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 5: The Battle for Tokyo Part III-The Birth of a Nation
Villetta Nu trotted to the tent in the center of the cavern and made her way inside. “You wanted to see me, sir?” Villetta asked as she went in and saw, much to her disgust, Night Fire holding Cinnamon Delight in an embrace and nibbling on her mane.
“Oops! Sorry about that,” Night Fire apologized. “I completely forgot.” He then spoke to Cinnamon. “Can you take a rain check? I have business to attend to.”
Cinnamon Delight nuzzled up to Night Fire. “Do I have to? I’ve been looking forward to this all day.” Cinnamon Delight gave Night Fire deep open mouth kisses. “It’s been lonesome this whole week without you.”
“This won’t take long. I promise.”
Cinnamon pouted. “Oh alright,” she said with a disapproving frown.
Night Fire led Villetta to the edge of the underground cavern away from the others. “You’ve been giving some of your fellow ponies the brush-off.”
Villetta looked confused. “What do you mean I’ve been brushing them off? Who told you that?”
“I saw it myself. You go out of your way to avoid Sunset Forever, Nightingale Blue, Moon Lotus, Silver Lake, and even poor Cinnamon who only wants to be your friend. Funny you keep your distance away from those particular ponies. Is it the Japanese accent?” Villetta inched away as Night Fire invaded her personal space. “Well?”
“It...it takes some getting used to. You know what I used to do before I joined the herd. I was trained as an honorary knight to put down Eleven uprisings...”
Night Fire bit into Villetta’s ear and yanked. She yelped out in pain. “Keep in mind one of the ponies you’d disrespected just happens to be my lover.” Night Fire took a deep breath and calmed down. “You should know better. The princess commands us to forget about our past life and that includes those silly ape grudges. Now be a good pony and do what you are told, Moonlight Blossom.”
“Oh don’t be afraid, ma’am,” said Nathan with that same overly friendly, unsettling smile. “I told you last night, she won’t hurt you. In fact, she wants to help us.” Then Nathan, Greg Finney/Night Fire, Cinnamon, and all of the other ponies bowed to the mist, which formed the shape of a ghostly, transparent apparition. It was twice as tall as a pony. In fact, apart from the horn and wings, it was more horse than pony.
“Behold, a real princess-Nightmare Moon,” said Night Fire.
“Hello,” the apparition greeted Villetta. “Have you come to join our herd, my little pony?”
“Your herd?!?” Villetta stuttered. “I don’t understand.”
“Why dear,” said the apparition while it seductively wrapped its tail around Villetta, “I’m the one who blessed you with your pony body.” Had fear not frozen her in place, Villetta would have killed this phantom with her bare hooves. This ‘thing’ had admitted to being the culprit, the one who had robbed them of their human form. Worse, it considered this act of mutilation to be a ‘blessing’.
“And now you have a choice, Honorary Knight of Britannia,” said Night Fire, “you can either join us; be a member of the herd...”
“Or?” Villetta asked.
“...leave. We won’t hurt you if you say ‘no’.” Villetta didn’t like the look on Night Fire’s face nor the tone if his voice. The malevolence beamed out from his crocodile smile, and she had seen what their ‘princess’ was capable of when she attacked that mob of Elevens. She then realized they wouldn’t have to do anything to her. Even if Night Fire kept his word and let her go, it would be a death sentence in and of itself. The Elevens would do his dirty work for him. 'A choice’?!? What a joke! The only choice is to bow down to this monstrosity or die. Death before dishonor was a code that all Britannian soldiers, knights especially, swore to uphold. Villetta was no exception-she was duty bound to take her chances and...or maybe not. Not only does she know Zero’s identity but also the existence of this new menace to the Empire. She had a duty to live long enough to pass on this vital information even if it meant pretending to be one of these traitors.
“Villetta, you don’t really want to be a Britannian knight, right, not after what they’ve done to us?” Nathan said. “Become one of us, instead.”
Nightmare Moon said, “Night Fire has experienced, first hand, how far your royalty has failed you.” She nudged Night Fire on the hind leg.
Night Fire pointed to the scar running up and down his neck. “You see this?” Villetta nodded her head in response to Night Fire’s question. “My fellow Britannians and I spent days fighting for our lives as we fled the base at Shizuoka while being picked off by the ponies that we used to victimized before our transformation.” Night Fire solemnly lowered his head down. Cinnamon Delight nuzzled up to him as her way of saying she bore no ill-will towards him for his part in the occupation. “When we made it to the Tokyo Settlement, I thought we were finally safe. I was wrong. For whatever reason, one of my men claimed he was the only one in our group who was Britannian and told the Viceroy that the rest of us were terrorists. Maybe he didn’t lie as much as overstated a fact. One of the terrors revealed himself and stabbed a soldier. The next thing I knew, Cornelia gave me this.” Night Fire pointed again to the scar on his neck. “Our ‘beloved’ princess didn’t even bother to sort through the wheat and the chaff. Only a hoofful of our division made it out alive. I, myself, was wasting away from a blood infection.” Then Night Fire’s face lit up. He smiled warmly at Nightmare Moon. “But then, this noble being, far more regal than our piss-poor-excuse-for-a-princess Cornelia, healed me and even granted me the privilege of being her high priest.” Night Fire then turned his attention back at Villetta. “Tell me, honorary knight of Britannia, will you serve Viceroy Cornelia even though she has abandoned you?”
“No, I won’t,” said Villetta as she lowered her head in an act of false humility, “Britannia has forsaken us. Why should I serve the very nation that left me to die?”
The ponies stamped their feet all at once causing Villetta to back away and cringed. “Oh don’t be afraid,” Night Fire said with a hit of amusement in his voice. “They were giving you a standing ovation. That’s how ponies clap. Consider this your first lesson.”
“A lesson in what?” Villetta asked.
“The Equestrian way, of course” said Nightmare Moon. “I have brought you into a culture that has lived in peace for thousands of years...that hasn’t known the terrible conflicts that inflicted your world.” Her starry mane caressed Villetta’s head. “But you couldn’t help yourselves. You are the product of your violent ape nature and a violent ape culture. And who was it that led your kind...who was responsible for teaching you right and wrong? Other apes...even more violent than those they ruled over. They encouraged you to quarrel amongst yourselves. But I am here to take care of you.”
Villetta fought off the urge to tell Nightmare Moon off. The nerve! How dare she talk down to us! Doesn’t she know humans are not created equal? How dare she make no distinction between those inferior people and Britannians?
“But first,” said Nightmare Moon, “you must discard your old way of life. My subjects are forbidden to speak of their past lives. I wish for them to only look forward to our glorious future. You must rid yourself of all past attachments, including your name, which you may only use when the wild ponies walk amongst us until,” Nightmare Moon spread out her wings and revved up on her hind legs, “the time comes for me to take control of this world and bring about a glorious reign, and I will be loved and adored by all my subjects.”
Night Fire looked over Villetta. “Take off your clothes.”
Villetta looked indignantly at Night Fire and shied away. “I can’t do that!”
“You shouldn’t be ashamed of the gift Nightmare Moon has blessed you with,” said Cinnamon Delight.
“You have a beautiful pony body now,” said Nightmare Moon, “you shouldn’t hide it behind those rags.”
Villetta gave in and pulled off what little she had on. Night Fire looked her over and shook his head. “Daggers for a cutie mark?” He said disdainfully. “I suppose it should be expected from a knight of Britannia.”
Villetta glanced back at the image of two daggers crossing each other on her flank. “Is that what you call that? ‘A cutie mark’?” Villetta asked in a disgusted tone of voice.
“The term takes some getting use to, I know. Well anyway, a cutie mark is an indication of a pony’s calling in life. It signifies what makes them special.” Night Fire pointed to the chain on his flank. “This cutie mark is a symbol of the ties that bind me to my princess. Going by your cutie mark, I suppose your special talent is,” and then he frowned, “murder.”
“...or she could be a guard,” said Nathan/Barnstormer. “Come on Night Fire, give her a chance.”
Night Fire sighed. “I guess so. Now that we found your place in our herd, it’s time to give you a proper pony name.”
Villetta could barely hide her disgust. Not this again, she thought. It was bad enough being called ‘Chigusa’ by that Eleven pervert. “Is that really necessary?”
“It is!” Nightmare Moon shouted. For a cloud of mist, she was solid enough to crack the cave floor with one stomp of her ethereal hoof. “I don’t want anything from your past ape lives polluting my herd!”
Not wishing to upset Nightmare Moon further, Villetta capitulated. “Forgive me, your majesty. I will change my name as requested.”
Barnstormer jumped up and down. “Night Fire! Night Fire! I have a good pony name for Villetta.”
Night Fire smiled at his comrade. “Let’s hear it.”
“Moonlight Blossom because she’s as pretty as a flower blooming in the moonlight.”
Villetta looked as though she just got through sucking on a lemon. It didn’t help that the other ponies thought this spectacle was adorable, either. There were ‘ooh’s’ heard all over the camp.
Nightfire raised a hoof for his proclamation. “And so it shall be,” he proclaimed. “Dead, dead is the ape Villetta Nu.”
“Dead, dead is the ape Villetta Nu,” the ponies repeated.
“In its place is the earth pony, Moonlight Blossom.”
“In its place is the earth pony, Moonlight Blossom.”
“Welcome to the herd my dear,” Nightfire grinned.
End of Flashback
When Night Fire was finished scolding Villetta and went back to his tent to finish some important ‘business’, Barnstormer came out from behind a tent where he was hiding and looked at Villetta with sympathy in his eyes. Villetta noticed and scowled at the indignity of being pitied.
“Did anyone tell you it’s impolite to eavesdrop?” Villetta asked with derision in her voice.
“I’m sorry, but I was worried about you. Night Fire can get carried away some times. He takes being Nightmare Moon’s high priest very seriously. I hope you don’t stay mad at him.” Villetta, without so much as a ‘goodbye’, trotted passed Barnstormer. “Hey wait up! Why are you in such a hurry?”
“Guard duty, remember? Night Fire assigned me to security because of some stupid symbol stamped on my ass.”
“You mustn’t say such things. If Nightmare Moon or Night Fire heard that, they’d...they’d,” Barnstormer stuttered, “...it wouldn’t be very pleasant!”
“Speaking of Nightmare Moon, where is she? I haven’t seen her since day before yesterday.”
Barnstormer then said in an excited voice. “Oh, she’s gathering sakuradite for her plans to remake the world.”
Villetta looked perplexed. “I thought she gathered all of the sakuradite already.”
“Only on this planet. Nightmare Moon is retrieving sakuradite throughout the solar system.”
“And what is this ‘plan’ she has in mind?”
“She’s turning Earth into another Equestria. It will be just like the kingdom she once ruled.”
“If Equestria was such a wonderful place, then why did she come here?”
“I don’t really like the way you worded that question,” said Barnstormer with a concerned look on his face, “but I’ll tell you. Nightmare Moon had a jealous older sister named Celestia. She bewitched the other ponies into hating Nightmare Moon, who only wanted to live in peace with her elder sister.”
“And this ‘Celestia’ pony drove Nightmare Moon out of Equestria?”
Barnstormer shook his head. “Nightmare Moon was powerful enough to defeat her sister, but the battle would have devastated her kingdom. Rather than sacrifice the lives of her subjects, Nightmare Moon left Equestria of her own accord,” Barnstormer said with considerable admiration in his voice. However, Villetta was a bit skeptical, which was apparent when she rolled her eyes while Barnstormer relayed the story told to him by his princess. “I don’t know of any Britannian nobleman who would even spit on a commoner if he was on fire let alone surrender power for their sake.”
And I seriously doubt your Nightmare Moon is any different. God, you’re gullible.
Villetta was stirred from her sleep by a pair of familiar voicing chanting. She climbed out of her pile of hay and walked toward the source of the racket. It was Ohgi, in pony form, and Barnstormer shaking their hoof at each other.
“Rock, paper, scissors,” the two stallions repeated in unison over and over again.
“What the hell are you two doing?” Villetta said demanding an explanation for disturbing her much needed rest.
“I’m here to save you from this Britannian, Chigusa,” said Ohgi before going back to repeating the mantra.
“Her name is Moonlight Blossom,” Barnstormer objected, “Chigusa is an ape name, and I’m a pony, not a Britannian...rock, paper, scissors...rock, paper, scissors.”
“Don’t you dare disrespect the Japanese by calling our names ‘ape names’...rock, paper, scissors... rock, paper, scissors...”
“My name is Villetta Nu.” The two stallions pay no mind to Villetta’s pleads. “I’m an honorary knight of the Holy Britannian Empire. Stop making me something that I’m not...AND YOU IDIOTS NEED HANDS TO PLAY ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS!”
“Chigusa, don’t be negative. Otherwise, the miracle won’t happen.” Ohgi and Barnstormer continued their rock-paper-scissors battle.
“The miracle that will let me win you back, Chigusa.”
“No way,” said Barnstormer, “if anyone’s getting a miracle, it’ll be me and Moonlight Blossom.” It was then an apparition, glowing hot white, manifested itself between Ohgi and Barnstormer. “You see,” said Barnstormer proudly, “I told you my future bride and I was destined for the miracle.”
Ohgi waved his hoof at Barnstormer. “You pretentious jerk! Who said the miracle was for you, anyway?”
The ghost-like figure molded into a human form and dimmed until the visage of Jeremiah Gottwald was unveiled. He was exactly the way Villetta remembered-a trim, fit man with tan skin and short blue-green hair parted to the left. The regal purple coat with gold trim and gray shoulder pads, trousers, gray knee-high boots, and white gloves that Jeremiah sported was the uniform of a margrave, the rank Jeremiah held before his public disgrace and humiliation at the hands of Zero. Jeremiah grimaced at Villetta and folded his arms over his chest.
“I haven’t been dead for six months, and you’ve already turned traitor,” Jeremiah said shaking his head.
Villetta galloped to Jeremiah’s feet and bowed to him. “Lord Jeremiah, you don’t understand.”
“Oh I understand alright. You’re a coward. Dishonor before death in your book, I suppose.”
Villetta shook her head vigorously. “I’m only staying alive in order to deliver vital intelligence to the crown on the identity of Zero and on Nightmare Moon and her cult.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “Lord Jeremiah, please believe me. I would never do anything to sully your good name.”
“Nothing but excuses,” Jeremiah said before turning his back on Villetta and walking away. “It was a mistake sponsoring you for knighthood. You four-legged bastards can have her.”
“You heard him.” Ohgi then bit Villetta by the tail and said with her tail between her teeth. “He said I can habe Chioousa.”
“He said Moonlight Blossom’s mine!” Barnstormer raged. He bit her mane. Villetta felt as those she was being pulled apart by the two jealous stallions.
“I don’t want to be with either of you,” Villetta cried out. “I hate you both! I despise you!” Suddenly, she was back in her hay pile. One of the unicorn guards was standing over her.
“It’s time to wake up, ma’am,” he said. “We have a busy day ahead of us.” The unicorn guard moved on to the next sleeping pony.
“What a horrible nightmare,” Villetta said before she noticed the angry glares directed at her. “I meant I had a bad dream. I wasn’t talking about the princess.” The other ponies went back to their daily routine, though some still had a sour look on their face.
Villetta climbed out of the hay sack and brushed off the strands tangled in her fur. She just realized it’s been a month and a half since she ‘joined’ the herd. Her mind wandered back to where she used to live before she was dragged into this insanity by Night Fire and his dear princess. I wonder, how the Britannians in the Settlement are faring since I was last there.
Guilford galloped as fast as his four legs could carry him. Princess Cornelia has to be told. We may already be in danger. Guilford changed direction upon seeing his princess and General Darlton surveying the perimeter and maintaining a vigil over the horde of Black Knights that were the verge of launching an attack against the Settlement.
“But...”, General Darlton objected. Guilford was close enough now to overhead Darlton and Cornelia’s conversation.
“He can’t fly,” said Viceroy Cornelia. “You can. Your number one priority is to save my sister. Take as many men as you need to carry her. And Darlton?”
“Yes mi lady.”
“Don’t let anyone know what Euphie did. And make sure Euphie keeps her mouth shut. Father won’t be as forgiving as I am. If word gets out she helped free a prisoner, she’ll be executed.”
“I understand, mi lady.”
“Viceroy! General Darlton!” Sir Guilford cried out as he ran at a full gallop towards Cornelia and Darlton. “We may already be under attack.”
“What are you talking about, Guilford?” Cornelia asked.
“Our intelligence managed to eavesdrop on two-way radio transmission from the Chinese Federation. According to the broadcasts, the winged ponies are able to walk on the clouds and even control weather. They claim that they moved clouds from one location to another and brought rain to desert land.”
“Are you that gullible? What you’re saying is impossible. It must be some sort of prank.” When Darlton finished berating Guilford for his ‘naiveté’, the rain ceased.
All of a sudden, Cornelia tensed up; her eyes opened wide. “Fall back to the lower levels!” She screamed at her troops, but it was too late. Dozens of lightning bolts came crashing down on them. Hundreds of Britannian ponies lay dead-electrocuted in the first volley.
Just beyond the edge of the Settlement, Lelouch’s malevolent laughter rang through C.C.’s ears. She and the Britannian prince stood on top of one of few relatively intact skyscrapers in the ghettos and observed the carnage that has befallen their adversaries.
“Is it really that funny, Lelouch?” C.C. asked.
“Why not?” Lelouch asked rhetorically. “It’s a time to rejoice. As the old order of Britannia comes crashing down, the new order, the gentle world that I will create, will come to fruition.”
“And must you be so melodramatic?”
“You’ve been with me long enough to know the answer to that question,” said Lelouch. White forks of blinding light danced to the rhythm of a thousand thunderclaps. The incandescent glow seared into C.C.’s retina. The immortal mare rubbed her eyes and averted her stare from the visual overload. However, the afterimage still flashed in her field of vision.
“I warned you not to stare too long,” Lelouch scolded C.C.
“I regenerate, you know,” C.C. said defensively. “Even if I was blinded, it wouldn’t last very long.”
An eerie haze slowly materialized around the edge of the top level. As the lightning attack progressed, the haze formed into a halo-like fog. The air became putrid.
C.C. snorted and fanned the air away from her face. “What’s that stench? It smells like an electrical fire.”
“That smell is from ozone created from the lightning.”
A few minutes after the start of the attack, Lelouch telekinetically waved a large red and green checkered flag. A moment later, the lightning barrage ceased. Almost instantly, almost every winged Black Knight on the ground took to the air and swarmed the top of the Tokyo Settlement superstructure. Their stingers were metallic blades bound to their fetlock by rope, belt, or electrical wire. The collective shadow cast by the flying Black Knights cloaked the Tokyo Settlement in a foreboding darkness. At the same time, another flock, even more numerous than the first, descended from the clouds. Lelouch then looked through his binoculars. From his vantage point, he could see bodies littering the ground. Whiffs of smoke floated up from some of them. The winged Britannians still alive did not come out unscathed. Some groped around running into buildings and into each other. The ones that weren’t temporarily blinded by the lightning were in a state of panic darting around the top level in all directions. The Britannians’ airborne troops were no longer a coherent group, which made them easy prey for the Black Knights. The dazed and confused Britannians were being cut down by the invading forces. Blood and bodies rained down on the Settlement.
“The first phase of my plan is coming along smoothly,” Lelouch gloated. “It won’t be long before we overwhelm Cornelia’s forces stationed on the High Ground Level. And while Inoue and Sugiyama are taking care of the High Ground Level, Kallen and Shogo Asahina’s forces will work their way down the from sector H and I starting from the top level through the Office, Transport, and Lifeline Levels so that Tohdoh and his ground forces can have safe passage to the Low Ground Level. Once there, they’ll force their way in through the ground level entrances and access tunnels.” He then levitated a blue and yellow checkered flag with green borders, where the two colors mixed together on the fabric, just over the edge of the building. Lelouch then pulled his mask over his muzzle.
“Then why did we waste time building those siege towers and trebuchets?”
“They’re a diversion from our true plan of attack.”
“So, they’re just there for show?”
“Not if my initial assault fails. My diversion can double as my plan B, though against a fortress like the Tokyo Settlement, it isn’t much. We’ll talk about it later. Our escort will be here any moment.”
A contingency of nine Black Knights consisting of eight recruits ascended from the street level below carrying one mundane pony in the same tarp used in the rescue of Tohdoh from the Settlement penitentiary. When they got close enough, C.C. recognized the mundane pony being airlifted. It was Ohgi. He kept his eyes shut until they landed. Ohgi let out a rather loud sigh of relief when his hooves made contact with the roof.
“Where are we going?” C.C. asked as the winged Black Knights landed.
“To set up our base of operations,” said Lelouch. But more importantly, I’m going to be with my sister, Nunnally. We have been apart for far too long.”
Sitting down with his foreleg knees on a table and his hooves under his chin, Sorato watched the Black Knights’ support personnel pulling wagons full of supplies and weapons up and down the street with an occasional wounded soldier being taken to be treated by medical personnel. A unicorn walked in from one of the adjacent rooms. She had a curly mane that was purple with pink highlights and a yellow coat of fur. She took note of Sorato’s downhearted disposition.
“It’s sad, isn’t it? After everything you’ve done, they’re still trying to kill each other.”
“Don’t remind me, Meadow Prancer.”
“Hey! No real names during covet missions, So-ra-to,” Meadow Prancer said.
“Give me a break will ya? I’m not a stickler for protocol like you.”
“I can’t believe the princess put up with you being so blasé when it comes to following orders,” Meadow Prancer pouted before remembering that her partner needed cheering up. “Look Sorato,” she said as she placed a comforting hoof on his shoulder, “I don’t think anypony could have done a better job than you. Try to take solace in that.”
Sorato shook his head. “That’s not good enough for me. I’m not satisfied with shrugging my shoulders and saying ‘I did what I could, oh well’.”
“If you insist on assigning blame,” said Meadow Prancer, “then you should look no further than that stupid unicorn working for Zero.”
“Okay, Mikami, this have better be important,” Tamaki bellowed.
The horned recruit lead Tamaki and several other Black Knights to a room whose windows were boarded up and with only one way out-the heavy solid wood door with a chain and lock running through the hole for the doorknob and through the space between the wall and a metal pipe and back to the lock. The horned recruit turned the combination, and both it and the chain fell to the floor. Inside the holding cell was Sorato, who was lying on the floor still weakened by his ordeal in the Britannian prison. The blue winged stallion kept a hoof on a brownish orange envelope.
“Are you the bozo that broke in to see Zero?” Tamaki asked.
Sorato forced himself up while keeping a hoof on the envelope and nodded. “I didn’t break in, but to answer your question-yes, I’m here to deliver a letter to your leader. It’s a life-or-death situation.”
The recruit pointed at the envelope. “He had that on him when we took him into custody.”
Tamaki pressed a hoof against his forehead. “And you let him keep it?!? You people are so dense. Take it from him.”
“No wait! That letter is for Zero’s eyes only,” Sorato pleaded in vain as the horned guard yanked the letter from beneath his hoof.
“Zero’s a busy man,” said Tamaki condescendingly. “He doesn’t have time to waste on you. Open it and let me have a look,” Tamaki said to the recruit. The young pony opened the envelope and then suspended the letter in mid-air for Tamaki to read.
“I said that letter was for Zero.” Sorato was about to snatch the letter away if not for the other Black Knights pushing him away.
“Platoon Commander Shinichirō said Zero was too busy to deal with you,” said a winged mare.
“You tell him Nagisa,” Tamaki said haughtily before turning his attention back to the letter. “It says, ‘Zero, leader of the Black Knights,’. Hand writing’s a lot better what I’ve seen lately. ‘Zero, leader of the Black Knights, this is Princess Euphemia le Britannia. I know, from our past dealings, that you do not trust me.’ Well, no shit we don’t trust you Britannian bastards. ‘As proof of my sincerity, please remember the villa. If you are the man that I think you are, this will hold meaning to you. I would like to make arrangements to begin peace negotiation between the Holy Britannian Empire and the Black Knights. It is my hope that we can avert any undo bloodshed. P.S. I’m writing from the student council club house. I met someone who I haven’t seen in eight years. She’s happy that I stopped by and visited.’ Damn Britannian. She’s got a lotta nerve trying to play mind games with Zero. Burn this trash.”
Sorato tried to snatch the letter back but this time was physically restrained. “But why? Why won’t you let Zero read it?”
“Look here, buddy. We’re one step away from kicking the Britannians out of Japan, and I won’t let any slick-talking Brit noble play on Zero’s sympathy and talk him out of taking the Settlement.” As Tamaki was talking, another horned recruit held a lighter beneath the letter. In seconds, it was consumed by a yellow flame that worked its way up and was reduced to a pile of ash. “Now, throw this bootlicking honorary Britannian out.”
End of Flashback
Sorato pulled himself away from the window and galloped out the door. Meadow Prancer followed after him. “Hey wait up! You’re not going back out there are you?”
Sorato said as he stretched out his wings, “why not? I might be able to get around Zero’s goon squad in all of the confusion.”
“But your injuries...”
“...are completely healed.”
“But you don’t have a message to deliver to Zero.”
“I’ll relay the message verbally.”
“If you insist on running off and getting yourself killed,” said Meadow Prancer, “I’m coming with you.”
Sorato shook his head. “No can do. You’ll slow me down.
Meadow Prancer stomped the floor. “Absolutely not. I’ve been letting you go it alone, and it’s almost got you killed...twice.” She then pointed to the vertical scars running across his cutie mark. “Not to mention *that*.”
Sorato took a deep breath and exhaled. “Oh all right,” he said, “but make yourself useful.”
Meadow Prancer rolled her eyes. “When don’t I?”
From the safety of the lower levels, Cornelia, Darlton, Guilford, one horned Britannian, and a handful of winged Britannians witnessed the terror of hordes of Eleven barbarians ascended to the top level of the Tokyo Settlement and, as one coherent unit, cut down what was left of her airborne forces. Not even thirty minutes into the battle and Zero already has the upper hand.
“There must be thousands of our soldiers dead in this sector along?” Darlton lamented.
Guilford shook his head. “It can’t be much more than ten thousand that made it to the lower levels. There is probably more taking shelter in the structures above, but they won’t last long against Zero’s forces.”
Cornelia stomped her hoof on the ground. “We had a quarter of a million stationed on the top level. That was most of our flight capable troops.”
“Mi lady,” said Guilford, “it may be prudent for us to go deeper into the lower levels. There’s nothing left that we can do.”
Cornelia nodded. “Corporal?” Cornelia asked the one horned Britannian in the group.
“Yes, your majesty,” said the horned Britannian.
“It’ll be your duty to lead us to the auxiliary command center on the Transport Level.”
The horned Britannian nodded. “Yes, your majesty.”
Cornelia, her high ranking officers, and a handful soldiers descended into the murky abyss that was once the industrialized hub for the Tokyo Settlement.
Rivalz never imagined it would be like this. He envisioned the students treating gymnasium full of injured soldiers, dressing gaping wounds and changing blood-soaked bandages. Instead, there was only one stricken soldiers, burned and twitching from the all of his synapses firing at once after being overloaded with a high voltage charge, amongst the many that sought shelter from the lightning storm. When it came to lightning, it’s hit or miss when it comes to survival-most living things struck by lightning dies, especially when said living thing is in contact with a conductor like rain water. About ten Britannian airborne soldiers managed to find shelter inside Ashford Academy gym. Rivalz was tending to the one who managed to survive being hit, probably because he was far enough away from the lightning strike that most of the charge didn’t make it to him. The double doors slung open, and Baron Alexander Franklin stormed in from the hallway.
“Just what the hell happened?” The baron yelled. “Why aren’t you at your post?”
“Lightning bolts, my lord,” said one of the soldiers, “a thousand lightning bolts struck all at once.”
“Don’t lie to me. Go back out there or else I’ll have you executed for dereliction of duty.”
“I saw it myself, my lord,” Rivalz said as he bowed before Alexander. “I’m treating him for electric shock.” Rivalz pointed to the soldier lying on a mat still suffering from muscle spasms. Suddenly a scream broke out. A female mundane backed away from the door and quaked in terror.
“They’re here!” She cried out. “The Elevens are here to kill us all.” She fell down on all four knees. “We’re going to die. We’re going to die. We’re going t...”
“Shut up, you idiot!” The baron screamed at the young mare. Drops of sweat dripped off Franklin’s brow. His legs trembled, his heart raced, and the hair on both his mane and coat stood on end. “You there!” He said to Rivalz. “Round up the students and defend this position.”
Rivalz glanced back and forth between the baron and the wounded soldier he was treating. ‘But what about...”
“Who cares! Get those students right now!”
“It’s okay,” said one of the winged soldiers, “we’ll take care of him. Just do as Lord Franklin commands.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rivalz. As Rivalz exited the gym, Baron Franklin quietly slipped out the door. A moment later, Rivalz and the other students galloped down the hall, but before they reached the gymnasium, a multitude of winged Black Knights smashed through the stained glass windows lining the hallway and through the side doors. They were armed with blades of various lengths and designs bolted to leather buckles wrapped around their fetlocks.
“Stop where you are,” Inoue yelled out. She had taken the lead and was the first in the building. Rivalz spread out his wings and launched himself at Inoue, but she shifted her weight to the side. She reached out and waited for Rivalz to fly into the blade. Fortunately for Rivalz, at the last moment, a luminous aura enveloped the Britannian student and yanked him out of the way before Inoue could land the finishing blow. However, the same couldn’t be said of the other students who followed Rivalz’ lead. There was no last second rescue or close brush with death. In seconds, the Black Knights cut them down. Some of the horned students put up more resistance and was able to fend off their attackers with telekinesis. The Black Knights that were facing off against the horned students were in a tug-of-war with auras that was either forcing them down or trying to snatch away their weapon. One student even managed to knock a winged Black Knight into the others and sent them crashing down on each other.
“Stop,” Lelouch commanded. “I expressly told you to avoid violence.” His horn glowed with the same aura that surrounded Rivalz.
“Easier said than done,” said Inoue, “we’re being attacked.” Zero fought to keep his emotions in check, to keep from giving away any bonds he had with these students. The Black Knights haven’t secured Ashford Academy yet, and the air is already fowl with the stench of freshly spilled blood. In the short time they were here, seventeen of his classmates were cut down in his hallway alone, and there were students still fighting.
“Stop fighting!” Milly yelled to the students who were still resisting. “There’re too many of them. I said ‘stop’!” With a considerable about of hesitation on their part, the other students followed Milly’s command. The hallway grew silent. “Zero,” Milly called out from the other side of the hall, “do we have your word that no one else will be harmed?” The melancholy that had Milly in its grip since the day of the transformation has ceased. Her focus was on keeping the students alive.
“You can’t trust him,” Rivalz, who was still telekinetically pinned to the ground, cried out.
“Zero, you gave the order not to use violence. You could kill us all if you wanted to. Is that correct?”
Zero nodded. “I can guarantee your safety as long as you don’t offer resistance and attack my Black Knights.” Zero then addressed the other students and pointed down the hallway. “Drop your weapons and gather into the gymnasium.”
“You heard Zero,” said Milly. “Everyone, do as he says. You too Rivalz.”
“Okay Chief,” Rivalz huffed. Once he was sure Rivalz would comply, Lelouch loosened his hold on him.
“What the hell happened?” Ohgi asked as he limped inside.
“Some of the students tried to be heroes,” said Inoue. “We didn’t have any choice but to defend ourselves.”
“None the less, I don’t want any more civilian casualties,” said Lelouch. “Ohgi, I’m leaving you in charge. Take care of those bodies and treat them with the upmost respect. I have some important business I must attend to.”
Nunnally sat in her wheelchair waiting in the living room. There was no light except for window with the shades partially opened. The darkness didn’t matter to the blind filly. What did matter to her was the well-being of her older brother who went missing since the night of the transformation. Despite the objections of her maid Sayoko, she wouldn’t leave the student council club house where she and Lelouch lived. She had to stay here just in case Lelouch came home.
“Hello Nunnally,” a voice called out to her.
Tears streamed down Nunnally’s face. “Big Brother! Is it really you?” Lelouch trotted over to her sister and nuzzled against her. “I missed you so much. Where have you been all this time, Big Brother?”
“I was visiting the ghettos when everyone was transformed. By the time I made it back, the Settlement entrances were sealed off.” Lelouch pulled away from Nunnally and wiped away the tears. Lelouch took a good luck at his sister. Nunnally was a horned pony, as was Lelouch; and, just like Lelouch, her hair color and type remained the same. Her fur was Amethyst-colored, a lighter shade of violet than Lelouch’s. Nunnally, as far as Lelouch could tell, was still blind and unable to walk. Lelouch remembered the night his mother was killed eight years ago while shielding Nunnally from an assassin’s bullets with her own body. Though Lady Marianne took the blunt of the damage, some of the bullets managed to go all the way through her body and cripple Nunnally. Bearing witness to her mother’s death traumatized Nunnally and induced psychosomatic blindness. It was not unlike abused children who repressed their memories of being molested.
“It’s okay now. All that matters is that you’re safe and that you’ve come back to us.”
“‘With us’?!?” Lelouch raised an eyebrow.
“Lelouch, you won’t believe this, but Euphie came to see me about a month ago. She figured out where we were hiding. We spend the whole day talking about what we’ve been doing since we were sent to Japan, and she told me all about her job as sub-viceroy. Lelouch, what’s wrong? Aren’t you happy about seeing Euphie again?”
“Of course I am,” Lelouch lied. This isn’t good. If Euphemia knows about Nunnally and I and word reaches the Japanese, we might be killed for being members of the royal family. “Umm, Nunnally, did you get hurt during the transformation?” Lelouch changed the subject. It was a bit uncomfortable to think about what could possibly happen to them if word got out about being part of the royal family. Also, he had to make sure Nunnally wasn’t injured during the ordeal.
“Don’t be afraid to tell your big brother the truth. I can handle it.”
“It was like my whole body was on fire, but you shouldn’t worry. I’m fine now.”
“Nunnally, I have to tell you something that is hard for me to say to you.”
“What do you mean, Big Brother?”
“When I was in the ghettos, I was captured by the Black Knights. They’re forcing me to stay with them. I was permitted to visit with you but for only a short while.”
“But why? What do they want from you?”
“He wants to speak to you.”
“Zero,” said Lelouch as he pulled away from Nunnally.
Nunnally’s horn glowed to life. She turned the wheelchair around and rolled forward. “Big Brother, don’t go!” She called out while reaching out to Lelouch. Tears once again poured from Nunnally’s eyes. “Please don’t take Lelouch away from me! Please I beg of you! Why are you taking away my big brother?” Off to the side, Lelouch slipped back on the Zero mask and cape and activated the mask’s built-in voice modulator.
“Nunnally Lamperouge, I presume,” said Lelouch.
“Zero, is that you?” Nunnally’s voice cracked in absolute terror. She took a deep breath and built back up her nerves. “What do you want with my brother Lelouch?”
“He is indebted to me. I found him wandering the ghettos and gave him sanctuary. In exchanged for my protection, he must make himself useful to me. I promise that no harm will befall him.”
“Just like no harm came to Shirley’s father,” said Nunnally. “Her father was killed in Narita in the landslide you created.” Lelouch didn’t answer right away. “Well?” It was this event that started a chain of events that forced Lelouch to erase Shirley’s memories of him with Geass.
“As a show of good faith, I will tell you a secret. I know your real name, Nunnally vi Britannia, as well your brother’s, Lelouch vi Britannia. Both of you are children of the Britannian Emperor and his royal consort, the late Lady Marianne.”
Nunnally gasped in shock. “But how? How did you know?”
“I have my ways.”
“Will you kill us just like you killed my half-brother Clovis?”
“I will do no such thing. You were used as political pawns for your father’s imperialistic ambitions. You and your brother are as much of a victim of Britannia as the Japanese people. I hold no grudge against you, but because others may not see it that way, you must continue keeping your identity a secret. I cannot protect you if word got out that you and your brother are part of the royal family. You must also keep silent concerning your brother’s involvement in the Black Knights, as well. Do not even discuss this with your friends or ask the Black Knights about his well-being. Only a handful of my Black Knights knows of his existence and the few that do only knows him as a collaborator. If you ask too many questions, it will rouse suspicion. Your brother’s life is in your hands, Nunnally vi Britannia.”
“For my brother’s sake, I’ll keep it a secret.”
“Good, and do not worry. He will come back to you. I, Zero, make this contract with you, Nunnally vi Britannia.”
“What about Euphemia and Cornelia? Will you spare them? Zero, please tell me.” There was no reply. “Zero?” All Nunnally heard were hoofsteps fading in the distance.
As Lelouch exiting the room, C.C., who was waiting outside, tailed him from behind.
“You didn’t answer her question. Will you spare Euphemia and Cornelia?”
“I had planned to use them as hostages to lure the Emperor here, but without a means of transportation between Japan and the homeland, they’re only a liability now.”
“So I take it as a ‘no’.”
Lelouch grimly nodded. “The Britannians will be compelled to rally behind them now that they are cut off from the homeland. In the long run, they’re more trouble than they’re...” Suddenly Lelouch winched in pain.
“Are you okay?”
“I’ll be fine,” said Lelouch while holding his hoof against his left eye. “It’s just a recurring headache that’s been popping up at random for the last couple of days. Now, go back to Ashford Academy and help set up the new command center.”
C.C. shook her head. “I’m staying with you. I’m not leaving your side no matter what you say.”
“As willful as always,” Lelouch fumed. “You’re like a cat-coming and going as you please.”
“Perhaps I should have gotten whiskers and claws instead of hooves.” C.C.’s joke made Lelouch roll his eyes.
Microwaves, flatscreen televisions, desktop towers, monitors, laptops, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, printers, and many more devices of modern convenience rained down from the edge of the Settlement levels onto the surrounding army of Black Knights. These items, without a power source, were only useful as dead weight. The perimeter of the Settlement was a junkyard of broken appliances. Shattered glass from TVs, monitors, and microwaves crunched beneath thousands of hooves. An unfortunate horned Black Knight wasn’t watching where she stood and a falling mini-frig landed on her head and cracked her skull. Blood stained the pavement and side of the appliance. Some mundane ponies took hold of her hind legs and dragged her out of range of the Britannians’ attack, but it was too late for her. Another group of Black Knights, who strayed too close to the Settlement, was forced to scatter as a utility truck rolled off the edge of the Service Level and crashed. The broken body of a mundane stallion lay on top of the wreckage. A piece of rope was wrapped around his leg. When the Britannians rolled the truck off the edge, the stallion’s leg was tangled up in the broken piece of rope and was pulled down with it. The top of the heap of metal was stained red.
A couple of blocks away, another group of Black Knights, who were armored in a hodgepodge of aluminum siding, skillets, pans, and pieces of plywood bound by an assortment of rope and electrical wire, made their own attempt to penetrate the Settlement defenses. They had, in their possession, a trebuchet constructed from junk salvaged from the Old Tokyo ruins. The trebuchet consisted of a large pole held in a frame that pivoted on an axle running through the frame. The axle was closer to one end of the pole than the other making one side of the pole longer. The short side had a trough filled with dead weight for a counter balance on the end while the longer side ended in a sling, which was being pulled by a team of mundane and horned Black Knights. The team was connected together and the trebuchet arm by a chain running through makeshift yokes, constructed by whatever junk they could salvage, around their necks. Two winged Black Knights stood to the side and watched.
“Put your legs into it,” Tamaki, who was pulling lead, yelled behind him. “We have to clear those Britannians away from the Lifeline Level before we can move the siege tower.” The siege tower, in question, was about a quarter-block away. The nine-story tall skeletal frame structure rested on top of two flatbed trailers. It was an irregular trapezoidal structure -one side had a 45 degree slope while the other side was at a right angle. On the top was a long flap that acted like a drawbridge so that the siege tower can extend an additional four stories in order to reach the lower level of the Settlement.
“Didn’t Zero say to wait before we start the siege?” A rather young horned stallion right behind Tamaki asked. He had a brown mane, tan coat, and wore a pair of spectacles that was held in place by rubber bands tied around the arms.
“Zero’s going to give the order to attack soon anyway, Katsuragi,” Tamaki said as he strained against the tension in the chains binding the team to the trebuchet arm. “We’re just getting an early start.”
“Technically, we’re disobeying Zero in order to follow your commands.”
Tamaki glared angrily at Katsuragi. “Technically, you need to shut the hell up,” he said mockingly. Tamaki then noticed a thin pillar of smoke spiraling upward from the siege tower. “Why are you two just standing around gawking?” Tamaki yelled at the two winged recruits standing nearby. The shorter winged stallion had a blonde mane and blue coat while the taller winged stallion was the inverse of the shorter one with a blue mane and yellow coat. “Hurry up before our siege tower burns down.”
The Settlement defenders, in addition to dropping appliances on the Black Knights, dropped flammable items on the structure. However, the heavy rain from earlier had shielded the tower with a layer of moisture. The rainfall has served the double purpose of not only conducting the charge in the lightning but also offered some level of fireproofing to the siege towers. Nonetheless, some of the winged Black Knights, like the two smothering the small flame on the siege tower with wet blankets, were assigned to fire control.
Suddenly, the support beam holding up the trebuchet’s axle broke. The arm crashed into the trebuchet base. The team of ponies lost their balance and fell on top of each other from the back to the front.
“Dammit all to hell!” Tamaki yelled. “I thought I ordered you to check that thing yesterday, Katsuragi!” He said to the horned stallion behind him.
Katsuragi pressed his glasses against the bridge of his nose and spoke. “I told you that I didn’t have enough time to check both our siege tower *and* trebuchet. You shouldn’t have waited till the last minute to...”
“Don’t talk back to me, newbie!” Tamaki tilted his head down and placed a hoof on his forehead. “Why is this happening to me? I’m destined to be the only one not to make it inside.”
“May I ask what are you talking about, sir?” Katsuragi asked.
“All of the founding members of the Black Knights are already in the Settlement. Kallen’s there. Sugiyama’s there. Inoue’s there. C.C.’s there. Hell, even Ohgi’s there.”
“So, where is Zero?” A feminine voice asked.
“At some Britannian school called Ashford Academy...wait a sec!” Tamaki stopped and scanned the area. “Who the hell said that?” Tamaki didn’t recognize the voice.
“Yoohoo! Over here!" A horned mare with a curly, purple mane with pink highlights and a yellow coat of fur stood on the top of the pile of timber that was a trebuchet and waved to Tamaki. It was Meadow Prancer.
“Who are you? Are you a Black Knight, and if so, what...”
“I’m not with you dummies. I’m just here to find Zero for a friend of mine.”
Tamaki kneeled down, leaned against the yoke around his neck, and, with his forelegs, pushed against it. “Is that so, huh?” Tamaki grunted as he pried the yoke from his neck. “Well, that friend of yours is going to be disappointed when you don’t come back.” Tamaki galloped towards the horned mare. He proved to be quite agile as he hopped over the wreckage without slowing down, but just he was about to pounce Meadow Prancer, the horned mare vanished in a flash of light. The shock of someone disappearing caused Tamaki to lose his balance and trip on a piece of lumber.
“Sh...sh...sh...she turned invisible!” Tamaki stuttered.
“No, I didn’t, stupid,” said Meadow Prancer, who was now standing next to the other Black Knights. “I winked out.”
“‘Winked out’?!? What the hell is that?”
“It’s teleportation magic.”
“That’s a load of crap. There’s no such thing.”
“Just because you’re too stupid to perform magic doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
Meadow Prancer teleported just as some of the other Black Knights tried to pounce her from behind. Because they were still hitched together, they toppled back to the ground when they pulled too far on their chain. She was now at the foot of the siege tower. “Thanks for giving me a way inside.” She ran part of the way before teleporting to the edge of the drawbridge. Meadow Prancer took a running head-start, leaped off the siege tower and teleported onto the Lifeline Level of the Settlement with only a few inches between her back hooves and the edge. She waved at the Britannians guarding that level. “Yoohoo! I’m an Eleven, and I’m invading your Settlement.”
The Britannians, most of whom were either too focused on the Black Knights on the ground or too busy hauling more junk to rain down on the invading army to notice Meadow Prancer until she was already on the Lifeline Level. They looked at each other and then back at Meadow Prancer who, from their perspective, somehow snuck into the Settlement. Then, one of the mundane Britannians, an older gentleman with a white goatee that clashed with his feminine hot pink coat of fur, jumped in front of the others and pointed at Meadow Prancer.
“Throw that Eleven trash back down with the others!” He ordered.
“Yes, my lord,” the Britannian perimeter guard said in unison. The mundane and horned Britannians followed her on foot while the few winged Britannians fortunate enough to be assigned to the lower levels took flight. Meadow Prancer held off on teleporting away and looked above. A moment later, a blue streak cut across the Lifeline Level ceiling.
“Took him long enough,” Meadow Prancer said between gasps for air before teleporting out of the reach of the pursuing Britannians.
Back on the ground, Tamaki laid dumbfounded on the wrecked trebuchet. The recruits whispered amongst themselves.
“Maybe one of us should check on him, Tomoya.” The short winged stallion said to the taller one.
“You do it, Sunohara” the taller winged stallion replied. “I’m not getting yelled at.”
“We can’t leave him like this,” said Sunohara.
“Okazaki, Sunohara,” said Tamaki with barely contained rage that seethed beneath the surface, “I need an airlift.”
“But don’t we need the tarp for that?” Tomoya asked.
“Use your brain, Okazaki! We have plenty of rope. That’ll do.”
“You want to go up there...with all of those Britannians?!?” Sunohara squeaked. His knees knocked against each other as his legs quaked in trepidation.
“You morons, we don’t have to. She and that friend of hers are looking after Zero. We’ll head them at that Brit school. And when we do, I’M KICKING HER ASS!”
Cornelia and the others trotted into the foreboding and dimly-lit emergency command center. The atmosphere of the room suited the viceroy’s mood. Waiting for them were the command staff, which consisted of several prominent nobles. They studied one of the five maps of each of the Tokyo Settlement levels that, side by side, stretched across the length of the room.
A mundane stallion trotted to Cornelia and bowed down to her. “Your majesty, we were terribly worried about you. We thought you might have...”
“Where’s the sub-viceroy?” Cornelia interrupted.
“Over here, Viceroy.” Euphemia called out from the darkness in the far corner of the room. Her horn illuminated that part of the room. She stared at the floor. Her hair was unkempt and tangled. “They didn’t leave me behind.”
Cornelia frowned upon setting eyes on Euphemia and looked away from her. A sigh escaped from her lips. “Darlton, pick four airborne troops and airlift the Sub-Viceroy to one of the islands off the coast after sunset.”
“Yes, mi lady,” said Darlton.
“No! You can’t!” Euphemia objected. She ran to her sister’s side. “I won’t leave you behind!”
“Bind and gag the Sub-Viceroy if you have to!” Cornelia ordered. Euphemia, not wishing to be restrained, kept her mouth shut and laid on the floor. Her head tucked between her front legs. “Sector Q should be a relatively safe launching point. Am I correct?” Cornelia asked the mundane stallion.
“Yes, your majesty,” he nodded. “Sector Q is in the center of Port of Yokosuka.”
“That means,” Cornelia said to Darlton, “you have a clear path between the Settlement and Oshima Island, though you may have to stop at the Miura Peninsula. And Darlton, don’t forget our discussion.” It was a reminder to Darlton that Euphemia’s involvement in the escape of the Eleven prisoner was to be kept under wraps.
“I haven’t forgotten, mi lady.” Darlton said.
“Corporal,” Cornelia said to the horned Britannian who lead them through the lower levels, “after you lead Darlton to Sector Q, you are to proceed to the Asplund compound with orders for Warrant Officer Kururugi to bring the Lancelot to the to the auxiliary command center.”
About a quarter of the way around the Settlement, Tohdoh watched and waited for the end of a one-sided battle. He was balanced on his hind legs looking through binoculars held between his fetlocks. The winged Black Knights swarmed the sides of the Settlement. The perimeter defense counted on the winged Britannian troops stationed on the Top Level to provide air support, but the lightning attack deprived them of their protection. They were now at the mercy of the Black Knights. The few winged Britannians were quickly dispatched. Blood poured from the dozens of cuts made by fetlock blades; a deep red mist accompanied each winged Britannian downward. A few lucky Britannians took a Black Knight or two down with them, but for the most part, it was the dead bodies of winged Britannians that lay on the ground. A moment after the Britannian airborne troops were neutralized, the angry swarm of winged ponies then fell upon the perimeter defense. They were bulldozed by the sheer number of Black Knights. Most of the Britannians that went off the edge were still very much alive. Tohdoh had to steel his nerves as he watched these ponies flailed their legs in mid-air as they plunged fifty stories down before smashing against the ground below. He then scanned the other floors as well. Here, too, were one-sided massacres of the outnumbered Britannian troops by the flocks of winged Black Knights. Seeing that everything was going according to plan, Tohdoh eased himself back on all four and looked over his shoulder to three of his Four Holy Swords.
“Urabe, Senba, Chiba,” Tohdoh yelled. “We have a gap in their defenses. Order your troops to advance to sector H and I.”
“Yes, sir,” the three said in unison.
A moment later, thousands of ponies, who was also donned the same junk armor wore by Tamaki’s platoon, piled through the gap in the Settlement defense and into the lowest part of the Settlement. Some of them pulled broken down pick-up trucks with unexploded ordinances taken from their malfunctioned Frames and with huge barn fires burning in its beds. Others had piles of sharpened bamboo sticks tied to their backs.
“Kozuki thinks we can clear away their perimeter defense in sector G and give the ground forces another opening,” said Inoue as she, Lelouch, and C.C. exited the school grounds through the front gate.
“She shouldn’t be so impatient,” said Lelouch. “I won’t risk losing the opening we have already to gain more ground. We’ll see how many of our air troops it’ll take to hold our position before committing them to another engage...” Lelouch was interrupted when a brilliant light flared up in their path. C.C. jumped on top of Lelouch and braced herself for a possible attack. However, nothing happened. C.C. was still quite intact. She climbed off of Lelouch and saw, in the exact spot where the flash came from, Meadow Prancer.
“You two lovebirds should go somewhere private for that.”
“Wha?!?” C.C. said before she realized the horned mare was making an off-colored remark about her being on top of Lelouch. “Didn’t anyone tell you not to jump to conclusions?” If C.C. didn’t have fur, her face would have been beet red.
Inoue positioned herself between Lelouch and Meadow Prancer. “Who are you people and what the hell was that flash of light?”
Meadow Prancer shook her head. “You ponies don’t know anything do you?” She gloated.
Inoue raised a hoof that ended in a fetlock blade at Meadow Prancer. “I said tell us who you are.” All of a sudden, a shadow cast from above passed over them. Inoue turned his attention to the blue pegasus landing next to Lelouch. Inoue was about to take off and attack the intruder; but before she could strike, Lelouch forced Inoue to the ground. Her fetlock blades stuck into the dirt. “What was that for?” Inoue asked.
“That won’t be necessary,” said Lelouch. “He’s an annoying pest, but otherwise harmless.” Inoue cautiously folded back her wings. “Still being a nuisance as always!” Lelouch sneered.
“What about her?” Inoue asked as she pointed to Meadow Prancer.
“I’m with the annoying but harmless pest,” said Meadow Prancer.
“As much as you enjoy scolding me for not following your pacifistic philosophy, I don’t have time for it now.”
“I’m here to deliver a message from Princess Euphemia le Britannia.”
Lelouch looked over Sorato and noticed the two vertical stripes branded over his cutie mark. Lelouch raised an eyebrow and said mockingly, “A message you say? You mean the brand seared into your flesh?” Sorato averted his eyes from Lelouch. “You’ve been in their prisons, haven’t you? And even after suffering under their brutality, you still speak on their behalf?”
“I’m not just here for them. I’m trying to make peace for everypony.”
“Are you some sort of masochist? How many wounds...”
“It was Princess Cornelia’s idea to brand me, not Euphemia’s.”
“How many wounds must Britannia inflict upon you before you realized it’s a worthless dominion unfit to be saved?” Lelouch turned his back on Sorato. “Inoue, C.C., we don’t have time to waste on these fools.”
“She said she wants to negotiate a peace settlement with you.”
“And if Euphemia was viceroy, that would mean something,” Lelouch replied as he continued to trot away.
Sorato then yelled out, “and she said for me to ask you about the villa.” Lelouch stopped in his tracks. “She said if that meant anything to you, then you are the pony she thinks you are.”
The villa? Did she mean the Ares Villa? The Ares Villa was where Lelouch and Nunnally lived with their mother Lady Marianne before they were exiled to Japan to serve as political hostages eight years ago. “Did she say anything else?”
“She said something about being at the student council club house and that she was visiting someone there she haven’t seen in eight years.” Sorato noticed that Lelouch was tensed up. “Does any of this hold any meaning for you?”
“You’ve said enough already. Now leave.”
C.C. took Lelouch to the side, just out of earshot of Inoue, and whispered into Lelouch’s ear. “She knew about you and Nunnally being alive and figured out that you were Zero, but she still kept it a secret. Do you still have plans to kill Euphemia?”
“I don’t know,” Lelouch said just high enough for C.C. to hear.
Meadow Prancer watched Lelouch, Inoue, and C.C. trot off. “Well, you delivered your message. Let’s call it a day and get the hay out of here.” Sorato didn’t reply. “Hey Sorato, aren’t you paying attention?” Sorato was staring off at a distant tower centered on the High Ground Level. “Yoo hoo! Sorato!”
Sorato unfurled his wings. “We can’t leave yet. We can’t leave until I check on Euphemia.”
Meadow Prancer’s eyes bulged out. “Are you crazy?!?”
“She risked everything to save me!”
“And it’ll be for nothing if you get yourself killed.”
“And what’s the point of saving my life if I do anything useful with it?”
“You can’t be serious?”
Sorato looked sternly at Meadow Prancer. “Do I look like I’m kidding around? Well?” Sorato paused for a moment for Meadow Prancer to answer, but the unicorn mare was at a loss for words. “Stay here and wait for me. I’m going to the palace to check on her,” Sorato said as he turned his back on Meadow Prancer.
“I wouldn’t look for Euphemia there,” Meadow Prancer said as she scraped the concrete sidewalk with a hoof.
“It’s overrun by Zero’s ponies. That means either she’s somewhere else or they captured her, and since Zero didn’t say anything to you about it...”
“...Zero doesn’t have her and she’s probably in hiding.”
“There’re two places where she can be: with the viceroy and under heavy guard or, if the viceroy wants out of harm’s way, or the eastside of the settlement facing the bay. They’ll probably wait until sunset to move her under cover of darkness.” Meadow Prancer looked up at Sorato and smiled. “It would help if I come with you.”
Sorato chuckled. “I take back almost everything I said about you being useless.”
Deep inside the Asplund compound’s Knightmare motor pool, Suzaku waited patiently for his orders to go into battle. It had been well over an hour since the attack began, or at least according to Suzaku’s best guess. He paced back and forth in front of the Lancelot stirred into restlessness by the fear that Euphie may have been captured by the Black Knights or that Cornelia was killed in that bizarre, unnatural lightning storm. Lloyd was behind the Lancelot hovering just behind its back and was making adjustments to the nuclear reactors. He was turning a wrench with his mouth while holding a panel between his front hooves.
“Ms. Cecile,” Lloyd said as he dropped the wrench, “could you float me a flathead screwdriver?” The wrenched fell within a foot of Cecile.
“Lloyd!” Cecile yelled behind. “You almost hit me.”
“Sorry, Ms. Cecile” said Lloyd. Cecile grunted before levitating the wrench.
Cecile was at the Lancelot’s heels levitating tools for Lloyd. Off to the side were four horned Britannian guards. Each one wore a belt with a sword and sheave hanging from it. Cowering behind them was Nina.
“How much longer are you going to take?” One of the guards called out to Lloyd. “The Knightmare has to ready to deploy when we receive orders from the Viceroy.”
“I’m almost done replacing the valve on the coolant bypass,” Lloyd replied.
Cecile studied the four guards intensely. As she did, one of them grinned devilishly at her and winked. A tingle ran up her spine.
“Nina,” said Cecile, “could you come over here and help me?”
“Yes ma’am,” Nina came out from behind the guards to be at Cecile’s side. “What do you need help with?”
“Just stay here just in case I need you,” Cecile replied.
As Lloyd finished screwing the panel back into place, hoofsteps echoed through the lower level garage. The light from a horn came out of the darkest part of the motor pool from where the exits leading down to the lower levels were. It was the horned Britannian that led Cornelia through the lower levels. Suzaku got into a fighting stance, and the four guards drew their swords.
“State your name, rank, and serial number,” one of the guards ordered.
“Corporal Cal Ledford, 46LS-32J,” said the horned pony.
“State your business.”
“I’m here to relay orders from the Viceroy to Warrant Officer Kururugi. You are to take the Lancelot to the auxiliary command center and receive further instructions from the Viceroy herself.”
“Do you know if the Sub-Viceroy made it out of the palace?” Suzaku asked. “I saw it being overrun by the Black Knights just before we took cover.”
“That’s none of your business, you nosy Eleven.”
“Just tell me if she made it out alive or not.”
“Fine,” Corporal Ledford said while rolling his eyes, “she made it out of the palace alive. I saw her at the auxiliary command center myself. Now, carry out your orders.”
Suzaku nodded. “Look, I can’t just leave you here. I can carry you to safety in a containment module. It’ll be a tight squeeze, but I think I can fit you all in.”
The guard that winked at Cecile shook his head. “Not to worry. Once we kill these three,” he said pointing to Lloyd, Cecile, and Nina, “there’ll be plenty of room for us.” Nina hid behind Cecile quivering in fear.
“What do you mean ‘kill these three’?!?” Suzaku said in disbelief.
“Haven’t you figured it out yet, Suzaku?” Lloyd asked rhetorically. “They’re not our guards; they’re our executioners.”
“We have orders from the Viceroy herself to kill these three just in case the Settlement defenses are breeched,” the guard gloated. “We were just waiting for the earl to finish working on the Knightmare.”
“But I can get you all to safety.” Suzaku objected. “It’s unnecessary.”
“And let the Viceroy find out that we didn’t carry her orders out right away? Now step aside and let us do our job.”
“But we won’t be able to get the Knightmares working if you kill them.”
“And if the Elevens get their hands on them, they could destroy the empire with that new power source of theirs...unless that’s what you want them to do, Eleven.”
“I’m a loyal soldier of Britannia. I would never...”
“Then let us do our duty and kill them. We can’t waste time arguing over three Britannians. Think of the millions that will die because you insisted on letting them live.” The guard took a perverse gratification from the mind game he was playing on Suzaku. “If their deaths upset a soft-hearted Number like you, then imagine how you’d feel if the terrorists got their hands on this top secret technology.”
Suzaku was at a crossroads-friends or duty; protect innocent life at the risk of the safety of the Empire. He looked back and forth between the closest thing he had to family and the soldiers. His eyes finally rested on Lloyd.
“Well, Suzaku,” said Lloyd solemnly, “will you follow orders and leave us to die?”
The hum of the Lancelot’s landspeeder motor was a welcomed relief for Cornelia and Guilford. The white Knightmare emerged from the shadows and slid to a stop beside Cornelia and Guilford.
“Warrant Officer Kururugi Suzaku, reporting for duty, your majesty,” said Suzaku over the Lancelot’s loudspeaker. The Lancelot genuflected in front of Cornelia.
“What the hell took you so long?” Cornelia asked in an impatient tone.
“A thousand pardons, you majesty, but Earl Asplund insisted on tweaking the heat exchangers. He never imaged the Black Knights would have already broken our...”
“Never mind that! The flying Elevens created a gap on our perimeter defense and now their forces are pouring into the Low Ground Level.” Cornelia levitated some paper next to the cockpit. “I jotted down your mission profile. Follow it as close as circumstance will allow you.” Suzaku opened the cockpit and grabbed the instructions between his teeth.
“I can be ready to counterattack in thirty-four minutes, your majesty,” Suzaku said after reading over the instructions. “By the way, did the sub-viceroy made it out of the palace? Is she here?”
“The Sub-Viceroy is in an undisclosed location, but if it eases your mind, she’s hasn’t been harmed. Now follow your orders, Warrant Officer.”
“Yes my lord,” said Suzaku.
Shogo Asahina plunged down and skewered a mundane Britannian as he was fending off a pair of winged Black Knights. The fetlock blade penetrated the back of the ribcage and through the heart. As Asahina pulled the knife out, a crimson geyser erupted from the Britannian’s back. It only took seconds for the Britannian to bleed to death. This same process of overwhelming the unprepared and poorly armed perimeter defense repeated itself thousands of times until the Transport Level floor was painted dark red from the dead Britannians that stretched as far as the eye could see.
Asahina flew in front of some winged Black Knights off on the side resting. “Don’t slack off just yet just because we have an opening!” Asahina ordered. “We need the gap in the Brits’ defenses to be as wide as possible for our ground forces.”
One of the recruits, a winged mare, spoke up. “But we were just catching our...”
“I said rest later!” Asahina snapped at her.
“Yes sir,” the others said in unison. Then, out of nowhere, the interlocking plates of the Office Level rattled from a series of explosion from above.
“What the hell was that?” Another recruit asked.
“Kami-sama!” Asahina shouted out. The lifeless bodies of dozens of winged Black Knights dropped from the level above.
“Did the Brits planted bombs?” The recruit asked. “I didn’t think they’d use explosives in the Settle...”
Suddenly, the winged ponies back away when a large humanoid shadow descended from the Office Level. A pair of Slash Harkens, harpoon-like weapons used on Knightmares, was fired from the shadow and embedded themselves into the ceiling. The shadow swung from the tether and, in seconds, closed the distance between it and the winged Black Knights. It then threw a cylindrical object from its free hand.
“DUCK FOR COVER!” Asahina yelled. “IT’S A CHAOS GENADE!” But it was too late. A cascade of metal fragments rained down on the winged Black Knights including Asahina.
Kallen was on the Lifeline Level, the second lowest level of the Tokyo Settlement when she heard the explosions from above. She flew up to the Transport Level and saw the winged Black Knights pulling out of the Settlement in mass. Kallen sped ahead of the flock and hovered between them and the ghettos.
“Where the hell are you going?” She yelled. “You can’t just leave in the middle of a battle.”
“It’s not a battle,” a male Black Knight spoke up. “It’s a massacre. Zero lied to us.” There were murmurs of agreement in the crowd.
“What do you mean Zero lied?”
“The Britannians have working Knightmare Frames.”
“That’s impossible! Technology doesn’t work anymore.”
“Then what’s that,” the stallion pointed to the smoke coming from the Transport Level.
“Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back.” Kallen swooped down and was about to glide in the level when she veered off-course and behind one of the Settlement’s numerous support pillar. Despite the large fins and modified energy filler, Kallen recognized it as the white custom Frame she fought against in several battles. The Lancelot carried a stockpile of Chaos Grenades inside the containment modules that were attached to Knightmare Frames for hauling additional supplies. She watched from behind as the Lancelot leaped off the Transport Level and fired a Slash Harken at the Lifeline Level ceiling and swung inside.
The explosions beneath her were a sign that the soldiers Zero placed under her command were being slaughtered. Kallen went against her better judgment and tagged behind the Lancelot. The winged Black Knights who were fighting so bravely before were in a state of panic. Kallen nearly collided with some trying to reach the open skies. Others fled deeper into the settlement.
“Retreat!” Kallen cried out. “Fall back!” The order was being repeated as Kallen darted back and forth warning the other Black Knights.
Those who heard the command followed Kallen. Some of the others who fled further into the Settlement doubled back and tagged behind the others.
“Okay,” said Kallen, “we can stop. I think we’re far enough away.” However, most of them disregarded the order and continued flying away. Kallen pulled ahead and hovered in front of them. “Where the hell are you going?”
“You didn’t notice the Knightmare Frame,” said a winged stallion. “We can’t fight that.” The others murmured amongst themselves in agreement.
Kallen gritted her teeth. “Just fall back to the clouds. It can’t reach you there.”
“You talk as if that’s the only piece of tech they have. What if they have planes? Then what?”
“Then you’re no better off than in the ghettos!”
“That’s a laugh,” the stallion scoffed. “At least in the ghettos we’ll still be alive.”
Kallen slapped him on the cheek. “You won’t be if you abandon your posts. If you desert the Black Knights in the middle of a fight, you’d better hope the Britannians do kill you because what I’ll do to you will be a helluva worse. Understand?” The others averted their eyes from Kallen. “I SAID DO YOU UNDERSTAND OR NOT!”
“Yes ma’am,” said the stallion who was rubbing the spot where Kallen slapped him
“That’s more like it. Now go the fallout position in the clouds and wait for my signal.”
“What about you?” A mare asked.
“Someone has to stay and warn Zero.”
“Are you sure the Sub-Viceroy is secure?” Darlton asked a horned Britannian guard. Princess Euphemia was cuddled up in nylon netting, and her hooves were bound together by straps. The four corners if the net was tied to rope, which in turn, was tied around the waist of four flight-capable Britannians. They were in the Transport Level about a block away from the edge of the Settlement. It was close enough that ambient light from outside provided sufficient illumination.
“Yes my lord,” the horned Britannian replied. “We can do a test flight and her majesty’s escorts can hover just a few inches off the ground to see if it holds.”
“Take your time, but not too much,” said Darlton.
“Please, General Darlton,” Euphemia begged, “don’t do this.”
“I’m sorry, mi lady, but the Viceroy has orders for you to be taken to safety.”
“You can’t expect me to abandon my own people at a time like this.”
“I have my orders.”
“You don’t understand.”
Darlton’s lips trembled. “With all due respect, your majesty,” Darlton said in a strained voice, “I do. You have no faith in your sister. For once in your life, trust the Viceroy’s judgment and do as she says, *please*.”
“It’s not like I have any choice.”
“Good thing you don’t,” Darlton mumbled at a volume too low for Euphemia to clearly hear what he was saying. Then, all of a sudden, the net untied itself and deposited Princess Euphemia on the ground. The four winged Britannian guards and Darlton was scooped up and tangled in the net. A blue streak appeared out of nowhere, and a pair of hind legs kicked the horned Britannian under the ribcage and knocked the breath out of him.
Darlton and the other winged Britannians, in a state of panic, struggled against the net only to be further entangled in it. “How dare you come back after dishonoring our princess!” Darlton yelled at Sorato.
Meadow Prancer glared at her partner. “You and her? How could you?”
“Get your mind out of the gutter, will ya?” Sorato said defensively. “He’s talking about the princess breaking me out of prison and getting in trouble for it.”
“Oh! Sorry, I thought you meant Sorato had sex with your princess.”
“You’re only making them madder,” Sorato grumbled.
Sure enough, Darlton yanked against the netting even harder, much to the dismay of the other Britannians trapped inside. They were struggling to breath as the interwoven threaded pressed them together.
“Um...sorry about that.” Meadow Prancer said with a sheepish grin.
“A little help, if you don’t mind,” said Sorato.
“Oh, okay.” Meadow Prancer tugged on the straps.
“Ouch, ouch, ouch, please not so rough,” Euphemia cried out.
“Stop pulling on it,” Sorato yelled. “You’re hurting here.” The straps were cutting into Euphemia’s legs. Sorato looked over the winged Britannians in the net and grabbed a knife, which was within reach and not tangled in the net, off of one of them. “Hold still,” Sorato told Euphemia. He gripped the night in his teeth and sliced the bindings in half.
“Please mi lady,” said Darlton, “it’s too dangerous for you. The Settlement is still under attack.”
“Darlton, I promise I’ll come back for you.”
“Think about your sister, Cornelia.”
“I am thinking about her. That’s why I’m going back.”
Euphemia, Meadow Prancer, and Sorato galloped off to the service entrance.
“I didn’t catch your name,” Euphemia said to Meadow Prancer.
“I’m Aida Akeno,” said Meadow Prancer.
“What is your majesty?”
“You’re Japanese but you don’t sound like it.”
Meadow Prancer took a few seconds to answer. “I learned to speak English without an accent in order to fit in better as an honorary Britannian.”
“Oh, that makes sense.”
“As far as I can tell, it’s only one Knightmare,” said Kallen. “But one was enough decimate our airborne division, and the majority of the survivors has fled. I got some of them to stay in the fallback position in the clouds, but I wouldn’t count on them waiting for long.” To Kallen’s dismay, Zero was staring at C.C. the whole time. “Haven’t you been paying attention, Zero? We have to retreat and...”
“That’s the exact opposite of what we must do,” Lelouch proclaimed with the familiar dramatic and theatrical bluster of his Zero persona. “If we retreat, Cornelia will modify the other Knightmares as she did with the white custom model.”
“But Zero, this isn’t like fighting that old Ganymede. The only thing we had that could take on the white Knightmare is my Knightmare, the Gurren Mark II, and it’s out of commission.”
Lelouch glanced at C.C. “No, there is one other way. Kallen, prep an airlift for C.C. and myself. We’ll be heading down the elevator shaft to the water circulation system beneath the school.”
“But why?!? Shouldn’t you be airlifted out of here? What if the white Knightmare comes topside?”
“It won’t. Cornelia cleared away out airborne forces in order to re-establish her perimeter defense. And now that Tohdoh and his troops beneath the Settlement are cut off from the rest of the ground forces, Cornelia will finish them off with the Lancelot and ever how many soldiers from the Settlement defense she can spare. Now hurry, Tohdoh’s forces will be obliterated if we don’t make haste.” Kallen was about to leave when Lelouch called out to her. “One more thing before you go.”
“Yes Zero?” Kallen asked.
“When you’re done prepping our escort, get as many airborne troops as possible and bring them to the Low Ground Level through the same elevator shaft.”
“That’s an awfully small passageway to bring troops through.”
“Don’t worry. You won’t have that many willing to take on a Knightmare.”
“I don’t think I’ll have any at all.”
“Tell them I’ll do to the Knightmare what I did to the Ganymede. The only thing you’ll be lying about is the method.”
“And how are you going to stop it?”
“You doubt me, Kozuki, even though you’ve witnessed my deeds firsthand? Have I ever let you down?”
“No, you haven’t.”
“Then hurry.” As Kallen hurried off, Lelouch said to C.C., “now I need a miracle from you.”
“You mean the one from the Battle of Narita?”
It was the day when the Black Knights first attempted to capture Viceroy Cornelia. The Britannians discovered that the remnants of the Japanese Defense Force were hiding in the Narita Mountains and Lelouch sent the Black Knights ahead to set up an ambush for Cornelia. In the fight, Lelouch’s Knightmare was destroyed but not before he ejected. The cockpit skipped along the ground like a rock across the surface of a pond. When the cockpit finally came to a stop, the Lancelot was waiting for him. When he opened his hatch, Lelouch found himself staring down the barrel of a VARIS rifle, and for a Knightmare, the term ‘rifle’ is, in actuality, referring to the cannons designed to be wielded by fifteen-foot tall humanoid robots.
“Stop right now,” said C.C., “don’t even think about hurting him.” She walked along the trench carved into the earth by Lelouch’s cockpit when it slid to a stop and placed her hand on the Lancelot’s leg.
“Wait!” Lelouch yelled out. “What are you doing? You’re challenging a Knightmare?”
“It’s a problem if you die. It’ll be indirect contact, but it’s worth a try.” The Geass symbol on C.C.’s forehead glowed to life.
One moment, Suzaku was in his Knightmare in shock that the girl that he watched die in Shinjuku, and the next he was visions flashing before his eyes. First he saw two large, metallic spheres one suspended in space above the other. The scene then changed to a crowd consisting of young girls with dark tan skin, all of them dressed in white and had bird symbols, glowing red, etched on their skin. The vision finally changed to a world bathed in white and was face-to-face with a vision of a middle-aged man staring disapprovingly back at him. “Father,” Suzaku said in disbelief, “you’re dead. That’s impossible!” In the background was sound of clock pendulums rocking back and forth in the background. “No, I didn’t mean to,” Suzaku said apologetically. “No, I just...”
“Hey, are you using Geass on him?” Lelouch came to C.C.’s side.
“I’m just feeding him some shock images. I can’t tell what he’s seeing, though. Anyway, you got time to get away, now.”
“What about you?”
“I can’t move yet. You go first.”
“Don’t be foolish. I can’t keep owing you favors.” Lelouch placed his hand on her shoulder.
C.C. arched back. “No, not now!”
Lelouch was caught inside the illusion with Suzaku. An angry mob was assaulting a gothic cathedral. Rocks were hurled at the top of the building arch, but in place of the cross was the Geass symbol. As with Suzaku, the vision shifted sporadically-a nun with the Geass symbol on her forehead kneeling down to pray, C.C. sitting in the water naked and with a Geass symbol scar under her left breast, soldiers in WWI-era uniform fighting in the trenches. The final vision was the most disturbing. Lelouch was in the pure white world with Suzaku surrounded by phantoms wandering aimlessly. The image ended abruptly, and Lelouch was snapped back into reality. The Lancelot began firing at random.
“What’s happening to him?”
“Idiot! Get away now!” Suddenly, a rock fragments pierced C.C.’s sternum. Realizing the danger Lelouch was in; C.C. held out her arms and acted as a human shield. More rock fragments punctured her body. The last thing C.C. remembered from that encounter was Lelouch catching her as she fell back.
End of Flashback
“Just remember-don’t touch me while I’m feeding the shock imagines to the pilot,” C.C. warned.
“I’ll make sure that you’re protected. Just keep the Knightmare immobilized,” said Lelouch.
Tens of thousands of horned and mundane Black Knights amassed at the Low Ground Level. The only source of light were barn fires set inside the bed of beat-up utility vehicles and rusty pick-up trucks whose tireless rims cut grooves into the concrete floor. The center of the formation was lit up in a bright yellow glow. The barn fires on the outer edge cast long shadowy daggers along the floor that faded in and out with the passing of carts full of the refuge that the Britannians piled into the ground level passageways. A team of horned Black Knights levitated pieces of junks just long enough to plant unexploded VARIS rounds underneath.
“Don’t bother with the small pieces,” Tohdoh admonished a horned stallion. “Concentrate on the large ones, instead.”
“Just watch me and follow my lead,” said Senba Ryoga. He levitated a partially dented microwave.
“But I’m trying to dig her out.” The horned stallion pointed to the bloodied body of a mundane pony buried from the sternum down in the pile of junk.
“It’s too late for her,” Senba replied.
“But if we blow up the junk pile now, their bodies would be desecrated.”
“I don’t like it either, but it’s better than losing the battle and getting more Japanese killed.”
The horned stallion nodded in agreement. “I understand, sir.” He disregarded the body of his deceased comrade and went back to planting explosives.
“Colonel Tohdoh!” A mundane mare called out. “Where are you?”
“Over here!” Tohdoh waved to her. “What’s the problem?”
The mundane mare raised an eyebrow and pointed to the partially buried Black Knight. “What happened to her?”
“A trap rigged up by the Britannians. I warned them about it, but some of our soldiers were too stubborn for their own good. Now what is it that you want?”
“We’re been cut off, sir.”
“‘Cut off’?!? Did the Britannians re-establish their defense perimeter?”
The mare nodded. “We heard explosions on the upper levels. Right after that, the airborne forces flew off, and the Brits were raining their junk down on us again.”
“They must have booby-trapped the perimeter with IEDs.” As Tohdoh was speaking, one of the Black Knights screamed in terror.
“Something poked out of the barricade!” A horned mare yelled.
Tohdoh pointed to the mound. “I need lights on that junkpile.” Senba and some of the other horned Black Knights lit up their horns and pointed to the mound. Giant metallic fingers poked through and pulled a handful of junk on the other side of the debris pile. Then the metallic hand pushed its way through and took another handful of junk with it.
“It’s a Knightmare!” One mare screamed.
“We’re going to die!” A stallion cried out.
The Black Knights were in a panic. The teams of mundane Black Knights wrestled with their yokes desperately trying to free themselves. The lower level was filled with desperate neighs. Some of the horned Black Knights helped to free their comrades but others retreated back to the ghettos without the mundanes.
“Get those men loose, Senba,” said Tohdoh as he shot off running. “Chiba, Urabe,” Tohdoh called out to the two remaining Holy Swords, “get these people under control.” While they were busy calming their panic-stricken recruits, Tohdoh was running down the deserters. He showed great physical prowess and circled around a group of horned Black Knights and cut them off at the pass. “Stop!” He yelled. Fearing that he would be stomped to death by the wall of terrorized horned ponies, Tohdoh backed away. “I SAID ‘STOP’! THAT’S AN ORDER!” The more disciplined recruits heeded the command, but the rest kept running. Tohdoh sidestepped the stampeding deserters and narrowly avoided being impelled with a horn in a head-on collision. After losing sight of the deserters, Tohdoh admonished the ones that were left. “We’re not leaving our comrades behind. I won’t accept cowardice from you.” Some of the horned Black Knights that remained behind couldn’t bear to look Tohdoh in the eyes without feeling shame for letting fear get the better of them and abandoning their fellow Black Knights. “We don’t have much time to help free them.” The horned Black Knights, swayed by the scolding they received from Tohdoh, double-backed.
By now, the Knightmare had enough of the debris cleared away that its head was visible. The horned Black Knights worked frantically to free the thousands of mundane Black Knights from their harnesses. The teams of mundane Black Knights hitched together by rope were the first to be freed as the horned Black Knights cut the restraints. The problem was the teams who were hitched with chains. None of the bladed weapons wielded by the horned Black Knights would cut through. The harnesses had to be unhitched manually.
“Don’t you bastards dare run off!” Tohdoh yelled at the mundane Black Knights who were fleeing the battlefield. He ran beside the mundane Black Knight in the lead and sideswiped him. The mundane stallion was taken off his hoofs and tumbled on the ground. Some of the other mundane Black Knights stopped when Tohdoh cut in front of them. “You’re not leaving your comrades behind either! Now go back there and help them!”
The mundane Black Knights glanced back and forth between the Black Knights still hitched to their vehicles and the white Knightmare still digging through the junk pile.
“No way man! I didn’t sign up to fight a Knightmare!” He picked himself up and sped off with more mundane ponies not far behind.
Tohdoh eyed the few that stayed behind. “Well? Are you standing by your fellow Black Knights or are you leaving them to die?” They headed back and began unhitching the Black Knights still trapped in their harnesses. Tohdoh had to repeat this process with each new group of deserters. As disgusted as he was with their cowardice, Tohdoh knew, deep down inside, that he couldn’t completely blame them. Facing down even one Knightmare was a hard thing to ask of anyone, especially these new recruits.
While Tohdoh was busy convincing the others not to abandon their comrades, the mundane ponies were doing the best they could to help their horned brethren. They didn’t have hands or telekinesis. Everything had to be done by mouth. Not only that, but the debris pile was whittled down to the Knightmare’s waist, and it wouldn’t take long before it broke through.
Realizing time was running out, Tohdoh put the deserters aside and ran over to some mundane ponies still hitched to their wagons. “Pull the explosives next to the entrance! We’ll unhitch you when you move the wagon into position.” The Black Knights followed his orders and pulled the wagon beside the entrance before they were unchained. “Senba,” Tohdoh called out the elder Holy Sword, “grab a detonator and get ready to set it off on my signal.”
Senba already had a detonator and was busy rigging it up to a stick of C-4. “Already on it, sir-I hope you don’t mind me jumping the gun.”
“Not at all,” said Tohdoh. He ran over to some horned Black Knights who were unhitching some mundane Black Knights from a barn fire truck and pointed to another pick-up loaded down with munitions. “Push those explosives next to the entrance after you’ve freed them from their harness.” After the horned Black Knights freed their mundane pony comrades, they both galloped to the nearest dilapidated pick-up filled with unexploded ordnances and pushed it towards the entrance.
As they were being set loose from their restraints, the remaining Black Knights strained and toiled against the weight of the explosives and pushed the broken down trucks and deposited them around. With each load of explosives dropped off near the entrance, the Knightmare took off another couple of inches off the top of the mound of junk. By the time the Knightmare had the junk pile whittled down to his knees, all of the Black Knights were set free and most of the IED’s were in place.
“Everyone, fall back! Now!” Tohdoh called out. As he was issuing his order, the Knightmare began to crawl through. “Now Senba,” Tohdoh yelled.
Senba levitated the bomb over to the pick-up in the center and dropped in the truck bed. The Knightmare pilot noticed the object Senba dropped into one of the pick-ups, and backed away just as the bomb detonated and set off a chain of explosions. The pathway between the two levels collapsed.
Ohgi was limping down the hallway and was accompanied by Inoue when Tamaki, Sunohara, and Tomoya galloped around the corner. Tamaki had rope burns running just behind his shoulders and waist.
“Oghi!” Tamaki called out. “Where the hell is Zero? I though he said our command center would be in the student council building.”
“Tamaki, what are you doing here?”
Tamaki rubbed the rope burn. “Nevermind that. I have to warn Zero.”
“He already knows about the Knightmare, Tamaki.”
“Wait a second! The Britannians got another museum piece?”
“I don’t know about that, but it was enough to scare off our air forces.”
“I bet that girl had something to do with it.”
“The one that broke in here. She’s probably an assassin. Now where’s Zero?”
“The Low Ground Level with Colonel Tohdoh-there’s an elevator shaft leading to the bottom level on the school grounds.”
“Okay, airlift me to the Low Ground Level.”
Sunohara shook his head. “I’m not going down there with a Knightmare Frame.”
Tamaki bared his teeth with all of the ferocity of a rabid wolf. His eyes were daggers bearing down the cowardly winged stallion. “Keep two things in mind, Sunohara. One-that Knightmare pilot doesn’t know where you live, but I do. Two-you can’t fly in your sleep. Now, who is it you should afraid of pissing off more?”
“You,” Sunohara yelped.
“You, Platoon Commander Shinichirō, sir.”
“And what about you?” Tamaki said while glaring at Tomoya.
Tomoya closed his eyes and said with a happy-go smile, “feel free to murder Sunohara in his sleep.”
“Don’t encourage him, Tomoya!” Sunohara cried.
Tohdoh and Senba managed to duck behind a supply wagon which shielded them from the torrent of shrapnel and debris. It was situated far enough away from the blast to not be pulverized by the shockwave. However, the two stallions had a throbbing pain and a ringing in their ears. Senba rubbed his ears while Tohdoh looked around. There was still enough lighting to see movement coming from one of the sealed off service entrances. The white Knightmare had survived the explosion and was busy clearing away rubbish.
“This isn’t good,” said Tohdoh. “The Brits still have their Knightmare.
“Did you say the Knightmare is still around? Tell me that’s just my ears ringing, sir.”
Tohdoh shook his head. “We should be so lucky. Come on, we have to tend to the troops.” He and Senba hastened back to the sector where the ground troops first penetrated the Settlement perimeter.
Only a half-mile away, Tohdoh and Senba were reunited with their troops. It was a shameful reunion for some-to come face-to-face with their fellow Black Knights that they left to die. The Settlement boundary was etched out in discarded junk and Black Knights killed by falling debris. Some of the foolish ones attempted to make a break for the ghettos, but once they crossed the perimeter, they became easy prey for Cornelia’s forces on the upper levels. An avalanche of junk rained down upon them. A box full of kitchen knives skewered several fleeing ponies. A falling flat screen television snapped the back of a horned stallion.
“Help!” He cried out. “I can’t move. I can’t feel my legs.” His screams were forever silenced when a brick amongst many split his skull open. Only a handful escaped with their lives intact. The perimeter defense cut off all the possible escape routes. Their last ditch effort to save their own lives, which was purchased with their own honor and respect, was for nothing, and now they would have to face their old commander.
“So, you cowards couldn’t get away, huh?” Tohdoh asked.
“Please forgive us, Colonel Tohdoh.”
“I don’t need groveling! If you’re worth anything, you’ll fight with me till the bitter end. Is that understood?”
“I’m not apologizing for anything.” It was the mundane stallion Tohdoh pushed down earlier. “It’s a death sentence to fight against a Knightmare.”
Tohdoh pointed to the ghettos. “Then leave,” he bellowed. The mundane stallion didn’t reply. “Well?” The mundane stallion was still silent. “I thought so. For those of you that haven’t lost your nerve, we fight to the death and, if we are defeated, make the Britannians pay for their victory in their own blood. Our best chance is to get up close and personal to Cornelia’s forces. The Britannians won’t be able to use their Knightmare against us without attacking their own.”
The Black Knights readied themselves for a final stand. The horned Black Knights mounted makeshift spears, sharpened bamboo sticks, on their mundane compatriots. They then drew their own weapons. The hodgepodge of clubs, knives, and improvised melee weapons hovered in mid-air and were covered in a ghostly aura.
When the white Knightmare finished digging debris out of the entrance, Cornelia climbed over what was left of the junk pile and surveyed the area. From a distance away, what was left of the last service entrance was still smothering from the explosion. There was still dilapidated trucks left standing. Some of them still had their barn fires burning.
“Coming to battle with worthless junk?!?” Cornelia scoffed. “How low you Elevens have sunk?” Cornelia looked over her shoulder. “Warrant Officer Kururugi,” she said. “Take down as many terrorists as you can. Once they’re numbers have been depleted, we’ll finish off the rest.”
“Yes, your majesty,” said Suzaku over the Knightmare loudspeakers. The Lancelot stepped over the remaining debris. In his hand was a scythe-the ‘blade’ was a steel plate cut off from a larger piece and was welded to the end of a bent girder and the handles were smaller girders welded on the sides of the main girder.
“Why are we waiting here on standby, your majesty?” Guilford asked Cornelia.
“Because if we go out there, the Elevens will engage our forces in close quarter combat making it impossible for the Lancelot to attack them.”
Tohdoh watched for the Britannian forces to pour through the entrance and come after them, but all that he could see coming was the Lancelot. It was going too fast to be accompanied by Cornelia’s ground forces. It was rapidly closing in and would be on top of them in a minute. It became apparent to Tohdoh that Cornelia anticipated his strategy and sent the white Knightmare alone.
“Change in plan. On my mark, get out of formation. Find a sturdy structure for shelter and make Cornelia’s forces come after us. Now, break formation!” The Black Knights scattered in all directions.
The Lancelot set his sights on the largest grouping of Black Knights and attacked. When held at an angle, the scythe blade was parallel to the ground, which was perfect for killing earthbound mundane and horned ponies. Suzaku took a swing as some fleeing Black Knights. Though the blade edge wasn’t sharpened, the momentum was enough to kill. The blow killed instantly and tossed a partially cleaved-in-half pony body in the air. Another swing took off a pony’s head and knocked a chuck of the other pony’s spine. The Lancelot then held out the scythe and sped across the battlefield. The scythe mowed down any pony that the Lancelot passed by. A line of mangled and dismembered pony corpses snaked out for hundreds of yards. Then, without warning, the Lancelot skidded to a stop.
“Warrant Officer Kururugi,” Cornelia’s voice crackled over the comm. system, “what the hell are you doing? Why did you stop attacking?”
“I’m assessing the situation, your majesty,” Suzaku apologized.
“What’s there to assess? Just kill as many as you can, Warrant Officer.”
“Yes, your majesty.” Suzaku, from inside his cockpit, closed his eyes and took a deep breath to settle his trembling legs. “This isn’t a battle.” Suzaku hung head down and took another deep breath. “This is nothing but a massacre.” Suzaku activated the Factspheres, a pair of sensors placed in the Frame’s chest. “I’ll find Zero and make him surrender.” He surveyed the section for any Black Knight that resembled Zero. It was hard to make out anything in the chaos of fleeing ponies screaming for dear life. But one voice, despite being obscured by the multitudes, stood out. Suzaku adjusted the Factspheres and singled out the mundane pony commanding the Black Knights. It was a voice he hadn’t heard since Japan was an independent nation when he was being trained in the martial arts. It was his old master, Tohdoh Kyoshiro.
“Don’t stand around because the Knightmare took a pause!” Tohdoh yelled. “Don’t go in there! That structure won’t stop a Knightmare. It’ll collapse on top of you. Head for the maintenance access tunnels.” Then Tohdoh noticed the Lancelot looking directly at him. The scythe was discarded and struck the ground with a loud metallic clang. The Lancelot’s landspeeders came to life, and the Knightmare Frame was heading straight for Tohdoh. He closed his eyes and readied himself for death, but rather than kill him, the Lancelot scooped Tohdoh up and carried him off.
The other Black Knights were disillusioned by the sight of their commander being carried off effortlessly by the enemy. “If we surrender,” said the mundane stallion that deserted his post, “do you think they’ll let us live?”
“Are you giving up so easily?” The Black Knights knew that that voice all too well. It was Zero. Their faces lit up in joy. “I assure you, you’d have a better odd surviving if you fight than to appeal to Viceroy Cornelia’s sympathy.”
“We’re better off on our own,” the deserter said disparagingly.
“Oh are you? All your escape routes have been cut off. Will you wager your life on the compassion of Britannia-the same Britannia that thought nothing of slaughtering innocent civilians in the Shinjuku massacre? Well?” The recruits hanged their head low. Given the Britannians’ cruelty and lack of mercy, surrender was almost a guaranteed death sentence.
“You expect us to beat a Knightmare Frame too?” The deserter scoffed.
“No, I’ll bring the Knightmare Frame to its knees as I did before. All that’s required of you is to follow my instructions.” Lelouch had a charisma that Tohdoh lacked, which was evident in the confident, hope-filled smiles of the majority of the rank-and-file Black Knights.
Meanwhile, the Lancelot pulled up beside the entrance and extended its hand out with Tohdoh in his palm, almost as an offering to the viceroy.
Cornelia gritted her teeth and blew steam from her nostrils. “What the hell are you doing with him, Warrant Officer Kururugi? Do you dare defy my orders?”
“Suzaku, is that you inside?” Tohdoh asked.
“Your majesty, we have the upper hand. There’s no need to continue fighting.”
Cornelia tapped herself on the chest. “Your viceroy decide what’s necessary, not you.”
“Tohdoh-sensei, surrender to her majesty. Do it for the sake of the Japanese people; for those Japanese Zero coaxed into fighting for him.”
“Please, Tohdoh-sensei,” Suzaku pleaded.
“We weren’t tricked into fighting.”
“You’ve wasted enough time on him already. Kill him, Warrant Officer.”
“But your majesty, I beseech you.”
“That’s an order, Warrant Officer!”
“Do as your Britannian master commands, Suzaku.” Tohdoh said in his usual stoic tone. “It’s not difficult at all.”
“Please, Tohdoh-sensei, you can save their lives.”
“All you have to do is make a fist, Suzaku.”
“You selfish bastard!” Suzaku yelled. Tohdoh felt the Lancelot tightening its grip. “I should kill you right now!”
Cornelia stamped her hoof. “You damn Eleven! What are you waiting for?”
“Do a...do as...do as she says,” said Tohdoh as he strained to breath. “Do as...your...Britannian mas...masters...command.
“Finish him off already!” Cornelia yelled. “We don’t have time to waste on that beaten dog!”
“Then what of myself.” Lelouch called out in the familiar electronically distorted voice. “Do you have time to waste on me?” The Lancelot eased off of Tohdoh, who greedily gasped for air, and faced Zero’s general direction.
“So you finally crawled out the rock you were hiding under, Zero,” Cornelia sneered.
“Come now, white knight,” Zero mocked. “Surely you can grant your majesty a far greater prize.”
“Zero!” Suzaku yelled out. “This is your fault. All this blood is on your hands.”
“Suzaku?!? No it can’t be...” Lelouch stepped back and fell on all four knees. “No, it can’t be you.”
“Do you really think I can forget the lives you destroyed and the Japanese you lead astray because you confessed to a crime that I took the blame for-a crime that you committed?” The Lancelot was poised to attack. “What gratitude I felt towards you has worn out. I’ll end this once and for all.”
“No! Stop!” Cornelia called out. “I won’t be fooled twice by the same trick. Scan the area for any improvised explosives.
“Yes, your majesty.” Suzaku pulled up the Factsphere readouts. On his monitors were only two thermo-signatures: Zero and a mundane pony. “I’m only detecting two life readings. They’re both unarmed.”
“Widen your search. Zero wouldn’t come out without something up his sleeve.”
“Multiple readings approximately 600 meters from Zero,” said Suzaku. “No weapons detected, but there’s an entrance to an access tunnel 60 meters from Zero.”
“He’s luring you out to save Tohdoh.” Cornelia looked her shoulder. “You with the wings-fly to that access tunnel and block it off.”
“Yes, my lord!” Carrying torches in their mouths, a squad of winged Britannians flew over Cornelia and veered to the right towards the access tunnel. “Warrant Officer, once they’re in position, bring Zero back alive. Eliminate the other.”
“Yes, you majesty,” said Suzaku. He gently lowered Tohdoh and waited for the winged Britannians to cover Zero’s ‘escape route’. When they were in position, the Lancelot sped off. Even though he was powerless against a Knightmare, Tohdoh followed. He had come this far. Why not go down fighting alongside his ally for their noble cause?
“Did you really think you’d escape so easily?” Cornelia yelled out to the fleeing stallion. She looked over her shoulder and said to some of her guards. “I have no use for Tohdoh. You three,” she pointed to three horned Britannians, “kill him.”
“Yes my lord,” the horned Britannians said before departing on their mission.
Meanwhile, Lelouch was still in the middle of a personal crisis. You were supposed to be Nunnally’s champion, not Cornelia’s. Why, Suzaku, why are fighting for them? No, the answer is obvious. It was since the night I rescued him from the gallows. Suzaku surrendered himself to the Britannians even though he knew he wouldn’t get a fair trial. He told me himself-to change Britannia from within, to work inside the system. How could I have missed it?
What an arrogant fool I was!
How presumptuous of me to think Suzaku would stand by my side!
“Zero!” The sound C.C.’s voice snapped Lelouch back into reality. When he stopped gazing at the ground and held his head back up, Lelouch jumped back and gasped in fright. He was so taken aback by the revelation that Suzaku was the pilot of the Lancelot that he didn’t notice that he was in arm’s reach of the Knightmare. The Lancelot hovered over Lelouch with its hand out to him. However, it was frozen in place. C.C., who was standing between the white knightmare and Lelouch, kept a hoof on the Lancelot’s foot.
Cornelia climbed over the remaining pile of garbage to get a closer look. The Lancelot was stooped over with its arm extending outward as though to pick up Zero. “What the hell is going on? Did that high school student’s power source conk out on us?” She galloped about twenty yards from the entrance and could now see C.C. touching the Lancelot.
“Hurry up with your plan. I can’t keep this up for...” Suddenly, the Geass symbol on C.C.’s forehead lit up. She and Lelouch both fell back and neighed in pain. Lelouch’s left eye was a hot coal through his eye socket that was burning into his skull. “Why now?” C.C. cried out in agony. The Lancelot rolled backwards some and toppled over.
Tohdoh ran to Zero, who lying on the ground covering his left eye, and examined him for wounds. “Are you alright, Zero?” He then galloped to C.C. who was also lying on the ground. “What happened?” He then saw the glowing Geass symbol on her forehead and was about to touch it C.C. inched away.
“Don’t touch me!” C.C. yelled.
“What’s wrong with you two and what’s that thing on your forehead?”
“Behind you,” C.C. cried out. Three horned Britannians were closing in them. Each one was accompanied by a medieval sword that levitated along side them. “Don’t let them kill Zero!”
“Don’t worry about him,” one of the horned Britannians taunted. “We’re here to kill Tohdoh.” His sword made a luminous streak across the black background as it flew with the speed of an arrow...
“So, you have another trick up your sleeve, Zero?” Cornelia sneered, who witnessed C.C.’s telepathic hold over Suzaku broken. It didn’t take long for Cornelia to figure out why the Lancelot stopped in the middle of capturing Zero. She called out to her troops in waiting. “Kill Zero and the white mare accompanying him,” she ordered. “They have the power to immobilize Knightmares.” The stream of Britannian ponies poured out from the entrance and trailed behind Cornelia who was leading the charge.
While Cornelia’s forces were heading towards Zero and C.C., the three horned Britannians were finding out the hard way why the mundane stallion who Cornelia ordered them to assassinate was so revered amongst the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Tohdoh grabbed the sword between his front hooves, bit into the hilt, and charged at them. The other two swords were thrown at Tohdoh, but the fleet-footed warrior flipped over one and knocked the other away from him. The Britannians frantically jerked their heads around trying to concentrate their powers on Tohdoh, but it was all in vain. All the Britannians could see was the glint of light reflected off the sword mere fractions of a second before the blade passed right through the Britannian on the far right. His head tumbled through the air as his headless corpse twisted and convoluted; a geyser of blood shot out of the stump that used to be a neck for a now severed head painted the remaining horned Britannians dark red. The remaining Britannians tried to draw the two other swords back to them, but it was too late. Tohdoh ran the blade though the side of one Britannian and, at the same time, tackled his victim with enough momentum to push him and the blade into the second Britannian. Both Britannians were skewered on the same blade.
“Those heroics won’t do you any good, Tohdoh,” Cornelia yelled out as she and the Britannians stampeded in their direction. The rumble of their hooves could be felt in Lelouch’s stomach. But as they closed in on Zero, C.C., and Tohdoh, the glow of thousands of horns burst forth from the darkness. Out of the shadows came the three remaining Holy Swords leading the ground forces to battle. The stampeding Black Knights ran past Zero and C.C. and intercepted the Britannian forces. Soon, the Black Knights and Britannians were intermingled together in melee combat.
Lelouch let out a groan as he sat upright. The explosion that went off inside Lelouch’s head left an excruciating migraine. Hundreds of yells came in all directions, and hammered into his skull. He cautiously stood up on all fours and slowly opened his eyes. There, before him, were the Britannians and Black Knights in close quarter combat. The battlefield was bathed in the surreal glow of tens of thousands of horned Britannians and Black Knights wielding their weapons. From Lelouch’s vantage point, the crowd inched back and forth. The Black Knights were holding their own, but for how long? They may have the numerical advantage, but Cornelia’s troops are better trained. It may take them awhile, but Cornelia’s forces will eventually erode theirs. Also, the entrance to the Lowline Level was wide open. Even if the Black Knights held their own, Cornelia could call for reinforcements. She hadn’t done so yet because the bulk of her manpower was devoted to perimeter defense and she had the Lancelot.
Much to chagrin of Lelouch, the some of his men were fleeing the battle. Lelouch ran as fast as his weak constitution would permit and intercepted some of the deserters.
“You cowards...,” Lelouch said while gasping for air, “...you abandon your countrymen...in the middle of ba...battle?”
“We were planning on doing that anyway,” said one of the deserters before he and others ran off.
“Come back here!”
“No, we have to abandon our countrymen in the middle of battle like you told us to,” another deserter yelled out as they were fleeing.
“Smartass!” Lelouch spat. There were some more deserters running by. Lelouch managed to get them to stop long enough to talk. “And where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m not sure,” a horned mare spoke for the group. “Just as long as we get away from here.” The others nodded in agreement.
“You’ll do no such thing,” said Lelouch. “Now push the barn fire wagons up to the entrance. I don’t want any more of Cornelia’s men coming to this level.”
“Yes sir, we’ll make sure the entrance is blocked off.”
“And you, don’t stop fighting the Britannians for anything.” Lelouch said to a Black Knights who stopped in the middle of their desertion to see what was going on.
“I’ll keep fighting no matter what,” said the cowardly deserter, and his first target was Lelouch. The deserter charged at Lelouch who narrowed dodged being impaled by the bamboo stick that was tied around the deserter.
“What the hell is wrong with you!”
“You told me to fight the Britannians no matter what, and I heard rumors that you’re one of them.” The deserter was about to charge when Tohdoh back kicked him.
“Have you gone mad!”
“I have to fight the Britannians no matter what.”
“Get out of here, Zero,” said Tohdoh. “You have a battle to lead.”
Lelouch nodded and ran to be at C.C.’s side.
Meanwhile, Suzaku awoke inside the Lancelot cockpit. Once again, he was assailed by visions before losing consciousness, but this time they were different. The visions were of cities in the clouds, a castle spiraling out of the side of a mountain, and what looked like two large ponies that were a hybrid of the winged and horned species encircled by six gems with the sun above their heads and the moon beneath their feet. The visions ended with Suzaku, in pony form, being stampeded by pony-like shadows in a background of pure white.
When Suzaku awoke, he noticed the cockpit saddle was upright and that he was being held in place by his safety harness. The Factspheres monitor displayed the image of the Low Ground Level ceiling. The Lancelot was on its back. Suzaku toggled a foot pedal, and the cockpit tilted down 90 degrees to the upright position.
“C.C.!” Lelouch yelled out to the white mare who was laying in a daze at the foot of the Lancelot. Adrenaline kept his fail body from collapsing from exertion. Lelouch was in a race with the Lancelot, which was getting up. Lelouch managed to reach to C.C. about the same time the Lancelot stood up. “C.C.,” Lelouch yelled while shaking her, “get up. The white Knightmare, it’s...” Lelouch looked up and saw the Lancelot reaching out for him. Lelouch flinched just enough for Suzaku to spot C.C. The Lancelot then pulled its hand away and back off. Just then, C.C. regained consciousness.
“Are you able to stand?” Lelouch asked.
C.C. nodded. “Where’s the Knightmare?” Lelouch pointed a hoof at the Lancelot. C.C. started trotted towards it when the Lancelot fired the slash harken on its wrist at one of Settlement support pillars and hoisted itself up. The Lancelot was about forty feet off the ground; its feet planted on the pillar while being suspended in the slash harken embedded into the structure. Suzaku and the Lancelot were out of C.C.’s reach. “Looks like the pilot wised up to our plans.” As C.C. was speaking with Lelouch, Kallen and about fifty winged Black Knights descended in front of her and Lelouch. Three of them carried flashlights in their mouths.
“Sorry we took so long, but we had trouble scrapping up flashlights,” Kallen said apologetically.
“Kallen, there’s a change in plan.”
“You weren’t able to stop the Knightmare?” She asked.
“Not yet, but we forced it to a fall back position.” He then addressed the other winged Black Knights. “Swarm the white Knightmare, and knock out the pilot’s Factspheres and auxiliary cameras. Blind the Knightmare and the pilot to open his cockpit. He only has one free arm and no weapons.”
“What if he comes back down?”
“Then he’ll be right where we want...Hey!” The winged Black Knights had already took off and were about to go on the offensive against the Lancelot. “I didn’t say for you to attack right now.”
Kallen grunted in frustration over the lack of discipline in her troops. “Damn rookies. Don’t run off without getting the go-ahead from us!” She yelled at the winged Black Knights who were now encircling the Lancelot.
“And tell them not to harm the pilot!” Lelouch called out to Kallen.
“You mustn’t issue anymore orders!” C.C. said in a panicked voice.
“I don’t have time for your games C.C.”
“Your Geass,” said C.C., “it’s permanently activated.”
“What makes you think that...”
“Your headaches, you and I collapsing at the same time-those are the signs of a Geass gone out of control.”
Lelouch hung his head for a moment to let the bad news sink in and then looked back at C.C. “You mean...I’m like Mao? I can’t turn off my Geass?”
C.C. nodded. “How long was I out?”
“Only a few minutes.”
“Do you remember what you said in that timeframe?”
“I was reprimanding some of our own for running out on us during battle.”
“Anything else? Any order in...”
“I don’t have time for this C.C.” Lelouch ran behind a support pillar just out of sight.
C.C. galloped alongside Lelouch. “Wait up! Where are you going?”
“Stand beside me. I can’t let anyone see what I’m about to do.” Lelouch levitated his knife just above his Geass eye and took a deep breath.
“Wait! What are you...?”
“Quiet! I have to concentrate.” Lelouch took another deep breath and steadied his nerves. The knife tip slowly pressed his fur-covered skin until the tip penetrated his flesh. An anguished grunt escaped from his mouth as the knife made an incision just above the eye brow. Streams of blood ran down his left side. Lelouch then tore a strip from his cape and wrapped it around the cut covering his left eye. Blood soaked through the fabric.
“What’s that for?”
“I have to explain why I’m keeping my eye covered. We’ll deal with the unintended commands later. Now keep as close to the white knightmare as possible, just in case it comes down from the rafters. I’ll help Tohdoh with leading the ground troops.” Lelouch trotted off into battle.
Cornelia fumed over how badly the battle was going for them. Thanks to Zero’s companion, the Lancelot was out of the fight. He had turned what should have been an easy victim into a drawn-out battle. While she was contemplating her next move, Cornelia saw, in the distance, a group of Black Knights pulling one of the remaining barn fire trucks towards the entrance.
“Trying to block the entrance off, are you?” Cornelia sneered. She charged towards the Black Knights and, when she was in range of her telekinesis, levitated them by their necks. The invisible force constricted around their windpipe depriving them of breath. The Black Knights flailed their legs wildly trying in vain to break free. The thrashing slowly died down, and, eventually, their bodies went limp. Cornelia tossed them to the side and galloped away.
“Now it’s your turn, Zero.”
Suzaku was scanning the ground for a safe place to land when he caught a glance of a flock of Black Knights
“What the hell!” He blurted out just before both eye cameras went offline. Suzaku heard hooves beating down on metal.
Just outside the Lancelot, the Geass-controlled Black Knights were fulfilling Lelouch’s command to blind the Lancelot. The glass over its eyes was shattered. Embers sparked from the busted cameras mounted inside. Some of the recruits were kicking the two Factspheres, which were mounted below the shoulders, with their rear legs. The Factspheres were sturdier than the cameras. Cracks were branching out with each kick, but otherwise they were still functioning. Kallen and a few other Black Knights were taking out the rear-mounted cameras. Kallen smashed one with her front hoof.
“The shoulder blade camera is on your left, Koga,” said Kallen. The recruit looked to his left and saw the baseball-size spheroid with a lens protruding from it. He struck it repeatedly with his front hoof until it fell off and then floated over the camera on the other shoulder blade and knocked it out as well.
Suzaku, realizing what was going on, immediately retracted the Factspheres and switched to the secondary cameras. Only half of them were still working. The Lancelot swatted at the Black Knights with one hand while the other one was hanging by the Slash Harken embedded into the support column.
The Lancelot caught one Black Knight off-guard. The impact with the Knightmare’s metallic arm killed the ill-fated Black Knight instantly. Suzaka managed to hit a winged mare with a glancing blow. She spiraled down in a controlled crash-injured but still alive. Unfortunately, for Suzaku, the rest of the Black Knights were too relentless, too agile to simply bat away. They manage to weave around the Lancelot’s free arm. The onslaught was getting to be too much for Suzaku. He reeled out more line from the Slash Harken in order to put some distance between him and the swarm of Black Knights. The Lancelot propelled down the support column, but just before it reached the floor, Suzaku spotted C.C. waiting for him at the base of the pillar. Suzaku aimed the Slash Harken at C.C. when a green and red streak flashed across his monitor just before a hoof struck the arm camera. Static flashed on the screen for a second before it went black. Suzaku reeled in the line back in pulling the Lancelot back up again. Suzaku then aimed the waist Slash Harken at the roof and fired. The Lancelot swung across the Low Ground Level placing some distance between him and the airborne Black Knights and C.C.
As it sped away on its Landspeeders, the Lancelot reached back. The other arm camera was still working. Suzaku watched the Black Knights following him. The Lancelot slowed down just enough to for his pursuers to keep up as he led them away from the main forces.
“This is should be far enough away from the Viceroy’s forces,” he said to himself. The Lancelot made a hard 180 degree turn and reached into the containment module.
Kallen spotted the Lancelot taking out a chaos grenade. “Take cover! He’s throwing a grenade.” Kallen banked and changed course heading for a support column.
“No,” said Koga, “we have to blind the white knightmare!” The other winged Black Knights, still under Lelouch’s unintended Geass command, flew into the hailstorm of shrapnel.
Kallen watched her troops, the bravest ones under her command, cut to pieces effortlessly by the white Knightmare as she took cover behind the support pillar. The promise she made to them that everything would be okay was broken. She struck the pillar and made a small crack on the surface. The white Knightmare, having taken out this nuisance, sped back to the battlefield. Kallen trailed behind it.
Despite being outnumbered and against better-trained soldiers, the Black Knights were holding their own, at least for now. But it was a race against time. The service entrance to the Lowline Level was still open; the recruits sent to close it off were dead. At any moment, Cornelia could send for reinforcement and overwhelm the Black Knights. And Lelouch knew it but felt powerless to stop their impending doom. All around him was the chaos of close-quarter, hand-to-hand combat. His life was in the hands of the recruits...or was it? He was no longer limited physically by his frail health. The power of mind over matter was his to wield. And for whatever reason, his was heads and shoulders above the other horned Black Knights.
Lelouch hoisted a Britannian into the air and slammed him into the lead to a V-shaped formation of Britannians that was, up until a moment ago, backing a squad of Black Knights into a support column. The momentary disruption was enough for the Black Knights to charge in finish breaking the formation. The Britannians last but a minute before they were all cut down.
“You there!” Lelouch called out to the Black Knights who he saved. “Block the service entrance with the barn fire trucks before Cornelia can get reinforcements.”
A concerned horned mare looked intensely at the bloodied wrapping over Lelouch’s left eye. “What happened to your eye?” She asked.
“I’ll go into details later. Now hurry!” Lelouch ordered.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay?
“Yes, I’ll be okay. Now stop wasting time!”
“Yes sir,” they said in unison. The squad pulled out of battle and headed for the wagon.
Lelouch kept watch over them just to make sure they followed instructions. Then, all of a sudden, there was something constricting around Lelouch’s throat. He gasped, in vain, for air but only a whiff made it through. He was being hoisted above the ground. Lelouch then felt his head being forcefully tilted downward until he was staring Cornelia herself in the eyes. Her horn glowed with the same aura as the one wrapped around Lelouch throat.
“How do you like it?” Cornelia grinned sadistically. “I learned about the power from watching you destroy that Ganymede. I have you where I want you, you weakling. Clovis will be aven...”
Something jabbed into Cornelia’s side. It went through the gaps between the rips. Cornelia lost her hold over Lelouch and dropped him. The tables had been turned. It was Cornelia who struggled for each shallow breath. But it wasn’t some unseen force smothering her. It was inside of her; suffocating her from within. Cornelia forced the air into her lungs only to convulse into a coughing fit forcing it to split out of her mouth. It was blood that she coughed out. Cornelia was bleeding internally and drowning in her own blood. She looked to her side and saw a horned stallion with a spikey crimson mane and blue coat stained red. His horn impaled into her side. Cornelia could feel her body going cold as she struggled just to stay conscious.
“The only one’s going to die is you, you Britannian bitch,” said the horned stallion. He ran to Lelouch’s side. “Zero, you okay, man? What happened to your eye?”
“I’m okay Tamaki,” said Lelouch. “Now go help Tohdoh with the troops.”
“I can’t leave you like...”
“Just go! Now!”
Tamaki backed away from Zero. “Alright already,” said Tamaki as he went off to help the other Black Knights to seal off the service entrance. “I was only trying to help.”
Lelouch pulled down his mask and trotted to Cornelia’s side. “Cornelia, can you hear me? It’s your younger half-brother, Lelouch.”
“I see,” Cornelia whispered. “So, you were Zero the entire time. Darlton was right. He said it was someone who bore a grudge against...against...aga...” Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she slumped over.
Lelouch shook her violently. “Cornelia! Cornelia!” But there was no response; no breath, no beating heart, no life. “No,” Lelouch shook his head. “Not now. Not without my answers!”
“Zero!” Lelouch recognize the booming voice overhead. It was Suzaku. Lelouch slipped back on his mask and galloped into the battlefield and away the white Knightmare chasing after him.
“You’ll pay for all the lives you destroyed!” Suzaku yelled.
Lelouch yanked a Britannian soldier into the white Knightmare’s path. The Lancelot swerved out of the way and barely avoided hitting the Britannian. Suzaku activated the Factspheres and scanned the battlefield for Zero. Suddenly, the green and red streak, from before, slammed into the right Factsphere knocking it offline. The green and red streak, Kozuki Kallen to be exact, began kicking the left Factsphere until it too went offline. Immediately, the other cameras began to go out. The right arm camera cut off, followed by the two kidney cameras on the sides just above the waist. The loss in visibility made it even harder for Suzaku to swat at the red and green mare, which made destroying the camera that much easier for the winged Black Knight. The last ones to go were the knee cameras. The Lancelot was now blind.
Suzaku slammed a hoof on the control panel. “Damn you, Zero!” He cursed. “No, I’m not going out that easily.” Suzaku descended from the cockpit with the tow cable, when, halfway down, the green and red streak rammed Suzaku in the side and knocked him off. Kallen landed at Suzaku’s side
“Surrender, you’re a prisoner of the Black Knights.” She said.
It can’t be her, thought Suzaku. Kallen? Kallen Stadtfeld,” Suzaku asked, “is that you?”
“Suzaku? But why?”
“That’s what I should be asking you. You’re Britannian.”
“I’m Japanese, and my real name is Kozuki Kallen. My Britannian heritage means nothing to me.”
“It’s not too late for you. If you surrender now...”
Kallen opened her wings. “Like hell I am!”
“Then you leave me no choice,” said Suzaku. The two charged into each other.
Guilford impaled yet another Black Knight with the tribal Zulu spear tied around his waist. The Black Knight let out a deafening scream before he drew his last. Guilford pressed his front legs against the lifeless corpse and deposited him on the ground with the other Black Knights.
“I believe that’s the last of them,” said Guilford as he surveyed the area near the service entrance. “Sir Madison,” he said a horned Britannian knight, “go to the Lifeline Level and fetch the reserves. We’ll finish off these Elevens once and for all.” With his horn lit up, Sir Madison galloped up on the onramp to the level above them.
“Hold the service entrance. Reinforcement will be here soon,” said Guilford as he galloped away with a flashlight held firmly between his teeth that scanned the area for his lady. The battle was a maelstrom of ponies fighting for dear life; a jigsaw puzzle of a hundred smaller clashes. It was difficult to distinguish Black Knight from Britannian in the dimly lit level without getting up close and personal. Guilford paused and spat out the flashlight. “Viceroy! Viceroy!” He called out. Guilford resumed his search along the perimeter of the battlefield until he came across a horned mare with a hot pink mane and white coat lying on the ground. Guildford took a second to build up his nerves to confirm his worst fears. Cornelia was lying in a pool of her blood that poured from a gaping wound on her left side.
Guildford’s world came crashing down. He had failed his duty as Cornelia’s personal champion. The one person in the world he swore to protect above all others was dead. Guilford fell to knees beside his lady; eyes staring at the lifeless body of his princess in disbelief. Cornelia’s blood stained Guilford’s forelegs. Slowly, as the reality of Cornelia’s murder sunk in, despair gave way to rage. Guilford revved on his hind legs and let a blood-curling neigh that caught the attention of a group of several Black Knights nearby.
“Hey, are you okay?” One of them asked in Japanese. Guildford’s only response was to cut them down in a matter of seconds.
“This isn’t looking good, Zero,” said Tohdoh shaking his head. The Britannians had gotten their second wind. In the background, they could hear Sir Guilford directing the battle with the drive and vigor of a fanatic. “Our forces are stalemated, but it can all change in an instance once the Britannians call for reinforcements, and we can’t block off the entrance to stop them.”
“Then we have no other choice but get as many of our forces out of here as possible. Order the troops back to Old Tokyo.”
“But what about the perimeter defenses?”
“Escaping with half of our forces is better than losing them all.”
“Coward!” Lelouch and Tohdoh turned their head and saw at the distance Suzaku. At his feet, beaten and bruised, was Kallen. “After coaxing these innocent Japanese into fighting your battle, you’re running away!”
“Don’t talk as though we’re naïve children,” Tohdoh rebuffed. “The Japanese won’t make excuses fighting for what believe in.”
“I won’t let you escape.” Suzaku galloped at full speed at Tohdoh and Zero, leaped into the air, and performed a spinning round kick. Tohdoh shoved Lelouch out of the way and took the full blunt of the strike. Rips cracked from the force of Suzaku’s hoof. Suzaku was caught off balance. The strike was intended for Lelouch, not Tohdoh. Suzaku hesitated for a split second from the shock of assaulting his old mentor. Lelouch did not allow Tohdoh to sacrifice himself in vain. The full power of his telekinesis was directed at Suzaku. The sudden release of power sent Suzaku flying into the side of a support column. The wind was knocked out of Suzaku’s lungs. As Suzaku struggled to regain his breath, Lelouch levitated Tohdoh and Kallen on the back of two Black Knights and together, they made a strategic retreat.
After an exhaustive gallop through the Low Ground level, Lelouch, Kallen, Tohdoh, and the two Black Knights carrying them made it to the Settlement perimeter. “When I give the order, make a run across the perimeter.”
“Sir, we can’t,” a winged Black Knight spoke up. It was Tomoya. Beside him was his friend Sunohara. “None of the ones that tried made it out.” It was as Tomoya had said-the number of dead Black Knights lining the perimeter had tripled.
It was then that Lelouch realized that either Cornelia or Guilford ordered the perimeter defense to concentrate on the H and I sectors. He should have known this was coming. In the distance were the Britannian forces, whose numbers were being multiplied by the thousands that poured through the service entrance. A flurry of thoughts ran through Lelouch’s mind.
Should we stay and fight?
No, that would be suicide!
I could order these two to fly back up and get reinforcements.
There isn’t time for that!
Use Geass against the...
There’s too many of them to use the power!
What if I surrender? Then, I can use Geass to escape later.
It would be foolhardy if it wasn’t for the fact that the other alternatives are worse. Surrender is the only option left open for us.
“I need a white cloth-a handkerchief or article of clothing will do.”
“No! Please Zero don’t!” Kallen, who was still suffering from the injuries inflicted on her by Suzaku and still on the back of that Black Knight, pleaded in a sickly, weak voice. “We can beat them. Don’t surrender.” Lelouch ignored her and took hold of a white undershirt that was, up until a moment ago, worn by a rather shy, self-conscious mundane stallion that was cuddled up trying to conceal the exposed portion of his body.
Lelouch walked ahead of the Black Knights and waved the undershirt as their ‘flag’ of surrender. The Britannians stopped in their tracks. Are they trying to decide whether or not to accept my surrender? Suddenly, a spear tore through the white shirt. Ahead of the advancing Britannian forces was Guilford. His eyes burned with hatred.
“You think I’ll accept your surrender after murdering the Viceroy?!?” Guilford growled. He then looked over his shoulder. “Take revenge for our fallen princess. Don’t leave a single Eleven alive,” he ordered.
“Yes, my lord,” the Britannians said in unison. The stampede of Britannians was heading for the cornered Black Knights.
“STOP!” The sound of that familiar voice was enough to cause the Britannian forces to halt their attack. The Black Knights were utterly confused. They could offer no resistance to the overwhelming forces set against them. Yet, the Britannians were ordered to cease their attack. Lelouch knew what was going on-as a Britannian, it was no shock to him that they stopped in their tracks. A dutiful Britannian worth his salt, especially one in the military, would follow orders given to him by a noble, especially a princess.
The Britannians were stepping aside to make way for their new viceroy. Euphemia and the two ponies that broke into Ashford Academy, Sorato and Meadow Prancer, trotted along the path cutting across the Britannian army and came halfway between them and the Black Knights.
“Zero, I, acting Viceroy of Area 11 Princess Euphemia le Britannia...” Euphemia became choked up at the thought of her elder sister’s passing and wiped away the tears running down her muzzle, “...wish to speak to you on behalf of the Britannians stationed here.” Euphemia took a deep breath to calm her nerves. She pushed her emotions to the side. The luxury of mourning for Cornelia was not hers, yet. Euphemia reminded herself that, if she didn’t act with composure, more Britannians and Elevens...no...Japanese...will die.
Lelouch trotted over to the Princess. “And what is it that you wish to say on their behalf, acting viceroy?”
Euphemia tilted her head in humility. “As Viceroy of Area 11, I hereby surrender our forces and the Settlement to you.” There was a commotion amongst the soldiers on both sides.
“Please Sub-Viceroy...I meant Viceroy..., do not surrender,” Guilford begged. “What of your sister, the former Viceroy? Permit us to avenge her death.”
Euphemia gave Guilford a fowl look. “Cease this talk of revenge, this instant, Sir Guilford. No one else should have to lose their sister.” Euphemia turned away to hide the tears rolling down her muzzle.
The inhabitants of the Tokyo ghettos gathered by the millions in front of the Tokyo Settlements. Lelouch stood over the edge of the Low Ground Level behind a podium. He wore, in addition to his Zero costume, an eyepatch, which had the symbol of the Black Knights etched on it, over his left eye. On Lelouch’s left was the defunct viceroy of Area 11 Princess Euphemia, Suzaku, Sir Guilford, and General Darlton. On his right were his commanding officers, Kallen, Tohdoh, the Four Holy Swords minus their fallen comrade Shogo Asahina, Ohgi, and Tamaki, and two new faces. One was an elderly winged stallion with no mane, a light brown coat, and a mine car filled with ore on his hind quarter. The other was a mundane filly with a solid black mane, light pink coat, and a red and purple paper fan on her hind quarter. The mundane filly stared affectionately at Lelouch. The Lancelot stood behind them. A wire ran from a microphone on the podium into the Lancelot’s cockpit.
“I hereby declare our independence from Britannia,” Zero’s voice boomed through the Lancelot’s loudspeaker, “but don’t take this to mean the resurrection of your fallen nation. We will not turn back the hands of time. The new Japan that we will go on to build shall be one broad enough to accept all people, histories, and ideology, where the strong shall not reign over the weak and it will be called the United States of Japan.” A million cheers rang out through the ghettos. The Japanese people were finally free.
Across the Pacific Ocean, on the Coast of Alaska modern-day ships of iron and steel were being refitted with sails of old. Teams of winged Britannians were draping haphazardly stitched canvases along rudimentary mast that were installed on the smaller oceangoing vessels in ports. The beefier ships were ignored by the refit and left out to rust. Teams of mundane and horned Britannians pulled loads back and forth between the refitted vessels. Standing on an adjacent hill and observing the shipbuilders working tirelessly was a rather large, muscular horned pony. He had white mane styled like the wigs donned by British judges and a red coat of fur. On his back was a blue cape held fast by a gold cord around his thick neck. Beside him was a small horned colt with an orange coat of fur and a platinum blonde mane so long that it dragged along the ground.
“I received word over shortwave that the Order of Geass has secured the Thought Elevator in Africa,” said the colt.
“That should just leave one Thought Elevator left,” the large horned pony spoke in a deep voice.
“That is correct-the one in Japan on Kamine Island. I’ve sent Rolo ahead to secure C.C. for us. By the way, how are the refits coming along?”
“Ahead of schedule. We’re able to compensate for our lack of technology with the abilities given to us by these new forms. Also, another twenty thousand workers will be sent here from Seattle by the end of the month. It won’t be long before our fleet will be ready.”
“Excellent. Your daughters Cornelia and Euphemia will be eager to see you, little brother.”
I hope you enjoyed Chapter Five of Rebel Against the Night. Now that Lelouch has won the war, will be lose the peace as he struggles to rebuild the world devastated by their overnight transformation as well as keeping the peace between, not only Britannians and Japanese, but also amongst the different kinds of pony? And what plans do Nighmare Moon and Lelouch’s father, the Emperor, have for the Japanese? Find out in the next chapter of Rebel Against the Night.
This fic will be on hiatus while I deal with in real life business and some other stories that I’ve been neglecting. How long? Not really sure, but I promise to have another chapter out as soon as possible.