The Spoils of War
A/N: Greetings faithful, hope you enjoyed your vacation as much as I did. I would like to thank you all for reading, if you've reviewed this at any point, I thank you again. I draw a lot of inspiration from you guys. I'm sure you're all eager to get to the story so without further delay, I give to you the next chapter.
Lelouch looked up at the sky, it was early in the day but it promised to be a long one. In terms of his surroundings everything was peaceful, there was a gentle breeze pushing through the courtyard. It was just warm enough that the breeze was welcomed, few clouds in the sky blotted out the sun every now and again. It would have been perfect, had it not been for the students buzzing around him in the courtyard. Most of them trying to talk to him about Narita, he simply ignored every voice that he heard, not even bothering to recognize any of them. The Black Knights had recently hit a critical point, with Cornelia on his side there wasn't an obstacle in his way for miles. Now wasn't the time to get soft though, he needed this time to bolster his forces as much as he possibly could before the Empire realized what was going on. He needed to focus solely on recruiting and supplying. Only problem was his teachers had notified him that his attendance was being watched very closely due to recent absences. He would need to uphold his image as a student, regardless of where it fell on his personal priorities. Chatter continued to swirl around him as he brought a hand towards his forehead, a gesture of frustration as he continued into the main halls of the school.
Luckily today he had time to himself before his first class started. "The roof it is." He muttered beneath his breath as he cut a path through the swarming crowd as the first bell closed in. Amongst all the noise he was able to discern the vibration in his pocket. All he needed right now was another problem to toss onto his pile. He pulled out his phone, he'd received a text message from Kallen.
"Hey you free? ~K" Lelouch looked at the message with a sigh, it wasn't important or she would have signed it differently. That considered he didn't respond and returned his phone to his pocket. As he pulled himself up the stairs he heard the first bell ring. Good that meant that the halls would thin drastically. The fewer people that saw him or spoke with him, the better. He opened the door to the rooftops, the air tasted so fresh up there for some reason. Even though it was the exact same air he'd inhaled not minutes ago, it was different up here. It was exactly what he needed, calm and quiet.
He went over his schedule in his head for the rest of the day, at least he had simple classes so apart from showing up he didn't have much to worry about in terms of school. After school he needed to start delegating some work to the rest of the Black Knights in particular he needed a way to go through applications quickly, it was too mundane of a task for him to carry out but he needed someone intelligent enough to realize which were the real applicants and which ones were traps. Diethard came to mind, he seemed to have a good head about him. Perhaps he could have someone there to watch over Diethard to ensure that everything goes smoothly, that person needed to be more loyal than intelligent. He needed to know about the slightest of hiccups, Diethard seemed trustworthy but precautions were necessary. Perhaps Ohgi, Lelouch thought to himself. Still, with that issue aside he still needed to deal with Jeremiah, Cornelia, and he had a meeting with Taizo Kirihara as well. At least he'd already secured the new headquarters for the Black Knights, nobles were so giving under the power of geass. His thoughts were interrupted by the roof door opening, drawing his attention.
"Hey I figured you might be up here, did you get my text?" Kallen asked from the door way slowly making her way towards the raven haired revolutionist.
"I got it." Lelouch responded rather blandly, not looking up to meet her gaze.
"Okay..." Kallen responded cautiously. "Is something wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong." Lelouch confirmed nonchalantly. Kallen simply stood there for a moment not sure how to proceed. "Everything okay with you?" He tried to put sincerity behind it but couldn't tell whether he accomplished that task or not.
"Yeah, I was just..." Kallen was at a loss for words at the moment. She suddenly felt rather foolish for caring. "Forget it. Sorry I bothered you." She turned to walk away, what was his deal? Had she done something unknowingly? Maybe he just needed some time to think. She opened the door back into the school and glanced back over her shoulder but Lelouch was already lost in his thoughts again, paying no attention to her exit at all. Jerk.
Try as he might Kallen threw him off his train of thought, he kept trying to get back on track and figure out how he was going to organize everything that had to be done today. Minutes flew by but every time he started to piece bits together, Kallen's interruption kept forcing itself back into his mind. "Just couldn't leave me alone for one minute could you?" Lelouch asked aloud, luckily with no one around to hear it. He shook his head with frustration as his alarm went off, it was already time for his first class. He had computer applications with lab. That was possibly as good as it could get, he would have time to work alone with his laptop, as long as he did the work he'd get credit. Nothing told him that he had to do the work today though. He pulled himself up from his sitting position and made his way to the classroom. The only way it could be better is if he was in the class alone, unfortunately Kallen and Shirley were in that class with him. He groaned as he opened the door, he took his seat in the second row. His seat was directly in front of Shirley who sat in the third row. Kallen sat in the first row in the corner, a few desks away from Lelouch.
At least she won't be sitting next to me; hopefully I can get some work done. Lelouch looked up towards the clock as the tardy bell rang. The teacher had yet to be seen, which was odd because Lelouch knew for a fact that this particular teacher only taught in this room, they wouldn't have a reason to leave other than a restroom break. "Oh no." Lelouch already knew where this was going, his luck was very predictable.
"Greetings and salutations class." Reisdorph walked in with a mock tone. He looked around, noticing that many students weren't paying any attention to him at all. They were already consumed in their work. Lelouch let his face free fall into his desk. Reisdorph looked in the direction of the noise. "I see some familiar faces in here." He grinned sinisterly as he took attendance.
"What happened to Mr. Neely?" A student chimed in.
Who the hell cares? Lelouch thought to himself, it didn't matter what happened to the previous teacher either way he was stuck in yet another class with the sadistic professor.
"Mr. Neely…" Reisdorph seemed to choke up for a moment. The class was suddenly paying attention, had something happened to their old teacher? Perhaps he was caught in the disaster at Narita. "Was recruited as a computer technician into the..." The man let out a slight sob. "Britannian special forces!" He finished with a loud cry. The rest of the students looked on with shock and awe.
"What's so bad about that? Clearly it was something he chose to do." The inquisitive student prodded.
"That little weasel didn't deserve the position he got! He must have had someone pulling strings, I smell a conspiracy and I'm going to find it!" Reisdorph thrust his hand so vigorously into the air that he lost his grip on his clipboard and it stuck into the ceiling above his head. He looked up and then at the rest of the class. Seeing that the clipboard was out of his reach due to his short stature he simply acted as if it never happened.
A student in the back row raised his hand. Reisdorph was eager to change the subject so he quickly called on the young man. The student stood from his chair, "yes sir, I was simply wondering your thoughts on the plausibility of Britannia exchanging its 4th and 5th generation Knightmare frames for a stronger, more up to date model. Granted the cost would be great but with threats like the Black Knights on the rise, you can't put a cost on safety can you?"
The professor's eyes lit up with joy. "What a fantastic question! A+ for you. I'll throw up some figures on the board so that we can go over them and discuss the pros and cons of newer Knightmare frame models." With that the professor whirled around and scribbled like mad to throw out as many facts as he could. Hardly any of it was even legible. Lelouch looked back at the student who asked the question, he received a high five from his friend who sat adjacent to him. They leaned back and closed their eyes, apparently they had dealt with Reisdorph before.
Lelouch was surprised, perhaps this class wouldn't turn into a total waste after all. He opened up his laptop and started looking up the quickest way to meet with Taizo Kirihara later. Mid research an instant message popped up on his screen, it was over the school network so he couldn't simply log out. Lelouch gritted his teeth for a moment.
"Hey Lulu, I know something is up. Talk to me. :)" The message was from Kallen.
Shirley noticed that Lulu had received an instant message and watched as he simply closed the window. She couldn't quite see who the message was from but she knew the sender had to be in their class. That narrowed it down significantly. Shirley honed in on Kallen quickly and noticed that she still had an instant message open on her screen. That was strange Shirley thought to herself, was something the matter between Kallen and Lulu?
K: "You can't just ignore me Lelouch."
L: "Please just leave me alone."
K: "Was it something I said? : ( I'm sorry"
K: "Can I help?"
L: "No. I don't have time for this."
Shirley could see the frustration on Lelouch's face as he held his head in his palm. Another instant message popped up but neither she nor Lulu could read it as he closed his laptop. Shirley couldn't help but get a little excited, perhaps the happy couple wasn't so happy after all. She just may have a chance with her crush yet.
Lelouch packed up his things and made for the door. Reisdorph was completely absorbed in his chicken scratch, trying to write as small as he possibly could to make room for more figures and calculations. Without so much as a whisper Lelouch was gone, even most of the students were unaware, either sleeping or consumed in their newly acquired free time.
Kallen noticed though, with a tear in her eye she looked down to the last message she'd sent. Seemingly the message that made Lelouch get up and walk away; "It's okay, I understand. I love you :)" It was the first time that she'd said those words, not just to Lelouch but to anyone outside of her family. She wasn't even sure if she meant those words, they kind of just typed themselves. However, it didn't take a genius to realize that his response wasn't favorable. She lowered her head into her arms and sulked. Clearly she needed to rethink some things, this wasn't working.
Lloyd was looking over the budget for the Lancelot repairs. Unfortunately he didn't have the funds to undergo such drastic repair work. In order to get the white knight up and running again, he was going to need a bit of a loan. He decided to make his plea with Cornelia, she was a soldier and she knew the value of the Lancelot on the battlefield. She was his best chance. Lloyd dialed her via video display, due to his position he got through rather quickly.
"What is it Earl Asplund?" Cornelia's tone was a bit rushed. It was obvious she had her schedule rather full.
"Good to see you Cornie, I will try to make this short. You see the Lancelot suffered quite a lot of damage in the last battle and I was wondering who I should send the invoice to." Lloyd said in an expecting tone, he found it was the only way to work with other nobles.
"Invoice?" Cornelia nearly snarled. "Does the special core not take care of their own these days? Should I also include a roll of toilet tissue? Or can you handle that on your own?"
"I'd be glad to keep my team on the project, but we seem to have run into a budget issue." Lloyd admitted sheepishly.
"To what extent?" Cornelia arched her brow.
"To the extent that we no longer have one." Lloyd laughed to himself.
"Actually we're in the red." Cecile chimed in holding up her latest culinary experiment. "A girl's gotta eat."
"Suppose putting our entire budget just on the parts may not have been our best move..." Lloyd digressed.
"You were so adamant about getting top of the line parts that you cut corners. You didn't even install an ejection block..." Cecile continued to ramble on.
"I'm fully aware of my mistakes. The data was just so promising, everything was running perfectly. Give or take a few mishaps obviously." Lloyd pressed on, trying to justify his actions.
"How does the data read now Earl Asplund? Still perfect? Because on the battlefield there are more variables to account for than your precious data. Perhaps you'd care to join us on the front lines? The data is much more appealing in first person, I assure you." Cornelia spoke with a condescending tone as was common in her arguments.
"Not my taste personally, I've devoted my mind to science so that I can change the world, rather than destroy it." Lloyd watched her reaction as her eyes narrowed. Realizing that arguing with the woman wasn't going to get him anywhere, he decided to take a different approach. "So am I to understand that you intend to battle that new red Knightmare without the Lancelot?"
Cornelia considered this for a moment. "I'll see what I can do." While she had intended to stall the Lancelot's repair, such an argument was sure to be taken over her head. She killed the transmission before Lloyd could get his last laugh in. Still she could probably buy Zero a few days, surely better than nothing.
C.C. sat in Lelouch's room looking through one of his notebooks. She was told to stay in his room until he got back, but that didn't mean she had to stay out of his things. Unfortunately there wasn't much that she cared to read in the notebooks that she'd found. Mostly just schoolwork and random thoughts. She wanted to read something juicy, something that he hid from everyone else. It was obvious to her that the red head was clearly winning his heart at the moment, but it was far from over.
She heard Lelouch's voice in the main room, he was greeting his sister. C.C. panicked for a moment and tried to tidy up everything as best as she could before he came in. She looked pensively out the window as he entered his room.
Lelouch sighed, "I forgot, you're still in here." He made his way to his desk and sat down, setting up his laptop.
"Right where you left me. I'll have you know I'm not a dog, I humored you while you left for Narita. Don't expect me to sit and wait like a good girl again. I need to look after my investments." The gold eyed witch said bluntly.
"Great you too... I need to get some work done, try not to talk." Lelouch tried to clear his head. Why did it seem like everyone suddenly wanted something from him today? How did anyone expect him to keep his rebellion afloat with so many people trying to drag him down?
Without feelings to hurt, C.C. calmly analyzed what he said. Clearly she wasn't his problem, he was upset when he came in. It seemed that he simply came here to get some peace and quiet. She couldn't know for sure, but she could speculate as to who it was at the heart of the matter. Regardless of who he was upset with she knew how to relieve stress, and she didn't need to talk.
Suzaku was still unconscious in a rather pristine hospital bed. No one by his side, but his own merits were far from worthy to land him in such great care. His injuries were serious but not critical, he had burns on nearly 30% of his body. They didn't look too bad but the sheer number of burns made him at risk for infection. A nurse came in to check his vitals, they seemed fairly normal. They readings matched the previous notes so he was stabilizing, now he simply needed to wake up. The nurse initialed some paperwork and left returned the vitals sheet. Upon leaving she gave the okay for Euphemia to enter. While her sister told her it was foolish to take such care of a soldier she hardly knew, it was simply in her nature to care. Every life was precious to her, and not only that but Suzaku still owed her a night of fresh air. Luckily she didn't have many duties to see to at the moment, which wasn't terribly rare. If anything she usually just had to give her initials or signature to some paperwork that she didn't fully understand. Of course she trusted those closest to her not to sneak things under her nose but even if they did, Cornelia would catch it sooner or later, over turn Euphemia's signature with her own and continue normally. Euphie felt like a figure head, but she needed to be more than that. She needed to make a difference in the world, like so many other people in the world. Her situation was slightly different however, most other people knew that if they only had they had the chance, they could make that change they dreamt of. Euphie on the other hand had all the chances in the world...
But it would be different with the Lancelot pilot. She could make a difference for him, just as she felt he could make a difference for her.
Kallen's phone went off during her walk home. For a moment she was hopeful, pulling her phone out only to realize that it was Ohgi. She furrowed her brows and flipped open her phone. "Hello?"
"Kallen, have you been able to get a hold of Zero? He's not responding to our calls. We weren't told where the new headquarters is yet."
"I've been trying to get through to him all day too." Kallen sighed. What was Lelouch thinking? She couldn't let him just slip off though. The Black Knights needed him, and although it was difficult to admit, she needed him too. If nothing else she needed answers, he couldn't expect to just brush her off entirely. She deserved an explanation at least. "Don't worry about it Ohgi, just get everyone together at the meeting point we'll be there as soon as we can." She hung up and turned around, heading back towards school. She would drag Zero out if she had to.
Kallen moved with determination until she reached school grounds and was yet again forced to act feeble and weak. Sometimes she envied Lelouch, at least he didn't have to act feeble, it's just who he was. She reached the door to his wing and knocked before checking the knob, it was locked as usual. After a moment Sayoko answered the door, opening it only slightly until she realized it was Kallen. With a bow she let the red head in and returned to her duties. Kallen moved straight for Lelouch's room his door wasn't locked and she barged right in, they were late enough as it was. Kallen blinked a few times and caught a playful grin from C.C., Lelouch looked up to see a rather pissed off looking Kallen with daggers in her eyes. "I'll be outside. We gotta go. Now." She shut the door and leaned with her back against the wall. It would seem that her words did indeed carry the weight she intended as Lelouch was outside with his duffle bag in mere moments. Kallen didn't bother to speak, she just started walking leaving Lelouch to trail behind her. She kept a quick pace and soon they were outside the school gates. Something was wrong, against her better judgment Kallen turned around to see that C.C. was close behind Lelouch. "She's coming as well?"
"I'll be staying at the new headquarters, you'll be seeing a lot more of me from here on out." C.C. responded with a catty tone.
"Not much more of you left to see." Kallen jabbed back. That one felt good, oh how she wanted to rub that witch's face into a brick.
"No need to get upset. You trust your boyfriend don't you?" The green haired woman asked innocently.
"Enough. We're late enough as it is, it's nearly three and we have a lot to do." Zero responded. While he was still dressed as Lelouch his voice was entirely different now.
It made Kallen feel ever so slightly better that he told C.C. off and not her. She was far from happy but that would have to wait, if not until they finished their current business, then at least until they were alone. Once they arrived at the large vehicle hidden beneath a series of tarps Lelouch stepped inside and got changed. Kallen was intent to stay outside and wait for him but C.C. walked in rather nonchalantly. Kallen was on her heels after she stepped into the decent sized trailer. Was this the new headquarters? It seemed fairly luxurious although slightly cramped. C.C. calmly sat down next to the driver seat. Was she just playing with Kallen, keeping her on her toes? She repressed the urge to hit the witch in the back of her stupid head and made her way towards the back of the trailer. There were a total of five rooms but benches lined the entire vehicle it seemed like it could comfortably support about twenty people for a trip. Lelouch was still getting changed but he had no problem with Kallen entering his new office. There was a round table with four chairs bolted into the ground around it on the right side of the room. On the left was a large cabinet that seemed to hold important files. In the back of the room was a small but expensive looking bed, next to the bed was a closet, likely for his zero costume. The room had a simple black and white theme but it looked nice. Kallen however wasn't concerned with the decor, she crossed her arms and tapped her fingers impatiently. "I can only assume you have some grand explanation for this." She waited and in a strange way hoped that his silver tongue could talk him out of this one.
"Rather simple really. I only just got all the details figured out for our trip to meat Kirihara." Zero responded, his guise becoming more complete by the moment.
"Just what does that explain exactly?" Kallen fumed.
"Why I'm late. Speaking of which, could you contact the others? They should be able to get here by the time we're ready, or should I say by the time I'm ready?" Zero chuckled to himself.
Kallen's jaw was clenched now just moments away from pummeling that look straight off his face. "What is that supposed to mean?" Zero nodded towards her attire as he finished getting dressed, only his helmet was in his hands. Kallen looked down and noticed she was still in her school uniform. "Shit!" She'd forgotten to stop at her house after getting Lelouch.
Zero shook his head casually. "Don't worry, I have spare uniforms. I even had a one set aside just for you, it's in the closet." He motioned towards the back corner of his room/office. "You'll be sharing this room as well so make yourself comfortable."
Kallen was shocked, was he incredibly dense or was he trying to make up for being an ass earlier? "Wait, share this room?" She eyed the small bed nervously, she may have slept with him nearby that night in her tent but that was different from sharing a bed.
"Being my second in command it only makes sense that you would stay in this room for our missions. Strategy is best developed in solitude." Zero concluded trying to make his way past Kallen.
"But the bed-" Kallen cut herself off, not entirely sure what else to say.
Zero looked back and let out a quick laugh. "I doubt we'll have any missions that keep us over night without any other options, but if it does happen the bed is yours. Now if you'll excuse me." Zero continued on his way out. "Don't worry about contacting the others I'll take care of that."
Kallen was completely confused, just what the hell was going on now? It was eating away at her but she couldn't stop everything and have Lelouch just talk everything out. Still he seemed better now, "wonder if C.C. had anything to do with that..." She groaned, "Ah stop it Kallen, you're doing this to yourself." She reached back into the closet and grabbed her new uniform. She began getting undressed as she wondered how Lelouch had figured out her measurements. She began to pull her shorts up her long toned legs as the door burst open. In a panic Kallen fell backwards with a shriek and tried her best to cover herself. Once she realized it was Zero she felt slightly better, he'd seen her in her underwear before at least.
Still wearing impractical underwear Lelouch thought to himself with a smirk. "Sorry, I realized as I was about to call Ohgi that my phone is dead. Wasn't paying attention earlier with all the planning. Could I use your phone?"
Kallen huffed and pulled her shorts the rest of the way on. Keeping her bra covered with her left arm she reached down and got her phone out of her pockets and tossed it to him. He caught it and turned around walking out of the room, shutting the door behind him. She pulled on her top and did all the buttons, for some reason this uniform seemed to fit her better. It was snug without being restricting. She looked at herself in the mirror in Lelouch's closet, of course he would have a mirror in his closet she laughed to herself. Once she was satisfied she walked towards the front of the vehicle.
"Alright the others are on their way. Now I need to contact Cornelia, if possible we'll pick up Jeremiah on the way." Zero looked over at his shoulder holding Kallen's phone, she nodded in approval.
"Are you sure you want him on our side? I mean do you think we can trust him?" Kallen asked.
"He held his own against you so yes he'll be valuable. As for trust we definitely can't, but geass is a wonderful thing." Zero walked towards the back of the trailer again.
"You say that now." C.C. finally spoke up from her position. Kallen was about to question her when she noticed the Black Knights were approaching. She opened the door for them to file in.
"Who's this broad?" Tamaki asked in reference to C.C.
"I'm Zero's..." C.C. paused for a moment. "Mistress."
"What?" Kallen interjected. "That's not true she's like his.. his body guard." Just when she'd finally calmed down she had to go and spread her lies.
Tamaki laughed as he worked his way farther into the trailer. "Yeah right Kallen like I'm going to believe that. You're his body guard. Whatever it's fine with me, long as she doesn't get in my way." He walked around like he owned the place.
Kallen let out a deep sigh. Why did being Zero's personal body guard suddenly sound so.. unfulfilling? She walked back to check on Zero and to make sure no one walked in on him before he was finished with Cornelia. She pressed her way past the other Black Knights as they took in the new headquarters. She opened the back door slightly and slipped in. Zero was holding his mask over his face until he realized it was Kallen.
"You understand that I'll need to keep up certain quotas on my end to ensure we don't rouse suspicion?" Cornelia asked. "I'm doing what I can with the Lancelot but the better I look the more I'll be able to help you."
"Just tell me what you need, I'll figure out how to make it work." Zero responded, drawing his finger over the seams of his helmet.
"I'll need Black Knights to capture and make an example of, preferably execute. I assume it goes without saying that I'll need to be involved in every large scale battle you take part in. We can arrange the details when we come to that though. It would be best to try and keep yourself under the radar though, if you show too much growth they will most likely send Schneizel to Area 11, and neither of us wants that."
"That sounds fine. I'll work out the details and get in contact with you soon. As for Jeremiah, I would prefer to take him into my custody as soon as possible." Zero responded rather casually considering he would have to offer up his soldiers as meat for the beast he intended to tame.
"I can release him right now. After I knew your interest in him I had him released from interrogation and held in detainment. I can send a small escort out with him to a location of your choice. Kill the guards and take your prize. Since you're going to offer up some of your men, it's only fair that I return the favor." Cornelia spoke as a Siren, beautiful as she was, she was undoubtedly blood thirsty.
"Very well then, the Kururugi shrine. Have him there in an hour." After her agreement he hung up the phone and returned it to Kallen. "Thank you." He placed his mask over his head and went to exit the room with Kallen.
Mao walked anxiously down the streets of Tokyo, with such a large population in his constant vicinity it made things difficult to separate. Still he had to carry on. He'd heard through a relatively long grapevine that a terrorist by the name of Zero was rumored to be immortal. The masked man had been shot in the head, only to stand, moments later, blood still dripping out of his mask. Normally he would question the credibility of such an act but after hearing it from so many minds he decided it would be worth investigating. That could be described as a perk for Mao, he never had to watch the news or worry about missing his favorite shows. He'd just spy into the minds of others and get all the information he needed. When dealing with a large group of people around him however, it became a difficult task to shut out the unnecessary information. This was precisely why he tended to live in more rural areas.
The biggest problem that he'd discovered was how notorious this Zero was. Everyone knew about him which made it slightly more difficult to track the masked terrorist. Still with the thoughts provided he was able to deduce that Zero was based out of the Tokyo settlement. All he had to do now was work his way around the city and endure all the screaming in his head. Eventually one of them would scream out that they work for Zero or better yet, that they are Zero. If they knew who C.C. was, then he would find what was most precious to them and take it from them. Blackmail had become a lifestyle for Mao, he knew the art well and utilized it often.
Mao had also discovered that if he closed his eyes while reading other's thoughts it resembled a cheap movie, choppy images flashing in front of him. From what he'd seen it was a strong possibility that if Zero wasn't his beloved C.C. then they were certainly close to her. Although he was prepared for the worst, if C.C. had by chance given her code away he would find a way to kill the one responsible and take her code for his own. He would hold onto that last sliver of her for all eternity. "Wait for me C.C. I'm coming for you."
Jeremiah stood in hand cuffs with a soldier on each arm walking him to the base of the Kururugi shrine. They were ordered to deliver the traitor to a group of Bartley's men. All that Jeremiah could think about was this entity called the Red Lotus, he wasn't sure why but he idolized this person and he would not allow her to be harmed. His loyalty to her even shadowed that of the crown. By whatever means necessary he would ensure her secrecy and by that, her safety. If they were taking him to a new location merely to torture him more, so be it. He would gladly shed the last drop of blood in his body for the Red Lotus. Her voice echoed in his head constantly as if she was the world and he was her moon. Gravitated by some unknown force he couldn't separate himself from her, even if he wanted to. His eyes were closed and his head was bowed, he awaited his punishment honorably. He heard a struggle that caused the soldiers to pull on his arms but only for a moment. Curious, he opened his eyes to see the shrine in front of him but no one standing there.
"Jeremiah, I'm here to release you of your prison."
Jeremiah's eyes lit up, he knew that voice. He couldn't forget that voice. He turned around to see a red headed woman standing before him. He lowered himself to one knee and bowed his head. "I'm yours to command, Red Lotus."
"We have little time Jeremiah. We must move." Kallen drew her pistol and shot the cuffs that restrained him. They would remove them completely once they returned to head quarters. They moved quickly and rounded the corner where the rest of the Black Knights were waiting in the trailer. Jeremiah was given harsh looks upon entering the trailer.
"So is this guy our hostage or something? What the hell are we doing?" Tamaki questioned.
"No, Jeremiah is the newest member of the Black Knights." Kallen responded leading Jeremiah towards the back of the trailer.
"The Black Knights?" Jeremiah asked with surprise. He had no idea his goddess was a Black Knight. He was suddenly caught in a battle in his mind, one loyalty battling the other.
"So now we're off to Mount Fuji." Ohgi said from the driver's seat as he started up the engine.
Kallen and Jeremiah reached the backroom and entered Zero's office, locking the door behind them. Inside Zero sat at the table along with C.C.
"Zero!" Jeremiah exclaimed in a drawn out hatred. Before him stood the very enemy of the empire, the paramount of all he despised. He made a move to attack him but Kallen restrained him.
"I command you now, obey Zero!" Lelouch ordered with his demonic eye.
The power of geass invaded Jeremiah's mind. He could feel it trying to re-order his thoughts. "No.." Jeremiah growled in defiance. He fell to his knees with his hands clutching his head. "I won't!" The pressure in his head was incredible, like his head was in a vice. Blood trickled down his nose and out of his eyes. With a clenched fist he slammed the ground in front of him.
Lelouch had never seen anything like this, no one had ever resisted his geass in such a manner. "C.C. what is happening?"
"He's resisting." The witch stated plainly. Zero scoffed as if that was any help.
Jeremiah drew in deep breaths and brought himself to his feet. "You will not conquer me so easily." Jeremiah took a step towards Zero.
"Jeremiah, don't take another step towards him." She said it as a threat, her muscles tensing and her heart racing.
"Understood." Jeremiah submitted, he brought his feet together in a proper stance and turned to face Kallen. His face was bloody but she could see that he was definitely under her sway.
"Should I try again?" Zero asked in C.C.'s direction.
"I doubt it will have a different effect. If anything it'll probably just kill him." C.C. responded with a kind of awe in her voice.
It was unexpected, but she decided to play along. "You are not to harm him, or any of the other Black Knights. Understood?"
"Yes, my Queen." Jeremiah took a seat at the table. The tension in the room was borderline disturbing. For Lelouch to be put in such a situation and for it to resolve itself immediately. He was watching his every move, his hand on his pistol the whole time.
"Why didn't my geass work?" Zero asked to anyone in the room that could answer.
"Because your power is no match for my loyalty." Jeremiah responded.
Zero scoffed but decided to withhold his statement about Kallen's geass. "Anyone else wanna try?"
"I think he resisted yours to a point and his mind merely gave way to the geass that his mind didn't resist." C.C. stated. "It's hard to say, I may be immortal but I don't know everything. You both have different forms of geass, it seems her abilities are especially potent against targets that rely on those emotions."
"So you're saying that her geass is more potent than mine?" Zero asked like a kid about to throw a tantrum.
"No, I'm saying in this instance her geass was more effective. Your powers work in different ways. Hers are limited in ways that yours aren't, and yours are limited in ways that hers aren't. Perhaps you should accept that you aren't the best at everything and stop being such a child. Be thankful that your powers are permanent." C.C. spoke like a mother telling her children to eat her vegetables.
"Great, so you're saying that this guy will eventually turn on us?" Zero asked motioning towards Jeremiah.
"I will not turn my back on the Red Lotus, I am under no geass." Jeremiah said proudly.
Zero laughed. "Sure thing."
"Kallen's geass is based off of a sort of list. She can only hold five people under her geass at a time, each time she uses it on a new person the one active the longest falls off. So as long as she keeps that in mind you should be fine." C.C. clarified.
"Why don't we just kill him now and get it over with? As it stands I'm not willing to risk putting him on the front lines with us. Not until we have some sort of fail safe." Zero said, trying to figure a way to make it work.
"I already told you, that's not necessary! I would sooner die than turn on her." Jeremiah declared with determination.
"As great as that sounds I can't exactly hold you to your word. What am I going to say when you do turn on us? 'Hey, but you promised.' I still say we just kill him." Lelouch mocked the Britannian pure blood.
Kallen nodded in agreement, without some form of security how did they know this whole thing wasn't going to blow up in their faces? "Hey that's it. We could plant an explosive on him. You could hold onto the detonation switch Zero. That would work."
Beneath Zero's helmet the rims of his irises flashed with the command Kallen had given him at the refrain warehouse. He didn't know it, but he had to trust her. "It would have to be surgically implanted to ensure he wouldn't tamper with it. But that does solve my problems. The question is, is he willing to do it?"
"Did you know it's rude to talk to someone in the third person in front of them?" Jeremiah chuckled to himself. "As I said before my life is in her hands, if she wishes it, then I must comply."
All eyes moved to Kallen now, although she didn't like the idea of surgically implanting explosives in anyone, it did sound like the best option. "Please cooperate Jeremiah." He nodded in response without hesitation.
"We'll have to get him into surgery as soon as we get back, until then we'll lock him in one of the other rooms and post guards." Zero ordered.
"I'll take him." Kallen said as she stood up. Not that they had much of a choice, he could only be trusted in the company of Kallen anyway. At least, for the time being. Jeremiah stood after her and followed her out of the room. The Black Knights turned to see what was the cause of all the commotion but the Britannian soldier seemed complacent he walked behind Kallen without a single hint of anger. Kallen opened the door to the next room and led Jeremiah in.
"I'm sorry for this. I know things don't look so good now, but don't worry they'll all come around." Kallen gave him a sincere smile.
"You needn't worry about me. I will endure." Jeremiah sat with his back to the wall and folded his arms.
Kallen half smiled and shut the door. She wasn't sure where her geass ended and where the real Jeremiah began but he seemed rather genuine. She wanted to believe him, but she knew all too well the deceit of geass, it always seemed genuine. She locked the door behind her and grabbed the two nearest Black Knights. "I need you to keep an eye on this door. Don't let him out and don't let anyone in except for Zero or myself, understood?" They nodded dutifully in response. "Good." She walked back into the command room. "I think we're almost there."
"I figured as much. That took a lot more time than expected. He better be worth it." Zero sighed as he sat up from his chair to walk towards the front of the vehicle. He noticed how it was rather cramped inside with the troops he'd brought along, thankfully this was only the mobile headquarters. No one had seen the stationary one yet. Cornelia proved useful in more ways than one. The largest hotel in the Tokyo settlement now belonged to the Black Knights. Able to house well over a thousand people, it was a necessity for the growth he had planned.
When they arrived Zero split everyone into two teams, a small team to go in with him and Kallen and the bulk of them were to remain and guard their new head quarters. The ones that were chosen to stay grumbled but did as they were told. They didn't like the idea of going on such a road trip just to 'wait in the car' but Zero wasn't about to leave their mobile headquarters unguarded.
Taizo's men were expecting them and they were shown in quickly. The room was large and open with a bare floor, opposite the entrance sat one of the leaders of the six houses of Kyoto. "I appreciate you having us here Kirihara." Zero greeted the elder man who sat cross-legged behind a shaded curtain. Not that it mattered, Lelouch knew the man from his childhood. The two Black Knights and Kallen bowed in a gesture of kindness.
"And yet you disgrace me by hiding your face in my presence." Taizo said with a grim determination.
"Just as you hide your face from me, old man." Zero retorted.
"Yes, but you see, I'm the one with something to bargain. I will not offer the support of the Houses of Kyoto without knowing it's in good hands." Taizo countered impatiently.
"Fine." Zero turned to his comrades. "Turn around. Kallen I leave it to you to ensure they remain put." The Black Knights let out a slight groan but did as they were told, they wanted to know who their leader was too. After the three of them were turned around Lelouch removed his mask with a slight hiss. He approached the elder man slowly with his mask in his hands. "I've held up my end of the bargain."
"Interesting that it's you. Do you think you can take this all the way to the end?" Taizo asked, recognizing Lelouch from years past.
"I will do whatever it takes, I've already lost claim to my soul. There is no going back for me." Lelouch answered with a heavy tone.
"Very well." The old man nodded. "I can assure you that this man is trustworthy. But it is imperative that his identity be kept secret for the time being." The old man spoke up so the others could hear him clearly.
"I appreciate that." Lelouch said before placing his helmet back over his face, securing it with a series of clicks.
They arrived home late and everyone went their separate ways. Lelouch got into his room and he wanted to simply sleep, as he shut his door his phone rang. He let out a slight moan but pulled it out. To his surprise it was Shirley. Why would she be calling me this late? "Hello?"
"Lulu..." Her voice was quiet and frail.
"Shirley?" Lelouch asked, unsure if he was just having trouble hearing her.
"Can.. Can I meet you somewhere? I really need to talk to someone right now." Her voice was beginning to tremble.
"Sure, can we meet up tomorrow? It's kinda late." Lelouch heard and understood her tone but Shirley often made things out to be bigger than they really were.
"Please Lulu!.. Please..." Shirley sounded desperate and then defeated. Lelouch was starting to get worried, this sounded rather serious.
"Okay, where would you like to meet?" Lelouch caved, opening his door to walk right back out.
"Anywhere.." She seemed to be at her breaking point.
"You just stay there, I'll come to you. I'll be there as soon as I can." Lelouch reassured her. He rushed to her place as quick as he could.
Kallen was getting ready for bed when she suddenly remembered that she still had some things she needed to discuss with Lelouch. He still had a lot of explaining to do. She could wait until tomorrow but he would probably just make her wait some more. No, she would talk to him tonight. She clicked off her light and went back out into the crisp night air.
When Lelouch arrived at Shirley's he found her outside sitting on her porch with her knees hugged to her chest. "Shirley? What are you doing out here?"
"My father.. I just found out m-my father.." Shirley broke into tears. "He was killed at Narita."
Lelouch was stunned he knew all too well what she was talking about. That had been his fault; he knew the town would suffer damage, that was no accident. But it had to be done to ensure his victory... "Shirley I-I don't know.. what to say. I-I'm sorry." He struggled to form the words.
Shirley threw herself into his arms and embraced him for dear life. Lelouch went to hug her back but before he knew it her lips were smashed against his. At that moment he could only think about Shirley and what he'd put her through.
A figure watched from the shadows for a moment before turning around and walking away, there was no more they needed to see.
A/N: This is the first chapter that took me more than one night to write out.. Not sure if that's good or bad but I hope you enjoyed it just the same =) If you've got a moment I would treasure a review from you.
Hmmm for some reason this chapter isn't getting much feedback, perhaps you could tell me what you think is wrong or missing? Everything helps so please let me know what you think, it gives me direction and motivation. So please take a moment and drop a line, as simple as it sounds it really is important.