Chapter 15: Reflections

Date: September 30, 2020 a.t.b.

-I-

The sun was shining. Birds were singing, and the weather was perfectly cool. It was such a peaceful day. It could have fooled anyone out of the current dangers of the world.

Suzaku Zero was not one of these people. Suzaku lay on the ground, at the foot of the glimmering lake. All around him were beautiful pink and white flowers. Despite the fact that it was not yet spring, the flowers were blooming into perfection. For all anyone knew, it could have been a phenomenon.

Suzaku took a deep breath. It was hard to breathe wearing that stuffy Zero helmet all day. But Suzaku put up with it. It was not yet time to show the unmasked face.

The unmasked face. Lelouch. Depression. These were the daily parts of Suzaku Zero's life. Nowadays, it was hard to think about anything else. Suzaku felt trapped in the doldrums of life, trapped in a pit of malaise.

Suzaku sat up. He sighed as he looked at the world through the eyes of the Zero mask. The Zero mask gave him vision, vision that made the world look scientific and artificial. Suzaku could not even see the beauty of the garden he was in.

Suzaku shifted around, and felt something jabbing him in his thigh. He brought his hand to his side pocket, and felt a gun. He took it out and looked at it. It was a purple .38 Britannian Special. Suzaku peered into the the hole of the gun. He swore that he could see light within the instrument of death.

Suzaku took another deep breath. Slowly but surely, he brought the gun to his head.

"Suzaku! Live!"

Suzaku let out a scream of pain. His index finger slipped out of the trigger on the gun as his entire hand gripped the handle.

Suzaku struggled to take control. The searing pain of Lelouch's hold on him burned into his head. At last, Suzaku could take no more and let go of the gun. The pain went away immediately.

Panting for breath, Suzaku prought his hand to his heart. All the while, he stared emotionlessly at the glittering pond before him.

"I knew it wouldn't work. I just had to try. There's no other way..."

At that time, Suzaku saw a figure appear to his right. It was his tragic love, Euphemia li Britannia, sitting next to him. She looked angrily at Suzaku, and with a scoff, stood up and walked away.

"Euphy, wait!"

Suzaku held out his hand to her as she walked away. Then, in the blink of an eye, she disappeared. Suzaku's hand remained hovering in midair.

A single hot tear came out of Suzaku's eye. Then, it disappeared, and no more followed it. Suzaku clenched his hovering hand into a fist.

Taking a deep breath, Suzaku stood up and placed his hands on his mask. Slowly, he took it off. The cool, crisp air hit Suzaku's face like water in a shower. For a moment, Suzaku could see the beauty of the garden.

Except it was not a moment. It was perpetual. It was unending. This garden embodied a peaceful world. A world without suffering and differences. A world where no more lies would occur. Unfortunately, that was exactly the world Suzaku had worked with Lelouch and C.C. to destroy.

Suzaku looked to the sky. Among the clouds, he saw the faces of many people he was once close to. Rivalz, Milly, Nina, Lloyd, Cecile, and even the cat Arthur. But the ones that stood out among all of them were Euphy, Nunnally, and Lelouch.

Suzaku looked at the mask in his hands. Those three faces in the clouds were mirrored in the reflection of the mask. He could once again see their faces.

"Euphy, Nunnally, Lelouch...I wear this mask because of you. But...what exactly is it you want me to do? The world is changing. And I don't know what to do about it. How can I guide the world through this period of chaos? I feel like a helpless pawn in the corner of the chessboard."

"So it's all over for your game then, huh?"

Suzaku did not have to turn around to guess who it was. It was her, that woman.

"Nemo, must you always bother me, you perpetual witch?"

Nemo uttered a low laugh and took the mask out of Suzaku's hands. Suzaku began to protest, but stopped. What was the point? There was no point in arguing with her.

"Such a simple mask, yet such a difficult problem."

"What do you want from me, woman?" Suzaku demanded. "Are you with me, or against me?"

"What a riddle indeed," Nemo said with a chuckle. She put her hand into the head socket of the mask, and pointed it at Suzaku like a hand puppet.

"My name is Lelouch," Nemo said in an extremely crude impersonation of Lelouch's voice. "Wanna kill me?"

Suzaku sighed. "No. He was my friend. But he was my enemy. I despised him. Yet I loved him. My heart is so cloudy, I can't figure out fact from fiction."

"Tsk tsk tsk," Nemo said loudly. "You're simply a single being within a storm of contradictions."

"Exactly," Suzaku said sadly. "But I want to clear myself of them. Perhaps when I do, I'll decide what to do."

"What do you mean by that?"

Suzaku hesitated for a moment. "I've...known something for a while. But, I don't know what to do about it. It's so big a secret, that the burden is overwhelming. What I do know is that whatever decision I make with this discovery could change life, for better or for worse. But I don't know the right way to go about with it. And I have the feeling that buried under all of these problems and contradictions is the answer."

"A secret, huh?" Nemo wondered out loud, thinking. "And a pawn like yourself is powerless to do something about it?"

"A pawn is used by an outside being to gain an end. But is there any way for a pawn to use itself to reach a goal?"

"The pawn is the weakest piece in the game, but it is also the most numerous. And if a pawn works hard enough to reach the other side, it gets a promotion, and becomes stronger. What is your 'other side,' Suzaku Kururugi?"

Suzaku thought hard for a moment, thinking about his "other side," the goal line beyond the contradictions within him. Alas, he could not find it.

"I don't know. Am I doomed to wallow in my contradictions for the rest of my life?"

Nemo tossed the Zero mask back to Suzaku. "Beats me. But I'd suggest looking to an old friend for advice."

With that done, Nemo disappeared in a pink light. Among the beautiful garden, Suzaku was left alone. Or was he?

Suzaku looked at the Zero mask. This time, it was not glaring at him. It was blank, a tabula rosa. It was waiting for knowledge to be written into it.

Mentally, Suzaku filled up the blank slate on the mask. Soon, the mental slate had several figures on it. Along the sides were the faces of Lelouch, Nunnally, and Euphy. Near the top was a geass sigil. At the bottom was blood, a symbol of pain. And in the very center was the ultimate piece. The unmasked face of Suzaku Kururugi.

Suzaku looked in astonishment at the mask. He found the way to reach the "other side."

-II-

Nunnally stared out the window of her room in the Ambrosius Palace. Suzaku was outside in the garden, and he seemed to be contemplating something. Nunnally was surprised, however, to see that he was not wearing his Zero mask. He still wore the uniform, but the mask was completely absent. He seemed to show no qualms about showing the unmasked face.

This relaxed Nunnally. It made her think back to the times where the two of them, along with Lelouch, would talk like lifelong friends without a care in the world. But all that has changed. Suzaku turned into a cold, depressed, emotionless person. Even Nunnally would find herself avoiding eye contact with him. Nowadays, their strolls together would be in silence. Devoid of any hint of friendship.

Nunnally brought her hand to her heart. She could not help but feel a little colder herself. Ruling Britannia has begun to harden her, making her a much less friendly person. Nunnally dreads the day she turns into her relative, Carline le Britannia.

Nunnally pounded her armrest with her fist. Not only was she colder, she was also getting weaker. For the first year of her rule, she had brought Britannia into an age of prosperity. But as of late, she has begun to lose her tempo. She worried that she might not be able to lead Britannia through this strange period of phenomena.

Two main things were on her mind these days. One was geass. Nemo, the mysterious woman, whose intentions are unknown. The other was...Lelouch.

"Nemo. Please...come to me."

Immediately, a pink light flashed in the room, and Nemo stepped forward. She was smiling.

"Greetings, my white witch. How may I serve you?" Nemo said jokingly as she bowed to Nunnally.

"I need...advice."

Still smiling, Nemo let out a light laugh. "Oh? Her majesty needs my advice?"

Nunnally lightly growled. She often grew impatient with Nemo's behavior. Nemo always acted like a small child, mocking others and annoying them. One could not see the genius intellect hidden in her from first impression.

"Nemo, could we please talk like adults in here?"

"You're one to talk. You're a young girl who is not even twenty years of age."

"I can't help that!" Nunnally yelled. "It doesn't matter how young I am! I have this burden of leading a nation, and I have to take full responsibility of it!"

Nemo giggled. "You're sounding exactly like Suzaku. Both of you speak of burdens and not understanding how to deal with them. To tell you the truth, the whole story's getting really old."

"What could you possibly know about burdens?" Nunnally said with a sigh. She looked out the window. Suzaku was gone. "If only brother was here to help me."

Nemo laughed obnoxiously. "Is that what you need advice about? Lelouch? If you want his help, then just go find him! I already told you he's alive."

"I can't!!!" Nunnally shrieked.

Nemo silenced herself, while still keeping her grin. Nunnally calmed down.

"I have to take this burden myself. If I drag Lelouch into this, then he'll end up taking the burden, too. My dear brother has already given up so much. His friends, his peace, his life. If he really is alive out there, I want to let him live a new life without conflict. And that is why I have to find a way to lead the world without him."

Nunnally found her voice getting more and more strained as she talked. It was hard for her to talk about Lelouch straightly now. Everytime she did, she would flashback to that day.

-

Nunnally could remember it clearly. However, it was quite cloudy in her mind. She could think of it quite easily. Though it was pretty hard to think about. Nunnally saw that day as the beginning of a bright future. She saw it as the end of her bright world. But among all these paradoxes, she could remember one exact thing. It was the color red.

Nunnally saw as her brother slid down that ramp. He left behind red tracks of blood as he slid to her side. She stared at him. His eyes were barely open, and the life was slowly seeping out of him.

"Lelouch? Are you-"

She took his hand, and her hand began shaking violently upon having a revelation of her brother's true doings. As her brother finally died, she screamed for him, begging for him to come back. But as she did, it seemed like his blood was covering her. As she screamed at him, her vision turned red, and she saw both the atrocities and good deeds he had committed. It was as if his memories were pouring into her head. And the last thing she saw was a bird-shaped sigil escaping from her brother's body.

-

"I never told a soul. I never told anyone...except now."

Nunnally looked at Nemo. While she maintained that mocking smile, she seemed intrigued by Nunnally's story.

"When Lelouch died, something happened between the two of us. He gave me something."

"I'm interested. What was this something?"

Nunnally took a deep breath. "I have seen all that Lelouch had seen up to that day. His eyes became mine."

A wild fire flamed in Nemo's eyes. This bit of knowledge seemed to make her excited and giddy.

"How wondrous! Before you even met me, you gained an ability. You literally looked through Lelouch's eyes and saw all of his memories as if they were your own."

Nunnally nodded solemnly. "Yes. I saw everything. His tactics, his leadership, his power. And I tried to draw inspiration from that power. Up until now, I have been leading Britannia with Lelouch's indirect help. In essence, Lelouch is still the emperor of Britannia."

Nunnally scowled and bit her lower lip. "But, how can I take care of myself if I always have to depend on my brother? I wish to be free of these memories, but another part of me is preventing me from letting them go! Without Lelouch's memories, I'll be a hopeless leader! But with them, I'll just turn into Lelouch himself!"

Nunnally sobbed, her terrible burden putting pressure on her. The smile finally disappeared from Nemo's face.

Nemo went closer to Nunnally. At first, Nunnally expected Nemo to comfort her and act like a kindly guardian. But Nemo did something else instead.

Nemo quickly tapped Nunnally's forehead. The geass sigil appeared on her head, causing Nunnally to let out a cry of surprise. Suddenly, Nunnally saw everything again. All of Lelouch's memories flashed before her eyes. She saw him putting on the Zero mask for the first time. She saw him pointing a gun at Suzaku. And lastly, she saw him looking at her before dying.

And just like that, the memories disappeared. As if they were no longer there.

Nunnally took several quick breaths. Still panting, she looked up at Nemo. The smile had returned.

"Nemo...what have you done?"

"I've forced you to decide," Nemo said. "Now all those memories are gone. All you have left is yourself to depend on."

"B-but Nemo," Nunnally stammered, "what if I still need him? You should have given me more time!"

"Oh, you still need him, alright. But not as your advisor."

"Then as what? What?!?"

"As a brother," Nemo calmly said. "Someone to look over you and give you confidence in your abilities. Someone to stand by your own decisions."

"Nemo..."

Nunnally heard a tapping in the hallway outside her room. Nemo chuckled.

"Speaking of the Zero..."

Nemo disappeared again, like she always did. The door to Nunnally's room opened, and Suzaku entered. His face was unmasked, and he held the Zero mask to his side.

"Nunnally, I ran over because I got this strange feeling. A feeling that we are about to make an important decision."

"Suzaku," Nunnally said quietly,"I have something to tell you. A secret that I've known for a while."

"If I'm not mistaken," Suzaku began, "I think my secret and your secret are one and the same."

-III-

Date: October 2, 2020 a.t.b. 12:00 AM

All was quiet in the Shizuoka Prefecture, particularly in the hotel Fuji Major. In one particular room, there were three people sleeping in three individual beds. One was a green-haired immortal woman. Another was a gray-haired humanoid, as he was not actually human. And the last was a brown-haired teenager who wielded a very unique power.

All three of them were sound asleep. It appeared nothing could wake them up. And nothing did, for the rest of that night.

The three of them were in such a deep sleep, none of them noticed the pink light that flashed in the room at 12:00 AM. And thus, none of them noticed the blonde-haired woman who came out of the light.

-

Nemo looked around the hotel room. All three of the others were sleeping. C.C. was in her bed clutching that Cheese-kun doll. The Malthus kid was snoring lightly. And Lelouch slept facing up, not making a single sound.

Nemo walked to the chair near Lelouch's bed. She sat in it, and stared at the former emperor. She studied his face. He seemed to be like any ordinary teenager. But in reality, he was a powerful genius who could strike fear in many. He was Lelouch vi Britannia, the Byronic protagonist of the story.

Nemo sighed and leaned back in the chair. She looked up at the ceiling and pondered her so-called life. The being known as Nemo wasn't born until about 400 years ago. Yet how exactly could one call it "birth"? She was "nothing" inhabiting a body. It was only by pure luck that she managed to escape R's Dimension and enter the material world. Had she not been so lucky, she would still be a random conciousness roaming about aimlessly.

What point was there to her life? Would she really have to spend eternity giving contracts to random people, only to find herself leaving them after they fail to fulfill the contract? What was she to do?

Nemo looked at it from C.C.'s point of view. At first, C.C. only had one thing to look forward to in life. And that was death. It was perfectly normal for C.C. After all, she was once a mortal woman.

But now C.C. has a second thing to look forward to. That "thing" is life with Lelouch. Although C.C. is an immortal witch, she still succumbs to human desires.

But what of Nemo? Nemo was never human to even start with. Nemo has nothing to look forward to in her sham of a life. Nemo was not even sure if she would die from a fulfilled contract, since she became a contractor through unnatural means.

If I actually do die...this body of mine will simply rot. And my conciousness will float away into nothingness. I have no soul. I have no heaven or C's World in the afterlife.

I'm just an artificial being. Is there any point to something like myself?

Nemo looked at Lelouch again. He was still sleeping.

"You're dangerous. Yet in a sense, you hold the answer to the meaning of life."

Nemo slowly got onto the bed. She got on her knees, and looked down at Lelouch. Her body hovered above his body. The golden strands of her hair fell down and touched Lelouch's cheek.

"Tell me. What is my meaning?"

Nemo brought her face down to Lelouch's. She hesitated for about a second. Then, she brought her lips to his lips and kissed him.

As they kissed, the geass sigil lit up on Nemo's forehead. It did not burn, but glowed brightly.

Finally, Nemo took her lips off of Lelouch. Lelouch still remained fast asleep.

Nemo laughed to herself. Lelouch was a man of mystery. He seemed to be the key holding things together.

"So that is my meaning, huh?"

Nemo thought about the kiss again. It was such a simple kiss, but it told Nemo so much.

Whether Nemo liked it or not, she was a human, or at least some form of a human. She has all the human flaws and strengths. But her most important strength was her free will. Free will is possibly the most important part to any human.

Nemo isn't meant to just "find" the meaning to her life. She has to make her own meaning. She has to form her own destiny.

"Oh, what a riot. A soul-less conciousness like me has to make my own destiny, huh?"

Nemo got off of the bed. She looked at Lelouch one final time for the night.

"If I have to make my own destiny, I guess I'll have to start by helping this demon. You hear that, Lelouch? You better not fail in helping me shape my meaning."

-

A pink light illuminated the room. The three still slept. And along with the light, the blonde-haired woman disappeared.

(RE R)

C.C. and Malthus are alone.

"Tell me about him."

Kallen inserts the key into her Knightmare Frame.

"Let's ride, Guren."

Lelouch appears shocked to see a familiar face.

"Hello, Lelouch. It's Suzaku."

The Next Stage, The Next Chapter: Order of the Black Knights

(RE R)

-Gah! Another horrible updating time! Well, at least I haven't given up on the story! Here's hoping I can make the next chapter really good! And let's keep our fingers crossed that Code Geass: The Jet Black Renya will be good!-