Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandom: Fate/Grand Order
Pairing(s): Siegfried x Karna
Genres: fanfiction, fluff, humor, genderbent
Characters: Siegfried, Karna, Arjuna, Jing Ke, original characters
“Key words: ‘you think’, Archer. Nausea isn’t equivalence of morning sickness.”
Rhys once had a dream that went like this: for some reason unknown, he was confined in a large room with two other people whose faces he had mostly forgotten. There was nothing else in that sterile-white room beside them three, no furniture, no window, no door, no clock. Certainly no bathroom but let’s leave it at that. Time stretched indefinitely, and they had no other things to do than staring at one another until Rhys could take it no more and screamed at the top of his lungs: “Hell is other people!!!”
Being a person who didn’t believe in dreams bearing any messages from the unconscious, Rhys quickly dismissed it as a result of eating a bit too much chocolate before bed. Never had he thought such absurd dream would manifest in reality.
At the moment, he was sitting across from two other people with nothing better to do than staring at them. The differences were those two weren’t strangers but rather two Servants contracted to him and although the three of them didn’t have much to converse in the past hour, Rhys didn’t strongly feel the urge to scream like he had done in his dream. Siegfried and Karna were easily two of the most pleasant Servants in Chaldea, and screaming at them was the last thing any Master with a sane mind would do. That wasn’t saying tension born from a sense of helplessness and being stuck in a place for an unknown period was not gradually building in the atmosphere and threatening to tip over at some point if they didn’t do anything about it.
But what could they do exactly?
One of his Servants had been met with an unfortunate turn of event and now the other Servant was trying to wordlessly soothe ‘her’ mute anxiety with little dedicate gestures. A light squeeze on the shoulder or lacing their fingers, such gestures occasionally got in the periphery of Rhys’s eyes even though he didn’t mean to be privy and tinged the heart of the twenty-six-year-old single Master. Rhys sighed inwardly, trying not to let it shown that he was just a little envious of his Servants. Of course he was happy for them in general; it was just normal reaction of a single person in witness of loving couples. How he wished to have someone to look at him the way Siegfried did his ‘sun’ (had accidentally eavesdropped on them), but no, the world needed to be saved and humanity restored before a man could find a girlfriend, or boyfriend – he wasn’t picky about genders.
But before he found his significant other, Rhys had to find a way to charge his communication device, which had died midway in his consultation with the King of Heroes. Being a thorough Master, he had prepared a portable charger just in case; however, that charger, which mainly converted solar energy into electricity, was most suitable for newer generations of communication device, designed strictly in accordance with the ‘living green’ motto. Unfortunately, his current device happened to be pretty outdated and thus incompatible with the charger. So, at the moment, Rhys was having a dead communication device and charger which couldn’t be used, and an escalating anxiety. They had yet to find and retrieve the Grail and Rhys knew the longer the Grail stayed in this Singularity, the bigger the ticking bomb it became before it blew all their butts up. He wondered if Karna’s peculiar condition had anything to do with the Grail’s presence; if that was the case, getting the Grail would be a sure-win solution. He just needed to consult with the trusted, informative and reliable Da Vinci first.
“Guys, I’m afraid we’ll have to camp here tonight,” Rhys said, gawking at the red and blue lines of his communication device with a mini screwdriver in his hand. “Meaning we’ll have to build a fire because the temperature may have a drastic drop. Siegfried, would you mind gathering some woods while I’m testing my luck and trying to alter this Stone-Age device so that it may adapt to modern technology? And probably catching a chicken or quail too while you’re at it?”
Siegfried and Karna exchanged a look before the Saber spoke, “Master, may I say something?”
Rhys frowned. “Didn’t I tell you to drop that unnecessary formality centuries ago? I don’t know if any of your previous Masters has done that but with me, you speak whatever you want, whenever you want. Got it?”
Rhys didn’t realize he was raising his voice a pitch higher than usual – probably due to the tension which had been building thus far, and he sounded like he was angry at his Servant. As a result, Siegfried was quick to do what he always did: apologizing. “Sumanai, Master. But I think we should heed the King of Heroes’ advice. I will be the one to test the waters.”
“No, no, no, no sir, Mister,” Rhys exclaimed, startling both of his Servants. “Gilgamesh can go plunge into those pools himself for all I care but you’re not doing it. I repeat, we are not doing it.”
Karna’s expression spelled relief. It appeared this was what they had been whispering to each other about.
“We don’t have other choices but to try, Master.”
“I admire your heroic self-sacrifice but not this time, Siegfried. Who knows what these waters could turn you into, a woman, a boar or a panda or all three combined, so no way Jose. I’m going to contact Da Vinci and we’ll work it out.”
Siegfried looked like he was about to protest but Karna tugged his forearm and he kept his lips tight, albeit not without a wee bit of resistance. The gesture didn’t go unseen in Rhys’s eyes. Now that’s how you tame a dragon, he thought with amusement.
“Yes, Master,” Siegfried said with a certain amount of resignation, bowing. “I’ll go and gather some woods.”
The silence soon came back after Siegfried’s leave. Karna was a man of few words, so he just stayed on his spot, legs crossed, hands on his knees and appeared to have entered a mediating state while sun rays spilled on his shoulders, polishing his armor to perfection and the winds teased his spiky-looking hair every now and then. Sitting there, he seemed to become one with nature and yet somehow still starkly stood out. His pose intrigued Rhys, who had heard about all the yoga stuff but had never tried it; however, not wishing to disturb his Servant’s meditation, he steered his attention to the red and blue lines that were testing his A grade with electronic devices back to his training days in Master 101.
A spark of electricity caused by touching the wrong line broke the comfortable silence between Master and Servant. It was by no means dangerous but it did alert Karna, who immediately snapped his eyes open and did a Godspeed scan of their surroundings for any potential threats. Finding none, he turned to his Master, “Are you alright?”
It took Rhys more than a second to realize Karna was speaking to him since his voice had been significantly altered – higher, softer and very feminine; only the coolness in his tongue remained unchanged. “Yeah, I’m fine,” Rhys said, “just got a minor electric shock, though. The problem’s I’m not getting anywhere with this. This thing’s too ancient to be brought out to light, let alone use. If only Tesla or Edison were here, well, not both of them at a time.”
“Sorry that I am of no help.”
Rhys sighed. Someone had been spending too much time with a certain Dragon Slayer and thus got contracted with his apology disease.
“Why are you apologizing when you’re not at fault? You were a great hero, not someone with a degree in electronics. Besides, I like going on missions with you two. Can’t ask for better teammates.”
“Master… thank you,” Karna muttered, a blush dusting his cheeks and neck, made all the more eye-catching given his marmoreal skin. His winter-blue eyes glistened.
Karna’s expression was just too much for Rhys’s weak heart, so he quickly changed the subject. “Come to think of it, we’ve Rayshifted to the time when this device was manufactured. If only we could find a conventional outlet then we’d be blessed.”
“Should we go explore the land to see if we could find a town or village?”
“When Siegfried returns we will discuss it, but for tonight, camping here is inevitable, as going around at night doesn’t look like a great idea.”
Karna nodded in agreement.
“Does it… pose any inconvenience?”
Karna slightly arched an eyebrow.
“I mean… all of these changes,” Rhys clarified.
“If it’s my fighting capability then I assure you, Master, I’m at my full strength and ready for battles.”
“Yeah, your stats remain the same but what concerns me is whether this state inconveniences you.”
As soon as the words passed his lips Rhys realized how redundant it was to ask such a question. If he were in Karna’s shoe, inconvenience was the least he could think of.
“It feels strange,” Karna said, “like this body is mine and I have full control of it yet at the same time, I feel as if I was walking in someone else’s skin.”
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
“It may take a while for me to get used to it.”
“Don’t say it like you’re gonna be like this forever,” Rhys chastised, not harshly. “We’ll figure out a way to return you to normal. Da Vinci’s aid or no, we’re going to find the Grail. Since the Grail is basically a magnet for bizarre phenomena, I bet we shouldn’t be too far from it. When Siegfried returns we’ll discuss our next move. Oh, speaking of the devil. You’re quick, Siegfried. Eh?”
Rhys spotted the Saber’s tall figure, carrying a bunch of chopped logs under his arm, from afar. Some tree must have fallen to the brutal blade of Balmung. As he approached, it became clearer that he wasn’t alone. Something big was looming behind him.
Rhys’s first thought was his eyes playing tricks on him. He rubbed his eyes with such haste he saw red for a second. Still, what he saw remained the same, proving that it wasn’t some weird illusion.
“Am I seeing a panda behind Siegfried?” he asked Karna.
The Lancer’s tone implied that he was no less perplexed than Rhys. “Yes, I believe that is a panda we’re seeing.”
It wasn’t just a regular panda, though (seeing a regular panda here was strange enough). It was a panda in human outfit comprised of an oversized brown jacket and khaki pants and wearing a beret and a rucksack on its back. Rhys would be sure he was on drugs (even though he never did drugs) if Karna was not also seeing it.
Had Dr. Romani messed up the coordinates somehow and instead of landing in their destination, the three of them had unknowingly entered Wonderland? Rhys wouldn’t be too surprised now if a white rabbit holding a pocket watch sprung out from nowhere and ran off in a hurry.
“We’re not going to have a panda for dinner if that’s what you intended,” Rhys blurted. “Pandas are endangered species; besides they’re mostly fat—”
“Hey, I’m not following big guy here to be eaten alright.”
A male voice.
Rhys’s eyes swept over Karna and then Siegfried, and finally stopped at their new ‘friend’, staring so hard he might be digging an imaginary hole. “Did it… Did the panda just speak?”
Karna’s eyebrows struggled to not shoot up his forehead and his mouth not quiver when he replied, “It did.”
If a panda’s face were as expressive as a human’s, Rhys imagined it would wear an annoyed expression with eyebrows knitted and mouth pressed. There was something oddly human in the way it stood straight and firm on two hind-legs and crossed its front legs.
Siegfried cleared his throat. “Master, Mr. Shou here is not a panda. He’s a human, and originally looked one until an incident.” A short pause. “I have ground reason to believe his condition is quite similar to Karna’s.”
To be continued