"Approaching the island , m'lady."
Golden eyes slowly opened in response to the pilot, returning from the depths of deep meditation as its owner exhaled the breath she hadn't even been aware that she held. Coming back to awareness she looked over the shoulders of her pilot at the destination to which she had been summoned.
It was a small island that laid before the knightmare frame she rode passenger on, not large enough to be of any long term worth, but small enough to be ignored. A small jungle doninated most of the island, but to the east of the island was a large beach house looking out to the ocean.
It would be something you'd expect for a rich man or woman as an escape to go and do whatever it is they did with their obscene windfalls. However, in actuality, it was the home of a woman who had merely wanted to disappear from the world in spite of all she had done for it. The very same woman who had summoned her to the island.
The Knightmare then decelerated, a faint lurch causing her body to slowly lean forward as inertia exacted its truth upon her. As it slowed she could feel the frame translate from its flight to bipedal, coming to test upon the landing pad, coming to a rest finally as both the pilot and herself unfastened their respective safety harnesses as the cockpit bloc's hatch opened for them and she moved to exit it, the pilot offering her a hand before he moved to exit.
"You can go Captain," she stated simply, "I'm probably going to be here a few days.
"But, My Lady, my orders are-"
"I know your orders and I'm countermanding them. The Empress will understand. Go home and see your daughter, I'll make sure to summon you when I'm ready to return."
"Thank you M'Lady," the captain replied with a formal bow before she stepped away from the Knightmare as it climbed into the sky on its energy ring system, transformed, and flew off towards the massive orbital elevator in the distance.
Shouldering her small bag, she turned for the small elevator at the end of the pad and stepped in. The doors then closed behind her before descending to the ground level, coming to a stop at its destination the door slid open to reveal a light-green-haired, blue-eyed man dressed in the formal attire of a Knight of the Round.
Seeing her as the door opened the man flashed her the type of ladykiller smile the man's father always wore, it was still a damn mystery to her how his father and mother became involved, being of such uniqueness.
"Lord Weinberg, you're several hundred years too early to believe you could be able to get me to melt in a puddle to your charms," she deadpanned.
The Knight's grin widened slightly as he gave a small bow.
"That it may be, but one can only improve his skills by using it upon the most fine of women."
"You mean the world's oldest cougar," she retorted with a dismissive snort while shaking her head with a smirk, the young man was becoming an even better charmer than his father had been at that age.
"Absolutely not, m'lady, you are but the finest wine, aged to perfection, and it would be a shame to the world if there were not someone to enjoy the fruits of such a wonderful creation."
Definitely a lot better, she thought.
"And what would your mother think of this?"
"She'd probably take me out for a drink and congratulate me if I were successful," Valentine Weinberg, Knight of Three and youngest son of Gino and Nonette Weinberg, stated with an even wider smile as Catarine snickered.
"Nine," she stated simply, watching the younger man light up, "a lot better than last time. Keep it up and you might actually succeed."
The Knight of the Round nodded cracking an even wider smile on his face, looking like a Cheshire cat. It was a game that had been going on for a couple years now since she had first encountered the young man and he had tried to pull some moves on her, it was all mainly for her own amusement, but then again she would admit that sometimes there was that itch that needed to be scratched. It still didn't mean that a gentleman didn't have to work for it.
"Next time I'll get that ten, Milady," he responded with a hint of cockiness in his tone.
"I bet you will," she murmured under her breath, before focusing on the task at hand, why she was here, "so how's she doing?"
The smile faded away as the Knight turned and looked back the way towards the house. Catarine took that as the invitation to begin walking and took it as she proceeded forward, Valentine falling in behind her.
"She stopped the treatments last week," he stated as professionally as he could, though she could tell he was at a loss, the subject they were talking about was a legend to the world, to do what she was doing just seemed completely contrary to what she had always been, "it's like she has decided to give up."
Catarine knew better, she had known the woman for over forty years now. She had known her through three wars, two in which she fought and a third in which she had led, but the enemy now wasn't on the outside, it was her very body that was betraying her.
Her best friend was dying.
"Have you been paying attention to the elections," he asked quietly as they came to the door leading into the house, "she refuses to let anyone listen to it around her and we don't want to insult her by dismissing her wishes."
She glanced back at the young Knight who looked at her expectantly, before sighing.
"Down eight," she stated simply, opening the door now.
"We still have a day, milady, you never know what can happen in that time."
She didn't even deign to respond, opening the door and sliding in, the door closing behind her. She knew he was trying to assuage her of the idea that the election would turn around, but the fact of the matter was that she didn't need it.
Stepping further into the house now she glanced around the arrangements, taking the time to look over the array of pictures that were lining hall as she quietly sauntered in. She had to admit, it was always a trip down memory lane looking down the various pictures and holos that made up a significant chunk of her friends life. She could only smile at a lot of them, the memories just as vivid for her as she knew the owner of the pictures before she ended up in the spacious living room. Taking her bag and placing it down on one of the couches, she spied one of the larger pictures on the wall, this one had never changed in its placement in all of the years she had come here.
It was a picture from forty years ago, right after the Black Knights had fled Japan as a massive gaggle of Zero's, the mere memory causing a smirk to surface, but it was a picture of a red-headed woman in the cockpit of the Guren Kashoshiki, sitting straight up in the saddle and talking to a man on her right who was leaned over the side of the cockpit intently listening to her, a relaxed smile on her face, though nothing could be seen of the man. Of course, there was a reason for that, it was Zero after all, no one could see behind that mask and clothing, but she knew that Zero was relaxed and listening intently at something. If memory served her right, they were just talking about the upgrades and how to use it in the future. At least, that was what Lelouch had told her, she had a sneaking suspicion there was a bit more to it than that.
The picture had been snapped by a Japanese civilian that had been passing by on the desk, he had left everything in Japan for the promise made by the Black Knights for freedom. It was a lucky snapshot that eventually found its way into the owner's hands, giving her the glimpse of a happier time, a time before…
Catarine shook her head, dispelling that train of thought as she divested herself of her jacket and headed towards where she knew her subject was likely at, moving towards the back of the house and coming to a pair of sliding glass doors that led out onto the deck, sliding it open and stepping out and getting blasted by the ocean breeze that carried a warm sickly heat over and through her. Taking a moment to acclimate to it the change from heat to climate-controlled temperature back to heat, she then moved to the edge of the massive deck to look down at the beach below the deck and spied a pair of umbrellas and lawn chairs on the sandy expanse before her.
Knowing that the source of her summons was there, she decided to take her time moving down the stairs and onto the sand, deciding to remove her shoes and allow her feet freedom and the ability to feel the sand beneath it before moving to approach. She could only smile as she heard the sounds of talking from the small set as she saw over her target's shoulder a small holo display of a news channel discussing the election that was to finish tomorrow.
"Again, we don't need a dynasty leading the UFN, it was bad enough with the Britannian Empire, but that is not how a democratically led entity should operate. If we continue down this road-"
The program closed back into the small device of its owner's hand as the woman shifted slightly, her head tilting up akin to how a rabbit would raise its head as it was determining if there was a threat in the area.
"You know your bodyguards are all stepping on pins and needles not to have anything to do with knowing about the election and here you are streaming it for yourself," Catarine observed in mock chastisement as she came in between the two beach chairs and taking a look at the offender.
The woman before her was the very epitome of aging gracefully, even though it had been forty years since they had first met she still retained much of the features that were distinctive, yet weathered into a regal flare that made her seem ethereal. Crimson hair spiked up in a distinctive spiked style that allowed bangs to frame a face that had lost some of the sharpness with age that seemed to enhance the pair of sapphire blue eyes that had belied an intelligence that had years of honing.
"C.C," Dowager Princess Kallen Kozuki-Stadtfeld vi Britannia, the Crimson Flash, Knight of Zero, Supreme Commander of the Black Knights, Chairwoman of the United Federation of Nations, greeted as she proceeded to get up and gather the now blond-haired immortal in a hug, a warm smile on her face.
C.C., now under the guise of Lady Catarine DuPont, one of the advisors in Empress Nunnally vi Britannia's inner circle, returned the hug equally as if the woman were a sister, which in a way they were.
Holding it long enough for the two who haven't seen each other for over a year, they broke it off and looked over one another.
"You haven't aged a day," Kallen joked, earning a wry chuckle from the blond.
"And you've aged like a fine wine," she returned.
The redhead burst out with a laugh.
"So out of compliments to give you copy Valentine," she asked, trying to restrain her mirth.
"He's been hitting on you," C.C. asked with an arched eyebrow.
"Valentine will hit on anyone of the opposite sex as long as they are attractive enough," Kallen responded with a laugh, "though I think it's more practice is the reason he does it with me. I find it kind of sweet, to be honest. Then again, he may just have his father's thing for older women. But where are my manners, please, take a seat, you must be exhausted, I only asked you to come yesterday."
She really wasn't exhausted, but she knew Kallen knew she was only going through the formalities. To be perfectly honest, she knew Kallen was lonely, it had been almost ten years since she had disappeared from the public, handling very few interactions with the world outside of her close ones. The only times she had reappeared on the world stage was for a handful of speeches, dedications, and conferences...and...
Safe to say, most of Kallen's interactions were with the guard detail that protected her at all times, which usually included two Knights of the Round, Britannia never forgot its debts.
She took the beach chair, leaning back in its comfortable cushioning as she admired the sight before her. It wasn't just the beach and the ocean, but also the massive structure in the distance that seemed to reach up into the heavens, the Lelouch vi Britannia Space Elevator, the first of several space elevators that had brought humanity to the stars and the crown jewel of Kallen's twenty year reign as the Chairwoman if the UFN. She had to wonder why Kallen had chosen here of all placed, or if maybe it was to serve as a reminder to herself of what she had lost and what she had achieved in HIS stead.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a beer that appeared in her vision, the cap already removed and a lemon on the lip of the bottle to enhance the flavor of the pale ale.
"Thank you," she noted as Kallen went back to sipping her own. It was quite different to see her dressed in shorts and a tee, but it also spoke a lot towards her mentality now.
"So how's everything," Kallen asked, looking out towards the elevator.
"The Directorate is going well, in between trips to Luna and dealing with the random upstart it's been quiet. Nunnally sends her best."
Kallen nodded, the Empress Britannia was the sister that Kallen never had, especially so after the death of Lelouch.
"I hear Suzaku refuses to step down," Kallen idly noted, taking another drink of her beer.
"There's a running bet within the Black Knights that the only way that the Supreme Commander of the Black Knights will change is when they drag Suzaku's mummified body out of his office."
Kallen laughed with a shake of the head and a muttered, "I could have told you that."
After Kallen had stepped down as the Supreme Commander of the Black Knights Suzaku had taken over command of it and surprisingly, he had been an effective administrator and leader. The fact that he also held the nominal rank of the Knight of One had stuck in the craw of some but it had never compromised him the entire time, in fact, he had been even more fair and impartial than Kallen in the ministrations of his duties.
They both became silent as C.C. sipped her own beer, allowing the mixture of the lager and the lemon to rest on her tongue for a moment before swallowing, it was a pleasant taste and she could see why Kallen imbibed in the drink. But she was gathering herself to move on to more sensitive things. She could have talked about how Lloyd was on the verge of another breakthrough on a new drive system with Cecile, or how Gino and Nonette had another grandchild on the way, or even how Jeremiah's orange business was doing. They were all happy things, but she knew the deeper meaning of what her visit entailed.
Sighing, she placed the beer down and looked over at Kallen whose eyes had narrowed in silent contemplation, she knew the issue the immortal was going to bring up.
"Valentine mentioned to me you stopped your treatments," she said quietly, watching Kallen stiffen, her eyes then slid shut as she quietly cursed before opening them again, seemingly collecting herself.
"He did, did he," the redhead asked in a whisper.
"So it's true, then, you've given up," it hadn't been intended to be critical, but it came out in a patronizing tone. Even now, it was hard to see Kallen ever giving up on anything, but the evidence was there.
She remembered five years ago when it had first happened, when she had received a call from the redhead with the simple and shattering news, she had heart cancer and it was terminal. The grief in the warrior's tone had been palpable in spite of the tens of thousands of kilometers distance between them, how Kallen had just seemed so fragile and ready to break. But she had refused to go down, she wanted to see some things through, she had not been specific with her back then, but she hadn't pried either, the wounds had been reopened with the fact that she would outlive yet another friend just when she had become comfortable with making them.
A weary sigh escaped Kallen's lips.
"I'm tired, C.C.. I've been fighting this for five years, wondering every night if the next day will be the last that I would be able to live. if the damnable irony of my malady would finally cause enough damage to take my life. I'm tired of waking up in the middle of the night choking for air simply because my treatments and heart are robbing me of my strength. I'm tired of the doctor's saying they can extend my life a few more months by doing this treatment or that treatment as they treat me as if I were one of their experiments…"
She cut herself off as her eyes clenched shut, suddenly taking long breaths through clenched teeth, it was obvious that she had worked herself up and was having another episode, it took a few minutes as C.C. had dropped everything and came over to her, wrapping her arms around her comrade and battle sister. Finally, her breathing normalized as tears trekked down from blue eyes that held so much pain and sadness in them.
"I'm just tired," she said quietly, slowly disentangling herself from the immortal's embrace, "I just want to choose how I go out, instead of prolonging a losing battle."
"That's why you summoned me," C.C. said quietly at the dawning realization, with Kallen nodding mutely.
"I'm afraid," she finally said, the fear rising to the surface in those too-expressive eyes, "I just don't want to be alone when I finally do it."
Suicide, C.C. though, both appalled and saddened at the same time at what her friend was saying. It was so hard to see how far Kallen had fallen, from the confident and at times necessarily cruel commander who hadn't bat an eyelash as she sent wave after wave of men and women into the firing range of the Damocles' FLEIJA's as if it was like ordering a steak to this withdrawn, sad, and terrified woman who sought her best friend out just so she would not be alone. She hated suicide, it was the most wasteful and inhuman thing a person could do, to take one's own life was despicable in her view.
"You don't need to do it," she stated simply, a little of her old tone slipping in, she really didn't want to cry in front of Kallen, even as she brushed a stray tear off the redhead's cheek, "I'll help you."
Sapphire eyes widened even as the redhead began shaking her head, but she put an end to that as she pulled Kallen into another hug, just letting the woman know that she wasn't alone. This island exile really had gotten to her in a lot of ways, she idly realized as Kallen started crying, this time freely expressing herself as she gathered C.C. in a tight hug like a child hugging a teddy bear for protection and safety from the harsh realities of the world.
This went on a few moments before it was gone, Kallen able to collect herself once again, as she leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes for a moment.
"Thank you," she murmured.
You don't need to thank me, C.C. thought, but merely returned the customary response It was a lot more serious situation than just a thank you should suffice for, but she didn't want to dwell upon that.
"Can we wait until tomorrow," Kallen continued, as if she were trying to urge herself onwards in spite of everything, it was the type of disassociation C.C. had seen over the years, treating it as clinically as possible in order to avoid the ramifications of their upcoming actions. She wanted to try and talk Kallen out of it so badly, but she didn't have anything to work with, there was no miracle in her future to save her life, in an era in which even people of her generation were living normally into their 120s, Kallen would be cut down well before her prime. It just wasn't fair and she wasn't going to deny her what she felt was right, "I want to see through the election."
"We can do that," C.C. said quietly as she returned back to her chair, the beer forgotten as it was already warmed to a too bitter of a taste, just how long had they been out here, she wondered.
"Thank you, C.C., I don't know what I would have done…or where I would have been without you."
"You shouldn't be thanking me, Kallen, really. You should be thanking him," she replied bittersweetly, closing her eyes, then feeling another beer magically appear, Kallen seemingly wanting to keep up her host role in spite of what had just transpired, "if it wasn't for him I would never have been out of that capsule. If it wasn't for him there would have never been a revolution. If it wasn't for him…"
"I would have never known love," Kallen finished with a wan smile, it was an understanding between the two women, the man that they were referring to was someone that they both loved. Maybe, in some other universe, C.C. had always insisted that there multiple causalities that existed, they would have lived a full life with the man they loved.
Kallen had recovered a new beer for herself as they both drank from their respective beverages, staring in the distance at the structure named after the very man that had claimed their hearts.
"You know," Kallen said after what seemed like an eternity, "I once read a play that mentioned how Helen of Troy's face launched a thousand ships in the pursuit of her return. I wonder if he ever knew how five words could do so much…"
"I think love can do a lot of things," C.C. responded knowingly, watching out of the corner of her eye as her friend assumed a faraway look in her eyes, remembering something from so long ago.
"Kallen," the redhead whispered…
A/N: So this is the beginning of yet another story that had rattled into my mind a couple days ago and would not get the hell out of my mind in spite of the work I have been doing on Catharsis & Apotheosis, Ice & Fire (NO, they are not dead!), and The Illusive Emperor. I still have some work to do on Interview with the Crimson Lotus (which requires me to rewatch Code Geass, when I get the time who knows).
Anyways, for those of you paying the attention there will be quite a few changes in the close future, maybe some of you have already picked up on it, maybe you havent't. Hopefullly I will find the time in the near future to post up the next chapter to all of the stories I have previously listed, that is, after I weather the last 2 weeks of my school term. 2 papers, several assignments, all fun and games.
Well, that does it for now, don't hesitate to leave a review or if you feel like PMing me I won't mind. If you have the time, take a gander over on The Illusive Emperor if you are a fan of Mass Effect and Code Geass, it might just be the story for you. It should update tomorrow if everything goes well enough.
Until then, later.