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How I Saved History (Fate/Grand Order SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Charles Flynn, Apr 22, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter One
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    You know, when I accepted the somewhat vague job offer from this Chaldea place, I wasn't exactly expecting it to be in Antarctica. Or to be run by wizards. I mean, sure they call themselves "mages" but they're basically wizards. Still, what kept me on after the whole "magic is real, and most of its practitioners will cheerfully vivisect you if they think it'll help them even slightly" thing was the brief, tantalizing mention of Servants.

    I mean, what fan of mythology and heroes in general could pass up the chance to meet their heroes? I honestly can't wait!

    And so, here I was, sitting through the security clearing process. Also, apparently I'm Lawful Neutral. Good to know.



    So, after a brief simulator session to acclimate me to the proper role of the master, which is apparently just sitting back and being useless while occasionally tossing out micromanagerial commands, I was sent on my merry way to find the conference room.

    The halls were white and stark. Fairly futuristic aesthetic. Also, there were no room labels. Or directions. And so, my heart filled with a sort of resigned irritation, I resolved to familiarize myself with my new environment by getting thoroughly lost in it.

    About thirty minutes in, I was still thoroughly lost, and had no idea where the conference room was. And so, with a heavy heart and wounded pride, I resigned myself to asking for directions from the next person I met.

    Oh, right, there were people there, too, I guess. I mostly ignored them and pretended I knew where I was going.

    So, first person I meet. Right, there's a likely subject! She seems nice and why is her hair purple? Or... lilac, I guess. She probably dyes it, but it's not exactly a go-to hair color for people to dye to. Usually people that dye their hair pick more vivid colors. Maybe she really likes the color?

    "Fou!"

    My musings upon the hair color of the cute girl that I have been staring intently at for a probably-creepy amount of time are interrupted by a fluffy white... mammal? that is staring at me.

    "Fou likes you, senpai!" Lilac Girl informs me in a sickeningly cheerful manner.

    "I started today, actually," I blurt out automatically. Curse you mouth, why must you always fail me?

    "What?"

    "I started today. So, the term Senpai doesn't apply to me. You probably have seniority. Also, are you Japanese? Because "senpai" is a Japanese term, and, no offense, but you really don't look it." Wait, dyed hair, looks Caucasian, and tosses in gratuitous japanese for no reason? Goddamnit, she's a weeb. Can wizards be weebs? Heh. 'Weebzards.' Wait, no, think of Mom, don't be rude, remember your manners, introduce yourself. "I'm Charlie, by the way."

    "I'm Mash! Mash Kyrielight. And yes, you're my Senpai. Everyone is my Senpai." She smiles as she says this. I'm leaft with the overwhelming urge to pat her on the head. Also, 'Everyone is my Senpai?' Well that's fucking ominous.

    "So, I was told to go to the conference room, but I don't actually know where that is," right, follow with sheepish grin, and hand behind my head, try to make the blatant incompetence endearing. It's never worked before, but hope springs eternal. "Could you maybe give me directions?"

    "Oh, no, actually, the Director sent me to find you to tell you not to bother coming."

    "Pardon?"

    "The meeting started fifteen minutes ago. The Director told me to also tell you that once their deployment's done, you're fired." She gives me an apologetic look.

    Well, shit. Right, handle it with dignity. Dignity. Dignity! Walk it off, act like it's nothing, and for the love of God, don't cry!

    "Well, that's... disheartening." Don'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcry. "But, really, I'm sorry to have made you go through so much trouble. I'm sure you must have missed quite a bit of the meeting tracking me down."

    "Oh, no, the meeting room is just around the corner." She blanches. "Oh, no, I'm sorry..."

    "It's... fine." Don'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcry. "Did my stuff get shipped in?"

    "I don't know, but, if it was, it'll be in your room."

    She gave me directions to the room that I would now be spending a few hours in, at most, and I went resolutely on my way. They really needed to turn the heat down in this place. My eyes were sweating.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter Two
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    After resolutely following Mash's directions to my room (not that it'd be mine much longer,) I stalwartly and bravely opened the door, pausing only to wipe away my eye-sweat (not tears goddammit, because I wasn't crying.)

    My stuff was inside, laid out in boxes. I could probably have set the whole room up how I liked, might have had fun unpacking my things and setting up, if...

    I promptly settled down in a fetal position and started bawling. It was stupid, it was pathetic, but goddammit, I really wanted this job to work out. And now I was fired. Just like that.

    "Um… are you okay?" an unfamiliar voice asked. Oh God, did I just break into somebody else's room for my little crying fit?

    "S-Sorry," c'mon Charlie, compose your face, dry your tears, wipe away the snot. Time to deal with people again, regardless of how little you want to. You can do this. "I was told that this was my room. Sorry to inconvenience you if I was misinformed."

    "Your room, huh? Guess I'll need to find a new place to slack off, then." The man in what is now confirmed to be my room is fairly tall, with pinkish hair (does everyone dye it around here?) and a kind face.

    "No need to bother. The Director just fired me without ever even meeting me," I sighed. "It'll be up for grabs by tomorrow."

    "Oh. Why'd she fire you?"

    "I missed her briefing. I arrived fifteen minutes before, and I don't know my way around the place, so...."

    "Well, I'll put in a good word for you. Olga-Marie is harsh, but she's usually also fair."

    I blinked up at him. "Thank you..."

    "Doctor Archaman. But my friends call me Roman. And you are?"

    "Charles Flynn. But my friends call me Charlie."

    "Well, glad to meet you. Why don't we head on-"

    The newly identified Dr. Roman was interrupted by the distant sound of something blowing up.

    "I know I'm new here, but that sounds like a problem."

    "Yes. Yes it does."

    "Should we-"

    "Yeah."

    And we were off.
     
  3. Fellgar

    Fellgar Well worn.

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    Micro updates are fine. Changing up the intro is nice. Otherwise not much to respond to here.
     
  4. MasterOfDragonsGod

    MasterOfDragonsGod Well worn.

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    Not a bad start keep it up.
     
  5. shakeval

    shakeval Not too sore, are you?

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    Blame the little one, the small ones are always up to no good.
     
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter Three
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    Dear Family,

    On my first day on the job at Chaldea, I got fired half an hour after I showed up, and ran into a burning room.

    Seriously, why did I just do that? I could have gotten to safety, like Roman told me to. But no, I just had to play the hero. I mean, it was a pretty big explosion, and now the entire room is on fire. And I do mean the entire room. And its on-fireness is, by all standards of comparison, first rate. This isn't some piddling little campfire, no, this is a real rager. Great gouts and sheets of flame burst up and dance about, charring the white walls, and I feel my sweat begin to sizzle against my skin. My eyes are closed into slits, and I'm half-crawling as I go through the chamber. Fire suppression systems are starting to kick in, but there is no way anybody survived this. What the Hell am I doing? There's no survivors to save! I should just head back past the barricades and-

    "Senpai?"

    God dammit, Mash.

    Right, not leaving her to die. Let's assess the situation. How do I save her?

    Well, she's buried under a frankly ridiculous amount of rubble. She's bleeding from a cut over one eye, and- My gut sinks. There's no way I can save her.

    "Senpai, go, you need to get out of-"

    "Containment Doors Closing," a pleasant voice announces. She sounds a bit like the computer on Star Trek. All in all, the most soothing announcement of my impending demise I could ever ask for.

    I sit down.

    "Senpai, you should go, try to find a way out," Mash tells me. It's sweet of her to think there's any way for this to not end with the both of us dying here. I grab her hand, because quite frankly, I could really use a hug right now, and it's the closest thing I can manage.

    This is how I die. To be honest, it's even more anticlimactic than I expected. And now I'm looking back over how I said goodbye before my departure. I think my dogs will miss me. My family too. Mom was pretty out of sorts about the whole flying-out-to-Antarctica thing when I left. And now it's off to the great beyond for me.

    "Initializing Rayshift." The Star Trek computer voice lady says. She might have been saying something before it, I was a little out of it at the time.

    The huge orb at the room's center starts to spin, there's a blue glow, and-

    I'm in a city.

    I'm in a city, and my hand is empty.

    The city's on fire too, and it feels... wrong. Malevolent, seeped in hatred and rage and sin. In the distance I see cloaked, shambling figures lurch along, headed towards me.

    I start laughing.

    "Y'know, I always did think I'd wind up in Hell."

    Well, eternal suffering waits for no man. Let's get on with it.
     
  7. Threadmarks: Chapter Four
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    Y'know, there was nowhere near as much screaming as I thought there'd be.

    I mean, it's kind of a fixture of the place, whenever you try and picture it. Hell. The place where thousands of sinners burn for their crimes, beyond the mercy of God. Of course there'd be screams. And yet, no screams. There was supposed to be an eternal cacophony of soul-shattering misery. Where's the eternal cacophony of soul-shattering misery?

    The cloaked figures are approaching me. That's fine. Eternal torment has to start somewhere. I decide to look at the architecture for a bit.

    The buildings are half-melted, crumbling ruins, each warped and twisted as if they're screaming out in agony. The same fire, sickly and streaked through with a sort of empty darkness, burns on all of them. The ground is equally dark and barren, cracked and pitted and occasionally splitting fully open to reveal an empty black tar that hurts my eyes to look at for too long.

    The shambling, cloaked figures are accelerating towards me, bounding forwards without abandon. The robes flutter in the wind, revealing glimpses of weathered skulls and blackened bones. I keep still, and brace myself. No idea how to do magecraft, and no real physical skills to speak of. So, my only real option is to face the end (or perhaps, the beginning) with dignity.

    And then a blur of purple smashes into the cloaked skeletons, and my prospects start looking up.

    "Senpai! Are you hurt?" Mash calls out. Personally, I'm flummoxed. If I was to compile my personal list of 'People I know that are likely to go to Hell,' Mash wouldn't even rate an honorable mention. Then again, I've only known her for less than a day. Maybe she secretly ate babies or something, or maybe God just hated weebs.

    "Do you eat babies?"

    "What?" She looks completely shocked and flummoxed.

    "Just trying to figure out why you ended up in Hell with me," I answer, still trying to puzzle out how my self-declared kouhai, whose only demonstrated qualities thus far have been being a dutiful, self-sacrificing, and compassionate person, rated eternal damnation. Then another thought struck me. "Also, corollary note, how'd you end up with superpowers?"

    "Senpai, this isn't... Hell," she pauses, as she examines her surroundings again, her face falling as she does so. "I think. Also, I fused with the Heroic Spirit they had summoned to go with the away team. I think so ,anyway. I don't know his name, but he saved my life."

    "Wait, they had a Servant summoned? And I missed it?" The latter question is really more of an indignant squawk.

    "Well, I'm sort of a Servant now, so-"

    I interrupt her by taking her hands and staring into her eyes with pure fanboyish glee. "Mash, you are now officially the coolest person I know."

    "Um… you like Servants, Senpai?"

    "The whole reason I signed up with Chaldea was the Servants! Or actually, they only told me about that once I was on the plane and they were giving me the whole 'magic is real, your job includes a lot of it, and you can do a little of it, but not much because you're just a worthless peasant' speech, so, really, it's more that the Servants are the reason I didn't try to pull a runner or take a swing at the recruiter for being a condescending jackass." I pause for breath, grinning like a loon. Mash seems slightly lost.

    "So..."

    "We are officially not in Hell, because this is the coolest thing that has ever happened to me, and I somehow doubt that making me this happy is really in line with the whole 'eternal torment' thing." I pause to think. "Right, what's a Rayshift?"

    "Oh, that's how the away teams were supposed to deploy into the Singularities." Mash smiles. I return her open expression of happiness and support with a significantly more pained version.

    "Mash, I kind of missed the briefing. Going to need a bit more explanation than that."

    "Oh, well, the Director started by telling us that rank and distinction don't matter, and that Chaldea's job was to protect all of humanity, from any and all threats. Then she told us about Chaldeas, which was how they could forecast and scan human history." I blink. They can scan human history? How accurately? Could it be used to resolve centuries-long historical debates? Finally discard all the unreliable narrators and see what really happened? My God, the potential! "And she said that they couldn't find any trace of humanity in a hundred years." And that's a downer. "So, they were going to solve it by summoning Servants and then sending away teams back in history to resolve the Singularities, areas where human history was deviating from what it was supposed to look like, and hopefully save humanity!"

    I... Holy shit. I got a job as a time cop, travelling throughout human history with a legendary hero at my side, to save humanity from inevitable destruction. And I managed to fuck it up and get myself fired in the first thirty minutes. Fuck my life. Right then. Time to change the subject to something that won't depress me to no end.

    "So, what class of Servant are you?" I actually only found out about how the whole Servant system works because the minute the recruiter mentioned that I would be working with legendary heroes, I immediately begging, pleading and wheedling with him to tell me everything he knew about how they worked. He told me, but only because I promised to stop calling him a wizard and making Harry Potter references if he did. Joke's on him, though. I'm still making them in my head.

    "I think I'm a Shielder," she answers, holding up her massive, cross-shaped shield. I payed a bit more attention to it, then. I had been trying to avoid looking anywhere other than her face, because it looked like she was wearing a skin-tight bodysuit and it would be creepy to stare, but I should probably give it a look and try to identify the spirit she had bonded with.

    She was wearing what I can only describe as an impractical fusion of armor and purple spandex. This atrocity against proper protective equipment design left me shuddering and quietly praying that the other Servants would be more sensibly dressed. Ah, well, time to stop staring before it gets creepy.

    "So, assuming that we're in a Singularity, where do we go from here?" I ask. The catch-up session's been fun and all, but we definitely need to start moving. Even now I can see more skeletons in the distance.

    "Oh, I'm not sure-" She stopped as we both heard a distant, high-pitched scream.

    "That way work for you?"

    She nods resolutely, and then takes off at a run, leaving me to run after her as fast as my puny human legs can take me.
     
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter Five
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    Note to self: My puny human legs cannot take me places all that fast, and my puny human lungs cannot support them for very long, especially when everything is on fire. As corollary, inform Mash of this fact so that she doesn't leave me stranded in her wake again, as I have to dodge all the goddamn skeletons she aggroed. I narrowly avoid yet another swipe that goes wide as I finally, at long last, catch up to her.

    And then, with speed, skill, and power that I can only dream of, Mash is there, smashing the skeletons away with her shield.

    "Sorry, Senpai, I forgot that I'm faster now."

    I'm to busy wheezing to properly reply. The skeletons have all been reduced to bones shards and powder now, and all I can do is marvel at the fact that it only took Mash about thirty seconds to end every one of them. Is this the difference between a human and a Servant?

    "Good news, Senpai, I found the Director!" she informs me, cheerful as can be. "It's possible that the other Masters survived!"

    "Oh, great." In all honesty, though, I had kind of been hoping that they hadn't made it. It's selfish of me, but, I really want to keep this job.

    "Mash!" a woman's voice calls out, sounding about as winded as I feel right now. "Don't just run ahead and leave me behind! It's dangerous out here and- Wait, who are you?"

    And so, for the first time, I see Chaldea's director. She's young. Far younger than I'd expected. White hair, an orange and black uniform, and college-age at best. She's also sweating like a pig, and hunched over wheezing like her lungs are trying to kill her.

    "Charles Flynn, Master candidate, we haven't actually met before."

    "How? All the candidates were..." she frowns. "You're that imbecile who didn't even bother showing up for orientation, aren't you!"

    "Indeed, although it was less, 'didn't even bother' and more, 'got horribly lost because your base is a goddamn labyrinth,'" I shot back, feeling irritable beyond all measure. "Also, am I still fired? Because, what with most of the other Master candidates being blown up and set on fire by that explosion, I'm starting to think that my services just became a lot more valuable."

    She pauses, and then says, in tones as cold as ice, "That depends on your performance in this Singularity, and how many other candidates have survived."

    "I'll take it. So, as my immediate superior, and the person most well-versed in how these Singularities work, what are your orders, Director?" And I just realized that I don't know her last name. That's fine. I can just call her 'Director' until somebody else says her last name.

    "We head to the leyline and try to establish a beachhead from which we can contact Chaldea," she answers, seeming to have grudgingly accepted me since I acknowledged her authority. "This was originally supposed to be carried out by the A-team, but I suppose you'll have to do."

    Truly, I have never felt more flattered.

    Our destination set, we move out, our feet crunching on the ever-present layer of ash that coats the charred and pitted ground. Few words are exchanged, and Mash's shield is rarely still as she crushes those skeletons that stand in our way.

    Finally, we reach the leyline, and the Director draws the spell formula on the ground about Mash's shield to contact Chaldea, while I keep watch for threats.

    It's eerily still without the skeletons, like a forest in the wake of a stalking tiger. Not a single beast moves or dares make a sound, 'lest they draw the silent cat's eye. The question, though, remained: Were we the tiger? Or the prey?

    Still, after a bit, the magical formula did its thing, and Roman appeared above the shield, albeit glowing, transparent, and blue.

    "Director Animusphere!" Hah! Got her name! "Charlie, Mash! I'm glad to see you all safe and well. Although, Mash? What are you wearing young lady? I did not raise you to go out-"

    "Wardrobe was involuntary, she's a..." Semi-Servant? Part-Servant? Demi-Servant. Sounds better, and it invokes the mythic concept of demigods. "...Demi-Servant now. Quite honestly the only reason any of us are still alive."

    "Demi-Servant, huh? Well, good on her." Okay, he is suspiciously accepting of this.

    "In any case, what's the status of Chaldea?" Director Animusphere butts in, shooting a glare at me for interrupting her. "How many of the other Masters can be fielded? How many casualties? Are we still operational?"

    "In order, none, enough that we can't spare anyone to count, and barely," Roman answers, his face far grimmer than I'd seen it before. Besides me, I can see the Director's face fall. "All the Master candidates are critically injured in their Rayshift coffins, and we don't have enough staff to properly treat them."

    "Activate the suspended animation feature. Put them on ice until we can properly treat them," Director Animusphere interrupts, her tone brooking no objections. " We may not be able to easily unfreeze them, but the prospect of saving a few of them isn't worth letting most of them die."

    "Understood, Director. I expected no less from you," Roman answers with a smile. "In answer to your other questions, there's barely more than twenty of us left. We're working on repairs, but at the moment, we can't Rayshift you out of there. We can, however, use up the power stored in the summoning system to allow you to attempt a few summonings inside the Singularity."

    The Director pauses. "Do it. Numbers can only work in our favor." She turns to me. "This is entirely your area of concern."

    As Roman walks me through the process (and warns me that most of what I summoned would useless junk or Noble Phantasms without their owners) I do my level best to conceal my eagerness. I'm going to summon a Servant! An actual, honest-to-god legendary figure to fight at my side! I can barely contain myself!

    And now it's time.

    I run through the summoning. First few tries are unsuccessful, but then...

    The light glows gold. A figure emerges from the glow. This is it! Is it Hercules? Theseus? Achilles? Jason? Oh, maybe it's from Norse myth, like Sugrd, or Sigmund, or Sinfjotli! Or maybe-

    The light fades, and- What the fuck?

    "Hiya master! I'm Servant Berserker, the wild fox of the Tamamo Nine, Tamamo Cat! Pleased to meetcha!"

    Pink-haired, revealingly dressed foxgirl. Who I have never heard of in my life.

    I'm beginning to have an extremely bad feeling about this.
     
  9. Fellgar

    Fellgar Well worn.

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    Please tell me that you're SI Charles I think you said it was is going to continue to summon cute girls or like alstolfo etc. And only those types.
     
  10. Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    It's actually based on the Servants I summoned in-game. Next two on the list are Hassan-I-Sabbah of the thousand faces and Vlad the Impaler (Lancer)
     
    Kapellan23 likes this.
  11. Threadmarks: Chapter Six
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    Fortunately, the second Servant produced by my summons is less... anti-climactic. An androgynous figure, cloaked all in black with only a bone-white mask peering out from beneath its dark hood.

    "Servant Assassin. Hassan-I-Sabbah of the Thousand Faces. We hope to work well with you."

    Hassan-I-Sabbah. Assassin. Something about that sounds familiar... Oh my god.

    "The Old Man of the Mountain? Leader of the Hashashim?"

    The legendary hired killer nods, and I start to grin.

    "We were not in command of our order during the Crusades, but nonetheless, we believe we may be of use to you."

    "How so? As an Assassin, your class is best suited to intel and reconnaissance. How skilled are you in that field?" Just realized that I don't know how to look at their stats. Going to have to ask Olga or Roman how one does that.

    In the blink of an eye, there stand two masked figures where before there was one. "Our Zabaniya the technique which elevated us to our position, gives us a hundred identities, each with a hundred different skills. As Servants, it allows our identities to assume separate bodies."

    Okay, yes. I can work with this.

    "Spread out and perform reconnaissance. Range of... let's say one mile. Leave one body here to relay back information, and relay back descriptions of possible threats, and their locations."

    A silent nod, and a variety of bodies split off, disappearing into the night, leaving behind one body, which likewise fades from sight. And now I'm going to spend most of my life looking over my shoulder to watch for assassins. Great.

    "Alright. Berserker. I don't know your legend. Could you tell me about it?"

    I only realize my mistake when Tamamo Cat launches into a long and disjointed explanation of her origin, which I honestly can't make heads or tails of. The main problem is the metaphors, but her frequent digressions and tendency to forget which part of the story she's on don't help either.

    Finally, after ten minutes of her absurdly high-speed babbling, I cut her off as she was talking about... Almonds? I think? "Thank you, Berserker, you've been very helpful." I turn to Olga Marie, who looks about as irritated and disappointed as I feel. "Director Animusphere? A word in private?"

    We head off from the group, keeping an eye out for enemies, before she turns to me. "Flynn-"

    "I know. In a situation like this one, an unstable berserker is the last thing we need. But, all the same, we need muscle. While Hassan-I-Sabbah is, quite frankly, an excellent stroke of luck, I don't think they have the stats to bring down the bigger Servants. Which brings me to my next point. I need you to teach me how to view their stats."

    "You-can't even do the most basic spell every Master has to cast?"

    "I'm an uninitiated novice at Magecraft. I only got in due to high compatibility with the FATE system and a solid knowledge of history and mythology."

    "Fine. I suppose you are slightly better than the alternative."

    "Good. Hopefully, once I've got that down, I'll be able to view her stats, and determine if her strength outweighs the risk of keeping her around."

    "And if the risk outweighs the reward?" she looks skeptical. "What on Earth do you think you can do to stop a Servant?"

    I look at the back of my hand, and the Command Seals inscribed thereon. "If she's too unstable, I use a Command Seal to make her kill herself."

    The Director looks disquieted at that. "I know that our survival is important to Chaldea, but that-"

    "I will do whatever is necessary. But, bear in mind, this is only a last resort. It hopefully won't come to that." I smile. "Now then, let's see if I'm a quick learner."
     
  12. XulaYuki

    XulaYuki Not too sore, are you?

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    SI not weeb enough dont u know in anime the more weird u are the more likely u will survive
     
  13. Threadmarks: Chapter Seven
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    My magecraft lesson, incomplete and rushed as it was, worked.

    "Her Mad Enhancement is fairly low. She's stable enough to be worked with." I inform the Director. Fortunately, she only had to teach me how to tap into an aspect of the FATE system, not an entire spell. We hadn't been attacked by skeletons, but that was only because Assassin had been maintaining a perimeter defense. The whole thing taken about an hour, and both Tamamo and Mash were getting antsy.

    "Good. This delay was costly." Olga-Marie grumbles, looking at me irritably. "If it wasn't for your ineptitude and paranoia we could have already reached our next destination."

    "Indeed. Sorry to delay us. So, where are we going?" I smile.

    I had stumbled upon the ideal strategy for dealing with my irascible new superior. As my great-grandfather and namesake would say, I was killing her with kindness. Whenever she insulted me, I just smiled politely and agreed before moving on. The best part was that it actually seemed to annoy her even more than any backtalk would. And she still couldn't complain about it.

    And so, we return to our companions.

    "Welcome back, Master, Director!" Tamamo Cat called, stretching like the animal she claimed to be as she rises to meet us. Mash echoes her greeting as she too gets to her feet.

    "Our main goal should be to locate potential allies." The Director announces, strict and businesslike. "And identify the source of this Singularity."

    "Master." Hassan-I-Sabbah of the Hundred Faces says. Their voice is soft and quiet, like the wind through the trees in a forest. "We have identified multiple inbound Servants."

    "How?" How could there be Servants here? We were in the modern day, why would there be Servants here?

    "We are in Fuyuki," the Director muses.

    "Director, assume for a moment that I don't know where that is."

    "The site of the Holy Grail War, what Chaldea's summoning system is based off of. But the years don't match up."

    "Well, it is a deviation from the accepted course of history, so that's to be expected. Hassan, what type of Servants and how fast?"

    "They walk at a casual pace. It would be accurate to say that they are two separate groups of Servants. One is composed of two Servants, a Lancer and the corrupted form of one of my predecessors. The other group consists of one Servant, who does not appear to be corrupted."

    "Define 'corrupted.'"

    "They appear... wrong. Like walking corpses, which ooze a thick, black blood. We have not engaged them in combat yet. We do not wish to lose any of our number."

    "And the other?"

    "He appears as a normal, healthy Servant, Master. The two groups have engaged each other in combat, and appear to bear no love for each other."

    "Director? Your thoughts?"

    "Seek an accord with the... normal Servant. We do need allies, and someone who knows what's going on."

    "Right then. Berserker, make ready for combat but don't engage without my signal. Shielder, if a fight does break out, I'm going to spend the entire fight cowering behind you. Director, you're cowering with me so neither of us gets reduced to a smear on the wall. Assassin, have one of your number approach the uncorrupted Servant. Approach him and see if he'll agree to a parley. If he agrees, guide us to him. Keep us clear of the other two."

    "Understood." Nods all around, although the Director's seems a bit reluctant. All the same, we head out. Time to see how good I am at negotiating.
     
  14. Threadmarks: Chapter Eight
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    "Master. He has agreed to the parley."

    "Thank you, Assassin. Guide us to him." I look around. "Mash, keep yourself between him and us until he's been confirmed friendly. Berserker, be ready to fight if he attacks us." She doesn't look it, but her stats are top-notch. An A in Agility and Mana, and Bs in both Strength and Luck. Her Endurance and Noble Phantasm are fairly low-grade, but her Personal Skills, Witchcraft, Monstrous Strength, and Shapeshifting are all fairly useful. Honestly, I got lucky summoning her. Still wish I got Hercules, though.

    We head out, guided by one of Assassin's hundred faces. Servants. Legends. Heroes. And they're deferring to me.

    Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about that. I mean, it's one Hell of an ego boost, but... they're deferring to me Me. Can I really be trusted with this much authority?

    This isn't the time for doubt, though. The city is burning, my life and those of Mash and the Director hang in the balance, and I need to be fully committed.

    Should probably straighten out the chain of command, though. And ensure that my boss doesn't feel too slighted. Fun as it is to play the gadfly, it won't do my career prospects any favors.

    "Director," I pipe up, startling her from her own reverie. "Apologies if I seem to have usurped your authority. I am still yours to command, but in combat scenarios, is it permissible that I take an active command role?"

    She pauses. "Fair enough. The Servants obey you, after all. It would be cumbersome to have to give orders through you in combat."

    "Thank you. Who should take the lead in the negotiations?"

    "I will. I am still Director, after all, and you are my subordinate, Servants or not." Fair enough. I want to work for her. Not do her job.

    "Very well." I'm torn. Do I ask her about Chaldeas? I really want to know how it works, but I get the sense she'll be completely insufferable if given a chance to explain it. Before I can come to a decision, however, it's taken out of my hands.

    "Master. He is just ahead." Hassan says in their quiet tones. Still not sure how to refer to them. I mean, their gender, from what I can tell, is best measured in percentages.

    "And the other two?"

    "A safe distance away."

    "Right then. Positions, everybody." Showtime. I clasp my hands behind my back in a parade rest, steel my features, and follow Mash out of the alleyway, at the right of the Director, just a step behind her.
     
  15. Threadmarks: Chapter Nine
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    The Servant who's waiting for us on the street looks young. About my age, to be honest. He's handsome, from what I can see under the hood, and dressed in a blue and white robe, complete with a white-furred hood. In his hand, he holds a long wooden staff engraved with runes. If this guy isn't a Caster, I'll eat my hat. Wait, I'm not wearing a-

    "So, you're the Master, then." He calls with a smile, looking at the Director. "Thanks. Your Assassin Servants running around kept that Archer bastards eyes off me. Finally let me finish off Rider."

    "My subordinate to my right is the Master. Hello. I am Olga-Marie Animusphere, Director of Chaldea."

    "Well, then, little lady, good to meetcha," he grins, and for some reason I'm reminded of my dogs. "My Class is Caster, but, honestly, the whole Grail War's been completely off the rails for a while now."

    "Yes. In the proper human history, there was no Grail War in 2004. We seek to resolve this aberration in the timeline by securing and removing the Holy Grail."

    "That so."

    "Will you aid us in resolving this Singularity?" she asks. I wince. At least butter him up a bit first! Right, if she didn't put him off by being so blunt, we'll probably still need to soothe some concerns.

    "Sure."

    Right, he has concerns, so address them- wait. What?

    "Rather trusting of you," I comment, trying to hide the conversational whiplash I just suffered.

    "I had truth-runes set up. Not a single lie. Plus, going up against all the others sounds like a fun fight." He is surprisingly mellow. Are all Heroic Spirits like this?

    "Welcome aboard then. What can you tell us about the situation?" The Director shoots me a glare for my interruption as she speaks.

    "Not much to say. It was a normal Grail War at first. Then, everything started burning and that black mud was everywhere. Saber... changed. It was like she just turned into some sort of dark reflection of herself. Then, she went on a rampage. All the Servants she killed rose as shadows of their former selves. I'm the only one she didn't get. These days, she's holed up in the cavern of the Holy Grail. Archer stands guard for her, and Assassin and Lancer are her attack dogs."

    "Do you know her identity?" I interject. Sorry, Director, but tactical concerns are in my wheelhouse.

    "Sure. She's none other than King Arthur."

    King Arthur? But that-

    King Arthur was a woman. I- I just- What?

    "You okay, kid?" Caster asks, looking at me with concern.

    "Yeah, no, just- Kind of trying to wrap my head around the fact that one of my personal heroes and my role model for how a man should conduct himself was actually a woman. So, y'know, not really."

    I mean, Mordred was his son, right? And didn't he have at least one kid by Guinevere? How did that work? And another thing-

    "Disquieting revelations aside, may I ask if you're willing to reveal your true name and capabilities?" The Director's smirking a bit. I think she's enjoying this a little too much.

    "Eh, sure. Best if my allies know what I can do." He grins, and lowers his hood. "Name's Cu Chulainn. Looking forward to working with you."

    -I just don't understand. How did everybody, from the serving staff to the knights, miss that the king was a woman? How many people were in on it? And- Wait, Cu Chulainn?

    "I thought you would be a Lancer," I blurt out.

    He glares. "So did I."

    "Ah. I'm sorry you lost your spear."

    "Yeah, I'm nowhere near my full power without it." He looks honestly bummed about it.

    "Well to be fair, your Gae Bolg is a huge part of your legend."

    "Yeah." He grins, his eyes lost in the green meadows of nostalgia. "Feels weird, not having it's girth in my hands."

    "I would have loved to see it in action."

    The Director is giving us both a look. Why-? Ah. I suppose the conversations was getting a bit Freudian.

    "Well, whether you have your spear or not, it's still an honor to meet you," I say, meaning every word. Sure the hero I considered the ideal of everything a man should be turned out to be a woman, but I got to meet the most Irish Irishman in Irish history! I'm calling today a net positive. Would it be too much to ask for an autograph? Well, I don't have any paper on me, so an autograph is pretty much impossible right now, but it I get to keep my job, I might want to consider getting an autograph book. Aaaaaaaaannnnnnd the Director's giving me a 'stop wasting time' look. Time to get down to the strategizing.

    "Right then. Time to draft our plan of attack. First, Caster, this is Berserker," I point to Tamamo, who apparently got distracted by a pretty rock at some point in the meeting, "that's Shielder," point to Mash, still standing dutifully between us, "and the army of invisible skull faced killers behind you are Assassin." He actually looks over his shoulder at that one, then gives a snort of laughter. "Oh. And I'm Charles Flynn. My friends call me Charlie. Assassin, are the other two any nearer?"

    "Yes." Everybody startles a little. I had honestly forgotten where they were standing when they disappeared. "But not by much. They are still a ways away. Five blocks in distance."

    "Give us warning when it gets down to three and we'll relocate. Right then. How about you tell us your capabilities, and we tell you ours? That way we can hash out our tactics and order of attack."

    He grins. "Well, for starters..."
     
  16. Neolindell

    Neolindell Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    love this type of shit
     
  17. Darko

    Darko Versed in the lewd.

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    Love the story so far.

    Hope for more.
     
  18. Threadmarks: Chapter 10
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    "Hey, gents, would either of you happen to have a lighter on you?" I ask as I stroll up to the two rotting monstrosities that once were Servants.

    For a moment, they exchange looks, as if not believing the bounty that's laid out before their eyes, and then, as one, they turn to look at me hungrily.

    Then, from behind them, there's a sound like thunder, and the Lancer's head goes flying.

    Tamamo Cat, Agility-boosting runes glowing on her skirt and muscles bulging with Monstrous Strength, skids to a halt facing the corrupted Assassin, her face pulled back in a snarl.

    "Finish the job."

    She snarls in agreement, and lunges towards the flabbergasted Assassin. I turn away to avoid the carnage. Behind me, I hear flesh and bone rip and tear away, and the snarls and bellows of something not remotely human. It stops after a minute, however.

    "You done?"

    "Yes, Master," she sounds sleepy.

    I turn. She's curled up in the scattered, shredded viscera of the Corrupted Servant, her paws and mouth caked with now-dissolving black blood and her entire front liberally splattered with it.

    "I'm a bit tired, Master. Could you carry me?"

    I give her a look. "Shift to fox form, and I'll consider it."

    Looking away from the catgirl Berserker, (what the Hell is my life turning into?) I give the "all clear" signal to Assassin.

    As expected, Plan Berserk Railgun worked flawlessly. Both Lancer and, wait this is just getting confusing. Need something to differentiate them. Ooh, there we go. Both Dark Lancer and Dark Assassin's bodies are dissolving.

    "Both targets eliminated." Assassin says from behind me. "It would seem your plan worked."

    "Indeed." I say, not because it really needs confirmation but more because I'm not sure what else to say. Looking back, Tamamo's taken fox form and curled up into a fluffy little ball to nap. I pick her up. She's heavy, but it's fox-heavy, not woman-heavy. I restrain myself from cooing at her adorability as I scratch behind her ears.

    After a minute or two, the Director, Mash, and Caster catch up.

    "Flynn. The enemy?" The director's all business.

    "Extremely deceased. You're standing in one of Dark Assassin's puddles, right now." I carefully conceal my amusement as she jumps and shrieks. "He's mostly dissolved, though." She glares.

    "And… is that Berserker?"

    "Yes. Using Monstrous Strength and her Noble Phantasm exhausted her. Since we cannot afford to wait around, I offered to carry her."

    "In fox form."

    "I doubt I could lift her otherwise. Also, she's very fluffy."

    The Director gives me an annoyed look, and then sighs. "Very well."

    "Want to pet her?"

    "No!"

    Mash takes me up on the offer, though. Cu's too busy laughing.


    "So. Next on our hit list is Archer."

    Cu nods.

    "What can he do?"

    "He makes weapons, I think. Plus, he shoots arrows that explode."

    "Any idea as to his True Name?"

    "Not a clue."

    I transferred Foxmamo over to Mash, who's cuddling her tightly to her chest, while Olga stares on, wanting to pet the ridiculously fluffy fox but being too proud to embarrass herself in front of her subordinates like that.

    "How many arrows can he shoot at once?"

    "Just one at a time, I think."

    "Assassin, send a body to talk with us. I have an idea."
     
  19. Threadmarks: Chapter 11
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    I peer through the spyglass from behind the building.

    "There he is."

    Tall, grey-haired, and well-muscled. And his jumpsuit isn't exactly doing much to hide that. A bow almost as long as he is tall in his hand. He's exactly as Cu described him.

    "Begin Operation Dogpile." I don't care how much Cu glared at me, that pun had to be made.

    At my signal, Cu, along with about fifty of Assassin's bodies disguised to look like Cu, break cover and run towards him. All spread out wide enough that he can only take them out one at a time, and all cloaked under Presence Concealment, or a runic facsimile thereof.

    "Has he noticed, Senpai?" Mash asks, turning her head back to look at me from where she stands, shield in hand.

    "No, and keep your eyes on the target. We don't want him catching us unawares."

    According to Cu, Archer was "a pragmatic bastard, who doesn't give a shit about honor or enjoyment in a fight. Bit like you, actually." Thus, it stood to reason that the minute he was outnumbered, he'd try to even the odds by killing his enemies' Master. Which was why I was half a city away watching the fight through a spyglass (provided by Caster, though God knows how,) while hiding behind Mash.

    He still hasn't noticed, but he's starting to look around cautiously. He knows something is wrong, but he has no idea what.

    And... there! Assassin emerges and attacks from behind. Cu described the man's fighting style, and borderline clairvoyance in combat, but it seems Archer can't plan for what he doesn't see coming. Interesting. I wonder what skill that is.

    Archer whirls about to face the attacker, leaving himself exposed to the next attacker. While he tries to face both at once, he's stabbed in the back once more.

    Assassin is far from the strongest Heroic Spirit there is. But at the same time, there are none better when it comes to dirty tricks. And, contrary to what pop culture would have you believe, people generally can't handle fighting in melee against multiple opponents. The normal disadvantages, namely poor coordination and being forced to bottleneck, don't apply because of Hassan-I-Sabbah's nature as a hive mind. They're perfectly coordinated and only send in enough so that they can outnumber and flank him, but not so many that they trip each other up. A Golden Mean of dishonorably ganking somebody.

    Right. Now, with Archer outnumbered, if the Hassans fail to finish the job, then-

    There's a flash of light and suddenly, sword fire out in every direction about Archer like a hail of arrows. Five Hassans down. Well, time for Plan B. Caster blasts him from behind and then Tamamo (who's been sneaking up in fox form) finishes him off while he's reeling. If that fails, more Hassans strike, until he's too wounded and exhausted to fight anymore.

    Alright, Caster's- Dammit, he's in front of him. Why? Well, I guess he'd be opposed to blasting an opponent in the back, being an honorable Celtic warrior and all, but still. And- no, wait, what is he doing? Why is he casting that runic spell, and- Why the Hell is Mr. E-Ranked Strength engaging his opponent in melee combat? I mean, it looks awesome, but it's also really stupid, and not part of the plan of attack!

    "Assassin. The fuck is he doing." Mash winces, and I mentally reprimand myself for swearing in front of her. Well, apologies later.

    "He has employed a runic spell he called the Ath nGabla-"

    "-which starts a compelled one-on-one duel that neither party can opt out of, and no outside force can interfere with." I finish glumly. "Why, though?"

    "He claimed that the planned strategy was too dishonorable for him, and he wanted an honest challenge."

    I make an inarticulate gargling noise of rage. Besides me, the Director looks equally pissed.

    "And he couldn't have just mentioned it in the planning session?"

    "We do not know why. We cannot parse his motivations any better than you can."

    "Fucking Celts and their goddamn battle fetish." I take a breath, and cast out my frustration. All is well, and I am calm. All is well, and I am calm. "All right, I'll just ask him myself. Tell Tamamo to stand down and await further orders. Clear the way of skeletons for us, and guide us by the most direct route possible."

    "Yes, Master."

    In hindsight, I should have communicated more with Caster. He hadn't been happy about Operation Berserk Railgun, either. He enjoys a good fight, said so himself, and doesn't appreciate my more pragmatic leanings. In all honesty, this is a pretty good learning experience. My ethos won't always mesh with that of the Servants I summon. Setting aside questions of morality and values dissonance, there's also the fact that a great number of them, especially the strongest ones among them like Hercules and Cu, come from cultures that place more value on personal honor and glory. Like Achilles, if I deny them their chance to fight and show their mettle, or disrespect their worth as warriors, they'll set up in their tents and never leave.

    So, I need to balance the efficiency of my strategies with the morale and personal codes of my troops, and make an effort to persuade them of the necessity of my more extreme or dishonorable measures. I can do that. Thank God for Assassin, though. Having a Servant with no ego is useful as hell.

    It's about an hour before we make it to the site of the fighting. My legs, much like the rest of me, are feel like they've been set on fire and worked over with a tire iron. The Director seems equally exhausted, while Mash is still insufferably perky, for which I loathe her.

    Looks like this was the local high school, before. And they're fighting on the roof. Ugh.

    "Assassin, how do we get up there?"

    The masked, shadowy figure points to where the charred and blackened walls have partially collapsed. Coupled with the burnt corpses of the nearby trees, it appears possible to climb up to the roof.

    Of course Assassin would make me climb the building like an Assassin's Creed character. Actually, on that note, I totally need to get Assassin to play Assassin's Creed. Their reaction would be hilarious.

    But for now I sigh, stretch my sore arms, and make like a Kenway. After falling on my ass twice, I finally get Berserker to pick me up in a bridal carry and jump her way up. I tolerate this affront to my masculinity with Stoic resolve, not much helped by how the Director is laughing her ass off at me.

    With one mighty leap, Berserker jumps up to the roof, with me not-so comfortably resting in her arms. When she sets me down, I take a moment to compose myself, because Jesus Fuck that hurt. The human body is not meant to go from zero to sixty and then back again in a single second, as mine is making perfectly clear to me. The world is spinning and I think I'm going to throw up.

    I sit for a bit until the world stops spinning. Then, I turn my attention towards the rooftop's main event.

    "Hey, Caster!" I shout.

    "What?" He calls back, continuing to force Archer back in a hail of blows. With his runic enhancement, the pair are roughly equal in strength and stamina, but Lancer's faster and he's taking full advantage of that fact. All in all, he's likely to pull off the win. Regardless of whatever tricks Archer has up his sleeve, he doesn't appear to be able to perform them mid-fight, and he's likely to lose in an endurance match.

    "The Hell?"

    "Kid, I like you. But you're a weasel." He sidesteps Archer's desperate attempt at a counterstrike, landing a shot to his ribs as a riposte. "I wanted to honorably finish things with this bastard, and you don't seem like the type who'd stomach the risk."

    "If you had asked, and reminded me of the Ath nGabla, I would have okayed it."

    "Really?"

    "I might not respect the way you do things, but I respect you. besides, this current situation, which would have happened if you'd asked and we okayed your plan, isn't actually all that bad, tactically speaking."

    "Hm. Do tell." His blows shatter one of Archer's swords, and the Dark Servant hastily makes a new one.

    "Sure, there's a marginal chance of you losing. But, even if Archer wins, he'll be exhausted and heavily injured, and facing multiple fresh servants. Plus, I doubt that the Grail is refilling his mana reserves fast enough for them to be anywhere near serviceable afterwards. Especially not after all those swords you're forcing him to create."

    "True enough." He shatters another set of blades. Archer snarls as he generates a new pair. He looks like a cornered animal, now.

    "Anyways, mind if I call Assassin and Shielder up here?"

    "Not at all." His staff takes Archer in the leg, and I hear something snap. "I'm just about done, anyways."

    "Yeah," Archer growls. "Me too."

    He creates some sort of twisted, jagged dagger, and stabs himself in the leg, leaving me and Caster blinking in confusion.

    "Was that supposed to-"

    He creates and tosses a dagger at me in one smooth motion.

    And Berserker deflects it.

    "This is just sad." I comment, as Berserker, now no longer prevented from interfering by the Ath nGabla, tears him apart in an animalistic fury.

    "Yeah," Cu sighs, coming over to sit down beside me as Berserker finishes the already wounded Archer off. "Guess I wasn't going to get a fair fight out of him anyways."

    "Seems that way."

    "Is she... eating him? Because, honestly, seeing a woman go berserk like this is kinda hot, but also kinda scary."

    "Leaning more towards the 'scary' side of the scale myself."

    Tamamo finally wears herself out, and then, shifting to fox form, curls up for a nap. Around her, the bloody chunks of Archer begin to dissolve.

    "So. King Arthur." I say, breaking the silence.

    "Yep."

    "Assassin, tell Mash to bring up the Director. Strategy time."
     
  20. Kapellan23

    Kapellan23 Making the rounds.

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    Perfectly. Thank you!
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    Last edited: Apr 27, 2020
  21. Threadmarks: Chapter 12
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    "Excalibur shoots lasers." I'm not sure whether I should cry or laugh.

    "Yep." Cu shoots back, grinning at my expression.

    "Yeah, okay. Makes about as much sense as about everything else today." I return my attention to the crude map we sketched out on the rooftop. Mash, Caster, Assassin, the Director and myself are all huddled around it. Berserker's still sleeping. "So. How do we beat it? Because from what you tell me, the Grail's giving her an unlimited power supply, and we don't have any defenses that could stand against it."

    Defenses…

    "Mash, can you access your... body-buddy's Noble Phantasms? If he qualifies as a Shielder, they're most likely defensive in nature."

    "Body-buddy?" the Director repeats, arching an eyebrow sardonically.

    "I don't know the vernacular, okay? Started today, if you remember."

    "I-" Mash looks down, ashamed. "I don't know the name of my Noble Phantasm, Senpai."

    "But you have one, right?"

    "I believe so, yes!" she affirms, with an innocent enthusiasm that puts me in mind of a puppy.

    "Cu? Any ideas?"

    "We could try to jog it loose. Put her in enough stress, or a situation where her only option is to use her Noble Phantasm, and she might find a way to use it."

    "Right. That's one option. Assassin? Any suggestions?"

    "Our own Noble Phantasm is something we were born with, amplified by our status as a Heroic Spirit. We have no experience with such a thing, but if we has to offer a suggestion, it would likely resemble Caster's."

    "Right then. Caster, do what you can to teach her how to use that Noble Phantasm of hers. Director? Any objections?"

    "No." She's been more taciturn lately. I'm not sure why.

    "Assassin, you're in charge of supervising this and keeping anything truly catastrophic from happening. Berserker's still out of it, but frankly, we don't her for this."

    "Understood, Master." they say. As Cu, Mash, and Assassin get up to leave, I stay put. Mash looks back at me.

    "Won't you be joining us, Senpai?"

    "I have been running around this barren hellscape for hours without any rest. I have no idea how long it's been, but I'm dog tired. So I'm taking a page from Berserker and getting some sleep while I can." Won't make up for the lack of food and water, but at least it's something.

    With that having been said, I slip off my glasses, lie down, rest my head in my hands, and try to drift off.

    And so, with the distant sound of destruction in my ears, I pass peacefully into the realm of dreams.


    Until I'm rudely woken up, that is.

    "OCH DEUG ODIIIIIIIINNNN!!!!!!!"

    "LORD CHALDEAS!"

    The sound reminds me of a jet liner taking off, but more explodey. And so I jolt muzzily to my feet, stumbling woozily for a few steps before straightening out, and trying to see what's going on. Everything's distant and blurry and I have- wait.

    I put my glasses back on. Okay, eyes are back in order.

    The surrounding buildings are totaled. Mash is standing in front of the burnt-out high school with an expression of mingled joy and anger. Cu stands a hundred yards away from her, looking smug. The various Assassin duplicates I can see are surrounding Cu with knives drawn and ready, and Berserker is on her feet, looking just as annoyed and startled as I feel.

    And the Director is standing in front of me looking pissed.

    "What'd they do?" I ask, stifling a yawn.

    "That lunatic Caster tried to blow up the school!"

    "Okay, why?"

    "He said he was trying to awaken Mash's Noble Phantasm!"

    "Did it work?"

    "Yes, but he could have killed all of us if it hadn't!" She's flushed, her jaw clenched as tightly as her fists.

    "Cool. Hey, Assassin!"

    "Yes, Master?" one of their bodies asks, materializing behind me.

    "Have your bodies tell Caster that, since it worked, I'm not pissed at him, but if he ever does that again, I'm ordering Berserker to castrate him. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to sleep."

    I proceeded to do so, and this time, was permitted a few hours.
     
  22. Fellgar

    Fellgar Well worn.

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    I expect berserker is cuddling the SI when he wakes up.
     
  23. gaouw

    gaouw Banishumento, Zis Warudo!!!

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    Yanno, the Competent Kiritsugu-vibe on Chaldea is a nice touch rather than the soul-less automaton of the Harem Protagonist of Canon.
     
  24. Threadmarks: Chapter 13
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    My second waking is far more gradual than my first, and marginally less unpleasant. Something's licking my chin.

    That had better not be Tamamo. I tolerate it from my dogs, but from another sapient life form, it'd just be weird.

    "Fou!" Wasn't that the white fluffy thing? How the hell did it get here?

    I open my eyes. Yep, there it is, all fluffy and white, defying any form of taxonomical classification.

    "Well, hello you, where'd you come from?" I get my arm beneath me and PAIN.

    Well, all my limbs are sore as hell, as is my back from napping on concrete. I slump back down.

    "Senpai! You're awake!" Hello, Mash.

    "He certainly is." And hello Direct-

    I turn my head to look at her where she sits, crouched down a few feet to my right, facing me. She's giving me a fairly complicated look which I can't for the life of me decipher.

    "Were you... watching me sleep?" My voice squeaks a bit when I ask that, and I scramble away from her, which hurts like a bitch when reflex lets go of the wheel and my brain takes over.

    "Hm? No."

    "Well, good then." I say awkwardly, struggling to get up. Mash, angel that she is, offers me a hand up, which I gladly take. Right. Where are the others?

    I look around and see them.

    "Got any tens?" Cu asks.

    Berserker shakes her head, and Assassin smoothly instructs him to go fish. They're playing with a deck made out of roof tiles. I'm not sure what to make of that.

    I clear my throat, and they look my way.

    "You want to wrap that up first, or should we hit the road?"

    "Eh, it was getting boring anyways." Cu shrugs and gets to his feet.

    "Master!" Berserker is far more enthusiastic in her greeting, lunging for me in a full-on tackle, chattering all the way. I wheeze beneath her as she babbles.

    "Tamamo. Off." She complies, and I gingerly get up. "Right then. Only one foe left, since we'll be avoiding Berserker like the plague. Let's finish this."

    And so, we were off.
     
  25. Fellgar

    Fellgar Well worn.

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    Wait you avoided berserker in your run through?
     
  26. Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    No, but I figured that there was no sane reason for any rational human being for whom Servant death is permanent and spamming Saint Quartz revives isn't an option to seek out the eight-foot slab of muscle and RAGE that is Hercules. Thus, the SI isn't going after Dark Berserker.
     
  27. Threadmarks: Chapter 14
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    My everything hurts.

    Between my sore muscles and the possibly rib-cracking tackle hug Tamamo gave me, the combined effect is to leave me feeling like a walking bruise. But I soldier through. Don't let the pain move you. Keep going. Gravitas.

    Admittedly, Tamamo Cat Hulk-jumping her way down from the school's roof while bridal-carrying me didn't much help matters, but it was either that or climbing down, and I'm currently incapable of raising my arms at more than a 45-degree angle.

    At least the pain keeps me focused on something besides the hunger and the thirst, though. And Cu slipped me a runestone that I'm pretty sure has healing properties. So, after an hour of walking, I've mostly hit my stride. Assassin's various bodies clear the way, while Tamamo, Mash, and Cu all act as guards, dealing with whatever slips past the Assassins so the Director and me don't get our squishy selves pulped. For her part, the Director looks considerably less sore than me. No idea how she's doing it, but I'm jealous all the same.

    Finally, however, we reach the cave.

    "Right. Before we head in, any last-minute revisions to the plan?" I look around. "Alright. Going once, going twice... Nobody. Well then." I take a fortifying breath, then do my best to conceal my wince. "Let's do this."


    It's dark. That's the one thing that sticks in my mind as I look around the cave. Ahead, Berserker, Mash, and Caster are clearing the way, with Mash and Tamamo rotating to defend and attack respectively, while Cu provides ranged support. But even the flashes of light from Caster's blasts (which are ruining my night vision, incidentally) only seem to set the dark crevasses and shadows beyond their range into greater contrast.

    "Director, you wouldn't happen to have some sort of spell to provide illumination, would you?"

    "No."

    "Seems like it'd be a useful spell to have."

    "Before electricity, maybe. Nowadays, why waste time studying a heavily degraded mystery when you could just bring a flashlight?"

    "Fair enough. Looks like they're done."

    We advance down the tunnel, and emerge into a dimly lit cavern. A dark figure stands before the Grail, her eyes hidden behind a black visor. Arthur. King of the Britons. I'd make a Monty Python reference if I wasn't fairly certain it'd end in my gristly demise.

    And she's wearing a dress. There go my hopes of Arthur just looking a bit effeminate and Cu being mistaken.

    Well, buck up, Charlie. King Arthur was always a bit of a blurry stretch of history. Full of unreliable narrators and such. Him being a her is actually a good sign! If Arthur was actually a Servant formed exclusively from the legends around him, he'd just be a reflection of those legends. Arthur being a girl could be taken as definitive proof that she existed, and wasn't just an invention of Geoffery of Monmouth.

    Oh, right, she started talking.

    "How do you know about that?" the Director asks the black knight, shocked.

    Okay, I definitely missed something important while I was zoning out. Story of my life, really.

    "That is of no matter." the corrupted Saber replies. "Now, we face each other on the battlefield. Only two outcomes remain: Victory, or death." And with that cheery observation, she raises her blade, black energy coursing around it. "EXCALIBUR MORGAN!"

    "LORD CHALDEAS!"

    The cold emptiness of perfect tyranny, of crushing all who rebel and resist beneath one's heel, crashing into the warm light of home, and the earnest desire to protect it, and in their clashing, both are broken.

    And in the wake of that initial clast, our counterstrike begins.

    Assassin serves as the opener. Dashing in and breaking presence concealment as they strike from every angle, never ceasing their motion. But, unlike the Archer we fought earlier, it quickly becomes apparent that King Arthur doesn't need to see a strike coming to parry it. Assassin strikes like a thousand dancers, each moving in perfect coordination. But the corrupted Saber dances her part to match, each movement effortlessly flowing in to match, compliment, or counter Assassin's strikes. She dances with twenty partners, and never misses a step. And as the dance goes on, the number of partners drops, Saber finding openings, her parries and dodges merging seamlessly into her attacks. It's easy to see why the legends claim Excalibur made her invincible. In truth, if this is the level of skill she possessed on her own, I have no doubt she seldom needed Excalibur. She's not as fast as Assassin, but her fighting skill more than makes up for it. And her every strike hits like a truck.

    But finally, the dance is ended, by the King's decree. Dark, vile mana blasts out from behind her elbow,sending her spinning in a bladed pirouette. When she regains her footing, ten of Assassin's bodies are dead. Not even two minutes in and we've up to fifteen casualties. And her footing is firm, sunk in like the roots of a mountain, leaving her facing the charging Tamamo, blade at the ready.

    "Shuchikirin!"

    Saber doesn't hesitate, nor does she huddle up. Instead, in the face of the raw savagery of Tamamo's Noble Phantasm, she moves like the wind. Every blow that can be dodged avoided. Every counterstrike that can be made taken. Once Tamamo's fury has abated, she's sent flying into the wall behind Saber to slump in a growing puddle of her own blood.

    "Caster, how's that charge looking?" I try to keep my voice from squeaking. I don't succeed.

    "Nowhere near done." He reports grimly. "Two more minutes."

    "Capital."

    Saber raises her sword once more, and in response, Mash raises her shield. This time, I feel the drain as she draws on my own mana to power it.

    "EXCALIBUR MORGAN!"

    "LORD CHALDEAS!"

    Once more, tyranny batters against the doors of home. And once more it finds no purchase.

    The Assassins pour out again, as Saber charges towards us, stopping her in her advance. The dance of blades begins anew, with twice as many participants. Another minute is won, at the cost of thirty more of Assassin's bodies. She tries to advance, but is halted again, as the dance begins anew. Seconds tick by, marked not by the motion of the clock hands, but by the tearing of flesh and the thumping of corpses hitting the ground, as Saber's advance picks up speed.

    The black knight's blade clashes against our protector's shield, and Cu gives me a nod.

    "Mash, by the power of my Command Seal, push her back to the room's center! Berserker, by my Command Seal, return to me!"

    The red markings burn away as my orders are executed. With a great cry, Mash strikes Saber, forcing her back to the Grail. At the same time, Tamamo vanishes and appears besides me, injured, but still breathing.

    "Caster! Mash! Now!"

    "OCH DEUG ODIIIIIIIIIN!"

    "LORD CHALDEAS!"

    The force of the runic array going off caves in the cavern. Saber vanishes behind the curtain of light while our group rests safely behind Mash's shield.

    Then, we're left buried under the rubble.

    "Caster. Blast our way out."

    "You got it, kid."

    With a roar like thunder, the rubble above us vanishes, and we emerge into the open air.

    "Right, solid work, everybody. Not entirely according to plan, but we made it work. Status?"

    The Director appears to be hyperventilating and muttering "absolute lunatic" under her breath. Caster is to busy laughing his ass off to reply.

    "I'm fine, Senpai!" Mash. Just fought King Arthur in CQC and just as cheerful as ever. What a trooper.

    "We live, and are for the most part uninjured, but only ten of us survive." Assassin's report, on the other hand, is far more worrying.

    "Kid?" Oh, Cu's stopped laughing, even if he's still out of breath. "I take back every bad thing I said about you. You might be a coward, but you're my kind of crazy."

    "Thank you. I think. Help me patch up Berserker?"

    Together, we set about bandaging up her wounds.

    Wait. "If Saber's dead, and the Grail War's over, why haven't you disappeared?"

    He looks dumbstruck, then his face slowly shifts into a sort of dawning horror to match mine. Behind us, the rubble shifts.

    "Well done, Chaldea." The black knight calls, pulling her torso up out the rubble, Grail in hand and Excalibur Morgan nowhere to be seen. "Perhaps-"

    "OHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCKILLHERKILLHERNOW!"

    A barrage of magical blasts and thrown daggers slam into the corrupted King Arthur, who, still buried up to her waist in unstable rubble, is in no position to dodge them. She survives, but three more volleys finish the job.

    "Is she dead? Cu, poke her with a stick."

    "You poke her with a stick."

    She dissolves into golden light.

    "Oh thank God."

    I hunch over to take a few calming breaths. And when I look up-

    "Well hello, Olga-Marie."

    Holy shit.

    I had no idea Willy Wonka had an evil twin!
     
  28. Darko

    Darko Versed in the lewd.

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    Welp I hope he calls him Willy Wonka to his face.

    The reaction of everybody will be hilarious.
     
  29. Fellgar

    Fellgar Well worn.

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    Time to order a servant to manhandle the commander then~!
     
  30. Threadmarks: Chapter 15
    Charles Flynn

    Charles Flynn Know what you're doing yet?

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    Cu dissolves into golden light at my side as I gaze up at the atrociously dressed stranger who stands where Saber died, Grail in hand.

    "Lev!" Olga-Marie is downright overjoyed to see the man, though, so I suppose he's probably not all that bad. "Thank God you're here!"

    As she runs up to hug him, relief clear to see on her face, I sidle closer to Mash and whisper, "Okay who is this guy?"

    " Professor Lev Lainur Flauros," I desperately try not to snicker at the name. "he designed Chaldeas and was a huge help for the Director."

    "All right, just try to make contact, for the love of God, people, it's not rocket science-" Dr. Roman's glowing blue figure appears. "Oh. We're through. Sorry, Jerry, drinks are on me next time." A mumbeled reply is heard. "Yes, the bar wasn't bombed. Professor Flauros! Good to see you're still with us. I'm a bit surprised at your survival, though."

    "I could say the same of you, Roman. I thought for sure that you were in the infirmary when it was bombed." There's something suspicious about that sentence. Not sure what. "Olga-Marie! I'm surprised you made it. I thought for certain you had perished in the explosion."

    "Enough catching up," the Director says, drying her eyes. "Lev. Detain that man as a suspect in the bombings."

    I look around. Who is she pointing to- Oh. Ohhhhhh.

    "WHAT?"

    "He's the only person unaccounted for during the time of the briefing. Further, his first response upon meeting me was to point out his increased value as a Master with his former colleagues all deceased. Further, he already knew a great deal about Servants before I met him, and yet protested that he was an untrained novice in magecraft. Beyond even that, all his tactics and behaviors indicate a ruthlessness and disregard for others characteristic of sociopathy. He's incredibly suspicious, and by far the most likely suspect for the bombings." She lists off, her eyes focused on me with a cold rage.

    She thinks I'm the bomber? That- But-

    "Olga-Marie, calm down. I know for a fact that Mr. Flynn here isn't the bomber," Professor Lev assures her, laying a hand on her shoulder.

    Thank God! A voice of reason! Fashion sense aside, he really is a good person!

    "How can you be so sure?"

    "Because I am."

    ...I could be wrong.

    "What?"

    "I planted the bombs, Olga!" He smiles as he says this, but it's no insane grimace. No, he smiles like a man discussing the weather with an old friend.

    "No. That's impossible! You built Chaldeas! Why would you destroy it?"

    "Because my King commanded it, of course! It's nothing personal, I assure you, but, for our plans to proceed, Chaldea had to die! Bit of an embarrassment, really, considering I built the damn place!" He chuckles affably at that.

    Alright, enough of that. "Assassin!"

    "Now that's not very nice." He snaps his fingers and-

    When my ears stop ringing and my eyesight recovers from the glare, I see the patch of smoking glass. And Assassin's nine bodies.

    "So, you mentioned plans?" He's clearly a monster, and we're probably all fucked, but maybe he's got Bond Villain Syndrome. Not likely, but not all that many other options.

    "Well- Hm. Perhaps it's best I show you!" He waves his Grail hand, and a red rift opens in the air. Within it, the same burning room I ran into to save Mash what seems like a lifetime ago crackles cheerfully. "Ta-da!"

    "That's Chaldeas!" Olga-Marie shouts. "But- It's all red! How? How can all of human history have turned red?"

    "Because we set it on fire, dear girl!" He says it in the manner of someone pointing out the obvious to a child. "Why, I dare say that as of this moment, not a single being lives, or has ever lived, on all the Earth! Rather solid work, I must say."

    Oh God. My dogs! And my family!

    "Why? Why would you do this?" Roman asks, looking as horrified as I feel right now.

    "Not a clue. Orders from the top, you know? Boss being unreasonable and all that. To tell the truth, I wasn't expecting either of you to live, Charles, Romani. Or Mash, for that matter. It's been quite a while since I was last surprised by something, (the boss' new pyromania kick being the last such occasion,) so I think I'll let you all live for a little bit longer. Consider it my gift to you."

    I glare at him. I don't I've ever wanted somebody dead this much in my entire life.

    "And as for you, Olga, why, you surprised me most of all!" she barely reacts as he turns to face her, staring numbly at him with shock and betrayal written clearly across her face. "After all, I put that bomb right under your seat!"

    "It's... not true, Lev. It's not true. Please. Don't- Don't-" she's crying, now, tears streaming down her face.

    "But, your spirit got swept up in that last Rayshift, and you managed to live on a bit longer. An impossibility. An error! A one-in-a-kind miracle, beyond all expectations! That's my Olga-Marie." He smiles, and it's all the crueler for its kindness. "So, as a reward, I'll give you what humans have chased after for centuries! Eternal life!" Some unseen force seizes the Director, dragging her up to the rift. And Chaldeas. "I mean, sure, it'll be full of unending pain as you hang for all eternity, incapable of even screaming, but beggar's can't be choosers!"

    I can't save her. One command seal. No Servants capable of countering his Magecraft with Caster gone. What Servants I do have injured and exhausted. I can't save her.

    "Please! Somebody! Help me! I don't want to die like this! Please! I haven't accomplished anything! I've never been praised for everything! Please!"

    I close my eyes, and try to drown out the screams. They rise, desperate pleas, grieving wails, all reaching a crescendo in one final, agonized, cry.

    And then there is silence.

    "Huh. Well, there's Olga-Marie taken care of. Good kid. She'll really go far." Lev's still grinning like he's everyone's favorite Uncle. "Well, best of luck clearing the other Singularities, champ. See ya when I'm ordered to kill you!" The rift to Chaldeas closes, and a new one opens, leading into darkness. Lev strolls into it without a care in the world, tossing the Grail back over his shoulder as he does so, and the rift closes behind him.

    Mash picks it up, looking about as shocked as I feel.

    "G-Grail secured. Singularity resolved." Roman stammers over the comms. I don't blame him in the slightest. "Beginning Rayshift."

    And in a flash of light, we were off.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
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