A/N: Sorry this took a while, but I was debating where to go in this chapter. Not for a lack of ideas, but more of a case of "is it better to this now" or "save it for later" kind of debate.
Anyway in this chapter some interesting events will take place and will have effects that will be felt later in the story by all parties.
So I won't bore you with a big author note, so let's get to it.
The Game is Changing
Three days had passed since Lelouch was confronted by Ryūko, although he managed to avoid revealing himself to be Zero, for now, the former prince knew he had to be more careful. Nevertheless, he was grateful for the academy being closed as it allowed his body to rest and recover his strength from his unexpected clash with Satsuki and Jakuzure, which was needed given that wearing Reiketsu in its Zero configuration as its base form was extremely risky because he had most of his body covered in life fibers.
But Lelouch feared if he left too much of his own body exposed, it would have helped Satsuki and others figure out his true identity.
Lelouch could revert Reiketsu into its default transformation to efficiently eliminate the danger. However, the fear that someone could use any exposed part of his body to narrow down the possible suspects kept Lelouch from doing so. The former prince could fight at full-strength more easily using Reiketsu in its default transformation state in conjunction with its other transformations as opposed to using his Kamui in its Zero configuration, leaving Lelouch at higher risk of being overwhelmed by the life fibers that make up the Kamui.
Fighting for prolonged periods significantly increased his risk, so either finishing the fight as quickly as possible or escaping were his only choices.
Furthermore, there was nothing Lelouch could gain from defeating Satsuki anyway; although it might've been a satisfying victory, there was little else to gain from it. His original plans involved beating Satsuki once he was poised to seize Area 11 from her and liberate it. Lelouch had hoped her lack of knowledge about the different configurations his Kamui was capable of would've tipped the battle in his favor. Unfortunately, the battle he was forced into had jeopardized that plan and ruined any surprise advantages he could've used against her.
As the former prince contemplated new strategies and counters to correct these missteps, he entered the living room of the room his sister occupied along with Sayoko. The young man had taken care of most of what he needed to do, so Lelouch could confidently leave the rest in Ohgi and Naoto's hands.
For today Lelouch was dressed in what appeared to be casual wear, but it was Reiketsu having transformed into a pair of black jeans and a matching turtleneck shirt. The red jacket he was wearing over it was the only piece of clothing that was ordinary.
"Brother, are you ready to go?" Nunnally inquired as her optimistic tone, indicated she was in an excellent mood.
"Yes, I am Nunnally, but is Sayoko ready?" Lelouch asked, but his question was answered when the maid entered the room, followed by Nunnally Sayoko would accompany the two siblings to help with Nunnally should she require it. "Well, that answers that question, so why don't we head out."
Meanwhile, around the same time, Milly, in the company of two of her friends, was traveling aboard a train speeding on a rail bridge over a ghetto. The Student Council President of Ashford Academy was dressed in more casual wear consisting of a blue dress with a white short jacket worn over it for a more stylish appearance.
Her friend and fellow Student Council member wore a green dress with light green sleeves and matching heel shoes. She possesses bright, waist-length, orange hair, fair skin complexion, and yellowish-green eyes.
The second girl accompanying her was arguably Milly's oldest friend since their grandparents had worked together on the Ganymede, the prototype for most Knightmare Frames being a third-generation model made famous by Lady Marianne the Flash. She wore a pair of wine red baggy pants, a pink long sleeve shirt with an open red vest, and a brown ascot cap. Like Milly, she has a fair skin complexion with dark green hair cut short style with two long braids lining the sides of her head hanging over her shoulders. She also wore a pair of round glasses over her indigo eyes.
"Just think about it we'll spend all day relaxing and then we can spend all night having some fun," Milly declared to her two friends before sporting a mischievous smile. "We can even talk about anyone we like."
"Then I guess you'll have a lot to talk about madam president." Shirley Fenette said suspiciously of the exact nature of the impending conversation.
"Who can say," Milly said, shrugging off Shirley's suspicions easily just as the train passed into the tunnel.
Nina Einstein shivered, gripping her hands in fright.
Noticing how frightened her childhood friend had become, Milly knelt down before Nina putting her hands on top of hers to calm her.
"Relax Nina," Milly said soothingly, "Lake Kawaguchi is a very popular tourist location, so there will be plenty of Britannians there, so it's not the ghettos."
"Yes, I know, but..."
"It will be alright, we'll be by your side the entire time."
Nina smiled meekly before responding, "Thanks."
Near the popular Lake Kawaguchi convention center hotel, but specifically in a towering high rise skyscraper located in the heart of the city of Fujikawaguchiko. Its design at the top of the seventy story structure had a castle-like architecture with black tinted windows covering the structure. The building was the Area 11 headquarters of Cloverleaf Industries.
As far as the public at large was concerned, the company was a cargo and transportation company with various company headquarters in every significant Area controlled by the Empire. They owned most major airlines, buses, and taxi companies, as well as having a very effective cargo transportation service with various planes and cargo ships. Beyond that, they held a string of shopping centers and malls within the Britannia Homeland with ties to the real estate industry.
Entering the building through a secret underground elevator, Saihō Harime was standing with Cunningham as the young man had both gloved hands on the top of his cane. In conjunction with his standard attire, Saihō was wearing a black cloak with a shoulder cape attached around it, giving him a more ominous appearance. He had arrived in Area 11 via private jet to observe upcoming events at the Lake Kawaguchi convention center hotel. He could watch both the testing of his new combat drugs and see how Lelouch or Satsuki would handle the situation.
The only one who had any reservations about his presence in Area 11 was Cunningham.
"Sir, are you sure about this?"
"It is fine," Saihō said, but the older man suspected his boss was annoyed, "we need to push the plan towards the right direction. Van Pelt will kill Dr. Einstein as planned, but I had to arrange for something special for Ryūko."
"You mean that bounty you put on her head?"
Saihō only grinned as the elevator reached its destination before the doors opening.
Somewhere in the countryside where Honnō City could be seen in the distance like a majestic mountain, Ryūko with Mako accompanying her as they traveled to a particular place. The two rode out to the remains of the Matoi Mansion on a new scooter Mako's father had given her. Unsurprisingly the bike was obtained through questionable means because Barazō admitted he scammed it from the scooter shop owner.
"So, is this it?"
"Yeah," Ryūko answered, "this is my dad's place."
"This dump? Then you are poor like me?"
"No, I didn't always live here," The young woman spoke, wanting to clarify. "This place used to be a nice mansion until it burned down. My dad and I didn't get along, so he shipped me off to a boarding school long before Japan became Area 11."
Ryūko silently gazed at the ruins, recalling what the mansion looked like before the fire that ruined it.
"I didn't come back until six months when my dad sent a letter saying he wanted to talk."
The young woman had spent her childhood and most of her teenage years away from the mansion. Even when the war between Japan and Britannia started, she had to stay with some business allies until she could return to school. Of course, Japan becoming Area 11, leading to a rise of discrimination due to her Japanese nationality. By the time she was a high school student, she was a juvenile delinquent, thanks to a lack of a parental figure and getting into fights since she was a child.
"When I arrived, I found him leaning against the wall with this Scissor Blade stabbed into him," Ryūko said, recalling the state she had found her father in.
His last words echoed in her mind as she hurried to his side.
"Stop fusing and listen," Isshin Matoi told her, "If you want to live a peaceful life, then turn around and leave now. But if you want to continue my fight, then..."
Isshin grunted in pain as he pulled the scissor blade out of his stomach before passing it to Ryūko.
"You are going to need that."
"Fight, what are you talking about?"
"If you find the other half of that scissor, then you'll find my killer, but a cruel fate awaits you."
At that moment, Ryūko saw a brief glimpse of the other half of the Scissor Blade, prompting her to pursue her father's killer against her father's wishes as there was much he had wanted to tell her. She never caught her father's killer, but after making it outside the mansion, a bomb went off engulfing the building in flames.
Returning to the present, Ryūko and Mako stepped into the ruins of the mansion.
"For as long as I could remember, I always hated the old man. But his murder and the work he was doing was a wakeup call that I knew nothing about him," Ryūko said, transforming Senketsu into his Kamui form. Once her transformation was finished, she used the Scissor Blade to cut her way back into the underground lab, where she first met Senketsu after finding the trap door resealed.
Leaving Mako above ground, Ryūko descended down the passageway until she reached the underground lab, but unlike the last time she was here in the lab, it had been cleaned out as the piles of scrap clothing and fabric was gone. The entire secret lab, save for machines built into walls, had been thoroughly cleaned out, leaving the room empty.
"I was hoping to find some hidden clue, but," Ryūko commented with a sneer.
"Mikisugi might've had something to do with it?" Senketsu said, which Ryūko silently agreed with.
"Ryūko," Mako said as Ryūko turned around to see her descending into the chamber using a rope.
"Mako, how did you get down here?"
"Ryūko, that's not Mako!" Senketsu called out in alarm. "WATCH OUT!"
Even though Ryūko saw someone who looked and sounded like Mako, but Senketsu saw a young blonde-haired man with green eyes and a fair skin complexion. He was a Britannia, but he wore a black shirt with short sleeves with armored shoulder pads, matching combat boots with white pants. He drew a large modified handgun that seemed identical to Tsumugu's sewing gun weapon, but it appeared to be more advanced and streamlined with a bayonet-like blade attached to the barrel.
Without Senketsu's warning, Ryūko might've been hit by the young man's shots even after he quickly drew the weapon he had concealed behind him. The young man fired a second shot, but this time Ryūko used her blade to deflect the bullets.
"How did you see through it?" Orpheus Zevon asked as his left eye glowed red with the emblem of a phoenix taking flight. To Ryūko, however, she saw only Mako or rather someone who was mincing her mannerisms and gestures flawlessly.
"I don't know how your trick works, but my Kamui saw right through it!"
"I see, so a Kamui being sentient is true then. Good to know."
Orpheus pressed his attack, although he wasn't counting on his surprise attack being able to down Ryūko in one blow he had chosen to engage her inside the underground lab, hoping the enclosed space might limit her mobility to give him a better chance at defeating her. Furthermore, unlike the needle-like bullets used by Tsumugu, the ammunition in Orpheus's weapon used was adhesive bullets filled with a powerful starching agent designed specially to neutralize powerful life-fibers.
Specifically to neutralize a Kamui.
Senketsu was quick to recognize the danger those bullets responses when Ryūko deflected one such bullet when it came very close.
"I am not sure what those bullets are, but they more potent than those used by Tsumugu," Senketsu warned, sensing the danger those specialized bullets represented.
"Yeah, I figured as much," Ryūko said, swinging her Scissor Blade at blinding speeds to deflect every bullet.
"Activate Uniform," Orpheus said as a familiar glimmer of stars around his collar were seen before he was enveloped in light and emerged from it wearing his own Goku Uniform.
His uniform covered his body in black streamlined padded armor with mobility in mind. He had metal shoulder armor and armored gauntlets and boots. His face was left behind exposed, but despite the seemingly simple appearance of his three-star Goku Uniform, its powers were quite formidable.
"Are you one of Satsuki's goons!?"
Orpheus had transformed just in time as Ryūko had created an opening when he was forced to reload, allowing the young woman to close the distance between them quickly. Orpheus was now holding back Ryūko's Scissor Blade using the built-in blade on his gun.
"My employer isn't Satsuki Kiryūin, but if you must know, my Goku uniform was supplied by someone else. That same person was the one who put a bounty of fifty million on your head." Orpheus replied in a strictly business-like manner.
Ryūko was stunned by the revelation that someone had put a massive bounty on her head, but she was forced to put that thought aside, for now, to focus on her foe before her.
The young woman began fighting more aggressively as she suddenly delivered a skull-shattering head-butt upon Orpheus, sending him stumbling backward, but their broken stalemate had allowed the latter to reload his gun while he had been knocked back. Ryūko wasn't going to let it, so she transformed Senketsu into his Shippu configuration using the sudden burst of speed to close the distance while trying to, her foe's gun in two. Orpheus quickly crouched down onto his knees to evade Ryūko, but he was swiftly attacked from behind.
After missing her mark, Ryūko had transformed back into her Kamui's default configuration before landing both feet on the wall at the far end of the room. Upon launching herself from the wall, she changed back into her Shippu mode to attack Orpheus from behind and switching back to hit him with a kick to the back that sent him flying into the ceiling. Thanks to his uniform, the blonde-haired young man had weathered the attack much better than anyone else could've, but of course, without an outfit composed of life fibers, an average human would've been dead from such a blow.
Orpheus countered the attack with a wide spread of bullets from his gun, forcing Ryūko back onto the defensive. The young man was surprised by Ryūko's resourcefulness, but at the same time, he could see why his anonymous employer would put such a massive bounty on her head. Any ordinary mercenaries wouldn't have been able to succeed in capturing her, let alone killing her. The prize didn't specify if she needed to be dead or alive and that only proof of the deed was needed.
Ryūko escaped the hailstorm of bullets by retreating to the surface through the way she came in. Continuing to battle an armed foe in such an enclosed space would only work against her, a lesson Ryūko learned the hard way during her clash against Tsumugu. Upon reaching the surface, Ryūko immediately sought to free Mako, knowing that she was likely being held captive.
Her suspicions were proven correct when she saw Mako being held at gunpoint by a man who appeared to be in his early twenties.
On Mako's left, the man was a tall and lanky man of Chinese descent wearing a custom outfit consisting of tan pants, brown boots, and a purple and gold-trimmed short sleeve tunic with matching arm sleeves that weren't attached to the tunic. Lastly, he had medium length black hair, green eyes wearing small glasses, and a combat vest he wore over his outfit.
Zi Dian, otherwise known as Zedd, the Tiger among other mercenaries, was shocked by Ryūko's sudden appearance providing enough of a delay for her to save Mako. Acting fast before Zi Dian could react, Ryūko hurled her scissor blade at the mercenary who instinctively dodged, but this separated him from his hostage allow her to fly down and punch Zi Dian in the face knocking him out as he was sent flying across the ground.
"Mako," Ryūko cried upon landing next to her friend, "Are you alright?"
"I am ok," Mako replied, seemingly unfazed of being a hostage, "this happens all the time."
Momentarily worried for Mako by that comment, but Ryūko pushed aside, knowing they weren't out of danger yet. Case in point, Orpheus emerged from the shaft leading to the underground lab, where he resumed his attack on Ryūko. Taking Mako, Ryūko took cover behind a ruined brick wall to escape another swarm of needle bullets. Ryūko was confident she could take Orpheus down, but the matter of Mako's safety complicated things with Ryūko uncertain if she could protect Mako and fight Orpheus at the same time.
Either that guy will try to nab Mako to use as a hostage, or he might have another buddy who could grab her, Ryūko thought as she weighed her options.
Fleeing was her best option, but considering the size of the bounty on her head, there was no telling who else was after her, which could just bring Ryūko back to square one.
Ok, then I have to end this now, Ryūko thought deciding to deal with Orpheus.
Transforming again, Senketsu adopted a new form. It before similarities to Senketsu's Shippu configuration, but it lacked the large engines upon her legs. Instead, there were small thrusters attached around her hands, feet and waist, and shoulders. Her feet, especially near the tip streamlined into blades while her hands could transform into swords making the new form more specialized for close-quarters combat while moving at high speeds.
The new transformation, Senketsu-Jinsoku (swift), was soaring straight for Orpheus, who readied his own blade in one hand and unleashed another barrage of needles from his gun. However, Senketsu used one of the spikes upon the skirt as a makeshift anchor as it fired from Ryūko's right, attached to a long piece of thread, embedding itself into a crumbling wall.
"Get ready Ryūko!"
Senketsu pulled Ryūko out of the line of fire at the last second, and in the second that followed, she planted both feet on the wall before launching herself at blinding speed towards Orpheus's blind spot. The hired gun had no time to react due to how quickly the pair was moving, resulting in Orpheus's firearm being destroyed followed up by swift roundhouse kick in midair, which was empowered by the speed she was traveling at.
The sheer force of the kick knocked Orpheus off his feet and flying across the ground, but Ryūko didn't relent. She quickly followed up her attack with her finishing move.
The scissor blade cleaved through Orpheus's uniform, causing it to be shredded apart, and its life fibers absorbed by Senketsu. Orpheus hit the ground hard, and without the uniform to cushion his landing, the impact knocked him out.
Leaving him in the dirt, Ryūko hurried to Mako, whom she found to be safe. Ryūko didn't feel it was safe to stay. A part of her wanted to question him, but Ryūko reasoned, based on the action and spy movies she saw, that sticking around would be dangerous. More-so for Mako than Ryūko, so it best for them to make their escape.
"Come on, Mako, we got to get out of here," Ryūko said as she hopped onto the scooter, starting its engine.
"Ok, time to flee from our armed pursuers just like in a movie!"
"Uh well," Ryūko decided to merely focus on fleeing the scene than questioning Mako.
Unknown to the pair, a small camouflaged drone had been hovering a safe distance away hiding amongst the trees.
"How fascinating," Inumuta said, standing behind a one-star student operating the drone.
As if on cue, Satsuki made her presence known.
"The Matoi girl just fought against a mercenary possessing what seems to be similar to a three-star Goku Uniform."
"I see," Satsuki replied. "I trust you have dispatched the rapid response team?"
"Of course," Inumuta answered, "Sir Weinberg is overseeing the recovery personally."
"Good work," Satsuki said as she turned to leave. "Continue monitoring Matoi and keep me up to date any new developments."
"I shall," Inumuta replied with a bow of his head before resuming his work.
As Satsuki walked through the halls of Honnouji Academy, she couldn't help but allow a thin smile to grace her features. Little did Ryūko realize, her new scooter Mr. Mankanshoku had seemingly scammed was actually granted to him on Satsuki's behalf. On its own, the scooter was old, but it would run at least. However, it carried a GPS tracker and a microphone with a long-range transmitter hidden within the bike.
Admittedly she was concerned it wouldn't be that easy to trick Mako's father into providing Ryūko with the scooter, but surprisingly arranging events for the bike to end up in Ryūko's possession was much easier than she could've expected.
I am doubtful she will lead us to Zero any time soon, but we have a viable means of monitoring her movements.
Suddenly her personal cellphone began ringing, prompting her to draw it from her pocket to answer it.
Taking one glance at the caller ID, she knew who it was when Satsuki spoke, "Yes Gamagōri?"
"Forgive me, Lady Satsuki, but we have a situation."
The sky had turned an orange hue as an indication of the sun beginning to set, which around this time Lelouch in the company of his sister Nunnally and her maid Sayoko were returning from a movie the trio had gone to see together.
"I am happy I got to spend time with you, big brother," Nunnally exclaimed happily.
"Me too, although I am sorry it's not as often as I would prefer," Lelouch admitted with a hint of sadness to his words.
The trio made their way to their home inside the Student Council Clubhouse, but once inside the dining room, Lelouch's phone began ringing. Lelouch had two cell phones on his person, his personal cell, and the one he uses exclusively as Zero. Pulling the phone, the one used by his Zero persona, from his pocket Lelouch glances at the caller ID to see who was calling him. Upon seeing it was Kallen, the former prince stepped out of the dining room before entering his room to take the call.
"This is Zero," Lelouch answered after ensuring the voice scrambler to the cellphone, which also made his signal harder to trace was functioning.
"Zero, turn on the television. I think it's something you should know about if you haven't heard already," Naoto replied before hanging up.
Lelouch picked up the remote for the television in his room before turning it on and switching the channel to the nearest news channel, which was likely what Naoto wanted.
"What is the situation at the scene?"
"I'm here in front of the Lake Kawaguchi Convention Center Hotel. The hotel jackers have identified themselves as the Japan Liberation Front. Members of the Sakuradite Allocation Meeting, most notably, chairman James, were taken hostage as well as several tourists and hotel employees." A female newscaster replied before a video recording of their hostages, which included Milly, Nina, and Shirley, were among the hostages.
Lelouch was stunned by seeing three of his friends in trouble.
"This footage was taken by the perpetrators; in it, you can clearly see Chairman James, including some students. The leader of the group claims to be Lieutenant-Colonel Kusakabe of the now-defunct Japanese military."
"What are you going to do?" Reiketsu asked, knowing Lelouch was no doubt worried about his friends.
As Lelouch contemplated that he listened to the rest where he learned Satsuki had taken charge of the situation, promising a quick resolution.
"If Satsuki is already involved, there isn't much I can do," Lelouch admitted reluctantly. "I am not happy about it, but she'll have it resolved by the time I can mobilize the Black Knights."
Lelouch would've preferred saving his friends himself, but he knew Satsuki would ensure their safety. It cost him an opportunity to further the cause of the Black Knights and establish a reputation they could use for recruiting new members, but there was little he could do at this point.
Unless there was a hostage who could prevent Satsuki from acting aggressively, it's likely to be over soon, Lelouch reasoned.
Little did Lelouch realize the situation wasn't going to be as quickly resolved as he expected.
The sun had vanished below the horizon as Satsuki stood beside the Lancelot while Lloyd and Cecil were preparing it. Gamagōri stood beside her, as did Jeremiah.
"All preparations are ready, we only await your order," Gamagōri noted.
"Is Inumuta in position?"
"He will be within the next few minutes, and he has sent us information on the positions of the enemy," Jeremiah replied.
"Excellent," Satsuki said before boarding the Lancelot. "Move to according to plan once I destroy the foundation block."
"The only issue will be that Linear Cannon, but once it's out of the way."
"Once I destroy the foundation pillar, we'll have eight minutes before the room the hostages is on is submerged," Satsuki pointed out as the Lancelot's hatch closed behind her.
Upon arrival, Satsuki had been briefed on the situation, which was members of the Japan Liberation Front had seized control of the Lake Kawaguchi Convention Center Hotel. They had a dozen or so hostages, all of them were being kept in a storage room on the 24th floor. Once their takeover was complete, the east and western bridges were destroyed, leaving the center bridge left, but attempts to rescue the hostages by air and water had failed. Thus the only way in was an underground tunnel which ran below the central bridge and then below the hotel itself. The tunnel was used to transport materials and supplies, so it was large enough to accommodate Knightmare Frames.
Unfortunately, this method failed as well because the JLF had modified and combined four RPI-11 Glasgows into a giant coil-gun unknowingly dubbed the Raikō. The enormous siege weapon fires a single high-velocity shell that releases two-dozen steel ball bearings, which tore apart the three Sutherlands they had sent into the tunnel earlier to secure it.
Despite these setbacks, Satsuki examined the information they collected so far, devising a plan to save the hostages.
Once Inumuta has located and secured the hostages, I'll begin my attack, and then he can take control of the Lancelot remotely through his Goku Uniform. Then Sir Weinberg will lead a team to recover the hostages, Satsuki thought confident in her plan.
Satsuki started the Lancelot up while Cecil began explaining the newest weapon the Lancelot was being equipped with. It was a blue rifle-like weapon that possessed an extendable barrel, depending on its configuration.
"For this run, the Lancelot has been equipped with the VARIS (Variable Ammunition Repulsion Impact Spitfire), a revolutionary new rifle created using the latest in railgun technology. It has two modes with adjustable levels, burst mode for larger and more powerful shots, and normal mode for focused and straight shots."
"Understood," Satsuki replied because the VARIS would be her means to destroy the enemy siege weapon and the foundation block.
Granted, she could complete these tasks without the Lancelot, but using them would be more efficient and provide a quicker resolution to the situation.
After the Lancelot was lowered into the tunnel, it was disconnected from the crane ready for launch.
"Lancelot, launching," Satsuki declared as the Lancelot took off speeding down the tunnel.
At its speed of travel, it didn't take long for the pilots of the Raikō to notice the approaching Lancelot.
"We have one Knightmare Frame coming at us," the pilot announced. "It's fast!"
"So what? It will end up like the rest," the co-pilot and the pilot's superior boasted boldly. "Super electric shrapnel cannon, FIRE!"
The Raikō fired, but after its projectile released the dozen or so steel bearings, the pilots were stunned the Lancelot survived.
"WHAT THE HELL!?"
Satsuki was grinning because she could imagine how shocked the operators of the enemy machine were that one target had escaped destruction. It was thanks to the Lancelot's impressive speed and its Blaze Luminous shields, which enabled it to charge through without damage.
"It was a good idea, but a wasted effort."
The tunnel was undoubtedly an ideal place to set up such a weapon since the limited space and direction an enemy must travel in increased the Raikō's overall effectiveness. However, the problem lies in the steel bearings each shot released, although devastating the way the steel bearings were scattered aren't always consistent, which could leave potential openings for a quick and keen enough enemy to identify and slip through.
Having a shield capable of repelling just about anything also deceased the Raikō's effectiveness.
Just when the JLF couldn't prove to be more pathetic, Satsuki thought with a scowl on her face.
The Japan Liberation Front was the largest and successful of the resistance groups in Japan, but despite consisting of former members of the Japanese military and having an actual chain of command than being a ragtag group of freedom fighters they squandered opportunities and resources to such a degree, Satsuki found their continued existence sickening.
Instead of adapting and developing new tactics they kept to old methods and tactics that failed them in the war, Satsuki noted internally.
The Raikō fired a second volley, but it failed like the rest with the Lancelot closing the distance very quickly.
The sensors on the Lancelot beeped when it detected the Raikō was deploying supplementary guns to use against the Lancelot and to compensate for the lack of complete coverage from its primary weapon.
"Fools should've done that earlier," Satsuki remarked as she had the Lancelot draw its VARIS rifle, switching it to burst mode and simultaneously raising the impact rail to its highest setting.
Upon lining up her shot, Satsuki fired a huge sphere-like blast of what seemed to be energy at the Raikō while at the same the Raikō fired another shot in conjunction with support fire from its quad-linked guns mounted on the sides of the machine. Satsuki's shot pass through the newly released steel bearings, which were vaporized in passing along with the shots fired Raikō's other cannons. Then finally the Lancelot's bullet ripped clean through the Raikō's main barrel, causing its destruction. In turn, the Raikō's obliteration set off a chain reaction that led to the destruction of its ammunition stockpile it had nearby triggered the demolition of the tunnel.
Satsuki had expected this, so she used the Lancelot's Blaze Luminous shields to protect the Lancelot as it was launched into the air until it was facing the upper levels of the hotel high above the center point of the bridge.
A perfect angle, Satsuki thought with a smirk before leveling the Lancelot's VARIS at the foundation block while switching it from burst mode into straight mode. She fired three shots, all of which tore through the ground of the hotel demolishing the foundation block, causing the hotel to begin sinking.
"Inumuta take control," Satsuki commanded before opening the cockpit of the Lancelot.
"Understood, I have control," Inumuta replied through the wireless earpiece Satsuki was wearing.
Upon exiting the Lancelot, Satsuki activated Junketsu. Then she grabbed onto the arm of the Lancelot before the machine, now under Inumuta's control, hurled the Viceroy of Area 11 towards the hotel. Once she was close enough, one of the pauldrons fired from Junketsu with a black cable attached to it where it embedded itself into the building of the twentieth floor of the hotel. Using both the momentum she gained from being thrown and the speed at which Junketsu was pulling itself towards its embedded part, Satsuki entered the twentieth floor through the window with both feet smashing through the glass and into the face of an unfortunate JLF soldier who had just finished loading a magazine into his rifle to shoot her.
The impact snapped the unfortunate soldier's neck before his lifeless body was sent flying across the room before smashing through a door to demonstrate the sheer impact of force the soldier had been hit with.
JLF soldiers were already pouring in to engage Satsuki, but they stood no chance against her. Or so Satsuki was sure of until she saw the weapons the soldiers entering the room had.
Those weapons…they are just like the ones that mercenary Matoi faced was using, Satsuki thought while realizing the potential implications.
Before they could shoot Satsuki with their specialized anti-life fiber weaponry, the Viceroy grabbed a two-seater sofa and tossed it at the soldiers forcing the most to scramble out of the path of the thrown piece of furniture while one was crushed and embedded into the wall outside in the hallway. Confused and preparing to attack Satsuki once she exited from the room, but instead smashed her way through the wall attacking the soldiers on the other side using a combination of the broken debris of the wall and the soldiers themselves as shields to deflect any of their anti-life fiber needles.
Watching everything unfold, using a combination of a laptop showing him footage of the battle through small cameras planted throughout the hotel's floors in advance and a pair of Opera Binoculars during the Lancelot's assault on the hotel was Saihō Harime.
Saihō and his allies were situated upon the rooftop of a tall building, Cloverleaf's Area 11 Division Headquarters, in view of the hotel across the lake.
"Oh my Satsuki is really going to town on them," Saihō replied before eating a handful of popcorn from a bag he was holding in his other hand. "I had our new friend give them their new weapons just to deal with her, and they are failing so spectacularly. I guess I should've known better than to rely on a bunch of ex-military idiots who have proven to be really pathetic."
Saihō laughed devilishly, but ultimately he cared little if the Japan Liberation Front won or not. They were just test subjects used to test his new weapons, but most importantly, they were a distraction.
"Cunningham, have we received confirmation if Mr. Einstein is dead yet?"
"Not yet, but Van Pelt has informed us that Hōjō and his gang should be making their move on Ashford Academy where he has been tracked to hoping to find his daughter," Cunningham answered, causing Saihō's devious smile to widen.
"I guess they must not be very close as father and daughter if he didn't know she was going to be going on a trip with her friends."
"But aren't you worried about Lelouch being exposed as Zero if he is forced to act?"
"Don't worry, I got that covered," Saihō replied.
Around the same time, Lelouch was sitting in his room frustrated, but after speaking with Naoto following up the latter's news of the hotel takeover, it seemed Satsuki would have the matter resolved quicker than he had expected.
It would've been the perfect chance to create an opportunity to expand the Black Knights, but…
Suddenly gunshots ran through the air from outside Lelouch's window.
The sound was followed by students screaming and shouting in panic as Lelouch observed armed men were storming the Ashford Academy, which caused a sense of alarm to shot through Lelouch's mind prompting him to hurry out of his room.
Why are there terrorists invading the school?
As much as Lelouch wanted to know their purpose for invading the school, he was more concerned for Nunnally's safety, so once he made sure she was safe, then he would address the matter of the invasion facing the academy.
Unfortunately, before Lelouch reached the dining room, he heard voices that caused his blood to run cold.
"Hands up all of you," a nameless terrorist shouted followed by the sounds of fright Nunnally was making, but Lelouch deduced judging by that statement it seemed Sayoko was with her.
Damn it, Lelouch thought as he prepared to active Reiketsu, but the nameless terrorist was suddenly attacked before he was thrown out through the window.
Entering the Dining Room, Lelouch was surprised to see Ryūko with Senketsu active and her scissor blade in one hand, although it was risky attacking a terrorist like that when he had his gun leveled at two hostages Lelouch was grateful Nunnally was safe.
"Ryūko," Lelouch began relieved and thankful for her arrival.
"I guess I came at the right time."
"Indeed, but we need to get Nunnally someplace safe. I am sure throwing that guy out the window will draw the attention of his friends very soon." Lelouch said, shoving aside all other concerns and questions focusing on getting Nunnally someplace safe.
"Won't be easy; there are a lot of these guys swarming the place," Ryūko acknowledged.
"Master Lelouch, what about the panic room in the basement?" Sayoko suggested before she began wheeling Nunnally out of the room.
"Good idea she can take refuge in there for the time being," Lelouch said, agreeing to the idea since they had little time and equally insufficiently options for anything else for the time being.
"You should go in there with them," Ryūko suggested, although Lelouch wanted to protest because his pride demanded he should handle this situation, yet logic won the struggle because transforming and revealing his Kamui would create a dangerous complication.
Satsuki was already suspicious of him, and Zero appearing suddenly in Ashford Academy would just make it worse.
"Alright, but I think I can help you from inside that room," Lelouch offered while Ryūko looked at him with a curious expression.
Grabbing and carrying Nunnally and her wheelchair, Ryūko followed Lelouch and Sayoko to the basement of the School Clubhouse, where the group entered a room behind a heavy vault-like door, which was one of two panic rooms located around the academy. Only members of the Ashford Family knew about them, and Lelouch had learned about the existence of the rooms from Milly and Sayoko which had been a factor in his request of settling in the Student Council Clubhouse, especially since it was one of the few buildings with proper wheelchair access at the time Nunnally enrolled.
The room itself had beds, a bathroom, reusable air and water, and enough food and supplies to last its occupants for weeks, but it had a computer terminal with six computer monitors. Lelouch hurried to a supply cabinet next to the terminal to pull out a small wireless earpiece that he gave to Ryūko.
"The terminal in this room can allow me to monitor areas of the academy using hidden cameras scattered around the campus. The cameras are only in use during a dangerous situation that would justify using this room where those inside can communicate with the other side to help direct law enforcement," Lelouch explained as Ryūko accepted the earpiece and put it on her left ear.
"Oh, I get it; you're going to use the system to help direct us through the campus."
Lelouch nodded before adding, "yes, but I can inform you of enemy locations and where they stand, giving you a much bigger advantage. However, most importantly, we can resolve this take over quickly before they have a chance to secure the academy."
"Alright, lock the door once I am out then," Ryūko said as she readied her scissor blade.
"Be careful, Ryūko," Nunnally said worryingly.
"Don't worry, Ryūko is as tough as they come," Lelouch said to reassure as Ryūko left the panic room, but the latter had overheard the compliment causing a smile to grow on her face.
"Alright, let's clean out the school," Ryūko said after the door to the panic room closed behind her.
"We should be careful," Senketsu cautioned, "Remember who told us about this take over happening?"
"I know," Ryūko replied as a look of anger crossed her features for a moment.
A few hours earlier…
Shortly after the sun had set, Ryūko and Mako had managed to return to the Mankanshoku residence without any further trouble, but upon arriving, a delivery man with a package for Ryūko approached her moments later.
"Here you go," the delivery man said, handing a package to Ryūko, who eyed it suspiciously.
As the delivery man walked away, Mako peered over Ryūko's shoulders.
"Who is it from?"
"I don't know it has no return address," Ryūko answered before tossing the package away towards the nearest trash can, "better get rid of it."
"WAIT," Mako shouted as she dived through the air for the package, "what if there is something important in there, or maybe you won a prize!"
Mako grabbed the package before proceeding to tear it open.
"NO MAKO IT COULD BE A BOMB!" Ryūko cried out, worried it could be an explosive sent by one of the students seeking to gain favor with Satsuki or a mercenary seeking to collect the bounty on her head by using a bomb to take her out. "Mako people have sent bombs in the mail, especially this terrorist group I heard about in…"
Mako completely ignoring Ryūko had finished tearing apart the package, but was seemingly disappointed by finding only a cellphone with a charger inside the box upon opening it.
"Well, that sucks it's just a dumb phone," Mako remarked clearly disappointed while Ryūko breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn't a bomb.
"You really shouldn't open packages with no return address," Ryūko scolded, "who knows what could've..."
Ryūko was interrupted by the cellphone ringing.
"Hello," Mako said, quickly answering it before listening to the caller, "oh, it's for you, Ryūko."
Ryūko was understandably hesitant, but she accepted the phone from Mako.
"Uh hello," Ryūko asked, having a bad feeling about this.
"Ryūko Matoi, I am glad we can finally talk. I used to work with your father as a lab assistant," Saihō Harime said, introducing himself. "My name is Saihō Harime."
"My dad's lab assistant!"
"Yes, and unlike that stripping exhibitionist idiot Mikisugi, I have all of the answers you want, including who killed your father and more…"
"You know who killed my dad?"
"Yes, but most importantly, I know a few things Zero and even Mikisugi know nothing of. Like who Zero is," Saihō began before grinning evilly on the other side, "and where your mother is including her identity?"
"I have worked with your father far longer than Mikisugi has, so I know much more. I know secrets your father has taken to his grave, or so he would've liked to believe. We even made Zero's Kamui together before he made Senketsu on his own."
"You created Reiketsu with my dad," Ryūko said as she quietly listened, but her expression was one of complete shock. "Hold on, but my dad said my mother died when I was born?"
"Well, that isn't true, but rest assured your father had a good reason for telling you that lie. They conducted research and experimented on life fibers together until they had a very nasty falling out, and they separated. Your dad kept you while your mother kept your older sister," Saihō happily revealed with a toothy grin upon his face.
Ryūko's eyes widened, "I HAVE A SISTER!"
The declaration somehow sent Mako comically off her feet.
"Yup," Saihō Harime answered, "and I'll gladly reveal everything to you. However, I need you to prove to me you have mastered your Kamui because if you want your father's killer, you're going to have to master that Kamui of yours if you want to stand any chance of taking them on."
Ryūko's surprise at the revelations passed before asking a question of her own, "Hey, do I know you aren't bullshiting me?"
"Fair point," Saihō offered in agreement, "granted we just meet so you have no reason to trust me, so I'll give you a freebie you can check with a friend to verify the creditability of what I am offering."
"Well ok," Ryūko replied, but she was somewhat suspicious because it was too good to be true.
"Your friend Lelouch Lamperouge," Saihō Harime began, "his real name is Lelouch vi Britannia. The presumed dead prince exiled to Japan seven years ago to be used alongside his sister as political bargaining tools before they were left to die in Japan when the war began. After their mother was murdered and his sister crippled in that same incident, they were cast out by the Britannian Emperor when Lelouch confronted the Emperor on his failure to protect his mother and sister."
Ryūko was left speechless, but her stunned expression was clear.
"Your silence speaks volumes, Ryūko," Saihō mused.
"That can't be true, could it?"
"I understand something like that is hard to believe, but I promise you it's true. You can ask Lelouch himself, provided he isn't killed by terrorists planning to invade Ashford Academy."
Ryūko was once more surprised, but this time it was mixed with a degree of concern for Lelouch. "You got to be kidding, but how do you know something like that?"
"I am very well connected, and like I said, I know a lot more than anyone else claiming they have answers with Zero perhaps second to me," Saihō admitted proudly.
"You got to be bullshitting me!"
"It's not, but it's up to you what to do with this information," Saihō warned. "Just blame yourself if Lelouch and his sister end up dead. I'll call again tomorrow, so don't lose this phone."
Saihō hung up, leaving Ryūko, whose expression was intermixed with anger, annoyance, and concern.
"Hey Ryūko, what's wrong," Mako asked, seemingly unaware of what was discussed.
With a sigh, Ryūko calmed herself, "Mako, I need you to stay here."
Returning to the present, Ryūko had arrived in time to save Lelouch and Nunnally, but she was still angry not at herself or Lelouch, but it was directed at those offering answers, then leading her like a rat in a maze.
In fact, she wanted to find her father's killer more than taking out terrorists and liberating a high school, but Ryūko still lacked any information that could lead her to her father's killer. The only ones who possessed any meaningful leads were Satsuki, Mikisugi, and Zero.
Lelouch, on the other hand, was not only connected to Zero, but he was someone whom she could relate to more and much easier to talk to without having to endure an unwanted striptease by a hardcore exhibitionist or being attacked by Satsuki's underlings.
They had both lost parents dear to them, and Lelouch wanted revenge. However, unlike her, Lelouch wasn't in a position to carry that out due to the need to care for his sister and other factors. Regardless that only made Lelouch more preferable to talk to than Satsuki and Mikisugi.
More so than that, Ryūko could hopefully convince Lelouch to help her with her homework sometime.
"Are you alright Ryūko?"
"I am fine, Senketsu, but I am not in a good mood, so I am just going to vent on these idiots!"
Upon leaving the basement, Ryūko happened upon six armed men, but thanks to her Kamui, which no ordinary firearm could harm, and her scissor blade, the six-armed Japanese gangsters didn't stand a chance.
Around the same time inside a dorm room was a man in his late forties dressed in a black business suit with dark green hair and blue eyes wearing glasses trying to find a place to hide from the invading terrorists, but the door leading into the dorm was smashed open before two armed men stormed the room. Before Nina's father could plead for his life, the two Japanese men gunned him down with their assault rifles.
"N-Nina," came the last words of Nina Einstein's father.
Once the deed was done, one of the men pulled out a camera while the other checked the slain man to ensure he was dead. After that, they took a picture of the body, and then the pair exited the room.
Back at the Lake Kawaguchi Convention Center Hotel, the Japan Liberation Front had tried in vain to stop Satsuki from ruthlessly cutting down their fellow soldiers. Despite possessing weapons capable of inflicting damage and hindering those wearing uniforms made of Life Fibers, they couldn't stop Satsuki. Using the Hotel itself to her advantage Satsuki used the walls, doors, and even the bodies of the soldiers she has slain to her advantage. Aside from using them as shields or make-shift projectile weapons, Satsuki also used the combat knives the soldiers carried to swiftly dispatch some creating panic among those who remained.
Thus making them easier for Satsuki to dispatch with her sword.
Given the number of the ones she had cut down Satsuki knew there shouldn't be many of them left, but as she drew closer to where the hostages were, she came face to face with the leader of the JLF soldiers who led them on what would be an ill-fated hotel take over.
Suddenly someone erupted from the wall near Satsuki catching her by surprise, but she retreated into another hotel room by smashing through one of the doors.
"I thought those weapons we were given would've stopped you, but maybe this might do the trick," Kusakabe declared angrily. "Maybe this should help!"
Satsuki was slightly surprised to see Kusakabe because compared to how she had seen him in a video hours ago when first making his demands, he was relatively normal wearing a uniform with black hair and a beard.
Now he stood a towering seven feet tall with a large muscular body; although he was shirtless, his pants and boots remained while in both hands he held a pair of Katanas.
"So the JLF is resorting to drugs now," Satsuki said with her tone indicating she was less than impressed.
"These drugs aren't what you think," Kusakabe boldly declared, "in fact, I think I can take you on."
"How arrogant," Satsuki replied before passing Kusakabe with blinding speed while having cut him clear through the waist in passing.
However, despite being cut in half, Kusakabe was still standing, and to Satsuki's surprise, the wound she had inflicted had quickly healed.
Impossible, Satsuki thought before Kusakabe began laughing.
"That hurt, but I am still standing!"
Before Kusakabe could recover, Satsuki tried to behead him while using a second pass to cut off his legs just in case.
Despite losing his head, Kusakabe was still alive as familiar red threads emerged from his body, where his head and legs were separated to literally pull himself back together while healing the damage.
Those are life-fibers, but how, Satsuki said finding herself baffled over the fact that Kusakabe's body had life-fibers infused into it somehow, which as far as Satsuki knew such a process shouldn't be possible.
Now fully recovered, Kusakabe rushed Satsuki with an apparent increase in speed, bordering on superhuman with the strength to match, but thanks to possessing her own Kamui, the Viceroy of Area 11 parried each of Kusakabe's blows without much difficulty.
"I must thank the one who gave me such a potent formula. If we had enough, we could overthrow Britannia and free Japan with an entire army of people like me," Kusakabe declared.
"Don't be foolish," Satsuki spat without hiding the disgust in her voice, "I doubt whoever gave you whatever gave you your new abilities didn't do so out of kindness."
Satsuki was confident she could take down Kusakabe, but ensuring he actually stayed down was the problem.
However, a thought came to mind as she recalled what she had learned from reports regarding Matoi's fight against O'Malley.
Skillfully side-stepping her foe Satsuki cut off one of Kusakabe's hands, allowing her to grab the katana it had been holding.
"Just give it up, you traitor," Kusakabe mocked, "You can't kill me."
"Actually," Satsuki replied, now wielding her sword with the one Kusakabe once held in each hand, "if I am right, then I think I can."
"Don't be foolish I cannot die," Kusakabe shouted before charging, but Satsuki effortlessly dodged the attack before using both swords together to swiftly decapitate Kusakabe leaving only his head attached to his body.
However, unlike before, Kusakabe's limbs were not reattaching themselves but instead laid there with them breaking down into life fibers instead.
"WHAT, HOW I AM SUPPOSED TO BE UNKILLABLE," Kusakabe shouted with his voice a mixture of rage and panic.
"As I suspected, your regeneration abilities were owed to the life-fibers fused with your body along with your strength and speed. Cut life-fibers in a scissor-like motion and that will deprive them of their ability to regenerate, which is why you were given twin katanas to use against me which are made out of a material similar to my own blade," Satsuki explained with a smirk of satisfaction before examining one of Kusakabe's katanas she had taken from him.
I suspected as much this blade is similar to my Bakuzan, Satsuki thought as Gino and Sanageyama entered the room.
"Lady Satsuki," Sanageyama said ready to join the battle but was surprised to see it was over.
"I assume this means all of the hostages have been evacuated," Satsuki asked passively.
"They have been, so we began mopping up any remaining stragglers," Gino replied before noticing Kusakabe.
"Take him with us," Satsuki ordered, "I intend to interrogate him about where he got these anti-life fiber weapons from and what exactly did he use to augment himself."
"Yes my lady," Sanageyama replied before Gino began helping him to move the crippled Kusakabe.
What a busy day I've had, but never a dull moment in Area 11, Gino thought contently to himself as he assisted Sanageyama.
As they were making their way to a waiting VTOL transport to escape the sinking hotel.
"Forgive me, Lady Satsuki, but I have something troubling to report," Inumuta began speaking to Satsuki through the earpiece she was still wearing.
"What is it," Satsuki replied as she transformed Junketsu back into its standard form.
"We have received reports of a terrorist take over at Ashford Academy," Inumuta answered.
Satsuki's eyes narrowed as she picked up a reason Inumuta would bring this to her attention so suddenly.
"What is so special about this incident compared to this one?"
"There are two matters that make this incident stand out, and first being that the Matoi girl is currently engaging the terrorists," Inumuta replied.
"And there is something else, isn't there?"
"Yes, and the report states some of the terrorists have displayed what they have described as superhuman strength and regeneration," Inumuta revealed, causing Satsuki's eyes to widen in surprise as realization dawned on her.
Was the takeover of this hotel meant as a diversion?
Atop the roof where Saihō Harime was sitting, he observed Satsuki's reaction causing the young man to smile deviously.
A/N: Well Lelouch is going to have his hands full since Ryūko now knows who Lelouch is, and Satsuki recognizing events with the Hotel Takeover was a distraction to divert from a more critical target being Nina's own father at Ashford Academy.
Furthermore Satsuki will be busy tracking down the one who provided Kusakabe and the ones attacking Ashford Academy their weapons and whatever concoction Kusuabke was given that allowed him to become a Life-Fiber Hybrid, or so it seems.
The next chapter will cover Ryūko's side of events and the clean up of Ashford Academy including its aftermath for Lelouch, Nunnally, and Nina.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your feedback and reviews.