Rebel Against the Night
Code Geass is owned by Sunrise, Inc. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is owned by Hasbro and created by Lauren Faust. This is a fan-based work not intended for commercial purposes.
Chapter 2: The Terrible Aftermath
The Ashford Academy gymnasium was packed full of ponies. Most of them were almost, but not quite, fully grown. Those that were more mature were outfitted in military attire hastily cut and hemmed in order to fit their new bodies. The teenage ponies whispered to each other, careful not to be heard by the soldiers.
“I thought they cancelled classes.” A winged colt griped. He had pear-colored fur, a blue mane, and the image of a motorcycle on his hind quarter. “You’d think school would be out after we got turned into horses.”
“How am I supposed to know?” A horned filly asked rhetorically. Her dark green mane was arranged in a pair of pigtails, and her coat of fur was vanilla white. Her flank mark was an atomic nucleus surrounded by four orbiting electrons. She sat on her rear and cuddled up in order to conceal her naked body. “I don’t have all the answers, Rivalz.”
“You don’t have to be so rude, Nina.” Rivalz frowned. “Hey Chief, what’s gotten into her?” Rivalz spoke to another horned filly with a short blonde mane, sky blue fur, and a smiling sun on her flank. Unlike the others, she was staring listlessly out into space and detached from the world around her. “Yoo hoo, Milly?”
“You know why she’s upset, Rivalz,” Milly deadpanned.
“Oh right,” said Rivalz who just realized the obvious. Just then, the room became silent as a stallion trotted on the stage. A lapel pin in the shape of a family crest fastened the blue cape, which concealed his flank symbol, around his neck. His clothes were also poorly hemmed together. He had a white mane and maroon fur.
“Good morning, loyal citizens of Britannia,” said the stallion. “My name is Baron Alexander Franklin. If you studied your history as good students should, you should know of the patriotism that my ancestors embodied.” He held his chin up and smiled proudly. “I am a direct descendent of Benjamin Franklin, the man who warned the Duke of Britannia about Washington’s Rebellion and stopped the evils of democracy from infecting our homeland.”
“Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin turned on Washington because he was promised nobility.” A winged colt whispered to one of his friends.
“Who said that!” The baron leaped off staged. “It was you, wasn’t it!” The other students backed away from the winged colt. “Guards, escort this slanderer off the premises. My ancestor was motivated by patriotism, not by his own personal gain.”
“Yes my lord,” said two of the soldiers who took hold of the winged colt and dragged him outside.”
Baron Franklin climbed back on stage. “Now, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, my family knows the meaning of service to the empire. And I hope you young Britannians do as well.” The baron pontificated for another hour on the virtues of patriotism. It was only when he noticed his own men dozing off did the baron cut to the chase. “Now everyone listen up!” He yelled loud enough to stir the sleeping ponies. “The Viceroy has issued orders establishing this campus as an emergency shelter should the Numbers invade the Tokyo Settlement and that all able-bodied students will make themselves available for conscription.”
“We’re being drafted?!?’ Rivalz blurted out.
“Yes, but as the emergency magistrate for this sector, I can choose how to allocate our forces. Since none of you are trained soldiers, you will serve as support personnel, but don’t think you won’t be targets. If those savages somehow manage to breach our defenses, they will consider you to be enemy combatants. So be ready to fight if worse comes to worse.”
The baron then went on about food rations and warnings to not eat meat due to the cases of food poisoning that resulted from herbivores trying to live off an omnivore’s diet. While the baron was speaking, a tiny foal, who, unlike the others, had no symbol on her flank and wandered around the gymnasium carrying around a medicine bottle in her mouth.
“Hey little girl, whacha doing here?” Rivalz asked. “Don’t you know this is a school for big boys and big girls?”
The filly spat out the medicine bottle. “I know that, sir,” said the foal. Judging by her voice, she couldn’t be older than seven. “But my daddy is a teacher and I have to give him his medicine. Mommy says Daddy has to take his medicine or his blood will be high.”
“If you tell me your daddy’s name, I can help you find him.”
“Daddy’s name is ‘Daddy’.”
Rivalz frowned. He tried a different approach. “Then tell me your last name.”
“My name is Abigail Wilhelm,” the foal answered.
“Oh, your father is the history teacher. I’ll take you to him.” The two cut through the crowd and made their way back into the school.
“Where are we going, mister?”
“Inside the school. I think your dad is in his homeroom.” They trotted down the hall and stopped in front of room S-122. Rivalz stuck his head through the door. “Professor Wilhelm? Are you here?”
He caught sight of several ponies in the classroom. Two of them, a stallion and mare, were fully grown. The other two were foals even younger than Abigail and, like Abigail, had no symbols on their flanks. The mare was sitting down nestling the youngest foal in her forelegs and rocking back and forth. The middle child was in the corner playing with a pile of toy Knightmare frames. The stallion was trying to write something down, but his lips seemed to lack the dexterity that he used to have when he had fingers. None of the paper thrown haphazardly around the garbage can was legible. “I can’t even write a goodbye letter.”
“Hey Professor Wilhelm,” Rivalz waved a hoof, “I found your daughter. She was looking for you in the gymnasium.”
“Abigail, I told you to stay with us,” the professor admonished his daughter firmly. Abigail galloped to the desk and dropped off the medicine.
“But Daddy, Mommy said you have to take your medicine to feel better. Mommy, you said Daddy has to take his medicine.”
“Your Daddy doesn’t have to take his medicine anymore,” the mother said with a blank expression as she rocked her foal. “He doesn’t need it anymore.”
“I have to speak with my wife in private,” said Wilhelm, “could you give us some privacy, Mr. Cardemonde?”
“Sure thing, professor,” said Rivalz.
Lelouch trotted along the bleak alleys beneath the Tokyo Settlement superstructure. The Zero cape and mask were discarded. For now, he was Lelouch Lamperouge, the Britannian student who had the ‘bad timing’ of being caught outside the Settlement in the middle of a disaster. Lelouch groped around in the dark trying to find his way around the ground level area. The sun came up a few hours ago but only indirect sunlight made it to the ground level and even that diminished as one goes deeper into the settlement. Something caught Lelouch’s hoof, and the Britannian prince-in-exile tripped and fell. Lelouch knew he wouldn’t get anywhere like this. After picking himself up, he concentrated on making his horn glow as Tamaki did his. Instead, random objects floated around until Lelouch was encircled by levitated items that were enveloped in a ghostly aura.
“If you only knew how creepy that looks,” a voice called out from the shadows. Lelouch lost his concentration, and the objects came crashing down. He turned and saw a figure with a long mane and what looked like a dark stain all over her face.
“C.C., where’s Nunnally!” Lelouch demanded. “Why aren’t you with her?”
“I didn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s not like I wanted to take a header from the top floor of the settlement and crack my skull open.” C.C. pointed to the dark blotch on her face. The plunge from the top level of the settlement was only a minor inconvenience since C.C. still retained her Immortality Code even after being transformed. “The Viceroy declared martial law and took control of Ashford Academy. It was either leave or be captured by Britannia again.”
“How is Nunnally?”
“She’s safe, Lelouch-scared, but safe.”
“I’d feel better if I could be there for her.”
“That won’t be easy to do. Your half-sister placed the Tokyo Settlement on lockdown. They won’t let you in.”
“You know I can be persuasive,” Lelouch activated his Geass.
“You can persuade people, not barricades. Last time I checked, Cornelia conscripted the student body and order them to pile all the junk they could carry on top of the emergency exits.”
Lelouch stomped his hoof. “Why does everything have to be so difficult?” He then fell to his knees. “My little sister is up there alone and fate throws one road block after another.”
“Quit your whining, Lelouch,” C.C. ridiculed.
Lelouch looked up at C.C. and glared angrily at her. “Don’t you dare mock me!”
“Why shouldn’t I? You’re Zero, the one that swore to destroy Britannia. If you’re able to topple an empire, then rescuing your little sister should be a menial task in comparison.”
The scowl that Lelouch wore fell off and was replaced by first a smirk and then by a chuckle. Lelouch took a deep breath and exhaled. “You’re right C.C. Thanks for the swift kick in the rear. I needed it. Come on, we have some errands to run before meeting up with the others.” The two headed back to Shinjuku. As they were trotting towards the edge of the settlement, the darkness faded. C.C., who was at the rear, stared at Lelouch’s flank, which had the image of a black king chess piece on it. The light also showed the full extent of C.C.'s own transformation. The immortal mare had bright green mane and white coat of fur.
“By the way, nice tattoo,” C.C. joked.
Lelouch growled. “That’s not funny. The last thing I need are distinguishing marks. The Viceroy already knows what my fur and hair color are.” Lelouch then looked at C.C.’s flank. “So, should I call you Infinity Girl for now on?”
C.C. instinctively glanced at the infinity symbol on her own flank and replied, “only if you like being called Chess Boy.” Lelouch chuckled at the return jab.
“So, you can laugh without sounding evil,” C.C. grinned.
The bucket brigade branched out in all directions and snaked around the dilapidated buildings from the ever-growing perimeter of the fire. The desperate citizens of the Shinjuku ghetto took water from the homes of Elevens whose indoor plumbing still worked. They passed the buckets back and forth with their mouths. At the end of the line, the last pony tipped the bucket over since tossing the water with their mouths was too awkward. Other ponies were beating smaller fire with articles of clothing they could no longer wear.
Suddenly, a piece of the wing sticking through the blazing building fell when the inferno consumed too much of the building’s structure to hold it up. The wing broke apart into numerous red hot aluminum fragments. A portion of the bucket brigade was plummeted by the burning wreckage. The ponies that survived the initial pummeling shrieked in agony. Some of ponies in the bucket brigade broke rank and raced to aid their fallen comrades. They did all they could to smother the flames and free their fellow Japanese from the debris. Tamaki directed all of his concentration on the wreckage. His horn lit up, but the debris wouldn’t budge. He kicked ground and snorted just like a horse.
“What are you standing around for!” Ohgi yelled. “Grab a bucket.” He ran over to the segment of the bucket brigade and pointed to the airliner wreckage. “Concentrate on that area! We have people on the other side that’s burning to death!” A pony in the bucket brigade was momentarily distracted by the compass on Ohgi’s hind quarter. “Pay attention!” Ohgi yelled at the daydreaming pony.
The bucket brigade shifted position and began dumping water on the wreckage. Slowly, the flames died down enough to attempt a rescue. Fragments of wreckage were kicked away until a clear path formed. The rescue team examined the bodies one by one looking for survivors. Out of the nine, only one was still among the living. She was screaming in pain. Most of her skin was charred, and a chunk of her horn had broken off.
“Somebody, get a wheel barrel, a cot, anything!” Ohgi ordered. “We have to move this body!”
Minami galloped to Ohgi’s side. “Let me try that telekinesis stuff.”
Oghi nodded. “Go ahead. We don’t have much of a choice.”
Minami concentrated on the badly injured mare. The horn glowed with a light hue like Lelouch’s, but the burn victim didn’t levitate off the ground. Rather, she stopped screaming and became at ease. Minami, seeing that he wasn’t making any progress in moving the victim, stopped using his powers. The mare gritted her teeth and then cried out.
“Please,” she pleaded, “don’t stop doing what you were doing! It hurts a lot worse if you stop!” Minami focused on the mare and activated his powers. Again, the pain subsided. “I think I can move on my own now. Just keep using that power of yours.” The mare struggled back up and slowly walked out of the pile of debris with Minami close by. Minami stayed with the inflicted mare for about thirty minutes and tended to her wounds. In that time, the severity of the burns lessened.
“Ma’am,” said Minami, “I have to go back and help. Please bear with it until I come back.” The aura around his horn dissipated.
“It’s alright,” said the mare, “I’m feeling better now. It still hurts, but no where near as bad as before. Thank you.” Minami was about to go back to the bucket brigade when the mare called out to him. “That picture on your hind quarter-it suits you.” Minami glanced at the pattern on his flank. It looked like a stethoscope and band-aid.
“I can’t believe Shirley is still playing that silly stranger game with Lelouch.” Rivalz said. He, Milly, and Nina walked through the chapel looking for candles for the soldiers stationed at Ashford Academy.
“You said something, Rivalz?” Milly said in a detached tone of voice.
“Milly, pay attention,” Rivalz scolded. “I said Shirley is still playing strangers with Lelouch. I asked her if she visited Nunnally and that she needed cheering up since Lelouch went missing. And then she had the nerve to ask me if they were related. Couldn’t you set her straight? I mean, it’s practically the apocalypse, and she’s acting like some bratty little kid.” Unbeknown to Rivalz and Milly, earlier on, Shirley discovered that Lelouch was the terrorist Zero and that Lelouch used his Geass to erase him from her memories as a way of keeping Shirley at a distance and protecting her from the consequences of the actions he took as Zero. Rivalz looked around the chapel. “Now, where did they keep the rest of the candles?”
“Don’t make a big deal of it.” Milly kept staring into empty space and didn’t even bother to face Rivalz. “We all have our ways of coping.”
“How can you be so calm about this? Lelouch is missing and everyone is acting like it’s no big deal, even Shirley.”
“Will you shut up Rivalz!” Nina yelled.
Rivalz was in shock by his friend’s outburst. “Nina! What’s gotten into you?”
“Have you gone blind?” Nina held up her foreleg. “We’re been turned into freaks, and all you can do is gripe about Lelouch and Shirley’s love life!”
“Heh,” Rivalz grunted, “I can’t believe it, a mouse that roars.”
“Do I look like a mouse to you? I’m a farm animal!”
“Calm down Nina,” Milly deadpanned, “you too Rivalz. Bickering isn’t going to make us human again.”
“Well you’re not the only one, Nina,” Rivalz yelled back at her. “How about caring about someone other than yourself?”
“I’m not being selfish!”
“Like hell you’re not! Lelouch could be dead for all we know and you’re worried about your looks, which you didn’t have much of to begin with.”
Nina slapped Rivalz across the face and stormed off. The blow sent Rivalz crashing into the floor. As she stormed away, Nina caught a glimpse of her reflection. The dressing room where the minister changed into his priestly garbs was left open. On the door was a full-size mirror. Nina struck the door repeatedly reducing the mirror into shards of broken glass.
“What a stupid place to put a mirror!” Nina shrieked as she galloped out of the chapel.
Rivalz rubbed his head. “Oh man, someone needs to tell Nina that open-hand slaps can be fatal nowadays.” Milly just stared indifferently at Rivalz. Suddenly, there was screaming outside. Rivalz shook off the concussion and raced towards its source. Rivalz galloped out the chapel, looked up, and saw Abigail on the top floor of the bell tower.
“Daddy’s throwing us! Daddy’s throwing us!” She cried out.
Rivalz ascended the stairway. On the way up, he could hear the child pleading. “Please Daddy, I don’t mind being a pony. Please don’t throw me, Daddy.”
“Don’t be afraid, Abigail, Daddy promises it won’t hurt.” Rivalz recognized the voice as Professor Wilhelm’s.
Rivalz made it to the top floor and saw his teacher pinning Abigail down. In front of them was the guard rail that separated them from a six-story fall. Rivalz was shaking uncontrollably. “Professor Wilhelm, please don’t. Can’t we talk this over?” He stuttered. “Come on professor, you don’t want to do this, right?”
“I don’t,” Wilhelm choked, “but I can’t let my children suffer.” Professor Wilhelm bit into his daughter’s mane and threw her off.
Rivalz screamed in terror. “Oh God, why did you, professor?” he said in disbelief. The shock of watching his history teacher murdering his own daughter froze Rivalz in place. Professor Wilhelm then climbed over the guard rail and dived out head first. Rivalz then remembered, his professor also had a wife and two more young children, one was just an infant. Rivalz ran to the window. At the base of the bell tower was the lifeless bodies of the Wilhelm family.
Rivalz looked to this right and saw Milly staring down with eyes bulging.
“Milly, are you okay?” Rivalz asked.
“I’ll be okay,” Milly deadpanned while still looking at the horror below with eyes wide open.
Lelouch and C.C. traveled along was left of the illustrious Koshu-Kaido Avenue. Much like any other location in Shinjuku, it was a wasteland: cracked roads and crumbling buildings. It was easy to imagine Lelouch walking on the bottom of a dried river bed nestled between chalky canyon walls. Just then, a winged pony stumbled and fell in front of them.
“Excuse me, sir,” she said a cordial tone, “could you help me up? I seemed to have tripped on something.” C.C. tried to reach down and help her up with her mouth, but the winged mare backed away. “Why are you trying to bite me?”
“I’m trying to help you up the best way I know how.”
“You could have offered me a hand,” the winged mare said as she got on all four. “I’ll get up myself,” and then she got up on her hind legs. “I have to hurry up and get ready. Mr. Kobayashi invited me to dine out, and I’m sure he’s planning on offering me the job over dinner.” The winged mare then fell back on the ground. “Why am I losing my balance?”
“You’ve been changed that why...” Lelouch said before he was stopped in mid-sentence by a terrible realization.
“That girl,” C.C. asked, “is on Refrain, isn’t she?”
Lelouch galloped down the alley where the winged mare came from. C.C. followed him. On the other end of the alley were hundreds of ponies caught up in their own little world. Many of them were trying in vain to force their bodies to take up bipedal motion again only to fall back down on the ground. A few were badly bruised up from the repeated falls. Some of them were speaking to lost relatives and lovers who weren’t there. Others imaged days when they lived better lives. One of them was picking food from garbage cans while commenting on the selection from the afternoon buffet. Another one was sorting through random trash as though they were legal documents.
Lelouch looked around for one of the more coherent addicts. He overheard one singing pop songs. “I will be your bullet train lover. We’ll embrace while riding on the Toei Oedo Line.” He was rather good at it. He must have been a singer before the occupation, Lelouch thought.
“Hey you,” said Lelouch, “can you understand what I’m saying.”
“Oh don’t mess up my good time,” said the junkie, “I’m back at the J-Pop café.” Some of the heavy Refrain addicts have been under the influence enough to tell the difference between reality and their drug-induced fantasy.
“I’ll leave you alone, but first tell me where can I score some Refrain?”
The junkie stallion pointed to a building one-half block away. “Go to the store with the ‘Fresh Sushi For Sale’ sign, knock on the door, and ask for a walk down memory lane. The dealer’s a Britannian named Roy Wellington, but don’t let that put you off. He’s got the best Refrain in Shinjuku.”
“Thank,” said Lelouch.
“Wellington, isn’t he the earl dealing in Refrain that got away?” C.C. asked.
Lelouch nodded. “The bastard gave us the slip in that raid on the docks last month. He won’t slip past me twice. I’ll at least clear up that loose end.”
C.C. looked back at the mob of junkies. “I’ve never seen so many Refrain addicts in one place. I don’t recognize most of them. They don’t look like the usual customers.”
“Judging by the severity of the hallucination, it must be their first time taking it. Otherwise, their bodies would have built up a tolerance to it.”
“You’re not saying that they’re taking Refrain because they were turned into horses?”
“Why not? If Refrain makes one relive the past, why wouldn’t people want to go back to the time when they were human?” When they got to the door, Lelouch put his hoof in front of C.C.’s mouth. “Keep quiet. I don’t want to tip him off.” Lelouch knocked on the door. “I want to take a walk down memory lane.”
“Go away!” A voice on the other side of the door called out. “I’m dancing with a lovely young lady and wish not to be disturbed.”
Lelouch turned to his compatriot. “C.C., do you mind?”
“Not at all,” said C.C. She turned around and kicked the door down with her hind legs. They barged into the building only to find a stallion with a ruffled mane and greased-up goatee dancing with a chair.”
“Lady Straus, I didn’t know you moved so gracefully.” Empty Refrain vials littered the floor. “Get the hell out of here, Elevens.” He then turned to the chair and said, “oh don’t you believe those nasty rumors that I sell drugs to those dirty Elevens.”
“I didn’t know Earl Wellington sampled his own merchandise,” C.C. commented.
“He didn’t,” said Lelouch, “at least he used to. According to my informants, the man was afraid to even handle an empty syringe.”
Lelouch and C.C. watched as the Refrain dealer was caught up in the delusion of his own narcotic; a futile attempt to keep the very thing he had so little of to begin with: his humanity.
Rivalz was issued the morbid chore of pulling the cart carrying the dead bodies of the Wilhelm family. Because virtually all automation has come to a halt, the Viceroy had declared martial law in the Tokyo Settlement. He was constricted into service by the baron assigned as magistrate over Ashford Academy, but he didn’t mind taking the bodies of the children to their final resting place. He did, however, hate taking their murderous parents as well. As far as Rivalz was concerned, they should be tossed a landfill with the rest of the refuge.
He placed the candleholder he was carrying in his mouth on the ground, opened his saddlebag with his mouth, and took out a piece of paper. The address given to him took him to the lower levels of the Tokyo Settlement, where the only light source was candles. “This can’t be the right place” he said to himself as he checked the address again. In front of him was a chain link fence topped with razor wire. It was the settlement waste cycling plant where biodegradable refuge was processed. The burning stench gave Rivalz a sour look on his face. He tried to fan away the odor, but the vile smell stayed in the air. Rivalz decided the best course of action was to trot in and ask around for the city morgue.
After looking around, he caught sight of two stallions standing in front of row upon row of burning piles: one was a mundane and the other one was horned. The mundane stallion was reading from a book placed on the ground while the horned one was tapping his hoof impatiently.
The stallion reading from the book was an elderly pony with a white mane and a book and cross on his flank. The horned stallion had a stout build and covered in muscles with a trashcan on his.
“Can’t you say one prayer over all of them?” The burly pony griped. “It’ll take forever the way you’re doing it.”
“Show some respect, please,” the elderly pony said.
“Excuse me, but I’m looking for the city morgue.” Rivalz caught their attention. The elderly pony stopped reading and walked up to Rivalz.
“I’m afraid this is the city morgue for now, young man. I’m Reverent Lancaster. The actual morgue is filled to capacity, and because of the lockdown, we can’t bury anyone. We have to cremate the bodies, instead.”
“Don’t tell me this whole family committed suicide? How pathetic,” the burly one bellowed.
“Only the parents did!” Rivalz snapped. “The children were killed.”
“Oh well,” the burly horned stallion said dismissively, “we have to go sometime.”
“Don’t worry young man,” Reverent Lancaster reassured Rivalz, “I’ll see to it they’ll receive a proper burial.”
The burly pony rolled his eyes. “You know how long that’ll take? We got a hundred dumped here in the first hour alone, and you want to give all these losers ‘proper burial’?!? If the Viceroy wasn’t forcing me to do this, I’d walk off the job.”
Rivalz was stunned. “A hundred, in just an hour?”
“And about a few thousand by the end of the day-what did you think we were burning down here.” Rivalz’s blood ran cold. Each pile was once a living person and they stretched as far as Rivalz’ eyes could see.
“They offed themselves like those two,” the burly stallion continued, “though most of them didn’t take anyone else with them.” Me personally, I’d rather be a severed head on life support than die.”
“Yeah sure,” Rivalz half-heartedly concurred.
It was a long day for Tamaki. He has been up since yesterday morning, and now it was almost sunset. He reclined on the hard concrete turf exhausted. The fire was on its last leg. It was scraping the skeletal remains of the airliner and the ashes of the apartments underneath the wreckage for what little combustible material that was left. Kento Sugiyama, Ohgi, Inoue, and Yoshitaka Minami kept him company.
“Hey Shinichirō,” said Inoue.
“I’m not flapping my tail if that’s what you’re...” Tamaki snapped.
“No, that’s not it, Shinichirō,” she said pointing to her hind quarter, “don’t take this the wrong way, but I want you to look at this.” Inoue gestured at the thorny rose on her flank. “You have any idea why we have tattoos, or brands, or whatever the hell these symbols are? Diseases don’t cause this, right?”
“You’re asking the wrong guy.”
Inoue buried her head between her forelegs and glanced over to Tamaki. “I hate it. It’s like having someone write bad things on you after beating you up.” Inoue could tell that Tamaki was puzzled by the comparison when he raised an eyebrow. “Some Britannian girls jumped me and then wrote all over me with a marker after they ripped my clothes off. Being marked feels the same.”
“Well, at least yours isn’t a megaphone. It’s like whoever did this to us is implying I talk too much. At least your tattoo is sort of sexy.”
Inoue glared at Tamaki. “Don’t make me it sound like it’s some sort of consolation prize.” Inoue stormed off.
Tamaki followed Inoue. “Hey, wait up! I didn’t mean anything by it.” Inoue stopped and turned around. Tamaki shamefully averted his eyes from Inoue’s. “Look, I’m sorry about what I said. I guess I do talk too much.”
Inoue huffed. “Look, it isn’t so much you talk too much; it’s that you talk before thinking.” Suddenly, Inoue did a double-take. What she saw caused her temper to flare up again. “Look who came crawling back after we did all the work.” Tamaki and the others fixed their gaze in Inoue’s direction and then at what she was looking at. It was Lelouch and C.C.; the latter was carrying an object on her back. “What the hell are you doing here?” She ran over and stared Lelouch in the eyes.
“Inoue!” Tamaki called out. “And she says I talk before thinking,” he whispered.
“Are you not happy to see me, Inoue?” Lelouch taunted Inoue with the same distinctive echo that he had when wearing his old mask. Lelouch had removed the voice synthesizer from the first Zero mask and sewed it on the new one.
“Like hell I am; not after bolting in the middle of a disaster. We could have used that telekinesis of yours.”
“Come on, Inoue,” Tamaki said in Zero’s defense, “I’m sure Zero has a good reason.”
“Bullshit! There’s nothing he can say that would make me want to follow him.”
“I want to hear Zero’s explanation,” Ohgi spoke up. “Tell us, I really want to know.” He said in a gruff voice.
“I was checking on a hunch. I spoke with my collaborators within the Tokyo Settlement, and they confirmed my suspicions.”
“The Tokyo Settlement is ripe for the taking.” Those words sparked uproar amongst the Black Knights.
“Take the Tokyo Settlement like this!” Inoue yelled.
“I don’t believe he said that,” Ohgi sighed.
“Zero, I support you and all but that’s a tall order,” Tamaki mustered as much tact as he could.
“What was the Britannians’ only real advantage against Japan-the answer is their technology. Without it, their armies are undermanned and isolated from the Britannian homeland while we have all of Japan to pool our resources and manpower from.” The Black Knights were not enthused. Lelouch then decided to lay down some facts on the table. “The Britannians aren’t going away. They will have to be dealt sooner or later, preferably sooner less they have time to make adjustments to their defenses.” That caught the Black Knights’ attention.
Ohgi held up his foreleg until Lelouch looked his direction. “Why not wait them out? They only have a limited food supply.”
“Are you willing to wait at least two years, Ohgi? Britannian settlements are required to carry enough food and drinking water for an extended two-year long siege.”
Inoue interjected. “What about the Britannians in the homeland? What if they send reinforcements? We can’t assume they were changed like we were.”
“That is correct, Inoue.” Lelouch flipped a switch on the cumbersome box. “We can’t make that assumption without evidence, now can we?”
Static and crackling emanated from the box. Lelouch adjusted some knobs on it until voices could be discerned from the static. One of the Black Knights could make out the foreign tongue playing over the radio
“The Chinese Federation too,” Ohgi blurted out.
“You understand that?” Tamaki asked.
Ohgi nodded. “They say everyone in the Chinese Federation has been transformed, and they’re asking if others were affected as well.”
Lelouch changed the channel again. This time, the cry for help was in English, a language that most Elevens understood.
This is the Henry IX Memorial Museum. We are in need of immediate assistance. We have been attacked by an enemy using exotic weapons. All Sakuradite-based technology no longer functions. Also, every human in the Fort Worth area has been infected by a pathogen that caused extreme deformities in the victim. Please come as soon as possible, and use Haz-Mat equipment to avoid any possible contamination.
“There are other channels as well. Fortunately, the phenomenon spared technology that wasn’t based on sakuradite. This old shortwave radio uses vacuum tubes, so we can confirm Japan wasn’t alone. Do you wish to listen to the other broadcasts?”
“No, that won’t be necessary,” said Inoue.
“Now you understand. It is time to make the best of a terrible situation.” Lelouch pointed to the Tokyo Settlement. “Let’s take care of this problem, and we can worry about our transformation afterwards. We can either wallow in self-pity or rise up against Britannia and free Japan from its tyranny. Will you join me?”
Tamaki came to Zero’s side. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m following Zero.”
Ohgi, along with Sugiyama and Minami, stood at Lelouch’s side as well. “You haven’t let us down yet,” said Ohgi.
“What about you, Inoue?” Lelouch asked the female winged pony. “Will you remain a member of the Black Knights?”
Inoue paused for a minute to collect her thoughts. “It’s going to take more than us to take over the Tokyo Settlement.”
“I’ll help,” said a female horned pony who was listening on the conversation.
“Me too,” an orange male pony interjected, “and I have friends who want to be Black Knights as well.”
“We manage to get at least two new volunteers before we even start our new recruitment drive, Inoue,” said Lelouch. “I doubt manpower will be an issue. Now will you consider joining?”
Inoue huffed. “I guess I could give you another chance.”
Lelouch smiled beneath his mask. “Get a good night’s sleep because tomorrow we’ll have our work cut out for us as we prepare to take back Tokyo from Viceroy Cornelia.” Lelouch led the way for the Black Knights, their two new recruits, and C.C. to their nearest safe houses within the Shinjuku ghetto.
Rivalz made it back to Ashford Academy just before the sunset. There was a longing inside his heart from the blissful optimism before that fateful night that laid waste to everything he knew. One of his best friends may have been killed, another one he driven away in a heated argument, and now a man he thought he could respect committed a terrible atrocity. It was a Friday and he should be getting ready for a night hanging out at the mall with his schoolmates. Rivalz walked across the chemistry lab when he caught sight of Milly. She was ransacking the shelves and knocking over beakers and test tubes. Broken glass crunched beneath Milly’s hooves. She then stopped and took out a sealed flask. The words “POTASSIUM CYANIDE” and the hazard chemical symbol were printed on the flask. Milly uncorked it and was about to drink the contents when Rivalz barged in knocked it out of her mouth before she had a chance to ingest the chemical.
“What the hell has gotten into you?” Rivalz fumed.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” Milly screamed as tears ran down her cheeks. “WHY WON’T YOU LET ME DIE!” She shoved Rivalz to the side and went back looking for another vial of poison.
Rivalz stepped in front of Milly. “You know I won’t let you go through with it.”
“I can’t live like this, Rivalz! I’m hideous! I’m a freak! Professor Wilhelm was right! This is the only way!”
“Don’t you dare say that! That man murdered his own children. You think that’s right? WELL DO YOU?” Rivalz’s words snapped Milly back to her senses. She rested her head on the back of Rivalz’s neck and wept bitterly.
After a half-hour trot, the Black Knights made it to the safe house, an abandoned garage near the Arakawa River.
Lelouch stepped aside and said to the others, “I’ll meet you inside in a few minutes. I have something to take care of.” The Black Knights complied and left Lelouch alone. “You can come out now, Kallen.” Kallen flew down from the roof and landed next to Lelouch. Her head hung low; her eyes obscured by her bangs. Her fetlocks were wrapped and taped up in blood-stained medical gauze. “You had explicit instructions to stay put until I gave you permission to scout the area. If you’re going to be a Black Knight then you need to learn to follow orders.” Kallen didn’t respond. “Kallen, are you listening?”
“She’s dead.” Kallen tilted her head up. A river of tears streamed down the sides of her face. “My mother is dead,” Kallen cried. Lelouch ran to Kallen’s side as she fell to the ground weeping.
It was the crack of dawn when Kallen managed to sneak past the night watch within the Tokyo Settlement and to the prison hospital. She was perched on the roof where she observed the orderlies at work. The eight-story building was lightly guarded even before the disaster, but getting in wasn’t really an option for her. The third shift staff hasn’t abandoned post. So, she couldn’t just simply walk through the doors. But that was okay, Kallen now had a pair of wings and her mother was in a room with a window on the fourth floor. So far, she has been getting the hang of flying and even landing; so she might be able to hover near the window long enough to see if she wasn’t harmed. Kallen trotted to the east side of the building where her mother was and took a leap of fate off the roof. As she fell, Kallen flapped her wings until she came to a stop between the second and third floor. She levitated herself up to the forth floor where her mother was. It was too dark inside to tell if the figure lying in the bed was her mother let alone if she was okay. All Kallen could see were silhouettes of various shapes.
“Mom, it’s me, Kallen,” she called out. “I came to check on you.” Kallen knocked through the gap between the bars and on the window. The glass cracked. “Damn hooves,” she cursed. “Mom, I know you probably don’t hear me, but if you do, please, for God’s sake, tell me you’re alright?” But Kallen couldn’t get an answer. “MOM! PLEASE ANSWER ME!” But the scream didn’t garner a response either. Kallen shifted position hoping to get a better view at a different angle. When she did, sunlight poured into the room and illuminated the sight that would rip Kallen’s heart apart. Her mother lay in bed; her body contorted. The look of horror froze on a face bordering between human and equine. Her mother’s mouth was stretched out like the snout of a pony, but there was no fur; eyes, lifeless and wide open, stared out into empty space. Her hands were frozen in mid-transformation as well. Her fingers partially receded; her palms took on the texture and shape of a pony’s hoof.
Kallen panicked and beat on the window. “MOTHER! WAKE UP! PLEASE WAKE UP!” She paid no mind to the window shattering, the shards of glass cutting into her forelegs, or the orderlies on the ground yelling at her. Then a mundane pony rushed through the door.
“What the hell is going on!” He yelled at the winged pony dripping blood from her hooves.
“My mother! She’s my mother! What’s wrong with her? Please tell me you can help her?”
The pony orderly looked down and shook his head. “I can’t. Kozuki Kasumi passed away last night.”
Kallen profusely shook her head. “No, it isn’t true!” Kallen said in a voice distorted by emotional distress. Her whole face was moist from the stream of tears. “You people said she would recover! You said she would be okay once she got the Refrain out of her system.”
“I’m afraid the strain of the transformation killed her. Ms. Kozuki had a weak heart. She must have died in the middle of the transformation.”
“This can be happening!” Kallen said in denial. “She can’t be dead. I promised her I would make things better for her. She can’t die now!” Kallen regained her composure long enough to notice a group of ponies heading in her direction carrying knives in their mouths, some of whom were winged ponies who have learned how to fly just like her. Realizing that she may be facing Britannian soldiers, Kallen flew back to the Shinjuku Ghetto.
End of Flashback
“That’s how it happened.” Kallen and Lelouch sat outside staring at the moon. The blotches on the surface reminded Kallen of the bedtime story her mother told her-about the dancing rabbit princess on the moon. When she was older, those fairy tales seemed so stupid, so pointless, but now that her mother has passed away, Kallen longed for those innocent days again and the silly little stories that came with it.
“Does it look like a dancing rabbit to you, Zero?”
“What does?” Lelouch asked.
“Nothing, it was nothing.”
“If you want, I can take a look at those cuts for you.”
Kallen held up a hoof. “You mean these scratches? Forget it. I sanitized and dressed them myself, and I didn’t use my hands either.” Kallen half-heartedly laughed. “I’m a big girl, Zero. I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure...”
“Hey,” Kallen interrupted, “I said I’ll be okay, didn’t I? I just needed to get that off my chest.” She rose up and stretched one leg each. “It’s getting late and we have a busy day ahead of us, remember?”
Lelouch shook his head. “Sorry, but I’m afraid my work day hasn’t come to an end just yet.” Lelouch turned around and began to trot away.
“Where are you going?” Kallen called out.
“I’m getting us more recruits. I’ll be back in two hours.”
Tragedy has a way of bringing the best out of some people, while breaking the will of others. And this one, in particular, has been the ruin of many. Yet, some persevere and continue fighting the good fight. Lelouch is one of them, but so is his enemy, his half-sister Princess Cornelia, Viceroy of Area 11 and leader of the Britannian occupation army. The next chapter will be a test of fortitude and strategy between the viceroy and the exiled prince. Which one will decide the future of the Japanese people? Find out in the next chapter of Rebel Against the Night.