And here we have the grand finale! Hope you enjoy.
I do not own Fate/Zero nor any series present. I credit TIM with the original premise and only retain my own ideas.
Tokiomi flashed white flames in a searing arc upwards, believing he had found his foe. The burning tendril crashed into the wooden rafters above the stage. A man-sized object fell and bounced off the ground, prompting Tokiomi's eyes to light up. When he went over to inspect it he realized that it was actually a mannequin disguised as the Emiya he flew into a rage. However, the walls beside the stage suddenly exploded and showered the red devil in small, shredding balls of metal.
Tohsaka covered himself in an all-round wall of incinerating fire – both blinding him to the outside and shielding. So fierce were the flames that Kiritsugu's trap didn't melt into hundreds of tiny, metallic puddles – but simply evaporated. As Kiritsugu watched he realized that Tokiomi had lost his sense of direction while covered in his orb of heat – and took his chance.
Aiming steadily down the sights, he patiently waited for the second in which the fire wall dropped. Breath slowed – exhaling calmly and deliberately – and his whole body stiffened. Only one chance…Time Alter: Double Accel!
His sense of perception doubled and sharpened – as narrow as a hawk's. The moment Tokiomi's flames began to drop – exposing the man inside in tiny gaps – Kiritsugu's finger pressed down on the trigger and squeezed.
An echo filled the hall, eclipsing the crackling flames that Tokiomi had conjured. Tokiomi heard the shot and shifted accordingly – discerning the general direction. However, in doing so he faced-onto Kiritsugu's shot and made himself a bigger target. All the flames on the stage immediately dispersed as a cry and the sound of flesh hitting wood replaced them. The Tohsaka patriarch clutched his upper right thigh in pain, bleeding profusely.
'Kiritsugu!' He roared out in anger, failing to stop blood flow. The suited Mage had never taken healing arts or even practiced basic medical procedure – it never occurred to him to seal the wound with his flames. He rolled around in agony as the bullet had torn straight through his thigh and bone, but from the placement of the shot he now knew where Emiya Kiritsugu must have been hiding.
Sure enough he spotted the tell-tale glint of a bullet being pushed into the slot, indicating Kiritsugu's location. Tokiomi gritted his teeth and aimed up with his scepter – burning several Command Seals' away in the process of fueling his attack. He willed a cascading tornado of fire into existence – uncurling at the jeweled tip of his rod – and set it to incinerate Kiritsugu with the fury of Aguni.
Then suddenly it vanished, and Tokiomi blinked several times in confusion. Kiritsugu watched and waited, slowly becoming nervous as the desired effects failed to surface.
Origin Bullet. Kiritsugu thought grimly, then blinked in confusion as events didn't play out as predicted. Why isn't Tohsaka reacting to it? That was a huge amount of mana usage. He quickly realized the true nature of the situation as the Command Seals' – all of them – stopped glowing and disappeared completely. I see, he used the Command Seals' to power his spell. Now that they're gone…what will he do? Tokiomi clutched his arm in pain – it seemed that at least a small part of the Origin Bullet's effects were being felt by the Magus. Kiritsugu was satisfied.
He's been neutralized; if he tries again and uses his magic his body will rip itself apart. He pushed another shot into the rifle. I'll kill him. He looked down the scope and tensed, slowly pulling his finger down on the trigger.
Tokiomi writhed, falling back and succumbing to the pain. His right arm was burned all down, completely blackened where the Command Seals' had been, and the gaping bullet wound in his leg bled freely. For all the silence in the theatre, Kiritsugu only barely heard the desperate whisper that his target mumbled.
The sentiment and what it stood for jarred him, and the incorruptible Magus Hunter hesitated. His mind filled with images of his young Ilyasviel, tender and waiting for his return. What kind of father would he be if he took one from another girl – just as innocent as his own? With a grunt and sour taste, he stood up and lowered the WA-1200 rifle. Tohsaka saw him and moved to incinerate, but Kiritsugu quickly spoke before to warn him.
'Tokiomi! The shot I just used contains a sample of my powdered ribs. If you use mana, the bullet will activate and your magical circuits will tear your body apart – you wouldn't recover as either a man or a Mage.'
Tokiomi flinched, but what if Kiritsugu was lying? He sat up and shouted back. 'And why should I believe you!?'
'You have a daughter to return to and you are no longer a threat to me. I have no reason to kill you.'
The fallen pyromancer spat. 'How dare you!? My daughter is…a captive of your servant! You're enabling him complete his sick goals, you-' Thwp. Kiritsugu fired a second shot – this time only tranquilizing, and through a silenced filter. He waited for Tokiomi to succumb to the sedative and fall unconscious before going down.
The Magus Hunter took care descending to his fallen foe and Irisviel, but with haste. Paying no heed to the stains he would get as he waded through Tokiomi's pooling blood; he went back to his wife.
Ulquiorra had fallen – his wings microwaved off his back and seared to the bone. Of course, his regeneration had kicked in and within moments he was hale, fighting again. While Zero's minions were unable to do lasting damage, both of them boasted a speed unheard of in Hueco Mundo or anywhere else he knew of – darting around like gnats in armour. So far he hadn't touched them. On the other hand though, he was still proficient enough in defense that all the wounds he'd received thus far were non-lethal, meaning he could regenerate without issue – but how long would that last?
Kallen Kozuki and Suzaku Kururugi were arguably the best pilots that Britannia had ever seen – their names would be etched into the records for eons to come. In his white Frame Suzaku would have been prepared to take on the entire world – had Lelouch ordered it – and very few would dispute the notion that he actually could. Kallen on the other hand, was fierce and as fiery as her hair. She wouldn't slice and soar her way through an enemy – she'd burn them to ashes. Against each other they created a dance that no one else could imitate, like an art that could only be create by their hands together – to fast and intricate to comprehend for lesser beings. Together however, they were nothing short of magnificent – battlefield perfection – as Ulquiorra was discovering.
Going for Zero was a viable option, but the Warlock had displayed proficiency enough to avoid Ulquiorra's attacks when it counted – or at least long enough for the red and white machines to intervene. Nor could he start tossing Lanza Del Relampago's as he willed – Tokiomi might be caught in the blast radius below, if nothing to imagine his rage at the collateral.
As again he was separated from a limb by the white Knightmare's blade he suddenly felt a foreboding sense. It jumped up on him again when the female pilot charged in and lunged at him with her right-hand shockwave.
How foolish. I will destroy you, no matter how many times you attack. The Assassin deflected the move with a Cero Oscuras, giving himself room. He then conjured one of his spears to parry the Lancelot, fending it off.
'Kallen! Try and incapacitate him long enough for Suzaku to attack – grab him in the Guren's arm.' Lelouch ordered from behind.
'Che. You better not be planning to sacrifice me, Lelouch!' She yelled back, moving in to engage Ulquiorra again.
'You are Q-1, no piece is more valuable than you.' His smug attitude dropped for a second, letting a more humane Lelouch speak. 'And I would never let you die, Kallen.'
'All are pawns for Zero, is that it?' Suzaku entered the conversation, speaking unobtrusively despite the fast dance of blades between him and the pale servant.
'The battlefield is my game, but on that note Suzaku…' His tone became serious. '…the Lancelot Albion is armed with a F.L.E.I.J.A. – if I order you to…are you prepared to use it?'
The Knight of Zero growled back a response. Lelouch understood his friend's inflection all too well, but at the same time he had to be prepared in case Assassin did something drastic. He observed the pale servant fight in close-combat with his own, thinking up strategy after strategy.
Suddenly, Ulquiorra jolted and his eyes widened as if he was somewhere else entirely. An MVS Blade slashed effortlessly through his wings and his entire right side burned under the Guren's Radiant Wave Surger, but he barely noticed. Before Lelouch's eyes he suddenly tore away towards the city and left the rest behind.
'Right!' Both of them answered back, shooting after their prey.
'Both of you; live!' Lelouch ordered.
The husband watched as the woman he loved so dearly began to glow, her mortal tomb perfectly serene and as beautiful as ever. Were he another man then tears would flow freely, but he was not – he was Emiya Kiritsugu, a hero of justice. Almost instinctively he had his left hand resting on the semi-automatic hanging at his side – more like when one idly places their hands in their pockets than anything else.
With his other hand Kiritsugu reached out to stroke his wife's face – but jerked back when she spontaneously combusted. He knew immediately that they weren't Tohsaka's – these were warm and ethereal, and Tokiomi had been struck by the Origin Bullet – he wouldn't be performing magic ever again. She didn't burn away; rather they simply consumed her without damaging the homunculus. Then suddenly she disappeared in a small flash of light.
When Kiritsugu looked back he almost broke down, steadying himself and staggering in the process. Before him hovered the Chalice of Victory, basking within and simultaneously shining a tragic radiance that only heroes of old could imagine. He could almost hear the choir of Valkyries applaud his battle-triumph and spur him to claim the reward.
Both Knightmare Frames had caught Ulquiorra before he had managed to get to his Master, and had reengaged the servant summarily. The Arrancar had already been fighting a losing battle, but now that his mind was on something else he barely put up a decent fight. Tokiomi was bleeding out, dying…
Enough! The Ex-Espada let out a burst of Reiatsu and knocked his opponents away. With them distracted, he moved in with a charged Lanza Del Relampago and attacked. First the Guren fell, cleaved through from the hip to shoulder. It dropped down with its pilot screaming curses to Ulquiorra, falling and crashing into the theatre that housed their Masters. Without hesitation Ulquiorra dashed over to finish the other – but the white Knightmare was ready.
He met the green spear head-on with his red sword. Sparks flew and showered both fighters – neither fazed. Ulquiorra grunted and pulled back, returning with a spinning tornado of an attack. The MVS Blade was knocked clear out of the Lancelot Albion's hands and Suzaku moved to draw his second one – but Ulquiorra capitalized and neutralized the machine through the chest.
Suzaku lurched as his cockpit was speared through – the glowing green shaft mere inches from piercing his head. The console slowly dimmed out and he could feel the very power of his machine slow to a halt. He watched helplessly as Ulquiorra drew his empty hand back to finish off Suzaku, but then Lelouch's last command echoed in his head.
It was Geass, the last time this had happened Suzaku convinced himself of his innocence by blaming Lelouch's spell. This time however, he embraced it. With the last dregs of power in the Lancelot, he reached back and drew a pistol-esque firearm from his machines back.
Sorry Lelouch, I'm acting without your orders. Forgive me, my lord.
He held it up into Ulquiorra's face; and the Arrancar stared down the long barrel and with the reckoning of doomsday, realizing just what this enemy was going to do. Hopefully they were high enough that only part of the city would be destroyed the by the blast – rather than all.
NO! Ulquiorra – for the first time in his life, afterlife and servant-reincarnation – panicked. The same power that he'd felt shoot from Damocles at the battle of the bridge centered inside the Lancelot's firearm and he knew what would come. As an innumerable amount of things flooded his mind beyond reason, he picked one at random and enacted it. His clawed hands tightened and he focused, activating the weapon in his hands.
His life flashed vividly before his eyes, echoing the irony of being killed by a human again. The Arrancar cursed both his enemy and the Holy Grail War for humiliating him. Despite this, his final moments had him regain composure and silently recognize the truth in his Aspect of Death.
It's all ended…for nothing. If I was defeated like this then I have no further use to Master Tokiomi. With finality he closed his eyes.
And together, F.L.E.I.J.A. and Lanza Del Relampago ignited above Fuyuki.
The half-breed redhead climbed out of the wreckage with all the grace of a panther and all the jiggliness of a two-tonne stack of jelly. Light shone down from the hole her falling Frame had created, but it blinded her to look up. With that in mind she looked around her crash-site; seeing scorched seats, a red carpet and a stage.
Correction – a stage that had recently suffered a severe fire.
Kallen gasped as at the centre of the blackened wood there lay a haggard, red-suited man who was blanketed in his own blood. To the centre of the set she saw a darkly dressed man with wild hair staring close-mouthed at her with curiosity. Before him was the golden glowing Holy Grail.
That must be Lelouch's Master… She took a second look at Emiya Kiritsugu. He seems so…empty.
'Who are you?' The man asked, raising the semi-automatic gun from his coat.
Kallen scowled, but her loyalty to Lelouch and his to this man in turn compelled her to answer. 'Kallen Kozuki, and you must be Emiya Kiritsugu.'
The addressed man scowled. Just how much had Zero told his summons – or was this pre-imparted knowledge that they received automatically, just like the servants themselves? He was about to open his mouth for further interrogation when suddenly the sky darkened to black and a tremendous explosion deafened all else.
Kallen looked up through the hole she crashed through and squinted. A gigantic ball of combustion energy filled the airlocked realm, mingling the familiar lethal purple of F.L.E.I.J.A. and a deathly pale green pattern together. Both sources fought against one another to decimate the city – in turn resulting in neither succeeding. Neither nor none, and the city survived for it. They each countered each other, negating themselves in the process and shrinking the overall mass. Fortunately Fuyuki itself suffered no damage from the blast – but that was not the case for the two that created it.
A last-ditch effort for both servant and servant of servant to destroy their enemy, and anyone at the centre of the explosion would be forever consigned to oblivion. Still, no one could argue that it was anything less than magnificent, deserving for Heroic Spirits.
As the near-apocalyptic explosion ate itself away to nothing, a tear welled in Kallen's eye. Damn it Suzaku…not again. Kiritsugu on the other hand, was less emotive.
'Was that…Zero, at the centre of that explosion?' He asked. Kallen didn't answer vocally, but he received enough information from her posture. No then…so where is he? As the sky slowly returned to a cloudless blue, Kallen and Kiritsugu heard the nearing sound of a Knightmare Frame descending. Sure enough – as Kallen moved aside – the sleek Shinkiro lowered into the hall and kneeled into a landing. Out jumped its pilot – uncharacteristically bareheaded – and strode towards his Master.
'Lelouch!' Kallen jumped, smiling. The Warlock smiled charmingly back, taking a second to regard her before noting the lack of his other knight.
'Suzaku was caught in that explosion, wasn't he?' Kallen nodded to answer. 'Damn him, he disobeyed my orders.' Lelouch mused for a moment, letting his regretful tone settle in the air. Then – as he now stood a few metres down the red carpet from the stage – he turned to regard Kiritsugu.
'My Lord.' He bowed. 'It seems that neither other servants nor their Masters remain to challenge us.' Kiritsugu saw his eyes shift momentarily to regard Tokiomi's defeated but living body. 'Shall we proceed.' The Emiya only gave a curt nod in response. He moved to take the Grail, but Lelouch called him to stop.
'What are you doing? I thought we agreed to destroy it, step away!'
Kiritsugu gazed with steel sets of eyes. 'No, I am the Master. My wish is for peace – the end of all wars.' Lelouch frowned.
'Aren't we destroying the Grail and ending the wars it causes?' The Magus Hunter seemingly ignored his servant as he placed his hands on the Chalice, attempting to commune. As Lelouch realized that he had been played – that Kiritsugu had never agreed to his ideals – rage flashed and he acted on instinct.
'No!' He flung his hand and cast an orb-like Hadron Blast from his palm, aimed at his Master. Kiritsugu sensed it coming and jumped to the side, leaving the Grail on the table. The shot missed, but Lelouch was already casting again – chasing his Master around the room.
'Have you ever ended a war, Emiya Kiritsugu – let alone all of them!? Do you know how!?' Another missed shot. Kiritsugu fired back from cover blindly, but each bullet was deflected by Zero's personal Blaze Luminous shield. To think that not only one, but the two servants who had pledged loyalty to him had betrayed him was…abhorrent – that was simply more fortification for the end of all conflict.
'Naïve Master! Kallen, take care of him for me!' Lelouch stopped attacking and made for the Grail. Kiritsugu thought he could take a breath of relief, but it turned out that Zero's redheaded subordinate was even more ferociousthan Zero himself. He did his best to keep her at bay, but it was trying. In her left hand was a small pocketknife held downwards, but her right hand shocked Kiritsugu. It burned with a flowering red energy that seemed unearthly, lit on mana.
What is that? He'd seen the Shinkiro pull off the same set of abilities that Lelouch himself boasted as spells. Perhaps the red Knightmare's skills had been passed on to its pilot in the same way, but Kiritsugu couldn't spare to think about it now. He let loose a hail of bullets, which were easily blocked when Kallen held up an open palm glowing with power.
'Now…I wish for your destruction, Holy Grail.' Kiritsugu barely heard the youthful voice over his battle. He saw Lelouch place his hands on the Grail and smirk from the corner of his eye.
It was done; the masked servant had got exactly what he wanted.
The Holy Grail.
Lelouch blinked and acknowledged the warm sun. He had just been in Fuyuki – inside a wrecked theatre with his Master and Kallen, so…where was he now? His pulse slowed as he realized that the sand beneath his feet and the waves crashing before him were familiar to Zero.
…Kamine Island…? How am I-
'Lelouch.' A voice said from behind, sweet and pure. He turned to face it and was greeted with a sight that shocked him further. Ever-bubbly and haloed in pink, Lelouch's beloved sister smiled at him.
'E-Euphie!?' He staggered back, mind racing. What is this? Did the Grail take me back home? If Euphie's alive then did Charles complete his plan of creating a closed world? Have I returned to the Throne of Heroes? As Lelouch ran through his theories, Euphemia gave a puzzled look.
'Lelouch, is something wrong?'
Unusually, he couldn't think of a gentle answer to give. 'I-I shot you. You're supposed to be dead.' Oddly, she gave a light, Euphemia-esque laugh.
'Not in your heart I'm not. And you aren't dead in the hearts of those you left behind.'
'The world I left behind is a gentler one; someone like me has no place there.' He looked around, seemingly less unsettled – but something looked amiss in his glowing red eyes. 'In any case, where are we? This isn't Kamine Island, is it?'
Euphie clasped her hands at her waist and answered. 'No, this is the world your wish has created for you to commune with the Grail. I'm your guide.'
Lelouch considered that concept for a moment. 'Why is this necessary, doesn't the Grail already know my wish?' Euphemia simply kept smiling in response, giving no reply. Seeing no other alternative, Lelouch sighed. 'Alright then sweet sister, guide me.'
Without warning they were suddenly taken to another scene – one only familiar to Lelouch. It was the remnants of the Special Japanese Zone, strewn bodies of the Japanese lying everywhere in their own blood. His heart twisted itself and he gasped. Why has she brought me here!?
'You caused this, remember?'
He looked at her, choking up. The voice he heard was as sweet as Euphemia always was, but her inflection was empty, monotonous. 'Euphie…'
'This is your entire fault; you couldn't control your Geass.' She bounced a little. 'But look, because of this a princess of the empire died and another was sent into exile. Isn't that what you wanted?'
'Even better, all of Japan rallied behind you – the Black Rebellion gained huge momentum. Wasn't that good?'
'But you died! I never wanted that!'
'Then tell me Lelouch, if you could do it again would you do it differently? If your Geass hadn't acted out of control and what you originally planned had happened, would you be happier?'
'Yes! I only killed you because I had to, I never meant for it to happen!' Tears welled in his eyes and his voice cracked a little. She closed her eyes and smiled wider at him, exposing teeth. It frightened him, she didn't look like the Euphie he knew at all.
'Is that true? The way events worked out was the best possible option for the Black Knights' to take if they wanted to win – would you have settled for another outcome? All that happened were the deaths of some replaceable Japanese and a silly idealistic girl.'
'Don't you always say that the ends justify the means?' He stopped silent then, his own philosophical defense flung right at him. His watery eyes opened and shut in defeat.
W-why…why is Euphie saying these things? His brain reeled. What if it wasn't Euphemia, or at least not the real thing? He'd wished to kill the Grail after all; maybe it was defending itself by weakening his resolve. If that was the case…it was working.
Nevertheless, he was Zero. He would bend the Grail and destroy its war.
'Euphie…you must have known that I was always fighting to end the violence of Britannia?'
'With violence.' The Grail replied, but it wasn't Euphie anymore. 'That makes you no better than Britannia.' Lelouch stepped back – now they were in a sunset orange sky, hovering on ruined arches of stone. The Warlock looked up in fear and gulped, engulfed in intimidating shadows. They were in The Sword of Akasha now, and before him stood the 98th Emperor, his father; Charles Zi Britannia.
'Tell me Lelouch, do you plan to burn the world and then leave it again – just as you did before?' The deep, booming voice echoed against metaphysical walls, laughing at the son of Marianne.
How would he know that!? Regardless, Lelouch answered quickly. 'That's not what happened! I had to die for humanity to move forward, the wish of Geass I bestowed on everyone was what was necessary!'
'Was it? You're a hypocrite Lelouch, but you can't see it. All this time you fought Britannia with the same cruelty and violence as Britannia herself employed!' He stepped forward, a wide smile stretching on his angular and bearded face. 'Euphemia died for your precious Black Rebellion, as well as scores of others – innocent or not! You purposely ignited rioting in the Chinese Federation, you tore Area 11 apart by tricking the Japanese people to rise against their conquerors, us! And when you killed me and took Britannia, you became even worse than I was – subjugating the world to your will!'
Lelouch quivered and fell, landing on his backside and stared up at the giant of a man.
'You say that a king should lead, else his subjects cannot follow? What kind of example did you lead as Britannia's 99th Emperor then, what legacy did you leave behind?' Charles mocked him. Lelouch fought to recompose, but managed.
'I left behind Zero! That's my legacy!'
'Zero is but a man, if Britannia's new empress denied him then what is he to do?'
Lelouch's Geass flashed a shade of red almost identical to Saber's Wrath, incarnating the notion perfectly. 'Nunnally would never do that! I made sure that the world I left behind would become a gentler one, where kindness was extended to all – unlike the one you had in mind!'
'My world would have been one without lies, a world of truth! Humanity would have found peace in a world like that – but instead you changed that by using your Geass on all of humanity!'
Caster rose to his feet defiantly, but inside he was breaking down. His father's words struck cold and as true as the world he and Marianne and V.V. had dreamed of. Lelouch stared up at his father and cast him an intense gaze. 'I did what I had to in order to ensure that mankind remains free!'
'So you used your Geass on me, didn't you?'
The scene shifted again, this time within the calm centre of a raging storm. The highest garden of Damocles, and around them burned the flames of battle. Charles was gone, and in his father's stead was a young, brown-haired girl with beautiful blue eyes and a stern gaze.
'N-Nunnally…' He fell to his knees, shot down by her powerful will. Despite his attempts, he couldn't look away – not from the cerulean orbs regarding him disdainfully nor the red lines circling them.
'Why, Lelouch? Why did you need to kill all of these people!?'
'I did it for you, for the sake of the gentler world you sought!' He replied.
Tears welled in her eyes, slashing nails into his heart at the sight of them. 'I never asked for this, all I needed to be happy was to be with you!' The words stung, they were the last thing he had heard before his death, held in his little sisters arms at the Zero Requiem.
'I helped the world achieve peace, didn't you want that!?' Desperately, he shot back.
'Not if it meant losing you! But now…you've become a demon, Lelouch!' He paled and froze – the last time she'd said that he'd already been maintaining a strong façade to hide behind, but now his defenses had been whittled down. 'Despicable, cowardly!' She labeled him. 'You were willing to sacrifice Fuyuki just to kill a single servant when Rider used his Noble Phantasm! You've been taunting and manipulating Master's from both sides – Kariya Matou, Emiya Kiritsugu, Waver Velvet – and the girls you raped just for power!' His head fell and the sheer force of her accusation was enough to curl him into a wreck – akin to Atlas with the weight of his guilt bearing down on him. 'What if you'd done that to me, would you have raped me for power!?'
He looked up, shocked. 'No! You are my little sister, I'd do anything for-'
'Then why were you fighting this whole time!? I never asked for it!' With that his last dregs of resolve crumbled, matching his physical form. Kneeling before her in defeat, Lelouch Vi Britannia surrendered.
He was willing to accept defeat now, at least at the hands of someone who knew him better than he knew himself. If there was only one thing he wanted now – to hell with his wish – it was to embrace his sister one final time. With an almost Frankensteinian twitch, Lelouch rose to hug his wheelchair-bound sister to express his love wordlessly.
But she did not return the sentiment, nor did she remain silent.
'What you are Lelouch is not a man of peace, but a God of war. That is what you should wish for.' She said.
But it wasn't her, not Nunnally. Nunnally would never say that. Even if she hated him to his core she would never have said that. His sorrowful face twisted into a mask of anger and his embrace corrupted, shifting from a warm hung into a cold, vice-like throttle. His thin fingers curled around her delicate neck and the crimson twin phoenix's of Geass burned hatefully into her eyes.
'You…are not my sister.'
'W-What…!' She choked out, still maintaining Nunnally's sweet voice.
'Whatever you are – you are not Nunnally. How dare you take her form and lie to me!?' He closed his fingers tighter, drawing blood from her tiny throat. 'I would never wish for war, and she would never press me into doing so!' As she struggled to breathe, she stared harshly into Lelouch's eyes, but her gaze was met with one a hundred times fiercer – and it terrified her.
'Lelouch Vi Britannia commands you…' He growled out. '…Die.'
He remained still for a few seconds, cradling the faux-sister that was now a broken corpse. Slowly her skin turned to ice and he moved away, standing proudly. He scowled around the Grail's illusion of Damocles before calling it out.
'Holy Grail of Fuyuki, hear my proclamation!' He pulled black smoke to shape around his face. 'I am Zero, the man who creates miracles! What you are is an abomination, a vile creature of malice and spite! Therefore – as a knight of justice – it is my duty to end you!'
'You think you can so easily destroy me, servant?' The voice made Lelouch jump, but he held his stance strong. 'I am what breathes life into you, what allows you shape in this world. Whatever I am, you will never be able to kill me with your Noble Phantasm.'
'Then tell me, what are you?'
'Hnmf. I was once a man, but I was forced to bear the sins of all mankind and carry all the evils in the world. My name is Angra Mainyu, but I am the Holy Grail.'
'…The Persian God of Darkness…' Zero whispered to himself. 'All the evils in the world you say?'
'That is correct.'
'Very well. Tell me Holy Grail, what do you do when confronted with an evil you cannot destroy by just means? Do you remain steadfast in good, or resort to evil to destroy evil?'
If non-physical entities could blink and hesitate, the Grail did. 'What does that matter; we are both incarnations of evil.'
'That is true, but Zero fights for good and destroys evil. If I must surpass the evil you contain in order to destroy you, so be it.' Lelouch stared forward and gave a mask-piercing gaze with his burning Geass, the red sigils visible even through the tinted vision of Zero. 'I will become a greater evil than thou, twice as…no, three times as malicious as you. That will satisfy me.' He flicked his cape out and let it blow behind him. 'Hear my wish, Grail of Fuyuki! Grant me incarnation, I shall become as you say I am, a God of war – Mars! With my cruelty I will surpass your evil and return to destroy you!'
Silence. Then a low chuckle began to echo throughout the reality-scape.
'And I would so easily grant you your wish, on the terms you present?'
'I have won the War; it is my right and your duty to grant me what I desire.'
The Grail faltered. 'You are not the only victor, Master Emiya Kiritsugu still lives.'
Lelouch almost had the answer immediately, his mind so sharp. 'That is true, but he is not the only Master still alive. Tohsaka Tokiomi still breathes, broken and sleeping – but lives nonetheless. I am the only servant remaining, and therefore the only possible victor of any category.'
The Grail didn't reply, instead it began chuckling again, this time rising into full laughter. Zero frowned behind his visage, but suddenly the room began to tremble, shaking the servant around. Without warning thick, black ooze descended from above, slowly filling the room. Before it drowned him the Warlock rushed up the stairs to the higher platform of the garden, but it only bought him time. As his mind raced for answers he felt a small hand grip his sleeve, tugging on it. He jerked his head back, only to see his snap-necked sister animated horribly, with the black mud pouring from her mouth and eyes. The memory of Tohsaka Rin jumped out at him, but he didn't have time to ponder it before the black mud swallowed him up.
Fill, fill, fill, fill, fill.
Repeat five times.
But destroy each when filled.
He rolled over several times in the ichor, holding his breath painfully until his lungs burst. As soon as he opened his eyes the whole ordeal vanished and he was placed in a new, completely unfamiliar room.
The chamber was small and dark, with no décor to speak of. All that was within was a small five-foot high altar and himself. Atop the altar was a glowing, golden chalice – exactly like the one in Fuyuki that he'd seized. He took a moment to compose himself again, knowing exactly what he would do before he did it.
'Give it up, servant.' It mocked.
He ignored the voice and strode forth, coming close enough to see his face reflected in its hide. With unseen disdain he glared down at it – the majestic exile that he was. Through the mask his Geass bore into the Grail, and then he spoke.
'Holy Grail of Fuyuki, my name is Zero. Bear my wish – the wish called Geass, and obey my command!'
Not a second had passed since Caster had seized the Grail until a deafening blow was felt throughout the theatre. Both Kiritsugu and Kallen were thrown away from each other, unhurt in their respective landings. Kallen had already bounded to her feet before Kiritsugu began to stand up, but she stopped dead in her tracks. It took a moment for Kiritsugu to follow her line of vision back to the centre of the stage and experience his own awe-fueled atrophy.
Zero stood as he had before, but now he was masked – and changed. The purple parts of his outfit had turned as dark as a demon king's heart, creating a far more sinister aura. More so, the coat tailed suit beneath the cape had disappeared, shifted into stygian-cast, form-fitting armour of black with gauntlets that clawed at the fingertips. Zero's visage too had altered, the crest-tipped helm now crowned upon itself – and two marks of Geass glowing brightly at the face. It took Kiritsugu a moment to realize that those were his eyes glaring through, the epiphany sparking when Lelouch looked over without turning his head.
'Kallen!' He called, startling both the Ace and Magus Hunter. 'Restart the Guren!'
His new, impressive look prevented her from speaking for a few seconds, but she managed to find her voice. 'I-I can't, Assassin damaged it!' He was silent in response before striding over to her. The armoured soles of his feet punctuated each step with notes from the left side of a piano, giving more menace to his approach. When he reached her he simply placed his palm onto the hull of the machine and it suddenly rose back to life.
H-How… Kiritsugu thought as he tried to make sense of all he was seeing. How is he…?
'Emiya Kiritsugu.' Zero addressed him without turning to face, taking the man's attention. 'I must thank you for giving me the chance to do what I had to, but now I no longer require your allegiance.' He looked at Kiritsugu, staring the Master down. 'I will destroy the Grail, but circumstances have forced me to postpone that venture for now.'
The Knightmare hovered up and Kallen crawled into the cockpit. She lowered the Guren's smaller hand and picked up her lord. Wind tore through the theatre and Kiritsugu's coat went flying behind him, but he stared down the reborn Zero.
'What have you done!?' Kiritsugu called out over the howling, taking a quick glance at the Grail to check that it was still there.
'Incarnation, my dear Kiritsugu. Or rather, self-governance.' The masked servant said. It was then that Zero dramatically flung out his cape and held his right hand up. Kiritsugu's eyes went wide as he recognized the three red markings that lay upon his closed fist.
Command Seals'!? On a servant!?
'It is my personal belief that the most important characteristic for an entity that strives for self-governance – be it an individual or a nation – is the will to destroy!' He cast his hand violently to the side. 'I intend to do just that; destroy! That granted me my own independence; I no longer require yours nor anyone's mana to sustain my goals.'
Is he…both Master and servant…? Kiritsugu theorized, but he didn't get the chance to ask.
'Farewell, Emiya Kiritsugu! I sincerely hope that by the next time we meet you lose these naïve ideals of yours – war cannot be ended, only destroyed!' With that the red Knightmare lifted off, leaving Kiritsugu behind as Zero ascended to his fortress.
His first instinct was to check the state of the Grail, but it shimmered out of existence before his very eyes just as he turned – now gone until the next War. His second instinct was to put two and two together – the Grail's disappearance and Zero's desertion – and check his hand for Command Seals', they too were gone. His third instinct was to check on Tokiomi – since his fall he hadn't made a single sound. Luckily the Mage was still alive, though he would never bear that title again.
And then it hit him. Not his loss, he couldn't care less about that – but it was the fact that his wish was now lost to him, all because a cynical tyrant had beaten him to the finish first. There wouldn't be another Grail War for 60 years…he'd never live long enough to see it through.
He knew that if there was anything he could do it would be to save Tokiomi's life – at least that would be one less dead man. That's what he'd been doing thus far, saving lives. Sometimes it had required the death of others, but plenty had already died during the fight for the Holy Grail. No more needed to.
Burdened by loss, finality and the knowledge that Zero was still at large, the Magus Hunter; Emiya Kiritsugu – the last standing Master of the Holy Grail War – fell to his knees and cried.
Epilogue, those who were taken.
A starry night sky hung over Fuyuki, twinkling tiny lights warmly down at the citizens. The people felt that a great tension had just passed by, but they couldn't quite put their finger on why. Nevertheless, they largely ignored it and went about their daily lives.
Such was their ignorance that not a single soul noticed a particularly unusual happening in the dead of this night. A flame-red angel, carried by wings of the heart's pallour and wrought in metal, descended from high above. With her grace she carried two more souls down to return back, taken from the bosom of their city.
One was experienced and driven, but spiteful. The other was as willful, but had yet to see even her tenth winter. In hands of the red Valkyrie, they were gently given down and laid to live. As the red-winged beauty departed, a black-garbed soldier of fortune appeared.
Epilogue, those who retired from battle.
The young, wide-eyed girl looked up passively to the man who'd called her. He smiled, a sincere but half-torn act. She ran over to him; her bare feet tumbling through the short grass. They were alone in the park, simply enjoying each other's company. Kariya hadn't been as happy as he was in ages – with Zouken dead he was both free of the old man's curse and Sakura's lawful guardian. Of course, his relationship with the Tohsaka's was as bad as ever – and that meant he would likely never see Aoi or Rin again, but if Sakura was all that he could have, then so be it.
At the very least, with Zouken's death Sakura had suddenly become more animated – much like the girl Kariya used to know.
He gave a passing thought to the servants and Masters that were still alive before continuing on, resolving to leave that world behind. With his good hand he scooped the little girl up into his arms and carried her away, back to their home.
'…Uncle Kariya…?' She whispered tentatively into his ear.
'Yes, Sakura?' He replied happily.
'When will…we see Rin again?'
His heartstrings strummed against a bladed plectrum, and he froze for a moment. The image of Zero returned to his mind and rage flooded his core. Suddenly, a crimson comet fell out of the night sky, trailing majestically downwards against the black curtain of dusk – and he was filled with warm, bright hope.
He broke into a gentle smile, and continued walking with the girl in his arms. 'Soon, Sakura. I promise.'
Epilogue, those who had lost.
Tohsaka Tokiomi bitterly reached for a goblet with shaking hands. He leaned forward just a little too much and his fingers brushed the edge of the glass, enough for it to be pushed over and smash to the ground. Tiny shards scattered across the floor, mimicking his dejected soul, and he sighed in frustration.
Tokiomi had lost everything; the Holy Grail, his servant, his pride as a Mage and the ability to even form mana. He'd lost his daughter to the fiend that was Caster and his other to the Matou family, god knows what was happening over there. Aoi was still out of town, he couldn't bear to face his wife as he was.
Granted, his current wheelchair-bound state was only temporary – but the loss of his magical power was not. Damn Emiya Kiritsugu, damn Zero, damn Zouken, damn them all! He thought.
He looked again at the kitchen counter, regarding the coffee-making materials and various assortments of other items. Then he looked back down, only to be mocked by the broken glass of his goblet. Perhaps he could settle for having his morning coffee in a mug…
At that very moment, the house echoed with the sound of heavy knocking at the front door. Tokiomi cursed and set his wheelchair into motion, scooting embarrassingly through the corridors until he reached the front door. With a snarl he took his cane – a spare with no magical relevance to speak of – and pulled it open.
'You!?' He roared immediately as the sunlight poured in. Before him stood a dark-haired, dark dressed man with a morose expression and blank inflection.
Why!? Why is he here!? What else does he have to take from me!?
Rapidly the outrage within Tokiomi built, until he was prepared to give a verbal beat down fitting of his lineage's reputation. However just before he could, Kiritsugu spoke.
'Tokiomi, please.' He said pacifistically. 'I don't want to fight.' With those quiet words he drew his coat to the side, revealing a previously unnoticed figure to the Tohsaka patriarch. Small, quivering and with dark hair in twin-tailed streams – the girl looked up at the crippled man with wide, wet eyes.
He couldn't believe it. His face paled, and then filled with colour – mouth agape with whole time. It was several unimaginably stoic moments before he spoke; uttering nothing more than what was needed. 'R…Rin…?'
Immediately she jumped into his arms and collapsed onto him. She landed on the same leg that Kiritsugu had injured, but Tokiomi didn't care – he couldn't care. He squeezed her tightly in his arms, dreaming to never let her go. It could have been seconds, hours, days or weeks as far as father and daughter were concerned, and as long as they were reunited they didn't pay mind to it. Tears streamed in equal measure down each of their faces, unabashed and grateful.
'Tohsaka.' Kiritsugu addressed flatly, interrupting the moment. He waited for Tokiomi to at least look at him through his daughter's hair and shoulder before continuing. 'She remembers nothing about Caster, it would be best to keep it that way.'
End of Epilogue.
And the Sword of Damocles swung above all their heads.
Character Sheet - Assassin; Ulquiorra Schiffre - The Pale Servant
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Arms Mastery: B
Battle Continuation: C
Hierro (Anti-Unit): C/ Hard, steel-like skin that can only be pierced with above C Rank attacks.
Arrancar Abilities (Anti-Army): C/ Gives access to Arrancar powers such as Cero and Reiatsu.
Garganta (N/A): B/ Allows Ulquiorra to open portals to move around.
Resurrection (Anti-Unit): A+/ Releases Resurrection: Murcielago.
Resurrection Stage II (Anti-Army): EX/ Releases Resurrection Segunda Etapa.
Character Sheet - Caster; Zero/Lelouch Vi Britannia - The Masked Servant
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Independent Action: C
Military Tactics: A+
Pioneer of the Stars: EX
Eye of the Mind: A
Throne of Duality: A+
Anonymity (Anti-Unit): C/ The identity of Zero – "nothing" – grants Lelouch the power to become figuratively invisible in crowds.
Geass (Anti-Unit) – Power of Subjugation: A+/ Works the same way as a command seal for anyone who looks him in the eye. Can only be used with a Master.
Blaze Luminous (Anti-Unit): B/ The shield used by the Shinkiro, to a lesser standard – Completely negates anything under B Rank.
Hadron Cannon (Anti-Army): C/ Fires a Hadron Blast in a concentrated missiles rather than a beam from his hand.
Call of Loyalty: (N/A) A++/ Lelouch can summon anyone who has served under him and their Knightmare Frame to assist him in battle. Can only be used while under a Master.Siegfried: Mid-Level Anti-Army, High-Level Anti-Unit, Piloted by Jeremiah GottwaldVincent: Low-Level Anti-Army, Mid-Level Anti-Unit, Piloted by Rolo LamperougeDamocles: High-Level Anti-Army, Low-Level Anti-World, capable of F.L.E.I.J.A.'s and protected by a Blaze Luminous shield, commanded by Schneizel El BritanniaLancelot Albion: High-Level Anti-Army, EX-Level Anti-Unit, Piloted by Suzaku KururugiGuren SEITEN Eight-Elements: : High-Level Anti-Army, EX-Level Anti-Unit, Piloted by Kallen Kozuki
Sword of Akasha: EX/ Infinite mana drawn from the collective of people's unconsciousness' – does not allow certain skills that require the mana of a Master
Did you like it? Please say yes :3
THANK YOU ALL for your support and encouragement over the course of this story. All the criticisms I received were just as helpful too, so thank you again for that. I write stories for my own pleasure, but there is few higher joys in my experience of others admiring your work. I cannot express my gratitude enough, thank you all!
As far as the ending goes...yes I do intend to do a sequel. But if I do it will be A) Not for a while, I havent yet seen FSN and I dont plan soon to rectify that. B) It will be more RoD Part II than FSN/RoD Adaptation. There's a lot I could talk about, but I'd rather not. I'm more than happy to answer questions about it though in reviews or PM's, so send them on.
Regarding Zero, he's effectively a self-sustaining servant/Master hybrid...thing. I dont care if they dont exist in Nasuverse, I'm doing it here. His new appearance is largely inspired by his armour in the Knightmare of Nunnally manga, but of course with twists. Yes, he is the servant who lives on - and don't flame me on this, the Nasuverse is pretty damn depressing on it's own, this is well within the bounds of its tone.
I just wanted to clear the above up, there's probably more you want to know - so as I said feel free to PM/Review.
Again, thank all of you who supported me throughout this endeavour and thank you all who read this at all.