- Chapter 1 -
Emiya Shirou darted down the corridors of the Clock Tower, shielding his eyes from the plumes of fire that erupted from its walls with his right hand. His left was tightly interlaced between Tohsaka Rin's slender fingers that were covered in soot. The couple raced for the roof as the flames of civil war engulfed the Mage's Association.
I am the bone of my sword
Steel is my body and fire is my blood
A longbow, dark as obsidian materialized in his hand. Shirou wheeled around and aimed his bow at the burning corridor behind him and was forced to let go of Rin's hand.
"Shirou! What are you - "
"She's coming. I'm going to try to slow her down - "
"No, we're going to do this toge- "
An explosion rocked the upper levels of the Clock Tower, spewing fragments of rubble across the flames. Their assailant was a tall woman with long dark hair, glowing Celtic runes hovered in the air around her like the numbers on a clock. Her scarlet eyes glowed brighter than the flames around her and in her right hand was a long demonic spear, dyed red like the woman's eyes, such that it was impossible to make out the blood on its barbed blade.
I have created over a thousand blades
Unaware of loss, nor aware of gain
Withstood pain to create many weapons, waiting for one's arrival
A simple black arrow appeared in Shirou's hand. He nocked and drew the arrow he traced back as far as the long bow would allow.
"The helicopter is here. Go. Now!"
"Damn it!" scowled Rin under her breath but ran up the stairs towards the roof.
I have no regrets. This is the only path
He loosed the arrow and it whizzed straight towards its unsuspecting victim with such power and velocity, it would have ended any Magus' life in that instant. But the woman reacted with inhumanely rapid reflexes. She spun her spear to defend herself, swatting the arrow out of the air with impunity. Tracing the origin of the projectile, she turned her scarlet eyes on Shirou - he had given away the element of surprise but was unsuccessful in taking out his target.
Shirou immediately traced and loosed a second, a third arrow at the spearwoman, but she simply knocked both off course as if it were merely child's play and continued her advance. Shirou traced his fourth arrow. But this time instead of an ordinary projection, he filled the arrow with mana and launched it at a pillar just out of the spear's reach. The arrow self-destructed upon impact releasing its stored mana in an explosion, causing the building to lose its structural integrity and a massive slab of rubble collapsed directly on the woman, burying her under two tons of concrete.
Knowing that he had bought them enough time, Shirou ran up the stairs after Rin.
- 0 - 0 - 0 -
Shirou burst open the door to the roof and could immediately feel the powerful downwash from the rotating blades of the helicopter blowing his auburn hair that had massive chunks bleached from his excessive use of projection magecraft over the years. His heart was beating frantically - time was running out, but once he felt Rin's fingers tighten around his own, he started to regain his composure. He remembered what he needed to protect, he remembered what he was fighting for.
Before the helicopter could even come into his field of vision, a familiar whizzing sound rushed through the air and his heart crunched with dread. Somewhere, someplace, an arrow was loosed. But this arrow packed the immense strength of a comet, casting its ominous shadowy tail as it streaked across the sky and decimated its target upon impact. The helicopter came into view. A roaring ball of fire, a twisted heap of scrap metal hurtling towards the courtyard of the Clock Tower where it crashed and made an enormous fiery plume.
On the far side of the roof, Shirou saw the two men that cut off their route forward. The archer had his face covered by a black shroud lined with gold trim and in his heavily muscled hands, he held a massive black bow - a bow was so large it could just as easily been classified as a ballista. The other man was a knight in gleaming silver armour that resembled the scales of a dragon, but his armour left a gaping hole at his chest where a sigil glowed green marking the knight's beating heart. Shirou instinctively turned his head back at the stairway, but the spearwoman somersaulted into view and stood in the way of the couple's last hope for escape.
"Enough games, Lancer. You have let them live for far too long," boomed a voice artificially enhanced by magecraft. "Kill them. Kill them both. Use your Noble Phantasm. I command you with the power of a Command Seal."
Noble Phantasm. Lancer. Command Seals. Words that were familiar to both Shirou and Rin, survivors of the Fifth Holy Grail War. Words that the couple had fought to ensure would never be spoken again, but their efforts were clearly in vain. Words that have caused men to obsess over the brutal Fuyuki Grail Wars for over two centuries had now resulted in a civil war amidst the Mage's Association.
Lancer flared up with angry red energy and took on a stance ready to drive her monstrous barbed spear through both her targets. A Command Seal had been expended, a command of unconditional, absolute obedience, a command that ensured that Lancer would stop at nothing to achieve her Master's desire. Shirou quickly ran the calculations in his head and saw that he was left with only one choice.
Lancer bounded forward and thrust forth her demonic spear, calling out the true name of her Noble Phantasm. Lancer's voice was muffled by the mask that covered her mouth and was further silenced by the roaring flames, her Noble Phantasm's true name was practically inaudible. However, Shirou had already anticipated the attack that was coming. After all, his heart had been pierced by the exact same spear just over a decade ago.
Mana rushed through his magic circuits and Shirou recited the final lines of his incantation:
My whole life was... Unlimited Blade Works!
A surge of energy emanated from Shirou and the Clock Tower was consumed by a brilliant flash of light. An ever-expanding ring of fire that consumed but did not burn spread across the ground as he deployed his Reality Marble.
- 0 - 0 - 0 -
Shirou and Rin opened their eyes to a graveyard of countless swords with their blade tips anchored into the dirt, lit by an evening twilight that cast its boundless amber light across the horizon that seemed to stretch on forever and had no end. Unlimited Blade Works, Shirou's Reality Marble, a reflection of his inner mind. Every weapon he had ever forged, or had even encountered was stored here, an armoury that housed an endless supply of weapons - except there was no enemy.
"What is the meaning of this Shirou?" yelled Rin in disbelief. "Why didn't you bring them in - "
"I was forced into deploying Unlimited Blade Works," explained Shirou. "It was our only way to get around Gáe Bolg - "
"G-Gáe Bolg...?" Rin ran her fingers across ruby pendant around her neck and she understood.
Shirou nodded. Gáe Bolg, a demonic spear that could reverse cause and effect. A strike from the cursed spear was guaranteed as long as it's true name was called, on top of that, a heart pierced by its barbed blade cannot be healed. Unless, of course... if the spear's intended target had vanished from reality. Such as being pulled into a Reality Marble like his.
"Lancer, Cú Chulainn... But how is that possible? That Servant was definitely a woman. There's no way Cú Chulainn is a - "
"Doesn't matter," said Shirou, surveying the twilight bathed skyline that was beginning to tear itself apart. "We don't have much time left, Rin."
"Yeah, so let us out so we can beat them and end this senseless civil war!"
"There are three Servants out there. Look Tohsaka, we have to face the facts - "
"No! This war isn't over as long as there are people willing to fight for what is right. As long as I draw breath, this war isn't over," cried Rin in denial, tears shimmered as they rolled down her cheeks. "We haven't lost... Not yet."
"You're right. This war is just beginning. But to move on, we have to admit that we made mistakes, and they have won this roun - "
Before Shirou could finish his sentence, Rin raised her hand high and slapped him across his cheek.
"Emiya-kun, you've changed," muttered Rin. "You promised... You promised me we would dismantle the Fuyuki Grail together."
"Tohsaka, look at the back of your hand. Tell me what you see."
Rin inspected her slender hands covered in ash and soot, but there was nothing.
Shirou held up his left hand so that Rin could see the back of his palm. Three Command Seals shaped like a three-segmented sword were carved into the back of his hand, exactly as they were placed over a decade ago during the Fifth Holy Grail War. Emiya Shirou was once again chosen by the Greater Grail to fight as a Master in the Sixth Holy Grail War.
"This. This is how we win the war," declared Shirou. "But for that to happen, we have accept that we lost the battle today."
"Y-You're an idiot, Shirou," scowled Rin, wiping aside her tears. "Good, now get out there and kick their asses!"
"Rin... There's something I want - no I have to do first."
A blinding flash of gold radiated from Shirou's chest and a gleaming scabbard started to emerge from his chest.
"That's - " shouted Rin in disbelief.
"Avalon," finished Shirou. "Arturia's scabbard. You were once Saber's Master too, your connection to it should be just as strong."
"You can't possibly be asking me to - "
"I want you to take it."
"But - "
"As long as you have it," stuttered Shirou, tears began to fill his eyes. "As long as you have it... I know you're going to be safe. Rin... I-I can't - "
I can't lose you. Is what Shirou wanted to say, but the words wouldn't leave his mouth.
Rin rushed forward to wrap her hands around Shirou's waist and planted her lips onto his. And as she did, Avalon sealed itself into her body, granting her a powerful regenerative immortality.
The Reality Marble started to crumble. The endless twilight horizon began to shatter like glass and fissures started to appear in the ground. Their time was up.
"Rin," began Shirou slowly. "What I'm about to do next... You'll hate me for it. But you'll understand why I did it someday."
Shirou hardened his heart, but he knew what needed to be done. He shoved Rin with all his might, and she staggered two meters away from him.
"Shirou - "
A dozen massive azure swords rained from the shattered dome above, slicing through her flesh and dug themselves deep into the ground. The swords landed in a perfect circle around Rin, imprisoning the Magus in a cage of swords just as the Reality Marble tore itself apart and the flames of reality began to consume them and the outside world swam into view.
When the flames died, Tohsaka Rin was surrounded by three Servants and half the population of the Mage's Association. Trapped behind a cage of massive swords and incapacitated by her numerous slash wounds on her arms and feet that ripped her clothes, Rin knew she stood no chance fighting her way out. Her aqua eyes darted around frantically, but Emiya Shirou was nowhere to be found.
In the old warehouse by the Fuyuki City harbour, a lone girl sat nonchalantly with her feet up on a makeshift table atop a drum of oil. She was a stunningly beautiful woman. She had her long, platinum hair that shone like moonlight tied into an elegant half-up. Her eyes were as red as roses, her facial features so perfect and so unnaturally symmetrical she looked almost inhuman. She was also a murderer, a fabled assassin. And the six Yakuza members that surrounded her saw to it that she was treated as such. The barrels of their Heckler & Koch MP5s were aimed at her head, threatening to splatter her pretty face with a barrage of 9mm rounds should she so much as shift in her creaking chair.
Over her many years of assassinations, she went by many names and was given many names - Number Thirteen, the Bogeyman, the Spectre, the White Reaper. None she liked more than the name she gave herself, Allison Vaughn.
"The legendary White Reaper. He who kills but is never seen," chuckled a voice that belonged to a seventh man known only as the Collector. "All this time he was a she... World leaders losing their throats in broad daylight, power players consolidating influence gone 'missing', even potentially dangerous children have been found drowning in their own blood. The stories, they can't all be tru - "
"If it makes your stomach turn, it's probably true," Allison replied coolly. "Brought the payment I asked for?"
"An entire jetliner just to kill one man on board," continued the Collector. His voice started to sour and he ignored her question.
"A powerful Magus. Funny why I didn't get that memo," said Allison. "Even if you had problems with my methods, sending two men to kill me after I had the job done... That's cold. Even by my standards."
The warehouse echoed with the clacking of guns as Allison whipped out her heavily customized scarlet AR-15 and had its peripheral laser module aimed right at the Collector's head.
"Two-hundred and thirty-six passengers," snarled the Collector.
"I always get the job done. Even if that means murdering two hundred and thirty-six people," replied Allison now eyeing the Collector's six henchmen. "Two hundred and forty-two, if I have to."
The Collector hissed.
"But I believe we are here to do business. I've got a plane to catch. If it makes you feel any safer, I'll even put my gun away."
Allison unslung her AR-15 and slid it across the floor, far from her own reach.
The Collector raised his eyebrow in suspicion, perplexed by the White Reaper's illogical decision, but he beckoned his henchmen to lower their guns. On the Collector's signal, one of them stepped forward and placed an old rosewood case onto the table.
Allison unhooked the catches and the rosewood case opened, revealing its contents. Sitting on its red velvet cushion was a single-shot, break-action pistol - a Thompson/Center Arms Contender. The Contender's walnut grip and forearm were singed black, a clear indication that the pistol had been ravaged by fire. But upon closer inspection, she could tell that the Contender retained its full functionality. Lining the sides of the velvet accompanying the pistol were seven golden bullets that Allison's trained eyes could immediately tell were .30-06 Springfield cartridges.
The MP5s clacked once again, but this time the Collector's henchmen chambered in their first rounds in unison and pointed their barrels at Allison. The Collector's high-pitched laughter echoed throughout the warehouse.
"Did you really think I'd let the world's most dangerous hitman leave just like that?" laughed the Collector.
"Actually," replied Allison with an equally hearty laughter. "Yes. Yes you will. Because you have no choice - "
"What the hell are you talking about? There are seven of us and only one of you. You have nothing - "
"You put a pistol with seven rounds in front of me, what do you think will happen next?" chuckled Allison, her crimson eyes glowed with a terrifying light.
"Kill her," commanded the Collector. "No loose ends."
Allison smiled and simply uttered the words:
Time Alter: Vorhersage Zwei!
Time froze and ghastly blue projections of every object appeared in Allison's field of sight. While the originals stood deathly still, their blue doppelgangers resumed their movement at one-tenth their normal speed.
Time Alter, a form of Innate Time Control. For Allison, she tweaked it so that it worked on three layers. On the first layer, she froze time on the outside world, but moving in this highly accelerated state would rend her body apart, so on the second layer a bounded field around her body allowed for normal passage of time to flow. Though it still did not allow for movement, it allowed her brain to remember everything that happened during time manipulation. The third layer was a Reality Marble that projected blue shifted predictions of the future. The resulting combination was a Reality Marble that predicted the future within her range of sight. In the case of Vorhersage Zwei, Allison saw only two seconds into the future at the cost of twenty-seconds of real time. The White Reaper was effectively trading her own lifespan each time she activated Time Alter.
Tracing the blue bullet projections, Allison saw that the shots were aimed at herself and the rosewood case with the Contender. Everything was going according to plan.
Time resumed and the Reality Marble faded. Allison dove to her right, avoiding every single bullet as predicted and went for her AR-15 that she tossed aside just five minutes ago. She looked through its Trijicon ACOG sights and uttered the words once again.
Time Alter: Vorhersage Einz!
Even with just one second into future, Allison saw where all the enemy fire was concentrated, she saw where all her targets were and where they were headed. Time resumed and six 5.56mm NATO tracer rounds homed in on their targets with supernatural accuracy, splattering their heads unguarded by helmets, instantly eliminating the Collector's armed henchmen all at once.
The sound of Allison's cocoa brown boots against the floor was all there was in the warehouse as she strolled back to the table with her arms behind her head. Even amidst the smell of smoking gunpowder, Allison could make out the pungent smell of urea as she approached the Collector, who handed the rosewood case over to the White Reaper with trembling hands, muttering to himself.
"Pleasure doing business with you," said Allison.
A sickening crunch resounded throughout the old Fuyuki City warehouse.
The White Reaper drove a Black Key through the Collector's throat and out the back of his skull. Blood and grey matter littered the ground and the man was dead before he hit the floor.
"No loose ends. How ironic," said Allison, with not even a tinge of remorse on her pretty face.
Allison opened the rosewood case and caressed the Contender's charred walnut handle with her slender white fingers gently.
"Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish... What you started."
Rin was curled up in a dark corner of her cell. The only lights that illuminated her cell came from a torch at the far end of the dungeon and the faint bluish glow of the bounded field fortifying the wrought iron bars that kept her imprisoned.
She unwrapped her blood-sodden bandages only to find that there were no wounds, only her smooth white skin. Not even a trace of a scar. Not even at her delicate fingers where the Enforcers had ripped out her fingernails one by one while torturing her for information. Though it did not spare her the excruciating pain, Avalon the scabbard of Excalibur was doing its job.
Rin heard the shuffling of footsteps and the flaming torch gradually approached her cell. She hid her right hand behind her back and conjured a single black orb, Gundr at the tip of her finger. The blue bounded field lifted and the gates to her cell parted. Rin leapt out from the shadows and fired her Gandr shot straight at the silhouetted figure's head.
Before the black curse could connect, there was a dazzling shimmer of silver starlight. The man's Servant materialized and took the hit for his Master. The knight donned a shining silver cuirass shaped like the scales of a dragon. The Servant reached for the handle of his black sword strung on his back in retaliation, but froze when his Master spoke.
"That won't be necessary, Rider. She won't be hurting me."
The dragon knight nodded curtly.
Rider's Master stepped into Rin's field of vision, illuminated by the flaming torch he held. He was a boy, no older than eighteen, dressed casually in simple denim jeans and a black, long-sleeved hoodie. But Rin flinched when she laid her eyes on his face. Though the boy's dark, purplish hair was pulled over the left side of his face, Rin could still make out the mass of scar tissue and from the awkward manner in which his hair hung, she had a hunch that his left socket was empty.
"Name's Ryuuzaki," the boy introduced himself. "It's not nice to stare you know, Tohsaka."
Rin blushed and looked away. "Well I'm sor - "
"No you're not," interrupted Ryuuzaki. "Lovely isn't it? A parting gift from my beloved father. That's what a face full of glass looks like on a five-year old."
A terrible mix of guilt and sympathy tugged at Rin's heart upon hearing his words. But she suddenly remembered her predicament. One of the four Masters that had won the civil war was here, which meant only one thing.
Rin spat in defiance. "Look, if you're here for information, you're going to have to rip off the fingernails on my other han - "
"Oh nonono, nothing that crude I assure you," scoffed Ryuuzaki in amusement.
He reached into his rucksack and pulled out a fresh set of clothes.
"Red and black. Just the way you like it," said Ryuuzaki. "Those are my sister's. I'm having your head if you so much as - "
"Wait. You're not here for information?" interrupted Rin with a raised eyebrow.
"Officially I am. But unofficially, I'm after something else," replied Ryuuzaki. "Though if I really wanted information, I would have ripped it from your brain."
Rin tried to protest, but Ryuuzaki snapped his fingers. Immediately, she felt an invisible ripple pulsate through the cell that struck her squarely on her chest.
Rin suddenly started to speak involuntarily in a monotonous voice. "Emiya Shirou escaped by repositioning himself with his Reality Marble, Unlimited Blade Works. Emiya Shirou has probably figured Lancer's identity from her Noble Phantasm. Emiya Shirou is confirmed to be the seventh Master in this Holy Grail War. Knowing that this Grail War is held on Academy Island, Emiya Shirou would probably be - "
Ryuuzaki snapped his fingers again and Rin regained control of her body, gasping for breath.
"I have a proposal to make, Tohsaka. Before that, there's something I want you to see first," smiled Ryuuzaki. "But I can't have you walking down the Pleiades mansion in those hideous rags - "
"Who's going to listen to anything you have to say?" snarled Rin.
Ryuuzaki sighed and left the clothes on Rin's bed.
"Look here, I'm not a monster. Not like those guys up there."
He hung the torch on the wall, but left the door to her cell open.
"If you change your mind, I'll be by the stairs," said Ryuuzaki. "And if you don't, Lord Auteur will have some interesting bits of information."
- 0 - 0 - 0 -
Rin stepped gingerly towards the light at the end of the dungeon. Her new clothes felt tight around her chest and waist, but otherwise her red off-shoulder dress with gothic black trimming fit her reasonably well considering they belonged to Ryuuzaki's sister. She had half the mind to compliment the boy's attention to detail that she loved red and black clothes. Hell, he even managed to get her a pair of heels that snugly fit her feet, something that she found sorely lacking in the ridiculously dense Emiya Shirou.
"Nice to see that they fit you Tohsaka," complimented Ryuuzaki.
Boy's got manners. Dammit Shirou!
Ryuuzaki reached into his hoodie, withdrew the cracked half of a kabuki mask and pulled it over the left side of his face to cover his scars.
"D-Don't get over your head," stuttered Rin. "I-I'm just going to hear what you have to say. If I don't like what I hear - "
"I'll just put you back where I found you," said Ryuuzaki in a dark voice. "No tricks. Don't even think about escaping. If you are dumb enough to try it, Rider over here will kill you."
Rin cursed silently. She was confident in her prowess as a Magus to simply overpower Ryuuzaki and escape. But there were too many complications. First was that boy's annoying ability to snap his fingers and force her into submission. Even if she overcame that, she would probably need to get past every last guard skulking around the mansion, and even if she made it past that, at best she would be forced to deal with Rider and at worst she would have to contend with three Servants. Those were not very favourable odds.
Rin's eyes winced in pain as they came into contact with natural light for the first time in weeks. The pair left the dungeons and stepped into the massive hallway of the mansion, undoubtedly owned by Lord Auteur Pleiades, one of twelve lords from the Mage's Association. Colossal chandeliers brimming with crystals and jewels the size of tangerines hung from the ceiling, priceless paintings and tapestries hung from the walls on both floors. Multitudes of magical artifacts sat behind their glass boxes alongside exquisitely designed furniture that even the Einzberns would be truly envious.
Ryuuzaki led Rin up an ornate spiral staircase, across a series of hallways until they finally arrived at a room with a red door. Ryuuzaki knocked on the door three times and then ushered Rin into the room.
Lying in bed, dressed entirely in a white hospital gown was a girl that bore an uncanny resemblance to Ryuuzaki. She too had long, dark hair with dull purple hues, but her skin appeared sallow and sickly and drained. Everything about the girl screamed that she was unwell, except for her amber eyes that seemed to sparkle with golden sunbeams.
"Oh hi, Onii-chan!" exclaimed the girl, but her face fell when she saw Rin. "...who's the girl?"
"Oh... Errr this is Tohsaka. Tohsaka Rin," muttered Ryuuzaki uncharacteristically. "S-She's from the Mineralogy - "
"Tohsaka-san, it's nice to meet you," the girl dipped her head politely. "My name is Reina. Ryuuzaki is my twin brother."
"Just 'Rin' is fine," said Rin in an equally polite tone.
"Well then Rin-san, it's nice to see you put my clothes to use," giggled Reina cheerfully. "As you can see, I don't get much chances to wear them these days. They look really pretty on you."
Rin blushed and silently adjusted her hair.
Ryuuzaki knelt beside his sister's bed and held up her hand. Rin gasped in shock at the sight of her arm. A multitude of glowing tendrils were latched onto Reina's arm, at the tip of each tube were a bundle of needles digging under her skin and into her flesh to reach her numerous magic circuits to drain her mana - the girl had a countless number of high-quality magic circuits. Rin's eyes traced the flow of the tubes and realized that Reina's mana was endlessly harvested and stored within a heap of jewels. Why did these twins seem to claw at her heartstrings so much? Why did she feel so much sympathy for them? Why were their situations so heart-wrenching? Why was life so unfair for the twins?
"Reina," began Ryuuzaki. Rin noticed that he lost his confident, sarcastic tone when he spoke to his sister. "As I mentioned earlier, Tohsaka-san here is an expert in Mineralogy. She's going to help you - "
"Rin-san," interrupted Reina, turning her head to face Rin. "I hope Ryuuzaki-nii isn't making life difficult for you. I know he can make you do it whether you want to or not, but this is your decision to mak - "
Rin's fingers tightened around her ruby necklace round her neck.
She weighed her options, but she knew what was the right thing to do.
"I'm doing it," said Rin firmly. "Reina-san, I'm going to do everything in my power to help you. I promise."
- 0 - 0 - 0 -
Ryuuzaki shut the red door behind him slowly and heaved a sigh of relief.
"What's the matter?" asked Rin.
"It's nothing," lied Ryuuzaki.
Rin folded her arms and frowned. "If you're not going to be honest with me, then I'm going back to the dungeons."
"It's just... It's the first time I've seen Reina smile when I'm around another girl. She doesn't usually react well - "
Rin doubled over laughing. "That's a good thing, idiot!"
"Tohsaka, I don't think you get it. Reina can get really aggressive. I'm talking knives and crucifixes - "
"You have no idea how protective girls can be when it comes to someone they love," Rin started to tear up in her eyes.
"Tohsaka, you sound like you're speaking from experience," said Ryuuzaki, shooting her a nasty grin.
Rin's face flushed as red as her dress. "Hell no. Emiya-kun and I are jus - "
"If you're not going to be honest with me..."
Ryuuzaki raised his hand high and Rin knew what was at stake. She flew over instantaneously, cupping her hands around his to prevent him from snapping his fingers, determined to stop it at all costs.
"I take it that we're on the same side then, Tohsaka." laughed Ryuuzaki.
"Well we're not on opposing sides," snapped Rin with her nose in the air
Ryuuzaki extended his hand, revealing where his Command Seals had been carved into the back of his palm, shaped like a three-segmented dragon and Rin shook his hand.
Shirou turned his head as soon as he heard the double doors to the White Church being violently rammed open.
The girl that stood at the doorway had waist-length platinum hair that shone like moonlight. She wore a black fur-trim jacket over her white undershirt and black pleated skirt. The black choker round her neck had the number 13 emblazoned into the cloth in gold. Straps and holstered pistols clung to her thighs over her mismatched socks, thigh-high on her left but knee high on her right. Her crimson eyes glanced past Shirou, but were fixed upon the ceiling of the chapel, scanning it hungrily.
"You're a tough person to reach," began Shirou. "You must be - "
The girl drew from the depths of her jacket a custom-made AR-15. Acquiring her targets through its Trijicon ACOG sights, the five deafening gunshots that followed made Shirou's ears ring and five headless pigeons fell from the ceiling of the chapel.
"You must be incredibly tolerant of eavesdropping," the girl sarcastically finished Shirou's sentence.
Stowing away her red AR-15, Allison sat herself down on a bench behind Shirou, placing her cocoa brown boots on the bench less than half a meter away from his face.
"How did you know they were familiars?"
"Really? Besides the White Church being the place where the Overseer is?" scoffed the girl.
The empty chapel suddenly echoed with applause. Both Shirou and the girl immediately turned their heads.
"Bravo, bravo!" came a third voice, accompanied by the clapping of hands.
A priest garbed in the ubiquitous black cassock of the Holy Church stepped into view. His hair was graying, but there was no doubt that the Overseer was in the pink of health, he even looked capable of holding his own against an Executor from the Church.
"Father Urban, Overseer of this most unusual Sixth Holy Grail War," said the priest calmly. "This is Emiya Shirou, survivor of the Fifth Holy Grail War. Shirou, this is... well, how do you want to call yourself?"
"Allison. Allison Vaughn." replied the girl, rolling her eyes.
"Unfortunately, the Mage's Association has failed to eradicate the Fuyuki Grail Wars, and now it's become our problem," Father Urban shot a disapproving glare at Shirou. "But along with this misfortune, comes an unlikely opportunity for the Holy Church. The Sixth Holy Grail War does not take place in Fuyuki City, which means the Einzberns aren't providing the Lesser Grail. This has created quite a problem for the Mage's Association, particularly the ones who won the civil war and are adamant about the Grail War."
Father Urban withdrew a scroll from his cassock. A piece of parchment depicting an ornate chalice adorned with gemstones.
"That's... That's the Holy Grail," said Shirou in disbelief. "The actual Holy Grail?"
"The cup at the Last Supper, the golden chalice that caught the blood of Christ. Yes, yes," snapped Allison.
"The Mage's Association controlling four of seven Servants wasn't simply to win them the civil war," continued Father Urban. "In fact, they would have summoned all seven Servants to strong arm the Grail War, but the Greater Grail has measures against that - "
"If seven Servants cooperate, seven more will be summoned to oppose them," interrupted Shirou. "That would defeat the purpose of control..."
Father Urban nodded.
"Hence they were forced to allow us outsiders to compete in the Grail War. Three of us to be exact," said Allison. "What does the Church want then?"
"The Church's directive is simple. The Holy Grail is the most important artifact in history, some might even argue it is the only artifact that matters," said Father Urban with a smile. "So long as we have the chalice, the outcome of the Grail War is immaterial. You guys can split the wish-granting device however you want."
"That's it?" chuckled Allison.
"That's it? I should warn you that the Mage's Association are currently in possession of the strongest Servants. Archer, Lancer, Rider and Berserker are currently allied," reported the priest. "Since the two of you answered the Church's call, an alliance would be wise."
Shirou got to his feet and called out to his Servant.
Blue and red starlight shimmered as Shirou's Servant started to materialize beside him. Saber was a female swordsman donning a dangerously short blue kimono secured with a red obi. Her pink hair was tied up in a ponytail that fanned out behind her, but left a single lock of hair hanging by her right to achieve her asymmetrical look. Tucked at her waist were two pairs of swords, the longer katanas and the shorter wakizashis. The Heroic Spirit of the Sword emitted an aura of positivity, even when she had her arms folded, her confidence spoke loads about her skill with the sword.
"The strongest Servant eh?" complimented Allison. "This could work out, I guess."
"Wahahaha, your eyes are keen, my lady. I am the strongest Servant," laughed Saber, ruffling her hair. "Gosh, I'm already loving this alliance, Master."
Shirou sighed and shook his head. Geez have you no modesty?
A flashback jolted Shirou's mind. He had already seen three of the seven Servants back at the Clock Tower. Lancer, a woman with long dark hair armed with the demonic spear, Gáe Bolg. Archer, the tall, muscular man with a monstrous black bow. The knight in dragon armour was harder to make out if he was Rider or Berserker.
By process of elimination, Allison would be the Master of Assassin or Caster. Shirou crossed his fingers that he would be allied with Caster. He had witnessed firsthand how Medea, Caster of the Fifth Holy Grail War had almost won the war. Assassin on the other hand...
"Assassin, show yourself."
Shirou's heart sank like a stone. Of course things wouldn't go the way he wanted. Why did he keep his hopes up?
Dull, blood-red miasma gathered and Allison's Servant materialized beside her. Assassin stood a head taller than Saber. His skin was tanned and his face was hidden under a red hood, further obscured beneath layers of bandages. Like his Master, Assassin had multiple holsters armed with guns, he even had an M9 bayonet tucked into his belt.
Shirou offered his hand to Allison.
"I wouldn't be too quick to make an alliance just yet Master," croaked Assassin.
Shirou narrowed his eyes. There was something familiar about Assassin's voice.
"Is that so? Humour me, Assassin," smirked Allison.
"As far as winning the Grail War is concerned, an alliance with the Mage's Association is the most logical course of action," said Assassin.
Shirou grit his teeth in frustration, but nothing could prepare him for what Assassin was about to suggest next.
"Being allied with them gives us the chance to get close to the enemy and gain their trust. This in turn gives me the best chance to slit their Masters' throats."
Shirou's fingernails dug into his palms, but Allison's grin widened after listening to Assassin's analysis. However, she stepped forward and shook Shirou's hand firmly.
"Colour me impressed, Assassin," said Allison. "But as long as I am Master, we're sticking to my plan."
Allison peeled back the glove on her right hand to show Shirou her Command Seals shaped like a swirling red rose.
"As long as I have these, your throat is safe," said the White Reaper with a smile that deeply unsettled Shirou.
Hey there readers, this is the first fanfic I've written on my own or posted anywhere, so your criticism would go a long way for me as an aspiring writer.
First up, I want to say that even though I'm a fan of the Nasuverse, my understanding of how the world works is limited to the anime adaptations of F/SN, F/Z, Apocrypha and the KnK movies, so I apologize if I broke/will break any major rules with the universe.
Next is the setting. This fic is an AU sequel to F/SN UBW where Rin and Shirou have failed to dismantle the Grail Wars of Fuyuki, resulting in a Sixth Grail War on the fictional country, Academy Island (no prizes to anyone who guesses where its based on).
Third, about the characters. Shirou, Rin and *spoiler* (c'mon you made it this far) Kiritsugu are the only characters from the cast of F/SN and F/Z so far. I have always found Shirou with Avalon to be stupidly overpowered. So to raise the stakes in this fic, I slapped him with the nerfstick so that he can actually stay dead if he is killed.
Fourth, about the Servants. A problem I had with many OC Grail Wars out on fanfic net is that I have difficulty matching OC Masters to their Servants, so I ran a simple naming convention for this fic to solve my own headache. Masters will always have the first letter of their names matching the class of their Servant. E.g: Shirou - Saber. Allison - Assassin. I'll also include a list on my profile as the Servants show up in the fic.
Lastly, this fic aims to re-capture the same themes and story beats that made F/Z great, so expect this fic to be dark and full of terrors.
Thanks for reading my work, hope you guys enjoy it :)