The atmosphere inside the meeting room was amicable on the surface, but for anyone who stepped inside the tension was thick enough to repel the knife that tried to cut it. The Heroic Spirits that were summoned as Servants sat around the long meeting table all had their guards up and were waiting for violence to break out at a moment’s notice. Some even seemed to long for it, such as the Blue Lancer who sported a broad smirk while looking about him.
The door to the meeting room opened and Mash entered escorting a wobbly and weak Ritsuka inside. Ritsuka sat in one of the open chairs at the close end of the table, leaving the area open for Da Vinci to perform her work. For some reason, the man wearing golden armor who claimed the far end of the table for himself gave a dismissive grunt to that show from the Master who’d summoned him.
“I would like to thank all of you gathered here for your patience,” said Da Vinci, as she began her lecture. “Even though we have three Sabers here acting as escorts, the restraint you’ve shown before potential enemies is worthy of praise. I will now commence in giving all of you as complete a summary of the current situation as is possible, and would appreciate if you hold off on asking questions until I finish the explanations. First, I will address the most important topic. Yes. All of you were Summoned by this boy, Fujimaru Ritsuka, and he is the Master of all of you.”
There was no outrage, cries of surprise, or audible unrest in the room. Merely cold confirmation of something all those within had considered but could not confirm.
“The second most important point is that you were not summoned to take part in a regular, or even an irregular Holy Grail War. If anything were to describe it as a proper analogy to warfare, it would be a series of campaigns against a superior and unknown enemy. We have named this campaign, this operation, as the Grand Order.”
The air about the Lancer and the Assassin felt like it was honed into a fine blade of excitement.
“Third. Is that except for the twenty odd humans in this installation… all of humanity has been wiped out, from the beginning to the end of time.”
This elicited surprise from all the newly summoned Servants at the meeting table, except the one in golden armor.
“I will now present images of the world from this date in the year 2017. Fuyuki City-”
The screen behind Da Vinci flickered to life and began to show the current state of the world. On it was a close in aerial image that showed a ruined red metal bridge collapsed in a river of muck, burnt out buildings and flattened and bare landscape. There were no sources of light, and there were no colors except burnt brown mud and burning fiery red. No hint of mankind or of nature.
This mass was nothing more than spralling urban ruin. Skyscrapers fallen into and on top of one another with a zig zag of broken and fractured streets. The intersections that saw thousands of pedestrians moving through every day were bare and ruined.
A city of supreme cultural impact to all the civilized world, in both hemispheres was carved out and destroyed by forces beyond that of natural disaster. The great clock tower Big Ben had not toppled, but had collapsed in on itself as tough from massive and long term neglect. The great Thames River running through the city was flowing with burning mud.
The courtyard where the Pope would appear and give sermons of peace and God’s love was choked with shattered marble from the collapsed chapel and ruined statues that should have surrounded the place of revered holiness. The view of the location pulled back and showed the rest of the cultural icon of a city in the same state, then panned over to show a burnt out wreck of landscape that should have been a verdant green expanse of Italian countryside.
“The Pacific Ocean-”
There was nothing more than an undulating field of brown filth in place of an ocean. There was nothing to give any sense of scale but a dark and lifeless plot of land that should have been a brilliantly jade green colored island in the distance.
“The Amazon Rainforest-”
A carpet of laid over and burnt out trees swept out as far as the eye could see, as though an after effect from the pyroclastic cloud of a volcano. However, the perspective of the view point showed the damage being too widespread to be considered natural, or even unnatural. It gave the impression of it having been done by an act of God.
The final image showed the current state of the planet. It should have been brilliant blue with swirls of white being carried over a carpet of differently colored earth tones. A majestic sight that would instill awe and splendor in any who saw it. The current image showed only brown on brown. The only thing to denote land masses was a slightly different color of brown. There was no white overhead, and just a dark mass of soot clouds that would never settle. Even the planet Mars seemed like it would be more hospitable to life.
“The representative of our current enemy named himself as Lev Lainur Flauros, and declared that his ‘King’ has incinerated all of humanity, through all of history. With our observation devices, Chaldea has confirmed this as a fact. We have also found Singularities, pockets of distorted time causality, that appear to be the source of this King’s ability to perform the incineration of humanity. The goal of Chaldea, and your Master Fujimaru Ritsuka, is to correct these Singularities and retrieve the magical items we are classifying as ‘Grails’ to seal our enemy’s ability to generate more.
“The in depth explanation of how we can move to these distortions in time and space is best left for another time if you are interested, but it is enough to say, for now, that we are capable of sending humans with the capacity to be Masters, and Servants to these places to fight against the enemies of Humanity. And since this task is far too great and dangerous for two mortal children to succeed in undertaking, Servants are of vital importance in any attempt in fighting back against the one that has incinerated humanity.
“Our enemy is unknown. The extent of his power is unknown. His purpose in doing this is unknown. His location is unknown. And the only way we’ll even be able to begin discovering any answers or solutions is to enter the Singularities and draw them out by wit or by force. Our chances of success are slim to begin with, and are not made any better by the fact that time is not on our side. We only have until midnight of New Years, the moment 2018 becomes 2019, to achieve victory… or this installation will also be incinerated by the fact that our temporal axis finally aligned with that of the rest of the world.
“So, you see, this isn’t a Holy Grail War. There is no prize for the victor at the end except the prize called Survival. And the young Master before you wanted you all to understand these facts… before you agreed to help him in this fight against our unknown aggressor. He prioritized your free will and cooperation over subordination. The five Servants at this end of the table have already chosen to accept Ritsuka as their Master and will be fighting alongside him as much as they are able… but this task is too big even for all of them combined. On behalf of the Chaldea Security Organization, I would like to ask that you accept Fujimaru Ritsuka as your Master and work towards saving the world. No matter how cliche that may sound.”
The room was left silent for a long and heavy time. Then one polite voice made itself known. The dignified voice belonged to a woman who sat with a straight back and was covered in the robes of a magician, with the upper half of her face covered in hooded darkness and her shapely lips colored with a lavender gloss that would be alluring if her mystery didn’t give it a sinister air. Archer had identified her as a Caster.
“You said that human history had been ‘Incinerated.’ Not destroyed, nor twisted, nor ended. The image that comes to mind is that of a wildfire across the plains. It destroys all in the far distance, sweeps through that which is nearby, and consumes that which would come later. I also saw modern buildings in your images. You claim to have the ability to observe different times. Do you have evidence that this incineration has influenced the past as well?”
Da Vinci clicked a button on the handheld device that had been controlling the presentation and said, “Yes. This is Istanbul from the 1700’s. The incineration of humanity is exactly like you described it, Caster. All of the civilization that existed at any given time is there, as though it was freshly destroyed. As such, every moment in the history of mankind is as though it was freshly annihilated, not sparing a single age or moment from fresh destruction. It is not just humanity that has been incinerated, but human history. Everything they created, everyone who was ever born, everything they were or could be, is gone. With the burnt out skeleton of it’s fresh remains standing tall.”
The image reflected the ports of the city of Istanbul, the sail powered boats and ships half sunk in the harbors of brown muck with the ruined royal palace on its hill in the distance.
“There is no time or place connected to humanity, humans, or the world that has been spared,” summarized Da Vinci.
Caster bit her lip lightly, seeming to ponder something. She seemed like she was about to open her mouth to say something when Lancer spoke boldly and emphatically, “I’m in.”
The Lancer wearing the blue bodysuit was sitting straight in his chair with his arms crossed and his eyes closed. Almost like he didn’t care to listen to or look at anything. If it wasn’t for the fact that his entire body was in such a high alert state that he wasn’t moving a centimeter, it might have looked like he was nodding off. Opening his eyes to look into Ritsuka’s, he continued his bold proclamation.
“I was never one to run from an impossible fight, even when I was alive. If the kid here is looking to take all this on, then how could I stand to pass up the chance myself. Just give the word, kid, and this Lancer will pierce the hearts of all your enemies…”
Lancer gave a fearless and tight smile as though it was that of a natural born predator. Before Ritsuka could respond with more than a wry smile, Blue Caster from the Fuyuki Singularity interrupted from his seat directly next to the Lancer.
“You’re as wild as always, Lancer Me. It didn’t occur to you to ask any questions? Ask for any rewards? We fight in Holy Grail Wars to fulfill our wishes, after all, don’t we?”
“You’re spouting a bunch of crap right now, Caster Me, but you’re excited by this too, ain’t’cha?”
“I suppose it’d be a lie if I said I wasn’t. But still, I’d rather not work hard and get nothing out of it. You, the one who introduced herself as Da Vinci. What can you promise us as compensation aside from ‘Survival’?”
“…I could make a lot of promises, such as money, freedom, power, anything you could name. But I have no authority to provide any of it. Even our Acting Director has no authority outside this base. We also don’t know what will remain of the world after all is said and done, so any material rewards promised may no longer exist at the end of the road. All I can say for certain is that you’ll have the same freedoms and liberties as the rest of the staff at Chaldea, and you won’t have to worry about participating in a Battle Royal. Which means you will have downtime and the chance for recreation that you would never have otherwise during a normal Holy Grail War.”
Blue Caster looked thoughtful and was pondering the offer carefully when Blue Lancer broke in and said, “Oh, just take the deal already, Caster Me. I know you’re just playing hard to get. Honestly, it’s kinda annoying seeing that part of myself at the forefront.”
Blue Caster sighed and said, “I guess it’s like my Lancer Self said. I’m already here so there’s no point in pussy footing. But really, Lancer Me, you could have let me make them squirm a bit more.”
Then both Blue Servants cracked a smile and chuckled in unison.
“You two seem to be on strangely good terms,” said Artoria.
“Yes. It’s quite disgusting, really,” said Altoria.
“I know watching my others selves interact is quite stressful,” mentioned Artoria Lily. “How are the two of you so relaxed right now?”
Both Blue Servants went ‘Hmm’ and turned their heads like identical twins. Then they started their jolly explanation while passing it back and forth in an unbelievably harmonious manner, starting with Lancer.
“Well, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in a Grail War where I was summoned in more than one class.”
“We’re a pretty commonly summoned Servant after all.”
“What was the first time it happened, Caster Me? The Northern British Isles, right?”
“Yup! About a hundred years after we died. The Lancer was summoned using our earrings-”
“And the Rider version was summoned using our boots!”
“Yeah! Man, that was taking the name ‘Hound of Chulainn’ a little too far, wasn’t it?”
Both Blue Servants laughed out loud in a stereophonic unison. It was a pretty strange sight, to be honest, but there was one person who was annoyed enough by it to react.
“Please cease this spectacle at once, Blue Caster,” said the hooded woman who was sitting next to the Assassin, Sasaski Kojiro. “Shouldn’t you try and present yourself with the dignity our Class represents? Honestly, you’re making the rest of us look bad by comparison.”
Blue Caster tilted his head provocatively and said, “If that’s all it takes to make other Casters look bad, then perhaps they weren’t all that great to begin with?”
“What did you say!?”
“Lady Caster, I believe it would be best if you calm yourself,” said Sasaki Kojiro without moving his head towards Caster. The man exuded cool charm from the immaculate Japanese kimono he wore to the extremely long hair he had in a high ponytail on the back of his head. He did not release his sight from Lancer for even a fraction of a second. “The purpose of this meeting is to come to the decision of whether we shall support this Grand Order or not. Insults and fighting are a far second to this primary purpose.”
Caster clicked her tongue as though she was annoyed that she’d been corrected, but could not fail to recognize the validity of the correction. Sasaki continued on.
“For my part, I have come to the decision that I shall follow our young Master and take part in the Grand Order.”
Caster seemed surprised, as she turned to look at Assassin for the first time since Ritsuka had entered the room and said, “I can understand those half-wits over there jumping on such a bandwagon-”
“But I didn’t think you were nearly so impulsive, Assassin! There are far too many ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims in this story. The incineration of humanity? How is such a concept even able to be imagined, let alone enacted?”
“Why, Caster,” said Sasaki in a smooth tone, “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were in denial. But, that is only natural on hearing such claims, I suppose, as someone who knows magic far better than I ever could. And I have not joined any band wagon. I simply observed the ones sitting across from us.”
“Oh,” remarked Caster as she turned to face the Blue duo as Sasaki continued his explanation.
“Those two, especially the Caster, were not fazed by the little show that brunette Caster put on. Rather, the Blue Caster seemed like his suppositions had been confirmed. He even nodded. Which brought me to believe that those two have pre-existing knowledge of this event. And therefore, lent credibility to the claims.”
Blue Caster said, “Yeah. I was present in the Singularity that arose from the perversion of a Holy Grail War, and I can recall most of those memories. I saw firsthand that everything being displayed in those images are true. I was there the moment humanity was incinerated. It was an instant change from normalcy to ruin. This bunch are telling the truth.”
“As I thought,” nodded Assassin in response. “But even without that confirmation through a third party… I would still support this young Master.”
“Ara? I never took you as one for flights of fancy, Assassin. May I ask your reason,” inquired Caster mockingly.
“It is simple, really. Their claims are far too ridiculous to be false. It is simple to disprove them during the course of cooperation if they are indeed fictitious. A fact that they would well know. Plus, the fact that we are all summoned by that lad over there shows just how irregular the current situation is. While I can not affirm everything these people of Chaldea are claiming, I am willing to extend a bit of courtesy towards believing their claims. If it is the truth, I lose nothing. If it is a lie, I will unmask it and potentially gain everything. Therefore… there is no reason for me to not follow this Master. Indeed, self-interest demands that I do, Caster.”
“Even so… Expecting me to believe that such a thing has happened…” mumbled Caster.
“Then don’t believe it,” said Ritsuka, speaking for the first time since he’d entered the room. “I can barely believe it’s happening and I was there. We’re not asking you to believe us unconditionally, Caster. We’re just asking if you’re willing to help us, despite the circumstances. Honestly… it would be comforting to have a cynic around. So, Caster, would you be willing to cooperate with us?”
“…My aid would not be unconditional. I would need a lab, materials to experiment with, and freedom to conduct my own research. I may require other things in the future, but this is enough for now.”
“Da Vinci,” asked Ritsuka looking up at the genius inventor.
“The lab is easy enough. If there’s anything Chaldea has in abundance at the moment, it’s empty space. The personal effects of the previous occupants will need to be removed, however, but all of the summoned Servants will have their own quarters to do with as they please. As for materials, you’ll need to put in requests for them which I will personally look over before approving or denying. And you’ll need to submit reports on your intended research, results, and processes to me as well.”
“Ara? You think I would conduct something like dangerous research if left unattended? Do you really have so little trust for the Servant your Master summoned?”
“As if anyone would lightly trust the Witch of Betrayal,” said Archer. His first words of the meeting striking as precisely as one of his arrows. Caster grit her teeth and shouted, “You! How do you know that name!?”
Artoria intercepted the remark with her own comment.
“Even I possess some fragmented memories of that War, Witch. As well as some lingering hostility over the actions you took during that time…”
“Ah…” said Caster as though she’d touched upon a subject she’d have rather left untouched. Then, with an apologetic smile on her face, she spoke to Artoria in a light tone she probably would never have offered to Archer, “I’m sorry about that time, Saber. Everything is fair in love and war, right? Right? But there’s no war here, we’re already allies, and I have a proper Master, so there’s no need for me to do anything like that here. Right? So.. what do you say, Saber? Water under the bridge?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but you called Caster the Witch of Betrayal,” asked Ritsuka. Archer glowered while answering, not taking his eyes off of Caster.
“Her True Name is Medea, the Princess of Colchis who became Jason’s ally, aided his escape, and later betrayed him.”
Medea grit her teeth again and shouted, “How the hell do you remember so much, Archer!?”
“That’s not the point here, Witch,” said Archer coldly and dispassionately. “The point is that you are a deceptive creature of habit, and are not worthy of being trusted. Master, I suggest that we exile this woman immediately. Just forcing her to take a walk outside should do the trick.”
Medea stood up from her seat, which prompted Archer, the three Sabers, and Medusa to stand up with the intention of fighting. Power swirled around all of them as Ritsuka lightly said, “I don’t think that’s necessary, Archer. After all, Medea’s only betrayed people who deserved it.”
Every eye at the table locked onto Ritsuka. He continued as though the dangerous atmosphere was only as awkward as being called upon to answer a question in a classroom.
“The modern equivalent to Jason would be a con-man. He manipulated and used everyone to reach his goals. What Medea did to him, while being over the top, was pretty much the equivalent to what he’d done to her and other people. I consider Medea’s story to be one about poetic justice and one of the origins of the term ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’ serving as a cautionary tale to men about not abusing their wives. Or, at least, that’s how I look on the tale of Medea’s life. So, as long as we treat Medea with respect we should be fine. With that out of the way, could we all calm down a little?”
At Ritsuka’s request, the five Servants who had moved to fight Medea started to settle down and took their seats again somewhat reluctantly. Seeing that, Medea took her seat again with what seemed to Ritsuka as her feeling a somewhat mystified attitude. Once everyone was sitting, Ritsuka released the breath he’d been holding in a sigh of relief, and asked, “So, Medea. Da Vinci has already given you permission for a lab and research. Was there anything else you needed?”
“Alright. Then please treat me well, Medea. Oh, I hope you don’t mind my calling you Medea, since we already have three Casters in addition to our three Sabers,” remarked Ritsuka as an afterthought. Before Medea could give an answer, Assassin said, “Then please allow me to reintroduce myself. I have already given my name to Fujimaru-dono, but I am Sasaki Kojiro. I am but a humble Samurai, but I hope that we can get along.”
“Um, wait,” muttered Medea as she was getting swept up in the tide of events.
“Lancer, Cu Chulainn. You can call me Cu Lancer if it pleases you.”
“Caster, Cu Chulainn. Likewise, Cu Caster is fine.”
“Rider, Medusa… Please take good care of me.”
“M-Mash Kyrielight. Nice to meet you.”
“Saber, Artoria Pendragon.”
“Saber, Artoria Alter. Only my Master may use a nickname with me, unless you wish to lose your head.”
“Saber, Artoria Lily. While I am only a Knight in Training, I look forward to working alongside you all, Onii-sans, Onee-san.”
Medea chewed on the inside of her lip at Lily’s greeting, and then expressed a sigh as though she’d lost against some deep internal happiness, said, “I look forward to our time together as well. Please treat this Medea Onee-san well.”
“And you are,” asked Ritsuka innocently of the man at the far end of the table.
The blond haired man in the golden armor sat as straight as though he were sitting on a throne instead of an office chair, and had his arms crossed over the golden plate armor he wore. In a rather bored tone, he said, “Archer class Servant. Gilgamesh.”
“Oh, nice to meet you Gilgamesh,” said Ritsuka oblivious to the man’s legends and the frightened looks of the others around him. The reason everyone was able to be carefree before was that they’d forgotten the man’s presence in all the hubbub. “Have you decided whether or not to join us?”
Gilgamesh tilted his head, showing a bit of amusement for the first time and expressing a sadistic grin as he said, “I refuse.”
The Servants around Ritsuka grew tense, but Ritsuka decided he’d just try and act as though that tension wasn’t there. “Do you also not believe what we’ve said?”
“No. I’ve confirmed the accuracy of your claims while the rest of these mongrels were barking at each other. I understand that you’re telling the truth. It’s just that… I don’t care.”
“You don’t care about what, in particular,” asked Ritsuka.
“That Humanity has been incinerated. The fact that it has happened is proof that humans only amounted to so much. Therefore, there’s no reason for me to save them.”
Several people at the table bristled either in annoyance or begrudgingly accepting the man’s twisted logic. Ritsuka however, parsed what Gilgamesh said to the bare bones of the statement.
“So, you’re saying that if we humans remaining at Chaldea can prove we’re able to save Humanity, you’ll help us out at that time?”
Gilgamesh’s eyebrows lifted slightly as he spoke through his lopsided grin.
“Oh-ho. Quite the amusing thing the mongrel has said. I suppose if you’re able to prove your abilities I might somewhat consider sharing a fraction of my might. But is that really okay? Without my power you will very likely die like before being able to accomplish anything.”
“If that happens, then it can’t be helped,” said Ritsuka, who’d fully grasped the futility of his position as the only surviving Master of the world. “If that happens, then it just means I was only able to get that far. I intend to fight to the end, however, so if I happen to succeed, then I’ll be counting on you at that time.”
The golden armored man chuckled wordlessly. Ritsuka took that as a form of agreement with this guy. As though the thought had just struck him, Ritsuka asked, “What do you intend to do while I’m off saving the world, Gilgamesh?”
“Oh,” said Gilgamesh wonderingly. He tilted his head and became slightly introspective. “That is a good question. It might take years for you to earn the privilege of my aid, if at all. And there is only one place remaining in the world beyond the destruction of humanity. I see. Then, I will have you host my presence here, Mongrel. Be honored, for this king personally commands you accept his presence! Fufuhahahahaha!”
“Tsk. This guy is as unreasonable as always. Master, nothing good will come of having him here, please let me destroy him,” asked Artoria, an unusual amount of agitation present in her voice.
“I agree, Ritsuka,” said Altoria. At some point a metal eye mask had appeared on her face. “Please give instructions for us to dispose of this burnable garbage.”
“Oh,” called out the man in the golden armor. “Don’t worry. This great king has more than enough affection to go around. Indeed, this place had such a drawing card. Mmm, mmm. I suppose I am indeed lucky to have two arms, one for embracing each of you.”
Both Artoria and Alter stood up suddenly and shouted with their swords held high-
-came the desperate cry from every person in the room; except Gilgamesh who seemed perplexed that his compliment had been ill received. The Artorias grit their teeth, lowered their weapons, and sat down heavily even while glaring daggers at the irritating man at the end of the table.
“Was it something I said,” asked Gilgamesh innocently.
While everyone was catching their breath from having their lives flash before their eyes, Ritsuka said, “There should be no problem with your staying in Chaldea as a guest, since Da Vinci said we have an abundance of open space. But, Gilgamesh, may I ask for one thing while you stay with us?”
“Oh? I will allow you to ask, Mongrel, but know that your life hangs in the balance.”
“Since we will be treating you with the dignity of a guest, I ask that you treat us with the dignity of a host. While I haven’t had the opportunity of reading the Epic of Gilgamesh, I do know you’re a great king of the past. So I’m certain you can show the dignity and restraint of a king while we extend our courtesy to you. Is such an arrangement acceptable, Da Vinci?”
“Y-yes,” said Da Vinci pulling herself together for her role in walking the razor edge between living and dying. “We can provide a place for you to stay, though being a private security organization it’ll be a bit militaristic. We also don’t have the personnel to dedicate an attendant to you. If these conditions are acceptable, we’d love for you to be our guest.”
“Fufuhahahaha~! Clever, Mongrel! Very clever. Very well, I will submit myself to your care while I watch your pathetic attempts at fighting without me. Should I ever grow bored enough, I may decide to lend you some aid, but I will also refrain from causing you trouble while you struggle feebly. And since you have that pathetic excuse for an Archer beside you I will also grant you the honor of using my True Name. Confusing me with such vermin as that would be more than enough cause for your execution.”
Thinking that Gilgamesh enjoyed threatening people with death a little too often, Ritsuka asked, “He does have a point, Archer. Now that there are two Archers we need to be able to differentiate you by name.”
“…I cast my name away long ago. I am simply Archer now. If you have need of calling out to me, then Nameless is good enough.”
“That won’t do,” said Altoria sternly. “Calling you ‘Nameless’ is as insipid as continuing to call you ‘Archer.’ If you do not possess a name, then I shall bestow one upon you with my authority. In fact, I know the perfect name for you, since you remind me of a previous Master that was as distasteful as you. His name was Emiya-”
“Hey, Alt-” said Artoria trying to stop her Alter form in a hurry, while Archer looked like he was suffering from an extremely distasteful surprise.
“-Kiritsugu. Therefore, I suggest calling you by the code name of ‘Emiya.’”
Both Artoria and Archer were struck still and speechless in front of the lightly smirking Altoria. At the far end of the table however, laughter rang out.
“Fufuhahahaha! Yes, I see the similarities! They are both equally distasteful eyesores! Very well, this king will allow it! Be known as Emiya from this moment on! Fufuhahahahaha~!”
“Th-that’s-” stammered Archer in disbelief. He was cut off by Altoria who insistently said, “Archer. I suggest you accept this gift of a king. And be grateful for it.”
It was impossible to tell Altoria’s mood through the mask over her eyes, but Artoria looked like she was in disbelief that was sliding towards tenderness and Archer seemed like he was moving towards grateful acceptance. Ritsuka couldn’t help but wonder if there was something that happened that he couldn’t understand when Archer announced, “Very well. I will accept the proclamation of Gilgamesh, and henceforth, I will answer to the name… of Emiya.”
“Well, I’m glad that everything has been worked out,” said Da Vinci forcefully moving on to the next topic. “With your cooperation, Chaldea will be in a better state from here on. Like I said, we’ve been suffering from a lack of personnel, so I would like to take this opportunity to ask Medea and Cu Caster if you wouldn’t mind taking the occasional shift in our control room. It takes people with intelligence and focus to perform the tasks in there.”
“Hmm. I suppose I don’t mind,” said Medea.
“Should be fine, as long as I get paid for the work,” said Cu Caster.
“Excellent,” exclaimed Da Vinci as her expectations were fulfilled, “And Emiya, might I ask you to take over the kitchen?”
“Wait, how did that topic come around,” asked Emiya in a rush. Seemed he was also use to playing the straight man…
Da Vinci pretended to look troubled as she said, “Well, it can’t be helped. All the kitchen staff were on hand for the first mission passing out refreshments when the explosion occurred. The staff have been living off instant food since then. The morale of the staff has been plummeting recently, especially since you’ve been making meals for Ritsuka and Mash but everyone else is eating microwave and prepared meals of such low quality. Why, asking for you to take over the kitchens permanently was a unanimous request. The only reason we’ve held off on asking you was because you were the only Servant contracted with Ritsuka. But nooooow there are others who can fill that role!”
“You damn fox,” said Emiya in malice. “This was your plan from the beginning, in asking my Master to summon more Servants. Wasn’t it?”
“I dunno what you’re talking about,” denied Da Vinci unconvincingly.
“Well, I’m sorry, Da Vinci, but I’m busy training Ritsuka. There’s no way I can-”
“I will train him,” shouted Artoria, louder than she needed to. To Emiya’s shocked half-a-word response, she said, “I will take over the role of training our Master, which will free you up to take command of the kitchen, Emiya! I know first hand how important a delicious meal is to happiness!”
Was that a line of drool creeping from Artoria’s mouth? Ah, she wiped it off. Then she concluded with, “Or do you doubt my ability to train a Master?”
It seemed like a rather loaded question to Ritsuka, but he couldn’t see how. With half the table looking at Emiya in hopeful expectation, he finally dropped his shoulders and said, “Fine. I’ll take over the kitchen. But I’m the one in charge there! No interlopers are allowed without my permission!”
“Kitchen Hero, indeed,” muttered Cu Caster. “Seems it’s a fate he can’t escape from.”
“And with that out the way, let’s have Mash give everyone a tour of the facilities while the staff finish cleaning out the rooms you’ll all be using,” said Da Vinci brightly.
“What about the roles the other Servants will be filling,” demanded Archer.
“We can think about that later. It’s only two hours until dinner, Emiya. I suggest you hurry to the kitchen,” remarked Da Vinci offhandedly.
“You damn fox! I’ll remember this,” called Emiya as he hurried from the room. …The role was forced on him, but it seemed Emiya was going to be taking it rather seriously.
“Fufuhahahaha! It seems amusement can be found in this place after all!”
* * * * *
Dr. Romani burst into the control room with a pile of repair reports in his arms he hadn’t had the presence of mind to set down upon hearing the news. Instead, he’d rushed to the control room. Breathing hard to catch his breath, Dr. Romani shouted at the top of his lungs.
“Hey, everyone! Da Vinci succeeded! Archer has taken over the kitchen!”
The response was a collective shout of unbridled happiness.