"Lancelot now launching!"
The Lancelot's landspinners screeched as the Knightmare shot forward. In seconds, the JLF forces manning the Raikō noticed it.
"Reaction confirmed, one enemy Knightmare!"
"It moves twice as fast as the others!"
"So what!" the Raikō commander shouted, "It'll end up like the rest. Super Electric Magnetic Shrapnel Cannon fire!"
The large liner cannon fired off a shell that quick released two dozen steel ball bearings. The number of ball bearings and the speed at which they were traveling would've destroyed a single squad of regular Knightmares, much less one. The Lancelot however, wasn't a regular Knightmare.
Moving at unbelievable speeds and using its arm shields, Suzaku and the Lancelot managed to avoid or deflect the entire salvo and continue on. All that was left of the shot was the energy from the explosion. When it left the opening of the tunnel it was a deafening sound and rocked the Lancelot's crew.
"I warned you about this Lloyd!" Cecile shouted towards her boss, who was hiding behind her. Lloyd didn't seem too concerned. In fact, he seemed quite pleased.
"He doesn't want to play decoy, he's going for the gold! He must really want to rescue Princess Euphemia! Ha ha!"
Inside the hotel, Princess Euphemia was lead along the halls to where she believed Lt. Colonel Kusakabe was. Her escorts were the Japan Liberation Front soldiers who were guarding the hostages. Just before they'd left the room where the hostages were, a new group of people appeared. They were dressed in black coats and caps with reflective glass visors covering half their face. They didn't appear to be JLF soldiers but they were allowed to watch over the hostages without questions.
'Just who were they?' Euphemia wondered as she was led through the hotel.
Soon, they reached one of the suites, guarded by two more JLF soldiers. One of Euphie's escorts stepped forward.
"I've brought the hostage I radioed about earlier for the Lt. Colonel to see. She claims she's Princess Euphemia."
One of Kusakabe's guards pulled out a second radio. "Princess Euphemia is here" he said in Britannian. Euphie got the meaning, if she was lying, she and the rest of the hostages were dead.
There were voiced from behind the door. A man gave a loud shout, then gunshots rang out. All four guards drew their weapons and charged into the suite.
"Colonel…" the first man in shouted but was cut off by a gunshot wound to the shoulder.
"Calm yourselves," Zero said, his own gun drawn. He was the only man in the room alive, the other four were dead. Euphie could see Kusakabe himself with a sword in his stomach. "The Colonel and the other committed suicide when they realized how meaningless this operation was. Euphemia," the masked terrorist said, now turning towards the princess, "You were willing to sacrifice yourself for the commoners. You haven't changed."
Euphie gasped. How did Zero know how much she cared about everyone? Did he know her personally?
"Leave us," Zero told the JLF soldiers, "I wish to speak with the princess alone."
Under the hotel, the Lancelot was making unbelievable progress. It had already traveled farther than the other Knightmares and survived four salvos. The Raikō fired another. It didn't work.
"That thing broke through salvo number five, I don't believe it!" one of the pilots shouted in fear.
"Don't panic!" the Raikō commander shouted, close to panic himself. "Deploy the quad-link free-fire arm guns. Batteries too! We'll shield this final defense with our lives!"
In the Lancelot, Suzaku noticed the cannon's new guns activating. He was out of time.
"Miss Cecile, it's time for me to use the VARIS!"
"No, you could get killed!"
"There's no room for me to evade! I'll risk getting blasted to take the first shot!"
Dropping his arm shields, Suzaku readied to fire the Variable Ammunition Repulsion Impact Spitfire. It was a time game now. With him so close to the liner cannon, Suzaku didn't have enough room to avoid it's next shot and with the VARIS ready, he could block the shots either. He had only one shot and a limited amount of time to take it.
Back inside the hotel, Euphemia was even more scared with Zero then she had been with the Japan Liberation Force. Zero had freely admitted in front of a live T.V. audience that he had killed her brother Clovis la Britannia. From the reports she read, he was also a very capable strategist, just as good as her older sister. In short, she would be lucky to get out of this alive.
"I heard you are the Sub-Viceroy now your highness, Princess Euphemia li Britannia."
"It's not an appointment I'm happy with" Euphie said. She didn't hide her disgust from Zero, what was the point? She was going to let him know exactly what she thought of him. Before she died, she was going to give him a piece of her mind about Clovis.
"No, that's because Clovis was murdered. That was my handiwork. He begged pathetically for his life until the very end. He plead with the very tongue that ordered the deaths of Elevens."
As he spoke, Lelouch saw his sister grow more and more angry. She was sixteen now, it was time she knew how the world worked, and how cruel it was. It was time she learned just how evil the Holy Britannian Empire really was.
For too long had Cornelia kept her ignorant about the true. She had kept their sister innocent and pure for as long as possible. Nunnally had lost her innocence the night their mother was murdered, eight years ago. She was only six years old, seven when Britannia invaded Japan.
"So, is that the reason you killed my brother?" Euphie asked. She had to know the reason another one of her beloved siblings died in this country.
Zero didn't answer for a second. Euphie was afraid that he wouldn't respond. Then, "Because Clovis was an offspring of the Britannian Emperor."
'Because, he was Father's son?'
"Which reminds me." Zero removed his arms from the cape he wore, revealing a pistol. It was pointed directly at her heart. "You're one of his children too, aren't you? But, I suppose for now…" Surprisingly, Zero lowered his weapon.
"Use maximum output! I don't give a damn if it destroys the guns! Be prepared to die defending this spot!"
The Raikō crew was ready to fire what was sure to be their final salvo. Either they hit the white Knightmare and finally destroyed it, or it would fire at them and they would be destroyed. These were the final seconds of the battle and the outcome here would determine the victor.
"Charged, and ready!"
"Smash them! Super Electro Magnetic Shrapnel Cannon fire!"
At the last possible second, the Raikō crew fired. It was a second too late. The Lancelot fired the VARIS and the energy shot vaporized the shell a second after it left the Raikō. The bolt continued on, straight into the Raikō's barrel. The cannon exploded, leaving a hole in the ceiling just large enough for the Lancelot to jump through.
With the Britannian military, every officer and soldier could only stare in shock as the Lancelot appeared. They had all heard the rumors but none of them had actually seen it action. It was amazing. Lloyd just grinned at the performance his baby was putting on and at the data he was collecting. Kururugi was simply something else.
"It's him," Cornelia whispered in shock. "It's the Eleven." The Honorary Britannian was performing beyond expectations. He was performing beyond the ability of even some of her best pilots. Was it the machine doing this, or was it Kururugi's own skill?
Suzaku didn't allow himself a moment of rest. The second he was out of the utilities tunnel, he locked onto the foundation block like he was supposed to. It only took two seconds and five shots for the block to be destroyed. Lake Kawaguchi Convention Center Hotel began to sink.
As he fell, Suzaku felt a bit of pride at assisting the Britannian military. The Royal Guard were already moving to storm the hotel. Soon, the hostages would be rescued and the crisis would be over.
A beeping sound alerted him to something his factsphere sensor found. Zooming in, Suzaku saw a familiar mask standing proudly in one of the rooms, looking out the window. Zero was there!
Throwing away all logical thinking, Suzaku began to force the Lancelot towards the hotel. Zero had already shown that he didn't care for innocent lives and that he was willing to kill Britannian royals. Euphie was still in there, he had to save her.
In the hotel, Lelouch could gaze in shock at the mysterious white monster that ruined in plans in Shinjuku. It wouldn't ruin his plans this time, he was ready. Taking the detonator from his pocket, Zero pressed the button, causing the explosives the Black Knights had placed throughout the hotel.
To everyone's shock and horror, Lake Kawaguchi Hotel exploded with such force, several soldiers were knocked off their feet.
"Warrant Officer Kururugi, don't!"
It was too late. The Lancelot was already moving towards the falling remains of the hotel. The smoke and dust from the rubble quickly covered the Knightmare. Everyone was blinded and had to cover their eyes.
A few seconds later and the dusk cleared. Near where the former hotel stood, Lloyd and Cecile could see the white Knightmare standing, without a scratch on it.
"He's alright!" Cecile exclaimed, pleased that Suzaku wasn't hurt. Lloyd sighed in relief as well, though in the knowledge that his precious Lancelot wasn't damaged. Of course, Suzaku wasn't alright, at least not mentally.
"I couldn't rescue them." Tears formed in his eyes at the loss of his friends. "They're dead; I couldn't save them. Not again!" he shouted, slamming his fist on the control panel. Unfortunately, through his tears, Suzaku didn't notice the dust clearing across the lake, and the yacht that was coming into view.
Unlike Suzaku, the rest of the Britannian military noticed the yacht, and the man standing on the bow. Unknown to them, they weren't the only ones seeing this. All across the Empire, on the very channels that had been covering the hostage crisis, Zero's face appeared.
On the Ashford campus, in the Student Council Clubhouse, Nunnally and Sayoko watched Zero's live broadcast. Last time they had listened on the radio. Now that she had her eyesight back, Nunnally was able to watch her brother's speech. She was also able to view it and be just as amazed as everyone else.
"Big brother…" Nunnally whispered. This was it, the very first appearance of the famous Black Knights.
"My dear Britannians, have no fear, all the hostages from the hotel are safe and sound. I, Zero, return them to you unharmed."
Nunnally smiled as the cameras her brother 'borrowed' showed each and everyone one of the hostages' faces. The most prominent was a familiar head of pink hair.
In a nearby raft was C.C., her green hair sticking out as much as Euphie's. Seated next to her was Shirley with Milly cradling Nina behind them. Everyone was safe.
The footage of the former hostages shifted to that of Zero himself. Lights came up and seven more people were revealed to be standing behind him. Nunnally could see Kallen's red hair in the back. A good thing too as red hair wasn't too common among the Japanese. If someone looked closely, they would figure out that Kallen wasn't fully Japanese. It would put her at great risk, something Nunnally didn't want. Kallen was to be her new older sister after all.
"People! Fear us, or rally behind us as you see fit! We are the Black Knights!"
Behind his mask, Lelouch smirked at the name for his resistance group. It was a little clever, having a former terrorists group becoming knights. Even more so when their enemy was an army filled with so call 'knights'. The truly amazing thing was, Lelouch didn't come up with the name on his own.
The name 'Black Knight' actually came to him during one of his chess lessons with Shirley. It had gone as well as the other; namely, horrible…
"No Shirley, the Rook moves straight ahead, not the Knight."
Lelouch fixed the orange-haired girl's mistake with a sigh. That was the fifth time today, and she had made the same one during their last lessons. The girl just didn't get chess at all.
"Sorry, Lulu. I guess I'm not very good at this, huh?"
"Don't worry Shirley, you're getting the hang of it. At least you know how the pawns work, right?"
"I guess" she said, fingering her Queen. "Hey, Lulu, remind me again, the Queen moves only one space, right?"
"No, that's the King. The Queen can move in any direction any number of squares. As such, she's the most powerful piece."
"But, I thought the King…with your whole 'if the king doesn't lead…"
"How can he expected his subordinates to follow" Lelouch finished. "The King is the most important piece, but the Queen is the most powerful. It's a piece you want to protect greatly."
"Like in real life, right?" Lelouch gave her a confused look. Shirley then realized she said that out loud and quickly tried to cover herself, "Well, the queen is the power behind the king right? He wouldn't do anything to displease her?"
"I…guess" Lelouch said, missing Shirley's blush as she thought about her being Lelouch's queen. That made her think….
"Hey, Lulu. If you could be any chess piece, what piece would you be?"
"Where did that come from?"
"Well, I wouldn't choose a piece. I see myself as more of a player than a piece. But, I guess I would go with the king. At times, it does direct the other pieces and they have to move according to it."
Lelouch didn't even mention his thoughts about being a former Britannian prince.
"Oh, well, I thought you'd be more of this piece" Shirley said, picking up one of Lelouch's Knights.
Shirley shook her head. "A black Knight. Like in chess, you always wait for someone else to make the first move, like how white moves first. And in real life, you protect the rest of us from Milly's shenanigans, mostly, like a real knight. And, well, a lot of your actions are from the shadows. I just thought it'd suit you better."
'A Knight?' he thought, 'a black Knight?' A real knight, rising from the shadows to protect others. Then it came to him.
"Thank-you Shirley, you really helped me see something just know. Sorry, but we're going to have to cut this lesson short today, I've got something I need to take care of. Thanks again Shirley, you're the best."
And he left a blushing, and confused, girl behind.
"We of the Black Knights stand with all those who have no weapons to wield…regardless of whether they be Elevens or Britannians! The Japan Liberation Front cowardly took innocent Britannian civilians hostage, and then mercilessly executed them! It was a wanton and meaningless act; therefore, they have been punished, just as former Viceroy Clovis was punished for ordering the slaughter of countless unarmed Elevens.
"We cannot stand by and allow such cruelty to be carried out; and so we made him pay for his actions. I will not repudiate battle on a fair and level field, but neither will I tolerate a one-sided massacre of the weak by the strong!"
Nunnally winced, the memory of the first Specially Administrative Zone of Japan coming to the forefront of her mind. At Lake Kawaguchi, Kallen felt the same thing.
'Not this time' they both thought.
"The only ones who should kill are those who are prepared to be killed!"
Suzaku and Cornelia both frowned at that statement. They both believed it to be true but hated the fact that Zero was using it.
"Wherever oppressors abuse their power by attacking those who are powerless, we shall appear again, no matter how mighty or formidable our foe may be! Those of you with power, fear us! Those of you without it, rally behind us! We, the Black Knights, shall be the ones who stand in judgment of this world!"
Nunnally wasn't the only Britannian Royal to watch Zero's speech live. In the Imperial Capital of Pendragon, three more members of the Royal Family were watching. Technically, only one of them was an official member of the Britannian Royal Family. The only female was actually a Knight of the Round but was currently being controlled by a former Imperial Consort. There was no record of the youngest of the group existing.
From a private room, the 98th Emperor, Charles zi Britannian, smiled at his son's work. "So Lelouch, you've revealed your intentions at last."
"Yes, it is clear" V.V. said, "He intends to lead these Black Knights in a rebellion against you Charles. He believes you responsible for that night eight years ago. I warned you against leaving your children in Japan."
"It was necessary Big Brother. If Lelouch hadn't remained in Japan we never would've found C.C."
"C.C. showed an interest in Lelouch from almost the moment he was born," Anya Alstreim said. From within, Marianne vi Britannia spoke. "We both believed that she would seek him out. It's nice to see our guess was correct."
All three gazed at the image of the green-hair immortal sitting relaxed on a raft.
"So, what do we do now? We know where C.C. is, do we send the O.S.I. or members of the Geass Order after her? And what about Lelouch, he's raised the banner of rebellion against you Charles. Letting him live would be a big mistake."
"No, there's no need to do anything just yet. We know where C.C. is and that she's given Lelouch a Geass power. No, she'll stay close to him until he fulfills his contract, there's no need to rush into things."
"And we still need time to finish the Ragnarok Connection. We just need to connect a few more Thought Elevators."
"Marianne is right Big Brother, we can wait. Besides, I want to see where Lelouch will take this 'Zero' character. He's already proven that he's willing to kill his other siblings to complete his goals, maybe he'd make a better ruler after the Ragnarok Connection."
"And his 'knights for justice' speech is so entertaining Charles, it goes against your believes of the Empire. It has to be for dear, sweet little Nunnally. If C.C. informs him of the Ragnarok Connection, he may even be willing to join us. I mean, it'll make a world where Nunnally can be herself."
"Hmm, that's very possible Marianne. See if you can try and talk to C.C. again. She may have avoided talking to you ever since she gave our son his Geass power but she can't avoid you forever."
"If you two are content to watch your son, then may I make a suggestion? Why don't we send a member of the Order to spy on Lelouch? That way, if he gets out of line or rejects the Ragnarok Connection, we can still get C.C."
"Very well, send one of your spies. But remember, he is only to observe, not kill. Now, Marianne, V.V., let us watch how Lelouch vi Britannia challenges the world as Zero."
There you go, like promised, I have delivered the next chapter of Red Recurrence by the end of the month. This last part with the Emperor was something I added as a filler. When I finished the chapter, it just seemed too short for me, then I thought I could ad the Emperor's thoughts here and show how things changed just a bit from the original timeline. It also provides a few hints as to what is coming next.