Author's Corner: Definitely the longest chapter I've ever written in my life thus far, but when all was said and done it really felt worth it. This chapter goes back in time a bit to talk about some of the things two specific characters did following the end of the battle in Japan. From this point onwards these two characters are going to start sidetracking from their equivalent in the anime series mainly because I want them to grow and develop according to the changes I've made to the series. Obviously they'll stay remain true to their traits and persona but as we move along the distinctions will become stronger. Enjoy.
Episode 4: Red and White
Three days following the liberation of Japan
"How's the response on the left arm?" Rakshata asked.
Kallen fiddled with the controls again, trying to get a feel for the new setup. The flexibility and the sensitivity the new control system provided amazed her to no extent. In addition to the standard roller control started back in fifth generation knightmares, Rakshata had added in a finger-glove like control meant to simulate the movements of the knightmare's fingers. Normally detail on that level was meaningless in a knightmare fight, but this unit was different.
Kallen nodded satisfyingly, "It works great!"
"Good, you can get off now. We'll calibrate the rest of it based on the tests. It'll be done before you head out tomorrow." Rakshata said.
Opening her hatch, Kallen stepped out of the motorcycle orientated cockpit similar to the one found in Guren, which was a expected considering the nature of this knightmare frame. From the outside, the knightmare appeared to be a modified variation of the Gekka unit that Todou and the others used, however Rakshata had made quite a few revisions to the knightmare as well as to the control systems specifically customized for Kallen.
In particular was a modification to the radiation surger that Rakshata had recently developed. Instead of the claw sized surger Guren originally possessed, this knightmare had been mounted with miniature versions of the radiation surger placed into each finger tip of the knightmare frame.
According to Rakshata, each surger was capable of generating 10% of the output of the original surger. Rakshata emphasized that Kallen wouldn't be able to deliver the same level of damage as with the original surger, but the new surgers had their own advantages. The new radiation surgers could be used to decimate circuitry, hydraulics, metallic frames up to one meter within the knightmare by simply making contact with the surface. The new radiation pulse was essentially a focused needle that pierced through the armoured layer of a knightmare and into the internal framework. And since the power of each surger was reduced, it meant the charge up period to fire a pulse of radiation blast was virtually non-existent.
"Still...it's not quite the same." Kallen muttered as she stepped down. This new nameless model was meant to replace Guren while Rakshata had it completely rebuilt following the devastating end Guren met at the end of the liberation war.
"Hmm? Something about the weaponry system or the response not satisfying enough?" Rakshata poked her head out from behind Kallen and asked. "It's based off an older unit so it can't be helped that it's a bit on the slow side."
"Eh!?" Kallen hadn't expected Rakshata to overhear her. "No, nothing like that. Just...after all this time fighting together with Guren, it feels a bit lonely without it is all."
Rakshata looked at her thoughtfully, "Is that so. Well Guren's going to take some time to rebuild so you'll have to use this unit in the meantime."
Kallen gestured somewhat apologetically at Rakshata, "Of course, I'm not trying to complain about it."
"It doesn't make a difference to me either way." Rakshata said as she walked off with an amused expression.
Kallen waved off to Rakshata before she left the docking bay of the Order's new flagship.
The flagship Ikaruga had apparently been in development before the end of the liberation and had only been brought out into the open once the develop team had completed the bare essentials. The ship was a battle class aerial ship designed to match head to head with the Britannia flagship Avalon. While Rakshata had not yet completed the flight system, the artillery onboard based off Gawain's hadron cannon alone made it a force to be reckoned with. To the Black Knights it was amazing to know they had come so far as to liberate Japan and now obtain a battleship with a float system comparable to Britannia's leading fleets.
Kallen wandered the corridors, trying not to get lost again as she made her way back to her quarters. The last time she had gotten lost trying to reach the bridge, she ended up mysteriously close to Lelouch's room.
Thinking of the incident, Kallen sighed, "What am I supposed to say to him..." She hadn't spoken to Lelouch since the liberation, in part because Lelouch had been busy as Zero, but mainly because she still wasn't sure what to think about the things Suzaku had said to her.
Passing through another one of the same bland corridor and turning right, Kallen realized that she was staring at a hallway she was sure she had passed before, the same layout appeared before her as she realized she was looking at a hallway that she had already passed through three times now. Once again, she was utterly and completely lost, nowhere closer to her own quarters than when she started, if not further.
"Why isn't there a single map on a ship this size?" She muttered to herself. Disregarding it, she took another left turn, hoping to bump into someone eventually so they could tell her where she was going since she no longer had any idea herself.
A black figure passed the corridor in front of her as Kallen turned at another intersection, her eyes brimmed with joy at the sight of another human being who didn't look like he was lost. "Excuse me! I need some help with direction--"
She stopped dead when she got close enough to recognize the figure.
"Kallen? What's wrong?" Standing in front of her was Zero, wearing his guise and looking as though he had just attended a meeting. An awkward pause incurred as Kallen tried to come up with an excuse to pull out without seeming too awkward, "Don't tell me you're…lost?" Zero asked.
"No, not at all…just taking a stroll around a bit." Kallen flustered. Why was Lelouch so good at reading minds?
Kallen couldn't see it but somehow she could imagine Lelouch's amused expression behind that mask as he looked at her silently. "Is that so? Well just don't forget your room is in that direction. Straight down the hallway, two rights and then a left."
Somehow that taunting amused expression of his just became stronger in her mind. "I know that Lelo- …Zero…"
The air turned heavy and tense all of a sudden, Kallen regretted her negligence for a moment, but then upon reflection realized this was as good a chance as any to pry some answers out of Lelouch. "I need to ask you some questions Zero." This time Kallen made sure she emphasized his alias.
Zero kept silent for a few moments, each passing second seemed to put another ton of weight against Kallen's chest until the silence felt suffocating. "Unfortunately…" Zero's voice finally broke the silence, "I have some things to discuss with the Cabinet Minister Ohgi. You can ask me what you need to after your mission." Without another word or waiting for Kallen's reply, he turned around and left.
Kallen wanted to call out after him, she needed to know, she had a right to know after all this. Yet her quivering lips and trembling body couldn't summon the strength to stop Lelouch. She was afraid, afraid of the truth, afraid of Lelouch, afraid of who she might become if she learned what he was.
As Lelouch passed out of sight, Kallen wiped the sweat off her forehead, she felt as though she had just taken on two Lancelots at once and now managed to live through to tell the gruesome tale. At the very least Lelouch had indicated that they would talk about it after she was done her mission.
Sighing, Kallen turned and walked in the opposite direction Zero had left in. It wasn't until a moment later when Kallen came face to face with another intersection that she realized that in all the tension she had completely forgotten the instructions Lelouch had given her.
"A map…we need a map…"
The battleship Avalon hovered outside the boundary waters of the western front of E.U. Beneath it floated about a hundred naval fleets of the Britannia navy and behind it a few other Caerleon class battleships hovering in the air. The combined force was approximately a thousand knightmare frames strong. It was hardly enough to challenge the formidable Belhind, if no one else believed it Schneizel knew it all too well, even after that man resignation from the throne of the fortress Belhind remained as impenetrable as ever. Yet Charles zi Britannia himself had ordered the assault on Belhind, an odd occurrence, the Emperor hadn't touched the countries affairs for a few years now, much less step in to conduct the affairs of a battle.
"What do you think, Suzaku-kun?" Schneizel asked.
Suzaku was clad in a formal white suit, somewhat similar in nature to the one Schneizel wore. Along with it, Suzaku wore a blue and gold cape around his shoulders.
His eyes studied the landscape before the Avalon from the monitor.
"From the data I've gone over this will be a difficult battle with our current forces, if we can't claim a decisive victory within the day we're best off retreating." Suzaku answered.
"Oi oi Suzaku! Don't sound so glum, you've a member of the Rounds now, have some more pride." A tall blond boy who stood beside Suzaku said. He wore the same uniform as Suzaku but covered himself with a cape of green and gold. Part of his hair was tied in braids and jiggled when he moved. "The Rounds is a rank given only to those who have the power to change the tides of battle by themselves. Not to mention we have two of us here." The blond figure spoke with undisputable arrogance and pride as he leaned onto Suzaku's shoulder.
"As would be expected of the Knight of Rounds." Schneizel turned around and spoke to the two of them directly. "Knight of Three, Gino Weinberg, and Knight of Seven, Kururugi Suzaku."
Suzaku gave a deep bow to Schneizel, "I'm indebted to your assistance in becoming a member of the Rounds, your highness."
"No at all Suzaku-kun. It was only the right thing to do under the circumstances. I can only imagine the impact you'll make once you're on the battlefield with your level of skill." Schneizel turned back to face the monitor again, "Now, Gino-kun, how would you feel if another Knight of Rounds joined us?"
"Eh? Another one? Don't tell me it's that Luciano Bradley, he's usually more trouble than he's worth." Gino said with a tint of annoyance.
Schneizel laughed at that remark, "Not quite Gino-kun, in fact I don't believe either of you have met her yet, she's been dubbed recently as the Knight of Six by the Emperor himself."
"Knight of Six? The Emperor finally decided for someone to fill that seat? That's surprising, the Emperor hasn't taken an active role with the Rounds since he appointed the current Knight of One." Gino said. Gino himself had been appointed by Schneizel after being recommended by another member of the Rounds.
The Emperor had left almost all state issues with Schneizel now, it was indeed odd for him to take such a large hand in setting up a confrontation with Belhind. In Schneizel's view, it was a waste of resources and time to assault the fortress given the current state of the world's affairs. Having been ordered to carry only this many troops, Schneizel almost wondered whether this was simply an elaborate way to execute those present.
But the Emperor must've had his reasons, that this awkwardly timed battle might have more to do with one mere Knight of Six than anything else troubled Schneizel.
"It was indeed a surprising decision from many perspectives." Schneizel said softly and mysteriously. "Well why don't you both meet her for yourself?"
"Eh? She's on the ship?" Gino asked.
"Yes, she was having Cecil-san help her make some adjustments on her knightmare frame. I believe they should be arriving on the bridge at any moment now." Schneizel answered.
"Ara ara, everyone's all gathered up already." Stepping onto the bridge with a cup of tea in his hand was Lloyd Asplund, meticulously perfecting the art of balancing his tea cup.
"So that's the Knight of Six…" Gino said with a serious expression. "She's different than how I'd imagined. And a cross-dresser, what kind of person is she…"
"…Actually Gino, that's Count Lloyd, head developer of the R&D department." Suzaku corrected.
"Oh! Sorry about that Count Lloyd, the tension of the battlefield must be getting to me." Gino laughed as he went and shook hands with Lloyd. Lloyd responded by laughing as though he hadn't heard a thing and shook Gino's hand.
"It's good of you to join us Count Lloyd, I imagine this means that the preparations are complete?" Schneizel asked Lloyd casually, he had been around Lloyd long enough to resist commenting on bizarre behaviour.
"Of course your highness, Lancelot and Tristan are ready for launch. Cecil's finishing up some final tuning with our friend in the hangar." Lloyd said.
"Good to hear. And the progress on Nina-san's experiment?" Schneizel asked.
Nina's name caught Suzaku's attention, he wasn't conscious when it happened but apparently Nina had been picked up along with himself following the rebellion in Japan, though Lloyd had never quite explained why he had taken her with them. It was only now that Suzaku learned she had been working on something for Schneizel.
Lloyd put on a serious expression he rarely wore, "It's going better than I could have imagined, she has talent without a doubt, too much almost."
"That sounds promising. It would truly bring a change to the current state of world affairs." Schneizel let the conversation hang there as he went back to his own thoughts.
"Sorry about the delay everyone, we're ready now." Walking in through the doorway into the bridge was Cecil, holding her hands up in an apologetic manner. "Some of the final adjustments were harder to perform than we'd initially imagined, but we're ready now."
Stepping in from behind her was a girl who was significantly shorter than Cecil, her long brown hair was tied in a ponytail behind her with strands of hair falling down the side of her face. Her eyes glistened with the intensity of battle as she surveyed the people on the bridge.
"She's the Knight of Six, Nunnally vi Britannia." Schneizel announced. "She'll be participating with the two of you during this battle. I hope to see great results amongst three of the Knight of Rounds." Schneizel said to Suzaku and Gino.
Suzaku had frozen when he had gotten a clear look at Nunnally, his face stuck somewhere between disbelief and shock as he tried to figure out whether he had entered some kind of alternative universe at that moment.
Schneizel looked at her as though she was a puzzle he couldn't even begin wrapping his mind around, but doing it all so with his ever so calm smile. "Now then, shall we get started? I'm afraid the enemy general won't wait around forever."
Nunnally nodded towards Schneizel as she approached Suzaku and Gino, "Don't get in my way rookies."
"Ro…rookies!? Hey you watch yourself new guy, a Knight of Rounds doesn't get to have anyone covering their butt if they screw up." Gino retorted.
"Is that so? Well then you must not be a Knight of Rounds, because I'm here to do just that if it happens." Nunnally said. At this point, Suzaku had gotten over the shock of her appearance and moved on to the difference in personality this Nunnally exhibited from the one in his memories, Suzaku could have never imagined she was capable of throwing insults and retorts with Gino based on what he remembered of her.
"Oi oi, don't think just cause you're a girl I'm going to hold back any punches." Gino said as he ground his teeth against each other in frustration.
Sudden she smiled, seductively almost. It made Suzaku think as though he was looking at someone who was much more mature than who she really looked like. "Good, but you should save those." She pointed outside of the bridges windows straight onto the battlefield. "You'll need them."
"Well then, let us begin." Schneizel spoke up before Gino could throw out another argument.
The two Knights silenced themselves as they turned around and proceeded out of the bridge. Schneizel was the commander for this battle and at the same time a prince of Britannia, his words carried weight, even to a member of Rounds operating under the Emperor.
As soon as Suzaku stepped off the bridge after them, he went forward and tried to stop Nunnally by grabbing her arm. "Wait a second Nunnally, you--"
She swatted his hand away before he could get a grip on her arm. "Watch yourself Knight of Seven, don't try and get so friendly." She glared at him before turning around and continuing towards the hangar.
Gino stopped and turned towards Suzaku, "So that's your type?"
"It's not like that, I just…thought I knew her."
Gino shrugged and looked like he had just heard the biggest lie ever. "How do your people put it Suzaku? Lolicon?"
When Kallen had returned the following day for her departure, she found the custom unit had been painted in red in a manner very similar to Guren. Rakshata had named the unit "Guren Kaizer" and had told Kallen so with a mysterious smile.
Along with Asahina, Senba, and Urabe, Kallen's assignment was to progress South in hopes of capturing or destroying the remaining Britannia forces that had managed to flee the destruction of the Capital and/or joined up with those forces from other Cities or establishments that had fallen during the liberation.
Zero had provided the four captains each with a trailer for their travels, and a few trucks to contain their knightmare frames. In total 36 members of the Black Knights had set off with an equal amount of Knightmare frames. The team of Black Knights was divided among four groups led under Kallen, Asahina, Senba, and Urabe.
From the latest intelligence report, Zero had estimated the troop to be around 40 knightmares strong and likely led by Guilford. Ideally, Kallen and the others would be able to capture the Britannia forces alive to be used as political tools, however they had been given permission from the onset of the mission to simply eliminate the resistance forces if necessary.
Four days into the pursue their trail had split down two possible directions, as such Kallen and Urabe went down one highway leading in the direction while Asahina and Senba searched down the other. Into the fifth day of the search neither division had found anything of note and their paths would soon regroup as they continued past Hiroshima to the West.
Kallen sat on a table she had reserved inside the trailer. Before her was a few of the intelligence reports that had been conveyed to them over the past few days. Based on Senba's analysis, it suggested Guilford was not simply fleeing blindly and was either aiming for some kind of counter assault or moving towards some kind of location where they could escape from the country.
Kallen hated to admit it but she couldn't see any of that from the reports. The last few days had confirmed her belief that she was better off leaving the strategies to others and executing them herself. She had also found out she wasn't made of much leader material either, as those under her command had to basically learn to cope on their own and essentially accept indirect orders under Urabe's lead.
Though she was perfectly fine with that, what with her own life and her mind unable to be made up regarding Zero, she certainly didn't feel like she had the right to tell anyone else what they should do.
"Mind if I sit here for a second Captain?" A girl walked up to Kallen's table as she gestured towards the empty seat across from Kallen. Her name was Minoko, one of the more recent member recruited into the Black Knights, quite a wizard with technology. She was in charge of handling the trailer's on board sensory equipment. "The boys have taken over the other table for a card game."
"Ah, no problem, have a seat." Kallen shoved some papers off to the side and left some room open for Minoko. At the same time Kallen wondered who'd be scolded harder between her or the boys if Urabe heard that they were having a game of cards when Guilford's forces likely lay less than a day's travel away.
Minoko sat down and took a sip of whatever she had in her cup. Kallen found this to be the perfect opportunity to stop looking at paperwork and pretend to herself that she was ever going to wrangle anything more out of the reports than Senba had.
"Sensors picked up anything in the last few days?" Kallen asked.
"Nothing worth noting about, if it weren't for these intelligence reports and Captain Senba, I for one would never have guessed which direction the Britannian are heading in." Minoko replied.
Kallen leaned back in her chair and sighed at the reports. "True, if it weren't for Senba…that guy is something..."
Kallen let her thoughts wander away from the reports, maybe now was a good time to get a second opinion, "Say, why did you join the Black Knights? The war's over now and Japan's been liberated, wouldn't it be better to enjoy this instead of being caught up in the fighting?"
Minoko seemed slightly surprised by Kallen's question as she pondered it a bit, "In other words, what am I fighting for?"
Kallen nodded, "Yes, even on this mission we could lose our lives, we're outnumbered, without reinforcements. Why risk all that, for what purpose?"
Minoko looked puzzled as she asked back, "To protect Japan, isn't that what you're fighting for Captain? Even though Japan is liberated there are still Britannia forces in Japan, and it wouldn't be unimaginable to think that they would attempt to invade Japan again. I'm fighting to preserve this peace Zero and everyone else helped make, isn't it the same for you?"
Kallen looked as though she wanted to answer but kept silent, was it the same? Minoko spoke with the same feelings Kallen imagined she must've spoken to Suzaku during their last battle. But now that it was all over, now that Japan was free, could she still say the same? Could she hide Lelouch's secret because it was to protect Japan? Could she fight for him because Japan needed it? Could she ignore the crimes he might have committed to his own comrades? Was it still for Japan?
…But if not, then for what?
"Sorry, it was an odd question. I've just had something stuck in my mind for a bit Minoko.
"Ahh…" Minoko wasn't sure what to say as she took another sip of her drink and finished it. She slowly got up from her seat and picked up her cup, "Well then Captain, I'll be returning to the monitor station."
Kallen nodded to her, "Yes, thank you."
Kallen got up from her seat and stacked up the reports into a pile. "Guess I might as well go take a nap…" Kallen yawned and stretched as she headed for the couch. While a bed was available on the second floor of the trailer she preferred the couch as it left her slightly more alert.
She lay down on the couch and pulled up a blanket she had brought down from the beds upstairs. Closing her eyes she tried to rest her body, though her mind knew no such peace. Her thoughts constantly erupted in reminder that she had to make some kind of decision, would she leave the Black Knights to Zero's reckoning? Would she expose his truth? Would she sit by and let things just continue as they were?
Above all…What was she fighting for?
"Captain! There's something approaching us on the radar!" A distant voice called out.
Kallen opened her eyes drowsily and slowly. She had lapsed somewhat into sleep, but the thoughts swirling in her head prevented her from getting any pleasant rest. The sky had turned dark and only the faint light of the dusk remained in the distance. Outside the window, the view was covered by stretches of hills that obscured anything further than 200 meters or so.
Kallen got up from the couch grudgingly, but as soon as she stood on her feet, her mind was more clear and alert. "What's it showing Minoko?" Kallen asked calmly as she walked over to the monitor station.
"13 knightmares approaching from hills ahead of us. All of them are Gloucester class, 10 minutes until rendezvous."
"13?" Kallen asked.
"Yes, I can't catch them on conventional radar due to the terrain but I'm picking up snippets of communications through to at least 13 units."
Kallen turned on her personal communicator and connected it to Urabe. "Urabe, we've got trouble heading towards us, Minoko's picked up 13 Gloucesters heading our way, at least 13."
Urabe's voice responded right away, "13? That's a tricky number. What about Asahina and Senba?"
Kallen looked at Minoko who in turn shook her head, "I just tried to reach them via satellite connection, but there's no response, either they're not receiving our signal or there's significant jamming."
Putting together both Kallen and Urabe's group gave a total of 18 combat capable knightmare frames, but to utilize all of it would mean abandoning their trailers and trucks and stopping their advance. On the other hand, if they kept drivers on the trailers and trucks it would mean they would only have 10 pilots available. But the real problem lay elsewhere…
"…" Urabe was silent, even Kallen could tell what the bigger problem was from a strategic perspective.
"If they've sent 13 Gloucesters on us, that means Asahina and Senba could be up against 27 knightmares." Urabe said slowly.
Asahina and Senba being outnumbered by 8 units was enough trouble, but if the enemies were also at the level of a Gloucester knight…
"Rendezvous in 7 minutes!" Minoko called out. The reminder sounded like a gong in Kallen's head, they had to make some kind of decision, and quickly.
"Kallen! Pick someone from your crew and have him and yourself launch in your knightmares. We'll have four units intercept them and hold them off while the rest of the team heads for the highway junction up ahead, once they get there, they can locate and assist Asahina's group." Urabe said.
It was as sound a plan as possible under the circumstances, if Asahina's group was assaulted by 27 units they would need all the assistance they could get whereas a few knightmares could stall for time and have more chances in sneaking away. The highway junction where the two groups were supposed to meet back up with was likely where they would be trying to move towards if they had been attacked.
"Seta!" Kallen called out into the crew standing nearby listening. "Mount up on your Sutherland, we're launching, hurry!"
She turned towards the others as Seta ran off to get into his pilot suit. "The rest of you, standby in your respective units, don't launch but see if you can provide cover fire from the trucks. You'll be heading towards the highway junction and searching for Captain Asahina and Senba, meet up and assist them."
"Understood Captain!" The rest of the crew ran off as some headed towards the bedrooms to change into their piloting suits.
Kallen moved towards the side doors of the trailer, she had been sleeping in her pilot suit, so there was no need for her to change now. She pushed open a side door that led outside the moving trailer, in front of her was the truck that housed her knightmare frames. The driver had matched his speed up to the trailers such that the two ran side by side and were close enough to jump over to.
Kallen jumped the gap, and quickly levelled herself into Guren Kaizer.
BDFF OS Support Online
Connecting Fiber Linkage…
Fiber Linkage Connected
Guren Kaizer booting…
As the monitor system came online, Kallen could see Seta getting into his Sutherland in front of her. Behind her, the truck's cargo door slowly began to open, leaving a trail for Guren Kaizer to eject onto.
"2 minutes until rendezvous captain." Minoko's voice came through Guren's communicator.
Linear Bi-Pattern Stabilization Check Complete
Critical Core Test Complete
System Part Test Complete
"Understood, give me a remote bypass to your sensors Minoko, Guren's multi-range sensors aren't picking them up clearly in this terrain."
"Remote signal bypass key assigned…signal bypass granted…you're connected to the network captain."
Guren Kaizer Online
Kallen unlocked the land spinners as Guren Kaizer jumped off the cargo compartment onto the road. The wheels quickly sped up as Kallen gained speed and moved next to the trailer.
"Seta, Kotose, and myself will provide cover fire with our long range weapons, you stay by the vehicles and make sure nothing gets too close." Urabe said as he moved up next to Kallen in his Gekka.
"Understood." Lacking a long range weapon, Kallen had no ability to provide cover fire.
"Contact!" Minoko's voice announced.
"Here they come!" Urabe shouted out to the three of them.
Silence…nothing was around them, the trailers kept moving and Kallen kept about alongside it.
"There's…nothing?" Kallen asked.
Kallen scanned around, the silence was terribly discomforting. Knowing that your enemies were supposed to be right in front of you but not being able to see them was unnerving.
A sudden warning sounded off in Kallen's mind, like something was nudging at her lightly and encouraging her to head into a certain direction. The feeling was brief and vague but in the silence and heighten emotions, Kallen managed to capture the sensation she felt.
"Behind us..." She whispered.
"Urabe, behind us!" Kallen shouted as she moved Guren towards the back and onto one of the slopes.
On her display were 10 Gloucester units, cruising along the slopes as cover.
Noticing Guren's presence, the 10 units scattered as five moved to intercept and occupy Guren Kaizer while the other five aimed towards the trailer and trucks.
"Urabe, there's only 10 units back here! There's three of them left somewhere!" Kallen shouted as she attempted to move Guren Kaizer back with the trailers.
Two Gloucesters moved used their lance as they intercepted Kallen in her retreat and forced her back to the hilltops. Five units moved past Guren using the opportunity as they headed towards the trailers, Kallen tried to move Guren Kaizer after them twice, only to be intercepted again by the additional three Gloucesters that had stuck to her.
"Get out of my way!"
Kallen reached out with Guren's hands towards where a knightmare's primary motherboard was located, if she could manage to touch it with Guren's hands, the radiation surger would allow her to completely disable the knightmare just like that.
As Guren's hand landed on the Gloucester, a lance thrust out towards Guren's arm before Kallen could ignite the surger. Forced to pull distance away from the Gloucester, Kallen withdrew Guren's arm and dodged the lance.
"Damn it." Kallen swore as she noticed a scrape on Guren's arm that had resulted from the thrust she hadn't manage to fully avoid.
"The response is..." Kallen muttered in agitation, even though she was mentally aware of the fact that Guren Kaizer was inferior spec-wise to Guren, her body moved as though she was still piloting a faster knightmare. The delay in the machine's response caused her to miscalculate some of her movements.
Kallen gazed towards the trailer speeding out of sight past the hills, it looked as though Urabe and the others were successful in holding off the assault of the five Gloucesters, and the remaining three hadn't appeared yet.
"You're the pilot of that red unit with the claws?" One of the Gloucesters broadcasted onto open channel.
The Gloucesters had stopped their movement after putting distance between Kallen and the trailers. They now stood in front of her, blocking her advance back towards the main highway.
"What about it?"
Five units, even if her unit was inferior in terms of basic specs she should be able to...
"Then we have what we need. You die here eleven!" One of the pilots shouted as his Gloucester thrust his lance at Guren.
"We're Japanese now, you Britannian bastards!" Kallen shouted back.
Guren sidestepped the thrust with a small jump, once Kallen made it to the side of the lance Guren pulled out one of its daggers and aimed it straight towards the Gloucester.
"Not nearly enough!" Another Gloucester closed in and thrust its lance towards Guren's cockpit from the backside.
"Damn you're annoying!" Kallen gave up her assault on the Gloucester with her dagger as she moved to the side just in time before the lance pierced through Guren's back.
"This is the best you can do!?" Another unit moved in from the side this time, its lance swivelling around lightly, as though hungering for any target it could land on.
Dropping its land spinners, Guren jumped off the lances of the units it had just evaded as Kallen pulled off a mid-air spin and passed the unit trying to strike at her from overhead.
"We've got you!" Two pilots shouted as they jumped and thrust their lances towards Guren while it was still in midair, looking as though they had been anticipating it and standing by waiting for this single moment.
Unable to maneuver in midair Kallen fired off both her slash harkens. One aimed towards the ground while the other aimed to divert one of the incoming lances from the Gloucester. As one of the slash harkens successfully veered the lance slightly off path, the other harken rooted itself into the earth as Kallen used it to pull Guren rapidly back to solid ground. Unfortunately, the other lance managed to land a hit on Guren and gash away a large fragment of the external armour.
The five knightmares pulled back and regrouped making it appear as though they had not begun their assault and everything was as it was just mere moments ago. The difference now was that Kallen had to admit she was flustered over how well these pilots managed to coordinate their actions together, unlike most of the pilots she had faced these five units managed to act in synchronization to the point that it felt like she was facing five parts of one opponent. It also didn't help that the last lance thrust had manage to clip some of Guren's hydraulics, causing the right arm to move rigidly.
"You can't win. And you can't escape." One of the pilots said.
"Shut up, obviously none of you have learned your manners yet." Kallen responded while trying to figure out if there was a way she could separate them. She was confident she could deal with two of them at once, even if they were well coordinated, however five was no doubt outside her limit.
"Surrender Red, you've lost." The Britannia pilot said mockingly.
Guren's visual sensors suddenly picked up three additional signatures from behind her. She watched in frustration and realization as three more knightmares surrounded her. Her sensors had failed to pick them up, likely Minoko's trailer had gotten out of range and the radar had automatically switched back to Guren's onboard system.
"I see...I was the target all along." Kallen said grimly. "But still, you'll have to pay a heavy price if you intend to take me out!"
One of the pilots snuffed, "Arrogant for just an Eleven! Die!"
The eight Gloucesters moved in a semi circular formation as they charged towards Guren with lance on land. Everytime Kallen attempted to engage one particular unit, it was quickly enforced by another one right next to it or by a unit that would come up and attempt to assault her from the back. If she tried to flee away using the hills as cover, the Gloucesters would break formation and simply charge at her, forcing her to stop her retreat and defend herself.
Yet after a while of fending against the Gloucester assault she began to notice that their formations were a lot more orderly and predictable than what she had encountered with the five units previously. The formations were intricate, complex and very powerful but the more she fought it off the better she became at it. Slowly but surely it was almost as if she could feel the flow of the battle through a sixth sense as she began to avoid all the lance strikes without taking a single graze.
"What the hell's going on! You three back down, we're switching back to the drone network!" One of the pilots shouted out, Kallen assumed he'd done it accidently while forgetting to switch his communications back onto a private channel.
Suddenly Kallen realized what it was she felt within the formation that had allowed her to move through it with such ease, among the eight units were three that acted more stiffly like how she'd come to expect of the average Britannia soldier, even at the Gloucester level. It would appear that whatever this drone network was accounted for a good part of the coordination between the five units she had faced before.
"Don't think you can run away!" Kallen shouted as she launched Guren at one of the three units, her intuition told her that if she let them escape the five Gloucester combination would allow them to turn the tides back on her again.
"Damn you woman!" The pilot shouted as he moved in to intercept Kallen from assaulting one of the three Gloucesters.
Her sixth sense seemed to activate again as the Gloucester moved in to intercept her, through purely sensation she could tell what was about to happen and through her experience she knew how to make use of it.
Kallen used her land spinners to move slightly to the side pretending as though she was trying to get past the Gloucester and continue her attack on the fleeing unit. In response the Gloucester who had moved in to stop her moved about again as it tried to stop her with a lance thrust. Everything lined up all at once as Kallen saw the opening she was provided with even without her new sixth sense.
"I've got you!" She shouted as Guren stopped chasing the fleeing unit and dove right past the Gloucester's lance. Kallen disengaged the landspinners as she used the traction from the ground to deliver a palm strike straight into the Gloucester while simultaneously igniting her radiation surgers.
There was no indication of anything except the sound of metal on metal as the Gloucester fell back, but Kallen was confident the Gloucester was disabled, she had manage to strike it directly at the control circuitry and the Gloucester tumbling effortlessly to the ground only confirmed her beliefs.
"One down! Well? You still think you can walk out of this Britannian?" Kallen asked mockingly.
"Bitch! All units regroup, surround her!" One of the pilots shouted.
Kallen couldn't help but smile as she realized her taunts had worked. If the commander had instead decided to stick with using his drone network even with only four units Kallen would likely still have lost seeing how Guren was becoming more damaged and low on energy.
As the seven units came at her Kallen found that she could slowly control her sixth sense to some degree. She could feel and anticipate the flow of the enemies movements, trace down one possibility at a time or multiple possibilities of battle. The heightened sensation and awareness of battle brought out a primal joy in Kallen as Guren danced in the battlefield and Kallen bathed in this new ability.
Kallen began using the three normal Gloucesters as cover and as an obstruction to the better coordinated Gloucesters, by doing so, Kallen was able create openings in the virtually flawless movement of the coordinated Gloucesters. One by one they began toppling to the ground as Guren's radiation surger disabled various critical components of the knightmare.
"Done!" Kallen shouted as Guren's hand gripped onto the last remaining Gloucester and disabled all four of its limbs. She panted as she tried to calm her adrenaline and recall the sense she had opened up before it faded away with the end of the battle.
"This is impossible! How did you…this is impossible!!" One of the pilots who still had an intact intercom system said.
Kallen flexed her fingers as she smiled contently at what she had managed to do. Guren Kaizer had suffered incredible amount of damage in the process and had lost its right arm during the battle but in the end even with only a left arm Kallen was able to finish off the remaining two units.
As her sixth sense faded away, the reality that the battle was now finally over sunk in. She still had work to do, meet up with the trailers, continue their pursue of Guilford, take care of any injured or dead, the list went on and on.
"But first." She said as she pulled out Guren's dagger and moved to the Gloucester that lay immobile on the ground.
She was happy to know that if nothing else, Zero was at least sure to get a few of the captured Britannia soldiers he had wanted to begin with.
"Surrender Britanian, you've lost." Kallen said with a grin.
Suzaku watched as his Lancelot booted up. From the corner of a menu was what Lloyd had described to be systems that booted in the background while Lancelot's main functionalities came online. Cecil had been the one to add the feature to the operating system after Lloyd had taken the chance to revamp certain components of Lancelot following the end of the rebellion.
"New weapons, new features, Lloyd-san really does like this whole upgrading affair." Suzaku said. "Well I am going to need it."
The hangar door began opening as Suzaku looked out towards the ocean floor below. Behind his Lancelot was Gino's Tristan awaiting for launch after him, and beside him was Nunnally's Bedivere, which would launch at the same time.
From the outside Bedivere looked as though it had inherited many design decisions from the Lancelot, which was somewhat expected considering Cecil and Lloyd had created it. Unlike Lancelot, Bedivere had been painted blue throughout with hints of white likely for aesthetic reasons. Two pairs of energy wings used for the float system were mounted onto its back, likely something experimental that Lloyd had come up with. What bothered Suzaku was that Bedivere seemed to have no visible weaponry on it except for a sword mounted at its hip. On first sight it looked similar to his own Maser Vibration Sword (MVS) but it seemed more dull in colour and longer in length.
"What's our primary target?" Gino said over the intercom.
"The titan class beam cannon mounted near the top of the hills. Taking it out quickly will allow us to minimize our casualties when the troops move in from the ocean." Suzaku answered. He then turned towards Nunnally and addressed her, "Is that alright with you?"
Nunnally had been keeping her eyes closed for the past few minutes, almost as though she was meditating to her thoughts before battle. At Suzaku's call, she opened her eyes slowly to also look down towards the ocean floor seen from the hangar doors. "Yes."
"The standard military will begin their approach 10 minutes after we've launched, we'll receive cover fire from the Avalon and the Caerleons from the air. But we'll only have 10 minutes head start to take out that beam cannon." Suzaku said.
"Plenty of time." Tristan said.
"…" Nunnally kept her own opinions to herself.
"Lancelot, Kururgi Suzaku, Launch!"
The electric belt underneath Lancelot's feet charged as it shot Suzaku straight out of the hangar. For a brief moment he could see Bedivere beside him until Nunnally turned on her float system and moved away from Lancelot.
Following her example, Suzaku turned on Lancelot's energy wings as he guided it towards the battlefield.
Belhind was a military establishment placed across a mountain range on the coast of E.U that also provided a straight clear route towards the capital. Spreading across miles in either direction, the mountain ranges towered an average of 4,344 meters in height. The distinct landscape of the mountains provided numerous positions for cover, creating an environment that was easy to defend and hard to assault.
On record, Belhind consisted of about 300 artillery barracks hidden and scattered throughout the region capable of ground-to-air, ground-to-ground, and ground-to-sea bombardments. Adding to those numbers were approximately 3000 of Euro Universe's equivalent of Britannia's knightmare frames, called the Cyclops.
The Cyclopses were originally developed as an exoskeleton for foot soldiers around the same time Britannia began designing the first knightmare frame. Research continued to advance until E.U opted for a form of bipedal humanoid machine around the time when the first-generation knightmares had been born. Eventually, E.U decided to trade in the bipedal design for tank tracks to better adapt to the terrain found in many of E.U's regions. In the end, the Cyclops became a line of humanoid tanks armed with artillery on a level that could only be carried by the bulky sluggish machines.
The trade-off for mobility that Britannia's knightmare frames chose not to make allowed E.U to establish themselves as the third super power of the current world despite the difference in population size compared to the other two super powers.
As soon as the three Knight of Rounds flew pass the coastal border, a brilliant flash of green erupted from the ground as thousands of beam cannons fired simultaneously to greet the three knightmare frames.
"Oi, we must be on their VIP guest list to get this kind of attention." Gino said as he shifted Tristan into its flight mode for evasive manuveurs.
"Lord Kururugi, I'll break through from the air." Nunnally said as she moved straight towards the field of beams unfazed.
"Understood, I'll meet you both at the top." Suzaku replied. He breathed in a short breath of air quickly as he gripped tightly against his controls. "Nidhogg system activate!"
Yggdrasil to Nidhogg ignition protocol activated.
"Let's go." Suzaku said as he edged the thruster control forward slightly.
The world as seen through his monitor suddenly appeared to go white as Suzaku's body was compressed flat onto his seat while his hands strained to grip onto his controls. Blurs of green on his monitor alerted Suzaku that he had plunged straight into the volley of beam attacks. Tilting his controls lightly, Suzaku was able to instantaneously change Lancelot's momentum in any direction, the resulting shift in momentum and the acceleration associated with it made Suzaku feel as though his organs were flying about in his body.
Without being able to visually capture the beams, Suzaku relied completely on his bestial instincts and his combat experience as he wove through the beams. One step too short or too far and Suzaku would have collided straight into a beam blast while moving at tremendous speeds. Utilizing the Nidhogg system for the first time, Suzaku moved through the volley of beams like a bolt of lightning as Lancelot touched down halfway up the mountain range erupting a cloud of dirt with his landing.
Everything in the 3 seconds it took to cross about 1000 meters of distance.
"This…is a bit intense, Lloyd-san." Suzaku muttered as he tried to regain his composure amidst enemy territory.
"Ara, a bit too much even for you Suzaku-kun?" Lloyd replied from the bridge via the intercom.
"That's why I said it was unreasonable." Cecil cut in on the background. "It's not just Suzaku, no human being should be able to handle that kind of acceleration."
Suzaku took a deep breath as he moved Lancelot back on its feet. "It's fine Cecil-san, I can handle this." Placed at the middle of the mountain range, Suzaku had about another 2000 meters before he could reach the titan class beam cannon.
"Suzaku, Gino, and Nunnally-kun, you have 4 minutes until E.U fires their beam cannon again, the initial fire has taken out two Caerleon ships, the Avalon has suffered some minor damages. Also, 6 minutes before the knightmare forces arrive on coast." Schneizel declared to the three member of Rounds.
Suzaku breathed in deeply again as he braced himself. "Nidhogg system activate!"
From the bridge of the Avalon, Cecil watched as the green dot that was Lancelot appeared and vanished around the mountain range, moving up the mountain across large horizontal sweeps but still progressing upwards quickly. Every time the dot winked back into sight, it was followed by explosions of Cyclopses before it vanished and appeared again halfway across the mountain.
"I wonder how long Suzaku-kun can last like that." Cecil said with worry.
"Well, based on the simulations he should live through to the end of it." Lloyd said casually.
The Nidhogg system Lloyd devised had been based off an inspiration he came up with when he had first seen Nina operating on her project. The principal was to compress and deliver 99.99% of the energy generated from the Luminous core into the energy wings in 1000th of a second. The result was a compressed explosion of energy that created instantaneous acceleration from standstill to speeds close to 330 m/s. Though Lloyd had never tried implementing it until Suzaku found out and requested it to his Lancelot, mainly because Lloyd had never imagined anyone could pilot under conditions where they moved too fast to recognize anything.
Back on the battlefield Suzaku continued to move upwards towards the beam cannon using the Nidhogg system. With 3 minutes remaining until the titan class beam cannon fired again, Suzaku had cleared about three quarters of the way up to his destination. Gino on the other hand had been forced out of the air by heavy barrages from Cyclopses and artillery bunkers. The grounded Tristan was forced to move up at a crawl against enemy forces while lacking its aerial mobility. Nunnally had made the most progress and also drawn the most enemy attention since Tristan had been forced to the ground. Bedivere's second set of energy wings had burst out and wrapped around Bedivere as though it were a cloak. The illuminating blue pair of energy wings created an afterimage of Bedivere that lasted up to 10 seconds before fading. In effect, Nunnally's had created hundreds of images that looked identical to her knightmare frame. Her flight pattern and the intricacy of the technology gave the Cyclopses no chance at distinguishing between real and illusionary from their distance as she moved virtually unobstructed towards the top of the mountain.
With one minute remaining, Suzaku arrived at the top of the mountain to see Bedivere evading an unimaginable amount of enemy fire from the thickest of the defences that had been present so far. Even Nunnally and Bedivere could only muster enough strength to not be pushed back under the circumstances.
"Wait Nunnally! We wont break through like this, we need to pull back and regroup!" Suzaku shouted while panting from excessive use of the Nidhogg system.
"There's no time Kururugi! Weinberg won't make it in time, I'll draw in their fire, destroy the objective!" Nunnally responded.
Responding to Nunnally's words, Bedivere unleashed six booster harkens from its body as they sprang to life towards the defending party. "Go Kururgi!" Nunnally shouted out as a booster harken pierced into a Cyclops with such force that it was sent crashing into another Cyclops. The collision cleared up a path in front of Suzaku right towards the beam cannon.
Hesistating for only a moment, Suzaku utilized the Nidhogg system as he boosted towards the beam cannon. "Wait for me Nunnally, I'll be back soon!"
"You shall pass no further!" A row of Cyclopses lined up in front of the beam cannon, each holding gigantic metallic shields. The row of Cyclopses stretched so far in either direction that it was impractical for Suzaku to try to get around them from the sides.
Opting instead to pass by from above, Suzaku launched Lancelot into the air hoping to swing right by the metallic shields that towered at about twice the height of a knightmare frame, only a Cyclops could have enough base stability to hold onto something so large.
"I can see it!" Suzaku shouted out as he flew up above the metallic shields. The beam cannon was in its primary firing sequence now, Suzaku could make out various parts of the cannon beginning to torque about as a dark purple colour glowed from inside the cannon.
"I won't let you!" Suzaku shouted as he raised his beam rifle towards the opening in the cannon.
"Kururgi, watch out!" Nunnally shouted suddenly over the intercom.
The red letters glowed on Suzaku's monitors at the same instant Lancelot was bombarded with cannon fire. The cannon shell exploded on contact as it tore off one of Lancelot's energy wings and turned part of Lancelot's backside char black.
"Damn it!!" Suzaku swore as he tried to regain control over the plummeting Lancelot.
Barely managing to place Lancelot upright, Suzaku landed back in front of the shield wielding Cyclopses. While luckily Lancelot had not fallen from a fatal height, the shock was still enough to send a wave of pain up Suzaku's spine.
"It's time to die, Britannian Knight!" The Cyclops pilot shouted out as a dozen of them surrounded Lancelot in a circle with their shields held out, ready to ram and crush Lancelot in the middle.
"Nidhogg deactivate! Redirect all power to Arondight!" Suzaku called out.
Nidhogg System Deactivated.
All power re-routed to Arondight, lapse time 2 seconds, effective time 3 seconds.
Drawing the MV sword at his side, Suzaku made Lancelot take a kenjutsu stance he had learned from Todou which allowed for a technique that lets the user attack all directions in one stroke.
Arondight, Full Power
"Out of my way!!" Suzaku shouted as he slashed with his MV sword.
As the sword left Suzaku's side a sparkle of energy arched onto the tip of the sword from the base of the Lancelot's hand. The arch of energy expanded into a blade of green similar to the colour of Lancelot's energy wings and rapidly grew to four times the length of the MV sword itself. As Suzaku's stroke contacted the first metallic shield the beam blade pierced straight through the shield as though it met no resistance. The length of the beam blade allowed the MV sword to cut right through the metallic shield and the Cyclops in the same stroke severing the humanoid machine near the chest. The beam extension carried through the stroke without delay as it sliced through all twelve of the metallic shields and respective Cyclops.
Arondite Shut Down, MVS (Left) Terminate
Dropping the sizzling MV sword onto the ground, Suzaku drew the beam rifle in Lancelot's hand just as the severed Cyclops fell backwards, clearing a straight line of sight into the nozzle of the beam cannon.
"Stop!" Suzaku shouted as he fired the rifle straight into the beam cannon.
The tiny spark of green from the rifle appeared like a pebble dropped into the vast ocean at first, but in mere moments replacing the deep purple of the beam cannon was a red hot fiery glow looking to erupt from the depth of the nozzle.
"Kururugi, back down!" Nunnally shouted as she began moving Bedivere as far back from the beam cannon as she could.
Seeing that he wouldn't make it without his flight system intact, Suzaku grabbed one of the giant metallic shields from the ground as he plunged one of it into the earth and had Lancelot take cover behind it.
The beam cannon erupted in a thunderous roar as everything in sight was covered with a crimson flame. Suzaku felt the shock of the explosion as Lancelot continuously rumbled from the vibrations of the air. The shield was holding but through the monitor Suzaku could also see parts of the shield that were beginning to melt down.
"Suzaku!" Gino shouted as Tristan began swooping down towards Lancelot from the air.
"Thanks Gino." Suzaku said as Lancelot ran away from the direction of the blast and grabbed the extended hand from the flying knightmare as the two flew away from the plateau of the mountain.
A second wave of explosions erupted just which threw the combined weight of Tristan and Lancelot sprawling off the plateau. The two units were only able to stop themselves after colliding with remains of Cyclopses a few times and tumbling on the slopes for a while.
"I owe you one Gino." Suzaku said breathlessly.
"Don't forget it Suzaku, you own me some of those mysterious raw fish rolls you keep talking about."
Suzaku sighed wearily as he slowly began to lift Lancelot, hoping to join the fighting that had begun as Britannia's navel fleets began unloading their forces onto the shores.
"So I live again." Suzaku looked down the mountain and vaguely saw the battle beginning near the coast line. Already he could catch glimpses of Nunnally's knightmare frame flaying around its booster harkens halfway down the mountain and unleashing illusion after illusion of Bedivere with the help of the energy cape.
"I'll live on as you wanted Lelouch, I'll keep on living until the day I kill you with my own hands."
A week and a half's worth of time ended with the assault team achieving half their desired results. In the end only Kallen had managed to capture eight members of the Britannia forces while the Gloucesters that had assaulted Asahina, Urabe, and Senba had all been killed.
The Black Knights had losses tallied up to 7 dead and 10 injured while the Britannia resistance lost all but 14 of its members who had managed to escape out of the country. It turned out that Guilford had sent only an additional 13 units to assault Asahina's group, among which Senba only reported 3 units that acted extraordinarily well coordinated, as Kallen had described.
Following the counter attack by the Britannian forces, the Black Knights had no choice but to stop for a day and regroup. The lost day of time gave Guilford what he needed to tap into the few remaining Britannia connections as he escaped along with various officials by sea from the harbour of Hagi.
Arriving a half a day after Guilford's escape, Kallen and company had been told to standby and await the arrival of Ikaruga in a few days. Zero had set a new goal to achieve and it appeared they would be departing Japan for now. While Zero told the team not to worry too much about Guilford's escape, he made note to have the team remain on alert in case any Britannians had been left behind as a strategic spy.
"You're still not satisfied after winning Japan are you Lelouch? What are you after now? How many more have to die at your whim?" Kallen said wearily while sitting on the shoulder of Guren Kaizer and staring out into the vast ocean from the harbour. The Black Knights had placed their trailers and knightmares at the harbour to wait for Ikaruga and kept a few members on standby duty in case of any suspicious behaviour.
"It's ironic that I've developed a sense for reading the battle like yourself." Kallen said as she recalled her battle with the eight Gloucesters. Her sixth sense had shut itself out since then despite her attempts at trying to reawaken it but she was confident that as time went by she would gain control over this new ability.
"A new power for battle, so much for what I wanted to say to Minoko. I guess I'm just not that different from you after all Lelouch, the battle's over yet I can't help but yearn for that new power within my grasp."
But at the very least she didn't want power simply for the sake of power. There was one opponent at the very least that she needed this power for. One opponent who despite the outcome of their last encounter she still considered herself lacking against.
"Next time you stand in my way Suzaku, I'll defeat you once and for all." Kallen said to herself.
The winds brushing by her hair and the scent of ocean air lightened her mood as she stood up steadily on Guren's shoulder and stretched her body. Her view shifted from the horizon of the ocean onto the beach nearby where some of the Black Knights who weren't in charge of standby at this time were having a swim or playing a game of ball in the sands.
"Well, maybe I should go for a swim too." Kallen said. "I wonder if Minoko's off duty yet, the guys are going to stare at me too much if she's not there--" Kallen paused suddenly as that familiar sensation crept up on her. It wasn't quite the same feeling, not as though she was reading the flow of a battle but instead more like a sharp ping that needed her attention.
"From the ocean?" Kallen reached back into Guren's cockpit as she pulled out a pair of electronic binoculars. Enlarging it as far as it could go, she pointed it towards the direction she had felt the alarm coming from.
"!! That's-- " Kallen jumped straight off Guren as she ran towards the docking area of the harbour.
"Hey Kallen, I just got off duty, you--" Minoko began speaking as Kallen sprinted past her.
"Sorry, I'll be right back Minoko!" Kallen replied as she kept sprinting.
Finding a simple motor boat on the dock near the rental shop Kallen jumped on as she ignited the engine and steered it into the ocean.
"Why would she be here?" Kallen asked herself as she neared what she had seen from the binoculars.
The boat slowed and eventually stopped right next to the floating body on the waters.
"I hadn't imagined you'd be my escort." The green haired girl said casually while looking up at Kallen shadowing over her from the boat.
"Probably because you don't have one, I'm afraid to tell you that you've been more or less forgotten until now, C.C." Kallen spoke back.
"It's good to know you remember me at the very least then Kallen." C.C said.
"I almost wish I didn't." Kallen said as she began pulling C.C onto the motor.
Kallen looked hard at C.C once they had both been seated on the motor boat. Kallen made no motion of moving the boat back onto the shore.
"C.C, how much do you know about Zero? About Lelouch?" Kallen asked straight off recalling that C.C had indicated she knew the Zero behind the mask before.
C.C looked slightly surprised for a moment when Kallen mentioned Lelouch, but soon the surprise turned into an amused smile, "Who knows, he is a mysterious man after all."
Kallen leaned back and made herself comfortable on the boat, "Tell me C.C, we're not going anywhere until I know everything you know."
C.C couldn't help herself but laugh at that statement, "That could take a very very long time Kallen."
"Didn't I just say? We're not in a rush to get anywhere."
C.C laughed again as she also tried to make herself comfortable by taking off her outer layer clothing and letting them drip off the side of the boat.
"Very well Kallen, where would you like me to start?"
"Was all this what your highness imagined when we began the campaign?" Lloyd asked as he looked out from Avalon onto what remained of the battle.
Schneizel smiled in resignation to Lloyd's question, "You may not be aware of this Count Lloyd, but I once attempted to seize the fortress of Belhind when General Victor Weizen still resided here. I had at least seven times the forces, spies within Belhind, all controllable elements on my side, it was meant to be a campaign that pushed straight into the capital of E.U."
"That is news indeed, I can't say I've ever heard of that." Lloyd responded with a genuinely surprised expression. "Which means…you failed your highness?"
"General Weizen was a man from the Emperor's days. They engaged with the world as their stage for countless battles. For me, Belhind was a memorable learning experience." Schneizel said as he recalled.
"I suppose today would be the exact same of that except with the sides of battle reversed." Lloyd said as he looked back into the mountain range.
Within nine hours, 4367 troops from the fortress Belhind had surrendered to the Britannia assault. Slightly below half the Cyclops forces had been destroyed, while only 40 of the artillery barracks were left intact. At six hours after the fall of Belhind's titan class beam cannon, E.U troops had already begun to pull back in retreat, it was only after another three hours of struggle that the 4367 troops which had not managed to escape surrendered unconditionally.
The sudden battle arranged with a lack of comparable military power on Britannia's side. The mysterious arrival of the Knight of Six and her background as a princess to the throne who had supposedly been killed years ago. The fact both these elements lead a trail straight back to Charles zi Britannia. Schneizel frowned as he tried to consider the possibilities, his father had lifted the curtains to put…something in motion.
"This is Kururgi Suzaku reporting in, the coastal region is secure, all remaining artillery barracks have been disarmed." Suzaku reported in through an intercom system. Suzaku had returned to the Avalon once shortly after the destruction of the titan class beam cannon to equip some temporary spare parts for Lancelot, he quickly returned afterwards to the battlefield and continued fighting until just moments ago. Both Schneizel and Lloyd could tell from his voice that he had reached his physical limits despite his attempt to hide it.
"This is Gino Weinberg, the skies are clear." Gino said casually. Gino had remained mostly inactive and grounded following the destruction of the beam cannon, it was only until later into the battle once some more of the Cyclopses had been cleared up that Gino took to the skies and became a major force in finishing up the battle.
"Nunnally vi Britannia reporting, the perimeter is clear." Nunnally reported in sounding quite the opposite of Suzaku. She had returned to the Avalon five times to replenish Bedivere's energy filler and take a few minutes of rest. Yet on the battlefield she had become the most devastating force, having never used her MV sword and simply resorted to her energy cape and six booster harkens for the entirety of the battle.
"Good work to all of you, leave the rest of the cleanup to the local detachments, you may return to the Avalon." Schneizel announced to the three of them.
"Yes your highness." The three Knights said simultaneously.
As the voices of the three Knights cut off, Cecil walked onto the bridge carrying a clipboard with some papers on it. "The numbers have been tallied, it was just as you thought your highness."
Schneizel took up the clipboard Cecil handed him as he began to flip through the pages one at a time.
"70%..." He said wearily. "70% of the enemy forces were destroyed was accountable to her alone."
"70? Ara, that's quite commendable, even for a Knight of Rounds." Lloyd added in.
"During the initial 10 minutes of the battle she occupied and drew in 80% of enemy fire. Without a doubt this operation would not have succeeded without her." Cecil pitched in.
"A part even better than Suzaku-kun, this should be fun." Lloyd said cheerfully as he envisioned all the things he could attempt with such a powerful devicer.
"Truly, at this level Nunnally is at least an equal to the current Knight of One." Schneizel said.
The Emperor had already issued preliminary plans for Nunnally's next operation under Schneizel's command, evidently the Emperor had anticipated the outcome of the battle today. Yet E.U was no longer part of their next operation, it appeared to Schneizel that the entire point of this battle was to test out Nunnally's capability.
Lives almost thrown away for some unknown purpose, Schneizel was a merciless strategist when he needed to be, but to throw away Britannia forces for seemingly no reason like they did today was something he couldn't accept.
"Just what are you planning father…" Schneizel whispered.