Hey guys. Thanks for all the volunteering. We reckon we got it sorted now. Let's keep this ball rolling. Sorry this chapter's taken so long, still trying to work the balance back up. Lemme know what you think.
Mars stepped out of the bathroom, wrapping the bathrobe around her.
She cursed herself for getting in this situation, but she didn't even know yet why she was moved from one prison to another. She had no information, and no leverage, over the man who had brought her to her new home. She didn't even know why her captor had broken her out in the first place.
So far, she preferred this golden cage to the stark concrete one she was in previously.
Still, that did not answer the question of Why.
She stepped into the next room along the corridor, not that she had much choice in direction.
Mars almost kicked herself. Mars could've kicked herself. She had actually sworn fealty to that man, that boy, just like that. She had signed herself up for anything he wanted to do with or to her, and there was nothing she could do about it.
But, Despite her misgivings and recriminations, she was grateful that she was able to see. And move.
Although her limited freedom appeared to be quickly turning into a case of 'Bathe her and bring her to me', all things considered.
Sighing, and steeling herself mentally for the worst, she knocked on the heavy wooden doors, deciding that setting fire to this place might not be in her best interests at the moment.
Momentary panic that got her here notwithstanding, all those years kneeling in that cell had managed to cool her hot head somewhat.
The doors burst open opened , and a blonde bombshell reached through the frame and pulled her in close in an almost giddilygiddy burst of action. "MARS!" She The blonde shouted, jumping up and down as she looked her over. "Oh, I am so GLAD to FINALLY MEET YOU!"
Mars had to blink, forcibly stopping herself from giving this girl a bad case of spontaneous human combustion.
The girl accosting her was beautiful. It wasn't fair to call her good looking. She was on a level that should be beyond human. Her blonde hair split into an X-shape at her forehead, with the rest of her hair gently pulled back into long, gentle braids that reached past her waist. She was wearing an elegant white and gold dress that exposed her collarbone and shoulders. While she looked like one who could easily pass for royalty, the gentle hint of muscle under her skin showed that she had grown up understanding the concept of physical work to some extent.
"Concordia, please be gentle." Another voice said, another female. Mars looked up to see the second woman, finding another stunning beauty, one of a more gentle variety. Her long pink hair framed her gentle face before flicking out below her chin. She wore a red dress, with white trains wrapped around her, just below the waist. One of her shoulders was covered by a long red sash wound around her body. Mars could tell that this one was just slightly less physically active than the blonde.
The blonde, presumably Concordia, coughed and began straightening Mars' bathrobe. "My apologies. I allowed myself to get carried away. My name is Concordia, and it is a pleasure to meet you, miss Mars."
"And... you..?" Mars replied, feeling terribly underdressed in more ways than one as the pink-haired woman stepped forward.
"My name is Anthea.: The pink haired woman said in way of introduction. "Mars, it is so wonderful that you could be here with us. We have heard so many wonderful things about you from Lord N."
Lord N. So these women were his servants.
Mars took this time to look at her surroundings. The room stunk of Britannian influence, from the thick carpet to the purple lining on the wall. As jumping for conclusions went, Mars took the pole vault and decided she was in the house of some defunct royal who wanted her skills as a code and as a commander in the ex-Team Galactic.
Slightly more comfortable than previous worst case scenarios, but still not a safe haven.
Still, she couldn't complain. At least they hadn't strapped her to the metal table to discover what made her tick.
She was pulled out of her thought, however, when Concordia placed two vice-like hands onto her shoulders, slipping under her robe in a menacing fashion.
"And I am just dying to get you out of those wet clothes and into something less comfortable." Anthea said, dragging her to one side. "Now, I know that you're used to wearing black and white, and I know that you do look good in those, but I really think this red one would really bring out the colour of your eyes...
Suzaku sat silently in the throne room, looking over the maps of the area they would be bombing.
He honestly could not believe just how far things had come complete circle over the past decade.
This time ten years ago, he was a small child running for his life, fleeing from Britannian Dragonite.
After that, he was begging for his bread, before bowing his head to the Britannian and enlisting in their army to try and change things from within.
And oh, how he has changed things from within.
Now, he sits atop the whole empire that once rampaged his homeland. He hid under the corpses of this empire's fallen enemies, and now he stands on top of the corpses of those who ruled before him.
He shook his head clear of that thought. Euphy had expressly forbidden him from any thinking that may lead to any bouts of self-hate.
Back to the task at hand.
The idea was simple.
They would go to where Lelouch was.
They would command him to surrender.
And when he refused, they would initiate the heatran bombardment.
It was one of the few weapons they had against Codes.
The intense heat released as the heavy metal bodies of the heatran collided with the ground turned the rock, soil, trees, air and everything else to glass.
Not only does this incinerate the Code, but with the ashes recombined into glass, not only was their regeneration retarded significantly, but when they did manage to regenerate, they would still remain trapped in their perfect prison, unable to breathe or move.
Suzaku had to admit, it was a more severe prison than the one Clovis had C.C. in before he and Lelouch found her, but at least this way they wouldn't be alive to suffer from this.
It would be a clean capture.
Suzaku looked upwards at Skyla, who saluted sharply. "We will be entering Russian airspace within the hour, Sire. The war room is ready and staffed."
It was one aspect of the throne that Suzaku detested.
No one dared make any demands of him.
It would have been so much easier for Skyla to just say 'It's time for the briefing in the war room sire. Get off your throne and get to work.', but no. He was the Prince Consort, and they had to merely deliver the facts, and hope he would make a decision.
Unfortunately, this deception of royalty was deity was one that Suzaku hadn't quite managed to stamp out of the empire yet.
"Thank you Captain." Suzaku said, getting to his feet. "Have the men briefed to my arrival. There should be no need of diplomats, but inform my men on the ground."
Skyla saluted again. "Yes, your highness." She bowed, before sprinting out of the throne room.
Russia was one of the last areas to fall to Britannia, having eliminated their Duma and created a Viceroyalty to reign during the second appearance of Zero. It was one of the deciding factors that led China to attempt a marriage of convenience with the Britannian empire, what good that managed to give them.
At the current moment, the Commonwealth spanned the American continents, Japan, Northwest Africa, Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Greenland, Iceland, The Falklands, Indochina, The Philippines, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, the Southern Pacific Islands, Korea, Indonesia, parts of India, some of the Middle Eastern states, Portugal, Spain, and Nepal.
The Arab Coalition was surrounded by the United Federation of Nations, born of the remains of the Chinese Empire and Zero City. The UFN were the closest things that the Britannian Empire had to call allies, and that was only because of the revolution had put Suzaku on the throne. The UFN also commanded most of Eastern Africa, Turkey, Italy, and a number of the other, smaller territories between The European Universe and Russia.
The European Universe had remained quiet during the uprising. But it wouldn't be long before they set their sights on Spain and Italy.
But for now, Suzaku could be content.
There were no wars to be fought at the moment.
"Don't bother exercising, you won't get any muscles." C.C. scolded Lelouch as he performed pull-ups on the doorway to the Secret Base.
"Is this a part of the Code?" Lelouch asked, sounding like he didn't care.
"You'll be a scrawny runt for all eternity." C.C. answered, rubbing it in.
Lelouch frowned, unhappy with this new development, but deciding to drop to the floor. Even though the witch had said that his body would never develop in stature, he had already beaten his previous record. More likely than his strength increasing, however, was that his body regenerated lactose and muscle as he burned through it, returning him to his previous state as he worked.
Still, it would more useful to work on improving his technique.
"I'm ready." Lelouch announced, walking over to the map as he began donning the outside clothing. "We'll head for Talnakh. It's a small nickel-mining town, sixteen miles above Norilsk. We'll get transportation once we're there and continue our course to Germany."
C.C. raised an eyebrow as Serenity began to pack everything up. "You seem very set on this course."
Lelouch continued dressing, memorising the layout of the terrain as portrayed on the map in front of him. "Out of all the plans available to us, this one has the most opportunities for success, should something fail, resulting in the greatest likelihood of a favourable outcome. The European Universe is the strongest of all the world forces that haven't been poisoned against me, so entering the political stage under a false name would be easiest from there, as it is a democracy." He flashed her a smile. "I think my charms and good sense should win me the majority vote in a number of their countries."
C.C. smiled, reaching for her own winter clothing. "Don't get us lost, Lelouch." She warned mischievously.
Looker was less than pleased with the results of his investigations so far.
Nothing. That was the sum total of all their efforts so far.
This Zero was just as much of an enigma as before.
Moreso, in fact, because this one was clearly not Lelouch.
That was the only thing they could confirm.
Voice patterns, mannerisms, ideals, even dramatism, all intended to imitate the late Lelouch Vi Britannia's personification of Zero, but failed.
It was a copycat terrorist.
Unfortunately, while his acting left a lot to be desired, his anonymity was perfect.
"So, we know the Unsub is imitating Zero, but is not the original." Sydney said, walking around the room. "The Union of Zero have released a statement declaring that they have nothing to do with this-"
"I don't think they have anything to do with the suspect." Alder said, tapping a pen against his foot. "Too much to lose, not enough to gain from murdering the Prime Minister."
"The previous Zero always placed himself at the front, and took pains to always look like a hero," Lucien said, reciting the facts. "This Unsub isn't showing any of these tendencies, Th-the assassination especially just isn't his style, I-I mean when Clovis was killed, Lelouch allowed the body to be found, and this was after he ordered an ethnic cleansing on the Shinjuku region of Japan. The same was true with the attack on the Empress Euphemia, although that was a failed attempt, Lelouch used his Geass to force the Empress to be the villain before making an attempt on her life, wheras this time-"
"The victim was given no time to vilify himself." Alder nodded. "All we have is the Unsub's word for it that he was guilty of any crime of injustice..."
"He doesn't match the profile." Sydney nodded. "He's violent, angry, ruthless, this isn't some self-proclaimed hero of justice we're dealing with, he's just a common vigilante."
"And he's smart too." Alder pointed out. "Very meticulous in covering his tracks, so he's either very smart-"
"Or he has political power behind him." Looker nodded, rising to his feet. "Lanette, go through the financial records of every disgruntled royal, try and find any unusual financial expenditures that could have been used to bribe guards or pay for hackers to erase a trail. It's a long shot but that's all we've got to go on for now.
"You've got it Kingpin." She said, happily, opening up the bank details in question and looking for anything suspicious.
"Sydney, take Kallen and look at the crime scene. I know it's your first case but you have first hand experience with Lelouch. We need you to look at this objectively and look for anything that doesn't match. Understood?"
"Yessir." Kallen said, rising to her feet and getting ready to move.
"Alder, take Dahlia and speak with everyone the late Prime Minister had any dealing with in the past week." Looker continued. "This will take some time so first look for those without an alibi for the time period just before the Prime Minsters death; keep an eye out for any personal vendettas against the Empress and her husband. Lucien, you're with me. Call me if any of you find anything."
"Sir." Everyone said an agreement as they split off to their assigned tasks.
Lelouch and C.C. marched through the blizzard.
They spoke little, but slowly made headway.
And then the sky rumbled.
"We've found them your Highness!" Skyla reported. "They're travelling on foot directly below us."
Suzaku nodded. "Launch a hyperbeam warning shot." He ordered. "Then relay the transmission."
"Yes, Your Highness!" The bridge team shouted, getting to work.
C.C. and Lelouch dived out of the way as the white beam created a new lake beside where they previously had been standing. Getting behind cover, they saw the massive Rayquaza ship, the S.S. Camelot, descend from the cloud line.
Lelouch paled, and it wasn't from the cold.
_/_ "LELOUCH VI BRITANNIA AND SIERRA!" _/_ A booming voice from the loudspeakers aboard the ship roared, the volume shaking the ice below and causing an avalanche nearby. _/_ "YOU ARE HEREBY UNDER ARREST FOR HIGH TREASON AND OTHER CRIMES AGAINST THE HOLY BRITANNIAN EMPIRE! SURRENDER NOW OR PREPARE TO BE BOMBARDED!" _/_
Lelouch took deep breaths.
This was not going to plan.
But that Geass he had implanted into himself all those years ago worked his brain into overdrive.
The bridge waited for a response they knew was not coming.
There was no way Lelouch could communicate with them from down there.
This farce of an arrest served only to abate the Prince Consort's conscience.
Or, more likely, the Empress's conscience.
Still, they waited for a response they knew was not coming.
"Bombarded." Lelouch gasped. "What will that achieve? He knows that-"
"Heatran bombardment turns the entire terrain into glass. Including us." C.C. explained, slight tremor on her voice. "We will regenerate. But then we will only be released on their terms. How are we getting out of this?"
It felt like he had just been reduced to that ten year old boy he had been during the invasion of Japan, facing the Rhydon and the Tyranitar again.
Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. No weapon to fight back.
He was completely reliant on Suzaku's mercy.
And Lelouch knew full well that Suzaku had none.
He could march out there and kneel down in the snow with his hands behind his head, and he would still be defeated.
Every option ahead of him lead to his defeat at Suzaku's hand.
He's had a lot of time to prepare for this.
Time that Lelouch did not have to level the playing field.
A bad metaphor in this situation, considering what Suzaku was going to do.
But, he had a card left to play.
"Prepare the bombardment." Suzaku announced. "They have sixty seconds."
"Yes, Your Highness."
_/_ "LELOUCH VI BRITANNIA AND SIERRA!" _/_ The voice repeated. _/_ "YOU HAVE SIXTY SECONDS AND WE WILL OPEN FIRE! SURRENDER NOW!"_/_
"I'm going to get us out of this." Lelouch told C.C. calmly and clearly. "I have a plan, but I need you to play your role perfectly if it is to succeed."
"I am still your accomplice." C.C. told him. "I will assist you if it means keeping you alive."
_/_ "FIFTY SECONDS!" _/_
Lelouch nodded morosely, then glared into her eyes and asked a question.
"Will you marry me?"
"Heatran bombardment in T-minus thirty seconds." Skyla announced, the time display showing on the board as a burst of white light rose from the snow below. "INCOMING OBJECT! BRACE FOR IMPACT!"
The glass of the command centre shattered as the impossibly quick lugia performed Brick Break, before it returned to its ball as two hooded figures strode across the bridge, walking towards Prince Consort Suzaku.
The soldiers opened fire immediately, but the bullets were completely absorbed by the reuniclus that covered the two intruders.
One lowered his hood as Suzaku rose to his feet.
"Lelouch." Suzaku said, walking towards the pair with absolute hate in his eyes.
Lelouch smiled, then ran forward, engulfing the commander-in-chief of the Britannian empire, the Prince Consort to Empress Euphemia Li Britannia, his old friend and mortal nemesis in a choking bear hug.
"It's been too long Suzaku!" He shouted happily as the entire bridge trained their guns on him, not firing as Lelouch turned around, using the acting Emperor as a human shield. "How have you been? I heard you and Euphy got married, you sly dog! I just knew you'd be great together! How's Nunnally! I bet she doesn't leave the pair of you alone for a second, does she-"
"Lelouch." Suzaku snarled, pistol pressed against Lelouch's torso inside the embrace. "What're you trying to pull? How... how DARE you even PRETEND TO BE MY FRIEND!?"
Lelouch smiled, his grin turning slightly more sinister, but none but Suzaku could see the change as he kept his head close to Suzaku's. "Just a little petty payback for my favourite backstabber, Suzaku." He whispered, before raising his voice and declaring that "I want to make things right."
Suzaku pulled away from Lelouch's grip and raised his pistol to aim right into Lelouch's face. "YOUR HIGHNESS! DON'T-"
"I'm still under his previous Geass to stay alive, so I am safe, Captain." Suzaku growled, not taking his eyes off his opponent. "What do you want?" He growled, forcing himself not to send a bullet into his old friend's skull just yet.
Lelouch spread his arms out, a simple gesture to show that he didn't have a weapon.
"Nothing much, just a small favour." He said.
"What, forgiveness?" Suzaku spat. "Amnesty? Or maybe you're even more callous! Are you going to ask for Japan? Mexico? Your own little territory to play dictator while I walk away from what you've done?"
"Nothing quite so grand." Lelouch replied, shaking his head while gesturing C.C. forward. "Suzaku, will you be my best man at our wedding?"
Now, I know what you're thinking.
And nope. This isn't a romance, happy everything fix fic.
Stuff gets real.