A/N: Thank you to Jameyofthemegacosmos for his work on this chapter and the editing he has done.
I apologize for the delay with this chapter. Jamey had a lot of stuff, so it slowed things down. I got parts of chapter 21 done.
However this marks the anniversary of this fic's posting and despite my expectations it has become one of my highest rated stories in terms of favorites and follows, so thank you all very much.
I do apologize; there are some reviews I haven't found time to answer. This is due to me having been under the weather suffering from headaches and the like, and having little time available for the big reviews. I will try to get to them at some point when I can, but I'll try to address some general questions I have been asked in the hopes I can take care of them in due time.
For the harem, it will be decided upon at some point. The poll is only meant to trim down the possible candidates, and I have a few more appearing in the chapter to showcase them. Reader reception and their performance in the poll will determine if they stay in the story, but if they get a chance to join Lelouch's harem will be decided later.
However, part two of the harem poll will include candidates we have overlooked, like the Irregular unit cast members. Then there is the new Lilim we have become aware of who might make a better candidate to consider than some.
That is a bridge I'll cross when the first poll is finished. Should it pass one hundred votes or reach close to three hundred votes, I hope it will.
But as a reminder, Wilmarina, Koyoi, and Levin are for sure going to be in Lelouch's harem, with Wilmarina likely to be the first before Koyoi and Levin join. Who will join after that remains to be seen, and willing the poll will ensure you'll have more appearances in the story to win that spot.
As of this chapter's posting, the poll stands at eighty-four votes, and I have allowed it so you can see the results for the time being.
Another question that has been asked is Demonic Mana affecting C.C. After much deliberation and discussion among those knowledgeable with MGE lore, we have concluded that it is unlikely to affect C.C. due to her Code.
The second to last question brought to my attention is how MGE lore affects Knightmare Frame technology. Well, I can Gremlins can cause all kinds of havoc with Knightmare Frames, given their abilities.
Lastly, Lelouch and his group's ability to purify MG mana, which we are still deciding on some details. One thing is for sure though, should Lelouch gain the means to purify a human who has been transformed into a Monster Girl. What do you suppose would happen since we know that demonic mana eliminates inhibitions towards sex, so what happened when they're purified and suddenly can inhibit their behavior more?
But bear in mind I haven't decided if they can return a Monster Girl to human form, and even if I did, this would apply to those born human.
I am also planning for some Code Geass characters to become Monster Girls to even out those from Fallen Maidens who escaped becoming Monster Girls. How and what these characters might become will boil down to the exact circumstances behind it, but I won't say who.
Also, I don't really plan for the Fallen Maidens who didn't become Monster Girls to become Monster Girls. That is because it would go against the augments the story has made regarding the monsterization. Still, there is one in mind Jamey and I have been debating on, but I won't say who. It's not Wilmarina that much I'll confirm.
Anyway, on with the chapter.
Tides of Chaos
Days passed since Zero's public appearance. It was the middle of the day with school closed to allow the students to spend time with family. Lelouch suspected it to happen out of concern for the sudden wave of terrorist attacks erupting across Area 11.
How pathetic, instead of directing their energy towards Britannia, they only attack civilians.
As Lelouch anticipated, other resistance groups seized the opportunity after he humiliated the Britannian military and caused chaos within the government. Many of them have become more active with news of attacks against the Britannian military and popular civilian targets. However, Lelouch found the so-called resistance groups' willingness to attack civilians and hold them hostage counterproductive. It did little to further their cause, and even if confronting the system was their goal, nothing would change.
All it would do is make it easier for Britannia to paint themselves as the civilians' heroes.
The young man was alone in a park near Osaka in the high-rise Japanese residential area. Lelouch had come to this area of the country alone for some time to reflect and contemplate his thoughts on dozens of different matters. What Zero and his allies would do was among them, but also, something else had been coming to mind as of late.
Everything has been moving much faster than I had planned. Where could I find engineers let alone a place to make use of the plans I stole from Clovis?
The former Prince understood that he couldn't just simply buy a factory since it could draw suspicion. Granted, Lelouch had the means to buy the building, but obtaining all of the equipment and parts was another matter. Unless he could get what he needed through other means or create a plausible cover story to explain their usage, the military would likely investigate the factory and learn the truth.
It was one reason Lelouch sought to spend some time alone today; he needed time alone with his thoughts. The former Prince hoped he could find a solution, but he needed a place to relax and compose himself. Lelouch hoped a calmer and less disruptive atmosphere would help his thoughts, allowing him to think with better clarity.
Lelouch had found a park in the area with several stone benches dotting the area. Upon finding one that would hide him from any causal onlooker, Lelouch took a deep breath.
Now, where do I start?
Sitting alone as minutes passed by, Lelouch contemplated one potential plan after another. Still, he kept running into the same problem. On the exterior, Lelouch was calm and passive, seemingly enjoying the scenery around him. However, internally he was growing frustrated with himself.
That was until an unexpected voice shook Lelouch from his thoughts.
"Lelouch, what are you doing here alone?"
Surprised, Lelouch looked over his shoulder to see Asuna standing behind him.
Unlike the school uniform she had been wearing last time, Asuna wore casual clothes. They consisted of a pink T-shirt with a white cat printed on it, blue jeans with black sneakers, and a white belt around her waist.
"Asuna, aren't you supposed to be in school?" Lelouch said, trying to save face after having been caught off guard.
"I could ask the same about you," Asuna replied with a smile.
"Then I suppose your school decided to cancel classes today as well," Lelouch asked before Asuna replied with a nod. "I supposed I shouldn't have been surprised. I only thought Ashford Academy's cancellation of classes was only limited to the private schools?"
"I guess everyone is worried about everything that has been going on since Zero appeared."
"That's true he has unleashed a lot of shockwaves and revealing Clovis was alive this whole time," Lelouch admitted. "I doubt we'll know the full scope of his actions for some time."
Asuna walked around before sitting on the bench beside Lelouch, but she gave him a curious glance.
"Lelouch, I would say I know you better than that. I think you have a better idea of what will likely happen, don't you?"
Lelouch couldn't help but smile.
"I suppose, but without additional information, I could only guess on any exact details. However," Lelouch said before he began to explain what he expected. "First, the Britannian Military will be focusing on trying to restore their shattered reputation. The kidnapping of Clovis and their failure to realize it will be hanging over them heavily. So, they'll likely be pursuing Zero and any other terrorist organizations more aggressively. All of it is just to clean away the shame of their actions. Following the Emperor's orders to have Bartley arrested also implies the Emperor could punish Area 11's military commanders for incompetence. At least that is how they might see it, so they'll be desperate to produce results."
"I see, but it's not just the military affected by this?"
"You are correct," the former Prince nodded before explaining. "I am certain all levels of Area 11's government have been affected. Just by how much, I cannot say for sure. However, I am sure some might use the situation to further their careers somehow. Some will likely be removed from their positions to help the government save face, which will be pushed by others seeking a higher post."
"That sounds terrible," Asuna commented.
"That is Area 11 under Clovis, an incompetent man who gave the military commanders over Area 11's five districts far more authority than allowed. I wouldn't be shocked if most of them had just bribed their way to the top, and their unwillingness to clean up the smaller resistance cells made up of civilians is proof of this."
"But that will change?"
Lelouch nodded, "Yes, and as I said, they'll have to. Otherwise, the Emperor might replace Clovis, whose replacement may not allow them to have as much authority as they used to. Not to mention Clovis could decide to scapegoat them to save his hide too, so there is that."
"Geez, it sounds like a huge mess," Asuna said with a sigh. "I am glad I haven't been interested in following my father into politics as he had hoped."
"I am sure compared to Britannia, the politics of Japan wouldn't have been so cutthroat."
"Maybe, but," Asuna began to say before a group interrupted them.
"Well, look who has decided to visit again," Kei said as she approached with Enishi and Sakuya in tow.
Enishi was dressed in her jogging wear, but this time Kei wore similar attire. She wore black boy shorts and a matching sports bra with white sneakers. Sakuya, contrasting her friend Kei wore black baggy sweatpants, white sneakers, and a white shirt with clear signs of sweat around the collar and underarms.
"I assume you three are taking advantage of the schools being closed," Lelouch asked.
"Of course, even if the school is closed, there is no excuse of being a sloth at home," Kei declared with one hand on her hip.
"For you, it's probably a must since you did mention you were a part of a lot of the school's sports teams," Lelouch said, folding his arms.
"So, what are you two doing?" Kei said before eyeing Asuna suspiciously.
"We're just talking politics," Asuna replied.
"Just a friendly discussion, I wanted to find a place to be alone with my thoughts," Lelouch explained.
"Yes, we just ran into each other by chance," Asuna said, offering an additional defense.
"Really?" Kei teased the pair.
Thankfully for Lelouch and Asuna, Enishi intervened.
"We were about done with our jog, so why don't we all retire back to my family's dojo for water and sweet cakes," Enishi suggested. "After we freshen up, of course, as per our plan."
"I shouldn't intrude," Asuna offered modestly.
"Yes, neither should I. But I thank you for the kind offer Enishi," Lelouch said.
"Nonsense, you are both welcomed to come. You are our friends, and it would be rude not to invite both of you, and besides," Enishi said as she leaned closer to take a closer look at Lelouch. "It seems to me you are tired and stressed out. Have you been sleeping well?"
Lelouch wanted to offer up an excuse, but Enishi's eyes suggested nothing could convince her otherwise.
"I have had a lot on my plate lately, so I had wanted some time alone to relax," Lelouch admitted with a sigh. He recognized nothing he could say would likely sway Enishi otherwise.
I guess she knows me too well.
"Then perhaps some time with friends can help ease your worries a little," Enishi offered kindly.
If only if it was that easy.
"Very well, I accept your invitation."
On the island of Diana, Asura was greeting a new set of guests. This time, Dr. Little, Beatrix, and Eristia had safely arrived in Court Alf. Thanks to Dr. Little allowing the pair to use the Medical Sabbath's teleportation network. The network is used to move supplies and specialists between their clinics established in monster-friendly territories.
"I must confess seeing you in person is truly something given the unique circumstances surrounding your transformation," Asura said, sipping some tea.
"Yes, I know," Eristia replied.
"Miss Dil," Asura began, "could please not glare at Miss Vitral with such hostility."
"Sorry, but you said she was Zero, uh I mean Lelouch's fiancé," Levin said after quickly correcting herself. "Right?"
"Well, that was done out of political purposes than actual love, but I did fall in love with him," Eristia admitted as her cheeks turned red.
"I don't know if Zero would feel the same. Heck, I am willing to bet he probably knew about the arrangement and just played along to avoid any trouble," Levin pointed out.
Eristia could only sigh since it was likely Levin wasn't wrong, "Well, you are probably right. Lelouch was the type of person who was always ten steps ahead of everyone."
"No kidding," Levin offered in agreement.
"But you are in love with him for real, aren't you?" Lilynanna asked.
"Yes and no," Eristia answered. "But…I think the fact I split into separate individuals might be proof I love him."
"That is likely a result of how dangerously imbalanced your mind was when you became a Succubus. I recall how you said your mind was constantly being fed visions of you and Lelouch," Greilia said, scolding the Succubus. "I don't doubt your feelings, but learning about the childhood promise you had with your squire and memories of him threw your mind into turmoil. I suspect that until reaching the sword, you were also fed visions of you and Yuriy together, am I wrong?"
"I was just so confused, and no matter what I did, I couldn't figure out a solution. I just wanted it to stop so I could think, but it didn't, and now I had visions of both Zero and Yuriy during our final trek to the sword."
The Succubus placed both hands on her head as she recalled the internal conflict raging within her. One part had argued against trying to reforge a relationship with Yuriy after remembering their childhood promise together. Another part wanted to re-establish their connection as a form of forgiveness for the indifference she had with Yuriy. Still, both sides couldn't ignore the intense feelings of love and desire built up for Zero.
That just merely worsened the internal conflict significantly. On top of the never-ending visions, the sword continued to feed Eristia.
"So, in desperation, you embraced becoming a monster to stop it," Lilynanna asked, to which Eristia nodded.
"Fucking hell, your brain must have been a real mess to get divided into two separate people," Levin commented.
Sitting in silence was Beatrix. Thanks to a shield being provided by Ridwana fueled by Eros's power and Poseidon's power. The shield's purpose was to protect Beatrix from the Demon Mana that filled Court Alf's islands. Beatrix was in no immediate danger of becoming a Monster Girl since it would take longer for the mana within her body to be replaced with Demonic Mana. However, it was advised for Beatrix to avoid doing anything that could exhaust her. Furthermore, any food she has would have to be brought from outside until they could go to Earth.
"In any case, perhaps I should explain as to why you're all here."
"And to fucking make things clear," Levin remained overwhelmed with what she saw and was told by Asura. "So, you're telling me that Zero, or rather Lelouch, is a prince from another world!?"
"Who seeks to overthrow the Holy Britannian Empire ruled by his father," Asura confirmed. "Him coming here was a means of obtaining personnel and resources for such a task."
"Lelouch, is that Zero's name?" Eristia inquired, and Beatrix was both curious and surprised by the revelation.
"You mean the masked man who has aided Lady Wilmarina has been a Prince this entire time?" Beatrix asked, and Asura replied with a nod. "What is this Holy Britannian Empire? And from another world? And who is this person you're calling Lelouch? Is that Zero's true name?"
"I see that you've been left out in the dark," Asura stated the obvious. "Not that I don't blame you, that's not because of your upbringing by the Order, but because the truth is so alien even to us that we had a hard time believing it."
"Then start talking."
"Easy there, we're just about to get to that," Asura calmed the soldier before getting to that. "To start, has Zero ever told you about his travels before Lescatie when he traveled to our islands and land of Dragonia?"
Asura said before she began telling Eristia, Beatrix, and Dr. Greilia about Lelouch, which she had gotten used to sharing. Yet, she was tired of telling the story again, only wondering when it would end.
Elsewhere in Area 11 inside the confines of the Camelot Lab where Lancelot was being kept. Engineers and technicians were overseeing the relocation of equipment and the Lancelot to its new home. Lloyd was sitting in front of a computer while Cecile was reviewing a checklist on a clipboard. However, she was distracted by another screen she wielded as she tirelessly read the news on recent events.
"Fukushima, Kochi, Hiroshima," Cecile went through the list of attacks that's happened during that morning. "This has been the seventh wave of attacks ever since Zero and his group revealed themselves."
"There's no doubt the other groups are following his lead and putting up a valiant fight," Lloyd admitted. "Thanks to Bartley and Prince Clovis, that is. Communications between police and administration are screwed up. It's made a fine mess for us as well."
"Because of a lack of trust?"
"After Bartley's blunder and the military of Area 11 embarrassed before the entire Empire, many are wary of Clovis and those under him. They'll need to step up efforts to not only eliminate Zero but to eliminate other resistance groups to restore their reputation."
"Will they be successful?"
"Hard to say," Lloyd merely shrugged his shoulders before stretching his arms in stress. "At least Colonel Madd's going to be happy with the opportunities."
"What about Suzaku?" Cecile brought an important question, or at least one crucial to Lloyd. Despite Clovis being revealed to be alive and held captive by Zero, Suzaku remained in custody. Cecile was worried for the young man's well-being, but she also found it odd why they hadn't released him. "I thought you said they would release him."
"I wish it were that simple," the Earl admitted. "But rumor has it that he's still under arrest for questioning."
"Why?! I can understand they would question him about Zero, but why keep him?"
"Well, there is no denying Zero risked a lot to save Suzaku," Lloyd pointed out. "The investigators might be hoping to find something that could help identify who is under the mask."
"I suppose, but what do they hope to get out of him? That's even assuming if he did know something."
"Perhaps some of his collaborators during the operations. After all, he was the sole survivor at the crime scene regarding those massacred Royal Guards near the intended gas capsule."
"But it's not like he did anything wrong."
"Other than seeing something that he shouldn't, no. But the politics aren't helping us one bit, especially with Colonel Madd and Margrave Jeremiah in power."
While Cecile didn't know much between Lloyd and the Colonel, Cecile only knew that they shared a tense rivalry with each other's creations. With Madd's unit arriving in Area 11, where Lloyd was stalled, it was evident that the Colonel would try to one-up the Earl.
"Oh, of all the opportunities," Lloyd groaned. "So many where we could obtain data, and now Madd is leading the pack, all because we lost an important part of the machine!"
Cecile nearly dropped the clipboard in annoyance, but she knew there was no point in arguing with Lloyd.
"Could we make do without Suzaku?"
"Don't I wish, but his operational efficiency clocked in at ninety-four percent. Do you know how hard it is to find pilots that capable!?"
"Maybe you should tell His Highness that," Cecile saw a silver lining that could help Suzaku. "Perhaps he'll let Suzaku go."
"I'm afraid not," Lloyd said, shaking his head. "Ever since General Bartley's disgrace, the Purebloods have control over all political and military affairs in Area 11 with an iron grip. Or at least Margrave Jeremiah has Prince Clovis's ear in such matters. He used the Emperor's authority to arrest Bartley so he could claim his position as Clovis's new right-hand man, thereby giving the Purebloods control."
"What does that mean for Suzaku?"
"I doubt they'll execute Suzaku for anything," Lloyd assured. "Such a thing was marked pointless by that Zero incident. But suppose they can at least persecute him for other major crimes, it'll at least make progress towards barring Numbers from obtaining Honorary status, a goal the Purebloods had been trying to achieve for a long time."
"Then what will happen to Suzaku then?"
"His fate's all but decided," Lloyd replied. "At worse, he'll end up imprisoned for life."
Later that day, Lelouch was sitting with Enishi, Kei, Asuna, and Sakuya inside the Isami Dojo Hall. The pair were seated around a table with water and snacks being offered. Kei, Sakuya, and Enishi had used the dojo's shower halls to clean up and change clothes. Now everyone was wearing casual attire. Enishi's casual attire was a white button-up shirt, black pants, and black boots. Sakuya clothing was more conservative, wearing black stockings, a matching mid-calf length skirt, a dark blue shirt. Finally, Kei's choice of clothing was a white tank-top with black shorts with white running shoes.
"So, I take it that you three have been doing this on your days off from school?" Lelouch asked to make small talk.
Enishi, Sakuya, and Kei nodded.
"Yeah, we had a busy season with sports, so both Enishi and I have been training hard to stay in top shape," Kei explained before glancing at Sakuya. "It took some convincing for Sakuya to come along since spending some time outside will be good for her."
"Well," Sakuya said, looking away shyly. "It's been hard for me to spend time with friends. No one likes to hang out with me."
"I see," Lelouch said. "I am sorry to hear that."
"T-Thank you for saying that."
"So Enishi says you have been stressed and tried?" Kei said before taking a drink of water. "School being rough for you?"
"I suppose the antics of our Student Council President can be vexing at times," Lelouch answered.
It wasn't the real reason, but it served as an adequate excuse, which is partially correct in a sense.
"What, is she nasty or something?" Kei inquired.
"She is nice, but her unusual ideas for events, tendencies to be over the top, and being a pervert who will tease both boys and girls. Milly is never malicious, but her antics can be exhausting to deal with," Lelouch admitted with a sigh.
"Unusual Ideas?" Asuna asked, clearly curious.
"To name a few, she has created a day where all students wear only swimsuits to classes, the complete silence party, and the Cross-Dressing Festival," Lelouch replied.
"You're joking right," Enishi asked as she and the other girls looked at Lelouch in surprise.
"I wish I was."
"And you're the Vice President, right?" Sakuya asked.
"I am, but my job title should be the only person in the academy who has any chance of restraining her wildest of ideas," Lelouch remarked.
The only reason he was still the Vice President despite being absent and away from studying was that he was the only one capable of reigning in Milly. No one else wanted the job, and those who did couldn't restrain Milly as well as Lelouch could.
"She sounds like a piece of work," Kei commented, curious about seeing Milly's true nature.
"I confess, considering what her parents were like, I am shocked she turned out as she did. I suppose that is likely due to her grandfather being a more active parent in her life than they were," Lelouch commented. "She is almost their complete opposite in every way. Just add in some odd quirks."
"One of these days, I might have to ask you to introduce me because now I am curious," Kei said.
"Sure, but I would be careful since Milly is," Lelouch said before pausing to think of the right words. "Quite interested in female bodies, especially those well-endowed or attractive?"
"What, she's into girls?" Kei asked, but Lelouch shook his head.
"It would be more accurate to say she is bisexual and greedy."
"She sounds more like a pansexual," Asuna commented, raising an eyebrow.
"Maybe, and somehow I wouldn't be shocked if that was the case," Lelouch said with a sigh.
That also brought a worrying thought to mind as a mental image of Milly becoming a Succubus appeared.
God helps us all if Milly ever becomes a Succubus. She would not only embrace it, but the things she would be capable of would be very worrying.
Thinking about it alone sent an unpleasant chill down Lelouch's spine. The young man vowed to make sure Milly would never get monsterized; the prospect alone was frightening.
Enishi gave Lelouch a look of sympathy, "It sounds like working with this Milly is quite difficult."
"Sometimes, but I am successful in preventing the wildest of her ideas from getting unleashed," Lelouch admitted before adding. "Hopefully, all of the new members will keep Milly from slowing things down too much. Or at the very least, they can distract her while the rest of us takes care of what needs to be done."
"I think you might need some time off, Lelouch," Asuna commented.
Sakuya nodded in agreement.
"I-It could be good for you."
"That is not possible for me. I got too much to deal without," Lelouch said with a sigh.
"So, there is a lot more going on outside of school?" Kei asked.
As Lelouch contemplated an answer, Asuna and Enishi had their suspicions. In Asuna's case, she wondered if part of it was because of Suzaku's arrest. She remembered how close those two had become despite a very rocky start, so she could only imagine Nunnally must be worried for Suzaku. Then, of course, Lelouch was concern about him as well despite knowing he wouldn't outright say it.
"Well," Lelouch said as he quickly fabricated a cover story.
But before he could tell it, a loud slam was heard near the door.
Rushing into the dojo and making their way to the main hall were twenty men, but among them were two familiar faces. Besides them, the others wore various clothing styles. However, the rest of the eighteen men were armed with semi-automatic weapons.
"You guys are the ones who tried to attack us," Kei said defensively.
"No shit, you didn't think we would forget what happened?!" The bully snapped before a sadistic grin appeared on his face. "Once my dad got us out of the shammer and cleaned up the mess that made, I asked some of his business associates to help us pay you back."
"And look, we're lucky the guy who made fools of us is here too," the other bully pointed out.
When the bully tried to reach out to grab Lelouch's shoulder, a previously unseen barrier stopped his hand.
"What the hell is this?!"
"A barrier I had finished casting. I made it while you bragged about how you came with plenty of automatic weapons. All just to kill some unarmed civilians just because your precarious ego was bruised. I despise men like you," Lelouch said. Although his voice was calm, there was a seething fury below the surface. "And you idiots just had to catch me in a bad mood. This week alone, I swear that I have had more unforeseen situations I had to deal with than I wanted. Not to mention it has forced me into a position to move up my other plans far faster than I would've liked."
"What of it!? You are just an Eleven loving Brit; you deserve to get put down like the rest of them," the lead bully said with a laugh.
Asuna could feel a chill go down her spine, but it wasn't from the men who were leveling guns at them. It came from Lelouch.
"Then maybe I am more human than you are," Lelouch said before using the ring to switch to his Zero armor.
By the time the switch was done, a furious Lelouch had punched the bully with enough force to send him flying off his feet. The armed men looked on in shock as the young teenager transformed into Zero, but he was already attacking the rest of them. They began firing their weapons at Lelouch in their panic, but their bullets bounced harmlessly off his armored body.
Realizing they were outmatched, the men tried to flee but found the doors had been locked.
Little did they realize that Lelouch didn't cast just one barrier to protect Asuna and the others, but he cast over the dojo itself a second one. The second barrier didn't only trap them inside with no escape. Most importantly, it prevented anyone from the outside from hearing the gunfire and the sound of combat.
Some tried to run, but Lelouch used magic to conjure vines to seize their feet. Even if they wanted to run, they didn't get far, and Lelouch had those men dead to rights. He only avoided killing them outright due to not wishing to allow Asuna and the others to witness such brutality.
Once the last one was unconscious, Lelouch clapped his hands, lifting the barrier protecting Asuna, Enishi, Sakuya, and Kei. When the dust cleared, he noticed all four of them remaining frozen, unsure how to react. Lelouch assumed they were shellshocked as everything happened so fast.
"W-What the hell did I just see!?" Kei exclaimed, being the first to break the silence.
Her friend Sakuya was too anxious to say anything, with only Asuna and Enishi being a step above her.
"I apologize," Lelouch said, removing his helmet. "I didn't see any other way out of that situation."
"Yes, but you seemed quite furious," Enishi pointed out. "It wasn't just the fact you showed us a secret. All of the stress was related to being Zero, wasn't it?"
Lelouch sighed in defeat.
"I suppose there is no point in hiding it now."
"Would you mind elaborating for us?" Enishi asked.
"Uh," Sakuya began timidly before pointing to the unconscious men on the ground. "What should we do about them?"
"I think they should be killed," Kei retorted before cracking her knuckles.
Asuna and Sakuya looked at her, clearly surprised by her suggestion.
"Come on, these guys intended to kill us after doing god knows what to us. Not to mention they have seen Lelouch as Zero, so I don't need to explain the problem there."
"She does have a point. As distasteful as killing unarmed men is," Enishi said. Still, the fact she agreed with Kei's suggestion came as a surprise to Lelouch.
I had almost expected some of them to be opposed to killing them.
"But what do we do about the bodies?" Sakuya asked.
"I have an idea for that," Lelouch suggested. "I'll make them dispose of themselves."
"Huh, how will you do that," Asuna inquired.
"I have the means to make it happen, thanks to a deal I made with a witch," Lelouch answered, intending to use his Geass on them.
"Ok, but we're going to want the full story of what is going on," Kei asked.
Lelouch nodded in response, "Very well."
Prince Clovis stood by as the Pureblood lined up in a Britannian transport back in the Government Bureau. Jeremiah observed Valletta and Kewell as they escorted General Bartley, who was cuffed onto a dolly in a prison jacket Colonel Madd stood by the Prince. He remained amused by the situation.
"What about the research center?"
"The General already took care of that, Your Highness," Madd assured. "Before claiming you dead, he long since shut down the facility in the Settlement and transferred everything to Narita. I'll see to it that they're contacted and protected from further harm."
"I appreciate that, Colonel," Clovis relaxed for once. "For once, General Bartley did something right in the middle of my absence."
Bartley was deep in his thoughts as he overheard the exchange. Of course, he felt the little gratitude the Prince gave to be an act of pity and ridicule, throwing more salt on his wound. The fact he got so easily humiliated in ways unimaginable left him mumbling.
To think I'd return to the Homeland like this, Bartley cursed the woman they held captive. I wish I had never gotten involved with that damn girl.
Clovis regretted losing someone so loyal, but it seemed that was all Bartley had for him. His skills and abilities everywhere else were questionable, which were proven with how Bartley handled his demise. On the other hand, Clovis was seething in rage hidden by his calm expression, knowing that his captivity under Zero caused the mess he was given.
By blaming Bartley for everything that went wrong, Clovis was spared the worst of it. However, unless he somehow redeemed Area 11 in the Empire's eyes, the Prince realized the Emperor would be breathing down his neck. The embarrassment of his abduction and how his men acted would not be easily be forgotten. Even worse, that could prompt the Emperor to look at what Clovis has been doing more closely.
"By the way, Colonel," Clovis continued as he inquired. "Is the one I called here yet?"
"He is waiting in your office, sire," Madd replied respectfully.
"Excellent, we must make haste and restore the dignity of Area 11's government as swiftly as possible," Clovis said before he and Madd left the airstrip.
A short time later, Clovis returned to his office with Colonel Madd following him. Inside the spacious office was Diethard Reid, who was uncertain of why the Viceroy had summoned him. Also, in the room, keeping Diethard under watch, was Jeremiah.
"I called you in for the memorial program you set up while I was a captive," Clovis said, taking his seat behind his desk.
"With all due respect in front of His Highness, if I were to take it seriously, it would've been too weepy to my tastes," Madd commented as he positioned himself standing near the Prince's desk.
"Too true," Clovis said in agreement.
"Well, the masses tend to like tear jerkers, Your Excellency."
"Spoken like a true media mogul," Clovis admitted. "Even now, I worry if the media appreciates seeing me dead."
"With all due respect, Your Highness," Diethard bowed. "It's only common to set memorial programs well in advance for important people. Members of the Royal Family are of no exception."
"I apologize in front of His Majesty," Jeremiah stepped in as he asked in curiosity. "But may that include other people as well?"
"Recent events with your latest cooperation with the Knight of One and the Emperor may have put you into consideration, Your Excellency."
"Because I wasn't important enough until now, I'd take it? No matter."
"I'm afraid so, sir."
"Fair enough, but let's get to the matter at hand. I am sure you are aware of the unfortunate circumstances I find myself in," Clovis asked before Diethard nodded in understanding. "I intend to press the military to hunt down the terrorists plaguing Area 11 more aggressively. I want to put on a show of it to restore faith in our government and my rule as Viceroy."
"Then I trust you'll be targeting the JLF," Diethard suggested. "Defeating those of the so-called Miracle Worker's caliber would be a good first step."
"I like that," Clovis grinned. "Granted, drawing him out isn't easy. However, we can build up towards the confrontation by mopping up lesser resistance groups. I want our retribution to be swift and brutal, and all of Area 11 shall see it."
The Viceroy turned to Jeremiah before extending a hand gesture to him.
"I would like you to work with Margrave Jeremiah on this. I grant you full authority to do what you must to craft an awe-inspiring presentation."
"It shall be done, Your Highness," Diethard offered with confidence, though for different reasons. "Just give me the footage, and the bigger the threat of the terrorists, the better the show shall be."
"Very good, and we'll target those organizations that have gained much media attention."
"Of course, that may be a lesser matter at the moment," Colonel Madd warned, causing Clovis's face to darken. "It shouldn't be hard to know who exactly I'm talking about."
"There's no need to remind me," Clovis said as his anger quickly reached its boiling point. "I want that masked bastard found! I shall not forgive the humiliation I endured, so I directed our intelligence agents to locate him."
"The Purebloods will interrogate the Honorary Britannian for further information," Jeremiah offered. "If anything, it could give us a clue to who some of his collaborators are."
"Good enough, but don't overdo it," Clovis warned. "The last thing we need is to lose control see ourselves as incompetent as Bartley. If you go as far as killing him, anyone involved in your faction will be stripped of their titles and rank."
"U-Understood, Your Highness," Jeremiah stuttered before complying.
"As for you, Colonel," the Prince turned to his other trusted officer. "I want the Special Honorary Foreign Legion prepared for combat the moment our military is ready for deployment. From there, we'll work towards rebuilding the Empire and Numbers' trust in Area 11's government and its already tarnished image.
"Understood, Your Highness," Colonel Madd saluted. Of course, hidden behind his smile was something even Jeremiah could see. Something far more sinister.
Back within the dojo, after Lelouch finished with the cleanup, he had spent much of his time explaining the truth. He was uneasy about it, but he had his Geass handy as a last resort should the situation demand it.
It had taken Lelouch over an hour to explain everything, but he wouldn't blame them if they questioned his tale.
There was an uneasy silence when Lelouch had finished, but just as he feared the worst.
"I knew you said you'd one day be strong on Britannia, but this," Asuna was still reeling and wrapping her head around everything Lelouch said to her.
"Granted, I wanted to do it without said power," Lelouch admitted. "I was going to prepare an underground account where I'd store my funds before using whatever I could find. But I would've waited a lot longer before I could make the initial move."
"So basically, what happened in Shinjuku was a complete accident?" Kei inquired.
"How I was involved, yes. I suppose it should be considered a case of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Lelouch replied. "I was there showing my friends the ghetto to see for themselves the depths of Britannia's discrimination against non-Britannians."
"Do you regret saving those people?" Enishi asked calmly.
"No," Lelouch admitted without a second thought. "But, I can't deny the whole thing has forced me to accelerate my overall plans far sooner than I prefer."
"But you seemed to have accomplished a lot," Asuna pointed out.
"True, but I did manage to make the situation work out for me. Capturing and interrogating Clovis was an unexpected boon."
"Why didn't you kill that murdering bastard!?" Kei demanded by pounding her fist into her open palm.
"It's because the longer Clovis remains in power, the better chances I'll have at building my organization. Had I killed him, he would've been replaced with someone more competent and dangerous," Lelouch answered. "I am almost certain they will have Cornelia, their greatest general take over. She would be ruthlessly hunting down every resistance cell across Japan."
"I see, so that is the reason why you were stressed out," Enishi said, realizing the source of Lelouch's troubles. "You know that you may have a tight schedule in toppling Britannia and liberate Japan. Given Clovis's incompetence, he could be replaced at any time."
"Yes, and I need to capitalize on that while I can," Lelouch answered.
"But finding people to join isn't exactly easy, is it?" Kei pointed out.
"No, it isn't," Lelouch admitted. "Even worse, I know I'll need specialists like engineers and others to fill needed roles."
"No wonder you seem worn out," Asuna said, patting Lelouch's shoulder in a sympathetic gesture.
"Thank you," Lelouch said, grateful to Asuna.
However, he was also astonished at how accepting they were about his status as Zero. He had even expected some reluctance or some of them to take issue with his Geass. So far, none of them made a mention of it.
"Excuse me, but what about your companions who helped you save Suzaku? Were they the same ones in Shinjuku you were showing around?" Kei inquired, showing she was the most curious of the group about him.
"There is a story attached to them, but given what I have already told you." Lelouch offered with an amused smile. "Forgive me if it's a little hard to believe."
"Come on, Lelouch," Kei offered, shrugging her shoulders. "After what we just saw you do?"
"Fair point, but I thought I should offer some caution in advance," Lelouch admitted before deciding to tell the girls about the otherworldly origins of his companions.
Elsewhere on Midgard, at that moment, Runya Runya was sound asleep at a desk deep inside one of Midgard's libraries known to possesses the biggest collection of books known. Beside Runya Runya's head, which was nested in her arms as she slumbered, were tall stacks of books that the Baphomet had been reading through.
Ever since the meeting with Lilith, the Library Sabbath worked tirelessly to uncover information about the doorway and key he possesses. To this end, Runya Runya decided to visit the Royal Library of Wexeathen on the island of Neiva, which has claimed to have the oldest books of the world's history and lost legends.
Since no other library across Midgard comes close to possessing such an immense collection, the Library Sabbath decided to start their search here.
However, three unexpected Baphomets have joined them on their search, though each of them had different reasons.
"Are you sure we'll find something here, Lady Kuroferuru?"
Lucella was sitting at a round table with her superior Kuroferuru, who had traveled to Neiva to offer her sabbath's support on Druella's behalf to Runya Runya. They were accompanied by one of the new Baphomets who wanted to find Zero. At the same time, they were also trying to recruit her into their sabbath.
"I am certain we will. Do not underestimate Runya Runya's gift at locating and finding information. If there is something to be known, she will find it," Kuroferuru said, confident of Runya Runya's sabbath.
"If she finds Zero, then that will be enough for me."
Sitting the opposite of Lucella and Kuroferuru was a transformed Lilia Filmlight who had become a Baphomet at Druella's hand. She looked unchanged, except she had a tail, hooves, and paw-like hands with fur matching her hair color.
"That reminds me," Kuroferuru offered to Lilia, wishing for the Baphomet to join them. "Will you reconsider joining us?"
"No!" Lilia snapped, "Look, I like Zero, but I seriously doubt he's into your little girl theme or what your little club preaches."
"Regrettably, you may be right," Kuroferuru sighed. "His confrontation with Lady Druella has implied as much."
"My Lady, are you interested in Zero as well?" Lucella eyed her superior with a mix of curiosity and jealously.
"I am intrigued by him certainly, not just because of his origins but also the fact no human ever held his own against a Lilim and escaped. He resisted all of Lady Druella's charms, of which Lilim are known to do very easily with their looks alone without any magic," Kuroferuru explained before adding with an amused smile. "Besides, I heard some Echidnas had their sights set on Zero to marry him."
"What's an Echidna?" Lilia asked.
"An Echidna is part of the Lamia Family," Lucella began to explain. "They share the same traits as the Lamia Family by having the lower body of a snake, and some snakes in their hair like their Medusa cousins."
"However," Kuroferuru said, joining the conversation. "What makes them unique are two things. One is their powerful material instincts and their ability to give birth to new Monster Girl Species."
"How can they do that?"
Kuroferuru was amused by Lilia's surprise expressed with a chuckle before answering.
"Well, it's not completely understood. It's worth noting Echidnas are called the Mother of monsters for a reason. Their first child will always be another Echidna, but what an Echidna's next child will be like is anyone's guess. But that leads to the manner in how they seek husbands. To ensure any new monster species they birth will be strong enough to survive on their own once they come of age, the Echidna will seek a strong husband."
"Like a Hero?"
Lucella nodded, deciding to take over.
"Yes, because they feel whatever new monsters they give birth to will better equipped to survive if fathered by a strong man. The more powerful they are, the better, but to draw one to them is tricky."
"So, they build or locate a dungeon to inhabit before filling it with plenty of treasure and magical items certain to lure a strong adventurer to them," Kuroferuru added before further explaining. "But to make sure they met the strongest man they can lure, they rig the entire dungeon with traps to keep out weaker men."
"So they seduce and take the one who makes it to the end," Lilia asked, which both Kuroferuru and Lucella confirmed by nodding their heads.
"That's right," Lucella said before adding with a devilish smile. "After that, they get right to baby-making since Echidnas love children as much as having them."
"Well, I love puzzles on the side too," a new voice said.
Having been moving past their table was an Echidna.
She possessed the general characteristics of an Echidna, which included pale blue skin, but with a black scale-covered lower body with a pink underbelly. The Echidna looked young, around late teens or older. She had four live snakes as part of her long green hair while her yellow eyes were behind some glasses she wore. A short-sleeve white dress shirt covered her top with a green bow tie. Lastly, she wore gold bracelets on her wrists.
"Forgive me, I couldn't help but overhear you talk about Zero," the Echidna replied before introducing herself. "My name is Inryna, and it seems I am not the only one looking for Zero."
"You're looking for him?" Lilia inquired with a mixture of anger and jealousy. "Looking to make him your husband."
Lilia held a growing affection for Zero before her transition into a monster girl. He was always polite, and he paid very well for his orders. However, she believed she couldn't win Zero over with her body as it was. The lack of opportunities to get close to him also complicated things.
It was an innocent crush, nothing more, at least until Druella came.
Now, as a Baphomet, her crush grew into something else. Despite hating her permanent childish form, Lilia did gain considerable magical power and physical strength. She once yearned for her brother, who had worked hard to care for her all by himself. However, upon discovering a Werewolf taking Lilia's brother as a lover, all of the love and affection she had gone to Zero.
"Well, since he was the only one who braved my dungeon after all, so yes, I would like to," Inryna confirmed. At the same time, the revelation she encountered Zero stunned those at the table.
"He did what!?" Lucella said, clearly surprised.
Lilia was just as stunned too, but Kuroferuru regained her composure, curious to learn more.
"How and when did you encounter Zero, if you don't mind telling us?"
"It was a few years ago," Inryna answered.
So, it was before the incident at Court Alf, Kuroferuru thought.
"I just finished building my mighty dungeon," Inryna said with pride in her voice. "I took an old place I found in Zipangu. A very nice looking old tower I renovated before installing the best traps and puzzle locks I could devise."
"I assume it had the standard pitfalls, magical spears, and the works?" Lucella asked.
Inryna nodded, "Yes, but they were all non-lethal, of course. However, the further in someone gets, they would get hurt, enough to discourage them from trying again. I added the puzzle traps to discourage those who are incapable of making it. Especially since I wanted my husband to be strong and smart."
"Of course, but I assume everyone tried and failed until Zero came along," Lucella inquired further.
"Yes, that's what exactly happened," Inryna answered. "I had gathered so much treasure, and I even got some rare magical artifacts to boot. After making sure rumors would spread about the treasure awaiting the one who braved my dungeon, plenty of people tried. Still, no one succeeds until Zero came."
"And what happened when Zero came?"
"Well," Inryna said as tears began forming. "He just took one piece of treasure and left before I could offer myself to him."
Kuroferuru offered a box of tissues she had kept handy for Lilia's usage whenever she had her mood swings about her form to Inryna.
"What did Zero take?"
"A magical dwarven crafting hammer," Inryna after regaining her composure. "It was supposed to be a sought-after collector's piece or something because it was thousands of years old. It's supposed to be very potent in the hands of a true blacksmith and craftsman."
"I see," Kuroferuru said while taking note of that detail.
"Oh, so Zero took something and ran from you, too?"
All eyes turned to another Monster Girl who had presumably overheard them talking about Zero.
She was a Sphinx, a subspecies of the werecat family with a lion's paws and feet, complete with a tail and lion ears. She had a mocha skin tone, blue eyes with brown hair with white markings tattooed onto her midriff. Her attire consists of a form-fitting sleeveless black top with a yellow and blue striped tie while still showing off much of her skin.
"That jerk came to the ruins I was helping guard. I approached him and cast my curse upon him before asking my riddles."
"Riddles," Lila asked before Lucella intervened.
"A Sphinx usually guards the ruins that surround the tomb of a Pharaoh, a powerful type of undead who possesses the divinity they once had in life. They aren't gods, but they are a powerful lot," Lucella explained. "Their tombs and, by extension, their kingdoms are protected externally by Sphinxes. When they discover a man approaching the ruins, they place a curse upon them before asking them five riddles."
"What kind of curse?"
"The curse's effects are dependent on how a man answers their riddles," Lucella answered before explaining. "If they get any of the riddles wrong, they will be charmed by the Sphinx so that they will offer their body to them. If they get the riddles right, then the curse will be redirected at the Sphinx, so they'll be charmed instead. Of course, they will greatly desire the one who bested them to take them as their lover."
"I had some good riddles too, but Zero answered them so easily," the Sphinx said on the verge of tears. "I wanted him so badly, but he used magic to restrain me before I could do anything."
"So, what happened Miss," Lilia gestured to the Sphinx to introduce herself.
"Oh, my name is Ramlah," she complied. "Anyway, after I lost to Zero, he asked me to lead him to where we, the Pharaoh, keeps all of her treasure. So, I did as he asked, hoping he might change his mind and make me his wife."
"But that's not what happened, is it?" Inryna inquired.
Ramlah shook her head sadly.
"I don't know why he was just interested in one piece of treasure," Ramlah sadly explained. "It was a golden spear with a gem embedded into it. He said he was recovering it for a friend of his."
"When did this happen?" Lucella asked.
"A couple of years ago," the Sphinx replied.
Miss Dil never mentioned any of these adventures, so they must've happened before Zero met Miss Dil, sometime after events surrounding Inryna.
"Then what happened next?" Lilia inquired, causing Ramlah to be closer to the verge of tears again.
"Well, my Pharaoh showed up with my supervisor in tow. Zero bailed out on me since he had no intention of saving someone with an intent to attack him," Ramlah admitted with tears in her eyes now. "I was banished as a result of my actions, so I have been trying to track Zero down ever since."
"I see, so is that why you have come to this place then," Kuroferuru asked, beginning to suspect it was the same reason Inryna was here.
Ramlah nodded, "Yes, so I can make him my husband."
"No," another voice said as a black-furred paw chopped Ramlah in the back of the head, causing the Sphinx to wince in pain. "We must get the spear back from Zero because it's what the Pharaoh demands."
Standing behind the Sphinx was a young woman in her late teens with the same skin tone as the Sphinx, but this girl was stoic, unlike her more emotional companion. She had fierce red eyes with black hair matching her black-furred hands, feet, and tail along with dog ears. Her attire choice was identical to the Sphinx's attire, except she wore more ornate jewelry, complete with a jeweled headdress giving her a sterner look.
In her hand, she held a golden staff with scales on top.
"Please forgive my foolish subordinate," the girl said, apologizing. "I hope she was not troubling you too much."
"Not at all; it seems everyone in this corner of the library is seeking Zero. We were just curious to hear her tale about her encounter with the masked man," Kuroferuru answered.
"I see," the girl asked as she raised an eyebrow. "Could I join you perhaps?"
"Your name then?"
"I am Fadia," the monster girl answered with a polite bow. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
"What kind of monster girl is she?" Lila whispered to Lucella.
"She is an Anubis, a member of the werewolf family known for their considerable intellect and sincerity," Lucella explained. "They possess powerful magic and knowledge of various curses. But they act as administrators to a Pharaoh commanding the Sphinxes and Mummies under them."
"So, she must've been exiled along with Ramlah for what happened to Zero?"
"Probably from the looks of it."
"As your two companions have taken note of," Fadia overheard Lilia and Lucella. "I too was exiled because of my failure."
"Why are you glaring at me like that!?" Ramlah wailed as she felt the daggers Fadia was giving her.
"You know why," Fadia replied before Kuroferuru intervened.
"If I may ask, what did Zero take from your Pharaoh?"
"It was a spear, that," Fadia began to answer before she was interrupted when she had to dodge a heavy book thrown at her.
Ramlah had tossed the book out of anger over the treatment she had received from her superior but had force she had thrown the book was considerable. It struck one of the stone pillars that causing the structure to shake suddenly. The impact was brief and intense, especially since the book came apart. The column suddenly came close before it fell forward, smashing into the floor.
Fadia gave Ramlah a more venomous glare than before.
"Oh, come on!"
As Ramlah tried to run away, Fadia was in hot pursuit, intending to discipline her. Lucella and Lilia hurried over because it landed in front of the table where Runya Runya was napping. As the dust cleared, Runya Runya was unharmed as the pillar had missed the sleeping girl. However, Kuroferuru noticed something as she approached. She conjured some dark matter tentacles to move the fallen column aside, revealing a hidden staircase that wooden boards had covered up.
"What do we have here?"
"Is that part of the library?" Lilia asked, looking down the staircase.
"I heard this building was quite old, and parts of Nevia had been built over some old structures at the time of its founding," Kuroferuru answered.
Lucella used some magic to conjure an orb of light before signaling some of her followers to come along. The group soon descended the spiraling old staircase, which led deep underground. It took the group almost ten minutes to walk down the stairs, but they found an entrance to an ancient building sealed off by stone bricks at the bottom.
"What is this place?" Lucella asked before Kuroferuru stepped forward to examine something written upon the stone, sealing off what laid beyond.
"Forever shall the knowledge of this place be sealed away by Order of the Chief God," the Goat of the Black Sludge reading the inscription upon the doorway.
Exchanging looks with Lucella. Both she and Kuroferuru began working together to smash open the entrance using the dark matter on the stone blocks barring their path.
Once the way was open, Lucella and Kuroferuru entered an enormous chamber that laid beyond. Cautiously entering the seemingly empty chamber, Lucella began creating new orbs of light to illuminate the room. It was almost bare except for a dozen tall stone pillars supporting the structure. However, ahead of them, blocking a pair of double doors, was a pillar of rocks in chains.
"Miss Filmlight," Kuroferuru said with an expression of alarm, "I need you to run up those stairs and fetch help."
"Why," Lilia inquired.
As if on cue, the pile of stone began moving before they took a humanoid shape. It stood over twenty feet tall, about half the chamber's size, but soon a black and purple flame began to ignite from within the stone construct.
"That's why! NOW GO!"
Lilia took off running as the monster, whose hostility and the black goat sensed power as it stirred from its slumber.
"What in the Demon Lord's name is that?" Lucella asked, sensing the overwhelming hostility from the construct before them.
"I do not know, but we have to deal with it."
Whatever is beyond those doors must've been worth someone locking this thing up down here to bar anyone from reaching it, Kuroferuru thought.
Whatever the creature was, besides the non-human shape, it did not have sense of love or compassion with the emotions it emitted. All it displayed were signs of rage and hatred, especially towards the monster girls. As energy suddenly concentrated onto its head, the Baphomets raised a barrier before a bright blast suddenly engulfed them.
A/N: Well, it seems Kurofeuru and friends are caught in a serious pickle of a situation.
However, we also see in this chapter Lelouch's growing concerns about actually building up the Black Knights quickly enough before Clovis gets replaced with Cornelia. As he said, he wants to make the most of Clovis's incompetent leadership to get started on forming the Black Knights and obtain the means to make use of those blueprints he got a hold of through Clovis.
Of course, as if he didn't have enough problems to deal with, Asura and her friends have been let in on Lelouch's secrets. Something he really didn't need, but shockingly it has been working out for him so far.
Suzaku, meanwhile, is still in trouble, but he might yet have a chance to get out.
A lot more to come in this chapter with more women continuing to be drawn to Lelouch, but ultimately the harem will consist of at most 10 or 12 (assuming I can manage that) candidates in the end.
Anyway thank you for reading and I'll see you guys next chapter.