Disclaimer: This story if based off of Code Geass and I own none of it.
Authors Notes: Sorry for the delay. I hope people enjoy this chapter and that the characters act in a believable manner.
One person mentioned that things were too idealic. And that everything was going Lelouch's way in this story. But it was the same way in cannon up until when Mao was introduced and Suzaku became a knight.
Those who are involved with acting on the stage will probably appreciate the title of this chapter. Because nothing ever goes entirely according to schedule. And if you think everything's on schedule, you're clearly missing something. Or something is about to happen that shatters your hopes about having everything done by opening night.
As to the update schedule, well the next chapter happens when school quiets down again.
Once again I like having people's opinions on how the characters are acting. What interactions were good, need work. Also as to the plot in general.
August 27 2020 a.t.c.
Lelouch looked over the papers in his office at Fleija. Someone had once again horribly mangled some calculation in accounting and it threatened to cause problems for him if it wasn't corrected. But even as he worked over the data and accounts he mused on what had happened the previous day.
He had been close, so very close to killing Jeremiah Gottwald. True he had removed a large portion of the Knightmares in Japan for the near future but other than that, no long term plans had been advanced.
Of course it might make things easier for the assault on the Sakuradite Refinery in a week's time. Or it might make things more difficult depending on what Schneizel decided to do in response to this latest fight.
The news only provided the briefest outline of the fight. They only reported that Zero had fought against the Britannian army, and escaped once again after murdering many Britannian soldiers. The exact numbers were never released. But in the forums and gossip sites online, Lelouch had a better idea of how people were taking the news.
Many knew that Zero had won with less than 50 Knightmares against an army of 300. Something that should have been impossible. Zero once again had raised the Knights popular appeal.
Lelouch had received word that Jeremiah had been about to launch reprisals against the ghettos, but such attacks never materialized. Lelouch sensed his brother's presence in this lack of action. Schneizel's plans were more aimed at winning the people to him and eliminating popular support of the Black Knights. Attacking the Ghettos would only increase support of the Black Knights.
Lelouch's hands hovered over the keyboard as he considered what move to make next. He had long since reached a membership of a thousand with many more people offering information. And with such information Lelouch was hard pressed to process it all. He needed someone who was skilled at looking at a sea of data and summarizing it. Lelouch was skilled, but there were only so many hours in the day. He had work, terrorist activities to plan and act on, and he had to maintain his social network with friends. Lastly, above all else, he had to appear as though everything was going according to plan.
He considered for a moment using Miss Sumeragi, but discarded that idea. He better understood her motivations after their last talk, but he wasn't sure how to best use her. Through Miss Sumeragi's connections to the Chinese Federation a few plans might be advanced. Making use of Miss Sumeragi in the role of a diplomat was more important than using her for information gathering.
As Lelouch began to dwell on his most recent meeting with Miss Sumeragi, his mind drifted.
August 25 2020 a.t.c.
Zero stood alone in the meeting room with Kaguya Sumeragi. Zero had requested that they meet alone to go over some final details involving Kyoto House. Lelouch had also made sure that the other senior members of the Black Knights had other business to attend to.
He had no intention of giving Miss Sumeragi an audience that she could manipulate. Last time had been lesson enough.
"Wow it's just like I imagined. A super secret base hidden within an unassuming exterior." Miss Sumeragi was gawking over the interior of the command centre. While it was impressive despite its rather beaten looking exterior, it shouldn't have prompted this response. "This is just what I expected from you, Master Zero. The master tactician. Even your uniform is amazing." Zero allowed himself to be flattered at that last remark. He had spent quite a lot of time designing it. Nina had said that his costume was like something Milly would come up with.
Zero nodded slightly. "I'm glad you find our base of operations to your liking Miss Sumeragi. Please sit down we have much to discuss." He gestured to one of the chairs in the office while taking his seat behind the desk.
Kaguya nodded slightly. "I suppose we do." She sat gracefully in one of the few chairs in the room, making herself comfortable.
"I must admit to my curiosity at your presence here. Surely your duties at Kyoto House and in the Sumeragi Conglomerate must keep you busy."
"Yes, but for Japan some sacrifices must be made. I believe my time is best spent here with you, master Zero, and the Black Knights." Her smile never shifted.
"And why is it that you believe so strongly in our abilities?"
"You've given hope back to the people. Even at the JLF's peak right after the war the popular support pales in comparison to what the Black Knights have gained in only months. Master Zero, I believe that you have the power to change the world."
Lelouch smirked; for all that she was a skilled political opponent she was using flattery far too freely.
"Which is why, as your future wife, I believe it is my place to be here at your side." Lelouch was very glad he was wearing a mask at this point. It hid his expression and gave him a moment to collect his thoughts.
It did explain what she had been alluding to earlier in her words before the Black Knights. It also explained the odd feeling he had been getting from her. At the time he had likened it to a mouse in the sight of a cat. "Miss Sumeragi I'm flattered but we have only just met. Surely you jest?"
Kaguya shook her head. "Of course not. We may have just met in person but I've watched all of your exploits. Zero the man who can use ninja like stealth and physical prowess, but always uses his mind first and foremost." Sayoko had been used as Zero in many situations recently. During most of the important missions Lelouch had been Zero, with the only exception to thatbeing the assault on Arkel. For minor things Sayoko did excellently, as Lelouch did have to appear to be working when some activities were being pulled off.
"I've been your biggest fan." Then her expression turned more serious. "And since you wear a mask you'll need someone to be your face in public. When you win this battle, Zero will need to be able to send someone as an envoy who is both respected and willing to show their face. As your future wife I believe I would do admirably in that role."
"And you believe I'll win this battle?"
"Of course. No one could defeat Master Zero." She gave a dazzling look that projected pure guileless admiration.
Lelouch gathered his thoughts. Behind the childish presentation he had figured out the gist of her message. She was offering to aide him in what ever way she could even using her social position and family heritage to advance his cause. How best to use her though? And in what role?
"I see Miss Sumeragi, I thank you for your support." As Zero, Lelouch was neither going to accept or refuse this offer. It was far better to leave things ambiguous. If it became necessary Lelouch would even allow Zero to become married in a farce of a wedding if it strengthened his position.
Kaguya nodded her head slightly. "I knew, as my future husband, that you would understand everything." She too understood that Zero was simply going to use her as a tool, but had chosen to allow it to happen. Truly she was a fitting leader for one of the Six Houses of Kyoto.
But such things were never spoken, for true masters of politics, what remains unsaid is nearly as important as what is said. "I have heard that Kyoto House has been giving and receiving intelligence from the Chinese Federation." Lelouch finally changed to subject moving onto more neutral and more important topics.
"Yes. Originally India supplied a great many of our Knightmares, but after the civil war they rejoined the Chinese Federation to avoid being conquered by Britannia. They haven't been able to give aide, in the form of Knightmares to us in over two years now."
This was something Zero hoped to remedy in the near future. "Since then, we've been mainly giving and receiving intelligence that is advantageous to either side. The Kyoto House has even been funneling economic aide to the Chinese Federation to avoid having it collapse." Kaguya continued detailing information that was both useful and dangerous for Kyoto House.
Zero nodded his head. "Then you may wish to inform the Chinese Federation of some information I recently acquired. Schneizel came to Japan to find something within the Chinese Federation. I do not believe it is information that he searches for, but rather an object. Something he wants desperately enough to leave the capital to become the interim Viceroy."
Lelouch had spent a great deal of time trying to find out what Schneizel was looking for. Such information, unfortunately, proved to be elusive. But some few pieces could be deduced from the actions Schneizel had taken in regards to the search. If it was information then the Fleija Branch's Management would have been filled with agents. However most of the agents Lelouch had so far unearthed were in the development section dealing with setting up communication lines in rural areas. Schneizel wanted something that was hidden in the countryside and away from the larger cities. Suggesting that an object or a person was the goal of the search. Lelouch could be wrong but he figured that the odds were against any other possibility.
"That's so like you Master Zero, to know why the Second Prince came here so unexpectedly. I'll tell Tianzi tonight when I have time." Lelouch nodded slightly.
They continued speaking for a few more moments before Zero finally took his leave. It had been an informative meeting. He now had a new Rook with which to play on the field, and connections to the Chinese Federation that could be exploited later.
28 August 2020 a.t.c.
Lelouch started into wakefulness. He glanced around and realized that it was morning. Truly he was trying to fulfill too many roles at once. He already had Sayoko acting as his double at many minor unimportant missions. He also had her acting as his spy and informant in many of the local government offices. Sometimes he wondered how she managed to keep going. Perhaps it was her training as a ninja.
Scanning the computer screen in front of him he realized that the mistake was there under his nose. A few minor changes later and everything appeared perfect again. Lelouch had no intention of a minor mistake causing the accounting department to be audited. It might cause a few of Lelouch's more private activities to be brought to light.
He began shutting down the programs on the desktop. He paused over the keyboard looking at one of the applicants to the Black Knights. It had been a file he had been considering for a while now. A Britannian. And not just any Britannian, but one who worked at a news outlet in a managerial position. The perfect piece for handling information. He flagged the file and made a few notes to find out more on the background of Diethard Reid. But right now he had other more important meetings.
August 29 2020 a.t.c.
Suzaku glanced around the academy for the hundredth time, looking for either Nunally or Lelouch. He had acquired leave from Lloyd for this trip.
Though judging by the size of the academy he might not even find either of them even if they were both here. Suzaku sighed as he munched on the popcorn he had picked up. There weren't many Elevens here but he didn't stick out that badly.
He continued wandering around the buildings checking through the different stalls when he saw her. Nunally was talking happily with a group of girls her own age. Suzaku paused to watch the group for a short time.
Finally a few of them wandered off leaving only Nunally and one of her friends. Well, it was now or never. He walked near the group and began whistling an old Japanese song that he had taught both Nunally and Lelouch. It was the signal to try to ditch everyone else and meet up on the roof. Of course he and Lelouch had used a different signal but to include Nunally, they had made a second signal as well.
Nunally perked up immediately after hearing the song. After a few moments of talking with her friend she began to split off and head towards the roof. Suzaku looked rather amazed at that. But her hover chair did look very advanced, so maybe it had some sort of guidance system? He had expected her to ask her friend to wheel her to the roof or to find a more remote area.
Regardless Suzaku followed far enough away so as to not be suspicious. He easily made his way through the school unobserved. Finally he reached the roof top. "Suzaku?" Nunally was calling out quietly trying to find out if had really been him.
"Hey Nunally, it's been a long time." Suzaku moved over to her and put his hand into her outstretched palm.
"Suzaku," Nunally brushed over his hand briefly with her finger tips before letting his hand go. Suzaku wasn't sure how, but Nunally had always been able to identify people based on their hands alone. "I'm so glad to see you again."
"Same here. How's everything been going for you and Lelouch?"
"Big Brother is doing fine. He works at Fleija with a school friend."
"Is that why you have a hover chair? I've never heard of any being created."
Nunally blushed slightly. "Yes, it's one of a kind. Big Brother and Nina worked on it. Big brother worked on the guidance system and Nina designed the chair."
Suzaku grinned. "I'm glad. So you can move around on your own now?"
"Yes to some degree. I can move around on my own within the school grounds, and live in the dormitories now. When I was younger I lived with my brother in the Student Council Club House." Nunally looked nostalgic at this. Clearly it had been a special time for her.
Nunally finally continued. "And you Suzaku? How have you been?"
Suzaku paused. He considered what he should tell Nunally. Finally he spoke. "I joined the Britannian Armed Forces. You know how good I was at fighting when I was younger right?"
Nunally looked surprised at this. "But…" Her smile wavered for a moment. She shook her head. "Are you happy?"
Suzaku thought for a moment. Originally when he had joined the army it had been out of duty to make up for what he had done. It had been to atone for killing his father. It had been to try and help other by changing the system from within. It had not been fun and he had not been happy. It had been a duty.
But now on the other hand he was content. "Yes I am happy." Without joining the army he would never have met Euphie.
Nunally began smiling again. "Then I'm happy for you." Suzaku nodded slightly. He understood that Nunally didn't like fighting or any sort of violence. So while she wasn't happy with his choice she was still happy for him. She was a good friend.
Nunally continued. "You have to see Big Brother again. I know he'd be happy to see you. He promised he'd be by later this evening. The rest of the student council even let us borrow the club house for old time's sake. We're going to have dinner together, Sayoko, Nina, Lelouch, and I."
"I couldn't impose. I mean, it's kind of odd for a Britannian to know an Eleven."
"No one will be there, other than close friends. Everyone there already knows about Big Brother's and my heritage." Nunally looked at him with a hopeful expression.
Suzaku paused, torn with indecision. Finally he agreed. "I'll be there then. What time should I come by at?"
Nunally grinned. "7:30. I'll tell Sayoko and Nina that you're coming. It'll be a nice surprise for Big Brother." This was probably the most mischievous that Nunally could be.
Suzaku chuckled. "I'll be there then."
They talked for a few more minutes about their respective lives before finally parting. Suzaku found himself grateful for being able to talk to Nunally again. The three of them had created a bond during their travels that was truly unbreakable.
Nina was happy, no she was ecstatic. She was having dinner with Nunally tonight. Not only that it, was almost like having dinner with Nunally's family. It was almost like she was, dare she think it, Nunally's partner. Nina blushed profusely.
She dusted off her dress once again before knocking on the door of the old club house. It was strange. When she had graduated she had never really planned on coming back here. But whenever Milly organized the old student council, or when Nunally wanted to meet up, they often chose the club house as the best location.
Sayoko was the one who opened the door. She was dressed in her old maid's uniform that she had worn for so many years. Noticing Nina's questioning look, Sayoko nodded. "I feel most comfortable in this while visiting here. It feels appropriate."
Nina nodded. It had taken her a long time to become almost friends with Sayoko. Nina knew that Sayoko was still somewhat uncomfortable with her, but Nina knew that it was her own fault. Nina's opinions about the Japanese people had been a great deal more obvious when she had been younger.
Taking off her shoes at the door, Nina was greeted by a far more open face. "Nina you're here." Nunally's wonderful open personality warmed and lit up the hallway around her.
"I'm not late am I?" Nina looked around covertly for Lelouch's shoes, but didn't spot them. "I thought it was 7:00 we were supposed to arrive, so I made sure to come a bit early."
Nunally shook her head. "No, you were right. You're right on time. Sayoko arrived earlier to help me make dinner. I wanted to make it myself, or at least help with it."
Something's proved impossible even for Lelouch and Nina to create. They could prevent the hover chair from crashing by programing certain routes and maps into it. But they couldn't help Nunally be totally self sufficient. Without her sight and complete mobility, many tasks proved beyond her.
Nunally lead the two of them into one of the old meeting rooms. There Nunally spun around and faced them "There's someone else also coming tonight. It's an old friend of my Brother's and mine. We haven't seen each other in years."
Nina perked up. In the few romance books Nina had been forced to read by Milly, the childhood friend often became a love interest. She crossed her fingers and hoped it was a girl. That way Lelouch would end up with whoever it was.
Sayoko also looked surprised. "May I ask if I have met your friend previously?"
"Suzaku was our friend from when we first came to Japan before the invasion. We stayed with his family for a few months." Nina's hopes were crushed. It was a guy. Nina still wasn't sure which way Nunally went, but Nina was pretty sure Lelouch was straight.
"I assume that he knows the young master's and your heritage as well." Sayoko never one to be surprised for long, looked for confirmation.
"Yes. Suzaku met us when Big Brother and I were still political hostages."
Nina made the connection to the name. "Suzaku, as in Prime Minister Kururugi's son?"
"Yes." Nunally nodded sadly. She had not been able to find out much from Suzaku but it seemed that his fathers' death had affected him deeply.
Nunally then smiled and continued "But remember, Big Brother is not to find out until Suzaku arrives. I want it to be a surprise. Big Brother keeps secrets, so I'm allowed to as well." Nunally despite her age was still childish at times.
Lelouch finally made his way into the Academy grounds. It had been a trying day. From when he had first woken up, till now. He had been meeting with various Black Knights to plan for the coming Sakuradite raid. Not that they knew what was happening next. He had also been arranging a few business deals to help out Fleija. Fleija was after all his primary source of funding and technological edge.
But now he could relax just a little. He was going to have dinner with his sister. Something that he hadn't been able to do for a while. Despite what people said, you sometimes needed to take some time to smell the roses.
He entered the old club house and made his way to the dinner table. There he was greeted by three unusual expressions. Nunally's was one of serenity but that slight twitch suggested that she was hiding something funny. Nina was failing at looking innocent. And Sayoko, well Sayoko actually had the most neutral expression.
"I'm sorry for being late. But meetings held me up at the company." Nina looked over at him and he shrugged. It was true as far as things went. The last meeting he had been to was one for Fleija. The ones previously had been for the Black Knights.
"Big Brother, we were getting worried about you, and the food was getting cold." In front of them were 4 plates with food mostly eaten on them.
"I see someone decided to eat mine as well." He wasn't sure who had eaten his portion, as he wouldn't have believed that the three woman before him would have eaten their own and then started into his.
Nunally shook her head. "Oh that's not your place. You were so late, we left yours under here." She reached across and grabbed one of the lids off a platter, revealing a fifth plate with steak and few other side dishes.
"It's been a long time Lelouch." A voice came from behind Lelouch and he spun around quickly.
It only took Lelouch a few moments to place the face and recall the name. "Suzaku? Suzaku it's been ages." It had taken Lelouch by surprise but it was a welcome surprise. Suzaku was his best friend, and to be entirely honest, one of his only friends.
The two young men shook hands and laughed. "Nunally wanted it to be a surprise."
"Trying to surprise your older brother, you're finally growing up." Lelouch grinned as he said this, his tone of voice teasing.
"Of course, I'm nearly 18." Nunally seemed a little put-off that Lelouch hadn't remained surprised longer. "I can't stay young forever."
The group of them finally settled down for dinner. Lelouch spoke a great deal with Suzaku and watched the other's interactions. Nina appeared to be jealous of Suzaku's presence. Sayoko looked non-pulsed, but Lelouch was fairly sure she was glad to see other friends present, who weren't involved with the Black Knights. Suzaku just looked a bit uptight at meeting the others, but he eventually relaxed as the night progressed.
"I heard that you joined that Army." Lelouch and Suzaku were finally alone outside. Nina had chosen to stay a little longer to speak with Nunally, and Sayoko had left earlier claiming that she had an early morning. Not that Sayoko was going to be sleeping anytime soon. She had some missions to accomplish as Zero first.
Lelouch was glad that Suzaku had chosen to take his leave with Lelouch, as it allowed him some time to talk with Suzaku.
"Yes. I know that you might not agree, but I believe that to change the system one has to do it from the inside. If I advance far enough I can make changes."
Lelouch questioned "And if it fails? Britannia isn't going to change for just one man. Sometimes other methods might be necessary."
"Even if I can only make small changes it would be better than doing nothing, or doing it the wrong way. I like to believe that the Empire can be changed if enough people do the right thing. Even if the changes take longer than my lifetime, I believe it's the best way."
Lelouch considered trying to pressure his friend but he decided against it. People change over time, and Lelouch had seen a great many differences in his old friend. And Lelouch admitted, privately, that Suzaku's method was the kinder route. But it was also one fraught with risks. A single man higher than Suzaku, could undo any changes made. And Britannia was simply too far gone to be dealt with in any way other than destruction.
Also Suzaku's methods wouldn't change the world in Nunally's lifetime either.
Suzaku turned slightly and faced Lelouch looking directly at him. "There's something I wanted to talk to you about, actually. It's about your heritage."
"What about it? Does the military know who we are?" Lelouch appeared more then a bit worried and agitated.
"No. I found Nunally by chance in town and recognized her. I traced her to this school by her uniform." Suzaku was quick to try and sooth his friend. "But you know, you might have more friends then you think you do."
Lelouch smirked. "Not ones that I would trust in the slightest. Even the Ashfords can only be trusted so far." Fleija had proved beneficial to the Ashfords in helping them regain some of their strength in various industries. Both Nina and Lelouch were indebted to the Ashfords. But that didn't change the fact that the Ashfords would use Lelouch and Nunally if it became necessary.
Suzaku bit his lip. "Jeremiah Gottwald. If you revealed your identity he'd help you. He's completely loyal to your mother."
Lelouch looked very amused at this. "He's a member of the Purist faction, I can't believe that he simply invited you over and told you this."
"Not exactly. But because of our friendship he was willing to deploy me in the recent skirmish at Narita. He might not like me, but he's giving me more of a chance than any other honorary Britannian in the army."
Lelouch was grateful for the lack of light. If Suzaku was at Narita then Lelouch had nearly killed him. Not something he wanted to tell Nunally. He considered asking what division Suzaku was in, but such a question was out of place. Lelouch would have to do further research on that at a later point.
"Sounds like he was trying to kill you."
Suzaku shook his head. "Well, just trust me on this. He still defends your mother's honor whenever it's slighted."
"It doesn't change anything. If we do come out of hiding, Nunally will just be used as a pawn. In a world where the strong rule over the weak, she has no place." Blindness could be compensated for. Being in a wheel chair again was something that could be ignored. But together they limited her ability to do many activities. "Amongst the nest of vipers that is the Britannian Royal Family, she'd be torn to pieces."
There was also her relative innocence to consider. Lelouch knew that he could survive if he was forced to. It might take him years, but he could regain power as a Prince of Britannia. Nunally didn't have that ruthless guile and ability to use others.
"They aren't all bad."
"Suzaku, I've lived with them over the early years of my life. I know a great deal about them." Lelouch would admit, if pressed, that there were a few siblings he would spare given the chance, but most of them had been raised to be vipers.
"Euphie isn't like that."
"You met Euphie?" Lelouch looked in surprise over at Suzaku. Euphie was one of his few half siblings that he cared for and still had fond memories of. She, like Nunally, had been protected by an older sibling from the vipers in the family.
"Actually we're engaged." Suzaku held up his hand revealing a small gold band. Lelouch hadn't noticed previously but now it appeared obvious.
Lelouch for the first time in a long time was stunned. "But…"
"I'm an Eleven?" Suzaku correctly interpreted Lelouch's unspoken question. "To be honest I wanted to break it off when I found out that Euphie was actually Princess Euphemia. Not because I didn't love her, but because a number isn't a suitable royal consort. I knew how hard it would make life for her"
"Euphie wouldn't have cared." Lelouch spoke softly.
"She didn't. But I know it's going to cause a lot of problems down the line. Which is why I'm going to find Zero and bring him to justice." Suzaku looked off into the distance. "If I find Zero it might make me seem more suitable to the nobility. I want to help Euphie as best I can. I know it might not be much, but it's all I can do other than keep on advancing in the ranks."
Lelouch was extremely glad for his friend's candidness. It made the future a harder place, but Lelouch couldn't falter. "Finding two lost members of the royal family would do the same thing I suppose."
"No. That has nothing to do with why I wanted to talk to you two. Euphie sometimes likes to talk about you and ask questions about your time in Area Eleven." Suzaku paused before continuing, his face showing his torn feelings. "I don't like lying to her about your death. When she asked, I said that you two didn't survive the journey. I don't enjoy lying to her. But if you don't want me to tell her the truth I won't. You two are my friends and I would never betray you."
"I'll think about it. I take it you didn't mention it to Nunally?" Nunally was more likely to want to meet Euphie again. And Lelouch was hard pressed to deny his sister anything.
"No. I thought I should let you know first. I'll mention it to Nunally later. I can't hide my engagement like I do at work. Nunally's my friend also."Suzaku spoke sincerely and Lelouch knew that, sadly, it was true. Suzaku did consider both Lelouch and Nunally friends.
"Thank you." The two of them started walking again. Neither tried to breach the silence. Both of them were lost in their own world of thought.
Kallen waited apprehensively for Zero. Zero had called her aside to meet after training the newer recruits. It wasn't odd for meetings with Zero to be at night.
"Kallen how are the latest batch of recruits doing?" Zero finally entered the room. His voice calm and collect.
"They're doing fine. Better than expected actually. A few of them might even be able to pilot Gekkas in a few more months. Assuming we get more of them."
Zero nodded at that unspoken question. "Yes I have plans to acquire more Knightmares. Enough to wage a full scale war with. If you have enough pilots ready at that time Japan's freedom becomes more than a possibility."
Kallen looked admiringly at the masked man. If he claimed he could acquire Knightmares she believed him. Everything he had said would happen came to pass. Well other than that incident with the Commander at Narita. But that had been mostly her fault. If she had just been faster or strong enough to destroy that White Knightmare.
She had apologized to Zero afterwards but he had waved it off saying 'one cannot plan for the completely unexpected, only the unlikely. Fault lies only with those who shirk their duty, which you have not. You did as best you could and prevented us from having higher losses.' Kallen refused to accept that. She should have been better. As such she had been running herself ragged in the simulator since then.
"Zero, I heard that we're going to be moving soon on to something big. Everyone knows it, but I've heard two or three conflicting plans. What's going to happen?"
"Presently we have no spies. But as time progresses the Black Knights will grow larger. Eventually someone in our group will defect, for money, blackmail, or out of some other motivation. It is best to keep information on a "need to know" basis."
"Don't you trust us?" Kallen felt hurt by this insinuation that they couldn't be trusted. And this was coming from a guy in a mask.
Zero put a hand onto Kallen's shoulder. "Kallen. I trust you Ohgi and many of the others. But I can't trust everyone. And some actions that I hide from you are for a reason other than secrecy." Zero's words were heavy and laden with weariness.
Kallen understood that running something like the Black Knights had to be harder than it looked. Especially since Zero did a great deal of the planning himself. "Sorry."
"You believe that I do not trust you. You are worried. There is no need to apologize." Zero's voice became more serious and returned to its normal aloofness. "Which brings us to what I wanted to speak to you about. You've had an offer in the past to work at Fleija, correct?"
Kallen nodded wondering both how Zero knew this and where he was going with this train of thought.
"I want you to accept the job in Human Resources part time. You will be scheduled to work September third. However, due to a clerical error, no one will check up on you. A few prerecorded phone calls and it will be accepted that you were present."
Kallen looked surprised. "Why? Why would I want to work at a place like that? They treat 'Elevens' as disposable laborers."
"They treat them better than many places. They also hire a great many more Honorary Britannians than normal." Zero's calm voice pointed out some of the facts that Kallen had overlooked in her attack.
"That doesn't make them good alright."
"That is irrelevant. We have some contacts in Fleija. I'd prefer you not spread this around. Ohgi is aware of this as well as a few other members. Our contacts can cover for you during a few missions. Eventually you will need an alibi should you be spotted."
Kallen accepted the argument only because her step mother had been suggesting that she start looking more seriously for a husband. Not something Kallen had any intention of doing anytime soon. Working at Fleija might serve as another good excuse. "I'll call Nina in the morning. She might already have someone or be too busy to help me out. I mean the program she's studying for is a lot harder then mine."
"Arrangements have already been made." Zero nodded slightly. "I must take my leave now unfortunately. Other people need to see me as well this evening."
Kallen accepted that quickly. "Right." She turned to leave but Zero had one last thing to say.
"Keep up the good work."
"With the recruits?"
Kallen nodded briskly to hide her pleasure at the praise. She then hurried out of the room.
30 August 2020 a.t.c.
Diethard Reid was a successful man. He had everything that a man could really want in his profession. He had risen from a newscaster to a highly ranked producer at a national television broadcasting station. Really there was nowhere else for him to go.
But he was not content. Reporting on Britannia propaganda was so dry and boring. He was a master at creating new angles or making an unpopular story into front page material. But after a time even that lost its challenge. For the last few years he had simply been allowing himself to drift along.
But that had changed a few months ago. Zero. A man who performed on the national stage, and who used tricks and traps to bring down his enemies. Every move was flawless and furthered some unseen plan. The man's theatrical style was impeccable.
The Black Knights, who had only existed for a few months, were already national heroes to the Elevens. And Deithard could feel his reporter's instinct telling him that Zero wasn't going to stop anytime soon.
As such, Diethard had actually tracked down a Black Knight recruiter and applied. He knew it would be difficult to gain entry to such an organization, but the only way to make a story about Zero was to record it from the inside. Diethard had attached a few pieces of choice information that were not available to the general public.
Diethard didn't expect to be contacted for a great many weeks yet. he was surprised to see a cloaked figure waiting for him when he entered his apartment.
Zero rose to his feet and nodded his head in greeting. "I received your application. Though I must admit my curiosity. Why would a Britannian who is as successful as yourself be interested in joining us?"
Diethard's pulse raced. He hadn't expected to meet Zero in person for a long time. He had anticipated perhaps weeks of being a lowly grunt, before he was able to sufficiently convince the Black Knights that he was trust worthy. He also knew that if he failed this interview there was no second chance. "Britannia is stagnant and monolithic. My production and news casting skills are wasted on them. You are a force of change. I want to record your story, and the only way to do so is by your side."
Zero didn't answer immediately. Diethard considered trying to expound more on his reasons but he held his tongue. Those were his reasons and either Zero would believe them or not.
"There are no full Britannians as yet in the Black Knights."
"I would be more than willing to be the first, Zero. I can provide enough information to assuage any of your subordinates' doubts."
"Information is useful. But in order to be trusted you would have to take an active role."
"Of course." Diethard knew that information, no matter how good, would not be enough to ensure his place immediately in the organization. By taking an active role he would be as guilty as the other Black Knights.
"Very well I will be sending you a message later. You will be taking part in an important role in an upcoming mission. One of great importance. If your actions match your words you will be accepted as a full member."
"Of course." Diethard knew that even after that there would be more tests of loyalty, but this was a start. It was then the window to his apartment opened and Zero dropped a small device on the ground releasing a flash of light.
Diethard blinked a few times to clear his eyes but Zero was gone. He made his way to the window and shut it. His apartment was on the 20th floor. Zero was truly a master performer. And a master performer needs a master producer to succeed.
In the hover car Sayoko looked questioningly at Zero. "Was that necessary Master Zero?" She did not look pleased that she had been forced to wait outside while her master had put himself in danger.
"Yes. I needed to see his face as he explained his reasons. From both his file and office it is obvious he is a man driven by his work. He would do anything to practice his craft and improve it." Zero removed his mask and set is aside in the car. This particular hover car was a prototype that had limited noise emissions. It had been outside Diethard's room the entire time.
"The story of Zero's capture would also be a good story would it not?" Sayoko wasn't letting the point go yet.
"Perhaps. But it would not be as great a story as Zero's rise to power and the destruction of the Britannian Empire. Diethard, if he is the man I think he is, will want to support a story that will last long after his lifetime."
Sayoko nodded finally. "As you wish Master." She obviously didn't trust the man yet.
"I'm not so foolish as to base my decisions off of one meeting. I plan on using him during the diversion next week. And, only after that, will I allow him limited access to our information networks. If he can prove himself useful and trusted then he will continue to rise." Lelouch reached over to the folders on the dash board. One was for Diethard, the other was for Jeremiah Gottwald.
He flipped through the one on the young Marquis. The file was not as comprehensive as Lelouch might have liked, but it was enough. He replayed Suzaku's words in his head. If Suzaku was correct, Lelouch had a great deal of leverage on Jeremiah. But unlike with Diethard, approaching Jeremiah was fraught with risks.
But the gains might prove worth it. Regardless Lelouch had no intentions of contacting Jeremiah until a later time. And after a great deal more investigation.
31 August 2020 a.t.c
Nina looked around the large Knightmare Frame Docking bay. It was certainly impressive. The technological equipment was state of the art. Nina wished she received as much funding as Lloyd did. Maybe she would pester Lelouch about it when she got back.
"Ahhh Nina there you are." In came the Earl of Asplund. He wore his normal white lab coat but Nina thought she saw a flash of pink and orange from his shirt underneath.
"Lloyd." Nina offered her hand to Lloyd which he promptly shook.
"I heard from a little bird you've been tasked with creating a device capable of stopping the Float System by our esteemed highness." Lloyd looked amused at this.
"Yes. I wanted to talk to you about a few things. The Knightmare Float System is slightly different from our system so I wanted to…"
Lloyd just shook his finger in front of Nina interrupting her. "Ah ah ah. Now Nina, I've known you for years. If you wanted to ask me about something you need a much better excuse."
Lloyd strolled around his mobile hanger as he continued. "What is it exactly that brings you out here? Hmmm?"
Nina finally nodded. Dealing with Lloyd was always interesting. "I heard about a new Knightmare being recently spotted. I thought that you might know something about it."
Nina flashed Lloyd a small photo of the Lancelot. "Ohoh so that's why you're here. Yes this is one of mine. The perfect Knightmare. Years ahead of any other Knightmare presently being used." Lloyd quickly appropriated the small photo.
"Though perhaps the real question I should be asking you is how you came by such a photo?"
Truthfully the photo had been retrieved off of the Gurren's memory banks of the fight. Nina, however, had been coached by one of the most skilled liars around. "I managed to find this online along with some footage of the fight." Nina blushed slightly. "I know it was probably from one of the Black Knight's Knightmares, but the footage was just so interesting."
"Online?" Nina couldn't tell if Lloyd believed her or not.
"Yes though it was removed from the server afterwards. We don't know who was responsible… no one knows who was responsible for it." Nina hoped to convince Lloyd that it had been put on to Fleija's network by a terrorist member, to be sent to another working in Fleija. Having it known that terrorist worked at Fleija would be reason enough for her to want to avoid talking about it. And there were enough Elevens employed at Fleija that it was plausible.
"Regardless, exactly how much footage was uploaded onto the Network, excuse me Online?"
"A few minutes worth." Nina noticed Lloyd's sudden increase in interest and continued. "The Float system appears to run slightly differently and the shields appeared to be modified Blaze Luminous shields, similar to the Avalon."
"Actually the Blaze Luminous Shields on the Avalon were originally based off of the Lancelot's prototype version."
"But that would mean that you came up with a solution to the Borne Mathers conundrum when dealing with the Blaze Luminous Shielding before he even found the problem."
Lloyd preened under the attention. "But of course. He was never even a rival. Only a few others know how large of an egg head that one is. I mean really if he just considered the Sakuradite acting as both a damper and amplifier he would never have published that ridiculous theory."
From there the talk degenerated into talk about the various theories behind the shielding. Nina had never been skilled in that particular field. The talk drifted to a few other areas as Lloyd loved talking about the Lancelot. Nina, despite her enjoyment, noticed that Lloyd skirted several questions.
As they talked two voices could be heard approaching. "So I was able to see him last night. Turns out they both went to Ashford."
"That's wonderful Suzaku." The second voice belonged to Cecile and as such was quite familiar to Nina. Cecile was also a skilled scientist and inventor when she had to be one.
"It seems that our discussion must come to an end. I have more tests to perform on the Lancelot. Though you must send me that footage you mentioned. Even if it's imperfect it represents actual data from the Lancelot's first test run."
"I'll send it right over." Nina couldn't be sure how much Lloyd knew about everything and she was worried that he knew more than she wanted him to. But Lloyd was a man of science first and foremost. As long as he gained nothing from telling, he probably wouldn't. If anything he would treat it as a professional courtesy. Nina always thought that Lloyd had a sort a mentor outlook when dealing with her. Not that she minded, as Lloyd was an inventor in a league of his own.
And Nina might be able to provide him with more footage in the future or help on a particular project. Nina hoped that would be enough to dissuade Lloyd from looking any further.
Regardless, she had gained the information that Lelouch had asked for. She was just getting ready to leave when Cecile and her guest entered the room.
"Nina right?" The Eleven… Japanese man asked her. It took a moment to place him.
"Yes. It's good to see you again Suzaku." Nina smiled but it looked badly faked.
"Umm yeah." Suzaku, Nina's rival in love, seemed surprised to see her here.
"Oh, so you two know each other?" Cecile looked please by this development. Nina visited often enough that the researchers got along quite nicely.
Suzaku glanced at Nina's face, feeling a bit uneasy. "Yes. We met last night at dinner. You never mentioned what it is you do."
Cecile gestured slightly towards Nina as though she was on display. "Nina here is the owner of Fleija. She's the designer behind the miniaturized float system and most of the technology being developed by Fleija." Suzaku looked visibly surprised. Then again it did explain how Nina had designed the hover chair used by Nunally.
"And here is the last part to the Lancelot. He has a 95% sync ratio with the systems as its deviser. Quite the impressive performance." Lloyd contributed his own coloring of the situation. Lloyd clearly thought of Suzaku as being a part of the Lancelot, rather than as a person.
Suzaku glanced at Lloyd questioningly. Nina understood why he was curious. She wasn't military personnel.
Cecile quickly answered the unspoken question. "Nina often comes by here to speak to Lloyd. They've worked on a few collaborations." Mostly the collaborations had been minor improvements to the Float system used by both researchers. Lloyd used them for Knightmare development and Nina used them for commercial application.
Nina forced herself to be more open and accepting, despite the possibility of Suzaku being a love rival. After talking for a few more minutes with the group she took her leave claiming an important meeting.
Suzaku watched Nina leave. "You shouldn't take it too personally. Nina has issues with most Elevens, honorary Britannians or not." Suzaku glanced over to Cecile. She looked slightly apologetic.
Sometimes it seemed like she was psychic in how she knew what he was thinking. "And other honorary Britannians?" Suzaku asked curiously.
"She's more accepting of them. She tries to be accepting of Elevens as well, so she hires a great many of them. But…"
"Sometimes one's past is a difficult thing to over come. Wouldn't you agree Suzaku?" Lloyd had finally rejoined them and was now twirling the key to the Lancelot. "Regardless there are some tests I'd like to run."
A young Chinese man made his way across the mountain side following an old dirt road. At the end of the road a small cottage could be seen. It had no neighbors within five miles. Reaching his cottage at long last he opened the door quickly.
"C.C I'm back. People are looking for you but they can't find you. Not here. Never here." Mao opened the small cottage door and put down the bags of groceries. The bags mostly contained chocolate and candies. Though there were some few fruits and breads as well.
"I remembered what you said. That I shouldn't buy just candies. But they taste so good." Mao's voice was childish, but anyone listening to him would have believed that he was mostly insane.
The object that he was speaking to was a girl with green hair. She didn't respond to Mao. Not even giving him a glance as he entered the house.
"C.C, I know I said we wouldn't have to move again but I think we might have to. You don't mind right?" Mao looked over at C.C again.
"Oh I knew you'd understand." Mao clapped his hands and he began preparing the food that he had acquired. He put a plate down in front of C.C but she never stirred.
"C.C we'll always be together. Forever and ever just like you promised."
C.C's blank eyes just continued staring out into the air in front of her as though it contained all the answers of the universe.
Mao checked the chains again to make sure C.C hadn't been playing games again. He didn't like it when C.C tried to play hide and seek. Especially when she hid so far away like she had 11 years ago. It had taken him 3 years to find her again.
Recently though she had stopped moving. Or talking. Maybe it was after their airplane trip? But Mao was smart, and he understood that C.C loved him. The chains were just to stop her from playing mean games. Not that C.C could be mean.
Mao hummed to himself as he began bustling around the house. His only companion C.C chained to the wall and who had not moved in years. Sometimes he wished she'd talk to him again. But he had his recordings and they reminded him daily just how much C.C loved him.
Interlude 5 Life and Love
Time: Anytime after 25th of August
Kallen was bushed and exhausted from the past week's activities. Sometimes it seemed like the Black Knights could go only days without something major happening. But right now she was having a girl's night out with the three females of the Executive Members.
The three of them were sprawled out in one of the command center's rooms on a couch watching a very cheesy romance movie. They had also brought some wine that had long since disappeared earlier in the evening.
"So when are you going to ask him out Chiba?" Inoue pestered the only female Holy Swords member.
"I don't know what you're talking about. Colonel Tohdoh and I have nothing between us." If Kallen had been blind and tone deaf she might have even believed Chiba.
As it stood, Kallen, for all her drinking, remained able to see though it. "Riiight. Then why is it that every time we have a meeting you happen to be standing beside Tohdoh?" Kallen quizzed the rather distraught Chiba.
It was a rather bizarre scene to behold. Here was Chiba in her thirties being quizzed by two women greatly her juniors. "What about you Kallen? I've noticed that you keep staring at Zero whenever he's in the room."
Kallen blushed slightly. "That's because he's our leader." Truthfully Kallen might have developed a bit of hero worship but that was it. She was convinced that that was it. She took another drink from her wine glass finishing it off in one gulp.
"Now who's in denial?" Inoue sniped from the side lines. The other two glared at her. Inoue was the only one of them who had no clear crush or infatuation to point out.
"But really I can see why you're so attracted to Colonel Tohdoh. He's powerful, quick witted and above all good looking. Maybe I should ask him out." Inoue adopted a thinking pose as though seriously considering it.
"You, you can't. Colonel Tohdoh is very busy right now and has no time for that sort of thing." Chiba blushed bright red. It might have been the alcohol but her argument didn't make that much sense to the others.
"Ok. So Tohdoh's taken then." Chiba looked as though she wanted to deny it, but decided against it. "Well there's always Zero. But then again he could be old, or be married. He can't be that young if he's leading a rebellion. I'm guessing 35ish considering all the acrobatics he can do."
Kallen looked horrified by this thought. "Zero is Zero. He's well he just… He can't be married."
Inoue pursed her lips. "Zero might also be a girl. We've never seen her face."
Kallen grew even more agitated "Zero's a guy damn it." He had to be a guy.
Chiba nodded. "It would make sense that Zero's a girl. If you think about it, her build does look rather feminine. Also women are known to be smarter and better planners."
Inoue nodded in agreement. "And woman have more charisma."
Kallen finally burst out "You're wrong. Zero's a guy. He has to be. In fact I'll go ask him right now." Kallen got up and stormed out of the room leaving the other two women laughing in her wake.
Kallen poked her head back into the room. "And I'll tell Colonel Tohdoh that one of his swords is after him."
Kallen then withdrew and Chiba dashed after her. "You can't."
Inoue just settled back to finish watching the movie. Wine, popcorn and movies really went well in her mind. She'd have to do this again sometime. Those two were just so amusing once they'd had enough to drink.
Sayoko had just finished meeting with Ohgi and the others to straighten out some final last minute plans. She was still dressed as Zero as Master Lelouch had been busy at Fleija.
It was at this time she was confronted by a rather distraught looking Kallen. Judging from Kallen's breath there had been some alcohol consumed recently. Sayoko then recalled that Inoue had requested one of the rooms for a girl's only party. Tamaki had complained about it. He argued that since that Inoue got have her party, and wasn't kicked out from her position, he shouldn't have been either. Master Lelouch hadn't cared because Inoue, for the most part, caused the money managed by her to grow.
"Yes?" Sayoko had long since become used to acting like Master Lelouch's Zero persona. It was rather theatrical and matching that charisma was difficult but after careful practice and study she had succeeded for the most part.
"I was wondering…" Kallen looked really uncomfortable continuing. Sayoko considered escorting Kallen to bed but remembering Master Lelouch's orders on fraternization decided to not make that offer.
Finally Kallen burst out. "Zero, are you a woman?"
Sayoko paused. Such a question was not one she had expected. Finally she did a quick decision based on Kaguya's recent proposal to Master Lelouch "No. Why would you ask such a question?"
Kallen blushed extremely embarrassed. "It was Inoue. She kept suggesting you were a girl and I had to know."
"I am Zero and that is all that should matter. But for the record I am not a woman." Sayoko hesitated at saying man. Technically shinobi were supposed to be genderless tools that served their master.
Kallen looked as though she was finally going to fall over from relief and the amount of alcohol she had consumed. Sayoko reached over to support Kallen's body and brought her over to one of the chairs. Setting Kallen down Sayoko put a blanket over Kallen and left. Sayoko made a mental note to mention Kallen's state to Ohgi and Master Lelouch.
Drinking while in the command centre should be made against the rules, for safety reasons.
In Kallen's mental haze she purposefully ignored the slight squishy feeling of Zero's suit as Zero set her down in the chair. It was probably just the material of the uniform, not bound breasts. It was definitely the uniform.
"Which is why you can't believe everything you hear."
Tohdoh nodded his head. "Of course, believing false intelligence is the way to defeat."
"Especially gossip from younger girls."
"I would never use children as spies. And listening to gossip from children, male or female, is unprofessional." Colonel Tohdoh was currently humoring one of his subordinates who apparently had too much to drink.
He didn't disapprove of drinking, he just believed it had a time and place. But Chiba had mentioned earlier in the evening the Inoue had called a girls movie night in one of the rooms. Clearly someone had brought some alcohol.
He had encountered Chiba after finishing some routine maintenance on his Gekka. She had appeared distraught and so he continued answering her nonsensical and obvious questions. Clearly she had been drinking for too much. As such as a responsible person and one of the few people still in the base he stayed by her side as would be expected of him.
Of course he was going to have to give her a reminder to do her drinking off base. There was a time and a place after all.
Excerpt Nina's Notes Date 05/06/19
Deleted by Admin_Nina date 05/06/19
Recovered by Admin_Zero date 06/06/19
Saved by Admin_Zero in location Psyche Evaluation 06/06/19
The data for the new streamlined Hovercraft is falling 16% below expectations. Possible reasons include defective production and shoddy assembly.
I hate this part of running Fleija. If people just did what they were supposed to do things would be so much simpler. Lelouch often says that people aren't numbers and that no strategist can plan for their actions completely.
But I wish that people could. Things would be so much easier. I'm also not entirely convinced that that hiring Elevens is in Fleija's best interest. I know that Nunally likes them so they can't be completely horrible.
Sometimes people ask me why I don't like them. I always reply that they are Elevens. Elevens can't be trusted. When you turn your back to them they attack and grab you. They hold you down.
I'm a genius which is to say I learn at an incredible rate and can make connections that few others can see let alone comprehend. But my greatest strength is my memory. I remember far too well some days.
I remember my early days clearly. My mother and father were always busy. But they loved me I think in their own way. I spent a great deal of time with my grandfather. He was always tinkering with his Knightmares. I learned a great deal from him about research and science in general. When I wasn't in my grandfather's workshop I lived at home by myself.
I had a Britannian Nanny as is proper. Mother always said that one could never completely trust a Number. Grandfather sometimes disagreed with her but father always sided with mother.
Regardless while we weren't wealthy we were well off I think. My father worked for the Ashford Conglomerate as an accountant and my mother as a minor secretary. My Grandfather worked in the R&D department. As such we lived well.
It wasn't until Lady Marianne died that life became more difficult for my family. Since we worked for the Ashford family we lost when they did. My Grandfather had a heart attack shortly afterwards. Having lost access to his passion he quickly deteriorated.
I hope that I myself will not become like that. But if I ever was unable to continue work in my field I'm not sure what I would do. I am also young, so research suggests I would be capable of moving on.
When we heard that the Ashford Family was moving to Area Eleven we followed. That is my mother, father and I moved to Area Eleven. It wasn't a nice place. We lived on the outskirts of the settlement. In our block there were many Elevens. Mother wasn't happy at the time, but it was all we could afford. A secretary and school teacher's salary wasn't much.
I think it was less then a year after moving in that it happened. My mother and father had always 'treated the Elevens as they should be'. Their words not mine. I'm not sure what started it but it came suddenly. One day they were here the next they were gone.
I remember the faces of the people when they broke in. There were three I think, yelling at us. I think father said something about them being worthless and to go back to the ghettos. Father went down first, Mother followed.
-Section deleted By Admin_Zero-
It was at this point I awoke in the hospital. I remember the doctors and nurses. I stayed there for many months and answered many questions. I believe the men were caught but I had learned an important lesson. That mother was quite correct in saying one cannot trust a Number.
Nunally says that Elevens are really Japanese so they aren't really Numbers. I hate the people that took my parents from me. They were Numbers. But Sayoko and a few others they're Japanese.
This may seem to be contradictory but it isn't to me. Lelouch plans on freeing Japan and making everyone Japanese. If Britannia is destroyed there will be no more Numbers only people. Nunally likes many people who are Numbers. If she believes they are good then they must be people not Numbers.
Regardless I seem to have gotten off track. Computer delete previous musings….
Deleted by Admin_Nina
Not to be taken Seriously
Lelouch started at Suzaku. "So you're engaged to Euphie. I'm kind of surprised Cornelia hasn't killed you yet."
Suzaku nodded. "So far I think she's been behind seven of the assignation attempts. The other fifteen I think were organized by Guilford independently. Then again Darlton has also been giving me a dirty look. So he might have been behind that training accident."
Lelouch was honestly slightly surprised. "That's not that many actually. I thought that Cornelia would have tried a great many more times."
"Euphie asked her not to. And Princess Cornelia stopped. But her subordinates haven't."
"Do you think you'll survive to reach the wedding?"
"I survived meeting Princess Cornelia when we went to tell her about our engagement. After surviving that I can't think of anything more dangerous." Suzaku shuddered in the memory of that meeting.
"So what was the worst one so far?" Lelouch was mildly curious.
Suzaku flinched. "The cats."
Lelouch looked at him in curiosity. "How were they used? It doesn't sound that bad."
Suzaku clammed up.
After thirty minutes Lelouch gave up. What ever happened must have been horrifying.
3 months ago
"And the official mascot of the Military Academy of Area 15 is now the Cat. Every recruit is expected to raise one cat at least. The cat's are to be kept on the grounds and not locked up. Any recruit not keeping a cat will be discharged."
Suzaku groaned. He liked cats but cats hated him. And shortly his worst nightmare was realized in the form of thousands of cats. Wherever he went they were there. Scratching, biting, and hissing.
"Are you sure about this Princess Cornelia? Many of the recruits have left due to allergies." This came from the officer in charge of the military academy.
"If our recruits cannot put up with a little bit of hardship then they are not worthy of becoming soldiers let alone pilots. Send the weaklings where they belong." Secretly Cornelia thoughts were 'I can't kill you but I can make your life hell.' Cornelia was very grateful for Euphie's story about Arthur and Suzaku.