When the group assembled again, it was a very excited affair. Black Mask had settled in to his duties very well. He looked at the various leaders of the various resistance forces, choosing those that he saw potential in. There were programs to help get the people involved, keeping with their tier structure that they were using. Winter’s Shadow was now becoming a rather respectable army. It was a good day, for those involved. As the lieutenants and commanders gathered, Wolf gave new code-names for their newest additions. The man in command of one contingent of forces was given the name Two-Face, as it was a reputation that he had had when he was in the police, for working both sides of the law. A schemer, but useful, for their purposes. Next, there was Catwoman. She was a deadly and sneaky leader, who preferred subtle work to straight-up attacks. Then there was a younger man, affiliated with the Church. He was an excellent warrior, who refused to lead his men from the back. He made sure that he was with them on the front lines. Wolf felt a lovely bit of irony naming him “Azrael.” But above them all, there was a man who had risen above the ranks. He was an ex-military commander, who was built like a tank, but it was all-natural. The man wore a prosthetic on his face, which kept him from having damage to a burn. It brought the mind of another character she had seen. They called him “Bane.”
With all their lieutenants gathered, they brought up a map of Canada.
Wolf took her place at the head of the table. “Alright. Now that we’ve got everyone here, we have a lot to discuss. Our effort to bring war to the Empire has gotten tons of support, and we are finally getting their attention. Now, we have a real war ahead of us. The Imperials are moving fast to fortify their bases, along with Ottawa.”
Two-Face nodded. “Makes sense. The capital is obviously going to be the hard target. No way that we can call Canada free without it.”
Wolf shook her head. “I disagree. The old city has literally been built over with that technical monstrosity that they call the ‘Upper City.’ Those below are treated like slaves.”
“With the Specials ripping them to pieces!” Catwoman snarled. There were murmurs of agreement through the group.
“Exactly!” Wolf agreed. “Which is why that will be the last place that we liberate. We have also learned that two of the Knights of the Crown are there.”
“With the Emperor’s daughter!” Ghost chimed in.
There were murmurs of discontent.
Azrael looked up. “The Knights of the Crown have more bodies on them than a Chinese cemetery! The Lord may guide me, but I sure as hell don’t hear him saying to jump into that maw.”
Wolf nodded. “Sounds like your god speaks sense. He’s right. Going after Ottawa would be a fool’s errand, and one we wouldn’t live to see the other side of, with reinforcements just hours away. No, we have to look to the bases on the Pacific.”
Bane, who had been quiet, sat forward. “Why there?”
“Because we need to have a safe route for the new toys that Luthor is sending us. They should be arriving any day now.”
“They are arriving now, boss!” Oracle chimed in.
Outside, there was the sound of vehicles pulling up. Large cargo transports. From one of them, stepped a young Japanese woman. She had short hair, dark eyes and a look of bemuse giddiness. Like she was thinking of a good joke. With her was a very large team of people, all of them specialists in the work of various tech. All loyal to the corporation that had sent them, and the man who had given them this assignment. To be close to a war zone, some of them were worried. But the woman with them, she was excited. Unbelievably so.
The door to the hangar opened, with Wolf stepping out. “Ah, Miss Nakatomi. It’s good to see you!” The two shook hands.
“Likewise, Wolf! I see that what they say is true. You hide your face beneath a mask. Well, no matter to me. I have my orders.” She looked over at Gabby, smiling. “Ah, the woman who I was to code the NANO Armor for. What did you think?”
Gabby blushed a little. “It’s incredible! I’ve never felt anything like it! But…” She blushed even more.
Wolf smiled beneath her mask. “There is a slight issue with the interface skin for the suit, but we’ll talk about that privately.”
Gabby nodded her head in thanks. Wolf nodded back.
“So, I mean to have you team up with my technical expert. I gave him the code-name, Riddler.”
Riddler stepped forward, holding out his hand. “It’s an honor to meet you, Miss Nakatomi. Your reputation precedes you.”
She shook his hand, bowing slightly. “As does yours.” She turned to face the rest, knowing who each of them was. Wolf made sure that Oracle briefed her. “I come on behalf of Ayato Kusaragi! He has contracted my services to you, and I bring you lots of new toys for you to make trouble with!”
The transport trucks’ sides collapsed, showing row after row of armor suits, in the same vein as the ones that Gabby wore.
“As the commanders of the various segments of your army have been made, I have been working on NANO suits for each of you. I will be fine-tuning their design to suit each of your needs in battle. But don’t think that I am just going to leave the common soldier out in the cold to get shot.” Another truck had the sides collapse. Inside were suits of body armor, much in the same vein as Deathstroke’s. “Polymer suits of my own design! They can take bullets from almost any conventional military weapon. Integrated helmets that can be modified for most battle tactics and to go with it…” Another section opened, showcasing a broad assortment of guns and blades. “The best military tech than money can buy. We’ve only got about 200 of these, so choose who wears them well, among your various commands. I also have about 100 of the stealth suits that I can see Aveline and her people in.” She looked at Ghost. “Well, a rudimentary cloaking device, made for arctic conditions!” She looked at Riddler. “Your design?”
That got her looking at him fondly. “Well, I think that you and I are going to get along just fine! Now, we will be fine-tuning each of these machines to work with you down to the smallest detail! My technicians will guide you through the basic functionality. I’m sure that our young pilot can tell you how intuitive the design is. Now I just need to know your combat style, and we’ll go from there.”
Wolf was impressed. So were the rest. “Alright, when we’re done flushing out the rest of the battle strategy, I will have you all go with…” She thought for a moment. I need a codename for her. Seeing her eyeballing the suits, it hit her. “Brainiac Yeah, I think that that will do just fine.”
Judging from the look in the woman’s face, she took no issue with it.
The meeting concluded, with the commanders knowing their tasks. Black Mask was fitting right in as a commander. Wolf’s words, and his backing got the trust of the various resistance groups. It was a thing of beauty. Their army was now over 5,000 strong, and getting stronger every day.
“Alright, you all have your assignments. Get fitted for suits, then get ready for battle! We move in five days.”
“Yes ma’am!” They dismissed, when Brainiac’s people got to work. The woman herself stayed behind, seeing Gabby not go far.
“So, you said that you needed to see my privately involving our young friend’s armor. What is the issue?”
The girl was shy, but she didn’t let Wolf take over. “It’s the skin I wear to integrate with it. It’s…kind of tight on the chest.”
That got Brainiac’s attention. “I see. My measurements were wrong. That will be a problem. Comfort of the pilot is key to working well with the armor. If you would, I’ll get new measurements in the command vehicle.” She looked to Wolf. “Is there a place where we can have some privacy?”
Wolf nodded. “On the second level of the back section, there are rooms for getting dressed. They should serve your needs just fine.”
“Excellent! Now, come with me, Miss…?”
Gabby held out her hand. “My codename is Firefly. Outside of the suit, just call me Gabby.”
The machinist smiled. “I like Firefly better. And it goes with the armor suit well. Tell me, is there a color scheme you would like it painted?” They kept talking as they headed out. Wolf leaned back in the chair. It was going to be a long week, but the war was starting in earnest. New commanders, a new army, it felt like a new day. But now, she had places to be.
Emily got to the base in time to see the Colonel mobilizing their forces. “What the hell’s going on?!”
He ran over, smiling. “We just got word! Doppelganger’s alive! He made his way out of the enemy base and got in contact with us! Word is, he’s none too pretty, but alive!”
Her heart soared. “Where is he?!”
“He said that he would be coming in shortly. He knows the way.”
Then it hit her. “Sir, I’ve got to get on the horn. There’s somebody else who will want to know.”
Amelia sat in the government building, staring out at the vast technological marvel that was built over top the city. It was like a plat above it, with some holes for transportation. The city was now a fortress, able to withstand any kind of attack, even from the Empire’s airships. It was a marvel, to say the least.
Gerard came in. “M’lady, call in for you. The young woman said that it was very urgent!”
She perked up. “Young lady? Is it Emily?!”
He nodded. “It is, m’lady. She’s waiting for you on the main line.”
She almost knocked over a table running to the phone. “Emily!”
“Amelie, I’m so glad to hear from you. With all that’s been going on, I was worried that you might have gotten caught up in all this too.”
The princess smiled, sitting down. “I’m safe as can be, here. So, what’s this news that I was told you had.”
“It’s Doppelganger! He’s alive! Hurt, but alive!”
In an instant, she felt her heart stop. “He’s alive!” She nearly dropped the phone. “Oh thank God!” Tears formed in her eyes. They had one night, and he said that it couldn’t happen again, but he was still important to her. He was the first person to treat her like an actual person, not a queen on high. “Emily, keep him there. I’m coming over!”
“You got it!”
She hung up the phone, standing up fast. Gerard gave her a cold look. “M’lady, no way! The entire country is in chaos!”
“That is why I have you and Cecil to protect me! Now, I’m going to that base! If you wish for me to be safe, you can accompany me, but don’t think for a second that you’re going to stop me!” The anger and passion in her voice said it all.
The man nodded. “Alright, but please, let us at least get into gear. Can you hold off long enough for that?”
She cooled down. “I can. Thank you, Gerard.”
“Of course, m’lady.”
Doppelganger looked like he had been worked over by a biker gang when he stumbled into the base. Emily and a team of medics ran over. She hugged him tight.
“Oh god, Gabe! I was worried sick!” She looked over his bruised and battered face. “Jesus, what happened to you?! I thought that you could heal damage when you shift?”
The man chuckled, coughing a bit. “Yeah, we can. You should have seen me when I started. Wasn’t much left that was human.”
The Colonel walked over as he was set onto a gurney. “What happened, Doppelganger?! How did they figure you out?!”
He let out a long sigh. “They didn’t. They already knew! They knew right from the beginning! Wolf really is as smart as she is made out to be. Had me pegged the moment she clapped eyes on me.” He groaned in pain. “I’m sorry, sir. I held out as long as I could. Turns out, she’s a patient bitch, too. Her people worked me over for days. I shifted the damage away as much as I could, but they kept at it! For each hole I closed, they opened two new ones. After a while, I just couldn’t keep up.”
The man nodded, taking it in. “How did you escape?”
“Blind, stupid luck! Got one of her people to get close enough for me to touch. Guy just so happened to be VERY short, so his hands were able to get outside of the binds. I slipped out and dragged my ass here. The rest, is history.” He laid back on the gurney as they wheeled him to the medical bay.
The Colonel looked at Emily. “Jesus Christ. It’s like that bitch knows our moves before we make them! I don’t get it!”
Emily thought for a moment. “There is a leak somewhere, sir. It has to be! I mean, she can’t be that smart.”
The man snorted. “Maybe. But if she is, then we are dealing with a commander who can measure up to Prince Adam!”
The two didn’t speak. The implication was huge. An enemy who could stand tall to the Empire, and who could be a genuine threat to their best commander. It was terrifying to think about. They didn’t want to.
Amelia ran to the medical wing, bursting through the door. With here was a man, in a NANO suit, which was white, with gold on the faceplate. It had two blades on it, each seemed to have a glow going through them. The armor was very much like that of a knight in an age gone by, with the technology of today giving them form. The second was a suit of dark blue and white, but this one was odd. It had a large section of the back that also had a glow going through it. As if there were pieces that detached from it. The faceplate of this one was cold, with two glowing blue eyes. It was like a pale mask. Occasionally, a glow pass through it of the same color, following lines in the faceplate.
The princess got to reception. “Where is he?! Where is Doppelganger?!”
The people there stood up fast. “He is in room 54, your highness! Down the corridor to your left!”
She took off without responding, bursting through the door to his room, seeing him on the bed. The man looked over at her, smiling.
“Well now, there’s a face that I never thought that I was going to see again.”
She ran over, taking him in her arms. Her lips met his with fire and passion. “I was so scared! I thought I had lost you! I know what we agreed on, but dammit, I can’t just let you go!”
He smiled at her as they parted lips. “It’s okay, Amelie. After what happened, I just don’t give a shit about what is the right and wrong thing to do.” They held each other. Outside, the two Knights watched.
“Is this kosher, Gerard? I mean, really, is this bad?”
The man snorted. “Yeah, like we’re going to cross Amelia! Career suicide is the best-case scenario if we do that! We’re tasked with guarding her, not looking after her love life.”
The woman nodded, leaning against the wall. “This shit is getting really complicated, and way too damn fast!”
“I hear ya. Seems like only yesterday, we were at the Lab as kids. Now, we’re Knights of the Crown, in the middle of a war that I can’t see any easy way out of. I mean, these people found out one of us! A shape-shifter, to boot. How do you beat that?!”
Cecil snorted as well. “I’ll let you know when I figure it out.”
“Until then, we have our orders. And I must say, she looks happy with him. Very happy.”
Back in the room, Amelia climbed into bed with Doppelganger, his arm going around her. Now, let’s see what the Empire’s next move will be! Since I won’t be able to do what I am tasked to do, I will say that I am being reassigned. This will let me stay close to Amelia, and have an ear to what the Empire’s next move will be. I will beat them at their own game! A smile came to Doppelganger’s face, but it was much darker than it was before.
Until next time, a quote,
“What do you do when there is an evil you cannot defeat by just means? Do you stain your hands with evil to destroy evil? Or do you remain steadfastly just and righteous even if it means surrendering to evil?” -Lelouch vi Britannia, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion