“Hm? You’re here too, Roman? Well, not that you matter, anyway,” said the woman Ritsuka remembered having introduced herself as Da Vinci. In response, Dr. Roman was visibly deflated and introduced her to the room without any energy or motivation.
“This will be the first time for most of you in meeting him, no, her… er, it?” Dr. Roman pulled his foot from his mouth and returning to his groundlessly positive self he continued on. “Standing here is Chaldea’s pride and joy, the head of our Engineering Department, Leonardo. As you can tell, they are quite unusual. Of course, they’re not a human… Let’s not get into that. The reason being-”
“…A Servant,” interrupted Medusa, a hint of care and hostility in her voice.
“Right you are~” said the woman with long brunette hair as she took a pose as though presenting herself to an audience. “I’m Chaldea’s honorary tech advisor, I normally go by Leonardo here. But as you can see, I am the proud inventor of the Renaissance!”
Wait. Leonardo of the Renaissance? And she previously said her name was-
“You’re Leonardo Da Vinci,” exclaimed Ritsuka in a cry of surprised exclamation. There were similar confused outbursts from the other Servants in the room. Dr. Roman on the other hand gave a resigned sigh.
“The one and only Leonardo da Vinci in the flesh! You can just call me Da Vinci. You don’t get to see many pretty ladies like myself around here, right?”
Da Vinci twirled around, showing her curvy body off before coming to a halt with her hands on her hips and her nose held up in the air in pride. Wait, one of her hands was robotic? Why didn’t Ritsuka notice that before!?
“Pretty… lady… you say,” parrotted Ritsuka.
Artoria had a face like she’d bitten into a bug as she said, “Strange. No, abnormal is the better word. Leonardo da Vinci should be a man, after all.”
“I don’t think you’re the one who should be pointing that out, though,” said Ritsuka. Playing the straight man was turning into a habit.
“You should always question conventional wisdom,” said Da Vinci, pointing a mechanical finger at Artoria before going on to give her flowery explanation. “But, is it really that important? Who was the first one that claimed I was a man or a woman?”
“Your contemporaries, rivals, and patrons,” said Ritsuka automatically. Da Vinci responded in a huff.
“Sheesh, for crying out loud. I pursue beauty with both my inventions and art. It was I who personified all ideals- all beauty. To me, the ideal beauty is the Mona Lisa. That being the case- See? Isn’t this simply an unavoidable result?”
No one said anything, their disbelief was so great. Romani was the only person who wasn’t so shocked that he could form coherent sentences.
“I like to think of myself as a scholar, but this guy’s pet theories go way over my head. He’s the only pervert twisted enough to turn himself into the Mona Lisa, just because he loves the Mona Lisa.”
“Heh heh. Are you sure about that, Roman? As cultures mature, anything is possible. The desire to become a beautiful girl might one day be the norm.”
“So a dystopia then,” said Ritsuka quietly.
“That might be true, but which time period’s Heroic Spirit are you,” asked Dr. Roman with his hands on his hips. It was an incredibly sound argument, which Da Vinci just chose to ignore.
“Genius has nothing to do with time period, Doctor. Ritsuka, you’d do well to remember that too. You will encounter many Heroic Spirits who were artists. Every one of them is as splendid and eccentric!”
So all art related Heroic Spirits are complete weirdos. Got it. I’ll lower my expectations, thought Ritsuka to himself.
“Ok, that’s enough for my introduction. Sad as it may be I’ll be changing the topic away from myself. Fujimaru Ritsuka, I need you to summon as many Servants as you can!”
With her flesh and blood right hand, Da Vinci pointed the index finger at Ritsuka in a dynamic fashion. But did nothing else.
“I got that part,” said Ritsuka at length. “But could you tell me why?”
“Yes, as Gudao-kun’s doctor, I’d like a proper explanation if I’m going to clear him to perform more summon rituals.”
“Haa~ It can’t be helped. Roman, take a look at this data,” said Da Vinci as she handed over a thumb drive which Dr. Roman put into the laptop at the work desk. After clicking a few times and scrolling through some documents – it was enough time for the various Artorias to go back to enjoying their tea – Dr. Roman cried out, “Whoa!”
“Yes, that’s right. Fate has begun to move,” said Da VInci, her voice dripping with meaning and foreshadowing.
“Who’s Fate,” asked Artoria Lily, her eyes wide with intense curiosity.
“That’s just what we call Chaldea’s summoning system,” replied Dr. Roman. Lily’s shoulders slumped in obvious disappointment.
“Don’t go betraying my dramatic build ups like that, Roman,” said Da Vinci in annoyance. “This is why you’re not popular with women.”
“My lack of popularity has nothing to do with this!”
“So he’s unpopular, as expected,” said Altoria in unfeigned boredom before taking another sip of tea.
“Could we get back to the topic of why I need to summon more Servants,” asked Ritsuka. It felt like if he didn’t say anything, the topic would spin further and further off track.
“Oh, thanks for the save, Gudao-kun! Anyway, if these readings are correct, it would seem that the Leyline has fully integrated with the Fate summoning system, and is providing continuous mana support to the Servants that have been contracted to you for as long as they are within Chaldea. Previously the connection was only a partial one and only one or two Servants at most could be supported, which was why Chaldea stopped our experiments after Da Vinci showed up.”
“Well, there’s no point in improving on perfection, after all,” said Da Vinci. Dr. Roman concluded with, “Or the researchers felt that they couldn’t handle any more like that one.”
Archer stepped in – no, he stepped forward to pour Artoria a second cup of tea – and said, “That does not answer the question of why you need to summon more Servants, or why my Master is required for the process.”
Da Vinci turned and began her explanation, moving her hands and body at a constant rate, as though the flow of information was what was moving her about.
“There are a few reasons. First, is that Ritsuka has a 250% success rate for summoning Servants at this point in time. Two Servants in Fuyuki, and three here in Chaldea. Chaldea’s success rate is lower than 1%. Regardless of success or failure, the same amount of mana, time, and effort goes into a summon ritual. Therefore, it’s far more economical for us to have Ritsuka take on the role of Master of any summoned Servants in exchange for an almost guaranteed success in summoning.
“Second, is that only Servants that are contracted with Ritsuka will be able to Rayshift with him. While Servants could technically Rayshift into the Singularities without Ritsuka on hand, they will receive no mana from their Master and will quickly disappear. Servants like myself who are contracted with Chaldea itself, and not a Master, are fine as long as I remain on the premises. But I can’t really go anywhere. That’s not to say I can’t make a Contract as I so please in the future, but, really, there’s a mountain of things I still need to do here so there’s not much point, you know? Anyway, a contract with Ritsuka will be required for any Servants to be able to help in clearing the Singularities, and to aid in stabilizing their existence even while remaining in the Chaldea installation.
“Third, is that Ritsuka’s abilities as a Master and his Command Seals are a necessity for keeping any summoned Servants civil and cooperative. I am contracted directly with Chaldea itself, and I am not subject to any regulation by a Master and I have no fear of receiving Commands I don’t agree with. But since I’m a humble, beautiful, reasonable, beautiful, gentle, and unparallelled beauty of a genius, there’s no need for me to be regulated by a Master. Now, if a Berserker had been summoned instead of myself, then without a Master to keep them reasonable, this entire facility would have been in ruins long ago. So, it’s an important safety measure from Chaldea’s point of view as well to have someone like Ritsuka keeping an eye on the Servants, and keeping them in line.
“Fourth, is that… we don’t have enough staff to keep the installation running. There were over two hundred full time employees before the bombing and now we have about twenty. Even with everyone working around the clock, there’s not enough people to keep everything running. We’ve already shut down and sealed entire sections of the base, but even then we won’t be able to keep everything maintained in the long run. So even just having an extra pair of hands to keep the bathrooms clean would be invaluable. We might get lucky and summon Heroic Spirits who are intelligent and diligent enough to take shifts in the control room during Rayshifts, or help with fabrication of parts. But at this point, any help is appreciated.
“And fifth, is that the database for information about Heroic spirits only had one solid entry before you left for the mission in Fuyuki. Mine. And now that you’ve come back from Fuyuki and used the Fate Summoning System in the installation itself, there are eleven. I can only assume that the Servants that can now be summoned by Fate are deeply tied to you, Ritsuka, from your time in the Singularity and your summoning of these Servants here. Which means, once again, that having you perform the summoning will result in the highest likelihood of success.
“And that is why we need to have you summon more Servants, Ritsuka!”
Da Vinci ended with a dramatic pointed finger accompanied by a stomp of the foot to produce a synthetic bang. Having let it sink in that Da Vinci had finished her speech, Ritsuka said, “Is it really fine for me to do that?”
“Hmm? Didn’t I just finish explaining why I wanted you to do that? Please don’t ask me to explain it all again…”
“No, I understand that. But… I just one sidedly summoned the three Artorias. And because of that, I’ve involved them in this battle. Is it really okay for me to summon Servants without their permission?”
With a deep and chiding tone of voice, Archer said, “Master. I believe you are operating under a severe misunderstanding. Servants are Summoned by their own consent. Unless one uses forbidden methods, it is impossible to force a Servant to respond to a summon.”
“Exactly,” said Artoria to Ritsuka’s right. “We take part in Holy Grail Wars because it serves our own desires. To achieve our own goals. And while this is not exactly a typical Holy Grail War, I have no hesitation about fighting for the purpose of saving the world. Are you not of the same mind, Lily?”
“Hai,” said Artoria Lily with youthful energy. “I’m honored to have been summoned for such a noble purpose! While I don’t know how useful I’ll be, I’ll definitely be serving you with all my effort, Master!”
Smiling from the outpouring of good will, Ritsuka naturally looked to his left to see Altoria sipping lightly from her tea. After a second, Altoria looked up to Ritsuka and said, “My motives are my own.” Then went back to placidly drinking her tea. Medusa took up the momentum that had been dropped by Altoria.
“Fujimaru-sama, I don’t think that any Heroic Spirit you summon would regret answering your call.”
“Even that one in the corner is saying that, Master,” said Archer forcefully with an ikemen’s smile. “So please be assured that it is alright to ask us Heroic Spirits for more help. Or rather, it’s alright for you to depend on us.”
Ritsuka was feeling warm and fuzzy enough to completely ignore Dr. Roman self dejectedly saying, “I wish I could talk like that, too. Even I would be popular if I could…” Finally, Ritsuka gave his answer to Da Vinci.
“I understand. I’ll participate in summoning more Servants. But…”
“But,” asked Da Vinci.
“I don’t want to force things on them. Like Artoria said, this isn’t a regular Holy Grail War. There’s no prize at the end for the Servants. Which is why I want to properly explain things to the people who answer my summon request.”
Da Vinci rolled her eyes up in thought as she said, “Hmm. I don’t mind, but wouldn’t that take a lot of time to explain our situation to each and every Servant? Not to mention how repetitive it would get if our database were to expand again in the future…”
“Well, about that, I have an idea,” said Ritsuka, who began to explain himself. After finishing, Da Vinci said, “Well, it’s a pretty rough outline but I think it would work. I can have it set up in about twenty minutes. The summoning chamber should be cleaned out and fully prepared by then, anyway.”
“Huh? I don’t remember giving any orders for that,” exclaimed Dr. Roman.
“People who skip out on work don’t have the right to complain when orders are given,” said Da Vinci with a withering look. Dr. Roman sighed and placed his tea cup on the service tray Archer had been using before saying, “Alright, I get it already,” and leaving the infirmary. Possibly with the intention of helping the other Chaldea staff, but Ritsuka couldn’t rule out the possibility that Dr. Roman was just going to find another place to flake out for a while.
Da Vinci left shortly after, making sure Ritsuka would appear in the designated 30 minutes. After that, it was a short continuation of a tea party where Artoria Lily asked her more experienced counterparts for advise on swordsmanship, with Artoria have a very slow moving mock battle with Lily, and a few sweet biscuits shared out that were apparently made by Archer. Archer also spent the entire tea party in the role of being a server, leaving Ritsuka with a feeling that Archer was unusually use to playing the role of a Butler. By the time Ritsuka needed a bathroom break from all the tea, it was nearly time to depart. Archer cleaned the tea set to prevent it from being stained while Ritsuka was in the toilet, and everyone departed shortly after.
Ritsuka led the group this time since he’d made a point of learning the layout of Chaldea in the past few days. Medusa was at the head of the group along with him, with Artoria and Lily behind, and Altoria and Archer bringing up the rear. Shortly after departing, Altoria quietly asked Archer about something that had been bothering her.
“Archer. You called that useless doctor the Acting Director earlier. What happened to the real Director?”
“Ahh. That girl… Shortly after the battles ended in Fuyuki, Lev Lainur Flauros showed up for the Grail, and killed the Director in the process.”
* * * * *
“Amazing, Senpai, you really did summon more Servants,” called out Mash energetically inside the summoning chamber when Ritsuka and crew entered inside. All five of the Servants entered with him, and most were stunned by Mash’s outpouring of goodwill. “And Medusa, it’s so good to see you again!”
“Yes. It’s good to see you as well, Mash.”
“And you three… are you triplets?”
“Ah, no Mash,” said Ritsuka while scratching his head. “These three are different forms of the same Artoria. Let me introduce you… are you alright?”
Artoria seemed a little spaced out for a moment and asked, “This is the Demi-Servant girl? The one that does not know the name of her Heroic Spirit?”
“Yes, this is her,” said Archer.
“You, what is your name,” asked Altoria, cutting into the flow.
“Ah, I’m Mash. It’s very nice to meet you as an ally, Artoria.”
“Please, call me Artoria Alter. And Mash, we wish you the best of luck in bonding with your Heroic Spirit, so that it may reveal itself to you in the future. Isn’t that right, Artoria?”
“…Yes. I hope you reach a mutual understanding with your Heroic Spirit. It is a pleasure to meet you, Mash. Please call me Artoria.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you as well,” said Mash with a bright smile on her face. She then turned to Lily and said, “And who might you be?”
“Ah. Hello Onee-san. I’m Artoria Lily, please call me Lily if it pleases you. I’m very happy to meet you and I hope that we can get along very well in the future.”
With that, Lily gave a sincere smile that reached her eyes alongside a polite bow. It was an excellent self-introduction, but something about it caused Mash to seize up. Mash then turned to Ritsuka and shouted, “Senpai! This is incredible! This girl is incredibly cute! Is this the thing the Japanese call ‘moe!?’ I’m feeling an intense urge to hug this girl and never let go! What am I supposed to do!?”
Artoria and Altoria started fidgeting as though they were itching in a place they couldn’t scratch, while Lily was startled motionless and confused. Ritsuka worked hard to keep a straight face and decided to guide Mash down the correct path, since she was so sincere in her request.
“Mash. In this situation, the correct reaction is to tell the person in question that they are cute… and then give them head-pats.”
“Understood, Senpai! Lily, you are very cute. Requesting permission to dispense head-pats.”
Ritsuka started chortling even though he was working hard to stifle the laughter. When Lily gave her apprehensive permission, Mash slowly and awkwardly put her hand on Lily’s head and moved it around in a circle, causing the ahoge to swing around wildly. Like a good Senpai, Ritsuka corrected Mash’s technique, dropping his voice a few octaves to show how serious the subject really is.
“No, Mash, a proper headpat goes from front to back, in order to give comfort to the recipient. Pretend like you’re petting Fou as you do it.”
“Fou,” called the animal questioningly. Where does that thing keep showing up from?
“I see. So like this, Senpai?”
As Mash’s headpat technique swiftly improved, Ritsuka gave a very serious double nod and said, “Yes, very good.”
“I see. Thank you for teaching me, Senpai. It would seem the headpat is a very deep and mysterious technique. And thank you as well, Lily-chan. I very much enjoyed giving you head-pats.”
“Ah, no. The honor… was mine?”
It seemed the itchy feeling in Artoria and Altoria had grown greatly. Things were likely to become even stranger if Da Vinci’s voice hadn’t projected over a speaker system inside the summoning room in English.
[There’s time for head-pats later, all of you. Right now I have the staff on support for the summoning ritual, so Ritsuka, please begin. We’ll handle all the back end stuff, so just perform the ritual like normal. Let us know if you feel like you can’t continue for any reason. Everyone else in the room, please stand to the side, ready to support Ritsuka should the need arise.]
“Ah, alright, Da Vinci. I will now begin.”
* * * * *
For the Elements, Silver and Iron.
For the Foundation, Stone and the Arbiter of Covenants.
Let no man be my Master, as we trod the path to the future.
“Assassin Servant, Sasaki Kojirou. I have come to serve…”
Seal the gates of the four directions.
Come forth from thy jeweled pinnacle and follow
the exalted road leading to the Kingdom.
Fill, fill, fill, fill, fill.
The five vessels are complete.
“Oh-toh! Looks like I’ve been summoned as a Caster, eh? Oh, it’s you guys. We met before, right?”
But when each is filled, let them be destroyed.
Heed my words. My will creates your body,
and your blade cuts the path to my destiny.
“Yo! Lancer Servant! I’ve been summoned and come at your request. Well, let’s try and have fun with this, Master.”
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.
“Ara, you’re a rather cute Master.”
Thou Seventh Heaven,
clad in the three great sigils of power,
come forth from the circle of binding,
oh Guardians of Balance!
“Fufuhahahahaha!! For you to summon me like this I see your luck has run out, Mongrel!”