Turn One: Sakuradite
"To deny the existence of Yang and Yin is to deny that there is day and night, light and darkness, good and evil. Within Yang there is Yin and within Yin there is Yang, just as in light there are shadows of darkness and in darkness there are pinpricks of light. Such was the plight that Lelouch left the world in with his last evil, a state of perpetual peace that placed the world in Yang and smothered all but a few vestiges of Yin which threw the Chi of the world out of balance. A wise man once said; nature abhors a vacuum. Pity we didn't realize that before Lelouch made his sacrifice."-Excerpt from the journal of UFN Japanese Ambassador Kaguya Sumeragi dated November 26th, 2024 a.t.b.
The large oval-snowboard shaped superstructure of the former Aerial-Battleship Thor threw the shadow of its massive bulk over the southern seas of the Atlantic as she sped along her course. Her float-system engines hummed rhythmically as the sun glinted off of her metallic hull. Originally built under the orders of the 98th Emperor of Britannia, Charles Vi Britannia, the Thor was larger than any other air-ship before it. The completion of this airship was done by the order of Empress Nunnally Vi Britannia in 2021 a.t.b. However, the craft's role as an Aerial-Battleship was over before she ever set aloft into the blue skies of the world. Her three FLEIJA launchers had been removed, leaving only her basic conventional armaments in place for defense against pirates and terrorists; a problem that had slowly grown in the wake of the catastrophic wars of the Britannian Imperial Era. Although still a formidable warship, the Thor's new mission was one of peace and scientific exploration of planet Earth; the airship was now a massive aerial research-vessel.
Upon the aft engineering structure which hung from midway along the ventral hull of the rear of the great vessel was an observation promenade, complete with railing and a staircase leading back up into the ship.
Leaning upon the railing of the promenade was a fiery-red haired woman in the black and gray military uniform of the elite Black Knight unit The Yamato no Orochi. Her long braided hair hung over her left shoulder and swayed slightly in the wind as it whipped up off the surface of the ocean below her. Her blue eyes gazed at the deep blue cold waters below her as she pondered private thoughts known only to her.
"Hey Kallen!" A tall blued-eyed man called to her as he walked down the stairs.
His blonde hair gave him away instantly, "Hi Gino."
"Hi," Lt. Commander Weinberg leaned over and smiled. "There's that look again."
"What look?" Captain Kouzuki straightened up and sneered.
"You know what look," he leaned on the railing and looked towards the horizon. "That whole, could I have saved him? Look you have."
"I don't know what you're talking about." She folded her arms and turned away so he wouldn't see the sadness in her eyes. "Besides that was six years ago, and he's dead now so it doesn't matter anymore."
"I know that," Gino said softly, "but that doesn't mean you've let go."
"How can I?" Kallen turned to let the wind of the sea dry her eyes which threatened to tear.
Gino lightly touched her shoulder, "We've all made mistakes Kallen. Isn't it time you forgave him and moved on?"
"I forgave him already, nearly six years ago." She didn't look at him. "But with all that's happened since he left us…" Kallen brushed off Gino's hand. "It isn't him I can't forgive Gino." Her voice was a whisper. "It's us…me, Ougi, Tamaki, and the others. We betrayed him."
At this moment she didn't sound like Captain Kouzuki of The Yamato no Orochi that he had come to know and trust and that bothered Gino. "He deceived and betrayed the world Kallen and killed countless people, he would have even killed you if Zero hadn't stopped him. You should know better than most what kind of person he became. So you shouldn't be so hard on yourself, what would Ougi think?"
"You really wanna know what Ougi thinks?" Kallen gave him a false smile. "On the one year anniversary of the Death of the Demon Emperor there was a televised broadcast of how Zero, the hero of the people, slew the 99th Emperor of Britannia and saved the world. Ougi left the room when he saw the rebroadcast of Zero stab Lelou-the Emperor." Kallen stared off into the distance as she recanted the scene. "I had gone to visit Valletta, Ougi and their infant child; since I was hardly ever able to make it over there anymore with all my school work, and continued military training at that time; I thought it would be nice to take the opportunity to see them during the international holiday. We were having evening tea when the broadcast came on the television. Ougi just got up without a word and went outside. I followed Ougi out to the front of their house where I saw him weeping softly for a moment before he recomposed himself. He's never felt right about what we did to Zero when we chose to ally with Schneizel. Tamaki is not any better either. He won't talk about it unless he's stone drunk and then all he does is cry about how we wronged Zero. All of us that were close to Zero, the real Zero, carry the shame of what we did to him Gino. I know I feel like if I had talked to Lulu instead of just following him like a lost puppy with a new master then maybe I could have stopped his Requiem; maybe we could've found a different path to peace; and then maybe he'd still be alive today."
Gino felt foolish, "I'm sorry Kallen. I shouldn't have brought it up. I just thought that after all this time your feelings might have changed." The only thing that stood in the way of Kallen going from just being his best friend and comrade too something more was the lingering shadow of Lelouch.
Kallen gave him a warm smile, "Its okay Gino, don't worry about it. It's just this cool, crisp air; it brings back memories of Japan and the Battle of Narita and how Zero led us to victory there and so many other times afterwards."
"Speaking of frigid mountain conditions," Gino said anxious to change the subject, "What do you think about this mission?"
"What? Do you mean going to Antarctica to babysit some geophysicists, archaeologists, and other science personnel just to find that huge Sakuradite deposit that the Global FLEIJA-detection security satellites picked up near the central mountain range of that continent of ice?" Kallen put on a genuine smile and rolled her eyes. "I think its BORR-ING."
"Well at least we'll see some penguins." Gino laughed.
"Why couldn't we get assigned to South America?" Captain Kouzuki said as she lay back on the railing with her arms.
"You want a re-match with Generalissimo Ceasaro's mercenaries don't you?" He snickered.
"Yah, why not?" Kallen squinted her eyes at him. "Isn't our job to put down the build up of internal armed forces?"
"Yes but it's not like we can just waltz in there with our KnightMares and take them prisoner. Those forces are the remnants of the old Imperial Britannian army, and will put up one hell of a fight which could in turn spark a war in the region." Gino leaned against the railing beside her. "They don't recognize UFN authority. Not too mention that Cornelia is leading them."
Kallen sighed, "Poor Nunnally. She's lost her whole family either by death or desertion. I can't believe Cornelia renounced her father's name and took up her mother's maiden family name as her own; Cornelia Ceasaro."
"I can't really say I blame her," Gino turned to face Kallen with a devilish grin. "It's not like Cornelia gets along with Schneizel or trusts Nunnally. Look at it from her viewpoint."
"Are you serious or are you just picking on me?" Kallen asked. "You know as well as I do Gino that Cornelia and Gilford both left Britannia as soon as Gilford and she were able to do so. They grabbed what they could in weapons and equipment and then left with as many people as would follow them down to Brazil."
"I might be picking on you a little," He smirked. "I wouldn't want you to think I've given up on you."
Kallen blushed, "Commander Weinberg!"
Gino laughed and then became serious all of a sudden, "Hey is it true that Nina Einstein left with them."
"That's what the intel says; her, Lloyd Asplundh, and Cecil Croomy too." Kallen turned to look at the sunlight reflecting off of the waves beyond the shadow of the ship. "I can only imagine what their doing for Cornelia down there."
"You think they'd build a FLEIJA after everything that's happened?" Gino inquired anxious to know her opinion.
"No," Kallen was firm, "I don't think they would. But I do think that they'd build conventional weaponry like Knightmare-Frames and such. That's more Cornelia's style."
"Hey you two!" A young female voice called out from the top of the stairwell that led down to the promenade.
"Hi Anya," Gino waved at her to come down and join them.
First Lieutenant Anya Alstreim wore the same uniform as Kallen and Gino. In her arms the girl carried a tray which had three cups of hot tea upon it. "I thought you might like something to keep you warm out here."
"Thank you Anya," Gino said as he took a cup.
Kallen took the second mug, "So what do you think of this crisp Antarctic air Anya? I'll bet it's a big change from the Orange-Orchard farm you and Jeremiah were on."
"Yes it is," Anya replied in her usual monotone voice. "But it's a nice change." She smiled.
"I'm still surprised Jeremiah let you become a Knightmare pilot again." Kallen said.
"Well, I wasn't happy on the farm." Anya stated. "It got too boring for me and I was already a good Devicer so I thought that I'd join the Black Knights after the UFN reformed them in 2020 a.t.b."
"I'm glad you did," Gino said with a smile, "It's nice to have an old friend on the team besides Kallen; at least your better company."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Kallen put her free hand on her hip and scowled at Gino.
"Just that Anya is better company than some people on this ship, that's all." Gino teased.
"Would you two like to be alone?" Anya inquired with a blank expression.
Kallen turned beet red, "What?...No...It's alright Lt. Alstreim, you can stay."
"Aw com'on Kallen, don't you value our private time together?" Gino taunted her with a wink.
Kallen furrowed her brow, "Commander Weinberg how many times do I have to tell you..." The ship's intercom interrupted Captain Kouzuki before she could finish.
"Attention!" The voice of Chancellor Schneizel Britannia's Chief Yeoman, Kannon, boomed over the speakers, "All members of the Black Knights are to report to the Flight deck for a preliminary operations briefing immediately. We are currently less than three hours from our destination point. That is all."
"Saved by the bell," Cmdr. Weinberg laughed as he made his way up the stairs; empty tea cup in hand.
Anya turned and started up the stairs.
"Hey wait for me!" Kallen chugged her mug of tea and choked down the hot liquid as she hurried to follow behind Gino and Anya.
"Do you think it was wise to send Schneizel in charge of this mission Empress Nunnally?" Suzaku asked.
"I do," She said as she stared out the window standing on her cybernetic-enhanced legs. World medical technology had advanced quickly during the years after her reign began; it had too in order to deal with all of the misery and suffering of those that were maimed and disfigured during the war her brother had waged.
"I should have went with them," Kururugi said as he came to stand beside her; the mask of Zero resting under his arm.
"No," she cut him off. "I need Zero in Japan with me for the upcoming UFN summit." Her tone was cold towards him. Nunnally had learned Zero, the new Zero, was Suzaku on that horrid day when she held her dying brother in her arms. Empress Nunnally didn't hate Suzaku for what he did, but it didn't change the lingering feeling of antipathy for him that festered in her heart no matter how badly she tried to forgive Suzaku.
Suzaku had been reluctant to expose his identity to Nunnally at first, but later realized that lying to her was equally despicable and pointless. He made up his mind to confide his true identity to her and only her.
"Are you afraid of being assassinated? Is that why you want Zero there by your side?" He knew it was a foolish question as soon as it left his lips.
"Of course I am." Nunnally didn't look at him. Her eyes were on the replica of the garden that mimicked the one her mother Marianne's estate used to have. The lush floral greenery adorned the west side of New-Brunswick Castle in the center of Neo-Pendragon; a city built around the crater-lake that once was the original metropolis built by her father.
"The hatred of the world rests upon me for the actions of my family." She told him flatly. "Why wouldn't assassins be there to take my life?"
"I don't think the world hates you Nunnally," Suzaku ventured to say. "Much of the world is still focused on reconstruction and rebuilding. Only a few remnants of war remain and we may be able to bring those elements to the bargaining table to bring about total peace. Doesn't that make you happy?"
"NO!" She snapped at him, though she continued to look at the blooming flowers of the garden below. "There was only one thing that brought me happiness in this world, and you took that from me."
Suzaku flinched as though she had run him through with a sword. He and his conspirator hadn't considered Nunnally's feelings about their plan; The Zero Requiem. They had been teenagers back then; childish and impulsive in their decisions.
"It's what he wanted." Suzaku had been through this with her before, but not at this level of intensity. Something was wrong and it was deeper than just the emotional ache in her bosom.
"I know Suzaku." Nunnally turned to face him, tears welled in her eyes. "And it was all for nothing. Even now the countries of the world conspire against each other for resources and power. Humans aren't pieces on a chessboard. They have feelings and desires, vices and shortcomings that you two either chose to ignore or failed to take into account in your grand scheme!"
Kururugi tried to ignore the verbal blows as they slashed at his emotions; he knew she was right. "Do you believe this new Sakuradite deposit will start another war?"
"Yes, I do." Nunnally hobbled over to where her float chair hovered silently above the floor of her study-chambers. Even though the cybernetic-enhancements allowed her to walk, she had yet to master their operation and still had some difficulty walking.
"And FLEIJA will rear her ugly head yet again," She said as she sat down.
Suzaku was stunned by her suggestion. "Do you think Cornelia will develop a FLEIJA weapon?"
"No, my sister is an honorable woman. She would never use such a weapon." Nunnally sank into the cushions of her chair and threw her head back, "But I'm not so sure about the Black Knight's Pacific Commander Brigadier General Kyoshiro Tohdoh and his right-hand, the Black Knight's Asiatic Commander Major General Li Xingke. They've both become hungry for power."
Kururugi stood before her and looked directly at Nunnally, "Empress, are you implying that you believe that the UFN has become corrupt so soon?"
"I do." She said to him without flinching.
"What about your friends Kaguya Sumeragi and the Tianzi, Jiang Reika?" Suzaku questioned her with a scowl, "You can't possibly think that they have become corrupt can you your Majesty?"
Nunnally tittered, "Of course not Suzaku. Kaguya and Jiang are both very forgiving and understanding women. Besides the fact that we three are nearly the same age, we all share the heartache and disappointment that the men around us have wrought. It's those shared emotions that actually started to bind us together like sisters when we met during the first UFN global summit one year after I became Empress. After that we three have forged a strong friendship amongst ourselves."
Suzaku shrugged, "I hadn't realized you three were so close. I thought that my cousin Kaguya would actually be rather cold towards you considering your pedigree milady."
Nunnally held back a laugh, "She was at first-my being the sister of the Demon Emperor and all-but I think a part of her felt guilty about betraying Zero." Nunnally giggled, "Kaguya never stops asking me about my brother's past; the girls he liked; the girls that liked him; his hobbies; you know basically everything about him. I think she still likes him deep down inside."
"Wasn't Lady Kaguya supposed to marry Tohdoh a few years back?" Suzaku inquired; he pressed the subject to keep her smiling.
"Yes she was," Nunnally chortled, "it was at the behest of the new Japanese parliament. They claimed it was to ensure the continuance of the Imperial bloodline but Kaguya saw right through it and rightly accused them of trying to use her as a pawn in a power grab for Japanese control of the Black Knight's Pacific Command. Since Tohdoh had been elected head of that position by the UFN, the Japanese parliament sought to gain bedside influence and inner knowledge of confidential information through Kaguya."
"I take it that didn't sit well with her?" Suzaku smiled.
Nunnally let out a laugh, "Oh no! Kaguya faced down the Prime Minister in the middle of the Senate's most important debate of the year; that being the Japanese government budget; and flat out told him in front of the whole country during the televised event that if he wanted to be in bed with Tohdoh then he should marry him himself."
"Feisty as always," Suzaku laughed.
"Yah she is," Nunnally giggled. "She once stared down Li Xingke and scolded him severely for missing Jiang's birthday a few years back. I pity the person she gets angry at because Sumeragi gives no quarter."
"I never understood Jiang Reika and Li Xingke's relationship," Suzaku asked a bit perplexed. "Are they in love?"
"Yes." Nunnally said with smirk. "I believe they've been planning a wedding for years but both of them are so busy they've not gotten around to even deciding where to have it."
"Does Jiang talk a lot about getting married?" Kururugi asked with a smile.
"No, not really," Nunnally said. "Jiang usually tries to get me to talk about all the friends I had at Ashford. Reika didn't have any real friends growing up so she likes to hear my tales about my school days with Millay, Rivaltz, Nina, Shirley and my brother. She especially likes to hear the stories of Shirley trying to chase down my brother and all of Millay's crazy antics to get them together."
The memory of the last words Shirley said to him cut into Suzaku's psyche; I forgave Lulu for the death of my father...maybe you should try to forgive him too Suzaku. He hadn't forgiven him; even now after all this time; his love for Euphie was too great and too deep and Lelouch, no Geass, had taken her from him by the hand of Zero and he could never forgive Lelouch for forcing him to live by using Geass. The Zero Requiem was not enough; he knew that now; he knew he wanted to be with his true love; Kururugi knew he wanted more than anything to be with his Euphie; Suzaku wanted to die. "Yah, Millay sure was crazy wasn't she?"
"Was? She still is." Nunnally laughed. "Millay Ashford is now the chief executive of the Tokyo Broadcasting Channel and airs some of the most outlandish shows in the world; she's a huge success over there."
"Wow, I didn't know that." Suzaku said in surprise. "I wonder what happened to the rest of the gang."
"If you mean Rivaltz, he actually married Millay a little over four years ago." Nunnally told him. "I wanted to go too their wedding but couldn't because I knew I'd bring attention to my relationship too them and there was a real possibility of retaliation against our friends by the Japanese government and other parties."
Suzaku sighed, "Oh, I'm sorry milady I should have realized that would be a problem."
"That's okay," Nunnally told him. "Things are more settled now in Japan and when we go there in a month for the UFN summit I've made arrangements for us to visit Millay and Rivaltz...well, you as Zero anyway." Her elation subsided as she realized her excitement was lost on Suzaku.
"Don't look sad Empress," He gave her a fake grin. "I've made my own bed and am more than willing to lie in it."
"That reminds me," Nunnally cocked her head to one side, "Kaguya and Jiang are flying out here to travel with us to Japan."
"Pardon my saying so Empress, but that seems a bit odd." Suzaku was puzzled.
"Not at all," She smiled at him. "You see you and I are going to Japan by ship and so you'll have a whole month to get reacquainted with Lady Kaguya and the Tianzi while we cruise along to the islands of Japan. Hope you don't get sea-sick."
Suzaku grimaced, "No milady."
"Chancellor Schneizel, we are approaching the Weddell Sea coastline," Kannon stated from his position standing on the foredeck of the enclosed bridge which protruded from the ventral bow section of the ship just below the nose Hadron-Cannon.
"Thank you Kannon," Schneizel smiled at his Yeoman. "Please inform Dr. Viviane that we are now within landing range and have her prepare her teams for immediate departure. Also, have the Black Knights put on standby."
"Yes Chancellor," Kannon stated obediently. "We should make the intended dig site on the Vigrid Plain in about an hour Sir."
"Excellent Kannon," Schneizel smiled. "I imagine we'll be able to secure the area of the Sakuradite deposit by morning and have the UFN International Energy Commission a base of operations built here by then end of the month."
Kannon gave Schneizel a perplexed look. "Antarctica is unclaimed territory shouldn't we claim this area for Britannia?"
Schneizel thought his Yeoman's question over for a few moments before a scowl flashed across his expression and then faded to his practiced smile. "No Kannon. Zero gave explicit orders to me that I was to only secure the area and assist the UFN team. I am not to take possession of the Sakuradite."
"I understand sir," Kannon said dejected.
The Thor flew on over the vast expanse of the Antarctic ice shelf as the rays of the sun illuminated the snow-covered Transantarctic Mountains. The large aerial ship weaved its way above the ice-capped peaks of the great stone sierras as the crew maneuvered her towards a large basin-valley in the middle of the range.
The great metal vessel swerved over into a position over the center of the icy expanse and hovered. As soon as she came to a complete stop the outlined central portion of the craft's lower hull popped open slightly creating a vapor caused by the warm air of the ship mixing with the frigid atmosphere of the region. A long-rectangular shaped elevator-platform descended from the ventral hull of the mighty vessel via four long hydraulic lift cylinders to the snow-covered ice below.
Upon the top of this drop-elevator platform was a G-1 command base, and a contingent of two-hundred KnightMare frames comprised of mostly RPI-13 Southerland and RPI-209 Glousters. These KnightMares were armed with a plethora of mining equipment; from drill-lances, to grappling-harkens, and radiant-heat guns used for melting away ice without damaging things beneath it.
The large force of UFN team members went into action immediately as they broke off into individual units and began boring, melting, and chipping away at the icy surface. Within an hour the UFN force of excavators cleared away an area of ice nearly three-hundred meters wide and fifty deep. They were rapidly nearing the edge of where the Sakuradite deposit was supposed to be.
"Doctor Viviane!" A masculine voice called over the radio to the G-1.
"What is it?" She inquired; her curiosity heightened by the man's excitement.
"We've found something," He radioed back.
"Oh," the Doctor said. "What have you found?"
"I think it's best if you come down here Doctor. I'd rather not talk over an unsecured channel." The man stated with an edge of concern in his voice.
"I see," she replied. "I'll proceed down there immediately."
"Chancellor Schneizel," a female communications officer ventured to interrupt him while he spoke private words to Kannon who currently stood by his side at the commander's station.
Schneizel looked towards the young woman and grinned, "Yes? What is it?"
"Chancellor, I've intercepted a communication between one of the mining teams and Dr. Viviane. It appears they've discovered something under the ice-sheet and she is now currently on site."
"I see," Schneizel hid his irritation at having been disturbed over such a trivial matter. "It's probably just the Sakuradite vein-"
"No sir," the girl cut him off. "They've called in Professor Cornwallis of the UFN archaeological unit and have requested a KnightMare armed with a Maser Vibration Sword."
"An MVS? What would they need that for?" Kannon blurt out in surprise.
"That's a good question," Schneizel stood up from his command chair and addressed his Yeoman, "Kannon, have my personal transport prepared for launch. I'm going down there to see what this is all about."
"Chancellor, shall I have an escort detail go with you?" Kannon was concerned.
"That won't be necessary Kannon. However, you have my permission to launch the Black Knights as a precaution if that will assuage your concerns." Schneizel said as he walked towards the bridge elevator doors. "You're in charge until I get back Kannon."
"Thank you Chancellor." Kannon said. "I'll have the Black Knights launch at once."
"Very well, just be sure to have them sent out to patrol the perimeter of this area." Schneizel smiled. "We wouldn't want to burden them with the boredom of whatever trinkets Dr. Viviane may have uncovered."
"Of course sir," Kannon said with a short bow.
"I hope you had a good reason for dragging me down here," Dr. Viviane said as she disembarked from her Glouster into the large chamber which had been excavated by the mining team with radiant-heat guns.
Professor Cornwallis slid down his machine's egress ladder and joined up with her as quickly as he could.
"Yes ma'am I do," Stated a burly gentleman who greeted her with a quick bow. "I'm Crew Chief Miyazaki, my team and I found something...it's difficult to describe...Perhaps we should just go down and have a look at it."
Dr. Viviane and Professor Cornwallis followed along with the Crew Chief of the UFN team towards the end of the cavern where a spire of bronze-colored metal jutted out of the ice. The metallic cone was large, at least five meters wide and ten meters high, and had an unusual texture; it was smooth like glass. There were no markings or edges of any kind on the thing.
"We tried using the MVS to cut through its surface but whatever it's made off is impervious to our tools and weapons." The Chief explained.
"What do you think Professor Cornwallis?" Dr. Viviane was truly perplexed by the sight of the enigma.
Cornwallis brushed away some of the snow at the base of the spire. "I think this is the top of a much larger structure. It looks like the base is another five meters down."
Dr. Viviane turned to the Chief, "Mr. Miyazaki, how long would it take you to melt away the ice around this spire and reach the base."
The Chief put his gloved hand to the chin of his arctic-weather coat, "About five, maybe seven minutes tops."
Dr. Viviane smiled, "Excellent, get to it as soon as we've cleared the area."
The Yamato no Orochi took off from the Thor's five dorsal KnightMare launch decks to patrol the surrounding mountainside. The five Type-21B transformable Bushido-Frames, two Type-21N transformable Samurai-Frames, and one Type-21O transformable Shogun-Frame flew along in their predetermined flight path via their new graviton-impeller internal-inertia propulsion units (GIPU).
The Type-21 series was a ninth generation transformable KnightMare Frame developed by the UFN Kyoto-House/Zone-India Industries and built under the direction of Chief Frame-designer Rakshata Chawla and her team of experts during the 2020 a.t.b. rearmament program for the reformed Order of the Black Knights. This R&D team based the new design on the Shinkirou and Tristan designs.
The Type-21 was intended to contend with any type of KnightMare, Aerial-warship, or sky-fortress (like the Damocles), that the Order of the Black Knights might encounter. Therefore, the Kyoto-India design and development teams created a new propulsion system for the Type-21, the GIPU, which allows the Type-21 series to travel at supersonic speeds for as long as the frame has power and the KnightMare is capable of trans-atmospheric flight.
Enhanced weaponry like the Blade-Luminous (based off of the Blaze Luminous shield system) and the Omni-directional Enhanced Absolute Protection Territory energy shield system were derived directly from Shinkirou and the Tristan-Divider type KnightMares built during the 2017-18 time period.
"Hey Kallen you have any idea why we're being sent to patrol the outer perimeter?" Gino inquired of over the radio.
"I'm not sure," She told him as they flew over the last of the mountain peaks towards the edge of the Sierras. "But I don't like this."
"Think we should split up just in case?" Gino asked.
"That might not be such a bad idea," Captain Kouzuki agreed as she flipped over to the main radio frequency of the Black Knights. "Okay team, listen up. I want Tamaki and Anya to form up with Gino and me in a diamond formation. Arial, Luke, Shoji, and Isuzu, will form up in the same manner and patrol in a parallel flight path to ours; circling the Thor's outer perimeter. This way if we're engaged by any outside threat they won't surprise all of us at once."
"What? Hey Captain you know there ain't nobody gonna surprise us, we're the original Black Knights," Tamaki boasted over the radio.
Kallen smiled, "I know Tamaki, and we won't get caught with our pants down."
"Dr. Viviane, we've found an entrance!" Chief Miyazaki exclaimed from where they had cleared away more of the thick ice. The spire that rose from the glacial material was much wider at its base and had a slightly larger than man-sized archway that led into the darkened depths of the cone shaped tower.
"There's more underneath this spire." Professor Cornwallis said in awe of the shadow that lay below the ice. "This must be the top of some central building or temple of some kind." He looked out along the walls of ice made by the KnightMares as they had unearthed the bronze cone. "There must be a complex of some sort under here, perhaps even an ancient city."
"How old is it?" Dr. Viviane inquired of him.
"I don't know," the Professor was giddy. "I've never seen architecture like this before anywhere."
"Let's proceed inside," Dr. Viviane said as she took a flashlight from her utility belt. "Chief, you're with the Professor and I, the rest of you stay here." She ordered the team of men that now surrounded the egress.
The trio made their way into the inky blackness of the cylindrical tower only to find it devoid of anything except a bronze circular plate at its center with a podium in the middle.
"What do you think this is?" Chief Miyazaki asked as he examined the top of the pedestal. "Hey there are diamonds on this thing!"
"No Miyazaki, don't touch them!" Professor Cornwallis cried out, but it was too late. The Chief touched one of the crystals and the disc they were standing on immediately dropped downward at an alarming rate.
It fell for minutes.
Finally the circular platform eased to a stop within a chamber lit only by a faint blue light.
"Where are we?" Dr. Viviane queried her companions.
"Hundreds of meters down the tower I would guess judging by the speed with which the plate descended." The Chief said as he looked around the room.
"Good gods, what is that?" Dr. Viviane said as she looked towards a dimly lit corner of the room. There amidst a pile of rubble were the remains of a thing that looked as if it was once both organic and mechanical; a cyborg of some sort but on a massive scale; like a giant KnightMare-Frame.
Professor Cornwallis examined the thing with his flashlight. He let out a gasp, "Hecatonchires, the hundred-handed."
"Come again?" Dr. Viviane asked the Professor.
"The Hundred-handed guardians of Greek legend that supposedly guarded the Gates of Tartarus," the Professor stared at the remains of the beast.
"Who do you think she is?" Chief Miyazaki inquired looking in the opposite direction of the room.
Dr. Viviane and Professor Cornwallis turned to see what the Chief miner was talking about. There upon the far wall incased in a crystalline rectangular shaped capsule, which had numerous tubes and cables running from its top and bottom, was an extraordinarily beautiful woman dressed in what appeared to be a jumpsuit adorned with Greek robes. A wide, flat tiara of gold adorned her head.
"I don't know who she is." The Professor was enthralled, "but there seems to be an inscription on her tiara." He added as he came to within a few feet of the capsule.
"Be careful Professor," Dr. Viviane cautioned him.
"I need to clear this thin layer of ice off to read it," He said as he touched the outer lid.
As soon as he touched the crystalline surface the capsule came to life. The crystal structure of the device liquefied in seconds exposing the woman within.
"Incredible," The Professor said as he leaned in towards the woman. "She is perfectly preserved."
"Professor I think we should get out of..." Dr. Viviane started to say but was startled by the woman sitting upright. Her eyes opened to reveal their dark blue, almost violet color.
"Χαιρετισμούς, είμαι Σθεννώ" The woman said with a smile.
"What did she say?" Chief Miyazaki managed to ask.
"It was Greek. I believe it translates; Greetings, I am Sthenno." The Professor said in amazement.
The woman took hold of his arm.
Professor Cornwallis shrank back from her iron grip but could not free himself from her. In seconds a look of recognition crossed her face.
"I see I am the first to wake," the woman said in English with a thick foreign accent as if the words were clumsy on her tongue. "Thank you Professor for translating your language to me through your mind, it is much appreciated. However, since you and your companions are not gods I'm afraid I'm going to have to enslave you."
"Enslave us!" Miyazaki laughed. "How the heck are you going to enslave us?"
A pair of sigils appeared in Sthenno's eyes as Dr. Viviane gasped in horror, "GEASS!"
End Turn One,
Next; Turn Two: Rookies