Code Geass: The Black Empire
Chapter 1: The Liberation of Tokyo
Smoke rises from the deep, blotting the sun with its near ink-like message. Fires sparked, buildings torn down and soldiers cried out. There were only two reasons why a soldier would shout out this pleasingly into a battlefield. 1: would be because his commander ordered an all out attack against the enemy. 2: Victory was achieved.
And indeed victory was achieved. For when the smoke had finished and the skies cleared once more the soldiers of the Black Knights let out a jubilant cry of triumph that would've rocked the very foundation of Japan itself. The battle that they had fought was probably the toughest one they had ever encountered but nonetheless… with vigilance, honor and pride of having the blood of the Japanese running through their veins the soldiers had achieved total dominance against their Britannians occupants.
Though the soldiers fought their hardest… they all had to admit that none of it could've been achieved without the aid of their wise and powerful leader, Zero. The very man who did not just brought the freedom of Japan, but the downfall of the Britannians most powerful military commander, Cornelia Li Britannia.
(Tokyo Government Bureau) (Commander's private quarters)
Zero wasted no time in making the old Britannian government bureau to become the Black Knight's new headquarters. With the amount of resources, technology and information lying in this very structure, he found it to be an ideal place where he could stage his next plan to destroy Britannia. Upon his arrival at the bureau, Zero had taken the remaining Britannian military leaders inside of the building, prisoners and disabled its defenses before it could damage his army any further.
The fight for Tokyo was a costly one, and one that nearly crippled the Black Knights to a near irrecoverable state. But now that victory was in their hands all they could do was brace themselves for what was next to come.
Fortunately when the Black Knights took over they were amazed to the amount of resources that their enemies left behind for them to use. But Zero had no interest in petty Knightmares or equipments that they found. Instead, the cloaked man had found only one thing that could peak his interest… and that… was information. Luckily for him, the room which Cornelia used as her personal room had an abundance of such information. More than enough to satiate his thirst for now.
He knew that taking the government bureau would spark instigation all over the country and he loved it when he was right. When word came of the fall of this bureau to the Britannian forces, their chain of command was crippled and only a few pockets of resistance remained.
As Zero scrolled through Cornelia's personal computer, he discovered many documents which related to his homeland's security. But what bothered him at the moment was that he knew that Britannia would not allow one of their 'Areas' to secede without a fight. A counterattack was inevitable and he could only hope that the forces he had now would be enough to hold them back.
"Zero?" a knock came through the door which broke the boy from his trance. He recognized it as Kallen's voice, his ace pilot. "Zero, are you in there?"
Zero grabbed his mask and placed over his head before signaling her to enter. "Come in…" the girl entered upon his call. "You wanted something?"
"I just… wanted to give you an update on things" she stuttered for the first time in awhile. No matter how many times Kallen looked at the man called Zero, she could never place this strange feeling that she had in her heart. The leader gave her a positive sound which signaled her to continue. "Um… Tohdoh and his men have secured the airfield just as you requested and have already returned. He's waiting for you at the conference room. He stationed Chiba and Senba there to await the arrival of the Kanto Shoguns. Tamaki has secured the warehouse area where the illegally smuggled Knightmares were stored" she paused for awhile hinting Zero that there was a problem.
"A pause in your briefing states that there is a problem" Zero analyzed correctly.
"Well… during the occupation of the school… Ohgi was… shot…"
"Ohgi?" Zero quirked a brow. "Yes, I heard about it. I doubt he's dead…"
"No… he's injured at the moment but he won't be seeing action for awhile"
"I see…" Zero took a small breath of relief which Kallen could not hear. "Too bad… I hope he gets better soon. Anything else?"
"Well… Diethard has secured the media sector just as you requested. He just arrived a few minutes ago with all these camera equipments"
"Good. Then we are ready to begin our declaration of independence" Zero turned away from her and gazed at the information in the computer. "By the way. You should probably get your Guren repaired as soon as possible"
"Huh?" Kallen looked dumbfounded. "Why? Didn't we just win?"
"Wrong!" Zero snapped at her which made the girl jerk a bit. "You think taking the government bureau was a victory? No. It was only the appetizer for the main course. The climax of this revolution hasn't even begun yet"
"A rebellion and a resistance are nothing more but a nuisance to the empire of Britannia. If we are to defeat them, then we must show them that we are determined. A revolution is what we need if we are to inspire everyone on this planet"
"Tell me something Kallen" Zero cut her off. "When you first fought Britannia at the Shinjuku ghetto, what did you make of them? (Huh?) Back then you barely even had a Knightmare to pilot and the only reason that you were able to put the enemy to a stalemate was because of my intervention and the Sutherlands I supplied you with. But even so… if I had not done that then what do you think may have happened? (Well… uh…) You would've been killed by Jeremiah and his ilk in that Glasgow"
"But what does have to do with…"
"Don't you see?" Zero interrupted her again. "When you saw the number of their vast army there is only one thing that clicks into your head: This enemy cannot be beaten. There are simply too many and even if you destroy ten Knightmares, the Britannians can simply replace them with new ones from their factories in just three minutes. Indeed… when a soldier realizes this they would immediately say that Britannia is a beast that cannot fall"
"But you proved that it can!"
"Exactly! Which is why I am calling this a revolution! With this act, I can show the world that it can happen. That Britannia is not the invincible nation that we thought it was. Britannia can be beaten and together we will show it!"
"Zero…" Kallen could not even begin to connect the awesome display that the man was showing her. Her leader was and still is the great man that she met in the outbound train on Lubline 5 that evening many months ago. His words were enough to move her and even though that she maybe over-exaggerating this, she actually believed that his words alone would be able to move even mountains if he really wanted to.
"Oh save it…" Kallen nearly yelped when a voice perked from behind. She turned around and saw C2 leaning on the slide door hugging tightly on her Cheese-kun. "Can you save all that bravado of yours for the cameras?"
Zero chuckled as he readjusted his mask. "I guess you're right. I must save what little strength I have left for the right moment. This battle is really wearing me out"
"Why don't you get some sleep then?" the immortal witch suggested. "You haven't had any sleep for two days straight now, haven't you?"
Of course this news alerted Kallen. "What?!" her eyes darted to Zero. "You haven't slept for two days?"
"I had to make some final adjustments to my plan" he said to her plainly as ever. "Though I have to admit that I did not expect Euphemia to act that way…" C2 noted that his hands were shaking a bit, Kallen however remained as ever oblivious to the truth.
"Say… Zero…" Kallen perked. "What did you and Euphemia discussed about? (Hmm?) Back before the massacre, you and Euphemia hid from the crowd. What did you talk about?"
Zero paused for a moment but was prepared for the question nonetheless. He knew that his crew would ask that but never expected it to be this soon. "I'll be honest with you… I was actually planning to join the Japan Special Zone" he lied but he held his form tightly with his unmatched acting skills. "But when Euphemia learned of my intentions, her soldiers ambushed me at the meeting room. I was able to escape but not without injuries"
"Injury?" Kallen's face shrieked. "You weren't shot were you!? Let's take you to the infirmary. They'll have you patched up in a minute and…"
"Relax" C2 groaned inwardly. "It's not like he's gonna die anytime soon"
"But still…" but before they could continue the argument any further, Diethard appeared out back with an excited face.
"Zero!" he exclaimed with a wide smile. "We're ready for you. Would you like anything else for me to do?"
"No… that would be all for now" Zero then closed the computer and locked it with a security code. Cornelia's password was easy to crack compared to all the other computers he had to hack in his time with the Black Knights. "Have Tohdoh and the other officers and the six houses of Kyoto ready at the conference room. I'll be with them shortly"
"I'll go on ahead then" Kallen bowed lowly but was quickly stopped by Diethard. "Hey what the?"
"I'm sorry but I can't allow you to go to the meeting room"
"What!? Hey don't push it with me! You may be a member of the Black Knights but I'm still Zero's personal guard!"
"Be that as it may, I cannot allow you to ruin Zero's image with that clothes you're wearing" the media man gestured to the pilot's dirty suit. "I don't really care much if you're Zero's personal guard but I will not allow you to bring him down just because you forgot to clean up. You should take C2 here for example. She's also a pilot but at least she's clean"
C2 looked at her pilot suit and quickly realized how clean she was. Her white battlesuit remained sparkly and not a trace of dirt could be found. Unlike Kallen, hers were filled with several stain of mustard and bread crumbs. One could guess that she had recently came from the cafeteria for a victory feast. "Hmm… I can't believe I'm saying this, but Diethard's got a point there Kallen" she teased grinningly. "You are a mess. You look like you've been playing in the mud"
"Grr why you…!"
"Enough" Zero's voice silenced any other argument. "The more we bicker, the stronger Britannia will grow. Diethard, go and double check everything before I arrive. C2, you go with him. Kallen, you get yourself cleaned up. You can use the bathroom here" he gestured to the private restroom which was made for the commander only. Kallen's face flushed upon hearing this. She never thought that Zero would be upset just because she didn't look decent. "Though as much as I want to disagree with Diethard and C2, they have a point. I can't let you ruin my image" he said in a slightly teasing tone.
"Z… Zero!" Kallen was now fuming but Zero chuckled away leaving the girl behind to let her steam cool off. "Hmph… I never thought he had a knack for teasing" not wanting to ruin the image of their great leader, Kallen decided to follow instructions and get herself cleaned up. She washed the dirt off her suit and fixed her hair neatly behind her back. The water in the building was refreshing but what surprised her more was the size of the bathroom itself.
She only expected to see a toilet and such but when she got there she was greeted with a queen sized tub and a shelf dedicated to perfumes and all sorts of beautification products. This made her wonder how much royalty and elitist spend just for caring of their own appearance. She wondered if Zero would mind if she used any of them. Not that she knew Zero used any of the colognes or any of that matter. But it just peeked her curiosity on the man even more.
As her eyes darted towards the tub again, she couldn't help but get a feel of the lukewarm water that was prepared there. "Haaa… I can't seem to remember the last time I had a warm bath" she mumbled in her head. "Ever since I joined the Black Knights… everything has been going down the dumps for me. The last time I even had a proper meal was before we even left for the Special Zone"
But just as she was imagining herself having a nice and normal breakfast meal back in her home. Another thought came into mind when she began to imagine herself having company in the dining table. But it wasn't just any company that she expected. In fact… the person she imagined herself sitting across that dining table… was Zero.
With the masked man's face popped into her imagination, Kallen nearly flipped herself. "W… what!?" she nearly screamed at the top of her lunges. "Get a grip Kallen, you're losing it" she told herself while slapping her cheeks. "You just haven't had a good sleep, that's all" her eyes then darted towards the queen size tub for the third time. How she wished that she could lie there and let the water take all her stress away. But once she began imagining herself in that tub, she began to imagine Zero sharing the tub with her with his mask still on. "Whaaa!" it was then the girl fell flat on her back.
"Oww…" the ace pilot of the Black Knights groaned. "My head…" she was glad that no one else was in the area or else she would never live this down. Not wanting to let her imagination get the better of her, she quickly washed her face again just to get the tired look off her eyes. But just right before she left the restroom, she noted a handkerchief sitting idly on the shelf. It did not seem to be a part of the rest room because of its odd colors. In fact it almost looked like someone left it here.
It was then she remembered about this handkerchief.
"This is… Zero's…" she recalled seeing him with this handkerchief a few weeks ago during the battle of Kyushu. Before Zero departed off to aid Suzaku Kururugi in his Gawain, Kallen recalled seeing this very same handkerchief in the man's possession. "It really is…"
But then her mind was in conflict. What was she doing? If she took it then her pride and dignity would be severely damaged beyond repair. If anyone found out about this they would regard her as some sort of paparazzi or crazed fan of Zero or something. "I should probably go" but her actions was quick to conflict against her words as her hand tried to reach out for the object. "N… no! I shouldn't…" she tried to pull her other hand but it was futile. Upon grabbing the said piece of cloth, she immediately put it on her nose and sniffed it.
The smell in the handkerchief was almost like smelling weed but except it was more intoxicating and a lot more dangerous to her health. But Kallen couldn't help it. The smell of Zero was thick in this cloth and the hint of cologne that he used was very feint. Nonetheless it aroused her… more effectively than any medicine and more intoxicating than the drug, Refrain itself.
"My my… I should say that I didn't expect this" Kallen jerked her eyes in horror towards the door. She never expected anyone to come into Zero's room without his consent but little did she realize that the green haired figure looking at her was not one who would take his words seriously. "So this is how far the mighty ace pilot of the Black Knights has fallen eh? I have to say that I am quite humored"
"C… C2!?" Kallen panicked as she had no time to hide the piece of cloth in her hand. "W… what are you doing here!?"
"I came to pick up Cheesy" she gestured to her stuffed toy. "But who would've thought that I would find something a lot cheesier than this?" her eyes then tightened into a sly and teasing one. "I never thought that the great pilot of the Guren would be such a perverted woman"
Kallen waved the hankie which seemed to be a solid form of evidence. "T… this isn't what it looks like!"
"Oh but I believe that it is what it looks like" the witch said slyly again. "Look at you. Just one sniff from that thing and you're all sweaty again. I must say, wouldn't it be better to smell the whole thing rather than that thing? Come now. Zero is waiting for us at the conference room. Oh… and please try not to have your period during his presence. We wouldn't want to ruin his image now, do we?"
Kallen faced turned to the color of her hair when C2 mentioned that. If Zero found out about this there's no telling what he would do. Would he avoid her? Dismiss her as his personal guard and replace her with another? The mere thought of it dreaded her feelings down to her bones.
(Twenty minutes later) (Conference room)
One would not be able to speak his mind if he or she was to be in the presence of the conference room that early morning. A normal civilian would faint upon seeing the sight before them. Soldiers would stand in attention, hard and stiffened like stone, servants would bow in respect and nobles and bureaucrats would tremble in excitement and fear. Heck even the gods would take their time off their seats of power just to watch this little scene play off.
The square table in which many Britannian leaders and commanders have sat and discussed various topics of Area 11 was now firmly in the hands of the Black Knights and their supporters. Never before had there been such a gathering of Japan's most important individuals on one table, since the fall of the Kururugi regime seven years ago when Britannia invaded Japan and made it into their satellite colony.
On one side of the table stood the members of the six houses of Kyoto, a secret society that had supported many resistance groups throughout Japan. With them of course were Taizo Kirihara and Kaguya Sumeragi who in fact were the two large supporters of the Black Knights. And on the other side of the table, stood the leaders of the Black Knights Military forces, Kaname Ohgi, Kyoshiro Tohdoh and the members of the Four Holy Swords.
And finally, at the center of it all, on the third and final corner of the table stood one person who gathered everyone here.
Zero… the mysterious leader of the Black Knights and the liberator of Japan. Behind him stood none other than his personal companions, Kallen Kouzuki and C2 who were among the first to be in his revolutions.
When the camera started rolling, Zero stood from his seat to prepare for another one of his awe inspiring speeches. With his words alone he was able to move the hearts and minds of the people. With his mind he would be able to topple nations down. And with his hands raised into the air, the entire nation held their breath.
"People of Japan… and all those who are oppressed by the Empire of Britannia!" he began with his booming voice as usual. "Long have we fought… day by day all through the struggles. Long have I waited for Britannia to see the errors of their ways. But that hope was in vain… by the act of the cowardly princess, Euphemia Li Britannia with the massacre at the Japan Special Zone! With that… it proves that what Britannia intentions are! They are not satisfied with conquering one nation… but instead… to make it as their own by wiping all those who deemed unworthy!"
Kallen flinched for a split second upon hearing his voice echoing loudly through the hall. As she looked on both sides, she could see journalists, from independent media groups listening intently while their hands and fingers trembled with excitement. Those who were writing wiggled and smiled with glee, barely even able to compose themselves in front of the man. Those who were recording couldn't even remain still for a split second.
"I stand now before you… at the government bureau of Britannia in which was the symbol of their dominance over Japan. With this movement, I hereby officially… declare our independence from Britannia! With this… you have succeeded in our exodus. With this… you have regained our pride! With this… you have once again regained your title as Japanese!"
A loud roar could be heard from the outside of the building. Kallen had to guess that Tamaki and those remaining were watching and listening to this speech with no interruptions. Upon listening to their cheer she could not help but smile.
"People of Japan! I ask you now… lift your head once more out of the shadow! Stand and gaze proudly at the sun in which your land was named after! Stand… and shout out till your heart's content. You have earned your freedom! Be proud to call yourself a Japanese!" and with that, the conference ended with a loud cheer from the outside.
When all the mass media group had left with their thirst for Zero's prowess quenched, the Black Knights decided to prepare for their confrontation with the situation at hand. With Japan now liberated, the people began to ask what to do next. Who will lead them and what do they intend to do after all of this?
"Well…" Zero remarked. "With the mediocre task done, let us get on to business shall we?" the other officers of the Black Knights nodded in agreement. "Kyoshiro, what's the status of our forces?"
The Lt. Colonel tensed slightly to the mention of his name. Though he may appear calm on the outside, the man could never get used to Zero's voice. "We took heavy casualties when we besieged the government bureau" he began with a calm collected voice. "Over fifty of our Knightmares were destroyed and a large number of vehicles as well. We set up medical facilities in various areas treating the injured and collecting bodies. Though we've managed to salvage some of our equipments we've completely exhausted nearly all of our resources"
"We were able to capture a few Knightmares that were stored in the warehouse as you ordered" Chiba continued for him. "The supplies in the building will be able to last us a couple of week but it's bound to run out sooner or later"
"We'll have to find a way to produce our own resource soon" Ohgi placed a few documents on the table. "I was able to locate several factories that are still in working conditions and a field hospital where we store our wounded"
"Food, water and medical supplies are what we need now" Tohdoh added. "We need to gather support of the people and to do that we will need abundance of resources available"
"The six houses of Kyoto will be able to handle that" Kaguya said suddenly which surprised everyone. "Now that Britannia is gone, we can finally focus on agriculture and reconstruction again rather than supporting military activities"
Tohdoh's face quickly beamed with a hint of a smile. "Then, will you be able to support the entire country then?"
"Society will have to be brought back first" Taizo reasoned. "If we simply give then we will surely be the ones who lose the most. We can supply at least 60 percent of the nation's population with food and other needs but to do that we will have to expand our agriculture areas and irrigation"
"As much as I would like to discuss the future with you gentlemen… I believe there is a much urgent task that we must secure" Zero called in to the attention of his soldiers. "Tohdoh, have the weak and the wounded transferred to Kyoto and bolster our defenses in Tokyo. (What!?) We may have won the battle but not the war. Just because we defeated one enemy doesn't mean it is done with us"
"Ridiculous" Chiba motioned. "We defeated a large bulk of the Britannian forces. There's no way they can…"
"You really are simple minded" Zero snorted. "Our enemy is a nation that governs 1/3 of the world's population. If you think that they have been beaten back then surely you are mistaken. Britannia is like a hydra. Cut one head off and three more comes to take its place"
"But surely you don't think…" that was as far as Chiba got when the door to the conference room opened. A Black Knight soldier rushed in to the center of the open side of the table and lowered his head slightly to Zero.
"Commander Zero…" he panted through breaths. "The enemy! It's just as you said… the Britannians are coming!" every member inside the room were quick to face the soldier in horror. "A large cohort had just crossed into the Pacific Ocean and are making their way here!"
"Tch…" Zero grunted. "They moved faster than I expected. What are their numbers?"
"Three battalions from what the unit you sent to the Pacific reported, sir" he answered.
"I… impossible" Chiba muttered in shock. "How can the Britannian recover so fast?"
"A counterattack…" Tohdoh gritted his teeth. "These Britannians don't really spare any resource now, don't they?"
"That only goes to show how powerful the Britannians are" Zero commented before he issued his orders. "Alright. It appears that the battle for Japan has not yet ended. Prepare all forces. We march to battle!"
"But Zero!" Ohgi stated. "Our forces are a complete mess. We barely have enough troops to defend the area"
Zero eyed him for a moment before turning his attention to the Lt. Colonel. "Tohdoh… how many soldiers do we have now? Combined with the numerous resistance groups, they should sum up to the amount of thousands I presume"
"Yes" the man answered. "We're distributing weaponries to them as we speak. However I doubt we'll be able to match against three battalions"
"The enemy outnumbers us 10 to 1 but that doesn't mean that the battle has already been decided. With my strategies and your courage… anything is possible" Zero then ordered the guards to bring a country map of Japan and placed it on the wall. "Alright… listen up. The battle we fight now will probably be the toughest one up to date. I assume that the Britannian forces that had come to reoccupy Japan will be better equipped to deal with ground forces since they know that we have almost no air support"
"We're basically just grinders" Tohdoh grumbled knowing that Zero was correct. Their army did only consist of Sutherlands, Glasgows, Burais and vehicles. They did have a few ships but a small fleet like that would be no match for the enemy's armada.
"First things first" Zero continued. "The members of the six houses of Kyoto, along with the wounded and the weak are to be transferred to Mt. Fuji base. There they will be treated and be kept safe from all harm while we, the Black Knights will mount a full scale defensive battle against Britannia. Our numbers are limited and so are our reinforcements. Aerial power is almost none and to fight them on land to sea will be pure suicide. If the creation United States of Japan is to succeed then we will have to destroy the enemy force completely"
A murmur of discontent among the officers began to wonder how they would be able to pull off that kind of a stunt. They were outnumbered, outgunned and now… they're going to be outmaneuvered.
"Zero…" Kallen spoke up a little nervous. "I don't mean to be rude but we're facing against a legion of enemies. Even if we did resist, wouldn't they overwhelm us?"
"That's right" Ohgi agreed. "We don't have enough bullets for them. Even if we used one bullet for each soldier they'll still be more of them"
"You speak as if you have already lost" Zero looked at them slightly disappointed.
"It's called reality check" Chiba spoke to him bitterly. "Our forces dwindled thanks to the siege of the government bureau. Now we're only at 25 percent of our strength even with the combined might of the resistance group. And to fight air units is almost impossible. Not all of us here are visionaries like you Zero"
"Visionary?" Zero laughed. "You insult me with such words, Nagisa Chiba. Hehehehe…"
"That's because we face reality Zero" Chiba added, her words still as blunt as usual. "During the battle of Itsukushima, we faced the enemy on equal ground even without Knightmares but going through a defense against them in Tokyo is pure suicide. There's a difference an unwinnable battle and a lost battle"
"Chiba!" Zero finally snapped at her. She dared to use Tohdoh's remark against him. "Tell me something…… what is the difference between the war we fight now and the war you fought seven years ago? (Huh?) Answer the question. What differences are there to the battle now and the battle then?"
The girl fell into silence for a few seconds before finally answered. "We had no Knightmares back then"
"That's equipments which is based only on the technology of the country" Zero cut her. "I asked you for the difference"
"Our forces were relatively smaller than…"
"Even now our numbers are small" Zero again cut her off. "I asked you… WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?" the girl fell silent as if the man in front of her had turned into a giant and herself turn into a mouse. Seeing that she wasn't going to respond, Zero decided to answer for her. "Do you know why the resistance in Area 11 is more intense than that of any other Areas in Britannia? It is because Japan surrendered to their enemies before exhausting all of its military strength. In you, you carry the hope of being part of the miracle that took place Itsukushima. I'll admit… we do not have enough resource to fend off the enemy, but it is here that I give you your chance to redeem yourself"
"Yes…" the Black Knight leader answered. "Seven years ago Japan surrendered when its military power was still able to fight back. But you surrendered then when Prime Minister Kururugi was assassinated on the day he announced a do or die resistance"
The other members widened their eyes at this. "What?" Asahina gasped. "Prime Minister Kururugi… was assassinated?"
"What proof do you have of this?" Senba asked looking a bit baffled. "It was said that Prime Minister Kururugi committed suicide, was it not?"
"Colonel Tohdoh" Zero turned to the man. "You knew Genbu Kururugi personally, did you not? I remember someone telling me that you came to his household personally. Did he seem like a man who would go back on his word?"
The colonel paused… unsure on how to answer that question. As he looked back during the time of Japan's golden age, he remembered on how he met the Prime Minister himself and what kind of a man he was. "No…" he answered finally. "Though Genbu may not be the strongest fighter he held his honor. I never really believed that he would commit suicide after making that speech"
"Then we are in agreement" Zero chuckled. "So here you are now, standing in the same situation 7 years ago. Will you honor his last request… of fighting until the last man standing?"
The colonel only grinned as he looked back at Zero with a determined face. "So that's what you're saying aren't you…? The difference between back then and now…"
"Oh… so you understand after all" Zero grinned as well. "Yes. That's correct. The only significant difference back then was ME"
With this knowledge in mind, Tohdoh couldn't help but chuckle. Once he recomposed himself, he lowered his head slightly to the masked man and showed a hint of a smile cross through his face. "What are my orders… Zero…?"
"A simple one…" Zero motioned to the map. "It's either we live in shackles or die with honor…" with everyone's attention now fully focused on him, C2 couldn't help but laugh inwardly to herself. The boy had a knack of twisting information and placing the assassination of Kururugi right there and now was an excellent move in his favor. He lied all the way here… and a single truth wasn't going to ruin his image one bit.
"Hmm…" the immortal witch smiled. "This really is getting interesting…"
"Alright…" Zero began his mission briefing to the group. "The enemy may outnumber us but they do not have the forces needed to take the entire country. Their mission is to restore stability to the nation and lower the Japanese people's spirit by retaking important locations. They will undoubtedly try to retake three key points"
"How much time do we have?" Tohdoh questioned.
"Seven days" Zero answered with a small but stern voice. "Ten days if the weather proves to be in our favor. But once they enter Japanese water territory they will attacks these areas. One will be Osaka, which will be used as their base to forward their campaign westward. Second will be Tokyo since we have one of their royal family members, Princess Cornelia and the government bureau. Third would be the port at Kanagawa in which to be used as their foothold on Japan. The Black Knights will begin preparations in defending these three areas with all of our might"
"Sir!" the group barked in unison.
"Right then. Tohdoh, you take the majority of our forces and head to Osaka" Zero pointed at the map. "Evacuate the city to Kyoto and strengthen its defenses in anyway you can. You may absorb any resistance member you find. We'll need all the resources we can pool up. You may also take the Four Holy Swords with you"
"Ohgi, you will take your unit along with the G-1 mobile base to Kanagawa and set up defenses there. The city was long since abandoned so you don't need to worry about collateral damage. Kallen will accompany you on this mission"
"As for me… I will remain here with whatever forces that remains" the group looked to him again with a startled face. "The main bulk of the Britannian force will probably be paratroop here and I have a good feeling that they will drop in Knightmares, and all sorts of powerful weapons against this place"
"Wait a minute!" Kallen spoke out. "If you're going to make a stand with the biggest group, then at least let me stay with you, you'll be outgunned the moment you start fighting" she reasoned well knowing the defenses of the city. "My Guren alone can hold a dozen of them off"
"The battle that will take place in Tokyo will be from the air Kallen" Zero explained. "The Guren Mk-II was specifically designed to fight in close combat, which is exactly why I am sending you with Ohgi since most of the troops he's going to face are land based units. Other than your Slash Harkens and your grenade launcher your aerial capabilities are nothing. You will be most effective there"
"Then why not equip the Guren with a FLOAT system?"
"Impossible" came Rakshata's voice as she entered the room. "The FLOAT system doesn't match with the Guren's specs and even if I could make one for you, it would take me at least a week or two to create one"
"If there are no more objections then I would like to begin the plan immediately" Zero stated again with his voice ever so loudly. "Gather your men and move out when you are ready. Contact me if there should be any changes in the plan. Dismiss" and with one salute, the members of the Black Knights were dismissed.
Upon leaving the room, Zero was immediately followed by Kallen and C2 through the hallway. They later arrive at the hanger bay where the captured Sutherlands were being repainted and refitted to the Black Knight's purpose. As they looked to the other end of the hanger they could see numerous repair crews moving in to fix the damaged Gawain and Guren that had sustained considerable amount of damage. Even though they were only but few of the specially made frames, they were not invincible. Zero knew this through experience fighting in Burais.
Kallen herself could not believe what she was seeing. A few months ago she was managing a small resistance group in the ghettos fighting with only very limited resources. Back then whenever they had a vehicle they would be lucky just to find a mechanic to get it running again but now, they had an army at their disposal. Soldiers running left and right saluting at them at the same time. Back then they would have a hard time just smuggling in weapons and ammo into the ghettos, but now… Knightmare frames and heavy artillery weapons were being shipped in without one's notice.
She even had a hard time believing it herself. One moment she was a small time terrorist fighting the Britannians with an assault rifle and now she was renowned as the Guren pilot… Zero's most trusted soldier and the Red Lotus or so they say.
As she thought about the changes in her life, she didn't notice Zero had already gone off to see the repairs being done on the Gawain. "Ah!"
Zero observed the maintenance being done on his frame. Not only was this Knightmare unique, it was also terrifying due to its size and sheer firepower alone. It was perhaps a giant among giants if one would say so himself.
"It looks like Rakshata spared no expense in making the Gawain operational again" Zero muttered.
"That's because you literally used it to destroy the frontlines of the Britannians defenses" C2 recalled the event that happened during the Black Rebellion. It was true. When Zero rushed in to destroy the enemy forces, the Gawain took most of the attacks so that his forces would be able to move in on the government bureau itself. It didn't matter if it was AP bullets or cannon fire, the Gawain did not falter one bit. Instead Zero just increased his attack and began destroying every automated gun turret he could see with his Hadron Cannon.
"Heh… yeah… now I remember" Zero chuckled in remembrance to that faithful event. "That reminds me… what happened to Cornelia? After I defeated her I left her at that replica of Aries Villa"
"She's currently in the jail cell below us" C2 answered. "Her knight Guilford is also with her along with the pilot of the Lancelot, Suzaku and the researchers Lloyd and his assistant" she noted the man making a 'hmph' sound which she could not tell if it was a good or bad one. "Is it alright to keep them alive? I mean a few of them did see your face after all. They could prove to be a nuisance and Suzaku could become a threat if he escapes"
"Though I undoubtedly believe that Cornelia hates me to her very core for killing Euphemia, she proves to be much more useful to me alive" Zero replied holding his form. "And Suzaku is a personal matter. I will deal with him once we've repelled the Britannian counterattack. Also… a royal family as a bargaining tool and bait makes her all the most tasteful"
"Bait?" Kallen caught their conversation just right at the very end. "What do you mean, bait?"
Seeing that she caught wind of his hand he decided to come clean. "The reason why the Britannian main force is coming here is not necessarily to capture the government bureau. They know that I have Princess Cornelia here with me so it makes this city all the more attractive to their taste and if that is not enough to arouse them, then perhaps my presence here might nab their attention"
C2 made a face. "It looks like you're making yourself a target. Do you expect to live through this battle?"
"Of course…" he answered slyly.
"Then why don't you make me join you!?" Kallen begged. "If they see me in another unit they'll probably be suspicious. If I stay here they'll know that you are here"
"We've discussed this already Kalllen" Zero reasoned. "Besides… the Gawain will already be proof of my presence here"
"But if you remain here you'll be isolated from the others! You won't have enough reinforcements to hold off their main force. Please, you're the reason why I'm still alive. Let me protect you"
"Kallen…" Zero looked at her. "If you like, I can give you another reason to survive this battle. (Huh?) The purpose of the Zero squad was to protect me, but at the same time it is to obey my commands only. But for you… you have a reason to come back"
"A reason… to come back?"
"Yes…… and here… I give you that reason…" he handed her a small object in what appeared to be a photograph. When Kallen glanced at the person who was in the photo she realized that it was…
"Yes" Zero nodded. "Mrs. Kouzuki was found in an intern prison during the attack in Tokyo. I ordered her release and she is now currently being safely transported to the Safe Zone in Kyoto"
"The Japan Special Zone" C2 clarified. "The six houses of Kyoto have made it their personal base to assist the people. They're also trying to help those who were wounded during the massacre"
"I also hear that they have discovered a cure for Refrain as well" Zero added making Kallen beam. "I gave the order personally that she gets special treatment so the next time you meet her, she'll be on her two feet"
"My mother…… is alright…" a drop of tear began to form at the corner of Kallen's eyes as she finally managed to sing all the information in. Her mother who she thought that she would never see again in twenty years was alive and kicking and… she was going to be cured from the effects of that accursed Refrain. "I… I'm sorry… it seems like I have some dust in my eyes"
"Of course……" Zero smiled. "Now listen to me Kallen. This is my order to you……" he paused for a moment giving the girl a moment to let out a sob. "You must return alive. Not just for me but for your mother as well. And I'm certain that she would want to see you too"
"Yes… yes sir!" Kallen saluted while her tears broke through.
But just as they were having a peaceful moment, a Black Knight soldier came through. "Commander Zero" he saluted. "We have a situation sir! A large number of Britannian Knightmares have been sighted on the ruins of the city outskirts!"
"What!?" Zero's eyes widened. "Have they begun their counterattack already?"
"No sir. Colonel Tohdoh believes that they may be the remnants of the Britannian forces. Tamaki's unit is on standby just outside of the city along with twelve units"
"Remnants eh?" Zero scoffed. "These insects just don't know when to surrender. Prepare the Guren and the Gawain for combat. We'll want to limit the amount of damage to our forces to as little as possible. Kallen…?"
That one single word was all that was needed to describe the outskirts of Tokyo city. Buildings and bridges were tumbled down to one another and the very structure that held the city together was the very same thing that caused it to crumble into the earth. Skyscrapers and office towers intertwined with one another making it impossible for people to travel without risk. But on the outskirts of these ruined buildings, a single patrol of Sutherlands were making their way to a thick line of Black Knight defenses.
The small band of twenty Sutherlands was led by a unit similar to their own painted in blue. As they approach the defense lines they were immediately greeted by a small firearm from a Glasgow.
"Whoa what the!?" the leader of the unit stopped. "All units halt and take cover!" he ordered in which the troops immediately obeyed. "This is commander Elie Deledantes of the 5th regimental guard, Titans. I demand to know who opened fire!"
"Well well well, look at this" Tamaki smirked in his frame. "Looks like we got ourselves some Britannian pretty boys! If you came to retake this place kid then you'll have a fight on your hand! This territory now belongs to the Black Knights, get ready to rock!"
"Black Knights?" the boy known as Elie recognized the name. "Wait a minute! We didn't come here to fight!"
"Like we'll trust the word of a Britannian!" and without any warning, Tamaki rushed towards the blue Sutherland with his troops. "Take this!"
"Damn it!" not wanting to damage either unit, Elie maneuvered his unit back while signaling the others not to interfere. "This guy is no joke. He's got the spirit… but not the techniques" he then began dodging the bullets being fired at him. "Please, hold your fire. I simply came to talk!"
"The time for talk is over Britannian!"
"Damn… there's no reasoning with this guy" seeing now that the man was just a muscle head who uses his fists to settle things, Elie decided to counterattack. Using the Sutherland's speed and limited agility, he tackled Tamaki's Glasgow down to the ground using his shoulder and disarming it in a literal form. "I have taken your arms. You now stand no chance in fighting me"
But as always the guy was persistent. "Not yet! I'm not giving in!" he began kicking the blue Sutherland with his legs. "I got pride too you know!"
"Persistent!" Elie then de-legged him with his tonfa weapon with relative ease. "There… that should keep you down. Now listen, we're not here to…"
"Tamaki!" just when he was about to explain things, the Guren suddenly appeared before the forward units and nearly caught the blue frame with its gauntlet.
"No way…" Elie's eyes widened. "The Guren…… then that must mean that you're… the Black Knight's Ace"
"So what!? Big deal!" using the Guren's speed, Kallen rushed towards the frame to get it close enough for her radiant wave surger to burst its metallic structure into flames. But to her surprise, the pilot of the frame was a lot more skillful than what she had hoped. "Wha? He's fast for a Sutherland…"
"Please wait. I did not come here to fight. I came to talk with Zero"
"Oh yeah!? And what then? You'll kill him when you get the chance?" Kallen barked. "There's not a damn reason good enough to excuse you!" without warning, the Guren rushed towards Elie again with its fork-knife drawn.
"Damn… are all Black Knights like this?" with a move that would've impressed Tohdoh himself, the pilot of the blue Sutherland tapped the Guren's knife away and punched it straight at the face with a loud clank noise followed after. "This isn't good. She's a tough nut to crack. My mega punch didn't even work"
"You'll have to do better than that to stop me!" Kallen taunted with a grin on her face. "I'm not called Zero's Elite Guard for nothing!" she was about to charge again until a Hadron blast suddenly came in between their fight. "What the!?"
"Kallen, that's enough…" came a voice which made all the Black Knights gasped in shock. Just right above them, riding on the damaged Gawain's unclenched hands bearing the mask of the hero and the mind of a god was none other than Zero himself. The leader of the Black Knights. "The man has not made any violent moves yet and has already made a point that he wishes to see me"
"Zero…" Kallen and Elie muttered in unison.
"You there" Zero pointed at the blue Sutherland's head camera. "You wished to speak with me?"
"Y… yes sir!" Elie stuttered nervously in his cockpit. "I mean yes, Mr. Zero… sir…"
"If you come in peace then come out and meet me face to face. I'd rather talk with someone on the ground rather than on a screen if it can be avoided"
Elie gulped a chunk of his own saliva as he knew that he was right. Zero was indeed the master of words and now he knows why the Black Knights follow him. After taking a small breather, he took out the key to his Sutherland and exited the frame with his hands in the air.
The moment the Black Knight saw his face and his wheat colored hair they immediately knew that he was a Britannian or at least a foreigner in that matter. Kallen saw this and was quick to ready herself just in case if the guy should pull out any brave moves.
"Hmm…" Zero analyzed the boy's features, looking all the way from his head to toe. He was young that much was true, probably the same age as himself. He had one green eye and one blue eye which seemed rather odd. Perhaps a half-blood? "You're a Britannian, are you not?" he asked finally.
"Yes… I am…" the boy admitted. "I am Baron Elie Damon Deledantes of the house of Deledantes of Britannia. I am the commander of the 5th regimental guard of Nagashino, the Titans"
"Regimental guard?" Zero's eyes slightly widened. "Then that means you command the Honorary Britannians military units"
"Yes…" Elie nodded nervously at the man. "I was able to take these Sutherlands with me when the chain of command fell. So I thought I brought them here" he then waved to his companions to exit from their frames exposing their faces to the others. "They are all honorary Britannians from Nagashino and Hokkaido. There are also a few from Chugoku coming here as well"
"And from what you're saying, you wish to join us?" Zero looked skeptical, but he understood well since the trust to Britannians was at an all time low at the moment.
"Yes… sir…" Elie nodded.
"Hmm… then I guess you'll be good for the frontlines then"
"What? Zero!" Kallen barked. "You're letting him join us!? He's a…"
"A valued soldier…" Zero cut her off smiling widely behind his own mask. "Elie Damon Deledantes, a trusted soldier of the Britannian Empire and also a friend to the Numbers in various Areas around the world" he quickly remembered scanning through the boy's name when he was checking out the info in Cornelia's computer. "When the Britannians were about to issue a mass execution of Elevens at the harbor you dismissed your own title as a Knight of Honor to save tens of thousands. You were demoted to the rank of Captain after that event but retained your noble title as Baron. You were then known as the Blue Baron after the battle of Area 12"
To say the least, Elie was surprised on how the man was able to analyze him so quickly. "Y… you know of me?"
"Only quite recently" he admitted. "But if you're going to be fighting on my side, then I welcome you and your regiment" Zero then waved to his soldiers. "Lower your weapons. He's not an enemy"
"Thank you… lord Zero…" Elie bowed deeply before regrouping with his other men with a small smile up his face. But inside of him he was trembling like an ant that had just seen an anteater and lived to tell the tale.
(5 hours later) (Ashford Academy)
After Zero had accepted the Britannian commander, Elie into his ranks he quickly issued the orders to the other officers of their mission. With the coming decisive battle for Japan slowly approaching in seven days time, everyone had been on an uproar. But thanks to Zero's genius tactical plan he was able to get everyone organize within a record time. On the first flight out of the city, the members of the six houses of Kyoto were sent off to the Safe Zone to preserve the power houses of Japan. After awhile, Tohdoh and Ohgi soon left the city to their designated areas to fortify their defenses against Britannia's counter attack. The inevitable battle that will determine the fate of this country was about to take its course.
With everyone working together, Zero decided to visit Ashford Academy in which he personally made sure that a small company of guards were there to keep everyone safe from Japanese who were rampaging through the streets.
"Who goes there!?" one of the guards saw Zero coming. "C… commander Zero! Sir!" he pulled his gun away and saluted.
"At ease…" he stated with a hand gesture. "Has there been any problems?"
"No sir. A few breakouts from the students but no one got hurt, sir. We tried getting to the student council but a maid suddenly leaped out at us and knocked five of our guards down"
"Sayoko…" Zero muttered remembering the ninja maid's name. "Any other problems?"
"Well…" the soldier grumbled. "There was one girl who tried using a Sakuradite bomb using a Ganymede Knightmare frame. She was planning to blow up the entire school but it malfunctioned at the end"
"A Sakuradite bomb?" Zero's eyes widened. "Even a small destabilized Sakuradite can destroy an entire building within a two second time span. To make a bomb would require a substantial amount of that material. Did you happen to get the name of this girl?"
"Yes sir" the man then took out a piece of paper from his pocket which contained several info that he needed. "Nina… Einstein, sir"
"Nina… I should've known" Zero shook his head in disappointment. "You must've lost it when you heard of Princess Euphemia's death. I guess it's my fault huh…"
"We transferred her to the storehouse area" the guard continued. "We stationed two guards with her so that she won't cause anymore trouble. She's been crying ever since"
"I see…" he grumbled. "Can you spare me two guards? (Huh?) There's a student that I wish to see at the moment but I would be more comfortable with two guards with me"
"Uh… of course sir. I'll call the reserve unit right away" and with the man off to radio in the guard station, C2 approached her accomplice.
"Are you planning to visit Nunnally again?" she asked which Zero only replied with a small smirk. "I know that she is blind but you must understand that you cannot turn off your Geass anymore"
"I know… which is why this mask shall remain on me until my mission is complete" Zero sighed. "Normal colored contact lenses won't do a thing so it's useless to try and do so"
"If you want, I can make some special lenses for you. It'll take awhile but it should be able to block your Geass power"
Zero looked back at her… dumbfounded by her offer. "I would appreciate it. But now it's time to make sure that my intentions are given. So long as no one knows who I really am then everything will be fine, but to do that I will have to put on a small act. You stay here. If Nunnally hears your voice then it might cause some complications"
"Now that's rude. Keeping a girl out in the cold while you're out there flirting with the others. How un-gentleman of you. And here I thought that you were raised by nobles"
"I was raised by the coldness and harshness of mankind" Zero humored. "The only love I ever known is from war and battles and the lies from nobility. Zero needs nothing else and therefore he is nothing else…"
"Yes… so is born… Zero" Zero motioned to himself. "Now go back to the government bureau. You can have Sugiyama make you some pizza if you want"
"Very well" C2 ruffed. "I know when I'm not needed. I'll see you then…" with her emotionless reply, the girl departed for the government bureau to begin the preparations of the Gawain.
(Student council room)
"Man, this sucks…" that was the whining voice of the student council member, Rivalz Cardemonde as he slouched idly on the meeting table. "How much longer do they intend to keep us in here? It's already been hours and I could barely even get a wink of sleep with all the shooting last night"
"Don't tell me you need to go to the restroom again" Milly Ashford grumbled while sitting in a very carefree manner. "You went there like four times already"
"Hey when a guy has got to go then he really got to go. Besides that's not the point" the boy gestured to the TV which was surprisingly still being broadcast by a Britannian channel. It was showing how the Black Knights retook Area 11 in one night and the authorities back at the homeland were already preparing to come and forced order back into society. "What do you think will happen to us? I mean… now that the Black Knights has gotten control over the city, they won't need us for long"
"Are you saying that they'll kill us?" Shirley, another member of the student council shrieked in panic. "That's horrible. We didn't do anything wrong!"
"I'm just sticking to reality here" the blue haired boy replied, holding his hand in defense. "I mean look at it. The Black Knights has total control over the city. They got Suzaku and the Honorary Britannians by there side and not to mention the Lancelot too. Leaving us alive will only waste their resources. I wouldn't be surprised if they killed everyone around here"
"Do you really think… that they would do that?" Nunnally trembled in her wheelchair.
"Of course not!" Milly quickly whacked Rivalz with a newspaper roll and rushed to Nunnally's side. "He's just joking. They wouldn't do that. Remember: The Black Knights are the knights of justice. They wouldn't hurt anyone, especially innocent angels like us"
"Yeah" Shirley agreed trying to reassure her. "Besides, we have Sayoko here. She kicked their butts with one hand tied behind her back!" the said maid chuckled at them. But just when they were cooling off with their usual laugh and carefree attitude, the door to the room suddenly whished open revealing four guards that had been patrolling the area. "Ahh!"
When Sayoko caught sight of this she quickly prepared herself for battle with her kunais unclipped from her thighs.
"Alright nobody move!" one of the soldiers barked with his gun pointed at them. "There's someone who wants to see you all!"
"Ahh! Is it time already!?" Rivalz rushed off hiding behind Milly in a very un-heroic manner. He trembled and gasped and prayed hoping that what he said earlier wouldn't come true. Shirley too hid but not without bringing Nunnally with her.
"At ease…" the masked figure that appeared from the other side of the door motioned to his guards to lower their weapons. "We did not come here to kill anyone"
"Zero!!?!" Rivalz was now trembling in his pants as he saw the mighty leader of the Black Knights stand before him. "Oh man… seeing you one time was terrifying, but seeing him again is gonna make me make my pants!"
As Milly saw the state of her student council members, she quickly made a bold face to meet with the leader of the Black Knights. "Yes… you need something, Mr. Zero?" she spoke with her tone a bit on the verge of wavering.
"I simply came to pick up someone" Zero stated in his humored tone. "In fact I was actually looking for your vice-president. You wouldn't happen to know of the name Lelouch Lamperouge now, would you?" Nunnally tensed at the call of her brother's name. She clenched tightly on her wheelchair and tried her best to hide her fear.
"Lelouch?" Shirley recognized it but quickly covered her mouth at the mention of his name.
"Oh… so you do know him" Zero humored. "Do you know of where I may find him? There are some things that I wish to discuss with him"
Milly tensed slightly and gulped. But her voice remained strong. "If you're looking for a hostage then I believe I'll suffice better than a commoner. (Prez!) I am Milly Ashford, the daughter of the house of Ashford"
"Yes, I know of you" Zero nodded. "Your family had been in business of education for many years now if I remember correctly. Your father is the Earl of Hollington correct? I played chess with your uncle a couple of times but never much of a player. Though I agree… you would make a fine hostage in due time" he gently reached out for her chin and noticed how she quivered in his cold bloodied hands. "But alas… Ms. Ashford, your value here cannot even begin to compare to the one I seek. The boy I mentioned is much more important… but I guess you already know that… don't you?"
"He… he knows about Lelouch?" Milly gasped inwardly.
"Ah… my suspicions were correct after all" Zero cooed carefully not wanting to scare the girl off. "He is alive. And if he is alive then that means the 'other' sibling is alive as well.
"He's not here at the moment" Rivalz said suddenly making the guards aim their weapons at him. "I mean uh… he kinda left before the attack began. He might've left already"
Zero looked at him, impressed by his courage. But that was only because the woman he deeply loved was already within his hands. After briefly grinning to himself he let go. "Very well then. I will take your word for it" he said finally after releasing Milly from his grasp. "Ms. Ashford, would you kindly announce this to the entire school? (Huh?) A number of transport vehicles will be making its way here to the academy to ferry you off to a Safe Zone near Mt. Fuji. Apparently Tokyo will become a battlefield again and I have no intentions of letting students lose their lives as collateral. That will be all, thank you for your time" and with that, Zero left the room with his guards not far behind.
Once the sound of their footsteps fell silent on the other side of the door, Milly suddenly collapsed under the weight of her fear and conflicting emotions that swelled up in her belly. She had to swear right then and now that she had never been so terrified in her entire life.
(Government bureau) (Commander's room)
Upon returning to the government bureau, Zero was not surprised to see C2 laying in bed hugging Cheese-kun. What surprised him was the fact that Kallen was still there as well. "Oh…?" he raised a quizzled brow. "Kallen, I thought I told you to go with Ohgi to Kanagawa"
"Rakshata wanted to add some new features to the Guren" she explained. "It shouldn't take more than a few hours to upgrade it so I should be joining Ohgi by this afternoon"
"I see…" Zero seemed satisfied with the answer so he decided to wave it off. "I guess there's no point in reasoning with a woman who based all her attention on pure scientific logic. That reminds me… I need to speak with her after this" he then returned to Cornelia's computer to continue scanning for information about Britannia. With all the wealth of top secret files lurking within that CPU, it became rather more of a hobby than a duty for him. But after he began scanning through several documents, he noticed Kallen's mouth flap open. "I know what you are going to ask, Kallen and my answer is still the same" he cut her off with a gentle voice. "You know very well that your Knightmare won't be much of a use in air to air combat"
"She's being selfish" C2 stated as emotionlessly as ever, earning a look from both of them. "She's worried that you're shunning her off to another area. After being your protector for so long, she must've gotten used in being around you"
"That's not true!" Kallen's face suddenly flushed. "I'm just saying that he needs extra protection seeing that he's going to face half of the Britannian army! He can't possibly do that with only a quarter of our forces!"
"Oh?" the witch gave a sly grin. "Are you sure that doesn't have to do with anything with your personal obsession? Ms. Sniffer…?" with that new nickname she brought up the memories of the handkerchief quickly replayed back into Kallen's mind making her blush even harder than before.
"Sniffer?" Zero questioned.
"It's nothing!" Kallen barked. But just before C2 could continue to add to the ace pilot's embarrassment, a knock suddenly came through the door.
"Who is it?"
"Commander Zero?" from the tone of the voice it appeared to be one of the Black Knight soldiers. "Sorry to disturb you sir, but commander Elie of the Honorary Britannian wishes to see you"
"Elie?" Zero raised a brow. "Well this is a surprise. Send him in" and with that, the blonde boy who the Black Knights knew entered the room with two guns pointed at his back. Judging from the man's facial expression, he certainly wasn't having a comfortable time knowing that his hands were tied together with four pairs of handcuffs and his back soon becoming a living bull's-eye target. "That will be good enough. There's no need for us to act so distrusting. Release his cuffs"
"Huh?" the soldier gasped. "But sir, he's a…"
"An ally…" Zero cut him off. "Don't worry. Even if he does pull a stupid stunt off, he won't be much of a threat considering his size and age" the guards were reluctant at first but decided not to go against it. Zero hasn't been wrong ever since their rebellion so why should he be wrong now? With a single motion, the handcuffs quickly came off and the guards departed, leaving the Britannian soldier behind. "Now that we're alone, I supposed you have something to ask of me?"
Elie rubbed the aching part of his wrists and nodded back to the man behind the mask. "Yes. I may have something that might prove beneficial to your defense against the Britannian army"
"Is that so? Then would you care to enlighten us?"
"Yes sir…" the man then pulled something out of his hidden pocket and showed it to him. It was a disc… of some sort, one that was commonly used by the nobles and military troops. "An hour after the government bureau fell, there was a nation wide broadcast command given to all remaining forces to every Britannian companies. Once the chain of command was broken, Operation Exile came in effect"
"Yes, it was a safety protocol just in case a situation like this should occur. The objective of the operation was to gather whatever remaining force left in the conquered land in a various locations to be evacuated. If they are not evacuated then it's safe to assume that they will be absorbed into the Britannian army once again"
"And you know of this location?"
"Yes. It was supposedly to be in Saitama, Fukuoka and Hiroshima. Here. Play the records in here and you'll get all the info you need" Kallen quickly snatched the disc away from him with great speed seeing that she didn't trust fully to have a Britannian approach so carelessly towards Zero. "Eh?"
Zero knew why Kallen acted so rashly and rudely but he could not blame her for being his protector after all. When the disc was placed in the computer, a small recording between Elie and the commanding officer of the Britannian High Command played through almost instantly.
"All units, this is Supreme Commander of the Britannian 8th Division, Ferdinand Calares acting under orders of his majesty Emperor Charles Zi Britannia. I order all remaining force to commence Operation Exile. All remaining forces are to gather at the designated zones and fortify yourselves. We cannot allow this disgrace to go on to his majesty! As acting chief of command, I will personally retake this land in the name of his Emperor!"
And with that final quote, Zero paused it, as he could already tell what the man would say next. "I see… Calares is coming personally huh? No doubt that he would be next in line for the title of Viceroy of Area 11" he let out a small chuckle as he returned his attention back to Elie. "Do you happen to know the size of his force?"
The boy stiffened but answered nonetheless. "Yes sir. From what I remember back in the command center, the 8th Division was served strictly for a countermeasure against insurgent forces. It mostly comprised of am armada of thirty ships, not including the carriers that holds the Knightmares. About eight tank battalions, six Knightmare companies and infantry units"
"That's a pretty detailed analysis" Zero looked at him pessimistically. "If their troops are mostly ground forces then we should be on Par with them"
"Not only that sir…" Elie continued. "From the last I've been in contact with the army, there were several Honorary Britannians who are still wavering from their loyalty are part of the retreating force and also… I've heard a rumor from the troops that Monica Kruszewski, the honorable Knight of Twelve is also participating in this campaign"
It was then Zero's eyes widened. To think that one of the Knights of the Round would actually be coming to meet him was hard to even consider being an honor. But this only proved to Zero that his army was now becoming a serious threat to Britannia and its ideals. If they win this battle, that would not only settle his first official victory against his home country but it would also signal to the other nations that Britannia was not invincible… that it can be taken down with the right strategy.
"The Knight of Twelve, you say?" Zero grinned evilly though no one could see it; C2 could sense it even with the tiniest effort. "Well… this is a surprise… yes this will work wonderfully. Though she may be the last of the Knights of the Round, she possesses incredible tactical knowledge. They called her 'Sunny Day' if I recall" "This is excellent. If I use my Geass on her I will speed up my plan in destroying Britannia considerably! What a wonderful opportunity. This move I cannot afford to stray apart"
"Sunny Day?" Kallen motioned questionably.
"It's her nickname for fighting with valor and with honor. Though as powerful as she is, I believe that she will be cast aside by Calares in attacking another area. The man has pride on his army… to much pride… tch… wonderful. This battle may be easier than I thought" as he slowly molds a master plan onto his head, Zero quickly faced Kallen. "Kallen, if this information is accurate then I have a feeling that you might meet her in battle. (Me?) Yes. Calares maybe a fool hardy man, but he won't turn his back on a good opportunity. He will probably send her to Kanagawa. Not too far from the Tokyo Settlement but close enough to ask for support if needed. Capture her if possible but if she proves too much then kill her"
"Then what should we do about the enemy's air raid?" C2 butted in. "Knowing that they'll push through the ocean with everything they have, do you think Calares will lead the attack on Tokyo itself?"
"I am fairly certain that he would want to make a proclamation the moment he enters the government bureau" Zero reaffirmed this and placed his hand on the armrest while holding his head with his fist. "He wouldn't hesitate to waste a single soldier as long as it brings victory to his table. That's just how he is. Changing his style would only ruin his image"
"But enough about that…" Zero then motioned back to Elie who was still standing there stiff as ever. "What of you, commander Elie? (Me?) Yes. You would sell out your own comrades in arms and not to mention betray your very nation… but to what end? You don't need to join the Black Knights… and from what I saw earlier, you seem to command the loyalty of other Honorary Britannians with relative ease. If you take up arms against Britannia, your family's name will immediately dissolve into nothingness"
"I am one of the last of my family heirs" Elie answered back not even showing a hint of hesitation. "If this is a test of loyalty and trust Zero, then you're wasting your voice on me. I have no proof whatsoever in which to prove my loyalty nor do I have reason. My entire life I have spent it on the battlefield. If you're asking me for the reason of my betrayal then you could say I have none"
"Indeed…" Zero interjected. "A reason of being on this world is a necessity to live. Everyone needs it and it seems like yours is still there. If one lost their own reason of existing they wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet on their heads. Heh… another mental state of mind"
"Is there anything else you require?"
"No, that will be all. You may continue leading the forces you have as you've been. You may serve with my unit at the mean time in frontlines"
"As you wish…" and with that, the blonde boy left with his legs still slightly shivering from Zero's presence.
And then suddenly, as if it was in synch with Elie's presence himself, the radio beeped in calling to Zero's attention. "Commander Zero, you're needed on the command room! It's an emergency!" the three attendees looked at one another for a moment to sink the information in before rushing towards the command base at the courtyard of the government bureau.
"What!? Two days!?" Zero gasped along with several members who were in the command base. Diethard had just reported in with one of the media crew that he used as a reconnaissance group on the shore area that the Britannian forces had already crossed into Japanese waters and were preparing to strike earlier than expected.
"I'm afraid so" Diethard admitted looking at himself bluntly. "The Britannian armada was already alerted to the attack two days beforehand. I don't know how they were able to reach Japan so fast but it's no lie. Now that they've crossed the borderline area, it won't be long until they begin preparations of retaking the country. I'd give it about forty-eight hours at best before they launch an attack on us"
"Damn… they caught us off guard" Zero cursed under his mask. "What's the status of the evacuation?"
"The civilians, both Britannians and Japanese have begun moving out through the roadblocks" one of the female soldiers answered. "About forty percent has already been moved. The school ground has been cleared about five minutes ago and all other sectors are making their last trip. It shouldn't take more than a few hours until we've completed"
"This isn't good…" Zero then turned to the monitor screen where Tohdoh and Ohgi were present on. "Tohdoh, what's your situation in Osaka?"
"The evacuation process is coming along and I've already sent troops to begin prepping for combat" the old samurai responded looking a bit disheartened by the news of their enemies early arrival. "I've managed to find several resistant group members that are willing to join but that only counts about infantries. However, I doubt we'll be able to make any kind of solid defense in just two days time"
"You'll have to do your best" Zero nodded. "Ohgi, did you find the smuggled warehouse that I told you about?"
"Yeah we did" Ohgi motioned the camera to a small warehouse building with several armed Burais in it. "We've gotten ourselves on some equipment and some Burais but that's it"
"What of the military base stationed there?"
"The Britannians blew the whole base before we could take it. There's nothing of use there now"
"Tch… so they made sure that they didn't leave anything for us to use against them. How clever" Zero groaned silently to himself. "Looks like I spoke too soon. This battle might just be a strong one. But nonetheless, we continue with the defense as planned. Tohdoh, I'm sending you the coordinates that Elie gave me earlier. These bases were used by the Britannians as supply depots. There maybe some tools you might be able to use against the oncoming forces. Draw in the battle line and I might be able to send you some reinforcements by air"
"Understood. Tohdoh, out…"
"Ohgi, you and the rest of the Black Knights will have to make due with what you have. Kallen will be joining you so try to endure the enemy's attack until the remnants of the JLF can join you" he then clicked the radio to make a broadcast to all his staff officers. "Listen. The Britannian force that came to reoccupy Japan has only limited resources. The larger their forces the more supplies they will need to maintain it. If we can endure this attack for at least 15 hours then victory is ours!"
As Kallen saw the man behind the mask put his charismatic power into motion again, she couldn't help but wonder how he was able to do it. How was he able to take all that pressure on him and still not waver? If she was in his shoes right now, she would've probably broke down right in the room starring at the ceiling for about a day or two. Also from what she heard from C2, their great leader seemed to have been wounded during the battle in the Special Zone and not to mention that he hasn't gotten a single wink of sleep for two days now. But she could probably understand a fraction of the reason why.
Because Zero was their leader. He was the symbol of the Black Knights, no… the symbol of Japan itself. If he were to show weakness it would cause panic among the soldiers. He had to keep his composed aura around him and make sure that no one, not even herself could get a glimpse of his weakened state.
"… that will be all…" Zero finished with his usual monologue. After awhile everyone could begin to hear cheers coming from the city and a few from the halls of the government bureau itself. He mused by the thought on how people were so easily motivated with but a slight effort of his voice. If he had put his entire heart and soul in his words he believed that he might even make a few of them faint from his sheer awesomeness. Just as he was about to take leave his path was suddenly blocked by a certain girl who did not know when to quit. "Ms. Kaguya?"
"Hi there!" she replied in happy go lucky tone. "I'm so glad I caught up with you here! I was trying to find your room but this place is so huge I actually got lost just trying to find my way around"
"L… lady Kaguya…?" Diethard stuttered.
"I thought you and the six houses of Kyoto were evacuated to the Safe Zone" Zero motioned. "You shouldn't be here. The entire city will become a battlefield again and I the last thing I need are civilians getting in the crossfire"
"Oh come on now" Kaguya whined. "Did you forget what I told you before? I am supposed to be your future wife so it'll be dishonorable for me to run and hide while my husband fights in the frontline"
"Exactly, and it would also be un-gentleman of me if my future wife were to be wounded before our marriage" when Zero spoke of this, the other members of the Black Knights began to stumble and stutter. Kallen who was listening to the conversation suddenly blinked with a thick blush on her cheek. Diethard quirked a questionable brow on their leader's choice of words and Kaguya nearly tripped down her own shoes. C2 remained the same but some could see that Zero caught her attention.
"Wha wha wha!?" Kallen stuttered. "Zero, what do you mean by that!?"
"Well I've been thinking on what Ms. Sumeragi said when we were on the G-1 fortress" Zero explained. "And I find her strange logic to be unarguable. My mask is simply but a symbol to the people. They won't accept it as their leader and a fake mask can be made at anytime. So a public face is what I need to go with…… and what better face to represent me than the beautiful Ms. Sumeragi herself?" the girl in question immediately began to blush upon the call of her name. She never thought that Zero would take her word seriously and now that he had accepted it, she began to wonder what she had gotten herself in to.
"Z… Zero… with all due respect…" Diethard mumbled. "I highly doubt that a marriage now will be useless unless…"
"I understand…" Zero cut him off knowing well there was still a battle to win. "Priorities come first… I can't exactly skip to the happy ending without going through the climax of the story. Isn't that right?" seeing that the girl wasn't going to back down on leaving the settlement, he decided to put her to good use. "Then, lady Kaguya… if you are willing to stay here, would you mind doing a little favor for me?"
"Me?" she flushed as her cheeks reddened. "O… of course!"
"Excellent…" he then pulled out something from his pocket which looked like a cassette tape from younger times. "I want you to play the record in this cassette during the right moment in the battle. I know that it is an old one but it is the best I could do at such short notice"
"The right moment? But how will I know when…"
"You will know" he added with a small smile. "You are after all… the Goddess of Victory, are you not?"
The girl blushed again and slowly held the cassette tape close to her chest. "Y… yeah…"
"Then I need not worry with you by my side then. But on the first sight if things start to go bad, I'll have Diethard take you to the next shuttle to the Safe Zone by force if he must. Thank you Ms. Sumeragi" and with that, he walked off towards the armory where he can finalize his plans against Britannia.
But he did not notice that Kallen was giving him and Kaguya a semi-fumed (AKA: Jealous) look.
"Arghh!" that was the sound of Kallen yelling out at the top of her lunges as she whacked a sandbag with one good punch that would've broke the concrete wall. Ever since Zero made that little comment at courtyard, everyone has been whispering on their leader's new bride like some high school rumor. In just a matter of seconds every member of the Black Knights knew of it and some of them even began to act like there wasn't even a war going on.
After Zero went to see Rakshata to discuss his next phase of the plan, Kallen had spent her time at the gym to lay off her steam on a punching bag that did not have anything to do with the man's proclamation. Many of those who were working at the gym were quickly frightened by the girl's strange physical prowess and left the moment she rammed her fist onto the first object she could get her hands on. C2 was also with her of course but unlike Kallen, she simply sat down on the waiting bench hugging her Cheese-kun plushy.
"That guy! (wham!) What does he (wham) think he's doing (wham!) saying things like that out in the (wham!) open where everyone can (wham!) hear him!?" she fumed irritably while punching on the bag with all her might.
C2 grinned slightly at her cute yet unsettling way to express her jealousy. Though the girl would not admit, Kallen was practically screaming out 'why' with her own hands. "You know. You shouldn't be shouting like that. Some people might misunderstand your ranting"
"That's easy for you to say! (wham!) For a person who doesn't understand a woman's (wham!) heart!"
"Oh… how cute" C2 gave her friend a puffy look while Kallen continues to bash the poor object to submission. "You may say that now, but deep down you're probably thinking that you might no longer be needed. You think that if Zero finally has a bride of his own you will lose your place by his side and he will shrug you off as another object"
"Huh!?" Kallen gave out a mixed look of confusion and embarrassment, and while her head was turned, she missed a punch which made her fall on her back. "Owww…"
"You continue to deny it but it's the truth nonetheless" the immortal witch continued. "From what I've noticed: You seem to take pride as being Zero's most trusted companion. You believe that you're special… and irreplaceable member to his side"
"That's not true! I…"
"Or really?" C2 finally grinned as the girl fell right into her web of tease. "What if Zero were to have another ace by his side? So far, you are the only ace he has and he only uses you during the most crucial times. But there's no guarantee how long it will last. Eventually there will be a pilot who can outmatch you, and when that happens, your title of Q-1 will be taken away…"
"Geh…" Kallen could not deny it. No… perhaps she could, but then all her words would be nothing but hot air. Zero always made it look like everyone on the battlefield was like a chess piece. She didn't get it at first but when she saw the Zero playing on a chessboard against himself she realized that he was naming everyone after the pieces that he had. P for pawns, B for Bishops, N for Knights, R for Rooks and of course one of the vital pieces of the board, the Queen.
Q-1 was her title and there wasn't a doubt in anyone's mind that she was the best pilot in the army other than Tohdoh. She could probably match up against the Four Holy Swords single-handedly but that kind of fight would have to bring out the best in her.
"You don't want to lose that title now do you?" C2 smirked as the red head began to sweat furiously. "Well then, I guess that the only way to do that is to defeat that Sunny Day girl" Kallen's eyes perked at the mention of the Knight's nickname. "They say that the Knights of the Rounds are the finest soldiers in Britannia. If you could defeat one of them, I have a good feeling that no one… not even Tohdoh can voice against your position" she threw the pilot a towel and walked off the door but before she closed it she turned her head back to give one last remark. "Think about it: An Eleven that can actually defeat a Knight of the Round. That'll be something to put on the news"
Kallen sank the words into her head before placing her head between her knees.
When C2 got to the next intersection, she noticed Zero leaning against the wall with a slight frown hidden behind his mask. "Was that really necessary?"
"She's still naïve, but that's what makes her a great pilot" she replied, avoiding the question entirely. "Besides… now she has another reason to win. But enough about that. What of your discussion with Rakshata? Is everything going according to your elaborate plan?"
"Everything is on schedule" he answered. "Though the Britannians arrived faster than I expected, we may still be able to hold them out. With the limited time we have on our hands, we can only set up basic perimeter defenses. But if all goes accordingly, I may be able to pull off another miracle to silence any aggressors that defies my rule. Oh… by the way. I was doing a little research on our Britannian friend"
"You mean Elie?"
"Yes… apparently he may prove to be my first checkpiece that can turn the tide of this battle to an even fight" he grinned evilly. "I wonder how good he is with acting"