Hello everyone! And thankies to all those nice people that wrote a review for the last chapter. Hehe, well I got an action/ plot thing for you all today, so not too much joking around. Sorry, and I hope you enjoy anyway!
Special thanks to Magery for beta-ing.
He's also started a rather nice Code Geass story by the name of Breath of Life. So go check it out. Shoo. Oh wait. Read mine first :p
"Calm down, Kallen."
C.C. had managed to drag the ace pilot out of the water, despite her rather larger statue. Despite her struggles to get out of the water at completely the wrong place: the place that would have had them surrounded by enemies; enemies now dealing with her fallen warlock. Thank god for steep river edges, and thank god for loud diversions by a certain demon prince.
Sadly, the near-freezing water had done little to calm the woman's hysterics; Kallen was clawing and fighting off C.C. every step back to the racer. If the red ace had been thinking straight, C.C. probably would have had to resort to touching her mind to win this fight. As it was, Kallen's mad struggles slowed them down only slightly.
C.C. had just about managed to string the girl back into her pilot seat when one last, single shot rang through the air, bouncing off and echoing in the confided spaces under the bridge.
"He's dead.", and C.C. knew she was right; technically. Awkwardly, C.C. patted the Red Lotus on her spiky hairs. It was worrying: to see this woman gasp for breath: hyperventilating.
The witch tried again:"We went through this, Kallen. He is not dead. We just need to recover his corpse. I say we wait till morning."
Some of the girl's strength seemed to return to her. But not her saity: "No. this isn't happening. No. No. No. The queen of the battlefield does not flee. The queen of the battlefield does not wait. The queen of the battlefield does not fail. No, no, no!"
Sighing, C.C. left the woman to her mantra, and tried to make out what was happening on the other side of the river; out over from where Kallen had fallen into the water. Out over where that custom Knightmare was now landing.
When Xingke put his custom frame down on the river side only a few steps away from Tohdoh and his men, the old general finally realized he had a problem. As if dispersing the French policemen –and even several of his Black Knights - from the corpse was not bad enough: they kept trying to take their picture with him. Disgusting.
But, Xingke wanted more. "What, he's dead already?" he asked of Tohdoh through his portable com-link, sounding quite disappointed. Then a vicious gleam entered the man's eye. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure, I've checked." Tohdoh stated swatting at a man that had even brought an old-fashioned hand-camera with a spotlight attached. "Now, please. Go find his accomplices. That plane might still become a problem."
But the Chinese warrior was beyond reason: his angry whisper was probably not even meant to be spoken out loud. "After what he did to my country... to my Empress…"
The group of interlopers around the Demon's corpse abruptly dispersed. But suddenly, the last true samurai found he had preferred it had they had stayed. The reason for their departure was a clear. It was on account of that custom Knightmare taking another menacing step forward.
"I think I'll just make sure..."
Abhorred, Tohdoh pushed his hand-held com-link into his pocket and spread his arms wide, addressing Xingke's frame directly: "My friend, we are done here. Let us not give in to irrational anger."
But the man did not listen, drumming his speakers to life: "Just a little… step."
And with that, the last of his Black Knights had retreated. And Tohdoh felt very alone, and a little foolish: standing there, arms outstretched against a Knightmare. Standing there protecting someone that had not deserved protecting even back when he had been alive and able to enjoy it.
And then Chiba was at his side, pulling at his arm. And it all made sense to him again. "This is wrong." He intoned, stating a fact. "Wrong, gruesome and unnecessary."
Chiba's hands were shaking. "Maybe." She agreed. "Maybe, but it's nothing important enough to get you killed over." At those words, Tohdoh felt his resolve falter.
There was only so much one woman could take. Only so many failures and missed chances that that could pile up on a person before it all became too much. And Kallen had reached her breaking point.
Now, a realistic option would be just to break down and cry. Kallen supposed it would only be what was expected of her. She was a girl, and as much as she had always enforced that strong, stead-fast image of a warrior, it was a truth she could not hide or deny. She was a girl, and everyone expected that, by default, that fact alone would make her prone to crying.
But Kallen refused. Of course, not crying right now was making a second, even worse option all the more possible - fainting! Another feat girls were, supposedly, prone to do. Another very possible option, because right now all this not-crying was making it very hard to breath. And another sign of weakness. One she could not–would not–give in to.
So when Kallen noticed that Chinese frame step closer and closer to where she knew her black king had fallen, and something new and totally different bubbled up deep within her, she welcomed it. She welcomed it, and acted upon it. Acted, even though C.C. was urging her not to: she started the engines and closed the pilot hatch. Acted, prepping all systems and weapons even though C.C. refused to even sit down at first, only strapping herself in when she realized there was no chance of stopping Kallen now. And then Kallen - ace of the Black Knights and Red Queen of the battlefield – truly acted: she attacked.
She was revenge. She was death incarnate. She was a red blur heading straight for that custom frame and hitting it straight in the chest with all she had. She was anger, pounding down on it with two harken fists, trying her damndest to break through that armor with strength of will alone.
And then, in a moment of clarity, she was a saving angel, picking up his mangled corpse with one arm, and making a mad get-away before her enemy had managed to right itself. Yes, she was going to make it; she was going to save the day.
She was going to.. get him out of here.
But then, suddenly, her racer was pulled to a sudden, hard stop; throwing her into her seat's harness and almost making her lose her grip on him. Bewildered, frightened, Kallen found a slash-harken clawed into her rear engine. And the chain, running back all the way to that custom frame. They were caught.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, Lelouch's schemes worked out perfectly. There was not a hitch, not one miscalculation. He had never been one to go into detail about his plans in advance, but C.C., having a front-seat to the planning itself, knew enough to tie things together in her mind. Usually, Lelouch had taken into account all variables and come to all the right conclusions.
One percent of the time, he overlooked something. It was usually something negligible small, something that had simply been, from his point of view, beneath his notice. Although there was a lot beneath his notice, it seemed to C.C.. Whether this was an undeniable peculiarity due to royal heritage or a habit grown out of the certainty of his superior intellect, the witch did not know.
Still even his small oversights had had the most devastating consequences in the past. Euphy's massacre and the Fleija warhead detonated over Tokyo by Suzaku to just name a few.
So when Xingke's custom frame came to grapple with the Guren racer, C.C. could only wonder at the enormity of his oversight. To wonder at what repercussions such might have. And, as the great Red Lotus herself went into a panic due to the hopelessness of their situation, C.C. knew that it was only the grey witch that could save them.
It was not fair. She should not have to feel this way: Panicked; afraid.
They should have been afraid of her.
But the body in her grappler hardly looked good enough to be a rag-doll now and even if… even if the impossible was possible, she was losing.
"Kallen, calm down." C.C. called again, hanging from her passenger seat to grab at her shoulder.
But they had no chance of escape; Xingke's harken was tightly locked to the racer, and she did not have the firepower on this thing to fight back and break free. That would have been true even if she had two arms at her disposal, instead of just one. It would have been true even if she had had the freedom to fight for real; if she had not had this need to protect his body.
What little there was left of it.
But it wasn't fair! She was the queen of the battlefield. They should be trembling at the sight of her. They wouldbe, if she had had any decent weaponry.
But now, she was going to die. Out here, a miserable failure. Powerless.
It was over; all of it. Again. Xingke was reeling her in and even the three Sutherlands were back, pilot-ejects replaced and gathering round below her. Gino and his squadron had already closed the airspace above her, circling and closing in. Even the helicopters and police cars below were moving in on her now. It was over.
C.C. dug her hand into her shoulder, deep. But not in assurance - surely, even the grey witch was at least worried by now. C.C.'s voice betrayed nothing of such worry. Her words only offered a riddle: "Kallen… Do you want power?"
And then Kallen was falling. But it was not her Guren racer giving up; not the cockpit she was falling out of. She was falling out of reality itself.
And there was C.C.'s voice again: disembodied, but somehow making more sense this way: Do you need power?
Did she ever?
And it clicked; by some instinct, Kallen knew exactly what to do. Laughing menacingly, she opened the free broadcasting frequency everyone received.
Her left eye itched. "Now then, you pathetic creatures. Fear me! Tremble at the sight of the Red Queen of the battlefield!"
And they did: the three Sutherlands turned and fled. Xingke, supposedly a man beyond fear, nearly dropped out of the sky, his harken releasing as he backed up a full hundred meters before mastering his panic. Gino's squad of jets broke, only their leader coming to his senses after a minute, barking out orders to hold formation, though he had little effect. Most of the helicopters simply turned and left at full speed.
The people down on the streets, within hearing distance of police radios just crouched down in fear. And trembled.
And Kallen laughed; she had the power. The power of absolute fear.
Oh, but it felt good.
Then, she turned her little Guren racer, and ran.