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Agent Orange Farms
The footage was coming live from Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Sendai and all along the coastline. He watched with growing disgust and anger. Everything had been reduced to rubble and ash. The collapsed corpses and impaled bodies.
"The dead are imagined to range between ninety to one hundred and thirty million," a newsman said green with sickness at the footage being shown. Mutilated bodies and broken survivors, eyes gaunt with sorrow and mouths closed in shock, flickered in great number on the television screen.
One of the corpses caused Lelouch to gag again as he recognized Sophie Wood, Shirley's roommate. Her body had been broken in two, her hand cradled softly against a photo of Shirley. Shirleys death passed through his mind again. Again, he vomited.
This is not war, Lelouch thought to himself, but wholesale annihilation.
Nothing he did could have ever compared to the massacre that Joshua had unleashed. Hellish was the only way to describe, there was nothing left of Japan. Broken and dead.
He imagined every World leader watching this cruel master, the people in the streets of London, Pendragon, Minsk, and Beijing. Silent and terrified. In a mere instant Joshua had wiped out an entire nation with weapons of unimaginable destruction.
Now they watched in horror as the Australians quickly descended upon the husk of the Japanese coast. The World was united, but in fear. The entire Japanese military, the UFN reinforcements, and even a large portion of the Chinese Federations military might, in mere seconds had been decimated. Nothing remained, but the tattered survivors.
"This cross…I cannot bear it any longer. I had hoped that the World would be able to handle that brat…no…he can't be called that any longer…he's a monster. What he's done…what he's perpetrated…it is the greatest crime ever committed…I could not have ever imagined that this would happen," Lelouch said, his eyes meeting with Jeremiah, Thomas, Hellen, and Gottfried.
"How would you have us act, my young Lord?" Jeremiah said, bowing his head slightly.
"Contact Suza- Zero. Have him come here and tell him it is urgent," Lelouch said, rising anger in his voice as he watched more and more of the dead appear. It would be impossible to reclaim the lives that had been lost, but this was not a quest for protecting, no this was vengeance.
Remains of Tokyo
"My Lord!" Kallen said, landing in Tokyo. No this wasn't Tokyo, this was a trick by the Australians. Yes it had to be a trick. Otherwise, everything had been in vain. All the fighting against Brittania, all the deaths, all the war, everything. Just useless.
Ashford...it had been wiped out nearly clean off the map.
"Kallen, we have to get out of here. The Australians are right behind us," one of the Black Knights said, before speeding away in an Akatsuki. The remains of the UFN were being directed to Yamaguchi, transports had been sent from the Chinese Federation to transition the forces back to China.
Yet, many of the surviving Japanese forces found it impossible to leave the destruction of Tokyo. Survivors of the Nuclear Bombs and FLEIJA were buried deep in bowels of the ruins.
"KALLEN WE HAVE TO GO," Chiba shouted, she was still in the hand of the Guren with Tohdoh, having been rescued by Kallen before the retreat from their assault on the Australians flagship.
"No…what about My MOTHER! What about Rivalz! What about Milly!" Kallen said, throwing her knightmare towards the School.
"They have to be alright! MOM! Why! Why!" she shouted, tears falling from her face. She couldn't help it, she had lost everything. Her brother, her mother, even her friends. All of it was gone and she just couldn't cope with that.
She had fought for her brothers sake to liberate Japan. She had killed so many people and watched so many die. She had betrayed someone who she loved deeply, who gave her the chance to have a normal life. She had watched with sorrow his death. And now, that new life was gone. All of this was for not.
There was no reason to fight anymore, no one to protect, no reason to live. Her hand fell to the Yggdrasil Drive enabler, turning it off. The Guren grunted in response, before powering down. Kallen slipped out from the cockpit, Chiba and Tohdoh still shouting after her.
She paid them no mind, she had already abandoned the will to live. As she walked amongst the ruins of the city she had once fought for. There was nothing left, but ash and corpses. Hands stuck out from under crumpled buildings and grey rubble. Most remained still, but others moved with faint life.
Overhead, several fighter jets and Shermans flew by, dropping bombs or engaging with damaged knightmares or those who had chosen to remain. It did little to Kallen, as she walked down the ruins of the street that had formally led to Ashford.
"Hey, Lelouch. The World has devolved into mindless death. War and fighting have again become the largest concern. The effort made to help one another has been abandoned. Hatred and evil has returned in the form that demon Joshua. Past, present, and future, its all blended together. I know you're probably looking in horror down upon us…but even so…" she ran her hand through her hair and laughed at the irony.
"But even so…I still love you."
She sighed, she had finally said it aloud without shame or discomfort. It brought back the fleeting sanity she had been losing.
Someone had called her name, someone in front of her. Immediately, she spotted him. A smile of relief, as the blue hair boy ran closer.
"Rivalz, I'm glad you made it," she said returning the boys smile with her own. Rivalz bent to his knees and squatted. Burn marks lined his face and back.
"Yeah, I'm glad you made it to. We've been looking for other…survivors…" Rivalz said, pausing a moment as the true meaning of the word survivor fell on him.
"We?" Kallen responded, looking around.
"Milly and I," he said.
"Kallen," it was the voice of Milly alright, as she moved away from one of the collapsed walls. She had blended it quite well, covered in dust so that even her hair had been powdered grey. "It's good to see that your still here. I thought you were on the frontlines."
Milly was so quiet, her voice barely above a whisper. She sounded exhausted and any energy had been drained out of her from all the death and destruction she had witnessed. Yet, even so a small smile flickered across her face as her eyes met with Kallen.
"This is all that's left of our student council…Lelouch…Suzaku…Shirley. I wish we could be together just one last time," she said, before moving away from the group.
"Just one last time…"
Vermillion Forbidden City, Chinese Federation
"We have an Australian transport helicopter with two Sherman knightmares approaching. They say that they have the UFN Chairman on board."
"Why would they return such a valuable hostage?" she said aloud, pondering it in her mind for a second, before hitting the table. " It's a trap. They're using it to move FLEIJA in. Shoot it down," Zhou Xianglin said, screaming frantically as she watched the helicopter and its escorts with fear.
"No! Let them land."
"My Empress!..." she paused only for a second, before realizing what she had exclaimed.
"Yes my Empress," she said, she immediately felt uneasy letting the Australians get in this close. Especially after the most horrific act of inhumanity they had just committed.
While the footage from Japan had been shut off, much of the morale of the Chinese in the command room had been sapped as they watched scene after scene of human loss.
Even Zhou had found herself haunted by the face of that boy:
He had been a survivor of the nuking of Tokyo, but his mother had not made it. He was young, probably five or six years old. He was just standing over her corpse, he kept poking it with his finger.
"Mommy…come on mommy…wake up. Sister will be worried if we don't come back soon. Come on mommy. Don't sleep. Wake up mom."
Zhou had immediately felt sick, yet the camera kept rolling. It stood solidly on the boy, the cameraman long since succumbing to the insanity and fleeing somewhere.
She could never allow something like this to happen to her homeland, it was unthinkable. Even so she couldn't refuse a direct order from her Empress.
"My Empress," she said turning to face where Tianzi had been sitting, only to realize that the girl had gone running toward the landing zone.
"NO!" she shouted, chasing after her.
Both had come to a stop, the Chinese Palace Guards had surrounded the helicopter and the Australian helicopters. All of them had stood horrified, it was unmistakable, it was a FLEIJA bomb.
"My Empress we must go to the bomb shelter," Zhou said, going for Tianzi's hand, only to be shaken off.
"This is merely insurance that you don't shoot us when we try to leave," one of the Australians said, before making a gesture beckoning his compatriots from out of the helicopter.
It only took a second for Tianzi to spot her, Lady Kaguya, before running forward. Kaguya was in a stretcher and still covered in medical gear. Her condition still extremely serious.
"You bastards! What did you do to her?" Zhou said, pushing through the guards.
"We are not permitted to say. His Emperor has given us explicit orders to hand her over to you, inform you of her medical condition, recommended treatment, and current progress, before we leave. She has experienced an incision wound across her abdomen, which has punctured through her intestines, inducing sepsis. She went through surgery to close the puncture and we gave her dopamine, steroids, and antibiotics to fight the sepsis. She's in stable condition, however she shouldn't be moved.
His Lord Emperor, also has extended his protection around the Palace. As you may know we plan on invading the Chinese Federation, however the Palace will not come under attack," the Australian said, before backing up several steps to avoid Tianzi.
"How thoughtful. Tell your warmongering 'Emperor' that we'll return the favor when we execute him quickly," Zhou said, glaring at the Australian, her hand on her holster ready to shoot him if he even looked at Tianzi.
"I am not authorized to tell you that we will wipe the Chinese Federation in one fell blow. This has not been permitted. Now, we will be taking our leave. The FLEIJA warhead is active, any attempt to shoot us down will activate it," the Australian man added before turning around and boarding the helicopter.
"Those fucking Australians…" Zhou said, before looking down at Tianzi, whose eyes were tearing up for her friend.
"Get the doctors and have her Lady moved to the medical wing," Zhou said, placing her hand on Tianzi's back and rubbing it to comfort her.
Kaguya stirred from her slumber, her eyes weakly opening for only a moment. She was almost asleep, just maybe responding to a dream or memory.
"Josh, don't cry. Your dad was a good man, but you'll be a great Emperor now. I'm sure you'll protect the World," she said, her voice a weak whisper.
"Brother…General Doyle is dead," came the sad voice of his close friend and confidante, Tanya. Rather then Emperor, Lord, or Master, she had come to use the more affectionate term Brother.
They had been friends for so long, it was impossible to think of a time in his childhood when that scarlet haired girl wasn't with him. She was one of the last of the Wilshire Noble Family, a large family of about one and fifty members who had supported and fought ferociously to keep Joshua father on the Throne and unite Australia. In recognition of this, he had made the Wilshire family Protector-Supreme of the Royal Family, putting his young son under their care and protection. It also afforded the Wilshire family a direct ascendancy to the Throne, though the family itself had always been loyal to the Emperor. Now though, the ravages of war had reduced the family to less than fifteen members. Tanya's father, head of the house, had recently passed away. The title had now been bestowed on the seventeen year old in recognition of not only her lineage, but of her skill as a knightmare pilot and her position as personal protector of the Emperor.
"That is fine. Doyle has served as a true hero and will be missed," Josh said almost generically, without any real care behind the words.
"Are you okay little brother? If you need to talk, I will be right here," the teen said, looking at the boy who seemingly didn't even recognize the name of the man who had stood by his side for the past four years. The fire in his eyes had dulled considerably, he seemed solemn and sullen. The anger had been extinguished, put out by grief.
Tanya herself believed the explanation for his sudden change had been the footage of the destruction of the several cities. She herself couldn't believe the massacre that had been unleashed, even though she understood they were the enemy, she still felt sympathy towards them. Yet, war was savage, brutal, and horrific. She knew that, the world knew that. She recognized or at least thought she recognized the reason that the boy she had spent so many years with would enact such a terrible campaign on them.
It was simple, he had wiped out so many, so that he could save so many more people's lives. She felt deep in his heart that he wanted a quick and clean end to this war, with nations surrendering rather than fighting. She still believed that she could read that brown haired, moppy headed boy, with those baby blue eyes of his.
"I'm fine," the young Emperor said, before turning around and leaving the bridge of the ship.
Probably to go sulk in his room, Tanya quickly thought, bringing a frown to her soft, peach colored skin.
Yet, even with her confidence that she knew exactly what her younger brother was thinking, she truly had no idea.
As Joshua entered his room, filled with objects of interest and achievement, he glared angrily at the sandy blond E2.
"Don't give me that sour look, I'm not the one who just annihilated half a nation or was that hurting that girl?" she said snidely, walking over to the fourteen year old monarch.
"I couldn't care less about that, right now we're moving too slowly. We should have already been in China an hour ago. This strategy relies on speed, rapid mobility, and surprise. That's why the Sherman model was constructed, for speed. That's why The Markings contains overwhelming firepower. That's why I gave them an ultimatum, so they could gather all their forces. Even now though, the enemy we face is made up of Europeans, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Africans and Middle Easterners. Do you understand what nation is missing?" the Emperor said, a worried tone could be heard in the back of his voice.
"Well the Brittanians, I suppose," Elizabeta said, looking at the boy for a moment, before she connected the dots.
"Exactly, the fact of the matter is that Brittania can match our forces. That wouldn't matter if we wiped their offensive force out with the rest of the UFN, that's massed unit battle. Our tactics and speed would easily cut through them. The Sherman is a team based knightmare, however individually it would never be able to outfight the Brittanian knightmare. However, standard Brittanian tactics are much easier to handle, especially as the number of knightmares present increases.
Instead of having individual units perform against the enemy, they move them into massive blocks of units. Evidence of that is in the Second Battle of Tokyo. That works fine, the long range ability of The Markings as well as the Ashlands can decimate enemy knightmares in an instant. Close combat is where the Sherman succeeds and midrange combat is handled by the custom knightmares.
Brittania has its focus on short to midrange combat. Hence why our standard battle unit is one Ashland to every five Shermans. Every squad is made up of eight standard battle units plus one custom knightmare, usually from the Death Guard branch. Every battalion contains ten squads plus a battleship, and a division contains six battalions. Eight divisions into a corps. Six corps into an army. Every army led by a General and an elite battle legion."
"Yes, I see. Speaking of Generals though, didn't you lose your friend Doyle?" E2 said, trying to get a rise out of him.
"Friend, no. He was a subordinate, he was weak and let himself get killed. I have no tolerance for weaklings," Josh said, his voice bitter. It was true, he couldn't care less about Doyle now. The man had failed completely.
"Then aren't you going to replace him with somebody new? Ooooh you should let me pick," she said excitedly.
"Go ahead and pick anyone from his elite battle legion, they're all pretty good warriors," the Emperor said, waving his hand away in a sweeping motion.
He watched as she left, he moved quickly locking the door. In truth, he had was hiding something from everybody and it was about to come out. He himself didn't know the cause of it, but he could feel it rising from the surface. Every now and then something inside him struggled, his muscles would spasm and he'd lose consciousness.
It had started only a few hours after his Father had been assassinated, he himself thought he had been shaking in terror and grief, yet that had been so many years ago. He now assumed it was some sort of tumor, probably pressed against the muscle control center in his brain. He assumed he most likely had been running on borrowed time and had been his primary reason for starting the current campaign.
Josh began to grimace and his muscles began to shake, he was beginning to lose feeling in his legs. As he trudged over to his bed, he began fighting the impending feeling. It was like wave after wave of electricity hitting him. His body began to shake like a tremor, he could feel his muscles tense and relax. Only to become tense again and hurt. He was in terrible pain.
Then slowly his eyes began to fill with blackness as he felt himself drifting into darkness.
He woke up almost two hours later, covered in sweat from head to toe. His heart was beating rapidly and he felt completely numb. His vision was blurred and his hearing was muffled, it felt like he was in a strange world.
As he pushed himself out of bed, he heard a knock on the door. The young Emperor took the few steps to the door and pressed the open button. Immediately, it slid open revealing Elizabeta and a tall brown- haired teen.
"My Emperor!" the teen said falling to his knee.
"Who are you?" Josh responded bluntly, before looking towards Elizabeta.
"He's your new General. Aramis Vasilios," Elizabeta said, pointing towards the teenager.
"He's a bit young," he said, looking at the man, who still hadn't risen from his position.
"Yes, well he's known as Aramis The Bloody. He's worked as a mercenary for the Brittanians in Area 18 against the Middle East Federation and then later against South American Rebels," Elizabeta said, pride in her voice at picking such a high quality and ambitious man.
"Very well. Rise Aramis. You are now my General, the duties of this great nation and of my expectations now rest on your shoulders. Do what you see fit to protect the Empire and the Royal family even if it means your own end. Do you accept this?" Josh said, almost mechanically.
"YES! MY! LORD!" Aramis responded, a crooked smile appearing on his face, as a few other soldiers had stopped by the open doors of the Emperors chamber to watch.
"Then you are now General Aramis, I bestow upon you this rank patch," the Emperor said, pulling a small vestment from an interior pocket and pinning it on the man's jacket.
"Do not disappoint me," he said to Aramis quietly, breaking from the traditional ceremony. There were claps from some of the gathering audience, which caused Aramis to smile even wider, yet the Emperor was distant and quickly walked past Elizabeta and Aramis, instead heading to the cafeteria for some food.