Of Masks and Mirrors- Chapter 10

"Military authorities report that they are surrounding the Saitama ghetto, which is hiding terrorists. As Viceroy Cornelia is on the scene as well, entry to that area has been restricted."

R.R. listened to the news streaming from Lelouch's laptop with half an ear, and watched it with half an eye. Bored, he sighed as he shifted his position on the windowsill so he was sitting with his legs crossed and an hand propping his head up, fingers splayed around his eyes. Unknown to him, he was sitting in the exact same position as Lelouch. C.C. watched the two with highly concealed amusement from her view on the bed. She had suspected something ever since she had met the Britannian prince, but this act only cemented her beliefs. She closed her eyes and rolled onto her back feeling smug. There was no need for the whole world to know.

"It looks like a full-scale assault will be launched in two hours. Consequently, the following areas will have their power cut for the time being: Kawagoe, Kawaguchi..." Lelouch closed his eyes as he cut the live streaming news and shut down his laptop

"You're falling for the enemy's provocation?" C.C. asked dully. "You do know you're walking into a trap, correct?" Lelouch smirked. He closed the laptop case's lid and turned towards the green-haired women.

"Well, they took so much trouble to invite me," Lelouch said. "It would be all to waste if I didn't come. Besides, there's something I was to ask Cornelia." R.R. snorted from his seat and rose up, his violet gaze serious. Lelouch, for not the first time, wondered why the other man had the same shade of eyes he had. The white-haired man crossed his arms.

"Why do you think they've surrounded the ghetto them? It would be counter-productive for them, seeing as if would cause more unrest and political tension," R.R. pointed out. "Why would Cornelia risk such a thing? The whole thing is set for disaster" Lelouch raised an eyebrow, as if the answer was obvious to him.

"For Zero, of course," he said confidently. "And I wouldn't like to disappoint my audience," and he felt an odd twist in his chest as he uttered those words. R.R. looked at him, contemplating. His eyes were thoughtful.

"So then," he slowly said, motioning to the Britanian soldier uniform lying neatly on the wooden floorboards, "What is the point of this?" He picked up a black helmet and tossed it hand to hand. "Why do you need this? Why not just go in as Zero? Are you afraid?" C.C. turned to face the two with hardly a sound.

"It's obvious he's afraid of being captured. He has to hide himself first," she shrugged. "He's only human." Lelouch clenched his fist at the blatant mockery. R.R. gave him a condescending smirk, knowing what C.C. was doing.

"It's alright, little Zero," he purred. "You don't need to say it out loud. We already know. So, it's not a problem." C.C. nodded in agreement, her amber eyes looking at the still Lelouch with enjoyment.

"He's right, you know?" Lelouch narrowed his eyes at the two smug immortals and raised his chin.

"I'll still go in the soldier's uniform," he snapped. "If I go like Zero, that's just begging for suicide! Are you trying to send me to an early death?" To his surprise, R.R. slid an arm around his shoulders with a smile. The white-haired man patted the teenager with a light hand.

"That's better Lelouch, you know how to survive." he said. Lelouch shoved the man away from him with a furious expression. He hurriedly fixed his hair and glared at the irritating man, who was still smiling.

"I know how to take care of myself. I've been taking care of myself, Nunnally, and Rolo for the past seven years, much longer than when I met you two!" He frowned. R.R. nodded.

"That may be true, but the point is, you know us now, and you have a binding contract with C.C.," he waved a hand at the green-haired women. "You can only win, or fail trying. There is no backing out now, in both your goal and contract."

"I will not fail," Lelouch stated. "That much, I know for sure." R.R. raised a finely arched eyebrow in doubt. He gave him a serious gaze.

"And who do you think you are?" The young man chuckled. During the entire conversation, he had been strapping and buckling on the Britannian soldier's uniform he had stolen from a poor, amnesic soldier. He slid the helmet's visor over his eyes, hiding his identity from view.

"Just a normal soldier," he said. R.R. chuckled and C.C. slightly smiled, both at his error.

"Very well," C.C. agreed.

"But," R.R. added. "How are you going to sneak out of the campus now, O normal soldier?" Lelouch blanched behind the visor as he realized his early mistake. His curses sent the two immortals into laughter at his folly. He glared at them, but to his despair, it had had no effect whatsoever and only increase their merriness. R.R. wiped a tear away with mirth.

"Just remember this, Lelouch, tu n'as pas imbattable." Lelouch looked at the white-haired man with a questioning gaze, but R.R. just waved him along. "I'm sure you'll understand what it means. It's French. Go on to Saitama. Cornelia's waiting." Lelouch looked at him oddly, but left the room, leaving the two alone to converse. There was a lull in conversation and R.R. found himself content in just watching the experience of the daily life below through the window.

"So, Lelouch doesn't know who you are?" C.C. finally asked. He didn't turn around.

"No," he answered. "He doesn't know anything about me, actually, just that I'm a friend of yours."

"I see," she said knowingly. "I, however, can say I know a bit more than others." R.R. was faintly surprised to hear this, but then just closed his eyes and smiled.

"I expected nothing less of you, C.C." The women flipped back to her back and hugged her yellow stuffed doll, Cheese-kun, with a small, but content smile.

"I know."

"He's not going to die."

"I know."

"Do you know why?" C.C. squeezed Cheese-kun tighter. There was a slight pause as she sat up.

"I know."

One month later

Lloyd laughed gleefully as he heard Cornelia's order crackle through the radio. Last time, his request to test the Lancelot had been denied back in the Saitama ghetto. He frowned a little at the racism from the Britannians, especially the nobles. Devicers were devicers. It didn't matter what they looked like, as long as they got the job done. Then, he mentally shrugged. It wasn't his concern.

"Ah, thanks so much for that order," he smiled as he turned to Cecile and Suzaku. "They said you go for it Suzaku!" Suzaku turned around in his seat with a surprised expression, but Cecile only grimly stared at the ecstatic scientist. "There's a linear cannon in the tunnel, and they want you to get it!"

"So you mean they want Suzaku to be a decoy, live bait, then?" Cecile asked, disapprovingly. Lloyd only nodded.

"You're right. It seems they want to use the confusion to send in the royal guard," he agreed. "But Suzaku will be fine, won't you?" he asked, directing his question at Suzaku. The brunette stared back, determination shining from his eyes. His eyebrows furrowed together and his lips tightened.

"Yes!" Lloyd's grin widened and he clapped his hands together in applause.

"Then what are you waiting for, let's get going!" His words were a bit late, however. By the time he finished his sentence, Suzaku had already vanished into the Knightmare frame, took the charging cable out of its port, and inserted the key in. Lloyd just smiled. "Full throttle right at the start again, Suzaku?

Suzaku quickly punched in the system password as the screen booted up. A faint hum emitted from his surroundings as he prepared to launch. A coat of winged arms appeared with the words Z-01 Lancelot boldly written came up and letters scrolled on. He smirked at the Britannian motto shining from the screen, "Marching Onward Ever to Tomorrow." It was ironic to him. To tomorrow, indeed, he would be doing, but by daybreak tomorrow, Warrant Officer Suzaku Kururugi would be dead.

He waited patiently as a automated female voice began explaining his mission and objective. He looked on the graphics with amusement, but paid close attention to the diagram of the hotel building. He whistled with amazement as he realized the full magnitude of collapsing the building. The lake's waters would rise quite a bit after this incident. That was why constructing a giant hotel over a massive body of water shouldn't have been done. He closed his eyes at the thought. Unreasonable actions were made for selfishness, greed, and pride. He opened them when there was a lurch in the machine's gravity. The Lancelot was being transported from its docking bay. It was almost time.

"Just come back here if things get too rough," Lloyd's voice said through Suzaku's earpiece. "I'll just say the Lancelot is too valuable to be destroyed, even if its in the line of battle. Science before war, you know." The brunette smiled and fixed the communication device so it was on his ear more loosely. It was uncomfortable, but necessary for later.

"Too rough?" he asked. Lloyd hummed in affirmation. Suzaku smirked as the Lancelot was being lowered into a tunnel that would lead eventually into the hotel's basement. "Not a ghost of a chance. I'm sorry, but I'm going all in."

"Wait, Suzaku, you don't mean...!" he lowered the volume so he could focus more on his task. Lloyd's frantic shouting was now almost inaudible in his ears.

"Those people," he murmured, knowing his words would be heard loud and clear from the other side of the transmission. "Those people need to be saved."

The Lancelot's feet touched the ground and its back rollers fell out. Gears and cameras adjusted in anticipation as their next run loomed into few.

"Twelve minutes to operation start. Starting countdown..." Suzaku tightly smiled as he firmly gripped the throttles. This would the end of it all.

In a food storage room inside the hotel, all was quiet, the air full of tension and fear. Soldiers' footsteps echoed through the metallic room as they paced, in their arms, guns. Nina Einstein shivered in her friend's embrace as one of the men stopped before her, his shoes a mere foot away from her. Scared, she looked up.

"E..." she stuttered. "Eleven!" The man's face twisted in offense of the comment and he glared at her. Nina gasped in fright and huddled to Milly's chest, closing her eyes.

"What did you just say?" the soldier snapped. "Eleven?" He cocked his gun and pointed it at the braided girl. "We're Japanese!" Milly's eyes narrowed at him as she turned Nina's body away from the irate man.

"We know! Just lay off her," she said defensively, trying to calm the man's ire, but to no avail.

"Then correct her! We're not Elevens!" he demanded, pushing the gun's muzzle forward harshly. Shirley's eyes flared at her friends' treatment and her temper got the better of her.

"Fine, we'll correct her!" she snapped. "Just leave her alone!"

"How dare you speak like that to me!" the soldier shouted, and Shirley's face filled with fright when she realized what her rash statement had caused. "You three come with me to the next room and I'll teach you a real lesson. Milly's expression grew stony, understanding what the soldier was intending. Nina did too.

"No," she said shakily, and then cried with even more terror. "NO!"

In the back of the room, a pink-haired girl moved to rise and stop the man and his unfair actions, but her wrist was firmly grasped by another. Surprised, she turned to the person and her eyes widened, recognizing who it was. The person shook their head and made a motion to stay down low and be quiet. Meanwhile, the situation ahead was just getting worse.

"I said get up!" the soldier grabbed Nina's arm and roughly pulled her up. The frightened girl's yells escalated in panic and volume. A person stood abruptly, but gracefully up.

"Stop this very instant!" the voice resonated all throughout the room.

"Who are you?" the soldier growled, throwing Nina carelessly to the ground, seeing a more potential victim. The stranger crossed his arms and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

"I believe," he said. "This would be a situation where one would say, 'take me to your leader.' And as for my name," he smirked. "Just call me Samir."

Yay! Chapter 10 is here! A lot of the dialog and events came from the canon, but I didn't think it would be a good story if I didn't keep everything smooth and ongoing. I hope the details and descriptions make up for it! I skipped what happened at the Saitama ghetto to speed things up, but it'll come out sooner or later. /wink/

Samir makes another appearance! Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to what happens in the next chapter?

Onyx Fire7- Yep, your reasoning does make a lot of sense. Actually, that didn't even occur to me, so thanks! ^_^ I was more along the lines of Lelouch having the support of Rolo, meaning less devotion to Nunnally, and thus, not as much guilt for her injury. Also, the incident from the past with Suzaku and Lelouch plays an important role. And because R.R. was there in the beginning, Suzaku's personality is a bit more compassionate, so he and Lelouch get along a lot better when they were kids. Well, there's nothing like a jinx to jinx another jinx. I hope updates are more regular too. Also, you're the only anonymous reviewer ever since I was on a hiatus. So, thank you very much for your dedication!

And~ that's a wrap!

Happy Reading!