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Thread: CODE GEASS: Chronicles of Tartarus (edited version)

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    CODE GEASS: Chronicles of Tartarus (edited version)

    The Code Geass fan fiction trilogy:
    PART 1: Dirge of Daedalus
    PART 2: Chronicles of Tartarus
    PART 3: Alpha and Omega
    Last edited by Kodai Okuda; 10-17-2010 at 11:27 PM.
    All things in moderation...

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    It is highly recommended that readers first read Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally before reading this fanfiction in order for them to get acquainted with some of the characters and concepts that are taken from that alternate universe manga.
    All things in moderation...

  3. #3
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    Code Geass: Chronicles of Tartarus
    Side Story One:
    Geass Disorder

    “I had no idea what I was getting myself into with the denizens of The World of Geass. In our search for the Klipot Aemulari throughout the multiverse, I never dreamed I’d come upon a place which was actually its own mini-multiverse complete with a God, angels, and demons. Had I known such a place existed I would have taken you with me, my friend, since those kinds of worlds are your forte not mine.” —Excerpt of a letter from Enoch Apsu to Bryan Briant, head of The Order of the Aleph, dated 5.0301 GS (Galactic Standard, 3001 AD Earth Relative).

    Enoch Apsu trudged his way through the murky swamps of the dead-lands of the land of Deadra towards the ancient stone gateway in front of him. His full-plate armor was covered in the black blood of countless monsters he had slain while making his way to his goal. He cut through the tangled mesh of swamp vines and dead trees towards an archway with a finely wrought silron-metal sword that was covered in runes on its blade from hilt to tip. The stench of rotting flesh and vegetable matter offended his olfactory senses as he finally reached the stair to the gate.
    A thousand years in this damn world and nothing to show for it, he mused as he placed his palm on the side of the archway. I need a vacation, he thought to himself while a flash of blue light surrounded him, and a wooden door appeared before him. He opened it and walked through.
    On the other side of the door was a vast, circular chamber: the Room of Many Worlds. The round hall contained nearly one hundred doors that were all identical in appearance to the one he had just come through, but all led to other dimensions, Earths, and in some cases, totally different worlds.
    “Ahhhh,” he sighed in relief. “Home sweet home.” Enoch smiled as he started heading towards the staircase on the far wall that led up to the second level of the room. He climbed the stair to the balcony and walkway that ringed the chamber which comprised the second floor. Numerous archways led from the upper level to other parts of the large, stone building.
    “I need a hot bath and a stiff drink,” he said to himself as he made his way towards the enormous main bathroom of the vast, stone castle he now strode through. He tossed the large enchanted sword on the marble floor like an old rag and began stripping off his armor. He turned the brass, dragon-shaped faucet and a stream of hot liquid gushed out into the black-marble tub. “If I never see another undead knight, fire-breathing dragon, or mad sorcerer, it will be too soon,” Enoch grumbled as he sank his body into the hot water.
    “How about a world that is more like this one?” a female voice inquired from the entry way to the washroom.
    Enoch turned to see a beautiful, bodacious woman with waist-long silver hair and ice-blue eyes that betrayed her cybernetic nature standing at the threshold of the now steam filled bathroom. “Oh, hello, Delphi, when did you get back?”
    “Just a few moments ago,” she told him as she stripped off the spacefighter pilot suit she wore and joined him in the tub. “Mmmm…a hot bath is a good way to drive off the chill of deep space.”
    “So, how was your journey?” Enoch inquired with a smirk.
    “If you mean did I find one of the ten Klipot Aemulari?, the answer is no.” She shrugged. “But I’m sure there’s got to be one in one of the dimensions adjacent to it. I could sense one there somewhere, but it was always like it was behind a wall or screen. Anyway, I’ve just got word from Metatron that there may be one in the place you’re getting shipped off to.”
    “He doesn’t waste any time, does he?” Enoch laughed with a sarcastic grin.
    Delphi leaned back in the tub. “No, he doesn’t. We need to acquire the Aemulari before they cause any more havoc on the fabric of the multiverse.”
    “I know,” Enoch said closing his eyes. “So what’s the name they’ve given to the universe I’m being assigned to?”
    “Metatron called it the World of Geass,” Delphi said with a smile. “Apparently, people in that world are governed by a spiritual vortex caused by a temporal displacement in the membrane of that universe. This vortex has caused the creation of a collective conscience that has achieved a sort of demi-godhood.”
    “Oh, that’s just peachy,” Enoch stated snidely. “So, do I have to take this demi-god on?”
    “No,” she stated in a firm tone. “Your mission is to see what is causing the vortex and report back here. Metatron thinks that an event or events along the time line of that universe are what are causing the vibrations through the fabric of the multiverse.”
    “Event or events?” He opened his eyes. “What kind of vague crap is that…I wasn’t born yesterday and he knows it?” Enoch furrowed his brow. “What he really means is that there is a person or persons messing with the fabric of their universe and that’s causing the effect on the multiverse. Thus, he thinks that they may have an Aemulari. So, who are the responsible parties?”
    “It’s a group calling itself the Geass Order,” Delphi told him with a cautious eye. “But you are not to dispose of them or interfere with the affairs of that world unless it assists you in your mission. You are only there to find out what is causing the vortex and then report back here.”
    Enoch shrugged his shoulders. “What’s with all the warnings and hostilities? You act like I don’t know the rules.”
    She rolled her eyes. “Oh, I know you are aware of the laws which govern us Enforcers, but you just don’t obey them.”
    Enoch put his hands up defensively. “Sure I do,” he chuckled. “I just interpret them differently than you guys, that’s all.”
    She laughed, “So, by your interpretation is it okay to overthrow a socialist dictatorship, slay his entire army of clones, and alter the course of a whole plane of existence’s time line just to satisfy your sense of justice?”
    “If it gets results and I complete my mission…” he gave her a wide grin, “YES!”
    Delphi tittered, “I don’t know why I put up with you…you’re impossible!”
    Enoch looked at her innocently. “I know, but you still love me, don’t you?”
    “I do.” She leaned over and kissed him on the lips. “Which reminds me…I’ve got some time before I have to go.”
    “Where are you off to this time?” he asked her in a whisper as she came over to his side of the tub.
    “Oh, you know, just another run-of-the-mill cyberpunk world where my talents are the most useful.” She kissed him again on the lips.
    “I like your talents,” he said as he put his arms around her and they embraced their passion.
    All things in moderation...

  4. #4
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    Code Geass: Chronicles of Tartarus
    Side Story Two:

    “When in the course of human events it often becomes necessary for good men to challenge governments of long standing which, after a series of incremental and long standing abuses, impairs the inalienable rights and liberties of its citizens and becomes uncaring and oppressive to its own ends. It is the natural right, no the natural duty, for the citizenry to rise up with arms and abolish said government in order to secure a just and proper one. Only a government by the people, for the people, and in concert with the protection of the rights of the people, rather than against them, is a government a just one.” —Excerpt from a speech given by Adonis (Champion of Aphrodite) during the foundation of the 1st Galactic Republic.

    Artemis flew her Theta-Kolossos Automatos at high speed through the asteroid field as she chased down the Babylonian Sargon-Mark IV battlesuit and fired a hail of Hades Cannon bolts at it from cannons on each side of the tip of her machine's spade-shaped, medium combat shield. The Sargon-Mark IV dodged the barrage and spun around at her. The Babylonian machine brought its multi-barreled gunpod to bear on her and fired.
    The woman's long, dirty-blonde hair shuffled to the side as the sigils of Geass appeared instantly in Artemis’ jade-green eyes. “Fool!” she spat at the Babylonian pilot as her Theta-Kolossos became invisible.
    Artemis reappeared behind the Sargon-Mark IV and riddled it with Hades Cannon bolts from the shield cannons of her machine. The Greek goddess then finished off the Babylonian machine with the pair beam-sabers of her machine in one fluid swipe from their hip-mounted scabbards.
    “They’re getting more persistent in this sector, my sister,” a male voice spoke over the comm.
    “I agree, Apollo,” she said as she scanned the area. “We were lucky we got the jump on them this time. Their force strength in this area continues to grow inexplicably.”
    “But why now after all this time?” Apollo questioned her; seeking her consul.
    “I can only surmise that they’ve chosen to abolish the peace we once held because Zeus has become feebleminded and uncaring about this world. His obsession with the netherworld will be the downfall of us all. Marduk must sense weakness in us and so he is finally making his move.”
    “What do you think it is that he hopes to accomplish that hasn’t been tried already?” Apollo asked as they scanned the area for more Babylonian machines.
    “I don’t know.” Artemis flew her Theta-Kolossos up next to his machine. “But if Marduk's supreme commander, Ishtar, continues pushing her forces into the Alpha quadrant, then we will almost certainly be at war with them soon. It puzzles me that after nearly ten thousand years of relative stability that the Babylonians would send their forces into our space without explanation with so much ferocity as to threaten an actual interstellar war.”
    “Perhaps Marduk has been deposed and now Ishtar is queen?” Apollo ventured as they weaved their way through the mass of floating rocks. The twin suns of Alpha Centauri illuminated many of the asteroids.
    “Perhaps...” Artemis started to say before a blue flash caught her attention. “Apollo!”
    “I see it,” he said as a female voice cut into their conversation.
    “Attention, all Kosmos-Hoplite units, we’ve detected an unauthorized spacefold some twenty-five hundred miles from our position. Its size and shape indicate that it may be a Babylonian Ziggurat class dreadnaught, so be on your guard.”
    Artemis checked her long-range sensors. “Apollo, that doesn’t look like a Ziggurat class on my scope. How about yours?”
    “No,” he answered her in a befuddled tone. “Call me crazy but its silhouette looks like that of an old city-ship.”
    “My thoughts exactly,” Artemis said as she changed radio frequencies on her communicator.
    “Attention, Pythagoras,” Artemis called back to their space battleship, “this is Archer team requesting permission to investigate.”
    “I can’t permit that, Artemis; it’s too dangerous for just the two of you to take on a Ziggurat by yourselves,” the woman’s voice retorted.
    “Aphrodite, it’s not a Ziggurat,” Apollo protested.
    "How can you be sure?" Aphrodite demanded.
    “Well...because it looks like an old city-ship on our sensors,” said Artemis with a sigh, as she knew her superior would probably not believe her.
    “City-ship?” Aphrodite scoffed. “That’s not very likely since those ships were huge. Our sensors should be able to identify such a craft easily and yet they can’t seem to get a fix on it. I suppose it’s possible that our long-range sensors are scrambled due to all the iron-ferrite and other minerals of the asteroid field.”
    "Commander Aphrodite, there is no reason to believe that the Babylonians would risk a fleet command vessel without an escort of warships, and I'm not picking up any Tiamat class battleships on my scope. There would be at least a few of those with a Ziggurat class," Apollo stated.
    Aphrodite’s tone became inquisitive, “You’re probably right, Apollo. Very well, you are clear to check it out, Archer team, but use extreme caution. It is conceivable that spacepirates may have found a derelict city-ship and are using it as a base. Those old battle fortresses may be obsolete, but they used to pack quite a punch.”
    “Affirmative, Pythagoras, Archer team is proceeding to investigate at once; Artemis out.” The pair of Theta-Kolossos sped towards the position of the object.

    * * *

    “Artemis, I’m reading five battlesuits inbound at three-o’clock,” Apollo said in a mechanical tone as their pair of Theta-Kolossos broke out of the edge of the asteroid field.
    “Roger that, Apollo, I see them,” Artemis replied as the bronze-colored unknowns came into view.
    “They’re not moving particularly fast,” he said as he scanned them. “I’ve cross-referenced their silhouettes through the attack computer and it says that the lead machine is a first-generation Kolossos-type Automatos while the other four are second-generation Hoplite-Orion types.”
    “First- and second-generation machines?” Artemis was baffled. “Even the poorest spacepirates use Alpha class Automatos, which are fiftieth-generation compared to these antiques.”
    “Still, they’re not that much different than our machines, my sister.” Apollo said as he scanned over their weapon systems.
    “You mean they’re still deadly,” Artemis grumbled.
    “Yes,” he answered her as they slowed down so as not to overshoot the five bronze-colored mecha. "Even though our Automatos have greater range, endurance, sensors, engines, speed, and pilot interface systems, those ancient mecha are still quite formidable within their element."
    "You mean they're good in planetary operations," she added as they flew up on the squad of unknowns.
    "Precisely," Apollo concurred, "which is why I highly doubt these are spacepirates. They're flying in a patrol formation that was standard before our peoples took to the stars."
    "They're packed pretty tightly together, I have to admit that." Artemis was beginning to see where Apollo was going with his line of thinking.
    "I'm going to hail them," Artemis told her brother.
    "Is that wise?" Apollo cautioned.
    "It may well prevent any unwanted hostilities, and if by some miracle this city-ship is the one I think you believe it is, then we have to contact them before they get within attack range."
    "Very well," said Apollo. "Let's say hello."
    Artemis opened up the general Olympian communications frequency that had been used for thousands of years and called out to the approaching Automatos.
    "This is Artemis, current commander of the Archer Special Operations group and holder of a gene-rank of goddess; approaching Automatos, identify yourselves!"
    "This is Jason, champion of Athena; we read you, Artemis," Jason's voice came back over the comm.
    "Champion of Athena!" Apollo exclaimed in shock. "How is that possible?"
    "It's a long story," Jason told him with a laugh as his Atlas flew up alongside the pair of Theta-Kolossos. The differences between their generations were clearly evident by the lack of wings on the newer machines and their elongated, spade-shaped shields.
    "You can tell it to Aphrodite when she arrives," Artemis told him with a chuckle.

    * * *

    The Pythagoras class of space battleship was nearly identical to the Argos class of aerial warships save for the telltale fold-ring which surrounded the Pythagoras rather than the four "wings" used on the ancient Argos types. The modern ship was slightly larger than its ancestral cousin though is was not outwardly more advanced in appearance.
    Aphrodite's flagship led a procession of smaller Ajax class cruisers, Hermes class destroyers, Ixion class frigates, and Artreus class escorts, all of which were of the same basic cigar shape with a fold-ring around the fuselage about one-third of the way from the tip of the aft-mounted Daedalus-drive engine.
    The fleet of ships flew in formation around the massive city-ship of Tartarus.
    "That is truly an amazing story, Athena," Aphrodite said within the conference room inside the central tower of the city. "I'm amazed that Enoch Apsu is still alive."
    "He's a devil," Athena said as she sipped upon the goblet of nectar in her hand. "I'd like to return at once with your forces so that I might exact vengeance upon him and this protégé of his, Zero."
    "Please forgive me, Athena, but I cannot grant you that," said Aphrodite with a calm smile. "The kind of honor that you're still clinging to has evolved into a more civilized version. There is still revenge no doubt, but the galaxy is not a place where petty scores are settled through the use of massive forces any longer. We cannot afford to lose either this city-ship or its two remaining battleships in this sector."
    "Are Marduk's forces that great a threat?" Athena growled.
    "They are," Aphrodite said with a grave look. "The situation may be worse than we know. All along our core-ward border with the Babylonians there have been intense skirmishes and fighting. No colonies or worlds have fallen to them as of yet, but many have been attacked and plundered to some extent. This sector seems to be the thrust of their whole operation. Why, we don't exactly know, save for the possibility that it may prove to be a flanking move on our home system in the Orion Nebula."
    Athena contemplated her words. "When did they start this incursion?"
    "By the reckoning you're used to, about six years ago." Aphrodite was puzzled. "Why do you ask?"
    "I ask because the young Oracle I told you about, Nunnally, told me that according to her brother Lelouch, their father had activated something she called the Ragnarok Device. It only just occurred to me that she may have meant the Altar of Nibiru."
    "WHAT!" Aphrodite stood up. She knew the implications of such a foolish act and it boded ill for all the stellar nations of mankind that inhabited the Alpha and Beta quadrants. "The fools! That device was not created by man. We don't know its full potential or even what its true purpose was. Even our forefathers, the Atlanteans and Mu, were careful not to activate the Altar of Nibiru because they understood its purpose better than we, and still they could only garner the power to make themselves gods and champions from it; they never discovered what its true purpose was. Only the Old Ones knew what it was built for, and they've been extinct for over 100,000 years."
    "Do you think the activation of the device was detected by the Babylonians?" Athena asked with a sly smile.
    "It is possible," Aphrodite said with a frown, "but don't think I'll break the quarantine on the star-system that contains the most precious ancient relic from the Empire of the Old Ones to find out."
    "You mean that not only is Ge off limits to our people but the entire star-system as well due to the Nibiru?" Athena was stunned by her admission.
    "Yes, the Nibiru is believed to lay within the great storm-eye of planet Ba'al," Aphrodite stated firmly. "If the Altar was activated and the power of Nibiru awoken, then it is possible Marduk sensed it since his power is to see into the netherworld and speak with the dead. He has long sought to obtain the power of that device, and we Olympians kept the promise we made to the other powers to guard it. The problem is, even though we know where the Nibiru is supposed to be, we do not know how to reach it because as best we can garner, Nibiru resides both within and outside our plane of existence simultaneously." Aphrodite got hold of herself. "But Nibiru cannot be their objective. Marduk is surely aware that if his fleet breaks the quarantine, then all of the other powers will unify against Babylon and crush him."
    Athena opened up a starmap of the local group of stars around Sol. She pushed a few keys on her display and then brought the image up on the main viewer for Aphrodite to see. "It's seems obvious to me that the attacks on these two flanks are to distract you." Athena highlighted systems that had been assaulted along the Alpha/Beta quadrant border. Their main thrust has been along these systems here." A 3D image showed the path of the heaviest attacks that Aphrodite had reported to Athena, which showed a clear train to Sol.
    "Interstellar war or not, Marduk's forces are heading straight for the Helios star-system," Athena stated with confidence.
    "But that's insane!" Aphrodite told her adamantly.
    Athena frowned, "Maybe so, but with your fleet diminishing in every encounter with them, there is no time to reconsider. Alpha Centauri must be fortified in order to repel any attempt at invasion."

    * * *

    "What is it, Nunnally?" Lelouch asked from his comfy chair in the main study chamber of New-Brunswick Castle as put down his book and watched her stare distantly out the picture window of the room towards the spring sky full of stars.
    "I'm not sure." Nunnally didn't turn to him, but instead she strained her eyes towards the heavens. "It's like I can hear voices. Some are talking to one another in various conversations and activities, while others are calling out to me."
    "What?" Euphemia said, looking up from the book Enoch had given her for Christmas: The New Atlantis by Sir Francis Bacon (published in 1627 AD).
    "I said I can hear them," Nunnally said softly almost to herself.
    "Who?" Suzaku asked as he finished off the chapter halfway through his copy of The Complete Works of John Locke that he was reading.
    "Can you hear voices of people you know are dead, Nunnally?" C.C. asked from the comfy chair next to Lelouch. She was finishing off a large cheese pizza that Enoch had brought by earlier.
    Nunnally closed her eyes and tried to sift through the voices in her head. "Yes," she said softly, "I can hear Clovis and...Shirley."
    The mention of their names caused Lelouch to swallow hard. He knew his sister was not going mad. Nunnally possessed an ability that few of them understood, yet was very real.
    "I thought as much," C.C. said. "You're able to hear people in the world of C."
    "But why only now?" Nunnally inquired of her.
    "I hear them too," C.C. said timidly. "It started a few weeks after the Tartarus folded from the Earth."
    "What does it mean?" Nunnally pleaded with C.C.
    "It means your world just got a whole lot more complicated," Enoch said as he entered the study with a pushcart of food. He lifted the lid on top of the tray. "Let's discuss this over dinner; lasagna, anyone?"

    * * *

    "There's only one thing we can do as of now," Aphrodite told Athena. "We must call for the Archimedes Corps and refit all of your mecha, ships, and the Tartarus itself with modern weapons, sensors, drives, and defenses. The sooner we have your forces up and ready for a fight the safer this system will be."
    "How long will it take for the Archimedes Corps to get here?" Athena inquired.
    "At 2.5 light years per hour, they'll arrive in a few days," Aphrodite told her with a weak grin. "We should be able to hold off any minor Babylonian advance during that time. However, if they send a real battle fleet, we will be forced to withdraw from our position here."
    "Then we had best find a secure area within the asteroid belt until Tartarus is ready to fight," Athena said with a smile.
    "Agreed," Aphrodite nodded.

    * * *

    "So this Nibiru thing is some kind of device which generates the world of C?" Lelouch inquired of Enoch as he finished off his last bite of lasagna and placed his plate on the coffee table in front of him.
    "Something like that," Enoch said as he gulped down the last swallow of wine in his glass. "I came here well after the civilization of the Old Ones had ended, so I don't know what the Nibiru is exactly. I only know that the Geass Order and your father were obsessed with it. They saw it as a sort of artificial utopian world that Charles and your mother Marianne intended to transport all of humanity to, but I'm not sure that's what it was built for."
    "Nibiru was considered a destroyer of worlds according to the Sumerians," C.C. said to them as she sipped at the red wine in her glass. "If it is the same thing as the Sword of Akasha in C's World, then we may have a real problem on our hands."
    "So you think this Nibiru and the Sword of Akasha are one and the same?" Lelouch asked her.
    C.C. nodded, "I think that it's a distinct possibility."
    "But C's World is in another dimension," Suzaku stated firmly. "It's not in this's like Valhalla or Heaven, and besides, wasn't the Sword of Akasha rendered useless? Why would Nunnally be hearing voices from the dead who are no longer in our world?"
    "We don't know if the Sword of Akasha was destroyed, Suzaku," Lelouch told him flatly. "I damaged the platform, but that thing's true form is the size of a planet."
    "Be that as it may, it still doesn't explain why C.C. and Nunnally are hearing voices of the dead."
    "If I had to guess as to why that is, I'd have to say it's because the two worlds are slowly coming together," C.C. said mechanically.
    Enoch thought for a moment. "Well, in Hinduism, Akasha means the basis and essence of all things in the material world. Basically it's the smallest material element created from the astral world. The Sword of Akasha wasn't built by the Geass Order as far as I could tell from their records. However, the translations of the language of the Old Ones might not be accurate into human tongue. A sword can have a double-edged blade, and if this Akasha or Nibiru device is able to create, then it surely can destroy."
    "Meaning?" Lelouch asked him with an irritated look.
    "Meaning," Enoch poured Lelouch and himself another glass of wine, "this device, which is apparently some kind of artificial planet, is able to harness what my people referred to as Sephirot and Klipot energies. At their basic levels, they are the creative and destructive forces of the multiverse itself."
    "Wait just one minute," Euphie interrupted, "aren't we forgetting something? The only way to access this thing is through the Thought Elevator, right?"
    "Yeah?" Lelouch asked with a befuddled look.
    "Well, doesn't that mean that someone has accessed this device through one of the Thought Elevators?"
    The group gave Euphie an enlightened look as her revelation sunk in.
    "She has a point," C.C. said with a raised brow.
    "But who would do such a thing?" Nunnally inquired.

    * * *

    "Colonel Madd, have you secured the area?" Nina Einstein asked the bald cyborg as he walked down into the large, underground cavern.
    "The Irregulars have secured a three-mile-diameter area around Stonehenge as per your command, Professor," the cyborg said in his cold tone.
    "Excellent work, Colonel." Nina adjusted her glasses as she walked up to the large gate of the Thought Elevator at the center of the room. "Very soon we shall change this world into what it should have been. This device was never meant for men. It is the source of all Geass."
    "Yes, Professor, but I didn't join you for your revenge against Geass," the man stated without emotion. "My Irregulars and I want revenge for the massacre of the Geass Order that the Black Knights committed."
    "And you shall have it, Colonel," Nina stated with a wicked grin. "You shall have it."
    All things in moderation...

  5. #5
    Super Moderator rank = Hod (acknowledged Novice) Kodai Okuda's Avatar
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    Code Geass: Chronicles of Tartarus
    Side Story Three:

    “‘Lelouch…why?’ was all I could say as the tingling sensation began throughout my body and the pain of Zero’s bullet pierced my heart. I know it was all that he could think of to do to save me; poor Lelouch, he had no idea that someone else was watching out for us. I remember lying in the hospital bed dying as Suzaku tried to be so brave. He had lied to me to save my feelings and let me die in peace, not knowing what had really transpired. It was a noble and kind thing that Suzaku did to try and save me, but my dear Suzaku didn’t have any idea that my guardian angel had already taken steps to ensure I would live. That time was hard, but it was nothing compared to the steps I had to take afterwards. I was like a baby having to learn to walk all over again. Not because I couldn’t walk, but because the burden of what Geass had caused me to do was a weight that threatened to crush my soul.” —Excerpt from the personal diary of Euphemia li Britannia, the Red Dragon, dated May 23rd, 2025 a.t.b.

    “Don’t worry, Suzaku, I’m just going to see Cornelia off,” Euphie smiled at him in the airship terminal. “We will be together again soon.” She pulled up the large-brim, white hat she wore as part of her disguise and kissed him passionately on the lips.
    “I know you’ve got to go, but…” Suzaku started.
    “You can’t bear to be without my sister,” Cornelia finished for him as she and Guilford walked up behind them. “You realize, Knight of Zero, that if you continue to lavish her with such affection, I will demand that you marry her.”
    Suzaku turned multiple shades of red as Cornelia’s brazen consent to their being wed embarrassed him. He put his hand on the back of his head as he tried to respond, “Uh…yes, Princess Cornelia…uh, your Majesty.”
    Cornelia leaned down and whispered in his ear as Euphie gave her a playful scowl, “I’d prefer you be able to call me your sister at some point, Suzaku, so don’t keep Euphie waiting too much longer.”
    “Yes, ma’am.” Suzaku involuntarily straightened up.
    “Do you have to pick on him?” Euphie asked Cornelia with her hands on her hips.
    Cornelia snickered, “Well, I was hoping to go to a June wedding before I had to leave on the Kaminejima, but you two are dragging your feet.”
    “WHAT?” Euphie nearly fell backwards. “No…we just don’t want to rush into things!”
    “Oh?” Cornelia chortled. “Finding out if he measures up in all the right ways before you snag him for good, eh, my sister?”
    “Cornelia!” Euphie scolded her with an embarrassed smirk. “We’re not like that. We want to wait until we’re married.”
    Cornelia waved her hand nonchalantly. “Oh, you don’t have to pretend with me. I’m no angel either.”
    Guilford smiled.
    Suzaku looked dizzy from the implications of Cornelia’s confession. “Oh, dear.”
    “Suzaku, are you okay?” Euphie asked as she put her arm around him.
    “I think I need some air,” he said softly.
    Cornelia laughed out loud as she put her hand over her mouth. “Oh, Suzaku, you really need to be more aggressive with my sister. She loves you dearly, and I do so wish for the two of you to be happy, but you have to be more forceful if you want to take her.”
    “Cornelia!” Euphemia barked at her.
    “Are we interrupting something?” Lloyd Asplund asked as he and Cecile carried their luggage onto the boarding ramp of the terminal.
    Cornelia sniggered, “No, Lloyd, we were just having a friendly discussion about some unfinished business between Suzaku and my sister.”
    “Oh, I see.” Lloyd adjusted his glasses. “Well, this little shakedown trip shouldn’t take more than a few months. That should give them a reprieve in order to set a date by the time we get back.”
    Cornelia laughed at Suzaku’s shocked look as he exclaimed, “You too?”
    “Well, you can’t stay single forever, Suzaku,” Cecile tittered. “It’s no mystery how you two feel about each other, and we all look forward to it, so why not?”
    “Speaking of mysteries,” Suzaku ventured to change the subject, “have either of you heard from Nina?”
    “Not since Schneizel’s island fortress was destroyed,” Lloyd said with a curious look. “It’s very strange…almost as though she just vanished off the face of the Earth.”
    “I’m really worried about her and Kannon,” Cecile said. “They were both very disturbed by the unexpected events of last year. I do hope they haven’t gotten mixed up with any of the trouble that’s gone on since then.”
    “You mean all the disappearances?” Guilford asked.
    “What disappearances?” Euphie inquired, a bit unnerved.
    “It would seem that many high-ranking members of the Russian Federation and the European Universe have gone missing over the last few months,” Cornelia stated with concern. “All of them were supporters of the new Commonwealth of Earth government.”
    “Is that why Zero and Nunnally aren’t here?” Cecile asked.
    “Yes,” Suzaku answered her with a sad expression. “L2 (code name for Lelouch Lamperouge) and C2 are meeting with the Russians while Enoch and Nunnally are trying to keep the EU in the Commonwealth. Tensions are rising again even with the threat of attack from the Olympians looming over all our heads.”
    “Monstrous,” said Cecile with a frown, “why would anyone kidnap supporters of the new government. Under the Commonwealth that Nunnally, Kaguya, Lihua, and Zero created, people now have protected natural rights that governments must adhere to or face international sanctions. At no time in history have the citizens of the world been as free as they are now, nor government been so restricted. It’s been wonderful, why would anyone try to undermine that?”
    Cornelia gave her a thin smile. “Bigots, megalomaniacs, corporate big shots, racists, elitists, and socialists are just a small list of the types of people that hate the free republic we now have. I guess what Enoch says is true, that freedom isn’t free, its price is eternal vigilance.”
    Euphie noticed the sweetness in her sister’s voice when she spoke the name Enoch. “Do you have a crush on him?”
    “Wha? Who?” Cornelia stammered.
    “Enoch?” Euphie folded her arms and glared at her with a sly smile. “Do you like him?”
    Cornelia glanced at Guilford who held a stoic expression and then back at her sister. “Yes, I do, but I also understand that it’s a thing that can never be. In much the same way as what our brother is going through with Kallen.”
    “With Kallen?” Euphie’s eyes lit up at the new gossip. “Do tell, Cornelia.”
    “Pardon my interruption,” Guilford said apologetically, “but we have to board immediately.”
    Cornelia tittered at her sister, “Looks like you’ll have to wait for the juice a little later.”
    Euphie turned and gave Suzaku a long kiss goodbye. “I’ll miss you every minute and be back in a few days. Protect Britannia while we’re gone, Suzaku.”
    “With my honor and my life,” Kururugi said with a salute across his chest in the manner that Enoch had taught them. The amber-eyed cyborg had been training him and the others to become real champions capable of fighting the Greeks. Suzaku knew that Geass would play a role at some point, though how and when he was not sure.

    * * *

    “Alice, are you in position?” Colonel Madd asked over the comm. of her Vincent-Advanced (a Vincent Ward upgrade that made the machine the equivalent of an eleventh-generation KnightMare Frame except with special modifications designed by the Geass Order). She flew her KMF at the head of a formation of four Vincent-Advanced units.
    “I am,” the blonde-haired woman said with a smirk as she watched the Commonwealth Longres class airship that flew with its escort of Avalon frigates a few hundred feet below her.
    “Lucretia, what is the geographic area like?” Madd asked another of the pilots. The pale-haired woman’s reply was jovial as the sigil of Geass appeared on her forehead. “The terrain over their current position is perfect for our operation.”
    “Good.” Madd’s voice sounded pleased. “Sancia, position of targets?”
    The dark-haired woman brushed her long locks out of her face as a sigil of Geass appeared on her forehead. “Relaying target data into our attack computers now, Colonel.”
    “Excellent,” said Madd. “Dalque, you will begin the operation by destroying the frigates. Alice, you shall board the Avenger and capture Princess Cornelia. Kill everyone else. Understood?”
    “Yes, Colonel,” the women replied in unison.
    Madd's voice boomed over the radio, “Irregulars, commence operation.”
    The four Vincent-Advanced units dove down towards the fleet.

    * * *

    “Commander Guilford,” a male officer called his attention within the bridge of the Avenger.
    “What is it, Lieutenant?” Guilford asked.
    “I’m not sure, sir.” The man sounded perplexed. “I’m detecting an unusual air turbulence a few hundred feet above us that seems to be spiraling towards our fleet.”
    “Air turbulence?” Guilford inquired in a raised tone. “Sound battlestations! We’re under attack!” The Avalon frigate on their port side erupted in a fireball as a KnightMare Frame zipped up from under the wreckage towards the starboard airship.
    “Fire anti-KnightMare batteries!” Guilford yelled.
    Instantly, the airspace around the aerial-battleships erupted in a shower of anti-KMF rounds and beam cannon bolts.

    * * *

    “What the?” Euphie exclaimed as she jumped up from a chair within Cornelia’s personal quarters. The alarm Klaxons of the ship had interrupted them just settling down to resume their conversation from earlier.
    “We’re under attack,” Cornelia said as she donned her gunsword and fastened its belt.
    Euphie put on the helmet of the Red Dragon and suited up.
    “We better get to our KnightMares,” Cornelia told her with a mischievous smile. “I’m anxious to see how well Enoch has trained you for battle. It’s my understanding you’re quite good.”
    “Of course I am,” the Red Dragon snickered, “I’m the sister of the Goddess of Battle.”
    “Indeed,” Cornelia gave her a proud look. “And together we’ll be unstoppable.”
    They left the room for the KnightMare hangar.

    * * *

    “Dalque, I’m through their defenses,” Alice said as she piloted her machine towards the main dorsal hangar door of the Avenger.
    “Roger that,” the dark-skinned woman said as she felled the second Avalon frigate with her machine’s shoulder-mounted Hadron Cannon. “I’ll be there to back you up in a moment.”
    “Sancia, have they launched any mecha?” Alice asked as she blasted the hangar bay doors open.
    “No, Alice, not yet,” the older woman told her over the radio. “It would appear we took them completely by surprise.”
    “Good,” Alice said as she landed her machine in the hangar. “We need to move quickly before they can field their KMF Victorias, or else we will be hard-pressed to complete our mission.”
    “Don’t worry, Alice,” Dalque said as she rolled and spun her Vincent-Advanced to dodge the hail of anti-KMF fire coming from the Avenger, “I’ve got your back.”
    “I’m disembarking from my unit,” Alice said. “I’ll keep in contact with you while I go and retrieve Princess Cornelia.”

    * * *

    “Lloyd, are our machines ready yet?” the Red Dragon asked as the enemy KnightMare Frame blasted through the outer door of the hangar and came to a stop.
    The blast of the explosion caused Lloyd and Cecile to hang onto the KnightMare gantry railing for dear life as the enemy machine landed.
    The Red Dragon shielded Cornelia from the blast as the cockpit of the enemy unit opened up.
    A blonde-haired woman jumped down from the machine with a machine gun in hand and rushed towards them.
    “Watch out!” Cornelia told Euphie as she drew her gunsword and aimed at the enemy pilot.
    This is too easy, Alice thought to herself as she activated her Geass SPEED! Alice moved at blinding speed towards the Red Dragon and Cornelia. Lloyd and Cecile were too stunned by Alice becoming a blur to be able to react quickly enough to stop her from disarming Cornelia.
    “You’re coming with me, Princess!” Alice told Cornelia as she jabbed the muzzle of her machine gun into the small of Cornelia’s back.
    The Red Dragon moved into a subtle combat stance. “I’m going to give you one chance to release her and surrender.”
    “Hahahaha, you’re going to give me a chance?” Alice cackled. “How amusing.”
    The Red Dragon pulled a flash grenade from her belt and threw it in one swift motion. The harmless charge detonated before Alice had a chance to react and created a brilliant light that caused Alice to turn away quickly giving Euphie the opening she needed.
    The Red Dragon kicked the machine gun out of Alice’s hands with a snap kick then followed up with a side-chop to her collar bone.
    Alice winced in pain as Euphie’s strike connected, but the Irregular used her Geass to dodge a roundhouse kick that followed the Red Dragon’s first attack. The Geass-soldier grabbed her machine gun and fired it at the Red Dragon. Euphie was riddled with bullets which penetrated her suit.
    “NO!” Cornelia screamed as she unloaded a salvo of rounds from her gunsword at Alice.
    Even with her Geass-enhanced speed, Alice was grazed by one of the rounds. She turned to fire on Cornelia but chose to flee as Guilford and a squad of soldiers entered the hangar deck. Damn it! I’ll have to retreat.
    “Stop!” Guilford commanded Alice as her blurred form fled to her KnightMare Frame. In the next instant, her machine flew out of the hangar.
    “Euphie,” Cornelia whispered to the Red Dragon with trembling lips.
    “Don’t worry, I’m okay,” Euphemia reassured her.
    “But you’ve been shot,” Cornelia said with panic creeping into her tone.
    “It’ll be okay,” Euphie said as Guilford and the others came over.
    “We need to get to our KnightMares immediately,” Cornelia exclaimed urgently.
    “That won’t be necessary, Princess Cornelia. Reinforcements from our submarine escort have arrived, and the enemy is in full retreat,” Guilford informed them. “It would seem that Empress Nunnally’s premonition was correct.”
    “Remind me to thank my sister when next we speak,” Cornelia said as she helped the Red Dragon up from the floor.
    “We should get you to the infirmary immediately,” Guilford said hurriedly as he saw the various bullet holes in the front of her suit.
    “It’s nothing, don’t worry about it,” Euphie reassured him with upraised hands.
    “But, how is that possible?” Guilford asked her in shock at the bullets falling out of her through the holes in her uniform.
    “It’s a long story,” she replied with a giggle.
    “One that I certainly want to hear,” Cornelia said with a hand on her hip.

    * * *

    “That is truly amazing,” Cornelia said as Euphemia stripped off her uniform, revealing her undamaged skin. “How is it possible?”
    “Nanomachines,” Euphie replied with a smile.
    “Nanomachines?” Cornelia inquired with a befuddled look as Euphie put on a fresh Red Dragon uniform.
    “You know, microscopic robots,” she said with a giggle.
    Cornelia shrugged in confusion, “I know what they are, Euphie, but how did they get inside you?”
    “Oh, Enoch put them inside me,” she said in a nonchalant tone.
    “Oh, my God, Euphie, you didn’t,” smiled Cornelia slyly.
    Euphemia was perplexed. “Didn’t what?”
    “Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about…he is really cute, you know,” Cornelia snickered.
    “What? Oh, for Heaven’s sake, no…” Euphie blushed. “As if I’d ever do that with him. He slipped them in my tea before…” Euphie's expression hardened as her words trailed off.
    “Before your incident,” Cornelia said sympathetically as she put her hand on Euphie’s shoulder. “Does Suzaku know?”
    “Yes, his does,” Euphie said. “I told him about how I became the way I am now after the battle over the Hawaii Islands when we were walking to meet with Lelouch. Suzaku actually had the same reaction you did.” Seeing Cornelia’s puzzled look she added, “About Enoch, I mean. He thought I was in love with him or something. Suzaku can be a real dork sometimes.”
    “Well, he loves you,” Cornelia smiled.
    “I know. That’s why I suggested we take the stairs up to meet with Lelouch so I could tell him everything.”
    “Would you share it with me?” Cornelia ventured to ask cautiously.
    “Of course,” Euphie replied as she sat down on a long, angled couch that covered one corner of her quarters. Cornelia sat down beside her. “But it’s easier for me to tell it like I did with Suzaku. It helps me keep it impersonal.”
    Cornelia nodded, “Okay.”
    Euphie took a deep breath. “It was shortly after I had my first taste of the horrible power of Geass that I awoke under the crystal lid of my coffin. I totally freaked out.” Euphie paused as a smile crossed her face. “So did Suzaku when I told him about how I was gasping for breath and trying to claw my way out. He nearly tripped over himself as we took the first steps up the long stair towards Lelouch’s quarters on the Ikaruga.”
    Cornelia tittered, “Poor Suzaku.”
    Euphie laughed, “Yeah, he looked like he wanted to hug me and sob right then and there, so I had to rush my story along to the part where I noticed a man I had never met before, a man with amber-colored eyes and skin that glinted gold in the warm candlelight of the crypt I had been lain in.”
    “Enoch, I presume,” Cornelia interrupted.
    “Yes, he lifted the lid and introduced himself.”
    Cornelia raised her brow as she opined, “As your Prince Charming, no doubt.”
    Euphie let out a laugh, “Will you let me tell this tale?”
    “I’m sorry, Euphie, continue with your yarn.”
    “Enoch helped me out of that dreadful place under the cover of darkness as the battle that raged all around the Tokyo settlement ensued. It was during the confusion of the Black Rebellion that Enoch stole me away from the mausoleum where my body was awaiting transport back to the homeland for a proper burial. He told me that I was the victim of a horrible mistake and that he had to get me to the safety of solitude before the dreadful effect of this power took hold again and caused me more grief.”
    Euphie held back tears as she remembered. “How we got out of the city was blurry to me at that time, but when I did regain my memory, I recalled that I had had the overwhelming urge to kill the Japanese, to destroy their entire country, and purge it from the face of the Earth. Enoch, in his vice-like grip, restrained me until he got me to Ashford Academy and through the broom closet door into his world and out onto a small farm he owns on Tsushima Island.”
    “You guys traveled to his world through a broom closet and came out on Tsushima?” Cornelia forced back her urge to smile out of respect for the dreadfully sad expression on Euphie’s face.
    Euphie’s dark look softened to a smirk as she said, “Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Anyway, he took me through to his five-acre retreat where I first met Delphi. She did all she could to try and help me in those first few weeks, but her knowledge of the arcane was limited, as her specialty is in computer technologies and cybernetics not metaphysics. Thus, Enoch called for a man he knew that could help me with my dilemma, a man named Brian Bryant. I won’t elaborate on the details of this gentleman's fantastic talents nor the journey that he and I took in a real starship, since I’d hate for you to think I've gone completely mad, not to mention I don't want the Kaminejima to fall short of your expectations should I reveal what is possible or, more accurately, what I’ve experienced.”
    “Oh, thanks, Euphie," Cornelia snickered. "I'd hate to view my new ship as a toy compared to what I can only imagine was grandiose judging my Enoch, himself, but will you at least tell me what this Monsieur Bryant did to you?"
    "Funny you should ask that as Suzaku wanted to know in detail what happened," Euphemia laughed. "Monsieur Bryant, being a modern sage in various disciplines of the Magi, found the most expeditious and safe method to attempt to reverse the effects of Geass, on a planet that orbits a star quite far from our own."
    "So, you're saying that you're already an interstellar traveler before me, is that it?" Cornelia tickled her softly on the side.
    "Yeah," Euphie giggled as she pulled away playfully. "Jealous?"
    "A little," Cornelia tittered as she leaned back on the couch. "So...what did they do to you?"
    "They used an incantation that dispels curses of nearly all types and kinds," said Euphie in a plain manner. "I was simply lain within the center of a large incantation circle and subjected to a technomantic spell."
    "Technomantic?" Cornelia inquired with a grimace.
    "Yes, a combination of super-science and theosophical-magic." Euphie shrugged and smiled. "Don't ask me to explain because that's all I know about it."
    "I take it that this spell worked?" Cornelia asked with an amazed look.
    Euphie blushed slightly, "On me yes, on the nanomachines no."
    "Why do the nanomachines matter?" Cornelia was intrigued.
    "Unbeknownst to any of us, the nanomachines were affected by Lelouch's Geass because they are directly linked to the neural network of the brain, which is how they know when the body is in need of repair and how much to repair."
    "Lelouch's Geass took control of the nanomachines?" Cornelia scowled.
    Euphie chortled, "Suzaku reacted the same way. He wanted to beat Lelouch to a pulp for it until I told him the next part. You see the nanomachines have no concept of nationalities or peoples or races outside of the need to repair. Their little computer brains don't input data the way ours do, and they don't have emotion like we do, so they inputted Lelouch's command as destroy all foreign bodies. Thus, they became highly augmented in their programming and produced a heretofore unknown generation of themselves within my body. This new generation of nanomachines not only repaired damage but regenerated any damage sustained at speeds far in excess of what they were originally designed to do. That augmentation was caused by the power of Geass, and in effect created a new model of nanomachines that will regenerate my body in a matter of seconds."
    Cornelia was mortified. "Are you saying you can't die?"
    Euphie took Cornelia's hand in hers gently. "Suzaku stopped dead in his tracks halfway up the stairs when I told him that. He got mad and thought I'd gained a Code or something. I had to tell him that I'm not immortal like Lelouch or C2, but I will live until my brain is destroyed or my body sustains massive damage. According to Monsieur Bryant, something in the range of eighty-five percent or higher."
    "I see." Cornelia clasped her hand. "You poor thing."
    "That wasn't the bad part, my sister, believe me. Living for an indeterminate period pales in comparison to what I have to live with: the memories of the Special Administrative Zone." Euphie tried to smile but couldn't. "Suzaku turned away from me in shame for lying to me about what had really happened there and what I had actually done. I told him it wasn't his fault and thanked him for trying to let me die in peace not knowing the evil that I had committed."
    "But it wasn't you that was responsible," Cornelia told her softly.
    "That doesn't chase away the nightmares I have about shooting down innocent people, or the horror of screaming in my head for my body to stop while being overpowered by a force it could not resist. Geass is an evil that no man or woman can control. It is precisely what Lord Acton warned about when he said that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
    "Who?" Cornelia was unfamiliar with the name.
    Euphie smiled, "Someone I read about in one of Enoch's many volumes of books. In his world, power is seen as more of an evil than a good. It is something that good men obtain in order to protect from evils."
    "Oh," Cornelia sniggered, "I suppose that explains a great deal about why such a man plays the humble fool rather than the great leader or ruler."
    "It's also partially what I learned when Enoch and Delphi trained me in Gevurah Krav Maga. You must learn to only use power when power is used against you or the powerless. That is the way of the peaceful warrior, the way of the hero. It is a philosophy that I hold dear to my heart because I've learned firsthand what unbridled power can do and how many people can be hurt or die from it. The concept can be summed up simply in the words of William Hazlitt when he wrote that the love of liberty is the love of others, the love of power is the love of ourselves. That is the stark contrast between our father Charles with his desire to subjugate and destroy this world for his own selfish desires and a hero who would liberate this world and let men be masters of their own destinies."
    Cornelia was shocked. "I've never seen you so determined or filled with conviction."
    "Neither had Suzaku," Euphie tittered. "He was practically drooling when he hugged me tightly on the third landing of the stairwell and confessed his love for me over and over until I had to ask him politely to stop."
    Cornelia laughed out loud, "Oh, I would’ve loved to have seen his face. It must have been glowing."
    "It was," Euphie said with a warm smile. "When he finally composed himself, we started up the steps and I continued my tale to him. I went on to explain that as I gained knowledge of what could be in this world, I achieved control over my mind and was able to stop the night terrors and horror that invaded my dreams. I had lived in solitude on that Japanese estate for four years before I got control of my mental demons. I knew that Lelouch was as much a victim of his Geass as any of us that were hurt by it. I couldn't hate him for what happened, and me saying that hit Suzaku pretty hard."
    "Did he cry?" Cornelia asked.
    "Yes, a little," Euphie grinned. "Then I told him that my determination to leave my exile and return to the world drove me faster and harder than before. The UFN was still behaving like a subtle dictatorship, with corruption creeping up through its ranks faster than anyone had expected. The tipping point was the terrorism and the reformation of the Black Knights. It was clear to me with all my newfound knowledge at that moment that the peace was over."
    "Ah, so then the Red Dragon was born?" Cornelia asked as she leaned her head in her hand and listened.
    "Yes, the Red Dragon was chosen as my code name because in Chinese culture, it represents bravery and valor. The color red is also the primary color of the Japanese goddess Kannon Bosatsu who represents mercy and the giving of children. I chose her because I wanted to use my newfound power and ability to defeat the merciless and to protect children most of all. You see, there is one horrible image that I couldn't will away. It was of a little girl crying over her dead mother in the stadium in the SAZ, right before I..." Euphie couldn't finish as two tears ran down her cheeks.
    Cornelia leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and hugged her. "It's over now, Euphie, and you've helped save millions since that time by defeating the Greeks and ending our war with them. Tell me more about what you said to Suzaku and forget this bad memory."
    Euphie wept softly before going on. "I told him that I had shadowed Zero according to Enoch's orders, to be sure to keep track of him and see whether or not he was corrupted by the growing number of corporate and government lobbyists that had undermined the democratic nature of the UFN. Anyway, I followed him and Nunnally onto the Britannian ocean warship Emerald Queen last year."
    "The Emerald Queen?" Cornelia interrupted. "Why does that sound so familiar?"
    Euphemia sniggered, "The ship you and I stowed away on that one time by hiding in the oversized ventilation units that Charles had installed for his secret police. Remember that ship?"
    "Oh, gee, yes, I remember, we were gone for a week, and the whole Britannian military was searching for us. Oooh, was he mad at us for that," Cornelia snickered.
    "But he did commend us on our ability to outwit his best commanders," Euphie winked at her sister.
    "Yes, he did," Cornelia said thoughtfully. "So, what happened on that ship that you needed to tell Suzaku about?"
    "Let's just say that Suzaku didn't think this was funny when I told him about it," Euphemia smiled in embarrassment.
    "Why not?" Cornelia was curious.
    "Because I was hiding in your old room on the Emerald Queen, which at that time was being occupied by Zero," Euphie giggled. "Poor Suzaku..." she laughed, "I had donned a suit of optical camouflage just after midnight one night before coming out of the secret passage in his room. My intention was to slip out, get something to eat, and then go back to my mission of observing him and gathering data. When I came out of the secret passage, I had the suit's hood down so I could see better in the darkness. Unfortunately, I was startled by Suzaku screaming out my name, and I stopped in my tracks. At first, I thought he was awake and had recognized me, and then I realized too late that he was only dreaming."
    "And he woke up," Cornelia chortled.
    Euphie's eyes closed as she held back her mirth and nodded, "Yes, he shot up in his bed, and I had to pull the suit's hood over my head as quickly as I could then dart out of his room. He donned his Zero helmet and cloak but nothing else and came after me down the halls."
    Cornelia chucked, "Did he have anything on underneath, or does he sleep naked?"
    "No, he was naked," Euphie laughed heartily, "and that's not the best part. The ship was passing through a moderate storm system, and an ocean breeze was rushing through the ship to air it out, but that small wind was also flipping Zero's cape behind him."
    "Hah! Oh, this is too much!" Cornelia held her hand over her mouth as she snorted in laughter. "Did you actually confess this to Suzaku?"
    "Yes," Euphie admitted with a sigh, "and he didn't talk to me until we reached the last landing before the doorway that led to the deck that Lelouch's quarters were on. He was mad."
    "Why?" Cornelia shrugged. "So he streaked though the halls of the Emerald Queen, big deal."
    Euphie chortled, "The storm had brought with it a fog that was interfering with my optical camouflage suit, so he was able to see my silhouette and gave chase. I had to find someplace to hide, and the only place I could think of was my old room since I knew where the secret door was in there and could get back into the ventilation system quickly. The problem was Jiang Lihua, the Chinese empress, was occupying that room at the time. I successfully slipped past her and into the secret passage, but Suzaku was right behind me. I think he thought I was someone else because he flipped the light on and woke the Tianzi up."
    Cornelia's shoulders shook as she tried to hold back her laughter.
    "Naturally she screamed, but what she said forced me to bite my knuckle to keep from laughing hysterically. She said, ‘Guards! Come quickly...there's a naked man in my room!’ The image of that poor girl's fear and Zero naked from the helmet down was just too much. I don't think Suzaku could dodge bullets faster than he sped out of her bedroom."
    Cornelia was crying jovially. "Oh, my..." She coughed and got her breath. "Did he forgive you?"
    "Yes, though I had to ask him why he chased after me." Euphie waved her hand in an upward gesture. "He could have just informed the ship's security force."
    Cornelia composed herself. "Did he say?"
    "Suzaku said he thought it was Kaguya spying on him and didn't want to make a scene," Euphemia answered with a smile.
    "I guess that plan failed." Cornelia cleared her throat with a final giggle. "I assume you two made up?"
    Euphemia nodded her head. "Yah, all I had to do was kiss him as we reached the door and tell him I was sorry. He understood and we kissed for a while before we proceeded to Lelouch's room."
    Cornelia regarded her sister for a moment. "You have no idea how much I missed you, Euphie." She leaned in a hugged her. "The world is a brighter place with you in it."
    "And you also, my sister." Euphie hugged her back.

    * * *

    "The first few steps of our plan are complete," a man in an Oni mask and military uniform of the Irregulars said to Colonel Madd over the main video monitor on the bridge of the Intruder (the Ikaruga class aerial warship of the Irregulars).
    "But we failed to capture Cornelia," the colonel replied. "Professor Einstein will be furious."
    "Do not concern yourself with Nina; I'll deal with her," the man assured Madd. "What is important is that the next step of our campaign be implemented without fail."
    "But that's risky, isn't it? We could lose a considerable portion of our forces in this—" Madd was cut short by the masked man.
    "That is of no consequence," the man in the Oni mask stated firmly. "We must make our move now lest we lose the opportunity to do so in the future."
    Madd adjusted his collar before continuing, "Professor Einstein has uncovered the second temple, and the contents of it are all intact. It would seem that V2's plan was never put into action, but the specimens that he and the Order created are all fully grown and ready for use."
    "And the special weapon?" the masked man asked.
    "A perfect replica of the original, although the professor isn't comfortable with this, as even the Geass Order was fearful the thing could become infected by the former..."
    "It doesn't matter," the masked man cut Madd off again. "Tell Nina that I intend to use this weapon against our adversaries, particularly Zero, no matter what her personal feelings might be about this asset."
    "Yes sir, but Zero may have the power of Geass." Madd knew that Zero's file showed that his influence was very similar to that of a Geass user with the POWER OF THE KING or similar manifestation of Geass ability. He didn't know whether Lelouch Britannia had acquired a Code or not, but he knew that given the ex-emperor's genius and cunning, it was certainly possible that he had attained one and was in effect Zero. The details of the defeat of the Olympians was sketchy at best, as most of the information was filtered for mass consumption by the UFN in order to cover the involvement of forces they had an interest in keeping secret, but one thing was certain, without Geass, it was highly improbable that the UFN would have defeated them.
    The mask hid the emotion of the man behind it as he answered Madd, "Whether Zero has the power of Geass or not is irrelevant to our plans. What matters is that we eliminate him as a threat even if we don't necessarily kill him, in order to push forward with the project. The other target we must either acquire or neutralize is C2. Have you located her yet?"
    Madd seemed nervous. "Not as of yet, sir. We've whittled down the area she's in to somewhere in the Russian Federation, presumably with Zero, but so far there has been no confirmation."
    "Confirm it, Colonel," the masked man said in a cold tone. "We need to ensure that only our forces have the power of Geass before we can proceed with the final step."
    "Yes, sir," Madd bowed in salute. "I will put more effort into it."
    "See that you do," the masked man said. "I'll speak to you again soon."
    The masked man's image vanished as Madd considered his words and turned to his helmsman. "Set course for the Russian Federation."
    "Aye, sir," the woman replied obediently.
    Madd walked up to the front of the bridge with his hands behind his back in military fashion. "With C2's genetic code in our hands again, we'll soon have an army of Geass users and the world will be ours."
    All things in moderation...

  6. #6
    Super Moderator rank = Hod (acknowledged Novice) Kodai Okuda's Avatar
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    Code Geass: Chronicles of Tartarus
    Side Story Four:
    Brassiere Battle

    “Why me? Of all the times for Kallen to have to show up now was surely the worst. We had just taken down the Apollyon and returned to the Ikaruga when I realized that I wasn't wearing a mask to cover my face. Euphie, Suzaku, Enoch, and I had landed well ahead of the Yamato no Orochi, but still time was of the essence, and with Kallen's team only a few minutes behind us, I had to find a way to disguise myself. Unfortunately, it was Euphie who got an idea that really wasn't what I had in mind, but amazingly it worked." —Excerpt taken from Lelouch (after a hearty helping of rum-laden eggnog) telling the story of how he and the Red Dragon switched places just prior to the Battle of Gambier Island, dated November 25th, 2024 a.t.b. during Enoch's Christmas party.

    "We're tracking the unknown airship now, Big-Z," Kallen told him with a snicker over the monitor of Lelouch's personal laptop computer as he and C.C. traveled via limousine from a meeting with the Russian leadership back to their hotel room. Captain Kozuki had taken to using the nickname Enoch had given Lelouch in order to show Lelouch that she wasn't still mad at him, but she wasn't exactly pleased with him either.
    "Any idea what nation she belongs to?" he asked Kallen.
    "That's just it, there's no record of her outside of Rakshata's suggestion that she may be the warship Kyoto, which was the sister ship of Ikaruga, that was assumed destroyed during Britannia's invasion of the Indochina region in 2018 a.t.b.," Kallen told him with a troubled look. "However, Rakshata cannot confirm the ship's identity unless we can get hold of her hull contract construction number somehow."
    "Assuming it hasn't been effaced from the surface of the ship's hull," C.C. said as she joined the conversation.
    "Captain Nagisa Chiba hasn't given us the order to sortie yet," Kallen paused for a moment as she said something to Gino then continued, "but I'm sure she will just as soon as you guys can get us permission to do so from the Russians."
    "The Russian government shouldn't be too problematic," Zero told her confidently. "Once we convince them that it's in their best interests for us to capture this rogue aerial-battleship, they should be quite cooperative."
    "Roger that," Kallen said with a smirk. "You do your magic on your end, Zero, and we'll sit tight and wait for the order to engage."
    Lelouch smiled under his mask. It was almost like old times again, that feeling of when Kallen was on his side as his queen of the chessboard. "I'll be sure to relay the order as soon as I can secure permission from the Russians."
    "Very good; Captain Kozuki out." Her image vanished from the screen.
    "Well, I 'm glad to see the two of you getting along so well again," C.C. said with a warm smile.
    "Why wouldn't we?" Lelouch asked. "It's not like I wanted to betray her, it just happened that way and she knows it."
    "Still, she seems to have overcome her obsession with you," C.C. said with a shy smile.
    Lelouch frowned under the Zero mask, but he didn't let his voice show it. "Well, you heard her at the party. She told everybody that she was done with childish, teenage dreams of a hero, and that she wanted a man in her life not a boy that turned out to be a big Zero."
    "I think she was drunk when she said that," C.C. sniggered. "Besides, she needs to convince herself you're no longer a big deal in her life, or else it will hurt too much."
    "Why are you so stuck on this?" Lelouch inquired.
    C.C. blushed, "Because I feel guilty about it...who knows what could have happened if I never met you. Maybe you two would've gotten married or something?"
    "Married?" Lelouch balked at the idea. "I don't think so, C2. I think that if I hadn't met you, then I'd probably be dead, and Kallen would certainly have been executed."
    "Does that mean your meeting me was a good thing or a bad thing?" She had to know.
    "It's obviously a good thing," he told her as he caressed her cheek. "Without you and the power you gave me I could never have changed the world. No matter what your reasons were to begin with, in the end you and I were inseparable, conspirators and accomplices in a grand scheme, just you and I against the tyranny of the world."
    "But you left me behind with no intention of ever returning." C.C. looked down at the floor. "That really hurt me. I know you had your reasons, but..."
    "It doesn't matter now," he said as he held her hand gently. "There's no need for me to run away anymore. I know that I have to face my fears and right the wrongs I've committed. Death doesn't wipe away the damage one does in this world. It only leaves your mistakes behind for those who are alive to deal with them. That was wrong of me. I think I realized that the most the last time I hid from Kallen."
    "Do you mean on the Ikaruga?" C.C. inquired.
    "Yes," he said softly.
    "You never finished that story at the party," she giggled.
    "I don't remember even starting it," he replied in a befuddled tone.
    "Well, you passed, you never got the chance," C.C. said with a wide grin.
    "Enoch makes mean eggnog, doesn't he?" Zero joked with her.
    “Yes, he does,” C.C. giggled. “Do you mind finishing that tale now? We’ve got some time before we get back to our hotel.”
    “I suppose we’ve some time before I have to contact the Russian President.” Zero pushed the button on the back of his helmet and removed it.
    “Should you do that?” she asked.
    “What?” Lelouch smiled. “The divider is up, so the driver can’t see me, and the windows are all mirrored. Besides, I can’t hide under this mask forever.”
    “No, I suppose not.” C.C. leaned in and kissed him.
    “I thought you wanted me to tell you about how I became the Red Dragon for a day?” Lelouch asked as he kissed her back.
    “I do.” She lay her head on his chest and snuggled up to him. “So start talk’n, Lulu.”
    Lelouch lay his head on hers as he began his yarn. “Well, it began with us defeating the Apollyon and rushing back to the Ikaruga. Our Hakodeshim and Enoch’s Type-21Z had recovered quicker than the Yamato no Orochi from the titanic explosion of the giant, Greek machine. We raced back to the airship as quickly as we could manage for the express reason of beating Kallen’s team.”
    Lelouch sighed, “Enoch had reasoned that if we made it back faster than the others, that we could avoid any unnecessary subterfuge.”
    “He doesn’t like deception,” C.C. said. “That’s one of the things that makes Enoch so different. He really believes in honor and respect.”
    “I know, and I learned just how strongly he felt about it during that incident. He started on me as soon as we landed, and he realized that there was no way we’d be able to get back to our private quarters fast enough, as the Yamato no Orochi were already starting their final approach to land.”
    Lelouch tittered as he mimicked Enoch’s voice. “Make a choice right now, Lelouch, either man-up and face Kallen, or get your butt into the locker room so we can find a way to disguise you, was what he demanded of me as soon as I disembarked from the Samael. He wasn’t mad at me, that I could tell, but he seemed disappointed when I chose the locker room.”
    “How come you didn’t man-up?” C.C. asked with a snicker.
    “I couldn’t have a whole schism with Kallen weighing on my mind right before the final battle with the Olympians, or at least that was my reasoning for running away again. Maybe facing her at that moment would have been better than squaring off with my sister in the locker room.”
    “Oh?” C.C. looked up at him. “What happened with Euphie?”
    He gave her a gentle smile. “She did her duty as a big sister and put me in my place the way a big sister should when her little brother is acting like a twit.”
    “Guess we need Euphie around more often,” she teased him with a mischievous smile.
    “Anyway, they got me into the locker room as quickly as they could," Lelouch remarked with a grin. "Once inside, we rushed through the various lockers and Devicer suit bins that lined the walls of the room looking for anything we could find to cover my face."
    That’s when things went awry...

    * * *

    "Suzaku, did you find anything?” Enoch asked him as Kururugi pulled down a duffle bag from one of the Devicer suit closets within the locker room. Within it was a helmet that had a heavily tinted visor. The head gear was of a type that was normally used for high-altitude missions in the Type-21R Reconnaissance variable KnightMare Frames used by the Black Knights.
    “Just this.” Suzaku held up the helmet.
    “That’ll do fine," Lelouch stated arrogantly as he snatched the helmet away from Suzaku. “There’s no time to lose. Kallen’s team has already landed.”
    “Do you think Kallen is an idiot?” Enoch barked at him. “Captain Kozuki is well aware of what that helmet is used for. She’s not going to be fooled by you waltzing out of this room with it on. In fact, it is more likely to raise her suspicions even further.”
    “I could just hide in here until she leaves the hangar,” Lelouch shot back.
    “Oh, no,” Enoch sniggered, “I’m not going to let you lurk in the men’s locker just so you can get a peep at the male members of the Ikaruga’s Devicers.” He emphasized the word member with an obscene tone.
    Euphemia gasped and playfully slapped Enoch on the shoulder. “He’s not like that and you know it, Enoch! Maybe we should try something else?”
    “Like what?” Lelouch asked snidely.
    “Maybe we should tie and gag you and stuff you in this duffle bag,” Suzaku retorted with a sinister grin as he held up the bag the helmet had been in.
    “That’s not funny,” Lelouch glared at him.
    “Well, we need to think of something quickly,” Euphemia demanded as Zero, Kaguya, and Lihua exited the elevator at the far end of the hangar. “The welcoming committee just arrived and is heading towards the deck officer.”
    “C2 is here already?” Enoch inquired with surprise. “Guess she just can’t be away from you for a minute,” he snickered at Lelouch.
    “I’ve got an idea,” Euphie said as she removed her helmet and started taking off her uniform. “Lelouch, strip off your clothes.”
    Suzaku and Lelouch were speechless.
    “Whoa, settle down there, gorgeous,” Enoch said as he put his hands up. “I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but it’s not looking like the right direction.”
    “Do you men have any decency?” Euphie inquired with a stern look as she began to unclip her bra.
    “Uh…” Lelouch grasped for words, “huh?”
    Enoch grabbed him and Suzaku and pulled them around to face away from Euphie. “She wants us to turn around. I think I figured out where she’s going with this, so strip, Big-Z, and throw her your uniform.”
    “But I can’t pass for the Red Dragon,” Lelouch protested as he took off his uniform and undressed down to his underpants. “I don’t resemble her body even remotely.”
    “I dunno,” Suzaku tittered, “you do have a woman’s physique, though Euphie is certainly better looking.”
    “You’re not helping,” Lelouch griped as he displayed his flat chest. “Really, Suzaku, do I look anything like my sister?”
    “Put this on,” Euphemia said as her bra landed on Lelouch’s head.
    Lelouch turned multiple shades of red as the sweet smell of her perfume hit his nostrils. “Wow.”
    “Don’t drool all over it, you little pervert, just put the thing on!” Euphie barked at him as she donned his flight suit.
    Suzaku blushed, “Better do as she says.”
    “Yah,” Enoch smiled, “you wouldn’t want to have your older sister kick your butt again, would you? Besides, your buddy Suzaku here is turning green with envy, since I imagine even he hasn’t seen, let alone worn, her underwear.”
    “What?” Suzaku blurted out with a nervous laugh. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
    “You’ll find out when you decide to pop the question to me and finally get the courage to marry me,” Euphemia said with a playful smirk at Suzaku as she walked over in front of them. “So,” she twirled around in front of Suzaku, “what do you think?”
    “You’re the only person who can make that uniform look…look...” Suzaku stammered as he struggled for the word.
    “I believe the word is sexy.” Enoch patted him on the shoulder.
    “Thank you, Enoch.” She winked at him then turned to her brother who was struggling to get the bra on. “What’s the matter, little girl, is that bra the wrong size?”
    “It won’t stay on,” he protested to her as he clipped the brassiere on then let it go. The bra fell off his flat chest down to his waist.
    She giggled as she walked into the men’s lavatory. “Just hold on a minute, Lelouch. I know how to get that thing to stay on.” Euphie returned a moment later with two fresh rolls of toilet paper.
    “What are you doing?” Lelouch cringed.
    “Showing you a special technique women use on occasion,” she laughed as she stuffed her bra with one roll in each cup on Lelouch’s body, “although I’ve never seen a woman go to this extreme to get a bra to fit.”
    “I’m not a woman,” Lelouch grumbled.
    “You certainly could pass for one,” Enoch teased. “All you need is to let your hair grow long and add a little make-up.”
    “Oh, gawd,” Suzaku chuckled at Lelouch, “I remember when Milly made you up for the cross-dresser’s ball.”
    “Don’t remind me,” Lelouch grouched.
    “What?” Euphie cocked her head slightly as she adjusted her bra on Lelouch to get the proper fit and position on his body. “Aw, I wish I could’ve seen that. I bet you were cute.”
    “Creepily gorgeous is how Milly put it,” Suzaku snickered.
    Lelouch wasn’t laughing. “It was one of her stupid school functions. Milly's school projects all centered on anything that involved sex.”
    “Oh, stop being a big baby,” Euphie scolded him as she helped him into the Red Dragon uniform and zipped it up over the toilet roll-stuffed brassiere. “You don’t know how lucky you were, Lelouch. I wish I could have gone to Ashford.”
    “Wow, he looks pretty good,” Suzaku complemented her. “Nice job, Euphie.”
    “Thanks,” she said as she took a bow. “I’m available for parties, plays, and weddings.” She winked at Suzaku.
    “I’m impressed,” Enoch smirked. “But what about your hair? Doesn’t it stick out the top back of the helmet like a tassel?”
    “Ooh, I didn’t think of that,” she said as she cupped her chin with her hand and gave Lelouch a dumbfounded look.
    Lelouch smiled wickedly, “Maybe we should just cut yours off, my dear sister?”
    Euphemia raised an eyebrow at his jibe and retorted sarcastically, “Maybe we should cut something else and make you a girl for real.” She made a snipping motion with her fingers. “Snip! Then I’d have another little sister.”
    “Euphie, don’t even joke about that,” Enoch recoiled.
    “That would certainly cure his problem with Kallen,” Suzaku added with a horrified look.
    Lelouch was not amused. “Are you guys finished yet?”
    "Sorry, Lelouch." Euphie kissed him on the cheek. "We're just picking on you a bit; you're a man, you can take it, can't you?"
    He smiled at her, "Yeah, well, it's just a bit much right now, that's all."
    "I suppose you're right, Lelouch," Enoch nodded. "Let's get you a tassel for that helmet," he said as he fished through a mass of red parachute line in a trash bin. He cut one end of the line at the proper length with his pocket knife and spread the fibers out.
    Lelouch ran the fibers through his fingers. "Well, it looks similar to hair, but if someone touches it, the gig is up."
    "I know, Lelouch, but we're out of time," Enoch said as he heard Kaguya's voice getting closer to the locker room.
    "Did you just agree with me?" Lelouch asked with a snicker.
    Enoch grinned, "Wonders never cease."
    "Indeed," Lelouch laughed, realizing how hard all of them were trying to help him. He knew they didn't approve of him deceiving Kallen, but they assisted him anyway. Their harsh jibes were not for the sake of being mean but for the purpose of teaching Lelouch the value of humility and friendship.
    Euphemia put the Devicer helmet on as Suzaku and Enoch fitted the tassel to the back of the Red Dragon's helmet.
    "I hope this works," Suzaku said woefully, "or else Kallen's gonna have all our heads."
    "No kidding," Enoch sighed. "We're aiding and abetting here."
    Euphie took Lelouch's hand in hers. "Good luck, little brother. I hope this feint works."

    * * *

    "Feint!" Lelouch blurted out in the back of the limousine as he realized the plight of their situation. His action startled C.C. as Lelouch hit the intercom button next to him. "Driver, stop the car immediately!"
    "What is it?" C.C. asked him. She was unnerved by his sudden outburst.
    "This is a setup," he said more to himself than to her as the limo came to a halt at the curb of the street.
    C.C. sat up. "How can you be so sure?"
    "They're trying to get our guard detail to follow that other airship," Lelouch answered as he flipped open his laptop and contacted Captain Chiba.
    "Lelouch, your helmet!" C.C. said as she pushed it over his face.
    "Thanks!" he grumbled as the lip scraped over his nose just as Chiba's face came on the screen.
    "What is it, Zero?" Chiba asked, a bit surprised by him having to adjust his helmet. "Have the Russians cleared us to intercept the unknown airship?"
    "No," Zero told her. "I need you to have a Type-21R do a flyby of my current position and check for enemy units."
    "Wha? Enemy units?" Chiba was confused.
    "Please, Captain, trust me on this one," he said politely.
    "As you wish, Zero," she replied.

    * * *

    "Alice, we've got an enemy aircraft inbound," Sancia told her over the radio of the cockpit of her Vincent-Advanced, which rested in the shadow of a large water tower on the roof of a building along the path of Zero's motorcade.
    "What type is it?" Alice inquired from inside the cockpit of her machine. Alice's mecha stood between two large warehouse buildings along the street that Lelouch's limo traveled on within the city of Leningrad.
    "Looks like a recon Type-21, probably from the Ikaruga," Sancia told her with concern in her voice.
    "You're in a tight spot, Alice," Lucretia told her from the bridge of the Intruder. "I advise against you, Sancia, and Dalque engaging in combat in the city. The terrain is too tight, and you don't have the units to conduct this operation without bringing down the whole Russian military on our heads."
    "Whadda ya mean?" Dalque asked from her KnightMare Frame as it stood across from Alice's mecha on the opposite side of the street in an alley between two large buildings. "We can take these Russian dullards any day of the week."
    "No, Dalque," Alice said. "Lucretia is correct, we don't want to expose ourselves for nothing. Sancia, can you confirm whether C2 is within the limo?"
    "Absolutely," Sancia told her, "and Zero is with her as well."
    Alice smiled, "Very well, let's withdraw for now. We can collect them later when they've let their guard back down."
    "Ohhhh, but they're just down the road," Dalque whined. "We can get them now."
    "No, Dalque," Alice scolded her, "we wait until we can capture both of them without exposing ourselves. We can't conduct a snatch-and-grab with a spy plane above us; our sensor jammers won't stop it from seeing us if we launch an attack."
    "Very well, Alice," Dalque said as she slumped back in her Devicer seat with a pout. "Let's get back to the ship."
    "Don't worry, Dalque," Alice said with a smile, "we know where both C2 and Zero are now, so we can bide our time for a little while before making our next move."

    * * *

    "The recon plane confirmed three unknown KMF's along the travel route of your motorcade, but they took off and disappeared into the Gulf of Finland," Nagisa told Zero on his laptop. "We lost them from there, as we couldn't track them underwater. Their sensor jammers are clearly top-of-the-line."
    "Thank you, Captain," Zero nodded. "It would seem that either I or C2 was their intended target. Perhaps even both of us. The fact that they did not simply attack us indicates they may be trying to capture us. I think it might be prudent if we return to the Ikaruga as soon as the talks here in Russia are finished."
    "Would you like me to send down a guard detail?" Nagisa asked.
    "Yes," Zero said. "Send the Yamato no Orochi."
    "Will do," Chiba replied before signing off.
    "Why Kallen's group?" C.C. inquired, a bit shocked by his request for them.
    "It's like I told you about in my brassiere battle with Euphie and the others; Enoch said that Kallen is no idiot and he's right. She isn't fooled by looks or the calmness of a situation. Her warrior instinct is keen and sharp. I'll need her close to us to flush out these would-be kidnappers."
    C.C. didn't respond. She wondered if Lelouch's words were true or if this was one of his elaborate deceptions, one that involved having Kallen close to him again for some reason.
    The green-haired witch laughed inwardly, After all these years, could I really be jealous of Kallen? She smiled to herself as Lelouch typed away fiercely on his laptop. He had shared a private memory with her, his dreaded battle with Euphie's brassiere, which was enough for her at the moment. Even if you do have feelings for her, my love, you would do well to remember my warning. Geass brings with it grave consequences. You and I have beat the odds and found each other, but I fear for Kallen if you try to bring her too close to you...for Geass is a curse that is not as forgiving as I am.
    All things in moderation...

  7. #7
    Super Moderator rank = Hod (acknowledged Novice) Kodai Okuda's Avatar
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    Code Geass: Chronicles of Tartarus
    Side Story Five:
    Puppy Love

    "Obsession, something we all experience at one time or another in our lives, but for most of us an intimate relationship ends without the incessant desire to continue it at all costs. It is with those types of people who cannot let go of someone that obsession takes on a dangerous turn. Often the victim of such an obsession has attempted to call off the relationship, but the other person simply refuses to accept being rejected. Left untreated, an obsessed person can develop personality disorders ranging from the emotionally immature to the extremely jealous. This is often a cover for deeper feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, or powerlessness without the relationship. While reconciliation or acquisition is the goal of the obsessed person, they believe they must have the specific person of their focus or else they will not be able to continue in life properly. Such was the case with Evita Ernst. A woman I learned to hate with all my heart, even though she and I shared much in common." —Excerpt from the personal diary of Captain Kallen Kozuki, dated March 22nd, 2025 a.t.b.

    "Make sure the perimeter is secure, Tamaki; we don't know what kinds of technology these people might have at their disposal," Kallen told him over her handheld comm. Kallen flipped her hair behind the long, black, leather duster she wore over a jet-black skirt and blouse. Her high-heeled boots clicked rhythmically as she and Gino made their way through the vestibule of the hotel into the lobby.
    "Don't worry, Captain," Tamaki's voice boomed over the radio, "Akira and I have got things covered on our end."
    "Good enough," Kallen replied with confidence that at least Akira could handle whatever Tamaki might screw up.
    Kallen turned to Gino, who flipped his mirrored sunglasses up onto the top of his head as she spoke, "We should probably place some portable mini-surveillance cameras in Zero's room just to keep watch on all possible entry points."
    “Kallen,” Gino said to her softly as they made their way through the lobby of the hotel towards the elevators, “we talked about this. You need to focus on protecting the perimeter of the room.” Gino smiled at her, “You agreed to let C2 and Lelouch have their privacy, remember?”
    She glared at him through her rose-tinted sunglasses. “You should put your anti-Geass glasses back on. Rakshata spent a great deal of time perfecting these things for us.”
    “I know,” he said as he placed his pair back on, “but you still didn’t answer my question.”
    “The thought of the two of them…” she turned away from him, “alone together still makes my blood boil, OKAY?!”
    “I understand, Kallen, but put yourself in Lelouch’s shoes,” he reasoned with her. “Think about how he feels in all of this.”
    “I know, Gino, but it doesn’t change the fact that I feel like I lost,” Kallen grumbled.
    “No one likes to lose, Kallen,” Gino told her as they entered the elevator. “Just look at Evita. She couldn’t stand losing.”
    The mention of the duchess sent a shot of anger through Kallen. “What do you mean?”
    “She lost to you and nearly killed me in the process because of it,” Gino said with a weak grin. “No matter how much she tried to win me or torture me into loving her, all I could think about was you.”
    Kallen blushed, “So, you’re saying that I won against her in more ways than just battle, huh?”
    “Your victory over Evita Ernst was total,” Gino said with a kiss on her cheek.
    “What do you mean?” Kallen asked with a curious tilt of her head.
    “Well, Evita had been after me since we first met,” Commander Weinberg told her with a smirk.
    “Oh, when did you two first meet?” Kallen asked him as the elevator got underway towards the penthouse suite on the twentieth floor of the hotel.
    “It was about nine years ago,” Gino said, a bit embarrassed. “That’s when Evita and I had our first...encounter.”
    “Robbing the cradle were you?” Kallen picked on him.
    He put his hand on the back of his head. “Yeah…that’s one way to put it.”

    * * *

    “Can you believe it?!” Evita exclaimed at her older sister Dorothea in their guest suite within the walls of Pendragon Castle. “There are still rebels in Japan even after we defeated them so quickly in the war.”
    “Shouldn’t you be preparing for his majesty’s birthday gala?” Dorothea scolded her half-dressed, fourteen-year-old sister. The Knight of Four stood in front of a full-length mirror beside her younger sibling as they made themselves up for the event.
    “I’m not sure I want to go to some stuffy party for that curly haired old man,” Evita pouted.
    Dorothea adjusted one of her tear drop-shaped, diamond earrings. “Evita! He is our emperor and you, as a member of the royal court, will show him the proper respect!”
    “But I don’t wanna go, Dorothea,” she whined.
    “You are required to attend and thus don’t have a choice,” her sister shot back as she stood up and gave herself one more look over in the mirror. “All the families of the Knights of the Round must attend this function, do you understand?”
    “Yes, ma'am…” Evita gave in.
    The door to their suite opened up and a blond-haired, young man popped his head in. "Hey, Dorothea, what's keeping you?"
    "Get out, Gino!" Dorothea yelled at him. "Can't you see that we're not ready yet?!"
    "Hi, Gino," Evita cooed at him, covering her exposed bra with her arms.
    Gino gave her a wink. "Hey there, Evita."
    "Knight of Three, stay away from my baby sister," Dorothea scowled at him.
    "I'd rather learn more about her older sister." He gave Dorothea a sly smile.
    "OUT!" Dorothea threw a pillow from a nearby chair at the door right before he shut it.
    "I think he likes you," Evita giggled as she pulled the top of her dress over her.
    Dorothea sighed, "Yes, he does, but I don’t feel the same way."
    “Why?” Evita inquired. “He’s cute.”
    “Relationships are more complicated than that, Evita,” Dorothea told her with a frown. “Don’t get any foolish ideas about him. He’s a wolf.”
    “But aren’t wolves strong creatures?” Evita asked with a snide smile.
    “Maybe you should stay here,” Dorothea grumbled.
    Evita lifted her chin arrogantly. “No, my presence is required at this function, remember?”
    Dorothea walked over to her sister and adjusted the young girl’s dress. “Promise me you’ll stay away from him, Evita.”
    “Why? I’ve nothing to fear from the Knight of Three…” Evita started to say when Dorothea shook her.
    “Promise me!” Dorothea yelled at her.

    * * *

    “How do you know all this, Gino?” Kallen asked him as she listened intently to his yarn while the elevator made its way past the ninth floor.
    “I was listening at the door,” he said.
    “Eavesdropping?” Kallen kicked at him playfully. “You were such a scoundrel.”
    “I thought you liked scoundrels,” he laughed.
    “I do.” Kallen gave him a crooked smile. “So what happened after that? That can’t possibly be the only reason for her obsession with you.”
    A dark look crossed his face. “No, it wasn’t. The birthday party for Emperor Charles zi Britannia went through its motions with all the usually pleasantries, speeches of greatness, and declarations of the invulnerability of the Empire before the orchestra began and we all took to the floor to dance.”
    “Naturally, every gentleman in the room was looking to court one of the emperor’s daughters, particularly Princess Euphemia who was about to leave for Japan soon to tour what was then Area 11.”
    “Don’t remind me,” Kallen interrupted.
    “Sorry,” he said in an apologetic tone then continued his yarn. “Thus, with all the other men searching for the favor of one of the princesses or other ladies higher up the social ladder, I had sought out the poor ladies that were discarded on the sidelines due to their unfortunate station in life.”
    “How kind of you,” Kallen teased, “but I’ll bet you were actually looking for an easy lover in that mix.”
    Gino blushed as he let out a laugh, “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this.”
    “Too late now, there's no way you can stop at this point, so go on.” Kallen folded her arms but couldn’t hold back the grin that crossed her face. “Tell me how much of a jerk you were.”

    * * *

    “Madame Ernst, may I have this dance,” Gino asked Dorothea.
    She ignored Gino and waved her hand for him to leave.
    “I’ll dance with you, Sir Knight of Three,” Evita piped up upon seeing her sister dismiss his invitation.
    “Evita!” Dorothea snapped at her sister. “You promised.”
    “I know, but it’s just a dance,” Evita tittered as she stood up slowly. She was tipsy form a hearty helping of wine she had consumed to drive away her boredom during the formal ceremony. “We’re going to be out in front of everyone to see. There’s nothing to worry about.”
    Gino had also toasted to the health and long life of the emperor with every lord and knight he had met during the revelry and was not sober though still somewhat able to function.
    “I graciously accept your kindly offer, milady.” Gino held out his arm.
    Dorothea stood up to protest, but Prince Schneizel arrived at their table. “Pardon my intrusion, but I’d like to have at least one dance with the most radiant lady of the Knights of the Round. May I have this dance, Knight of Four, Dorothea Ernst?”
    Dorothea stood up and offered him her hand, as she could not refuse. “Of course, I will happily accept your gracious invitation, my Lord and Prince. I am honored that you have chosen me for this dance.” She bowed to him before Schneizel took her hand and led her out onto the dance floor.
    Gino and Evita followed them out into the gathering of royal dancers and made their way out onto the floor as the formation of lords and ladies began to waltz slowly to the rhythm of Blue Danube.
    “Let’s go somewhere, Gino,” Evita pleaded with him by the end of the second performance, “my head is starting to spin from all these twirls and dancing."
    “I understand,” Gino told her as he led her through the crowd towards the ladies room.
    “Thank you,” Evita smiled at him as she allowed him to guide her to the front of the lavatory. She turned towards him. “I think I just need to sit down someplace quiet. Would you accompany me, Lord Weinberg?”
    “Of course,” Gino told her in earnest.
    The pair made their way through the darkened corridor towards a small sitting room that was furnished with plush chairs and couches and an extravagant view of the city beyond. The full moon of the night sky radiated its silvery light into the dimly lit chamber.
    Evita sat down on one of the large couches. “Please sit by me, Gino.”
    Gino was hesitant about her intent but obeyed her wish and sat beside her. “Are you feeling better?"
    "Much," she said as she lay her head on his shoulder. She looked up at him with longing eyes. "Do you find me attractive?"
    "You are radiant as the silver light of the moon, but whether I find you beautiful or not is irrelevant, Lady Ernst," he said looking down into her gorgeous face. "I’m not so sure about this, Evita. I realize you've taken a shine to me, but I’m a bit old for you…”
    Evita kissed him passionately on the lips. “I want you, Gino.” She ran her hands through his hair as she pulled him down onto her.
    His body responded before he could speak, which caused Evita to blush as she caressed his inner thigh. Her soft touch was too much for him; his mouth moved to protest, but no words came out.
    “Have you ever been with a gentleman before?” was all that Gino could manage to ask her. He was concerned that the girl was confused due to her imbibing so much alcohol and would hate him should she continue and he take advantage of her advance.
    Not to mention the wrath of her older sister that was foremost in his mind.
    “No,” she said as she folded down the top of her dress, “but after tonight, I will have been with one I’ve loved since I first laid my eyes on him.”

    * * *

    “YOU DIDN’T!” Kallen barked at him with a look of disgust.
    “Yah, well, she was beautiful, you know, and it’s not like I planned on it.” Gino turned beet red. “She wanted me, okay?”
    Kallen was wide-eyed. “That’s not what I’m saying, Gino.”
    “You’re not mad?” he asked with a sheepish grin.
    “No,” she giggled as she eyed his groin, “I feel sorry for her. I mean, you’re so well-endowed.”
    Gino gave her a puzzled look. “How so?”
    “Like a horse,” she laughed. “I can see why she didn’t want to let you go. I doubt any other man could measure up.”
    “What? Kallen…” Gino was stunned by her brazen admission.
    “Well, you probably sent her into a euphoric state that she couldn’t find anywhere else.” Kallen gave him a friendly push. “Don’t let it go to your head, Commander, but you’re damn good in bed.”
    “Thanks…I think,” Gino said in a confounded tone.
    “So what happened afterwards?” Kallen asked with a raised brow. “Did her sister find out about you deflowering Evita?”
    “Thank God no,” he said with relief. “Dorothea would have challenged me in single combat for sure, and I’m not confident I would have beaten her. You see, I hated myself for what I did. It was weak and foolish of me to take advantage of such a young girl.”
    “True,” Kallen agreed with him as she caressed his face, “but you didn’t deserve the punishment she gave you simply because you gave in to her desire. She was her own person capable of making decisions and an adult at fourteen.”*
    “Well, I feel I did,” Gino confessed. “I’ve never told that story to anyone before.”
    “Really?” Kallen kissed him. “Thank you for sharing it with me.”
    Gino smiled at her, “What about you? Who was your first?”
    Kallen was taken off-guard. “What? Me? Oh, you wouldn’t want to hear about it. It was really…kinda private.”
    “Oh, was it Lelouch?” Gino wondered out loud to her.
    “Lelouch?" she laughed. "No, the only time he wanted me was when he was depressed, as if I was some kind of blow-up doll for him. The more I think about it the more it really pisses me off." She humpfed, "I think he was too immature and in love with himself back then." Kallen rolled her eyes. "He probably died a virgin, knowing Lelouch.”
    Kallen took hold of Gino's hand as the elevator doors opened up onto the twentieth floor. “Lelouch and I never did anything, Gino, of that you can be sure.” She didn’t have the heart to tell him that she knew exactly how Evita must have felt because he, Gino, was her first lover.

    *Age of sexual consent in Japan is thirteen years of age, however, prefecture laws override Federal law in Japan and may raise the age of consent to as high as 18 years of age.
    All things in moderation...

  8. #8
    Super Moderator rank = Hod (acknowledged Novice) Kodai Okuda's Avatar
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    Code Geass: Chronicles of Tartarus
    Side Story Six:
    The Man with the Plan

    "Planning is the first step in any operation. This was especially true during the conflict with the Greeks when victory was uncertain for all of us, and none of us had any idea of exactly how to go about dealing with them. Naturally, some people are better at planning than others, but our brother is probably one of the best at it. Pity Lelouch let his damn ego get in the way of his better judgment more often than not. I guess that's why God made little sisters. They help keep their headstrong brothers in line.” —Excerpt from a conversation between Empress Nunnally vi Britannia and her older sister Euphemia during the christening ceremony of the Earth Space Ship Kaminejima, dated July 3rd, 2025 a.t.b.

    "I have the target in sight, Alice," Sancia said over her headset communicator as the young woman looked across the street into the hotel from her vantage point in an adjacent building.
    "Looks like there are two security personnel at the door to their suite," Lucretia said as she monitored the hotel from another room in the same building as Sancia.
    "I see them," Alice replied through the cell phone radio she held against the collar of her maid's outfit with her head. Alice pushed a cleaning cart complete with mop bucket out of the elevator and into the hallway towards where Gino and Kallen were guarding the hotel suite of Lelouch and C.C.
    Colonel Madd's voice came over her radio, "Remember, Alice, you need only capture C2 and get Zero to follow you."
    "Shouldn't I neutralize him?" Alice inquired as she came into Kallen and Gino's view. The pair had been talking to each other but stopped upon seeing her. They now began walking in her direction.
    "Don't worry about Zero," Colonel Madd said with confidence, "our masked benefactor Count Amontillado has a plan to deal with him."
    "Very well, sir," Alice whispered into the phone, "I've got to go now."
    "Be careful, Alice, C2 is sure to sense you as soon as you use the SPEED!" Colonel Madd hung up just before Captain Kozuki and Commander Weinberg reached her.
    "Hey there," Gino said with a halfhearted motion at Alice to stop. "Can we help you?"
    "What are you doing up here?" Kallen barked at her.
    Alice answered her in a sweet voice, "The front desk sent me up here to clean the bathroom and change the sheets of the penthouse. Is that okay?"
    "Not until we check you out," Kallen stated with a narrow-eyed look at the young woman. Kallen took out her own cell phone and called down to the front desk.
    "Main lobby, how may I help you?" Dalque asked over the intercepted call.
    "Did you send a cleaning lady up to the penthouse?" Kallen inquired.
    "Yes, ma'am, we did." Dalque's tone was apologetic. "Is there a problem?"
    "No," Kallen answered her gruffly, "just next time please inform security before you send someone up."
    "Absolutely, ma'am," Dalque said. "You have our sincerest apologies."
    Captain Kozuki put her phone away and turned to Gino. "Cover me while I give her trolley an inspection."
    "No problem." Gino put his hand on the butt of the pistol that sat in his shoulder holster as Kallen went through Alice's cart.
    It took Captain Kozuki only a moment. "Nothing." Kallen sounded disappointed. "Sorry, but I have to frisk you now. No offense."
    "None taken," Alice smiled nonchalantly as Kallen patted her down for weapons of any kind.
    Captain Kozuki examined Alice's cell phone then sighed, "Alright, you're good to go."
    "Thank you," Alice said with a wide grin. She then proceeded to the door of the penthouse suite and knocked on it softly.
    "Who is it?" C.C. asked from within.
    "Room service," Alice replied as Kallen watched her from a few meters down the hall.
    "Just a minute," C.C. answered. A few moments passed then the door opened.
    C.C. greeted her at the threshold. "Please come in."
    Alice stepped inside the lavishly decorated penthouse suite's main living area. Within the spacious room was a large, fine, cherry oak wood table with five ornately carved chairs around its polished surface. The mirror finish reflected the light from the brass chandelier that hung from the center of the ceiling. A pair of coffee end tables and matching chairs flanked a large fireplace on top of a richly woven Oriental rug carpet.
    Zero sat at one of the tables staring at Alice as she made her way into the room.
    "If you don't mind, ma'am, I'd like to start in the bathroom," Alice said to C.C. as Zero watched her from under his mask but said nothing.
    "That would be fine," C.C. told her as she walked back over to sit next to Zero.
    Alice made her way over to the bathroom following her memory of the penthouse layout she had studied prior to the mission. She found her way through the spacious suite quite easily and into the large, marble lavatory and washroom.
    Alice pulled out her cell phone and switched it over to a coded frequency. "I'm in."
    "Open the side window to your left," Lucretia instructed her over the phone.
    Alice proceeded over to the lead glass window and turned the brass handle until it was open fully. "Now stand back, Alice." She did as Lucretia instructed her to. In an instant, a puff of smoke from the adjacent rooftop sent what looked like a bazooka rocket through the window.
    The large rocket-propelled grenade shell landed harmlessly on the large shag carpet throw rug next to the bathtub.
    "Open it quickly," Sancia's voice came over the line.
    Alice unscrewed the nosecone of the RPG and pulled out the contents of the missile: a pair of dark sunglasses, a metal box, and three submachine gun magazines, fully loaded.
    Alice pushed a button of the side of the box and unfolded a compact submachine gun then loaded the weapon.
    "Professor Einstein developed the bullets in those clips especially for shooting C2," Sancia said over the radio. "They'll knock her out and put her into a temporary coma for at least an hour, but after that her Code will revive her, so you have to get her and leave as quickly as you can. Dalque is moving to her Vincent-Advanced as we speak in order to pick you up as soon as you've acquired C2. Just shoot her, get back into the bathroom, and jump out the window. Dalque will pick you up."
    "She'd better," Alice said as she thought of the long drop to the street below, "or else you'll have to scrape me up off the pavement."
    Sancia tittered, "Don't worry, Alice, she'll be there."
    "Okay," Alice said as she put on her anti-Geass glasses and cocked the submachine gun, "here goes nothing."
    Alice burst out of the bathroom and walked briskly to where C.C. and Zero were talking.
    "What the hell?" Zero barked at Alice as the girl opened fire on C.C. The specialized rounds tore through the witch's clothing and riddled her body.
    Lelouch opened up his mask's eyepiece and used his Geass. "I, Zero, command you to stop!"
    The anti-Geass glasses reflected his power back at him and dissipated harmlessly off the lenses. Good thing these glasses work, Alice thought to herself as she fired at Zero.
    Kallen and Gino burst into the room with their pistols drawn.
    Kozuki fired on Alice as soon as she saw her.
    "Too slow," Alice shouted out loud as she used her the SPEED! to dodge the rounds and grab C.C. In the next instant, Alice was through the bedroom and back in the bathroom, with Zero and Kallen in hot pursuit while Gino secured the room.
    "STOP," Zero ordered Alice as she leapt out the open window into midair.
    Zero nearly jumped out after them before Kallen grabbed him and stopped him. "Lelouch, no!" Kallen exclaimed as she held him fast.
    Captain Kozuki had no way of knowing that Alice had heard her. Alice didn't have long to think about the implications of Kallen's words before Dalque caught her and C.C. in midair.
    "Dalque, GO!" Alice yelled to her comrade as Zero and Kallen watched from the bathroom window above.
    "We have to go after them now!" Zero turned towards Kallen.
    "I realize how you feel, Lelouch, but there's no way we can..." Kozuki started to say.
    "I don't have time for your jealous nonsense, Captain!" Lelouch barked at her. "This isn't about my personal feelings, this is about the possibility of C2 being captured by members of what can only be the remnant of the Geass Cult."
    Zero darted out of the penthouse suite towards the elevator with Kallen and Gino close behind.
    "What the hell are you on about, Lulu?" Kallen demanded from him as they piled into the lift.
    Gino hit the button for the garage level.
    "C2 was the kidnapper's intended target, not me," he said as if speaking to a child. "That means they know what she is, and there is only one group that has that kind of knowledge that I know of."
    "Fine, but you don't have to be so damn condescending about it, you know!" Kallen scolded him.
    "Sorry, Kallen, but we've got to get her back lest she fall into the hands of the people who served my father, and we know where that could lead," Zero told her as the elevator descended down to the garage level.
    "A return of the Geass Cult's influence on the world," she answered him with a sarcastic grin. "I'm aware of what could happen, Lelouch."
    "Then let us make haste," Zero stated snidely as the elevator doors opened up.

    * * *

    "Do you wonder how soon they'll return?" Kaguya asked Nunnally as the two of them sat side by side within an aerial shuttle.
    Nunnally looked out a viewport window at the deep blue of the sky. "Yes, I wonder just how much time we have left before Athena and the Greeks decide to launch an invasion of our world."
    "I see." Kaguya gave her friend a weak smile. "I guess that could be any time." The lady-chairman eyed Nunnally mischievously. "But I'll bet your brother has a plan."
    Nunnally smiled at her friend's keen sense of perception, "He does."
    "Care to let your old friend Kaguya in on the details?" Sumeragi asked with a raised brow.
    "The plan was made nearly a year ago." Nunnally looked out the window of the shuttle with a blank expression. "It was back on Kaminejima right after the battle with Charybdis and my jaunt through Enoch's Quantum Castle. Enoch, Suzaku, the Red Dragon, and I had come through Enoch's rather unusual Room of Many Worlds into the Ashford Academy Library in order to pick up the Hakodeshim Uriel and Gabriel. We used them to return to Kaminejima, as we intended to transport back to Britannia via the Thought Elevator that was on the island."
    The Britannian empress snickered, "You can probably imagine my shock and awe at meeting Zero standing beside C2 and Jeremiah while my brother's casket laid on its dais, empty."
    "Did Lelouch try to deny he was Zero?" Kaguya whispered.
    "Of course," Nunnally rolled her eyes and laughed. "As if I'm that stupid. Ooh, his arrogance really burns me up sometimes."
    "But you did play along, didn't you?" Sumeragi inquired with a titter.
    "To a certain extent I did," Nunnally lamented, "but I probably shouldn't have. I made it clear that I knew who he was right to his face. Although, I regret not making him come clean right then and there and tell all of you that he was alive. It would have saved some time and helped solidify the plan that I was putting into motion."
    "You?" Kaguya blurted out in surprise.
    "Indubitably, my dear Kaguya." Nunnally lifted her chin. "Who else could have pulled off such a smooth plan of action that didn't involve some game show host presentation by Zero to feed the egotist behind that mask?"
    Sumeragi put her hand on Nunnally's shoulder as she chuckled, "Do tell."
    "Well, after Zero and I had finished squabbling about his identity, we sent Medusa and Jeremiah outside to intercept Suzaku then got down to formulating a plan..."

    * * *

    "We don't really have time for this nonsense!" C.C. pleaded with Zero once Nunnally finished interrogating him within the Geass Temple of Kaminejima.
    "She's right," Enoch said as he sat down on the empty coffin that had held Lelouch's corpse. "We've a limited amount of time before Schneizel's allies get here. Our decisions at this point will be the fulcrum that swings the scale of victory either for or against us."
    "And who are you?" Zero asked.
    Enoch gave him a playful smile as he wrapped his arm around Nunnally. "Your sister's new boyfriend."
    Nunnally poked Enoch in the side and laughed, "You wish."
    Lelouch was speechless as C.C. let out a hearty laugh and put her hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry about him. He's an old friend...and a prankster."
    Lelouch sighed as he removed his mask, "I guess there's no point in hiding since the three of you seem to know who I am."
    "That should have been obvious, big brother." Nunnally folded her arms as she moved away from Enoch. She tried to scowl at Lelouch but couldn't.
    Tears welled in her eyes. "I'm happy to see you again."
    Lelouch wanted to be angry at her for forcing him to reveal himself, yet he found it difficult just to keep from crying. He was barely able to hold back the tears that welled in his eyes upon seeing his beloved sister again. "And I you."
    Lelouch walked up to Nunnally and embraced her.
    The Red Dragon moved forward and started to remove her helmet, but Enoch put his hand on her arm and stopped her. "Now is not a good time," he whispered.
    C.C. gave Enoch a puzzled look as The Red Dragon dropped her hand to her side and slowly nodded.
    Nunnally took hold of Lelouch's gloved hand. "This time we work together in this struggle. No secrets between us."
    "No secrets," he said as he kissed her cheek.
    Nunnally's eyes grew wide. "OH MY GAWD!" She looked over at C.C. "You this could you?"
    Lelouch turned beet red as he realized his mistake. "It wasn't my fault. It was Euryale's Code! You should have been able to see that too!"
    C.C. blushed as she put her head in her hand. "Oh, dear."
    "I'm lost," the Red Dragon said with a shrug at Enoch.
    Enoch sniggered, "I think C2 and Zero have finally consummated their relationship."
    "OH!" the Red Dragon giggled.
    "In his tomb no less," Nunnally announced in a mortified tone. "I mean really, Lelouch, back at Ashford every girl on campus was after you, and you showed no interest in any of them. Is a crypt the kind of setting it takes to get you involved with a woman?"
    Enoch turned to the Red Dragon and shrugged. "Maybe rigor mortis was the only way he could get an erec—"
    "ENOCH!" C.C. yelled at him. "Do you mind?!"
    Enoch gave her an innocent look. "What? I'm just saying…"
    "I know what you're saying," C.C. sneered at him playfully through her ear-to-ear smile.
    "Can we get down to business?" Lelouch inquired with a blank expression.
    "I'd say you've already done enough of that," Enoch cackled.
    "Okay," Nunnally put her hand on her brother's arm, "we've picked on him enough. We do need to formulate a plan for a counteroffensive."
    "I'm sorry, I get carried away sometimes," Enoch said as he held out his hand to Lelouch. "I'm Enoch Apsu, it's a pleasure to finally meet you."
    Lelouch shook his hand reluctantly. "I'm Lelouch vi Britannia, pleased to make your acquaintance."

    * * *

    "No, we cannot allow the Greeks to invade Britannia!" Nunnally scoffed at Lelouch's plan to trap the Olympians in the uninhabited regions of the country and use FLEIJA to decimate their forces.
    "Their mecha have already exhibited an ability to absorb FLEIJA energies," the Red Dragon pointed out. "We don't know if they have any other machines like it, but the possibility does present itself."
    "Then how are we supposed to neutralize their superior technology if we don't lure the bulk of their forces into a position where we can crush them?" Lelouch asked firmly. "Medusa has already informed me of the power of the Apollyon. If we battle that machine over a populated area, the results will be disastrous."
    "Well then, we'll just have to ensure that we engage it over the ocean," Enoch pointed out. "That shouldn't be too hard considering their battle plan certainly revolves around securing the sakuradite in Japan."
    "That fact troubles me," Lelouch said as he cupped his chin. "Schneizel is well aware that the Fuji mines have only just been repaired and are operating at less than ten percent production. They're useless for the amount of sakuradite the Greeks require."
    Nunnally put her index finger to her lips then spoke, "Unless Schneizel intends to betray the Greeks?"
    The others looked at her in shock as the revelation she put forward sunk in.
    "That's it, Nunnally!" Lelouch told her with a smile. "It's the only logical answer to why Schneizel is pushing the Greeks away from Britannia. He's using Japan as bait to exhaust the resources of the Olympians without resupplying them."
    "But Schneizel has to know that the Greeks will discover his betrayal at some point," C.C. remarked.
    "Then Schneizel must realize that has to die," Enoch stated in a nonchalant tone, "and the Greeks have to be the ones that do it."
    "He's our brother!" Nunnally scowled at Enoch.
    "No, Nunnally," Lelouch smiled, "Enoch is right. Schneizel must know that at this point, defeat is a very real possibility for him either at our hands or the Olympians. The best way for him to execute whatever plan he's concocted would be for him to perish at the hands of the Greeks...or at least appear to."
    "But Schneizel won't know about any of our plans in this," the Red Dragon pointed out. "He could just as easily really be killed by the Greeks if we set this type of plan in motion. Doesn't that mean anything to any of you?"
    "It may be for the better if he dies," Lelouch said sadly. "We don't know how much information Schneizel has acquired about Geass. We know from Medusa that Schneizel himself now possesses the power. He may have also gained access to what Clovis and Bartley were working on while he was in control of Area 11 through Doctor Viviane since she was a lead researcher on their project."
    C.C. folded her arms. "You mean Code R, don't you?"
    "What's Code R?" Nunnally asked.
    C.C. smiled at her, "It was a project that involved the artificial replication of Codes and Geass by using my DNA structure and cells. It was started by Charles zi Britannia in order for him to create an army of immortal Geass-wielding clones and augmented humans that could help him solidify control of the world. It also dealt with learning how to activate and control the Sword of Akasha to kill God."
    Nunnally looked at them dumbfounded. "What is the Sword of Akasha?"
    "A mobile planet that exists in a different dimension," C.C. said in a distant voice. "It was created by the ancients to tap into the power of the known universe and defeat death itself. How they made it and where it is now was lost through the passage of the eons from when it was first built. Now it is only accessible through the Thought Elevators."
    Lelouch had a grave expression as he asked C.C., "Do you think Schneizel might be reviving that plan?"
    "I'm not sure," C.C. shook her head slightly.
    Nunnally regarded them all with a thoughtful look, "I remember an argument that Schneizel and Cornelia had on the Damocles while I was with them that may shed some light on this situation."
    Lelouch nodded towards her, "Please, Nunnally, let's hear it. Any information will help at this point."
    Nunnally took a breath. "Cornelia and Schneizel had expressed how they both despised Geass for what it did to our family and to the world. Cornelia hated it for killing Euphie and corrupting you, Lelouch. Schneizel wanted to find its source and destroy it to stop its influence from continuing to plague mankind. The part they argued over was how to go about finding and purging the origin of Geass. I wonder if Schneizel might be putting that plan into motion."
    Enoch contemplated what Nunnally said. "It seems clear to me that the first order of business in our counteroffensive will be to stop Schneizel." He leaned his head back and looked up at the ceiling of the tomb. "Your brother clearly has a plan of his own in this conflict, and thus he must be neutralized first if we are to have a clear shot at defeating the Greeks and obtaining a victory without fear of being routed by a third party."
    "Assuming we do find and defeat Schneizel, what then?" C.C. asked.
    "Then we'll have to contend with the city of Tartarus and its forces," Lelouch stated as if it should be obvious. "We'll need to use the combined forces of both Britannia and the Black Knights to do so. Medusa's description of the city was clear. It's a floating fortress armed to the brim with weaponry and filled with mecha."
    "Then there's no way we can defeat it through brute force," C.C. remarked with a frown. "You should know that."
    "I want to know what the hell is going on in there," Suzaku's voice emanated from the mouth of the tomb.
    "We better get over there and stop him," C.C. said to the Red Dragon.
    The Red Dragon nodded, "That's a good idea."
    The two women briskly made their way to the entrance of the chamber and intercepted Suzaku as he tried to push past Jeremiah and Medusa.
    Lelouch picked up his helmet in case he needed to don it quickly.
    He, Nunnally, and Enoch waited until Suzaku and the others closed the door of the chamber behind them.
    Enoch pulled out a small, cell phone-sized, black case. "I didn't want to talk about this in front of C2 because she'd never agree to what I'm about to propose. However, I feel that it may be the only way to defeat the Greeks." He paused a moment as Lelouch and Nunnally gave him their full attention. "A direct assault on Tartarus is not going to work, we simply don't have the firepower, but there may be another way."
    He held up the cell phone-sized pouch and removed a gray- and bronze-colored cassette tape-sized device. "This little gem should take care of the Tartarus if we can get it into the main engine room of the city."
    Lelouch gave him a skeptical look. "And what, pray tell, is that?"
    "This is a computer input device that has a virus which will rewrite the command and control programs of the Tartarus." Enoch handed the device to Lelouch. "It will cause the city's hyperspace fold system to activate and jump the metropolis into space a few light years from Earth. The virus will then cause the fold drive computer to classify the Sol system and thus Earth as a nonexistent star-system. Therefore, the Greeks will not be able to return with the Tartarus for some time, as they'll have to purge their computers of the virus and reboot the whole city."
    "How long will that take?" Lelouch inquired as he examined the small, gray device.
    Enoch let out a chuckle, "A few years, maybe more depending on how soon they can figure out the virus' programming code."
    "That would provide us with the means of securing a more permanent peace and unify the world," Nunnally blurted out as she thought about the article she had read in the Galactic Tribune back in Enoch's Quantum Castle.
    "How so?" Lelouch inquired.
    Nunnally smiled at him, "What's the fastest way to stop warring factions?"
    "By introducing a threat greater than they are," Lelouch smiled at his sister.
    "Exactly," she smiled back at him. "We'll force the UFN, Britannia, and the EU to unify against a common enemy. One that is powerful enough to be convincing and one that exists beyond our reach."
    Lelouch laughed, "Nunnally...that's brilliant!"
    "But how do you two intend to deliver this device?" Enoch asked. "Getting into Tartarus isn't going to be easy."
    "I'll have to be the one that does it," Lelouch stated firmly. "Only a very few people know that I'm alive with a Code and the power of Geass."
    "I can't just let you go headfirst into that city." Nunnally gave Lelouch a pleading look. "I'll not lose you again."
    Enoch smiled, "You won't lose him, Nunnally. If we plan this carefully, we should be able to pull this off without any major problems…assuming everything goes as planned."

    * * *

    "Did it?" Kaguya interrupted Nunnally's yarn.
    "Not entirely," Nunnally grinned, "but the majority of what we set out to do was accomplished. Since the war with the Greeks allowed us to create the Commonwealth of Earth and the space forces, we achieved three of our major objectives. Now all we have to do is put the next phase of our plan into motion."
    "Next phase?" Kaguya inquired with intrigue in her voice.
    "Yes," the empress smiled. "Lelouch is convinced that the mobile planet, the Sword of Akasha, is in orbit around Jupiter because when he faced my father in C's World, he saw the red gas giant above the mobile planet."
    Sumeragi held a befuddled expression on her face. "But didn't you say it's in another dimension?"
    "Yes, but the Greek Champion Jason once told me that Eden Vital, what we call Geass, is connected directly to the fabric of this universe. When I told Enoch that privately at his Christmas party, he explained to me that Jason was wrong. While the Greeks may believe that Geass and Eden Vital are the same, Enoch said they are not. Eden Vital is the energy which Codes and Geass spring from, not the power itself. That energy exists in an alternate dimension, but must be anchored to this universe for it to flow here. Otherwise, there would be no Geass."
    Kaguya stared at her wide-eyed. "How did Enoch know this?"
    "The Geass Cult's records that Enoch had stolen contained this information," Nunnally told her. "Since the mobile planet is moored in this universe, Lelouch and Enoch surmised that it must be using Jupiter as an anchor. It's a planet that is certainly big enough but not so large as to be a star, which they both thought would damage the mobile planet."
    "Oh," Kaguya said nonchalantly, "so that's why you convinced me to push for the creation of the new space fleet? You want to go hunting for this mobile planet someplace out near Jupiter, is that it?"
    "Basically," Nunnally blushed. "We fear that if anyone gains control of the Sword of Akasha, they'll have the power to access the Eden Vital, and who knows what kind of danger that could pose."
    "So, finding this thing is imperative," Sumeragi grumbled as the aerial shuttle started to descend towards the landing platform of Buenos Ares. The silhouette of a large, cylindrical ship in the distance caught Kaguya's attention. "And that's why we need the Kaminejima."
    "Yes,” Nunnally answered her as they touched down.

    * * *

    "Zero is giving chase on a motorcycle with a redheaded, female driver," Lucretia informed Dalque as her Vincent-Advanced headed for the harbor.
    "I could just take him out, you know," Dalque said over the radio.
    "No," Alice told her over the channel. "I heard that redheaded security guard call him Lelouch. If she meant Lelouch vi Britannia, then we must assume he has a Code and cannot be killed by normal means."
    "Are you sure of that, Alice?" Colonel Madd's voice came on the line.
    "Yes, sir," Alice replied.
    "Dalque, proceed to the Z-1 submarine at pier seventeen," Madd instructed her.
    "Understood, Colonel," Dalque replied as she maneuvered the Vincent-Advanced towards the docks.

    * * *

    Colonel Madd watched the motorcycle chase Lucretia's Vincent-Advanced on the overhead monitor on the bridge of the Intruder.
    "Colonel, we're receiving a transmission from Count Amontillado," a female comm. officer informed him.
    "Put him through," Madd told her.
    The masked visage of Count Amontillado came on the screen. "Greetings, Colonel. What's the status of your operation?" the man inquired in a soft tone.
    "We've captured C2, and Zero is in pursuit. However," Madd cleared his throat, "Alice informs me that Zero may in fact be Lelouch vi Britannia."
    The emotionless mask didn't move. "Really, how marvelous," Count Amontillado stated coolly.
    "Sir?" Madd asked in confusion.
    "Have they reached the Z-1 yet?" Amontillado inquired patiently.
    "Almost, but if Zero is Lelouch, our people on the submarine will be vulnerable to his Geass," Madd stated with concern.
    "Don't worry, Colonel," the masked man's voice held an air of confidence, "Rai will deal with him."
    All things in moderation...

  9. #9
    Super Moderator rank = Hod (acknowledged Novice) Kodai Okuda's Avatar
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    Code Geass: Chronicles of Tartarus
    Side Story Seven:
    A Hop, Skip, and a Jaunt

    “How long I slept in darkness with only my dreams to comfort me. I remember fighting, killing, and being killed. Then I heard singing, the song of endless voices and infinite music. I was shocked when I felt the vibrations of my throat synchronized with the melodies that reverberated in my ears. It was then I realized that I could sing in countless voices, and I had knowledge of boundless harmonies from the depths of Eden Vital. With song, I was to woo my enemies to their doom. The gift of Geass blessed me with the voices of an angelic choir and the power of a demonic siren. Twas then I saw her face as I awoke in my birthing chamber…like a marble visage…determined, sharp, and with fierce intelligence behind her eyes. Nina Einstein, a woman consumed by vengeance who had made a blood oath to rid the world of Geass by making an army of Geass users. Strange that I seem to recall fighting against her kin, the Britannians, in some distant memory within the depths of my cranium, yet now I am to serve their very cause with the Irregulars. Kannon said I was once an Eleven...whatever that means.” —Excerpt from the personal journal of Rai The Piper, dated June 12th, 2025 a.t.b.

    “Hurry!” Zero yelled at Kallen as they rounded a corner. “They’re heading for that submarine with the open hatch.”
    Kallen drove the motorbike like a madwoman. “I can see that, Big-Z, but if I push this bike any harder, it’ll become uncontrollable. It wasn’t meant for two people...especially when one of them is wearing a Halloween costume with a cape!”
    “Funny, Kallen…real funny,” Lelouch griped.
    Captain Kozuki maneuvered the motorcycle over a ramp onto the deck of a submarine just as the Vincent-Advanced landed inside the open hatch at the back of the submersible.
    “Follow them,” Zero barked at her as she slowed the bike down.
    Kallen turned slightly towards him. “This is obviously a trap.”
    “I know,” Lelouch said softly as Kallen brought the motorcycle to a halt at the side of the submarine, “but we have to stop them from taking C2, or else the consequences will be dire.”
    “You really think that whoever has taken her wants to use her to revive the Geass Cult?” Kallen asked as they got off the motorbike and headed for a hatch on the side of conning tower of the submarine.
    “Yes,” Lelouch said as he checked the door.
    It opened.
    “Guess we’re invited,” Kallen remarked with a sour expression.
    Lelouch removed the pistol from under his bib shirt. “We’d better be ready.”
    “I agree,” Kallen said as she removed her own weapon from its holster.
    The two of them proceeded into the dimly lit causeway of the vessel and passed by a deck map of the ship.
    “We should make our way down this corridor to the first right as it goes straight back to the hangar,” Lelouch said as he quickly perused the image.
    “Will do,” Kallen whispered to him as she guarded their rear and allowed Lelouch to take point.
    He angled his pistol around the bend in the hallway before proceeding down towards the rear of the ship.
    “Strange that there is no one coming to greet us,” Kallen said to him in a sarcastic tone.
    “I know,” Lelouch said to her as they made their way down the hall quickly. “It’s bugging me.”
    Kallen waited for Lelouch to open the hatch that led to the hangar bay beyond before she spoke, “Yeah, it seems as though we are expected to do this.”
    “I’m sure we are,” Lelouch told her as they entered the large chamber. Within it was the Vincent-Advanced that had spirited off with C.C. as well as several other modified KMFs of various Britannian types.
    “Fewww,” Kallen whistled softly, “looks like somebody is going to war.”
    Lelouch looked over the machines as they descended an iron grill stairway down to the mecha deck below the egress they had entered through.
    Zero looked at the KnightMares closely. “Those aren’t typical KMFs. They’ve been modified using a technology I’m not familiar with, and I’d say there’s something amiss about them due to their organic appearance.”
    “I know what you mean,” Kallen said as she examined the fingers of the Vincent-Advanced in the center of the hangar. “The hand units look more like a real hand under a glove than a mechanical one.”
    “We’ll have to save the examination for later,” Zero told her as he caught sight of an open doorway on the right-hand side of the bay. “My guess is they took C2 through there.”
    “I could’ve figured that out on my own.” Kallen rolled her eyes as she followed him towards the egress that led into another hallway.
    The door shut before they reached it.
    “Guess we’ve sprung the trap!” Kallen blurted out.
    “Indeed,” Lelouch said as he tried to open the hatch, but it was locked from the other side.
    “Lelouch vi Britannia,” a melodic male voice said from the doorway they had come through before.
    “Who’s there?” Zero demanded as Lelouch prepared to use his Geass.
    A handsome, young man with snow-white hair and ice-blue eyes walked over the pressure lip of the hatchway onto the iron grill landing of the stair that led down to Kallen and Zero.
    The man began whistling a tune which emanated from his vocal cords like a symphony of instruments as the sigil of Geass formed around his throat;
    Kallen dropped to the floor onto her knees. Her mouth moved to tell Lelouch to run, but her head was so filled with music that she couldn’t think until finally she blacked out and collapsed onto the metal deck.
    Zero tried to summon his Geass, but the sound of the music caused him to grasp at his ears. He tried in vain, as he was unable to remove his helmet fast enough. The sound reverberated in his skull, compelling him to look up at the white-haired youth.
    The young man began to sing and gesture towards Lelouch as he made his way down the stairs towards Zero:

    By the last breath of the four winds that blow
    I'll have my revenge upon Fortunato

    The man walked up in front of Lelouch and stretched out his hand as Zero sank to his knees before him. The ice-blue eyes looked down at Zero with sadness as he removed Lelouch’s mask, but his voice didn’t miss a beat:

    Smile in his face I'll say "come let us go
    I've a cask of Amontillado"

    The will of the man passed into Lelouch’s mind as he felt himself compelled to take the man’s hand in his.

    Sheltered inside from the cold of the snow
    Follow me now to the vault down below

    Zero stood up and started to walk with the white-haired man as he led Lelouch to a globe-shaped object that was concealed just behind the Vincent-Advanced. The device was identical to the one Lelouch had first found C.C. in.

    Drinking the wine as we laugh at the time
    Which is passing incredibly slow

    The young man smiled at Lelouch as they walked up the stair next to the sphere towards a control panel. The white-haired man used his free hand to press a button on the control panel and open the container.
    Lelouch suddenly had a rush of words enter into his thoughts that he was compelled to sing:

    (What are these chains that are binding my arm?)

    The man sang the next line as he held Lelouch’s hand and eased him into the sphere:

    Part of you dies each passing day

    Lelouch sang another bar as the man let go of his hand:

    (Say it's a game and I'll come to no harm)

    The man gave Lelouch a sideways smile as he began activating the container’s various controls and functions and sang the next line:

    You'll feel your life slipping away

    Lelouch lay back into the side of the large sphere as the man monitored the external containment devices that were attached to its outer shell.

    You who are rich and whose troubles are few
    May come around to see my point of view

    The man was so engrossed with his melody and his task that he didn’t see Kallen pulling herself slowly up off the floor on the other side of the KnightMare Frame.
    The angelic voice continued to sing:

    What price the crown of a king on his throne
    When you're chained in the dark all alone

    Lelouch sung again as the devices on the sides of the sphere came to life with various dials and meters beginning to light up:

    (Spare me my life only name your reward)

    The control screen in front of the white-haired man began a countdown as the systems of the stasis chamber started their sequences.

    Part of you dies each brick I lay

    The sphere began closing as Lelouch sang the next verse:

    (Bring back some light in the name of the Lord)

    The white-haired man shook his head slowly in response as he ended the song and Lelouch felt his body go numb:

    You'll feel your mind slipping away

    “STOP!” Kallen yelled as she fired a shot at the white-haired man. Her round grazed his right arm, which sent him reeling over the side of the control station onto the hard metal floor.
    Kallen fired at him again to get him away from the globe while she rushed up the stairwell to the top of the now half-closed sphere. She looked at the controls but knew there was no time to try and figure them out. Captain Kozuki aimed for the hoses and tubes around the globe and fired on them.
    Her barrage of bullets tore through the rubber hoses and metal fittings causing a stream of liquid nitrogen to flood the hangar bay all around the sphere. Her action slowed down the closure of the globe but failed to stop it. The freezing liquid turned into a fog almost instantly and began to rise up within the hangar.
    Machine gun bullets ricocheted past Kallen from behind her.
    “Stop there, Captain Kozuki!” Dalque commanded as she and Sancia entered into the hangar from the formerly locked hatchway.
    Kallen spun on her heel and fired back at Dalque with her pistol.
    A round zipped past Dalque’s head. “That little bitch tried to kill me!” Dalque fired a full burst directly at Kallen with her submachine gun.
    “No, Dalque! Count Amontillado said he wants her alive!” the white-haired man barked at her as he got to his feet. Blood ran down his arm where Kallen had grazed him.
    Kallen jumped backwards to dodge the hail of bullets and fell into the sphere with Lelouch. The rounds peppered the control console of the sphere and a panel at the back of the hangar bay itself.
    The globe closed with Kallen inside it.
    “Dalque, you hit the bay door controls!” Sancia yelled at her in a panic as the floor doors of the bay began opening.
    “Rai, save my KnightMare!” Dalque demanded as her machine began to fall into the ocean water when the egress opened.
    “There’s no time,” Rai yelled back at her as he got off the rapidly opening floor hatch.
    A blur passed by Dalque, Rai, and Sancia towards the KMF while the sphere and its control station dropped into the sea.
    A moment later, the KnightMare frame started up and stabilized itself above the doors as the damaged hatch control panel shorted out and burst in a blue explosion of electrical energy.
    The cockpit hatch of the Vincent-Advanced opened up as soon as the KMF landed on the deck, and Alice stood up from its seat. “Sancia, get Rai down to the infirmary and patch him up. Dalque, see if you can get those doors open all the way. Our KMFs can’t get through with them ajar, and we need to retrieve that sphere ASAP.”
    Dalque tried to open the portal from another console that rested near the front of the hangar bay. “It won’t open, Alice. The entire hatchway control system is shorted out. We’ll have to fix it before we can launch.”
    “Damn it!” Alice cursed as she thought of Lelouch and Kallen falling into the depths of the icy Gulf of Finland, as the sphere would surely be swept out into the waters of the Baltic Sea by the current.

    * * *

    “Lelouch, wake up,” Kallen said to him within the dim, green light of the stasis chamber. She tried to control the panic that was swelling up in her head as she felt the metal globe bobbing up and down. Kallen knew that could mean only one thing: they were underwater and moving.
    Lelouch lay unconscious on the side of the sphere.
    Kallen shook him lightly. “Lelouch, you have to wake up.” She could feel the cold of the water of the Gulf of Finland as its frigid temperatures penetrated the walls of the metal globe.
    Kallen tried to rouse him again. His eyes opened but stared blankly back at her as if he were in a trance.
    “Damn it, Lelouch, if you don’t snap out of it, we’re…” She held back her fear as she felt the heat of her body dropping. “I’m not going to make it.”
    Captain Kozuki opened up her trench coat and wrapped it around her bare thighs as she hugged Lelouch’s warm body. She pulled his cloak over both of them to try and retain more heat.
    Kallen lay with him for a few minutes trying to warm up, but the icy waters were draining the heat from the sphere faster than their bodies could generate it.
    Her teeth chattered despite the warmth coming from both their bodies. “I don’t think I’m going to last long.” Kallen could see her breath as she spoke to him knowing that he didn’t hear her.
    The metal globe shuddered a moment then Kallen felt her stomach lift. We’re falling, she thought as all hope of rescue slipped away from her mind. We must have drifted out to the Baltic Sea, which means we’ll freeze before anyone can reach us. I’ll die for sure, but at least you’ll go on.
    The thought was painful to her as she looked up at him and smiled. The freezing cold was beginning to cloud her thoughts.
    “I lied to you, you know,” she said as she snuggled up next to his face. “I didn’t mean what I said about you being a boy…well, I kinda did, but that’s because you hurt me.”
    Her eyes grew moist. “Don’t get me wrong, Lelouch, I do like Gino a lot, maybe I even love him, but not like you. You are like no one I’ve ever known, and my heart-of-hearts will always belong to you no matter how many other men come into my life. I will always truly love you. Is that wrong? Is it evil of me to truly love only one man while I give myself to others?”
    Kallen lay her head next to his as her lips trembled with the freezing temperature. “Will you hate me for being with them? Or do you not love me?”
    She caressed his face as the sphere landed on the bottom of the Baltic with a thud that jarred them a little.
    “Looks like this is it,” she said to him as she felt the tips of her fingers burning with the cold. “Soon we’ll start to go numb, then as hypothermia sets in we won’t feel anything as we fade off into death.”
    Her body shook uncontrollably as she leaned closer to him. “One kiss before I go, my love.” Kallen put her lips to his and kissed him.
    She closed her eyes while she kissed him and a flood of images entered her mind.

    * * *

    “Hey, Kallen, what are you doing here?” Lelouch asked from where he looked out over the Britannian settlement. The sun shone high in the sky, but it gave no warmth.
    Kallen looked around the rooftop that she and Lelouch were standing on. She knew the landscape of the place but it was different somehow, warmer.
    “How did we escape the metal sphere and end up back here at Ashford?” Kallen asked him.
    “Sphere?” Lelouch asked with a befuddled expression. “Are you feeling okay, Kallen?”
    “I’m not so sure.” She wondered if she had faded off into death as she kissed him and that this was perhaps the afterlife. “A moment ago, you and I were at the bottom of the Baltic Sea and freezing to death. Now we are here at Ashford.”
    “Hey, you guys,” Rivalz called out as he and Milley came up from the stair that led back down into the academy. “What’s going on?”
    Rivalz and Milly? Kallen thought to herself. They’re not dead, of that I’m sure. No, this must be something else.
    “You’re late for music class,” Rivalz scolded Lelouch.
    “As always,” Milly tittered. They were both dressed in their school uniforms.
    It suddenly hit Kallen that Rivalz and Milly looked like they did in their teens. This must be how Lelouch remembers them. That means I’m in his mind and we really are still dying in the sphere. It must be his Code. Pizza girl once told me that Lelouch knew her true wish because they had a connection. Kallen laughed to herself, And I just thought she was being a jerk, now I understand what she meant.
    Lelouch laughed slightly at them then looked back out over the landscape of Japan, a Japan of castles, brilliant white cities, and endless green fields. It wasn’t the Japan of Area 11, it was clearly Lelouch’s ideal.
    “I can’t go back to class until I find what I’m looking for,” he said as he gazed longingly out into the world.
    “What are you looking for?” Kallen asked him.
    “My sword and shield,” he replied as a suit of brilliant golden armor appeared on his body from nowhere. It was not mediaeval armor but more like an armored version of his Zero outfit, with a long, green cape that flowed like shadowy hair down from his shoulders. The mechanized suit fit to his body tightly yet gave his form a muscular appearance that was biomechanical in its construction.
    The Zero helmet was swung back on the suit as if it were connected to the armor via a hinge. Tubes ran from under the chin of the helmet to some device on the back of the armor that was concealed by the cape of green hair.
    The handle of a katana rested on the left hip of his armor, but the weapon had no blade.
    “She’s lost her fire,” Lelouch told Kallen as he noticed her looking at the weapon. He removed the handle from his hip and handed it to her. “I don’t know how to rekindle her flame.”
    She? Kallen wondered. “Lelouch, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but we don’t have any time, you have to wake up,” Captain Kozuki pleaded with him.
    “What are you talking about, Kallen?” Milly giggled. “He’s awake, and you can see that.”
    Kallen ignored her. “You’re just dreaming right now, Lelouch. None of this is real.”
    Rivalz checked his watch. “We’ve gotta go. Class starts any minute now.”
    Lelouch’s armor faded away as he replied to Rivalz, “You’re right, Rivalz. We need to get to music class.” He walked briskly towards the stairwell that led down into the school.
    Kallen ran after the three of them and into the main hall of Ashford. She nearly ran over a well-dressed man in a suit and jumped backward when she realized it was Schneizel.
    “Pardon me, Miss Kozuki,” he smiled at her, “have you seen my brother Clovis? He’s supposedly teaching an art class today, and I was invited to see his latest works.”
    “I’m very sorry, Schneizel, I haven’t seen him today,” she replied slowly as Kallen realized this must be what Lelouch really wanted. A world where he and his friends and family could live peaceful lives…normal lives.”
    Kallen had lost sight of Lelouch, Milly, and Rivalz but followed the sound of music to a large, symphonic amphitheater that she was sure was not a part of the real Ashford Academy.
    Sitting in the rows of seats in front of the stage on the right side of the music hall were Suzaku, Euphemia, Nunnally, Cornelia, Milly, and Rivalz. Lelouch sat alone on the other side watching the bloodred curtain of the stage.
    Kallen crept up beside Lelouch as briskly as she could and started to speak to him quietly.
    “Shhhhhh,” the others shushed her.
    “The performance is about to begin, Kallen,” Lelouch told her softly.
    The curtain rose and suddenly the room disappeared.
    It was replaced by the nighttime sky of Japan and the bus stop just outside of Ashford. Thunder boomed in the cloud-filled sky as a keyboard began playing from some unseen location.
    A voice began a song as a visage appeared in front of Kallen and Lelouch, though the image of the orange-haired girl wasn’t the one singing.
    Lelouch mouthed the words of the song as he moved over to the girl who Kallen recognized instantly as Shirley:

    When I look into your eyes
    I can see a love restrained
    But darlin' when I hold you
    Don't you know I feel the same

    Lelouch walked up to Shirley and embraced her as tears poured down Shirley’s face and the rain began to downpour in sheets from the sky while the song played on:

    'Cause nothin' lasts forever
    And we both know hearts can change
    And it's hard to hold a candle
    In the cold November rain

    Kallen looked for the source of the singing as the song continued:

    We've been through this such a long long time
    Just tryin' to kill the pain

    The landscape changed again to the memorial in Narita cemetery where Shirley’s father lay buried. Kallen watched as Lelouch cast his Geass on Shirley to spare her the knowledge that he was Zero and was responsible for her father’s death.

    But lovers always come and lovers always go
    An no one's really sure who's lettin' go today
    Walking away

    Kallen experienced Lelouch’s memories of having to lie about why Shirley acted like she didn’t know him as the landscape changed back to Ashford. Kozuki felt the ache in his heart as the song went on:

    If we could take the time
    to lay it on the line
    I could rest my head
    Just knowin' that you were mine
    All mine

    The scene changed to him standing in front of a young Kallen as he contemplated taking Refrain. The seventeen-year-old Kallen slapped Lelouch as Captain Kozuki watched the spectacle and laughed softly to herself.

    So if you want to love me
    then darlin' don't refrain
    Or I'll just end up walkin'
    In the cold November rain

    The scene changed again to when Lelouch found Rolo standing over Shirley bleeding to death. Anger swelled in Kallen as she felt the anguish in Lelouch and watched him cry over her friend’s dying body.

    Do you need some time...on your own
    Do you need some time...all alone
    Everybody needs some time...
    on their own
    Don't you know you need some time...all alone

    The environment faded to the hangar of the Ikaruga when Kallen stood in front of Lelouch to stop the Black Knights from shooting him as they chose to betray Zero.

    I know it's hard to keep an open heart
    When even friends seem out to harm you
    But if you could heal a broken heart
    Wouldn't time be out to charm you

    The image before Kallen changed to when she kissed him on the lips and he rejected her. Tears welled in her eyes, and she could feel the love he had within him for her.

    Sometimes I need some time...on my own
    Sometimes I need some time...all alone
    Everybody needs some time...
    on their own
    Don't you know you need some time...all alone

    The landscape changed again, this time to when C.C. first kissed Lelouch. Kallen felt the love that welled inside his heart for the witch.

    And when your fears subside
    And shadows still remain
    I know that you can love me
    When there's no one left to blame

    The image changed again to C’s World when Charles went to take C.C.’s Code, and Lelouch told her he would fulfill her wish to be truly loved by someone.

    So never mind the darkness
    We still can find a way
    'Cause nothin' lasts forever
    Even cold November rain

    Shirley’s image stood alone on the rooftop of Ashford where Kallen had first entered this dreamworld.

    Don't ya think that you need somebody

    Kallen’s teenage visage appeared next to Shirley on her right.

    Don't ya think that you need someone

    C.C.’s image faded into existence next to Shirley on her left side.

    Everybody needs somebody

    Lelouch appeared in front of them and turned to face Kallen.

    You're not the only one
    You're not the only one

    Guilt. Kallen realized it was the kink in Lelouch’s mental armor that the white-haired man used to cast his spell upon Lelouch. It was the thing that consumed Lelouch the most: his shame for what he did to those he loved. Anger burned inside Kallen with a fury she hadn’t felt in years. Suddenly, the katana hilt in her hand shot forth a burning red blade.
    “I understand now!” Kallen yelled. “I am his sword that strikes down those that would hurt him.” Kallen closed her eyes and zeroed in on the source of the music as the last note played and plunged the sword into the image of Lelouch up to its hilt.
    Lelouch’s face contorted in horror as his visage changed to that of the white-haired man. He smiled in pain, “Well done, Captain Kozuki, you’ve earned his life at the cost of your own.”
    “NO!” Lelouch’s voice resounded everywhere around Kallen and Rai. “I will not allow you to take her from me!”
    “Lelouch!” Kallen cried out to the sky.
    “Kallen, will you be my sword…my champion?” Lelouch’s voice asked her.
    “YES!” she called out to him with all her heart as tears ran down her cheeks.
    “Very well then, our contract shall be between hearts. Your love for me and mine for you, I shall be your knight and you shall be my sword.”
    “I accept your contract,” Kallen said to him with a smile.

    * * *

    Kallen’s eyes shot open. The freezing cold had caused her to lose feeling in her fingers and nose which were turning blue, but the fire that burned in her left eye was warmer than anything she had ever felt before.
    “JAUNT!” she demanded automatically as the sigil of Geass formed in her left eye. Instantly, she and Lelouch were engulfed in orange-red light which caused them to vanish from the sphere.

    * * *

    A moment later, they rematerialized on the docks where the submarine had been.
    “What the hell?” Kallen heard Tamaki call out. “Gino! Akira! Over here!”
    Captain Kozuki could feel them uncover Zero’s freezing cold cape that was wrapped around both of them.
    “Get a medical team down here now!” Gino called out to the other members of the Yamato no Orochi as Akira checked her over for any injuries.
    “What happened to Lelouch’s hair?” Anya asked as she and Tetsuo ran over to where Kallen and Lelouch lay.
    “I dunno, looks like it turned silver,” Mika remarked as Akira bent down and checked Kallen’s life signs.
    “She’s gone into the first stage of hypothermia,” Akira said as he felt her pulse, “but she’s still alive.”
    Kallen felt the heat of the sun on her face as the emergency shuttle from the Ikaruga landed next to them.
    “Did we make it?” Kallen mumbled aloud.
    “Yeah, Kallen, you made it…” Tamaki said with an edge in his voice, “but don’t ask me how. One minute you weren’t there, the next minute you were.”
    Kallen tried to laugh in her delirium, “That’s because I’m his sword, I can strike from anywhere.” Captain Kozuki faded off into darkness.

    * * *

    “I’ve lost control of him,” Rai told Count Amontillado as he stood in the medical bay of the submarine. The hum of the ship’s engines reverberated throughout the vessel as the Z-1 submarine made its way out of the Baltic Sea. “The woman Captain Kozuki freed him.”
    “Oh,” the masked man asked with a change in the tone of his voice. “How did she do that?”
    “By learning Lelouch’s secret,” Rai told him.
    “Which is?” Amontillado asked.
    “That he loves her,” Rai stated bluntly. “But that she is only one facet of Lelouch’s complex personality. One woman is not enough for him. There are three which comprise his mental arsenal, each a specific aspect of his life experiences and each necessary for him to be at his maximum potential.”
    “Curious,” Amontillado said cupping the chin of his metal mask. “So, he is like his father to a certain extent?”
    “No, it’s not sexual love,” Rai said with confidence, “it’s pure. Like a true love only split in three ways. One is the armor that has protected him and taken bullets for him. That armor is C2. The second is his shield, the one who sheltered him from his own evils and mistakes. The girl whose smile and forgiveness for his transgressions allowed him to go on despite his own self loathing. That one was the girl Shirley, whom Rolo killed. The last one is his sword, the woman who was loyal to the end and would fight for him no matter what. She is a blade of pure fire, whose heat can cut down any of his adversaries. That one is Captain Kozuki.”
    “So, he was weakened by the death of Shirley, which must have led to his decision to kill himself since she no longer shielded him from his sins. We now have C2, so we have his armor.” Count Amontillado smiled under the mask as he realized the extent of C.C.’s value in ways he had not comprehended previously. “All we need to do now is acquire his sword, and Zero will be at our mercy.”
    “That would be a logical assumption, my Lord,” Rai concurred.
    “It was also the conclusion that V2 came up with, according to the records I’ve uncovered in Britain,” Nina Einstein said as she walked into the medical bay of the Z-1.
    “Ah, Nina, I’m so glad you could join us,” Count Amontillado said pleasantly.
    “I cannot stay here very long,” she said with a scowl, “but I’ve brought the weapon you requested, although I’m not comfortable with using this…thing.”
    “Oh, come now, Professor,” the Count said with a wave of his hand as he and Rai started towards the exit of the infirmary, “you can’t allow your personal emotions to get in the way of using this weapon.”
    Nina got in line with them as they made their way to the next room which was the biological storage bay on the medical deck of the submersible
    “We don’t know what will happen if this thing comes in contact with a Code wielder,” Nina said as the trio came up to a stasis chamber within the spacious bio-lab.
    The silhouette of a young girl floated within the chamber.
    “Especially if that Code wielder is Lelouch vi Britannia,” Nina spat at the count as she illuminated the interior of the cylinder.
    Rai’s eyes shot wide open as he saw the girl. “I see why you wanted to use her,” he said in awe.
    “Indeed,” the count snickered, “your information has made this clone even more valuable than we first surmised.”
    There floating within the chamber was Shirley.


    "The Cask of Amontillado" performed by The Alan Parsons Project (Lyrics written by Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons)
    "November Rain" performed by Guns N' Roses (Lyrics written by Axl Rose)
    All things in moderation...

  10. #10
    Super Moderator rank = Hod (acknowledged Novice) Kodai Okuda's Avatar
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    Code Geass: Chronicles of Tartarus
    Side Story Eight:

    “Cruelty is a vice that has plagued man since his creation, an aspect of who and what he is that contributes to the never ending abuse of his fellow man and the making of war. Geass only added to this vice in its ability to augment the selfish desire of the individual imbued with its harsh enchantment. But never had I expected that the cruelty of Geass could be used to threaten so much or so many by the simple miscalculation of a plan that, once set in motion, had far-reaching and unintended consequences.” —Excerpt from the personal diary of Nunnally vi Britannia, dated August 2nd, 2025 a.t.b.

    “Where the heck could he be?” Shirley wondered as she roamed around the gardens of Aries Villa.
    “Where’s who, Miss Fenette?” Marianne inquired of the orange-haired girl as she came outside onto the grand patio of the Villa.
    “Lelouch,” Shirley griped. “I can’t seem to find him anywhere.”
    “Lelouch?” Marianne asked as she put her finger to her lips and thought for a moment. “Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him in quite a while. I wonder where he could have run off to.”
    “I believe he went back to the world of the living,” Clovis said as he walked around the side of a patch of shrubbery carrying an easel, canvas, and paint supplies under his arm.
    “THE WORLD OF THE LIVING,” Shirley exclaimed in shock. “Why would he do that? He promised me that he had left that world to be with me!”
    “I believe it was because Suzaku came here looking for him,” Clovis told her nonchalantly.
    “Suzaku.” Shirley looked perplexed. “What was he doing here?”
    Clovis paused for a moment. “Something about the Zero Requiem failing, gods of Olympus returning, and him needing Lelouch to right the world. I think my elder brother Schneizel had something to do with it all.”
    Shirley put her hands on her hips and scowled, “He went back to the world of the living to help Suzaku fight Schneizel…”
    “That’s what he said he was going to do.” Clovis gave her a thin smile as he saw her clench her fists.
    “Ooooooh…that Lulu,” she growled as she turned towards Marianne. “Mrs. Lamperouge, do you perchance know how to get back to the world of the living?”
    “There’s no way I know of,” Marianne said with a sympathetic smile.
    “But there has to be if Lelouch did it,” Shirley protested.
    “There is a way,” V.V. said as he came out of the house behind Marianne onto the porch.
    “How, Mr. V2?” Shirley pleaded.
    “Some time ago I gave the order for Lelouch’s termination and had the Geass Order clone your body for that purpose. If you could find a way to that body, you could possess it like your own.”
    Shirley gave him a narrow-eyed look. “You cloned me?”
    “Well, I didn’t know you back then, plus things are much different in the world of the living than they are here,” V.V. said matter-of-factly. “Power, money, and want of material things don’t exist here, so the desire to use a copy of you to slay my nephew isn’t something I’d consider in this world, but back in the world of the living it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
    Shirley raised an eyebrow. “I see. Well, maybe it will turn out for the better.”
    “Assuming that the clone still exists,” V.V. informed her. “I’ve seen many of my old associates in this world that were once part of the Order. Lelouch has killed off nearly all of the Geass Directorate in the world of the living. I doubt anyone still knows about your clone unless some new group has discovered it.”
    “How will I find this clone?” Shirley inquired of him.
    V.V. considered her question for a moment. “I’d say you’ll have to find the Thought Elevator and then listen for the sound of your heart. When you hear it, you’ll know how to find your clone.”
    Shirley gave him a befuddled look. “Huh? What do you mean follow my heart?”
    V.V. rolled his eyes. “I mean that your soul knows what your heart sounds like and can distinguish it from the bodies of other people. Your clone is basically you in physical form with a new proto-soul within it that is both you and not you at the same time.” V.V. adjusted his collar. “Therefore, when you are in close enough proximity of your cloned body, you will be able to take possession of it by moving into it with your will.”
    “I will?” Shirley said with a blank expression.
    “Yes,” V.V. hissed in irritation at her lack of comprehension of what he thought should be obvious. “If your clone still exists, then you will be able to merge with it!”
    “Oh…” Shirley contemplated his words for a moment. “Um…how?”
    V.V. narrowed his brow. “Just touch yourself.”
    Shirley’s eyes shot wide open. “Excuse me?”
    V.V. sighed as he put his face in his palm. “Just go…the Thought Elevator is at the edge of the horizon.” He pointed to the east. “If your clone still exists, that is where you’ll have to go to find it.”
    “Okay…well, thank you, Mr. V2,” Shirley bowed and ran off towards the eastern horizon with high hopes of finding her body and giving Lelouch a much needed piece of her mind.

    * * *

    “She’s not located in the Biminis Thought Elevator temple,” Enoch told Lelouch over the main viewscreen within Lelouch’s private quarters on the Ikaruga. “Our dive teams checked out the entire facility your father built there, and it has clearly been abandoned though not for any length of time. Most of the power plants have been recently recharged, and the place was fully stocked with food, supplies, small arms and the like. I’d say whoever was here has moved their operation elsewhere.”
    Lelouch held a firm look, but his emotions were boiling inside his head. “It’s been five weeks since they took her. We’ve got to find her.”
    “I agree with you, Big-Z,” a thin smile crossed Enoch’s face, “but don’t beat yourself up too much. It’s not like you stood a chance against a whole squad of Geass users. That reminds me…the data I uncovered here at the Biminis Temple had some information on V2’s Code R project that Clovis and Bartley were working on.”
    “Let’s hear it,” Lelouch said anxiously.
    Enoch nodded. “It would seem that V2 had been building up an army of artificial Geass users using C2’s DNA. They never perfected a Code wielder, but they did manage to perfect the spawning of Geass powers in some of the clones they created. Rolo was one of those clones as were many of the children you wiped out during your assault on the Geass Cult.”
    Lelouch eyed Enoch with a scowl, “Don’t you mean massacre.”
    Enoch shook his head. “No, Lelouch, I’m not as naïve as Ohgi and the others. I know full well what those children could have done if they were allowed to live. V2 would have had a legion of Geass wielders that no army on Earth could have stopped. You did the right thing.”
    Lelouch put his head in his hand in a depressed fashion. “If you say so, Enoch.”
    “I do,” Enoch replied sternly at him. “I told you to make C2 the focus of your heart for a reason, and that reason is finally here. You said that Ohgi reported no one at the elevator on Kaminejima, and Akira says the temple located at Stonehenge was the same. That means I’ve got a good idea where C2 may in fact be, and it’s going to take your special link with her to find her.”
    “Not exactly,” Lelouch perked up. “Akira said that there had been someone at that temple under Stonehenge, but all the contents of the facility had been moved someplace else.”
    Lelouch sighed for a moment then he continued, “But still, all of the other Thought Elevators have been thoroughly searched by our Black Knight Special Ops units all over the world including Antarctica, and they’ve come up empty-handed.”
    “Which means…” Enoch trailed off, waiting for Lelouch to follow his line of thinking.
    “Which means we’ve lost them and C2,” Lelouch said.
    “No, Lelouch,” Enoch told him matter-of-factly. “Think about it and use your heart. Where do you think C2 is? We’ve not found the submarine or the airship this group is using anywhere on the planet. We’ve used satellites and conducted a worldwide search for a full five weeks. It’s as though they’ve just fallen off the face of the Earth.”
    Lelouch contemplated his words. “C’s World,” he said with a shocked expression.
    “C’s World,” Enoch repeated with a widening grin. “The Geass temple here in Biminis is big enough to transport a whole airship or submarine and has done so accidentally on numerous occasions in the past, which is why it was one of the first Thought Elevators found, according to the Geass Directorate’s files.”
    “But why go into C’s World?” Lelouch asked him.
    “That’s a good question, Big-Z.” Enoch put his hand on his chin. “I’m willing to bet that whoever took C2 is looking for a way to reactivate the Sword of Akasha.”
    “That’s impossible,” Lelouch blurted out, “God put an end to that device. I know because I used my power of Geass to convince God to stop the Sword of Akasha and deactivate it.”
    “Then that entity is clearly not a god if a power it creates can in fact affect it,” Enoch scoffed. “Your Geass must have accessed the main computer of Nibiru, which caused it to stop Charles’ plan of activating the Ragnarok.”
    “But I saw my father and mother disintegrate by the power of that god right in front of me, Enoch.” Lelouch recalled the painful memory of Charles being absorbed.
    “Matter digitization is a function of the Thought Elevators, Lelouch,” Enoch said nonchalantly. “It is how your physical body is able to travel from this world to the world of C intact and back again. The information about what makes you…well, you…is simply transmitted to C’s World through the Thought Elevator and reassembled on either side of the gate. What happened to Charles and Marianne was that their information was transferred into the storage component of Nibiru itself, like when you load data from a CD or DVD onto a hard drive then destroy the CD or DVD. The information is still available, but the old vessel is gone. That’s what happened to your parents, their bodies are gone but their information is still accessible.”
    “But that doesn’t explain why this group has taken C2 into C’s World or what they plan on doing there,” Lelouch stated.
    “Actually it does,” Enoch smirked. “This group has to know they’re badly outmatched by the combined strength of the Commonwealth of Earth, and thus they’d need a base of operations that is outside of our reach. Nibiru is obviously out near Jupiter, and we’ve nothing that can reach out that far in any reasonable amount of time. Even the ESS Kaminejima would require months to travel out to the gas giant let alone search and find the mobile planet. No, this enemy has every reason to hide on that moon-sized, metal Dyson Sphere. Even chasing after them through the Thought Elevators may prove difficult if we don’t go through the exact same one as they went through. I assume the one here in Biminis is the one they used to transport their warships, but you just told me that Akira reported to you that there was someone at the Stonehenge temple that has now fled. We must assume that a second team has gone through the Thought Elevator there and has come out at the corresponding C’s World terminal on the other side.”
    “I can have the Yamato no Orochi assembled in a few days…” Lelouch started to say before Enoch cut him off.
    “NO!” Enoch barked. “It’s far too dangerous for us to endanger any non-immortals in this operation, Lelouch. There’s no telling what’s lying in wait on the other side of those gates. I think for this operation, you and I should go alone.”
    Lelouch couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “How are the two of us going to search both Thought Elevators at once?”
    Enoch laughed, “You start at the one at Stonehenge, and I’ll start at this one here in Biminis. We’ll meet up later in C’s World. Pretty simple, don’t you think?”
    “That’s insane,” Lelouch shouted at him, “how the hell are we going to find C2 with just the two of us, and starting from different points in C’s World on top of that?”
    “You do still have the Samael, right?” Enoch asked as he took a sip of water from a glass next to him. “I’ve got a Type-21Z here that I can use from my end. You follow your heart to C2, and I’ll follow the transponder signal of the Samael. Again, a very simple solution to a simple problem.”
    “You make it sound so easy.” Lelouch folded his arms in irritation. “What do you plan on doing if we meet up with an armed enemy force in there?”
    Samael is a Hakodeshim if you remember, and he can pretty much destroy any KMF,” Enoch smirked, “and I’m a decent pilot, so I can whip anything these kidnappers throw at me in there. It’ll be a piece of cake.”
    “Sure,” Lelouch replied sarcastically. “I’m not as confident as you are about this. Whoever is behind this operation has to be extremely intelligent. The use of the Thought Elevators is simple enough, but cloning humans is quite another affair altogether. It would take someone with considerable knowledge of how sakuradite works to use that element’s innate alchemic properties to create a copy of a person from dead cells and then fuse them with C2’s cells on top of that.”
    Enoch raised his left eyebrow. “You don’t think this group is just cloning our green-haired wonder-woman?” Enoch looked sad for a moment. “Pity…I know I wouldn’t mind one.”
    “Will you get serious?” Lelouch snapped. “No, I don’t think that only C2 is being cloned; I think that the other kidnappings prove that, you dolt.”
    Enoch waved his hand dismissively. “Oh, don’t get your training bra in a bind, little girl. I was only kidding to try and lighten up your depressing mood.” Apsu’s tone became serious. “I’ve no doubt that the leaders of the world who’ve been captured have probably been cloned in this as per V2’s original plans to replace the world’s leaders with Geass users loyal to the Directorate. That was part of Rolo’s purpose—to kill off political leaders and crime bosses that stood in their way and replace them with clones. I’m willing to bet that whoever is behind the kidnapping is following that plan.”
    “That makes sense,” Lelouch smiled slightly. “Alright, Enoch, I agree to your plan of action, but keeping this from Kallen isn’t going to be easy. Especially since she’s been watching me like a hawk these past few weeks.”
    “Can’t get enough of you now that C2 is gone, huh?” Enoch teased him.
    “Something like that.” Lelouch seemed uncomfortable with the subject.
    “Alright, Big-Z, you think you can slip away in say forty-eight hours time?” Enoch asked as he pulled out his gold pocket watch and flipped it open. “0800 hours Greenwich mean time okay with you?” Enoch inquired.
    “Perfect,” Lelouch answered with a smile.
    “See you then, Big-Z.” Enoch gave him a two-fingered Boy Scout salute then switched off his transmission.
    Lelouch watched the blank screen for a moment then said to himself, “I’m coming, C2.”

    * * *

    Kallen was bent over with her ear against the door of Lelouch’s private quarters when Tamaki came up behind her with two cups of coffee in his hands.
    “Eavesdropping, are you?” Tamaki snickered.
    “What…NO!” Kallen jumped up. “I was just…uh…checking the door.”
    “Sure you were,” he grinned as he handed her one of the cups. “Let me know when you find out if the door is okay,” he tittered as he walked back down the hall to his post.
    Kallen sighed as she whispered to herself, “You’re not going without me, Lulu.” She took a sip of her coffee then pulled out her cell phone and pushed an autodial button. Kallen waited a moment before a woman picked up the line on the other end.
    “Hello, Captain Kozuki, how may I help you?” the woman’s voice asked in a thick Indian accent. Two voices were in the background, one that Kallen recognized as Suzaku’s.
    “Hi, Rakshata,” Kallen said with a mischievous smile, “I was wondering, how soon could you have the Guren-Phoenix ready for launch?”
    “Anytime…why?” Rakshata sounded confused.
    “I need a favor,” Kallen said in a coy tone.
    “Name it,” Rakshata replied in an inquisitive voice.

    * * *

    “Why do we need so many?” Colonel Madd inquired as he stood next to Nina Einstein within a vast, metallic chamber.
    Nina looked out over the multitude of cylinders that filled the floor of the chamber below them. “We need quite a few and are fortunate that so many have already been incubating in this place for years.”
    Colonel Madd didn’t like how her answer dodged his question, but he thought better of pressing the issue. “It is amazing how far the Geass Directorate had managed to get in their plans.”
    “Indeed,” she agreed with him as she tapped away on a control console that was in front of her. The two of them stood upon a mezzanine that overlooked the expanse of cloning chambers. “Although I wonder exactly what they were planning.”
    “To conquer the world with a Geass army of course,” Colonel Madd tittered.
    Nina eyed him venomously. “Your rather childish perception seems to have missed the obvious as usual, Colonel.” Professor Einstein adjusted her glasses. “There are far too many clones here than would be necessary for an army, which leads me to the hypothesis that the Geass Directorate may not have even started this project.”
    Madd’s face held a look of shock. “But if they didn’t start it then who?”
    Nina thought for a brief moment. “The ancients.”
    “The ancients?” Colonel Madd inquired in disbelief. “But why would they build an army of Geass clones if they never intended to use them?”
    “These clones do not possess the power of Geass, Colonel,” Nina informed him as she worked the control screen in front of her, “that’s why we needed C2. These clones are like a blank slate. Each is an identical clone of a master, manlike body which was probably genetically produced some time in the distant past. Through the use of sakuradite, I can take that fully developed blank body and genetically alter it to be anyone that I have the proper DNA code for. The person need not even be alive anymore. As long as I have their genetic code, I can make a copy of them.”
    “Is that what the Directorate was doing? Making copies of others with these bodies?” Madd asked.
    “No, not exactly. The Geass Directorate made only a few clones from these bodies.” Nina tapped away on the touch screen. “I don’t think they trusted these blanks since they’re indistinguishable from the real thing. Unlike Rolo’s line of clones that were clearly made from a master form which was once human, it is my belief that these clones were built to actually replace individuals who had died and thus were susceptible to being reinhabited by those deceased people.”
    “I see,” Colonel Madd cupped his chin, “so you feel that these bodies were like a repository of spare bodies for the ancients, is that it?”
    “More or less,” Nina said as she brought up the screen she wanted. “That is why I’m not comfortable with the clone of Shirley being activated. The Geass clone that V2 created has a considerably nasty power, and I fear that if it comes into contact with the disembodied data of the real Shirley, then we will have a very real problem on our hands.”
    “Are you implying that her soul could retake her body?” The Colonel was intrigued.
    “That is precisely what I’m saying.” Nina was uncomfortable with the thought of Shirley returning to the land of the living.

    * * *

    An orange star zoomed along the sky of Eden Vital leaving a yellowish-gray contrail through the rust-colored sky as it did so. The mighty gas giant Jupiter was just barely visible through the hazy atmosphere of the Dyson Sphere.
    “That’s the Samael,” Dalque said from within the cockpit of her Vincent-Advanced. The machine was nestled between two large towers on the surface of the mobile planet as she watched the black and gold machine flying along the skyline of Nibiru towards their position.
    “I’m surprised he’s coming this way considering the size of this mega-structure,” Sancia remarked as she monitored the Samael on her KMF’s viewscreen. Her machine was hiding in a niche in the side of a large skyscraper that had a tuning fork shape.
    “I’m not,” Lucretia added as she kept a bead on the Samael with the sniper beam rifle of her Vincent-Advanced. “It’s my opinion that he’s got a link to C2 somehow, and he’s following it to her location.”
    “That’s a real possibility,” Alice interjected. “We’d better lay low until we know for sure whether Lelouch is following a plotted course or just snooping around.”
    “What if he gets too close to our base of operations?” Dalque asked.
    “Then you have permission to shoot him down,” Alice answered her in an icy tone.
    “Roger that,” the other members of the Irregulars replied in unison as they lay in wait for the Samael.

    * * *

    “I know you’re out there somewhere, C2,” Lelouch said to himself as he piloted the Samael according to the ache in his heart. He could actually feel the direction the green-haired witch was in, yet another feeling tugged at him from behind. It was faint but definitely there.
    A warning light came on and distracted him. “KnightMare Frames!” Lelouch reacted quickly as a flash of blue streamed towards the Samael. He just barely dodged out of the way of the beam.
    “Damn it!” he shouted as a barrage of autocannon shells clipped the left engine pod of the Samael.

    * * *

    “Damn it, that thing’s fast,” Sancia said as she fired a second barrage of cannon rounds towards the Hakodeshim.
    “Just keep boxing him in,” Lucretia ordered her as she focused her sniper rifle and waited for the Samael to enter its kill zone.
    “Remember that thing’s got a shield,” Alice reminded her team.
    A stream of cannon shells spewed out of Dalque’s machine and slammed into the force field around the Samael while simultaneously forcing the Hakodeshim into Lucretia’s line of fire. “That should do it, Lucretia.”
    “Thanks, Dalque,” Lucretia smiled as she fired the beam rifle at the Samael. The blue-white beam tore through the sky and struck the Hakodeshim on its left engine pod, destroying the engine nacelle completely.
    “Good shot!” Sancia exclaimed as the Samael fell out of the sky.
    “Let’s get after it.” Dalque started to move her machine.
    “No, Dalque,” Alice said. “Count Amontillado has something else in mind.”
    “Oh, not Rai again,” Dalque fussed. “He’s cute and all, but he just doesn’t have what it takes, Alice. I mean he’s already screwed up once.”
    “No, Rai was sent out with an armed detail of clones to deal with the other intruder that’s headed this way from the south. The count sent someone else to acquire Lelouch this time,” Alice told them as she watched her long-range sensors.
    “Ooh, trying out the new Irregular, huh?” Sancia snickered.
    “Yeah, something like…” Alice cut herself short. “I’ve got three bogies inbound at one-o’clock. Looks like one KMF and two Hakodeshim,” she barked. “Look sharp, people.”

    * * *

    “I don’t think the two of you should have come with me,” Kallen protested.
    “He’s my brother, Kallen,” Euphemia retorted as she flew the Uriel next to the Guren-Phoenix.
    “And my best friend,” Suzaku added as his Gabriel came up alongside Kallen’s other flank, “so it’s only natural that when Rakshata told us what you were up to that we had to come.”
    “I understand that,” Kallen complained, “but Lelouch doesn’t know I’m going after him, and I doubt he’d approve of it.”
    “Since when does Lelouch ever approve of us trying to help him, Kallen?” Suzaku asked as they flew over a large city complex on the surface of the metallic world. “You know what he’s like. He’s a loner and wouldn’t allow us to come no matter how strong of a case we made to counter his viewpoint. He’s too stubborn.”
    “I agree,” Kallen sighed. “Lelouch can be pigheaded sometimes.”
    “Hey, what’s that?” Euphie blurted out as a pair of blue-white beams shot up from the ground in the distance.
    “Looks like beam cannon fire,” Suzaku said as he checked his instruments. “They’ve hit something, but there’s too much interference in this atmosphere for me to see what it is.”
    “I’ll bet it’s, Lelouch,” Kallen said as she accelerated the Guren towards the area of the beams.
    “It’ll take us at least ten minutes to reach that position,” Euphie said as she used the Uriel’s dashboard controls to calculate the distance and ETA of their machines.
    “Then we had better get moving!” The Guren-Phoenix zoomed out ahead of them.

    * * *

    “This is just great,” Lelouch growled at the controls of Samael as he guided the falling machine towards the streets of the vast city complex below him. “Guess I didn’t fly high enough to avoid detection. Still, the amount of interference from those metal buildings should be enough to conceal my position within that city as it did for those KMFs that attacked me.”
    The Samael came down in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by six small buildings on the outskirts of the city but much closer to where he felt C.C.’s presence.
    “I’m nearly there, Enoch, so you’d better hurry up and get here,” Lelouch said to himself as he checked over the regeneration screen of Samael. He read the screen silently, Ninety minutes until it repairs itself. I can’t wait that long, I’ve got to find her now.
    He checked the external conditions of the planet. Breathable atmosphere and a cool temp of 15 degrees Celsius, but at least it supports life.
    Lelouch opened the cockpit canopy of his mecha and got up out of his seat. His black- and gray-colored Devicer suit clashed with the red light of the skyline as he removed a submachine gun and four spare magazines from a small compartment in the floor of the cockpit of his Hakodeshim.
    Lelouch disembarked from the cockpit of the Samael.
    He could see his breath in front of him as he surveyed the courtyard for a moment before he started in the direction of where his heart told him C.C. was.
    A bullet grazed the side of his head.
    Enoch’s training caused Lelouch to instinctively dive to the ground and roll out of the way of numerous other rounds which impacted the tiled surface of the courtyard.
    “Show yourself!” Lelouch yelled in the direction of the attack as he sprinted towards a metal bench on the periphery of the circular area.
    Damn, I can’t see where this sniper is, Lelouch thought as a round ricocheted off the bench. I’ve got to flush him out. Lelouch could feel Euryale’s influence on him as his mind went into offense mode.
    He peered over the top of the bench as he waited for the shooter to fire another round.
    A small flash from a second-story window caused him to duck just as a bullet flew over his head. Gotcha, he thought as he whipped over the bench and laid a full burst of submachine gun rounds at the window.
    Lelouch made a mad dash towards the alley on the side of the building as he replaced his spent clip with a fresh one. He went to the far end of the alley and checked the street beyond.
    I’ll never make across. He knew the distance was just too great. He looked around the side of the building and hugged its wall as he made his way to the front doors.
    It was dark within the building and hard to see inside, but he had no choice, he had to find the sniper and neutralize him.
    Lelouch rushed through the front doors, which slid open automatically as soon as he came within a foot of them.
    Within the lobby of the building was a grand staircase that fanned out onto the ground floor. A balcony wrapped around the second floor over the lobby. A desk and numerous chairs and tables littered the room. A hallway ran into the interior of the building on each side of the grand staircase.
    Lelouch ran towards the grand stairwell knowing that at any moment the sniper would be upon him; he didn’t have to wait long.
    Bullets zipped past him on his left as he darted up the stairs towards a pair of double doors at the top. They’re coming down the left hallway towards me. Good thing his weapon is only a semiautomatic.
    Lelouch crashed through the double doors, which swung inwards as he dove over a desk. The room was clearly a conference room of some kind with a dozen chairs situated around a large, oval-shaped table of some plastic-like substance.
    Three rounds impacted a large LCD screen at the far end of the room and showered him with sparks and debris as Lelouch took cover under the lip of the table.
    Lelouch’s attacker hugged the threshold of the chamber and fired at him from behind the lip of the doorway.
    The rounds came in a short volley then Lelouch heard his attacker pull the magazine from his rifle.
    Now’s my chance, Lelouch said to himself as he rushed the threshold of the doorway with his submachine gun raised to fire. He rolled out onto the landing just outside of the room and brought his weapon to bear on his attacker.
    He shot the rifle out of his attacker’s hands, sending the weapon tumbling down the staircase.
    “Surrender…” Lelouch started to command the sniper but was dumbstruck by the sight of the person he saw standing before him as she flipped her orange-red hair up to face him.
    “Shirley?” Lelouch’s voice was barely a whisper.
    “Not quite,” she smiled menacingly as the sigil of Geass formed on her forehead. “For you, my dear Lelouch, I am the Angel of Death!”
    “SHIRLEY, NO!” Lelouch yelled at her while her power entered him and his heart stopped as the life left his body.
    “Die,” the clone said as she watched her power cause Lelouch to collapse to the floor as a lifeless corpse.

    * * *

    Shirley walked around the last of the Thought Elevators wondering what to do. “Now what should I do? I’ve searched every one of these darn things, and my body isn’t anywhere around here.”
    “SHIRLEY, NO!” She whipped around in the direction of Lelouch’s voice. “Lulu?”
    She felt his essence both in C’s World and outside of it at the same time. Shirley didn’t know how she did it, but she honed in on where Lelouch was with an ache in her heart that guided her towards his voice.
    “Hang on, Lelouch,” she said as she started running towards the direction of his voice, “I’m coming!”
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