In private, Lelouch wondered how this must look to any onlookers. The Prodigal Son of the Empire (Lelouch hated that name. It revealed just how many people didn't know the meaning of the word "prodigal") had returned Japan after embarrassing his elder sister on the battle field. Then Prince Clovis had been assassinated (Prince Lelouch was of course only injured). And now Lelouch was the acting Viceroy and was hosting a massive banquet in order to discuss his plans with the ruling class of Area 11. All in less than a fortnight.

Of course, even if someone noticed he or she would never dare to suggest it was anything more than a coincidence. Obviously, the Prince wasn't systematically removing his competition for the throne. I mean no one would actually shoot themselves in order to keep up a façade, right?

In reality, Lelouch himself was surprised at how things were going. He half wondered to himself if Schneizel was better at manipulating people than he gave him credit for. He dismissed the idea quickly though. Schneizel wasn't behind the most recent events. In fact, the Prime Minister was in all likelihood deducing a myriad of ways to snip Lelouch's wings at the moment.

Bringing himself back to the present, Lelouch took note of his guests. All of them were nobles and successful businessmen. There was actually a wide variety of people there, though anyone who was not away of the inner workings of high society in Area 11 wouldn't be able to tell.

Among his guests were friends, the Ashfords, the Cardemondes, the Fennettes, and the Einsteins were present. The latter three carried themselves humbly, painfully aware that their children were the reason for their attendance.

Many more were acquaintances of Lelouch. The most notable being the Stadtfelds and several of Lelouch's old chess "partners".

But by far, the vast majority of those present, were simply people of influence who had not been previously aligned to anyone else in the Royal Family. No one who he suspected of being in Clovis's, Schneizel's or anyone else's pocket had been invited.

As a result, he had to cast his net wide. Even if the family's "power and influence" didn't extend to more than a vote on a neighborhood association board, they were invited.

Lelouch noticed that everyone had seated and decided to be merciful. He began eating his appetizer and quickly enough his guests followed.

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Kallen didn't know what to think when she was first told that she would be accompanying her father and step-mother to big fancy banquet being held by the acting Viceroy Prince Lelouch.

When she had learned that he was inviting most of the nobility in the area in order to discuss his plans for the future she had become excited.

That very night she had met with Ohgi and the others and told them everything.

She was hoping to be given a chance to bomb the hall, but Ohgi quickly shot it down.

"I'm not planning on blowing myself up! I'll just set the timer, put my purse under the table and excuse myself to go to the bathroom", Kallen screamed. "How can we pass this chance up? This is a chance to cut off the head of the entire Britannian system in Japan! Everyone one important is going to be there".

"That isn't what I was worried about. I know you wouldn't blow yourself up. I'm more worried about what's going to happen to y-"

"Why Ohgi? Cause if you think I'm going to miss my …parents," Kallen spat out the word, "you got another thing coming". Kallen though for a second and added, "And you don't have to worry about me coming to live in your apartment. I'll have a whole estate to myself. I could probably sell it and buy my own apartment building. …hmmm maybe I'll do that. And you guys could stay there for free!"

Tamaki jumped in, "hey, I'm liking this plan more and more. Why not let her try it? We got nothing to lose."

Ohgi glared at Tamaki before turning back to Kallen. "We're not going to let you do this. I am not sanctioning you murdering your parents and I am not sanctioning you murdering a bunch of kids. Most importantly I am not letting you throw your life away. We have no way of knowing if we could even sneak a bomb in there with you much less it would really kill the Viceroy."

Kallen glared right back at Ohgi. She could have argued that nobody would suspect a sickly noble girl of carrying a bomb, or that any security there would be protecting the nobles not searching them, but she decided it was pointless. Ohgi wasn't going to admit it but he just didn't feel comfortable killing a bunch of people in cold blood. Especially non-combatants. Even if they were a bunch of blue-blooded Britannians.

"Fine", she said turning around. "Maybe I can come down with a migraine that night or something".

Ohgi grabbed her by the shoulder. "What are you talking about? You're going to that banquet."

"What are you talking about?" Kallen said spinning around. She poked Ohgi in the chest. "You just said we're not going to try and kill the Prince. So why should I waste my time and go"?

"You're the one that said the banquet was for the Viceroy to explain his plans for Japan to the nobility. He was originally sent here to eradicate terrorism. His plans are going to focus on that. Even if they don't we can only benefit from knowing what they are."

And so here she was. As it turned out it was lucky she didn't bring a bomb. Security here was incredibly tight. Metal detectors, x-ray machines, even body scanners. The guards confiscated everything that they could come up with an excuse for.

Kallen's heart almost stopped when the guards found her hidden blade. But one of them just made some snide comment about "Area 11 having some awfully big muggers" and tossed it in a box with the rest of her confiscated belongings.

Everyone got their own personal box with their name and a randomly assigned number on it. The box would be returned after the banquet ended with proof of identity and the number.

Even if she had gotten a bomb in here it would have been a waste though. The hall was must larger than she expected. Even with the vast number of guests most of them weren't important people as far as she could tell. They were still upper-class though. Maybe she was just more out of touch with the aristocracy than she thought. Kallen couldn't decide whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.

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Lelouch was very happy right now. His men had followed his orders to the letter and those orders had the very effect he was looking for.

The vast majority of the nobles present no doubt thought that they had been given a great honor of being invited. That through some action of theirs they had been rewarded with a position as someone who could influence the Viceroy.

His security measures had certainly done away with that attitude. Everyone here was now painfully aware that they were not favored. Upon arrival they were not guided into a grand hall and announced to all of the previous guests. They were instead herded almost like cattle through a dehumanizing process where they were blatantly treated as not possible but probable terrorists. In the end only to find that they were not part of the select few they thought they were.

Overall, the process would serve its stated purpose of providing security for him and his guests and remind those guests of their humility.

At the same time, the lack of the old hierarchy present would still show his guests they were the lucky ones. If any of them had any possibility of being useful to him they would realize this was an audition.

As people began to finish their appetizers Lelouch stood. It was time to begin explaining his purpose here. He waited for everyone's attention before he began.

"As you all know I was originally sent here to eradicate terrorism in this Area. Unfortunately, my brother, Prince Clovis, was killed shortly after word. As a result I have been given the position of Acting Viceroy until another is chosen by the Emperor. I plan on taking all of my new responsibilities quite seriously.

I've called you all here today is so that I can explain exactly how I plan on dealing with the terrorist problem. The reason for this is that I do not just plan on dealing with the terrorists out there right now; I plan on dealing with the causes of terrorism.

As you all know I lived in Area 11 before the invasion. I understand how the Elevens think. Their culture is one that places the whole above the individual.

As such, collective punishment would normally be the best course of action in dealing with dissidents. However, past administrations have robbed us of the power to effectively use this power.

The Elevens have been separated into isolated groups living in ghettos. This means that their society has been fractured. In addition the ghettoes they live in are quite literally the decaying ruins of their old cities.

Do you understand what this means? It means that right now the Elevens are being constantly reminded of their defeat and constantly reminded of what they lost. In the ghettos they are starving.

This is why the collective punishment I mentioned would not work. The Elevens have nothing to lose. There is nothing to punish them with. And with the separation between ghettos the pressure their society could put on terrorist cells has been cut to a fraction of what it could be anyway.

So I propose the following plan. We rebuild the ghettos. Not just rebuild them but restore them. If the Eleven population believes that we are attempting to further erase their cultural history it will only increase terrorist activity.

Instead we will use old city plans to restore the ghettos to how they were before the war. With the necessary changes to ensure that the ghettos are self-sustainable of course.

I also propose we treat each ghetto as a single separate population and any terrorists present in each ghetto as representing the population of the ghetto.

For example, if we build schools for the Elevens in Shinjuku and one of them is bombed we will have to assume that Shinjuku doesn't want Britannian built schools and remove them all at once.

I believe this attitude will force the Eleven populations at large to choose between what we can offer them and what the terrorists can offer them. And we can offer them much more.

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Kallen was shocked at what she was hearing. Lelouch vi Britannia, the Wolf of Britannia was planning on bribing the Japanese into submission. And the disgusting thing was that it would probably work. Just look at the Honorary Britannian System.

The man disgusted her. Here he was a Britannian prince claiming he understood how Japanese people thought. And yet he never once bothered to call them by their name. He referred to Japan as Area 11 even when he was talking about what it was like before the war. Bastard.

The thing that pissed her off the most was when he said the word Eleven. It was barely there, slight enough that she could be imagining it, but she swore he said it like it was something nasty he had to put in his mouth.

"God! If he reacts that way to 'Eleven' he probably can't even say 'Japanese'".

But she had to keep up her act as the respectable if sickly daughter of the Stadtfelds. So she continued to make mental notes and kept a straight face. It was a relief when the staff, all Japanese, brought out the next course in the middle of the speech.

Eventually, the Prince moved on to talk about how he was going to finance his plans. Kallen almost smirked. "So that's why you've been saying 'we' and 'us'".

Of course Kallen could be forgiven for choking a bit when she heard the next part. Most of the other guests did too.

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"Now does anybody have any questions?" Lelouch asked sitting down.

He glanced around. It was quite easy to see everyone. His seat was place higher than everyone else. He silently signaled that the next course be held off for now. He wanted first impressions on his bombshell.

He scanned the room again. The banquet hall tables were arranged like six uppercase E's placed back to back and stacked together. He sat on a separate table that was raised above the rest put which had been pressed against the main table.

To his right were the Ashfords, and the rest of the student council families. Continuing counterclockwise were more noble families he decided would make easy allies, next nobles, he needed as allies, next businessmen he needed on his side, next were businessmen already on his side, and finally nobles who doubled as businessmen.

"Please feel free to express any doubts with my plans you have. This is the very reason I invited you all here today".

Finally one of the Ladies seated nearby stood up.

"Just to clarify your highness. You are planning on taxing the nobility?"

Lelouch smirked. "Why yes, Lady Stadtfeld. I am. There was no need for clarification."

"But how can you justify this action? We are nobility. We are pureblooded Britannians. Let the commoners bear the burden."

"I should inform you that commoner Britannians already pay taxes, as I am sure the many businessmen in attendance here can attest. I am simply instituting a progressive tax rate and adding the nobility to the tax system."

"I don't understand. You can't have the authority to do this. The House of Lords would never allow it."

"No taxation without representation, Lady Stadtfeld? While I appreciate argument, I'm sorry to say that Washington lost his war. Besides as Viceroy I have the final say on all matters of governance in the Area, unless the Prime Minister or the Emperor intervenes."

"But, this is unprecedented. We are the Nobility. Tax the Elevens if you need the money. But don't tax us. We serve an important role in society and in the economy. We are the leaders. Haven't you heard of Social Darwinism? Haven't you heard of trickle-down economics?"

The Lady was becoming more animated. And she was forgetting who she was talking to. Lelouch frowned. She had served her purpose, yet she was too stupid to realize it and sit down.

"How unpatriotic, Lady Stadtfeld. Your government, your country needs your support and you try to pass the responsibility onto people who are not even citizens? And taxing the Elevens would be counterproductive. The whole point of this that the Elevens don't have anything to take. You need not worry about your position in society though. The tax rate isn't going to equalize the classes. You will still be much better off than the common man, Britannian or Eleven. Besides, as a leader in society shouldn't you during in a change such as this?"

"And I suppose you are going to pay taxes as well? I am led to believe that you favor the Elevens over us!"

Everyone noticeably stiffened. The Lady had most certainly forgotten who she was talking to. Poor Lord Stadtfeld looked like he was trying to decide whether to have a heart attack or to murder his wife.

"I must remind you Lady Stadtfeld that I am a Prince, a Viceroy, and a knight and an officer in the Britannian Royal Armed Forces. If you are going to ask that we consider roles in society in luau of taxation I would certainly come before you. That said, as a Prince I am part of the Royal Family. I am who you pay your taxes to."

Lelouch, who had been growing increasingly cold, suddenly softened. "But enough of that. Do not worry, Lady Stadtfeld. I am sure that the new taxes will have no noticeable effect on your lifestyle. I am sorry. I forgot. It must be hard to move from a traditionally wealthy family to one that depends on the invisible hand of economics. However, I am sure your husband is competent enough that taxes alone won't bankrupt him".

Confusion overcame the woman's face. "How did you know that I came from a wealthy family?"

Lelouch feigned confusion. "Was your dowry not substantially large? I could have sworn that a businessman like your husband-"There was the sound of someone spitting and coughing nearby.

"Well yes it was but wh-"

It was at this time that Lord Stadtfeld grabbed his wife by the arm and pulled her into her seat. The woman sat there with a look of utter confusion on her face.

Murmurs could be heard starting up as the Princes final comment sank in. Lelouch noticed with a smirk that the Ashfords were all chuckling to themselves. Well actually, Milly was still laughing into her napkin while a servant cleaned up her drink. Rivalz was snickering into his hand while Shirley and Nina just looked shocked.

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Kallen didn't understand what just happened. Her step-mother had just been making a sputtering fool of herself with the Prince.

Suddenly, the Prince, who was looked like he was considering having her executed, became all nice and sweet. He apologized to the idiot. And mentioned something about her maiden family.

When her step-mother asked how he knew that stuff, Kallen almost face palmed. It was obvious. He just did background checks on everybody.

Then the Prince mentioned something and the President of the Student Council choked on her water spilling it everywhere.

That was a couple of minutes ago, and everybody was still whispering to each other. Her father looked like he was watching his life flash before his eyes. And her step-mother just looked confused and embarrassed.

What was it that he said? Something about a dowry. A real big one. And her father being a businessman…

Kallen's hands shot up to her mouth. Was he implying? …oh it was going to be wonderful mentioning this to the old bag later, when she was feeling malicious.

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Lelouch gave the signal to bring over the next course. He gave one last glance at the Stadtfeld's just in time to notice their daughter, cover her face with her hands and lower her head in embarrassment.

"I would just like to remind everyone that I'm still looking for any questions about any part of my plans. I would simply like to add that you think through your question before you ask it."

The deserts were being brought out when someone finally found the courage to ask a question.

"Excuse me, your highness. But how do you plan on beginning the reconstruction of the ghettos? How will you choose contractors? How will you protect them? Are you going to begin construction in all of them simultaneously or work on them one at a time?"

"I was planning on beginning the reconstruction in Nagasaki since that settlement is the most peaceful. Other ghettos will be chosen once they have been deemed safe enough. Still we will rebuild along the border with the settlements, expanding out along the border block by block, returning every finished block to Eleven control. Contractors will be chosen by bid after extensive background checks. During construction the surrounding blocks will be quarantined by the Britannian military."

Another noble joined in, "but right now many of those building have squatters in them. What's to keep the squatters from moving right back in?"

"That responsibility would fall to the landlords and the local police".

"Excuse me sir. But what of the Honorary Britannians? Will be taxed under the new system as citizens of Britannia or are they considered a part of the Eleven population"?

"The Honorary Britannians accepted the responsibilities that came with their citizenship. They will be taxed under the new system."

"Your Highness, while I agree that your plans might very well eliminate the support the terrorists have, aren't you forgetting why the ghettos exist in the first place? They are punishment for not choosing to become Britannian citizens. If the Elevens are content, they won't turn to terrorism, but neither will they turn to citizenship. The Honorary Britannian System will lose the little support it has in the Eleven population. Especially if it means being taxed."

"That is a very real concern. However, I believe I have a satisfactory solution.

First, the exemption from taxation for Elevens is a temporary measure. Once the ghettos have been rebuilt I will begin planning a new tax code that will include Elevens.

Second, only Britannian citizens will be allowed to own land or to run a business or organization of any kind. If that organization is political in nature then only Britannian citizens may be members. Non-citizens will continue to be banned from the settlements. Only Britannnian citizens will be allowed to hold any position that has to do with security, such as police or military work. I am planning other limitations as well, but I believe I've made my point.

There will still be plenty of economic and political incentive for Elevens to become Honorary Britannians."

By the time desert was finished. The entire banquet hall was taking part in light-hearted debates about policy. Occasionally, questions were asked of Lelouch which he happily gave answers too.

Lelouch was actually surprised at some of the arguments a few of his guests made. Once he actually had to concede that one of the suggestions, to quarantine the ghettos so that the Elevens relied on Honorary Britannians for imports, was better than his original plan to allow free trade between the Elevens and the rest of the Empire.

Which it was. Lelouch had actually come up with it earlier. But, he wanted to help the Elevens as much as possible as well. In the end the coalition of entrepreneurs and the CEO of a private security company, had proven that poverty wouldn't stop people from getting anything legally much less on the black market. Oh well. Overall tonight was a victory.

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Kallen never thought that she would enjoy going to school. It had been three weeks since that stupid banquet.

Of course her father had disappeared off to the Britannian homeland as soon as he could. On business, he said.

And her step-mother was always at home now. And she never had any guests. The dumbass had been blacklisted by everybody. Even Clovis's old flunkies (who apparently had lost all of their standing when he died) wouldn't talk to her.

So whenever Kallen stepped through the door the old bitch would immediately begin venting and harping at her.

And she couldn't even go visit the guys because the Shinjuku border had practically been militarized by all of the construction and the police.

Kallen sighed and fell face first into her bed. Her step-mother was screaming at her through the door.

…Wait now she was screaming at the maid.

Kallen groaned covered her ears and buried her face further into her comforter.

This was all that stupid prince's fault.