I fully understand how ridiculous this piece will sound, but I couldn't get over the fact that R2 had a *whole* lot more costumes than R1... And while I'm no giant fan of Diethard Ried, it would seem logical that if Zero-sama required a whole lot of new uniforms made, he'd know where to get them... I apologise in advance how OOC everyone would be, but the main idea is, really, how to get a million Zero suits for the Second Establishment of the Special Administrative Zone of Japan _. Oh, and I role-played the character of 'disgruntled seamstress' and 'overworked caterer' as I watched R2 develop, ahaha!
And for the record, no, I do *not* own Code Geass; if I did, Annaliese would've made her appearance already, and she'd be a lot more interesting than Ms. Alicia Lohmeyer, blah-legal-advisor with bad hair...
Of threads & treason
(aka :: what happens when Zero asks for new uniforms)
"Annaliese, I love you…!" an overly large image *exploded* onto her screen as an extremely enthusiastic voice intruded upon the quietness of her workroom; she toppled from her chair and winced as, consequent of her fall, half her workspace followed suit – scissors clattering as sewing needles scattered gleefully all over the floor, bouncing this way and that and swirling round and round and round about their heads…
She glared at the image, blaming the other for her present predicament (and asking herself, *why* oh WHY, did she not invest in magnetic needles, for goodness sake…!)(it was all their mother's fault, really… something about tradition and heritage and the magnificence of using BONE needles), "*What* do you want, Diethard…?"
"A favour…" the beaming idiot replied, sweet and saccharine; he was practically bouncing in his seat, excited about what he would discuss next, "Remember our bet, Annaliese? On who would end up working for the most influential people of the world?"
She huffed and tossed her hair haughtily over her shoulder, "Has riding in a windowless media van finally deoxygenated your brain, dear brother? Be reminded that *I* designed the Imperial Robes of Britannia, from Crown Prince Odysseus to Princess—YOU DIDN"T DARE…!"
Her brother, six years older and the bane of her existence, apparently *did* dare, taunting her over the communication network with photographs of his latest escapade – gallivanting with the infamous Black Knights.
"Yesterday's news, Sis 'aliese – you design-ED…" he incited, the past tense drawn upon with superfluous emphasis. "Me? I'm currently employed by the world's greatest celebrity—"
"Master Zero is *not* a celebrity…!"
"Meh, and Prince ODYSSEUS is…?"
"Britannia vs. cannon fodder, dork…"
"No, Britannia vs. THE REBELLION, missy…!"
"… are you calling from the Chinese Federation just to waste my time arguing, Diethard…?"
"No, Sis 'aliese…" the man parroted straight from their shared childhood, clearing his throat and straightening his jacket. He grinned smugly, "As I said, I need a favour…"
Despite their differences, she did love her brother – even if she found odd ways of showing it (when he'd called to tell their mother he was switching his major from Law to Mass Communications, she'd smoke-bombed his rooms until he switched back to Law again – else leave their mother heartbroken)(of course, when he'd called six months later to say he was working for Hi-TV straight out of university, she'd broken into his apartment to make him swear he'd make it 'big' – blacked eye and bruised shin included).
She also knew that her brother wouldn't have called unless he really, really needed her (like the time he took it into his head to produce a mini-series on the history of Britannia – and *she* ended up sewing ALL the costumes for the production)(truth be told, she was grateful – for Prince Clovis himself ordained a full set of uniforms be made for the entire Imperial Family).
Nevertheless, she wondered what sort of favour he would garner *this* time, seeing as she was only a designer-patternmaker with a penchant for extravagant embroidery – and he was clearly in some high-stakes political gambit… Unless—
"Please don't tell me you're doing another historically-accurate-documentary again…!" she moaned, hiding her portfolio lest he catch onto any ideas; he shook his head, "Nono… at least, not yet…"
*That* did not necessarily make her feel better…
"Do you still have that industrial-style contraption in your backroom? You know the one – four tonnes of steel and eight miles of wiring and the like—" he had the grace to quiet himself at her fresh glower, for the so-called contraption was her favourite – who cared that it was practically an antique? It did good work and that was all she ever wanted out of a metallic hunk-a-junk. He sent over several draft specifications, "I need you to tailor military uniforms…"
Spectacles perched and business-face made ready, she stared down at the smaller screens of her personal computers, glancing through the covert files. The names and faces of each were erased, of course, but she cared little for them, understanding the price of confidentiality; all she really needed were measurements – of height and weight and shoulder-to-chest vs. waist-to-hip ratios…
"Fine," she groused, pulling her chair to her table, ready to start converting his diagrams into pattern-designs for her pet machine; she began tallying the number of units he required, not liking how they added up past the three-digit mark. When her brother claimed a bet – he *claimed* the lot…! She sighed, "And when do you need them ready?"
"Let's say… oneweekfromnextTuesday?"
She counted backwards on her calendar. Beat.
"That only gives me 11 days…!"
The other pressed a kiss to the corner of the screen, "I know—thanks—good-luck, Annaliese—I love you!"
In her brother's defense, he was at least considerate enough to send her bales upon bales of military-approved material, sufficient to outfit a small army (something inside her finally clicked – oh stars, her brother was actually *with* the REBELLION…!). Attached to the first shipment box was a note,
These are of Lady Rakshata's patent. They're water-proof, fire-proof, semi-bullet-proof, but most importantly, Annaliese-proof (evil laugh). Use it wisely…!
She trembled with ill-contained rage at his wisecrack; yes, she could be clumsy with her coffee and tea (and vino and wine), but to coin it Annaliese-proof…?
"I could hate you…!"
Remember I love you…!
"Annaliese, I love yo—"
She smacked him upside with her stainless steel document holder, not caring for the armed guards—or should they be called Knights? This was *her* idiotic brother, after all – the one who forced her to hermit herself in the confines of her workroom for 9 days without sunshine, surviving on stale saltine crackers and triple-black coffee (she'd resorted to downing sugar by the tablespoon before the end of it, too). If he had called her to be brought here, he must've at least explained to his superiors where her loyalties lie – thus the guards / Knights shouldn't have to worry about her turning terrorist on *them*.
They snickered. Ah, so sibling rivalry was also a common trend amongst the rebels…
"I've bloodied sixteen fingers over you," she hissed as they pushed forward again, down endless hallways and into—what, she hadn't the slightest clue, for she'd been blindfolded and *carried* into her transport and frisked upon arrival (she'd refused to apologize to the faceless guards / Knights, brandishing aforementioned document holder like a sword, citing indignities)(they'd teased that if she wasn't so good with handling threads, would the higher ups train her to be a ninja?). She grumbled as he caressed said bandaged fingers contritely, "The next time you want to thank me, skip the drama of kidnapping me and just send chocolates, okay?"
"Be that as it may, Sis 'aliese, *I* wasn't the one who sent for you," heaven blessed her brother with such a winsome—yet somewhat arrogant—smile; if she hadn't been surrounded by a circling of guards / Knights (wearing *her* uniforms, by the way), she'd hug him then and there. She blinked back her glassy eyes when she acknowledged he was still talking to her, "Master Zero wants to see you."
She froze in her tracks (the guard bringing up the rear bumped into her, immediately delivering a torrent of apologies)(she wondered if he'd been the one who frisked her before; a sharp look to his bruised temple, and she was convinced she was right).
"*THE* Master Zero?"
"Greetings, Lady Annaliese," said Master welcomed her into his… office / study / war room? She staggered warily past its threshold, noting with small relief that her brother stood beside her, but her escorts promptly left to their own devices. Her first observation was that she needed to make adjustments to the lime-haired girl's uniform (she never intended to make the slits so high)(unless she *liked* it that high)(oh…? Oh…! Ah—hmm…); her second observation was—
"Aemilius Raine," she exclaimed.
"I beg your pardon?" the smooth lilt of the masked man inquired, head tilted very slightly.
She pointed to the parts she could see under the regal (and utterly ridiculous) cloak he wore, "The man who kitted you your attire was Aemilius Raine."
The leader of the rebellion threw his cape aside (in an alternate dimension, Edna Mode sneezed and instinctively cursed) with a flourishing hand, revealing a sleeve and a whole right side, "You are acquainted with the man's work?"
She raised an eyebrow blandly, "I should be – I was his apprentice for eight years…" Quieter, more to herself than to him, she frowned, "Though he didn't have to retire me – just because *he* was retiring, the wretched nerve…!"
If she could see beyond his mask, she would have seen him smirking – Diethard's sister was as passionate about her work as the brother was, just in different aspects…
"Sit," he gestured, seating himself into a high-backed chair – crossing his long, long legs, steepling his long, long fingers (her eyes made approximate measurements – gaddeth, this man was lanky; did he ever eat? His waist to hip ratio bordered emaciation…!). His right-hand woman draped herself casually over the arm of his chair, "We thank you for your excellent work. A true miracle-worker – befitting, as we need miracle-workers in our line…"
Her hard façade of quick tempers and frightful tantrums faded, seemingly disassembled in the presence of this grand authority; the taller one beside her, however, was grinning like the fool who swallowed the cat who swallowed the canary – his pride for her was appreciated… his over-inflated ego tied to it was not…
"Just… doing what I do best…" she faltered, gripping the cylinder in her hands.
"And we will need your best now," the rich accent of his voice must've addled her brain somewhat, for she felt strangely giddy-happy at his praise.
Of course, she did not know the true reason behind his honeyed admiration, "I want you to reproduce the Zero suit…"
She nodded obligingly; her thoughts, of course, were to study the finer details of Aemilius Raine's work – streamlined silhouette, flamboyant cuts, distinctively unattainable pattern-work…
"Alright – how many?"
"A millio—" she repeated and squawked when the implication sunk in, "A *what*?"
"Diethard assured me of your dedication…"
"B-but… One *MILLION*?"
"We will provide any manner of assistance, of course…" he rose to stand before her, extending a hand as if in invitation, "Ah, and I will require it by the end of the month…"
Her eyes flew open as clashing thought-bubbles tumbled through her overtaxed brain: One million—How many zeroes?—no, *Zero* suits—Mass, mass production—Aemilius' work—End of the month—Eighteen days?—I…
She pitched sideways and sagged onto her brother's shoulder, whimpering as she slipped away from all consciousness. Diethard glanced sheepishly at his Master, "Sorry, it'll take a while for her to come to terms—"
Zero, despite his imposing aura, could still be human; he patted the girl's head – the whimpering stopped. Diethard was impressed—no one could ever quiet his sister, not even he.
"See to her needs, but remind her of its importance – tell her she is the keystone to my success in this era of revolution…"
So many pretty words…
"Yes, Master Zero."
And as the doors slid shut with a hiss, the elder leaned down to kiss the younger's cheek, "Annaliese, I love you…"
By the 17th day, upon her 999,962nd uniform, she hit the impossible wall – she had run out of cloth…
"Dieter, what am I going to do?" she wailed into the communication screen, assured of his extreme measures of utmost security (Zero might have her head if the neighbours suspected her of aiding a known terrorist)(she was running out of space to hide the ostentatious outfits, piles upon piles of them packaged into her closet, under her sink, and yes – even her emergency generator room…!).
"… tear down the curtains?" he suggested carelessly.
"Diethard, I'm serious…!" she shrilled, stabbing her sandwich with a pair of pinking shears (elsewhere on the table, a bottle of orange juice finally suicided itself over the edge of the table, having been staring at the floor for over three days). She slumped into her chair, clearly distressed – for she had hardly eaten over the last ten days (saltine crackers didn't deliver themselves)(neither did coffee or sugar, it seemed, despite her reminding her fridge to do so), had slept even less (she hadn't touched sunshine, let alone any moonshine). First, her needles happily frolicked and presumably drowned themselves amongst the sea of embroidered cloth… then, her sewing machine – nicknamed Poppy v2.365½ – suffered a massive mechanical attack, forcing her to switch to its more modern descendent – Snips, the thread eater… Now *this*!
"… want me to bring bon-bons?"
Not looking up, she nodded miserably, "E.U. Belgian-made, please – the ones with cherry liquor in them?"
"Only the best for my little sis…"
True to his word, within the hour, he was there with a half-dozen stack of boxed chocolates (she blinked and stared up at him and numbly asked if he wanted to persuade or poison her). She didn't ask where he'd gotten the chocolates from; and frankly, after her eighth, she really didn't care… Her worries dulled by alcohol, she sobbed into his arm at the prospect of failing Herr Null, half-slurring in native German and mixed Britannian and broken Elevenese / Japanese…
When she woke up, she was properly tucked into her bed, her hair plaited into loose braids – no doubt by her brother (she felt like she was six, at home with their mother, waiting for winter to break). Aforementioned brother had slept in the hard-backed chair beside her bed (usually reserved for her pet pin-cushion, recently promoted to Bone Needle Guardian, lest she lose them all again)… She touched his knee; he stirred…
"Did you sleep, Sis 'aliese?"
"Good," he stretched and winced; his back creaked and groaned. He checked his watch and massaged his neck, "Master Zero has a surprise for you…"
She threw him a forlorn look, "… he'd accept the order with 38 uniforms short…?"
He shook his head with a grin, "Even better – look…"
Beside his chair was a fresh set of familiar colours – all six bolts of them (with twice the blue for the suits). She gasped and hurried towards them like a litter of kittens, pulling and purring against the silken surface, "But how…?"
"Do not doubt the power of a god," he murmured, poking her forehead. "Or your brother, for that matter – I've also negotiated an extra twelve hours added to your dateline…"
So what? She was feeling like she was six, after all—she pounced upon him and held him tight, "You're the best, Dieter…"
He sighed, "What can I say? Annaliese, I love you…"
She watched the live telecast with the world: as one million Elevens / Japanese donned her masterpieces and boarded the ice-berg floating island and sailed away, away, away…
And as the news flew into an uproar about how the Knight of Seven, Suzaku Kururugi, had allowed the rebels to escape without a single protest, all she could think about was how *fortunate* it was that no guns were fired—
"No holes, costumes whole – all safe and sound, my precious babies…"
—only in her dreams, lasting a week-and-a-half, would she remember her brother saying goodbye to her as he left with the last container of clothes…
Stay safe, Diethard…
Remember I love you…
 Annaliese :: This is, in part, a dedication to someone whose name sounds familiar; initially, I had her named Emmaline / Sis E'line, because it meant 'workaholic'...
 Historically-accurate documentary :: I'm assuming Diethard is *still* recording all of Zero's movements for his 'upcoming' series - coming soon on the History Channel (mad cackle)
 ... bloodied sixteen fingers... :: I did this, too...! First time I used a sewing machine to stitch my own handbag and ended up with bandages on both hands, with an average of two per digit _
 Aemilius :: Wordplay again...! The technical definition for this word is 'rival'... I wanted to have Annaliese rival Aemilius in a sewing challenge, but my brain refused to cooperate and produced this instead... So I made Aemilius her mentor, or something...
 Dieter :: ... is supposed to be pronounced 'Dee-ter', not 'Diet-er' (he isn't fat, he doesn't need to diet _); I looked up his name, too... it means 'strong man of the army', hmm - what weight does that hold for Lelouch & the Black Knights? o.O
 ... the power of a god... :: An off-quote by Lelouch, where he states that Diethard's mission is to make Zero the symbol of a god, hence would be easy to predict / control (as explained to Kallen, R2 ep9). I like the fail-safe-ness it provides in the fiction world - when in doubt, Zero will deliver, because nothing is impossible for Zero (mad laughter)
Originally, I had written Annaliese as Diethard's elder sister, but then, he wouldn't be able to get away with babying her. I also had several ideas penned but thrown out, such as :: (i) Annaliese battling Rakshata because Rakshata took her sewing machine apart, (ii) Zero giving Annaliese a small crew (including Tamaki) to help her, but fails to realize they (read: TAMAKI) can't sew a stitch, to which she abuses them by forcing them to press and iron every Zero suit TWICE, (iii) as revenge and brother-sister-rivalry, Diethard smokebombs Annaliese's workroom, making the uniform-colours run (hence explaining why the Zero suits aren't identical in colour; a little monochromatic blue, purple, gold-brown or green)(see R2 ep8 when the million Zeroes turn up). Oh well, I liked this better, in some ways... And really, I just fancied something sweet...
The running gag / punchline / theme through this is "Annaliese, I love you". It became more and more endearing as I got to the end... In the end, I ended up liking the Annaliese-Diethard interaction, even if they're not...! It gave Diethard a chance to be more-than-his-usual smirk-y, having to drag a disgruntled-seamstress-sister into the mix...
(apologies for die-hard Diethard fans)(ooh, double wordplay...!)
... wondering if I should write another, this time on designing SuzaLulu's emperor and knight attires... Annaliese may hate embroidery after ("Eyes? Why did it have to be EYES for goodness sake?")