The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

This is for posting Fiction and C&C replies ONLY. Note this does not have to be a "fukufic" or evenfanfiction. All longform creative writing allowed. Replying posts must give actual commentary, no "GREAT IDEA" or "THIS SUCKS".

The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:03 pm

Table of Contents
Chapter One, The Holy Grail War: Right here.
Chapter Two, To Be A Master.
Chapter Three, Marching Ever Onward To Tomorrow.

Disclaimer: No copyright is mine, thus no copyrighted character is. If you recognize them from something that's not written by 'Pale Wolf', I have no legal claim to them.

Code Geass: The War Of Kings

By Pale Wolf

Chapter One

The Holy Grail War

|
~~~========>
|

"Give it back!"

Lelouch 'Lamperouge' looked towards the girl's voice with a bit of a frown, chin resting in his hand.

The voice's owner was no one he knew. Young, perhaps the same age as his younger sister Nunnally. Slim, lightly-built, with long dark hair and wide blue eyes. Short black dress, black stockings, with a bright-red oversized jacket and hat thrown over it all. Japanese, if he had to guess, based on the features, but not entirely, there was a fair amount of European influence in there.

What he presumed to be 'it' was a thin gold ring, rather plain, being tossed between the upraised hands of a much taller young man - somewhat older than Lelouch himself, athletic, red hair, blue eyes, dressed in the black uniform of a Britannian academy, perhaps the local university. Probably, in fact, given it was the only major Britannian civilian presence in this city.

The girl leapt up to grasp it, but the man threw the ring overhand to a similarly-dressed blonde man - presumably a friend, laughing. "Not until you ask nicely."

The girl pursed her lips, looking up at the blonde. "P... please... it's my mother's..."

"Mm..." He tapped a finger against his cheek. "Nicer." He chuckled, leaning back against what Lelouch presumed to be their car - a rather nice gleaming-silver recent-make Arawn sports car. Probably bought by the man's father, Lelouch doubted a student made enough money for that.

"Wha...?" The girl swallowed. "... What do you want me to say...?" She muttered something under her breath.

"Geeeeh," Rivalz muttered from behind Lelouch. "Don't university students have anything better to do with their time?"

Lelouch nodded absently, drumming his slim fingers against his cheek. There was certainly no way he or Rivalz - emphasis on he - could stop this through direct physical intervention. "Like their classes."

His voice was completely devoid of sarcasm, but Rivalz got it, the wince audible in his voice. "Okay sure, we're kilometers away from school and skipping a whole day, but come on. Viscount Semnan put up a ridiculously awesome bet on his chess skills and the guy doesn't leave Fuyuki."

"Of course, Rivalz. I found it in the first place, after all." His gaze, and attention, never wavered from the scene of the bullying. He just needed to twist the factors in his head until it all came together. Ethics of mauling the older students aside, Rivalz probably wouldn't be willing to ram them with the motorcycle even if it was a rental rather than his baby, so that was off the table. Hm.

Rivalz obviously had some experience with Lelouch, because after a short pause, he shook his head. "Oh no, Lelouch, seriously, no. I don't like this either, but we'd just get the crap beat out of us, and the old man's already starting the game with Semnan. We've gotta get in there to bail him out before we lose our shot at the cash. They're not gonna hurt her, she's a kid."

An angry response boiled up to Lelouch's lips, but with long experience, he bit it back, keeping his voice at its usual mellow, disinterested tone. "We don't need that long to deal with the Viscount, Rivalz. And beyond that, the day is free time. There's simply no physical possibility of making it back to school before classes have ended, so we're in equal amounts of trouble no matter when we make it." The train ride back to the Tokyo Settlement was about three hours. Hardly a distance to make in the lunch break.

"Except not beate-oh man..." Rivalz buried his face in his hands.

The latter part was, of course, because Lelouch had slipped his long legs out of the sidecar and stood up, walking across the park towards the girl and the two men. "Excuse me."

All three turned to look at him, and as Lelouch's eyes drifted onto the ring, they widened.

Plain? Hardly. It was almost achingly beautiful, carved with the finest, most delicate of touches, with thin, elegant lettering in an ancient Germanic alphabet writing out the word 'Gift' - something preceded it, but he couldn't see it, with the redheaded oaf's fingers blocking out his view.

With such a thing, it would be easy. To make what he sought, destroy all that stood in his way. He wanted it. That ring adorning his finger as he stood astride a knightmare, moments from riding into Pendragon and stopping Britannia once and for all...

... Which was a ridiculous flight of fancy. Lelouch shook his head, refocusing his gaze. The world didn't change, no matter how hard you tried. A ring wasn't going to change that. "Might I ask what you're doing?"

The girl looked rather surprised for a moment, before quickly whispering something under her breath. Lelouch had developed some skill at lip reading, so he was able to catch part of it - 'don't kill', which he admitted to be somewhat less than comforting.

The redhead looked away from the ring in his hands. "Just a little teasing. Nothing wrong with that, right?"

Lelouch folded his left arm over his chest, propping up his right arm and tapping his neck with the hand. "Not in principle, but this particular case is somewhat of an exception."

The blonde chuckled, grabbing the girl by her thin shoulders and shoving her around to in front of Lelouch. "Come on, lay off. It's just an Eleven."

"Actually, she's a Britannian citizen." The situation was a bit scarce on tools (he'd have liked to use the 'car towed' trick again, but it wouldn't sell with them so close to it), so he'd opted to focus on the European elements of her appearance. "Specifically, my half-sister. So you can understand my concern for this particular case." He casually reached into his pocket.

The blonde jolted a little, releasing the girl with a slight push towards Lelouch and backing away, waving his hands in front of him. "Hey, we don't want any trouble man. Don't go calling the cops on something minor like this, yeah?"

Fortunately, the girl was facing towards Lelouch, away from both the young men, so the expression on her face didn't give up the whole game as she twisted through confusion to understanding.

Lelouch smiled, pulling out his phone. "You raise an excellent point, don't you? The police might be rather slow to respond to an Eleven's report of assault, but a Britannian... well now, that's different. You could actually get in trouble for that."

The redhead snorted, crossing his arms over his chest. "Don't be an idiot, Caz. She's a halfbreed. Honorary Britannian, maybe. Citizen, no way."

The girl grinned, whispering a short phrase in German (something about 'fog' and 'trust'?) before whirling around to point at the redhead. "That may be true for commoners like you! But things are different for the nobility. What look like walls to you are doors to us." She looked back over her shoulder. "Thanks, big brother." Something felt... strange, for a moment. He knew it was a lie, yet for some reason the word echoed in his head for as long as she looked at him.

Lelouch refrained from blinking, though he admitted he felt like it. While it was good that the girl had figured the angle out and was playing along, if she got carried away and made the lie too big, there was no way it was going to be swallowed. Just the same, if he didn't play along, it certainly wasn't going to be. "I wasn't going to call the police, really. Far too difficult to get through the channels. Father would be able to cut the red tape, though."

The redhead frowned, arms lowering, ring dangling in his right hand. "... You're nobility? Seriously? Which family?"

"Bishop. Lynette Bishop." She performed a picture-perfect curtsy. "I'm sure you know the name."

"William," Lelouch added. "I know I'm the Second, but please don't call me that."

The redhead's mouth worked in a voiceless curse, before he held up the ring. "Okay. Okay. No need to drag politics into this. I'm sorry." He slowly, reluctantly handed it to Lelouch, fingers lingering over the gold, before quickly moving back to the blonde. The pair boarded the car and skulked off, at least as best as a car could sulk.

Lelouch waited until they were gone before looking down at the girl. "For future reference, the current Duke Bishop is nineteen years old. Better to pretend to be his siblings than his children."

'Lynette' flushed, looking up at him. "Ah... I just remembered the name from history class... not the details..."

Lelouch smiled, passing the ring down into her hands. "Also, when lying, try not to be too specific. Details add verisimilitude, but too many and you start being more detailed than the truth, and people can tell that. Not to mention when you give a detail they know is false, they catch you instantly."

'Lynette' nodded slowly, swallowing. "Th... thank you..." She clutched the ring to her chest, the jacket's wide sleeves almost swallowing her dainty hands.

"This one isn't a lie: my actual name is Lelouch." Since he'd just said it wouldn't be a lie, it sort of felt wrong to add the 'Lamperouge' to it.

The girl smiled faintly, ducking her head and whispering. "... Takara..."

"Oy! Lelouch!" Rivalz called from the motorcycle. "Running short on time!"

Lelouch chuckled, nodding. "Good luck and try to avoid that kind of punk in the future, eh, Takara?" No point hoping to meet again. She lived in an entirely separate city, and the meeting had hardly been earthshattering.

She nodded once. "Thank you, Lelouch." No whisper, no averted eyes. Looking straight at him. Not as shy as he'd thought.

Lelouch gave a short wave and returned to the motorcycle, hopping into the sidecar and slipping on his helmet.

"You just can't help yourself, huh Lelouch?" Rivalz gunned the engine, and they were off. "Remind you of Nunnally?"

Lelouch snorted. "Hardly." Age aside, there were really no similarities. If he'd had to pick someone he knew, it would probably be Nina. But then, even that wasn't close enough. Perhaps because people were themselves, not something to slot into his life experience and define from his preconceptions.

|
~~~========>
|

Tohsaka Takara still held her left hand over her heart, trying to slow it down and force the blush off her face. Her right hand was doing something a bit more important - slipping her mother's ring back into her jacket and out of sight. "S... see, Berserker? You didn't have to kill them."

Behind her - invisible and inaudible to everyone they may pass - a deep bass voice rumbled. "Perhaps not. But I despise such people."

"I'm no fan either, but those two weren't to blame. Andvarinaut compels you to want it. We bumped, it fell and they saw it..."

"I will bring to your attention that those... people... did not merely take your ring, but tormented you with it. Even under compulsion, there are a variety of ways to behave. Which was chosen is telling."

Takara nodded. That boy... he wasn't immune. She'd seen the need glittering in his eyes. He just forced it away, his raw willpower almost as strong as her prana-powered resistance against the effect.

"Oh...? That's quite an expression, Master."

"Which is a separate matter." It really was hard to take her eyes off the angle of his cheek, though. It was a face that didn't smile often, but meant it when it did. And eyes that-

She slapped herself. "Separate. Matter."

"You know, he's Britannian," Berserker noted as they settled back into walking across the city. Scouting the place for the upcoming... event.

"So?"

"Given the status of your people..."

Takara pursed her lips, shaking her head. "... What some people do doesn't make it right to cast judgment on all of them. Being Japanese didn't really mean much to me before the past few weeks... It was like being a girl, my hair colour... just a given, not something to take any particular value in. But... it's different being looked down on for... looking different? My birth? I don't even know... but I don't like it." She turned to where he was - invisible, of course, presently in spirit form. "But looking down on all Britannians for how they treat the Japanese... is the same, isn't it? He didn't act like that. He didn't act like that at all. He doesn't deserve to be treated as if he does."

"Good answer," Berserker rumbled.

"... You were testing me."

"It is not enough to be strong, though you are, Master. I need to know I can tolerate the one whose orders I will take, and whose wish will be granted by my strength."

Takara's hand came up to her mouth to cover her giggle.

"I do not believe I said something humorous, Master."

"Hey, Berserker. Did you know I had a summoning catalyst?" A moment of silence encouraged her to continue. "Two, actually... the Servants Father and Mother used in the last War." She fiddled a little with the ring in her pocket. Hopefully they weren't disappointed by her choice...

A short moment, while Berserker accessed the records available to him. "The winner and runner-up of the last War? Those would seem to be... strong... choices... Well now. I see."

Takara nodded, putting it to words. "You're all strong. Unimaginably strong. And some may be stronger, but if we can't work together well, that strength doesn't mean anything. So I summoned without a catalyst... so someone would come who suited me."

"You used yourself as the catalyst," Berserker corrected. There seemed to be a smile in his voice. "It seems I have been called by the strongest Master of the War."

"You surely mean the stupidest," a voice sneered from behind.

Takara whirled to face him, Berserker snapping into physical form behind her with a great shaking as he slammed into the concrete of the street.

Before them stood a beautiful golden figure. A man who put the gleaming city around him to shame. Who looked down on the towers. "There are Servants, and there are Servants. It is a difference you should be taught." His hand raised, the air around him rippled, and a hundred shapes slid out of the sky. A sword, halberd, spear, axe, scythe, not even one was the same as the other...

"You can't be... in broad daylight?!"

"The worms of this city are of no concern. Why would I put an ounce into avoiding them? If they see this short battle... no, this trifling swat... then they will die."

Takara gritted her teeth, the crest tattooed on her left arm lighting up as her circuits activated. "Berser-!"

The gray bear of a man was already leaping at the golden Servant without her command, hewing down with the absurdly small-looking sword gripped in his gloved right hand.

The golden Servant laughed, bringing up his arms, the sword deflecting off the golden armour without harm. To him or the armour, at least. The pavement underneath him cracked and buckled a meter downward, cratering around them. Even at that distance, the shaking earth almost rolled Takara off her feet.

Berserker didn't let that discourage, continuing to lash out with the blade. He knew his job was just to keep that Servant distracted. For a moment, he was keeping Takara distracted, as she stared at Berserker's skill with the blade - she'd trained in martial arts herself, so she could recognize the way his body quickly shifted and settled to generate speed and power and maintain it until it hit the target... and she could recognize that he was in an entirely separate league. The sheer power in his blows... even the speed, he was a slug as Servants went but he still exceeded belief, his huge form didn't so much lumber as it danced...

But unable to penetrate the armour despite it all, and the golden Servant was able to keep his unarmoured head protected. His eyes flicked to her, a smile beautiful and yet repellent crossing his face.

Takara flooded prana into her legs and rolled left as a spear shot out, flying through her hair before she managed to get into the nearest alley (twenty meters away - would've been an impossible jump for her without the reinforcement she just put on her body), jacket protecting her from her skidding against the pavement before she rolled back up to her feet. It wasn't actually magecraft that kept her hat on, though it might look it to an observer. She ran down the alley as the sounds of battle erupted. Clashing metal, Berserker's roars, and the crumbling of concrete as Berserker hit the Servant...

Takara wanted to fight alongside Berserker. The Holy Grail War didn't mean a thing if she let Berserker do all the work for her. But right now, it was more important that she get a 'you have nothing to see here and more important things to do elsewhere' compulsion up and as wide-area as she could, before someone really did come, see, and get murdered by the enemy Servant for witnessing the secrets of the Association.

And she needed to focus on it, she was mediocre at best at mental interference spellcraft - she'd only barely managed to cloud a university student into believing her words, with support from Lelouch, after almost a minute's solid effort. Admittedly her lying obviously needed work, but the spells were really doing most of it.

She reached into her jacket. This would take a jewel... first day of the War and she was already running down her supplies.

|
~~~========>
|

Kouzuki Kallen noted that the day was going pretty well thus far, and then cursed herself for tempting fate. She glanced at Nagata, seated next to her in the cab of the truck. "No signs of pursuit?"

Her fellow resistance member shook his head. "Not yet. I'm not going to declare home clear until we're back in Tokyo and storing this damn thing in our headquarters, though." He leaned out the window to spit into the road. "Damn Britannians. What do they even need poison gas for? Are they getting bored of the old way of killing us?"

Kallen shook her head. "I don't know, but I can't believe they were working on something like this out in the Fuyuki University... this is a Japanese city!"

"That's exactly why I can believe it," Nagata noted. "If there's an accident, who cares? It's just a bunch of Elevens!" He punched the dashboard.

Kallen nodded, peeking out the window to give another check for pursuit. The theft didn't seem to have been noticed yet, but there was still plenty of time for something to go wrong. Like Tamaki trying to change the plan midway through.

Still, nothing yet. It should be simple. The theft only had to go unnoticed for a few hours. Once they got back to the Tokyo ghetto and linked up with the main group, they could get it under wrap and long gone by the time the Britannians came after it.

... Of course, if anyone really expected it to turn out that well, Kallen and her partner would only be here for loading the stupid thing into the truck. Nobody Japanese had gotten that lucky for seven years.

Then again, maybe they were due?

Kallen shook her head, and hopefully shaking the wool out with it. "Hey, you have any idea who was behind Osaka? I mean, it definitely wasn't us." Naoto's group wasn't even big enough to have splinter factions doing things the rest didn't approve of. And they'd been busy preparing for this one - Naoto'd bought the information with his life months ago, and it needed to be acted on, by them.

"Eight Britannians and what, fifty Japanese dead? I don't want to have anything to do with whoever it was supposed to be. This's for Japan, what's the point if they all die first?"

"Yeah..." Kallen relaxed slightly. She wasn't sure what she'd feel if he'd reacted with approval, but... Something she'd just had to check. She pulled up the map. "We're most of the way through Fuyuki. Train station should be coming up on the left soon." A contact would help them load the truck aboard a freight car, and they'd be bound for Tokyo.

Nagata nodded, turning the wheel to the right.

Kallen blinked, staring at him for a moment, then looking out the window and staring back. "Nagata! Other way!"

"This way's better."

Kallen came back to stare at Nagata again. "Wha..." ... That way did sound pretty good. Go near the river, take the roads back to Tokyo. Not stuck on the train's route. Or even better, go back north, to the coastline, load aboard a ship at the harbour and get this thing delivered all the way out of Britannian territo... "What the hell?! Nagata, everything's set up for the train! Everyone's waiting for us there! If you had a better idea, you should've brought it up in the planning phase!"

Nagata shook his head. "I don't want to go that way."

Kallen's jaw dropped. "... Nagata, have you gone crazy?" She leaned over, grabbing the wheel. "If you won't turn us around, I will!"

And she did. Unfortunately, traffic laws existed for a reason, and one of those reasons was 'if you suddenly turn in the middle of the road, someone might be going the other way and slam into you'.

Both vehicles were big, heavy ones, travelling fairly slowly, so the collision wasn't really a major one. No one went flying, they both just sort of ground to a stop next to one another, probably some dings in the body but they should still be drivable.

Though as Kallen looked out the window again, her face went white. The vehicle they'd just crashed into had been a Britannian military transport.

She took a deep, slow, unsteady breath. "Theyhaven'tcaughtusyettheyhaven'tcaughtusyet..." She reached into the glove compartment, resting her hand on the pistol that lay within, and adding in some prayers for good measure. She wanted to be ready in her knightmare, but Nagata had just gone crazy two minutes ago...

It was a short enough wait before a large, bald, round man in a Britannian general's uniform stepped up, accompanied by a pair of armed soldiers - bodyguards, Kallen hoped, rather than a search detail, a general probably wouldn't be around without them, right?

"Exactly what were you thinking, turning in the road like that?" Surprisingly polite, given the circumstances. He even forewent the usual 'damned Eleven' slurs.

Kallen took a moment to compose a response, though it turned out to be pointless.

The man's gaze drifted to the left side of the truck, and his face paled, before he barked to his guards. "Shoot them!" Which was a pretty common end to Britannian politeness.

Kallen was quicker on the draw, pistol out the window and pulling the trigger as fast as she could.

Her aim could use some (a lot of) work, she emptied the magazine and only scored one hit that mattered - right into the meat of the portly general's left thigh as he was running back to his transport for cover, though he showed himself to be surprisingly tough, turning his fall into a roll and getting his considerable bulk behind protection.

Maybe a few hits on the soldiers too, but they apparently deflected off the grey plates of armour. Didn't seem to bother them much, as they opened fire, though Kallen managed to duck back into the truck's cab and the glass was tough enough to withstand it for a bit.

Nagata must have hit the accelerator, because the truck surged forward, rolling over the Britannian soldiers, before he managed to get the truck turned around and heading back east. "Damnit damnit damnit... he must be on the poison gas project, there's a hole in the cargo compartment and he recognized the container!"

Kallen cursed, standing up and stepping towards the back. "You better be sane again Nagata, because I'm going to have to operate the knightmare if we're going to have any hope of getting out of here!"

"Sorry, Kallen! I don't know what I was thinking!"

"Just don't think it again and I'll do the rest of the yelling at you later!"

"Deal!"

|
~~~========>
|
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:06 pm

|
~~~========>
|

Clovis la Britannia didn't honestly know whether he enjoyed these parties or dealing with these people. To be sure, he received plenty of praise, adulation, and - he saluted a pretty young woman across the room with his wineglass - companionship.

But Britannia was filled with vipers. One mistake and he'd go the way his dear little brother Lelouch had - discarded, used as a hostage, and then executed by the locals when Father demonstrated he didn't actually consider hostages a constraint on his behaviour.

He took a slight sip, looking around with a brilliant, and completely false, smile. It wasn't actually wine - as an Imperial Prince, he had his own sources of food and drink (had to avoid any poisoning after all), and he always had his wine replaced with a grape juice that looked like it. This was a battlefield, and he needed what wits he had about him.

"Ah, Countess Germaine," Clovis smiled, elegantly maneuvering up to the woman. "I'm so glad to see you could grace my little party. Your conversation is always fascinating." He traditionally complimented a female guest's looks, they tended to glow at it, but he made a policy of not saying anything he was obviously lying about, and the woman had a face like a horse.

The Countess returned the smile, laying a hand on his arm. "I wouldn't miss it for the world, Prince Clovis. You're wonderful company."

They probably meant the praise. For the moment. Whether or not it was true, they wanted him to feel flattered. Because he was Third Prince. Only four or five people stood between him and the Imperial Throne, not including the Emperor himself. He was a powerful ally, or a powerful enemy. Someone whose favour was to be curried, and whose displeasure was to be feared.

Of course, how much of that they'd keep saying if he weren't... Well, that was why he wasn't entirely sure how much he actually enjoyed all this and how much was faked.

"I regret to inform you that I will have to step out in three hours. I must make an address regarding that terrible incident in Osaka yesterday, but this party couldn't be rescheduled, so..."

She nodded. "Of course, I understand. Your duties as Viceroy take priority over our entertainment."

Clovis smiled - the smile turning into a frown as a military officer stepped up to whisper into his ear. "... I apologize, milady, but it seems some of those duties call me."

The Countess nodded, gracefully stepping aside. "I will be here if you find yourself able to return, Your Highness."

Clovis marched off the dance floor after the officer, stalking up to the phone held out by one of the guards. He took it to his ear, and growled, "What is so important that you had to send a messenger to get me, Bartley?!" He dismissed the soldiers with a sharp wave of his hand.

A shaky breath sounded on the other side of the line. And General Bartley Aspirius spoke up in a pained voice. "My... my apologies, Your Highness. I am in Fuyuki, and the business is urgent."

Clovis frowned. Was he... injured? "Is this a terrorist attack?" Well, Fuyuki wasn't a major issue, other than the university the only things there were Elevens. Bartley shouldn't need to call to arrange a defensive cordon around the university and shoot anything that came too close.

"Yes... Your Highness." He pulled in another breath. "Code R... stolen..."

Clovis paled. "One of the..."

"I'm sorry. I don't know which. I only got a glance at it... it was... pure luck that I found it."

"Then recapture it! What are you waiting for?!"

The general shuddered in another breath. "Issued... what orders I could... told them it was medical research..." He hissed in pain, and suddenly seemed to be breathing easier.

Almost against his will, Clovis asked, "... Did you just pull a bullet out?"

"Yes... Your Highness. My apologies for the rudeness."

Somewhat disturbed, Clovis shook his head. "Never mind. You now have my permission to deploy the military in full to find and recapture it! Do whatever it takes! I don't care if you level the city! They're just Elevens!"

"Y... Yes, Your Highness!"

Clovis hung up, and buried his face in his hands. Not now... not after he'd come so far... He shook himself, running through some quick calculations. Fuyuki was one of the non-priority areas. It had a garrison, but it wasn't the closest place to the EU or the Chinese Federation, nor was it a really major part of the Area 11 government, so the garrison was fairly light.

Clovis would deploy the Tokyo garrison to Fuyuki as well... easy enough to wrap it up as a 'vigorous response' thanks to the mess yesterday in Osaka. It should take them three hours to get there. Two hours for him and his personal guard to travel by air - a proper Britannian ruler was supposed to command directly, and even aside from acting the proper Prince, he didn't want to trust something this important to anyone else.

And have forces from outside blockade the city and prevent anything from leaving. He hoped it would all be resolved before he arrived, but he doubted he was that lucky.

|
~~~========>
|

It was probably around when the truck careened around the corner, with a red knightmare standing on top of it and shooting backwards, that Rivalz Cardemond realized the day had just been tanked.

The purple-painted knightmares that followed it around the corner helped him confirm his theory. Shooting, naturally. The image wouldn't be complete without it.

Oh, right. Way. Out of. Rivalz veered the motorcycle aside sharply to the right, trying to get off the road that the freaking battle was taking place on before a stray bullet, or a few dozen, hit him or Lelouch.

The whole vehicle jolted as it jumped up onto the sidewalk, shaking Rivalz's teeth together as he fought to keep the bike under control...

Lelouch noticed a moment before he did, and called out, pointing ahead. "Get off the sidewalk! There's someone there!"

Many someones, actually, but most had spotted the incoming bike and battle and scattered in one direction or another. One in particular must have tripped over something in the middle of the attempt, and was crouched in the sidewalk clutching painfully at her chest. Maybe around their age, Eleven obviously, fairly well-built, long lavender hair falling to her hips, with glasses perched over her nose and an open book fallen on the ground beside her. Rivalz would probably consider her pretty cute, if he weren't about to be responsible for her death.

He twisted the handlebars around, stomping on the brakes. Trying to get pointed away from the Eleven girl and stopped before he hit her, ideally without heading right into the road where the gunfight was taking place.

The screeching of rubber was terrible, and a glance at the road told him that he was leaving chunks of the tires behind, but on the plus side, as he wheeled around, he was slowing down... maybe even fast enough.

The nature of the day, of course, meant that the next thing he saw was one of the rearmost wheels of the truck bearing down on them... shattering under gunfire from the purple knightmares, causing the truck to veer left, jumping up onto the sidewalk. The sidewalk they were on, naturally.

In about the time it took for their motorbike to come to a stop, the truck turned further leftward, away from them. Its movement, however, was still towards them, and it quickly rolled over onto its side, still skidding in their direction.

The red knightmare fell off the top as it fell towards them, but landed on its feet and quickly pushed back against the truck in an attempt to slow it down. A failed attempt, at least as far as they were concerned - wasn't gonna make it.

A glance over at Lelouch showed him leaning out of the sidecar, reaching out... "I've got her! Rivalz, go!"

A long habit of trust in Lelouch mixed well with Rivalz's survival instinct, so before he even processed what was said, he gunned the engine in a pure Pavlovian response, accelerating them forward, away from the truck.

They didn't have to go that far, of course. It was skidding, it would run out of energy before too long, they were just well in the danger zone. It came to a halt barely five meters after passing their former position, probably helped in that early stop by the red knightmare.

Not like Rivalz was going to stop, though.

"Stop!" Lelouch commanded, voice serious for one of the very few times in his life. That whole Pavlovian response thing kicked in again, and the bike quickly came to a stop - they hadn't built up a whole lot of speed.

As Rivalz actually processed it, he turned left, about to complain to Lelouch, before seeing the reason for the command.

It was hard to tell which was less fit than the other - Lelouch and the girl were both panting for breath, hands sweaty, and had almost lost hold of one another. The girl fell to the sidewalk, clutching her chest, which probably would have hurt a great deal more if the bike had been at speed when their grip gave out.

Rivalz bit back his complaint. As usual, Lelouch was right. Though heaving for breath and not exactly in a position to comment on it.

He got off the bike, planning to pick up the girl and dump her more properly in the sidecar before resuming the 'get far far away from the battle' thing. As it turned out, by the time he reached her, the battle resolved that for them.

With about the level of subtlety he was coming to expect, the red knightmare punched a hole in the cab of the truck, reaching in to pull out the driver, before directing its... he didn't actually remember what they were called, the integrated grappling hook things... up at the nearest building's roof. A quick reel, and it was off the sidewalk, on the roof, and continuing away. The purple knightmares were moments behind.

Leaving the street ruined, people shell-shocked and staring after them, a hydrant that must've been hit by a stray shell pumping water up into the sky...

"What... are the Forces... doing?" Lelouch panted out, as he regained control of his breath. "Fighting a battle... in the middle of a city...?"

As his mind had time to catch up and process the recent events, Rivalz realized what Lelouch meant - the purple paint scheme was for the Britannian Forces knightmares. "... Maybe the local garrison chasing terrorists?"

"In a... crowded street?"

Rivalz turned to Lelouch, holding up his hands. "Hey, I don't know! Don't ask me."

A slim hand reached up onto the motorbike's side, shakily pulling up the rest of its body. The lavender-haired girl, who looked between them red-faced, before looking down and whispering "... Thank you. I..." In fairly good Britannian, actually.

Rivalz chuckled nervously, looking away.

There was a moment of silence. A little awkward.

Then Lelouch spoke up. "Rivalz, does this thing still work? We can get her home before we go to the train station." He turned to the girl. "Is that all right?"

Rivalz hopped to checking, agreeing with Lelouch here. They had the time and he'd like to get some extra distance from the knightmare battle, not to mention that he'd sort of like to finish the whole 'saving the girl' thing and get her to somewhere that was hopefully safer than the street.

The Eleven girl looked up slightly. "I... guess I should..." A slight frown crossed her face. "But... um... the train station is closed down right now.. Probably related to..." She pointed wordlessly in the direction the knightmares had run.

Rivalz slapped his forehead with his hand. "Ack, really? Shirley's gonna tear us apart by the time we get home at this rate... Well, the bike works, at least. Hopefully the rental company has terrorist insurance, or this's gonna eat up most of my savings repairing..." At least Lelouch had managed to take the fifteen minutes it took to demolish Viscount Semnan before this and the nobleman had paid up, or he'd have to be borrowing from Lelouch's share of their collection of winnings.

The girl swallowed. "Um... if you don't have any place to stay, you could rest at my house until the train is running again."

Rivalz blinked. "Ah? Wait, that'd be-"

"I owe you," the Eleven cut him off. "You two saved my life, and you're offering to take me home too. It'd be poor of me not to at least let you rest there."

"Uh..."

"We'll accept gladly," Lelouch smoothly interrupted, stepping out of the sidecar. "Sit here, I'll hang on behind Rivalz."

The girl looked to Rivalz.

Rivalz, for his part, frowned slightly, waiting until Lelouch stepped up to him before whispering. "You can't be serious? Staying at a girl's house is-"

"For a few hours, Rivalz," Lelouch whispered back. "She's not going to do anything inappropriate, I'm not, and I highly doubt you are."

Rivalz sighed, dropping his head. What was he supposed to say? 'Yes, I will!'? "... All right, fine." He waved to the sidecar. "Go on and get in before the battle gets back around here." It probably wouldn't, except knowing how the day was going...

The girl gave a faint smile. "I don't have a whole lot, but... it's yours while you're in Fuyuki." She stood straight, and bowed first to Lelouch, then to Rivalz. "My name is Kokoro."

The boys introduced themselves, and in a short enough time, they were off.

|
~~~========>
|

Sorin Decebal exhaled with a sigh, lowering the binoculars. "What the hell is Assassin doing? I send him to scout and he starts a brawl in public." With a casual reinforcement to survive it, he dropped down a few stories next to the white car in the otherwise-empty street, opening the rear door and slipping in. "Isabelle, take us west across the bridge. Fairly fast, and hang as far south as you can."

Isabelle von Einzbern nodded sharply, the gesture sending her long white hair ruffling forward as she started the car, quickly accelerating down the street. He'd had to teach her how to drive, but she wasn't half-bad at it. At least, he'd take advantage of the extra pair of hands while it was there - easier to fight his own part that way.

She didn't ask for an explanation, but Sorin provided one anyway. "Our Servant started a fight already. And there's another battle going on in the city, looks like the Britannians against some local resistance. Knightmares to the northwest end of the newer part of town. I'd rather avoid that one."

"I understand, Sorin."

Sorin rolled down the window, grabbing a long-barreled rifle from the seat next to him, and aimed to the southwest, angled high. A simple squeeze of the trigger quietly sent a subsonic projectile flying across the city, over the river in the middle and into the older part of town.

He came back in, dropping the 'someone else's business' compulsion as he hid the rifle and reached for a PDA. The round hadn't been an attacking one - he could make a shot at that range, but he wasn't dumb enough to try it when he couldn't even see the target from here. It was a camera, and would be floating up there for a while on a thin parachute. Now he could see where his targets were.

There was a hissing sound as he sucked in air between his barely-parted lips. Total bad habit, never got around to shaking it. "It's the Tohsaka Master. Has to be. Seems they sent their daughter after all." Of course, Tohsaka Takara was the only Master they actually had information on yet. They had some prospectives, but Tohsaka was the only confirmed.

Isabelle nodded.

... Damn it, this job was already wearing on him. She was his wife for now but he still could barely deal with her - she just didn't talk. Not enough 'human' in the three-year-old homunculus, and from him that was saying something. Still... the Einzberns had fronted a lot of cash for this one. "I'd rather not start a fight this early and show our hand, but since Assassin's made the choice for us, we're going to have to knock her out of the fight."

"Kill her?"

Sorin waved a hand, searching the image on his PDA for the battle. He knew where it was, shouldn't take too much longer. "If it comes to it. I'd rather deal with the Servant and let her take refuge with the Directorate's mediator."

"That will be much more difficult."

"Like I said, if it comes to it. I'll do what's necessary, but if it's not necessary, it's just bad tradecraft." At some point in his career, that had become his opinion on killing a fourteen-year-old girl for money. And damnit, this job had him getting way too introspective, probably because his Servant was a jackass and his 'wife' didn't talk unless he dragged it out of her - no talking apparently led to thinking, and when the useful topics were exhausted... He shook himself, returning to scanning the camera feed

Naturally, Isabelle didn't say anything. They drove up onto the bridge, behind a few kids on a motorcycle - there really weren't a lot of cars on the road, probably because this amounted to a ghetto. Doubtful many of the Japanese had the cash to run them anyway.

Ah, there they were. South of the bridge, towards the much less densely-packed residential areas. The area was empty, and if he zoomed out just a little, he could see a ragged sphere of people turning away from the battle long before it came in sight. Tohsaka must have put up a 'go away from me' compulsion.

At least one of them was being responsible. The Association would tear him a new asshole if there were witnesses to magecraft on the level of a Servant battle, and any cleanup of something that big would create its own anomaly to draw further attention...

He whistled, zooming back in on the battle. "Her Servant is tough, Assassin's slamming him with his thousand and one Noble Phantasms but the guy just keeps on trucking." The girl - seated on her Servant's shoulder - turned around and pointed a finger at the golden Assassin that pursued them, held like a pistol, and a jolt of... something... crossed the space between them, though Assassin rolled aside with his usual contemptuous ease. "Whoa, Gandr. Didn't think that was in the Tohsaka arsenal."

"They captured an Edelfelt last War," Isabelle noted.

Sorin nodded. "Yeah, guess they grabbed some goodies off her. Hm... she's heading towards the Tohsaka manor."

"If she gets into her stronghold, this will get much more difficult."

"Nah, don't forget, the Tohsaka bailed out of the country with the invasion seven years ago. They've been living in Italy. The manor's defences would've degraded a hell of a lot in the time since, and she's only been back here a weekish. Seven days isn't going to make up for seven years." He hummed, slipping a 'don't look at me' spell on his rifle.

"Sorin?"

He leaned out the window, holding the rifle out and hoping the spell kept anyone on the bridge from noticing it. "Just the same, I don't like letting an enemy complete their plan." He peered into the scope, looking southwest, towards the battle... got it.

He centered the sights on the girl's red jacket. No way he'd make a shot at this distance from a moving car no matter how steady Isabelle's hands were on the wheel. But if he could at least rattle her...

There was a loud crack as the bullet broke the sound barrier - he loved variable-acceleration electromagnetic rails, the things were so useful - and tore across the river towards the girl.

Nerves. Of. Steel. Girl didn't even flinch as the bullet whipped past her ear over her shoulder, rolling forward and probably landing in her Servant's hands - he couldn't really see, given the hulking Servant's back blocked his view.

And his angle of fire. With a tsk, he pulled the rifle back in, switching to much less attention-grabbing binoculars. Yeah, given Assassin's Noble Phantasms were embedding themselves in the Servant's leather-clad greyish flesh without him even hesitating, Sorin really didn't think his rifle would do a whole lot. Maybe his pocket arti...

Never mind. He caught the kids on the motorcycle out of the corner of his eye. Both the passengers were looking back wide-eyed at his car, apparently resistant enough to the 'nothing to see here' effect to, well, see a man trying to snipe a fourteen-year-old girl in broad daylight. The cycle accelerated away.

Isabelle frowned, perfect lips twisting. "Pursue them?"

Sorin waved a hand. "Don't bother. They didn't see any spellcraft, just terrorism, and that's hardly rare in this country. By the time the cops get here we'll be long-gone, ditch the car, get a new one, and we're clean as roses." Normally his mindfuck spells were more reliable than that. Downright embarrassing.

"Can we keep up the battle?"

"Mm... no. My no-notice spells were resisted, and I'm starting to worry about the reliability of Tohsaka's. We're going to have to prosecute this War the old-fashioned way - in secret. Give me a prana flood, I'm about to use a Command Seal."

The pale-haired homunculus nodded, and the air between them wavered, almost like it'd suddenly heated up - it wasn't actually temperature, but human eyes really didn't work quite right trying to focus on raw prana.

Sorin extended his right arm, the red tattoo of three circles, one inside the next, visible on his palm. "Assassin." The innermost circle flared. "Come when I call you!"

The air tore apart in the front passenger seat, rudely dumping the golden figure in the car.

"What is a mongrel like you thinking, interrupting my battle?" His first words were essentially as expected.

Sorin brandished the Command Seals as a minor reminder. "A mongrel like me is thinking 'what the hell?' You dropped the comm unit I gave you. And then you kicked off the Holy Grail War in a public place and dragged the fight halfway across the city."

"No, I threw it away. I have no need for your advice."

"Like it or not, Assassin, I'm your Master right now - and believe me, I don't like it either. But you pull this kind of stunt and the Association is going to peel us alive. Maybe they won't manage you, but Isabelle and I peel well enough, and once we go, you drop right back to the Throne of Heroes."

The perfectly-sculpted brows twitched. "I will extract a heavy price for your insolence, Dacian."

"When the Command Seals run out," Sorin corrected. "Until then, you're going to do things like a professional. My way."

Assassin smiled. Anticipation. "A heavy price indeed." The Command Seals didn't have him cowed, but they at least had him controlled for now.

Sorin leaned back, sighing and rubbing his temples. The Einzbern had picked the Servant too - the strongest one whose catalyst they could get a hold of in the time since the Grail had started off the selection. And he was strong as hell, but Sorin would've sold that and half the paycheck for a C-lister who fought with half a brain. He was starting to regret his 'always fulfill the contract' policy already.

|
~~~========>
|

General Bartley Aspirius didn't think he was going to be a general much longer. He held himself up on a crutch, his other hand holding a phone. "Your Highness, I'm sorry."

"I do not appreciate hearing those words in a situation such as this," the Third Prince's voice came back.

"We've recovered the capsule," Bartley began.

"That's wonderful. But it does not mesh with your apology."

"... It's empty."

"... What."

Bartley bit his lip, looking over the torn open truck and the scattered equipment. "The rebels abandoned the truck. The Forces chased after them, and it was a little while before the retrieval team arrived. Given the situation, it's possible the rebels absconded with the sample, or it's possible they left it and it left on its own. I have men tracking both possibilities."

"... You're telling me the sample is gone, and you don't know where?"

Bartley winced. "I'm sorry, Your Highness. The surveillance slipped. I take full responsibility."

"You will, will you? And what's my father going to say when he finds out Code R was compromised?! Do you have any idea what's going to happen to me, Bartley?!"

Bartley swallowed. "We're tracking them now. Nothing's going to be getting out of this city without our consent, and once we catch the rebels, we can find out whether they have the sample or just abandoned it. Beyond that, there really aren't any witnesses, the capsule was hidden from view by the truck... nobody could see where she came from if she came out."

"You must be joking! A room-to-room search of an entire Eleven city to find a sample who we have to hide from our soldiers in the process?! There aren't enough soldiers in all the Area!" Clovis took a long, calming breath. "Burn it."

Bartley blinked. "Your High-"

"Burn it to the ground. Destroy it all so there's no evidence left. And then root through the rubble until you find the sample. Am I clear, Bartley?"

Bartley swallowed. "... Very clear, Your Highness. But the mainland will notice-"

"We'll tell them we're rezoning the area for industry. It's just an Eleven ghetto, it's not a major concern."

"... Yes, Your Highness. I'll issue the appropriate orders."

"Good. Make preparations. It will begin upon my arrival." The Prince hung up.

Bartley lowered the phone. ... He was going to have to get into the G-1 mobile command base up north, evacuate the few relevant personnel, before he set the Forces to levelling this city.

Disobedience hadn't even crossed his mind. Even if he could get away with it, he obeyed the orders of his Prince. That was what separated Britannians from the barbarians of the EU.

|
~~~========>
|

Lelouch looked out at the house as he stepped off the bike. It was a nice building, probably fairly old. European in style, actually, and quite respectably sized. But it hadn't been cared for well for some time - the outside was darkened, a little dingy, with moss climbing up the walls and barely kept away from the windows. Not that surprising, though. Given the economic situation of the ghettoes, it was unlikely Kokoro's family had the funds to properly care for the place.

Kokoro stepped off the sidecar as well, slipping her glasses off. At Lelouch's raised eyebrow, she explained "Reading glasses. I'm farsighted, not nearsighted."

"Ah. Well then." He gestured. "Ladies first. Besides, you have the keys."

She covered her mouth and giggled slightly, stepping up the stone walkway towards the front door.

Rivalz leaned in beside Lelouch. "... You sure? The place doesn't look all that... I mean, I'm not trying to be snobby here, but how much hospitality do you think she can really spare?" Whispered, of course.

Lelouch whispered back. "It's because she doesn't have much that she offers it. Pride's one of the few things she has." Or at least, that was how it was with him. "Besides, do you really want to head back across the bridge? I have no idea where the rebels are in the city." He stepped up after her.

With a sigh, Rivalz followed.

The girl smiled as they arrived, pushing open the door and stepping in. The place was dark. Very dark. It was possible to see, but only with effort. "I'm sorry about the lighting... Grandfather really doesn't like too much light."

"Or noise," a voice rasped from deeper within. The figure of a small man stepped forward, the darkness rolling off him like foul water. He hadn't always been small, but age had clearly taken much - he was deeply withered, almost mummified, bent and hairless, standing only with the aid of a cane, wrapped in a kimono. But the years hadn't taken away the spirit and the light in his eyes. He was as sharp as he'd been at Lelouch's age. Maybe more so. For a moment, he reminded Lelouch of old Kirihara... but this man was different. Kirihara was dangerous... but this man felt wrong.

Kokoro whirled around, fear in her voice - fear that hadn't even been there when she'd almost been crushed by an out-of-control battle. "G... Grandfather! I thought you were sleeping..."

"I was," the man spat out, eyes skipping over Rivalz without a second glance, and settling on Lelouch. His face twisted into a terrifying smile. "But then, it seems you brought me something useful after all.

Kokoro followed his gaze, and then shook her head wildly. "No! Grandfather, they helped me! I was just going to let them-"

"Shut up." Her jaw snapped shut, face taut with fright.

He slowly stepped towards Lelouch, cane tapping against the carpet, the wild light in his eyes roving over the young Britannian.

Lelouch licked his lips. "I'm 'useful', hm? I cannot say I am very interested." He tried to catch Kokoro's eye.

"Oh... you will be, boy."

"It's not that I won't take a deal with the devil. I just don't think you're going to offer me anything of interest." If he could catch Kokoro's attention, he could get her out of here... he had no intention of staying, and he'd rather not leave anyone else either.

The old man barked out a laugh. "You have the look about you." He stepped closer. "Of a man who wants something so badly he would gladly sell his life."

Lelouch's eyes narrowed, and he knew the man had caught it.

The man's lip curled. "But of a man who sees no way even his life could buy it. It's left you listless. Disinterested. There is nothing that matters for you but what you cannot affect."

Hit, and hit. Lelouch didn't let his bored facade slip this time, but the old man surely knew he'd hit the mark.

The man came to a stop. "What would you do if I told you...? Of a game where you can gamble your life, and win anything your heart desired?"

And miss. Lelouch's eyebrow rose. Not entirely disinterested, but... "... I think I would say that you're exaggerating your game, underestimating my heart's desire, or insane."

The man's gaze shifted a bit to Kokoro. "Girl, demonstrate. Something flashy."

Instantly obedient, Kokoro's fist lashed out at the brick wall beside her... and tore a hole through it.

"... You're fixing that."

"Yes, Grandfather," she meekly agreed.

Lelouch stared at the inhuman display of strength from a girl... barely his size. That was... they had something. Something he hadn't considered. Something he could use. Something Britannia wasn't prepared for.

The old man's gaze shifted to Rivalz - who was pretty much staring petrified, and looked about ready to run. "Boy, I'll be having you forget this conversation. Step back outside and wait."

Rivalz's expression calmed, and he nodded cheerfully. "Okay, sure. Hey Lelouch, I'll be out by the bike, okay?"

Lelouch swallowed, nodding slowly as his eyes returned to the old man. That hadn't been conversation. That had been another ability... if he could use anything like that, his dreams had just come years closer. Maybe even, finally, within reach.

Rivalz stepped out.

The old man smiled, slowly. He really was the devil, and Lelouch really was going to make a deal with him. And the man knew he had him. "Permit me to introduce myself." He slowly, elegantly, bowed. "I am Matou Zouken. Magus."

|
~~~========>
|

Wise Up - The Holy Britannian Empire

As I understand it, you are from a different timeline. Quite radically different in fact, though the similarities are truly impressive.

Though, not as impressive as they seem at first glance! You may have noted terms such as 'Pavlov', 'firearm', and for that matter, 'empire'. This is me, translating it so you can comprehend. The name of the man who performed the closest analogue to Pavlov's experiments in this timeline - Willem Bussard, if you must know - is not one that you would respond to naturally, after all.

Except for Pizza Hut. I don't understand that one either.

But, proceeding back to the topic. This particular timeline diverged from yours around two thousand years ago. I believe you mark time by the birth of Jesus Christ?

This particular timeline - or at least Britannia - marks its years according to the Ascension Throne Britannia calendar, whose initial date is set in 55 BC, when the Roman general Julius Caesar first made landing in the British Isles. So while the year is listed as 2017, by the Anno Domini calendar, it is 1962.

Specifically, it marks his defeat. Of course, while Britannia's education system would have you believe that's the end of it, he was defeated in 55 BC in your timeline too. He came back the next year. And won, in both histories.

The difference lies in what happened afterward. Because Caesar never conquered Britannia - he won the battles, but all he received was hostages, and established trade relationships with the various kingdoms of the island. The true conquest came nearly a century later, under Claudius - in your history, that is.

In our world, those trade relationships did not expand. A king of the Catuvellauni, Eowyn, brought the tribes of Britannia together, uniting them under a single King of Kings and forging them into a force strong enough to defend itself against the might of Rome.

And thus history took on a new course. Barely a century and a half later, with a crashing economy due to an inability to expand, the Roman Empire fell. I could chart the twists and turns of history, but to be honest, the relevance to modernity is... limited.

What you do need to know is that revolutions came up - the people were growing tired of monarchy, and sought to rule for themselves. First one in Britannia's North American colonies, but it was unsuccessful. And then one in France... but this one worked much better. In fact, it expanded all across Europe, driven by the military genius of one French artilleryman.

And then it expanded across the British Channel, forcing Britannia's government into exile in its colonies.

Britannia was shamed by this. A nation that had stood for two thousand years, and then lost its own homeland, its beautiful cities, forced out to a rough and rude existence in its own colonies by - as they saw it - a mere peasant rabble.

A nation that declared to itself that it would not lose again. That it would take back all it had lost, and more. A new national crest - the lion representing the Emperor (or Empress - it's worth noting that gender was never much of an issue in Britannia) became accompanied by a serpent, representing rebirth.

And they proceeded to make a fair bid at conquering the world - forcing the borders back, and back, and further back, never to be crossed and shamed again. They had been pushed to the brink of oblivion, and come to see international politics - life itself - as a war for survival. If others did not allow them to live, they saw no reason to allow others to live.

As time went by, they came to see their conquests as natural. Proof of their superiourity, and of their right to conquer more - to conquer all.

Not all of them, of course. There were doves, even in Britannia. Even on Britannia's throne. But the broad trends continued to push them this way. And they kept winning, despite having the smallest military of the three great superpowers of the world.

By 2010, Britannia sat astride the world like a colossus. The Americas, both North and South, were theirs, as was Greenland. And then in 2010, they added Japan to their list of conquests, as usual stripping it of everything - freedom, rights, even the pride of its own name. Area 11.

The expansion has since continued, largely across the islands of East Asia. It doesn't look like a great deal more on the map, but that is still seven years and as many countries losing the right of self-determination and becoming a simple part of Britannia. At present, Britannia's making gains again - Second Princess Cornelia is pushing the Middle Eastern Federation rapidly towards its breaking point.

Once that falls, the next target - the obvious target from the positioning of the Middle Eastern Federation - is Britannia's great enemy, the democratic Euro Universe.

Please do not ask me about the name, Archer.

|
~~~========>
|

Author's Notes:
First thing's first - thanks go out to prereaders - the list being Sunshine Temple, DCG, Ellf, and Belgarion213.
Unfortunately, while FSN readers will probably recognize most of the Servants, the Masters are going to be new faces, except for the ones (yes, plural) from Code Geass. It's 1962, after all. This is the Fourth Grail War, but it's sort of 35 years early for reasons that will come up. The only canonical Master for this one who's even born yet is Kayneth, and he's certainly not HGW material just yet. The others, well... Rin's grandmother is 14, let alone Tokiomi and Rin herself.
This was mostly the equivalent of the first episode of Code Geass, though obviously with different events, with the robber rebels not making it out of the city they made the initial theft from.
As always, reviews, comments, corrections, and etcetera are appreciated whether for good or ill, and my email's always open (PaleWLF @ gmail com).
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:56 am

Topical.

Disclaimer: No copyright is mine, thus no copyrighted character is. If you recognize them from something that's not written by 'Pale Wolf', I have no legal claim to them.

Code Geass: The War Of Kings

By Pale Wolf

Chapter Two

To Be A Master

~~~|========>

"What do you know about the Holy Grail War?" Zouken began, leading the way deeper into the Matou home.

Lelouch followed carefully, shaking his head. "Now? Its name."

"Bit of a surprise." The old... magus... turned to look at Lelouch, with what was probably meant to be a smile but came out more leer-like. "The strength of your circuits nearly rolls off you. I felt you coming from a kilometer out."

Kokoro, eyes downcast at Lelouch's side, glanced at him in surprise. "Wha..."

The cane rose to point at her. "No delays, girl. The Britannian military is planning to level the city, and we need things that are only available here."

Lelouch's eyes widened. "Wait, they're planning to what?! How do you even-?"

"Magus, boy. I have many eyes in many places." His cane tapped the floor once more. "If you will listen to me, within the hour you will hold a power that will render their army irrelevant. You may escape, or save the city, as suits your whim. Settle."

Lelouch slowly nodded, gritting his teeth. "Speak quickly."

"The Holy Grail War is a competition between magi, a ritual to manifest a magical artifact with enough power within it to grant essentially any wish. It is held every sixty years here in Fuyuki, though the current one is somewhat of an anomaly - the Third was only twenty-five years ago." The man's head bobbed. "I do not know why the speed, nor is it relevant. Moving on."

Lelouch nodded, following the withered old magus. "I would presume this is the 'game that will grant my heart's desire'."

"I'm not awarding you any points, that was obvious."

"So why does this come to me? Where do I come in? Why the offer?"

"Does this ravaged old body look suited to a war?" He nodded to Kokoro. "And the girl is useless. She only has four circuits, she can do parlour tricks like reinforcement, but simply lacks the power to handle a Servant."

Kokoro cringed, but said nothing.

Lelouch very much did not like this man, but at the same time, he couldn't afford not to listen to what he was offering, so he gestured.

"Yes, which brings us to the topic of what one fights the War with. The weapon is called a Servant. It is a figure summoned from myth and history, the finest weapons born to the human race. Think of it as a ghost, but the ghost of one of the greatest warriors ever to have lived, and with the power to affect the physical world. It would not be understating the matter to say that one Servant could crush the army surrounding this city."

Lelouch raised an eyebrow. "I find it hard to believe that a swordsman could do much against armour plate and guns."

"A swordsman, no. A swordsman fast as a bullet with the strength to lift a car overhead? Somewhat different matter. The heroes of old had access to powers beyond those of mere mortals - magecraft at the very least - and Servants are the greatest among them."

"I'm still suspecting you're underestimating modern technology, but I will admit I don't know the limitations of your abilities," Lelouch noted. "Consider me skeptical, but willing to hear more." Whether or not this 'Servant' was any use against the Britannian Forces, the wish was not to be ignored. The Matous had demonstrated enough strange powers that he was, at the least, not willing to throw out the idea immediately.

Frankly, while he'd been working on his plans for seven years, they came down to 'Step One, Step Two, ?????, Destroy Britannia'. As a high school student, he was distinctly lacking in resources. No matter how little he believed in something, he couldn't afford to throw it out. All his old angles were failures or decades in the future - new angles bore investigating.

Zouken nodded. "The Servant is the marker - destroy the enemy Servants, through any means at your disposal, and victory is yours. The magus does not summon the Servant. The Grail does. The Grail selects seven Masters, and marks them with a Command Seal. Then they can summon their Servant."

Lelouch blinked. "... I don't have any kind of marking. Unless you have a way to get me selected, I don't see how this discussion is going to be anything other than theoretical."

Zouken turned back, pointing his cane at Kokoro. "You can have my granddaughter."

"What." Lelouch blankly stared at the old man.

Kokoro looked up at Zouken, then at Lelouch, and then silently looked away, red-faced.

"Don't look at me like that, boy." He nodded to Kokoro. "Girl, go get your collection of initiation tools, meet in the basement."

Kokoro meekly nodded, slipping away down a nearby hall.

Zouken turned back to Lelouch. "The Matou family is one of the three founding families of the Holy Grail War. We automatically have an entry." The ancient man shrugged. "I was going to let this one pass us by, the girl is useless but for what might spring from her womb. But, if one were to marry into the family, then they would become eligible for the Matou slot. The Einzbern have done the same for their mercenary Master."

Lelouch pursed his lips, glancing down the hallway - Kokoro was still well within earshot. "So... what, a sham marriage so the system accepts it?" Which wasn't really... too different from an arranged marriage. He'd never been much of a romantic, so this wasn't shattering any dreams for him - to be honest, an arranged marriage that gave him an angle at getting what he did dream of was pretty much the closest thing to a romantic fantasy he'd ever had.

"If you want. While she's useless, she has learned the lore of an old magus family. She knows it, even if she can't do it, and can provide you with whatever instruction you require. And whatever else you require - I wouldn't mind getting a useful heir out of her."

Lelouch gritted his teeth. "You're talking about your own granddaughter like she's a horse on auction."

Zouken barked a laugh. "Want to check her teeth? I'm too old for pretensions, boy. Do what you will with her - learn, have your fun, take her far away from this bad, bad man. Whichever suits your taste."

It was around this point where Lelouch realized - this man was going to have to die. Not immediately. Lelouch still needed him. But in the end, this man would want the power he'd spoken of - it was likely that he intended to take it if Lelouch were able to win it, and if Lelouch weren't, nothing lost. And a man like this could not be permitted to have it.

None of this showed on his face, but he was sure Zouken knew the battle lines had been drawn. Which meant Zouken was going to be assembling his own plan for the endgame - but then, it wouldn't matter if they didn't make it that far. Zouken was going to win as it stood - the old man knew far more about how all this magical jiggery worked. So Lelouch was going to have to learn fast - but even a low probability of success was enough for his taste, as long as he was at least on the battlefield. He was still getting ahead of his old position with every step he took. "... Very well. Do we need a priest?"

Zouken smirked. "I will suffice." Zouken reached a door. "We will perform the ceremony, then we will open up your magic circuits. I highly doubt you will have enough control by the time the Command Seals show themselves, so I will handle the magical side of the summon, you will handle the administrative. From the moment of the summon, however, you and Kokoro are on your own. You will have to fuel your Servant with prana however you see fit."

The old man pulled open the door, and Lelouch slapped a hand over his nose. "It reeks! You can't seriously be thinking of holding a wedding there." Even his thoroughly unromantic soul rebelled at the damp, rotting stench.

"It's the workshop, and you'll need to be summoning from down there."

"Fine, but not a wedding. Seriously."

Zouken's lips curled into a hideous rictus grin. "So you do have limits. How cute." His small, bent hand pushed the door shut - cutting off that godawful smell. "Very well. Girl!"

Lelouch followed his gaze, to see Kokoro, hefting a small bag - it looked medical in nature, mostly bottles of pills and a syringe - walking back towards them through the darkened hall, gaze lowered to her feet. "Yes, Grandfather?"

"Do you take this man," he gestured to Lelouch. "to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold and all that rot?"

Kokoro swallowed, looking up at Lelouch red-faced, lips working slightly. "I..." Behind her glasses - she must have needed to read labels on the medicine bottles, she'd put them back on - her lavender eyes closed. "... do."

Lelouch closed his own eyes, whispering a mute apology. At least he'd be able to get her out of here. Hopefully that was enough.

"And boy, do you, whatever your name was, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, etcetera etcetera, sickness and health and who cares?"

Lelouch opened his eyes, taking a deep breath and focusing on Kokoro. She was looking up at him, eyes wide and lips shaking. "I do." He hated that look on her face - on anyone's. But this was the only way that had ever opened up towards his goals - towards no one ever having to have such an expression again.

Zouken clapped his hands together. "You may now kiss the bride."

Lelouch stared at him. Was he unable to read the mood at all, or was he just toying with them? Lelouch couldn't honestly tell.

"Well? She's not going to kiss herself. Come on, boy, this's the last step, then you and the girl are on your way out of here."

"At least look away. Do you have any conception of 'human dignity' at all?"

"Pointless little..." Zouken mumbled under his breath, shuffling around. Doubtful he actually cared, more likely he just realized Lelouch would argue it and the whole thing would be done quicker if he let it lie.

Lelouch turned to Kokoro, hand resting against his forehead. "... This... probably doesn't match up to your dreams, and I doubt I do either. I am sorry."

Kokoro shook her head, swallowing. "Not to the dreams, but... better than I expected... I owe you my life. I didn't plan to give it to you like this, but..."

Lelouch was about to say 'don't worry', then realized how pointless it would be (how exactly would she reasonably stop?), and skipped to the next line. "This is only as serious as you want it to be."

She smiled faintly. "... I guess that'll do..."

"Enough of the sweet nothings and finish the ceremony already, we're on a schedule!" Zouken barked. Still turned away - Lelouch had checked - but... well, there went what little mood they'd managed.

Kokoro tilted up, rising on her toes - she wasn't a short girl, but Lelouch was quite tall. Before leaning in, she whispered "... What was your wish?"

Lelouch considered for a moment keeping it secret. It was big, and if he told all the background, he and his sister might well be in danger again.

Only for a moment, though. She was opening the way to it. She deserved to know what it was. "... I'll tell you later. Away from..." He nodded to Zouken.

His head lowered as hers rose, eyes closing.

No sparks. No burning fire of desire. She was a limp fish, and honestly he was too. It didn't feel even halfway to as interesting as all the thousands upon thousands of songs, ballads, and poems on the topic seemed to imply. What was the big deal? It was just an embarrassing physical contact.

Of mutual accord, they pulled back, opening their eyes. Yes, going by her expression, it had been about as good for her as for him.

"Not doing that again?"

"Not doing that again."

"Finally! I was about to go light some candles and put on mood music." Zouken opened the door to the cellar, and the stench immediately swamped out. And down he went.

Lelouch and Kokoro traded looks, and then followed him down the stairs.

It would have been romantic to say they were holding hands after that, but untrue. Her hands were wrapped around the medical bag, his were slipped into his pockets specifically to avoid the ingrained-over-a-thousand-stories reflex that had almost overcome him. Seriously, while she was attractive enough, he'd only known her for half an hour. He was hardly going to drop his focus and his life's mission for a relationship with anyone, let alone someone he barely knew.

Couldn't afford the distraction, didn't want it that much. And he needed to avoid prolonging this awkwardness. She was his partner now, for the Holy Grail War at least. They needed to work together, not make doe eyes at each other.

Stupid reflexes.

~~~|========>

Ohgi Kaname buried his face in his hands. "How bad is it, Kallen?"

The girl on the other end of the radio line sounded extremely annoyed. "Bad. We went the wrong way. Ran into - literally - a Britannian general, who recognized the capsule."

The man with her, Nagata, added, "We got away, but he got pursuit after us. They forced us further north, and eventually trashed the truck. There was no way we were getting the capsule out, so we ran. We've been trying to call our train station contact, but no word on where he bugged off to. Any odds on getting the boys up here soon enough to retake it?"

Kaname shook his head, glancing around the truck's cargo compartment - refitted into a makeshift APC - at the other members of the resistance cell. "Not for a couple of hours yet. I'll call around and see if I can find some of the local groups to fill in, but..."

"Oh come on, Ohgi!" Tamaki yelled from across the compartment. "You can't be serious! This's our job, you can't let everyone and their monkey in."

Kaname held up his hands. "I'd rather we did it alone too, but before that I'd rather it got done at all. I just can't guarantee we'll be there in time, Fuyuki resistance groups will be."

Tamaki fell back in his seat, grumbling.

"... Why'd you go the wrong way?" Kaname had to ask.

Nagata made a sort of strangled whining noise in the back of his throat.

"... I'm not going to go into it," Kallen stated, flatly. "We don't really have the time to discuss right now, I'll tell you the details later."

Kaname nodded. "All right, I'll take your word on it. What about you? How are you doing up there?" It was obviously Nagata's miss, but Kallen was right, they had more important things to do than chastising the man for a mistake he already regretted. They could do it later - and if they actually could and everyone was alive, he'd consider that a victory.

"Could be better," Nagata noted. "Could be a lot better."

"Could also be a lot worse. No bullet wounds, and the knightmare's just a little dinged up," Kallen added. "We finally managed to find a hiding spot, and the Britannians don't seem to have caught us yet."

"Only a matter of time."

"Oh, time! Ohgi, while you're talking to your contacts, see if they can scrounge up an energy filler for the knightmare? We're down to about ten minutes full power left."

With that admission of Kallen's, Kaname was starting to lean towards Nagata's somewhat less-optimistic viewpoint. "... I'll see what I can do. And? The cargo?"

"Looks like our information was right and it is poison gas," Kallen stated.

"Or at least something they really don't want us to have," Nagata added. "They had knightmares and VTOLs after us within minutes."

"And the city's surrounded," Kaname pointed out. "It's not going to be easy to get in or out. I think they put half the national garrison on this one."

"... Ohgi, get us that support. The way the Britannians are moving... I don't like it." Kallen's voice sounded... Kaname did not like hearing that from his best friend's little sister.

Kaname frowned. "What do you mean? We can't get a whole lot out here, they're blacking out information sources fast."

Nagata swallowed. "It's... hard to describe. It's like they're only looking for us on a cursory basis. They got another priority. And I don't know what it is."

"... I'll get you that support. Hang tight, and save your power."

"We'll do our best," Kallen agreed, shutting off the channel.

Kaname took a deep breath. Nobody in the resistance community was gonna be happy with him, but someone needed to be up there, and fast, before the last communication lines were cut off. He lowered the radio. "Minami, step on the pedal. Get us there yesterday."

The bespectacled man up in the driver's seat simply nodded, and there was a pull of acceleration

"Inoue, Yoshida, Sugiyama, Tamaki, call up everyone you can think of. Find us whoever you can in Fuyuki, and get them informed. When the Britannians drop the hammer, I want someone to catch it." He set to that task himself.

Hopefully he was overreacting, but he had no idea what Britannia was going to pull, and they had rarely done anything that benefited the Japanese.

~~~|========>

Matou Kokoro kept an eye on her... husband... as she knelt in the damp darkness of the worm storage room, noting several blank storage spaces - Zouken must have hidden the various 'familiars' of the Matou clan so as not to drive off his new tool. She shook her head and returned to working on the summon circle. She wouldn't mind changing her family name now, if it were actually an option. But she didn't know what to change it to...

But then, no matter what she hid it behind, she was still a Matou woman. Her legacy, body, and 'grandfather' weren't going to go away, whatever label you put on it. Just the same, it'd be nice to be away from this house for a few weeks. She was always going to be Matou Zouken's tool, but for the Holy Grail War at least, she wouldn't be constantly reminded of it.

Lelouch shuddered, panting for breath - or more accurately, panting to cool off his overheated body. Kokoro had put some ice packs around him and warned him (he'd seemed to believe her, but shrugged it off... whatever it was he wanted, he wanted it badly), but forcing his circuits active - the necessary first step in giving him the qualifications to be a Master - was very painful, pushing a part of the body that was relatively underused to constant use. Somewhat like going from crawling to running a marathon.

Still lucky, though. There wasn't enough time for his body to be... adjusted for the Matou style of spellcraft. Even a three-month program would inevitably kill him, a two-week program wouldn't even leave him alive long enough for Zouken to... use. He'd have to learn the normal way. Whatever he could learn in a few weeks, at least - most likely all he'd be able to do in that time would be provide his surplus of power to his Servant, and maybe reinforcement.

Kokoro hoped he survived. It wouldn't be easy - first the Holy Grail War, and then hope Zouken found him more useful alive and unhurt.

"Das Material ist..." Lelouch proceeded to rattle off the entire incantation, and then, apparently just to point out that he'd memorized it, repeated it in Britannian and Japanese.

Kokoro stared. "... You can talk already?" He was acclimating to the circuit unusually fast. He really did have it... an affinity for magecraft... Even a boy off the street was better than the scion of the Matou these days.

Lelouch gave a pained nod. "Y... yes."

Zouken smiled. "Perfect. You have the incantations, and the signs of the Command Seal are starting to appear. Girl, hurry it up!"

Kokoro yelped, backing out of the circle. "I'm done, Grandfather..."

Lelouch forced himself to his feet, staggering towards the circle. "Should I begin, Matou?"

"I would advise it. The schedule of your countrymen is moving rapidly."

"That is not my nation," Lelouch snapped.

"I do not especially care. Call your Servant before bombs drop on this house, and do with him what you will."

"As you will it..." Lelouch smirked, suddenly standing tall, arms widespread. "Das Material ist aus Silber und Eisen!"

A shiver ran down Kokoro's body as she watched, eyes widening.

"Der Grundstein ist aus Stein und dem Grossherzog des Vertrag," he continued.

His voice had completely changed.

"Der Ahn ist mein grosser Meister, Schweinorg."

No longer the diffident, apathetic behaviour of before.

"Schutz gegen einen heftigen Wind."

His voice was powerful. Passionate. He spoke from his very deepest core.

"Schliess alle Tore, geh aus der Krone, zirkulier die Gabelung nach dem Konig!"

This was the true Lelouch.

"Full, full, full, full, full."

The man willing to put his life on the line for his wish.

"Es wird funfmal wiederholt."

The circle built up a dark, powerful light. That was a complete contradiction in terms, and yet the blackness rolling off the circle made it easier to see. Pushing back the darkness of Zouken's workshop.

"Nur ist es die volle Zeit gebrochen!"

For a moment...

"... Satz." Lelouch paused here, catching his breath.

Just a moment...

"Du uberlasst alles mir, mein Schicksal uberlasst alles deinem Schwert."

Kokoro dared to believe this man could win the War.

"Das basiert auf dem Gral, antwort wenn du diesem Willen und diesem Vernunftgrund folgst." The key words of the ritual came out calm. Stately.

And even beyond... not depend on the mercy of Matou Zouken.

"Liegt das Gelubde hier!"

It was impossible.

"Ich bin die Gute der ganzen Welt!"

But just for a moment, her rationality couldn't shut out that wild thought.

"Ich bin das Bose der ganzen Welt!"

'I am the one who will become all the evil of the world'. This oath, he meant. He had to. No one could lie with such determination. And he knew the meaning behind his words. He would do whatever it took.

"Du bist der Himmel mit dreien Wortseelen,"

The shadows at the back of the workshop moved, drawing Kokoro's jerky stare. There was nothing there. Zouken had moved the worms - the better to keep his new tool placid.

"Komm, aus dem Kreis der Unterdruckung, der Schutzgeist der Balkenwaage...!" Lelouch finished the incantation with the same flair he had begun it, breathing slowly.

But nothing formed in the circle.

Kokoro's lips parted. "No way..." She... wasn't going to be able to...?

Lelouch took a deep breath, and added one more, magically irrelevant, phrase. "The King must lead."

"Or who would follow?" the woman in the circle answered, a twisted smile crossing her face.

Kokoro jolted, staring.

The Servant - she had to be a Servant - stood calmly in the circle, body standing lightly, set with an absolute confidence. Afraid of nothing - the blades of an enemy or the disapproval of a friend. She actually looked a little younger than Kokoro, but that meant nothing - the bodies of Servants were the bodies of a hero in the prime of their life. Dark hair, around shoulder length, hanging over just slightly pointed ears. Blood red eyes. Slender, short, with a long black trident hanging from her hands, just barely scraping the magical circle. Her clothing was simple - a short black short-sleeved dress decorated only with a red bow at the collar, black stockings up to her thighs, red heeled shoes. Kokoro thought she looked Britannian, like Lelouch, but then that would only be if she were human. Heroic Spirits threw everything off, and the ears suggested something other than human in the girl's ancestry.

The trident's blades swirled around the circle, the Servant moving with a perfect grace that turned even idle gestures into the moves of a dance. "And thus I ask: Are you the one who has called me back into this world?"

Lelouch took another, steadying breath. "I am. You may call me Lelouch. I will give you the rest of my name at a better opportunity."

The Servant smirked. "Then I will do the same. For now, I am the Servant Lancer. What is the situation, Lelouch?"

Lelouch glanced at Kokoro. "How much has the ritual provided?"

Kokoro blinked. "Ah... she should know about the Holy Grail War." Lancer nodded. "Basic information on the modern world is provided. But I think you have to look it up. Specifics of the situation are not."

Lelouch turned his gaze to Zouken. "Anything else, Matou?"

Zouken shook his head, a hideous smile lighting his face. "Have fun in the War, Lelouch, Master of Lancer. Fight for your wish with everything."

"So that you can take it, I know," Lelouch waved the Matou patriarch off.

Kokoro stared. He knew? ... No, of course he knew, it would take a madman to trust Zouken, he was just... insane enough to believe he could handle it...

Zouken's head reared back, and he laughed. "Oh, this War will be quite the show! Yes, Lelouch! Fight for me with all you have!"

"He's loud," Lancer noted. "Want me to kill him now and be done with it?" Her trident rose.

"No! Don't!" Kokoro yelled, jumping between the Servant and magus - there was no way she could stop either, but hopefully her presence would deter. Not to protect Zouken - there was no way he could die - but to protect Lancer and Lelouch. The Matous had developed the Command Seal system in the first place. She knew a dozen exploits on her own, there was no telling what Zouken could do to an uppity Servant, and there was no limit to what he would do. She turned her eyes to Lelouch, trying to communicate the danger.

... She didn't know if he'd seen what she was trying to get across, but he saw something, and shook his head. "Later, Lancer. He'll keep."

The trident rose further and up into the air, the girl leaning it against her shoulder. "As you will it, Lelouch."

The newly minted Master took a breath. "I will keep your granddaughter alive, Matou Zouken."

Zouken shrugged. "I don't really care. My heir doesn't need to be a relative. If you provide a grandchild I'll use them, if she dies I'll pick some orphan off the street."

Kokoro didn't wince, or really react to the statement at all - she'd known it as far back as she could remember, after all. Lelouch seemed to twitch at it, though... as did Lancer.

"Really looking forward to 'later', Lelouch," Lancer stated. The shadows seemed to stretch out towards Zouken. "I was adopted myself."

"It will come." Lelouch started towards the stairs. Probably eager to escape the smell. Kokoro was used to it, but for someone who wasn't...

The Servant laughed, following behind him and vanishing into her spiritual form.

Kokoro blinked, grabbing the medicine bag and quick-stepping to catch up.

"Kokoro, can you head up to your room to pack anything you want to bring? We'll wait for you outside with Rivalz. Then we'll see what we can do about that 'level the city' plan the military's got in play, with one spearwoman and three teenagers." Lelouch sounded rather doubtful. But less so than before.

Kokoro nodded vigorously, speeding up towards her room. "I'll be out soon!" She was going to pay for the exertion, her physical condition was pretty bad, but it was worth it.

She wasn't going to take much, and then she'd be out of here.

~~~|========>

Takara paged through the book, frowning. "I'm thinking pre Iron Age... but the weapons are weird, they come from all over, you had a katana lodged in you..."

Berserker nodded, invisibly. "It would seem to be a... hero, if that is an appropriate word, who owned... much. Each of those weapons held the presence of a Noble Phantasm."

Takara nodded, gnawing on her thumb. She and Berserker had, after confirming the disappearance of the golden Servant, ducked into the nearest library. Using a compulsion to keep it empty - she wanted to be careful and keep any bystanders away in case he came back - and settling into the library's mythology section. While she had the opportunity, she wanted to see if she couldn't mark out who she was up against and what they could do.

Even with Berserker's power, she didn't exactly feel comfortable just carelessly throwing him up against someone who was carelessly throwing around Noble Phantasms.

"In that context, it's a bit of a pity that they disappeared when he did. Must've been a Command Seal, he looked just as surprised."

Berserker gave a low-voiced chuckle. "Planning to start a collection, Master?"

"Next time, definitely. I hope they stick around under normal circumstances." Takara ran a hand through her hair. "... It's not coming together. That collection is impossible. The styles are millennia off, and from every separate corner of the world."

"... Perhaps it is a Servant who ruled the world? Or rather, the world as it was known then? The mythical association could have updated. If everything in the world as it was then belonged to him, then perhaps the legend would add everything in the world since?"

Takara hummed, paging through the book a bit more. "That'd narrow it down, we can at least tentatively go with that. Rulers of the known world..."

"Alexander the Great?"

Takara shook her head. "He called his military 'Companions'. I... did not get a feeling like that off Goldie." She paused, glancing at her Servant. He actually looked a little hilarious, with his huge hands carefully holding a book. "... Roman?"

"No. Their metalworking was garbage, that armour would be impossible for them unless they stole it from the Celts."

"Well..." Takara trailed off as Berserker's head jerked to the left, staring through the wall. "... Berserker?"

"I heard-"

A shrill scream tore through the air. Focus shattering, Takara's compulsion dropped as she jerked up to her feet, books flying through the air. "Did he come back?! I thought we-"

"There is no Servant," Berserker growled, striding out to the library wall.

Takara followed, as more screams, and a pounding sound of gunfire penetrated the library's soundproofing. "Well whatever it is..."

Berserker apparently wasn't waiting for orders anymore, as he punched through the library's outer wall and stalked out.

"Hey wait, Berserker!" Takara yelped. "Are you crazy?! I can't modify memory! The Association'll kill anyone who sees you!" She darted out after him.

And then stopped, brain freezing. The sounds were no longer muffled by the soundproofing.

Screams. Gunfire. Cannons, crumbling buildings.

On the street in front of them stood a roughly four-meter tall metal humanoid figure, painted in purples and grays - a Britannian knightmare frame.

A submachine gun sized for it clutched in its hands. Pointed at-

Firing upon a woman in a housedress as she ran.

There was little left of her.

Takara's jaw shook as she looked around. The road was... fast approaching ruined already, cracks in the cement, blood everywhere, holes in buildings, arms and legs and exposed bone and-

While she was frozen, Berserker charged the knightmare with a roar.

It turned, surprise in its stance, gun raising to fire upon the large man - still dwarfed by the machine.

Hit, and hit, and hit, and hit, and-

Berserker did not care about such pitiful things. He arrived in front of the knightmare, left fist arcing out to the center of the knightmare's torso - such an enemy was not worthy of his sword.

The knightmare's chest caved in, and it flew back, slamming into a nearby grocery store, the impact crushing the cockpit compartment on its back. Blood spilled from the rents in the metal.

Berserker turned down the street, and charged again.

Takara stumbled after him. She had to stop hi... no. No she didn't.

Right now, she didn't give one whit about the Association's secrecy rules.

This had to stop.

~~~|========>

"... Master," Lancer began, fading back into existence in the face of the massacre. "I am going to kill them all. If you wish me to stop, I will demand a Command Seal in exchange for their lives."

Lelouch looked out over the bloody scene, and found it in himself to smile. "I see we're going to get along just fine, Lancer." Apparently, now it was time to see just how a Servant compared to modern warfare. He was damned well hoping Zouken wasn't overestimating it, because Lancer was the only tool he had to stop this... absolute insanity. What in hell was going on? Had Clovis just snapped, between the incident in Osaka yesterday and whatever had started up here?

The Servant offered her own smile, and then with a spring of her legs, arrowed forward, trident outstretched.

The first Sutherland - facing away from them, too busy gunning down an elderly couple to the chorus of screams - died instantly, the three points of Lancer's weapon sinking in one side of the cockpit armour and coming out the opposite end.

Its partner turned - likely alerted by the sudden scream over the radio - and probably more by reflex than any conscious decision, raised its weapon to fire on Lancer as her heeled shoes touched back to the ground.

She, for her part, raised her weapon - with the first Sutherland still impaled on it like a roast pig - and shifted it between her and the knightmare, using her first victim as a shield for the bullets, and then slamming it forward into the second. Whether it was the points of the lance or the crushing from being hit with another knightmare frame, the gunfire died off quickly.

With a smooth, beautiful gesture, Lancer's trident slipped out of the two knightmares, and she turned northward, arms outstretched, her shadow rising to brush at her thighs...

Then she frowned, and with a bare tap of her foot against the ground, between one blink and the next, returned to stand in front of him. "Lelouch, my prana supply is irregular. I can't deploy my primary Noble Phantasm." Her shadow was still moving, though it was quieting down... "I can kill them all, but not in a practical timeframe." She gestured around the shattered street, taking in both the torn and mangled bodies, and the few survivors staring at them in awe. "A lot of people will die in the time it takes. If you've got a plan, now's the time, or I'll work on one."

Lelouch frowned, looking around. Half the terms she'd just used meant nothing to him, but she was right - people were dying now, another dozen with every moment he took to ask for a definition.

... He wanted to stop this, but what in hell was he supposed to do? Even with the power to destroy any enemy in front of him, as Lancer had demonstrated, what was he supposed to do about the enemies across the city? He didn't have an... army.

Yes he did.

Right now it was an army of four people, but it was a start. His smirk returned. He had all the tools. He just needed to put them in place. He could do this. And far more beyond.

"Kokoro, thank you. Because of you... I can finally start."

The purple-haired girl blinked slowly, hand on Rivalz's shoulder - the boy was still out of it and apparently unable to really process what he was seeing, though Lelouch wasn't sure how much of that was shell shock from what they were seeing and how much was Zouken. So Kokoro had needed to... well, keep him from running into gunfire that his mind was failing to register. "What do you...?"

"Lancer, find another few targets," Lelouch commanded, voice serious. "Minimize the damage to them. I don't care what you do with the pilots, but I want the knightmares to remain intact. Cockpits at the very least, the rest is optional but preferred."

"Two coming around the corner now," Lancer reported, springing away to the next side street - a distance of nearly a hundred meters, Lelouch didn't fail to notice.

Probably coming to investigate the loss of these two, Lelouch decided.

The two purple-painted knightmares skidded around the corner on landspinners, and instantly - possibly even before they'd actually arrived - Lancer pounced, trident lowered away, right hand extended.

An instant before she hit the lead knightmare, she vanished. Like a puppet losing strings, the knightmare collapsed, and she reappeared, springing off its back to the second and vanishing again.

What was she...? Ahhhhh. Lelouch's smirk widened. Zouken had said it. She was a ghost. She'd simply rematerialized inside the cockpits. Leaving a shocked pilot to face off unarmed against someone with the strength to throw Sutherlands.

With a gesture to Kokoro, Lelouch trotted up the street towards Lancer's new position, holding up his hands to hide his face from the survivors he passed. He doubted they were paying much attention given the circumstances, but just the same, having his identity spoiled now that he was finally starting would be just too cruel.

Kokoro followed, apparently realizing what he had in mind and using the medical bag to hide Rivalz's identity as best she could. Her own was probably a lost cause, her long flowing lavender hair was not going to be hard to recognize, especially given that she lived here.

While they walked, Lelouch examined the back of his right hand. He was going to have to take to wearing gloves - he now boasted a red, glowing tattoo, three parts melding together in a shape not entirely dissimilar to a sword. Presumably, the Command Seals. Whose function he could somewhat guess at, but really needed to ask Kokoro about the details when they had the time.

Soon enough, they reached the knightmares, and Lancer looked at him. "Hijacking the enemy's communications?" For someone whose sole exposure to modern warfare had been the last five minutes, she was quick.

Lelouch waved a hand. "More 'any communications', right now, though the enemy's are good to have." He pointed back at the first set of knightmares she'd trashed. "The pilots should be wearing a metal earpiece. See if one survived your thrashing and clip it on. Set it to," he provided a radio frequency that wasn't one of the common military bands. "If the knowledge the summon gave you teaches you how - if you have any trouble, come back and I'll show you. If there's a second, bring it for Kokoro."

Lancer flashed away with the same blazing speed as before, leaving the impression of a grin.

Lelouch stepped up the rest of the way to the knightmares. "Kokoro, I don't suppose you ever learned how to use one of these?"

Kokoro stared at him. "... Um... no... you did? What do they teach Britannians...?"

Lelouch smiled. "Not usually that. I only know the basics, and I'm a bit of an anomaly." It was pretty complicated to operate, and his own training was more or less limited to using his mother's Ganymede to make pizza since he'd come to Japan - the Ashford family couldn't afford to actually run the knightmare any more than that, so he'd really had very little opportunity to get experience. Besides, however good he became - and despite his mother's incredible skills, he hadn't inherited them - he'd only be able to defeat the enemy in front of him. His own goals were far, far too ambitious to be satisfied with that.

He climbed up to the cockpit, fiddling with the hatch. In active use, Britannian knightmares were much less securely locked than when in storage - Britannian doctrine had been cavalry-focused for centuries, and they considered the risk from infantry being able to break in to be outweighed by the advantage of the pilot being able to more easily escape a trashed knightmare. Not a surprise, the pilots were always at least minimal-level nobility and damned expensive to train.

He was rewarded with the metallic smell of blood as it opened, reaching in to pull out the pilot's corpse. Woman, he idly noted, though given that her skull had been crushed like a melon, he didn't feel like evaluating much more.

Guh. She wasn't heavy, but he was hardly strong. Kokoro arrived up with him before long, and helped him heft the pilot out with a short burst of that superhuman strength. She was made of sterner stuff than he'd expected. He knew he was an anomaly, since not many people had seen their own mother's bullet-riddled corpse and then the next year been at ground-zero of an invasion, featuring ten-year-olds (him) helping haul people onto funeral pyres. He was sort of used to corpses by now. Then again, who knew what she'd dealt with from Zouken?

Before tossing the pilot's corpse out onto the street, he grabbed her earpiece, and wiped his hands off on her uniform - his piloting was going to be unspectacular enough as it was, adding in hands either sticky or slick with blood on the controls would hardly help. Ideally he wouldn't be banking much on his piloting skills, but then in an ideal world, he wouldn't really have much to do at all.

He slid into the cockpit, clipping the earpiece to his ear.

He was instantly rewarded with Lancer's light voice. "Can you hear me?"

"I can. Got it working, then?"

She flickered into view in front of the knightmare, looking up at it and tapping at the earpiece hanging on her right ear. It was somewhat awkward, having obviously been designed for a normal-shaped ear, rather than her gently pointed pair, but it stayed on. "Got another for your friend."

"Perfect, toss it in here."

The Sutherland's factsphere sensors could only detect her movement as a series of flash frames as she arced around to the still-open cockpit on the back, a perfect throw slipping it in over the cockpit seat and into Lelouch's hands - though he fumbled the catch and ended up having to duck down and get it.

While he set it to his desired channel, he idly spared a hand to flick the factsphere sensors to other modes. Lancer was... odd on thermal, the heat distribution was far too even, rather than concentrated in core points, but she definitely showed up.

"Lancer, can you go spiritual?"

He presumed she could, because the thermal picture dimmed a bit. Still evenly distributed heat, and still visible - which was unfortunate - but dimmer than in normal form. At least now he knew.

And a glance at Kokoro in the eyes of the factsphere revealed that she was running distinctly hotter than humans tended to. Probably the... 'circuits', his own body felt like he'd had boiling water poured inside it with the things on. It was far better than at first, and he was getting used to it - at this point the pain was only sharpening his mind - but clearly spellworking generated a significant amount of heat. Which was good to know for any future battles against magi, but not an issue for this one.

Lelouch tapped one of the cockpit controls, extending the seat out towards the open hatch, where Kokoro still hung on. He held out the earpiece. "Put this on, and keep Rivalz safe. I'll direct you around any troop movements - find survivors and get them to safety if you can - and ask you any 'magic' questions that come up." His voice softened. "All right?"

Kokoro nodded sharply, taking the earpiece and clipping it to her ear. "Do you have a plan? Are you going to try and make an escape route?"

Lelouch smiled. "As long as we're dreaming, let's dream big. I'm going to save us. I'm going to save this city. Then I'm going to save this country. And then I'm going to destroy Britannia." The question marks in his long-range plans were already filling in. The first goal led to the second, the second to the third, the third to the last. He had a direction; time to run.

She stared at him, wide-eyed. "... The story about your wish is going to be a long one." At his nod, she dropped from the hatch, stepping back from the knightmare and nudging Rivalz away - he was still placid and somewhat listless.

Lelouch truly hoped he recovered, because it was disturbing seeing the normally-active boy like that. If he found out the cause, he would extract the price in blood.

He tapped the controls again, drawing the seat back into the Sutherland and sealing it up, turning his gaze to the knightmare's tactical map. The city was surrounded, with dots of light representing Britannian units - knightmares, VTOLs, IFVs - moving evenly through the city on their mission of murder.

And his search was rewarded with an indicator of the G-1 mobile base from which this massacre was all being commanded, to the southeast - right on the opposite side of the river, at the very southernmost end of the city. Later target, though, he needed an army first. It was quite well-defended at the moment.

He tapped the earpiece. "Lancer, I'll be directing you to targets. Try to avoid being seen - I'd like to keep you secret. And as before, minimize the damage to the knightmares." He brought his back up to its feet, and kicked off the landspinners, skating down the streets - flipping his IFF off with an idle motion.

"Got it. Assembling weapons for your grand army?"

"Naturally." Now he just needed the army. There were rebel cells in Fuyuki, he knew that for certain - at the least there was the owner of that red Glasgow, if they were still alive. He just needed to find where the fights were - fortunately, he was listening in on the Britannian communication network, so that wasn't too hard. Win some early trust, get them equipped, get them listening to him, and he'd have an army. Still going to be smaller than what the Britannian Forces had here, but he wasn't in a position to be picky. As long as he had something to work with, he'd be satisfied.

With that, he could stop the massacre. Lancer's weakness in this battle was that she was only one - unimaginably powerful - person. Unless she had a trick she hadn't revealed, she could only be in one place at once, could only stop one enemy at once. The local rebels, though, could be in many.

He steered his used Sutherland northward, charting a course towards the nearest Britannian unit - a lone IFV. He believed in leading from the front, but he'd have to get a much better feel for his frame than he had now or he'd just die in the attempt. And this knightmare's neural network was acting sluggishly - didn't seem to like him. He was going to use the fact that he knew where it was and it didn't know where he was to backstab it, of course, and killing off the infantry-carrying units was a priority - as with Lancer, knightmares could only kill a couple people at once, an infantry squad could kill a dozen.

End goal of this push was the coastline up at the north - the units surrounding the city up there were comprised of aquatic knightmares, and if he could grab a Portman, he had an angle at the G-1, once he could reduce its guard at least.

He'd need to call up a source and see how the Britannian administration was spinning the events going on here, too. Even Britannians didn't have a taste for massacre, he couldn't imagine them telling the truth about it, but he needed details on what they were releasing. Probably best to call Shirley, or Sayoko? When he had a hand free, anyway. He wanted someone to tell Nunnally he'd be a little late back, too...

Lelouch raised the Sutherland's SMG as he approached the squat gray hybrid of a tank and an armoured personnel carrier. They spotted him coming up, but assumed he was a friendly, continuing with their business of pumping cannon shells into a Pizza Hut.

He tapped the earpiece again, speaking to Kokoro. "Let me show you how a Britannian who hates Britannia must act."

~~~|========>
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:58 am

~~~|========>

Lloyd Asplund chuckled, looking at the tactical map from the comfort of their (borrowed) knightmare transport. "They're having trouble in the south-center. This's great! Lancelot will pick up plenty of valuable data from this once the devicer arrives."

His codeveloper, Cecile Croomy, gave a long-suffering sigh. "Just don't say that in front of anyone, okay?"

He blinked, looking over at her as he stopped leaning back, letting his seat return to its upright position. "Why not?"

Saintly smile. "Shall I teach you?"

"No thanks." He leaned forward, drumming his fingers against his cheek. "So any idea what they're doing here, anyway? Was there some big terrorist uprising?"

Cecile pursed her lips. "... I don't know. They've been pretty tight-lipped. I think something top-secret was stolen and the terrorists boiled up trying to keep hold of it, but... no way to be sure."

"Mm." He watched the tactical map develop. There was resistance springing up pretty much everywhere, of course, but two main zones of concern, probably better-equipped, better-trained, or better-led groups. Both on the western side of the river, apparently the old town.

One was more southerly, actually somewhat disquietingly close to their position near the G-1 mobile headquarters - a move across the river in the center of town and they'd be facing off against Clovis's personal guard. They didn't seem to be moving with any particular purpose, though - one unit would die to them, then a chorus of screams from the next-nearest target. No apparent goal, just reducing the number as fast as they could, which was dangerous enough.

In terms of casualties, the second wasn't as bad, but there was a very clear trail of nonresponsive units arrowing northward. They were acting to a longer-term plan, and...

"Argh, this is boring!" Lloyd yelled, jumping back in his seat. "Where's the pilot?!"

"He's on his way," Cecile sounded like she was repeating hersel- oh right, she'd mentioned it four times before. "They're splitting off the pilots they're getting in from the Tokyo garrison, he should be here in... mm, an hour, half an hour?"

Lloyd folded his arms across his chest, pouting. "This Gottwald had better be able to bring out Lancelot's true potential. At this rate the operation'll be over by the time he even gets here."

"It's not like there isn't still plenty of activity in the Area," Cecile pointed out. "We came here in the first place because it's the biggest hotbed of military action in the Empire, that's not going to stop after this one operation."

"But I want to see her in action now!" He looked at her, trying for the big doe eyes effect.

Given how she backed away with a mildly nauseous expression, he must've missed. "Well I'm not going to pilot it. I'm certainly not leaving you on mission control, and my synchronization with the AI is horrible. It's a recipe for disaster."

"And from errors, we make new discoveries!" Lloyd shouted, thrusting his fist up in the air.

"Assuming we don't get our funding cut off," Cecile noted.

"Bah. Small-minded little... no taste for discovery..."

"You're the one who blew the entire development budget on the knightmare. We'd have a test pilot on staff... and a truck we didn't have to borrow... if you'd saved two percent of it."

"But look at it, Cecile!" Lloyd jumped up, dramatically waving at the... well, at the tarp that covered it. He was sort of saving the dramatic reveal for when the test pilot he'd managed to borrow off that General Whatsisname finally arrived. "She's beautiful! She's pushed development ahead another fifty years!"

"She costs as much as half a battalion."

Lloyd folded his arms and dropped back into his seat, grumbling. He swore, once this Gottwald guy arrived, he'd have him slapped into Lancelot's seat so fast he wouldn't even have time to read the manual.

And then he'd show them all what Lancelot could do!

Well, Gottwald would. But through him, so would Lloyd!

~~~|========>

Nagata Tohru was, at the moment, mostly trying to stay out of Kallen's way - which admittedly wasn't exactly easy when the only place he fit inside the knightmare (given the amount of bullets flying around outside, he preferred 'inside') was 'nestled in the girl's lap, trying to lean as far to the side and out of her field of view as possible'.

It sort of stung his pride, but 'Kallen has a freaky, freaky gift' was just one of their resistance group's known and accepted facts. She had a real talent for handling these things - they'd all been checked out on the red knightmare, but she made it come to life.

He tried to keep an eye on the screens anyway, as her arms twisted, elbowing him in precious organs as she swirled the frame under a Britannian knightmare's line of fire, rising up with a punch that tore its head off.

The auto-eject kicked in, sending the cockpit flying away to safety. Tohru's gut sort of protested at the thought of that pilot escaping after killing so many, but they didn't really have much time to act on it.

The knightmare crumpled as she disengaged, continuing past it and weaving around the next corner before the gunfire from the trio of pursuing knightmares finished them off. Tohru was pretty sure she was a better pilot, but not better enough to cover the numerical difference, and the 'more advanced enemy knightmare' difference, while their own knightmare was unarmed.

At least those three knightmares had stopped shooting at the citizens to pursue them.

Kallen tsked, spinning around and shooting down the VTOL that had poked above the buildings to track them with a slash haken before ducking around the next corner. "We're at two minutes power, Ohgi! I seriously hope you get here soon, they're going insane here!"

The response crackled, their equipment having some trouble burning through the Britannian jamming especially at that range. "... hope... don't... Only... minutes ahead... their reinforcements..."

... Crap. They were dead. And then...

The radio crackled again, a new voice coming on - clear, short-ranged. "Move west!" A powerful, rich male voice.

"Wha-"

"Use the last of your life to move west as far as you can go."

"Who the hell is this?" Tohru growled into the radio. "How'd you get this frequency?"

"That is not relevant. If you wish to live beyond the next few minutes, then you will have to trust me."

Slugs from the knightmares behind them slammed into the road just ahead, and Kallen swung the Glasgow around to the right - to the west.

"Wait, are you seriously-?"

"We die in two minutes anyway, nothing to lose!"

... Point.

They skated down the street. Not much damage and no corpses, both of which were a nice change to see. "Oi, what next?" Kallen queried into the radio.

No response.

Tohru's eyes on the viewscreen caught something up ahead that made his heart sink. It wasn't easy to see, but up on one of the roofs to the north, a purple-painted Britannian knightmare was hidden, raising its SMG and aiming towards them.

"... We're dead."

Kallen closed her eyes, agreeing. "It was a trap."

The knightmare opened fire... and missed completely. Normally they had better marksman... ship.

Tohru and Kallen caught it at the same time. The tactical display tracking the three knightmares behind them... they'd stopped.

Kallen whirled the knightmare around, and they both stared into the viewscreen.

One knightmare was riddled with bullets, mangled beyond usability. The remaining two had simply... crumpled.

The voice over the radio returned. "For trusting me, I reward you with your lives! Continue to trust me, and I will give you victory!"

Kallen turned around again, but the mysterious frame was gone.

The voice, however, continued. "Your passenger can, if he is trained, borrow one of the intact knightmares in front of you, and remember to turn off the IFF so they cannot track you. I would advise you to either take one for yourself, or at least take its energy filler. Your knightmare has been active for over two hours and is likely running quite low. Scan the following frequency for the Fuyuki Defensive Network that is being assembled." He rattled off a number, paused, and repeated it once more. "Your designations are Q-1 and Q-2. I would rather no true names over the airwaves."

They could have, and probably should have, asked further questions of him, discussed it among themselves, discussed it with Ohgi, or something.

But they had under a minute of power remaining, so first they skated up to the felled Britannian knightmares, Kallen using her own to grab and attach the energy filler from one of the apparently undamaged ones.

They both heaved sighs of relief as the power readout jumped out of the red. And traded looks at each other.

Tohru shook his head. "I'll get the other knightmare, we'll discuss on the way."

Kallen nodded. "No time to spare." She hit one of the controls, opening the red knightmare's hatch and extending the seat out the back.

Tohru scrambled down, moving over to the fallen knightmares - in particular the one that was A: not riddled with bullets, and B: still had its energy filler. It opened up easily enough, and he reeled back at the sight and smell of the inside.

... What the hell did this guy have? The knightmare was completely undamaged, but the pilot was dead in a pool of his own blood.

... Tohru had just said it himself. There wasn't much time for questions, or the Japanese residents of Fuyuki would be looking like this. Holding his breath, he reached in and pulled the corpse out, slipping into the seat.

Acclimating himself to the controls - it wasn't too different from their knightmare - he brought it up to stand, flicking the radio over to the mystery voice's 'Fuyuki Defensive Network' frequency and reaching down to turn off the IFF.

Meanwhile, Kallen was purloining the SMG from one of the other Britannian knightmares - finally they were properly armed. Though it didn't much suit her style anyway, it was still useful to have.

The frequency was most definitely active, voices all speaking in Japanese. For a moment it sounded chaotic, but as Tohru listened, he realized the mystery voice was rapidly barking out precision orders, sending other units - R-2, B-3, etcetera - to specific target points within the city.

In a moment of calm, Kallen's voice came up. "Oi... who are you?"

The man came back, calm and confident. "One who stands against Britannia. That is all I know of you, and that is all you need know of me - and that is all we can exchange on a frequency that may be monitored. Are you ready and willing to act under my command and stand victorious, knowing only that, Q-1, Q-2?"

"... Listening to you hasn't led me wrong yet," Kallen eventually answered.

"We haven't been getting anywhere not coordinating," Tohru added. Given the man's secrecy, he sort of doubted he'd admit what his 'kill the knightmare pilots without touching the knightmare' trick was, so there wasn't much point asking.

"Wondrous. Q-2, you will see that you have access to the Britannian tactical display, I'm sure." Tohru looked down instinctively, and saw it - highlights on the location of every Britannian unit in the region... oh man... "In the absence of orders, use the tactical display to locate weak targets and destroy them. Focus on infantry units and carriers, they are less capable of putting up a fight and more capable of enacting this massacre."

Tohru nodded. "Got it, I'll lead the way for... Q-1." His tongue had almost slipped.

"Good. For now, proceed southeast to the bridge."

"You want us to cross it?" Kallen queried.

"No. Whoever crosses the river will be at a disadvantage. We'll make them cross it. You are to hide your knightmares as best you can and bleed dry any units moving across the bridge from the east side of the city, or attempting to retreat to it from this side."

"Hey," Tohru had to say. "That's gonna leave us in a bad position when they realize what's going on and mass enough forces to punch through."

"Will you trust me?" A simple, short response. "My plans take longer to explain than to enact."

Tohru snorted. "With an opening like that, you'd better have something spectacular in mind." He was bought and sold. It had been his own... insane whim to change directions that had lit this off. He couldn't toss away any chance of stopping it.

He set his shiny new knightmare towards the southeast, listening to the crows of success from the local resistance groups, and the orders from the man of mystery as he led them in clearing out the west half of Fuyuki.

~~~|========>

Lelouch gunned down another team of Sutherlands from behind as he arrived at the northernmost bank of the river splitting the city in half. He absently switched to a new, fresh SMG as he eyed the tactical display.

His move had basically been made. The defenders of Fuyuki, under his command, had cleared a small zone in the center of the west side of town, and were funneling the surviving noncombatants towards it as they expanded out. Ideally he could get a perimeter to match the Britannian units surrounding the city, and units stationed at all the riverbanks, before his opponent's response came together, but that would remain to be seen.

Two anomalies in the tactical display - or rather, two sources where Britannians were dying without it being attributable to him. One in the forest to the southwest - not expanding, but any Britannian unit that entered a rough two-kilometer sphere died. Self-defensive only. The other towards the south-central section of the city, carving a swathe through the Britannian units. According to the scout he'd sent down that way, 'a big gray guy, unbelievably strong, he's smashing them with his bare-'. The scout had lost contact at that point - likely killed by whoever it was in the assumption that the individual in a Britannian knightmare was part of the massacre.

Lelouch tapped his cheek. "Lancer, Kokoro, I suspect those two are Servants as well. Your analysis?"

"Feasible," Lancer responded. "I'd have to get closer to detect for sure."

"Kokoro?"

"... Probably," she eventually answered. "The Einzbern have a manor in the forest there, and the other one isn't far east of the old Tohsaka home. They're the other two families who started the ritual at the beginning, so..."

Lelouch nodded. "All right... we'll leave them be for now. Later on they'll likely be enemies, but for now we're in agreement on the Britannians. Now, Clovis... what will your move be?"

Lelouch was rapidly depleting Clovis's forces in the west side of the city. From here, he had four options, if he planned to assert control and continue the massacre operation.

Number one, move in the perimeter troops around the west side. Lelouch sort of hoped for this, it would end up strengthening his forces, thanks to anything pushing in from the south having to fight through two Servants before they even came near him, and the overall thin spread of the perimeter units - and, of course, the extra knightmares Lancer would be able to steal for his troops. It would also clear a route for him to evacuate the civilians.

Number two, move forces from the east side across the river. As he'd noted to Q-2, that would leave their forces open to much in the way of casualties as they tried to cross, but they did have the forces to push through, if Clovis moved his personal guard units out to do it. This would be good for Lelouch - leaving his personal target vulnerable to attack - but poor for the Japanese, given the forces that would be pushing into the ghetto. He'd need to do something about that, and quickly enough that Clovis couldn't pull back while he did it.

Number three, don't bother moving forces into the west at all, focus on massacring the east and wait for reinforcements before pushing in. This would force Lelouch to move his forces across the river - it would be ugly, but they couldn't simply be left to continue killing. He'd probably send Lancer out to the eastern edge of the city to start depleting forces over there, equip and stiffen up some of the local resistance. That should force Clovis to deplete something to head out and handle it - either the massacre forces, his own personal guard, or the units he'd have securing the eastern bank of the river. Any of which opened things up for Lelouch.

Number four, get a little creative, use aircraft to paradrop knightmares and infantry into the western part of town. It would open them up to grievous casualties on the way down, but Britannia had the forces to afford it. Fortunately, Lelouch hadn't seen any heavy carrier aircraft in the area or on the IFF, so for now at least it was unavailable to Clovis.

Whatever Clovis chose, Lelouch had a mere half hour to maneuver around and push him to checkmate. After that, the Tokyo garrison units Clovis had brought with him - that terrifyingly large blob of colour on the southern edge of the tactical display - would arrive, and he would have the numbers to simply overwhelm whatever Lelouch could do.

Unfortunately, the Britannian Forces were... outright better. The resistance had barely more, or less, training than he did, except for their 'main pilots' like Q-1. He needed to micromanage them if they were going to manage against the Britannians, the Q group was the only one that could maybe manage on its own even with access to the tactical display, and even he wouldn't be able to run the entire battle at once.

The units on the tactical display began moving. Small initial probe on the bridge. He switched frequencies. "Q-1, Q-2, you have incoming. Prepare to intercept."

At their acknowledgements, he began moving further north, calling Lancer. "We're going to need to hurry now, he'll be making his move soon. Head up to the northern sea if you can, and get a Portman."

He was forced to stare in awe as she faded into visibility next to his knightmare, darting northward, step so light, so fast that she simply skipped over the water without sinking. Servants really were something. That feat was achievable, by the basilisk - the lizard, not the mythological one, he suspected he might need to make such clarifications in this context - but it was utterly unbelievable to see from a human... humanoid anyway. And even a basilisk could only manage five meters, Lancer was already a kilometer out.

He shook himself, watching the display. "You're right over one now, Lancer."

She instantly halted, and sunk beneath the waves.

It was approximately ten seconds before her voice came over the radio once more. "All right, got it. Taking it southward."

Lelouch blinked. "You know how to operate it?"

"The Grail updates their skills for the era they're summoned in," Kokoro provided. "She must have an affinity..."

"I could also have been summoned as Rider," Lancer agreed, as her Portman's IFF flicked off.

Before too long - though Lancer had taken less time to get out there - the dark aquamarine, tightly streamlined aquatic knightmare stood on the shoreline in front of Lelouch's. The hatch opened from inside, and a bloody body was hurled out, before Lancer flickered to a halt in front of his own.

Lelouch smiled. He didn't even need to explain his plans to her, eh? He hit the egress switch on his own knightmare, the seat sliding out the back. He clambered down, pausing to catch his breath, before moving towards the Portman.

Lancer stopped him with a light press of her fingers against his shoulder. "Modification to the plan, Lelouch. You can move ahead to hit the command unit."

Lelouch raised an eyebrow.

"My prana situation has stabilized - I've been draining the soldiers while I was working. Not enough for full deployment, but I can destroy the bridge now, you don't need to use the Portman for it."

"I really am going to need to find out what you're talking about at some point. ... All right, it's in your hands." Lelouch would rather do it himself, but he was already trusting Lancer this much, and if she really could do it, then he'd be able to cut out Clovis's escape window.

Lancer tapped the back of her fist against his. "I'll give the details when we have the time and the privacy. And once I've covered the bridge I'll catch up with you. I've got an idea I'll cover later."

Lelouch raised an eyebrow, but moved on to the Portman. She was right, they didn't have time to spare.

... This was surprisingly tiring. But he needed to push ahead. Victory was a step away, and quite a number of lives, his included, were bet on it.

~~~|========>

Clovis watched the tactical map from his throne, frowning. A simple coverup and retrieval was turning very, very ugly. Bartley's earlier analysis - a crude resistance, but their advantage remaining overwhelming - was already being proven wrong as the forces in the city's west fell apart. "They can't possibly be this well equipped..."

'Lost' messages began springing up on the units sent across the bridge. "Pull them back!" Bartley ordered. "They must be listening in on our communications, change the frequencies!"

"This is the fifth time!"

Clovis gritted his teeth and shot up to his feet. "What is going on out there?!"

Bartley shifted back slightly to acknowledge Clovis, though not tearing his gaze away from the tactical map. "My... my apologies, Your Highness!"

A screen sprang up on the front window - that pale-haired, glasses-wearing researcher under his older brother's command. "Hiya everyone!"

Bartley looked up, growling. "What the hell do you want? We're in the middle of an operation!"

"I've been looking at the display, isn't it time to deploy the Camelot Special Research Division's weapon? All we need is a pilot..." He half-sang that last bit.

Clovis stalked forward, towards the tactical map. "This is not the time for an untested prototype!" More 'Lost' markers continued to spawn in the west. "Move Lazlo's unit in," Clovis commanded.

Bartley turned to him. "... Your Highness, that will break the perimeter..."

"Move this G-1's guard force southward, have them cross the river where it is safe and move up to keep the gap filled." Clovis was over-defended right now anyway. Didn't have the units to spare. "And gather what we have in the eastern half of the city and prepare them to make a push on the bridge!"

Lazlo was one of the southerly perimeter units. Most importantly, it was on the west side of the river. If he could have them blaze by that south-central death zone and attack whatever was holding the bridge from the same side of the river, in conjunction with a strong push from the forces in the east, and they could break into the west and pick apart the resistance.

Clovis carefully watched the tactical screen and... gave a sigh of relief as Lazlo's unit pushed north of the area where units kept dying. "Okay! Move them in! Break through into the west!" Clovis grinned, watching as the units poured onto the bridge.

They had it. They were going to win. Crush this resistance, and return to burning the city in search of Code R's samp-

Clovis paused, frowning. "... Why haven't they engaged?" Lazlo was pretty much there, and the main force was almost across the bridge... "They're not there?!" His eyes widened, and he laughed. "Push through! They ran alrea-"

This was around when every unit on the bridge was simultaneously marked 'Lost'.

Clovis choked, eyes widening. "Wha..."

One of the VTOLs reported in. "The bridge... the bridge just collapsed! I can't tell if there were any survi-!" The display tagged the VTOL as lost.

That... that wasn't fair... his enemy didn't even bother to engage... Clovis backed away from the map, as if to escape his opponent. This was worse than the records he'd seen of Itsukushima... could this be Toudou? Or someone even worse...?

He took a breath, composing himself. Keeping himself hidden had always been his specialty. "All units pull back to the perimeter and hold it until reinforcements arrive." He glanced up at the comm screen. "Lloyd."

"Yyyyyyeeeeeeeees?"

"Can your toy do it?"

Lloyd, for just a moment, looked serious. Like the Earl he was. "Your Highness, that is not in question. Please, call it Lancelot."

Clovis nodded. "Fine. We'll wait until the reinforcements arrive, give you your pilot, and then make our move. We'll give your Lancelot a whirl." He looked around. "... Best to pull back the G-1, as we-"

This enemy really wouldn't let him finish a sentence, would he?

Out of the river, in the middle of his orders, a blue-green Portman leapt. It looked like a Britannian unit. It should have been a Britannian unit. But they didn't have any Portmans down this far south.

Well, that and the fact that it was coming out assisted by slash hakens reeling in, latched onto one of the two guard Sutherlands still remaining near the G-1.

As it hit the ground, landspinners extending, it accelerated the rest of the way towards the stumbling and heavily damaged unit, reaching out with its sharp-bladed manipulator 'hands' and piercing into the cockpit, pushing the Sutherland in front of itself as a shield and retracting the slash hakens.

The other Sutherland froze in surprise for a moment, which was all the Portman needed to fire the slash hakens at it. The bladed hooks slashed into its limbs, forcing an automatic ejection.

Clovis shook himself. "Fire!"

The G-1 didn't have much in the way of armament, but its cannon shifted, aiming at the Portman and unleashing a series of slugs. The Portman kept its Sutherland shield up as it skated closer, and then hurled the Sutherland at the command vehicle - crushing the cannon, as well as a fair portion of the front of the command deck.

As the Sutherland slammed into the windows... and about half of his command staff, Clovis raised his arms, peppered in shards of glass. ... At least he was far enough back to remain mostly uninjured...

His gorge rose as he took in the crushed bodies of the unlucky half of his command staff, faintly watching out the holes in the window as the Portman shifted towards the Camelot unit's transport. ... Of course it was attacking them, that knightmare transport's cargo was the last weapon capable of earning a knightmare's notice in the area.

It didn't seem to actively want to kill anyone, as once Lloyd - dragged bodily by his assistant - came outside the transport and away from it, the Portman stopped its attack, moving to examine the transport itself.

... Oh. Of course. The Portman had to be stolen, so naturally, if it saw an unpiloted knightmare, its first thought wouldn't be to destroy it, but to add it to the rebel forces. ... He lost this too, Schneizel was going to kill him...

"Your Highness!" Bartley yelled, hands on his shoulders and shaking. "We need to get you out of here! While they're distracted!"

"That's not going to happen," a female voice pointed out.

Bartley gurgled, blood welling up in his mouth.

... Ah. That made sense. He had three sharp points sticking out of the center of his chest. A trident, in the hands of a young girl, a...

Clovis stared into her red eyes. It was broad daylight, yet she was barely visible in the shadows... She was wrong. She was wrong. To look at her she looked mostly normal, pretty cute really, with dark hair and plain, understated clothing, but it felt wrong, like there were hissing snakes to her left, angled blades to her right, like her limbs were bent in ways only a spider should be bent, like she held a black trident with a grain like wood embedded through his general... wait, that was actually there.

"I refuse to accept that Britannia has become this," she whispered, twisting the trident - carving a massive, completely unsurvivable hole in Bartley's chest - before slipping it out.

Bartley collapsed at Clovis's feet. "I'm... sorry... Your..."

In the time it took him to breathe out his last words, the command deck had become a bloodbath as the girl with the trident danced through. It was beautiful to watch, but...

Clovis backed away, shaking his head. Blood leaked from his left hand, but it didn't hurt... all his other wounds did though, and this wasn't possible, how could he die like this after surviving Britannia...?

The trident rose to point at him, dripping the blood of his advisors. "Hold there, you disgrace, or I really will kill you where you stand." She spat on the floor. "It seems Britannia is a land of murderers and cowards now. She has not aged well. What happened to the great ally of the oppressed?"

Clovis would probably feel rather insulted, but the whole 'mortal terror' thing somewhat outweighed that. He breathed slowly, staying in place and trying to calm himself. He could do this. They weren't killing him, he could talk his way out of this. If he could just get back in working order...

He watched as the Portman, presumably having secured the knightmare transport, made its way back to the G-1, raising the cockpit to the hole the thrown Sutherland had torn in the window. The pilot's seat slid out the back.

The girl glanced at his bleeding left hand, and an eyebrow rose. "Hm. He's in the running. Though he hasn't called yet, until he does he's not official. Just the same, I cannot say much for the Grail's tastes, Master."

A rich male voice spoke from the Portman. "Go ahead and use my name, Lancer. He already knows it."

From the Portman's cockpit, a young man stepped down onto the command deck. Dressed in a Britannian school uniform of all things, though covered in blood and rather rumpled by the day. With a face that...

Clovis stared, eyes-wide. That dark hair, those sharp, narrow features, those violet eyes...

The boy stepped closer, pausing at one of the dead advisors to pick up the heavy pistol that was the standard Britannian sidearm. With the care Clovis would expect of that face, the boy was already wearing a glove, though only over his right - pistol-wielding - hand. "It's been a long time, big brother."

Clovis swallowed. That was... it couldn't be...

"I did say I would give my full name to you, Lancer, and now seems an opportune time." He shifted slightly to face the younger girl. "Eldest son of the late Empress Marianne, and 17th in line to the Imperial Throne." His left arm came up across his chest, and he descended to kneel before her on one leg. His courtly grace hadn't faded in the past eight years. "Lelouch vi Britannia, at your service."

The girl's eyebrow rose higher.

Clovis shook his head. "L... Lelouch?! But... but I thought-!"

"That I was dead?"

Under his smile, Clovis could say nothing.

"I have returned, Your Highness. For the sake of changing everything." He elegantly rose.

The girl - Lancer, hadn't Lelouch called her? - stepped back, trident lowering, her own twisted smile mirroring Lelouch's. "And now I see why I answered your call..."

Clovis shook himself. "I... I'm so glad to see you're alive, Lelouch!" Dammit! He couldn't get that note of terror out of his voice because he was going to die. He wasn't lying, Lelouch had been his closest friend, but because of that he still sounded like it... "I... I heard you had died in the invasion..." ... It made sense. Lelouch would have encouraged that impression. He knew as well as Clovis that Britannia was a pit of vipers, and keeping himself and his sister out of it... "S... such good news that you're alive! Why don't you come back to the homeland with me?" ... Damn his running mouth, had he just said that?

Lelouch's eyebrow rose. As did his pistol. "You intend to use us as pawns again? Don't forget what caused it - and the greatly exaggerated reports of my death - in the first place."

Clovis winced.

"Correct. Mother was not popular, having originally been a commoner. I see why the remainder of the imperial family would wish to protect their positions. But even so... it was far too cruel to murder her right in front of her daughter's eyes."

He thought... he couldn't... "It wasn't me! I swear, it wasn't!"

"Then tell me what you know."

Clovis shook his head. "S... Schneizel and Cornelia! They know! They have to!"

"They planned it?"

"I... I don't know!"

Lelouch sighed. "That's all?"

"I could bleed him a little, see if he changes his story any," Lancer offered.

"Mm... no. I trust his words. However..." He stepped closer.

"N-no, please don't! I'm your brother!" Clovis brought up his arms to protect his face.

"Which is exactly why. You're my responsibility. And what happened here today... hundreds of people murdered... is not acceptable. I'm sorry - you were a good brother, but an evil man. Perhaps the Grail will choose better for your replacement." His finger slowly curled around the trigger on those incomprehensible words.

Clovis swallowed. But they were just Elevens! He wanted to scream. The people who had kille-! ... Oh. Right. He didn't look very killed.

His life was spared, as an overwhelming force slammed into the G-1, toppling it onto its side. A loud, enraged yell sounded.

He and Lelouch fell sideways, towards the command deck's right window. Lancer didn't seem to care, other than a short, nonsensical yell of "Servant!", kicking off the wall, catching Lelouch bridal-style, and carrying him to lightly land on the new floor - before unceremoniously dumping him and flickering out.

Clovis, for his part, landed much less gently, right on his outstretched arm, legs slamming into the glass and breaking through, eyes widening as the ragged edges of the glass slashed into him. It was... cold, he noted. Probably the loss of blood...

Oh yeah. Loss of blood. Wow... that was... a lot... He'd really have to get to a hospital soon...

His right arm was broken, so he weakly reached out to Lelouch with his left. "Brother... I'm... sorry... I'd have ordered them not to kill you if I knew..."

Lelouch slowly shook himself, probably regaining his bearings and once more turning that formidable mind to analysis.

Lancer reappeared, looking bemused. "We got lucky, Master."

Lelouch blinked, looking up at her. "What the hell just happened?"

"Our grey friend from the south - probably Berserker - smashed into it. We only engaged for a second or so, but he must have been running low on prana, he backed out. As I understand, Berserkers tend to run through it faster, considering how long he was going all-out on the disgraces, he might have even started endangering his Master. Still sane enough to withdraw, though." She waved her left hand - right still holding the trident. "I didn't pursue, I'm not much better off in prana and he was an ally today."

Lelouch nodded. "I don't disagree." He exhaled slowly, looking over Clovis. "The way you are now... you know what Father will do, don't you?"

Clovis nodded mutely. Or he tried to. His neck wasn't moving.

"I suppose this may be a mercy." He raised the pistol once more.

Tears sprang to Clovis's eyes. "I... I... I don't want to die..."

Lelouch remained unmoved. "You would not be the first to say those words today."

There was a crack as the pistol sounded. Clovis didn't feel anything... had he missed...?

"... You would not be the first to have them go unanswered. But, for today at least, you will be the last." Lelouch stepped forward, dropping the sidearm and embracing his brother. "The only ones who should kill are those who are prepared to die. I hope you were, brother."

... Oh. Guess he hadn't missed. Now that Lelouch was brushing it, he could feel the hole in his...

~~~|========>

Wise Up - Knightmare Frame

Ah, yes, I suppose you would be asking about those. They are rather attention-getting, aren't they?

A knightmare frame is a four-to-five meter tall - usually, there are a handful of outlying exceptions - humanoid weapon system, usually weighing less than ten metric tons. In your own timeline, the closest comparisons are fictional.

On most models of this period, you'll see a thin, elongated head up at the top, with a rounded front. The back of that carries the usual communications equipment and quite a load of ECM, while the front is an armour plate over what is designated a factsphere. A factsphere is essentially a thermal/visual camera - I believe technically similar to your own timeline's FLIR, IRST, OLS and such - that is capable of quite a bit of sensor work. The armour over the front does degrade system sensitivity, though, and so the armour can be flipped away. Be warned, while a high-speed Servant is too fast to be tracked by an armoured current-generation factsphere, if they've engaged high-sensitivity mode, they can track. A similar system is used by infantry.

There's nothing strictly relevant to controlling the knightmare in the head, but given the usual expected longevity of a blinded unit, sufficient damage to the head triggers the auto-eject. Of course, you might be advised to be careful, because the pilot can override the auto-eject and some are crazy enough to fight on. I believe you know a few that fit that bill.

Usually around the shoulders you'll see a pair of slash hakens. This is essentially a somewhat large projectile fired by an electromagnetic acceleration rail, attached to a long cable. As the 'slash' part of the name implies, the forward edge is sharpened, and can deal quite a bit of damage. Despite the utility as a projectile, though, the primary purpose is mobility. If embedded within an object, the slash haken can be reeled in, functioning as a grappling hook. Additionally, the projectile, being rather heavy and with a fair level of momentum, can add a slight amount of thrust to a knightmare - for an extremely agile highly modern one, it combined with a leap can make it look like the thing is pole-vaulting off a flexible cable, which is somewhat disquieting to try to analyze.

Next down is the cockpit - a rather large block that hangs off the back like a hiking pack. This consists of the all-important ejection system, a trio of panoramic display monitors, control joysticks and foot pedals...

Heh. 'How can you make a mecha dance with joysticks and pedals?' Very good question. The answer is, they are reins. This timeline's computer technology is, don't forget, quite a bit better than yours. We figured out learning computers - neural networks, we call them - quite a bit earlier. 'Artificial intelligence' is not inaccurate, but they're hardly a super-genius robotic overlord bent on world domination as in your side's fiction - the intellect is no better than, and likely behind, that of a dog. Or, for the more appropriate analogy, a horse. The knightmare's own intelligence handles the fine details of the maneuvers - the pilot's input is for broader commands.

One wouldn't think they could do the wild and free maneuvers they do even with those controls, but the addition of an intelligence, however crude, changes things quite notably - you could see with an equestrian show, or an ancient knight.

The ancient knight and his steed is, in fact, the best analogy - there is a reason Britannia called them 'a knight's mare' when they invented them.

Britannia has had a long cavalry tradition since its inception. Two thousand years ago, the principal mode of British warfare involved nobility on chariots - Julius Caesar made much of them in his writings. Following the formation of Britannia, they started patterning their military off the only enemy to hand Rome defeats - Parthia, which wielded a mighty army of horse archers and heavily armed, chivalrous mounted knights.

As warfare advanced, the knight's steeds changed. Fighter aircraft, at first, though for us that was a short development - our timeline may have mastered the computer, but we did not master the jet engine, and in the end piston-engined planes were rather flimsy as warfare developed. And presently, the knightmare.

~~~|========>

Author's Notes:
First thing's first - thanks go out to prereaders - the list being Sunshine Temple, DCG, Ellf, and Belgarion213.
Yes, Lelouch is now hitched up. Technically, though neither party really feels it. It's sort of a requirement - Kiritsugu had to marry into the Einzberns before he was eligible for their slot. I guess the Grail figures you have to be part of the family to fight for the family. Of course, non-founder slots have no such restriction, but there was no guarantee of getting one (though OOCly, if Lelouch hung out in Fuyuki for long enough he probably would).
As always, reviews, comments, corrections, and etcetera are appreciated whether for good or ill, and my email's always open (PaleWLF @ gmail com).
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby OSMQEP » Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:15 pm

I haven't the time/computer access to do enough to hope to be comprehensive, but I've got to say that I like this. I usually have a limited interest in CG, but this version at least is drawing me in.

I find myself shipping Kokoro and Lelouch, and hoping for an outcome that is not too vile, although at this point I'd kind of would like to see a WAFF happy end for them.

Lesse, Kirigitsu cognate also seems to be, with his wife, a partial cognate for the couple who summoned Lancer in the canon 4th.

It'll also be interesting to see what Rider and Saber, classes with actual Riding, can do in a mecha series. It might be fun to see if anyone of them get summoned with extremely high Riding.

I may be nearing a change on the whole 'real life eating my brain' thing, but I won't know until it happens. For now, I still enjoy 'The Shadow on the Other Side of the Mirror' and 'Art of Love; Art of Death', and have regrets about the commentary I have not yet organized, written and posted here.

A question about the local etiquette: For a thread which has been inactive in C&C for a very long time, is it better to post C&C when it has been assembled, or to wait for the originating author to add new material or start a new thread? If the former, I expect that it would be a bad thing do it with very many threads at the same time?

Is it worth hoping you have more material for this, which you can post soon?

The title of chapter two is giving me flashbacks to a Pokemon theme song. (Yes, in the FoxKids/4Kids line of english dubs, which I enjoyed for the most part.) A funny thing is that Lelouch can be considered as being on both a Master Quest and a Martyr Quest.
-Real Life has eaten my brain, but I shall return.
OSMQEP
Senshi Cadet
Posts: 65
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:53 pm

Obligatory: YES! A Fukufics response! (Sorry, three chapters posted and no response was kinda painful)

I haven't the time/computer access to do enough to hope to be comprehensive, but I've got to say that I like this. I usually have a limited interest in CG, but this version at least is drawing me in.


Thanks, that's always nice to hear.

I find myself shipping Kokoro and Lelouch, and hoping for an outcome that is not too vile, although at this point I'd kind of would like to see a WAFF happy end for them.


I will say that while I sometimes have ideas, I rarely preplan pairings. Mostly I just put characters in the same sphere and see how they interact. So I have no specific objectives with their relationship, or any other involving Lelouch, and am mostly just seeing where it's gonna go. Whatever happens, I'll be as surprised as you.

If things go canonwise, nasty end is likely (given Lelouch's death and Kokoro's 'being a Matou'), but this is jacking pretty far from canon... There's still a lot of things that could go wrong, though.

Lesse, Kirigitsu cognate also seems to be, with his wife, a partial cognate for the couple who summoned Lancer in the canon 4th.


Mm, possibly. At least in the 'husband-wife team that doesn't entirely get along either with each other or their Servant' sense.

It'll also be interesting to see what Rider and Saber, classes with actual Riding, can do in a mecha series. It might be fun to see if anyone of them get summoned with extremely high Riding.


Quite a fair bit. Though Lancer (not a class skill, but a personal) and Saber can go ace-level, they tend to be about as effective outside a mech.

I may be nearing a change on the whole 'real life eating my brain' thing, but I won't know until it happens. For now, I still enjoy 'The Shadow on the Other Side of the Mirror' and 'Art of Love; Art of Death', and have regrets about the commentary I have not yet organized, written and posted here.


*Looks at zero responses on the latest chapter of Shadow* ... I have regrets about it too.

I will note those are still in production, but my muse is a flighty bitch with a whip.

A question about the local etiquette: For a thread which has been inactive in C&C for a very long time, is it better to post C&C when it has been assembled, or to wait for the originating author to add new material or start a new thread? If the former, I expect that it would be a bad thing do it with very many threads at the same time?


Well, readers tend not to appreciate bump necroposts - they tend to think 'oh sweet, upda... dammit you bastard, I thought there was an update!'. That said, the writer is always going to be pleased to get good new C&C. (Especially if you're talking about mine and the complete lack thereof... I'm getting it elsewhere, but it is kinda painful to be without on my favourite forum)

Is it worth hoping you have more material for this, which you can post soon?


For this, I'm working on Ch 3, though my free time's gonna dive back to its regular levels next week. Nothing postable immediately, but then I blazed out each of these chapters from zero in about two to three days apiece, so I might be posting soon, no way to tell just yet. My writing is very stop and go. When it stops, not much is gonna happen for a while, and then it starts going and I write so hard I forget to eat (during this period I had two days living on cake, and one day on nothing, as my supply of 'instant' food ran out and I didn't want to pause to cook...).

he title of chapter two is giving me flashbacks to a Pokemon theme song. (Yes, in the FoxKids/4Kids line of english dubs, which I enjoyed for the most part.) A funny thing is that Lelouch can be considered as being on both a Master Quest and a Martyr Quest.


Yes, that was... uh, semi-intentional. I figured it was an appropriate title for the chapter where Lelouch becomes a Master and another prospective dies... That and my sense of humour is basically 'make a crack completely straight-faced and see if anyone gets it' (like Lelouch's 'Step One, Step Two, ?????, Profit!' plans).
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Knight of L-sama » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:46 pm

Pale Wolf wrote:Obligatory: YES! A Fukufics response! (Sorry, three chapters posted and no response was kinda painful)


Hey, I didn't really have anything to comment on until the most recent chapter.

I'm assuming that Assassin is Gilgamesh (and won't it be fun when he and Lelouch clash egos) and that Berserker is Heracles sans Mad Enhancement. My main question at this point is are we supposed to know who Lancer is? Because I don't. I have a guess but I'm not entirely certain.
SPOILER - Show Spoiler
Is it Boudica, also known as Boadicea thanks to a medieval spelling error.


I'm also guessing with Clovis that was a not so subtle foreshadowing that one or more members of Lelouch's family is going to be Master for Rider, Archer, Saber or Caster.
If your spirit has wings to travel, even across the breadth of a thousand, million nights, imagination will guide the way and the gates of El-Hazard will always be open to you.
Knight of L-sama
User avatar
Chibi Sailor Senshi
Posts: 379
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:15 pm

I'm assuming that Assassin is Gilgamesh (and won't it be fun when he and Lelouch clash egos)


Yes, yes it will. Goldie doesn't get along with anyone. Except Tokiomi, though Tokiomi's mother wants to punch him in the face.

and that Berserker is Heracles sans Mad Enhancement.


Ah, no, Berserker is a demicanonical Servant Gen Urobuchi wrote up for Fate/Apocrypha, which got cancelled. Grayish skin is sort of an unfortunate similarity in descriptions, which I'd have liked to avoid, but this particular guy fits the setting very well.

My main question at this point is are we supposed to know who Lancer is? Because I don't. I have a guess but I'm not entirely certain.


It's not requisite, though it is guessable. Lancer isn't actually a historical figure in our timeline, but is in the Code Geass timeline.

I'm also guessing with Clovis that was a not so subtle foreshadowing that one or more members of Lelouch's family is going to be Master for Rider, Archer, Saber or Caster.


*Sweatdrops, looking at the Master list* Yeah, depending on how tightly you define 'family'.
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby OSMQEP » Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:39 pm

>Whatever happens, I'll be as surprised as you.

Really, I'm more concerned about the welfare of any offspring than anything else. If there were such a thing as tragic childhood genes, that marriage would be illegal in some jurisdictions.

>Mm, possibly. At least in the 'husband-wife team that doesn't entirely get along either
>with each other or their Servant' sense.

I was under the impression that they were using a similar Servant/prana
splitting/sharing exploit.

>Yes, yes it will. Goldie doesn't get along with anyone. Except Tokiomi, though
>Tokiomi's mother wants to punch him in the face.

Takara probably can't be Tokiomi's mother yet. That said, these lines of thought are
making me wonder about the effects on a magus lineage of breeding in Servant blood, in
conditions where it is possible.

>It's not requisite, though it is guessable. Lancer isn't actually a historical figure
>in our timeline, but is in the Code Geass timeline.


This guy at:
http://drunkardswalkforums.yuku.com/top ... ers?page=4
is saying Scathach.

>*Sweatdrops, looking at the Master list* Yeah, depending on how tightly you define
>'family'.

At it's narrowest, only the sister, so maybe no. At its broadest, all of humanity, so
yes.
-Real Life has eaten my brain, but I shall return.
OSMQEP
Senshi Cadet
Posts: 65
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Knight of L-sama » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:10 am

Pale Wolf wrote:Ah, no, Berserker is a demicanonical Servant Gen Urobuchi wrote up for Fate/Apocrypha, which got cancelled. Grayish skin is sort of an unfortunate similarity in descriptions, which I'd have liked to avoid, but this particular guy fits the setting very well.


Just double checked the list and there's only on Servant on it that meets those criteria, to which I have but one thing to say. No, I'm Spartacus.

Pale Wolf wrote:*Sweatdrops, looking at the Master list* Yeah, depending on how tightly you define 'family'.


Father, sibling, half-siblings, Chuck's other wives and the demon Shota (aka VV).

Though I suddenly got the image of Odysseus as a Master but effectively being a puppet for someone like Schneizel. The image of Odysseus as any sort of master though left me uncertain whether to laugh or weep.
If your spirit has wings to travel, even across the breadth of a thousand, million nights, imagination will guide the way and the gates of El-Hazard will always be open to you.
Knight of L-sama
User avatar
Chibi Sailor Senshi
Posts: 379
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:03 am

OSMQEP wrote:Really, I'm more concerned about the welfare of any offspring than anything else. If there were such a thing as tragic childhood genes, that marriage would be illegal in some jurisdictions.


Yes, yes it would. Though fortunately, most of that tragedy was situational, and Lelouch has always been all about breaking the bad situation...

I was under the impression that they were using a similar Servant/prana
splitting/sharing exploit.


Ah, true. Though I seem to recall Kiritsugu and Irisviel were doing similarly? (It'd certainly make sense, given the homunculus massive prana reserves...)

Takara probably can't be Tokiomi's mother yet.


Yeah, the girl who would become his mother in 35 years :P

That said, these lines of thought are
making me wonder about the effects on a magus lineage of breeding in Servant blood, in
conditions where it is possible.


I wondered about that too.

... Mostly it depends on just how humanlike the materialized Servants are. And obviously, the human side of the equation has to be female, because the Servant generally won't stick around long enough to even start showing, let alone give birth.

This guy at:
http://drunkardswalkforums.yuku.com/top ... ers?page=4
is saying Scathach.


It's a good guess, Scathach was from the region that would be Britannia (Scotland), and certainly trained a damn good spear-user.

That said, I'll state again that this Lancer is historical to CGverse, not our verse (though there is a symbolic representation that she's patterned similarly to). And Scathach was apparently described by Cuchulainn (in Hollow Ataraxia? I don't have the source, just reference lines on the wiki and the old Fuyuki site, but that seems likely) as 'a scarier (somehow) version of Tohsaka Rin'.

At it's narrowest, only the sister, so maybe no. At its broadest, all of humanity, so
yes.


Not that broad, would you consider someone sometimes possessed by your sister to be your sister, or no? (Okay, that probably gave it away...)

Knight of L-Sama wrote:Just double checked the list and there's only on Servant on it that meets those criteria, to which I have but one thing to say. No, I'm Spartacus.


No, he is :P

Father, sibling, half-siblings, Chuck's other wives and the demon Shota (aka VV).

Though I suddenly got the image of Odysseus as a Master but effectively being a puppet for someone like Schneizel. The image of Odysseus as any sort of master though left me uncertain whether to laugh or weep.


Heheh. Yeah, Odysseus as a Master would be... something like Clovis as a Master.

I'm remembering that Code Geass alignment chart now. Manly Useless!
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:24 pm

Disclaimer: No copyright is mine, thus no copyrighted character is. If you recognize them from something that's not written by 'Pale Wolf', I have no legal claim to them.

Code Geass: The War Of Kings

By Pale Wolf

Chapter Three

Marching Ever Onward To Tomorrow

~~~I========>

"Wait, I'm supposed to change my last name to what?!" Kokoro yelped, staring across the truck's passenger cabin at Lelouch. Lelouch... "vi Britannia?!"

Lelouch cleared his throat, averting his eyes to the manual he was reading. "The 'vi' is a personal article. You would probably get your own."

"Lelouch..." It was sort of obvious that he was avoiding the point.

He turned his violet gaze back to her, pointing out "You already knew it was going to be a long story."

... Well. To be fair, he was telling her at the very first opportunity that had arisen. This was basically the first quiet moment they'd had since he'd arrived at her house - Lelouch had maneuvered the terrorists to blow a gap in the city's encirclement and open the way for the citizens to evacuate, picking up Kokoro and Rivalz in this new truck - knightmare transport, driven by Lancer - he'd picked up somewhere along the line. Kokoro hadn't gotten around to asking how, and why he'd picked a vehicle that stood out like this, because the first thing he'd done after they settled in was tell her his full name.

After a bit of silence, he continued. "That said, I am currently living under the name 'Lelouch Lamperouge'. If I - or my sister, Nunnally - were to be found by the rebel groups, we would probably become hostages. And if Britannia were to find us... well, more or less the same. Our present usability to Britannia is that we look like we'd be hostages that the Emperor values and considers a check on his behaviour, but he doesn't actually care. We were used the same way in the leadup to the Japan invasion - keep the Japanese calm, send hostages as an assurance of Britannia's goodwill... then invade anyway. It was our good fortune that Prime Minister Kururugi was kind enough not to execute us, because he did have cause. And the invasion helped me falsify our deaths."

Kokoro frowned. "Wait... aren't you a prince? And a princess? They're just throwing their own royalty away?"

Lelouch held up a finger. "Seventeenth Prince, at least at the last update. My father has one hundred and seven - formerly one hundred and eight, prior to my mother's assassination - wives, and a commensurate amount of children. I've had one conversation with the man in my life, during which he disowned me. Britannia is not a place of warmth, Kokoro. Or at least, the royal court is not." He chuckled slightly. Without humour. "Admittedly, I prompted that disownment. My nine year old self was a little too honest with his emotions. I've since learned not to go yelling about matters - simply resolving them. Such lessons are what Britannia does best. Britannia has no use for weakness. Or excuses."

Kokoro leaned back in her seat, not entirely sure how to respond. Though it was a little comforting to know she wasn't the only one with a deadly childhood. "I'm... sorry..." Even so, she wouldn't want to talk about hers. She doubted he enjoyed this either.

Lelouch waved a hand. "You needn't worry about it. We all have our circumstances. Mine are what led me to this point - to you. You paid in dignity and freedom to bring my wish closer to fruition. The least I can do in return is explain what I wish and why I wish for it."

Kokoro's hand covered her mouth as she gave a choked laugh. Dignity and freedom? Not much to lose there... "Don't worry... I didn't mind..."

"I did." Flatly stated, with just a hint of his voice's true depth. "A woman about to marry should not look like she is holding back tears. I regret that my wish brought that upon you."

He paused for a long time, searching for words.

"... With a way forward so close, just within my grasp, I could not turn back. I would not have chosen differently." He stood, slowly, elegantly. "But just the same, I apologize. I put my own desires ahead of yours. I seem to be a poor husband already." He bowed - deep, Japanese-style, but his own grace put a strange beauty into the gesture.

Kokoro flushed, staring at Lelouch. "I... uh..." Her body slowly heated up... no, not now... "... it's..."

"Sorry to cut this off!" Lancer yelled from the driving cabin of the truck. "Map shows Britannian reinforcements arriving back at Fuyuki. They're angling after the refugee and rebel groupings."

Lelouch tsked, standing. "I apologize, Kokoro, for... cutting short my apology to you," he sort of trailed off, probably realizing the silliness inherent in the statement. "I'll need to lure their reinforcements away."

Kokoro nodded shortly. "Uh... can I help with anything...?"

Lelouch glanced around the passenger cabin, eyes roving over the still-catatonic Rivalz, a video camera on one of the seats, a few other scattered pieces of equipment... "I was hoping the old craftsman would finish that costume I ordered before I had to go out into public, but... Kokoro, can you change my clothing, or put up an illusion or something of the sort? I need 'unimaginably flashy' and something that hides my face. And then for you to hold the camera. I'd hoped to do this on live television, but I suppose I'll have to settle for distributing the video."

"Um, yes, I can do alteration... it doesn't take much power. It's not going to be permanent, though. And for hiding your face, I don't think I can do anything you can see through too quickly enough."

"That's fine, I don't need quality or durability at the moment, just quick. I can do this act blind."

Kokoro nodded, standing, and stepping over to Lelouch, trying not to blush too hard as she laid her hands on his shoulders and closed her eyes, setting off her switch - a mental image of quietly opening a book.

As the prana formed at her fingertips, she paused, her eyes opening once more and looking up at Lelouch. "... That's why you used this truck. It was the most conspicuous thing you could find... You're going to use yourself as the bait."

Lelouch smiled. It was a tight, dark smile. "If the commander is unwilling to take risks, he has no place expecting anyone to follow his orders in battle."

"That and the knightmares," Lancer added from the front. "Extra equipment feeds a growing rebellion, and we're not exactly flush enough to go turning it down. The rebels kept their stolen, uh. Sutherlands was it? Too."

Lelouch shifted his gaze to Kokoro as she worked on his clothing. "It seems I still haven't managed to finish giving that whole story..."

Kokoro smiled faintly, putting a finger to his lips. "I've got an idea. I haven't given you my own. ... And I don't really want to talk about it. Apology accepted. And thank you for taking me away, for a little while at least."

Lelouch's smile widened. "Matou Kokoro, 'a little while' is barely a drop in my ambitions."

Her throat tightened. "Grandfather is not casually escaped."

"Neither is Britannia. I'll need to grow a great deal stronger than I am now to win any of these three battles. But now that I'm on the battlefield, it's in reach."

... He sounded so confident... she couldn't bear to say anything.

~~~I========>

Margrave Jeremiah Gottwald kept his eyes on the tactical map, teeth gritted. Right now it was all he could do - he wasn't driving, his knightmare was being carried by its transport VTOL deployed off the train. His desire to do something, to not be helpless in the face of this, was irrelevant next to the need for the VTOL's greater speed.

"Viletta, what's your ETA?" he snapped out. He'd had her split off a detachment to assist Prince Clovis himself... Clovis's G-1 had been unresponsive for far too long. Its IFF wasn't responding destroyed, but...

"We're there, Lord Gottwald," she responded. "... The G-1 is at least half-ruined. A lot of damage out here. Personnel are still here, though, I'll check in. ... The damage wasn't total, it isn't impossible that the attack wasn't pushed fully. He could still be..." she trailed off, not really willing to put the hope in words.

Jeremiah swallowed. If Clovis were still able to be saved, he didn't mind letting Viletta take the credit, she'd been a good subordinate and could use the advancement.

... If not, he didn't want to have to be the one to see it.

"... I'm sorry, Lord Gottwald," her voice returned after a short wait. "... There is nothing alive in the G-1. And Prince Clovis is..."

Jeremiah's fist crashed into his Sutherland's control panel. Not again! This was the fourth time! "Marianne...! Lelouch... Nunnally... Clovis..." A growl built up deep in his throat, and he flicked on the main unit's frequency. "Damned Elevens! Speed up the pursuit! Spread out after all of them, and kill everything that's escaping! They've taken a prince from us for the last time!"

"Yes, my Lord!" came the response in unison, as the knightmare-carrying VTOLs accelerated to their fullest. They wouldn't last long running flat-out like that, but Jeremiah couldn't be bothered with the fuel life when the Elevens who'd killed Clovis, Nunnally, and Lelouch were right in front of him. They could wait around for pickup after they'd won.

"Before that, won't you listen to me?" a powerful voice queried, in the Eleven language. A rogue transmission on their channel, with a communication window popping up on one of Jeremiah's viewscreens. Still blank.

Jeremiah shifted to keep an eye on the comm window. "Who the hell is this?! Where's your comm discipline?! And speak a proper language!" All in Britannian, of course.

"I am... Zero." The blank window unfolded, revealing a man. Tall, dressed in black, trimmed with silver, with a long high-collared cloak wrapped around his slim form. The inside of the collar showed that the cloak's lining was a deep, rich, royal purple. And over his head, he wore a blank-faced helmet, black but for a bright lavender faceplate, with a ridge around the crown of his head, laden with upward-angled points. "And I refuse. This is Japan. I will speak Japanese."

Jeremiah boggled. Who the hell dressed like that? "Take off that ridiculous mask and show me your face. Are you one of the terrorists?"

The voice laughed. "I will show you. Not my face, but my will!" He threw his arms wide, revealing the black military-styled uniform he wore under the cloak. "If you seek to avenge Prince Clovis, then I am here!"

"Lord Gottwald, we have the source of the transmission!" one of his subordinates called. A highlight appeared on the tactical map - one of the various trucks, cars, and whatever else escaping Fuyuki. Quite a distance from most of the other groups - but closer to theirs. They were escaping to the southeast.

"I am the one who commanded the defence of Fuyuki against him," the man continued. "I am the one who executed him for this massacre!"

"Garbage," Jeremiah snapped. "You're an obvious decoy." So far away from the rest? It was obvious he was supposed to lure the Britannian Forces after him. "And what massacre? This was a terrorist attack!"

A dark, low-voiced chuckle. "Wrong, Jeremiah." The man pressed a purple-gloved hand elegantly against his forehead, and exaggeratedly shook his head in mock disappointment.

Jeremiah jolted, but held in most of his commentary. Clearly this... 'Zero'... had done his research on the garrison forces, to know his name.

"You do sound like you believe it. You've been lied to, Jeremiah-kun. What is it you think the rebels stole?"

"Poison gas. Equipment for another terrorist attack like Osaka yesterday!"

There was a cluck of his tongue. "Is that what they told you, Jeremiah-kun? And yet by the records in Clovis's G-1 which you will be able to check for yourself, the container was retrieved. The containment breached. But the people of Fuyuki died by bullets, Jeremiah-kun. Not gas."

Jeremiah switched to a private channel, snapping a quick "Check it!" to Viletta before returning to Zero. "And you're supposed to know what it is?"

"Well of course, Jeremiah-kun. I have it here with me. That which Clovis gave his life - and, might I add, the lives of many innocent Japanese civilians - to retrieve? I suppose, in the end, he will be remembered as a failure..."

Jeremiah's teeth ground together, his entire body shaking. If his knightmare hadn't been in transport mode, it would be rattling from his hands vibrating on the controls. He couldn't send everything after this one. No matter how angry he was making him, it had to be a decoy.

"I am no decoy, Jeremiah-kun. Or perhaps I am? Perhaps I am rewarding the Japanese for having fought so well for me, by ensuring that they are able to escape. Perhaps I am a commander who, like you, does not believe in fighting from the safety of a command center. It seems Clovis learned that such a command center is not quite as safe as he had thought - that he was not escaping the horrors of battle that he unleashed on the innocent quite that easily." Zero laughed, folding his cloak around himself once more. "It is a pity if you do not believe me. A massacre will be continued, and Clovis will go unavenged."

"... You will die with all the other terrorists, Zero. Nobody innocent would be trying to escape." Jeremiah slowly breathed out, voice managing to calm itself. Zero was trying to get him angry. And it was succeeding. But he'd fail Clovis if he lost to his temper here.

The head cocked slightly to the side, as if raising an eyebrow. "Evaluate your force distribution, Jeremiah-kun. I already have. You only have one knightmare coming down this way - it will be easy to destroy. I have very nearly reached the rail line. You will not get a second chance at me. Your VTOLs will be out of range by the time your first knightmare fails."

Jeremiah checked the tactical board... he was right. It was too far for a second shot, and once Zero got aboard one of the bullet trains the knightmare-carrier VTOLs weren't going to keep up. "Then we miss a decoy. Hardly a major loss." ... With that quick tactical evaluation, Jeremiah was starting to wonder if Zero wasn't really...

"You still believe that?"

Jeremiah growled, trying not to give this bastard any more words to latch onto.

"... Lord Gottwald," Viletta's voice came. "Clovis's G-1 records confirm what he said."

"... He was there," Jeremiah whispered.

"Yes, I was!" Zero held an arm out towards Jeremiah, hand curling in a slow beckoning gesture. "You have little time left! If you wish to avenge Clovis, come at me with everything you have!"

"Do it!" Jeremiah barked. "All forces, reroute and target Zero! He's the killer! The rest are just chaff, they don't matter!"

In an elegant dance, every VTOL on the tactical screen swirled around, angling towards the source of Zero's signal.

On the screen, Zero bowed his head. "A wise choice, Jeremiah-kun. Now... you will have to do what Clovis could not, and defeat me." A sharp gesture of his hand, and the image cut out.

Jeremiah swallowed, watching as the VTOLs moved southward, towards the lone truck. And as the other terrorists moved further away.

They were going to escape. Jeremiah just didn't have enough forces with him to attack all the terrorist groups simultaneously with any chance of success. The VTOLs would run out of fuel before being able to redirect, and the Sutherlands didn't have the speed advantage to catch up before their energy fillers ran dry. They'd lose pursuit of anyone they didn't hit in the first wave, and the escaping terrorists would vanish into the hinterlands.

But he did have enough force to assure that he would capture one unit. Zero. He couldn't save Clovis, but he could avenge him. And maybe imagine that this one had been responsible for Lelouch and Nunnally too. He wouldn't fail again!

A short time passed as they arrowed in on Zero. Nobody spoke. All focused on their mission.

They came close enough that video feed was available - it seemed Zero wasn't in a normal truck, but a dull brown-painted knightmare transport. Badly overloaded, it was built for one and was carrying three. A Sutherland, a Portman, and...

The silence was broken by a squabbling on Viletta's comm line. As he was about to chastise her, a voice came on. "Gottwald, be careful!" It sounded like... Earl Asplund? That knightmare developer who'd wanted him? "He took Lancelot! You're well inside VARIS range!"

Lancel... that prototype frame Jeremiah was supposed to...

Jeremiah's gaze focused back on the video just in time to see a spherical bolt of green dart up from the transport, arrowing into Viscount Kewell Soresi's VTOL and tearing it from the sky in flames.

The shot had come from one of the knightmares on the transport. A beautiful white and gold machine, gleaming as if it'd never seen a battle, angled, armoured, lightly built, with a long, somewhat blocky rifle braced in its hands, and two factspheres exposed from their armour plates at its upper chest.

"This is quite the toy you made, Britannia," Zero commented over the radio. "She responds like a dream. As payment for the trouble, I'll be taking it now!"

The Lancelot's rifle tracked to the right.

Jeremiah's face paled. They were sitting ducks out here. They had almost nothing that could hit a damned thing at this range - Kewell had been holding one of their few sniper weapons. And up in the air, there wasn't even cover. Zero and Lancelot could, and likely would, keep sniping them until they finally came in range.

A short flurry of bolts marked the demise of their second sniper, Baron Charles Norris, and his VTOL crew. Lancelot's rifle continued to the right.

Which was assuming even one of them stayed alive long enough to get in range.

"All forces, get out of the air! Down, descend, drop if you have to! Get out of the line of fire!" he yelled. The only possible order one could give. "And all VTOLs are to withdraw!"

The descent was fast, disciplined as always, a wave of VTOLs descending to the ground as one, but not fast enough - three more knights, and the last of their long-ranged weapons, died to that lethal sniper's hail of fire before all the knightmares were safely dropped on the ground.

The VTOLs didn't stop dying, the green bolts still rapidly arcing through the sky above even as they tried to fly away. As to be expected.

Jeremiah flipped out his Sutherland's landspinners and charged after the transport as fast as the knightmare would take, but he knew he wasn't going to make it. On the knightmare's internal power supply, he wouldn't catch up to the transport before he ran out.

There was no way they would catch up to any of the terrorists without the transports. Even if a few escaped the Lancelot's sniper fire, they wouldn't be able to carry enough knightmares to challenge one of the terrorist groups - even one of the other ones that lacked the stolen and operating seventh-generation knightmare.

But he'd have to try, even on the ground. To make the cold equations bend away before the sheer force of his will!

Once more, Jeremiah's fist struck the control panel as the green bolts continued their murderous dance overhead. "ZERO!"

~~~I========>

Kallen wiped her hair out of her face, staring at the Glasgow's screen, even though there was nothing to see. She was staring into the past. Hard to put her mind elsewhere.

"... So, that genius strategist of ours," Nagata tentatively began. "Ham actor? Total ham? Ultimate ham? Incarnation of all that is-?"

"Can it, Nagata," Ohgi tiredly muttered over the radio.

"... Sorry."

Kallen wasn't honestly surprised, though now the phrase 'canned ham' was echoing in her head. They were all still pretty tense, and Nagata in particular had to be feeling guilty, and scared of what they'd say when Kallen got around to telling them the details. But that wasn't really her focus. "... We won. With him, we won. Completely. He turned it around from about-to-die to..." she shook her head in wonder.

Ohgi sighed. "... yeah. You did."

Kallen winced. He hadn't said anything, but she knew what he was thinking. 'So that's the strength of a real leader.' It wasn't fair to himself - despite her admiration for her brother, she'd have to admit that even Naoto couldn't have pulled this off. But comforting words weren't really ones she knew too well, and saying it in public wouldn't help a thing.

She maneuvered her Glasgow closer alongside the rebel group's makeshift truck. "... Think we can fit onboard? Our energy fillers aren't going to make it all the way to Tokyo. And I really don't want to dump the knightmares, not now that we have two."

"Mm... yeah, it'll get a bit cramped for all of us in here but it's worth it, and there's room."

Kallen nodded, weaving around towards the back of the truck as it slowed to a stop. "Nagata, you first."

"Eh?" he jolted. "Ah... right." Under Kallen's watchful eye, his Sutherland came around behind, waited for them to open up the back, and tentatively clambered in, squeezing forward and hunched over.

Kallen clucked her tongue. Not a whole lot of room left, but she'd fit. She slipped her own Glasgow in, and tapped the hatch exit, climbing out of her knightmare as the truck's cargo compartment closed again. Ohgi hadn't been kidding, everyone else was in here. Good thing she wasn't claustrophobic. She squeezed forward past Inoue, frowning. "So... was he telling the truth? What we were after wasn't even poison gas in the first place?"

Ohgi held up his hands helplessly. "I don't know... I mean, he could've been lying, but the Britannians had access to the G-1 records and seemed to believe it. Even then he could've still been selling them a story about having it with him just to get them chasing after him..."

Yoshida nodded. "He's crazy, but the good type of crazy."

Tamaki shook his head. "You kidding? He totally should've run. What kind of idiot commander uses himself as bait?"

"The kind that's crazy," Nagata pointed out. "The good type of crazy."

"Funny."

Nagata shrugged. "Hey, under his command we - not even one resistance group, more like a couple dozen small cells that hadn't worked together before - stopped a massacre and took down a crown prince. That's the biggest win anyone's pulled off in Japan since... hell, since Itsukushima. He may be crazy, but I'm not gonna knock it."

Ohgi nodded quietly, exhaling heavily. "All right... but after this, we're going to have to lay low for a while. They are going to be out for blood. Once we're back in Tokyo, everyone goes civilian again."

Kallen made a face. Back home and school... blah. And feeling a slight pain in her right hand, she blinked and rubbed it through the glove. Had she hit herself on something?

"Try to enjoy yourselves. Especially you, Kallen, Nagata, you earned the break. We'll be back on soon enough."

Kallen pursed her lips. "Hey, Ohgi, about the redirect..."

Nagata winced. Kallen didn't really like doing this either, but it needed to be said.

"Later, we'll debrief on the details in private."

Kallen and Nagata nodded in relief. Another delay was nice, at least.

~~~I========>

"... Why Zero?" was the first thing Rivalz could say, as Z... Lelouch and Kokoro staggered in the gates of Ashford with him slung between their shoulders.

In hindsight, he probably should've expected them to jolt, whirl, and generally move with such suddenness and surprise that their already unspectacular physiques dropped him - face first of course - to the fresh-cut grass.

"Owwwww..."

Lelouch's jaw clenched, though it wasn't all that easy to see - it was already dark. "... I suppose there's no point asking how much you caught."

Rivalz pushed himself half-up, nodding quietly. "... Yeah." He swallowed. "... Where'd... uh, Lancer? Go? I was... okay, you probably noticed, but pretty out of it, and I didn't really catch the details when she split off..."

Kokoro blinked, reaching down to help him up. "... You missed that but not...?"

"It was sort of hard to miss," Rivalz pointed out, rising the rest of the way with her assistance.

Lelouch, frowning, spoke again. "... Lancer is out driving the transport around to ensure it's not being tracked."

"Ah. Cool." Rivalz averted his eyes from Lelouch's gaze. "... I guess this was what all the money from the gambling went to?"

"... Yes, though it was going to take a long time to pool up anywhere near the required funds."

Rivalz grabbed his hair. Gragh! It was more nerve-wracking dancing around the topic than hitting it straight on! "... Are you gonna... after all I saw...?" ... Okay, no, it hadn't been. He didn't think Lelouch was the type... but then he hadn't thought Lelouch was a prince of Britannia, willing to order a superpowered woman to kill Britannians or Prince Clovis who was apparently his brother, or sitting on that kind of natural reserve of ham acting.

Lelouch frowned, and slowly shook his head. "... No. It would be a special brand of pathetic for me to kill Clovis for murdering people to cover up whatever secret got exposed, and then to go and do it myself."

"... I won't tell anyone. I... I mean, I need time to understand all this, and... I can't even believe what the Forces were doing in Fuyuki, that was insane..."

Lelouch smiled. "Watch me, Rivalz." It wasn't his usual voice. It was the serious voice. The Zero voice. "I will freely admit my enmity for Britannia, but I am an enemy of the system, not the people. Evaluate for yourself whether or not anyone must know, as you watch my actions."

Rivalz slowly nodded. It wasn't like he had much choice... Lelouch hadn't actually done anything yet but stop an insane massacre... Well, that and if he squealed Lancer might kill him. She'd already pointed out she was willing to kill against Lelouch's wishes... even if in the context, Lelouch had wished for it and Rivalz couldn't exactly defend the actions of the soldiers who'd been getting killed. And Lelouch was his friend. This was probably way beyond the usual realms of friendship, but he still deserved at least a little slack... right...?

Kokoro coughed slightly into her hand. "I... may be hammering this in a little much, but be careful, Rivalz-san," she injected a bit of Eleven into her otherwise-perfect Britannian. "Some of what you saw is... uncomfortably close to the Association's secrets. They are not everywhere, but it is hard to be sure where they are. If you do tell anyone... don't tell them about the supernatural elements. The Association may hear, and they take their secrecy very seriously."

Rivalz sweatdropped. "It's... not like anyone would believe me anyway." He raised his hands. "I won't say anything."

"Thank you, Rivalz," Lelouch stated, sweeping into a courtly bow. "That trust will not be betrayed."

Rivalz just shook his head, looking at Lelouch. He didn't even have anything to say. What was he supposed to say on finding out that his school buddy, and partner in business or whatever you'd call what they did, was an imperial prince and apparently entirely willing, and able, to destroy entire Britannian military units that pissed him off? He was normally quite a talky type, but when there were no words, there were no words.

The three of them stood awkwardly for a bit, before Rivalz grabbed his things - not a whole lot, but he'd packed a little for the trip to Fuyuki - from beside Lelouch, and started heading deeper into the Academy grounds.

With a bit of a shake, Lelouch and Kokoro evened out their load - Lelouch's own day pack, and presumably Kokoro's things since Rivalz gathered she was staying with Lelouch for some reason... - and followed after him. He was heading to the dorms while Lelouch stayed in a different building, but it was pretty much the same way for now.

They walked in silence for some time, before Kokoro spoke up. "... What secret got revealed that they were trying to cover up?"

Lelouch blinked, turning to her. "Hm? I have no idea. This is just what I have from context and what I found in the G-1's records. An 'item' was stolen, Clovis went to retrieve it, and apparently retrieval looked in doubt so he started burning the evidence - the G-1 had apparently made a call to mainland Britannia, claiming that they were... re-zoning the area," he muttered with obvious disgust.

Kokoro cocked her head, somewhat confused. "... Didn't you say you had it with you?"

Lelouch paused, blinking again. "... Yes, to get Gottwald chasing after me. I was making up whatever might work to figure out what his buttons were. Didn't you... see that there wasn't anything there other than the knightmare?"

Kokoro shrugged. "Honestly? I have no idea what you're doing three quarters of the time. I wouldn't be surprised if you had taken it at some point and I just hadn't caught up yet."

"... Clearly, I'm going to have to work on my communication skills. For clarification, no, that was not one of my plans that I had not yet updated you on. I'll try to get around to the rest... tomorrow. Because I'm going to need to sleep very soon."

"Ah." Kokoro nodded. "Yes, I understand."

They fell quiet for a while longer.

... Wait, Rivalz's question never had been answered, in all the confusion. "Uh, hey, Lelouch..."

"What is it, Rivalz?"

"... Why 'Zero'? Why pick that name, I mean?"

Lelouch smiled, laying a hand elegantly against his temple. "Because I alone am nothing. It is only when others enter the equation that I can impact anything."

... Rivalz hadn't really known Lelouch at all, had he? This had all been there, and he just hadn't noticed. Even now he could see what he'd originally thought to be Lelouch within this... man who exuded the aura of royalty.

~~~I========>

Nunnally Lamperouge rested her head against the back of her wheelchair. It was pretty late - she couldn't see the night sky or the clock, but she could feel it simply in how tired she was. She shifted her gaze a little to her right - she couldn't see the maid, but it was simply polite to look at someone you were talking to, and she could generally 'feel' where she was. "Sayoko-san, did Brother say when he was going to be back?" Sayoko spoke impeccable Britannian, of course, but since Nunnally knew her native language, why not speak it? She didn't get much opportunity to use the Japanese language anymore, anyway.

"No, Nunnally-sama. It did not seem he knew, himself," the maid's serene voice replied. A short pause. "Are you sure you wouldn't like to go to bed? It's getting quite late."

Nunnally slowly shook her head, settling back into her chair. "No... I should sleep, but I can stay up for another hour or two at least. I'd like to see Brother if he can get back soon."

"Understood, Nunnally-sama." The maid settled in at her side.

... Nunnally wondered, sometimes, what Sayoko looked like. She'd first met the woman long after she'd lost her light. With all the kindness she'd been given, it was okay that she couldn't see things, but she still sometimes wondered.

Nunnally's head tilted up slightly. Someone was at the door. "Sayoko-san."

"Hm? Ah, yes, I hear them now. I'll get the door." Sayoko's presence drifted away from Nunnally, towards the door.

'Them'? Hm... yes, it sounded like two people. Was Brother bringing Rivalz in for something? They'd been off playing, she thought. It was a bit late, though...

With a gentle clicking, the door swung open, and Sayoko stepped back, allowing two sets of shoes to tap on the floor as two people, heavily laden down with bags, stepped in.

One was the Ashford issue male shoes... Brother, it had his scent, and the breathing and light sounds were most definitely him. What was he carrying?

The other made Nunnally's eyes widen uncomfortably behind their lids. It was a woman, that much was obvious. A very tentative step, and the way she slipped her shoes off immediately upon entering suggested she was Japanese. By sound, the only thing odd was her presence at all, but by scent... Nunnally recoiled almost imperceptibly back into her seat. She smelled wrong. On the surface, it was a normal girl's smell, maybe a little plain and unhealthy. But underneath - so faint even she could barely scent it - there was... decay, something dead long ago and rotting away...

"Is something wrong, Nunnally?" There was the expected note of worry in her brother's voice. She'd barely moved, but he'd always been finely attuned to everything she did.

Nunnally brought her usual smile to her face... it shouldn't feel this forced, but she didn't want to trouble Brother... "Ah, no, nothing, Brother... who is this?"

Brother shut the door behind them, a pensive feel to him. "That's... a little complicated. Kokoro, this is my sister, Nunnally... Lamperouge." That drawing out before saying it... did she know? Was he considering telling her...?

The woman - Kokoro, presumably - bowed, Japanese-style, in her direction. "I... it is a pleasure to meet Lelouch's sister, Nunnally-sama." Fairly good Britannian, though with the INSERT IGNOREion of Japanese honorifics and a light, almost undetectable Japanese accent.

"Nunnally, this is Kokoro Matou," her brother began, taking a deep breath before continuing, "my wife."

"Your what?!" Nunnally shrieked, before clapping a hand over her mouth. She shouldn't have been so loud this late! But... but... her sweet brother had married this woman that stank of dead and wriggling things, that she'd never met, that... She chastised herself even as she thought it, Brother deserved some happiness to himself and she didn't even know this woman, but... her brother... And what about Shirley?

Sayoko's response was probably the more sedate, with a simple inquisitive tilt of her head.

Surprisingly enough, Kokoro's response was almost as shocked as Nunnally's, head whipping around to face Lelouch, sending very long strands of hair whistling through the air. "You... told them...? I thought you'd keep it secret... it's not exactly..."

"I'm not going to lie to my sister, Kokoro." Brother lowered the bag in his hands to the floor, and stepped towards Nunnally, kneeling to stand level with her face. "Allow me to explain. Kokoro was in an untenable position when we met."

Nunnally's head cocked in confusion. She'd been expecting a declaration of love... "What... kind of position...?"

Brother's lips tsked. "It's... very private, and I only saw the surface. If you want to ask Kokoro, you can, but I don't think she's very comfortable talking about it." He took another breath, and continued. "Her grandfather offered to let her go, if I would marry her. It came up in a rush, and there was very little time before the opportunity would have been lost. So, for the moment..."

"Then... then, you're not really...?"

Kokoro swallowed, hair swishing again - she was shaking her head. "No. It's not a whirlwind romance or anything of the sort..."

Nunnally nodded, smiling. That... made much more sense. Of course her brother would try to help someone who needed it, no matter how ridiculous the method required. But... she frowned, just slightly. What if this Matou were lying to him? He was sweet and innocent, it wouldn't be right if someone were manipulating him like this...

"Nunnally? What's wrong?"

She put her smile back on, shaking her head. "No, nothing." She didn't want to trouble him. She'd have to keep an... eye... or an equivalent, on this woman, though, to make sure his kindness wasn't being taken advantage of somehow. "So... she'll be staying with us?"

"Yes, since we don't have any spare rooms I'll set up an extra bed in mine." It sounded completely innocent and businesslike, coming from him.

"No! She'll stay with me!" It was only a moment later that Nunnally's brain caught up with her mouth and she realized she'd just volunteered to sleep in the same room as her, before her brain caught up the rest of the way and reminded her exactly why she'd said it.

Everyone looked to her in surprise - Brother speaking first. "Nunnally?"

She shook her head. "Brother, it's really not appropriate for a boy and girl to share a room. I know you won't do anything bad," though she didn't trust that woman so much, "but it still doesn't look at all appropriate. And Sayoko-san's room is the smallest in the house, it wouldn't be fair to ask her to share. She'll stay with me." She folded her arms across her chest. This wasn't under negotiation. She'd put up with the absolutely wrong feeling she got off that woman if it was necessary to keep Kokoro away from her brother.

The adults in the room all traded looks - she could feel the shifting as they did it.

"Is it... all right, Nunnally-sama?" Kokoro spoke first, voice hesitant. "... I'd be glad to, but are you sure...?"

"Yes," Nunnally stated, able to bring up her usual smile. "... It may just be temporary, but for now, welcome, Kokoro-san." No matter how uncomfortable this woman made her, she was still going to have to live with her for now. And that was precisely what the rules of politeness were for.

Kokoro licked her lips, bowing again. "Thank you, Nunnally-sama."

"I'll go set up the bed, if you'll take your things, Kokoro-san?" Sayoko spoke up.

"Ah... yes!" Kokoro picked up her bags from the floor.

"Lelouch-sama, can I entrust taking Nunnally-sama to bed to you?" A question more of form than anything she really needed to doubt, of course, and the answer was as expected.

"Of course, Sayoko-san, thank you." He stepped around to behind her wheelchair, taking the handles.

"... See you in the morning..." Kokoro whispered as the Japanese women stepped out.

"... Busy day, Brother?" She could feel him leaning up against the wheelchair. And he felt warmer than usual - not in his usual emotional warmth sense, but as in a higher body temperature.

Lelouch chuckled. "Very busy, yes. Very unexpected, quite tiring, but... satisfying."

"Because you did something nice?"

"Yes. It's not often enough that I get the chance to put the right thing into action. And I think it'll just get better from here."

"I hope so, Brother. That'd be wonderful." Nunnally blinked, turning her head. Another presence had entered the room. Very quiet, no sound, but she could still feel the general 'essence' of a person. "Is someone else here?"

Brother's breath halted. "Eh? I... don't see anyone..."

"Eh? Really? She's right there, though." Nunnally shifted around in her wheelchair to point to a space just at her brother's left. Yes, the presence definitely felt female. Old. Scary. But... warm. Nice, like Brother.

Brother swallowed, clearly looking in that direction. "M... maybe it's a ghost? I can't see anything..."

Nunnally smiled, turning to face the presence and bowing her head. "Welcome to our home, Miss Ghost. Please, make yourself comfortable... oh, but I don't think we have any treats for ghosts..."

Brother chuckled. "I... I'm sure she appreciates the thought."

The surprise and rush of warmth rolling over her told Nunnally that her brother was right, as always.

~~~I========>
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:27 pm

~~~I========>

Archer took small steps, staying just a little behind and to the side of his Master - she was far too small to not be outpaced within seconds by his full stride. This would've been easier if he'd been in spirit form, he could just float behind her, but she insisted he stay materialized, and overall he didn't much mind - it was nice to be semi-alive again, especially considering the afterlife he was dealing with.

Her pink hair bobbed in front of him, moving from side to side as they walked through Fuyuki. They'd already overviewed the ex-war-zone city from a VTOL and he'd learned the tactical outlay of the place as it stood now (of course, he already knew it but he certainly wasn't admitting that, and he was only familiar with it almost fifty years in the future and in another universe). This strolling was for her to get a sense of the place - she didn't have his eyesight, though she was getting there. And he was learning something himself - the air positively rippled with prana, all across the city as far as he could tell. It had a very sad scent to it. This was most definitely something new and outside his experience.

He'd sort of been hoping to get summoned into the Fifth Grail War rather than the Fourth in some strange alternate timeline, so he honestly wasn't really sure what he was supposed to do now. He knew what he'd wish for in a second, but unless the Grail War had diverged far enough, it wouldn't even be an option even if he won the Grail.

That and while he quite liked his current strange little Master, he did not much approve of the nation whose military she served in. If he were more nationalistic, he probably wouldn't even be able to fake tolerating it. He'd have to see if he couldn't help her strike out on her own. Maybe bail out on the Grail War, turn this into a second life of some sort, a nice long vacation from his hellhole of an afterlife.

His Master - a small, thin, fourteen-year-old girl with carmine-coloured eyes and pink hair tied up high and left to fall free from there - turned around as she walked. "Archer? You normally talk more." Her tone and face were, as always, flat and expressionless, almost bored. She held up a red, vaguely heart-shaped camera phone and snapped a picture of his pensive expression.

She knew his real name - there really hadn't been anything lost in telling it since going by the Grail's proffered timeline, he was right now probably sitting around the time when his father had been born. Nobody knew his legend, it probably wouldn't even exist here. Still, safest to use the class - no telling who might actually know the meaning of his name, and the only ones who'd recognize the class and know what it meant would probably be able to detect his aura as a Servant anyway.

He smirked, laying a hand on his hip. "And you normally talk less, Master."

"Yes. Stop making me." She turned around, hair bobbing as she continued forward through the city. "And I said call me by name."

Archer chuckled, shaking his head. He really wanted to reach out and ruffle her hair like some kind of twisted older brother, but she'd punched him in the gut the last time he'd done that. "Sorry, sorry, was just thinking."

"Home?" It was only the fact that he knew she was talking about his country and not his city that kept him from jumping halfway out of his skin in surprise, because he hadn't told her the weird parts.

"Partially. Various things. Don't worry, I'm not much on the pride of a nation. I'm still with you."

"Good."

They walked in a somewhat more comfortable silence for a little longer.

At least he'd managed to talk her out of wearing her uniform on this secret mission. Sometimes he wondered about her upbringing... she'd somehow missed out on a whole hell of a lot of the basic details of living.

Not that the candy-floss pink ruffled dress she wore at the moment - the first thing a demented sales cashier had pressed on her because 'It'd make you look so cute!' - was much better, it made her look all of eight years old. But it was a step in the right direction. One down, at least two hundred to go.

Her right arm wrapped around to her left, reaching up the sleeve - fingers brushing against the relatively fresh tattoo hidden underneath. A long, red sword, pointing downwards and stretching most of the way down her left arm. He knew because she'd had it tattooed over - and in the form of - the Command Seals. It was one way to hide them... probably the only one that'd work, given her general preference for short sleeves that would bare the whole thing to public inspection. Frighteningly enough, suddenly getting a tattoo was more in-character for her than changing her habitual manner of dress.

"Hey, Mast-"

"Name," she cut him off, sharply and without mercy.

He bowed low to her as she continued walking ahead, then caught up in two strides. "My deepest apologies, Anya. I was just wondering why the tattoo? Wouldn't it be simpler to pass the seals off as one?"

"Instructor said the seals don't last beyond the War."

"Mm? Yes, they fade after they're used or I'm gone. Still visible, but they look more like a bruise. Why do you want them to...?"

"Reminder."

Archer pursed his lips, not entirely sure what to say to that. Not entirely sure if there was anything to say. Hopefully he found a way to not die and stick around, but... well, unless something changed within three weeks or so he wasn't going to exist anymore. Even this fragment of 'him' would no longer be free. Though it was still a little unnerving that she'd gotten a tattoo in remembrance of him before he'd actually died...

So he turned his eyes out to the mostly abandoned city. Apparently most of the inhabitants had fled after some kind of incident the previous day... which was probably for the best, since now it left the Holy Grail War to proceed without anyone getting caught in the middle.

Given his extremely high sensitivity, he expected to be more or less aware of any attack on him or his Master long before it came within range of fruition.

Which was probably why he was so surprised when the young boy suddenly blinked into appearance in front of them that Caliburn flashed into his hands and he instantly leapt between the brown-haired boy and Anya - normally he had different weapon preferences, but Caliburn's knack for 'selecting the right one' would be important with someone this fast and in this close to his Master.

The boy raised his hands. "I'm an ally, Archer, Dame Alstreim."

Archer fractionally lowered the long, beautifully gleaming sword in his hands. "Go on."

The boy brought his right hand over his heart, bowing his head. "Rolo Haliburton, Britannia Special Intelligence Service, presently on assignment as mediator of the Fourth Grail War. You were informed of me in briefing?"

Anya gave a slight nod of her head. "Put it away, Archer." Before he did, she snapped a picture of him looking all gallant and Servantly.

Archer nodded, dropping the sword and letting it dissolve into motes of light as he stepped back to his Master's side. He remembered the mention, and the boy's pale brown hair, lavender eyes... and, frankly, the fact that he looked as close to the physical incarnation of 'weenie' as it came... matched the description. "So how'd the Mage's Association come to decide to appoint Britannia as the mediator?"

"As far as they know, they haven't - that role was offered to a cover organization under the SIS, called the Geass Directorate. You are to use that name at all times - the association between the groups is not to become public knowledge."

Anya nodded. Archer felt the need to fill the silence with an "Understood."

"Presently summoned Servants are Archer, Assassin, Berserker, and Lancer yesterday. I have no information regarding the individuals, only classes and summon times."

Archer looked around the city. "What the hell happened here? The news claimed poison gas, but from what we saw... the place is blasted to hell."

Rolo frowned. "... The actual details are classified beyond your clearance even as Knight of Six and Servant, however I have been ordered to provide broad strokes as they pertain to your competition in the Holy Grail War." He pointed northward. "At the Fuyuki University, a project overseen by Prince Clovis was under way. The project was highly responsive to the spiritual quality of the city - the same reason the War was situated here. Apparently local terrorists thought it was a chemical or biological weapon of some sort, and stole it."

"Was it?" Anya queried.

"That's beyond your clearance, Knight of Six."

She frowned slightly.

"Here the records break down. Clovis ordered a retrieval effort, and we're not entirely sure what he started doing. He told High Command he was rezoning the area for industry, but as you can see, he was engaging in some sort of military operation. And apparently the terrorists fought back very well, because we have found very few survivors of his troops in the city, and the ones we have just know they were told to destroy specified target zones and hunt down supposed terrorist sympathizers - Clovis was covering it up from them as well. His command staff would likely know, but they're all dead, apparently killed by a spear."

Archer hissed in a breath. "Lancer?" Servants going up against the normals already... the Grail War hadn't even fully started yet and it was already going to hell.

"Best guess and it looks likely, but there's not enough information to know." Rolo looked down. "Also, one more detail which is going to cause a great deal of change to the Grail War."

Anya cocked her head to the side.

"I've located the secret project in question. It appears to have bonded to or been absorbed into the Greater Grail - the main system that sustains the War as a whole, not the vessel that activates when the War is complete. Completely inextricable, at least not without doing so much damage that at least one of the two will be destroyed, and possibly both. High Command has determined that the risk is not acceptable or necessary at this time."

"Bonded to... it what?" Archer had to ask. He remembered that ritual site... how the hell had this project of theirs bonded to the Great Grail?

"Bonded. I'm not sure how, but it's most definitely in there. The project has a very large - functionally infinite, larger than the Grail - well of prana, and it's amplifying the Grail's own power to almost unimaginable heights. It might not actually be safe to stay in Fuyuki with this much prana flowing, and summons are rapidly growing easier. The Grail itself is powered up to a sufficient degree that Servants, and thus the War, aren't even slightly tied to location anymore. And the timeline... the Grail normally can only sustain the War for a few weeks, but at this point, given the amount of power in the system... it could stretch out for years, or indefinitely. And you might need the time to locate other Master-Servant teams if they're free to leave the city."

"It has more prana than the Grail?" Archer could only repeat the first thing that had caught his attention. "If you've already got a secret project that has that much power, why are you bothering with the Holy Grail War at all?"

Rolo shrugged. "We weren't. Dame Alstreim was selected by the Grail so High Command decided they may as well put some interest in, but this wasn't even a tertiary concern for us until Project CC fell in."

Archer shivered. Even without the timeline extension, this was going to be a long war. Britannia was starting to scare him already. Their High Command had such big objectives that the Holy Grail War and the power of an honest-to-god history-changing wish was beneath their notice?

On the other hand, long war - in the actual time sense, not the 'each second drags out' sense - meant now he had plenty of time to work on Anya, and on squeezing together a 'don't vanish when the War ends' solution. Not to mention a solution to the problem that, if the timeline was as he knew it, was still in the Grail. It'd been bad enough with the Grail's own prana supply, with 'functionally infinite' it might be world-ending. Or worlds.

Fucking Counter Force. No wonder he'd been summoned to this weird world.

~~~I========>

Berserker turned his gaze from the recently acquired 'television' - Takara had purchased it shortly after summoning him, citing a need to have alternate sources about events going on in the city during the War - and onto the bed, where his Master sat propped up against the pillows.

She looked much better than she had yesterday. Much less pale. ... After his enraged rampage had drained her dry to the point of collapsing. He did not regret what he had done to those murderers, but he still felt a stab of shame. His loss of control had harmed and endangered his Master - a young girl, at that. At least he'd finally mastered himself before anything worse happened...

She snapped her fingers in front of his face. "Oy, Berserker. Are you listening?"

He shook himself. "Ah. I apologize, Master. I was lost in thought."

She pouted slightly, leaning back with her arms folded. "Well, I was asking if you thought the Lancer you fought outside the Britannian HQ was a Britannian Servant, or affiliated with the one who killed them - that 'Zero' the news just broadcast." A Japanese station, of course - the Britannian news was still echoing the party line about terrorist attacks and poison gas, but apparently someone had been going around mysteriously dropping video disks in news station offices, releasing the full 'Zero speech', though only a few Japanese stations were releasing it. "You said it was pretty embattled even before you arrived, right?"

He nodded deeply. "Yes. I was not in a condition to take it into account, but on re-evaluation, it looks very much like the vehicle was already under attack. I may have been fighting an ally."

Takara held up a finger. "Don't get ahead of us, Berserker. If they're trying to free Japan and don't have any hidden objectives, I'd be glad to work with them and settle who gets the Grail fairly at the end. We probably agreed on the short term yesterday. But that's still two big ifs, and a third - whether or not they want to work with us. And even then, we need to actually establish communications and negotiate the alliance. For now, potential ally."

"As you say, Master."

"That said, it'd be nice. Zero was so cool."

Berserker gave a low chuckle. "He was certainly... extravagant. Are you certain he favours girls?"

Takara favoured him with a mock-glare. "I do not have a crush on him, I just think that was awesome."

"Of course you don't, but that reaction was still fun. I know where your maiden's heart lies." He mouthed the name, quickly rewarded with a flush.

Takara hung her head, long black hair falling forward to cover her cheeks. "I'm never going to get you to stop teasing me, am I?"

"Not even after I return to the Throne, Master." It had been far too long since he'd been able to tease his own daughter, and she'd never really reached this age of supreme teasability before they'd been... separated. Takara was nothing like her, of course, but the rewarding reactions were still there.

"Moving. On." Takara pushed back the covers, swinging her legs out of the bed and to the floor - standing carefully, and shakily at first but quickly steadying. "I've laid around long enough."

Berserker frowned. "Are you sure, Master? You were badly depleted yesterday."

Takara waved her left hand, the red circular Command Seals flashing at her wrist. "I don't know whether or not you can feel it, but the air's chock full of prana. I'm stuffed to the brim, every jewel in the house recharged overnight. My body'll catch up, and if I stay too long in bed I'm going to lose my fitness."

He wasn't really able to disagree. If her body atrophied, she'd be in a great deal of danger, especially given her desire to fight in the War herself. She did seem fit enough to at least be walking around, if not fighting yet. "Where to, then, Master?"

She reached out to the bedpost, grabbing her oversized red jacket and pulling it over her body. "Out of town. Tokyo, maybe? Our only Servant lead right now is Zero, and he's in with the resistance, so we need to make some contacts. Tokyo's a big city, the ghetto is probably our best bet for finding something."

And of course she likely wouldn't mind providing just a bit of help to the resistance itself... Berserker frowned. "Won't that risk taking us beyond the Grail's support range? As I understand it's possible to summon from a fair distance, but it's unsteady and I will not be able to operate well."

Takara held up a finger, swirling it through the air. "I don't know if you can feel the prana in the air?" she brought up once more.

Berserker blinked, shaking his head. He'd never been deeply familiar with spellcasting despite his wife's occupation (he could reinforce himself, but that had always been about as far as met his understanding and interest), and now he was, well, not exactly alive enough to draw sustenance from the outside anyway.

Takara nodded. "Well, it's charged. The Grail's running way heavier than normal, must've got some extra prana somewhere. At this level... yeah, it can at least handle anything in Japan. And it's probably safer outside the city anyway. The Britannians coming back aside, this much prana is unhealthy. Even nutrients are poisons if you get too much. And don't forget I'm living on the leyline here, this is probably the most dangerous place in town. Another day here and my circuits might start cooking. Two days and I'll be developing normal health problems. We'll come back when we need to recharge and check in, but this place is getting hazardous."

"Mmm... I understand, Master. Do you believe Assassin and his Master are leaving as well?"

"Probably. I'm midrange as a magus and I can tell it, a first-class would know instantly. In all probability they'll be coming for us soon anyway, so we'll rig up some presents and leave them to it." Finished dressing, she slipped out of the room.

Berserker nodded, following her. "Your name makes you a known target, and unless Assassin engaged Lancer, they won't actually know Zero is a possibility. Leaving you the only one they do know about - so far as we know."

"Yeah. I'd like to take 'em out when they come for me, but I'm not going to go looking for a fight when I'm not 100%. Don't worry, you'll get your rematch, but for now we'll leave them some humiliating presents and watch the show on Familiar O'Vision. See a few more of Goldie's tricks from somewhere nice and safe instead of getting hit with them."

Berserker's lips quirked into a grin. "I look forward to it already."

"The chance of the traps actually killing them isn't even worth discussing, but we can definitely humiliate, and push them far enough to see a few of their tricks. Some tar and feathers are traditional... Oh! On the way out, level a few buildings."

"... Master?"

"Empty ones. Make sure no one's in there. Just, scare people, make them think Fuyuki's getting way too dangerous to stay in. Because it is."

Berserker bowed his head. "By your command, Master."

~~~I========>

Lelouch stepped into his room, smiling slightly.

Kokoro looked up from the thick, old book she was reading at his desk. "... Good day?"

"Productive." Lelouch dropped his book bag and a second plastic bag on his bed, moving over to take a seat on it. "And my body seems to have cooled down overnight, by the way." Which was quite the improvement, he really didn't enjoy that feeling.

Kokoro's lips pursed together. "... Fast."

Lancer faded in, sitting on the edge of his dresser with her legs kicking gently. "We've got a possible lead on the resistance organizations, so someone to contact in the future."

"... Weren't you at school?" Kokoro pulled off her glasses, wide eyes blinking slowly.

Lelouch's smile quirked up a bit. "Yes, it surprised me too. She sounded like Q-1, at least."

"Especially when she thought she was in private," Lancer noted. "Also very fit for a girl supposedly so sick she can't attend classes."

"Which would provide a convenient excuse," Lelouch mused. "It doesn't all mesh up, of course, but then I suppose I'm hardly unique among Britannians in hating how Britannia does things."

"So... how will you confirm it? If you walk up to her, you'd expose yourself..." Kokoro pointed out.

Lelouch waved a hand. "Easy enough. Find out her phone number, say pretty much anything, as long as I address her as 'Q-1'. If it's her, she'll know and most likely be quite curious, if it's not she'll just be confused and I hang up."

"... Go for the cell. I can just imagine you having that conversation with a Britannian student's parents." Kokoro shook her head of the absurd image.

"Ah, and I also spoke with the school's chairman - I just told him you were a friend of mine whose home had recently been destroyed. You're registered in classes starting tomorrow." He grabbed the plastic bag and tossed it in her direction. "Your uniform."

She caught it instinctively, blinking at him. "I... what?"

Lelouch shrugged. "I just wanted to get you permission to be on the grounds so you could walk where you needed to without worrying about getting arrested or something similarly ludicrous. The chairman, and I quote, 'will not allow a young girl to go without her education' and registered you on his own initiative. Is it a problem for you?"

"Ah... no, but... isn't this a Britannian private school? I'm..." She looked down.

"Ashford is about as liberal as they come. By which I mean both the man and the academy. If it's a problem, you don't need to come, just consider it an option." It might be a problem, he didn't particularly like to think that his associates or circle of friends might take issue with her race, but the topic simply hadn't come up very often except for some kind of ugly incident in the ghetto with Nina, that she and Milly refused to talk about.

And speaking of those friends, he was going to have to keep an eye on Rivalz. It would probably be more efficient to have just killed him, but... well, killing a friend was not an easy or desireable thing.

Kokoro nodded. "I... guess I'll think about it... Are you ready for the, um, lesson?"

Lelouch leaned forward. "Of course. I'm going to need to perform a crash course here, after all. I don't have much time." However this whole 'Grail War' thing worked out, simply a handful of strange abilities like the Matous had demonstrated and he would have a damned useful weapon against Britannia. Not that he had any intention of losing, of course.

Kokoro nodded, turning the chair to face him. "All right... Lancer, I projected some test material and put it in his dresser, can you get it while I get him started?"

"Sure," the young-looking girl chirped, bouncing off the desk, heels clicking as she moved around and started rummaging in the dresser. She held up a plain block of wood with an upraised eyebrow, before pulling more out.

Kokoro exhaled. "All right... the basic tool for spellcraft is the magic circuits that lie within your body. And soul. It's a... sort of spiritual organ, which evolved for refilling and cycling the vital energies in your body, but which we magi have repurposed."

Lelouch simply let his eyebrow rise. If he had to say anything, he'd say that sounded ridiculous, but to be honest, he didn't care, certainly not enough to get into an argument with his teacher over it. The actual scientific, or pseudoscientific, principles really didn't matter to him, all he needed was the 'how to make it work', and that, she had, given the unimaginably powerful ghost currently rummaging through his dresser.

"The procedure we did yesterday..."

"You mean the pills?"

"Yes. That was meant to establish a switch, to allow you to easily activate your circuits. It can be quite problematic without it, but right now it should be a simple mental operation. Turn them on."

"... How?" Lelouch blinked, looking up as he felt something settling on the crown of his head. There was nothing there, which he confirmed with a hand. But he could still feel the weight.

"Like that."

"... I suppose you weren't kidding when you said simple." Ah, there was the heat. Much less, though, he was getting used to this. Should probably keep them on as long as he could, get them working smoothly.

"Catch," Lancer warned, tossing one of the wood blocks to him. "And yes, I can feel it. You've got the prana pipeline working wonderfully now. I'll save up to full before blowing any of it, though."

Fortunately, even he could catch something tossed from barely a meter away. Because that would have been quite embarrassing. He... thought he could feel it too. Like there was an invisible fluid line between him and Lancer.

"What we're going to start with is the simplest spell - reinforcement. This enhances the function of an object - the sharpness of a blade, brightness of a lamp, strength of a muscle, hardness of a block of wood... What you need to do is push the prana into the wood block, into the points where it is lacking in its structure - the prana will essentially fill that lack. Try not to put too much in, there's only so much room for improvement in any structure and if you exceed its limits, it will start damaging the block."

Lelouch held the block, flatly staring at Kokoro. "I don't know the structural details of a wood block, Kokoro."

"To be honest, you don't need to." She slipped her glasses back on, perhaps to give herself a more 'professorial' air. "Right now, I just want to get you used to manipulating prana in the first place. To successfully reinforce, I'll teach you structural analysis later, but that's a bit more complicated and I want you to work on something that offers tangible results first."

To keep his confidence up, he supposed. Though... "... Kokoro, I don't know how to 'manipulate prana'."

She flushed, looking down. "Ah... sorry. Just think it. Your circuits are basically another set of muscles, and they do what you tell them to. You'll need to get a feel for it, though, because you haven't really used them yet. There's really nothing for this but practice."

"Right..." He stared down at the wood block, trying to 'force his prana into it'.

And stared.

And stared.

He kept at it for twenty minutes before finally, he felt a small bit of heat leaving him, leaking out into the wood.

Another ten minutes, and Kokoro held up a hand. "Okay, that's enough." Even as she said it, the block crumbled to dust in his hands.

Lelouch blinked. "... I overcharged it?"

Kokoro nodded. "Try the next one now. Ah, and if you have any words you want to use. Incantations don't hold any actual power, but they're useful for the purpose of self-hypnotism - they can skip past a lot of these steps."

It flew at him, and he had to reach out a bit further to grab this one. With a short look at Lancer's so-innocent-it-had-to-be-false expression, he held up the block of wood and turned his attention to it. "Show me..." It was the first thing that came to mind.

Ten minutes of nothing, and then it suddenly exploded in his hand, sending small wood chips peppering into his face. And open mouth.

While he spat them out and wiped off his face, Lancer handed a third to him.

He held this one away from himself, repeated his made-up-on-the-spot mantra, and was rewarded in eight minutes with another explosion. Now, if he could apply this talent to things other than wood blocks, this alone could be pretty useful. Though it wasn't technically the purpose of the exercise. He looked up at Kokoro. "... How many of these do you have?"

"Today, twenty. I'll project more for tomorrow."

"Is that another spell?"

She nodded. "Yes, we'll move onto it once you have a grasp on reinforcement - this, if only to reinforce your legs and run, is most likely going to be your most useful spell in the War."

"A not inaccurate assessment of my combat skills."

Lancer laughed. "That's quite the line for the man who made ace twice in a day yesterday..."

Lelouch stared at her. "Me, an ace? You must be joking. I'm nothing like that."

Lancer blinked, cocking her head. "... Isn't an ace 'five kills'? You took down at least ten, and that just what I saw."

"Through stealth and tactical positioning, not skill." He shrugged. "I got them because they didn't have a chance to fight back."

Lancer blinked again. "... Didn't the last Knight of One fight exactly like that? Ambush and sneak attacks? If it's good enough for the Emperor..."

"Believe me, Lancer. I'm not an ace. I've seen a real ace, and it's completely different." He couldn't even touch the miracles his mother had pulled off, even with the same knightmare."... And wait a minute, the Grail provided you detailed information on the combat styles of historical figures?" Admittedly, the previous Knight of One - prior to the current, Waldstein - wasn't hard to find information on, but still...

"No, but your bookshelf did." She smirked. "I don't sleep. Grabbed some of your books to fill in the gaps on what the Grail handed me while you two wasted eight hours."

"... I'm getting somewhat jealous of your undead physique, Lancer."

"Awww, you're going to make me blush." Of course, there wasn't even a hint of red in her cheeks.

"I find that deeply unlikely."

Lancer chuckled. "As an aside, do you have any books on knightmares? I want to see if I can't improve Lancelot a bit, but unfortunately the Grail didn't tell me one thing about what all those wires do, so I'm going to need to learn before I try anything."

"Wait, what?" Lelouch stared at her for a moment. "You want to improve it, but you don't know it...?"

"I'm a craftsman-type. I made my own Noble Phantasm." She suddenly held out the trident, allowing Lelouch to examine it closer. He hadn't actually noticed it was made of some kind of black wood before, and he wasn't sure how it kept such a sharp edge, but he could see the grain. "I've worked with other materials, including nations. I doubt I can master the principles enough to outshine the designer on the conventional side, but I can introduce my own spellwork to the equation." The trident vanished into whatever space she kept it.

Lelouch shrugged. "... If you're going to tinker, start with the Sutherland or Portman. Lancelot's a one-of-a-kind trump card and I'd rather you wait until you've got your techniques perfected before playing. As far as books, I only have some basic references here. Nina or the Academy library should have much more detailed texts - my own understanding came from the library. I'll get them for you tomorrow." He sort of gave up. At least this way they'd deal with it later, and she'd get to 'improve' a much more expendable knightmare first. If it worked well enough, he'd be all for it. If not, at least something irreplaceable wouldn't get trashed.

"Much appreciated, Master."

Kokoro coughed delicately into a hand. "Start on the next one, and try to maintain your focus while I talk about the next topic. You're going to need to be doing most of this as multitasking, so we may as well get you used to it right away."

Lelouch took it from Lancer's outstretched hand, holding it out and simply framing the words of his mantra in his mind. "What's this topic?"

"Servant basics. You've already got the basic structure of the Grail War, right?"

"To an extent. The Grail summons Servants, assigned to Masters, destruction of the Servants disqualifies the Master."

Kokoro nodded. "It is also actually what powers the Grail. The Master isn't immediately disqualified, and can contract with any other Servant, but the Grail can only manifest when most of the Servants are fed into it. It's more that the Master of the last Servant standing wins the Grail."

"Fed into. I really would prefer some different wording there," Lancer commented.

"Ah... sorry."

"Nah, not a problem. Carry on."

Kokoro turned back to Lelouch. "All right... now, a Servant isn't actually the Heroic Spirit. It's more accurate to say that they're a photocopy of it, poured into a shell - the class. The original Heroic Spirit is completely unaffected by what happens to the Servant." She shook her head. "In the last war, the same Heroic Spirit was summoned twice, though in different aspects."

"Sounds like you're saying 'don't feel guilty over their fate'," Lelouch noted.

"Don't," Lancer stated. "Just like the Masters, every Servant chose to come here, and chose to compete in this. We cannot be summoned against our will. Everyone here chose to put their life on the line for their wish, and hesitating isn't going to do you any favours."

"Oh, I know. It's called a 'War', isn't it? You accomplish your objectives in a war, and while killing the enemy is not the objective, it's not something to shy from. As you say, they knew what they were getting into."

It hadn't been intended to accentuate his words, but the block of wood exploded in his hands again, Lancer replacing it within a moment. Show me. He turned his attention back to Kokoro as she resumed.

"As you've seen, a Servant is a spiritual entity with the power to manifest physically. They're dead, and they've passed out of the world's cycle of energy flow. Normally prana is restored simply by living, but they're... not. So they have a stock and no way to innately replenish it."

"As I understand, that's where I come in?"

Kokoro nodded. "Yes, the Master feeds the Servant prana to replace what they've expended - both in regular battle, and in staying in the world. The world rejects paradoxical presences, like those who are already dead, and some prana is required to prevent discorporation. This also applies to projected materials." She pointed at the wood block held in his hands and being fed prana. "The world knows it's not really there, and essentially attempts to correct the lie. The prana drain is light but constant."

As it exploded, Lelouch dryly commented "Well, it should be happier now." He accepted the replacement Lancer offered. "So what, the world is sapient?" He couldn't really just grin and ignore that one, though he wouldn't pursue it too far.

"That might be inaccurate. It wouldn't be right to anthropomorphize it, so it might be more accurate to say it's a well-built system that functions in a particular way. Though 'built' carries its own possibly-inaccurate connotations - while a creator deity may exist, magi can't see such a being any better than anyone else. There are some magi who theorize that the world has a will of its own, but even if that theory is right, it wouldn't be appropriate to say it's a 'will' anything like human." She adjusted her glasses, two fingers settling on the bridge for a moment and sliding them back up. "Guess you caught me on my simplifications. I'll refrain."

Lelouch was spared the need to respond when his latest block of wood exploded. Again. Lancer handed him the next. "So I'm essentially a battery? How much prana do Servants even use in battle? What I've seen thus far appears fairly physical in nature."

"A fair amount," Lancer noted. "That physical ability doesn't come free and needs to be paid for. Most Servants use reinforcement or prana bursts - or both - to manage their physical strength. Some get it partially free - ones with various inhuman bloodlines mostly, myself included." She tapped her pointed ears. "But even we can still benefit from reinforcing, and usually do it. Then there's repairing damage, which again sucks up prana. Some Servants can regenerate - again, myself included - but it still needs to be paid for in prana. Add in exotic skills - such as a Caster's magic. And of course, the Noble Phantasm."

"You've been applying that phrase quite frequently." Boom. Lancer tossed a replacement. "What does it actually mean?"

"It's essentially what the Servant was most famous for in life," Kokoro supplied. "Usually either a magical artifact, or a very abnormal innate ability. Unique to the Servant, except in those cases where it might be passed down to a future legend. It takes up a lot of prana, and generally instantly reveals who the Servant was, but these are generally very powerful abilities."

"I'd imagine, given Lancer described hers as 'anti-army'," Lelouch pointed out. "Can your trident really do that?"

"No." Lancer shook her head. "The trident's my secondary. I have two, my other one is innate." She smiled. "I'll show you someday." It probably went without saying that the smile was similar to his 'I have a plan and am about to hurt something' smile.

"I should hope we don't find a need for it." Lelouch knew he was just short of making the block explode, so he stopped. A little too late, since it disintegrated anyway, though. He tsked. "I think I'm just around the maximum capacity, here. Still going to need to learn how to stop, though."

Kokoro held up a finger. "Remember, you're just getting the flow right. Without the structural analysis, you're not going to be putting it into the right places, so your prana is still damaging rather than reinforcing the structure. We're close enough to work on structural tomorrow, though."

Lelouch accepted the next block from Lancer, tapping it idly against his cheek. "I'd like to get a feel for how this is actually supposed to work, though it's not as though making things disintegrate with a touch is a bad trick to have." He dropped the block and stood, taking a stride over to the games table in his room and moving the chess set off it.

Kokoro blinked. "... Lelouch?"

"Show me..." he whispered, starting a very light flow of prana. Couldn't afford to overdo this one, so the moment he felt the flow start into the nooks and crannies and places that could do just a little better, he stopped it. And then he ducked down, putting his right hand under the table, and stood, casually lifting it with the one hand. It was most definitely more strength than he'd ever had before, though it was still miles short of Kokoro's 'punch through brick' and Lancer's 'throw knightmares' levels of strength. But he was on the right way.

Kokoro stared at him wide-eyed. "... Ho... are you insane? Trying self-reinforcement without structural analysis, on the first day... your sense of touch and feeling for your body only goes so far, Lelouch!" She stood up, teeth gritted. "You have a real talent, but don't get cocky! Push it too far and you'll still break something that doesn't recover! You're gifted, not invulnerable! Don't waste it!"

Lelouch shook his head, lowering the table. "You've seen Nunnally," he stated, voice serious. "How many medical journals do you think I've read cover to cover?" He moved back to his bed, picking up the wood block again. "I didn't find what I sought, but I did, at least, end up with a very detailed understanding of much of the human body." Of course, he'd still need to get control over the flow before he could do anything really impressive, so back to the wood blocks...

Kokoro swallowed, and for a moment even more anger flashed through her lavender eyes, before she slumped back into the chair, head bowed and eyes hidden from view. "... She's lucky. She has a brother who'll move the world for her, after all."

Lelouch shook his head, leaning back and focusing on his practice. "The world didn't give her her due. I'm just trying to make up the difference."

"That's its own kind of luck." Kokoro turned away, burying herself in her book again. "Keep up the practice, and don't do that again until your control's better."

Lelouch simply nodded.

~~~I========>

Wise Up - Z-01 Lancelot

Ahh... this machine. What a way to provoke memories...

The Z-01 Lancelot is one of the world's first seventh-generation knightmare frames. At the time of its creation, the Camelot Design Bureau believed it to be the first, though as it turned out the Chawla design team in India had built two more within a similar timeframe. No more than weeks apart, whoever was first. The EU's Falx wasn't far behind, but never saw action - the wars had ended by the time its development cycle did. They didn't cut the same corners Asplund and Chawla did, and unfortunately six months too late was still too late.

The core new design element is the use of superconducting sakuradite throughout the frame, leading to significantly higher responsiveness, operating efficiency, and power generation.

In mass production knightmares, this is powerful enough. The improved responsiveness enhances the already-formidable performance of a knightmare into something quite frightening. And the improved operating efficiency and power supply enhances the power life of a knightmare - normally they only have the legs to operate for an hour or two, the improved efficiency very much helps.

This is what distinguishes the seventh generation from the sixth. ... Though I will willingly acknowledge that this world has a much looser definition of 'generation' than yours. Yours actually have to be put into service, for one. By your definitions, Lancelot would be second-generation.

Now, for what distinguishes Lancelot... well. Camelot did two things with Lancelot. For the first, they manufactured it to Rounds-spec - that is, the standards that would be expected by one of Britannia's twelve Knights of the Round. Yes, I can imagine you, especially, know where the name comes from.

Rounds-spec doesn't sound very sexy when simply describing it, but it involves parts manufactured to much tighter tolerances, and very finicky machines that require much more frequent maintenance. It's really not cost-effective so you can't do it on many machines, but the end result is a higher-performance machine, that with a properly skilled pilot, can be parlayed into positively ridiculous feats of arms.

The second... well, Asplund decided to play with as many toys as he could squeeze into the frame. This is the second major reason Lancelot costs so incredibly much. Quite a few high-technology gadgets that simply wouldn't work without Lancelot's high power supply - which unfortunately reduces its fuel life back into the range of normal knightmares.

Gadget number one: Haken boosters. Simple enough, small rocket thrusters attached to the Lancelot's four slash hakens, allowing higher-speed intercepts, and for altering their path in midflight. To be honest, I'd almost forgotten about these, they loaded that thing up with so many toys...

Number two: dual factspheres. This isn't one of those major expensive tricks, but it's a design element first introduced on the EU's Panzer-Hummel, and it allows greater sensory acuity, which, further, allows for the Lancelot's trademark 'ridiculous acrobatic dodges'. The damned thing evading a building collapsing on it comes to mind, and I believe it bears noting that the largest proportion of that was the machine's own AI, not the pilot - the pilot had never ridden an actual knightmare before, after all, no matter how gifted he was.

The third is referred to as a 'maser vibration sword'. If you're familiar with the 'vibroblade' concept of a blade oscillating rapidly to provide its own sawing motion, you already have the basics, though the MVS adds the typically over-the-top touch of also being superheated, allowing them to cut through most armour like it isn't even there.

The fourth is where issues start getting somewhat insane. With the Camelot Bureau's typical flair for names, it's referred to as the Blaze Luminous. This is somewhat exotic electromagnetics technology even for our world, but it's broadly similar to the plasma window developed recently on your side at Brookhaven, though distinctly more developed. I believe you've fought people equipped with these and been lectured on the details already, but I'll summarize just the same, in the interests of completeness.

Put simply, the Blaze Luminous takes a fair-sized quantity of gas emitted from the Lancelot, heats it up to a ridiculous temperature to convert it into plasma, and uses magnetic fields to confine the plasma into a flat plane over the forearms. The Blaze Luminous approaches impenetrability for conventional weaponry. Not because of the actual force of the plasma - that can hold out around ten atmospheres of pressure, but nothing in terms of weaponry. However, the magnetic fields alone force away most ferromagnetic projectiles, and then any projectile that makes it by and enters the Blaze Luminous is more or less instantly vaporized.

You can stop grumbling about that damned cheater any time now, Archer. It's not like you don't cheat just as gloriously and just as frequently.

The fifth isn't as insane, but turned out to be more useful in this installment. 'Variable Ammunition Repulsion Impact Spitfire', aka VARIS and most likely named explicitly so they could give it that pretty acronym. Most knightmare rifles are coilguns, but the VARIS is the first Britannian-made railgun on that scale - the EU beat them to railguns, employing them liberally. The EU, as it happens, very much likes its guns. Coilguns are better for certain purposes, but railguns - assuming they can be made to work at the desired level - can accelerate projectiles to higher velocities, and achieve higher rates of fire due to the greatly simplified firing mechanism. That is, a railgun is simply a matter of 'drop in the slug and let the rails magnetically accelerate it' - much less complication equates to a faster process.

And, typically, because over the top is too low for Britannia, the actual ammunition fired is a small packet of... mm, I suppose the closest analogy in your world is thermite, though ours is copper-based and obviously ferromagnetic, and the particular brand used in the VARIS is set to only actually initiate its high-temperature reaction after it's left the barrel. The VARIS can fire its 'thermite' slugs in two modes - either a straight conventional mode, or a burst mode which takes a loss in velocity to pack the slug into a spherical bolt that is prone to, well, bursting. Comparable to a high-explosive shell, reduces the impact power, increases the area damaged.

Now, the VARIS is not in fact the longest-ranged knightmare weapon extant. It's a good one, and make no question about it, but conventional knightmare sniper weapons are in roughly that area of range. VARIS is more accurate and more powerful than average, and is the only one in that range of performance that doesn't require the entire knightmare be given over to it - and maintains the performance of an assault rifle while doing so, though that is not unique.

Frankly, Asplund wouldn't have gotten away with all this with any less permissive backer. He went three times over an already generous budget. He was quite lucky to find a man willing to let him play, because despite his genius, he's categorically unsuited to engineering - he's wonderful at pushing new realms, but he simply can't muster the interest to do it safely and affordably.

Even then, permissive backer and prodigious funding aside, to get it built so quickly, corners needed to be cut. Frankly speaking, if the Lancelot weren't directly in the hands of an elite technical team, it would be damned near unsafe to pilot. It requires very frequent maintenance, the AI is incredibly finicky... whoever ends up in that seat is just lucky it wasn't pushed onto the year-or-months development cycles that spring up in wartime.

To make matters worse, the cockpit block can't actually eject. The pilot must be either very cautious, or very willing to die.

Or both. Wouldn't that be the best pilot for the Lancelot?

~~~I========>

Author's Notes:
First thing's first - thanks go out to prereaders - the list being Sunshine Temple, DCG, Ellf, and Belgarion213.
I guess it's a marker of just how well Lelouch sheltered Nunnally that she thinks he's a sweet innocent... Of course, FSN readers can probably guess what our little living lie detector is smelling off Miss Matou, and why it creeps her out. She feels guilty as hell about it, but that don't make her any less creepified.
Some new familiar faces for both sides of the crossover today. Of course, those who've seen Code Geass can probably already tell that Rolo's outright lying about the actual nature of the Geass Directorate, but Anya's hardly high-level enough to be trusted with that, even given her position within the Rounds and her... position with the Emperor, left vague to avoid spoiling those who haven't seen the whole series yet. Even then, well, in a 'canon-compliant' timeline, she'll basically wake up one day with a tattoo on her arm and no idea where the last month of her life went.
Also, I felt bad about doing that to poor Orange. Though since there's no evidence pointing at a likely scapegoat and someone's already claimed responsibility, he will at least get to avoid the pain of That Incident, so he's already ahead, though I doubt he'd thank me.
As always, reviews, comments, corrections, and etcetera are appreciated whether for good or ill, and my email's always open (PaleWLF @ gmail com).
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Knight of L-sama » Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:50 am

The 'vi' is a personal article. You would probably get your own.


One tiny nitpick but this is a little off. No details are given as to how those things are sorted but it does seem to be related to the Prince/Princess's mother. Both Lulu and Nunally share the 'vi Britannia' and Cornelia and Euphie share 'li Britannia' and they're the only full siblings that we know amongst all the others.
If your spirit has wings to travel, even across the breadth of a thousand, million nights, imagination will guide the way and the gates of El-Hazard will always be open to you.
Knight of L-sama
User avatar
Chibi Sailor Senshi
Posts: 379
 

Re: The War of Kings [Code Geass and Fate/Stay Night Crossover]

Postby Pale Wolf » Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:42 am

Yes, and Marianne had a 'vi' too, so it appears to be personal to each person who marries into the family, or at least to each spouse of the Emperor. Lelouch was sort of simplifying since, as noted, it wasn't exactly the part of that sentence that she was taking an issue with and it was sort of the verbal equivalent of 'Look! A distraction!'.
There is no problem that cannot be solved through the proper application of immense levels of firepower.

- Finally promoted to Spammaster Indeterminate Rank as of June 18, by Stratagemini

<Stratagemini> My Titanium Anus Armour will repel all challengers!

Would you believe this is one of the more tame bits of dirt I've got for him?
Pale Wolf
User avatar
Fukufics Staffer
Posts: 1315
 

Next

Return to Stories and C&C

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users