There is an ancient riddle among the users of the force, largely forgotten. It has existed since before the republic, before the Jedi, before even the ancient Rakata. It has only one verse, and its answer has never been gleaned. It translates to this:
One king in the shadows, one queen in the light,
Who is the one that will rule in the night?
There are only two beings that have ever known the answer, and that answer could destroy everything.
The Shadow King
His dark halls were quiet, the only sound being the slow tapping on his finger on the arm of his throne. The giant sphere that was the ceiling let in the distant starlight, showing a spectacular view of the galaxy hundreds of thousands of light years away that was entirely lost on him. He hated the light. The only reason that he kept it in sight at all was that he wanted to keep his enemies in sight.
Fortunately, he was going to rectify that situation very soon.
He'd sent the challenge, and this time she had to accept it.
Lelouch first realized that his plan had failed when he felt the thrum of an engine reverberating through his body. Dead men weren't supposed to feel. He was supposed to be dead, no, he remembered being dead. He remembered the feeling of the blade piercing his chest and spine, of falling down the ramp, of Nanalee holding his hand as the lights went dark.
Yet here he was, and that meant that his plans had gone horribly wrong. There was no place for him in the new world, and unless there was some situation that required his assistance he would have to remedy that.
Sighing, Lalouch opened his eyes. The ceiling directly above him was a drab gray, lit only by long strips of blue luminescent material. The room around him was a drab grey as well, furnished with what appeared to be a metal desk attached to a wall, a small metal stool, the cot he lay on, and what he guessed was probably a toilet. A prison cell.
Which, unfortunately, meant that he was the captive of… Brittania? The UFN? The Black Knights? It had to be one of them. Had they somehow brought him back to life?
Lelouch was roused from his thoughts when he heard banging coming from down the hallway. He stood cautiously, his legs feeling strangely wobbly from nonuse. After walking to what appeared to be the doorway (a strange red forcefield) he looked for the source of the noise…
And looked straight into the eyes… of Kallen Kozuki.
Kallen froze for a moment… then began to yell and bash at the field even harder. She was imprisoned as well.
The situation was beginning to look worse and worse… and now he would have to explain everything to Kallen to regain her trust. Lelouch did not look forward to that conversation at all.
As he took a closer look at their surroundings, Lelouch began to realize that the situation was not as straightforward as it seemed. There was a long corridor outside the door, lined with identical red forcefield doors. If they were all full then this was a major prison complex, one that he had never known to exist, which should of course be impossible. The technology for a forcefield like this did not exist either. Then again, HE should not currently exist.
"Hey! Are you listening to me you damned bastard? ANSWER ME!" Kallen certainly hadn't changed since they'd last met. He smiled. That would've been a shame.
Lelouch noticed footsteps coming down the hallway, and watched as three figures came to a stop in front of his cell. Two of them were tall, thick men in strange white armor. The eyes of their helmets were of some black substance, so that negated any chance of Geassing them. The third man, on the other hand, wore a strange grey uniform. When the field flashed away, the white figures raised he strange black guns that they held, pointing them directly at his face.
The man in the uniform nodded to him. "Come with us, calmly, if you will." He looked old and worn, his posture suggesting that of an experienced soldier.
Lelouch shrugged and walked out of the cell. The man in the uniform started down the hallway and Lelouch followed, the guards falling in behind. The sound of their armored boots clacking against the metal floor reminded him oddly of his days as emperor, the thundering of thousands of his geassed soldiers marching through Tokyo, parading his victory through the streets.
Kallen's shouts receded into the distance as they walked down the passageway. Lelouch looked into each cell that they passed, and his confusion and dread grew with every step. He'd expected that some of the black knights might have been captured, but it seemed like every last rank and file member of the knights was imprisoned here, and then some. Tohdoh, Ohgi, Tamaki, Xingke, Rakshata, and Villetta were all there(although they appeared to still be asleep). Other people were imprisoned as well, people that he recognized, including Lloyd Asplund, Cecile Croomy, Gino Weinberg and Anya Alstreim. He stumbled for a moment when he passed by the last cell and realized that Suzaku lay inside.
A door to a strange elevator whooshed open, and the gun barrels behind him prodded him inside it.
It took ten minutes for the elevator to reach the floor it was being sent to. In that ten minutes Lelouch came up with five different explanations for the situation and three different escape plans, all of which he discarded. In the end, he realized, he knew almost absolutely nothing about the situation. He and almost everyone he had ever worked with had been captured by some strange foreign power with weapons, ranking, armor, and technology unkown to him. The only thing he knew for certain was that someone along the line had made some huge mistake and now he had to do something about it.
The doors opened on a short hallway that ended in a pair of double doors, guarded by two more white armored figures, which the walked through. They entered a room that resembled a office. It was fairly plain, its only furnishings being a desk and two chairs. The uniformed man sat in the far chair as the two armored figures took up guard positions next to the door. He motioned Lelouch to sit down. Mentally shrugging, Lelouch took a seat.
They stared at each other across the desk for a moment in silence. Then, the man started to speak.
"I suppose I will start by introducing myself. I am Gilad Pellaeon, captain of Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera, Admiral of the Imperial navy." He held out his hand.
Lelouch eyed the hand for a moment. Then, sighing, he grasped the hand. "I suppose you already know my name. Now tell me, why am I alive?"
Pellaeon's brow furrowed. "I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no idea who you are."
Lelouch's brain practically exploded with this revelation. He doesn't know who I am? The DEMON EMPEROR? The butcher of millions? The face of all that was terrible in Brittania? HOW!
Lelouch slammed his palms down on the desk. "BRITTANIA! THE BLACK KNIGHTS! LELOUCH V BRITTANIA! ZERO! Do those words mean ANYTHING to you?"
He heard the guards behind him clatter for their weapons, but the Admiral motioned them down. "No, I've never heard any of those words before. All I know is that One day all of our cells were empty and the next they were full, as well as our cargo holds. The only explanation was a note I found in this office. It told of a boy with black hair and violet eyes who would be the answer to our problems, that all the equipment and personnel would be necessary to him. I can only assume that you are the boy to which the note referred."
Lelouch sat back in his chair. "Where… where are we?"
"On board the Chimera, my ship." Pellaeon scratched his mustache. "I suppose… do you know what a Star Destroyer is? The Galactic Empire? Emperor Palpatine? Coruscant?"
Lelouch shook his head, his mind blank. "Interesting…" Pellaeon continued. "It would appear my theory is correct. The technology in our cargo hold baffles our science officers. Nothing of its like has been created in our galaxy. It may seem far fetched, but I think it may be possible…" The admiral's eyes were piercing, "that you are a very long way from home."
Lelouch couldn't think anything for a moment. Then, suddenly, everything clicked. The strange force fields, guns, soldier, the admiral not knowing his name… it was possible that the admiral was lying, of course, but at the moment almost all of the evidence pointed towards the fact that they were now somewhere completely different. He would need time to verify this, but for now…
Suddenly, Lelouch realized that everything around him had stopped moving. The corners of his eyes were clouded with darkness, and he couldn't move.
WELL DONE. The force of the other voice in his head was horrible and huge, like the shadow of a giant battleship. You have passed my test.
What? Who are you? What test?
The test of intelligence. You have already determined that this world might be different than your own. I will now confirm that suspicion: this galaxy is not your own. I brought you here to participate in the greatest competition of all time, took your soul back from the unending darkness. Are you not grateful?
I was supposed to die. I was at PEACE.
Heh. No matter. I have chosen you as my champion. Would you really pass up the chance to test your mettle against the one of the greatest strategists in existence?
Your answer is irrelevant. All you must know is this: I have provided you with powerful forces from your own world and a possible ally that may grant you the army you will need. All you need to do is reach out and grasp the reigns. Your opponent will be joining up with the mortal enemy of your new allies, and you must rise to fight him.
And why would I do that? Why should I fight for you, when you have ruined all of my plans?
If you choose not to fight, then your friends and allies will die… slowly, painfully, one by one, and you will be left alone and powerless.
…very well. You leave me no choice.
I'll be watching… so don't fail me.
The shadows receded, and everything returned to normal. Lelouch instantly regained his composure and immediately went to work.
"You mentioned technology in your cargo hold. What type of technology?" Lelouch asked.
The Admiral sat back for a moment. "There appear to be several dozen large combat droids and a huge container of some strange materials, as well as a large cache of replacement parts for the droids."
Lelouch was confused. "Droids?"
"You do not know- ah, droids are semi intelligent robots, but if the one in our hold belong to you, how do you not know-"
"Wait." Lelouch almost chuckled. "These… droids… wouldn't happen to be large, metal, somewhat people shaped machines, would they?"
"Well, yes." Pellaeon answered.
"Then those are not droids. They are from my world, and they are called nightmares. They are mechanized armored combat vehicles. Now, tell me more about this empire that you are from and the state of the galaxy."
Lelouch sat back as Pellaeon gave a short explanation of the galactic situation. His mind reeled with wonder when he learned that they not only had space travel, but they controlled the entire galaxy, and these Star destroyers were in fact several kilometer long space battleships. He was less enchanted by the reports of the faction he was joining with. They were a harsh and cruel empire, much like Britannia had been. Worse than Britannia, however, was that it had all been held together by one emperor, and when that man had been killed at the hands of rebels the entire empire had been shattered. It had almost been remade by a man named Thrawn, who Pellaeon had apparently worked with and spoke very reverently of. These rebels had apparently formed a new republic, which he supposed would probably be the enemy that the voice had spoken of. Still, Lelouch did not want to repair an empire that would bring more destruction, but he had no choice… for now.
"I would have liked to meet this Thrawn man." Lelouch told Pellaeon. "He sounds like a brilliant tactician. I would have liked to play a game of chess with him… but on to business."
Lelouch sat forward in his chair, his expression serious. "I have been sent here to aid your cause. Not to sound overly pompous, but I may be an excellent replacement for Thrawn."
Pellaeon looked skeptical. "I'm not sure who you think you are young man, but I doubt you have anywhere near the tactical prowess of Thrawn." The man held Lelouch's gaze for a tense moment, but then sighed. "However… that note did say that you would answer our problems, and somehow I feel that I should at least give you a chance. I will accept whatever help you can offer. "
Lelouch nodded. "Very well. I believe that our first order of business should be to unify these… Moffs, was it?"
Pellaeon raised his eyebrows. "That would be a major step, but that is not possible in this current situation. The different warlords hate each other."
Lelouch smiled. "Tell me, Pellaeon, who is the most important person in an empire?"
Pellaeon blinked. "An emperor, I suppose."
"Exactly. You are an empire without an emperor, therefore you cannot act cohesively. There is a simple solution to that, however."
Pellaeon raised an eyebrow. "And what is that?"
"I shall BECOME your emperor."
Pellaeon stood up, alarmed. "You can't be serious."
Lelouch grinned. "And why not? Did the emperor leave any heirs?"
Pellaeon frowned. "Not that I know of."
"Exactly." Lelouch spread his arms. "You look upon the one and only true son of emperor Palpetine, Lelouch V Palpetine."
Pellaeon's eyes widened. "You mean you would pretend to be the heir of the emperor? That might work on imperial loyalists, but there are many men who would see through the deception, and many more who simply wouldn't care."
"That was only one part of my plan. I have experience in taking control of empires, you know. The second part requires a crushing military victory over a dissident moff. How strong are your forces, Admiral Pellaeon, in comparison to the various moffs?"
Pellaeon scratched his head. "We could probably defeat most of them, but it would be costly."
Lelouch nodded. "Would they trust your word?"
Lelouch grinned. "Very well. Before we start this operation, I will need my people freed, as well as maps and information on military technology, strategic positioning of the enemy's forces, and profiles on the personalities of various moffs."
Lelouch stood and turned to leave. "Wait." Pellaeon said. "Your people will require rooms. I can grant you the former Grand Admiral's quarters. That aside, what makes you think you can do this?"
Lelouch turned back to the Admiral, a mad glint in his eye. "Why do I know I can do this? Because I'm Lelouch V Britannia."
As he left, an officer escorted him to the Grand admiral's quarters, which he found decorated with a huge collection of holographic art.
The officer handed him a strange device called a datapad that showed a map of the ship with a blinking red dot representing his location. He immediately set off to the holding cells. If he was going to do this, he needed the Black knights and the others, and that meant regaining their trust.
Which was probably going to take a while.