Code Magi Lyrical Rider: StrikerS
Chapter 1: The Curse of Geass
"What do you mean you're preventing me from joining anymore rescue operations?" Kururugi Suzaku demanded as he slammed his hand on his superior's and friend's desk.
"Because on the most recent one you were expressing your...frustration over having thrown yourself out a window before saving a child just as the building came down around you," Lelouch vi Britannia, more commonly known as Lelouch Lamperouge, replied. "I can't have you losing it like that all the time so yes...I'm removing you from any and all future emergency response teams."
Suzaku clenched his teeth and his fist as he stared at his friend who met his gaze with equal resolve. After about a minute of silence however, he relaxed his hands and straightened himself up.
And with that, Suzaku turned around and left the office, leaving Lelouch to sigh as he spun around in his chair to look out the monitors that showed the scenery outside.
"Would it not be better to have windows instead?" Lelouch's secretary asked.
"Of course not, Mami," Lelouch replied. "It leaves me open to a sniper. Besides, this way I can set what kind of weather I wish to see, like snow."
He pressed a button on the side of his chair and the scenery was suddenly covered in a blanket of snow.
"You are far too paranoid, Lelouch-san," Tomoe Mami sighed as she set down a drink for him.
"Have you forgotten the faces of half the officers during my promotion to colonel?" Lelouch asked. "If anything, I am not doing enough to protect my-"
A sudden bout of coughing cut him off as he quickly covered his mouth with his hand.
"You are still coughing?" Mami asked as she placed a hand on his back. "It's been three weeks..."
"I know..." Lelouch replied as he shook his head. "All these damn progress reports to my so called superiors. They keep demanding weekly reports and have me explain every single thing..."
"Perhaps you should have Shamal-san look at it after all?
"It's just a cough, Mami. No need to worry. I'm probably just close to losing my voice is all."
"Lelouch-san, you can't be so sure about that," Mami said as she placed a hand on his. "Forget about the paperwork for today, I'll take care of it. Go see Shamal-san...for me?"
Lelouch frowned at her before letting out a sigh as he stood up.
"Very well," he said as he finished his tea and set the cup back down. "If it will make you happy."
"It will," Mami nodded with a smile.
"I'm telling you it's just a normal cough," he said as he left the room and closed the door behind him and sighed one more. "I hate lying like this..."
With that, he walked out of the base to head to the medical facility where Shamal worked.
"Well?" Lelouch asked as he put his shirt back on. "Any new developments?"
"I don't know what to say," Shamal replied. "It still hasn't gotten any worse...but it hasn't gotten any better either."
"I know I shouldn't be complaining...but I'm starting to get annoyed at this. How much time?"
"Two months...but then...I said the same thing several months ago didn't I?"
"Hahaha, indeed..." Lelouch replied with a small laugh. "And I already went from a lowly cadet to a colonel in that time with the TSAB. A little bit more and I'll finally hit general and the Bureau can finally actually get some things done without being blocked by red tape."
"Well if the Bureau had more pragmatic people like you and Admiral Lindy then that could only benefit them," Shamal said returning the smile. "Though I'm worried about your mental health. You've been taking a lot more risks since the first diagnosis haven't you? You're not trying to get killed before you die from your illness are you?"
"That's not...entirely incorrect," Lelouch replied scratching the back of his head. "I don't plan on getting killed, but I want to at least resolve the Combat Cyborg Incident at the very least."
"You still suspect foul play?"
"I've seen Zest Grangaitz in action before, Shamal. The man's skill surpasses Signum's in terms of close combat and is about equal to Fate in magical power. It was supposed to have been just a simple investigation and yet they were assaulted and annihilated, meaning someone tipped off our enemies. The problem lies there...only a few people knew about the plan, all of the rank colonel or higher..."
"But you have a suspect, don't you?"
"Indeed, but that's all I have. I won't be sharing my suspicions though. If I am right, then I'd best keep it to myself, lest I draw you and Hayate into the mix as well. Well then, if there's nothing else, I'll be taking my leave now. I'll see you in two months, Doctor Shamal. And I trust you will continue to respect Doctor-Patient Confidentiality."
"Yes...I won't tell the others..." Shamal nodded as she finished writing her prescription. "For now we'll continue with what we've been trying. It looks like it's stopping your condition but that's about as good as we'll get. Good luck, Colonel Lamperouge."
"I don't need luck," Lelouch replied as he took the prescription and walked out the door and turned to her with a smile. "I have a miracle. Everything will go according to my plans."
Shamal let out a small laugh as the door closed between them.
"That's right..." Lelouch thought as the image of a girl in white surrounded by red snow flashed in his mind. "I won't allow that to happen...not on my life..."
Nevertheless, his illness was wearing him ragged, reminding him of Li Xingke with his occasional coughs that led to spitting out blood. At least he wasn't at that obvious stage yet.
He supposed that was to be expected.
He had been using so many different types of magic, many of them conflicting each other that there was bound to be some sort of negative effect on his body, especially considering what happened during the second Parallel World.
Lelouch continued his investigation on the incident for the next two weeks, holding in his coughs whenever anyone else was in the same room as him in order to portray himself as being healthy.
But he was feeling the effects of the illness nonetheless. His chest would contract in pain as if there was a weight pushing against his chest, his throat would burn like he had swallowed a match and his head felt like someone took a sledgehammer to it.
Painkillers could only do so much to alleviate the pain and his only release was whenever he slept, and even then he needed to use sleeping pills.
He was becoming dependent on them and his dosage was increasing each week.
And yet somehow, he still kept the others in the dark about it.
Or at least...that was what he thought.
"Colonel Lamperouge, are you in?" someone asked after knocking on his door.
"Is that you, Signum?" Lelouch asked, looking up from his work. It was a long way from the base she worked on. "Is something the matter?"
"I wish to speak to you for a moment. Is that all right with you?"
"Sure, come on in," Lelouch replied as he turned off his monitor and turned his chair around so he was facing the monitors behind him as Signum came in. "So what can I do for you, Signum?"
"Permission to speak freely, Colonel?"
"Of course Signum, we're friends aren't we? I was never one for formalities anyway."
"Then...as a friend, can you tell me why you've been visiting Shamal once every month?"
"To refill my prescription of sleeping aids of course," Lelouch replied as he opened a drawer at his desk and picked up a small container. "This job is really stressful you know. Perhaps you could convince Hayate to stop at Lieutenant Colonel before she becomes dependent on these as well. The paper work is less than a third of a Colonel's after all."
"Lamperouge...those are pain killers..."
Lelouch quickly pulled the container in front of him, only to see that they were in fact his sleeping aids. He frowned as he spun around on his chair, meeting Signum's eyes as the woman stood on the other side of his desk.
"You're slipping, Lamperouge," She said softly. "That wouldn't have worked on you before..."
"No...no it wouldn't have..." Lelouch conceded as he put the container back in his drawer.
"You've been distancing yourself from everyone outside of work...when was the last time you even returned home to your apartment...or your own world for that matter?"
"There isn't a need for me back home since I've already passed on the throne to my sister who is being taking cared of by our elder siblings just fine...and as for work...well I'm close to tracking down those Cyborgs from that incident a year ago so I can't let this one go or else the window of opportunity will vanish and it will take another year to find them again...or even longer."
"In that case, why did you react so strangely when I said those were painkillers?"
"Because I thought I grabbed the wrong bottle from Shamal."
"And you didn't notice for two weeks?"
Lelouch was losing this exchange and he knew it. No, he already lost when he showed that extreme reaction to her statement...
"Lamperouge...is something wrong with your body?" Signum asked.
"I...suppose there is something wrong," Lelouch conceded with a sigh.
"And you don't feel the need to let anyone else know?"
"It's because it's nothing that I can't handle. At first I thought it was similar to Hayate's condition two years ago but then my legs still work and other than a headache and throat pains once a month nothing really happens. Oh and insomnia I guess, but that might be more work related than anything else."
"If that's the case, why do you look like someone who's an inch away from death?" Signum asked as she took out a compact from her pocket. "If you haven't noticed, Lamperouge, your face has been getting paler and paler by the day and your eyes have been constantly red."
"I suppose I haven't been getting much sun," Lelouch shrugged as he turned away from the knight. "And my anti-Geass contacts were made a bit thicker than usual so my eyes are still trying to get used to them. While I appreciate your concern, it is unneeded."
Even though he had the back of his chair toward her again, he could tell she was extremely dissatisfied with his answers even though she wasn't saying anything.
"If there is nothing else, may I be left alone for my work?"
"...Very well," Signum said finally as she turned to leave. "But we are not done here, Lamperouge. At the very least, take a short vacation. Mistress Hayate has been worried too."
"So she put you up to this then?"
"No, she's still busy in training. Not everyone is a genius at command like you are, Lamperouge."
"Yes yes, I realize that. As for the vacation...I will take one after this operation I have planned. Would you mind letting Vita and Nanoha know that I plan to ask for their help in about a week?"
"Very well..." Signum nodded as she placed a hand on the doorknob. "Oh...how is that child doing? She is about a year old now, isn't she?"
"Hmm?" Lelouch asked. "Oh, she's doing fine. One might say too fine. She's already begun running."
"Running..." Signum repeated. "Did she not just start crawling a month ago?"
"Indeed," Lelouch nodded with a wry smile. "It's like once she learned she could explore by herself, she wanted to do so faster. A child that already seeks to improve her skills. She will be a fine adult."
"I believe you are looking too far into the future, Lamperouge," Signum sighed as she closed the door behind her, leaving Lelouch to swivel his chair around to the screens depicting a sunny day.
"One can only move towards the future after all," Lelouch sighed. "Though...that doesn't mean one can't stop and look towards the past once in a while."
It was a few months after Lelouch realized something was wrong with him that the doctors in Britannia couldn't figure out, so he took Suzaku, C.C. and Jeremiah with him to see if Shamal could figure it out.
"Thank you again for your patronage," Hikari Natsum said as Lelouch and the others exited the Dimension Traveling Photo Shop.
"It's scary how used to this we've become," Suzaku said as they headed down the street.
"Our lives certainly have become interesting, haven't they?" C.C. asked.
"I suppose so...hmm?" Lelouch began as his eyes darted toward the alleyway across the street from them where a silver shimmer could be seen. "That's..."
"What is it, my lord?" Jeremiah asked, turning his head toward the same direction, but the shimmer had already vanished.
"I...want to say it was nothing but..." Lelouch began as he looked up and down the street. After seeing no cars or other people in sight he bolted across toward the alleyway with the other two behind him. "T-this is..."
"What?" Suzaku asked. "A bomb?"
"I...think a bomb would have been preferable to this..." Lelouch replied as he lifted up a small basket to show them a small baby wrapped in a pink towel and a white cap.
"A...a child?" Jeremiah asked as he took the basket from Lelouch. As he did, the child opened its eyes to reveal a violet right eye and a blue left eye. Widening his eyes in shock, Jeremiah carefully pulled back the cap, revealing a small tuft of green hair. "T-this is..."
"That child from that time isn't it?" C.C. asked peering at the baby as well.
"But...that girl was a mage wasn't she?" Suzaku asked. "What is she doing on earth?"
"What's more...she doesn't seem more than a few days old at most..." Lelouch frowned. "Did someone really kidnap her from a hospital from a TSAB world just to drop her off here...?"
A sharp sob cut him off as the girl started wailing.
"Ah, don't you think we should get her inside somewhere?" Suzaku asked. "I don't think it's good for a newborn to outside."
"And we certainly can't take her to the police here," Lelouch nodded. "Looks like we're taking her with us then..."
"I can't wait to see Mami's face," C.C. said with a grin causing Lelouch to sigh.
And sure enough, when he came through the door with the child in his arms, Mami and the other Puella stared at him. Sayaka even dropped the plate she was holding over her feet and didn't react.
"You're paying for that," Lelouch said offhandedly as he tried to shush the child who started crying from the noise.
"A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a BABY?" Mami stammered as she pointed at the child.
"Green hair..." Kyouko muttered. "It can't be. Is it yours, C.C.?"
"That's right," C.C. replied in a deadpan. "Mine and Lelouch's."
Another crash came from the kitchen area.
"Ah! Mami-san fainted!" Madoka called out.
"Will you lot keep it down!" Lelouch hissed as he tried cradling the child a bit. "There there..."
"Here," C.C. said taking the child from him. "Let me do it."
"You acting motherly frightens me beyond comprehension," Lelouch replied as she gave him a look.
"Lelouch...is that really yours?" Homura asked.
"Not yet," Lelouch replied.
"What do you mean...'not yet?'" Kyouko asked.
"We think she's been abandoned or kidnapped and discarded," he explained. "We found her in an alleyway lying in a basket."
"What?" Sayaka shouted. "Then shouldn't you take her to the police?"
"No one in this city has reported missing baby a few days old and all newborns in the hospitals are accounted for," Lelouch replied as C.C. ordered Jeremiah to go buy some formula. "If she was abandoned, then her parents don't want her. If she was kidnapped...the chances of finding out exactly where she came from is close to zero. You don't just kidnap a child and drop it somewhere for no reason and if you did have one that involved it not being found then you would be sure to leave no traces of a child being born behind such as deleting all records and...disposing of the parents."
"Is that what happened?" Madoka asked as Suzaku and Sayaka carried Mami over to a couch and laid her down on it.
"I don't know," Lelouch admitted. "It is simply a theory. Either way, the fact is that we have no idea where this child came from and so I'm thinking of taking care of her myself."
"So she's a princess then?" Kyouko asked. "What's her name?"
"Einhalt," Lelouch replied.
"Einhalt?" Homura asked. "That's...German isn't it? And...a boy's name..."
Lelouch simply shrugged his shoulders.
"I met a girl with that name in my travels," he replied. "The name stood out to me. So I suppose the child will be Einhalt Stratos Lamperouge...and Einhalt si Britannia."
"So you're naming her after a girl you met?" Sayaka asked, interested. "Why?"
"Because she was able to beat him to the ground," C.C. replied.
"The details of which will be forever left unsaid," Lelouch said quickly, cutting off all other related questions before they could be asked.
"Umm, why does she have 'si' when your name has 'vi' in it?" Madoka asked.
"Children born into the Brtannian Imperial Family take on the particle from their mothers," Suzaku explained for Lelouch. "And as for why 'si' is used..."
"It's for the same reason you all believe that this child was mine when I said it," C.C. replied. "With blue eyes being a trait in Lelouch's DNA, people won't question it."
"So basically..." Kyouko began. "Einhalt here will be yours and C.C.'s kid on paper?"
"More or less," Lelouch nodded as Mami slipped off the couch and landed with a thud on the floor. "Really now...did she always have such a weak heart?"
In the end though, Einhalt turned out to be a boon. She provided ample distraction for the girls, especially Nanoha and Hayate, for Lelouch to sneak off and have Shamal do a check on him.
Of course, all this talk about his own death never bothered him. Because he knew, no matter what happened, he would survive for at least another decade.
"Lelouch-san, are you okay?" Mami asked as she looked at him through the video feed. "You look unwell. Do you have a cold?"
"No...I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm currently in the arctic sector..." Lelouch replied with a cough as a cold wind blew through the tent. "Sayaka! I thought I told you to zip it up all the way when coming back in!"
"Sorry!" the blue haired girl said as she quickly closed the flaps. "Geez...no need to shout."
"Are you really sure there's something here?" Vita asked as the girls huddled around the stove for warmth. "It's in the middle of nowhere!"
"Do I look like I would be out here for any other reason?"
"If the reason was to mess with us, yes."
"If I was going to do that then I wouldn't be coming along would I?"
"Sayaka-san, your outfit looks a little different doesn't it?" Nanoha asked, ignoring the other two. "Did you change it somehow?"
"Well I'm not gonna go running around in this weather with only a skirt and breastplate am I?" Sayaka asked as she pulled her cape around her a bit more. Her Magical Girl outfit was lined with fur and her shoulders and armed were covered with a thick fabric. She had also forgone her skirt in favor for slacks and armored greaves. "Ahhh...why do bad guys always put their lairs out in the cold?
"Because no one likes to come up here?" Nanoha offered.
"Ah, that makes sense."
"In any case," Lelouch said as he covered another cough with his hand. "I'll call you after the operation, Mami. Give my regards to Einhalt."
"Understood," the blonde nodded. "Then, see you all later."
"You sure you're up to this?" Nanoha asked as Mami disappeared from the screen. "You've been coughing ever since we came up here. And you're going to be talking a lot."
"I'll manage," Lelouch replied as a beeping sounded from the console beside Lelouch. "Target located. That's your cue girls. Good luck out there and keep in radio contact. Target is about five hundred meters north of here."
"Understood," the three of them said with a salute as they exited the tent.
"Stay safe out there girls," Lelouch mumbled as he turned to the console. The screen displayed three triangles on it. One colored pink, one colored red, and one colored blue. The three triangles were moving towards the large circle labeled "Target" from the south at three different points.
"Nanoha, movement at your three o'clock, from the size it looks like the cylinder type drones."
"I see them," Nanoha replied. "Axel Shooter! Shoot!"
"Sayaka, move forward about two meters then throw a blade directly to your left."
"Okay! Let's see...one two...there! Whoa, something exploded!" Sayaka shouted.
"Vita, send your iron balls straight forward. No need to guide or aim them, they're big enough to be hit no matter where you shoot."
"Geez how many of these guys are there!" Vita asked as an explosion could be heard from her end. "I'm seeing a ton more of them now!"
"Don't get careless, the window of surprise is slowly closing. Sooner or later the enemy will have activated more of these drones. We need to find the entrance before that."
"Lelouch-san!" Nanoha radioed in. "I see something strange in the nearby ruins."
"Can you be more specific?" Lelouch asked, turning the volume of Nanoha's channel a bit louder. "Describe it."
"Umm, it's a patch of dirt that's not covered in snow at all...do you think it may be a door of some sort? I'll open up the monitor..."
Lelouch sat back as a monitor opened up in front of him. On the screen was Nanoha standing next to a large patch of dirt with hardly any snow on top of it, like it had been moved very recently. He recalled how the Japanese Liberation Front had turned the Narita Mountains into one big fortress where they could roll out Knightmare Frames by having hidden panels rise up and ambush the Britannian...
"Nanoha get out of there now!"
"Huh? What are you..."
"Nanoha! Movement to your right!"
"Oi, Lelouch! What happened!"
"It's a trap! Nanoha fell for the enemy's trap!" Lelouch shouted as he slammed his hand on the console. "Both of you head over to Nanoha immediately! Destroy anything and everything in your way! Be wary of anything! The enemies are using some kind of cloaking to disrupt the scanners and radar! I won't be able to provide support!"
"Then what are you going to do?" Sayaka asked as the sound of steel meeting steel rang through the communicator, but the lack of an explosion him she had engaged with some type of close combat unit instead. "Whoa, these things are scary!"
"My subordinate is in trouble!" Lelouch replied as he stood up. "I'm going to assist."
"You sure you're up for it?" Vita asked.
"It doesn't matter if I am or not! I'm the closest one to her position. The two of you should worry about yourselves first!"
With that he tossed his head set off and headed for the exit only for a coughing fit to stop him in his tracks.
"Damn it...not now..." he cursed as he looked down at his hands. "Just a little longer...just a little bit longer. You've held out for this long already damn it!"
[KAMEN RIDE! DECADE!]
"Make it!" Decade shouted as he threw open the tent flaps. "I won't let that possibility come to pass! I'll stop it from happening! Somehow...I'll stop it!"
Nanoha grunted as the giant drone smashed its blades against her device, knocking her downward into the snow. She had never been good at close combat, and this drone was attacking her too relentlessly for her to make an escape safely.
A slim four legged drone with one glowing yellow eye and two long black blades.
If Lelouch hadn't told her it was there, she might have been severely injured. Of course, at the rate this fight was going, that still wasn't an impossibility. Especially not with the drone bringing its blade down upon her, causing her to close her eyes fearfully.
Something wet splashed onto her face instead of the pain she had expected to feel. Slowly, she opened her eyes to see what had happened, only for them to shoot wide open in shock and horror.
In front of her was a man in pink and black armor, standing in front of her and shielding her from the drone that she had been fighting and that the wetness she felt on her face was blood.
"Decade-san!" Nanoha screamed as the Rider was struggling to keep the blade in his chest from moving in deeper with both of his hands but it was a losing battle.
"Nrrgh...grrrag...rraaaaaaaaahhhhh!" Decade roared as he twisted his body to the side, snapping the blade off the drone with his hands before pulling it out of his chest. With another roar he threw it at the drone, knocking it back.
Keeping one hand over the wound in his chest, he quickly reached down into his Ride Booker and pulled out a card before inserting it into the Decadriver.
[FINAL ATTACK RIDE! DE-DE-DE-DECADE!]
Pulling the Ride Booker off his belt in gun form, nine holographic cards shout out from his belt, smashing back the drone and locking it in place as he raised the gun up.
"Final...Dimension...Shoot..." Decade breathed as he pulled the trigger, shooting a large pink beam through the cards, destroying the drone at the end without a trace. Lowering his arm, Decade then turned around to look at Nanoha.
"Are you...okay...?" he asked with pained breaths.
"Decade...Lelouch-san...you're body..." Nanoha said as she slowly stood up.
"Haha...you look okay..." Decade laughed as the armor vanished, leaving only Lelouch standing in front of her. Tears were flowing from eyes as blood poured down his uniform and from his mouth.
"That's great...that's really...great..." he said as his gun slipped from his grasp. "I...made it..."
Then, his knees gave away as he saw the ground coming close to him at great speed.
It hurts a lot.
Of course it did. He was stabbed through the chest. It probably severed his spine and judging from the blood in mouth, probably punctured his lungs as well.
He tried opening his eyes but it felt painful and difficult but he managed to do so. His vision was blurry but he could see three people kneeling around him.
"He opened his eyes!" someone was saying. He couldn't tell who it was. There was a loud ringing noise in his ears distorting the voice. "Don't you dare die on us, you hear me!"
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I'm sorry..."
"Calm down! This is not the time to panic! Come on...heal...heal damn it!"
A sudden surge of bile and blood rose in his throat and promptly expelled itself from his mouth.
"Tilt his head to the side! We can't let him choke on his blood and vomit!"
He felt a pair of small shaking hands on his head as they forced him to look left, causing the liquid that remained to spill onto the snow, staining it a dark color.
"His skin feels so cold..."
"Of course it does, we're in the snow!"
"He's suffering from hypothermia! Even though my magic is healing him...body temp...dropping...at this rate..."
The voices were growing faint now, almost distant. Strange since they were right next to him. He was feeling extremely tired and the pain was slowly going away. Maybe he should just go to sleep. Just sleep the pain away. Yes that does sound pleasant.
Why? He was oh so very tired now. Not to mention his coughing fits and this cold weather. It would be nice to just go to sleep and forget about it all.
The stress of taking so many different medications and medications for those medications, the stress of dealing with the red tape of the Bureau, the stress of all the damn paperwork he had to deal with, the stress of putting on a false smile in front of the others as he was slowly fading away...the stress of being away from home, from Nunnally, for so long.
Why not just...put it all off...and take...a nice long rest.
After all...he'd earned it...didn't he?
And...it's not like he was going to die...right?
"Stay with us, Lelouch!" the voice shouted over what sounded like a thousand guns shooting off at once...but that was stupid...they weren't in the middle of a warzone.
It was really annoying really. It was keeping him from closing his eyes. The noise was annoying...
"Hurry up damn it! Oi! Down here!"
It sounded like another voice. More blurry figures were surrounding him now.
"We need to get him out of here!"
"On three! One...two...three!"
He felt himself being lifted from the snow and immediately another wave of blood and bile shot up from his mouth.
"Be more gentle with him!"
"We don't have time for that Mami! He's going to die if we don't move now!"
"Don't forget to cover his eyes. The last thing we need is for him to try and speak."
And with that, something fell over his eyes. A piece of cloth perhaps?
"Come on, get him on the transport now!"
"You're going to be fine, Lelouch! Just don't fall asleep!"
"Nanoha, let's go!"
"Move it pilot!"
What was going on?
He had been moved from the snow toward the source of the loud noise.
The transport...did they call for an evac? How long was it from the time he was stabbed to the time he opened his eyes?
What was a transport doing so close by?
How he was still thinking so coherently through all of this is a wonder.
"How did this happen?"
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry...it's because I messed up..."
"Tch...always playing hero, aren't you, Boy?"
"C.C.-san? Is now really the time?"
"Why not? It's not like we'll get the chance to talk to him again after this. The only reason he's even conscious is because Sayaka is killing herself over there keeping him from bleeding out. The moment she stops, he's either going to pass out from the pain or..."
"Stop it! I don't want to hear it!"
"Even if you don't it's the truth. Someone messed up and someone payed for it."
Insulting him even when he's half dead.
"Don't die, Lelouch. I'm not raising your kid by myself."
Homura ran through the base, jumping aside to avoid crashing into other on-duty personnel as she headed toward the Medical Ward.
How did this happen?
Lelouch wasn't careless enough to let himself get injured like this. Not to the point where it couldn't be healed by himself or Miki Sayaka.
She finally stopped running once she reached the corridor leading to the emergency room due to the wet floor signs.
At the other end of the hall, she spotted Tomoe Mami, Takamachi Nanoha, Vita, C.C. and Miki Sayaka sitting just in front of the ER. The small light over the door was on, telling her that there was an operation in progress.
Vita was sitting beside Nanoha, trying to shake the girl out of her stupor as the younger girl simply stared blankly into space.
Sayaka was staring down at her hands, which were covered in a disturbing amount of blood. Not just her hands though. Blood covered nearly the entire front of her body as if someone had slashed her across the chest and let her bleed all over herself.
Mami was sitting beside Sayaka, crying into her hands while C.C. simply stood with her back against the wall, looking toward the ER.
Vita and C.C. both turned to look at Homura as she approached.
"He's still in there?" Homura asked. She had received the notice about two hours ago when they finally got him into the ER. "Was it really that bad?"
"Put it this way," C.C. said as she pointed at Sayaka. "None of that is Sayaka's and we left a red carpet on the way toward the ER."
Well, that explained the wet floor signs.
Homura reached into her pocket and pulled out several Grief Shards and held them in front of Sayaka's face, catching the other girl's attention.
"Thanks..." she replied dully as she took them. "I almost forgot..."
Homura only nodded as she took a step back and took her place on the wall opposite of C.C.
"What happened?" Homura asked.
"We're...not exactly sure..." Vita replied as she turned to Nanoha who made no response. "Lelouch said...Nanoha was in trouble and that he was going to help. When we got there ourselves..."
Her voice trailed off as she looked at the closed doors.
"A new type of drone..." Sayaka continued as she placed her Soul Gem between the Grief Shards and watched them worked. "Close combat type that can cloak and two giant scythes for arms."
"So...one ambushed Nanoha...and Lelouch took the hit..." Homura muttered but stopped when C.C. nodded her head and turned her eyes toward Nanoha. So instead she turned toward the ER. "Who's in there right now?"
"Shamal and some people she brought with her," Vita said. "But..."
"Would it be enough?" was the question running through everyone's mind.
As if on cue, the light turned off, catching everyone's attention as the door opened and the surgeons all walked out with Shamal leaving last, her gloves and uniform drenched in blood.
"W-well?" Vita asked.
"He's...alive," Shamal settled after a short pause.
"But...?" C.C. asked.
"But...that's it..." Shamal continued softly. "He's on life support right now and...is in a coma...the blade tore open both of his lungs and shattered and severed his spine...even if he does wake up...he probably wouldn't be able to walk again."
She paused as she turned back to look through the doors. There they could see Lelouch still lying on the bed with an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose. There was also a thick bandage wrapped around his eyes. Other than that, there seemed to be nothing wrong with him.
"But...he looks fine..." Mami cried.
"He lost a lot of blood," Shamal said. "His brain wasn't receiving enough oxygen during the time you took to get here despite the oxygen mask. The only reason he didn't die out right was because Sayaka-chan was healing him. But not even magic can repair the damage to his brain or regenerate his spine..."
"So...what?" Sayaka asked as she slowly stood up. "You're saying he's going to sleep and be confined to that bed until he finally dies? How the hell is that being alive?"
"Would it have been better if he died then?" C.C. asked, turning to the blue haired girl. "Would it have been better if you stopped healing him and left him to die in the snow instead? Would it have been better to let Nanoha live knowing that Lelouch died to save her instead?"
Sayaka and Nanoha flinched at the words before Sayaka punched the wall in anger.
"What's the point of healing magic if I can't save anyone with it?" she demanded.
"Your magic is based around healing your own wounds," C.C. said. "Isn't it already amazing you could keep someone from death with it?"
C.C. turned to look at Nanoha who was staring down at the floor.
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I'm sorry..." she repeated over and over.
"Nanoha, look at me," C.C. said and the girl did.
Without warning, C.C. brought her hand across Nanoha's cheek, knocking her off her seat and onto the ground with a single slap.
"Nanoha!" Vita shouted as she knelt over her as Nanoha held a hand up to her quickly reddening cheek. "What the hell was that for, C.C.?"
"Stand up, Takamachi Nanoha," C.C. said, ignoring Vita. "Lelouch didn't save your life for you to wallow in self-pity. He made the choice between you and himself and he chose you. Would you rather be put in that position and have Lelouch feel what you're feeling now? That he failed you? Have him blame himself for putting you out on the field?"
"I..." Nanoha began, but she didn't seem to know what to say. C.C. simply sighed as she knelt down toward the girl.
"Let's put it a way you can understand. It is an adult's job to protect children. Not the other way around. Lelouch chose to save the twelve year old girl over the dying man. That is it."
"C.C.-san!" Shamal began but it was too late as Nanoha, Mami and Vita looked at C.C..
"Dying?" Mami repeated. "What do you mean C.C.-san?"
"Surely even you noticed it by now, Mami," C.C. said. "He's been coughing for weeks without stopping. He hasn't gone back to our world in months. He's passed down his throne to his sister. He's joined the TSAB and climbed the ranks so aggressively that most of the admirals and generals hate his guts for it. Does that not sound like the actions of a desperate and dying man?"
"He's...dying?" Vita asked before wheeling around to Shamal. "And youknew?"
"I am his physician..." Shamal said but didn't look at her fellow Knight. "I diagnosed him..."
"Let me rephrase that then. You knew...and you didn't think to tell any of us? Not even Hayate?"
"I had been ordered to remain silent about it and I couldn't break the Doctor-Patient Confidentiality."
"Then why does she know?"
"Because Lelouch told me," C.C. replied. "He told his siblings and his knights. So naturally I heard it. Jeremiah and Suzaku does too...therefore Sayaka knew as well."
Sayaka made no indication that she heard her name being called besides balling her fists even tighter.
"And you didn't tell me?" Mami asked as she turned to Sayaka.
"Lelouch didn't want anyone to know..." Sayaka replied. "For all we know, he was probably trying to kill himself today instead of just letting his disease do it...I'm still not sure if that would have been better than being reduced to...that..."
Lying in a bed unconscious with nothing waiting for you when you wake up besides being unable to move the lower half of your body ever again...
"The fact that he still is alive disproves that," Homura said. "Madoka's wish is still in effect remember."
"Wish...that's it!" Nanoha said. "What about Kyubey? What if we wished for him to be better?"
"Sure, that is a great idea," C.C. said, her voice filled with sarcastic venom. "Have him wake up to see that you removed your soul for his sake. Did you not hear me Nanoha? I said he's passed down his throne to Nunnally. That means in our world, he's officially dead. It's why he hasn't returned. They made their peace and he was planning to live out the rest of his days here. And if you remove your soul, there's no way to get it back in without Nunnally. Besides, knowing that little bastard he'd probably try to twist your wish someway if you say it like that. Maybe have it so it only heals Lelouch's illness while still leaving him in a coma or the other way around, revive him from his coma only to have him be awake for his last painful days."
"I was...only trying to help..." Nanoha said softly as she looked away.
"If you want to help then make sure Lelouch's sacrifice doesn't go to waste," C.C. said as she placed a hand on the younger girl's shoulder. Her tone was much kinder now as well. "Of course, helping take care of him so his last days are comfortable would be nice too. Then you could move on to helping me with Einhalt."
"I...I can do that..."
The Gray Witch nodded before continuing
"Well, I suppose you should let the others know what happened then. Kyouko, Madoka, Suzaku, Jeremiah, Fate, Yuuno, Arf, Hayate, Signum, Zafira..." She counted them off her fingers. "They'll be wanting to know what happened to him after all."
They all nodded slowly as they straightened themselves out.
"Good, now you all should go home and get cleaned up," Shamal said as she clapped her hands. "C.C.-san, can you help me move Lelouch-san to his room?"
The green haired woman nodded as they went back and wheeled Lelouch's bed out along with all the medical equipment needed to monitor his condition as the other girls left the Medical Ward.
Over the next two months, C.C. noted that things were difficult for all those involved.
A lot of curses, a long of rage, a lot of tears...
But things slowly fell into a pattern.
Everyone would take turns looking after him with the exception of Mami and Hayate, who came nearly everyday to help.
Jeremiah, who had opened up a small confectionery business to help pay the bills, would also come once a day to drop off snacks for the caretakers before heading back to work, saying that he couldn't bear to look at his lord in his current state and that he had to take care of Einhalt.
"He's always beating himself up over it," Mami said as she, Hayate and C.C. watched Jeremiah leave.
"Orange is probably Lelouch's most loyal follower," C.C. said, helping herself to a cupcake. "He's never once betrayed him since coming into his service."
"Even you, C.C.-san?" Hayate asked.
"Near the beginning when I didn't much care," C.C. replied. "I tried to break it off with him but he wouldn't let me leave...hmm, he's gotten better."
"Is he planning to retire and become Confectioner?" Mami asked as she picked one up too.
"That or work on an orange plantation," C.C. replied. "He hasn't told me what he's decided on but it might be safe to say that he is...though as a cadet, Hayate...are you sure it's okay to take so much time taking care of Lelouch? The last thing he would want is for you to fail your exams because of him."
"It's fine," Hayate replied. "I've already memorized enough of the material to pass. Besides, spending time with Lelouch-san right now is more important than that..."
The older woman frowned a bit as she looked toward the calender on the wall.
Lelouch's estimated time left was slowly dwindling down and his body was showing it. His pulse was getting weaker by the day as was his heart rate. C.C. was used to seeing people die before her, Mami had also had her parents die...but Hayate? She wondered if she should ask the hospital to ban her from visiting for the girl's own sake.
"Have you gotten any sleep at all?" Mami asked.
"I'm fine," Hayate repeated. "I can do this much at least..."
Mami looked over at C.C. who shook her head in response. There was no point arguing this. The girl was determined to spend Lelouch's last few moments with him.
Her mouth twitched involuntarily at the thought. If anyone should be doing this it should be Nunnally, but she is over there and only Lelouch can call find the Hikari Studio which allowed them to cross the border between Worlds. Which meant that she and Suzaku will be stuck over here. Oh well.
Her thoughts were broken when a monitor appeared beside Mami's head.
"Mami, C.C., we have a problem," Kururugi Suzaku said when his face appeared on screen.
"What happened?" Mami asked.
"We've just got word that one of the Bureau's Lost Logia Storage Units has been attacked. Most of the inventory was destroyed but from the security footage, we know what the thief took..."
"What did he take?" C.C. asked.
"Here's the footage..."
Suzaku's face disappeared, only to be replaced by a static and fuzzy video clip.
It showed a person...a man judging from the shape of his body, running down the corridor to a large vault before pulling out a strange device that he used to cut through the reinforced steel and barriers of the vault before slipping in. A few minutes later, several Bureau officers can be seen heading toward the vault only for the door to be hacked to pieces from something on the inside.
When the dust cleared, all the officers were lying on the ground with a white figure in a black cape standing over them. It turned its yellow eyes toward the camera before sending a blue shock wave at it, destroying it.
"That was...!" C.C. gasped as her eyes widened.
"The Eternal Memory that Lelouch turned over at the 'request' of the Bureau," Suzaku replied with a nod. "We have a rogue Kamen Rider on our hands."
"Rogue...Kamen Rider?" Hayate repeated. "What does that mean?"
"That's not the question we should be asking," C.C. said. "Rather...what does he plan to do with..."
A loud explosion cut her off as an alarm started sounding throughout the hospital.
"C.C.? What's going on over there?" Suzaku asked as he tried to look to the side of his monitor.
"Sounds like an attack," C.C. said as she and Mami stood up from their seats while Hayate's grip tightened around Lelouch's hand.
"But what's the point?" Hayate asked. "This is a civilian hospital...!"
"With one very important patient..." Mami said as they all turned to Lelouch.
"But...Lelouch-san is already d-dying...! what's the point of attacking a hospital to try and kill him?"
"Some people would have people brought in front of them so they could see the person die in front of them to visually confirm their death," C.C. muttered as her thoughts raced. "It seems our dear Rogue wants to make absolutely sure Lelouch is out of the picture..."
"But why? What is he after?"
"We can ask him when we catch him, Hayate-chan," Mami said as her barrier jacket formed around her. "We need to stop him from getting here."
"I'll keep watch over Lelouch," C.C. said. "You two try to hold him off until help arrives."
"Got it," Hayate nodded as she took her device in her hand.
The two of them exited the room as C.C. walked back over to Lelouch and ran her hand down his face.
"I'm sorry," C.C. said. "But I need to do this."
Ignoring the screams of pain and the sounds of what seemed to be shattering glass, C.C. held Lelouch's hand in her own as the Code shined upon her head.
"I'm sorry..." C.C. said again. "For everything that will happen from now on. Hah...what's with me? I wasn't supposed to care..."
With that said, C.C. stood up and smiled as Eternal cut through the door with his knife. His cloak and dagger was stained with blood and C.C. had the smallest of thoughts that none of it was his own.
"Stand aside," the Rider ordered.
"Sorry, but no can do," C.C. replied as she held her arms out. "This man is the man of miracles after all. I won't let you kill him"
"Then we have a problem. One that I will fix right now."
It was if the man was moving in slow motion. She watched him flip the knife around in his hands as if he had been using it all his life. Such was the power of the Kamen Rider armors.
She watched as he brought it diagonally upward from his waist to his right shoulder, shooting a blue shock wave at her. She felt it cut into her skin as she was thrown off her feet and through the window behind her.
But the smile remained on her face.
For this will be the last time she will feel this pain.
"Now then..." Eternal said as he heard a wet thud come from the window. "Time to make sure you are dead for real."
Flipping the dagger around so that the blade was pointed down in his grip he plunged the blade into Lelouch's chest, causing blood to splatter into the breath mask and all the monitor machines around him to flat line.
"Hmm," Eternal huffed as he pulled the blade out and then in a flash, plunged it into the man's skull as well. He then extracted the blade and threw the blood off with a flick of his wrist. "There are no such things as miracles after all."
Spinning on his heel, he turned and left the room without another word, not even bothering to look down at Mami as she crawled into the room.
She had one hand over her stomach, holding a wound that was bleeding profusely. She hated herself. She couldn't even last one minute against the Evil Rider. He had cut through her shots as if they were made out of paper before grabbing Hayate and throwing her through the wall and stabbed her in the stomach and left her to bleed out.
"L...Lelouch...san..." she groaned as she tried to get up to him, ignoring the constant beep coming from the machines. "Please...Lelouch...san! You can't...be dead! You can't be dead!"
She managed to pull herself up onto his bed, only to see the cruel scene in front of her.
The man who saved her and the man she grew to love with a hole in his heart and his forehead.
"No...no no no!" she wailed as she gripped his hand. "Lelouch-san! Open your eyes please! You can't...you can't die! You can't leave me as well! Please! Please...please...no..."
She felt her body fall limp as her head fell down against Lelouch's chest. She struggled to lift it up as tears fell out of her eyes and blood flowed from her mouth.
"Please...wake up...I never had to say it...all those times you had to leave...I never said it because I knew you would always come back. So please...don't make me say it now...don't make me say goodbye now! Lelouch-san...please...don't die! Live!"
But it was impossible.
There was no way to survive being stabbed in both the heart and the brain. Even if he was twitching slightly, it was probably only a death reflex...
Mami blinked to clear her eyes of tears. The monitoring equipment started beeping again and the blood flowing from Lelouch's chest had suddenly stopped. He couldn't have bled out already. Running a hand over his chest...she couldn't feel a wound.
"What is...?" she asked as she felt his fingers twitch again. "Lelouch-san?"
She saw it clearly this time. His face began to twitch as if he was waking up.
"Lelouch-san? Lelouch-san! Koff..."
She tried to stay awake but the pain and loss of blood was making it difficult for her.
She fell towards the floor but Lelouch's hand shot forward and grabbed her just before she hit the floor, allowing her to softly lie down instead.
Looking back up, her vision was a little blurry, but she could see Lelouch slowly sit up from his bed, rubbing a hand over his chest and forehead before pulling off the wires connected to the machines. Holding a hand above her, she saw a black Mid-Childan circle appear below her before he staggered out into the hallway while her wounds started to heal.
"Lelouch...san..." Mami tried to call out to him but he was already gone.
Hayate stirred as she pushed herself up from the ground, wincing a bit as she felt glass below her hands and legs.
"Rein?" she asked as she looked around. "What happened?"
"We got beat bad," her unison device replied. "Oh no! Here he comes again!"
Hayate flipped her body over to see Eternal strolling out of the hospital, seemingly without a care in the world. He paused when he noticed her and ran his hand across the lower side of his helmet.
"The Mistress of the Night Sky..." Eternal said. "You might pose a problem later on...might as well deal with you as well."
But as soon as he took a step toward her, several shots rang out in the air, striking him in the back and causing him to stagger forward.
"What?" Eternal turned toward the direction he was shot from, only to see Lelouch walking toward him, his entire body drenched in blood. "That's...impossible!"
"Lelouch-san!" Hayate screamed but the man wasn't listening as the Ride Booker opened up despite being in gun mode.
With a flick of his wrist, a single card shot out and landed perfectly into the Decadriver.
"Henshin..." Lelouch said as the two ends slammed themselves together.
Nine digital shadows shot out as he continued walking towards them. The shadows slammed into his body, creating a black and white Decade armor around his body before ten long bars shot out from the Decadriver and attached themselves to his helmet, causing a pink color scheme to light up the armor and for the his visor to turn green and the small gem on his crown to shine yellow.
"Decade!" Eternal snarled as the other Rider ran forward and slashed down at Eternal as the white Rider raised his dagger to block the hit and force Decade into a pillar.
Eternal then tried to follow it up by slashing Decade but Decade countered by slashing him across the chest and stepping past him.
The two of them stood with their backs toward the other for a second before Decade spun around and tried to stab him but Eternal knocked the blade down with his dagger. Both Riders took a step back from the other and after another second clashed again, their blades locking as they were right in each other's faces.
"How?" Eternal demanded. "I cut your heart and brain myself. How are you still alive? Answer me! What the hell are you?"
"A passing through Kamen Rider..." Decade replied. "Remember that."
Eternal's arm was bathed in blue flame as he forced Decade to the side again, causing him to roll across the ground. Eternal ran after him but Decade threw a kick at his chest to knock him back, giving himself time to stand back up and slash Eternal as the Rider attempted another attack, leaving them with their backs toward each other again.
The two of them spun around at the same time but Decade was faster and managed to slash Eternal across the chest yet again before sticking his blade into the small indent on Eternal's dagger and with a small grunt, forced it out of Eternal's hand.
"Impossible!" Eternal breathed as a card flew out of the blade and into the Decadriver.
[ATTACK RIDE! SLASH!]
Decade's blade was bathed in a pink light as he slashed Eternal across the chest, sending him flying through the air before landing in a heap on the ground. Without missing a beat, Decade threw up another card and it landed inside the Decadriver.
[FINAL ATTACK RIDE! DE-DE-DE-DECADE!]
Nine cards shot out of the Decadriver in a straight line toward the Dark Rider as he struggled to push himself back up.
With a pull of the trigger, a pink bolt shot out toward Eternal and exploded around him.
"Decade-san..." Hayate gasped as the dust cleared, only to reveal a giant hole in the ground leading toward the underground sewers. "No...he escaped..."
"Are you okay?" Decade asked as he turned toward her.
"Eh...uh...yes..." Hayate nodded.
With that, Decade's armor vanished, leaving behind the still bloody Lelouch as he fell onto his knees and face first onto the ground.
"Lelouch-san!" Hayate screamed as she pulled herself up and limped her way toward Lelouch. "Get a hold of yourself! Lelouch-san!"
She flipped his body over and ran her hand across his chest but she didn't feel any cuts or wounds.
"No injuries? But where did all this blood come from?"
Hayate looked up to see Mami heading towards them, with her sleeves and front completely bloody.
"Mami-san! Are you okay?"
"Never mind me," the blonde said quickly. "What about Lelouch-san?"
"I...I don't know. I don't see any wounds but he's not waking up. Where did all this blood come from? Where's C.C.-san? Maybe she knows?"
"I don't know," Mami replied. "I saw her get thrown from the window but..."
"You're not going to get anything out of Big Sis anymore..." a voice said causing them to look up.
"Kiva-la?" Hayate asked. "What do you mean?"
"Big Sis hit her head on the ground and isn't waking up...she's over there."
"Gaargh...!" Lelouch let out a sharp gasp, causing the women to jump as they turned toward him.
"C.C." he breathed. "Get me to...C.C!"
"But Lelouch-san, you're..."
Hayate flinched as she looked towards Mami who nodded. The pulled the man up to his feet and supported him as they followed Kiva-la to where C.C. was lying in the snow, blood splattered around her like blood red wings.
"C.C.-san?" Hayate asked. "Shouldn't she be getting up now?"
Lelouch, however threw himself off of them and stumbled his way towards C.C. before dropping to his knees beside her and clutching her hand.
"C.C.!" Lelouch roared as he found himself in the World of C.
There, the woman in front of him turned around.
"Oh, I didn't think I'd see you again so soon, Lelouch," C.C. replied.
"C.C..." Lelouch began. "Why?"
"Because it's better for an adult to die instead of a child, isn't it, Boya?"
"Don't give me that!"
"What? You don't appreciate your own logic being used against you?"
Lelouch's eyes flared as he turned his head away from her.
"You need to get it through your head that you are important, Lelouch," C.C. interrupted. "Not just for the sake of the Bureau, but for the women around you too. What would have happened to Hayate and Mami if you died?"
Lelouch didn't answer as he clenched his teeth and balled his fists.
"More importantly, you need to keep your promise to me," C.C. said as she walked forward and wrapped her arms around her neck. "This is your punishment. For all the evils you have committed, you will live as an Immortal. For all the lives you have taken, both evil and innocent, you will live your lives out instead. There is no punishment more suitable than that, is there?"
"No..." Lelouch admitted. "A coma or death would be too easy...but...you...you are going to leave me as well?"
He finally turned his head back up so he could look her in the eyes.
"First Euphie...then Shirley...and now you as well..."
"Such is the life of the Immortal...the last Immortal..."
"Why are you so sad? I'm not, look, see this smile? You kept your promise Lelouch. Take pride in that. One of many you no doubt thought you wouldn't be able to keep."
"Yes, your plan. You planned to die from your injuries, and you did. When Eternal stabbed you, thus allowing the Code to transfer from me to you. Just like all your other plans, Lelouch. It doesn't go the way you think it will go."
"C.C...don't leave. Don't leave me as well..."
"You still have Jeremiah and Suzaku. Granted, two men isn't quite the same as a beautiful woman like me...sorry about that."
"It's too late for that..."
Looking down, Lelouch saw what she was talking about. Like his parents, C.C's body was slowly being dissolved by the World.
"The dead can't stay for long after all," C.C. said.
Lelouch refused to let her go as he grabbed her and pulled her into a hug.
"I'm sorry...Lelouch...my Demon King."
And then, he fell forward onto his knees, the blue lights scattering across the world around him.
She was gone. His first true ally and companion was dead. Something he thought would never happen in years. Something he failed to take into account for when planning his own death.
C.C. took advantage of it and passed on the Code to him just before he was killed.
A dark laugh somehow escaped his lips.
He couldn't help it. All he could do was laugh as he stared up at the false representation of Jupiter above him.
It was an empty and hollow laugh that seemed to echo back at him from all across the World of C.
He had no one to blame for it. There was no one to blame for it.
It was C.C.'s choice. Her wish that he had promised her so long ago.
She had told him from the very beginning after all.
"Those who wield the Power of Kings shall forever stand alone."
A soft voice called out to him, ceasing his laughter..
This was the World of C. He didn't need to turn around to know who it was. There was only one other person who it could be.
"Madoka..." he said simply.
"Umm..." the avatar of "God" or the collective consciousness of mankind began. "I know this wasn't how you have planned it...but um..."
"One can communicate with the dead in this world, correct?" Lelouch asked as he stood up and ignored her. From his tone of voice, no one would have suspected he had been so emotional seconds before.
"That's all I needed to hear. I won't ever use it, but it may be useful to someone else in the future."
"Lelouch-san...I know it won't make things better...but I can adjust your Code just a little bit. It won't take away the immortality that comes with it...but it may help you later on."
"Is that right?" Lelouch asked. "Thank you for that then. Where's the exit?"
"Where would you want it?"
"In front of me."
As he spoke, he saw the silver curtain appear in front of him. Without saying another word, he walked right through the curtain, but not before he heard Madoka say ever so softly, "I'm sorry..."
Back in the real world, he found himself still kneeling over C.C.'s body. He stood up and looked up into the sky.
"Lelouch-san?" Hayate called out softly from behind him. "Are you..."
She cut herself off. She knew the answer to that foolish question.
Was he hurt? Was he okay? It could have been either of those questions but the answer was the same.
He had lost one of his friends and was out in the cold wearing nothing but bloodied pajamas with his shirt torn open.
"Was anyone else hurt?" he asked.
"A lot of the staff was injured trying to stop Eternal," Mami replied. "However...no one else is dead."
"A small blessing then...that's good..." Lelouch muttered as he waved his hand over his eyes. "Hmm? What happened to the contacts?"
"Shamal removed them during your surgery," Hayate explained. "That's why you had a bandage over your eyes..."
"I see...well...with the Code, I won't be needing them anymore anyway."
"Then...your Geass is...?" Mami asked as Lelouch turned around, revealing a pair of clear violet eyes.
"Give me your communicator, Mami," Lelouch said as he held his hand out. "As the highest ranking officer on site, I need to take command."
"Y-yes sir...General," Mami said slowly as she held her communicator out to him.
"General?" Lelouch repeated.
"The...higher ups were a little...eager in awarding you your postmortem promotion, Lelouch-san," Mami explained. "You are now a Brigadier General."
Lelouch blinked for a moment as he took in the information.
He suddenly let out a laugh as he placed a hand over his eyes.
"As usual...once you hit rock bottom, you can only go up," he said as his lips twisted into a feral smile. He then took the communicator from Mami and turned it on to all frequencies.
"This is Brigadier General Lelouch Lamperouge to all TSAB forces in the area. Cranagan Memorial Hospital has been assaulted by an unidentified assailant and several of the personnel are injured. Damage to the hospital's systems are at this moment unknown but due to the urgency, I hereby order all available relief squads to deploy and extract the patients and wounded that can be moved immediately."
With that, he turned off the communicator and sighed before looking down at C.C.'s body.
"What...do we do about...?" Hayate began as she held onto his sleeve.
"For now...we leave it. Focus on saving those we can...leave the dead."
That's right...there was no helping her now.
He was alive and she wasn't.
He needs to continue to save and help people if he is to make this sacrifice worth it.
She didn't understand what was going on.
The kind man that wasn't Father was walking back and forth on the other side of the bars and was saying things she didn't understand.
He looked afraid. But it wasn't dark out and he could see, so what was there to be afraid of? Was it something that couldn't be seen that was scary?
She hugged the yellow thing that Mother gave her in worry. It was soft and warm and smelled like Mother and her favorite food
Then, the noise of one of the wall that kept her inside this place opened and closed, causing the man that wasn't Father to stop and turn toward the noise.
Then she saw Father walk in, causing the man that wasn't Father stop moving for a moment before running up to him. The man that wasn't Father pressed a hand against his own head and said something to Father before wrapping his arms around him.
When he finally put Father back down, he asked him something but Father didn't reply.
He asked him again, slower this time and Father replied.
The man that wasn't Father went still as he stared at Father.
He repeated what Father said back to him but Father didn't appear to have heard as he asked him something else.
The man that wasn't Father turned to look at her and Father did the same as he walked over to her.
Did he want something?
He didn't bend down and pick her up like Mother or the women that weren't Mother often did. He simply looked at her.
She looked at the yellow thing she was holding and wondered if he wanted to hug it as well so she held it up to him...only for his eyes to widen slightly and his mouth to thin. He looks as if he's about to cry.
Did she do something wrong?
She leaned to look past Father toward the man who wasn't Father.
He was still where he was before, with one hand against the wall.
She then turned to look back at Father.
Father was here, but where was Mother?
She looked around but couldn't see her.
So she opened her mouth.
Jeremiah snapped out of his daze as his head snapped toward the noise coming from Princess Einhalt's crib in shock.
"My...lord?" he asked slowly as he forced his body to move toward his emperor.
The young man's expression was a mixture of pain and shock as he stared at his daughter. His eyes were wide open, his pupils were contracted, his jaw hung open and was shaking.
"Mah...sa...?" Lady Einhalt asked again.
She was trying to say "Mother."
Her first words...and she was calling for her mother.
One that is no longer here.
His lord suddenly lowered the bars of the crib and wrapped his arms around the girl, his entire body shaking as he hugged her.
"I'm sorry..." he said as his grip tightened. "I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I'm sorry..."
But the girl simply looked at him before turning to Jeremiah over her father shoulder letting Jeremiah see her face.
The face of a confused one year old who doesn't understand what has happened.
Lelouch sat down at his desk and looked around the empty room.
It was a few days after the encounter with Eternal, his own miraculous recovery in the public eye, and his daughter's first word.
Eternal's successful theft of the Lost Driver and Eternal Memory from the TSAB Lost Logia storage had caused quite the stir as the man had made it all the way in undetected and then blasted his way out as if to make a statement.
Most likely it was to show that the TSAB was weak. That doesn't explain why Eternal specifically targeted the hospital to kill him.
"Is he working with the target...?" Lelouch mumbled. "Or does he see me as a threat? I'm not sure which one is worse...the second one is flattering though. At least someone takes me seriously. A shame that he's made himself an enemy."
With Lelouch's promotion to Brigadier General, he can now formerly create the unit he's wanted from the start. A military branch of the TSAB that will deal with problems of all scales. Military, political, civilian...he would be able to deal with all of them without being bagged down by the fools up top, specifically one Lieutenant General Regius Gaiz of the Capital Defense Corps who had been his direct superior while he was a colonel.
"For a man so concerned about defense, he sure doesn't act like it," Lelouch said to himself. "It's not like I have a criminal record...does he see my association with Hayate and Fate to be a red mark? Heh...that bloody hypocrite..."
He sighed as he rubbed his eyes. He was so used to wearing his contacts at every waking moment that his eyes felt so light and exposed without them.
"Hah..." he sighed again as he turned toward the blank screens behind him. "I guess I'm going to have to get used to not using Geass ever again...well, I suppose this way I won't ever be tempted to use it and Suzaku will stop bothering me whenever I do...even though it's brought me so much pain...I'd still rather have it then not...what?"
He blinked once and stared at his reflection on the screen.
He blinked again before standing up and placing a hand on the screen.
"Is...this real? How come I never noticed until now? Wait, how is this even possible? It should have...Madoka...this is what she meant...? Huu...hahaha...hahahahaha...what a splendid gift my goddess...this Code...no, this Code Geass..."
He was interrupted by a familiar knock on the door.
"Come in...Signum," he said as he closed his eyes quickly and opened them again to see his violet eyes reflected back at him before he turned around to face the Flame Knight.
"Lamperouge..." Signum said as she walked in. "How did you know it was me?"
"You knock once," Lelouch replied. "Mami knocks three times when she wants to come in. Homura, Suzaku and Jeremiah calls my name through the door. Madoka knocks twice and everyone that ever visits me else comes in without warning."
"I see your mind has already returned...this place looks a lot bigger without your things."
"I've noticed..." Lelouch nodded. "Come to see me off? Or were you worried about something?"
"For someone who has suffered the trauma of his own death for the first time...you seem to be taking it well," Signum said as she looked him over.
"Would you rather I constantly kill myself in a fit of insanity then?" Lelouch asked as he raised an eyebrow. "There is no point in doing anything but raising Einhalt and work on catching Eternal right now. With my new rank, I can authorize my own missions and create my own forces. That bastard can't hide from me..."
"And...the other problem?" Signum asked.
"The Code won't be going anywhere," Lelouch replied, pulling down his collar slightly, revealing his Code. "As far as the Bureau knows, C.C. performed some ritual from our Earth and gave her life to heal me. Only the people who knew what C.C. really was knows the truth, and I expect it to remain that way, understood?"
"Of course. I have no reason to say anything about that to anyone."
"Then that brings us back to the matter at hand. Why are you here?"
"Your Code..." Signum began. "You're an Immortal now...correct?"
"That's right," Lelouch nodded. "Just like C.C. was."
The "was" left a bad taste in his mouth as he narrowed his eyes.
"Why do you ask?" he continued.
"There is a matter I wish to discuss with you relating to that," Signum replied. "It deals with the Wolkenritter and the Tome of the Night Sky."
"Does it now?" Lelouch asked as an eyebrow shot up to his bangs. "And what is there to discuss? Is the corruption coming back after all?"
"No...it's about what will happen in the far future."
"In the far...Signum...what are you suggesting?"
"I know you, Lamperouge," Signum said as she pointed a finger at him. "You are the type to bear his burdens alone. I will not let you distance yourself from the others like you did when you were ill."
"So what?" Lelouch asked as his eyes narrowed at her. "You wish me to spend my time among people who will die centuries before my time arrives? You expect me to watch as everyone around me grows old and leave me behind?"
"Not...everyone," Signum replied unflinchingly.
Again, Lelouch raised an eyebrow at her.
"What are you..." Lelouch began before his eyes widened slightly. "Signum...you're not saying..."
"Though it is distasteful to think about my Mistress in such a way...she will eventually die someday," Signum said as she placed a hand over her heart. "And there is a chance we Wolkenritter will disappear along with her if what Shamal thinks is true. However...on the chance that our lives are not completely tied to Hayate...the Knights of the Night Sky will need a new master."
"Should that time come to pass...Lelouch Lamperouge...would you take the Tome for yourself?"
Lelouch stared at the female knight in shock. He had not considered that possibility. But even then...it was only a possibility with no guarantee...normally anyway.
"You are expecting me to suffer through a lot for a mere possibility, Signum," Lelouch said.
"You will suffer through it regardless," Signum countered. "The only difference is how much regret you will feel at the end."
"Heh..." Lelouch sighed with a small smile. "Since when were you so good at talking?"
"Unlike you, I've had decades of practice. Well? What is your answer."
"I suppose...that I will look forward to our future partner ship...Miss Flame Knight."
"And I as well...Mister Demon Lord."
And with that, Signum left him along with nothing but his thoughts to tide him over.
He toyed with the idea of being an immortal king with a small band of immortal knights with him for a moment before waving the thought away and pulling out a stack of forms from an envelope.
The funeral preparations weren't going to do themselves after all...
Author's End Corner
Harouki: Are you lot happy now? Here's your god damn first chapter.
CC: You killed me...
Harouki: That's right but hang around for a bit. You'll be around in flashbacks and the like.
Lelouch: Code Geass?
Harouki: Yeap. Anyone who doesn't like it can close the tab/window and not come back. StrikerS will contain slight to a lot of deviations from cannon what with so many characters added to the storyline. I will say this at the start! I intend to have Subaru, Homura and Nove all in the same scene and kicking ass if it's the last thing I do!
Next chapter will probably not be coming soon. I'm more interested in Persona/Madoka right now and if one person asks about this fic again, I will block you. I don't even understand why you want more of this to be honest. I look back on it and I see one of the most controverted crossover I've ever seen. I change my mind halfway through the story and run with it. I have half a mind to just place a crap chapter out and see all the praises come in to see if anyone is really serious.
I've even changed most of the events I had planned and rendered previous things non-canon. Hell, I'll blame the Parallel Worlds and Time Loops. I really don't care anymore. Take your damn chapter and sit on your hands SILENTLY hoping for another one because I'm focusing on Persona/Madoka right now.
Good day to you all.
At the end of the page, the current date will be the Ninth Month of the 68th year on the new Mid-Childan Calender. 2 years and five months have passed since the end of CMLR proper.