Part 1: Rebirth of the Demon King
"The only ones who should kill are those prepared to be killed!" –Lelouch vi BritanniaStage 00: A New Lease on Life
Lelouch vi Britannia.
It was the name of the 99th Emperor of the Holy Britannian Empire. Before he ascended to the throne, he was the eleventh prince of Britannia and seventeenth heir to the throne, and a loving brother to his younger sister Nunnally. He was the oldest child of Marianne vi Britannia's children.
And all knew him as the Demon Emperor, for he was nothing short but a dictator. He slaughtered millions, and had done so with a smile on his face, his eyes flickering in amusement. There were many who thought him to be evil incarnate, a true monster on the face of this planet.
While it was true that he did this on purpose, there was also another reason, a reason that only a handful of people knew. In short, the deaths of millions were all apart of a plan to bring about a new world, a world of eternal peace.
This plan, devised by him and his loyal knight and lifelong friend, Suzaku Kururugi, was known as the Zero Requiem.
With all the hatred in the world place upon his shoulders, his death would open the doorway to peace. Lelouch would give his life to bring about this world, and he knew that from the moment he obtained the power known only as Geass that there was no turning back.
And, while the number of people who knew the true intentions behind the Zero Requiem was few, the number of people who knew what drove Lelouch to this was even fewer.
This peaceful world... was all for his beloved sister Nunnally.
Even as the blade jammed deep into his abdomen sharply, the other end poking from his back, Lelouch felt no pain, and his eyes lingered on the sight of his sister, who was bound in chains with large eyes. Though he knew it was necessary, he felt as if his heart had been torn from his body when she looked at him with such disgust and contempt in the past months.
And he never once hated her.
"You're punishment... shall be thus..."
Lelouch's breath was so low that he doubted anyone could hear it other than Suzaku, who was the one in the attire he once wore. His purple eyes stared into the green orbs hidden behind the black mask that had struck awe and fear into the hearts of people.
The title of Zero was not given to just anyone, it was given to the one who knew the burden of the mask, and the burden of the world. Lelouch could not think of anyone better than his friend to take on the name, to keep the peace that would come.
"You shall forever wear that mask... and strive to protect those without power... as one who upholds justice..."
"This Geass... I solemnly accept."
Lelouch smiled softly, feeling no pain at all as the blade was wrenched out from his body. He could already see the tears forming in Suzaku's eyes behind the mask of Zero. His body was limp, so cold that he could swear as if he had been dumped into a body of ice-cold water. He took only a few steps before he tumbled down the ramp, his blood streaming down from the red carpet.
It was there that he lay still, barely able to keep his eyes open. All he could do was stare upwards at the azure sky, beautiful white birds flying overhead with the sound of their wings flapping in his ears as if it were music. He heard the rattling of chains and the shuffling of clothes before his eyes fell on Nunnally, who stared at him with sorrow and confusion.
She took one of his hands in hers, and her eyes widened. All he could do was chuckle softly. 'So... you figured it out...'
"Y-you mean... this was all..."
Tears began to form in the girl's eyes before she buried herself in his chest, sobbing loudly as her hands gripped the fabric of his clothes tightly.
"Oh brother, I...! I love you!"
Had Lelouch not been so weak right now, he would have smiled an angel's smile, ironic considering all the blood that had been spilt on his hands through all of this. As his eyelids began to droop down, he could weakly mutter out, for only one person to hear.
The girl who had idolized the name of Zero, the one who took his words as truth and fought for him, not Lelouch vi Britannia.
"I destroyed worlds... and remade them... anew..."
And with that, his eyes closed for good, never to open again.
The Zero Requiem had come to fruition.
Lelouch vi Britannia, 99th Emperor of Britannia, was dead.
Lelouch's eyes fluttered open, however it was a brink of confusion at first. He couldn't tell where he was, even as his eyes had become adjusted to the lighting and opened fully. He had expected him to return to the collective subconscious, otherwise known as the World of C. To those that entered the Thought Elevators, the World of C was nothing but a single platform resembling the exterior of a building from the era of Greece with a yellowish-orange tinted sky that would appear as if it was sunset, only the ball of light was not present.
However, this was not what greeted Lelouch. Rather, the pillars and roof was gone, in fact that ground he stood upon looked like the surface of a still body of water, streams of white clouds smeared across the azure blue sky while towering white pillars stood in a single line on either side, reaching to the high heavens above. The now deceased Emperor also saw white roses floating along the surface, a few black roses also present with them.
"Where am I?"
Lelouch's voice echoed across the place, with ripples of water spreading outward from his feet.
"You would know it as the World of C, though what you see before you is its truest form."
Lelouch's eyes widened and his body tensed, removing the lens from his eyes and allowing his power of Absolute Obedience to soak into his eyes completely, the sigils of Geass appearing in both of his deep purple irises as he whirled around.
What greeted him was surprising to say the least.
What stood before Lelouch was Zero, however he quickly noted that this was different from the garb that he and his loyal Knight of Zero wore. Zero composed of a black cloak with a high collar bearing gold trims, a slim-fitting purple suit underneath with a white cravat around his neck, and a regal black mask with five prongs, and a purple orb at the center.
The Zero that Lelouch saw had reversed colors. The cloak was white, the suit dark blue, and the mask tainted light gray, the orb now an azure color.
"It is a pleasure to meet you in person, Lelouch vi Britannia."
Lelouch scanned the being before him. His voice was a mix of his own and Suzaku's, as if the two were speaking in complete unison. He could sense no hostility towards the being, though he wondered what exactly the being was. He could tell that it wasn't human that was sure.
It was when he recalled that the being stated that this was the World of C in its truest form. That gave him a clue, and then came his statement just now.
"I assume you're the collective subconscious?"
It wasn't a question per say, it was more like a statement.
"Zero" chuckled, evident by the lifting of his shoulders.
"I am called by many names. God, Yehowa, Brahman, Satan, Shiva, Vishnu, Angel, Devil, but none do justice. You may call me whatever you wish."
"Very well. Why do you look like-"
The collective subconscious cut him off, however he made it sound as if his appearance was obvious.
"On the day the Zero Requiem had been completed, Zero had become what you had hoped: an avatar of peace and justice, standing at the side of one who would balance this world."
Lelouch smiled inwardly. So Suzaku had been doing his job well then, he supposed. However, the being's words made him falter, and his face marred by a confused frown.
"How long have I been here?"
"In the World of C, time is meaningless."
The collective subconscious' words held finality, so Lelouch relented.
"So, will I be condemned to Hell? After everything I have done, I doubt that Heaven would accept me."
He was prepared for that outcome. While his actions may have been just, he knew that his sins weighed more heavily. No matter how much he wish he could, he was unable to wash away the blood the stained his hands. In fact, even now in a place such as this, which looked every bit as tranquil as it appeared, Lelouch knew that he was soaked in an ocean of blood.
He expected the collective subconscious to confirm his thoughts, but to his surprise, it didn't.
'On the contrary. I have come to give you an offer."
Lelouch raised an eyebrow in wonder, looking at the being with curiosity. What exactly was it offering?
"The Wheel of Fate is absolute. There is no one who can stop it; it is as inevitable as time itself. All those who dare try to stop its course shall be trampled underfoot. The day you gained the power of Geass. The day you wore the mask of Zero. The day you established the Black Knights. The day you learned of Suzaku Kururugi being the pilot of the Lancelot. The day you decided to make Japan an independent nation. The day Euphemia li Britannia became known as the Massacre Princess. The day you began the Black Rebellion. The day you became a tool to Charles zi Britannia. The day you once again became Zero. The day you once again challenged Britannia. The day you were betrayed by your allies. The day Rolo Lamperouge died trying to protect you. The day you asked of me to erase Charles and Marianne vi Britannia from existence. The day you and Suzaku Kururugi had thought of the Zero Requiem. The day the plan succeeded... All of these events were ordained."
The former prince's eyes widened considerably. All of that had been planned? Suzaku becoming his enemy? His Geass running rampant? Euphemia slaughtering Elevens?! The Black Knights betraying him?! F.L.E.I.J.A?! Him and Suzaku beginning the Zero Requiem?!
ALL OF THAT WAS SET UP?!
"However, the one downside to the Wheel of Fate is that it runs the same course as the Wheel of Time."
Lelouch's revelation was interrupted by the collective subconscious' speech.
"So then, I ask of you... what would happen if you turned back the clock?"
That was all Lelouch could say, his eyes staring at "Zero" as if he were a madman. It didn't matter if he was the collective subconscious, what in the world was this thing babbling about?
"This is my offer to you, young man: if you accept, you shall be granted another chance to change the world. Deny, and you shall join those before you, becoming a resident here in the World of C."
Lelouch looked at the roses, realizing that every one of them was actually a person's soul that had entered this place. He looked up, his eyes bearing into the blue orb of "Zero's" mask.
"Tell me, when you say 'another chance to change the world', what do you mean by that?"
"Exactly what I mean, Lelouch vi Britannia."
The collective subconscious' voice had changed somewhat. A third voice had joined, the voice of C.C. Lelouch's thoughts when to the pizza-obsessed immortal had learned of his plans. Just as she had done before, she continued to stay by his side, and yet even from the beginning, Lelouch wanted her to turn away.
She had been through enough grief to last a lifetime a hundred times over.
"The day the Wheel of Fate was set in motion was the day you obtained the Power of the King. However, if you were to return to that time, with your experience and memories, then the course shall be different than what you had seen last time. You could prevent the death of your friend's father, the massacre of the Special Administrative Zone of Japan, the betrayal of Suzaku Kururugi: everything can be changed."
Lelouch's eyes widened even further, and felt as if his legs would give out. If the being's offer was true, then... he could save everyone. He wouldn't have to watch Shirley suffer anymore, she could be happy and lively as she always had been since the day he met her. The decision to erase her memories of him had been by far the worst yet, a decision that continued to weigh his heart. He could also stop the order of Euphemia's Geass; she wouldn't have to kill a single life. She would simply be Euphemia, a girl who renounced her nobility to stay with Nunnally, and a happy life with Suzaku was assured! Rolo wouldn't have to die for his sake either! While it was true that Lelouch had initially despised the boy for trying to steal Nunnally's place, he had been so blind in that hate that he just didn't see how devoted, how dedicated Rolo had been to him. He could prevent that from happening! He could even prevent Shirley's death; Rolo wouldn't have the need to kill her if she wasn't a threat! Hell, he could even prevent the betrayal of the Black Knights and the F.L.E.I.J.A bombing!
He could even stop the Zero Requiem. He could bring about a world of peace without slaughtering millions of people!
"Should you choose to accept, you shall be granted a gift of sorts. You could say... that it is the 'True' Power of the King!"
"True Power of the King? I thought that was the Code that C.C. and V.V. carried?"
Lelouch frowned, wondering what exactly he was talking about. Honestly, he thought that the Code his bastard of an uncle and the pizza-obsessed immortal was incredible: they never aged, they never died (he considered it more to be a curse than anything else) and they were immune to the effects of other Geass. If that wasn't the true form of Geass, then what was?
His answer came with the collective subconscious' roaring laughter.
"On the contrary, young man! The Code is but an offspring to Geass, it doesn't even bear a fraction of the power that one can truly beheld! No, what I grant unto you is the ultimate form of Geass. For you, it would be fitting of your power of Absolute Obedience."
"How do you mean?"
"The limits of your power are these: you require direct eye contact, and specific lens contacts and eyewear such as sunglasses obstruct your power. There is also a set distance, and works once on a single subject. However..."
Lelouch could swear that, if the collective subconscious had a face underneath that mask, it was grinning from ear to ear.
"The power of True Obedience does not have such limitations!"
Lelouch blinked, taking a moment for all the information to set in... And his mouth promptly hung open with eyes as wide as dinner plates.
"Are you telling me that this 'True' Geass will allow me to control a person as many times as I want without looking them in the eye?"
He knew how much trouble his Geass' limitations were, in fact when he lost control over it, it had become an even greater pain, protective lens be damned. However, upon hearing the collective subconscious' words, he could scarcely believe it. If what he said was true... he could control anyone! He would be able to select his target, and the best part was that it didn't matter if it had been used already! There was an unlimited usage!
"Correct! The Power of True Obedience is the Ultimate Power of the King, a power that not even Charles zi Britannia could have ever hoped to achieve! You should feel proud of yourself, Lelouch vi Britannia. You are the only one amongst the number of contractors to wield this power, assuming you wish for me to turn back time."
Lelouch had wanted many times to turn everything back to the moment of when it began. This offer would enable him to do just that, to re-write all the wrongs he had committed.
"Why are you doing this? What have I done to warrant such gratitude?"
He didn't understand the logic behind it all.
"I slaughtered millions of people, the reasons behind it are no excuse."
He, the feared and despised Demon Emperor of Britannia...
"Though the order was unintentional, I ordered my own sister to slaughter thousands of people."
Why was he being offered a second chance? Why should he be given this opportunity?
"Answer me, why?!"
Though he didn't mean for it to happen -perhaps on reflex from so many times of his emotions getting the best of him- his Geass flared to its limits.
And yet the collective subconscious just chuckled like his attempts were funny.
"Because, I am in your debt, Lelouch vi Britannia, and above all else, I am interested."
Lelouch blinked, his Geass receding. What the heck did that mean?
"When your father and mother planned to use the Sword of Akasha, I will admit, I was fearing for my life, but above all else, I was furious. Man's hands alone should decide man's conscience, not by others who try to play God. I myself leave their fate up to themselves. And then, a young prince came along, and had asked of me to erase their very being from existence. You did not order me to erase them, and even more than that, you had asked of me to allow the stream of time to continue. You did not order, you just asked."
Lelouch felt uncomfortable underneath the collective subconscious' gaze. He also didn't know whether or not he was being judged or praised.
"In all the time I have watched humanity progress, I have never once met encountered a human such as yourself. You were told that the power of Geass would condemn you to a life of eternal solitude, however you were not as such to be sentenced to that fate. You had clawed your way out of that pit of despair, and for that..."
"You bear the soul of a King. You are more than worthy to be granted a second chance."
There were not many people in this world that could close Lelouch's mouth, however the collective subconscious had just joined the list of the few who could leave the former prince and recently deceased Emperor speechless. His cheeks tinged red in embarrassment, realizing that the closest thing there was to a God had just praised him.
However, in the midst of this, a thought had struck him.
"Tell me, will I be the only one to recall these memories leading up to the Zero Requiem, or will there be others?"
Sadly, the collective subconscious shook his head.
"Unfortunately, no. That right affects only you."
Before Lelouch had a chance to fall into a brief sadness, he could swear he saw a smirk on the being's "face".
"However, that is another perk to the True Geass I shall give you. You can revive the memories of any individual you see fit, even those who have perished in the original timeline."
Lelouch's eyes widened before he lowered his head, his bangs hid his purple orbs. For a while, it was nothing but silence, and the rings spreading outwards from the many roses that floated idly by.
However, that silence was broken by a small giggle, followed by a chuckle, then full-blown laughter. He threw his head back while his left hand went to his face, looking every bit of the madman people had thought him to be before he looked at the collective subconscious with a confident smirk of his own, and his eyes blazing with determination.
"Very well then! I accept your offer!"
It was the collective subconscious' turn to laugh before spreading his arms out in the same fashion that Zero had done so many times before.
"Now that's what I wanted to hear! And thus, I grant unto you, Lelouch vi Britannia... the chance to begin anew!"
And with that, the Wheel of Fate had been swept back, and time spun once more.
Lelouch vi Britannia, formerly the 11th prince of the Holy Britannian Empire and 17th Heir to the Throne, lives again.
"All men are not created equal." –Charles zi Britannia