Code Geass: Lelouch's Gamble
Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass.
Chapter Four: Luck Throws a Curve Ball
Time passed since the Saitama incident and word of its outcome spread like wildfire.
Those Japanese that secretly, and some that not so secretly, opposed Britannia praised Zero for his courage and brilliance for saving so many people and whisking them out from under the military's nose. And Britannian military and nobles cursed Zero for his cowardice and his refusal to honor Cornelia by facing out in the open like a true warrior, where she would have crushed him.
Although the fiasco of a battle was on the minds of many it was not on the minds of all. The time was coming for the Annual Summit of the Sakuradite Producing Countries held at Lake Kawaguchi on Sunday. It was an important event because the talks would determine how the vital resource Sakuradite would be distributed around the world determining the balance of power between the nations.
Since Japan produced 70 percent of the world's sakuradite, it was the country where it was decided to host the summit.
Lake Kawaguchi where the summit was being held was a highly popular spot for Britannian tourists, however because of the summit security was tight and only a select few high paying clientele would be allowed to stay at the hotel during the summit. And as it happens Milly's grandfather was one those high-paying clientele, having obtained reservations for the student council.
However it wouldn't be a full student council party. When Suzaku and Rivals were told about it they both had to decline because they had to work and couldn't afford to take time off, Suzaku because he was in the military and Rivals because he was scared of his boss.
Lelouch and Kallen also declined using the excuse that Kallen wouldn't be able to handle such a trip very well because of her poor health and Lelouch was helping her study for her missed classes.
Of course while every official member had given their answer about going there was still the issue of the unofficial member. Which was why on the day before Milly could be found inside the clubhouse speaking with Lelouch on the issue.
"The answers no, Milly."
"Aw come on Lelouch," pleaded Milly, something she did very well when she did that cute little pout that made most men, and quite a few women for that matter, weak in the knees. "Nunnally spends all of her time here on campus, and most of that time in this very clubhouse. You at the very least get to travel around the Settlement on a regular basis. So why shouldn't she be allowed to go to Lake Kawaguchi?"
Most men would have caved once Milly started to pout but Lelouch was immune to it, at least somewhat. "Because it's too dangerous for Nunnally. And what if someone recognizes her?"
Seeing that the pout wasn't working Milly stopped it and used her default presidential mode. "You worry too much Lelouch. Do you really think that I would let Nunnally come to harm? Or that Shirley would?"
"As for someone recognizing her, most of the other guests will be too busy with the summit so we'll practically have the whole resort to ourselves. And you're the one who gambles with nobles and other wealthy people on a regular basis. They haven't recognized you even though you take their money so why should anyone recognize Nunnally who hasn't done anything to anyone?"
"No buts. She's like a caged bird here," said Milly putting on airs of sorrow. "Never allowed to stretch her wings and enjoy the sky. Just sitting on her perch singing her little song for the one that keeps her caged."
Milly knew she had Lelouch now. If Lelouch was made to believe that this trip would make Nunnally happy in any way, while her safety wasn't compromised, than he would ultimately give in and agree. Especially if it relieved any unhappiness he may have caused with his over protectiveness.
And her prediction proved accurate.
"Fine," he said in exasperation. "But I'm holding you to your promise to protect her," he said sternly. Lelouch then gave her a stern and dark look that would make anyone in his extended family proud from how intimidating it was. "If anything happens to her…" he let the threat hang.
"Nothing will happen I swear," said Milly hurriedly, her hands waving as if trying to brush off any concerns, and secretly covering her nervousness. They were both dominating people but Milly's dominance came from her upbeat attitude and overbearing personality. It was something she worked at. Lelouch on the other hand, when he wanted to, exuded dominance as naturally as he breathed and easily overpowered her own.
'Boy is Lulu scary when it comes to Nunnally's safety,' though Milly as she departed to get ready for the next day. 'Well that just means I have to make sure she stays safe. Besides, we're going to one of the most popular Britannian tourists spots with some of the best security in the country. What could go wrong?'
Once Milly had left Lelouch grabbed the newspaper to see what it said about the event at Lake Kawaguchi, and not for the first since he heard of it. Although the summit would have a huge impact on the world he had decided that there was nothing he could do about it that would further his goals. But it couldn't hurt to check again for anything he missed.
And thus preoccupied he didn't notice C.C. leaning against the doorframe.
"Are you sure that was a wise thing to do?" Her tone of voice was just a step away from being condescending, indicating that she didn't think too much of his actions. "It could jeopardize the truth of your whereabouts."
Lelouch didn't bother looking up from the paper as he responded. "Despite any possible impression I might have given otherwise, I do trust Milly's judgment and her ability to protect Nunnally. The Ashford's have looked out for us for many years and they would never risk exposing the fact that we are still alive."
"If you say so," said C.C. with a noncommittal shrug. "But I can't help but to wonder why they never did? Surely bringing a prince and princess back from the dead would have been enough to restore their nobility. Or are they really more loyal to your mother than the crown?"
That comment was enough to get Lelouch to turn away from the paper. "What are you saying witch?"
"Nothing really, but I suppose this will make things more convenient for your plans this weekend."
"That they will," said Lelouch as he turned back to his paper. "I have arranged everything for tomorrow. I don't suppose you're interested in observing?"
"Not really," stated C.C. as she finally left the door and made herself a cup of tea. "I may be your ally but that doesn't mean I have to aid you in everything. My interest is in keeping you alive and out of Britannian hands, which is why I helped you in Saitama."
"That's fine. I never intended for you to participate anyway. For the moment you will be an ace that I keep up my sleeve until I need it. Meaning that it's best for as few people to know of your existence as necessary."
C.C. smirked in an amused fashion as she sipped her tea. "Really, and just what would you do if I did intend to go?"
"I would have forced you to remain here," he said simply enough.
C.C. stopped smiling. "Do you really think you could keep me here against my will?"
Lelouch lowered his paper and met the witch's glare with his own imperious gaze. "Yes, I do believe I can."
The two stood there for and indefinable length of time, but was probably only a few seconds, when suddenly the doorbell rang.
C.C. broke her stare and smiled happily. "Oh good! That should be my pizza!" She immediately left the room, sashaying in her normal fashion.
Oddly enough Lelouch could have sworn that there was a bit more sway to her step than usual that caught his eye.
"I'll say this about Lelouch, he is far better at bluffing than you ever were," commented C.C. as she approached the door where the Pizza Hut delivery guy waited.
"This is so exciting!" Squealed Shirley as she viewed the rushing scenery through the train's window. "I've never been outside the Tokyo Settlement before!"
"I bet you wish Lelouch could have come with us don't you?" Asked Milly. The way she said it was innocent enough, she couldn't be her usual lewd self with Nunnally around, but that was enough to get the orange haired girl flustered. "Don't be shy. We can stay up all night talking about the boys we like from school."
"Then you should probably have a lot to talk about Miss President," deadpanned Shirley. Than a bit more hotly as she remembered who the fourth individual in the car was, "And should you even be saying this kind of stuff with Nunnally around?"
"She's a mature girl; she understands what we're talking about."
"That's not the point!"
"Really Shirley I don't mind," said Nunnally trying to calm the situation. "Milly is just the kind of person that enjoys talking about such things. And besides, it's not hard to tell that you like my brother."
"Eep!" squeaked Shirley as the object of her affection's sister stated the obvious.
At that moment the train entered a tunnel flushing the train in darkness, and Nina flinched, gripping her shirt with tight fists.
As the train's lights came on Milly placed a comforting hand atop of Nina's. "Don't worry Nina. Lake Kawaguchi is really popular among Britannian tourists so they have top notch security. It's nothing like the ghettos."
"Yes, but," the words were supposed to be comforting, but this was a very nerve racking trip for Nina. Like Shirley she had never left the settlement before, and unlike Shirley the fact that the Eleven to Britannian ratio dramatically increased was something that scared Nina.
"We'll be with you the whole time. We won't leave your side for a second." Milly spoke like a mother comforting a child and her words had a visible effect on the nervous Nina who let a small smile touch the corners of her mouth and uttered a small relieved thanks.
The train passed through the end of the tunnel revealing a magnificent vista of Mt Fuji and the surrounding countryside, much to Shirley's delight.
Back in the Tokyo Settlement Kallen and the rest of her rebel comrades were meeting at a location specified by Zero. The meeting location was to be their new hideout and what they found there was a large trailer truck. Opening the door to the trailer the group was surprised by the interior.
"What are you waiting for? Come in," beckoned Zero from where he sat on the sofa at the back of the trailer. "As of now this place will be our hideout."
"So," said Ohgi as he walked in, "you think joining up with us is a good idea?"
"Yes, we're comrades after all," answered Zero.
"Oh. So what is this?" asked Tamaki about the vehicle. It was something of a rhetorical question since what the vehicle appeared to be was obvious, but neither he nor any of the other rebels had seen anything like the truck.
"Do you mind if I asked how you came by this?" asked Ohgi.
"I acquired it from a rather libertine nobleman who indulges my requests," answered Zero, leaving out the fact that he had used Geass on the nobleman. A fact that only Kallen would know.
"You asked for it? Just like that?" said Ohgi in disbelief. He was also a little worried at having something like this being known by a Britannian nobleman who could use the knowledge against them.
"Don't worry, there are no strings attached," assured Zero.
Although the rebels had trouble imagining that such a thing could be given as a gift without any strings, especially by a Britannian, they were willing to trust Zero on this. With a sense of excitement the members began exploring the incredible mobile base.
"Check it out; it's even got a second story."
"One thing's for certain, the Britannians would never expect us to have something like this."
"It's even got a TV."
The wall mounted television was turned on, currently on the Hi-TV news channel.
"How do things look on the scene?" asked the anchorman to the reporter in the field.
"I'm here at the Lake Kawaguchi Convention Center Hotel where the hotel-jackers have identified themselves as the Japan liberation Front."
That announcement caught the attention of everyone else in the truck. "What was that?"
"Members of the Sakuradite Allocation Committee, most notably Chairman James, were taken hostage along with several tourists and hotel employees." The picture than changed to an image of a hotel supply room where the hostages were being held, forced on their knees with their hands behind their heads. "This footage was taken by the perpetrators. In it you can clearly see the hostages including Chairman James as well as some students."
When Kallen saw the image she was shocked to see the members of the student council among the hostages. 'Wait, wasn't Nunnally supposed to be with them.' Her eyes glanced over at Zero, but it was nearly impossible to tell was Lelouch was thinking beneath the mask. Quickly Kallen scanned through the rows of hostages, but she couldn't see a hint of the blind little girl. 'Is she safe? She wasn't recognized was she?'
"The leader of the group claims to be Lt. Col. Kusakabe of the now defunct Japanese military."
"I'm Kusakabe of the Japan Liberation Front," stated the lieutenant colonel to his hostages. "This stand we're taking is for Japan and the freedom of our countrymen. Even though you are not soldiers you are still Britannians. You are the ones who rule and oppress us. Sit still, be quiet, and you'll be fine. If you don't…" The colonel let the threat hang to let the hostages' imagination run free. Having delivered his warning to the hostages the man turned to leave them in the care of their guards.
But before he could get anyway, Milly shouted from the floor where she was holding Nina. "Wait! What did you do with Nunnally!"
The guards raised their guns, knowing what to do if any of the hostages made a fuss, but Kusakabe waved them down. "You were the one watching over that little blind girl in the wheelchair?" He asked rhetorically. "You don't need to worry. Because of her 'situation' I decided it was best to keep her someplace safer where I could personally watch over her." The way Kusakabe said that and his smile of satisfaction told Milly that the man knew more than he was letting on. "Now you better heed my warning, because I won't be here to stop my men a second time."
The colonel left and Milly fell silent, berating herself in her mind of brining Nunnally, believing that she should have listened to Lelouch when he said it was too dangerous. However the most disheartening thing was the idea of what Lelouch would do to her if Nunnally got hurt. 'Lulu is going to kill me.'
Meanwhile in the back of the room, flanked by her bodyguards and hidden under her disguise, the mind of one Euphemia li Britannia was working over the information she just heard. 'A blind girl in a wheelchair named Nunnally? It couldn't be her. But what are the odds?'
"So they made their move," commented Tamaki idly as he and the others continued to watch the live coverage.
"Their easily the largest anti-Britannian group in Japan and now their prides hurt," said Ohgi doing his best to analyze the situation.
"You mean because of Zero?" It was true that Zero was now probably the most infamous man in the world, having achieved three nearly impossible feats in less than a month. And that was a far greater track record than what the JLF had achieved in 7 years of fighting Britannia, even counting Tohdoh's miracle.
Lelouch heard what the others were saying but only a tiny portion of his attention was focused on them. The majority of it was spent between watching the news coverage of the hostage situation.
It was fortunate that no one could see his face behind his mask, or else they would have seen Lelouch plagued by a look of panic. Being the protective brother that he is, Lelouch's first instinctual reaction was to charge down to Lake Kawaguchi and Geass anyone that got in his way.
'Calm Down!' Lelouch mentally shouted to himself. 'I need to compose myself or else I won't be able to help Nunnally or anyone else. Now think, they've already taken Milly and the others hostage so they must have Nunnally. So where is she and why isn't she with the others? It's most likely one of two outcomes, either they don't know who she is and are keeping her out of sight because her condition could garner too much sympathy for the hostages, even among the Japanese. Or they do know who she is and are keeping her as a hidden trump card. Either way she is safe from the JLF, for the moment. The real question now is what will Cornelia do?'
"All of the bridges leading to the hotel have been destroyed except for the main one." Said the Britannian officer as he outlined the situation for Princess Cornelia and General Darlton. "Our attempted approaches from the air and water have been unsuccessful. There is only one route left that allows us to develop a possible hostage rescue plan, the main utility tunnel running underneath the hotel. Basically we would go in through this route, destroy the foundation block and submerge the hotel. Since the tunnel was designed to be used for supply deliveries it should be able to handle our Sutherlands. Even if the enemy has taken precautions it should be no problem. They've been using substandard weaponry so we'll have no trouble evading them."
The plan was approved and before long three Sutherland Knightmare Frames were placed down in the tunnel, beginning the operation.
However the Britannians made the decision using faulty intelligence and underestimated the Japanese.
"Enemy detected." Alerted one of the pilots assigned to the new JLF weapon. "As we thought they're using the underground tunnel."
"Roger that," confirmed the copilot. "Raikou secondary startup. Both quad linkage legs locked. Super electromagnetic shrapnel cannon confirmed.
The three Sutherlands approached from down the tunnel, using their factspheres to gather data that told them that the Japanese possibly had anti-Knightmare rifles. As a precaution they spread to increase their evasion rate.
However it didn't do them any good as the Raikou fired a hyper-accelerated round. The shell of the projectile fell away unleashing the ball bearings contained within. The small round projectiles spread out, continuing to move at the hyper-accelerated rate, creating a hail of deadly shrapnel that ripped through the armored bodies of the Sutherlands.
Within the upper floor suite that they had taken as their command center the JLF soldiers cheered in jubilation at the successful field use of the new Raikou weapon, secure with the knowledge that there was now no means of approach that the Britannian army could take without risking the lives of the hostages.
"Ha! What do you think of that Britannian Pigs!" Gloated Kusakabe. The colonel than looked to his left where his very special guest sat. "No offence to present company of course princess."
Nunnally practically flinched at the address the colonel used. She was no longer afraid of the men that had taken her away from Milly and the others. She was at first during the general confusion and shock of her separation from the others, but Kusakabe had been quick to assure her that he had no intention of harming her because of her situation.
At the time the situation she thought he was referring to was her physical situation. Now she knew that's not what he meant and that he knew the truth about her. Or at least suspected.
And she had to attempt getting him to doubt whatever he knows. "Princess? I'm afraid you must have me confused me with someone else."
The girl tried her best, she truly did. But at heart she was a very honest person, a trait that people loved and considered adorable about her, and while she could omit truths she could never tell a convincing lie. Which is why Kusakabe could see right through her attempt.
"Your determination at continuing the charade is admirable, but it's pointless Nunnally vi Britannia. I have a very good memory for faces, and although I've seen you only once before at a party held shortly before the invasion, your uniqueness stuck out in my mind. There's no mistake as to your true identity."
Nunnally sighed and her body visibly sagged. Seven years of her brother's and the Ashford's hard work to keep the banished siblings was threatened
"I don't know why the royal family would keep the fact that you're alive hidden, and it doesn't matter," continued Kusakabe. "What does matter is that with you here I have a trump card to use against Cornelia."
In their new mobile headquarters the various resistance fighters were setting up shop, while Zero continued to watch the continual news coverage in his private office. The banished prince was tense beyond description, invisible thanks to his outfit. In his head he was going over the situation, adding any relevant information from the news as soon as he heard it.
'So far the JLF have only demanded the release of certain political prisoners with only the threat of killing the hostages they have. There's been no word that they have a member of the royal family, so Nunnally should still be safe and I can still rescue her. But we need to organize and it's too soon. We're not ready to deal with an operation like this. But we can't just sit here, knowing Cornelia she'll sacrifice the hostages.' Lelouch's eyes widened and his head perked up as a thought struck him. 'So why doesn't she make her move? Is it possible…?'
At that moment the office door opened and Kallen walked in. "Zero, what will happen to the hostages?" Her voice was filled with worry, and it was understandable. Despite how much she usually disliked Britannians she'll admit that she had grown fond of the members of the student council. She would also admit that she was the kind of person who preferred her fights to be head on against only those involved, and disliked the idea of hostages. Yes, she had aided in the stealing of poison gas, but the plan was to use it on a military target.
Zero muted the TV as he answered. "I'll admit to you Kallen that it's a bad situation. It won't be long before either side will consider the hostages expendable. Either the JLF will start killing hostages to show that they're serious. Or Cornelia will order her men to break in without regard if any of the hostages are killed in the process, after which the military will blame any deaths on the JLF."
Kallen grimaced at the thought of either even occurring.
"However," continued Zero, "I may have just figured out a way that will allow us to not only rescue the hostages but also show the world where we stand."
"Us? Wait, what do you mean where we stand?"
"Remember, we are not terrorists like Kusakabe, but right now that's how the world sees me and by extension anyone I am associated with. But our ways are not the ways of terrorists for we are fighting a war of revolution, even if the world does not yet know it. So we must show the world our intentions for the coming battles, and we shall do that tonight."
"I hope your right." Muttered Kallen.
Again the slightly ajar office door opened and this time Ohgi walked in carrying a box of uniforms he found. "Hey Zero, should I hand this out to everybody? I mean as far as gear goes it looks pretty hip, but we're just a resistance group so…" He couldn't get any further before Zero interrupted
"Wrong," said Zero as he fully turned his chair to face the former teacher. "We're not a resistance group. Is that clear?"
"Than what are we?" Asked Ohgi in confusion.
"What we are," said Zero standing up. "What we're trying to be, are Knights for Justice!"
Both Ohgi and Kallen left to inform the others that they would be taking part in a rescue operation of the hostages. Ohgi admittedly looked confused as to the purpose of such an operation. Kallen felt that she had a better idea of what Zero was achieving, though she wondered if he would attempt such a thing if his sister and their friends weren't involved.
Alone once more Lelouch was free to contemplate how to turn this idea of his into a workable plan. Actually most of it was already thought out such as how they would get in and how they would escape. There were a few minor details that needed to be worked out such as what he would do when he met with Kusakabe. Ultimately he knew he would Geass the man but the question was what he would order him to do.
No the one and only real problem was Nunnally.
First he had to get her out of there without her being seen. That was simple enough considering he intended to keep the eyes of the world focused on the debut of his new organization. However aside from himself, who had to remain to play his part in the spotlight, the only person amongst the Black Knights he could trust with this was Kallen and he couldn't risk her doing it since there was a strong possibility that Nunnally would figure out who it was. Nunnally would than link Kallen to the Black Knights and, most likely, by extension himself since they were each other's alibis.
It was a frustrating dilemma that Lelouch was beginning to suspect would drive him mad before they even got to the hotel. However there was a moment of distraction as his phone went off again. Expecting it to be Rivals again Lelouch was surprised when the caller ID read Sayako.
It was a surprise because although Sayako had a cell phone Lelouch had never known her to actually use it. Since this was a first he decided that it would be better to answer than ignore this call.
"Hello this is Lelouch."
"Master Lelouch, it's me Sayako."
"Sayako, I assume you're calling about the situation, and about Nunnally."
"Yes sir. I assumed that you would be making plans to rescue Nunnally, and I wish to be involved in them."
Lelouch's brain froze at that moment; just long enough to make the pause in his response seem suspicious. "What are you talking about Sayako? Yes I'm thinking about Nunnally but you know there's nothing I can do."
"Please master Lelouch, there is no need to attempt to deceive me. I am already aware of your identity as Zero, and am standing outside your door now."
"What?" Lelouch quickly went to the door, ensuring his mask was secure. Opening the door he found that his main, Sayako Shinozaki, was indeed standing there with her phone in her hand. However her outfit was unlike anything he had seen before. It was skin tight, with the torso and leggings being white in color while the arms and some parts around the waist were pink. She had her usual cap on her head, but the most dominant part of the outfit was a massive yellow scarf. "How…" began Lelouch, stunned that the woman who has served the Ashford family for years, and who served himself and his sister personally for almost seven years, had been able to sneak through the trailer's security and past all the people downstairs, especially in that outfit.
"Just like you, master Lelouch, I am much more than I appear," said the woman. Entering the cabin, and closing the door, she turned to Lelouch before bowing, placing one knee on the ground in a crouched position that would allow her to quickly and easily get back up. "I am Sayako Shinozaki, 37th successor of the Shinozaki School of martial arts."
Again Lelouch asked "How," she had known.
"On the day of the cat chase, as I was returning home with groceries, I spotted Arthur as it was wearing Zero's mask, your mask. Curious as to what was going on, I hid myself and followed. I saw how aggressively you chased the cat; physically exerting yourself more than I thought was possible." Although it wasn't meant as an insult, it felt that way to Lelouch. "I witnessed how you did everything in your power to prevent others from noticing what it was wearing. And I witnessed you using an ability no normal human possesses." Another nail in the coffin to Lelouch. Sayako seemed to be aware of all of his secrets.
Well most of them. She knew he was Zero, she was aware that he had Geass, though not the particulars, and she knew about C.C.'s existence. And yet, was she a danger?
"Why are you here, Sayako?" he asked.
"To offer my services in any way they may aid you, master Lelouch," answered the maid.
"And, just why would you choose to follow me?"
The maid smiled. "I have watched over you for many years, a time that I had known the secret of your lineage, Prince Lelouch vi Britannia." If Sayako could have seen Lelouch's face she would have known that he had turned paler than a ghost. "I have watched you grow from a child to a young man, and during those years I have learned of your innermost desire to create a peaceful world for Nunnally. Though your desire is not purely selfless, it is a noble goal and one that I wish see come to fruition."
'Heh, who would have thought there would be so many useful allies so close to me,' thought Lelouch, already knowing how to use Sayako to solve his dilemma. Knowing he could always use Geass on her, Lelouch was willing to trust the woman who had looked after him and Nunnally for so long, and willing to test her skills by trials of fire. Though he would openly admit that he loathed doing it when Nunnally's life was on the line, he had little choice in the matter.
This also presented an interesting situation, what could be considered a test of Lelouch's resolve. Including Sayako he now had three allies that knew his secret as Zero, two of whom were immune to his Geass. Would he be able to continue without using it on her?
But that was a question for another time. Currently he needed to focus on the here and now.
"Sayako, we are about to rescue the hostages," he said. "For this operation I need you to perform a special task."
Lelouch didn't even need to say what she was to do. "I am to ensure Nunnally's safety, swiftly escaping without notice once she is secured."
"Precisely," agreed Lelouch. "If she questions your presence, tell her what you must as long as you do not compromise my existence as Zero."
Beneath his mask, Lelouch smiled. "Now, it's time to begin."
In barely contained rage Princess Cornelia walked through the halls of her G-1 mobile base. Just behind her walked her two knights Darlton and Guilford, both of whom shared their Princess's sentiments on the matter at hand, but her containing their rage with varying degrees of greater success than she was.
The cause of rage in the three soldiers was how not five minutes ago, the JLF terrorists that controlled the hotel had just thrown a man off the roof, followed shortly by a video message saying that as a warning to how serious they were they would be killing one hostage every thirty minutes until their demands were met.
"They call this a warning? Barbarians!" declared Darlton.
"For now we could negotiate for the release of the women and children," suggested Guilford, the bespectacled knight currently the most cool and collected of the three.
"Forget it!" snarled Cornelia. "When you give in even once to their conditions, you are only legitimizing terrorism!"
"Then do we use force?" asked Darlton.
"We would pursue that course of action, but only after we have secured the safety of Princess Euphemia," explained Guilford.
Cornelia visibly tensed as Guilford spoke aloud the thought that had been running through her head ever since this nightmare started. Euphe was in there amongst the hostages, hidden because she had gone in to observe the summit in disguise. As long as she kept her head down she would be fine, until now. It was likely that the JLF would work through the men before getting to the women. That meant Cornelia still had a few hours before her sister was truly at risk.
Suddenly one of the bridge officers came running out of a side tunnel. "Viceroy! It's Zero! We just received a message from Zero!"
That stopped the three in their tracks in surprise.
Down by the shore of Lake Kawaguchi, a fair distance away from any of the bridges and military blockade, yet close by to where various news vans were parked as the majority of the media waited for a response from the on scene personnel they had sent to cover the story, Diethard Ried was fishing. Though the event being covered was exciting, there wasn't really anything for him to do. The live coverage was being broadcast only periodically by the station at which point the reporter was to report whatever had happened and describe what was currently happening, as long as the military allowed it. So with nothing better to do he brought out his fishing pole, being always prepared to do something to whittle away hours of boredom.
Well, with what he was just told, he could no longer say he was bored. "What do you mean truck 3 was stolen by Zero? What was Gibbson doing?"
"He said that by the time he realized what had happened it was too late."
Diethard sighed in exasperation. "Well where's van 3 now?"
"Driving straight towards the military."
That shocked Diethard.
High powered floodlights switched on, illuminating the approaching stolen news van, and revealing the masked man known as Zero. Sutherlands readied their weapons, prepared to open fire once they had the order. However, not seeing any immediate threat from the van, the commanding officers saw this as a golden opportunity to capture the murderer of Prince Clovis.
"Hold fire," ordered Darlton. "We'll capture him after he's surrounded."
Steadily the van approached the bridge, but its progress was halted as two RPI-209 Gloucesters and Cornelia's personal machine, an RPI-00/SC Gloucester, screeched to a halt between van and bridge.
'Coming out to face me personally, how predictable Cornelia,' thought Zero. 'I'm sure you're dying to pay me back for what I did to you at Saitama. But, I'm afraid I'm going to force you to delay that. And if you do as I predicted than I won't even have to use Geass.'
Cornelia emerged from the cockpit of her Gloucester, standing straight and tall yet still diminutive looking when compared to her large Knightmare Frame. "We finally meet, Zero." Zero had to applaud the princess, her poker face was perfect. "Are you a member of the Japan Liberation Front, or are you here to help us?" continued Cornelia. "Regardless our concerns take priority over yours at the moment."
'Oh Cornelia, if only you knew how close our priorities come.'
"And so for the death of my half-brother Clovis, I shall take my revenge right here," said Cornelia as she drew pistol-saber, the long barreled weapon aimed straight for Zero's chest.
"Cornelia," called Zero, "Which would you choose," for the first time a crack appeared in Cornelia's poker face, ever so slightly and her weapon holding arm lowered ever so slightly. "Clovis who is dead or Euphemia who is alive?"
That struck a nerve, shock opening displayed on Cornelia's face. And that was enough to confirm Zero's suspicions. Euphemia was inside the hotel and that was the only reason that Cornelia, ever the dotting sister, had not taken hostile action.
Cornelia trembled with suppressed rage as he continued. "I have the power to save Euphemia."
Taking control of herself, Cornelia yelled back, "What do you mean? I have no idea what you're talking about!"
"I said that I am able to rescue her!" declared Zero.
"Zero?" asked Kusakabe in surprise at the news he just received.
"Sir, word came from the Britannian army," explained the soldier.
The deal was struck. The Britannian army would allow Zero to negotiate with the Japan Liberation Front to release the hostages.
The Gloucesters moved aside and allowed the news van to pass. Now that the first stage was cleared, their opponents would be the Japan Liberation Front. There was little chance that the JLF would see Zero and his group as enemies after everything he's done. At best the JLF would see them as allies, at worst nuisances. Either way there was little doubt that Kusakabe would be able to resist meeting with the infamous Zero face to face. That was important for his plan, but there was another part of equal import.
"Sayako," he whispered into the short wave radio he was wearing under his helmet, "are you ready?"
'Good, all of the operation's preliminary conditions have been cleared. Now I just need to finish everything before Cornelia makes her move. I'm sure that she doesn't believe that I'll save Euphemia. It's likely that she intends for me to serve as a distraction to the JLF in order to buy time so she can carry out whatever operation she plans.'
High up in the hotel's storage room, Nina Einstein was close to having a nervous breakdown, Milly's comforting the only thing keeping the trembling xenophobic girl from breaking down into hysterics. Unfortunately that didn't mean that she could think straight. That's why when one of the guards took an oblivious step forward Nina did one of the stupidest things she could do. She uttered, in a quiet yet frightened and stutter ridden voice, "an Eleven." It was nothing more than a statement that verbally confirmed for her eyes that there was an Eleven standing but a few feet from her, and was holding an assault rifle.
Immediately the guard, who cared nothing for the existence of the hostages beyond the fact he had to make sure they stayed put, focused his attention on Nina, rage in his eyes. "What did you say!"
Nina cowered in Milly's arms.
"We're not Elevens!" The guard practically yelled as he pointed his rifle at the girl. "We're Japanese!"
"Yes, we understand that!" Milly practically yelled back, not the type to be intimidated by guns when her friends were in danger. "Just lay off of her!"
"Then correct her!" snarled the JLF member. "We're not called Elevens!"
This time it was Shirley's turn to snarl, "Fine, we'll correct her."
However her tone seemed more like she was being sarcastic. Which in turn enraged the guard more. In his rage he began pulling on the struggling Nina's arm, intent on taking her and her friends to be punished.
"Stop it!" cried a new girl that stood up from the crowd.
"Who the hell are you," asked the guard as he roughly shoved Nina away.
"I am Sub-Viceroy Euphemia li Britannia, Third Princess of the Britannian Empire, and I demand to speak with your leader." Said the princess, taking off her thick fake glasses so that they could clearly see her face, eliciting gasps from both the hostages and guards. She then turned her head to address Nina. "Have you been hurt young lady."
Armed guards escorted Zero up to a penthouse on one of the upper-level floors. There he was quickly searched for weapons, pointless as he carried none. When the door opened Lt Colonel Kusakabe was standing there himself.
"I welcome you Zero," said the JLF commander, with a flourish he gestured for Zero to come in.
"Greetings Lt Colonel Kusakabe," said Zero as he walked in, and immediately halted as he saw his target. Nunnally was there, up against the far wall from the window. There were no signs of mistreatment, though it was obvious to his eyes that she was afraid. He could also tell, that while her head was positioned so that if she could see her gaze would be focused on her lap, he knew that she was paying attention him. 'Nunnally,' it took everything he had not to Geass everyone in this room right now and get his sister out of there. But, for the sake of his goals, he had to stick to the plan.
"Why is there a child here?" he asked Kusakabe in seeming ignorance.
Kusakabe in turn grin as he came to stand beside the masked revolutionary. "This is no ordinary civilian. This girl-"
"Shouldn't be here," interrupted Zero. "Whoever this girl is, she shouldn't be listening to our discussion, it would make her a liability."
"Oh, yes of course," muttered Kusakabe as he considered what Zero said. If the princess became a liability he would have to kill her, which would ruin any plans to use her as a hostage. He motioned to two of the soldiers in the room. "Take the girl to the next room. Keep her comfortable until I summon for her."
The soldiers nodded in confirmation, one grabbing the room key while the other grabbed Nunnally's wheelchair and rolled her out of the room.
Beneath his mask Lelouch smirked. 'It's up to you now Sayako.' "Now than Lt Colonel, shall we discuss business?"
Euphemia walked through the halls of the hotel, two guards escorting her to where the man in charge had established his command center. Now that she had time to cool off, Euphe was nervous. She was putting her life on the line, something her sister Cornelia had done countless times on the battlefield. And now Euphemia was doing it for the first time, without any weapons and a prisoner to hostile terrorists. But just like her sister, Euphemia was resolved to see this through, for the sake of the hostages.
And, this would give her a chance to see the girl, the Nunnally that had been separated from the others before anyone realized that she was there. The girl that had a description eerily similar to her late sister.
Speaking of the girl, the armed escort turned a corner, just in time to see a soldier push a wheelchair into a room. Euphemia caught only a glimpse of the face of a young girl with long auburn locks, but it was enough. She stopped walking and called, "Nunnally."
Just before the girl completely disappeared Euphe saw her turn towards the source of her name, before disappearing from view.
"Keep moving," ordered one of the guards, pushing her slightly.
She stumbled slightly, regained her balance, gave her best glare to the guard (which wasn't very good), and continued. She had seen enough. She had seen a girl that was almost unmistakably her sister Nunnally, alive after years of being presumed dead. When this was over she would seek out Nunnally and already she had a starting point. Of course that was assuming that they all lived through this.
Finally her escorts brought her before a door guarded by two more soldiers. Saluting the guards the first escort said "We brought the hostage that I radioed to Lt Colonel Kusakaba about earlier. She claims to be Princess Euphemia."
Suddenly the sounds of gunshots came from inside the room.
Guns ready the guards opened the door. Another shot fired, hitting the first guard in the shoulder.
"Calm yourselves," said Zero who was completely calm himself. "The Colonel and the other committed suicide when they realized how meaningless this operation was." What Zero said appeared to be true. The soldiers all had gunshot wounds in the side of their neck and heads, and there was no possible way Zero could have shot them all at that angle from where he stood, nor could he likely do it without taking any injury. More importantly Kusakabe had stabbed himself with his own sword. Zero than turned his attention to the girl. "Euphemia, you were willing to sacrifice yourself to save the commoners. You haven't changed."
"You bastard," muttered the guard who was shot, raising his rifle with his uninjured arm.
"I wouldn't do that," warned Zero.
It immediately became apparent as rifles were cocked, drawing everyone's attention to Zero's compatriots, rifles aimed as the JLF soldiers.
"Euphemia, please come in so that we may talk. And close the door on your way in."
Knowing that she was in no position to argue, the princess complied, entering the room with Zero, closing the door behind her.
"I hear you've become the Sub-Viceroy, Princess Euphemia li Britannia." Said Zero conversationally.
"It's not exactly a position I'm happy with," responded Euphemia.
"No, I imagine that you wouldn't be, since you only came to the position because Clovis was murdered, by my hand. You know, to the very end he begged for his life. Pathetically pleading with the same tongue that ordered the death of countless Japanese."
The taunt did as it was intended and riled Euphemia, though she was too gentle to ever show it the same way as her full-sister. "Is that why you killed him?"
"Yes," answered Zero, "and no. There was another reason I killed him. Because Clovis was the child of the Britannian Emperor."
Euphemia's eyes widened in fear.
"That reminds me, you're one of his children too, aren't you?" Said Zero as he pulled out his gun again.
Euphemia took a step back. She clearly wanted to run, but she knew that she couldn't go anywhere.
"Then again," said Zero in thought as he pulled back his gun, "it is difficult to believe that you are truly related to that man, considering out you act completely against his ideals of Social Darwinism."
The princess breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that she would live to see another day.
"But be warned, I will be watching you and Princess Cornelia. Cornelia already has one strike against her for her willingness to sacrifice the people of the Saitama Ghetto to get to me. If either of you continue to act as Clovis did, with utter disregard to the lives of the Japanese, I will bring my judgment down on you." The threat was almost empty. Of his half-siblings Lelouch had been closest to Euphemia, and Cornelia by extension as she often insisted on watching over them as Lelouch, Euphe, and Nunnally played together. However if it came to it, Lelouch would be able to kill Cornelia. But Euphemia, who was so much like Nunnally, Lelouch could never kill her.
Suddenly the hotel shook. In confusion Zero looked out the window, knowing that it couldn't have been his explosives. And there, out in the air, he saw the white Knightmare that had almost ruined everything Shinjuku. 'But you didn't stop me then and you can't stop me now,' with that Zero pulled out a remote detonator and activated it.
Throughout the hotel a series of strategically placed blocks of C4 exploded, causing damage in just the right places for his plan to work. As the hotel shook even harder he turned and walked for the door. "Come Euphemia, it's time for the show."
"Yes, the big debut."
Chaos and panic were the current modus operandi for the Britannians observing the situation. None more distraught than the Princess Cornelia li Britannia and the Honorary Britannian Suzaku Kururugi, both having done their best to save those they cared about, yet in the end it was not enough.
The Hi-TV producer Diethard Ried was practically having a fit as he silently begged for Zero to make use of the cameras he stole. To give the world a show as he did during Kururugi's rescue.
And then it happened. As a large yacht and numerous life-rafts floated out from the mostly intact indoor boat dock a new signal came on, transmitted from a camera that had been from Hi-TV's number 3 news van. The image shown was Zero.
"My Dear Britannians," said Zero, "have no fear, all of the hostages from the hotel are here, safe and sound." The image shifted to a panning picture of all of the life boats that were filled with rescued hostages. "I, Zero, return them to you unharmed."
All over the Tokyo Settlement, people breathed sighs of relief, whether they actually had loved ones amongst the hostages or not. The only people who did not share that sentiment were the military. Right away they recognized that the rescued hostages were Zero's shields, for if the military were to attack him, the civilians would in turn become his hostages.
Lights came on that illuminated the yacht, revealing that Zero did not stand alone. To his left and right stood three individuals, with one standing further back to the left, for a total of 7. They wore black uniforms that were trimmed in silver, accompanied by black and silver caps and purple visors to hide their identities. The five men wore black pants while the two women wore black and silver skirts. The two men to the immediate right and left of Zero were bowed slightly with their arms held across their stomachs.
"People," called Zero to the masses, "fear us or rally behind us as you see fit. We are the Black Knights."
The irony was not lost on many people, the idea of a man that the Britannian government labeled as a terrorist calling himself a knight.
"We of the Black Knights stand beside all those with no weapons to wield. Regardless of whether they be Japanese or Britannians. The Japan Liberation Front cowardly took innocent Britannians civilians hostage, some of whom were mercilessly executed. It was a wanton and meaningless act, therefore they had been punished."
Within the base of operations for the Japan Liberation Front, Kyoshiro Tohdoh viewed Zero with new interest.
In his news van Diethard Ried was doing everything in his power to keep the broadcast running, even if it meant taking heat from his superiors.
"Just like former Viceroy Clovis was punished for ordering the slaughter of countless unharmed Japanese. I could not stand by and allow such cruelty to be carried out, and so I made him pay for his actions. I will not repudiate battle on a clear and level field. But nor will I allow a one-sided massacre of the weak by the strong. The only ones who should kill are those prepared to be killed! Wherever oppressors abuse their power by attacking those who are powerless, we shall appear again. No matter how mighty or formidable our foe may be."
'So this is what he meant by being Knights for Justice,' thought Kallen.
"Those of you with power, fear us," Zero flung one side of his cape back. "Those of you without it, rally behind us," he flung the other side back. "We, the Black Knights, are the ones who shall stand in judgment of this world!"
In the confusion of the former hostages coming onto land, and immediately being swarmed by various rescue personal and family members that had come once they heard about the hotel-jacking, the Black Knights slipped away. But that was a concern for the military.
For three students of Ashford Academy there were other worries. Namely, what had happened to their Junior student council member.
Milly and Shirley searched through the crowds, Nina sticking to Milly's side like glue, calling out for the younger girl, but it was to no avail. Nowhere amongst the released hostages was there a single person who was blind or in a wheelchair, much less both as well as being a 14-year old girl.
The three were about to go alert the authorities that someone was missing when Milly heard her name being called out. Looking to the source the three found Sayako standing at the edge of all of the hustle and bustle of the military next to a van.
"Sayako? What are you doing here?" questioned Milly as they got close.
"Your father sent me out to pick you up," answered the maid as she opened the door to the car, letting the three see the occupant already inside.
"Nunnally!" all three girls cried, glomping onto the girl.
"How did you get out?" asked Shirley.
"One of the Black Knights came and got me," answered Nunnally. "I just remember hearing something and then the men guarding me fell to the ground. They told me they were taking me someplace safe. I think it was a woman but they were using a voice scrambler. We left the hotel on a small boat, and after getting to land I heard Sayako's voice so the Black Knight took me to her."
"Thank you, Sayako," said Milly.
"It was nothing Miss Ashford. I am simply doing my duty," responded the maid as she climbed into the driver's seat. Starting the car she drove away from Lake Kawaguchi towards the Tokyo Settlement, where they would go straight to Ashford Academy, which was probably the safest place in the world at the moment.
Author's Note: How was that? I am a little iffy on the ending but at the time I am writing this it is late for me, I am tired, and I just want to post it.
As you can see this chapter was about Lady Luck throwing Lelouch some curveballs. In canon I could never understand why Euphemia never went looking for Lelouch, since she suspected his identity ever since first meeting Zero, so I gave her a stronger reason to actually search, and a lead.
I also brought in Sayako because a) I didn't want to use C.C., b) This gives me an avenue with which to put Lelouch and Kallen through the "training regime from hell," and c) Ninja-Maids are awesome.
Hope you Enjoyed it.
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