Fuyuki City, 1994
The Following Night
The location for the meeting was an abandoned multi-storey carpark on the outskirts of Fuyuki, in the middle of the night. Shivering, Lucy cursed Shepard for choosing such a late hour, but realized her current predicament probably wasn't helped by the fact that she was still wearing her skirt. She had, though, to her credit, swapped her jacket for a thick black hoodie, which was probably a few sizes too big for her by virtue of being Shepard's. He didn't appear to mind.
"I'll warn you in advance." said Shepard, turning to Lucy. "This guy's... tricky
. He's the trickiest person I know. He's somewhere between a mortal enemy, and a lifelong friend... so don't trust anything he says. And don't believe for a second that he won't betray us given the opportunity. With that said... we do need to work with him to have any chance of winning this war."
"How'd you know him?"
"He's an old classmate. From the Clock Tower." replied Shepard, turning his eyes to the length of the car park before them. "It's a school, for mages." he added, after realizing that Lucy probably had no idea what the Clock Tower was. The sound of footsteps coming from the length of the car park before them announced the arrival of the person they were here to meet. A slender figure emerged from the shadows, possessing an elegant appearance that resisted any traditional form of gendering, clearly marking them as a homunculus. They were dressed in a dark green snakeskin suit over a black shirt, unbuttoned to the center of their chest. Their skin was pale - nearly white, as was their long hair which reached to the middle of their back. Two pointed, Elf-like ears poked out from the sides of the homunculus's hair. They possessed an androgynous beauty, looking something like a young Bjorn Andresen, though with an unearthly appearance generated, in part, by a pair of crisp, cherry-red eyes. The homunculus came to a few meters before Shepard and Lucy, before offering a slight bow, a sly smirk on their thin lips all the while.
"It's been too long... brother."
Lucy raised an eyebrow. "Wait, this guy's your-?"
"No." Interrupted Shepard. "Well, Yes." he added, sighing. "My younger broth-"
" corrected Mal, flicking him on the end of the nose playfully. "And, whilst terms like 'brother' may have held some relevance in our childhood, in my present state I am well above such classifications." they added, folding their arms. "Still going by that dreadful sobriquet, are we, 'Shepard'
? You may not have inherited the family's magic crest, but that doesn't mean you have to abandon the family name."
doesn't have much of a ring to it."
Mal turned to Lucy. "And, seeing as you are as far removed from old Shep-Shep's taste in women as one could possibly imagine, I can only assume that you're his Servant - Saber, is it?"
"Actually, it's Lucy." She replied, grinning. This stopped shortly after Shepard elbowed her in the ribs. "Hey!" she replied, elbowing him in the ribs in return. "You said we have to cooperate with him, so it's a bit shitty for me to go and hide my identity."
Mal chuckled. "Well, she's certainly a character."
"And, as for your Servant? Did you summon Veras?" Asked Shepard, hurriedly drawing and lighting a cigarette. It was quickly snatched out of his hand by Lucy, so he proceeded to draw and light a second.
"I summoned Caster." replied Mal, scowling at the cigarettes. "But not Veras."
At that, Caster materialized beside Mal. She was a young woman, slightly taller and older than Lucy, and possessed of extraordinary beauty, though with a dark, seductive demeanour. Her thick ginger hair was pulled into a lofty ponytail behind her head, though a length of it hung loose along the left side of her face, trailing to her collarbone. Her fierce red eyes stood out against a backdrop of heavy black eyeshadow, and her lips were covered in a glossy, dark red lipstick, and pushed together in a small, wry smile. She wore a pair of thin-rimmed glasses, which she pushed up with her middle finger, her eyes focused on Lucy all the while. Blushing nervously, Lucy turned her face away, frowning. Caster wore a slim-fitting red turtleneck, which served to highlight her curvaceous figure, under a hooded black leather jacket, which came down to the base of her ribcage. She also wore a tight-fitting black leather miniskirt over a pair of black tights, and knee-high black boots.
"Rejoice." she said, her deep, husky voice as sultry as her appearance suggested. "You have the honor of addressing Lady Cassandra Thorne, the Red Queen of Malchior IV."
"Caster-!" Interjected Mal, annoyed at her revealing her identity. Cassandra raised a hand to silence her Master.
"Lucy revealed her identity, so it's only fair that I reveal mine. Especially if we're going to be working together."
"I like this girl!" said Lucy, reaching into Shepard's breast pocket for another cigarette. He batted her hands away, and reluctantly gave her his to finish off.
"So, what information have you gathered?" asked Mal, expectantly.
"Lancer's identity is that of Cassius Calm, the warrior monk." replied Shepard. "He possesses the Noble Phantasm, Noble Eightfold Path. It's an incredibly powerful, close-range, explosive Noble Phantasm - my ship was merely caught in the backblast of the attack, and was completely destroyed. I'm not sure about the exact workings of it, but it'd be wise to keep your distance from him."
"And his Master?"
Shepard shook his head. "He didn't reveal himself. However, we were also attacked by another Servant last night. I don't know who they were, but they were able to use a cruise missile to attack us. Either that, or the JSDF is practicing by taking pot-shots at random civillian vessels."
"It could have been fired by a Master. Or... someone allied with one." said Cassandra.
"No." replied Lucy, shaking her head. "Cassius warned me about the risk of shrapnel damage. A normal weapon - even a cruise missile - can't cause serious damage to a Heroic Spirit. Only a Noble Phantasm can do that."
"So, how many other masters have you located?" asked Shepard, sliding his hands into the pockets of his thick winter coat. Mal reached into their blazer, retrieving three photographs and handing them to Shepard. The first was taken in a hotel restaurant; a severe-looking silver-haired man - perhaps fifty or sixty years of age - was reading a newspaper.
"Only one. David Robert Jones.
" said Mal, folding their arms. "A mysterious politician who flew in from Belgium a few nights ago. I couldn't find any real information on him - he's held a few minor government roles over the years - but no family, or even a date of birth. I'm not even sure if he's Belgian or not."
"And you missed the fact that he's using a fake name?" Replied Lucy, folding her arms.
"David Robert Jones.
It's David Bowie's real name." Replied Lucy. Mal turned away, annoyed at the exposure of their oversight. Shepard almost looked impressed. Almost.
"How'd you know that?"
"I once dated a guy who looked a lot like David Bowie. And by that, I mean that I was fairly sure he actually was
David Bowie at quite a few points during our relationship." she said, shrugging. "But he was cute as fuck and the sex was great, so who cares?"
"...Too much information." Replied Shepard and Mal, simultaneously.
"Actually, I could stand to hear a little more." Replied Cassandra, raising an eyebrow.
"This is neither the time, nor the place." Interrupted Shepard, looking at the second photo. His eyes widened. "Wait, is this... Bill Clinton?"
Mal nodded. The photo was of a white house dinner; the man seated across from President Clinton was undoubtedly the same man from the preceeding photo. "Our Belgian friend isn't just some low-ranking government official, it seems. And if you think that's shocking," said Mal, "then wait until you see the next photo."
Shepard hurriedly slid the last photo out from underneath the others. Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw; The photograph was in black and white, and taken in the streets of some war-torn African town, perhaps in the early 1950s. A group of guerilla warriors, wearing armbands, stood around a group of captured prisoners, rifles trained on them. Their leader, wearing a beret, was holding a flag to the photographer; Shepard could make out the words "Mujahadeen" and "Revolution" written in Arabic around the outline of the African continent. However, the most disturbing part of the photograph was a man located in the edge of the image - observing the entire affair from the passenger seat of an open-top Jeep. Though he was wearing thick sunglasses, his appearance, and smirk, was unmistakeable.
"Then... either one of Mr. Jones's ancestors was involved in a Millitant Coup in Africa..." said Shepard, his hands shaking.
"...Or one of the Masters of this Holy Grail War... is a Vampire.
" finished Mal, smiling. "And, seeing as my Servant is a Blood Mage, you and Saber will have to take him out."
Lucy frowned. "Oh, I'm sorry? Do I have 'Fuyuki City Trash Removal' written on my shirt somewhere? You can't just unload all the teams that are remotely difficult onto us, Mal."
"I'll take you somewhere nice to make up for it." replied Cassandra, winking. Lucy blushed, and looked away.
"I... I don't swing that way, scrub. And even if I did
, I'm not so unscrupulous that you could bribe me to do your dirty work with sex."
Lucy sighed. "Okay, you got me there."
Shepard grumbled, eager to turn the conversation back to something purposeful. "Where's he staying?"
"The Tom Johnson Hotel, in Room 108." replied Mal, turning to leave. "Make sure not to cause a scene. Caster and I will... look for the other Masters in the meantime."
"Very well." said Shepard, pocketing the photographs. "I... Stay safe, Mal."
"You too, brother." replied Mal, walking away into the shadows. "You too."