room. The Enforcer hummed quietly as the young Demi-Homunculus spoke to her.

"-but anyways what does it take to be an Enforcer?" Bazett had to take a moment to catch up to the whiplash in the conversation.

One second the girl had been talking about taking moves from a magical girl anime, and the next she's asking about a topic as loaded as Enforcers. At least she had unpredictability on her side.

"Why do you ask? Planning to be one?" Bazett asked, curious as the where the sudden conversation topic had come from.

"Hmmmm. Not really." Illya denied, shaking her head while swaying side to side. "I'm just curious. I don't actually know what I want to do, yet."

"That makes sense. I don't think I'd decided on my path to become an Enforcer until I was about 17 or 18 myself." Bazett revealed easily, shifting her weight on the couch and resting her cheek on her fist.

"Really? Wow."

"You sound so surprised by that?"

"It's just- I totally thought you would have been like a little toddler declaring your goal in life. You seem like a very decided person."

"I was always aware that I wanted to be a warrior, that's true." The Enforcer acquiesced, "But having that path take the route of Enforcer? That happened much later on."

"Wow. Guess I don't need to worry so much then…"

"You're worried about your goal in life?" Bazett asked, intrigued in this more toned down, slightly somber side of the excitable demi-homunculus.

"A little. It just feels like everyone knows exactly what they want to do. And I…don't." Illya shrugged, seeming to hum and haw over her words as she spoke.

"Don't feel like you need to rush. It's natural for people not to know exactly what they want to do in life. Enjoy growing up, live in the moment." Bazett suggested, surprised at the brief surge of warmth she felt through her connection with Scathach as she finished speaking.

"I see. Thank you, Bazett." Illya smiled softly, only for her grin to widen energetically as she spoke up once more.

"But can you imagine me as an Enforcer? All 'The Clock Tower demands you be delivered!' and then cutting their brain stem with my wires." Illya spoke excitedly, going from childish roleplaying to cold brutality in the time it took Bazett to blink.

"I…Could see it." This girl was going to give Bazett whiplash, she swore to God.

"Yeah! I knew I had a talent!"

'This girl is worrying.'

"Dinner will be ready in five minutes!" Shirou called out, instantly beginning to bring everyone out of their small, separated groups and to the table together, even the Servants.

The fact that pretty much all the Servants had been threatened with varying things to join in on the meal went unsaid as they all sat down. Feeling more human than they had since being summoned in this shitshow of a Grand Ritual. Which went doubly so for the clearly very excited Artoria and Jeanne.

And exactly five minutes later, as he had claimed, Shirou, Sakura, Liz, and Sella began to bring the small banquet out of the kitchen. Placing all manner of foods on the table made even Semiramis impressed with the variety and quality that they had been cooked to.

"Alright everyone, dig in." Shirou grinned, quite proudly at that, as he took his seat, somehow ending up between Saber and Sakura as she sat down in her own seat.

And dig in they did. Everyone went for the meals that most appealed to them. Considering Shirou had gone through great effort to try and include at least one dish from everyone's nationalities, was a rather easy task to accomplish.

And while Morgan, Scathach, and Semiramis all got themselves comfortably filled plates and ate their food at a proper pace with great manners, the same could not quite be said for their fellow Servants.

Medusa and Heracles were easily the closest in terms of decorum to the three Queens but with their own quirks. Heracles ate a great amount of food with adequate but not overflowing manners as the Queens did. And Medusa eats a much smaller amount of food, though with not quite as much manners as her younger countryman.

And then there was Jeanne and Artoria. The Frenchwoman and world-famous saint of Orleans looked like she was about to pass out from euphoria overload with each and every bite that she took. The Englishwoman, and world-famous King of Legend, was currently proving that the metabolism of a dragon was in a class of its own by outpacing even the monster of a man known as Heracles in the speed of her eating.

Yet somehow, she managed to keep up all of her Kingly eating manners as she did so, which made for quite a bemusing sight to everyone who happened to take a moment and watch the bombshell of a woman demolish a small chicken leg.

"Alright, while we're all here and cognizant. I think it's best that we discuss the attack today." Scathach finally spoke up.

"Alright. If that's the verdict, then I shall begin." Luvia continued professionally, giving a small but properly condensed explanation of what had befallen her and Rin at their usual training ground.

"That much destruction in a single attack?" Morgan questioned with an eyebrow raised in intrigue as Luvia got around to describing her use of Edelfelt's Kaleidoscope. "I have to say that every one of you Master's are certainly-"

XXXxxxXXX

Meanwhile, An island off the coast of Croatia

"-unique." Waver hummed quietly, knelt down, and ran his fingers through some recently upturned soil.

"What is, Master?" Gray asked, hopping down from a tree that had been snapped in half, her cloak fluttering around her as she touched down on the ground beside him with almost no disturbance to the surrounding environment.

A truly skillful show of acrobatics and technique that Waver had to wonder if the original King Arthur had ever been capable of, or if that was a Gray original.

"I believe I've just found what I need to parse who the three Ancestors were." He responded, pulling a small item out of the small trench he was currently knelt in.

"You mean the ones that started this whole incident that stopped us from going to Fuyuki to meet Bi- Shirou?" Olga questioned as she walked over, her arms crossed and a pout on her face.

"Relax Olga. Now that we have all three of these, we can make our preliminary report and head off first thing tomorrow." He spoke, holding up both a dented cannonball, an almost demonic-looking rose vine, and a snapped crow's feather.

"Great. Because while I hate to be impatient, I've been dying to head out to Fuyuki." Gray spoke, grinning mischievously as Waver turned and gave her a small stink-eye.

"Girls, this incident is a big worry for the Clock Tower."

"And we understand Master. It was just disappointing to have our plans changed so last minute." Gray responded easily and calmly.

Because both she and Olga did understand. Because the kind of energy readings that had come out of this location a few days ago had been almost otherworldly. A true, apparently no-holds-barred, death match between three Dead Apostle Ancestors that had practically carved up a good chunk of the island through Magecraft and general damage.

The Ancestors were specially monitored and negotiated with to avoid this exact situation after all. But it seemed like something was beginning to stir the hornet's nest because not only had this fight caught Fina-blood Svelten and Rita Rozay-en in it, who were already sworn enemies with a known feud between them, but also Gransurg Blackmore. And that was certain to annoy a few folks back at the Clock Tower once they heard that, the three Magi were practically certain of it.

"To think that such monsters were still running around in this day and age. I truly cannot apologize enough for me and my brethren not taking them out sooner." A male voice spoke up as they materialized at Olga's side, a hand over their heart in sincerity.

"You had no way of knowing. Besides, the Ancestors were pretty spread out across countries, even back during your time." Gray spoke, a little clipped with the Servant's appearance.

"That may be so, but I still cannot help but feel guilty my L-"

Gray's gaze whipped onto the Servant with a cold hellfire that could have lit him ablaze had he not already been moving to correct his slip-up. A truly apologetic look on his face as he did so.

"I mean Gray. I apologize once more. It's merely reflex." He held his hands in front of his chest in surrender.

"Lancer, can you please spiritualize for now?" Olga asked, looking over at him with a small, sincere, look that just got a gentle smile from the man.

"Of course, I can, Master." He nodded, disappearing into small motes of Prana.

For a few moments, it was silent before Gray sighed and untensed, visibly slouching a little even through her flowing cloak covering her.

"I'm sorry Olga…"

"No no. Really. I get that it's…a difficult subject." Olga muttered awkwardly, waving her hands in front of her.

"Alright girls," Waver spoke up, more out of mercy for the both of them than anything else. "Let's get going so that we can make this report and then prepare to leave tomorrow."

"Sounds good to me, Master."

"Of course, Master." Olga nodded neatly, her hands folded in front of her and showing off, almost proudly, the three red marks adorned on the back of her right, formed almost in a constellation pattern.

XXXxxxXXX

The Next Morning, Homurahara Academy

"Might something be wrong, Luvia? You appear to have a slight li- mpph." Sakura hummed, a small glint in her eyes before the hand of Luvia clapped around her mouth.

"Yes, Sakura. I do. Could I perhaps ask that you do not announce it in a public hallway?" The Finnish girl hissed quietly; a blush spread across her cheeks that only grew stronger at the vague twinkle in the purple-haired girl's eyes.

"My apologies. I hadn't been trying to do that. I was just curious if you had fun last night." Sakura spoke at a lower volume, but no less subtly teasing.

"That's a silly question. Of course, I did." Luvia huffed, crossing her arms and trying to act as if her entire face wasn't about to become a furnace that could smelt copper.

"I see. I see..."

"Was there a purpose to this questioning?" Luvia asked, turning back to Sakura so that a small group of boys wouldn't notice the blush that had still yet to leave her expression.

"Not particularly," Sakura answered simply, seeming to almost take pride in Luvia's flat stare. "I was just curious and thought that I should at least ask. Since neither I nor Rin were allowed to stay over."

"You make it sound like I kicked you both out."

"No, of course not. But Senpai did ask us to leave at your request."

"T-That's- Well- I-I just wanted my first time to be special…" Luvia muttered, tilting her head down and pressing her fingertips together shyly as if she was embarrassed to have such a wish.

"And there's nothing wrong with that." Sakura said firmly, surprising Luvia at the steel in her voice.

"Oh. Thank you…"

"Anytime. Now, about our Servants-"

"Sakura please not now."

"But later?"

"…After school."

"Of course. I'll be free." Sakura smiled and nodded, an action that almost felt like a death sentence coming from the Matou girl.

And it was at that moment that Shirou began to walk down the same hallway that they were standing in. Followed, very closely, by Kristiina Edelfelt. Who still had yet to snap out of whatever it was that Morgan had undoubtedly done to her.

"Go away." Shirou spoke bluntly to the blonde-haired girl, only getting a scoff and a roll of her eyes as she sped up a little to keep pace with him.

"Stop being so childish, Emiya. We have to work on this assignment."

"I'd rather fail."

"Well, I wouldn't. Would it kill you to take my feelings into account for once?"

'I'm going to kill myself. Clearly, it's the only escape from this hell.'

"No." He made a move to turn right down the hallway, only to pause as Kristiina jumped in front of him.

"Emi- Hey!" She yelled as he turned on the heel of his foot and decided to go left down the intersection of hallways.

It'd add another couple of minutes to his walk because he'd need to go downstairs and backtrack but it was entirely worth it to annoy her. Especially if she was going to be this annoying constantly.

He sighed and massaged his left shoulder; it was starting to feel rather hot actually.

"The more time we spend walking around the less time we have to do the assignment. Honestly. I guess we have no choice. I suppose I'll just have to give a formal invite t-to my house." Kristiina spoke, stammering a bit as her cheeks began to grow red.

And for a brief, blinding, moment Shirou felt so much disgust surge through him that it almost blocked out the growing heat and pain in his shoulder. Almost.

"Is something wrong with your shoulder, Emiya? Ugh, what am I meant to do with you?" Kristiina groaned, following after him even as he sped up to a very brisk power walk.

"Just my shoulder." He grunted, digging his heel into it to try and mitigate the pain that had suddenly begun to erupt from there.

'What is this feeling…?'

It almost felt like every step Shirou took down the hallway, the door to a cage slowly began to creak closed.

"I can't have you skimping out on work due to such a thing. Come here, I'll deal with it." Kristiina sighed, wriggling her fingers and reaching up for his shoulder as they walked.

Only to hit Shirou's back and bounce off as he came to a dead halt in a single step, staring unblinkingly into the empty hallway ahead.

Shirou's instincts told him that a 'cage' of some kind lay ahead of him. And if there was one thing that he didn't do, it was ignore his instincts.

"SHEROU!" The shout from Luvia from behind him made both the blacksmith and the brainwashed woman jump and turn towards her.

Luvia was skidding around the corner towards the two of them, Sakura behind her as the two of them ran towards him with worry etched all over their features. And for a moment, Shirou thought that something was coming after them. The teen tensed his hand in preparation to summon a blade, only for his shoulder to erupt in hellfire as whatever the 'cage' was decided it had gotten bored of waiting. And instead of waiting for Shirou to walk into it and gently slide close, it rushed forward, intent on slamming shut around him no matter what.

Adrenaline burst through Shirou's veins as he began to twirl on the spot, acid green eyes wide with both want and manic violence seeming to fill his vision entirely as Morgan le Fay closed in on him faster than a Caster had any right to move.

But while she was fast, she was no Scathach. A blade crackled into existence in his hand as he spun, seeming to only excite Morgan more as her magical presence rose and her hand reached out towards him.

Yet there was something even faster than the both of them. And that 'something' was the displacement of air as Morgan Pendragon blinked into existence between the two of them.

"No."

The singular word spoken by Pendragon seemed like the only sound able to travel at such high speeds as Le Fay ground her feet into the shitty floor of the high school and clapped her hands together.

"See you later, Scabbard-Holder~" Le Fay grinned darkly, blinking out of existence alongside Kristiina with only fractions of a second before a fireball crashed through where she had just stood.

"Sherou! Sherou are you ok? She didn't do anything did she?" Luvia babbled as she slid to a stop beside him, checking him over with concerned eyes.

"Senpai?"

"I'm fine. Nothing happened." Shirou informed them, letting his blade disappear before looking over at Caster as she walked closer.

"Glad to see that, that precaution is working properly." She muttered, placing a hand on his shoulder and instantly getting rid of the burning sensation.

"Caster, what was that?"

"A precaution. I placed a marking on all Masters and Servants, as well as your parents and maids that would activate if my other half were to ever get too close. It's how I was able to inform you, Master."

"So that's why you were so worried." Shirou muttered.

"If you think that she's worried, wait until Rin and Saber hear about this." Sakura reminded him, getting an uncomfortable twisting of his expression as Luvia and Sakura both hugged him for comfort.

"Could we perhaps just….not inform them?"

"Shirou." Caster scolded, folding her arms.

"Yeah…I know. Could I ask you to break the news to Saber first, so she has a little time to calm down?" He near-on pleaded with Morgan, getting a devilish grin from her as she hummed and tapped a finger on his chest.

"Very well. But you owe me a very big favour~"

"Yeah, I know. Thank you." He gave her a weak smile as she reset the markings on Sakura and Luvia as well before teleporting away, leaving just the three of them in the hallway.

"Luvia, why are you hugging me tighter?"

"Because my Servant is trying to get in your pants and I'm worried about your safety." Shirou couldn't help but sigh heavily at his girlfriend's words, wrapping his arms around both her and Sakura tighter in return.

"I'll be fine, Luvia. Always."

"Promise?"

"Promise, Senpai?"

"Yes. I promise."

XXXxxxXXX

That night, Kristiina's residence

"Why did you do that!? I was finally alone with Muramasa!" Kristiina growled at her Servant, only getting a cruel glare in return.

"Had you brought him towards me faster you would have had all the private time with him that you wanted. I went through all that work to not only set up that trap but also hide my presence and you messed it up because you let your mind wander." Morgan, ever the manipulator, was quick to turn the narrative back on Kristiina, making her the entire fault that the plan had fallen through.

"I-I- Well- Muramasa seemed to sense something-" She tried to weakly defend herself, her angry confidence shattered as her brainwashed mind realized that she may actually be the reason that her 'true love' wasn't with her right now.

"You're right. He did." Morgan hummed, grinning darkly and licking her lips.

'What an interesting human he is. To have that level of instincts, that speed and abilities like that sword creation of his…That goes beyond just Avalon and her. Fascinating~'

"For now, we'll work on the next plan. And if you follow my orders, you'll have your precious Muramasa all to your lonesome." Morgan purred into Kristiina's ears, moving around to stand behind her.

"Y-Yes. To myself. All to myself..~" Kristiina muttered, her legs quivering a little and her jaw going a little slack as the fog in her mind constrained even further.

XXXxxxXXX

A little later, Emiya Estate

"This is going to end up very differently in the morning, you're all aware of that, right?" Shirou deadpanned, staring up at the ceiling as he lay in his bed.

Lying on his stomach and between his legs was the peacefully smiling form of Sakura, while Rin and Luvia were pressed against his left and right sides respectively. And, of course, Artoria lying on her own mattress on the floor of his room with a blush that could light a fire as he spoke up.

"Don't care." Rin said resolutely, making him look away from her to avoid the glare that she shot him.

"You attract danger like a magnet, Sherou." Luvia giggled, poking his cheek.

"We're going to have to give you a guard detail at this rate." The twin-tailed Magus huffed, wrapping her arms around him tightly.

"Outside of school, I believe I'm a perfectly fine guard detail…" Artoria muttered, almost as if she was embarrassed to speak up.

And she sort of was, but not because of a lack of confidence in her answer. More because the idea of being awake for, or waking up to, the four of them doing something lewd made her heart do cartwheels and her emotions tie themselves in knots.

"But you can't be with him all the time and that's the issue. It's always when he's alone that these things happen."

"I could have Rider follow Senpai while spiritualized?"

"Can we maybe discuss this in the morning?" Shirou asked, looking down at the three of them.

"…Fine."

"Very well."

"If you wish, Senpai."

"…"

"Saber?"

"O-Oh! Right. Yes. Of course." Artoria coughed into her fist, quickly rolling over to face away from the bed when Shirou lifted his head to look over Rin's shoulder at her.

"Well alright then…? Goodnight."

XXXxxxXXX

The Next Morning

"-ber? Saber?" Artoria yelped and jolted in her seat, looking up from the cup of coffee that she had been served and looking over at Medusa.

"Ah, I apologize, I was lost in thought. What were you saying?" She said to Rider, smiling apologetically.

"Must have been some interesting thoughts if you were making a face like that." Medusa noticed with an almost smug grin, which only got wider as Artoria began to feel her face with her fingers.

"Face? What face?"

"Nothing. Don't worry. But I was just wondering if you've heard the agreement that Shirou and his girlfriends came to?"

"No, I haven't." Artoria muttered, giving a slightly suspicious look towards Medusa. "About the guard detail?"

"No that's hit a brick wall." Rider shook her head. "I meant about Servants being able to join in when they have sex so long as at least one of his girlfriends is there too."

The mug in Artoria's hand exploded into a thousand tiny shards. The coffee, super compressed by the speed that her hand clenched, spurted out of the gaps in her fingers with enough speed to hit the roof and walls on the other side of the room.

"Oh. I see. Well, I'm sure that you, uh, are looking forward to that?" Artoria spoke rather robotically as she opened her hand with equal mechanization.

"Oh, indeed." Medusa nodded without any shame at all, truly a perfect partner in sinful crime with Sakura. "But I just thought I should inform you, should you be interested."

"Thank you. Your information is noted."

"You're taking this better than I thought, I expected you to completely shut down." Rider smiled, finally sitting down across from Saber at the table.

"Thank you. Your information is noted."

"Ah. There it is."

XXXxxxXXX

Meanwhile

"Jeanne? What's up?" Shirou asked, sitting on one of the couches in the lounge room.

"Well I'd just heard that there was a Church in town-"

Shirou narrowed his eyes at Jeanne, which went unnoticed as the girl nervously fidgeted just from asking her request.

"And I was wondering if perhaps, today, you'd be able to bring me there?"

"No."

"Eh? But- Why? Are you perhaps busy?" Jeanne asked.

"Nope."

"Ah. Then, can I know…why?"

"The current Sister of the Church and I are on terrible terms." Shirou said bluntly, clearly having no intentions to mince his words on this matter.

"Oh! Well then, I can be a mediator?" Jeanne suggested, perking up and clapping her hands together.

"If we're asking questions. Why not go with someone more ready and willing?" Shirou asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

"Well, that's…The Puppet clearly won't go near you." Jeanne explained slowly, "And also you're the person I'd say I know the best amongst the alliance."

"So, you feel safe going around with me?" He summarized, getting a firm nod from the blonde-haired Servant.

"Fine, but after school. As much as going there isn't great, it's still better than going to the Church." He sighed, standing up after looking at the clock and noticing the time.

In response to this, Jeanne's lips just spread into a thin and shaky smile. Clearly stuck somewhere between being thankful that he agreed to go with her and wanting to defend a sister of the Church.

"I'll be at your personal home then." She said properly, giving him a small nod.

"Yeah, sounds good."

XXXxxxXXX

That afternoon, Muramasa Estate

"So, you're really, actually going to the Church with Ruler?" Rin asked incredulously, and not without good reason either.

The mutual hatred between Shirou and Caren was second only to the hatred between Shirou and Kristiina, and considering the ease at which Shirou was prepared and willing to stab Kristiina, the fact that Caren had gone this long without injuries was a miracle in and of itself.

"Worry not, Rin. I'll be going with Master as well." Saber said, placing a fist over her chest.

"For once, the danger against Shirou isn't why I'm hesitant for him to go." Rin deadpanned, getting a small sigh from Saber.

Though the Englishwoman couldn't exactly blame Rin. She had met Caren once and that was already a scenario that she didn't want to repeat if she could avoid it.

Shirou just hummed and opened his front door, seeing Jeanne standing in the hallway leading up to the door, but not right up against the entranceway, seemingly waiting for his arrival home.

"That excited?" He asked, letting out an amused huff of air as he took his shoes off and began to walk further into the house.

"I wish to see what Churches in the modern day are like. I wasn't able to visit many in my time when I was alive, but I still remember their splendor." Jeanne said, perhaps a little dreamily at the end.

"Yeah yeah. Once I get changed and grab some stuff we'll head out." Shirou said, giving a small but weak smile towards Jeanne before walking past her and heading further into the house.

"He's…really not a fan of going to the Church, is he?" Jeanne muttered.

"He has nothing against the Christian faith, don't worry. It's just Caren that he has an issue with." Rin said, patting Jeanne on the shoulder as she walked past.

"Should I be worried about this Caren? I told Shirou that I would play mediator but…"

"You won't have to worry about Caren. I think. Actually…" Rin muttered, looking Jeanne up and down.

"She will likely make a comment about your figure." Sakura interjected, smiling politely.

"Eh? Why? Is there something wrong with my body?" Jeanne asked, now beginning to look herself up and down.

"Not wrong, per se. More along the lines of you're a pretty lady and she believes that any naturally beautiful woman is 'tempting lust' or something." Rin said, using finger quotes for Caren's 'thoughts' and rolling her eyes.

"O-Oh. I see…"

"Alright. I've grabbed my things, let's head out." Shirou said, stepping out with not only his regular garb, but also his specialty-made smithing hammer, but also Kuro and Gilgamesh sheathed at his hip.

"Are you expecting to fight someone Shirou? You're dressed like a walking armoury." Rin commented, raising an incredulous eyebrow.

"Would you like me to be safe or not?" He deadpanned, his look getting even flatter as his girlfriend mimed zipping her lips together and throwing away the key in response.

"I'm ready to go as well, Shirou." Jeanne nodded with a smile.

"I'll follow along." Artoria acquiesced easily, following her Master and Ruler outside where the two of them got on Shirou's motorbike.

"Alright, let's get this over with." Shirou sighed, starting up his bike.

XXXxxxXXX

Twenty minutes later, Fuyuki Church

"The…doors are already open?"

"She saw us pull up." Shirou answered Jeanne, staring up at the Church as if he really, really didn't want to go inside.

"Well...Shall we go then?" She suggested hesitantly, pointing with both her index fingers towards the open doors of the Holy building.

"…Yeah." He sighed, beginning to walk forward, flanked by both Jeanne and Artoria.

And the second that Shirou stepped through the doors; a deluge of water fell on him and drenching him from head to toe. Both Artoria and Jeanne jumped on the spot, with Jeanne taking a single step back as she tried to figure out what exactly was happening.

"Holy…Water?" She mumbled, biting her lip gently when she saw the glare of legitimately worrying murder that lit Shirou's eyes up as he stared dead ahead of him.

"Huh. Interesting. I surely thought that Holy Water would do the trick. Have you developed an immunity to such Holy Items?" Caren spoke, her fingers interlaced, and her hands held at chest level, as if actively praying even in this moment.

"…Jeanne. Caren." Shirou introduced the Saint of Orleans to the young woman standing before them, grunting as steam began to waft off him and his clothes.

"Ah, I see. Your demonic constitution boils even the water of the Father. Truly a hell-spawn, thou art."

"Ah. Hello. I'm Jeanne. I wished to come and visit the wonderful grounds of our Father who art in Heaven." Jeanne quickly interjected herself between the two of them, her hands clasped in front of her and a nervous smile on her face.

"Ah. I see yet another woman of lust that has fallen to Muramasa's temptation." Caren sighed in disappointment, drawing an invisible cross in front of her while clutching the cross hanging from her neck.

"Anoth- Eh? N-No you misunderstand I'm s-still pure." Jeanne said quickly, waving her hands around in front of her face while blushing heavily.

"Living with that demon, it is only a matter of time before you end up coated in the sin that oozes out of his every pore."

"I could end you. Right here, right now."

"Yet you will not." Caren responded with a mocking grin, practically daring him to attack her.

And if not for Artoria's hand on his shoulder, he may have actually gone through with it.

"This Church truly is beautiful!" Jeanne called out to try and distract Caren from her relentless mocking of Shirou, beginning to walk around while inspecting the inside of the Holy building.

"You believe so? It's rather tame compared to the proper cathedrals of the West but for passing on the message of the Lord, it works." Jeanne's cheek twitched as she forced a smile onto her face.

"O-Oh. I'd love to see them one-" The sudden silence from Jeanne caught the attention of Shirou and Artoria, making the both of them look over.

Jeanne had frozen mid-step; her gaze locked on a particular item in the far corner of the Church while she seemed to be going deathly pale just by looking at what appeared to be a picture.

A picture of Kirei Kotomine above an open and empty glass vase.

"Jeanne? Are you ok?" Shirou walked over to her.

"That's him. The puppet of the Grail." Both Shirou and Artoria tensed up, while Caren's head whipped towards the blonde Saint with enough speed to give a regular person whiplash.

"Are you absolutely certain, Jeanne?" Shirou asked seriously, getting a shaky nod from the young woman as Caren walked over, her face for once cold and blank.

"Tell me everything."

As Jeanne shakily obliged the priestess's wish, Shirou took a couple of steps away and pulled the communication totem out of his sleeve. A blank sort of detachment in his voice as he spoke into it while channeling just enough Od to activate it.

"Jeanne has identified the Puppet of the Grail. It's Kirei Kotomine, or at least his body."

"Kirei!? How? Scathach gouged out half of his torso." Bazett responded, clearly angry by the tone of her voice.

"Don't know yet. But Jeanne has confirmed that it was definitely Kirei."

"Apart from the hair and eye coloring, he would match the physical description she gave." Kiritsugu's voice came through, logical and calculating as usual.

"This means I still have a shot at killing him." Rin commented, perhaps a little too gleeful at the idea of killing her ex-mentor and once guardian.

"I'll let you all know if we discover anything else." Shirou said before pocketing his communication totem once more, looking back towards the three women as Caren grilled Jeanne for every last piece of information that she could.

And just when he thought that the craziness for the night had reached its apex, just when he'd thought that Kirei Kotomine being the puppet for the Grail would be the biggest thing to happen today, a wave of Mana pressed down on him, thick and malicious.

The Lotus Blossom unfurled, releasing with it twin balls of heat that scorched all that came near, hiding with them a beast of unmatched ferocity. A united front of opposition and death.

"What is that?" Artoria questioned, her gaze locked on the wall of the Church but her eyes unfocused, as if she was staring far, far beyond that.

"Four Servants, they all appeared at once." Jeanne muttered; eyes wide.

"Everybody group up! Shirou, that includes you!" Bazett's voice echoed out of his sleeve.

"We're leaving." Shirou said, quickly running out of the Church, the two Servants hot on his tail.

"You two take the bike. I'll travel on foot." Jeanne said, her flag materializing in her hand as she ran.

"No complaints here!" Shirou called out, starting his bike and tearing off down the road, away from the Church as Jeanne leaped over a fence, beginning to slide down the hill the Church was built on.

XXXxxxXXX

Meanwhile, Outside Fuyuki Airport

"You're kidding me. Now of all times?" Waver griped, the engine of the car he had organized to pick up growing louder as he began to accelerate down the road out of the airport.

"My skin feels like it's setting itself on fire as it's being lacerated." Gray muttered, peering out the window of the car to try and catch a glimpse of whatever or whoever was emanating this aura across Fuyuki.

"It's Servants. It has to be." Olga said resolutely, only making Waver grit his teeth and grip the steering wheel tighter as his foot slowly but surely pressed down on the accelerator more and more.

"If they're a united front then Shirou and everyone here is in serious danger." Waver growled, really wishing he could take the time to grab a cigar and light it, so he had something to try and relax himself with.

He sped up more, the sound of the wind traveling past the vehicle speeding up even more as he took a wide corner and nearly flipped the car in doing so.

"Gray. When we meet up with anyone from Fuyuki we need to sort out a game pla-" For a moment, a brief moment as he reached a straight section of road with no obstacles to avoid, his eyes flicked up to the overhead mirror to look at his oldest apprentice.

And found a completely empty seat beside an open window.

"Gray. No. You can't be serious. You jumped out of the car?" He scowled, beginning to hear creaking from the steering wheel as his knuckles went white.

Waver took another turn, nearly flipping the car once more as it jostled this way and that.

"Olga. When we meet up with someone from Fuyuki, we need to sort out a game plan and establish an alliance. I can't believe that the moment Shirou or Luvia gets involved all sense of hesitation or passiveness just leaves Gray's body. She doesn't even stay to listen to my-"

Olga's seat was deserted of its occupant entirely, a fully open window beside it just like Gray's.

"GOD-"

XXXxxxXXX

Fuyuki Outskirts

"Hoh-ho?" Berserker opened his eyes with an excited gleam in them as the wave of mana washed over him.

"And here's the opening salvo. Up and at 'em Berserker!" Francesca grinned, her expression wide and manic, as her chance to finally pick at her targets showed itself.

"Finally!" Berserker launched himself to his feet, his weapons already materializing in his hands.

"Go after whomever you wish. Do what you like with them. But if you find Ruler or that purple-haired Matou girl, let me know. They'll be my prey~"

"Heh. Whatever you say, Master. I know exactly who I'm going after." And with a crack of dirt, Berserker launched himself towards the city.

XXXxxxXXX

Over Fuyuki Harbour

"So, this is the home to the alliance that's been causing so much trouble?" The form of Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia scoffed, standing on the edge of the vessel that floated so high above the ocean's surface.

"Oh? You don't appreciate it? Its appearance leaves much to be desired, but it has all the hallmarks of a birthplace of legends." His Servant disagreed, getting a tight-lipped expression from the man as he fought his hardest not to glare at the Rider-class Servant.

"If not for you Rider we would have been here days-" The edge of Rider's staff was pressed against his Adam's apple, making him shut up immediately with wide eyes and grit teeth.

"I have told you before, Darnic. You will refer to me by my name. King Ozymandias!" He took the staff away from his Master's neck to stand up and make a grand gesture, beginning to walk to the front of his vessel, the Mesektet.

"Ozymandias. Is such a display necessary?" Caster asked with a small frown on her face.

"Of course, it is, Caster. The Masters and Servants of this War must know the splendor of who they're fighting after all." Ozymandias explained, as if it was common knowledge, turning his head to look over at the other three Masters that were lined up further back on the flying vessel. "Now you may all start the show, our opening act isn't complete without some fireworks after all."

"You heard him, Avenger." Celenike Icecolle Yggdmillennia grinned sadistically, flexing her fist as the chance to finally unleash her Servant without the eagle-eyed Rider chaining her down. "Find the strongest Master and kill them."

Slowly the form of the Servant materialized, bringing with it a wave of thick, unending, hatred that made Caster press her lips together and move over to the side of her own Master, simply to be away from the Servant. Its four powerful paws pressed against the pristine vessel as its matted fur waved in the wind. The headless figure atop the snarling beast merely tilted their body, as if to look over the edge of the ship before the gigantic 190cm tall wolf leapt over the edge. Its fur and thick chains hit the harbour with a cacophonous crack that was only drowned out by its howl that blew the cloud of dust away before it could even begin to fully form. Its fur began to light up as it sniffed the air and took off between two warehouses, caught on the scent of the strongest Master, Bazett Frag-

A new smell reached its nose, a scent of metal and fire that made the wolf hackles rise and its pupils dilate.

As if reality itself had glitched for a second, the giant canine hit the side of a warehouse, caving it in without a care in the world as it took a 90-degree turn, completely changing its course to go in a wildly different direction to its first target.

To the great amusement of Ozymandias.

"Oh? Looks like your threat assessment was off, Darnic." He didn't seem to take the silence from his Master as an insult, in fact, it only seemed to amuse him more judging by his raised eyebrow.

"Archer, you go as well." Gordes Musik Yggdmillennia said as well, adjusting his jacket when he noticed it had moved around in the process of travelling to Fuyuki.

"Very well." Archer nodded, stepping onto the lip of the flying vessel and plainly stepping clear off the edge.

"Caster. Go too." The final Master whispered, Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillennia looking imploringly between her Servant and the increasingly angry expression of Darnic as his Servant continued to usurp his authority without a care in the world.

"…Alright Master." Caster nodded, walking quickly to the edge of Mesektet and hopping over the edge herself.

"Oh? And outside forces stepping into the fray as well? This opening act is making me excited for the main course. I may not be able to stop myself from placing down my temple right here and now." Ozymandias grinned, sitting back onto the throne placed atop his ship, a glass ball held on the arm of his throne for him to look into even as he held his staff out to Darnic's neck once more, this time cutting him off from even beginning to speak.

"I think I'll even the numbers a little." Ozymandias hummed to himself, as mana began to coalesce around the Mesktet, forming into beings of four legs and two wings.

With roars that nearly sent three of the Yggdmillennia Masters to their knees, the four summons Sphinxes fully crystallized into the world. The four of them take off in search of their targets without Ozymandias even having to order them to do so.

"Would you stop throwing so much mana around?" Darnic growled, tensing up as his Servant's gaze slid over to him.

"Oh? And I was kind enough to shoulder the burden of cost entirely onto myself. Should I have relied on you more, Darnic?" He asked, raising an eyebrow and letting the corner of his lips curl up ever so slightly.

"…Forget it."

XXXxxxXXX

With Shirou and Artoria

"Rin, I promise I'm on my way." Shirou spoke into his phone, held up to his ear by Artoria as he swerved between two cars, ignoring their indignant horns as he kept driving.

"You better be. There's enemies swarming all over Fuyuki, we can't be split up at a time like this." Rin growled over the phone, Shirou's experience with the young woman letting him know that it was a stress response, rather than true anger directed at him.

"Why not have Caster teleport everyone?"

"She's busy checking on and reinforcing the Bounded Field around the Greater Grail first."

"Smart." Artoria nodded, not that either Shirou or Rin could see it. "While staying safe is a high priority, the Greater Grail being compromised is a worst-case scenario."

"What Saber said."

"Just get here as quick as you can…Love you."

"Love you too." Shirou said, swerving through a thin gap between two cars and hitting the throttle as he saw the road ahead void of any vehicles.

XXXxxxXXX

Avenger tore through the streets of Fuyuki at speeds that cracked cement and tore through the sides of buildings. Its fur seemed to light up the faster it moved as the scent of its target got stronger, indicating the narrowing distance between them and Avenger. Above it, a sphinx of Ozymandias followed, abusing its aerial movement to keep up with the speed demon as it turned down an alleyway.

Time seemed to grind to a halt, Avenger's paws meeting the asphalt of the alleyway and grinding it to powder beneath its powerful limbs. Its eyes slid to the right, towards a nook in the alleyway, created by two buildings that didn't quite meet as they should have.

The acidic green eyes of Morgan le Fay seemed to glow in the darkening light of Fuyuki as the sunset. An arm outstretched towards the monstrous servant as they ran past.

"T̵̩̩͈̣̠̲͈̺̮͉̩̗̮̘̀͗͐̇̋̆̇̑̀̊̓́͘̚͝ͅͅã̵̲̳̠͕̯͌̄̀̈́̈̕͜s̵̢̥̖̜̗̻̄̽j̶̡̛̭͇̠͙̼̣̩͙̤̠̦̙̳͍̲̫̗̪̜̇̇͒̈́̄͛͛̀̊͊̓͊͆̄̀̇̉̚͝͝ ̶̡̯̫̰̦̞̻͙̬̞̞͎͚̗̺̯̲̘̊̎̓̊̈͜ń̷̢̳̭̗͚̯̝̣̼̘͕͌͂̈́͐̉͛͛̌̀́̉̎̉͋̎͜͜͝͝ą̷̢̻̩͓͍̥͇̭̏̈́͊͛̔̕̚h̸͎͎̃̈́̋̓͆̿̿ȩ̸̢̨͙͚͕͔̩͕͔̯̳̮̭͎̪̻͕̣͛́͂̀̈́́́̌̕͝ ̵̢̦̠̬̫̼͇̲̣̮͌̇̏̒̀͊̄͆͗̈́͒̑͆͘̚͘͝͝͝ơ̸̧̡̛̩̠͚͙̬̟̹͕͓̍̏̋̈́͑̇̆̆̋̀́̍̕͘͘͝͝ḑ̶̲̹̙̯͉̬͗̍́̈́̂̈́̒͆̓̃̓́̂̽͘͝͝j̸̡̧̨̬̜̤̗̮͍̘̠̱͎̻̖̲͎̔͌j̸̡̡̨̧̨̫̮̟͖̻̘̥̮̰͕͔̣̗̖̯̊̇͋̎̈́͗̄̄̊͗͛f̸̡̧̧͙̟̬̤̟͍͉̱̦͎̼̭̞̮̪̱̪͑̽̈̒͌͝ ̷̨̨̨̞̦͚͚̰̰̝̹̬͓̗̠̫̗̩̟̰̍͒͋͜͠k̴͖̞̫͉̼͍̞̱͖̭̦̰͎̪͈͉̣̜̕g̵̰̟̜̈́͗̑́̔͊͛̅ḩ̴͔̬̺̻͚͇͇̜̭̱̗̬̿̓̕͜͜ ̵̢̠͙͙͚̟̯̺̣̏͆͐̉̌͘g̶̦̭̗̹̬̜̞̟̤̳̈́͑o̵̱͎͕̤̥̠̹̲͒͗̋͌̽̂̓͐̅̑̐̀̋̂̀̄̍̕͜͝͝͝w̷͚̬͉̺͇̬͆̓̋̅̏̒̎̈́̆̔̒̓̈́̈́̒̇͘͝͝g̵̢̛͔̬͓̮̖͎͇̠̍͐̂͗̾͐͐̾ͅ ̴̨͓̱̭̞̮̯̱͗͐̀͑̋͗̐̅͒͐͘͜ș̷̋̀̏̀̌͂̏̕͝g̴̢̨̥̫̱̤̋͒͛̎̉̌͑̋o̵̡̨͈̥̺͖̬͚̭͍͖̲̯̜͔͊̅͋͝ẅ̴̨̛̛̺̞̥̩́̒̽̇̿̾̊́n̴̛̬̖̈͐̿̿̍͆̓̀́́̓̕̕g̶̢͍͙̹̤͕̳̪̠̜̦̜̯̭̈́͐͒͑̋͒͛̇̌̅̈́̇̋͗̾̈́̑̂̕̕͜͝l̸̡̧̞̪̜̖̩̹̳̘͙͎̯̯͍̮̝̙̪̋͊͒̈́͋̐̓́̀̐̑̔̚̕͘̚͝͠͠ͅ ̶̧̭̜̲̥͓̣͉̥̝͍̟̼̦̗͂́̾ḩ̶̠̙̝͓̙͉̞̯͇̦̬͋ͅv̵̢͚͎̦̞͔̟̰̰͓̰̮̠͗͛͗͗̈́̆̇͘͜͜a̸̢̢̮̳̯͇̞̬͔̰̪̪̥̠̠̗̣͒̈́́̎̆̂̚ͅy̶̲̙̫͉̘̯̣̹͚̲͓͙̬͍͍̌ͅñ̸̨̧̛͔͈̟̝̩̳̠̱͂̂̂͗̃̒͜͜͝͝d̸̡̪͉̠̱̩̫̜̈̅͌͐̃̄́ ̶̬̠͓͔̪͇̹̞͙͈͍͍̏̈ͅl̶͉̣̝͉̤̫̪̗͈̊́̿̓̓̽̊̀̐͋͌̈̈́͜͝͝h̸̢̠̺̬̟̝̥͕̞̒͐̂̀̇̍̀̇̍̿̆̈́́̕͝͝ͅj̴̡͖̯̝͎͙̯͓̗͉̣͖̱̙̭̉͗͛̑̀̈͛̕͘͝k̶̛̛̠̘͔̜̪̩͚͐̆̂̓̉̂̾͗͌͜ ̷̛͖̰͖̻̭̫͇͈̣̩̳͈̎̍̒̈́̔̃͆͌̚̚̚͜͝a̶̧̛͈͍͚̳͕̘͔̒̆̈́̈́̒͋̋̔̋̾̌̒̂̑̄̕̚͠͝͝ͅs̸̛̩͎̯͙̳͈̦͎̬̗͉̺̯͎̠̓̋̍͛̋́̇̏͊͛̕ơ̸̦̙̮̖̪͊̑̍̏͂̅̓͆̿͂͝j̴̨̢̡̛͔͓̗̥͚̥̯͓̟̯̫̩͔̥̥̻͔͂̈́͗̃͑̀̐̎͆́͛́͗̓͛͘͝͝͠͠į̸͍̖̘̣͙͛̓̔͐̚͜ę̵̢̛̛͍̮̻̦͉̙̳͍͋̾̈́̓̄͆͝ͅͅ"

The words were jumbled and warped, unable to be comprehended by the Servant, but the boost in power it felt didn't need to be explained.

Whoever this woman was, whatever she was looking to achieve, Avenger didn't care. She had granted them strength, temporary or otherwise, and it had a mission to complete, she didn't matter.

Time resumed at its normal pace, and the kick-off of both Avenger and the sphinx shattered windows, asphalt, and buildings alike.

XXXxxxXXX

"Master. There's an enemy heading towards us and closing in fast." Saber said, looking in the direction of the harbour.

"Yeah, I know. They're going to catch us." Shirou grunted, looking in the direction of the enemy and seeing a sphinx soaring towards the Master and Servant.

"Let me handle this, Master. You return to the rest of the Masters." Saber said, her tone holding no patience for arguments as the heavy weight of Excalibur formed in her hand.

"Fine fine. Go ahead." Shirou grouched, evidently annoyed that he couldn't fight but at least not willing to fight it this time.

"Good. I'll keep in touch through our connection."

"Yeah ok, stay safe."

"I think it's a little past that point." Artoria muttered, crouching on the back of Shirou's bike before launching herself high into the air, causing the teen to transition into a wild tailspin to avoid his bike breaking or him getting sent flying.

As he managed to straighten himself out to continue driving forward, Artoria rose further and further into the air to meet the diving sphinx that had locked onto her with intent to kill; the elevated highway that Shirou was driving on cracked.

Concrete, steel, and bitumen exploded to Shirou's left, surprising both Shirou and Artoria as the previously invisible form of Avenger made itself visible to the naked eye. Its maw open and prepared to bite clean through Shirou if given a chance as its claws grew ever closer to the young man.

'I chose wrong.'

It was one thought, but it was all that Artoria could think as her invisible blade met the paws of the sphinx in midair, and the gigantic form of Avenger crashed into Shirou and his bike, sending all three soaring off the highway. The Master and Servant separated perfectly as Shirou and Avenger flew in a large arc, heading straight towards one of the abandoned industrial districts of the city.

Meanwhile, Artoria was sent flying in the opposite direction as the sphinx turned and twirled, hurling the Servant in the direction that the sphinx had just come from, before beginning to dive after her once more, clearly intent on keeping the pressure up on its attacks.

XXXxxxXXX

Shirou coughed as he stood up on the ground floor of the warehouse that he had crashed into, wiping some dust off his lips as he looked around. He'd reinforced both himself and his bike so he was fine and he's fairly certain his bike was as well, but he'd let go of it mid-flight and he really didn't reckon that the Servant that had attacked him would let him go and grab it.

The rattle of a chain was all that Shirou needed, Kuro out of its sheath and blocking the hook blade aimed at his neck as the Servant(s?) appeared behind him, the speed and strength behind the attack picking him up off his feet and throwing him into a support beam of the building. The impact of which shook the building and seemed to make it creak and groan in protest as Shirou's feet once more hit the ground.

'Kuro just got stronger?'

Instantly he Reinforced his body to duck under the next swipe at his head, spinning and backpedaling as the paw of Avenger tried to crush him where the sharpened edge of a blade had failed.

A quick scan of the Servant let Shirou know exactly what, and who, he was looking at as blades began to spawn in the air around him.

"I think it's a little unfair for one Servant to be made up of multiple Phantoms, don't you?" Shirou questioned, firing off his blades at Hessian Lobo as he tried to plan out his next move.

The Servant was fast, moving in ways that Shirou had never seen anyone –Human, Dead Apostle, or Servant– move as it avoided the hail of blades that Shirou sent towards it. And whatever it couldn't avoid, the rider; Hessian, deflected or Lobo just allowed to strike its fur and bounce clean off. But at the very least, the presence of some of Shirou's more potent blades kept it from closing in on him with its overwhelming physical stats, for now.

He had no doubt that the Servant would find, or make, an opening to close in on him. So, he had to plan and prepare himself for a no doubt difficult fight.

'I highly doubt it uses any kind of Magecraft and there's no divinity, so using Gilgamesh is useless. And as a coagulation of Phantoms, Hessian in particular, its very presence feeds Kuro as a death bringer. But that also means that Kuro and all its effects will range from negligible to useless against them.' He thought, sheathing his prized blade and placing a hand on the ground to begin forming another through transmutation.

And just in time as well, as Hessian launched themselves off Lobo, proving to Shirou that the two of them were able to separate as he used the teen's sudden need to split his attention to close the gap and enter into melee with him.

The spark of blades lit up the darkened interior of the warehouse as Shirou deflected the swing of one of Hessian's hook blades, spinning his blade with the momentum and aiming upwards with a slash that the headless mercenary blocked with their second blade. Catching the edge of Shirou's blade in the curve of the blade and twisting it to try and overrotate the teen's wrist as the rain of blades continued to chase after Lobo.

Allowing himself to let go of his blade, Shirou spawned a dagger in his hand and struck out at the man's chest, forcing him to tilt his body to the side to avoid the thrust.

His left blade slashed up at Shirou's torso in the time it took Shirou to reach around with his other hand and grab the hilt of his blade as it fell. The mercenary already moving to defend themselves with both blades overlapped as Shirou swung out with his created blade, utilizing Sword Breaker to fling the Servant away in a cacophonous explosion of dust and air.

Except Hessian never struck the wall he had been flung towards, hitting the back of Lobo as the King of Currumpaw used the sudden lack of firing blades to catch their summoned partner before closing in. Snarling as another blade apparated in Shirou's grip in a flash of cyan and red lightning.

Flames erupted out of the blade as Shirou shot forward, meeting the charge of the wolf head-on and swiping at it, hitting only the chains attached to one of its legs as it twisted itself to avoid being hit straight on by the blade. The headless form of Hessian hopping off the back of Lobo to continue his assault on the teen, now with Lobo present and able to participate as well.

XXXxxxXXX

Heracles hummed as he looked left and right, seeing the grinning form of Beowulf, the second Berserker of this war, and Arjuna, the second Archer of this war. The three of them were stuck in a three-way deadlock through pure happenstance.

Around them, the street directly outside the Emiya Estate was torn up to hell and back, a couple of houses actually beginning to crumble and collapse in on themselves just from the backlash of the fight between the three of them.

Beowulf by himself wasn't much of a threat to either Archer. But that, by itself, actually made him the largest threat in the fight. Because whoever Beowulf decided to target would get targeted by the other Archer as well, purely because they knew that they could deal with the Berserker once the other Archer was gone.

So, in an incredibly odd turning of the power dynamics between the three, it was Beowulf himself who held the future of the fight in his palms. And, if nothing else, he seemed to be relishing it.

"Your bowman ship is impressive. Heracles of Greece." Arjuna spoke calmly, an arrow held loosely against the drawstring.

"I can say the same of yours, Arjuna of India." Heracles said respectfully, nodding his head as he copied the Servant's manner of address.

"What? I get no praise? You Archer are so mean." Beowulf grinned, pointing one of his two weapons at each Servant.

"You do not use a bow, though?"

"Apologies, Berserker. You're a terrific fighter."

"Heh. Such high praise. Here's my thanks!" And like a rocket, he was off in the direction of Heracles.

But the propelled arrow of Arjuna was even faster.

XXXxxxXXX

"Awwww. You don't want to face me yourself? Why not? Am I scary? I'm not scary scary though, right?" Francesca giggled as she stood across from the blank-faced Sakura Matou, with Rider standing between the two of them.

"I don't have the time for you." Sakura said, as plain and blunt as a carpenter hammering a nail down.

"Oh? Oh? Sorry sorry~ But I have aaaaaalll the time in the world for you. And then dear Ruler too. Oh! Do you think that it would be more fun to defile both you and dear Jeanne at the same time~" Francesca sighed dreamily, nearly sinking to her knees from, what looked like, sexual euphoria at the idea.

"You're in the way of me getting to Senpai." Sakura snapped, her hair beginning to go pale white and her eyes a few shades more red.

"Oooooh scary~ But sorry to say that getting rid of me doesn't actually get rid of me. Get what I'm putting down?" She grinned, leaning forward with her parasol over her shoulder and winking at the two women flirtatiously.

"I understand." Medusa said, her voice calm yet cold and ruthless as a hand reached for her blindfold. "And I'm sorry to say this, it's always a shock when someone is knocked off their high horse. But there are ways to deal with you that don't include death."

And the next moment, the resplendent rectangular pupils of the Mystic Eyes of Petrification were all that Francesca could fathom. All that she could consciously recognize as the weight of their Mystery crashed down on her.

"You're a trickster and a planner. But take those away, and you aren't scary in the slightest." Sakura commented, beginning to walk past the reviving Magus as she let her Servant handle it for her.

XXXxxxXXX

Shirou coughed as he dug his blade into the asphalt and ground himself to a halt, his shirt and pants damaged and coated in small amounts of blood. A cut on his cheek dribbled some blood even as it slowly began to heal thanks to Avalon.

The warehouse that he had been fighting Avenger in was already on its last legs, and the hole that Shirou's body had just been used to create certainly wasn't helping. Though it's not like either he or Avenger really cared about something like that right now, with the wolf and rider already tearing out of the dust cloud with speeds that Shirou genuinely couldn't hope to match even with his body Reinforced to the max.

Six blades struck the concrete ahead of Avenger, fired off at the fastest speed that Shirou could muster as he launched himself to the side, his feet hitting the wall of an abandoned factory for only half a second before he was off again. The teen abusing the momentary loss of speed that Avenger had, had to take to avoid being stabbed by any of the blades to close in on the Servant on his own terms.

Flames erupted out of Shirou's blade once more, brighter and larger than they had been before as his feet hit the ground and bounded back off to leap over the Servant.

"Rekka." (烈火, Inferno)

The flames of Shirou's katana lit up the abandoned district as they exploded out of his blade. Raining down on the beast as it howled and launched itself through a wall to escape the flames and blade able to harm it, even if only minutely.

'It disappeared!?' Shirou's eyes seemed to glow brighter as he looked around, his feet touching the ground just as he caught sight of the approaching Avenger once more, taking note of the surprised flinch that Hessian took as he flung himself out of the way.

The invisibility around Hessian Lobo flaked away as it tore through the position he had just been, ten blades chasing after it as Shirou launched himself off of ground level and onto the corner of the factory's rooftop.

'They're surprised I can see them. Interesting. But still, their speed, strength, and endurance are ridiculous. I don't even think that using Boundary would help here…'

There was a shockwave of dust as Lobo howled, its fur almost glowing as brightly as the flames that coated Rekka. The beast launched itself after Shirou with gusto as he was pushed squarely on the back foot, having to continually backpedal and dodge the ludicrously fast beast.

In the span of thirty seconds, four buildings collapsed under themselves from the damage that Shirou and Hessian Lobo inflicted purely by moving about.

Bricks and concrete ground to powder, steel warped and snapped as the two of them bounded from foothold to foothold. Flashes of light and sparks of metal lit up the district in bursts as the two of them fought.

Using a steel I-beam, Shirou flipped himself up and around the charging form of Avenger, flinging a hail of blades down on them while flinging himself away. He bounced from floor to wall to wall to put some distance between himself and the King of Currumpaw, only to realize his mistake when he saw the perfectly straight shot that Avenger had towards him. Which it was more than happy to take, reaching speeds well over what most cars were allowed to drive at in the 105 meters that Shirou had managed to open up between them. Launching itself in the air and allowing Hessian to deal with the rain of blades sent towards them as it slammed a large, powerful paw into Shirou and spiked him into, and through, another factory.

With annoyed grunts, Shirou hit and bounced along the concrete of the car park adjacent to the factory, managing to eventually get his feet under him and slow himself enough that he wasn't afraid of falling on his ass if he moved. The taste of iron reached his tongue as he realized that his lip, amongst other things, had been cut, getting an annoyed click of his tongue.

Getting injuries of this level really didn't bother him. It was when getting injuries of this level annoyed him that really got on his nerves.

And he could see Hessian Lobo approaching him, warily watching him as it assumed correctly that he would have something planned even in the brief two seconds respite he had been given.

However, that plan pretty quickly changed as a scent entered Shirou's nose, getting a dark, dangerous grin that made Lobo snarl in response, only for its own nose to seemingly catch the scent as well. Its eyes widened as it turned around, only for the flat edge of a massive, rocket-propelled hammer to slam into its face.

The shockwave from the strike, performed at blistering speeds by an already disgustingly strong young lady, completely shattered the ground beneath the two of them as Avenger was picked up and summarily flung away by the force of the strike. The young lady flipped and twirled in the air with the blowback of the strike to land beside Shirou as he fully straightened himself out.

"Took you long enough." He snorted, only getting a humoured roll of the eyes from Gray as she stood up beside him.

"Sorry, the world doesn't revolve around you."

"Aw, why not?"

"Because then blacksmithing would be mandatory in all schools everywhere."

"And the problem with that is?"

Dust and chunks of debris were blown high into the air as Avenger tore itself out of the rubble it had been buried under from Gray's opening move.

"Mind if I join in?" Gray asked, Add transforming into her trusty Scythe silently.

"Knock yourself out." Shirou let Rekka fade away into motes of Prana, another blade taking its place a moment later.

It was a European longsword with a blade of about 100cm purely on its own. A wide and thick crossguard protecting his hands coloured a brilliant purple and outlined by shining gold. Its blade was a mixture of that same gold as the Fuller (Middle section/indent) of the blade while both edges of the blade from crossguard to point were pure white.

'A Holy blade?' Gray thought to herself, though her thoughts went unvoiced.

"Things looked a little slow on my way in." She grinned as both she and Shirou began to crouch down, her Grim Reaper held out to her side. "Mind if I speed things up a little?"

"If you think you can." Shirou snorted, the form of Avenger charging out of the hole that Gray had created only a few seconds ago.

All three fighters fizzled out of existence, the car park shattering into thousands of palm-sized chunks.

XXXxxxXXX

Artoria deflected a swipe at her head from the sphinx before bringing her blade around and pulsing her prana into her arms in an explosive burst, cleaving clean through its paw before dropping to the ground to avoid the powerful jaws that tried to clamp down on her shoulder. The unsevered paw of the sphinx caused her to slide back across the road to avoid being struck, the force of her kick-off shattering the road beneath the sphinx.

"Enough with this farce." Artoria growled, her gaze darkening as she just realized that the sphinx was attempting to drag the fight out.

Something that Artoria very much didn't want to do. The quicker this fight ended, the better. Already it had been herding her further and further away from the source of her Master's fight. If it kept going at this pace she'd end up halfway across the city by the time that she killed it.

Sending prana to her legs once more, she pushed off with a mixture of her inherent physical strength and Mana Burst. Intent on ending the creature with one strike so that she could return to her Master and keep him safe from-

Artoria was in the air before she even realized that she had moved, all her forward momentum instantly transferred into upwards momentum through nothing but her own actions as a second, strangely weaker, Sphinx crashed into its own brethren. The both of them were sent tumbling down the road chaotically as she hit the ground in a crack of bitumen and asphalt. Her eyes narrowed on the two monsters as they untangled themselves and stood up.

'Even with the second one being weaker, this is going to be a hassle to deal with both of them at once. Doable, but it will drastically slow down how long it will take to get back to Master.'

A golden light emanated from behind the two sphinxes, evidently catching their attention as both of them immediately left the ground. Avoiding the attack instead of trying to take it head-on, even with the healing factor that they seemed to have. Though the reason for why made sense as the brilliant golden light was extinguished to show the figure of its creation.

The grey-haired individual flipped out of their charging pose and hit the ground in a kneeling position with one hand clutching their lance out to their side and the other tearing small gouges into the road with their fingers to join the large gouges created by their greaves.

Digging their fingers further into the ground, they came to a dead halt at Artoria's side, a confident yet sincere grin on his face as he flicked his eyes up to her face for a moment before focusing them back on the hovering beasts.

"Apologies for the delay, My King. I had to drop my Master off before I could begin my attack."

"No apologies necessary, Sir Percival." She smiled, her gaze never leaving the two sphinxes. "The quicker we rid ourselves of these enemies, the quicker I can return to my own Master. He's in great danger."

"Understood, My King." The wind swirled as both knights poured their prana into their weapons, Percival shifting to face his far larger left pauldron towards the sphinxes as they entered into a nosedive to charge towards them. "Focus on attacking, My King. I shall be your shield!"

XXXxxxXXX

Hessian hit the ground and stumbled as he was launched off of the back of his steed by a heavy dropkick from the grey-haired young lady who had joined the fight only a moment ago.

He was quick to bring his hooked blades up to deflect the lethal scythe blade already closing in on him. Stumbling back a step from the force of the strike before blocking the next strength with one blade, borrowing the strength of his mount ever so briefly, and looping the other blade around the back of Gray's neck to try and decapitate her.

Only for the strike to never land as she disappeared from Hessian's 'sight' in a blur of speed. Only a sixth sense shared between the two as 'one who causes death' and 'one who tends to the dead' cluing him on to the next strike enough to overlap his blades behind his back and block the hammer strike aimed squarely at his spine.

Like a puppet with his strings cut he flew through the air of the abandoned district, seeing the brightly glowing fur of his companion and reaching a blade out to loop it around one of the four chains shackled to Lobo's legs and pull himself back onto its back. The oversized wolf had scaled a building and leapt to reach the height of the headless man.

It was only the absurdly high defense of the famous beast that kept the both of them safe as two missiles –poorly disguised as arrows– of metal and prana crashed into the underside of Lobo, causing them both to spiral wildly before they crashed into the ground. Lobo's muscles visibly expanded before it launched itself through the streets and buildings of the industrial district, both the Master and his ally engaging the demonic beast with enviable speed and unwavering determination.

"Avenger. What's taking so long? Surely this Master isn't a match for you?" The voice of Celenike droned in the mind of both Hessian and Lobo, though while Lobo handled the insane combat currently happening, Hessian took on the role of communicator.

'The Master themselves is strong. But an ally has also arrived.' He relayed to his master, catching the Holy blade of Shirou between his two blades and quickly swiping out with a decapitating strike which, expectantly, missed its mark.

The scythe of the grey-haired girl shifted and transformed into a boomerang as large as Lobo himself, tearing across the distance between herself and the Servant before curving up at the last moment. The moonlight cast its shadow over the two of them right before the entire shadow, from boomerang to ground, solidified into a pillar of pure black and exploded. Attempting and failing to cleanse the cursed mana making up the coagulated Servant but doing more damage than anything of its nature had any right to.

"Ugh. I give you one mission and you can't even do that right. Fine, bring them back to the harbour."

Hessian briefly found himself upside down as the chase between the three monsters resumed. Taking the form of brief one-contact skirmishes amidst a sea of disintegrating buildings and rising clouds of dust.

'There's no reason to do that. Give us time and they'll be dealt with.' Hessian responded, feeling a spark of excitement lighting up in the 'shared' soul of himself and Lobo as the fight continued and the combat ramped up.

"Clearly not. And I wish to see this 'Strong Master' for myself. Lure them here."

'No.' Lobo growled through the link, its voice regal, yet guttural and bloodthirsty in a way that a human could never hope to match.

"I wasn't asking. By my Command Seal, I order you Avenger: Lure the Master and his ally to the Harbour."

Avenger hit the ground with enough force to shatter the surrounding buildings, coming to a halt so suddenly that it forced Gray and Shirou to do the same in preparation for some kind of secret move or Noble Phantasm. The neck of Lobo visibly tensed and twitched as the muscles in its legs once again temporarily buffed up.

"It's going to run." Gray announced, getting a snarl from Lobo as it glared daggers at the girl, seeming to take personal offense in her correct assumption.

"We can't let them get away."

In response, with jilted and twitchy movements, the arm of Hessian raised up with its hooked blade in tow. His pointer finger extended and made a mocking 'come here' gesture towards the two before Lobo launched itself away, Shirou and Gray quick to follow after it.

"Even with Mana Burst, in a straight line, we're going to lose it!" Gray announced, vaulting clear through a window as the glass shards merely bounced off her superhuman skin.

"I have an idea! Keep chasing them and I'll meet back up with you!"

"Don't leave me hanging for too long!" Gray grinned cheekily as Shirou tore away from the two of them, another burst of Od from Gray bringing her back in closer to Hessian Lobo before it just seemed to increase its speed again.

XXXxxxXXX

Artoria glared at the sphinx as it collapsed to the ground, headless. The weaker sphinx was similarly limp as Percival withdrew Longinus from the hole that had been gouged through the entire beast. Both of them disappeared into motes of prana that only made the King of Knights press her lips together thinly and glare at the disappearing motes.

"The enemies have been vanquished, My King!" Percival announced proudly, ever the jovial spirit.

"Yes. Now I need to get to my Master. A Servant is currently engaged with him." Percival sucked in a sharp breath as his King revealed the reason she was in such a rush to kill the Egyptian beasts.

"I wouldn't worry too much." A proud, feminine voice called out, making Artoria turn calmly to inspect the girl as she hopped down from a nearby rooftop, Reinforcement evident in her lower body as she did so.

"And I should not worry, why?"

"Because Gray would have gotten to Big Brother by now." The girl announced confidently, giving Artoria mental whiplash at the title she called Shirou by. "And the two of them are monsters."

"And so are what they're facing. I take it that you're Sir Percival's Master?"

"That's correct. Olga Marie at your service." The girl smiled and bowed politely, a blade of, no doubt, Shirou's making strapped horizontally across her hips.

"Well met. Now I need to get to my Master." Artoria said, turning and preparing to take off before Olga yelped and began to wave her arms around.

"W-W-Waitwaitwait! Won't it be faster to take a vehicle!?"

"Do you own one?" Artoria questioned curiously.

"Not…exactly." Olga admitted, pointedly looking away from the look that her Servant gave her.

A look that was well earned, as less than a minute later, the three of them were blasting down the road in a random civilian's car that Olga had created a key for, allowing them to steal it. Artoria in the passenger's seat while Percival drove, having made the point of Artoria not only being a King but also being a better choice for reacting to something quickly without driving getting in the way.

Besides, it's not like Percival didn't have the Riding skill as well.

"I can't believe that Big Brother summoned King Arthur." Olga muttered in awe, getting a tight smile from Artoria, who tried to be happy at the girl's childish tone but was honestly too worried to fully get there.

"From the stories I've heard of this 'Shirou'. He seems like a mighty fine man, albeit a little obsessed with blades."

"Certainly not inaccurate." Artoria responded simply, tensing up when she began to see a glowing light and clouds of dust shooting high into the sky approaching them.

"Master, please be prepared, something is coming." Percival said, prepared to act in an instant himself, should something happen.

And like a bat out of hell, a gigantic glowing-blue wolf tore down the opposing side of the road; large, thick, chains flailing behind it and tearing through light posts and bitumen like wet paper.

Artoria felt her senses speed up, grinding the world to a halt around her as adrenaline hit her bloodstream. The detail of everything was so clear it was like her entire life had been lived underwater. The sparks in the air, the light of the monstrous beast behind them, and most importantly the sight of herself– with grey hair– swerving around a torn-up chunk of road on Shirou's bike. A glowing golden chain wrapped around the grab-handle and led all the way back to Shirou, where it wrapped around his left arm. The teen was balancing on what appeared to be a Reinforced car door while being pulled behind the copy of herself.

A grin stretched his lips like this was the greatest thing he had ever experienced in his life, even as his eyes slid over to lock onto hers. The brief glint of recognition in his eyes reached Artoria's senses before everything snapped back into real-time, and both the Servant and teen duo blew past them.

"My King was that-"

"Give me the steering wheel."

"…Of course, My King."

XXXxxxXXX

"WAS THAT OLGA AND PERCIVAL OF THE ROUND TABLE I JUST SAW!?" Shirou shouted, swerving around a collapsing light post while trying not to think about the shine of murder he had seen in his own Servant's eyes.

"IT WAS! SHE'S BEEN VERY EXCITED TO COME HERE AND SEE YOU!"

"AW THAT'S SO SWEET!"

The lines of Reinforcement grew brighter on his own bike as Gray used the Magecraft to push it far beyond its limits to keep up with the absurd speed of Avenger. The young woman hunkered down on his bike to increase the aerodynamics of the bike as much as possible with him hanging off the edge.

Could he have pulled himself in by now? Absolutely. But would he? Not yet.

"SWERVE RIGHT!" He shouted, his friend doing so without hesitation.

"WHY DID I DO THAT!?"

"I NEEDED TO SHARPEN THAT EDGE!"

"ARE YOU USING THIS TO TURN THAT DOOR INTO A WEAPON!?"

"OF COURSE, I AM!" Shirou shouted, somehow still managing to portray the betrayal in his voice at Gray thinking he wouldn't do something like that.

"ONE OF A KIND, SHIROU!"

"THANK YOU!"

The sound of a horn and screeching tires reached both teens' ears as Hessian Lobo blew through an intersection, causing a large truck to hit its brakes as hard as it could. Which wasn't very great for the two of them because that would lead to them slamming straight into the side of its trailer.

Well, it would if they were ordinary.

It took only the briefest touch of the breaks and swinging of her hips to send Gray into a full-blown tailspin as she leaned further and further to the side to get herself and the bike as horizontal as safely possible. The chain around the tail of the bike disappeared as Shirou pushed off the car door with as much power as he could, looping his foot under the door handle to lift it off the ground with him. The red-haired teen soared clear over the top of the truck's trailer as Gray slid underneath it, already beginning to straighten the bike out almost before she'd finished passing under it.

'Is that Artoria driving after us?' Shirou thought as he flipped through the air, his gaze locking onto Hessian Lobo further ahead.

"YES, IT IS AND YOU PROMISED YOU'D RETURN TO THE OTHERS!"

'Oh, hi Artoria. Sorry a little busy right now.' Shirou cut off the connection before Artoria could continue, curling and twisting his legs before flicking them out with enough strength and speed to create a small shockwave.

The door he had been using as a land-locked wakeboard was sent hurtling through the air in a wide but controlled arc, tens of blades following closely behind it, as it closed in on Avenger. The crossed hook blades of Hessian met the spinning door and lit up the road in bright sparks before finally being deflected high into the air as Lobo swerved left and right to avoid the blade artillery raining down upon it.

But, of course, Shirou could only get so much airtime without slowing down and being left behind, so with a quick flick of his arm he created another chain to wrap around his own bike and finally pull him back in.

"We're heading towards the harbour." Shirou informed Gray, getting a hum from her as she sped the bike up once more to regain the speed, she had lost in avoiding the truck trailer.

"Perhaps we'll take a boat once we're there too." Gray joked.

"I doubt that."

"A girl can always hope."

And all of forty seconds later, Shirou's bike came screeching to a halt. Both teens bailed off the vehicle and let it flip and crash into a sea container as the Mesktet descended from the air to hover only just above the concrete.

Hessian Lobo dug its claws into the harbour to spin itself around to face both teens with a snarl and Ozymandias standing on the side of his own vessel with one hand on his hips and the other holding his staff at his side.

Two flashes of red light materialized two more Servants, whom Shirou was quick to identify as Arjuna of India and Xuanzang Sanzang of China.

"Shit. Saber, come." Shirou's words were calm, but the steel in his voice gave away the severity of the situation that he had found himself in as a red glow emanated from his hand.

In front of him, Artoria materialized fully armoured with her invisible blade held defensively in front of her. Not even taking the time to admonish Shirou as she'd truly like to, recognizing the danger of the situation much like Shirou and Gray had.

"Well now. I can understand why Avenger went after you." Ozymandias called out confidently, staring down at the three of them.

"Am I to take that as a compliment, Ozymandias?" Shirou questioned, getting two raised eyebrows and a loud, impressed guffaw.

"Well then! What a surprise! There's certainly more to you than meets the eye. That's for certain." Ozymandias praised, letting go of his staff –which mysteriously stood standing on its own– and clapping slowly for the Fairy-Eyed Blacksmith.

"Ozymandias! What are you doing!? Attack them!" Darnic growled, his anger swollen to the point that even a glare from the King of Kings himself barely managed to contain his outburst.

"No. My interest has been piqued. I have a much greater plan in mind than this invasion as you call it." Ozymandias waved a hand dismissively over his shoulder at Darnic, humming in interest as Percival and Olga barrelled out of their car; Percival standing beside Artoria at the front and Olga standing behind Shirou and Gray.

"What are you talking about-"

"A battle of Kings!" Ozymandias crowed, grabbing his staff and raising it triumphantly into the air, bathing the immediate area in sunlight and getting hisses of pain from every single person and Servant as their eyes suddenly had to adjust to the difference in light levels.

"A battle of Kings?" Gray parroted, her eyebrows scrunching together in confusion.

"To be more clear, a battle created and decided between Kings, not one made up of only Kings." Ozymandias clarified for all present, having either noticed or foreseen the confusion of all the others.

"I see. If that is to be your decision. Then what shall the battle and its rules entail?" Artoria questioned, straightening herself out.

Only to blink in surprise at the look that Ozymandias gave her as if looking at a child proclaiming themselves an adult.

"You'll have to forgive the confusion, it appears that you've made a blunder, King of Knights." Artoria tensed up at her identity being found out so quickly by the other Servant, wondering what had given it away. "But while you are a King and a first-rate one at that, you're still only an apparition, a supercharged spirit if we want to boil these bodies down to their basics. If there were no others, you would fit the bill of opposition quite finely, but it seems you've either forgotten or failed to realize, that a true living and breathing King stands amongst you."

'Does he mean me?' Gray thought, pressing her lips together and trying to ignore how her stomach twisted at the thought of that being the case.

"Won't you announce your title as King to all that stand here this evening, Shirou Muramasa?" Ozymandias challenged, his arms out wide and his gaze locked squarely onto the blacksmith as everyone, enemy and ally alike, turned a surprised gaze onto him.

Shirou closed both of his eyes, breathing in and sighing deeply before opening them once more. The golden irises and lazily rotating blue letters seem to gaze into Ozymandias' very soul.

"I have no clue what you mean."

The golden eyes of Ozymandias narrowed, and the green eyes of Artoria widened.

But quicker than both of them was Percival. A quick half-step shifted him forward as he braced his left shoulder forward right as a beam of energy from the Mesektet washed over them entirely. Splitting out from the point of Percival and melting everything it came into contact with before cutting out not even five seconds after its firing.

"Hoh? I have to commend both the craftsmanship of that shield and your strength of body to block a beam of my Mesektet, Knight." Ozymandias praised with a nod of his head a few seconds after the chaos died down. "But I hope that you'll give me a proper, truthful, answer this time."

His gaze locked squarely onto Shirou again, as if daring him to give the same answer.

"Shirou, please, just answer him." Gray whispered, even with Add already transformed into a shield as large as herself.

And with a small sigh once more, Shirou spoke.

"Fine, fine. If I have to do this I might as well do it in a way that he would have enjoyed…" Shirou straightened himself out, his entire stance seeming to shift in an instant.

"I am Shirou Muramasa-Emiya. The successor of Gilgamesh of Uruk–" Something seemed to shift in the air around them.

The ambient heat of the area rose and the wind began to softly swirl at Shirou's feet. As if the very world itself was recognizing the words leaving his lips.

"The King of Blades."

A grin blew Ozymandias' lips wide open, his eyes opened so wide that it looked like his eyes were about to pop out of his very head.

"Yes. I see. Truly a fitting title. I like it!" He congratulated the teen, clapping for him once more. "You'll truly be a proper opponent for this game of ours!"

'If Rider is acting this way. Perhaps he'll be able to…' Xuanzang thought, looking between her Master, her own staff, and Shirou.

"Which includes?" Shirou asked, staring impassively up at the ship full of Masters and Servants.

"I'm glad you asked! Our battle will be a simple one. A week from now, in a location decided by the defending team, our forces will clash unabated!"

"Ozymandias!? Enough! You will-" Darnic was cut off as a sphinx materialized and pressed him against the deck of the Mesektet.

"You're ruining my fun, Darnic." Ozymandias droned, the sunlight of his staff cutting out for only a second to let the eery glow of his eyes fully sink into the Yggdmillennia head before turning the lights back on and turning his attention back down to Shirou.

"The rules are simple! One side shall be the attackers. Another shall be the defenders. In the week leading up to our battle, no one from either side is allowed to start a conflict otherwise they are to be hunted by the maximum force of both sides combined. And finally, it is up to the defenders to choose the location where this battle shall take place."

"You weren't kidding about simple. And how will each side be chosen?"

"As a present to gaining the honour of being a true King in this modern era, I shall allow you to choose. So, King of Blades, what position will you and your allies take in this game of ours?"

'What decision will he choose? This King born of the modern era…'

'The clear choice is to choose defense. Not only do we get to decide the location but we can develop a fortified position and prepare ourselves for anything that may come of the skills of these opponents.' Artoria thought, prodding at the connection between herself and Shirou to silently communicate these thoughts to hi-

"I choose offense."

"SHIROU!?"

"Hoh-ho?" Ozymandias seemed to perk up, elated intrigue painted all over his features.

"However, there is one rule I would like to add. No cities are to be caught in the direct crossfire of this battle." Shirou stipulated, holding a single finger up.

Which got a loud guffaw from Ozymandias as he began to laugh. The King of Kings leaning so far back it was a miracle he didn't fall off the railing of his vessel.

"Very well, very well. It's only fair for you to raise a rule of your own. The deal is struck, and the game is agreed upon! In seven days from now, our battle shall begin at a location of our choosing. With myself and my allies on the side of defense, and you and your allies on the side of offense."

"That's right." Shirou nodded, ignoring the death glares he was getting from Gray and Artoria.

"Excellent! I shall see you in seven days, King of Blades." Ozymandias said, waiting for Avenger to hop aboard his ship before beginning to raise it into the sky once more, letting the sunlight of his staff die out as they disappeared into the clouds of the night sky.

"Shirou how could you!? Defense is clearly the more advantageous side." Artoria hissed, trying to keep herself under control and see if she could figure out why her Master had chosen how he did.

"I thought it through, Saber. Don't worry. Now, if you'd please, could you relay this information to the others?" He pulled the communication totem out of his sleeve and chucked it to her underhand.

"…Really?" Artoria questioned with a flat look, catching the ovoid on reflex.

"This feels pretty official. And as a King you'd be used to making official statements and stuff, right?" Shirou questioned, tilting his head to the side.

"I- Very well." Artoria sighed, getting a surprised look from Percival as she held the totem up to her mouth and activated it.

"This is Artoria Pendragon, Servant Saber of the Allied Fuyuki Forces. Contact has been made with the unified forces of the Yggdmillennia and their Servants. We have been challenged. A week from now, both sides will fight in a location of the Yggdmillennia's choosing with us as the side of offense. You may all thank Master for this arrangement."

"SHIROU WHAT THE HELL!?"

"YOU MET WITH THEM SHEROU!?"

"Senpai are you ok!?"

"Can I have my totem back please Saber?" Shirou asked, grabbing the ovoid when she silently handed it back.

Shirou's fairy eyes seemed to glow in the faint light of the moon, a certain quality to them seeming to go missing as he held the ovoid up to his mouth, much the same as Saber, making him appear so much less human.

"There is a method to my madness, I have a plan. We will quash the Yggdmillennia Forces…..Of this, I assure you all."

XXXxxxXXX

Side Story: An executioner on speed dial

Caren Hortensia hummed lowly to herself as she stared out the window of the church, staring at the just clouds of dust and explosions that she'd have to no doubt cover up as soon as it all blew over.

Good thing she'd been stocking up on Sacramental Tokens. Because with how long the ritual took to create them there's no way she would have enough if she started now. The downsides of being born without Magical Circuits, she supposed.

"So, Father is still alive and kicking, or at least something is inhabiting his body. Heresy regardless." She muttered to herself, walking away from the window right as the light of, seemingly, the sun itself shone across the city.

The good old Gas Line trick would work well for those explosions. But that light just now? Perhaps an experimental industrial spotlight malfunction?

Caren's musing was cut off as she reached her target, a table with an old rotary-dial telephone on it, kept in the Church specifically for getting in touch with other branches. An ineffectual, archaic and naïve decision on the end of the Church, in Caren's opinion.

Which is why she refused to use it, instead grabbing her flip-phone and opening it while rapidly typing a number in and bringing it up to her ear.

Brrrrrng!

Brrrrrrrng!

Brrr-

"Caren? What brings you to call so late at night? Are you ok?" The feminine voice came through on the other end, soft and caring.

"I have something I need you to help complete for the sake of a burial rite."

"A…burial rite?" The woman seemed confused.

"Indeed. A father of the Church was murdered, and their body stolen before the proper burial rites could be performed. I merely wish to complete the rites to cleanse such a filth-ridden soul but their body is currently being puppeted by a rather corrupted force."

"I see. Well, I'm always willing to lend a helping hand, you know that. I'll be down as soon as I can, promise."

"I'm calling because I'm unable to combat father, corpse or not. I do not need the soft you. I need the Executor."

"So, mean…Don't worry, you'll get both." The woman said, the small smile almost able to be heard through her voice, before the call ended with a soft click.

XXXxxxXXX

Hey Guys.

Holy fuck has things been busy on my end. Though its pretty easy to sum up, luckily. I've been having a bunch of issues with Crunchyroll, I managed to pass university (HUZZAH), work is going well, I bought Deep Rock Galactic and Spider-Man 2 and also as of the posting of this chapter it is my birthday (Nov 30) in Australia!

Also, I've managed to actually write and post my original story: Young Swordmaster's Journey. It's over on Royal Road and chapter 1 is already out. As of the posting of this chapter, chapter 2 isn't out yet. But RR actually lets you automate chapter uploads so that should be going live in the next couple hours hopefully. Also I already have chapter 3 written as well so that'll be going out on the 14th of Dec.

Now onto this fic and this chapter. How was it? It's fucking LONG. This is easily the longest chapter I've ever done, beating chapter 21 by about 3K words. With this chapter (not the Side Story or this AN) being about 16.1K just by itself. That's like two above average chapters shoved into one, so you're welcome.

Though speaking of which, I think I'm beginning to develop some very minor burnout on this fic despite how excited I am to get to the battle to come. So, I'll be taking December off in its entirety. My next update will be towards the end of January 2024.

If you wish to continue interacting with this fic and myself in that time, maybe join my discord?
Discord code: ctMzhq3 OR plasmaassassin

ONTO REVIEW REPLIES:

SentinalSlice: Ehhhh, only very rare Homunculi have that sort of quality. Most of them are just like high-human at best.

NeoNinja73: You're welcome.

Althyrios: Give it time, we'll get there eventually XD

Ariadne Venegas: She eventually will, but who knows when.

581: One of my beta's kept using the lemongrab gif of him consuming another lemongrab when this was brought up in the discord, it was great XD

DivineBahamutXZ: Its pretty fun to write, if I'm honest.

AnimeFan13579: In the homunculi's defense, they were fed immensely outdated and false information.

Kamori I'm The Infinity: Well Luvia does canonically become Zelretch's pupil, but that hasn't happened yet in fairness. Also not having the 2nd Magic doesn't mean that you can interact with it at all. You just can't manipulate them at all/can manipulate them but at a ridiculous inefficiency and danger cost. For example, the Third Magic is all about souls and Magi in TYPE-Moon fuck with them all the time, just not with the ease or expertise as someone with the Third Magic could. Also, the Edelfelt's Kaleidoscope is actually canon, it appears in El Melloi Case Files, so idk what to tell you XD

ZooFan: I do, sometimes.

TheSlySage: Glad to hear it!

Rajo: I'm happy to hear that you've enjoyed the last five chapters and I'm glad you enjoyed the fake-out that I did with Rin and her Perfect Punch.

AidenJacksonSmithDSBB: Indeed they are.

Adro-Sama: Well….they're both certainly still possible I guess? XD

Xerzo LotCN: Angelica and the last is still a secret unless you've read this chapter XD

AvirRapter: Eyyyy! High praise, thank you very much. Hopefully you continue to enjoy.

Zukafew119: Hello once more. I loved reading through your comment like usual, but I noticed a few things that I'd like to correct. Shirou's RM doesn't complete while he's spending time with his girlfriends, as nice as that would be. That was already completed, and he was just thinking about how it felt now that it was complete. There was also a timeskip between the date and when the Homunculi found Rin and Luvia, so they weren't separated from Sakura and Shirou. Also, Luvia's attack is called "Edelfelt's Kaleidoscope", its just the aria for it is "Call.". By the way, if you don't understand how a mummy can be sexy, I truly feel bad for what you're missing out on. There's some great, albeit slightly NSFW, artwork for Kiara Takanashi that shows its value off. It's made by an artist called Handplug. Though on the matter of novels and LN's, it would be much more accurate to call my story a webnovel that updates chapter by chapter, like fanfictions do. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this monster chapter (HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and you'll see me next January.

THAT'S THE END OF REVIEW REPLIES.

And finally, know that I have been watching both Frieren and Shangri-La Frontier and I'm addicted to both. Fern's battle theme in Frieren is a straight up fucking eargasm every time I hear it.