Alter: The last chapter of an ill-fated boy-meets-girl

Clash in the darkness.

It´s pitch black.

In the earth´s womb the faint sound of footsteps resonate and echo in the dark. A desperate couple is betting their lives in a last attempt to end the madness of the ones they love.

The steps grow larger and finally their figures are visible. A boy and a girl. My friends, from not so long ago, stand in front of me.

The boy´s face is a mixture of fear, pain, and sorrow. The girl is more resolute. She lowers her stance and prepares for battle.

I declare.

-"Rin. I have no reason to fight you. Please do no attack me. I will go against Sakura´s orders if I kill you here".

She is surprised for a moment.

-"...What are you doing? You are keeping watch here, right?"

I nod.

-"Yes. I am to eliminate anyone that passes by here."

However, she understands easily.

-"But, I am an exception, huh?"

Another nod.

-"She must be serious, then. Sorry I must be going Shirou. Don´t lag behind; if you want to save her, you must come quickly."

As I let Rin pass, I face Shirou directly. This good for nothing, stupid and somewhat charming guy was my master before. He now looks as resolute as Rin, ready to charge and get through me. I can only smile bitterly.

-"Sorry, Shirou. It's impossible. The moment you take a step forward, I will cut you in half."

-"Oi. That´s harsh, Saber. I didn´t do anything yet."

I keep my gaze on him. He cannot fool me.

-"Irrelevant. To get to Sakura you will have to get over me. When you give up and charge, I will kill you."

He seems to be pondering. I know he is not pondering whether he should fight or not, rather, the best way to do it. He wants to save Sakura as soon as possible. He is just like that, protecting everybody in sight. My head still aches from the problems he gave me. It made me feel happy for awhile but now I realize how foolish it is. No one can protect everybody. If you try, you will only lose everything. That´s how he lost me.

He finally releases the seal on his left arm. I sense strong mana radiating from it. I recognize it. That arm is Archer´s. It seems he wants to use Archer´s powers to fight. So he finally gave up, huh? Well he will pay dearly for his passage through this toll.

My heart races in anticipation, but my mind still thinks coldly. He will aim for my heart.So will I.

Kanshou and Bayuka appear in his hands.

-"So you choose Archer´s swords and not mine, eh Shirou?."

Normally i would pout internally; however, I don´t care right now. He charges blindly. It's time for the kill. I easily deflect his attack and counter.

-"Eh?..."

What´s happening can only be described as a miracle. He not only deflects my attack, but he repels everything I throw at him. I should be proud of him, but right now it bothers me. That small fly is keeping up with me. Finally he jumps back and I can get a good look at his body. There's no question that it's falling apart. He is paying for the miracle with his body. And he is paying for the swords with his mind. As always, I can´t help but feel a bit of nostalgia.

His body is soaked in his own blood and his eyes are unfocused, all because of me. I know that, yet I don't care. Actually, I can´t stand him still being alive. I search for my feelings, why am I so angry? I finally reach the answer.

-"Look at you. With that body made of swords. Do you think it will keep me for killing you?"

No response. It seems his mind is just able to do that much. If he keeps like that, he is doomed. That's why I am pissed. I decide to let my heart out, for the last time. Until now I have been tainted, deeply. But I still have some of my old self. It really isn't that different from what I am now. It's just that now...now, anything more and I will lose myself, too. But it is the only way. I speak.

-"Why are you holding back, Shirou?."

His eyes get a bit of light. It seems he understands. Just to clarify i put it even more clear.

-" Right now I am fighting you. But if Sakura recalls me Rin will have to fight her AND myself. Do you understand what that means?."

And I finally open up my heart.

-"That´s how much I am to you, Shirou?."

Stupid. You lost me because you went half-assed about saving me. If you do the same here, it means that what happened to me was for nothing. You cared so little for me that you would do the same again? At least save her. If you save her I can be at least at peace. My heart feels like crying, but my eyes don't respond to it.

I think that he understands. That means he will go all out from now on. I need to do the same. Now i realize that I was holding back, too. It seems that my good for nothing ex-master rubbed some of his foolishness on me. No need anymore. Since i was half-assing it too, now we stand in this place. Since I tried to win my wish while protecting him, but the war ate us. It was as much my fault for trying to understand him, as it was his for trying to protect me. My somewhat wavering resolve is strengthened. I will kill Shirou. No, that, still, is half-assed....

I will kill the enemy. My grip on DarkCalibur gets stronger as I think this. I lost the last of my old self.

I am Alter.

The enemy charges once again. Come, enemy. Get passed Alter and kill her if you can.

The enemy uses Kanshou and Bayuka again. This time he throws them at Alter's neck. Using the sword, she deflects them and closes in for the kill. The crushing slash is blocked by a second pair of swords.

Divine skill flawless and firm

The enemy counters on Alter. She parries the oncoming Kanshou and breaks it. Out of the blue a flying Bayuka appears in Alter´s line of sight. She has to use all of her dexterity to avoid it.

Strength moves mountains

Just as Alter lands, the enemy closes in again with the Bayuka on hand. She has just enough time to use DarkCalibur to block.

Blade cuts water

Again, a flying Kanshou comes after Alter. This time, the dodge is so narrow that the short sword actually grazes her face.

Life approaches the imperial villa

Totally defenseless, Alter senses the enemy approaching. A third pair of twin swords are on his hands. Her head commands the body to dodge. But even her heroic body, made of mana, can´t keep with it this time.

Two great men shared life

Sharp pain envelops Alter. A fatal wound is made. Without any impediment, the swords sink deep in her skin. Alter feels her intestines gushing out. Her legs give in and she falls lifelessly to the floor. The damage is so critical that even Alter´s envelopment of Arturia is somewhat enemy is named Shirou again. With a bitter smile, the Dark Saber compliments him.

-"You have grown strong, Shirou.... No, you were strong from the start."

Shirou, fallen at her side, doesn't answer. She just expects him to move and stab her heart or crush her head sooner or later. But, oddly, there is a faint smile on her face.

The boy fallen at her side still doesn't answer. She presses.

-"Please end it. I will regenerate if you do not hurry."

Her body is regenerating little by little. Her health is getting better by the minute. She frowns. It seems her opponent can't move. Finally she is good enough to turn her head towards the boy.

-"Shirou?..."

The void body at her side is not her former master anymore. He is still breathing and his heart is pumping. But he is empty. And after she realizes that. She becomes empty, too. Alter speaks.

-"Then is my win, Shirou."

What a foolish enemy. She can't pity him. Yet, she wants to cry. Being strong means that she has seen many enemies die recklessly like that. She knows that this enemy is special because they have an history. But now he is just another fallen enemy.

Giving up all hope, Alter closes her eyes. Waiting to be healed. Battle noises are heard far away. But she doesn't care if Rin or Sakura win it. As the one that would make them happy is no more. Meanwhile, Alter knows that her nightmare will have no end.

AN: Well, this is my favorite fight from Shirou. Not to mention the only part that i liked on the Heaven´s feel path of the game. Shirou gave up everything, but he became able to duel and beat the strongest servant. (Not to mention, Saber Alter is THE ONLY fully functional servant that Shirou actually kills. Don't bring Gilgamesh as he didn't have a servant body in UBW.) And even if Alter is a b!tch sometimes. I like her as she is the best servant-antagonist in the game.

AN2: As for the "Divine skill..." spell (in italics). It is the ultimate technique that Archer uses with Kanshou and Bayuka. As demostrated by Shirou it is a series of attacks with three pairs of them that in the end renders any enemy unable to dodge.