Disclaimer: Code Geass is created by Sunrise, directed by Gorō Taniguchi, and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi. This fanfiction had been written for entertainment purposes only and without intention of infringing upon any copyright.
Title: Code Geass R3: A Noble Act
Summary: Set after the events of R2. The United Federation of Nations faces a threat that shakes the fragile peace of the world. Two years ago, Zero saved them from a dictatorship. Just as Kallen begins to wonder if this Zero is able to save them, she encounters a flash from the past.
Characters: Lelouch and Kallen
A/N: This is my first Code Geass fanfic, although I have written a fair number of Naruto and Inuyasha fanfics. After days of agonizing over whether I should really embark on yet another story, I finally gave in to the temptation and this story was born on 28 August 2012. It is a representation of what I want to see if a season 3 ever appears, so it contains spoilers all the way up to the end of season 2. All that said, I hope you'll like this.
A Noble Act by elle6778 - Act 1
Two years had passed since that fateful day when a single person's acts destroyed the world, only to recreate it anew. The colonies had been freed from the insult of bearing numbers as their identities, and were well on their way to construct a better world for their citizens to live in. Segregation based on political hierarchy and culture was no longer encouraged. It was a slow process but the population of the ex-colonies of Britannia was gradually learning to tolerate and accept those who held different personal beliefs.
Kallen smiled wistfully. "The world is a much better place now, Lelouch," she whispered as she reached out to touch the smooth marble in front of her. "Thanks to you."
Glancing up, she took note of her surroundings from her position under one of the many tall trees in the courtyard. There were other tombstones scattered about but she wondered just how many of these plots actually housed a body underneath. She was certain that the one in front of her was empty below the marble slab with 'Lelouch Lamperouge' engraved upon its surface.
Two years ago, Jeremiah had all but snatched Lelouch's lifeless body from a crying Nunnaly's grasping arms and the next thing she knew, a foreign Knightmare Frame swooped down to pick them up. Neither had been seen again and she could only presume that Jeremiah didn't wish for his prince's body to be desecrated and had buried him somewhere else. For it would certainly be desecrated. The masses hated Lelouch vi Britannia with a vengeance.
Her chest twisted, causing her to inhale sharply. She often tried not to think about Lelouch because each time she was torn between a myriad of emotions. More often than not, she had to push aside a sinking sensation of regret and tell herself that she was truly happy that things had worked out so well. The streets were safe and one no longer saw blatant oppressions of the weak at the turn of each corner. Passersby no longer regarded others as suspicious entities. Ashford Academy as well as other establishments now welcomed people from all walks of life as long as one possessed the necessary merit. According to some students she had spoken to, Ashford even served Japanese food these days. So yes, the world around her was a better place to live in.
Feeling the prickle of hot tears behind her eyelids, Kallen blinked quickly and turned away from the tombstone. She always became irrationally emotional whenever she visited him. It was time to go before she embarrassed herself completely. Her feet took her towards the end of the courtyard. There, two guards stood flanking the iron gate. As a sign of respect for Zero's contribution to the peace, the Japanese military forces now donned a slightly modified form of the Black Knight's uniform. They nodded at her when she exited. If they wondered why she was visiting a tyrant's grave on the second anniversary of his death, it did not show on their faces.
Lost in her thoughts about what Lelouch would think of the fact that his Black Knight's uniform had become a symbol of protection, she did not notice the approach of a tall figure until he was almost upon her. Halting, she looked up and as always, her heart skipped a beat at the familiar sight even though she knew that underneath, he was not the person she hoped to see.
"Kouzuki," the masked figure greeted.
"Zero-sama," she greeted in a respectful tone.
It was not as if she did not know who was hidden behind the mask. The former Zero often addressed her as Q-1. This Zero had never addressed her thusly. The difference was so obvious that there was no way she could ignore it. But whatever her feelings were on this topic, the act must go on, right? To do otherwise would be to disobey Lelouch's final order and that was something she had no intention of doing.
The mask tilted, giving the impression that he was looking past her shoulder. "It's been two years already."
"Yes." After a brief pause, she added, "Should you really be here? I mean, doesn't it look a bit weird for you to visit when…"
"When I'm the one who killed him?" he supplied flatly.
She glanced away quickly. The two men had been good friends in the past and what he had done must be unbearably painful. Nevertheless, that did not stop her from feeling illogically angry with him for taking Lelouch's life. This man in front of her knew what Lelouch was planning. He'd been given the privilege no one else had. Couldn't he have persuaded Lelouch to find a way that did not involve his death? Surely with his brilliance, Lelouch could think of another plan? Why die for the cause?
"No one had mentioned it."
Her eyes went to his masked face. "What?"
"No one said anything when I visited last year." He shrugged. "And it doesn't matter even if they did. This is something I need to do."
She did not know that he'd come but then again, last year she'd waited until it was dark before she came here. It was a good thing too, because she'd departed with a pair of red-rimmed eyes and damp cheeks. The darkness had provided a good cover when she walked past the guards.
She glanced away from him. Not wanting to prolong this encounter, she said, "Well, I'd better not keep you. I'll see you around."
As Kallen walked past him, she could feel his eyes on her.
Suzaku climbed the steps leading up to the Administration Complex. The network of buildings that had just been completed a year ago extended over a great area and housed all the departments necessary to run Japan.
His steps felt strangely heavy. He could not help but think that when he had been a Britannian soldier, he was weighed down with the guilt of killing his own father. And now, he was weighed down by the sheer responsibility of being Zero. He had never thought that he would be in this position, and Lelouch was right in saying that this would be a form of punishment for him. These two years had not been easy with countless people depending on him to do and say the right thing.
Reflexively, he reached down to the left pocket of his purple suit. There was a comforting bulge right over his heart. It was a fitting place to store the device Lelouch had given him that morning a few hours before he had driven the sword through his old friend's heart. Without the device, he would be even more lost.
The main entrance to the Administration Complex was guarded by a handful of soldiers. They bowed respectfully at his approach and he reciprocated the gesture. The second he stepped into the building, Lloyd's assistant Cecile appeared and rushed towards him. For a moment, he wondered why they were in Japan instead of England, and then he remembered that Kaguya had urged Nunnaly to request their assistance with the Knightmare Frames a few weeks ago.
"Zero-sama. If you have a moment, can you come with me to the hanger? We would like your input on something."
At least the hanger was a place which reminded him of simpler times, he thought as he replied, "Show me."
Cecile walked off rapidly and he followed until he reached the massive enclosure at the west end of the complex. She led him into Hangar 1. There he was greeted by rows of Knightmare Frames lining up against each side of the spacious hangar. The gold and white of Lancelot's successor, Lancelot Titan caught his attention but it was no longer his. Lancelot had belonged to Suzaku and he was no longer Suzaku. He was Zero and Zero's Knightmare was Shinkirou. However, Shinkirou had been destroyed as well as its blueprints, rendering it impossible for them to rebuild the device without Rakshata's expertise.
He glanced across the hangar. The blue and gold Gawain T2 was now his Knightmare. Fortunately, it hadn't been necessary for him to participate in a serious battle ever since he'd adopted it. The attack and defense mechanisms of this Knightmare depended heavily on complex calculations and although he was not an idiot, he was nowhere near as mentally agile as Lelouch. His strength was focused on the physical side. He winced inwardly as he recalled a not-so-offhand remark Kallen had made several days after Zero Requiem.
"I didn't know you could run that fast," she'd said dryly. "And dodge all those bullets."
It was like a slap in the face. He could ruin everything if he was not careful. Since then, he'd been at great pains to limit his physical activities but it was driving him crazy. For all he knew, he could be physically as hopeless as Lelouch now with the constant lack of activity.
"Here it is."
Cecile's voice drew his out of his contemplations and Suzaku looked up to find a shiny Guren staring down at him. The gold and white of Lancelot caught the corner of his eyes again, but Suzaku kept his attention on the red Knightmare Frame. Lloyd walked up to them then, a wide smile stretching across his face.
"Ah, Zero. Here you are. You're a hard man to track down," he said. "Busy running the world?"
Brushing away Lloyd's teasing, he asked, "What is it?"
Cecile gestured to the Guren. "The new modifications are successful but until it is tested, we won't know how well it works. Initial numerical data suggests that it might be slower because of all the additions, so we were wondering if we should strip it down."
Lloyd interjected casually, "The new attachments made it heavier and unless we can increase the energy supply or reduce the weight, it's bound to be slower. Having said that, it doesn't need much speed nowadays, does it? I've been told that it has only ever been used for construction lately."
Cecile elbowed him. "We all agreed that the rebuilding would be faster with the help of the Knightmare Frames."
"Tsk! Knightmare Frames are not construction tools," he pointed out. Looking thoughtful, he added, "Though we might be able to fit a crane or two on their backs without too much effort."
Rolling her eyes in exasperation, Cecile turned away from her superior. "So, what do you think, Zero-sama?"
Suzaku studied the Knightmare Frame thoughtfully and then said, "Guren's main advantage is its speed so I'd rather not compromise that. However, I think it's best that you consult Kallen. She's the devicer."
Lloyd blinked at him. "Right." Then with a knowing smirk, he added, "Letting your subordinates decide nowadays, huh?"
Suzaku almost groaned aloud. Even though no one alive except C.C. was certain of his true identity, there was an uncomfortably long list of people who knew that he was not the original Zero. As far as he was aware, the occupants of this list included Cornelia, Schneizel, Kanon, Toudou, Ougi, Tamaki, Chiba, Villetta, Kallen, Nina, Cecile and of course, Lloyd. Sometimes, he even suspected that Lloyd knew much more than what he let on.
In the end, Suzaku decided not to dignify his question with a verbal response. Instead, he gave the man a prolonged stare until the scientist looked away with an uncomfortable chuckle.
Turning to Cecile, he asked, "Is that all?"
The blue-haired woman nodded, her lips twitching and betraying her barely concealed amusement.
Suzaku wasted no time in leaving the hangar. A quick glance at his watch told him that he was due to meet the Japanese Council. Kaguya acted as the representative for UFN, but he, Nunnaly and a handful of others also had seats in the council. Before long, someone caught up with him to remind him of the meeting.
"Zero-sama, the meeting is about to begin."
He nodded at the Black Knight. "Everyone has arrived?"
The soldier nodded.
"Then let's go."
As he continued to the conference room, he mentally ran through the points he'd memorized last night. It was time for him to put on another good act.
Her footsteps echoed loudly as she stepped into the hangar. The place was deserted, but that was not surprising. It was lunchtime after all. One of the clauses in the new UFN charter stated that all employees had the right to leave their work premises during that hour of lunch break. Most employees took advantage of that.
She glared at the approaching scientist. "How many times have I told you not to call me that, Lloyd?"
"Oh? Such a hostile response. We're all friend here, surely."
She bit back the urge to strangle the annoying man. "What do you want?" she asked bluntly.
"Is that the way to speak to a man bearing gifts?"
Arching a brow, she echoed skeptically, "Gifts?"
He pushed his glasses up. "Upgrades then," he amended mockingly. "We've been asked to do so by your bosses."
Kallen blinked. Guren had been repaired after the battle but she wasn't aware that Project Camelot was up and running again. From what she understood, funds had been diverted from the military and defense to the infrastructure department to aid the reconstruction of Japan. When the research team from England had arrived a few weeks ago, she'd thought they'd come to carry out the regular bi-yearly checkup on the Knightmare Frames. Did Kaguya think that it was time to rebuild their defenses and had therefore asked for the upgrades? Curious, Kallen followed him to her Guren and blinked at the sight of the additional attachments.
"What's that? A fin?" she exclaimed incredulously.
"This is Guren CIII. It could fly and now it can swim," Lloyd declared with a smug smile. "You should be happy. It's one of the highest spec frames I've ever worked on."
Narrowing her eyes at him, she asked suspiciously, "So what's wrong with it?"
"Ah, you've such little faith in me." Then he stuck up a finger. "But you're right. In short, the additions made it heavier and the calculations predict a loss in speed."
"No way!" she cried out in dismay. "Can't you do something about it? Rakshata managed to get Shinkirou to fly and dive two years ago. And Shinkirou was fast."
Lloyd's expression darkened instantly at the mention of his archrival. "Just in case it had escaped your notice, it's only recently that we received funding for military research. And besides, what's the use of speaking of a woman who'd abandoned her post when it suited her? Where is she now?"
Kallen threw up her hands. "How should I know?"
"Just disappeared with a stupid note," Lloyd muttered in disgust as he shook his head. "She's still as unmanageable as ever."
This was definitely not the first time she had heard the man rant about Rakshata. Sometimes she even wondered if he had a personal interest in the Indian scientist. It probably didn't matter now, since the Indian scientist was long gone. Shortly after the councils were formed, she'd given some vague excuse about visiting India and then had chosen not to return despite their urgings. And eventually, she'd even ceased to respond to any communications from Japan. She was probably working solely for India now.
"So what now?"
Lloyd sobered up and studied the Guren shrewdly. "We need to lose some dead weight off the frame, I suppose. But in the meantime, you should take it out for a drive. We need some test data to see how well the attachment is integrating with the original system."
"I can take Guren out now if you like."
Lloyd opened his mouth to say something but before the words came out, the ground beneath them trembled suddenly.
"What the-" Kallen exclaimed in surprise, reaching out to brace herself against her Knightmare. "Is that an earthquake or something?"
The trembling halted. Lloyd frowned and then went to the rows of monitors nearby. His fingers ran over the keys as Kallen closed the distance between them. Her eyes widened when one particular monitor flickered into view.
"What is that?" she whispered as she stared in disbelief at the enormous cloud of smoke rising up from a paper factory not far from the Administration Complex. "An accident?"
"Maybe," Lloyd replied carelessly as his fingers continued to type.
Another screen popped up. This one displayed a similar grey cloud of smoke but it was located in a very familiar place. Kallen gasped in horror as she took in the sight of what was left of the sports stadium in Ashford Academy.
"Or maybe not," Lloyd added with a troubled frown.
Kallen felt her blood drain from her face. She really hoped that it was not true but it looked like Japan was under attack again.
Jeremiah reached up his arms and stretched, yawning widely as he did so.
What time was it? He squinted at the bright sunlight streaming in through the gaps of the wooden shutters. It must be quite late. The orange harvest had just been completed yesterday and this was the first time in ages that he had the opportunity to sleep in. Even with the cybernetic enhancements, his body was sore from the physical strain but it was a productive kind of sore. He'd never felt better.
He turned to the side to find Anya standing at his bedroom door. "Ah, yes. What's the time?"
"Almost two," the girl replied in her soft voice. "There's something you need to see."
And then she walked out with her pink hair bouncing behind her, leaving him to follow in his own time. Shaking his head, he sat up and swung his legs off the bed.
"Tch. Her social skills could do with some improving," he grumbled as he discarded his sleeping attire and dressed for the day. "Returning her memories made no difference at all."
However, she seemed to feel as if she owed him something for that. When he had chosen to go into hiding, he had not expected anyone to find him but she did. One day, she had simply turned up and had never left since. As far as he knew, she had not reported his location to anyone.
By the time he stepped out of his bedroom to the open plan area which housed the living room, dining area and kitchen, he found the window shutters closed tight. Comprehending its significance, he went to a tall wall cabinet and pressed his palm onto a hidden panel. It swung open and he stepped in. A steep flight of steps down took him to a brightly lit space beneath their house where the hum of electronics greeted him. The atmosphere down here was a far cry from the rustic conditions upstairs but it was necessary for them to keep a low profile. Technology this advanced so far out in the secluded countryside would attract unwanted attention.
At one end of the space, Anya was seated on a couch in front of a large screen. The news was on and the focus was Tokyo. Jeremiah stilled when he took in the information.
"… less than an hour ago. So far, there are no reports of civilian casualties but no one can confirm for sure since the structures cannot be accessed yet. The fires could be seen from the street and for safety, these areas have been cordoned off. The public is advised to steer clear as to not impede the investigation and cleanup operations. Officials suggest that the cause might have been faulty machineries which happen to be present at all three locations…"
Jeremiah continued to listen as the news reporter lists the possible equipment that could have caused the explosion. Slowly, he looked away from the screen to search Anya's face. Her expression was unreadable but he could almost hear what she was thinking.
Simultaneous explosions large enough to obliterate a sports stadium, a paper factory, and a fuel distribution center without a single human casualty? Someone had planned this whole thing carefully and the Japanese officials knew that. They were only covering up because they didn't want mass hysteria to spread. But who could be behind this?
He left the underground chamber and walked back up to his room. There, he sat down at the edge of the creaky bed. In front of him was a wooden chest with a fingerprint lock disguised within a traditionally carved crest. Reaching out, he pressed his thumb against the sensor. Once it opened, he stared at the items that represented his past. It looked like he might have to use them again.
So, it's happening just the way you predicted, Lelouch-sama.