"Suzaku. Let's stop this senseless fighting. I have enough entertaining you. I want to talk instead..."
Suzaku bit his lip as he tensed, eyeing the figure walking up amongst the rubble in front of it. As the person draw closer towards him, a wave of black rage started to overcome Suzaku.
Lelouch... how could you still remain so heartless? Even after... even after killing Euphie—!
Suzaku contemplated with himself in the cockpit. How proud was Zero—no, Lelouch—to just walk up to him unarmed? Did Lelouch think that he would not hesitate to kill him in cold blood? Suzaku looked down on the controls of Lancelot's VARIS particle rifle. At this distance, he could just fire on Lelouch and there would be no chance that he'd miss. Let alone for Lelouch to even escape with his life.
He could just end it all with just one shot...
Suzaku took a long breath and closed his eyes.
Calm down, Suzaku told himself. He shouldn't let himself be fooled. He'll let Lelouch think he trusted him to not pull any tricks. Until Lelouch reveals his card... he'll play along.
"Zero!", cried C.C as she stood up from Gawain's cockpit. Lelouch turned as he cocked his head towards her.
"Stay there. I want to settle this myself, in my own way—", he spoke before shrugging at her. C.C. gave him a look of disbelief.
He snorted, not that C.C. could see his face anyway. "Are you having doubts that I will not be fulfilling my side of the contract with you? Have faith in me—"
Even from this distance, he could tell that C.C most probably would think that he's being ridiculous right now. "Stay there for a bit," he started to say before turning around to face Lancelot.
Lelouch bit his lips.
Then again, what was he doing right now? The war had only just started yet right now—Lelouch snorted again. Was he hesitating? On ending things with Suzaku once and for all? He looked up towards Lancelot. Lelouch smirked to himself.
That's so unlike him.
Lancelot backed away a little as Lelouch stepped closer.
"What are you up to, Zero? Don't think that just because you had walked up to me without your Knightmare that you could convince me to join you! You—"
Suzaku fumed by himself as his anger got the better of him. Not to mention the way the person appeared before him fearlessly, rubbed him the wrong way.
"Do not just assume everything on your own. If you want to kill me now, just shoot. I intentionally cut our senseless dogfight short just to settle this down. So if you had no intention to hear me out, just shoot me. You know pretty well that I can't escape Lancelot's firing range fast enough at this distance and situation. Why don't you shoot me? Kururugi Suzaku!"
Suzaku jumped at the cold voice that uttered his name aloud. How could that person—how could Lelouch—so confidently spoke out the very thought he had in his mind?
Do you really want so much to die by my hand? Lelouch!
His hands shook. Right, this was his chance! This was payback for taking away Euphemia's life from her. For turning her into that. He should be pushing the firing button on his targeting stick. Yes, he should... that will be the right thing. Zero must die for everything he did. He should die!
Suzaku jumped again as he heard laughter coming from Zero. Zero looked up at him as he took off his mask. Suzaku bit his lips. As much as he wanted Lelouch to drop his pretence of being this enigmatic figure called Zero, seeing his former friend finally doing so in front of him was still unnerving.
"What are you contemplating for? Are you disregarding your words earlier? Are you still with those idealistic thoughts in your head? Suzaku! Look at me! This time I am not the same civilian you saw in Shinjuku!"
Suzaku glanced down towards the view screen to see Lelouch staring back at him without that Zero mask. With his left eye that revealed its bright purplish glow light. Making him look more like a total stranger than the abandoned prince of Britannia that he once knew, who had been his friend. He still could not accept the fact that this friend had been so cold-hearted to the point that he would not bat an eye at killing his own siblings. To think that he had stood beside this friend and not sensing this part of him.
"What are you hesitating for?"
Suzaku frowned as he activated the targeting mechanism for VARIS. As the screen locked on target, Suzaku paused as he caught sight of Lelouch's face again. The lad had not moved from his spot since earlier and somehow... just somehow, he thought he saw Lelouch staring back at him with his saddened face again. He shook his head. No, his mind was playing tricks on him. Suzaku looked back towards the viewscreen again. Staring back towards Lelouch's face. That left eye of him really made him look... insane. Yes, that should be enough reason—
Suzaku let out a startled cry as he saw into Lelouch's eye. Despite one of them had glowed so strangely, those eyes remained the same. Those were the eyes of Lelouch vi Britannia. Lelouch Lamperouge's eyes. The same eyes that had always watched over Nunnally, ever looking so kind... yet so sad during other times. His friend, how could he—?
Lancelot lowered its rifle as Lelouch let out an amused laugh.
"I... can't!" said Suzaku as Lancelot's cockpit opened and he stood. "As much as I hated you for what you have done and how much anger I felt at this moment, I just can't! Damn you Lelouch!" shouted Suzaku. Lelouch chuckled as he took out a gun and point it towards Suzaku. Suzaku frowned as both remained still.
"Those who are prepared to be shot, are the only ones allowed to shoot... is it? You can't pull the trigger... and you still held on to that naïve view of not taking lives. If you claimed to be doing the right choice, you should not be hesitating to do anything! Even if it meant that you have to abandon your own personal emotion. That's why—!"
Lelouch sighed as he put down his gun.
"That's why... I said that you are an idiot. Reality is different than what you thought. You can't change anything while sticking to your own idealistic views and acting in a foolhardy manner! You—"
"That's easy for you to say," Suzaku snapped at once. "Just because you think you are the one on the right doesn't mean that you could freely play with people's lives—!"
Lelouch fumed. "I had never claimed that I'm doing the most righteous things. I knew it that the moment I started all of this that my actions will affect the lives of many people. I know that while I'm fighting with the Japanese rebels, that I will also take the lives of Britannian soldiers. As well as any other innocent civilians that got caught in the middle of this! I accept the fact that sacrifices are inevitable! I've stood by that belief and will not hesitate to eliminate any obstacles on my path!"
"Obstacles? So Euphie was just another obstacle for you?" snapped Suzaku as C.C called for Lulu from Gawain.
Lelouch turned around towards Gawain's direction.
"Zero! Enough talk... the battle is still ongoing! I can detect more reinforcements coming from the Britannian side. If we didn't gather our men now and retaliate later, there's no guarantee that we can survive this battle!"
He sighed. Yes... while he wasted time here, the war still continued. And despite the Orders growing number, it was undeniable that many of them had been civilians. Compared to the enemy, it was undeniable to which had the better odds in term of fighting strengths. Strategically speaking, it was better for them to defend the area that they have taken over and secure their own positions before anything else.
Yes, there is no turning back now, Lelouch thought as he started turning towards Gawain's direction...
"Are you trying to run away again, Lelouch? You killed Euphie!"
Lelouch stopped. As much as he expected this reaction coming from Suzaku, he couldn't help feeling hurt over those words.
"...you can't possibly understand how I feel right now. Do not assume that you know me," he said softly to himself before walking away.
C.C bit her lips as she noticed several Knightmare signals heading toward them in her sensor. She recognised those of Britannian army but one of them...
"Zero! Come back... we've got company! We have to leave NOW!"
Lelouch cursed under his breath as he continued running towards Gawain. A sudden sound alerted him as he turned towards the sound. C.C and Suzaku also took heed towards the incoming presence as C.C noticed an unidentified Knightmare was approaching them at a very fast speed. Lelouch frowned as he moved past the building to get a clearer look and let out a cry. That blue Knightmare... it could not be anything but a Ganymede! But other than his late mother, no one had ever used it and he had thought that model had been pulled out. And the only other surviving frame of that model currently resided in—a realization came into his mind as he found his answer. Other than the Ashfords, who else knew about that?
He tried to run towards Gawain as he noticed Gawain's gearing up. Could he reach it in time? His ears caught some sounds as he looked back towards the direction of the rogue Ganymede. The Knightmare had pulled out its assault rifle—he thought that frame did not have any weapons installed? Unless... Nina? That girl had always been so bright and the fact that her grandfather had worked on the Ganymede series, would have meant that she could have been able to add more adjustment to that frame?
And considering that he had killed Euphie earlier—did that girl...!
For the sake of revenge...?
The tip of the assault rifle glowed with power not unlike how he was accustomed to seeing in normal rifles. Can't it be? Did she modify it with her own theories and the research that she had been secretly doing? In such a short time?
Lelouch smirked at the irony.
So will this be the end of him instead?
"LELOUCH!", shouted C.C in the cockpit as she saw Lelouch turned his face towards her. Before she could move, a huge beam of light passed before her towards Lelouch. It missed Lelouch by a meter as the missile hit the ground and exploded.
C.C gave a cry as the ground beneath Gawain started to shake. She screamed as invisible force rammed against Gawain.
At the other side of the battle, Lancelot was also taking a hit as the aftershock from the missile that was shot from the unidentified Ganymede model caused massive destruction on that section of the Tokyo Ghetto...
"... C.C... Zero!
Anyone there? Respond!"
C.C eyes snapped open as she felt Gawain being raised upwards. She turned out the communicator as she answered. "Yes, Kallen. I'm all right. What's the situation?"
Guren Nishiki stepped back a little as Gawain stood on its own.
"Everyone managed to escape after that strange big blast. Toudou-san took the lead for a while since we couldn't contact you guys. What—"
Kallen gasped as Gawain ignored her and proceed towards the direction where the explosion had occurred. She followed behind without a word as it was the only thing she could do.
She frowned. Come to think... she had only heard C.C's voice from Gawain.
Don't tell me... ZERO—!
Gawain and Guren Nishiki surveyed the areas as dust and debris finally settled. The place was practically deserted by the Britannian army and of the Order's troop. Kallen frowned as she watched C.C coming out of Gawain and looking around the area. The place was practically flattened by the last explosion and now, it was harder to distinguish where the Ghetto and Sokkai area had been. Should she be... glad?
No... she shouldn't. She should not be glad about just only this result. Because after the war is concluded, they will rebuild this land anew...
That would be the day when she should be glad.
Kallen's thoughts broke as she heard C.C's gasp through the intercom. She brought her Guren to her side as she felt her blood ran cold at the sight she saw.
Few meters before them, Zero's mask lay on the ground. Abandoned... and broken. Somewhere nearby, they saw a tattered purple and red cape which was once worn by Zero; stuck under a pile of rubble.
Kallen gasped as she saw blood on the cape...
"He's not here... Lelouch was not here..." muttered C.C softly under her breath.
She could find no dead body... so that should mean that Lelouch is alive, right? But if Lelouch is still alive... where is he? Looking at how much blood left on the ground, he could not have managed to go so far. Did that Lancelot pilot—?
C.C. gritted her teeth as she turned off the intercom.
"Don't you worry too much, C.C... Lelouch is still alive..."
C.C. sneaked a glare towards something that was invisible to others besides her.
"Then why didn't you tell me right away?" she hissed under her breath while glancing warily towards Kallen's direction. "Even if I did get knocked out during the blast, you should have told me immediately about what happened."
She could hear a soft chuckle as C.C rolled her eyes at nothing.
"Still... it was amusing to see you like this..."
C.C. let out a frustrated sigh. "Well, that idiot should turn up later, one way or another. It's not like he's that much of a weakling..."
"You really WERE worried about my dear son... weren't you. C.C.?"
C.C. started to muse over Lelouch and the few moments that they have shared during his vulnerable times. A hint of doubt suddenly interrupted her thoughts.
But then Marianne's last sentence jolted her back to alertness. "No! Who said that I was deeply worried about him? He'll live... because he has yet to fulfill his part of the contract with me. He made his promise to me—", she said, with an air of finality that her words would hold true.
She glanced towards Gawain's viewscreen to see Guren Nishiki move to search for Zero's remains. C.C. immediately stopped it as she got out of the cockpit.
"Enough, Kallen. He's no longer here. No point us searching for him now."
Guren Nishiki's cockpit opened as Kallen came out.
"What do you mean? How'd you know...? He might be... Zero—!"
C.C. let out another sigh.
"He's alive... somewhere. I'm sure of it."
Kallen went quiet as she stared back towards her. C.C smiled weakly at her. "I have faith in him. He will be all right. Kallen... would it be alright if I entrust the Order to you and the others?"
"There's something I needed to check, and that person might also be heading there as well—", C.C said as her thoughts hovered over Lelouch.
There's still Nunnally. Lelouch wouldn't have abandoned her for anything. So even if they've lost contact with each other, Lelouch should still return to his sister's side...
Kallen frowned as she remained dumbfounded.
"B-but... wait a sec! You can't possibly be serious!"
"Zero had already noticed that the Order can manage on its own. It only needed a leader to lead it. I trust you can do well to succeed him? Or maybe you could choose a suitable person to take his place. I place that responsibility to you then—." said C.C as she entered the cockpit again. Gawain started to move as Kallen got back into her Guren.
But could she do it...?
Kallen frowned before turning around again to look for C.C. But she had already disappeared. She sighed to herself before turning Guren Nishiki around to return to the designated rendezvous point set by the Order...
"I told you... right?"
Suzaku glanced up as he saw saw Cecile giving him the know-it-all look, before she ushered him back towards the patient's bed. She started giving him a once over as Suzaku pushed her away.
"Did you find what you're looking for earlier?"
Suzaku shook his head, as that only made him feel even worse. Considering the big fuss he made earlier after stubbornly walking out in the midst of treatment to confirm his own eyes that Lelouch—for better or worse—was still not left abandoned at the battlefield.
A part of him felt ashamed, yet a part of him was so desperate to know. Did his former friend still alive... or was he dead?
But in the end... he never did found out.
"Brother... where are you?"
Nunnally wondered about her brother as she kept herself from sleeping. It was already several hours... and he still hasn't return home!
Brother... please! Don't tell me something had happened to you? If it does... the nightmares I'll be seeing will not be just about mother anymore...
Suddenly, Nunnally felt a pair of hands holding her own. She was about to call out her brother's name before realizing that the hands were not his.
"Sayoko... is it?" she asked cautiously despite being aware that if it had been her caretaker, older lady would have greeted her much earlier.
Nunnally felt her hands being held tighter.
"No... it's me..." another familiar voice spoke to her.
"C.C.—! Brother... have you seen brother? He hadn't come home yet! I'm worried—", she cried out as Nunnally felt her body being embraced by the lady.
"Lelouch... is not here. We've separated earlier... but don't worry. I'm sure, he'll be alright..." said C.C again as Nunnally nodded meekly...