Ritsuka’s first thought was…
Is it possible to run from this fight?
“Dr. Roman, are you able to Rayshift us out of here?”
[I’m sorry, Gudao, but we only have one Coffin ready for Rayshifting, the one that was assigned for your use. Most of our systems are still down, we can just barely confirm that three Servants are heading your way.]
Ritsuka’s eyes flicked between Mash and Olga Marie, trying to decide who to evacuate. But the answer to his mental inquiry would be that they would both refuse to leave. Mash because she would refuse to leave Ritsuka behind, her reason being that he’s her Master. And Olga Marie because she doesn’t have her answers to bring before her peers to save her political position. Caster timed his bait and switch with his offer of information perfectly to ensure Olga Marie would stay put, even if he hadn’t intended to do so. And there was no way Ritsuka could only save himself.
And I barely outran a bunch of skeletons, so there’s no way I could outrun proper Servants. Once again, it’s either fight now or fight later.
“How do I become your Temporary Master, Caster?”
“Master, are you certain you should trust him,” asked Rider to Ritsuka’s statement.
“Whether or not I trust him, Rider, there is no other choice for me to make. Caster?”
Another car was smashed in the distance as Caster said with a calm smirk on his face, “The fastest way is to make physical contact with me, recite a part of the summoning incantation… and then it’s up to me to decide if I accept you as a Master. Temporary or otherwise.”
Caster’s hand was still outstretched as Rider and Archer both stared at him, their weapons at the ready, despite the incoming enemy Servants. As a lamp post was pulverized under the power of the beast human shaped Servant, Ritsuka placed his hand into Caster’s outstretched hand, clasping into a tight handshake and declared, “If you heed the Throne’s call and obey my will and reason, then answer me. I hereby swear that I shall be all the good in the world. That I shall defeat all evil in the world. What say you, Guardian of Balance?”
“So that was the part you chose to use, hmm? Very well, I accept you as a Temporary Master. Direct me as you will, but know that my loyalty is not without question, or responsibility.”
A circle of runed power floated above the handshake, then half the runes moved a step inwards and turned one eighth of the circumference of the circle, like a lock had just been closed, before dimming into nothing. Ritsuka felt the new drain on his Od, still not too much, but it was definitely noticeable at this point. Something to ponder later. But right now…
[Enemy Servants inbound! They’re 100 meters away and closing fast!]
“Archer, do you have a suggestion for a battle plan,” called Ritsuka as he released Caster’s hand.
“I’ll handle the woman, she seems to be a Knight Class after all. Rider, the one leaping between lamp posts-”
“Yes, I will intercept him.”
“Which leaves me and the little girl with the muscle head, then,” said Caster as though it was someone else’s problem as the shield bearing Servant offhandedly kicked a sedan out of his way while picking up speed. “Mash, was it?”
Mash was visibly startled by having Caster call out her name before responding, “Yes?”
“This is a good opportunity for you to gain experience. All you need to do is keep him from advancing. Considering your Noble Phantasm there, defense should be your specialty. You can leave all the offense to me.”
Mash was trembling slightly, looking at the muscular bare chested spearman that was coming straight for them. Ritsuka was certain that Mash was terrified, because he himself was as well. Which left Ritsuka with an internal crisis he had no choice but to squash with the thought…
We all have to do what we can.
“Mash,” said Ritsuka. “Even if you can’t believe in yourself, I believe in you. You have enough strength to do this. And even if you don’t, you’re not alone here. We’re all going to work together to overcome this. I believe in you Mash.”
Mash was still for a moment before saying, “Thank you, Senpai.” Then she began to move forwards.
Ritsuka stepped close to Caster and muttered, “Make absolutely certain none of your spells strike her.”
Because that was the only thing that Ritsuka could do…
“On the count of three,” called Archer who hopped onto a panel van and deployed his bow.
Rider took an ultra low stance, a cross between a sprinter’s starting crouch and a fighter’s stabbing stance.
Mash stepped to the side to make sure she was in the path of the oncoming Servant she’d been assigned to.
Archer began to release a barrage of arrows as quickly as semi automatic rifle fire, his right arm blurring with the motion. The woman with the pole arm danced to the side, leapt around obstacles and down between cars while flicking arrows out of the air with the scythe blade of her weapon as she increased her speed. With a sudden displacement of air she sprinted the remaining distance to Archer, closing to melee range to seal off Archer’s ability to use his bow before lashing out at him. Archer manifested his twin short swords in time to fend off her initial strike while leaping back, his brow furrowed and his mouth twisted in concentration.
The two of them passed by Ritsuka, offering him just enough time to get a glance at the events. The woman had skin as pale as snow, and eyes the color of gleaming yellow amber. Her mouth was upturned in a sadistic smile. That sense of sadism extended to her clothing as well, as it was all black leather in the style of a misshapen party dress with ultra high leg slits and a hood partially covering her ultra long lavender hair. All told, with the added effect of her scythe shaped pole arm the woman looked like an S&M Shinigami, what other cultures called a Grim Reaper.
But with all the differences in apparent clothing and personality, the hair struck Ritsuka as being so familiar that he turned to look at Rider.
While the lavender haired enemy had closed the distance with Archer, Rider had chosen to close the distance with the enemy servant she’d been assigned to. A man whose skin was ebony black with a mane of white hair around his neck and his face enclosed in a steel helmet with a mask shaped like a bull. There were two great horns coming up from his helmet that were pointed forward, as though they existed only for the purpose of goring a foe. Yellow amber light shined from the eye holes of the mask as the Servant howled his raw emotions, the sound echoing inside the helmet and off the building walls alike.
Rider’s opening move was a flying drop kick to the chest of the muscular and lythe armed opponent. There was enough force in the strike to distort and shatter the lamp post the man was on before he’d even tried to leap from it. There was a shine, a spark and lashing of light from the point of contact even as the man was tossed backwards. But Rider was knocked back as well, and Ritsuka felt a pull of mana through the Crest on his right hand, and knew instinctively that Rider had been injured somehow.
That instinct seemed to be proven true a moment later as Rider leapt backwards to stand on the side of a building, literally standing on the side, as though it were the ground beneath Ritsuka’s feet. Rider bent down and grasps one of her legs where it looked like the fabric of her outfit had been burnt. The mark swiftly disappeared, and Rider moved to dodge an oncoming rush from the bare chested and bull headed man. Rider narrowly avoided the rush as the man lifted his head upwards in a goring motion, the displacement of forces causing windows to shatter from the movement. And then Rider leapt further back as a bolt of electricity blasted from the bull headed man’s body to where Rider had stood a fraction of a second earlier, shattering the metal framework of the building. Rider began a retreating battle against the bull headed man as they both zoomed around the side of the building.
The sound of an explosion of impact pulled Ritsuka’s attention as shield met shield.
Just ten meters ahead of him Mash had stopped the charge of the shield bearing Servant. His flesh had turned the bright red of a cartoon demon, and he wore a brass breastplate and full face helmet that burned the color of the sun, almost like they were exuding light. His shield was the same way, a great round shield that expanded and shrunk in an instant as the wielder required. He looked most definitely like a Greek warrior from the ancient myths, complete with plumes of bright red horse hair coming out of the top of his helm, tassets around his midsection and armored sandals with greaves.
Mash had been able to stop his charge, but grooves were shown in the black top of the road where her tenacity had been stronger then the ground she’d stood on, showing tears in the road’s surface half a meter long. But Mash had stopped the greek warrior, and that was what Caster required.
Caster swung his arm and half a dozen runes appeared as he did so in mid air, gleaming a light blue. With another motion of his arm the runes dispersed past Mash and formed magecraft circles in the air directed towards the greek warrior that Mash was in a contest of strength with. From those light blue circles lances of ice were fired one after another like a missile barrage. The greek warrior leapt backwards, using the tension of his shield having been pushing against Mash’s for an additional burst of speed. The space the warrior had been standing on before was frozen over with great shafts of ice, which Caster then struck with another rune for a follow up combination to shatter them into another barrage against the warrior. The greek warrior instantly put up his shield, which had grown in size to protect his entire body with only one eye peering out from behind it, not allowing his opponent to have even a moment where he is not being directly observed.
The bright yellow eye in the mask seemed to be squinting in study against the two opponents he had before him as Caster said, “Damn it. This guy’s defense is ridiculous. That’s why I hate you most, old man!”
“To be hated on the battlefield means I’m doing something right,” came his reply. Then the greek warrior charged forward again. But instead of slamming Mash with his shield he began thrusting at the openings in her defense with his spear. Striking at her face peeking out behind the cross guard of her shield. Stabbing at her visible shoulder that held her shield. Low sweeps at Mash’s thin legs at the moment Mash was forced to shift her weight. Sparks of mana were being blasted off the near misses, and Mash was being forced back quickly. Then the greek warrior used one of the spear heads on each end of his polearm weapon to hook on the back side of Mash’s shield, and then pulled her towards him just enough to destroy Mash’s balance.
Mash then showed a true fatal opening, and the greek warrior corrected his posture and positioned his spear to strike Mash through the heart. Ritsuka’s throat was already filled with air to cry out the moment his kouhai was struck down when rune sigils formed on four sides of the greek warrior; one directly below, two diagonally on either side of him, and the final one between him and Mash. Fierce lightning erupted from the sigils in unison forming a brilliant flare of electrical light that forced Ritsuka to cover his eyes.
When Ritsuka could see clearly again, he saw the greek warrior had withdrawn to about ten meters distance from Mash, his body covered in char marks from the lightning barrage he’d received. It looked like it was fatal damage… but the man didn’t seem to be struggling from the injuries in the slightest. Instead of gasping in pain or struggling to stand upright, the man calmly said, “It seems I can’t show even a moment’s gap with you, young Caster.”
“Damn it, old man! Just hurry up and die! Just how much mana do you think I’ve wasted on you so far!”
To Caster’s childish outburst, the greek warrior burst into a guffaw of laughter and shouted back, “It’ll take far more than what you’ve shown to finish me off, child! I am King Leonidas, the Guardian of Sparta and Savior of Athens! And it’s time for this old man to get serious!”
Ritsuka was star struck for a moment, being in the presence of one of the greatest credibly recorded heroes of mankind, but something nagged at him from the start. After seeing Leonidas’ weapon. What kind of spear had two ends? Ritsuka’s mind was racing through all the different possibilities, since twin glaves didn’t exist in ancient Europe. But as Leonidas raised his spear, the posture struck realization loose in Ritsuka’s mind. The posture Leonidas held was the exact same as a track and field athlete.
Ritsuka immediately called out, “Mash, be careful! That’s not a spear, it’s a javelin! He’s an Archer!”
Lines of burning red power stood out on Leonida’s chest and arms as the head of his bladed javelin burst into flame. A split second later it was flying through the air at Mash, and exploded on her shield with the force of a missile.