Author's Note: Sooo… This is the first fanfic I'm publishing (woot!). I actually have a few others in development, but this is the first one that I've been able to figure out the storyline and still be interested enough to write it out. I wanted to have a storyline ready so that I can avoid having to cancel the fanfic, but normally I can't find the motivation to write a story when I've already imagined the ending.

Anyways, this is my first fanfic, so please don't flame o.0. Though, critique is always appreciated.

It's a 'What if Lelouch was a prince?' Fanfic, so I suppose it's a bit of an ambitious first story. If you don't like those kinds of fanfics, give me a chance to change your mind.

I added some OC's, and might have added a bit of accidental OCCness, but hopefully that'll clear up as time passes.

Note: I hate self-insertions, or when the OC's are named after real-life friends or something based on personal fancies. I did my best to make my OC's more reasonable, tell me how I did!

Note*2: It always annoyed me how the 'What if Lelouch was a prince?" fanfics started really slow. To me, it seemed a tad unnecessary. Therefore, I tried to shorten my pre-canon chapters. Sorry if it seems a bit rushed, but I really wanted to make it no longer than felt necessary.

Note*3: Sorry for all the notes, but this is my first chap for my first fanfic… Just thought you all would want to know that Lelouch has never been to Japan before this chap (or the next 2 chaps) lol.

" " for dialogue

Italics for thought (or stress when just a word or two)

1st Mask: The Prince of Masks Rises

Emperor's Palace
2010 a.t.b.

Lelouch vi Britannia was alone, walking towards his room. Maybe the people who killed mother will kill me now… he thought with a grim smile. The guards would probably panic if they found out he had been out so late, but he had stayed by Nunnally's side for longer than he had intended. The doctor had said she would come to soon, and he wanted to be there to comfort her when she did.

Suddenly, the young prince started hearing quiet voices. He looked, and saw that the door to his father's throne was open. Peering in, he saw his father and what looked to be a young blond boy. He pressed his ear by the opening to listen.

"Was it really necessary?" It was his father, Charles zi Britannia, 98th Emperor of Britannia.

"You know it was. You were getting too attached to her." This must have been the boy.

"Still, Marianne had the same goal as us." Lelouch tensed at the mention of his mother.

"Marianne was and is not necessary for the completion of the plan." Lelouch's blood practically froze. Does this mean…

"So that made it all right to kill her?"

"Charles, Charles, you can't get emotionally attached to anyone. It will cloud your judgment." Surprisingly, the boy sounded like he was older than the emperor. He sounded awfully like a scolding older brother.

Very little kept Lelouch from charging in and attacking the boy. He looked about Lelouch's age, and he obviously had had a hand in killing Lelouch's mother. The only thing that did was his father's next words. "And if Lelouch finds out? He's sure to demand at least an investigation."

"Nothing can get in the way of the plan. If your boy finds out, we'll kill him. If he tries to find answers, send his sister somewhere dangerous. He'll waste the rest of his life trying to help her." Lelouch felt his heart skip a beat. The boy was right, of course. He'd do anything to keep his sister out of harm's way. But his father would never agree, would he? Even if he's working with this boy, the Emperor was still his father…

A slight, tense pause. "…Fine. You're right; nothing can get in the way of the plan."

After hearing that, Lelouch never mentioned his mother's death aloud. Most considered it his way of coping with death. For him, it was a way of surviving. For both him and his sister.

2017 a.t.b.

"B-1, 700 meters east. R-Team, fire at his pursuers 3 seconds after my mark. B-2, the enemy commander should be rallying the remaining forces at point F-32. I need visual confirmation. Mark!"

After three seconds, he heard a barrage of gunfire. Then, "Your Highness, this is B-2, I've confirmed the enemy to be gathering at F-32."

"Good. P-Team, move to E-32. The enemy forces will attempt to attack. At that point, N-Team must fire from their positions in the surrounding buildings. B-Team will regroup at G-32 and attack any who escape the ambush."

After a chorus of 'Yes, Your Highness!", Lelouch soon hears a voice from his machine's radio. "Your Highness. P-1 here, we're in position. We see the enemy coming, should we engage?"

"Yes, but draw them to you by pretending to retreat."

"Yes, Your Highness."

"Your Highness, this is N-1. I think I see the enemy commander's knightmare. He's in the middle of the enemy forces, should I engage?"

Lelouch smiled as he grabbed his knightmare's controls. "Negative, I'll engage him."

"Your Highness!" All the soldiers protested in unison.

"If a king does not lead, how can he expect his men to follow?"

"Still…" Lelouch recognized the voice as N-1.

"Don't worry. I have all of you covering me, after all." Lelouch licked his lips as he approached the enemy forces from the southeast. He smiled as he noticed that the enemy forces had consolidated themselves into four blocks, with the commander directly in the center. Each block faced Lelouch's forces, which were stationed in the north, east, west, and south. In other words, a diagonal, sudden charge from any location the blocks didn't face would be able to run straight into the center.

Lelouch drove his Sutherland right between the south and east blocks. He threw chaos grenades inside both as he passed, causing great destruction and confusion. Before they knew what had happened, Lelouch had brought his submachine gun up to the commander's cockpit, and pulled the trigger.

In the ensuing confusion, Lelouch threw two more chaos grenades before fleeing the area, leaving the clean-up to his men. In a few moments, his cockpit went dark, and Lelouch smiled. Another simulation completed on his first try. The lab guys would have to work overtime for the next week creating new, hopefully harder, ones.

"You summoned me, Your Majesty?" asked Prince Lelouch as he kneeled before his father. No, he reminded himself, this monster stopped being my father since that day.

"Indeed, Lelouch." The Emperor looked down at his son from his throne. "I have decided. For 17 years, I've cared for you and your little sister, Nunnally. Nunnally is a weak cripple, no longer even fit to be a daughter of mine." Lelouch tensed, silently restraining his rage.

"However, I've kept her. And I kept her for only one reason. And that is so that you have a reason to prove yourself useful to me. I hope you are intelligent enough to understand what this implies." The Emperor smiled.

Lelouch, careful to keep his head bowed as to avoid betraying any emotion, replied, "Of course, Your Majesty."

"Good. I've decided that you will be sent to join Cornelia in the conquest of the Middle Eastern Federation. Consider it your debut into the real world."

Finally, some action. Lelouch made an effort to restrain the enthusiasm in his voice, "Yes, Your Majesty."

"You seem quite eager to go." mused the Emperor, "Planning to build an army against me, no doubt." Lelouch froze. Does he suspect that I know…? Then he berated himself, No, there's no way he could have. Every son of his is scheming to take the throne.

"You've already had the education of a military officer. Therefore, you'll be immediately sent to aid Cornelia in what will be Area 18. You are dismissed." Lelouch was startled from his musings. Rising smoothly, he all but runs out of the throne room.

As he walks out, he's soon tackled by a pink flurry of hair. "Lulu, you're in one piece?"

Lelouch spun with the tackle and stopped his sister, grabbing her arms. He smiled, despite his annoyance at the nickname, "Yeah, though I got a bit of bad news for Nunnally."

"What is it?" asked Euphemia li Britannia

"I'm being sent to the military. I'll be joining your sister in the Middle East."

"Cornelia? Nunnally will be sad…"

Lelouch gulped. "Yeah, I'm going to tell her now. Promise me that you'll keep her company."

"Of course, Lulu."

The Middle East
Two Days Later
1000 hours

Lelouch stepped into the G-1 Mobile Command Center's tactical planning room. Just one hour ago, he'd landed in the area in his personal jet, from where he was escorted to his half-sister's military base. Immediately upon entering the room, he heard a familiar voice. "Lelouch, it's so good to see you."

He felt himself smothered in an embrace, which he momentarily returned. Then the speaker stepped back. With slight satisfaction, he noticed that his half-sister was only a few inches taller than him. Maybe even the same height, he noted as he glanced down at her boots. Outwardly, he purred, "Cornelia, it's been so long. Euphie and Nunnally say hello."

Cornelia's face softened slightly at the mention of her sister. Then she looked her half-brother's thin frame. "Have they starved you at the Homeland? That's one of the things we'll need to fix if you're to be my aide here."

Lelouch smiled gently, "Perhaps, but tell me the situation here first."

"Eager for your first fight? I suppose I could use your help." Cornelia returned his smile as she brought him to the front of the room. Looking through the glass, he saw sand, sand, and more sand. In the distance, he saw the enemy base.

More like a fortress. At the top of a small, but steep, hill stood the base. Shielded on all sides by a weathered, yet stable-looking, wall, figures stood outside, on, and, most likely, within the walls. He gestured for an officer to give him binoculars. Looking through them, he saw that the figures were Bamides, hybrids between tanks and knightmare frames. Not very maneuverable, yet perfect for defense, the fourth generation knightmares were experts at long range combat. Lelouch whistled.

Cornelia smiled. "Indeed. This fort is one of the largest enemy strongholds remaining. It houses tens of thousands of refugees, and holds a large enough army to protect them. They've kept us busy for about a month now."

Lelouch turned and faced the people in the room. By Cornelia's side, he noticed Gilbert G.P. Guilford, her knight, and Andreas Darlton, one of her most trusted officers. Throughout the room stood other officers, no doubt managing the large force at Cornelia's disposal. "Can anyone give me intel on their command structure?" He doesn't mention that he's already learned everything there is to about the enemy. Without attracting attention, he glances at one female officer in particular.

Cornelia apparently doesn't notice. "Trying to strike at the leader, Lelouch? We've tried that. Any knightmares that approach that monster get destroyed by their Bamides units. And even when we get close, we can't provoke the leader into coming out."

Lelouch continued looking around the room. "I just think I ought to know as much as I can about the enemy."

The female officer spoke up. "According to our sources, the commander of the fort is named Hamza Alam. He's been stationed at this fort ever since the invasion began. He's had time to train his pilots as well as gain their respect. He forms the entire foundation of their command structure."

Guilford spoke up. "However, that information was mainly gained through Numbers who used to live in the city. We don't know if we can trust them."

Lelouch noticed the black-haired officer bristle slightly, but she remained silent. "What's your name, officer?"

The officer was startled. "Hazel Gilmore, Your Highness."

Lelouch raised his brows. The name was Britannian enough, but she definitely had an Oriental heritage. "Gilmore, really? It may be my imagination, but you don't look like a Britannian." The officer shrank slightly, nodding.

Darlton apparently felt it necessary to apologize, "Normally, non-Britannians aren't allowed to work at the G-1, for security purposes. However, Hazel's adopted family, the Gilmores, is extremely loyal to the Crown, so it was decided that their daughter wouldn't pose much of a risk."

In other words, they pulled some strings. Lelouch thought. He disapproved of the corrupt nature of nobility, but he knew he would have to stand it. For now. Besides, that wasn't what had interested him about the officer. "Anyways. Cornelia, I'd like you to give me a day."

"Of course. I knew you would want a day to get used to the time zone and climate. If I'm correct, you're body thinks it's nighttime. I'll have you help starting tomorrow morning, 24 hours from now."

Lelouch smirked. "I didn't mean that. I meant a day to take over that fort."

The entire room went quiet. Everyone looked in disbelief as Lelouch, acting oblivious to the silence, stared out the mobile base's windows. Cornelia was the first to speak. "A-Are you crazy, Lelouch? It's been a month since we've tried to take that fort, and you're claiming you can do it in a day?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying." Lelouch smiled openly. "No offense meant, of course. It's simply that I think my way of fighting is more suited for a battle like this."

"You're way of fighting? You have no experience fighting. War is not like the textbooks you've been reading, you know." scoffed Cornelia.

Lelouch continued to stare out the window. "I know. And what I'm planning is not by the textbook at all."

"Then what the hell are you planning, Lelouch! I'm not going to lose my men because you felt overconfident your first day in the field."

"Relax. Even if I fail, you won't lose any men of importance. I'm simply asking you not to attack the fort in the next 24 hours. I'll just get what I need, and I'll be out of your hair."

Cornelia glared at her half-brother, who simply looked back calmly. Eventually she looked away. "Fine." she muttered, "What do you need?"

"For one thing, I'd like to borrow Hazel here." He tapped the officer on the shoulder, surprising her and the rest of the room once again. "And," he said as he turned back to look at Cornelia, "I'd like the 'Fodder List'."

1100 hours

What is with this prince? Hazel wondered as she walked through a sandy field, holding a laptop. First he wants me, a foreigner, to work with him. The young Korean woman bristled slightly as she remembered the prince's wording. 'Borrow', as if I'm a piece of property. He's no different from the Gilmores. She stands up straight as she walks up to a tent. She frowns and looks around, making sure she got the right location.

The tent was just that, a tent. With Lelouch vi Britannia's status as a prince, he should have been able to commandeer his own G-1, yet he chose to use a simpler officer's tent. Not even a Knight's tent, but a common foot soldier officer's tent. Well, that made sense, considering that he'd used the 'Fodder List' for recruits. This was almost as crazy as claiming to be able to take over a fort within 24 hours of joining the field. Gulping, she tugged on the tent's entrance, and announced, "Hazel Gilmore, here as requested."

"Come in."

She walked into the tent. She'd been expecting at least some furniture that befits a prince. Instead, she saw only a single table, displaying a digital map of the surrounding area. After a moment, she realized that she was staring, to the prince's amusement, and Hazel snapped to a salute. Lelouch returned it, and took the laptop from Hazel's hand, placing it on the table.

Then, to Hazel's surprise, the prince bowed to her. "First thing's first, Hazel. I need to apologize for my actions earlier."

"W-What do you mean, Your Highness?" stuttered Hazel.

"Please, call me Lelouch when those racist nobles aren't around." Lelouch smiled gently at the woman's surprise. "I'm not a racist, though I know I acted slightly like one in front of my sister." He opened the laptop and scrolled down a list of names. He explained, "As you probably know, what I've suggested is quite ridiculous-sounding. Therefore, I thought it was a bit necessary that I hide my true colors for a bit."

Hazel nodded numbly. Lelouch glanced away from the laptop, and smirked. "You're probably wondering why I'm telling you all this."

Again Hazel nodded numbly. Lelouch sighed. "Hazel Gilmore, birth name Hazel Park, adopted daughter of the Gilmores. Because of your foster parents, you are able to serve on Princess Cornelia's G-1, the only non-Britannian to do so. Despite being a foreigner, not a Number, you seem to identify yourselves with the Numbers, exceedingly so. Why is that?"

Hazel was silent. Lelouch sighed again. "I, Lelouch vi Britannia, hereby pardon you from any treasonous or offending statements you make at this time."

Hazel, slightly relieved, slowly said, "My parents were killed when the Chinese Federation took over Korea. They died securing me passage to Britannia. There, I was adopted by Gilmores. However, that was only because of Mr. Gilmore's kind father. He was like a real grandfather to me. However, the rest of the family treated me like their servant, along with the other Numbers that they employed. That was when I started to identify myself as a Number."

"Once Mr. Gilmore's father died, the rest of the family sought a way to dispose of me. As abandoning a daughter, even an adopted one, is looked down upon, they decided to send me away to the military. I've all but lost contact with them since."

Lelouch nodded his head sympathetically. "Your story makes sense. Nobility rarely care for people they can no longer profit from. That's part of the reason I don't like the idea of working alongside other Britannians."

Hazel was startled. I expected a spoiled prince, not a Numbers sympathizer. What kind of prince denounces nobility like that? "Why is that, Your Highness?"

Lelouch smiled. "I told you, call me Lelouch when no nobles are around."

On that note, what kind of prince let's a non-Britannian call him by his first name?

Lelouch sighed and continued, "Working with Britannians, more often than not, means working with nobility. From my experience as a prince, most nobles are racist and only look out for themselves. Bribery, treachery, blackmail, and the like are not below a noble, as long as it will bring them power. Non-Britannians, on the other hand, most often only resort to kidnapping or murder, both of which I can avoid by being careful enough." Lelouch didn't mention that his main reason for wanting to work with non-Britannians was because they were a lot less likely to report treason against the throne. He didn't trust this woman that much. Yet.

Hazel nodded. What he said made a lot of sense to Hazel, who had grown up alongside nobles and Numbers alike. One thing didn't make sense, though. "Why are you telling me all this, Your Hi- Lelouch?"

Lelouch smiled slightly. "I did it on a hunch I had." He turned away from the laptop so that he was directly facing Hazel. "Tell me, Hazel, what's your opinion on the enemy command structure. Your honest opinion."

Hazel gulped slightly before she spoke. "I think that Hamza has had a lot of time to train his army and gain their loyalty. However, they haven't seen much real combat before Cornelia came one month ago." She hesitated. "If you want my opinion, I think that Hamza most likely has the fort settled into a routine over their long time stationed there. However, the lack of real battle experience means that they lack contingency plans and end up relying on their commander whenever an emergency occurs."

"Interesting." Privately, Lelouch had already assumed the same things when he'd first heard of the enemy while on his private jet. Now to see if this woman had come to the same conclusion as him… "So, what would Hazel Park suggest, knowing this?"

Hazel blinked before continuing, "I-I think that Cornelia's direct charges are too predictable and can be repelled by the enemy's defenses." Then she realized what she was saying and bowed her head in apology. "I mean no offense to Her Highness."

Lelouch surprised her with a chuckle. "So far, everything you said matches what I've been thinking perfectly. I take no offense at your honesty, though Cornelia may have your head for that." He smiled slightly as the woman grew pale. "I joke, Ms. Park. Continue what you were saying. Opposed to a direct charge, what would you suggest?"

Hazel took a deep breath before continuing. "I'd suggest a covert operation. If we take out the leader, the base will be left without a solid command structure."

Lelouch smiled openly. "Exactly what I was thinking. Now, assuming we were to lead a covert operation, who would you choose to carry it out?"

Hazel, growing a bit more accustomed to speaking her mind, said, "Knights will most likely loathe a secret mission, which would require moving on foot. Regular Britannian infantry may not trust your command, considering that you're new to the battlefield. If I were to recruit soldiers, I would most likely choose…" Realization dawned upon her as she looked at the laptop.

Lelouch smiled as he tapped the laptop. "The 'Fodder List', a slang term for the database of all the non-Britannians among the foot soldiers. It got its name because, in this age of knightmare frames, most non-Britannians in the military are used as live bait for enemy forces. While they aren't allowed to pilot knightmares, they develop a number of skills in order to stay alive. Skills that may come in handy in a covert operation."

Lelouch turned again to face Hazel. "Hazel Park, up to this point, everything you've thought of has matched my ideas. Note that few others can say the same. Therefore, I'd like you to help me. In the future, I'll need officers who can think like me. Will you be one of them?"

"Yes… Lelouch."

Lelouch smiled and gestured to the laptop. "Then it's time to gather our comrades."

1200 hours

"Are you Minoru Takahashi?" The Japanese man turned to see himself facing a young Korean woman in an officer's uniform.

The silver-haired teenager stood up with a salute. "Yes, ma'am."

The silver-eyed woman returned the salute. Then she gestured to the table Minoru had been eating at. "If you're done eating, I'd like you to follow me."

Well, this gruel that the Brits give us isn't 100% edible. He thought silently. "Of course, ma'am." The woman turns around, black hair lifting slightly, and Minoru sees that three others are following her. He joins them.

"Hey, what do you think this is about?" asked a tall African man. Minoru simply looks at him, trying to see if he knew him. The brown-haired African seemed to notice. "Oh, sorry, man. Name's Emeka. Emeka Azubuike."

"Azubuike? Isn't that an Asian surname?" Minoru thought aloud.

He was surprised when the African chuckled. "I get asked that a lot. Actually, it's Igbo. In other words, 100% African, just like me."

"Well, I'm Minoru Takahashi from Jap-Area 11, nice to meet you."

Another companion, a Brazilian man with short orange hair, was next to introduce himself. "Rafael Domingues, I'm from Area 6."

The last of the people following the Korean was a Chinese woman with short black hair. She smiled as everyone looked at her. "Lei Li, the shortest name among us." Then she looked around and said, with a softer voice, "It's just my opinion, but I think they're disciplining us. I mean, why else would they call on us foot soldiers?"

Emeka shrugged. "That's what I was thinking, but what would they discipline us for?"

Rafael smirked. "Maybe someone messed with their food."

"Or they're assuming someone did." added Minoru.

Rafael snorted. "Most likely. Back in Area 6, we Sixes were blamed for everything. The worst part is that most of us Sixes have given up rebelling. That's part of why I joined the military, to get away from that stuff."

The others nodded in agreement. Among the non-Britannians, their Britannian superiors were known for placing blame on their underlings. "Shush, seems like we're here." warned Emeka as the group neared a yellow tent. The Korean tugged on the tent door.

"Come in." The voice sounded gentler than the gruff image the four foot soldiers had had of a disciplinary officer. The Korean woman gestured them inside. All five non-Britannians went in, and the Korean closed the door behind them.

Whatever Minoru had been expecting, this wasn't it. Only 17, Minoru had joined the military recently, and this was his first time being personally summoned. In front of him stood a large, rectangular table. Behind the table was a young Britannian, most likely the same age as Minoru. Behind the Britannian stood a number of crates, the contents of which he could only guess.

"Welcome, all of you." greeted the Britannian warmly. "My name is Lelouch Lamperouge. Do you mind introducing yourselves?"

All four soldiers stood at attention. Emeka, on the left, started. "Private Emeka Azubuike, 46th Infantry."

"Private Minoru Takahashi, 34th Infantry."

"Private Rafael Domingues, 27th Infantry."

"Private Lei Li, 15th Infantry."

Lelouch nodded. "My assistant officer stands behind you. Her name is Hazel Park." He leans over the table, palms on the metallic surface. "You all must be wondering why you're all here."

Here it comes. "Yes, sir." All four of them repeated in unison.

"Well, it's because…" Lelouch smiled. "You're about to get the chance of a lifetime."

Military discipline was all that kept the four figures from letting their jaws drop. Lei was the first to speak. "W-What do you mean, sir?"

Lelouch's smile widened. "I've been placed in charge of a covert operation against Hamza Alam. You all have been hand-picked by me to participate."

Whatever excitement Minoru had felt dropped like a stone. They're going to use us as gun fodder. "Where are the rest of the participants?"

Lelouch chuckled slightly. "They're all here."

All four of the assembled soldiers looked around, but they could only see Lelouch and his assistant, Hazel. "W-What do you mean, sir?" Minoru asked.

"First of all, you can stop calling me sir. We'll be operating as a unit separate from the rest, so rank can be forgotten for now." He looked each person in the eye as he spoke. "Emeka, Minoru, Rafael, Lei. You're invited to work with Hazel and myself in an operation against Hamza Alam. An operation that will define this battle. Do you accept?"

For a few moments, everyone is silent. Emeka, the first to get over his shock, said, "Yes, si…" at a stern glance from Lelouch, he awkwardly added, "Lelouch."

Lei is next. "Yes, Lelouch." Her response is followed by those of Rafael and Minoru.

"Thank you." Lelouch taps the table, and the digital screen shows a countdown. "Now, gather here at 2000 hours for your briefing. It'll be a nighttime operation, so get some rest."

1300 hours

Minoru was sitting on a wooden crate. Lelouch had left the tent, leaving the rest to wait until nightfall, when the operation would begin. He looked across the table to Emeka, who stood hands over the table's black monitor. "Hey Emeka, what do you think of the Brit?"

The man shrugged. "I dunno, man. But I think he may be the only non-racist Britannian I've seen. He's the first Brit to treat us like human beings."

Rafael agreed. "I wonder how the other officers would react if they found out he was letting us call him by his first name."

"And he's quite good looking." Everyone turned to the Chinese woman. "What?" she asked. That was when Minoru realized Lei was probably the same age as himself. Actually, looking around, everybody looked about the same age. Bet he didn't want people older than himself taking his orders. Minoru thought with a slight smirk.

"Dream on, Lei." retorted Rafael. "There's no way a Brit like him would marry anybody else. Did you get a good look at him? He's a pureblood, probably the son of some noble or another."

You guys have no idea. Hazel, who had been silent the whole time, chuckled. Now everybody turned to face her. "Hey, what's so funny?" asked Emeka.

Hazel hid a smile with her hands. "Sorry, I can't say a thing, under Lelouch's orders. He'll probably tell you after the operation's done." Calming down, she declared, "I can say, though, that he's one of the better people you could have as your superior."

Silently, everybody nodded in agreement.

2000 hours

"Glad that everybody's here," said Lelouch as he entered the tent. Immediately the five occupants stood in a salute. Lelouch chuckled and returned the salute. "On top of addressing me as Lelouch, my second order is for you all to stop giving me salutes." He walked around the table and tapped at the monitor, bringing it to life. It immediately displayed a satellite map of the area. "Now, it's about time for our briefing."

2015 hours

"…and that's the entire operation. Any questions?" asked Lelouch, looking around the room.

Minoru raised his hand. "Permission to speak freely, sir?"

"Only if you remember to stop calling me sir. Do that only in the presence of others."

"Lelouch, then, are you… mentally ill in anyway?"

Lelouch smirked and shook his head. "No. I assure you that I'm in perfect mental health. Why, may I ask?"

Minoru cleared his throat. "You're planning for us to take over an entire fort, an act which Princess Cornelia has attempted and failed multiple times in the past month, with all the Sutherlands and Gloucesters at her disposal. On top of that, you plan to do that in one night, with 4 foot soldiers, and with no casualties?"

Lelouch smiled. "Well, it would hardly do if my subordinates died."

"Then, why us? Why us regular foot soldiers? We're not even Britannians. How can you trust us to do as you say?"

Barely noticeable, Lelouch's grin widened slightly. These were the questions he'd been waiting for. "How can I trust you all? I can because it would benefit you all greatly to help me."

"What do you mean?" Emeka asked.

Lelouch turned and looked the speaker directly in the eye. "Emeka Azubuike. Fugitive from Africa, who fled to Britannia to escape armed radicals, who control the largely uncivilized area. You later got word that your family had died at their hands, and thus joined the Britannian military in hopes of being able to exact revenge. However, you feel more comfortable with a computer than being in the middle of gunfire. Therefore, you requested a transfer to the command vessel. However, most non-Britannians aren't allowed to work on or even be near their command vessels, especially considering that you're technically from the E.U. Therefore, you were stuck in the 46th Infantry."

"H-How do you know all this?" asked Emeka.

"I have enough clearance." explained Lelouch vaguely. "What's more important is that you still wish to join the command vessel, correct?" Silent, Emeka slowly nodded. "If you follow my directions, I'll get you transferred before the week ends." Emeka blinked, as if not sure that he'd heard correctly. How much clearance does this guy have? He wondered.

Lelouch turned to Minoru. "Minoru Takahashi. Your skill in hand-to-hand combat, as well as your ability to use a variety of guns effectively, has qualified you for at least two promotions. However, you have a record of being suspected to be a Japanese terrorist. Therefore, you're stuck as a Private in the 34th Infantry. If you follow me, I can get you those promotions.

Before the Japanese man could absorb everything he had said, Lelouch turned to the Brazilian man. "Rafael Domingues. Your father was a pyrotechnist, your mother an engineer. An interesting combination which allowed you to gain a great understanding of both explosives and machinery. You wished to study engineering in college, but your parents were killed last year. Although it doesn't say in the report, I'd assume it was a lynching by Britannians?" Rafael nodded slightly, stunned by the Britannian's frankness. It may have been his imagination, but Rafael thought he heard some sympathy in his superior's voice.

"Without a family or job, you were quickly drafted into the army, despite your hatred of Britannians. However, your experience with explosives and machinery made you less comfortable, in comparison, with a gun. Therefore, you asked for a transfer, either to the Demolition or the Engineering Corp. Like Emeka, you gained neither and were stuck in the 27th Infantry. Do as I say and you'll be able to choose which transfer to accept."

"Lei Li," He said as he, at last, turned to the Chinese woman. "Like Emeka, you are a fugitive from your home country. By the order of the Chinese Federation's High Eunuchs, your town was razed to the ground. You were the only survivor, and somehow you managed to escape to Britannia, where you promptly joined the military. You asked for a transfer to the covert operations. Apparently, you believed it to match you the most. And Britannian evaluations seemed to agree, showing that you have greater potential than most in the field. However, covert operations normally deal with confidential information, and the higher ups decided that they couldn't let a non-Britannian join. Trust me, and I'll persuade them otherwise."

Lelouch then looked at all four of them. They all seemed to be analyzing him, fearing that he was lying. After all, Lelouch knew that he'd truly offered them a chance in a lifetime. "Now, I hope you can also understand why I'd like to work with you regular foot soldiers. You all have amazing potential. The only things keeping you foot soldiers down are the chains of racism."

He gestures to the crates behind him. "Now, let's get ready for our operation."

2200 hours

Note to self, he thought as he sat against the wall, panting for air, Avoid personally leading a covert operation on foot. He looked back. It had taken them an hour and a half, but they'd managed to sneak past the stationed Bamides units and into the fort's walls. And, all of them still have plenty of energy left.

Or at least that's what it looked like. Lelouch couldn't tell what their expressions were, since they were all wearing gas masks, just like Lelouch himself. Although slightly annoying at times, the gas masks served two purposes. In case that they were discovered, their identities were still hidden under the masks. Additionally, it allowed the team to carry knockout gas. Hopefully they wouldn't have to use the later advantage often.

Quietly, the team, dressed in all black, made their way to a palace, which stood in the center of the fort. More like a city than a fort, Lelouch realized as they passed by restaurants and apartments. The prince felt slight guilt. These refugees had achieved a semblance of normality in this wartime. Who was he to take that away? Lelouch shook his head to clear his head. Those were useless thoughts.

Luckily it seemed that most of the defenses were centered around the walls. With a smile, he noted the placement of a machine-gun at the top of an apartment overlooking a barren field. That'll come in handy.

They slip into the palace with little trouble. Then they came to the top-left part of a T-shaped intersection. Lelouch, looking over a corner, spots two guards standing by a set of doors, which most likely led to Hamza. He gestures at Minoru. Minoru picks up a stone and throws it to the hallway on the other side of the intersection. It makes a light rattle.

Curious, the two guards move over to look down the hall, backs turned to Lelouch's group. Minoru silently runs up and hits them lightly on the back of the neck, rendering them unconscious. He grabs both guards and carefully lays them down in order to avoid making sound.

The group quietly moves to the pair of doors. With a series of gestures and nods, Emeka and Rafael move to opposite sides of the door and each grab one of the doors. Minoru holds his submachine gun in front of the doors. Lei and Hazel flank him, holding tranquilizer guns.

Lelouch nods and the doors open simultaneously. The precautions were proven unnecessary as they saw their target in bed. On a table next to him stood a microphone. Lelouch steps forward and pulls the man from bed. That may have proven to be a mistake, as Hamza was much larger than the teenager, and Lelouch's attempt to get the man on his feet ends with enemy commander landing headfirst onto the stone floor. Lelouch winces slightly as the man awakens.

"What the hell? W-Who the hell are you guys, assassins? Do you know who I am? I'm Hamza Alam. Just one word and my entire army will come in."

Lelouch released his gas mask to speak more freely. "I don't doubt that your army will. Too bad that you won't have a chance to say another word." He then fires a tranquilizer gun directly into the man's chest. The fast acting chemicals soon render the man unconscious.

"Was saying that really necessary, boss?" jeered Emeka. After seeing their leader have so much difficulty with what they considered a morning warm-up hike, the foot soldiers were readily becoming more comfortable with Lelouch.

Lelouch smiled. "Maybe it wasn't. Did you get the recording?"

In response, Emeka held up a palm-sized audio recorder. He shrugged off his backpack and pulled out a laptop, to which he connected the recorder. "Already on it, Lelouch."

"Good." He turned to the others. "Phase two begins now. Lei, Rafael, you know what you need to do. Hazel will be going with you. I've given her contingency plans in case any problem arises. Minoru, go to the field. I saw a machine gun on top of one of the apartment buildings. Set up there."

As his subordinates moved out, he followed them out to the hall, where he then set up cameras. Going back in the room, he opened his own laptop and started watching for any unwanted guests.

2230 hours

"Lelouch, I'm done." Lelouch turned away from his laptop monitor to see his African subordinate looking at him, taking off headphones.

"Good job. Now we wait for Lei and Minoru to report in. Let's hope your program works."

Everything had gone pretty much according to plan, Lei realized as she walked up a staircase, followed by Rafael and Hazel. They'd been busy placing decoy lights on the buildings surrounding the field that lay in front of the palace. As well as other things.

True to Lelouch's guess, the city was practically a ghost town at night. Only the occasional late-night guard populated the otherwise silent streets.

Originally, Lei had been skeptical about Lelouch's plan, but it seemed like they just might pull it off.

Lei came to a doorframe at the top of the staircase. The door was unlocked, and it led to the open roof of the apartment. Across from the door was Minoru, pointing his submachine gun at them. Upon seeing who it was, he put his gun away and gestured them over. Picking up a radio, he said, "Lelouch, Emeka, This is Minoru. Lei and the rest are with me. Everything's good to go."

"This is Lelouch. Good job. We're proceeding to phase three."

"Roger that."

Presently, he heard speakers crackle to life. It sounded like the man Lelouch had tranquilized. "Attention all forces, this is your leader, Hamza Alam. A series of explosives have been found around the city and the walls. Therefore, all forces are to evacuate to the field outside of the palace. As of now, that is the only inspected safe zone in the area. I repeat, all forces are to temporarily evacuate to the field. All forces except knightmare pilots are to report at the field within the next 30 minutes. Otherwise, you will be suspected of being involved with the explosives."

Minoru whistled. It sounded exactly like Hamza. "Damn, that Emeka's good."

Author's Note: So that's my first chap of my first fanfic. How was it?

Please review!