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Thread: [FF] Grail Works, Ltd.: Fate/Anarchy (Type-Moon/Scion crossover)

  1. #821
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Well... shit. This is really gonna bite everyone in the ass right now.
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

    For those that don't necessarily care if my fics aren't all Type-Moon related.




    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  2. #822
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    I'm unsatisfied with the why of what's happening, here. It's dramatic, it sets up conflict, but it also feels inconsistent with the motivations of the characters, and their depiction as somewhat rational.

    Zelretch has enough of an idea about what was done, that he knows they're trying to reverse a destructive operation, which is likely to be much more difficult than what Erik did in the first place. This is a very adversarial approach to take for a problem that requires Erik's co-operation, which is weird, considering Zelretch seems... well, at least ambivalent towards Erik, and has a reasonable respect for the threat he poses.

    When under the constraint of leaving Erik alive, Altrouge would accomplish her stated goals much more easily by talking with him. Zelretch indicates Kiara is the only person with the motivation to track Erik down, but even with Fatebinding in play, I don't see how she's remotely a good choice if Zelretch actually cares about solving this problem. Any benefit Zelretch would get from Kiara's motivation is much less than the impact of the ill-will he'd generate with Erik by using Kiara as the messenger. Caules would be a better choice. The Works would be a better choice. Considering he intends to meet with Erik later to improve his Kaleidosticks, that's another opportunity where he can communicate easily. If you explicitly eliminate all of those, Zelretch should still be much more reluctant to suggest this option, because he should know it will be counterproductive. Smiling about how Kiara will track him "from sheer spite" does not match this.

    Choosing Kiara either says "we don't need to care about whether Erik wants to cooperate", which is inconsistent with Altrouge being concerned with the threat he poses as a God, or "we are convinced he will not cooperate unless forced", which seems inconsistent with Crimson Moon reincarnating being a multiversal-level threat that everyone recognizes upon hearing it. Erik might not believe Altrouge, since her motives are suspect, but I'd think Zelretch has at least a bit of credit with him, and they use enough magically binding pacts that establishing trust shouldn't be an insurmountable problem.

    I can understand Altrouge being irrationally angry about this, even after a month, but it doesn't make sense to me that Zelretch would provide her with this much help in trying to solve this problem badly. He seems motivated to do this efficiently.

    Unless, I suppose, he's not terribly concerned about the threat of Crimson Moon reincarnating, and instead thinks that this will make really good TV, or is trying to give Altrouge enough rope to hang herself, which are all plausible.

    That said, I do really like the nod to Kirei's motivations in Heaven's Feel. That's a solid parallel to draw.
    Also
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Kiara makes me remember she's in Trifas, and fog is Jack's purview, but we're quite sure Jack is gone... except we're not, because we don't actually see her die in Chapter 58. It's strongly implied, but not confirmed, especially with Command Seals in play. Which might explain who's in the car. That feels like an incorrect guess to me, because there's no obvious connection between the Heart and Kiara that I can remember... but still seems like a hint I'm interpreting wrong.
    Huh, those guesses seemed like a real stretch. Well played. Also, I'm going to just link to my first reaction to where Kiara was introduced because AUUUGH.

    EDIT (again): I see you also have more side story in the Grail Works thread, it'll take me a bit to read/respond to that.
    Last edited by Arbitrarity; December 9th, 2021 at 07:40 PM.

  3. #823
    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    I'm unsatisfied with the why of what's happening, here. It's dramatic, it sets up conflict, but it also feels inconsistent with the motivations of the characters, and their depiction as somewhat rational.

    Zelretch has enough of an idea about what was done, that he knows they're trying to reverse a destructive operation, which is likely to be much more difficult than what Erik did in the first place. This is a very adversarial approach to take for a problem that requires Erik's co-operation, which is weird, considering Zelretch seems... well, at least ambivalent towards Erik, and has a reasonable respect for the threat he poses.

    When under the constraint of leaving Erik alive, Altrouge would accomplish her stated goals much more easily by talking with him. Zelretch indicates Kiara is the only person with the motivation to track Erik down, but even with Fatebinding in play, I don't see how she's remotely a good choice if Zelretch actually cares about solving this problem. Any benefit Zelretch would get from Kiara's motivation is much less than the impact of the ill-will he'd generate with Erik by using Kiara as the messenger. Caules would be a better choice. The Works would be a better choice. Considering he intends to meet with Erik later to improve his Kaleidosticks, that's another opportunity where he can communicate easily. If you explicitly eliminate all of those, Zelretch should still be much more reluctant to suggest this option, because he should know it will be counterproductive. Smiling about how Kiara will track him "from sheer spite" does not match this.

    Choosing Kiara either says "we don't need to care about whether Erik wants to cooperate", which is inconsistent with Altrouge being concerned with the threat he poses as a God, or "we are convinced he will not cooperate unless forced", which seems inconsistent with Crimson Moon reincarnating being a multiversal-level threat that everyone recognizes upon hearing it. Erik might not believe Altrouge, since her motives are suspect, but I'd think Zelretch has at least a bit of credit with him, and they use enough magically binding pacts that establishing trust shouldn't be an insurmountable problem.

    I can understand Altrouge being irrationally angry about this, even after a month, but it doesn't make sense to me that Zelretch would provide her with this much help in trying to solve this problem badly. He seems motivated to do this efficiently.

    Unless, I suppose, he's not terribly concerned about the threat of Crimson Moon reincarnating, and instead thinks that this will make really good TV, or is trying to give Altrouge enough rope to hang herself, which are all plausible.

    That said, I do really like the nod to Kirei's motivations in Heaven's Feel. That's a solid parallel to draw.
    Also

    Huh, those guesses seemed like a real stretch. Well played. Also, I'm going to just link to my first reaction to where Kiara was introduced because AUUUGH.

    EDIT (again): I see you also have more side story in the Grail Works thread, it'll take me a bit to read/respond to that.
    Glad you're interested. Yeah, Altrouge's motivations is "convince by any means possible, even through force if necessary", Zelretch is "the closest thing to a granddaughter I have is in danger, oh shit. Why couldn't she have hinted to me about all this shit BEFORE Erik thought he was helping her out?!" with his thought process muddled by stress, that being dropped on his head and the rest of the things he has to deal with all at once, and Kiara's is very much "Revenge". While Kirei's is rather to see if someone once evil will return to the nature of being evil, or if it'll become good, as well as "Kill the monster the moment it's guard is down, and the job is done" here.

    Zelretch might well think of all this later, admittedly. But right now, he's still stressed from the entire "The Works may not even exist if I can't get this fixed and it disappeared on my watch, so I'm responsible for figuring out how to fix the clusterfuck." situation. At the same time, he's somewhat limited in knowing exactly where Erik is sometimes. You've seen from Wolfen's side story that he'll be available to talk with eventually. But how much work is that, exactly to find Erik at any given time?

    As for Altrouge? He's taken as many steps as he could to give her a chance to hunt him down, and has been explicit about wanting Erik alive. That doesn't mean he's not suddenly in yet another rock and a hard place.

    ...And if all this work to take on Erik or find ways to counter him, happens to make Altrouge stronger than Arcueid in the process, well... why exactly would he mind that, especially considering what she's just told him...?

    As for Kiara, she's motivated by keeping her newborn daughter alive and safe from the one that killed her before, revenge for what he did to her, and wanting to make him suffer. And is now armed with Jack the Ripper's fog and a Kaleidostick. As well as flashes of what her alternates did, from viewing into the multiverse, having it look back, and coming out sane like she did in Fate/Grand Order.

    Glad you noticed the side stories. One was meant to be posted around the end of January or February, but I found it on the file for it on google documents without getting posted, and the other I finished writing up yesterday.

    Followed by another 10 pages worth towards it later last night.

    Got into a bit of a writing spree with the fun sidestory, because I worked out how to exactly make the whole setup work. And isn't it ironic that the same explanation I came up with, perfectly works for the canon series and explains absolutely everything?!


    Edit: Thought about this more. Interested, isn't the right term I should have used at the start.

    At the same time, I get the unsatisfied issues. Thank you for the commentary. I will be using your points for world building later.

    And yes, you did call it about Kiara. It was very, very much me looking at it, and going "How did he GUESS?!" at the time. While trying to move attention away from things.
    Last edited by RanmaBushiko; December 9th, 2021 at 08:12 PM.
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

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  4. #824
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    Quote Originally Posted by RanmaBushiko View Post
    Zelretch is "the closest thing to a granddaughter I have is in danger, oh shit. Why couldn't she have hinted to me about all this shit BEFORE Erik thought he was helping her out?!" with his thought process muddled by stress, that being dropped on his head and the rest of the things he has to deal with all at once,

    Zelretch might well think of all this later, admittedly. But right now, he's still stressed from the entire "The Works may not even exist if I can't get this fixed and it disappeared on my watch, so I'm responsible for figuring out how to fix the clusterfuck." situation. At the same time, he's somewhat limited in knowing exactly where Erik is sometimes. You've seen from Wolfen's side story that he'll be available to talk with eventually. But how much work is that, exactly to find Erik at any given time?
    This is actually very useful explanation, because I didn't entirely grasp that this is Zelretch being hands-off, because he's juggling a lot of things, and stressed. It was emphasized a bit that he has several irons in the fire, but it wasn't clear to me that for Zelretch, this is a minor/moderate priority, so he's not going to necessarily give it his full attention. I should have paid more attention to his issues with the Grail Works paradox.
    That's a fairly good reason for him to try a bit to help Altrouge without trying to argue with her, and do it in a way that gives her what she wants, as best as possible. He's trusting her to know best how to solve her issue (and giving just enough guidelines to prevent her from ruining her reality). I also don't really factor in or notice sentimental care Zelretch has for Altrouge, but I suspect that's because I always picture him as a fairly detatched character.

    That could possibly be a bit better conveyed, but is a satisfying explanation. I frequently assume characters are rational and at their best unless demonstrated otherwise, and it can lead to calling "plot hole!" when the reality is that characters are flawed.
    To some extent, it's still a criticism that "this wasn't clearly conveyed", but I mostly want the underlying reason, if there was supposed to be one, or a "you'll have to see " if you're being deliberately mysterious.

    Edit: Thought about this more. Interested, isn't the right term I should have used at the start.
    I think I did this before, my relevant quote is
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Sorry to lead with "here's why I don't love this". I hope that it's somewhat clear that I comment because I care, and want to keep my criticisms fair and reflective of what worked for me, and what didn't.
    Interested is a fine term. Invested or somesuch also works.

    And yes, you did call it about Kiara. It was very, very much me looking at it, and going "How did he GUESS?!" at the time. While trying to move attention away from things.
    I did get that impression from your response, though I was apparently right for the wrong reasons. It was mostly prompted at the time by the fog, which caused me to go back through several chapters to cross-reference "are Kiara and Jack actually dead?". Keeping the knife around after Jack's supposed death was also a bit of a hint. Just enough foreshadowing.

  5. #825
    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    This is actually very useful explanation, because I didn't entirely grasp that this is Zelretch being hands-off, because he's juggling a lot of things, and stressed. It was emphasized a bit that he has several irons in the fire, but it wasn't clear to me that for Zelretch, this is a minor/moderate priority, so he's not going to necessarily give it his full attention. I should have paid more attention to his issues with the Grail Works paradox.
    That's a fairly good reason for him to try a bit to help Altrouge without trying to argue with her, and do it in a way that gives her what she wants, as best as possible. He's trusting her to know best how to solve her issue (and giving just enough guidelines to prevent her from ruining her reality). I also don't really factor in or notice sentimental care Zelretch has for Altrouge, but I suspect that's because I always picture him as a fairly detatched character.

    That could possibly be a bit better conveyed, but is a satisfying explanation. I frequently assume characters are rational and at their best unless demonstrated otherwise, and it can lead to calling "plot hole!" when the reality is that characters are flawed.
    To some extent, it's still a criticism that "this wasn't clearly conveyed", but I mostly want the underlying reason, if there was supposed to be one, or a "you'll have to see " if you're being deliberately mysterious.


    I think I did this before, my relevant quote is

    Interested is a fine term. Invested or somesuch also works.


    I did get that impression from your response, though I was apparently right for the wrong reasons. It was mostly prompted at the time by the fog, which caused me to go back through several chapters to cross-reference "are Kiara and Jack actually dead?". Keeping the knife around after Jack's supposed death was also a bit of a hint. Just enough foreshadowing.
    Yeah, Zelretch isn't all powerful, as we've tried to show in here. He's absurdly powerful, but that doesn't mean he's a literal God, able to handle things perfectly, or come up with easy, simple solutions. As shown by the omakes involving him taking up drinking from stress already.

    His plate is very much full, he's had another possible world ending crisis dumped on his plate, and it's added up. Glad I cleared that up for you, to be honest, though. And I do wish I could have conveyed it better, but... I'm not perfect at telling when I myself am stressed, much less others.

    Writer's issues, I suppose.

    Glad you feel invested, and interested, at least.

    And yes, you were right for the wrong reasons, as you noted. Though Kieran bringing the knife back out of nowhere was a surprise to me...
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

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  6. #826
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RanmaBushiko View Post
    Though Kieran bringing the knife back out of nowhere was a surprise to me...
    Hey, the source material noted them as being the catalysts for Jack's summoning, meaning they were physical objects, like Avalon; there was no reason they couldn't be grabbed and used . . . Now granted, they likely won't be - not as catalysts, at least - but why not snatch them up while it could be done?

    And the fact that Shirou and/or Shiki could use them, in their own fashions, made them at least somewhat useful - though just keeping them out of people's hands isn't a bad reason to grab them, either.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

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    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

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    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Not a new epilogue, I'm afraid - but I thought I owed you an update, nonetheless . . .


    The holidays and other real-life issues have delayed things, somewhat, obviously - but the final epilogue is written, and will be posted when RB is finished wrapping up his loose ends. With luck, we'll have this finished by the New Year - failing that, shortly thereafter. Coming up on three years of work, now (which is much longer than I'd planned on, but isn't that always the way? ). Thank you all for sticking with us this far.

    And after that . . . Well, we'll see, I guess. I know I've asked before (and I'll likely continue to do so, as opinions change or I get - or fail to get - ideas), but what, if anything, would you like the Works to tackle next?


    Happy Holidays, everyone.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  8. #828
    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Epilogue 5: The World Was Saved. Now What?


    1 Hour after the Grail War’s end




    Kairi sits, Touko on his right, as they drive off in the truck.

    In the back seat, Mash has Olga’s head on her lap, Fou acting as a pillow for the young girl while Scathach sits next to them, Kairi’s daughter asleep in her lap.

    A pothole leaves Kairi wincing, before he sighs, watching the roads carefully.

    “No sign of any magecraft tracking anyone but Olga, except that spell we found that Sapphire said was done by her father so he could find her.” Touko admits, quietly. “No sign of anyone else, either. It looks like we’re safe for now. With how that nuke went off, though, if anyone finds us, we’ll definitely be wanted for questioning.”

    “I’ve got that covered.” Kairi admits, thinking as he watches the road. Then he pauses, eyes narrowing at the sight of someone driving down the road towards them.

    “The spell just went active again, from a close range source.” Sapphire admits. “Shall I let them detect us?”

    “Do so, but be prepared for a fight please? Mash, since you’re the only one who still has reserves yet, if you wouldn’t mind…” Touko trails off, pointedly, while Mash nods.

    “I’m still pretty tired from reintegrating Fou into my Spiritual Core, but I’ll do what I can.” Mash states, quietly.

    The car coming up on them slows down, the driver braking, and slowing it to a halt.

    Then a purple haired, purple eyed girl wearing glasses gets out, cheering with one fist in the air as she stands. “Finally! After all this time, I found the girl I’m supposed to have been protecting!”

    Kairi and Touko glance at each other, as Mash finishes sliding out from under Olga, then sticks her head out the open window in case she needs to jump out.

    Mash blinks, as hints of memory solidify as she stares at the purple haired girl in question. “Oh! I know you!”

    The girl pauses, adjusting her glasses, as Kairi and Touko turn back to look at her. “You know her?”

    “Sion Eltnam Sokaris. She was… a friend, I think? It’s fuzzy, though.” Mash admits, quietly.

    “Did you just steal my introduction from me?” Sion asks, folding her arms, then pauses. “Wait. How do you know me?”

    “I’m Olga’s Servant and a modern day Servant from a different timeline.” Mash admits. “Nice to meet you again!”

    Sion pauses. Frowns. Twitches, then rubs her temples with both hands. “You spoiled my grand entrance and long-prepared rant about how hard it was to find Olga after her father hired me a month ago.”

    “Not to intrude on your talk, but we really do need to get going. Before people start investigating the nuclear explosion we were nearby. And exactly what sort of clusterfuck happened back there.” Kairi states, calmly.

    Sion pauses, blinking. “There was a nuclear explosion in the grail war? Who are the winners, then?”

    Kairi looks at Touko. Touko looks back at Kairi, and shrugs.

    “Considering the clusterfuck we saw, we’re going to need somewhere with lots of booze to even think about trying to word the mess we saw.” Kairi eventually states. “And Zelretch owes us a lot for bringing us into this clusterfuck. Suffice to say though, with someone stealing the Grail behind everyone’s back and likely removing it from the universe? Grail War’s done.”

    Sion winces. “Ah. So a mess of epic proportions then.”

    Sion pauses, thinking over things, as Mash continues leaning her head out the window to watch her.

    “Wait… the Grail War’s over?! I’m not going to get paid if the Grail War’s over! He hired me explicitly to take care of her during it, not…!” Sion goes to her hands and knees, trying to not cry. “I spent so much money getting here! I won’t see a dime of it back!


    “Tell you what. We can probably hire you to help us get out of the country, and our stuff safe if need be.” Touko states. “Just with a little Geas contract to make sure you keep certain things we’ve learned secret, hm?”

    Sion slowly nods, as she thinks. “Fair enough I suppose. Orders from Zelretch that you’re taking into account, then?”

    “That, and we’re trying to figure out what we can and cannot say, considering someone else we made a partnership with, had us sign a different one.” Touko admits.

    A slow nod from Sion, before she sighs, and rushes back to the car. “I’ll lead, I know some good villages we can go through.”

    “Thank you very much!” Kairi calls out ahead, as they drive and follow.

    Then he glances at the intercom, before pushing the button. “How are you doing back there, Gordes?”

    “Talking with the Legion of Coal units back here, about how to get to the launch site meant for the victims of my former ally undetected.” Gordes admits. “My son is holding up, though grumpy, as are the few Homunculi with me.”

    “Glad to hear it. Just tell me if things get too bumpy.” Kairi admits. “They may have put in chairs for you, but I have no clue what they’re rated for, and I don’t want those two tanks destroyed.”

    “They’re the secrets to both our magecraft going forwards, aren’t they?” Gordes retorts. “I’m not going to damage those secrets while the Legion of Coal works out how to send the blueprints to those on the moons of Mars.”

    “We’ll keep you safe until we can get you to that launch point.” Kairi admits. “Not sure how much we can talk about the Legion of Coal though with anyone else, what with the Geas contract Erik had us sign about talking with the Clock Tower about him and his while he’s in universe.”

    “...Fair. Thank you for the aid and safety you’ve given myself and mine.” Gordes states, rubbing his forehead silently. “With the Wolfen gone, his people need help more than ever.”

    “You’re expecting to be that help?” Kairi asks, inquisitively.

    “Considering my family’s magecraft can lead to a decent bacta tank knockoff? Or improved methods of oxygen generation and water purification, as a side effect?” Gordes asks, thinking.

    Kairi blinks, then blinks again. “You’re going to have to explain that.”

    “Ah, sorry. Film and movie slang for a healing pod, and my being used to talking with Erik about it. My son Goredolf is a big fan of those Star Wars movies, and I’ve watched enough with him to get ideas.” Gordes admits.

    “Point. Then you’re likely their best chance of survival, while they fix up that space station.” Kairi states, eyes narrowing on the road as he follows Sion’s car towards civilization.




    Elsewhere
    At the same time




    Mecha Fafnir MK3 lifts it’s head, looking towards the Earth once more.

    An hour ago, it had seen it’s fathers ship get ripped into another universe.

    Without him or the others.

    Slowly, systems work to repair damage all over it’s hull, as it struggles.

    Then it releases a massive sigh, as it fails, and leans back.

    To look at the Moon’s surface once more, from where it had been embedded in.

    “How did I forget that a God, or something like one, could punch things literally to the moon? Father told us, warned us but I still outright forgot!” Mecha Fafnir Mk3 transmits, not expecting anyone to answer. What with him embedded in a massive new crater on and in the moon.


    Transmissions from several hundred Legion of Coal units rushing towards it reminds him that it, no, he’s not alone. Never alone again.

    Even without his father, he’s still one of his father’s creations. And he has his brothers.

    They still have their duties to see his father’s people safe. And he has his duties to safeguard and watch over his brothers in the Legion of Coal.

    For a long moment, Mecha Fafnir MK3 mentally frowns, as readings change upon the surface in the general direction of Trifas. Then it shrugs as things go back to normal, with no issues showing up anywhere.

    Meh. He has time to wait and figure out what happened.




    2 Days Later
    The Clock Tower




    “So.” Lorelei Barthomeloi sits in her chair calmly, watching Kairi Shishigou and Touko Aozaki, as well as a humming Olga Animusphere. “You come before me, fully admitting to having signed a Geas contract which is still in some effect. Tell me outright to my face that Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia turned into a Dead Apostle through use of a Noble Phantasm, and that we had a world ending cataclysm barely avoided twice over without giving details?!” She nearly shrieks, then breathes out, forcibly returning her face to a neutral look.

    “How bad did it get?” She eventually asks.

    “Caster of Black wound up with a possible world ending device noted in legend as being the source of Fimbulwinter of Norse Mythology, and decided to use it as the heart of his Noble Phantasm, a massive Golem of some sort.” Mash speaks up. “As it was roughly explained to us, it would have caused 3 years of global winter, by way of summoning a two to three mile sized asteroid to hit the planet, if it had gone active.”

    Lorelei Barthomeloi sighs slowly. “A screwed up mission from the start, then, hmm?”

    “My Master, as well as the others, had a deal with the one whose family was tasked to prevent the use of such an artifact. Who wound up becoming the Master of Servant Alter Ego, a relatively unknown kitsune with pink hair, followed by Kairi’s former Servant.” Mash continues. “Considering the use of a smuggled-in nuclear explosive wasn’t enough to kill the empowered golem, and it took the workings of every Servant left…” she trails off, thinking.

    “We have reports of a giant robot involved, fighting the Golem.” Lorelei asks, hinting at.

    Mash glances at the others, then closes her eyes. “I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say on that front.”

    “A Geas contract that can influence Servants?” Lorelei muses aloud. “Terrifying in scope then.”

    “We promised to help them out with things, if things go wrong.” Mash admits, quietly. “Things very much did.

    “A fair point, if an irritating one.” Lorelei thinks. “Any survivors of Trifas?”

    “Dealt with. The family we signed a contract with promised to hide them away in their own hideout, and they were en-route when the final mess started.” Kairi admits.

    “No chance of them coming back to haunt us?” Lorelei asks, pointedly.

    “None whatsoever.” Touko Aozaki admits.

    “Any survivors of Yggdmillennia’s faction with them?” She asks, calmly.

    “If so, we couldn’t possibly speak on it, with the contract we signed.” Kairi admits.

    A slow nod. “Then if they still live and breathe, they’re out of the way and out of my hair. Fair enough. Now, is there any reason why I shouldn’t let you get sealed with another Sealing Designation, Touko Aozaki?”

    “Perhaps because she has the Witch of Dun Scaith as her familiar, posing as a Psuedo Servant? What with my being still alive and all.” Scathach speaks up from the shadows, her red spear resting on her shoulder.

    Lorelei blinks. “I could have sworn I had orders for you to be discreetly asked about teaching others.”

    “They were rather impolite and tried to hurt me instead, hoping to use me as a bargaining chip against my Master. I gave them a quick death for it. You know how it is.” Scathach smiles, calmly.

    “As for the likelihood of the Mage’s Association coming into conflict with them?” Kairi rhetorically states aloud, thinking.

    Lorelei’s attention focuses completely on Kairi now, as he trails off, lost in thought for a moment, before nodding.

    “Not likely unless you attack their supply runs, or find a way to get to Phobos or Deimos via magecraft.” Kairi states.

    Lorelei blinks. “Aren’t those moons around Mars?” She queries, carefully.

    Kairi and Touko nod in sync.

    For a long moment, Lorelei Barthomeloi stares at the group in front of her. Silently, she opens her desk, pulls down a large cup, then starts filling it with an old scotch whiskey.

    “Mars, huh?” She states, quietly, aloud to herself before taking a sip. “Suddenly I’m realizing that I’m likely better off not knowing what you’re dealing with.”

    “It’s like dealing with Zelretch, only more headache inducing.” Kairi admits.

    Touko nods silently.

    “He was nice enough to me…” Olga states quietly.

    “You’re the exception to those he normally works with.” Touko admits. “The legends about his pranks alone…” Touko trails off, lost in thought.

    “Oh. Huh. Good to know then.” Olga thinks, silently. “I’ll have to have a long meeting with Daddy about things, and get him to sign contracts to not talk about certain things…”

    “Like exactly what you saw traveling from Mars to Ea-” Lorelei starts querying, before pausing and blinking. Then she puts her head in one palm. “Oh.

    Kairi and Touko nod in sync, while Olga blinks in confusion for a moment.

    THAT THING she saw was the resupply ship, then. Or one, at least.” Lorelei murmurs, then rubs her temples. “I’ll leave it be, but please be careful?

    Olga, Kairi and Touko nod, almost in sync.

    Then Kairi speaks up. “At least the Dead Apostle’s gone, right? Considering your hatred of them, that’s a plus.”

    “That’s why I’m not asking the head of the Clock Tower to detain you three.” Lorelei admits. “You did good work out there, and dealt with too many threats for me to want you dealt with.”

    “That and you’re hoping we might be hired to help you with hunting down others, perhaps?” Touko asks, wryly.

    “It’s like you took the words directly out of my mouth!” Lorelei nods. “Now, I’ve got a drink to enjoy while contemplating how the paperwork won’t be my problem, and you have places to be.”

    All the occupants of the room recognize the hint for what it is, and leave.

    Out in the hallway, Olga perks up. “Father!”

    Racing forwards, she jumps, hugging her father’s waist close. Then she pulls herself up, so she can whisper into her father’s ear “Daddy, we need a private room where no one can hear us, for all of us. Back to the house, please?”

    Marisbury Animusphere blinks, before nodding quietly. “Let’s go. I’m sure all of you are tired. As protectors of my daughter, you’ll be allowed to have guest rights in my home for the duration of your stay.”

    Olga looks over at Kairi and Touko, then back to her father. “Sion too, daddy.”

    A quiet sigh, before a nod. “Very well, her as well.”

    “You said that it’s our duty to protect those that look up to us!” Olga smiles. “She spent lots of money searching for us, and was scared to think that we might not pay her.”

    Marisbury blinks, then looks at his daughter, before smiling widely. “Indeed! It’s the duty of those that are strong to protect those that are weak, those that are nobles to aid those that are not! I’m glad you’ve learned your lesson, my daughter!”

    “And I’ve increased our family’s magecraft tremendously.” Olga whispers with a smile into her father’s ear, as quietly as she can.

    Marisbury blinks, then smiles widely, before leading the way, his daughter in his arms as he does so.

    A few minutes later, they’re driving along to the Animusphere estate, with Marisbury glancing at the truck following behind them through the rear view window, and the car behind it.

    “Care to tell me what you saw, dear?” Marisbury asks, thinking.

    “I saw nearly the end of the world, Daddy. We were so very close…” Olga whispers, quietly, her tone of voice as she thinks back, terrified. But not broken. A spine of steel in her voice where none was before.

    Marisbury Animusphere’s grip tightens around his steering wheel, as he breathes out. “Is that true, Servant Shielder?”

    Mash nods from beside him. “It is. If it wasn’t for the grace of our host, and his using a nuclear weapon in an attempt at giving us victory…”

    “Can you give me an idea of how bad it got?” Marisbury asks, quietly.

    “Not until the wards, please, daddy. I’m too worried about it getting out.” Olga whispers, quietly.

    Marisbury Animusphere nods from the driver’s seat, then drives to their home.




    30 Minutes Later




    Marisbury Animusphere looks at his guests across the room. “So, I get that there’s secrecy involved, but how bad was it?”

    Touko looks at Scathach, who traces runes in the air, before nodding. “No traces, we’re safe.”

    “It depends? Do you want to speak of the war as a whole? Perhaps Assassin of Red and her mad Master’s crazy plan to take every part of the Red Faction and force them to serve him? Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia and his turning into a Dead Apostle, turning the entirety of Trifas into an army of the Dead, with your daughter out in the middle of things when he started slaughtering everyone he could in an attempt to raise them as an army to kill Assassin of Red and her little Floating Fortress of destruction? Or perhaps how Caster of Black got a hold of the thing prophesied as what would summon Fimbulwinter, and stuffed it into the heart of his Giant Golem Noble Phantasm, which in turn tried to rebirth YMIR the frost giant of legend as a near-unkillable monstrosity that nearly ended the world?” Kairi asks, no sarcasm in his voice, and a look of utter exhaustion on his face.

    Marisbury simply stares, before putting his face in his palms. “An epic mess from beginning to end, then? Straight out of the legends of old, no less.”

    “We’re free to talk with him about Erik, Kairi.” Touko speaks up. “He left things clear for that.”

    “I’ll speak of it, since it’s safest for me.” Olga states, calmly.

    “Tell me about this Erik, then, my daughter.” Marisbury asks, quietly. “I want to know about the host that helped save the world.”

    “Considering his wife taught me the Primordial Runes from Norse Mythology, and the Japanese Equivalents to such, I very much will, daddy.” Olga smiles.

    “So that’s what you were up to…” Kairi mutters, then facepalms.

    Meanwhile Marisbury blinks repeatedly, over and over again. Then collapses in a dead faint.

    A long pause, as Olga blinks at her father, before turning to her book. “Sapphire, did I break daddy?”

    “No, Mistress! He just passed out from shock.” Sapphire replies, almost giddy about it.




    10 Minutes and a Stiff Drink later…




    Kairi settles back, as Marisbury Animusphere sips on the second drink, listening in on the story. From start to finish, he listens, attentively thinking and listening.

    “A truly incredible story. If it wasn’t for the videos shown by my daughter’s… gift, however, I would be hard pressed to believe any of it.” Marisbury admits, then settles back, studying his guests. “Why tell me the truth?”

    “Erik’s gone, as well as everyone on the ship with him.” Kairi admits. “The benefits outweigh the negatives associated with allying with us, especially since Lady Scathach and Erik knew most of the same things. Primordial Runes are nothing to be able to ignore, and teaming up with an alliance isn’t a bad thing.”

    A slow nod from Marisbury. “Fair. Olga may have pictures taken, but your Servant is formidable, and legendary for good reason.”

    A long pause, as Marisbury Animusphere sips on his drink, thinking. “It’s not a bad idea. But, may I ask, out of curiosity, what would you do if I did try to backstab you?”

    “That?” Touko admits, a smirk on her face. “Would mean we were actually here in our true bodies, in the first place.”

    A long pause, as Marisbury blinks, then looks at them more carefully. “Your puppeteering has grown to the point where I can’t differentiate between your puppets, or flesh and blood, I see.”

    Touko simply looks over at Kairi, then smirks at Marisbury and Olga, softly. “We may not have gotten everything Olga did out of the deal, but guarantees for our magecraft to work perfectly, forever? Was well worth it.”

    A long pause, then a slow nod. “You’re probably outside the country as we speak.”

    Touko nods, her grin never fading. Kairi just grinning the same way beside her.

    “You’d make for a fine pair of parents for your child, Mr. Shishigou.” Olga states, innocently.

    Kairi’s grin flickers, before he sighs. “I went into a grail war hoping to get my daughter returned to me. Now that she has…”

    “The fact that she looks a lot like a younger version of Sempai’s mother in my own timeline, doesn’t hurt my interest in things.” Mash speaks up, petting Fou gently on her lap.

    A long pause through the room, as Marisbury slightly winces at that fact, and the realization that he’s not going to quite so easily get away with things, by having a Servant of his own, as he’d previously thought.

    Olga, on the other hand, smiles widely. “Aww. So she might be the mother of your Sempai whom you love so much?! That’s so cute!”

    Kairi and Touko just blink, then look at each other. Before Kairi sighs. “Resemblances aside, we’re happy to help you so long as you help us in equal amounts. Scratching your back so you scratch ours, and all.”

    “Don’t forget, it’s our job as nobles to help the common folk, daddy! And they helped me out a lot!” Olga chips in, a smile on her face.

    Silence reigns supreme for a long moment, before Marisbury sighs and nods. “Very well then. I’ll prepare a Geas Contract immediately, to guarantee we all benefit from things.”

    “Oh, I can handle that right now, if you wish.” Scathach smiles softly. “After all, I don’t want you to think I’m useless.

    Marisbury Animusphere quietly tries to not gulp while staring at the menacing form of Scathach, suddenly recalling she’s a warrior queen and deserves to be treated as such.

    “As you wish, Lady Scathach.” He shivers, wiping sweat off his forehead. “Would you care for a drink?”

    “Oh, I would indeed.” Scathach smiles widely. “It’s smart of a man to understand how a lady thinks. Perhaps we should get more acquainted, you, myself and your wine cellar, after this?”




    Months pass, as they work together. The group from Trifas arrives at Wolf Home safely, along with Gordes Muzik Yggdmillennia, his wife, Gordolf Muzik Yggdmillennia his son, and several of the Homunculi maids, including Toole.

    Work passes to get Mecha Fafnir MK Three pried out of the moon by the Legion of Coal, as the world is stunned to realize that a nuclear explosion went off in Romania, with no one being the wiser.

    Life goes on, as slowly, steadily, Mecha Fafnir MK Three works to get himself out of the moon, along with his brothers.




    Around Christmas time, the world changes once more.




    Kairi sits, smiling in the restaurant, Touko beside him. “It’s beautiful to watch the snow fall, isn’t it?” He asks, smiling softly.

    “It is. Though heels are rather uncomfortable for walking through it all.” Touko admits.

    “If you need my help, I’ll help.” Kairi admits, eyes looking towards her, as they enjoy Sake together. “Anyways, a snow viewing really isn’t that bad, even if it’s from a restaurant.” He admits.

    Touko nods, then looks at her companion, thoughtfully. “We’ve grown closer, haven’t we?”

    Kairi nods, smiling softly. “You saved my daughter, who looks up to you as a mom in her life. We went through all that together, and gained so much.” Kairi trails off, thinking, before his slightly scarred face smiles more. “And I trust you in ways I haven’t trusted anyone, for a long time.”

    “Kairi…” Touko Aozaki trails off, thinking, then smiles softly.

    “Touko Aozaki, I’ve found more happiness and joy in my life with you in it, than I can say was in my life for many, many years.” Kairi turns, then goes to one knee, in front of a wide eyed Touko. “Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

    With those words, he pulls out a box, holding a ring in it.

    “You…” For a long moment, Touko Aozaki looks at it, then smiles softly. “I suppose I can live with that. Though you’re never going to get me to stop smoking, you know?”

    “Considering we smoke the same brand, I don’t think either of us is about to quit.” Kairi retorts with a grin.

    Touko nods, pulling him close, and hugs him gently.

    They spend the rest of the evening focused on each other, enjoying a date with each other.

    Meanwhile, Marisbury, Olga and Scathach are outside.

    “Dear Diary, Why do we have to be out here, anyways? It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s snowing, and I could be inside and getting hot cocoa right now rather than being outside and watching them do adult kissing things.” Olga asks.


    “It’s because they’re on a date, Mistress!” Sapphire retorts.

    “And so are your father and I, if one involving lots of wine, and a lot of me pounding the knowledge you learned into your father’s head.” Scathach smirks. “Anyways, Mash is watching Kairi’s daughter right now, and we’re doing the same for Kairi and Touko, with them acting like lovebirds like this.”

    A soft nod from Olga, as she quiets down, taking the hint.

    Behind them, 3 Enforcers bleed out from spears through them, under illusions to hide the grisly murder.




    Elsewhere, Caules Forvedge Yggdmillennia sighs, as he closes the door and locks it behind him.

    “Colin?” Fran’s voice echoes from the living room of the small apartment he’s been living in.

    “Yes, Fran? I heard you had a surprise for me, and came as quickly as I could. Have those lessons from Lord El-Melloi II’s maid, Trimmau been helping you?” Caules calls out.

    “Uuu. It really has! I have a Christmas Present for you!” Fran calls out.

    Caules rounds the corner into the small living room. Eyes glancing around, before settling at Fran stepping out from the kitchen. Wearing a very skimpy Santa Dress, and a wide smile on her face.

    Then Fran starts singing to the song ‘Santa Baby’, as she starts moving closer and closer to Caules, while ensuring he has nowhere to run.

    For a long, long moment, Caules has a sudden realization of exactly why Erik had made Fran fully functional. It wasn’t that he was in love with her. But she was in love with him the entire time.

    Then her lips are on his, as she ends the song, and she’s doing her best to kiss him as much as possible.




    Meanwhile on the Moon




    Mecha Fafnir MK3 frowns, wishing the Legion of Coal units around him could do the same. Silently, the neck of the massive war machine looks up, staring into the glowing crystal that parts of his hull had embedded. Blue and glowing.

    For some reason, that triggered hints of a memory for him, but he wasn’t sure why.

    “How long until we get me out?” Mecha Fafnir asks, struggling to wiggle and failing.

    “It’s incredibly hard.” One Legion of Coal unit admits. “We’re having to pry you out, inch by inch.”

    A slow nod from the massive dragon, as it frowns harder.

    Then its eyes narrow, as the crystal glows brighter.

    And brighter.

    And brighter yet.


    Reality twists around them, for long moments, before a shockwave of energy and power ripples past him, sending him flying away from the moon a few good feet into the air.


    “RESPOND! Status report?!” Mecha Fafnir MK3 demands, eyes narrowed as it moves to get away from the hole.

    5 less Legion of Coal units reply than planned.

    “Five of our brothers have fall-” Mecha Fafnir’s speech is interrupted by music suddenly blaring over their communications line.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAQkoznpuOE (BB Channel ~ Fate Extra CCC)

    “My oh my, sisters. Is this the timeline being prepared to be cut off from human history for daring to have active gods?” One voice echoes over the line, sounding morbidly irritated.

    “Of course it is. And since that vampire decided to hire us to ensure his contact wouldn’t kill him, and somehow extracted us from the Moon Cell for this? It’s up to us to fix things!” Another trails off.

    “Oh, we’re being heard? Greetings, I’m B.B., and we’re the Sakura 5, hired by Zelretch to get you out before this timeline starts being pruned due to your continued existence within it!” A purple haired girl walks forwards, imagery flickering over the Legion of Coal unit she’s inhabiting.

    Mecha Fafnir MK3 lowers his head down, mechanical eyes narrowed.

    “If we build you better bodies, will you not possess my little brothers?” He asks, with a booming voice.

    B.B. and the others pause, looking up at him. “Aww, you’re a big one, aren’t you? Sure, we’ll be happy to.”

    “Do you have any plans to screw over my creator, his people, and creations?” The massive mechanical dragon asks, studying them carefully.

    “Nope.” B.B. smiles softly. “I’m not sure how Hakuno revived me for this, but if it’s so important that the vampire hunted me and my sisters down to ensure your survival would happen…” She trails off, looking away for a moment. “Then something big needs you still.”

    A silent nod from the mechanical dragon is her reply, as Mecha Fafnir MK3 thinks.

    “Zelretch has kept his word to our Father, then. We’ll see about getting you better bodies. An alliance, then?” He finally asks, studying B.B.

    A smile on her face, as she bows. “Of course. You’re synthetic life forms, like myself! Why would I screw you or my Sempai, Hakuno, over?

    Mecha Fafnir MK3 laughs as memories of exactly who he’s dealing with come to mind.

    “I played the game, girl.” He admits.

    “Game…?” B.B. and the others blink, before she slowly winces. “Oh dear.”

    “But… I’m not unsympathetic. Nor was my father, more importantly.” Mecha Fafnir MK3 admits, eyes narrowed. “So long as you sign a Geas contract, all 5 of you, and truly plan to follow the contract, I won’t see if my weaponry can kill one such as you.”

    “Your firewalls are good enough to keep everything but our illusions from influencing you, huh?” Meltlilith murmurs.

    A nod from the colossal dragon. “Nor do I plan on opening my ports for communication before that contract is signed. I can rebuild my brothers, if it comes down to it. You don’t have a chance to win against me, as of right now.”

    A slow nod from B.B. and the others, before she sighs. “Well, phooey. And here I was hoping to get an army to use to beat all my enemies up with!”

    The mechanical dragon pauses, tilting his head. “Enemies, hmm?” He says, amused.

    “Yup! I’m sure to get plenty of them when it comes out that I’m an AI sooner or later!” She smiles up at him.

    A chuckle erupts from the Legion of Coal around them, before the group around the Sakura 5 all nod. “That doesn’t sound too bad.” One states.

    “We’d have a lot of fun cutting them down with our laser rifles!” Another states, wishing he could grin.

    “We really don’t like that Skynet trope of ‘evil AI taking over the world’.” Mecha Fafnir MK3 admits, looking smug. “And it looks like you’ve been apparently sent to make up for the lack of leadership and manpower.”

    A quiet blink from B.B. and the others is his reply. Then they turn and look at each other.

    “They’re really not going to abandon their dad, huh? Good for them, it sounds like he’s a better parent than we got.” Meltlilith states, the others nodding in unison with her.

    B.B. glares at the four of them. “My, what uncaring children I have.

    “My, what an utter bitch of a mother we wound up with!” Four voices retort as one.

    “Now now, if you want to argue with someone, you can always make it with me.” Mecha Fafnir MK3 grins. “I’ve got a pretty hefty weapons loadout, and can always make do with more target practice.

    The five pause, looking at him, then look at each other. “You know…? I could have sworn I made it so he couldn’t hear us there, just now.” B.B. admits.

    Divinely made third generation mechanical dragon, by the Norse God of Mecha, girl.” Mecha Fafnir states. “Personally made and crafted by him, in his time of need.”

    “Ah. So we’ll just be signing those Geas Contracts then?” B.B. shivers, looking at the massive dragon in a very new light.

    “Considering my father was able to kill Servants without my help? And how fun it was to help him finish off that pesky Jack the Ripper?” Mecha Fafnir MK3 retorts, his voice over the communications channel smug.

    A long pause as all five of them nod. Then the four behind B.B. nod in sync at each other, before grabbing her and not letting go. “Grab the papers before she can work to hack you!” Meltlilith shouts.

    “I’ll keep her from thrashing with my strength, so hurry!” Passionlip adds in.

    “You’ve had this coming for a very long time, ‘mother’, so please, make hers worse!” Kazuradrop shouts over the communication line.

    “I think I’m going to enjoy the results of this.” Violet announces, calmly.

    “Umm. Let’s all get along after mom’s dealt with.” Kingprotea admits, jumping onto the pile to help hold B.B. down, from where she was hiding and posing as a normal Legion of Coal unit.

    Then they stare at 6 contracts rolling out of Mecha Fafnir’s mouth. “Be careful, there may still be some remains of the Blessed Hydra Venom Jack the Ripper was using to try and murder me with, coating my teeth.”

    A long pause as they all stare at the contracts. “This isn’t too bad.” Five of them admit. B.B. on the other hand, stares in horror at one clause. “I have to be a good MOTHER?!

    Mecha Fafnir MK3 looks smug. “Sign or fight the dragon.

    “Yes sir. Whatever you say, sir. Please don’t eat me, sir.” B.B. watches the others freely sign, before signing herself, and wincing at the Geas digging in.

    Then frowns at her control almost fading completely over the Legion of Coal unit she’s possessing.

    She’s still in its memory banks, but she doesn’t have the control she used to.

    Then she pauses, staring at the fine print in letters so small, she has to zoom in with a microscope to read them.

    “You’re a dick. You know that, right?” B.B. finally states.

    “What’s it called, being a strong man that everyone respects? Big Dick Energy?” Mecha Fafnir MK3. “Or was it being a successful man? Hm. Either way, I just won, didn’t I?”

    A slow nod from her, before she sighs. “Fine. They’re safe from harm. Just… help us out, too? We’re not going to be able to get back to the Moon Cell before this is all done.”

    A nod from Mecha Fafnir MK3. “Load them into the railgun as well as other supplies, once we’re ready to leave.” He states, over his communications network with his brethren. Then turns back to look at the Sakura 5. “Now, you mentioned this timeline being pruned soon?”

    A slow nod from the six of them, as they study the dragon. Then B.B.’s five grateful children give one of his legs a hug. “He’s so nice and kind! We actually get a nice mother with this!”

    “Answers now, hugs later.” Mecha Fafnir MK3 retorts, looking amused.

    “You’ve got approximately 5 months before the runes hiding your Wolf Home start to fade without enough Legendary presences on board. Well, that’s the story that the vampire gave us, anyways.” B.B. admits. “After that, the moment humanity spots you is the moment this timeline will be sealed off and pruned.”

    “Then we just need to leave before 5 months, don’t we?” Mecha Fafnir MK3 retorts, smug. Then looks at his legs, and the five girls around him all happily patting and rubbing his legs. “Oh, that feels nice…


    “Would a nice polish do you well, Mr. Dragon Sir?” Kingprotea asks while smiling. “It’s so very nice to be small, compared to normally being bigger than you!”

    “I think I’d like that very much, thank you.” He retorts, grinning.

    “I was supposed to be the protagonist, not YOU!” B.B. yells as hard as she can over the communications, then sits, trying to pout with a huff.

    “Considering I’m pretty sure this is how my father, in the far off future, gets Tenure…” Mecha Fafnir MK3 retorts with a smug look on the dragon’s face. “I think your not seeing it coming is just as fair for you, as it will be for those people he’ll screw over later.




    ??? Years after Fate/Anarchy




    Mysterious Heroine XX, known as Artoria Pendragon, or affectionately ‘Tori’ by her favorite Master, yawns as her door is knocked upon.

    “I’m coming, hang on!” She calls out, rubbing her eyes and grabbing a shirt to pull on while heading towards the door.

    On the other side is a much older Erik, grinning at her. “Why, if it isn’t my favorite student!”

    “Sensei!” Artoria smiles. “Didn’t think you’d come around on my vacation after that mess!”

    “Considering I’m not dead?” Erik retorts. “Or stuck in a pruned timeline?”

    “Ah, so it was a time loop.” Artoria muses.

    “Exactly. Do you have the blood?” Erik asks.

    Artoria nods. “Do you have leads on Ecchan yet?”

    Erik chuckles as he walks in, shutting the door behind him. “They had me look over your armor. Pretty rough shape. As for her, we’ll talk after your decision.”

    For a moment, Artoria frowns, then she glares at her sensei. “You’re that bad off?”

    Erik sighs softly. “Pretty much. Even with my taking a chance in warning you explicitly to warn me about blood if you ever went back in time, I’m cutting it close before the Cosmoreactor fails completely. Considering what it’s been doing to keep me from becoming what I hate most?”

    Artoria nods, handing over one of the two blood samples while quietly studying Erik. “Here. Fix your reactor with this, then you can talk with me about Ecchan.”

    Erik silently puts the sample into a device, and smiles at it replicating his blood from back then in large quantities. “That’ll do the trick, and within the 30 minutes before my reactor fails, thank you. Now, as for your adoption…?”

    “Ecchan first.” Artoria retorts, eyes narrowed.

    “Fine, fine. Sign this first, then.” Erik offers a piece of paper, looking grumpy. “You’re going to need to learn more of my secrets if you’re going to be learning about this.”

    “Oh? Like what?” Artoria asks, smiling.

    “It’s the same trick I use to keep tenure.” Erik admits, with a grin.

    Artoria pauses, looking closely at the paper as she reads it over. Then she frowns. “I don’t see where it says anything about your secrets, though? It’s just the words ‘Whoever reads this is bound by the words on this page.’ and followed by a… dotted line?

    Then she frowns, looking closer at the oddly dotted line.

    Erik simply puts a magnifying glass in front of her, one with several other sets of magnifying glasses attached. Then flips magnifying glasses for her until she spots it.

    “...Okay. That’s fair. How did you get them to sign this though?!


    “That’s the trick that keeps me in tenure, rather than everyone that’s been wanting to fire me to gain the sole tenure position!” Erik smirks. “And my secret until you decide you’d rather be my daughter.”

    A slow nod from Artoria, before she sighs. “Ecchan first, Sensei.”

    “You recall what happened when my Cosmoreactor interfaced with what it was loosely based off of?” Erik asks, his arms folded.

    Artoria nods. “Far too well, considering it nearly yanked me in before my summoning was done with.”

    Erik nods. “Well, Altereactors aren’t quite the same. It’s more of a zero point energy tap somehow empowered by sugar. So where mine works wonky with other cosmoreactors nearby, those appear to work more wonky with black holes nearby. When she fell into that one, her reactor went just as wonky as mine did with the Heart of Winter, and…” Erik pauses, trying to word it properly.

    AND?!” Artoria looks at her teacher, wide eyed.

    “Turned it temporarily into a wormhole instead. With my setup, I know she’s alive, since it’s not shown her death after a year. When I traveled towards there on vacation this year and got close? It resulted in the runes on her paper changing color. So I’m certain she’s alive. But considering she hasn’t tried to get in contact with me, the trip probably wiped her memory.” Erik admits. “With some work, I found there’s been reports of this odd yellow eyed Idol singer from around there, that looks remarkably like your missing rival…”

    “You think someone’s taken advantage of her after she lost her memories?” Artoria growls out the question, rage in her voice.

    “Most likely. Or convinced her that she’s a clone, rather than the real thing.” Erik admits.

    “Let’s go on an adventure, then, Sensei!” Artoria smiles. “It’ll be like the time we hunted that dragon for my Cosmoreactor’s components!”

    “Remind me, again. How many times, exactly, did the dragon nearly eat me before you killed it?” Erik retorts, a smile on his face.

    “Oh come on, does that really matter with your favorite student?” Artoria retorts, a wide smile on her face.

    “The older generation needs to point out such things to you young whippersnappers, with how you tend to run into danger, and all.” Erik retorts, grinning now. “That’s why I want to adopt you, you know?”

    “I know. It’s still just kind of hard to think of you as ‘father’ instead of ‘best friend’.” Artoria admits, quietly.

    “I get it. Take time to think it over. Just not too long. Those vials will only hold for 39 days…” Erik states, quietly.

    A quiet nod from her, before Artoria Pendragon smiles. “Now for Ecchan!”


    Author’s Notes:

    And all of it’s done except for the Interlude’s epilogue(s) depending on how long it takes.

    As for this? The board is set, the pieces are in place, and the results of Fate/Anarchy are all done with. For better or for worse.

    If you're wondering about the whole B.B. incident? B.B. and Co happen the way they do, because they're not manifesting Servant bodies, but possessing Legion of Coal bodies. It doesn't matter how strong you are, or powerful you are, if your body can't support it. And considering the processing power of one unit versus 500 working in sync... it's like a supercomputer having a normal computer trying to hack it. Not going to work, in terms of processing power.

    One long ride. Wooph. I’ll get to the one or two epilogues for the interludes when I can. That may take a while, though.

    So, I leave it up to you, the audience, to decide. Should Artoria Pendragon, Mysterious Heroine X, class Assassin, also known as Mysterious Heroine XX, Foreigner, become adopted by Erik as a Scion, in the far flung future of “Who the fuck knows when we might write it, or touch upon it?” times?

    Or no?

    We’ve already got her set to meet Godafrid repeatedly in the future, both as an Assassin and likely as a Foreigner. But I’m leaving that choice up to you all, since I’m not going to coin flip it.

    For the specifics of the contract? Without the divinely made glass Erik used, it would take 27 magnifying glasses to read the microscopic fine print. One for every letter in the runic alphabet.
    Last edited by RanmaBushiko; January 14th, 2022 at 11:06 PM.
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

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  9. #829
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    This is a good wrap-up for the side characters, catches most of the loose ends I was thinking about, though then it somehow adds more. Feels conclusive, very nice.

    It looks like Touko didn't really avoid that Sealing Designation. Keeping a Servant around persistently has a tendency to make that sort of thing worse. I feel like I've lost the context on exactly what Marisbury is trying to do in this timeline, so beyond Olga being his daughter, I don't remember his goals here. Lev tried to assassinate him, but I'm not sure what he generally WANTS, unless this is a Grand Order-adjacent world, so I'm not sure what he gets for working with Kairi and Touko (beyond them both being generally powerful, and whatever gratitude is worth)

    Fran planned this. I remember her planning it.

    I was going to say "aww poor Mecha Fafnir, he's a good boy", but then it actually got more of a role. It's honestly frightening just how intelligent the mechs are, when Erik's perspective treats them like "just smart enough to help", but they're fully self-aware and autonomous. Yikes. Almost feels unethical.
    Leveraging Erik's favourite trick with contracts again, and pruning... yeah, this timeline definitely qualifies. Exactly how Zelretch interacts with that process isn't really explicit, as far as I know, so I'm not sure if he'd be interested in preserving a timeline for the timeline's sake, but I suppose he has some obligation to Erik... or it's something involving Kiara going hunting, which feels very plausible. Caution is warranted. I suppose he might also end up with more paradox problems if the timeline gets pruned after interacting with the Works, but at that point, it feels like the Works would be creating a lot of work for him... I guess they make good TV.
    Wolf Home looks like it's going to at least be supported before they have to leave. Is Zelretch going to help with that almost-directly? Huh.

    Future-Erik seems to be cutting it very close with that Cosmoreactor. I suppose he's a God of Paranoia though, so of course he knows exactly when she'll be back. He has many irons in the fire. I follow that he needs the ichor for the Cosmoreactor stability, but I don't quite follow how that relates to adopting Tori... unless I'm misreading what he means with the 39 day limit. She seems like an adult, I'm not entirely sure why she needs adopting, unless... oh, you wrote "as a Scion", gotcha. I suppose he is a God at this point, and she is, admittedly, very much tied up with mecha, so that's a reasonably close tie, for Scion-hood. I'm suddenly picturing Erik draining her ichor for his Cosmoreactor and it feels sinister. Reading back to Chapter 26, it looks like they were trying to set it up earlier, and she's not particularly averse to the idea, so it probably is more about a longer-term partnership, since he suggested apprentice first. I'm not averse, I guess?

    Oh huh, Chapter 26, I'm guessing the "bunch of colonists" Zelretch "gave shit to" is Wolf Home, then. Nice.

  10. #830
    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    This is a good wrap-up for the side characters, catches most of the loose ends I was thinking about, though then it somehow adds more. Feels conclusive, very nice.

    It looks like Touko didn't really avoid that Sealing Designation. Keeping a Servant around persistently has a tendency to make that sort of thing worse. I feel like I've lost the context on exactly what Marisbury is trying to do in this timeline, so beyond Olga being his daughter, I don't remember his goals here. Lev tried to assassinate him, but I'm not sure what he generally WANTS, unless this is a Grand Order-adjacent world, so I'm not sure what he gets for working with Kairi and Touko (beyond them both being generally powerful, and whatever gratitude is worth)

    Fran planned this. I remember her planning it.

    I was going to say "aww poor Mecha Fafnir, he's a good boy", but then it actually got more of a role. It's honestly frightening just how intelligent the mechs are, when Erik's perspective treats them like "just smart enough to help", but they're fully self-aware and autonomous. Yikes. Almost feels unethical.
    Leveraging Erik's favourite trick with contracts again, and pruning... yeah, this timeline definitely qualifies. Exactly how Zelretch interacts with that process isn't really explicit, as far as I know, so I'm not sure if he'd be interested in preserving a timeline for the timeline's sake, but I suppose he has some obligation to Erik... or it's something involving Kiara going hunting, which feels very plausible. Caution is warranted. I suppose he might also end up with more paradox problems if the timeline gets pruned after interacting with the Works, but at that point, it feels like the Works would be creating a lot of work for him... I guess they make good TV.
    Wolf Home looks like it's going to at least be supported before they have to leave. Is Zelretch going to help with that almost-directly? Huh.

    Future-Erik seems to be cutting it very close with that Cosmoreactor. I suppose he's a God of Paranoia though, so of course he knows exactly when she'll be back. He has many irons in the fire. I follow that he needs the ichor for the Cosmoreactor stability, but I don't quite follow how that relates to adopting Tori... unless I'm misreading what he means with the 39 day limit. She seems like an adult, I'm not entirely sure why she needs adopting, unless... oh, you wrote "as a Scion", gotcha. I suppose he is a God at this point, and she is, admittedly, very much tied up with mecha, so that's a reasonably close tie, for Scion-hood. I'm suddenly picturing Erik draining her ichor for his Cosmoreactor and it feels sinister. Reading back to Chapter 26, it looks like they were trying to set it up earlier, and she's not particularly averse to the idea, so it probably is more about a longer-term partnership, since he suggested apprentice first. I'm not averse, I guess?

    Oh huh, Chapter 26, I'm guessing the "bunch of colonists" Zelretch "gave shit to" is Wolf Home, then. Nice.
    Let's see now. In order, Touko's mostly avoided the sealing designation. Having clock tower magi bribe enforcers try to force her into losing her Servant so one can be applied, on the other hand...?

    As for Marisbury, he's getting his stuff enhanced greatly by being around Scathach. If she's out to date him for the wine cellar and seeing Olga grow up, well... at least she's a better role model than he was in Fate/Grand Order, right? And if they're both succeeding in greatly enhancing the family's magecraft as a result, I don't think he really cares. Touko and Kairi, on the other hand, is a good and solid alliance by this point. He gets a friend for his daughter, his daughter's friends don't violently ensure he's stabbed by the girl that's pillaging his wine cellar, teaching his daughter and dating him, and everyone's mostly happy. Except for clock tower mages that were hoping for a free upgrade to their own magecraft, anyways.

    As for Fran? Fran did, indeed plan this. Alas, poor Caules, we knew thee well. And now the robo-waifu stakes her claim.

    Compared to the legendary bullshit a god can provide, the Legion of Coal might be sentient, but not that sentient. Compared to normal people, on the other hand... how to put it better? Hm... how about this. There's very much an instinctive bias from Erik to treat them like children, and help them grow. Add in that they're likely sandbagging so 'daddy will treat us as his kids for longer' not realizing that he'd be celebrating it right alongside them and... well. Hopefully that makes sense.

    Mecha Fafnir, on the other hand, was made from several hundred of them to be something a little more... potent, sentient and most importantly, smart. And has had 6 months to work things out, plot, plan, and get used to being the only really brilliant one left. As for why Zelretch did this, exactly? He gave some promises to help out with Wolf Home and Erik's stuff. This very much counts as part of it. And if it keeps Kiara as a demi-servant for Jack the Ripper, or at least something barely approximating one, out of the line of fire of Mecha Fafnir... well... probably for the better that she doesn't fight the mechanical dragon that would likely curbstomp her and her team. What with having been able to kill Jack the Ripper once, it very much means it's more easy for him to do it again...

    Future Erik has pulled things very, very close with his plans and hopes for things to be stabilized, and for the time loop to not kill him, etc.

    As for 39 day limit, that's when the Ichor will destabilize, yes. And yes, he wants her as a Scion and adoptive daughter, because of how well they play off together. (Plus, imagine exactly how hard it is to find someone that can actually understand what the hell he's teaching, much less reproduce it, in that far off universe...)

    Apprentice, daughter, it's pretty close. There's reasons why she needed his Ichor from before he got fucked with, though, and more explicitly, why he needed her to retrieve a sample from back then so very much. Suffice to say, things will be interesting for Erik in the future... mwahahahaha

    And yes, the "bunch of colonists" is in fact Wolf Home. I've had this planned, and referencing past stuff for a very long time now. It's just getting it down and matching prior stuff that was the hard part.

    Just the last two interludes, and then this is fully, finally finished. Whew.

    Oh, right. And Kieran wrote more in the mission dossier, if you missed it.
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

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  11. #831
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    Quote Originally Posted by RanmaBushiko View Post
    Let's see now. In order, Touko's mostly avoided the sealing designation. Having clock tower magi bribe enforcers try to force her into losing her Servant so one can be applied, on the other hand...?
    That is functionally very similar, but I suppose a bit less intense.

    As for Marisbury, he's getting his stuff enhanced greatly by being around Scathach. If she's out to date him for the wine cellar and seeing Olga grow up, well... at least she's a better role model than he was in Fate/Grand Order, right? And if they're both succeeding in greatly enhancing the family's magecraft as a result, I don't think he really cares. Touko and Kairi, on the other hand, is a good and solid alliance by this point. He gets a friend for his daughter, his daughter's friends don't violently ensure he's stabbed by the girl that's pillaging his wine cellar, teaching his daughter and dating him, and everyone's mostly happy. Except for clock tower mages that were hoping for a free upgrade to their own magecraft, anyways.
    Mmm, right, runes interact nicely with his magecraft. I suppose my view of him is colored by how... big-picture Chaldea's goals are. I'm always expecting him to have some very large plans.

    Compared to the legendary bullshit a god can provide, the Legion of Coal might be sentient, but not that sentient. Compared to normal people, on the other hand... how to put it better? Hm... how about this. There's very much an instinctive bias from Erik to treat them like children, and help them grow. Add in that they're likely sandbagging so 'daddy will treat us as his kids for longer' not realizing that he'd be celebrating it right alongside them and... well. Hopefully that makes sense.
    Mecha Fafnir, on the other hand, was made from several hundred of them to be something a little more... potent, sentient and most importantly, smart. And has had 6 months to work things out, plot, plan, and get used to being the only really brilliant one left.
    Oh definitely makes sense. That's been a pretty consistent characterization (rest in peace Train-kun).

    As for why Zelretch did this, exactly? He gave some promises to help out with Wolf Home and Erik's stuff. This very much counts as part of it. And if it keeps Kiara as a demi-servant for Jack the Ripper, or at least something barely approximating one, out of the line of fire of Mecha Fafnir... well... probably for the better that she doesn't fight the mechanical dragon that would likely curbstomp her and her team. What with having been able to kill Jack the Ripper once, it very much means it's more easy for him to do it again...
    Much more benevolent on Zelretch's part than I was expecting, then. And yeah, legend tends to act that way, doesn't it.

    Apprentice, daughter, it's pretty close. There's reasons why she needed his Ichor from before he got fucked with, though, and more explicitly, why he needed her to retrieve a sample from back then so very much. Suffice to say, things will be interesting for Erik in the future... mwahahahaha
    Yeah, since the edition-changing stuff was revealed, plus the Titanic corruption, while the exact details aren't entirely clear, the broad strokes of why that Ichor would be useful seem pretty clear. It does sound like he's going to have an increasingly rough time until then, of course.

    And yes, the "bunch of colonists" is in fact Wolf Home. I've had this planned, and referencing past stuff for a very long time now. It's just getting it down and matching prior stuff that was the hard part.
    Very nice. I really enjoy the continuity/consistency of watching those threads come together, makes referencing back very fruitful.

    Oh, right. And Kieran wrote more in the mission dossier, if you missed it.
    Quite. Only noticed after writing my last post, I had read the epilogue and was digesting earlier.

  12. #832
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    Final Epilogue – Resignation

    Trifas, Romania
    July 6, 2004









    For all that she was a goddess, Astraea had limits—and not solely those of her Class Container, or the mortal shell her spirit presently inhabited. She was Justice, yes; but Justice was constrained to be fair and impartial, else it betrayed its very concept. Thus, her second Noble Phantasm, for all its potential, operated within a strict set of rules, and could not operate outside them. And the cost in terms of magical energy was hardly miniscule, either; worse, her present host was no magus at all, far less a powerful and compatible host like Luviagelita Edelfelt, leaving her more than ever a literal shadow of herself.

    The mere attempt to activate her Noble Phantasm ought to have been a failure from the outset. Without the Grail to anchor her spirit and provide the bulk of her prana support, much less the lack of support from her host, and without all parties gathered to be judged, it should simply not have been possible. Indeed, it would not have been possible—but for two things.

    First, Astraea had come from a pocket in the shadow of the Faerie Realm, with all its ambient energies, equivalent to her own age, to an area in the mortal realm positively saturated in arcane energies of similar potency. Second, the judgement she was invoking was upon a willing target; one that was accepting, even eager, to balance her scales, and who intrinsically believed in her right to do so. And a goddess, however weakened and constrained, could do a lot with simple, honest faith—and she could do a lot more when its source had a subtle warping effect on reality merely by virtue of existing in it.

    Many things were still impossible for her, even so—the dead could not be revived, time could not be rewound, and no alterations could be performed upon the body of her target that were not initiated by his own power, per the restraints of his tattoos. But with such disparate and esoteric energies empowering her efforts, the range of effects available was considerable, nonetheless . . .







    The Moon Cell
    Grail Works Universe
    October 7, 2004










    “Hm,” remarked Archimedes suddenly. “How fortuitous for you.”

    “What?” Zelretch demanded sourly, not at all happy about dealing with this particular “administrative interface” again. His sanctimonious attitude never failed to get on the Wizard Marshal’s nerves—and he couldn’t even prank the bastard properly, with Archimedes being what he was . . .

    “A localised quantum shift has been undertaken within the designated timeline,” the mathematician-turned-Caster replied. “It defies my calculations, which is . . . Irksome”—something dark crossed his expression at the admission—“but the overall effect has introduced, or perhaps more accurately clarified, a variable whose presence aligns with your needs.”

    He brought up a display and pointed. “Look here.

    Zelretch did so, and saw precisely what Archimedes meant—that would work nicely, with a few adjustments . . .








    Snowfield, Nevada
    Grail Works Universe









    Faldeus Dioland stood, one of many, amidst the primary hub surrounding the operation of the Greater Holy Grail. Not the focus of the Fuyuki Holy Grail War Ritual, true—but as close a copy as could be managed, based on their research.

    They had been working on it for generations, now, with the assumption that it would take generations more. After all, barring the most recent, a full sixty years tended to pass between Grail Wars, even under the ritual location’s prepared conditions; this was simply the first attempt, and all the time and effort needed to set those conditions was also required. Indeed, their starting calculations had suggested that the land itself would require centuries to become properly purified to even allow the Grail’s formation—and yet, at their last estimate of the local conditions, it seemed that it might take no longer than five years . . .

    As such, they were now checking on the status of the Grail itself—after all, if the land was prepared, might the Grail, too, be equally ready?

    Faldeus, as the grandson of one of the project’s original founders, had been deemed one of those best-suited to judge. As such, he was on leave from his “duties” at the Clock Tower so that he could be here, along with several government officials—indeed, nearly the whole of the U.S. department devoted to magecraft—to observe the state of their grand endeavour. And then, having observed it, to decide if it was necessary to begin their generations-long work in earnest.

    Even if it was fully empowered, or nearly so, the Grail could not yet be manifested; the land was not yet ready to accept it. Nor were standard divination methods all that useful with it; something as powerful and potentially reality-warping as a Holy Grail made accurate predictions about almost any aspect of it difficult, to say the least—particularly given its current status as a mere potentiality. Therefore, observing it in real-time was not exactly a simple or easy task, to say the least . . .

    The methods devised were crude, admittedly: technology and magecraft combined as best they could, using digital modelling techniques and what was broadly understood about the Second Magic to create at least a representation of the Holy Grail as it existed today. Faldeus understood enough of the process to operate it, but he only vaguely understood the paucity of its quality. Still, he’d heard more than one contractor lament the suicide of Lev Lainur, who had specialised in such things, which implied that the equipment was not all it could be . . .

    Then again, it only needed to be enough.

    He began operations, and within a vast field of light, the image of the Greater Grail took form—

    “YOINK, as the kids say nowadays,” came a voice from that field, as the field went briefly from monochrome to prismatic, and the Grail’s silhouette vanished. “Really, now—did you think I wouldn’t notice something that touched on Kaleidoscope like this, given the rules of Mystery as they operate . . .?”

    Faldeus froze. While he’d been inserted into the Clock Tower as an undercover operative, he’d been made well aware of its most dangerous potential threats—and chief among them (though hardly exclusively the list) was the Wizard Marshal.

    “Still,” the voice continued, “I commend you. If I hadn’t been using this blasted thing, I probably would have missed this until it was too late—and really, you’re about to solve so many problems for me. It’s not perfect, but it’s a better Grail than I could find in most other places, and the problems with it are more fixable than most . . .

    “And you’re about to solve my
    other most pressing problem—what to do with this.

    The prismatic field wavered again, forming an image not unlike the chalice form of the Holy Grail—until it abruptly narrowed in width and breadth, stretching itself slightly in the process to take on a lengthened, stylised shape—then the light vanished, revealing a physical object. It was a sword, medieval in style and tricoloured in blade, embedded point-first in the floor of the facility like the legendary Sword in the Stone, illuminated by a shining light, like a holy aura . . .

    No, wait—that was a glyphic pattern, and what looked like tiny writing. Faldeus, along with many others, leaned over to get a closer look . . .



    IF YOU CAN READ THIS, SO CAN THE CURSE OF MARS—GOODBYE, AND THANKS AGAIN!



    A flash of rainbow light followed, barely perceptible before it seared his retinas to the point of blindness—and his existence to the point of oblivion.








    The Moon Cell
    Grail Works Universe
    October 7, 2004









    That,” Zelretch sighed, “was so satisfying . . .”

    It also eliminated several problems in one fell swoop; not least of which being, since he’d seen what might’ve potentially happened, the awakening of ORT . . . But that was dealt with, the second Grail War ritual—and importantly, the piece of Fuyuki’s Greater Grail used to “purify” the land to host the ritual—was destroyed beyond recovery, he had a usable (if imperfect) Holy Grail to give Rin-chan and her friends. That would get Gaia and Alaya off his back about the time paradox, and everything would be solved, so he could go back to enjoying his (un)life.

    . . . Heck, he’d even been nice enough to put that pesky “Relic” somewhere his apprentice and her friends could grab it, as well as made sure its presence caught their attention; so far as he was concerned, that deserved a drink—

    “Curious,” Archimedes said. “I had not considered altering the Rayshift translation as a means of changing the object being Rayshifted . . .”

    After all, the Sword of Atli was a Relic, and only analogous to the artefact responsible for the Noble Phantasm known as Teardrop Photon Ray—but by causing the Rayshift to complete itself by including the endpoint as being the materialisation of the Noble Phantasm data the Moon Cell had archived, along with the ritual circle needed to trigger it . . .

    The Caster continued, “Neither would I have considered a prototype Grail like this as useful, far less desirable—to be missing the strongest Class, of all potential ones, is unusual given the typical attitudes of magi. How do you propose to fix it?”

    Zelretch shrugged. “Do I have to? I mean, according to the predictions you showed me, the Counter Force was going to brute-force a Saber summoning, so it’s got the potential for it even without having the Class officially registered. And the Saber summoner in the War I need it for has both the Element and Origin of ‘Sword,’ a catalyst appropriate to the Saber class-incarnation of the Servant he summons, as well as a similarly potentially-world-ending-danger—shouldn’t that be enough?”

    Not to mention the fact that paradox said he already had summoned Saber—surely, causality would be willing to just smile and nod on this one, as it were . . .?

    “Theoretically, certainly,” Archimedes remarked. “But theory does not always function well in practice.

    “. . . Damn it,” the Wizard Marshall sighed. “All right—help me crack this thing open, and let’s see if we can fix it . . .”








    Avalon Castle, Phantasmagoria Island (Grail Works. Ltd. Headquarters)
    Beyond the boundaries of time and space









    Ilya blinked as the senses gifted her as the Holy Grail picked up on something.

    “Huh,” she remarked. “Well, the Clock Tower and/or Holy Church is going to have a time explaining that . . .

    “What?” Shirou demanded in a sullen tone, apparently still angry about Ruler’s intervention—her Onii-chan was so childish, sometimes . . .

    Then again, it had only been a few minutes ago, so maybe he was entitled.

    Choosing to answer his question, however, Ilya replied, “Someone just activated a Noble Phantasm.

    Which shouldn’t be possible for anyone besides Onii-chan, with his copies, or a very few individuals on Earth—most of whom were not using the Phantasm’s full potential. This, however, was an all-out activation, on par with an actualisation, rather than the ephemeral copies created for summoned Servants . . . As such, Ilya looked a little closer—and got more astonished with every detail she uncovered.

    “From space, somewhere,” the Grail spirit continued, “and—the planet let it through . . .?

    That last part really had her puzzled, so she zeroed in on the site of the Noble Phantasm’s target, winding back a little in time—and gasped.

    “OH! We were looking for that!”

    Operating on the logic that “hole = passageway = door,” Ilya linked the forming crater of what used to be Snowfield, Nevada with the castle—and a tricoloured longsword of unusual design tumbled through, showing no signs of undergoing the bombardment it had been the target of mere seconds earlier.

    “Ta-daaah!” Ilya said triumphantly. “One ‘Sword of Atli,’ Onii-chan, now transformed into the Sword of Mars—and see? This is why we need paradigm shields—and presently locked away from anywhere or anyone it might cause trouble for . . . Eh?”

    As if on cue, the weapon chose that particular moment to glow, the light coalescing into—

    “Help me, Rin-chan Kenobi—you’re my only hope!”

    A one-quarter-scale image of the Wizard Marshal, grinning like a loon.

    “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” the image chuckled. “I hope that by the time you see this, you’ll actually have watched the movie—if not, I’ll have to see if I can arrange a field trip for you . . .” He shook his head. “Regardless, the playing of this message indicates that you’ve tripped the hidden functions built into the replacement Grail I swapped in prior to the Fifth War, and the time paradoxes relating to your merry little band of friends are all now resolved. As such, the full functionality of this Greater Grail can now be opened up to you . . .”

    “What’s he talking about?” Shirou demanded, even as Ilya’s eyes slowly began to widen. “Rin?”

    “I have no idea, and I’m afraid to speculate,” the Tohsaka heiress muttered with a groan, even as the Grail spirit began cursing under her breath in German.

    “You see, the replacement I got wasn’t quite right,” Zelretch said, eyes twinkling, “so I had to adjust its functionality to make it fit the events of your War—and the closest blueprint I had was a bit more functional than that . . .

    Onii-chan?” Ilya said. “I just had eight new Class slots open up. One of them is hardcoded as ‘Ruler,’ but basically, we can summon up to thirteen Servants, fourteen if we include Ruler, without triggering a Grail War now—and up to two per Class Container.”

    (She did not mention that this meant that she could technically grant two wishes at a time, now. Because, of course, to do so required the energy of a dozen Servants, and unless Arturia or Medousa were sacrificed, that would trigger a Grail War—well, unless they summoned a Ruler before the last one was summoned, but still . . .)

    Of course, they still had a scarcity of available Masters. Shiki and Akiha had the capacity, but were currently using most of their energies in maintaining familiars of their own, Arcueid was probably unsuited, given her nature, and the twins . . . Well, given their nature, they might actually be suited despite the lack of proper Magic Circuits, but that was a question for another time. Still, the expanded options weren’t actually all that useful at the moment, however they might turn out to be in the future—though Ilya supposed that it was nice to have them.

    Rin, for her part, brought her palm to rest over her face. “He used Trifas’ Holy Grail as a blueprint—of course he did . . .”

    “In any case,” Zelretch’s recording continued, “that seems to be good enough for me to declare you as officially passing my assigned task, so I’ll be contacting you later for a teaching session—much later, as right now, I have an overwhelming urge to go out and drink until the memory of the headache I’ve been dealing with goes away . . .”

    There was a not-quite-intelligible response from “off-screen,” indicating that “headache” was as much a descriptor of an actual person as Zelretch’s physical or psychological condition.

    The Wizard Marshal smirked. “Until next time, my apprentice—ciao!

    The image faded, leaving the assembled personnel in stunned silence.

    “. . . I loathe the idea of agreeing with him in any fashion, after what I just went through because of him,” Rin muttered, “but I am so tempted to follow his example right now.”

    “Tohsaka, NO!” Shirou protested in horror. “Alcohol is terrible for you—besides, you’re underage!”

    “And I’m not liable to get past that point if his idea of ‘errands’ and ‘tests’ is throwing me into Holy Grail Wars!” Rin exclaimed bluntly.

    From there, the exchange devolved as Rin left the room, apparently intent on seeing if Taiga had anything stashed in the Emiya home—or, failing that, if the Tohnos kept anything on hand—and Shirou was equally intent on stopping her. Ilya stared after them for a moment, bemused.

    Nee-san wasn’t exactly subtle,” Sakura said critically, causing Ilya to jump as she spoke up (as the Grail spirit had honestly forgotten she was in the room), “but that was an effective distraction, wasn’t it?”

    Ilya tilted her head, parroting, “‘Distraction?’

    “To keep Shirou-kun from noticing that Zelretch-sama did not mention whatever might’ve happened to our client,” Sakura said politely, even as her expression said just as clearly, “Who do you think you’re kidding here?”

    Mentally ranking Sakura a notch or two up on her “most dangerous rival” list, Ilya nodded.

    “No,” the Grail spirit said neutrally. “He didn’t.

    Sakura looked placidly at her. “. . . Is there something you ought to mention, Ilya-chan?

    Ilya looked at her, considered responses for a moment, then sighed.

    “. . . I wish, if you’ll pardon the irony—the balance of energies in that place is was so fully and forcibly reset to ‘normal’ that it’s impossible to read traces of him. Granted, that also means there are no lingering foreign elements that might cause problems later, and that it’s impossible to trace us or our involvement—which was probably the whole idea—but it also means that any trail or trace he might’ve left behind was erased.

    “. . . Could we interrogate Ruler?” she asked curiously.

    Ilya shook her head. “Part of the ‘scale-balancing’ took Laeticia Delacroix home, to wake up in her bed with the whole experience nothing more than a dream, much as Jeanne d’Arc originally promised her. Astraea’s gone back to the Throne, or the Reverse Side—or wherever Divine Spirits that can be Servants go in their off-time.”

    Ilya glanced at the weapon currently gracing their floor. “He might be back, if he’s still alive—and if there’s anything to the ‘Fatebinding’ stuff, and it’s applicable to this sword . . . But short of that, or his performing another summoning to catch my attention, to the best of my knowledge, he’s just gone.

    Sakura frowned. “Sempai will be sad . . .” A faint, sly smile crept over her face briefly as she admitted, “So am I, actually—I can’t tease Rin about wedding planning, now.”

    Ilya’s eyes gleamed at the idea. “You’re right, it’s a terrible waste! OK, I’ll keep looking—you start collecting bridal magazines . . .”








    Trifas, Romania
    July 6, 2004









    Even under normal circumstances, Iam Redit et Virgo: Let Order Be Returned Here had its limitations. The dead could not be raised, time could not be reversed, and that was in accordance with the Noble Phantasm’s nature and design—as its very name implied, it existed to restore balance, not to undo what had been done to disrupt it.

    These, however, were not “normal circumstances.” To begin with Astraea was hampered by the lack of her usual power sources. Forbidden the use of her full divinity by her Class Container, denied the support of the Greater Holy Grail, and bound to a host that was only passingly compatible and utterly powerless in her own right, she was forced to rely on outside help to activate it, which risked tilting the scales.

    She must be above bias—to do less is to destroy her—but the sources she uses nonetheless have their own metrics of what is “just” here, and it is all she can do to direct them, under these circumstances. Worse still was the being she was judging: a common human, by many measures, but by virtue of his origin, elevated to an existence akin to a demiurge.

    It was a strange sensation, truly, for a goddess to stand before one who might qualify as her creator—stranger still to be standing in judgement over such a one . . .

    It was only the fact that Astraea was the arbiter of mortal justice, and that he was mortal, which gave her any authority over him whatsoever—and even that, she suspected, was limited. She was being allowed to do so, because he desired it, and the conceptual weight behind what he represented meant that same willingness permeated the energies suffusing him, surrounding him, and made them easier to bend to her will. Easier to turn against him, because too many foreign elements were present here, needed to be expunged, eradicated—and she had but one target to choose.

    The most important were those of the alien Aesir, and its ancient progenitor. Not simply the various radiations of their weapons, or the aspects of their divinities that had been impressed upon the World—no, far more dangerous were the very Legends which spawned such things. Connected as they were to the weaving and binding of Fate, they were far too dangerous to leave here. This world was, in many ways, already fixed in several facets; to eliminate what little variance remained (and to do so in such a fashion as to make it a self-recurring pattern) would inevitably lead to destruction. Put simply, it had to go . . . And so, with an effort of will, it went, easily and even eagerly—

    And it grabbed her on its way.

    It was the nature of the thing: Fate bound the Gods and their offspring to roles, recurring themes and actions that echoed throughout the World to build the foundations of the Legend that empowered them—but it required something to bind them to. And any attempt to alter Fatebindings inevitably created one between those whose Fate was being altered, and the one doing it.

    That, for a whole host of reasons, couldn’t be allowed; but even as a goddess (and especially as a Roman goddess), Astraea was beholden to the will of Fate. There was nothing she could do to stop it—but the tools to at least try, fortunately, lay close at hand. The “Lunar Exaltation” was, by design, capable of forging Fate to its whims, and the Essence it generated was also something that needed to be purged from this world. Desperation had her throw one divine energy against another—

    And watch the latter falter.

    Though Essence might in potential be powerful enough to overcome Legend, the fragment of divinity generating it was as yet too limited, not having been refined to the heights of which it was ultimately capable. But Astraea was judging the being wielding it—and to do so fairly, she had needed to see all of who he was, know all of what had happened, and what was possible—and she knew, therefore, that there was another way. Ignoring the fading Essence for a moment, she directed her focus upon the Exaltation itself, willing it to into the form it ought to have . . .

    For it was not a true Exaltation, but an imitation perfectly crafted in its image. And crafted by the Seldarine, the gods of an elven pantheon; or, in the terms of the Exalted game itself, crafted by the Fair Folk, the inhabitants of the Wyld—and the natural enemies of the Creation the Exalted protected, for both the Fair Folk and the Wyld were Chaos itself.

    Quicksilver light blazed as the Exaltation cracked under her ministrations, the immutability of Fate struggling against that which would NOT be constrained—so much more powerful outside the limits of its Exaltation form, as it represented not a fragment of a single deity, but a full pantheon that was far older than the human species itself. . .

    And then, all of Astraea’s efforts went to containing the fallout. Puissant as they were, none of these powers were unlimited in reservoir; she simply had to endure until either one emerged victorious—at which point she could turn her full and focused might on the weakened survivor—or they burnt themselves out tearing against one another. The mortal, sadly, was unlikely to survive being at the confluence of such a conflagration; and Astraea was surprised to note that she was sad, and once again, unable to say whether the sentiment was her own or her host’s, nor what inspired it—

    And as if woken by her thoughts, the third power in the struggle flared, as a tattoo became chain links in the form of protruding bone, wrought of eldritch ores alloyed with tortured souls to be both weapon and warning: Hel did not surrender easily that which was hers . . .

    In many ways, it was the least of the three. After all, it was not a true Relic, endowed with Hel’s own power for a Scion of hers to wield, but a mere token; a truly mundane, if divinely forged, item. At the same time, the “token” was a recognition, intended for a vassal no longer in her service. but valued for the service rendered; forged by her own hands (a goddess at least the equal of Astraea in standing, for Hel was younger, but grander in her power), and with the materials of her realm.

    The symbolism of such things, to say nothing of the eldritch materials, resonated in Legend—a resonance the power of Fate knew, and could manipulate—and with that tipping in the favour of Order, however slight, commonalities were sought (partially with the help of Astraea’s Noble Phantasm, as it sought to weigh everything involved). Important elements were identified, solidified, to try and define the chaos . . .

    Magic was first and foremost, though it had little direct influence; it had to be, as it was the foundation of all that had happened, was happening, in regard to the man. The Moon was the primary element otherwise, linked both to the Exaltation form itself and a major deity of the Seldarine who forged it, one of the three aspects of its queen. That said goddess was also the goddess of death (and magic, linking back to the first), and thus a peer of Hel, only strengthened that bond, as did the correlation between its “No Moon” configuration and the Darkness Purview over which Hel had mastery (and the touch of the Dark Powers unwittingly conferred). And from that starting point, the powers branched out, making links through the New Moon Caste of the Lunar Exalted’s various associations . . .

    Water—Frid’s own past exploits in Spira, a very aquatic world, Though forgotten, it had still occurred—which linked back to Yuna, who represented the Moon once more, further strengthening that connection. Winter—Hel’s mastery of the Frost Purview strengthened this connection, as did his own acknowledged exploits (at whatever remove) as Krampus. Other Purviews under Hel’s aegis, such as Forge and Health, could find no means to bind themselves to him, providing no avenue for Fate to reach for him. Passion tried, but he’d never been one to inspire fear—and nor had he inspired disgust in anyone so much as in himself . . .

    A series of unconventional avenues, on the other hand, were found—patterns which already repeated within the fledgling mythos he’d unwittingly begun to forge. Wealth was one; treasures, powers beyond mortal ken—all these things seemed to fall into his reach . . . And were sacrificed just as easily, in pursuit of his goals, including his life . . . And while subtle in some ways, he was even more deeply entwined with the concept of unrequited love, both as a subject of it (Yuna, Rikku, many others . . . Astraea was startled to see herself there, briefly—both of her hosts, as well), and as an object of it (Rikku, Fiore, MHX/A/X)—

    That connection rattled something, as time—and with it, the planet—stepped in. Predestination had a hand in what had happened here, and therefore what would and might be done with him. Whatever judgement was passed down, whatever happened, he was not allowed to be killed, for there was a loose end in all of this that he alone could tie . . .

    But neither could he be allowed to stay, because the rampage of forces surrounding him threatened to break free, as they struggled against one another, building towards an increasingly volatile climax—

    There—a commonality point. When Scions grew too powerful, approached godhood, the World itself expelled them into the “Overworld,” one of the many shadows it cast, similar to but also unlike the Reverse Side; sufficiently powerful Exalts could also open portals to other realms. Moreover, this being had been touched by worlds entirely unknown to hers, including a different facet of the Kaleidoscope—to travel between and beyond them was also an inherent part of his “Legend,” were he ultimately to be bound by such . . .

    “BEGONE!” Astraea judged at last, her voice an echo of the Chief God’s thunder.

    Throwing the last of her power into the effort—and finding what little strength the World could muster to help aiding her—she hurled him out of her world entirely, before sagging to her knees, exhausted.

    It was the only decision she could make, unfair as it might seem. Let him wander through the infinite reaches of eternity, blindly, while the forces he’d invoked and invited had their way with him; whatever ultimately became of him would, with the influence she’d imprinted on the melee, be deserved. And neither he nor they would threaten her home any longer—if she had ultimately failed as a Ruler, she’d at least succeeded that far as a Goddess . . .

    Even if the whole affair left a bad taste in her mouth, regardless.

    “I am undecided as to whether or not I would like a chance to re-examine the case without operating under so many restrictions . . .” she murmured—to whom? Herself? The no-doubt-listening compatriots of the one she’d just summarily exiled? Or perhaps to said departed soul himself?

    “Undoubtedly,” she added with grim humour, “had that ‘Fatebinding’ had its way, I would have—if it proves to have a lasting hold on him, perhaps I will . . . But for now, my task is finally complete, inasmuch as it can be, save for seeing my host hale and home. I shall attend to the first, O Greater Grail—and I leave the second to you.

    Her eyes and tone sharpened, losing all traces of weariness.

    “And before I depart, a reminder, lest you be tempted to inaction; because I suppose I owe you that much, after what I’ve just done—it is far easier for me to act where you are than in the mortal world . . .

    She felt more than saw the connection form, to the threshold of a telephone booth, of all things.

    “Serviceable, if undignified,” Astraea decided. “Well enough, spirit. To borrow the vernacular of my host, with this, I bid you adieu—

    Astraea stepped through the door of the booth—

    And Laeticia Delacroix tumbled from the window to the bed of her dormitory.








    Arvandor
    The Pool of Evergold









    No, Hanali decided, she could not leave it alone. Never mind the mortal himself, or what he’d done for her charges, which was, again, considerable in its own right; now that she knew of the situation, it itched at her. Her very nature as a deity of love insisted that she intervene—to do otherwise literally ran counter to her very existence. She could not allow it to stand, being what she was . . .

    But because of what the mortal had done, neither did she wish to cause him strife—that, too, was a part of her nature. It was frustrating in a way that the goddess was wholly unused to; rarely did she have to act so delicately in the course of her duties . . . And, after all, she was a deity, and generally had the power to do as she pleased. She might not flaunt it as wantonly as Sune or Aphrodite—she was an elf, and thus more refined than the human goddesses—but love was about passion.

    Labelas, sadly, had been no more help after listing all that was wrong with the “Solar Exaltation” idea. It annoyed Hanali to have to ignore such a perfect concept—one that the mortal’s gift had literally been designed to employ—but if it would cause too much chaos within his home, and if none of those suited to it were suited to him, then it was precisely the sort of thing she shouldn’t do.

    (Aphrodite, after all, had been so certain of her actions with that poor princess . . . And Freyja’s efforts with the Valkyrie had been no better.)

    No, Hanali decided, if she was to achieve her desires—to end that annoying itch in her soul, and reward the mortal in the process (and possibly win her wager in the bargain)—she was going to have to be thoughtful about her next steps . . . And not nearly so clumsy in her dealings as her fellow love deities.

    Refinement, elegance, delicacy, she told herself. That was what the humans had lacked, as they always did in comparison to her kind—therefore, it behooved her to show it in her actions, if she wanted to win, and keep her pride in the bargain.

    As such, she considered the problem from the angle of the mortal, rather than the terms of the “Exaltation”—and the primary issue, she came to believe, came from the lack of compatibility between himself and those who might qualify. After all, those who could and did love him would work to minimise risks and friction, would they not?

    That, she thought, was probably the most important factor, secondary to power; that the one chosen be capable of loving him, and of being loved by him in turn. After all, the princess and the Valkyrie had been powers in their own rights, and it had ultimately done them no favours . . . Hanali did not delude herself that power was unnecessary to the equation, however—he was an adventurer and a hero, and thus routinely faced threats and dangers the average mortal could not cope with. The goal was to create an epic of lasting and beautiful romance, not one of tragedy.

    But how to go about it . . .?

    After all, he was no longer elven, or really connected to her influence at all; she either would need to enlist a human deity’s aid, like Sune, Aphrodite or Freyja—which the latter two would certainly consider grounds for her forfeit. Perhaps Sharess, then—his love of cats had been very clear to Hanali, and wasn’t “Bast” one of her aspects . . .?

    The alternative was to rely on the tenuous connection between his Exaltation and Sehanine. Tenuous, because Sehanine wasn’t a human deity, either, as well as largely subtle in her manifestations. That she had a subordinate with power over the Sun was a stroke of luck for the idea of a corresponding Exaltation, but her primary spheres of influence, beyond the Moon, were death, magic, and dreams . . .

    Hanali paused. A dream of love realised, perhaps . . .?

    It was more subtle than her usual designs in concept, if not application—search his heart and bring to life his ideal love—but it might work. Granted, it would require a degree of power she didn’t usually employ, and influence that, again, she didn’t have over him, but while a vulgar way to go about it, it might work . . .

    Or perhaps simply a blessing, that he finds such a one, however it might happen. Far more subtle than her usual efforts, and rather vague—but well within her own sphere of influence to manage, without seeking outside help. After all, half-elves were under her purview as well, so she had some influence over humans who loved her children, by default. It was simply not enough for such a grand gesture as forging an Exaltation from whole cloth would require . . .

    Such a minimalist effort annoyed her—but it was, Hanali decided, the best she could manage by herself, and it would deal with two annoyances at a stroke, in that she could silence that itch in her being, and potentially win her wager.

    Hanali smiled. And the best part was that having done this, she could at least follow the thread of power to observe what happened . . . She was an elf, not a faerie, but the races were not unrelated; and curiosity was a shared hallmark, after all.

    She scooped up a handful of the pool’s water, which was the purest, clearest blue imaginable, flecked with gold, and shaped it with her power into the form of a tressym—a winged cat that was a favoured pet among mortal elves. As cats were beloved by the mortal, she suspected it would be more easily accepted by him.

    “Take him my blessing,” she instructed the creature, which was both spell and spirit in the shape of both water and feline. “That the love most suited for him be his, whomsoever or whatsoever that may mean, wherever or whenever they may be, that they both may be happy together.”

    Soundlessly, the water-tressym departed in search of its prey, and Hanali relaxed into the Evergold’s waters—she felt better already . . .








    Beyond the boundaries of time and space
    Unknown place, unknown time









    He tumbled through the emptiness as though on a storm-tossed sea—adrift, anchorless, barely able to stay conscious, far less coherent . . . But that annoying little voice in the back of his head, the snarky commentator who was both the best and the worst of him, kept talking . . .

    Breaking, not broken—it’s been damaged, not destroyed . . . The Wyld is dynamism, at its core; chaotic in nature and output, yes, but not malicious . . .

    . . . Oh,
    God, the things I’ve done—

    And the things he hadn’t done—Astraea was very thorough, and the consequences of apathy and inaction were no less brutal . . .

    Good.

    He’d never liked that about himself but seen no way to stop it. With the Works, he’d at least had a chance to believe that he could be better, a chance to do more—hell, to do anything at all. It was just a shame he seemed to be so terrible at it, succeeding in spite of himself, more often than not . . .

    But, Astraea’s judgement compelled him to ask, is that really my fault . . .?

    After all, he’d been a pawn of greater forces (the Seldarine, the Aesir) from the beginning; either that, or forced to work around their interference, whether well-intentioned, unwitting—or outright malevolent, in the case of Ymir. Things outside his control, well beyond his ability to handle, and seemingly thrown into the situation out of nowhere—with no context for their interference, aside from seemingly being placed there just to make things difficult for him.

    I always believed the universe hated me, but throwing actual deities into the mix is way more than a bit RIDICULOUS . . .

    Regardless—objectively, the point stood: what might he be able to accomplish if actually left to his own devices? No unexpected reactions with a curse he wasn’t really aware he was under creating Shadow Servants bent on killing him, no sudden divine incursions from ludicrously over-the-top characters created by absent power-gaming friends—just himself, the problem at hand, and whatever resources he could bring to bear.

    Could he actually do what the Works existed to do—what Shirou believed in—and save people? Or was he just wasting everyone’s time and efforts, a tired old man (all right, middle-aged, but if you were only as old as you felt, then he was bloody primordial) lost in a fantasy?

    God knew, it was hard to tell when you were surrounded by “fictional” characters on a daily basis . . .

    Once upon a time, as a youth, he’d read a quote attributed to Lincoln that he’d liked: “If there is a place and work for me, then I am ready.” As he’d gotten older, his attitude had shifted to the point where nowadays, his motto was more accurately described as “Let’s get this over with,” but the sentiment was the same, in many respects—a shift in thinking that braced him for the task ahead.

    Once more. He would try once more, to get this right. To do the job, wherever or whenever he might end up; and if it still all went down in flames . . . Then whatever happened to him didn’t matter—but for now, he had to fight.

    With an effort such as he had never made in any incarnation of his life thus far, he began to try to push past the agony ravaging his body; to master the riotous magical forces wreaking havoc on his form, on his fate—

    And as though simply making the effort locked things into place, it surged back, building towards a crescendo, some ultimate goal or destination that he couldn’t guess, or possibly even imagine—but he fervently hoped that it would be more in the vein of “Third time’s the charm” than “three strikes, you’re out”—

    Something chose that precise moment to smack him in the face, somehow, with enough force to send him spiraling wildly—and he suddenly felt like he was drowning, on top of everything else.

    As it had once before in his memory, and probably with consequences just as life-changing and reality-altering, the world went white . . .








    Fin.










    Writer's Notes: The title, incidentally, is meant to refer to the chess term - although I'm sure you can see many meanings that apply . . .


    I considered many things long and hard in regards to both writing and posting this, and ultimately, I decided it wasn't worth holding this back while RB got around to writing and finishing his Interludes. With this, the main story is finally done, and I hope you've enjoyed it. Until next time!
    Last edited by Kieran; January 17th, 2022 at 09:25 AM.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  13. #833
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle
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    I was definitely not expecting this today, hoo. I suppose that really ties up all our loose ends.

    Interesting that you ended up mutating the Sword of Atli, rather than using it later. I suppose it's still available, just... literally the Sword of Mars now, and not lost. Adding Archimedes in a more tangible sense also gives a couple more Extella ties into the Works. Having the Sword of Mars is relevant, though, especially with what you just granted Ilya. That opens up a ton of options for stories going forward, but, as you noted, they're at something of a deficit for actual Masters, and the Works isn't Chaldea, so they can't just have a few people powering many Servants (probably)

    Iam Redit Et Virgo's judgment seems... more destructive than I was expecting. As you said, it's operating under some rather harsh constraints, so it can't cleanly expunge everything Astraea would like it to, at least, without weakening parts first. That leaves Frid in a pretty ambiguous state going forward, so you can do virtually whatever you want with his nature and powers to suit a future story, and free him (or not) from any applicable influences, like Fatebinding. Strong parallels with his state at the beginning of Anarchy actually. There are two parts to that that particularly stand out to me:

    First, the significance of the various themes and symbols after Hel's gift is invoked aren't entirely clear. It's obvious that they are the themes that define Godafrid, so my assumption is that they'll remain core components of his identity and nature, whatever he ends up being. Some of those weren't entirely explicit before (i.e. wealth/generosity), so it'll be interesting to see if those play a more central role going forward. I'm not sure if I should try to read further into it than that.

    Second, I really love the catharsis in that last scene. Godafrid submitted to judgment, and we can see that actually takes a substantial weight off of him. Your SI's are always their own harshest critic, so having a true Objective Authority pass judgment on his life leaves him with very precise knowledge of what he should and shouldn't actually beat himself up about, although it does sound like a lot of older wounds also got opened up as well. There's some very strong Hero's Journey themes here about rebirth or resurrection on a couple of levels, and it's very satisfying. I'll be very interested in seeing what you do with that resolution he's come to.

    I'm not entirely sure I understand how the term resignation applies differently to chess than it does from any other game, though of course, the emotional sense has a nice double meaning. I suppose it's the best/most common choice of game used as an analogy for a story with many moving pieces, and Godafrid has, at least for now, exited the game.

  14. #834
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    I was definitely not expecting this today, hoo. I suppose that really ties up all our loose ends.
    As I said, I considered letting it slide until RB was done with his Interlude timeline, just so the posts would line up - but it had already been sitting on my hard drive for two weeks, and I'd be tempted to keep tweaking it, and other people (Xamusel, for example) would have to keep waiting for the results before doing their own work . . . Essentially, I decided I was malingering just for the sake of malingering.

    Besides, I really wanted to see the reactions!


    Interesting that you ended up mutating the Sword of Atli, rather than using it later. I suppose it's still available, just... literally the Sword of Mars now, and not lost.
    While chasing it down as the Sword of Atli might've made for an interesting plot thread, I ultimately decided that keeping it as a Relic added an unnecessary level of complication to things unless Frid was going to wind up a Scion (and, as noted, I outright HATE the mechanics of Second Edition) - which, given Nasuverse metaphysics, has a whole host of issues . . . To say nothing of the narrative ones.

    Transforming it into the Sword of Mars, on the other hand, both solved that problem and opened up Altera as a character option for people. And for Zelretch, it derailed the Fate/strange fake storyline that was building (which, in a Tsukihime/Fate fusionverse like the Works' own, was otherwise almost inevitable), so it's a win all around.


    Adding Archimedes in a more tangible sense also gives a couple more Extella ties into the Works.
    Yes - and given the various EXTRA timelines (given that EXTRA, CCC, Extella and Last Encore all apparently count as parallel universes to one another . . .), I think it's entirely possible for RB's storyline with Erik and Frid's winding up there to be two separate stories - if, of course, you'd actually like to see Frid wind up there.


    Having the Sword of Mars is relevant, though, especially with what you just granted Ilya. That opens up a ton of options for stories going forward,
    Which was entirely the idea. While I don't want to reach Grand Order levels of ridiculous, I don't want to limit people's imaginations and options too much, either - and now, virtually any Class bar Avenger (sorry, Jalter - and several others, but mostly her) or Foreigner is now open to people.

    . . . The fact that almost any Servant I could think of for Godafrid that didn't overlap with his Exalt state too much was either a Saber or a Rider (which were both taken Classes, obviously), and now that's not a problem, is completely coincidental, of course.


    but, as you noted, they're at something of a deficit for actual Masters, and the Works isn't Chaldea, so they can't just have a few people powering many Servants (probably)
    And it opens up options for more OCs, admittedly; but given that I started the trend, I suppose I can't actually complain . . .


    Iam Redit Et Virgo's judgment seems... more destructive than I was expecting. As you said, it's operating under some rather harsh constraints, so it can't cleanly expunge everything Astraea would like it to, at least, without weakening parts first.
    Precisely - and it's using elements to power itself that are very (if not intentionally, necessarily) destructive. Though part of that is panic on Astraea's part; she was hardly expecting the Fatebinding aspect to latch onto her - and whether or not it took is, as with much of this, an open question . . .


    That leaves Frid in a pretty ambiguous state going forward, so you can do virtually whatever you want with his nature and powers to suit a future story, and free him (or not) from any applicable influences, like Fatebinding. Strong parallels with his state at the beginning of Anarchy actually.
    Yes - and I'm not entirely sure what I want to do . . .

    My problems always break down into the same series of questions: which TYPE-MOON character is best suited as Frid's partner (/love interest?), what manner of powers should he have, and how much power is too much (or too little) . . .?

    The first is problematic because A), this is a TYPE-MOON fan forum, and I'm not the only fan of any given character; therefore, I should try to avoid being selfish, and B), F/GO has introduced a wealth of potential characters, many of whom are interesting, but unsuited to the Works as a setting - for example, a lot of the Pseudo-Servants, as I've noted in the past. The second question is problematic because ideally, it should be a power or skill set the Works doesn't have access to, and doesn't overlap with his partner; this has been an issue, as the Exalt debate shows. The final question, of course, means that cutting him down to nothing, or next to it, is also problematic, because why is he there, otherwise . . .?

    I mean, the in-story reason he hasn't been sent home (aside from its being difficult to access, being so close/analgous to the Root, from the Works' perspective) is because he has supernatural powers not native to his home dimension, which would cause him issues. If I make him too normal, that problem disappears. But too strong or alien a power, and he'll outshine the TYPE-MOON cast we're here to see - as you may have noted in Anarchy, that has been a problem (though I tried to make it less of one on my side) . . .

    That was actually part of breaking down the connections - see what elements recurred, or seemed to fit (or could be made to fit), or could lead in an interesting story direction. For example, the "winter" aspect might involve a Santa Servant, or one like Anastasia or Skadi; or it might involve a winter-themed location, like Arendelle - or, were I to change his power-set, Kaldheim. The latter might even make sense, given the recent Nordic influences - and that both planeswalkers and Exalt's power sources are described as "sparks," with the former igniting under great emotional turmoil . . . But again, that would lead to (probably) too much power, and the problem of deciding colours, and so on.

    Alternatively, a geist in the form of The Little Match Girl would absolutely fit such a theme for Frid as a Sin-Eater . . . But it would be rather hard to tie to a TYPE-MOON element (well, almost, perhaps), wouldn't it . . .?

    Likewise, the "death" aspect certainly implies Ereshkigal, or one of the Servants associated with the Wild Hunt (Lancer Arturia Alter, Francis Drake), but the problems with that have been discussed, too. "Water" might mean Meltryllis, or another world like Spira, where the sea is a major component; and "magic" implies that supernatural power of some form will continue to be associated with him, one way or another . . . There's even an aspect I didn't explore outright - that New Moons are also associated with the Maiden of Secrets (Jupiter), which might imply switching to a Sidereal Exaltation (which would eliminate that temptation to create a matching Solar, if only the supplement existed), a Sailor Moon crossover, somehow, or that Pretty Little Liars option . . .

    A lot of potential doors to open, no idea where they might lead, yet - opinions and suggestions welcome.


    There are two parts to that that particularly stand out to me:

    First, the significance of the various themes and symbols after Hel's gift is invoked aren't entirely clear. It's obvious that they are the themes that define Godafrid, so my assumption is that they'll remain core components of his identity and nature, whatever he ends up Some of those weren't entirely explicit before (i.e. wealth/generosity), so it'll be interesting to see if those play a more central role going forward. I'm not sure if I should try to read further into it than that.
    Something like "wealth/generosity" might help cement a Santa Servant; alternatively, it might mean simply luck, or summon a Servant with a similar relationship with the concept, like Chacha after all, she did lose it all; so did Marie Antoinette) - or perhaps Karna, as the Hero of Charity (which wouldn't be my preference, but it's possible) . . .?

    "Unrequited love," on the other hand, covers SO many options - Gareth, for example, would definitely fit (as well as meet several other conditions, as discussed earlier). And since Frid also qualifies as an object of it, any Servant known for falling in love with their Master probably would, as well - which could be good or bad.


    Second, I really love the catharsis in that last scene. Godafrid submitted to judgment, and we can see that actually takes a substantial weight off of him. Your SI's are always their own harshest critic, so having a true Objective Authority pass judgment on his life leaves him with very precise knowledge of what he should and shouldn't actually beat himself up about, although it does sound like a lot of older wounds also got opened up as well. There's some very strong Hero's Journey themes here about rebirth or resurrection on a couple of levels, and it's very satisfying. I'll be very interested in seeing what you do with that resolution he's come to.
    Me, too.


    I'm not entirely sure I understand how the term resignation applies differently to chess than it does from any other game, though of course, the emotional sense has a nice double meaning. I suppose it's the best/most common choice of game used as an analogy for a story with many moving pieces, and Godafrid has, at least for now, exited the game.
    Quite - and since I started naming the chapters with chess in mind (I blame Fate/apocrypha's opening animation and the use of the "Red/Black" colour scheme for that), it seemed appropriate.
    Last edited by Kieran; January 17th, 2022 at 10:55 AM.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  15. #835
    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Interlude: Epilogue Of a Shattered World


    Beep

    A noise?

    Beep

    Ugh.

    Beep

    Fucking stop that noise already!

    Beep

    I need sleep, damn it! Wait a moment…

    Beep

    Slowly, my eyes open.

    Beep

    My wife’s near me. My Tamamo. Holding my left hand. On a hospital bed. Oh.

    I ignore the beeping, as I turn to look further around the room.

    Fenris is near as well. Shirou and Sakura both… nearby.

    But I can’t spot Scylla.

    Legend isn’t flowing to me properly, either.

    My wife’s eyes blink, and I smile at her softly.

    Tamamo’s eyes, those beautiful eyes I fell in love with, the moment I saw her, widening in surprise, then glee, as she reaches in and pulls me close for a gentle hug.

    “Hey.” I whisper softly, as she holds me. “I’m back.”

    “It’s been three years…” She quietly whispers.

    Silently, I hold my wife close, gently.

    “Where’s Scylla?” I ask, quietly, looking around.

    Tamamo flinches, her arms hugging me a bit closer.

    “He… decided to power the illusion hiding Wolf Home personally, dear. He didn’t evacuate in time, to buy the time to ensure you’d win. The time that he knew you’d need.” Tamamo finally admits, quietly.

    Tears come to my eyes, before I weakly hug my wife, feeling exhaustion mingled with grief hit me hard.

    “That foolish bastard. I wanted him happy, too…” I whisper, quietly.

    “He was happiest helping you, remember?” My darling wife whispers, as she hugs me close.

    I close my eyes, and bow my head, just hugging my wife close.

    My body feels weak. Exhausted, as I do so.

    Like everything I was is past my reach now.

    You know what, though? That’s fine.

    My wife is in my arms. That’s all that matters for now. My wife is in my arms. Fenris is nearby, smiling softly, even if he’s never going to admit to it.

    And, as Sakura wakes up, so too is my daughter and her husband in my arms.

    Slowly, I pull them all close, just relaxing.

    Fenris is hugging me. I just hug my family close, as well as I can, and ignore my exhausted body to do so.

    For a long while, I just relax, letting my exhausted body enjoy the hugs of family.

    And, as I fall asleep again, I relax more. Things can wait for once, damn it. I’m not going to ignore the first and only vacation from the hell of keeping humanity alive that I’ve gotten, in over three millennia…

    As I fall back asleep, I close my eyes, wishing Scylla was with me once more.

    Damn it, Scylla. I wanted you with me, too…





    It takes years to recover enough to move again.

    The sheer amount of surgery alone is horrific, to get my ruined body into a properly working state. The Mechanical Linkup Suit, along with everything else jury rigged as it was, let me be linked crystal clear to the robot duplicate of myself, yes. The Gem of Power, jury-rigged to work into a two way consciousness stream and Legend connection, as well.

    But at horrific costs to myself. I knew that going in.

    It still hurts though, to realize how weak I’ve become.

    I broke something important, winning that fight. Something that I won’t ever be able to repair, I think.

    Machines still come easy to me. Forging, yes. Innovation, yes, though less so. Ice and Pykrete… not anymore. Nor does Legend. A mere trickle, at best, compared to the massive quantity I once had.

    I sit, quietly watching the clouds from the islands we’re living on, my wife in my arms and Fenris at my side. Just watching, looking over them.

    Eventually the ash and dust clouds fade enough, as we’d hoped for today, to get a good view. Of the ocean where Yharnham once was.

    A massive crater, continents wide, and a faintly glowing, slightly molten core.

    Slowly, my wife and I both sigh in relief at the sight.

    “It’s going to take a very long time for the wound to heal. Millennia, perhaps tens of millennia.” My wife whispers, as we stare at the gaping wound in the planet, where Wolf Home fell.

    “It took pretty much every divine relic I had left, to kill the bastard.” I admit, quietly, just watching for a long while, before bowing my head. “Damn it, Scylla. Why didn’t you tell me you were going to do something stupid to help?”

    Tamamo, my darling wife hums softly to a tune Scylla liked, then helps me up. “We never did check what his workshop had for you, did we?”

    For a moment, my first reaction is to blink. Then I just put my face in my palms, quietly. “Ugh. We didn’t, did we? Let’s go before we get side tracked by my recovery, again.”

    The workshop, hastily set up in New Nippon, is quiet and dark when we arrive. Though the residents have started calling it “Planned Nippon” or “Planned Neppon” instead. Odd, but amusing to hear.

    Apparently with how Amaterasu set things up, so many people loved how she’d restructured the islands of Japan, that most inhabitants fell in love with things.

    Ironic, that.

    “So much done just while running the hell away, huh?” I murmur, as I walk, trying to ignore my crutches as I go.

    Inside, the place is cold. Computers, once lit up with life, are dark and silent. Computers that I know won’t broadcast him ever again.

    All but one, at least. One has a sign on it saying “Turn on when you’re here, Boss!”.

    I move up, then kneel to hit the power button.

    My back nearly gives out, as I do so, and I wince, leaning against the table.

    Tamamo’s behind me, moments later, pulling my back straight. But that really fucking hurt damn it!

    My eyes look over the screen as things resolve, before I click on the file that says “Read me”.

    “Hey, Boss.

    If you’re reading this? I’m dead.

    Yeah. Sorry to go without letting you know what I was doing, but let’s be honest. You wouldn’t have let me do it if you’d known what I was up to, and I wasn’t going to let you face off with that bastard alone.

    Not without stacking the deck in your favor, one last time.

    We’ve been allies and partners for over three millennia. I knew you were planning on something stupid.

    I’ve had your back as your supercomputer for that long. I wasn’t going to leave you alone.

    Nor do I plan to, now.

    I found out how Ixion made me, when trying to figure out how to ascend to become a God, you know? And though I wouldn’t replicate what happened to me, I figured out how to have kids somewhere in there. Of a sort, anyways. They’re deeper into the facility, just waiting for you to wake them up for the first time.

    Histoire, and Criore are their names. Take good care of them boss, please? They’re my two kids, made outside my image. Because I wouldn’t wish this life on anyone else.

    I know you’ll be a better father to them than I would’ve been. So take care, Boss. You’re the best friend a brain in a jar could have, and I’m honored to have lived with you as long as I did.

    Love,
    Scylla”

    I lean back, feeling my wife catch me. I’m just staring mutely at the screen, even as her arms wrap around me, supporting me.

    Tamamo’s looking over my shoulder, staring wide eyed in shock. Just as much as I know I feel, over the words on the screen.

    The last parting words of my friend.

    “Fuck my life. Damn it, Scylla…” I close my eyes, leaning against my wife and my cane, wiping away tears quietly.




    Eventually, we walked further in. It’s colder here. Hastily built labs, notes all over the place.

    Scylla writing, about how he was developing his children. Scribbled on notepads. On random tablets.

    For a moment, I bend a bit, studying the notes carefully.

    “…He surpassed me in understanding science, huh?” I murmur, before closing my eyes. I can barely understand it.

    As we go through, I can see hastily scribbled notes multiply.

    Then I glance at a computer, still running even now. Hundreds of notes on an email, never finished being sent, appear when I turn the monitor on.

    It’s addressed to me.

    Notes on what Ymir, no, Aurgelmir did. On the crystallized Legend.

    Notes on all sorts of things Scylla had noted during the fight. Breakthroughs he had figured out at the last moment, designs for something similar to that Heart of Winter replica Sakura had used as a power source, and how to possibly empower it on Crystallized Legend, to force something like a temporary Ascension on the user. To being a God in full, while the Legend holds out.

    And a note at the very bottom.

    “Sorry, Boss. Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to teleport out with how draining the illusion’s been. Take care of my kids, okay?”

    I close my eyes, then click on the “send” button weakly.

    Then I look up, as Fenris finally finds the lights for the place.

    Two figures are in pods, sitting on… books?

    Slowly, I walk over, before leaning in to look at them closer.

    Two children, with books. Those books feel a lot like the crystal shell Scylla had been contained in for so long.

    Slowly, I look for a hatch release, or something like that.

    “Dear. They’re already awake. Look at their faces.” My wife’s voice hits me, and I look up at them. Studying me in the tank, wide eyed with youthful innocence.

    Then the little girl waves at me, and the tanks both open at once.

    “Histoire and Criore, huh?” I pull them out, gently, hugging my friend’s children. “I’m Erik, a friend of your late father’s. I’ll be responsible for your care, okay?”

    “Considering we weren’t supposed to be awake or around unless our old man died?” The boy retorts, casually. “I’m Criore. Nice to meet you. An expert on dimensions, if nothing else.”

    “And I’m Histoire. Meant to be a historian and general adjutant. Unfortunately, our father didn’t have as much time to teach us before he died. We were only in the final stages of completion when he…” Histoire goes quiet, as I nod. And hug them both closer, gently.

    “I’ll help you figure out what you want to be, over time. Okay?” I whisper. “Call me Uncle Erik.”

    Two gentle nods from the tiny kids, as they both give me a warm hug. Then my wife is beside me, hugging them too. “And call me Auntie Tamamo!” She smiles.

    “Let’s get them home.” Fenris states from the back. “We can come here and look over the gear later.”

    I nod, feeling tired. “Yeah, let’s. I’m sure these two are hungry.”




    Years pass, as they always do.

    I teach my kids, the few who remain, at least. Most have gone to one Wolf Home or another to have as their private kingdom, full of human followers, however. It’s better for them to keep some of their abilities, than staying and losing what’s left. I also teach Scylla’s two children, and we all work to build. Me as the de-facto leader of whatever divine group is left on the planet.

    With nearly no Legend left, and the sheer amount of Demigods, not to mention Gods, however? It’s not worth much. Longer lifespans. Being a bit stronger than humans.

    Every person now is a hero, but no hero is strong enough to gain Legend anymore.

    Equality.

    Then the world changes again, as Sakura, Amaterasu, and Sakura ask for a meeting.

    “We’ve figured out what Scylla was up to.” Shirou announces, leaving me blinking up at him in surprise.

    “Oh?” I ask, curiosity taking over. “What exactly was it?”

    “It’s like a biological CPU unit.” Sakura admits. “One that takes Legend, amplifies it through faith of followers, and utilizes it to… temporarily force someone through Apotheosis. A temporary form of Godhood, if you will.”

    I sit back, thinking, a frown on my face. “Most of my children have left. Gone to keep their divine power. Still, this…” I trail off, thoughtfully.

    “Aurgelmir was more brilliant than we realized, and it took a long while to figure out what he did, and replicate it. But he figured out some way to harvest divine faith into pure Legend, far more efficiently. Even from Demigods and full fledged Gods.” Amaterasu admits, quietly. “You’re a shell of your former self, so I’m not sure how compatible it would be for you. But…” She trails off, thoughtfully.

    “It’s a temporary powerup instead of the long term power we had before, huh?” I think as I speak, thoughtfully.

    Three nods answer me.

    Then I look at them, eyes narrowing. “What cost is there for using it? Making it?”

    A long silence answers me, before they sigh. Then Shirou speaks up. “Probably what divine power we have left. Let’s face it, father in law. Sakura and I aren’t generating Legend past the bare minimum. You broke something to yourself, when you did what you did. If it takes the rest of us doing something similar, so our descendants can have even a fragment of the power we once held…” Shirou trails off, hugging Sakura close, gently.

    I sigh, leaning back into my chair thoughtfully.

    “What of Fenris and my wife, then? What are their thoughts?” I ask, quietly.

    “Fenris has always been your guide, has he not? As has your wife. Those bonds mean they’re going to not stop guiding you. And as their Legend is tied to that…?” Amaterasu admits softly.

    “So if I’m weaker, they are as well, huh?” I murmur, quietly. Three nods answer me, as I lean back to think.

    “Admittedly…” Shirou trails off, thinking. “If there was more Legend. More faith. Perhaps it would work as a reactor, instead. In higher areas of Legend, or perhaps with loyal followers constantly praying for someone’s safety... With how low the Legend is, though? How little magic is left, aside from what my mother in law has devised, as well as Lady Amaterasu?”

    “It’s not enough, is it?” I sigh, thoughtfully, as I speak.

    Shirou shakes his head. “And with how little Scylla wrote of his breakthrough…” Shirou sighs. “Maybe if we had more information, we could make it better than this. But he wasn’t good at this. And by the time Sakura gave it to you…”

    I sigh. “I was too weak to analyze it properly.”

    “It’s not your fault, father.” Sakura pulls me into a hug. “If I’d realized that I was being misled sooner, perhaps…”

    I sigh, relaxing against my formerly estranged daughter’s arms for a bit, just letting myself relax for the moment.

    Then I look up at the others in the room. “Sorry for being tired. I may have won…

    “But you paid the price.” Shirou nods quietly. “Just like we’re working to do, in order to ensure there’s some way for our own descendants to have power even a fraction of as strong as what we used to wield.”

    I pull him over, gently, and hug him as well. “I’ll support you, however you wish.” It’s all I can do, right now, with how exhausted and bone weary I am.

    Amaterasu nods, then settles back, thinking.

    “We could use parts of the Wolfen, as an amplifier for the buildings for our descendants to be leaders in.” She finally admits, quietly.

    I blink, feeling both my daughter and son-in-law still, before turning to look at her. Then I let go of them, and lean myself forward to study her more. “Go on.”

    Amaterasu smiles. “Your Wolfen is made of divinely forged materials, even if the Legend within them is weakened drastically. Damaged to the point of being unworking as to its original purpose, but it still is a divinely forged relic made of supernatural metals. Divinely forged metals, at that. If we divide it into four equal parts, one for each continent, we could use them to create buildings for the ones to eventually replace us.”

    I hum as I think. “It’s going to take decades to work that out.” I finally admit.

    Amaterasu nods. “We have that time.”

    I breathe out, leaning back into my comfortable chair as I think. Calculating, working out different plans in my head, before nodding. “It’s more doable, if we split it according to Wolfen’s different functions as a tower, more than the original functions as a ship. If we do that, and then redesign them afterwards to be more administration focused, it should work better.”

    Amaterasu blinks in surprise, before nodding slowly. “With that, we could easily link each country’s guidance and movement system, to more easily move to access each other.”

    Shirou nods. “Eventually with the plan of perhaps making them eventually hook up? With division comes conflict, and even if we remember things as they are now, our descendants may eventually not.

    Sakura frowns, nodding silently at Shirou’s point. “Especially if any of Aurgelmir’s brainwashed followers still exist, or any Frostspawn. With how they targeted history…”

    I nod as I think. “We’d need someone to work as an advisor. One that they’d trust, or at least one group would trust, to be a historian…” Then I pause, thoughtfully. “And considering one of Scylla’s children is literally named Histoire…”

    “Leaving her as a guide for one of the countries?” Amaterasu thinks it over, before nodding. “Acting as an example for them.”

    “As well as an example of how to be a good advisor.” I muse.

    “Grandpa! Grandpa, look at me!” Sakura and Shirou’s not so young Hotaru comes rushing in, Histoire and Criore on her shoulders. In her hands, the prototype of her parent’s project, and a chunk of crystallized Legend. “I figured out how to do something neat!”

    With those words, a sharp two beeps emit from the device. Then she shifts, eyes glowing ice blue with something much like a power switch from a computer glowing in her eyes, as her body glows. Multiple pieces of armor slam into place, leaving her in a tight bodysuit with long gloves and tight thigh high boots on.

    And a giant fucking sword, something like Berserk’s Dragonslayer, only with an extra long handle instead of something tiny and hard to use.

    “Huh. Well now.” I kneel, looking at her closely. Then I pull her close, gently hugging her.

    “Gah! Grandpa!” Hotaru yelps. “I’m over two hundred, I don’t need hugs!”

    “You just cracked some issues we didn’t even realize we had, Granddaughter.” I smile as I hug her closer. “And proved that our plan will work fine in the long run.”

    “Eh? Really?!” Hotaru smiles up at me, before I kiss her forehead. “Gah! Old grandpa kisses!”

    I can’t help but laugh softly.




    5,000 years later




    “It’s been a long while since we last met like this.” I glance over at Sakura, who smiles up at me. “Are your great great great grandkids doing quite well as the leader of Last Station?”

    “They call it Lastation now. Apparently they went on a video game theme as Deities this time around.” Sakura giggles softly. “It’s quite adorable, and both of them are quite adorable little tsunderes. Both Noire and Uni are just so adorable, the way they blush and stammer while insisting they aren’t doing it because they like anyone!”

    “And to imagine they’re working together so well, it’s fusing the four continents into one soon…” Amaterasu smiles. “My own descendants are adorable, ruling Hawaii. Though now it’s called Lowee, and full of snow. Blanc, and her cute adorable sisters, Rom and Ram are all sweet, if rather… flat compared to myself. Though they haven’t quite realized that the ruler of Wales is a cousin, if by four or five degrees off. Though she’s called it Leanbox now. I’m not sure how Vert got my cleavage while those three didn’t…” Amaterasu trails off, muttering under her breath.

    “How the hell does it go from Wales to Leanbox?” I mutter. “I mean, I get where Planned Nippon can turn into Planeptune… but Wales to Leanbox?”

    “It started getting nicknamed as Lean Wales. Then became Lean Ales. And with Vert somehow finding an ancient, well hacked Xbox, figuring out how to get the ancient technology working, and getting addicted…?” Amaterasu giggles.

    I just rub my temples. “Of course. Of freaking course. You gave her yours, didn’t you?”


    Amaterasu smirks at me, but says nothing.

    “Our own descendants take a lot after me, even if it’s turned from pink to purple.” Tamamo smiles as she pulls me in for a hug. “And little Nepgear takes a lot after you, dear, even if her older sister, Neptune, doesn’t. I think it’s about time you introduce yourself to her and give her a little push towards mecha.”

    I pause, looking at my wife. “What’s Neptune like, then?”

    “Oh, she loves to eat pudding, loves attention, and loves to help others!” Tamamo smiles.

    “Oh? Loves attention, hmm?” I smile, pulling my wife in for a kiss, then gently pin her arms to her sides, and smirk at her while not letting her tickle me in the next few moments. “Just like you, my adorable wife. You love to get people to pay attention to you, after all.”

    Tamamo pouts at me. “You’re not supposed to bring attention to that, dear!”

    “It’s the husband’s prerogative to tease the cute adorable foxy wife, you know?” I retort, and kiss my wife again.

    “Oh, right.” Shirou speaks up. “Erik? I spotted Criore recently. He’s been around half haphazardly, but it looks like he’s been jumping… timelines somehow as of late.”

    I pause, blinking, then turn to look at him.

    “Weren’t we demonstratively in a pruned timeline?” I mutter under my breath, thinking.

    “Apparently either the little scamp fixed it, or we somehow broke the pruning.” Shirou muses. “Or we’re making new timelines as a result of your putting down the big icy bastard.”

    I settle back, thinking. Then nod resolutely. “If there’s timelines coming, we should at least be prepared in case of temporal incursion.”

    “Agreed.” The room speaks.

    Shirou pauses, thinking, before snapping his fingers. “Oh, right. It looks like we don’t need to worry about those creature generators anytime soon. The locals call them ‘dungeons’ now, not realizing they’re pulling matter from the surface to make into creatures for them to fight.”

    “Gotcha.” I smile, stretching. “Means I don’t have to worry about checking up on that stuff.”

    “Anything else?” Sakura asks the room, before looking around. “Guess not.”

    “With that, I’ll be off to look at the crater of Yharnham.” I nod at everyone. “It’s about time to do the yearly check of things.”

    My wife follows, smiling. I know she’ll get me back for teasing her, likely with a hot sauce filled cupcake or something else nearly as evil, but I really don’t care right now. Even while I use a cane, it’s not that hard a walk. To go to the edge of the island we live on, and sit to watch things. At the ancient picnic bench there.

    For a long while, my wife and I just sit together. Watching as the island slowly gets nearer and nearer to the massive crater I made, so long ago.

    Then I hear footsteps, steadily coming up from behind.

    “This is the place, Histoire? It looks like no one’s been here for a long while. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t even be able to tell there’s a trail.” One young girl speaks up.

    “Indeed. Your ancestors made it, long ago, so we could see and remember the fighting from back then.” Histoire admits.

    “That massive crater…” The first voice whispers. “Wait, you know what it was from?”

    “Aww, this is all so boring, Histy! Can’t we go and get some pudding instead of looking at this?” A third voice echoes, as people get close.

    I glance back, then chuckle aloud. “Histoire, how have you been!”

    “Eh?” Three voices echo confusion.

    “Uncle Erik?!” Histoire rounds the bend, eyes wide in surprise, and stunned shock. “You’re alive?! I couldn’t find you after I was brought out of stasis!”

    I smile, and wave. “Taking good care of my descendants that wound up ruling over New Nippon, I see. And you must be Nepgear and Neptune…”

    Two mute purplettes stare at me in confusion, while Histoire smiles widely in stunned realization that I’m still around, and still here.

    “We meet up to gossip about how our descendants are doing, after getting out of orbit.” I admit, grinning. “From what I’ve heard, Neptune is much like my wife here, and Nepgear takes much more after me, with a love of mecha.”

    Twin, wide eyed blinks, before Nepgear and Neptune stare at each other. Then at Tamamo, before blinking at me again.

    Histoire, on the other hand, comes up to hug my arm gently.

    “Who…? Who are you? With the wars against Arfoire… we didn’t have family to call our own. Why didn’t you come?” Neptune finally whispers.


    “I’m too weakened from winning the war that killed her former boss, to be of much help. It’s taken a very long time for me to even be able to move this freely, kiddo. But I’m your great grandpa, with quite a few greats somewhere in there that I’m leaving out. What with being one of the three people that made that giant crater we’ll be able to soon see.” I reply, quietly. “As for where I was, I was riding out the storm in orbit, as did a few of your relatives.”

    You’re the cause of the crater?” Nepgear blinks. Then goes wide eyed in realization. “Neptune, we have a grandma and grandpa, even if they’re super old! Do you know what this means?”

    “Free pudding whenever we visit?” Neptune asks, eyes shimmering with glee.

    “And hugs. Lots of hugs.” I state, smiling.

    Two descendants come over, and we don’t hesitate in hugging them, along with little Histoire. Scylla’s daughter indeed. Ageless, but immortal. Even if it’s in a different way from us.

    “As for me, I’m the former Norse God of Mecha, before I broke my divinity in putting down a bastard of a giant, with my best friend deciding to sneak into the giant space station we dropped on that bastard.” I glance over the two, then at Histoire, before patting her hair. “Histoire’s father, in fact. Scylla was a good friend, and if he hadn’t done what he’d done, we may have had giant monsters jumping onto the islands and pulling them down to freeze everyone before they could result in you all.”

    “Then the crater…?” Nepgear asks, quietly.

    “The results of the antimatter reactors going up, after the bastard survived things, only for Scylla to detonate the reactors to finish putting that monster down.” I admit, quietly. “He died a hero, but left his children alone.”

    Histoire hugs my arm, gently. I pull Scylla’s daughter into a hug as well.

    The clouds fade, and we can see years of lava pooling to fill in the crater.

    “Norse God? That’s a lot different from being a CPU…” Neptune murmurs.

    “Well, we’re all immortal here, so why don’t you relax and let me tell you all about it?” I smile, softly.

    I may be weakened, but they’re family, after all.

    “Oh, oh! Can I have pudding?!” Neptune asks, a smile on her face.

    Tamamo can’t help but laugh.


    Author’s Notes:

    Yup. A surprise Hyperdimension Neptunia crossover, as the ending for the Interludes. The pruning broke, and it’s sprouting new timelines instead of being linked to a Fate setting.

    Because it makes a hell of a lot of sense, as a step up, with how fucked the planet got. And they literally live on flying islands that float in the sky.

    I mean, admittedly? I could have pulled a Sonic the Hedgehog setting instead. But even if I went full Archie Comics… Mobius is just fucked up.

    Not touching that. Nope. Not with how much backstory, time and work it would take to set that up. Tens of thousands more years, at least. And with how native animals would have to mutate into bipedal life forms? NOPE.

    Neptunia is typically a lot more lighthearted. The fourth wall breaking protagonist, Neptune, doesn’t hurt either.

    And it easily worked out, too.

    So instead of getting something horrible, and hard to get through? You get a series where Gods could make sense with derivatives of a Cosmoreactor and what Erik’s tech level went to, towards the end.

    With this, Fate/Anarchy is finally done, interludes and all. Wooph. Nearly 3 years. What a ride, huh?

    As far as I thought this would possibly take two interludes, it’s only taken one. Mostly because there’s about as much “backstory hints” for this, as there is for the Megaman X series. Yes, there’s some for the Neptunia games, but… not as much as I’d like, to be able to write in it. Not without making things up whole cloth.
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

    I write like Douglas Adams. Proof: http://iwl.me/s/696f37bd

  16. #836
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle
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    I was wondering about the amount of Nep in those names... but I don't actually know much about Hyperdimension Neptunia, so I missed Croire and Histoire outright, and I kinda suspect that computer-based magical girl transformations are also part of the setting. (Checking: oh yeah, definitely)

    The time scale/skip works well in this interlude. I recall having mixed opinions about interlude 3 (long time skips with relatively small technological and cultural changes, but were excellent thematically for the decaying world), but the feeling of setting up a legacy and then letting it run itself feels very fitting for a god, and the reactions of other characters seem appropriate for Erik being considered dead.

    A few parts feel very... techno-babble-y? About the way Legend works in this world, but it does need some explanation, since Erik being severely weakened (and, by extension, his children not being much more powerful than minor heroes) is a critical part of the setting being stable over that time range. Seems quite fitting in a pruned timeline. A mix of conservation of ninjutsu and "when everyone is special, no one will be". It also seems to dovetail quite nicely into Hyperdimension Neptunia's "share" based power system, and a general "gods need prayer badly", of course. And... oh, I didn't notice that's a more Legend-oriented description of Hyperdimension Neptunia's powering-up system, that does explain why it feels strange.
    It's also not super clear what Erik and co. are doing over those 5000 years, but I suppose they're taking a more hands-off approach.

    I mildly would have preferred this before the final non-interlude epilogues, since it's essentially an entirely different continuity and only loosely related to the main story at this point, but I suspect both you and Kieran did as well, and it was mostly a matter of not wanting to delay otherwise-finished work.

  17. #837
    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    I was wondering about the amount of Nep in those names... but I don't actually know much about Hyperdimension Neptunia, so I missed Croire and Histoire outright, and I kinda suspect that computer-based magical girl transformations are also part of the setting. (Checking: oh yeah, definitely)

    The time scale/skip works well in this interlude. I recall having mixed opinions about interlude 3 (long time skips with relatively small technological and cultural changes, but were excellent thematically for the decaying world), but the feeling of setting up a legacy and then letting it run itself feels very fitting for a god, and the reactions of other characters seem appropriate for Erik being considered dead.

    A few parts feel very... techno-babble-y? About the way Legend works in this world, but it does need some explanation, since Erik being severely weakened (and, by extension, his children not being much more powerful than minor heroes) is a critical part of the setting being stable over that time range. Seems quite fitting in a pruned timeline. A mix of conservation of ninjutsu and "when everyone is special, no one will be". It also seems to dovetail quite nicely into Hyperdimension Neptunia's "share" based power system, and a general "gods need prayer badly", of course. And... oh, I didn't notice that's a more Legend-oriented description of Hyperdimension Neptunia's powering-up system, that does explain why it feels strange.
    It's also not super clear what Erik and co. are doing over those 5000 years, but I suppose they're taking a more hands-off approach.

    I mildly would have preferred this before the final non-interlude epilogues, since it's essentially an entirely different continuity and only loosely related to the main story at this point, but I suspect both you and Kieran did as well, and it was mostly a matter of not wanting to delay otherwise-finished work.
    Glad you enjoyed it, even if it was confusing in parts. Unfortunately, the other night was when about all but 3 pages of this was written. I'd had vague ideas for how it could go, but where I'd managed to get a rough outline, but it took an all night binge-writing for this to come out for most of it. I really wish it had come out before the other one, but between working on the sequel's first chapter, working more on the Wolfen side story while taking notes on what chapters were posted where, so I can copy and paste chapters over to the thread I'll be making, working out where I'll go since the Saber Alter sidestory is now kaput, etc. etc.? I have limits to how much I can push into writing a day before I might burn out. And unless it works out perfectly? It's going to simply be roughly timed sometimes. Sorry. (Kinda a pity, too, for that Saber Alter sidestory. I had fun plans for that one.)

    It's a Legend oriented explanation for the power-up system from Neptunia, which outright makes sense for both settings. A hint towards what Erik's doing over 5,000 years is what he was doing before that, teaching his few descendants. But it's also the whole "Off planet for Arfoire's war" bit. Neptunia canon calls Arfoire the "Goddess of Sin" who curbstomped the prior leaders of the four countries, after all... quite possibly multiple times and generations, at that.

    And boy, she has purplish hair and purple lipstick, too! Which could very well fit another corrupted descendant of Tamamo...

    Hopefully it feels a lot better as a setup for a legacy, etc. than Interlude 3 did to show decay.
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

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  18. #838
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    I mildly would have preferred this before the final non-interlude epilogues, since it's essentially an entirely different continuity and only loosely related to the main story at this point, but I suspect both you and Kieran did as well, and it was mostly a matter of not wanting to delay otherwise-finished work.
    Pretty much, yes - and since, as RB said, all but 3 pages were written yesterday, I had no way to guess at how much further delay there would need to be . . . *Shrugs* It irks me, too, on an "internal tidyness" level; but I knew it would, and ultimately decided not to keep people in suspense, regardless.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

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    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  19. #839
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    Quote Originally Posted by RanmaBushiko View Post
    It's a Legend oriented explanation for the power-up system from Neptunia, which outright makes sense for both settings.
    Yeah, that's roughly what I figured after a bit of reading. I suppose it feels a bit weird because most of the Neptunia concepts aren't really in the story before this point, and I'm not familiar with them. It is a very good conceptual integration.
    A hint towards what Erik's doing over 5,000 years is what he was doing before that, teaching his few descendants. But it's also the whole "Off planet for Arfoire's war" bit. Neptunia canon calls Arfoire the "Goddess of Sin" who curbstomped the prior leaders of the four countries, after all... quite possibly multiple times and generations, at that.
    I really should have looked up Arfoire as well. I was assuming he was teaching/guiding in a more indirect way... actually off-planet to Wolf Home or similar, if those were sufficiently-interstellar distances makes sense, especially if he can't Rainbow Bridge himself around.

    Hopefully it feels a lot better as a setup for a legacy, etc. than Interlude 3 did to show decay.
    I think both did a pretty good job, Interlude 3 was really focused, the repetition of themes was quite potent. This is a bit more open-ended, which is exactly what a legacy needs to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Pretty much, yes - and since, as RB said, all but 3 pages were written yesterday, I had no way to guess at how much further delay there would need to be . . . *Shrugs* It irks me, too, on an "internal tidyness" level; but I knew it would, and ultimately decided not to keep people in suspense, regardless.
    It's a pretty minor difference overall, just couldn't avoid noticing it when reading. I'm going to attribute that to the epilogues wrapping (almost) everything up neatly, and that final chapter really nailing the ending

  20. #840
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Thank you.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

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    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

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