Code Geass: The Shattered Mosaic

By Juubi-K

A single choice can change the course of history. But no choice stands alone. Our choices form a tapestry, a mosaic that encompasses the whole world. If merely one choice is different, in the right time and place, then the mosaic is shattered.

In the year 2010 ATB, the Holy Empire of Britannia conquered the nation of Japan; in the hope of seizing its reserves of precious Sakuradite, and using them to fuel a campaign that would conquer the whole world. For seven years Japan languished under Britannian rule, stripped of its name and identity, condemned to live on as Area Eleven.

But in the year 2017, the world changed. For in that year a young Britannian, Lelouch Lamperouge, vowed to destroy Britannia, and remake the cruel world it symbolized. For he had been born Lelouch vi Britannia, Seventh Prince of the Holy Empire of Britannia, a heritage he willingly abandoned when his mother was murdered, and his father - the 98th Emperor Charles zi Britannia - cast him and his sister Nunnally out. To destroy Britannia, and build a better world for his sister, he accepted the power an immortal girl offered him; the Power of the King, called Geass.

He became Zero.

But for all his success, he could not escape his past. For his half-sister, Princess Euphemia li Britannia, sought to bring peace to a tormented world in her own way. To that effect, she began a plan of her own, to establish within Area Eleven a Special Autonomous Zone of Japan; a place in which downtrodden Elevens could live as Japanese, their freedom and identity restored. For Zero this was a disaster; threatening to undo all he had accomplished. He vowed to ruin Euphemia's plan, even at the cost of his own life.

But it was not his life that would be sacrificed. Nor was it his decision that would set destiny in motion. Regardless, the Mosaic that was his life, his fate, was shattered. And his life would take a new and very different path. For while any fool can destroy, only a few can truly build.

Whether as Zero, or as Lelouch, he must remake his Shattered Mosaic.

Chapter One

It is the cause, not the death, that makes the martyr.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Special Autonomous Region, Area 11, September 2017

The stadium was packed to overflowing.

That should have surprised no one. When the announcement had been made, only a few weeks earlier, it had sent shockwaves across Area 11; the small cluster of islands just off the Pacific coast of South-east Asia that had once been known as Japan. Among the downtrodden and despised Elevens, as the native people of those islands were now known, it had brought excitement and argument, and something that most of them had not known in nearly eight years.

Hope. Hope that the poverty and suffering they had endured for so many years might finally end. Hope that they might finally be treated as human beings rather than serfs, or mere obstacles to Britannia's ambitions. Hope that in the new Special Autonomous Region of Japan, they might finally reclaim something of what was lost.

Kyosuke Tenryo was not one of those who felt hope. Nor did he feel excitement, or joy, or any of the other emotions hovering like a bad smell in the air around him. If he had, he would not be doing what he intended to do.

The seats, enough for well over a hundred thousand people, were by that point all full. Crowds still swarmed into the stadium, passing through the enormous gates sent into the diagonal corners between the stands, watched and marshalled by soldiers of the Holy Empire of Britannia, who since that terrible month of August in 2010 had claimed absolute sovereignty over the islands of Japan. They wore their customary grey fatigues and armour, their faces hidden behind air filters and black, insectile visors.

There was no violence, no unpleasantness beyond raised voices. But there could be no missing the assault rifles in their hands, or slung over their shoulders. The Britannians were taking no chances.

It was all Kyosuke could do to keep a straight face as he followed the crowd into the stadium. He wanted to scream, to curse them for their stupidity, their weakness. For over seven years he had survived amid the ruins of his once proud and mighty country. He had drunk water from streams or broken pipes, salvaged scrap metal to make a little money, fallen asleep with a growling empty stomach. He had run and hidden as Britannian aircraft passed overhead, or foot patrols passed by. He had kept his head down, never looked them in the eye, never done anything to really draw their attention.

All the while smothering his own heart, crushing down the anger and hatred, the yearning to throw himself at the nearest Britannian and strangle the life out of him, even if all it got him was a bullet. So many times it had seemed the better choice, better than living on in that squalor, hearing children cry with hunger, seeing his own family wither away for want of food, or rotting in their own filth when the cholera passed through.

But he still had his pride, still had his name. He was still Japanese! That they would never take from him! That they could not take from him, for being Japanese was not something that could just be taken away.

But it could be thrown away. The Honourary Britannians had thrown it away, when they filled in the form and pledged themselves to the empire that had destroyed their homeland. And for what reward? To be allowed to live and work in the settlements; the beautiful, luxurious cities the Britannians had built for themselves amid the ruins of Japan's own cities. To do the worst jobs, for as little pay as would induce them to turn up, to be spat upon and abused by Britannian masters who would never entirely trust them, for their own children to be born and raised not as Japanese, but as Britannians; their heritage denied them, their souls lost.

He had done it too. It was a fact that haunted him, as he allowed the crowd to carry him along. He too had filled in the form, and collected the ID that sat in his breast pocket, a terrible, mocking weight hanging over his heart. It was necessary, the others had told him, a means to an end; and they were right. With it, he had been able to come and go as he liked, barely even noticed. He had been able to help the others, and get stuff done.

Including building this place, and working here. That had to be fate, it just had to be.

Because in this mighty stadium, which Japanese labourers on slave pay had struggled and suffered to build, a new age would be announced. A Special Autonomous Region in the shadow of Mount Fuji, a place where the Japanese could be Britannian citizens and Japanese, no longer Elevens, no longer things to be abused and exploited.

They believed it. The fools around him believed it. They believed that ridiculous Princess – that pink-haired Euphemia li Britannia - and her even more ridiculous promises. At the time he had wanted to spit, to scream, to kill something.

He wasn't angry. Not any more. The anger had faded, as he saw where the grand opening was to be held, and his destiny was revealed. He had known, in that very moment, what he had to do.

Kyosuke pushed his way through the crowd, emerging just outside the south-west tunnel. With the casual automatism of one who had worked there for years, he strode towards the door set into the wall a few metres along from the tunnel mouth; the one marked STAFF ONLY. He stepped up to the door, and showed his ID to the Britannian soldier guarding it. The soldier checked it, glanced at him, checked it again, and then opened the door without a word. Kyosuke stepped around him and through the door, also without a word.

The corridors and rooms beyond were largely deserted. All staff members were out on duty, helping to marshal the crowds and keep the whole stadium in working order. Following a path so well-worn he could walk it blindfolded, Kyosuke strode into the men's locker room, which was itself deserted. Amid the stink of sweat and deodorant, he changed into his work uniform and locked the locker. There wasn't really much need, but it wouldn't do to act strangely either.

This done, he went to the equipment store and signed out a toolbox, then headed down a long corridor towards a particular door; one behind which stood a staircase leading up to the very top of the stadium, to the galleries where the loudspeakers and floodlights could be accessed for maintenance or replacement. From there, he could carry out his plan.


Kyosuke paused, just before the door, as Mitsuo Sasaki came striding towards him. Sasaki was the last person he wanted to encounter. An infuriating busybody with a penchant for power-tripping, Sasaki might ruin his plan without ever realising.

"What are you doing here?" demanded Sasaki. "You're needed out on the field! Zero showed up and he's talking with the princess! The crowd's getting excited!"

Kyosuke's blood ran cold. Zero? He had come after all? And he was talking with Euphemia? What was going on?

"Shimizu-san asked me to check on the north-west loudspeakers," he forced himself to reply. "17B was acting up again last night, and he wants it checked."

"He said the loudspeakers were all working!" snapped Sasaki, taking the bait.

"They were, Sasaski-san" Kyosuke went on, keeping his tone respectful. "But he asked me to make sure."

Sasaki looked furious, and Kyosuke felt his heart skip a beat. This could all go wrong quite suddenly.

"Do it!" barked Sasaki. "Check the others while you're at it! But don't hang around!"

He stormed off down the corridor. Doubtless he was going to yell at Shimizu, who was – if Kyosuke remembered right – at the other end of the stadium. He would demand to know why Shimizu had not reported problems with the loudspeakers, and Shimizu would swear blind that all was well; as indeed it had been the night before. By the time they stopped yelling at eachother, and realised that something was amiss, it would be too late.

Except he couldn't go on. He couldn't move, or think. Zero? Talking with the princess?

He couldn't believe it. He didn't want to believe it, any more than any of his comrades had done. Zero was their leader, their hopes personified. He had scoffed at the Black Knights at first, back when they were just a bunch of show-offs with a leader in a silly costume, but they had achieved more in their first three months than most groups had managed in a year! They were going places, getting things done!

Had the dark mutterings been true? Was he really just some agent provocateur sent by one of the superpowers?

Kyosuke shook his head, and stepped through the door. If Zero really was betraying his followers, then it was all the more reason to carry out his mission.

He closed the door behind him, and hurried up the stairs to the maintenance gallery. He could hear the rumble of the crowds as he strode along, his eyes fixed on the north-west corner, where the supposedly-malfunctioning loudspeaker was located.


Kyosuke's blood ran cold as yet another Britannian soldier strode towards him. Of course they would have guards on the maintenance gantry. They weren't that stupid, were they?

Kyosuke held still, staying quiet and submissive, while the soldier patted him down and checked his toolbox. Finding nothing, the soldier gestured for him to go on. Kyosuke hurried past, bobbing and bowing for effect, playing up the Britannian stereotype of the diffident, pathetic Eleven. It made him sick to his stomach, but it almost always worked.

He reached the northwest corner. What awaited him was a large room, all but invisible from the field, set right into the reinforced concrete of the outer wall. From there, via ladders reaching into the ceiling and maintenance panels set into the wall, he could reach all the loudspeakers and floodlights in that corner. There was also a window cut into the concrete, giving him a clear view of the field, and the rostrum.

He glanced through. The guests were taking their seats to either side of the red carpet, but no sign of the princess yet. He still had time.

He looked around, and remembered the ladder he had used a week earlier, when he had last checked his stash. He clambered up, and found himself in a dark tunnel leading up to the roof. It was full of electrical equipment; most of which he could never remember the name of, despite his cover story. The roar of the crowd was deafening, overwhelming.

Kyosuke forced himself to stay calm as he looked around, trying to find the panel where he had hidden his stash. Upon seeing it, he put down his toolbox on a convenient ledge and took out a screwdriver.

To his relief, the panel came away just as it had before. He reached around inside, and found the bag he had last checked a week earlier. He pulled it out, dropped it into the toolbox, then climbed back down.

Mercifully, the room was still clear. It would only take him a few moments to get ready, but a soldier could come wandering by at any moment. He took a quick glance along the corridors, and saw no one.

He had minutes at the most.

Kyosuke opened the toolbox, took out the bag, and began carefully laying out the parts inside; the parts he had so carefully smuggled into the stadium through the chaos of construction. Seeing that they were intact, he began to slot them together; as he had done so many times before.

His weapon took shape. A Sazonov SVD-75, one of hundreds or thousands smuggled into Japan by black-market arms dealers for sale to resistance groups and criminal syndicates. It was a weapon he had used many times in service to various resistance groups, and more recently to the Black Knights. He had discovered many years ago that he had a talent for such weapons, for killing at a distance; his greatest contribution to the cause of Japan.

His greatest, and last contribution.

Carefully, willing his pounding heart to slow, he screwed the detached barrel into place, and then the stock. He slid in the clip, and checked the power pack. All working. All ready.

He slid the window pane aside and looked out. The stadium was packed, a great ocean of humanity heaving and undulating below him. He could make out soldiers lining the edges of the field, and the much larger shapes of knightmare frames; purple Gloucester units with long black capes and enormous lances held like ceremonial halberds. Impressive to look at, but Kyosuke could also see the 20mm assault rifles in their other hands.

If even one of those machines spotted him, they'd be scraping his remains off the walls. But if he had judged the angle right, they wouldn't be able to see him; not from down there anyway.

He focussed his attention on the rostrum, set into the middle of the south stand. Behind it was an ornate square tower, where the most luxurious skyboxes were, and behind which stood the Princess' MCV, on which she had arrived earlier. A tunnel led through the tower and opened onto the rostrum, with a wide red carpet running down the centre. To either side stood a line of high-backed thrones, upon which the most important guests sat. A bunch of Britannian dignitaries, none of whom he recognized except for one.

General Andreas Darlton, the Vicereine's grizzled old mastiff. No sign of his mistress though. Rumour had it that Princess Cornelia wanted nothing to do with her little sister's scheme. Doubtless he had been sent for the look of the thing, or maybe in case of a crisis.

"What're you…!"

Kyosuke almost voided his bowels as he heard the barked command behind him. He spun around, and saw a Britannian soldier down there. The man was still, frozen, as if he could not believe what he was seeing.

On instinct, he levelled the rifle. The soldier brought his up, but Kyosuke was just slightly faster. The bullet struck him in the neck, knocking him backward, his breath gurgling through his respirator. He hit the wall and slid down, leaving a trail of blood on the concrete.

Kyosuke swore. It didn't seem like the crowd had heard; good thing he remembered the silencer. But he had minutes at most before the other soldiers wondered what had become of their now-dead comrade.

He grabbed at the dead soldier's feet, and dragged it inside, out of sight of the corridor. He turned back to the window, praying to Gods he didn't really believe in that Euphemia would appear soon. If not, he was doomed, and this was all for nothing.

And there she was, just appearing from the mouth of the tunnel. Kyosuke blinked in momentary surprise, for despite the gown and hoop skirt she was wearing, she was racing down the red carpet at a dead run. He saw Darlton stand up, looking at her in what looked, through his scope, like mild astonishment.

A strange calm settled over Kyosuke as he flicked off the safety and settled the crosshairs on Euphemia, following her as she came to a halt at the head of the rostrum, right where he had expected her to. For a moment such as this, it seemed curiously anticlimactic, almost peaceful.

As if the world had slowed down.

The crowds perked up as Princess Euphemia finally appeared.

But their happiness turned to surprise as she hurried down the red carpet, her pink and white gown billowing as she ran; a strange, faraway look on her face. There was no sign of Zero either. Darlton stood up, as if to ask her what was going on. But she ignored him.

"I have a very important request to make!" she called out, coming to a halt in the front-centre of the rostrum. "Will all those who consider themselves Japanese…!"

Then she paused, and swayed backwards, the strange smile fading from her face. Then the mutterings turned to a chorus of gasps as she toppled over backwards, the gasps turning to screams as the pink breast of her gown turned red as she fell.


The cry had just long enough to escape Darlton's lips before he too toppled backward, blood flying from a black hole in the chest of his maroon coat.

One of the purple knightmares was already raising its rifle, aiming one-handed at the northwest corner of the stadium. It fired, sending a stream of bullets the size of a man's finger straight into the corner.

Clouds of concrete dust and debris rained down onto those unfortunate enough to be seated underneath. A groan of twisting metal echoed forth, and the shattered remnants of loudspeakers and floodlights fell down onto the crowd. The people surged, leaping from their seats to avoid the falling wreckage, a wave of humanity pushing out and away across the stands, driving the hapless stewards ahead of it or crushing them underfoot.

The wave reached the field, as desperate people clambered over the barriers and pushed for the exits. Those on the field were pushed forward, slamming into the line of soldiers forming up in front of the rostrum. Some of the soldiers fell down, and the others fought back, beating at the crowd with their rifle butts. At first the crowd fell back, yelling and clutching at bleeding faces, some crying for mercy, others roaring their anger.

They could not see the faces of the soldiers. They did not see men as frightened and confused as themselves, only faceless bullies battering and hurting them. They bellowed and screamed, and the soldiers levelled their rifles, roaring at them to back down; but most of the Japanese spoke no English, and could not understand.

Then someone threw a chair. It curled through the air, and slammed into one of the soldiers. An instant later more chairs were flying, one of them barely missing the medical team rushing to Princess Euphemia's side.

It only took one to react. A rush of adrenalin, a lightning-fast nerve response, a finger tightening on a trigger.

A rifle fired, unleashing a steam of bullets into the nearest body, tearing it open in a welter of blood, and passing through to strike another, and another, until they could go no further.

The roars became cries. The bellows of rage became shrieks of terror. The crowd crumbled away from the soldiers, like a wave receding down a beach. More and more fired, and more and more of the crowd fell, their blood soaking and pooling on the grass around them. Ahead, the crowds slammed into the tunnels, pushing and shoving, heedless of all around them. Any who fell were crushed, while countless more were crushed or suffocated on their feet, the crowd carrying their bodies along.

The only sound was a long, cacophonous scream.


The word was powerless, meaningless; but Lelouch Lamperouge could not stop it from escaping his lips.

He stood where he had frozen, just before the mouth of the tunnel, on the wide red carpet that led to the rostrum. Behind him lay the unconscious forms of Suzaku Kururugi and three OSI bodyguards. Before him, at the other end of the tunnel, was a vision of hell.

How could it happen? How could he have done it? Why now, at that precise moment? How could the power of Geass, his power, betray him so completely, and at such a moment?"

"…kill all the Japanese!"

He had not meant it. He had not wanted it to happen, not really! It had just been a moment of pique, a childish fancy! He hadn't wanted this!

And yet it had happened. Though she had screamed and pleaded, the command had taken root. She had turned from him, and fled from the MCV, looming cold and silent behind him. He had raced after her, begging her to stop, knowing that it was useless. He had followed her out of the MCV, past her unconscious knight and bodyguards, and had seen her reach the rostrum, and call out to the crowd.

He had seen her fall, and all hell break loose.

No! No it wasn't his fault! He hadn't done that! He hadn't shot her! He hadn't let those soldiers fire on the crowd! It was an accident, a mistake! It was Britannia's fault, not his!

"Hey! You there!"

He froze once again, his horrid reverie vanishing as two guardsmen, clad in the red infantry uniforms of Royal foot guards, emerged from the tunnel, rifles at the ready. They looked at him, standing there in the costume of Zero, his face and deadly, treacherous eye hidden. They looked at the bodies lying behind him on the red carpet. At him, at the bodies, at him again.

In any other time and place, it would have been farcical.


The guardsmen aimed their rifles. Lelouch felt despair settle over him.

Then a mighty arm slammed down, their bullets bouncing off it. The arm was black, lined with shining gold.

"Come on! We have to go!"

The voice was familiar, though distorted by a knightmare's loudspeaker. The Gawain, which had stood silently to his left, reached for him with its free hand, grabbing him like a doll. With a whoosh of displaced air, the mighty knightmare lifted off, carrying him up and away.

Lelouch felt the wind buffet him, his cape whipping and cracking, as the golden hand reached him up towards the cockpit. The cockpit opened, and dropped him unceremoniously into his seat.

"Are you all right?" asked CC, looking up at him from her pilot's chair, below and in front of his own.

"I…I didn't mean it…" babbled Lelouch, clawing at his mask and pulling it off, breathing hard and fast to still his hammering heart. "I didn't want to…!"

"I know." There was something sad, and knowing, in the green-haired girl's tone. "It was the same with Mao. It just…happened out of nowhere."

"What about Suzaku?" demanded Lelouch. Through his screen he could see the young knight, still lying on the red carpet, oblivious to all that had happened. Those three OSI types hadn't moved either.

"That was mostly me," CC replied, returning her attention to the controls. "He…sensed me somehow. And then it happened, and he just collapsed."

Lelouch looked down at the sleeping knight again. His heart ached, his sorrow mingling with the horrid dread and cloying despair that slammed around his soul like waves against a cliff.

Suzaku Kururugi, the Japanese who had become a Britannian. Suzaku, who had been his dearest friend, and then his enemy, and then his beloved half-sister's knight…and perhaps something more. Suzaku, who had sold his soul to an evil empire that he might suffer and die for his sins. Suzaku, who had found redemption in the eyes of Euphemia li Britannia.

"What have I done? What have I allowed to happen?"

"What happened?" he managed to ask, as CC banked the Gawain away from the stadium. "What was it?"

"A sniper, apparently," she replied, with her usual equanimity. "Euphemia was hit, and then Darlton. The crowd stampeded, then the troops ran wild."

A beeping drew his attention. He brought up the sensors on his main screen, and saw an aircraft approaching the stadium. A moment later the registry entry appeared; a Britannian medical shuttle.

Then he remembered, and tapped at the comm panel. The comm came online, in voice-only mode as usual, and with his voice distorted the way his mask did. It was a good thing he had already programmed those little features in. In his current state, he would neither have remembered nor cared.

"Zero!" It was Kallen Kozuki, Captain of his bodyguards, leader of the small force he had stationed in the forests nearby. "What's going on? The comms are going crazy! They're saying Euphemia's been shot!"

"She has!" Lelouch confirmed, forcing himself to sound commanding. "Her and Darlton! The Britannians are running wild!"

"Zero! Where are you? I'm coming!"

"Don't worry about me! I'm in the Gawain overhead! Just get in here and stop the Britannians!"

He tapped at the keyboard, and a frame appeared around the shuttle's icon.

"There's a medical shuttle approaching the stadium!" he went on. "I've marked it on the battlenet. Leave it alone, but engage and destroy anything else!"


The comm went silent. Lelouch sagged in his seat, emotionally and physically drained.

CC had the decency not to say anything.

Kallen Kozuki felt sick; a sickness that warred with pure, volcanic rage inside her.

They were being killed. Her people were being killed, slaughtered like animals.

Her knightmare, the Guren Nishiki, leapt over the rough ground as lightly as an acrobat. She had long since mastered it, its Neural Synchronizer reacting to her smallest impulse as if the Guren was her own body. It was something to be proud of even then; a visceral, vengeful pride, suitable for a warrior racing into battle.

Behind her was the rest of Zero Squadron, their icons visible on the sensor screen in front of her. A few had gotten the new Gekkas, but most were piloting the older Burais; little more than copies of the Britannian Glasgow. They weren't bad machines by any fair measure, but they couldn't keep up with her Guren, not easily anyway.

"Everyone! Keep up!" she barked into the comm. "People are dying out there!"

"Easy for you!" snapped Shinichiro Tamaki, already quite a way behind. "There's loads of rocks and trees here!"

Kallen gritted her teeth. She didn't mind people being attached to her unit, but why did she have to get stuck with him? Tamaki had wrecked more knightmares than anyone else in the Black Knights!

All at once they were out of the forest and onto flat ground; the buildings of the SAR just visible. She could see the people, the crowds swarming out of the streets surrounding the stadium, dissipating like smoke into the nearby fields.

Two knightmares – a pair of blue Sutherlands – rounded a corner and raced into view, firing bursts into the crowd. Kallen's breath caught in her throat as she saw the heavy 20mm bullets strike home, throwing their targets to the ground in showers of blood.

She snarled, and slammed down the pedals. The Guren accelerated, quickly reaching full speed on the asphalt road. The two Sutherlands saw her, and levelled their weapons; oversized assault rifles scaled for a knightmare to carry. They fired, their shooting wild and sloppy. Kallen dodged easily, slewing the Guren left and right as she closed. A part of her knew she should use the autocannon on her knightmare's left wrist, but her bloodlust got the better of her.

She reached the nearest Sutherland. The blue-painted knightmare tried to back away, but Kallen was upon him, taking off his head with a slash of her fork knife. The Sutherland staggered, and Kallen lashed out with her right leg, knocking the headless knightmare to the ground. She levelled her autocannon, ready to finish him off.

"Damned Eleven!" His partner threw himself at her, Stun Tonfa emerging from his Sutherland's wrists. Kallen dodged just in time, the crackling electrodes flashing past, then thrust the Guren's oversized right hand straight at him. The clawed hand responded to her impulse, clenching around the Sutherland's plastron. She squeezed the trigger, snarling with fury as the Fukushahado activated, pouring microwave radiation straight into the helpless Sutherland. The screens before her face showed her all; the gleaming armour bubbling and distorting as the microwaves did their work.

"Filthy Eleven!" shrieked the doomed pilot over his loudspeaker. "Filthy, murdering, treacherous…!"

Then the microwaves reached his Yggdrassil drive, and exposed the liquid sakuradite at its core. The knightmare blew up, the blast buffeting the Guren and hurling half-melted debris in all directions.

It was done. Kallen remembered the other Sutherland and looked around, but the wrecked knightmare lay where it had fallen; the cockpit hatch hanging open.

For a moment, she thought of going after the pilot, of hunting him down through the streets of the Special Autonomous Zone, of slaking her rage with his blood and terror. She imagined herself cornering the wretch, of tearing him limb from limb, his blood mingling with the blood of countless innocent Japanese; blood for blood.

She stopped herself, driving the thought away. She had a job to do, and a unit to lead.

She glanced around. She saw more Burais go racing past, squad leaders on point, the rest in formation behind. They, at least, had managed to keep their heads on straight. Time to do likewise.

"All squads, spread out and keep watch for enemy forces!" she barked into the comm. "Engage and destroy! Watch out for the civilians!"

A chorus of affirmatives came back over the comm, but she barely noticed. She was watching the sky, looking around for the Gawain.

There it was, hovering near the stadium; its armour of black and gold gleaming in the sunlight, its wings glowing a spectral green. It loomed overhead, like some nightmarish angel of death.

And there was something else too. A Britannian VTOL shuttle, hovering just over the field. Kallen zoomed in her camera, and saw ascension cables dropping down from the shuttle. It was clearly the medical shuttle Zero had mentioned; the one he had insisted she not shoot at.

Her trigger finger twitched, and for a moment – a cold, dark moment – she contemplated disobeying. The only people on that shuttle would be Britannians; high-class, maybe even Royal. Was it so wrong to blow away an unarmed medical shuttle, for a chance to rid the world of a few more parasites? Would Zero be all that angry if she did?

For all the temptation, she knew that he would. She was Kallen Kozuki, Captain of Zero Squadron, leader of his bodyguards. He valued her, maybe even trusted her; for never once had she disobeyed him, or let him down.

He had ordered her to spare that shuttle. That was enough. No matter what else was going on, or however else she felt.

"Sir Gilbert! We have to go!"

Sir Gilbert Guilford, Knight of Honour to her Imperial Highness, Princess Cornelia, glared at the horror around him.

Standing on the rostrum, he could see it all with terrible clarity. The once-magnificent stadium was an abattoir, the hopeful throng replaced with the dead and dying. In the blink of an eye, magnificent possibility had become utter atrocity.

And he would probably never know why.

He turned, and glared at the guardsman who had called out to him. Whereas the guardsmen wore red versions of the standard infantry formal uniform - with its distinctive high-collared tunic - Gilbert wore a knee-length coat in the same colour, decorated with gold frogging; symbolic of his status as one of Cornelia's personal knights, and of the gap in their respective social standing.

"Not until we are done here," he replied coldly.

He turned back to the cluster of army medics. They had finished securing Euphemia and Darlton in their medical capsules, and now Euphemia's capsule was being winched up to the shuttle. It took four cable to haul it up safely, and the work was slow.

On the ground nearby lay the remains of Euphemia's gown; that pink and white one she had first worn on her sixteenth birthday, and which had become her trademark. It was a bloodstained ruin now, the medics having been forced to cut her out of it in order to fit her into the capsule.

It was nothing worth worrying about. The gown had already been ruined with all that blood, and any competent dressmaker in the empire – nay, the world – could replicate it down to the smallest detail. But seeing it there, a pile of crimson rags, left Gilbert feeling strangely bereft; as if something indefinable had somehow been hurt, irrevocably; like kicking a puppy, or breaking a doll, or crushing a rose.


He turned, more than a little glad of the distraction. It was another of the guards, one of a cluster standing beside four bodies, lying on the floor of the rostrum. Three of them, two men and a woman, were clad in nondescript black business wear; the kind of outfit that screamed OSI agent. Quite right, for they were the three OSI agents assigned to organise and command Euphemia's security detail.

The other he would have known anywhere. A young man with soft brown hair, clad in a white uniform of a sort a knight might wear. Gilbert knew the face of Sir Suzaku Kururugi, Euphemia's personal Knight-of-Honour, very well.

"What's wrong with them?" he asked.

"We found them crashed out in front of the MCV," the guard replied. "We saw Zero there, but the Gawain made off with him."

"Are they dead?" Gilbert pressed. The guard turned, and jabbed his toecap into Suzaku's side, a little harder than was entirely necessary. The younger man did not so much as twitch.

"Out cold sir," the guard went on. "Something's laid them out completely."

Gilbert scanned his eyes over the four figures. Whatever the cause, whatever the reason, they had failed their mistress; his Princess' little sister. A part of him wanted to draw his sidearm and finish them off himself. It would be a kindness, compared to what was waiting for them.

But then his eyes fell on Suzaku once again. Euphemia had always been so fond of that young man, that former Eleven, who so deserved to be called Japanese. He remembered how Euphemia had told him all about her new knight, of why she had chosen him, even at the cost of embarrassing her sister.

"Princess Cornelia..."

"We take them with us," he ordered. "Scuttle the MCV. We go as soon as they're on board."

"Yes, sir!"

And here we are.

This is a story I've been meaning to write for some time now. All I needed was a title, and the new Fragments of the Mosaic story series gave me the inspiration; or at least the title did.

I'm glad to be finally writing this story, and I hope that you all will enjoy it.