~ Chapter Seven ~
Lelouch had never imagined that he would return to his home. Aries Palace certainly wasn't one of the items on his mind when he'd been taken back to Britannia. There had been a few changes but everything had pretty much remained the same. In fact it was a little daunting to know that he could still navigate the endless corridors with ease not that it showed upon his face. He didn't need to give his brother or sister anything that they could use against him. They'd already used the one thing that he loved the most and now… they had nothing.
"Lelouch, Nunnally…" Suzaku stuttered.
His entire small group was with him. They were given a small wing of the Aries Palace in which they could reside though a few of them had to share rooms to keep them all safe. No one really trusted a word that came out of Schneizel's mouth when it came to their safety. As it was, their Knightmare Frames had been put in a special bunker that was constantly watched. Luckily they still retained the keys and the codes for their individual Knightmares.
"Nunnally is dead, Suzaku."
The group turned away at that. Even though they didn't all have the closest connection to Lelouch and Nunnally they knew what it was like to lose someone that close to you. It was heartbreaking and could destroy the best of men. Lelouch was no different and yet everyone had their separate ways of dealing with it.
Suzaku startled. "You already know?"
Some people had been under the belief that Schneizel had faked the entire thing. That Nunnally hadn't been on board when Fleia went off. They were wrong. Schneizel had willingly sacrificed Nunnally exactly like Lelouch had done to Euphemia and it was still rather painful to hear even for Suzaku. He couldn't image what Lelouch was currently going through.
Lelouch nodded. How could he not know that his sister was dead? She was the reason that he had begun this entire venture. Without her to back his drive what was he meant to do? He may not have large group of followers any longer but the few that still remained counted on him. Yet his own thoughts still remained with Nunnally and the beauty in which she had always desired of the world.
"Lelouch, you know, you could forget about all of this. You could just let it all go. Nunnally wouldn't think any less of you." Suzaku commented lightly.
That was the thing. Lelouch didn't want to let it go. Even if Nunnally was no longer alive he wanted to give her the peaceful world she had envisioned. She wasn't the only one that deserved that. They all should have a chance to live a normal, war free life. The group had suffered so much under Charles rule that they needed to fight for something better since he was now gone.
The light shining within Lelouch's eyes immediately told them the truth. He wasn't about to give up even if everything looked rather dim. He was a leader and a strategist. This was nothing compared to where they were headed. They would create a large gathering and they would take down the system that remained from Charles.
"We'll need to gather everything we have. Every piece of information, every small item we can think of. Nothing should be left out if we are going to get through this."
"We'll be forced to remain here." C.C. commented.
"We sneak out then." Jeremiah replied. "I know the Palace well enough to make our escape route simple."
Lelouch nodded. They were going to get out of this. Schneizel may have believed they were pinned down but they would get back up.
"We are going to have to work on this for quite some time before this plan is perfected. Nothing can go wrong this time. Too much hangs in the balance for that to occur." Lelouch informed them all. "What I need to know, is are you all in? This will be the last time you can back out."
The group cast each other long glances each eyeing the other to see who would agree first. After all once they were in on this they wouldn't have anyone else to help them back out. This was a one for all and they would win with Lelouch on their side.
"You still have my wish to grant." C.C. said lazily from the couch.
She was lying there with a large pizza before her as usual. Just because she was within a Palace didn't mean she wasn't going to eat pizza. If anything it only gave her more of an excuse. It wasn't likely that the kitchens of Aries Palace were going to play gourmet for her again anytime soon.
"I'm with you brother," Was Rolo's simple reply.
He hadn't given up his position within Britannia just so he could fall out now and leave Lelouch alone. Even if they weren't truly related, he would fight with his brother to the end.
"You're my friend Lelouch and have been since the beginning of all this. We've been through a lot but we know where we are headed. I won't bow out now." Suzaku promised.
This war had taken so many things from them and they couldn't ever have them returned. He wasn't about to allow Lelouch to simply walk off within him. Not this time. Perhaps if he was there Lelouch wouldn't have to suffer as much, he wouldn't make needless mistakes. Instead he would just do what was right even if Suzaku had to guide him. He after all was the only thing that mattered to Suzaku anymore.
"I owe it to your mother to keep an eye on you. Unlike with her, I shall protect you to the best of my ability." Jeremiah swore.
That was one thing that always weighed Jeremiah down. He hadn't been able to protect Marianne when he was given the orders. Then when he believed he would inherit the same position with her children they were taken away as well though by different means. He wouldn't allow that to happen again. He wouldn't allow Lelouch to die on his watch.
"You are the only reason I managed to get off the island. The others would have long forgotten me so it is you that I shall lean on." Anya whispered.
No one else had cared about her. As soon as Marianne was out of her mind to everyone she became useless. She was just another body to be used. Lelouch however had saved her. Lelouch saw more than his mother's vessel so Anya would remain by his side.
With Kaguya it was an easy decision.
"Lelouch, like Suzaku I have known you for a while. Besides I'm not about to let my husband simply walk away from me."
It was said so innocently but everyone couldn't help but stare in disbelief. There was a highly unlikely possibility that Kaguya would end up marrying Lelouch. He just wasn't the type of man that would allow himself to be drawn into something like that. Kaguya was rather deluding herself but she seemed not to mind. The other females in the room however had rather nasty glares on their faces at her outburst. It certainly wasn't likely that she would marry Lelouch with them around.
"You perform miracles, Lelouch." Kallen began. "If anyone can level out the playing field then it would be you. You will bring peace to this world."
She knew it after seeing it happen so often. Lelouch could read people so easily and it had nothing to do with the orders he gave a person. No, Lelouch would make history in the coming years. He would be the man to change the world.
All Deithard had to do was tap his camera that was still rolling for his acceptance. There was no way he would miss something so epic. Lelouch, Zero, Prince of Britannia, he didn't care who this guy portrayed himself to be. He would be well known and he would change the world. Deithard would be there every step of the way filming his progress. There wouldn't be a moment that he would miss. The Man of Miracles that was what his documentary would be called.
"Very well." Lelouch accepted.
He was pleased that they had all decided to remain by his side. Having a few loyal followers was better than having a large group that he was uncertain about.
"We will need to see if anyone else will side with us in this. Though we are a tight group, we are small and we will need more than just us."
The group went into deep thought.
"Rakshata will side with us if simply to work on the Knightmare Frames." Kallen said.
That was certainly true. The Knightmare Frames they piloted were basically ones that Rakshata had aided in creating. She would certainly enjoy getting her hands back on them once again. Add that to the fact she would be able to also deal with the Lancelot and she was as good as theirs.
"However no one else from the original Black Knights can be trusted. They all sold me out to quickly once they believed to have all the information." Lelouch muttered.
It was different having others to bounce ideas from. In a way it was rather relaxing knowing that he didn't have to think of everything at once. These plans that they would create would be rather more sophisticated than his original plans because he would have information from every side and every angle. He wouldn't miss something this time with better reads from different people.
"The other Knights won't side with you either Lelouch especially since you killed the previous King." Suzaku informed him.
Indeed, that was rather unfortunate. He'd been hoping that at least some would see the damage that Charles had been doing to the world through his rule. They obviously hadn't since they were still on Britannia's side.
"We are of course forgetting the most important thing to include." Lelouch murmured.
"What is that?" Kallen asked.
"The assentation of the next Emperor," C.C. replied.
"Yes. Whoever the next Emperor of Britannia is will have the power to control everything. Though it might also yet be a Empress that rules his country."
The group sighed. There was a lot to take into consideration there. Anyone who took the thrown could be a possible enemy. They could also make a decision on what to do with them and it might not work out in their favour. Everything they had been working towards hinged on that one decision within Britannia.
"Who decides something like this?" Kallen asked.
Though she was half Britannian, she wasn't well versed in the ways of royal selection. All she knew was there were a lot of royal children in line for the thrown. Charles had made sure of that also taking into account the numerous ways in which he taught them. Every single child he had was different and none wanted to see the other on the thrown before them.
"Originally it would have been decided by Charles before his death. However since I believe he planned to live forever he never chose anyone. He may have moved around us like he was going to select someone but he would have just been enjoying as we tore each other apart. He truly cared little for his children."
C.C. intervened knowing what would occur next.
"If the Emperor dies before a successor can be chosen it is then generally up to his children to select the next monarch. Usually this is the eldest but I don't believe anyone will be choosing Odysseus as their Emperor."
"Why is that?" Deithard asked.
If anything that would make the most sense. The eldest should inherit the throne from the previous Emperor. Why wouldn't that happen in this situation?
"Odysseus wasn't raised in battle. He knows nothing of it and therefore would be useless in situations that require strategy." Lelouch explained. "No, the people and even the generals will want someone that is intelligent in both politics and warfare to lead the country after Charles. The best candidates, as such, would be Schneizel and Cornelia."
"Which one are we voting for?" Suzaku enquired.
"No one gets to vote. It will either be decided by Charles' generals or by the children of Charles. In this situation no one else matters." C.C. confirmed.
Everyone looked towards Lelouch. Out of all of them, he was the only one that could have a say in anything. However no one truly knew what would happen should a decision be made. What if they chose someone and all of their plans began falling apart? That couldn't happen so this would have to be done careful and with much consideration. Everything they needed, everything they desired, hung in the balance.
"What do we do?" Jeremiah asked.
"We should plan everything and not everything that can't be changed due to the change of leadership within Britannia. Once that is down all we really need to do is wait and see who will take the throne. From there we can move further into planning and once that is complete enact it." Lelouch suggested.
The group nodded, gathering together to hear everyone out.
"Britannia will soon be after Japan again. They won't allow them to believe that they will be alright now that they have their name returned. Britannia will attack and that will be our best shot at escape." Suzaku began.
"How so?" Deithard asked.
He needed as much information as he could get on this. The better explained the more he could put in his documentary.
"Schneizel won't want us there because of our past history. He'll keep us here with some rather slack excuse and expect us to obey. He won't believe that we would risk our lives to escape his hold. That surprise will give us a small time frame but large enough to make it out if we have everything planned."
"How do we know any of this won't be leaked to him?" Rolo asked shrewdly.
The others cast him wary glances. They wouldn't say it out loud but Rolo scared them knowing that he to, had a Geass that no one but Lelouch knew the mechanics of. Just being in the same room as him put a few of them on edge.
"This room used to be mine when I was a child. There was never anywhere to hide a bug and any informant will be killed regardless of their reasons. We can't afford to lose this now." Lelouch answered. "Is everyone satisfied with that?"
They all smiled or smirked at Lelouch. They were ready for this. Anything that came their way would be knocked down. They would be a new order and they would win this war.
"Right, so here is what we shall do…"
It was only a day later that Schneizel came to see them. To Lelouch he looked as pompous as ever with that boy following behind him and noting down everything. Kanon was his name, or so Lelouch recalled. He never really appeared to be important. However the way he moved around his brother was very telling.
"Lelouch, you are needed in a family meeting." Schneizel said.
Finally, he thought. Everyone was doing their own thing but had ceased to listen to their conversation. It wasn't very subtle but not everyone could be a master of deception like him.
"Oh? What would this glorious meeting be about then?" Lelouch returned.
"We need to decide who is to take our father's throne."
And so it began…
Mwahaha cliffhanger. They are really evil and I seem to get better at them. I should break that habit. Thank you all for reading.