Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass or any of its canon characters.

Chapter Updated 2021

Kallen's trip back to the Ashford complex was about as dull as she expected after the adrenaline high of combat. Taking a rather unpopulated route across Tokyo's underground tunnel system, with a military escort in tow, meant that anyone waiting in ambush for an easy mark knew better than to pick that fight. None tried, to her disappointment.

It still felt profoundly strange to her, having four Britannian knightmare frames in such close proximity, and not being surrounded by the chaos of battle. After all these years of fighting, hiding, and trying to stay alive, here she was on the other side, sort of. She had spent the time moving back to base thinking about a variety of things, but for a first, Britannian politics hit center stage. By the time they got back to the very spot she had first laid eyes on her new magnificent machine, she had far more questions than she expected.

Throughout the subsequent hour long debriefing, in which she heaped praise upon Rakshata Chawla and her glorious engineering skills, the questions kept playing over in the back of her mind. Who was Luna vi Britannia, the mysterious princess that her brother had convinced her to sign on with. It was a novel course of thought for the veteran resistance fighter. She wasn't having doubts about accepting the offer, but she had a sense that something about the whole deal seemed...off.

Why would a Britannian princess care about her and her friends? There had to have been plenty of other good pilots she could have put in the Guren. Britannia certainly wasn't lacking for them, and at least one or two should have fit the description. Then, Kallen remembered something Naoto had told her about the escape from Shinjuku. The princess had taken an interest in her because Margrave Jeremiah Gottwald had mentioned her in his report, or something like that. She would have to ask Naoto about it later.

Just when she thought she was finally free from the poking and prodding, her brother appeared from some random shadow and told her that she was coming with him to dinner at some restaurant. Told, not asked, and he practically led her by the wrist all the way to a waiting car down in the vehicle bay. It was only as she realized that the car had its own driver that something else was happening.

"Alright, where are we going now? It's been a pretty long day." She asked him, noticing that the back seats were completely partitioned off.

"Debriefing of a different sort. You'll actually like it, trust me." He winked.

Thirty minutes later, the pair walked into a decent looking Japanese restaurant. Kallen didn't know exactly what part of Tokyo she was in, although it was outside of the Britannian city. She took a look around and came to the immediate conclusion that calling the place a ghetto would be too harsh. It certainly wasn't anywhere near as good as being in the Britannian section, but neither was it a crumbling ruin. The whole street seemed to give her a strong dose of not quite nostalgia, but something close. It would have been more mesmerizing, had her brother not come to pull her toward the front door.

"Alright, alright." She muttered as they moved along.

If the street outside made her feel a bit weird, stepping inside of the building hit her right in the chest. Naoto noticed the look on her face and grinned.

"Pow! Right in the kokoro." Her brother quipped with a grin.

"I haven't been in a place like this for…" Kallen sputtered. It looked like the clock had really gone back from her view beside the door. This wasn't a mock up, or a recreation of the past. It was the real thing, a true relic of old Japan, a piece of the home she had lost so long ago.

"I know." He said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Seventy four years, and nothing's managed to close them down for good." he started dragging her along again, this time toward a table.

Kallen looked around the room in awe. It was not particularly crowded, but there were a few groups of people around, mostly Japanese, but not all. She felt almost dazed as she was led along, as if she was literally walking backward in time. The combination of fatigue, old memories, and a sudden desire to blink and wake up as a happy fifteen year old student in her old life was getting to her. It wasn't until a few moments later when she ended up in a chair that the spell was finally broken.

It was only as a cold glass bottle slid across the wood surface toward her that she realized they were not alone. Kallen looked up, and found that there was another woman at the table. Slightly shorter than shoulder length black hair, violet eyes, and without a doubt one hundred percent Britannian. Three more seconds went by, and she felt like her heart was trying to stop. She looked back at her brother with wide eyes, but he was smiling at her.

"I told you it was a debriefing of a sort, and that you would like it." He told her.

"Thank you, Naoto. Great timing as usual." The Britannian woman spoke with a voice that went straight down Kallen's spine. There was no doubt as to who was sitting less than two meters in front of her.

Somehow, Kallen's consciousness was drawn away from her and back to the bottle. Relatively ancient muscle memory returned as she picked up the little plunger, pushed the marble down into the familiar crimped neck, and took a sip of liquid nostalgia.

"That's…" She wondered aloud in amazement.

"The real thing." Luna vi Britannia finished for her. "We have a small plant making it up in Hokkaido, mostly for military use."

"Military use?" Kallen asked, wondering how exactly ramune, as heavenly as the liquid was, had any military significance. Her first thought was that maybe you could bash a skull in with the bottle, but that was something for a street fight, not war.

"Of course. As I'm sure you can tell, it does wonders for morale. Even something as simple as that can make quite a difference." Luna told her, as she opened her own bottle with a distinctive glass ping as she overpowered the gas pressure holding the marble in place. "So, Kallen Kouzuki, did you enjoy your dockside preview?"

"You call that a preview?" She asked in surprise, thinking back to the ambush. Throwing baby gazelle to a starving tiger was her metaphor of choice for the action, but she didn't externalize it.

"It was. Did you really think I went through all the trouble of pulling you into my web only to have you kill a bunch of men that were as good as dead already? I didn't need you or your new Guren Nishiki for that. It wasn't a battle you just fought, it was a job interview." Luna told her.

"Guess I made the cut, huh?" Kallen downed the rest of her bottle, looking longingly at the empty glass form. As if waiting for that moment, a man appeared beside the table and provided her with another, still ice cold. He probably was, she realized. Kallen wouldn't put it past a Brit princess to have someone whose sole job was to monitor the level of her drink. That was just the sort of thing she expected from people like that.

"Jeremiah knows talent when he sees it. He was right to bring you to my attention, and you certainly didn't disappoint, Kallen. I'm going to enjoy working with you."

Kallen nearly did an actual double take, her distracted mind only now realizing that the princess had started their conversation speaking English and had at some point switched to Japanese so seamlessly that she hadn't even realized it.

"Is something wrong?" Luna asked, noticing her sudden surprise and half confusion.

"No, it's just...you're speaking Japanese." She vocalized the obvious.

"I grew up here, Kallen." Luna pointed out, taking another sip.

"But, you're a Britannian princess." Kallen blurted, as if what she was seeing and hearing just did not add up. Her counterpart smiled.

"I didn't choose this life." Luna told her, looking down at her half empty glass bottle in reminiscence. "If anything, I'm almost jealous of what you once had, Kallen." Kallen felt like her heart skipped a beat as she listened.

"A loving family, a happy life in a gentle, peaceful country, and not a real care in the world." Luna continued. "I miss those days; the summer I spent at the Kururugi Shrine, with Nunnally, Suzaku, and Kaguya. I miss the Japan we had back then, before the empire came here. I remember those moments as clearly as if I could simply blink and return to them. The hot August air, the sound of cicadas in the forest..."

Kallen sat speechless as Luna vi Britannia began to describe a ten year old girl's account of an idyllic Japanese summer. It brought back her own memories of that time. She may have been older, and had more such happy summers than the princess, but she knew immediately that she was being truly sincere. She felt tears begin to form at the detailed account of the world that had been stolen from them.

Something about the next five minutes pulled a lever inside Kallen. It flipped a switch, pressed a button. For the first time, she knew for a fact that a real princess, with the blood of their evil emperor in her veins, genuinely loved and remembered the same Japan she did. But whereas Kallen had fought to preserve the memory of it, almost in a selfish sense, here was somebody fighting to bring it back, at least as much as could still be raised from the ashes of history. She had actual common ground with an heir to the Britannian throne, and that realization shook her to the core. Of all the things she was expecting, it was not to feel sympathy for a princess over their shared loss. But she did; she really did.

Kallen had always believed that the Britannians were the enemy. She may not have hated them with the kind of fervor that defined the Blood of the Samurai, but she had killed quite a few over the years and had not lost a moment of sleep about it. She had been largely indifferent to their fates, only stopping to care about the cycle of killing when it was her own people on the wrong end of the guns. But the rest? It had never bothered her before.

Somehow, if it had ever occurred to her that her father was not the only 'good' Britannian, then the idea had simply not stuck with her. Even if she had as of yet unknown ulterior motives, the woman in front of her felt some measure of genuine care for the people of these islands.

She was pulled back from her forest of wandering thoughts by a hand waving in front of her face.

"Oh, sorry. I spaced out a bit." She fumbled. Luna laughed.

"You know, it's refreshing to find somebody that I've just met be so relaxed. No 'princess this' or 'highness that'."

"It's easy to forget." Kallen said, trying not to let the sudden worry that she had royally fucked up somehow show through. "How many royals would look right at home in a place like this."

It really was a stark contrast from the manors and palaces commonly associated with the stereotype of the Britannian upper crust. But here she was. If Kallen closed her eyes, she would have trouble telling that there wasn't a native born Japanese girl at the other end of the table.

"Two, myself included." Luna answered, a contemplative look on her face. She had been about to say three, but she chose not to say what she thought Nunnally would have felt about this old izakaya. "I think my sister Euphemia would like to come here. I know Suzaku would. She would just drag him along anyway."

"What's their story, anyway?" She asked, changing the subject before her eyes grew wet enough for gravity to make it show down her cheeks. Everybody had heard of them, and the rumors were flying on all sides. The pair may not always be the top point of speculation in the country, but seemingly everyone old enough to talk had an opinion on them, thanks to the Britannian media machine.

"Euphie and Suzaku?"

"They're supposed to be some kind of hotshot knightmare test pilots, if what I heard is true."

What she heard mostly consisted of over hyped media reports from their single combat engagement, and 'combat' was pushing it when they were more or less just shooting at infantry that had no real anti aircraft weapons from range. Of course, that's not how the media spun it. From what the broadcasters had said at the time, the pair might as well have led the bloody charge against dug in rebel guns to retake Breed's Hill. The reality wasn't quite so heroic.

"'Hotshot' isn't very accurate. Skilled, certainly, but not the way they make it sound. Suzaku in particular is a natural ace in a knightmare frame. He may as well have been born at the Lancelot's controls. Euphemia isn't on that level, but nobody expects her to be. She isn't really a trained soldier, after all." Luna explained.

"So why bring me in if you already have a trustworthy ace ready to go?" Kallen asked with genuine curiosity. Luna locked eyes with her. A strange feeling washed over her as she stared into those violet orbs. Windows to the soul, and all that, but in this moment it really felt true.

"I love Suzaku. I trust him with my life, and my sister's. But he's just not made for this kind of work. He may be a natural born knightmare ace, however that does not automatically make him a natural born killer. I'd put him up against almost anyone in a fight and expect him to win, but I would also bet that his opponents would survive. Suzaku fights well, and he can kill, but only in defense of those he cares about. If there's no one he loves behind him, he's not going to be particularly lethal. He doesn't like or enjoy violence, and forcing him to do so would be...damaging.

Your 'preview' as I called it, was nothing more than a live test to make sure you're the type I think you are. Clearly, you don't have the same restrictions. Those Knightpolice men you killed at the dock did not die as a matter of last resort. You ambushed them, then hunted down the survivors, slaughtered them, and you enjoyed doing it. You want to know why I chose you?" Luna finished, producing a black queen piece and placing it down in the center of the table.

"A queen piece?" Kallen asked.

"The queen is flexible, adaptable, and the single most lethal piece on the board. It can attack, defend, and shape the course of battle. A queen is an unbound force that can strike the enemy wherever and whenever it needs to. You, Kallen Kouzuki, can fill that role. Suzaku can't. It's just not who he is. He's a protector. You're a warrior."

Kallen knew what she was doing. Bringing her here after a fight, the flood of nostalgia, the appeal to her natural talents, it was all calculated; finely crafted to produce a certain effect. Even she could see that clearly now.

"You know, Naoto said something to me when he brought your offer to us. He told me that you're the last hope for Japan. I almost brushed it off as just talk, but now I know what he really meant. You're trying to build your own future, not turn back the clock. Are you going to give us a real place in it?"

She nodded, then, to Kallen's continuing amazement, did something she had not seen in years. Luna reached her right hand across the table, and stuck out her pinky.

"I promise." Kallen completed the gesture, and seemingly within seconds, two big plates of the best curry Kallen had ever seen appeared on the table between them. The delicious sound of those dishes landing upon the old wood table marked the final execution of any doubt still lingering in her heart.

As the outwardly nondescript black car rolled to a gentle stop, and the familiar feeling of an elevator took over, Kaguya Sumeragi could not help but draw a parallel to the similar, familiar system inside the Fuji mines. It was a tactic that they had used in the past for certain people visiting Fuji. Kaguya knew a message when she saw one, and it was now obvious that Luna, or somebody else in the Britannian government, was intimately aware of the details of how Kyoto had done exactly this.

Although she could not see beyond the blacked out windows, she was certain that the ride was nearly over. The route the vehicle had taken was not typical. Instead of the vast network of public roads, the car had driven through the maintenance access system on the lower levels of the city. Now at their destination, the vehicle elevator would lift the car directly up into the parking area of the viceroy's palace. For all the enormity of the building visible from the upper levels of the city, it extended all the way down to the actual surface at the very bottom.

Arranging a meeting with the new Britannian authorities had not been particularly difficult. That was the easy part. The real challenge would be to negotiate her way to some form of gains from a virtually powerless position. As bad as it had looked a week ago, as the once secretive Japanese forces poured out of the north to seize control, Kyoto was being thoroughly strangled now. The part that irritated them, Kirihara in particular, was that it was not even an action targeted directly at them. Luna's iron grip over the sakuradite transport infrastructure was arguably more as leverage over Pendragon than themselves.

But even so, her strategy had knowingly or not caught them with the proverbial splash damage. Kyoto still controlled most of the actual mines, but what good were mines when the sakuradite could not be moved without the authorization of Tokyo.

The elevator began to slow as it neared the top. Kaguya felt the anticipation build. She was sure that Luna vi Britannia would remember her. In what way, she had only hopes, not certainties. The only thing about this whole affair that was certain, was that if she could not strike a deal with the new viceroy, the Kyoto group was as good as finished. At least in the form it currently held.

As she thought about that, she began to feel something strange. Of all the members of the organization, the only one she had any care for was Kirihara. The man had become a grandfatherly figure to her after the devastation of the invasion. But the rest of them?

Kaguya mentally scolded herself for going down what she immediately recognized as a treasonous line of thought, or rather what should have been treasonous, but the temptation was too much. She just could not help herself. It was obvious to her that half of the group gave her words less weight than they should have held. Probably because she was young, female, and they were a bunch of old men set in their archaic ways.

What purpose did they even serve anymore? The old political heavyweights of prewar Japan, those few still alive at least, held little relevance in this new world. The moderate resistance was as good as dead, and the radicals were being systematically exterminated.

The Kyoto group of six once held a substantial amount of power among the remnants of Japan, being the last bastion of Japanese owned industry in Area 11. Of course, the only way they managed to pull that off was to sell out to Clovis. In the end, the more their youngest member thought about it, the more she realized that they had accomplished nothing of value, aside from keeping the Britannians out of Fuji itself by doing their bidding. Was that worth licking their boots and kissing their asses? Her first thought was an immediate no. Not that it mattered since the revered mountain was now half covered in mining complexes.

Her thoughts came to a halt as the elevator did the same. The car powered down, and she felt the driver's door open. Seconds later, her own door opened, revealing the exterior to her eyes. Kaguya expected some well dressed member of the viceroy's staff, such as the driver of the car, to be the one opening the door. Instead, she got quite a surprise.

Standing before her, dressed in a rather ordinary looking suit, was none other than Luna vi Britannia. The exiled princess turned new viceroy had a happy look on her face, not threatening at all. Kaguya stared at her, processing all the changes since they had last seen each other.

"Welcome back to Tokyo, Kaguya." Luna smiled at her.

It really is her, Kaguya knew in that moment as she recognized the voice. It was one thing to hear it over a broadcast, but in person...she knew it was Luna.

"Unfortunate circumstances aside, it feels good to be in the capital again, your highness." Kaguya replied in a neutral, business tone. Then she suddenly lunged forward and threw herself around Luna, who patted her on the head, wondering what she had done to deserve such a strong hug.

"Miss me?" Luna smiled at her, old memories flooding back.

"Of course I did! I haven't had anyone interesting to play shogi with in years." Kaguya explained with a smile. Luna hugged her back, all while struggling to keep the wicked grin from appearing on her face. This was going to be too easy.

Underneath the adorable little sister facade, Kaguya was a frighteningly competent organizer, politician, and administrator. Given that Luna had yet to see anyone from the previous world that was radically different in terms of capability in this one, it was safe to assume that the girl in front of her was every bit as good as the Kaguya that ran the UFN. She was going to need someone with those kind of skills in the near future.

If this first impression was any true indication, then there was no doubt that she would have Kaguya siding with her by the end of the day. It would be another vital piece acquired, and she was going to need every advantage she could get in the uphill fight to come.

It was exceedingly rare for Rakshata Chawla, by any measure a genius engineer completely secure in her own rightly deserved self confidence, to feel nervous. But as she stood before the doors that led into the viceroy's office, she felt heavy with the gravity of what she was about to do.

The meeting with Kallen Kouzuki, and subsequent after action report, had brought up an unrelated concern. In watching the woman get to work familiarizing herself with what had to be one of the most advanced weapons in the world, Rakshata could not get her mind off of the one that may render them all worthless.

Rakshata was many things, but not a cutting edge physicist. Of course, she had a strong understanding of the subject, far above most, but even then the sheer simplicity of the discovery made her feel cold. If she could figure this out, others that really knew what they were doing would as well. She took a deep, centering breath, and walked toward the door.

She was waved inside, and one of the men at the door promptly closed it behind her. The interior of the room was a bit surprising to her, being so... practical. Not spartan, but far from extravagant. It was a stark difference from what she was expecting to find in a Britannian palace, as it looked more like something to be found on a military installation. The space was relatively small and functional, with little in the way of cosmetic decoration. It certainly wasn't her predecessor's office. Clovis la Britannia had probably never even been in this room during his reign as viceroy.

"Good morning, Rakshata. How's life working with Milly?" Luna asked from behind her desk.

She knew, of course, both from Milly and Rivalz, as well as from the mountain of data she had access to. But even so, it paid dividends to maintain relationships with the minds behind the success.

Rakshata's contributions to Ashford Heavy Industries itself had thus far been minor. That was not surprising, given the very short time frame involved. She had, however, proven enormously useful in her prior endeavors, especially with KMF design and fission power plants. The Guren didn't quite count, not yet. She designed and built that machine before coming to Japan.

"Interesting, as always. You certainly have an eye for talent. She may not have a spark of genius for things mechanical or scientific, but she does have a level of motivation I've rarely seen before."

"I grew up with Milly. She's always been that energy dense." Luna told her. That got a smile out of the Indian engineer. She fiddled with her long pipe, unlit as it was, and gently chewed on the end of it. It was a clear tell for Rakshata's nervousness. Something was clearly bothering her.

"Speaking of energy density…I have an idea." Rakshata began. Of course, Luna realized after a second. This had nothing to do with knightmare frames, or the new company.

"I'm assuming you've figured out the more explosive use for some of the technology you've been working with." Luna said, taking a guess at where this had to be heading. Rakshata had sent her something about it before, but they had never directly spoken on the matter.

"Once you start looking into the details, it's fairly obvious." Rakshata replied. "And that terrifies me. If I could figure it out, others can too. So I looked a bit deeper into that particular abyss."

"What did you find?"

"It should be possible to produce a fairly compact bomb with an unfathomable amount of explosive power." Rakshata told her.

"What's your estimated yield, in terms of an equivalent amount of TNT?" Luna asked her. Rakshata paused for a moment to do a few mental conversions.

"Somewhere around twenty thousand tons." Rakshata said, before quickly adding. "But keep in mind that I haven't really designed a weapon out of this idea yet. That number is just an educated guess."

Rakshata stared at Luna vi Britannia, or rather the look on her face. It was anything but what she expected to see. It was not the face of a woman horrified by the implications of this discussion, nor was it that of one greedy for its fruits. Instead, the violet orbs staring back at her seemed to suggest that Rakshata was missing something. But what?

"That's from a uranium fission device, right?" Luna asked. Rakshata nodded, a bit surprised and unsure of how much the viceroy knew of the subject. If she, not a scientist at all, could identify that much just by a vague description, it made her fears seem even more real.

"Uranium 235 to be specific, yes." Rakshata confirmed. "Combined with a sakuradite casing that should amplify the effect."

The Indian felt out of her element here. She was an outright genius in many respects, and had proven it in the field of medical cybernetics. The lessons learned in those endeavors had quite naturally led her to develop a new genus of knightmare frames from that technology, almost entirely independent of Britannia's current line of design. That was what she knew, and what she was comfortable with.

Now, she found herself proposing the possible use of nuclear physics to create weapons of mass destruction the likes of which the world had never seen. She was not an expert in this field, even if she was confident that she and her team could develop such a weapon if they really needed to. Not that she wanted to, but that was the expected outcome.

"Why are you bringing this to me, Rakshata? I'm quite sure it's not out of enthusiasm for the idea. You look a bit pale just talking about it." Luna asked.

"I'm afraid." She admitted, laying it out. "There are people that know nuclear physics much better than I do, and they will reach the same conclusions. When that happens, somebody is going to build one of these things. You need to be ready for it, if, or rather when that happens."

Luna's response was to reach into the desk, and pull out a nondescript folder.

"I'm neither interested nor worried about little fission firecrackers, Rakshata." Luna replied dryly, as if the enormous destructive potential that was just described meant nothing to her ears. She slid the folder over to the engineer. "Take a look. If you're afraid of a twenty kiloton bomb, then you'll be sure to find nightmares in here."

Rakshata did, hesitantly opening the folder, and skimming through some of the documents inside. Although she was firmly seated in her chair, the world seemed to vanish beneath her. She felt as if she were in free fall, looking at the numbers on the page. Her hands began to shake.

"This is…" She began, but trailed off.

"A uranium-sakuradite three stage fission-fusion-fusion explosive device. The model you're looking at has an estimated yield of over five hundred kilotons of TNT. It's apparently quite scalable too. Up to a ten megaton yield should be possible before it gets too large and heavy to be deliverable by existing platforms." She explained far too calmly. "I have a team in Hokkaido looking into the technology. Specifically, they're trying to design a weapon small enough to replace the warhead of a ballistic anti ship missile. There are some substantial engineering challenges, as it's quite a bit different from building a fission power plant. But putting a five hundred kiloton warhead on a ballistic missile is certainly within the realm of the achievable."

"That could erase a city. You could kill millions with the push of a button." Her voice sounded hollow. Rakshata could not help but catastrophize as the ridiculous power of such a weapon took form in her mind. She imagined what something like that would do to a city that had Indian population densities. Just one bomb would kill more people than most wars in only a few seconds.

"A twenty kiloton fission bomb feels rather uninspiring, because it's already obsolete. Perhaps even before one has ever been built. But fusion weapons, those will be here to stay. I don't want to be caught with my panties around my ankles if somebody else starts throwing megatons of nuclear fire at me. And they may very well do that if they think I can't make the same move." She paused for a moment.

"You know, there was a novel I read, years ago, about two great nations with weapons like this, each having the power to destroy the other in a span of minutes. They built thousands of them, mounted on long range missiles always aimed at the other, and always ready to strike at a moment's notice."

"Did they?" Rakshata asked.

"No. In fact, despite being rivals for decades, they never directly fought a war at all. Once it was known that both sides possessed such power, a natural stalemate formed. The reason was a concept the author called MAD, mutually assured destruction. The idea being that no matter who fired first, or for what reason, both nations would inevitably be destroyed as there was no way to stop enough of the missiles, much less all of them. A war between those two powers could have no victor, and nobody wants to fight a war that literally cannot be won. And so for nearly half a century, they never came to direct engagement out of mutual fear of annihilation.

However, the key word here is mutual. Whoever possesses such weapons of unfathomable power might as well be god, at least until another player in the game proves that they are just as capable. To use a business term, the first mover advantage is incredible, and that's not a race I want to be on the losing end of."

"If you win that race, what will you do with that power? I know you appreciate honesty, Luna vi Britannia, so let me be clear. There's a difference between building weapons like knightmare frames and building instantaneous genocide. I'm not sure how much you know about what the Federation's doing to India, but if they had a weapon like this they would drop one on a city to terrorize the people into submission. They really would do it, not just make threats about it."

"So would Schneizel." Luna responded in a heartbeat. "He loves that sort of ideology, you know. Enforced peace through fear. If he doesn't already have some form of nuclear weapon, I would bet that he's pursuing the idea at that enormous research facility of his near Dallas Texas. He has some of the smartest people in the empire working for him, and they wouldn't miss the possibility."

"And you?"

"I would not use them as terror weapons against a civilian population. The only promise I am willing to make in this regard is that I would not target cities to sow fear and widespread panic. Other than that…" Rakshata sighed as Luna trailed off.

"Of course you're going to use them if they're available to you." She observed. Luna nodded in agreement.

"Then again, if I make it known in some form that I possess such weapons, my enemies would not know that I had no intention of using them in that manner. In fact, I would want them to assume that I am perfectly willing to incinerate their people by the tens of millions if sufficiently provoked." Luna told her.

"Such a paradox." Rakshata said. "In order to prevent it from happening, you have to be completely capable and ready to do it yourself, even if you truly wish it never does." She nodded.

"All of that being said, to be honest with you Rakshata, I would use them." Luna went on. "Military bases, deployed armies, fleets of ships, masses of enemy aircraft; there are plenty of targets I would not hesitate to obliterate with superweapons of that caliber. In doing so, there will be substantial casualties, some of which will be unintended, but that's unavoidable in war, regardless of what we're shooting at each other."

There was a minute of silence as both contemplated the consequences of what that would actually mean. Would anything ever be the same again once such weapons came into being? Rakshata's thoughts on the topic were purely theoretical, but Luna's were historical. Images flashed through her consciousness; Tokyo, Fuji, Pendragon, and others. The millions murdered, the armies annihilated, and it had been so easy that Nunnally could do it, still blinded and wheelchair bound as she had been aboard Damocles. By pushing that button only a few times, she had killed tens of thousands of imperial troops over Fuji. That wasn't battle, that wasn't war, it wasn't even murder; it was a delete button for the real world.

"Do you need my help to do it?" Rakshata broke the silence. Luna looked at her, somewhat surprised that she would make that offer.

"Not unless you want to." Luna replied. "I don't believe I ever told you this, but I actually stole most of that nuclear research data that you started with in Hokkaido."

"From where? Whoever did that work undoubtedly knows how to weaponize these processes."

"One talented individual. She's a student at Ashford Academy." Luna told her. Rakshata looked as if the blood was draining from her face.

"A student? Singular? One girl did all of that?" She asked disbelievingly. Luna nodded affirmatively.

"She did. At least, most of it. All of the theoretical nuclear physics can be attributed directly to her, as well as a little bit of the application. The concept of a nuclear fission power plant was also her's, although she obviously never had the resources or funding to attempt to build one. Although to be fair, if she had the means I believe she could do it." Luna explained.

"If she's that good, and if what you just said is true then she's an absolute prodigy, then why isn't she here working for you?"

"Honestly Rakshata, I just want her to walk away from the next few years alive and innocent. She's already gone through enough terrible experiences, more than a normal girl her age should, without getting involved with us.

You know as well as I do that the nuclear genie isn't going back in the bottle. Whether I'm the first or not, it's going to get around. Even if I don't do it, somebody at some point is going to drop a bomb that returns a seven figure casualty number. When that happens, I'd rather that she believes that someone else independently developed the technology; that she had no part in turning off a few million people." Luna spoke.

"Could you?" Rakshata asked quietly.

"I'm not going to."

"You told me that you wouldn't use them as terror weapons, and I believe you. What I want to know is this: If you had a reason compelling enough, would you drop one of these super bombs on a city. Could you kill a million people? Do you believe that you're capable of it?" Rakshata asked firmly, not breaking eye contact.

Luna thought for a few moments, remembering the times she had seen exactly that happen. That train of thought always inevitably converged on the first time, when Suzaku had pressed the button over Tokyo. In a sense, her former self was far more guilty of that disaster than Suzaku, as he had only done so due to an irresistible compelling by Geass. A terrible command given in a moment of selfish panic.

"If you set one off on the roof of this building, with a yield of a megaton of TNT, it would kill about ten million people before we even knew we were dead." Luna said faintly, recalling the final casualty estimate for Suzaku's bomb. "If you gave me a reason so compelling, an end so important that it must be met by any possible means, then I would spend as many lives as are needed to achieve victory, be that one by itself, or one followed by seven zeros. I cannot envision what such a reason would be to be worth so much destruction, but I would be lying to you if I said I was truly incapable of it." Luna explained.

"That's...surprisingly honest."

"Were you expecting me to say that there's never going to be a set of circumstances that tell me pushing the button is the right move? " Luna asked her.

"OK." Rakshata exhaled. "You'll use it, in a limited military capacity. I suppose that's the best answer I'm going to get."

"It's the only real answer you're going to get. Others may say they wouldn't, or descend into a salivating mess at the thought of commanding that much potential lethality. The former would be liars, the latter madmen." Luna told her. "And as you well know, both are abundant in this world."

CC rolled over as she heard the door open, making a herculean effort to do so. As much as she hated Clovis la Britannia, she had to admit that the man had an exquisite taste in beds, and his palace was furnished with the best. It felt so damn good to lay in this one that she just wanted to melt away into the soft, fluffy surface.

But turn she did, just in time to see her princess exit the private bathroom. She had gone in there less than ten minutes earlier, after shambling into room as the spokeswoman and perfect case study of human exhaustion.

This was an area that Code often had inconsistent behavior in. While its regenerative properties preserved and rejuvenated the body, and to some extent the mind as well, it sometimes seemed to have a life of its own. CC knew first hand that a Code bearer could completely wreck every record of human endurance as worn and damaged tissues were restored in real time. She had learned of this first hand a few centuries back, fighting and working without pause for over two weeks under a contested siege in eastern Europe.

It also technically eliminated the need to sleep, as she had proved in the same action. However, just because Code made something possible, did not mean that it felt good, or even normal to push those limits. She also knew, also first hand, that even an immortal woman would eventually want to just lay down and dream for a while.

CC got the feeling that Luna was pretty close to that point as she made the journey over to bed. Coming directly from her short shower, not bothering to make a detour for such extras as clothing, she plopped down onto the bed, all of her metaphorical strings cut. Luna let out a long groan of relief and relaxation as she let gravity pull her down a few more centimeters into the wonderfully soft top layer.

Within a few seconds of landing, Luna felt a blanket cover her body, and arms reach over to her. Before she could say a word, she was home in her love's warm embrace. Luna purred as she was cuddled by the most heavenly material her skin had ever known.

"What are you wearing?" Luna asked, half mumbling, her eyes still shut and too tired to re open.

"I'm not sure actually." CC admitted. "Just something I pillaged from a grand closet here in the palace. I don't know who it was originally meant for, but Clovis probably spent a small fortune on it."

"It feels like it." Luna said, rubbing her cheek against CC's shoulder like an overgrown kitten. "It puts silk to shame." She muttered sleepily.

Against her body's will, she opened her eyes for just a few seconds. Although it was quite dark in the room, it was not completely lightless. She could see that CC's mystery outfit was in fact a loose fitting two piece pajama set in a strawberry pink color. It was...cute on her. Much more than she would have thought. A fleeting old memory of CC's rebuilt Lancelot that she insisted be painted in a similar shade of pink reached her consciousness, and Luna giggled.

"If you think this feels good, just imagine being inside it." The witch teased.

"Why bother imagining it, when I could put it on myself?"

"You'll have to make me take it off first." CC challenged. She leaned over and kissed her princess. Not as passionately as she usually did, but it was enough to make sleep retreat for a while.

It was an hour later when Luna finally began to fade away, now wearing the wondrous pink outfit herself. The feeling of CC's heartbeat lulling her away to her dreams. In the end, they fully switched positions, and it was now a case of a very satisfied princess holding her beloved limette as they both drifted off together. The world would still be there when she awoke, and for now, she was happy to make it wait.