I don't own Code Geass
Shinjuku Ghetto, 2017
Lelouch watched in numb shock as C.C. crumpled before him, the bullet that had been meant for him embedded in her forehead. He stared in shocked silence at the blood pooling now beneath her head, staining and twisting her green hair into an unnatural red. The sounds of combat poured in from behind ruined walls, the screams of the dying filtering through the air. A harsh chuckle drew his attention upward.
The Captain of the Guard was laughing quietly, a nasty grin turning his lips. "Well what foul luck do we have here? We were supposed to take the girl in, but it seems the terrorists killed her already, along with a Britannian schoolboy. How tragic." He looked to Lelouch, saying," How does that sound to you schoolboy?"
Lelouch was barely paying any attention to him, instead taking in the scenery around him, the ruined building he had dragged C.C. to an eternity ago. I'm back, he thought with a giddy joy, I'm really back.
He felt something cool and smooth snake up his hand and grasp his wrist, and had only a second to realize that it was C.C.'s hand before he was blinded by a bright light.
Hello there, Lelouch, fancy meeting you out here.
"C.C., is that really you?" He hoped his voice didn't sound too hopeful.
"Honestly, fool boy, who else would it be?" Her voice was filled with dry mirth.
"Excuse me for being a little cautious, Witch. I think the situation merits it." Lelouch huffed in annoyance, mentally crossing his arms. I need my Geass, C.C. Offer me our contract.
"Very well, then. I assume you remember my old lines?"
"Yes, yes, the "power of kings will condemn me to a life of solitude," I remember, just hurry up with this."
"Then you accept the terms of the contract?" Her voice was strangely inquisitive.
"Good. Now why don't you get rid of the kind gentleman whose about to shoot you?"
"Actually," Lelouch said with a nasty grin, "I have a better idea."
"Well, what do you think?" The Captain huffed in annoyance.
Lelouch stood slowly, his hand coming up to cover his left eye. "That sounds like a marvelous idea," he said, an insidious smile snaking its way across his face. "But I have a better one."
"Oh you do, huh?" The Captain said in good humor, playing along. "And what, pray tell, would that be?"
Lelouch grinned. "Well, if you insist." He uncovered his left eye. "I, Lelouch vi Britannia, command you, all of you, obey my every command!"
The Royal Guards eyes began to glow a faint red. The Captain's grin turned manic. "Happily Your Highness!" As one, he and his men kneeled, crossing their arms over their breast, the mindless servants bowing before their new master.
"Very creative," C.C. said, rising up behind him and smirking at the kneeling soldiers. "Why didn't you do this last time?"
"Last time I was too heady, too high on my new power. I made a lot of mistakes because of it," Lelouch said, stepping closer to the gathered soldiers. "Your orders are as follows: in precisely thirty minutes you will locate Margrave Jeremiah Gottwald, and only Gottwald, and bring him to Prince Clovis' command center. Tell him that the prince has special orders for him and that they must speak in private. You will escort him there personally. Am I understood?"
"Yes, Your Highness!" They shouted as one.
"Also," Lelouch added," there's one more thing I need you to do."
Villeta Nu woke up painfully, gritting her teeth as pain lanced through her skull. She brought her hand up to the back of her head, running her fingers through her hair before wincing when she found the welt that seemed to have suddenly appeared on her person. She tried to remember what happened when she realized something horrible.
She had no idea where she was.
She sat up slowly trying to get a sense of placement. Looking around she saw that she was in what appeared to be a warehouse, one that had seen much better days, and that she was completely alone. She checked her belt, searching for her comm link, and discovered to her irritation that it was missing. Upon further inspection she felt a keen sense of dread.
The key to her Sutherland was gone. Whirling around she saw, too, that her Knightmare was nowhere to be seen.
"Dammit," she cursed quietly, standing up, "How the Hell am I going to explain this?"
"That was rather mean of you Lelouch," C.C. said, amused.
"I think it was well deserved myself," Lelouch said, an unrepentant grin lifting his face.
"You could have simply told her to forget all about you," she pointed out. "There was no need to have those goons knock her out."
Lelouch huffed in irritation. "That woman caused me no small amount of grief in my previous life. I was simply returning the favor."
"Then why didn't you just kill her and spare yourself the risk?"
"Because she made Ohgi happy, and I won't rob him of any chance they might have in the new world. After all the hardship they faced, they've earned that much.
"And besides," Lelouch added with a smirk, "she doesn't remember a thing about me."
When Villeta had arrived, it had been to meet the Royal Guard who, as per his orders, restrained her the second she came in range after exiting her Sutherland. After making her hand over the key to her Knightmare, Lelouch had ordered her to forget about the entire incident upon her waking, then ordered the Captain to smack her over the head with the butt of his pistol. She'd wake up with a headache but otherwise unharmed, and none the wiser as to his identity.
C.C. shrugged in indifference. "It doesn't really matter to me, so long as you fulfill your contract. Now, what next?"
"Now," Lelouch said with a snide grin," we begin again."
Prince Clovis la Britannia had never felt so humiliated in his entire life. The battle had been easy in the beginning, pathetically so in fact, to the point to where he had actually been begging for some sort of challenge. The old adage "Be careful what you wish for" ran through his mind.
In the space of just five minutes, the cleansing of Shinjuku Ghetto had been completely turned in on itself, five squads lost in quick succession without having inflicted any actual casualties on the enemy forces. It had begun with a single ambush, the loss of an entire squad, a momentary problem that seemed now to be the new norm on this ghastly battlefield. "LOST" signals were beginning to appear all across the map, as his Knights were either forced to eject or were killed with their exploding Knightmares.
What the Hell is going on? Clovis' mind shrieked in outrage. We were winning just moments ago. What could possibly have changed?
The terrorists seemed to be predicting all of his moves with ease, cutting off his advance, seemingly knowing wherever his men were and having already deployed into intercept points.
Who am I dealing with here? Clovis' panicked mind wondered. Is it Todoh?
The more he thought about, the more he realized that solution didn't make sense. Much as it pained him to admit, if Todoh had been in charge all along, the young prince would not have stood a chance.
Then who? Who could it possibly be if not the Miracle Man? The idea that some no name strategist was the one defeating him angered him to his core. If the homeland finds out about this, I'll be a laughingstock. That's not even mentioning what'll happen if they find out about Code-R.
"The terrorists are intercepting our transmission!" General Bartley Asperius shouted. "Change them now!"
"We already have sir, four times!" The panicking operative cried back.
This fact enraged Clovis, and as Asperius ordered the hapless man to change them again, he shrieked, "This failure is unacceptable!"
Asperius jumped back even as Clovis stormed his way down to the map. "Out of my way! I will command this battle personally from now on."
He would not let this fool get the better of him. His pride would not allow it.
Kallen Kozuki sported a feral grin as she watched the last pilot eject. "Take that you bastards!" she shouted with glee even as she had her Glasgow kick the useless Sutherland away from her. "You think you can just march into our homes, massacre us, and not expect a fight? Well think again!"
She was already beginning to look for more targets when the Voice returned. "Q-1, do you have a map of the area?"
"I do," Kallen confirmed," but it's not up to date."
"It'll do. Enter the subway system and move to these coordinates as quickly as you can. P-1 and P-5 will accompany you. Understand?"
"Yes, sir," Kallen said in response, angling her KMF around to the subway.
Kallen had long since given up trying to understand why it was that she followed the mysterious voice so easily, nor how it was that when he had greeted her and Ohgi, it had been by their names, stated with the familiarity of constant use. Though she had demanded to know how he knew who they were, he had merely shrugged her off, deeming it "unimportant" before presenting herself and the others with several squads worth of Britannian Sutherlands and munitions, and then turning what had been a stinging defeat into nothing but victory.
Hope had returned to them, and with it they seemed to move mountains.
A few minutes later, Kallen and the others had arrived at their destinations and took up their designated positions. The Glasgow's radio crackled again.
"Are you in position?" the Voice asked.
"On my command, you will fire your slash harkens into the ceiling's support structures. Timing is critical here. You must do this exactly on my command. Can you do this?"
"Of course we can, though I can't see the reason why we have to," Kallen huffed, strangely annoyed at his doubt.
"You'll see in a moment. Now prepare yourself the time approaches quickly."
Kallen and the others waited tensely, sweat building up on her forehead. What does he have us doing? she wondered. Then she began to feel it, a trembling in the rock as something large, numerous, and heavy moved across the area above.
"Now," the Voice roared suddenly," Do it now!"
There was no hesitation, just as she had assured him. They all fired as one, piercing the support structures and ripping them apart. The ceiling above began to crack, small pebbles and then large blocks falling to the ground below, then crumbled completely. Kallen saw first in shock, then in unabashed joy as Britannian Sutherlands fell with it, crashing into the ground and one another, some exploding as their Sakuradite cores were punctured while others were simply crushed under the sudden increase in weight.
She laughed as she imagined the looks on the faces of the pilots as they fell to their deaths. "Serves you right, you murdering Britannians!" She couldn't believe it; they weren't just surviving. They were winning.
And it's all because of him, she thought, awe struck. In just ten minutes, the Voice on the radio had turned a massacre into a lopsided victory. Just who are you?
"Listen up," the Voice suddenly said, bringing her out of her reverie, "I want all of you to disembark from your Knightmares right now and pull back. You are to escort as many people out of the ghettos as you possibly can."
"What kind of crap is that?" Kallen heard Tamaki shout," We're kicking ass here and you want us to split?"
"Yeah, what's the deal?" Kallen said angrily, not believing she was agreeing with Tamaki. "Thanks to you, we're winning."
"You won't be for much longer," the Voice responded, his tone impatient. "The Britannians are about to deploy their newest Knightmare Frame into combat. It's far beyond anything that you're currently using and is being piloted by a man on par with the Knights of the Round. None of you currently stand a chance."
Kallen nearly panicked. "A Knight of the Round?" The Knights of the Round were the most skilled and most dangerous pilots that Britannia had to offer. If one of them was here, they were all screwed.
"No, but he is on their level. If you fight him, he will destroy you."
"And how do you know all this?" Tamaki asked petulantly.
"I know many things, P-1, but this comes from personal experience. Pull back now or risk death."
"What are you going to do," Kallen asked, suddenly curious.
"Isn't it obvious?" The Voice asked in amusement. "I'm going to have a little chat with the Viceroy." With that he cut out, and no matter how Kallen tried to hail him, he did not respond.
"I can't believe Clovis was this bad" C.C. said, her voice carrying a note of disbelief. "I mean, really, what idiot breaks his encirclement to go after an obvious trap?"
"The kind whose too proud to realize he's in over his head," Lelouch responded wryly, somewhat amused by her irritation. "He's worse than I remember, actually, though I guess that comes from finding much bigger game later on."
"So now we go have that chat with Clovis, right?"
"You read my mind," Lelouch said with mirth, then yelped in pain when she punched him on the arm. "What the Hell was that for?"
"Do you really have to ask, Lelouch?" Her voice was exasperated, but her eyes were sad.
Mao, he realized, and then felt like kicking himself. Of course she still held herself responsible for what happened to him. That itself brought about a whole new can of worms as he remembered his psychotic counterpart. I'll have to deal with him soon. But first…
"Sorry," he said ruefully. "That was careless of me."
"Yes, it was," C.C. said, but her eyes showed merriment. Back to her usual self then.
Lelouch opened the hatch of the Sutherland helping her out and then following after her. "Well," he said when he reached the ground," let's go check in on my dear brother."
Margrave Jeremiah Gottwald cursed in frustration as the Royal Guard drove him back to the G-1 Mobile Command Center. When his Knightmare had been destroyed by that damned Glasgow, he had been forced to eject and find a safe place to hide while the terrorist in the red painted Frame had moved on, seemingly with renewed purpose. He then had the privilege of watching in shock as the squads that had been assigned as the perimeter guard for the G-1 began to move into the ghetto towards the combat zone.
What idiot told them to leave? Jeremiah wondered. So far as he had been aware there had been no reason to expose the Viceroy to unnecessary danger. What if one the terrorist groups managed to outflank them? The Viceroy would be a sitting duck.
He had raised these concerns when the prince's Royal Guard had appeared in a commandeered car, explaining that His Highness required his presence for something so secretive that they were forbidden from speaking of it. When Clovis then ordered a cease to all hostilities and the treatment of all injured, be they Elevens or Britannians, his curiosity had been piqued even more, and he wondered what he was needed for. Regardless, the Guards had failed to respond, only saying that the prince needed his "most trusted soldier."
Pride swelled up within his bosom at the recollection of those words. Jeremiah was an exceptionally loyal man, loyal both to the men under his command and to those who earned that loyalty. In the years since the invasion and Jeremiah's own transfer to Area 11, Clovis had proven himself a man deserving of that loyalty, working tirelessly not only to rebuild the fallen nation into a worthy colony, but also to find his brother and sister, the vi Britannia siblings, and restore them to their rightful place. Jeremiah's rage against the Elevens had grown with Clovis', more and more wrathful at the animals that had taken the Flash's children out of the world. In the end, all either man could do was begin the search for their corpses so that they could be buried like the royalty that they were.
Thinking of the deceased children made Jeremiah wince once more at the memory of his greatest failure. He should have been there, he should have done something more, anything to protect his Lady. And when he failed her, he should have fought as hard as possible for her children.
But with what standing? Jeremiah thought angrily. My name was mud after my failure. Who would have entrusted her children to me? It is not an honor that I would deserve.
At least that last one he was sure of. No matter what happened, no matter how high he rose, no matter much he avenged his Lady's children on these damned Elevens, he would never be worthy enough to serve his true masters.
When he arrived at the G-1, it was curiously undermanned, the foot soldiers that ordinarily guarded it missing from their posts. Jeremiah tried to fight off the eerie feeling of foreboding as they marched down empty halls, past open doors with empty rooms, seeming almost as if everyone had just stopped working and left all at once.
"Where is everyone?" Jeremiah asked, turning his attention to the Captain. The Captain did not respond, instead marching resolutely onward, his back ramrod straight, seemingly deaf to the world. Jeremiah asked again, and when he again got no response, he turned the question onto the others. They were, rudely, no more cooperative than their commanding officer. Did the Viceroy order them all out? Just what is going on here?
Finally they reached the command bridge, the Captain punching in the code on the door's lock and ushering the Margrave in.
"Your Highness," Jeremiah said as he walked," You called for-" He stopped speaking, his stomach bottoming out and his heart skipping a beat, freezing on the spot. His eyes could barely take in the horror before his eyes.
Every single member of the bridge staff was dead. The technicians were slumped over the computers, the officers in heaps on the ground, the commanders all leaned against the observation map. The camera displays were covered in blood, filled with small bullet holes. The officers were curled over their ceremonial swords, buried deeply in their stomachs, and the various techs sported holes in their heads from gunshots.
Bile filled Jeremiah's throat, and the turned, searching for the Viceroy, before stopping in shock. Prince Clovis la Britannia, Third Prince of the Empire, Viceroy of Area Eleven, sat dead upon his throne, his brains sprayed all over the back of his chair, fresh blood and bone still dripping from the hole in his forehead.
"Do you like the way I've redecorated?" Jeremiah whirled around, his search for the mocking voice ending when he spotted a Britannian soldier moving out of the shadows, service pistol held in his hand near his waste, pointed squarely at Jeremiah's chest. The Margrave could see the small smile, unhidden by the helmet he wore to mask his face. Jeremiah snarled at him in sudden rage, taking a step forward despite the pistol.
"How dare you!" He roared. "You've have assassinated a Prince of the Empire, not to mention your murder of these fine soldiers. You'll pay the price for this." He turned, unheeding of the handgun." Soldiers, avenge your Prince!"
He turned back to the traitor, ready for the bullet to strike his chest, but uncaring. If it meant his life to bring down this assassin, he would give it in a heartbeat. He would atone for this failure.
The bullet never came. Instead, strong hands grabbed him from behind, restraining him and forcing him to the ground. His service pistol was forcibly tugged from his holster, the magazine ejected and the chambered bullet racked out onto the floor. He could feel the cold steel of a gun barrel being pressed against his temple. He looked up in shock.
The faces of the Royal Guard leered down at him, insane smiles plastered across their face, their eyes glowing a strange red. Jeremiah looked to the Captain, and saw the same manic grin twisting his features, except his eyes were turned instead to the traitor still standing just a few feet away.
"Our task has been completed, Your Highness. Lord Gottwald will pose no threat," the Captain said, adoration in his eyes. "What are your next orders?"
"Keep him restrained," the traitor said, holstering his sidearm and stepping past them, climbing his way up to the throne where dead Clovis sat. He grabbed the dead prince by his coat front, then pulled him out callously out of the chair, causing his body to fall down the steps, sprawling out in front of Jeremiah. The traitor then sat himself down upon the throne, crossing his leg over his knee and falling into a relaxed posture, his chin coming to rest in his hand. "Now then, how are you, Margrave Gottwald?"
Jeremiah's insides twisted with rage. "How dare you sit in His Highness's throne! You arrogant bastard, I'll make you pay for mocking the crown." He turned to the other traitors." And as for you cowards, he trusted you above all men. How could you do this to him? How could you betray him so utterly? What was your price, you traitorous scum?"
"They had no price, Lord Jeremiah. They came to me free of charge," the traitor said from his position, amusement coating his voice. "As you will too."
"Like Hell I will," Jeremiah declared. "I will never betray those I have sworn to protect!"
"Then why have you betrayed me, Jeremiah?" the traitor asked, his voice hard. "Why have you betrayed Empress Marianne's legacy?"
"How dare you," Jeremiah said in quiet outrage. "How dare you dirty Empress Marianne's name with your unworthy lips?"
"Because," the traitor said, grabbing his helmet," I'm her son." With that, he tugged off the helmet.
Jeremiah stared in fascinated horror as silky black hair fell free of the mask, violet eyes and a finely sculpted nose joining together now with a pointed chin. Now he could see the resemblance in this man, the Emperor's eyes and his mother's black hair, the older features of a young boy seven years dead.
Finally done, the young man stood from the throne and said," I am Lelouch vi Britannia, Seventeenth Prince of the Empire, and I have come for my revenge."
Jeremiah could not believe it. His Lord, his Prince, his Master stood before him once more, a boy no longer but a man full grown. He flinched when he saw the disappointment in his eyes, and could not help but wonder what its cause was.
Prince Lelouch turned to the Guards restraining him and said, "Release him."
The soldiers complied at once, the Captain returning his sidearm to Jeremiah's shaking hands. Jeremiah stayed in his position, still too shocked to move. After a tense moment, Jeremiah found his voice." Your Highness, I am overwhelmed with joy at your survival-"
"Save it, Jeremiah," the Prince interrupted, his tone angry," I am disappointed in you. Very disappointed."
Jeremiah flinched at the Prince's tone, bowing his head slightly lower. "I don't know what you mean, Your Highness. What have I done that displeases you?"
The Prince gestured to the view screens, some of them still on. Jeremiah shuddered at what he saw: the bodies of men, women, and children, soaked in blood and torn apart by bullets.
The Prince's voice was sharp and biting. "I never would have thought that a man my mother respected so much would commit mass murder. It seems her judgment was not as sound as I previously thought."
"My Prince I-"
"Do not refer to me as 'My Prince.' I would accept no follower who would commit such atrocities, who would do them with such glee. And neither would Nunnally."
The words shocked him." Then Princess Nunnally is-"
"Alive? Yes. Blinded and crippled, but alive," Prince Lelouch said, his expression a sort of angry melancholy. "She would cry to know that one of mother's guards was a man who would commit genocide."
Jeremiah said nothing, bowing down even further, wishing the ground would swallow him whole, that Clovis' treacherous guards would just kill him right now. He had nothing to say to defend himself.
"Why did you do it, Jeremiah?" his Prince asked." Why would you turn to such villainy? Well?"
The tears came into Jeremiah's eyes as he spoke:" Because they took you away from us, Your Highness. Because they had murdered you and your sister, ended whatever future you could have had, the good you could have done for the Empire." He paused for a moment, then added, "They destroyed our future."
There was a moment of silence before the Prince spoke again. "You fool, Jeremiah. You sad fool. It was not the Japanese who tried to kill us. It was Britannia." Jeremiah's head shot up, staring at his Prince in shock. "It was Britannians who killed my mother, and Britannians who forced my sister and I into hiding. It was Japanese men who saved my life, who got myself and my sister to safety, who kept us safe with their silence for years. You've been going after the wrong people."
In that instant, Jeremiah Gottwald's world shattered. Murder, he thought raggedly, I've been murdering innocent people. Condemning them for a crime they did not commit, and then mercilessly executing them. He sagged forward, burying his face in steps. He faintly heard the tap of booted feet on carpeted steps, but did not lift his head.
Prince Lelouch's voice drifted down to him:" You regret your actions don't you, Jeremiah? Regret the mistakes that cost the lives of thousands. You want the chance for atonement."
Jeremiah spoke in a broken voice, "It does not matter what I want, Your Highness. What matters is what I deserve."
"And what do you deserve?"
His answer was without hesitation. "To die."
"Then we are in agreement," The Prince said. He added," You will die."
Jeremiah prepared himself for the bullet.
"In service to me." Jeremiah's head shot up. What? Had he just heard correctly? Would he find his death, his atonement, in service to his Lord?
"Jeremiah Gottwald," His Prince said in a strong voice," Wilt thou become a sword for justice, a shield for the innocent?"
"Wilt thou swear thyself to me and any member of my family?"
"Wilt thou throw away thine own life and commit it to mine?"
"Yes." Yes, yes, yes to all eternity.
"Then I dub thee Sir Jeremiah Gottwald, my Orange Knight, my faithful protector. May you know victory on the battlefield in confrontation to our enemies, and atonement for your various sins.
"Now my Knight, my faithful Friend, rise."