So, welcome! If you haven't read up to chapter 14 in my main fic, Armed Resistance (fanfiction .net/s/6002973/1/Armed_Resistance and don't forget to take out the space), you should probably do that now. I mean, you don't have to, but this won't make sense otherwise.
This story is, in fact, just little side stories that happen during the plot of Armed Resistance. I will state, at the beginning, who it stars, and during what time period. I will never rely on these side stories to drive the plot along- they will never be required reading for Armed Resistance to make sense. This is just for people who enjoy the main story, and want to see more of that universe. I repeat- this is never going to drive the plot of Armed Resistance. This is, and always will be, just interesting things that happen during the main story, that give it more meaning.
So, this first Side Story stars Suzaku, a lead character who does not get much screen time in Armed Resistance. He's an interesting character, and I want to do more with him- he was one of the main characters of Code Geass, after all. We get some insight into Euphemia's situation, Lloyd's thought regarding Zero, and how Suzaku is trying to handle the situation with Lelouch.
...Since this is the first one, I don't have any reviews, so here goes the chapter!
Suzaku Kururugi - Sometime Between Chapters 13 and 14
"Suzaku!" called Cecile. "Suzakuuu!"
Suzaku blinked heavily. "Oh... yes, Cecile?" he answered, shaking his head to clear it. "I'm sorry, I wasn't listening..."
Cecile gave him a frustrated look. "Somehow, I could tell. I was trying to brief you on the Black Knight's unique Knightmare, they've fielded it a few times... are you feeling okay, Suzaku?" She leaned forward, peering closely at his face. "Have you been getting enough sleep?"
He shook his head. "I'm fine, Cecile, and I'm sorry for zoning out there. I'll try to focus bet-" he began, and then Cecile poked him in the face with one finger. He blinked, unsure of what exactly had just happened.
"Slow reflexes from you, Suzaku?" she asked, smiling slightly. "Definitely not getting enough sleep. What's bothering you?"
"It's... nothing," he sighed. Cecile poked him again with a grin, and he laughed a little despite himself. "Okay, okay! I'll talk! It's just... it's serious stuff, you know?"
Cecile leaned closer. "And why should that mean we can't help you? We're not faceless commanding officers, Suzaku. We're your friends. Well," she amended, glancing at Lloyd with irritation, "I'm your friend."
Lloyd shoveled another spoonful of pudding into his mouth, humming happily- which, given that his mouth was full of pudding, was actually kind of impressive, Suzaku thought- and typed away on a computer console without noticing either of them. Suzaku smiled. That's Lloyd for you... but he's a good person, underneath his eccentric manner. "Well... back when Zero rescued me, he... he took me aside, and he talked to me. He told me that I should be working with him, to free Japan, and I..." Suzaku closed his eyes.
"I told him no. I told him that whatever offenses he had suffered, he needed to move on, to stop dwelling in the past. And I told him that because of a friend of mine who had gone through the same thing, and then just moved on with his life."
Cecile nodded sympathetically. "And now you're wondering if he was right after all?"
"The thing is, that friend of mine... I met him again, recently. I hadn't seen him for years, and I was just so glad that he was okay... and we started talking. And in reality, he's had a terrible time. His only family member still alive, his sister, finally passed away after spending several years dying by inches in a hospital. And I mentioned that... that what happened to her wasn't anyone's fault. Because I thought he was blaming himself.
"But he wasn't blaming himself. He was blaming Britannia. She was injured in the bombing of Japan, and the complications led to her death. He blamed them for everything. And it turned out that the friend that I'd cited to Zero as an example of someone who'd 'moved on' hadn't moved on at all. He was furious. He hated Britannia, like I'd never seen anyone hate before. When I tried to calm him down, he punched through his tv. ...And I'm not even sure he noticed that he did in, in his fury."
His coworker looked down sadly. "It sounds... like he's pretty justified in his anger," she said quietly. "I don't know what to tell you, Suzaku. You've had some pretty awful things happen to you, as well... but you've kept moving forward. It's pretty admirable, I think, the way you've kept your anger from making decisions for you. Your friend... isn't dealing with his quite so well. And neither is Zero." She hesitated for a moment. "Maybe I shouldn't tell you this... but I've met Zero, actually."
Suzaku's eyes widened. "You have? When?"
She sighed. "He invited Lloyd to talk, actually, and I came along. He was trying to recruit Lloyd. And..." She paused. "And he was charming, and clever, and friendly... but at one point, Lloyd made a joke about how both he and Zero were crazy, and he told me to look into Zero's eyes. They talk about being able to see things in people's eyes- their feelings, their thoughts. I'd always thought it was just romantic nonsense, but when I looked into his eyes, Suzaku... I saw a genius, a genius drowning in an endless sea of rage. Maybe smarter than Lloyd, but just strangled by his overwhelming hatred." She shuddered. "That's what lies at the end of that path, Suzaku. Madness."
No one is right, and no one is wrong, realized Suzaku. Zero is too destructive, too angry, but he is right about a few things... the Britannian Army is too callous and hateful toward Numbers, and that doesn't seem to be changing. And as much as the Black Knights are a harmful existence... the evil that they represent is nothing compared to the devastation that the Outer Circle is trying to cause. Princess Euphemia... he thought, and his fist began to tremble with rage. They will pay. I swear it, they will pay. Even if I have to team up with the Black Knights to stop them.
Cecile was peering into his face worriedly again. "Suzaku, why don't you go visit Princess Euphemia in the hospital? You know she'd be happy to see you."
He shook his head. "No... I'm just an Eleven, I can't-"
"Oh, nonsense," answered Cecile dismissively. "You're an Honorary Britannian, a Warrant Officer, the pilot of the best Knightmare in the world, and a friend of the princess. She invited you to come by, anyway. Go. You'll feel better."
"...Thank you, Cecile," he nodded, standing. "I think I will."
He stopped at the door. What will I say? What can I say? "How are you feeling?" She's just learned that she won't be able to walk ever again, she can't be feeling well... don't want to be too formal, but not too informal either... He sighed. Nothing for it. Here goes. And then he heard a thump, and a gasp.
He pushed open the door, and his heart leapt into his throat. Euphemia was collapsed on the ground. "My Lady!" he shouted, and ran forward.
"Suzaku...? I'm... I'm alright, but if you could please help me back to my bed..." she asked in a pained voice. Suzaku picked her up easily- I can't believe she's this light...- and set her down on her bed. "Ahhhh... thank you, that's... that's better." Her eyes were red, and she looked very pale.
Suzaku stared at her, his face full of concern. "My Lady, what happened?" he asked, trembling slightly. If I hadn't shown up just then... how long would she have lain there?
Euphemia gave him what was probably meant to be an embarrassed smile, but really just looked miserable. "It was my fault. They told me... that I wouldn't be able to walk, but... I just didn't believe it. So I tried, and..." Tears welled up in her eyes. "They just collapsed, Suzaku. I just... crumpled."
Suzaku repressed the instinct to grab her hand, and instead just shook his head. "I'm... I'm glad you're well, my Lady. I feared you'd injured yourself."
"Injured myself further, you mean," she sighed, wiping away her tears. "Just call me Euphie, Suzaku. Everyone does."
Suzaku shook his head gently. "You are kind, my Lady, but I cannot do that. It would be... disrespectful."
She smiled weakly. "Always so polite... but enough about this," she said, gesturing at her bandaged and useless legs. "How is school going? And did you find your friend?"
He smiled as well. "School is going pretty well. Everyone's been very understanding, and I'm getting along with them. I'm even on the Student Council, actually. And my friend..." He hesitated. "My friend is doing well also."
"Now, Suzaku, you're not a very good liar," teased Euphemia. "If you don't want to talk to me about it, that's fine, though."
"No, it's not that, it's just... I mean, you have enough problems of your own," he managed.
She shook her head. "And it would do me good to be able to help you with some of yours. Believe me."
"Well... his sister is dead... and he blames Britannia for it. He blames them for everything. He's not a terrorist or anything... but when I look at how angry he is, all I can think is how he might hurt someone when he finally loses control."
"It's not easy... is it? Seeing someone hurting like that?" she asked gently.
Suzaku sighed deeply, and his shoulders sagged as the tension and stress let itself out. "No... it's not."
"I think... the best thing you can do, Suzaku, is just be the best friend you can. Be understanding, be thoughtful. Be yourself. And if he's willing to, he will slowly let go of that anger, bit by bit."
"And if he's not willing?" asked Suzaku.
Euphemia gave him a sad look. "Then you have to let him hold onto that anger. Part of freedom of choice is the freedom to make the wrong decision, after all. If you choose for him, the choice will have no meaning at all." She shook her head again, gently. "I know it's hard to see things like that- to be so objective about it, when it's your friend. But you have to let him choose. All you can do is encourage him to do the right thing."
Suzaku stood still, and remembered his friend's words, words that had stuck with him. "I just don't get you." What is it you don't get, Lelouch? How I cope with my emotions? How I solve problems? I... don't think I get him, either. He doesn't see his anger as a bad thing, as a thing that impairs his judgment. He embraces it, he lets his anger run wild, lets it control him. Is it that he doesn't control his emotions well... or is it that I've never been as angry as him?
After all... the loses I've suffered in my life were all my fault. My father... and through him, my country... they were because of my choices. My... my sins. But what did Lelouch ever do that the world should strike out at him as it has? His mother, Nunnally... and now his best friend has joined the army that killed both of them. Is this my fault? He shook his head. No. No, he was angry before he knew I had joined. And my work here is too important for me to quit, even if I was the reason for his anger.
He'd had dreams, before, of them working together. Lelouch's brilliant mind and Suzaku's skill. In the dream... they were unstoppable. Suzaku could handle any assignment he gave, and Lelouch always knew what to do. They would take on armies, just the two of them, and win. And it had felt so real- him and his best friend, against the world. Doing the right thing when no one else would. But it was just a dream. They were too different, their minds too dissimilar, for such a thing ever to happen.
"Suzaku," said Euphemia, interrupting his thoughts, "I have to tell you something." Suzaku blinked, and nodded. "It's... about Zero. My sister thinks he's a tool of my brother Schneizel... that Schneizel set him up here to undermine his sibling's efforts in Area Eleven. To jeopardize their ambitions for the throne."
Suzaku had heard a lot about Prince Schneizel, and while this would be a shocking move if it were true... it did not seem beyond what the prince was capable of, if rumor was to be believed. He was much like Zero, in that way- charming, clever, and absolutely ruthless when he needed to be. "Do you agree, my Lady?" he asked gently.
She shook her head. "No... I don't. I spoke to Zero, when he rescued everyone from the hotel. I think... that he killed Clovis, Suzaku. And if he worked for Schneizel... why would he lie about that? Why wouldn't he make himself out to be as much of a villain as possible, so that Schneizel could seem like a big hero when he swept in and stopped Zero's plans? ...I think Zero works for himself, and that he's a bigger threat than my sister realizes."
"This land is our land. This land is your land. Will you not fight for it, Private Kururugi?" That was what he told me... and I wanted to say yes. In that moment, just for an instant, I wanted to agree, I wanted to sign up with him, I wanted to help him change the world. "I think you're right, my Lady," he said quietly. "I think Zero is scarier than anyone gives him credit for." He's scary because of how much he is like Lelouch... brilliant, charismatic, and filled with hate. And that is why I have to help Lelouch- because if he doesn't get help, he'll just become another Zero. "Our first priority needs to be stopping the Circle from striking again, but after that, we will need to do everything we can to stop Zero. Because if we don't, he could overthrow this country. He really could."
The princess tilted her head. "You think he's that powerful, Suzaku?"
"My Lady... a month ago, no one had heard of Zero. And now he's headlining every newspaper, he's rallied the J- the Elevens to his cause, and he's standing up against the Britannian Army and winning. Just think what he could do if we gave him another month."
Euphemia paled. "...I'd rather not."
Suzaku glanced at the ground. "...When are you going to announce your medical status to the news? They still think you're in critical condition."
"I... soon. I just don't want... to give up on my legs just yet," she sighed. Suzaku nodded sympathetically. As I recall... neither did Nunnally. I got to know her just after she'd gotten out of the hospital... and she was so kind, and so thoughtful... and so depressed, at first. She wanted to walk again, so badly. To run again. To see again.
The door was pushed open, and a man in a white coat with glasses strode in purposefully. "I'm sorry, young man, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave now," he declared. "Princess, the chief of staff has ordered more x-rays on your legs. We need to see how well they're healing."
"Probably no better than the last time you checked..." she mumbled sadly. She turned to Suzaku. "I guess you have to go now, I'm sorry. I really enjoyed seeing you- will you visit me again?"
Suzaku smiled. "Of course, my Lady. Your wish is my command."
When he got back to the base, Cecile was gone, and it was just a few technicians, and Lloyd, smiling and humming and punching away at a keyboard. Suzaku walked over to him quietly, not wanting to distract him too much.
He glanced over his shoulder, and blinked. He appeared to be working on a Knightmare of some sort... but it wasn't the Lancelot. It looked like a Frankenstein of designs... the basic frame of a Glasgow, but with the wiring and subsystems of a Gloucester, some firing control systems from a Sutherland... and some parts that he didn't recognize at all. "Lloyd... what is that?" he asked curiously.
"What? Oh, Suzaku. Welcome back!" the Earl smiled. "This is a design that Zero sent me as a present, actually. It's called the Gurasugo, I believe."
Suzaku did a double take. "Zero sent you this?"
Lloyd reached for his bowl of pudding, and was disappointed to find it empty. "Oh, yes. We've become sort of friends, actually. Like how me and Rakshata used to be." He pressed a few more keys, and then stood back, staring at the screen. "It's just... brilliant! The technology is all so ordinary, but it's put together in such a clever way... and who would have thought of using a hydraulic piston like that? Whoever designed this... if you gave them some of the technology we are using, they could really create some scary stuff. Talk about making the best of what you've got."
Suzaku leaned closer to the electronic blueprint. "Is it really that impressive?"
"Well, it's no Lancelot, of course, but we're using the best technology in the world. This thing is using technology that's several years old, and it could still probably keep up with the Lancelot, at least for a little while. Wait... is that a signature?" Lloyd leaned close himself. "'Zero!' I'll be damned, he designed it himself!"
Suzaku froze. "Zero is a Knightmare engineer?"
"Oh, no, no, nothing like that," assured Lloyd. "All of the parts here are preexisting technology. I don't think he has the know-how to create something entirely original for a Knightmare. All this means is that he's smart enough to put stuff that already exists together in a very clever way. I wouldn't worry about him building anything that can rival my work." He plopped down in a chair, and smiled. "It was nice of him to send me that, it's very interesting."
Suzaku hesitated. "Cecile told me that he tried to offer you guys a job... Lloyd, did you... consider the offer?"
"Oh, I'm still considering, Suzaku," he answered easily.
The boy froze. "You... you're still thinking about joining the Black Knights?" he asked weakly.
"Well, I wouldn't want to leave Cecile behind, of course, and she's being pretty stubborn about this... but I like Zero, and he says he'll give me as much funding as I want. He's got some pretty incredible devicers, too- there's this one, Quebec, I think he called her, and oh Suzaku, you should see her numbers-"
"But you're a Britannian!" shouted Suzaku. "You can't just run off and work for the enemy that's trying to destroy your own country!"
Lloyd gave him a puzzled look. "Why not?" he asked, and his tone was not sarcastic- it was honestly, genuinely confused. He really didn't understand why he couldn't just switch sides.
Suzaku struggled for words, stunned by Lloyd's attitude. "Because... because this is your country! This is the country that raised you, that gave birth to you! You have to look after it!"
"Kind of hypocritical coming from someone who's fighting against his own country, don't you think?" asked Lloyd mildly.
"That's... different," managed Suzaku, fighting to control his anger.
"Not really, but if you say so." Lloyd turned back to his computer, and began to type away, indicating that the conversation was over. Suzaku felt... drained, somehow. Is he right? Am I just betraying my own country? "Oh, and before I forget, Suzaku, you've got a mission tonight. The Black Knights are supposed to be hitting some warehouse, and we're going to intercept them."
"'Before you forget?' You almost... forgot about a mission?" asked Suzaku incredulously.
Lloyd shrugged, and smiled. "I'm worrying about more important things! Well, thinking. I don't worry about it too much." Suzaku had a sudden, horrifying mental image of a crucial attack on a terrorist base failing because Lloyd never remembered to tell him about it. I think, from now on, I'm going to make sure my orders are given to me directly, rather than through Lloyd...
The Army was too late. The black Knights had come and come, and all they had left by the time Suzaku had arrived were dead bodies and destroyed lab equipment. Suzaku walked slowly through the battle-ravaged warehouse. They had put up a fight, of course, but drug dealers aren't equipped to take on Knightmares and men with assault rifles.
He bent over, and picked up a hard, polished wooden case, and flicked it open. Inside was an injector, and several vials of Refrain. Refrain... take a shot, and remember the good old days... and they'll be highlighted by the warm tinge of a high as well, so that you don't remember all the bad things that went with them.
Suzaku was fundamentally opposed to drug use, but just for a second, he understood why the drug was so popular. He wanted to take a shot himself, and drift back to the days when everything was simpler- when Nunnally was alive, when Lelouch was calm and kind, when his father... he shook his head, and snapped the case shut. Dangerous thoughts. And a dangerous drug... the perfect tool to keep Area Eleven from ever standing up for itself. Just lock them up with their memories, and let them rot...
All the dealers were dead, no one had survived the attack. That didn't bother Suzaku in the slightest. He didn't like killing, but these people... they were scum. They sold poison to fund the Circle's efforts to murder the Imperial Family. These people weren't murdered. You can't "murder" an animal. They were "put down."
"That's a scary face you've got on, Warrant Officer," observed a voice, and Suzaku dropped the case, into dropped to a bow. Princess Cornelia stared at him with amusement. "How do you feel, seeing all this mess?"
"My Lady?" asked Suzaku uncertainly. He wasn't sure if the question was rhetorical, or if she actually wanted him to answer.
"Speak freely, soldier. I'm curious as to what you think about this scene," she ordered.
"Yes, Your Highness," nodded Suzaku compliantly. "I... I feel angry, Your Highness. Angry that these people would get rich by poisoning my people. Angry that the Circle got away from us. Angry that there was nothing I could do about it."
"For a Number, you have a decent head on your shoulders," she noted dryly. "I feel similarly. But I feel angry about one more thing- I feel angry that Zero could so blatantly wage war within my land, and get away with it." She turned to face Suzaku. "Euphemia likes you. I don't. I don't like Numbers at all. But you're the best pilot we've got, and you don't seem to be that bad of a person. So here's what I want from you, Warrant Officer.
"The next time we get a report that the Black Knights are taking action? I don't want you to wait around for the main attack. With as fast as they are, and as slow as we are, we will always arrive too late if we do that. Next time, I want you to grab a few Sutherland pilots, and maybe some infantry, and lead an attack, right then and there. And if anyone gives you trouble, you let them know that you are doing it in the name of Cornelia li Britannia."
Suzaku pressed his arm to his chest, and bowed again. "Yes, Your Highness!" he declared, and Cornelia nodded, satisfied, and walked away. Suzaku rose again once the Princess was well away, and gazed after her.
"She likes you," said another voice, and Suzaku glanced aside to see the Princess's knight, Lord Guilford. He wore a tired smile.
"I... don't mean to be contrary, Lord Guilford, but she just told me she didn't," answered Suzaku politely.
"She told you that because she doesn't like Numbers. She's got a very pure-blooded attitude, and a reputation. She doesn't want to come across as being kind to a number, but... she likes you. She does. She wouldn't have trusted you with something like that if she didn't." He adjusted his glasses, which had slid a little ways down his face. "I understand that you're an Eleven, but I have to ask... are you ready to fight Zero? To fight the Black Knights?"
Suzaku hesitated. "Sir, I thought the military's focus was on the Circle at this time," he managed.
"The military's focus is as a whole, yes, but a Knightmare pilot can't do much to the Circle. To fight the Circle, we have to find them first, and that is the real challenge. The Black Knights are an enemy we can readily engage, and so we will deal with them in the meantime. So are you ready to fight, to kill those who are promising freedom to your land?" he asked, staring at Suzaku.
Suzaku saluted. "Sir, I am an Honorary Britannian. Britannia is my land, and I will not hesitate to defend it."
Lord Guilford smiled, but there was a hint of doubt in his eyes. "Good answer." Then he followed after the princess.
So that's how these are gonna go, usually. No big plot busters, but some interesting stuff that you didn't get to see because Armed Resistance is first-person.
My plan is for the next Side Story to star Milly Ashford, and I have a decent idea of how that's gonna go. But I gotta encourage you... have a story you want told? Wanna know how Orange-kun is doing in prison? Rather see what C.C. has been up to? Let me know! Obviously, I'm not gonna honor every request- I'd wear my fingers to the bone trying!- but if I think you've got a good idea, I'll try to make it into a Side Story- and give you credit for suggesting it. Review, comment, question, and suggest! I'll see ya next time!