Whelp, I've filled up one notebook with this thing already. I was thinking of auctioning it off and donating the money to charity, but I dunno. I'll probably just stick it in a drawer somewhere and forget about it.
"It's not fair," I say, sulking. "I want to come, too."
Suzaku and Kallen exchange a look, then turn back towards me, eyebrows raised incredulously. "Um, are you all right, Lelouch?" Suzaku asks. "Since when do you want to run headlong into danger?"
I cross my arms and look down my nose at him. "If the kind doesn't lead, how can he expect his subordinates to follow?" I ask. "I don't like sending other people out to fight while I hand back where it's safe."
"And the people don't like getting a new viceroy every week," Darlton points out from my shoulder.
"You don't know that. Maybe they like variety," I retort, but the scarred general just snorts and shakes his head.
"Don't worry, Lelouch," Suzaku says. "I can handle this. How hard could it be?"
Suzaku rolls his eyes. "I'll be in Lancelot the whole time," he says, "and everyone else will be in Sutherlands. We'll be fine."
"And from what I hear, Cornelia was in a Glasgow. Besides, I know you: You're going to turn your radio on and jump out of the unit to join Kallen's men."
"Yeah, well, you said yourself…" Suzaku says, trying to avoid eye contact.
I study him for a moment, then turn to look over my shoulder. "Nunnally! Euphy!" I call. My sisters step forward and I turn back to Suzaku. "Promise them," I order him.
"Oh, come on, Lelouch," he argues. "That's not-"
"Promise them, or I'll give Darlton command of this operation and you command of the lunchroom."
Suzaku's mouth tightens into a thin white line while he glowers at me silently. After a moment, he sighs and turns to the girls. "I promise," he says.
"Promise what?" I prod.
Suzaku glares at me for a moment. "I promise I'll stay in my Knightmare."
"Good boy," I say, clapping him on the shoulder. I turn my attention to Kallen while my sisters tell Suzaku to be careful. "Are you sure you want to go?" I ask, not for the first time. "There's plenty to do around here, you know."
"Yeah, I know," she says, shrugging. "Sill, I can't take any more of this sitting around. I'm getting bored."
"Fair enough. Be careful, though."
"Oh, please. I am always so careful."
It takes all of my willpower to refrain from rolling my eyes. Instead, I take her by the arm and lead her away from the others so I can talk to her for a moment in private. "What was that about?" Suzaku asks when we rejoin him. I'm momentarily taken by an urge to slap the knowing smile off his face, but I restrain myself long enough to answer: "Nothing."
Suzaku scoffs a bit, but doesn't say anything so I don't have to throttle him. "All right!" he calls, clapping his hands to get the soldiers' attention. "We're moving out now! To your transports!"
"Yes, sir!" the soldiers respond in unison, then start running towards their designated shuttles.
"See you later, Suzaku, Kallen," I say, lifting a hand in farewell.
"Later!" Suzaku answers, running off. Kallen just nods and follows.
"Aaaall we wanna do is eat your brains! We're not unreasonable; I mean, no one's gonna eat your eyes!" John is singing louding when I enter his new lab with Nunnally.
"That's not in very good taste," I scold, frowning.
"Aww, but I love that song. What's up?"
"Just came for a visit," I say, looking around. The laboratory is doubtless no where near as well-equipped as the ones John was used to, but the army did well with the resources available to them. The specimens are being confined to a soundproof cell along the back wall. I can see them beating useless against the tempered glass, trying to get out. John himself is standing at an operating table in the middle of the room, apparently dissecting one of the zombies. There are a few lab benches around, but aside from John, there's no one else around.
"I figured," John says. "If this was a business meeting, you wouldn't have brought Nanny. By the way, hi, Nan."
"I wasn't ignoring you, y'know."
Nunnally giggles. "I know."
"You're working here alone?" I ask, frowning.
"Yeah. All of the other scientist on assigned to this base are either serving as medics or with Prince Schnazzy."
"What about Mr. Masterson?"
"Gary only has a high school diploma. He's basically just a paid companion, only without the sex. He has other work to do."
"Mmm…" I say, nodding. "The Doctor and his companion."
"What are you implying?" John asks, smiling wryly.
"Nothing. Just missing TV," I say, pulling on a pair of rubber gloves and leaning over the zombie on the table. "Um, John? Is this thing still alive?"
"It's more effective to study them while the brain is still intact."
"Yeah, but why isn't he moving? Like, at all? And not tied up?"
"I removed his spinal cord. "
"Who does the spinal cord still work if nothing else does?" Nunnally asks. "I can't hear a heart beat…"
"Whatever virus or parasite does this kills everything else, but leaves the brain just intact enough to allow the body to continue moving, though all conscious thought is ceased. Without the spinal cord, even full-bodied zombies would have to drag themselves around by their teeth," John explains. "Which, by the way, is hilarious to watch."
"Where are the other zombies?" Nunnally asks. "Brother said you had almost a hundred of them down here, but I can't hear anything."
"Oh, they're around," John says absently, removing one of the specimen's kidneys. "Move the heart aside for a second, Lelouch."
I do as instructed, my stomach roiling a bit at the squelching sound the blood makes under my gloved fingers. "How can you stand this?" I grumble.
"You're the one who put the gloves on," John points out. "Besides, at least they don't stink, as rotting corpses tend to do."
"I'm familiar with what corpses smell like, thanks."
"You can put the heart back now."
"Though," I continue absently, "wouldn't it be nice if The Doctor swooped in to save us all?"
"I think that would be jumping the shark on a level unheard of. Besides, he's fictional."
"Yeah, I know that. I was just thinking out loud. Who's your favorite Doctor?"
"Five. Not many men can carry off a decorative vegetable."
"I don't think I've seen any of him. I've only watched the newer episodes."
"He was in one of the newer episodes."
"Really? Which one?"
"One of the shorts. It's on YouTube if-"
"Um." John and I both stop talking at once and turn our attention to Nunnally. "I'm sorry to interrupt," she says, "but I really have no idea what you two are talking about."
"Sorry, Nanny," Kantor says. "Whenever you put two or more nerds together, they're going to talk about something nerdy, to the exclusion of anyone in the room whose social gatherings don't include Dungeons & Dragons. The best we can offer is to give you a quick recap of the entire series in hopes that you might be able to contribute to the conversation."
"Can't we just talk about something else?"
"That's also an option. What do you want to talk about?"
"Umm… Lelouch seems to be going through girlfriends really quickly lately," she suggests.
"I have not!"
"What's this, zhuchok?" John asks teasingly. "Have you become a player?"
"No," I snap at him. "It's complicated."
"Okay." John hands me a scalpel. "Give me that thing," he orders, pointing at the zombie's liver.
"Why? Is it important?"
"Maybe. Just give it to me."
"If it's not important, why do you need it?"
"If it wasn't important, I wouldn't be asking you for it. Maybe."
"There's that word again. Is it important or not? Be honest!"
"There, see? Was that so hard?"
"Yes. I think I may be bleeding internally. In any case, I specifically designed Phalanx to show the highest concentrations of it in their livers. I want to analyze this one and see if it's the same."
"The liver, not the brain?" Nunnally asks. "How come?"
"Because most people won't think to check the liver," John explains, winking at her. "The liver is designed to filter certain chemicals out of the bloodstream. That's why the poor thing gets hit so hard by alcoholism. If whoever did this is using a modified form of Phalanx, it'll show up."
"The chemical solution I used to make my zombies."
"If someone is using Phalanx, can't they modify it enough so it doesn't show up?" I ask.
"Why would they? I'm the only one who knew it would show up, before now."
"They might've checked when they were testing it."
"Maybe. Here's hoping they didn't, though. If they did, we'll be out of leads until Prince Schnazzy is found."
I sigh deeply. "Are you absolutely sure you don't have any ideas about who did this?" I ask.
"A crazy person."
"A crazy person with mad connections."
"You just described the entirety of Britannian nobility," I point out, but John just shrugs
"Um, Dr. Kantor, about what you were saying earlier," Nunnally pipes up, "do you really think this is all over the world?"
"Not yet, probably, but give it time."
"Is there any antidote to Phalanx?" Nunnally asks, ignoring me.
"A bullet to the brain. If I can find a faster way to make every zombie drop dead simultaneously without killing any normal people I'll consider it a miracle."
"Oh. That's really sad."
"Indeed." John sighs and starts pulling his gloves off. "That's enough of that, I think," he says. "Lelouch, slide our friend here into that shoot there."
"Is that the incinerator?"
"You're just gonna burn him?" I ask. "There's nothing else you need?"
"Nope. We don't need to water; let the motherfucker burn."
"Watch your mouth!"
"I can't. I'm afraid of mirrors."
"Must you exhale facetiousness with every breath you take?"