Code Geass R2: Finale
Written by Spiriblade
Disclaimer: I don't own Code Geass; it belongs to its makers – whom I applaud for bringing a wonderful story to an excellent end. This is my first Code Geass story, and I take some liberties (do forgive me for doing so) in writing it. Hope I make the mark, though…and if I err, tell me so. I will make improvements, so as to ensure it makes the mark.
The final minutes of Code Geass, of Lelouch dying, of the faces of his 'enemies' and his friends, is what makes the story so memorable. This story is from multiple POVs, revolving around those final moments.
Also, I am of the mind that Lelouch will die and not get resurrected. There is no way his father, Charles Vi Britannia, would give Lelouch his Code (thus granting him immortality), even if it is to spite his son. And C.C., as her code was taken by Charles, is no longer immortal either. She's a normal girl with an inhuman amount of experience and knowledge who will die when her time comes.
I am a woman used to unpleasant surprises, but this day, two months after a world capitulated in the face of the Demon King's might, is one that cuts my composure from under me. Standing but a foot away from Lelouch, my half-brother, is Zero, sword in hand, ready to strike him down. The world wobbled. What was going on here? Wasn't Lelouch Zero? Who was the person wearing that mask?
At that time, I did not care. I knew that this was the only chance an entire world had in freeing itself of a tyrant's grip. In the past two months ever since Lelouch took control of the Sword of Damocles, he had swiftly brought entire nations – independent or otherwise – under his rule. Thousands who had risen up to cast Lelouch down had perished, and those who had once followed him faithfully now waited for the very sentence they had tried to levy upon him all those months before.
But, in that split-second before my mouth gives the order to the last of those who defied Lelouch's reign, my memory returns to days long gone, when Lelouch, Nunally (who laid chained before the ramp that led up to Lelouch's throne), and his mother, Marianne the Flash, were still alive. I remembered Lelouch, looking up at me, without fear, his piercing, violet eyes stripping away my masks to look deep into my soul. I knew, without realizing how true it would be, that Lelouch Vi Britannia would be the most formidable enemy I would ever face. He was neither strong nor skilled in combat as the late Knight of Zero, Kururugi Suzaku, but his ability to plan and stay steps ahead of his adversaries matched – and finally, surpassed – Schneizel's.
Lelouch was the one person Schneizel feared and loved the most. He was the one person Euphemia, my darling, little sister, loved more than her own life; the SAZ which she had wanted to create was meant for Lelouch and Nunally, I realized, so that they could spend time together as they had when they had been children.
Euphemia, I will tell you this now, even though I will never say it aloud. So please, if you are in Heaven, watching over us, watching over everything that is about to happen, hear the words of your elder sister, and know them to be true: When I discovered the true face of the man behind Zero, there was no one in the world I hated more, and, as I look down upon what was about to take place, as I see Zero and Lelouch standing a foot apart, the former with a sword leveled to slay the latter, there was no one in all my life, and throughout the remaining days I will live to see, there was no one I would love more.
I run down the stairway at breakneck speed, and when I stood in the sunlight, my eyes widened and my heart clenched as I saw the blade Zero wielded punch through Lelouch's body, exploding from the latter's back in a spray of arterial crimson that stained his pristine robes of white and gold.
I remembered clearly what Schneizel had told the Black Knights months ago as he persuaded (and convinced) them to turn on Lelouch: "My brother is someone who has a tendency to bear all his burdens on his own."
He's dead now, Schneizel. But, by his dying, by what he has done, he has done more than any Emperor – or Empress – could do in one lifetime, or their descendants in ten generations. A world was united in their hate of him, and with his death, he would bring all that hate and loathing with him into Hell. Not even our father, whose legacy was immortalized in the pages of history as one of the mightiest rulers of Britannia, would ever surpass the legacy his outcast son would leave behind.
"The Demon King has is dead!" I shouted, even as the words bite deep and cut deeper, "Release the prisoners of the tyrant king – all of them!"
The battle at the Himalayas was one I was captured at. I remembered the desperation and valor of men and women who struggled to defend their freedom against Lelouch's tyranny. I remembered the bitterness and terror as the Sword of Damocles punched through the clouds, the sky-borne fortress the titanic scepter of a Demon Emperor and the weapon in which he forced an entire world to its knees. I remembered how Todou, barely recovering from his wounds, led the second assault on the Sword. I remembered how I, of the thirty brave souls that managed to make it to the command centre, fell meters away from my goal of slaying Lelouch. C.C. had knocked me unconscious, even as Lelouch mocked my 'pathetic effort' of trying to kill him.
During the long nights in prison, I found myself remembering the past. I had fought for the freedom of Japan, my mother's homeland, against Britannia, my father's. I remembered the missions I had undergone. I remembered the faces of my comrades who had been killed or captured by Britannia. I remembered the oppression of the Japanese people.
I remembered the day you, Lelouch, as Zero came into our lives. I remembered how our tiny band became an army. I remembered how a small terrorist group's knife-stabs against a mountain became an almighty force capable of crushing it. I remembered how our victories – and our defeats – changed the face of a world. I remembered how everything changed. I remembered the day your brother – the Crown Prince Schneizel – revealed your identity before the Black Knights' command echelons. I remembered the horrified looks as he revealed the atrocities you had committed in your quest to destroy Britannia. I saw the faces of people we knew whom you had sacrificed.
I remembered how we turned against you, casting you down. I remembered how the world froze in shock as you, Lelouch, took the throne of Britannia, and used your powers on your siblings to secure it. By then, the crimes you have committed were known far and wide. Everyone in the UFN – the organization you yourself had built with your own hands – looked at you in fear where they once looked upon you (or at least, your masked persona) with respect. With the might of Britannia at your command, coupled with the genius that had once made you its most feared adversary, they were terrified of what you would do next. But when Schneizel unleashed the Sword of Damocles, destroying Pendragon, the capital of Britannia, and utterly exterminating the Britannia Royal House, and using your sister against you, you showed the true extent of your abilities and your ruthlessness.
When you defeated Schneizel and took control of the Sword of Damocles, the UFN and thousands around the globe saw the fearsome façade of a three-headed dragon who had the world at its mercy. The armies of the Black Knights capitulated, leaving guerilla groups that were defeated one after the other. By the time we were chained to stakes and paraded before the people, there was none left to defy you.
Until this very moment, when we, who had once faithfully followed you, who had one foot in the ferry, saw the unbelievable.
There, standing some four hundred meters away from the nearest Knightmare frame, was your masked persona, Zero. I could not believe what I was seeing and, glancing at my compatriots, neither could they. More than half of them turned their heads to where Lelouch sat, half-expecting Lelouch to no longer be sitting on his throne. But no, he was still there, and he had a look of barely-concealed shock. No, it couldn't be…was this his plan all along…? Everything he had done, all the atrocities, had it been for this very moment?
"Stop him!" Lelouch shouted. The Knightmare Frames opened fire, and 'Zero' charged towards the throne, swerving this way and that with an agility that the original Zero did not possess. Jeremiah Gottwald, Royal Guard of the Emperor, tried to stop 'Zero', only to have himself used as a springboard that saw to 'Zero' landing a step away from Nunanlly, who laid chained before ramp that led up to Lelouch's throne. Nunnally herself was shocked. The question in her eyes was clear: who was this Zero? She knew her brother was Zero, and that there was no way he had the strength and agility that this false Zero possessed.
In that instant, everything fell into place. I remembered what Schneizel had said about Lelouch's penchant of taking all the burdens on himself, and the way Lelouch had acted in our time together. Though he would never tell me, I saw the entirety of Lelouch's grand scheme in that one instant, and how it would end. My heart broke. He told me, back then, to live. He would, with his own bloody hands, give me the future he would never live to see. He would take a world's worth of hate to his grave and leave a future open to all who would embrace it.
"Those movements…" Todou said, "Is that…?"
"No!" I shouted, stopping Todou from saying anything more, "That's Zero. That's the man who led us to victory, and will give the world back the freedom Lelouch has taken away!"
I saw the understanding dawn in Todou's eyes, and the unspoken oath in them. We would take this secret to our graves. We knew the face beneath the mask.
A mighty leap saw to 'Zero' landing before Lelouch. The latter whipped out a gun, which was knocked out of his hands by the sword that materialized in the hands of the latter's would-be assassin. 'Zero' leveled his sword, the tip aimed for the young Britannian Emperor's heart.
And I saw Lelouch smile. It was a smile that only those who have lived full lives would have. And it was one that would haunt me for years to come. I could not help but scream to 'Zero' to spare Lelouch, to subdue him so that he would face justice in a court of law. But no such thing would happen. I knew it. Lelouch knew it. And 'Zero' knew it. Suzaku, in the guise of 'Zero', had come to kill Lelouch, to bring the dream so many had fought and died to make real into reality, and to avenge Euphemia's death. The sword punched through Lelouch's slender body, erupting from his back, and staining his white-and-gold robes crimson. I heard the strangled cry of pain that erupted from Lelouch's lips, the sound hitting me with the force of a thousand swords.
I felt hot tears spill down my cheeks.
So, this is how it ends: chained to stakes and paraded before thousands as an example of what happens to those who dared to defy the rule of Britannia's Emperor. Like Karen, I had been captured and brought before Lelouch after the fall of the Himalaya base. The fortifications and defenses had been strong. The Britannian army had been bogged down for three weeks before Lelouch committed the Sword of Damocles, engaged in a pacification war in Europe, to the fray. Within moments, and after hundreds were killed, the remnants of the rebel army surrendered.
I remembered how he looked at me as his soldiers brought me before him, when he decreed the sentence of everyone who had dared to defy him: death by firing squad. I would, he said with particular relish, be among the first to die. I would have the honor of dying alongside the entire command echelon of the Black Knights, the military arm of the UFN. I saw the predatory, demonic gleam in Lelouch's amethyst eyes take on a sadistic hue as he ordered the troops that had been gathering the remnants of the army that had been the world's last hope for freedom to withdraw from their positions, before unleashing FLEIA upon his bewildered enemies. His laughter had been harsh, cruel and mocking, and I had cried not only for those that had died, but for what Lelouch had become. When I first met him as Zero, he had been the shining hope of not only Japan, but also of the countries that had been subjugated by Britannia.
Zero had been larger than life, the catalyst which led to a rebellion against the mightiest superpower on Earth. He had been its beating heart and mind, challenging the Empire's finest generals and strategists and cornering them each and every time with stratagems that were pure genius. I watched him, awed by this general whose genius had matched generals and Emperors of ages past. If he had striven to surpass them, he had. If he sought to forge a legacy to cast theirs in shadow, he was on his way of doing so. I had been captivated, enchanted by this hero of justice so worshipped by those who followed him.
I watched as he led Japan in a massive uprising that had left the occupying Britannian Army on its knees. We would have won, had Zero not suddenly disappeared. The rebellion, which had exploded into a conflagration in the aftermath of the massacre engineered by Princess Euphemia, was crushed when Britannian Army divisions arrived from their Pacific Headquarters and the mainland to reinforce their compatriots in Japan. I did not see Zero again for a year. When he reappeared, he led a rebellion far more widespread and audacious that the one he led before. The embers of rebellion flared anew, and the impossible dream of liberty once more became possible. Those events led to the restoration of Empress Tianzi as China's head of state and to the creation of the UFN.
And to the event that saw to Zero's identity being revealed and the atrocities he had committed. I remembered being thankful that I had been sitting down as I listened to what Zero's inner circle told me prior to my meeting with Prince Schneizel himself. Zero's true identity was none other than one of Britannia's Princes: Lelouch Vi Britannia, eleventh Prince of Britannia and seventeenth in line to its throne. My – our – betrayal of Lelouch led to him taking the throne of Britannia, and to this moment, paraded down the streets as traitors after he gained control of the Sword of Damocles and made Schneizel swear fealty to him.
But, suddenly, when the convoy came to a halt, and I saw the reason why, I could not believe my eyes. Standing some distance from the leading Knightmare was Zero. My head, like Karen's whipped back to where Lelouch was sitting. He was still there! So, who in the name of the Amatsugami was this Zero? I watched in disbelief as he made a beeline towards Lelouch, making a mockery of the elite guards that protected him. The first bound saw him get past the line of Knightmares that had been firing at him; the second saw him use Jeremiad Gottwald as a springboard to land before Nunnally; the last saw him standing before Lelouch, who whipped out a gun from under his robes. Before he could aim it, 'Zero' slapped the gun out of his hands and leveled his crimson-bladed sword.
What happened next was etched into my memory forever after: Lelouch was smiling. He did not have the face of a man who was ready to die for his sins. Rather, it was like his dying…was the final part of a master plan. No…! It couldn't be! It couldn't be! Not like this! You planned this all along, you cruel, treacherous snake! Everything you had done ever since you gained control of the Sword of Damocles had been for this finale, and we, the ones who turned on you, are given the shameful honor of being closest to the moment that would history.
My eyes widened, even as tears threatened to spill. I saw Tianzi turn away from the corner of my eye, but I knew that to do so was to deny everything I had done. I had to see this to the end. And when it did, I felt my heart break. I heard the Nunnally screaming in anguish as she buried her face into her brother's bloody robes, and I heard a strangled sob from Karen's lips.
Today would be the last day, Lelouch Vi Britannia, I curse your name. I am Kaguya Sumeragi. I once told you long ago, when we first met, that I was your Goddess of Victory, and I so swear from this moment on that, for as long as I live, I will see your dream endure. And when I see you again, maybe I can win your heart from the crimson-haired captain of your Honor Guard and that green-haired, golden-eyed sorceress who were your constant shadows.
When I was young, my father had once told me stories of the generals of old, so that one day, like them, I would serve our country with fidelity and honor. He had been a common soldier once, a far cry from what, I, his son, would become. It was his hope and dream, he told me one starry night, for the Chinese Union to be greater and better than our dynastic empires of old. Until the day I met and pledged my life to a young girl-empress, I had known only despair. Power, wealth and privilege were in the hands of a select few, and these greedy men used our Empress to their own ends.
Until he came, the embodiment of those generals and emperors my father had hoped would one day come to rule our land. His had raised a revolt against the world's sole superpower, an act even the mighty E.U. dared not contemplate lest it lead to the destruction and subjugation of its member states by Britannia. Even my closest aides had been awestruck. Who was this young man, who would have the temerity to raise a fist against the Empire, and win? He had captured the hearts and minds of thousands across the world. There was none who had not heard of him. From Japan, to the Middle East, to Britannia itself, the name 'Zero' became synonymous with justice and freedom. It was a byword for impossible strategies and unbelievable victories.
It was a name whispered with reverence amongst the common people of the Chinese Union, when he set us free from the long and corrupt rule of the Eunuchs, and set about creating the UFN. I watched, amazed. The Chinese Union faded, and in its place, glorious, were the seeds of a unified Earth. I watched as member states of the E.U. leave its hegemony and join the UFN despite the efforts of its best politicians.
I bore witness to a new era…
One that came to an end, when Prince Schneizel, Crown Prince of the Empire of Britannia, revealed to us the true identity of the man I would have followed into Hell, and the atrocities he had committed in his rise to power. The horrific massacre at the inauguration of the SAZ was his doing; the deaths of many patriots and innocents – all of it had been his doing. It turned the Black Knights' entire command echelon on him. He would have perished, had it not been for the loyalty of his 'brother', Rolo.
When we saw him again, he had seized the throne of Britannia as its 99th Emperor, having slain his father, and used his powers to force his siblings to acknowledge him. And beside him, as he took the throne, and elevated to the rank of Knight of Zero, was Kururugi Suzaku – one of the most formidable adversaries I have ever had the honor of crossing swords with. I knew then, with him by Lelouch's side, that defeating Britannia was no easy task. Our strategos and leader was now Emperor of the mightiest nation on Earth, and he had the fighting skills of a young man easily the equal of both me and Todou put together to aid him. I watched as Emperor Lelouch demolished Britannia's social system and reduced the arrogant nobility of Britannia to obedient wretches loyal to his every command. I watched as countries dominated by Britannia for generations celebrate their independence as Lelouch withdrew his armies from their lands – but not before putting effective systems of governance before leaving.
I watched as he came before the UFN, asking that Britannia be admitted to its hegemony. And I watched as a peaceful gathering become the cornerstone of a new war – and one that set Emperor Lelouch against his brother, Prince Schneizel, and his younger sister, the crippled and blind, Nunnally. I fought in the desperate battles to defeat Lelouch, to preserve the free world. Outnumbered, with the odds against him, with his loyal and well-armed army of slaves, he won. He turned Schneizel to his cause with his Geass, and seized the Sword of Damocles. In the two months preceding that victory, the world shivered as the grip of Britannia's Demon King tightened. Any and all who opposed him soon find that death was a mercy. Old rivalries and feuds faded in the face of the threat the Demon King posed. The Middle East, an area that even Britannia had problems governing, soon faced the wrath of the Sword of Damocles. Jerusalem was annihilated, leaving its government and insurgent groups in the area with one of two choices – surrender to his rule, or die. Lelouch had not been stupid: those he captured, he turned to loyal slaves. And he turned thousands.
His mocking laughter had been beamed world-wide, the malice and cruelty of the Demon King a physical force. Even my homeland's first Emperor, Qin Shihuang, would tremble in the shadow of Britannia's Demon King.
But now, as I watched 'Zero' stand before the Demon King with his sword leveled, I began to realize something. Did Lelouch Vi Britannia – the man who led us as Zero – foresee this? Had his actions, all of them, when he took the throne of Britannia and control of the Sword of Damocles, led up to this? My heart sank as my father's face took shape in my mind as he told me the one attribute that divided heroes – true heroes – from pretenders: it was their ability to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders with pride and dignity, and though they may fail, they ask for nothing in return. I saw Lelouch smile.
I saw my young Empress turn her head away as she realized what was about to happen.
And I understood my error, even though it is too late for me to correct it. He had made it so that we, the ones who betrayed him, who had fought by his side for so long, would be the closest to witness a new era be born from his dying. A world's hatred and loathing would be his companions on his road to Hell. I clenched my jaw as Zero's sword punched through Lelouch's heart, as he collapsed and slid down the ramp that led to his throne, to rest before his younger sister, who was chained before it.
I saw her hold his hand, before she started crying in anguish, burying her face in her brother's bloody robes. I watched as the crowd cheered Zero's name over and over.
"Tell me, Xingke," my father's voice whispered in my mind, "what is the finest gift a hero can give to the people he serves?"
I knew the answer to that question, but only now, long after my father lies resting in his grave, do I know the gravity of it. And I felt ashamed.
The church I kneel in is a serene place, resplendent with quiet majesty that paid homage to an entity whose power extends and permeates every corner of Creation. No matter what they say about God, I know one truth about Him: He is flawed, no matter how perfect humanity may make Him out to be. But, for once in the centuries I have lived, I wanted to believe in Him. I prayed for Lelouch, for the ending I know would be inevitable. How far had we come together? Our first meeting in the Shinjuku ghetto two years ago had set in motion the frozen wheels of destiny. I had watched Lelouch turn a small terrorist group into an army capable of matching the might of Britannia. It was magnificent, the way the outcast son of Charles Vi Britannia, 98th Emperor of Britannia, would bestride the world. I had known many great men through the long centuries, but I have never met a colossus equal to the one Lelouch would become. I daresay that the legacy of the conquerors and kings of old has been overshadowed by the 'Demon King' of Britannia.
But, today, our journey together would come to an end. You will die, Lelouch, for the sake of that vision and for the world you have sacrificed so much to build, and I will be left alone till I, too, join you in Hell. Do not worry. You will not be alone forever. I am no longer immortal; when my time comes, I, too, will pay the ferryman for my trip across the Styx. The Reaper is patient; he acknowledges my presence and that I will come to him in time. He knows I will not cheat him a second time.
So, wait for me, my darling Lelouch.
Wait for all of us, who will strive to make the world you built with your final breath, endure.