Duality Complex - A Transformers/Code Geass crossover

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Tr3adst0ne, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    I embarked on a mission to write the first crossover
    between Code Geass and Transformers.


    Just sit back, grab a beverage, and enjoy. And keep
    the flames to yourselves, please. Constructive criticism
    welcome.
     
  2. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    Duality Complex
    A Transformers/Code Geass crossover
    Story written by Tr3adst0ne​

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.

    Rated: T for violence and language. (additional content possibly to follow)
    A brief introduction into the timeline before the events of Duality Complex began.




    Prologue

    They first arrived on Earth in 1986, hiding among us in plain sight. Giant sentient machines capable of changing shape and size at a whim. The battles that they fought were waged in secret, every continent a playing field. Ever since the war between the Decepticons and the Autobots began, they have traveled far from the planet Cybertron and battled in an endless struggle for survival.

    When they discovered a new variant of energon on Earth, the scope of their conflict changed drastically. Their war on this planet lasted for more than a decade, and claimed more lives than we could begin to fathom.

    Of course, I was just a technical writer at the time before they fought more openly. I, along with many others were oblivious to their existence until they started showing up all over the world. They fought regardless of the consequences or the damage that would ensue. To everyone they were were the same: aliens fighting for a world which they intended to turn into a mining colony. Until we realized (albeit slowly) that the Autobots were trying to protect us. Our common sense finally overrode our fears, and we formed a non-aggression pact with them.

    The eventual victory against the forces led by Megatron proved fleeting and costly. Many of us and our alien allies fell in the face of the onslaught which the Decepticons unleashed. Cities and populations were decimated across the planet, and left much of the Earth in ruins. Since then several of the Autobots took refuge amongst our population in secret, and co-existed with our race on good terms despite the massive anti-alien sentiment mounted against them.

    Now both factions are scattered across the galaxy, peace has finally settled. Ever since the war ended one would beg the question: did we truly save the Earth and the our people from the threat of annihilation? Or is there a greater test ahead of us that will determine the shape of things to come?

    - Lt. Commander Spike Witwicky, US Navy in 2006
     
  3. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    Duality Complex​


    2010 CE – More than four years have passed since the Autobots last fought the Decepticons led by Megatron, the Earth left in ruins in the wake of the conflict between the two ancient factions. Since that time, the humans focused their energies on the reconstruction efforts of their world with the help of Optimus Prime and his troops. The peace didn't last however, as their enemies founded an opportunity to steal an object of vital importance under their care.

    An expedition of Autobots and their American allies are dispatched to pursue them. Little did they know that the spark of war that began four million years ago would be re-ignited in an alternate Earth, on an outlying colony called Area 11, formerly known as “Japan”. It is there that their fates will be intertwined not only against the Decepticons, but also against another ruthless nation called the Holy Empire of Britannia.



    Primary Cast of Characters

    OPTIMUS PRIME – Commander, leader of all Autobot forces

    PROWL – Deputy Commander, chief military strategist and leader of the Autobot/human joint expedition

    JAZZ – Lieutenant, head of the Autobot Special Operations division and expedition co-leader

    SPIKE WITWICKY – U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander, chief liaison of the National Security Agency sub-branch Third Echelon and expedition co-leader

    NIGHTBEAT – Detective, a police specialist sent to help in the search for the stolen Golden Disk

    SIDESWIPE – Operative, a soldier who excels in hand-to-hand combat like his twin Sunstreaker

    MEGATRON – Warlord, leader of the Decepticons

    THOMAS ARKEVILLE – Rogue CIA Officer, former chief of the CIA cybernetics bureau

    STARSCREAM – Aerospace Commander, second-in-command of the Decepticon forces

    LELOUCH LAMPEROUGE – Britannian ex-prince, leads the Black Knights as the masked vigilante Zero

    KALLEN STADTFELD – A Britannian/Japanese half-breed, pilot of the Guren Mk. II and captain of Zero’s personal guard

    CORNELIA LI BRITANNIA – Britannian princess, viceroy of Area 11

    SUZAKU KURURUGI – Warrant Officer, test pilot of the experimental Knightmare Frame Lancelot
     
  4. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.

    Genre: AU/Crossover

    Rated: T for violence and language.

    The Autobots and humans form a joint expedition to retrieve an artifact of great power. One that could threaten the existence of life as they knew it.


    Story Note: I decided to make this fic AU, since the boys from G1 coincides with some of Code Geass' canon. Whether I intend to push it in that direction with the latter's chronological events depends on how I develop it. It gives me a little more literary freedom. Aside from that, this chapter takes place during episodes 1-3 of Code Geass R1.



    Chapter 1: Opening Movements



    Outer City Limits
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    Jazz and Prowl were the first two mechs that stepped through the transwarp portal. Both officers braced themselves as they made their landing outside of the swirling nether. Prowl's optics turned into narrow slits as he peered at the horizon beyond the landing site. Piles of debris and burnt rubble were scattered across the landscape.

    "Is this the place?"

    "Yep. Quantum energy signature matches what's on my scanner," Jazz tapped on the side of his head visor for emphasis with a smile.
    B
    ehind them the portal began to show signs of dissipation.

    "We better move. Let's deploy the relay posts," Prowl suggested.

    Jazz nodded and pulled a small metallic canister that was seated within his back storage compartment. He clicked a button on the round object, where it extended into a silver rod approximately five meters tall. The two Autobots quickly went to work to set up the other posts that would stabilize the exit/entry point into this universe. Transwarp portals had a tendency to be an unstable means of travel. This was the first instance in which the Autobots and humans have managed to successfully cross into another reality in a safe and controlled fashion.

    Soon after, Spike Witwicky exited the portal with due haste. His body felt strange, his mind slightly dazed after having traveled through an alien anomaly for the first time. Though he admitted quietly to himself that it was a unique experience in and of itself. He clicked on the side of his helmet, where an audible hiss was heard. He took it off and exhaled as he spent a moment to enjoy the fresh air. The Navy SEAL brushed through his brown mane as he looked on in curiosity.

    Other members of the expedition materialized soon after his arrival. Chip, Marissa, and a group of personnel consisting of researchers, technicians, and government agents. All of them wore the same type of protective suit when Spike first entered the rift. Soon after, they quickly slipped out of their gear and took in fresh air. Chip nearly collapsed on the deck as he braced himself with his arms and hurled on the concrete.

    "Ugh, that was... not cool..."

    "Take it easy, Chip. I told you that you shouldn't have had those tacos last night," Marissa smiled warmly.

    "Working overtime does that to me. I had to make do," Chip answered weakly. The intelligence analyst's less than impressive physical condition referred to the fact that he hadn't had anything to eat before yesterday. He worked on numerous reports that he had to give to his NSA superiors before he departed on his mission.

    Marissa tried to suppress her laughter, but her resistance broke down as she gave a light chuckle and shook her head.

    "Come on, tiger. We got work to do."

    Marissa offered a hand to her fellow co-worker as she propped him up back to his feet. Ironhide came along from the rear alongside four other Autobots. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe were the last to exit out of the portal before they shut it down. The twins remained steadfast, alert for any signs of unusual activity. Ironhide broke off from the group and transformed into his vehicle mode.

    "Prowl, I'm going to do some checkin' on the local environment and take a look around for a few cycles," Ironhide called in.

    "Stay sharp. We don't know what we're dealing with here," Prowl advised.

    "Will do," the chief security officer replied.

    "Well, obviously this place is Earth. The question is: where and when?" Jazz said. The special ops agent tilted his head left and right and recognized that much of the gray ruined cityscape was man-made in construction. Remnants of wrecked civilian and highly advanced military vehicles with strange configurations were scattered across the terrain.

    "We'll find out soon enough. For now, let's focus on moving the equipment and find a place where we can set temporarily ourselves up," Prowl said.

    Jazz nodded in agreement. "Ditto. Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, move ahead west of our current position a couple of clicks and conduct some recon. Check for any abandoned structure that's within proximity of the landing site so we can set ourselves up."

    "You got it," Sunstreaker replied. Jazz confided in the twins' ability to do what was required of them. In spite of their different backgrounds, the three Autobots had served on many missions together. It was easy for the trio to get along since Jazz was not only likable, he shared similar origins with the two brothers, having come from the slums of Cybertron like they did. They had all come far since they first met, since he knew the pair to be quite a handful of trouble. But then again, Jazz was as guilty as the twins when it came to pulling pranks from time to time. When it got down to dealing with the Decepticons, all three would fight alongside their fellow comrades and give it their all.

    Meanwhile, as the two siblings sped away, the human and Autobot leaders occupied themselves in accounting their personnel and equipment. Trailbreaker altered himself into robot mode and sauntered towards Prowl and Jazz. He pointed his thumb behind him as he gestured towards the steel crates containing their weapons and support equipment. Human personnel swarmed around the containers as they sifted through their checklists before they inspected the contents of their precious cargo.

    "All crates are accounted for, Prowl," the taller Cybertronian said.

    "Good. As soon as we're done checking up on our equipment we're moving out. How are the cloak generators?"

    They're intact, for the moment. It looks like the trip through the rift didn't give them the work over like it did for some of the humans."

    "Hmm," Prowl replied with a nod from his head.

    "We'll need to seek out means on which to continue to power ourselves with energon."

    "Once Ironhide and the twins finish their recon we''ll see what we can find. For now we'll improvise with what we've got," Prowl finished before he turned to Jazz.

    "You know, this looks funny. What happened to the local population? More importantly, what happened to the city?" the spec ops lieutenant interjected.

    "I don't know, though from the looks of it I figure there was some kind of shooting war," Prowl surmised.
    The conference between the three was cut short by Ironhide, who contacted Jazz and Prowl via voice comm. His tone was grim the moment he first spoke: [Jazz, Prowl, you might want to come over to my location and take a look at this.]

    “What's shaking, Ironhide?” Jazz asked as he paused from looking at his data pad.

    [Just come. Bring Spike and Marissa with you.]

    The worried tone in the older Autobot's voice registered in the minds of the two senior Autobot officers as something serious. Ironhide being the Autobot chief security officer, his unease was notably justified. Whatever he uncovered clearly wasn't good. Thus it warranted his concern for the rest of the expedition’s safety.

    "We're on our way," Prowl said as he immediately changed into his alt-mode. Jazz followed suit as both vehicles drove near the small collective of humans that were occupied with the containers. Marissa and Spike glanced at their Cybertronian companions with quizzical looks.

    "What’s wrong, guys?" Marissa asked.

    "Ironhide founded something. From the sound of it, I figure it's something that ain't pretty," Jazz said
    through his vocalizer before he opened his right side door.

    "Jump in, we'll head over to Ironhide's spot and see what he's found."


    ---


    A few blocks further into the city's outer limits, within an abandoned community center, the entourage of Autobots and humans were greeted by piles of dead bodies at their feet. All of the corpses were bloodied, each riddled with bullet holes. Inside the structure's floor shell casings were scattered all around. Spike and Marissa's eyes were at their fullest when their minds tried to take in the carnage that ensued. The former's gaze narrowed as he walked towards one of the bodies and knelt close to it. The body had a white short-sleeved shirt with khaki pants, his physical features registered Japanese origins.

    "Who could've done this?" Marissa said, her mind appalled at the number of people that were slain. Such senseless murder of unarmed civilians drew up a well of anger in the NSA agent. She sought answers but where there were none to be found. Her hands curled into fists upon the sight of the dead children and the elderly.

    Sideswipe strode in behind Prowl, Ironhide and Jazz. He shared in the general plight that hung in the sparks (and hearts) of everyone on site. No being deserved to be put to death the way that the civilians inside the building did. It was clear evidence that they were executed for some unknown reason. Spike stood back at full height and did a cross with his right hand, his visage one of sympathy.

    "There's nothing left here. All we can do is pay our respects."
    Sounds of aircraft loomed over the horizon.
    Tension rose in the air when a voice broke through into Prowl's comm system.

    "Prowl, this is Trailbreaker. Unidentified contacts are approaching your location. Sunstreaker's en route to my position to help relocate personnel and equipment with me and Ratchet. By Primus, they're all over the board."

    "Have you identified them?"

    "From the looks of it, they're humanoid machines. They're not Cybertronian, and they're definitely not friendly."

    "Initiate defensive protocols. Disable them by any means necessary. I'll contact you again as soon as I can."

    "Will do."

    A hail of shells whizzed by in the general direction of the team. Spike and Marissa quickly dove towards the deck, their arms raised above their heads as weapons fire threatened to turn the building they occupied into wreckage. Both had their pistols drawn as the attack pushed on. In seconds the Autobots drew their weapons through reflex as they turned to face their enemies.

    "What in the hell is that?!" Spike bellowed.

    "Looks like we've got company!" Sideswipe added, his photon blaster blazing away at the unknown enemy.

    "Ironhide, take Spike and Marissa and regroup with Trailbreaker and the others! We'll handle this!" Prowl ordered, his voice so loud that it broke through the fusillade of projectiles that seared through the air.

    "They can fight too!"

    "That was not a suggestion! If we fall, the group will need somebody to lead them in our stead. Take them and go now!"

    Swarmed by armed mecha, the Autobots shifted into their vehicle forms and rode off. While Ironhide whisked away Spike and Marissa to meet up with the rest of the expedition team, Prowl conducted a scan on the terrain based on the intelligence gathered so far. His navigational instruments interfaced with Jazz and Sideswipe's sensor displays as their data maps were lit with multiple hostiles. All of them saw the same data as it changed in real time, the enemy closing in on their position like a snake tightening its grip around its prey.

    [Jazz, Sideswipe, spread out. We'll disperse their fire and regroup in the east.]

    [It's not looking good Prowl. They're all over us. We'll have to weave through them.]
    What are these things? the strategist thought to himself. He would have to find out later as his mind raced to come up with measures to solve their current predicament.

    Jazz's attention was occupied as he took on three of the enemy mechs. His gaze shifted as he spent a few seconds to analyze their bluish exoskeletal frames. They were about his height, and humanoid in appearance save for the bulbous mounts that were placed above their foreheads. A guess that it housed some form of optical sensor which fed information into it. What caught his interest were the mounted wheel struts that protruded from their shins. He founded them akin to roller blades, so it was safe to bet that they were highly mobile.

    The special ops lieutenant brought his shoulder-mounted flamethrower to bear and immolated his attackers. A wall of flame engulfed them as the white Porsche spun and made a hasty getaway. All three of the mechs were repulsed only for a moment before they shrugged off the attack and sped in high pursuit. They were caught by a barrage of missiles that Prowl launched about 150 meters away. Upon impact, the trio of machines disconnected from the torso upwards and ejected what appeared to be escape capsules for the pilots. Jazz transformed back into robot form and whistled at the debris, giving a thumbs up towards the deputy commander.

    "Thanks."

    "Don't mention it."


    ---


    In another block of the city Sideswipe jumped upward and slammed a knee into a blue enemy mech's head. Its sensor mount scattered into dozens of pieces. His mind ran through reflex as he anticipated the movement of another enemy as it blazed its rifle in his direction. The red twin dived towards the street and shot a retaliatory blast, striking the torso before the machine went critical and exploded.

    [Sideswipe, status?]

    [I'm presently engaged with a hostile. More of them on the way.]

    [When you take it down, fall back and head further down the street. I have an idea.]

    Sideswipe scoffed at the order but nonetheless complied. He swung a hard right hook into the unknown assailant, smashing its head sensor inward. It tried to shove its weapon into his torso to let off a few more shots. The red Autobot simply exerted his strength before he broke its arm off and swung it like a club with all his might. He utilized enough force to send the machine flying skywards as it crashed into the pavement.

    [What do you want me to do?]

    [There's an abandoned building about thirty meters ahead of you. Use your pile drivers to collapse its support beams. That will knock down the structure and force them to disperse. We'll be able to take them from there.]

    [Got it.]

    An enemy mech snuck from behind him with a knife before he locked its arm and plucked the weapon from its hand. In a swift reversal move, Sideswipe plunged the knife into the midsection of the machine that dared to strike him. Electricity arced from its metallic frame, threatening to explode at any moment. It ejected an escape module before it went critical and blew into pieces.

    Afterwards Sideswipe launched into the air with his jet pack. He landed atop the abandoned structure and quickly began his task. He could only pray that Prowl's plan to segregate the enemy forces worked. His hands were replaced by his most feared weapons. Sideswipe's pile drivers were capable of turning everything that he used them on into scrap heap. No effort was spared as he executed his attack on the structure. His audio receptors caught the clunk of anchors that harpooned into the side of the building. The red Lambo twin peered to the side and spotted two enemy mecha racing quickly in his direction. Five others were en route from down below to stunt his efforts.

    They arrived too late, as the abandoned structure began to buckle in on itself. Sideswipe jumped and landed into an empty street as the building felled into the adjacent city intersection. The hostile mecha withdrew and attempted to escape before he took them down one by one. As the fighting continued, a voice boomed that penetrated the air. Whoever the person was that spoke through the PA system was young, but possessed an air of authority in his tone.

    "Attention: all forces!"

    The red twin turned towards the direction where the interruption originated. "What in the Inferno...?"

    "Cease fire at once! I, Clovis, Third Prince of Britannia and royal viceroy of Area 11, hereby command you. All forces are ordered to cease fire at once! You will also cease destruction of any buildings or property. All casualties, whether Britannian or Eleven, shall be treated equally and without prejudice! In the name of Clovis la Britannia, you are hereby ordered: cease fire at once! I shall allow no further fighting!"

    "Hmph. I suppose that doesn't include us in the equation," Sideswipe said. The red Lambo twin reverted into his vehicle form. He shifted gears and rode off at best speed, hoping that the others managed to survive the ordeal.


    ---


    The congregation of Autobot and American operatives stood together as they regrouped. Thankfully no one in their group died, but many expressed looks of confusion and concern. Whoever controlled this area ruled it with an iron fist. It was only coincidence that spared them from death. Sunstreaker brushed his hands as he attempted to shake the wires and scraps of debris that coated his fists.

    Served them right for trying to take on the likes of me, he thought coldly of the lifeless machines.
    Ironhide walked towards the expedition team where he holstered his weapon and crossed his arms.

    "They withdrew," the security chief pointed out.

    "It wasn't because we managed to ward them off. They had us outnumbered in droves," Trailbreaker added.

    "Someone ordered them to retreat," a voice interrupted. It was the familiar black and white figure of Prowl.

    "There was another battle nearby, towards the city's inner recesses. Whoever this Prince Clovis is, it's a good bet that he's in charge of this 'Area 11'. I'm sure all of you know that these machines were piloted by humans. If there are any survivors, find them. We also need to find out whatever information that we can and see if we can find this Clovis as well."

    "And if we don't?" Ironhide asked.

    "Then we'll pull out and relocate elsewhere," Prowl answered.

    "I think we have a breakthrough folks," Jazz buzzed, his voice only partially clear due to the static that interfered with the line. "Come on up, Spike founded someone that may be able to talk."


    ---


    Jazz and Spike stood in close proximity to a badly injured pilot of one of the enemy mecha. The blue suited operator attempted to crawl onto the terrain and grab an assault rifle before Spike kicked it away. The SEAL officer kneeled in front of the pilot, his composure cool and calm. It was time to get some answers, and Spike was not in the mood to be shot at again.

    Blood trailed on the pilot's temples and mouth as he struggled to steady himself. All of the Autobots that arrived with the expedition were on site as well.

    "Who are you?" Spike began.

    "I know what you are," the pilot coughed as he pointed at the general direction where the Autobots stood. What Spike saw was a look of recognition. It was obvious that this man knew about the Transformers. Did it mean that humans in this reality also had knowledge of their existence?

    "Don't make me repeat myself. Who are you?"

    "Whatever you're here for, you're too late. Soon the Decepticons will rise up and take this world. When they're done, they will spill over to other worlds, other realities, and crush anyone who gets in their way.”
    Spike grabbed the operator and gritted his teeth. The pilot's defiance began to get on his nerves. His grip tightened as he tried his best effort to restrain his anger. Spike noticed that the pilot grabbed his bullet-proof vest and whispered quietly: "All Hail Britannia... All Hail Megat..."

    In the man's final moments, he limped lifelessly in the SEAL's arms. Spike laid down the dead operator onto the deck and turned back to his Autobot friends. He frowned at the near mention of the Decepticon warlord. Proof enough that they held a presence in this reality.

    "This is not good. If this guy knows that you exist..."

    "Then it's possible that the Decepticons used the Golden Disk to alter this timeline. There's no telling how deeply entrenched they are," Prowl said.

    “The question is: how much damage have they done to this reality?"

    "More to the point: where do we find them?"
    The more that the group dug deeper into their plight, the more questions that were raised. This mission wasn't going to end overnight. All of the senior members of the party knew there was going to be a lot of work ahead of them.

    End of Chapter 1
     
  5. Ayleron

    Ayleron Autobot Vanguard

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    I really like the way you've been writing this so far. It's an interesting concept and you seem to be capturing a good amount of the "feel" that Code Gease has.

    I had an idea while reading it for Nightbeat. At this point in the story it doesnt appear as though he will be getting a pretender shell, but he was originally a headmaster. One idea to follow the IDW idea of tweaking original concepts would be to have him have his head modified into a detachable robot unit that he controls autonomously instead of being bonded. That way you can give him the ability to muck around in human affairs without bonding him to someone. For even more flavor you could say he's slightly not perfect in his mini bot mode so he has to wear an old school overcoat like a noir detective.

    Looking forward to your next post.
     
  6. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    I have a prologue and chapters 3+4 posted on ff.net. Just fish out the crossover section and you'll see it. Hopefully I'll post the fifth one this week.

    TBH I was starting to get worried since AU's can be a hit or miss, and the past several weeks have been nothing but dead silence. Hence why I haven't posted anything further here as of late.

    On the subject of Nightbeat, I am keeping him as a regular Autobot car. Though the possibility of Headmasters appearing still remain. Whether I'll throw it in only time will tell. I do recall that all Autobots have the ability to use holoavatars: which can pass through walls and hold tangible human-sized objects if I remember correctly. I putted him in because his penchant for solving mysteries puts him in over his head more times than he can count. Him coupled with Prowl's strategic prowess would make them awesome adversaries against Zero's intellect.

    And I intend to give a little more substance to Spike and Drift. I wasn't very satisfied with how Shane handled their characterization. Not very... oh how should I put it? Shway.

    There's a mixture of elements from the IDW/DW/Marvel/toon universes. I have to figure out how it will work to my liking and make it an interesting read for everyone else.

    Appreciate the gesture of good faith, though.

    Tr3adst0ne
     
  7. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.
    Rated: T for violence, language and light drug use.

    Wheeljack brings some new toys for use in the expedition's infiltration endeavors.


    Story Note: This chapter takes place during episode 4 of Code Geass R1.



    Chapter 2: Second Skin



    Autobot Outpost
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    After the Autobots' first encounter with Britannian forces in the outer limits days ago, they immediately established a temporary base within the confines of a massive abandoned garage. Since the original landing site was deemed too exposed, Prowl and Jazz decided that they would have to set up the exit point in the back of the garage so that the passage of additional personnel and equipment would go unhindered. Thankfully the structure was spacious enough to fit all occupants of the team, since it was linked to an adjacent car factory which gave them more freedom in their setup.

    Meanwhile, Ratchet occupied himself in another space of the outpost as he studied the dead carcass of the Britannian mecha pilot with machine-like precision. Medical scalpels that protruded from his arms poked and prodded into every crevice of the corpse. The chief medical officer held an eerie suspicion that there was something familiar about the man. He just quite couldn't put his finger on it. His medical scanner analyzed every pore and cell, searching for any patterns that separated the unusual from the norm. Ratchet's optics eyed the instrument carefully until he spotted something peculiar in the operator's DNA sequence.

    "Hmm. Um-hmm. Just as I thought."

    The CMO dared not to waste another second and tapped into his voice comm via his cerebral processor.

    [Prowl, I took a look at our dead friend here and he is what you suspected him to be.]

    [Do you have the results?]

    [I have already forwarded the relevant items to your data pad.]

    A temporary pause took hold as Prowl gave his reply.

    [Primus. If there's one, there's bound to be more.]

    [With the Decepticon infiltration protocol that is likely.]

    [I'll contact Optimus and give him the information. Thanks, Ratchet.]


    ---


    Elsewhere Prowl sat in front of a large holographic terminal. The Autobot deputy commander began the conversation with a ghostly blue projection of Optimus Prime's face on top of the circular grid display. He couldn't help but feel disturbed by this startling development concerning the dead facsimile. Both senior officers were prompt on the topic of the group's arrival to this alternate Earth.

    "We arrived safely, for the most part. But not without incident."

    "What do you mean?"

    "We encountered... difficulties upon our arrival. After we discovered the bodies of the Japanese civilians in one of the abandoned structures, we were engaged with a group of armed machines that I have never seen before. Our metallurgical scans indicate that they're human in design and manufacture. And then there's the case of the dead pilot," Prowl said, a hand scratching the bridge of his nose before he continued. "Ratchet did a post mortum on him not too long ago. There's no question that he's a facsimile."
    Prime said nothing, though his visage looked grim with concern.

    "Where did you find him?"

    "He was assigned with the Britannian garrison that was exterminating the population before the troops were recalled. It was clear from his expression that he knew what we are."

    "Then it's possible we might be even more exposed than initially believed."

    "That is the logical conclusion that I have come to."

    Facsimiles were artificial agents grown out of fusion tubes by the Decepticon army. These clones resembled beings that their cells were culled from in appearance and genetic structure. Their basic constitution as mimicries of the original subjects made them excellent tools for infiltration within alien governments. The very idea of facsimiles inside critical sectors of Britannia's infrastructure gave the Decepticons a huge strategic advantage, one that the Autobots would have trouble contending with.

    "There's one other thing that bothers me. It's been bogging my processor ever since the battle a few days ago. The sudden withdrawal of the Britannian forces by Prince Clovis was no accident."

    "Prince Clovis?"

    "Possibly our mysterious savior. Unfortunately, he's dead. Word from the local news said that he was shot by an honorary Britannian. Goes by the name Suzaku Kururugi."
    Optimus cupped his chin and nodded. "Hmmm. We need to investigate this. I'm sending Nightbeat and some of our other personnel to assist you. Wheeljack will also be bringing in equipment that will aid you in your mission."

    "Nightbeat?" Prowl replied as he twitched his left optic. He held respect for the detective's reputation when it came to handling investigations. Though he recalled in his memory banks that Nightbeat also had a tendency to be a bit unorthodox in his methods and preferred playing the lone wolf when he worked on cases.

    "Are you certain on sending him for this particular mission?"

    "If there is one thing that I can respect about Nightbeat, it's his persistence in seeking the truth. Once he arrives with the others, I want you to gather whatever intelligence you can. If possible, seek out and capture those facsimiles. Our main priority remains in the location and recovery of the Golden Disk. Keep a low tactical profile. There's no telling how far the Decepticons have spread their influence. For the time being we will lean on the side of caution."

    Prowl maintained his composure, and brought himself to full height. "I understand, sir. We'll be keeping in touch."

    "Primus be with you."

    Prime's avatar faded into the nothingness, leaving the deputy commander deep in thought.

    ---

    Several hours had passed before the transwarp rods that regulated passage into Area 11 came to life. Each were lit by three orange rings, all of them indicators that a teleportation sequence was under way. It wasn't until moments later that the portal that brought the Autobots to this alternate Earth materialized. Afterwards, Nightbeat and three other members exited the portal single file. All of them (save one) were eager with anticipation in exploring this strange reality.

    The blue-white mech Mirage wasn't very talkative after the arrival. He preferred the elegance of Cybertron, as opposed to traveling to another version of the same planet which he held no real love for. Drift, a blademaster clad in pure white armor, gave an inquisitive look but smiled as he tilted his head from side to side. He shouldered his longsword on his right pauldron as he moved onward. Wheeljack was the last bot to disembark, the engineer glowing with the same joyful exuberance as he always had when it came to engineering and exploration.
    Jazz led the Cybertronian personnel that arrived prior and greeted their comrades in ernest. Each shook hands with each other as their human compatriots looked on. Prowl came in not too far behind. The deputy commander's face betrayed no emotion as he joined the special ops head to meet the newcomers.

    "Good to see you, guys."

    "Um-hmm. You too, Jazz. Prowl. Alright, straight to the point: I got the word from Optimus. To what do I owe the pleasure of providing my talents?" Nightbeat inquired.

    "We're going to be doing some digging. Information gathering," Prowl said succinctly.

    "So I've been told. While we're settling in, we also bear gifts," the inspector beamed as he gestured toward a trio of hover crates. They had a metallic sheen along with the Autobot decal imprinted on the side. Wheeljack spoke a moment later.

    "A little something we brought along that will be able to help us in our mission."
    The mechanical engineer's optics brimmed with enthusiasm as he aimed a remote towards the direction of the containers. An audible click was heard from the device, before Prowl and company turned to face the newcomers' precious cargo. The crates depressurized and hissed out steam before the seals separated, unveiling the contents within. Prowl walked up to the exposed crates, and crossed his arms upon a sight he thought he'd never see again.

    "Pretender shells?"

    "Yep."

    Prowl shuddered at even mentioning those words to Wheeljack. The history that went with the shells never escaped his memory banks. Their usage were deemed a touchy subject by the Autobot military. Where they were originally conceived as an external armor plating to give added protection for Transformers against extreme environments, numerous additions were included as scientific advances continued. Over time, the purpose of the shells evolved to disguising Transformers into biological lifeforms. When the Decepticons first ventured into this project, the test trials ended with disastrous consequences, driving their subjects insane or comatose. Autobot research into the project faded into the of winds history when word of its side effects came to light.
    After the chaos of the war waned and the Decepticons scattered in splinter groups across the galaxy, the Autobots began to re-explore the option of developing Pretender shells. Past encounters with less-developed races who were not used to the presence of Transformers on their homeworlds warranted the necessity to find alternate means to study alien cultures, where the size and constitution of regular Cybertronians made it impossible to do so. While there was no clear determination as to whether or not when the technology would be studied and put into practical use, present circumstances demanded that new measures were needed.

    "Wheeljack, I've read the reports on what the shells do to their hosts. Are you really sure this is a good idea?"

    "Absolutely."

    Prowl wanted with all his spark to agree with the resourceful mech. However, given that Wheeljack's inventions had a tendency to backfire he couldn't help but cling to his doubts. Memories of the incident involving fuel stabilizers ended with nearly disastrous consequences were it not for the intervention of the famous scientist Perceptor.

    "Look, I can understand your skepticism since the grafting process itself was of Decepticon origin. But I've been working with Brainstorm on this for a while. Trust me, it's much safer than it was in its first concept. We made some pretty heavy changes."

    Do I want to chance the mission on this? Prowl thought fervently. Once he considered the circumstances, he gave a curt nod to the white mech as a sign of consent. Wheeljack took it as a blessing and faced the crowd of onlookers.

    "All right. I'll need three volunteers."

    "I'll do it," Jazz said.

    "Same here," Sideswipe added before he pointed a thumb in Sunstreaker’s direction.

    "No! Absolutely not!" the yellow twin shot back vehemently with glazed optics. "I'm good-looking enough without having to wear the guise of a fleshbag!"

    Jazz did not twitch, though he was saddened by the statement the yellow twin made. Everyone knew the special ops lieutenant had a penchant when it came to understanding the finer nuances of foreign civilizations. He watched in silence as the brothers continued to argue with each other over wearing the shells.

    "Come on bro, it's a learning experience," Sideswipe said, ever insistent in swaying his brother to chip in. Sunstreaker walked up close to his twin and remained adamant in his resistance.

    "The answer is still no."

    "Afraid that I'll be hogging all the fun and glory while you're over here kissing skidplates?"

    Anger began to well up within the mind of the yellow Lambo. His fists were clutched to his sides, trying to resist the urge to make a dent to the Sideswipe's face plate. All within proximity of the of two squabbling mechs caught on the spectacle. Before Sunstreaker raised any more of a ruckus, Jazz moved himself in-between to defuse the quarrel.

    "Listen, 'Streaker. I know that you're not exactly fond of Earthlings. I'm asking you not as your superior. but as a friend."
    The white mech placed a hand on Sunstreaker's shoulder.

    "Besides, if we ever get into a scuffle we'll need someone else besides Sides to watch our backs. After all, two's better than one."

    Sunstreaker shifted glances and finally resigned himself to Jazz's request before he raised an index finger. "Alright. Just this once."


    ---


    Each of the three Autobots bore external metallic plates that fitted around their frames. At first they were somewhat hesitant the moment they first attached the constructs onto their bodies. Wheeljack rambled on about the new features as the trio examined their new equipment, whose excitement was apparent for this new invention.

    "We made extensive modifications to the shells since their first introduction many vorns ago. When the Decepticons first started this, there was a programming flaw that corrupted a Transformer's subroutines. We re-wrote the code from scratch, so it's much more stable now. Thus, you won't have any issue of ending up being insane or comatose like those first bots. The shells are equipped with microscopic nanites that regulate your size and mass change requirements. When you first alter into your organic forms, your bodies will undergo a temporary shutdown while the transformation is taking effect. Once you turn into humans, you are capable of processing human foods and liquids for consumption, and last for several days before you need to recharge. However, that comes at the cost of losing a fraction of your strength and your weapons systems from your original robot states. Your sensitivity to pain will be increased, although you still have the option of shuting off your pain receptors.

    "Once you change back into your robot forms it will require a certain expenditure of energy for the transformation. As the process occurs, it will take up at least fifteen percent of your body's internal energon stores in order for the nanites to re-constitute your original state, so you’ll want to use that option sparingly. Also, your shells are tied specifically to your individual genetic codes, so you don't have to worry about the 'Cons tampering with them. On a side note: in combat situations, your shells come as an added layer of protection. It can withstand weapons fire and aid in your regenerative functions. However, once it sustains too much damage it'll put your bodies into stasis lock. Remember: this thing's biological armor. You're a part of it and it's a part of you. If needed, you can also remotely control your shell via subdermal chips in your cerebral processors if you need to disguise yourselves quickly and vice versa. They can shrink and compress so that they can fit in the back storage of your superstructures."

    "Sounds good. Let's get started," Jazz said, unable to resist the urge that caught up his processor. He always wondered what it felt like to live and walk like an Earthling. Now he and two of his fellow warriors got the chance to experience a more hands-on approach. Their plates enveloped them in a mesh of numerous minuscule robots that would alter them in a way that their human cohorts would never thought possible. Soon their bodies became bathed in light within their shells.


    ---


    |Initializing conversion...|

    |Re-booting core processor...|

    |System operations normal...|

    |All cerebral functions running at optimal levels...|

    |Awakening...|

    Chip and a group of other techs watched in awe at the result of the three Autobots' transformation. Their having observed the Pretender transformation process felt akin to watching cocoons metamorphose into butterflies. All of the volunteers discarded their helmets and exhaled
    as the change reached its conclusion when the light dissipated.

    "Impressive," Spike mused, visibly astounded at the changes the Autobot operatives underwent. The human liaison spun towards the mechanical engineer and back to the team of newly altered Cybertronians.

    "I got to give you credit, Wheeljack. They certainly look like the real deal."

    "How are you guys feeling?" Wheeljack asked.

    "Small..." Sunstreaker said, staring back at Prowl who towered over him. The yellow twin felt somewhat daunted not by the sheer size of his fellow Autobot, but at the fact that he was feigning as an organic lifeform of a world he was not native of. He never felt that kind of emotion in his entire existence. "I feel completely... small..."

    "This is amazing!" exclaimed Sideswipe. The youthful soldier laughed himself away as he did handstand, back flips, and other aerobic feats around the garage. Never before had the Autobots seen such cheerfulness in him when he served alongside them. Jazz was not too far off, examining the features of his new organic body as he posed himself towards the reflection of one of the crates.

    “Very nice...” the Autobot spec ops officer whispered in self-admiration. He had light brown skin and sported a goatee that extended to his sideburns. Jazz welcomed the change with great enthusiasm.

    For the three Pretenders, it was one big adjustment that they would have to get used to quickly.


    ---


    Not too long after their little exhibition with the shells, Jazz and the twins scavenged for clothes for their upcoming mission. Prowl tasked the three mechs with Trailbreaker for an exploration of the Tokyo Settlement. Spike volunteered to accompany the team since he was the expedition's chief liaison. He busied himself prepping his standard issue tactical kit, including weapons, ammo, and first aid if the team got into trouble. Marissa tapped Spike from behind and handed him a pocket-sized gray handheld with a light blue screen.

    "Chip thought you might need this. He's been scavenging the internet for information on those things that we encountered a few days ago. The data's been uploaded into the PDA. It's not as good as Jane's, but it gives at least a basic outline into some of the machinery we're up against."

    Spike took a cursory glance at the device and sifted through each entry. Pistols, assault rifles, tanks, aircraft, the works. Upon the next entry within the storage device his face brightened with recognition on the digital image. A portrait of the blue mecha that the Autobots fought earlier was dubbed the 'Sutherland'.

    "Knightmare Frames, eh? Thanks, Marissa. I'll take a look at some more on the way to the city," he said before he paged down through the some final details and pocketed the the device into his jeans. He walked to the side of the garage where the three Pretenders finished changing their clothes.

    "You guys ready?"

    "We're set over here," Jazz said. The white Porsche-turned organic lookalike walked alongside the Lambo twins. Jazz was calm, composed, and wore a white shirt with a men's suit and a green tie. Spike was impressed by the special ops agent, the latter knew good taste when it came to clothing. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker wore casual attire of normal-looking civilians that helped their brighten their youthful appearance. The red twin had auburn hair, with bluish eyes and a curved face that would've made him an instant winner with human women. Sunstreaker's form shared similar qualities with his sibling, save for the blond hair and the deadly gaze he retained from his original robot form. Spike, satisfied with the results, signaled the team to follow him.

    "Alright, let's get Trailbreaker and head out to Tokyo. We could use a little sight-seeing."


    ---


    Downtown
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    On the ride over to the settlement, Jazz and Spike sat in the back and studied the history of this new Earth in great detail from the information they were given. What they've read thus far disturbed them. They stumbled upon entries that outright shocked them. Benjamin Franklin bribed by the British. George Washington's rebellion against the imperium. The failure of the American Revolution...

    "So the United States as a nation never even existed," Spike said with a solemn face.

    "Japan's been turned to a colony, and its people are now called Elevens...” Jazz concluded before he asked: “Remind you of anything?"

    "Yeah, I recall facts about the Irish being indentured servants after they arrived to America. Same for the Italians. Also reminds me of the Industrial era where European nations expanded throughout Africa, China, and India. Of course, we're equally as guilty. I wonder what else is different out here..."

    On the subject of alternate identities, Jazz settled on Jerome Snyder. He is the eldest brother of Chris and Evan Snyder (Sideswipe and Sunstreaker respectively). The three migrated from the Britannian mainland on a business venture to Japan, and came across Spike, who worked as a contractor for the government. Chip was still busy working on producing plausible cover stories for the team if they ever came across a hurdle, so Jazz brought it upon himself to school the twins in Earth culture to help them blend in with the population.

    Once they reached the outer limits of the city, Trailbreaker deposited the group near an avenue where it connected to a series of stores and shops. Jazz fished his jacket's breast pocket and produced four plastic cards. Spike's eyes inspected them as he faced back in his cohort's direction. They were based off the civilian I.D. founded off of the dead facsimile.

    "I.D. Cards?"

    "Courtesy of Chip. Might come in handy."

    "I'll have to thank him later."

    "Alright, Trailbreaker. We're going to be roving around for a bit. You might want to do the same so as not to arouse suspicion," Jazz suggested.

    "Definitely. I'll be staying in communications range in case you need me. And guys, good luck," Trailbreaker said before he left on his own.


    ---


    Night settled in as the four friends explored the Tokyo Settlement. The distance was forgiving since their group were within less than an hour's travel time if they needed to re-stock on certain supplies. While Prowl insisted that the four keep a low profile, it didn't prevent them from having a little bit fun. He decided to place his trust in Spike and Jazz to lead since both were capable of adapting on the fly. They had to play the role of guardians since the twins had a strong tendency to be impulsive in their behavior at times. Spike wanted to give his friends an unofficial 'initiation ceremony' for the transition into human culture. He suggested heading out to a nearby bar, before Sideswipe uttered something.

    "Hard currency, anyone?"

    The other three turned their attention to 'Chris' as he whipped out a small stack of bills out of his khakis. Spike's eyes narrowed at the very sight of them.

    "Where did you get that?”

    "Oh, with the help of a little gizmo Wheeljack whipped up. Got the money from an ATM machine."

    Spike gave a reprimanding stare at the red twin. The SEAL officer needed to have a little word with the wily engineer once he got back to base.

    "You're welcome," Sideswipe said with a boyish, child-like demeanor.
    The team continued onward into the city until they spotted an establishment a few more blocks down called 'Violet Hour'. Spike led them in with Jazz and the twins in tow. It had an elegant feel to it, where the mahogany tables were arranged alongside the windows, and gave an excellent view of outside activity. When they reached the bar, Spike ordered their drinks. The bartender came back and delivered their beer bottles and glass mugs with due haste, as each poured their liquids into their respective mugs. The SEAL led first with his mug raised high while the group followed suit. The Cybertronians shared a similar custom on their world when they drank glasses of high-grade energon for a celebratory occasion.

    "To peace and friendship," Spike began.

    "To peace and friendship," the other three echoed in unison. All of them sipped the frothy gold liquid. Jazz did not know what to think, but drank more of his beer anyway.

    "This ain't too bad!" Sideswipe said, his face slightly contorted as his body tried to adjust to the flavor of the foamy drink.

    "I'd rather have some high-grade..." Sunstreaker frowned. The unfamiliar taste of human alcohol in his mouth left an impression on his taste buds that he wouldn't forget. Oh how he missed Cybertron...

    An audible beep was heard as Spike reached for his cell phone. He glanced at the device and gestured to Jazz. Whatever he saw on the phone, the human commander's face implied that it was something important. Jazz nodded in understanding, and turned to the twins with instructions to wait while he and Spike went towards the window to discuss business matters. By then they were out of sight of the Lambo brothers.

    From of the corner of his eye, Sideswipe spotted a group of thugs beating up an elderly Japanese man. He lightly rapped on his brother's shoulder, pointing in the direction of the gang. Sunstreaker glanced over at his back and watched at the event unfold. Then, he turned away towards the bar and faced down at his drink.

    "We just gonna sit here and do nothing?" the red twin questioned.

    "It doesn't have anything to do with us."

    "Like the Pit it doesn't!" Sideswipe whispered to his brother's ear. "Damn it, he's a defenseless man! We can't just watch by the sidelines with our hands tied!"
    Sunstreaker spun again and considered the scenario as the beating continued. After a moment of consideration, he launched out of his chair and darted outside. Sideswipe quickly went after his sibling as the latter faced himself towards the group of hoodlums that were assaulting the elderly man. The pair quickly caught the attention of the ravenous gang. All of them sported spiked baseball bats, chains, and other assorted contraband weapons.

    Soon the leader of the mob stepped forward, his musculature large and well-defined.

    "What are you looking at, punk?"

    "I was just wondering, is it just me or do certain people here in the city always beat up on the minority?" Sideswipe smirked. These thugs believed that they were facing off against two human outsiders. Little did the gang know they were going to be in for a big surprise.

    "What's this Eleven to you?"

    "Let's just say... I don't take very kindly on those who oppress the weak, especially the elderly,” the red twin snarled.

    "Then perhaps me and my boys'll take out our aggressions on you then!"

    "You're welcome to try," Sideswipe challenged.

    One gangster stepped forward, lunging a blade at him before a fist sent him flying twelve feet into the air. Immediately Sunstreaker and Sideswipe stood back to back as the encirclement closed upon them. Both Pretenders held their ground as the Britannians all swarmed at once. The yellow twin sent three of them keeling over with a swift kick. Sideswipe head-butted one of the taller ones before he launched a sharp right hook along to the man's cheek. Dozens of civilians looked onward as the conflict escalated.

    The brawl continued for a good ten minutes, and gave the twins a much desired workout. All save for the leader got back on his feet, his face swollen with marks and bruises. Everyone else who fought them were unconscious or groaned in pain. Either way, the two siblings gave their opponents a taste of some badly needed punishment.

    "Want some more?" the red Pretender shot out as he cracked his knuckles. No replies were given, every member of the gang was already worn out from the fight earlier.

    "Chris! Evan! That's enough!" Jazz called from afar as he walked to the source of the commotion.

    "You'll have to forgive these guys. They had a little too much to drink," the older bot smiled before he dragged the twins back into the bar. The gang that assaulted the elderly Japanese man recovered themselves and scurried off in fear, leaving the Pretenders free to resume their business.

    After the situation settled to a calm, Jazz turned to the two siblings and warned them with a brotherly-like disposition. "You need to be careful out there. We're trying to maintain our cover."

    "We couldn't sit here and do nothing," Sideswipe argued.

    Jazz whispered to the red twin's ear and insisted: "Look man, I know this whole subservient thing with the Japanese is hard to swallow. but we have to keep a low profile. We can't help every Japanese person we come across. Trust me, I'm feeling the same way you do. Come on, let's get Spike and pay for the drinks so we can vamoose."


    ---


    Near the main lounge area of the bar, there was a collective of customers scattered around a TV connected to the wall. Whatever was happening caught their interest in a heartbeat. On the display was Suzaku Kururugi, who was covered in a straightjacket that constricted his movement.

    "Hey look, something's happening!"

    "Who is that?”

    One masked man filled the television screen. A squad of Sutherlands surrounded the unknown individual, whose black gold-trimmed cape flapped as the winds blew through the air. Commotion filled the entire area as the mysterious human stood atop a personal transport that belonged to the late Prince Clovis.

    "The man who killed Clovis... was myself!" exclaimed the individual.

    Spike pulled out his cellular and hurriedly called back the base.


    ---


    Autobot Outpost
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    Chip leaned against the garage wall as he smoked his cigarette. he discarded the object and walked back inside through the back door of the garage. The building was dimly lit as everyone preoccupied themselves in preparation for Spike's upcoming assignment.

    "Yes?"

    "Chip, it's Spike. Are you on your laptop right now?"

    "No but I was just about to do some work. Why?"

    "Turn on the local news channel. Get Prowl and Marissa there as well."

    "Is there something wrong?"

    "No, but it's something that they need to see. Our mysterious savior decided to make an appearance."

    Not another second went to waste as Chip pulled his laptop out of sleep mode and initiated a link to the local news network. It didn't take long until Prowl and Marissa caught wind of Spike's call. All three associates perched in front of his screen as they watched the spectacle with Suzaku's rescue unfold. What they saw before their eyes baffled them completely. The acting consul in charge of the public execution of Suzaku Kururugi ordered his release to the entity named Zero. It became a chaotic situation where intent to put the Japanese man to death was replaced by a grim determination in allowing him to go free. The vigilante took advantage of the chaos and pulled Suzaku to safety atop a connecting bridge, disappearing from public view. One thing's for sure, the name of the individual who pulled off this daring little stunt would forever be imprinted on the minds of viewers around the colony.

    Zero.

    End of Chapter 2
     
  8. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    After several months of not posting for this story I decided to jump back on the wagon again and gauge reactions of the fic. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 will be posted shortly.
     
  9. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.

    Rated: T for violence and language. (additional content possibly to follow)

    Lelouch ponders future action in Area 11, while Spike undergoes a covert mission in retrieving information concerning the whereabouts of the Golden Disk.




    Chapter 3: Dark Shadows



    Brighton Estate
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Inside Duke Brighton's household a chess match was taking place. Behind its oak doors the halls were elaborate with silk curtains and frescoed paintings that added a Victorian feel of the decor. Each floor was constructed out of fine marble, a carryover from the legacy of the Roman Empire. Such monumental enhancements was something that only aristocratic families such as Brighton's could afford.

    On the second level a large crowd gathered around the two competitors. One of the players was a young man in his teens, with jet-black hair and violet eyes filled with determination. Outwardly he appeared as nothing other than an overconfident schoolboy. Members of the audience, including the duke were perplexed at his disposition. Whispers were rampant among the nobles as they watched onward.

    "Arrogant little upstart. Who does he think he is?"

    "A student against a noble? How atrocious."

    "He seems to be holding well against the duke, though."

    Chess fascinated Lelouch Lamperouge ever since he was a child. It was a game that led him to understand himself more as he grew older. He enjoyed it because he felt that with each opponent he played against was a test that measured his intellectual limits. While each opponent had sixteen pieces, only the person that used them in an economic fashion would prove himself the better player.

    Rivalz Cardemonde stood afar in anticipation of Lelouch's eventual triumph against his adversary. Duke Brighton was a large fellow, overweight if not haughty and indifferent towards those he considered to be lesser beings. He held a hard gaze at his younger foe, an indirect manner of challenging the boy to best him.

    "Preoccupied on delaying the inevitable, pup?"

    "No. Far from it, actually."

    Several minutes passed, and the odds were not in the duke's favor. The Britannian ex-prince analyzed the pieces that were situated across the board furtively. His right hand twirled with his black queen around his thumb.
    Auxiliary units which consisted of two knights and a bishop cornered the white queen to the edge of the playing field. The knights were positioned in a manner where their placement allowed them to 'fork' their target. Lelouch's bishop provided support by blocking the white king to prevent it from eluding their field coverage and make headway for the final stroke.

    After a few seconds spent observing the positions of the remaining forces from both sides, he decided it was time to execute his endgame.

    All conditions are cleared. The path to victory lays open before me.

    “Checkmate,” he declared. The aristocrats that surrounded him and his competitor gasped in astonishment. Not only did Lelouch defeat another noble, he also defeated one of the more renowned chess players in Area 11. The duke staggered back in disbelief, completely vexed at the outcome of the game. Rivalz patted Lelouch on the shoulder, and commended him on his victory before they went to secure the winnings and depart.


    ---


    “Time?”

    The blue-haired Britannian glanced at his watch. “Eight minutes and forty-two seconds.”

    Damn, I'm lagging, he thought to himself as he rubbed his right temple.

    “Is something wrong, Lelouch?”

    “Oh, I just got a slight headache. Not too much to worry over.”

    Except for the fact that I now command a group of terrorists who share a deep hatred for the empire. A group that deserves careful attention.

    Fatigue wore away at the ex-Britannian prince's mind. Living a double life as a student and caped vigilante was not an easy task. Having spent numerous nights plotting and conducting surgical strikes against the Britannian Empire and rogue criminal elements proved taxing if it weren't for the assistance from the Shinjuku resistance. Then he thought back on the one woman who granted him the power which he has in his possession.

    C.C.

    Geass.

    The ability of controlling the will of others was a convenient power, so much to the point that it was frightening. Though some of the senior individuals within his resistance group questioned how he managed to procure certain assets for their war against Britannia, he finagled his way out through the explanation that he secured favors from certain individuals who shared in their anger against the empire.

    Life felt akin to chess for Lelouch. Plotting moves and countermoves in this particular game was like child's play to him. For a person of his age, he was highly adept at it and held a great sense of depth perception when it came to the social climate of the world and international politics. He founded the comparison of reality to the game he frequently engaged himself in utterly chilling. Decisions that were rendered had consequences that could make or break individuals. While he appeared to be a slacker on the surface, he possessed a keen intellect that instilled fear among his enemies.

    He was also known to be attached, if not overly protective of his younger sister Nunnally. For the two of them, each day held its own unique challenges, and both took it in strides. Living amongst the civilian population in Area 11 opened their eyes to the sufferings of the Japanese. Robbed of all rights and freedoms granted by the previous national government, the citizens spend each of their waking hour living no better than slaves under the iron fist of the Holy Britannian Empire.

    None save for a select few knew of their royal heritage. The siblings adopted their mother's maiden name Lamperouge for fear that they might be discovered by hostile elements of the imperial family and become targets for assassination. It was a frightening prospect that Lelouch wished to avoid at all costs. At the same time, he wanted to dismantle the Britannian regime ruled by his father, and seek out the truth behind his mother's death. He suspected her assassination to be an inside job. There was simply no way for mere terrorists to breach the imperial palace without assistance from someone in the upper echelons of the monarchy. To go at such lengths and make the event look like a terrorist attack irked him completely. His reaction to the whole ordeal prompted him to confront the emperor, who was nonchalant at the death of Marianne. Lelouch thus discarded his royal status, and was exiled from the homeland alongside his sister to Japan as bargaining chips.

    In time, he would make the empire pay dearly for the injustice they both suffered, and avenge the death of their mother.

    He would have to calculate his moves accordingly, lest he falls victim to his own insatiable thirst for vengeance. His plans against the imperium required a certain level of finesse and subterfuge that the terrorist cell was more than capable of. One of his original plans involved bringing his childhood friend Suzaku into the fold. However, Suzaku being his usual naive self, kindly refused the offer. He went the honest route and faced the trial of Prince Clovis' murder anyway, in spite of the odds stacked against him.

    Damn you for being an idiot, Suzaku.

    Thankfully the man was spared from death, since Lelouch introduced Zero to the world as the murderer of the empire's third prince. However, Lelouch wanted to retain the option of having Suzaku as his sister's guardian before he begins his campaign against Britannia. When the time came, he would dispose of the current regime and replace it with one that did not differentiate people based on their wealth and social status. A better place in which Nunnally could live in happily.

    Happiness. Something that's been in short supply lately.

    “Lelouch? Earth to Lelouch!”

    Rivalz's voice snapped the ex-prince back to reality.

    “Are you sure you're alright?”

    Lelouch offered a smile to assuage his friend's concern and erase any hint of suspicion: “Trust me. Let's just head to school.”


    ---


    Autobot Outpost
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    Daylight flooded the Autobot's Shinjuku outpost. Feeling enthused for a jog inside the factory, Spike stretched his limbs and ran around the upper ring level before he stumbled onto a preoccupied Wheeljack. The engineer held a fusion torch in his black metallic fist, which he lit upon a small oval-shaped device. Spike didn't know what to make of it, and Wheeljack noticed the curious look the human gave when he saw the SEAL lift a brow with child-like fascination.

    "Am I intruding on something?"

    "Nope. I just finished up my newest invention," replied the white mech.

    "What is it?"

    "It's a micro-relay node. This little gimmick extends the line of sight for our communications by several kilometers through laser induction."

    Spike shifted his weight on the rails. "In essence, they're repeaters."

    "Exactly."

    "Sounds like an interesting device."

    "Wait 'til you see it in action. Speaking of action, Prowl needs to talk to you,"
    Wheeljack said.

    "Did he say anything specific?"

    "It concerns the upcoming mission."

    "I figured as much," Spike sighed. "Thanks, Wheeljack."


    ---


    Elsewhere, Prowl leaned against the holographic display as it changed into a 3D representation of the Tokyo Settlement. They were segregated into clusters of colors, where the majority of the city was lit in light blue. A few select structures further beyond the premises of the nearby industrial sectors were highlighted in red. Every map on the settlement was collected from real-time satellite imagery when Chip managed to hack into the Britannian military network, before he broke off to avoid suspicion of tampering with their space-based systems. It would prove invaluable in the team's future endeavors.

    "I heard you needed to see me, Prowl."

    "I did," the deputy commander admitted. "We've been prepping for tonight's mission. Since the Britannians have committed a lot of their resources in finding this 'Zero', we can move about a little more freely within the city. We have ascertained the location of a contracting firm called Lukas International. It's a business partner tied with a group called the Rosenberg Institute, and both are engaged in military research."

    Prowl clicked on the pad to his terminal where a light orange rectangle stood out from one of the glowing red structures.

    "Inside the CEO's office there is a computer terminal which has information pertaining to the identities of personnel involved in the science and technology division. We need to take a closer look at the data and find out if they know anything about the Golden Disk."

    Another keystroke materialized a green arrow into Spike's point of insertion.
    "You'll be entering through a ventilation shaft which links to the rest of the firm. Chip will be on standby to initiate a 'shutdown' for this section of the city before you get inside. It will give the impression that there's a temporary power failure and place the building under emergency power."

    "What's my time limit?"

    "Thirty-five to forty minutes, tops."

    Spike scratched his chin pensively and asked: "When we breached the network couldn't we have ascertained the location of the personnel database from there?"

    "Unfortunately, when Chip hacked inside we found out that the terminal itself is an isolated workstation separate from the one the CEO usually uses. Thus, that only leaves us with the option of retrieving the data through physical means."

    "Which is where I come into play."

    "Yes," Prowl replied. "Trailbreaker's already on stand-by with Ironhide and Nightbeat. We'llbe deploying the new relay nodes that Wheeljack's manufactured and do some field testing before we start tonight. Your NSA associates has a tactical kit ready for you with Trailbreaker at the moment."

    "Right. You know, I've been thinking about the battle when we first got here in Shinjuku. Do you think this Zero rescued us intentionally?"

    "To be honest, I tried not to dwell on the matter too much. However, I believe it to be purely coincidental that he managed to pull it off. Why he killed Prince Clovis is beyond me. Regardless, we must avoid direct confrontation with the Britannians and any other powers they're contesting with."

    "Somehow, I have a feeling this is going to get much worse than we thought it to be..." Spike whispered to himself.


    ---


    Ashford Academy
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    It was the same routine when it came to high school life in Ashford Academy. Lelouch drummed his fingers lightly on the table as the teacher prodded on through the physics lesson. He maintained little to no effort in trying to keep his eyes open, twirling a pencil in his right handto alleviate his boredom.

    Thoughts of the speech his father made shortly after the little spectacle of the cat chase around the school two days ago clawed at his conscious. Evolution: the one word he used as 'progress' for Britannia, the imperial scourge ever unceasing in its continual campaign of dominance and tyranny of the Earth. To Lelouch it was nothing other than an excuse to trample over others for its own twisted purposes, something that could not be forgiven. It's this ideal that propels him to destroy the empire at all costs, even if he has to lie, manipulate, and destroy in order to achieve his goals. After all, the life he lived felt nothing more than an illusion.

    When classes finally finished Lelouch darted out and occupied himself in the school library. He sat behind his laptop as news of Zero circulated around the internet. He became an instant celebrity, baffling authorities when he snatched Kururugi out of the clutches of Jeremiah Gottwald. One slim finger struck another key on the computer as he scrolled further into the details.
    Jeremiah Gottwald became demoted under the suspicion that he conspired with Zero to allow his prisoner to go free. Lelouch chuckled inwardly as he read further on the aftermath following the rescue. Those that followed Gottwald's command were also stripped of their rank and privileges, reduced to nothing more than pilots under the auspices of the imperium. Such actions were a fatal blow to the morale of Gottwald and his troops. The 'Orange Incident' would forever be imprinted in the minds of the populace where one certain caped individual dared to defy the empire and make a mockery of the ideals which it held in high regard.

    Then he spotted an entry into the announcement of his elder sister Cornelia li Britannia taking over as viceroy. When she took charge of Area 11 she began a massive manhunt in finding the murderer of Clovis. Elements of the Yamato Alliance and the Japanese Liberation Front were swiftly decimated by her forces. He scrolled through the texts and founded that her assistants were none other than General Andreas Darlton and Lord Gilbert Guilford, her two most trusted advisors. If he was going to ascertain the truth behind his mother's death, he would have to do it soon.

    The memory of Clovis begging for his life before he was shot emanated. He mentioned that Schneizel and Cornelia knew the details about the assassination. Thus, since Cornelia had a penchant for frontline combat Lelouch would start with her first.

    "Perhaps it's time I played my hand, dear sister," the ex-prince said as he gazed towards the sunset. Its orange hue faded slowly as the hour ticked by.


    ---


    Lukas International
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Neon-colored lights dotted across the cityscape. Gray clouds billowed in the darkness above, which gave Spike his opportunity to shine once more. Clad in an unmarked black kevlar bi-weave suit, he stood atop the adjacent complex that linked to the firm: a tower seven stories in height. His face was shrouded in a mask where no one could identify him. In his mind, he prayed that the plan with the shutdown of the building's commercial power worked. The information Chip gave him prior to his departure indicated that there was only a small team of security and civilian personnel inside the structure, so he would have free reign through its inner recesses, find the terminal and steal the data.

    "How's the link working?" asked Spike.

    "Line's clear. Looks like the micro-relay nodes work perfectly," Prowl replied.

    "Good to hear," Spike answered tersely, mindful to keeping the transmissions short.

    The past several hours were furious when the Autobots carefully maneuvered their way to different sectors of Tokyo deploying Wheeljack's new device. Tests were conducted to ensure the security of their communications line. 'Groundhogs', as the NSA agents dubbed them, were designed to dig into the local terrain. Each relay was placed in a fashion where only the expedition knew of their locations. and invisible to the naked eye. It allowed them perfect coverage of the surrounding area around the capital that linked back to Shinjuku, just enough so that they could see and hear everything within several kilometers from beyond the ghetto. Any curious onlooker who managed to stumble on the device would force it to self-destruct, leaving no trace of evidence.

    Time for a little midnight stroll.

    Spike jumped across to the firm's from the rooftop of the connecting tower. Traffic noises were rampant as the streets raged with vehicular activity from below. The SEAL spent a moment gazing at the city in admiration before he continued with his mission. Approximately twenty four meters from his position, a camera hovered near the entrance where he would breach through and enter. He guessed the range of the camera to be no more than ninety feet, which was well within the range of his jammer.

    Recollections of the old days with the CIA and the navy came back to mind. He participated in dozens of missions where he had to kill, steal, and destroy. If there was one thing Spike learned: it's that there was no place on Earth that could not be breached. Everything had a weakness, it was simply a matter of whether it could be found and exploited. The SEAL considered this mission a cakewalk in comparison.

    He drew a breath and exhaled before he carried on with his task. In one quick motion he brought out his silencer, equipped with the optically charged potentiator (OCP) and initiated the jamming at the lens of the security camera. The commando was fond of the OCP; it had the ability to temporarily disable all manner of electronics: everything from computers to TV screens and light fixtures. The camera's spasms of its internal wirings indicated a successful jamming, as he made a quick dash towards the ventilation entrance to avoid detection before the camera reinitialized itself.

    He reached into one of his pants pockets and pulled a small kit containing a set of lockpicks. The SEAL dispensed one of the thin instruments and skillfully worked through the lock's mechanisms. After a few clicks, he clutched on the handle and proceeded into the room where the air ventilation unit. In the center spun a fan blade that rotated in a speed which could hack anything into mincemeat.

    "Alright, I'm near the insertion point," Spike said through his headpiece.

    "Stand by," Chip replied.

    After a few seconds, the swirling blade fan came to a sudden halt.

    "Alright Spike, you're clear to move."

    Only a fifteen-second window. Plenty of time, Spike thought quietly to himself.

    Not a moment longer, the SEAL jumped through before emergency power came up.

    "I'm in," Spike said as he mounted his tri-focal night vision goggles.
    Everything in sight was bathed in green white light. The passageways of the tower had blue carpeting, and the ceiling lights were offline. It made moving around and blending in the shadows easier for Spike. He carefully peeked around the halls as he moved onward, mindful of the roving security personnel. The ones he encountered so far walked with flashlights beamed in front of them as they conducted their patrols with sidearms readied.

    Thankfully none spotted him, since stealth was part of his many crafts.
    In his mind he felt akin to a rat in a lab experiment, wandering through the maze-like complexity of Lukas International as he continued travelling. To his left, the SEAL moved while crouched at a brisk pace towards an open air duct. Spike took a moment to scan his surroundings before he maneuvered himself (albeit uncomfortably) into the space. After nearly seven minutes spent navigating through a series of interlocked ducts, Spike crept outside to a wide and dimly lit room where computer terminals were scattered across the area. Each separated by walls that made it easier to hide. From what Spike has seen, there was no one in proximity to his location.
    Seventeen minutes so far.

    "I'm situated near the network office," Spike called as he checked his map through his OPSAT (operational satellite) display from his wrist.

    "The chief exec's office should be about thirty meters away from the western column of workstations," Chip replied.

    Spike moved as swiftly as he could through the hallway. The NSA liaison took measured steps before he reached the end of his route. After he reached three-fourths of his path he paused for a moment and examined the area before he proceeded towards the door of his target. On the wall next to the entry point was a panel with numeric keys. Spike mentally cursed to himself before the intelligence analyst interrupted the SEAL's train of thought.

    "You should be near the objective now, Spike."

    "It's secured with a keypad next to the door."

    "Hmm. Uh-oh, incoming guard closing on your six," Chip warned on the comm line.

    Spike rolled behind a wall adjacent to the CEO's office. The SEAL crouched his body and inched his head around the corner. From his hiding spot he watched a lone guard as the latter veered right towards the NSA liaison's direction. The guard sported a blue uniform with a service cap and tie, pistol and flashlight in hand. Spike backed away as the man directed his light at the entrance of the chief executive's office. Once the guard reached his destination Spike unsheathed his combat knife and grabbed the unsuspecting man from behind, with the blade's tip aimed towards the throat.

    "Hi," Spike said in a venomous tone. "I'd drop the gun if I were you."

    Frightened, the man complied and dropped the pistol on the deck. "Who are you?"

    "You're in no position to ask questions," Spike replied as he kept the knife inched at the guard's jugular. "You assigned security detail to the CEO's office?"

    "Yes!" shouted the guard in a muffled voice.

    "Keep it down unless you want to bleed all over the floor. Tell you what, let's play a little game. Pick a number between one and ten."

    The man's voice answered weakly, his mind gripped with fear: "Seven?"

    "Heh, lucky. Tell me something useful."

    "Wh-What?"

    "What's the access code into the CEO's office?"

    "I can't tell you."

    "Perhaps you want to go another round?"

    "No! Wait! It's 15763. 15763!" the guard repeated.

    "Thanks for the info. However, I can't allow to you live."

    "No, please I --" the man's voice got cut off as the SEAL tightened his choke hold. The amount of pressure he exerted on the hapless guard's throat was enough to render him unconscious. Spike hoisted the guard over his shoulder as he crouched and proceeded towards his goal. He keyed the numbers and quickly went inside with the unconscious guard in tow. Not another moment was wasted as he locked the door to prevent any intrusion. Afterwards, he peeked around and observed two separate terminals situated throughout the darkened room. One was placed in the far right corner that was different in configuration from the one in front of him. It had an LCD monitor and keyboard, both devices connected to a tower chassis placed alongside a file cabinet. Moonlight spilled through the window sill behind the CEO's desk.
    "I've found the terminal. Hang tight one sec, I'm going to interface with it."
    He lifted his left wrist upwards and pulled wirings connected to his OPSAT, linking it to the standalone terminal. The connection created a virtual interface between the OPSAT and the CEO's computer. Inside the wrist-mounted device was an algorithm Chip made that could breach whatever encryption protected the executive's most sensitive files and open them up for access.

    "All right, I'm in. Give me a moment, I'm taking a looksee through the data."
    Spike trudged through the numerous directories stored within the computer. Names were listed on the glowing monitor screen as he cross-referenced identities of the different researchers associated with classified projects. One name came up that immediately caught the veteran officer's attention.

    "Spike, this is Prowl. Did you find any references to the Golden Disk or the facsimiles?"

    "No, I got something else. A name of somebody I'm familiar with: Thomas Arkeville," Spike answered back.

    "Thomas Arkeville?" Prowl repeated.

    "Yeah, used to work with him during my field ops days in the CIA."

    "How does he fit into all this?" the Autobot strategist asked.

    "Better if we asked him in person. I got some files right here."

    "Hate to interrupt your conversation, Spike," Chip chimed in. "But you got company fifteen meters outside of the office. Three guards coming in, along with five others that are eight meters behind them."

    "I'm going to get a copy of the data and download it into the OPSAT."

    "Might want to make it fast, man. They're getting closer..." said Chip, whose voice showed signs of concern and anxiousness.

    "Gee, thanks Chip," Spike shot out sarcastically. The SEAL remained cool in spite of the pressure mounting against him. Sweat beads dripped on his face as time ticked. Once the download finished, he drew out his pistol and fired a pair of rounds into the terminal, effectively destroying the computer and the data it stored. Much to his dismay, the building's power came back on, illuminating the entire office.

    Not good.

    "Gordon, you in there?!" shouted one of the security personnel.

    Spike slid open the window and snuck out before the guards crashed through the main door. All of them leveled their pistols, only to find that one of their own laid on the ground, his body rolled to the side. The head of the security team peered out the window only to find nothing but winds blowing through the air.


    ---


    Spike shimmied his way around back to the starting point and dashed back to the alley where Trailbreaker awaited. He climbed the ladder down and unmasked himself before he went into the passenger's seat of the disguised robot. The SEAL took a moment to examine his prize: tons of data stored within the OPSAT that ran numerous lines of code.

    “Glad you made it out, Spike.”

    “Thanks. We better leave now while we still can,” the human officer suggested.

    While he continued to study the information stored on his device, it stopped short at the list of names that he read earlier back at Lukas International.

    Thomas Arkeville's name was ingrained into Spike's conscious. There were a lot of questions he wanted to ask of the former CIA officer. He could not do anything but bide his time as Trailbreaker shifted gears back towards Shinjuku.

    End of Chapter 3
     
  10. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.

    Rated: T for violence and language. (additional content possibly to follow)

    The Decepticons and Britannians prepare for an incursion against the Autobots hiding in Shinjuku. Spike tells the team some information regarding Thomas Arkeville.




    Chapter 4: Compass



    Lukas International Primary Laboratory
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Dozens of spy satellites circled the Earth's atmosphere. Each maintained a constant vigil over its area of coverage. However, there was a specific one that fed streams of data back into the hub that it linked to. Digitally constructed information bits formulated a sequence of pictures on a massive monitor screen, which caught the attentive eye of one man hidden deep in the confines of the lowest sub-level of the research center. Hacked satellite recordings of a battle between the Autobot expedition and the Britannian Sutherlands cycled through the display, the man remaining studious of the encounter of the two groups.

    "So they finally decided to send their lapdogs over after all. Interesting."
    Behind him, a pair of doors swished open as a familiar malevolent being stepped through, the clamor of its footsteps echoed with each landing. It had wings which pointed upwards, and red optics which glowed from beyond the darkness of the room.

    "What's this, Mr. Arkeville?" asked the alien, its mechanical voice shrill and otherworldly.

    "It would appear that my government has sent agents over to this side," Arkeville uttered as he turned to face himself towards the giant alien sentient.

    "And the Autobots have followed them, as well."

    "Or rather, they followed the Autobots," the former CIA official finished. Thomas Arkeville was a tall man with a medium build, aged in his fifties. He carried with him experience that showed in the scars he obtained through numerous clandestine operations conducted around the world. Once seen as the 'go-to' guy in the field of cybernetics, his methods in regards to technological advancement by fusing man and machine were deemed too radical by the senior leadership of the agency. One could only go so far to secure the assistance of power-hungry bureaucrats whom he viewed as inefficient, greedy and oblivious when it came to operational management of an advanced field which they took for granted.

    Those in the highest tiers of the agency acknowledged the fact that the first group of volunteers who underwent the transformation into cyborgs had a high rate of success through all their missions, which carried favor in the eyes of the federal government. The cyborgs' durability and operational capabilities were enhanced tenfold through increased physical strength, endurance, visual acuity and other characteristics which helped immensely in field operations.

    Unfortunately for Arkeville, that success was short-lived.
    After his group of field operatives' modifications, unexpected side-effects came about. Reports of brain damage, psychological trauma, shorter life expectancies and eventual death reached the ears of the politicians in Washington, which fell back to the directors at Langley. What resulted afterwards was a backlash that wrecked Arkeville's reputation for life, and led to the downfall of the cybernetics bureau, killing any hope of reviving the program in the foreseeable future.

    While it made a dent to his ego, it did not deter him from his plans and paying back the CIA for the suffering he endured. When Arkeville couldn't turn to those who ran the intelligence community for help, he decided to play the devil and engage in more dangerous pursuits. He hired foreigners from around the world who severed their ties to the agency. Deals were made, and everyone won something for keeps.

    Of course, these offerings did not come without a price. In spite of the gifts that Arkeville granted in the form of cybernetic enhancements in exchange for money, his subjects' newfound existence as hybrids resulted in the same side effects in which the CIA volunteers suffered from. The only feasible 'measures' that he offered to his clients came in the form of psychotropic drugs and sedatives to ease the pains that gradually developed during the course of their evolution. In reality, those same measures were nothing more than a means to control a pack of wild dogs that were feral and had to be kept on a tight leash.

    Thus, he operated an army whose dependence on these substances determined whether they lived or die. They were guerillas, mercenaries, soldiers and terrorists. Individuals whom he deemed expendable in his endless quest for power and personal gain. Since the agency lacked any backbone to grant him further funding and support for his operations, he decided to push his odds further and sought the aid of the Decepticons, who were hidden in the bottom tip of South America.

    He offered the Decepticons something they couldn't refuse: the location of the ancient Golden Disk which was held in a secure Autobot facility within the Arctic. In return, they granted him the tools and resources necessary to allow him to further his research in cybernetics. While they could have easily eliminated him from existence, they figured that since he contributed to their escape and infiltration into the Britannian Empire they would make use of him and play on his desire for vengeance. Arkeville 'swore' his loyalty to the Decepticons. Of course, that loyalty only showed on the surface. His personal agenda took precedence over whatever schemes that Starscream and Megatron had in store for the future.

    "With the Americans and the Autobots here, it looks like there's going to be trouble," the former CIA cybernetics chief said.

    "Their real welcome is long overdue. Perhaps it would be best if we send the troopers and give them a proper greeting," Starscream grinned, blue plated fists clutched together.

    "The troopers? At this stage?" Arkeville said with a furrowed brow.

    "Yes. If the Autobots are here then they will most definitely undo the machinations upon which we've worked very hard to keep secret,” the aerospace commander beamed at his human associate. “And we can't let them spoil our fun now, can we?”

    Arkeville's facial lines twisted into a frown. “No, I suppose not.”


    ---


    Government Bureau
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Cornelia li Britannia was not pleased with the progress of the search for the vigilante known as Zero. The violet haired princess, nicknamed the 'Witch of Britannia' by her enemies, wanted straight answers. On her left side stood Guilford and Darlton: who supported her in the recent conquest of the Middle Eastern Federation, now called Area 18. When one viewed the princess on the surface she was a warrior, ruthless and deadly. Though members of her inner circle knew she had a soft side as well, where she is renowned to having a doting affection for her younger sister Euphemia. It was something that she never showed publicly.

    Daily briefs from her staff were part of her regimen as viceroy when it came to dealing with domestic affairs. Cornelia was never one for formality, always getting right to the point. While she proved her brilliance time and again in the battlefield through her leadership and command abilities, she lacked the strategic prowess that her younger half-brother Lelouch possessed.
    In her heart she harbored a deep respect for the lad, who proved more than often that he was too clever for his own good. Then the assassination happened. Memories of the day that Marianne laid slain at the stairway of the Aries imperial villa haunted her thoughts. Even though the empress was originally a commoner, her meteoric rise to the throne shattered the prestige which the aristocrats favored so greatly for centuries. Cornelia grew secret feelings of contempt over the years towards those who constantly disrespected the late consort. Marianne's previous career as a Knightmare pilot brought inspiration among many, including the princess herself.
    All the work she spent towards leading the investigation and not a single suspect caught. Cornelia wanted to make up for the loss with the blood of those responsible. She knew that no amount of dead bodies would undo the death of Lady Marianne and her two children. Her train of thought was interrupted when Darlton began the briefing in earnest.

    "Viceroy, we've obtained intelligence of strange sightings out near the Shinjuku ghetto. Word is that they're Knightmare Frames of unknown configuration."

    The square-jawed general handed a manilla folder with documentation of reports and digital photographs downloaded from the imperium's spy satellites and Knightmare Frames that engaged these unknown mecha in combat. His lips held a thin line as he listened to the princess' reaction in light of this new information.

    "Unknown configuration? Any chance of determining of what their affiliation may be?" Cornelia questioned as she studied the photographs. Their outward appearance was strange. In one of the photographs she observed a red facial decal on one of the supposed 'Knightmare Frames'. Surprisingly it was humanoid in appearance, its external layer bore pale white armor with marks in-between, and a '4' symbol on its chest. From what she saw, there was no visible cockpit. If there was one, it was integrated somewhere inside its torso.
    "From what we've collected so far, we suspect them to be of E.U. origin. And if they are, they're ones that we have never seen before in our lives," Darlton offered.

    "This machine looks very strange. Is it possible that they belong to other terrorist groups operating within Area 11?" Cornelia inquired.

    Guilford stepped up and adjusted his glasses. "Not that we're aware of, Your Highness. Given what we presently know, perhaps it would be best if we asked those who participated in the battle in Shinjuku."

    "I'm inclined to agree. Bring Gottwald and his subordinates in here," the viceroy ordered.

    "At once, Your Highness," Guilford replied.


    ---


    Through the doors of the chamber adjacent to the conference room came the members of the Pureblood faction: Jeremiah Gottwald, Viletta Nu, and Kewell Soresi. The three pilots suspected that whatever was in store for them within that room clearly wasn't good. Based on what they've knew about Cornelia, she was not the kind of person to brook failure from those under her command.

    The guards that held their lances in place raised them to allow the trio to pass as they advanced forward. Inside the vast chamber awaited a group of ministers and officials responsible for the governorship of Area 11. Cornelia was seated at the far end of the U-shaped table, her posture firm but relaxed as she adjusted her uniform.

    "You summoned us, Your Highness?" Jeremiah asked, trying to remain some semblance of dignity in the face of what was to come. He, along with his two cohorts, bowed their heads in respect to the second daughter of the imperial family.

    "I did. Do you know why you're here?" the princess queried, her visage lacking a display of any form of emotion, but instead tried to gauge of what the former acting consul's responses would be based on his expressions and body language. Even though his head was lowered, he could see that her eyes remained observant and hawk-like. He felt that they were like twin daggers ready to stab through him any instant. "I am not certain, princess."

    "You suspected that I would still kill you for your failure to execute Suzaku and capture Zero? I am beyond that point of pettiness. While I am not one to tolerate incompetence, I am not totally unforgiving. It would appear that fate has dealt us an unexpected hand. Henceforth, I am giving you three an opportunity to reclaim your honor."

    Cornelia's statement drew a mixture of surprise and relief for the three loyalists. She gestured them to take seats and glance at the information which she studied closely through the computer displays placed in front of each seat of the conference table. "I want you to take a look at the photographs closely. Do you recognize it?"

    The aquamarine haired pilot shook his head at the pictorial display. Villetta was quick to do the same, before all eyes focused on Kewell. He scratched his right temple as he looked closer and snapped his fingers when the memory of the encounter surfaced.

    "Well?" Cornelia asked.

    "One of the other pilots that fought during the battle sighted this mech. He reported that it also possessed transformation capability," Kewell recalled.

    "So I've been told," the princess said frankly with curious eyes. She felt she was talking to a man who came out of the psychiatric ward.

    "Yes, Your Highness,” the blond Pureblood replied.

    “Why was I not informed of this prior to my arrival?”

    “Viceroy, most of our efforts were concentrated on stopping the terrorist cell that managed to eliminate many of our number and kill Prince Clovis. We never had any time to conduct a proper investigation when the withdrawal order came through. The pilot did confirm that these mecha had the ability to transform based on the recordings fed through his factsphere," Kewell said.

    “Do the recordings still exist?”

    “I'm afraid not, Your Highness. The pilot that contacted me died before he could transmit anything. And his mech was destroyed in the battle,” Kewell added, wary of what her next reply would be.

    “That is not an excuse!” Cornelia roared, her palms slammed on the surface of the table. All of the officials save for Darlton and Guilford cowed at her immense display of rage. It was ingrained within their minds that it would be wise to never incur the wrath of the princess. To do anything as such would be akin to asking for a death sentence. “Regardless of how trivial the situation appeared to be, I still should've been told about it! Not a single soul mentioned of this. I will not tolerate the presence of unknown forces, let alone in a territory under my jurisdiction!”

    The three waited a moment as the second princess regained her composure.

    "I'm sorry, the death of Clovis is starting to get to me. Here is your mission: you'll be joining two companies of Knightmares commanded by Lord Jacoby as advisors to Shinjuku and ascertain the possible presence of other terrorist groups operating in Area 11. Should you happen to encounter any hostility from the locals, you may eliminate them and whatever terrorists are being harbored within the ghetto," Cornelia commanded. “If possible, capture any survivors.”

    Viletta, Jeremiah, and Kewell rose in unison. "Yes, Your Highness!"


    ---


    Omotesando Mall
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Spike, Marissa and the twins stayed in close proximity of each other through the mall in the Tokyo concession area. The two senior human agents conferred with Prowl and suggested that a lease be secured within the premises of the city where resources were readily accessible. In their minds, they needed to expand closer to the capital so that they could gather more intelligence. What other way than to secure a contract for an empty building and set up shop on the outer premises of the capital as a private business firm?

    Once their transactions with the group responsible for the management of the property concluded, they decided to explore the mall. The four were lifted through the escalator to the upper promenade of the complex, amazed at its sheer size and the liveliness of the hundreds of shoppers that roamed throughout the numerous floors.

    One restaurant caught Marissa's eye as she signalled Spike and the Lambo siblings to follow her. The SEAL raised a brow at the name of the restaurant in question: 'Beacon'. He tilted his head towards the establishment and proceeded inside along with his three comrades. The aroma of steaks and other dishes in the works caught his nose by surprise. Wondrous smells filled the air as the cooks fervently worked to feed the many customers that were packed inside the restaurant.

    It's amazing how our realities parallel each other in so many ways... Spike thought quietly.

    Upon their entry, the four-person group spotted Jazz and Chip as they engorged themselves in whatever the restaurant had to offer. Spike and Marissa eyed that Chip had a plate with a slice of finely cooked steak, doused with pepper, green beans and mashed potatoes on the side. 'Jerome' chanced upon the unfamiliar realm of culinary delights and decided to try out some of the restaurant's seafood. The four new arrivals were quick to make their orders, and Spike was in a mood for some afternoon steak. It gave leeway for the team to get down right to business as they eased themselves into the steakhouse's atmosphere.

    "How'd the lease go?" Jazz began, arms stretched across the seat.
    A smile formed on the edge of Marissa's lips. "Well, we managed to get some space that occupies a couple of blocks within the city, so we got operating room there. Prowl sent word that there's a shipment of several million pounds en route from our Earth to supplement what we've procured courtesy of the British government. That should help handle whatever expenses we come across. We were lucky to get any space at all within a hundred miles, since the previous business decided to move elsewhere and expand."

    "What was it? Chip asked.

    "A machine parts factory with a beauty salon next door," replied Marissa, whose face changed into a puppy-like expression with her cheeks puffed. The group further engaged in social gossip while they waited for their meals to arrive. Ever since Sunstreaker and Sideswipe received their biological disguises, they slowly studied and imitated the nuances of human culture. The three real humans around the table complimented the siblings on taking the next step towards living the way Earthlings did. Soon afterwards the issue of Thomas Arkeville surfaced. All faces turned toward the NSA's chief liaison and silently wondered what his relation was in regards to the former CIA official.

    "So how much do you know about this Arkeville guy, Spike?" the red twin asked, his chin rested on his hands atop the smooth surface of the table.

    "Quite a bit, actually. When I was working field ops in the CIA, he headed the cybernetics bureau. To be honest, I thought he was something of a pompous asshole, but he is extremely well-versed in bio-mechanical engineering. Though he wasn't liked much by the higher-ups since they considered him as something of a maverick. Kinda shares the same stuck-up superiority complex that Mirage has, if you know what I mean.

    “After a little bit of persuasion the director gave Arkeville the go-ahead for the funding of Operation SAW. The goal of the project was to create a group of cybernetically enhanced field agents and test their effectiveness in practical applications during covert operations.”

    “SAW?” Marissa asked quizzically.

    “Specialized asymmetric warfare. Basically the evolution of black ops and covert ops to the point where the mission participants are selected and trained to become super soldiers, and take on tasks where even special forces units can only go so far.

    “Once the program itself went full throttle, six volunteers underwent surgery to have implants directly into their bodies. Afterwards, they conducted numerous tests through different exercise regimens and actual ops in the field. That's where I was tapped by Arkeville, since he was familiar with my rep and wanted me to tag alongside the group as an advisor and observer. I worked with his guys on a few missions in Europe and Columbia when they were called up for several jobs that required a certain level of... craftiness. From what I've seen, all of them were exceptionally well-trained, and completed their tasks with a high margin of success. That was... until this one mission in Shanghai..." Spike broke with a pause, his face sullen at the memory of the six agents that he worked with before they died.

    “What?” Jazz queried, the Autobot spec ops lieutenant became concerned at the SEAL's expression.

    “Certain... complications came up that we did not foresee. Apparently there were some side-effects associated with the implants when they were installed. Autopsy reports indicated that after inspecting each of the bodies the implants gradually damaged their cognitive and biological functions of each of the operatives because they were embedded too far into their genetic structure. Two of them committed suicide, the others eventually broke down and went insane,” Spike concluded. “Thus it gave the agency no other choice but to terminate the project.”

    “Looks like your orders are coming,” Chip observed from the distance, as two waiters skillfully carried trays of food, placing them with care onto their table. Spike waited a moment until the pair gave them their plates and departed from the team's table.

    Marissa soon brought the conversation back up. “What happened to the other four?”

    “I had to take 'em out before they killed anyone else. After the incident, all records associated with Operation SAW were sealed in Langley. And things went downhill from there. Arkeville got fired, and the project was never touched again. Though I heard that unofficially he used illegal components in his development process,” Spike finished before he took another bite from his steak. The soft texture of the meat temporarily eased his conscious.
    “Funny. Now I'm curious as to how and why he's over in this dimension now. It's safe to assume this dude's got help from the outside,” Jazz asked.
    “Which leads us to our next point of discussion,” the SEAL said as he pulled his PDA and sifted through a few pictures of researchers and businessmen tied to Lukas International. He placed the device on the table so everyone else could glance at it.

    “Joseph Fenette. Business prospector and public official, age 45. Handles Area 11's economic sector in the extraction and distribution of sakuradite. Previous occupation was management of a mining company called Geoscape. The records here show that Arkeville's tied to him as well. It also says that Joe's one of the closest associates to Lukas International since he was responsible for the purchasing and requisitions of some of the mining vehicles that was developed by that institute several years back,” Spike said. “And since Joe is a mining prospector, it would give us another lead to start with. We'll need to take a visit down to Mr. Fenette's office and check on the people who work under him to see if we can fish anything out in regards to Arkeville.”


    ---


    Several stores away from 'Beacon', Shirley sorted through the lines of dresses that were displayed in the middle of the boutique store. Milly and Nina were only a few feet away, preparing for the upcoming Sunday trip to the Lake Kawaguchi convention hotel for a tour of the historic site. Classical music played in the background as the girls preoccupied themselves. It was at that moment that Shirley spotted a lime green strapped blouse that she thought would be perfect for the occasion. She remained unwary as Milly snuck behind her younger friend to glance at the blouse that the latter was intent on buying.

    “Say, madam president, how would I look in this one?” Shirley asked innocently.

    “It looks fabulous on you, Shirley!” exclaimed Milly. “And I think it's appealing enough to catch Lelouch's eye, wouldn't you agree?” the blonde ex-noble teased.

    Shirley considered the thought for a moment. In truth she had difficulty in getting the student vice president's attention. His secretive charisma didn't help matters much either. Hence, she could only pray that Lelouch would come along on the trip to tell how she felt about him, after that fateful day where she spotted him in distance during a traffic accident downtown in their first year together at Ashford Academy.

    “I'll buy it!”


    ---


    As soon as the six members of the Autobot/human expedition left the Beacon, Sideswipe stood for a moment as he glanced at his jacket before he spotted a trio of human girls sauntering towards the group's direction. Each ferried in their hands shopping bags collected from the stores that they visited throughout the mall. He eyed the three carefully as one of the girls' high heels stuck into a tile, prompting the red twin to prop her with one of his arms as he steadied the young lass back on her feet.

    “Easy there, now.”

    “Whoops, sorry about that,” the auburn-haired girl said, modest in her expression.

    “It's okay,” Sideswipe replied generously. “Need a hand, miss?”

    “No, but thank you.”

    When the girl recovered herself, she moved onwards alongside a slightly taller blond woman and a petite girl who had glasses framed on her face. Sideswipe surmised the three women to be students. Though he would never realize that he just crossed paths with the daughter of their
    quarry.


    ---


    Lukas International Experimental Facility
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Inside the hanger bay of the Lukas test site, a group of six dark blue mechanoids were positioned against the wall. Massive cables protruded throughout their bodies where sakuradite fed into the veins of their internal circuitry and reconverted it into usable energon. While each were slightly different in appearance, their external frames shared the same basic construction. Only one had a cone-like helm while the others had black helms similar to Starscream's.

    They are the remnants of the Aerospace Extermination Squadron, a Seeker clone army developed solely to assist in the military expansion of the Decepticon Empire. Even one of them were enough to lay waste to an entire Autobot infantry squad, with numerous armaments hidden within concealed compartments of their exoskeletal frames. One could only imagine how many of them could lay waste to entire planets.

    Arkeville stood in front of the unpowered bots with arms crossed. His eyes studied the entities before him. They were powerful weapons by their own right, but lacked sentience. The former CIA cybernetics chief never thought that the AES troopers would have to be deployed so soon.

    “And I had such grand plans for you...”

    Overhead, the ceiling doors which kept the laboratory hidden separated. In just one click of a remote, what was once six lifeless beings soon came to life. Supercharged backpack engines flared up and launched their bodies skyward. Smoke trails billowed behind the drones as they they flew out to Shinjuku with one mission: to seek out and terminate the Autobot forces hidden in the ghetto.

    End of Chapter 4
     
  11. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.

    Rated: T for violence and language.

    Jazz reflects on his newfound experience of living as a Pretender.


    Interlude


    Through many decacycles that I’ve been in the service I’ve encountered dozens of species around the galaxy. But one of the most unique civilizations that I’ve grown fond of time and again is humans. I enjoy everything about them: their music, social interactions, culture, and sense of identity make them an interesting study. Oh yeah, they got slick rides too.

    The moment that Wheeljack brought those Pretender shells to the outpost sizzled my circuits. I just couldn’t believe it: a chance to actually experience, understand and appreciate what it feels like to be human. And now I'm actually living like one!

    Of course I gotta keep my optics on the twins. Those two can be a handful of trouble if left unchecked. But then again, it's gonna be fun seeing things from a whole other perspective. If there is one human saying that I think of that compares to this: it's “living the dream”.

    - From the personal data tracks of Jazz, head of Autobot Special Operations
     
  12. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.

    Rated: T for violence and language. (additional content possibly to follow)

    Nightbeat makes a new discovery, while the Autobots receive unexpected guests.


    Story note: This chapter takes place during episode 7 of Code Geass R1.



    Chapter 5: The Culling



    Autobot Outpost
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    In one corner of the garage, Nightbeat focused on the collation of different recordings related to the Orange Incident, since it would be a while before the Autobots founded any more leads on the Golden Disk. The Iaconian inspector took great pains in studying and learning about the videos through every intricate detail. Mysteries drew him in like moths to flames. They captivated him in a way where it would've daunted others. Nothing felt better to him than the thrill of hunting for the truth, even if he was in way over his head.

    “Anything so far?” asked Prowl as he strode next to the detective.

    “Well, I can say that there's something unusual about the fiasco with this Kururugi fellow back in the settlement a few solar cycles ago. After taking a look at the footage, I examined the scene at every possible angle and founded this.”

    Nightbeat keyed his portable holo-terminal that displayed live footage collected from different sources around the internet and created a simulacrum of the event, which was comparable to watching the action in person. On the center the computer focused on the standoff between Zero and Jeremiah as the Knightmare force encircled the former.

    “I programmed the computer to create a holographic reconstruction of the scene in its entirety based on the videos that's been recorded from different sources. Specifically news reels and digital camcorders.”

    “For what purpose?”

    “Just watch. Closely,” Nightbeat advised.
    As the sequence unfolded, the segment moved to the point in which Jeremiah ordered Suzaku's release. Prowl's optics zoomed in on the event. He thought for a moment that he observed a glow around the Pureblood commander's eyes.

    “The rims around his eyes turned red,” observed Prowl.

    “As the humans say: 'bingo'.”

    “How is that possible?”

    “Take a look again.”

    Nightbeat replayed the video in its entirety. When the focus shifted to Zero, the deputy commander's optics narrowed as he noticed a lens retracted from the left side of the vigilante's mask. The inspector paused the video, where the unconcealed eye glowed with a bird-like sigil. Prowl arched an optic in reaction to this new discovery. “Mind control?”

    “Yep. That's how he managed to throw that contingent of guardsmen into chaos. Which means it's safe to conclude that this person,” Nightbeat directed his index finger towards Zero's figure for emphasis. ”-- is a very dangerous individual. It also means that our other friend over here also wasn't an insider as the news claimed him to be. That whole plot about him helping Kururugi escape is nothing more than a well-devised ploy. I gotta admit, whoever this Zero is, he's very clever making it look like this whole gig was an inside job. Remember that initial encounter when you and the team first came over here?”

    Prowl nodded in response.

    “I'm willing to bet seventy-five thousand credits that that is how Zero managed to get those troops that were stationed in the ghetto to withdraw. He even admitted to killing Prince Clovis himself.”

    “After seeing this, I'm inclined to agree. I wonder if this ability of Zero's is capable of affecting us?” the deputy commander wondered, his processor temporarily lost in thought.

    Nightbeat leaned back with arms crossed as he sighed. “Hard to say, though I wouldn't want to leave it out of the realm of possibility. We need to inform the others about this in case any of them has the misfortune of crossing paths with this guy.”

    “Of that, I have no doubt. Well done, Nightbeat,” Prowl chuckled as he patted on the detective's shoulder. Just before the Autobot strategist was about to step further away, his body stuttered for a moment, which gave the impression to the detective that he was just about to collapse before the latter went to his colleague's aid.

    “Whoa. You've been overworking yourself for the past several megacycles. You could at least use a recharge,” Nightbeat noticed out of concern. Prowl shook his head and remained adamant in his position to stay online.
    “Can't. Much as I'd like to go for a stint in the recharge berth, I gotta prep another report to send to Optimus on the next pulsewave. I have a feeling he's not going to like what we've learned so far.“

    “That can wait. You need to recharge.”

    “I'm the senior officer here, Nightbeat. I got work to do,” Prowl reminded firmly.

    “You're right in that regard. However, it doesn't mean I can't call Ratchet to remove you from command and haul your slaggin' hide away,” the inspector countered.

    Both bots remained steadfast in their positions, just before an audible beep caught Prowl's audio receptors via voice comm.

    [Prowl, this is Mirage. I just spotted company outside the perimeter.]

    “What are they?”

    Mirage's voice was grim: [Knightmare Frames, I count twenty plus.]

    Prowl detected something else in the spy's tone. “Is there something else?”

    [Yeah. I think I saw Decepticon aerospace troopers out in the distance.]

    “What? How many?!” the deputy commander exclaimed in surprise.

    [Not sure. Their cloaking fields are active. They were coming in at high speed.]

    “This can only mean one thing: the Decepticons definitely know we're here. Ironhide and the others are still out there. If we drop our cloak field...” the black and white mech said vainly. Prowl did not waste another moment before he passed the order for all Autobots in the vicinity to sortie.

    “Prep for combat, team! Looks like we're about to get some bad company!”


    ---


    Highway 43, 17 miles out
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    Two groups of twelve Sutherlands each moved in formation by column as they proceeded into the ghetto at cruising speed. Colonel Ian Jacoby, the commander of the two Knightmare companies, was as curious as any other to find out just what exactly the Britannian forces were up against. A weathered veteran of different campaigns across the world, Jacoby held an eerie suspicion that something was amiss.

    The viceroy herself admitted the possibility of strange forces operating near the vicinity of the capital based on the evidence she has seen. Thus it led to her decision to have three members of the Pureblood faction to accompany him. A decision in which he strongly opposed. After the Orange Incident their loyalty at this point remained questionable.

    Jeremiah, Villetta, and Kewell were situated in the middle of the formation led by aged officer. The three stuck to themselves since there was no telling what the commander intended to do with them. After the stint with Kururugi's escape and their demotion following thereafter, they exercised caution and kept their distance from those whose fingers itched to pull the trigger on them.

    “Let me make one thing clear to you Gottwald: if you or your associates do anything which I deem suspicious, I'll kill the lot of you myself. Clear?”

    “Crystal, sir,” Jeremiah replied.

    “The viceroy requested that I bring you along since you have some indication as to what we might be up against. So just refresh my memory, you observed Knightmare Frames that are capable of... transforming?”

    Kewell interjected through the comm net: “Not exactly, my lord. One of the pilots that fought along with us in Shinjuku sighted a Frame which
    transformed just before he was killed.”

    “All right, guess we'll see these things for ourselves, eh? Strike lead to all units: when we reach the city we'll split up into groups of three. We're going do a clean sweep and find our mysterious quarry. If there's anything you suspect that's out of the ordinary, do not hesitate to call me through the radio. Eliminate them if they show any signs of hostile intent.”

    “Roger,” replied the other pilots.


    ---


    No-Fly Zone
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    The six air warriors dispatched from the Lukas experimental facility flew high above at 700 MPH. Their silhouettes shadowed over the gray barren landscape as sensor suites built into their bodies sweeped the area for the Autobots hidden in Shinjuku. Britannian radar nets never picked up their heat signatures since they were masked by internal cloak generators integrated into their forms. It didn't take long before their blood-red optics picked up the Knightmare force moving in from below.

    {Searching for primary targets... Unidentified contacts detected from below.}

    {Subjects identified as terran-based mecha, Sutherland-type. Relaying visuals to central command.}


    ---


    Lukas International Primary Laboratory
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    In the sub-level monitor room, Starscream watched pensively as the lead Seeker drone fed images of the Britannian Sutherland force advancing through the highways. The group of bluish humanoid vehicles below remained unwary of the forces that loomed high above them. It provided a window for the Decepticons to strike first.

    “Hmm. So the Britannians decided to dispatch their troops as well. How delicious, perhaps I'll use them to draw the Autobots out in the open,” Starscream said with a mischievous grin.

    {Additional targets identified. Unable to locate primary objective. Requesting instructions.}

    “Sterilize the entire sector. Leave none alive,” the aerospace commander ordered with chilling finality.

    {Command directive received. Disengaging cloaking fields, commencing with operation.}

    “Now then, let's see if those cowardly mechs will finally reveal themselves.”


    ---


    Residential Block 7
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    “Colonel, this is Hudson. I'm picking up something from above. Six unknowns at twelve o'clock high. They've splited up into teams of three.”

    “Can you identify them?” asked Jacoby.

    “I don't know, but they're coming in --- GAH!” cried one of the pilots, before static replaced the comm net. Tension gripped the minds of the pilots that were in the group led by Jacoby. Sweat beads dropped from their foreheads as the situation grew more grave by the second.

    “Hudson? Matthews? What's going on out there?!” the colonel demanded. His question was answered in the form of an enemy trooper who launched an air-to-surface missile in the middle of the formation. The group splited into teams of six and evaded the incoming projective. Jacoby scanned the skies above and saw three dark blue robots in flight. Wings jutted from their backs with large engines attached near the pauldrons. Red eyes stared blankly into the space, registering no discernable facial expression.

    “Knightmares that can fly?” Villetta murmured in an astounded tone, hiding the fear that lingered in her conscious, and could only guess at what these machines were going to do next.

    “Clearly. Everyone take cover within the buildings. We'll blast them out of the sky,” Jacoby said.

    All the Sutherlands within proximity scrambled under the protection of several abandoned structures that provided shielding against the unknown contacts' weapons. The Britannian Knightmares who had access to missile launchers with anti-air payloads were loaded for bear.

    Jacoby knew that whoever was attacking them had to

    “All units: fire!” the Britannian officer commanded. He was not in the mood to see his troops get slaughtered. The two additional Seeker clones that accompanied its cohort from the air shot away with weapons blazing. Armor piercing bullets and missiles whizzed by at the AES troopers from the Sutherlands, the former unrelenting in their attacks against the Britannian troops.

    From afar, the conehead Seeker clone's artificial intelligence matrix cycled through its processor. Its optics performed a scanning sweep at the targets in below it, gauging the relative strength of its enemies. Regardless of how skillful they were, whatever resistance the Britannians intended to put out would be swiftly punished.

    {Compiling threat/response analysis... }

    The drone brought its shoulder cannons to bear. Energy bursts from its weaponry lanced in the Britannian force's direction. The Knightmares evaded the attacks and scattered away from the drone's line of fire before they retaliated with their own armaments.

    It surmised that the Britannians would continue to shift their positions and gain whatever advantage they can over the Seekers. The clone squadron leader relayed instructions to its comrades and activated its shoulder-mounted munitions dispenser. The trio of Decepticon air troops lifted themselves into the sky and armed a series of cluster bombs to force the humans out into the open.

    {Initiating tactical protocol 27. Commence aerial bombardment.}

    The Seekers soon unleashed their payload as the explosives whistled loudly through the air. In mid-flight they dispersed into leaflets and dove into the Britannians' impromptu cover, which obliterated their defenseive area with relative ease. In response, the enemy Sutherland force displaced themselves again and moved to any other location where they could safely return fire against the Decepticon aggressors.


    ---


    All the Autobots stationed within the outpost revved their engines at high speed. Prowl led the charge with Wheeljack, Nightbeat, Trailbreaker and Ratchet in tow. Mirage and Drift were en route to combat a trio of Seekers that were attacking the other Knightmare company.

    “Scrap, the fighting's already started,” observed Ratchet, his sensors tracking the movements of enemy forces as they engaged each other in battle. “It looks like the Britannians are barely holding them off.”

    Prowl asked: “Trailbreaker, is that distress call to Jazz ready yet?”

    “I'm working on it,” the black mech answered back.

    “Hurry. Arm your weapons, gentlebots. Looks like the situation's about to take a turn for the worse.”

    Three of the Knightmares from Jacoby's element launched slash harkens at the trio of air drones, which managed to latch into their armor. The zombie-like mechanized soldiers grasped the cables attached to the anchors and tore them off their exteriors. They countered with swift laser bursts which critically damaged five of the Britannian mecha. The surface of the human-manned vehicles were pierced in multiple areas before they were consumed in fiery explosions.

    Jeremiah throttled on his controls and fired rounds from his Knightmare's assault rifle as he moved in reverse while one of the airborne contacts attacked him from above. The amount of damage the strange machine withstood astounded him. Lasers chipped away at the tarred roads, scorching the terrain which pushed the Pureblood farther back before he reloaded and fired again. His shots scored direct hits into the head of the Seeker, when additional ordnance struck it dead center, blowing it into dozens of scattered fragments. He turned to find Kewell equipped with an arm-mounted missile launcher retrieved from one of the wrecked Knightmares.

    “Thanks for the assist,” said Jeremiah.

    “Don't thank me. I'm just doing what's needed to be done,” the blond loyalist answered bluntly.

    These are no ordinary machines, the former margrave thought to himself. Far beyond the capability of ordinary terrorists to obtain.

    “All units, this is strike leader. Check in.”

    “We're still alive, Colonel,” Villetta called out.

    “All systems still functioning,” said another pilot.

    One by one, the surviving Britannian forces regrouped themselves. Two of the Seeker clones still remained in action against Jacoby's element. The whereabouts of the other three that attacked Hudson's group remained at large. It could only be assumed that all twelve units of that team were wiped out.

    What have we gotten ourselves into? Jeremiah wondered to himself.


    ---


    “There they are!” Trailbreaker called out. When the team arrived all of them changed into robot form with the black mech ahead of them. His head emitter erected a forcefield as the group advanced cautiously towards the melee. The remaining Sutherlands under Jacoby's command fought with vengeful fanaticism against the Decepticon attackers.

    The resistance that the Britannians were putting up was formidable, but ultimately futile. One of the pair of Seekers that were still online destroyed another Sutherland with a heat seeking missile fired from its left shin. Both clones' focus shifted when the group of Autobots led by Prowl came on the scene.

    {Enemy forces entering battle zone. Five targets identified. Re-prioritizing...}

    Prowl's unit advanced forward with Trailbreaker's forcefield protecting them. The Seekers unleashed a flurry of laser blasts and missiles that bounced from the black mech's defenses to no effect. Both froze in place as they accessed their most advanced arsenal stored within their internal circuitry.

    {Combat analysis suggests combined enemy strength considerably high. Initiating tactical upgrade.}

    The remaining troopers quickly unveiled a series of weapons hidden from within its chassis. Sunburst cannons materialized on their torsos next to each side of the cockpit area. The gauntlets on both clones unsheathed meter-long blades that looked like they could cut through neo-steel armor. It was then that the Autobots realized they were in deeper trouble than they expected.

    “Slag,” Wheeljack cursed aloud. “Those are the advanced models.”

    “Everyone take cover now!” Prowl barked to the group, knowing full well of the capabilities of the Seeker clones based on past experience. Memory of several squadrons that laid waste to the neighboring city states of Iacon and Polyhex were still fresh in his processor. While the Autobots themselves occupied a wasteland, they were not willing to let the Decepticon air troopers harm any civilians that inhabited the ghetto without a fight.

    “We're going to need some heavy firepower to take on the 'Cons and the Britannians,” Trailbreaker observed.

    “Not a problem, I got several of my inhibitor shells ready for all of them,” Wheeljack said with assured confidence.

    “Alright then, take those clones down! If the Britannians fire on us, disable them!” Prowl commanded with an emphasis on the last part of his order.
    Wheeljack did not hesitate to step up first. The white Lancia fired his twin shoulder mounted launchers, unleashing a volley of gryo-inhibitor shells at one of the Seekers. He watch as the shells successfully struck their target, temporarily throwing it off balance. However, after a few seconds the clone regained its stance. The engineer widened his optics at the rapid recovery of the trooper, much to his dismay.

    “You've got to be kidding me!” exclaimed a shocked Wheeljack.

    Unfazed, the Seeker flared its thrusters and sped towards the white Lancia, clutching him by the throat and lifting him off his feet. The engineer struggled to free himself from the clone's grip to no avail. He kicked his legs back and forth, fighting with all his strength to break its hold on him.

    “Hang on, Wheeljack!” Nightbeat called. He leveled his photon pistol and fired several shots at the engineer's captor. Ratchet quickly joined in with his own weapons blazing away. Their blasts continued to tear off only part of the Seeker's armor plating, who continued to hold Wheeljack under its iron grip.

    {Subjects identified as Nightbeat and Ratchet. Threat level negligible.}

    Considering them to be of no danger, the drone threw the engineer at his two Autobot compatriots, knocking them back onto the ground towards unconsciousness. The amount of force the trooper used launched Wheeljack's body into the support beams of an abandoned structure, the foundation eventually collapsed on the hapless bot. Prowl and Trailbreaker were the only members that were left standing. Both kept their firearms on one trooper each and let loose numerous volleys. Their attacks proved to be of little effect as the trooper retaliated with its own firepower. The confrontation between the Autobots and their Decepticon adversaries were promptly interrupted by the continued persistence of the Britannian recon force.

    “I'm taking you out, you monstrosity!” Jacoby shouted as he dispensed his stun tonfas and revved his landspinners at high speed. The Sutherland charged into the enhanced clone with reckless fervor, only to find itself at the sharp end of a gauntlet blade. The weapon was driven deeper into Jacoby's cockpit, killing him instantly before it exploded into a pile of debris.

    “Lord Jacoby!” Villetta called out from her Sutherland, who emptied her rifle in retaliation. The Seeker shrugged the rounds as if they were nothing, flying towards the Pureblood before it grasped her mech by the arm and threw it into another of her teammates. The operator of the smashed mecha ejected before it went critical and blew up into pieces.

    “Hey, motorhead! Why don't you try and take on me for size!” Trailbreaker yelled as he cocked back a fist and sent a swift cross against the Seeker's helm. The clone momentarily staggered back before it regained its composure and struck back with an uppercut. Its hit grazed the black mech's torso before he countered with both arms swinging. A small dish popped from its upper back and fired a sonic wave that caught Trailbreaker's audio receptors, which made the slightly stronger bot scream in pain. The clone took advantage of the opportunity and slammed its gauntlets on its opponent's shoulders, stunning him onto the pavement.

    Its foot thrusters flared up, launching the drone into the air. The drone jetted towards the collapsed building where the white Lancia's form rested. As it shouldered its rifles, it blasted the debris that covered Wheeljack to find he was still downed after having been thrown across like a rag doll.

    {Subject: Wheeljack. Preparing to terminate.}

    “Uhhh,” groaned the engineer, his arms wobbled as he attempted to regain his composure. Just as he was about to be turned into slag, the Seeker's body was struck from behind at its head component. It was hit again two more times from the waist upwards before it exploded into dozens of fragments, as Wheeljack tilted his head and saw Mirage out in the distance with a high-powered photon sniper rifle in hand. The white Lancia collapsed back onto the terrain, his vision blurred into a world of darkness.


    ---


    Residential Block 2
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    Draped in a massive sand colored cloak, Drift had his short swords sheathed within their scabbards. Burnt craters and smashed mechanical parts from destroyed Knightmare Frames were scattered around him. In front of the shadow warrior were three Seekers and five other Knightmares that remained of the second company. It has been millions of stellar cycles since he last saw a trooper from the Aerospace Extermination Squadron. He never suspected that he would see another one in this lifetime.
    The trio of clone troopers engaged their combat enhancements like their brethren who were occupied with Prowl's group. One broke off from the skirmish as it ascended into the skies. Since Drift had only limited flight capability he could not pursue the escaped clone. Instead the white mech focused on his current situation and studied his opponents carefully. He judged the clones as the most obvious threat. The two troopers splited up and attacked him on both sides with their wrist blades. Drift parried their attacks with ease and severed a limb from each one.
    Looks like they've improved your original design, but I am far more fleet of foot than you are.

    Focusing on the disciplines he has learned prior to his transition as blademaster, Drift tapped within his spark energies and telegraphed the next attacks that the troopers launched. He clasped the arm of an incoming strike, effectively evading the blow and using the Seeker's momentum against its comrade. Both were knocked onto the ground before he unsheathed his short swords and drove them into the chassis of each one. The energies that swirled within the blades traveled throughout the entirety of their bodies and burnt out their circuits from head to toe. Afterwards, the white mech heard the clicks of numerous assault rifles pointed at his back.

    “I would strongly advise against that. Lest you face the same fate as these machines over here,” Drift fingered towards the two decapitated Seeker corpses on the deck. After a tense standoff, the five Knightmares took the warning to heart and withdrew to rejoin with Jacoby's element. Although he wouldn't have killed the humans, he was ruthless enough to have taught them a harsh lesson when it came to aiming their weapons on a former Decepticon. Drift sheded his cloak and transformed into vehicle mode as he sped back to the outpost, where he suspected the other clone trooper to be headed.


    ---


    Residential Block 7
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    Only one Seeker remained from the force dispatched from Lukas International. It disconnected one of its Sunburst cannons and reprogrammed the device into an explosive mine. The drone threw the object to give itself distance from the ravenous forces of the Britannians. Within seconds the mine detonated and took out two more of the Sutherlands, forcing the Britannians to temporarily withdraw and allow it to move towards the deputy commander, who was the only bot left standing in its path.

    Alone, outgunned, Prowl began compiling tactics to escape his current predicament. The strategist's train of thought was interrupted as armor-piercing munitions nicked away at his metallic skin. He responded in kind by firing a barrage of photon blasts at the perpetrators. Two of the Sutherlands from the second element ejected their escape capsules before they went critical and blew into smithereens. Another pair of Sutherlands launched a pair of missiles in his direction, forcing the deputy commander to roll to the side as he shot a volley of his own. The projectiles struck at one of the pair's landspinners, crippling the mecha from any further action.

    “I don't have time to deal with you,” he said bluntly before spotting the last Seeker two hundred meters ahead of him.

    Prowl shifted to vehicle form and sped farther into the ghetto. The drone fired its engines in high pursuit, letting loose two missiles that trailed after the deputy commander. He tried to make a sharp turn and use the buildings as a shield against the incoming projectiles, but wasn't fast enough. The ordnance exploded behind him as he was sent flying towards the street, forcing him to change into robot mode in mid-air. The black and white mech raised his arms in front of him as he braced for the crash ahead. His chassis slammed into one of the abandoned structures with deafening impact, with a pile of debris that spewed forth as a result.

    {Subject: Prowl. Current status: severely damaged. Preparing for termination...}

    Severely weakened, Prowl struggled to aim his photon rifle at the enhanced Seeker drone, which continued its present course of action unhindered.

    The Autobot strategist's vision began to fade in and out, static interference with his sight. He didn't have to see to know that death was coming for him.

    |Warning: energon levels at fifteen percent and falling. Stasis lock imminent.|

    “Guess, this is my final moment, huh?” Prowl uttered softly. His processor struggled to keep his conscious online. The conehead aimed its shoulder rifle squarely at the deputy commander's head. Without a moment's regret, the strategist waited to meet his end and join with the Matrix.

    Suddenly a large block of solidified liquid formed around the encroaching drone. Afterwards, a concentrated blast of photon beams struck the block, shattering it into pieces. Prowl's optics arched slightly and he gave a sigh of relief as Ironhide, Jazz and twins lowered their weapons before the lead drone crashed into a smoking scrap heap.

    “We received your distress call and came as fast as we could. Man, you really made a mess out here,” Jazz whistled.

    “Your timing's impeccable,” Prowl jested.

    “Take it easy,” the special ops lieutenant said, lifting Prowl back on his feet. “We'll discuss this further when we get back to base.”


    ---


    Highway 43
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    The existence of not one, but two unknown forces operating near Tokyo clung to Jeremiah's mind greatly. After having bore witness to the recent skirmish, the threat that these groups posed to the safety of the civilian population within the capital was far too great to ignore. This was evident enough in the strength displayed by the Seekers of the Aerospace Extermination Squadron and the Autobot forces that were in hiding. Only five of the twenty-four mecha dispatched into the ghetto remained, including the three Pureblood loyalists.

    After Jacoby's swift death at the hands of one of the flying mecha, Jeremiah quickly assumed command and ordered the withdrawal of the surviving Sutherlands. Based on performance alone, the humans realized they were outmatched in terms of technology. The fact that there were different types of weaponry the unknown Knightmares used amazed him. Forcefields, lasers, and other devices, all beyond what the Britannian regulars had at their disposal.

    The Purebloods were going to have a difficult time explaining such a significant loss to the viceroy. Whether she would punish them or allowed them to live remained to be seen. Nonetheless, the fact that they survived against these unknowns meant that it is possible Jeremiah and his cohorts would see more action against these machines in the future.


    ---


    Autobot Outpost
    Shinjuku Ghetto, Area 11


    Ironhide went to work fanning the flames and smoke that were rampant throughout the outpost. His right-hand retracted itself into a blaster which discharged chemical retardants, eventually wiping out the fires that threatened to spread out to beyond the garage. Drift occupied himself moving some wreckage, including the dismembered parts of the last clone trooper which he swiftly terminated. The humans that survived the attack assisted in the retrieval of whatever they could scrape up.

    “We can't stay here any longer,” Prowl said. Most of the members of the Autobot/human expedition formed a circle around the deputy commander, as he nursed his arm while Ratchet tended to his wounds. “Ow!”

    “Hold still for a moment, will you?” Ratchet demanded, as he flared the fusion torch to repair the severed wiring and circuitry which protruded from the strategist's limb.

    “They really did a number on us,” Wheeljack said, battered and weary like many of the other Autobots who fought in the skirmish.
    Trailbreaker walked towards the group, and had a grave look on his face that did not bear good news.

    “How badly were we hit?” inquired the deputy commander.

    “Bad. Those aerospace troopers wrecked the communications array and the transwarp control rods. We're stuck here,” the tall black mech replied. “And they trashed the recharge berths, too.”

    “Meaning it will take longer for our internal systems to affect repairs before we are fully recovered,” interjected Wheeljack.

    “This is the kind of day in which I could really use some high-grade,” Prowl whispered softly, pain welling up in his processor as Ratchet continued on his repairs..

    “On the flip side, the money shipments and other human equipment are still intact within their respective containers.”

    “That'll do. We're going to have to move out now. Salvage what you can from the enemy wreckage. Both the Knightmares and the Seeker drones. Wheeljack, do we have any holo emitters?”

    “We got enough for just ourselves and the containers,” replied the engineer.

    “Mount them onto the hover crates. We'll tow the cargo to our new hideout,” said the deputy commander. “In the meantime, we'll split up into two groups. One led by Jazz and Spike, the other led by me. When we reach outside past the perimeter of the capital, we'll blend in with traffic and regroup back at our new location. Once we arrive we'll set ourselves up from there.”
    Without delay, the expedition team packed up whatever remained of their outpost leaving little to no evidence of their presence in the Shinjuku ghetto.


    ---


    Lukas International Primary Laboratory
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Starscream surveyed the destruction from one of the hacked Britannian spy satellites and frowned in disappointment. The aerospace commander hoped that the AES troopers would take down the Britannians and the Autobot interlopers in one fell swoop. Due to the resilience of Prowl's team, the opposite occurred instead. Surviving witnesses from both groups of the battle meant trouble.

    Regardless, there were plenty of opportunities to get rid of the Autobots and crush the Britannians. Though he would have to do it soon before Megatron founded out that Starscream openly broke infiltration protocol. There was nothing worse than irritating the warlord before the Decepticons managed to achieve their ultimate goal. The urgency of the situation demanded an equally lethal response, in the form of five of the Decepticon army's most deadly and loyal troops. All he needed was a window of opportunity, where all hell would be unleashed upon the unsuspecting human populace and their saviors.


    ---


    Nova Station
    Mars


    Back in the Transformers' own universe, within the confines of the Sol System, a massive structure circled around the red planet far beyond Earth's reach. The installation was constructed out of ships decommissioned from the Autobot expeditionary fleet to accommodate a base of operations where it would serve as a stopping point for friendly starships to resupply. With the loss of Cybertron as a habitable planet, the remaining forces under Prime's command were forced to scavenge resources on non-populated worlds and reposition towards areas where the Autobots could mobilize quickly in the event of a galaxy-wide crisis.

    The station itself was named after one of Optimus' predecessors, dedicated to the one Cybertronian leader whom Autobot and Decepticon alike consider the pioneer of space travel. None knew of the former scientist's fate, and it remains a mystery to this day. His innovations and contributions in the field of technology led to the development of the devices which both sides use for practical applications such as the transwarp engine.

    On the lower decks of the installation, Perceptor adjusted his monocle as he immersed himself in the data displays. The dimly lit space of the science quarter of Nova Station reflected on how the introverted scientist lived in his little world. In his ultimate pursuit of scientific knowledge, the universe is his play pen. Such a vast workspace gave him room to dabble in new developments, new inventions, and new technologies.

    A holo avatar of Optimus Prime materialized on the grid display next to Perceptor's workstation. The scientist turned to face the commander with due diligence. From what he could see the Autobot leader appeared distressed.

    “Greetings, Optimus! I was just about to contact you.”

    “Status report on the new transwarp module?”

    “Ah, yes. I was just about to start test trials with Cosmos.”
    There was a momentary pause between the two mechs before Optimus spoke the next word that threw the renowned scientist off-guard.

    “I'm afraid we're going to have to send him sooner than expected. Communication's been lost with Prowl's unit on the other side. He was supposed to have forwarded his latest report on the last pulsewave.”

    “What? How long ago?” asked Perceptor.

    “Approximately forty cycles ago.”

    “Oh my. This does not bode well indeed.”

    “I'm forwarding the quantum energy signature to your workstation for Cosmos to use on his trip. Make sure he understands the priority of the mission.”

    “Very well, then. I shall have him prepare for departure right away.”


    ---


    In the center of the lower platform below Perceptor's workstation was Cosmos, a communications tech who was one of the few space-flight capable Autobots that can achieve escape velocity from the Earth's surface. The little mech propped himself up as his head spun around his body checking out the new modifications on his exoskeleton. His UFO alternate form was equipped with experimental state-of-the-art sensor arrays designed to scan and study different space-based anomalies. However, given his occupation, his true capabilities lie upon the advanced communications suite integrated within his body's circuitry. This gave the Autobots a significant advantage in intelligence and inter-operations capabilities, allowing them to coordinate their tasks with uncanny precision.

    “Cosmos, it looks like we'll have to dispense with the test trials,” Perceptor told Cosmos in a frank tone.

    “Something going on?” the comm tech asked innocently.

    “Urgent call from Optimus. Your presence is required to assist Prowl's unit.”

    “But we haven't even conducted the actual test yet!” the green mech protested with a worried look on his faceplate.

    “I know, hence the urgency of your immediate departure. We have friends who are in dire need of our assistance. And you are the only one equipped with a portable transwarp module that is capable of breaching into other dimensions unassisted.”

    The green mech shook his head in resignation and surrendered himself to the inevitable. He gave out a sigh of exasperation: “Alright. Give me a moment while I prep my equipment.”

    “I'll shall prepare the coordinates for you. You'll be positioned approximately 200 miles away from the Earth's moon. Once you arrive you'll need to ascertain the status of the team. In the meantime, is there anything you need?”

    “Just send me the telemetry and I'll be on my way.”

    Within a period of fifteen minutes Cosmos was geared up for his upcoming task. Traveling through space alone was one thing. Utilizing an untested device when it hasn't even passed the trial phase yet scared him out of his mind. He prayed that once Perceptor's invention was triggered he wouldn't be vaporized into dozens of molecules upon arrival to the other dimension.

    “Are you ready, Cosmos?”

    “Ready as I'll ever be,” the minibot said, mustering his confidence. Perceptor keyed the coordinates into Cosmos' processor, bracing himself for the act to come.

    “Stand by for transwarp in three, two, one...”

    The minuscule figure of the comm tech was bathed in a bright blue glow as the portable module swallowed him into nothingness.

    End of Chapter 5
     
  13. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.

    Rated: T for violence and language.

    The Autobots and NSA agents take a tour at Lake Kawaguchi to fish out additional clues. Spike and Nightbeat search for more leads on Thomas Arkeville.




    Chapter 6 - Field Trip, Part 1: Inquiry



    Train 7
    Lake Kawaguchi, Area 11


    “Fifty,” Sideswipe said as he tossed a few poker chips on the table.

    “I raise fifty,” Jazz interjected, gently pushing his stack of chips forward.

    “Two hundred.” Sunstreaker added afterwards.

    In a reserved VIP room of the train Jazz, Marissa, and the twins engaged themselves in a game of three-card brag, with a muscular Caucasian male from the NSA named Warren presiding as the dealer. Brag is similar to poker in some respects albeit much older. The betting method was also different, since all players who participated in the game had to agree to a certain ante before they proceeded any further. Marissa and Jazz were taught by Spike, who in turn was taught by former associates in the British intelligence agency MI6. This excluded the fact that the ante in Spike's game was much higher than what they were playing with. Thankfully he only played the game once, and once was enough to make a dent in his checking account.

    Forty-two hours have passed since the enemy incursion into Shinjuku, which forced the Autobots to relocate to Tokyo. When surrounded by enemies out for blood in a colony where war was brewing, it's easier said than done. Thus, while the team still had a moment of reprieve they would take the opportunity to head to the most likely places where more information could be found in regards to Arkeville's contacts and whereabouts. Since he was a prominent name in the business circles of Area 11's economic affairs, the convention center hotel and the Tokyo city hall were likely starting points to continue the investigation. Marissa and Jazz's team were headed towards the former.

    On the table next to the group's window were an assortment of foods, including cookies, bread, and unopened wine bottles to add to the elegant atmosphere of their travel towards their destination. The train had a posh feel to its interior, making the ride a comfortable one for the tourists. Jazz surmised that the Britannians take pride when it came to providing comforts to its passengers.

    “I fold,” Sunstreaker said, his defeat was inevitable as he tossed his three cards across the table.

    “Same here,” Jazz followed.

    After several rounds of brag, only Marissa and Sideswipe remained, with the stake at three thousand pounds. Marissa raised the ante to double the current amount to see the red twin's hand. The game became a stare contest between the Pretender and the NSA field runner. Soon after, the red mech unveiled his cards one at a time, a pair of aces and one '6' card. The two Cybertronian players who folded gave mixed expressions of disbelief and disappointment, and Marissa was quick to join them.

    “You slag spouting punk,” the yellow Pretender hissed vehemently.

    “Aw, don't spoil my fun now,” Sideswipe teased as he shrugged his shoulders. “Besides, the stakes weren't that high to begin with. Put me in a real game, and I'll be sweeping the competition left and right. With a little bit of extra practice, of course.” The red Lambo twin recomposed himself and gathered all the chips and cash. Prior to his days as a soldier, Sideswipe learned the art of deception and thievery like the back of his hand back when both of the Lambo twins still lived in the slums. He founded his exploits to be useful experience when it came to dealing with criminals of the underworld.

    “I wouldn't get too excited if I were you,” Jazz reminded firmly with arms crossed.

    “Wow, this is a wonderful view,” Marissa interjected as the train passed further outside the settlement, awed at the balanced beauty between the greenery and the city buildings below the tracks.

    “Wanna take a break?” Sideswipe suggested to the group while he collected his money.

    “Sure, me and Marissa need to finish up some things before we reach the hotel,” Jazz said.

    “Just so you know, Sideswipe: I am going to get that money back from you,” Marissa promised with a fox-like grin.
    “You're welcome to try,” the red twin laughed with a wave as he and his brother departed from the room into the passageway.


    ---


    Sunstreaker and Sideswipe strode their way through the different sections of the train to alleviate their boredom. As the twins moved further, Sideswipe raised one eye when he spotted a familiar female seated in the corner of the train car. She had orange hair with emerald colored eyes as she gazed out in the distance. The red twin took a guess as to who the girl was.

    “Hi there,” Sideswipe waved at her as she and her two companions looked up towards him. “Don't I recognize you from somewhere?”

    Shirley studied Sideswipe's face before her eyes lit with familiarity. “You're the man that prevented me from falling the other day back at the mall.”

    “Heh, well what do you know. Interesting how we cross paths again,” the red twin smiled back with a glint in his eye.

    “And you are?” Milly questioned with an arched brow at the two siblings.

    “Name's Chris Snyder. We're visitors from the mainland,” Sideswipe began, remembering his cover story. “This is my brother Evan.”

    “Hi,” Sunstreaker said, hands outstretched above his head.

    “You came all the way from Britannia?” Milly asked, somewhat surprised. “It's been a very long time since I was last there.”

    “We only arrived here just recently,” Sideswipe said, when he noticed a pale-looking girl that wore a French cap next to Shirley. She leaned further into her chair, obviously fearful of the two disguised mechs who presented themselves before the three women. It was clear from what he saw that the girl had a xenophobic reaction to those who appeared dangerous. Sideswipe turned back to the direction Nina faced and noticed the scowl that his yellow sibling is famous for among the Autobot ranks.

    “Oh don't worry about him, he won't bite,” the red twin laughed, trying to keep the petite girl at ease. He knelt down and offered his right hand as a sign of good intent. Nina recomposed herself and shook it in return.

    “Your brother doesn't talk much,” Shirley noted.

    “He can be a bit of a grouch at times,” Sideswipe said as he elbowed his twin in the arm. The latter simply shook his head and rolled his eyes in response.

    “Whatever,” was all that Sunstreaker managed to say.

    Sideswipe offered his hand to the Ashford student council president. “And you ladies are?”

    “I'm Milly,” said the blonde as she shook his hand. “This is Nina,” the Ashford student council president gestured to the smaller girl with the cap before she pointed to the bare-shouldered woman. “And this is Shirley.”

    “Pretty names for pretty ladies. May we join you?” Sideswipe asked politely, ever the suave mech that he was back on the home planet.

    “Certainly, you two seem like interesting gentlemen,” Milly said. To her, this moment presented an opportunity to mingle with the twins, since her parents kept bombarding her with men whom she held no interest in. This was exemplified by the fact that she would always play cruel pranks against her potential suitors every chance she got, and she revelled in every second of those moments. On the other hand, she thought the twins to be kind of cute.

    “You wouldn't mind telling us what you do?” Shirley queried.

    “We're promoters of the music industry. Our older brother is something of an enthusiast when it comes to that stuff,” the red mech admitted, since he knew full well that Jazz was fond of Earth music; specifically rock, metal and rap. Though Sideswipe could not ascertain whether or not the girls were ready for Jazz's musical tastes due to the risk that it might be somewhat too 'new wave' for them. Still, it gave the two brothers a chance to expand their horizons and strengthen relations with the humans further. It proved to be a good social exercise that would benefit them in the near future. Back in the VIP compartment, Marissa and Jazz fiddled over the final details before their eventual arrival at the hotel. Files and photographs were laid out in sequential order, alongside blueprints detailing the hotel's structural layout and security systems. It was a big place and there was much ground to cover, especially since the significance of the day made it all the more important to complete their objective undetected.

    “Fenette has an employee who works for him since he is the direct representative of the Britannian government in Area 11's economic affairs. Goes by the name Frances Meier. Chip hacked into his personal file and found some strange things that stood out,” Marissa said as she reviewed the information.

    “What did he find?” Jazz asked.

    The field runner brushed her hair with her left hand as her fingers drummed on the photograph of their suspect. “Well, he checked out Meier's account and saw some periodic bank transfers that repeats every fourteen days in seventy thousand pound increments.”

    Jazz nodded as he cupped his chin pensively. “That's quite a bit of cash flowing in there. Could it be Arkeville that's giving the money?”

    “Not sure. That's what we need to determine when we get there. Since the annual sakuradite summit's today the likelihood of him being in his office is slim to none since he'll be busy handling whatever's going on in the conference. That will give us some leeway to see if he's got any additional leads that we can follow up on once we get to the hotel, though we can expect that security's going to be tight. However, we got something that'll be able to help us out a little bit,” Marissa blinked as she leaned to the left side of her chair and placed a duffel bag on the table. After she unzipped a pouch, she pulled a small plastic device that was an inch in diameter and showed it to the Autobot spec ops agent.

    “What is it?”

    “It's an alarm snare used by our SHADOWNET operatives in the NSA. It's designed to trigger false alarms in a building's security system,” Marissa told as she pointed to two sections of the hotel's middle floors for further emphasis. “Since there's a fair concentration of security personnel we can place the snares in these sections to draw out personnel away from the offices near the conference room. Once that's done I'll sneak in and do a little digging to see if anything comes up.”

    “Sounds a little on the dangerous side.”

    “Aren't you supposed to be the type that loves danger?” the field runner contested.
    “Sister, where I come from 'Danger' is my middle name,” Jazz answered with a curved line on his lips.


    ---


    Student Council Clubhouse
    Ashford Academy, Tokyo Settlement


    Lelouch was distraught at the humiliation he suffered at Cornelia's hands. If it wasn't for C.C.'s timely intervention he would've been apprehended and caught far too early before the real war against Britannia began. As much as he despised the nonchalant nature of the green-haired witch, she was necessary and provided inputs whenever Lelouch stumbled on any roadblocks, be it physical or mental ones.

    After the last vestige of the Yamato Alliance were wiped out by Cornelia's royal guard, it dawned upon him that he would need an army that was organized and flexible in composition. He already had the Shinjuku crew, which proved useful in his earlier endeavors through Suzaku's rescue and the skirmish against Clovis' forces. It was through these exploits that he communicated with additional contacts on the requisition of his organization's new uniforms.

    C.C. walked towards Lelouch's bed, being her usual carefree self with the same white straightjacket that she wore when the two first met in the Shinjuku ghetto. The woman jumped on it and basked in the softness of the sheets. She soon noticed that the ex-prince was packing some of his belongings for another trip, with his mask gripped firmly in his hand.

    “Where are you heading off to?” C.C. asked.

    “To secure a vehicle where we can move about freely without suspicion,” Lelouch said.

    “Another one of your escapades?”

    “I am taking your advice to heart. I believe it's time that I forged an army with the building blocks that I have. Starting with the Shinjuku crew.”

    “Weren't you going to go on some tour to some place outside of the settlement?”

    “Ah, Lake Kawaguchi,” the ex-prince recalled. ”I'm afraid not. Milly was adamant on bringing me over to join them but I told her that I had certain matters to take care of,” Lelouch answered elusively, returning to his previous task of packing his attire. “Besides, I didn't find the trip to be that interesting anyway. All it is is rabbling between greedy politicians on a resource which Britannia has absolute control over.”
    With a snap, Lelouch locked his carry case and stood back up at full height.

    “You'll have to excuse me, I am going to make lunch for Nunnally before I head off,” the ex-prince said as the portal swished open, prompting him to make his exit.


    ---


    Harker/Ferguson Technologies
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Prowl awakened from his recharge berth in the concealed parking lot two floors below the firm. Ratchet was preoccupied in the level above repairing other Autobots after the surprise attack by the Decepticons and Britannians. Pain still etched within the core of his body as he clutched his midsection slightly.

    Regardless, the strategist stood up on his feet and looked around himself, only to face empty halls with dim lighting. While it wasn't as spacious as the Shinjuku outpost, the expedition had to make do with whatever real estate they had available. Prowl limped along to check on the status of everyone else that was in the vicinity. He was grateful that Marissa founded a decent hideout where their presence remained hidden from the local population.
    When the elevator shaft Prowl stood on reached the first sub-level he spotted Wheeljack analyzing different screens from a grid display. The engineer turned around after the clamor of metallic footsteps inched closer towards his direction to find the deputy commander roaming about. Afterwards the Lancia rotated his body back to the display that he invested deep interest in.

    “Good to know you're finally online,” the white mech said when Prowl stood next to him.

    “Something happening?”

    “I'm picking up a faint pulsewave from beyond the Earth's atmosphere. It's encoded with an Autobot signature.”

    “Put it through,” Prowl ordered as he leaned against the terminal. He was surprised at the familiar ping of the signal being sent from above the sky and curious as to who the sender was.


    ---


    Alternate Earth
    Sol System


    The minuscule bulbous flying saucer form of Cosmos orbited the only inhabited world in the Sol system. After a momentary recharge for the past day and a half, Cosmos circled around the coordinates over Japan. He was thankful that the transwarp trip to the alternate dimension didn't turn him into cosmic dust. Though it did drain a fair amount of energon since the module was linked to his internal circuitry.

    Cosmos sent another pulsewave via a tight narrow beam transmission from his comm suite, which was encrypted and could only be authenticated through select protocols which decoded the message and allowed the Autobots to communicate when distance and environmental conditions became an issue.

    “This is Cosmos to any friendly Autobot forces, please respond.”
    Dead silence.

    “I repeat: this is Cosmos to any friendly Autobots planetside, please respond.”
    “Cosmos? Is that really you?” beckoned the familiar tone of Prowl.

    “Well, my paint job's still good,” the mini bot joked.

    The deputy commander replied gleefully through the static. “It's good to hear another friendly voice.”

    “Optimus was worried about you, so I got sent over via transwarp to this dimension to check in on you. What's your current status?”

    “Right now, we're in bad shape. We got caught up in a skirmish between Decepticon and Britannian forces, so we had to relocate elsewhere. We're lucky we even managed to pull through in one piece. Our transwarp rods have also been destroyed, and we have no way of getting back to the other side.”

    “Well, since I'm here right now, what do you need? I might be able to lend you some help.”

    “Stand by, I'm going to forward the last report from the last two solar cycles along with some new intel.”

    “I can open a small dimensional aperture and relay the information you need to send me.”

    “Good. Optimus is going to need to see what we've got for him.”


    ---


    Convention Center Hotel
    Lake Kawaguchi, Area 11


    Upon arrival, Marissa and Jazz went their separate ways along with their assigned teams. The latter joined with the Lambo twins to accompany the group of tourists as they strolled around the vastly massive hotel. While the Autobots preoccupied themselves in whatever wonders the hotel had to offer, the NSA operatives went straight to work.

    Agents McCormick and Warren followed Marissa as they traced their steps towards their intended destination and stumbled upon a security checkpoint. They presented their fake I.D.s and placed their bags on the conveyer belt scanners. All of them obeyed the guards that were on duty, who allowed the American operatives to walk through with no hassle. going through body searches to determine if they hid any concealed weapons.

    McCormick and Warren separated from each other until they headed into select spots designated by Marissa back during the brief on the train. From their pockets, each agent pulled an alarm snare and strategically placed them in blind spots where the hotel's security cameras could not see them. After they moved away, the two junior agents tapped into their earpieces, prompting Marissa in morse code that their tasks were complete.

    Upon the signal she pulled a remote and triggered the snares, initiating a silent alarm function of the building's security system. Guards scrambled towards the locations of the disturbances, allowing her to move to her objective without anyone in the way. She stopped short in front of a door with a keypad lock, and pulled out an OPSAT module identical to the one Spike used in his most recent mission. She was thankful that the NSA's gadgets were capable of different feats that others could only dream of.

    After she hacked the keypad, Marissa gingerly snuck through the office without drawing any further attention. In the space was a computer terminal in the middle atop Meier's desk. She turned on the terminal and inserted a viral USB module which Chip created that allowed her to break into the machine without a hitch. While she wasn't as skilled a hacker as Chip was, she was technically proficient enough to work her way around.

    Her hands worked on the keyboard furiously as she navigated her way through the suspect's e-mail account. She sifted through the computer's different file directories, which contained financial records and messages to various contacts. Marissa widened her eyes as she spotted something peculiar in the computer's hard drive.

    “Hello? What's this?” Marissa chimed as she struck another key on the keyboard.

    “Did you find something, Marissa?” Jazz called.

    “It looks like a NOC list from what I'm seeing. Unfortunately it's only half of it.”
    NOC is a term coined by the U.S. intelligence agencies as 'non-official cover'. It is utilized by agents that are inserted into different countries and operate under different the guise of a position which hid their actual profession as spies.

    “What else do you see?”

    “This half of the list gives code names of the undercover operatives. The other half is encrypted. I can't break the encryption here.”

    “Do you have any means of copying the file?”

    “Hang on, there's a small mini-disc on the desk.”

    Marissa inserted the object into the disc drive and tapped a few more keystrokes before the computer began the process of copying the file. With the assistance of the USB module's hacking function it only took a few seconds to copy the contents of the file onto the disc itself. Afterwards she ejected the object and placed it into her suit pocket. She was also quick to disconnect the hacking module and erase any evidence that she tampered with Meier's workstation.


    ---


    City Hall
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Spike was seated in the passenger side of Nightbeat's vehicle form, while the inspector's holo-avatar occupied the driver's seat. Holo-matter avatars were used by the Autobots as an alternative to the Pretender technology and facsimile clones introduced by the Decepticons. They were capable of assuming the appearance of any local lifeforms, whereas the Pretender shells were limited in their ability to mimic just one lifeform. The primary advantage was that since the user's core conscious was transferred into the avatar, it was equivalent to the actual user himself being present. The drawback of the technology was that it left operatives vulnerable to weapons that were capable of harming holo-matter.

    Nightbeat positioned his vehicle form in the parking lot within a sea of cars that were scattered all over, obscuring the peripheral vision of anyone who might suspect the driver to be something other than human.

    “Should I go like this?” Nightbeat asked as his holo-avatar took the guise of the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, with a smoking pipe that hung from his lips. Spike wondered in his mind if this was the Cybertronian's way of playing a joke.

    “Funny but no,” laughed the SEAL, appreciative of his cohort's sense of humor.

    “How about this?” the inspector chuckled as he altered his appearance once more into something more sensible. The avatar wore shades and had an outlook of a modern detective from the 90s. It wore a black leather jacket which gave the holo-avatar an interesting sense of style.

    “That's fine. Just try not to startle them,” Spike advised.

    “Do I ever?”

    Spike shook his head and proceeded inside to the structure with Nightbeat following behind.

    “Hi, is Mr. Fenette in the office?” Spike inquired to the secretary.
    The youthful brunette faced the pair while adjusting her glasses. “I'm afraid he's occupied at the moment. Do you have an appointment?”

    “Nicholas Lumberg and Michael Whittington, Tokyo Police Department,” Nightbeat spoke in a casual tone as he presented a holographic badge out of his 'jacket'. “We just need to ask him a few questions.”

    “I'm sorry, but he's busy at the moment. And unless you have a warrant, I can't allow you to come through,” countered the secretary.
    “Miss, we really need to talk to him,” Spike said as he leaned his arms against her desk. Her resistance was starting to grate his nerves. “He's not being charged with anything. We need his help in an investigation.”

    “Is there something going on?” asked a man, who emerged from the office behind the secretary. He was a heavyset fellow, shorter than Spike by at least several inches. It was the same person whom Nightbeat and Spike had sought in order to fish out information.

    “Greetings, Mr. Fenette. Detectives Lumberg and Whittington of the Tokyo police,” Nightbeat began promptly. “We're just here to ask you a few questions.”

    “I see. Please follow me,” Joseph complied. The NSA liaison and the Cybertronian inspector followed the official into his workspace. It was ornate with numerous certificates that adorned the walls. Whatever the man did made him quite an accomplished individual that somewhat impressed Spike.

    “Would you like anything?” the Britannian official offered.

    “Water will be fine,” Spike said. He noticed a portrait behind Fenette's desk. He and his wife stood shoulder to shoulder, with a young girl that had orange hair which was mid-length to her waist. Her face was brightened with a broad smile on her lips. “That your family?”

    “Yes,” smiled Joseph. “Are you married, Mr. Whittington?”

    “I... was,” Spike told truthfully. “Things got bad between me and my wife.”

    “Oh?” Joseph intoned.

    “Occupational hazard. My job requires me being away from home a lot,” Spike added.

    “I'm sorry to hear that,” Joseph said with his back turned, the flush of water flowing in a plastic cup as it dispensed. “I suppose it's something we have in common, since my position requires me to be away from my family as well.”

    “I couldn't agree more,” Spike replied.

    “On to business, then. To what do I owe the pleasure of your presence here today, gentlemen?” the official asked the pair, handing Spike the cup.

    “We wanted to ask you some questions about a certain associate that you had contact with a while back. Goes by the name of Thomas Arkeville.”

    “Ah, yes. I remember him. I managed the requisitions of mining equipment that I purchased from his company while I was still heading Geoscape. Uh, Lukas International if I recall correctly.”

    Spike dug in further, watching the man's body language and crafted his next question with care. He wanted to dig deeper to see if the man hid anything. Nightbeat kept an eye out as well, positioned at the office door to prevent any intrusion from outside and to keep Fenette inside.

    “How long have you known him?” Spike asked.

    “Only for three years after the occupation began. Seems like an intelligible fellow,“ Joseph answered frankly. “Though he can be a bit blunt at times. Last time I saw him was at a press conference back at the convention center hotel in Lake Kawaguchi last year. May I ask what this is about?”

    “We're doing an investigation and Mister Arkeville's name came up. It involves certain... questionable activities which he may be involved with,” Nightbeat answered.

    The business official nodded in understanding, despite the fact that Spike already knew about Arkeville's volatile nature of late. From what both the SEAL and the inspector observed there was nothing in Joseph's behavior that indicated any sort of lie. “I see. I always knew there was something suspicious about him.”

    Nightbeat followed up with his next question. “Is there anything else you can tell us? Something that can help us any further?”

    “Maybe,” Joseph humbly answered to the inspector. “My assistant, Frances Meier has been acting strange as of late. There was something peculiar about his behavior that I couldn't quite put a finger on.”

    “Such as?” the Cybertronian pressed onward.

    “I think he's been doing some illegal activity behind my back. Normally he's an honest man like myself but in the past several months he grew more irate towards me and other officials here in the city hall. I'm guessing it might be connected to personal issues,” Joseph suggested.

    “May I ask what they are in particular?” Spike inquired.

    “His divorce with his wife stripped him of everything he had. House, kids, the whole works. Right now he loves to gamble a lot. I kinda feel sorry for the chap.”

    While the questioning rolled on, thoughts rose in Spike's mind regarding his son.


    ---


    Convention Center Hotel
    Lake Kawaguchi, Area 11


    The Autobot Pretenders sat alongside the members of the Ashford student council for lunch. 'Jerome' offered to pay for the food since he was the oldest of the bunch but the girls politely declined. For the Lambo twins and Jazz it was a nice change of pace after the long train ride to the hotel and the encounter with hostile forces in Shinjuku two days earlier.

    “So you're their older brother?” Shirley asked.

    “Yeah, I brought these clowns along with me because I wouldn't know what to do if I left them alone back home,” Jazz grinned. His answer drew giggles amongst the three students, and he mentally complimented himself. Despite the fact that he pretended to be human on the surface, the Autobot Pretender grew more appreciative of what the terrans had to offer. It reminded him of an earlier time when Cybertron was not at war.

    That memory soon vanished when huge explosions rocked the hotel outside. Steel support struts that held the side bridges in place collapsed. People disguised as painters and maintenance technicians sheded their coveralls to reveal a military looking uniform. They also pulled firearms and began blasting away into the air, prompting a panic amongst the population inside the structure.

    Every civilian inside the building were scared out of their wits, save for the Autobot trio. Their hands were raised above their heads as the uniformed soldiers hoisted their weapons to their hips. All of them were armed with automatic assault rifles, ready to slay anyone who dared to oppose them of their mission.

    “Everybody lie down on the floor! As of now, we are taking over this hotel and its occupants. Anyone who attempts to resist us--” the uniformed soldier said gravely: “--will suffer a quick and gruesome death.”


    ---


    City Hall
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    The voice of Joseph's secretary interrupted his conversation with Spike and Nightbeat. “Mr. Fenette, there's something on the news you might want to see.”

    “What?”

    Fenette activated the television in the corner of his office. A female news reporter with a mic in hand stood straight-faced in front of the news camera.
    “This just in: terrorists from an unknown organization has seized control of the Lake Kawaguchi convention center hotel.”

    Images of the hostages filled the screen. From what the three individuals could see, Jazz, and the twins were in their biological disguises, hands interlocked behind their heads. As the camera panned to the left, a trio of school girls grouped with dozens of civilians. Spike recognized three Autobot Pretenders as the camera shifted focus towards them. Oh crap...

    “My god, Shirley!” the official said with eyes widened in horror as he launched up from behind his desk.

    “Come on, Mike. We better go,” Nightbeat suggested to Spike, his holo-avatar clasping the SEAL by the shoulder.

    “Are you heading to the convention center? Please take me with you!”
    Joseph pleaded.

    “Sure. Come on,” Spike said. Not another moment was wasted as the three departed to the location of the crisis.


    ---


    Royal Transport Vehicle
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Kallen Stadtfeld and the rest of the Shinjuku resistance members traced their hands upon the walls of their new hideout. Royal purple carpeting intermeshed with intricate design made the winnebago seem like a palace. Ohgi Kaname, amongst other members of the resistance group were curious as to how Zero managed to acquire an asset. The masked vigilante elusively answered that a noble he was acquainted with owed him a favor. Of course, that in and of itself was a lie. The attention of all the occupants inside the vehicle were diverted when a news blurb came up on the television in the main lounge area.

    “I'm standing in front of the Lake Kawaguchi convention center hotel. The hoteljackers have identified themselves as the Japan Liberation Front and have taken members of the sakuradite allocation meeting. Most notably Chairman James as well as several tourists who just happened to be there as well.”

    The screen changed into a video recording sent by the JLF terrorists consisting of numerous civilians, including the three familiar faces of Shirley, Milly and Nina. Their presence amongst the hostages drew reactions from both Kallen and Zero.

    “This footage was taken by the perpetrators. In it, you can see Chairman James, including some students.”

    “From the student council!” Kallen whispered, her visage now one of worry for her classmates.

    Though the Shinjuku participants could not see their leader's identity, behind Zero's mask Lelouch's face changed into one of concern. The sudden action by the former Japanese military would force him to move sooner than expected. Since he had friends inside the building he would have to act lest they suffer whatever fate the JLF had in store for them.

    End of Chapter 6
     
  14. Tr3adst0ne

    Tr3adst0ne Well-Known Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Code Geass or Transformers. They are (respectively) the property of Sunrise/CLAMP and IDW/Takara/Hasbro.

    Rated: T for violence and language.

    Things take a turn for the worse when the JLF seizes control of the Lake Kawaguchi convention center hotel. Wheeljack and Nightbeat face off against a formidable Knightmare called the Lancelot.


    Story note: This chapter takes place during episode 8 of Code Geass R1.



    Chapter 7 - Field Trip, Part 2: Showtime



    Food Storage Room
    Convention Center Hotel, Lake Kawaguchi


    A sense of dread filled the space where the civilians were kept hostage. On the other hand, Jazz remained his usual self: relaxed and composed. The JLF were not aware of the fact that there were three Cybertronian veterans who were in their midst. Present circumstances didn't allow the Pretenders to act lest they expose themselves and blow their cover. He was tempted to try to sway the JLF captors but couldn't do so since the possibility of aggravating the Japanese soldiers would likely increase the chance of getting the civilians killed.

    Nina cowed alongside Milly and Shirley. Her reaction towards the Japanese was worsened by the fact that they were well-armed and ready to kill in order to achieve whatever their aims were. Jazz surmised that Prowl knew their present situation and was working on a rescue plan along with Marissa and her two field agents, who are still unaccounted for. Unbeknownst to the troops that occupied the building, the three disguised Autobots still had access to their neural voice comm circuits, giving the expeditionary team a first-person perspective of what was happening inside. A beep suddenly caught his audio receptors as Jazz slightly turned his head, pretending that he had some form of ailment. The static that was prevalent on the comm net soon cleared when the deputy commander's voice called to him.

    [Jazz, this is Prowl, do you read me?]

    [Loud and clear.]

    [Sitrep?]

    [Me, Sides and 'Streaker are grouped with the hostages in a food storage room about twenty-five to thirty stories up. For the moment we're okay but there's no telling what the JLF's gonna do next,] the special ops agent answered as he eyed his surroundings with caution.
    [Nightbeat and Spike are already on the scene. Right now Cosmos is in orbit tracking the movements of the Britannian and Japanese forces around your position.]

    [Cos is here? Never mind, might wanna make whatever you're going to do snappy. I'm telling you, these guys are itching to kill. Is Marissa okay?]

    [We don't know. Communications have been silent, and we're still trying to contact her. Hopefully she's roaming free inside the hotel. Right now we're working on a mission to pull you and the rest of the team out.]
    [You'd be interested to know to Marissa found some records pertaining to a suspect that works for Fenette. Matter of fact, he's seated with the rest of us in here. What are we going to do about the civilians?]

    [Recovery of the data in her possession is our top priority.]

    [Prowl, we've got to do something. There's kids and elderly people in here!]
    Jazz never was fond of Prowl's silence when it came to tense situations like the one he and the twins were in.

    [We'll do what we can. In the meantime, sit tight and keep us posted of any changes.]


    ---


    Outer Perimeter
    Lake Kawaguchi, Area 11


    A massive crowd of onlookers were shocked at the chaos of the events inside the convention center hotel. Armed sentries formed a wall to prevent anyone from entering. Joseph and Spike strode through the population right towards the people in charge of security. From what the chief liaison could see, a detachment of Knightmares had weapons at the ready. They were placed behind the infantry that had already barricaded the path towards the main bridge which led to the hotel. The SEAL also spotted a gruff-looking figure that stood a little more than six feet in height and bore a facial scar across the bridge of his nose. He wore a maroon coat and had a mane of blonde hair. The NSA liaison guessed that whoever the man was commanded the Britannian garrison that formed the perimeter around the command post.
    Joseph, in a panicked state, shoved aside the numerous civilians that were part of the spectators. Spike pursued the official, remaining calm in the face of the current disaster. He had to leave Nightbeat behind so that exposure to the Britannian garrison remained minimal. After all, it only took a glance from the SEAL to notice that the situation was currently far beyond the pair's capabilities.

    About a mile out near the fenced area, Spike observed a large tracked fortress that with a bridge atop the vehicle and turret mounts positioned in different sections around it. The fortress was guarded by several Sutherlands armed with assault rifles in a U-formation that shielded the mobile base. The hoteljacking was big enough to warrant the attention of the local military.
    Spike didn't have to see that Fenette's mind was ridden in fear. Though the official held no qualms against the Japanese, the current hostage situation changed his outlook entirely. One of the armed guards who formed the perimeter blocked Joseph with his assault rifle. Fenette yelled in desperation as he tried to breach through, resisting the efforts of the security personnel holding him back. “Let me through! My daughter's in there!”

    “I'm sorry sir, but we cannot allow you to pass,” replied the guard, whose voice was by the helmet he wore.

    “I'm the economics advisor to Vice Minister Lowell! Let me talk to your superior right now!”

    “Joe, there's nothing we can do here. The military's got this in hand. Let's leave it to them for now,” Spike advised.

    “I don't care! I want to know if my daughter's alright!”
    Spike already concluded there was no reasoning with the Britannian prospector. He would've felt the same way if his child was in the position that Shirley was in right now. Moving away from the crowd until he was distant enough, he dialed his cell phone and donned his earpiece. Once the line connected he went straight at the Autobot deputy commander with a barrage of questions. “Prowl, this is Spike, I assume you've heard about the hoteljacking?”

    “Yes. It's looking pretty grim right now. Jazz and the twins are locked with the civilians in a concealed space on the hotel's upper levels at gunpoint. I suspect Marissa and her team are still free inside the building since they're unaccounted for, so we still have a chance of getting the rest of our people out. We also have Cosmos overhead to provide data feeds for us and maintain our comm links.”

    “Alright. What's the status of the hostages?”

    “They're safe for the time being. I've sent Mirage, Wheeljack, and Trailbreaker with agents Delacruz and Farmer to help you. The rendezvous coordinates have been forwarded to Nightbeat along with maps and structural blueprints to download into your PDA.”

    “Any indication of the number of hostiles that are inside?”

    “Based on thermal scans we estimate the JLF strength to be at least a hundred and fifty troops.”

    Spike raised an eyebrow at the announcement. “Did you just say a hundred and fifty?”

    “Affirmative. We've also received intelligence that the viceroy herself is over near the immediate area and is in command of the Britannian forces.”

    “Princess Cornelia? No wonder there's so many of the imperials here, since this whole ordeal seemed big enough to capture the attention of the government. Why aren't the Brits doing anything?” Spike wondered as he stared at the rampant activity right ahead. The guards remained unflinching in their position to prevent anyone from getting out or coming in through the main bridge that led to the hotel.

    “Chip hacked into the garrison's communications logs. Every rescue operation that the Britannians attempted has failed. I would surmise that based on the current situation the Japanese has measures in place to counter whatever any military action the Britannians take against them. Just recently the imperials sent a small contingent of Knightmares through the underground utilities tunnel, but they haven't checked back in yet. There's a possibility that we might have a hostile down there that will prevent us from entering the hotel unless we remove it.”

    “Which means we'll need to act in the Britannians' stead if they're not going to raise a finger,” the liaison concluded. “Prowl, I'm gonna make one thing clear: you're the overall boss of the expedition but since I'm the senior guy here on site I'm gonna have to call the shots. We are dealing with a very unstable element and I'll be damned if the Japanese start killing people with our guys stuck in the middle.”

    “Spike, are you sure about doing that?”

    “Like we got any other choice?”

    From the silence, the SEAL imagined the conflict that was going through Prowl's processor, which forbade harming humans. Spike on the other hand held no such reservations when it came to killing. It was a necessary aspect in his profession which he handled time and time again.

    “Alright, I'll leave the rescue operation in your hands,” Prowl said reluctantly.

    “You can access the utilities tunnel from outside but it will take you a little
    longer to get there since the Britannians are stationed above.”

    “We'll be waiting for the others at the tunnel,” Spike replied as he terminated his call.


    ---


    Royal Transport Vehicle
    Tokyo Settlement, Area 11


    Lelouch suspected that his half-sister Euphemia was amongst the hostages at Lake Kawaguchi. It was the only possible explanation which made sense to him why Cornelia didn't take any further action. The Shinjuku resistance members were arguing whether or not they should commit themselves to the situation and rescue the hostages from the grasp of the JLF.

    “It's a shame really. They had it coming to them,” a certain hothead named Tamaki blurted. In spite of him being a member of his group, the man's impulsiveness and violent tendencies slowly began to draw the ire of Lelouch. The terrorist was lucky that the ex-prince hadn't bothered to dispose of him
    yet. “I say we should just leave them to their fates.”

    Ohgi, a former schoolteacher turned freedom fighter, was conflicted as to what action they should take. On one hand he disagreed with the idea of interfering with the JLF and leave the civilians to their fate. Though his conscious clung at the fact that there were students amongst the hostages.

    There was no need to guess that regardless of age of occupation, the terrorist leader Kusakabe was intent on getting the political prisoners under Britannian custody freed by any means necessarily, which included sacrificing unarmed innocents.

    “I'm not so sure about that, Tamaki. Whatever they're hoping to achieve out of this will hurt them in the long run.”

    “What does it matter? Those people still Britannian!” Tamaki countered, his hatred of the oppressors of the Japanese ever apparent.

    “Ohgi, how many explosives do we have?” Lelouch inquired.

    “Enough to take down some armored divisions. What did you have in mind?” the man asked. He and all the other members of the Shinjuku cell turned to the caped individual whom they remained suspicious of regardless of their recent struggles against the imperialists. Lelouch had plenty of tricks up his sleeve to get themselves out of a bind whenever their backs were against the wall. Considering their experience working alongside him, they might as well have called the prince a sorcerer.

    “Round up some bombs and arm yourselves. We're going to the convention
    center hotel,” Lelouch said firmly. “There is something that I need to confirm.”

    “You can't be serious! The army's got the entrance under tight reins, and we'll never be able to get through to them!” Kallen protested hotly, unaware that Lelouch was formulating a rescue plan of his own. Thus, the Britannian progeny countered with a straightforward reply. “You're wrong.”
    The participants of the meeting were surprised at the definitiveness in his voice.

    “I will confront Cornelia and offer her a bargain she can't refuse. If what I suspect is true, then she will allow us to reach the hotel unharmed.”

    “How do you know she'll even let us through?” Ohgi asked. “She has the royal guard with her, and the likelihood of them killing us is high.”

    “Because I believe she has someone important inside that hotel,” Lelouch answered.
    Kallen gave him a quizzical look. “Someone important? Who?”

    “A person which she holds very dear to her. That is why we will go.”

    “And if she doesn't?” Ohgi inquired.

    “Trust me, she will have no alternative,” Lelouch grinned behind his mask.


    ---


    ASEEC Trailer
    Hotel Perimeter, Lake Kawaguchi


    Situated away from the G-1 mobile base where Princess Cornelia and her entourage operated in, Suzaku stood anxiously with arms crossed. He didn't take the news of the hoteljacking very well, since it was compounded by the fact that the girls from the student council were amongst the hostages inside. Desperation clawed at his conscious, as he wanted to help rescue them. Regardless of good intent, the viceroy herself was oblivious of the fact that he had friends inside the building.

    As the Advanced Special Envoy Engineering Corp's star pilot, Suzaku held no qualms about sacrificing himself for the defense of others. He was somewhat glad that he didn't go with them, but was also fearful of the fact that his countrymen were ready to kill the hostages at the drop of a hat.
    Lloyd Asplund, his sponsor and immediate superior in charge, were making adjustments alongside his assistant Cécile Croomy on a new weapon called the VARIS rifle. It was a hand-held blaster of great destructive capability, which could tear through the thickest of armor with its different munitions, including anti-materiel rounds.

    They still don't trust the Japanese... If only they could be more reasonable and see that I just want to help...

    Noticing the look on the test pilot's face, Cécile climbed down to the lower platform and stood alongside her compatriot. Having worked alongside her for only a few weeks, Suzaku regarded her as something of a sister figure. Before then he was the only child of Japan's last prime minister before the empire took over and colonized the island nation. If there was anything he needed now, it was a need for action. Standing idle and doing nothing while his classmates were at gunpoint was not something he would not tolerate, regardless of the reason for such a drastic measure.

    “Still worried about your friends inside?”

    “Very,” Suzaku told her truthfully. “I just wish that they'd understand that I'm not in this for the glory.”

    Cécile was sympathetic of Suzaku's plight. Even though he held the rank of warrant officer in the imperial forces, the racism against honorary Britannians like himself still dominated the behaviors and attitudes of the empire's military arm. Nonetheless, the boy adhered to his personal principles and hoped to change Britannia from within. One memory of his tragic past which haunted him time and again led him to his current mindset. He could do nothing but feel pity for his fellow countrymen, since he knew that what they were trying to accomplish would be fruitless in the long run.

    “I don't see the point of them doing this.”

    “It's understandable,” his female companion interjected. “Right now the viceroy is working on trying to get those civilians out.”

    Suzaku's impatience was wearing down upon him. “What could possibly keep them from doing anything?”

    “I'm not certain. But I did overhear that the viceroy is mobilizing her forces for an offensive action in the utilities tunnel below, so it's possible that we'll be at the forefront.”

    “Pray that they do it soon,” the young man said somberly.


    ---


    Utilities Tunnel
    Lake Kawaguchi, Area 11


    Nightbeat, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack and Mirage were parked at the entrance of the utilities tunnel farther away from where Cornelia's forces were located. Their position was camouflaged by a stationary holoemitter, which was placed within the center of the group. Two of the human agents, Delacruz and Farmer, unpacked a sealed metallic container and inputed their combinations into the locking mechanism. Spike stood beside them with arms crossed, dressed fully in his black suit used during the mission at Lukas International. The case opened fully and revealed an arsenal of gadgets and tools, including armaments to bring along for the rescue operation.

    “All right guys, listen up. We have six people inside the hotel, three that are amongst the hostages taken from the train. The Britannians got troops garrisoned in front of our objective, and we've got intel that the viceroy herself is also among them. The of purpose of her presence there remains unknown, and so far she hasn't shown any signs of further action. Since Agent Faireborn and her crew are still unaccounted for we'll be coordinating a mission to get our guys out,” Spike said stoically.

    “Trailbreaker, you'll move alongside Mirage and jam the communications inside the building while he conducts recon ahead of you to scout the enemy's position belowground. Wheeljack and Nightbeat will be running interference on the streets above in case the Brits decide to send their goons to interfere with us in the tunnel or anywhere else. We need to keep them away until we complete the extraction of our personnel.”

    “I managed to whip up some EMP grenades in case we come across any trouble,” Wheeljack uttered as he handed them to Mirage. “It's the best I could do on short notice, so don't let them go to waste.”

    “Our point of entry will be the utilities tunnel and the maintenance bridge which is used for supply trucks to ferry equipment and commercial goods. Since the cellulars and radios are gonna be jammed we're left with satcomm capability. Your voice comm circuits should be able to work with our gear, am I correct on that?” Spike asked Wheeljack.

    “Yeah. Since Cosmos is overhead our communications assets are interfaced through his systems which make our radio equipment cross-compatible with each other. It'll help us keep in touch with our people who are keeping tabs on the Japanese inside the structure,” the engineer answered up front.

    “Guys, I'm not going to lie to you: this is going to get ugly.” Spike noted. “I was hoping to avoid a confrontation with the Japanese but it looks like that it isn't going to happen. And if we're going to have to save the civilians and our people by weeding those terrorists out, so be it.”

    The three humans checked their weapons and loaded magazines into their Glocks equipped with flash suppressors. P190 submachine guns with integrated silencers and 40mm grenade launchers were hoisted to the sides of each man as they stuffed spare clips into their suit pockets and vests. Afterwards the trio hoisted their weapons onto their backs and donned their masks for the confrontation ahead.

    “Ready?” Spike said as collective nods from those that were present shook in agreement. “Alright then, let's move out!”


    ---


    Mirage rode through the tunnel in vehicle form at 50 mph. His form blended in with the environment as he advanced cautiously before he detected an unknown contact farther towards the entrance that led to the maintenance bridge.

    “Hang on, I'm picking up one hostile near the entry point. It's a configuration we've never seen before,” Mirage radioed in to the team, his optics peered at the target towards the far end of the tunnel.

    “Did it see you?” Spike asked.

    “Nope, my camouflage system's active so whoever is piloting that thing can't see me. Stand back, I'm going to disable it.”

    With stealth and precision the Cybertronian spy maneuvered his way through the tunnel. The massive black Knightmare which obstructed his path gave no indication that knew he was present, since he was invisible to its sensors. From what he observed it was a eight-legged vehicle with a massive cannon designed as some kind of linear artillery piece. Mirage opened his forearm module and pulled out the EMP grenade that Wheeljack gave him. He pulled out certain components and re-modified them for use in a shell casing for his sniper rifle. Once the weapon was fully assembled Mirage sighted his target through his scope, its victim remaining unwary of its fate.


    ---


    Inside the Raikou's cockpit the pilot and the gunner waited patiently for another victim to cross its path. The three Sutherlands they dispatched earlier proved a small but noteworthy victory for the Japanese Liberation Front.

    “I'm detecting an energy reading about 400 meters out,” said the gunner.

    “Out here?”

    It wasn't long before they heard the shot of a loud projectile that rang out from the distance. The impact of the round was felt as the mech shuddered slightly before it crashed into the ground. Showers of sparks flew all over them when the circuit boards fried. All at once the cockpit's instruments failed, including its emergency power supply.

    “The controls aren't responding!”

    “Radio the others!”

    “Communications inoperative! I can't reach anybody!”

    The pilot slammed a fist into one of the his seat's armrests. “Damn it!”


    ---


    “Enemy target disabled. You're clear to move.”

    Trailbreaker drove forward under the maintenance bridge area with his three passengers in tow. The agents conducted a another weapons check before they disembarked and stood under the area where they would make their entry. The Autobots and their compatriots glanced at the ceiling overhead. All of them donned their masks as they prepared for their trip onto the bridge.

    “That's a long way up,” Farmer observed.

    Spike turned to Delacruz. “You got the grappling gun?”

    The Hispanic NSA operative nodded in acknowledgment as he lowered his satchel on the deck and pulled the guns with the hooks and cables attached.

    “Trailbreaker, we're going to need a little hand,” Spike called out.

    The black mech lowered himself to get Spike and the two agents onto both his hands as an impromptu lifting platform. As he elevated his palms higher, Delacruz fired the grappling gun and latched successfully onto the maintenance bridge.

    “Be careful up there,” Trailbreaker advised.

    Spike uttered not another word, as the humans fastened their rapelling ables before they climbed up to underside of the maintenance bridge. The trio of NSA agents quickly scaled upwards and over the rails of the bridge as they proceeded towards the stairway which led the to the basement level. When they arrived at the door Spike leaned his shoulder against the wall and moved forward. He then snuck his snake cam quietly under it and connected the spying instrument to his PDA. The naval officer spotted black boots that were polished to a mirror-like shine at the toes. After peering further below, he observed that the guardsman was situated upright from the left at attention.

    After he completed his recon, Spike turned to the two agents and signaled them to back away, their weapons drawn with sights leveled at the door. He utilized another hand signal indicating that there was a single sentry standing watch at his post. His hand tested the door and noticed that it was unlocked. On the count of three, Spike slammed the door into the infantryman and knocked the hapless man unconscious. The NSA liaison pulled the man by the legs and dragged him back towards where the American operatives entered and tied him up with rope and muffled his mouth with a bandana cloth to keep him silent. The soldier was shoved into a janitor's closet to ensure that he wouldn't call for help from his comrades.

    “We're in,” Spike said as he climbed cautiously on the stairway to the first floor.

    Agents Delacruz and Farmer kept their fingers straight, their SMGs pointed downward to prevent each other from being struck by friendly fire, while at the same time staying sharp the moment they needed to bring their weapons to spare.

    “Spike, you read me?” called a voice through the SEAL's earpiece.

    “Ah Chip. Well, we're doing mighty fine over here. Save for the fact that we got numerous armed gunmen with a very angry disposition just itching to kill somebody,” Spike said in a joking tone. ”I take it you got some intel for us that we can use?”

    “Yeah. I just found out that the guy in charge is a lieutenant colonel from the Japanese army. Goes by the name Kusakabe. Apparently he's got an axe to grind with the Britannian government since they got a few political prisoners that they want freed.”

    “So if we cut the head of the snake the rest of the body will follow. Any idea where he's located at?”

    “The colonel's roving about for the moment. If you capture him, we may be able to get him to release the hostages.”

    “Being that there's more of the Japanese than us he's bound to be heavily guarded.”

    “I'm sure you can come up with a method or two to 'sway' him,”

    “Right,” Spike replied tersely. “I'll be keeping in touch.”


    ---


    Convention Center Hotel
    Lake Kawaguchi


    Masked by their balaclavas that they brought past the security checkpoint, Marissa and her two agents prowled through the hallways of the building, wary of the Japanese forces that were scattered in the different parts of the structure. With some daring, the three managed to procure assault weapons off of a few isolated troops. When they founded an office, the three conducted a breach and quickly shot down the defenders before they sweeped the area. They took a moment of reprieve to assemble a satcomm radio which they smuggled through the security checkpoint and prayed that their encrypted calls reached to friendlies that were on the way.

    “This is Agent Faireborn to any U.S. personnel within proximity please respond,” Marissa called out.

    The familiar voice of the NSA chief liaison rung through the radio's speaker. “Good to hear your voice, Marissa. Where are you right now?”
    Marissa checked the blueprints on her PDA to verify her team's position. “We're in one of the lounge areas, on the twentieth floor. What about you?”

    “We just entered the basement level and moving up. I'm going to need your help. Is Warren and McCormick with you?”

    “Yes.”

    “Find and seize control of the security office. We're going to an extra set of eyes to keep watch over the hotel cameras.”

    “Okay. Anything else?”

    “There's a man named Lieutenant Colonel Kusakabe who's leading the terrorists that have taken over the hotel. We need you to find his location and forward it to us.”

    “Will do. Any word on what's happening outside?”

    “Right now the Britannians got this place on lockdown. We got some folks from the base to help get you out.”

    “Are we going to do anything about the tourists and other civilians?“

    “At the moment, we're only here for Jazz and the twins. However, once we 'secure' the colonel's cooperation we should be able to get him to release the hostages.”

    Her earlier encounters with the Japanese during the day told her the contrary. “What if he refuses to budge?”

    “Oh trust me, I'll find a way to persuade him,” Spike answered with grim determination. Knowing the SEAL officer and his tactics, Marissa didn't even want to know what the liaison had in store for the terrorist leader. Her mind prayed that the civilians and the Pretenders led by Jazz were safe.


    ---


    Food Storage Compartment
    Convention Center Hotel, Lake Kawaguchi
    “You. Your name is Jerome Snyder, correct?” one of the soldiers questioned loudly.

    “That's right. What about it?” Jazz answered impassively.

    “There are three other passengers on the guest list that were with you. Where are they?”

    Jazz decided to feign ignorance at the whereabouts of Marissa and her team. “Don't know what you're talking about, man.”

    The reply which Jazz gave was responded in kind with a hit to the face by a soldier's assault rifle.

    “Take him away for interrogation!” the senior officer in the room commanded.
    Two soldiers walked to both sides of Jazz while he remain stunned and began to drag him by the arms out of the space.

    “Hey, let him go!” Sunstreaker demanded.

    “Stay where you are!”

    “You know, this isn't the first time I had a gun pointed at my face,” the yellow twin gritted at the JLF soldiers, his hands still interlocked behind his head.

    “Be quiet and show some respect, Britannian scum. Unless you want a bullet in the head.”

    Sunstreaker almost forgot the fact that he was organic on the surface. While weaker in this form, the threat of being shot by the Japanese soldier did not deter him. Instead, it made him scowl at the human for even trying to bother to intimidate the warrior, who had millennia of experience compared to the soldiers that were in the room. If he was anything other than an Autobot he would've torn the the man limb from limb. However, his fighting instinct did not permit him to kill humans, but the way that the Japanese kept them caged like animals tore away at his patience.

    “Stop this at once!” a feminine voice commanded.
    One of the JLF soldiers aimed his submachine gun at the offending speaker. She had hair which was the same color as cotton candy. There was an air of confidence which exhumed from the young girl as she took off her glasses.

    “Who the hell are you?” the soldier inquired.

    “You're addressing Euphemia li Britannia, third princess of the Holy Britannian Empire!”

    Her announcement among the hostages drew gasps and surprised looks all around. Jazz mentally cursed himself at the prospects of the tourists' current situation. He figured that since she revealed herself to the crowd she would be used as a means of bargaining for whatever the Japanese wanted out of the whole mess.

    “How brave of you. Bring both of them to the colonel. Perhaps we should make an example out of these two since they're obviously intent on defying us,” the JLF officer said. A Japanese soldier entered the storage compartment with a worried look in his eyes. The officer turned to the infantryman and asked what was wrong with him.

    “Sir, I tried radioing the colonel, but he hasn't responded. I also tried calling the others that are nearby but our radios aren't working.”

    “Hmm. I suppose we'll have to move them. Find the colonel and inform him that we've got two prisoners on the way. Let him know that Princess Euphemia is among the pair. I'm certain he'll be interested in using her to negotiate with the Britannians to release our countrymen from prison.”


    ---


    Convention Center Hotel
    Lake Kawaguchi, Area 11


    Navigating through the hotel's ventilation system felt akin to lab rats drifting around a maze. Spike and his team stopped at a point that led into a dimly lit space.

    “Looks like they were doing maintenance up here,” Farmer whispered.
    Spike hooked a rappelling cable to his belt. Together with Farmer and Delacruz, the NSA liaison was lowered slowly into the ventilation shaft. Inverted, Spike carefully fished out a convex mirror and angled it against existing light that came below the ventilation tunnel. From it he spotted a rifleman who was taking a break.

    “One hostile below at my six o'clock,” Spike said before he swung his body in a gymnast-like fashion onto the cable, his feet propped quietly against the shaft wall while he remained suspended above the unwary terrorist.

    “Say hello to the Sandman, jackass,” Spike grinned as he tightened his hold and snapped the soldier's neck. The twist of bone rung aloud with a sickening crunch as the man landed in a slump onto the restroom tiles. Farmer and Delacruz lowered Spike onto the floor before they composed themselves for their next course of action.

    “Did you really have to tell him that, sir?” Delacruz asked.

    “It's something I say to all my victims,” Spike jested cooly.

    “Heh. Saw it in a movie once,” Spike said truthfully.

    “Spike, this is Marissa. We've breached the security office. Colonel Kusakabe is located on the thirtieth level in the main conference room.”

    Pausing for a moment, the SEAL checked his PDA and groaned in disappointment as he looked at his group's present location. The complexity of the path they took forced the trio to navigate elsewhere, since the blueprints they were given showed no updates that parts of the ventilation system was modified or torn down to be changed. “Damn. We're still several floors down from where he's at.”

    “Chip here. I managed to tap into the power grid that connects to the hotel. I'll be initiating a shutdown of the building's power supply and force it on emergency power like we did at Lukas International. The UPS will last about forty minutes and set it on secondary lighting. Since the loss of communications for the Japanese forces is lost you got an extra edge to throw them off.”

    “Thanks, Chip. Remind me to get you a beer after this op is over.”


    ---


    Convention Center Perimeter
    Lake Kawaguchi


    Apprehension and doubts hung in the thoughts of the Shinjuku resistance group. While Lelouch maintained his insistence that his deal with Cornelia wouldn't fail, there was always the possibility (in their minds, at least) that the Britannians would turn back on their word and simply slay them all. However, they clung onto their faith that their leader would pull another miracle. And miracles was something that Zero delivered in spades.
    Three Gloucesters with lances moved forth in front of the news van. The one in front of the group had a white cape with antennae that protruded on the side of its factsphere helm. Air hissed as the cockpit compartment opened to reveal none other than Cornelia, who was more than eager to lay waste to the man who has slain the empire's third prince.

    “Zero, I'm rather surprised that you had the gall to show yourself here. So, are you an ally of the JLF? Or are you here to help us? Regardless, our priorities take precedence over whatever you are here for. Hence, for the death of my half-brother Clovis I shall avenge him here and now!” the second princess howled as she drew out a firearm which was a musket/handgun hybrid with a bayonet tip.

    Lelouch remained unwavering in his stance.

    “Cornelia, which do you prefer? Clovis, who is dead? Or Euphemia, who is alive?”

    The viceroy twitched at mention of her younger sister. Her mind raced on what course of action to take against the vigilante. Her musket pistol was aimed at his direction, oblivious of the fact that it was her half-brother Lelouch behind Zero's mask.

    “It is within my power to save Euphemia for you.”

    “What?” Cornelia answered.

    “I said I can save her!” Lelouch repeated firmly.

    Just as I suspected. The first task at hand is completed. You haven't changed, dear sister...

    “Alright, Zero. I'll order my forces to let you pass,” Cornelia bellowed. So that
    I will blast you along with the rest of those filthy Elevens into the lake as payback for the suffering you caused me and Euphy.



    ---

    “Spike, heads up: Zero's coming to the hotel,” Chip uttered through the SEAL's earpiece.

    “Zero? He's on his way here?” Spike called, astounded that the man even bothered to show up past the hotel's door.

    “Confirmed. Looks like he managed to finagle his way through the perimeter.”

    “Then I guess we'd better get a move on.”

    “There's another way through the ventilation system that you can navigate through to get to an ancillary hallway where there's only a few troops stationed.”

    “Copy that,” Spike said tersely, the urgency of the situation prompting his team to step up their efforts.

    Farmer and Delacruz exited the ventilation system with Spike coming out last. They were grateful that the lights were out, since they had night vision goggles propped in front of their faces. Five soldiers were spotted about thirty meters out. The NSA agents drew their pistols and blazed away at their targets, catching them unaware before they were felled under the fusillade of bullets. There was nothing more fearsome than enemies striking out from the darkness, with the SEAL being the most fearsome of the NSA trio. One of the soldiers who was still alive leaned against the wall and fired his SMG. The Americans hit the deck, with Spike dashing towards the shooter. He closed the distance and drew his combat knife. When he was up close to the infantryman he stabbed him in the heart, the Japanese man unable to break free of the chief liaison's strength before he collapsed onto the carpet as a corpse.

    After a security sweep, Spike directed to his agents: “I want you two to head to the security room and meet up with Faireborn and her team.”

    “What about you, sir?” Farmer inquired.

    “I'll have to do this alone. Zero is a very dangerous individual. There's no telling what he's intent on doing in this building. Hence, the less people involved, the less that. I intend to keep out of sight and try to get to Kusakabe's location before he does.”

    The two operatives were reluctant but obeyed the lieutenant commander's order. As the SEAL officer watched the two agents sprinted off into the darkness, he ejected a magazine and loaded a fresh one into his silenced Glock. He mentally prayed that he wouldn't have to face any more opposition towards his destination.


    ---


    Command Bridge
    G-1 Mobile Base, Hotel Perimeter


    Cornelia leaned on the tactical data display on the bridge of her headquarters. Since there was an impasse in regards to what action the Britannians should take, she figured that sending the ASEEC's Lancelot on a suicide run would weaken their enemy's position and allow her royal guard to breach and destroy the foundation block that held the hotel in place.

    “We can send that new Knightmare Frame through the utilities tunnel to take out that linear cannon that's blocking the path to our objective,” one of her officers advised.

    The second princess nodded at the suggestion. “An interesting idea. Since Zero is inside we can take him and the JLF out in one fell swoop.”
    Before the command staff could proceed any further, the lights within the bridge flickered intermittently. “What the hell? What's happening?!” the princess asked in an annoyed tone.

    “We're losing power to primary systems. Emergency backups coming on-line,” called one of the bridge crew.

    “Viceroy! We have intruders outside of the perimeter!”
    Cornelia couldn't believe her ears: everything around her was thrown into chaos. “What? What are they?”

    “They're Knightmare Frames of unknown configuration!”

    “Mobilize the royal guard!” Cornelia boomed to one of her lieutenants.

    “We can't, Your Highness! The launch bays won't open!”

    “Blast them open for all I care! How is this even possible?”

    “Some sort of interference is preventing our forces from moving. The only unit that we have available is the Special Corps.”

    That's where that Eleven is stationed.

    “It seems we have no alternative. Have the Special Corps deploy the Lancelot at once! And find out a way to get our Knightmares operational again and out in the open!”

    “Yes, Your Highness!”


    ---


    Knowing that the Britannians were thrown in disarray, Wheeljack fiddled with his hand-held remote as his figure was safely hidden out of sight. The holoemitter which he carried with him was coming in handy, since it disguised his position as foliage and trees. Its only flaw was that like the cloaking devices mounted on starships, they could be seen if the target looked at the camouflaged location up-close since the illusion fluctuated due to the energy surges coming from the device itself. His experimental electromagnetic limpet mine was working like a charm, interfering with the imperialist forces' electronics to keep them where they were.

    “There. That should keep them busy.”

    “Wheeljack, Spike here. What's happening out there?”

    “We got the Britannians locked down for the moment. They ain't gonna be moving for a bit, but they're not going to stay that way forever.”

    “Keep them at bay for as long as you can until we complete extraction. Remember, it's only a delay action.”

    “Oh, I've got some fun stuff in mind for these guys right here...” Wheeljack smirked sinisterly.


    ---


    ASEEC Trailer
    Hotel Perimeter, Lake Kawaguchi


    Thankful for the order to deploy, Suzaku went through the pre-checks on his mecha as he systematically activated his instruments. The suspended sakuradite cube gradually began to spin inside the Core Luminous, the energy from the mineral coursing across the circuitry throughout the advanced Knightmare. Curious as to what he was up against, Suzaku remained poised in seeking out the intruders and free his compatriots that were held up by Wheeljack's gadgetry so that the rescue could resume unimpeded.

    “M.E. Boost on.”

    While the Lanccelot's pilot began preparations, Cécile went her way in briefing the information to the test pilot promptly. “Warrant Officer Kururugi, here are the guidelines for your mission: intelligence indicates that there are two enemy contacts within proximity of central command. It is unknown if they have any affiliation with the terrorists that have seized the hotel. Since the bulk of the main force is held up, you are the only person on station that is available in ascertaining the location of these hostile contacts. Command instructs that you disable or destroy the contacts by any means necessary.”

    “Acknowledged. Standing by to launch,” the Lancelot's pilot replied.
    As the landspinners lowered beneath its ankles, Suzaku leaned the Lancelot forward into a starting position. From outside, one would guess that machine looked like a sprinter. Its body was angled in a manner which made it appear like a runner readying himself at the starting point of a track field. The Britannian Knightmare launched forth hunting for its unknown prey.


    ---


    City Limits
    Hotel Perimeter, Lake Kawaguchi


    Several miles away, the Autobots that were hidden within proximity of the Britannian garrison kept themselves out of sight. Suzaku had his eyes peeled for any irregularities. Despite orders from Cornelia to seek out and destroy the intruders, he decided to refrain from using his VARIS unless the situation warranted it. Civilians were populated throughout the entirety of the city adjacent to the G-1 command post.

    Huh, something doesn't seem right... Suzaku thought to himself.

    From his monitors and displays, he noticed terrain fluctuations. Growing an insatiable urge to satisfy his curiosity, he maneuvered the Lancelot on a northeasterly heading before a ripple emitted in response to his mech's contact of the anomaly. The white Knightmare pushed forward and spotted a mech with red and green trims on its chest plate. It knelt behind layers of trees, oblivious that Suzaku was right behind him. Sensing that something was wrong, Suzaku's target turned back to find that he managed to sneak in close proximity unnoticed before it was too late.


    ---


    “Oh, scrap...” Wheeljack cursed aloud, before he got caught up with an uppercut that made him land on the holoemitter, effectively destroying his camouflage. Disregarding his present task, the Lancia changed into vehicle mode and rode off into the night. As soon as he was far enough he initiated the self-destruct on the holoemitter to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. He groaned as his sensors picked up the enemy Knightmare which accelerated to keep pace with him.

    When he hit an intersection, Wheeljack swiftly executed a U-turn facing the Lancelot. The Knightmare's quickness surprised him. Whoever piloted the vehicle had immense skill, and the engineer knew he needed to pull some daring feats to throw his pursuer off-balance. An idea bumped into his processor as he grinned inwardly. His thought process was promptly interrupted at the rapidly closing distance of the white mecha towards him.

    “Who are you? Identify yourself!” the vehicle's pilot commanded.

    Wheeljack remained silent before shifting gears, as the white Lancia raced towards the Britannian mech up until he was barely within several feet and banked right into another part of the city. The engineer commended the pilot's persistence. He already knew that the human was not intent on giving up. But then again, neither was Wheeljack.

    [These limpet mines that you made are pretty nifty. How are you holding up?] Nightbeat radioed via voice comm.

    [In a word: awesome. This is actually kinda fun.]

    [Don't get too carried away now,] the detective warned.

    [Heh. Nightbeat, I'm just getting started.] Wheeljack chimed as he revved his engines and sped into the night. The Lancelot was in hot pursuit, launching itself into the air to once again into the Lancia's path. Changing gears, Wheeljack moved in reverse and fired shrapnel needles to throw Suzaku off balance. The projectiles exploded into dozens of filaments, which the Knightmare blocked with some kind of energy shield.

    You have got to be kidding me... Wheeljack thought in dismay.


    ---


    Suzaku grew perplexed at the sheer complexity of the movements of the vehicle which he was chasing. Whoever drove the car proved erratic but daring. Rather than using his VARIS rifle he fired his slash harkens from his wrist launchers to try to cut off any paths the suspect might take.
    He throttled his mech at full speed to keep pace with the unknown vehicle.

    “That driver's level of control is inhuman! Who the heck is he?” Suzaku said, his eyebrows arched into a look of surprise and annoyance.

    The civilians that filled the streets panicked at the sight of the Lancia, which used extreme care in its maneuvers and didn't hit any bystanders. The night proved to be an opportunity for the car's driver to pull some daring feats and shake off the Lancelot. Suzaku leaped forward and extended its hand to catch the vehicle, grabbing it from behind

    “Got you!”

    Suzaku clutched the car by the spoiler. The Lancia revved its engines with as much power as it could muster in order to escape the Lancelot's grip to no avail. A launcher unveiled in front of its rear windshield and fired a lightning arc shell, which unleashed a bolt of electricity that rippled into Suzaku's cockpit. The human operator shouted and yelped in pain as the duration of the attack pressed on. The Knightmare's grip on the car gradually loosened. Using this opportunity, the Lancia transformed into its robot form and kicked away at the Lancelot's arm to break the mech's hold on it. Afterwards it launched itself back up and sprinted forth as fast as it could before the machine turned back to glance and study its enemy, while Suzaku did the same.
    ---

    “Lloyd, are you seeing this?” the warrant officer asked, amazed at what he was seeing.

    A hint of interest accompanied the scientist's reply: “Indeed, this is quite a find. The way that this one performs is fascinating. It mimics human movement even better than what the military has thus far. I'm curious as to who the maker of that machine is.”

    “Lloyd! This isn't the time to pique your curiosity!” Cecile scolded aloud at her superior.

    “Hehe, sorry. Keep the recording going, chap. We're going to need to analyze it for study once the fighting's over. These designs are certainly very new, and the first instance in which I've seen either one of them. Of course, they're no match for the Lancelot,” the scientist said in an assured manner.

    I wouldn't be too sure about that. These Knightmares operate in a fashion much more efficient than what I've observed so far. Are there even pilots in those machines? Suzaku wondered to himself, questions cycling through his conscious as he went after the unknown machine.


    ---


    Wheeljack was locked in combat with the white Knightmare Frame, with the Autobot engineer on the losing end. Although his comrades considered him a capable fighter, he wasn't as competent in close quarters fighting in comparison to the Lambo twins. While the Lancia continued to resist the efforts of his attacker, the enemy Knightmare stood firm and launched a swift kick into the face that made the engineer wince in pain.

    “There's no point in resisting. It would be in your best interest to stand down and give up right now,” the unknown Knightmare's pilot told the engineer.
    Suddenly Nightbeat came to the rescue and managed to lock one of the white Frame's arms before he was thrown into the dirt of the park. Wheeljack swung a jab towards the white Knightmare's faceplate only to find it parried and receive a palm to his chest, knocking him onto the grass. As the engineer recovered himself back up he fired a few shrapnel shells from his shoulder mounted launchers, which the enemy mech evaded before he was felled again by a series of devastating blows. It accelerated forward and executed a spin-kick that sent the Autobot flying before the Lancia struck into the pavement outside of the park.

    Wheeljack's optics dimmed as he tried to shake off the effects of the numerous hits Suzaku landed on him. [By Primus, he's persistent...]

    [I warned you not to get too carried away now, didn't I?] Nightbeat scolded as he used his arms to prop himself back up.

    [Sorry, got lost in all the excitement. Look out!] Wheeljack yelled as he shoved the detective away from an incoming lance of one of the royal guard Gloucesters.

    A small group of enemy reinforcements from the outer perimeter of the city next to the convention center soon swarmed around the pair. Amongst the legion of newly arrived Knightmares was Guilford in his own Gloucester, who readied his lance for a death blow. Neither Nightbeat nor Wheeljack were intent on being caught or slain by the hands of human soldiers. The thought of them being picked apart before they were turned into scrap was very unwelcoming.

    “Stand down, Warrant Officer. We got the situation from here,” Cornelia's personal knight Guilford radioed to Suzaku. The Lancelot operator hesitantly complied as he moved his Knightmare away for the Sutherlands to close in. Weapons were drawn and sighted at the duo of Autobot interlopers.

    “I had the situation under control, sir.”

    “And for that we thank you. However, the viceroy commanded that we take over, since she wants to know about these new enemies of ours,” Guilford said before he turned to Wheeljack and Nightbeat. “Whoever you are, I have to commend your bravado in daring to fight the royal guard. Unfortunately for you, you have no chance of escape. I suggest you surrender yourselves peacefully and bow before the might of Britannian superiority.”
    The arrogance that went alongside the demand by Cornelia's knight annoyed Wheeljack. Pffft. Superiority my exhaust pipe.

    “I wouldn't be too sure of that: I still got one more surprise in store for you!” Wheeljack cried aloud as he fired his gyro inhibitor shells. The projectiles detonated in mid-air and sent a shower of sparks over the Britannian Knightmares. It was only a few seconds afterwards that the enemy pilots noticed that their tactical displays and instruments of their mecha began to malfunction and lose their balance. The resulting chaos made the engineer laugh at their predicament.

    “Hmmm. Dunno about the 'superiority' part that you've been bragging about, buddy. In my opinion you still got a long way to go,” Wheeljack chuckled as he blinked his optics.

    [I think now is a good opportunity for us to make a break for it, before we get any further in over our heads,] Nightbeat suggested wisely.

    Wheeljack nodded in agreement, the white Lancia and his blue cohort shifted back into their vehicle forms. They left the Britannians to pick up the pieces amongst themselves. Guilford initiated a manual override, which forcibly opened the back hatch of his Gloucester. He could only watch in disappointment as the pair of Autobot cars escaped far beyond the reach of the royal guard. These enemies that the empire have faced thus far were something entirely new. He and Suzaku had gut feelings that they wouldn't see the last of them.


    ---


    Conference Room
    Convention Center Hotel


    Spike reached his objective unimpeded. He lowered into the prone position and extended the spy cable through the vent as his modified cell phone fed a live picture of the conversation between Zero and Kusakabe. The lieutenant colonel had his blade sheathed in his scabbard in samurai fashion, with both hands placed atop the sword's handle.

    “Not good, I'm too late,” whispered the SEAL as he kept watch on Zero. “Prowl, you seeing this?”

    “Affirmative,” the deputy commander echoed through the liaison's earpiece.

    “Greetings, Colonel,” Lelouch said in earnest to the Japanese commander. “I'm glad we're able to meet like this.”

    “It's quite an honor to see the infamous Zero in person. Though I am curious as to why you wanted to see us.”

    “I was hoping we could talk in a calm environment,” the masked Britannian began briskly. “I would like you to join an organization that I am forming. Interested?”

    “Perhaps it would help if you took off your mask and revealed yourself to us.”

    “Of course. However, I do have one question: just what exactly do you hope to achieve from this course of action?”

    “I want the world to know that Japanese is not dead yet.”

    Lelouch sighed at the lieutenant colonel's answer. “How stale. Then there's no saving you.”

    One of the soldiers who was offended by the harshness of Lelouch's comment aimed his sidearm at the ex-prince. “What was that?!”

    “You live on antiquated thinking. If you expect to survive against the Britannians through that attitude, then there is no point in allying with you.”
    “What exactly do you mean by that, Zero?” Kusakabe inquired.

    “Simple. You're already regarded as sub-human in the eyes of the imperialists. Allowing people like yourselves in my organization would only undermine my vision of the future for this country.”

    “If that is what you think of us, then I shall cut you down right here!”
    Kusakabe quickly drew his sword and lunged at him. The Japanese riflemen remained at attention with their weapons drawn. It saddened Lelouch that these men would sacrifice their lives meaninglessly.

    Spike paid close attention to the action that followed. He heard an audible click which came from the ex-prince's mask and gave the command: “Die.”
    All of the JLF terrorists including the lieutenant colonel froze in place. The rims of their eyes glowed red as they turned their weapons upon themselves and followed the order without any resistance. Spike remained unflinching at the sight of the Japanese terrorists killing themselves. Though mentally he was horrified at what he had just witnessed. The 'discussion' between Zero and his hosts was promptly interrupted by JLF personnel intruding the space. One of the first soldiers that managed to barge in became shocked at what had just saw, and had his weapon pointed straight at the masked Britannian.

    “Colonel!”

    Annoyed at the intrusion, Lelouch fired off a round and struck the shoulder of the offending soldier. Behind him was the person whom he suspected was amongst the hostages. There Euphemia stood, composed but afraid. Alongside her was another person that Spike recognized as Jazz in his Pretender shell.

    “Zero,” she said, surprised at his presence.

    “Calm yourselves. The colonel and the others committed suicide because they realized how meaningless this operation was.”

    Lelouch, after many years of felt glad at the sight of a familiar face whom he held close to heart. His mind rejoiced at the presence of the girl whom he loved as much as Nunnally and his mother. However, he couldn't reveal his true identity lest he had to kill her in order to hide the truth. “Euphemia, you were willing to sacrifice yourself for the commoners. You haven't changed at all.”

    The third princess found the stranger's familiarity with her odd. She allowed the vigilante to continue to speak. Jazz was taken away alongside Kusakabe's subordinates outside the conference room by members of the Shinjuku resistance as they kept watch to prevent the meeting between Lelouch and his sibling uninterrupted. Cornelia's sister didn't know what Zero had in mind for her, and hoped that it wasn't anything that involved unnecessary violence like she witnessed earlier.

    “I heard that you're the sub-viceroy now, Princess Euphemia.”

    “It's not an appointment that I am happy with,” the princess answered in a frank tone.

    “No, it's because Clovis was murdered. That was my doing,” Lelouch recalled. The mention of his dead half-brother felt like acid waiting to burn. “He begged pathetically for his life to the very end. He pleaded with the same tongue that ordered the deaths of Elevens.”

    “So is that the reason why you killed my brother?”

    “No.”

    “Then why?” Euphemia demanded, seeking an answer from the masked man.


    ---


    Spike kept his eyes on the vigilante as the conversation between him and Princess Euphemia continued to unfold.

    “Because Clovis was an offspring of the Britannian emperor. That reminds me... You're one of his children too, aren't you?” Zero said as he aimed his pistol squarely in Euphemia's direction. In response, Spike chambered a round into his sidearm and aimed to shoot the Zero in the leg before the vigilante lowered his gun. “I suppose for now... I will spare you. Since you're free I am going to get you and the rest of the hostages out of here.”
    That's a relief, Spike contemplated as he de-cocked his pistol.

    “What about the Japanese?”

    “They have already chosen their fate. We'll simply leave them.”
    Whatever silence was broken by a beep from Wheeljack through his earpiece. “Spike, we've got a problem.”

    “What is it?” he whispered back.

    “The Britannians are going to send in troops any minute now. Me and Nightbeat are at our limit.”

    “All right. Marissa, are our guys accounted for?”

    “Affirmative,” the field runner acknowledged back.

    “Take our agents and withdraw now to the maintenance bridge through the basement.”

    “Copy that,” Marissa said. ”What about the hostages?”

    “If Zero's doing what he says he's going to do, we'll leave it in his hands for now. Too bad we won't be thanking him for it, though.”


    ---


    After Zero announced his intent to free the hostages, all of the NSA operatives eluded the occupying JLF through the hotel's ventilation system and backtracked to the basement level. Spike spotted something that was out of place along the walls and cistern sections of the hotel which originally wasn't there upon the Americans' entry into the building. Upon closer inspection, his eyes widened in recognition of the objects that were placed at the building's support beams. They had blinking red lights with no timers on them, which meant that they could blow up at any moment. Disarming them was pretty out of the question.

    “Bomb! Get out! GET OUT NOW!” he shouted aloud to the top of his lungs. Not wasting another second, Spike ran like he never ran before. Those hours doing long distance runs around the Shinjuku factory paid off as he dashed fast onto the rappelling cable and slid down, not giving a damn if his hands burned along the way.

    All around a cacophony of loud booming explosives went off and destroyed the upper floors. Gradually the hotel began to collapse when the outer side of the building blew up into dozens of fragments. Cornelia and Suzaku, who were displaced outside of the hotel's perimeter could only watch in horror as the building sunk slowly into the depths of the lake.


    ---


    Convention Center Hotel
    Lake Kawaguchi, Area 11


    The aftermath of the explosion left the hotel a smoking ruin. What arose out of the ashes shocked everyone who witnessed the scene through the news cameras and monitors across Tokyo. Those who had loved ones amongst the hostages sighed in relief at everyone who survived the endeavor unscathed. The hostages were scattered in a small fleet of inflatable craft that rode the surface of the waters around a white boat. On the bow of the vessel were several individuals clad in black uniforms, the majority of them wearing visors to shield their identities, with one caped individual in front of them. It was the familiar figure of Zero with his helmet and blue faceplate.
    Now is the perfect opportunity to reveal ourselves.

    “No need to fear, my dear Britannians. All of the hostages from the hotel have been saved. I, Zero, return them to you unharmed.”

    The lights around the Shinjuku terror cell lit up their vessel like a school play. All of the members remained stoic and poised as Zero took center stage.

    “People! Fear us or seek us, as you please! We are the Black Knights!” Zero bellowed with characteristic flair. The authoritative delivery of his speech shook the island colony to its core. All of the hostages that were rescued from the hotel watched with a mixture of awe and fear save for the three Pretenders who were amongst the survivors.

    “We of the Black Knights stand with all those who have no weapons to wield! Regardless whether they be Elevens, or Britannians. The Japan Liberation Front cowardly took innocent Britannian civilians hostage, and they mercilessly executed them! It was a wanton and meaningless act. Therefore they have been punished! Just as former Viceroy Clovis was punished for the slaughter of countless unarmed Elevens, we could not stand by and allow such cruelty to be carried out, and so we made him pay for his actions!”

    “The only ones who should kill are those who are prepared to be killed! Wherever those who abuse their power by attacking those who are powerless, we shall appear again. No matter how mighty, how formidable our foe may be.”

    And now for the final touch.

    “Those of you with power, fear us! Those of you without, rally behind us! We, the Black Knights shall be the ones who stand in judgment of this world!”


    ---


    Utilities Tunnel
    Lake Kawaguchi, Area 11


    Both Spike and Marissa recovered and got back on their feet. The explosion caused the hotel to gradually sink to the lake's depths. It was an opportune moment for the Autobots to break way while the Britannians were still preoccupied with the aftermath of the explosion. Spike and Marissa pulled off their masks off to get some air.

    “You okay?”

    “Yeah. I got something you might be interested in,” Marissa huffed as she drew a disc out of her vest and handed it to the SEAL officer.

    “What's this?”

    “It's a fragment of a NOC list.”

    “A fragment?”

    “They only contain code names, professions and photographs. The real names and their locations are blocked with an encryption that I couldn't break. When I was sifting through I spotted something that you're familiar with. Remember that pilot we encountered back in Shinjuku?”

    “What about him?”

    “He was listed on here under the alias 'Husky'. It said for his file that he was a reservist but also operated as a mechanic for a factory in Tokyo.”

    “Hmm. We'll have to head back to base and see if the guys can help us in decoding the data. Come on, let's jet,” Spike said, moving on to the light that led them back on the route to freedom.

    End of Chapter 7
     

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