This fic won't start being updated regularly until one of my current regulars ends. Fortunately, there's one nearing it's end, so that won't be long from now. The only reason I'm posting this already is because I scribbled it out yesterday, and I love this idea so much I don't want to wait to put it up.
I got some complaints about Lelouch being "too wimpy" in this chapter, so I changed the first half up a bit. That oughta satisfy ya.
This can't be happening. There's no way! This sort of situation is beyond impossible!
I double over, panting. I lost my mask earlier, and I don't dare go back for it. The ghetto is in chaos, and I'm worried that if one of those... things doesn't get me, one of the many panicking residents will.
How did this get started? Today was a normal day! I had a meeting this morning with my command staff, and Ohgi was late. He turned up eventually with a Band-Aid on his forearm and explained that "some crazy guy" bit him. "It was probably a bad reaction to Refrain," he'd suggested sadly. "You see that sort of thing every once in a while."
I ordered Inoue to treat the bite, pointing out how full of bacteria the human mouth is. However, not long after she finished, Ohgi collapsed with a high fever.
Rakshata was calling in to look at him, but by the time she arrived, he was already in a coma. Only a few hours later, he was dead. We were discussing what to do with the body when-
I shake my head violently. No! No way! That sort of thing just can't happen in real life! A false diagnoses combined with someone's Geass. It's a stretch, but it's far more likely than...
A low moaning breaks me out of my thoughts and I turn around, startled. A man is shuffling toward me, arms outstretched, his skin an unhealthy greenish-gray. He's missing an eye and a huge chunk of his right shoulder, but seems unbothered by this. I pull my gun and fire as he approaches, but nothing happens. Crap! Out of ammo!
I back into a corner, squeezing my eyes shut tight and lifting my arms in a vain attempt to shield my head. In the back of my mind, I can already feel strong arms grabbing me and teeth chomping down to tear out my throat, the way Ohgi tore out Rakshata's. However, none of that happens, and I peek out.
"Tohdoh!" I say, surprised to see him standing in front of me, the creature's teeth clasped on the blade of his sword. He swings it sideways, slicing the thing's head in half. The body falls to the ground and Tohdoh turns to me. "Are you all right, Zero?" he asks.
"More or less," I say breathlessly. Remembering Ohgi, I quickly ask "Have you been bitten?"
Tohdoh shakes his head. "I am unharmed," he assures me. "What about you? You're bleeding." He glances at my right knee.
I follow his gaze. "I fell," I answer honestly. After Ohgi went berserk, I shot him three times: once in the head and twice in the chest. The shots to the chest barely fazed him, only knocking him back momentarily. It was the headshot that took him down permanently. I stood there for a moment, staring in horror at what remained of most of my commanders. I then say Rakshata begin to twitch, and panicked, running out of the trailer as fast as my legs could carry me. I tripped once, and fell, tossing my mask aside in irritation.
"I see," Tohdoh says, looking around. "We should probably get out of here."
"You're probably right."
Tohdoh and I encounter Kallen during our search for shelter, who informs us of a relatively uninfected apartment building nearby. "I found it earlier while I was searching for you guys," she informs us.
"How many stories is it?" I ask.
"Four or five," Kallen answers. "Well, four or five livable ones, in any case."
I nod. "Let's head there for now," I say. "There might be some food we can stock up on, and we should also change into something less likely to get us shot or arrested."
Once we arrive at the apartment, Tohdoh and Kallen work to destroy the staircases leading up to the second floor while I search for food and clothing. In the former case, I hit the jackpot with a cupboard stuffed to the brim with canned vegetables and cupped ramen, but in the latter, all I can find are either women's clothes or too big for me (though they might fit Tohdoh). I quickly change into a large sweatshirt and a pair of slacks, then start searching for anything else that could be helpful to us until Tohdoh and Kallen return from their task. "We should be safe for a little while," Kallen reports, studying me. "What are you doing?"
"Looking for a lighter. There are empty cigarette packs everywhere, so there must be at least one in this place," I answer, then point to the clothes I set aside for them. "Go change," I order. "We'll stay the night here the-"
"Attention all ghetto residents!" The three of us look around for a moment, frowning. "There!" Tohdoh says, indicating a speaker outside the window. We all turn our attention to it as the man who spoke continues. "A quarantine has been set up at the ghetto perimeter! If you are uninfected, report there and you will be taken to a designated shelter! I repeat..."
I tune him out, turning back to the other two. "What do you think?" I ask. "Should we trust them?"
Tohdoh and Kallen exchange a glance. "I think we should," Tohdoh answers after a while, much to Kallen's surprise. "The Japanese make up a large portion of the labor force in the Settlement," he points out. "If they leave us to die, they'll only hurt themselves."
I nod. I had come to that conclusion myself. "In addition, if they set up a quarantine and don't let anyone out, there will be a riot, which may allow the monsters to enter the Settlement."
"Are you sure they're monsters?" Kallen asks.
"I'm sure they're not human," I say, remembering Ohgi. "Not anymore, at least."
The phone only rings a couple of times, but each time it does, I feel like my heart is going to burst from anticipation and dread. Tohdoh and Kallen are making their preparations to leave, so I've decided to take this opportunity to try and get in touch with Nunnally. When she finally does answer, I can't speak for a moment. "Big Brother? Big Brother, is that you? Big Brother!"
"Nunnally..." I say with a sigh of relief.
"Oh, thank goodness!" Nunnally says, sounding relieved. "They're saying on the news that there was another poison gas attack in Shinjuku! Are you okay? Where are you?"
Poison gas again? That must be the Britannian's favorite excuse. "In Shinjuku," I answer, smiling wryly. "I'm okay, though. What about you? Is everything okay over there?"
"No," Nunnally says emphatically. "You're not here!"
"Heh, sorry," I say. "I'm with Kallen, and we're just about to head for the quarantine. I should be home by tomorrow morning at the latest, okay?"
"Okay. Be careful, Big Brother."
"I'll do my best. See you soon, Nunnally."
"Tohdoh, I think you should come with us," I insist before Kallen and I leave. "In this sort of situation, I doubt the military will care to-"
Tohdoh chuckles, cutting me off. "Perhaps not," he says. "Or perhaps they'd like a scapegoat to blame for this situation."
Ch. That had occurred to me, but I'd hoped it wouldn't have occurred to him. "There's probably a big line there," I try again. "You should at least go with us that far."
"What's wrong?" Tohdoh asks playfully. "Don't you think Kohzuki-kun is enough to protect you?"
"I do, but..." But Tohdoh's plan is to try and escape through the subway system, which is most likely clogged with fleeing refugees, many of whom are no doubt infected. If he tries to leave on his own, he'll die, and I don't want that to happen. He's important to Suzaku, after all. "With most of the Black Knights' command staff dead, I'll need you if I'm going to have any hope of rebuilding after this."
"You built it up once before without me," he points out. "You can do it again."
I laugh a little. "Perhaps, but I doubt it. I'll need people I trust if that's to happen. More than just Kallen."
"They do say there's safety in numbers," Kallen points out. "Besides, what if he gets hurt? I can't carry him and fight at the same time." She looks at me teasingly as she says this, but I glare at her anyway.
Tohdoh sighs. "Very well," he relents. "But only as far as the line."
"Excellent!" I say happy that I was able to convince him. "Now. How are we supposed to get down from here?"
"We jump. It's only one story."
I stare at him. He sighs. "Right. I'll jump down, you'll drop down so I can catch you, and then Kohzuki-kun will come down last."
"Gotcha. Let's do this."
Every thing's going well until I start preparing to make my drop. I'm easing myself over the edge of the landing when I hear the first moan. I turn my head, startled, and nearly fall, but Kallen catches me and pulls me back up.
By the time I regain my footing and Kallen and I draw our weapons, Tohdoh is surrounded. He does well at first, slicing through the hoard with his katana while Kallen and I provide cover fire, but then my gun jams, and Tohdoh is unable to bring is sword around in time to prevent a nearby creature from digging its teeth into his shoulder.
The next few hours pass in a blur. Kallen and I continue firing, pausing only to reload, and Tohdoh continues swinging his sword, right up until he collapses. However, by then, there are only a handful left, which Kallen and I pick off with ease.
After the last one is downed, Kallen trains her gun on Tohdoh, but I grab her wrist. "I'll do it," I say, my voice thick. "I'm the one who messed up."
Kallen nods and lowers her gun. I aim at Tohdoh's head, hesitate a moment, then take a deep breath and squeeze the trigger.
Neither Kallen nor I say a word as we make our way down the hall to another landing and drop down. Kallen moves towards the exit, but I head back up the hall. "Where are you going?" she asks.
"Get his sword," I answer numbly. "Can't leave it."
"All right," she says, following me.
I'm reaching for the sword, doing my best to ignore the mass of corpses, when Kallen grabs my wrist. "Careful," she says sharply, pointing to one of the severed heads. "You were about to get bitten."
I stare at the head in question. Despite no longer being attached to anything, the jaw is still working. My vision begins to turn gray, but Kallen brings my back with a slap to the face. "If you pass out I'm leaving you," she warns. "I can't fight and carry you at the same time, you know."
"Go stand over there," she says, pointing back down the hall. "I'll get what we need."
"Okay," I say absently, heading to the designated spot. I know I should probably feel offended, but I don't feel anything. I have the strange sensation I'm dreaming. I wonder if this is what insanity feels like.
Kallen returns with the sword and bag Tohdoh was carrying, which contains most of our food and ammunition. She hands the sword to me. I grip it tightly as she places her hand on my back and steers me toward the exit. "I wanna go home," I say, still feeling numb.
"I know," Kallen says gently. "I'll get you there. Don't worry."
We only encounter a few more monsters on the way, all of which Kallen dispatches with ease. The line isn't as long as I expected it to be. It still looks like there will be a few hours wait, but I should definitely be home well before I time I quoted to Nunnally.
Kallen and I get in line. She looks around while I stare glumly at the shoes of the person in front of me. After about an hour or so, I hear someone call "Excuse me!" I look over, feeling drained, as a soldier runs up to us. "Are you Lelouch Lamperouge of Ashford Academy?" he asks me.
I just stare at him blankly, still feeling disconnected from reality, so Kallen answers for me. "Uh, yeah, he is," she says. "Sorry, but he's kind of in shock."
The soldier chuckles nervously. "He's not the only one," he says. "Can you two come with me? Major Kururugi has ordered us to let you to the front of the line."
Major Kururugi? That name sounds familiar, but I can't quite... "Suzaku?" I ask. "Suzaku's here? Where?"
"Just follow me."
At the head of the line are several small groups of soldiers with dogs. Kallen and I are ordered to pass by them before we can see Suzaku. I wonder vacantly as to why they're there, until they start barking at a man at the head of another line, who is dragged away, shouting "I'm a Britannian! You can't do this to me! I'm a Bri-" to a waiting van.
"Oh... I get it," I say with remarkable disinterest. "The dogs sniff out the monster bug."
"Monster bug?" our escort repeats to himself, then laughs. "Oh, I get it! That's clever. 'Monster bug'. Heh." He chuckles a bit more, then says "That's right."
"Where are you taking them?" Kallen asks.
"I'm sorry, but that's classified," the soldier says, leading us to a trailer and knocking on the door. "Major!" he calls. "I brought them!"
The door opens and Suzaku pokes his head out. "Lelouch!" he cries happily. "Kallen! Oh, thank God!" He ushers us inside, thanks the soldier, and closes the door. "I'm so glad you're okay!" he says, motioning for us to sit down. "When Nunnally told me where you were..." Suzaku shakes his head. "What were you doing there? And where'd you get a katana?"
"Where's Nunnally?" I demand. "I wanna see her."
"She's at home. Jus-"
He's cut off by the sound of an authoritative voice announcing over the radio "Attention all personnel! The contagion has spread to the Settlement! An outbreak has been reported at Ashford Private Academy! I repeat: An outbreak has been reported at Ashford Private Academy!"
RIP Ohgi, Rakshata, Inoue, Tohdoh, and a bunch of other people whose names I didn't mention.