PDA

View Full Version : CODE GEASS: Dirge of Daedalus (edited version)



Kodai Okuda
09-03-2010, 05:02 AM
http://i436.photobucket.com/albums/qq83/oldschoolanime/titlepagecovercopy.jpg

The Code Geass fan fiction trilogy:
PART 1: Dirge of Deadalus
PART 2: Chronicles of Tartarus
PART 3: Alpha and Omega

Kodai Okuda
09-09-2010, 02:51 AM
Turn One: Sakuradite

40“To deny the existence of Yang and Yin is to deny that there is day and night, light and darkness, good and evil. Within Yang there is Yin and within Yin there is Yang, just as in light there are shadows of darkness and in darkness there are pinpricks of light. Such was the plight that Lelouch left the world in with his last evil, a state of perpetual peace that placed the world in Yang and smothered all but a few vestiges of Yin, which threw the Chi of the world out of balance. A wise man once said: nature abhors a vacuum. Pity we didn’t realize that before Lelouch made his sacrifice.” —Excerpt from the journal of UFN Japanese Ambassador Kaguya Sumeragi, dated November 26th, 2024 a.t.b.

40The large, oval, snowboard-shaped superstructure of the former aerial-battleship Thor threw the shadow of its massive bulk over the southern seas of the Atlantic as she sped along her course. Her float-system engines hummed rhythmically as the sun glinted off her metallic hull. Originally commissioned under the orders of the 98th Emperor of Britannia, Charles zi Britannia, the Thor was larger than any other airship before it. The completion of this airship was done by the order of Empress Nunnally vi Britannia in 2021 a.t.b. However, the craft’s role as an aerial-battleship was over before she ever set aloft into the blue skies of the world. Her three FLEIJA launchers were removed, leaving only her basic conventional armaments in place for defense against pirates and terrorists, a problem that had slowly grown in the wake of the catastrophic wars of the Britannian Imperial Era. Although still a formidable warship, the Thor's new mission was one of peace and scientific exploration of planet Earth; the airship was now a massive aerial research vessel.
40On the aft engineering structure, which hung from midway along the ventral hull of the rear of the great vessel, was an observation promenade complete with railing and a staircase leading back up into the ship.
40Leaning on the railing of the promenade was a fiery-red-haired woman in the black and gray military uniform of the elite Black Knight unit the Yamato no Orochi. Her long, braided hair hung over her left shoulder and swayed slightly in the wind as it whipped up off the surface of the ocean below. Her blue eyes gazed at the deep-blue, cold waters as she pondered private thoughts known only to her.
40“Hey, Kallen!” a tall, blue-eyed man called to her as he walked down the stairs.
40His blond hair gave him away instantly. “Hi, Gino.”
40“Hi.” Lt. Commander Weinberg leaned over and smiled. “There’s that look again.”
40“What look?” Captain Kozuki straightened up and sneered.
40“You know what look.” He leaned on the railing and looked towards the horizon. “That whole, Could I have saved him? look you have.”
40“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She folded her arms and turned away so he wouldn’t see the sadness in her eyes. “Besides, that was six years ago, and he’s dead now, so it doesn’t matter anymore.”
40“I know that,” Gino said softly, “but that doesn’t mean you’ve let go.”
40“How can I?” Kallen turned to let the wind of the sea dry her eyes, which threatened to tear.
40Gino lightly touched her shoulder. “We’ve all made mistakes, Kallen. Isn’t it time you forgave him and moved on?”
40“I forgave him already, nearly six years ago.” She didn’t look at him. “But with all that’s happened since he left us…” Kallen brushed off Gino’s hand. “It isn’t him I can’t forgive, Gino.” Her voice was a whisper. “It’s us…me, Ohgi, Tamaki, and the others. We betrayed him.”
40At this moment, she didn’t sound like Captain Kozuki of the Yamato no Orochi that he had come to know and trust, and that bothered Gino. “He deceived and betrayed the world, Kallen, and killed countless people; he would have even killed you if Zero hadn't stopped him. You should know better than most what kind of person he became, so you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. What would Ohgi think?"
40"You really wanna know what Ohgi thinks?" Kallen gave him a false smile. "On the one year anniversary of the Death of the Demon Emperor, there was a televised broadcast of how Zero, the hero of the people, slew the 99th Emperor of Britannia and saved the world. Ohgi left the room when he saw the rebroadcast of Zero stab Lelou—the Emperor." Kallen stared off into the distance as she recanted the scene. "I had gone to visit Villetta, Ohgi, and their infant child, since I was hardly ever able to make it over there anymore with all my school work and continued military training at that time. I thought it would be nice to take the opportunity to see them during the international holiday. We were having evening tea when the broadcast came on the television. Ohgi just got up without a word and went outside. I followed Ohgi out to the front of their house, where I saw him weeping softly for a moment before he recomposed himself. He's never felt right about what we did to Zero when we chose to ally with Schneizel. Tamaki is not any better either. He won't talk about it unless he's stone drunk, and then all he does is cry about how we wronged Zero. All of us that were close to Zero, the real Zero, carry the shame of what we did to him, Gino. I know I feel like if I had talked to Lulu instead of just following him like a lost puppy with a new master, then maybe I could have stopped his Requiem; maybe we could've found a different path to peace, and then maybe he'd still be alive today."
40Gino felt foolish. "I'm sorry, Kallen. I shouldn't have brought it up. I just thought that after all this time your feelings might have changed." The only thing that stood in the way of Kallen going from just being his best friend and comrade to something more was the lingering shadow of Lelouch.
40Kallen gave him a warm smile. "It’s okay, Gino, don't worry about it. It's just this cool, crisp air; it brings back memories of Japan and the Battle of Narita and how Zero led us to victory there and so many other times afterwards."
40"Speaking of frigid mountain conditions," Gino said, anxious to change the subject, "what do you think about this mission?"
40"What? Do you mean going to Antarctica to babysit some geophysicists, archaeologists, and other science personnel just to find that huge sakuradite deposit that the global FLEIJA detection security satellites picked up near the central mountain range of that continent of ice?" Kallen put on a genuine smile and rolled her eyes. "I think it’s BORR-ING."
40"Well, at least we'll see some penguins," Gino laughed.
40"Why couldn't we get assigned to South America?" Captain Kozuki said as she lay back on the railing with her arms.
40"You want a rematch with Generalissimo Ceasaro's mercenaries, don't you?" he snickered.
40"Yeah, why not?" Kallen squinted her eyes at him. "Isn't our job to put down the buildup of internal armed forces?"
40"Yes, but it's not like we can just waltz in there with our KnightMares and take them prisoner. Those forces are the remnants of the old Imperial Britannian Army and will put up one hell of a fight, which could in turn spark a war in the region." Gino leaned against the railing beside her. "They don't recognize UFN authority. Not to mention that Cornelia is leading them."
40Kallen sighed, "Poor Nunnally. She's lost her whole family either by death or desertion. I can't believe Cornelia renounced her father's name and took up her mother's maiden family name as her own: Cornelia Ceasaro."
40"I can't really say I blame her." Gino turned to face Kallen with a devilish grin. "It's not like Cornelia gets along with Schneizel or trusts Nunnally. Look at it from her viewpoint."
40"Are you serious, or are you just picking on me?" Kallen asked. "You know as well as I do, Gino, that Cornelia and Guilford both left Britannia as soon as they were able to do so. They grabbed what they could in weapons and equipment and then left with as many people as would follow them down to Brazil."
40"I might be picking on you a little," he smirked. "I wouldn't want you to think I've given up on you."
40Kallen blushed, "Commander Weinberg!"
40Gino laughed and then became serious all of a sudden. "Hey, is it true that Nina Einstein left with them?"
40"That's what the intel says; her, Lloyd Asplund, and Cecile Croomy too." Kallen turned to look at the sunlight reflecting off the waves beyond the shadow of the ship. "I can only imagine what they’re doing for Cornelia down there."
40"You think they'd build a FLEIJA after everything that's happened?" Gino inquired, anxious to know her opinion.
40"No," Kallen was firm, "I don't think they would. But I do think that they'd build conventional weaponry like KnightMare Frames and such. That's more Cornelia's style."
40"Hey, you two!" a young, female voice called out from the top of the stairwell that led down to the promenade.
40"Hi, Anya." Gino waved at her to come down and join them.
40First Lieutenant Anya Alstreim wore the same uniform as Kallen and Gino. In her arms the girl carried a tray which had three cups of hot tea on it. "I thought you might like something to keep you warm out here."
40"Thank you, Anya," Gino said as he took a cup.
40Kallen took the second mug. "So, what do you think of this crisp Antarctic air, Anya? I'll bet it's a big change from the orange orchard farm you and Jeremiah were on."
40"Yes, it is," Anya replied in her usual monotone voice. "But it's a nice change," she smiled.
40"I'm still surprised Jeremiah let you become a KnightMare pilot again," Kallen said.
40"Well, I wasn't happy on the farm," Anya stated. "It got too boring for me, and I was already a good Devicer, so I thought that I'd join the Black Knights after the UFN reformed them in 2020 a.t.b."
40"I'm glad you did," Gino said with a smile. "It's nice to have an old friend on the team besides Kallen; at least you’re better company."
40"What's that supposed to mean?" Kallen put her free hand on her hip and scowled at Gino.
40"Just that Anya is better company than some people on this ship, that's all," Gino teased.
40"Would you two like to be alone?" Anya inquired with a blank expression.
40Kallen turned beet red. "What?...No...It's alright, Lt. Alstreim, you can stay."
40"Aw, c'mon, Kallen, don't you value our private time together?" Gino taunted her with a wink.
40Kallen furrowed her brow. "Commander Weinberg, how many times do I have to tell you..." The ship's intercom interrupted Captain Kozuki before she could finish.
40"Attention!" the voice of Chancellor Schneizel Britannia's chief yeoman, Kannon, boomed over the speakers. "All members of the Black Knights are to report to the flight deck for a preliminary operations briefing immediately. We are currently less than three hours from our destination point. That is all."
40"Saved by the bell," Cmdr. Weinberg laughed as he made his way up the stairs, empty tea cup in hand.
40Anya turned and started up the stairs.
40"Hey, wait for me!" Kallen chugged her mug of tea and choked down the hot liquid as she hurried to follow behind Gino and Anya.


* * *

40"Do you think it was wise to send Schneizel in charge of this mission, Empress Nunnally?" Suzaku asked.
40"I do," she said as she stared out the window, standing on her cybernetic-enhanced legs. World medical technology had advanced quickly during the years after her reign began; it had to in order to deal with all of the misery and suffering of those that were maimed and disfigured during the war her brother had waged.
40"I should have gone with them," Kururugi said as he came to stand beside her, the mask of Zero resting under his arm.
40"No," she cut him off. "I need Zero in Japan with me for the upcoming UFN summit." Her tone was cold towards him. Nunnally had learned that Zero, the new Zero, was Suzaku on that horrid day when she held her dying brother in her arms. Empress Nunnally didn't hate Suzaku for what he did, but it didn't change the lingering feeling of antipathy for him that festered in her heart no matter how badly she tried to forgive Suzaku.
40Suzaku had been reluctant to expose his identity to Nunnally at first but later realized that lying to her was equally despicable and pointless. He made up his mind to confide his true identity to her and only her.
40"Are you afraid of being assassinated? Is that why you want Zero there by your side?" He knew it was a foolish question as soon as it left his lips.
40"Of course I am." Nunnally didn't look at him. Her eyes were on the replica of the garden that mimicked the one her mother Marianne's estate used to have. The lush, floral greenery adorned the west side of New-Brunswick Castle in the center of Neo-Pendragon, a city built around the crater-lake that once was the original metropolis built by her father.
40"The hatred of the world rests upon me for the actions of my family," she told him flatly. "Why wouldn't assassins be there to take my life?"
40"I don't think the world hates you, Nunnally," Suzaku ventured to say. "Much of the world is still focused on reconstruction and rebuilding. Only a few remnants of war remain, and we may be able to bring those elements to the bargaining table to bring about total peace. Doesn't that make you happy?"
40"NO!" she snapped at him, though she continued to look at the blooming flowers of the garden below. "There was only one thing that brought me happiness in this world, and you took that from me."
40Suzaku flinched as though she had run him through with a sword. He and his conspirator hadn't considered Nunnally's feelings about their plan, the Zero Requiem. They had been teenagers back then, childish and impulsive in their decisions.
40"It's what he wanted." Suzaku had been through this with her before but not at this level of intensity. Something was wrong, and it was deeper than just the emotional ache in her bosom.
40"I know, Suzaku." Nunnally turned to face him; tears welled in her eyes. "And it was all for nothing. Even now the countries of the world conspire against each other for resources and power. Humans aren't pieces on a chessboard. They have feelings and desires, vices and shortcomings that you two either chose to ignore or failed to take into account in your grand scheme!"
40Kururugi tried to ignore the verbal blows as they slashed at his emotions; he knew she was right. "Do you believe this new sakuradite deposit will start another war?"
40"Yes, I do." Nunnally hobbled over to where her float chair hovered silently above the floor of her study-chambers. Even though the cybernetic enhancements allowed her to walk, she had yet to master their operation and still had some difficulty getting around.
40"And FLEIJA will rear her ugly head yet again," she said as she sat down.
40Suzaku was stunned by her suggestion. "Do you think Cornelia will develop a FLEIJA weapon?"
40"No, my sister is an honorable woman. She would never use such a weapon." Nunnally sank into the cushions of her chair and threw her head back. "But I'm not so sure about the Black Knight's Pacific commander, Brigadier General Kyoshiro Tohdoh, and his right hand, the Black Knight's Asiatic commander, Major General Li Xingke. They've both become hungry for power."
40Kururugi stood before her and looked directly at Nunnally. "Empress, are you implying that you believe the UFN has become corrupt so soon?"
40"I do," she said to him without flinching.
40"What about your friends Kaguya Sumeragi and the Tianzi, Jiang Lihua?" Suzaku questioned her with a scowl. "You can't possibly think that they have become corrupt, can you, Your Majesty?"
40Nunnally tittered, "Of course not, Suzaku. Kaguya and Jiang are both very forgiving and understanding women. Besides the fact that we three are nearly the same age, we all share the heartache and disappointment that the men around us have wrought. It's those shared emotions that actually started to bind us together like sisters when we met during the first UFN global summit one year after I became empress. After that, we three have forged a strong friendship amongst ourselves."
40Suzaku shrugged. "I hadn't realized you three were so close. I thought that my cousin Kaguya would actually be rather cold towards you, considering your pedigree, milady."
40Nunnally held back a laugh. "She was at first, my being the sister of the Demon Emperor and all, but I think a part of her felt guilty about betraying Zero." Nunnally giggled, "Kaguya never stops asking me about my brother's past—the girls he liked, the girls that liked him, his hobbies, you know, basically everything about him. I think she still likes him deep down inside."
40"Wasn't Lady Kaguya supposed to marry Tohdoh a few years back?" Suzaku inquired; he pressed the subject to keep her smiling.
40"Yes, she was," Nunnally chortled. "It was at the behest of the new Japanese parliament. They claimed it was to ensure the continuance of the imperial bloodline, but Kaguya saw right through it and rightly accused them of trying to use her as a pawn in a power grab for Japanese control of the Black Knight's Pacific Command. Since Tohdoh had been elected head of that position by the UFN, the Japanese parliament sought to gain bedside influence and inner knowledge of confidential information through Kaguya."
40"I take it that didn't sit well with her?" Suzaku smiled.
40Nunnally let out a laugh, "Oh no! Kaguya faced down the prime minister in the middle of the senate's most important debate of the year, that being the Japanese government budget, and flat-out told him in front of the whole country during the televised event that if he wanted to be in bed with Tohdoh, then he should marry him himself."
40"Feisty as always," Suzaku laughed.
40"Yeah, she is," Nunnally giggled. "She once stared down Li Xingke and scolded him severely for missing Jiang's birthday a few years back. I pity the person she gets angry at, because Sumeragi gives no quarter."
40"I never understood Jiang Lihua and Li Xingke's relationship," Suzaku said, a bit perplexed. "Are they in love?"
40"Yes," Nunnally said with smirk. "I believe they've been planning a wedding for years, but both of them are so busy they haven’t gotten around to even deciding where to have it."
40"Does Jiang talk a lot about getting married?" Kururugi asked with a smile.
40"No, not really," Nunnally said. "Jiang usually tries to get me to talk about all the friends I had at Ashford. Lihua didn't have any real friends growing up, so she likes to hear my tales about my school days with Milly, Rivalz, Nina, Shirley, and my brother. She especially likes to hear the stories of Shirley trying to chase down my brother and all of Milly's crazy antics to get them together."
40The memory of the last words Shirley said to him cut into Suzaku's psyche: I forgave Lulu for the death of my father...maybe you should try to forgive him too, Suzaku. He hadn't forgiven him. Even now, after all this time, his love for Euphie was too great and too deep, and Lelouch, no, Geass had taken her from him by the hand of Zero; he could never forgive Lelouch for forcing him to live by using Geass. The Zero Requiem was not enough; he knew that now. He knew he wanted to be with his true love. Kururugi knew he wanted more than anything to be with his Euphie; Suzaku wanted to die. "Yeah, Milly sure was crazy, wasn't she?"
40"Was? She still is," Nunnally laughed. "Milly Ashford is now the chief executive of the Tokyo Broadcasting Channel and airs some of the most outlandish shows in the world; she's a huge success over there."
40"Wow, I didn't know that," Suzaku said in surprise. "I wonder what happened to the rest of the gang."
40"If you mean Rivalz, he actually married Milly a little over four years ago," Nunnally told him. "I wanted to go to their wedding but couldn't because I knew I'd bring attention to my relationship to them, and there was a real possibility of retaliation against our friends by the Japanese government and other parties."
40Suzaku sighed, "Oh, I'm sorry, milady. I should have realized that would be a problem."
40"That's okay," Nunnally told him. "Things are more settled now in Japan, and when we go there in a month for the UFN summit, I've made arrangements for us to visit Milly and Rivalz...well, you as Zero anyway." Her elation subsided as she realized her excitement was lost on Suzaku.
40"Don't look sad, Empress." He gave her a fake grin. "I've made my own bed and am more than willing to lie in it."
40"That reminds me." Nunnally cocked her head to one side. "Kaguya and Jiang are flying out here to travel with us to Japan."
40"Pardon my saying so, Empress, but that seems a bit odd." Suzaku was puzzled.
40"Not at all," she smiled at him. "You see, you and I are going to Japan by ship, and so you'll have a whole month to get reacquainted with Lady Kaguya and the Tianzi while we cruise along to the islands of Japan. Hope you don't get seasick."
40Suzaku grimaced, "No, milady."


* * *

40"Chancellor Schneizel, we are approaching the Weddell Sea coastline," Kannon stated from his position, standing on the foredeck of the enclosed bridge, which protruded from the ventral bow section of the ship just below the nose Hadron Cannon.
40"Thank you, Kannon," Schneizel smiled at his yeoman. "Please inform Dr. Viviane that we are now within landing range, and have her prepare her teams for immediate departure. Also, have the Black Knights put on standby."
40"Yes, Chancellor," Kannon stated obediently. "We should make the intended dig site on the Vigrid Plain in about an hour, sir."
40"Excellent, Kannon," Schneizel smiled. "I imagine we'll be able to secure the area of the sakuradite deposit by morning and have the UFN International Energy Commission base of operations built here by the end of the month."
40Kannon gave Schneizel a perplexed look. "Antarctica is unclaimed territory. Shouldn't we claim this area for Britannia?"
40Schneizel thought his yeoman's question over for a few moments before a scowl flashed across his expression and then faded to his practiced smile. "No, Kannon. Zero gave explicit orders to me that I was to only secure the area and assist the UFN team. I am not to take possession of the sakuradite."
40"I understand, sir," Kannon said dejected.


* * *

40The Thor flew over the vast expanse of the Antarctic ice shelf as the rays of the sun illuminated the snow-covered Transantarctic Mountains. The large aerial ship weaved its way above the ice-capped peaks of the great stone sierras as the crew maneuvered her towards a large basin valley in the middle of the range.
40The great metal vessel swerved into a position over the center of the icy expanse and hovered. As soon as she came to a complete stop, the outlined central portion of the craft's lower hull popped open slightly, creating a vapor caused by the warm air of the ship mixing with the frigid atmosphere of the region. A long, rectangular-shaped elevator platform descended from the ventral hull of the mighty vessel via four long hydraulic lift cylinders to the snow-covered ice below.
40On the top of this drop-elevator platform was a G-1 command base and a contingent of two hundred KnightMare Frames comprised of mostly RPI-13 Southerland and RPI-209 Gloucesters. These KnightMares were armed with a plethora of mining equipment, from drill-lances to grappling-harkens, and radiant-heat guns used for melting away ice without damaging things beneath it.
40The large force of UFN team members went into action immediately as they broke off into individual units and began boring, melting, and chipping away at the icy surface. Within an hour, the UFN force of excavators cleared away an area of ice nearly three hundred meters wide and fifty deep. They were rapidly nearing the edge of where the sakuradite deposit was supposed to be.
40"Doctor Viviane!" a masculine voice called over the radio to the G-1.
40"What is it?" she inquired, her curiosity heightened by the man's excitement.
40"We've found something," he radioed back.
40"Oh," the doctor said. "What have you found?"
40"I think it's best if you come down here, Doctor. I'd rather not talk over an unsecured channel," the man stated with an edge of concern in his voice.
40"I see," she replied. "I'll proceed down there immediately."


* * *

40"Chancellor Schneizel," a female communications officer ventured to interrupt him while he spoke private words to Kannon, who currently stood by his side at the commander's station.
40Schneizel looked towards the young woman and grinned. "Yes? What is it?"
40"Chancellor, I've intercepted a communication between one of the mining teams and Dr. Viviane. It appears they've discovered something under the ice sheet, and she is now currently on-site."
40"I see." Schneizel hid his irritation at having been disturbed over such a trivial matter. "It's probably just the sakuradite vein—"
40"No, sir," the girl cut him off. "They've called in Professor Cornwallis of the UFN archaeological unit and have requested a KnightMare armed with a Maser Vibration Sword."
40"An MVS? What would they need that for?" Kannon blurted out in surprise.
40"That's a good question." Schneizel stood up from his command chair and addressed his yeoman, "Kannon, have my personal transport prepared for launch. I'm going down there to see what this is all about."
40"Chancellor, shall I have an escort detail go with you?" Kannon was concerned.
"That won't be necessary, Kannon. However, you have my permission to launch the Black Knights as a precaution if that will assuage your concerns," Schneizel said as he walked towards the bridge elevator doors. "You're in charge until I get back, Kannon."
40"Thank you, Chancellor," Kannon said. "I'll have the Black Knights launch at once."
40"Very well, just be sure to have them sent out to patrol the perimeter of this area." Schneizel smiled. "We wouldn't want to burden them with the boredom of whatever trinkets Dr. Viviane may have uncovered."
40"Of course, sir," Kannon said with a short bow.


* * *

40"I hope you had a good reason for dragging me down here," Dr. Viviane said as she disembarked from her Gloucester into the large chamber which had been excavated by the mining team with radiant-heat guns.
40Professor Cornwallis slid down his machine's egress ladder and joined up with her as quickly as he could.
40"Yes, ma'am, I do," stated a burly gentleman, who greeted her with a quick bow. "I'm Crew Chief Miyazaki. My team and I found something...it's difficult to describe. Perhaps we should just go down and have a look at it."
40Dr. Viviane and Professor Cornwallis followed along with the crew chief of the UFN team towards the end of the cavern where a spire of bronze-colored metal jutted out of the ice. The metallic cone was large, at least five meters wide and ten meters high, and had an unusual texture—it was smooth like glass. There were no markings or edges of any kind on the thing.
40"We tried using the MVS to cut through its surface, but whatever it's made of is impervious to our tools and weapons," the chief explained.
40"What do you think, Professor Cornwallis?" Dr. Viviane was truly perplexed by the sight of the enigma.
40Cornwallis brushed away some of the snow at the base of the spire. "I think this is the top of a much larger structure. It looks like the base is another five meters down."
40Dr. Viviane turned to the chief. "Mr. Miyazaki, how long would it take you to melt away the ice around this spire and reach the base?"
40The chief put his gloved hand to the chin of his arctic-weather coat. "About five, maybe seven minutes tops."
40Dr. Viviane smiled, "Excellent, get to it as soon as we've cleared the area."


* * *

40The Yamato no Orochi took off from the Thor's five dorsal KnightMare launch decks to patrol the surrounding mountainside. The five Type-21B transformable Bushido Frames, two Type-21N transformable Samurai Frames, and one Type-21O transformable Shogun Frame flew along in their predetermined flight path via their new graviton-impeller internal-inertia propulsion units (GIPU).
40The Type-21 series was a ninth-generation transformable KnightMare Frame developed by the UFN Kyoto-House/Zone-India Industries and built under the direction of Chief Frame-designer Rakshata Chawla and her team of experts during the 2020 a.t.b. rearmament program for the reformed Order of the Black Knights. This R&D team based the new design on the Shinkirou and Tristan designs.
40The Type-21 was built to contend with any type of KnightMare, aerial warship, or sky-fortress (like the Damocles) that the Order of the Black Knights might encounter. Therefore, the Kyoto-India design and development teams created a new propulsion system for the Type-21, the GIPU, which allowed the Type-21 series to travel at supersonic speeds for as long as the frame had power and the KnightMare was capable of transatmospheric flight.
40Enhanced weaponry like the Blade-Luminous (based off of the Blaze Luminous shield system) and the Omnidirectional Enhanced Absolute Protection Territory energy shield system were derived directly from Shinkirou and the Tristan-Divider type KnightMares built during the 2017-18 time period.
40"Hey, Kallen. You have any idea why we're being sent to patrol the outer perimeter?" Gino inquired over the radio.
40"I'm not sure," she told him as they flew over the last of the mountain peaks towards the edge of the Sierras. "But I don't like this."
40"Think we should split up just in case?" Gino asked.
40"That might not be such a bad idea," Captain Kozuki agreed as she flipped over to the main radio frequency of the Black Knights. "Okay, team, listen up. I want Tamaki and Anya to form up with Gino and me in a diamond formation. Arial, Luke, Shoji, and Isuzu will form up in the same manner and patrol in a parallel flight path to ours, circling the Thor's outer perimeter. This way, if we're engaged by any outside threat, they won't surprise all of us at once."
40"What? Hey, Captain, you know there ain't nobody gonna surprise us; we're the original Black Knights," Tamaki boasted over the radio.
40Kallen smiled, "I know, Tamaki, and we won't get caught with our pants down."


* * *

40"Dr. Viviane, we've found an entrance!" Chief Miyazaki exclaimed from where they had cleared away more of the thick ice. The spire that rose from the glacial material was much wider at its base and had a slightly larger than man-sized archway that led into the darkened depths of the cone-shaped tower.
40"There's more underneath this spire." Professor Cornwallis said in awe of the shadow that lay below the ice. "This must be the top of some central building or temple of some kind." He looked out along the walls of ice made by the KnightMares as they unearthed the bronze cone. "There must be a complex of some sort under here, perhaps even an ancient city."
40"How old is it?" Dr. Viviane inquired of him.
40"I don't know." The professor was giddy. "I've never seen architecture like this before anywhere."
40"Let's proceed inside," Dr. Viviane said as she took a flashlight from her utility belt. "Chief, you're with the professor and me; the rest of you stay here," she ordered the team of men that now surrounded the egress.
40The trio made their way into the inky blackness of the cylindrical tower, only to find it devoid of anything except a bronze, circular plate at its center with a podium in the middle.
40"What do you think this is?" Chief Miyazaki asked as he examined the top of the pedestal. "Hey, there are diamonds on this thing!"
40"No, Miyazaki, don't touch them!" Professor Cornwallis cried out, but it was too late. The chief touched one of the crystals, and the disc they were standing on immediately dropped downward at an alarming rate. It fell for minutes.
40Finally, the circular platform eased to a stop within a chamber lit only by a faint, blue light.
40"Where are we?" Dr. Viviane queried her companions.
40"Hundreds of meters down the tower I would guess, judging by the speed with which the plate descended," the chief said as he looked around the room.
40"Good gods, what is that?" Dr. Viviane said as she looked towards a dimly lit corner of the room. There amidst a pile of rubble were the remains of a thing that looked as if it was once both organic and mechanical; a cyborg of some sort but on a massive scale, like a giant KnightMare Frame.
40Professor Cornwallis examined the thing with his flashlight. He let out a gasp. "Hecatonchires, the hundred-handed."
40"Come again?" Dr. Viviane asked the professor.
40"The hundred-handed guardians of Greek legend that supposedly guarded the Gates of Tartarus." The professor stared at the remains of the beast.
40"Who do you think she is?" Chief Miyazaki inquired, looking in the opposite direction of the room.
40Dr. Viviane and Professor Cornwallis turned to see what the chief miner was talking about. There on the far wall incased in a crystalline, rectangular-shaped capsule, which had numerous tubes and cables running from its top and bottom, was an extraordinarily beautiful woman dressed in what appeared to be a jumpsuit adorned with Greek robes. A wide, flat tiara of gold adorned her head.
40"I don't know who she is." The professor was enthralled. "But there seems to be an inscription on her tiara," he added as he came to within a few feet of the capsule.
40"Be careful, Professor," Dr. Viviane cautioned him.
40"I need to clear this thin layer of ice off to read it," he said as he touched the outer lid.
40As soon as he touched the crystalline surface, the capsule came to life. The crystal structure of the device liquefied in seconds, exposing the woman within.
40"Incredible," the professor said as he leaned in towards the woman. "She is perfectly preserved."
40"Professor, I think we should get out of..." Dr. Viviane started to say but was startled by the woman sitting upright. Her eyes opened to reveal their dark blue, almost violet color.
40"Χαιρετισμούς, είμαι Σθεννώ," the woman said with a smile.
40"What did she say?" Chief Miyazaki managed to ask.
40"It was Greek. I believe it translates: Greetings, I am Sthenno," the professor said in amazement.
40The woman took hold of his arm.
40Professor Cornwallis shrank back from her iron grip but could not free himself from her. In seconds, a look of recognition crossed her face.
40"I see I am the first to wake," the woman said in English with a thick foreign accent, as if the words were clumsy on her tongue. "Thank you, Professor, for translating your language to me through your mind; it is much appreciated. However, since you and your companions are not gods, I'm afraid I'm going to have to enslave you."
40"Enslave us!" Miyazaki laughed. "How the heck are you going to enslave us?"
40A pair of sigils appeared in Sthenno’s eyes as Dr. Viviane gasped in horror, "GEASS!"

Kodai Okuda
09-09-2010, 06:03 AM
Turn Two: Rookies

40"Ashford Academy. I hadn't seen the place in nearly half a decade. I was truly amazed at how a former Britannian private school could be transformed into an international Career Academy. The biggest surprise was that Ohgi and Villetta Nu were now actually teaching there. Villetta had become the school’s KnightMare Frame instructor, and Ohgi taught command classes for the fledgling recruits of the Order of the Black Knights. It was truly amazing for me to see how much had changed, but what moved me more is how much had stayed the same since those glory days with Kallen, Rivalz, Nina, Shirley, Nunnally, and...Lulu." —Excerpt from Milly Ashford's interview with International World Review, dated October 22nd, 2025 a.t.b.

40"Akira Nobunaga!" Villetta called out the name from the list on the sheet secured to the clipboard she held in front of her.
40"He’s not here yet, Mrs. Nu," Lena Morrow told her from where she stood within the group of nearly twenty student pilots.
40“Any idea where he is, Lena?” Villetta asked.
40The young girl just shrugged her shoulders and then began playing with her long, braided, blue hair. “I don’t know, Mrs. Nu. He doesn’t tell me where he goes in the morning.”
40There were “oohs” mixed in among the tittering within the group.
40“I thought you were his girlfriend…“ Villetta started to say when she was interrupted by a person running into the KnightMare hangar.
40A short, brown-haired teenager with jade-green eyes rushed through the large, open garage door of the KnightMare bay. His features became apparent in the overhead lighting of the hangar and betrayed his mixed Britannian-Japanese heritage as he got into his place in the group of rookies. “I’m here!” he wheezed, bending over and holding himself up by resting his hands on his thighs as he tried to breathe.
40“Where the heck have you been, Akira?” Villetta interrogated him. “There is only a month left until graduation; you could at least try to get here on time for once before that.”
40“Yes, ma’am,” he said as he got his wind back and stood up straight. “I’ve been working with Ms. Rakshata,” Akira smiled.
40“Really?” Villetta frowned. “Is fooling around with Dr. Chawla’s new inventions more important to you than defending the honor of your KnightMare team in the upcoming final game of this year? Japan’s Jaguars are playing in the International KnightMare Competition. We’ll be competing against the best rookie KnightMare pilots in the world, including the Chinese Federation’s Red Dragon team. The week-long competition is going to be televised to the whole world, or did you forget that today was the day of the Tokyo Broadcasting Channel’s visit to Ashford to cover our leaving for Sydney, Australia?”
40“No, ma’am,” he answered her with a weak grin.
40“You’re the captain of the Jaguars, Akira,” Villetta scolded him. “Where’s your Ashford pride?” She put her hands on her hips. “I know you want to be a Black Knight, you all do, but only the best KnightMare Devicers are selected. Your skill in a KnightMare is very impressive, Mr. Nobunaga, but your lack of professionalism and lax attitude towards your duties as a Japan Jaguar will hurt you in this upcoming contest. Members of the Black Knights are selected from the winners in this international competition.”
40“I know, Mrs. Nu, but how are we supposed to prove ourselves when we’re practicing in these old Gloucesters and Sutherlands? They are obsolete and—”
40“You think they’re obsolete, huh?” Villetta gave him a devilish smirk. “Fine, we’ll begin today’s practice lesson with you and me sparring off in a pair of Gloucesters.”
40There were whispers in the crowd of students all around Akira.
40Villetta commanded her troop of student pilots, “All of you get your suits on and meet me on the practice field in ten minutes.”


* * *

40“You’ve done it now, Akira,” a tall, blond-haired, male pilot said. His Germanic facial features seemed strained as he smiled. “Mrs. Nu is gonna whip your butt out there, man.”
40“We’ll see about that, Gregor,” Akira snickered as he secured the boot straps of his Devicer suit. “She’s good but out of practice.”
40Gregor laughed as they made their way out of the locker room towards where the others were gathered. “Hey, Lena, our boy Akira thinks Mrs. Nu can’t beat him.”
40"Is that so?" a tall, teenage woman with auburn hair and ice-blue eyes sneered. Her athletic figure moved to one side as she swung her pilot's braid of hair over her left shoulder. "Think ‘cause you're a guy that a woman can't beat you, Akira?"
40Lena jeered at her, "He wasn't asking you, Princess Superior Me Pretendia!"
40"Don't start, Mika." Gregor waved her off with an irritated look, trying to defuse the situation before it got out of hand. "He's got enough on his mind already today.”
40Mika ignored Gregor. "Ooh, aren't we testy this morning, Lena. Maybe when you're all grown up I'll take what you say seriously. You know, when you actually fill out like a woman."
40"What?!" Lena felt her cheeks flush with anger at Mika's gibe at the size of her chest. "You're one to talk, Mika. It's not like guys want a girl with a pair of bowling balls strapped to her chest. How are they supposed to help you up out of a car on a date...with a crane?"
40"That's it, you little bitch!" Mika said as she spun around on her heel and let loose with a closed fist aimed at Lena’s face.
40Mika's punch was caught in midair. "Stop it, both of you," Akira said as he let go of Mika's clenched fist. Nobunaga gave Gregor a frown before turning back to Mika. "I didn't say she couldn't beat me because she's a woman. That has nothing to do with it. I said I think I can beat her because she's out of practice."
40"If you're so confident, then I guess you'd better get into that Vincent Ward over there instead of a Gloucester," Villetta said from the cockpit hatch of a Gloucester on the far side of the hangar.
40"But, Mrs. Nu, there's no way you can beat me in a Gloucester if I'm piloting a Vincent Ward. Even Gregor could beat you in that thing," Akira protested.
40"Gee thanks, old buddy," Gregor grumbled.
40"No buts, Mr. Nobunaga. Get your ass in that Vincent Ward and meet me on the field ASAP." Villetta closed the hatch of her Gloucester and moved the machine over to pick up an MVS. "Be sure to arm your KnightMare with one MVS and no projectile weapons," Villetta told him over her KnightMare's loudspeaker. "We'll be engaging in hand-to-hand combat only."
40"Oh man, Akira," Gregor said. "She sounds serious."
40Akira gave him a blank look. "She is."


* * *

40"What are all of you doing milling around this...thing," Schneizel said as he walked down towards the egress of the bronze spire. His finely woven, fur arctic coat whipped in the wind as he made his way to the mouth of the opening.
40A man came up to Schneizel and opened his cold-weather mask. "Chancellor, they haven't come out of that structure for nearly an hour."
40"Who hasn't come out of there?" he asked.
40"Dr. Viviane, Chief Miyazaki, and that professor fellow," the man said.
40"I see." Schneizel approached the doorway and peered into the inky blackness. "I wonder what could be keeping them," he mused to himself as a light came into view from a large, circular hole in the floor. Within moments, a bronze disc carrying four people came to a halt at the top of the orifice in the center of the chamber.
40"Dr. Viviane, what have you discov…" Schneizel started to ask before he saw the faint, orange glow that shone in their eyes through the darkness of the room. "Geass, but how?"
40"You're a handsome one," Sthenno cooed as she walked off the platform towards Schneizel. "I think I shall make you my personal plaything." She smiled as the sigils appeared in her eyes.
40Schneizel tried to avert his gaze but it was too late.
40Sthenno stretched out her left arm towards him. "I, Sthenno, Goddess of Tartarus, command you to be my slave and serve me and no other!"
40Schneizel dropped down onto his knees and screamed, clutching his head, "NO! I must serve Zero! I must serve Zero!"
40"Zero?" Sthenno asked aloud. "Ah, I see. This Zero must be a sorcerer who's enchanted you, or perhaps even a god. I suppose I could let you go mad and die, but on the other hand, I may need more knowledge of this Zero. Therefore..." Sthenno walked over to Schneizel and pulled the tiara she wore on her head down over her eyes. Instantly, the bronze-colored headband came to life; at its center a mechanical eye appeared, the symbol of the All Seeing Eye, and from this eye, the blue inverted sigil of Geass formed. A blue glow engulfed both Sthenno and Schneizel. The orange glow in his eyes subsided.
40Schneizel stood up and looked around in a momentary daze. "What? What happened?”
40Sthenno smirked, “I have freed you from the enchantment of Zero. However…” Sthenno flipped up her tiara and prepared to Geass him.
40He put out his hand. "There is no need for that. I am in your debt. I can serve you more efficiently without the need for such....sorceries."
40Sthenno paused, the sigils in her eyes faded. "How can you serve me better than if you were my slave?"
40Schneizel seized the moment. "I can give you insight into knowledge of things that have transpired since whenever it is you came to be in this place. I imagine you’ve been in this place for some time. Would I be wrong to assume that you require information on the peoples, places, and countries of this present-day world?"
40"No, you would be correct in your assumption. However, what concerns me most at present is this Zero. Who is he?" she inquired as she reached out and caressed his face. "What do you know of this person?"
40"Zero was my younger brother," Schneizel told her.
40"Brother?" Sthenno inquired. "So, then are you his champion?"
40Schneizel thought fast. Champion? She must mean the Geass Lelouch put on me. "I was, but thanks to you I am no longer," he smiled. "I was not his champion by choice."
40"As his brother, why would you not willingly be his champion?" Sthenno was clearly intrigued.
40"He betrayed and killed our father and then stole our father's power for himself." Schneizel was casual in his demeanor. "My brother became a tyrant and a murderer, and the world has suffered for it."
40"Oh, how tragic," she smiled. "Then you must want revenge against this brother of yours, this Zero?"
40"Very much so." Schneizel pasted an innocent expression on his face. "I was once a prince. Prince Schneizel el Britannia, and I wish to reclaim the kingdom that is rightfully mine. I am the eldest surviving son, and this Zero has put his sibling, my crippled youngest half-sister, who is just barely a woman, in my place to mock our father and our Empire."
40"Has he?" Sthenno's demeanor became cold. "This Zero would dare to put a weakling cripple child in place of a prince such as you?"
40“Unfortunately,” Schneizel smirked.
40“Then I think you may be able to serve my purposes, Prince Schneizel, and I in turn can help you.” Sthenno eyed him cautiously. “If you pledge your undying loyalty to me on your honor as a prince of this Britannia of yours, then I will grant you the power to take back your kingdom.”
40“I will be eternally grateful,” Schneizel bowed.
40“In exchange for this power I shall grant you, I expect you to free my people from their icy tomb within a fortnight.” Sthenno gave him an evil grin and held out her hand. “Do we have an accord?”
40Schneizel realized that her offer was final and that she would probably Geass him and release her companions even if he refused. He knelt before her and gently took her hand in his own. Schneizel kissed her hand. “We have a deal, milady.”
40“Very good.” Sthenno blushed at his gesture. She bent down and lifted his head gently as she kissed him on the lips.
40A flood of imagery ran through Schneizel’s head: Sthenno as a young girl being given Geass from an old man; her power to enslave gaining her the stature of a champion of her god; wars fought in his name; her attainment of a full Geass power with sigils forming in both her eyes; her slaying of an Egyptian immortal and the transfer of her immortality, her Code, into Sthenno's body; the last image was of the final Geass War, which shook the very foundations of the Earth and caused the antediluvian civilizations of the world to sink into oblivion in the flood that ensued, sealing with it the ancient secrets of the gods.
40Schneizel knelt before her, stunned at what his mind had seen and its implications, but one question burned in his skull. “I was under the impression that a person lost his power of sorcery when he gained immortality. Is this not so?”
40Sthenno chortled and addressed him as a teacher to a student, “A champion becomes a sorcerer over time and may achieve immortality in one of two ways. He may either acquire it from an immortal, or he may obtain transcendence through the oracle of life. If he is given it or takes it from an immortal, then he will retain his power of sorcery provided that immortal is not the one who made him his champion in the first place; only a fool would kill the one that made them, though a master may sacrifice his immortality and force it on one he has made to end the power of his wicked pupil. I took my immortality from a god known as Bast, but the one who made me was Kronos.”
40Sthenno motioned for Schneizel to rise before her. “You now have the power of a champion, my Prince.”
40Schneizel could feel a sensation of power coursing through his body, its epicenter focused just behind his right eye. “So, this is the power of Geass.”
40Sthenno leaned up to his ear and whispered, “Let us go now, my Prince, and convince your people to follow you in the name of your goddess, in the name of Sthenno.”


* * *

40“Kannon,” Schneizel’s voice emanated from the back of the bridge as he and his female companion entered the command deck.
40“Oh, Chancellor, I hadn’t realized you’d returned,” Kannon said, a bit perplexed by the attire (and gender) of Schneizel’s escort.
40“Please Kannon, address me as Prince Schneizel,” he smiled.
40Kannon was befuddled. “But, Chancel…I mean, Prince Schneizel, Emperor Lelouch abolished the royal system—“
40Sthenno raised an eyebrow at the mention of Lelouch but said nothing.
40“And I am here to rebuild it,” Schneizel said in his calm manner. He called out to the bridge crew, “Everyone, may I have your attention.”
40The bridge crew turned to face Schneizel.
40“Very good,” he said as the sigil of Geass appeared in his right eye. “I, Prince Schneizel el Britannia, command you to serve me with undying loyalty.”
40The bridge crew stood up, a faint, orange glow just barely visible behind their eyes, as they declared in unison, “Yes, my Lord!”
40“Well, now that the formalities are out of the way, we can begin,” Schneizel told a horrified Kannon. Schneizel laughed, “Don’t worry, Kannon, this is the beginning of a truly new era; besides, I would never use this power on you, my loyal friend.”
40Sthenno looked over the bridge of the Thor as she waltzed in with an air of invulnerability. “This is a primitive vessel, but it will do.”
40“And who is this?” Kannon inquired with a narrow-eyed look.
40Schneizel turned and gently took Sthenno by the hand. She regarded him with a curious smile as he introduced her, “Kannon, this radiant creature is the goddess Sthenno. It is to her that I owe our second chance to reclaim the Empire, and it is she whom we owe our allegiance to for this grand opportunity.”
40Sthenno snickered, “I assume by the jealous look on your face that you must be Prince Schneizel’s manservant.” Sthenno clasped Schneizel’s hand tightly. “I imagine that you serve your lord well, but I’m afraid there are certain functions that you are no longer required for; functions that only a woman is capable of providing.”
40Kannon scowled, “I will perform whatever duties Prince Schneizel requires of me.”
40“As you have for years, Kannon,” Schneizel said. “And as I expect you will throughout this great endeavor to restore the glory of Britannia.”
40“What about the Black Knights?” Kannon asked the question as if it should be obvious that Schneizel’s plan would require more than just a Geass-wielding goddess.
40“Ah, yes, my brother’s Order of vagabonds.” Schneizel turned to one of the bridge crew. “Order Captain Kozuki’s team to return at once,” the prince smiled. “And when they come in range of our weapons, destroy them.”


* * *

40“Are you ready, Akira?” Villetta asked as she prepared her Gloucester.
40“Yes, Mrs. Nu, I’m ready,” Nobunaga radioed her.
40“Good!” Villetta said as the wheels of her KnightMare folded down. Her machine tore up the gravel of the academy proving grounds as she maneuvered it towards the Vincent Ward on the other side of the field.
40The other members of the Japan Jaguars sat in the bleachers, which were built high above the field on the sidelines and were protected by a Blaze Luminous shield all along the rim of the proving grounds.
40Villetta unsheathed the MVS of her Gloucester as she charged Akira’s Vincent Ward. “You need to learn to take the initiative!” she said as her KnightMare swung its Maser sword at the left leg of the Vincent.
40“I prefer to let my opponent make the first move,” Akira said as his machine pivoted on its right heel while simultaneously unsheathing its MVS.
40The Gloucester’s Maser sword just barely missed the leg of the Vincent Ward as Nobunaga’s machine swung down towards the right shoulder of Villetta’s mecha from behind.
40“Go, Mrs. Nu!” Mika cheered from the stands.
40“Get her, Akira!” Lena yelled.
40The Maser sword of Akira’s mecha was stopped by Villetta’s own MVS.
40The swords of both machines crossed several times before the two combatants separated again, driving across the field at high speed via their wheeled drives.
40Akira’s Vincent flew into the air with the momentum of its driving speed and lunged at Villetta’s Gloucester with a cutting blow.
40“You’re trying too hard, Akira,” she scolded him over the radio as her machine swerved in towards him. The blade of her Maser sword came up towards the left arm joint of the Vincent.
40“If you say so, ma’am.” Akira countered with the hip-mounted slash harken of his machine, deflecting Villetta’s attack.
40"Oh, man, that was close," Gregor said to Lena.
40Lena reassured Gregor, "Don't worry, Akira just needs to get a feel for his opponent before he can whip ‘em."
40"No way, Lena," Mika taunted her. "Mrs. Nu is a war veteran and an expert KnightMare Devicer; your boy is going down!"
40“Not bad,” Villetta said as her KnightMare swung around and lashed out with a Stun Tonfa from its left arm. The weapon connected with the right arm of the Vincent.
40"Oh NO!" Lena blurted out.
40Mika laughed, "You see, there's no way he can win."
40"Damn!" Akira cursed as the electrical jolt shot through his KnightMare Frame.
40"You need to think two steps ahead of your opponent if you want to win," Villetta told him as she twisted her Gloucester around and sliced the right arm of the Vincent Ward off completely.
40Akira tried to counter her move with a pair of slash harkens, but Villetta used her MVS to cut through both of them.
40"Wow, Mrs. Nu is really good," Gregor said with a blank look.
40Lena shoved him. "Whose side are you on?"
40"Your moves are too predictable, Nobunaga." Her Gloucester thrust forward with its MVS.
40Akira's Vincent Ward spun to one side as he instinctively moved the Maser sword of his mecha and slashed at her machine's left arm, severing the mechanical limb.
40Villetta was surprised. "Impressive," she said as her KnightMare parried his second blow with its MVS.
40"Thank you, sensei, you'll find I'm full of surprises," Akira retorted as he drove his machine backwards at full speed.
40"What the heck is Akira doing?" Gregor asked, perplexed by his friend's move.
40"Looks like he's running away," Mika chuckled.
40"No, he's luring her in," Lena said.
40Akira maneuvered his machine in a zigzag pattern along the field with Villetta in hot pursuit.
40"I take back what I said," Villetta told him as she followed after him. "Running away isn't very impressive, Mr. Nobunaga."
40"I agree," he said as he reversed the direction of his Vincent Ward and stuck the tip of its MVS into the ground like a pole vault stick, spinning his KnightMare to the side and behind Villetta's mecha.
40Before she could react, Akira's Vincent Ward cut off her Gloucester's last remaining arm.
40"Yeah, Akira!" Lena yelled. "He beat her!"
40"I can't believe it," Mika said in amazement.
40Akira pointed his Maser sword at Villetta's Gloucester. "I win, Mrs. Nu; there's no way your machine can fight..."
40The slash harkens of the Gloucester launched out at the Vincent Ward. "The fight isn't over until your enemy is defeated completely, Akira!" The first slash harken tore through the arm of the Vincent Ward, cutting it off, while the second one smashed through the sensor head of the mecha.
40"Surrender!" Villetta said over the radio.
40Akira was shocked by how quickly his victory had vanished. “I concede,” he said as his Vincent Ward dropped to its knees.
40“No way!” Lena whined.
40“Oh yeah!” Mika raised her arms up in the air. “She really kicked his…”
40“What the heck is going on here?” a male voice startled Mika as he inquired from behind the Japan Jaguars at the top of the bleachers.
40“Hi, Mr. Nu,” Gregor greeted Ohgi as he walked down towards them.
40“Where’s Villetta?” he asked in a befuddled tone as he stopped and looked around at the KnightMare team.
40The Jaguars pointed out to the Gloucester that stood triumphantly over the badly damaged Vincent Ward.
40“I see,” Ohgi sighed. He walked down past the Jaguars to the gate that accessed the proving grounds and strut out onto the field towards the Gloucester at a quick pace.
40Villetta opened the cockpit hatch of her KnightMare as Ohgi approached her machine. “Hi, hun,” she said with a meek smile. “How’s your morning been?”
40“Not as exciting as yours, I see,” he said with a smirk. “Is this some kind of last-minute training before you guys leave for Australia?”
40Villetta knew Ohgi didn’t approve of her being the Ashford Academy KnightMare instructor because it brought out her Britannian training and conditioning, and Ohgi disliked that side of her personality. “Uh…heh, it’s something like that,” she stammered.
40“Well, just try not to put your students in the hospital before the competition,” he joked. “The chief executive officer of TBC, Mrs. Milly Ashford, is here and would like to personally interview the Jaguar’s coach in a one-on-one exclusive before the Jaguars leave today. I told her I’d come get you, but if you’re busy with your team, I’ll tell her to wait…”
40“No, no...Not if Milly came to see us off.” Villetta blushed. “I’ll get right over there.”
40Ohgi laughed, “I hate to be the one to tell you, honey, but you’re sweating profusely.” He knew how conscious Villetta was of her appearance in public; her sense of royal decorum had not ended with her leaving the ranks of the Royal Britannian military. “Should I tell Mrs. Ashford that you’ll be a while?”
40“Twenty minutes tops,” Villetta said as she climbed down from the KnightMare and yelled to the Jaguars. “Mika, you and the others help Akira get out of his KnightMare and then clean up this mess before we have to pack up and leave today. I’ve got to go!”
40Mika looked at her teammates. “Clean this up before we leave? How the heck are we supposed to that? Those KnightMares are both wrecks. Can’t we just leave them here until we get back?”
40“Come on, Mika, let’s go get the wrecker and the crane,” Gregor said as he dragged her off towards the hangar.
40Villetta Nu came up to Ohgi and kissed him on the lips. “Thanks for understanding about all this, Ohgi,” she said before kissing him again. “It means a lot to me that you’re not mad about me going off to Australia for the week and leaving you with the kids. You really are the best, Ohgi. I love you,” she told him before she sprinted off towards the KnightMare hangar and the showers.


* * *

40“Attention, Black Knight units,” the female flight control officer of the Thor spoke over Kallen’s radio. “Prince Schneizel has ordered your teams to return to the ship at once."
40"Prince Schneizel?" Anya remarked over the radio in a befuddled tone.
40"That's not the kind of déjà vu I need, Captain," Tamaki added.
40"No kidding," Gino guffawed. "What do you think it means, Kallen?" Gino asked her with an edge of concern creeping into his voice.
40"She probably just misspoke." Kallen tried to calm the rising feeling of dread that welled up from her gut. She flipped her radio over to the general Black Knight frequency and contacted the team leader of the other four members of the Yamato no Orochi. "Shoji, listen up. We're going to fly in together in a line formation, flanking the Thor from each side of her. My team port and your team starboard; that way, if anything's amiss, we can minimize any damage that might ensue."
40"Uh...Okay, Captain, but is there something wrong?" Shoji asked, confused.
40Kallen didn't want to alarm her teammates, nor did she want to alert the Thor if something really was wrong. "It's probably nothing...just fly in parallel to us on the starboard side, and keep your wits about you."
40"Yes, ma'am," he replied.


* * *

40The two flights of Type-21 KnightMares flew towards the Thor in a low, steady path along the tops of the Antarctic Sierras.
40"Prince Schneizel, the Black Knights are in range of our port and starboard Hadron Cannons," a young, male officer said from his tactical station on the bridge of the ship. "I have a solid lock on the starboard flight and will have the port flight locked on at any moment."
40"Very good, Ensign," Schneizel smiled. "You may fire at will."


* * *

40The starboard and portside clamshell-type enclosures which housed the Hadron Cannons opened up and unleashed their deadly streams of energy.
40"What the hell!" Gino blurted out as he instinctively veered his fighter away from the attack.
40"SHIELDS!!" Kallen yelled over the radio as she transformed her Type-21 Shogun and used its Hadron Shields to try to protect her teammates from the deadly beam.
40The streams of destruction cut through the unsuspecting starboard flight of Type-21s, reducing them to molten balls of slag that fell down in between the mountains below them.
40Kallen's KnightMare shook violently under the barrage of the Hadron beam. The searing heat of the ray emanated through the superstructure of her mecha into her cockpit and smothered her until she started to black out.
40Her Type-21 fell to the rocky crags below, smoking as it did so.


* * *

40"Direct hit, my Lord," the young tactical officer reported.
40"Excellent work, Ensign," Schneizel commended the man.
40"Do you think they were totally destroyed?" Kannon asked.
40"In all likelihood they were," Schneizel said as he sat down in his command chair. "However, they are equipped with an enhanced Absolute Protection Energy Shield. Some of them may have gotten lucky, so we should send out a recovery team to be sure all of them were neutralized."
40"Yes, my Lord," Kannon said with a short bow.
40"Oh, and, Kannon, be sure to dispatch a report to the UFN," Schneizel smiled. "Tell them we were attacked by mercenary forces that we believe to be connected with Cornelia's troop of Brazilian terrorists, and that these terrorists unfortunately managed to destroy our Black Knight escort. However, we are currently safe."
40"As you wish, Prince Schneizel," Kannon nodded.


* * *

40"It's been too long, Nunnally," Kaguya said with a smile as she kissed Nunnally on each cheek.
40"Indeed." Jiang Lihua hugged Nunnally as she sat in her float chair.
40"Yes, it has been," Nunnally responded with a warm smile at her friends as she greeted them on the landing pad of the Britannian surface warship Emerald Queen.
40Suzaku looked on silently, playing his part as Zero while he stood behind Nunnally's chair.
40Kaguya regarded him with icy glare. "I see you've brought along your bodyguard," Sumeragi said to Nunnally.
40Nunnally tried to be diplomatic. "Yes, Zero is my trusted aide and protector. I thought it prudent to bring him along on this voyage."
40"Oh, I see." Kaguya eyed Zero. "So, tell me, Zero, now that there is perpetual peace in the world, what need do we have of you outside of being a mere bodyguard?"
40"Kaguya!" Lihua scolded her. "That was rude."
40Sumeragi's stare didn't waver.
40Suzaku knew she was trying to get him to speak out loud to her. Even with the helmet's voice modulation unit, Kaguya Sumeragi, his cousin, might recognize him. He stood maintaining his silence.
40"Well?" Sumeragi pressed him. "What happened to the Knight of Justice? The man who changed the world with tongue and deed must have something to say in his defense."
40She's trying to push me into revealing who I am to her with my voice! Suzaku thought as Sumeragi put her hands on her hips and stared at him. Maybe she won't be able to tell. Maybe the voice scrambler will fool her…and then again, maybe not.
40Nunnally was too shocked to speak; she hadn't thought that Kaguya would be so bold.
40I have no choice; if I say nothing, she'll suspect I'm hiding something which relates to her and me personally. This woman had known the real Zero. She would not be fooled by Suzaku's attempt to imitate Lelouch, so there was no use in trying to do so. Suzaku spoke using his own brand of verbal tact, which was to say as little as possible with the most verbiage he could muster. "I am the Knight of Justice, the one person the world looks to for salvation, and I, Zero, am the symbol of the peace the world now enjoys." His words were like a metal coin on his tongue: course, dry, and metallic.
40"Is that so?" Kaguya tittered viscously. "The world is fortunate that it does not know you the way I do."
40"Lady Kaguya, that is quite enough," Nunnally told her with a frown. "Zero is not a criminal, and I cannot tolerate you attacking him like he is one."
40"I'm sorry, Empress Nunnally." Sumeragi gave her a sad smile. "It's just that I once loved Zero...the real one...your brother. And I don't know for certain who this imposter is, but I hate to think of who he may be."
40Nunnally's heart sank. She wanted to cry for the loss of her friend and for her own loss, but she had to be strong for Suzaku's sake. "I...I'm sorry for you, Lady Kaguya, but please do not blame this Zero for what happened. My brother was responsible for his own actions, no one else."
40Kaguya took hold of Nunnally's hand. "Thank you, my friend." She put on a grin as she changed the subject abruptly. "May I ask if it would be possible for us to get anything to eat on this ship? The flight was long and we've yet to have supper."
40Nunnally laughed, grateful for the shift in Sumeragi's mood. "Yes, Lady Kaguya, there's plenty of food to eat in the ship's galley. We can go there immediately if you'd like."
40"How about you, Lihua, are you hungry?" Nunnally asked the girl, who had been silent for much of Kaguya's verbal flaying of Suzaku.
40Jiang nodded. "Umm-hmmm, I'm starving," she giggled.
40"Good," Nunnally chortled. "Let's go."
40"Okay," Jiang said as she took hold of Nunnally's float chair and pushed her along towards the elevator at the far end of the landing pad.
40Kaguya turned to Zero. "I've wondered about you for many years, Zero. Who you are now and why you did what you did. I think I've figured it out, so when you see my cousin, tell him that I'll never forgive him for being a traitor to his people, to his family, and to a man who must have been like a brother to him." She turned on her heel without saying another word and sprinted ahead of Zero to join with her two friends.
40Suzaku was frozen in place. Her words cut deep into him. It was true what she had said; he had murdered his father, killed his own people in the service of Britannia, and slew his best friend, and for what? What had he done that changed the world for the better? It was Lelouch that had made the sacrifice, not him. How had anything that he did save anyone he loved?
40Back during the Rebellion, he had looked at the world through the eyes of a teenager, rash and impulsive, an idealist; now he had the wisdom of six years of experience in living a lie that tore at his sanity and his soul. He wondered how much more of this shame he could stand before he lost what was left of who he was and fell into total despair and perhaps even madness.
40Suzaku looked up at the clear blue sky above him and spoke softly to himself, "Lelouch, if you can hear me, please, lift this curse from me and release me. I can bear it no longer."
40The sky responded with cold hard silence.
40Zero walked towards the elevators that led to the galley below.

Kodai Okuda
09-10-2010, 02:58 AM
Turn Three: Mettle

40"The Type-21 series was truly one of my proudest achievements. To have it selected over that awful Lancelot of the Lake design put forth by the Earl of Pudding during the 2020 X-Frame competition for the Black Knight's new KnightMare was simply wonderful. I mean, the look on Lloyd's face when our team won the contract was something I shall cherish for the rest of my life." —Excerpt from an interview with Chief Frame designer Rakshata Chawla in Jayne's Mecha Monthly, dated July 3rd, 2022 a.t.b.

40"Is she alive?" Gino asked Anya.
40"Yes, I've linked with her Type-21's internal cockpit Devicer monitor and it shows her life signs are stable," the girl said as her Type-21 flew dangerously low over the vast expanse of the Antarctic plains of ice. Her Samurai carried Kallen's Shogun in its arms as its graviton-impeller compensated for the weight of a second KnightMare Frame.
40"Good," he said. "How about you, Tamaki, how's your KnightMare?"
40"It's singed, but it’s still flying," Tamaki remarked. "I'm not sure Kallen would want us running away like this; maybe we should have stood our ground and fought Schneizel."
40"No way," Gino protested. "Two hundred fifth-generation KnightMares against three 10th-generation is still a slaughter; we'd run out of energy before we'd cut through a quarter of them."
40"You're probably right," Tamaki grumbled.
40"We should be approaching the coastline any time now," Anya said. "Do you think that Prince Schneizel's forces will pursue us this far?"
40"As soon as he realizes we survived he will," Gino answered her.
40"Let's hope that's not before we make it to South America," Anya added.
40"Why the heck are we going to South America anyway?" Tamaki asked. "Do you guys actually think Cornelia will just let us fly in there and say, 'Hi, can we get a recharge for our KnightMares?'; there's no way Generalissimo Ceasaro will let us go if she captures us. I say this is a bad idea."
40"Bad idea or not, we have no other choice, Tamaki," Gino told him. "We only have enough power to make it to the tip of South America, and Anya's Samurai won't make it unless Kallen wakes up soon and flies her machine under its own power."
40"So, you're saying we're screwed," Tamaki moaned.
40"What a way to lift all our spirits; can't you do anything except complain?" Kallen said over the radio.
40"Hey! Captain, you're awake!" Tamaki was elated.
40"You okay, Kallen?" Gino asked her.
40"I've got a splitting headache, and my Shogun is a little worse for wear, but I'm okay otherwise." She sounded irritated. "What the heck happened?"
40"Schneizel is a traitor," Anya said in her methodical monotone. "He destroyed the other four members of our team and attempted to incinerate us as well."
40"I see," Kallen said softly. "You can let go of me now, Anya; I can fly this thing on my own."
40Lt. Alstreim's KnightMare released the Type-21S.
40Kallen's machine flew under its own power up to the front of the group. "We should transform and go to supersonic flight," she suggested.
40"No," Gino contradicted her. "If we fly above fifty feet from the surface, then the Thor's electromagnetic sensors will detect the sakuradite signatures of our machines. We're moving fast enough right now that their overhead satellite video will be hard pressed to find us, especially since the sun is going down. We should be able to hide within the glare of the sunset off the ice below us long enough to get out to the ocean."
40"Good idea, Gino," Kallen remarked. "But where to from there?"
40The apprehension in his voice was clear. "South America."
40"So, we're going to throw ourselves on Cornelia's mercy?" Kallen mused.
40"I don't think we have any other choice," Gino said.
40"You mean because our energy fillers will run out before we make it any farther than that, don't you, Gino?" Captain Kozuki lamented.
40"Yah, Australia is too far, as is Africa; South America is our only hope," he told her as the coastline of the sea came into view. The waves were a radiant gold as the ice below them burned a brilliant red-orange in the light of the setting sun.
40The group of Type-21s flew towards the sea as fast as their graviton-impellers would take them.


* * *

40"We've just received word from the recovery unit," Kannon informed his prince. "There are four units missing."
40"Captain Kozuki's unit, I suppose," Schneizel said with a bored look as he rested his head on his arm.
40"Shall I send out a search team to try and track them down?" Kannon inquired.
40"There's no need, Kannon," Schneizel smiled. "The only place they could be headed is South America," Schneizel said, but his eyes were distant as he formulated a plan. "Kannon, would you be so kind as to open a channel to General Tohdoh?"
40"Of course, Prince Schneizel," Kannon said before giving the order to contact the UFN commander-in-chief.
40Within minutes, the visage of General Tohdoh appeared on the main viewscreen of the Thor.
40"What is it, Schneizel?" Tohdoh was apparently not happy to be bothered by him in the early morning hours of Japan.
40Schneizel stood up. "Please forgive this intrusion, General, but I have pressing news."
40"Continue," Tohdoh nodded slightly giving his approval.
40Schneizel put on a sad expression. "It would appear my dear sister Cornelia has finally begun to make her move. We have confirmed that it was indeed her forces which attacked us earlier today, and even now, she may be planning her next attempt to take control of the massive sakuradite deposit we found here in Antarctica." The prince lifted his chin slightly. "If we don't do something quickly, we may find ourselves at a disadvantage against her should she obtain the sakuradite deposits here and thus be able to construct a massive army of new KnightMares and aerial warships. Britannia could handle this on its own, but in the interests of international cooperation, I thought it best to contact the UFN c-in-c and request his permission."
40Tohdoh had a stone expression. "I can't give you that authority at this moment. However, I can call an emergency meeting of the UFN general assembly via satellite link and call for a vote on military action. It may take a few days for them to iron out their concerns over this, but I can assure you they will act faster if you give me some proof of what you claim."
40"I will have all of the available data compiled and transmitted to you as soon as possible, General," Schneizel smiled. "I do hope the UFN acts quickly. If we can stop Cornelia before she can rout us from our position here, then we may avert unnecessary conflict."
40"I'll contact you as soon as I've gotten word from the general assembly; Tohdoh out." The general's face vanished from the screen.
40"How are we going to provide him with that kind of data?" Kannon asked.
40"I doubt we'll have to," Schneizel snickered. "Tohdoh is cautious, a man driven to a certain extent by a sense of honor and duty that is rivaled only by his personal ambition. He'll tell the UFN general assembly everything I told him, even without concrete proof, and when he does, the avarice of the representatives of the various member countries of the UFN will be enflamed at the mere thought of Cornelia taking control of a massive sakuradite deposit. They'll most likely debate for no more than a few hours before they reach a decision to secure this site."
40"But won't they send the Black Knights?" Kannon didn't follow Schneizel's thinking.
40"Yes, they will," the prince smirked as he brought up a digital representation of the lower hemisphere of the Earth. Schneizel highlighted cities on the South African and Australian continents. "However, it will take them no less than four days to gather enough of their forces together from the closest Black Knight bases: the Australian base at Sydney and the base at Cape Town, South Africa."
40"And by that time, my people will be ready," Sthenno said as she walked onto the bridge with a man dressed in the same style of clothing she wore.
40"A companion of yours, milady?" Schneizel asked as he bowed.
40"This immortal god's name is Hephaestus," Sthenno said with a haughty look. "He is what I believe you would call a scientist or engineer. I have given him your language through the use of Tongues and thus he can understand and speak with you."
40"Now there are two of them," Kannon whispered to Schneizel.
40"Far more than that, boy," Hephaestus said to him as he hobbled onto the bridge. "I have managed to revive Euryale, Heracles, Jason and a legion of Spartans as well as their Automatos as per Sthenno's request."
40"Automatos?” Schneizel inquired with a befuddled look.
40"You call them KnightMares," Sthenno tittered. "Ours are no less terrifying or any less powerful."
40"But they do consume a great deal of the Golden Apple," Hephaestus told them.
40"Golden Apple?" Kannon asked.
40"Sakuradite," Sthenno laughed. "Your people apparently cut this precious stone into cubes, whereas we have a more efficient process by which we cut the refined and purified element into a roughly apple-like shape. It provides our Automatos with more unique abilities and a higher performance output than your comparatively simplistic KnightMare machines, but more of the element is needed to make a totally virgin Golden Apple."
40“Your Frames sound impressive,” Schneizel smiled. “However, we shall need to capture the airship Bangkok before she leaves Sydney if we are to have transport for your…Automatos.”
40“That will not be necessary,” Hephaestus told him. “Your people have almost completely thawed out the Argo and her crew. The Argo is a far more capable vessel than any of your aerial warships.”
40“Even so, we’ll still need at least another airship to launch our three-pronged assault,” Kannon interjected.
40Sthenno studied the map on the overhead viewscreen. “The prince’s manservant is correct.” She turned to her fellow god. “Hephaestus, I want you to awaken Medusa and Scylla, and prepare the Gorgon, Charybdis, and the underwater warship Kraken for battle.”
40“What?” Hephaestus blurted out. “I’ve already begun unearthing two of the Colossi class Automatos, the Helios and the Talos; what need do you have for two Titan class Automatos and the mightiest submersible we have?”
40“We need them to crush this United Federation of Nations and secure the deposits of the Golden…” Sthenno put on a crooked smile as she changed her thought mid-sentence. “…the sakuradite that is within the lower hemisphere of Terra.”
40“But if Athena knew you were using them without her…” Hephaestus started to say.
40“She won’t,” Sthenno snapped at him. “Not until after we’ve conquered the lower regions of the world and she is then awakened from her long sleep.”
40Hephaestus asked her with a stern look, “Are you therefore taking full responsibility for these actions, Sthenno?”
40“I am,” she replied with venom.


* * *

40The KnightMare Lancelot flew over the top of the Emerald Queen in the light of the setting sun. Suzaku piloted his machine towards the stern of the ship where the helipad jutted from the craft toward the rear.
40“Who’s that?” he said aloud to himself as he caught a glimpse of a pink-haired female figure in a flowing white dress standing at the edge of the landing platform.
40He radioed the bridge of the ship. “Emerald Queen control, we have an unidentified person on the flight deck, over.”
40There was only static in reply.
40“Control, come in,” Suzaku said over the channel as he flew the Lancelot down towards the figure on the landing pad. Her silhouette disturbed him.
40Suzaku had a feeling of dread as he landed his KnightMare on the deck. He opened his hatch and slid down the rope ladder of his machine. The last embers of light of the sunset bathed his white Devicer suit in a bloodred hue as he ran towards the figure with an urgency that bothered him.
40“Who are you?” he asked as he came before the person who stood at the edge of the ship.
40The twilight’s rays were now behind her, exposing the bloodstains that drenched her dress and the machinegun that she held in her hand. Her long, flowing, pink hair waved slightly in the ocean breeze.
40Suzaku stood staring in shock and awe at the angelic face of the woman he loved, a woman he thought was dead.
40“Oh, it’s you,” she said as she smiled at him.
40He wanted to speak but his throat betrayed him, and while his mouth opened no sound escaped. Suddenly his left arm rose up of its own accord, clothed in the garments of Zero with pistol in hand, and fired at her. The bullet penetrated through her heart.
40“Suzaku, why?” she asked as she fell backwards off the edge of the warship.
40“EUPHIE!!!” Suzaku screamed as he sat up straight in the sweat drenched sheets of his bed.
40The door to his room closed.
40"Who's there?" Suzaku demanded as he bolted out of bed and rushed to grab the mask of Zero. He donned the helmet as quickly as he could manage as he threw his cape over his naked body and rushed out of the room.
40Suzaku saw a shadow turn a corner down the darkened hall of the corridor.
40He gave chase, his cape flowing behind him as he absentmindedly streaked through the halls of the ship after the unknown spy who had been inside the threshold of his room.
40They saw me and heard my voice, but how could they have gotten access to my room? It was locked. Was it Nunnally? He rounded the corner and saw the silhouette walk into one of the guest room suites.
40It's Kaguya, it has to be, he thought with anger as he bolted into the room and flipped on the light. The automatic door closed swiftly behind him and caught hold of the hem of this cloak, ripping it from his body.
40Lying in bed, Jiang Lihua sat up and rubbed her eyes as she turned to see whomever it was that had entered her room. Her lids opened wide with horror upon seeing Zero, naked from his mask downwards, standing in the entrance to her room.
40"AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" the Tianzi screamed.
40Suzaku stumbled as he tripped over his cloak and went face first into the door as he tried to vacate her room as quickly as possible.
40Lihua wailed, "GUARDS! COME QUICKLY! THERE'S A NAKED MAN IN MY ROOM!"
40Suzaku heard muffled voices and footsteps on the deck above as he frantically got the door open, and with his cloak hastily thrown over his shoulder, he bolted out of the suite.
40He barely made it to the corner of the hallway when the guards reached Lihua who had come to the threshold of her cabin.
40"You there, STOP!" the lead man called out as Suzaku sprinted for his own room.
40He could hear one of the other night watchmen asking Lihua what the intruder looked like. "I dunno..." she said barely awake from sleep, "he was just...there...and NAKED!" Suzaku heard her say through tears.
40Oh man, I hope she was too asleep to recognize this mask! he thought as he made his way to his stateroom and shut the door; he locked it quickly.
40"This way, men," Suzaku heard one of the guards say as they rushed down the hall. "He may try to jump overboard," another said as they passed by his chamber; checking the locks of the doors as they did so.
40Suzaku took off the mask of Zero, leaned back against the soothing cold of the metal door behind him, and shut his eyes. "Great...just great, what else could go wrong?"


* * *

40"Attention, people of the world!" Milly Ashford yelled in her jovial tone into her headphone mic as she smiled at the lens of the TV camera that the cameraman in front of her held upon his shoulder. "I'm Mrs. Milly Ashford, CEO and special reporter for the Tokyo Broadcasting Channel's coverage of the 4th annual International KnightMare Frame Competition, coming to you live from the bridge of the newly recommissioned aerial battleship Ikaruga high over the Coral Sea, and less than twenty-four hours from the start of the Greatest Competition on Earth."
40The camera view paned back showing the whole of the bridge of the aerial warship.
40"Standing here with me now is the new commander of the Ikaruga, Captain Nagisa Chiba. So, Captain, tell me, is it true that you and General Kyoshiro Tohdoh are in love?"
40"Um...pardon me?" Nagisa was stunned as Milly leaned in towards her.
40"Oh, c’mon, people tell me the two of you have been secretly in love since the end of the war. Is that true?" Milly cooed.
40"Same old Milly," Nunnally smiled as she turned the volume of the TV down. The monitor that bore Milly's jubilant image happily interrogating a shocked Nagisa Chiba was at the far end of the VIP lounge where Kaguya Sumeragi, Jiang Lihua, and Nunnally vi. Britannia sat at a large oval table in the center of the room eating breakfast and drinking orange juice.
40"Are your eggs and sausage to your liking, Lihua?" Nunnally asked with concern over her friend's comfort.
40"They’re okay," Lihua replied as she looked down at the long tube of meat on her plate as if it were some kind of monstrous beast.
40Kaguya grinned. "I'd say after last night she's had enough of eggs and sausage to last her a lifetime."
40Lihua pouted, "Kaguya!"
40"Ms. Sumeragi!" Nunnally held back a smile as she tried to scold her friend.
40"Speaking of eggs and sausage," Kaguya snickered as Zero entered the room.
40Lihua eyed him viciously.
40Nunnally cleared the giggle that rose up in her throat with a mock cough. "Good morning, Zero."
40"Good morning, Empress Nunnally, Lady Kaguya, Empress Jiang Lihua," Suzaku said with a bow.
40Sumeragi's face was flushed red as she controlled herself. "Did you hear we had a...disturbance on board last night?"
40"No, I hadn't heard." He told her the truth; no one had spoken to him of the events from the night before.
40Nunnally maintained her composure as a smirk formed on Kaguya's face. "It would seem a man entered Jiang's room just after one am this morning."
40Suzaku started to worry whether or not Lihua had recognized him. "Did they catch this intruder?"
40Nunnally tried to glare at Zero to no avail. "Only on the surveillance video."
40"We couldn't see his face, but everything else was pretty clear!" Kaguya said through her hands as she tried to hide the smile that crossed her face from ear to ear. She closed her eyes as she giggled uncontrollably.
40Nunnally lost it and burst out laughing. "Zero, what on Earth were you doing?"
40Suzaku was too embarrassed to speak.
40Sumeragi's eyes were closed as she hid her mouth with her hands and her shoulders shook from laughter. She spoke between spasms of giggling, "I feel so much safer now that I know that the halls of this ship are patrolled by Zero, Exhibitionist for Justice." She snorted involuntarily. "No enemy would dare show his face to us on this voyage for fear of what he might be exposed to." She emphasized the word exposed.
40Suzaku felt as small as any person could at that moment. Not only had he been caught streaking through the halls of the Emerald Queen in the wee hours of the morning, but he had accidentally flashed Jiang Lihua in the process of trying to catch whomever it was that had entered his room and heard whatever it was he may have said in his sleep. Now was not the time to try and explain himself; he knew that, but he also had to face up to his mistake and apologize to the Tianzi.
40He turned to Lihua. "Empress Jiang Lihua, I have no excuse for my actions. I beg your forgiveness."
40The Tianzi threw the sausage from her plate at Zero.
40The piece of meat hit the center of his mask where the honey based sauce it had been smothered in caused it to stick to the helmet.
40Kaguya threw her head back and laughed hysterically.
40“Oh, my…” Nunnally said as she put her left hand over the smirk on her face and chuckled involuntarily.
40"How do you like having one of those shoved in your face?" Jiang asked him as a grin formed on her mouth. "I don't know exactly what you were doing, Zero, but I believe you entered my room by mistake, therefore I forgive you. However, the next time you try to sneak into your lover's room at night, be sure it's their room before you enter and bare all." The Tianzi made up her mind as to why Zero had burst into her chambers; to her, it was to surprise a secret lover of his. Such was the fantasy of a nineteen-year-old girl who'd led a sheltered childhood away from the world, but it was a dream that she hoped would someday be fulfilled by a certain person she loved and admired, a certain man named Li Xingke.
40Suzaku plucked the sausage from the front of his mask and placed the piece of meat on the table in front of him as he turned to Nunnally. "Will you need me for anything further, milady?"
40The tremors of laughter subsided in Nunnally as she composed herself and wiped the tears of mirth from her eyes. "No, Zero, I do not require anything of you right now. You’ve already made our morning quite enjoyable, and for that I thank you. However, I wish to speak to you in private at your earliest convenience later this afternoon to discuss what it is you were doing last night. The captain of this vessel deserves an explanation over what he called your new Order of the Bare Nights.” Kaguya doubled over, holding her stomach from laughing so hard as Nunnally continued, “Which I promised earlier this morning that I'd give him as soon as I learned what had happened from you."
40"As you wish, milady." Zero bowed, and with that, Suzaku turned on his heel and left the lounge as fast as his feet would take him.


* * *

40The afternoon rays of the sun shone through the windows of the executive suite at the top of the UFN Japan Headquarters as General Kyoshiro Tohdoh stood staring down at the people on the streets below while he waited for a communiqué from his counterpart, Li Xingke.
40He didn’t have to wait long before the beeper on the viewscreen, which nearly covered one whole wall of his office, started beeping.
40Tohdoh picked up the remote control of the device from his desk and pressed one of its buttons. Xingke’s image appeared on the screen instantly.
40“Greetings, General Tohdoh,” Li said with indifference.
40Kyoshiro got right down to business. “I called you this morning to discuss the Antarctica situation.”
40“I’ve received a briefing on the apparent terrorist activity in that region,” Xingke raised an eyebrow, “but I do not believe Schneizel. He can’t be trusted.”
40“I agree,” Tohdoh told him.
40“Then why are you pressing ahead with a call for our forces to attack Generalissimo Caesaro and her forces in South America?” Li wasn’t sure what the UFN would gain by helping the Britannian prince.
40Tohdoh’s face was a mask of stoicism as he responded, “Because I also intend to remove Schneizel as soon as the Black Knights have taken control of the sakuradite deposit on the Antarctic continent.”
40“You plan on killing two birds with one political stone, eh?” Xingke snickered.
40“Precisely.” Tohdoh allowed a grin to cross his lips.
40“And what of Nunnally Britannia?” Li inquired.
40“I would never think to move against her; of all of her Britannian kin, she is by far the most trustworthy I’ve met.” Tohdoh frowned. “Nor would I ever think to betray her, not after what we did to her brother. I owe her that much.”
40“But her brother, Zero, used his power against us,” Xingke suggested. “How do we know that his sister doesn’t also possess this power and has just not yet decided to use it?”
40"It is highly unlikely that Nunnally Britannia possesses such a power," Tohdoh stated with a firm look. "It was my understanding from our dealings with Schneizel that the woman C.C. gave his brother the power of Geass. Besides, both Lady Kaguya and your Empress are quite fond of Empress Nunnally. I doubt the Tianzi would be very pleased with you if she knew you had designs against her newfound friend."
40"Your point is well made, Tohdoh," Xingke grumbled. "Very well, I will make arrangements to back up your plans to conquer Cornelia's territory and depose Chancellor Schneizel. When the UFN General Assembly requests my assessment of the situation, I will present the case that Cornelia is a threat to the peace of the world."
40"Very good," Kyoshiro said. "And when Schneizel fails to provide me with sufficient proof of the so-called attack on his forces, the deaths of the Yamato no Orochi will be on his head, and I will move to have him arrested as an international war criminal and executed upon his conviction."
40“You seem to have thought this through to conclusion,” Li Xingke stated with a smirk.
40“Actually, I’ve been formulating a plan to remove Schneizel and take down Cornelia since the Britannians finished building the Thor and Cornelia took control of the South American continent.” Tohdoh gave Li a firm look. “If we don’t stop these two here and now, they may be able to rebuild the Britannian spirit of conquest that Lelouch broke. Their sense of a Divine Right of Rulership has already begun to manifest itself in the lower ranks of their government, many of which are calling for a rebuilding of the Knights of the Round and the feudal class system.”
40"Do you really believe that Cornelia wishes to rebuild the Britannian Empire?" Li Xingke was skeptical about Kyoshiro's assessment of the former princess.
40"I do," he stated flatly. "Cornelia has a superiority complex much in the same way that Schneizel had in the past and I believe still has. It is for this reason that I've lobbied so hard to get the Ikaruga put back into service. We need aerial-battleships and...we will need FLEIJA."
40"What!" Xingke was mortified. "Are you serious, Tohdoh? You'd bring back that horrible weapon?"
40"I don't need to bring it back." He looked hard at Li. "The following information needs to stay between you and me. Understood?"
40"Of course, General Tohdoh." Xingke was intrigued.
40"The original model of Dr. Lloyd Asplund's Lancelot of the Lake 10th-generation KnightMare Frame is housed in the armistice museum in Kyoto as an example of the last of the Lancelot series. Unknown to nearly everyone who passes by that machine daily, the large tubular bazooka's on its back each contain a FLEIJA weapon. You see, the Lancelot of the Lake was contracted to be a Ballistic Assault KnightMare (BAM) for use by the Black Knights as a deterrent to any other country developing a FLEIJA, namely Cornelia's new South American Principality."
40"I'm surprised the Britannians allowed Japan to keep such a weapon." Li was surprised.
40"It was Nunnally Britannia that demanded we keep the KnightMare armed with its FLEIJA weapons due to her complete disdain for such weapons. She implored us to disarm and destroy both of the warheads, but the UFN council refused; instead, we agreed to allow Zero to keep the key to the Lancelot of the Lake which, in theory, prevents us from using the machine."
40"Zero has it? Isn't that dangerous considering we don't know who this new Zero is?" Xingke disliked imposters, and that is precisely how he viewed this new Zero, as a cheap imitation.
40Tohdoh smirked, "No, I don't think so. This new Zero is weak and suffers from a guilt complex in my assessment. I highly doubt he'll ever have the courage to use the Lancelot of the Lake.”
40"You have some idea of who he is?" Li was shocked.
40"I have my suspicions of who he is, and while I see him as very dangerous, I don't think he'll ever use a FLEIJA weapon again," Tohdoh said.
40"Again?" Xingke asked.
40Kyoshiro changed the direction of the conversation. "The only problem I see for us is that the key for the KnightMare is nowhere to be found outside of Zero's person. Our spies and operatives in Britannia have looked for it everywhere. Either Lloyd took it with him to Brazil, or Zero has it on his person at all times. However, we may soon be able to use the FLEIJA weapons without the KnightMare Frame. Our scientists here in Kyoto believe they've unraveled Nina Einstein's mathematical formula. We may be able to fabricate a firing mechanism soon should we need one against Cornelia and Schneizel. Then we can remove the warheads from the Lancelot of the Lake and use them in a launcher that does not require that machine to arm and fire them."
40Xingke was not finished with the subject of Zero. "I assume that you intend to deal with Zero at some point?"
40"Yes," Tohdoh said with a frown. "And once he is swept aside, nothing will stop the Asian Pacific Alliance from becoming a reality."


* * *

40"Whoa, is that the Guren Mark II?" Lena asked Akira as the four top pilots of the Japan Jaguars walked along the museum side of the hangar of the Ikaruga.
40"Actually, that's an Akatsuki rebuilt to look and operate like the original Guren," Gregor informed her.
40"So, the armaments are the same?" Mika inquired.
40"Yep," Akira told her as they all stared at the red KnightMare.
40Mika laughed, "So, then there's only one Devicer that could ever pilot it."
40"I'd give it a shot," Gregor said.
40"And kill yourself in the process," Lena jibbed him.
40Normally Mika and Akira would be at each others throats about something after spending a few minutes together, but right now they were in the presence of the KnightMares of the original Black Knights and thus they were too enthralled to think about much else at the moment.
40"What about this one? Which one is this?" Lena stood before a large black KnightMare Frame flanked on both sides by two Type-3Fs.
40"That one is the reconstructed Zangetsu...that was General Tohdoh's KnightMare Frame." Gregor looked at it longingly. "It nearly defeated the Britannian KnightMare Lancelot during the last major battle of the Rebellion."
40"Yah, but it was Captain Kozuki in the Guren Seiten that kicked that Britannian bastard's butt in the end," Mika chuckled.
40"The other four were the KnightMares of the Four Holy Swords," Akira said.
40"This one looks really interesting." Mika tugged at Akira's sleeve towards the large black and yellow machine. She had not been her usual snobbish self since Akira nearly beat Villetta the day before; she had become nice all of a sudden. Gregor told Akira it was probably because Mika was nervous about the competition, but Lena warned him that maybe she was coming on to him.
40"I've never seen this one in any of the technical manuals or historical documentation of the KnightMares of the Black Knights," Gregor said perplexed as he walked in front of the large mecha.
40"And you won't," a stern-voiced woman said from behind them.
40"Captain Chiba!" Lena blurted out as the four of them came to attention. "It's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am."
40"At ease, all of you," Nagisa said with a smile.
40"What brings you down here, Captain?" Lena inquired.
40"Please, call me Nagisa," she laughed. "And it's Milly Ashford that's driven me down here. That woman is relentless...she's like a walking Enquirer."
40"Yah, I saw some of her interview with you," Lena said. "It was kinda...well...odd."
40"Nosey is how I'd put it," Mika said with her nose in the air.
40"Captain...I mean, Ms. Nagisa, what is with this black KnightMare Frame? There's no placard in front of it, and it's not any kind I've ever seen before." Gregor hoped she'd share what she knew of the machine.
40"That's a very special KnightMare, for a very special pilot." Chiba had a distant look as her eyes moved over the form of the black KnightMare Frame.
40"Was that one of Captain Kozuki's KnightMares?" Lena inquired.
40Nagisa chortled, "No, that KnightMare is a replica of a machine that was destroyed during the last battle of the war. General Tohdoh himself ordered Rakshata Chawla to rebuild a new one to honor the Devicer who piloted it as a way to repay our debt to him by keeping his memory in this simple but anonymous way."
40"Who was its pilot?" Akira's curiosity was peaked. He knew the names of nearly every Devicer of the Rebellion and their machines, but he knew nothing of this one.
40Chiba regarded the four of them with a warm smile. "My young friends, the Devicer of this particular KnightMare had to be both an exceptional pilot and tactician. This machine required more than just the raw talent of a gifted driver or even the experience of a seasoned veteran; it required a talent that few people possess. I doubt you'd believe me if I told you who the Devicer of this machine was."
40"Was it you, Ms. Chiba?" Lena asked.
40Nagisa laughed, "No, it was not me." She turned and looked up at the head of the mecha. "This KnightMare was Zero's."
40The four Jaguars stared at her in awe for a moment.
40"This was Zero's machine?" Akira looked at the KnightMare with reverence.
40"Wow," Lena remarked as she looked up at the large KnightMare.
40"What was its name?" Gregor asked, anxious to know the title of the KnightMare piloted by the legendary Zero of the Rebellion against Britannia."
40"This KnightMare's name is Shinkirou," Nagisa said with a sad smile.

Kodai Okuda
09-10-2010, 07:38 AM
Turn Four: Competition

40“For as long as man has had civilization there have been contests between warriors. Tests of strength, endurance, and skill in battle for the purpose of proving the immeasurable value of veterans while at the same time sharpening the abilities of the next generation in preparation for the constant specter of war. The International KnightMare Competition was no different. It was a true test of a Devicer’s abilities as a KnightMare pilot, but what made the 4th annual competition so special was that it was the Olympiad of its day and the gods of Olympus took notice.” —Excerpt from an interview with Major Rivalz Ashford of the Order of the Black Knights (Japan division) in the International Political Forecaster Magazine, dated November 14th, 2024 a.t.b.

40The roar of the crowd in the massive Sydney stadium thundered into the depths of the KnightMare hangars below it. Villetta Nu and her team of Japan Jaguars walked towards their designated hangar bay where fifteen Akatsuki model KnightMare Frames (of various types) sat in their respective gantries awaiting their Devicers.
40Villetta stopped the troop in the center of the bay.
40“Alright, listen up; all of you have made me proud these past three days, but these are the last two days of the competition and the final matches. All of Japan is counting on you and rooting for you, especially Captain Chiba who’s watched your progress with admiration as you beat the Russian Cossacks yesterday in the float racing course, and whipped the German Panzer team in the KnightMare wrestling the day before, and trumped the Australian Outlanders in the underwater match on your first day here. But that was just a warm up for these last two crucial days. Today we begin the combat portion of the competition. This is where fully armed KnightMares go head-to-head against each other until only one team is left standing. Those of you who will compete today will need to pull together everything you have learned from the last three days and use it to beat not one, but every single other team here that you’re going up against. On this final stretch of the competition, each team is broken up into four assault groups by their respective coach for a game of capture the flag in four different battlegrounds. Each member of an assault group is able to move onto the next match if his KnightMare survives each course. The object is for each assault group to survive with as many KnightMares as possible to gain the advantage in numbers and thus strength in subsequent matches. In other words, if say three of our KnightMares from the first match survive, then we’ll have eight KnightMares in the second match. If any one team losses all of the KnightMares of their assault group in any one match, then their whole team is out of the competition, so none of you can afford to fail in this. Are you all ready?”
40The Jaguars nodded in unison.
40“Good,” Villetta Nu smiled, “then let’s get this show started.”
40“Toshiro, Kanada, Yumi, Maya, and Bron, I’m calling your assault group the Edo group.” Villetta eyed the members of her varsity team who excelled in built-up area operations. “You’re going to make up our first line of defense against Britannia’s Templar Knights in the urban combat course match. I want you to use standard Akatsuki types against them, so get into the number 14 through 18 machines and arm them with one autocannon and one MVS each.”
40“Yes, ma’am,” they said in unison as the five pilots headed for their machines.
40“Ichiro, Yoshiro, Reiji, Matsuda, and Hikaru, you’ll make up the Grenadier assault group,” Villetta Nu said to the five Devicers. “You’re in the long-range competition course match where we’re supposed to go up against the French Falchon Team, assuming their first team survives the urban course. If not, we’ll be matched to another team. I want the five of you to pilot Akatsuki numbers 1 to 5 and arm them with one grenade launcher, one bazooka launcher, and a pair of eight-shot missile packs each.”
40“Yes, coach,” the five of them said together as they raced off for their machines.
40“Collin, Henry, Yuki, Bella, and Cera, you’ll comprise the Dueler assault group for the close-quarters combat match,” Villetta told them as she seemed to ponder the weapon selection. “Each of you will arm your KnightMares with two MVS and one lance.” The five members of the Dueler team nodded and took off towards their machines.
40Lena looked around the bay. “Mrs. Nu, there aren’t any other KnightMare Frames.”
40“Yah, what happened to our machines?” Gregor inquired.
40Villetta addressed the five remaining pilots. “You five are the best Devicers on this team, so I’ve saved you for the Decisive Battle match tomorrow. That match is between two or more assault groups of flight-capable KnightMare Frames launched from aerial warships. The object of the match is for at least one of your KnightMares to board your opponent’s aerial warship and remain on it for sixty seconds without being knocked off. After the time has elapsed, your opponent’s airship is considered destroyed and thus their team loses.
40Over the last three International Competitions there have only been at most two teams that have survived this match in a tie victory. However, it is possible for three or even four of the twenty assault groups competing in this final contest to win this match together and share a victory. In any event, your main objective should be to take down your opponents’ KnightMare Frames first, then proceed to their ship or ships. Watch out for assault groups which try to gang up on other individual groups just to eliminate them first. The European teams are notorious for this, which is how two teams won last year. It was France and Germany who shared the victory by mutually conceding to each other after knocking out all of the other teams. And don't worry about the airships themselves, they won't fire on you; all you have to do to score a victory is land on the ship and remain there for the one full minute without getting knocked off by an enemy KnightMare from one of the other teams, then you can take off for your next target.”
40“That seems pretty hard, Mrs. Nu,” Mika lamented. “If we lose even a few members of our team, we’ll be overwhelmed by the other teams.”
40“That’s the idea,” Villetta smirked. “It’s supposed to force you to react both as a group and individually to simulate real aerial combat.”
40Gregor smirked, “So, that’s why it's so important for the teams in the matches before this one to survive. I take it that their ranks can be added to the last assault group’s for this final match.”
40“Yes,” Villetta replied with a serious expression, “but keep in mind that most, if not all, of the KnightMares which make it through to join you in the last stage will be damaged from today’s contests. We are not allowed to repair them for tomorrow’s match except to allow for flight, and since the sensitivity of the ejection units has been raised to the maximum, your ejection system will activate with far less damage than you’d incur in real combat. Thus the KnightMares damaged today will likely be knocked out of tomorrow’s match very quickly.”
40“Is that why the bullets and missiles of our projectile weapons have been reduced in power?” Tetsuo, the fifth member of the assault group, asked, referring to the sensitivity of the KnightMares.
40"Precisely," Villetta smirked. "The lethality of the projectile weapons is nil; they won't penetrate the armor of any KnightMare here. However, they do contain a signal warhead, which will tell the computer of your KnightMare Frame that its energy has been drained by a certain percentage. The energy filler of your machines are thus technically drained with each hit, so avoid getting shot, or else you could find yourself out of energy really quick."
40"So, what KnightMares are we flying, Mrs. Nu?" Akira inquired.
40Villetta gave him a warm smile. "Captain Chiba has requested that since this is the fourth International Competition to take place and the first Decisive Battle match that the newly recommissioned Ikaruga is taking part in," she blushed, "which all of you know was once the home of the original Black Knights, Nagisa thought that you five should pilot the Zangetsu and the Type-3F Gekkas of the Four Holy Swords."
40Gregor hung his broad shoulders low. "Oh, yah, no pressure!"
40Mika was stunned. "What?"
40Lena jumped. "Yah! We're going to be the new Four Holy Swords!"
40"Great, Lena," Tetsuo lamented. "Can you imagine the shame we'll suffer if we fail?"
40Akira raised his chin. "We won't."


* * *

40"Anybody see anything on their long-range sensors?" Kallen inquired as their KnightMares flew over the southern tip of South America in fighter mode at moderate speed to conserve energy. They had flown for a full day and night and stopped for another day and a half in Cape Horn to rest and replenish themselves with fresh water and rations that were stored in the emergency kits of their fighters. Now they were in the air again and headed for the nearest place that could refuel their machines.
40"Just fishing boats and small villages, Captain," Tamaki replied with a sigh as they flew over the eastern coastline of Argentina at dangerously low altitude.
40"What's our energy filler status look like?" Gino asked.
40"We should have about four, maybe five, minutes of power left," Anya stated in her monotone as she kept watch on the output of each of the Type-21s via one of her small monitors in the cockpit.
40"The closest major city to us is Buenos Ares; that's about 2200 kilometers," Kallen told them. "At our current heading and speed, we should be able to just barely make it there in about three and a half minutes."
40"That's cutting it pretty close, Captain," Tamaki grumbled.
40"Yah, but we don't have any choice," Gino told him. "If we don't acquire new energy fillers soon, we'll be out of power and stuck in Cornelia's neck of the woods."
40"Literally, by the looks of the forest areas down there," Kallen said as she visually scanned the treetop canopy below them for any signs of anti-KnightMare weapons.
40"Enemy units at four-o'clock!" Anya called out over the radio.
40"Looks like six Vincent Ward types equipped with flight-packs and autocannon gunpods," Gino read off the data from his attack computer.
40"We should try to avoid them if we..." Kallen started to say before a salvo of autocannon fire zipped past her Type-21S. Damn it! We don't have enough power for a confrontation.
40"There's only one way we can avoid them, Captain!" Gino barked. "We have to go supersonic NOW!"
40"But that will drain our energy fillers almost completely, and we won't be able to fight," Tamaki whined.
40"We won't last long anyway, and we might be captured or killed if we stay and fight with our energy so low," Anya explained.
40"Alright, go to supersonic speed now!" Kallen ordered them as she squeezed her graviton-impeller's super-cruise button on the control stick.
40The four Type-21s boosted forward with sonic booms trailing them, the sudden acceleration causing the four Devicers to be pushed back into the seats of their cockpits as the g-forces kicked in.
40Their graviton-impellers hummed at full throttle for two minutes, then went dead.
40"We don't have enough power left to maintain supersonic speed," Anya announced as the four Type-21s started to fall from the sky. "In fact, it would seem we have less than a minute of energy left each."
40"Transform into KnightMare mode if you can and glide down towards the trees, and try to avoid coming down too close to that town up ahead," Kallen told them as her Shogun transformed into KnightMare mode.
40The other three members of the Yamato no Orochi were able to do likewise and guided their machines down with Kallen's towards a thick mesh of strong trees that jutted out above the forest.
40The four Type-21 KnightMares crashed through the thick jungle, smashing branches and tearing through vines as they plummeted to the floor of the woods below. Within a few seconds, the four machines came to a crashing halt on the soft earth of the forest.


* * *

40“Where the heck are we?” Tamaki asked as he joined up with his three companions who had disembarked from their KnightMares.
40“About 225 kilometers from Buenos Ares, near the small city of Azul,” Anya told him nonchalantly.
40“How far are we from Azul?” Gino asked the pink-haired girl.
40“About twenty kilometers to the southwest of the city,” she replied looking down at the digital compass on her wrist.
40"Which means if we start out now, we should reach the city by nightfall," Kallen said as she unpacked the emergency gear from her Shogun KnightMare's left leg compartment. The survival equipment consisted of a small backpack with a seven (now five-and-a-half) day supply of food, a survival knife with a fourteen-inch blade and blade sharpening sheath, a one-liter plastic water canteen with purification tablets for four bottles worth, an automatic pistol with two extra magazines, a first aid kit, basic camp gear (all weather matches, eating utensils, a small flashlight, and a two-way short-range radio), and an all-weather sleeping bag.
40"Man, it's hot and humid here," Tamaki blurted out as he donned his pack. "It must be like thirty-seven degrees out here."
40Gino gave Tamaki a puzzled look. "Thirty-seven degrees? I thought you said it was hot?"
40Kallen laughed, "He means Celsius, Gino."
40Gino put his hand on the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Oh, yah...guess he would, you two being from Japan."
40Tamaki just shook his head as he passed Gino. "And they say I'm not so smart."
40"You aren't," Kallen giggled. "But you've got guts, and guts are enough, old man."
40"OLD MAN!" Tamaki gave her a hurt expression. "After all we've been through."
40"Well, you are older than I am," Kallen snickered.
40Tamaki defended himself. "By what? Like a couple a years?"
40"I think it's more than a couple," Kallen taunted him with a wink.
40"We may want to get going," Anya said. "There are bound to be patrols looking for us out here. If we remain here, we may be discovered."
40"She's right; we should get moving," Gino concurred.
40"What about our KnightMares?" Tamaki asked.
40"We'll just have to hope no one finds them until we make it back here," Kallen said. She didn't like leaving them anymore than he did, but they had no choice at the moment.
40With that, the four Black Knights walked off into the depths of the jungles of Argentina towards the city of Azul and whatever awaited them there.


* * *

40"Where exactly is the Black Knight task force now, General Tohdoh?" Li Xingke's image inquired on the laptop computer Kyoshiro had in the back seat of his personal limousine.
40His driver stopped the conveyance at a red light before Tohdoh replied, "The combined aerial and ocean South African and Australian Black Knight Corps are nearing the coast of Kerguelen Island in the South Indian Ocean. We plan on using Kerguelen Island as our primary base of operations to ensure that if Schneizel does have anything planned for us, he won't be able to inflict damage to all our forces at once."
40"You seem like you're already acting upon the assumption that Schneizel is lying." Xingke was cautious. "What if he's not?"
40"Then I'll apologize to him later." Tohdoh's tone was sarcastic.
40"How did the UFN council react when you first informed them of this situation?" Li raised an eyebrow as he asked.
40"With total panic," Kyoshiro replied in disgust.
40"None of them even questioned me when I told them that I had sent out the South African and Australian Corps to Kerguelen Island. In fact, I was complimented on my quick thinking." Tohdoh's expression was stone-cold. "The council has become so inundated with schemers and cutthroats that the very thought of someone else getting the proverbial jump on their personal interests frightens them to death."
40"And you think this situation will help clear out the corrupt elements of the UFN?" Xingke inquired.
40"If we can maneuver the situation to our advantage, we can split up the UFN government into a trilateral system of three major regions: the Asian-Pacific Alliance, the Britannian-Atlantic Alliance, and the Euro-African Alliance. In this way, we'll have three councils or houses of government instead of just one."
40"I see," Li said with a thin smile. "So, this new system you're proposing will impose a series of checks and balances within a three-tier government system...like a parliamentary system."
40"No...not a parliamentary system, a world constitutional republic," Tohdoh told him with conviction in his voice. "If we are to have a world peace that is not this simplistic state of a lack of all resistance to the power of government...if we are to have real peace in which all peoples can coexist without being persecuted by others through government...then we must balance the practice of the redistribution of wealth and resources with a redistribution of power back to the people from government, and not the other way around. We must craft a system by which all peoples have the right to be masters of their own destinies with inalienable human rights that cannot be stripped from them with the stroke of a political pen or the whim of a single council."
40"Who would have thought you'd become an idealist?" Xingke chortled.
40"I've lived long enough to have seen emperors, prime ministers, and now the UFN council all speak of freedom and of peace, yet all they've ever wrought is self-aggrandizement of their own power and wealth while our peoples have suffered because of it. It's not idealism that drives me to this conclusion, Xingke; it is the experience of a life as a warrior. I now understand what Zero, no Lelouch vi Britannia, tried to teach us. That democracy was only the beginning of a road to peace, not the end. I believe that he meant for us to go beyond this and to strip down and crush tyranny no matter where it existed or in what form, be it scientific-socialism, corporatism, fascism, feudalism, theocracy, or otherwise. Lelouch understood that states with absolute power become absolutely corrupt."
40"I agree," Li told him flatly. "But how do you plan to force such a change?"
40A harsh grin crossed Tohdoh's face. "I plan on using the symbol that people look to for hope...the Knight of Justice."
40"Zero?" Li was shocked. "Do you expect him to agree to your plan?"
40"Not at first." Kyoshiro said. "But if he's the kind of man I think he is, then he'll see that the next war has already begun, and the Britannians will soon go back to their old ways. The only real way to secure the peace he chose to defend when he took the life of the real Zero is to push for a diminished power of government and an increase in the power of the people."
40"What can I do to assist you in this endeavor, General?" Xingke asked.
40Tohdoh smiled devilishly. "All you have to do is listen, my friend."


* * *

40"They're almost here," Heracles said over the communicator of his Automatos, the Helios.
40The large machine stood atop Cape D'Estaing overlooking Christmas Harbour of Kerguelen Island. Its form was that of a giant bronze-colored battlerobot in a facsimile of Greek armor complete with a Greco-Roman-style helm that covered a mirrored silver-colored faceplate. Large, mechanical, angelic wings jutted out from the back of the mecha and flanked each side of the machine. In its left hand it held a massive bronze-colored mechanized club, and in the other, a round bronze-colored shield.
40"I know," Jason replied to him in their native Greek tongue, "I can see them." Jason sat within the cockpit of Talos, the twin Automatos of Helios. The primary difference between the two was in their weapons. Talos did not carry a club nor shield; instead, it had an adamantine sword in its right hand and a clawed gauntlet over its left arm.
40Both machines stood atop the peak as the snow rained down upon them.
40"This doesn't seem right, Jason," Heracles said. "We should go out and face them man-to-man in honorable combat, not just sit here and wait for Scylla to devour them with Charybdis and pick up the survivors afterwards."
40Jason thought for a moment before answering his friend and comrade. "I know, Heracles, but for now we must heed Sthenno's wishes. I know not why she confides in that prince of hers so heavily, but I do know this: I will not tolerate her insolent disregard for our code of honor for long. Hephaestus told me that once we've conquered the lower regions of the world that he is going to wake Athena and the others."
40"Let us hope for our sakes that he does," Heracles lamented. "I doubt we can trust the three sisters for long. After what happened with Medusa back in Tartarus the other day..."
40"You mean when Euryale resurrected her because the fools who thawed her ice cloak scorched her to death?" Jason let out a sarcastic laugh. "As much as I hate Medusa, I don't think that a sorceress of her stature deserved to be roasted like a frozen pig."
40"What of the poor man who was responsible?" Heracles asked sadly. "What was his name again?"
40"I believe it was Professor Cornwallis...or it was before Euryale beheaded him on the spot," Jason replied in disgust.
40"You'd think that Euryale would have spared the man considering she is a goddess with the power to resurrect champions and sorcerers," Heracles mused.
40"I think she killed the man first in one of her emotional outbursts, and then she resurrected Medusa," Jason corrected him.
40Heracles tittered, "How many times has she raised her sister from the dead?"
40"I have no idea," Jason snickered. "But one thing is for sure, Charon must be getting quite irate by now."
40"Indeed!" Heracles chuckled. "You'd think Medusa would learn not to get killed."
40"Or Euryale would just leave her dead..." Jason stopped speaking and looked out at the sea. A white flash of brilliant light lit up the horizon.
40Heracles' mood became serious. "Looks like it's begun."
40"Yes, it has," Jason said as his machine turned to face the legion of Spartan-class Automatos below him. He touched a holographic button on the display panel of his pilot's seat. "Attention, men, Scylla has begun her assault on the enemy; prepare your Automatos for flight, and remember we want as many captives as possible once she's finished, so try to disable their machines, not destroy them...we move out at once."


* * *

40The fleet of UFN warships drew close to the coastline of the Isle of Kerguelen.
40"Admiral Wagner, we're nearing our destination now. There's still no reply from our outpost base there, sir," a young male sailor said as the Australian Black Knight ocean warship rode through the turbulent waters of the South Indian Ocean.
40The admiral looked out towards the increasingly visible edge of the island coast. "Very well then, inform Air Marshal Mobatu of the African Aerial-Navy that we shall commence landing operations at once to secure our base here, and that he has permission to launch his Vincent Wards and Gareth KnightMare units to secure the airspace around the island."
40"Aye, sir," the young man replied.
40Within moments, flights of KnightMares began pouring out of the airships above the armada of surface warships.
40"Captain, I have a large underwater object that just appeared on my scope," the SONAR officer said frantically.
40"What is it?" the admiral asked.
40The man spoke quickly, "Judging by its size and speed, I'd say it's some kind of submarine, sir."
40"Launch depth charges..." The admiral never finished his sentence.
40In an instant, the waters below his fleet gave way to a maelstrom of massive proportions which drew down the fleet of Black Knight ships within seconds, causing the ships to collide with one another as they were pulled down.


* * *

40"Air Marshal Mobatu," an airman called out in a panic, "Admiral Wagner's fleet has been caught in a huge whirlpool."
40The man's aged features wrinkled in a frown. "How? There's no current in this area that can produce that kind of vortex."
40"I know, sir, but they're gone," the man replied in fear.
40"Air Marshal, our ventral RADAR is detecting a large metallic object at the center of the maelstrom," another airman blurted out.
40"Destroy it! Fire all Hadron Cannons at its position at once!" the air marshal ordered.
40The massive fleet of aerial ships showered the center of the whirlpool with a rain of Hadron beams from the main cannon of their vessels. The force of the converging beams exploded in a brilliant white light which was sucked into the vortex.
40"Did we hit it?" the air marshal inquired.
40"Aye, sir," the RADAR operator confirmed. "Direct hit to the...wait...there's something coming out of the...."
40A large wide-angle beam of silvery-white energy spewed up out of the maelstrom at the fleet of air warships, disintegrating the lot of them in one fell swoop.


* * *

40"The operation is a success, Prince Schneizel," Kannon smiled. "The entire Black Knight armada has been destroyed and Kerguelen Island is ours. Nearly two hundred KnightMares and their pilots have been captured by Jason and his forces."
40Schneizel looked out at the island ahead of them though the bridge viewports of the Thor. "Very good, Kannon; have the prisoners rounded up and brought to our landing zone without their KnightMares. I wish to address them all directly."
40“Your plan seems to have started quite well, my Prince,” Sthenno said as she waltzed onto the bridge and came over to stand next to where Schneizel sat.
40Schneizel stood up and bowed to her. “Thank you, milady. Would you care to join me as I start the next phase of this operation?”
40Sthenno put her hand over her mouth as she let out a wicked laugh. “I would love to, my Prince.”
40Schneizel took hold of her hand gently as Kannon looked on with an angry expression. “Prince Schneizel, shouldn’t we focus on the consolidation of our control of this island first?” Kannon pressed.
40Schneizel smiled at him. “That is precisely what I plan on doing, Kannon.”
40“Through Geass?” the yeoman inquired.
40“If necessary,” Schneizel said.
40“It will take some time for Jason and his men to herd the prisoners into the landing zone. Perhaps you should remain on the bridge until then,” Kannon stated with concern.
40“Oh?” Sthenno tittered. “Did you hear that, my Prince? We have some time before your new servants arrive. Let us retire to your chambers until they do, so that I may reward you for your victory here.” Sthenno rubbed her lithe voluptuous form onto Schneizel’s body.
40Schneizel blushed. “You are too kind, milady. I do not deserve such pleasures.”
40“Perhaps not, but you are a handsome prince who I find exciting in ways that the men of my people cannot cause to well up within me,” Sthenno cooed.
40Kannon burned with inner fury but kept his jealous hatred of this woman in check. “I’ll inform you when Jason has finished rounding them up.”
40Sthenno gave Kannon a victorious look. “See that you do not disturb us before that, boy, lest you suffer my wrath.”
40Schneizel smiled at her as he took her arm. “Come now, my Goddess Sthenno, let us all be friends here and not enemies. Perhaps you could invite Kannon to join us?”
40“Another time maybe.” Sthenno stared up into his eyes. “But right now I want you all to myself.”


* * *

40“Empress Nunnally, an aerial shuttle has arrived from Japan which demanded to land on the authority of the UFN,” the captain of the Emerald Queen said in a flustered tone as he spoke from the threshold of the ship's study to the three women that sat within.
40“What do they want, Captain McGovern?” Nunnally inquired.
40“The three of you,” Zhou Xianglin said as she pushed past Captain McGovern. Zhou wore the traditional dress of a warrior of the Chinese Federation with only one exception, the blue armband of an International Marshal of the UFN rested upon her left arm.
40“What is the meaning of this, Zhou Xianglin?” Empress Jiang Lihua demanded.
40“There has been…an incident which requires the immediate attention of all of the UFN council members. The three of you must come with me to the council headquarters in Kyoto, Japan immediately. We’ve no time to lose.”
40“What is going on here?” Zero asked as he walked into the room.
40“A dreadful thing,” Zhou said with a strained expression. “I’m happy to see you, Zero. Please get whatever things you feel you need and prepare to depart for Japan. You have been summoned by General Kyoshiro Tohdoh for an audience with him.”
40“Why Zero?” Nunnally started to protest.
40Xianglin held a stern expression as she answered, “Because we need the Knight of Justice to declare to the people of the world exactly why we need to go to war.”
40“WAR?” Kaguya spouted out in disbelief. “With who?”
40“It’s Cornelia, isn’t it?” Zero asked Zhou.
40Xianglin looked down at Nunnally with sadness in her eyes. “I’m sorry for you.”
40“I understand,” Nunnally reassured her. “We should depart at once.”
40Zhou Xianglin bowed. “Thank you, Empress Nunnally vi Britannia.”


* * *

40“Now we’re on guard detail?” Heracles grumbled as their force of Automatos guarded the group of two hundred Black Knight Devicers that sat in a large circle on the parade grounds of their former outpost base. “What’s next, cleaning the kitchens?”
40“I doubt we’ll be here much longer, my friend,” Jason chuckled. “Have patience.”
40“Patience?” Heracles boomed. “It’s been nearly two hours since we got this motley lot together down here. They may be the enemy, but they’ll freeze to death if we don’t get them inside soon. The heat from our Icarus-wing flight units will keep them warm for only as long as the day lasts; in a short while it will be twilight, Jason, and even the warmth from our engine exhausts will not shield these people from the frigid temperature.”
40“I know, Heracles…look, if Sthenno and her prince delay any longer, then I’ll take responsibility for these men and have them moved to the…” Jason was distracted by the arrival of an aerial shuttle from the Thor. The small craft landed on a raised platform at the far end of the mass of prisoners. “Looks like they’re here.”
40The side door of the small Britannian-built conveyance opened up to allow the egress of Prince Schneizel with Sthenno at his side, both of them gleaming. The prince walked out to the podium of the raised platform so that he could look into the eyes of the shivering men and women before him.
40“Greetings, members of the Black Knights.” He outstretched his left hand towards them in a gesture of sympathy. “I regret the conditions that you have been forced to endure here during your wait for my arrival, but other more strenuous matters required my personal attention.”
40“You’re a traitor!” one of the prisoners yelled.
40“Oh, come now, my good man,” Schneizel regarded him with a look of pity. “You yourself saw the FLEIJA mine that destroyed your fleet. That unfortunate act of terrorism was done by the hand of my sister, Cornelia. Had my forces not arrived in time to save you, all of you would be dead now.”
40“Now I know why Sthenno has taken such a shine to this man,” Heracles joked to Jason over their communications.
40Jason snickered, “Be still, my friend, lest we incur his pleasantries on us.”
40“Indeed!” Heracles laughed.
40A female prisoner shouted out at Schneizel, “How do we know you’re not lying?”
40“My dear, I would never lie to my people,” Schneizel said to her as he raised his chin. “I have always been a Prince of Peace, a person whose goal is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of my subjects and to punish only those who would disturb this peace.”
40Another of the Black Knights spoke up, “Your people? We will never be your people, Schneizel. Zero defeated you, and for him we will die here and now before we ever serve the likes of you!”
40The crowd cheered the man in defiance of Schneizel.
40Schneizel put on a sad face. “How unfortunate for you all that you feel this way. You leave me with no choice.” The prince called forth the power of Geass into his right eye; the orange sigil formed, and in an instant, its glow filled the circle of prisoners.
40Schneizel outstretched his arms. “I, Prince Schneizel el Britannia, hereby command you to be my willing subjects and obey my every order.”
40The crowd stood up in unison, the faint orange glow of Geass around the irises of their eyes as they spoke in one voice, “YES, MY LORD!”


* * *

40“How did our Dueler assault group do?” Akira inquired of Villetta from the open cockpit hatch of the Zangetsu as she walked onto the KnightMare launch deck of the Ikaruga.
40“Collin’s whole team made it,” Mrs. Nu smiled. “That means you’ll have sixteen KnightMares under your command out there tomorrow, Team Captain Nobunaga. Think you can handle it?”
40“Of course.” He winked at her as he made the last of his preflight checks for the Decisive Battle contest that would commence at the crack of dawn the next day.
40“Don’t get cocky, Akira,” Villetta warned. “It’s a lot tougher out there than you may think even though our team has a greater number of KnightMare pilots than the other two teams which have made it up to this point. You can still lose your advantage very quickly if you don’t keep your head.”
40“He knows, Mrs. Villetta; he’s just psyched about actually making it to the final match when some of the other teams that lost are already leaving to go home.” Gregor laughed as he started up his Gekka to test its power output.
40“We're all pretty excited,” Villetta said with a smirk, “but that’s no excuse to blow it just because you’re giddy.”
40“Don’t worry, coach, Akira is a natural leader. He’ll do fine,” Lena said.
40“He’d better,” Tetsuo snickered as he worked on his Type-3F Gekka, “or else Mika will kick the crap out of him.”
40“Speaking of Mika, where is she?” Villetta asked looking around for the girl. “Why isn’t she getting her KnightMare prepped?”
40“Mika said she had to do some last minute software upgrades to our KnightMares for some reason,” Gregor told her with a puzzled look. “Something about them needing to be made legal for the match.”
40“That’s odd,” Villetta replied a bit confused. “I thought Captain Chiba’s technicians already did that.”
40“I wouldn’t worry about Mika,” Akira said. “She’s nitpicky about everything. I’m sure whatever it is she’s doing it’s no big deal.”
40“I hope you’re right, Akira.” Villetta sounded disturbed. “Tomorrow’s contest is a big deal, and I would hate for you all to lose because of cheating after you’ve come so far.”
40“Mika may be a pain in the butt sometimes, but she’s no cheater, Mrs. Nu,” Lena protested. “You know that.”
40Villetta smiled. “I know that under normal circumstances she would never do that, and I’m not saying she’d do it now…call it an intuition, but I think that under the kind of pressure you are all going through, some of you may do things you wouldn’t normally do.”
40“Mrs. Nu, there is no way Mika would do something like that.” Gregor was genuinely angry.
40“I understand how you all feel,” Villetta tried to relate to them. “But I’m still going to have to ask the deck chief to do an operating system check on all of your KnightMares tonight so that everything is within regulations for tomorrow. I’m sorry.”
40Gregor started to say something before Akira cut him off. “Thank you, Mrs. Nu; I’m confident that you’ll discover that Mika is no cheater, and that she did nothing to tarnish our image.”
40“I hope your right, Akira,” Villetta said with a tired look. “It’s getting late. I need to go and request the OS diagnostic for your machines now. You kids, finish up here ASAP and get some sleep; I don’t want my whole team getting wiped out from fatigue.”
40“Yes, ma’am, we will,” Lena said to Villetta as she left the hangar.


* * *

40“According to our technicians, nearly all two hundred of the KnightMares of the Black Knights we recovered here at Kerguelen Island are useable, Prince Schneizel, and their Devicers have recovered from their mild exposure to the arctic air,” Kannon told him on the bridge of the Thor. "Also, Jason reports that the Argo has not encountered any UFN airships during their six-hour flight towards Australia. It appears the Black Knights have not yet taken any action after the loss of their fleet."
40“Excellent,” Schneizel smiled. “And have the commanders of our newfound allies made their report to the UFN?”
40“Yes, my lord, as per your orders, Major Dundee spoke to General Tohdoh directly and informed Kyoshiro that a FLEIJA weapon destroyed the Australian and South African armada.” The yeoman was used to his prince employing elaborate plans but this one seemed to escape him. “Was it wise to inform them of the destruction of the Black Knight combined fleet?”
40“Yes, Kannon,” Schneizel laughed. “We need to deflect the attention of the UFN away from us and onto Cornelia as quickly and effectively as we can. It’s common knowledge among the UFN bureaucrats that Nina Einstein is working for Cornelia in Brazil. No doubt the whole UFN military is preparing for an all-out assault on South America as we speak, but they are allowing themselves to be held back by a frustrated fear of venturing out onto the now perilous oceans.”
40“Won’t the UFN send another fleet to Antarctica and discover we’ve gone from there?” Kannon asked, still not following his master’s line of thinking.
40“Not with what they have been told is a new weapon of Cornelia’s prowling the seas of the southern hemisphere: a FLEIJA Ballistic Missile Submarine. The threat of such a weapon of terror will force them to cry out for the Britannian military to come to their aid and launch a first strike against Cornelia directly, using the Britannian Central American forces.” Schneizel continued, obviously pleased with his strategy, “And Nunnally will stand in their way and call for talks and negotiations before ever ordering an attack on her dear sister. Her tepid political tactics will irritate the UFN into sending aerial ships from every corner of the globe instead, and while the Black Knights fight Cornelia, we will have all the time we need to secure the world’s major sakuradite deposits.”
40“Sounds like a brilliant strategy,” Sthenno told him as she entered the bridge with two other women who looked identical to her in all physical aspects save for the clothing they wore. One of them wore a red jumpsuit with gold-colored Greek robes while her younger twin wore the royal blue uniform of an Automatos pilot.
40“So, this is the prince you told us about, Sthenno,” the one in the red jumpsuit said in a melodic voice.
40“He is attractive,” the other added. “Perhaps I should add him to my collection.”
40“He is my champion.” Sthenno glared at the young girl before she turned to Schneizel and caressed his cheek. “This is my twin sister, Euryale, and my younger sister, Medusa.”
40Schneizel stepped to the side of Sthenno and bowed to both of the women, kissing each of their right hands in turn.
40“Such manners,” Medusa cooed. “I do like him, Sthenno.”
40“Do you now,” she replied with a sly smile. “And you, Euryale?”
40“He is charming,” Euryale smiled. “But do you think he could handle the three of us?”
40Sthenno let loose a wicked laugh. “Would you like to find out?”
40“I would.” Medusa gave Schneizel a seductive smile.
40“Very well then, you shall have him.” Sthenno giggled as she turned to Schneizel. “What say you, my Prince? Are you not tired from our earlier endeavors of today?”
40“Not remotely, my Goddess,” Schneizel said in a daze that reminded him of a more pleasant version of the Geass Lelouch had put upon him. Am I willingly doing this, or is she controlling me? he wondered to himself as she took hold of his right arm and Medusa slid up upon his left side taking hold of his other arm in hers.
40“Then let us retire to your bedchambers, my Prince,” Euryale said to him as she led the way.
40Schneizel turned to his yeoman. “Kannon, please leave the ship in the care of Major Draconic and get some sleep. You’ve been up for over twenty-four hours and need your rest. I’m afraid you’ll have to find sleeping quarters for this evening.” The two sisters impatiently tugged Schneizel towards the door. “Feel free to use Captain Kozuki’s old quarters if you like; it was a full-size stateroom equal to my own.”
40“Yes, Prince Schneizel,” Kannon said solemnly as he watched the three sisters drag his master off towards what he was certain would involve all manner of debauchery.


* * *

40Kannon made his way down towards the cabin that was once Kallen Kozuki’s room less than a week before the awful events that took his prince from him. The yeoman opened up the door to the darkened chamber and turned on the lights.
40For a woman’s room it was annoyingly masculine, yet it still held the elements of feminine charm that distinguished it from the male Devicers that were once on the ship. Such was the manner of a female Devicer pilot and elite warrior of the Black Knights.
40The young man scanned over the sparsely filled bookcases; pictures of Kallen and her classmates adorned most of the shelving.
40One picture caught his attention; it was of Lelouch vi Britannia dressed as Zero and two other people standing on what must surely have been the hangar deck of the Ikaruga. One of the two people standing next to Zero was a teenage Kallen in her Black Knights uniform, the other was a woman in a black outfit with long green-colored hair that once surrounded a face that had since been scratched out of the picture by someone.
40“Green hair?” Kannon mused to himself. “I wonder if she was C.C.? Could she and Kallen have been rivals for Lelouch?” Suddenly Kannon felt bad for Captain Kozuki. Kannon knew the pain of losing a person you love to a romantic rival or to circumstances beyond a person’s control. Oddly, he found that this ache in his heart was not for Schneizel; it was for someone who had touched his soul in a way no one else had or perhaps even could.
40He put the photo back onto the shelf from which he had taken it and looked over the small stack of books that were hastily assembled on one of the shelves. He removed a volume from near the bottom of the stack entitled Ashford Academy Yearbook 2017 a.t.b.
40Kannon flipped through the pages of the book lovingly as he glanced over every photo of Kallen, Lelouch, Milly Ashford, Major Rivalz, even Euphemia li Britannia at Milly Ashford’s failed school fair.
40Then he came upon the photo of the person he yearned to see, a young girl whose humble appearance and innocent way had stolen his heart the first time he laid eyes upon her.
40“There you are, Nina.” Kannon caressed the image lovingly as he lay back on Kallen’s bed. His eyes were heavy from lack of sleep. “I miss you so much,” he said before drifting off into a deep slumber.

Kodai Okuda
09-11-2010, 05:36 AM
Turn Five: Champions

40“The power of Geass, a power that turned a simple boy into a Dark Champion among men whose sole desire was to build a better world for his sister, Nunnally, a power that cost him his life in the endeavor to do so. The tragedy of his sacrifice was that the world he built came and went like the rare and delicate snowflake that it was: pure, clean, and gone as soon as it touched the ground of the harsh reality of the dark desires that burn within the souls of men. The Power of the King was a power sent from Heaven to try and bring some semblance of good into the depths of this world of hell.” —Excerpt of a letter to Cornelia Caesaro Britannia from C.C., dated November 25th, 2025 a.t.b.

40“Are you sure they landed someplace around here, Cecile?” Lloyd Asplund remarked in a bored tone as he looked out over the treetop canopy of the forest surrounding the city of Azul. Lloyd stood on the foredeck of the bridge of the rebuilt airship Avalon looking out through the main viewports of the craft with a pair of binoculars.
40“The ship’s sensors are better than those things, Lloyd,” Cecile Croomy tittered.
40“Oh?” Lloyd looked at her with a snobbish expression. “I fancied they gave me that Dr. Livingston sort of look.”
40Cecile laughed. “No, actually, they make you look more like Baron Münchausen.”
40“Oh, dear,” Lloyd said as he placed the binoculars on the console next to Cecile. “Well? Any luck yet?”
40“I think I may have them,” she said as she brought up a digital representation of the forest floor. “Looks like four KnightMares of some type crashed into the jungle about there.” Cecile pointed to a yellow circle on the screen.
40“Good thing we got out here as soon as the Cape Horn Outpost radioed to Buenos Ares. Otherwise, we may not have gotten this chance to acquire them,” Nina Einstein remarked as she walked over to Cecile and Lloyd with three mugs of coffee on a tray.
40“Thank you, Nina,” Cecile smiled as she took one of the cups.
40“Yes, it is fortunate that Cornelia allowed us to come fetch these four machines.” Lloyd adjusted his glasses. “Pity about the pilots though.”
40“What do you mean? It's not like she told us to kill them if we find them. We're only supposed to capture and hold them until she arrives,” Cecile scolded him, “and aren’t you forgetting something?”
40Lloyd put his hand on his chin. “Hmmm, no, I think Cornelia’s orders were pretty clear.”
40Cecile held up her mug and scowled at him.
40“Oh...heh...yes, that,” Lloyd said embarrassed. “Where are my manners? Thank you, Nina, for the coffee.”
40Nina chuckled, “That’s alright, Lloyd, I know your mind is never in the same place for more than a few moments.”
40He said with a boyish grin, “Well, I must admit I’m ecstatic at the chance of getting four of Rakshata’s Type-21s to play with.”
40Both women laughed.
40“Oh, I don’t think I’ve seen you this happy since Cornelia let you start the Paladin KnightMare project,” Nina giggled.
40“No kidding,” Cecile agreed. “It’s nice to see you acting like your old self again, Lloyd…no matter how odd that may sound.”
40A male voice called over the radio of the Avalon, “Attention, Avalon, this is Azul Search and Rescue team eight; we’ve found the four KnightMare Frames and they appear to be intact.”
40"Oh, excellent, Commander," Lloyd said in a giddy tone. "Be sure to clear all the brush and whatnot away so we can take them onboard immediately."
40"Uh...yes, sir...but shouldn't we check them for booby traps first?" the man inquired.
40Lloyd looked at Cecile confused and shrugged his shoulders.
40Cecile rolled her eyes. "Yes, Commander, please be sure and move them to a safe location so that they can be properly checked for whatever self-destruct mechanisms they have that may be active. We want them in as perfect a condition as possible."
40"That could take a few hours," the man replied.
40"Hours?" Lloyd whined.
40"That's okay, Dr. Asplund," Nina giggled. "We should be able to do our initial external analysis of the Type-21s in the Azul holding areas without getting in their way."
40"Or getting ourselves blown up," Cecil added with a huff. "It's not like these machines are going anywhere."
40"I suppose you're right, Cecile," Lloyd conceded. "I'm just anxious to try out Nina's new Field Organized Radial Graviton Engine."
40"I still can't believe you managed to harness the power of FLEIJA," Cecile smiled at Nina. "You really are a genius."
40Nina's cheeks burned red. "It was the least I could do after what that dreadful weapon was used for. I needed to change FLEIJA into something that could help mankind, a source of hope for a better future, not destruction. And while my FORGE system will be used in KnightMares and aerial warships and thus ultimately war, it is still better than a weapon of mass destruction."
40"Yes," Lloyd smirked as he spun in place with glee. "And it will completely do away with energy fillers as well. That's the part that is so incredible. Think of it. A KnightMare that can operate for twenty years instead of only a few short hours! It's incredi—"
40Cecile slapped him across the face and thus back to reality as Nina turned away. "She just said it was better then the FLEIJA, not that she liked the idea of it being used for war. Try to show a little more compassion, would you, Lloyd."
40He readjusted his glasses and shrugged his shoulders like a boy. "Sorry, I'm just excited, that's all."
40"We can see that," Cecile growled.
40"It's okay, Cecile," Nina said. "If we didn't apply the FORGE to war, I'm sure someone else would have."
40"See," Lloyd said holding his cheek. "You didn't need to hit me."
40Cecile chuckled, "Yes, I did, or you would have kept spinning until you were dizzy."
40"Uh...I guess that's true," he laughed.


* * *

40"How many of them are there?" Akira asked Villetta as the five ace cadets of the Japan Jaguars headed for the KnightMares of the Four Holy Swords and Zangetsu.
40"Six teams," she replied, "not including ours."
40"And the next team with the highest number of KnightMare Frames?" he inquired.
40"The Red Dragons," she answered him with concern.
40"I'm not surprised," Gregor said as he joined up with them at the head of the team.
40Villetta turned to face him as he came up next to her and Akira. "They've got fourteen KnightMares to your sixteen. That's too many in an aerial dogfight."
40"And against Li Jang Fong's team, no less." Gregor let out a short whistle. "This is gonna be a tough fight."
40“Stop whining, Gregor,” Mika scolded him. “We can whip the Red Dragons blindfolded.”
40“It will still be a challenge, Mika,” Tetsuo said.
40"Yes, it should be," Villetta said. "But I have confidence you can beat them."
40"So, did our KnightMares check out okay?" Akira asked Villetta.
40"You mean did Mika tamper with them?" Villetta asked with a frown. "No, she didn't. So, I guess you were correct, Captain Nobunaga."
40"Thank you, coach." He gave her a stoic look. "I'm glad that you checked to see if she did so that you have the piece of mind knowing that we'll win this with honor."
40Villetta gave him a warm smile.
40Lena was silent; she was concerned about Akira. He wasn’t himself right now. Lena knew something was bothering him and he hadn’t told her what.


* * *

40"What do you mean there's no pizza left?" C.C. asked the vendor in the Sydney stadium food market.
40"Sorry, little lady, but we sold out yesterday," the rotund Italian baker bellowed in his thick accent as he brushed off flour from his white apron and listed off the menu he still had available. "We've got calzones, spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parmigiana, eight-cheese lasagna, and chicken cacciatore...and that's about it."
40"Aw," C.C. sighed. "But I heard you got the best pizza in the world."
40"No," he laughed, "Not ah mia. You're looking for Antonio's Pizzeria on the Ikaruga."
40C.C. looked up at the fleet of airships that were gathering around the outskirts of the coliseum. "The Ikaruga?" She loathed the idea of going back to that ship, but...she had no choice. "Thank you, sir," C.C. said as she raced back towards her bicycle and sped off towards the boarding terminal for VIP patrons.


* * *

40"You can't come in here, ma'am. All the airship tickets are sold out," the guard told C.C. as he stood his ground in front of her.
40"But I used to be a part of her crew," C.C. protested.
40"Sure you were." His fellow sentry snickered. "You're like what? Seventeen years old?"
40C.C. knew there was no point in even trying to explain her "condition" to them. "I'm a HUGE fan of the Japan Jaguars," she cooed at them. "Can't you just let me through this once?"
40The first guard scoffed, "If we did that, we'd have to let every ditzy groupie who wanted to get in a free pass. Sorry, Miss, but no way."
40"Unless, of course, you want to give us something of real value," the other guard said as he eyed her body.
40"Ewww." She recoiled from him. "No thanks." C.C. stormed off away from the boarding booth and zipped around a corner past another pair of guards standing in front of the gateway to the cargo shuttle bay. She passed by a shuttle that was being loaded on the other side of the chain-link, barbed wire fence she was walking along.
40C.C. briskly made her way towards a series of Quonset huts that were obviously the lockers where the pilots and stewardesses of the ships were undoubtedly getting prepared for the continuous flow of transport shuttles to launch.
40C.C. slipped past a pair of guards at the main gate of the tent city. The men were engrossed in placing bets on the final match of the KnightMare Competition via their cellphones and didn’t notice her skulk by them.
40“Let’s see…which one do I want?” C.C. asked herself as she scanned each of the hastily crafted signs in front of the large military tents. “That one!” she blurted out with excitement as she entered a stewardess dressing room.
40Within a few moments, C.C. emerged from the tent dressed in the short skirt, tight blouse, and cap of a shuttle flight attendant.
40“Are we getting any in-flight cuties on this trip?” a pilot said to his fellow airmen as the pair passed by C.C..
40“Excuse me,” she said to the two men.
40“Yes?” the older of the two inquired.
40“I’m kinda lost,” she said with a meek smile. “Could you direct me to the next shuttle flight to the Ikaruga? I’m supposed to be the attendant on that flight.”
40“You’re in luck,” the younger man said to her with a wide grin. “We’re the pilots of that flight.”
40“Really? That’s wonderful,” she told them in the ditziest voice she could muster.


* * *

40The morning light shone gold on the flight of bronze-colored mecha that flew over the western coastline of Australia at less than twenty feet from the surface. The gust of their winged machines overturned sailboats and beach umbrellas as they zipped towards their intended destination unopposed.
40“We’ve just past over a place called Cape Howe according to the information Sthenno’s prince gave us,” Heracles said as his Helios flew next to the Talos along the edge of the beach.
40“How far are we from this city of Sydney?” Jason inquired of his lieutenant.
40“About sixty leagues,” Heracles responded as their legion of eighty Automatos flew in formation behind them. “At our current speed we should be there in about twenty-five minutes.”
40Jason tuned his communicator to their general frequency. “Spartans, we are almost to the city we intend to conquer. I want to make this clear now that in no way are you here to plunder or pillage. We are here to liberate this city from the tyranny of Zero and his followers, the Black Knights. Therefore, you are to engage enemy warmachines only and try to minimize damage to the city and the death of innocent citizens. Do I make myself clear?”
40“Yes, Captain!” the voices of the Spartans said in unison over his radio.
40“Very good,” Jason replied to them knowing they would not break their word.
40“Jason,” Heracles’ voice came back over their private signal.
40“Yes, Heracles?” Jason asked his friend and comrade.
40“Do you believe this Prince Schneizel is telling the truth about the one called Zero?” His baritone voice sounded troubled.
40“Honestly, my friend…No, but we have no proof he is lying to us, so for now we will play Sthenno’s game and do as she and her newfound pet wish.” Jason’s voice held an edge of venom as he uttered the word pet.
40“I’m glad to hear it, Captain,” Heracles chuckled. “I was beginning to worry that you might have changed your mind about this man.”
40“What made you think that?” Jason asked.
40Heracles paused for a moment before going on, “Well, you didn’t argue with him or even inquire as to why he wanted us to attack this city. That’s not like you, Jason.”
40Jason humphed. “I wanted to get as far from their ogling and lechery towards each other as the Argo could take us, especially now that Euryale and Medusa are with them.”
40“Come now, Jason,” Heracles laughed. “Where’s your sense of hospitality. All the sisters are doing is sharing the customs of their brood with this prince and his people.”
40Jason snickered, “I’m sure orgies aren’t exclusive to our culture, Heracles.”
40“I wouldn’t know,” Heracles chortled, “I’ve never been to one.”
40Jason sniggered, “Sure you haven’t.”
40“Jason,” one of the Spartans called over the general channel.
40“Yes, Orpheus?” he asked.
40Orpheus’ tone was grave. “There are 120 enemy units coming towards us from the north.”
40“Someone on one of those boats we flipped must have gotten a message out,” Heracles suggested.
40“What types are they, Orpheus?” Jason inquired.
40“Let’s see,” the man said as he flipped through the data files given him by the boy, Kannon, before their departure. “There are forty Vincent Ward and eighty Gloucester machines.”
40“Very well.” Jason turned Talos in the direction of the incoming KnightMares. “To all Automatos, ATTACK!”
40The Talos sped towards the oncoming Australian Defense Forces with frighteningly high speed. Talos cut through the lead Vincent Wards with impunity as the KnightMare pilots desperately tried to shoot down Jason’s Automatos.
40The bullets from the Gloucester autocannon gunpods bounced harmlessly off the adamantine skin of the Automatos.
40“Their weapons are pathetic,” Heracles said as he spun his Helios into a flight of six Gloucesters; the adamantine blades of his Automatos cut the KnightMares in half in one swift stroke.
40The Spartans tore into the mass of KnightMares slowly as the Australian forces switched to their MVS weapons and engaged them more cautiously.
40“This is costing us precious time, Jason,” Orpheus said over the communicator.
40“Oh? What do you suggest we do?” Jason asked him, although he already knew what his friend would answer.
40“We should incinerate them with our Chaos Guns,” Orpheus replied.
40“That’s against our code of honor, Orpheus,” Heracles reminded his comrade. “Jason would not use such a weapon unless they use one first.”
40“I know, but we’re losing our momentum,” Orpheus said well aware that if they wanted to take the city without a long protracted conflict, they’d have to act quickly.
40Jason knew Orpheus was right, but sill. “No, Orpheus, we will fight them with melee weapons only unless they use a weapon that merits the use of our Chaos Guns.”
40“Besides,” Heracles remarked as he smashed through two Vincent Wards with the mace of Helios, “we should be clear of these sentries soon enough.”


* * *

40“Are you guys ready for this?” Villetta asked her team from the bridge of the Ikaruga.
40“Ready as we’ll ever be, Mrs. Nu,” Akira said.
40“Good, ‘cause this is it! Jaguars, launch!” Villetta commanded over the radio.
40The hangar doors of the Ikaruga opened up in front of the Zangetsu and the Four Holy Swords. Before them was the clear blue sky and the international fleet of airships that represented each nation whose team had made it to this final decisive battle for the championship.
40“Let’s do this,” Akira said over the radio as he launched Zangetsu off the Ikaruga towards the rapidly forming swarms of KnightMare Frames in front of each of the six aerial battleships.
40The remnants of the other three Japan Jaguar assault teams joined up with them after launching from other bays on the Ikaruga.
40Akira turned his radio to the Jaguar’s main frequency. “Edo and Grenadier groups, intersperse your six KnightMares in a Chain Lightning defense formation along the inner perimeter of the Ikaruga. Dueler group, your five KnightMares will act as our interceptor assault group and patrol the outer perimeter of the battlespace of our airship to stop any incoming KnightMares. Four Holy Swords, we are going on the offensive. We’ll start with the Spanish Conquistadors first as they have only eight KnightMares left. Understood?”
40“Yes, sir,” the three other assault group leaders responded.
40The Japan Jaguars flew into their respective positions as the first general announcement came over their cockpit radios. “All teams are in position. Captains, you may commence your attacks.”
40The Four Holy Swords flew towards the Spanish warship and her flight of eight KnightMares who stayed within the general area of their aerial warship.
40"They’re using a Strong defense pattern, Akira,” Lena said as they approached the other team’s ship.
40“We’ll stay loose until we get to within thirty meters, then we’ll form up into a line pattern and slice through their Vincent Wards with a Stiletto attack thrust through their middle. Afterwards we will then cut them down with our swords while in flight,” Akira said as a hail of cannon fire streamed towards them from the eight KnightMares on the deck of the Spanish ship.
40"And try not to get shot down in the process," Mika lamented as a hail of rounds zipped past her Gekka.
40The Zangetsu led the four Type-3Fs down through the hail of bullets, missiles and cannon fire towards the Conquistadors; the Spanish team was in a dual diamond formation of two groups of four KnightMares each, standing next to one another at about a KnightMare Frame's arm’s length apart.
40"Hit them hard and fast!" Akira commanded his assault group as he swooped in with the Seidotou brake blade of Zangetsu and slashed through two of the Vincent Wards of the Conquistadors. The pair of Spanish KnightMares had been too slow as they tried to unsheathe their MVS weapons so as not to hit one another with their gunpods in a crossfire.
40“That’s half of them!” Gregor exclaimed as he chopped his second Vincent Ward in half at the waist; the ejection module boosted the pilot of the machine to safety.
40Lena landed her Gekka and cut the arms and legs off another of the Conquistador machines. “Three left.”
40The three remaining Spanish machines fired on her Type-3F as she used the wheeled drive of her KnightMare to zigzag backwards away from the cannon fire.
40Mika and Tetsuo landed behind them and cut all three of them down, chopping off the leg and float units of the Vincent Wards thus rendering them useless.
40“That’s one team down!” Mika exclaimed as they waited the full minute on the Spanish ship.
40The competition announcer’s voice came over their radios as they waited on the Spanish airship. “The Japan Jaguars have taken the Spanish Conquistadors out of the match while at the same time the Red Dragon team has defeated the Italian Centurion team in only two short minutes, making that the third team they’ve taken down from the start of the contest. Only China, Japan, and the German Panzer teams are left. Who will claim the title of Champions this year?”
40“You’re clear to launch, Akira!” Villetta’s voice boomed over the radio. “Don’t worry about the Germans; the Red Dragons have already decimated their KnightMare team, and in a few minutes, they’ll beat them. However, Li Jang Fong has only five KnightMares left in his team while you still have sixteen. You have the advantage.”
40“Understood, ma’am,” Nobunaga said coolly.
40“Hey, Akira, how do you think the Chinese have been able to beat so many other teams so fast?” Gregor asked as they flew back to the Ikaruga.
40“I dunno,” he said with concern in his voice, “but they seem to be doing almost too well.”
40“What do you mean?” Tetsuo asked. “They’ve lost over half of their KnightMare team. I doubt they’re cheating.”
40“Don’t be so sure, Tetsuo,” Lena replied. “Li Jang Fong’s cheated before.”
40“And gotten away with it,” Mika added as the Four Holy Swords landed on the Ikaruga.
40“How?” Tetsuo asked. “We’ve met with them in matches all year and I’ve never seen them cheat.”
40“It was before you joined the team, dude,” Gregor said. “When we were all juniors, there was a meet in Singapore where Li Jang Fong’s Red Dragons used augmented Burai type KnightMares during the match. Their machines had faster reflexes than the standard KnightMares, thus they were able to beat us.”
40“How do you know they were augmented?” Tetsuo inquired in a nervous tone as the Red Dragons engaged the Dueler assault group of the Japan Jaguars.
40“I ran a computer model after the meet which compared the fastest reflex speed allowed by the KnightMare Competition Commission with the video footage of the meet and saw that the Chinese team’s machines were a full 1.5 seconds faster.”
40“We showed this information to the Commission, but the match was too minor for them and the investigation was miniscule,” Lena added as she prepared to meet the Chinese group that had now cut through the Duelers.
40“So, they cheated?” Tetsuo was shocked. “Do you think they’re cheating now?”
40“Yep! The Red Dragon Vincent Wards and the Shen-Hu MKII are operating at full ability,” Mika said. “And Li Jang Fong isn’t hiding it, which means this is meant to happen.”
40“What do you mean?” Tetsuo asked in confusion.
40“She means that the match has been bought and paid for by the Chinese Federation. No doubt an inside deal within the UFN,” Villetta’s irritated voice interjected. “Mika, use the strategy we discussed earlier.”
40“Yes, Mrs. Nu,” Mika answered with a sly smile.
40“Care to let me in on this strategy?” Akira inquired.
40“Type ZERO into your attack computer input window,” Mika told him with a giggle.
40The five members of the Four Holy Swords assault group typed the word into the computers of their machines and instantly a whole plethora of applications came to life on the computer screens, then went blank as the operating systems of the KnightMares rebooted rapidly.
40“Holy crap, we’re at full power!” Lena remarked.
40“Isn’t this dangerous?” Gregor protested.
40“It’s not any more of a risk than what Li Jang Fong is doing,” Mika scolded Gregor. “Besides, don’t you want to face them in a fair and equal fight?”
40“She has a point, old buddy,” Akira conceded. “I’d hate to lose this fight because we played fair and the Chinese cheated. At least if we lose to them in a fair fight, we can do so with honor.”
40“I hear yah,” Gregor said with newfound vigor. “Oh, man, this is going to be real combat.”
40“Here they come!” Lena said.
40“Edo and Grenadier groups, try to keep their KnightMares off the Ikaruga. Holy Swords, let’s go out and say hi to Li Jang!”


* * *

40“No…no, really I have to go…honestly,” C.C. said to the young pilot whose name had already slipped her mind. She headed for the elevator at the far end of the hangar bay of the Ikaruga. “I’d love to have dinner with you sometime, but I doubt my father would let me,” she lied.
40“Who’s your father?” the man said walking after her. “I’ll ask him if I can take you out.”
40“I doubt you could,” she told him as she slipped into the elevator cabin, “because my father is Zero.”
40The pilot stopped in his tracks with a befuddled look on his face.
40“Whew!” C.C. said to herself aloud as the door to the elevator closed. “That shook him off. Poor guy, he was kinda cute.” C.C. checked her wristwatch. “But I don’t have much time before the match is over and the restaurants close; it’s already noon.”
40C.C. tapped her foot impatiently as the elevator descended to the auxiliary hangar deck. It was shorter than taking the ride down to the bottom of the ship and then having to go through the turnstiles of the security detail there. This way, she could slip through the hangar bay, down the cargo elevator, and straight into the middle of the food bar next to ANTONIO’S PIZZERIA!!!
40She nearly jumped for joy at her own cleverness. It paid to know the internal layout of the Ikaruga in desperate situations like these.
40The elevator doors opened and C.C. dashed out straight into a wall. “What the..?” she exclaimed.
40“C2?” A familiar voice emanated from the wall.
40“Jeremiah Gottwald?” C.C. remarked in surprise.
40He smiled at her. “What brings you to this place?”
40“Probably pizza if my memory serves correctly,” a woman’s voice snickered from behind Jeremiah.
40“Sayoko!” C.C. was jovial at seeing them both. “What are you two doing here?”
40Sayoko took hold of Jeremiah’s arm. “Well, not that it’s anybody’s business but we’re here on vacation together.”
40“Really?” C.C. smiled. “So, are you two here as friends or…”
40Jeremiah blushed. “I have the honor of escorting this fair lady to this momentous event.”
40Sayoko giggled. “What he’s saying is that we’re a thing.”
40“And perhaps more if she’d let me,” Jeremiah said.
40C.C. slapped her hands together. “That’s wonderful. I’m so happy for you two.”
40There was an uneasy silence as the couple looked at C.C. knowing how lonely she must feel without…him.
40“Hey, do you want to see something interesting?” Sayoko asked her.
40“Sure,” C.C. replied eager to break the silence as she followed Jeremiah and Sayoko down the hangar towards a whole set of Akatsuki KnightMare Frames.
40“It’s a complete reproduction of the Black Knights,” Jeremiah told her.
40“Minus Zangetsu and the Four Holy Swords right now,” Sayoko added. “Captain Chiba insisted that the Japan Jaguars use them in this year’s competition because it’s the Olympiad. It’s also why all these other Black Knight KnightMares are being powered up, armed, and prepared for a KnightMare air show during the final ceremony today.”
40“Amazing,” C.C. said as she scanned down the row of machines that were being tended by the ship’s KnightMare technicians. “Even the Guren is here, and the…” She stopped in front of Shinkirou.
40“His KnightMare is here too,” C.C. said with watery eyes. “That was very nice of them.”
40“Yes.” Jeremiah lay his hand on her shoulder. “They built it to honor the memory of master Lelouch.”
40“Speaking of him,” Sayoko ventured to ask a very touchy question, “have you gone to see him lately?”
40“Do you mean his tomb in Kyoto?” C.C. asked as she looked over the whole form of Shinkirou.
40“Yes,” Sayoko said in a somber tone. “Jeremiah and I are thinking of going to see him there to pay our respects. We’ve not been there before, and I understand his tomb is a small one and difficult to find within the mausoleum there, so I thought maybe you could help us find it.”
40“I went to see him…a few years back.” C.C. gave her a sad smile. “I’ll gladly go with you two and show you where it is, as it really is a bit difficult to find in there. Besides, it’s been long enough; I should go back and say hi.”
40“Thank you, C2,” Jeremiah told her with a warm smile. “So, how about that pizza?”
40“PIZZA! Oh, crap! I totally forgot!” C.C. started to head for the door that led to the cargo elevator when Captain Chiba’s voice came over the ship’s comm.
40“Attention all civilian passengers, please report to the main auditorium at once! This is not a request, IT IS AN ORDER!”
40Jeremiah looked at C.C. “I wonder why they want us to go there?”
40“Nagisa sounds nervous about something,” Sayoko said.
40C.C. stared back at the two of them bewildered. “The only reason I can think of for her to ask us all to go there is if we’re under attack.”


* * *

40“It’s been a long time, Akira!” Li Jang Fong said over the radio as his Shen-Hu MKII lashed out with its pair of Maser Vibration Swords.
40Nobunaga dodged the dual sword attack with Zangetsu and slashed at the side of Li Fong’s KnightMare with the Seidotou brake blade.
40Fong dodged and whipped his long tail of black hair out of his face. “Oh, still a bit testy, I see.”
40“You got a handle on him, Akira?” Tetsuo asked.
40“Never mind him, Tetsuo,” Gregor said as he parried a Vincent Ward before it would have slashed off the left arm of Tetsuo’s Gekka with an MVS. “We need to deal with our own dance partners.”
40Tetsuo whipped his Type-3F around to block another Vincent Ward which tried to stab at Gregor’s machine. “I see what you mean,” he said as he saw Lena and Mika engaged in dogfights of their own with two other Vincent Wards.
40“Looks like Mr. Honor is actually cheating, eh?” Li Jang smiled as he launched both of the slash harkens of the Shen-Hu at Zangetsu.
40“Only because I had to in order to make this a fair fight, you bastard,” Akira spat at him as he deflected the two spindles with his machine’s sword. “How could you cheat here of all places?!”
40“Still the immature naïve little child, I see.” Li Jang Fong performed a flip with Shen-Hu and slashed at Akira with a spinning double MVS attack. “I thought you would have learned your lesson after Singapore.”
40Akira deflected the first blade and ducked under the second MVS allowing Zangetsu to turn and kick the backside of the Shen-Hu, knocking it off balance.
40Fong spun his own machine around and recovered just in time to parry the thrust that Nobunaga had already launched at him. “Wow, who would have thought you’d ever get better at fighting as a Devicer,” Li Jang taunted him. “I bet you and your little band spent years training for it. Too bad this match was decided before you even landed in Australia,” Li Jang laughed
40“Not if we defeat you here and now!” Akira said as he swung his Seidotou brake blade towards the Shen-Hu.
40Li Jang dodged the blow easily. “What was that supposed to be?” he laughed.
40“A feint!” Nobunaga growled as he fired the slash harken from the hilt of his machine’s sword.
40The bladed pummel cut off the left shoulder shield armor of Shen-Hu as Li Jang barely saved his mecha’s left arm.
40“That fight looks pretty viscous over there,” Tetsuo said as he cut off the arm of the Vincent Ward he was fighting. “What’s with those two anyway?” he asked as he finished it off with a second blow; the cockpit ejection system flew away from the doomed machine, saving the pilot.
40“They used to be friends,” Gregor told Tetsuo as he dodged the slash harken from the Vincent Ward that was attacking him, “but something happened.”
40“What happened?” Tetsuo pressed Gregor as he flew in to help him. Tetsuo’s Gekka cut through the right arm of the Vincent Ward as Gregor finished it off with a combination sword thrust and slash harken attack, causing the ejection module to shoot out the rear of the machine before it exploded in midair.
40“I happened,” Lena grumbled as her machine locked swords with her attacker.
40“Huh?” Tetsuo said confused as he and Gregor sped over to help Lena and Mika.
40“Two guys, one girl, you can figure that one out right, Tetsuo?” Mika asked sarcastically as she slipped in alongside the forward thrust of her attacker and launched an upper slash with the Katen Yaibatou revolving blade sword of her Gekka, cutting off the sword arm of her opponent. Mika followed up with a gut shot that cut the KnightMare in half at the waist.
40“Yah, I got it,” Tetsuo said as he and Gregor came up on the last of the Red Dragon Vincent Wards.
40The pilot ejected from the KnightMare after Lena cut off its left leg and arm and followed up by cutting off its sensor head.
40“That only leaves Fong’s unit,” Tetsuo said.
40“Better let Akira deal with him,” Gregor told him.
40The Zangetsu dodged the pair of slash harkens that grazed the torso armor of the machine.
40“How much longer are you going to keep this up?” Li Jang asked him. “Even if you defeat me, the International KnightMare Commission will disqualify your team for cheating. Face it, Akira, you’re wasting your time here.”
40“Maybe this whole thing is rigged as you say, but even so, I’m going to take you down fair and square.” Nobunaga maneuvered Zangetsu around the side of the Shen-Hu and fired the chest slash harken of his mecha, forcing Li Jang to block the attack with his unit’s left arm.
40“I won’t fall for that twice!” Fong sneered as he fired his pair of slash harkens at Akira.
40“I didn’t think you would,” Nobunaga retorted as he cut the cables of the slash harkens of the Shen-Hu, sending the pair of gold-colored spindles to the ground of the coliseum below.
40“Damn you!” Li Jang spat as his machine lunged at the Zangetsu. “You will not beat me.”
40Akira waited until Fong was practically on top of him before flipping over the top of the Shen-Hu with Zangetsu. Nobunaga fired the pummel slash harken of his machine’s sword and cut off the left arm of Fong’s mecha. Li Jang swung his machine around and opened up the Tian-e Ba Wang baryon cannon to fire, point-blank, directly at Zangetsu.
40“STOP IT, BOTH OF YOU!” Lena screamed over the radio. “It’s over, Li Jang. Your whole team is defeated; you’ve lost. What will you gain now by killing Akira?”
40“My honor,” he said as he prepared to squeeze the trigger of the baryon cannon. A salvo of heavy cannon and beam weapon fire from the seven airships around them caused him to hesitate.
40“What the hell?” Gregor blurted out over the radio.
40The voice of the announcer came over their radio frequencies. “Attention, Red Dragon and Japan Jaguar units, you are to retreat to the Ikaruga at once. There are enemy units inbound. I repeat, you are to retreat to the Ikaruga at once!”
40“What should we do?” Mika asked.
40“Stand and fight, of course,” Li Jang told her. “I’m no coward.”
40“Nor am I,” Akira said.
40“It’s settled then,” Fong told Akira. “I propose a truce between us until we’ve dealt with these interlopers. After that, we’ll finish things between us. Agreed?”
40“Agreed,” Nobunaga replied in a cold tone as he watched the swarm of golden dots come ever closer towards Sydney.

Kodai Okuda
09-11-2010, 06:32 PM
Turn Six: Code of Honor
40“War is a perpetual condition of mankind. The lack of war creates a decadence which in and of itself becomes the catalyst for revolution and thus war. One of the most basic products of war is the warrior. Such was this class of men and women whose talent laid not in the mundane domestic affairs of civil society but in the hard and harsh bloody battlegrounds of the conflicts of the world where skill in fighting was the difference between life and death. With these warriors came a culture all their own. A culture where was born a code of honor that all such warriors lived and died by.” —General Kyoshiro Tohdoh in his speech to the first graduating class of the New Order of the Black Knights, dated June 15th, 2020 a.t.b.

40“How many of them are there?” Captain Chiba asked her navigator.
40“Looks like about eighty unidentified KnightMare Frames of an unknown type closing in on the city fast,” the girl replied.
40"Have the Jaguars and Red Dragons returned yet?" Villetta asked from where she stood at the back of the bridge.
40"No, Mrs. Nu, they haven't," Chiba said with a stern look. "It appears your team and the Chinese Captain are preparing to engage the enemy."
40"What!" Villetta blurted out. "Captain, I need a KnightMare now!"
40"I can't let you do that, Villetta," Nagisa protested. "We need to try and get our passengers to safety. You're not a military pilot anymore, Valletta, and I can't let you go out there and become another liability."
40"Liability!" Villetta spat at Chiba. "How dare you!"
40"Captain!" the tactical officer of the Ikaruga interrupted, "enemy units have shot down the German airship Hindenburg and are proceeding towards the Shanghai."
40"Give them some cover fire with the Hadron Cannons!" Chiba said as Villetta stormed off the bridge.


* * *

40"Looks like there are six of their aerial ships left, Jason," Orpheus said over the comm.
40"Any sign of their Automatos yet?" Jason asked him.
40"There are six units inbound and closing fast," Orpheus told him.
40"Just six?" Heracles inquired.
40"Orpheus, you take the Spartans and attack the city." Jason paused for a moment. "Heracles and I can deal with these airships and their Automatos."
40"As you wish, Captain, but be careful," Orpheus told him as he led the legion of Spartans towards the central section of Sydney.
40"It would appear these craft are stationed over a coliseum," Heracles remarked a bit surprised. "Perhaps these are not combatants after all, Jason."
40"That's why I sent Orpheus to deal with the city's defenders. I'm not sure these are soldiers we are dealing with here." Jason sounded angry. "I wonder if Sthenno's prince knew anything of this before sending us here."
40"Perhaps it slipped his mind," Heracles joked.
40Jason was not amused. "If it did, I'll slip his head from his shoulders."
40Heracles let out a chuckle. “That might improve his demeanor; though I think Sthenno might protest.”
40“Do you think I care if she disapproves?” Jason pointed out. “Should these six prove to be no more than mere athletes trying to defend the honor of their sport, I shall be quite put out with Schneizel for not telling us such an event was present.”
40“Simple Olympians or not, it would seem they intend to challenge us nonetheless,” Heracles told Jason as the six KnightMares approached them.


* * *

40Villetta rushed down to the auxiliary hangar deck of the Ikaruga where she knew the four glide unit-equipped Akatsuki KnightMares were fully armed and charged, ready for the air show that was supposed to end this day. She ran into the hangar deck as soon as the elevator doors opened and was startled to find three figures standing around at the base of the KnightMare Frames.
40“Jeremiah?” Villetta asked.
40“Oh, Villetta!” he said in a jovial tone happy to see his former lover and comrade in arms. “What’s going on?”
40“We’re under attack,” Villetta told him bluntly.
40“By who?” Sayoko asked as she came to stand by Jeremiah.
40“We don’t know,” Mrs. Nu replied. “All we do know is that the members of the Japan Jaguars and the captain of the Red Dragons have gone out to intercept these enemies, and I need to get out there and bring them back. If I don’t, they could be killed.”
40“What can we do to help, Villetta?” Jeremiah inquired in a soft voice.
40Villetta smiled at both them. “I need you to fly out there with me to save these kids. I was going to go out there by myself, and I will if I must, but your help could make all the difference in this battle, Jeremiah.”
40“Of course we will help, Mrs. Nu,” Sayoko said as she looked around. “Hey, what happened to C2?”
40Villetta gave them a blank look. “C2 is here?”
40C.C. had slinked away from the trio while Villetta explained the situation. Seven years ago she wouldn’t have cared what happened to these children, but after her experience with Lelouch, her whole view of life and its value had changed. Now C.C. felt compelled to do something to help. She made her way to the machine she knew would have the best chance against an unknown enemy; she boarded Shinkirou.


* * *

40“Yeeeeeeeaahhhhhhhh!” Gregor yelled over the comm. as he and Tetsuo attacked the large bronze KnightMare equipped with the club and large shield. Gregor’s blade bounced when it hit the adamantine shield but left a deep gash in the metal’s surface.
40Tetsuo followed up with a swing at the machine’s left wing, but the oversized KnightMare swiftly moved out of the way. “I missed!” Tetsuo blurted out in disbelief.
40“But you set him up for me,” Li Jiang said as his KnightMare swung the MVS in its right hand down upon the chest of the bronze giant; the blade only scratched the amethyst-colored crystal dome in the center of the beast’s torso.
40The bronze giant swung its great adamantine club at the Shen-Hu, catching it in the left leg, which was smashed off completely by the blow.
40“This guy’s tough,” Fong told his two wingmen.
40“No kidding,” Gregor said as he dodged a blow from the club.
40The bronze KnightMare flew towards them and spun in the air flaring the tips of its wings out as it did so. The adamantine blades of the wings sliced the right arm and leg off Tetsuo’s Gekka as he tried to dodge them while Gregor’s KnightMare was cut in half at the waist.


* * *

40“I’ve got this bozo, Akira!” Mika said as her Gekka came up under the Talos and swung its sword at the bronze machine.
40The Automatos grabbed the blade of the Type-3F with its clawed gauntlet and crushed the blade. The Talos followed up with a swing of its adamantine sword.
40The blade of Talos was stopped by the Seidotou brake blade of Zangetsu. “Back off!” Akira yelled over the general international radio frequency.
40“That wasn’t half bad,” a voice with a heavy Greek accent spoke in English. “Though three on one isn’t very honorable,” the man said as he dodged Lena’s attack and blasted the arms and legs of her machine off with the Hades Cannon in Talos’ left forearm.
40“Lena!” Akira called out in a panic as her machine fell towards the earth.
40“I’ve got her, Akira,” Mika reassured him as her Gekka caught what was left of Lena’s KnightMare Frame.
40Nobunaga dodged a hail of Hades Cannon fire that Jason’s Automatos shot at him.
40“You fly that machine well,” Jason said over the comm. “What say you to a duel of swords rather than all this shooting?” he asked Akira.
40“Why should I agree to anything you ask?” Nobunaga spat over the radio as he fired the chest slash harken of Zangetsu at the Talos; the weapon only scratched the surface of the machine’s chest armor before bouncing off.
40“Because if you don’t wish to fight me in honorable combat, I can always just blow you out of the sky.” Jason pointed the Hades Cannon at the Zangetsu.
40“I see your point. But what if I win this duel? What’s to stop you from just blowing me away anyway?” Akira told him.
40“If you win, I give you my word as a warrior that I will let you and your fleet of airships go, but what will you do in return should you be defeated?” Jason inquired.
40“If I lose to you, then we’ll surrender to you,” Akira said.
40“Are you insane, Akira?” Lena yelled at him over the radio. “You don’t have the authority to do that.”
40“No,” Nobunaga conceded, “but I don’t think this man cares.”
40“You are correct,” Jason said. “And I agree to your terms. If you win, I’ll let you and your ships go free. If you lose, I expect you all to surrender to me unconditionally. You have my word as a warrior that you and your people will be unharmed if you surrender.”
40“Very well then,” Akira said. “But first I want to know the name of the man I am fighting.”
40“I am Jason…Jason, son of Aeson and champion of Hera,” he told Akira proudly.
40“I am Akira Nobunaga of Japan,” Akira said in a stoic voice.
40Jason had the Talos lift its sword in front of the mirrored facemask in a salute. “Let the best warrior win.”
40Akira mimicked the salute with Zangetsu. “Whenever you’re ready, Jason.”
40“Respect? I didn’t expect that; thank you, Akira.” Talos lunged forward with a thrust of its sword.
40Zangetsu deflected the attack with the brake blade, reversed, and spun around with a backward thrust of the pummel of the sword.
40“Excellent move!” Jason laughed. “But you need to aim more carefully,” the champion of Hera said as he parried the blow with his machine’s gauntlet. The Talos moved back from Zangetsu and swooped in for another attack.
40Akira deflected three swipes of the adamantine sword of his opponent and counterthrust at the right arm of the Automatos; the tip of the Seidotou brake blade dug deep into the armored plating.
40“Very good,” Jason told Akira as a teacher does to his pupil. “I knew you had the gift,” he said pleased with himself. “Few men can match my skill, Akira Nobunaga of Japan, but I believe you are a worthy opponent.”
40“Glad you think so, Jason.” Nobunaga sent Zangetsu into a double spin then shot his KnightMare above Talos in a feint, bringing down the Seidotou brake blade at the head of Talos.
40Jason dove downwards to gain distance between them and flipped his Automatos out of the way just in time as Zangetsu’s blade shaved a bit of the helmet plume of Talos off.
40“You are magnificent,” Jason tittered as he flew back towards the Zangetsu in a thrust which Akira tried to dodge, but at the last moment, Jason cut inwards at the head of Nobunaga’s KnightMare, chopping the red plume of the mecha off completely.
40“You’re not so bad yourself,” Akira retorted as he blocked four more sword attacks by Jason.


* * *

40“This is incredible!” Milly said from the top deck of the Ikaruga. “Are you getting all this, Seiji?” she asked her cameraman.
40The man held the large TV camera on his right shoulder with a tight grip in the turbulent wind outside the airship. “Yes, ma’am, I’m getting it. Boy, those bronze KnightMares are big,” he remarked.
40“Yah, and I bet they’re some new type my old friend Lloyd Asplund came up with,” Milly said with a smirk.
40“I dunno, Mrs. Ashford,” Seiji said in a sheepish tone. “They look kinda Roman or Greek; maybe they’re from the EU?”
40“What? No, you ninny, they’re obviously too advanced to be some terrorist group’s and way to stylish for anybody but Cornelia,” she giggled. “I mean, look at those colors on those things…they’ve got bling!”
40“I think that’s because they’re made of a bronze-colored metal,” Seiji said.
40“Whatever,” she replied nonchalantly as she stood in front of the camera. “You ready?”
40“Yah, but I don’t think we can send a signal. These guys are jamming all communications,” Seiji informed her.
40“Don’t worry about it; just record it,” she told him.
40Seiji gave her a thumbs-up as he pointed the camera at her with the battle raging behind her in the distance.
40“This is Milly Ashford reporting to you from high above the Sydney Coliseum where the International KnightMare Competition has been disrupted by a force of, as of yet, unknown KnightMares. What was to be the first Olympiad has been rudely interrupted by these invaders who even now are engaging the Japan Jaguars and the captain of the Red Dragons.”


* * *

40Milly’s transmission came over the cockpit communication system of the Helios. “Olympiad?” Heracles remarked (in English) with his deep Greek accent over the comm. as he blocked another attack by Li Jiang. “And you didn’t invite us?”
40“No!” Li Jiang said as he unleashed a combination MVS and slash harken attack that did only minor damage to the Helios as Heracles deflected the attacks with its shield.
40“Oh, now there’s no need to be that way about all this,” Heracles scolded him. “Under different circumstances, we may have been comrades.”
40“NEVER!” Li Jiang had had enough; he fired the Tian-e Ba Wang baryon cannon at Helios.
40“Oh, no you don’t,” Heracles said as he activated the Golden Fleece Veil of his Aegis shield. Immediately, a globe of sparkling gold energy engulfed the Helios, deflecting the baryon beam in numerous directions.
40“Damn,” Li Jiang said in awe of the shield.
40“My turn,” Heracles said as he fired his Chaos Gun at the Shen-Hu. The violet-white beam shot forth from the crystal in the center of the Helios directly at the Shen-Hu.
40“MOVE, YOU IDIOT!” Gregor yelled at Li Jiang over the radio as he smashed what was left of his Type-3F into Li Jiang’s machine while ejecting from the doomed KnightMare. The Chaos Gun disintegrated the Gekka but only caught the right half of Li Jiang Fong’s Shen-Hu, melting the torso and glide unit of the machine.
40The Shen-Hu fell towards the earth like a rock.
40“Li Jiang, eject!” Tetsuo barked at him. “EJECT!”
40“I can’t,” he said in frustration. “The ejection unit is fused.”
40“I can help with that,” Heracles said as he flew the Helios down parallel with the Shen-Hu.
40“Why the hell would you help us after trying to kill him?” Tetsuo asked.
40“Because I’m a warrior not a butcher, and a warrior should die in combat with honor not crash into the earth like a stone. To be honest, I’ve no real interest in killing a bunch of Olympian athletes anyway. I only wanted to beat you in a fair fight.” Heracles laughed. “I admit I may have overreacted in firing my Chaos Gun; it was an instinctual response to the attack your comrade made upon me. Allow me to make up for it now, and let me see if I can help get him out of that wreck.” Helios flipped its club around with the handle facing the center torso of the Shen-Hu. “Try your ejection system again.”
40“How do I know this isn’t a trick?” Fong scowled.
40“Because if you don’t allow me to help you now, then you’re as good as dead,” Heracles told him. “The ground is coming up on us quickly.”
40“Whoever you are in the bronze KnightMare, don’t listen to Fong, just get him out of that thing,” Gregor yelled over the radio.
40“As you wish,” Heracles said as Helios pushed the handle of its club through the center of the Shen-Hu slowly, knocking the pilot’s compartment out the back of the machine where an Akatsuki caught it.


* * *

40Akira dodged another swing from the Talos and cut into one of the wings of the Automatos splitting it down the middle but not cutting it off.
40“You’re still not placing your attacks with precision,” Jason said as he cut off the pair of spike shoulder armor on the left side of Zangetsu.
40“You’re just playing with me, aren’t you?” Akira scowled.
40“Nonsense,” Jason told him. “You’ve been holding your own quite well against me, Akira Nobunaga, but I fear you lack the conviction to actually attack me in earnest.”
40“I see no point in taking the life of someone I know nothing about simply to win a battle. I’ll defeat you, but I’ve no intent on killing you,” Akira said.
40“Nor I you, Akira,” Jason said in a stern tone.
40“Unfortunately for you, I don’t have the same convictions!” Villetta let out as she slashed at the left arm of the Talos from above, cutting deep into the hand of the clawed gauntlet with the Katen Yaibatou revolving blade sword of her Jikisan-type Akatsuki.
40“No, Mrs. Nu! Don’t get in the way!” Zangetsu bodychecked the Jikisan away from Talos.
40“What the hell are you doing, Akira?” Villetta yelled at him. “Have you gone crazy?”
40“No,” Jason said as he fired a barrage of Hades Cannon bolts at her Akatsuki. “He’s fighting with honor.” The blasts blew off the right arm and leg of Villetta’s KnightMare sending it into a spin.
40“COACH!” Akira called out as he started to fly Zangetsu towards her falling machine.
40“Stick to the task at hand and don’t get distracted, Akira!” Jason berated him as he slashed at Zangetsu with his adamantine sword.
40Akira barely dodged the swing; the edge of the blade sheered off the knee spike of the left leg of Zangetsu.
40Nobunaga countered with a spinning blade maneuver that caught Jason by surprise. The Seidotou brake blade sliced the clawed gauntleted hand of Talos off completely.
40“Now you’re putting your heart into it!” Jason told him.


* * *

40“You alright?” Sayoko asked Li Jiang as her Akatsuki held the pilot’s compartment of the Shen-Hu in its arms.
40“I’m alive,” he grumbled.
40“Who are these intruders?” Jeremiah asked as his fully armed Jikisan Akatsuki flew up carrying the escape capsule of Gregor’s Gekka.
40“No idea,” Tetsuo said as he came up between the Helios and the others.
40“I,” Heracles declared, “am Heracles of Thebes, champion of Zeus.”
40“Champion of Zeus?” Jeremiah asked in a befuddled tone.
40“Are the gods of Olympus forgotten in this land?” Heracles inquired in response.
40“Not forgotten, Heracles,” Jeremiah explained. “They are honored in our histories and legends, but I find it hard to believe that you’re actually the Heracles of Greek legend.”
40“I see,” Heracles remarked unmoved by Jeremiah’s disbelief. “Much time indeed must have passed for the feats of the Olympians to have passed into legend.”
40“If you somehow really are the Olympian heroes of Greek myth, then why are you attacking us?” Sayoko asked the question of immediate concern.
40“Because, Lady, we are conquering this land,” Heracles stated in a less than enthusiastic manner.
40“I can see that,” Sayoko stated, “but why?”
40“Because we have come to unseat the cripple Empress Nunnally and find the one who usurped her brother, Prince Schneizel, the rightful heir to the throne of the kingdom called Britannia…We have come to flush out and kill Zero,” Heracles said.
40“Not if I have anything to say about it!” Jeremiah exclaimed as his Jikisan handed Gregor’s escape module to Tetsuo’s Gekka and unsheathed its Katen Yaibatou revolving blade sword.
40“Say all you want about it, but words will not avail you against me,” Heracles told him over the radio.
40“Such arrogance!” Jeremiah scoffed as his Jikisan flew in a zigzag pattern towards the Helios.
40Heracles watched the Commander-type Akatsuki weave its way towards him.
40The Jikisan came straight at the Helios, then dove down below it.
40“What the…” Heracles was taken aback by the move.
40Jeremiah fired the chest slash harken at the club in the hand of Helios and knocked it free.
40“Nice move!” Heracles said as he fired the adamantine discus from his Aegis shield. The disc homed in on the Jikisan and nearly cut off its legs, but Jeremiah rolled his KnightMare into a crouched ball position and flipped the Akatsuki in a midair summersault, thus avoiding the attack.
40The Jikisan spun out of the flip and its blade landed hard onto the Chaos Gun of the Automatos, shattering the amethyst crystal dome.
40“You are a warrior worthy of me,” Heracles remarked. “Too bad you underestimated my discus.”
40Jeremiah caught the returning discus out of the corner of his eye just in time to save himself but not the bottom of his KnightMare. The disc cut through the backside of the legs of the Jikisan, severing them completely before returning to the top of the Aegis shield.
40Heracles flew quickly downwards and retrieved the club of Helios from the coliseum field.
40Jeremiah’s Jikisan fired its arm-mounted bazooka and double-barrel cannon at the bronze kolossos; the gold shimmer of the mecha’s veil simply deflected the projectiles.
40“Do you actually think you can defeat a champion of the Gods of Olympus?” Heracles scoffed as he flew up at the Jikisan with his club.
40The Helios was too fast; Jeremiah could not evade the bronze giant as it swung its club down at his Jikisan.
40“Gods of Olympus, huh,” C.C.’s sarcastic voice cut in over the channel. “Let’s see how invincible you are without that shield,” she said as she fired the Zero Beam of Shinkirou at the elbow joint of Helios’ left arm, severing the limb completely.
40“Ahhhhhhh!” Heracles yelled as bolts of electrical energy arced all over the cockpit of his Automatos.


* * *

40“Heracles!” Jason exclaimed in fear for his best friend and comrade.
40“What was that about being distracted?” Akira said as he brought the Seidotou brake blade up into the gray metal belly of Talos, directly under the Chaos Gun. The sword sunk deep into the gray metal of the machine.
40Red warning windows began popping up all over Jason’s console.
40“Not bad, boy,” Jason laughed. “You’re right; I let my guard down. And to think I meant to school you in the way of the warrior.” He sighed. “This has gone on long enough, Akira Nobunaga. I concede that you have defeated me; your fleet is free to leave.”
40The Talos began falling out of the sky as the machine lost power.
40“Jason!” Akira said in concern for the honorable man. “What’s wrong?”
40“You pierced Talos’ main power cell with your sword,” Jason told him. “Now I can no longer control him and will undoubtedly crash and perish.”
40“No!” Akira said as he flew Zangetsu up under Talos. The glider system of the KnightMare Frame slowed the descent significantly but didn’t stop it.
40“I’ll guide you down to the surface,” Nobunaga told Jason.
40“Thank you, Akira,” he said.
40“What about your friend?” Akira asked looking over to where the Helios dodged another of Shinkirou’s Zero Beams.
40Jason opened a channel to the Helios. “Heracles, this battle is over; let the fleet leave without harm and retreat to the coliseum below immediately.”
40“Are you alright, Jason?” Heracles inquired. “I’ve contacted Orpheus and asked for help over here.”
40“You needing help?” Jason taunted him. “That’s new.”
40“Yes, well, they have more powerful Automatos here then we expected.” He dodged another Zero Beam. “That black and gold one is a real daemon.”
40“How soon will Orpheus arrive?” Jason inquired.
40“Any moment now,” Heracles said.
40“Be sure and tell him to let the enemy fleet leave here without incident.” Jason was firm. “I gave the warrior who defeated me my word of honor that I would allow them to go if he won in single combat.”
40“Understood, Captain,” Heracles said. “Are you sure you’re alright, Jason? I see that black Automatos you were fighting clinging to the side of Talos.”
40“Yes, my old friend,” Jason smiled. “Don’t worry about me; I’m in good hands.”


* * *

40“I can’t believe they’re letting us leave,” Captain Chiba said to Jeremiah Gottwald on the bridge of the Ikaruga.
40“We still lost Australia,” he said in a grave tone. “I doubt allowing us to go free will hinder their objectives.”
40“At least we’re alive,” Sayoko told him with a smile.
40“How soon until we reach Japan?” Villetta asked Nagisa.
40“Since your student Akira claims that his newfound friend, the one called Jason, told him we should fly as high as we can to avoid this new enemy’s underwater weapons….at least five days at our current altitude.”
40“Can’t we contact UFN headquarters yet?” Villetta inquired.
40“No,” Chiba told her. “All communications satellites have gone dead. I can only surmise that what the other pilot told Jeremiah is true, and Schneizel is using the Thor to block all of our transmissions via its advanced ECM suite.”
40"But how could Schneizel defy Zero?" CC said aloud, more to herself than the others on the bridge.
40"Why couldn't he defy Zero?" Akira asked as he and the other Japan Jaguars gathered around her with curious expressions on their faces.
40C.C. blushed. "Well...uh...Zero spared his life, he owes him," she stammered.
40"You think Schneizel has somehow broken a Geass that Zero put upon him, don't you C2?" Villetta asked in an accusatory tone.
40C.C. turned away from Villetta's penetrating gaze.
40"What makes you ask that, Mrs. Nu?" Mika asked seeing C.C.'s reaction to her question. "Zero doesn't have the power of Geass, does he?"
40Chiba pursed her lips and looked at the lot of them. "I think we'd better come clean with them, C2. They deserve to know the truth, and only you know the whole story."
40"I can't tell you." C.C. looked at her ashamed. "It's what he wanted. I promised him."
40Captain Nagisa Chiba eyed her sternly. "If by he you mean Lelouch, then you had better consider the fact that his sacrifice was in vain. We've a new enemy out here that isn't going to be swayed by grandiose speeches of justice and liberty. We don't have a prince among their ranks with the power to bend the will of others to help us. They, on the other hand, are at the very least being aided by Lelouch's brother, Schneizel, who knows the strengths and weaknesses of our forces and no doubt has his own scheme in all of this. For all we know, Cornelia might be involved with them as well. I think it's high time you told us who the new Zero is because all of us who served the real Zero know that he's dead. We need to know if the new Zero has the power of Geass and if he can help us against this new threat."
40The Japan Jaguars stood in shock at the words that were coming out of Nagisa's mouth.
40C.C. met Chiba's glare. "The new Zero does not have the power of Geass, of that I am sure. As to who he is...I think you already know, Captain Chiba."
40Chiba humphed. "Suzaku Kururugi isn't dead, is he?"
40C.C. said nothing.
40"Tohdoh thought as much." Nagisa spat the words at C.C. "So, now we have to face this enemy without knowing if they possess Geass."
40"They do," C.C. told her turning her head away. "The Geass Order knew of the Great Society of the Gods that existed before the flood that ended their civilization and killed them, or so we thought. Apparently, we were wrong."
40"Yah, I'd say you were wrong!" Mika blurted out.
40"Who cares if they have Geass? These people are honorable," Akira protested. "We can reason with them and negotiate a peaceful resolution to all of this."
40"That might be true of their warriors, Mr. Nobunaga, but not necessarily of their leaders," Jeremiah told him with a frown. "Their leaders are the ones that sent them here to conquer Australia, and if they've conspired with Schneizel to kill Zero and perhaps even Empress Nunnally, then we must consider them a great threat."
40"Which means we have to have Geass users on our side," Sayoko pointed out. "That way we can at least try and even up the odds."
40"Well, C2?" Villetta said with a narrow-eyed look. "You're the one who gave Lelouch his Geass power, so I assume you could give it to us as well."
40"It's not that easy!" C.C. shouted. "When I give someone the power of Geass, part of their consciousness merges with my own and thus we each gain a part of each other's mind. It's not like I can hand out the power to just anyone."
40"Well, who can you give the power of Geass to?" Gregor inquired.
40"Only someone I make a contract with." C.C.'s voice trembled as the others gathered around her; she felt trapped, cornered.
40"So, make a contract with one of us," Tetsuo growled.
40"I can't..." C.C. said with tension rising in her voice. "It isn't that easy. You don't understand. For me to grant Geass to someone, they have to be special." She held back her frustration at the feelings that threatened to break her countenance. "They have to be someone I...." She hung her head.
40"Someone you what?" Jeremiah inquired.
40"SOMEONE SHE LOVES, YOU BLOCKHEADS!" Milly Ashford's voice rang out through the bridge from the captain's mezzanine.
40"Mrs. Ashford, the bridge is off-limits to unauthorized personnel!" Captain Chiba barked at her.
40"I have authorization," Milly giggled. "From your boyfriend, no less." She held up the special badge that Tohdoh had issued to the Tokyo Broadcasting Station as a public relations gesture for the International KnightMare Competition.
40Smiles cracked across the faces of everyone present; everyone except for Nagisa, that is, whose face had gone beet red.
40"My relationship to General Tohdoh is no one's business but my own." Chiba tried to sound firm, but a grin threatened to break her resolve.
40Milly threw up her arms haphazardly. "Whatever. That still doesn't change the fact that the only way C2 is going to give someone a Geass is if she's in love with them. And I highly doubt any of us can compare to Lulu. He certainly had my heart for a time and several other women too."
40C.C. blushed at Milly's comments.
40"I've always wondered why Lelouch never pursued any of us." Milly’s demeanor became sad. "Especially Shirley...Guess I know why now." Milly clasped her hands together. "You were his secret love," she sighed.
40"Are you finished, Milly?" Villetta said with her hands on her hips as her left eyebrow twitched in irritation at Milly Ashford's interruption.
40"For now," Milly snickered as she smiled at Villetta.


* * *

40"What do you mean a fleet of airships has escaped Australia?" Sthenno inquired of Schneizel on the bridge of the Thor. The goddess stood looking out at the partially uncovered city of Tartarus as Doctor Viviane's crew continued to unearth the ancient metropolis from the ice of Antarctica.
40"The global surveillance satellite over the Pacific has detected a flotilla of six airships, at maximum altitude for their types, heading towards Japan," Schneizel told her smoothly. “Apparently, your man Jason has made a critical error.”
40“Perhaps I should go to find out why he allowed this fleet to escape,” Euryale said from the place where she stood in the center of the bridge.
40“Yes,” Sthenno grimaced, “go with Medusa in the Gorgon and take a legion of Harpy Automatos with you. I want that fleet of airships destroyed before it reaches Japan.”
40“As you wish, my sister.” Euryale bowed and went to fetch Medusa.


* * *

40Kannon sat on Captain Kozuki’s bed looking through her personal diary and learning much about the fiery redhead.
40“Kallen, you poor thing,” he said to himself as he read the pages of her mixed feelings for Lelouch. “You’re still in love with him even now.”
40The door to the cabin opened up and a raven-haired young woman in the jumpsuit of an Automatos pilot entered.
40“So, this is where you’ve gone,” Medusa cooed at Kannon.
40“Excuse me?” he said confused. “Am I needed on the bridge?”
40“No.” The girl giggled as she unzipped her jumpsuit to expose the tops of her breasts down just to the edge of the pink of her nipples. “You’re needed here. I’ve had my eye on you, Kannon, since I first saw you.”
40“I’m sorry, Medusa,” Kannon said, unnerved by her unexpected advance. “But my heart belongs to someone else, and I don’t know you.”
40Medusa walked over to him and took the book from his hands. She let it drop to the floor as she pushed Kannon down on the bed. “I don’t want your heart, my beauty.” She laughed wickedly. “And you’ll know me soon enough.”
40“No, I don’t want…” Kannon started to protest, but Medusa pinned him to the bed and kissed him passionately on the lips; her chest rubbed up against his body as she did so.
40The woman tore his shirt open.
40“MEDUSA!” Euryale’s voice called out from behind her.
40Medusa’s face contorted into a vicious scowl. “What do you want?” she sneered.
40“I want you to leave that boy alone and prepare to depart for Japan immediately,” Euryale told her with a firm voice.
40Medusa leaned in next to Kannon’s left ear and put the lobe of it in her mouth; she suckled it briefly and said, “Don’t worry, my sweet boy, I shall have you when I return.”
40Kannon didn’t say anything as Medusa slid off of his body and zipped up her jumpsuit. She smiled and blew him a kiss before departing with Euryale.
40“This madness must end.” His voice shook uncontrollably. “I’ve got to warn the world,” he cried to himself. “I’ve got to tell someone….but who?” He contemplated the myriad of possible people that would listen to him, and only one name came to mind.
40“Nina.” He said her name to comfort himself. “I’ve got to escape from here and find Nina.” Kannon got up from the bed and closed his shirt as he headed out the door for the main hangar of the Thor. A plan of action began brewing in his head as he made his way down to the flight deck.

Kodai Okuda
09-12-2010, 12:52 AM
Turn Seven: Decisions
40“How many years had Lelouch thought over his grand scheme of a new world? Had it been upon our first arrival in Japan? Or perhaps it was when we met Suzaku? I guess I may never know what went through his mind when Charles berated him that day before the court of Britannian nobles. It changed something inside him and solidified his decision to bring down Britannia and change the world. I wish he would have spoken to me about it. Maybe I could have changed his mind and lessened his burden…maybe I could’ve helped him come to a different decision.” —Excerpt from the personal diary of Empress Nunnally vi Britannia, dated August 8th, 2025 a.t.b.

40Zero walked down the hall of the top floor of the UFN headquarters. A bank of large windows flanked his left side as he trod down the corridor in the dim light of the ceiling fixtures that illuminated the path in front of him. Outside the windows he could see the lights of the city of Kyoto as they lit up the twilight sky of Japan.
40Suzaku thought of the urgency of the whole situation that was now the buzz of the entire UFN delegation and the reason Zhou Xianglin had brought Nunnally, Kaguya, and the Tianzi here so quickly. It had already been a few hours since his arriving at the UFN headquarters building and he was beginning to worry about Nunnally. Zhou had ushered Nunnally off to the UFN council chambers almost as soon as their aerial shuttle had landed on the grounds of the UFN building and practically ordered Zero to report here, the personal office of General Kyoshiro Tohdoh.
40Suzaku came to the door at the end of the long hallway and knocked.
40“Come in,” the hardened voice of Tohdoh said from the other side of the egress.
40Zero entered the room. “You wish to see me, General?” Standing in front of his former sensei, Suzaku’s modulated voice sounded tacky to his ears. He contemplated turning off the device but changed his mind.
40“Do you know why I’ve asked you here, Zero?” Tohdoh stared directly at him.
40“I assume it is due to the terrorist attacks on our expedition to Antarctica,” Zero said flatly.
40“Terrorist attack?” Kyoshiro laughed. “The ghost of Imperial Britannia is hardly a terrorist attack.”
40Ghost of Imperial Britannia? What does he mean? “I don’t follow you, General,” Zero said.
40Tohdoh raised his chin. “Schneizel is a traitor and is conspiring with his sister Cornelia.” It was a lie, but Kyoshiro intended to flush out whatever information that Zero might already know of the situation.
40“That is impossible,” Zero said bluntly. “Schneizel would never betray Britannia, and we would never betray the UFN.”
40“Don’t you mean Schneizel would never betray you?” Tohdoh gambled that Lelouch had ensured his older brother would be subservient to Zero via his power of Geass.
40What? Suzaku was taken off guard. Could he have learned what really happened? Does Tohdoh know what the Zero Requiem really was? “No, I meant that Schneizel pledged his allegiance to Empress Nunnally and to me, Zero…”
40Tohdoh cut him short. “Do you take me for a fool? Schneizel would never give up on his dream of world domination over a simple oath or pledge.” Kyoshiro frowned. “The Britannian rulers have no sense of honor. Charles Britannia didn’t, Clovis did not, Lelouch had no honor, Cornelia held her own twisted sense of it, and Schneizel used it as a tool to manipulate others for his own ambitions…even poor Euphemia lacked any sense of it, which is why she fell victim to her own naiveté.”
40How dare he? Suzaku clenched his fists as he fumed under the mask. “Euphemia was only a pawn in Lelouch’s plans; she was innocent.”
40Tohdoh smiled; he had gotten the answer he wanted. Only one person would be so quick to single out and protect Euphemia’s honor from the list of names he had given. “Is that so?” He waited a moment for any reaction from Zero before continuing, “None of them can be described as innocent, especially Euphemia. She corrupted my greatest student and a person I once thought of as a friend into her personal Knight of Britannia causing him to abandon his own people, undoubtedly for her own childish whims. His name was Suzaku Kururugi; have you ever heard of him, Zero?”
40Tohdoh, you bastard! Rage burned in Suzaku’s head clouding his judgment. “Is this why you’ve called me here, to discuss the problems of the dead?”
40“Schneizel and Cornelia are quite alive and a very grave threat. I was simply pointing out that your supposition about Schneizel remaining loyal to you due to some sense of honorable fealty was ludicrous.” Kyoshiro was pleased with himself. He had unnerved Zero and thrown him off balance, which was all the proof Tohdoh needed to be convinced that he was right about this man; this Zero was Suzaku.
40Emotion seized Suzaku. “There is NO possible way Schneizel would betray me!”
40“Don’t you mean Britannia?” Tohdoh eyed him. “Or are you certain that your friend and conspirator Lelouch vi Britannia used his Geass on him.”
40“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Suzaku stated defensively. “Empress Nunnally would never betray the peace her brother gave his life to create, and you know it!”
40“Then if you didn’t order Schneizel to commit this act of aggression against the UFN, who did?” Tohdoh activated the wall-screen at the far end of his office. “This was the last transmission we received before our communications satellites went dead fourteen hours ago. A video started showing the last recording of the African Black Knight forces near Port Elizabeth being attacked by an army of Gloucester and Vincent Ward KnightMare Frames.
40“Cape Town was completely destroyed by a tidal wave ten minutes before Port Elizabeth was attacked,” Kyoshiro told him.
40Zero stared at the images in total silence.
40“We think the tidal wave was caused by an underwater FLEIJA explosion,” Tohdoh said calmly. “We both know who the only person is that could develop a FLEIJA weapon of this type, don’t we?”
40“Nina,” Zero whispered.
40“Precisely,” Kyoshiro said. “That is why I need your help.”
40“My help? What is it you wish me to do?” Suzaku was stunned by the information that Tohdoh had shown him.
40“You are the man the people trust…the Knight of Justice.” Tohdoh gave him a narrow-eyed look. “You must convince the people of Britannia, and the world, that we must go to war with Schneizel and Cornelia so that we can restore peace. You must also convince them that this whole mess is due to the weakness and obfuscation of polices and ambitions of the UFN.”
40“You’re asking me to betray the UFN and Empress Nunnally,” Zero said in disbelief at Tohdoh's words. “I cannot do that, General, and you know it.”
40“Not even for Japan?” Kyoshiro asked. “Do you care so much for Britannia and the UFN that its 99th emperor created that you would turn your back on us again?”
40Suzaku’s rage got the better of him, and the emotional wounds of six years ago reopened. “AGAIN! It wasn’t me that betrayed Japan. I tried to save it! I tried to stop the bloodshed, the death of innocent people. It was you and the fools in Kyoto House! If you hadn’t continued the war with Britannia, there would never have been a rebellion, never been an Order of the Black Knights, never been a UFN. Lelouch would never have gotten involved with you, and Euphie would still be….” He caught himself before he went too far, but it was too late.
40“Alive?” Tohdoh’s expression was stone. “Don’t you think it’s time to put these demons to rest…Suzaku?” Kyoshiro walked up to Zero and placed his hand on his shoulder. “You’ve done enough Kururugi; you needn't continue to pretend to be something you’re not. Lelouch was Zero, not you. You are a soldier, a warrior, the way I trained you to be, not some dog of Britannia, the UFN, or the Black Knights. You are Japanese and you are samurai, the way I made you!”
40Tohdoh’s words cut deep into Suzaku’s psyche. Images of he and Kyoshiro training together, Tohdoh instructing him, and his father and mother smiling at his progress under Kyoshiro’s tutorship all flashed through his mind.
40"I can't just turn my back on her, Kyoshiro," Zero said. "Empress Nunnally is all alone out there, and I swore an oath to protect her. What good is the honor you speak of if I can't even keep the promise I made to do that?"
40Tohdoh frowned. "Are you ignoring what's going on here?" Kyoshiro leaned in close to the mask. "We're talking about Britannia rebuilding itself! You may have been able to keep the former lords from overthrowing you and your precious Nunnally before, but not now, Suzaku! As soon as word leaks out that Schneizel and Cornelia have joined forces to unseat her and reform Imperial Britannia, there is NOTHING you will be able to do to stop them, and then what will you do? They have FLEIJA! We do not! We have to act now while we still have the advantage."
40Suzaku knew that if Tohdoh was right, and Schneizel had somehow broken Lelouch's Geass command on him, then he had to act...and fast. "Very well," he said. "I will recommend we apprehend and bring Schneizel to justice, but I demand that Nunnally have a chance to speak to both Cornelia and Schneizel before I am willing to entertain a call to arms against them."
40Kyoshiro removed his hand from Zero's shoulder and walked back behind his desk. He turned his back to Suzaku and looked out the large picture window of his office to streets of the city below. "You may have your communiqué with Cornelia and Schneizel if we can arrange it. However, if your precious Nunnally cannot convince them to lay down their arms and surrender, I will recommend a full-scale invasion of South America."
40"I hope it doesn't come to that, General," Zero said.
40"Are you really going to continue to deny who you are?" Tohdoh asked in a cool tone.
40"Suzaku Kururugi is dead," Zero told him harshly. "Only Zero remains."
40"I see," Kyoshiro said looking out the window. "You may go now...Zero."


* * *

40"You see anything, Tamaki?" Gino asked as they slunk around the side of a building under the cover of darkness of the cold am hours of the South American night.
40Tamaki held a pair of micro-binoculars in front of him. "Yep," he replied as he watched the Azul Defense Force trucks unload all four of their KnightMare Frames into a large well-lit warehouse, "those are our Type-21s alright."
40"Great," Lt. Weinberg snarled. "Now what the hell are we gonna do?"
40"Get them back," Kallen said as she came up behind them. "Anya and I spent most of the day scouting out the perimeter of this place. It doesn't look very heavily guarded, and there's practically no video or audio surveillance equipment around here. We should be able to get in and fly out without too much trouble."
40"There has been an increase in activity though," Anya added taking out her small PDA-sized pocket-computer. "According to the principality's military communications network, there seems to be a general order for all of the provincial territories to go on high alert. That doesn't sound like something you'd need to do for just the four of us."
40"So once we're actually in the air, we'll be in for a fight the whole way out of Cornelia's territory." Gino frowned. "Not good, Captain."
40"We don't have any choice," Kallen said in a serious tone. "If we stay here much longer, someone is bound to find us. We can't afford to get captured."
40"I hear that," Tamaki said. "I say we just storm in there right now and take our fighters back."
40"And die in the process." Anya rolled her eyes. "I think we should try and sneak in through the rear loading dock. It looked like one of the rusted main doors back there is stuck partially open. We should be able to slip underneath and into the building from there. Chances are good that our KnightMares will be held towards the front of the warehouse, and thus we should have a better chance of concealing ourselves until we get the opportunity to reclaim our machines."
40"Yeah, whatever," Tamaki grumbled. "I prefer the direct approach, but if you ladies want to take the back door in, then I'm cool with that too."
40"Okay, tough guy," Kallen laughed. "I guess we'll let you go in first then."
40"We better get going," Gino told them as he looked up into the dim light of the early morning sky. "Those lights in the distance look like an airship. I'll bet it's coming to take possession of our Type-21s."
40"They're not wasting any time, are they?" Kallen sneered.
40"Neither should we," Anya said as she started around the corner of the backside of the building they crouched next to.
40"Wait up for us, Anya," Gino told the girl as he and the others followed closely behind.
40Within a few minutes, the group of Black Knights weaved their way along the backsides of the buildings which abutted the large warehouse. They found their way to the loading dock area which was littered with broken concrete and scrubs of weeds pushing their way upward through the tarmac.
40The four members of the Yamato no Orochi crept to the open loading door as silently as the terrain would allow.
40Using hand gestures, Kallen signaled Tamaki to go in first, followed by Gino, then Anya, then herself.
40"It's pretty dark in here," Tamaki whispered to Gino.
40"Quiet," Lt. Weinberg told him softly as they felt their way through the darkness of the loading dock in the back of the building.
40"I found a doorknob," Tamaki said as he stopped at the entrance. "Should I open it?" he asked holding onto it.
40"Might as well," Kallen whispered from her crouched position at the back of the line, "but do it slowly."
40Tamaki turned the door handle as cautiously as he could and eased the entrance open quietly. The doorway led to a dimly lit corridor that ran the length of the rear of the warehouse. Doors lined the opposite side of the door Tamaki held open as did two other corridors.
40Tamaki motioned the all clear signal with his hand, and the others filed out into the hallway single file with their pistols at the ready.
40"Which way?" Gino asked Kallen at the front of the line.
40She motioned for him to go down the first hall at their left.
40They rounded the corner and followed the dimly lit hall to another door at its far end.
40Tamaki (at the front of the line again) looked towards Kallen, who nodded in reply to his silent question. He opened the door inwards to reveal an iron frame stairway leading upwards toward the catwalks above a large, brightly lit, central storage area. In the center of this area were crews of military personnel working busily around the four Type-21 KnightMare Frames as they loaded them into service gantries.
40"We'd better move fast, or else they'll have our KnightMares locked down," Gino told Kallen.
40Captain Kozuki looked over the mass of technicians, engineers, and soldiers that surrounded the four KnightMares. “This isn’t going to be easy. We’ll have to move in two teams and take the guards down first. There are six of them: two at the main doors, two on the scaffolding above us, and two at the back of the warehouse near the door to the control booth. We need to take down the two on the scaffolding and the two at the control booth entrance. Avoid the two at the entrance; even if they shoot at us, they’ll have to fire their guns on semiautomatic, or else they might hit their own men.”
40Kallen looked at Lt. Alstreim. “Anya, you and I will head for the energy filler trucks on the far wall of the warehouse. We’ll have to move them quickly and replace our energy fillers.” She turned to Gino. “You and Tamaki will have to provide cover fire while Anya and I refill our KnightMare Frames.”
40“This plan sounds pretty weak, Kallen,” Tamaki complained.
40“You got a better one?” Kallen asked him with a sarcastic grin.
40He shrugged his shoulders.
40Kallen chuckled, “Didn’t think so.” She gave Gino a smile. “You ready to do this?”
40“As I’ll ever be,” he replied with a wink.
40“Let’s go,” Kallen said as she darted out of their concealed area near the door, firing on the two guards on the scaffolding above them as she ran out towards the KnightMare loading trucks with Anya right behind her.
40Anya took both of the guards on the catwalk down with carefully placed shots to their legs; the two men writhed in pain holding their wounded legs on the metal floor of the walkway.
40Gino and Tamaki shot down the two guards at the entrance to the booth. Gino hit one in the right shoulder and leg while Tamaki hit the left arm and thigh of the other.
40The two guards at the entrance to the warehouse fired on Gino and Tamaki causing them to take cover behind an upturned metal shop bench whilst the technicians and engineers ran for cover to escape the crossfire of the gun battle.
40“Hurry up, Kallen!” Tamaki yelled over to her as he caught a glimpse of the people in the control booth frantically calling for help on their radio.
40Kallen and Anya split up from one another as each of them jumped into the open cab of an energy filler truck and started the low-riding machines. The electric motors of the vehicles started up immediately, and both women pulled them out towards the four KnightMare Frames that had been moved into positions just in front of the service gantries.
40The two women moved the trucks into position next to their Type-21s as bullets ricocheted off the metal skin of the trucks.
40Kallen started moving the metal arm of the energy filler truck up to the plug-in of her Shogun when the truck’s arm exploded into a mass of twisted metal from a projectile hitting it.
40Kozuki shielded her face as small pieces of burning metal fell everywhere. “What the hell?” she yelled out.
40“Gloucesters!” Tamaki cried out.
40Six of the fifth-generation KnightMare Frames rode into the warehouse and leveled their autocannons at the four Black Knights. A blinding spotlight flooded the interior of the cargo bay as a mass of some twenty soldiers ran in and formed a line at the feet of the large metal warmachines.
40“All men, prepare to fire!” a female officer standing at the head of the troop demanded.
40The Azul Defense Force troopers raised their weapons at Kallen and her team while the KnightMares lowered their autocannons to the level required for personnel neutralization.
40“READY!” the female officer barked.
40“Gino, Anya, Tamaki, RUN!!” Kallen called out to them as she moved the truck around to ram it into the mass of soldiers.
40“TAKE AIM!” the Azul officer continued.
40“STOP!” a female voice commanded as she walked out of the blinding light towards the interior of the warehouse. Her glasses reflected the light from the headlights of the energy filler truck that Kallen had managed to move around to face the Azul forces.
40The short woman’s appearance became clear as she entered the building. Her long green hair wrapped around the shoulders of her white lab coat that covered the pink-red skirt and blouse she wore underneath it.
40She adjusted her glasses before addressing the Yamato no Orochi. “It’s been a long time, Kallen,” Nina snickered.


* * *

40“I don’t understand why I can’t raise Schneizel on the communications system,” Nunnally complained to Kaguya and Lihua as they stood within an antechamber of the UFN council building.
40“I’ve heard that all international communications are out,” Jiang told her as she poured them all some tea.
40“When do you think this darn meeting will start anyway?” Kaguya Sumeragi complained as she took one of the steaming cups the Tianzi handed her.
40“Now,” Zhou said as she entered the antechamber to fetch the three women.
40Nunnally (on her cybernetic legs), Kaguya, and Lihua walked slowly but gracefully to the main chambers of the UFN. It was Kaguya’s idea to move at a leisurely pace, not only for Empress Nunnally’s sake, but for the effect of not being at the beck and call of the United Federation of Nation’s council.
40The council chamber was a large bowl-shaped room with a circular bottom surrounded by tiers of seats that ran up to a walkway at the back of the large meeting hall. The council was filled to capacity when the three women entered the chamber and took their prearranged seats at the head of the assembly.
40The emergency meeting of the UFN council had already begun.
40“This is intolerable!” a corpulent French representative of the EU shouted out to his fellow members. “The sakuradite in Antarctica was to be for the whole world’s use, not the petty ambitions of the former Britannian monarchy.”
40“We should have arrested all of them from the start,” a black woman of the African delegation bellowed from the top tier of the assembly.
40“Let’s not forget that it was Britannia that developed the FLEIJA in the first place,” a bearded elderly Italian representative declared with a raised fist.
40Zhou came to the head of the governing body and slammed the gavel down hard upon the podium. The reverberation of the microphone-enhanced impact vibrated the bickering delegation into their seats.
40“ORDER! This meeting is now in session!” Zhou yelled at them. “Empress Nunnally of Britannia, Empress Jiang Lihua of the Chinese Federation, and Lady Kaguya Sumeragi of the United States of Japan are now present and presiding over this emergency meeting by order of the commander-in-chief of the UFN armed forces, General Kyoshiro Tohdoh.”
40“What?” the Frenchman exclaimed. “Why would he put the Empress of Britannia at the head of this conclave when it is her brother and sister who are responsible for this FLEIJA attack?”
40“FLEIJA attack?” Nunnally was shocked and angered by the accusation. “Cornelia would never use such a weapon!”
40“How dare you feign ignorance!” he shouted at her. “We know you’ve conspired with them against us. You are a traitor!”
40Kaguya shot him a venomous glare. “Do you have actual evidence of this Monsieur Le Fiat, or did you just scry that information out of the last doughnut you plopped in that fat orifice you call a mouth!”
40The man was mortified by Sumeragi’s verbal assault. “It is no secret that you are a friend of Madame Nunnally, Lady Kaguya. I’ve no doubt that Japan has a stake in acquiring a share of the sakuradite that now rests in the hands of Chancellor Schneizel.” Le Fiat’s beady little eyes moved over to the Tianzi. “And what of the Chinese Federation, are they apart of this as well?”
40Jiang Lihua raised her chin towards him defiantly. “Are you insinuating that a conspiracy exists between us?”
40“Yes! Why wouldn’t there be?” the Italian man joined in. “We know that the three of you were traveling here together from Britannia for the original UFN meeting. Perhaps it was to iron out the details of who shall get what share of the spoils of this scheme.”
40“That is preposterous!” the Tianzi yelled at the man. “We were traveling together to…”
40“Discuss the situation with me in private!” Zero said as he walked down towards the center of the chamber. Whispers amongst the representatives surrounded him and spread throughout the congress as he made his way to the bottom.
40“Is it really him?” Le Fiat inquired aloud to the assembly. “Is he really Zero?’
40Kaguya snickered, “Yah, he’s a zero alright.”
40Muffled laughter bounced around the room.
40“Kaguya!” Jiang Lihua glared at her. “They all can hear you with your microphone on.”
40Sumeragi’s face turned red. “Whoops,” she said as she slumped down into her seat.
40Suzaku ignored his cousin’s comment as he addressed the council. “General Tohdoh has briefed me on the situation, and I recommend we contact both Cornelia Ceasaro and Chancellor Schneizel in order to get their side of this situation.”
40“As if they would tell us the truth?” the African delegate yelled at him. “Are you aware of the attack on Port Elizabeth and the destruction of Cape Town?”
40Gasps filled the room as the shock of the news filtered through the representatives.
40The ebony woman continued, “Not that we can ask them anyway, as all of our satellite communications have gone completely dead, making intercontinental transmissions impossible.”
40“Yes, I am aware of the attacks and the communication problem that succeeded them,” Zero told her. “But we must still pursue this in an orderly and diplomatic way so as not to precipitate an unnecessary conflict. We have no solid proof that Cornelia and Schneizel are working together. Cornelia may have no knowledge of any of this. If we attack her without just cause, we will only be giving Schneizel an ally should this be all part of some elaborate scheme of his.”
40“Perhaps Zero is correct,” the burly gentleman from the Russian delegation told his fellow congressmen. “Maybe we should have all the facts before we pass judgment on Cornelia and Schneizel.” The wizened old man smiled in Zero’s direction.
40Suzaku nodded at him in thanks before turning towards Nunnally. “Empress Nunnally, in light of the situation surrounding our international communications grid being shut down, I can only come to the conclusion that this problem is due to the advanced ECM suite of the Thor. I have sought out the advice of someone familiar with this form of technology and asked her here to give suggestions on how we might overcome this problem.” Zero outstretched his arm towards the blonde-haired Indian beauty at the top of the stair he had come down. “Gentlemen and lady-congressmen, may I present to you Professor Rakshata Chawla.”
40Rakshata gracefully waltzed down the staircase with her trusty long-pipe in hand and an entourage of technicians in tow who were carrying a holographic overhead projection device.
40Kaguya gave Rakshata a smile and a concealed wave of Hi with her left hand. Rakshata smiled back at her while she waited for the technicians to finish setting up the projection device; they were done in a few moments.
40Professor Chawla addressed the conclave. “Ladies and gentlemen of the UFN council, I believe I have come up with a plan to restore most of our communications array quickly.” The projector came to life and created a 3D holographic representation of the globe above Rakshata.
40“If we position transmission and receiver pods along these positions with high-altitude balloons and glide-device anchors,” red dots appeared on the 3D globe above Rakshata, “we should be able to restore communications between the continents via shortwave radio. After that, we can use the ground-based systems on land to relay information.”
40“Balloons?” the woman from the African delegation asked with a skeptical eye at the digital model. “And how long will this take to implement?”
40“With our current fleet of airships and Type-21s,” Professor Chawla smiled, “eight hours, maximum.”
40Zero looked over the assembly of delegates. "If we are to maintain peace and justice as an international body, then we must try to establish communications with the accused parties before we simply make an offensive move against them. I ask you all to vote now and make a decision as to whether or not we should put Rakshata's plan into action at once."
40The conclave of representatives muttered amongst themselves for fifteen minutes before Kaguya stood up and asked, "Shall we take a vote on whether or not to put this plan to work immediately?" Sumeragi waited for a show of hands. "Very well then, we shall vote on Rakshata's plan now. Let those for the plan raise their hands." The bulk of the representatives raised their right arms. "And those against?" A few arms went up. "That’s that then," Kaguya smirked. "The yeas have it! We shall put Professor Chawla's plan to work immediately."


* * *

40"Papua New Guinea is our best chance of making up some time," Chiba told the group that stood on the bridge of the Ikaruga as she took another sip of her morning coffee. The midmorning sun clashed with the digital map that showed northern Australia and the Papua New Guinea islands.
40Villetta swallowed a slug of orange juice from a carton she held then asked, “Isn’t there a UFN airbase near the Owen Stanley Mountains just to the north of Port Moresby?”
40“Yes, it’s a small base, but it should have enough supplies and equipment to allow us to repair our damaged KnightMares and rearm our fleet. I think the elite Black Knight Brilliant Lance squadron is stationed there also, which means that the base has at least twelve Type-21 Variable KnightMare Frames,” Chiba stated.
40“So we’ll have adequate protection while we rearm and replenish our ship stores,” Jeremiah said as he monitored the overhead viewscreen data that Nagisa had brought up on the viewer. “Would it be possible to unload the civilians there?” he continued.
40“Anxious to get off my ship so soon are you?” Chiba teased him.
40“No,” he smirked. “I was just thinking that we should get those not experienced in combat to safety should we find ourselves in battle again.”
40Chiba gave him a troubled look. “I don’t think Papua New Guinea would be the place to drop them off.”
40“You think this new enemy will attack there soon, don’t you, Nagisa?” Villetta inquired.
40“That would be the most logical course of action for them.” C.C. crunched down a mouthful of shredded wheat cereal and milk from the captain’s mezzanine. “They have the military advantage; I can’t see them stopping at Australia for longer then they need to secure their position.”
40“Then we better hurry and get there before they do,” Jeremiah told his three compatriots. “Otherwise, we’ll have no chance of making it to Japan.”


* * *

40“I don’t like leaving Hephaestus alone in Tartarus, my Prince,” Sthenno said in a snarky tone from the command chair she sat in on the bridge of the Thor. The morning sunlight glinted off her raven-black hair giving it the sheen of finely polished black-opal, which enhanced her already radiant beauty.
40“We shall be gone for only a day at most, my Goddess,” Schneizel told her with a warm smile. “Your warrior, Jason, has yet to achieve dominance over the Australian continent, and we cannot afford to lose much more time. Therefore, I thought it best if I convince the people of Australia to ally with us. We’re already behind schedule, which could allow the UFN to gain some time and mount a counteroffensive should your sisters fail…”
40“They will not!” she cut him short. “The Harpies and the Gorgon may not be fast enough to catch the renegade fleet of airships, were the enemy flotilla to continue to fly on to Japan, but since they’ve chosen to change their course and head for the islands above Australia, it is wise to assume they will stop there to rejuvenate their ships and rearm.”
40“I agree, that is a logical course of action for them to take.” Schneizel gave her a worried look. “However, if that is the case, then your sisters may be in danger.”
40“Oh?” Sthenno asked with a raised brow. “And why is that, my Prince?”
40“I believe the base in Papua New Guinea is equipped with Type-21O Outback KnightMare Frames. Those KnightMares are heavily armed versions of the standard type of tenth-generation variable KnightMare, and since it seems that Jason’s Automatos were evenly matched with the few seventh- and eighth-generation KnightMares they encountered in Australia, I’d hate to think what could happen if they engaged tenth-generation types.”
40“And you thought to tell me this only now!” Sthenno snarled at him.
40“Please do not be angry, my Goddess; I had no idea the fugitives would flee to Papua New Guinea. However…” Schneizel paused, “if you would permit me to convert what remains of the Australian Defense Forces to our cause, then we could overwhelm the Black Knight force near the Owen Stanley Mountain range. It will take at least twelve hours for the renegades to resupply their craft. We’ve plenty of time to reach Australia and deploy a force of converts to crush the Papua New Guinea defenses and thus take the chain of islands. At the same time, we can send Euryale and her force of Harpies to the Philippine Islands to ambush this fleet once it crosses over them.”
40“What makes you think they’ll fly to the Philippines?” Sthenno’s expression softened as her curiosity got hold of her.
40“They could have bypassed Papua New Guinea and flew straight to Japan at low altitude much faster then they are traveling now.” Schneizel pressed a button on a nearby control console and brought up a map of the Philippine Sea area with six red dots representing the Black Knight fleet. “They’re traveling at high altitude and moving towards large land masses. It doesn’t make sense for them do this when they could’ve just jaunted across the open ocean much faster. Unless, of course, they know of the fate of the armada Charybdis destroyed at Kerguelen Island, then it would make sense for them to take the course of action they’re currently employing.” Schneizel gave Sthenno a grave look. “However, there is no way the Australian forces would have known the fate of the force we destroyed at Kerguelen due to the fact we created a worldwide communications blackout almost as soon as Tohdoh was informed of what happened to the combined African-Australian fleet. The timing of the blackout was perfect.”
40“Meaning?” Sthenno eyed him cautiously.
40He walked over to her and knelt down in front of her. “Meaning we have a traitor in our midst, my Goddess; someone who told the Black Knight fleet of Charybdis and how to avoid it.”
40Sthenno regarded him for several moments before she caressed his cheek gently. “You are correct, my Prince, and I’ve no doubt it is Jason and his Argonauts who’ve done this thing. Vengeance and honor are one and the same to them. He probably feels that I’ve betrayed him because we had him attack Australia during the Olympiad that you spoke of to me before I sent Jason there. The men of my culture are fickle like that. To them, sport is akin to hero worship or obedience to one’s deity. To interrupt sport for the sake of conquest is viewed as an injustice by Jason and his men who are regrettably among the most honor-bound men of Tartarus. Therefore, to appease his honor he will seek vengeance upon us.”
40“Honor is an annoyance at times,” Schneizel smiled at her. “However, it can be put to good use provided Scylla has the same sense of honor.”
40“Oh?” she tittered seductively. “What are you driving at, Prince Schneizel?”
40He took her hand in his. “Jason and his men have deprived her of a chance at striking down this fleet of renegades by informing them of the power of her Charybdis. That treasonous act of disgrace must be punished.”
40Sthenno cackled wickedly, then bent down and kissed him on the lips. “You are a cunning one, aren’t you, my Prince? Indeed, I shall have Scylla shadow Jason and his Argonauts as they make their way towards Japan. Once they have crushed the UFN in Kyoto, I shall have her destroy him along with the whole miserable country.”
40“Prince Schneizel,” a female navigational officer interrupted.
40“What is it?” he asked as he stood up.
40“A supersonic-high-altitude-shuttle (SHAS) has just launched from the top KnightMare bay.
40“WHAT!” Sthenno barked as she looked around the bridge. “Where’s Kannon?” she hissed.


* * *

40Kannon held onto the flight-stick of the SHAS for dear life. Even in the special supersonic flight suit he wore, he could feel his body being pushed down deep into the g-couch chair as the little triangular-shaped ship flew at Mach 25 (19,000 mpg/30,400 kph).
40Palmer Island was a blur underneath him that was there and gone in a blinding flash as he zipped over the Antarctic coastline in seconds while his craft flew at low altitude supersonic speed. His cheeks threatened to push up into his eye sockets as the g’s kicked in even more while his aircraft’s flight computer adjusted for the curvature of the Earth.
40Kannon’s little ship traveled 1580 miles in just five minutes. The ocean below him looked like mirrored glass due to the visual effect caused by the speed of his ship and the glare of the sun. Three minutes later, he saw the South American landmass come up in front of his shuttle at lightning speed. His craft blazed over Cape Horn so fast that he didn’t even notice the anti-aircraft Hadron Cannon batteries that fired at him in vain nor the squadrons of Vincent Ward, Gloucester, and Gareth KnightMare Frames as they made futile attempts to intercept and attack the SHAS as it screamed across the skies of South America towards the Rio Negro and over into the Sierra De La Ventanna.
40In just over ten minutes, Kannon had traveled 3167 miles and was now nearly at his destination, Buenos Ares, when he felt the speed of his shuttle drop and the craft begin to slow down to a stop; the rhythmic hum of the engine cut off completely.
40“Damn! My energy filler is expended!” he shouted in a panic within his helmet as he struggled to guide the small delta-winged ship down towards the hogbacks below. Kannon flipped on the switch of his radio. “Mayday…Mayday! This is Chancellor Schneizel’s yeoman, Kannon Maldini. I hereby request political asylum in the Principality of Brazil. My ship is out of power, and I am descending towards the foothills of the Sierra De La Ventanna. Mayday…Mayday!”
40His SHAS dropped rapidly towards the rocky plain below him as he tried to keep its nose up and put the landing gear down. The ground came up on him fast as he closed his eyes and prepared for the end.
40Suddenly his little ship stopped in midair.
40What the hell? Kannon thought to himself as he opened his eyes. To his amazement, he saw a pink Lancelot model KnightMare Frame holding his little craft.
40“You still alive in there?” a familiar woman’s voice asked over the radio.
40“Ms. Cecile Croomy, is that you?” he queried trying to keep the emotion in his voice down.
40“Yes, Kannon,” she laughed in relief knowing that he was okay as the shadow of the Avalon came into view above them.

Kodai Okuda
09-12-2010, 04:54 AM
Turn Eight: The Dogs of War!

40“It pained me to see Zero slay my brother that day. If only Lelouch had listened to reason and understood that in no way could peace exist without the force of totalitarian rule over it, and even that would someday be overthrown and war would rear its ugly head yet again. The Sword of Damocles [FLEIJA] would have kept the peace for a time as Schneizel had supposed. It would have allowed Britannia to rule without the need for corrupt petty councils of fat bureaucrats or incompetent scientific-socialist conclaves of Managers, Czars, and Overseers, but in the end, it too would have crumbled under the weight of a corrupt or despotic ruler like my father, Charles zi Britannia, or the Eunuchs of the Chinese Federation. No, the only way man can appreciate peace is through the adversity and horror of conflict…therefore, I say to you all now, let not peace woo you into apathy and decadence. I beseech you, CRY HAVOC AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR!!!” —Excerpt from a speech given by Cornelia li Britannia during her departure from the Britannian Empire, dated August 2nd, 2019 a.t.b.

40Cornelia li Britannia Caesaro walked up to the front of the command deck of her aerial warship Avenger. The Longres class flying fortress was flanked on each side by six Cearleon class dreadnaughts and eight Avalon class aerial frigates. Her long, flowing, white imperial cape was draped over the black dress uniform she wore. A gold-colored emblem of a phoenix was emblazoned on the left breast of her surcoat. Her flowing waist-long mauve hair bounced gently as she strode to the head of the bridge. A rapier sword dangled from its baldric at her hip on her right side while a long-barreled ornate pistol hung from her pistol belt on her left.
40She stopped and stood facing the Pacific Ocean from the coast of Peru with the defiance and grace as any goddess or queen the world had ever known. Her penetrating glare watched the line of dots on the horizon that soon were discernable as a flotilla of ships coming from the sea. Within moments, the Black Knight fleet came into full view with the final communications balloon in tow.
40Guilford walked up next to her and used his ice-blue cybernetic eyes to scan the fleet of airships in the distance. “Looks like they haven’t launched any KnightMare Frames nor are their weapons powered up.”
40Cornelia smiled at him. “You can see all that, huh?”
40He blushed. “Yes Prin...I mean, General Caesaro.” Guilford regarded her with a serious tone as he asked, “What do you think they want, General?”
40“I don’t know, but we’ll find out soon enough,” Cornelia said as she put her hands on her hips and raised her chin as though she were going over a rebuttal in her head for whatever the UFN force leader might have to say to her.
40“Generalissimo, we’re receiving a communiqué from the Black Knight fleet,” a young man said from his communications station.
40“Send it through,” Cornelia ordered.
40In an instant, the face of Li Xingke came on the main viewscreen of the Avenger. Li wasted no time on pleasantries and cut right to the meat of the matter. “Generalissimo Caesaro, as you may know, our satellite communications system has been rendered useless by an unknown source. We assume it to be the Britannian ship Thor under the command of Chancellor Schneizel el Britannia, your brother.”
40“And?” she scowled at him, irritated at the subtle insinuation in the man’s voice.
40“And we are setting up a temporary relay system to allow for this video transmission over a shortwave frequency band,” Xingke stated with indifference.
40Cornelia balked, “Upon whose authority do you have the right to enter Peruvian airspace?’
40Xingke’s image was replaced by Zero’s. “Upon my authority, Generalissimo Caesaro,” Zero told her boldly.
40“You have no authority…” she hissed. “You’re an imposter, a fake. I don’t know who you are, but I do know you are not Lelouch, and therefore you are not the real Zero. So I suggest you tell the UFN to remove their fleet now or suffer the consequences.”
40“Cornelia!” Nunnally’s image slid onto the screen moving Zero’s to the left side and dividing the monitor’s projection into two halves. “You do recognize my position of authority, don’t you?”
40Cornelia couldn’t hold back the smile that crossed her face upon seeing her younger sister. “Yes, Nunnally, I respect your position as Empress…and for what it’s worth, I’ve missed you.”


* * *

40Nunnally stood at the head of the UFN council chambers looking at the large viewscreen at the far wall that now held Cornelia’s image upon it. She was flanked by Kaguya and the Tianzi on her left and Zero and Kyoshiro Tohdoh on her right.
40“I’ve missed you also, my sister, and I trust you.” Nunnally held her emotions in check. “It’s for this reason and others that I must ask you what you know of the attack on the Black Knights in the South Indian Ocean near Kerguelen Island.”
40“I know nothing of it,” Cornelia stated bluntly. “Why?”
40Nunnally was both shocked and relieved at the same moment. She’s telling the truth. Nunnally’s power of perception had increased over the last six years; she could sense when a person lied just by looking into their eyes, and right now she was certain that Cornelia was being honest. “Then is there any way that a FLEIJA could have been built in your principality without you knowing it?”
40Cornelia raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “Are you serious, Nunnally? Do you think I would ever allow that weapon to be built in my domain? Any who would try would be executed as soon as I learned of it.”
40“LIES!” Kyoshiro blurted out. “We know that Professor Nina Einstein is working for you, Cornelia. She is the fiendish mother that birthed the FLEIJA out of her twisted mind, and only she could build such a weapon.”
40“NO!” Nunnally exclaimed towards Tohdoh. “She’s telling the truth!”
40Kaguya glared at Kyoshiro but said nothing.
40Tohdoh ignored her and challenged Nunnally, “How could you know whether she’s lying or not?” He stood up with his ceremonial katana in hand, prompting Zero to rise from his seat also. “Have you some form of Geass we don’t know about? That witch granted your brother power; perhaps she gave you something as well?”
40“How dare you!” Zero squared off with Tohdoh. “You have no basis for making such a charge, General Tohdoh! Stop these shameful accusations at once.”
40“As if a man who hides his face behind a mask in disgrace has the right to lecture me,” Tohdoh barked at Zero. His words silenced Suzaku.
40"Leave him alone!" Nunnally told Kyoshiro. "He's suffered enough."
40"Has he now?" Tohdoh snickered viciously. "And what of the people he's made suffer? What of the millions that died because of him?”
40Nunnally was stunned. My God, he knows that Zero is Suzaku.
40Cornelia eyed the exchanged between Tohdoh and her sister with interest. “Is accusing my sister of witchcraft right in front of me your idea of a negotiation, General Tohdoh?" Cornelia raised an eyebrow. "Since you feel you have the right to throw around accusations without evidence, allow me to do the same. It is my understanding that you have access to a pair of FLEIJA weapons, do you not?
40“It’s no secret that the UFN possesses a pair of such weapons on the Lancelot of the Lake. What of it?” he said with a scowl. Kyoshiro knew where she was going with her question.
40“How do I know you didn’t order your elite Black Knights to commit these two FLEIJA attacks in order to get your revenge on Britannia?” Cornelia gambled on the assumption that a man like Tohdoh would never let go of his hate for his enemy, and he would therefore strike the first blow if he got the chance.
40“Preposterous!” Kyoshiro turned to the UFN assembly. “Do you see the lengths these tyrants will engage in to gain the advantage? The House of Britannia has manipulated and lied to the world long enough. Its new military force festers and grows in the South American continent while its tendrils have crept into this very body with a demon seed planted by the Devil Emperor himself!”
40“You dare call my sister a demon!” Cornelia hissed.
40“Your whole brood is a seed of evil that needs to be wiped off the face of the Earth!” Kyoshiro barked back at her amidst approving looks from the majority of the UFN congressmen before him.
40“No! Stop this, General!” Zero protested.
40He ignored Zero as he continued to berate Cornelia, “I know you are in league with Schneizel, and the two of you plan on rebuilding the Britannian Empire. You both should have been arrested and brought to justice when Britannia fell. We should never have turned our back on the real Zero and trusted the likes of you. Now lay down your arms and surrender to us or suffer the consequences, Cornelia!”
40“It is obvious to me that it is pointless to continue to try and discuss this in a diplomatic manner. I can see the UFN has already made up its mind.” She looked at Nunnally who was nearly in tears. “I’m sorry, Nunnally, but it would seem there is no reasoning with these people.”
40“No, Cornelia, you don’t have to do this,” Nunnally pleaded with her.
40Kyoshiro smiled, “Then I take it that you’ll not surrender to us?”
40“Never!” Cornelia spat. "Your ambition was clear to me the moment you accused my sister of being in league with that green-haired witch."
40“It’s war then?” Tohdoh asked.
40“It is,” she said before her image vanished from the screen.
40Zero turned on Kyoshiro. “This is not what we agreed to, Tohdoh! You promised you’d allow Nunnally to discuss this peacefully.”
40Tohdoh turned towards the conclave and pointed an accusing finger at Zero. “This man is NOT Zero; he is an imposter put here to prevent us from seeing the truth and finishing what the real Zero started: the destruction of Britannia!”
40Gasps and looks of shock spread throughout the council as the delegates stared at Zero.
40“Tohdoh, what are you doing?” Zero asked in horror at where Kyoshiro was steering the situation.
40Kyoshiro turned to Nunnally and glared at her. “How long have you known about whom this man is, Empress?”
40Nunnally was too stunned to speak.
40“Don’t do this, Kyoshiro!” Zero yelled at him.
40“I’ve had enough of this childish comic book chicanery!” Tohdoh drew his katana so fast that Suzaku barely had time to react.
40Zero flipped out of the way of the sword and went into a spin kick. His foot contacted with the flat of the blade, knocking it out of Kyoshiro’s hand, which is precisely what Tohdoh had anticipated Suzaku would do, thus allowing Kyoshiro to use the scabbard of the katana to hit the release button on the back of Zero’s mask. The mask fell forward to the floor as Zero came out of his spin kick.
40“It’s the former Knight of Zero, SUZAKU KURURUGI!” the Tianzi exclaimed in surprise.
40Suzaku’s face was flushed with anger as his identity was exposed to the whole of the UFN council. Suzaku gnashed his teeth as he started towards Tohdoh.
40“ENOUGH OF THIS!” Kaguya yelled in a commanding voice that stopped both men in their tracks and caused a hush to fall over the conclave.
40“You’ve done what you set out to do, General; now sit down before I have you removed.” Sumeragi glared at him. “If I had I known you were going to pull a stunt like this, I would not have allowed you into this meeting.”
40She turned to Suzaku. “Suzaku Kururugi, I am truly sorry, but as lady-chairman of the UFN council, it is my duty to place you under arrest for war crimes against humanity. It was you who fired the FLEIJA that destroyed Tokyo; that crime must be dealt with. A UFN tribunal will have to decide whether you were the guilty party or simply another victim of Geass.”
40Kaguya picked up the mask of Zero and handed it to Suzaku. “However, since it was you who slew the Demon Emperor, thus freeing us from his tyranny, I shall have you confined to your quarters until further notice instead of being sent to a military stockade.”
40Kaguya gave him a hurt look. "Believe me when I tell that I didn't know the General would do this to you."
40Suzaku gently took the mask from her and put it back on. "I believe you, Lady Kaguya. It's not your fault."


* * *

40"It's not my fault!" Akira protested while standing at attention on the flight deck of the Ikaruga.
40"You agreed to take on the enemy with Li Jiang without permission and in violation of a direct order to return to the Ikaruga!" Villetta scolded him. She folded her arms and wrinkled her fresh new Black Knight uniform which bore the gold maple leaf rank insignia of a major. "What kind of captain are you, Mr. Nobunaga?" She turned to Li Jiang who was standing next to Akira. "And you...If we didn't need experienced Devicers right now, I'd have you brought up on attempted murder charges and thrown in the brig! What the hell were you thinking when you went to fire the Shen-Hu's baryon cannon at the Zangetsu?"
40Li Jiang said nothing.
40Villetta Nu turned to the other four pilots that stood in line next to Li Jiang and Akira. "You are all lucky to still be alive."
40"Are you finished with them yet, Villetta?" Captain Chiba inquired as she came to stand next to her.
40"I think so," Villetta told her with a scowl at her students.
40Nagisa walked up to the middle of the line of six Devicers. "As of right now we are short on experienced combat pilots in what can certainly now be considered a war zone. As all of you have been in actual combat with these new enemy machines, you are now considered an asset to the security of this vessel. However, that does not mean your actions in Sydney will go unpunished. Therefore, I have chosen all six of you to be drafted into military service involuntarily. Your enlistments are effective immediately."
40"Does that mean we're Black Knights?" Gregor asked with an innocent look.
40"Yes." Chiba eyed him. "And that means you're under my command now, Mister! Understand this: your coach has been reinstated into the military as commander of your squadron, and she can now hold you criminally liable for your actions." She eyed Li Jiang and Akira as she walked up and down the line of Devicers slowly. "If anyone here has any personal vendettas or grudges, I suggest they learn to forgive and forget because if you pull the kind of crap you did at Sydney while under my command, you will be executed. Do I make myself clear?"
40"Yes, ma'am," the six pilots replied in unison.
40"Very good then." Nagisa stopped in the middle of the group again. "Are there any questions before you get to your new duties?"
40"Captain Chiba, will we be getting new KMFs?" Lena asked her.
40"Hopefully. Once we reach the Black Knight base at Port Moresby, I’ll try to get you all assigned to new machines. But we’re still nearly eight hours away from there, so for the time being, you'll be assigned to your former KnightMares once we’ve finished repairing them using the parts we still have on hand." She turned to Li Jiang Fong. "You'll be assigned to a basic Akatsuki for now since your Shen-Hu was destroyed."
40"What about the Shinkirou?" Mika inquired with a smirk.
40"C.C. has volunteered to pilot that machine until we reach Japan. She knows it better than any of us, and it makes for a good artillery piece, so she'll be a part of your squadron. In addition, you should know that Jeremiah Gottwald and Sayoko Shinozaki have also chosen to help defend this ship and thus will be joining you for additional support. I've assigned them to a pair of Jikisan Akatsuki KnightMares since they are of senior rank over all of you."
40“Captain Chiba, does that KnightMare still work?” Li Jiang Fong asked, pointing to the Guren MKII.
40“Yes, it does, Fong.” She gave him a dark look. “Why?”
40He stared back at her stoically. “Considering the power of these new enemy units, wouldn’t it be a waste of my talents to put me in a KnightMare that isn’t able to keep up with what I can do?”
40“Do you actually think you can pilot Guren?” Nagisa knew Li was a fine Devicer, but could he match Kozuki’s skill?
40“I’d like to try,” he replied with a stone-cold expression.
40Chiba thought for a moment. “Fine, you want to take a shot at the Guren, then so be it. I’ll have a glide unit fitted to it just as soon as you and the rest of the Jaguars sweep and mop the hangar deck.” Nagisa turned to Major Nu. “They’re all yours, Villetta.”
40“Huh?” Tetsuo said looking up and down the large hangar. “That could take hours.”
40“Well then,” Villetta put her hands on her hips and smirked, “I guess all of you had better get started.”


* * *

40“What is the meaning of this, Schneizel?” a man dressed in full military regalia demanded from the prince as Schneizel strode into the main hall of the Australian parliament building.
40“Upon whose authority have you garrisoned Sydney?” the chairman of the conclave shouted towards Schneizel as the prince walked into the center of the room.
40“The meaning of this is clear, General Whales,” Schneizel said to the military man as the sigil of Geass appeared in his eye. “I’ve come to liberate you from the tyranny of the UFN and claim Australia upon my own authority.” He cast his Geass on the whole of the assembly; the orange glow filled the room. “All of you are now subjects in the New Order of Britannia of which I am its champion. You will do as I instruct for the glory of this new order.”
40The eyes of the delegation were ringed with the orange-red halo of Geass as they replied with a cheer, “All hail Schneizel! All hail Britannia!”


* * *

40“I trust all has gone well?” Sthenno smiled over the viewscreen on the bridge of the Thor.
40“Yes,” Schneizel said in a strained tone. “I’ve herded them together like a flock of sheep and reorganized their scattered military forces.”
40“Did Jason leave enough left to carry out your plan, my Prince?” Sthenno inquired.
40Schneizel sighed in relief, “Fortunately, Jason and his Spartans disregarded the flotilla of airships moored at Brisbane when they took the Australian military by surprise there and captured the base with little resistance. That fleet contains the bulk of the Australian Defense Forces and their KnightMares.”
40“Will they follow you?” the goddess asked.
40“Yes, I’ve made sure of that by meeting with all of their commanding officers personally,” Schneizel told her as he closed his eyes in pain.
40Sthenno cocked her head slightly. “Are you feeling alright, my Prince?”
40“It’s nothing, just a headache,” he said as he opened his eyes; the sigil of Geass blazed in his right iris.
40“Your power has grown, my Prince,” she tittered. “It would appear you have a natural affinity for the power of the gods.”
40“Perhaps,” he said as he felt the flow of energy emanating in his eye uncontrollably, “but this presents its own problem.”
40“Do not worry,” she said to him soothingly. “You will soon learn to control it. For now, I suggest you cover it with something until you return here to Tartarus.”
40Schneizel removed a pair of round, wire-rimmed, mirrored sunglasses from his breast pocket that his yeoman had given him before they departed from Britannia for Antarctica. He looked at them lovingly and whispered, “Kannon.”
40“Did you say something, Schneizel?” Sthenno asked.
40“No…nothing,” he said as he put the shades on over his eyes. “How do I look?” he asked her.
40“Ridiculous,” she laughed.


* * *

40“You have to believe me, Professor Asplund!” Kannon pleaded. He sat in a plush chair sipping a cup of tea around a large, oval, metal table in one of the many conference rooms of the Avalon.
40“The gods of Olympus?” Lloyd said in disbelief. “Are you sure you didn’t hit your head during your supersonic flight?” he asked Kannon as he leaned over and adjusted his glasses to get a better look at the man.
40“Lloyd!” Cecile reprimanded him. “That’s not an appropriate question. You know Kannon better than that.”
40“Well, Cecile, you have to admit it is a pretty outlandish story,” he said putting his hands up defensively. “It’s not like there haven’t been numerous expeditions to the Antarctic regions. Why hasn’t anyone found this city of Tartarus before now?”
40Kannon took a sip of tea before responding. “Doctor Viviane told Schneizel that because the city is nearly a mile below the surface glacier and rests atop a large sakuradite deposit, it would appear as only a rock structure under the ice to RADAR and other instruments. It would still be unknown had we not gone down there and dug it out in search of the sakuradite.”
40“Kannon, you said they have advanced technology and the power of Geass, right?” Cecile inquired. “Does that mean they can brainwash people like Lelouch did?”
40“Yes, it would seem so,” Kannon answered Cecile with a disturbed look. “Prince Schneizel now possesses this power as well, and he has used it to take control of the Thor and members of the UFN armed forces. I can only assume he acquired his Geass from the woman called Sthenno.”
40Cecile looked at Lloyd. “Well, that would explain the story the others told us.”
40Kannon gave her a perplexed look. “Others?”


* * *

40"We’re not lying, Nina!" Gino told the green-haired woman from within one of the cells in the brig. "The Thor fired its Hadron Cannons on us and tried to destroy us."
40"I believe you, Gino," she said adjusting her glasses. "The carbon scoring on Kallen's Type-21S certainly corroborates your story, but I need to know why Chancellor Schneizel would fire on you."
40Tamaki rolled his eyes from within the cell he shared with Gino. "Look, lady, we told you already. We don't friggin’ know why ol Prince Wiener-Schnitzel tried to take us out! All we know is that he killed four of our comrades and then took a shot at us."
40Nina ignored him. "Captain Kozuki, you must understand the delicate position we are in here. Generalissimo Caesaro has already gone off to meet with what appears to be a fleet of UFN warships off the coast of Peru. Should a confrontation incur..." Nina gave her a grave look. "…Kallen, I don't know what will happen to you."
40"Then you've got to help us, Nina," Kallen begged her. "We have to warn the UFN. They've got to know that Schneizel is a traitor."
40“I imagine they already do if they’ve sent an armada here to our shores,” Professor Einstein said. “I’ll admit that I really do want to help you, Kallen, but I just don’t know what I can do for you.”
40“Try opening the door, Nina,” Lloyd Asplund said as he and Cecile entered the brig.
40“But, Lloyd, we can’t do that; we’re under orders to detain them. If Cornelia learned that we released them, she’d be furious,” Nina told him a bit unnerved by his brazen request.
40Lloyd gave her a puzzled look. “Who said anything about releasing them? We were told to capture them, and we’ve done that.” He gave her a mischievous smile. “I don’t recall Cornelia saying exactly how we had to hold them, only that they were to be detained.”
40“I don’t think she’d approve of us treating them like honored guests,” Nina rebuffed him, “especially since they violated our airspace and shot members of the Azul security detail.”
40“Honestly, Nina, I don’t think Cornelia will care after she hears what Kannon has to say about all of this,” Cecile said. “It would seem there is a much larger threat here than just the misconception of the situation by the UFN.”
40“Kannon is here?” Nina asked.
40Yeoman Maldini walked into the room from behind Lloyd. “NINA!” he called out to her as he rushed in and hugged her tightly. “I missed you.”
40Nina was taken by surprise. “Uh…hi, Kannon…I missed you too,” she said as she returned his hug.
40“Yeah…yeah,” Tamaki gripped, “we’re happy you’re happy, now will someone open this damn door?”


* * *

40“Return FIRE!” Cornelia barked to her subordinates as another volley of cannon shells impacted the defense shields of the Avenger.
40The batteries of the aerial fortress thundered as they returned a barrage of missiles, Hadron Cannon, and artillery rounds from the main batteries of the large airship.
40“We’ve lost three of our Avalon frigates, and two Cearleon dreadnaughts,” Guilford reported as he monitored the pool table-shaped tactical display in the center of the bridge. “Their Type-21s have broken through our Vincent Ward and Gareth KnightMare defenses and are heading for our airships.”
40“Use the Gloucester and Sutherland reserves to bring them down,” Cornelia ordered as another of her Cearleon warships fell out of the sky in a blazing ball of fire.
40The Avenger shook violently as an Ikaruga class warship fired its Hadron Cannons on the aerial fortress.
40“The Yamato has scored a direct hit on us. Our Blaze Luminous shields are collapsing,” Guilford yelled over the din of another impact.
40“Have our frigates use a V formation and prepare to assault the…” Cornelia’s order was cut short as a cannon round impacted the bridge, cracking the plastic-steel viewports of the warship and sending Cornelia to the floor.
40Guilford rushed over to her and helped her to her feet as another explosion rocked the ship. “We have to retreat, Princess.”
40She frowned at him. “You know we can’t do that, Guilford.”
40“Yes, milady,” he said as they stood up together. “If we are to meet our end here and now, then so be it.”
40Cornelia turned to her communications officer. “Have all ships prepare to ram the enemy fleet.”
40“Generalissimo, we’re being hailed,” the male comm. officer said.
40“Tell them I’ll never surrender,” Cornelia spat.
40“It’s not the UFN on the line,” the man said excitedly.
40“Who is it?” Guilford asked in surprise.
40“Duchess Evita Ernst, the acting commanding officer of Britannia’s Northern Command,” the officer said.
40“Put her through,” Cornelia told him as another Avalon exploded in the distance.
40The beautiful face of the younger sister of Dorothea Ernst came on the viewscreen. “Greetings, Princess Cornelia, it would seem you’re in a bit of a bind.”
40“I don’t have time for pleasantries or nonsense, Evita,” she scowled at her. “What is it you want?”
40“The glory of Britannia,” she said as a swarm of Vincent Ward Knightmare Frames rained down upon the UFN fleet from above, “and the return of my beloved, Gino Weinberg.” The Black Knight Type-21s were taken by surprise and dispatched quickly by the Britannian mob of KnightMare Frames.
40From within the clouds above the UFN fleet emerged a force of Britannian aerial warships: three Longres type sky-fortresses, twelve Caerleon dreadnaughts, and eighteen Avalon class frigates.
40The UFN fleet broke their formation in an attempt to avoide the shower of Hadron and heavy cannon fire that fell down upon them from the Britannian fleet.
40“The UFN force is in full retreat, Princess,” Guilford told Cornelia triumphantly.
40“Excellent.” Cornelia turned to see Evita smiling at her over the viewscreen.
40“Well?” The girl giggled. “Am I good or what?”
40Cornelia gave her a weak grin. “You do realize that by doing this you’ve just committed treason against both the UFN and Britannia, don’t you?”
40“You’re only half right, Princess,” the teenage woman tittered. “I transmitted the exchange between you and the UFN council to all of Britannia by tapping into the balloon relays. I got the idea from your bother Schneizel who contacted me just prior to your exchange with Li Xingke.” She blushed. “What can I say, your brother still has many fans among the youth of Britannia, and using Tohdoh’s flamboyant accusations towards Empress Nunnally against the UFN was a snap.”
40Cornelia folded her arms and looked the girl in the eyes. “I wouldn’t trust Schneizel if I were you, Duchess. My brother has a tendency to use people for his own purposes then throw them away when it suits him.”
40Evita shrugged. “Be that as it may, it doesn’t change the fact that his plan worked. The whole of Britannia is in a rage over the treatment of our empress, and Nunnally’s defense of Zero has wooed the masses over to our cause like a moth to the proverbial flame.”
40“I see.” Cornelia was impressed with Schneizel’s strategy. “So now we’re evenly matched with the Black Knights provided you intend on joining forces with us.” Using an immature royal-bred brat like Evita was a stroke of genius that even she wouldn’t have thought to use in this manner.
40“I do intend on joining you on two conditions.” The dark-skinned beauty smiled.
40“Which are?” Cornelia inquired.
40“First I want my Gino back, unharmed.” Her expression became sinister. “Secondly, you are to kill the other three Black Knights and Kannon Maldini.”


* * *

40“Don’t worry, Suzaku,” Kaguya told him within his suite. “I’ve sworn them all to secrecy and classified your identity as Top Secret with the death penalty attached to anyone who dares reveal it. That should buy us some time until we figure out how to undo what Tohdoh has done.”
40Suzaku sat on the edge of his bed while Sumeragi and Nunnally sat upon chairs within the room.
40Nunnally put her hand on his shoulder. “Lihua is trying to get the Chinese Federation to condemn Kyoshiro’s actions in order to garner the votes to try and unseat him as commander-in-chief, but with the UFN council knowing who you are, it’s going to be very difficult to convince them to do so.”
40“Maybe you shouldn’t,” Suzaku said looking down at the floor. “Perhaps you should do what should have been done six years ago and call for my execution.”
40“Suzaku, don’t say such things.” Nunnally looked hard at him.
40Kaguya regarded him coolly as she spoke to him, “Cousin, if you’re going to say such stupid things, perhaps you should just shut up and listen to what we have to say. You don’t know what has transpired since you left the council chambers.”
40Suzaku looked up at them with a haggard expression. “What has happened?”
40Nunnally gave him a desperate look. “The Britannian nobles have reinstated the Feudal Hierarchy and declared war on the UFN.”
40“But how could the people let them do that?” Suzaku was mortified. “They know what that will lead to.”
40“It doesn’t matter, Suzaku,” Kaguya said bluntly, “the nobles have charged the UFN with taking both Empress Nunnally and Zero hostage and are calling for the end of the UFN. They have the support of the Britannian population and will continue to have it until the two of you are returned to Britannia.”
40“Then we should return to Britannia at once,” Suzaku said to Nunnally.
40“We can’t,” she told him. “Tohdoh has convinced the UFN council that this is all a plot by Schneizel and Cornelia to kill both you and me so that they can have the moral high ground to what ever it is they’re planning. Our travel visas have been suspended until further notice for our protection.”


* * *

40"Well, here I am again at the edge of a hellish storm which is brewing on the horizon of the not too distant future," C.C. lamented as she finished off the last piece of pizza from the medium-sized box in front of her. She stood alone watching the sunset from one of the promenade observation decks of the Ikaruga as the ship descended towards the rapidly approaching landmass below.
40Flocks of seagulls landed on the wings of the ship just below her.
40She leaned out on the railing and threw them the crusts that were left from her feast. "Here you go," C.C. said to them as she tossed the pizza crusts to the group of birds.
40She watched as the light of the setting sun drenched the white gulls in the color of blood while they fought amongst themselves for the morsels of bread.
40"Guess people aren't much different then all of you are." She rested her chin on her arms and looked out over the ocean. "This isn't what we planned, is it, Lelouch?"
40She looked up towards the darkening sky above. "I should have told you everything...I should have told you how I really felt."
40Tears welled in her eyes. "I thought this sickening feeling of emptiness would go away. That the friendship you gave me would have filled it, but...that's not what has happened."
40Drops fell down her face. "Sometimes I wish I had never met you because if I hadn't, then I would not feel this anguish. I thought I could be happy for you knowing that you died with purpose and with no regrets, but that was a lie I told myself."
40"I deceived you when you needed me most, and that is something I can never forgive myself for."
40She closed her eyes trying to hold back the flood of pain that was pushing its way to the surface of her emotions as her mind replayed her time with him. "It's ridiculous..." her voice trembled. "I don't know why I can't let you go."
40"Maybe it's because I wake up so often at night expecting to see you there lying next to me like you did at Ashford? Perhaps I just miss the conversations with you? Being a part of your life and meeting the challenges we shared together?"
40She lay her head down on her arms as the tears streamed down her face. "Maybe I miss you so much because of all the people I've ever known, you treated me like a person...a friend."
40"The world needs you again...I know you thought what you did was right, but maybe you were wrong. You left Schneizel and Cornelia here with only Suzaku to protect Nunnally and the world." She let out a halfhearted laugh. "What were you thinking? What would you think if you knew how short your new world lasted...or how many you'd leave behind that suffer now...I told you that you should've taken Charles' code...but you were so damn stubborn."
40She buried her face in her arms. "You knew my wish...you knew that all I ever wanted was for someone to love me, and when I finally found someone who did, and who I could love back...you left me."
40"Oh, God...Lelouch, it hurts...it hurts." C.C. wept.
40At the bottom of the stair leading to the promenade stood a lone figure that had come to ask C.C. to come inside for a meeting with Captain Chiba and the others.
40"The meeting can wait," Jeremiah said in a whisper that he knew C2 would not hear. "Goodnight, sweet Princess." He turned and walked back into the ship.

Kodai Okuda
09-13-2010, 04:50 AM
Turn Nine: Schemes within Schemes

40“How far Schneizel thought out his plan of world domination is anyone’s guess, but what was clear was that he had thoroughly considered every avenue and possibility of what his opponents could and could not do well in advance of his meeting Sthenno. He played the UFN off of Britannia like a master puppeteer uses his marionettes to reveal the inner meaning of his work as he pulls upon their strings. Such was Schneizel’s ability to manipulate and capitalize on the various hatreds, prejudices, and ambitions of the member states of the UFN against Britannia and vice versa. Schneizel’s scheming knew no bounds, and more often than not, he would employ schemes within a scheme to achieve his final goal.” —Excerpt from Kannon Maldini’s interview with the International Political Forecaster, dated December 18th, 2025 a.t.b.

40“I hear that you put on quite a show for the council,” Xingke said as he looked at Tohdoh through the viewscreen of his personal quarters on the Yamato.
40“I had to after we received our spy plane reconnaissance reports that the North Britannian Command’s aerial fleet was heading for you in Peruvian space.” Tohdoh sighed. “I can’t say I’m much of an actor, but Cornelia helped by playing right into the mood of my verbal assault. If Nunnally had been allowed to parley with her sister, you would have had to wait for an authorization vote from the UFN council to strike back, and by that time, the combined Britannian and principality fleets would have already been upon you and, in all likelihood, crushed you.”
40“I see. Thank you for that, General. We escaped with only moderate losses due to the fact that we were able to beat down Cornelia’s fleet considerably before the North Com flotilla arrived.” Xingke gave Tohdoh a perplexed look. “Still…I can’t understand why the Britannian North Com fleet got involved in the first place.”
40“I suspect Schneizel is watching our every move via satellite and thus saw our aerial fleet moving towards South America,” Tohdoh said. His brow furled. “It would seem Schneizel still has considerable influence within the now reinstated royalty of Britannia.”
40“That would certainly make sense. However, if Prince Schneizel can see our movements, then why didn’t he attack my fleet with their new weapon?” Xingke asked.
40Tohdoh put his hand on his chin. “The only logical answer is that they have only one or two of these new submarines, thus they can only cover a few areas of the ocean at a time.”
40“So we should be able to outmaneuver their forces by launching several small squadrons at once, say three to six vessels, which could regroup over dry land,” Xingke suggested.
40“Precisely,” Kyoshiro smiled, “which is why I’ve already informed the various UFN commands around the globe to divide their fleets up into smaller squadrons which will regroup over Northern Britannia.”
40"I take it that since the Britannians have chosen to ally with Cornelia and Schneizel, we will be going to war with Britannia as well?" Li Xingke gave Tohdoh a look of concern. "With the loss of the Australian and South African sectors, will we be able to mount an effect counteroffensive?"
40"If we can move fast enough...yes," Kyoshiro said with conviction. "Even though they control nearly all of the southern hemisphere, we should still be able to drive them back using our Chinese and Indian forces." Tohdoh brought up a map of the world then enlarged the South China Sea region. "Our forces in Borneo, Indonesia, and the Philippines have already been mobilized into action. They're moving towards Papua New Guinea as we speak in order to stop Schneizel's forces, which our spy planes have informed us are moving up from Australia...the reports are disturbing, however."
40Li Xingke raised an eyebrow. "Disturbing? How?"
Tohdoh leaned back in his chair. "Our advanced scouts claim that the enemy has either found a way to man all of the ships and KMFs of the Australian forces with Schneizel's followers, or the Australian government is now allied with Schneizel."
40Xingke folded his arms. "Geass?"
40"It's a distinct possibility," Tohdoh said with a frown. "But with so many of the Australian-built Type-21O Outbackers in the Indonesian region, it is highly unlikely that Schneizel will be able to continue the momentum of his invasions even with Geass and thus be forced to consolidate what he has already in order to acquire more followers."
40"Thus buying us the time we need to build up our forces and solidify a strong defense, is that it?" Li asked.
40Tohdoh smiled, "Precisely. We'll use our older seventh- and eighth-generation KMFs to deal with both the principality and the Britannian forces since we are unlikely to meet with any newer models produced by either of those powers for at least the time being. Should Britannia or the Brazilian Principality manage to introduce tenth- or even eleventh-generation KMFs before we do, we could find ourselves in real trouble. Therefore, we need to keep the pressure on them with emphasis on Cornelia's forces considering she has both Lloyd Asplund and Nina Einstein under her command."
40“So FLEIJA is still a possibility in all of this,” Xingke mused.
40“It is.” Tohdoh was clearly concerned by the prospect. “Which is precisely why I had to move quickly.”
40“Was unmasking Zero necessary?” Li Xingke ventured to ask the rather touchy question.
40“You were told of that, huh,” Kyoshiro chuckled. “I needed to end the foolish charade of such a symbol…at least with the UFN council. It will serve us in two capacities. First, it ends any actual manipulation Suzaku could impart on the UFN congress that his charge, Nunnally Britannia, might pass along to him. Secondly, it removes any form of hero worship or god-emperor figure from the political arena. That’s not to say Zero doesn’t have his place with the people, he does, but it must be in a capacity that will help shape the new republic we intend on creating. The new role of Zero will be that of an iconic figure that people seek to aspire to rather than an actual guardian of so-called justice.”
40“And Suzaku was okay with this?” Li Xingke had read a bit about the strong-willed Devicer pilot and former Knight of the Round in the intelligence reports that had been hastily generated after Zero was unmasked.
40“No,” Kyoshiro snickered. “He’s probably livid with me right now, but he’ll come around after I’ve given him a day or two. I’ll go to meet with him after he’s cooled off and then start working on him. I’m using a boot camp training technique on him. First, I break him, and then I rebuild him. It’s a simple but effective method.”
40Xingke let out a laugh. “You think that’ll work, General?”
40“Suzaku is strong-willed, no doubt, but he’s also impulsive and easily swayed if you cater to his interests. His interest is in honoring the promise he made to Lelouch vi Britannia. That promise being the protection of Nunnally and his continuing to play the part of Zero for the peace of the world.”
40“If he’s as strong-willed as you say, won’t he see through this?” Li wasn’t convinced of Tohdoh’s plan.
40Kyoshiro frowned. “I doubt it. Suzaku knows that nothing will change the fact we are at war with Britannia now except his playing the part of Zero and honestly defending Nunnally’s imperial title in the name of peace. It’s too much for him to deny me. I’ll give him the opportunity to be the Zero that Lelouch wanted him to be.”
40Xingke was stunned. “You’re going to use him to bring down the UFN?”
40Tohdoh only smiled.


* * *

40“It’s so good to see you again Medea,” Sthenno grinned at the gorgeous raven-haired beauty that looked at her over the large viewscreen in the central tower of the City of Tartarus.
40“And you also, goddess Sthenno, but what of the Tartarus? Is it ready for departure?” the jade-green-eyed woman asked in a soft melodic voice.
40“Not yet,” Sthenno said. “Hephaestus tells me we still need more of the Golden Apple in order to complete our plans.”
40“Is that why you haven’t awakened Athena or the others yet?” Medea frowned.
40“More or less,” Sthenno avoided the question. “I’ve yet to secure the remaining quantities of the Golden Apple that we need due to unexpected circumstances.”
40“Those being?” Medea inquired.
40“We’ve overslept and the world has changed considerably.” Sthenno put on a disturbed expression. “The planet is now populated by adversaries worthy of us, and they outnumber us en masse.”
40Medea raised her chin. “Is this why you’ve assigned Odysseus and Achilles to me with their legions of Spartans?”
40Sthenno smirked, “It is. We still hold the element of surprise in our favor thus I need the three of you to take control of the large Golden Apple deposits that are within Mt. Emi Koussi in the Tibesti Mountains of the Sahara Desert region.”
40“The Sahara Desert mountains, eh?” Medea brushed back her long locks of curly black hair with her arm and smiled. “Well, at least I can work on my tan.”
40Sthenno frowned. “I’m not giving you three Colossi class Automatos to go frolicking about in the African desert, Medea. The Gigas, Ajax, and Circe are very valuable warmachines. I do not want them falling into enemy hands or destroyed.”
40“I know, Sthenno.” Medea rolled her eyes. “I was just making a joke. By the way, where are my colossi's brothers, the Talos and Helios? I noticed that only the Selene is left here by herself in the colossi barracks. Where are the other two?”
40“They’re on the far side of the world,” Sthenno said cautiously.
40“With Jason and his Argonauts?” Medea inquired with a scowl.
40“Now is not the time for petty squabbles sorceress, Medea.” Sthenno glared at her. “Jason has already sealed his own fate; of that you can be rest assured.”
40Placated by Sthenno’s words, Medea grinned, “Very well then. If I don’t have use of the Argos, what skyship will I have?”
40“The twin ship of the Argos, the Ithaca, is fully powered and supplied,” Sthenno told her. “Its cargo hold is large enough to carry all of the Golden Apple you’ll be able to mine from Emi Koussi within our timetable. Prince Schneizel expects it to take a week or more before our adversaries figure out what is really happening.”
40"Prince who?" Medea inquired.
40Sthenno tittered, "Prince Schneizel, my new champion."
40"Oh? Why didn't you mention him earlier?" Medea was intrigued.
40"Because I didn't think it was necessary," Sthenno snickered. "He's quite handsome and very interesting."
40"I see," Medea chortled. "You'll have to introduce me when I return."
40"I would but he's off to South America as we speak," Sthenno told her.


* * *

40Suzaku walked along the finely manicured grass edge of a large lake. The bright overhead sun caused the calm waves of the water to shimmer like gold as they reflected the sunlight. The warmth of the rays felt pleasant on Suzaku’s face as he looked down into the liquid.
40He could see sailboats and catamarans in the distance on the lake. A large patch of trees flanked the large body of water on either side, and enormous villas ringed the private lake in the distance of the hazy morning.
40“What are you doing here, Suzaku?” Lelouch asked him from behind. “Did something happen? Has your time come so soon?”
40Kururugi turned to see Lelouch Lamperouge sitting at a fine picnic table of marble under the shadow of a large oak tree that stood within a purposefully landscaped oasis of trees within the vast expanse of grass that led up to a large estate some distance away. Lelouch was dressed in khaki shorts and a white golf shirt and wearing only sandals upon his feet. Before him was a tall glass of pink lemonade and a chessboard with a game in play.
40“He looks a bit confused, Lelouch,” Clovis said from the other side of the table. “Perhaps his departure was a violent one?” Prince Clovis wore similar attire to that of his brother.
40“That would make sense, since I ordered him to live,” Lelouch smirked. “So, I guess you must of have been doing something crazy like skydiving or spelunking,” Lelouch laughed.
40“No,” Suzaku said somberly. “I was in a meeting with the UFN council, and I was exposed as Zero by Tohdoh. Then Kaguya put me under house arrest.”
40“Sounds like she sent you to your room for pretending to be Zero,” Clovis laughed.
40Lelouch wasn’t laughing. “You were exposed? Why would Tohdoh do such a thing? Did you tell him who you were?”
40“No, Lelouch,” Suzaku defended himself. “There’s a war on with Britannia and Cornelia.”
40“WHAT!” Lelouch yelled at his friend. “You were supposed to keep that from happening, Suzaku.”
40“I did, but you didn’t count on Schneizel breaking the Geass command you put on him!” Suzaku shot back.
40Lelouch looked at him in disbelief. “Impossible, only Jeremiah could break Schneizel’s Geass, and I ordered Jeremiah Gottwald to never free Schneizel.”
40“Maybe he overcame your Geass, brother,” Clovis snickered. “Nunnally overcame Charles' power of Geass, so why not Schneizel? Our brother is certainly strong-willed.”
40“NO!” Lelouch said. “Someone else must have removed his Geass.”
40“But who, Lelouch?” Clovis asked with a grin.
40“The elder gods,” a voice said from under one of the trees.
40Clovis turned to the figure of a young boy under the shade of the oaks. “Oh, hello uncle. Have you been sitting here the whole time?”
40“Marianne was wondering where the two of you were off to, so I volunteered to come and babysit while she and Charles enjoy the day together,” the boy said as he stood up and walked over into the sunlight.
40“V2!” Suzaku exclaimed in surprise. “What did you mean by the elder gods?”
40“The first Geass users of mankind,” V2 said with a smile. “They existed before the great flood that destroyed much of the Earth. This flood was caused by the Great Geass War and was due to one side drawing down a large comet with their machines in a final effort of desperation to destroy their enemies. However, their adversaries managed to shatter the comet before it impacted our planet. The resulting shower of small particles melted in the upper atmosphere harmlessly, or so they thought. The volume of water which came from the comet caused a deluge upon the whole face of the world.”
40“That really doesn’t answer his question, uncle,” Lelouch said. “How could these gods help Schneizel if they all drowned in a flood?”
40“Some of them must have survived the deluge,” V2 smirked. “I told your father, Charles, that the possibility was high that some of them survived, but he always dismissed it as a clear impossibility. Apparently, he was wrong.”
40“And you thought to tell us this only now?” Lelouch asked in horror of the implications of ancient Geass users returning to the world.
40“It wasn’t an issue, nephew…at least not until now,” V2 answered him with indifference.
40“These gods may have freed Schneizel and could in fact be helping him to rekindle his dreams of world domination, and you act like it means nothing?” Lelouch was mortified.
40“Calm down, Lelouch; there is nothing you can do about it now,” Clovis tittered. “It’s not like you can undo what has been done.”
40“There must be a way.” Lelouch looked at V2. “Nunnally...the world needs me.”
40“There are ways, Lelouch, but no one in the world of the living possesses the means as far as I know, so you are in fact stuck here in the afterlife.” V2 gave him a stern look. “We must accept the destiny of the world; we must have faith, nephew, that the future will unfold as it should.”
40“Faith?” Lelouch shot back at him. “What kind of philosophy is that? I destroyed the old world order by my own hand. I created a new order to help mankind, which is now threatened, and all you can say to me is that it was all predestined?”
40“Yes,” V2 said flatly. “Destiny is the ultimate law of metaphysics. It is the reason that things that should not be able to happen in fact do.”
40“Then is it Schneizel’s destiny to become dictator of the world?” Suzaku interjected. “Was it destiny or fate that took Euphemia?”
40“Took Euphemia?” V2 laughed. “Suzaku, are you so naïve to think that Euphemia would be here in this world and yet not come to your presence as soon as she sensed it?”
40“What do you mean?” Suzaku asked taken aback by V2’s insinuation.
40“He means she’s not here,” Clovis grinned.
40“That is irrelevant!” Lelouch shouted. “We don’t know what became of Euphie, and it doesn’t matter right now anyway. I need to know how to get back to the world I left behind to stop Schneizel!”
40“What about your girlfriend, Shirley?” Clovis asked him with a snobbish grin. “Are you just going to leave her here while you rush off to save people who will end up here eventually anyway?”
40“That’s not the point!” Lelouch yelled at him.
40Suzaku felt faint. “Euphie is not here?” he said to himself as the scene before him faded into a blur.
40Lelouch turned to him. “Suzaku! Where the hell are you going? I have more ques…”
40Suzaku sat up in his bed. It was still dark outside in the city of Kyoto as he slowly got out of the sheets and walked to the window and cracked it open for some air. He looked down towards the lights of the city streets below which cast a gentle illumination into his room and caused his reflection to be cast in the window.
40“Don’t worry, Suzaku,” Lelouch’s voice said from behind him. “I will find a way back.”
40Suzaku looked up and saw the image of Lelouch standing behind him in the window. He spun around to face him but the visage was gone.


* * *

40“We should have your ship refueled and resupplied within the hour, Captain Chiba,” the bearded base commander said to her with a smile over the bridge viewscreen of the Ikaruga.
40“Thank you, Colonel Masters, it is much appreciated,” Nagisa told him. “Any chance we could get a few Type-21s from you for our Devicers?”
40“I’m very sorry, Captain Chiba, but our forces are on high alert right now. General Kyoshiro Tohdoh’s orders were for us to mobilize the New Guinea militia, so we need every KMF we have.”
40“I understand, Colonel.” Nagisa didn’t show her disappointment. “We’ll manage with what we have, sir,” she smiled. “Thank you again for repairing our machines.”
40“No problem, Captain Chiba; sorry we couldn’t be more help,” he said as his image disappeared off the screen.
40“Well, looks like we’re now officially at war if Tohdoh has put this out-of-the-way base on full alert,” Nagisa said to Jeremiah Gottwald who stood next to her.
40“It can’t be helped,” he told her with a blank expression. “Now that we have limited communications back up and running, the news of the fall of Australia has reached the ears of the UFN council. No doubt we will be ordered back to Japan ASAP to provide defense of Kyoto.”
40“You think this new enemy is going for the UFN council?” Chiba inquired.
40“No,” he said in a dull tone, “but machines of the caliber of this new enemy must use a large amount of sakuradite, so it stands to reason they would require the largest deposits in the world to conduct their military operations.”
40“So, sakuradite will turn Japan into a battlefield yet again,” Nagisa lamented.
40“Indeed,” he told her with a frown. “And if First Lieutenant Akira Nobunaga is correct, this time we’ll be facing an enemy determined to achieve their goal as a matter of honor as well as need.”
40“Akira’s friendliness towards this new enemy bothers me, Jeremiah,” Chiba said. “I don’t think he understands that even if those enemy Devicers see him as a friend, they won’t hold back in battle.”
40Jeremiah gave her a reassuring look. “I think he understands more than you give him credit for, Captain. It would seem he’s already dealt with someone who is both a friend and a rival.”


* * *

40Lena walked up to one of the juice vending machines in the commissary of the Ikaruga and leaned down to insert a coin when a hand beat her to the slot and popped in three thirty-yen rounds. She looked up to see Li Jiang Fong smiling down at her.
40"Hi," he said as he leaned in close to her. "It's been a long time since we've been alone together, Lena."
40"Not long enough," she said as she recoiled from him.
40"Oh, don't be like that, Lena. You know I still have feelings for you, don't you?" he said with a sly smile.
40"I don't care, Li Jiang," Lena moved away from him. "You had your chance with me, and you blew it when you tried to have your way with me. The only feelings you've ever had for me are between your legs."
40"You wanted it and you know it." Li Jiang moved in closer to her.
40Lena suddenly realized they were alone in the cafeteria. "Get away from me, Li Jiang Fong."
40"Why?" He grabbed her by the wrists. "Are you afraid you might like it?"
40"Let me go!" Lena screamed at him as she tried to kick him.
40Fong blocked her kick with his leg and flipped her onto a nearby table.
40"If you do this, I'll tell Akira and everyone else," Lena threatened.
40Jiang pulled her arms behind her back and forced her down. "If you do, I'll kill Akira for sure the fist chance I get." He pulled down her pants. "Now I'll show you what I've got that Akira doesn't."
40"I assume you're talking about class," Sayoko said as she walked up to them. "I was wondering what all this commotion was in here. It would appear I arrived just in time."
40"I think you'd better leave, woman." Fong gave her a dark look. "And forget what you've seen here."
40"Really? And what if I don't?" she said glaring back at Li Jiang Fong.
40Fong shoved Lena to the floor. "Don't move," he told the girl as he took a step towards Sayoko. "Then you'll be sorry."
40Sayoko eyed him like a cobra watching its prey. "I promise you, Li Jiang Fong, when I'm through with you, you'll never forget this."


* * *

40Lena entered the Devicer lounge with a smile on her face and a bottle of juice in her hand. Within the small room sat Akira, Gregor, Mika, Tetsuo, and Villetta discussing battle tactics and strategy with regard to combating the Greeks.
40"What took you so long, Lena?" Mika asked with a befuddled look.
40"Nothing," she said maintaining her grin as Sayoko entered the room behind her holding a cup of tea.
40"Where's Li Jiang Fong?" Villetta asked Sayoko with concern.
40"The infirmary," she answered as she sipped the hot liquid.
40"The INFIRMARY!" Tetsuo gasped.
40"What happened?" Villetta inquired a bit surprised.
40"We had a slight misunderstanding about proper etiquette with women," Sayoko said with a smirk. "So I had to correct his problem."
40"Will he live?" Villetta inquired a bit concerned for the Devicer.
40Sayoko smirked, "He will...but his voice might be a few octaves higher."
40"You fought Li Jiang in hand-to-hand combat before, right, Akira?" Gregor inquired.
40"Yep," was all Akira said in reply.
40"Fong was the kung fu champion of his class, right?" Gregor pressed Akira.
40"Yep," Akira replied with a shocked look on his face.
40"And Sayoko put Li Jiang in the hospital," Gregor said in disbelief.
40"Apparently," Akira snickered.
40"Remind me never to piss her off," Gregor said to Akira who only nodded in response.


* * *

40"Ordering the execution of Kannon Maldini seems rather unlike Schneizel," Cornelia said to Guilford as the Avenger flew towards Buenos Ares. "Kannon has been his trusted companion longer than anyone else. Why would he suddenly want him killed?"
40"Lovers quarrel," Guilford joked.
40Cornelia sniggered, "I highly doubt it, Guilford. My instincts tell me that Kannon possesses information that Schneizel doesn't want us to know about."
40"Wouldn't Schneizel have already guessed that you'd think this?" Guilford asked.
40Cornelia sighed, "Yes, I believe he would, which means he wants us to know the information Kannon has but doesn't want us to trust it."
40"So we find ourselves in a dilemma," Guilford said.
40Cornelia shifted in her command chair. "Correct, which is what Schneizel would want; we can't kill Kannon because he may have information that really is vital. On the other hand, we can't trust his information because it may be part of a deeper scheme by Schneizel. Thus Schneizel demands we kill Kannon for his help with the idea that it will confuse us and set us in a direction that my brother wants us to take."
40"Perhaps that is why he wants three of the Black Knights we captured eliminated as well?" Guilford suggested. "They might have information that corroborates whatever intelligence Kannon is carrying."
40"I'm not so sure a group of UFN dogs can be trusted, Guilford, at least not any of them except for Gino," Cornelia said.
40"Evita Ernst's desire to have Gino Weinberg handed over to her led me to do some digging through our special intelligence service's files on members of the Black Knights," Guilford said with a sly smile.
40"Oh, and I take it you found something interesting?" Cornelia inquired.
40"I did." His smile widened. "I found that Gino was a member of the Yamato no Orochi. This Special Forces unit of the Black Knights was led by none other than Kallen Kozuki."
40"The Black Knight ace?" Cornelia laughed. "No wonder Schneizel wants her and her teammates dead; he's afraid they'd give us some leverage with the UFN. She would make a valuable hostage and bargaining chip with them if they knew she was still alive."
40"For Nunnally?" Guilford asked.
40"And Zero," Cornelia said. "He's no friend of Tohdoh, and I imagine he'd be very useful to us in solidifying our own positions within a New Britannia under Empress Nunnally."
40"You intend on continuing with Nunnally as empress?" Guilford was taken aback.
40Cornelia raised an eyebrow. "That a problem?"
40He fumbled for the right words. "No, Princess, it's just unexpected."
40"Don't misunderstand, Guilford. As much as I love my sister, I know she's not capable of dealing with the harsh decisions that could cost people their lives. She's too good natured." Cornelia grinned. "I intend on being the steel fist under her velvet glove that will help her with the tough choices when she must do what is against her nature to do."
40"And Zero?" Guilford asked.
40"Zero will be my vanguard against insurrection. I don't know who he is, but I do know that Lelouch would not have chosen just any fool to replace him. It would have to be someone who would continue the whole Knight of Justice nonsense that Lelouch started." Cornelia stood up and walked to the front of the bridge and looked out over the expanse of the Peruvian mountains below. "The people buy into what he stands for, so we'll let them have their hero and use him to placate the masses in order to keep the peace."
40"And Gino Weinberg? Do you intend to hand him over to the duchess?" Guilford was intrigued with where Cornelia's plans were going.
40"I do." She turned to face him. "But only after I've told Gino what I expect of him in return for the safety of his comrades."
40Guilford smirked, "You're gong to defy Schneizel?"
40Cornelia tittered, "Of course, you know me better than that, Guilford, as does Schneizel. He knows I won't obey him, and I suspect he intends on using that to his advantage at some point."
40"So we'll have to be ready then," Guilford said.
40"Yes, and I intend on using Kallen Kozuki to be sure we are," she said with a devilish smile.


* * *

40"We can't just hand them over, Lloyd," Cecile said.
40"Well, what do you expect me to do?" he asked. "I've already let them have free reign of most of the Avalon. It's not like I can let them go."
40"But Cecile is right, Lloyd, we can't let Duchess Evita Ernst have Gino and give the others to Cornelia to execute," Nina told him.
40Lloyd became flustered. "What would you have me do? We're going to rendezvous with the Avenger in less than an hour."
40"The UFN has to know what is going on here, Professor Asplund," Nina said sternly. "If what Kannon says is true, then the whole world is in danger."
40“Cornelia might have them imprisoned or worse,” Cecile tried to reason with him. “I couldn’t live with myself if poor Anya or Kallen were executed, could you?”
40“Well, I’m not sure.” Lloyd put his hand on his chin. “I really don’t know Captain Kozuki that well, and…” Lloyd stopped himself short as he took notice of Cecile’s clenched fists and Nina’s scowl as she adjusted her glasses.
40He cleared his throat. “Let me start over. What I meant to say was that while I may not be very close to Captain Kozuki and that other fellow…oh, what was his name…never mind…I suppose I am friends of Gino Weinberg and Anya Alstreim, so I guess I should consider their well-being in all of this.”
40“AND?” Cecile demanded.
40“We should take action on their behalf?” Lloyd inquired with a meek grin.
40“Exactly,” Nina said tilting her head to regard him. “And that means we need to make a run for it to Japan.”
40“Um, what?” Professor Asplund asked in horror.
40“Nina’s right, Lloyd, we don’t have any other choice,” Cecile said with a smirk. “We didn’t exactly sign on with Cornelia as regulars in her military forces, and in fact we’re really nothing more than techno-mercenaries. This ship is ours not the principality’s, so we don’t have any obligation to do what Cornelia says.”
40Lloyd gave her a distraught look as his shoulders sagged. “I highly doubt she’d see it that way.”
40“C’mon, Professor Asplund, where’s your sense of adventure?” Nina asked.
40“I think I left it on the Damocles.” Lloyd looked ill.
40Cecile smiled at him. “Look at it this way, Lloyd, you can test out the new FORGE system on the Type-21s we have on board against actual KnightMare Frames in real combat conditions. It’ll be just like the Lancelot project all over again.”
40“Yes, I recall we nearly got killed during that project, and Lancelot was destroyed,” he whined. “I’m sorry, Cecile. I can’t authorize this.”
40Cecile looked over at Nina who nodded in reply.
40“Sorry, Lloyd, but we have no choice,” Cecile said as she pulled out one of the cords from a nearly control station’s monitor.
40“What you are doing?” he asked in confusion.
40Nina followed her lead. “Taking over this ship,” she said with a devilish grin.


* * *

40“Hey, Kallen, why d’ya think old four eyes wants to see us on the bridge?” Tamaki asked as they rode the turbolift to the command deck.
40“I don’t know,” Kallen sighed.
40“Mr. Shinichiro, you might not want to call Nina four eyes,” Kannon told him. “She doesn’t like it.”
40“So?” he said defiantly.
40“So, she atomized Tokyo to get revenge on Zero. What do you think she’d do to you?” Gino said with a wink.
40Tamaki thought about it for a moment. “Yah, well…I can handle that crazy bi—“ The door of the elevator opened up to the bridge. “What the hell?”
40Lloyd Asplund was tied to the command chair of the ship with tape over his mouth while Nina and Cecile manned the control consoles of the vessel.
40“Did we miss something?” Kallen asked as they entered.
40“Looks like a mutiny,” Anya told her companions as she walked onto the bridge nonchalantly.
40“Wow,” Gino laughed. “You okay, Lloyd?” he asked as they came up on Professor Asplund.
40He nodded in reply.
40“Hey, you guys,” Cecile called out to them, “don’t just stand there, we could use some help over here.”
40“Where’s the bridge crew?” Kallen asked as they came over to where Nina and Cecile were trying to navigate the airship.
40“We dismissed them until further notice,” Nina said.
40“Why?” Tamaki asked.
40“Because we’re making a break for Japan,” Cecile giggled.
40“JAPAN!” Kallen exclaimed. “But that’s treason against the principality.”
40“We know,” Nina said.
40“I told you these people were all nuts,” Tamaki griped.
40“Tamaki, shut it!” Kallen ordered him before turning to Nina. “Won’t Cornelia send a force to try and stop you?”
40“I highly doubt it, Kallen,” Nina said. “With the UFN breathing down their necks, they are not likely to waste more than a vessel or two to come and chase after us.”
40Cecile smiled at Kallen. “And there’s not an airship in the world that can catch up to the new Avalon. We refit her with improved graviton-impeller engines that are faster than anything else on Earth.”
40“What about your crew? They’re not just going to let you make them all into pirates are they?” Anya asked.
40Nina snickered, “Our crew is made up of mostly the old Britannian scientific core that were working under Lloyd before Nunnally became empress. The rest of the crew are paid mercenaries not a part of Cornelia’s forces, so we have nothing to worry about from them.”
40“Cool,” Tamaki blurted out, “so we’re sky pirates now!”
40“Sure looks like it,” Kallen grumbled.


* * *

40“Prince Schneizel, our sensors have detected a small Avalon class frigate departing the South American continent along the Chilean coastline on an eastward course.
40“Really?” the prince said as he stood on the bridge of the Thor. I hadn’t anticipated they would act so soon, but no matter. “Thank you, Lieutenant.”
40His female communications officer turned and asked, “Should we inform Tartarus of this, sir?”
40“No, it is not necessary to bother them with such a trivial matter,” he said with a thin smile. “Navigator, what heading are they following?”
40The woman worked the controls of her console briefly before answering. “Their current heading will take them over the Society Islands and Bora Bora.”
40“That’s Tahiti,” Schneizel said as he put his hands together in the manner of prayer. They’re heading for Japan, he thought as he gave his next order. “Helm, set course for Tahiti.”
40“But, sir, what about our mission to South America?” the first lieutenant inquired with a look of concern.
40“It can wait,” he told her softly.
40“But what of our plans, Prince Schneizel?” she protested.
40“They’re moving along better than I expected,” he said with a smile.

Kodai Okuda
09-14-2010, 08:26 AM
Turn Ten: A World at War

40"Who can say why it all happened the way it did? One minute the world was in a festive mood while preparing for the Olympiad of the International KnightMare Competition, the next minute we were in the midst of a full fledged world at war. It was all a hurricane of events swirling towards an unknown destination where everything we thought we knew for sure about the world...about life and death...reality and fantasy...was turned upside down in a matter of weeks because of the power of Geass. I must say I wish I had never heard that accursed word or been a part of what, at the time, seemed liked the end of the rational and scientific world I once knew." —Excerpt from an interview with Empress Jiang Lihua [The Tianzi] from the Kyoto Telegraph online newspaper, dated March 2nd, 2025 a.t.b.

40"You do realize they're going to shoot us down at the first sight of us, don't you, Cecile?" Lloyd said standing at the front of the bridge with a cup of tea in his hand.
40"It's been six hours since we left the principality, and no one has even come after us yet," Cecile smirked. "I'd say we've made a clean getaway."
40“That is a bit troubling,” Nina remarked.
40“What makes you say that, Nina?” Kannon asked while he helped himself to a second cup of tea.
40“The principality has to know we’re gone by now,” Nina Einstein said. “It seems odd that Cornelia didn’t even bother to contact us to ask us why we left. She’s got to know the only place we can be headed is Japan.”
40“I’d assume this is part of some scheme Cornelia and Guilford have cooked up against Schneizel,” Lloyd said as he finished his tea. “Cornelia has let us go so we’ll warn the UFN of the impending threat of these gods of Olympus. No doubt to either throw General Tohdoh off balance, or to ensure that if Schneizel tries to betray her, Cornelia can be certain the UFN will shift its focus from Britannia and the principality to Schneizel and his new found allies.”
40“So, we’re now Cornelia’s insurance policy in all of this?” Cecile asked with a befuddled expression.
40“It would certainly seem so,” Professor Asplund smiled.


* * *

40“How far have they gotten?” Cornelia inquired of Guilford from her command chair on the bridge of the Avenger.
40“The tracking beacon our Azul agents planted on the UFN Type-21s indicates they are nearly at the Island of Haiti,” he replied obediently.
40“Good.” She smiled as she stood up. “Did you send out the false patrol report through the UFN balloon relays the way I asked?”
40Guilford gave her a hurt look. “Of course, General. I transmitted it via an older encryption so the UFN should have no trouble deciphering it at all, while the Avalon isn’t even likely to pick up the signal.”
40“Excellent. Li Xingke’s fleet should be able to intercept them at Haiti shortly and the cargo on the Avalon will safely be in Tohdoh’s hands.” Cornelia let out a laugh.
40“Is it wise for us to hand Nina Einstein, Lloyd Asplund, and three potentially useful hostages over to the UFN? Doesn’t it effectively nullify your plan of using them to have Nunnally and Zero returned to us?” Guilford inquired.
40“It’s risky I’ll admit, but I’ve thought this through, and I believe it is necessary if my hunch about Schneizel’s intentions are correct,” Cornelia said. “Besides, we don’t have a ship fast enough to catch the Avalon, so I’ve had to revise my strategy to compensate for this unforeseen development. On top of that, we don’t know how far Schneizel’s influence goes into the royal families of Britannia nor the UFN. If we’re not careful, we could find ourselves under attack by them as soon as the UFN is defeated.”
40“You think Britannia can defeat the UFN alone?” Guilford asked.
40“No, not alone, but Schneizel must have some kind of backing from someone,” Cornelia said with a troubled look. “He can’t possibly have destroyed the UFN fleet on his own. Some country is supporting his cause, and with FLEIJA weaponry no less. The only countries that have the technical capability to build a FLEIJA are India, China, Australia, and Japan. One or more of them must be supporting Schneizel, no doubt to gain control of the sakuradite deposit in Antarctica. If the goal of his supporters is world domination, or at the very least a reshuffling of the geopolitical map, then we are a target in their crosshairs.”
40“All of those countries are founding members of the UFN. Do you believe the UFN would come to our aid if one or more of these countries are backing Schneizel?” Guilford was skeptical.
40“After handing the UFN Nina Einstein and Lloyd Asplund…yes, I think Nunnally could convince the UFN council that we’re no longer a threat, and that Schneizel and his backers are the real danger in all of this, not us,” Cornelia told him with a grin. “And when the UFN chooses to strike at Schneizel, we’ll solidify our power within Britannia by calling for a cease-fire in the name of peace, and demanding the return of Nunnally and Zero in exchange for military support of the UFN cause.”
40Guilford nodded with a smile, but inside he frowned with disapproval. He didn’t like when Cornelia got locked into a real world game of chess with her brother. She had done it for years, always trying to prove her equality to Schneizel’s military mind, and it often got her into trouble. Now was no different in Guilford’s mind; he knew Cornelia was no fool, but he saw this plan as reckless.


* * *

40The Gorgon and its flight of Harpy Automatos zipped along the peaks of the Owen Stanley Mountains unopposed as they sped towards the Black Knight base at Port Moresby.
40“You know we’re disobeying orders, Euryale?” Medusa asked her sister from the navigator/pilot’s seat of the Gorgon that was directly below Euryale who sat in the co-pilot/gunner’s position.
40Euryale currently flew the Gorgon over the peaks with the ease of an expert pilot. “I love our sister dearly, but she’s too slow when it comes to military tactics. The enemy has already compensated for the loss of the Australian continent and has mobilized their forces. We can’t sit around and wait for Prince Schneizel’s brainwashed fools to fail at taking these Papua New Guinea islands. They make good shields, but little else.”
40“So you intend on attacking when Schneizel’s forces try to destroy the ones that Jason allowed to escape?” Medusa asked with a vicious grin as she plotted the best course of attack for them as they came through to the edge of the sierra of the Owen Stanley Mountains.
40“Yes,” Euryale hissed.
40“Good, I was getting bored just sitting around the Philippine Islands,” Medusa smiled. “Their defenders were too easy to wipe out. I hope the warriors of this fleet are more of a challenge.”
40“We’ll find out shortly,” Euryale said as the flight of Automatos made their way through the mountain hogbacks. In the distant plain beyond the mountain range, the silhouettes of the Ikaruga and its fleet of airships hung over the UFN base.


* * *

40“All hands to battlestations!” Chiba shouted the order as the squadrons of KMFs flew out from the Australian airships that had penetrated New Guinea airspace.
40“Captain, enemy air-fortress now in range of our weapons.” The female tactical officer spout off the information as new data flowed in.
40“Fire Hadrons!” Nagisa bellowed.
40The Hadron Cannons of the Ikaruga opened up and spewed forth a shower of the deadly black and red energy towards the large Longres class air-fortress. Its shields collapsed allowing the streams of death to disintegrate the airship under the onslaught of the beam weapons.
40Schneizel’s fleet of brainwashed troops rained down volley after volley of cannon fire at the Ikaruga and its fleet.
40“Captain Chiba, get your fleet out of here!” Colonel Masters’ bearded visage appeared on the viewscreen of the bridge of the Ikaruga.
40“But, Colonel, your base needs our support,” she protested.
40“You need to think of the safety of the civilians you’re carrying, Captain. Get them to Japan, and don’t worry about us, we can handle these upstarts,” he smiled.
40“I understand, sir,” Nagisa said with a salute. “Good luck, Colonel.”
40“We’ve got more than luck,” he chuckled as twenty Type-21Os screamed past the viewports of the Ikaruga towards the invaders.
40The Papua New Guinea fighters transformed into KnightMare mode as soon as they came within range of the enemy KnightMare Frames. The Type-21Os tore through the Gareth, Vincent Ward, and Gloucesters with impunity using their rapid-fire sakuradite-tipped Gatling gunpods and Blade-Luminous swords.


* * *

40The sounds of explosions thundered through the KnightMare hangar of the Ikaruga as the Japan Jaguars sat waiting for the order to launch.
40“I can’t believe that Major Nu is allowing Li Jiang Fong to pilot the Guren after what he has done,” Mika said to Akira over a private channel.
40“I don’t think she had a choice, Mika,” Nobunaga said. “We need every Devicer we have, and no matter how bad Fong may be as a person he’s a damn good pilot.”
40“Yeah, but he’s dangerous, Akira,” she warned. “Fong has proven that he is revenge-minded to the extreme. You especially should know this.”
40“Right now his ire is focused on Sayoko, not me,” Akira told her. “Fong is a jerk, but he’s also selfish. He’ll fight like a professional out there without any nonsense so long as it suits his needs.”
40“I really wish I knew what the two of you find so special about Lena,” Mika grumbled. “You two have practically killed each other over her…why?”
40Akira huffed. “I guess it won’t hurt to tell you, Mika. Lena, Fong, and I were all in a Taiwanese orphanage together after Charles zi Britannia’s armies invaded Japan, and refugees of that war flooded the coast of the Chinese Federation. Lena and I were the only Japanese kids there, as both of our parents were officers in the military advising the Chinese Federation forces in the Ryukyu Islands. Fong was from the Ryukyu Islands, as his family had been Chinese who had immigrated to Japan. His father was a physician who went to Ryukyu to help with the wounded from the war. Both of his folks were killed when Britannia invaded the Ryukyu Islands, but he made it to Taiwan on a refugee boat where he ended up in the orphanage with us.”
40“I had no idea,” Mika said a bit embarrassed.
40Akira thought back to that time. “The orphanage was a hard place to live. There were too many kids there of various ages and backgrounds all living in tight quarters. Li Jiang and I fought to keep the older boys away from Lena…a lot of horrible things went on in that place, but we kept her safe from it all.”
40“So when Lelouch vi Britannia freed Taiwan from China, you guys came back to Japan?” Mika asked cautiously.
40“Lena and I did. Since our parents had been military officials, we were entitled to go to Ashford on a military scholarship. Li Jiang Fong stayed behind in China because an uncle of his had finally found him. Fong’s uncle owned an energy filler company and was filthy rich. The next time I saw Li Jiang after that was in my sophomore year when he came to Ashford to try and take Lena back with him to a life of luxury. She was taken with the idea at first, but…Li had changed. He quickly became used to getting what he wanted, and he wanted Lena.”
40“I take it she didn’t want him?” Mika surmised.
40Akira spoke to her in a distant tone. “If he had been kind and gentle, like he was in the orphanage, I think he could have had her heart, but like I said, he became selfish and greedy, drunk on his uncle’s wealth. Lena told me that Jiang tried to force himself on her and that she didn’t want to go back with him to China.”
40“And he didn’t take no for an answer?” Mika asked.
40Nobunaga sighed, “No, he didn’t.”
40“Who won?” Mika inquired even though the answer was obvious.
40“Kallen Kozuki,” he said softly.
40“You met Captain Kozuki?” Mika was astonished.
40“Yep, she was visiting the school to give a commencement speech to the graduating class when she came upon Fong and me fighting. Li Jiang was winning. Kallen Kozuki tried to stop the fight, but Fong took a swing at her, and, well…” Akira sounded embarrassed, “she finished the fight.”
40“Geez, Fong really knows how to pick his enemies, huh?” Mika laughed.
40“Yah, he’s a bit over the top,” Akira snickered. “Which is probably why he wants to pilot Guren. If he can use it like Kallen did in battle, he probably thinks he’s beating her in some way. The guy has revenge on the brain.”
40“Attention, Jaguars, this is Captain Chiba; we have a squadron of forty unidentified KnightMare Frames heading towards our position from the Owen Stanley Mountains. We need air support in case they are hostiles. Therefore, I’m clearing you to launch immediately.”
40Villetta’s voice came over the radio. “You heard her, people. We launch now!”


* * *

40“Euryale, I’m picking up twenty enemy Automatos breaking through Schneizel’s fleet of puppets,” Medusa told her sister as she monitored her control screens.
40“What kind of Automatos are they?” Euryale asked.
40“According to the information Hephaestus inputted into our attack computer, they’re Type-21 variable KnightMare Frames,” Medusa said.
40“Which means?” Euryale inquired in a bored tone.
40“They are tenth-generation KnightMare Frames as opposed to the seventh- and eighth-generation frames that Jason and his men have encountered thus far,” Medusa said.
40“Well, well, a real challenge.” A half-smile crossed Euryale’s face as she touched the holographic controls in front of her and opened up a channel to their legion of Harpies. “Attention all units, let our slaves deal with the lesser machines. We will deal with the transformable ones.”
40The flight of Greek warmachines flew high up into the air above the UFN base towards the squadron of Type-21Os that were engaged with the Australian Defense Force fleet that was under Schneizel’s Geass.


* * *

40“Hey, where the heck are they going?” Gregor asked aloud over the radio as he watched the Gorgon and its legion of Harpies fly up away from them with considerable speed.
40“It would seem we’re viewed as not being a worthy opponent,” Jeremiah said as they flew escort for the airship fleet around the Ikaruga.
40“Jaguars, you are clear to pursue the enemy and help the Port Moresby defense forces,” Nagisa said over their radios. “Looks like those enemy units aren’t interested in us for the moment, but the New Guinea forces need every KnightMare they can get, and we might just stop this enemy here and now if we defeat them.”
40“That's our cue, Jaguars,” Villetta said. “We will proceed to the enemy fleet at maximum speed.”
40With that, the Japan Jaguars broke off from their guard formation around the fleet of six UFN airships and headed towards the battle that was now behind the fleet.
40“You think you can free this many at once, Major Gottwald?” C2 asked Jeremiah as the Japan Jaguars sped towards the battle.
40“You mean with my Geass-canceller?” Jeremiah inquired with intrigue in his voice. “I hadn’t even thought of that.”
40“You can cancel out Geass, and you only thought of using it now?” Mika was shocked.
40“I don’t like using it,” Jeremiah balked. “It takes a lot out of me mentally.”
40“Assuming the Australian forces are under Schneizel's Geass power, nullifying it could give us the advantage we need here, Jeremiah,” C2 said as their KnightMare Frames closed in on the battlespace around the enemy fleet.
40“It’s not a bad idea if you’re up to it, Jeremiah,” Villetta said.
40“We’ll have to get to the center of their fleet for maximum effect,” Jeremiah replied enthusiastically. “I may get only one chance at this during the battle.”
40“Understood,” Villetta said. “Okay, people, you heard the man, we need to break through their defenses and get to the center of this fleet. Don’t let me down.”
40“Are you ready for this, Li Jiang?” Akira asked him over the general frequency as the first enemy KnightMare units headed in their direction. Fong had been silent the whole time.
40“I’m always ready, Akira,” he said sternly as he flew up to the head of the formation next to the Zangetsu.
40“That’s good enough for me,” Nobunaga said concerned about what Fong would do during such a cluttered melee of KnightMare Frames. He worried that Li Jiang might take advantage of the situation and try to take down Sayoko.
40“Cut the chatter,” Major Nu said over the comm. “Here they come.”
40The Gareth and Vincent Ward KMFs launched a massive barrage of Hadron and autocannon fire towards the Jaguars as they maneuvered their way through the swarms of KnightMares towards the second Longres class sky-fortress.


* * *

40The Harpies did battle with the Type-21Os, their swords clashed and projectile weapons exchanged fire as the battle raged all around them.
40“Very heavy resistance,” Euryale said as she watched an Outbacker cut down another of her Harpy legion.
40“Ten new enemy Automatos have entered the fray, Euryale,” Medusa said as she now flew the Gorgon through Schneizel’s air fleet of brainwashed minions. “However, they don’t appear to be putting much effort into attacking our forces.”
40“Oh?” Euryale smirked. “I wonder what they’re up to.”
40“Shall we go and find out?” Medusa tittered.
40“Let’s,” Euryale told her younger sister as she powered up the Gorgon’s weapons. The twenty tentacle-like head-mounted Hades Cannons came to life like a mass of snakes. The female-looking machine spread its large metallic wings and pulled a mecha-sized bow from off its back, which unfolded into the representation of a typical Greek bow with a thread of energy where the string would be on a man-sized version of the archaic weapon.
40“Keep us steady, Medusa,” Euryale said as she aimed the great bow weapon. “I’ll take down the black machine with the red tassels first.” Euryale let a golden bolt of energy loose from the bow of the Gorgon.


* * *

40“AIKRA, LOOK OUT!” Lena shouted over the radio as she tried to block the energy arrow with the Katen Yaibatou revolving blade sword of her Gekka to no avail.
40Nobunaga dodged the golden energy bolt, which grazed the shoulder of Zangetsu. “That was close,” he said as he whipped his KMF around to face where the attack had come from.
40“There’s the real enemy,” Li Jiang said over the comm. as he flew the Guren towards the Gorgon with all the speed he could muster out of the flight unit of the KnightMare.
40“Li Jiang, wait,” Akira said as he sped off after Fong.
40“Should we go after them, Major Nu?” Mika asked with concern.
40“No, let them go, Mika,” Villetta said. “We need them to keep that enemy custom unit busy while we get Jeremiah into position.”
40“Well, I hope we don’t have much farther to go,” Gregor said as his Gekka cut down another Vincent Ward. “Our KnightMares won’t last long if this combat is prolonged.”
40“Stop whining, you big baby,” Mika scolded him as she riddled a Gareth with autocannon rounds from the forearm gun of her Gekka causing the enemy machine to explode in midair. “I could take on these morons blindfolded.”
40A Gloucester fired a salvo of missiles from its shoulder-mounted pods at Mika’s Gekka.
40She flew her machine backwards trying to dodge the warheads when Gregor shot down the volley with the machine gun of his Gekka.
40“You were saying?” Gregor teased.
40“Okay, maybe not blindfolded, but these jokers are still no match for us,” Mika retorted as she cut the Gloucester in two with her Katen Yaibatou revolving blade.
40“They’re still dangerous,” C.C. interjected as she blasted an Avalon class frigate out of the air with the Zero Beam of Shinkirou.


* * *

40“This group must be some kind of elite unit,” Medusa told Euryale as she dodged the Katen Yaibatou blade the Guren unsheathed from its flight unit pack.
40“What makes you say that,” Euryale replied as she used the snake-like Hades guns mounted on the head of the Gorgon to unleash a hail of energy bolts at both the Guren and Zangetsu, forcing both machines back.
40“They fight better than the transformable pilots do, yet their machines seem of inferior quality.” Medusa dodged a slash harken attack by Zangetsu, which grazed the left knee of the Gorgon.
40“Perhaps it is more of a challenge for their heroes to fight in lesser Automata in order to prove their quality.” Euryale fired the bow weapon at the Guren.
40“Whoa,” Medusa said as she watched Shinkirou destroy the Avalon class frigate in the distance. “That one is impressive.”
40“Don’t let it distract you, Medusa,” Euryale told her as she fired another hail of Hades beams from the snake-like cannons.
40“I wonder why they’re moving towards the center of the fleet,” Medusa said to her sister with concern as she rolled the Gorgon out of the way of another of the sword swipes from Guren.
40“That’s a good question, my sister,” Euryale said. “I don’t like it either; we better shake off these two pests and proceed to intercept this new force and stop whatever it is they are up to.”


* * *

40“Oh, no you don’t,” Akira said aloud as he moved Zangetsu to block the Gorgon’s path. “You’re not getting away so easily.”
40Li Jiang flew the Guren up and over the large Greek machine and reached out with the claw hand of the Guren. The Gorgon spun around and pointed its bow directly at the red KnightMare Frame.
40“I’ve got you now,” Li Jiang said over the comm. as the golden arrow bolt singed the front armor of the Guren while it flew past the arrow sideways. Li Jiang slipped the Guren in close to the large Greek machine and grabbed the bow of the Gorgon with the oversized hand of his KnightMare.
40"Let's see what you're really made of," Fong spat over the radio as he set the Fukusha Hadou Kikou radiation wave unit to maximum power. In seconds, the bow of the Gorgon bubbled and melted under the massive heat of the Guren's claw.
40"Not bad, Li," Akira said as he came up under the bottom of the Gorgon. Nobunaga dodged the Greek machine's adamantine sword as the mecha unsheathed it and slashed at him in one fluid motion. Akira spun Zangetsu into a summersault and drove the Seidotou brake blade down hard into the left shoulder armor of the Gorgon causing the limb to go limp.
40“We make a good team, don’t we, Nobunaga?” Li Jiang Fong asked in a soft tone as he made Guren flip underneath and behind the Gorgon. He slashed at the head of metallic snakes and cut three of the twelve tendrils off the head of the Greek metal monster.


* * *

40"Destroy them, Euryale!" Medusa yelled at her sister.
40"I would be able to if you'd fly this thing with a little more finesse," Euryale shot back as she fired a salvo of Hades bolts from the snake-guns of the machine. She managed to drive Zangetsu and Guren away as a flight of six Gareth KnightMares dove down from above them.
40"Let those six idiots deal with these two," Euryale told Medusa. "We need to find out why it is so important for this elite unit to make it to the center of the fleet."
40“Are you sure you want to do that, my sister?” Medusa looked down at the damage control windows on her station’s monitor. “We were damaged pretty badly.”
40“Don’t worry, Medusa, the Gorgon can still fight,” Euryale smiled.
40“Perhaps we should call for a pair of Harpies to act as our guard?” Medusa inquired.
40“We can’t.” Euryale checked her controls. “They’re still engaged in intense combat with those variable Automatos.”
40Medusa sighed. “I guess we’ll have to make due,” Medusa said as she accelerated the Gorgon towards the Jaguars.
40“It’s not a problem, Medusa; those variable machines have been reduced in number by half, and Prince Schneizel’s fleet is still vast compared to the defenders of this place. It won’t be long before we crush it.”


* * *

40“Will this spot do, Jeremiah?” C.C. asked as she felled a flight of four Vincent Wards with the Shinkirou’s slash harkens as they tried to outflank her.
40“It should do fine,” he said while his Jikisan Akatsuki cut through a Gareth that fired in vain at him with its Hadron Cannons.
40“Then might I suggest we hurry,” Tetsuo said blasting another Gloucester with the bazooka mounted on his Gekka’s left forearm. “I’m almost out of ammunition.”
40“Me too,” Sayoko added. She cut down another Vincent Ward. “Our energy fillers aren’t going to last forever, and these guys just keep coming.”
40“I can take care of that,” Jeremiah snickered. In an instant, the inverted blue sigil of Geass appeared in his left eye, and a blue halo of energy spread out from his KnightMare throughout the fleet.


* * *

40“A DISPELLER!!” Medusa yelled. “Euryale, they’re freeing Prince Schneizel’s legions!”
40Euryale activated her communicator. “All Harpy units, withdraw at once!”
40“What are you doing?” Medusa asked.
40Euryale looked down at her sister. “Using the Gorgon’s Gaze.”
40Medusa looked at her in shock. “But that will drain the rest of her energy, my sister. We won’t be able to fight after we use it.”
40“I know, but we have no choice,” Euryale said with a stern look at her sister as she activated the weapon and fired.


* * *

40“They’re retreating!” Mika said triumphantly over the radio.
40“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, Mika,” Villetta said as she watched the enemy units flee the battlespace.
40“Hey, what’s that custom KnightMare doing?” Gregor asked.
40“We need to get out of here now!” Jeremiah blurted out. He didn’t know what kind of weapon the Gorgon was preparing to fire; all he knew was that it was clear whatever kind of weapon it was, it was an area effect type capable of destroying the other Greek mecha that were nearly a quarter of a mile away. “They’re pulling back their forces to use some kind of mass destruction weapon.”
40“How can you be sure, Jeremiah?” Sayoko asked.
40“The Britannian forces did the same thing when the Lancelot fired the FLEIJA at Tokyo; they pulled back as fast as they could. I suggest we do the same,” he said as he flew his Jikisan as far from the Gorgon as possible.
40All the other Jaguars followed his lead, all that is except for C.C. who flew the Shinkirou towards where the Zangetsu and Guren were. Akira and Li Jiang Fong were clearly aware of the danger the Gorgon posed and had begun flying away from the Greek machine as fast as their float units would take them.
40“C2, where are you going?” Villetta was frantic.
40“Those two aren’t going to make it,” C.C. said as the eyes of the Gorgon glowed green. “I’ve got to try and save them.”
40“Good luck,” was all Villetta could get out before a blue-green radiance flooded the area around the Gorgon.


* * *

40“What the hell is that thing doing?” Fong asked Akira.
40“I don’t know, but the flight of KnightMares which came here with it have stared clearing out of this area quickly. I think we should do the same,” Akira said as he pushed the accelerator to maximum speed.
40A green-blue glow began to engulf them.
40“We’re not moving fast enough!” Akira called out as Zangetsu kept pace with Guren.
40“You two, grab hold of Shinkirou at his waist, NOW!” C.C.’s voice boomed over the radio as she brought her KnightMare Frame up next to them and had Shinkirou make a crucified pose with its arms outstretched and legs together with toes pointed down.
40The Guren and Zangetsu grabbed hold of the black KnightMare as C.C. put up the ultimate-defense shield system of Shinkirou just in time for the green-blue light to pass over them.
40All around the three of them, the KnightMares of the Australian invasion fleet turned white as stone and fell to the ground like rocks as soon as the green-blue light touched them. An airship above Shinkirou nearly crashed into them as its stone form fell out of the sky and shattered into thousands of pieces on the Earth below.
40“Hang on,” C.C. told her companions as the shield around Shinkirou crystallized into a hard red shell around them. The three KnightMare Frames fell together within the ruby-red crystal sphere that surrounded them.
40“What do we do now?” Akira asked as he tried to use his Seidotou brake blade to cut through the shell. The mighty sword of Zangetsu bounced off the surface harmlessly.
40“I don’t know, but Guren’s radiant-heat wave is no use,” Li Jiang said as he tried to burn through the red wall.
40“Watch out!” C.C. said as she fired the Zero Beam while simultaneously flipping Shinkirou in a full 360-degree summersault. The two halves of the shell fell away from each other freeing the three KnightMares only a few yards from the ground below them.
40“They’re getting away!” Li Jiang exclaimed as he began to give chase to the remnants of the Harpy legion that were speeding away with two of them carrying the Gorgon in their arms.
40“Let them go, Li Jiang Fong; this battle is over,” Villetta said as the Jaguars and eight of the Type-21O Outbackers eased down to their position over the Port Moresby UFN base.


* * *

40 “What do you mean you have to return to the Kraken for repairs?” Sthenno asked Euryale over the communicator of the Gorgon.
40Euryale hung her head. “I’m sorry, Sthenno…I took it upon myself to act on my own and attack the rogue fleet at Port Moresby with Schneizel’s forces.”
40“You dared to disobey my orders!” Sthenno hissed.
40“Wait,” Euryale pleaded. “Hear me out before you let your anger cloud your mind. I acquired valuable information during the battle.”
40“Did you conquer Papua New Guinea?” Sthenno glared at her.
40“We were not able to…” Euryale stared to say.
40“YOU FAILED?!” Sthenno’s expression twisted as a fury rose within her.
40“They would have failed anyway, Sthenno. Your prince’s charm was DISPELLED!” Medusa yelled in defense of Euryale.
40“Dispelled?” Sthenno asked rhetorically as her ire waned. “How?”
40“We don’t know exactly.” Medusa treaded carefully. “But we do know that it was one of the warriors that Jason allowed to escape that possesses this power.”
40“Jason.” Sthenno spit out his name with hatred. “Once again his foolish sense of honor has robbed us of victory.” Her expression changed back to its calm form. “You did well, my sisters, even if you did disobey me. This new information makes up for your insubordination.”
40“What are your orders now, Sthenno,” Euryale asked.
40“Proceed to Japan.” Sthenno’s eyes showed that she was taking in the implications of the events at Port Moresby very seriously. “Conduct a raid on the city of Kyoto when Jason’s forces attack, and capture the Empress Nunnally unharmed.”
40“The Empress Nunnally?” Medusa was perplexed. “May I ask why?”
40Euryale spoke before Sthenno could respond to Medusa. “You do not trust Schneizel anymore, that’s it, isn’t it?”
40Sthenno gave her a cold look in reply.


* * *

40The light of the setting sun over Kyoto drenched Suzaku in hues of gold as he sat at the desk in his room reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. A knock on his door interrupted him.
40“Who is it?” he asked.
40“It’s me,” Nunnally said from the other side.
40“Oh, please come in,” he said closing the book.
40The door opened up to reveal Nunnally vi Britannia standing on her cybernetic-enhanced legs. She walked in slowly with measured steps. “I need to talk to you, Suzaku.”
40“What about?” he asked her with a curious look.
40She walked over to where he sat and bent down close to him. “We need to leave Japan.” Nunnally looked into his eyes. “And I’ve found a way, but it involves stealing the Lancelot of the Lake.”
40Suzaku shook his head. “No, Nunnally, we can’t do that. You know as well as I do what Kyoshiro Tohdoh would do if we stole a KnightMare armed with a pair of FLEIJA warheads.”
40"Do you trust the General with those weapons?" She looked at Suzaku sternly.
40"No." He averted his eyes from hers. "Given the right set of circumstances he would use them against Britannia."
40"Then we have to go, Suzaku," she pleaded with him.
40"How?" he asked her with a somber look. "Why do you think there are no guards outside my door? It's because I can go anywhere in Japan and still not be able to leave. There's no way the Lancelot of the Lake can fly all the way back to North America, so we have to face the fact that we're stuck here."
40"There's another way," Nunnally said.
40"What other way?" Suzaku inquired with a befuddled look.
40"The thought elevator." Nunnally gave him a mischievous grin. "Lelouch wrote in his diary that our father, Charles, used it to travel around the world like a sort of interdimensional public transit system. It's how Charles escaped C's World when Lelouch tried to trap him there in the lair of the Geass Cult."
40Suzaku frowned at the idea of going back to where he had first unmasked Zero. "But that's on Kaminejima, Nunnally...that place has a lot of…" He looked out at the setting sun. "...bad memories."
40"But it's our best chance of escaping back to Britannia." Nunnally was adamant.
40"It's also where Lelouch's mausoleum is located." His eyes grew sad. "The whole inside of that cave was remodeled to cover the ancient ruins there and conceal where Lelouch is really buried."
40"I've not been there in a long time, Suzaku," Nunnally said with a teary expression. "But the thought elevator is still there, behind Lelouch's sealed, glass, coffin. We can still access the gate."
40Suzaku turned to face her. "But we don't even know how to activate it, Nunnally. C2 could be anywhere in the world right now, and everyone else who knows anything about the thought elevator is dead."
40"That's where I come in." An old man walked into the room.
40Suzaku was surprised by the intrusion. "You're the gentlemen from the UFN council meeting...you were a part of the Russian delegation, right?"
40The man held out his hand in a handshake gesture. "Allow me to introduce myself...I am Enoch."

Kodai Okuda
09-17-2010, 04:16 AM
Turn Eleven: Schneizel’s Plan

40“The scale and magnitude of Charles zi Britannia’s plans were rivaled only by those of his son Schneizel. Before the reign of Emperor Lelouch, Schneizel had his father’s utmost confidence and trust and thus had at his disposal the resources of all of Britannia and much of the world. Schneizel had always plotted to unseat his father, of that I am sure. Many were the nights that I overheard Lady Marianne bickering with Charles over how lax he was with Schneizel and how Schneizel’s lust for power would someday be the 98th emperor’s undoing. Little did Lady Marianne realize how right she was or how far and wide Schneizel’s ultimate plan extended. Schneizel was a master strategist, and like his brother Lelouch, knew that the world could not be won in a single battle, conflict, or war, but rather a series of such events were required to claim a total global victory.” —Excerpt from an interview with Jeremiah Gottwald by JBS [Japan Broadcasting Station] senior special news correspondent Milly Ashford during their flight to Japan on the Ikaruga, dated July 30th, 2024 a.t.b.

40"Tahiti is quite a place," Kallen said to Gino as she lay upon a foldable beach chair on the sands of the island dressed in a white two-piece bikini. It had been two days since the Avalon arrived at the small island, and their ship was now replenished with food and supplies.
40"Don't get too comfortable," Gino smiled as he handed her a piña colada dripping with condensation in the tropical heat of the island.
40Kallen took the glass from him and drew a long draught from the straw of her cocktail. "Mmm...That is good." She smacked her lips and smiled at him. "What, nothing for you?" Kallen eyed Gino's glass of coconut juice.
40"Nah, I'm not big on alcoholic drinks," Gino laughed as he pulled up a chair next to hers. "Besides, how can I woo you if I'm drunk off my tush?"
40"Oh, is that how it is?" Kallen snickered as she eyed his tanned muscular body that was covered only at his waist and groin by his skimpy swim shorts. "Trying to get me to drink so you can have your way with me, huh?" Kozuki rolled her eyes. "Typical male...what do you think, Anya?" Kallen called out to where Lt. Alstreim was standing at the edge of the beach with her hands shading her eyes as she looked out towards the horizon.
40Anya turned to Kallen. "I think we're about to be attacked."
40No sooner had the girl said the words than the alarm claxons from the aerial frigate above them sounded off.
40"Oh, just great!" Kallen said jumping up out of her chair and discarding her drink.
40Gino grabbed her hand and pulled her along with him as he raced towards where Tamaki sat fishing off the wing of the aerial shuttle they had come there in.
40"Tamaki, start the engines!" Gino yelled as Anya caught up to him and Kallen.
40"What?" Tamaki asked as his fishing line started to pull.
40"START THE FRIGGIN’ PLANE, YOU JACKASS!!" Kallen yelled at him. "Can't you hear the sirens?"
40Tamaki gave them a befuddled look and pulled the headphones off his head. "Oh, crap!" he exclaimed. Tamaki dropped his fishing rod and ran into the craft as he heard the wail of the alarm from the Avalon.
40Kallen and the others piled into the little ship right behind Tamaki.
40The four of them were inside the aircraft in moments just as the sun's light began to glare off the silhouette of a large aerial warship coming over the horizon.


* * *

40"The Avalon is in sight, Prince Schneizel," a female lieutenant said on the bridge of the Thor. "Shall we fire on her, sir?"
40"No," he said standing up. "Fire near her like you're trying to hit her, but don't damage the ship."
40Schneizel smiled as he watched the Avalon on the overhead monitor. His lieutenant gave the order to fire, and the cannons of the aerial-battleship spewed forth a hail of artillery shells towards the vicinity of the Avalon. The volley showered the coastal town below the air-frigate with barrage after barrage of deadly exploding rounds, leveling much of the ocean village in the process and killing many of the inhabitants.


* * *

40"How could they?" Cecile was mortified. "These people have done nothing wrong."
40"Yes, but that's really never stopped Schneizel before." Lloyd adjusted his glasses. "I suppose if we want to stop him from killing these poor islanders, we better get out to sea."
40"But we'll be sitting ducks out there," Kannon warned.
40"No," Nina contradicted him as she analyzed the placement of the bombardment from the Thor. "They haven't used their Hadron Cannons, and their artillery rounds are falling short of hitting us."
40"Which means?" Kannon asked her.
40Cecile glared out at the large battleship. "They don't want to hit us."
40"Correct," Nina nodded. "We're being driven out away from the island."
40"Have Kallen and the others returned yet?" Lloyd asked changing the subject.
40"Yes, but what makes you ask, Lloyd?" Cecile wondered what good four Devicers could do against the Thor.
40"We've completed repairs on their Type-21s, and those machines are fully charged." Lloyd shrugged his shoulders. "Perhaps we should have them act as cover for us while we escape."
40"LLOYD!" Cecile gritted her teeth. "Are you suggesting we sacrifice them?"
40"No, no," he said putting up his arms defensively. "Those fighters are supersonic; they can outrun the Thor quite easily. I was only suggesting that we have Kallen and her team attack the Thor while we build up speed to escape, and then they can rendezvous with us later."
40Cecile smiled at him. "That's not a bad idea, Professor Asplund."
40"Really?" Lloyd said putting his arms down.
40Cecile turned to Nina and Kannon. "The deck crew of Avalon has never dealt with the Type-21 before. Nina, do you think the two of you can help prep those fighters for immediate launch?"
40"No problem," Kannon said with a smile. "I've read the manual for the Type-21S a few times over."
40"You have?" Nina looked at him with surprise. "Where?"
40Kannon gave her a devilish grin. "While lying in Kallen Kozuki's bed on the Thor."
40Nina gave him a jealous scowl. "What were you doing in Captain Kozuki's bed?"
40Kannon only smiled.
40“Oh, Nina,” Lloyd said pulling out a small box from his lab coat.
40“Yes, Professor Asplund?” she asked, curious as to what else he wanted.
40He smiled at her. “Don’t forget your contact lenses.”
40She took the small box from him. “Thank you, Lloyd.”


* * *

40Kallen jumped into the cockpit of her Type-21S Shogun, still wearing her bikini, and pressed the touch screen console in front of her. Instantly, the machine came to life and the cockpit canopy lowered down. The smell of ionized air filled the hangar deck as the whine of the graviton-impellors came up to a roar.
40"Alright, Yamato no Orochi, you all know what to do," Kallen said as her KnightMare Frame was raised onto the launch catapult. "It's payback time!" Kozuki pushed the throttle forward and her fighter screamed away from the Avalon.
40In seconds, all four Type-21s were flying in formation together.
40"How do you want to do this, Kallen?" Gino asked.
40"Diamond formation from above," Kozuki said as she monitored the Thor. "They've already raised their shields, so we'll have to dive-bomb them with a hail of Gefjun missiles."
40"You actually think we've got enough firepower to knock their shields down for long?" Tamaki scoffed.
40"No," Kallen conceded. "But they'll be down long enough for us to do some damage to their weapons."
40"We should concentrate on the long-range heavy dorsal cannons," Anya suggested as the flight of four Type-21s flew high above the Thor.
40"Agreed," Kallen said.


* * *

40"The Avalon is moving out over the ocean, Prince Schneizel," one of the female lieutenants informed him.
40Schneizel smiled, "Very good."
40"My Lord," a blonde-haired tactical officer blurted out, "four KnightMares have launched from the enemy vessel. I think they're Type-21s."
40Schneizel sniggered, "Excellent. Launch a squadron of our Vincent Wards, and then move us into a parallel course with the Avalon."
40The female tactical officer hesitated. "But, sir, we won't be able to use our Hadron Cannons if we fly parallel to them."
40Schneizel raised his brow. "What makes you think I plan to use the Hadron Cannons on them?"
40"If we aren't going to destroy them, Prince Schneizel, then why are we bothering with them?" the blonde-haired lieutenant asked.
40"Because we're here to pick up a package," he tittered.


* * *

40"Looks like we're finally leaving the Polynesian Islands," Nina said as she looked out one of the viewports in the dorsal hangar.
40"Indeed, we are," Kannon said to her as he came up behind her. "We're leaving this ship as well."
40"What?" Nina turned to face him.
40Kannon stood pointing a pistol at her. "Please, Nina, I don't want to hurt you, but you must come with me now."
40Nina looked at him and gasped at the red-orange ring in his eyes. "Oh, no...Kannon, you don't know what you're doing."
40"I'm sorry, Nina." He waved the gun in the direction of the shuttle Kallen and the others had used earlier. "Get inside that aerial courier NOW!"
40Nina knew that under the power of Geass, Kannon would do whatever it was he was ordered to by the person that had control over him. "Try to fight it, Kannon...you must!"
40Kannon forced her over to the shuttle and opened the door. "Get inside."
40"Hey, you there, what do you think you're doing?" a flight technician asked coming over to where Nina and Kannon stood.
40"Run!" Nina yelled at the man but it was too late. Kannon turned and shot the man in the chest four times, killing him.
40Nina grabbed for the gun in Kannon's hand, but Maldini was too fast for her. He allowed her to lunge forward in front of him then he hit her on the back of the head with the pistol, knocking her out instantly and breaking her glasses as they hit the metal floor.
40Kannon loaded Nina onto the shuttle and started the machine's engines. The next moment, the aircraft burst out of the hangar bay of the Avalon towards the Thor.


* * *

40"Hey, Kallen, a shuttle just launched from the Avalon," Tamaki said as they dove in for their attack run.
40"Nothing we can do about it now," she replied as a flight of twenty Vincent Wards flew out from the bottom of the ship.
40"We've got company!" Gino blurted out.
40"Ignore them," Kozuki told her team. "We need to disarm the Thor if we're to have any chance of making a clean getaway."
40"There are too many to just ignore them, Kallen," Anya said as she fired a salvo of energy discs from the nose-mounted gunpod of her fighter. The radiant-heat projectiles tore through two of the Vincent Wards, destroying them.
40"Fine," Kozuki said in irritation. "But just take down the ones you have to for a clear shot with your missiles, and make darn sure you use your Gefjun warheads on only the Thor."
40"Understood," her teammates replied in unison.


* * *

40"Who is on that shuttle?" Cecile asked the hangar deck officer via the monitor in front of her.
40"We believe Kannon Maldini has taken Professor Einstein by force," the man replied over the viewscreen. "Yeoman Maldini killed a member of my team during his escape."
40"Well, now we know what Schneizel was after," Lloyd said matter-of-factly.
40"We can't just let him have her, Lloyd!" Cecile barked at him.
40"What do you expect us to do?" he mused. "It's not like this ship can take on the Thor. It's simply a matter of firepower."
40"No, it isn't," Cecile said with a gleam in her eye. "He doesn't have that shuttle just yet." Cecile opened up a radio channel to Kallen.


* * *

40"You want us to what?" Kallen said as she felled another Vincent Ward with the forward-firing Hadron Cannons of her fighter.
40"We need you to capture that shuttlecraft as quickly as you can." Cecile's voice emphasized the urgency of the situation. "Nina's on that thing with Kannon."
40"Well, why the hell did they leave the ship?" Kallen asked as she dodged a hail of cannon fire from another Vincent Ward.
40"We don't know," Cecile told her over the communicator. "But I have a hunch that Geass is behind this somehow."
40"I wouldn't doubt it," Kozuki responded with a scowl. Kallen changed frequencies. "Alright, guys, listen up; we've got to intercept that courier plane and bring it back in one piece."
40Tamaki balked, "How the hell are we supposed to do that with all these KnightMares firing on us, not to mention the Thor?"
40"I've got an idea," Gino said.
40"Let's hear it." Kallen invited any suggestions at this point.
40"We should knock out the shields of the Thor and finish our run as planned, then break off as quickly as possible towards the shuttle." Gino knocked out another Vincent Ward with his gunpod then continued, "After that, we can disable the courier and fly it back to the Avalon."
40"Sounds like it could work," Anya said in her dry monotone while she finished off another of the Vincent Wards.
40"I'm in," Tamaki chimed.
40"Okay, let's do it," Kallen said as she let loose with a full salvo of Gefjun missiles at the top of the Thor. The hail of torpedoes impacted the multifaceted green shielding of the warship and dissolved a large portion of it.
40The other Black Knights rained down a volley of the anti-shield projectiles upon the battleship, knocking down the rest of the ship's energy protection.
40Kallen transformed her fighter into KnightMare mode and flew down next to the portside dorsal main cannon. She pressed the top button of the left control stick with her thumb, which caused the front half of the gunpod of her fighter to close shut and extend out like a police baton. Kallen drove the tip of her gunpod onto the side of the turret and pulled the gunpod trigger on her control stick. The tip of the gunpod unit radiated a heat wave into the large cannon just like the clawed hand of the Guren MKII would have done causing the turret to rupture and explode under the pulse of intense energy.
40Gino did likewise to the starboard turret while Anya and Tamaki felled the aft-mounted long-range dual-barrel artillery piece.
40“Let’s get that shuttle!” Kallen commanded as her Shogun flew off the top of the Thor and transformed back into fighter mode; her three companions were right behind her.


* * *

40Schneizel gripped the side of his command chair to steady himself and keep from falling down.
40“They’ve destroyed our long-range cannons!” the blonde-haired tactical officer shouted. The woman looked perplexed as she studied the screen in front of her. “Prince Schneizel, the Type-21s have broken off their attack and are speeding away from us.”
40Schneizel held a blank expression. “Launch all of our Gareth KnightMares after them, and tell our Devicers not to attack anything in the area but the Type-21s.” He knew where the four fighters were headed.
40“All of our Gareths, sir?” the girl inquired unnerved by the intensity of his order.
40“That is what I said, my dear,” he told the lieutenant in an icy tone.
40“Aye, sir,” she replied obediently.


* * *

40The Yamato no Orochi flew towards the courier shuttle at great speed and transformed in unison as they came to within a hundred yards of the plane.
40“Kannon, stop!” Gino ordered him over the radio as they matched the speed of the shuttle and came up alongside it.
40“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” Maldini replied as he swerved the shuttle towards the waves of the ocean below in an effort to avoid capture.
40“Why are you doing this, Kannon?” Anya asked him.
40“Because it is the will of my Prince,” Kannon responded in a mechanical tone.
40“Is that why you came here, Kannon? To kidnap your friend for Schneizel?” Kallen tried to reason with him hoping he would hesitate long enough for her to grab hold of the shuttlecraft with her Shogun.
40“No…I…” The orange glow in Kannon’s eyes flickered causing him to let go of the ship’s controls as he struggled with his deep feelings for Nina and the command Schneizel had given him. “I…I must obey Schneizel.”
40“I’ve got them, Kallen,” Tamaki said as he flew towards the shuttle with a burst of speed. His KnightMare came up and grabbed the top of the ship just as a Hadron bolt slammed into the side of his Type-21.
40“Yahhhhhhhh!” Tamaki yelled as his fighter fell from the sky.
40“Tamaki!” Kallen’s Shogun raced to grab hold of her old friend’s machine.
40“Don’t you guys have something better to do?” Gino shouted at the mass of Gareth KMFs that were rapidly closing in on them. Gino blasted two of the swarm of sixty mecha out of the sky with a salvo from his gunpod.
40“We need to give Captain Kozuki some cover,” Anya said as she cut down three Gareths and dodged a hail of Hadron bolts.
40Captain Kozuki’s Shogun caught Tamaki’s Bushido right before it hit the ocean surface.
40“You alive in there?” she asked as her KnightMare skimmed over the ocean waves causing a spray to kick up behind them.
40“It’ll take more than that to take me out,” he joked.
40“Good thing your shields were up. I don’t think your Bushido suffered any damage,” Kallen said as they dodged out of the way of a swarm of missiles. She fired a barrage of Hadron bolts from the shoulder-mounted cannons of her Shogun at the offending Gareths. “We’d better get back after Kannon.”
40“Thanks, Kallen,” he replied sheepishly.
40“Don’t mention it,” she said as they boosted up towards the battle above them.
40Gino blasted another Gareth out of the air. “There’s too many of them!” He just barely rolled out of the way of a barrage of Hadron Cannon fire only to have a swarm of missiles impact the omnidirectional absolute defense shields of his Samurai.
40Anya swerved her KnightMare out of the way of a salvo of missiles and shot them down with her Samurai’s forearm Hadron Cannons. “Our shields can’t take this punishment forever, and the shuttle is getting away from us.”
40“I can see that,” Kallen said as she tried to penetrate the screen of KnightMare units, but the Gareth pilots were getting better at avoiding their attacks while still keeping them at bay.


* * *

40“Prince Schneizel, a small aerial shuttlecraft is approaching and hailing us,” his brunette communications officer said without emotion.
40Schneizel smiled, “Very good, Ensign; put him through.”
40Kannon’s face appeared on the main viewscreen. “I have what you ordered me to acquire, Prince Schneizel.”
40“Excellent work, my friend,” Schneizel stated warmly. “Kannon, you are to proceed to the main hangar immediately. I’ll inform the deck officer to open the primary ventral hatch and allow your courier to land.”
40“Thank you, Prince Schneizel,” Kannon spoke mechanically. “I look forward to seeing you in person again soon.”
40“And I you,” he said with a grin.
40"Kannon out." The yeoman's visage disappeared off the screen.
40Schneizel turned his attention to his tactical officer. "You may now bring the ship about and fire the Hadron Cannons at the Avalon."


* * *

40"Kallen, the Thor is changing course and pointing in our direction," Tamaki bellowed as he riddled a Gareth with energy discs from the gunpod of his Type-21B.
40"It looks like they're preparing to fire their Hadrons!" Gino said.
40"There's no way the Avalon can survive a hit from a full barrage of the Thor's main batteries," Anya added.
40"I know, but what the hell can we do about it." Kozuki gritted her teeth in frustration. She knew they'd never get through the swarm of Gareths fast enough to stop Schneizel from obliterating the Avalon. Kallen thought as fast as she could but nothing came to mind. "Damn it!" she cursed aloud while she maneuvered her fighter through the battlespace in order to dodge another barrage of Hadron bolts from a flight of Gareths. "We can't lose here...we just can't…"
40A flash of green diving through the clouds from above them caught her eye. "What the?" Kallen blurted out in surprise as two of the Gareth KnightMare Frames that pursued her were reduced to molten slag by a pair of recoilless cannon rounds.
40"Is that you down there, Captain Kozuki?" a man's voice asked over the radio.
40"Rivalz?" Kallen asked forcing down a lump of relief in her throat.
40"Hey, that's Major Ashford to you, ma'am," he laughed as his squadron of twenty Type-21Os ripped through the Gareth KnightMares.
40"Major Ashford, you need to stop the Thor!" Anya yelled over the radio.
40"Don't sweat it, Anya," Rivalz said nonchalantly. "General Xingke has that situation in hand."
40A stream of artillery-scale Hadron energy rushed past them towards the Thor.


* * *

40"We've been hit!" the blonde tactical officer screamed as the Thor shook under the onslaught of Hadron energy.
40Li Xingke’s image appeared on the overhead viewer. “Surrender, Schneizel, or we’ll blow you out of the sky.”
40"Cornelia," Schneizel tittered softly to himself. "Not bad, my sister." He looked up at Xingke. “I’m afraid you’re not in a position to demand my surrender.” Schneizel made a cutting motion with his hand to his communications officer, and Xingke disappeared from the screen as the transmission was shut off.
40"Sir, there is a fleet of thirty airships coming over the island of Tahiti; they appear to be in attack formation and are targeting our location with their weapons," the tactical officer stated in a worried tone.
40Schneizel smirked, "Don't worry about them. Please tell me, how badly are we damaged?"
40"We've sustained moderate damage to our portside hull armor, but that is all right now, sir," the girl said.
40Schneizel humphed at the thought of Cornelia outwitting him by luring Xingke’s UFN fleet to this area. "Order our Gareths to withdraw at once."
40"What about the Avalon, sir?" the woman inquired.
40Schneizel spoke smoothly, "Aim just to the starboard of her, and fire all Hadrons at Mont Orohena."
40"But the volcano will explode!" the woman gasped.
40"Precisely," Schneizel smiled.


* * *

40The UFN armada cruised at five thousand feet above the island of Tahiti. The main batteries of the various types of airships began moving into position as their gunnery crews fine-tuned their barrels to fire the long-range bombardment against the Thor.
40“Kallen,” Rivalz radioed her. “We need to withdraw at once. The UFN fleet is about to fire on the Thor with everything they’ve got, and we’re in the crossfire position.”
40“Roger that, Major Ashford,” Captain Kozuki said as she and her three teammates transformed into jet mode. The Yamato no Orochi flew up into formation with Rivalz’s squadron of Outbackers.
40“The Thor just fired her main Hadron Cannons!” Gino yelled over the radio.
40Kallen turned around and looked out the canopy of her fighter just in time to see the triple-blast of Hadron energy slam into the base of Mont Orohena. In the next moment, the active volcano erupted into a massive plume of smoke and ash sending chunks of molten lava hundreds of feet into the air and causing a dense screen of debris that made it nearly impossible to see.
40“That son of a bitch!” Tamaki swore out loud.
40“Kallen, Schneizel is getting away; we should pursue him immediately,” Anya said in a frantic tone.
40“There’s no way the fleet can find them in this volcanic plume,” Rivalz said. “We’ll just have to wait until we can clear this cloud.”
40“No, we’ve got to capture the Thor now!” Kallen said frantically as the realization of Schneizel’s victory sank into her psyche.
40“What’s the rush?” Rivalz was taken aback by Kallen’s outburst. “We’ll get him eventually.”
40Kallen’s frustration caused her voice to crack. “We can’t wait, Rivalz…Schneizel has got Nina!”
40Major Ashford looked down at the large mass of volcanic smoke, unable to see the Thor but knowing that the ship was speeding away to parts unknown with a person he considered to be one of his closest friends. “Nina,” Rivalz whispered to himself.


* * *

40“We need to move quickly and quietly,” Enoch said to Nunnally and Suzaku.
40Painful as it was to crouch on her cybernetic legs, Nunnally did her best to keep up with the two men as they slowly made their way through the dimly lit KnightMare museum. The sun had set hours ago and the museum was closed, but the security systems of the place were horribly lax for a facility which held two FLEIJA warheads. The idea had been to conceal the weapons in plain sight with obscurity being the best security against theft.
40“There are two guards at the base of the Lancelot of the Lake,” Suzaku said as he looked over at the large machine. It was basically the Lancelot Albion with the wing system removed and replaced by a pair of Cecile Croomy’s version of Rakshata’s graviton-impellor wings with a hypervelocity bazooka mounted on each impellor pod in the same manner as the Type-21O Outbacker.
40“It’s impressive,” Suzaku said in exhilaration at the thought of piloting Lancelot again.
40“Yes, it is,” Enoch said as he looked over to where a reconstructed specimen of the pink Lancelot Frontier stood. A dim blue LED light flashed twice from behind the left leg of the pink KnightMare. Enoch pulled out a small LED penlight from his coat pocket and flashed three pulses back at the light source.
40“A friend?” Nunnally whispered to Enoch.
40“Yes,” he smiled at her.
40Nunnally sensed that there was something more to his smile than he told her causing her to cock her head in curiosity. “Who is this person?”
40“The Red Dragon,” he told her. “The Lancelot of the Lake only has room for two. Thus, you and Suzaku will be going on it while she and I travel in that Lancelot Frontier.”
40Nunnally looked hard at Enoch. “Who is…she?”
40“Don’t worry about her,” Enoch said with a smile. “She’s my great-granddaughter who I nursed back to life and healed during the dark days of the Black Rebellion. You don’t have to be concerned about her loyalty; she would never betray us.”
40“Looks like those two guards are practically asleep,” Suzaku said at the front of the line. “We should move now.”
40“No, Suzaku, wait!” Enoch called out to him but it was too late.
40Suzaku leapt up at the first guard and did his signature dual spin kick at the man. The lithe male guard bent over backwards in a martial arts flip and kicked at Suzaku, his foot landing squarely in Suzaku’s groin.
40Suzaku landed hard and held onto his manhood.
40The second guard went to hit Suzaku with his police baton but was surprised by a figure wearing a red-colored mirror-visor helmet (very similar to the one worn by Zero) with a plume of fiery-red hair streaming from the top back of it nearly down to the floor. The figure wore a bloodred-colored armored jumpsuit with pink highlights that held tightly to a figure that was clearly that of a woman’s by the shape of her voluptuous body. The woman launched a snap kick at the guard with the baton, which landed on the man’s chin sending him reeling backwards to the floor knocked out cold.
40The first guard came at her with a spin kick, but the woman blocked it with her gauntleted forearm and knocked the man unconscious with a roundhouse kick to the head.
40“Are you alright?” the modulated electronic voice of the woman asked Suzaku as she extended her hand down to him.
40“I’m okay.” He winced taking her delicate hand in his.
40“Red Dragon, we need to get out of here,” Enoch told her.
40She nodded in reply as she helped Suzaku to his feet.
40Suzaku gave her a bewildered look as they made their way to the energy filler storage containers behind the two mecha. “You fight well.”
40“Thank you,” the electronic voice replied. “Grandfather taught me for years.”
40“May I ask why you wear a mask?” Suzaku couldn’t help but be curious of this female Zero who stood before him.
40“She was injured deeply during the Black Rebellion…and…scared horribly,” Enoch said as he manned the automatic loaders and powered up both KnightMares.
40Nunnally grinned at Enoch over some private thought not known to Suzaku who could only look at her with a confused expression.
40“They’re ready,” Enoch said as he and the Red Dragon climbed onto the lift that led to the Lancelot Frontier cockpit hatch.
40Suzaku helped Nunnally onto the other lift and steadied her as it rose to the open cockpit of the Lancelot of the Lake.
40Both couples entered their respective KnightMare Frames and inserted the keys to the machines.
40“You two ready over there?” Suzaku asked as Nunnally found a comfortable spot to sit down behind his Devicer seat.
40“As we’ll ever be,” Enoch replied.
40“Then let’s do this,” Suzaku said with renewed confidence despite the pain between his legs.


* * *

40“I can’t believe we are almost to Japan,” Lena said excitedly as she held onto Akira’s arm. The two of them were standing on the observation promenade of the Ikaruga looking out over the island of Okinawa.
40“We should be in Tokyo in a few hours,” Tetsuo said as he leaned on the railing near them.
40“Can you believe it’s only been a little over a month since we left?” Mika mused.
40“Seems like years,” Gregor added as he rested next to Mika on the rail.
40“Do you guys think there’ll be a battle here?” Tetsuo asked his companions.
40“I’d say it’s a guarantee, Tetsuo,” Villetta said as she walked out onto the deck to join them. “The UFN long-range scouts we’ve been in contact with say that there’s been a major battle near the Society Islands. There have also been reports of a large air-fleet heading towards Japan from New Zealand.”
40“Schneizel,” Akira said bluntly.
40“Probably,” Villetta said to him with indifference. “According to Captain Chiba, the UFN is now at war with Britannia and the Principality of Brazil. No doubt this is all a part of some elaborate plan by Schneizel now that he’s allied with this new force of Geass users.”
40“Japan is going to be the decisive battle again, isn’t it?” Lena lamented.
40“It sure looks that way,” Villetta answered her with a sad expression.
40“What happened to your pride?” Li Jiang Fong said walking onto the deck. “You all act like we’ve been defeated already. So long as we’re alive we have a chance to beat this enemy. Geass or not, we have to fight them with everything we have and never give up.”
40The others looked at him in awe of his change in demeanor.
40Fong nodded at Akira who smiled in return. “Together, we’re unstoppable.”


* * *

40“Where are you taking me?” Nina yelled at Schneizel in defiance as a contingent of four soldiers brought her to the bridge of the Thor.
40“Funny you should ask that question.” He smiled upon seeing her enter the room. “I’ve brought you to my personal palace on Pitcairn Island.” He gestured for the guards to release her so she could look out the viewports.
40Nina gave him a smug look. “I can’t see anything without my contacts.”
40Schneizel waved his hand dismissively. “By all means, Nina, put them on. You’re a guest here now.”
40Nina took out the box that Lloyd had given her from her lab coat and put the contact lenses in. Nina looked out the viewport. To Nina’s amazement, the center of the forty-seven-square-mile island was a massive military citadel comprised of what looked like refineries, power stations, manufacturing centers, and heavy battlements armed with various types of weaponry.
40“Where did all this come from?” Nina knew that there was no way Schneizel could construct such a facility without a large number of workers and over a considerable period of time.
40“I had it built when you were only seven years old.” He gave her a wide grin. “Back during my haughty days of dreaming about usurping my father through a grand and quite covert plan. I even created my own personal knighthood: the Order of the Silver Cross with which I planned on conquering the world. Like all imperial teenagers, it was a foolish, wasteful, and childish pursuit at the time. However, when I first met Zero face-to-face in China, I began contemplating the possibility of him being my brother Lelouch and thus a powerful rival for the throne of Britannia. Therefore, I immediately set to rebuilding my Order of the Silver Cross and reactivating this facility.”
40“But how could you keep this place a secret?” Nina wasn’t buying his explanation. “Surely the UFN knows of this place.”
40Schneizel laughed, “Forgive me, Nina, but you must understand that this island is in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. The UFN doesn’t know of or care about this place, nor is it likely they would think it to be anything but a remote, insignificant isle inhabited by Polynesians or pirates even if they did know of it.”
40“I see.” Nina looked down at the ocean below. “What is it you want of me, Prince Schneizel?”
40“I need you to build me something,” he said softly while walking up behind her.
40She clenched her fists. “I will never build you another FLEIJA!”
40Schneizel gently put his hand on her shoulder and whispered in her ear, “I would never ask you to, Nina.”
40Nina turned towards him, their faces only an inch apart. “Then what am I to build for you?”
40He looked into her eyes through his wire-rimmed sunglasses. “The FORGE I’ve heard so much about.”
40She eyed him cautiously. “Why do you need me to build a FORGE here? There are obviously power plants on this island. Why is a FORGE so important?”
40He touched noses with her. “Because, my dear Nina, your new reactor can generate all the power I require to implement my plan.”
40“What is your plan?” Nina was shaking slightly as he leaned in towards her.
40He kissed her gently on the lips. “An end to war.”

Kodai Okuda
09-18-2010, 06:14 AM
Turn Twelve: Battle for Kyoto

40“Japan had to become a battleground again before I realized the only true path to peace. It didn’t lay in government halls or the Zero Requiem. It didn’t require the people to be conned into hating some dictator or weapon symbolizing war. It required only one very simple concept, a concept that the world had left behind with philosophy, morality, and religion. All that the world’s people really needed to obtain a lasting peace was the power to forgive.” —Excerpt from the diary of Suzaku Kururugi, dated August 22nd, 2024 a.t.b.

40"Euryale, I'm picking up a pair of Automatos leaving the coastline of Japan and heading for a string of islands near Ō-Shima Island in Sagami Bay," a beautiful woman with pale blue eyes, like those of a gray wolf, said staring at the goddess from within her machine's cockpit.
40"Oh? What kind are they, Scylla?" Euryale asked the gaunt white-skinned woman from within the cockpit of the Gorgon.
40"The information from Hephaestus shows them to be of the Lancelot class of Britannian Automatos." Scylla's cold, elf-like features changed slightly as she attempted a smile, causing locks of her silver hair to fall down over the front of her eyes. "Shall I destroy them?"
40Medusa looked up at Euryale from her pilot's seat below and frowned.
40"No, Scylla," Euryale answered upon seeing her sister's grimace. "Leave these two machines to us for the moment. They may have someone we are looking for within them."
40"As you wish, Euryale." Scylla raised an eyebrow as she brushed her hair back. "However, I should warn you that Charybdis' sensors have detected a gateway to the river Styx on the farthest isle of that chain. The one the Japanese call Kaminejima. This pair of Automatos may be heading there to use the gateway."
40"How soon will they arrive at the island?" Euryale asked.
40"Three quarters of an hour," Scylla answered.
40"We can be there in nearly that time," Medusa told Euryale knowing that her sister would ask.
40Euryale regarded Scylla sternly, "You are to proceed to Osaka Bay and prepare for Jason's arrival. He should be in that area within the hour for his assault on the UFN capital in Kyoto. Once he has launched his attack, you are to destroy the city and Jason with it. Is that understood, Scylla?"
40The woman gave her a venomous grin. "Perfectly, Euryale."


* * *

40"Attention, Ikaruga, this is Kyoto air defense control," a male voice said over the radio. "Hold your position at twenty kilometers from Kyoto and await further orders."
40“Twenty kilometers?” Chiba asked aloud as Villetta, Jeremiah, and C.C. entered the bridge.
40“Something must be wrong,” Jeremiah said.
40“What makes you say that, Jeremiah?” C.C. asked him.
40Jeremiah gave her a concerned look. “They’re holding us at a position that is just outside of the blast diameter of a FLEIJA.”
40“You think so?” Villetta blurted out.
40“Are we in danger?” Nagisa asked the operator over the radio. “I need to know because we have civilians on this ship, and they’ve waited long enough to disembark. If I don’t unload them soon, they may cause trouble. Is there a port available that I can release them at?”
40“One moment, Ikaruga,” the air control officer told her. “I’m patching General Tohdoh to you now.”
40“Tohdoh?” Nagisa was surprised as his image came up on the bridge big screen.
40“Captain,” he said with a nod.
40“Hi, Kyo…I mean, greetings, General Tohdoh.” She was so happy to see his face she nearly forgot proper military protocol.
40“It’s nice to see you again too, Chiba.” He was being unusually informal.
40“What’s going on?” she ventured to ask.
40He cleared his throat. “It would seem the Lancelot of the Lake has been stolen.”
40“Stolen!” Jeremiah blurted out, mortified by the possibility of Schneizel gaining two FLEIJA weapons. “By whom?”
40Kyoshiro turned to look at Jeremiah Gottwald and furled his brow. “Yes, the FLEIJA-armed KnightMare was taken in the early morning hours last night. We know who the perpetrators are, but I’d rather not say in Britannian company.”
40C.C.’s eyes widened as she knew there was probably only one person on Earth who had the means to steal the Lancelot of the Lake. “It’s Zero, isn’t it, General?”
40“If by Zero you mean Suzaku Kururugi, then yes.” Kyoshiro didn’t hide his disdain for what Suzaku had done, and he showed it by exposing his identity.
40He knows? C.C. wasn’t sure how Tohdoh knew Zero’s identity, but she didn’t need to be told the implications of the situation to realize the total failure of the Zero Requiem. “Is he by himself, Tohdoh?”
40He addressed C.C. with a scowl, “Not that this is any of your concern, witch, but no, he’s not alone.”
40“Who is with him, Kyoshiro?” Chiba asked forgetting proper decorum due to the gravity of the situation.
40Tohdoh sighed. “Empress Nunnally of Britannia, a man from the UFN Russian delegation identified as Enoch Apsu, and an unidentified woman.”
40“Enoch,” C.C. whispered to herself as she looked down at the floor to hide her involuntary expression of surprise from those around her.
40Villetta saw C.C. mutter something to herself before the immortal woman looked up at Tohdoh. “We have to go after them, Kyoshiro!”
40“You?” he scoffed. “Why would I let you go after four fugitives armed with a pair of FLEIJA weapons? You’re not exactly trustworthy, witch.”
40“You’ll let me go because I’m expendable.” She eyed him carefully. “And Suzaku will listen to me.”
40“She’s right.” Jeremiah stepped forward. “I’ll volunteer to go as well. My Geass-canceller may be useful if we encounter any of Schneizel’s allies.”
40“Why would your Geass-canceller be useful against Schneizel’s allies?” Tohdoh asked in a befuddled tone.
40“I’ll fill you in later, General.” Chiba winked at him with a coy smile.
40Kyoshiro suddenly had the feeling he was no longer in control of the situation. “I see. Very well, the two of you can go and try to stop Kururugi, but I must warn you that the UFN will not tolerate anything less then the return of the Lancelot of the Lake. The rest of you must proceed to Kobe and unload the civilians off of Ikaruga, then return here immediately. There is an enemy fleet headed for Japan from Australia, and we need every aerial-battleship we have.”
40“Understood, General.” Chiba saluted him. “We’ll proceed to Kobe and return here as soon as we can.”
40He nodded as his image vanished from the screen.
40Chiba turned to C.C. and Jeremiah. “I can’t say I’m comfortable about you two going either, but we don’t seem to have any choice in the matter. You better take your KnightMares in case you encounter any enemy units. Good luck,” she added as C.C. and Jeremiah Gottwald each gave her a nod and then left for the KnightMare hangar.


* * *

40“Here is my greatest ambition, Nina.” Schneizel waved his hand before the massive machinery that was spread over a room the size of a football stadium.
40“It looks like a Gefjun generator,” Professor Einstein said as she examined the mechanisms.
40“That’s exactly what it is,” he smiled.
40“But what good is a Gefjun generator of this size, Prince Schneizel?” Nina knew the large device would be effective only within the area of the island and perhaps some of the surrounding ocean, a diameter of no more than sixty or seventy miles.
40“It is not just a Gefjun generator, Nina,” he snickered. “It is in fact a Gefjun pulse energy transmitter.”
40She gasped at the implications of such a device. “A transmitter? But that means you could broadcast a Gefjun beam.”
40“Exactly.” He walked over to a screen nearby and activated it. A digital representation of the Pitcairn Island base was shown as a red dot on a 3D global atlas. “With this device and the Global Transmission Array of the Thor, we can transmit a Gefjun pulse of intense magnitude to any place on Earth via the satellite network that surrounds the planet.” A green line shot out from the red dot to multiple blue dots representing satellites which in turn shot forth rays of yellow onto the 3D globe in various places.
40She gave him a dark look. “You could disable every KnightMare on the planet.”
40“And end war forever,” he told her softly.
40“So this is why you need my FORGE? To compensate for the immense power requirements of such a large Gefjun device.” Professor Einstein glared at him.
40“It’s the reason I hadn’t used this device before and the reason my father thought of it as a foolish hobby of mine rather than a real threat. And he was right; that’s all it really was until you came into my life. Your FORGE has the power to produce all the energy I need to make my dream come true.”
40Nina shook her head slightly. “It’s a pleasant dream, Prince Schneizel, but you know that even without KnightMare Frames or sakuradite-powered airships, the nations of the world will still go back to warring with each other in other ways. Your brother, Lelouch, proved that when he tried to focus all of the world’s hate upon him, and for a time they did, but it lasted less time than it took to create such a sentiment. How would your world be different?”
40“My dear brother assumed that men’s hearts had a propensity for good and that if they were shown the horror of war, they would never wage it again. It was a nice sentiment but idealistically foolish. I’m a far more practical man then that. I understand that the have-nots always want what the haves possess, and in turn the haves seek to protect themselves from the have-nots. It is this lack of mediation of resources…a lack of a planned society that causes such wars.”
40Schneizel’s scheme intrigued her. “And you plan on creating such a planned society with this machine, yet you have no way of enforcing such a plan should countries not go along with your vision.”
40“I have a contingency for that as well,” he smirked.


* * *

40“I fail to see the point of us attacking this island nation,” Heracles complained from within the cockpit of Helios. “We’re already spread out pretty thin, and this invasion will thin our forces out even further. What is so damn important about this place?”
40“We need the Golden Apple deposits at Mount Fuji to finish powering Tartarus. Once we have that, we won’t have to continue this bloody campaign,” Jason told him as Talos and four legions of Hoplite Spartans flew in formation towards the coastline of Japan.
40“Why don’t we just ask Akira to get it for us?” Heracles joked.
40“You think we’ll meet him here in this battle?” Jason asked his friend.
40“Of course,” Heracles bellowed. “Don’t you want a rematch with the whelp?”
40“I’m not so sure I do.” Jason hesitated. “This isn’t going to be like last time. This time we’ll have to fight for real and he may get hurt.”
40“I understand your fondness for the young warrior, Jason, but this is war and there are certainly worse ways to die than in battle,” Heracles reassured him as their mecha crossed over the shoreline towards Kyoto.
40“I know, my old friend, but I think we should try and minimize the casualties in this assault if we can. We’re not here to conquer this land,” Jason said.
40“Ha!” Heracles burst out jovially. “I thought you just said this wasn’t going to be like last time and here you are already ordering restraint.”
40Jason sighed, “I suppose I did say that, didn’t I?”
40“That’s okay, Jason.” Heracles laughed heartily. “It’ll be more of a challenge if we just try to disable them rather them slay them, especially when they’ll certainly be trying to kill all of us.”
40“I’m not sure I share you enthusiasm over such a contest, my friend,” Jason sniggered. “Their machines nearly destroyed the Gorgon and its flight of Harpies. We may find ourselves in a similar situation.”
40“Nonsense!” Heracles scoffed. “As if Euryale and her monkey-brained sister could match the likes of us in battle. Those two are better at spreading vile rumors and wooing men to their bed chambers than engaging in a real fight.”
40Jason tittered, “They’re accomplished soldiers, Heracles…” He laughed. “They are skilled in combat.”
40“Jason,” Orpheus’ voice cut into the channel.
40“Yes, Orpheus? What is it?” Jason’s tone became serious.
40“Sixty-five enemy Automatos and twelve airships are inbound and closing fast,” Orpheus said.
40“What kind of Automatos are they?” Heracles asked.
40“Mixed…however, there are twenty of the transformable types,” Orpheus replied.
40“Order our Spartans to engage them but to exercise restraint.” Jason heard Orpheus sigh over the radio before he continued, “I don’t care how many of their machines you cripple or destroy, Orpheus, just try not to injure their pilots.”
40“But, Jason…” Orpheus started to say before Heracles cut him off.
40“You heard the captain!” Heracles boomed. “We’re here to acquire the Golden Apple from Mount Fuji not slaughter a bunch of mortals.”
40“Aye, sirs,” Orpheus said obediently.


* * *

40"I've got a bad feeling about this, Mika," Lena told her over a private channel as the Japan Jaguars flew their KnightMares towards the coordinates given them by Captain Chiba just on the outskirts of Kobe.
40"Why, is it because we're the last line of defense?" Mika asked her.
40"Maybe." Lena looked out at the Zangetsu and the Guren MK II as they flew side by side. "I just worry about those two," she said.
40"You mean Akira and Fong?" Mika inquired as they came to their guard position and stopped.
40"Yes," Lena answered her in a meek tone. "I don't trust Li Jiang. I know he understands the situation, and he'd never do anything to forfeit a victory, but I remember what he said to me in the mess hall..."
40Lena had confided in Mika what really happened between her and Fong. "You mean about killing Akira?" Mika ventured to raise the question knowing it bothered Lena.
40"Yah, that's what I mean," she bemoaned. "I think that if we win this battle, Fong will try to hurt Akira."
40"No way, Lena," Mika stated with confidence. "Fong would be shot out of the sky by me personally if he even tries it."
40The discs of explosions lit up the sky over Osaka in the distance in front of them. “Looks like it has started, Mika,” Lena said.
40“Get ready, everyone,” Villetta said over the general radio frequency. “The enemy has broken through the first line of defense and has split into three groups. The center group is currently engaged with our second line and may be here soon.”
40“Don’t worry, Lena,” Mika said. “If you want, we can stick by Akira during the battle.”
40“No, we’d only get in his way,” Lena huffed. “Mika…can I ask you something?”
40Mika giggled, “Sure, Lena, you can ask me anything.”
40Lena hesitated for a moment before posing the question that had been bugging her since the KnightMare Competition at Sydney. “Are you in love with Akira?”
40Mika thought about it for a moment. “Honestly…“


* * *

40“Here they come, Akira!” Fong exclaimed as the first few Hoplite Spartans broke through Kyoto’s second line of defense.
40The Greek machines tore through a pair of Vincent Wards at the rear of the second line of JDF KnightMares.
40“Permission to engage the enemy, Major Nu,” Akira radioed the Jaguars’ commander.
40“Permission granted, Lieutenant Nobunaga…good hunting,” she replied quickly as several more of the Greek KMFs got past the Osaka defenders.
40“Thank you, Major.” Akira dodged a blast from the Hades Cannon of a Hoplite lance and cut off one of the wings of the mecha’s Icarus units, sending it spiraling to the ground below.
40“You’re not taking this city!” Fong yelled at one of the Spartans as Guren dodged a Hades bolt and grabbed the arm of the Greek KMF. In the next instant, the Automatos’ arm was molten slag. The Hoplite followed up with a Chaos beam attack, but Fong rolled Guren out of the way and used the Katen Yaibatou blade to cut the Spartan in half at the waist.
40“Don’t get too far ahead of us, Fong!” Villetta yelled at him as she used the lance of her Jikisan Akatsuki to penetrate a Hoplite’s Aegis shield and run it through at the waist. The Automatos exploded after she withdrew her weapon.
40Li Jiang flew the Guren as fast as the machine’s Glide Unit would take it, zipping through the mass of Hoplites looking for a target of opportunity. He found one and dove for it.
40“You’re mine!” Fong said as he reached out with the Fukusha Hadou Kikou radiation wave claw of Guren. The oversized KMF hand bounced off a golden radiance in front of the Hoplite.
40“We meet again,” Heracles said over the general radio channel to Fong as Helios swung its club at Guren.
40“YOU!” Fong spat over the comm. as Guren barely moved out of the way of the great adamantine weapon.
40“Li Jiang, you can’t take him alone.” Akira flew towards Fong, but the Talos flew up in front of him.
40“Have you forgotten what I taught you already, Akira?” Jason scolded him over the radio. “I could have cut you in half just now. Don’t let yourself get distracted in battle. It’s how you managed to defeat me last time, remember?”
40“Jason,” Nobunaga said unsure of the Greek’s intensions.
40“You ready for a rematch?” Jason asked in a mild tone.
40“Always,” Akira replied.
40“Good.” Jason had Talos raise its sword in salute.
40Zangetsu did the same.


* * *

40“We need to get out of here, Kaguya!” Jiang Lihua said as she pulled Sumeragi towards an aerial shuttle in the hangar of the UFN building.
40“No, Lihua, we have to stay here and provide leadership during this crisis,” Kaguya protested. “It is our duty.”
40“General Tohdoh has already given the evacuation order, and most of the UFN council has fled the building, Kaguya. Even General Tohdoh is moving his command to the Ikaruga. We need to get there too if we’re to have any hope of getting out of this alive.” The Tianzi dragged her friend up the ramp into the shuttle with the help of two of the ship’s crew.
40“NO, DAMN IT! I will not run from this enemy!” Kaguya struggled to break free.
40“They have two FLEIJA warheads, Kaguya. We have to get to safety.” The Tianzi pulled with all her might on Sumeragi.
40“Nunnally and Suzaku would never use those weapons against us, Lihua, and you know it,” Kaguya shot back as she lost her footing.
40The four of them fell into the shuttle. A lady-crewman inside the egress pressed the hatch door button and closed the ramp; in an instant, the shuttle was in flight.


* * *

40Gregor spun out of the way of a Hades blast and fired a burst of autocannon rounds at the offending Hoplite; his rounds bounced off the Aegis shield of the mecha as it closed in towards his Gekka.
40"You okay, Gregor?" Tetsuo asked as he was engaged by another of the Greek machines.
40"Don't worry, Tetsuo; I've got this one," Gregor said to his wingmen as he fired a burst of autocannon rounds at the Hoplite.
40“You’re pretty good,” Orpheus called to Gregor over the radio as he had his Hoplite flip the Thunder Lance over and thrust the adamantine spear towards the Gekka.
40Gregor parried the spear with the Katen Yaibatou revolving blade. “You’re not bad yourself. It’s a good thing for me that your shield lowers when you attack.”
40Orpheus laughed. “You noticed that, did you?”
40“I did,” Gregor said as he waited for Orpheus’ next attack.
40Orpheus had his Hoplite stow its spear and shield onto its back. The Spartan then drew its sword and saluted Gregor. “Your friend, Akira, is an honorable man. Are you?”
40Gregor had his Gekka salute Orpheus’ Spartan. “I am.”
40Orpheus laughed, “Jason was right about all of you. It’s a pity we have to fight.”
40“I agree,” Gregor said as he waited for Orpheus to make the first move. “What’s your name?”
40“Orpheus,” the Greek said proudly.
40“I’m Gregor,” he said with confidence. “Since you’re a guest in my country, allow me to offer you the first move in this duel of swords, Orpheus.”
40“Thank you, Gregor,” Orpheus said as his Spartan lunged at the Gekka.
40Gregor barely dodged the sword thrust. “No problem.” He spun the Gekka around and slashed at the Hoplite.
40The swords of their machines crossed.


* * *

40“Wow, I haven’t been here since they finished this place,” Suzaku said as they walked through the large archway with their Lancelots. The ancient hall was lit by a series of six large brass cauldrons on each side of the tomb that burned an odorless, smokeless substance that Suzaku figured must have been a natural gas-fed system of some kind. The entire chamber had been redecorated from its former state of disrepair, though the ancient pillars and walls were unchanged. All along the center of the chamber were representative marble statues in full military regalia and actual weaponry of every emperor of Britannia before Lelouch. Forty-nine statues lined each side of the eight-foot-wide red marble runway that led to the dais at the far end of the chamber. There upon the dais laid the crystal vacuum-sealed coffin of Lelouch vi Britannia.
40Nunnally was leaning over Suzaku’s shoulder looking at the viewscreens as the two mecha came to a stop at the foot of the runway. A flood of emotions coursed through her as the shape of the crystal coffin came into view. Tears filled her eyes.
40“Are you okay with this?” Suzaku asked her.
40She turned and smiled at him. “Of course I am...it was my idea, remember?”
40He let out a soft laugh, happy to see her smiling despite how painful it must have been for her to see Lelouch again. His own feelings were getting to him. “Yah, I guess it was. I’m sorry.”
40“There’s no need to be sorry, Suzaku…” She paused to wipe the moisture from her eyes. “Those of us who really knew Lelouch all loved him.”


* * *

40“The island is in sight, Euryale,” Medusa said as they approached Kaminejima.
40“I don’t see the enemy Automatos on my scope, Medusa.” Euryale was annoyed as she scanned over the whole of the island with the Gorgon’s instruments.
40“They must be at the gate inside whatever temple it is hidden in,” Medusa told her.
40“The Kingdom of Mu hid their gates well,” Euryale lamented. “I’m not picking up anything on our sensors. We’ll have to spread out our forces and scour the island visually for the gate.”
40“That could take too much time, Euryale. Jason has already begun his attack on Kyoto and—” Medusa started to say.
40“Wait, my sister; I’m picking up two more enemy Automatos closing in on the island.” Euryale activated her comm. “Attention, all Harpies, proceed underwater immediately and await further orders.”
40The whole legion obeyed without question and plunged into the waters outside of Kaminejima just as a pair of KnightMares came into view over the far side of the isle.


* * *

40“I tell you, C2, my scope was reading a large number of KnightMares just to the east of Kamine Island,” Jeremiah protested.
40“If they were actually there, they must have dove into the sea, and there's nothing we can do about them right now,” C.C. said as they flew towards their destination. "We have to get Suzaku and Nunnally out of here as quickly as we can."
40The Shinkirou and the Jikisan Akatsuki flew in a staggered line formation towards the northeast side of the island. Within moments, they were in sight of the concealed gateway to Lelouch’s tomb.
40“I don’t see either of the Lancelot units on my scope, Jeremiah. They’ve probably gone into the chamber with them.”
40“That was smart thinking on their part,” he said. “That way they’re totally concealed.”
40“It’s a good thing we know where the Thought Elevator is, or else we’d never find them,” C.C. said as she flew her KnightMare down to the mouth of the Geass Ruins’ entrance.
40Jeremiah followed suit and landed his KMF next to hers. “Should we go inside with the possibility of an enemy force so close?” he asked.
40“We have to,” C.C. said. “Let’s go in with our KnightMares just in case there really is a force of enemy KnightMares out here and we need ours fast.”
40“Do you intend on forcing Suzaku to return the Lancelot of the Lake?” Gottwald wondered if she’d actually follow Tohdoh’s orders.
40“Yes, but I’m not doing it because of what the UFN wants,” she answered with defiance in her voice. “I’m going to force him to return the FLEIJA warheads to Kyoto because we may need them to defeat this enemy we’re fighting.”
40“I see,” he said impressed by her strategic line of thinking.


* * *

40“There!” Medusa remarked with excitement. “They’ve shown us the location of the temple.”
40“Excellent,” Euryale stated with pleasure as she opened up a channel to her legion of Harpies. “Units three through twelve will join up with us to take the empress and kill Zero and his allies. All other units will proceed to Kyoto and attack the city from the rear now that Jason has begun his assault.”
40The Harpy units broke into two groups with nine of them forming up around the Gorgon and the other thirty-one speeding off towards the city of Kyoto.


* * *

40“The gate to the Thought Elevator is just behind the velum screen at the far end of the chamber,” Nunnally said as she and Enoch walked towards the dais while Suzaku and the Red Dragon secured their mecha.
40Nunnally started down the long red marble pathway.
40“Wait!” C.C.’s voice called out to them over the loudspeaker of Shinkirou. “You must stop!”
40“C2?” Suzaku said as the Shinkirou and the Jikisan Akatsuki entered the chamber.
40“Yes, Suzaku,” she replied as she opened up the hatch of her KnightMare and stood up. “You can’t take the Lancelot of the Lake from here. You have to return to Kyoto at once. The city is under attack, and those FLEIJA may be our only hope of winning against this enemy.”
40“C2, we need to get Nunnally back to Britannia to stop this conflict,” Suzaku said to her.
40“Britannia is not the real enemy here,” Jeremiah said as he opened his own hatch and got up from his seat. "Bringing her to Britannia is not going to stop this conflict; in fact, it could make things even worse."
40“What?” Nunnally said in confusion. She knew that what they spoke was the truth, but she was confused as to how it could be possible since Britannia had declared war against the UFN.
40"If Britannia is not responsible, then who is?" Suzaku asked with a skeptical tone.
40"A force of Geass users who claim to be the ancient Olympian gods of the antediluvian world and their conspirator who awoke them...Schneizel," C.C. said to them. "We don't know how Schneizel revived them, but we do know they are helping him, and their weapons are superior to most of what the UFN and Britannia possess. A fleet of their warships may be laying siege to Kyoto even as we speak."
40"The gods of Olympus?" Enoch frowned. "I thought they all departed Earth millennia ago."
40C.C. looked down at the gray-bearded old man and snickered, "You look ridiculous, Enoch."
40He smiled up at her. "It suits me for the moment. It's nice to see you again, Eli..."
40"C2!" she told him with a cautious smirk.
40"Oh? It's C2 now, is it?" He laughed.
40"I hate to interrupt, but we may all be in danger here," Jeremiah stated firmly. "We should be leaving here immediately."
40"Agreed," the Red Dragon said in her modulated voice from atop the Lancelot Frontier. "If what you say is true, then we may be in danger here."
40C.C. looked at her in surprise. "Who might you be?"
40"She's the Red Dragon," Enoch smiled at C.C. "My great-granddaughter."
40"WHAT?" she said in shock. "Then that means she's..." An explosion rocked the interior of the chamber as small rocks and debris fell from the ceiling.
40"Looks like they're here!" Jeremiah exclaimed.


* * *

40The Gorgon sped over the tops of the trees of the island with its entourage of Automatos in tow. In moments, the spot where the two KnightMares had been came into view.
40“They’ve gone inside,” Medusa said.
40“The fates have smiled on us.” Euryale made a wicked grin as the Gorgon settled down on the surface of the island over what was certainly the roof of the temple. The great wings of the Kolossos Automatos folded up onto its back as the machine removed its newly acquired Golden Toxin bow from where the weapon rested on its hip armor.
40"Let's flush them out," Euryale added as the Gorgon pulled back on the energy string and formed a large gold energy arrow. In the next moment, the great Kolossos let loose the missile into the roof of the underground structure.
40"Be careful, Euryale," Medusa warned. "We don't want to bring down the whole cavern upon them."
40"I know, Medusa..." she started to scold her sister when an energy beam raced towards them. "MOVE!" was all Euryale could get out.
40Medusa tried to roll the Gorgon out of the path of the deadly beam of light, but its left wing was grazed at the shoulder.
40"Our Icarus unit has been hit!" Medusa yelled.
40Euryale didn't respond to her sister; she had the black- and gold-colored enemy Automatos in her sights. "Take this!" she spat at the machine as she let loose with a barrage of Hades Cannon fire from the tubular head guns and corralled the Shinkirou into a bolt she let fly from the Gorgon's bow.


* * *

40C.C. ejected from the doomed KnightMare as the golden missile of the Kolossos tore through the midsection of her machine. Shinkirou fell from the sky and impacted into the head of the Gorgon, exploding in a ball of fire as it did so.
40"C2!" Suzaku called out as he unsheathed the pair of enhanced MVS blades from the sides of the Lancelot of the Lake. Two Harpies attempted to intercept his KnightMare, but Suzaku's skill was too great. He easily slipped through the first Harpy's sword thrust and cut the head of the machine off with his first Maser Vibration Sword. With a sweep of the second blade, he ran the enemy KnightMare unit through, killing the pilot and destroying the machine.
40Suzaku went at the next Harpy with a fury and did a double-bladed twist and spin towards the Greek Hoplite mecha; his first blade cut the arms of the Harpy off whilst the second cut it in half at the waist.
40Kururugi searched around for another Harpy unit when he caught sight of the pink Lancelot Frontier cutting down its third Greek Automatos with short, crisp, sword parries and blocks that ended with the MVS of the pink machine going up through the center of the doomed Harpy's main body.
40"Suzaku, leave this battle to us," Jeremiah ordered over the radio. "You have a duty to the UFN and to Britannia. Get that KnightMare of yours to Kyoto and stop this invasion. They're depending on you over there," Gottwald said as his Jikisan cut through its second Harpy. "And don't worry about us; we can handle this motley crew."
40"But I can't just leave Nunnally," he started to protest.
40"We'll protect her, Suzaku," the Red Dragon told him as she skillfully knocked the sword from her fourth Harpy and stabbed the metal beast in its midsection. The Lancelot withdrew its weapon and the Automatos exploded.
40Seeing Jeremiah's Jikisan Akatsuki slice through the last Harpy finalized Kururugi's decision. "Alright, I'll take my leave of you and go help Kyoto, but promise me, Jeremiah, that you'll get Nunnally to safety."
40"I will," Gottwald said as he joined up with the Lancelot Frontier to take on the damaged Gorgon on the island below them.
40The Lancelot of the Lake sped off towards Kyoto as the Red Dragon asked, "Let's take this one together?"
40"Agreed," Jeremiah said as their two machines came down in front of the Gorgon.


* * *

40"The Gorgon's Gaze unit has been disabled," Euryale told Medusa, "and our guard detail is gone."
40"My controls are sluggish, Euryale." Medusa moved the control sticks as quickly as she could to dodge an MVS attack by the Lancelot Frontier. One of the blades clipped the shoulder armor of the Kolossos.
40"I'll deactivate the battle computer," Euryale said as she touched a button on one of the screens in front of her. "You'll have to fly her completely on your own, and we won't be synchronized. Can you do that?"
40Medusa let out a laugh. "Against these two fools...are you kidding?" With full control in her hands, Medusa easily swerved out of the way of an attack by Jeremiah's Jikisan.
40"Good, then we can still take these two," Euryale said regaining her composure as she used the adamantine claw of the Gorgon to grab one of the Akatsuki's MVS blades and snap it in half.


* * *

40"It's still too powerful for us!" the Red Dragon blurted out as she watched a hail of energy bolts tear through Jeremiah's Jikisan from the tubular head guns of the machine. She dodged a shower of blasts that came at her machine as it swerved in behind the large mecha.
40The bolts blew off the left arm and leg, and the head of Gottwald's KnightMare Frame, but its float unit still allowed it to move. "Damn it!" Jeremiah cursed as he fired a barrage of autocannon rounds at the Gorgon from his machine's arm-mounted gun and used the assault to give the Red Dragon an opening.
40The Lancelot Frontier leapt up over the Gorgon as Jeremiah plunged his Jikisan into the Kolossos and ejected. "NOW! Cut down through the damaged armor of its head!"
40The Lancelot Frontier dropped from the sky in a dive with both of its MVS swords and drove the blades into the top of the Gorgon all the way down to the hilts through its neck.
40The Red Dragon ejected from her machine as the snake-like head cannons of the Gorgon blazed long enough to blast off the legs, arms, and chest armor of the Lancelot Frontier before going dead.


* * *

40"We've lost all power!" Medusa exclaimed.
40Euryale grabbed her sword from the side of her pilot's seat. "That pink machine pierced our energy cells. The Gorgon is shutting down."
40Medusa wasn't sure what Euryale was up to until her sister opened the rear hatch. The young pilot grabbed her own sword belt. "So now what?"
40Euryale smiled. "Contact Scylla with the emergency communicator and tell her to begin her attack." Euryale gave her sister an evil grin. "This battle is not over."

Kodai Okuda
09-19-2010, 06:38 AM
Turn Thirteen: Every Demon Has His Day

40“Whilst Mephistopheles looked down upon Faust he said to him: Thankst thou that I who saw the face of God, And tasted the eternal joys of heaven, Am not tormented with ten thousand hells, In being deprived of everlasting bliss! Such is the destiny of all champions whose power in Geass has grown to the point of immortality, and such is the fate of those who obtain Code Geass in which there is no hope of the release of death and the return to heaven without passing the curse to some other poor soul. So we who are cursed with the immortality of a Code and the blight of Geass upon our souls roam the Earth in secret forever. Hiding that which we are and mourning for who we once were. Having loves and lovers only to watch them fade away into dust while we continue on for eternity or leave us when another immortal’s passion grows cold. Oh, how I wept for the loss of the one friend I wished I could have shared in all this eternal life. The one person for whom I could hold and be one with through the endless ages as they pass. How I wish for you…my Lelouch” —Excerpt from a letter written by C.C. just before the Zero Requiem [never given to Lelouch], dated 2018 a.t.b.

40“What do you mean the Avalon has escaped?” Evita Ernst barked at Cornelia as the young teenage duchess waltzed onto the flight deck of the Avenger from the small aerial shuttle-plane that had ferried her there.
40Cornelia came up to the left side of the duchess as they immediately proceeded towards the elevator that led to the bridge of the vessel. “The Avalon fled our airspace almost as soon as we ordered them to rendezvous with us,” General Caesaro said in a calm, uninterested tone.
40“We’ve tracked them to Tahiti,” Cornelia added. “But it would seem they’ve met with a UFN fleet there that may have captured them.”
40Evita threw a fit. “BUT MY GINO IS ON THAT SHIP!!”
40“I’m afraid so.” Cornelia smiled at her sympathetically. “And heading for Japan as we speak,” she told her with concern.
40“We have to stop that ship…” Evita whined. “We have to get back my Gino.”
40“So, do we have an accord then, Duchess?” Cornelia inquired as to the verdict of her request made privately via coded transmission prior to the arrival of the duchess.
40“Yes,” the young girl stated flatly. “So long as you bring me back Gino alive.”
40“I promise you I will bring all of them back alive,” Cornelia reassured her. “Gino, Nunnally, Anya, and Zero.”
40“Then so be it.” Evita turned to her. “Kneel before me, Generalissimo Caesaro.”
40Cornelia knelt.
40Evita composed herself and drew her sword. She placed the flat on the blade on each of Cornelia’s shoulders as she said, “I, Duchess Evita Ernst of Britannia, hereby dub thee Princess Cornelia li Britannia and as acting regent of the empire reinstate thee as the rightful head of state and heir to the throne as per the customs and laws of the Holy Britannian Empire.”
40Cornelia stood up and smiled as the elevator door opened. “Thank you, Duchess.”
40Evita knelt before Cornelia. “What is thy bidding, Princess Cornelia li Britannia?”
40“My first order is for you to…” Cornelia was interrupted by Guilford rushing out of the elevator with a frantic look on his face.
40His expression startled her. “What is it, Guilford?”
40His eyes were wild with fear as he let out only one word, “FLEIJA!”


* * *

40“How much longer before we reach Japan?” Kallen asked Cecile as she and the other Yamato no Orochi members stood staring out at the ocean in front of them on the bridge of the Avalon.
40“Twenty minutes at most,” Cecile smiled at her.
40Kallen watched as the sun began setting in the western horizon and then sighed. “I hate that we left Nina behind.”
40“Don’t worry, Kallen,” Gino said leaning over her shoulder. “General Xingke’s armada is scouring the south Pacific for her. I’m sure they’ll find her. Besides, we don’t know what kind of forces Schneizel has with him. The UFN fleet is much better equipped to deal with that situation than we are.”
40“I hope you’re right, Gino.” Kallen looked at him. “Even after all Nina’s done, I don’t want her to end up being Schneizel’s pawn in all of this.”
40“Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about our Nina,” Lloyd said from where he stood at the navigator’s station on the bridge. “I’m sure she’s fine, Captain Kozuki, and I wouldn’t underestimate her; she can be very resourceful.”
40“Yah, well, I hope you’re right there, doc,” Tamaki griped. “I’d hate to think what she might be building for Prince Charming right now.”
40Kallen gave him a weak smile. “She’s changed, Tamaki; there’s no way she’d repeat that same mistake twice.”
40“Even under the influence of Schneizel’s gay-assss?” Tamaki inquired with a huff.
40Anya, who hadn’t been paying much attention to the conversation, broke into the discussion as she pointed out the window. “What’s that pink light over Japan?”
40“What?” the others blurted out as Lloyd checked the instruments of the navigational console.
40“My God!” Cecile exclaimed in horror.
40“It can’t be.” Kallen looked on in fear of what the light meant.
40“That’s not what I think it is…is it?” Tamaki stammered.
40“It is,” Gino added somberly.
40Lloyd jumped up and cried out, “It’s my Lancelot!!”


* * *

40“That was a good one, Fong!” Heracles laughed out loud as Li Jiang scored a hit on the left shoulder of Helios; the damage was only superficial.
40“This is not some kind of contest, you Greek buffoon!” Fong used the radiant-heat wave of Guren against Helios, but the Aegis shield of the Automatos blocked the attack completely.
40“You’re cheating again,” Heracles scolded him as he swung the great adamantine club of Helios at the Guren.
40“Stop treating me like a child!” Fong twirled his KnightMare out of the way of the swing and used the Katen Yaibatou revolving blade to thrust at the head of Helios.
40“Well, then stop fighting like one,” Heracles chuckled as he deflected the thrust with his club and crashed the Aegis shield into the side of Guren, doing only minor damage.
40“Why you!” Li Jiang had the Guren lunge towards the Helios.
40Heracles went to move out of the way when the Guren stopped and the tip of a sword came through the front of the red KnightMare.
40“Fong!” Heracles shouted desperately as the blade withdrew and Guren fell towards the Earth below, revealing the Harpy Automatos that had stabbed the Guren from behind with its sword.
40“YOU WENCH!” Heracles yelled in a fury as he incinerated the Harpy with the Chaos Gun of Helios. The Greek warrior flew the Helios like a comet to catch Guren before it crashed into the Earth.


* * *

40“You’ve improved a great deal since last we met, Akira!” Jason said as their swords crossed continuously. With each attack Jason made towards Nobunaga, the Zangetsu countered with skill and precision that impressed the captain of the Argonauts.
40“I’ve had a lot of practice lately,” Akira told him as he blocked another of the captain’s attacks. “You’ve given me a lot to think…” Akira was cut short as a sword nearly cleaved Zangetsu in half from above. Nobunaga looked to see Talos’ great adamantine blade blocking the bronze-colored sword that tried to cut down Zangetsu.
40Akira heard Jason yell something in Greek over the radio to the female KnightMare Frame that tried to smite him. The woman piloting the machine spat something back at Jason as another of the Harpies flew in behind the Talos.
40“Jason, look out!” Akira yelled as he flew Zangetsu up under the Talos’ left wing and blocked the Harpy from stabbing Talos in the back.
40The Talos and Zangetsu now were back-to-back facing off against both of the Harpies.
40“Care to help me deal with these vile interlopers, Akira?” Jason asked him.
40“Just give the word, Captain!” Nobunaga answered with pride.
40“The word is given, my friend.” Talos and Zangetsu fought against the Harpies together.


* * *

40“What the hell?” Gregor said in a distracted tone as Orpheus attempted another swipe at his Akatsuki.
40“You’ve been doing well thus far,” Orpheus spoke as a teacher to a student. “Don’t disappoint me now by getting distracted.”
40“Orpheus, behind you!” Gregor said pushing past the Spartan and blocking a Harpy right before it cut down the Hoplite.
40“Harpies!” Orpheus blurted out as he watched Gregor fire a burst of autocannon rounds into the head of the female Automatos. “If she tried to attack me…then that means we are betrayed!”
40Gregor followed up his burst of cannon rounds with a thrust to the center of the Harpy. The Katen Yaibatou revolving blade pierced through the center of the machine, destroying it.
40Gregor flew up next to Orpheus’ Spartan as a flight of four more Harpies dove down towards them from above. “Orpheus, are you familiar with the phrase the enemy of my enemy…”
40“…is my friend,” Orpheus finished the saying as he fired the chest-mounted Chaos Gun of his Spartan at the flight of Harpies, destroying one of them. “Let’s go, my friend Gregor. It would seem that the fates have decided we should be comrades.”


* * *

40“We need to leave as quickly as possible, Nunnally,” Enoch told her as he carried her up the stairs that led to the dais. “The Thought Elevator is just ahead of us.”
40“He looks so peaceful,” she said as she caught sight of Lelouch’s body through the crystal lid of his coffin. Lelouch looked as though he were merely sleeping with a content expression on his face and his eyes closed. He was dressed as Zero, with a replica of the helmet of Zero at his feet and the sword of the emperor laying on his body in his hands, like an ancient Knight of Honor.
40“Nunnally, are you listening to what I’m saying?” Enoch sounded hurt as he set her down on her feet.
40“Hmm,” she asked as she came out of her sorrowful thoughts. “I’m sorry, Enoch, I was just thinking about him.”
40“I understand…” Enoch began.
40“Oh, how touching,” Euryale said snidely as she stepped out in front of the two of them from the stair at the other side of the dais with her sword drawn. She held the weapon up towards them.
40“Give the girl to us, old man, and you won’t be harmed,” Medusa said as she came up behind them, her blade in her hands at the ready.
40“Well, well, if it isn’t the daughters of Phorcys and Ceto,” Enoch said with a snicker. “To think that you two were left behind by Zeus and the others…tisk, tisk, such a pity.”
40“You dare to mock us?” Medusa queried him with a vicious scowl. “You’ll pay for that, old one.” Medusa leapt up with her blade high above her head and slashed down at Enoch. The man moved only a few inches to the side, but it was enough for the sword to miss him completely.
40Medusa’s blade struck the crystal lid of the coffin, shattering it into millions of tiny shards and causing her to cover her eyes. Enoch used the screen of shattered pieces to put some distance between them.
40Euryale slid in behind Enoch and thrust with her sword at him but managed to only pierce open air as Enoch once again made a quick but small move to the side allowing the blade to pass by harmlessly.
40Nunnally tried to move away from them as fast as she could on her cybernetic legs while Medusa ran towards Enoch again. The Greek Devicer swung at the old man, but her blade was stopped by another.
40“Don’t you know you should respect your elders?” C.C. said with an impish grin as she brandished a sword taken from the statue of Charles zi Britannia.
40“Oh? Do you aim to school me then?” Medusa answered C.C. as she went into a combat pose.
40“I do,” C.C. told her confidently as she stepped sideways and put her two-handed bastard sword above her head in an arch with her other arm forward, palm outward like a claw in a martial arts stance.
40“You think that you can take us both?” Euryale said as she went at C.C.
40“She doesn’t need to.” Jeremiah leapt up onto the dais and bowed to Euryale. “I’ll be you dancing partner for this waltz.” His blade extended from its recess in his left forearm.
40“How charming,” Euryale smiled. “I’ll enjoy playing the lead in this dance of death.”
40“You won’t succeed, Euryale,” the Red Dragon said as she walked up the stair with a sword in her hand.
40Upon seeing the Red Dragon, C.C. called out to the old man, “Enoch, take the Red Dragon and Nunnally and get out of here.”
40“Still giving me honey-do-lists, eh, C2,” Enoch snickered.
40C.C. blushed slightly as she paced off with Medusa. “Just do it.”
40“You think you can hide her in the River Styx?” Medusa scoffed. “We know its secret places as well, and we know how to find your friends there. Once we finish you two off, we’ll go there and obtain the empress.”
40“She’s right, Red Dragon,” Enoch told the woman. “If these two pass into the River Styx, I’ll need you to help me against them.
40“Damn it,” the modulated voice cursed as she came to stand by Enoch and Nunnally with her sword at the ready.
40“Yes,Enoch.” Euryale laughed manically. “Do be a good boy and take off that stupid façade, and await us in your secret place. Once my sister and I are done with these two, I want to be sure to see you as you really are before I slay you.”
40Jeremiah looked at Enoch with wonder. “How is it you know him?” he asked Euryale.
40“We go way back,” she tittered. “But that needn’t concern you, my handsome warrior. All that should concern you is Euryale.” She lunged towards him with her sword.


* * *

40Suzaku flew the Lancelot of the Lake as fast the graviton-impellors could take him to the Kyoto area. He arrived over Osaka Bay just in time to see the massive bulk of an airship moving in over the Hyogo Prefecture. All around the large cylindrical vessel was a swarm of KnightMare Frames of a type he had never seen before. Their colors matched those of the winged machines he had just fought over Kaminejima.
40“The Ikaruga,” he said aloud to himself as he scanned over the chaos of the battlespace and caught sight of the aerial warship surrounded by its flotilla of support vessels.
40“Lancelot of the Lake,” Tohdoh’s voice boomed over Suzaku’s radio.
40“What is it, General,” he replied.
40“You are to land on the deck of Ikaruga and surrender at once!” Tohdoh commanded.
40“You know I can’t do that, Kyoshiro.” Kururugi scanned over the battlefield seeing that despite their valiant efforts, the Kyoto defense forces were being overrun by the Harpies. “You need every KnightMare you’ve got right now, General.”
40“Don’t argue with me, Suzaku!” Tohdoh shouted. “You had your chance to redeem yourself and you threw it away! You are dead to me!”
40“If I’m dead, then you can’t give me orders, General,” Suzaku sped towards the battle. Within him, the old emotional wounds from his past were reopened. I am dead, he thought to himself, and yet I’m compelled to live. No more, Lelouch.
40“Suzaku!” Kyoshiro called over the radio. “SUZAKU!”
40Suzaku ignored Tohdoh as he cut down four Harpies that tried to intercept him. He had reached the limit of his sorrow; he could no longer bear his burden, and his resolve was made as hard and strong as tempered steel. The Lancelot looked like a ballet dancer as it spun, twisted, rolled, and dodged its way through the legion of Harpies cutting down over a dozen of them in a few moments.
40He would defeat this enemy.


* * *

40“Get me Villetta,” Tohdoh said to Chiba.
40“General, you aren’t thinking of having her take on Suzaku, are you?” Nagisa asked with concern. She had become fond of Villetta during their jaunt from Australia.
40“Why? Is there something wrong?” he grimaced.
40“No, Kyoshiro, but you may be sending her and her students to their deaths,” Nagisa reminded him that Akira and the others were only teenagers.
40“They’re Black Knights now, are they not?” he growled.
40“Yes, Tohdoh, they are,” she answered him knowing he was determined to win this battle. Chiba knew he was scared that Suzaku, the first man to ever fire a FLEIJA weapon, would do so again.
40His angry mask broke upon seeing the hurt look on her face, and he took her hand in his. “I don’t want to see Tokyo repeated, Nagisa.”
40She smiled at him in understanding. “I know…”


* * *

40“I’m sorry, Villetta, but you’re going to have to take down the Lancelot of the Lake without destroying it,” Tohdoh told Major Nu in a polite tone. “Suzaku Kururugi is the pilot of the machine, so I’ll not try to lessen the gravity of this situation. It’s a very dangerous mission.”
40Villetta thought of Ohgi and her children for a moment before answering, “Of course I’ll do it, General. I’ll not let the people of Japan suffer from a FLEIJA again.”
40“Good. How many of your people can assist you?” Tohdoh asked.
40“I can,” Sayoko butted in. “These Greek machines seem to be fighting each other all of a sudden, so I’ve been freed up.”
40“Fighting each other?” Villetta asked her in a confused tone.
40“Yes, Major Nu,” Lena came in over the line. “And it looks like Akira and Gregor are helping them fight the female machines.”
40“Typical boys,” Mika added. “As soon as they bond, they start ganging up on the girls.”
40Tohdoh wasn’t laughing. “Are you telling me you’ve got members of your team assisting the enemy!”
40“They’re not the enemy, General Tohdoh,” Akira’s voice came in over the channel. He had picked up on the conversation over the general Black Knight radio frequency. “In fact, their leader would like to speak to you.”
40“Do you actually expect me to believe that, Lieutenant?” Kyoshiro was furious.
40“He speaks the truth.” This time it was Jason’s voice on the line.
40“Who the hell are you?” Tohdoh demanded.
40The Greek spoke in a military monotone, “I am Jason, Captain of the Argonauts and the only person capable of saving you.”
40“Saving us?” Villetta blurted out. “From what?”
40“Charybdis,” was all Jason could say as the waters of Osaka bay boiled in a tumultuous fury. Within moments, the form of a great metallic beast broke the surface of the water and moved towards the edge of the coastline.
40“It’s a turtle!” Tetsuo gasped as he felled another Harpy.
40“More like the Daiei movie monster Gamera,” Kaguya said in awe of the giant metal beast as she entered onto the mezzanine of the bridge.
40Chiba giggled at Kaguya’s observation, but Kyoshiro only sighed at the presence of the UFN lady-chairman.
40“You see, General Tohdoh,” Jason said. “Scylla and her Charybdis have no doubt come here to destroy your nation and us with it. The attack of the Harpies on my men clearly shows that. Time is short. Therefore, I propose a truce until this common foe is vanquished.”
40Kyoshiro didn’t like the idea of allying with this man. He quickly considered his options. Upon seeing Kaguya give him a stern look with her hands on her hips and the beast move into the bay area around Kobe, destroying the piers of the city shipyards, he quickly made up his mind. “Very well,” he said to Jason. “For the time being, we will be allies.”
40Kaguya gave him an approving nod and smiled.
40Kyoshiro wasn’t sure which he feared more, the giant mechanical turtle or Sumeragi’s wrath.
40“Excellent,” Jason stated warmly. “Akira was right; you are a man of honor.”
40Nagisa smiled at Tohdoh as he raised an eyebrow but said nothing.


* * *

40Suzaku cut down two more Harpies in a blaze of fury that was cut short by the waters of Osaka bay below him erupting into a tempest that spewed forth a giant metal turtle-like KnightMare that was larger than the Ikaruga.
40“What the hell is that thing?” he called out over the radio.
40“It’s called Charybdis,” Kaguya informed him over the communicator. “And according to newly acquired information we have from our new friends, it has come here to destroy Kyoto and all of Japan as well. Listen carefully to me, my cousin. There are millions of innocent people who will die here unless that thing is stopped. As head of the UFN council and arbitrator with our new allies, Jason and his Argonauts, I, Kaguya Sumeragi, hereby pardon you of all past crimes and misdeeds…on one condition.”
40“Go ahead, Lady Kaguya.” Suzaku would not be part and parcel to watching innocent civilians die at the hands of this monster if he could stop it.
40“You must use any and all means at your disposal to either delay or destroy that giant KnightMare. I’ve already ordered a complete evacuation of the metropolitan area some time ago; however, there are still a few stragglers. Civil defense says they can have the city of Kobe cleared in ten minutes. Do you think you can slow this thing down until our forces can make it to you?”
40Suzaku hesitated; he knew what she was asking him to do would involve the FLEIJA warheads his Lancelot carried. “I don’t know, Lady Kaguya. I don’t want to be responsible for killing innocent people with these dreadful weapons…not again.”
40Kaguya spoke to him softly, “I know how you must feel, but now is your chance, Suzaku.” Her voice trembled slightly at what she was about to say. “You can redeem yourself…you can make amends. Suzaku Kururugi, you can help save Japan, and in doing so, you will be forgiven by her and…and for what it’s worth…I’ve already forgiven you, my cousin. You could have fled with Lancelot, and yet you came back of your own accord…that shows me that you truly do have honor.”
40“I understand, Kaguya.” He was pleased at the thought of her forgiveness and smiled. “I thank you.” He flew Lancelot towards the Charybdis.
40“Good luck, my cousin,” she said with concern. “Remember, you only have to keep it at bay until reinforcements arrive.”
40“Don’t worry, Lady Kaguya.” His mind was already made up. “I’ll stop it.”


* * *

40“Hurry, get through the gate!” C.C. told Enoch as she forced Medusa down the stairs of the dais.
40Enoch hesitated. He wanted to help C.C. and her companion defeat the sisters, but he realized that someone else would need him very soon. “She’s right; we need to leave now. Red Dragon, please clear the gateway.”
40“As you wish, Enoch.” The Red Dragon cut through the velum screen revealing the ancient stone doors behind it.
40“Shouldn’t we help them, Enoch?” Nunnally was apprehensive about simply leaving C.C. and Jeremiah to fight these two warrior women.
40“I wish we could, Nunnally, but there is someone who needs me.” Enoch put his hand on the doorway and activated it.
40“Who?” she asked with a perplexed look.
40“Suzaku,” he said bluntly.


* * *

40“It would seem that coward Enoch has fled,” Medusa said to C.C. as she deflected another swift strike by the green-haired woman.
40“He knows what he has to do,” C.C. retorted as she knocked Medusa back onto the red marble pathway with a kick to her midsection.
40“Your skill as a warrior is impressive,” Medusa said with a vile smirk as she recovered and launched another assault.
40“Thank you.” C.C. blocked her sword strike. “It’s too bad your character as a person isn’t.”
40"Aw, and I thought we might become friends," Medusa tittered with venom as she slashed at C.C. again.
40"Stop this madness, and withdraw back to wherever you came from, and I might consider it," C.C. retorted with a snide grin as their swords clashed again.
40"Not before we retrieve the empress and the Golden Apple from this place," Medusa boasted. "Once we have them, you can have this pathetic island and its entire people. Once Tartarus is repowered, we will have the ultimate weapon, the Apollyon, and nothing will stop us."
40C.C. flipped her sword to one side in a feint. "Not if I have anything to say about it."
40"There's nothing that words will do to stand between us and our destiny!" Medusa's eyes glowed with the sigils of Geass as she deflected the feint and swung at superhuman speed towards C.C.'s unprotected side, her reflexes augmented by her power of Geass. "Now you die!"
40Medusa's sword plunged into C.C.'s stomach, the blade piercing all the way through her body causing her to double over and crumple to the ground.
40"Stupid fool," Medusa gloated as she removed her weapon and rested for a few moments, her mortal body momentarily weakened by the burst of speed from her Geass. Medusa watched Euryale skillfully deflect and parry every attack made by Jeremiah. She said to C.C.’s still form, "Now to deal with your friends."
40"It's a good thing I don't die so easily!" C.C. said from behind Medusa as she spun around in disbelief.
40"You're an immortal!" Medusa exclaimed in shock as she tried to raise her sword. But it was too late. C.C. thrust her sword through the woman's heart.
40"Too bad you're not," she said as Medusa fell to the floor. The life left her eyes before she hit the red marble below her.


* * *

40The Lancelot of the Lake slashed at the mighty Charybdis with its twin MVS swords, but the blades simply bounced off the armored shell.
40"You will not pass here!" Kururugi yelled over the general radio channel at the Charybdis.
40"Do you think you stand a chance against me?" Scylla asked Suzaku over the radio in her bored tone. She maneuvered the Charybdis onto the shore and taunted him, "You are little more than an annoyance who will have the honor of seeing my Charybdis in his true form before you die."
40Scylla touched a digital button on her display and the turtle-like machine's body underwent a series of mechanical changes. The plated shell lifted up on both the ventral and dorsal sides of the monster folding together and twisting laterally to form two large wings that protruded from the shoulders of a central body. The front hubs of the turtle swung forward and flipped up to form shoulders from which a pair of small man-like arms emerged. At the rear of the machine the two aft hubs opened up, and a pair of large heavy legs extended downward providing support for the new form of the beast. Instead of the water-bound turtle form that had rested at the edge of the beach of Osaka Bay's shoreline, a dragon now stood.
40Suzaku fired a full salvo of missiles at the giant mecha only to watch them explode harmlessly on the surface on the beast's body. He followed up the attack with all four of Lancelot's MVS harkens and both MVS swords; he managed to damage only the armor of the head of Charybdis at its nape where is met the long neck of the beast.
40"Is that all you can do?" Scylla cackled with maniacal glee.
40"Suzaku, get out of the way!" Kaguya called out over the radio.
40The Lancelot moved just in time to dodge a hail of heavy Hadron Cannon fire from the Ikaruga and her armada of aerial warships.
40The beams engulfed the Charybdis in a radiance of red-black energy.
40The blast subsided revealing the undamaged Charybdis, its wings glowing a brilliant white.
40"Hahahahaha!" Scylla laughed in a frenzy. "Fools! Now you shall learn the folly of your mistake." The maw of Charybdis opened up as balls of energy coalesced within it, building up into a brilliant glow inside the beast's mouth. In the next instant, a massive beam of blue-white energy spewed out of the metallic creature's mouth towards the UFN fleet.
40The beam disintegrated numerous airships of the Black Knight fleet as it swept through the flotilla of vessels towards Ikaruga.
40The deadly blue-white shower of energy passed over the Ikaruga harmlessly as a golden radiance protected the ship. From just behind the Black Knight's flagship the Argos flew up above the Ikaruga.
40"How dare you interfere, Jason!" Scylla yelled over the comm.
40"Stand down, Scylla," Jason ordered her. "We do not need to destroy this nation. We can gain the Golden Apple peacefully."
40"You are weak, Jason," Scylla spat back at him, "like these mortal fools you protect. If you stand aside and let me destroy them, I may consider sparing your life."
40"Suzaku," Kaguya radioed him on a coded channel. "The Argos can't deflect another blast from Charybdis' Transdimensional Energy Cannon."
40"I know what you're going to ask me," Kururugi cut her off as he flew the Lancelot high above Charybdis, "but I cannot do it, Kaguya."
40"You need to use the FLEIJA!" she pleaded with him. "The city is now deserted; there's no reason for you to hold back."
40The maw of Charybdis began to glow again as the Argos and Ikaruga continued to pummel the giant Automatos with autocannon and energy weapon fire.
40Suzaku heard Jason and Scylla continue to argue over the radio. Jason was getting nowhere fast, as Scylla was determined to kill all of them. Kururugi closed his eyes and armed one of his FLEIJA warheads. In the next instant, he fired it directly onto the top of Charybdis.
40The warhead exploded into a pink-white sphere of destructive energy that destroyed half the city of Kobe. The destructive sphere collapsed back in on itself towards ground zero in a swirl of energy that didn't seem right to Suzaku.
40"It can't be!" Kururugi exclaimed in horror as the FLEIJA subsided and he saw Charybdis still standing amidst the ruins of the city. Its wings glowed a brilliant pink color from absorbing the FLEIJA energy.
40Scylla laughed in a psychotic orgasm of murderous bloodlust. "NOTHING CAN STOP ME!" She giggled insanely as Charybdis let loose a fifty-mile-long beam of FLEIJA destruction that tore a mile-wide path from Kobe to Kyoto. The energy beam exploded in the center of the city of Kyoto where it stopped and collapsed everything within twenty miles around its epicenter, destroying the city and perhaps millions of its inhabitants.
40"NOOOOO!" Suzaku screamed as he fought back the urge to flee. The orange-red glow in his eyes flickered as he drove Lancelot down towards the metal dragon in a blind fury. "YOU WILL NOT STOP ME...DO YOU HEAR ME, LELOUCH!" Suzaku screamed out loud as Lancelot landed on the nape of the neck of Charybdis where its armor had been damaged and pried the metal plates back with the Maser Vibration Swords of his machine.
40"What are you doing?" Scylla cried out to him in fear as she tried to grab the Lancelot with the tiny arms of Charybdis to no avail.
40Every muscle in Suzaku's body tensed up as he fought back against the Geass charm that ordered him to live. "I WILL NOT RUN...NOT AFTER SO MANY HAVE DIED!" He aimed his second FLEIJA at the hole in the neck of the beast and armed it.
40"YOU'LL KILL US BOTH!" Scylla screamed at him as she tried to shake off his KnightMare.
40Tears of pain ran down Suzaku's cheeks as he forced his body to obey and pull the trigger sending the FLEIJA into the body of Charybdis.
40A pink-white light erupted from the body of the giant Automatos as it was consumed by the blast and completely destroyed.
40"Suzaku..." Kaguya cried softly on the bridge of the Ikaruga.
40Chiba hung her head in silence.
40"Recall all KnightMares," Tohdoh said in a controlled voice with his eyes closed. His lids hid the moisture under them as he willed himself not to cry, save for one tear that no one saw.


* * *

40"MEDUSA!" Euryale cried out as she saw her sister fall. Without thinking, she used her power of Geass. The orange-red radiance filled the whole of the temple reaching out to her sister's lifeless body.
40Jeremiah was stunned by the intensity of the woman's power but recovered just soon enough to block a sword thrust by her.
40"I will kill you!" Euryale said through gritted teeth as her sister rose up from the ground and attacked C.C.
40Jeremiah tried to block her attacks, but Euryale deflected his blade and stabbed towards his throat. He grabbed the blade with his cybernetic hand but fell backwards onto the stairs.
40She pinned his right arm with her leg and pushed down on her sword with the weight of her body. "Your time has come, my handsome warrior," she hissed at him as the adamantine blade cut along his metallic fingers towards his neck.
40Jeremiah struggled to free his right arm, but his position on the stair prevented him from gaining the leverage he needed to throw her off.
40Euryale's blade slipped to within a hair's breadth of his Adam's apple.
40"It's futile to resist," she cooed to him. "Just embrace your doom..." Shock covered her face as a blade penetrated through her from behind; the tip of the sword glowed an orange-gold color.
40"I cannot...die,” Euryale gasped as the glow of the blade subsided and she took her last breath.
40"I thought you had all gone," Jeremiah said as he pushed Euryale's lifeless body off of him. "But I'm happy you came back when you did, Red Dra..." He stopped when he saw who had slain Euryale and now stood before him.
40A look of shocked elation crossed Jeremiah's face.


* * *

40"That looks like all of them accept for Fong's unit," Villetta said as the Jaguars stood on the flight deck of Ikaruga as it hovered over the ruins of Kobe.
40"Where could he be?" Akira paced back and forth on the flight deck.
40"Maybe the Guren was disabled and he found a safe place to land," Mika tried to comfort Akira, but she knew Fong's absence wasn't a good sign.
40The Jaguars were startled by the Helios flying up onto the flight deck; in its arms was the battered form of Guren.
40"I tried to save him," was all Heracles could get out over his loudspeaker as Helios laid the red KnightMare down on the deck. "I am sorry," the Greek warrior stated somberly.
40Villetta walked up to the machine. She didn't need to open the hatch of Guren to know that Li Jiang Fong was dead. The blood-soaked gaping hole from the sword thrust of the Harpy Automatos told her all she needed to know. Still, Major Nu looked inside the Devicer cockpit through the hole.
40Sayoko followed behind her in case Villetta needed help removing Fong immediately; though her gut told her that such services would not be needed.
40Major Nu put her hand to her mouth and fought back the urge to wretch as she turned away from the hole in the cockpit.
40"What is it, coach?" Lena said as tears welled up in her eyes.
40Villetta looked at Sayoko and shook her head.
40"He's dead," Lena said in a whisper as tears flowed down her cheeks.
40Mika hugged Lena and cried with her.
40Akira closed his eyes and said a silent prayer to his friend as Gregor and Tetsuo followed suit.


* * *

40Medusa lunged at C.C. and kicked the sword out of her hands, knocking the immortal witch off balance.
40C.C. was taken by surprise and tried to regain her balance, but Medusa swiped her legs with a swift kick that brought C.C. down hard onto her knees on the red marble.
40"Now I'll take your immortality for myself!" Medusa spat at C.C. as she grabbed her by the neck and squeezed with all her might.
40C.C. tried to breathe while she groped at the ground for her sword, but the woman's grip was too strong and her weapon had fallen out of reach. She could feel the power of Medusa's Geass drawing her Code from her body. C.C. fought back with all the will she could muster.
40"Stop trying to resist," Medusa said as she tightened her grip. "Soon you'll die for the last time."
40"RELEASE HER!" a male voice boomed through the hall towards Medusa.
40Medusa turned towards the direction of the voice. "Why should I?" she asked sarcastically.
40A male figure moved from the shadows of the stairwell into the light of the cauldrons that surrounded the edge of the temple. The twin sigils of Geass glowed in his eyes. C.C. looked at him in awe as he replied to Medusa, "Because I, Lelouch vi Britannia, COMMAND YOU!"

Kodai Okuda
09-20-2010, 06:01 AM
Turn Fourteen: Aftermath

40“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
80The Soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
40Hath had elsewhere its setting,
80And cometh from afar;
40Not in entire forgetfulness,
40And not in utter nakedness,
40But trailing clouds of glory do we come
80From God, who is our home;
40Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
40Shades of the prison-house begin to close
80Upon the growing boy,
40But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
80He sees it in his joy;
40The youth, who daily farther from the east
80Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,
80And by the vision splendid
80Is on his way attended;
40At length the man perceives it die away,
40And fade into the light of common day.” —From William Wordsworth’s Ode. Intimations of Immortality.

40“You can see the remains of the once great city of Kyoto behind me,” Milly said into the televisions of millions of homes around the planet. “The giant KnightMare Fortress that destroyed this once great metropolis only a few days ago is now nothing more than a lump of molten slag some forty miles away in the ruins of Kobe.”
40Her cameraman, Mr. Seiji, panned the camera-eye over to the wreckage that was once Kobe and then along the path of destruction that led to the crater of Kyoto.
40“We can all thank the quick thinking and bravery of the Black Knights and our very own Olympic KnightMare team, the Japan Jaguars, for our victory over the armies of Schneizel here in Japan.”
40The camera went back to Milly. “Due to the advanced warning of the impending FLEIJA attack by Schneizel’s forces from General Li Xingke’s fleet in the South Pacific, General Kyoshiro Tohdoh was able to order the complete evacuation of the entire Hyogo Prefecture population to the underground anti-FLEIJA shelters, thus averting massive casualties.”
40The image of Milly was replaced by a video clip of Kaguya, Lihua, Tohdoh, and Villetta Nu seated at a conference table on the Ikaruga as Milly’s voice spoke, “Lady-Chairman Kaguya Sumeragi, Empress Jiang Lihua, and General Tohdoh are currently engaged in talks with the Japanese civil defense corps to finalize the permanent addition of the Japan Jaguars into the Black Knight forces.”
40Mrs. Ashford came back with a grave look on her face. “These additions to the strength of the Black Knight forces come none too soon as reports from Europe have flooded in over the wire about the Britannian invasion of that continent. It would seem that the former Brazilian commander-in-chief, Generalissimo Caesaro, has been reinstated as Princess Cornelia li Britannia and is now acting in her sister’s stead until their empress is returned to them.” Milly’s image was again cut to show a clip of Cornelia demanding the UFN return Nunnally and Zero.
40Milly’s image came back on the screen. “Tensions are high as people everywhere wonder where the Knight of Justice is? Where is Zero in all of this?”


* * *

40“We have crushed their forces,” Medusa told Sthenno over the communicator of the Kraken, “and are currently transmitting a false report to the rest of the world in order to maintain an air of secrecy while we extract the Golden Apple from Mount Fuji.”
40Sthenno smiled at her sister. “Well done, Medusa. And what of Jason and his Argonauts?” she asked with a narrow-eyed look.
40“Dead,” Medusa said with a somber expression, “but at great cost to us, my sister.”
40“Oh? How badly were our casualties?” Sthenno didn’t like Medusa’s depressed demeanor. It told her something was wrong.
40“The Charybdis was destroyed by a FLEIJA, and…” Medusa hung her head.
40“Euryale?” Sthenno asked with more emotion than she had intended.
40Medusa shook her head and cried, “Killed!”
40Sthenno closed her eyes and clenched her fists. “How? She is an immortal.”
40“Enoch.” Medusa spat out his name.
40Sthenno opened her eyes, a fury burned within them as she asked, “Where is that meddling world-walker now?”
40“Escaped through the River Styx to parts unknown with the Empress Nunnally and Zero,” Medusa said with a look of shame on her face.
40Sthenno regarded Medusa with a warm smile, “Don’t be ashamed, my sister; you are no match for the likes of that Hebrew devil. I’m just glad you didn’t suffer the same fate.”
40“Thank you, Sthenno.” Medusa lifted her head. “What of your prince…what of Schneizel?”
40The question seemed out of place to Sthenno. “What makes you ask about him?”
40“Our forces were drained considerably,” Medusa told her. “We may need reinforcements to maintain control of Japan.”
40Sthenno was unsure if she should accept this weak explanation. “I’ve not heard from Schneizel for some time now. I suspect he has his own plan in all of this.”
40“I see,” Medusa said with concern. “So we’ll have to make do on our own for now.”
40“How many Harpies do you still have?” Sthenno asked.
40“A legion and a half,” Medusa lied. “Plus the Gorgon.”
40“That should suffice until you load the Kraken with the Golden Apple and leave Japan,” Sthenno told her with a raised brow.
40“Very well then, my sister.” Medusa seemed strained. “We will remain in Japan until we finish mining the ore we need.” Medusa’s image vanished from the screen in front of Sthenno.
40Sthenno looked out the window of the control tower of Tartarus and wondered; she could feel that the winds of fate had changed and something was wrong.


* * *

40Medusa walked from the bridge of the Kraken out to the gangway of the Greek submersible. She briskly made her way down along the shoreline of the coast that the ship was anchored at and strode up towards the Tomb of the Britannian Emperors and the Stygian Gate it concealed.
40The Greek warrior woman slipped in through the entrance of the large cavern and made her way past the statues of Britannian emperors, long since gone, towards where a pair of figures stood next to one another upon the dais at the far end of the chamber.
40One of the pair was a young man, no more than 18 years old, who wore a black cape and fine black clothing highlighted with exquisite purple silks: the burial clothes of an emperor. By his side stood a beautiful woman of nearly the same age in appearance, with flowing green hair and golden eyes. She wore a black uniform similar in style to the man at her side.
40Medusa could hear them speaking as she approached stealthily.
40“That’s the situation as it stands now, Lelouch,” C.C. told him coming closer to his side.
40“So, Schneizel somehow awoke these Greek Geass users and freed himself?” Lelouch inquired of her.
40“It would seem so.” C.C. titled her head to one side and looked up at him. “You okay?”
40Lelouch looked down at his hand. The pink sigil of Geass stared back up at him from the center of his palm where he had held the sword that slew Euryale. “I didn’t mean to kill her…I only wanted to stop her from slaying Jeremiah.”
40Medusa listened intently. Could it be that this Lelouch speaks the truth? Did he kill Euryale by accident?
40“Don’t fret over it.” C.C. caressed his cheek with her hand. “What’s done is done.”
40“I know.” He looked down into her eyes. “But the last thing I expected when I awoke was to have to kill someone. I’ve enough blood on my hands, C2. I don’t want anymore if I can help it.”
40She smiled at him. “You haven’t slept in three days, Lelouch. You must be tired.”
40“I suppose,” Lelouch said as he leaned in and kissed her on the lips.
40C.C. was shocked by his gesture of affection and pulled away. “What?” she gasped. “That was a first for you!”
40“Huh,” he said embarrassed by the emotions that welled up inside him. “I’m…I’m sorry…I just…”
40She put her index finger over his lips. “It’s okay, silly. I’m pleasantly surprised by it. It’s about time you started showing an interest in women.” C.C. giggled and kissed him back, hard.
40Lelouch didn’t remember feeling sexually attracted to C.C. at any time prior to his death, but after he absorbed Euryale’s Code, something had changed within him. He felt aroused with a passion towards C.C. that seemed to squelch the pure innocent love he had had for other women in his past and his body reacted in kind.
40C.C. noticed as she looked down at the bulge below his beltline and said with a mischievous grin, “Gee, you’re full of surprises today.” She pressed her lips against his again and wrapped her arms around him.
40Lelouch searched his mind for the reasons why he desired this woman so much at this moment. Was it because she was the only woman here that he suddenly realized how beautiful she was? Was it because Euryale had held some deviant lust for her that he now possessed?
40He broke their kiss and shook his head slightly. NO…it was because it was she that had made him her champion so many years ago to help him with his rebellion and fulfill her wish. Her love for him flowed through the power of Geass she had given him, and the Code within him picked up on that love and allowed him to feel it through a sort of shared empathy.
40C.C. stared into his eyes. “What is it?” A hurt look crossed her face. “Is something wrong? Do you not want me…?”
40He kissed her and then smiled at her. “No, C2, it’s just that I’ve never…you know.”
40“Oh.” C.C. was giddy. “Don’t worry.” She unzipped his fly. “Just leave the driving to me.”
40Medusa took a twisted pleasure in listening to their passionate lovemaking as she sat within the recess of the stairwell waiting for them to finish.
40An hour passed before they were done.


* * *

40When the lustful moans subsided and Lelouch and C.C. began talking normally again about what to do next in their plans against Schneizel, Medusa climbed up the stair and got their attention.
40“I’m sorry, Master Lelouch,” Medusa said with a smile. “Am I interrupting something?”
40C.C. ignored Medusa’s smirk.
40“You did well,” Lelouch said to Medusa as she walked over to where they were standing beside a table and chairs that had been taken from the Kraken’s furnishings the day before.
40“You monitored my conversation?” Medusa scowled.
40“Of course.” He smiled at her and poured her a cup of iced tea from a pitcher on the table. “Please join us,” he told her in a congenial tone.
40“Why would I sup with the man who murdered my beloved sister?” she asked.
40“Because you are a warrior and understand that in war all is fair.” Lelouch gave her a sad look. “I once had to kill my own sister to win in battle; do not think I slew Euryale with malice in my heart. I did it to save my Knight of Orange.”
40His words did not match the facial expression he wore. What she had heard him say before about not wishing to slay Euryale must have been true, which is why this mask he put forward now made sense to Medusa.
40The Greek woman smiled at him. “Do not worry, my Lord Lelouch; I am well aware that all is fair in love and in war. Therefore, I shall choose to forgive you for her death.”
40“He doesn’t need your forgiveness,” C.C. said snidely.
40Ignoring C.C., Medusa walked over and sat down in one of the wicker chairs next to Lelouch. “May I ask, my Lord Lelouch…this woman you seem so fond of…is she your concubine?”
40“Concubine?” C.C. blurted out in shock.
40“Well…not exactly.” Lelouch blushed.
40“But she kissed you passionately and made love to you in this very temple,” Medusa said with an innocent look. “You may have me under your power, Lelouch vi Britannia, but I’m not blind nor deaf; I could hear the two of you from the entrance and see your forms intertwined in the rhythmic dance of love for some time.”
40C.C. turned multiple shades of red at the thought of the sound of their love reverberating throughout the Geass Temple and out onto the wilds of Kaminejima for any and all to hear. The emotions that had overtaken them led to that pleasantly unexpected and somewhat exhibitionist event.
40Lelouch’s tongue stumbled for the right words to say to Medusa as the feeling of C.C.’s body and the love they had shared together coursed through his psyche, confounding his normally disciplined manner of speech. “We…well…it’s just that we’ve not seen in each in over six years.”
40“And you needed her. I completely understand, my Lord. She is your concubine, and as such, you desired her.” Medusa smiled at Lelouch. Something about the dark aura of this immortal man began to interest her. “And now I to belong to you.”
40“Just wait a damn minute!” C.C. exclaimed at the insinuation of Medusa’s comment and seductive look at Lelouch.
40Lelouch’s eyes narrowed at her though he spoke in a kind, soft tone, “I used Geass on you because I needed to save C2 before you killed her, and you are necessary for my plans. I did not use my power on you to appease some erotic fantasy.”
40“Which is precisely why I am inclined to serve you willingly, my Lord.” Medusa wasn’t sure if it was his Geass influence on her mind or if she truly was becoming quickly enamored with this resurrected immortal prince. “Your brother has betrayed us, and you are the only one who can help us against him.”
40Lelouch looked deep into her eyes but could find no physical indication that she was lying. “Then we’ve much to plan if we are to stop him.”
40C.C. looked at Lelouch and rolled her eyes. “What, you get your first taste of a woman and now you think the world is a buffet?”
40Medusa snickered wickedly. “Oh, my, Lord Lelouch…I have such sights I could show you.”
40C.C. was speechless at her comment while Lelouch turned beet red.


* * *

40“See anything yet, Kallen?” Gino asked as the Yamato no Orochi flew around the vicinity of Mount Fuji.
40“No, not yet,” Captain Kozuki replied as she looked out the cockpit of her Type-21S trying to pinpoint a spot on the mountain.
40“I don’t know what those sakuradite miners are talking about, Kallen,” Tamaki griped. “I don’t see any KnightMare Frame around here. There’s nothing but snow and trees on this side of Fuji.”
40“The report comes from a reliable source,” Anya said as they flew around the summit of the mountain. “A KnightMare Frame allegedly crash-landed somewhere around here right after the FLEIJA destroyed Kobe and Kyoto a few days ago.”
40“I think they’re just giving us this duty to keep us from seeing what is really going on near Kobe,” Gino sighed. “It’s like they don’t trust us or something.”
40“They don’t,” Kallen said as she flew up along the southern ridge of the peak. “We came here on the Avalon as guests among her crew. Considering we’re at war with Britannia right now, I’m surprised Tohdoh is actually using the Avalon in this salvage operation.”
40“Do you think having Rakshata and her team being in charge of this operation is going to sit well with Lloyd and Cecile?” Gino asked with a chuckle.
40“I’m not sure about Cecile,” Kallen laughed, “but I know Lloyd wasn’t happy about it.”
40“Hey, I like Rakshata,” Tamaki said with a huff. “She was always kinda cool and collected, even in some of the toughest battles against Britannia.”
40“That’s true,” Kallen agreed.
40“Professor Lloyd is the same way,” Anya stated matter-of-factly as a glint of something in the snow caught her attention. “Hey, you guys, I think there’s a metallic object down there.”
40“Yah, Anya, we know,” Tamaki snickered. “We just can’t find it.”
40“No, Tamaki,” the girl said in an irritated tone, “I think I may have found it.” Anya made her Type-21J Samurai swoop down towards the point of reflected sunlight and transformed her fighter into KnightMare Mode.
40A few moments went by before Tamaki piped up. “Well?” Tamaki asked. “Did you find anything, Anya?”
40“Yes.” The girl’s voice sounded unusually emotional.
40“What did you find?” Kallen asked.
40“You guys need to come down here and see this,” Anya replied.
40In seconds, the other three variable frames flew down to the surface and transformed.
40All four Frames stood before the remains of what was once a KnightMare. The head, arms, and lower portion of its legs were totally sheered off; obviously by some tremendous force. The back half of the machine was buried in the snow, and the long trench leading up the mountainside told the story of how the machine must have slammed into the side of the great peak and slid up hundreds of feet before finally stopping in a pile of snow and ice created by its impact.
40Kallen opened up a radio channel to the Avalon. “Attention, Avalon, this is Captain Kallen Kozuki. I think we’ve found what you’re looking for.”
40The aerial-frigate glided in over the spot slowly as a salvage team and recovery unit was dispatched from the craft.


* * *

40“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Sayoko said running up to Jeremiah Gottwald as he walked off the aerial shuttle that had just arrived on Ikaruga.
40Jeremiah took her hand in his and kissed it lightly as they stood together. “Forgive me for taking so long to return.”
40“Where is C2?” Villetta inquired. “I imagine she must have made it.”
40“She’ll be along as soon as she is able,” he smiled at Major Nu. “C2 is currently tending to…an old friend.”
40“Old friend?” Sayoko tilted her head to one side and gave him a puzzled smile.
40“Anyone I know?” Villetta asked him with an equally perplexed look.
40Jeremiah only gave the women a mischievous grin in reply.
40“Hey, you three!” a male voice called from the rampart of the shuttle.
40“OHGI!” Villetta cried out as she rushed up and kissed him. “Oh, how I’ve missed you.”
40Ohgi blushed. “I was really worried about you too.”
40“Is it true?” Villetta asked in anticipation.
40“Yes,” he replied with a grim smile.
40“So, you’re okay with this, Sayoko?” Villetta asked her in an apprehensive tone.
40“Of course.” She let go of Jeremiah’s hands and tittered, “I’d love to watch over your children while you two are off saving the world. I’ve had enough KnightMare combat to last me a lifetime.”
40“Pardon me,” Jeremiah politely interjected, “but what exactly is going on?”
40Villetta was gleaming as she replied to Gottwald’s question, “Ohgi’s been reinstated as captain of the Ikaruga since Nagisa has been promoted to commodore and will be taking command of the UFN surface navy now that the threat of Charybdis is over.”
40Ohgi sighed. “Personally, I think she just wants to be closer to Tohdoh since he’s leading the naval armada that’s going to try and retake Australia in a few days.”
40“They wanted someone who had experience in aerial warfare to command the Ikaruga since so many of the UFN commanders were killed at Kerguelen Island,” Villetta stated proudly, “so when I heard they needed people, I dropped Ohgi’s name to Tohdoh. He agreed almost immediately.”
40“Of course he did.” Ohgi didn’t sound pleased. “Kyoshiro’s been trying to get me back into politics or the military since I resigned my post as prime minister.”
40“It’s because he likes you and thinks you’re a capable leader. You proved yourself during the war,” Villetta cooed at him.
40Kanime didn’t share her optimism. “Zero was the one who called the shots during the Black Rebellion, not me. I was there as an adviser and for support, that’s all…I really wish he was here now; we could use his talent.”
40Jeremiah smiled but said nothing.


* * *

40“Well, I’m afraid you won’t be able to continue to pilot your Gekka KnightMares or the Zangetsu,” Rakshata told the Japan Jaguars with a polite smile as she strode along the line of battle-damaged machines within the KnightMare hangar of the Ikaruga. “Their superstructures are just too badly fractured and too old for me to certify them for continued use in combat.”
40“What are we supposed to use if we can’t use these Frames?” Tetsuo complained.
40Doctor Chawla waved her ever present long-pipe around and smiled at them. “I suppose I’ll just have to let you use my new designs.”
40“Does that mean you finished the Type-24 Goro?” Akira asked.
40“It does,” she snickered.
40Mika looked perplexed. “How are we supposed to learn to fly a brand-new type of KnightMare Frame fast enough for our new assignments? The Ikaruga is due to leave Japan for Hawaii in three days.”
40Rakshata laughed. “The Goro is simply an updated Akatsuki/Gekka design, so you should have no problem learning how to pilot the new machine. This new general-purpose tenth-generation KnightMare Frame replaces all Akatsuki and Akatsuki Jikisan mecha for the UFN Asiatic forces. I’ve even built an officer model just for the Jaguars called the Type-24O Okouchi and a custom model for you, Akira, the Type-24Z Susano-O.”
40“When will we get to see them?” Gregor asked with excitement.
40“They’ll arrive here in Japan from India in a day or two,” Rakshata chortled at their worried looks. “Don’t worry; we’re not leaving until you get them.”
40“Who’ll be assigned the Okouchi units?” Mika asked with a snide smile.
40“I’m not sure yet; that’s up to Major Nu to decide,” Rakshata stated. “Though I imagine she’ll probably assign both you and Lena to the Okouchi models…that is, until I finish with a new project that’s suddenly come to my attention.”
40“New project?” Lena asked. “Is it another new KnightMare Frame?”
40“I can’t tell any of you the details right now,” Rakshata stated with a grin. “But I’ll need two female Devicers when it’s ready, and the two of you are perfect.”
40“Is it that Automatos-KnightMare Frame the UFN found on Kamine Island?” Lena pressed her anxiously.
40“I really can’t…” Rakshata was interrupted by the ship’s intercom.
40“Doctor Chawla, please report to the bridge,” a female voice called over the overhead speaker.
40Rakshata turned with a wink at the Jaguars. “I’ll have your new machines to you as soon as they arrive.” She waved at them as she made it to the elevator. “Until then…chow!”


* * *

40“Alright, everybody, be careful…be careful!” Lloyd said in a frantic tone as the salvage team lowered the remains of the battered KnightMare onto the hangar deck of the Avalon.
40“What do you think, Lloyd?” Cecile asked him as she watched the engineers move the badly charred machine into the metal clamps of the work-gantry.
40“I think we’ve just found my Lancelot!” he said with a boyish grin as she activated the gantry clamps and secured the KnightMare into an upright position.
40“I’m surprised you’re so happy considering how badly damaged Lancelot is,” Cecile smiled. “Assuming it is the Lancelot of the Lake, I highly doubt the Devicer survived,” Cecile Croomy said sadly. She had no idea that her former comrade and friend, Suzaku Kururugi, had been the pilot of the machine, but she still felt for the man or woman she thought had perished.
40“The limb modules may have been destroyed, but the core of the unit is still intact.” Professor Asplund adjusted his glasses as he looked down at Cecile. “That means that my FLEIJA Wave Rider units work.”
40Cecile gave him a befuddled smirk, “Are you implying that this unit is a success?”
40Lloyd chuckled, “Absolutely. Just look at what was lost: the lower legs, the arms, head, and portions of the wings.” He opened his arms up wide and shrugged. “All parts that are gone are easily replaceable. Thus, the concentrated ultimate-protection shields in the knees fulfilled their purpose and protected the main body of the machine.”
40Cecile looked at him with disbelief. “That still doesn’t explain how the Lancelot ended up over two hundred miles from Kobe to Mount Fuji.”
40Lloyd threw up his arms. “Oh, my dear Cecile, the explanation is in the name.” He made a wave movement with his left arm. “It’s a wave rider. In other words, at the moment the internal FLEIJA monitors detect a FLEIJA reaction within a specific radius of Lancelot, the knee-mounted ultimate-protection shields are activated.”
40Professor Asplund made an outward cup with his hands towards Cecile. “These shields generate a bowl-shaped sort of upside-down parachute that acts like a catch. This catch captures the force of the FLEIJA explosion’s shock wave. The tremendous energy of such a wave provides incredible amounts of inertia force which allows Lancelot to ride the wave away from the danger of the FLEIJA as fast as the blast wave of the FLEIJA is traveling. Therefore, Lancelot is moving ahead of the explosion and beyond due to the speed at which the KnightMare Frame is traveling.”
40“And you came up with this all by yourself?” she snickered knowing how much Lloyd loved his creation.
40Lloyd paused. “Well…no…Nina helped with the mathematical calculations for the FLEIJA detonation detection system software, but the design of the KnightMare was my own. Though I have to admit she didn’t think it would work, so she forced me to add a system of her making.”
40Cecile was surprised. “Nina added a system?”
40Lloyd put his hands on his hips. “Yes, she did. She does have some nerve sometimes…”
40Cecile cut him short. “What system, Lloyd?”
40“Huh?” Lloyd lost the train of his rant. “Oh…an emergency system for the pilot.”
40“WHAT?” Cecile shot up from her control station. “What kind of system was it, Lloyd.”
40He scratched his head. “Oh, some kind of FLEIJA Wave Rider system for the cockpit module.”
40Cecile grabbed him and brought his face down to hers as she yelled at him, “AND YOU ONLY THOUGHT TO MENTION THIS NOW?!”
40“What?” he whined. “I didn’t think it was important.”
40“Not important!” She pushed him away and rushed down to the KnightMare gantry.
40“What is it, Cecile?” Professor Asplund raced after her to see what had caught the woman’s attention.
40Cecile got onto the gantry lift and waited a moment for Lloyd to jump on before activating the open elevator and riding it up next to the shoulders of the Lancelot.
40“Did it ever occur to you that someone might still be alive in this thing, you twit?” Cecile scolded him.
40He looked up at the ceiling and put his hand to his chin. “Well…actually…no.”
40She let out a sarcastic laugh. “No.” Cecile closed her eyes in frustration as she held back the urge to punch him out. “Because you were only thinking of your precious Lancelot.”
40“But, Cecile…” he started to protest.
40Cecile opened her eyes and glared at him. “No buts, Lloyd! You need to be more concerned about people and stop being so damned mechanical.”
40“Yes, but, Cecile…” Lloyd tried to say.
40Anger welled up within her and she slapped him across the face. “Stop trying to make excuses, Lloyd.” She put her hands on her hips. “Really…sometimes you’re unbelievable.”
40“Yes, I know, Cecile,” Lloyd said holding his stinging cheek, “but you’re not listening to me.”
40“What?” she asked thinking that maybe she should give him a good fist to the face to make her sentiment sink in.
40Seeing her hand clench into a ball, Lloyd simply pointed to the back of the Lancelot.
40Cecile Croomy turned to see that where the Devicer’s cockpit should have been between the graviton-impellors of Lancelot there was only open air.
40“Oh…” She blushed in embarrassment. “Heh…So, the pilot ejected.”
40He gave her a smug grin. “That’s what I was trying to tell you. Nina’s system was an ejection system that used a FLEIJA Wave Rider to ensure the survival of the pilot should the Lancelot suffer too much damage to be of any use.”
40“Well, then that means the pilot might have survived,” Cecile stated bluntly.
40“I’ll admit it is a strong possibility,” he smiled, “but we don’t know where the ejection module landed, so we have no idea what happened to the Devicer.”
40“We need to find that module,” Cecile told him.
40“Why? We have Lancelot…” Lloyd recoiled in horror at Cecile’s dark glare.
40“LLOYD!”
40He sighed in defeat. “Right…so, we’ll go find the module now.”
40Cecile smiled and gave him a nod.


* * *

40Nunnally stood upon her cybernetic legs looking out the large picture frame windows of the lavishly decorated room she was in at the vast futuristic cityscape which surrounded Mount Fuji. In the distance, she could see the large fleets of what the Red Dragon had told her were starships. She watched as the vessels of various sizes and shapes seemed to float effortlessly towards the deep blue sky above and then vanished out of sight.
40The bright cobalt blue sky and puffy white clouds of this Japan seemed much happier than the ones she had left behind in her own world. The Red Dragon told her that, according to Enoch, this world had gone through hundreds of thousands of years of war and turmoil, and even now, war raged throughout this version of the Milky Way. The Red Dragon stated that this place was an alternate universe to her own, and that they were now in a different dimension and time than the world they had left behind.
40Parallel universes, universal-scale membranes, the multiverse, and interdimensional travel—they were concepts Nunnally was having trouble coping with.
40She may have been an empress back in the world she knew, but here she was just another common person on this one tiny little planet that existed as a part of a much greater whole. Nunnally gazed down at the coffee table to her right and looked again in disbelief at the paper that lay there: The Galactic Tribune, Issue #3357, dated 5.0301 of the Galactic Standard calendar. She had read through the journal from cover to cover while she waited for the Red Dragon to return. The headline of the newspaper read of the latest incursion by the Kan’Jour alien superpower as it attempted yet another invasion of the Alpha Quadrant and the territory of the Galactic Free Republic. Nunnally shook her head in awe of the implications of where she was and the indisputable reality of her situation; it made her head spin.
40She, empress of Britannia, a country which had never even existed in this world, was now nothing more than a guest within the vast and strange castle of Enoch Apsu and the secrets it held. Here she waited like some fairy tale princess awaiting her Prince Charming to come and rescue her from a long lost tower.
40After their trek across C’s World, the three of them had emerged into this place, or at least Nunnally thought it was this new world. Enoch’s palace defied logic as she understood it, so she wasn’t exactly sure.
40She wanted to ask the man many questions, but Enoch disappeared almost as soon as she and the Red Dragon had arrived in the large circular Room of Many Worlds, as Enoch called it. This chamber was at the center of his bizarre palace. As he was heading across the room, Enoch had simply stated that he was needed back in the world of Geass and disappeared through another of the many doors that lined the large circular room.
40After that, the Red Dragon ushered her to a staircase at the side of the chamber which led up to a balcony on the second level. The upper level was little more than a walkway that ran the full circumference of the chamber to various archways leading to parts unknown.
40Nunnally had followed the Red Dragon through one of the archways to the “Nexus” wing of what she called Enoch’s Quantum Castle. Here the two of them toured the treasure chamber, weapons rooms, armories, and exquisite kitchen of the palace, which defied reason, as it was simply far too large on the inside to match its appearance on the outside; or at least its outside from the balconies of the “Nexus” wing.
40During her stay here, which had seemed like weeks, Nunnally found that not only was Enoch not the Red Dragon’s actual great-grandfather, but the “old” man had been wearing a disguise to hide his appearance. The Red Dragon said he wore such costumes and facades to ensure no one would see him as being out of place while he conducted his “work”, whatever that was.
40The Red Dragon recanted how the “elderly” man had giggled incessantly upon her first arrival in this place. She said he had taken pleasure in seeing her expression when he removed the mask from his face that revealed his true appearance. The mirthful man seemed giddy at showing her his pair of amber-colored eyes, raven-black hair, and skin that had a golden hue to it. Clearly he was not human, or at least not any kind of human the Red Dragon had seen before. According to the Red Dragon, the man beneath the mask appeared to be no more than 25 years of age, but his eyes betrayed an intelligence that showed he was vastly older.
40Nunnally contemplated the reasons why such an individual as Enoch would involve himself in the affairs of her world, the World of Geass. She looked around the observation study at the walls of bookshelves that held numerous volumes from various worlds and formulated an idea as to what his purpose might be. She had been surprised to find that some of the tombs in Enoch’s study were history books from Ashford. If this strange man was indeed some kind of custodian of the multiverse, as she surmised, then it would make sense for him to have detailed histories of all the worlds he traveled.
40Nunnally wondered what was keeping Enoch and the Red Dragon as she contemplated the whole of her situation. The Red Dragon had left her less than an hour after she and Nunnally entered the observation study that the empress now patiently stood within watching the starships come and go from Kobe spaceport. Nunnally had heard Enoch call for the woman while she read through the Galactic Tribune and sipped tea with the Red Dragon.
40No sooner had Nunnally begun to think that perhaps she was now more of a prisoner than a guest within this palace than the Red Dragon came into the room.
40“Empress Nunnally, come with me please.” Her modulated voice sounded strained.
40Nunnally wasted no time and followed after the woman as quickly as her cybernetic legs would take her through the marble halls of the finely furnished castle.
40The two women wove their way past room after room until they finally came to a door that opened up into a chamber that looked suspiciously like one of the private AV library rooms at Ashford.
40Enoch was standing over a couch within the room trying to rouse someone. The “old” man turned to face her and smiled. “He’s coming ‘round now.”
40“Who?” Nunnally said as she walked over to see who lay upon the couch in front of Enoch. Her eyes grew wide with relief as soon as she recognized him.
40“Suzaku!”

Kodai Okuda
09-22-2010, 03:56 AM
Turn Fifteen: The Goddess of Battle

40"No one, in good conscience, should ever accuse Cornelia li Britannia of being cold or corrupt; in fact, she was probably one of the least understood members of the Royal Britannian Family. Princess Cornelia never really intended to usurp or overthrow Nunnally, but the Royal Britannian houses were loath to allow Cornelia to step down once she had taken the throne. It was only her pure and unconquerable will that gave her the strength to resist the vile whisperings of the Britannian nobles that beckoned her to seize the crown for herself forever. In many ways, the world owes Cornelia a debt of gratitude, because without her efforts to rout the corrupt movers and shakers out of this world, it would still be under their power today.” —Excerpt from an interview with Colonel Guilford by Milly Ashford for the Japan Broadcasting Station, dated March 12th, 2026 a.t.b.

40"Keep firing!" Cornelia boomed as she stood up from her command chair on the bridge of the Avenger. The EU airships in the distance were moving away from the Eifel Tower in order to avoid damaging the French relic.
40"Princess, our forward KnightMare units have overrun the Parisian defenses," Guilford said triumphantly as another of the EU airships exploded in midair. "President Gerard LeBlanc wishes to discuss terms of surrender."
40"Which ship is his?" Cornelia asked Guilford with a scowl.
40"The Longres class just to the north of the Eifel Tower," he told her.
40"Target that ship and give him our answer, Guilford," she commanded in an icy tone.
40"Yes, milady." Guilford turned to the gunner and nodded.
40A full barrage of cannon fire from the Avenger cut through LeBlanc's ship with pinpoint accuracy and blew the French president's aerial warship to smithereens.
40"Direct hit!" Guilford blurted out.
40"Excellent work." Cornelia smiled as the last of the French aerial defense fleet succumbed to her armada of warships. "First England, then Spain, and now France; soon all of Europe will be purged of these impudent weaklings, and we will bring peace to this continent."
40"Princess Cornelia, Lord Byron of our 115th Mechanized Unit would like your permission to liquidate the remaining forces," Guilford said.
40"No..." Cornelia said softly. "Disarm them, and give them three hot meals and a cot while in our care. Inform Byron to spread the word that any European commoners who wish to surrender to us may do so, and they will be unharmed. We have no ill will towards the population here, only their actual leadership. Tell Lord Byron that this is my command, and that there will be severe consequences to any within our forces who disobey my orders." She turned to her Knight. "Is that understood, Guilford?"
40Guilford was shocked at her generosity to the enemy prisoners but did not question her. "Yes, milady, it is."
40Cornelia saw the uncertainty in his eyes. "I'm not going to repeat the mistakes of my father and brothers, Guilford. I don't want to be seen as anything other than a liberator. I'm here to win the hearts and minds of these people, not terrorize them into submission like some totalitarian tyrant...I've been down that road before. Peace isn't going to be won at the end of a gun or the lash of a political whip. It's time we learned that war is a result of tyrannical governments not people, and that those of us in charge of government must learn to give power back to those who do not have it. Our exile in South America taught me that there is nothing more precious in this life than being master of your own destiny. That is what I want to bring to the world, Guilford. I want to conquer it to give it back to the common people...I want to free it."
40Guilford only smiled in response.


* * *

40"What happened to C2?" Suzaku barked at Enoch.
40"Well...I...uh...I don't know just yet," Enoch stuttered.
40"Are we really at Ashford?" Nunnally was still in awe of how they got from Enoch's castle to the library of her former school by simply walking through a doorway.
40"Yes," Enoch told her for the umpteenth time as he checked the back of Suzaku’s head, "we're really at Ashford."
40"We need to go find out if C2 is okay, Enoch...or whoever you are!" Suzaku snapped at him and sat up. "I owe her a debt...and I can't just abandon her."
40"Okay, okay!" Enoch put up his hands. "We'll go hunt down the Green Goddess of Gorgeous just as soon as I make sure you’re alright!"
40The Red Dragon snickered, "You better not let Isadora hear you say that."
40"Ah...heh," Enoch sniggered as he put his hand on the back of Suzaku’s head. "Yah...she'd kill me."
40"I'm fine!" Suzaku bellowed recoiling from Enoch’s hand.
40"Shhhh," Nunnally scolded him. "We don't want anyone to hear us, and if you yell like that, Suzaku, we'll be discovered."
40"The empress is right," Enoch told Suzaku. "We need to get to the old Britannian Special Intelligence’s secret underground facilities through the library passage as quickly as we can."
40"How do you know about those?" Suzaku inquired.
40"Best not to ask," Enoch tittered as he helped Suzaku to his feet.
40"Ouch!" Suzaku put his hand on a sore spot at the back of his neck.
40Enoch put his arm around Kururugi to help him walk. "Let me help you. You suffered a minor concussion. Considering you were at ground zero of a FLEIJA detonation, I'd say you're lucky to still be in one piece."
40"I'm alright." Suzaku tried to remove Enoch's arm but couldn't budge it.
40Enoch removed his arm slowly to see if Kururugi could support himself and walk. "You sure you're okay?"
40"I told you I'm fine," he grumbled.
40"Very well then, we should get to the underground facilities immediately." Enoch led the way with the others right behind him.
40They wove through the tall bookshelves towards the staircase that led to the bank of bookshelves that contained the concealed elevator door.
40"Can you believe Kyoto was completely destroyed?" a young girl's voice echoed a few aisles away from Enoch and his troop.
40"I'm so glad everybody got out okay," her female companion replied with a sigh of relief. "The casualties would have been massive if the Black Knights hadn't stopped Schneizel."
40"WHAT!" Suzaku blurted out in surprise upon discovering that the first FLIEJA he had fired at Charybdis, which the metal beast then redirected, did not kill the millions he thought it had.
40The Red Dragon grabbed him and put her hand over his mouth. "Please, Suzaku," she whispered to him at too low a frequency for her voice modulator to compensate.
40His eyes grew wide as her soft voice penetrated his ears and sank into psyche, but he didn't dare say anything.
40"Did you hear something?" the first female student asked her friend.
40"Yah," the other girl said in a nervous tone.
40"Is anybody in here?" the first girl asked in a loud voice.
40Enoch peeked around the bookshelf at the opposite end of the row and motioned for the others to move towards the stair.
40The Red Dragon led the way as Nunnally and Suzaku followed. Enoch watched them make their way towards the lower level. As soon as their attention was turned away from him, he outstretched his right hand towards a bookshelf he could see on the far end of the library and made a grasping motion; a row of books fell from the shelf.
40"WHO'S OVER THERE?" the first girl yelled.
40"You'd better have a hall pass!" the other girl said as they ran over to the fallen books in the opposite direction of Enoch and his companions.
40The pair of students came upon the pile of books that Enoch had "pulled" off the shelf as he and his companions entered the elevator.
40"That was close," Nunnally said as soon as the doors closed.
40"Yes, it was," the Red Dragon agreed. "Are you alright, Suzaku?" she asked noticing his distraught expression.
40Suzaku was shaking slightly as his mind contemplated the revelation of what the Red Dragon's real voice meant.
40“Hey.” Enoch put his hand on Kururugi’s shoulder. “You’re not having a seizure on me, are you?”
40Suzaku looked up at him and shook his head slowly. “No…I…it’s nothing, just a mild relapse of my concussion; it’ll pass quickly," he lied.
40Enoch gave him a knowing smile. “I know; relapses can have heartrending results.” Enoch slapped his hands together and rubbed them. “Speaking of passing quickly…we need to get you two to Britannia as fast as we can.”
40“Why don’t we go back to Kaminejima and use the Thought Elevator to transport ourselves to Neo-Pendragon like we had planned?” Nunnally asked Enoch.
40“That’s an excellent idea, Nunnally,” Enoch smiled.
40“If it’s such an excellent idea, then why are we going to the sublevels of Ashford?” the Red Dragon asked in a dull tone.
40Enoch gave her a boyish grin. “We need to pick up a few things first.”
40“What things?” Nunnally asked as the elevator doors opened up into the underground chambers.
40Memories of Rolo and Villetta keeping a watchful eye on Zero flooded through Suzaku’s head as he looked over at the door that led to the surveillance room he once used to monitor Lelouch Lamperouge. His attention turned to the Red Dragon. If she’s who I think she is…then all of that was for nothing. The hatred that drove me to betray my best friend and force him to live a lie under the spell of his father just to try and satisfy my anger over him having murdered her would have been all wrong. If she had been alive that whole time…that would make me a monster.
40He remembered what he had asked Lelouch while he had his head under his heel at the Kururugi Shrine: Can you bring Euphie back?
40Anger burned in Suzaku; he hated himself at that moment. What an idiot I’ve been. How could I have held onto such hatred when I knew that Lelouch had lied to me about her death? I knew he must have killed her by accident. Euphemia would have forgiven Lelouch if he had accidentally killed me. Why didn’t I do the same?
40“Earth calling Suzaku.” Enoch was staring at him from the far end of the hall they had walked out into.
40“Huh? Oh, sorry…what were you saying?” Suzaku snapped out of his private thoughts and sprinted up to where they were patiently waiting for him. Kururugi stopped at the large double doors that his companions stood before.
40Enoch put his hand over a touchpad on the wall. “I was saying that what we’ve come here for is behind these doors.”
40“When was this added?” Suzaku asked upon seeing the unfamiliar egress open into a vast chamber underneath Ashford.
40“I put it here when I attended Ashford,” Enoch snickered.
40“How could an old man like you attend Ashford?” Suzaku asked the gray-haired bearded man in disbelief.
40Enoch pulled at his beard and flipped off the skintight mask he wore with a single fluid motion. Beneath the façade was the face of a twenty-five-year-old man with amber eyes and dark black hair. His complexion shone a faint gold in the overhead fluorescent lights of the large chamber they entered.
40“Who the hell are you?” Suzaku inquired in an awestruck tone.
40Enoch gave him a devilish grin. “No one of consequence.”


* * *

40“Are you sure this is a good idea, Lelouch?” C.C. asked him as he picked up the mask of Zero from within his former coffin.
40“If Medusa is correct, then Suzaku is dead, and from what you’ve told me, Tohdoh and the others knew that Suzaku was Zero. That circumstance is of great advantage to me.” He put on the mask. “No one will suspect who I really am.”
40“Sure…” She frowned sarcastically and folded her arms. “They’re all so stupid that as soon as you start using that strategic mind of yours they’re just going to assume that Suzaku was a closet genius or maybe he took some crash correspondence courses in military warfare. Not to mention your voice.”
40“Ha, ha,” he said in a dry sarcastic tone. Lelouch used his Zero voice, “How do I sound?”
40C.C. gave him a narrow-eyed look. “Like Zero…Lelouch’s Zero.”
40“You’re not helping,” he mumbled.
40“I told you I think this is a bad idea, Lelouch,” C.C. pouted. “Why do you need to do this?”
40“Because I’m responsible for letting Schneizel live and thus causing this whole mess,” he said firmly. “Now it’s my burden to correct that mistake.”
40C.C. was not so easily swayed. “Someone else could have just as easily stumbled upon the Olympians and released them. How is it your fault that they were awakened?”
40“It’s not,” he told her firmly. “But the fact that Schneizel, who knew the inner workings of both Britannia and the Black Knights, was still alive to find them is my fault. These Greeks have the advantage over the UFN because of me! The world I created came to an end because of my arrogant assumption that nothing would derail what I set in place. I gambled with fate and fate won.”
40He had successfully countered her objection. “So, you think that it was Schneizel’s destiny to find them and for you to spare him, is that it?”
40“The events of the world aren’t predestined to happen, nor are they the random result of man’s choices in life.” Lelouch started down the stairs of the dais. “It is a combination of both forces intermixed. Like two poles of an electrical motor. The chaotic pole is eternally at odds with the ordered pole thus causing motion in the world. There are ebbs and flows to the currents of chaos and order, what we perceive as good and evil. It’s just a matter of seizing upon the right moment in order to make a change, but that change cannot be at odds with the order of the world or else it is rejected and crumbles into chaos. That’s what was wrong with my world. It was a world created by hate in order to bring about peace instead of a world created by love in order to wage war with honor. Peace isn’t something that men were meant to live in for long periods of time. We’re creatures of action not stagnant rocks upon the ground. We are like the whole of the living universe around us and thus violent by nature. I failed to see the value of diversity and hardship before, but now I see that lasting peace, even for a short time, brings with it evils of its own.”
40“Does that mean you’re not going to sue for peace this time?” C.C. was concerned about where he was going with this new revelation.
40“Not after what Medusa told me.” He stopped and turned. The mask of Zero looked at her. “This time the Demon is going to act like an angel and become the sword of God.”
40“I had a feeling you would saying something like that.” C.C. came up next to him and took hold of his arm. “Very well,” she sighed. “Once more unto the breech, my love.”
40He caressed her chin. “I don’t deserve you.”
40“I know,” she snickered as they made their way towards the entrance of the tomb.
40Medusa met them at the egress with a distraught look.
40“What is it, Medusa?” Zero asked.
40“We have visitors,” she replied as the Red Dragon walked up behind her.


* * *

40“How soon will you be ready to return?” Sthenno asked the image of Medea on the viewscreen in front of her.
40“We shall have completed loading the Ithaca with Golden Apple within the hour,” Medea told her with a grin.
40“Good.” Sthenno’s expression remained stone. “We need to consolidate our forces quickly. The UFN has already begun its counteroffensive, and our forces are too depleted to maintain control of Asia or Australia for much longer.” She wondered where Schneizel could be. “We must assume that our enemy now knows of our plans and is moving to thwart us even as we speak.”
40“What of our Cyclops forces? They could help us maintain control of our current territories,” Medea suggested, knowing that the Cyclops Automatos were among the most powerful weapons within the Tartarian arsenal.
40“They will remain here for now,” Sthenno smiled wickedly. “I suspect that when the UFN makes its move on us we’ll need them.”
40Medea laughed, “You’re leading them into a trap.”
40“I never actually trusted my champion, Prince Schneizel. I knew that there was the strong possibility that he’d betray me the first chance that he got.” She raised a brow. “I gave him that opportunity by sending him to South America on his own. I used the planetary surveyor system of Tartarus to find his location.”
40“Oh?” Medea snickered. “So, where is your champion now?”
40“His ship is hovering over a small island in the South Pacific Ocean. I can only assume it is some secret base of his.” Sthenno seemed irritated. “Fortunately, I’ve placed spies among his crew who’ve kept me informed of his plot.”
40Medea saw that Sthenno was hiding something. “I understand your annoyance at this champion betraying you, milady, but you seem far more troubled than the situation merits.”
40“I am,” Sthenno told her somberly. “My sister, Medusa, has succumbed to the power of another sorcerer.”
40“WHAT?” Medea was shocked. “How can you be certain?”
40“I spoke to her yesterday about her so-called success in Japan, but something about her demeanor bothered me. She was strained in her speech and unlike her normal self. Therefore, I used the planetary surveyor to scan the Japan region.”
40“And?” Medea was anxious to hear what troubled her superior so.
40“The Argos is there above the remains of the Japanese city of Kyoto. Jason’s men are bound to him by honor, friendship, and a loyalty that is not easily matched even by the bonds of love.” Sthenno sighed in frustration. “They would have sacrificed themselves rather than see their captain killed. Since the Argos lives, Jason in turn must be alive, and my sister Medusa must have succumbed to the power of another for she would never lie to me of her own accord.”
40“I see,” Medea said with a sinister smile. “Shall I take care of Jason and retrieve your dear sister?”
40“No,” Sthenno answered with a distraught look in her eyes. “With the Golden Apple you have acquired, it is now possible for us to power up Tartarus and use it.”
40“But I thought we still needed the Golden Apple from Japan?” Medea was confused.
40“No,” Sthenno stated with a glint in her eyes. “That was a lie I told to ensure that we’d acquire the element from Africa, as that store was much less than the mines of Mount Fuji but more than sufficient for our needs. In reality, we’ve enough with the shipment you’re bringing to have Tartarus brought up to full power and restore all of its systems.” Her eyes narrowed as her grin widened. “Including the Apollyon.”


* * *

40“Wow!” Lloyd exclaimed in awe of the large Greek Kolossos-Automatos Gorgon as his team lifted it up towards the Avalon. He and Cecile stood at the spot where the machine had run out of power on Kamine Island.
40“It’s quite a machine, isn’t it?” Cecile remarked to Professor Asplund as they watched the large mecha get loaded into the lower hangar bay.
40“Yes, it is.” Lloyd put his hands on his hips. “It’s a pity we have to share this technological marvel with Rakshata.”
40“Don’t you mean the UFN?” Cecile tittered.
40Lloyd adjusted his glasses. “No, I mean Rakshata.”
40Major Croomy giggled, “Oh, I suppose to you that’s much worse.”
40“OF COURSE IT IS!” Lloyd bellowed. “The woman’s acting like I’M HER ASSISTANT in all of this. As if she knows more about KnightMare Frame mechanisms than I do! Ohhhhhh, the audacity of that woman!”
40Cecile thought back to the ejected pilot’s compartment they had found here on Kaminejima. “What do you think happened to the pilot of the Lancelot of the Lake, Lloyd?”
40Lloyd threw his arms up in the air. “Oh, Ms. Croomy! Is that all you can think about at a time like this? My whole life is being ruined by that awful woman, and all you can rattle on about is the fate of a pilot who was obviously well enough to open the hatch and walk out of the cockpit. He’s probably at a sushi bar with geishas on each side of him in Neo-Tokyo living it up right now while I’m here positively dying of humiliation at the hands of that Indian tigress!”
40“You think he’s okay?” Cecile inquired again.
40“YES!” Lloyd said. “Why do you want to know if this pilot is okay so badly?”
40Cecile held up the key to the Lancelot of the Lake; on its ring was the white-winged pin that Euphemia had given Suzaku as a symbol of his being her personal Knight.
40Lloyd took the pin from Cecile and examined it closely. He sighed, “It’s his alright.”
40“I thought he was dead, Lloyd.” Cecile sounded hurt. She had been very fond of Suzaku…maybe even in love with him, though even she wasn’t sure of her feelings for the former Britannian Devicer.
40“Perhaps he gave it to someone else…” Lloyd started to say.
40Cecile’s eyes narrowed. “Lloyd,” she grouched.
40Lloyd stuttered defensively, “Yes…well, I suppose he’d never part with it…it being Euphemia’s gift to him and all.”
40“Exactly.” Cecile took the pin back from Professor Asplund and twirled it slowly. “Which means he’s alive out there someplace.”
40“That’s odd,” Lloyd stated absentmindedly as a line of metallic dots came into view in the distance over the ocean.
40“What’s odd, Lloyd?” Cecile asked him before she also noticed the specks of reflected light on the horizon.
40“Professor Asplund,” a male voice called frantically over the radio Lloyd had on his utility belt.
40“Mmm…yes?” Lloyd asked nonchalantly.
40“We’re under attack!” the man shouted. “It’s the Britannian air force!”
40“Oh…well, is the enemy KnightMare secure?” Lloyd inquired.
40“WHAT?” the man asked.
40Cecile grabbed the radio from Lloyd. “Don’t mind him, Lieutenant; just have Kallen and her Black Knights launch immediately and get someone down here to pick us up.”
40“Yes, Major,” the lieutenant replied obediently and cut off the channel.
40“What should we do?” Lloyd asked Cecile with a worried look as the dots became a discernable fleet of warships. “I haven’t the foggiest idea how fast those vessels are, but I doubt we have much time.”
40“You don’t,” a male voice said from behind them.
40Lloyd and Cecile were stunned upon seeing C.C., Nunnally, and Zero standing before them.


* * *

40“Kallen, we’ve got six bogeys incoming at three-o’clock!” Gino said as the Yamato no Orochi moved in to intercept any KnightMare Frames that attempted to assault the Avalon.
40“They look like Vincent Wards,” Tamaki blurted out as he fired a salvo of energy discs at the leader of the Britannian machines.
40The baby-blue Vincent with pink highlights spun out of the way of Tamaki’s volley easily and unloaded a hail of autocannon rounds at him from the four-barrel gunpod of the machine.
40“That’s not a typical Vincent!” Anya said as she dodged a salvo of missiles from another of the modified Vincent Wards.
40“It must be a new model because they’re flying without any wings or visible propulsion units!” Kallen said as the six enemy machines closed into melee range. Kozuki transformed her Type-21S into KnightMare mode and had her machine unsheathe its pair of Blade-Luminous katanas. The blades glowed with an eerie green energy as she swerved in to engage the lead Vincent.
40The baby-blue KnightMare drew an elegant rapier blade from the scabbard at its side. The thin blade glowed with a red-black light.
40“If you surrender Gino to me now, I’ll spare your life,” Evita Ernst said over the com.
40“Evita?” Gino blurted out in surprise as he parried the red-black glowing blade of another of the Vincent Wards.
40“GINO!” the duchess exclaimed. “I’ve come to rescue you, my love.”
40“He doesn’t need rescuing, you idiot.” Kallen locked swords with Evita’s baby-blue KnightMare.
40“You dare to challenge my KMF Victoria?” Evita scoffed as her machine easily blocked the swings from each of Kallen’s katanas. “Fool! You shall taste the bite of my Hadron Saber!”
40“Kallen, be careful,” Gino warned. “Even as a young child, Evita Ernst was a gifted Devicer; she’s as good if not better than Suzaku was.”
40“Oh, that’s just great,” Kallen grumbled as Evita’s KnightMare twisted to one side and brought its rapier up under the left arm of her Type-21S. Kallen lifted her machine’s arm just in time to save it from the Hadron Saber of the KMF Victoria.
40“Perfect!” Evita laughed as her Victoria did a high kick that knocked one of the Blade-Luminous katanas from the left hand of Kallen’s Shogun. The duchess whipped her machine around and thrust its rapier at the belly of the Type-21S.
40“OH, NO YOU DON’T!” Kallen fired a burst from the pair of shoulder Hadrons of her Shogun.
40“Pathetic,” Evita scoffed using the large Blaze Luminous shield on her machine’s right arm to deflect the volley of Hadron blasts. The KMF Victoria reached over to its left hip with its right arm and grabbed a discus which opened up revealing an MVS blade along its rim. The Victoria let the disc fly at Kallen’s mecha.
40Kallen activated the ultimate-invulnerability field of her KnightMare. “Isn’t that cheating?”
40“Not when you’re firing Hadrons at me,” Evita sniggered. “You can’t keep that shield up for long. It draws an enormous amount of power from your energy fillers, and when it goes down…you go down!”
40Kallen looked around to assess how her teammates were doing while she tried to formulate a plan to save her own behind. Tamaki’s Bushido had lost an arm, but he managed to take down one of the Victorias. Now he was fighting a second machine and doing his best to parry and block the discus that the KMF had shot at him. Anya was holding her own against two machines simultaneously by shooting the discuses of the two KMFs with the energy discs from her gunpod. However, her Samurai had bullet holes and slash marks all over it, and she hadn’t done much damage to the two KnightMares she was fighting. Gino wasn’t fairing much better than Anya.
40Kozuki watched as the MVS discus continued to strike her shield and the energy filler meter on her console continued to drop. Damn it! I can’t lower my shield or transform. If I do that, her disc will cut me to ribbons, or Evita will shoot me down with her machine’s gunpod. What do I do?
40“Q-1,” a male voice called over the radio.
40Kallen looked at the grilled radio speaker as if a cobra had just leapt from it. “Oh, my GOD!”
40“Not quite, but thanks for the vote of confidence,” Zero replied. “Q-1, I need you to listen to me carefully and pull back from that KnightMare Frame. Understood?”
40Am I hearing things? It sounds like…no, it can’t be. It must be Suzaku. “I hear you, Zero; go ahead,” Kallen responded thinking how amazing it was that the voice modulator of the Zero helmet made Suzaku sound like the real Zero.
40“Professor Asplund has informed me that you’re fighting a new version of the Lancelot Club. It was an experimental model of the Z-01 built during Viceroy Cornelia’s reign over Japan. This machine is known as the Z-02 Victoria and is an eleventh-generation KnightMare Frame unit that was only in its prototype phases when Professor Asplund left.”
40“Get to the damn point, Zero!” Kallen snapped at him in irritation as her energy filler meter dropped another notch. “I don’t have time for a technical readout!”
40“Just like at Narita, you are as impatient as ever, Kallen,” Zero retorted with a snicker.
40Narita? How would Suzaku know I was even at Narita? Kallen’s thoughts distracted her momentarily before Zero’s words broke through.
40“The point is you can’t win against this KMF at close range. It was designed for urban assault and pacification not aerial dogfighting. It uses four null-gravity impellers. Knocking those out is your best bet in defeating this opponent. They are the dome-shaped structures on the KMF. There is one impeller behind each calf of the machine and one on each side of the Devicer cockpit. Knock out any two of them, and the machine will lose its maneuverability and thereby allow you to take it out easily.”
40“That’s great, Zero, but what the hell am I supposed to do about this discus that’s assaulting me?” Kallen grouched at him.
40He sighed slightly as if the answer should have been obvious to her. “Move out beyond fifty meters from the Victoria, and you’ll be outside the electromagnetic tether wire that holds the MVS disc to the KMF. Think of it as an invisible slash harken cable; you should be able to see the electromagnetic line on your EMS sensors.”
40Kallen turned to see the blue line whipping along her active EMS scope. “Yah, I see the damn EM line.” Geez, I wonder if Lelouch schooled Suzaku in being a jerk? He’s just as smug and annoying as Lelouch was...unless? She drove out the thoughts that were trying to invade her mind. “Alright, Zero, I’m past the fifty-meter mark,” she told him as she flew her KnightMare out of range of the discus.
40Evita tried to keep pace with Kallen. “Running away so soon?” the duchess taunted Kallen as her Victoria fell behind the Shogun.
40“What, you can’t keep up?” Kallen shot back. “Too bad!” Kozuki unloaded a barrage of energy discs from the gunpod of her Type-21 aiming at the pair of domes that flanked the pilot’s compartment on either side.
40Evita deflected the discs with the Blaze Luminous shield of her KMF and simultaneously fired a hail of autocannon rounds at the left graviton-impeller of Kallen’s Shogun. The graviton-impeller pod was riddled with sakuradite-tipped shells causing the nacelle to erupt in a burst of electrical bolts that blew off its armored cover.
40“DAMN IT!” Kallen cursed as her speed was halved by the loss of one of her engines.
40“That’s better,” the duchess chortled as her Victoria caught up to the Type-21S. “Now you’re mine,” Evita snickered as she let the discus of her KnightMare fly at the Shogun.
40Kallen barely had time to react and used the forearm MVS harken of her KMF to deflect the MVS Disc. “I’m not defeated so easily, you little bitch!”
40“Such insolence,” Evita scolded her as the discus of the Victoria flipped under the MVS harken and cut through its cable, sending the large triangular harken tumbling to the island below. Evita followed up with a burst of autocannon rounds that tore through the sensor head of Kallen’s Shogun. Her Victoria unsheathed its Hadron Saber and closed into melee range with the Type-21S easily.
40“Kallen, use the radiant-heat wave of your gunpod!” Zero called out to her over the radio. Kozuki didn’t spare a moment; she twisted her machine so that her KMF’s left shoulder Hadron deflector met the blade of Evita’s Hadron Saber while she shoved the tip of her radiant-heat wave gunpod into the null-gravity dome on the right side of the pilot compartment of the Victoria. The dome melted under the intense heat of the wave and exploded.
40Evita’s Hadron Saber cut through the deflector of the Shogun and chopped off the left arm of Kallen’s machine. “Not bad, Captain Kozuki, but not good enough!” The duchess laughed as she used the momentum of the exploding null-gravity dome to spin her Victoria around and bring her Hadron Saber up to cut the other arm of Kallen’s Shogun completely off in one fluid motion.
40“KALLEN, GET OUT OF THERE!” Zero yelled at her over the radio as Evita used the MVS discus of her machine to chop off the legs of the Shogun.
40The duchess giggled like a fiend drunk on power. “All too easy!” Evita brought down her Hadron Saber to cleave the Type-21S in two.
40A brilliant red blade of pure energy blocked her weapon.
40“WHAT! WHO DARES!” Evita pulled the Victoria back to see a machine that was larger than a KnightMare Frame, and certainly of no KMF design she had ever seen before, hovering via its green energy wings above her.
40“I am the Knight of Zero!” Suzaku answered Evita.
40“Knight of Zero…” the duchess said astounded. “That’s impossible!”
40The battlerobot Suzaku flew was a deep violet in color with gold highlights. It had a human-shaped faceplate with no nose or mouth, only a pair of radiant blue eyes and a crown-like helmet structure that comprised its head. Broad shoulders held a peculiar housing at each front, one of which held a handle within it like some sort of knife sheath. The arms where plain, save for unusual symbols on the forearms near the wrists of the machine. The legs were long and slender with an armored skirt around the waist. The back of the mecha had only a small backpack-like structure with a pair of appendages from which the green energy wings emanated.
40“Su...za…ku?” Kallen asked in awe of both the machine he flew and the implications of him using the old title of Knight of Zero. She snapped out of her initial shock. “Wait a damn minute! If you’re in that KMF, then who the hell is giving me orders as Zero?”
40“That’s not important right now,” the Red Dragon said as she flew up in a similar battlerobot to the one Suzaku now piloted; its form was more feminine and its color scheme was mauve with pink highlights.
40“Oh, how cute,” Evita said in a sarcastic tone. “You have matching KnightMares.” The duchess moved her Victoria in to attack Suzaku.
40Nunnally’s image came up on Evita’s screen in front of her. “Duchess Evita Ernst, as empress of Britannia, I order you to stop this attack at once!”
40Nunnally glared at the young girl with an intensity that shook Evita’s resolve. “As you wish, Empress.” The duchess stopped her advance. “Please accept my sincere apology; I had no idea you were on the Avalon.”
40“I’ll accept your apology in person when you land on the Avalon.” Nunnally knew that having Evita in their company would deter any further violence.
40“As you wish, Empress,” the duchess stated again obediently.
40Suzaku and the Red Dragon joined the remnant of the Yamato no Orochi as they escorted the Victoria and its escort of four remaining KMFs to the Avalon.


* * *

40Kallen jumped out of the cockpit of her badly damaged Type-21S and briskly made her way towards the elevator lift. I’m going to get to the bottom of this right now! she thought to herself as she rode the elevator down to the bridge of the Avalon.
40The doors opened to reveal Lloyd Asplund and Cecile Croomy speaking with Zero and Nunnally.
40Kozuki stormed onto the command deck and interrupted them. “Hey, would someone kindly tell me what is going on here?”
40“Oh, hi, Kallen,” C.C. said as she came out of an adjacent elevator with an open box of pizza, a half-eaten slice already in her left hand.
40“PIZZA GIRL!” Kallen’s brow furrowed in anger as she put her hands on her hips and barked at Zero, “What the HELL is going on here!”
40“Is this how you normally address your superiors?” Zero asked her.
40Superior? Kallen’s fury boiled over. She looked directly into Zero’s visor. “Could I please talk to you in private for a minute?” Kozuki grabbed Zero’s arm and dragged him to one of the small strategy rooms at the rear of the bridge and shut the door behind them.
40“That was rather rude of you, Captain Kozuki,” Zero said as Kallen spun around to face him.
40“TAKE IT OFF!” she commanded him.
40Zero put up his hands defensively. “Pardon me?”
40Her eyes welled up in frustration. “Stop with the asinine voice, and TAKE THAT DAMN MASK OFF, LELOUCH!”
40“I think you’ve made a mis…” Zero started to say.
40Kallen pulled out her sidearm and pointed it at him. “Lelouch, take that stupid mask off right now, or else I’ll blow it off your thick skull!”
40“Well, there’s no need to get violent about this,” Zero told her nonchalantly. “If you must see my face, then so be it.” Zero reached up behind his head and unfastened his helmet.
40“I can’t believe that you thought you could live it up with that green-haired skank while I believed you were dead all these years.”
40Kallen looked at the floor and ceiling as she started pacing the room in anger. “I heard all the rumors about people sighting a cart driver that looked like you with that immortal tramp someplace in Australia, but OH, NO, I chose not to believe them. I heard the theories about you taking Charles’ immortality, or Pizza girl’s, and I just brushed it all off as conspiracy theories. BOY, was I WRONG!”
40Tears started to trickle down her cheeks. “How could you do this to me? After everything we went through together…after I…I kissed you and told you how I felt about you.”
40“Ahem,” Zero interrupted her rant.
40Kallen stopped and turned to chew Lelouch out. A pair of amber eyes stared at her innocently from under a mop of raven-black hair.
40“Huh?...Who the heck are you?” Kallen asked meekly.
40He gave her a fragile smile. “Enoch.”

Kodai Okuda
09-24-2010, 01:56 AM
Turn Sixteen: Reflections

40“The sea; how I love to watch the light of morning shimmer off of its waves and form a myriad of different shapes and shadows. Each playing in a dance of light and darkness filtered through the water like the lives of so many of us who shine and darken with the movement of the sea of time. I was sure it was him that day over Kaminejima, so sure that I couldn’t let it go, and yet in my haste, I never thought to reflect upon the light that shimmered right beside me through the whole of that affair. I loved Lelouch, there is no doubt of that, but had I simply left that love behind me, buried with him, and accepted the love of another willingly instead of being so stubborn, then perhaps I could have found solace in the arms of another and saved myself the pain that was to come. As I reflect on this, I don’t regret the love I once had for Lelouch nor the love I lost after he was gone.” —Excerpt from the diary of Captain Kallen Kozuki, dated March 12th, 2025 a.t.b.

40“I demand his hand in marriage!” Evita stated defiantly to Nunnally as they sat with Kaguya Sumeragi and Jiang Lihua at a conference table on the Ikaruga. The rays of the mid-morning sun shone brightly through the large viewport to the left of them. A pot of hot tea was in the center of the table flanked on each side by scones and cookies.
40“His hand is not mine to give,” the empress countered. “Besides, he’s now a member of the Black Knights and one of its elite fighting units, the Yamato no Orochi. I don’t have any authority over him, Duchess Ernst.”
40“Then you will have to take authority over him, Empress!” Evita had been squabbling with Nunnally for three days since Evita and her aerial fleet had come to Japan. Nunnally had requested the aid of her two friends, UFN Lady-Chairman Kaguya Sumeragi, and Empress Jiang Lihua, to assist her in the negotiations with Duchess Evita Ernst as it concerned a member of the UFN Black Knights.
40"We cannot afford to relinquish one of our most trusted and valued pilots into your hands for the purpose of a political marriage, Duchess." Kaguya eyed Evita with a scowl.
40Evita stared Kaguya down. "What you cannot afford, Lady-Chairman, is to prolong this conflict for much longer," the duchess smirked. "While I certainly will not go against the will of Empress Nunnally...she is not currently in command of our forces. Her older sister, acting Regent Princess Cornelia li Britannia, is now in control of our military might by the will of the royal houses of the empire."
40"How is that possible?" Jiang Lihua inquired of the duchess. "Didn't the 99th emperor do away with the feudal system in Britannia?"
40"Indeed he did," Zero stated as he walked into the room uninvited. "But it would seem that he didn't do enough." He walked over to the table at which the four women sat.
40Nunnally's eyes grew wide as she realized this man was not Enoch, nor Suzaku. "And what do you propose we do about it, Zero?" She didn't like the familiar feeling she got when he spoke. Nunnally had felt the same way when C.C. and Enoch left with him into the ruins on Kaminejima three days before. C.C. had explained that this man's identity needed to remain a secret if Suzaku were to be free of being Zero, and if the empress of Britannia wanted to have any hope of stopping Schneizel. Nunnally had her suspicious about this Zero, but she kept them to herself.
40"What is the meaning of this?" Kaguya stood up, clearly shocked at the presence of Zero. "How could you still be alive? I saw the Lancelot of the Lake get consumed by the FLEIJA that destroyed Kobe."
40"How is not important," Zero cut her off. "What is important is that Cornelia is purging the corrupt leaders of Europe and abroad, and that will aide us in our endeavor provided she can control her subordinates."
40"What?" Lihua exclaimed in disgust, unsure of exactly who was behind the mask. "How can you say that?"
40"Easily, it's the truth." He waved his hand in a grandiose gesture unlike the melancholy Kururugi. His mannerism did not go unnoticed by Kaguya.
40"The truth?" Sumeragi regarded him with a skeptical eye and chose to test a theory that reverberated through her mind no matter how unlikely or insane she thought it to be. "Somehow I find it hard to believe that you've ever put value in the truth."
40"Oh?" Zero tittered mischievously. "I put value into truths that have value."
40Sumeragi grinned. "That's the kind of circular answer I’d expect from you." Unlike Nunnally, Kaguya couldn't be sure if this Zero was Suzaku or not. If it was him, then Kururugi was pretending to be dead and thus trying to regain his anonymity. If it wasn't him, then the repercussions of who this Zero could in fact be were dizzying to the lady-chairman.
40"What about my Gino?" The duchess was growing impatient.
40"You can't have him," Zero stated bluntly. "I need him where he is."
40"You?" Evita was mortified by how Zero addressed her like she was a mere child. "Why would you need Gino?"
40"He provides a level of stability within the Yamato no Orochi that I require for the plan I'm formulating against Schneizel." Zero's mask looked down directly at Evita. "Schneizel will not be defeated by a grand army or large military force. It will require a crack team of elite fighters to deal with him this time."
40“Why should I help you defeat a hero like Schneizel?” Evita grumbled.
40Zero cackled, “Your hero would turn on you the first chance he got, Duchess. You gravely underestimate Schneizel’s intentions, Evita. If you value your life, then you’ll help me.”
40“How would you know what his intentions are?” the duchess scoffed.
40Zero bent down close to her face; she recoiled from him as he did so. “Because it’s my business to know,” he told her arrogantly
40"Enough of this!” Nunnally barked at them both. “Evita, you are to leave for the Avalon at once and await my return there.”
40The duchess flipped her head and humphed as she stood up and left the conference room.
40Nunnally turned towards Zero. “Do you know where Schneizel is?"
40The mask of Zero turned to face her. "Not exactly, but I've got a pretty good idea of the possible places he could be, and they're few in number."
40"And do you expect to just take one of our elite units under your wing to go after Schneizel without so much as consulting with the UFN?" Kaguya scoffed.
40Zero extended his hand out to her. "I'm consulting you now even though you must realize that to refuse me is futile. Surely, Lady Kaguya, you know there is no chance for you to counter an assault by Schneizel with your fleet spread out over the South Pacific. While I admit that it is imperative that we find whichever island Schneizel is using as a base of operations, it is foolish for the UFN to use nearly a third of its forces to do so."
40He's treating this like a game of chess, Sumeragi thought to herself while she watched with keen interest the movements and gestures of Zero as he continued illustrating his grandiose plan for dealing with Schneizel.
40"The fundamental problems with this situation rest within the slow and clumsy response of the UFN council and its member nations," Zero went on. "The lack of Schneizel's presence over the last week indicates that the destruction of the machine known as Charybdis must have been a far greater blow then we first surmised. This machine must have been responsible for the destruction of the UFN fleet at Kerguelen Island and the beast that plagued the ocean and aerial vessels throughout the Asian Pacific region during this conflict. Its destruction means more than just freedom of movement for the UFN; it means that a major piece in Schneizel's plan has been taken by us. Thus, the attack on Australia by Tohdoh is foolish and plays directly into Schneizel’s strategy. He doesn’t expect us to try and consolidate our forces for an assault on their base of operations in Antarctica; he expects us to try and regain the territories the UFN has lost to him."
40Sumeragi choose this moment to implement another test upon Zero. "Zero, would you care for some eggs and sausage?" Kaguya's question would have meaning to only Suzaku, who would fumble over himself due to the embarrassment of having Lihua in the room right in front of him.
40Although irritated by her interruption of his spiel, Zero was not fazed by her remark. "Thank you, Lady Kaguya, but I'm not hungry at the moment.”
40Kaguya looked at Lihua and shook her head slightly. The Tianzi nodded at her in understanding.
40Zero continued to relay his plan. “In order for us to counter Schneizel’s current strategy, we must withdraw our forces and regroup. In addition to this, we must allow Cornelia to continue her progress throughout Europe to get her as far away from the Britannian homeland as possible while at the same time forcing her to minimize civilian casualties."
40“So you intend on destroying both the UFN and Britannia in one fell swoop, is that it?” Sumeragi asked.
40Zero was stunned by her remark. “No, I simply intend to maintain the façade of the conflict between the UFN and Britannia in order to keep Schneizel from guessing our intentions.”
40“While innocent people die in the process?” Nunnally eyed him. “I don’t think so. Those kinds of tactics are outmoded and seem more like the kind of strategy that my father would use, not the Knight of Justice.”
40Her words clearly stung Zero as he stepped backward. “You’ve a better plan?”
40“I do,” Nunnally told him as she stood up on her cybernetic legs to face him. Her action caused Zero to look her up and down as if surprised by her standing. Zero’s reaction told Nunnally all she needed to know about who this man was. The cold look in her eyes matched the icy tone she spoke to him in. “Things have changed in the last six years, Zero. The tactics and strategies of the Black Rebellion won’t work now…my brother saw to that when he remade the world. My plan is simple and direct. Lady Kaguya, Lihua, and I have been discussing the whole of this situation at length. Thanks to Kaguya not trusting Tohdoh after the Black Knights were reformed and thus placing surveillance devices in Tohdoh’s office, we know that the good general plans on using this conflict to overthrow the UFN and take down Britannia.”
40“That’s because he understands this situation!” Zero interjected.
40“No,” Nunnally scolded him, “it’s because he got the idea from MY BROTHER!”
40“We’ve had plenty of time to reflect on this, Zero,” Lihua added to try and break the tension that was building between Nunnally and Zero. “And we agree with both of them in so far as the creation of a worldwide constitutional republic. Such unification, with guaranteed inalienable human rights set within the framework of an actual document, would help sweep away the last vestiges of the obsolete feudal and socialist systems that still plague our world.”
40“And Schneizel has provided the perfect vehicle for achieving this goal without the continuation of a conflict between the UFN and Britannia.” Kaguya enjoyed being able to best Zero, especially if this Zero was who she was quickly beginning to suspect he was. Sumeragi gave him a smile. “Don’t worry, Zero; we have every intention of using your brilliant mind to our mutual advantage in reaching the world you and Kyoshiro envision.”
40Zero was taken aback by how skillful the three of these women had become in his absence. He chuckled aloud. “I see I’m no match for your triumvirate.” He bowed graciously before them. “How may I be of service, ladies.”
40Nunnally had to hold back a laugh as she smirked; she liked the idea of being one step ahead of him for once. “You shall do as you are told when we send for you, Zero. For now, you are to assemble suitable replacements for the missing members of the Yamato no Orochi. There should be at least eight members within that Special Forces unit. Currently there are only four.”
40“But, Empress Nunnally—“ Zero began.
40“No buts!” She raised her chin towards him. “You are my vassal and as such you shall do as I command. Now leave us and assemble the forces you require to locate and deal with Schneizel.”
40“As you wish, milady.” Zero bowed and walked out of the conference chamber.


* * *

40“How’d it go?” C.C. asked Zero as he entered their private room on the Ikaruga.
40“Better than I expected,” he said as he removed his mask. Lelouch ran his hand through his hair and sighed. “I got them to hand control of the Yamato no Orochi over to me in order for us to pursue Schneizel.”
40“Is that wise?” Enoch asked as he walked in from an adjacent part of the large room wearing only a bath robe.
40“You disapprove?” Lelouch asked snidely.
40Enoch snickered, “No, but should that fiery redheaded captain of theirs find out you’re still alive, I’d say there’ll be hell to pay for it.”
40Lelouch frowned. “I can handle her, don’t you worry about it.”
40“If you say so, champ,” Enoch laughed. “She was mighty pissed-off while she thought I was you.”
40“Well, she thinks you’re me now, so that solves the problem,” Lelouch told him with an irritated look.
40Enoch teased Lelouch with a wink at C.C. “Gee, how gentlemanly of you; does that mean you don’t mind if I choose to woo Kallen to ease some of her heartache?”
40“Enoch!” C.C. blurted out in wide-eyed surprise as she took a slice of pizza from the box in front of her.
40“What?” Enoch shrugged. “The poor girl is madly in love with this guy, and he acts like he doesn’t even care. She could use some real man lov’n for her troubles.”
40“Have you no sense of decency?” C.C. tittered as she took a bite of the slice, though Lelouch was not amused.
40Enoch put his hands on his hips. “Lookey here, gorgeous, I may be immortal but I’m not dead, yah know…that Kallen is hawwwwt!”
40C.C. nearly choked on the pizza as she held back a laugh and smiled at him.
40“Enough of this!” Lelouch barked at Enoch. “I didn’t order you to join me so you could entertain your wanton appetites.”
40Enoch raised an eyebrow. “You don’t give me orders, boy.”
40“Is that so?” The twin sigils of Geass formed in Lelouch’s eyes.
40“No, Lelouch, wait!” C.C. warned but it was too late.
40Lelouch spoke with a wave of his hand, “I, Lelouch vi Britannia, command you to obey my orders without question.”
40“Oh, boy.” C.C. put her face in her palm.
40Enoch walked up to Lelouch and put his middle finger under his left ocular orb, flipping off Lelouch as he spoke in a sarcastic tone, “Lelouch, looook into my eye.” Enoch slapped Lelouch on the forehead gently with his palm and chuckled, “As if your feeble power could affect me? Who do you think I am?”
40Lelouch was stunned at the man’s brazen act.
40Enoch smiled at him. “I mean really? If I was susceptible to the charms, spells, or powers of every Tom, Dick, and Harry sorcerer that came my way, I’d have given this up eons ago.”
40Lelouch pulled his gun out from within his Zero garment and pointed it at Enoch. “I can’t afford to have anyone knowing who I am that’s not willing to follow my orders.” He pulled the trigger and fired eight rounds into Enoch’s robe.
40The amber-eyed man didn’t even flinch. He simply opened up his robe and allowed the mushroomed rounds to fall from under the garment onto the floor.
40“What the?” Lelouch gasped.
40Enoch outstretched his hand causing the pistol to fly from Lelouch’s grip into his own. As soon as he had the weapon, he crushed it effortlessly and sighed as he let loose of the mangled weapon. “Are you finished?”
40“Stop it, the both of you!” C.C. stood up.
40Enoch stared at Lelouch intensely. “I’m helping you because I want to, Lelouch vi Britannia. Upon reflection, I see much of who I once was in you and thus a great potential to do what very few are able to. But you have no concept of the hell that is eternal life. Few have the stamina for it. In short, my young friend, I’m here to help, but if my help is not appreciated…lots of luck, Lulu.”
40The buzzer of the door prevented Lelouch from responding as Suzaku’s voice called from behind the locked entrance, “Is everything alright in there? I thought I heard shots fired.”
40“Just a minute, Suzaku!” C.C. called out to him. “I’m not dressed yet!” C.C. grabbed Lelouch and started taking his clothes off.
40“Enoch, put his Zero costume on and give him your robe,” C.C. whispered to the two of them.
40“Whoa, you had me worried there for a minute.” Enoch grinned at C.C.
40“Will you shut up and do as I tell you!” C.C. snapped at him.
40“Yes, ma’am,” Enoch replied timidly and started dressing into Lelouch’s Zero outfit. He took a whiff of the suit as he put it on. “Damn, boy, what kind of perfume is this…Ode de Tapette?”
40“At least I don’t smell like an oily leather saddle,” Lelouch retorted as he put on the robe.
40C.C. fumed at both of them. “Would it be possible for you two to grow up some time in the near future? Now you get into the closet.” C.C. motioned for Lelouch to hide behind one of the long bank of closet doors at the far end of the room. “And you,” she pointed at Enoch as he donned the Zero helmet and flinched, “get into character.”
40Both men were so surprised at her taking charge that they found themselves compelled to obey.


* * *

40“Hi, Suzaku,” C.C. smiled at him as she unlocked the door allowing him to walk into the room with the Red Dragon in tow behind him.
40Suzaku looked around the room as he walked in. “What the heck is going on in here?” he queried her.
40"Oh, nothing," C.C. giggled. "We were just having a bit of a tiff, that's all."
40The Red Dragon stepped on something hard and round on the floor. She looked down to see eight mushroomed bullets at her feet. "That's was one heck of a tiff," her electronic voice said with a snicker.
40Suzaku caught sight of the crushed pistol on the floor. Immediately, he walked over to it and picked it up. He examined the filigree grip which had attracted his attention. "This is Lelouch's gun." Kururugi eyed C.C. and Zero.
40"It was in his tomb," C.C. said quickly as Lelouch cracked open the louvers of the closet door that he hid behind. He peered through the slits at Suzaku.
40"I took it with me when I borrowed his outfit and mask," Enoch told a half-truth.
40"Did you?" Suzaku said in disbelief.
40"Great," Lelouch mumbled softly to himself as Suzaku looked around the room. "This is definitely not my day."
40Suzaku walked over to the far end of the room where the bank of closet doors started at the left and opened the first door.
40"Wha...what are you doing, Suzaku?" C.C. asked in a panic.
40"Checking for demons," he said bluntly.
40I don't need this right now! Lelouch thought to himself as he backed up into the closet.
40"Suzaku, we really don't have time for this," Enoch told him. "Zero has to assemble his strike team to hunt down Schneizel as soon as possible. I'd like your help with that if you don't mind."
40Kururugi stopped and turned towards Zero. "I know, Nunnally just told me about it which is why I was on my way down here. She said that she wants me and the Red Dragon to accompany her on the Avalon for her return to Britannia. Kaguya has given you the use of the Ikaruga. Sumeragi and Lihua wish to accompany you on your journey to find Schneizel’s lair. The Empress Nunnally also wanted me to ask you if we could use the Hakodeshim Frames you lent us for the trip to Britannia, as she doesn’t trust Evita."
40"The Archangels are my gifts to you two, so of course you can use them," Enoch told him politely.
40"Thank you, Enoch; you are very generous in such a gift." Suzaku smiled.
40Lelouch backed into the coat hangar bar and hit his head. "OUCH!"
40"What was that?" Suzaku spun on his heel towards the door where the sound had come from.
40"What was what?" Enoch asked innocently.
40Suzaku frowned at him. "You know what I'm talking about." He looked at C.C. who only shrugged with a weak smile.
40Kururugi marched over to the door and opened it. "AH, HAH!" He grabbed Lelouch and threw him out of the closet onto the floor.
40Enoch turned to C.C. and grinned. “Looks like Suzaku got him to finally come out of the closet.”
40C.C. rolled her eyes while the Red Dragon snickered.
40"Suzaku, wait!" Lelouch put up his hands instinctively to try and calm his friend.
40Kururugi stared at the pink sigil of Geass on Lelouch's palm. "I knew it, you BASTARD! YOU LIED TO ME! YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T TAKE CHARLES' CODE!"
40"No, wait, Suzaku, I didn't! I swear! It's not what you think!" Lelouch scurried away from Suzaku on the floor as Kururugi drew his sidearm.
40“Suzaku, he didn’t deceive you,” C.C. told him as she came between the two of them with her arms outstretched.
40The Red Dragon came up behind Kururugi and gently put her hand on Suzaku’s shoulder. “Let’s hear what he has to say.”
40“Kururugi dropped his sidearm to his side but glared with menace at Lelouch.
40“He didn’t lie to you, Suzaku,” C.C. went on. The Greek Geass user named Euryale had the power to resurrect the dead.”
40"Not exactly," Enoch interrupted. "Her power was actually to extend her Code over an area, thus allowing any person with full Geass to be revived from death as though that person had a Code."
40"Thanks, Enoch," C.C. sniggered. "Anyway, Euryale used her power in Lelouch's tomb to revive her sister Medusa and accidentally revived Lelouch as well."
40"And his Code?" Suzaku grumbled.
40"I got it from Euryale when I killed her." Lelouch composed himself and stood up.
40“How convenient,” Kururugi spat.
40“I told you I’d find a way back here and I did,” Lelouch reminded Suzaku.
40“That wasn’t a dream?” Kururugi was shocked.
40“No,” Lelouch told him. “Although I don’t really understand how we were able to communicate…I do know that we did.”
40“Geass gives the user and the recipient an unintentional telepathic bond due to the nature of its metaphysical properties,” Enoch informed them.
40C.C. looked at him bewildered. “How do you know that?”
40Enoch put his hand on the back of his head and chuckled, “Oh, I read it in the Geass Order’s files when I broke into their lair and copied their records a little over a decade ago.”
40“You copied their records?” Lelouch inquired with an elated expression.
40“Well, yah…it’s part of what I do,” Enoch told him matter-of-factly. “Why? Are they important to you, Lelouch?”
40“Quite possibly now more then ever,” Lelouch answered him with a grin.
40Enoch took off the Zero helmet and smiled at him devilishly. “You mean because it contains descriptions of all of the known Geass users, both past and present, and their powers?”
40Suzaku glanced from Enoch to Lelouch. “Did I miss something?”
40“Don’t worry. We’ll fill you in on the details,” C.C. said as she sat down at the table. “We’ve much to discuss…pizza anyone?” She held up a slice as they all sat down.


* * *

40“We’ve covered only a fraction of the islands out here, Tohdoh,” Xingke said over the viewscreen, “and still nothing.”
40“I see,” Kyoshiro said with a frown from the bridge of his ocean surface-warship, the Musashi, as the vessel sat in Humboldt Bay off the shores of the city of Jayapura, the capitol city of Papua New Guinea. Tohdoh looked out towards the rising pillars of smoke in the distance. “We’ve only just started our conquest of New Guinea, and in only a week we have nearly crushed Schneizel’s forces here. They’re not putting up any kind of real fight…I wonder.”
40“Do you think it’s a ploy?” Xingke inquired.
40“Perhaps.” Tohdoh pondered the situation for a moment before continuing, “It’s possible Schneizel intends for us to lay siege to the territory he’s claimed while he plans something else.”
40“What else could he be planning?” Xingke asked in a befuddled tone. “If conquest of the world is indeed his goal, then he has to acquire and maintain territory. It’s not like he has another Damocles to threaten us all with.”
40“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, General Xingke. His Greek allies are spread pretty thin…” Kyoshiro rubbed his chin absentmindedly. He spoke more to himself than to Li Xingke, “And while we pursue them and his brainwashed troops, we are also spreading ourselves thinner. The UFN is bogged down in Europe and Africa with the Britannian forces.”
40“Meaning?” Li asked impatient with Tohdoh’s murmuring thoughts.
40“He’s fighting a holding action,” Kyoshiro stated bluntly.
40Xingke frowned; he had an idea of where Tohdoh was going with this line of thinking. “And you’re concerned as to why Schneizel is only trying to hold us rather than continue to engage?”
40“Yes, it doesn’t make any sense for Schneizel to sabotage his own momentum unless he has good reason. Even with the destruction of the Charybdis, his forces could have continued to overwhelm our sparse units in Africa and the Middle East. There’s something more to all of this, I can feel it.” Kyoshiro put his hand down and looked directly at Xingke. “Lady Kaguya has informed me that the Ikaruga, under the command of Zero, is going to replace your forces shortly in the search for Schneizel.”
40“Zero?” Xingke almost laughed. “I thought Kururugi was dead.”
40“I thought he was also,” Tohdoh frowned. “Apparently, the Lancelot of the Lake was equipped with an emergency escape system that allowed him to survive the explosion. However, that isn’t the problem.”
40“Oh?” Li remarked with curiosity. “We know who Zero is, so what’s the problem?”
40“The problem is that Suzaku is no longer Zero. He has been reinstated as the Knight of Zero by Empress Nunnally and is now one of her personal Knights. The other Knight is called the Knight of Draconis. This person is another masked figure, a woman this time, who calls herself the Red Dragon. The joint UFN/Britannian media blitz cover story is that Suzaku was in a coma for six years under the care of the UFN and has now pledged his loyalty to Zero. The other Knight is supposedly a former rebel against Britannia who Nunnally trusts implicitly. I must admit that Milly Ashford made the presentation very believable, and both Knights appeared very personable in her interviews with them.”
40“Then who is Zero?” Xingke hated this game of charades the Britannians were playing with this collage of masked heroes.
40“I honestly don’t know.” Tohdoh was troubled by the appearance of this new Zero. “What I do know is that if Kaguya is backing him, then nothing good will come of it. The lady-chairman has her own designs on how best to use this crisis, of that I am sure, and I hate to have to say this to you, my friend, but your Jiang Lihua may be assisting them as well.”
40Xingke scowled at Kyoshiro. “If the Tianzi is helping Kaguya and Empress Nunnally, then it is for the good of the Chinese people, General Tohdoh, of that you can be rest assured.”
40“Be that as it may, it could still be problematic,” Tohdoh told him in a firm tone. “I need you and her on board for this operation to be a success, which leads me to what I want you to do, General Xingke. Now that your fleet is freed up from searching for Schneizel, I need you to proceed to Hawaii as soon as possible.”
40“Hawaii? Why there?” Li was confused; he had expected Tohdoh to send him to Antarctica.
40“I strongly suspect that Schneizel will attempt to capture his sister Nunnally during her flight from Japan to Britannia. Zero and the Ikaruga will be flying as escort for her during the jaunt from Japan to the Hawaiian Islands, so I don’t think Schneizel will attempt to take her at that time. However, the Ikaruga will be heading for the South Pacific and leaving the Avalon behind once it reaches Hawaii. Therefore, to ensure that her ship makes it to Britannia safely, I want you to rendezvous with the Avalon.”
40“I will leave for Hawaii at once; Xingke out.” Li’s image vanished off the screen.
40Kyoshiro Tohdoh looked out at the sun as it set over the Cyclops Mountains with one thought burning in his mind: Who is this Zero? I wonder…could he still be alive?


* * *

40“Oh, my God!” Lena came rushing into the Devicer lounge of the Ikaruga, out of breath.
40“What is it, Lena?” Mika asked her as she sipped her tea.
40“You guys aren’t gonna believe this!” The girl leaned on the threshold of the doorway and took another draw of air. “We’ve just been reassigned.”
40“Really? What unit?” Tetsuo asked in an exited tone.
40Lena was ecstatic. “The Yamato no Orochi!”
40Gregor spat out a swallow of his tea as he exclaimed, “NO WAY!”
40Mika jumped up from the table and spun around. “Whoopee! We’re in Captain Kozuki’s unit!”
40Akira sat at the bar of the lounge alone holding a dark expression on his face. He hadn’t been the same since Li Jiang Fong died.
40Lena looked at him with concern. “Did you hear that, Akira? We’re going to be with Kallen Kozuki.”
40He turned to her and gave her a thin smile. “Yah, I heard, Lena.”
40“Hey, c’mon, Akira, that’s gotta cheer you up a little bit, man.” Gregor pat him on the back.
40Akira sighed. “Yah, sure, Gregor. All it means is that our missions are going to get more dangerous and more of us might end up…” He couldn’t finish his sentence.
40“Don’t you think we all know that, you jerk?” Mika snapped at him. “Reflect on it all you want on your own time, Akira, but it won’t change the fact that what happened is in the past. We can’t change it, so deal with it, and stop moping around here like a zombie!”
40Akira said nothing.
40“Mika, stop,” Lena told her softly. “You’re ruining the mood.”
40“No, Lena.” Mika glared at Akira. “We need you, Nobunaga. We’re not a team without you…”
40“Is there something wrong in here?” Lt. Commander Anya Alstreim said as she walked into the lounge.
40“Uh…no…no, ma’am,” Mika stuttered.
40“That’s Lt. Alstreim,” Tetsuo whispered to Gregor.
40“I know,” he tittered. “Damn, she’s cute.”
40“Can we help you, Commander Alstreim?” Akira asked her in his monotone.
40Anya looked at them all with indifference. “I came here to fetch the five of you. Captain Kozuki would like to meet you all informally before she permits you into her unit.”
40“Didn’t she ask for us personally?” Mika inquired of Anya. “I mean, that is the usually military protocol, isn’t it?”
40Anya considered her question for a moment. “I suppose it is under normal circumstances, but these are not normal circumstances. It was Zero who requested that you be assigned to the Yamato no Orochi.”
40“Zero!” the former Jaguars said together in awe.
40“Will we be meeting him too?” Gregor pressed Anya with an excited look.
40“Probably. Now, if you’ll all follow me please.” Commander Alstreim turned on her heel and waited for them to fall in behind her.


* * *

40“What's this? Dining on darkness this evening, are you, Jason?” Heracles inquired as he walked into the observation promenade of the Argos. The last vestiges of sunlight were flowing onto the hardwood floor of the rapidly darkening room. Jason stood at the edge of the large curved glass windows that ran the full length of three walls and the ceiling of the chamber.
40The Greek captain of the Argonauts wore a troubled look.
40“I’m waiting to hear from Hephaestus,” Jason said in a somber tone.
40“Oh.” Heracles pulled at his beard. “So, it’s done then, is it?”
40“Yes,” Jason told him.
40“You worried about what she’ll say?” Heracles asked.
40Jason only nodded.
40“How soon will we know if we will be ordered to continue to wage war against these people?” Heracles didn’t like the thought of what she might order them to do.
40“I should receive word any time now.” Jason stared out at the remains of Kyoto far below his aerial warship. "Don't be surprised if we’re ordered to continue with our original mission."
40“I hope not.” Heracles looked out at the city lights in the distance as twilight fell over Japan. "Once you fill her in on the details, she should understand, don't you think?"
40Jason sighed. "It's not whether or not she understands the situation, my old friend. It's whether or not she deems it more important to follow the original plan and subjugate these mortals, or if she chooses a different path."
40"I wager she'll choose a different path," Heracles boasted. "She's no fool."
40"That's what concerns me so much," Jason stated with a dark look. "If she does change course, then I can only surmise one path she'll choose."
40"And once again you’re worried about Akira and his comrades?" Heracles knew the answer before he even asked the question.
40Jason looked at him and smiled, “Does it show that much?”
40“Like the full moon on a clear summer night, my friend.” Heracles patted Jason on the shoulder.
40“Heracles, do you think I’ve become too fond of the boy?” Jason asked.
40Heracles chuckled, “I suppose that depends on what you mean by fond. If you mean that you look at Akira as a father to a son, then I see nothing wrong with it.”
40Jason laughed, “Do I look Etruscan to you?”
40Heracles was pleased with himself for putting a smile on his friend’s face. “Well, you do fancy olive wine quite a bit…”
40Jason laughed, “Only with fine women, my friend!”
40“Captain,” Orpheus said as he entered the promenade.
40“Yes, Orpheus?” Jason asked.
40“Hephaestus is on the comm. with news and patiently awaits you on the bridge,” the lieutenant said with a grave look.
40Jason’s mood was sobered immediately. “Tell him I’ll be there in a moment.”
40Heracles sighed. “Looks like I’ll be dining on darkness tonight also,” he said begrudgingly of whatever message Hephaestus would relay, knowing that it would almost certainly pit Jason against Akira once more.

Kodai Okuda
09-25-2010, 04:51 AM
Turn Seventeen: Ambush

40"Sometimes I wonder why the hell anybody ever followed Zero in the first place. Sure, he had his power of Geass, but he never would have had that if not for C.C. There's no doubt that his wit and strategic knowledge helped during the Black Rebellion and his second Revolution which gained him his revenge against his father and control of Britannia. However, during that time, he robbed something from all those around him. Those who knew and loved him, those that put their lives on the line for him and asked for nothing in return, those who put their hopes and dreams in him. You'd think that the least Zero could have done was repay them with the friendship he owed them. It was as though Zero was just that...a plain Zero...nothing. It took the ambush of emotion and experience of an amber-eyed man's teachings to show Zero that, and I'm eternally grateful to him for it.” —Excerpt from a letter to Mrs. Milly Ashford from Lelouch vi Britannia, dated April 23rd, 2025 a.t.b.

40"Damn it!" Lelouch cursed as Enoch took his king from off the chessboard. "How the hell...that’s the third game I’ve lost to you in as many days."
40Enoch gave Lelouch a gentle smile as he spoke softly, "Stop trying to win so badly, and feel rather than think what your opponent is about to do."
40"What the heck is that supposed to mean?" he asked as they sat within their private quarters on the Ikaruga. "Are you some kind of mind reader in addition to all your other oddities?"
40C.C. giggled as she sipped at a cup of tea watching them from the couch at the opposite end of the carpeted center of the room. "No, silly, what he's trying to tell you is that you're too impulsive. You need to give your adversary enough rope to hang himself instead of trying to win the conflict quickly. You're too used to going against Britannian royals who viewed you as a mere teenager and thought you easy game. Your experience with your brother Schneizel, whom you were already familiar with, didn’t really teach you anything new either. That’s partially why Li Xingke was able to outmaneuver you during the incident in China back during that time. I think that Enoch sees you as capable of being far more than Zero or just Lelouch vi Britannia. Am I right, Enoch?"
40“Spot on as always, gorgeous,” Enoch chortled at her.
40C.C. gave him a warm smile in return. “You know you’re making him jealous by calling me that.”
40Lelouch scowled at her, “No, he is not!”
40“Oh, contraire, monsieur.” Enoch made a grandiose gesture with his right hand. “You should be jealous of the affections I lavish on her. That is what I’m trying to engrain into you: a measure of caring for someone on an idealistic-romantic level rather than a carnal or obligatory one; in other words, I’m trying to get you to truly love her, Lelouch. Not in a sexual sense, though those feels ought to be there, but rather I’d like to see you focus your personal love upon her as you would the level of love you gave your highest ideal. Put another way, I’m trying to get you to make C2 the emotional equivalent to your failed Zero Requiem in so far as the drive to achieve and obtain that goal was concerned.”
40Lelouch was puzzled. “Why? That kind of emotion will only be a burden and give me a weakness others can exploit. I already went through this with my sister, Nunnally, and it nearly destroyed me. If C2 were to be captured or killed…”
40“Then you will have failed,” Enoch cut him off. “You’re only looking at one edge of that double-edged sword, my friend,” Enoch said. “The other side is a blade sharper than anything else which you can call upon when you need it most. The emotional and spiritual power you can garner from truly being in love with C2 will grant you the ability to push yourself far beyond the limits of what you think you can do now.”
40C.C. blushed. “You make it sound so academic. Love isn’t A+B=C; it’s a great deal more than that, Enoch, and you know it.”
40Enoch grinned at her and shrugged. “Which, alas, is why it didn’t work out between us.”
40Lelouch gave him surprised look. “You two had a thing together?”
40“It was over two hundred years before you were born, Lelouch,” C.C. reassured him. “You see, Enoch absolutely loves women, and not necessarily in a sexual way, mind you. He lacks the drive to reproduce because he is not, and never was, human. He has a tendency to fall for them emotionally, and at the time, I was head of the Geass Order. I thought he wanted me because he was trying to infiltrate the Order. I had no idea he was sincerely interested.”
40Enoch gave her a look of mock surprise. “Aw, don’t give away all my secrets, beautiful. That information could be dangerous in the wrong hands.”
40“Well, it’s true. You spent years trying to woo me,” she snickered. “I’ll admit you were charming at the time.”
40Enoch leaned in close to Lelouch. “The secret to her heart is to pretend you’re not interested, then give her a passionate kiss when she least expects it.”
40“Shoosh, you!” C.C. threw a pillow at Enoch, which hit him dead in the face.
40“Yahhhh!” Enoch fell back in his chair onto the floor.
40Lelouch let out a laugh.
40C.C. rolled her eyes. “I didn’t throw it that hard, you dweeb.” She grinned at Lelouch. “I should warn you, Lelouch, he can be a real clown when he wants to be.”
40Enoch picked himself up off the floor. “Clowning around is good for the soul.” He righted his chair as he addressed C.C., “The boy here is too serious all the time. Such melancholy will only hinder him in the long run. He needs a good strong sense of humor to help get him through the years…otherwise, he’ll become cold, uncaring, and dangerous.”
40Lelouch smirked, “So, all of this is my training, is it?”
40“Yes, Lelouch,” Enoch told him. “I want you to laugh and be merry so you gain a mental arsenal of so-called good times to draw upon in times of need. You’ve gone through too much pain and suffering in your life; now it’s time to undo some of that damage.”
40“But those experiences are what give me strength,” Lelouch told him.
40“Only a villain draws from pain and suffering for strength,” Enoch said in a cold tone. “Either his own or what he inflicts on others. A hero draws upon what is good in life in order to gain the fortitude to defend it with every ounce of his being.”
40“And you intend on molding me into a hero, is that it?” Lelouch was skeptical.
40Enoch gave him a wicked grin. “Even if it kills you.”


* * *

40“What have you done to my Lancelot?” Lloyd demanded from Rakshata as the two of them stood in front of the skeletal remains of the stripped-down KnightMare Frame that lay upon the floor of the KMF hangar bay of the Ikaruga.
40Rakshata laughed hysterically. “Oh, you mean that old scrap heap that was sitting here?” She waved her long-pipe around. “I used what was left of it to build something much better.”
40To Cecile’s surprise, Lloyd actually clenched his fists. “You vile woman!”
40“Calm down, Lloyd,” Cecile said to him softly.
40Lloyd turned to Cecile and pouted, “She’s killed my masterpiece! She’s molested my only child!”
40“Oh, stop being such a big baby,” Rakshata tittered. “It’s not like you could have repaired that junk pile.”
40“Where is it?” Professor Asplund demanded.
40“Where’s what?” Doctor Chawla asked with a smirk.
40Lloyd pulled at his hair in frustration. “This Frankenstein monster that you built using the perfect parts of my Lancelot.”
40“Oh, you mean the Type-25?” Rakshata snickered. “It’s in the next hangar.”
40“Type-25?” Cecile inquired.
40Rakshata regarded Cecile with a smile as Lloyd continued to wail, “Yes, Captain Ohgi demanded that I have a new KnightMare Frame ready for Captain Kallen Kozuki by the time we reach Hawaii. That gave me only a week to have something prepared for her. Since her Type-21 was wrecked beyond repair in her fight with the KMF Victoria, I couldn’t use that, and I didn’t have time to construct an entirely new KnightMare given the short amount of time. Therefore, I chose to use the KnightMare Frames we had on hand to rebuild another, somewhat older, design into an eleventh-generation KnightMare using the components of Lloyd’s Lancelot of the Lake.”
40“Oh, how could you?” Lloyd bellowed.
40The two women ignored him as they walked over to the next hangar bay.
40Rakshata led the way as Cecile followed with Lloyd trailing behind her.
40The three of them entered the hangar.
40Cecile’s eyes grew wide. “Oh, my!”
40“It’s a masterpiece,” Rakshata snickered.
40“I can’t believe it,” Cecile remarked in amazement. “What do you think, Lloyd?” Cecile asked as he stared at the machine with wide eyes and a gaping mouth.
40“Ahhhhhhhhhh!” Lloyd screamed in horror before fainting to the floor.


* * *

40“Are you sure you’re okay with the title Knight of Orange, Jeremiah?” Nunnally asked a bit unsure of Gottwald’s affection for the name.
40Kaguya Sumeragi and Jiang Lihua stood silently as he replied to her question, “Absolutely, milady.” He bowed before her in the main observation room of the Avalon. The Ikaruga and Duchess Evita Ernst’s flotilla of warships shown just outside the grand windows of the room flying around the aerial-frigate as escort in the diminishing light of the late afternoon sun.
40“Well then,” Nunnally said with a brief look at Kaguya and Lihua, “kneel before me.” Nunnally placed her hand upon his head as he did so and smiled at him. “I dub thee Sir Jeremiah Gottwald, Knight of Orange and personal Knight of Empress Nunnally vi Britannia.”
40Lihua and Kaguya clapped respectfully.
40Jeremiah took her hand in his and kissed it. “Thank you, your Highness.”
40Nunnally blushed. "You deserve it for all of your years of loyal service to my family, Jeremiah."
40Jeremiah stood up and bowed before her. “Thank you, Empress Nunnally, and to you, Lady Chairman Sumeragi and Empress Jiang Lihua for acting as witnesses. I promise on my life that I will serve you with every ounce of my being.”
40“I know, my brave Knight of Orange,” Nunnally giggled.
40Alarm klaxons sounded throughout the ship as one of Evita’s warships fired on the Ikaruga.
40“What the?” Kaguya blurted out as KnightMare Frames began pouring out of the duchess’ aerial vessels.
40Nunnally touched a button on a control panel next to her. “Where is Evita?” she demanded of the bridge officer.
40“The duchess left a few moments ago, Empress,” a young man’s voice replied.
40“Damn it!” Nunnally blurted out in frustration.
40“We are betrayed!” Lihua exclaimed in horror.


* * *

40“Get to your KnightMares now!” Villetta roared over the intercom of the Ikaruga into the Devicer lounge of the Yamato no Orochi.
40“She doesn’t have to tell us twice!” Kallen jumped up from where she and Gino had been sitting together with Akira talking at the bar of the lounge.
40Akira and the five former Jaguars jumped up with the four veteran Black Knights and started racing down towards the hangar deck of the ship.
40The nine of them moved as fast as their feet would take them towards the KMFs that awaited them on the flight deck; the Ikaruga shook as its shields were hit by enemy fire.
40The doors of the hangar opened up to reveal Rakshata, Lloyd, and Cecile standing in front of eight KnightMares: four Type-24G Goro, three Type-24O Okouchi, and one Type-24Z Susano-O mecha.
40“All of you get to your respective Type-24s,” Rakshata said calmly as Cecile directed all but Kallen to the eight KnightMare Frames that were on the deck.
40Anya, Tamaki, and Gino were directed to the three Okouchi Type-24Os that sat in front of four Goro Type-24Gs which Tetsuo, Mika, Lena, and Gregor were directed to enter.
40Akira ran for the black KMF that he knew was the Type-24Z Susano-O; it was the last KMF present.
40Kozuki looked around frantically. “Rakshata, where the heck is my machine?”
40“I’ve got something special in mind for you, Captain Kozuki,” Zero said as he walked up from behind her.
40Kallen turned around to see him glaring at her with the mirrored mask as the other Devicers climbed into their respective machines. She looked at him with a queer expression; his voice was the same as the one on the radio that had startled her at Kaminejima, and he seemed shorter than the man she had met under the mask a little over two weeks ago (Enoch), but this Zero was the right height to be him.
40“Something special, huh?” she said putting her hands on her hips. “Like what?”
40“I want you to meet someone,” he replied motioning her to follow him.
40Meet someone? she thought in confusion as the Ikaruga shuddered under another impact. At a time like this? Unless…Lelouch? Kallen followed behind Zero as he led her into an adjacent hangar; the room was pitch-black save for the small overhead light above the door to the chamber.
40“Who am I meeting in here?” Kallen asked with a meek grin at him.
40“An old friend,” he said as the door to the hangar closed behind them.
40Her heart leapt at the possibility of his innuendo. Kallen hoped with all her heart that this Zero would remove his mask and show her that he was, in fact, Lelouch.
40To her shock, Zero called out to the darkness, “Okay, Professor Asplund!” The internal lights of the hangar flooded the room with bright light exposing its contents.
40Zero waved his hand in the direction of the KnightMare Frame that stood at the far end of the hangar. “I believe you two have met?”
40Kallen’s disappoint was immediately replaced with elation at the sight of the machine. “GUREN!”
40“But not just any Guren,” Rakshata stated as she and Cecile entered the room.
40“It’s got the Lancelot of the Lake’s graviton-impeller wings, anti-FLEIJA systems, and high-maneuverability null-gravity gyroscopic system!” Cecile exclaimed with excitement.
40“I had to make a few adjustments due to the incompetence of the rush job done on it,” Lloyd bellowed from the top of the gantry that held the Guren in place.
40Rakshata frowned. “Yes, Lloyd did help fine-tune this new Type-25 Guren Phoenix, since Zero wanted it done as quickly as possible.”
40Kallen looked at him and smiled brightly.
40“I knew you’d like it,” he chuckled. “I had no doubt in my mind that Duchess Ernst would betray us, and I was certain you’d want a rematch with her when she made her move.”
40Kallen closed her eyes for a moment then gave him a wicked smile. “You bet your sweet ass I do.”


* * *

40“Don’t let them get through to the Ikaruga,” Akira commanded as they formed a defensive perimeter around the ship. Kallen and Gino had agreed that Akira would make a fine second in command of the Yamato no Orochi, and thus he was now in control of the KMF team in her absence.
40“Remind me again as to how a snot-nosed brat got put in charge instead of me?” Tamaki grumbled as a flight of twelve black and gray KMF Victorias closed in on them.
40“He’s in charge because Kallen said so!” Anya scolded Tamaki as she tore through one of the twelve Victorias with the pair of MVS harkens mounted on the front of the shoulders of the Type-24O. The duo of oval-shaped harkens were similar to the MVS harken disc of the Victoria in that they didn’t use a cable but rather were tethered to the Okouchi via an electromagnetic line. The twin MVS harken weapons flew back into the their respective recesses within the shoulder armor of the Okouchi as Anya unleashed a trio of energy discs from the Fukusha Hadou Kikou-enhanced radiant-energy wave rifle mounted on the left forearm of her mecha.
40“Wow, Anya is pretty fierce,” Tetsuo joked with Gregor as one of the Victorias fired its four-barrel gunpod at his Type-24G Goro nearly taking off his machine’s head.
40“Stay focused, Tetsuo,” Akira ordered Tetsuo as he flew Susano-O up to the offending Britannian KMF and drew his machine’s Zangetsu-Masmune Hadron sword. The Susano-O drew the weapon so fast that the Victoria clone was unable to parry the attack; the Zangetsu-Masmune cut the Britannian KMF in half at the waist.
40“Not bad, kid,” Tamaki snickered as he joined the fray, “but just watch this veteran pilot in action.” Tamaki used the 28-millimeter cannon mounted on the left forearm of his Okouchi to deflect the MVS harken disc of another Victoria while his machine drew its Hadron Katana from its left hip. He moved in and cut the legs off the Victoria with a single swipe.
40“Yeah!” Tamaki boasted. “Now that’s what I’m talking about—“
40The arms, head, and null-gravity generators of Tamaki’s Okouchi were blasted off by an assailant from above.
40“My God, you’re annoying!” Evita said snobbishly as her KMF Victoria swooped down at Tamaki’s ruined KnightMare to finish it off.
40The duchess drew her mecha’s Hadron Saber to run Tamaki’s Okouchi through but was parried by the Hadron Katana of Gino’s Type-24O.
40Lena drove her Type-24G Goro down and caught Tamaki’s crippled Okouchi. “Don’t worry, Commander Weinberg, I’ve got him.”
40“Thank you, Lena.” Gino’s Okouchi crossed swords with Evita as they dueled. “I’ll agree Tamaki’s a real pain in the butt sometimes, Duchess, but he’s still my friend, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let you kill him,” Gino scolded her as he nearly cut off her machine’s left null-gravity dome.
40“You have very poor taste in friends, my love,” Evita snickered as her Victoria slashed at the right shoulder shield of his Okouchi.
40“Look, Duchess, I appreciate your affections for me, but like I told you nine years ago…I’m too old for you. Now please stop this pointless attack.”
40Evita laughed out loud. “Oh, my darling Gino, do you really think this attack is all about you? I’m doing this for the savior of Britannia and the world, but I’ll happily take you as a prize of war.” The duchess broke through his parry with a volley of rapid-fire Hadron bolts from the forearm guns of her mecha; blasting off the shoulder armor of Gino’s Okouchi as he used it to block the barrage and was forced back.
40Gino fired a triple-shot of energy discs from the Fukusha Hadou Kikou gunpod of his Okouchi. “I’m no one’s prize, Evita!”
40Their swords locked briefly before Evita spun her Victoria around and stabbed the left null-gravity generator of Gino’s machine, slowing it down. “Don’t resist, my love,” Evita cooed at Gino. “Soon you’ll be mine forever.” Her Victoria easily dodged another swing by Gino’s Okouchi and cut off the left arm and gunpod of his Type-24O.
40“Commander Weinberg!” Akira tried to get to Gino but eight more KMF Victoria-type mecha entered the battle and he could not break through.
40“Gino!” Anya cried out as she cut through another of the gray and black Victoria-type mecha. Lt. Alstreim nearly made it to assist Gino but was cut off by another KMF Victoria.
40“This is not a game, Evita!” Gino barked at the duchess as he slashed at her KMF. His Hadron Katana bounced off her Blaze Luminous shield.
40“Oh, but it is, my darling,” Evita said softly as she fired her MVS harken at his machine. The disc cut off the other arm of his Okouchi. “And I’ve won my prize,” she swooned as her Victoria thrust at his last null-gravity engine.
40“LIKE HELL YOU HAVE!” Kallen yelled at Evita as Guren grabbed onto the Hadron Saber. “Let’s see how you like this, you spoiled rotten brat!” Kozuki pushed the button that activated the Guren-Phoenix’s oversized claw-arm. “This is Guren’s SUPERNOVA!”
40The large copper-colored circular palm of the claw-arm glowed a gold color as it discharged a yellow-white wave of super-intense heat that melted the Hadron Saber instantly and washed over the KMF Victoria like liquid mercury; the anti-Hadron and Blaze Luminous shields of the mecha gave it some measure of protection from the attack allowing Evita to eject from the doomed machine just before it exploded.
40“Thanks, Kallen,” Gino told her with a sigh of relief. “I thought she had me for a minute there.”
40“Well, I did consider letting her run off with you,” Kallen teased him.
40“What?” Commander Weinberg scoffed.
40“But then I realized that the Yamato no Orochi wouldn’t be the same without you.” Kallen giggled. "Besides, I didn't want to give that little rich-bitch the pleasure of having you in her clutches when you're under my power now."
40“Really?” Gino was surprised. “Does this mean I owe you dinner after this is over?”
40Kallen smiled as she said softly, “Yes, Gino, I’d like that.”
40“Um, Captain Kozuki,” Anya interjected, breaking the mood, “I hate to interrupt you two, but we’ve got new contacts inbound.”


* * *

40"How many of them are there?" Zero asked Ohgi on the bridge of the Ikaruga.
40The familiar tone of Zero's voice stunned Ohgi Nu as the man's words sunk in. "Um...about one hundred unknowns diving in from four thousand meters above."
40"I see." Zero looked out at the fleet.
40"They're flying in a tight line formation that makes it hard for our main dorsal batteries to lock onto them," Ohgi informed Zero as the masked man walked up next to him.
40"Their target must be the Avalon," Zero stated flatly. "That's why they're not spreading out, and they’re coming in like dive-bombers." Zero turned to face Ohgi. "Move us into position directly above the Avalon. We can't have Schneizel capturing Empress Nunnally, or else he could gain complete control over Britannia, and this war will go on for decades to come."
40Ohgi nodded. "Understood, Zero."
40The Ikaruga moved from below the Avalon up and over it just as the legion of bronze-colored Automatos dove down into the battlespace.


* * *

40"Hey, Akira, aren't those your Greek buddies?" Mika called out to him as she cut down another Victoria-type KMF.
40"What the hell is Jason doing?" Akira spat in anger as he watched the Talos lead the line of Spartans down towards the Ikaruga. The aerial warship launched numerous Type-21 and Type-24 KMFs to intercept the attackers, but the Greeks began tearing through them quickly.
40"We'd better finish with Evita's forces soon if we're going to get over there to help the Ikaruga," Gregor said as he blasted another Victoria out of the sky using the chest-mounted Hadron Cannon of his Goro.
40"Where's Captain Kozuki?" Tetsuo asked as he riddled a pair of Vincent Wards that had flown into their airspace with the forearm cannon of his Goro; both Britannian machines were blown into metallic confetti.
40"She's flying Lt. Commander Weinberg's damaged Okouchi back to the Ikaruga," Anya said mechanically as she deflected a KMF Victoria's MVS harken disc with her own pair of MVS harkens. Lt. Alstreim followed up her parry with a hail of Hadron blasts that blew off the left leg and arm of the Victoria.
40"I hope she doesn't take too long," Gregor said as he dodged a hail of cannon shells from another Victoria. "We're going to run out of power soon if this keeps up."
40"Well, if it's any consolation, I'm back to help!" Lena's Goro blasted the Victoria that was attacking Gregor with her machine's chest-mounted Hadron Cannon. Lena unleashed her machine's pair of MVS harkens as soon as the Victoria was within range and cut the enemy mecha into four pieces, destroying it.
40"Where's Tamaki?" Anya inquired as she homed in on another Victoria.
40Lena dodged a barrage of cannon rounds from another enemy KMF before answering, "He's waiting for the deck crew to finish prepping his Type-21 Bushido for launch; Gino's Type-21 Samurai is also being prepared if you're wondering."
40"Thanks, Lena," Anya replied as she cut through the Victoria with a simple combination MVS harken/Hadron Katana attack.


* * *

40"They're not going to last long if we just hang here over the Avalon," the Red Dragon told Suzaku from within the cockpit of the Uriel.
40"I know," Kururugi stated impatiently in his Hakodeshim, the Gabriel. "However, we have no choice but to act as guard detail for the Avalon. All of the other KnightMare Frames of the Avalon are out fighting Evita's forces. We're Knights of the Empress, and thus we must remain here to defend her should these Greeks manage to break through our perimeter."
40"Yeah...but that doesn't change the fact that good men and women are dying up there, Suzaku," the Red Dragon lamented.
40Suzaku spoke in almost a whisper, "I know you want to save them all..."
40"Of course I do," she said. "Don't you?"
40"That's not what I meant," he replied. "There's something I've been meaning to ask you, Red Dragon."
40"It'll have to wait," she interrupted him. "Looks like they've broken through our guard forces."


* * *

40"Those are Archangels, Jason!" Heracles said as the Helios and Talos broke through towards the Avalon.
40"I do have eyes, old friend," Jason snickered.
40"I'll take the purple one," Heracles said.
40"No, Heracles," Jason said sternly. "I need you to lead the boarding party to capture the empress. I trust your levelheaded judgment, my friend, thus I need you to command the assault team."
40"Let Orpheus handle the boarding team; my place as lieutenant is by your side, Captain!" Heracles was not comfortable with Jason taking on two Hakodeshim by himself.
40"I understand your concern, Heracles, but I've twenty Spartans with me. That should be enough to handle these two," Jason said with confidence. He knew that even a highly experienced Hakodeshim pilot would be hard-pressed against his Kolossos and twenty Hoplite Spartans. Still, there were two of the Hebrew machines and that could present a problem. Jason had no other mecha at his disposal at that moment, as the rest of his legion was embroiled in battle with the other KMF defense forces of both the Ikaruga and the Avalon.
40"I hope you're right, Jason." Heracles was not comfortable with this plan. "I'll get my ten Spartans and Helios back to assist you as soon as we have the empress."
40"Very good, Heracles," Jason said. "And may the gods smile upon you in this endeavor."
40"And you also, Captain; Heracles out." With that, the Helios and ten Spartans broke off towards the Avalon while Jason and his twenty Hoplite Spartan Automatos moved in to attack the Uriel and Gabriel.


* * *

40"Here they come!" the Red Dragon exclaimed as the Talos led the twenty Spartans in a charge at the Hakodeshim.
40"Then let's say hello," Suzaku stated in a sarcastic tone as he pushed the trigger of his left control stick. Instantly, the swirling black energy within the blue crystal sphere on Gabriel’s left forearm became excited, and a flare of white light burst for a second like a flashbulb; a moment later, one of the Hoplite Spartans erupted from the inside out into a ball of flame.
40The Red Dragon followed suit and launched her own assault against the Spartans using Uriel’s forearm-mounted Solar Flare Cannons. She was stunned to see a radiant golden sphere shimmer around the two machines, blocking her attack.
40“They adapt quickly,” the Red Dragon told Suzaku.
40“Then we’ll have to adapt with them,” he said as he closed the gap with two of the closest Greek Automatos. Suzaku flew his Hakodeshim into a twirling spin and kicked the first Spartan, running the machine through with the shin-mounted Moon Blade of Gabriel’s left leg. Kururugi pulled Gabriel away from the doomed mecha just as the second machine fired its Chaos beam at his Archangel.
40The Chaos beam struck a faint blue radiance that surrounded the Gabriel in a globe and deflected the Spartan energy weapon.
40Suzaku had his Gabriel make a cross-armed gesture, in the manner of an Egyptian pharaoh, as it grabbed the handles of its Sun Swords. The red beam-blades of the pair of Sun Swords came to life almost as soon as the handles were removed from their shoulder-mounted sheathes.
40The Red Dragon did the same and unleashed her pair of blue beam-blades. She flew Uriel towards another pair of Spartans. She dodged their Chaos beams easily and sliced the Zeus Spear of one in two before chopping off the wings of the Automatos, sending it spiraling into the Hawaiian island below them. The Red Dragon noticed the Helios and ten Spartans landing on the Avalon below them.
40“Suzaku, they’ve breeched the Avalon’s defenses!” the Red Dragon exclaimed in a panic.
40“Nunnally,” Kururugi said aloud as he cut another Hoplite in two. “We need to get down there!” Suzaku remarked as he started towards the Avalon with Gabriel. His flight path was blocked by the Talos.
40“Going somewhere so soon?” Jason asked him over the comm. as he parried a Sun Sword attack by Suzaku with the adamantine blade of Talos.
40“Why are you helping Schneizel?” Suzaku demanded as they crossed swords numerous times.
40“Helping Schneizel?” Jason laughed. “Who told you I was helping that fool. I serve a nobler leader, and she demands that we seize this empress of Britannia to put a stop to this needless conflict.”
40“By using Nunnally as a hostage?” the Red Dragon barked over the channel as she dodged three Chaos beams from a triad of Spartans that were tag-teaming her and forcing her away from Jason and Suzaku.
40“If necessary,” Jason lamented as Talos dodged a spin kick by Gabriel. Jason spun the wings of Talos at an angle and chopped off one of Gabriel’s Moon Blades. Jason followed up the attack with a blast from his Chaos Gun, which seared into the frontal armor of Suzaku’s Hakodeshim but did not penetrate it.
40“You don’t sound convinced of you mistress’ plan of action,” Suzaku tried to reason with the Greek.
40“My personal feelings about it are none of your business,” Jason replied as he maneuvered around the Gabriel, dodging three Solar Flare attacks by Suzaku.
40“Well, if you intend on being that way about it, then I see no choice but to defeat you here and now.” Suzaku sliced off the Hermes Wing unit on the left leg of Talos as Jason tried to dodge Kururugi’s twin-blade combination attack.
40Jason used the momentum of Suzaku’s assault to his advantage and flipped Talos up over behind Gabriel. The Talos thrust its adamantine blade towards the back of the Hakodeshim.
40“You fight well, but it would seem you don’t have much experience in that machine,” Jason said to Suzaku as Kururugi tried to dodge the blade thrust. The adamantine weapon pierced the top of the right-side energy wing tube of the Gabriel causing it to shoot a jet of green energy up and backwards sending the Gabriel out of control.
40“Damn you!” Suzaku cursed as he tried to regain control of the Hakodeshim.
40“Suzaku!” the Red Dragon called out over the radio as she fought back the two remaining Spartans that doggedly pursued her while the Gabriel plummeted towards the shoreline of Hawaii.


* * *

40"C'mon!" Tamaki yelled at the flight crew as he waited for them to finish loading the gunpod onto the nose of the KMF in its jet fighter mode. "What's taking you guys so long?"
40"We're almost finished, Lieutenant," the deck officer told him as the Ikaruga shook violently from another hit.
40"Hurry up! They need me out there!" Tamaki demanded as Gino's Type-21J was brought up into the launch position.
40"Sorry, Lt. Shinichiro, but we had to prepare Commander Weinberg's unit immediately," the deck officer informed him.
40The Type-21J flew out of the hangar with a tremendous burst of speed that caused the flight crew to rush out of the way of the back-blast and Tamaki to hold onto the railing in front of him.
40“What the hell is Gino doing?” Tamaki blurted out as the Guren-Phoenix passed by the Type-21J holding Gino’s Okouchi in its arms. Tamaki looked at the Type-24O in Guren’s arms then at the rapidly shrinking rear of the Type-21J that had rushed out of the hangar.
40Kallen landed the Guren and popped her hatch. “Gino needs another KMF immediately!” she demanded of the deck chief.
40The man stared out the hangar with a blank expression.
40“Gino just left, Kallen,” Tamaki yelled at her.
40Kallen gave him a puzzled look as the Type-24O’s hatch opened up and Gino stood up. “I’m right here, Tamaki.”
40Tamaki was dumbfounded. “If you’re here…then who the hell was that?”


* * *

40“Somebody just stole a Type-21 out of the hangar deck!” Villetta called out from the lower level of the bridge of Ikaruga.
40Ohgi and Zero looked down at her from the mezzanine of the bridge.
40“What?” Ohgi asked flabbergasted. “Who the heck would do that in the middle of a battle?”
40“I wonder,” Zero stated flatly as C.C. came running into the bridge.
40She was out of breath as she spoke, “I’m sorry…I couldn’t stop him.”
40“Damn him,” Zero muttered.
40“Who?” Ohgi demanded from both of them in frustration.


* * *

40“It’s a pity it has to end this way,” Jason said as he knocked one of the Sun Swords out of Uriel’s left hand. “I don’t like fighting women.”
40“But you don’t mind kidnapping them?” the Red Dragon asked spitefully as she tried to stab at the faceplate of Talos with her remaining Sun Sword.
40“I do what I must,” Jason told her as he maneuvered in and grabbed hold of Uriel’s left arm with his machine’s adamantine claw and started crushing it.
40A hail of energy discs cut through the elbow joint of Talos, severing the left limb and freeing the Uriel.
40“What the?“ Jason exclaimed as a lone Type-21J flew through the ten remaining Spartans with incredible speed and precision easily dodging their attacks and destroying two of them with a combination of Gefjun missiles and energy disc volleys as it closed in on Talos.
40“Is this a private party or can anybody join in?” Enoch called over the radio as the Type-21J transformed into KnightMare mode and drew its pair of Blade-Luminous katanas.
40“YOU!” Jason remarked in a fury as he parried six lightning fast attacks by the Blade-Luminous katanas of the Samurai.
40“Red Dragon, get to Suzaku,” Enoch said calmly as his Type-21J went into a combat stance with one katana over its head and the other at its hip both pointing towards the Talos.
40Talos moved into its own combat stance. “I know better than to fight you alone, Godakeen,” Jason sneered over the radio as his eight remaining Spartans formed up behind him, four flanking Talos on each side.
40“Nine to one, huh?” Enoch snickered. “Looks like the odds are against you…Jason.”

Kodai Okuda
09-26-2010, 03:49 AM
Turn Eighteen: Revelations

40“I couldn’t help but look up at the cobalt blue sky over the Britannian settlement of Japan that day as Euphemia li Britannia prepared to address the masses of Elevens that now sat within the stadium of the Japan Special Administrative Zone.
40It was 2017 a.t.b. and Lelouch had his Rebellion in full swing at this point.
40My gut told me that he’d do something stupid...his type so often does.
40I’d met him at Ashford, though we never actually talked outside of a few passing words in class. I was fully aware that he used his Geass like a kid with a shinny new BB gun, but there was nothing I could do about it at that time.
40I was keeping a low profile back then and was simply shadowing him, watching his every move, both as Lelouch Lamperouge and Zero.
40That cloak-suit that the Major lent me sure came in handy. I’ll have to thank her the next time we meet, if we do.
40‘Are you almost ready, Princess?’ Darlton had asked Euphemia as he double-checked with his security forces around the arena via a comlink he held in his hand.
40She simply nodded as she drank down her cup of tea.
40Neither one of them knew I was there, so Euphemia didn’t see the packet of medical nanomachines I dropped into her cup of Earl Grey before she drank it down, just in case her brother got any funny ideas in that fool skull of his.
40Euphemia was too valuable to risk loosing.
40Besides, I’d hate for that voluptuous viceroy sister of hers to go on a mad rampage if worse came to worst and Euphemia took a dirt nap.
40Anyway, I slipped Euphie a Mickey to ensure that nothing happened...although in retrospect, it didn’t work out exactly as I had planned.” —Excerpt from Enoch’s World of Geass report to Metatron, dated October 25th, 5.00312 GS (Galactic Standard)

40“Wow, I’m impressed by how orderly your Spartans charge to their doom,” Enoch taunted Jason as he cut down the first pair of Automatos with the twin Blade-Luminous katana of his Type-21J Samurai as they flew towards him.
40“You won’t stop us, Enoch!” Jason spat at him as he flew the Talos around and thrust the great adamantine sword at the Samurai.
40“If you only knew how many times I’ve heard that,” Enoch said sarcastically as he moved the Type-21J slightly to the side allowing the blade of the Talos to slip past the chest of the Samurai. Enoch fired the left forearm MVS harken of his Type-21J at the faceplate of the Talos; the blade impacted the mirrored surface and shattered it revealing the large circular sensor-lens beneath.
40“And this shall be the last time you hear it!” Jason spun the Talos to cut the Samurai in half at the waist, but the Type-21S flipped upwards at the last moment in a summersault over the top of Talos.
40“Yah, yah, and then the world will be yours,” Enoch laughed. “Tin-plated dictators and their misguided legions of warriors are a dime a dozen…I should know, I used to be one.” The Type-21S came out of the ball it was in and slashed the wings off a Spartan that tried to come to Jason’s aid; sending the machine spiraling out of control to the island below them as two more Spartans lunged at Enoch.
40“You dare to mock me?” Jason fired the Chaos beam of the Talos at the Samurai.
40Enoch’s Type-21S kicked one of the Spartans it was dueling with into the path of the beam and used it as a shield while the Type-21S dodged out of the way. “Nice shot, old man!” Enoch guffawed.
40“BASTARD!” The Talos flew at the Samurai at high speed to cut the Type-21S with its wing blades, but the KnightMare Frame transformed into jet mode and boosted out of the way at the last moment.
40“Oh, don’t get mad, Jason.” Enoch riddled two more Spartans with a combination of Gefjun missiles and Hadron Cannon blasts as he dove down at the Talos and its two remaining Hoplites, blasting through their Aegis shields with the missiles and then cutting the Hoplite Automatos to ribbons with the Hadron beams.
40“We all make mistakes.” Enoch weaved through the hail of Hades Cannon fire that the last two Spartans sent at him and transformed his KnightMare right next to the two machines, unsheathing the Samurai’s pair of Blade-Luminous katanas almost simultaneously and cutting both Spartans in half in one fluid motion.
40“Like biting off more than we can chew,” Enoch said as only his Samurai and the Talos remained hovering over the Avalon.
40“You’re a daemon from Hades,” Jason cursed.
40“Not quite…” Enoch laughed. “I was too evil for Heaven.” He moved the Type-21S into a combat stance with one blade held in reverse by the left hand, pointing to the rear, and the other blade up in a salute in the right hand. “And hell was worried I’d take over.”


* * *

40“Jeremiah, you need to get the empress out of there now,” Zero told the Knight of Orange over the viewscreen of the main observation deck of the Avalon. The battle between Enoch and Jason could be seen raging outside the windows.
40“I realize that, Zero, but she’s…” Jeremiah was cut short by Nunnally.
40“SHE is not going to abandon the battle like a scared little girl just because Zero says so!” Nunnally glared at him.
40“Have you gone mad?” Zero barked at her. “The Avalon has been boarded by the enemy. It’s only a matter of time before they make it to your position.”
40“Well, if you’re so worried about me, Zero, then get over here and help repel them yourself.” Nunnally was intentionally trying to stall Zero. She had her own plan in this, and the empress would not be deterred. Nunnally could feel the intentions of the Greeks as they got closer to her upon the Avalon. They were not malevolent, of that she was certain.
40“DAMN IT, NUNNALLY!” Zero lost his patience as Villetta frantically told Ohgi that Evita’s forces had wiped out their perimeter KnightMare units. “There isn’t any more time for argument!”
40“Well, then you’d better get a move on…huh?” Nunnally sneered as she thought to herself, You are wrong, Zero; Schneizel is not the force behind this attack. I know it…there is someone else and I intend to find out who.
40“This isn’t a stupid game!!” Zero lost control of his voice, causing Ohgi and Villetta to glance over at him with a puzzled look. His sister had a way of disrupting his ability to maintain self-control, and right now she was doing a fine job of bending it all out of shape.
40“Really?” Nunnally raised an eyebrow. “I believe you once said all struggles were comparable to chess, did you not?”
40“What?” Zero was taken off guard. He thought to himself, Damn it, Nunnally, what are you doing? “Fine, I’m coming over there to get you.”
40“You’d better hurry up.” Nunnally gave him a wicked smile as she cut the transmission.
40Zero spun and faced Captain Nu. “Ohgi, get me a Type-21 immediately.”
40“Zero, you can’t,” Ohgi said defiantly to him. “I won’t allow it.”
40Zero balked at Ohgi’s exercise of authority. “Ohgi, surely you understand that if Schneizel captures Nunnally, then he will have the upper hand.”
40Ohgi frowned at him. “I do, Zero, but you should realize that if you leave this ship, then Duchess Evita Ernst will no longer need to stay her hand against the Ikaruga. I cannot jeopardize this vessel on account of your feelings for the empress or your overall strategy.”
40“You don’t understand the overall strategy,” Zero barked at him.
40“Perhaps not, but I don’t have to,” Ohgi retorted. “My responsibility is to this ship and its crew, not to obey your every whim.”
40“This is not the time for a discussion; give me a KMF now!” Zero demanded.
40Ohgi walked over and grabbed Zero by the lapel, pulling his mask up to his face. “I followed you once with the hope that you’d liberate the world, and you fled the battlefield like a coward chasing after that sister of yours…” Ohgi glared at him as he spoke so only Zero could hear him over the din of the bridge. “…Lelouch. I don’t know how it is that you’re still alive, but there is no mistaking your voice. I know it’s you, and I’m telling you now that I will not allow you to abandon us again. Geass or not, I will not follow a coward.”
40Lelouch cursed himself for being so stupid. He had let Nunnally get to him and in doing so revealed his identity to a man who knew him far too well. Lelouch thought about using his Geass on Ohgi but remembered what Enoch had told him only a few hours ago: Remember, Lelouch, your true friends are your greatest assets. A hero never betrays them. Lelouch knew he had betrayed Ohgi that day over Tokyo when he fled the battlefield to rescue Nunnally, and Ohgi had in turn betrayed him to Schneizel because of it; it was time to correct that injustice.
40“You’re right, Ohgi.” Lelouch gambled on the man’s integrity. “I was wrong to abandon you and the Black Knights during the Black Rebellion. Please forgive me. I will not abandon my responsibility to my friends now”
40Ohgi was shocked by his admission. Captain Nu let go of Zero’s lapel and put his hand on Zero’s shoulder. “We’re both guilty of betrayal, my friend. Let us put the past behind us and do what we must…together.”
40“Agreed,” Zero nodded.
40Ohgi smiled at him, “What are your orders, Zero?”


* * *

40The Uriel flew as fast as its energy wings would take it towards the point where the Gabriel had impacted the shoreline of Hawaii.
40“Suzaku…Suzaku!” the Red Dragon's electronic voice called over the radio. She looked frantically at the coastline until she saw the place where the Gabriel had crashed.
40The Hakodeshim was half in and half out of the water.
40The Red Dragon piloted Uriel down onto the sand just next to the Gabriel and opened her Archangel’s front cockpit hatch as quickly as she could. The woman jumped down from her machine and ran over to the Gabriel.
40Suzaku’s mecha was laying on its side with the cockpit hatch open revealing the pilot. Kururugi was lying limp in the seat of the Hakodeshim with his head hanging forward.
40The Red Dragon rushed over and pulled him from the machine onto the sand.
40She checked his wrist for a pulse and then put her hand above his mouth to check his vitals.
40“He’s not breathing!” she said frantically. "I don't have any choice," she lamented aloud to herself.
40The Red Dragon unfastened the back of her mask and pulled the helmet off her head; a mass of pink hair, dyed red halfway down where it came out of the helmet, spilled out over her shoulders.
40She opened Suzaku's mouth, pinched his nose shut, and filled her cheeks with air. The Red Dragon put her lips to his and blew into his lungs. She waited for his chest to swell then pushed down on it to facilitate resuscitation.
40The Red Dragon put her lips to Kururugi's to refill Suzaku's lungs again when she felt his chest move on its own. She blew air into his mouth. He coughed and then began to breathe on his own.
40Suzaku put his hands on her shoulders and moved her back off of him slowly. His eyelids lifted slightly then shot wide upon seeing the angelic face of the woman who smiled down at him.
40"Hi," she said softly as her eyes softened.
40"Am I dead?" Suzaku asked in disbelief.
40She shook her head as tears welled in her eyes. "No," she said softly.
40"But how?" Suzaku said as her tears fell on his face.
40"It's a long story," the Red Dragon answered him with a meek smile as emotion overwhelmed her and she threw her arms around him. "Oh, how I've missed you, Suzaku!"
40Kururugi hugged her tight. "My life lost its meaning when I lost you...Euphie."


* * *

40"Anytime you feel like actually fighting, you let me know, Jason," Enoch bellowed as he blocked the adamantine blade of Talos with one of his katanas and then cut the left leg of the Kolossos off with the other of his Blade-Luminous katanas.
40"You may kill me, Enoch, but we'll still achieve our objective!" Jason sneered as he blocked another thrust by the Type-21J.
40"Kill you?" Enoch snickered. "When did I day anything about killing you? You're too much fun for me to do something rude like that." He laughed as he easily dodged another blast from the Chaos beam of Talos.
40"Stop patronizing me!" Jason attempted another spin blade attack with the wings of Talos.
40"I've done no such thing," Enoch said calmly as he used the twin katanas of his Samurai to chop through one of the wingtip blades of Talos. "I've simply bought my young apprentice the time he needs to ensure his success."
40"Apprentice? As if I'd know what you mean. How obscure of you," Jason said as he saw an opening in Enoch's defense and thrust for one of the graviton-impellers of the Type-21J.
40"Just like my fighting style," Enoch retorted as he shifted the Samurai down ever so slightly so that the adamantine blade slipped past the graviton-impeller, scratching the paint off the top of the nacelle, and allowed the Type-21J to bring both Blade-Luminous katanas up in a scissor formation under the last arm of Talos. "I keep my moves short and sweet in order to throw my opponents off balance."
40The pair of katanas cut through the elbow joint of Talos' sword arm, leaving the Kolossos without arms entirely.
40"Now to finish this and deal with your comrades." Enoch spun his Samurai out of the way of another Chaos beam attack by the Talos and cut the left wing off the Kolossos with its katana.
40"Damn you!" Jason cursed as he lost control of the Talos.
40Enoch's Type-21J did a spin kick into the back of the Kolossos that sent the Talos flying so that it crashed into the top deck of the Avalon.
40Enoch Apsu saw smoke coming from the joints of the Greek machine. "Jason, get out of there. This fight is over..." Enoch waited a moment. "Jason....Jason!"
40"Oh, son of a...." Enoch drove his KnightMare onto the deck of the Avalon and popped open its cockpit hatch. He leapt to the ground and ran over to the fallen Automatos.
40The amber-eyed man scaled the large burning machine and made his way over to the Devicer hatch; he turned the emergency lever but nothing happened.
40"Confounded Greek junk," Enoch complained as he punched his fist through the metal of the cockpit hatch at its seam and ripped back the door with brute strength revealing the interior of the cockpit.
40"Come to finish me off with your bare hands, have you?" Jason spat blood at him from the wound on the inside of his cheek. The Greek's uniform was torn at his right shoulder and his arm looked broken.
40"No, you twit, I'm here to save you from this scrap heap before it explodes." Enoch grabbed Jason and carried him in his arms away from the burning mecha.
40The machine exploded on the top deck of the Avalon sending metal shards flying in every direction.
40Enoch used his body to shield Jason as large pieces of adamantine tore through Apsu's uniform, bouncing off his skin with a distinct metallic ping, leaving the surface of his body unharmed by the shrapnel.
40"You alive?" Enoch asked Jason.
40Jason looked up at him. "I hate you."
40Enoch smiled, "I'll take that as a yes."


* * *

40"Hold them back!" Jeremiah yelled as the party of Greek invaders shot at the last of the group of airman that comprised the Avalon's security force. The Greek warriors carried with them a short, spear-like weapon that had a hole at the end where a spear tip should be. From that hole spewed forth Hades Cannon energy that burned through flesh with ease and made for an effective assault weapon.
40The Avalon crew fired salvo after salvo of auto-rifle rounds at the boarders, but their bullets were deflected by a personal Aegis shield that each of the Greek phalanx carried with them.
40Within moments, the Greeks had finished off the Avalon defenders and left Nunnally, Jeremiah, Lihua, and Kaguya cornered within the observation room of the ship.
40"I won't let you harm the empress!" the Knight of Orange yelled as he unsheathed his swords and prepared to attack.
40Nunnally put her hand on his arm. "No, Jeremiah, they don't mean me any harm."
40"How do you know that, Empress?" Jeremiah asked her as he watched the Greek line part to allow a tall, brawny, olive-skinned, bearded man dressed in a Greek Devicer jumpsuit to walk forward.
40"That's a good question," the bearded man said. "How do you know our intent? Perhaps we're here to kill you."
40Jeremiah scowled at him but said nothing.
40Nunnally gave him a reserved smile. "You're lying. You're not here to harm me. I know because I can feel it."
40"Feel it?" the man gasped as a second, somewhat shorter, Greek Devicer came up behind him.
40The two exchanged wide-eyed looks.
40"Tell me, Empress, do you know my name?" the tall bearded man asked.
40Nunnally closed her eyes and thought hard for a moment before answering. "You are Heracles and the one beside you is Orpheus."
40To Jeremiah's surprise, the Greeks knelt down before her. "Forgive us for this crude manner in which we first meet, Empress Nunnally. We had no idea you were an Oracle."
40Nunnally was relieved inside. Zero told her the names of the Greek commanders during a mission briefing they had together prior to their departure from Japan, but she didn’t know what any of them looked like; her feelings had been right about these two.
40"You have come here to take me to your leader," Nunnally said to Heracles.
40"Yes, Empress," Heracles told her truthfully. "And you will be unharmed."
40"Very well," Nunnally told him. "I will go with you if you promise to halt this attack and withdraw."
40Heracles bowed to her. "I can only promise that our forces will withdraw, but I cannot speak for those of Schneizel."
40“The UFN can deal with Evita,” Lihua told Nunnally with a smirk. “Xingke’s fleet should be here any moment.”
40“How do you know that?” Kaguya asked the Tianzi in surprise.
40Jiang shrugged with a sheepish grin. “We’ve been planning on seeing each other when he gets here. I spoke to him only a few hours ago.”
40An explosion rocked the ship, shattering the large windows of the observation deck that were above them and showering the room with small bits of glass.
40“Empress!” Jeremiah shielded Nunnally, Lihua and Kaguya from the rain of tiny glass particles with his body.
40“It appears Evita is attacking the Avalon directly,” Sumeragi said to Nunnally.
40Nunnally shook her head and spoke in a distant voice. “No…that was the KnightMare of the one called Jason.”
40“Jason?” Heracles asked as he heard his captain’s name leave her lips. “What has become of him?”
40“He is injured,” Nunnally told him with a far-off look in her eyes.
40“Where?” Orpheus asked.
40“The top deck, near the dorsal KnightMare launch bay,” Nunnally told them.
40“Orpheus, you take the empress and her party to our Automatos and get them safely to the Argos. I’ll go and find Jason.” Heracles didn’t wait for a reply before sprinting out of the room.
40Orpheus turned to Nunnally and her companions. “Shall we go?”


* * *

40“Kallen, I want you, Tamaki, and Gino to bypass the battle surrounding the Ikaruga and use the superior speed of your KMFs to infiltrate Duchess Ernst’s fleet,” Zero said over the radio as the Guren-Phoenix and its two Type-21B Bushido Variable KMF wingmen were loaded into position on the ventral KMF launch ramps.
40“Roger that, Zero. Does this mean we’re taking her out?” Kallen inquired as she scanned over her sensors for the best flight path to the Longres class flagship of Evita.
40“No, we need her alive,” Zero replied. “I want you to disable her ship’s graviton-impellers and force it to land in the ocean off the shore of Hawaii. That way we can board her with impunity and capture the duchess.”
40“That should be pretty easy,” Tamaki boasted.
40“I hope you’re right,” Gino tittered.
40“Don’t worry, Zero,” Kallen reassured him. “This is no different then when we Black Knights tried to capture Viceroy Nunnally while she was on her way back to Japan from Britannia.”
40“Oh, geez,” Gino laughed. “I remember that; you guys attacked the ship using KMFs without float units. You were nuts!”
40“Just think how crazy I’ll be with a flight-capable KMF,” Kallen teased Gino.
40"Ahem," Zero interjected. "Are you ready?"
40"We were born ready!" Tamaki exclaimed as his Type-21B tore off the launch ramp.
40"You gotta hand it to him," Kallen laughed, "he's got guts." Guren-Phoenix boosted off after Tamaki with Gino right behind her.


* * *

40"Oh, stop whining!" Enoch scolded Jason who winced slightly while Enoch bandaged up his arm. The two men were at the mouth of an airlock that led into the Avalon; Enoch knelt next to Jason who sat on the metal deck.
40"Why did you save me?" Jason asked him coldly.
40Enoch gave him a grave look. "Because these hands have more blood on them than I care to think about, so I save all the ones I can. Machines are replaceable, people are not."
40"But you killed my comrades," Jason retorted.
40Enoch scowled at him. "I wouldn't have if your people had fitted those damnable Automatos with ejection devices."
40Jason turned away from him. "You have no honor."
40Enoch shook his head as he finished the tourniquet. "Perhaps not by your standards, Greek, but I've virtue aplenty by my code, and that's all I care about."
40Jason looked behind Enoch as he spoke to him, "Clearly we are from different worlds."
40Enoch stood up above him. "Indeed we are...wouldn't you agree, Heracles?" Enoch Apsu turned to face the large, bearded, Greek warrior as he approached with his sword drawn.
40"Move away from the Captain, Daemon!" Heracles spat at Enoch.
40Enoch stepped away cautiously. "Oh, come now, you should realize I wouldn't bandage him up if I intended him any harm, Heracles."
40The twin sigils of Geass formed in Heracles’ eyes. "Now you will face me!" Heracles leapt high into the air towards Enoch with his sword over his head.
40Enoch did a backwards flip out of the way of Heracles' adamantine blade. The amber-eyed man landed squarely on his feet and paced off with the Greek warrior, moving himself towards the Type-21B.
40"Why don't you face me with honor instead of running like a hyena?" Heracles lunged towards Enoch with his blade.
40Enoch dodged the attack easily and got in front of the KMF. "Because I'd rather use my brains for more than senseless fighting." Enoch jumped up into the open cockpit and shut it, powering up the machine as soon as he entered it.
40Heracles used his power of Geass and rammed the machine's leg in a rage of superhuman strength, causing the mecha to fall down on its haunches.
40Enoch snickered over the comm. as his KMF got up and lifted off the deck, "Wish I could stay and play with you, Heracles, but I've got an empress to save."
40Enoch took off from the dorsal deck of the Avalon and headed for where the squad of Greek Automatos was parked.


* * *

40Zero watched the mass of digital KMFs on the overhead screen of the Ikaruga as Kallen and her two wingmen made their way past the defense lines of Evita's forces.
40"Ohgi, fire our Hadrons twenty degrees below Kallen’s strike team and take out that frigate and their KMF escorts."
40Captain Nu nodded to the gunnery officer, and a moment later, the main cannons of the Ikaruga blazed forth a dual stream of Hadron energy that destroyed the frigate and her group of forty KnightMares.
40"Looks like Anya and Akira have shot down another aerial-frigate of Evita's fleet," Villetta said with a proud look towards Ohgi and Zero. "That should give Captain Kozuki a clear path to the flagship now."
40"Excellent work, Villetta," Zero complimented her as he watched Evita's forces send in another group of KnightMares to contend with the Yamato no Orochi.
40"Zero." Major Nu looked at him intently. "Akira and his team are nearly out of ammunition, and their energy fillers are less then half full. They can't keep this up much longer."
40Zero turned to face her. "They don't have to." Dozens of squadrons of Type-21Os screamed past the viewports of the Ikaruga.
40Ohgi smiled at Villetta as he declared, "Zero, General Xingke's forces have arrived."
40Zero raised his head towards the viewscreen as the digital silhouettes of the newcomers were added. "Excellent, the first task at hand has been cleared."


* * *

40"Lena, watch out!" Akira yelled as Susano-O used its Hadron Masmune to slice through the KMF Victoria that tried to cut her Goro down with its saber.
40“Thanks, Akira,” she said as she parried a hail of autocannon rounds with the shoulder shield of her Goro, “but I don’t think my machine can take any more of this; my power meter is in the red.”
40“Mine too there, boss!” Gregor announced as he dueled with another Victoria.
40“Same here,” Mika informed them.
40Anya split another Victoria in half at the waist with her Okouchi’s Hadron Katana. “Don’t worry, we won’t have much longer to wait until—” She was cut short by a hail of autocannon rounds ripping through her machine.
40“ANYA!” Tetsuo screamed as he raced his Goro to catch her falling mecha.
40The offending Victoria swooped in to finish off her Okouchi.
40Tetsuo pushed his machine to maximum speed and rammed the KMF Victoria, sending the Britannian machine flying.
40The Britannian recovered quickly and fired its autocannon at Tetsuo.
40Tetsuo rolled out of the way of the barrage and dove at the enemy mecha with his Hadron Katana. In moments, the two machines crossed swords.
40Tetsuo blocked and parried the Victoria’s blows, but the enemy pilot used his MVS harken to force Tetsuo’s Goro backwards. The Victoria knocked the Hadron Katana from the hands of Tetsuo’s Goro with its MVS harken disc and prepared to slice him in two when a blade chopped through the enemy unit at the waist.
40The pilot of the Victoria ejected right before his machine exploded.
40Lt. Alstreim’s Okouchi was floating behind the detonation.
40“Thanks for helping me, Tetsuo,” Anya’s cool voice came over the radio.
40“Uh…you’re welcome,” Tetsuo stuttered. “Hey, Lieutenant Alstreim…uh…could I buy you a drink when we get back?”
40Anya was taken off guard by his sudden offer and nearly got hit by a volley of autocannon rounds from another enemy unit. “Are you asking me out?”
40“Well…kinda,” Tetsuo said sheepishly.
40“Oh, just ask her, you IDIOT!” Mika yelled at him over the comm. as she slashed through another KMF Victoria.
40Anya giggled.
40“Yes, Lieutenant Alstreim!” Tetsuo yelled over the radio. “I’d like very much to take you out…err…to diner…or something.”
40“I’d love to go out with you, Tetsuo,” Anya replied as two squadrons of Type-21Os dove into the battlespace and hammered Evita’s forces with their weapons.
40“Hey, you guys look like you could use a hand,” Rivalz said with a chuckle. “Let us handle the rest of this from here…besides, sounds to me like somebody’s got a hot date after this.”
40“You heard that, Major Ashford?” Anya asked embarrassed.
40Rivalz laughed, “Just be thankful my wife isn’t here…she’d hound you for eternity to get the inside scoop on the love lives of the Yamato no Orochi.”
40“You heard the man,” Akira said with relief over the radio. “Let’s get back to the Ikaruga at once.”


* * *

40“Well, hello there, Orpheus!” Enoch called out over the external speaker of his Type-21J as it cut an empty Spartan Automatos down before its pilot could reach it.
40The Greeks were running towards their machines with Nunnally, Lihua, Kaguya, and Jeremiah in tow.
40“YOU!” Orpheus yelled at Enoch as the Greek made it to his mecha and activated the machine. Orpheus shut the hatch and used the loudspeaker of his Spartan to speak to his men. “Get the empress and her companions to your machines. I’ll deal with this daemon.”
40“You Greeks keep labeling me that. What gives?” Enoch asked as he moved in to disable Orpheus’ Spartan with his Blade-Luminous katana.
40“You deserve that title, fiend,” Orpheus said with venom. “A thing which lives yet cannot be killed is certainly an evil thing…even gods can die!” Orpheus’ Spartan dodged the pair of katanas.
40“Only false gods die, Orpheus,” Enoch snickered, “and only men are fool enough to think they can ever be gods.” Apsu’s Samurai slashed at the Automatos, but Orpheus backed his machine away dodging the attack.
40“So, you think you’re a god now is that it?” Orpheus fired a volley of Hades bolts form the lance of his Spartan.
40“If you’d seen what my eyes have seen, Orpheus, you’d know I’m not even close.” Enoch fired a hail of Hadron blasts from the shoulder cannons of his Type-21J at the Spartan, but Orpheus continued to roll out of the way.
40“So, you’re not a god, nor a daemon. What, pray tell, are you then?” Orpheus demanded as he fired his Chaos beam at the Type-21J.
40“A man,” Enoch dodged the beam easily as he replied in a somber tone, “who wanted to be a god…then changed his mind.”
40“Sounds pathetic.” Orpheus moved out of the way of another burst of Hadron blasts from the Type-21J. “So, now you’re just a vagabond?”
40Enoch knew Orpheus was trying to lead him away from the Avalon to buy time for Heracles and Jason to get to the Helios. What the Greeks didn’t know was that was part of Lelouch’s plan to take all the Greeks and Evita at once.
40Enoch saw Heracles use his Geass power of strength to leap with Jason in his arms from the portside KMF launch ramp to the starboard one. Enoch had given in to the Greek’s ruse long enough. “No, Orpheus,” Enoch answered the man’s question, “I’m an enforcer now…think of me as a sort of interdimensional cop.” Apsu transformed his machine into jet mode and flipped it over away from Orpheus.
40“Where are you going, coward?” Orpheus demanded as the Type-21J zoomed back towards the Avalon.
40“You didn’t actually think I’d fall for that, did you?” Enoch laughed as his Type-21J came up over the Avalon and transformed back into a KnightMare; it landed on the deck between the Greeks and their Automatos. “I was just buying time with this little escapade.”
40A flight of forty Type-21Os in jet mode, led by a blue and red Type-21S Shogun, flew down from above the Ikaruga and surrounded the Avalon’s top deck.
40Orpheus rushed his Spartan back towards where his men were trying to load Kaguya and Lihua into a pair of Spartans.


* * *

40“I don’t’ want to go!” Lihua yelled at the Greeks as she struggled to pull away from them.
40The blue Shogun transformed into KnightMare mode and landed next to them with a pair of Type-21Os flanking it.
40“Release your captives and I’ll spare you lives!” a male voice sounded over the blue Shogun’s loudspeaker.
40“Xingke!!” Lihua exclaimed with relief.
40“Leave them,” the current leader of the Greeks said. “We have what we came here for. We don’t need these two.”
40“As you wish, Pollux,” one of the Greek Hoplites holding onto Lihua and Kaguya said as he obeyed. The two women were let go; Lihua fell backwards and was caught by Sumeragi.
40The Greeks raced towards their machines.
40“Fools!” Xingke said as he fired the forearm-mounted rapid-fire Hadron Cannon of his machine’s left forearm; he aimed to stop the Greeks from reaching their machines, not gun them down.
40A large adamantine disc flew at the blue Shogun, nearly cutting Xingke’s KMF in half before he dodged at the last moment.
40“Get out of here, Argonauts!” Heracles bellowed over the external speaker of the Helios as he fired his Chaos beam at Xingke and his escort; one of the Type-21Os was hit by the energy blast and destroyed.
40The Helios swung its mighty adamantine club at the blue Shogun, but a pair of Blade-Luminous katanas stopped it from hitting its mark.
40“You guys still here?” Enoch snickered. “I thought you’d have left by now.”
40Orpheus landed his machine next to the Helios. “Not without the empress, Nunnally.”
40Type-21Os landed on all sides of the small party of Greek machines with their gunpods aimed at them.
40“You’re not going anywhere,” Xingke said over the radio.
40“Don’t be so sure about that, General Xingke,” Heracles tittered over the radio as a green wave of energy washed over the top of the Avalon.
40“This can’t be good,” Enoch said aloud as all the systems of his KnightMare shut down. He could see the other Type-21s all around him falling to their knees and shutting down.
40“Until we meet again, Enoch Apsu,” Jason said over the comm. of the Helios. “Argonauts, back to the ship at once!”
40“You win this round, Jason, but I’ll be sure to catch up to you soon,” Enoch said in a snide tone as he watched the small troop of Greek Automatos fly off the Avalon unopposed with Nunnally and Jeremiah in their clutches.


* * *

40“Zero, we’re almost to Evita’s flagship,” Kallen said as her Guren-Phoenix blasted through three KMF Victorias with its disc rifle gunpod. The Longres class aerial-dreadnaught was moving away from the battlefield.
40“Looks like she’s gotten scared of us and is running away!” Tamaki laughed.
40“Don’t be so sure about that,” Gino cautioned as the wave of green energy washed over their KMFs; the flagship of the duchess was outside the wave.
40As soon as the green light touched the Type-21 KnightMares, their systems began to shut down.
40“Kallen, I’ve lost power!” Tamaki yelled as his KMF plummeted for the ocean below him.
40“My power’s gone too!” Gino called over the radio.
40The Guren-Phoenix was unaffected by the wave of energy. “You two, eject and I’ll pick you up!” Kallen told them as she flew her twelfth-generation KMF down towards them. Her machine was not responding correctly, making flying a bit difficult, but she still had power.
40Tamaki and Gino each pulled on the ejection levers below their seats. Instantly, the cockpit canopies of both fighters blew off and the Devicer chairs were shot out of the doomed KnightMares. A few moments later, a parachute deployed on the top of each chair, allowing the ejection device to float down slowly towards the ocean.
40Kallen swooped down towards Tamaki’s ejected Devicer seat and scooped him up. “You okay, Tamaki?” she asked over the exterior speaker of Guren.
40Tamaki responded with a raised arm and a thumbs-up.
40Kallen panned around just in time to see a pair of KMF Victorias pick up Gino in his ejection seat. “GINO!” she yelled out loud but knew she couldn’t go into battle with Guren holding onto Tamaki; it was too dangerous.
40The pair of KnightMare frames flew up to Evita’s flagship unopposed.


* * *

40“What the hell is happening?” Zero demanded.
40Ohgi and Villetta were dumbfounded as they looked over their control stations frantically.
40“It’s some kind of Gefjun field,” Rakshata said as she rushed onto the bridge. “It’s coming from space. We saw it while monitoring the performance of our new KMF units. You’ve got to get them back here immediately.”
40“Captain Nu,” the female communications officer of the Ikaruga called out, “we’re receiving a transmission from the enemy.”
40“Put it on the big screen,” Ohgi ordered the girl.
40The visage of the caller came on the viewscreen.
40“Schneizel!” Zero growled through clenched teeth.
40“Greetings, Zero,” Schneizel smiled.

Kodai Okuda
09-27-2010, 12:07 AM
Turn Nineteen: Everybody Wants to Rule the World

40“Conquest is easy, control is not. Those were the words of a wise commander who saw the difficulties in maintaining power over territory taken in conflict. Conquest of the whole of the world presented an even greater challenge than simply putting down the resistance or insurrection in one area once conquered. Control requires more finesse and tolerance if the conqueror is to ensure obedience or at the very least cooperation with the indigenous populous of his newly acquired fiefdom. When Schneizel made his bid for global domination, he did so with the cunning and skill of the Devil himself in the manner that all evil men seduce the masses…with a promise of peace.” —Excerpt from the diary of Euphemia li Britannia, dated November 16th, 2024 a.t.b.

40“Greetings, Zero,” Schneizel smiled on the big-screen of the Avenger, “and the people of the world.”
40“Damn him,” Cornelia cursed under her breath as she and Guilford watched Prince Schneizel continue on with his speech.
40Outside Princess Cornelia’s warship, the Avenger, a battle raged between her KnightMare forces and those of the Russian Confederation.
40“I hold in my hand the power to bring peace to the whole world.” Schneizel lifted up a metallic, ball-shaped device the size of an orange. Upon the top of this device was a red-colored switch. Schneizel ran his finger over the top of the switch.
40“Now what deviltry has my elder brother concocted?” Cornelia scoffed as she watched the worldwide transmission with disdain.
40Guilford said nothing.
40“Behold the power of peace,” Schneizel smiled on the screen.
40In an instant, a green light washed over the Britannian and Russian KMF units in front of Cornelia’s aerial armada; the machines dropped to the ground like lead as their power was drained from them.
40“A Gefjun disturber!” Guilford exclaimed in awe.
40“So, Schneizel, I see the acorn does not fall that far from the tree,” Cornelia sneered.
40“Milady?” Guilford inquired with a befuddled look.
40“Schneizel is no different than my father was.” She looked out at the mass of fallen KnightMares. “He’s not interested in how he wins the world, so long as he wins. Just like Charles, he fails to see the bigger picture. That was how the Black Rebellion gained its impetus and why so many countries flocked to the UFN. The people hated us for crushing them and then persecuting them afterwards. Schneizel clearly thinks he can con people into believing him a man of peace by shutting down the military forces of warring states as if weapons are the reason people kill one another. His thinking is simplistic and childish. KnightMares don’t kill people of their own accord; it takes the will of the person inside it to pull the trigger, and that desire to kill will remain if we don’t prove ourselves worthy of ruling this planet. The trappings of the old world order, where an elite few rule over the masses, is over! Lelouch ended it, but he failed to fully implement what must come afterwards due to his foolish arrogance.”
40Guilford looked outside to see the flashing light of small arms fire amongst the fallen KMFs. “I see what you mean, Princess. Even without their Frames, our men are still fighting the Russians.”
40“Not just our men, Guilford. Both groups of warriors understand why people go to war.” Cornelia stared out at the melee as Schneizel rattled on over the viewscreen about his New World Order of peace. “They war for freedom, wealth, status, power, and for a chance at something more in life; they war to be masters of their own destinies. Peace may be a beneficial side effect of war and conquest for the elite few who govern and gain power because of war, but it is hardly the natural state of things when peace is nothing more than the lack of all resistance to tyranny.”
40“If his goal is world domination, then what is Prince Schneizel playing at by pushing a message of peace?” Guilford enjoyed it when Cornelia expressed herself and her newly acquired ideals.
40“He obviously has an inferior number of forces at his disposal, otherwise he wouldn’t need to expend the enormous power required to create such a massive Gefjun field. I suspect he’s systematically knocking out the power systems of all of the KMFs on the planet in order to give him the upper hand when he launches his attack against the homelands of the leading world powers.”
40“You think he intends to attack them all at once?” Guilford was awestruck.
40“Yes, and we’ve paved the way for him by crushing all of Europe and the Mediterranean powers,” Cornelia lamented.
40“What shall we do, my Princess?” Guilford asked, distraught by the implications of Schneizel’s plan.
40Cornelia assessed the battle below them. “Send out recovery teams to collect our men and their KMFs. This battle is pointless now.”
40“Are we withdrawing?” Guilford queried her.
40“Yes,” she answered, “and order the fleet to set course for Japan.
40“Japan?” Guilford was confused by her order. “May I ask why, Princess Cornelia?”
40Cornelia smiled at him, “Because Japan still holds fifty-five percent of the world’s supply of sakuradite, and we need it to repair our KMFs.”
40Guilford gave her a perplexed look. “But why would the UFN help us?”
40Cornelia tittered at his expression, “Because the only person Tohdoh hates more than me is Schneizel.”


* * *

40“Is this war really necessary?” Nunnally asked Jason as they sat together in the large observation room of the Argos sipping tea together.
40Jason gave her a weak smile. “I’m afraid there have been political problems within our own governmental structure that have caused this unpleasant situation.”
40Nunnally eyed him cautiously. “You’re not happy with this whole thing, are you, Captain?”
40“Please, Empress, call me Jason.” He gave her a warm grin. “And, no, I do not like any of this. It seems to me that we could have negotiated with the world for the resources we needed rather than ally with Schneizel and indulge his desires for world domination.”
40“Something has been troubling me about Schneizel that perhaps you can answer, Jason.” Nunnally looked directly into his deep-blue eyes.
40Jason softened his expression as she did so. “You may ask me anything you like, Empress, and I will answer to the best of my knowledge.”
40Nunnally asked her question more impatiently than she had wanted to. “Do you know how Schneizel was able to break the Geass my brother put upon him?”
40“A device we possess called a dispeller,” Jason told her as he pointed to his headband. “All champions and gods wear one.”
40“Gods?” Nunnally asked.
40Jason chuckled, “Yes…well…not actual gods I suppose, but it’s what we call champions, which I believe you call Geass users who’ve achieved immortality by obtaining a Code.”
40“I wasn’t aware that a person could have both a Code and Geass.” Nunnally was sure that someone had once told her a person lost their Geass power when they obtained a Code.
40“A person looses their power of Geass only if they take their Code from the one who gave them their power in the first place,” said Jason. “People who take their Code from an enemy or are given it by an immortal who is not the one that gave them their power are able to obtain a Code. The other way one gains both is to be of a particular bloodline, and thus once Geass is given to them, they automatically acquire a Code by natural means.”
40“I see,” Nunnally said. “Where did the Code and Geass originate?”
40“A noble question, milady, certainly worthy of an Oracle of this age,” Jason answered. “Originally, the Codes were made in order to give mankind the means to travel the vast distances of space without being limited by the mortal restraint of a life span, food, water, and the like. Sadly, the experiment was not a complete success.”
40Nunnally was perplexed. “How did it fail?”
40Jason took a sip of tea to wet his throat before replying, “Food, water, and the basic necessities of life are still needed for the body to endure without dying repeatedly. Thus, even with a Code the immortal must have the normal sustenance that mortals require.”
40“And Geass?” she ventured.
40“Geass is a side-effect of the genetic alteration of man. It, like the Code, changes the vibrational frequency that our atomic structure vibrates at and allows the person to connect with the very fabric of reality. The ancients called it the Eden Vital. Each person manifests their Geass differently as each individual connects to the fabric of reality in a variety of ways, usually based on some strong emotion or need that helps mold the creation of their power.”
40Nunnally was intrigued. “You mentioned that the Code was made for space travel. Does that mean there are Geass users in space?”
40Jason’s expression became grave. “Yes, milady.”


* * *

40“You have done very well, Medea,” Sthenno said as she embraced the dark-haired woman that walked off the gangway of the Ithaca.
40Medea hugged her back. “Thank you, Sthenno.”
40“We now have the means to fully power Tartarus,” Sthenno smiled.
40“And crush all those who oppose us,” Medea snickered. “We shall be invincible.”
40Sthenno raised an eyebrow. “Indeed. Why should we leave this world when we can keep it for ourselves?”
40“Does this mean you plan on using the Apollyon?” Medea inquired. The woman was visibly apprehensive about the device.
40“I do,” Sthenno told her with a cold expression. “We lack the troops to properly conquer this world by any other means. Once we’ve leveled a few of their cities, these mortals will bow before us willingly.”
40“What of Schneizel?” Medea was curious as to what would become of this man Sthenno had put her faith in.
40“I shall have my revenge upon him,” Sthenno hissed.


* * *

40“So, your Hakodeshim were totally unaffected by the Gefjun field?” Rakshata asked the Red Dragon and Suzaku as they stood within the hangar of the Ikaruga at the feet of the large battlerobots.
40“Apparently,” the modulated voice of the Red Dragon answered through her mask.
40“Do you think you can figure out why they’re immune, Professor Chawla,” Suzaku asked.
40“Well, in all honesty, I already know why.” She waved her pipe towards the Gabriel. “The simple answer is that they’re not powered by sakuradite; exactly what powers them is a mystery in and of itself. Whatever the power source of these machines may be, it gives them the ability to self-repair, which is nothing short of incredible. Where did you say you got them again?”
40“From a friend of ours who’s…how should we say…a bit eccentric?” The Red Dragon shrugged and turned her mirrored mask towards Suzaku.
40Suzaku smiled at her, “Yeah, he’s a weird guy, but his heart is in the right place.”
40“Huh?” Rakshata was confused. “Did I miss something?”
40Suzaku was staring at the Red Dragon with a dreamy-eyed expression when the Red Dragon responded to Rakshata. “No, Professor,” she giggled, “Suzaku’s still a bit light-headed from his experience on Hawaii.”
40Kururugi snapped out of his daze. “So, Professor Chawla, do you think you can find a way to insulate the other KnightMare Frames from Schneizel’s Gefjun disturber by examining the Uriel and Gabriel?”
40“I’m afraid not,” Rakshata lamented. “Their design is too advanced for me to even begin to tinker with them. However, I may be able to garner something from the Greek machine we recovered on Kaminejima. I noticed that the casing for their energy filler is lined with a lead alloy. Lead is a dense material that might be able to repel Gefjun particles.”
40“How soon do you think you can duplicate the lead alloy?” the Red Dragon asked. She was anxious to get the UFN forces back up and running again so they could rescue Nunnally.
40“I’m afraid I’m not much of an alloy expert,” Rakshata sighed. “I’ll need Lloyd’s help on this one, which is why I asked you here, Suzaku.” She smiled. “You know Lloyd as well as anyone does. He won’t listen to me on this. Could you ask him to analyze this material for me?”
40“Sure,” Suzaku replied with a smile. “I’ll ask him when we return to the Avalon.”
40“That reminds me,” the Red Dragon said. “How soon do you think we’ll get the okay to go back?”
40“As soon as Zero clears you, I think,” Rakshata said with a tip of her pipe. “In fact, I believe he’d like to see you two as soon as I’m finished with you....which I am.”
40“Then we should probably be on our way down to see him,” Suzaku said with a wave to Rakshata.
40He and the Red Dragon made their way our of the hangar deck leaving Professor Chawla to stare in wonder at the two machines before her.


* * *

40“We need to get out after Gino NOW!” Kallen barked at Zero and Ohgi. “Who knows what that little wench is doing to him?”
40“We don’t have the ability to do so, Kallen.” Ohgi tried to calm her.
40“Our current priority is to recover all our KnightMare Frames.” Zero told her with a wave of his hand, “then we can get underway after the duchess.”
40“You’re letting her get out a ways from us, aren’t you, Zero?” Kozuki asked with a scowl. “Gino was what she wanted all along, and you knew it.”
40“Of course, and now that Evita has her prize, she’ll let her guard down and no doubt lead us right to Schneizel. Her fleet didn’t set course for Britannia; they’re headed for the South Pacific.”
40“Major Nu,” one of the bridge bunnies called to Villetta who was silently observing the argument between Captain Kozuki, Zero and Ohgi.
40“Yes?” Villetta asked.
40“We’ve recovered Commander Weinberg’s Type-21J and the person who stole it. Shall I have him thrown in the brig, ma’am?”
40“One moment.” Villetta walked up the stairs to the mezzanine where the argument continued to ensue.
40“HE’S NOT EXPENDABLE!” Kallen pointed an accusing finger at Zero. “When are you going to learn that?”
40"To save the world from the totalitarian rule of Schneizel, we are all expendable," Zero told her calmly.
40“You’re as bad as Lelouch was!” Kallen didn’t wait for him to retort; she turned and stormed off the bridge.
40Ohgi’s eyes went wide as he choked down the urge to blurt out a laugh; he coughed heartily to clear his throat.
40Zero simply watched her leave.
40“I hate to interrupt,” Villetta said as she walked onto the command platform, “but I need to know what you’d like me to do with the pilot that stole Gino’s Samurai.”
40“Have him report to my personal quarters,” Zero said to Villetta’s surprise.
40“As you wish, Zero, but…” Major Nu started to say.
40“Don’t worry.” Zero put his hand up in a dismissive gesture. “I’ll deal with him myself.”


* * *

40“That son of a bitch…” Kallen cursed aloud to herself as she walked towards the Devicer’s lounge; she needed a nice strong drink to calm her emotions.
40Kallen walked past the open door of the hangar deck when she caught site of Gino’s Type-21J and the man who had stolen it standing next to the KMF talking with the deck chief.
40“Enoch?” She recognized the man almost immediately. It was hard not to. His skin had a distinct gold tinge to it in the fluorescent, overhead lighting of the hangar deck.
40“HEY, ENOCH!” Kallen called out to him.
40“Oh, hi, Kallen, how are you?” he called back as he walked towards the elevators at the left-hand side of the hangar bay.
40Kallen ran into the bay towards him. “Wait up!”
40He held the elevator door open for her. “Can I assist you in some way, Captain Kozuki?” he asked her with a smile.
40Her desperate blue eyes met his amber orbs. “I need your help with something.”
40“Oh…what can I do for you?” he asked in a meek tone.
40Captain Kozuki gave him a narrow-eyed look as she pushed past him into the elevator. “You can give me the truth.”
40“About?” Enoch inquired as the elevator doors shut.
40“Zero,” she replied. “How is it that you are down here with that KnightMare Frame, and yet Zero was on the bridge with me only moments ago giving orders?”
40“Someone is standing in for me.” He refused to lie to her, but he knew better than to expose Lelouch…not just yet anyway.
40Kallen brushed her hair back and put her hands on her hips. “Who?”
40“Usually C2,” he smirked.
40She raised an eyebrow. “C2? I highly doubt that C2 was the one calling the shots in this last battle, and she certainly is not the person I was just arguing with a few minutes ago. Tell me who was on the bridge.”
40Enoch gave her a devilish grin. “Ohgi, Villetta, the bridge crew, and Zero. Who else would be there?”
40“Stop toying with me,” she barked at him. “I want to know who the man behind that mask is!”
40Enoch’s expression became sad. “If you learn that Zero is the person you hope he is, would that make the pain go away? Is that why you hope beyond hope for it to be Lelouch?”
40Kallen blushed; she was acting like an obsessed teenager and she knew it. "No, it's not that...it's just...I can't let go."
40"What about poor Gino?" Enoch asked. "Are your feelings for a dead man greater than those for the love that's staring you right in the face?"
40Kallen's expression softened. "I'm not sure if I feel anything other than friendship for Gino. He's my wingman... and a good friend…maybe my best friend right now…I do care about him a lot, I admit, but I'm not sure it's love."
40Enoch put his hand on her shoulder. "True love often starts with real friendship...and it's hardly ever a sure thing at first."
40"Wha?" Kallen stepped back. "Are you trying to imply that I'm in love with Gino?"
40Enoch smiled at her as he spoke softly, "No, I would never presume such a thing. Only you know the truth that lies deep down in your heart, but it is clear that he loves you very much."
40She looked away from Enoch. “I know he does, but we’re too different. His family was Britannian nobility and mine was only half that. I was a Black Knight under Zero, he was a Knight of the Round…I mean…at the end, he did change sides and…he did save me in the last battle…but still, it wouldn’t work out.”
40Enoch moved over to look her in the face with a grin. “Opposites attract, you know, and never doubt who you are, Kallen. I come from very humble beginnings. Before my transformation I was a farmer.” He pointed a thumb at his chest in a nonchalant gesture. “And look at me now!”
40Kallen giggled, “Yeah? You’re a pretty interesting guy.” She smiled at him and leaned towards him. “You remind me of Lelouch in many ways.”
40Enoch backed away from her into the rear of the elevator and put up his hands defensively. “Hold on a minute there, beautiful…let’s stick to Gino and you.”
40Kallen frowned, “Why? Has pizza girl got her hooks into you already?”
40“No…C2 and I already gave that a whirl a while back and it didn’t work,” Enoch said as Kallen moved in closer to him, “but that doesn’t mean I’m available…besides, I’m far too old for you.”
40Kallen laughed, “You’re too old? You don’t look more than twenty-four to me.”
40Enoch let out a nervous laugh. “I’m a wee bit older than that, love.”
40Kallen gave him a distraught look. “Well, how old are you?”


* * *

40“Oh, how I’ve missed you!” Evita kissed Gino on the lips.
40Commander Weinberg struggled in the straitjacket prison suit he was bound in as the duchess proceeded to examine him.
40“You call this love, Evita?” He moved his head to try to avoid her advances.
40“I admit it’s a little one-sided right now…” she cooed in his ear, “but men are so easily wooed. The key to their heart is through their genitals.” Evita caressed his prison suit over his groin.
40“It’s not that easy, Duchess,” Gino snarled at her as he closed his legs. “I do have feelings for someone, but it’s not you.”
40Evita looked down her nose at him. “Really? Is it that lowly, half-breed captain of yours?”
40“Don’t you DARE call her that!” Gino lunged at her in a fury.
40Evita leapt back as a pair of guards entered the prison cell to protect her. “So, you’re in love with a nip-mutt, are you? How sad, a noble Knight of the Round such as you enamored with a Japanese whore; it’s pathetic. I could understand if you just wanted to use her for sex…I suppose her being half-Britannian she is somewhat pretty, but to actually have feelings for her…that just won’t do, my love.”
40The duchess snapped her fingers, and a female officer entered the room with a tray containing a variety of whips. “Tie him to the harness in the center of his cell,” she instructed the two guards.
40“Evita, what the hell are doing?” Gino demanded as she selected a cat-o’-nines from the tray.
40“I’m going to scourge those lustful demons for that vile woman Kallen from your body. When I’m done with you, you’ll be begging for me to love you, my dear Gino.”
40Gino gritted his teeth. “Never!”
40The duchess giggled manically as she struck him with the cat-o’-nine-tails.


* * *

40“Where the hell is he now?” Lelouch paced the personal quarters he shared with C.C. and Enoch.
40“Knowing Enoch, he’s probably off chasing after some cute lady-crewman,” C.C. snickered.
40“I wasn’t talking about Enoch…” Lelouch frowned. “I mean Suzaku.”
40“Well, maybe he got detained by something.” C.C. came over and kissed Lelouch on the cheek. “Stop being so uptight…we’ll get Nunnally back, you know that. Schneizel needs her alive, so she’s safe.”
40“It wasn’t Schneizel that took her, of that I’m sure.” Lelouch traced her cheek with his gloved hand. He leaned in and kissed C.C. on the lips. “Thanks for trying to comfort me, C2, but I think that man Jason is taking my sister to someone else, and I am concerned for her safety. Considering the instincts and feelings that Euryale transferred to me with her Code, I can imagine what erotic horrors may await Nunnally, and I fear for her.”
40“That won’t be a problem,” Enoch said as he entered the room, interrupting them. “Jason may be a fanatically loyal dweeb, but he is no fiend. He’ll respect the chastity of the empress from anyone who would try to take it from her, of that you can be rest assured.”
40“Where’ve you been?” C.C. asked with a snicker. “You look like you just sat through a psychology session with a troubled teen.”
40Enoch winked at C.C. “Yeah…Kallen and I had a long heart-to-heart about her feelings for Gino. I convinced her that she ought to stop moping about this other idiot she was once in love with. I suggested to her that she needs a man in her life, not a boy.”
40Lelouch gave him a narrow-eyed look. “Ha, ha.”
40C.C. laughed, “Oh, come on, Lelouch, you know that I like boys.” She threw her arms around Lelouch’s neck. “Enoch’s just teasing you. He knows that even if you do still have feelings for Kallen that it would be cruel for you to be with her considering you’re immortal now and she is not. Besides, would you want to be with her as she gets old and wrinkled while you remain young and handsome.”
40“My feelings for her are none of your concern,” Lelouch scowled at C.C. and Enoch. “Even if I still do love…”
40Lelouch was startled by the door to their room opening; he shrugged off C.C. and moved to grab his mask.
40“There’s no need for that, Lelouch,” the Red Dragon said as she closed the door behind her and Suzaku. “It’s just us.”
40“Where the hell have you two been?” Lelouch demanded from Suzaku.
40“I’d say the ear-to-ear smile on his face answers that question.” Enoch chuckled upon seeing Kururugi’s gleaming expression.
40“Huh?” C.C. gave Enoch a perplexed look.
40Lelouch was mortified. “Don’t think that everyone is as lecherous as you are, old man.”
40“Well, actually,” Suzaku took hold of the Red Dragon’s hand, “we’ve been doing some catching up, but that’s not why we’re here. You wanted to see me?”
40“Yes!” Lelouch snapped in irritation. “I need to know how soon your Hakodeshim will be ready for redeployment and if Professor Chawla has made any progress with finding a way to shield our KMFs from Schneizel’s Gefjun weapon.”
40“Our Archangels are fully restored and ready,” Suzaku said jovially, “and Rakshata says she may have found a way to insulate our KMFs from the Gefjun disturber, but she’ll need Professor Asplund’s expertise in metallic alloys to design new energy filler containers.”
40“I see,” Lelouch said. “Then you’ll have to remain here to protect this fleet while the Yamato no Orochi and I proceed to try and find Schneizel’s headquarters.”
40“What about Nunnally?” Suzaku asked impatiently.
40“What about her?” Lelouch barked.
40“Shouldn’t we go after the Argonauts to rescue her?” Suzaku growled at Lelouch.
40“We don’t have time for that now,” Lelouch retorted.
40“How can you say that about your sister? You know what she means to us!” Suzaku yelled at him.
40“Us?” Lelouch asked snidely. “If she means so much to you, Suzaku, why didn’t you stop Jason from capturing her in the first place? At least the old man has an excuse…his Type-21J was affected by the Gefjun field. The Hakodeshim are immune to the effects of such a weapon, which is why I had you guarding Nunnally in the first place. Maybe if you were a better Devicer you’d have…”
40“STOP IT, LELOUCH!” the Red Dragon ordered him. “Suzaku cares about Nunnally as much as you or I do.”
40“You?” Lelouch scoffed. “How could you care about my sister as much as I do? What is she to you, woman?”
40The Red Dragon unfastened her mask and removed it.
40Lelouch’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates as he saw her face and flowing pink hair. “Uh…Eu…” he tried to speak as his knees buckled and he sank down onto them.
40“Euphemia!” C.C. exclaimed in shock.
40Euphie glared at her brother. “How dare you ask ME if I care about Nunnally! I care for her far more than you do, Lelouch; I didn’t use Geass upon her; I didn’t try to use her for my schemes or as a tool. You did!”
40Lelouch recovered quickly. “Euphemia is dead…I should know because I killed her. You’re an imposter!”
40"Imposter?!" Euphie turned to C.C. with a fierce look. “He’s immortal, right?”
40C.C. was still stunned. “Yeah…um…sure he is, but why do you…”
40Euphemia turned back to Lelouch with a sneer, “Your childish stupidity made me do despicable things, then you tried to kill me to cover it up, and now you have the gall to call me a liar...you little bastard!” She pulled her sidearm from its holster and shot Lelouch in the chest.
40Lelouch dropped to the floor, the life gone from his eyes.
40Euphemia gave Lelouch’s corpse a sinister smile. “Guess nobody told you that payback’s a bitch.”
40“Euphie!” Suzaku yelled in horror.
40“What?” She smiled at him and snickered. “He can’t die, Suzaku, and after what he’s done...he deserves a thousand deaths like this.”
40“Oh, for the love of….Euphemia, why the hell did you do that!” Enoch cried.
40“What’s the big deal?” Euphie asked Enoch with a shrug. “It’s not like this gun can kill him.”
40“That’s not the point!” Enoch picked up Lelouch’s body and pointed at the large pool of blood on the chest of the Zero suit. “Do you have any idea how hard it’s going to be to get this stain out? Not to mention the bullet hole.”
40Euphie blushed. “Whoops, guess I let my anger get the best of me.”
40Enoch gave her a surprised look. “Noooooh…ya think?”


* * *

40“The FORGE is at one hundred percent operational status, Prince Schneizel.” Nina adjusted her glasses as she brought up a digital readout of the FLEIJA reactor on the viewscreen of the control station at which she sat.
40Schneizel looked over her shoulder. “Excellent work, Nina. Now we’ll be able to generate a field powerful enough to short out any sakuradite-powered machine. Even the Automatos machines of the Greeks, should any of them resist the plan that has been set in motion. With this Gefjun transmitter, no one will be able to challenge us.”
40"How will you enforce your rule without the mechanized forces of the Greeks if they turn against you?" Nina asked him with a perplexed expression.
40"Come with me," Schneizel said with a sinister grin.
40Nina got up and followed Schneizel from the master control room of the FORGE into an adjacent chamber that led out onto a balcony.
40To Professor Einstein's amazement, a legion of hundreds of Vincent Ward, Gareth, and Gloucester KMFs stood within a courtyard that flanked one side of the building that housed the FORGE.
40The light of the setting sun glinted off their metal forms as a breeze whipped up off the ocean beyond that blew back Nina's hair as she surveyed the masses of KnightMare Frames.
40Nina looked over at Schneizel. "With all due respect, Prince Schneizel, what good are these fifth- and seventh-generation Frames against the more modern weapons of the Greek legions, not to mention both Britannia and the UFN? Even if we knock out most of the tenth-generation and newer frames, there are bound to be pockets of KMFs we miss, and these machines are no match for them. The Greek Automatos have already proven their superiority over any KMF that is less than tenth generation."
40Schneizel smirked at her, "My lovely Nina, this army is not what it appears to be. It is only the tip of the spear of my Order of the Silver Cross. This legion will deal with any who resist my plan and simply enforce my rule upon the world after the Greeks use their Apollyon device."
40"Apollyon?" Nina was intrigued.
40"Yes," Schneizel smiled mischievously. "You see, while I was in Tartarus, I had the pleasure of meeting a woman there who saw my vision of a New World as useful to her people's desire to leave this Earth for the stars. We struck a deal, and she has agreed to give me the Apollyon device in exchange for my help via this Gefjun disturber and the plans for your FORGE."
40Nina was mortified. "You gave them the plans to my creation?"
40Schneizel laughed, "Not yet, Nina. She will have to deliver on her end before I'm ready to do that. You see, your FORGE would greatly improve the duration time of their spacecraft. Rather than having to hop through the cosmos from one sakuradite deposit to another every few months, they could travel for decades without refueling."
40"Why would you give them the plans for the FORGE? What does this Apollyon do that makes it so valuable?" Professor Einstein asked.
40"It's a Titan Automatos that projects a sphere to anywhere within five thousand miles of it that folds space," he said with a sinister look.
40Nina gasped in horror. "That would be like having a flying FLEIJA gun that could teleport the Collapse Effect Sphere it generates to anywhere in the world! It's the Damocles all over again."
40"Precisely," Schneizel smiled, "but a bit more compact and advanced. With a weapon like that in my power, I shall create permanent peace in this world."


* * *

40"The Tartarus is now at full power, milady," Hephaestus said as Sthenno watched the lights throughout the city come on in the darkness of the Antarctic night.
40"Excellent, Hephaestus," she said with a triumphant look. "And the Apollyon?"
40"It is at full power," Hephaestus told her.
40"Soon we shall dominate this world," Medea snickered as she walked into the control room of the central tower of the city.
40"Indeed," Sthenno agreed as they both stared out at their rejuvenated city. "First, we shall crush Schneizel, then the UFN, and finally the rest of this pathetic civilization."
40"Have you called out to the others at Jupiter?" Medea asked.
40"Not yet," Sthenno told her with a smile. "Better we take command of Earth first. Once our power base is secure here, then we can contact Zeus and the others. Besides, we don't know how many of the other gods escaped the cataclysm and may by now have spread out over the local group of stars around Sol. Zeus and the others might have been defeated, and there may be nothing but hostiles out there. I think it best that we proceed with caution before we expose ourselves to star-systems around us at large."
40"Have our Cyclops and Minotaur legions been reactivated," Medea asked Sthenno.
40"Yes," Sthenno said flatly. "Though I hope we don't need to use them. I'd like to have them intact when we spread out into this solar system. I've a feeling that we'll need them to fight off any adversaries we encounter. We've lost too much of our armed forces as it is. I'd hate to weaken our position any further."
40A woman's voice spoke sharply from behind Sthenno and Medea, "You should have thought of that before you decided to take command, Sthenno!"
40Medea gasped as she turned around to see the woman and her entourage that stood at the back of the room.
40"Surprised to see me, Medea?"
40Sthenno looked at the armor-clad woman in horror. "I...I wanted to hand this world over to you before I woke you."
40"Save your pathetic excuses for later, Sthenno," the woman scowled as she walked gracefully over with her party of men in tow.
40Medea got down on her knees and hung her head. "Forgive me, milady."
40The woman put her hand on Medea's head. "There is nothing to forgive, Medea. You did as I would have commanded you to do, and I commend your efforts which have brought Tartarus back to life."
40Sthenno looked at Hephaestus with venom then turned to the armored woman. "So, what is to become of me?"
40The woman looked down her nose at Sthenno. "You will submit to my authority, Sthenno, and confine yourself to your quarters until I decide what to do with you."
40"Yes, milady," Sthenno said as she left the command center.
40"Ares, have two of your champions guard her," the woman told the tall, armor-clad man at her right.
40"Yes, milady." Ares bowed and nodded to two men next to him. They left after Sthenno immediately.
40"Hephaestus, contact Jason immediately. I wish to know his progress," the woman ordered him.
40"Yes, milady." The man nodded respectfully and worked the controls of a nearby console. In a moment, Jason's image was on the overhead viewscreen.
40"Jason," the woman smiled, "I trust all went well?"
40"The empress is in our possession, and we should return home in less than a day as per your plan, milady," Jason said with a warm grin.
40"Excellent work, my champion," she replied. "I look forward to seeing you in person soon."
40Jason gave her a respectful bow. "As do I, my goddess...Athena."

Kodai Okuda
09-28-2010, 04:01 AM
Turn Twenty: Siblings

40"How many were the hours that we played one against the other? So many matches, so many contests; I still remember how you gnashed your teeth and glared at me that time I beat you seven games in a row. Back then, I had experience over you that came with age. Then some years later we met in an actual struggle, with real Knights, Bishops, Pawns and Queens on the chessboard of Area 11. There I overcame you again, but only because you underestimated me. When we held a second match in that conflict, I moved my King (Damocles) in to solidify my victory, and you used your King (Geass) to win a draw between us. That draw forced you to spare my life so Suzaku, your great Knight of Zero, could take your place as defender of justice in the world. How foolish of you, my brother. You would have been wiser to uplift Kururugi to the status of emperor, bewitch me with your power to be your Bishop, and take the Kingship of Zero for yourself. Then you could have protected our sisters from the pain of being a ruler of a nation hated by the world. Had you done that, the world might have a chance against me should I lift this curse you've put upon me. But little did you or your Suzaku know that I knew there was a Geass temple somewhere in the Antarctic. I bided my time waiting for a chance to seek it out. Fate smiled upon me the day when Nunnally gave me my chance to go there. I knew as soon as I saw the coastline of that frozen continent that fate had chosen me to find a way to free myself from your grasp and undo what you had done, my brother— Lelouch.” —Excerpt from the personal diary of Prince Schneizel el Britannia, dated July 25th, 2024 a.t.b.

40"You're moving too far; tighten up your sword strokes," Enoch told Lelouch from where he sat martial arts-style on the matted floor of the now private dojo room of the Ikaruga.
40In the center of the chamber, Suzaku and Lelouch stood facing each other in full kendo armor with bokuto swords.
40"Wow, Lelouch, I had no idea you knew kendo," Suzaku remarked as they crossed swords again.
40"He doesn't," Enoch said in his firm sensei monotone. "He is drawing upon Euryale's sword fighting abilities through his subconscious from her Code."
40"And you're trying to awaken those skills in Lelouch?" C.C. asked as she and Euphie nibbled on a cheese pizza on the floor next to and just behind Enoch. C.C. had finished nearly three-fourths of the pizza while Euphie had barely eaten one slice.
40"Yes," Enoch stated flatly as Lelouch parried Suzaku with impressive speed. "And after only one week of this he's getting much better at it."
40"Can't he just try to access it through his Geass?" Euphie asked Enoch.
40"Not according to the findings of the Geass Order," Enoch told her as he intently watched the series of strikes, blocks, and exchanges between Suzaku and Lelouch. "The Code that he has still retains the experiences of every person who had it before him. According to the findings of the Geass Order, a person with a Code should be able to access those memories and experiences and use them provided their body is capable of doing so."
40Lelouch stepped to one side and dodged a sword thrust by Suzaku. He spun on his heel and flipped the wooden bokuto sword out of Kururugi's hands. Lelouch raised the weapon in a final blow.
40"Lelouch!" Enoch shouted.
40Lelouch stopped himself and saluted Suzaku with the bokuto as Kururugi reached down and picked up his own sword.
40"You two have been at this for two hours now. Are you tired, Suzaku?" Enoch asked.
40"A little," Kururugi admitted.
40"Very well." Enoch looked at C.C. "Your turn."
40C.C. stood up from the floor and accepted the bokuto from Suzaku. "Shouldn't you give Lelouch a break?" she asked Enoch with a concerned look.
40"No," Enoch said. "He needs to learn to control the influence of Euryale's personality on his own during times of weakness and stress. Her bloodlust just came out in him a moment ago, and I want Lelouch to learn to control that in a calm environment like this in case it manifests itself during a moment when it really matters. He must be master of her Code, not the other way around."
40"I understand." C.C. smiled at Enoch then turned to Lelouch. "Sorry Lulu, I hope you don't get mad at me about this."
40"I would never," Lelouch said in a soft tone. "I too understand why Enoch is doing this, and I'm ready for it because I want to master this power!"
40"Good," Enoch grinned. "Then let the match begin."
40C.C. lunged at Lelouch. "Here I come!"


* * *

40"How much longer until we reach Japan?" Akira asked Kallen as he walked up to where she was leaning on the railing of the ventral-aft observation promenade of the Ikaruga.
40"We'll be there within a few hours," Kallen replied with a weak grin as she stared out at the rising sun on the horizon over the ocean. "Why do you ask? Aren't you happy to be home?"
40"I'm not so sure," Akira smiled at her. "I don't think Lady-Chairman Kaguya Sumeragi should have sent General Xingke out after Evita with his fleet at half strength."
40"Why? A resupply fleet is on its way to rendezvous with his armada." Kallen looked at him with a raised brow. "Their energy fillers will be replenished soon, and Xingke can track that sourly little wench to whatever island brothel Schneizel is hiding her in."
40Akira was hesitant before speaking his mind. "Be that as it may, Captain Kozuki, I still don't like running back here. Why aren't we getting replenished with Xingke's fleet? It seems like every time we take a step forward in this war we're forced to take two steps back because Zero has some new plan up his sleeve. It's aggravating...”
40"But necessary, Akira," Kallen said. "Professor Lloyd and Rakshata haven't finished with the new energy fillers yet, but Cecile Croomy has discovered that Schneizel's Gefjun wave can't penetrate water with any measurable effect on KnightMare Frames beyond a few meters below the surface due to interference from all the minerals in the sea. Thus, we're going back to Japan to acquire a submarine and hopefully new energy fillers that are Gefjun resistant as well."
40"Even so, we can't just leave Commander Wein..." Akira stopped.
40"Don't stop yourself on my account, Lieutenant Nobunaga. I'm glad you care so much about Gino," Kallen said, "considering you only knew him for a few weeks."
40Akira cursed himself inwardly. "Thank you, Captain, but I still shouldn't have brought it up considering your relationship with Commander Weinberg."
40Kallen was shocked. "Relationship!?"
40Her reaction befuddled Akira. "Well...yeah...aren't you guys a thing?"
40"NO!" Kallen put her arms on her hips. "Where did you get that idea?"
40"Well, Lt. Commander Shinichiro told us that we should be careful not to mention Commander Weinberg around you since he was your lover, and that since he was now in the hands of Duchess Evita Ernst, we were to talk about Commander Weinberg as little as possible."
40Kallen became furious, but she wasn't exactly sure why. Was it because Gino was in the clutches of Evita? Or because Tamaki was spreading rumors about her that weren't true? Or was it something else...a hurt in her heart that hadn't been there before.
40Akira took a step back upon seeing the anger in Kallen's face. "Uh...I'm sorry I brought it up Captain..."
40Kallen's fury subsided as the pain in her chest erupted into emotion. She threw herself at Akira and wrapped her arms around him. She wanted to hold someone at that moment, anyone.
40"Captain?" Akira blushed as Kallen cried into his shoulder and sobbed violently. Akira forced back his embarrassment and hugged her back. Nobunaga whispered into her ear, "Don't you worry, Captain Kozuki; I give you my word of honor; we will get Gino back."


* * *

40"I am so pleased to meet you, Empress Nunnally vi Britannia," Athena said with a thin smile as Nunnally was escorted off the gangway of the Argos, her Knight of Orange, Jeremiah Gottwald, at her side with Jason and Heracles flanking them both.
40The great aerial warship Argos sat next to its sister vessel, the Ithaca, within an immense, domed hangar bay within the city of Tartarus, Northern District.
40"I wish I could be as cordial as you, Ms. Athena," Nunnally walked up to her slowly, "but I'm afraid that under the current circumstances, I can only say that I'm impressed with your skill as a tactician. I assume it is you who's been working this scenario of global conquest from the beginning and not my brother Schneizel."
40Athena, at six feet and three inches, towered over Nunnally as she looked down upon her. "Indeed, from nearly the very start of this operation, I have been in charge of it. Sthenno, the goddess who gave your brother his power, had no idea that I was awake and had struck a deal with your dear brother Schneizel from the time he first left this frozen waste for Kerguelen Island."
40Jason and Heracles exchanged confused looks.
40Nunnally looked towards them momentarily then turned back to Athena. "Why did you choose a path of war rather then peace? We of Britannia would have helped you leave Earth and supplied you with the necessary sakuradite if you had explained your plight to us."
40Athena frowned and raised her chin at Nunnally. "I am not interested in your charity, Empress." Athena lowered her gaze to meet Nunnally's eyes. "I have seen with my own eyes the type of kindness your Britannia has handed down to the people of this world. The thousands that have died and lived under the oppression your empire provided." Athena's expression softened. "Your brother Schneizel was gracious enough to allow me to enter his mind and see for myself what kind of world Britannia has wrought."
40Nunnally looked at her in horror.
40Athena gently put her hand on Nunnally's shoulder. "Do not worry, Empress. I also know that you are a benevolent leader; even your brother Schneizel was forced to admit that to me. You see, my power, my Geass if you prefer, forces all whom I use it upon to tell me the truth. While that may not seem very powerful to some, when combined with my skill in tactics, strategy, and warfare, it is the most powerful Geass I could hope for."
40"Are you going to use your Geass upon me?" Nunnally asked defiantly.
40"No," Athena said softly. "Even your enemies marvel at your integrity, Empress Nunnally; I've no need to charm you to know you're telling me the truth. You are an Oracle after all. It is not you, nor the kingdom that you had created that concerns me. It is the future and whoever shall come after you now that your nation is in upheaval. The world as it is now consists of two major powers: a weak, corrupt, and dysfunctional United Federation of Nations, and an empire filled with royals who, even now, usurp the rightful sovereign of their nation in order to quell their own ambitions and solidify a new imperial reign. Neither one will do."
40"But Britannia would not be in upheaval had you not intervened," Nunnally said.
40Athena waved her hand and scoffed, "Schneizel awoke Sthenno first, and she would have used him to usurp you and then put herself in your place. It has always been Sthenno's desire to rule this world, however, that cannot be allowed lest we violate the treaty we Olympians agreed to with the other former powers of γή (pronounced Gé; Greek word for Earth)."
40"Other powers?" Nunnally was intrigued.
40Athena was surprised. "Surely you know the legends of Atlantis, Mu, and the other great kingdoms of the gods?"
40"Uh...I know some of the old legends about them, but not much of the details." Nunnally studied Athena. "How can you be sure the other powers are still out there?"
40Athena gave her a mischievous smile. "Come with me, Empress," Athena motioned to the stairwell at the far end of the aerial ship hangar that led to a series of tubular structures that could only be elevator shafts, "and I'll show you."


* * *

40"How goes the battle in Australia?" Xingke asked Tohdoh's image on the main monitor of the bridge of the Yamato.
40"We've recaptured the capitol," Tohdoh said with a sigh, "but it's still going to take a few weeks to finish routing the remaining insurgents. What news of your progress in locating Schneizel?"
40"We're currently replenishing our entire stores of energy fillers for our KnightMare Frames, but we should be under way in a few hours." Xingke brought up a window on the monitor for Kyoshiro to see. "However, I've sent a scout team to keep track of the duchess' fleet. They're currently two hundred miles from our position hovering just off the Coast of Gambier Island."
40"Gambier Island is a nature preserve now, but it did have an abandoned military installation of the old Britannian Empire there," Tohdoh said as he put his hand on his chin in thought. "That could make for a useful base of operations...but why would Schneizel allow Duchess Ernst to lead us right to his front door? It doesn't make any sense."
40"I agree," Xingke frowned. "Schneizel is not that clumsy. Chances are this is some kind of trap."
40"Agreed," Tohdoh told Xingke with a raised brow, "but we still have to check it out. It is possible that Schneizel views himself as invulnerable due to his new toy and doesn't care if we know where he is."
40"Then approaching the island presents its own problem," Xingke said with a scowl. "We can't just rush in to our doom."
40"No, I wouldn't even suggest it." said Tohdoh as he formulated a plan. "Where is Zero at this time?"
40"The Avalon and the Ikaruga have returned to Japan for resupply and to rearm," Xingke said with clear disapproval.
40"Hmmm...that's odd," Tohdoh growled. "What excuse did he use for doing that?"
40Xingke cleared his throat intentionally to warn off the nosey sideways looks his bridge bunnies were giving his way. "According to Lady Kaguya, Zero demanded that they return to Japan in order to replace their losses and pick up a few new KMFs that Rakshata had for them."
40"He's going at this on his own," Tohdoh sneered. "We're being left out of the loop on this by Zero's design, General Xingke."
40"Are you certain, Kyoshiro? We know that Kururugi is no longer Zero, thus this new Zero is a complete mystery," Xingke said with apprehension, mindful of the presence of his bridge crew. "Given the current circumstances and the actions of this Zero, we must assume that this new Zero is either that green-haired witch C2 using an incredible voice modulation device or someone else who possesses the strategic knowledge and similar voice pattern to that of the late Lelouch vi Britannia."
40"What do you mean?" Kyoshiro inquired with interest.
40"During the battle over Hawaii, we monitored some of the transmissions between the Avalon and the Ikaruga. One such communiqué was between Empress Nunnally and Zero. The conversation was very personal and loaded with undertones that would seem to imply this new Zero knows the empress personally. Also, Zero lost control of his voice during the verbal sparing, and our sound analysis technicians have confirmed that the sound wave generated by this new Zero matches that of Lelouch vi Britannia based on some of the old video footage we have of Zero's speeches during the Black Rebellion."
40"I see," Tohdoh fumed.
40Xingke was not surprised at Kyoshiro's angst. "Since Lelouch is dead, I can only assume that the Britannians must have cloned him, and this clone is now old enough to take his place as Zero, or they've found someone, perhaps a relative of his, that matches his voice almost perfectly and has intimate knowledge of the Britannian family."
40Tohdoh looked at Li with a dark expression. "Or Lelouch isn't dead."
40Xingke furrowed his brow. "No offense, General Tohdoh, but we were both there when Kururugi slew Lelouch. There is no doubt that he was killed."
40"Where Geass is concerned there is always doubt," Tohdoh grumbled.
40"I suppose you could be right, General," said Li with a huff, not wanting to argue the point. "However, that doesn't change the fact that, at least for the time being, this Zero is assisting us against Schneizel and his Greek allies."
40"That's true enough," Tohdoh said. "Although, that means we must also acknowledge that Zero is working in concert with Kaguya."
40"How do you know that?" Xingke asked.
40"Lady Kaguya is the one who sent you to follow Duchess Ernst while she and Zero returned to Japan, is she not?" Kyoshiro pointed out.
40"She was the one that gave the order to me in person," Xingke stated firmly.
40"I doubt she would have given such an order of her own accord. It's unlike her to be so strategic," Tohdoh snickered. "If Sumeragi were calling the shots on her own, then I imagine you'd be chasing after the Argos not the Duchess since Nunnally is of greater concern to Kaguya than finding Schneizel's lair."
40Xingke nodded. "I have to agree with you there. Nunnally is a dear friend of both Kaguya and Lihua. I imagine that only Zero could convince them to return to Japan while the Greeks stole off with Nunnally."
40"Which further leads me to believe that this Zero may in fact be Lelouch," Kyoshiro stated.
40"I don't follow you," said Li with a befuddled look.
40“Assuming that this new Zero knows Schneizel on a personal level,” Kyoshiro raised his left eyebrow, “we can surmise that Zero knows that Empress Nunnally would be safe with Schneizel for the time being, and thus he could return to Japan to acquire whatever equipment he would need to counter Schneizel’s current strategy.”
40Xingke sighed. “So, you’re saying that this new Zero is aware of Schneizel’s plan of action because he is behaving in a manner that suggests he knows how Schneizel thinks.”
40“Exactly,” Tohdoh said with a smirk.
40“That would suggest this new Zero has intimate knowledge of Schneizel’s thought patterns.” Xingke met Tohdoh’s gaze. “If this is the case, what would you have me do now, General?”
40“For now, just hold your position there.” Tohdoh brought up a digital window on the viewscreen. “Keep your fleet just to the north of the main Gambier Island, over one of the smaller atolls. The Indian military industrial complex has informed me that the Gefjun disturber Schneizel is using cannot penetrate ocean water beyond a few meters. Therefore, I want you to prepare a strike team of underwater KMFs as your defense perimeter in case Schneizel does use his Gefjun weapon and the duchess takes advantage of this.”
40Xingke gave Kyoshiro a short bow. “It will be done, General Tohdoh.”


* * *

40“Don’t keep holding back on my account, Lulu,” C.C. said as she parried another swing of Lelouch’s bokuto.
40“You know I don’t want to hurt you,” Lelouch taunted her. “How would I get by without my favorite witch?”
40“Oh? Is that how it is?” C.C. snickered as she thrust her wooden sword at him. “You’d be lost without me, huh?”
40“They’ve been at this for six hours, Enoch,” Suzaku said with concern. “Lelouch hasn’t had a break or eaten in almost nine hours. You need to let him rest.”
40Enoch gave Suzaku a cold look. “No. He has learned and mastered in six days what it takes most martial arts students to learn in six times that amount in years. He can’t afford to let up now.”
40Lelouch turned his bokuto in towards C.C.’s thrust and flipped the sword from her hands. He brought the sword up to her throat. “Please forgive me, but I believe I’ve won this match.”
40C.C. pushed the wooden sword away and winked at him. “Yeah? Does that mean you’ve conquered me?”
40Lelouch took off his helmet and smiled at her. “Yes, and all your treasures are now mine, fair lady.”
40C.C. leaned in and kissed him on the lips. “I accept your terms of unconditional surrender, my Lord.”
40“Ah-HEM!” Enoch glared at them. “There’ll be time enough to reward him later this evening when you two are alone. For now, he has one more opponent to face before we’ve finished for today.”
40“One more?” Lelouch asked in surprise. “Who?” He looked at his sister and grinned. “Surely you don’t mean Euphie? Sure she’s learned how to pilot a KMF quite well, we were all trained to pilot them as children, but she's no martial arts expert.”
40Suzaku made a cutting gesture with his hand over his throat as he silently mouthed “Lelouch, don't” to his friend.
40Euphemia stood up and tied her hair back with an elastic hair-tie. “Lelouch, I’m going to have to make you eat those words.”
40C.C. passed the bokuto to Euphie as the pink-haired woman walked onto the kendo mat.
40“Ready?” Euphie asked with a wink.
40“Don’t you need a suit of armor?” Lelouch scoffed. “I wouldn’t want to hurt one of my favorite sisters.”
40Euphemia put the bokuto over her head with the tip pointed towards Lelouch in a combat stance. “I guess I forgot to tell you that I’m a seventh don in gevurah krav maga.”
40“What’s gevurah krav maga?” Lelouch asked with a disturbed expression.
40Enoch looked at Lelouch and grinned widely. “It’s a highly refined version of Israeli Special Forces hand-to-hand combat techniques and is based heavily on ninjitsu with emphasis on ending the fight as quickly as possible with the greatest amount of force.”
40Euphie gave him a warm smile. "Don't worry, little brother; I'll go easy on you."
40"You're not still mad at me, are you?" Lelouch asked in a nervous tone.
40Euphie giggled, "We'll talk about it later. Right now...your butt is mine."


* * *

40Nina Einstein walked along the white marble floor in one of the ornately decorated hallways of Schneizel’s palace as the light of the setting sun washed the whole path in brilliant copper and gold as it shone through the huge picture windows that ran along length of the hall.
40Professor Einstein was clothed in her lab coat, white breeches, and a pink blouse, all of which ruffled slightly as a sea breeze came through one of the open windows. She adjusted her hair as the wind blew it out of place, and Nina turned to look out at the ocean beyond.
40“This place is so beautiful,” she said aloud to herself. “To think that it’s little more than a prison for me.”
40“You shouldn’t say such things,” Kannon said as he rounded a corner at the far end of the hall. He was dressed in a typical Britannian noble’s garments: tight riding breeches; black, knee-high leather boots; and a finely crafted surcoat which had a pair of tails in the back and was high-cut in front. Kannon’s hair was pulled back in a ponytail held in place by a circular, braided, metal band.
40“Forgive me if I don’t appreciate being kidnapped to come here,” Nina scowled at him. “I realize that you had no choice in the matter, Kannon, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m here being forced to help a man who’s clearly lost his grip on reality.”
40Kannon hung his head. “I’m sorry I couldn’t resist him, Nina.” Kannon Maldini walked up to her and took her hands gently in his. “I never meant to hurt you, Nina.”
40“I know, Kannon,” Nina said with a slight smile. “We are all victims of Geass. Even Princess Euphemia was unable to fight against that power, and she lost her life because of it.”
40“It’s a terrible thing…Geass,” Kannon said to her as his eyes moistened.
40Nina caressed his face. “I know it is…are you still under Schneizel’s power?”
40“I don’t know…I don’t really remember when he told me to do what I did…and I can’t remember even doing it,” Kannon said, embarrassed.
40“Geass must cause a certain amount of brain damage upon the recipient,” Nina said more to herself than to Kannon.
40“Pardon?” Kannon asked, confused.
40Nina looked up at him and gave him a warm smile. “I’ve been working on something for a long time, Kannon. Since the end of the Demon Emperor’s reign, I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t Lelouch vi Britannia that destroyed the whole of the Britannian Empire, it was Geass. It was Geass that caused Suzaku Kururugi to fire the FLEIJA that killed millions in Tokyo. It was Geass that caused Britannia to invade Japan. It was Geass that caused the death of Shirley Finette, and it was Geass that has allowed Schneizel to wage this war against the world. Now, once again, it’s causing mayhem and destruction. It is because of the evil and chaos that Geass brings that I’ve been working on finding out the source of this fiendish power. How it is that it’s come into our world, and how it is we can defend ourselves against it.”
40Kannon was stunned by her admission. “Do you really think you can put an end to the power of Geass?”
40“I don’t know yet,” Nina admitted. “I don’t have enough information about it, but I do know that it manifests itself as both a mental and physical power and that it has properties which allows the body to regenerate itself with what I’ve learned is called a Code.”
40“A Code?” Kannon was intrigued.
40Nina adjusted her glasses. “Yes, a re-codification of a person’s DNA pattern and thus genetic structure through the power that Geass comes from. Oddly enough, this re-codification is temporary, and a person can revert back to a normal human if this energy is passed onto another individual.”
40Her tone startled Kannon. “You sound as though you’re going to war.”
40Nina’s expression became cold and hard. “I am Kannon…I’m going to war with the power of Geass.”


* * *

40“You fight well for a newbie,” Euphemia giggled as she walked out of the ladies locker room in her Red Dragon jumpsuit, wiping her wet hair with a large towel. She made her way up to where Lelouch was kneeling on the kendo mat; his body shook from exhaustion as it finally rested.
40“Thank you, Euphie, but you still beat me.” Lelouch looked around the room.
40"Not really. You were pretty worn out by the time I got to test your mettle, and you held your own up until the end." She wrinkled her nose at him. "Which reminds me...you should get out of that stinky armor and catch a nice hot shower, Lelouch."
40Lelouch put his hand on the back of his head. "Yeah...you're right." He stood up from the floor and removed his set of bogu (kendo armor) as his stomach grumbled.
40“Hungry, huh?” Euphemia said with a smile. “I see Enoch and the others haven’t gotten back yet with the food.”
40Lelouch tittered, “Yah, C2 is probably trying to convince him to buy every kind of pizza on the menu."
40She laughed, "She sure does like pizza."
40"Yes, she does," he smiled back at her as his stomach protested again. He looked down at it. "I guess my body wants food, but I don't really have an appetite right now.”
40Lelouch gave her a sad look.
40She cocked her head as she asked him, “What is it?”
40“I’m really sorry, Euphemia,” he said with a sad smile. “I never meant to hurt you.”
40Euphemia walked up to him and hugged him. "I know." Tears welled up in her eyes.
40Lelouch's voice trembled, "I couldn't..." He paused to control his voice. "I couldn't stop my Geass. When I gave that order...I didn't mean it."
40Euphemia squeezed him tight. "I know...you did what all foolish boys do. You boasted about how great you are, and like all boys, it backfired on you." She laughed through her tears. "I don't remember what happened, but I know what I did, and I don't blame you for it anymore. If I hadn't been so selfish and stupid...so eager to be with Suzaku...I wouldn't have created the Special Administrative Zone and fallen into Schneizel's trap to thwart Zero."
40He returned her embrace. "But it doesn't change what I did...I can't forgive myself."
40Euphemia touched noses with him and looked into his teary eyes. "Well, I forgive my little brother..." She gave him a devilish smirk while she tried to hold back the tears that ran down her face. "For everything but shooting me...you jerk."
40Tears flowed down Lelouch's own cheeks. "You got me back."
40She kissed him on the forehead. "Yah, I did...so now we're even, huh?"
40"I promise I'll never hurt you again," Lelouch said as they hugged again.
40"Thank you, Lelouch," she cried. "I don't know why we can't just be a family...you, Nunnally, Cornelia, me...and even Schneizel. I don't understand him, Lelouch. Why is he such a monster? Why? He tried to kill us all...why?"
40"Because it's all he knows, Euphie..." Lelouch spoke softly in her ear yet his voice sounded distant. "The ghost of Charles zi Britannia lives on in him...a twisted, sick fiend who wants nothing less than total domination of the world and annihilation of all those who oppose him. I should have killed him when I had the chance."
40Euphie held his shoulders and looked directly at him. "NO, Lelouch! Don't you dare blame yourself for what Schneizel has done! You gave him a second chance and HE chose this path, not YOU!"
40The fierceness of her voice, its pain and anguish caused him to sob, "I....I tried, Euphie...I tried to make the world a better place for Nunnally...for everyone."
40"I know." She caressed his face and wiped away his tears. "Which is why I forgive you, little brother, and why we're all trying to help you. Enoch sees the good in you. If he didn't, he wouldn't be helping you. He wants you to do what's right. To defend the weak, protect the innocent, and hold individual freedom in the highest regard. It's why he and I want to help you stop Schneizel and save our sisters and our world."
40Lelouch forced a smile. "I love you, Euphemia."
40Euphie kissed him on the cheek. "I love you too, Lelouch."
40C.C. burst into the room and stopped dead in her tracks. "LELOUCH!"
40Lelouch and Euphemia were startled and broke their embrace.
40Euphie blushed red.
40"What is it, C2?" Lelouch asked as he recomposed himself.
40"You need to get into your Zero suit immediately and meet Ohgi on the bridge!" C.C. exclaimed.
40"Why? What's going on?" he asked, unnerved by her urgency.
40C.C. gave him a grave look. "It's Cornelia."

Kodai Okuda
09-29-2010, 01:00 AM
Turn Twenty One: Sisters

40“I remember when we used to run through the farm fields of Cyprus frolicking like wood nymphs over vineyards of olives and grapes while our mother called for us in the distance. I recall how we entered the military together. How we fought to preserve the independence of our city and ultimately our rise to power. I blush at the thought of all the men we conquered together and the nights the three of us spent sharing a bed to drive away the loneliness. The Great War was agony for me when we were forced to fight on opposite sides of the world away from each other. Then the war ended, and we were reunited for our long sleep and the journey we all hoped would lead us to a new promised land. But things did not go as planned. We overslept and might not have awoken were it not for fate smiling on us. Now one of you is gone, and a piece of me has died with you. The other is now a slave of the man-god called Zero and my heart wails in hurt and anger. My sisters, I hold these memories close to my heart for they are dear to me. Without the two of you, the world isn’t worth living in, and so it is with this vendetta in my heart that I throw off my bonds of loyalty and seek with pleasure revenge upon this world.” —Excerpt from the diary of Sthenno, goddess of Tartarus, dated November 1st, 2024 a.t.b.

40Porsche walked briskly towards the cavernous hangar bay at the southern end of the city of Tartarus. The Greek woman stopped and brushed back her long, black hair as she scanned the top of the gantry which held the Apollyon.
40As Athena’s designated gunner of the massive Titan Automatos, Porsche made her way past numerous security checkpoints, which only a few weeks prior had been dormant. Now the city, which had been asleep for thousands of years, was bustling with activity as its newly awakened denizens prepared for war with the world at large.
40The Greek Devicer came to the top edge of the 800-meter-wide (2640-foot), circular hangar silo which held the giant metal beast in its bowels. Porsche stopped at a tubular, four-man elevator container which protruded from the metal floor and entered the lift. The cylinder had a bronze metallic floor and ceiling and crystal clear walls that were uninterrupted save for the bronze doorframe and sliding door on the entry side.
40The crystal tube started down the hangar shaft as soon as Porsche closed the door behind her. Her emerald green eyes took in the awesome view of the metallic abyss as the elevator took her deep into the stomach of the city of Tartarus.
40The little elevator tube zipped down the side of the pit past scaffolding, power conduits, relay stations, and control booths until the twin spires of the top of Apollyon came into view.
40The pair of 200-meter-tall transmission towers extended up over the maintenance docks which covered the view of the lower bulk of the Titan. This level was where Porsche needed to board the mammoth Angel of the Abyss. The full height of the beast was 1120 meters (3696 feet) and its girth was 760 meters (2508 feet) from the tip of one of its four petal-like appendages to the tip of the opposite one. The four dome-shaped Aegis shield generators of the monster were clearly visible where they popped up over the maintenance scaffolding.
40A small hover-truck was waiting for her as she stepped out of the elevator tube and onto the maintenance platform. Inside the truck was a female driver wearing the helmet and armor of a Hoplite; it was not unusual, but something about this chauffer made Porsche uneasy.
40“We need to hurry,” Porsche told the driver as she got into the vehicle. “I need to prepare for takeoff immediately. Athena demands that the Apollyon be delivered to Prince Schneizel as soon as possible.”
40The female Hoplite nodded and drove the vehicle as swiftly as the little machine could travel towards the huge, mirror-topped, bronze blister that rose above the surface of the forward-facing petal structure. In moments, the machine came to a halt next to a boarding ramp that led up to an open access hatch on the side of the blister.
40Porsche looked around the area. “Where is everybody?”
40The female driver stood up and took off her helmet.
40“Sthenno? What are you doing here?” Porsche asked in shock.
40The twin sigils of Geass appeared in her eyes as she smiled savagely, “Putting my plan into motion…I Sthenno, goddess of Tartarus, command you…”


* * *

40“She demanded we permit her to land, Zero,” Ohgi told him as the Ikaruga faced off with the Avenger and Cornelia’s fleet of aerial warships just off the coast of Kaminejima.
40“You did the right thing, Captain Nu,” Zero said as C.C., the Red Dragon, and Suzaku walked up from behind him onto the bridge of the Ikaruga. Zero turned towards the Red Dragon whose mirrored mask reflected his own. She nodded at him slightly before Zero turned back to Ohgi. “Inform Princess Cornelia that we will meet her in the main hangar to discuss the refitting of her forces with the new energy fillers.”
40“But, Zero, we can’t just hand over that technology to the Britannians!” Ohgi exclaimed.
40Zero put his hand on Captain Nu’s shoulder. “Trust me, Ohgi; if we are to truly unify the world against the Greeks, then we must be the first to extend an olive branch towards that goal.”
40“I couldn’t agree more,” Lady Kaguya said as she and Lihua entered the command deck.
40“Uh…Lady-Chairman Sumeragi…what an unexpected surprise,” Zero stammered.
40Kaguya winked at him. “You’re fortunate that I’m here, Zero. I wouldn’t want you to have to face down big bad Cornelia alone without Nunnally here to protect you.”
40“Wait...you know?” Ohgi blurted out while he looked at her then Zero.
40Kaguya glared at him. “Yes, Ohgi, I do have ears, you know, thus I am able to deduce the current status of Zero.”
40Zero cleared his throat. “I see…well then, Lady Kaguya, I trust that you’ll lend me your expertise in this matter.”
40She put her arm through his. “Of course, Master Zero.” Kaguya eyed him authoritatively. “So long as you behave yourself this time. If you do, I might reconsider our previous engagement."
40"Previous engagement?" Suzaku asked with a befuddled look.
40Kaguya, who now stood shoulder to shoulder with Zero, lifted up her chin. "Yes, my cousin, Master Zero and I were once quite close...I was too young then, but now..." She snuggled up to him. "I've certainly matured enough." Kaguya stuck her chest out to show how in six years her supple body had grown into womanhood.
40Zero coughed. "I can see that."
40C.C. grabbed Zero's other arm. "Haven't we had this little discussion before, Lady Kaguya?"
40"Oh, C2?" Kaguya feigned surprise. "Are you still here? I thought you'd be off by now sniffing for a slice of pizza."
40"What!?" C.C. sneered at Kaguya. “Why, you little…”
40“Ladies, please!” Zero barked. “Cornelia is not a patient woman.”
40The Red Dragon put her hands on her hips and cocked her head as she addressed Zero, “What is it with you anyway?”
40Zero only shrugged.
40C.C. and Kaguya glared at the Red Dragon who put up her hands defensively. “Well…women fawn all over him…I was just curious as to why.”
40“Maybe because he’s like one of the gals,” Enoch snickered as he walked onto the mezzanine of the bridge. He was dressed in a Black Knight uniform with the silver maple leaf of a lieutenant colonel on his lapel.
40Zero looked down at his rank insignia. “Think highly of yourself, do you?”
40“Always,” the amber eyed man chuckled.
40Kaguya looked at him with distrust. “And who might you be?”
40Enoch took her free hand in his and kissed it as he bowed to her. “Lt. Colonel Enoch Apsu, milady, Black Knight Special Operations Group.”
40Suzaku covered the smirk that crossed his mouth with his hand while C.C. rolled her eyes.
40Sumeragi blushed. “Oh…it’s a pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant Colonel.”
40Lihua walked towards Enoch and smiled at him. “I’m Empress Jiang Lihua.” She held out her hand. “I’m pleased to meet you also, Lt. Colonel.”
40“The pleasure is all mine, ladies.” Enoch kissed Lihua’s hand; the girl turned beet red.
40Kaguya and Lihua giggled.
40C.C. pulled Zero along. “Come on, we’d better get moving before the pleasantries get out of hand.”


* * *

40Zero’s troop quickly made their way down to where Princess Cornelia li Britannia stood awaiting them.
40Cornelia was standing at the foot of the transport shuttle which had brought her to the Ikaruga with only Guilford as her escort.
40“I trust that you were delayed for some good reason, Zero?” Cornelia said as she came forward towards him while he and his group stopped a few yards away from where she stood.
40“Yes, I had another matter to attend to,” Zero told her as he walked forward to meet her.
40Cornelia eyed Suzaku. “I see that you managed to escape punishment for your crimes. I find it hard to believe I can trust this Zero if he chooses to spare the life of a traitor.” She looked back towards Zero. “Show me I can trust you before I even entertain the idea of an alliance.”
40Zero put his hand forward in an open palm gesture. “I understand your concerns, Princess Cornelia li Britannia, and I am prepared to give you energy fillers which are resistant to Schneizel’s Gefjun disturber.”
40Cornelia put her hands on her hips. “Energy fillers?” she sneered at him. “I’m not interested in trinkets and baubles from you, Zero.” She looked down her nose at him. “I want the truth from you.”
40“About?” Zero asked as he opened his arms wide in bodily suggestion of surrender.
40“Who you are,” Cornelia smirked. “I’m sick and tired of the childish superhero act…If I am to entertain the idea of an alliance between the UFN and Britannia, I need to know the man that I’m putting my trust in…Take off that mask.”
40Enoch walked up next to Zero and stood by his side. “Forgive my impertinence, Princess, but are you sure you want that information? It could have dire consequences. It isn’t enough for you that the world puts its faith in Zero?”
40Zero said nothing.
40Cornelia eyed Enoch with contempt. “Who are you?”
40“Let’s just say I’m Zero’s moral compass of sorts.” Enoch winked at her with a smile.
40Cornelia did not find the gesture amusing. She whipped her gunsword from its holster and pointed it at Zero. “I’ll not be trifled with by some moronic subordinate of Zero! TAKE THAT MASK OFF NOW!”
40Kaguya and Jiang Lihua both gasped while C.C. grabbed her own sidearm and unlocked her holster. Suzaku held onto the Red Dragon’s hand as she gripped him back tightly with the tension of the moment.
40Enoch rushed in front of Zero and smiled at Cornelia. “Put the gun away, gorgeous; there’s no need for hostilities. We want to help you not fight you.”
40Guilford sprinted up next to his princess and drew his weapon but left it at his side.
40“You wish to help me?” inquired Cornelia with scorn. “Then help me know that I can trust you.”
40“Zero is willing to give you what you need to defeat…” Enoch started but was cut short by Zero.
40“It’s okay, Enoch; she deserves to know the truth,” Zero said as he removed his helmet.
40“YOU!” Cornelia snapped as her face contorted in anger. “You have no idea how long I’ve dreamed about this moment.” She fired directly at Lelouch’s head.
40Lelouch pulled back as a hand moved with inhuman speed in front of his face.
40Cornelia was stunned as Enoch opened his hand and held up the bullet between his index finger and his thumb. “Didn’t I warn you about the consequences of seeing his face?”
40Cornelia was too shocked to respond; the others were agape at the swiftness of the cybernetic man.
40Enoch looked at Lelouch with a smirk. “I’m impressed you were going to let her have her revenge.” Apsu winked at him. “Pity we don’t have time for that right now. Besides, I think you’ve been through enough emotional boot camp.”
40Lelouch sniggered, “I hope you’re right, Enoch, because my sister is not so easily dissuaded.”
40He turned back towards Cornelia who gazed at him in bewilderment.
40“Princess Cornelia, I understand your angst against your brother, but please listen to me when I tell you that he is being honest and sincere with you and wants nothing more than to make amends for his sins of the past.” Enoch walked towards her slowly.
40Cornelia’s brow furrowed. “Sins of the past! You want me to forgive this monster after what he did!” She lunged forward with her gunsword and slashed at Lelouch.
40Enoch moved to intercept her, but Guilford fired on him forcing him to parry the rounds with his forearms to keep them from hitting Lelouch.
40“Suzaku, do something!” Kaguya yelled at him as she and the others watched in horror.
40Suzaku made a move towards Cornelia, but the Red Dragon was one step ahead of him. She outpaced him easily and ran up to intercept Cornelia, but there was no time.
40The Red Dragon grabbed Lelouch and tumbled with him to the floor to prevent Cornelia from slicing him in half.
40“I’ll not be denied my vengeance!” Cornelia bellowed. “I don’t care that you killed our father…destroyed our nation…and set the numbers free. You were right to do so, but I can NEVER forgive you for Euphie! NEVER!”
40Enoch deflected numerous rounds from Guilford's pistol before grabbing the weapon out his hand and ejecting the magazine. "No offense, sir, but that's about enough of that nonsense."
40Cornelia swung her sword down at the Red Dragon and Lelouch. "Your interference has cost you your life!"
40Princess Cornelia's sword swing was halted as Suzaku grappled with her from behind. "Stop...Princess Cornelia, you don't understand!"
40"Let me go, you little eleven bastard!" Cornelia stomped on Suzaku's shin and broke his hold. She shoved him to the ground and pointed her weapon at Kururugi. "NOW YOU DIE!"
40"CORNELIA, DON'T!"
40Cornelia froze at the sound of the female voice that had issued the command. She turned mechanically to look at the person who had barked the order only to see Euphemia's angelic face staring at her with a pleading look as she removed her helmet.
40Euphie smiled at her. "Hi," she said softly.
40Cornelia's gunsword dropped to the floor as her strength left her. Suzaku got to her just in time to catch her as she slumped towards the ground, her gaze never leaving Euphie. Her mouth moved but no words came out.
40"How?" asked Guilford in disbelief as he came out of his own shock.
40Enoch grinned, "Me."
40Guilford nodded slowly. "I understand now." He bowed his head. "Thank you, Enoch Apsu, for guarding this secret," his voice cracked slightly, "and protecting Princess Euphemia all this time."
40Cornelia's lips trembled as tears welled in her eyes. She stood up as Suzaku let her go. In an instant, Cornelia embraced Euphemia. "Oh, God, Euphie...I thought you were dead!"
40Euphemia hugged her back. "No...Enoch saved me."
40Cornelia looked at her. "Who?"
40"The moron," Lelouch said bluntly.
40"Touché, it's about time you started to lighten up," Enoch giggled from where he stood next to Guilford.
40Cornelia looked at Enoch and cooed, "My thanks to you."
40Euphie gave Enoch a surprised look as Cornelia let go of her gently and walked towards Lelouch.
40Princess Cornelia looked down her nose at Lelouch. "No thanks to you."
40"Cornelia, please...Leave what happened in the past," Euphie pleaded with her. "I've forgiven him...you must understand it was an accident."
40"What say you, Zero?" Cornelia spat the name.
40Lelouch looked down at the floor. "I have no excuse for my actions. I made a stupid mistake and it nearly cost Euphie her life."
40Cornelia’s arm flew in one swift, fluid motion as she backhanded him across the face, nearly knocking him over. "Imbecile! How could you be so reckless?"
40"Cornelia! He's paid enough for his crimes!" Suzaku told her. "It was because he thought he killed Euphie that he had me slay him. He couldn't live with himself...you saw me do it!"
40"Then how is it that he still lives now?" Cornelia demanded.
40"I can explain that," C.C. said. "Your brother is now like me. A Geass user resurrected him and he killed her thus taking her Code."
40"Meaning?" Cornelia was mortified.
40"Meaning I am now cursed with immortality," Lelouch told her. "What more do you want of me, sister? I'm now damned to live forever, and thus I will serve this world in the capacity of Zero for eternity. Is that not enough penance for me to pay?"
40Cornelia's expression softened. "You poor stupid fool. If only I had known you and Nunnally were alive when I was viceroy...I would have..."
40"Don't," Lelouch pleaded. "We all made mistakes, Cornelia...mine was taking on the world alone and thinking I could change it for the better without actually working to do so. Now I'm going to correct that mistake, and I need your help to do it."
40Cornelia took hold of Lelouch's hands. "I’ll forgive you, Lelouch, on one condition."
40He looked up at her. "What is it you ask of me?"
40"That you never lie to us again or raise a weapon against your sisters."
40He looked her in the eyes. "I promise, on my honor and my life."
40She smiled at him, "That'll do, Lelouch." Cornelia hugged him. "It's good to finally have my little brother back." Tears streamed down her face.
40"And you also, Cornelia." Lelouch returned her embrace.
40"Holy shit!" Jiang Lihua blurted out.
40"Lihua!" Kaguya laughed.
40The Tianzi put her hand over her mouth. "Did I just say that out loud?"


* * *

40“Milady Athena.” One of the technicians within the command tower of Tartarus turned around to face her, panic in the man’s eyes.
40“What is it, Cicero?” she asked as if bored.
40“The Apollyon has just taken off without permission,” the man exclaimed.
40“What?” Jason stated with concern. “Who would dare?”
40“It’s Sthenno,” Nunnally said mechanically.
40“Are you sure, Empress?” Jason inquired.
40Nunnally turned to him and nodded. “Absolutely.”
40“Impressive,” Athena tittered. “You are, of course, correct.”
40“You know?” Jason asked his goddess in surprise.
40Athena grinned arrogantly, “Of course, I know. It was obvious to me that Sthenno would take this course of action.”
40“Then why didn’t you stop her?” Jason demanded.
40“You’re going to use her as a scapegoat, aren’t you? And allow her to destroy whatever she wants then pin the blame on her for this conflict,” Nunnally said in a horrified tone.
40“Precisely,” Athena smiled at her. “And I shall spare your brother Schneizel and your people, Nunnally. In return, I expect that you’ll purge your country of the progressive radicals which threaten to institute an oligarchy in the name of social justice and in its stead form a truly democratic republic.”
40Nunnally understood the lengths at which Athena would go to force a Greco-Roman form of government onto the whole of the Earth before the Greeks were ready to depart for the stars. She could feel Athena’s determination and resolve to either save the world or destroy it.
40“But that’s insane!” Jason barked. “With all due respect, milady, we cannot trust Sthenno not to use the core gun of Apollyon.”
40“On the contrary, my Champion,” Athena sniggered, “I fully expect Sthenno to attempt to use the core gun to fold the iron core of the Earth into deep space.”
40Nunnally was no cosmologist, but she knew that the Earth would break up into an asteroid belt if its core was jettisoned into space and all graviton force was lost. “That’s monstrous!”
40“Oh, don’t you worry, Empress; I’ve no intention of letting her get away with it.” Athena smiled, “Your dear brother Schneizel will see to that.” Athena pushed a button on a control station next to where she stood. “Won’t you, Prince Schneizel?”
40His image came up onto the main monitor of the command center. He smiled down at them, “Of course, my goddess Athena…everything is going according to our plan.”


* * *

40Tohdoh and Captain Nagisa Chiba walked along the outskirts of what remained of an Australian military complex a little over two miles away from Sydney. Kyoshiro shook his head in disgust at the sight of the lines of mangled KnightMare Frames that were once all part of the UFN armed forces.
40“Geass did all of this,” he said under his breath.
40Chiba looked up at him sympathetically. “We had no way of knowing it would come to this, General.”
40“We should have been ready,” said Tohdoh. “We were aware of the power of Geass. We knew we couldn’t trust Britannia, but those fools in the UFN allowed themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security, and we fell right in line with them.”
40Chiba put her arm through his. “General, you’re just going to have to accept that you’re human.”
40Kyoshiro smiled at her, “Unfortunately.” He leaned down to kiss her when the air-raid sirens screamed in the distance.
40“An attack?” asked Chiba in a surprised tone.
40“It must be,” Tohdoh exclaimed. “But who?”
40The contrails of flights of Type-21s passed over their heads towards the coastline of the Australian city. In the next moment, brilliant balls of light lit up the sky.
40Chiba was on her cell phone-sized communicator in moments. “What’s going on?” she demanded.
40“Have them send a shuttle for us; our jeep is too slow, and we need to get back ASAP!” Tohdoh told her as he watched a force of aerial warships lift off from the Sydney air base some five miles away from them.
40“Kyoshiro! The Musashi has identified the enemy as a single unit,” Chiba said with frantic eyes.
40“Single unit?” Tohdoh blurted out.
40Chiba nodded at him as she listened to the person on the other end of the line. “It’s some kind of mobile fortress.”
40“Tell them to wait for us to return before they begin an offensive—“ Kyoshiro cut himself short as he saw threads of blue light rising from Sydney like rainfall in reverse. His eyes grew wide in horror as he realized what was happening. “Chiba, tell them to get out of there!”
40But it was too late. The filaments curved towards a point in the middle of the city that was level with the middle of the tallest skyscrapers within the metropolis. A ball of blue energy formed there, and then, in a flash, the light expanded over the whole of the city and engulfed it. The next instant, Sydney was gone leaving only a huge pit where it once was. The pit was rapidly filled by the ocean whose current, in turn, sucked in the Musashi and its fleet of UFN warships, destroying the entire fleet.
40Chiba and Tohdoh could only look on in horror as the spectacle played itself out before them.
40“How many of them are left?’ said Tohdoh, desperate to know if any of the airships had survived.
40Chiba was too stunned to speak.
40“Captain!” Kyoshiro yelled at her.
40Nagisa snapped out of her initial shock and pressed her communicator frantically. “I’ve got someone,” she said more calmly now. “It’s the Amagi.”
40“How far are they?” Tohdoh asked.
40“Eight miles and closing,” she answered him as a shadow passed over them.
40Kyoshiro said nothing; he only looked on in awe of the massive thing.
40Chiba’s jaw dropped. “Good God, what is that thing?”


* * *

40“I can’t believe they’re actually getting along so well,” C.C. smiled at Euphie and Suzaku while Lelouch and Cornelia discussed their strategy to deal with Schneizel in the pair of comfy chairs in the center of Lelouch's personal quarters while the others sat at the coffee table on the far left of the room.
40“Before he was exiled, Lelouch was Cornelia’s favorite brother,” Euphie stated sadly. “It is a shame that he was taken from her. All three of us used to vacation together at the beaches on the coast of the Florida region of the Empire. Cornelia and Lelouch would always go swimming together and it usually ended up in a splashing contest. She loved his attention and he hers. It hurt her deeply when Charles sent him and Nunnally here as political bargaining pieces.”
40“No wonder she was so angry with him when she learned he was Zero,” Suzaku stated matter-of-factly.
40“Um…he shooting me had a little bit to do with that too, ya know.” She pinched Suzaku’s side.
40“Ouch! Euphie!” He feigned being hurt.
40“Don’t whine,” she teased him. “I thought you were the big bad Knight of Zero?”
40“I am.” He leaned in and kissed her on the lips. “But I’m defenseless against you, Red Dragon.”
40“Okay, get a room or something,” Enoch said as he set down a bowl of fruit and a pitcher of iced tea on the oak coffee table they were seated at.
40C.C. looked at him longingly, scrutinizing his cargo. “Aw.”
40“No…no pizza,” he said with a snicker. “Shouldn’t you at least try to eat healthy once in awhile?”
40"I like pizza!" C.C. scowled at him.
40Cornelia and Lelouch looked over at them. Lelouch raised an eyebrow. "You should just let her have what she wants, don't you think?"
40"Well, if you think she deserves it, Lelouch, then maybe I can oblige her." Enoch cast C.C. a leer as he put the bowl of fruit down in front of Euphie and Suzaku and then walked out of the room. He returned a moment later with a cart that held a lidded tray atop it and numerous smaller dishes which had stacks of small sandwiches and various cheese snacks.
40C.C. gave him a wide-eyed look. "And what is under the lid of that tray?"
40"Wallach!" Enoch picked up the cover to reveal a deep-dish, twenty-inch-diameter pizza. "I made this myself," he said with a wink. "It's a triple-layer cheese pizza pie with eight different cheeses, steak and chicken filling, and an extra-thick crust."
40"For me!?" C.C.'s eyes were glistening.
40"Yes, gorgeous, all for you," Enoch smiled at her.
40"Enoch, you're the best!" C.C. clasped her hands together and looked over the pizza pie as if it were a masterpiece of art.
40Enoch handed her a plate and cut a piece of the oozing triple-layer Italian dish for her. He barely placed it on her plate before she snatched a fork and knife from the food cart and dug in.
40"Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! This is divine!" C.C. said in ecstasy.
40"You cook too, huh?" Cornelia smiled at Enoch.
40"Uh...yeah," he said with unease at the look in her eyes.
40Guilford sighed and adjusted his collar uneasily.
40Euphie whispered to Suzaku, "Oh, crap, I think she likes him."
40"Seriously?" Kururugi blurted out as he poured each of them a glass of iced tea.
40Euphemia grimaced as Cornelia twirled a lock of her hair and watched Enoch intently while he placed the dishes on the coffee table. Euphie turned to Suzaku. "Seriously."
40"Lelouch, you should try this pizza; it's awesome!" C.C. swooned.
40Lelouch rolled his eyes and slumped back in his chair. "Can we please get back to planning on our next phase of dealing with Schneizel?"
40Ohgi's voice came over the intercom. "Zero, you're needed on the bridge at once."
40Lelouch got up and rushed over to the nearest control panel. "What is it, Ohgi?"
40"We have a serious problem," said Captain Nu in a frantic tone.


* * *

40"Bring us down towards the general location of the Kraken," Sthenno demanded as Porsche flew the Apollyon high over edge of the coastline of Kaminejima.
40"As you wish, milady," Porsche replied obediently. She piloted the massive machine steadily downwards. Its bulk was concealed by the moonless sky above it as it sank into the sea in complete darkness up to its four petals, leaving only the very top of the machine exposed above the water.
40“Remain here with the Apollyon; I shall return shortly,” Sthenno stated as she moved from the inline, two-seat cockpit towards a door in its rear.
40“I shall await your return, milady,” Porsche stated with a nod.
40Sthenno entered the small craft hangar at the front of the Apollyon and got into the hovercraft that she and Porsche had come to the giant mecha in. Once inside the small conveyance, she activated it and opened the outer door. Water lapped at the edge of the small craft hangar as Sthenno drove her hovercraft out towards the shoreline that was over a mile away.
40Within a minute, she was at the shore next to the shadowy mass of the Kraken where it was anchored and surfaced next to Kaminejima.
40Sthenno wasted no time in scaling the side of the Kraken and making her way to the upper hatch. She opened the egress and entered the ship, climbing down the ladder to the interior airlock of the vessel.
40Medusa met her at the bottom on the other side of the airlock hatch with a guard detail. “So happy you could join us, my sister, but you should not have come,” Medusa told her sadly as she watched Sthenno from behind.
40Sthenno turned around revealing that her Dispeller visor was down over her eyes. “I’ve come here prepared,” said Sthenno as she used the device. Instantly, the inverted blue sigil of the Geass Dispeller filled the room.
40Medusa held her head as Lelouch’s Geass was lifted from her. “Uh…thank you, Sthenno.”
40Sthenno lifted her tiara. “You’re welcome, Medusa.” She embraced her sister and kissed her on the forehead. “I came here to rescue you, and to let you share in our vengeance against Schneizel and his wretched kin.”
40“But…what of Lelouch?” she asked, confused.
40“Who?” Sthenno inquired with irritation.
40Medusa was fidgety. “Lelouch…I…never mind.”
40Sthenno regarded her with distrust, “You mean Schneizel’s brother Lelouch, don’t you?”
40Medusa blushed. “Yes.”
40Sthenno looked down at her and brushed the stray locks of hair out from in front of Medusa’s face. “Do you desire this Lelouch so much that even without his spell upon you he still evokes feelings within you?”
40Medusa met Sthenno’s glare. “Yes,” she answered rhapsodically.
40“Where is he now?” Sthenno asked with venom.
40“I don’t know; he left with Enoch and a green-haired goddess,” Medusa answered in a sheepish tone.
40“ENOCH!” Sthenno spat. “You fancy a man who is in league with that Hebrew dog knowing that devil killed our sister?”
40“I can’t help it,” Medusa whined. “Lelouch is so beautiful. He’s like a man in a woman’s form, only not.”
40“He must be something to make you swoon so.” Sthenno cracked a smile. “If I can acquire him, I will, but for now, we must depart. Athena will no doubt send forces to come and apprehend me now that I’ve stolen the Apollyon.”
40Medusa’s eyes grew wide in fear upon hearing the name of the commander of Tartarus. “Athena is awake?”
40“Yes, and we must make our revenge swift if we are to be successful,” Sthenno told her with a grin. “I need you to pilot the Apollyon.”
40Medusa nodded. “But what of the Kraken?”
40Sthenno gave her a confident look. “Porsche will take it back to Tartarus and explain to Athena why I took the mobile fortress. Even Athena should understand that my stealing the Apollyon was no insult meant to her. Of all people, Athena should know that this is a matter of honor.”


* * *

40“We just detected it a few minutes ago.” Ohgi was clearly disturbed.
40“What kind of enemy unit is it?” Cornelia asked as she, Zero, C.C., Guilford, and Enoch entered the bridge.
40Villetta was nervous around Cornelia and didn’t hide it. “It’s some kind of mobile fortress…and it’s big, really big.”
40“If they had wanted to attack, they could have already,” Zero said.
40“We’ve received some preliminary reports coming out of Australia of Sydney being totally wiped out by an unknown enemy unit.”
40“It’s the Apollyon,” Enoch said in a dull tone.
40“So soon?” Zero asked in surprise. “But I thought they still required more Sakuradite to power it.”
40“Apparently not,” Cornelia said matter-of-factly.
40“But why haven’t they attacked Tokyo?” Ohgi asked.
40“Good question,” Zero said.
40“Guess Medusa lied to you, huh?” C.C. snickered with a narrow-eyed look at Zero.
40“Medusa?” Enoch gasped. “Of course! That’s it!” Enoch kissed C.C. on the cheek. “You’re a genius.”
40“Really, what for?” C.C. blushed.
40“You think Sthenno is piloting that thing?” Zero inquired.
40“Where is the Apollyon now?” Enoch asked Villetta.
40“It’s submerged just off the coast of Kaminejima,” she answered him.
40“Then we need to move quickly if we’re going to have any chance of dealing with that monster easily,” Zero stated in a hurried tone.
40“Agreed,” Enoch nodded.

Kodai Okuda
09-30-2010, 05:58 AM
Turn Twenty Two: Apollyon
The Angel of the Abyss
40“It was built to destroy the world; an ultimate machine of total destruction whose sole purpose was a weapon of last resort. It was constructed by the ancient Mu Empire to annihilate Atlantis but was stolen during the Great Geass War and hidden in the city of Tartarus. In essence, it was little more than a star cruiser stripped down and converted into a fold-cannon with offensive and defensive secondary armaments. It was a weapon that the Olympians had taken to prevent it from ever being used, yet as fate would have it, one of their own would be the individual who would unleash its deadly power.” —Excerpt of a news report given by Milly Ashford during the 1st Constitutional Convention of the Commonwealth of Earth in Buenos Ares, dated January 12th, 2025 a.t.b.

40“This thing is huge!” Milly Ashford told the camera as she hung onto the side of an aerial shuttle that flew around the massive four-petal machine, which lay a few miles from the edge of the shoreline of Kaminejima.
40The wind whipped at her long, curly, blonde hair as Seiji tried to steady his compact TV camera/recorder.
40Milly pointed out into the distance as the camera panned to follow where she aimed her index finger. "As you can see in the distance, the UFN warship Ikaruga and a flotilla of Britannia warships have congregated on the far side of Kaminejima. We don't, as of yet, know whether or not they plan on attacking this new warmachine, but we do know that an aerial shuttle landed on the island some time ago, though we do not know who was on the courier or why they're on the island."
40"Something is wrong," Seiji told her.
40"What?" Milly asked in irritation.
40"I think our signal is being jammed," he said.
40"You can still record, right?" Milly rolled her eyes.
40"Yes, ma'am...I got it all on DVD." He gave her a thumbs-up.
40The pilot of the aerial shuttle called to them from the front of the craft, "Mrs. Ashford, we're being ordered to evacuate this area immediately by authority of Lady-Chairman Kaguya Sumeragi and Princess Cornelia li Britannia, acting Regent of the Britannian Empire."
40"Oh, Really?" Milly asked with a devilish grin. "Pilot, set course for the Ikaruga and tell them we need to make an emergency landing!"
40The pilot turned and grimaced. "Mrs. Ashford, you know I can't do that unless I have a real emergency."
40Milly scowled at him, "If you don't land this shuttle on the Ikaruga RIGHT NOW, you're going to have a real emergency!" She took the fire extinguisher from off the wall on the inside of the plane and unhooked its nozzle.
40"Whatever you say, ma'am," the pilot grumbled while he clicked on his headset comm. "Attention, Ikaruga, this is Civilian Flight 80021; we have a medical emergency and request immediate landing."
40"What is the nature of your emergency, Flight 80021?" Villetta asked over the radio.
40"One of our passengers has gone insane," the pilot snickered.


* * *

40"Where did Lelouch and that friend of his run off to?" Cornelia asked Euphie as they waited for C.C. to don the Zero uniform within Lelouch's personal quarters.
40"Miss him already, sis?" Euphie giggled.
40Cornelia blushed. "What? No."
40"Enoch dragged Lelouch off to go and get something from Kaminejima," Suzaku answered Cornelia's question with a smirk. "I'm not sure what though; there's nothing down there except the Thought Elevator."
40"Well, I hope they return soon," C.C. lamented. "I don't know how long we have until that thing out there makes a move. I can play Zero for only so long while those two are off fooling around."
40"He sure is a strange one," Cornelia said to Euphie.
40"Who? Enoch?" Euphie stuck the tip of her tongue out. "Yah, he's really....different, but interesting. Would you like to get to know him better?"
40Cornelia blushed red and gave Euphemia a gentle shove. "Will you stop?! I'm just curious, that's all. Besides, I'm cautious about this stranger who seems so willing to hang out with Lelouch."
40"Sure you are," Euphie teased. "That's okay, sis; it's probably for the better since I think he's taken."
40Cornelia pouted, "You're kidding."
40Euphie laughed, "Yeah, I am...but you should have seen the look on your face."
40"Oh, really!" Cornelia grabbed Euphie at the ribs and tickled her. "Now you're gonna get it."
40"NO...STOP!" Euphie giggled uncontrollably. "Suzaku! Help!"
40Suzaku was speechless.
40Euphie doubled over onto the carpeted floor. "Cornelia, stop, I can't breathe...I'm laughing too hard!"
40Cornelia chuckled lightheartedly as she continued, "Well, you shouldn't pick on me, Euphie. It's not everyday I find a man that catches my eye, and you of all people should know it."
40Guilford entered the room to find Cornelia on top of Euphie tickling her mercilessly. "Uh...did I miss something?"
40Cornelia brushed the loose hairs out from in front of her face. "What is it, Guilford?"
40Guilford's demeanor became deadly serious. "Captain Ohgi has requested all of you on the bridge. The Greek machine is lifting out of the water."


* * *

40"I'm not particularly interested in their puny fleet," Sthenno scoffed at Medusa from within the cockpit of the Apollyon as it rose from the depths of the ocean into the sky. "Although, I do suppose there'll be time enough to deal with Schneizel even if we do dispatch this nuisance."
40Medusa sat in front of Sthenno. “Perhaps we should just pick off the bulk of their fleet to instill terror within their leaders and illustrate the futility of their situation. Besides, don't we need to give Porsche time to escape?”
40“A novel idea, my sister, and yes, Porsche could use a distraction to get the Kraken out of here.” Sthenno tittered, "Not to mention, I'd like to see if this Zero of theirs is as powerful as we have been led to believe." Sthenno laughed wickedly. "Surely the brother of Schneizel ought to be able to defeat the might of Apollyon."
40"You shouldn't underestimate him, Sthenno," Medusa cautioned. "Lelouch is brilliant...perhaps more so than Schneizel."
40Sthenno sighed. "Don't worry, my sister; I won't destroy his flagship. I'll simply bring him to his knees...then you can do with him as you please."
40Medusa was elated. "Oh, thank you, Sthenno! I promise you that you won't be disappointed in him. He truly is beautiful."
40Sthenno couldn't help but smile. "I only hope I don't regret this."


* * *

40"Damn, that thing is big!" Suzaku exclaimed as he, the Red Dragon, and the others walked onto the bridge to join Ohgi.
40"You two should get to your mecha," Villetta said with urgency in her voice. "The Yamato no Orochi has already been scrambled and will be launching any minute. We need every KnightMare we've got left right now."
40"I take it the Avalon hasn't returned with the new energy fillers?" Cornelia asked Ohgi.
40"No, Princess Cornelia," he said in a disappointed tone. "Rakshata said the Fuji supply group is still loading the enhanced energy fillers onto the Avalon."
40"What good are KMFs against something that big?" Guilford asked.
40"We don't know," Villetta replied. "But we've got to put up some kind of defensive perimeter if we're going to have nay kind of chance against this thing."
40"Or we might be sending our soldiers to their doom," Cornelia lamented as she looked over towards the Red Dragon. "You two, be careful out there; we don't know what we're up against."
40The Red Dragon nodded as Suzaku replied, "Don't worry, Princess Cornelia; we'll be careful."
40The pair of Hakodeshim pilots left the bridge for their machines.


* * *

40"I don't like this, Kallen," Tamaki grumbled as he piloted his Type-21B alongside her Guren-Phoenix. The Yamato no Orochi flew in a diamond formation towards the massive structure before them.
40"We've been up against similar things," she said less than enthusiastically.
40"You have?" Gregor was surprised.
40"We once took on the Damocles," Anya added as she flew to the right of the Guren in her Type-24O Okouchi.
40"Really?" Tetsuo was shocked by the admission of his new girlfriend. "That must have been something."
40"It was," Anya snickered. "At least this new enemy machine doesn't have swarms of KnightMares protecting it or a FLEIJA launcher. We should be able to get up close to it and attack from below."
40"Captain Kozuki, what do you make of that large, ring-shaped superstructure in the center of this thing?" Akira asked as he studied the oddly shaped monster.
40"I dunno," Kallen responded as she looked over the huge mecha. "The horned center on the top looks like some kind of cannon that shoots upwards; the four petal-like appendages are probably the business ends of this mega-fortress."
40"I'll bet the sphere on each end of the side and rear petals are weapons or defense shields," Mika said. "The mirrored blister on the top front of the forward petal is probably the control center."
40"That would be my guess too, Mika," said Kallen as they got closer to the mammoth machine.
40"The two large, lozenge-shaped structures with holes on their ends at the bottom front of the forward petal have got to be cannons of some kind," Gregor said as the Apollyon dominated his viewscreen.
40"What about those beehive look'n things," Tamaki remarked as they started around the left side of the giant machine at a distance of less than a kilometer.
40"Graviton generators?" Gregor ventured.
40"Not likely, since there is one wing-shaped structure protruding from each quadrant of the lower portion of the craft," Kallen said as she searched over the whole machine for a possible weak point.
40"I'm detecting a power surge pouring into those beehives!" Lena said as she watched the sensor monitors of her Type-24G.
40A myriad of Hades Cannon blasts spewed out of the over one hundred spherical emplacements situated in strips of five to six barbettes that ran along the surface of each of the two beehive-like structures in batteries.
40The shower of beams passed by the Yamato no Orochi and slammed into the fleet of aerial warships behind them.
40"They're bombarding the fleet!" Tamaki yelled.
40"I can see that!" Kallen gave the Apollyon a desperate once over then made her decision. "All units, proceed to attack the mirrored dome. We'll destroy their command deck first."


* * *

40"Sthenno has begun her attack, my Lord," a male sensor operator told Schneizel within the control room of his palace.
40"Excellent," he said calmly as he scanned over the three large monitors of his Pitcairn Island fortress command center. Each of the three screens showed a satellite-eye's view of a different objective: one was of Sthenno's assault on the fleet near Kaminejima, the second was Evita and Xingke's fleets near the Gambier Islands, and the third monitored the city of Tartarus as it bustled with life.
40"Have their worldwide communications been jammed?" Schneizel inquired of the man.
40"Yes, my Lord," he nodded.
40"Then all is ready," Schneizel smiled.
40"Shall we begin transmission now, sire?" the man asked.
40"Yes, please do," Schneizel said smoothly as he stood up from his throne and walked towards the center of the room.
40He adjusted his dark glasses as he waited for his communications officer to give the signal. A moment later, the man nodded towards Schneizel.
40Schneizel looked into a camera at the far end of the room in front of him and began. "People of Earth, the scourge of war and destruction that continues to plague our world will never cease until we come to understand why it is we continue this senseless fighting. Is it because of hunger, want of goods and services, or the simple desire to be free? In some cases, yes, but not now. This war which the world faces is a war of aggression brought about by the willful acts of the Black Knights and their leader who seeks revenge against Britannia. Even now, a new and terrible weapon has been borne from the depths of the Black Knight's secret military bases."
40An image of the Apollyon attacking the Britannian aerial fleet briefly replaced Schneizel's image over the transmission.
40"Even as Princess Cornelia's flotilla had gone to Japan to sue for peace, the Black Knights instead have chosen war." Schneizel put his hand to his chest. "I, your humble servant, am now looking down the barrel of the Black Knight's gun."
40The image of Xingke's fleet just off the coast of Gambier Island came on the screen.
40"Nothing will satiate Tohdoh and his Black Knights except the total destruction of the House of Britannia and all who oppose him. The Australian forces saw through his deception and chose to join me in my quest for world peace. They threw off the bonds of the Black Knight reign of oppression and tyranny, but General Tohdoh would have none of that.”
40The image of the flooded crater of Sydney filled the TV screens of the citizens of the world.
40“This man and his band of goose-stepping death-dealers have murdered millions in the name of his brand of justice. Empress Nunnally has gone missing while under the care of Tohdoh’s Trojan horse, Suzaku Kururugi, who, under the guise of Zero, led the world into a false sense of peace and security while his master, Tohdoh with his Black Knights, plotted to take control of the whole world. My sister Cornelia saw through this sham and denied the rule of the blind United Federation of Nations who willingly and foolishly fell into the trap that had been laid by Tohdoh and his Black Knights. Even as I speak to you, my fellow people, my dear sister Cornelia's fleet is being scourged by the Black Knight’s new weapon, and I am powerless to help her. I myself am now preparing to defend this last hope for the world against this league of hatred and its army of misguided warriors.”
40Schneizel’s pleading face faded on the screen as the view of Xingke’s large Black Knight fleet off the coast of Gambier Island returned for a moment.
40“They seek to destroy the machine which will end war forever.” An image of the military base on Gambier Island appeared on the monitors of millions all over the Earth. “This Gefjun disturber has the power to stop aggression, to destroy all weapons of war, and help this world create a lasting peace. It is for this reason General Tohdoh and the Black Knights seek to destroy me and all of Britannia.”
40Schneizel outstretched his hand towards his worldwide audience. “I beseech you, peoples of the world, rise up against this evil and stand with Britannia to overthrow the Black Knights and their vile leader. Rise up for peace! Rise up for freedom! Rise up for a world without war!”
40The transmission ended.


* * *

40“What the heck is this place?” Lelouch asked Enoch as they walked through a dank and darkened hall with a massive, vaulted ceiling above their heads that ran an unknown length into the distance along the curvature of the bowels of Enoch’s Quantum Castle.
40“Oh, this is the armory.” Enoch gave him a boyish smile as he touched a keypad on the wall to the right side of them. In an instant, a large, metallic set of double doors slid open slowly revealing a pitch-black chamber beyond. Enoch walked into the inky darkness.
40“Now where the heck is that light switch?” Apsu said from the void.
40An uncomfortable silence passed by for a few minutes before Lelouch became irritated. “Hey, old man, are you still in there?”
40“Huh?” Enoch’s voice echoed from some distance within the chamber.
40“I said are you alright in there?” Lelouch yelled.
40“Found it!” said Enoch as the interior of the room was illuminated by countless overhead lights. The chamber was vast beyond reason and had four levels, two of which were above the wide walkway that Enoch stood upon and two below him.
40The floor of each level was made of some kind of clear plastic or metal. Lelouch was not sure which is was, but it was not the floor or vastness of the chamber that left Lelouch’s jaw agape; it was the myriad assembly of battle robots of clearly different make, model, type, and kind arranged in a sort of Dewey decimal system of machines arranged in lines on each level.
40“What the hell is all this?” Lelouch finally asked as he walked up to meet Enoch who stood looking through digital files on the control station in front of him.
40“What? Oh…this is my collection of mecha,” said Enoch matter-of-factly.
40“Collection?” Lelouch looked over the machines. “More like an army. How many do you have here?”
40“Only a few hundred thousand,” Enoch lamented. “Wish I had more, but I can only afford so many.”
40“Only?” Lelouch looked out at the vast rows of machines, most of which towered over any KnightMare Frame. “Only.”
40“Yeah, I know, I really wish I could afford to buy a few Mortar-Heads, but I don’t have the funds for that,” Enoch snickered. “I’ve got to buy starships and such, so I can’t afford to waste gold on high-end machines unless I’m authorized to.”
40“Starships?” asked Lelouch in disbelief.
40“Yeah, they’re in the next room.” Enoch smiled devilishly. “But we don’t have time for that right now. We need to get what we came here for and then get back.”
40“What did we come here for?” Lelouch inquired impatiently.
40“To get a few machines we’ll need to deal with the Apollyon.” Enoch grinned as a pair of symbols Lelouch couldn’t read came up on the screen in front of Apsu. “Found them! Let’s go.”
40Enoch led Lelouch up a stair that went to the third level. The two of them proceeded down a long line of machines. A bloodred machine caught Lelouch’s eye; the symbol on its enormous combat shield reminded him of that of the Black Knight's crest. “What about this one?” he asked.
40Enoch laughed. “You would pick out the MSN-04 Sazabi...that was Char Aznable's machine."
40"Who?" Lelouch asked with a befuddled look.
40"Never mind …I have a different machine in mind for you. It was my personal unit,” said Enoch as he walked over to stand in front of a large, black and gold Hakodeshim.
40"This one?" Lelouch asked in awe of the large unit. It was bigger than the Hakodeshim used by Suzaku and Euphie.
40"Yep...this one," Enoch smiled. "I believe you are ready, Lelouch. This machine is extremely powerful. I've used it to defeat many a foe and now I entrust it to you." Enoch put his hand on Lelouch's shoulder. "Remember, Lelouch, absolute power requires absolute responsibility. This machine is not to be disrespected or abused. It contains tremendous destructive power."
40Lelouch looked over at Enoch and realized how much faith this man was putting in him. "I understand, Enoch...and I thank you."
40Enoch raised an eyebrow. "Don't go thanking me just yet there, Big-Z. This machine is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is capable of defeating most enemies, and on the other hand, it will test your level of self-control. In short, just because you can destroy a thing with this machine doesn't mean you should."
40Lelouch put his hands on his hips. "Yeah, I know that, old man."
40"If you didn't, I wouldn't be handing you this machine," said Enoch with a wink.
40"What's its name?" Lelouch asked as he looked up at the Hakodeshim.
40Enoch grinned mischievously. "Samael."


* * *

40"What an emotional speech," Athena mused to Ares as they watched the end of Schneizel's grandiose presentation on the main monitor of the command center of Tartarus.
40"Do you think we can trust this prince to follow through on his part of the bargain?" Ares inquired with a stoic expression.
40"Honestly, I don't care," she replied with a grin. "We'll get what we want from Schneizel as soon as Sthenno plays out her part in this game of ours, or we'll take it from him by force."
40"Are you sure that sacrificing Apollyon is such a good idea?" Ares asked in a cold tone. "That machine has considerable military value. We may yet need it..."
40"For what?" Athena cut him short. "To destroy this world? I may be harsh, Ares, but I'm not merciless."
40Ares bowed. "I meant no offense, my lady."
40Athena eyed him cautiously. "None taken, Ares. However, you must understand my position in this. That cursed machine should never have been built in the first place. It is an abomination."
40"What of Sthenno and Medusa?" Ares inquired with a stone-faced expression.
40"They've made their own choice in this," Athena scowled. "Sthenno knew better than to proceed with her plan without waking us. She wanted this planet for herself and would have disposed of us as soon as she no longer needed Hephaestus."
40"And this Prince Schneizel? Don't you think he'll be put out by the loss of his prize?" Ares asked.
40"Not really. We've discussed this, and it was he who came up with the idea of using the Apollyon as a propaganda piece." Athena tittered, "He has your skill for tactics and strategy, Ares...changing his own desires and plans to meet the ever changing conditions of the overall campaign."
40"You mean he agreed with you that Sthenno would steal Apollyon," said Ares in a bored tone.
40"That's part of it," she snickered. "The other part came from his scientist, Professor Nina Einstein. She informed Prince Schneizel that there was a distinct possibility that her mentor, Professor Lloyd Asplund, might be able to form a defense against the Gefjun device that Schneizel has due to their acquisition of the Gorgon."
40"How could Schneizel know if they have such a defense?" Ares was intrigued.
40"He didn't," Athena said with a smirk, "until his sister Cornelia arrived in Japan and traveled to Zero's flagship. The only bargaining chip Zero could possibly have that would prevent Cornelia's forces from blowing that ship out of the sky would be an energy-core that can resist Schneizel's new weapon, or at least that's what he assumes."
40"That's a logical assumption on his part," Ares agreed.
40"I agree...but just in case Schneizel is wrong, I had Hephaestus modify the Apollyon." Athena said with a grin.
40Ares raised an eyebrow. "Did you now, my lady."


* * *

40"Its shields are too strong!" Kallen yelled as she fired numerous energy discs at the beehives only to have them harmlessly dissipated on the gold shimmer of an Aegis shield.
40"No luck here either!" Tamaki yelled as he unloaded a salvo of Gefjun missiles at the mirrored dome. The missiles impacted the golden glow but did nothing.
40"Kallen, clear out of the way!" Ohgi commanded as the Ikaruga and its escort of Britannian ships opened fire with everything their ships had.
40Kallen and the UFN defenders moved aside quickly as the various weapon shells, blasts, and bolts from the full gamut of aerial ship armaments screamed towards the Apollyon. The bombardment caused the golden shield to shimmer much brighter than did the KnightMare weapons but little else.
40"No good!" Akira exclaimed over the radio. "We need more firepower!"
40The Apollyon unleashed a pair of massive Chaos beams from the two lozenge-shaped cannons under the chin of the forward petal directly underneath the mirrored blister. The dual beams cut a swath through the Britannian fleet and destroyed the Avenger and several other warships.
40"Mind if we give it a try," Suzaku said over the comm. as he and the Red Dragon flew up at the Apollyon from below.
40"We're not having any luck, Suzaku." Kallen felt weird addressing him as a comrade Devicer but pushed the feelings out of her mind. "So be our guests."
40The Uriel flew up and aimed the globe on its right forearm out towards the Apollyon. An instant later, a brilliant ball of blue flashed just in front of the sphere. A bright blue explosion detonated on the surface of the Apollyon, damaging the large dome on the left petal of the mammoth machine.
40The Red Dragon followed suit and fired a double blast from both of the globes on the forearms of her mecha. The already damaged dome on the Apollyon took two more hits but remained in tact.
40The massive machine flew higher upwards towards the sky, bringing its pair of beehives into a firing arc capable of hitting the Archangels.
40"Move!" the Red Dragon yelled as the Apollyon unleashed a hail of Hades Cannon blasts at the pair of Hakodeshim.
40The nimble machines dodged the shower of deadly energy with ease as Suzaku fired a second ball of blue energy at the already badly damaged dome. His energy bolt detonated on the dome, causing it to erupt in a burst of golden energy that caused the left petal to shudder under the force of the explosion.
40"That's one down, two to go!" Suzaku yelled triumphantly.


* * *

40"Damn it!" Sthenno cried out as she and Medusa held on to their seats while the shock wave of the explosion passed through the Apollyon.
40"Our port side Aegis shield is gone!" Medusa said frantically.
40"Curse Enoch to Hades!" Sthenno gnashed her teeth as the pair of Hakodeshim started on the starboard Aegis shield generator. "Move us to core-gun range above the island."
40"What?" Medusa asked in fear of what she knew Sthenno was planning.
40"DO IT!" Sthenno snapped at her.
40"But the core-gun will drain all our energy while it powers up...our shields..." Medusa started to protest.
40Sthenno cut her off, "I know what will happen, but our shields won't last much longer anyway!"
40"But the planet will be destroyed!" Medusa turned to look at her sister.
40Sthenno glared at her. "I'm aware of that, Medusa, but I will not go down until I have my revenge, and no one will stop me! Now move us into position!" The twin sigils of Geass formed in her eyes, but she did not cast her power on Medusa.
40Medusa turned away from her in horror. "I understand, Sthenno."


* * *

40"What the hell was that all about?" Ohgi commented as Schneizel's speech came to a close over their airwaves.
40"Move the Ikaruga away from the enemy machine," said C.C. from under the mask of Zero as the hail of enemy weapon fire stopped.
40"What? You want us to retreat?" Cornelia snarled.
40The mask of Zero looked at her as C.C.'s modulated voice spoke, "It is obvious this thing is preparing to use some kind of new weapon system, and Schneizel knows it. There is no doubt in my mind that he timed that speech with this attack. My guess is that the ring in the center of that monster is some kind of weapon, and they're moving above us in order to get out of the way of whatever that thing can do."
40Cornelia turned her head in embarrassment. "You're probably right. Villetta, please contact the remainder of my fleet and tell them to withdraw with us."
40Villetta nodded as a blue-white sphere began forming within the center of the ring-shaped superstructure of the Apollyon.


* * *

40"You want us to retreat?" Kallen was stunned. "But its shields are down; we can take it out!" exclaimed Captain Kozuki as she fired a salvo of energy discs into the portside beehive structure. Her volley did minor damage to the Titan class Automatos but destroyed two of the many Hades Cannons nonetheless.
40"There's no time for that," Ohgi told her as a blue glow emanated from the open space at the center of the massive machine. "Zero says that thing is preparing to fire some kind of super weapon, and I'm inclined to agree with him."
40"Then we need to take it out before it can fire." Kallen flipped her radio over to its general frequency as the blue-white globe of Apollyon filled the space of the ring and intensified. "Attention, all units, we've been ordered to return to Ikaruga at once. That includes you too, Suzaku, but I think we can take that thing."
40Tamaki cheered, "Hell yah! We can defeat it before it fires that weapon!"
40"None of you have to follow me on this because we're disobeying a direct order," Kallen said calmly. "I want only volunteers for this."
40"I'm in!" said Tamaki with a hurrah.
40"Me too," Akira told her.
40"We're all with you, Captain; we can't let you face this thing alone when we've got a chance to beat it," the Red Dragon said with confidence.
40The others concurred.
40"Very well then, let's do this!" Kallen led the flight of mecha up towards the rapidly climbing enemy machine.


* * *

40"They're moving their capital ships away from us while their mecha have given pursuit. They must know we're preparing to fire," Medusa told Sthenno as she settled the Apollyon into position some fifty miles above the surface of the ocean.
40"It doesn't matter," Sthenno hissed. "Nothing can save them now." She watched as her control station monitor showed the power buildup of her machine reach one hundred percent. Sthenno pulled the trigger of the core-gun.
40Instantly, the blue-white globe in the central ring disappeared with a flash.
40Medusa looked down at the planet waiting for it to start breaking up.
40Several long seconds passed.
40"What happened?" Sthenno asked, knowing that more than enough time had elapsed. "It should have started breaking up instantly..." A blue glow high above them silenced her.
40Medusa worked her navigational controls frantically looking for the defolded iron core of the Earth. "I've found the point of the defold, but there's nothing there."
40"That BITCH!!!" Sthenno's face contorted in a rage of fury as she pounded down on the control panel. She furiously tapped the controls of her monitor until she found what she was looking for. "That bastard Hephaestus has disabled the mass-detector of the core-gun. It can't lock onto to anything to transport."
40Medusa held back a smile of relief. "Then we'll just have to destroy the UFN fleet without it."
40Sthenno thought to lash out and strike Medusa but knew it was not her sister's fault and let her anger wash over her. "You are right, my sister. We'll destroy this planet city by city...we still have the fold-cannon."
40"I've restored all power to our remaining shields and weapons. Shall I move us into attack position?" Medusa asked cautiously.
40"Immediately," said Sthenno in a tone laced with bloodlust.


* * *

40"They're coming back down," Anya said as she and the other Devicers made their way towards the Apollyon.
40"Guess whatever they did was a dud," Gregor snickered.
40"That may be, but it doesn't make that thing any less dangerous," Akira said as he slowed his KnightMare Frame down in anticipation of the attack he knew was soon to come. "Kallen," Akira's voice came over her radio, "it looks like they misfired their weapon. Now may be our last chance to take that thing out."
40"I understand, Akira," Kozuki replied as their units came up through the clouds and in sight of the Apollyon. "All KnightMare Frame units, listen up. We may have only one chance at this monster, and we need to make the best of it. Suzaku, you and the Red Dragon will focus on knocking out their shield generators to prevent them from restoring them. Akira, you, Mika, and Lena will focus on the left beehive unit. Anya, you, Gregor, and Tetsuo will take on the right side beehive unit. I'm going in for the mirrored command center."
40"Roger!" said her teammates in unison.


* * *

40The Yamato no Orochi and its Hakodeshim companions flew up towards the Apollyon with weapons blazing.
40Their salvos were met by the shimmer of the Aegis shields while the blue globes of the Hakodeshim impacted on the starboard generator dome.
40Sthenno opened up her radio to the UFN frequency as she unleashed a full salvo of Hades Cannon blasts against them. "Fools, do you really think you stand a chance against the Apollyon?" Sthenno activated another weapon as she targeted the Hakodeshim. "This machine was built to fight Archangels as well as Automatos."
40A sphere of blue-green formed between the horns at the top center of the giant mecha. In an instant, the sphere released a flash of green similar to that of the Hakodeshim blue-sphere weapon.
40The flash reappeared on the left side of the Red Dragon's Archangel. Euphie rolled her mecha out of the way of a direct hit, but the green globe managed to graze her machine's shield, knocking it out while a second flash emanated from the sphere in the center of the horns.
40"Noooo!" Suzaku screamed as he used the Gabriel to protect the Uriel. The green flash impacted the shield of his mecha and caused Gabriel to crash into the Uriel. Both mecha fell away from the Apollyon before they recovered.
40"You are like flies which only need be swatted into oblivion!" Sthenno pushed a digital button on her display causing the Hades Cannons to shift into a low-power, rapid-fire mode which shot forth thousands of beams in succession at the Yamato no Orochi.
40"I can't dodge them!" Tamaki yelled as he used the Omnidirectional Enhanced Absolute Protection Energy Shield of his Type-21B to try to deflect the beams; his shield protected him but he could not attack.
40"The beams are too strong!" Anya yelled over the comm. while her Okouchi tried in vain to deflect the beams with its combination Blaze Luminous/Anti-Hadron shoulder shield, but two of the beams got through, destroying the right shoulder shield and arm of her machine before she retreated.
40Sthenno cackled over the radio as the fold-cannon reached full power, "Now you shall see the power of Apollyon!"
40"Not if I have anything to say about it," Lelouch said over the radio in his Zero voice as a pair of golden energy beams streaked from the clouds below the Apollyon and cut off two of the massive machine's wing units.
40"What the..." Sthenno gasped over the radio.
40A single Hakodeshim burst up through the clouds, its gold highlights glinting in the raw sunlight.
40"My God! That's the Samael!" Medusa exclaimed in fear.
40"Who the hell are you?" Sthenno hissed.
40Lelouch gave her a cold laugh as he aimed the forearm cannon of his Hakodeshim at the Apollyon. "I am ZERO!"

Kodai Okuda
10-02-2010, 05:13 AM
Turn Twenty Three: Abaddon
The Angel of the Destruction

40“Love and hate are intimately related emotions which we seldom are able to separate within our minds. These passions are what drive many of us to do both great and horrible things, to conquer and to destroy. Such is the power of these emotions that men and women are sometimes driven by them to the point of insanity when our love is rejected and our hatred swells to insurmountable levels within us. Such was the case in the final battles of the war with Tartarus as we would all soon learn.” —Excerpt from Enoch Apsu’s World of Geass report, dated 5.03121 GS (Galactic Standard).

40“I am ZERO!” Lelouch yelled over the radio as he fired a deadly, golden beam from the large, yellow orb of energy that swirled at the end of the flashlight-shaped structure that was housed in a circular frame on the left forearm of his Hakodeshim. The ray of doom sped towards the twin-horned structure on the top of Apollyon at the speed of light.
40“That’s him!” Medusa yelled at Sthenno as the beam from Samael sliced the twin horns off Apollyon in one smooth swath.
40“Do you think I care at this moment, Medusa?” Sthenno yelled in frustration while the green-globe-generating beam weapon detonated in a massive burst of energy, which caused secondary explosions all over the Apollyon.
40Suzaku and the Red Dragon flew up at the massive mobile fortress with their Hakodeshim, each with their twin beam-sabers drawn.
40The Gabriel slashed at the port beehive of the mammoth mecha with Suzaku’s signature spin attack, turning the twin blades into a buzz saw of beam energy. He cut through the point which held the beehive in place under the left petal of the monstrous Automatos, which caused the Hades Cannon battery to fall away and blow up into thousands of fragments.
40The Red Dragon was not to be outdone as she cut through the outer shell of the starboard beehive and fired a burst of blue-globes into the structure. In the next instant, the beehive erupted in a detonation of Hades Cannon energy, causing the Aegis shield generator above it to explode upwards.
40“Show off,” Lelouch teased Euphie.
40“No kidding,” Suzaku laughed.
40“Pffft, I’m not gonna get outdone by you two,” she giggled.
40“Ahem! Hey, kids, giant enemy Titan Automatos…remember?” Enoch scolded them as he flew up through the cloud layer in an emerald-green mecha similar to the Hakodeshim that Euphie and Suzaku piloted.
40“I know that voice!” Sthenno hissed over the radio.
40“Well, well,” Enoch snickered, “if it isn’t my old girlfriend Sthenno. You know, doll, you really should surrender; even Apollyon is no match for four Archangels.”
40“You bastard,” Sthenno cursed. “You think you’ve won? Hah!” She activated the fold-cannon of the massive machine.
40“Sthenno, what are you doing?” Medusa asked frantically.
40“Ending this,” she replied as she set the weapon to overload and looked down at her sister and sighed. “I don’t intend on dying with this thing; you know what to do.”
40Medusa’s eyes showed that she registered Sthenno’s silent command. Medusa began typing away on her control console as quickly as her fingers would allow.
40“I’m detecting a large energy buildup from that thing!” exclaimed Suzaku.
40“Get back!” Lelouch commanded. “It’s going to overload.”
40“Big-Z is right; there’s too much energy there for a simple fold-cannon attack. Apollyon is building up to critical mass,” declared Enoch as he switched his comm. to the UFN general frequency. “Kallen, get your people as far from this thing as you can; it’s going to explode!”
40“You don’t have to tell us twice,” Kozuki replied as she and the Black Knights flew at maximum speed from the now glowing, blue structure of Apollyon.
40The four Hakodeshim zoomed away from the massive mobile fortress as it emanated a brilliant cobalt color before detonating into a ball of destructive energy that sent an intense shock wave towards the fleeing UFN forces and their allies.
40The KnightMare Frames and Hakodeshim tumbled through the air with the wave for several minutes before they regained control of their machines.
40“I’m glad that’s over,” Lelouch sighed in relief.
40“Over? Don’t be so sure about that, Big-Z…” said Enoch in a cautious tone.


* * *

40Gino barely clung onto consciousness as he hung from the ceiling of his cell. He couldn’t tell how many days or weeks he had been there, beaten repeatedly by Evita’s insane hands. He vaguely remembered her sick and twisted voice whispering in his ears as she caressed and kissed him then tortured him for her own pleasure.
40She stood before him now scantily clad in her leather and lace looking over him as a spoiled child looks over a doll they abuse for fun.
40“My lovely Gino, I do hope you come to your senses soon.” She kissed him gently on the cheek. “You know it pains me to have to punish you like this, but you keep lying to me when I ask you whom you love.”
40Evita took a warm, wet towel from a washbasin in the cell and washed away the dried blood from his disheveled face. His form was gaunt and pathetic from days of lack of food.
40“You’re too stubborn for your own good, my love.” Evita kissed him on the lips. “I want you to realize you’re a pure blood. You could never love a half-breed.”
40“I…” Gino’s eyes fluttered deliriously as he tried to focus on Evita and form words for the anger that still swelled within his battered frame.
40“You what?” Evita bent down to listen to his voice.
40“I…” Gino tried to speak.
40“You love me?” she squealed like a school girl.
40Gino lifted his head towards her. “….hate you.”
40Evita’s face contorted into a hellish mask of anger. “You idiot!” She belted him across the face with the back of her hand.
40Gino’s shoulders shook as a sound came from his bruised and swollen mouth.
40“Oh, don’t cry now…I’ll not feel sorry for your stupidity,” said Evita with an angry pout. “You could end this pain and suffering by simply loving me!”
40Commander Weinberg found the strength to look up at her again; his expression was not one of pain. His mangled face smiled at her contemptuously; he was laughing.
40“Ahhhhhhh!” Evita raged at him and pulled a dagger from a nearby table. She had a mind to stab Gino through in the chest and cut his heart out, but one of her subordinates rushed into the room.
40“Duchess!” The man bowed.
40“WHAT!” she roared at him.
40“We’re under attack!” the man said meekly.
40Evita threw the blade on the table and stormed out of the cell.
40Gino’s head fell. “Hurry, Kallen,” he whispered to himself. “I can’t hold on much longer.”


* * *

40General Xingke’s fleet of Black Knight aerial warships moved towards Gambier Island and the fleet of Duchess Evita Ernst.
40“Schneizel’s little speech has caused a firestorm of rioting and protests the world over. People are confused and angry, Major. Thus, the UFN council has ordered us to take steps to put an end to Schneizel’s insurrection immediately. Your first objective is to locate and destroy that Gefjun weapon as soon as possible, Major Ashford,” Xingke told Rivalz over the Type-21O’s cockpit monitor.
40“Understood, General,” Rivalz replied apprehensively as he switched off the comm. “Okay, people, you heard the man; let’s do this.”
40Major Ashford’s squadron of twenty Type-21Os led the fleet of variable fighters in a dive down towards Duchess Evita Ernst’s fleet of aerial warships. The mass of UFN variable KnightMare Frames fired on the airships with a hail of bazooka rounds.
40The missiles impacted three of the Avalon class frigates at the top of the Britannian fleet formation, causing the warships to list and explode.
40In the next instant, swarms of KnightMare Frames ushered out of their respective airships and zoomed up at the UFN squadrons.


* * *

40“They’ve begun their assault on Gambier!” Zero (C.C.) told Enoch as he and the other Devicers made their way out of the locker rooms of the main hangar.
40Zero stood in front of Enoch, Suzaku, the Red Dragon, and a person in a Black Knight’s uniform wearing a tinted Devicer helmet and holding a large duffle bag against his chest.
40The troop began walking away from the base of their now stowed mecha in the main hangar of the Ikaruga towards the elevators at the far end.
40“Great,” Enoch said flatly.
40“It’s too soon,” said Suzaku in irritation. “Who gave the order?”
40“General Tohdoh, from his new command on the Amagi,” said Kaguya Sumeragi as she walked up from behind Zero with Lihua in tow. “He’s heading to Gambier as we speak with the remains of his air-fleet. He has ordered our forces here to rendezvous with him. It would seem that the Apollyon mobile fortress destroyed Sydney, Australia and nearly all of Kyoshiro’s forces with it.”
40“He’s a little aggravated to say the least and has convinced the UFN council to reinstate him as supreme commander of the Black Knights,” Jiang Lihua added.
40“Speaking of irritation...shouldn’t you be more careful?” Kaguya eyed the person wearing the tinted helmet as she pointed towards Kallen and the Yamato no Orochi who were walking up to join them.
40“You know you’re going to have to face Kallen at some point,” Zero tittered at the person in the tinted helmet. “She might understand.”
40“Yeah, right.” Suzaku gulped.
40“Shall I break the ice with Kallen for you?” Kaguya gave the Devicer a wicked smile.
40Fortunately Gregor and Mika were complaining to Kallen about the need for better KnightMare Frames. Their loud rant was enough to drown out Lelouch’s voice.
40“Better make yourself scarce, Big-Z!” Enoch said as he gave Suzaku a pleading look.
40“I’ll see what I can do to slow her down,” Suzaku said as he and the Red Dragon moved to intercept Kallen and her team.
40Enoch briskly walked over to the elevator and pushed the button; the light came on but the door didn’t open. “Damn it!”
40“Aw, is the elevator busy?” Kaguya snickered.
40“Hi, Kallen,” Suzaku said from behind them as the group got closer.
40“Hello, Suzaku,” Kallen said. “Who’s that?” she asked with an accusatory look at the person wearing the tinted helmet.
40“Oh, this is the Red Dragon,” Suzaku said innocently.
40“Not her, Suzaku,” said Kallen with an irritated tone. “That guy over there in the helmet.”
40Kaguya put her arm through the Devicer’s arm and waved at Kallen. “Hi, Kallen!”
40“Hi, Lady Kaguya,” Kallen called back. “Who’s that guy with you?”
40“Oh, this is an old flame of mine.” Kaguya giggled incessantly.
40“You’re not helping,” whispered Enoch as he put his hand over the elevator console; the panel glowed for a moment.
40“Sure I am; he needs to man up and face her…” Kaguya was interrupted.
40“Move, cutey.” Enoch gently pushed Kaguya aside.
40“Excuse me?” Sumeragi was shocked at how he addressed her.
40“What? You’re cute,” Enoch told her with a wink as the elevator doors opened.
40“Where do you think you’re going?” Kallen demanded as she pushed her way past Suzaku towards Enoch and his companion.
40“Going for a drink with my friend,” said Enoch as he blew her a kiss over his shoulder.
40“Hey, Enoch, wait!” Kallen yelled at them as she started to sprint towards him.
40“Sorry, gorgeous, we gotta go! I’ll catch up to you later,” he said as the elevator doors began to close.
40Kallen slammed her foot in the elevator door causing it to open back up, allowing her to slip past and enter before they closed again.
40“What the hell was that all about?” Akira asked as he walked up to the where the others stood at the now closed elevator doors.
40Suzaku sighed. "Kallen's obsession..." He looked over at the Red Dragon who only shrugged.
40"We better get to the bridge," said Lihua tugging on Kaguya.
40Kaguya snickered, "Yah, if I know Captain Kozuki, there may be someone in need of medical assistance in a very short time."


* * *

40“Who the hell is that?!” Kallen fumed as she glared at Enoch and pointed at the person in the helmet.
40“It’s none of your business, Kallen,” Enoch told her softly. "I told you that before; it's better if you don't know who Zero really is."
40“Don’t give me that crap! I know it’s Lelouch!” Kallen stormed over, grabbed the duffle bag from the Devicer, and threw it at Enoch.
40"I'm sick of your damned lies! Protecting him, lying for him, just so that he can be with that green-haired wench all you men think is so darling!"
40"No, Kallen, that's not it at all," Enoch retorted. "The problem is that if you were to find out who this person really is, then you'd have to keep it totally secret because the world can never know about his true identity."
40"Why? Because they'd know Lelouch is a monumental fraud and a liar who needs to hide behind other people because he's too much of a coward to come out and face the world?!" Kallen screamed at Enoch.
40Kallen snapped her head around and gave the Devicer an accusing look. “Just look at him...what the?” Kallen's anger broke as she got a look at the person’s chest, which was now exposed with the duffle bag gone.
40“He’s got boobs,” Kallen said mechanically.
40“Just great, Captain Kozuki.” Enoch put his hands on his hips. “You’ve gone and done it now,”
40“But…I…thought.” Kallen’s eyes grew wide as the Devicer removed her helmet.
40“Yes, I know...You thought it was Lelouch. Now you’ve exposed a Britannian military secret and a scandal that could ruin any chance of world peace.”
40“What do you mean, Enoch?” Kallen’s jaw dropped as the mass of pink hair fell from under the helmet and the Devicer's face was revealed. “Oh, my God! You’re…you’re Euphemia! But how could you be alive?" She turned to Enoch. "And how could you protect her? She was responsible for the massacre in Japan.”
40"No, Kallen..." Enoch scolded her, "Lelouch was."
40"What?" Kallen recoiled from him in disbelief.
40"Let me explain," said Euphemia sadly.


* * *

40Cornelia, Ohgi, Zero, Kallen, Akira, Enoch, and C.C. sat at a large lozenge-shaped conference table within the bowels of the Ikaruga. Across from them were Rakshata, Lloyd, and Cecile who had just arrived from the Avalon.
40“We’ve been ordered by the UFN council to assist in the assault on Gambier Island; that’s why we joined up with you as quickly as we could,” said Rakshata with a wave of her pipe.
40Lloyd sat next to her with his left hand on his chin. “Mm…yes, and it looks like it’s going to be quite a show.”
40“We’ve brought a few new KnightMare designs with us,” Cecile told them with a grin.
40“Oh? What types are they?” Zero inquired.
40Cecile spoke in an excited tone, “A new model Type-21 called the Type-21Z Zebulun. It’s a space-capable KMF armed to the teeth with all kinds of new weapons and systems. It has anti-Gefjun shielding, a pair of Kaon Particle Beam Sabers, dual Kaon Particle Deflector Shield generators, and the new Meson Beam Cannon (MBC) we’ve developed for its gunpod unit that doubles as a Hadron Saber. It also uses more conventional weapons such as a pair of MVS harkens on electromagnetic tethers and a pair of Hadron Cannons, one in each forearm. Unfortunately, we only have enough of them for the Yamato no Orochi.”
40Zero nodded. "That's fine since they'll be going in to rescue Commander Weinberg and will need the heaviest KMFs."
40Kallen gave him a surprised look.
40Rakshata lifted her pipe. “The second KMF is the rebuild of the Gorgon. We took the thing apart completely and redesigned it from the frame up. We used many of the design aspects of the Guren-Phoenix combined with the energy projectors of the Gorgon’s Gaze weapon on the Greek mecha.”
40“Yes,” Lloyd waved his hand at Rakshata dismissively, “but without my retooling of the energy filler system of the machine, the power consumption would have been too high for the machine to even be used. Thus, we applied an improved version of the Lamekian Drive Superconductor power system.”
40Rakshata glared at him as she raised her voice. “We also removed the cumbersome wing units of the machine and replaced them with a pair of Chawla Mark-III graviton-impellers.”
40“Which wouldn’t work without my Asplund gyroscopic alignment system…” Lloyd snickered.
40“There wouldn’t even be a TYPE-25X without my skill as an engineer!” Rakshata shot back.
40“Then I suppose you could’ve figured out the enhanced pilot-to-machine interface all on your own, eh?” scoffed Lloyd.
40“We get the idea,” Cornelia said harshly, silencing both of them.
40“What’s it called?” Kallen asked Cecile.
40“Kali, Goddess of Destruction,” Cecile laughed. “And it took Rakshata pulling rank on Lloyd to get him to agree to that name.”
40“It did not!” Lloyd protested.
40“Yes, it did, you dolt,” Rakshata shot back.
40“Enough!” Zero said as he stood up. “Have the new machines prepared for battle immediately. We’ll be at Gambier in less than three hours.”
40Kallen eyed Zero then looked over at Enoch. I can’t believe Zero is Euphemia and that Lelouch was responsible for the Massacre in the Special Administrative Zone...oh, Lulu, accident or not, how could have done that to your own sister? she thought to herself as everyone stood up to leave the room.


* * *

40"Looks like Sthenno failed in her mission," Kannon said to Schneizel on the bridge of the Thor.
40"Not really." Schneizel gave his aide a thin smile. "She's bought us the time we need to make the necessary preparations."
40"Does that mean we're leaving soon?" Kannon inquired.
40"We?" Schneizel laughed. "No, my dear Kannon, you're staying here to watch over our dear Nina while I head off for Gambier to ensure Evita Ernst is successful in luring the Black Knights and Zero into our trap."
40"I see." Kannon was apprehensive. "Then you don't trust Nina, is that it?"
40"I don't trust anyone at this point, Kannon," Schneizel smiled at him. "There's too much at stake for me to."
40"It seems that Xingke is convinced our base is on Gambier Island, but do you think Zero will be as easily fooled?" Kannon inquired.
40"Depends on whom this new Zero is," Schneizel answered with a smirk. "If he is shrewd, tactful, and focused to the extreme, then he'll see through this veil, though I highly doubt it. Fortunately for us, we don't have to contend with my brother...he'd see this for what it is."
40"And Tohdoh?" Kannon inquired.
40"Tohdoh will see through some of it, the parts I want him to anyway," Schneizel smiled. "But when it's over, he and his Black Knights won't know what hit them."


* * *

40"It's good to see you again, General Tohdoh." Ohgi bowed slightly as Tohdoh's image stared back at him on the bridge monitor of the Ikaruga.
40"I'm happy that you're the one in command there, Ohgi." Kyoshiro grinned slightly. "I need someone I can count on for this operation. My fleet has reached the battlezone and will soon be engaged in combat. We don't know how long we'll have before Schneizel uses his Gefjun weapon, so it is imperative your forces get here as quickly as them can."
40"We're only a few minutes away from the battlezone ourselves, General," Ohgi told him with a concerned look. "We've only got about a dozen warships. So long as Schneizel doesn't use his Gefjun disturber, we should be able to easily overwhelm Evita and her fleet."
40"Which is why I fully expect him to use that weapon and knock out both our forces and those of the Duchess," said Tohdoh with a furrowed brow. "In all likelihood, Schneizel has a reserve of KnightMare Frames somewhere nearby, which he'll be able to use in the event we defeat the duchess."
40"Then why launch this attack at all?" Ohgi asked.
40"To flush out where Schneizel's real base of operations is," Kyoshiro stated flatly. "And that, my friend, is where you come in. I need your Gefjun-resistant KMFs to assault Schneizel's base the moment he reveals it."
40"Only some of the Gefjun-resistant KMFs are under my command," Ohgi admitted. "The rest are under Cornelia li Britannia's jurisdiction."
40"WHAT!" Kyoshiro yelled. "You're allowing Schneizel's sister, who cannot be trusted in the least, to join in this operation?"
40"We don't have a choice, General," Ohgi grumbled. "She is the acting regent of Britannia, and Lady Kaguya has authorized her to take part in this operation."
40"Sumeragi," said Tohdoh through gritted teeth.


* * *

40"There's too many of them, Major Ashford," a Type-21O pilot said over the radio before being blown to bits by a Z-02G mass production KMF Victoria.
40"Damn it!” Rivalz radioed the UFN flagship, “Yamato, this is Major Ashford; we can't hold them back much longer." Rivalz spiraled out of the way of a burst of cannon shells and returned fire with a volley of his own at the offending KMF. "We're running low on ammo and power. Any chance of our relief arriving soon?"
40"Is that you, Rivalz?" Kallen asked as she tore through the three KMF Victoria mecha that were attacking Major Ashford with her Guren-Phoenix.
40“Hey, Kallen!” Rivalz exclaimed in relief. “It’s sure nice to see you guys.”
40"We’ll take over from here, Major," Suzaku said over the comm.
40"Is that you, Suzaku?" asked Rivalz in a surprised tone.
40"Yes, Rivalz, I’m one of Nunnally’s Knights now," Suzaku answered jovially back at his friend as the four Hakodeshim from the Avalon dove through the inferior machines of the duchess' fleet, blasting several of them into metallic confetti as they did so.
40"We need to hook up after this is over," Rivalz said as the remnant of his squadron left the battlespace.
40"It's a deal," Suzaku said as he blasted two more Victorias.
40"Our objective is dead ahead," Zero's voice came over the radio as the swarm of KMF Victoria Frames came up in front of them. "All units, we need to break through these defenders and get aboard their flagship as quickly as possible."
40“Roger that, Zero,” Kallen said as her thoughts went to Commander Weinberg. Hang on, Gino, we’re almost there.


* * *

40“I don’t care if you think it’s too dangerous to launch. I’m going out there to deal with them myself!” Evita grabbed her deck officer by the collar. “Is my KMF Queen Victorious ready yet?’
40The man nodded. “Yes, your Highness, it is.”
40“Good,” Evita tittered as she let the man go and climbed onto the gantry lift up to the cockpit of the new machine. The KMF Queen Victorious looked similar to the old KMF Victoria except that it had a large, mecha-sized bastard sword instead of a rapier and held a large, spade-shaped combination Hadron Cannon/combat shield in its left arm.
40“Open the outer hatch!” Evita demanded over the loudspeaker of her KnightMare Frame.
40Her men obliged her, and the hangar bay door opened up to reveal the battle which ensued all around her flagship. Evita boosted out of the hangar with her graviton-impellers.


* * *

40“What the hell is that thing?” Tamaki asked as the Queen Victorious flew up through the embattled mass of KMF Victoria Frames towards his Type-21Z.
40“It’s your doom, Black Knight!” Evita boasted as her machine unloaded a hail of Hadron Cannon bolts at Tamaki.
40Tamaki used his Kaon shields to deflect the barrage. “Heh, that’s nothing more than a snazzy Victoria; it doesn’t scare me.” Tamaki fired his Meson Beam Cannon at the Queen Victorious only to see the machine zip past the beam at impossible speed and unsheathe its bastard sword revealing its Hadron-coated blade. In the next instant, Tamaki transformed into KnightMare mode to dodge a swing by Evita’s machine.
40“Damn! That thing is fast!” said Tamaki as Evita used her MVS disc harken to put him in the defensive.
40“Fool!” Evita scoffed as her machine swung its Hadron blade again. This time, it connected with the left arm of Tamaki’s machine, cutting it off. The duchess smashed the front of the Type-21Z just above the cockpit with the shield of her mecha, stunning Tamaki.
40“Yahhhh!” Tamaki screamed over the radio as Evita’s Queen Victorious thrust at the cockpit with its Hadron blade.
40The blade was caught in mid-thrust by the oversized hand of Guren-Phoenix. “Tamaki, you okay?” Kallen asked as Evita withdrew her bastard sword from Guren’s deadly grip.
40“I’m alive,” said Tamaki with a sigh.
40“Oh, how touching,” Evita snickered with malevolence over the radio. “Nips in love.”
40“Why, that little…” Tamaki grumbled.
40“Forget it,” Kallen cut him off. “You get to the flagship with the others. This little bitch and I have unfinished business.”
40“Indeed we do,” said Evita in a vicious tone. “This time we’ll finish it,” the duchess said as her Queen Victorious lunged at the Guren-Phoenix.
40The Guren spun out of the way of her attack and fired a salvo of energy discs at the chest of the Queen Victorious.
40“Pathetic,” Evita said as the discs bounced off the Blaze Luminous shield of the Queen Victorious. The duchess fired her MVS harken disc at the wings of Guren only to have it deflected by the pair of MVS harkens of the Guren.
40“I could say the same for you, Duchess,” Kallen sneered as she dodged another volley of Hadron beams from the shield-gun of the Queen Victorious.
40“Hah, too bad in your case it’s true,” Evita mocked her again as her Hadron blade came up towards Guren’s torso.
40“Gah!” Kallen blurted out as she barely caught the blade with the oversized claw of Guren. “I’ve had enough of this thing,” Kallen yelled as she activated the Supernova of Guren. The massive heat wave melted the Hadron bastard sword, but the Queen Victorious used its shield to protect itself.
40“Ha! Idiot!” Evita snickered as she smashed the Guren-Phoenix with her shield and pushed a button on her control stick. Instantly, the two lower thirds of the spade-shaped shield split open like a pincer claw and grabbed onto Guren.
40“That won’t do you any good,” Kallen retorted as she used the Supernova wave of Guren on the claw; the heat wave dissipated harmlessly off the armored pincer.
40“Hahahaha!” Evita cackled. “My Jaws of Death shield is impervious to heat, you moron.” The duchess licked her lips like a hunter preparing to eat its prey as she squeezed the trigger of the shield’s Hadron Cannon. “Now you die!”
40“I don’t think so!” Kallen shouted back at her as she fired her Baryon Cannon. The cover of the chest-mounted weapon flipped open instantly and fired its intense beam of white light directly through the center of the Queen Victorious.
40“No, I cannot be defeated by a half-breeeeeeed!” Evita screamed as she was consumed by the blinding white beam. The mortally wounded Queen Victorious fell away from Guren and exploded in midair.
40“I’m coming, Gino,” Kallen whispered softly as she landed the Guren-Phoenix onto the flagship of Evita’s fleet.


* * *

40“We have arrived just outside of the battlespace, my Lord,” a male officer said to Schneizel as he brought up the scene of the battle waging over Gambier Island.
40“Any word from the duchess?” Schneizel asked the man as he came to stand at the large windows of the bridge of the Thor.
40“Her second-in-command says the duchess has fallen,” the man said in a sad tone.
40“Excellent,” Schneizel smiled. “Then the Black Knights will move in to lay siege to the island. Have the Knights of the Silver Cross prepare to attack as soon as we use the Gefjun transmitter.”
40“As you wish, my Lord.” The officer bowed.


* * *

40“Akira, you and the others secure the hangar. I’m going in to rescue Commander Weinberg,” Enoch said as he disembarked from his Type-21Z.
40“Where are the others?” Kallen asked as she noticed that the four Hakodeshim were not in the hangar of Evita’s ship.
40“They’ve gone with C2 to say hello to an old friend,” Enoch told her with a wink, “and maybe put a stop to this conflict once and for all.”
40“You can’t take on this whole ship by yourself, Enoch. Let us go with you,” Kallen pleaded with him.
40“Yeah, Gino is our comrade,” said Tamaki with a frown.
40“Alright, but I warn you…we may be too late,” said Enoch reluctantly.
40“We know, Enoch,” Anya told him. “But we have to try and save him.”
40Kallen turned to Akira, Gregor, and Tetsuo. “You three, stay here and protect our KnightMares. We’ll be back as soon as we can.”
40The three men nodded silently.
40“Well, now that that’s settled, let’s stop talking and get moving.” Enoch rushed over to the elevator shafts and opened the door by putting his palm over the control panel.
40“How the heck do you do that?” Anya inquired.
40He gave her a boyish grin. “You wouldn’t believe me even if I told you.”


* * *

40“Tell your forces to begin the assault on the island now, Xingke,” Tohdoh said to Li over the main monitor of the Yamato. “My fleet has already launched our KMFs into position.”
40“As you wish, General, but I should warn you that four unidentified KMFs have broken away from Ohgi’s forces and are heading towards a new arrival,” Xingke said apprehensively.
40“New arrival?” Kyoshiro grouched.
40“Yes, it would appear that Schneizel has arrived, and Zero has gone off to meet him.”
40“Damn him,” Tohdoh sneered.


* * *

40Enoch and his three companions rushed out of the elevator into the ship’s brig only to find it devoid of anyone.
40“Looks like this place is empty,” Tamaki said, waving his submachine gun down the two-way corridor that ran the length of the brig.
40Enoch moved over to the control station where a guard would normally be. “Keep your wits about you, people; this could very well be a trap.” Windows flashed open at lightning speed on the computer screen in front of Enoch as he scanned through them looking for Gino’s holding cell.
40“Found him!” Enoch said. “Cell block six, unit number 73. I’ll unlock it from here.” Apsu walked down the corridor to their right towards a cell near the end of the long line of holding rooms.
40Kallen fidgeted in front of the door as it opened up. "C'mon, Enoch, open the damn door."
40"It's open," said Enoch as he turned up the lights in the dim chamber.
40There, hanging by chains from the ceiling, was the battered and beaten body of Commander Gino Weinberg.
40Tears filled Kallen's shocked face. "Oh, my God! How could they?" She rushed over and gently lifted his head. "Gino?"
40He didn't respond.
40Kallen's lip trembled. "Gino...please don't die." She checked his pulse at his neck, nothing.
40Tamaki and Anya stood silent as Enoch entered the room; he could guess the situation without even checking Gino's vitals. He grabbed hold of her shoulders gently. "Let's go, Captain. I'll take him with us...you best get back to the Guren."
40"NO!" she wailed at him as she wrenched his hands away. "It's not fair! First Naoto, then Lelouch, now Gino!" Tears streamed down her cheeks. "Every time I get close to someone they die! What's wrong with me? I can't ever save the people I love. Just this once I wish it was different!"
40Kallen rushed out of the room into the hall.
40"You two, take care of Captain Kozuki and get her back to the KnightMares. I'll get Commander Weinberg and join up with you as soon as I can."
40Tamaki and Anya nodded and went to comfort Kallen.
40Enoch turned and looked at Gino's lifeless body. He thought of Kallen's pain and anguish then sighed as he said softly to himself, "Metatron is going to have my ass for doing this." He closed his eyes in concentration and put his hand on Gino's forehead.


* * *

40"Tohdoh's forces are now within the area of effect line, Prince Schneizel," his male tactical officer informed him.
40"Very well, fire the Gefjun beam," Schneizel ordered the man, with a smug expression.
40The officer nodded and tapped away on his control station. "Gefjun burst away, sire."
40A conceited smile crossed Schneizel's face as he watched the green radiance move down over Gambier Island and everything within twenty miles of it.
40"Order the Knights of the Silver Cross to attack," the Prince said as he watched the fighting over Gambier subside knowing that most of the KnightMare Frames there had shut down completely.
40"The order has been given, my Lord, but..." the tactical officer hesitated.
40"But what?" Schneizel asked with a snobbish lift of his chin.
40"We're picking up four KMFs of an unknown type approaching fast," the man said in a panic.
40"What's wrong with you man...we have five hundred units out there," Schneizel scoffed. "Surely five machines are no match for five hundred."
40"I know, sire, but...we're being hailed," the man said with fear inching into his voice.
40"By whom?" Schneizel inquired with a furled brow.
40"Zero," the man said in a panic.
40"Hahahaha...excellent," Schneizel laughed arrogantly. "Put this fool through."
40Zero's masked image came up on the main monitor of the Thor. "Greetings, Schneizel."
40"Greetings, Zero," Schneizel stated with contempt. "Have you come to surrender to me?"
40"I was thinking you had come out here to do that yourself," Zero shot back.
40Schneizel tittered, "Oh, you are an audacious one. Why exactly would I surrender to you when I have the numerical and military advantage?"
40"You're a fool to underestimate me, Schneizel." Zero put his hand forward in a grandiose gesture. "This strategy of yours is similar to the one you used in China when you conned the Chinese eunuchs into luring me into sending the bulk of my KnightMares onto the dry irrigation lands thus causing them to sink into the mud, rendering them useless. This time, however, I was ready for this strategy."
40From below the swarms of Vincent Wards, Gareths, and Sutherlands, the surface of the ocean waters broke as a large, red and gold machine flew up towards them.
40The female-shaped KnightMare Frame was Indian in the styling of its armor, its face a blank, silvery mask with two pale-blue eyes surrounded by a red and golden crown-shaped helmet. The machine had a large, khanda sword in its left hand and a round shield in its right. On its back were two half-moon-shaped structures that protruded like sickles from the extended backpack that was the crew compartment. Each sickle had a large, crystalline sphere within it that radiated an emerald green energy.
40The mecha stopped within the center of the mass of KnightMares and folded its arms across its chest. In the next instant, a brilliant globe of green energy expanded from the machine outwards towards Schneizel's force of KMFs at incredible speed, disintegrating everything the green light touched.
40In less than a minute, the whole armada of KnightMares was gone, leaving only the red and gold machine at the center of where the green sphere had originated.
40Schneizel looked on in horror at the fading green light as Zero spoke one word, "Checkmate," while the four Hakodeshim flew up in front of the Thor.
40The prince turned his attention to Zero. "Indeed...I've no choice but to concede defeat. I know that there's only one person who could've seen through this strategy...How is it you are still alive?"
40"How isn't important right now," Zero said to him softly. "What is important is that we end this needless conflict, Schneizel."
40"You've come to kill this time? Is that it?" Schneizel asked in a humble tone.
40"The thought had crossed my mind," Zero snickered. "But no, this time I'll stay here to watch over and guide you. You've started the demise of the UFN and Britannia, and I don't think anything can stop it now."
40"So I'm to be your pawn in yet another plan for a new world?" Schneizel asked with a weak smile.
40"No, Nunnally and I have already discussed this. I am to be her willing pawn in her vision of a new world, and you and Cornelia will be left to choose if you wish to join us in that endeavor or if you wish to be put out to pasture somewhere remote but comfortable."
40"I suppose that will be for the best," Schneizel lamented. "It's good to hear your voice, but...would it be too much to ask to see your face?"
40"We're on a coded channel; only you and I can see or hear this, so if you clear your bridge, I'll oblige you," Zero stated in a warm tone.
40"You heard him; clear the bridge," Schneizel ordered. His officers dutifully obeyed his wishes and left the command deck.
40With the bridge crew gone Zero removed his mask.
40"It's pleasant to see you again, Lelouch," Schneizel smiled. "I don't think I would have surrendered to anyone else, to be honest."
40"I wish we were meeting under different circumstances," Lelouch said with a frown. "I've no right to judge you, Schneizel; that's for Nunnally to decide, but I do have to take you into custody. I'm sorry."
40"Don't be, my little brother...I hated you for leaving me here under the control of that dolt Suzaku, and for defeating me with your Geass rather than in a fair fight." Schneizel lifted his glasses revealing his twin Geass. "Looks like I'm no better than you were."
40"Geass is a curse that few can resist," Lelouch said with an empty smile. "Therefore, I forgive you, Schneizel, so long as you promise to never lift a finger against your kin again. Because if you do, I swear by God's name, that'll I'll kill you myself."
40"I swear to you, Lelouch, on my life, that I'll never hurt you or my family again..." Schneizel's transmission was cut off by an emergency message which cut through.
40"Zero, look out!" Mika's voice rang through the radio from where she and Lena piloted the Kali some distance away. A beam of intensely bright white energy tore through the hull of the Thor from the clouds high above.
40"VENGENCE IS MINE!" Sthenno cried over the radio frequency as the Thor erupted into a fireball and plunged into the sea.
40"SCHNEIZEL!" Lelouch screamed in fury as the bronze and gold form of the Abaddon flew off high overhead.

Kodai Okuda
10-03-2010, 11:35 PM
Turn Twenty Four: Tartarus
Battle at the Bottom of the World
40“The Great City of Tartarus was built by the hands of the Olympian’s greatest engineer, Daedalus. It was the last and most horrible of city-ships constructed by the Geass-god whose power was to understand machinery and technology simply by contemplating a problem then using Geass to solve it. An odd power no doubt, but one that proved most useful to the warlike states of the Olympians. Even though Enoch had warned us of the potential dangers of this city, we still went forward against it. We had to. Nunnally’s life depended on it, as did the fate of the world.” —Excerpt from an interview with C.C. by Milly Ashford during the 1st Constitutional Convention of the Commonwealth of Earth in Buenos Ares, dated January 13th, 2025 a.t.b.

40“Lelouch, don’t!” C.C. yelled over the comm. of the Ariel while she tried to catch up to him as the Samael tore off after the Abaddon.
40“Suzaku, we need to stop him,” Euphie said as the wreckage of the Thor sunk into the sea below them. Debris surrounded the mangled airship including hundreds of people, both survivors and the dead.
40“I’m on it,” Suzaku replied as he flew Gabriel at top speed to catch up to Samael. “Better radio the Avalon and tell them to send a rescue team. We’ve got survivors out here.”
40“I already did,” Euphie informed him as her Uriel came up alongside the Gabriel and the Ariel.
40“There he is!” C.C. exclaimed as the three of them broke through the clouds. In the distance, they could see the black form of the Samael firing wildly at the distant glint of bronze that must have been the Abaddon.
40Suzaku pushed the throttle of the Gabriel up four notches on the side panel and realized he was gaining on Samael. Either Lelouch is not at full throttle or Samael isn’t build for speed.
40The Gabriel came up behind Samael quickly. Suzaku knew what he had to do even though it might mean a fight with Lelouch. The Gabriel grabbed the Samael from behind in a bear hug.
40“Lelouch, you’ve got to let them go for now! We can’t abandon the mission,” Suzaku tried to reason with him.
40“Get out of my way, you fool!” Lelouch commanded over the radio. “We can’t let them get away. We need to find Schneizel’s base before they do!”
40Suzaku was shocked by his own miscalculation. Lelouch wasn’t acting out of rage or emotion; he was chasing the Abaddon out of determination to find the Gefjun weapon before the Greeks got their hands on it.
40The Samael broke free of Gabriel’s grip, but it was too late. The Abaddon was gone.


* * *

40“Master Kannon, the Thor has fallen,” a scared lieutenant told him as they stood looking out over the sea from within the command center of Schneizel’s fortress on Pitcairn Island.
40“I see,” Kannon said sadly. “Then we better prepare to defend the island from—” A thunderous explosion silenced him as the vibration cascaded throughout the base.
40“We’re under attack!” a female officer cried out.
40“How many enemy units are there?” Kannon demanded.
40The woman looked at her control station monitor. “Only one, but it appears to be a Greek unit.”
40“Greek unit?” Kannon was perplexed.
40“Master Maldini, we’re receiving a transmission,” another male officer told him.
40“Let’s see it on the main monitor,” Kannon told the man.
40Kannon was agape as the familiar face of the woman he despised came onto the screen.
40“Well, well, if it isn’t little Kannon,” Sthenno snickered wickedly.
40“What do you want, Sthenno?” Kannon asked.
40She gave him a serpentine smile. “I want the FORGE.”


* * *

40“It would appear that Schneizel has failed in his mission, Empress,” said Athena softly to Nunnally. “The Black Knights have defeated him.”
40The two of them stood in the large study of the central tower of Tartarus. The bright blue Antarctic sky shone through the large picture windows which ran from the floor to the ceiling, providing the only light into the grand chamber.
40“I see,” Nunnally told her with a sad smile.
40“I’m truly sorry, Empress, but I’ve no choice now.” Athena removed her helmet and placed it on a nearby table. Her long, curly, blonde hair flowed out over her shoulders. “I must decimate the Black Knights and garrison this planet to ensure the destruction of the tyrannies which currently plague this world.”
40Nunnally raised her chin towards Athena. “Then I have no choice but to make a request of you.”
40“Oh?” Athena was intrigued by the young woman’s courageous demeanor. “And what would you have me do?”
40“Help me implement a plan that could save this world,” said Nunnally with a sly smile.
40Athena raised an eyebrow. “Please, enlighten me.”


* * *

40“My sensors indicate the Abaddon flew in this direction,” C.C. said over the comm. of the Ariel as she led her three companions towards the northwest.
40“We wouldn’t need to use the long-range sensors if you all had allowed me to follow the Abaddon in the first place,” Lelouch scolded them.
40“I already told you I’m sorry, Lelouch,” Suzaku said apologetically.
40“That’s not the point,” Lelouch shot back.
40“It wouldn’t have happened if you had told us what was going on, little brother. You have only yourself to blame,” Euphie scolded him.
40“Hey, I see smoke up ahead just to the north of us,” C.C. said as the four Hakodeshim skimmed the bottom of the clouds.
40“Looks like an island,” Suzaku said.
40“That’s Pitcairn Island,” Euphie told them as they got closer.
40“You sure?” Lelouch asked her in a skeptical tone.
40“I’m better at geography than you ever were, little brother,” Euphie retorted snidely.
40“I suppose you are,” Lelouch tittered as they flew down towards the smoldering ruins of what must have been a base.
40“Looks like we missed whatever happened here,” C.C. said as she panned her sensors around the midst of the ruined complex.
40The four Hakodeshim glided over the burnt-out shell of the large base. The shattered remains of KnightMare Frames littered the area.
40"Hey, there are people trapped under this rubble," Euphie exclaimed as she landed the Uriel and used the mecha to lift large chunks of concrete off a stairwell that probably led to a basement.
40"Looks like two survivors," C.C. said as she brought her Ariel down to assist Euphemia.
40"I'll check it out," Suzaku told them as he landed Gabriel and disembarked from his Hakodeshim.
40The Samael landed behind him, and Lelouch got out of the machine. He barely remembered to don his Zero helmet as he did so.
40"That looks like Nina!" Lelouch exclaimed as they got the girl out from under a set of large, concrete slabs which probably saved her life.
40"She...she took the FORGE..." Nina gasped for air. "Kannon tried to stop her...but he couldn't."
40"Where is Kannon now?" Lelouch asked as Suzaku took a flask of water from his belt and gave her a sip.
40Nina coughed and pointed farther down the stair. "We were all rushing for the underground bunkers when the Greek mecha attacked the base. Even after we gave her everything she wanted, she still attacked us."
40Suzaku looked down under the leaning slabs of broken concrete. "I'll go down and take a look."
40"Be careful, Suzaku," Lelouch said to him in his Zero voice.
40Nina looked up at the Zero mask. "You're...you're Zero." Her eyes were glassy.
40Lelouch looked down at her and called over his radio, "C2, we need to get Nina to a medical facility ASAP. I think she may have internal injuries."
40C.C. replied quickly, "I've already contacted the Avalon and informed them of the situation. Cornelia says she's sending an emergency unit out here right now. They should be here any minute."
40"I found him!" Suzaku declared as he carefully slid Kannon Maldini out from under the debris.
40"How is he?" Lelouch asked.
40"I'm alive," Kannon stated with a thin smile as the emergency shuttle from the Avalon settled down nearby. A team of paramedics came rushing out.


* * *

40"So, you managed to obtain the FORGE?" Athena smiled at Sthenno's image on the main screen of the command center of Tartarus.
40"Indeed we have, Athena," Sthenno stated with a narrow-eyed look.
40"Now that you've gotten your revenge, you think you can come crawling back here, is that it?" Athena scowled.
40"Not without tribute I can't and I know that," Sthenno stated coldly.
40“Assuming I’ll accept the FORGE as payment for your crimes,” Athena sniggered. “You make it sound as though I’ve no choice in the matter.”
40“Athena, I’ve no interest in fighting with you. If you don’t want the FORGE, I’ll give it to the UFN and their allies in exchange for a full pardon,” Sthenno grinned.
40Athena glared at her with distrust, but she didn’t want to risk the UFN acquiring the FORGE. “Very well, Sthenno. I absolve you and your sister of your past misdeeds so long as you return here at once with the FORGE.”
40Sthenno nodded. “Your wish is my command, Goddess Athena. I shall proceed to Tartarus immediately; Abaddon out.” The transmission ended.
40Athena looked at the person standing at the front of the Tartarus command deck directly under the monitor, a position that put the person out of Sthenno’s line of sight. “What do you think, Empress?”
40“Sthenno is telling the truth; she doesn’t intend any deception.” Nunnally frowned. “However, I noted a change in your emotion when she mentioned the FORGE. Is there something you’re not telling me, Athena? I thought we had a deal?”
40“We do,” Athena smiled warmly, “but, Empress, you must understand that for me to complete my end of our accord, I must make my part in this look as real as possible. Which reminds me…” Athena turned to Ares. “Inform Hephaestus that the time has come to launch the Sword of Damocles, and please escort the empress and her companion to a comfortable holding cell for the time being.”
40“Athena, what is the meaning of this?” Nunnally looked at her in horror.
40“I told you,” Athena grinned, “I’m keeping up my end of the bargain.”


* * *

40"This is your humble correspondent Milly Ashford reporting," Milly said from the bridge of the Ikaruga where Captain Ohgi Nu and Villetta were working diligently behind her.
40"At 09:00 hours Greenwich mean time, the UFN high command received this transmission from the enemy forces:”

80"People of the Earth, I am Athena, supreme commander of 40Tartarus. I order your governments to stand down and surrender their 40forces to me unconditionally or else suffer the consequences."

40The image of Athena was replaced with a blue-white beam blasting through clouds towards a UFN airbase in Russian Siberia and destroying it completely before the goddess’ visage returned.

80"If you do not meet our demands within seventy-two hours, 40we shall destroy all of your military forces and conquer this world through 40force of arms."

40"There you have it," Milly said as her image came back on the screens of millions of people worldwide. "The destruction of the Tunguska Variable KMF airbase in Northern Russia is confirmed by the UFN. It would seem that if the demands of this Supreme Commander Athena are not met, then we will become the slaves of the denizens of Tartarus. This is not a threat which the UFN can handle alone, and Lady Kaguya Sumeragi has pleaded for aid form Britannia."
40An image of Kaguya meeting with Cornelia replaced Milly's stoic face. "Cornelia li Britannia, acting regent of that nation, has agreed to a joint offensive against Tartarus in order to rescue Empress Nunnally vi Britannia from this new threat. The empress was kidnapped by the Olympian forces after they killed Schneizel el Britannia earlier this week."
40The screen returned to Milly's image. "In order to ensure that this operation is conducted in good faith by both groups, Zero has been asked to lead the mission to Antarctica."


* * *

40“Are you alright, Captain?” Tamaki asked as he watched Kallen staring out at the ocean from the ledge of the KnightMare hangar deck on the Ikaruga. They had returned nearly two hours ago, and Kallen hadn’t moved from this spot. She went there like a zombie after they had landed.
40“I can’t go on like this, Tamaki,” Kallen said mechanically. “I thought that once Lelouch died and the war with Britannia ended that my pain and loss would end with it. Then my mother died from health complications caused by her Refrain addiction, and I was powerless to stop it. I ran from that loss into the Black Knights to escape the pain, and that’s when I got to know Gino again. We got close as friends this time…not like the last time…this time, things were different. We were fighting together and for the peace that we both believed in. I became used to his presence, his smile, and his crazy way of always chasing after me. I got comfortable with him and even began to enjoy his flirtatious manner with me. But there was always the shadow of my past haunting me, and I didn’t let him into my life the way I should have…and now he’s gone...and I’m all alone.”
40“That’s nonsense, Kallen, and you know it!” Tamaki grabbed her by the shoulders. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”
40She brushed him off. “What would you know about it? You just drink your problems away…”
40Tamaki slapped her across the face. “How dare you! I’ve lost too…we all have.” Shinichiro stared into her eyes. “Don’t think you’re the only one out here fighting who’s lost someone they loved, or a good friend, or even their whole family. We’ve all been through this, and we’re still here and still trying to make a difference. We don’t give up because those we’ve left behind would want us to keep going forward, to keep pushing for what we believe in.”
40Kallen turned away from him. “I used to be like you…I used to believe in that rubbish, but I’ve lost too many people I love to be able to think like that anymore.”
40“You mean you lost Lelouch!” Tamaki snapped at her. “And you can’t deal with the fact he’s gone. Well, I have news for you, Kallen, you have to deal with it because there is nothing you can do about it now, and there’s no time for this childish nonsense. We’re heading for Antarctica to take down the Olympians, and it’s your duty to lead this unit and to fight. That’s what Commander Weinberg would have done, but I need to know right now if you’ll honor his memory and stand and fight or if you’re going to quit and run away from the reality of the world simply because it hurts.”
40His words cut deep into her psyche. Kallen contemplated what he said for a moment as he looked down at her. “I…you’re right, Tamaki.” She smiled at him, “Thanks.”
40Tamaki patted her on the head and smiled, “Don’t mention it…there’s more to me than just my good looks, ya know.”
40“Oh, yeah, right.” She shoved him. “Get your butt to the briefing room. We need to get ready for the assault on Tartarus.”
40“Now that’s the Captain Kozuki I know,” he teased as they walked towards the elevators.


* * *

40“Are you sure about this, Lelouch?” Cornelia asked him over a coded frequency on the main monitor within his private room of the Ikaruga.
40“We’ve no choice. We have to assault Tartarus now.” Lelouch sighed. “Enoch has informed me that if the Greeks are able to make use of the FORGE, then they’ll have an unlimited supply of power with which they'll totally enslave our world. The Apollyon may be gone, but Tartarus still has a full arsenal of weaponry, the most powerful of which is a series of orbital, beam weapon satellites known as the Sword of Damocles.”
40“Damocles again, eh?” Cornelia said in disgust. “The remaining Britannian forces will rendezvous with us just off the tip of Alexander Island on the South American side of Antarctica.”
40“Excellent," he smiled. "The remainder of the UFN forces will meet up with us there as well.” Lelouch brought up a small window on the left bottom corner of the viewscreen, which showed a map of the ice-covered continent. “Lady Kaguya has convinced Tohdoh that this is the only course of action that will ensure our success against the Olympians at this point. Therefore, the UFN ocean fleet will also accompany us in this operation and deploy marine forces here.” A series of red dots surrounded the South American side of the Antarctic coastline. "With the destruction of the Thor, we've regained our satellite network and can now locate the positions of the Greek warships and monitor their activities to a certain extent. We know the Kraken is here." A large, red triangle appeared on the screen. "It will be the first objective of the UFN forces while our aerial fleet moves in after the Kraken is dealt with."
40Cornelia studied the battleplan. "You want to mount a frontal attack against a city-fortress like Tartarus?"
40Lelouch frowned. "We've no choice. Athena isn’t going to waste any time using her satellite beam weapons to attack our forces from orbit, and our time will be short. Therefore, I plan to launch an assault on those beam weapons with our space-capable KnightMare Frames of the Yamato no Orochi. With the Sword of Damocles disabled or destroyed, we’ll be able to lay siege to Tartarus and put an end to this conflict.”
40“And if the city’s defenses are too strong?” Cornelia inquired.
40Lelouch held up a small black pouch. “Enoch has already discussed that possibility with me and provided me with a package to ensure the Greeks are no longer a threat. I’ll be leading the Hakodeshim into the city to reach the central tower where Nunnally is being held prisoner. Once I’ve got her and Jeremiah, I plan on using this package to send the Greeks a parting gift before I leave.”
40“I see.” She smiled at the mention of Enoch Apsu. “And I’m to keep the Greek forces busy until you’ve completed this mission, I take it?”
40“Precisely,” Lelouch grinned. “Your forces will draw out the KnightMare Frames and aerial warships of the enemy, which will allow my team to enter the city with little resistance.”
40“Sounds like a simple but effective plan, little brother,” she snickered. “I just hope it works considering none of us have ever faced an Olympian city-ship before.”
40He put his hand on the back on his head and sighed. “So do I.”


* * *

40The brilliant white coastline of Antarctica dominated the horizon as the combined UFN/Britannian ocean surface fleet launched its underwater KMFs. A hail of aerial-launched depth charges streaked from the warships towards a point some distance away from them.
40Hades Cannon blasts burst up from the sea towards the bombardment; destroying a large portion of the depth charges but not all of them.
40A series of underwater explosions surrounded the area where the Hades beams had come from. In the next moment, a sonic wave of energy flew towards the combined fleet causing many of the ships to list and some to capsize. The ships at the head of the formation had their bows cracked open under the tremendous force of the sonic wave, which caused them to take on water.
40Underwater, squadrons of marine KMFs sped towards the dark outline of the Kraken as the Greek submarine unloaded its own mecha, a full legion of Mermaid aquatic Automatos.


* * *

40"Our ocean forces have taken heavy damage!" Chiba told Tohdoh on the bridge of the Amagi as his air-fleet came in sight of the surface fleet battle.
40"Launch our Outbackers!" Kyoshiro barked. "And have them dive-bomb the Greek submarine."
40Wings of Type-21Os poured out from off the hangar launch ramps of the forty odd airships within General Tohdoh's flotilla of ships. The mass of variable KnightMare Frames showered the sea with their Slugger hypervelocity bazookas. Underwater explosions followed the hail of deadly projectiles, forcing the Kraken to surface.
40The deep-blue hull of the beast resembled a large UFN submarine, though the bridge section was akin to a large shark-fin with a series of windows running from top to bottom indicating various decks of the massive submersible.
40Hades and Chaos Cannon gunports popped up from along the sides of the ship and began firing an energy beam bombardment at the dive-bombing Type-21Os, quickly destroying numerous KMFs.
40"FIRE HADRONS!" Kyoshiro commanded.
40Every Hadron Cannon in his aerial fleet opened up and fired on the Kraken. The force of the onslaught beat its way through the shimmering Aegis shield of the submarine, which was clearly overwhelmed by the sheer firepower of the attack.
40The hull of the Kraken was blasted open on numerous sections, causing several secondary explosions all along the superstructure of the submarine, but the beast withstood the bombardment.
40"We have new contacts!" Chiba exclaimed as the bronze silhouette of a large Greek airship come into view over the Antarctic coast.


* * *

40"What's your status, Porsche?" Medea inquired on the bridge of her airship as the Ithaca approached the battle.
40The Kraken's captain came on the main screen. "We're badly damaged. Half our Automatos have been wiped out, and the Poseidon Cannon is destroyed."
40"You'd better withdraw now, Porsche." Medea smiled at her, "There's no need for you to get killed over this. We'll cover your escape."
40"Thank you, Medea. We'll recall all our remaining units at once." Porsche's image vanished off the screen.
40Medea turned to her second-in-command. "Have my Circe and two legions of Spartans made ready for battle at once!"
40"Yes, my lady!" the man bowed.


* * *

40"Tohdoh's forces have engaged the enemy," a female bridge bunny told General Li Xingke as his fleet of aerial warships crossed over the lip of the Antarctic shoreline.
40"Are there any enemy contacts?" Xingke asked in his dry monotone.
40"Not yet, sir; it would seem the enemy is baiting us," the young woman replied.
40Xingke turned to his navigator. "Have we reached Zero's predetermined position for our fleet yet?"
40"We are arriving at the coordinates now, General," the man replied.
40"Excellent." Xingke stood up from his command chair. "Scramble all KnightMare Frames. Send the Type-24s to the forward lines, and have our Type-21s maintain aerial cover as we await Zero's orders."
40"Yes, General," his bridge staff replied in unison.
40Thousands of Type-24 KMFs disembarked from Xingke's fleet of fifty-five airships and dropped down towards the surface as the Type-21s flew up above the fleet. The Type-24s hovered over the ground via their null-gravity cones and zipped out in front of the fleet to form a series of four lines of nearly a thousand KnightMare Frames abreast each.
40The Type-21s flew up high into the cloudless skies over the ice-covered continent. Their metallic bodies reflected the sunlight making them look like thousands of stars in the mid-morning sky.


* * *

40"You ready for this?" Enoch asked Kallen as he met her on the flight deck of the Ikaruga.
40She gave him a thin smile. "Yeah, I'm ready." Kallen looked him over. "How about you? You think we can pull this off?"
40"What, we're only going up against ten satellites, each the size of the Ikaruga." He winked at her. "What's so hard about that?"
40"You act like it's no big deal," Kallen chortled as the other members of the Yamato no Orochi joined them in the hangar.
40"If anyone can do it, Kallen, it's us," Enoch said with a smile.
40"He's right, you know, Captain," said Akira as he made his way towards the Susano-O. "We can do this."
40"Especially since we've got these new Type-21Zs," Gregor sniggered. "They kick butt!"
40"Ahem!" Mika jabbed him in the ribs gently. "And the Kali?"
40"No kidding," Lena laughed. "This op wouldn't even be possible without our Type-25X."
40"They have a point," Anya added as she got into her Type-21Z. "We're going to rely on the Kali's weaponry to knock down the Aegis shields of those satellites."
40"Yep," Tetsuo said as his cockpit canopy came down and he switched on his radio. "This is gonna be one heck of a ride."
40Tamaki was unusually silent as the eight KnightMare Frames taxied to the launch ramp. He was worried about Kallen but was hesitant to talk about it openly.
40Villetta's voice came over the main radio frequency. "Yamato no Orochi, you are cleared for takeoff!"
40In the next instant, the eight mecha blasted off the top deck of the Ikaruga.


* * *

40"It would seem the Black Knights don't wish to engage us, my Lord," a young, male Greek officer said on the bridge of the Olympian aerial warship Thebes.
40Ares stood in the middle of the warship which was of the same class as that of the Argos and Ithaca. "No...They know what they're doing, Deucalion. They're waiting for us to come to them."
40"Shall we, sire?" Deucalion inquired.
40"No." Ares looked out over the icy plain. "We are to remain here until after the Sword of Damocles dispatches them. Then we'll mop up what's left of their forces."
40"As you wish, my Lord," the man replied with a nod. "Sire, may I mobilize our Automatos in case the enemy manages to evade the satellite attack?"
40Ares grinned at the man's prudence. "Yes, Deucalion, you may mobilize our machines."


* * *

40"We're breaking through the stratosphere into the ionosphere and should be coming up on the first pair of Swords any minute now," Anya reported to the team as their squadron of eight KnightMare Frames zoomed towards a pair of long, sword-shaped, metallic structures whose "tips" were pointed towards Earth.
40The "blade" of one of Swords began to split into two halves forming a pair of triangular booms. Electrical bolts of energy arced back and forth over the surface of the booms as a large, blue-white ball began forming between them at the "hilt guard" of the Sword.
40"It's getting ready to fire!" Enoch announced over the radio. "Its shields should be down; we can take it out if we move quickly!"
40"Roger that," Kallen said as she flew Guren-Phoenix towards the device. "But where should we hit it at this point?" she asked as the massive weapon filled her viewscreens.
40"Aim for the portside cooling lines with your gunpods, and concentrate your fire on the main junction conduit. The Greeks use a liquid oxygen mixture as a coolant, which is extremely explosive," Enoch told them as he unleashed a hail of Meson Beam bolts at the large, circular pumping station which kept the metallic structure from melting due to the intense heat of the Chaos beam it was generating.
40"How convenient for us," Kallen sniggered as she riddled the circular pump with energy discs in unison with her teammates until the large structure exploded. The detonation caused a chain reaction which ran the length of the blade all along the cooling system's veins that ran all over the portside "blade."
40The blue-white sphere of energy wobbled and expanded uncontrollably over the middle of the booms. Instantly, the centers of the twin booms disintegrated causing the whole of the Sword to erupt in a titanic explosion.
40"Whew!!" Gregor cheered. "Yeah!"
40"That's one down," said Akira as they came up on the second Sword. "Nine to go."


* * *

40"Goddess Athena, we've lost one of our Swords of Damocles,” a female officer said to the supreme commander of the Greeks as she sat in her command throne atop a raised, circular dais in the main control tower of Tartarus.
40"I wonder where they got the idea to attack the satellites directly," Athena muttered under her breath as a crooked smile crossed her face. "Enoch, you sly bastard."
40"My Lady?" the female officer inquired, a bit confused by Athena's comments.
40Athena looked at her and stood up. "Move the remaining Swords into geosynchronous orbit over our position and begin targeting the UFN and Britannian fleets. Also, launch three legions of the Hoplite-Orion Automatos and have them act as guard units for the remaining Swords. Also, have Sthenno launch in her Abaddon with a legion of Cyclops and a legion of Minotaurs; have them comb the sierras to our backside for enemy mecha."
40"Yes, milady," the female officer bowed.
40Athena pushed a button on the left arm of her throne. "Hephaestus."
40"Yes, my Goddess Athena," the old man replied.
40"Activate the Daedalus generators and prepare the Tartarus for battle."
40"As you wish, milady," the man's tired voice answered obediently.


* * *

40"Our KMFs are getting wiped out!" Chiba shouted frantically as their forces engaged Medea's legions of Automatos.
40Kyoshiro examined the battle on the main viewscreen above him. "Protect the surface fleet by moving our fleet closer to the enemy, and launch our Type-24s. We need to ensure that the mecha transports can deploy their machines."
40"Yes, sir," Nagisa replied with a nod.
40The hangar bays of Tohdoh's fleet were emptied as the Type-24s flew out into the fray to assist the thinning numbers of Type-21s that were embroiled in the conflict with Medea's forces.
40"General Tohdoh's forces are taking a beating, Ohgi," Villetta told him on the bridge of the Ikaruga. "Shouldn't we help them?"
40"No," Ohgi said flatly. "Zero said for us to maintain this position until the Sword of Damocles has been destroyed."
40"But General Tohdoh's forces could be wiped out by that time!" Villetta pleaded with him.
40"I realize that," he closed his eyes in frustration, "but we've no choice. Zero has a plan, and if it's to succeed, then we need to follow it."
40"Captain, enemy airship spotted," one of the bridge bunnies called out.
40"Where?" Villetta asked before Captain Nu.
40"Dead ahead at about forty kilometers," the woman replied. "I think it's the Argos,” the woman added quickly.
40"Scramble all our KnightMare Frames and have them launch," Ohgi told the woman, "but order them to only form a defensive perimeter. We are not to engage the enemy until Zero gives the order."
40"Aye, sir," the bridge bunny responded.


* * *

40"Focus your Veil of Destruction on the center of the Sword!" Enoch yelled over the comm. at Mika and Lena as the Kali came up on the second satellite.
40"Will do!" Mika replied as Lena flew their heavy mecha up alongside the massive beam cannon. The brilliant green radiance of the Veil of Destruction emanated from the globes of the dual sickles on the back of the Kali and enveloped the Sword. The green energy clashed with the shimmering gold radiance of the Aegis shield and erupted into a shower of copper-colored sparks that flew out in every direction.
40"The shield is down! All units, attack!" Enoch bellowed.
40Kallen and the other Black Knights hammered the point at which the "blade" met the "hilt-guard" of the Sword, the area of the machine that held its power unit. The hail of energy discs and Meson beams tore through the bronze metal, and in seconds, the whole of the satellite erupted in a massive explosion.
40"New contacts!" Anya declared as a mass of Hoplite-Orions (mecha that are nearly identical to the standard Spartan except that the wings are replaced by spheres, which allow for transatmospheric spaceflight) rushed through the stratosphere towards them.
40"Damn it!" Akira cursed. "There's too many of them."
40"Enoch, the Swords!" Tamaki exclaimed over the radio as all of the Swords of Damocles began to open.
40"There's no time to stop them all!" Lena yelled.
40"Kallen," Enoch said as he transformed his Type-21Z into KnightMare mode, "I need you to keep those Hoplite-Orions busy while I take the Kali with me to the next Sword."
40"What good will that do? There's not time left, Enoch; we can't possibly stop eight of these satellites at once," Kallen barked at him as she melted a pair of Hoplite-Orions into molten slag with a wave blast from Guren's Supernova that passed right through the Aegis shields of the mecha.
40"Just do it!" Enoch snapped at her as he cut through three Orions with the Kaon Particle Beam Sabers of his Type-21Z as it flew towards the third Sword. “Besides,” he snickered mischievously, "I've got an idea."
40"What kind of idea?" Kallen asked with skepticism clearly in her voice.
40"A stupid one of course," Enoch laughed.
40"I had a feeling you'd say something like that," Kallen griped as she flew to intercept another duo of Hoplite-Orions. "Okay, you heard him; let's buy Enoch some time to execute his plan...since we don't have any other choice at the moment."


* * *

40"My lady, all Swords have been activated and are targeting the four enemy fleets as per your instructions," a female officer stated methodically in the command center of Tartarus.
40"Thank you, Io," Athena smiled at the woman. "How soon will the Swords be ready to fire?"
40"Five minutes, my lady," Io responded.
40"Excellent," Athena stated with a grin. "Then this futile attempt by the UFN and Britannia will save us the trouble of having to track down and destroy their fleets since they were kind enough to bring them here for us."


* * *

40"Their shields are down," Enoch told Mika and Lena. "I need you gals to hold off the Orions until I finish what I need to do."
40"What are you going to do?" Lena asked him as he cut another pair of Hoplites in half with his beam sabers and landed his Type-21Z on top of the "hilt-guard" of the Sword. "You'll know soon enough."
40Enoch jumped out of his KMF dressed in his Devicer EVA space suit and used the momentum to shoot himself towards an access hatch on the hull of the machine.
40He removed the glove from off his right hand. Damn, it's cold, he thought to himself as the freezing cold of space touched his cybernetic skin. Enoch put his naked hand over the LED-lit control panel and accessed the security system just as blue-bolts of electrical energy began arcing over the surface of the blade.
40"Enoch, whatever you're going to do, you'd better do it NOW!" Kallen yelled over the comm. in his helmet
40"Don't worry your head off, love," Enoch said to her as he entered the control room of the Sword and made his way to the master computer station. "I've got all the time I need to pull this off."
40"No you don't, you fool; the blue-globes have already formed," Kallen shouted at him. "It's too late. You need to get your ass out of there!"
40He put his hand over the computer console and accessed the unified fire control commands of all the Swords. Only one minute seventeen seconds left. Guess there's only enough time to do one thing, he thought to himself with a wicked grin as he accessed the satellites’ self-destruct command console.
40"Hey, Kallen, don't be too hard on Big-Z," Enoch said softly over the radio. "He needs his friends."
40"Guess I'll learn was a meteor feels like," Enoch snickered to himself as the satellite he was in detonated.
40"What? What the hell is that supposed to mean...Enoch? Don't you dare die on me, you son of a bitch!" Kallen screamed over the radio as the eight Swords of Damocles exploded.

Kodai Okuda
10-04-2010, 10:24 PM
Turn Twenty Five: Dirge of Daedalus

40“It was a battle for the history books. A struggle between man’s past and his future, but like so many of the wars in mankind’s long journey, this one would only lead the world into yet another uneasy peace.” —Excerpt from the diary of Lelouch vi Britannia (Zero), dated March 2025 a.t.b.

40“ENOCH!” Kallen screamed over the radio as she ripped through four Orions while the remains of the Swords fell to Earth. They looked like a shower of stars falling as the pieces burned up in the atmosphere.
40“Captain Kozuki, we have to return to Antarctica at once!” Akira demanded over the comm. “Our comrades need us.”
40The Guren-Phoenix chased down and riddled another pair of Hoplite-Orions with energy discs from its gunpod. “Not before I kill these bastards!” Kallen shot back in a malevolent tone as the Guren grabbed onto another of the Orions. The mecha tried in vain to slash at her with its sword, but the Supernova of the Type-25 melted the Greek machine instantly. Enoch said HE when he told me Zero needs HIS friends. That means Zero cannot possibly be Euphemia...but why? Why wouldn't Enoch tell me?
40Akira wasn't sure if there was time for her to chase down each of the enemy mecha. He contacted the Kali. “Lena, I need you and Mika to stay up here and guard Captain Kozuki while we return to the battle on Earth.”
40“But, Akira, we can’t protect her alone,” Lena said as the Kali cut a pair of Orions in half with its sword.
40“I’m not leaving Kallen behind,” Tamaki added over the general frequency as he dodged a Chaos beam and sliced an Orion in half with the Hadron blade of his Type-21Z.
40“We’re almost through with these guys, Akira,” said Mika snidely. “Why don’t you have some patience? Captain Nu and the others can take care of themselves.”
40“She’s got a point, Akira,” Gregor chided his friend as he cut down an Orion with his twin Kaon Particle Beam Sabers in a single fluid swipe at the midsection of the machine.
40“Fine,” Akira conceded as he watched Kallen dodge a hail of Hades Cannon blasts from three doomed Orions before they were incinerated by the Supernova of Guren. “I guess we should let her get it out of her system anyway.”
40“There’s no doubt that you’re a great KnightMare pilot, Akira, but you still have a lot to learn about being a warrior,” Anya said softly. "Warriors never abandon their friends."
40Nobunaga let out a frustrated laugh. “Yah, I guess I do.” He had Susano-O draw its Hadron blade as he charged towards the last group of Orions.


* * *

40“My lady, the Sword of Damocles has been destroyed,” Athena’s female officer reported woefully.
40Athena raised her left eyebrow. “Impressive…most impressive. I guess we’ve no choice then.” Athena looked at the digital representation of the battlefield on the main monitor of the command center. “Order our forces to attack their forward aerial fleets, but have Sthenno remain in reserve. The fourth enemy fleet seems to be smaller than the other three and no doubt is Zero’s.”


* * *

40“Are you sure this is such a good idea, Zero?” C.C. inquired sarcastically as she flew the Ariel with the other three Hakodeshim through the mountain range that surrounded the rear of Tartarus.
40“Yes,” he stated flatly, “it is the best course of action I can think of.”
40“Which means we’re in trouble,” Suzaku teased him over the radio.
40“Only if Enoch fails in his part of the plan,” Lelouch stated with a snicker. “If the Sword of Damocles has been destroyed, we shouldn’t have a problem reaching the main tower and rescuing Nunnally. According to the information I acquired from Medusa, there are only three aerial warships in Tartarus. While those craft are certainly formidable, they aren’t powerful enough to contend with the fleet we’ve assembled here.”
40“Don’t be too sure, Zero,” C.C. warned. “This city is also a fortress; there’s no telling what kinds of weapons it may possess.”
40“C2 is right, you know,” Euphie interjected. “The Greeks have surprised us on numerous occasions. There’s no reason not to assume they’ll pull another ace out of their sleeve.”
40“Your concern is noted, but I highly doubt we’ll have to deal with anymore—“ A beam of brilliant blue-white energy cut him off as it nearly incinerated the Samael.
40“SURPRISE!” Sthenno’s voice cackled over the communicator. “You vile little wretches thought you could assault the city from behind without resistance? Ha! What fools!”
40From over the peak of one of the low mountains, the Abaddon and its host of Cyclops and Minotaur Automatos skimmed over the snow-covered surface towards them at speed.
40“It’s an ambush!” Suzaku exclaimed as the Cyclops machines fired Chaos beams from the chest-mounted spherical weapon. Suzaku dodged a myriad of beam cannon blasts as the Minotaurs unleashed their salvos of Hades Cannon fire from the horn-like heavy weapons on the head of the mecha.
40Euphie deflected numerous blasts with the Uriel’s defensive shields while C.C. rolled out of the way of another barrage.
40“I’ll take of all of them,” Lelouch said as he brought the arm-mounted weapons of the Samael to bear on the legions of Greek machines.
40“Oh, no you don’t,” Sthenno said as she brought the Abaddon down towards the Samael. At over fifty meters tall (165 feet), the Abaddon was much larger than any of the mecha on the field around it. The large machine had a head unit that was sunken down in between its large, armored, round shoulders. There was no faceplate in the head, only a sensor eye cover which ran from one side to the other like a visor. A stubby, oval antigravity generator was on each side of the head protruding from a rectangular “backpack” which had three thruster nozzles in a triangular pattern on its center. Each arm of the Abaddon was comprised of a heavily armored, cylindrical forearm which ended in a large, three-fingered claw with a circular cannon muzzle in the palm. The legs were short and stubby in a wedge-shaped design with armored knees and a pair of thruster nozzles on the outside of each calf. The whole configuration of the Abaddon was that of an ogre.
40The Abaddon generated a force field which deflected the yellow-gold beams that the Samael shot out of its forearm cannons. “You’ll have to do better than that, Zero!”
40The giant mecha unleashed a salvo of missiles from “pop-up” launchers on its chest which unloaded a dozen missiles each.
40Lelouch used the omnidirectional barrier of Samael to absorb the warhead detonations as he flew back out of reach of the massive claws of Abaddon. “Damn you, Sthenno!” Lelouch barked at her.


* * *

40“Sthenno’s force has engaged Zero, my lady,” Athena’s female lieutenant reported mechanically.
40“Very good.” Athena was pleased with herself. Her strategy was going as she had anticipated it would. “Io, have our forces lure the UFN fleet towards the city, and tell Hephaestus to power up the Cerebus gun. I want to end this quickly.”
40“Yes, milady,” the woman nodded as she turned back to her control panel.


* * *

40“Ohgi, they’ve lost half their KnightMare Frames!” Villetta exclaimed as streams of Hadron and autocannon fire streaked towards the distant bronze speck near the horizon. “It would seem their forces are withdrawing back towards the city. Should we pursue them?”
40Captain Nu looked at his wife as he contemplated the consequences should this move by the enemy be an elaborate trap. “Yes…follow them, but have our fleet do so slowly. I don’t trust these Greeks. They’ve tricked us before with these kinds of tactics.”
40Villetta nodded, “Agreed, I’ll order our KMFs to advance in a slow and steady advance.”


* * *

40“Lady Medea, the enemy ocean fleet has begun to deploy large numbers of mecha along the coastline,” a young woman’s voice informed Medea as she flew her Circe towards her next intended target.
40Medea blasted an Avalon class frigate with the belly-mounted Chaos Gun of her Circe before responding, “Don’t worry about them, Lia.” Medea cut through a Type-21B as she continued, “Have our fleet withdraw towards the city as per Athena’s instructions. I’m sure she has something special in mind for these infidels.”
40“As you wish, milady,” Lia replied.


* * *

40“The enemy fleet has begun to retreat, General Tohdoh,” Chiba informed him as he watched a digital representation of the conflict on the overhead screen of the Amagi.
40“They’re moving back towards the safety of their city,” Kyoshiro said as he quickly formulated a countermove. “Close in on them and order our KMFs to cut off their escape path. If they get too far ahead of our forces, they’ll no doubt get cover fire from Tartarus itself. We need to prevent that.”
40“Yes, General,” Nagisa replied then began relaying Tohdoh’s instructions to the fleet.


* * *

40“We’ve broken through their perimeter defense forces, General Xingke,” Rivalz told him over the video screen.
40Xingke gave him a dry grin. “It appears you’ve routed their mobile units and put them into a state of disarray. Even now, their airship has begun to withdraw back towards the city.”
40“That seems a little too easy, General,” Rivalz cautioned.
40Xingke nodded. “I agree. They probably have heavier weapons within the city of Tartarus…therefore, I need you and your squadron to harass their aerial battleship into slowing down long enough for us to catch up to it and bring it within range of our main weapons.”
40“Understood, General.” Rivalz gave him a thumbs-up. “Don’t worry, we’ll keep them from running away.”


* * *

40“Watch out!” Suzaku said to Euphie as he cut through a pair of Cyclops units that tried to strafe the Uriel from behind.
40The sides and tops of the sierras all around them were littered with the burning wreckage of Cyclops and Minotaur Automatos, but they were still outnumbered three to one.
40“At least we’ve thinned them out a bit,” C.C. sniggered as she blew through four of the Greek mecha with a dual blast of energy from the blue spheres on the forearms of Ariel.
40“How’s Zero doing?” Euphie asked as she dodged a salvo of Hades Cannon bolts then cut the Minotaur that fired them in two with Uriel’s beam sabers.
40“He’s not doing so hot,” Suzaku said in a worried tone as Gabriel did a spin kick that impaled another Cyclops in the chest. The enemy unit fell to earth and exploded on impact.


* * *

40At the top of the low mountain that the Greeks had launched their ambush, the Samael and Abaddon dueled.
40“There’s no point in continuing to oppose us, Zero,” Sthenno stated confidently as the Abaddon fired a blast of energy from one of its palm-guns. The beam cut past the Samael and shattered the rocky tip of an adjacent peak.
40“She’s right, Zero,” Medusa added. “I promise we will not harm you if you surrender. You showed me mercy, and in return I’ll do the same for you.”
40“Forgive me if I’m cynical of your sense of mercy, Medusa,” Lelouch scoffed. “I’ve no interest in being your pet,” he said as Samael unsheathed its pair of green-colored beam sabers from their shoulder sheathes.
40“Don’t be an idiot, Zero,” Sthenno laughed. “That machine is no match for Abaddon. This Automatos was designed to destroy Archangels.” A green radiance shimmered around the Abaddon as Lelouch attempted to cut off one of its cylindrical arms. The green energy blades bounced off the force field harmlessly.
40The Abaddon fired a blast from one of its palm-guns at the Samael.
40“I’ll admit your machine is powerful, but it’s slow,” Lelouch smiled as he tested the shield again with his beam sabers.
40“Fool, you’re wasting your time.” Sthenno fired a salvo of missiles again.
40This time, Lelouch fired at the same time with one of his forearm beams. The beam was undaunted by the shield and impacted the Abaddon in its left torso just below one of the missile launchers.
40Medusa and Sthenno lurched forward as something exploded within the chest of their machine.
40“Damage report!” Sthenno demanded as she watched her salvo of missiles impact the energy shield of Samael.
40“He hit our shield generator when we fired,” Medusa stated frantically. “We no longer have our omnidirectional force field.
40“It would seem the tables have turned,” Lelouch tittered over the comm.
40“Don’t be so cocky, boy!” Sthenno yelled as she fired both palm-guns up at the mountain peak behind the Samael. A shower of ice and rock fell down around Lelouch’s machine.
40Lelouch flew the Samael with all the skill he could muster in order to dodge the avalanche of debris. He spun his machine around just as the Abaddon reached out with its great claw and grabbed his mecha like a doll.
40“Now I have you!” Sthenno cackled manically as the giant, clawed hand began to squeeze the Hakodeshim.


* * *

40“They’ve got Zero!” Euphie shouted over the radio in a panic as she tried to break away from the twenty Minotaur machines that were engaging her.
40“I’ll try to get to him!” said C.C. as she sliced through four Cyclops units with the gold-colored beam sabers of her mecha. She nearly reached Lelouch when her machine was blocked by four Minotaur. “Get out of my way!” she yelled as she blasted one of them with a burst of blue energy from the globe on the Ariel’s left forearm.
40“Zero, get out of there!” Suzaku yelled as he tried to break through the dwindling mass of Greek battle robots with the full gamut of Gabriel’s weaponry, but the horde of Automatos was too thick.


* * *

40“Sthenno, we should take him back as a prisoner,” Medusa told her sister as she watched the Samael struggle to break free.
40“I’m sorry, Medusa,” Sthenno said coldly, “but this man is far too dangerous for me to allow him to live.”
40“But you promised,” Medusa whined.
40“I said if I could save him I would,” Sthenno corrected her, “however, it is clear to me that to spare him would be as foolish as sparing Schneizel was. I will not make that mistake again. Do you hear me, Zero?”
40“I hear you,” Lelouch scowled as the Abaddon began to crush the Samael.
40“I’m going to kill you like I did that pig Schneizel,” Sthenno declared with malice as she set the palm-gun to maximum power and prepared to fire.
40“NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!” Kallen yelled over the radio as the Guren-Phoenix crashed down on top of the Abaddon. “This ends here and now!" Kozuki flipped the Supernova to full power and pulled the trigger.
40"What the...?" Sthenno exclaimed in confusion.
40The sisters didn't know what hit them as the wave of super-heated energy passed over the body of the Abaddon in one fluid sweep causing the machine to melt down onto itself and explode at the same time that Guren flew off of it.
40The Samael was shoved deeper into the snow by the force of the explosion.


* * *

40"Sthenno's force has been wiped out, my lady Athena." Io relayed the report with icy indifference.
40“It was to be expected,” Athena said with a wave of her hand. “Zero will soon be right where I want him, and then we’ll hold all the pieces of this little game.”
40“My lady,” Io interrupted her thoughts, “our airships have withdrawn into position. However, only two of the three enemy fleets have taken the bait. The central fleet is proceeding very slowly.”
40“And the fourth fleet?” Athena inquired.
40“The small aerial fleet to our rear has not moved from its position,” Io said.
40“No matter.” Athena lifted her chin. “Once we’ve dealt with the bulk of their forces the rest will fall easily.”


* * *

40“The Ikaruga and her fleet aren’t following the enemy force,” Tetsuo informed his companions as they dove down upon the Argos.
40“That’s probably for the better,” Anya said as she fired a barrage of Meson beams into a pair of Hoplite Spartans, destroying them.
40“Hey, Akira, isn’t this Jason’s ship?” Tamaki asked snidely.
40“Don’t worry, Tamaki, this time I intend to defeat him and take him prisoner,” Akira answered him in a cold tone.
40“And if you can’t?” Mika asked from the Kali.
40“He’s a warrior, Mika…” Akira sighed, “and warriors are prepared to die.”


* * *

40“Jason, a force of Automatos has appeared above us,” Orpheus informed him from within the cockpit of his Hoplite Spartan at the head of their legion of Spartans.
40Jason sat within the cockpit of his own machine, the Atlas—a machine identical to the Talos and the Helios, as he looked around the battlespace. “I see them.”
40“The lead machine looks like Akira’s,” said Heracles.
40“It is,” Jason replied in a steely tone.
40“Shall we engage them?” Heracles asked.
40“We’ve no choice but to,” Jason told him as he flew the Atlas towards the five members of the Yamato no Orochi.
40The Susano-O slashed through two Spartans as it came up towards the Atlas. It stopped just short of Jason’s machine and saluted.
40Jason didn’t need to speak to Akira to know that this duel would not be like their previous encounters. This contest would not be teacher to student, this would be warrior to warrior.


* * *

40The Gabriel, Uriel and Ariel finished digging out the Samael from the mass of ice and rock that it had been buried under.
40“Are you alright, Zero?” Euphie was worried about Lelouch from the moment his machine had engaged the Abaddon.
40“I’m fine, thank you,” Lelouch replied in his Zero voice. He was mindful of the fact that Kallen was there, as was evident by the fact that Guren-Phoenix stood guard while the Hakodeshim dug out Samael.
40“Thank you for your help, Captain Kozuki,” Suzaku told her.
40“Don’t mention it, Suzaku,” said Kallen coldly. “But understand this: I didn’t save Zero for any of you. I did it because it’s my duty, and it’s what Enoch wanted.”
40“Where is Enoch?” Euphie asked.
40Kallen winced at the question. “He didn’t make it.”
40“NO!” Euphemia cried out.
40“We can mourn him later,” C.C. said in an urgent tone. “We still need to rescue the empress and her Knight of Orange. Time is of the essence right now and thus we need to get moving.”
40“Agreed,” Zero stated flatly. “Captain Kozuki, the UFN fleet needs every KnightMare they can get right now. I greatly appreciate your help here, but you need to leave. The Olympians are clearly drawing our forces into a trap.” Lelouch brought up a digital window of the battle and transmitted it to Guren. “If you attack their lead ship from the rear, you should be able to disrupt their battle plan and ruin their strategy.”
40Pushing me away again, are you? Kallen thought to herself. “Looks like a good plan,” she lied. Kallen didn’t care whether it was a good plan or not. She was determined to know if this Zero was Lelouch, and she knew of only one sure way to find out. “But I’ve got to know something before I go.”
40The Guren-Phoenix lunged forward and grabbed the Samael with its Supernova claw. “Tell me…tell me now who you are or I’ll destroy this machine!”
40“Kallen, what the hell are you doing!” C.C. had the Ariel bodycheck the Guren off the Samael.
40“Get out of my way, pizza girl!” Kallen yelled at her as the Guren kicked the Ariel into the snow.
40“Have you lost your mind?” Suzaku’s Gabriel flew up behind Guren and grabbed the machine in a bear hug.
40The Guren flew backwards into the side of the mountain, smashing the Gabriel off itself. Kallen turned her machine around to fire on the Gabriel when a pair of green blades came up in front of her mecha.
40“Stop this insanity, Captain Kozuki, or I’ll kill you.” Lelouch knew such harsh words would throw suspicion off of him.
40“You’d…kill me?” Kallen’s lips trembled in a mix of hurt and anger. “How could you?”
40“To save the people of this world...yes, I would. I can't sacrifice the lives of all those fighting here for the freedom of the world simply because I’m not who you want me to be,” he said in a cold tone. “Lelouch vi Britannia is dead. I’m sorry.”
40“I guess so,” Kallen answered softly as a tear of frustration trickled down her cheek. "Forgive me, Zero. I guess the loss of Enoch got to me. I'll return to the Ikaruga fleet as ordered." She didn't wait for him to respond. Kallen simply tore off to help Ohgi.


* * *

40"My lady Athena, the two main fleets are now within firing range," Io reported to her with a smile.
40"Excellent, raise the city!" Athena commanded.
40As soon as her order was given, the great Daedalus generators within the bowels of Tartarus began to hum rhythmically. In a matter of seconds, the ice that surrounded Tartarus cracked and shattered, freeing the mighty sky-citadel from its frozen moorings. The whole of the circular metropolis lifted from its ancient resting place off the ice plains of Antarctica, exposing its bowl-shaped underbelly.
40Huge sheets of ice fell from the bottom of the massive ship as it came up into the sky. A belt comprised of block-shaped battlements ringed the circumference of the city-ship.
40Large, circular ports slid open in the center of each of the block-shaped battlements revealing a large, round Chaos Gun Sphere.
40"Open fire!" Athena barked at her subordinates within the command tower of Tartarus.
40Instantly, the massive Chaos Guns came to life firing beams of deadly energy the width of an aerial battleship towards both Tohdoh's and Xingke's fleets.


* * *

40The Hadron Masmune of Susano-O clashed with the adamantine blade of the Atlas as the city of Tartarus broke free of the ice and ascended into the Antarctic sky.
40Explosion discs filled the sky in the vicinity of the two UFN air-fleets.
40"Damn you, Jason!" Akira yelled over the comm. as he dodged a thrust by the Atlas. Susano-O spun round and sliced at the left wing of the Greek machine and chopped off the wing tip. "How can you continue to fight us like this?"
40"This is war, Akira!" Jason told him in a dry monotone. "It's not personal," he said as his machine parried another sword attack.
40Both machines flew at each other, then parted, then clashed again. "When the lives of my friends are on the line, it's always personal." Susano-O pushed against the adamantine sword as the Hadron energy began to melt through the Greek blade.
40"Everyone dies, Akira," Jason said to him as his machine disengaged. "It's simply a matter of when." The Atlas slashed at the left wing of the Susano-O.
40Akira dodged and swiped at the left arm of Atlas, slicing off some of the armor. "I don't ascribe to that philosophy...not with people I care for!"
40"Perhaps I misjudged you," said Jason sadly as the Atlas slipped to one side and thrust with its sword.
40The Susano-O did a snap kick, knocking the adamantine sword from the hands of Atlas. "You did if you thought that I'd allow you to hurt my friends, Jason!" Akira yelled as he stabbed at the center of the Atlas.
40"No you don't, boy!" Heracles yelled as he fired his adamantine disc at Akira.
40"Maybe you should concentrate on your own battle, Greek!" Mika yelled as Lena piloted them into range of the Helios. Mika fired a hail of Meson beams from the arm-mounted gunpods of the Kali.
40The Meson bolts struck the adamantine disc and knocked it off its course causing it to miss the Susano-O but allowing Jason to dodge the Masmune.
40"Heracles, don't interfere—" Jason was cut off by a large explosion at the aft of the Argos.
40"Captain! The Argos is under attack!" Orpheus' voice reverberated through the cockpit of the Atlas.
40Showers of energy blasts rained towards an unknown object as it streaked up above the Argos and landed on the top forward section of the ship. A ring of liquid heat-energy passed over the hull of the Greek ship causing the top to rupture and explode.
40"What is that?" Lena asked in a stunned tone.
40"Guren," Anya said in awe of the machine as it blasted through more of the top deck of the huge aerial battleship with its Fukusha Hadou Kikou disc-rifle gunpod.
40"Whew hoo," Tamaki cheered with a snicker, "something's got Kallen really pissed."
40The Guren-Phoenix flew along the port side of the Argos at speed and unleashed a wave from its Supernova. The intense heat of the weapon stripped the armor of the Greek machine off completely in the wake of Guren.
40"NOW, OHGI!" Kallen yelled over the radio to the Ikaruga.
40Ohgi's response came in as a shower of heavy Hadron Cannon fire that tore through the hull of the Argos into the interior of the vessel.
40"Jason, we must retreat!" Heracles boomed over the comm. as the Argos listed to its port then exploded in a thunderous detonation. The shock wave threw the whole of the combatants into disarray with a blizzard of ice and debris.


* * *

40"We've lost the Argos!" Io yelled in shock within the command center of Tartarus.
40Athena scowled, "Is the Cerberus Gun ready yet?"
40"Not yet, my lady." Io composed herself. "The triple-cannon is at 75% and charging."
40"And Jason?" Athena asked with concern.
40"He and his remaining forces have retreated to the Thebes,” Io reported.
40"A brilliant move, Zero," Athena said to herself. "Routing our middle to allow your central fleet to remain where it is out of harm’s reach." She humphed. "Io, tell Ares and Medea to fall back to the Tartarus. We'll finish their three forward fleets with the combined strength of both our airships and the weapons of the city."
40"As you wish, milady," Io replied then turned to obediently relay the orders.


* * *

40"Keep pushing them back!" Tohdoh boomed on the command deck of the Amagi as the Greek Automatos formations crumbled under the weight of his KMF forces. "We're nearly to the city itself."
40Through the viewports of the Amagi, the floating city of Tartarus came into view.
40"Our fleet can't take much more of this," Chiba said in awe of the massive fortress as the huge ship bombarded their fleet with Chaos beams.
40"Keep our formation dispersed to force them to split up their cannon fire!" Kyoshiro yelled as five Avalon class frigates were blown out of the sky next to the Amagi.
40"Their city is now in range of both our heavy Hadrons and those of General Xingke's fleet," Nagisa said as another of the Avalon frigates exploded.
40"Order our forces and his to fire at will!" Kyoshiro commanded.
40Both UFN fleets unleashed the full fury of their capital ship weapons at the city.
40The onslaught was stopped short by a shimmering radiance of golden energy that surrounded the whole of the city-ship.
40"Oh, my God!" Chiba stated in horror. "It's shielded!"


* * *

40"My Lord Ares, our fleet is now in position over Tartarus," Deucalion informed his commander.
40"Very good," Ares replied with a nod. "Bring the Thebes to full stop and position us out of the way of the Cerberus cannon."
40"We won't last long in this position, sire," Deucalion informed him. "Most of our Automatos have been destroyed by their machines, and our Aegis shields are already at 110% output trying to repel their fleets’ weaponry."
40"We won't have to, Deucalion," Ares smiled. "The flies have entered the spider's web."


* * *

40The Samael and its three Hakodeshim companions flew up out of the mountain range as the massive Aegis shield shimmered around the whole of Tartarus.
40"The city has a shield," Suzaku exclaimed in frustration. "How the hell are we going to get through that?"
40"No kidding," Euphie added. "Even these machines don't have enough power to knock down a shield of that magnitude."
40"So what now, Zero? You're the strategic genius," C.C. chided Lelouch. "Where's the miracle this time?"
40"I thought you'd never ask," Lelouch chortled as he opened a new radio channel. "Cornelia, is everything ready?"
40"The Gefjun cannon is fully charged and ready to fire," Cornelia said from within the cockpit of her KMF Queen Victorious as it held a massive, cylindrical, bazooka-like cannon over its shoulder. A host of KMF Victoria general issue Frames stood on the deck of the Avalon around Cornelia's mauve-colored unit where a large power cable ran from the back of the bazooka into an open plate on the top deck of the airship.
40"Fire," Lelouch said in a confident tone.
40Cornelia fired the weapon. A ball of green-white energy blasted out of the maw of the cannon towards the energy shield of the Tartarus.
40The green ball slammed into the shimmering golden field and dissipated a large portion of it.
40"NOW!" Lelouch yelled at his companions as he flew the Samael towards the hole as fast as was safe to do so.
40In seconds, the four Hakodeshim were through the shield and over the city of Tartarus.


* * *

40"My lady, four Hakodeshim have penetrated our Aegis shield and entered the city!" Io exclaimed.
40"WHAT!" Athena blurted out in surprise. "How?" she demanded.
40Io's face showed fear as she replied, "It would seem their rear fleet fired some kind of weapon that disrupted our shield."
40"Damn him!" Athena cursed. "Of course! How could I have been so stupid! The main force was a decoy. His real objective is Nunnally. Have a platoon sent down to the prison level where the empress is being held and tell them to shoot intruders on sight."
40"It will be done, my lady," Io nodded.


* * *

40"They're on to us!" C.C. informed Lelouch as twenty Hoplite Spartans flew down the streets below towards them.
40"Well, of course they are," Lelouch sniggered. "We did knock down a portion of their defense shield. We need to pull this off with split-second timing. Suzaku, you and the Red Dragon will form a defensive line on the south side of the central tower of the city while C.C. and I enter the building and rescue Nunnally and Jeremiah."
40"How will you even find them?" Suzaku asked as the Greek mecha began to close in on them while they descended towards the base of the large bronze-tipped tower.
40"Jeremiah's cybernetics are sakuradite-powered and act as a homing beacon that will allow us to detect him, since I highly doubt there are mini-KnightMares in this tower. Besides, I'm only picking up one such signal and it's in a sublevel near the main elevators."
40"Well, somebody had a lot of time to think this through," Euphie giggled. "Smarty pants."
40Suzaku breathed deeply. "Okay, Zero, let's do this."
40The four machines landed at the base of the command tower. The Uriel and the Gabriel took up tactical positions on each side of the building as C.C. and Lelouch (dressed as Devicers with only a balaclava on) jumped out of their Hakodeshim and ran into the building.
40"There they go," Euphie said with concern. "I hope they'll be okay."
40"Don't worry," Suzaku reassured her as the first Spartans came into view down the street. "They'll do fine."


* * *

40C.C. and Lelouch dove past a troop of guards that came running down the hall as soon as the pair passed through the vestibule into the lobby of the large tower.
40C.C pulled out her pistol prompting Lelouch to do the same.
40"Your Geass will be more powerful than these pistols, Lelouch," C.C. informed him as the elevator descended to the fifth sublevel of the building.
40"I understand," he said. "That's why I left the Zero helmet behind. If I need my Geass, I can use it instantly."
40The door opened up revealing a host of twenty Greek troopers in armor.
40"Now would be a good time!" C.C. squealed as she fired a few rounds from her pistol.
40Lelouch cast his Geass, "I, Lelouch vi Britannia, command you to obey my orders without question!"
40The twenty troopers came to attention and declared in unison, "YES, MY LORD!"
40Lelouch and C.C. led the platoon of Greek soldiers to the suite which held Nunnally and Jeremiah. "Open it," Lelouch ordered the Greek officer.
40The man obeyed and the door opened.
40"Nunnally," Lelouch said as he pulled down the front of his balaclava.
40"Lelouch!" Nunnally stood up from the sofa she sat upon.
40"Master Zero, we are honored to be saved by you personally," Jeremiah gleamed.
40"You sure took long enough." Nunnally glared at him. "By the sound of things, Ohgi and the others are in real trouble."
40"They are," C.C. stated with urgency. "We need to go now."
40"Jeremiah, I need you to go with Nunnally to the surface and get my sister out of here. Take the green KnightMare at the entrance to this place and leave."
40"And where are you going?" Nunnally asked with a frown.
40"I need to deliver this package for Enoch." Lelouch gave her a sad smile.
40"Where?" Nunnally inquired.
40"The main engine room of Tartarus some fifty levels below us," he said with a sinister smirk. "Don't worry, I've got C2 to protect me."
40"Oh, yeah right." C.C. rolled her eyes. "Some gentleman you are."
40"We don't have time for this," Jeremiah reminded them.
40Lelouch turned to the Greek commander. "Protect the Empress Nunnally and her Knight Jeremiah with your lives."
40"Yes, sire! It will be done!" the Geassed officer stated obediently.
40Lelouch bent down and kissed Nunnally on the forehead. "I'll see you back on the Ikaruga."
40Nunnally only nodded. She wanted to believe him but something worried her.
40"Let's go, Empress." Jeremiah picked her up in his arms and followed the troopers to the elevators.
40"Ready?" Lelouch asked C.C.
40"As I'll ever be," she smiled at him. C.C. was glad she could be a part of this with him. She knew the danger they were in, but being with Lelouch chased her fears away.


* * *

40"Captain Nu." Cornelia's image came up on the main screen of the Ikaruga. "Move your forces into full retreat."
40"What? Why?" Ohgi asked in a confused tone.
40"Tell Tohdoh and Xingke that Zero has infiltrated the Tartarus and that his plan requires you to withdraw at once. If you don't, I cannot guarantee your safety."
40"Oh, it's one of those kinds of plans, is it?" Ohgi knew Zero was reckless, and this scheme reeked of that bravado.
40"It is," Cornelia snickered.
40"But, Princess Cornelia, General Tohdoh will not listen—" Ohgi began to protest.
40"We will do as Zero commands, Princess," Kaguya said from the mezzanine of the bridge. "I'll relay the message to the fleet personally, and we will begin a full retreat."
40Cornelia nodded to Kaguya and then ended the transmission.


* * *

40"Their fleet is retreating!" Io said in confusion. "I don't understand."
40"How soon until the Cerberus Gun is ready to fire?" Athena demanded.
40"Three minutes, my lady," Io informed her.
40Athena watched the fleeing UFN fleet with scorn. "Move the Tartarus into a pursuit course, and bring their fleet into firing range."
40"As you wish, my lady," Io bowed.
40"They will not evade me," Athena declared with conviction.


* * *

40"What exactly are we doing down here?" C.C. asked Lelouch as they left the elevators into the massive, vaulted roof engine room of the Tartarus. The chamber was filled with large, cylindrical, metallic generators that hummed loudly. Each of the generators was surrounded by catwalks and scaffolding which ran throughout the level. Control stations were at the base of each generator.
40"We're looking for the master control panel," Lelouch told her as they ran along the steel grate floors into the interior of the room.
40"There!" Lelouch pointed towards a large, round, table-like control station in a circular, central space between the huge generators.
40They ran up to the master control station and Lelouch removed the black, cell-phone-sized pouch that Enoch had given him.
40"I hope you know how to use whatever is in that thing," C.C. said as she panned her pistol around hoping they didn't get ambushed in the wide-open chamber.
40Lelouch pulled out a gray and bronze cassette tape-sized device and plugged it into a suitable slot on the control panel. "That's it," Lelouch told her.
40"Really?" C.C. said in surprise. "I was thinking there would be more to it than that."
40"Nope, let's go," Lelouch told her as they made their way back towards the elevators.
40"What's that thing supposed to do?" C.C. asked as they entered the elevator.
40"You'll see," he said to her with a wink.


* * *

40"Cerberus cannon at full power, my lady," Io said with a snide smile.
40"Very good." Athena looked out at the UFN fleet with disdain. "FIRE!"
40The three massive, forward-firing maw-guns at the base of the city, just below the battlement ring, glowed with an eerie, red light then stopped.
40"What's happened?" Athena barked at Io.
40Io typed away frantically on her control station. "I don't know! The Cerberus Gun failed to fire."
40"I can see that," Athena yelled in frustration.
40"Our Aegis shields are lowering!" a male member of the bridge crew declared in alarm.


* * *

40"Keep firing, Euphie!" Suzaku said as he blasted through four Spartans with a hail of blue-globe-generated flares. The four Hoplites were destroyed by the attack.
40"There's too many of them," Euphie said. "We can't keep this up much longer."
40Jeremiah and Nunnally came rushing out the doorway of the tower with their troop of twenty Greek guards in tow. The empress and her Knight climbed into the Ariel.
40"Where the hell is he?" Suzaku demanded as he radioed the Ariel.
40"Master Zero told us to leave immediately," Jeremiah informed Suzaku.
40"We're not leaving without them!" Euphie declared. "With the Ariel's firepower, we should be able to hold here a bit longer."
40"I suppose you're right," Suzaku agreed. "If you can handle that Hakodeshim, Jeremiah, then we can wait for them to get out of there."
40"I'm insulted that you think I'm incapable of handling this machine, Master Kururugi," Jeremiah stated factiously as he unloaded a dual blast of energy bolts at a mass of approaching Spartans, incinerating them.
40"My apologies, Knight of Orange, I should have known better," Suzaku chuckled.


* * *

40"Status report!" Athena stated in a fury into the comm. on her throne.
40"My lady, our fold engines have just come online!" Hephaestus' voice rang out in a panic from the engine room.
40"It's some kind of computer virus!" Io interjected. "It's rewritten our command codes and is redirecting the power from the main guns to the fold engines!"
40"Bastard!" Athena pounded the armrest of her throne. "He outwitted me again."
40"My lady, there's a message on my screen," Io said, befuddled.
40"What?" Athena asked, perplexed by her words. "Well, read it."
40"It reads: My dear Athena, if there is one thing you need to learn about the future, it's that payback is a bitch." Io gave her a wide-eyed look. "It's signed....Enoch."
40Athena closed her eyes. "We are defeated...for the moment. Order Ares and Medea to return at once, and plot an emergency fold course into the hyperspace navigational system."
40"But, my lady..." Io started to protest.
40"Do not argue!" she yelled at her subordinate as a blue glow surrounded Tartarus. "Do It NOW!"
40"Yes, milady!" Io recalled them immediately as other techs input the navigational data.


* * *

40"You really like to cut things close, don't you, Lelouch!" C.C. snickered as they rushed out of the elevator towards the exit of the tower. They could see the blue glow of the fold-sphere outside as it surrounded the city.
40"What?" he laughed sarcastically as they crossed through the vestibule into the streets of Tartarus. "Don't you want to jaunt through the galaxy...travel to new worlds, meet new civilizations...boldly go where no witch has gone before?"
40C.C. nearly tripped as they made it to the base of Samael. "Oh, God, you have become Enoch!"
40"Is that a bad thing?" Lelouch asked as they climbed into the cockpit of the Hakodeshim. The sky around them was electrified with energy as the fold engines of Tartarus distorted the space-time continuum.
40"It sure took you two long enough!" Suzaku called out over the radio.
40"Why are you still here?" Lelouch demanded.
40"Save the argument for later!" C.C. said as she stomped on Lelouch's foot causing Samael to boost up off the ground at full speed.
40"Ouch!" Lelouch yelled as the four Hakodeshim passed through the blue-white globe of energy that now engulfed the city of Tartarus and its two airships.
40In the next instant, the blue globe erupted in a brilliant flash of blinding, white light. The light dissipated quickly with only a few embers of energy remaining for a moment then vanishing. The city of Tartarus was gone.

Kodai Okuda
10-06-2010, 12:19 AM
Turn Twenty Six: Table for Two

40“In acknowledgement of your accomplishments and part in the rout of the Olympian menace, you are cordially invited to a party befitting a person of your stature and grace. It would please your host greatly if you chose to attend this gala which suits this festive time of year in remembrance of the Spirit of Giving and the birth of the Hope of the World.
40Your lodging will be within the luxurious Victorian castle-mansion of Red Manor, which resides on Cape Ann in northern Massachusetts. This Colonial estate overlooks the Atlantic Ocean with a fabulous view and has seventy-two oversized guest rooms of exquisite design and furnishings of which you are invited to stay in one.
40The kitchen is manned by a master chef who will provide you with the finest foods of the season. A feast of cranberry-stuffed chicken and all appropriate trimmings will be provided for the Christmas Eve dinner followed by a dessert bar of cakes, ice creams, and pies. Morning eats shall consist of an assortment of home-cooked, traditional European dishes including eggs, steak, fruit-filled crepes, pancakes, and waffles. A lunch of lamb shank, basmati rice, hummus, couscous, and pita shall be served at 10:00 am Eastern Standard Time. The Christmas goose will be provided for your culinary delight at 2:00 pm EST and shall be followed by a pizza party at 6:00 p.m. sharp.
40Red Manor is equipped with a fully stocked bar and wine cellar. Drinks shall be provided from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight. Non-alcoholic beverages are also available and can be had at any time during your stay from the refrigerator within your guest suite.
40Gifts will be handed out on Christmas day during the pizza party and are provided by your humble host at no charge.
40You may bring along with you one guest of your choice or your immediate family, if such is the case.
40Travel expenses and all necessary arrangements have been made for you, and your tickets are provided in this package, including your room key and a key to the front door. My home is your home during this event, so please feel free to let yourself in as soon as you can attend.
40I expect ALL of you to attend this Table for Two no later than the evening of the 24th of December. If you don’t, I shall be very put out.
40Cordially Yours,
40Your Humble Host” —Copy of the invitation sent to Rakshata Chawla, Lloyd Asplund, Cecile Croomy, the Nu family (Villetta, Ohgi, and their two children), Jeremiah, Sayoko, the Britannian Royals (Nunnally and Cornelia), Suzaku Kururugi, Kallen Kozuki, the Yamato no Orochi (Akira, Gregor, Tamaki, Anya, Mika, Lena, and Tetsuo), Lihua, Kaguya, the Ashfords (Rivalz and Milly), and C.C. from an anonymous host, dated December 7th, 2024 a.t.b.

40“People of the world!” Zero raised his hands in front of the television cameras and reporters who had gathered at the foot of New-Brunswick Castle at the edge of the crater-lake in the center of the city of Neo-Pendragon. Behind them was a sea of citizens from all over the world who came to see Zero speak.
40Nunnally, Suzaku, and Jeremiah stood to Zero’s right while Cornelia, the Red Dragon, and Guilford stood to his left. In front of him sat General Tohdoh, General Xingke, Empress Lihua, and Lady Kaguya.
40“The enemy which shattered the peace that we have worked for so diligently for so long has been vanquished.” Zero outstretched his hand towards the cameras. “But it would not have been possible for simply the United Federation of Nations to perform this act alone, nor could Britannia have done it. In order to defeat this enemy, they had to come together and use their combined strength to oust them.”
40He turned to his right to see Nunnally nod at him and smile. Zero turned back towards the crowd of reporters below him and clenched his fist in a dramatic manner. “We must understand that this new enemy has only been driven from our planet for the moment, and that this external threat may at any time return to plague us yet again.”
40He thrust his open hand towards the cameras and the crowd. “The UFN is no longer adequate to deal with this new menace, and Britannia is too restrictive a nation to allow for the innovations needed to contend with it. Our world as a whole is lost in the myriad of philosophies and dogmas of the past. Socialism has failed, fascism has failed, imperialism has failed, corporatism has failed, feudalism has failed, and the whole of the Old World Order is a failure!”
40Zero punched his right hand above his shoulder towards the sky as he shouted, “We need a new form of government! One that protects the people and allows the best and the brightest among them to succeed unhindered by government cronyism or bureaucratic corruption. What we must create if we are to resist this new extraterrestrial threat is a classless system of society and an economic system which prevents the kind of greed that led to the unearthing of the city of Tartarus in the first place. We will do this with the abolition of usury and egalitarian policies. Mankind needs a government that exists for people, by people and holds individual liberty in the highest regard. Our enemy is a republic capable of mustering forces beyond our comprehension. Therefore, we here must in turn form a new government, one that trusts its people with arms, allows people to speak out against it, and permits people to be masters of their own destinies!”
40Zero reached out towards the crowd in a grasping gesture. “What we must build is a commonwealth, a republic with which we can defend our world from almost certain enslavement if not total destruction! We shall overcome this new enemy! We shall build our new republic! We shall sweep away the past so that we may capture the future! And we shall do it together!”
40Cheers thundered through the city as Zero bowed to the crowds.
40Nunnally stepped forward as Zero walked to the back of their group. He nodded at her as she stood at the podium. “As of this moment, all hostilities between Britannia and the UFN have officially ceased, and our two militaries have agreed to combine into one new global force intended to be the military of our new republic.” Nunnally smiled at Kaguya who stood from her chair and came up next to Nunnally at the podium.
40“Beginning in March of 2025 a.t.b., the leaders of the UFN, Britannia, and all non-aligned nations shall begin diplomatic talks with regard to the drafting of a document for the new world government to abide by. These talks will be democratic in nature, and every country, regardless of population size or territory, shall have equal vote in this new council. May God have mercy on us and guide us through these talks, for if we fail in this endeavor to create this new government, we shall all be doomed to whatever fate the Olympians will reign down upon us.”


* * *

40“Wow, that was quite a speech you gave, Zero,” the Red Dragon said as they walked towards the interior of the castle. Neither one of them saw the pair of figures who slipped through a side door of the large entry way towards them.
40“It’s just the beginning,” he said with a sigh. “I wish Enoch were here. I could use his input.”
40“Do you miss him?” the Red Dragon asked sympathetically.
40Zero let out a short laugh. "Yeah...guess I do." He turned to her as they reached the inner set of double doors. "He was the closest thing I had to a real father. It’s kind of weird, huh? What, with him always trying to keep my ego in check and yet pushing me to be something more."
40“Not really,” said the Red Dragon as she took hold of his hand. “You never had a real father figure in your life. Enoch knew that and tried his best to help you because of it. He said you reminded him of what he used to be like.”
40“I wonder what kind of life he had growing up,” Zero lamented.
40“Pardon me, Zero,” a female voice asked from behind them.
40The Red Dragon went into a combat stance at the sound of the woman’s voice. “Who’s there?”
40“Whoa, it’s just me, Milly Ashford.” Milly raised her hands defensively. Her cameraman waved at them from behind her.
40The Red Dragon relaxed. “You two shouldn’t sneak up on us like that.”
40“Sorry,” Milly smiled.
40“What can I do for you, Mrs. Ashford?” Zero asked as he walked up to her.
40A pleasant aroma filled Milly’s nostrils as he got close to her. Her eyes grew wide with recognition. “Oh, my!” she blurted out, covering her mouth. “Um…I…wanted to know if you’d be willing to do a one-on-one interview with me.” Milly stammered.
40“An exclusive,” the Red Dragon teased him. “She’s cute too.”
40Milly blushed.
40Zero turned to the Red Dragon. “She’s married.”
40“Good thing…or a certain someone we know would be jealous,” the Red Dragon tittered.
40Zero turned back to Milly. “I can’t grant you an interview today; however, I will be able to do so after the first of the year. Is that alright?”
40Milly stared at him. “Um…yes, that would be okay.”
40He put his hand on her shoulder. “Very good, please have your office contact the Britannian embassy in Japan to make the proper arrangements.”
40Milly smiled at him as her olfactory sense identified the aroma that emanated from his sleeve. “You shouldn’t keep secrets from your friends, you know.”
40Zero withdrew his hand slowly. This time it was he who stuttered, “I…suppose…you are right, Milly. I shouldn’t, not anymore.”
40Milly winked at him. “It’s a date then.” She turned to Seiji. “Let’s go, I don’t want to distract him. I’m sure he has a big day still ahead.”
40Zero and the Red Dragon watched in silence as the pair walked away.
40“What was that all about? I thought you said you’d get the interview no matter what?” Seiji asked Milly with a smirk.
40“I’ll get my interview, don’t you worry,” said Milly confidently. “He won’t stand me up.”
40“You act like you two know each other personally,” Seiji said.
40“We do,” Milly said to more herself than to him. “We go way back.”
40Seiji was surprised. “How the heck did you recognize him? It’s not like we’ve ever seen Zero’s face.”
40“I didn’t need to see his face to know it was him behind the mask,” said Milly with an arrogant look at her camera man. “His cologne gave him away.”
40“His cologne?” Seiji scoffed.
40“Yep,” she snickered. “Believe me, Seiji, when you’re in love with someone, you remember everything about them. Especially the subtle nuances, and the man under that mask wore cologne that no other man I’ve ever known would have: Ode de la Imperial.”
40“Never heard of it,” the cameraman said.
40Milly gave Zero one passing look before she and Seiji left the castle. “You aren’t likely to have, as it was available only to the Britannian royal family.”


* * *

40“Dude, this is totally boring!” Tamaki whined as the Ikaruga floated above the city of Neo-Pendragon. He and the other members of the Yamato no Orochi were staring out at the city from the promenade deck at the aft of the ship.
40“Miss the Greeks already, do you?” Kallen snickered as she sipped her tea in the warm Arizona air of early December.
40“Nah!” He leaned back on the railing and slugged his coffee. “I just can’t stand doing nothing.”
40“Really?” Mika asked. “I’m enjoying the break from all the fighting.”
40“No kidding,” Gregor said. “Not to mention we’ll be going into space in a few months. I’d like some time to relax.”
40“Me too,” Lena agreed as she held onto Akira’s arm. She looked up at him. “Gives us time to appreciate the finer things in life.”
40Akira bent down and kissed her. “I couldn’t agree more.”
40“Okay, you two, get a room or something!” Tamaki griped.
40“Oh, stow it, you old geezer!” Kallen taunted him. “They’re in love, let them enjoy it.”
40“Geez, you recovered fast,” Tamaki retorted carefully. “Just last month you wanted to drown your sorrows in a sea of booze.”
40“I got it outta my system,” Kallen barked at him. “You gotta problem with that?”
40“Yeah, you were fun as a drinking buddy, now you’re all sober and gooey,” Tamaki snickered.
40“Well, excuse me, punk!” Kallen put her hands on her hips. “In case you didn’t notice, I happen to be a woman.”
40“I’ve noticed,” he said with a sly smile.
40Kallen eyed him. “Tamaki, you’re asking for a beating,” she laughed. “I swear if you keep this up, I’ll cure your boredom by kicking your ass into space!”
40“Speaking of space,” Anya interrupted, “anybody know how soon the new space cruiser will be completed?”
40“June or July,” Tetsuo told her as he brought her a fresh cup of tea from within the ship.
40“Pardon me, Captain Kozuki,” a female yeoman said as she walked out onto the promenade.
40“What is it, Yeoman?” Kallen inquired with genuine curiosity.
40The woman was carrying a stack of envelopes under her arm. She removed them and handed them to Kallen. “This mail arrived today, and it was simply addressed to the Yamato no Orochi.”
40Kallen took the stack of envelopes out of her hand. "Looks like there's one of these for each of us."
40"Have they been checked for explosives?" Tamaki asked with a skeptical eye on the white letter that Kallen handed him.
40"Yes," the yeoman answered him, "they're clean. Now if you will excuse me, I have other duties to attend to."
40"I'm sorry," Kallen smiled at her, "you're free to go, Yeoman."
40The woman left.
40Kallen used her pocket knife to cut open the top of the envelope. "What the heck is this?" she exclaimed with a shocked look as she read over the invitation.
40"Wow!" Mika blurted out. "Sounds like we're invited to a royal party!"
40"Do you think that Zero could have sent these?" Akira asked, a bit in shock over the contents of the invite.
40"Well, I'm going to find out!" Tamaki said with a smile. "How about you, Kallen?"
40She looked down at the letter intently and sneered, "I'm supposed to go to the Nu's for Christmas, but if Zero is throwing this thing...then I have to go!"


* * *

40"A Christmas party?" Lloyd scoffed as he walked along the catwalk next to the partially completed hull of the first man-made space cruiser. "Really, Cecile, we don't have time for this kind of thing...besides, isn’t that religion dead? We've barely got the keel of this new ship laid down; we can't just drop everything and gallivant off to a party."
40"We’ve been formally invited to this party.” She held up their invitations. “And it's only for a few days, Lloyd," she told him softly. "It'll be fun."
40"Maybe you could go for me?" he said with a grin.
40Cecile scowled at him, "LLOYD!"
40Professor Asplund winced. "Oh, I guess I can take a few days off...what was the occasion again?"
40Cecile rolled her eyes. “For a genius, you’re sure absentminded when you want to be. The occasion is called Christmas, and it is a celebration that commemorates the birth of the great prophet and healer Jesus of Nazareth who was also known as the Christ.”
40“Oh.” He gave her a weak smile. “Well, that sounds harmless enough. When do you want to leave?”
40Cecile gave him a devilish smile. “As soon as Rakshata is ready to go.”
40“Uh…WHAT?” Lloyd recoiled in horror.


* * *

40“A gala?” Cornelia held the invitation in her hand as she stood in front of one of the giant, lead glass windows of New-Brunswick Castle’s library.
40“I got one too.” Nunnally held up her invitation ticket from where she sat next to Euphie and Suzaku in the small reading area that consisted of a coffee table, lamps, and four comfy chairs.
40“Well, I didn’t get one!” Euphie protested.
40“But they sent one to me, and I can invite one person,” Suzaku laughed. “Obviously I’d invite you.”
40“Which implies that whoever sent this knows about whom you are, Princess Euphemia,” Guilford said as he walked into the study area with a tray of hot tea.
40Cornelia smiled at him as he placed the tray on the coffee table and poured her a cup of tea. “It bothers me that this person wishes to remain anonymous.” She turned to Euphie. “The Greeks could be the ones behind this.”
40Nunnally smirked, “Or it could just be C.C. and Lelouch trying to give us all an end of the year surprise party.” She took a cup of tea from Guilford. “Let’s try to keep an open mind about this. Athena isn’t the kind of person to return so soon after being defeated. She’ll want to secure a base of operations and such before she makes another move…besides, luring us all away to a Christmas party to kill us seems petty, and I highly doubt Athena would lower herself to such tactics. She’s a proud warrior, not an assassin.”
40“You may have a point, Empress,” Suzaku smiled. “It does say there’s going to be a pizza party; that’s got C2 written all over it.”


* * *

40“A PIZZA PARTY!” C.C. held up the invitation in front of Lelouch as he sat at his computer within the hotel room they were staying in. Outside the window of their room, the lights of Mexico City began to illuminate the cityscape as dusk settled over the metropolis.
40“I’m not going,” he said flatly.
40“Why not?” C.C. asked him. “It’s probably Nunnally’s idea, or maybe that old girlfriend of yours.”
40“You mean Milly,” he said with an irritated look at her as he tried to finish his tenth draft of a world constitution. He, as Zero, would be expected to deliver it to the world during the convention that was only a few months away.
40“Yes, Milly.” C.C. leaned over him. “Are you listening to me?” She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. C.C. gave him a puppy-eyed look. “Lulu, I want to go, and I want you to come with me.”
40He sighed, “If I agree to go, will you let me finish this?”
40“Only if you promise to go and seal your commitment to me.” She kissed passionately on the lips. “Promise?”
40Lelouch scowled for a moment then smiled at her. “Yah, I promise.”
40“Good.” She unbuttoned her blouse from the top down. “I’ll be in the bedroom, so don’t keep me waiting for too long.” She kissed him again and walked away, leaving her blouse and skirt on the floor behind her as she did so.
40Lelouch tried to turn back to the draft, but the seductive look C.C. had given him invaded his thoughts. He sat at the computer for a few minutes unable to think straight. “Oh…snap! There’s no way I can finish this damn thing tonight.” Lelouch got up from the desk and walked into the bedroom.


* * *

40“This place is huge, Kaguya,” Lihua said as she, Zhou, and Kaguya Sumeragi got out of the limousine that had brought them from the airport to the enormous manor.
40The morning sun reflected off the freshly plowed snow that was nearly two foot deep. The air was crisp as the sunlight warmed the east side of the large building. The mansion sat atop a rocky outcropping along the New England coastline. The ocean lapped at the craggy rocks some fifty feet below the estate.
40Kaguya snickered, “Well, the invitation said that there were seventy-two rooms in Red Manor, Lihua. It was obviously a big place from its description.”
40“Do you think anyone else was invited?” Zhou asked as she got the four large suitcases out of the trunk of the limo.
40“The letter was addressed to those of us who took part in the rout of the Olympians,” Kaguya said. “I think that would include most of the people we know.”
40“I wish Xingke could have come,” Lihua pouted.
40“He has to deal with the rebellion in Shanghai;, he couldn’t come,” Zhou said to her sympathetically. “That’s why he sent me in his stead, so as not to offend our mysterious host.”
40“What about General Tohdoh?” the Tianzi asked.
40“He flat out refused.” Kaguya rolled her eyes. “The man has no sense of fun. Poor Chiba bugged him about it for over a week, but he wouldn’t budge. He’s overseeing the formation of our space forces, so he’s got no time for trivial matters.” Kaguya knocked on the large, wooden double doors. “I promised Chiba I’d apologize to our host for both of them when we meet him or her.”
40“Aren’t we supposed to use our keys to let ourselves in?” Zhou asked.
40“If no one answers, then I will, but I’m not going to just barge into someone else’s—“ Kaguya was cut off by the door opening.
40A tall, inhumanly gorgeous woman with ice-blue eyes and thigh-length silvery-white hair answered the door. “I’m pleased that all of you were able to come.”
40Zhou put down the bags and tensed up. “Who are you?” the warrior woman asked.
40“You may call me Delphi.” The woman gave them a thin smile as she opened up the second door for them. “I’m here to receive you and welcome you all. Your host will be arriving later this evening, so please come in and make yourselves at home.” She moved to allow them to enter.


* * *

40“Looks like a lot of other people have already arrived here,” Rivalz said as he and Milly got out of the limousine that carried them from the airport to Red Manor.
40Milly’s hair looked gold in the afternoon light of the sun.
40“I wonder who all is here,” she said with a giddy grin. “I hope Zero is one of the guests.”
40“Why?” he asked as he got their bags out of the trunk and carried them over his shoulder. Rivalz raised an eyebrow and smiled, “You got a crush on him or something?”
40“I used to," she giggled.
40"Used to?" Rivalz was confused at first then his draw dropped open. "You don't mean..." He let the thought trail off.
40"Trust me, honey, if he's here and you two get to meet, you’ll feel the same way that I do.” She gave Rivalz a wink as they made their way up to the door.


* * *

40"Mr. and Mrs. Ashford have arrived," Delphi announced as she opened the ornate double doors that led to the gathering of guests in the enormous living room of the manor.
40Milly and Rivalz walked in to find a whole host of people they were acquainted with.
40"Milly! Rivalz! It's great to see both of you!" Nunnally said as she came over and hugged her friends.
40"It's great to see you also, Nana," said Rivalz with an elated smile. "Oops, I mean, Empress," he bowed.
40"Don't be sorry." Nunnally kissed him on the cheek. "We're friends, Rivalz...always."
40He blushed. "Thanks, Nunnally."
40"So who's throwing this bash?" Milly inquired.
40"We don't know," Villetta Nu said as she and Ohgi came up to greet them.
40"Hey, you two." Milly hugged them both. "Where are your two little darlings?" she asked, excited.
40Ohgi sighed. "We decided not to take them with us on such a long trip. Plus, Nagisa wanted to punish Tohdoh for not coming to this get-together, so she volunteered them as babysitters."
40Suzaku let out a laugh. "Oh, my! Can you image Kyoshiro changing diapers?"
40Laughter filled the room.
40"So, who's all here?" Milly asked, eager to get the inside scoop on the guest list.
40Nunnally drew a deep breath before running down the list. "Cornelia and Guilford; Kaguya, Lihua, and Zhou Xianglin; Cecile Croomy, Lloyd Asplund, and Rakshata Chawla; Akira Nobunaga, Tamaki Shinichiro, Anya Alstreim, Gregor Fontaine, Tetsuo Yuma, Mika Ontario, and Lena Shomeron; Jeremiah Gottwald and Sayoko Shinozaki; me, Suzaku, and Euph...uh...my sister." Nunnally’s face became flushed.
40Milly caught the slip immediately. "Your sister? You already mentioned Cornelia."
40"My mistake," Nunnally tried to laugh it off, "the list is so long."
40"You started to say Euph, Nunnally," Milly said with a smile. "Did you mean Euphemia?"
40"EUPHEMIA! That's preposterous!" Lloyd yelled.
40"Did you guys need me for something?" Euphie popped her head in from an adjacent room.
40The living room went silent as those who were unaware of Euphie being alive stood in shock of her presence.
40Realizing her error, Euphemia gave the group a halfhearted wave. "Hi," she said in a mousey tone.
40Lloyd dropped his glass of wine. "I feel a little woozy." Professor Asplund put his hand to his head and started to fall over.
40Cecile caught him. "Oh, some man you are. Lloyd, snap out of it."
40Rakshata tittered, "Oh, Lloyd, you're such a drama queen. I'm sure there is a logical explanation." She looked directly at Euphemia. "Isn't there?"
40"There had better be!" Tamaki grumbled. "Considering the fact that she's Princess Massa—OUCH!" Tamaki yelled as Ohgi stomped on his foot. "What the hell did ya do that for, Ohgi?"
40Ohgi glared at him. "To keep your mouth from ruining the evening."
40"I think we'd all like an explanation, Princess Euphemia," Zhou Xianglin said as she stood up from one of the comfy chairs in the room.
40"It's okay, Zhou; Kaguya and I already knew," the Tianzi reassured her.
40"You did? And both of you were okay with it?" Villetta asked in shock.
40"Of course we were." Kaguya waved her hand reassuringly. "It was all a misunderstanding."
40"Why do I get the feeling Geass has something to do with this?" Ohgi grumbled.
40"Well, of course it does...didn't everything relate to Geass back then? It's a really long story," Kaguya said as she poured herself a glass of sake.
40"Then you can tell your party all about it, Lady Kaguya Sumeragi, over dinner," Delphi said as she entered the living room. "Your meal is ready."
40"And our host?" Cornelia asked gruffly.
40"Your host has run into a delay and will not be here until tomorrow morning," Delphi answered her with a thin smile. "Also, Captain Kozuki and the other guests have not arrived yet either and are not likely to get here until tomorrow due to a sudden snow storm which is delaying all flights into New England. Thus, there is no need to wait for them any longer. Now if you all will follow me."
40Delphi led the party through the long, ornately decorated halls of the handsome mansion to the large, marble-lined dining room where a feast of cranberry-stuffed chicken awaited them.


* * *

40"We should have taken a plane to get here, it's friggin’ freezing!" Lelouch complained as he carried C.C.'s bags up the long drive towards the manor. "Not to mention I can barely see anything in this snow."
40"Stop your whining, you big baby," she snickered. "I thought you were the Knight of Justice, the great Zero! You're not going to tell me that a little walk in the snow is going to defeat you now, are you?"
40"Well, if you hadn't packed a whole wardrobe for me to carry, we would probably be there by now!" Lelouch shot back.
40"But I only took what I needed," C.C. chortled. "Besides, it's only two luggage cases. You make it sound like it's so difficult."
40"Yeah, well, it is," Lelouch retorted. "I've only got my one small bag with a change of clothing and my essentials."
40C.C. rolled her eyes. "Fine, you whiner, I'll come help you." She removed his small bag from around his neck and slung it over her shoulder. "There, is that better now?"
40"Much," he said sarcastically.
40"Look, there's the mansion!" C.C. exclaimed. In the distance, a small porch light illuminated the front of the large manor.
40Lelouch looked wearily up the long, winding drive. "It has to be at least eleven pm by now; it'll be midnight or later by the time we get up there."
40"Not if we hurry!" C.C. said excitedly.
40Lelouch let out a long sigh. "Let's get going."


* * *

40"So Euphemia was Geassed by Lelouch because your brother couldn't control his power?" Villetta was mortified. "That's horrible."
40"It was an accident," Euphie defended Lelouch's intentions, "even if it was a stupid one."
40"It cost a lot of people their lives," Tamaki scowled at the dinner table while he passed the sweet potatoes to Akira.
40"How do you think I feel about it?" Euphie said softly. "I have to live with it, and it will stay with me forever."
40"Honestly, can we please change the subject?" Kaguya inquired in an unusually harsh tone for the normally jovial lady-chairman. "I'd like to forget all the mistakes we all made during that war. We're not at war anymore, and this party was supposed to be to commemorate the Spirit of Giving. I can think of no better gift to give than that of forgiveness. If I can forgive Euphemia for what happened, then all of you can, and I don't need or want to hear any more about it from anyone. What's done is done."
40"Well, I wonder if our host is Zero?" Gregor inquired to everyone at the table in an effort to change the subject and shift the tension to where he felt it should be. "He's not here, right?"
40"I don't believe he's here yet," Nunnally said through a wine-induced smile as she sipped from her goblet.
40"Nunnally, is that your last glass of wine?" Cornelia asked her sister politely.
40"It probably should be," Nunnally said with rosy cheeks.
40The speculation of who their generous host was lasted until they said their good nights and retired for the evening to their bed chambers.


* * *

40"We finally made it." Lelouch collapsed on the side of the door huffing out billows of hot breath in the frigid air.
40"Looks like all the lights are off," C.C. said sadly. "Guess everyone must be in bed."
40"Just get the door open so we don't freeze to death out here," he complained.
40"What? Don't worry, if you die out here, you'll thaw tomorrow and be alive for the party by evening."
40"Not funny, C2...no...no...not funny," his teeth chattered.
40One of the double doors opened up and a silver-haired woman greeted them. "Welcome, we weren't expecting you until tomorrow, but I heard a thud on the front door as I was doing my rounds before bed. Good thing I came to the door. You two look like you're about to catch your death of cold out here. Please, come in immediately. I'll make a fire for you and warm you up some dinner."
40"Thank you, kind woman," Lelouch said as he entered the warm home.
40"You may call me Delphi," the blue-eyed beauty told him as she took their bags. "The main level study is through that door." She pointed to a large oak door at the far end of the grand hall. "I'll bring you your food and some warm tea after I get your bags to your room." With that she easily carried their bags up the grand staircase that led to the upper levels of Red Manor.
40C.C. and Lelouch made their way into the large study. It was furnished with Victorian-style furniture throughout its depth which clearly ran the whole length of the north side of the mansion. Bookshelves lined the walls and were arranged in rows in the center of the chamber like a library. A fireplace was at the center of the room with a hearth that was as wide as a KMF; above it was a large, stone mantle. A small inferno blazed behind its brass mesh screen warming the room comfortably.
40“Wow, this is some place,” C.C. said with a smile as the two of them sat down on the large couch in front of the blaze.
40“Sure is,” Lelouch said as he looked up at the mid-sized gun above the mantle and read the placard. “Action Arms Thomson Model 1927, huh?”
40“What is it?” C.C. asked him.
40“I’ve never heard of that gun company before…” He was interrupted by Delphi entering the room with their food and hot tea on a serving cart she rolled in front of her.
40“Here is your dinner, Madame and Monsieur, and a map of the manor,” she smiled at them. “I’m retiring for the evening, so if you need anything, just follow the map to your room. Good night.”
40“Good night, Delphi,” Lelouch said as the warmth of the fire drove away the chill from his body. He scowled at C.C., “Did the cold drive away your manners?”
40“Oh, GOOD NIGHT, DELPHI!” C.C. yelled at the top of her lungs after the woman had left the room.
40“Shut up!” a voice boomed from above them.
40C.C. snickered, “That sounds like Tamaki.”
40Lelouch nearly choked on the piece of chicken breast and cranberry stuffing he was nibbling on. “Yes, it does. I guess that means others were invited as well.”
40“It must be nearly one in the morning by now…” C.C. barely touched her food. “Merry Christmas, Lelouch,” she cooed as she snuggled up next to him.
40“Uh…Merry Christmas?” he asked more than stated.
40C.C. giggled, “It’s what you say today. It’s Christmas, when the baby Jesus was born to bring light to the world by his teachings and thus cleanse the world of its sins and bring about peace.”
40“I think he failed,” Lelouch snickered.
40“No, dear, we’re the ones who failed.” C.C. kissed him on the cheek.
40“So, tell me about him,” Lelouch said putting down his fork as he lay back on the couch.
40C.C. lay down next to him and rested her head on his chest. “There are multiple accounts of his life by his twelve apostles, but I like Mathew the best, so I’ll tell the story from his perspective…starting with chapter two…”
40“Why chapter two?” Lelouch interrupted her.
40“Because chapter one is the genealogy of Jesus, and you don’t want to hear that, do you?” C.C. tittered.
40“No, I guess not,” he humored her.
40“Now when Jesus was born in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’”
40Lelouch’s eyes grew heavy as C.C. recanted the tale. In a few moments, he was asleep.


* * *

40“Is anybody here?” Kallen knocked on the door to Red Manor in the light of dawn. Her duffle bag was slung over her shoulder as she waited for someone to answer in the cold of the New England morning.
40“Guess not, they’re all probably still asleep,” Kallen mused as she took the key to the front door from her pocket and unlocked it.
40Kallen looked around the vestibule and peeked through the finely cut glass of the large, oaken doors in front of her before opening one of them and walking into the large main hall of the house. A grand staircase was before her and numerous doors lined the wall of the vaulted room.
40“Nice house,” Kallen said to herself. She saw a light under a door on the left of the room. “Maybe somebody is in here.” She walked into the room.
40“Must be the library,” she said aloud as she walked over to where a pair of couches flanked a fireplace. The last remaining logs within the hearth still burned, giving off their light and warmth to the interior of the room.
40Kallen walked over to the heat and warmed her hands. She turned to sit down on one of the couches and noticed someone sleeping under a blanket on the couch opposite the one she sat down upon. Better not disturb him, she thought to herself as the person began to stir.
40The blanket rolled back to expose C.C., still dressed in her clothes from the night before. “Oh, hi, Kallen,” C.C. said sleepily as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
40Kallen stood and stared in utter disbelief as C.C. got up off the couch like a drone. “I need to pee,” she mumbled, but Kallen didn’t notice. Her furious gaze was fixated on the person lying underneath C.C.
40C.C. stopped dead in her tracks as she realized she wasn’t dreaming. “KALLEN?!”
40Lelouch’s eyes shot open. “What?” he said as he sat up to see her standing by the fireplace glaring at him with eyes filled with rage.
40“You son of a bitch,” said Kallen with menace. “You lied to me…” Kallen glanced around the room for a weapon. The Thompson caught her attention immediately, and she grabbed the submachine gun from its resting place along with the drum magazine below it.
40“Kallen, what the hell are you doing?” C.C. asked frantically.
40“Lelouch is supposed to be dead…right, Lelouch?” Kallen loaded and cocked the gun.
40“Kallen, let’s talk about this,” Lelouch pleaded with her.
40“You’ve done enough talking!” Kallen unloaded a burst from the gun as Lelouch jumped over the couch, which she riddled with bullets.
40The sound of gunfire reverberated through the house.
40“What the hell was that?” Zhou shot up out of bed, her bare breasts bouncing as she did so.
40“Sounds like gunfire,” Tamaki said from where he lay naked beside her.
40“I know what it sounds like, you idiot!” Zhou rolled him out of bed. “We need to find out what’s going on.”
40“It’s probably nothing…” Tamaki protested when he heard a female voice yell “LELOUCH!” Tamaki’s eyes shot wide open. “That’s Kallen!”
40“Let’s get down there,” Zhou said as she put her shirt on. “Get dressed, Tamaki.”
40“What was that?” Euphemia sat up in bed.
40Suzaku was already dressed and fighting to get his boots on. “Sounds like Kallen found out Lelouch is alive! But if we don’t get down there, he won’t be for long.”
40Kallen fired a burst at Lelouch as he and C.C. fled through the main hall towards the doors on the right side of the chamber. The rounds shattered the glass of the vestibule doors and tore up the furniture.
40“Come back here, LELOUCH! I want you to know what it feels like to have your heart torn out, to know what it’s like to have the one person you truly love betray you.”
40“This is insane, Kallen!” Lelouch retorted as he and C.C. barely made it through one of the exits before Kallen filled the oak door with bullets.
40Kallen ran across to where C.C. and Lelouch had fled from her. “You think I’m insane? How about lying to the whole world just to save your sister? Or starting a revolution and lying to a whole country just because your mommy and daddy didn’t love you?”
40Kallen chased Lelouch and C.C. out onto a grand balcony which overlooked the rocky shoreline of Cape Ann.
40Lelouch stopped at the railing near the edge with a sheer drop and the ocean below him. He looked over the rail and then turned to face Kozuki. “Kallen, let C2 go…your anger is at me, not her.”
40Tears filled Kallen’s eyes. “Is that what this is all about? You chose that green-haired goblin over me?” She pointed the Thompson at him. “Why? Why didn’t you just tell me that day I shared my feelings for you that you loved her? Why did you torture me?
40Lelouch put up his hands defensively. “Because I didn’t love C2 back then…I didn’t love anyone, Kallen…not you, not C2, no one.”
40Delphi ran into the main hall armed with a military assault rifle just as the front door to Red Manor opened up, and a person dressed in a jet-black trench coat, large-rimmed black hat, and mirrored sunglasses walked in. His black, leather cowboy boots crunched on the broken glass of the shattered crystal windows. Delphi stopped in her tracks. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize she’d react like this.”
40He put up his hand in a gesture she knew meant that he’d deal with it.
40“I told you to live your own life,” Lelouch said with a scowl. “I really did die, Kallen. I fully intended to sacrifice myself for the sake of the world. I wasn’t hiding with C2. I didn’t love her or you, or anyone. That’s why I ended my life, to bring happiness to this world.”
40Kallen’s face contorted in anger. “Then how is it you’re here now?”
40“It was Euryale, one of the Olympians, who brought me back to life. I didn’t betray you, honest. The feelings I have now for C2 didn’t manifest themselves until after I gained Euryale’s Code.”
40“Oh, really? Then if that’s the case, I suppose you can explain what the hell is going on here?” Kallen shot back.
40“That sounds like a good idea,” a male voice bellowed from behind Kallen. “You can start by explaining why my house is all shot to hell.”
40Kallen saw the shock on Lelouch’s face and turned to see the man.
40Her heart leapt into her throat as she met Enoch’s glare. “How?”
40You’re the one holding my tommy gun, you tell me,” he said with a sarcastic grin.
40“But you…the satellite exploded...in orbit…there’s no way,” said Kallen in a meek tone.
40“Hah!” Enoch raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t actually think I’d die from a little boom-boom and a fall, did you? I’ve been there, done that plenty of times in the past.”
40“How did you get back to Earth?” Akira asked as he and the other guests made their way out onto the grand balcony. Lelouch’s announced confession had made it into all their ears.
40“I took the express elevator down,” Enoch snickered.
40“That still doesn’t change the fact that you lied to me about Lelouch,” Kallen barked. She was shaking with a mix of emotions.
40“Lied to you?” Enoch put his hands on his hips. “Kallen, I never lied to you about Lelouch. I told you that I wasn’t Zero when we first met and that I though it would be too painful for you to learn who Zero really was, and by the look of my house, I’d say I was right.”
40Kallen’s face was flushed with embarrassment and hurt as he walked up to her. “How can I live like this? It’s not fair!” Kozuki’s lips trembled as the tears ran down her cheeks and she dropped the gun. “I’ve lost everyone I’ve ever loved. I’ve lost…too much, Enoch.”
40“Hey, what’s with all the gunfire and yelling out here?” a blond-haired man asked as he walked through the door Enoch had come through.
40“Oh, my God!” Lena blurted out. “It’s Commander Weinberg!”
40“But he died,” Anya said in disbelief.
40Enoch chortled as he made a dismissive gesture with his hand, “Death is a primitive concept.”
40Kallen’s eyes were wide with shock while her face lost all its color. Her mouth moved but nothing came out.
40Enoch leaned down to Kallen’s ear. “Merry Christmas, Kallen.”
40She wrapped her arms around Enoch and kissed him on the lips. “Thank you.”
40Enoch smiled at her warmly, “Hey, what’s Christmas without a few miracles, right?”
40Kallen released him and ran to Commander Weinberg. “GINO!” she yelled as she threw her arms around him and squeezed him to reassure herself that he was real.
40“Hey, Kallen, be careful; he only just got out of the Bacta Tank a few days ago!” Enoch yelled at her with a chuckle. “He’s not ready for any hanky-panky yet.”
40Gino hugged her tightly. “I missed you, Kallen.”
40She looked deep into his blue eyes. “And I you…”
40They kissed gently.
40“Awww,” Mika sighed, “that’s so sweet.”
40Enoch turned to Lelouch and C.C. “Well, gotta admit, Big-Z, you sure know how to make a party lively. At least you guys woke everybody up for breakfast, which is good because I’m starving. Let’s eat.”


* * *

40The events of the day passed quickly after breakfast. The itinerary of the day had been carefully planned by their gracious host and consisted of a horse-drawn carriage ride through the 125-acre estate to a nearby ice-covered pond called Gray Gull Hole. Enoch’s guests were provided with skates for the recently buffed ice rink, and the full Cape Ann Symphony Orchestra awaited them under a heated amphitheater by the side of the frozen pond. The mid-morning fun zipped by until the symphony retired at 10:00 a.m., and lunch was served to all under the warmth of the amphitheater.
40After lunch, Enoch and company proceeded to Plum Cove via horse-drawn carriage until they came to a tall ship, a square-rigger in design, whose longboat awaited them at the shore. The ship sailed around the scenic coastline of the cape during the warmest part of Christmas day and out a few miles to watch the whales. The Christmas goose was served on board ship at 2:00 p.m. and was followed by Enoch telling stories of his high seas adventures, one of which included C.C. and him sharing a rather precarious voyage.
40The ship dropped off the partygoers at 4:00 p.m. at Folly Cove beach via longboat as the sun began to set. From the beach the group rode via horse-drawn carriage once more back up to Red Manor for the pizza party.
40“Oooooooh!” C.C. bounced up and down in her seat as they waited in the living room for the pizza to arrive.
40“Will you calm down,” Lelouch snickered as he removed his white wig and sunglasses. His disguise of the day was very effective in fooling all those they had met during their trek.
40Tamaki looked over at him. “I still can’t believe it’s you, man.” He had been in shock by the revelation, and Ohgi had to reprimand him covertly on numerous occasions to protect Lelouch and Euphemia’s identities.
40“How did you manage it?” Zhou asked Lelouch. “It seems all so surreal to me.”
40Lelouch grinned, “It wasn’t what I had planned, believe me.”
40“Still, I think it’s for the better,” Ohgi said to Lelouch with a raised brow. “You can help us rebuild this time.”
40Lelouch nodded, “I agree. Last time I took the easy way out.”
40“Can we leave the past behind us please?” Euphie said as she removed her wig. “This day has been wonderful, so please don’t spoil it by bringing up that awful point in our shared past.” She had worn a brown-haired wig and similar getup to that of her brother, not that anyone could have gotten past Suzaku or Cornelia to discover her identity in the first place.
40“Well, at least they’ve seen fit to do so,” Kaguya tittered as Kallen and Gino came into the room arm-in-arm.
40“No kidding, they’ve been glued to each other all day,” Anya added with a wink at Tetsuo. He got her hint and removed her coat for her before the two of them grabbed a pair of comfy chairs next to a coffee table.
40Kallen and Gino removed their coats then sat down together on one of the love seats in the room. They’d been snuggling and whispering to each other on and off since breakfast.
40Cornelia and Guilford were holding hands as they sat down on another of the love seats in the room. “Who would ever have thought we would all be sitting here together like this even a few months ago.”
40“How true,” Nunnally agreed in a distant voice. She hadn’t said much, but her smile was with her all day, and it still didn’t waver.
40“I wish we could take pictures of this moment,” Milly lamented. Rivalz agreed as he hung her coat.
40“So, old buddy,” Rivalz addressed Lelouch, “you up for a game of chess while we wait?” He gestured towards the chess table under one of the windows.
40Lelouch got up and walked over to Rivalz. “I’m happy to see you again, my friend.”
40They shook hands briefly then embraced.
40“I missed you too, man,” said Rivalz through teary eyes.
40“Okay, that’s enough of that!” Enoch said as he came into the room pulling a floor truck filled with wrapped gifts. “I don’t need to see you two getting all mushy right before I hand out the gifts.”
40“Where’s the pizza?” C.C. asked innocently.
40“It’s on its way,” Enoch snickered. Behind him, Delphi entered the room with a food cart that had a dozen boxes of pizza (of various kinds and varieties) with plates and chilled bottled beer.
40C.C. zoomed over to the stack of pizza boxes. “Tee-hee!” She clapped her hands and started looking through the boxes.
40“C2, those aren’t all for you,” Enoch chuckled. “Please save some for everybody else.”
40C.C. gave him a hurt look. “But they’re all different and they all look soooooooo good.”
40Enoch came up to her and made her a plate of pizza with a slice from each box. “Happy?”
40C.C. nodded, “Mmmm-Hmmmmm.” She smiled as she chewed down her first piece.
40“Beer?” Enoch asked her, but she shook her head no.
40“I’ll have one!” Tamaki yelled.
40“Alright then,” Enoch tittered, “who wants what?” He proceeded to dish out the pizza and beer to everyone as the conversations ranged from what the future held for them to the erection of the new government to the latest fashions.
40With the conclusion of the pizza feast, Enoch handed out the gifts to each member of the group.
40They opened their wrapped packages, which contained books of a type and kind unseen anywhere. All were different and certainly appropriate to the recipient.
40Lelouch thumbed through the heavy, leather-bound book he held in his hand. “The Idea of Freedom by Mortimer J. Adler?” he queried Enoch.
40“A great book,” Enoch said, “and one that should assist you in the coming months, I’m sure.”
40“Mine’s Human Action by Ludwig Von Mises,” Kaguya smiled at the work.
40Enoch nodded, “Another excellent work. It contains information on the best form of economy for the current situation the world is in.”
40“This book is extremely interesting,” Lloyd said aloud to no one in particular as he got lost in thought while flipping through the pages of Quantum Mechanics by Albert Messiah.
40Rakshata was equally intrigued with the tome she skimmed over. “The Nature of Space and Time by Steven Hawking and Roger Penrose, truly interesting material, Enoch. How ever did you come by these?”
40“I have my methods.” He winked at her then looked at the whole group. “I chose books that I thought would best suit each of you and books you could not acquire anywhere else. It has always been my contention that knowledge is the greatest material gift a person can give to another. I hope that the knowledge I give to all of you will help you in your endeavors to make this world a better place and prepare you for the trials that lay ahead.”
40“Rest assured that it shall, Enoch,” Cornelia smiled at him as she held the two-volume copy of The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793-1812 by Alfred Thayer Mahan.
40Enoch poured himself a tall glass of rum and drank it down as he watched his friends and comrades enjoy themselves.
40“This is our gift to you, isn’t it?” Nunnally asked him as she carried her three volumes set of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England by Sir William Blackstone and sat beside him.
40“How do you mean?” he asked Nunnally as Lelouch defeated Rivalz in their second game of chess as evidenced by Rivalz cursing with a laugh.
40“I think that to you, Enoch, there is something far more valuable than knowledge…isn’t there? That’s why you agreed to fulfill my wish and bring everyone I care about together, but you must have planned this far in advance of that, didn’t you?’ Nunnally put him on the spot.
40“I admit I did plan this a long time ago after a gifted Geass user told me how it would unfold.” Enoch smiled at her and then at all of them. “So, yes, there is one thing that is more precious to me than just knowledge or my mission.”
40Nunnally cocked her head and smiled at him. “I thought so.”
40“Well, what is it?” Cecile asked on the edge of her comfy chair.
40Enoch smiled, “Friends.”
40There was a long silence in the room as his simple answer sunk in.
40“Merry Christmas, my friends,” Enoch held up his glass in a toast.
40His party did the same.
40“Wow,” Lena said, “I suppose we all feel the same way?”
40The group nodded in agreement, though Tamaki needed a jab from Zhou.
40Lihua giggled at the sight of Zhou prodding Tamaki and smiled at Enoch. “So how far back did you plan for this moment?”
40Enoch gave her a wide grin. “Oh…about when I trapped Tartarus under the ice.”
40“WHAT!” the group shouted in unison.
40“But that’s a tale for another time,” the amber-eyed man said with a chuckle as he drank down the last draught of his rum.



__________________________________________________ _______________________



Thus ends Dirge of Daedalus.

Thanks for reading.