This fic takes over from canon during the middle of the final episode of R2. As such, the epilogue never happened. The reason I used a lot of the canon dialogue (although I did make a number of my own changes/additions) in this chapter is to create a seamless transition through from canon to my plot. You can rest assured that the story will never follow canon again, because…well…after this chapter there will be no more canon left to follow!
Here is Phase One of Code Geass: The Game of Kings!
Britannian Holding Cells
"I don't believe it!" Tamaki screamed, slamming his elbow into the bulletproof glass wall which made up one side of the cell housing the Black Knights' core group; those who were closest to Lelouch. "He was supposed to be my best bud! Why, Zero?"
"It doesn't matter now." Kallen's voice was hollow and distant.
Tamaki looked up and glared at her piercingly. "Why doesn't it matter? What happened to 'Knights of Justice'? What happened to defending those without weapons?"
"It's over, Tamaki!" she snapped, eyes burning with rage. "It's over! Lelouch won…he used us…he used us all!"
"Don't get all high and mighty with me, Kallen! You fell for it too," he barked, emotions clouding his judgement as he tore into his distraught friend.
"Shut up…" Kallen murmured softly, gazing upwards at nothing as a tear made its way down her cheek. Hands shaking, she fidgeted with the material around her kneecaps.
"He destroyed us!"
"Stop it…" she repeated, speaking not to Tamaki but to the ceiling of the cell, Lelouch's arrogant smirk appearing for just a moment as if to taunt her.
"He fooled everyone! Even you…Q-1," Tamaki spat venomously at her, drawing gasps of shock from the other Black Knights sharing their cells; two of their elite had never turned on one another so maliciously.
A brutal blow to the jaw cut him off, dislocating it and forcing the back of his head to slam into the cell wall with a sickening crunch. Kallen rained blow after blow on him relentlessly, her hands still bound together by the metal casings which had been used to restrict them when they were captured.
Nobody moved to stop her, nor did they move to calm her down. Tears streaked down her face as she sobbed and continued to slam her bound fists into his face; his nose had long since been crushed and blood covered his unconscious features.
Finally she collapsed on his chest, coming to her senses and frantically attempting to wipe the blood off him. Her nails scratched her face as she panicked and reached up to haphazardly clear away her tears, Tamaki's blood becoming diluted by the clear liquid and joining it in streaming down her face.
Her comrades looked on despondently; if Kallen Kōzuki – ace pilot and Zero…no…Lelouch's right hand – had degenerated to such a state, then there truly was no hope for the rest of them. Ōgi in particular felt his heart clench at the sight.
'I couldn't protect her…I couldn't…forgive me, Naoto…'
The sound of footsteps approached and the group looked up as one, save for Kallen who was on her knees staring at her blood-soaked palms and shaking uncontrollably. The guard wore a black uniform which seemed to be in mockery of the Black Knights' outfits; a black, tinted visor covered his eyes.
"Nina Einstein?" he drawled, pausing in front of one of the nine cells and turning his head to peer in at them.
The green haired girl in the far cell squeaked in shock, attempting to hide behind Cécile; the guard had heard the noise and was approaching. She held her hands to her mouth and began to bite her fingernails while he fumbled with the keypad. The door swung open with a creak, admitting the guard into the small cell. He laid a hand on his pistol as a precaution in case any of the dozen prisoners attempted to attack him.
"Which one of you is Nina Einstein?"
Nina muffled another squeak with her hands as she tried desperately to make herself as small as possible, but the guard had already identified her from her fear.
"Come with me," he ordered roughly, gesturing towards the door. She shook visibly in fright as she stood up and hesitantly shuffled towards him, looking back over her shoulder for support from her fellow inmates. She got almost nothing other than the glares of disgust and hatred that she had been receiving during her stay, regardless of how hard she tried to convince herself that they weren't real. At least Cécile had given her a sympathetic smile as she stood.; both of them knew what was about to happen to her if the reason she had been requested was not pleasant.
It was FLEIJA.
She fell into step behind the guard as he re-secured the cell and led her down the corridors, trying desperately to understand what was going on. She had been the one to create FLEIJA. She had been the one to supply Schneizel El Britannia with a battery of nuclear warheads. There was no reason for anyone to want to save her, regardless of whether they supported Schneizel or Lelouch.
She clenched her fist. So many people had died because of her. It was the least she could do for them to accept her execution as atonement for her sins. But still there was something stopping her, something binding her to the world that she had yet to do before she could die peacefully.
Two Months Earlier
Nina walked side by side with Lelouch down the regal halls of the Avalon. She wore a rust-coloured jacket with a sleeveless white robe, falling just below her knees. Her dark green hair was held up with an elastic accessory, two locks framing her face at the front. Her jacket fell down to obscure the hem of her skirt, long black leggings reaching up to mid-thigh and completing her ensemble.
Lelouch conformed to the royal dress code required by his station as the Emperor, although his decision to forgo the commonly added cloak and magistrate's wig had not been a coincidence. Charles Di Britannia had died by his own efforts; the 98th Emperor of Britannia was the last person to have ever lived that Lelouch would willingly associate himself with.
'Perhaps that association would have contributed to the Zero Requiem,' he mused silently. His decision to remain visibly autonomous from his dead father remained unchanged.'It would have contributed, but I refuse to allow it…I can be selfish in some things, can't I?'
He was now garbed in a far more elaborate set of predominantly white clothes, completed by an ornate hat embedded with precious jewels.
The White King, indeed.
As Zero, he had been the Black King, reacting to the oppressive white offence. As Lelouch Vi Britannia, he would broadcast his part as the White King to the world, as Charles Di Britannia and Clovis La Britannia had before him. He would pave the way for Zero, the Black King, to destroy him; the world no longer needed Lelouch Vi Britannia.
His thoughts were broken by Nina.
He turned to look at her, recalling the reply he had crafted to her statement but neglected to offer. "Yes, I know. This is my personal wish. But…"
She looked straight at the ground with her head slightly lowered as she replied, the tension in her balled fists seeping away in nostalgia. "It's Lady Euphemia's wish too, isn't it?"
Lelouch paused, and his eyes glazed over and staring blankly at a spot on the wall directly ahead. She stopped alongside him and turned in his direction. His expression was pensive as she looked away again, a hand slowly making its way to her chest at the thought of the late Third Princess.
"That's why I have to do it."
She spun on her heel to face him, her expression serious. "But the final program won't be complete unless you input the environmental data. Take me with you."
His eyes focused once more as he turned to meet her gaze. The desire to prove herself…no…to atone, was clearly visible in her eyes. He knew because it was the same emotion he saw in Suzaku's eyes from time to time. He would not curse Nina as he had cursed Suzaku, though. Everyone had the right to decide whether they should live or die. He'd needed to keep Suzaku alive for the Zero Requiem; he wouldn't condemn Nina the same way he had condemned his best friend.
"You've done enough, Nina. I understand your true intent through these words of yours right now. Thank you for working with Zero…with me, Euphy's enemy."
His tone was soft, sad even, yet he left no room for argument. She breathed in deeply and closed her eyes for a moment, reopening them to once more meet Lelouch's gaze. In that moment he had attempted to absolve her. It was not the atonement she wished for, but he had told her that she was forgivable.
"I won't forgive Zero," she began slowly, forming her words carefully in her head as she spoke. "Probably never in my entire life. But apart from that, I believe I have to find my own answer. That's all."
Lelouch watched for a moment as she walked away resolutely. For a brief moment – unseen to Nina – his face glowed with a true smile.
Britannian Holding Cells
Nina Einstein had yet to find her answer. Almost immediately after Emperor Lelouch had taken over the world, she had been incarcerated with the Order of the Black Knights. She had spent a month in confinement with them; neither she nor Cécile had been well treated by the low-level grunts who had made up cell nine. Lloyd, Rakshata, Ōgi, Kallen and the others had been grouped together in the first three cells. Likely, they would be receiving the most public execution.
She had promised Lelouch…no…promised herself that she would find her own answer, although it wouldn't be through science this time. Science had crippled her, destroyed her morals until she had killed millions through her invention 'in the name of science.' If she ever survived this, she would escape the world of politics and war. Until she found her answer she would not seek the death she longed for.
She was drawn out of her musings as the guard stopped and turned to face her. She flinched and took a step backwards instinctively as he drew closer and reached towards her. He paused for a moment to regard her before he spoke.
"Hold out your hands."
Nina hesitantly lifted her arms up to his level, shaking visibly and barely holding in a whimper. Was she going to be executed early?
Plucking a key from his breast pocket, he gripped her manacles and inserted it, twisting until they fell open with an audible click. Nina made no show of surprise; if someone were to be executed off the record it was likely to be a brutal affair – entertainment for those who derive sick pleasure from such acts. She would hardly be required to be bound if that were to happen.
The guard clipped them shut once he had removed them, returning the key to his breast pocket and placing the restraining equipment in another pocket on the inside of his jacket.
"You are free to go."
Nina's eyes widened in shock and her jaw dropped open. Had he really said she was free to go? Was this some sort of sick joke? 'Let her get to the door of the building where a team of guards would escort her back to a cell?' Or were they going to say she had escaped so they could use it as an excuse to justify hunting her down and assassinating her? Regardless, she would be foolish not to take her chances.
"Wha…Free...Why?" she stuttered in disbelief.
The guard's stance remained completely neutral. "I'm just following orders. Nina Einstein, you are to be released, effective immediately."
Nina nodded resolutely, turning to move at a fast stride towards the exit. She wanted to leave the prison as soon as she possibly could, but didn't want to risk another guard seeing her running and assuming she was an escapee, an enquiry later finding out it was all a big misunderstanding and she was, in fact, due for execution.
As she rounded the corner he removed his visor for the first time, the glowing red tinge slowly fading from around his eyes.
The Emperor's Territory - Japan
Jeremiah Gottwald leant casually against the rail of his personal vehicle, travelling at the foot of Lelouch's own. The procession was artistically designed; two long carriers held the bound prisoners, facing each other as they slowly crawled along the road towards the execution point.
"Now behold. The fools who opposed Sir Lelouch are being transported to the execution spot."
Almost every one of Lelouch's once most trusted allies, and some who had always been his enemies, stood chained upon the them. Kallen, Tōdō, Kanon, Gino, Li Xingke and the Tianzi lined up on one; while Kaguya, Tamaki, Ōgi, Chiba and Anya were bound to the other. None of them made a sound, each holding their chin high in defiance. Tamaki's expression was completely apathetic, having been woken up a few hours earlier. Kallen's punches had damaged more than his face.
"In the great war, we paid a great price with the loss of the Imperial Capital, Pendragon,"
Behind him was Lelouch's float – the throne set atop an extravagantly detailed dais with a slanted floor bearing the Britannian flag.
"many soldiers, and Lord Kururugi Suzaku, the Knight of Zero."
At the base of the float sat Nunnally, chained to the surface yet clean and dressed in a way that she still looked dignified. Schneizel – chained heavily to a post – could not have the same thing said about him. The ornate robes he once wore as a Britannian prince had been disposed of, replaced with tattered grey rags which only reached halfway down his shin. Both of his eyes were marred with the red glow indicative of the effects of Geass.
The crowd was almost silent as they proceeded, family members and friends hastily silencing anyone who spoke out against Lelouch, fearing for their lives. Jeremiah smiled sadly, taking in the sight. It was good that the world hated Lelouch, yet he was the last person who deserved that hate.
'If only you all knew…'
Jeremiah clutched the rail firmly, his hand shaking slightly from the pressure. If everything went according to the plan, the world could be set upon the path to peace. If Suzaku couldn't carry it out, the world would descend into chaos. It was saddening that Lelouch would be known as a dictator for years to come, spoken of in malice and disgust. Jeremiah felt his resolve waver and gripped the rail harder; he had sworn his allegiance to Lelouch for all time and would follow his orders implicitly, even if it meant Lelouch's death.
"Now that the EU has signed the charter of the United Federation of Nations, our Sir Lelouch has finally achieved the great accomplishment of uniting the world."
Seated high up in the stands, Nina watched the procession in anxiety. Kallen and the rest of the administration of the United Federation of Nations were being prepared for execution. There would be no way to save any of them now; Lelouch was a genius of the highest calibre; it would take months of planning to even attempt to penetrate an operation he carried out himself.
Why had she been released? Had it been a sympathiser who had taken pity on her and arranged her discharge under the table? No…nobody in their right mind would have done something like that for the scientist who had created FLEIJA.
Even if they had wanted to spare some of Lelouch's victims, there were many who would have been seen to be more worthy of it than the architect of a nuclear warhead which had wiped out millions during the war. Rakshata Chawla, Lloyd Asplund, Cécile Croomy, Sumeragi Kaguya, Tianzi – the list went on. Every one of them deserved forgiveness, the closest thing to a crime between them likely being Lloyd's disposition to view his pilots as knightmare parts or Cécile's contributions to the field of cullinary evolution.
Nina could never say the same thing about herself. Even Lelouch didn't have as much blood on his hands. Why was it that the world hated Lelouch Vi Britannia, but wouldn't feel the same level of hatred for Nina Einstein? If all of the world's hatred was focussed on her, then she could find her answer in death. All hatred and malice would die with her, the world uniting to bring about her downfall. She would have her atonement.
She gasped softly and stared at Lelouch on his throne.
'It couldn't be…could it?'
The remaining free members of the Order of the Black Knights waited nervously in a high rise building overlooking the procession. They wore the standard uniforms of their organisation – black with silver trimmings – and a visor obscuring their faces. Hoods had been attached to the backs of their jackets for this operation to further mask their identities. The changes had been implemented for the sake of Cornelia and the remaining Glaston Knights; if she was serious about leading a rebellion against Lelouch Vi Britannia, then it was too early to allow her actions today to be associated with her.
A gasp from Villetta drew her attention. The dark-skinned woman's grip was fixed on the frame of the window as she watched the prisoners travel towards the execution grounds, her fingers trembling with exertion from the pressure.
A tear rolled down her cheek and fell towards the surface she had been leaning on, hitting the plastic curtain runner she had bent out of shape in her distress. She clenched her teeth and spun around, unable to endure the torment she felt as the father of her child was marched out to die. A hand on her shoulder stopped her.
"If you go out now, you're doing just what he expects." Cornelia's voice was cold and forced, but not unsympathetic.
Villetta spun around to face Cornelia. "But–"
Her argument was broken off by a gasp from the crowd.
Nina's mind was still buzzing with thoughts when she felt someone tap her on the shoulder. She spun around to see a teenager with dark hair, his face concealed by a blue baseball cap. He wore a light blue sweater, gathering around his neck and pooling loosely over the top of the long rust-coloured jacket he was wearing open at the front. His hands never left his pockets as she regarded him.
"Excuse me," she began nervously, faced with a complete stranger. With her reputation she would have to be constantly on guard; anyone she met could realistically be attempting to assassinate her. "Did you tap me on the shoulder?"
"Yes," he replied shortly, his eyes still firmly focussed on the ground in front of him.
He said nothing for a few moments as she waited for him to respond, hesitantly taking a step backwards in trepidation. Slowly he raised his head and tilted the rim of his cap upwards to look her in the eyes.
"You will rescue Schneizel and take him to safety during the confusion."
Nina's eyes clouded over for a moment, the haze quickly being replaced by a glowing red ring around her grey orbs.
"Of course. I understand."
He nodded silently in acknowledgement, pulling his cap back down over his face and turning to leave. When he was out of her sight, the rings around her eyes faded.
"Why did you–" she began, cutting herself off as she realised that the man she had been talking to had disappeared. Frantically, she spun around looking for any sign of him; he could be attempting to sneak up on her and kill her. Hearing a collective gasp from the crowd, she abandoned her search and returned her gaze to the demonstration.
The knightmares leading the prisoners and Lelouch drew to a stop, readying their weapons at the sound of a pilot's voice.
The crowd gasped at the sight of the masked Zero, leader of the Order of the Black Knights, standing defiantly against the Emperor in the centre of the road.
Nunnally's eyes opened wider than they ever had before, looking back and forward between Lelouch and Zero in shock. "Zero?"
Many of the Black Knights shared her sentiments, their necks snapping backwards and forwards between the two who they had once thought to be the same person. Confused murmurs ran through the crowd. What was Zero planning to do? How could he release the hostages without a knightmare?
Nina's hand flew to her chest, thinking her heart had stopped beating momentarily. How could Zero be there when Lelouch was too? Was Lelouch truly not the masked leader of the Order of the Black Knights? Had she hated him needlessly? Was he not the one who killed Euphemia? Or was he…
"Impossible!" Kallen screamed frantically, struggling with her bonds as she tried to understand the meaning behind Zero's appearance. "Lelouch's over there!"
For the briefest moment she thought she saw the ghost of a sad smile pass across his features. Everything clicked and she bit her lip to stop herself from crying. She squeezed her eyelids shut, stifling the tears before looking up at Lelouch once more, the Emperor having stood from his throne to face Zero.
"Don't tell me Lelouch was trying to…"
Jeremiah vaulted over the railing on his platform to face Zero, screaming at the knightmare pilots to stand down. He sprinted towards Suzaku – who had managed to dodge a few rounds of gunfire – and flicked his wrist, extending the golden spike hidden in his forearm.
"That movement…" Tōdō muttered under his breath. "Kururu…"
Jeremiah lunged at Zero, smirking slightly as he fell towards the ground, Zero having vaulted over him. He shut his eyes for a moment as his body hit the cold asphalt of the road below.
'Go forth, masked Knight…'
Moments later Zero stood before Lelouch, sword out and poised to attack. Lelouch's eyes betrayed his fear, authentic as it was. He would not rescind on the Zero Requiem. He would follow it through to the end.
Kallen fought against her bonds hopelessly, letting out a howl of anguish in her failure. Tears glistened in her eyes, breaking free of their restraints and streaming down her cheeks. She slammed the back of her head against the metal sheet she was tied to, bending it only slightly and allowing her blood to freely cascade down the back of her neck
Time seemed to grind to a halt as Zero thrust his sword towards Lelouch. To many of those who knew him, it was as if they could feel the blade piercing themselves. A collective breath was held by many others who knew him and the rest of the world – hoping against all hope that the tyrannical 99th Emperor would be brought to justice.
Zero brought his sword forward, thrusting it deep into Lelouch's ribcage. Lelouch had, at the last moment, moved into the blade to ensure the wound would be lethal; Suzaku had almost lost his resolve in the end.
"L-Lelouch" Suzaku stuttered, tears in his eyes as he held the handle of the sword which was impaled through the midsection of his best friend. He'd actually done it; the Zero Requiem was complete. Forever would he bear the guilt, the blood of the world's true saviour on his hands.
Lelouch fell forward to rest his chin on Suzaku's shoulder. "This is punishment for you too," he began softly, the crowd completely silent as they watched. Even if it had not been, neither would have noticed.
"You'll continue to wear the mask as the ally of justice. You can't continue living as Kururugi Suzaku." He stopped to draw in a shaky breath, just barely continuing to rest his chin on Suzaku's shoulder; his best friend's body racked by silent sobs.
"You'll give up everything for the world, including your own happiness, for all time."
Suzaku clenched his teeth, brow quivering in determination. "I accept that 'Geass.'"
Lelouch coughed, almost falling forwards before catching himself with a hand on Suzaku's shoulder.
"Why this, Lelouch?" he asked, more to himself than expecting an answer from his dying friend.
"One day, Suzaku" Lelouch began, stopping for a moment to draw in a strangled breath. "One day you will understand just why this was necessary…" He paused and looked up to fix his gaze on where he knew Suzaku's eyes were behind the mask of Zero.
"…One day you will truly understand the Zero Requiem."
Suzaku's eyes widened in horror. He gripped the edges of Lelouch's robe, pulling him so that they were face to face. To the crowd it seemed like Zero was checking if the Emperor was dead. Suzaku spoke softly, his voice strained with grief. "Truly understand…Why have I killed you, Lelouch? Tell me! Was it not for peace? What have you left me here to do?"
Lelouch didn't answer. He was already dead.
Suzaku stood up to his full height. Lelouch had given his life for…for something; not even his own torment would prevent him from playing the part his best friend had entrusted him with. Eyes shining with tears behind his mask, he withdrew the sword from Lelouch's body and dropped him, putting on a strong façade for his audience and flicking the blood off his blade.
Lelouch's body landed on the edge of the dais, sliding down the ramp to come to rest at Nunnally's feet, his descent leaving a thick trail of blood coating the Britannian flag on the platform.
"Onii-sama?" Nunnally began tentatively, still in shock from the situation as she reached out to touch his face. His skin was already cooling; if she looked, she knew she wouldn't find a pulse.
"The Damocles…" she continued shakily. "You knew its purpose…and that's why you wanted to destroy it. You've had this planned for so long, Lelouch, haven't you?" Her question was left unanswered, his eyes open yet unfocussed.
"I'm sorry, Onii-sama…I'm so sorry…" Her body shook as she gripped his body, tears flowing freely now. "…I…I called you a villain…I called you cruel…I called you a coward…" She screamed in phantom pain, feeling every time she had betrayed him as if it were the same stab to the chest Lelouch had received.
"You're anything but, Onii-sama…I love you…" she whispered quietly in his ear. "…and…thank you…for everything you've done for this world. I hope you can be happy…wherever you are…"
She reached across and planted a kiss on his cold forehead, her tears coating his peaceful face.
"Lelouch the villain has died!" announced a figure standing in the doorway of one of the buildings and wearing the uniform of the Order of the Black Knights. The voice was feminine, but her identity was obscured by the hood and mask. "Release the hostages!"
Twenty more of the Black Knights emptied out of the building behind her, racing towards the captives and occasionally firing a round into the air from their automatic rifles. Hundreds of civilians tore out of the stands and followed in their wake, leaping up onto the two largest vehicles and beginning to unbind their allies.
Yellow eyes met brown as Villetta jumped into his now unbound arms. Ōgi, still in shock, could do little more than pat her on the back awkwardly, his gaze never leaving the figure of Zero, standing unmoving on the royal dais.
Kallen was the last to be unbound, hissing and kicking at anyone who came anywhere near her to assist. Her eyes were swollen and bloodshot, tears cascading down her cheeks in a never-ending current.
'Why, Lelouch? Surely there was another way…You betrayed us, Lelouch…You betrayed me again!'
Finally Tamaki was able to fight past her defences and knock her out, allowing the rescue team to carry her away. The metal sheet behind her was completely drenched in blood from top to bottom; she had to have been in critical condition from blood loss. His own features were spotless, his face set in an emotionless mask.
Something had changed in Tamaki Shinichirō; he would never be quite the same again.
Cornelia surveyed the operation from her position still in the doorway to the building. Her brother was dead – her little brother Lelouch who Euphemia and herself would always play with as a child, the younger of the two loudly proclaiming that she was going to marry him before she knew any better. He had cast the world into anarchy and killed her little sister, but in the end he was still Lelouch. A single tear fell from her eye as she began to sob quietly to herself.
Through the chaos of victory, nobody noticed a dark green haired girl with red rings around her eyes quietly unchain Schneizel El Britannia and remove him from the area.
The man wearing the blue baseball cap walked slowly through the crowds hurrying in the opposite direction. They never seemed to notice him as he walked, keeping his head down and allowing the stream of people to subconsciously flow around him. Once the majority of the crowds had passed, he was joined by a woman wearing a grey jumper, the hood drawn up and over her head.
Neither of them looked at each other as they walked in silence, leaving the procession grounds and making their way slowly down a deserted road.
"Was that really necessary?" the woman asked, breaking the silence for the first time.
"Yes, it was," the man replied. "It was his time. Lelouch Vi Britannia had to die for me to carry out my plans."
She nodded resolutely, neither of them breaking stride or adjusting their body language to reveal they were even speaking at all.
They slowed to a halt as the man looked up from the ground, eyes staring off into the distance. "You did well…"
The woman silently looked up and pulled down her hood, a bright red, bird-shaped sigil fading from her left eye.