A/N: I have a love of both the Matrix and Code Geass, and I was tempted to write this as a result. Enjoy!
Lelouch sat tersely on the leather seat, back rigid and eyes focused on the windows of the computer screen before him. He scrolled down on the current page, a recent dispatch to newbies on current criminals, but there was no information he hadn't already memorized.
"Not much is known about the man who goes by the name 'Ohgi', legendary criminal and hacker on the loose. The FBI has reported him to be one of the most dangerous people alive. His age and last name are unknown. His ethnicity is also unknown, and though many assume him to be Japanese, due to his facial features and hair color, he has been heard talking fluently in a number of European languages including French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
He is famous for his unprecedented exploit of the US Army database, revealing highly sensitive information about illegal military movements in Guantamano Bay, and proposed plans to wage war against Japan. He is also the prime suspect behind the murder of George W. Bush, former American president. At age 21, Ohgi was sentenced to jail for twenty years for alleged rape and attempted murder on John McCain, but escaped from a maximum security ward on January 19, 2011, during his 5th year. His true motives are unknown, but his prison break suggests accomplices, and his actions seem to stem from a personal grudge against America."
Besides the caption was an unflattering picture of said brunette, which most every child and all hackers in America knew. Ohgi here stared defiantly at the camera: a set square chin, wide eyebrows, greasy black hair framing his face.
Lelouch drummed his fingers and sighed. He had wiretapped all the detectives working on discovering the whereabouts of Ohgi, and the windows on his computer were constantly refreshing logs of their emails and instant messages to each other. There had been nothing. Nothing but drivel about how hard this was and how they deserved a higher paycheck and how someone's wife had cheated on so-and-so and could they come to the city for dinner tonight? There had been a few promising leads in the first year, but all had been investigated thoroughly, and none had been associated with Ohgi. Incidents that seemed impossible – murdering political figures in broad daylight, internal leaks from the White House – that left no tracks. What had been very amusing is that many of Lelouch's own exploits were believed to be Ohgi's doing. It had been obvious from the first month that if Lelouch wanted to find Ohgi, he would have to do so through his own research, on his own time, instead of relying on his assigned detectives.
Unfortunately, his day job at Bloomberg took up a large chunk of his time, and his employer, an eccentric man named Lloyd, was oddly perceptive of whenever he stayed up too late. In the course of two years Lelouch had been slowly setting himself up as bait. But Ohgi had yet to respond.
A message popped up, catching his attention.
XxroloxX16: hey wat up
Lelouch would have smiled, but he was really not in the mood to deal with his brother today. Lately, Rolo had been even clingier than usual, contacting him every day either by phone or through Internet. Lelouch was worried about his social life, or lack thereof, and Rolo was much too dependent for a normal teenager.
gambit_volga: Nothing. Go to sleep, Rolo.
XxroloxX16: but I want 2 talk wit u
gambit_volga: How many times have I told you? Proper grammar and punctuation are critical during online communication.
XxroloxX16: Ugh, but its so annoying. :( But I'll do it for you. ;)
This was another thing that alarmed Lelouch of the late. Rolo had a compulsive need for affection, and while Lelouch understood where it stemmed from, it seemed to be evolving into more than brotherly love. Recently Rolo had been sending his brother questionable texts that would definitely be considered flirting from another person.
gambit_volga: How was your date with Ms. Fenette?
Ms. Fenette was an acquaintance of Lelouch's. She seemed to share many characteristics with Rolo, such as blushing and stammering in his presence. He hoped they got along well.
XxroloxX16: I told you not to set me up with her! I really don't like her. Wait, I gtg now
XxroloxX16: bye :3
XxrolorxX16: good night
Lelouch closed the window with some sense of relief. Stretching his slim arms, he reflected on his latest attempt to instigate Ohgi. Lelouch had no doubt that he was on an equal skill as Ohgi, at least intellectually, and only he would discern the subtle threads he'd left for the man. He'd manipulate a few bars of code in the most secure government files every couple months, confusing the hell out of anyone else monitoring them. Though they served no purpose besides attracting attention, it was what Lelouch replaced the code with that was the most important, which he did not expect anyone to figure out. Of course, anyone could include Ohgi, but…
He fell asleep in the small apartment to the lull of comfortable binary and the sound of his computer humming.
Hours later it seemed, a small beep resonated from his speakers. Lelouch groaned and opened his eyes, shoulders stiff from his awkward position. Then his eyes flew wide open. His computer screen was flashing, [Wake up, Lelouch].
Instantly he began typing back.
[Yes?] he typed back. A pause.
 was the enigmatic response.
Lelouch stared at his screen in confusion. 0? That was it? What an unusual segue. He typed back.
[Zero. The Black Knights.] the answer came quickly as if in clarification.
[I don't have time for this nonsense.] Lelouch began pressing the esc key but it was in vain.
[Follow the Cheese-kun.]
He was about to shut the computer down he received another message.
[Knock, knock, Lelouch]
Suddenly, the door rattled. Lelouch almost jumped, his heart stuttering than beating so loudly he could hear it.
He whipped his head around to face the door, and then the computer, and so on, but the computer remained blank.
Quickly he turned off the monitor and said, "Who is it?" forcing his voice to remain calm. He glanced at his watch. It was 22:00. He'd fallen asleep very early.
A calm female voice responded. "C.C."
Lelouch relaxed, though his breath remained shaky. How in the world could someone have broken through his personally programmed security system? He'd investigate any traces after C.C. was gone, but he had a feeling there wouldn't be any. No, this had to be…
The door rattled again. "Hey, boy, open the door."
He took another deep breath and opened the door. The green-haired woman bounced by him and plopped onto his bed unceremoniously.
"You're late," he told her arrogantly, but it didn't seem to fool her.
She raised an eyebrow. "You're looking a little paler than usual." C.C. had known him since birth and was the only one who could read his emotions quite so well.
"Bad dream," he replied. "Now give me the keys."
The woman chuckled, reaching into her plush doll and pulling out keys from inside its shirt. She threw them to Lelouch carelessly, who fumbled with them before placing them in a drawer.
"I'm going to a club now. The Malibu. Won't you come with me?"
Lelouch swiveled his chair. "I don't have time – " and looked at the plush closer. "Don't tell me – that doesn't happen to be named Cheese-kun, does it?"
"And what would spur this sudden interest? I've had this baby for years." She stroked it with obvious affection.
Lelouch stood up. A slow smirk formed on his features. "I'll come with you."
C.C. looked startled. "An entire youth spent in antagonistic isolation, and suddenly you're ready to party? Please. Well – it's none of my business, I suppose."
She jumped off the mattress and brushed lint off her slinky dress. "Get changed. I'll wait for you outside."
Lelouch nodded. As C.C. closed the door he rushed to his computer to turn the monitor on. But the chat screen was no longer there.
Lelouch stared for a moment, then his lips curved into a smile. He threw his head back and laughed, and laughed. He knew who was behind this.
"Interesting opening move, Ohgi," he said aloud. He was certain he would catch his words, and with a smile he began to change.
Lelouch held no interest whatsoever in socializing, drinking, or dancing, which was why he was casually leaning against the bar, watching C.C. get hit on by various men, each more desperate than the last. He'd been here waiting for about an hour, but he was positive Ohgi would send him a message of some sort, sometime during the night.
A woman approached him, with straight red hair and a demure pose. "Good evening, Lelouch," she said softly.
Lelouch swallowed back a smirk. Finally. "How do you know my name?" He kept his eyes focused on C.C.
"I know a lot about you."
"Who are you?"
The woman turned around suddenly to face him. Lelouch didn't even blink as her large green eyes bore into his.
"You can call me Statdfield."
His eyes widened slightly and he extended his hand. "Fancy meeting you here. Statdfield, as in the one who cracked the IRS database?"
She didn't take his hand. "That was a decade ago." To be honest, Lelouch hadn't considered Statdfield as a girl, but he kept his thoughts to himself. Considering her age - she couldn't be older than 30 - that feat was very, very impressive.
Something clicked. "That was you on my computer. How did you do that?" His eyes refocused on the dance floor but he paid close attention to any movements from Statdfield.
"Never mind. Right now all I can tell you is that you're in danger. I brought you here to warn you." Her demeanor seemed to suddenly change, eyes slit and voice much more confident than the prior meek tone.
"They're - " she broke off as Lelouch gazed at her unblinkingly. "They're watching you, Lelouch."
"Who is?" Some annoyance must have been conveyed in his tone, but he didn't expect Statdfield to respond as she did.
"You dumb twit!" she growled angrily, her eyes suddenly spitting mercury. She seized him by the collar. Lelouch was too surprised to pull back. "Don't you think I know why you're here? What you've been doing? Trust me when I say I know why you hardly sleep, why night after night you sit at your computer. You're looking for him." She paused, glaring at him, and suddenly Lelouch felt slightly less confident. He understood Stadtfield had some connection with Ohgi, but this level of involvement was unprecedented. "I know, because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me, he told me I wasn't really looking for him." Stadtfield took a breath and said, "I was looking for an answer. It's the question that drives us, Lelouch. Don't be coy about it. It's the question that brought you here."
The redhead broke off, and when she looked at him again, a little bit of sympathy seeped into her tone. "You know the question, just as I did..."
"What is the Ragnarok." Lelouch half-whispered.
"The answer is out there, Lelouch. I don't have much time left, but - It's looking for you... and it will find you..." She swallowed and suddenly everything seemed dimmer. The crowd around him, the club music, faded, as did her voice.
"If you want it to..."
Everything went dark.
Lelouch bolted up from his bed, breathing harshly. His undershirt was damp with sweat, and for a second he thought he could still hear an echo of Stadtfield's voice. Noon light was already filtering in from the ragged curtains. His watch: 11:21.
Quickly he checked his cell phone. Three missed calls from Lloyd and one from Rolo. Lelouch shook his head and headed to the shower.
He arrived at work an hour later, the picture of noncommital composure. "Lelouuuuuuuuuuch!" he heard a voice yell, and was suddenly engulfed in wiry arms. "You are so very late today!" his boss tutted, shaking his head at him. "Unfortunately, I had to tell Schneizel... No, don't look at me like that! It's my duty to the boss!" Lloyd pouted but Lelouch just gaped at him, fury bubbling.
"Lloyd..." Lelouch pressed his fingers to his temples. Schneizel was the head of the Bloomberg Corporation only through family. He was ruthless but cunning. There were many unsavory rumors about him that he chose not to address, namely his alleged involvement with child prostitution and a famous drug ring years back.
"I know, I know. He's a detestable man, isn't he?" Lloyd put his finger to his chin in mock thought, his round glasses slipping down. But the reason why Lelouch was so unwilling to see him wasn't just his character. Schneizel had had a special interest in Lelouch a few years before, tracking him down when he'd just joined the company before trying to initiate an affair. Lelouch turned him down. Schneizel had a slick, charasmatic exterior that anyone with half a brain could see through. Since then, Lelouch had risen above the ranks of his own accord, but every so often Schneizel would request a meeting with him, for the sole purpose of making sexual advances at him.
"I'll be going now." Lelouch shrugged out of Lloyd's embrace and headed to the elevator. Lelouch ignored his cries of "Be careful!" as he ascended to the 90th floor.
Sunlight refracted through the glass of the topmost floor of the building, heating up the corridors to an uncomfortable degree. The whole area was bright, and the doorknob was hot when Schneizel called out, "Come in."
Lelouch closed the door behind him. "Good morning, Mr. Britannia."
Schneizel smiled indulgently at him. "How many times have I told you, Lelouch?" He drew out the last syllable. "Just Schneizel will do. But I think you meant 'good afternoon,' did you not? It is already two o'clock."
"I fell down the stairs," he said mildly.
Schneizel sighed. "Come closer. Why don't you sit down?"
Lelouch sat down in the cushy leather chair. The office had all manner of conspicuous, lavish decorations. An antique 18th century cherry wood desk. A Picasso painting. An ornate chandelier.
"Lelouch," Schneizel began in a sweet tone, "you have a problem with authority. You believe that you are special, that somehow the rules do not apply to you. Isn't that so?"
"No, Mr. -"
Schneizel continued without stopping. "Obviously you are mistaken." His eyes flashed. "This company is the top software company in the world because every single employee understands that they are part of a whole." He inclined his head. "Thus if an employee has a problem, the company has a problem." Now he leered at Lelouch. "I believe you deserve a punishment, for not understanding where your place is, Lelouch."
Lelouch bit back a retort and instead said, "And what would that be?"
"Your place? Below mine, obviously." Schneizel stood up, and walked around the desk to stand in front of Lelouch, the sound of his footsteps muffled by a plush fur rug. "Your punishment..."
Schneizel smiled. It was not a happy smile. He kneeled and cupped Lelouch's chin delicately. Lelouch privately felt sick.
"You are so beautiful," the blonde murmured, his voice ghosting Lelouch's skin. "Your eyes... they are like pure amethyst orbs, piercing into my soul..." Schneizel raised one finger to lightly caress Lelouch's neck, but he jerked back.
"Don't touch me," Lelouch said hoarsely.
As if these words were a cue, Schneizel stepped back, stood up and forced Lelouch's chin up. He could feel the barely suppressed violence in the hand. Schneizel's eyes narrowed slightly at him. Lelouch stared back defiantly. Schneizel's lips pressed into a firm line and he suddenly tightened his hand, before letting go with such force that Lelouch staggered back. He breathed, willing himself to maintain composure as Schneizel made his way back to his chair. He exhaled, ran his fingers through his hair before resting his arms on the table with a perfectly bored expression.
"I will be lenient now, but the time has come to make a choice, Mr. Lamperouge," Schneizel murmured. "Either you choose to be at your desk, on time, from this day forward - or you will find a much worse punishment than what I hinted at just now. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
"Yes." Lelouch remained standing.
"Good. Then you may leave." And with that, the meeting was dismissed.
Lelouch finally let his shoulders drop at his corner office. He closed his eyes and sat down, trying not to think about his most recent brush with Schneizel.
A postal worker stood nervously in front of his desk, holding a yellow parcel.
"This is he."'
"Could you just sign here?" The man handed over a small digital device. Lelouch penned his name and looked up. "Okay, that's great. Have a nice day!"
Lelouch set aside the yellow parcel after he finished the morning's work, but suddenly it began to vibrate. He looked up, startled. A cellphone ringtone began playing. Quickly Lelouch tore open the package and fished out the cellphone.
"Hello, Lelouch. Do you know who this is?" a rough, deep voice replied. Lelouch's heart began to race. He'd recognize that voice anywhere.
"Ohgi..." he breathed, shocked.
"Yes..." There were some noises at the other end before he continued in a quick, quiet string of words. "I've been looking for you, Lelouch. To be honest, I don't know if you're ready to see what I want to show you, but unfortunately you and I have run out of time."
"Run out - " he began, but was interrupted.
"They're coming for you, Lelouch, and I don't know what they're going to do."
Lelouch pressed the phone harder to his ear. "Who's coming for me?"
"Stand up and see for yourself." An ominous shiver ran down his spine.
"Yes, right now. Do it slowly. The elevator..." But Lelouch had already stood up to look over the partition.
A short, almost child-like man stared straight back at Lelouch. His eyes were wide, purple and glossy, and his platinum blonde hair sticked to his scalp. He grinned chillingly, as a woman beside him pointed to Lelouch's desk. A group of armed policemen stood behind the two.
"What..." he nearly dropped the phone.
"I suggest you get out of there," Ohgi said. His voice pulled Lelouch back to reality. He glanced around, noticing the single empty cubicle beside him. Without hesitation he lunged across the hall and dived into the cubicle, hiding in the dark corner.
"Your calm is impressive. Now stay here for just a moment. When I tell you, go to the end of the row..."
"...to the office at the end of the hall," he completed.
"Very good..." A moment passed, and then he heard his voice, frantic: "Go, now!"
Lelouch ran to the door, grabbing the doorknob and closing it behind him.
"No," Lelouch said.
"Yes. Outside there is a scaffold."
"No," Lelouch repeated. "I know what you're thinking. The window to my left, open it and use the scaffold to get to the roof."
"Yes," Ohgi insisted. "You've trusted me up to now, why stop?"
Lelouch's mouth was dry. Technically, he knew, he should be able to climb it, but suddenly he didn't place much stock in his trembling legs or clumsy hands.
"There are two ways out of this building. One is that scaffold, the other is custody. Choose the former."
He'd never been good at any sort of physical exercise, Lelouch thought regretfully as he climbed out the window ledge. Too much time spent on computers, not enough working out. His right hand clutched the frame weakly as he took a tentative step. Suddenly, a strong gust of wind blew, whistling in his ears and nearly knocking Lelouch over. An intense moment of vertigo came and passed as he watched hundreds of tiny cars below him. Hundreds of miles away. Gasping, Lelouch gritted his teeth and forced himself upright. The cell phone slipped out of his left hand and vanished.
He stared. While he was looking down, two strong hands gripped his wrists tightly and pulled him down. "Ah - Urk - Let me go!" Lelouch struggled to no avail and whirled his head around to face a dark-skinned man in a police uniform. Large cuffs were placed and snapped around his wrists. He shivered at the sudden cold, and tried once more to break free.
"What am I being arrested for? I have my rights as a citizen! Tell me now! I'll be calling my lawyer as soon as this is over!" he yelled as the cop took him down the elevator and out of the lobby. People whispered and pointed at him. A child clung closer to his mother. Lelouch was stuffed into a police car and as the door shut, a blindfold was wrapped around his eyes and duct tape around his mouth.
Statdfield discreetly watched Lelouch from the rearview mirror of her motorbike as the car sped away. "Shit," she muttered into her mouthpiece, then revved up the engine to follow them.