Fate/stay night: Champions Route

By: Farmer Kyle

Disclaimer: I own nothing but the ideas that spawned this.


Chapter 2: The Obligatory Info Dump

or An Explanation About Secret Magical Tournaments... Then The Fights!


"Uuuuugh... We're finally home!" whined Taiga, as everyone entered the Emiya home.

After a few minutes of untangling Rin and Taiga from the teacher's fall, and waiting for said teacher to recover from the fall, the motley group of five quickly returned to the Emiya compound at the insistence of Rin.

"Wow, it's pretty big. Japanese-style is unusual for me. Oh, is that the living room, Emiya-kun?" Saying so, Rin goes into the living room while taking off her school jacket.

"I'm tired and hungry... Shirou! Make me something to eat!" demanded the "mature" adult of the group.

"And could I get a bottle of rum?" asked Rider.

"Sure Fuji-nee, Rider-san." Shirou replied, rather eager to do something so simple after what had just happened. It would also help him process things. "Tohsaka, Saber-san, would either of you like something?" asked the redhead as he turned on the lights, not wanting to offend the two girls.

"I think some tea would be nice, Emiya-kun." states Rin, tucking some of her raven black hair behind an ear.

"I am fine Master." Saber said in a neutral tone.

The group moves into the dining room, Shirou walking past the others to reach the kitchen. As those in the living room began to get comfortable, Rin noticed something.

"Oh, it's so cold!" The school idol exclaims with a small shiver. "What's this, the windows are broken?"

Shirou sighed dejectedly. "I couldn't help it. I was attacked by this Lancer guy. I was just desperate." he explained. 'That's going to take some time to fix.' The boy thought, mentally going over the costs and time needed to repair the windows.

Rin looked a little surprised at the statement, but nodded her head in understanding. "Oh, I see. Then were you fighting him alone until you summoned Saber?"

Shirou shook his head. "I didn't fight him. He just beat me up." It really had been pathetic, regardless that Lancer wasn't human.

"Oh, so you don't try to show off, huh? …I see, I see, you're really just as you appear, Emiya-kun." Rin said, giving a small smile like there was an inside joke. She then walked over to the window.

Taking a piece of the shattered glass, Rin takes a look at it, before holding out her hand to the windows.

"Minuten vor Schweißen."

She cuts the tip of her finger and puts a drop of her blood onto the glass. The shattered glass combines on its own and restores itself in a matter of seconds.

"Tohsaka, that was…" Shirou began to say, eyes wide at the feat of magic. But he is cut off.

"That was amazing! How did you do it!" exclaims Taiga.

Shirou stops in his tracks, feeling his heart seize and his eyes widen further in fear. 'Again! I forgot about Fuji-nee!'

Looking at Rin, he sees she has a similar reaction, surprise in her eyes. But it is short lived as Shirou sees her eyes narrow in determination, a hand going down to her pocket.

Magecraft was a secret for a reason after all. No one who wasn't a magus could know of its existence, and even then, most magi tended to horde their research away from each other. There were two ways to handle those exposed to magecraft, one being to hypnotize them so that they couldn't remember. The other...

Was to kill them.

Shirou is quick in his response. He blocks Rin's view of Taiga with his whole body. "NO! It's okay! We can trust Fuji-nee!" The boy yelled out desperately.

The female magus narrows her eyes as a scowl forms on her lips. "She's NOT a maugs, Emiya." Rin says, dropping honorifics. "You KNOW what that means."

CLICK

Both Shirou and Rin shift their eyes, but only Shirou can see Rider as he places his pistol on the girl's temple. "I don't care what it means lassy, you won't be touchin' a hair on her head. Savvy?" Rider's serious tone was matched by the stony glint in his eyes.

Saber was suddenly on Rin's other side, her hand once again holding her invisible weapon. There was no doubt that it was at Rin's throat. "I will do as my Master wishes, magus." She said simply in that cold and elegant tone of hers.

Rin shift her eyes to look at all three of us before settling on me and speaking. "You should know that there can't be any witnesses to the Holy Grail War Emiya, let alone magecraft! And even if you were an accidental Master who summoned two Servants somehow, regardless that's impossible, your Servants should know that already! So call them off!" She demanded angrily.

Something about what Rin just said seemed odd to Shirou. Before he could figure out what that was, Taiga did it for him.

"What do you mean "his servants"? Rider's my partner!" Taiga declared impetuously, and Shirou had to wonder if she understood the gravity of the current situation.

The declaration though did derail Rin's thought processes, as she seemed to be struck dumb at the statement. This lasted a moment more before the Tohsaka heir erupted.

"WHAT? That can't happen!" Rin denied, unable to believe that a regular human with no knowledge was able to summon a Servant.

"How can we prove that Fuji-nee is part of this War thing then?" Shirou asked, not really sure what he was asking but seeing it as a way to keep Taiga safe.

Rin took as many deep breaths as she could, seeing as Rider and Saber hadn't moved, before calming down and answering. "As impossible as it is, a MAGUS needs two things to qualify for the Holy Grail War. A Servant and the Command Seal."

"You mean this thing?" Taiga said as she pulled up her right sleeve, holding her arm up so Rin could see the glowing red tattoo on it.

The female magus just stared at the symbol that defined Taiga as a Master, her eyes going wide as something to her knowledge that should be impossible stand right before her.

Slowly her shoulders slumped, the tension of her body relaxing as she stared dumbly at the Command Seals on Taiga's forearm. Seeing as the female magus seemed dead to the world, Rider and Saber backed away. Even then, Rin didn't budge from where she stood. It was just as Shirou began to worry about her that Rin did something he thought the school idol would never do. The girl's eyelids fluttered even as her eyes began to lose focus and roll back, her body collapsing like a puppet without strings.

"Tohsaka!"

Rin Tohsaka, heir of the Tohsaka family and perfect student, fainted.


In the Shinto district of Fuyuki, the opposite of the Emiya compound in the Miyamachou district, on a hill is a grand white building. With its many stained glass windows, the statue of a saint, and the steeple topped with an iron cross, it was easy to identify it as a church.

The Kotomine Church.

Given the lateness of the hour, no one was there for a service. No one but the priest that lived there.

"So the last have been summoned." the man said to the empty air. The priest was in his personal room and sitting at his desk. The room itself was covered in darkness, the windows covered and the one lamp on his desk off. "It would seem that I guessed correctly then."

All that could be gleaned in the darkness of the room was that the priest had steepled his hands so that they covered his mouth.

"This should promise to be most... interesting."

The man gave a small, mechanical grin.


It had taken a few minutes for Shriou and Taiga to wake the girl back to consciousness, after which Rin demanded an explanation.

Rider had wandered off, saying "I'll look for the rum." Before Shiou could say he didn't have any, Rider was gone. Saber stayed close to Shirou, keeping a lookout for threats.

As the only "real" magus, as Rin had scoffed at Shirou's abilities, went over everything she had heard, trying to figure out "why the Grail War had gone horribly, horribly wrong", Shirou went into the kitchen to fix everyone a snack and some tea.

"So let me get this straight." Rin said as she rubbed her temples, looking like she was trying to fight back a headache. She probably was. It was then that Shirou placed the some small sandwiches and a tea kettle down at the table, along with enough cups for everyone. Rin looks thankful for a moment. "Thank you, Emiya-kun." she says before grabbing a cup and sipping from it.

"Food!" cried out Taiga in joy. She then grab two handfuls and began to stuff her face.

Shirou looked over to the last, golden haired, girl. "Would you like some, Saber-san?" he asked, holding out a cup of tea and a sandwich that hadn't been grabbed by the gorging teacher.

Saber looks surprised at the invitation, before giving a small, but honest, smile. "Yes, thank you Master." She then takes a place at the table.

Shirou gives a look of distaste. "You don't have to call me something so ridiculous. My name is Emiya Shirou." says the boy as he places the tea and sandwich in front of the Servant.

Saber nods her head. "Then I shall call you Shirou. Yes, I like the sound of that better." She then takes a bite of the sandwich. After swallowing it, Saber looks to Shirou again. "This is quite good, given how simple it is."

Before Shirou can thank her for the compliment, Taiga interrupts. "That's because Shirou makes the BEEESST food!" the woman proclaims, crumbs framing her mouth before going back to her frantic gorging.

Rin opens her mouth to say something, but she too is interrupted. This time by Rider as he walks back into the living room with a noticeable, drunken swagger, two fairly large, half empty bottles containing amber liquid in both hands.

"I found the rum!" the man declared with joy, equal to Taiga's earlier regarding the food. Rider takes a large swig of the bottle in his left hand before plopping down next to Taiga. After putting down one of the bottles on to the table, he takes off his hat and places it next to the rum.

Shirou just stared at the sailor. "Where did you find those?" The redhead knew for a fact that there wasn't any sort of alcohol in the building. It had become standard procedure to to check after Taiga had once found some in a hidden liquor cabinet in his dad's, Emiya Kiritsugu, old room.

A drunk Taiga is a scary Taiga.

Rather then answer, Rider took another swig of rum.

Rin looked interested for a few moments, scrutinizing the man in dreadlocks with narrowed eyes, before shaking her head in dismissal. "So let me get this straight." She began again, putting things back on the track she wanted. Rin brought up her right arm, her elbow on the table as she pointed at Shirou. "You're a no-name, hack amateur of a magus that summoned Saber-san..." Here, her finger shifted to the golden haired girl before resting on Shirou again. "... by a complete fluke just as Servant Lancer was about to kill you, saving your life in the process."

While Shirou looked put out, and somewhat annoyed, at the female magus' summation, he didn't bother to correct her. It was true after all. The only magecraft Shirou was capable of using were Reinforcement, Structural Grasping, and Projection. Even then, his ability to use Reinforcement and Projection was questionable at best, tonight being the first time Shirou had been able to use Reinforcement without any mess ups.

"Hey, don't be mean to Shirou!" Ah, Taiga to the rescue.

Rin jabbed her finger at the teacher. "And YOU!" she said vehemently. "You're even worse! How does someone not even a magus summon a Servant! You can't even provide prana to support him! In fact, he should have disappeared by now!" Rin threw arm to the side in frustration before sitting back down with a huff, her arms crossed as she scowled, muttering how "it's not fair".

"If I may be so bold as to interrupt?" came the smooth, and slightly slurred, voice of Rider. Everyone turned to face him. "Everyone listening? Good. First off I'd like to say that, um..." Rider looked confused for a moment, obviously trying to remember Rin's name. "Frowny girl?" Rin scowled deeper at him, eyes narrow in her suppressed anger. Rider continued, waving the hand not occupied with rum in a shooing motion. "Whatever, you. Life don't always give you what you want. So you either accept it, or take what you can. Whatever works." Rin looked oddly thoughtful at that. So while she thought about it, Taiga burst out with her usual enthusiasm.

"WHAT? I will not condone stealing! Bad Rider!" Taiga took a swing at Rider's head with a rolled up poster. It was one of the posters she had brought over the other day for Shirou.

Direct Hit!

With a manly cry Rider fell on his back, letting go of the rum bottle in his surprise. The bottle rose through the air in an arch before beginning its descent. And faster than those there thought he could, Rider caught the bottle before a drop was spilled.

Giving a sigh of relief, he announced "Saved it!", before sitting up and hugging the bottle. He then whispered to it, "It's okay now, Daddy's gott'cha." He then glared at Taiga. "Why're you women always trying to get rid of the rum!" he asked of her accusingly, comically heartbroken. Before the brunette teacher could reply though, Saber spoke up.

She scoffed at the man, "Stealing? This obsession with alcohol? You sound more like a pirate than a heroic sailor."

All Rider did was take a long draught of the saved rum, seemingly ignoring the blonde swordswoman. As Taiga, Shirou, and Saber turned back to the food, Rider put the bottle down.

"Pirate Lord, actually." he said with exaggerated nonchalance.

That caught everyone's attention. Shirou looked struck dumb at the statement, silent as he tried to wrap his head around such a title. Taiga was likewise stunned, but excitement could be seen slowly building up in her eyes. Saber looked insulted, as if the idea that what were essentially thieves having any kind of ruling system was offensive to her. Finally, Rin looked absolutely intrigued, her eyes taking in every detail of the "Pirate Lord". It was the female magus that spoke first.

"Oh?" Rin asked. "Is that so, Rider-san?" She was using an almost sickeningly pleasant tone, even throwing in a smile that had Shirou blushing a little.

Rider gave the girl a broad grin. "Yep, but that's all I'm willin' to tell. "Loose lips sink ships", as the saying goes." He picked up the bottle on the table, taking a quick swig of it before putting it back down. "And don't be thinkin' that I've forgotten, lass. We're at war, and last I checked you weren't an ally." Rider's grin widened at the resulting frown Rin wore.

'We're at war' sparked Shirou's memory of why they were all in his living room, the relative normalcy of the last ten or so minutes making the cause for all this to wane from him.

"That's right!" Shirou exclaimed. "What is all this 'war' business about?"

Rin looked at the boy calmly, almost too calm, before sighing.

"You really don't know what kind of situation you're in now, do you?" She asked resignedly. Rin looked to Taiga then, "And you obviously don't know anything, right Fujimura-sensei?"

Shirou had turned to the teacher as well, and was silently shocked at the serious expression on her face. 'Like in the shed.' he thought.

Taiga shook her head. "No, I only know what Rider has told me. We're essentially in a tournament, with anything that we want as the prize." She looked down at her lap before she spoke again, her voice a half-whisper. "And losers die."

Shirou was stunned at the summation, but Rin merely nodded her head. "That sounds right. I don't really know what the Holy Grail War is myself, but I do know the basics." The schoolgirl lifted her right arm, elbow on the table and her other arm laying behind it, as she gestured it like a gun at the ceiling.

Rin then began her lecture, secretly reveling in her intellectual superiority. "To put it bluntly, you've both been chosen as Masters. You should each have a holy sign on one of your hands, or in Sensei's case her arm. There are personal differences, but there should be three Command Spells engraved. That is the sign of a Master."

Shirou spoke up at her pause. "On my hand… oh, this." He showed Rin the red marks on his left hand.

The girl with black hair nodded, giving a small sound of affirmation. "Yes. That is also a spell that rules the Servant, so take care of it. It's called a Command Spell and you can retain control over your Servant as long as you have it."

Both Taiga and Shirou stared at her, not quite understanding the last thing she said. It was Taiga that voiced their confusion. Raising her hand, as if she were the student and Rin the teacher, she asked, "What do you mean 'as long as we have it'?" and lowered her hand.

Rin continued on, though now her eyes were closed and her arm down. "The Command Spell is an item of unconditional obedience. I think you've already realized that Servants have their own will, but that mark overrules their will and makes them obey your command. There's no spell needed to activate it, and it will be activated when you put your mind to using it." She tapped her forehead, emphasizing her point. "But you'll lose one for every time you use it, so make sure you only use it twice. If you lose all your Command Spells, you'll be killed, s-"

Taiga interrupted her "Wait, what do mean? I thought that's only what happened when you lost!"

Rin looked at the teacher with an annoyed glare. "It's fundamental in the Holy Grail War for Masters to kill other Masters, regardless that the Command Spells are gone. And the Master that kills the other six Masters is awarded with the Holy Grail."

"What…?" Shirou still couldn't understand why people had to die. 'And now all this about a prize being a holy gr-... Wait, does she mean THE Holy Grail?'

The Tohsaka heir had an air of superiority as she looked at the confused redhead. Flipping a pigtail with her arm, she clarified. "You still don't understand? To put it simply, you've been dragged into a game. A survival game between the seven Masters, a game called the Holy Grail War. A battle royale between the Masters that won't end until you kill all other Masters."

The way Rin said it, you'd think a secret magical tournament with battles to the death was the most natural thing in the world.

Taiga suddenly slams her hands on the table. "How can you say that!" She shouts in a rage. Her fists curl into fists as she glowers at the younger girl, and Shirou could almost see a snarling tiger superimposed over the teacher. "These are people's lives! How can you call something like this a game!" Along with the fire that could be seen in her eyes, it was perfectly clear why she was feared as the "Tiger of Fuyuki".

It was surprisingly Shirou who answered her. In a calm, if slightly strained, voice he tells her "Because as much as I don't like it Fuji-nee, Dad told me something I won't ever forget." He then looks down at his lap, and in a quieter voice continues. "'To be a magus is to walk with death'. Death is just another part of our lives..."

Taiga could stare at the boy in disbelief. "Shirou?" came out the weak whisper from trembling lips, barely believing that he was essentially siding with Rin. Then her eyes widened as the teacher realized something else about what Shirou said. "Wait... Kiritsugu too..." Her fisted hands, still on the table, were visibly trembling as Taiga tried to process her thoughts.

Shirou, having never seeing his guardian act this way, is at a loss of what to do. "Fuji-nee?" he calls softly to her, while slowly moving his hand to take one of hers. But before either the two students could do anything, the brunette woman barrels out of the room.

"Fuji-nee!" Shirou yells out to her. But as he stands to run after the teacher, Rin's voice stops him.

"Let her go Emiya-kun." The female magus tells him calmly. The Tohsaka heir let out a small sigh before continuing. "I can't honestly say I'm surprised she reacted this way. Let Fujimura-Sensei come to terms with this on her own."

Shirou's response was nearly manic. "But we can't just leave her out there by herself! You both just said that people die in this War thing!" he practically yelled.

"Shirou." called Saber. She had been silent throughout the explanation, believing that the Master of Archer would give her informal Master all the information he would need for the future. "As much as the thought disgusts me." She couldn't stop the small scowl that broke through her cool mask. "The pirate seems to have some sense of loyalty, however small it is."

The panicking redhead looked to where he had last seen Rider, only to find him and one of the two bottles of rum missing. In the back of his mind, he noted that this was most likely because the one that he took probably still had rum in it. "Where..."

"Rider-san followed after Sensei." Rin explained, looking and sounding unaffected by Taiga's outburst and exit. "He won't let anything happen to her, Emiya-kun. Now sit back down, there's sill a lot that I have to tell you." she told him, gesturing with her hand to where he had been sitting.

"But..." Shirou was reluctant to let Taiga wander the streets, even if she was safe with the pirate with her. He knew Rider was similar to Saber in some way, that he was some sort of 'Servant', but it just didn't sit right with the boy.

So not knowing what else to do, Shirou decided to sit back down and listen to Rin finish her explanation. 'I need all the information I can if I'm really a part of this "Holy Grail War"', thought the redhead. He briefly thought of Rider, calling up what little he knew of the man. 'Tohsaka is right, Fuji-nee will be alright. I can find her later and fill her in.'

It was a sound and logical decision, compared to running out into the figurative unknown with little information and where new enemies could be waiting around the corner.

And when has logic ever let anyone down?


It would be some time until Taiga stopped running, the turmoil pushing her forward, running her body ragged. So as she was bent over with hands on her knees and taking in steady breathes, the young woman looked up to see where her body had taken her. The sight managed to pull out an amused snort out of her. 'I guess my body went on autopilot.'

She had ran to Homurahara Gakuen. It was the private high school that she taught English at, and the same school that Shirou and Rin attended.

That brought her thoughts back to why she had ran in the first place. "How can they talk of death so casually. Well, Shirou seemed to agree with me a little, but Tohsaka-kun..." She drifted off, not quite able to find the words to finish. Taiga stood up and walked through the gates of the school as she thought, not thinking about why the gates would be open this late at night.

The teacher thought of the biggest shock of the night, maybe even her life. 'Magic is real...' Taiga was still trying to wrap her head around that. It was even harder knowing that not only had Shirou and Rin could use magic, but so had Kiritsugu. 'Who else that I know can use magic?' It was surreal, knowing that there was a whole other side to the world that was kept secret. 'I wonder if this is what Harry Potter felt like?' thought the brunette about one of her favorite books as a teen, and still one of her favorites.

She was facing the side of the archery range now, her mind going from one thought to another with no real thinking involved. Finally, she sighed and spoke. "I suppose I should head back now."

"Finally finished then?" asked Rider, suddenly right next to her.

"WWAAAAAHHHHHHH!" screamed Taiga, jumping away from the pirate. She brought up one hand clenched and trembling in fright while the other was pointing at him, but likewise trembling. "W-w-when did you get here!" the teacher asked loudly.

Rider was cleaning the ear she practically yelled in with his pinkie. Flicking off the bit of gunk that had stuck, the spirit gave his Master a deadpan rebuttal "Anyone ever tell you you scream louder than a banshee?"

The young woman makes an indiscernible sound as her head lowers and shoulders shake. Rider cringes at the sight.

"Er, sorry?" Not seeing any change, other than Taiga's fists now trembling, the pirate continues. "Look, um, please don't go cryin' on me. I..."

Rider lets his apology trail off seeing his Master slowly bring up one of her still trembling fists near her lowered head, 'What's that bulgin' on 'er hand?'. Her head suddenly lifts up, and the pirate realizes that her trembling wasn't because of sorrow, but of rage.

Taiga's eyes are wide and all would be able to see the depths of her anger. Her mouth is held in a snarl, resembling a tiger's far too well. Rider can now hear the woman's growling, which was still getting louder, and can only think of one thing to say.

Putting his hands up in surrender, he asks "Uh, parley?" nervously, cracking an awkward smile.

Taiga's eyes seem to flash before she gives her immediate answer. "Grrrrrrrrrr..." Then with an enraged roar yells "DIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEE!" while launching herself at the pirate, rearing her fist back for a punch. And just as her punch was about to land...

So many things happen in that moment. Rider's head snaps to the left with eyes wide. The rattling of a chain. Then a sound that the brunette was quite familiar with, the 'swoosh' of a blade as it passed through the air.

Before Taiga could blink, Rider had pushed her to the ground just as she felt something graze the edges of her hair. After the Master and Champion pair stopped tumbling, with Rider on top of Taiga, the man quickly takes out his old pistol, which allowed the teacher to have her first good look at the firearm.

She was a surprised. Due to her grandfather's "business", Taiga was very familiar with firearms. She had expected Rider's pistol would use a flintlock system since he was a pirate, long before the advancement of automatic weapons. But the evidence was right in front of her, for in Rider's hand was a pistol that had no flintlock mechanism. There was also a square bulge attached the left side of the bright red chassis of the gun. The barrel and what Taiga could only assume held the recoil rod and spring were a burnt brown color. There was no front sight, only a rear one made of the same metal as the barrel. Wrapped around the the chassis of the of the pistol and forming a finger guard around the trigger was what appeared to be gold, the metal forming a dragon's head where it meets the barrel on either side. Finally, the handle was made from a dark, lacquered wood, the butt of which was pointed and looked like a crown. The rest of the handle had bumps carved into it so as to provide a better grip.

As the pirate trained his pistol on a target Taiga couldn't see, she turned her head to where she and Rider had been. There impaled in the ground was what could only be described as a large metal stake with a handle wrapped in black leather. She also saw the the source of the rattling she had heard; attached to a ring on the butt of the handle was a slack, thick chain. The ring was attached the obtuse pommel of the weapon and had three smaller nails on one side of it with a band of metal cutting through them, forming a misplaced hand-guard. Following the chain with her eyes, she saw it led to the main building.

Three shots of gunfire scream out above Taiga as Rider shoots his target, a shadowed figure on the roof of the main school building. The figure leaps forward and out of the way, performing a few skillful flips to avoid three more shots as they come down next to what had to have been its weapon and into the moonlight, facing the teacher and pirate. As Rider got off his Master, keeping his pistol on the enemy, Taiga likewise gets up and studies the person before them.

The person was a woman, one that seemed to have come right out of a man's fantasies. She had smooth, pale skin and incredibly long hair that just barely touched the ground. The other thing that made it stand out was its light magenta color. She wore a black, strapless leather dress that didn't leave much to the imagination. The skirt of the dress barely covered her and at the top was a purplish band that ran across the woman's breasts. Over the woman's arms were sleeves of the same material and color as the dress that covered the tops of the palms while leaving the rest of the hands uncovered. Wrapped around each of the sleeves are four thick, purplish bands; two bands at the top ends of the sleeves are pressed against each other, a gray four-sided diamond on both of them facing forward; the third bands only a few inches further along the arms and just above the elbows; the fourth and last bands are about twice as large as the others and placed over the wrists. The sleeves came up to the woman's chest, leaving her shoulders bare. The woman wore black leather, thigh-high boots. A similar purplish band as the dress' topped the leg sleeves of the boots and metal armor of the same color that seemed designed to protect the ankles more than anything, given how it wrapped around the front of her feet and ankles. As Taiga's study went up to the mystery woman's face, she saw that around the woman's neck was what appeared to be a dog collar, purplish in color, with a simple belt buckle. The first thing that caught the teacher's eye was the woman's blindfold. Shaped like a visor and the same purple color that the rest of her outfit sported, the blindfold had five eyes stretched out to cover most of the front side, as if to make up for her apparent blindness. One large eye rested in the middle, over which were two metal clasps, while two smaller eyes were on its left and right side. Finally, emblazoned on the woman's forehead was a crimson tattoo that vaguely resembled a "Z" or a backward "S".

The woman had a sensual grace about her, and from how she stood before them knew how she looked and embraced it. Holding the other end of the chain to her weapon, the woman speaks to them. "Good evening." She greets them casually, a slight purr in her voice. As if she hadn't just tried to kill Taiga.

"Good evenin' yourself." Rider is quick to reply, also sounding casual. "Lovely night out, ain't it?" He asks the woman. Despite his tone, he keeps his pistol aimed at her.

"It is." agreed the woman, now sounding pleasant. "But one must watch themselves, given the times." She gives the opposing pair an almost coy smile.

Silence follows the woman's "warning". Neither party moves, waiting for the other to do something. Taiga slowly begins to shake, the realization of just how close to death she had just been crashing down on her. 'If Rider hadn't... if he'd been slower... I'd... I'd.. I'd be... dea-' Her mind suddenly clamped down, not letting her finish the thought. The edges of her vision began to blacken as terror began to creep through her, the teacher's knees beginning to feel weak and her arms subconsciously moving to hug herself.

"Master!" The shout cuts through the quagmire of her emotions. Looking to face the pirate that had shouted, Taiga saw that he hadn't move from his spot and was keeping his attention and pistol on the woman before them.

"Now's not exactly the best time to go losin' yer head, Master. 'Sides which, you've forgotten one very important thing." The man brings up his free hand, pointing out his index finger as he turns his head enough to keep an eye on both woman. A second finger then joins its brother. "Two things actually. The first is that I'm not goin' to let anythin' happen to ya." He then gives Taiga a rakish smile, a smile that floods the teacher with relief. He turns back to look at his opponent, the smile never wavering. "The second thing is as equally important."

"Oh?" the leather-clad woman says. "And what would that be?" she asks, pulling her weapon from the ground. She would be needing it shortly.

"Just this..." A charge could be suddenly felt in the air then, centered around the pirate. Or rather, the pistol in his hand. Just before Rider spoke again, the eyes of the dragon on the pistol flare crimson. The blindfolded woman tenses, both her hands now holding her unique daggers.

The Champion utters two words, pulling the trigger.

Crimson light and a roar fill the yard.


"Hmm?"

Elsewhere in the suburban half of Fuyuki, a girl tilts her head as if hearing something.

"What do mean, 'you feel something familiar'?"

She stands alone on a sidewalk in a empty street. She makes an odd sight given the hour.

"Really? Where?" She asks as the girl turns her head to her left, as if someone was there beside her. But as anyone would tell you if they were look at the girl, she was alone.

With the excited shout of "Then let's go!" the girl runs off.


It hadn't been long after Taiga had left that Rin had finished explaining what she knew of the Holy Grail War. The female magus had then suggested that they go to the church on the other side of the city, since the priest there was the moderator for the war, and so that Shirou could register his presence as a Master and ask any other questions he might have.

The red-head had initially refused, but Saber convinced her Master to go, siting that he had little experience. Unfortunately, Saber revealed that she was not fully formed, meaning that she could not astralize and become invisible to all but her Master. Shirou solved this by giving her a large, yellow raincoat to disguise her armor. So after crossing the Fuyuki Bridge and entering Shinto, the urban half of Fuyuki, they traversed the hill that the Kotomine Church sat atop.

The priest, Kotomine Kirei, was an intimidating man. Towering over Rin and Shirou at 6'1", he cut an intimidating figure with his black, bishop's uniform and dark purple, close to black, coat. The brown-haired priest, after confirming that Shirou had indeed summoned Saber, began a more in-depth explanation of what exactly the Holy Grail War was. Rin mostly tuned him out, having decided she knew enough about the War. That, and 'That fake priest's voice grates on my nerves.'

But then the Heir of Tohsaka caught something that made Kotomine the focus of her attention. "Wait, what did you just say?" she asked.

The priest shifted his blank, brown eyes to the girl, but otherwise didn't move. "I said, 'At least that is how it should normally happen.'" the priest told her, his voice, monotone as it was, carrying out throughout the empty chapel hall.

Rin glared at the man. "WHAT, exactly?" Shirou felt a shiver down his spine that had nothing at all to do with his magecraft, as Rin's contained anger for the priest washed over him.

Kirei, on the other hand, smiled at the girl's display. The smile had no feeling to it at all though; it was merely a movement of muscle. "The selection of Masters and the Servants' summonings. Were you not listening?" The man gave a small shake of his head. "I thought I taught you better than that."

Rin barely held in a growl of annoyance, her patience with the man rapidly wearing thin. "Just tell me already, you fake priest!" the girl demanded loudly, just a degree under yelling.

Kirei gives a small nod of his head, his lips setting into a line before closing his eyes. "Very well, I shall say it again." He opens them before continuing, looking at both magi. "The Holy Grail decides the seven Masters and summons the seven Servants. The Holy Grail chooses people suitable to obtain it, and selects its appropriate owner by making them fight for it. At least that is how it should normally happen." He pauses and looks to Rin, to see if she'd like to say something. Seeing her match his gaze with a glare, he continues. "But it would seem that this War shall be different, other than it occurring early. Perhaps this newest change is because of that?"

"Would you get to the point already?" Rin barks, crossing her arms.

"For whatever reason, the Holy Grail has seen fit to allow seven more magi to become Masters."

The chapel is silent for nearly a minute after this declaration. Shirou was silent because he was already out of his depth, thus this latest reveal didn't affect him that much. Rin because she was utterly shocked at the news, and what it could mean for her plans. And the priest kept silent to allow the children before him to digest the news.

Finally, Rin came out of her stupor. "But that would mean..." She trailed off, not wanting to voice her fears.

"Yes." Kirei gave a small nod. "The Fifth Holy Grail War shall have fourteen Masters. Thus, fourteen legendary souls have been summoned to fight for them. Two of each class; seven Servants... and seven Champions."

Another bout of silence follows, though Shirou's memory is sparked at the word 'Champions'.

"So lassy, your Champion Rider asks. Are you my Master?"

'That pirate, Rider, said he was a Champion. Yet Saber said she was a Servant. What is the difference?' the boy questioned himself. He was about to ask the question aloud, but Rin beat him to the punch.

"What?" The question is flat, devoid of any kind of inflection whatsoever. When Shirou turned to look at the girl he saw that one of her eyebrows was actually twitching and her hands were clinched into tight fists.

"It surprised me as well. The Grail has imparted to me only the knowledge that there were to be seven other Masters and these Champions. I do not know why these heroes have been given a different title, only that they are different in some way and that they follow the Class system we are familiar with..."

"Why didn't you tell me this before!" This time Rin did yell.

"You never returned my phone calls."

The rest of the conversation blurred by for Shirou. His only true input being when he agreed to fight in the War. So before Shirou knew it he, Saber, and Rin were near the intersection in the suburban side of town that they would have to separate at. They had been silent the entire way as well. Rin had looked pensive the entire trip, and it was obvious to even Shirou that she was rethinking her plans for the War. And it was she who would break their silence.

Rin suddenly stops walking and turns to face the red-headed boy, said boy and his badly disguised Servant stopping as well. "Emiya-kun." The female magus started. "It might be in all our best interests, Fujimura-sensei's too, to form an alliance." She says it as if she had admitted something awful, no doubt her pride was suffering just by the idea of needing help.

"And why would that be, magus?" Saber asks in cold elegance. She obviously didn't trust the other girl.

Rin doesn't looked all that surprised, and when she speaks it's in her normal tone. "The short of it is that this Holy Grail War is different. There are seven extra Masters and Servants. Fujimua-sensei and Rider-san are proof of that."

The only indication that Saber was affected by the news was the slight widening of her eyes.

Rin continues on, not waiting for the blonde swordwoman to respond. "I mean, it's simple tactics. When the enemy is of a greater force, you consolidate available resources. Our chances would only be better as a team; three Servants are better than one."

As Shirou tries to process that Rin Tohsaka, school idol, asked for his help, his Servant's voice breaks through the sludge his thoughts had become.

"Master, is what this girl says true?" Saber asks, her tone grim.

Shirou's head jerks to the girl. Lamely he replies. "Um, yeah. That priest at the church told us both that." Then he mutters, "Something about Champions too."

Saber nods. "I see. Very well then, it would seem that forming an alliance would be the best option then, Master." She informs the boy.

Before Shirou can answer, Rin interrupts. "See? Even your Servant thinks this would be good idea, So what do you say?" She asks.

Shirou seriously thinks over the idea. 'I can't really see a reason not to do this. I'm not that great a magus and Fuji-nee is just an ordinary person. And if that spell Tohsaka used earlier is any indication, she a really powerful magus.' It was only a moment more before Shirou came to a decision.

"Okay. I don't want to be enemies with you if I can help it. I like people like you."

The magus in schoolgirl's clothing suddenly stills and has her eyes go wide after that statement. Then Rin gets a hold of herself, her face flustered and tinted the palest pink.

With narrowed eyes Rin asks Shirou, "Wha-".

But the rest of her question dies when a mighty roar sounds off in the distance, rolling across them like a clap of thunder. A roar that spoke of power and majesty; of legends gone by. Rin and Shirou could not tell what could have made such a sound, but Saber's blue eyes once again go wide as her jaw clenches.

'Impossible!' She thought, her shock warring with a small pattering of fear. 'In this day and age?'

The three of them stayed silent for a few moments, waiting to see if they would hear anything else. Shirou broke the silence, a slight stutter in his voice.

"W-what was that?" he asked.

"I'm not sure..." answered Rin, a pensive look on her face. Looking to her allies, she saw that a grim familiarity had settled over the blonde Servant. "But it would seem Saber-san does."

When Shirou turned to look at her, Saber nodded her head. "I do. Tha-" She stops mid-sentence, just as pain flares up in Shirou's left hand and Rin's right.

A child's voice speaks out, "Aren't you finished talking yet?"


Taiga had just barely enough time to shield her eyes and ears before the flash and roar. But whatever Rider had done ignored her feeble attempts. The light had pierced through her eyelids like a sun, scalding the eyes beneath with crimson. The roar had had a greater effect. That almighty sound had ripped through her very being, making her feel like some small creature before a great predator.

But she had managed to catch a glimpse of something before closing her eyes, and the roar that had torn through her being only confirmed what she had seen. A head of a great beast had formed around her Champion's pistol. Reptilian, but grander than any example alive today. Jagged yet elegant horns formed out the back of the crown of its head, curving out and back behind it, while spines grew from the back of the creature's jaws. Its snout was narrowed, its chin sporting two small spikes and the top of its nose and upper lip were pointed into horns.

There was only one thing it could have been, one majestic and terrifying creature that was known to all people.

A dragon.

As she opened her eyes, it was obvious that the light had affected her vision. Everything had a red tint to it, and even then most everything was either a blur or blob. Noises were easier to identify, with the incessant ringing in her ears dieing down. And what she could hear did not bode well.

The clashes of steel, the bangs of gunfire. Grunts of exertion and gasping breathes.

Rider was still fighting that weird woman.

"Is that all you got missy? Because if it is, you don't stand too much of a chance!" yelled Rider just before another shot rang out across the grounds. "I can do this all night!"

A barely heard chuckle came some distance away, "I will enjoy seeing if you can back that claim."

The pirate had deigned not to stray too far from his Master, in case the purple-haired siren tried to take another pot shot at the defenseless teacher. Using his pistol to keep her at range, he deflected the woman's daggers with his own blade.

"Not to rush you or anything Master, but I would greatly appreciate it if you would WAKE UP!"

Taiga jumped at the yelled part of Rider's shout, a small yelp of surprise escaping her lips before sputtering, "Well, don't do that dragon thing when I'm so close next time!" she yelled indignantly as she struggled to stand.

"Ah, she awakes! Enjoy our nap did we?" He asks wryly, sparing a moment to look at her as he deflects another strike of the enemy Servant's daggers and forcing her back with a shot.

"No, I didn't!" Taiga replied, still indignant.

Rider would have said something witty then, if not the purple-haired woman decided it was an opportune moment to attack. She darted forward covering about half the distance between her and the teacher and pirate before Rider began shooting again.

"Not so fast!" Rider shouted as he fired. The enemy dodged right, still running for them. The man fired again at her, but then she dodged left. "Why-" Pt-taff! Dodge to the right. "don't-" Pt-taff! Ka-tang! A dagger deflects the bullet. "you-" Pt-taff! Roll to the left. "stay-" Another shot went off with out hitting its target. The enemy Servant was nearly on top of him when he made a hasty decision.

And in the moment between seconds that would determine this encounter, luck became the prime factor between these supernatural warriors.

But that was something the pirate had in spades.

The world bled to black as time lost meaning. Shapes lost dimension and depth as everything was reduced to gray lines against the black background. Finally, specks of white stood out like stars across all Rider could see; most were covering the nail-wielding woman, some were on him, and then there were a few on his Master and spread intermittently across the field they were on.

Looking over all the specks of light, Rider chose.

As if nothing had happened, the world regained its color, and everything looked as it was.

Rider took a step forward...

...and tripped on air. He shuffled to the left, trying to regain his balance as the woman sped the other way, hoping to bypass him altogether and eliminate Taiga.

The teacher felt the beginnings of a scream in her throat as she saw her only line of defense fall over.

The woman began to pull her arm back to throw her dagger.

Rider turned with the stumble, awkwardly shuffling and throwing out his arms, and began to tighten his finger on the trigger.

And then as he tumbled again, his body still turning, Rider straitened out his gun arm. And so as the purple-haired Servant began to pass him, the barrel of the pistol lined up right on the center of the woman's blindfold, only a foot away.

"STILL!" He pulled the trigger.

A bang that was somewhere between the gun's usual discharge and a dragon's rumbling sounded off as the prana charged bullet flew out the barrel of the gun, and made contact with the top buckle of the enemy's blindfold.

The woman's head flew back with the force, the rest of her body following as it was launched into the wall of the closest building 20 feet away.

Rider managed to plant his feet solidly under him as he took a few welcome breathes, keeping his pistol trained on the dust cloud that had come up over the school's newest entrance.

Taiga's scream died a quiet death in her throat as she stared wide-eyed at the pirate. "Rider..."

"You alright, Master?" he asked, sparing a moment to look her over. Quickly he positioned himself between Taiga and the downed Servant, not wanting to take chances.

The English teacher nodded her head. "Y-yeah." she answered, a warble in her voice.

"What? Don't tell me you weren' sure there, oh ye of little faith." The pirate gave a roguish grin before turning back to the now settling dust, "I had it all taken care of."

And as if that were a signal, Rider froze up.

"Hnngh!" the pirate grunted, his body locked up and tense. His pistol was now glowing bright crimson.

"Rider!" Taiga cried as she ran up to see what was wrong.

"N-No!" barked the frozen champion and his Master halted. "Stay completely behind me!"

"W-Why?" Taiga fearfully asked.

"Because she'll turn you to stone!"

The teacher dumbly examines Champion, not truly comprehending what she had just been told.

A gasp escapes her throat at what her eyes see, but what she can scarcely believe. 'Stone...' His feet to halfway up his shins were now rock, while the one arm she could see at his side was stone up to his elbow. And it was all slowly spreading.

A light chuckle then came up from the hole as the purple-haired Servant calmly walked out of the remaining airborne dust. Taiga quickly huddles and for the first time Rider could see her eyes.

They were larger than a normal human's eyes and seemed themselves frozen open. The pupils were square and the iris' a very pale amethyst, leading to the appearance of crystals.

"I did not think I would have to use this so soon." the Servant stated calmly. "But it really is your own fault. You damaged Breaker Gorgon with that last shot." The woman pauses for a moment, looking over the pirate.

"And it seems you also know who I am now, yet your own confuses me..." She admitted, taking in the petrifying pirate's appearance.

"Not that hard really." confessed the pirate. "Only ever one woman that could turn people to stone with just a look." Rider grunts in discomfort as more of his body turns to stone. "Though it helps that I met your sisters on the Shapeless Isle."

Huddled behind her Champion, Taiga's eyes widen as she realizes who the woman is. "Rider... you mean she's..." she trails off, not able to voice it. 'Medusa...'

The Servant suddenly stops her advance, twenty meters away, hands clenching tightly. They are the only signs she's affected by the information.

"You lie. My sister's are dead..."

"On the contrary, after that little scuffle of yours with Perseus, your sisters crawled out of your corpse."

"I refuse to believe you!" the woman, Medusa, shouts with anger in her voice. "I devoured them, and I hate myself for it..." she said, quieter.

It was quiet as the magenta-haired woman wrestled with the emotions brought up. Rider continued trying to budge, to do something that could get him and his Master out of this. 'Not much from the look of it. Should be glad I activated the Dragon's other effect when I did, or the lass would have already been stone.'

Said 'lass' was trying to think of what she could do. But it was hard considering the outright terror she felt knowing that an actual monster was before her and she her only defense was slowly but surely losing.

"Now," she began, calm once more, "your Master calls you Rider. I know this to be false, for I am the Servant Rider of this War."

"First time for everything, right?" The Champion asks glibly, smiling. The smile turns to grimace as more of his body petrifies, now more than half of his body stone. 'Arrogant wench 'as lined herself up for me. Now if only I could just pull the damn trigger! Come on!'

Quiet once again fills the schoolyard as Medusa waits for any other answer. The Servant Rider sighs after waiting long enough. "Fine then, it matters not. You and your Master will be dead soon." She raises her hand, a dagger materializing in her grasp. She lifts her arm to throw it. "Goodbye."

Her counterpart grunts as he struggles to pull a trigger with a finger that could no longer move.

The teacher's own thoughts were racing. 'Am I really going to die? Is this really how it ends?' She asks herself, waiting for the inevitable. Dread and fear consumes her as the reality of the situation becomes ever more clear. She chances a look over her Rider's shoulder, sees the raised dagger and freezes in fear as the Servant woman seems to loom before her like the shinigami. Her life was forfeit, and her death assured. The first casualty of war.

And as she succumbed to the inevitable, her life flashes before her. Her early life with her parents; her mother helping her practice kendo, even giving Taiga her lucky kendo sword; attending her parents' funeral, Grandfather and his 'family' offering support; taking her rage and sorrow at the world out on her kendo opponents; meeting Kiristugu and... Shirou.

Her memories of the boy that was her little brother in all but blood surged through her. When she baby-sat, the meals they shared, their time in school. It all came to her now, and the fire that had slowly been dieing in her roared.

Her reason for fighting was clear, why she couldn't die here. 'No! I can't let him do this alone! I swore to Kiritsugu-san I'd watch over him and protect him! The same goes for Tohsaka-san! They may know more about this magic stuff, but I am their teacher! It is my responsibility to guide them and protect them, no matter what!'

Taiga shuts her eyes, tears not of pain or sorrow, but determination gathering, and cries out with all her being! Just as the dagger is let loose!

"WIN RIDER!"

And just like that, Taiga's wish is granted.

Red light flashes from her right arm, the covered Command Spells reacting to her command. The stone that had been the pirate's hand shatters, leaving behind dusty skin and cloth. Rider roars out the name of his Noble Phantasm.

"RED DRAGON!"

The crimson dragon leaps from the gun, bathing everything in the vicinity with crimson light as it engulfs the thrown dagger. The wide-eyed gorgon quickly takes her remaining dagger and slashes her neck, a seal made of her own blood beginning to crackle with white lightning before her in the next second.

The dragon meets it with a roar.


It was hard to believe so much had happened in such a small amount of time. But that was what happened in a battle between beings of the supernatural.

Introducing herself briefly with a curtsey of her purple coat and dress and her name, Illyasviel von Eienzbern ordered for her Servant, Berserker, to attack. His own Servant quickly lets out a warning to her Master before rushing to meet the black giant, tossing the raincoat that obscured her form. In the space between seconds the giant was before them and the small girl ready to meet him.

Swords were swung and met.

In the vast sea of possibilities that was the Kaleidoscope, Saber would usually cross blades with Berserker this night while suffering from the wound given to her by Lancer's Gae Bolg, leaving her quite weakened. In most she is repelled and given further grievous wounds, leading her Master to leap in the way of the black monster's finishing blow to save her. In others she is assisted by the Archer of this War, providing her with enough support to out-maneuver Berserker and fight him with favorable odds.

But tonight, it was different. There would be no support from the Archer this night. The most important difference though, was that tonight she was uninjured and had expended little of her own power.

"Fuh...!"

So while she was pushed back by the power of Berserker's strike, she was hardly as winded as she could have been and leaped back into the fray.

"UWOOOH!"

"RAAAOOO!"

Magical power saturating her body and empowering her every strike, the petite Saber matched the giant Berserker blow for blow, wind literally leaping from her blade.

The Master's witnessing this battle stand awed as a small girl matches Heracles, the greatest Greek hero in history.

After but a few seconds of furious melee the black giant roars in mad rage as he gives a mighty swing, flinging the smaller Servant away. Saber lands on her feet and slides on the asphalt, winded little by the blow. Berserker charges at his enemy, intent on crushing her with his raised weapon.

"RRAAAAOOOOO!"

"Guh…!"

But Saber blocks again, and a whirlwind of slashes and dodges further destroys the street they are on. A moment later and Saber is once again flung away, but is again little worse for the wear.

'This man is truly formidable, if what the enemy Master said was true.' thought Saber as she met Berserker, blade to blade, again. 'The Mad Enhancement has certainly made him powerful. But I need a plan. While I may hold him off here, I will tire soon if this goes on much longer.' And so the Servant thought it out in her mind as she dodged the mad warrior's attacks, throwing in her own when needed. 'Perhaps if there were obstructions, the battle would tip in my favor. The graveyard we passed?' She was already fairly close to it, she only needed to lure the mad Servant to it. Leaping back after a flurry to stall the giant, she prepared to have him launch her to the graveyard.

The giant was halfway to her as she braced for the blow to come.

RRROOOOOOOAAAAAAARRR

The area is blanketed by the roar. It was the same as before, only different that now it was as if the beast was right on top of them. Berserker halts and twists to face the new danger, but finds nothing.

Saber realizes this is her chance to end this, her enemy distracted with a false threat. As she thinks of a way to cross the meters still between them, a memory of a different battle comes to her mind. A battle between herself and a man wielding two spears...

Saber dematerializes her armor, leaving her in a royal blue gown, as she shifts her invisible blade to face behind her. 'Less air resistance...' she reminds herself, preparing for the attack. The wind covering her blade unfurls, golden light shining as a small portion of her sword is revealed. She had only one shot.

The furious wind behind her unleashes itself like a typhoon, propelling her toward Berserker faster than what even most Servants could track.

But Heracles was not most Servants, as the hero's senses, while consumed with the madness that defined his Class, screamed at him of the danger.

Berserker turned fully to face the girl, his arm already reared for a back handed swing as the accelerated Servant was just within striking range.

The stone weapon came down.

And missed, as Saber ducked under it, cutting of the airflow to turn her blade around to face the giant.

She lunged.

...

...

...

The magi watched on, awed, as the most outstanding of the Servants impaled the strongest through the heart.

The black giant is pushed onto his back by Saber's momentum. As she stands a top him, she pulls the once again invisible blade from the corpse.

"It is over, surrender." she speaks to the enemy Master as she steps off the dead body.

But the girl, who's ivory skin and silver hair glows in the moonlight, looks on with that same maliciousness as before in her crimson eyes, smiling at them.

"Hee-hee, I don't think so~!"

Before any of them can understand why the young girl is cheerful, a black blur smacks into the blonde Servant. She flies through the air then lands, tumbling and rolling on the ground as she is knocked back to Shirou and Rin.

"Saber!" Shirou cries out, running up to his Servant.

But he pauses when she yells out to him. "St-stay back Shirou!" Taking in ragged breaths she slowly gets on her knees, using her sword as a crutch.

The blur is revealed to be a great big arm, a protrusion coming out of the elbow revealing just who it belonged to.

Berserker growls as he stands back up, the wound through his heart gone.

"I'm surprised Onii-chan! I didn't expect any Servant summoned would be able to take one of Berserker's lives!" Illya exclaimed, a bite in her innocent tone.

"L-lives..? As in more than one?" Rin mumbles horrified at the prospect.

"Yep! I wonder who Saber is, being able to do that?" the little girl ponders it for a minute before giving up. "Oh well, it's not like it matters. You'll all be dead soon. Berserker, crush them!"

The black giant rushes to blonde girl, sword lifted to make the last swing.

But at the same moment Shirou determines that this blow would kill Saber, and does what comes naturally.

He saves her, leaping in front of her and taking the hit. His existence becomes nothing but pain, his vision blackening.

"MASTER!"

"Emiya-kun!"

"Onii-chan..."

And then nothing.


"Huh... huh..."

Standing before a great furrow in the ground, Rider took heaving breaths. Keeping the Red Dragon up, he scanned the school field, determining what his senses told him.

Medusa was no where in sight or close enough to sense, so she had either been killed, or reverted to her spirit form. Ans as much as Rider would have liked to believe that the gorgon was once again history, he had a feeling she was too slippery for that. He had felt her built up something before she was hit, and he was more than willing to bet that it diverted enough of the blast to escape.

But what ever she had done must have drained her near completely, given the amount of power he felt. So he slipped the pistol into his sash, relaxing.

"Hoo boy, goin' to need the good stuff to cover this. And a lot of it..." exclaimed the pirate. He was exhausted, the only thing saving him was probably his Independent Action. After using two Red Dragon blasts, a number of empowered shots, and then its defensive ability on something so potent...

The Red Dragon had two main abilities that stemmed from the legends that its shots were as strong and as fast as a swooping dragon, and that its owner would have the protection of a dragon's hide. The first being its attack of firing a dragon's head of prana at the target. A step down from that was simply empowered bullets and a firing velocity that would put today's .50 caliber to shame. The second had to be activated, and gave the Red Dragon's bearer the physical and magical defensive abilities of a dragon. But this ability had a very high prana cost, three times its attack, that had to be maintained for as long as it was active.

He turned to his Master, only to find her unconscious. A chuckle escaped his lips, "What am I goin' to do with you, lass? Can't always be havin' you faint when I do that. But considerin' that this was probably yer first life n' death struggle, I'll give ya some slack." He bent down and picked her up. "Now... where was that kid's-"

He didn't get to finish as he felt his senses inform him of two new presences entering the area. One was a similar to 'frowny girl', a magus. The other worried him, more so than Medusa had. It was just like him.

A Champion.

And with little time to do more than draw his pistol, they were here.

"SENSEI!" cried the girl as she saw who he was holding.

'Well, small world.' thought Rider.

"Archer, take him out!"

'Crap...'


END


Tiger Dojo!

Taiga: Hello everyone! And welcome to the newest incarnation of the Tiger Dojo! The place where we'll address some questions from reviewers and explain some things. As you well know, I am the Sensei of this dojo! As this is the first Dojo session we have only one question to answer. Senior student! What is that question?

Illya: Sensei, it is "When will you update?". It is because the author hasn't updated in half a year!

Taiga: Correct! And for that, the author himself has left a note!

Hello, my readers! All I can hope is that you don't try to find me to kill me for the long wait. Honestly, I don't particularly like how this chapter panned out, but I had to get it out. For those of you who are wondering "Farmer, why are you updating this instead of Left Hand?", I will say that Champions has had better luck writing it despite my somewhat dislike of this chapter. Likewise, I want the next chapter of Left Hand be something that I'm satisfied with and know that you'll enjoy. It is my bread-winner after all. Not to say I don't put in as much effort here, just that Left Hand is MUCH more popular among the Net. Personally I think I just struck out at the right moment, what with FoZ crossover fever still strong with The Hill of Swords. And shout-outs from my friends Corvus no Genmu and Tirfarthuan(Though he was promoting Psynergy, I believe). You'll also notice that I've given this a cover! Not the best, but I've never had much talent with computer art. Anyway, here is Chapter 2 and Champion Rider's and Taiga's first battle! Hope you enjoy!

Illya: Sensei, does the author not care about us?

Taiga: Insolence! {Head Strike} We will not be having that kind of talk!

Illya, with bump on her head: Hai... Sensei.

Taiga: Now, while Farmer-san said he was dissatisfied with this chapter, that does not mean he didn't put in a lot of time and care into it! It is just that sometimes, it is you yourself that is the harshest critic!

Illya: But what if everyone else agrees?

Taiga: Then Farmer-san was more correct in his assumption! Perhaps it was a feeling of obligation to post that caused this?

Illya: Only Farmer-san knows! But now, Farmer-san has a question for the readers.

Taiga: Yes, he would like to know if perhaps you would all like to see Champion stats and Noble Phantasms as they come about at the end of the chapters. Like how they appear in the original material, which we would like to remind everyone Farmer-san does not own in any way.

Illya: And to help you decide, we have an example!

Champion Rider
Identity: ?
Master: Taiga Fujimura

Stats
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Strength: C
Mana: D
Endurance: B
Agility: B
Luck: EX
Noble Phantasm: A

Class Skills
Riding: A
Magic Resistance: D

Personal Skills:
Independent Action: A+

?: ?
?: ?

Noble Phantasms:
?: ?

?: Support Unknown - Somehow involves alcohol
Red Dragon: Anti-Unit B

An already legendary pistol, Rider added to it after he "found" it in one of his many adventures. Stronger, faster, and more advanced than any other pistol of the time, legends of the Red Dragon began once again as Rider used it around the world. Clues to its origins point to Britain. The legends surrounding the Red Dragon state that a shot from this pistol had the same stopping power as a charging dragon and that its rate of fire is as fast as a dragon in flight. Legend also says that the wielder of this powerful pistol is as impervious to harm as a dragon's scales.

As a Noble Phantasm, these legends become true. Once invoked, the Red Dragon can fire a destructive blast of magical energy in the shape of a dragon's head whenever prana is poured into the weapon, while passively all shots consume a small bit of prana and are stronger. Also, Rider gains a huge boost in defensive power, able to take most attacks head-on while suffering little to no damage. Unfortunately, this defensive boost costs high amounts of power when actively used, so Rider tends to dodge more than anything as to save energy.

?: Support EX - Involves probability in some way. A Luck check must be passed to succeed.

Taiga: And there you have it! My incredible Rider is so much more cooler than Medusa!

Illya: So how is it to be part of the action for once Sensei?

Taiga: Incredibly scary, but I must continue on!

Illya: Next time on Champions Route! The aftermath of that fateful night, meeting the Master and her Champion Archer, a rivalry forms, and yet another new Master and Champion enter the picture!

Taiga: All this in Chapter 3: Aftermath of the Night of Fate or The Plot Thickens!

Illya: And we'll see you in the next installment of Tiger Dojo.

Taiga: So review, that we might answer your questions!