Darkness on every side. An overbearing smell of stale water. This location was not a pleasant one to be in, but it was isolated, enclosed, and most importantly, easily defended. The person now hiding within it had probably not done so by accident. With that in mind, the underground storm drain may have been a trap. It couldn’t be determined just how many times the fleeing Master had been here previously. Nevertheless, the pursuing Master pressed onwards, intent on capturing her prey.
This circumstance had almost not eventuated in the first place. The female Master had identified her target earlier in the day as he purchased food and materials. She had been keeping close watch over the enemy magus, careful not to reveal herself to him in turn. It was expressly forbidden for magi to reveal themselves to the non-magic public, but a stealthy enough execution should have been able to do the job without attracting undue suspicion.
Admittedly, attempting to commit murder in broad daylight was a gutsy move, but given the unspoken rule frowning on daylight engagements, it was likely something that the other Masters would overlook. And it might have been successful, if not for the interruption of a random passer-by. Just as the female Master had been about to discreetly slip a curse of exsanguination onto her quarry’s neck, a stranger excitedly approached them, complementing the female Master’s stunning European looks and asking for a photograph. In the confusion, the male Master was alerted to her presence and disappeared into the crowd.
But it was clear that Master was merely an average magus. He was none too subtle about supressing his mana emissions and lacked the ability to blend in with a crowd. In desperation, he fled the streets and sought refuge inside one of the drainage pipes that emptied into the Mion River. The female Master was not far behind, her Servant at her side. In mere metres, the tunnel opened into a larger space filled with columns. In the past, it might have served as a catchment or a military hideout, but now it housed only a single man and his unknown Servant.
When the female Master arrived, the catchment was sparsely lit with magic. Standing in the centre of the room was not the male Master she had been pursuing, but a hooded figure. This must have been his Servant. The hooded Servant was slightly built, but not much else could be determined beneath their clothing. Ideally, the female Master would have conducted some research on her opponent before leading an attack, but with the male Master nowhere to found, she decided that this encounter would be acceptable. She directed her own Servant to engage.
Neither Servant drew a weapon. The hooded one stood rooted to the spot, twitching anxiously as if desperate to move. The other, appearing to be dressed in a black uniform like that of a student, walked cautiously into the catchment. He knew his own class, but was reluctant to reveal his powers to his opponent before they revealed theirs to him. The logical assumption to make would be that the hooded Servant was likely a Caster, or possibly an Archer, given their outfit, but something about the situation made the uniformed Servant dismiss that possibility.
And then the hooded Servant moved. Quickly. It was all the boy in the uniform could do to raise his arms up and block the devastating punch aimed at his head. The power behind it was absurd; even accounting for the disproportionate strength of a Servant body, there was no way a person of that stature should be able to deliver such a forceful blow. The two Servants made eye contact for a fraction of a second, and the uniformed Servant saw that, beneath the hood, the other Servant’s eyes were wide open and their mouth was contorted into a maniacal grin that revealed sharp incisors not unlike those of a vampire.
But the uniformed Servant didn’t have a chance to dwell on that. The punch drove right through his arm, shattering the bones inside it. The pain made him grimace, but he was used to such injuries. He instead took the chance to catch the offender’s arm with his other hand, twirling his body and kicking at the hooded Servant’s legs in attempt to throw them. He made solid contact, but that didn’t seem to matter for the hooded Servant. It was as if they had not been struck at all. Just how strong was this opponent?
The hooded Servant mimicked his attack, reversing the grip and performing their own kick. This attack struck the uniformed Servant’s face directly, smashing him through the air to collide with one of the many pillars in the catchment. Before he could even stand up, the hooded Servant was again on top of him, throwing blow after blow into his body, and howling in rage. A mere one in every four attacks were limply fended off. The beat down could only be described as brutal; it was as if a Servant was fighting a mere human.
The female Master began to worry. She had entered this fight confident of her Servant’s strength, but the hooded Servant was on another level entirely. How was this kind of power possible, especially from a Master with such meagre proficiency? It was almost difficult to watch her Servant be brutalised by this screaming, weaponless monster. Then it dawned on her: there was a Servant class that was granted additional strength in exchange for their sense and reason. That class was Berserker.
At that moment, Berserker delivered a devastating blow to the uniformed Servant. A punch to the head that struck with such force that it collapsed his skull and sent him bouncing along the floor. The uniformed Servant lay motionless, bleeding profusely. It was over. Berserker then turned towards the female Master, eyes glinting savagely. At speed, Berserker dashed towards her human prey, knocking her to the ground with a flying leap and, most disturbingly, taking a bite out of her shoulder.
The female Master screamed. This maddened Servant was eating her! Warm blood spilled out of her shirt and was lapped hungrily by the slight-statured-but-dangerous Berserker. The female Master looked desperately around for any assistance, despite knowing there would be none, when she saw a sight that brought her immense relief. Berserker, too absorbed in their pseudo-cannibalism, didn’t notice as the uniformed Servant, body visibly regenerating, ran up and kicked them off of his Master.
Berserker went flying, hitting the ground roughly and rolling to a stop several metres away. The uniformed Servant helped his Master to her feet and made for the entrance; it was time for them to leave. But Berserker wasn’t done yet. Berserker stood, somewhat disrobed from rolling along the ground and twitching uncontrollably. It was then that the uniformed Servant and his Master saw for the first time what they had been fighting: a woman, seemingly no older than her teens, whose head was adorned with what appeared to be animal ears.
Berserker sprung towards the pair, slender body belying her brute strength. The uniformed Servant pushed his Master into the drainage tunnel, out of harm’s way, to take Berserker’s attack himself. The female Master watched helplessly as Berserker’s hand rent her Servant’s body in two. An ear-splitting howl of pain erupted through the catchment. Except, it didn’t come from the uniformed Servant. Rather, it was Berserker who screamed, bent over on the ground, clutching the stump where her left hand used to be.
The uniformed Servant stood in place, flesh rapidly healing the gaping wound made in his stomach. For the briefest of seconds, the female Master glimpsed a shining metal blade embedded inside her Servant’s body. Then, before Berserker had a chance to strike back, the Servant who had cleverly disguised his Saber designation picked up his wounded Master and fled the underground, leaving a bloody trail in their wake.
* * *
What madness. That was the thought that ran through the mind of the mysterious man hidden on a catwalk near the top of the catchment. A Saber who fought without his sword and an animalistic Berserker made in the image of a little girl. It was lucky that the Saber possessed such powerful regenerative abilities or one of the Holy Grail War’s teams might have been eliminated on only the second night. Nevertheless, the mysterious figure had done his job. He waited for both Saber’s and Berserker’s parties to vacate the catchment, then vacated it himself.
Fate/Cross features elements originating from Fate/Stay Night by Type-Moon.