Part 56: Geass vs. Geass
Viletta wakes up in Ohgi's house, but surprise - she can't remember her name! Ohgi asks her desperately who Zero is, but she can't remember that either, or anything else. It seems he found her unconscious and bloody, muttering (including about Zero), and brought her home. She apologizes...
then smiles and says she's glad she was found by a good man.
When Lelouche gets back to the academy, that one damn cat (whose name is Arthur) is chewing on Suzaku, as is apparently his habit. But Lelouche has bigger things on his mind: where's Shirley? She's locked herself in her room and refuses to come out, so Lelouche, feeling she needs some space, heads out to take care of other business.
The conversation turns back to the Black Knights and how terrible they all are. Everyone agrees, especially Suzaku, who repeats that with their means, nothing meaningful can happen.
But it's Relena who asks, "Then what should the Elevens do?" The Britannians splutter that Japan lost the war, but victors and losers, conquerers and conquered - "does the world really need such things?" The room goes silent.
Millay breaks the tension by sending the entire council except Relena out for tea and cake. As they all eagerly hustle out, she murmurs to Relena that this should give her some time to think things over.
As always, her thoughts turn to Heero and what he's doing with the Black Knights when Nina returns, stammering that she forgot something. While she's here, though, she asks if Relena isn't scared of the Elevens, because she, Nina, is absolutely terrified of them. So Relena makes an offer: come with her to meet Princess Euphemia? Relena thinks Euphie might be able to settle some of her own doubts, as well...
Lelouche had a second reason for touching base with the council, of course. Suzaku didn't give any indication that Britannia knows who he is yet. This is not an idle concern: C. C. found him unconscious and unmasked, and a trail of blood led away from the scene, though no sign of either the victim of the shooter could be found. The only thing Lelouche has to go on is a vague memory of Shirley's face when he was drifting in and out.
Suddenly, he gets a call from Shirley's roommate, who he's geassed into being his informant, informing him that she's left in the direction of Narita. So he's going after her.
Do you like her?
I don't know.
Do you hate her?
I don't know.
Then why are you going to Narita?
It must be obvious. Because she may know who I am.
And what if she does? Are you going to silence her?
If you don't want to lose a thing, get as far away from it as you can.
That sounds like the voice of experience.
It's a way of life.
At Narita, Shirley is trying to figure out why she defended Lelouche, murderer of her father...
but then this asshole shows up!
He taunts her about Lelouche betraying her and murdering her father. How does he know about that? "I think punishment is on order, don't you? For him... and for you." He knows she shot Viletta Nu, too! Shirley's a murderer, just like Zero. Oh, and she's avoiding Lelouche to squeeze him for sympathy, too, isn't she? "If you murder a person and string a guy along, you've lost your claim at being the tragic heroine. You're the wicked witch here!" And all that, too, knowing he liked someone else...
Lelouche arrives and demands Mao gets away from Shirley, but Mao is just enjoying Lelouche's face, the rage at having his women taken from his grasp. He cheerily challenges Lelouche to a little game - he's good at chess, right? Mao has never played before, but he'll get by.
Lelouche wonders if Shades here is taking Shirley as a hostage. As if in response, he says he just happened upon the girl. Lelouche realizes the man is trying to get a rise out of him, but can't have prepared anything against Lelouche in advance. "In which case..."
"You have an attack vector?" Again, Mao seems to respond to his thought.
"What, C. C. didn't tell you?" he continues. And then, "Wow! You just thought of fourteen separate possible answers to who I am right away! One of them's even right."
The right answer is Geass haver, obviously, and he knows all the rules to Lelouche's - critically, since it depends on eye contact, it's not going to work through Mao's mask. Every Geass power is different, it seems, and it's very obvious what Mao's is. But there's no time to have a lecture about it. "Time for your punishment, Shirley Fennet. I sentence you to kill Lelouche and then die. I know you have a gun, right?" He tells Lelouche how Shirley used that gun to protect his secret, that he's Zero, but she knows - who killed her father. He dares Lelouche to Geass Shirley, though even if he does, he'll just shoot them himself.
Lelouche frantically searches for a weakness in Mao's Geass, and his possible motives as well. If he wanted to kill Lelouche he could have done so. "This is the death you deserve, thief!" spits Mao, and Shirley begs Lelouche to do as Mao says. She's breaking down, but she hasn't shot yet. Mao impatiently goads her on, reminding her that Lelouche is a murderer, but he can hear her thoughts spiraling round and round. All right, he'll just shoot them himself...
There's only one person in the world who could have gotten to Mao in time without him sensing them, but Mao is elated to see C. C. again. Obviously, C. C. is less happy to see him. She gave him his Geass eleven years ago, but his power grew too great for his mind to handle, as is the fate of all Geasses. He can never turn his Geass off, so the thoughts of everyone for half a kilometer around are constantly playing in his head.
Still grinning like a madman, Mao confirms that he can hear everyone's darkest impulses 24/7. Except for C. C.'s, the one island of silence in his cacophonous world. Lelouche rounds on C. C. She knew this would happen to Mao, and him, Lelouche, too. And it's obvious that she didn't just vanish from Mao's life, she abandoned him when he couldn't fulfill his end of the pact. What is the pact, then, he asks again.
Mao butts in to take C. C. with him. Now that she's by his side, he has no interest in making Lelouche pay for anything. She starts to turn him away, but "that's a big fat lie! I know you love me, C. C.!"
She has no answer for him. "I know! This is all Lelouche's fault!" Mao explodes. C. C. loses patience and pulls a gun on him, saying she should have done it from the start. Mao calls her a liar again. A gunshot rings out, but it's his! C. C. collapses, and Mao laughs that she couldn't shoot him - that proves she loves him! She insists again that she was just taking advantage of him. "You're lying again. I might have to shoot you more."
Instead, he picks her body up and says he has a better punishment in mind for her. Lelouche begins to follow, but Mao reminds him about Shirley. Don't worry, though, he'll be back to give Lelouche what he deserves.
Shirley, we're okay. It's going to be...
Lulu, I shot someone. I...
It's all my fault. You can't blame yourself.
I was going to shoot you...
I forgive you. For everything you've done.
I wanted your sympathy...
I don't blame you for that.
My dad had just died...
Just forget about it. Forget everything bad that happened.
Yes, you can.
I'll help you forget all of it...
Shirley, I'm truly sorry about your father. If I could do it again, I...
Chapter 26: Geass vs. Geass
(Area 11 route)
On that happy note, shit's going down in the Ghetto. Britannia's moving in, and Zero's out of town. The Gundams just consider it another thing Zero's doing behind their backs. Ohgi, though, has his mind full of that amnesiac Britannian of his. She may be the enemy, but she's helpless - and keeping her to himself keeps Zero's identity out of the wrong hands. At least that's what he tells himself.
Now, this is a spontaneous scramble, so Crowe's surprised to see Chirico out and about without Zero's express orders. Chirico just says he's found a reason of his own to fight, like GOONZ was asking him before. "Nice. Tell us all about it later," says Crowe, trying to be supportive. "I will not," replies Chirico shortly.
Britannia is Suzaku, a Knightmare squad, and a handful of Flags. It shouldn't be difficult, as usual.
Zero enters at the beginning of turn 2, after some light skirmishing, but he's audibly shaken up, and it doesn't help his state when his cell rings inside his Knightmare.
You're late, Zero. I'm so bored.
You handled the other girl nicely, I see. I love happy endings.
What do you want?
You're in battle, aren't you? I'll make it quick.
I've decided on C. C.'s sentence. First, I'll cut off her legs so she can never run from me again.
And since she pointed a gun at me, I think I'll sever her hands, too.
Just for fun. And maybe I'll gouge her eyes so she can never see you again, and her throat so she can't say your name.
Why are you telling me this?
I want you to feel helpless and scared. The sentence will be executed at 6 P. M. That's in one hour.
Think you can find me by then?
Well, even if you can, my Geass will tell me you're coming.
Later, Lelouche. Oh, and don't get distracted in combat, or it'll get you killed.
Sharp as ever, Lelouche knows that he's somewhere at least 500 meters away from the field, since Mao wasn't responding to his thoughts. In fact, since he doesn't like hearing thoughts, he must be somewhere far from anywhere people go, but somewhere he can observe the battle.
So Zero does the only sensible thing and runs into the middle of the battlefield. He declares to the Black Knights that he will remain absolutely still for five minutes, and he needs us to guard him for that long. The Black Knights ask him way, but Zero just says he can't tell us - and when the Gundams start protesting, Zero says "please."
"Please. Help me."
Crowe agrees. "Sorry, guys. He said please, turning him down isn't my style." Quattre is the next to fall: "He's not ordering us. He needs our help." Even Wufei grudgingly says he was going to wipe out those enemies anyway.
Suzaku doesn't know what's going on, but he sees a chance to take Zero in. Lelouche, meanwhile, needs to find a way to drive away Britannia in five minutes, and even then, five minutes is when the real game starts. "My only move is to trust the Black Knights... my comrades."
The SR Point, however, is to end the battle within two minutes. And with the enemies jumping on Zero, who can't take a counterattack, beating them down will be tough.
On the other hand, Britannia may have brought decent robots, but they're not exactly elite, and they're all in one spot. Defending Zero will be the hard part.
(I now have something to live for... that woman.)
(She works for the Enforcers. As long as I fight the Britannian Union, I can see her again.)
(Zero's put his faith in us... we're not just his minions!)
(I have to protect him... by keeping that woman a secret!)
Hey, Zero's got a soft side!
Heh... I think we can be friends... how about we even be bros, Zero?
So you do know how to show a little humility, Zero... I might just have misjudged you.
Now show me that you're the man worthy of commanding my sword.
Zero said the magic word! Next we're gonna get a flying Japanese pig.
But it shows he really means it. I've gotta give it my all.
Zero needs us... he begged us...
I'll do it... I'll earn Zero's trust!
Thanks in large part to Karen and Crowe, many Knightmares are downed, but we still have to contend with the ones that slipped through - and the Lancelot.
It takes a good fraction of GOONZ' actions to eliminate all of Suzaku's men, but the Lancelot isn't exactly a space horror, and I still have Karen.
White knight! I cannot afford to lose to you now... and I have already analyzed your combat patterns!
Zero to all units! He will attack directly! Do not expect any feints!
Zero's predicting my moves!
If you dodge, he will immediately move to avoid a counter! There is an 80% chance he will attempt to gain distance!
Use the following data! If you apply it properly, we can defeat him!
This just proves his danger! Even his refusal to move is part of some kind of plot!
I have to take him down before he can make his move... even if it costs me my life!
And there goes Suzaku.
The assault cracks open his cockpit, giving GOONZ a clear view of his face. Heero and Todo aren't surprised, but Lelouche refuses to believe his eyes. Todo begs Suzaku to retreat, since he doesn't want to kill his former student, but Suzaku stands firm.
So Todo gives him his blessing, sort of. His philosophy is that there's no meaning in anything unless you believe in it from the bottom of your heart. And if what Suzaku believes in is destroying Zero, well.
He pushes the Lancelot at Zero's Burai, intending to destroy it at Zero, but Cecille gives him a direct order to pull out. Still, the Black Knights have seen just what he's willing to do for "his" country. Zero coldly orders his men to carry on, but beneath the mask, Lelouche is shaken to the core.
Incidentally, there's nothing to carry on, and the stage is over. But Lelouche is determined not to let everything he loves be ripped from him today. He leaves Ohgi in charge and sets out to the matter of saving C. C...
Mao and C. C. are beneath the Ghetto, and Mao is taunting C. C. that Lelouche wasn't able to find him and is never coming to her rescue. He intends to take C. C. away and live happily ever after - all that punishment stuff? Just to rattle Zero. "Cutting off your libs isn't punishment, C. C. It's gratitude."
But then his phone rings. It's Lelouche, crying uncle and begging for Mao to give him C. C. back. Mao dares him to raze the whole Ghetto looking for him, and as Lelouche hestitates, Mao laughs and tells him to beg more.
Suddenly, Lelouche asks if Mao knows C. C.'s name. "Because I do. Her real name."
Mao's mask slips off as the realization hits, and Lelouche presses him. "All of C. C. is mine now, Mao. Including the parts you haven't even seen. Every inch."
Mao roars, but Lelouche himself walks out from the shadows and thinks a clear thought into Mao's head: "Checkmate."
He's brought the Enforcers with him, and silently tells Mao how he figured it out. Somewhere in the Ghetto, but somewhere no one would ever go anywhere near: the spot where the "poison gas" was alleged to have been released all those chapters ago. And just to drive the knife in, Lelouche grins savagely and recollects that this is the exact spot he and C. C. forged their pact. And the phone call? Prerecorded. Mao is so predictable that Lelouche figured out their whole conversation ahead of time and had (by Geass, of course) one of his men call in and play the recording. With Mao so full of rage and so focused on the phone call, he couldn't sense Lelouche and a whole pack of Enforcers approaching. There's no point trying to manipulate the Enforcers, either, they're all under a Geass too.
Mao screams that he knows Lelouche lost two friends today, and that he knows Suzaku Kururugi tried to sacrifice himself to end Zero "because he wants to die."
That's news to Lelouche.
Yeah, apparently Suzaku wants to atone for something by giving up his life to kill Zero. Lelouche is enraged now, and orders his Enforcers to open fire...
It's over. Lelouche tells his crew that they can stop faking the sounds of battle now. Wufei is still mad he won't tell them why, but hey, Zero swallowed his pride for us. That's a step in the right direction, though it's still not enough for Wufei. "I'm not here to be anyone's friend," he growls, but Crowe says we never said we were friends. "But we are fighting together."
Not friends, but at least working together. Lelouche reflects on that for a moment. "I seem to have lost one thing and gained another today."
He leaves them again and meets C. C. down in the underground.
Why would you put your neck on the line for me?
We're partners in crime, remember? I can't afford to lose you.
I still owe you.
I guess... but I still never thought I'd see you reduced to begging.
I had to prove to them I wasn't just using them, that's all.
That should settle any lingering doubts in the future.
Drop the act. You know you can't beat Britannia all alone.
Besides, didn't it feel good? Having them help you without having to order them with the Geass or your Zero mask?
Tell me about Mao.
...when we made the pact, Mao was just six, an orphan. He had no education, no parents, nothing.
The power of the Geass I gave Mao drove people away from him.
I had to be his friend, his lover... everything. I was the only thing he had.
C. C... I won't let the Geass take me. I'll master its power.
I'll change the world, and grant your wish along with mine.
I'll fulfill the promise Mao couldn't, and...
Is this consolation or pity? Or is this you getting attached to me?
It's a pact. This one's from me.
Fine. It's a pact.
But it's not over for Lelouche yet. He has to face Shirley, who asks him innocently if he lost someone in his family at Narita too. "Not family, a friend," he says. "I think a very dear friend. I think I didn't know until I lost her... how much her smile lifted my spirits. Now I'll never get to argue with her again, never laugh with her again..."
"Did you like her?" asks Shirley.
"I... don't know anymore."
The sun begins to rise. "You can't ever forget all the bad things," muses Shirley, "but the sun still rises again." Lelouche smiles and thanks her for everything, though she doesn't know for what.
Millay calls Shirley to deliver the scoop of the day: Suzaku's been appointed by the Princess Euphemia as her personal knight. Lelouche says he's glad for her friend, and quietly reaffirms his resolve to keep fighting. "Even if I lose my friends, I'll still have my comrades. And even if I lose them too, I can't turn back..."
Relena and Nina have, as promised, met with Euphemia. As Nina fangirls out, Relena questions Suzaku's appointment. Euphemia admits her sister was against the appointment as well, but she views it as a step towards peace between the two factions of Area 11. Speaking of which, she called Relena on behalf of a certain person. "Do I know this person?" asks Relena.
Indeed she does. It's a small world - Marina met Euphemia a while ago too. Nina is double fangirling at this point, but Relena still has a pressing question that brought her here. "What is peace?"
Area 11, everybody! I promise next chapter isn't just literally an episode of Code Geass narrated while Wufei whines about Zero.